Hundreds of Cubans gathered on Monday near the Costa Rican consulate in Havana, after learning that Costa Rica imposed a transit visa that complicates their plans to emigrate to Nicaragua.
Since Nicaragua eliminated in November the visa for Cubans, many islanders try to emigrate through Costa Rica to reach the United States, or go to buy products to resell on the island, immersed in a severe shortage of food and medicine.
Upset Cubans threw multiple claims to a street of the consulate, because the police prevented them from approaching the consular representation.
“Transit visa as of February 21, 2022,” reads a small circular hanging on the fence of the consulate, located on 5th Avenue in Miramar, an upscale Havana neighborhood.
“It applies to all Cuban, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan nationals who must enter Costa Rica’s international airports in order to change aircraft and/or airlines for a maximum period of 12 hours,” the message states.
Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in 27 years, dragged down by the fall in tourism during the pandemic and by the tightening of the embargo imposed by the United States, which aggravated shortages.
“This is not being done to anyone because how many thousands of dollars we have invested,” Dainerys Garcia, a 37-year-old manicurist who arrived with her husband Monday morning from Holguin province in eastern Cuba, told AFP, eating a snack on the lawn.
Given the limited supply of direct flights to Managua, the couple would fly early Tuesday morning to Cancun, from where they would travel without leaving the airport to San Jose, Costa Rica and then to El Salvador to finally go to Nicaragua. A journey that cost them more than 3,000 dollars each.
“We found out through the networks, we came today to see if we had any last minute changes and we found ourselves here full of people”. Many of those who came “were flying today, went to the airport and were told they were not going to be allowed to fly,” they add in bewilderment, doubting that they will be able to reschedule their entire itinerary.
“They close all the doors to us Cubans,” said another young man from the central province of Sancti Espíritus province who in four days would have to fly to Nicaragua with stopovers in Panama and San José. With his three friends he planned to spend the night in a park near the consulate.