(QCOSTARICA) While humanitarian organizations continue pressuring Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega to let in the more his 600 compatriots waiting desperately at the doors of their homeland, Costa Rica has taken the initiative to announce that it allow back in all those rejected by their country in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since Monday, July 20, when the first group of some 100 arrived, to today’s estimate to be almost 600 Nicaraguans, waiting in desperation at the door to their homeland, braving the hot Guanacaste sun, the rains of the season, hunger, thirst and all sharing one toilet.
Over the weekend, the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH) denounced that the Daniel Ortega regime is violating Nicaragua’s Constitution by preventing the entry of his compatriots.
In a statement, the CPDH indicates that “among them children, pregnant women, young people and the elderly, who since July 18 have endured the sun, rain and sleep in cardboard, claiming their constitutional right to enter their country”.
The CPDH says that Article 31 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua establishes “Nicaraguans have the right to move and fix their residence in any part of the national territory; to enter and leave the country freely”.
Yet, the Sandinista regime had held firm that the requirement for them to enter is a negative COVID-19 test, a measure not consistent with the economic difficulties faced by Nicaraguans who decided to return.
“If they do not have money for food, housing, and health, how will they have money to pay a test whose cost is greater than US$100 dollars,” the CPDH points out.
“Nicaragua should guarantee the orderly and controlled entry due to the pandemic and guarantee access to the test to people who consider that this test should be performed, these people do not have help from their relatives in Nicaragua, nor help from their relatives in Costa Rica,” explained Denis Darce, Executive Secretary of the CPDH.
And while it could be said this is not Costa Rica’s problem, that the Nicaraguans have completed the migratory process, that is checked out of Costa Rica, and it’s now up to their country to deal with it, Ortega’s refusal to budge has somehow become our problem.
To ensure that more Nicaraguans don’t reach the border without the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results of not more than 72 hours, Costa Rica’s immigration decreed last Friday that the COVID test is required to leave Costa Rica.
But what of the ones already in between borders and Nicaragua continues to reject them?
Costa Rica has no choice to let them back in if they want to. This is written in stone, so to speak, reflected in the “General Guideline for the departure of people traveling to the Republic of Nicaragua for a migrant post authorized by the alert by (COVID-19)“, dated July 24 and issued by the Ministry of Health.
Point 5.2 indicates, verbatim, that:
“The person who is rejected by the Republic of Nicaragua for any situation related to health issues (presenting symptoms, rejection of the PCR test, or others of that type), may be admitted in Costa Rica, by virtue that the egress did not occur, must immediately proceed to request the cancellation of the egress procedure and other collateral administrative acts that have been issued to the egress, in the office of the General Directorate of Immigration, in case of not doing so, this institution may not cancel the eventual measures of sanitary entry impediment issued against the person at the time of egress,” the document indicates.
In other words, despite their checking out of the country, authorities deem the check out never occurred and a request can be made to annul the sanitary measure that bars foreigners or residents leaving the country after March 24, to re-enter.
It is a process to not set precedent at other borders or under different circumstances, say experts in immigration law.
But do they want to come back to Costa Rica?
In interviews with local media, prior to the presence of riot police sent in by Ortega to control the situation and intimidate, some of them said what the want is to go home, to their homeland. They do not want to go back to Costa Rica.
For many, their decision to return to Nicaragua is economics, the loss of jobs, the higher cost of living in Costa Rica, and some citing discrimination and xenophobia on the part of Ticos against the Nicas in the country.
What led to the border situation?
At the beginning of last week, the Ortega regime rejected the entry of Nicaraguans with reason or explanation given.
With no cover over their head, no water, no food, just one toilet for hundreds, women (some pregnant), children, seniors, all waited, desperately, to be let in, someone to talk to them, to tell why they are being denied entry.
As the days passed, more Nicaraguans made their way to the border. But all they got was silence from their compatriots in uniform.
On Wednesday, the official word from Managua arrived, that to be allowed to enter they were required to present a negative proof of COVID-19 with a maximum of 72, a measure applicable to nationals or foreigners.
What was known up to Wednesday was that foreigners wanting to leave Nicaragua by air were required to have the negative test result, which could only be done by Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health (Minsa), in Managua and at a cost of US$150 dollars.
On Friday, Nicaragua’s vice-president and first lady, Rosario Murillo reiterated that although nationals have the right to return to their home, “it is very important (…) that they comply with the protection measures for all families.”
Since the pandemic reached Nicaragua in March, the Ortega regime has refused to establish containment measures and instead has promoted mass activities and agglomerations, such as the “Love in the time of COVID-19″ promoted by Rosario Murillo., contrary to the recommendations of international health organizations.
The country’s official numbers indicate 3,672 confirmed cases and 116 deaths by COVID-19. However, the calculations made by a group of Nicaraguan epidemiologists, medical professionals, and students known as the Observatorio Cuidadano (Citizen Observatory) suggest that the number of COVID-19 cases in Nicaragua, updated on July 27, 2020, is 8,755 and 2,487 deaths, with the majority of the cases and deaths in Nicaragua’s capital city of Managua.
At this time it is unknown how many Nicaraguans will take up Costa Rica’s offer to let them back in, where they will go or how they will get there, many had said they only had only enough get home, never expecting to be rejected.
Without possibly a place to stay or work, it may be impossible in the short term to be able to afford the COVID-19 PCR test by private clinics and hospitals in Costa Rica, which ranges from about ¢49,000 to ¢57,200.
Some of the labs, clinics and hospitals: