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Costa Rica creates special asylum category for Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Cubans

November 13, 2020

Costa Rica on Thursday announced a new migration category that will allow asylum seekers from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela whose request was rejected to remain in the country.

The new category will provide permanence in Costa Rica for a period of two years, with the right to carry out work activities to people from those three countries who initially did not qualify for refuge.

The new immigration status was published Thursday in the official newspaper La Gaceta as a resolution of the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners.

“By virtue of the protection required by migrants affected by the political, health and social situation that exists in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, the implementation of a complementary protection system is considered opportune” to remain in Costa Rica, the resolution said.

“This decision is a great step towards integrating refugees fleeing the regime of (Venezuelan President Nicolás) Maduro,” David Smolansky, OAS commissioner for the Venezuelan migrant crisis, said in a statement.

The publication in La Gaceta cited pronouncements from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the situation in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela that has prompted larger parts of their populations to seek asylum abroad.

It specified that Costa Rica registered a “considerable increase” in refugee applications from Venezuelans starting in 2014, while the political crisis in Nicaragua — with the wave of anti-government protests in 2018 — also led to a peak in refugee applications.

In the case of Cuba, the publication indicated that the closure of access to the United States since 2017 led many islanders to instead seek permanence in Costa Rica.

The Special Category for Complementary Temporary Protection was created considering that “Costa Rica has the obligation to not return these persons” to their country of origin based on risks to their “life, freedom and security.”

To qualify for the new status, the applicant must show that her refugee claim was denied and that he or she has no criminal record.

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