Ecuador will require visas from Cuban citizens seeking to enter the country as of December 1, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Xavier Lasso speaking at a press conference.
This exception in the Ecuadorian immigration law is intended to discourage the Cuban migration, which has surged in recent months and has caused a crisis on the borders of Central America. “Our commitment is to human beings, to stop this migration trend is that puts men, women and children at risk,” said Lasso. “We are trying to control this type of migration, which is very risky.”
On the northern border of Costa Rica it is estimated that some 4,000 Cubans are stranded, waiting to cross the border.
The decision of Ecuador’s government comes less than a week after Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez visited Ecuador and Nicaragua to address precisely this issue.
As of November 14, Costa Rica has granted temporary transit visas to 3,600 Cubans who arrived at its border with Panama, and has set up 12 shelters to provide them with humanitarian aid.
Given the ease of emigrating to Ecuador, thousands of Cubans have traveled to that South American country in recent years. Most of them start from there on a long migratory journey of about 4,800 miles overland to reach the United States.
Ecuador’s deputy foreign minister said: “We are not closing the door to Cuba” but said his country “is committed,” along with the Latin American community, to avoiding this migratory flow.