QCOSTARICA – “I would call it significant,” was the monetary contribution made by the United States government for the attention of the Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica, waiting to be able to continue northward, since last November.
This was revealed by U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, in an interview earlier this month with La Nacion speaking on the transfer of the Cuban migrants by air to Mexico.
According to the Ambassador, the U.S. contribution to the Government of Costa Rica made an international request through the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
“We as a country participated in this request through the organization. Through the State Department of Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, we donated to the IOM, which is already coordinating with the Government of Costa Rica. Through the IOM we also want to help to see how we can strengthen the Costa Rican immigration system.”
The Ambassador did not say how much the U.S. contribution was.
So, while the Cuban migrants themselves had to pay for the ground transportation, airfare and visa fees, the U.S. indirectly helped pay for the accommodations of the almost 8,000 Cubans, becoming stranded in the country when Nicaragua closed its borders to them, blocking their land travel route that began in Ecuador (after arriving from Havana by air), and then through Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, with their final destination the U.S. border.
Since then, Ecuador returned to requiring a visa for Cubans.
While waiting for a diplomatic solution to what was being called the ‘Cuban crisis’, Costa Rica set up shelters near the Nicaragua border, in the community of La Cruz, where they waited.
Some of the Cubans took their chances with the ‘coyotes’ (smugglers) to cross into Nicaragua (and then move forward north). Some returned to Costa Rica after being scammed.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica broke ties with the Sistema de Integración Centroamericana (SICA) – the Central American political body – when it refused to help the country in dealin with the crisis.
In January, the firs, called a pilot flight, of Cuban migrants left Costa Rica, landing in El Salvador and then bused to Guatemala and the Mexico border, where they were given a 20 day visa to reach the U.S.
Earlier this month, Mexico changed its stand on only receiving the Cubans by way of a third country, allowing direct flights from Costa Rica to Nuevo Laredo, near the U.S. border.
Under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, Cubans on reaching the U.S., cannot be refused entry and are given full access to welfare benefits.
The final destination of many of the Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica, is Miami, Florida.
Contrary to some reports, Costa Rica granted the Cuban migrants a temporary visa, making their permanence in the country legal.
It’s not clear whether U.S. government is also supporting the Cubans in Panama while they wait their turn to fly to Mexico and then cross over to the United States.
Source: La Nacion