QCOSTARICA – Now that the first 180 Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica are in Mexico, on their way to their final destination, the U.S. border, the next group of the nearly 8,000 will be made up mainly of families with young children.
That is the word from authorities in Costa Rica who are waiting on the results of the “technical” meeting to assess the results of the first trip earlier this week, before setting a date for the next flight.
The Cuban migrants in Costa Rica, waiting to continue forward to the U.S., are in small community of La Cruz, some 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the Nicaragua border.
However, not all are in La Cruz. According to government estimates “a significant number” of the 7,802 Cubans who entered the country with a special visa, have chosen illegal passage through Nicaragua.
The exact number of how many have chosen to go with coyotes (smugglers) or on their own (the latter in the minority) is unknown to the authorities.
Kathya Rodriguez, head of immigration, said the number they are working with is about 5,000 of the 7,802 Cuban migrants in Costa Rica contemplating the trip by air to El Salvador or Honduras arranged by the government.
“Iit is clear that the two thousand or so Cubans who are not in shelters are not staying in hotels or houses of Costa Ricans (…): according to deputy minister of the Interior (viceministra de Gobernación), Carmen Muñoz.
Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez added that many of the Cubans “were tempted to leave by way of the coyotes“.
Costa Rica’s immigration service reports that some 600 Cuban migrants, crossing into Nicaragua illegally between November 15 and December 30, were returned to Costa Rica by Nicaraguan soldiers
The Cuban migrants have been stranded in the country since mid-November when Nicaragua closed its borders to them, truncating the land crossing that began in Peru, to Colombia, a short boat ride to Panama and through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.