On Tuesday, the Minister of Security, Micheal Soto, announced tight restrictions in cantons and districts bordering Nicaragua, to contain migrants, with a strict vehicular restriction that applies every day from 5:00 pm to 5:00 am.
The Ministry of Security identified 10 areas that border Nicaragua, in an attempt to prevent the entry of illegal migrants that increase the risk of the spread of covid-19 in Costa Rica.
The vehicular restrictions that begin at dusk and end at dawn will eliminate the dark of night to move migrants and applies to all vehicles.
Soto added that the new provisions come after “intelligence information” revealed the existence of night movements of people who enter illegally from Nicaragua.
“What does that mean? That whoever is circulating at that time perhaps, as we have discovered, is moving people illegally,” said the Minister.
With the new measures, he added, Police will have a greater margin of maneuver to displace and use the available resources.
The prohibition applies at the same time for navigation on five rivers or channels on the northern border.
Health Minister, Daniel Salas, explained that the intention is “to limit, prevent or hinder the transmission of the virus” and the formation of larger clusters (conglomerates of cases) in the country.
“There are certain regions that due to their location and population dynamics, have an increased risk of clusters. And that’s why the decision of that type of restriction is made,” he argued.
The extended vehicle restrictions apply only in the bordering areas:
- Guatuso: complete canton.
- Upala: complete canton.
- La Cruz: complete canton.
- Los Chiles: complete canton.
- Río Cuarto: complete canton.
- Guacimo: only in the Duacarí district.
- Pococí: districts of Colorado and Colonia.
- San Carlos: Aguas Zarcas, Cutris, Pital and Pococol districts.
- Sarapiquí: districts of the Plains of Gaspar and Cureña.
- Siquirres: Pacuarito and Reventazón districts.
The restriction in that time slot will also be applied for navigation in the following rivers: Rio Medio Queso and Rio Frío; and channels: Tortuguero, Colorado and Sarapiquí.
“Nicaragua has community transmission. We have not reached that status, we must continue to focus on our status (Costa Rica is in phase three, where there are clusters of identified and isolated cases),” said Salas.
The situation has forced the country to reinforce, as much as possible, surveillance on this 309-kilometer border, where there are mountains, rivers, and beaches.
According to Michael Soto, every day, some 200 people try to enter the country through this sector. As of May 27, he said 13,111 people were detected and prohibited from entering, and that number increased to 14,000 on Tuesday night.
The Minister rejected the existence of a massive illegal entry.
What is of concern to authorities is the “coyotaje” or human trafficking that is a modus vivendi (way of living) for many who charge between ¢5,000 and ¢40,000 for guiding foreigners from the border limits to a safe place where they can take a bus and enter the country.
The Ministry of Security assures that it uses light planes and drones for the surveillance of illegal migrants on the northern border.
Countrywide vehicular restrictions
The daytime vehicular restrictions applied to the entire country is maintained from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm weekdays, based on the last digit of the vehicle’s license plate and 5:00 am to 7:00 pm weekends, even restricted on Saturdays and odd on Sundays. The nighttime is from 10:00 pm to 5:00 am weekdays and 7:00 pm to 5:00 am on weekends.