Costa Rica has seen an exponential increase in the number of Cubans who enter the country illegally, intending to cross on foot to the United States, usually from Ecuador. A report released Thursday by The Tico Times says that as of September, 12,166 Cubans had been arrested by the authorities of Costa Rica since the beginning of the year, representing a 24,332% increase over the approximately 50 immigrants detained in 2011, according to figures from Immigration.
The Director of Immigration, Kathya Rodriguez, told the Costa Rican newspaper that one of the possible reasons behind this increase in numbers is the fear that the thaw in relations between Cuba and the United States will put an end to the Cuban Adjustment Act.
The report notes that on Tuesday the authorities of Costa Rica arrested 12 people who formed a band dedicated to smuggling aliens into the United States, mainly Cubans, Asians and Africans.
The immigrants arrived by land to Costa Rica coming from Panama, then evade immigration controls in various South American countries.
Once in Costa Rica, the criminal gang hides the immigrants in hotels in Paso Canoas (on the border with Panama) and in San Jose, and later moves them to La Cruz, Guanacaste Province (border with Nicaragua) where the group’s base of operations is located.
Moreover, the authorities of Costa Rica began Thursday to deport to Nicaragua to more than a hundred Cubans without legal status, while on the border with Panama there are about a thousand waiting to enter, government sources informed the news agency Acan-Efe.
The Caribbeans being deported entered Costa Rica illegally in recent weeks and were detained in a center of the Directorate of Immigration in San Jose.
Rodriguez told reporters that “the Nicaraguan government accepted those Cubans who have their papers in order.”
Apart from those, there are now almost a thousand Cubans in Paso Canoas on the border with Panama, although authorities have said it is difficult to determine the exact number.
These migrants, who have been coming to Paso Canoas gradually in recent weeks, are trying to enter Costa Rica to continue their journey to the US, but the Director of Immigration stressed that those who entered illegally “cannot remain in Costa Rica and will be returned to Panama.”