Cuban migrants continue arriving as Costa Rica declares ‘mission accomplished’
A week after President Luis Guillermo Solís saw off one of the last flights of the airlift that carried thousands of stranded Cuban migrants to the U.S. border, hundreds more Cubans are amassing again at Costa Rica’s southern border with Panama.
Still, Solís said Thursday that Costa Rica had “accomplished” its four-month humanitarian mission caring for the Cubans migrants and that the country would not receive more migrants. The president addressed potential arrivals at a news conference, saying, “We’re not going to be able to attend to you as we would like and as they deserve.”
The president said that if migrants enter Costa Rica illegally they will be deported. Cubans are part of a small group of nationalities that require restricted visas to enter Costa Rica.
The president placed unequivocal blame for the continuing migrant crisis on the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act.
“Cuban immigration will continue because it’s a structural phenomenon,” Solís said, “until the government of the United States puts an end to the laws that attract this migration. There’s a responsibility to call attention to these laws. …
“Until these laws change we will continue to see this situation that, from a humanitarian point of view, creates so much pain and risk for these thousands of Cuban migrants,” he said.
As migrants continue to build up where the crisis started last November, Barack Obama is set to be the first U.S. president to travel to Cuba in 88 years on March 20.
Solís asked police to increase their presence in the Southern Zone and called for the International Organization for Migration to hold a regional meeting of foreign ministers and immigration administrators in the coming weeks to address this new wave of Cuban migrants.
Costa Rica granted more than 7,800 Cuban migrants temporary transit visas between Nov. 1 and Dec. 18, 2015. A conflict between Costa Rica and Nicaragua closed the northern border to Cubans migrants, leaving them stranded here. Eventually a plan was reached to fly out 4,800 of the migrants. The remaining thousands left the country through their own means, including smugglers.
Solís said that the government was following the situation and was “heartbroken” by the continued migration flow. He added: “We know what the cost is of these movements.”
You may be interested
Lonely Planet names Costa Rica as one of top travel destinations in 2020Alejandro Zúñiga - October 21, 2019
On Monday, Lonely Planet released its best travel destinations for 2020. Costa Rica, the publication says, is among the best…
Sign up for The Tico Times’ weekly newsletterThe Tico Times - October 21, 2019
Like many other newspapers, The Tico Times used to deliver a paper copy straight to your mailbox. Today, we still print…
Remembering Tan-Sahsa Flight 414, the deadliest plane crash in Central American historyAlejandro Zúñiga - October 21, 2019
On Oct. 21, 1989, Tan-Sahsa Flight 414 crashed while on approach to Toncontín International Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. One-hundred and…