Costa Rica Agrees To Give Safe Conduct To Cubans Detained On The Border With Panama

Un grupo de inmigrantes cubanos cortó la carretera interamericana en frontera entre Costa Rica y Panamá en protesta por ser retenidos. (Álvaro Sánchez/cortesía/El Nuevo Herald)
A group of Cuban immigrants blocked the Interamerican Highway at the border between Costa Rica and Panama in protest at being held. (Alvaro Sanchez / courtesy / El Nuevo Herald)

Costa Rica agreed to grant humanitarian visas to more than a thousand Cubans who have been held at the border with Panama for some days, according to a report this Saturday in  El Nuevo Herald. The announcement was made Friday night by the Costa Rican government, which clarifies that the measure is only for Cubans already in their territory and that it is adamant about  its decision to close its border to citizens of Cuba who try to enter without a transit visa to the United States.

The crisis in the Paso Canoas border crossing on the border with Panama was complicated by the arrival of more Cubans, now numbering about 1,400, whom Costa Rica wishes to deport to the neighboring country and who, on Friday afternoon continued blocking the main highway.

The measure seeks to cut off the business of organized crime human trafficking, said the Director of Immigration of Costa Rica, Kattia Rodríguez.

Before Wednesday, Costa Rica allowed entry to Cubans to process them as refugees. But Cubans never followed the procedures and always continued to travel to Nicaragua, the rest of Central America and Mexico, on their way from Ecuador to the United States.

Rodriguez told  El Nuevo Herald that the crisis arose after Costa Rica disrupted a network last Tuesday dedicated to the illicit trafficking of Cubans. For each Cuban crossing from Ecuador to the United States, the mafias charge $7,500 to $15,000, she remarked, detailing that the flow between January and September of 2015 was 12,166 Cubans, compared to 5,144 in 2014, and 2,549 in 2013.

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