Costa Rica pitches humanitarian corridor for Cubans
San Jose, Costa Rica – — Costa Rica on Tuesday proposed the creation of a “humanitarian corridor” for Cuban migrants transiting Central America en route to the United States as their numbers swell at its northern border with Nicaragua.
Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez said in a radio interview that there must be a coordinated solution for the Cubans, who are currently being blocked by Nicaraguan soldiers from entering the country.
“We have nearly 2,000 people at the border,” Gonzalez said. “We have to do something with them, give them a solution. They want to continue. Even though a government sends the army after a peaceful migrant population, they are going to find a way to go.”
Nicaraguan troops forcefully pushed the Cubans back into Costa Rica on Sunday.
Dagoberto Fernandez, a Cuban mechanic traveling with his pregnant wife, said they began their journey from Ecuador and had no problems until now.
“Everyone that we have encountered since leaving Ecuador is behaving well. The problem began upon arriving at the border with Nicaragua,” Fernandez said.
“We don’t want to stay. We don’t want problems,” he said. “We’re a group of human beings trying to achieve their dream: arrive in the United States.”
Costa Rica announced Friday that it was issuing special seven-day transit visas for Cuban migrants. The proposed humanitarian corridor would seek to protect their rights as they travel north.
There has been a surge in the number of Cubans trying to reach the United States in recent months. Many would-be migrants from the island fear that the reestablishment of diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana may bring an end to decades-old policies allowing Cubans who reach U.S. soil to stay, although U.S. officials say no change is currently being contemplated.
Ecuador does not require Cubans to obtain visas, so many begin their journey there.
Tensions between Costa Rica and Nicaragua have risen in recent days over the Cuban migrants. Nicaragua accuses its southern neighbor of violating its sovereignty by allowing the Cubans to try to enter Nicaraguan territory.
Costa Rican immigration director Kattia Rodriguez said another group of 1,500 Cubans who crossed into the country Saturday from Panama are making their way north.
About 300 Cubans are expected to arrive at Costa Rica’s southern border each day.