The Nicaraguan refugee community that grew in Costa Rica in recent months, following the socio-political outbreak of April 18, 2018, have had to face many economic and emotional difficulties to survive in the different refuges that Costa Rica offers them.

Young Nicaraguans exiled in Costa Rica

Many of these refugees are Nicaraguan students, who have had to escape from their country because they participated in one way or another in the protests against President Daniel Ortega.

According to these young people, the only crime they committed was to think differently and participate in peaceful marches against the Government.

Gabriel, not his real name and whom his refuge friends nickname him “La Cobra M19A”, is a Systems Engineer, graduated from the Universidad de Occidente (UDO) and on July 26 Last year entered Costa Rica illegally, has had to endure hunger and cold ever since.

Speaking to Nicaragua’s El Nuevo Diario, Gabriel says that since he fled from Nicaragua, his life has been a “calvario” (ordeal) in Costa Rica.

Thanks to the Catholic Church of Liberia, he was able to transfer to Cartago, where he took shelter along with a hundred Nicaraguans who were in the same situation.

When he got his refugee card, he managed to get a job in a shoe store in San Jose, but his salary was only spent on transportation, so he decided to move to the capital.

He managed to get together with other Nicaraguans and they are all paying US$200 a month rent for a small house. Although he still lives uncomfortably, his luck has changed a bit, unlike thousands of his colleagues who still have nowhere to live.

Gabriel or La Cobra M19A in a small patio in the house where he takes refuge. Photo Carlos Solís / END

“My life has been very tragic because I have lost everything: my family, my work, my friends. The only thing I could get when I came fleeing from Nicaragua was a little bag with the necessary things to survive,” he said.

According to Gabriel, the Nicaraguan government is accusing him of murder, terrorism, vandalism and taking part in a coup d’état.

“The government has invented all these accusations, never in my life have I done anyone any harm. They have invented all those accusations for thinking differently from them,” he explained.

Celeste López is another young Nicaraguan refugee. She was in her fourth year of journalism at the University of Managua. Her crime was to help her fellow university students in a church in Managua, who were shot and wounded by police.

He said he had to escape through the back of the church when the police came to take them by force.

Hope of returning

“The government is accusing me of being a terrorist when I have never touched a weapon in my life. A friend was detained by the police when they found out that she was helping the muchachos (boys). They beat her and raped her, I did not want the same thing to happen to me and that’s why I had to flee,” said the young student.

Nicarguans crossing into Costa Rica through a blind spot in the border

Her new life in Costa Rica has made her overcome all adversities. It hurts her to have put a lot of effort and invest a lot of money to study a career in journalism because now she is running away and her future is in limbo.

Celest, like many of the other young refugees, has faith that she will soon be able to return to Nicaragua to continue her studies. She asks the Government of Nicaragua to stop the repression against its people.

Santos is another who managed to get his refugee card in Costa Rica. He has lived in Costa Rica for five months now and works in construction as a carpenter. He fractured a foot while fleeing the police, in Nagarote.

This young man has also been hit hard by life, living in Costa Rica. He wandered for several weeks in the streets of San Jose until he was able to connect with other Nicaraguans who offered him a hand.


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