Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cubans in Nazareht, Costa Rica

Cubans in Nazareht, Costa Rica / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on November 27, 2015

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar (Special envoy), Liberia (Costa Rica), 27
November 2015 — The morning was warm and the Nazareht neighborhood had
been listening for days to the distinctive Cuban accent. This point in
the geography of Liberia, capital of Costa Rica's Guanacaste province,
is now one of the places where dozens of our Cuban compatriots are
waiting to continue their journey to the United States.

At least 70 of them are housed in the premises of the Bethel Assembly of
God Church. This newspaper spoke with Gerardo Obando, Costa Rican and
pastor of the congregation, who detailed the current situation of the
migrants in his care.

Escobar. Have you had any previous experience with migrants?

Pastor Obando. This is the first time that we have had this kind of
emergency. When we were contacted by the authorities of the National
Emergency Commission (CNE) we didn't hesitate to say yes, to be able to
help our Cuban brothers. My wife and I came from a tour of Nicaragua two
Sundays ago and we couldn't cross because the border was closed. We had
to stay one more day on that side and it really bothered us, we were
very sorry for the Cubans.

Especially thinking that there were children, older people, and because
it was raining at the time. We were there, praying for them and it was a
surprise when we arrived here the same Monday and the CNE coordinator
contacted us to ask if we would lend our facilities.

Escobar. Is it a solitary task or are you being supported?

Pastor Obando. Several independent organizations and government
institutions are involved, such as the Red Cross, the National
Children's Trust, the Lions Club and the national Ombudsman, among
others. They have all been hand in hand here with us.

Escobar. Has there been any rejection by nearby residents to the arrival
of so many Cubans?

Pastor Obando. People living here have reacted in a very humane way,
there has been no opposition. They have been lending a hand, bringing
any kind of assistance that may be needed here. Even some who do not
come to the church have baked bread and brought it and milk for the Cubans.

Escobar. Are the migrants are being held here?

Pastor Obando. They are not prisoners here. They have complete freedom
and can come and go. We only have a time when we close the gates, for
reasons of security. On the other hand, they have visas and Immigration
came yesterday and extended their visas for 15 days.

Escobar. Nicaragua officials have hinted that these people are
criminals. Have there been violent incidents in the shelter?

Pastor Obando. We have not had any incidents. There is harmony and they
are very nice people, well educated and very helpful. They have
collaborated with us in fixing some things around the building, they are
eager to work.

Escobar. Do they participate in church services?

Pastor Obando. Yes, many are participating. We are also praying for them
that they may continue their journey to the United States.

Escobar. What have you heard them say they wish for most?

Pastor Obando. The biggest dream of all of them is to reach
freedom. Many of them have dreamt since childhood of a freedom they have
not had.

Source: Cubans in Nazareht, Costa Rica / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar |
Translating Cuba -

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