Nearly a thousand Cubans who find themselves stranded in Costa Rica on their journey to the United States remain in six shelters set up by the Costa Rican authorities to provide them with humanitarian assistance. The Latin American foreign ministers will meet this coming Monday in El Salvador in order to find a solution to the problem.
The National Emergency Commission (CNE) announced today that there are 982 Cubans in the six shelters, while at the border post of Peñas Blancas, on the border with Nicaragua, 400 who did not want to move to shelters remain.
Civil society organizations and university students have joined the humanitarian efforts that include donations and food preparation, while the Red Cross monitors the health of the islanders.
On the other side of the border, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos said that the expulsion of the Cuban migrants to Costa Rica was an act of “defense” against an “imposition.” “Nicaragua, which is a fraternal people… we discussed it calmly, but with the impositions nothing can be done, it is the obligation of every people to defend themselves,” Santos told reporters.
The foreign minister also denied that Costa Rica has asked Nicaragua to shelter the Cubans.
The situation of Cubans on the border has further strained the already deteriorated relations between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Managua accused its neighbor of “launching” the Cubans toward their territory, causing a humanitarian crisis, while Costa Rica has rejected those claims and says it has acted according to international law to grant visas to migrants and prevent them falling into human trafficking networks.
The Cubans left their country via air to Ecuador, which does not require them to have a visa, and from there they travelled “irregularly” to Colombia and Panama to reach Costa Rica.
On Tuesday, the Cuban government attributed this situation to the immigration policy of the United States with regards to Cuba, and affirmed that it is in contact with Costa Rica and Nicaragua to find a “a quick and appropriate solution” to the problem.
According to Havana, this policy “encourages irregular emigration,” violates the migratory accords in effect between both countries and is “inconsistent” with the current bilateral context, in addition to hindering the normalization of migratory relations between Cuba and the United States and creating problems with other nations.
Costa Rica organized a meeting of foreign ministers of the countries between Mexico and Ecuador in order to discuss joint actions, especially the creation of a humanitarian corridor for the transit of Cuban emigrants across America from south to north.