QCOSTARICA – African and asian migrants in Costa Rica are demanding they are given the same visas granted Cuban migrants.
With banners and chants, a number are protesting at the immigration offices in San Jose, to resolve their situation, ensuring that their numbers will grow.
For her part, the deputy director of immigration, Gladys Jimenez, defended the authority’s issuing of visas to Cubans by saying “the irregular migration flow of Cubans is not new”.
This year the immigration service has granted some 13,000 Cubans transit visas, while issuing ony 5,000 the previous year and 300 the year before that.
Jimenez explained that Costa Rica is required to issue the transit visas, that “it is not permission to remain in the country … the number exceeds the norm, we cannot deport them to Panama or the country of origin (Colombia and Ecuador, for example) because they won’t receive them, except that they have committed a crime.”
The deputy director insisted that the borders will be open to arriving Cuban migrants, depending on the need, allowing them passage through the country, from border to border.
Jimenez stressed that the Cubans have no aspirations of staying in Costa Rica. “They have gone through difficult situations in all countries they have crossed, their intention is not to stay,” says Jimenez.
The official added that the Cuban situation is “an exception to the rule”, they are not people just claiming to want passage through the country. “We haven’t opened the gates. All is controlled,” said Jimenez.
In a report by Manuel Estrada for the Diario Extra, the reporter says he spoke to one of the “coyotes” (people smugglers) in Costa Rica, who told him that, here in Ticolandia, unlike in places like Colombia where the migrants are fleeced, they are provided with meals for US$2, lodging for US$10 per night, transportation for US$40 and fake papers (documentation) if they want.
The coyote says they see the Cuban migrant situation as a lucrative business, as helping “a desperate people looking for the American dream” and have been doing this for some time.
The coyote ends the conversation by saying that immigration officials are manipulating the information and they “say a lot of bullshit”.