The Legislative Assembly has approved a motion declaring a State of Emergency for Public Calamity along Costa Rica’s southern border in response to the ongoing migrant crisis. The declaration passed with 43 votes from across party lines after being introduced by the Security and Drug Trafficking Commission.
According to commission president Gilberth Jimenez of the PLN, the situation in the Southern Zone has become dire. Thousands of migrants, mainly from Venezuela, are flooding across the border via Paso Canoas every day. This massive influx is causing major sanitation and health issues as people crowd into makeshift camps.
“It is really a crisis, not only national but international. What we are experiencing on the border has exceeded the country’s capacity to deal with it,” said Jimenez.
The decree urges the executive branch to take immediate action to address the escalating humanitarian emergency. This includes activating the Permanent Binational Commission with Panama to tackle border problems. It also requests that the Foreign Ministry seek international cooperation from organizations and partner governments.
Jimenez stated that between 2,000 to 3,000 migrants are entering through Paso Canoas daily, overwhelming local communities. He accused the government of inadequate response, leaving migrants without basic services or humanitarian aid.
“There are no services, no attention, no place where they can meet their basic needs; there are diseases that are being reported in the area,” Jimenez added.
The approved motion calls on relevant ministries to establish temporary migrant shelters with adequate food, sanitation, and medical care. It advises strengthening security and public health strategies in impacted zones.
While welcoming cooperation, Jimenez reiterated that managing the influx exceeds Costa Rica’s current capabilities. He argued that declaring a state of emergency would allow accessing special funds and resources to mitigate the crisis.
With migration in the region surging 867% since 2021, Costa Rica has straining to uphold its humanitarian commitments. But critics argue an emergency decree could lead to rights violations andruns counter to Costa Rica’s immigrant-friendly reputation.
Lawmakers hope the drastic measure highlights the need for comprehensive regional strategies rather than just shifting migrants across borders. As Jimenez concluded, “this is not just Costa Rica’s crisis, but an international crisis.”