Wednesday morning, nine Ticos who had been living in Venezuela returned to Costa Rica after a months-long repatriation effort from Costa Rica’s Immigration Administration and Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry says the individuals — six women and three men — had been living in “situations of vulnerability” in the South American country, which has been engulfed in an economic and political crisis.
The group arrived via a commercial flight to Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela.
Costa Rican authorities had been working since April to repatriate the Ticos using the Social Migration Fund, which was established in 2011 with a goal to, in part, address the humanitarian needs of Costa Ricans requiring intervention to achieve a safe return to the country.
“The Immigration Administration is attentive to the situation of Costa Rican people who are in another country and in a condition of vulnerability, so having protocols and a Social Migration Fund allows us to have a safe process for the well-being of all Costa Ricans who need help abroad,” said Raquel Vargas, Immigration Administration director.
Claudina Navarrate, 74, told reporters the day had been bittersweet. The Guanacaste-born Tica had lived in Venezuela, where she worked at a hospital, for 47 years.
“This trip has been in part sad — because I love Venezuela — and joyful, because I love my country, Costa Rica,” Navarrate said.
Navarrate thanked the Costa Rican government, saying their diplomatic efforts and kindness “were a gift I never expected to receive.”
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she said.
Foreign Minister Manuel Ventura Robles praised the “remarkable coordination effort” between the Immigration Administration and the Foreign Ministry which allowed for Wednesday’s successful repatriation.
Costa Rica, which recognizes Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s president, does not currently have an Embassy or Consulate General in the South American country.
Inflation in Venezuela may reach 1,000,000% by the end of 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The Foreign Ministry says the Social Migration Fund will continue to assist vulnerable Costa Ricans abroad. It defines “vulnerability” as those in conditions of greater risk of violation of their human rights.