QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica granted refugee status to 249 Cubans in the first four months of this year, a considerable increase compared to the 48 it granted all of last year.
According to the latest figures published by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) – Costa Rica’s immigration service, in the majority of cases it is of people arriving in the country from Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Although Cubans historically did not belong to one of the migrant groups that benefit most from refuge in Costa Rica, the rise in numbers may be related to the special asylum category, which began to be implemented last November and which the Costa Rican government decided to expand on July 29, 2021.
Applications to opt for this special humanitarian migratory category may be submitted until February 28, 2022.
The process takes into account migrants from Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua who “have applied for refugee recognition after January 1, 2010, and before March 18, 2020” and remained continuously in the country during the same period.
Despite the increase of refugees in the first four months of the year, the Cuban Embassy in Costa Rica informed Radio Monumental “that these are not persecuted citizens” and that they left Cuba legally.
“(Cubans) are not leaving a nation at war, are not in danger of death, nor do they meet the characteristics to be refugees, but they only seeking to settle in the United States,” the Embassy insisted, according to the Radio Monumental report.
However, the DGME stated last year that the special asylum category was implemented because, since 2014, Costa Rica has registered a dramatic increase in refugee applications from Cubans, a group that is “changing its migratory behavior” and seeking to settle in the country.
With the extension of the special asylum category, Costa Rican authorities intend to provide migrants with legal residence in the country and facilitate the corresponding documentation so that they can legally work in the country.