Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Central American Agreement Will Transfer Cuban Migrants By Air In January

Central American Agreement Will Transfer Cuban Migrants By Air In
January / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on December 28, 2015

14ymedio, (With information from EFE), Mexico, 28 December 2015 — A
total of 250 Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica will benefit from a
pilot project agreed to this Monday in Guatemala, among the member
countries of the Cental American Integration System (SICA) along with
Mexico, according to the office of the Mexican Secretary of Foreign
Affairs, who spoke with this newspaper. The test will take place at the
beginning of January, the Foreign Ministry said, and if all goes well
Cuban migrants will continue to be evacuated via this route.

After hours of meeting, the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry made a brief
public statement, without offering more details, declaring, "It was
agreed to undertake a pilot project of humanitarian transfers in the
first week of January, and a working group has been formed that will be
responsible for the necessary coordination for the first transfer."

Minutes later, the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry added that the Cuban
migrants will leave by air from Costa Rica to El Salvador, from where
they will be taken by bus to Mexico.

Once in Mexico, the Cubans will be granted an exit permit already
allowed under that country's immigration laws. This exit permit,
according the Mexican National Institute of Migration, is valid for 20
days and is granted to citizens declared "stateless." In the case of
Cubans, this happens when the Cuban Consulate is advised by the Mexican
authorities of the entry of a citizen with a Cuban passport, and the
consulate remains silent or denies that the citizen is Cuban.

According to the Mexican Foreign Ministry, there are no plans to
accompany the Cubans arriving from Costa Rica to the US border.

Costa Rica has granted nearly 8,000 special transit visas to Cubans
since 14 November, but last week announced that it no longer has the
capacity to continue receiving the islanders, and so has ceased to issue
these documents in most cases.

The crisis was generated on 15 November when Nicaragua closed its border
to Cuban migrants, citing security risks to its sovereignty and
stranding thousands of Cubans who are now in Costa Rica and Panama
waiting to continue their journey through Central America.

Representatives of Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica,
Panama and Mexico, as well as the International Organization for
Migration (IOM), met Monday on the outskirts of the Guatemalan capital
to discuss this immigration crisis, which finally found a solution more
than a month after the Cubans began to be stranded in Costa Rica, which
led Costa Rica to leave the political discussions of the Central
American Integration System (SICA).

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez described the results of
Monday's meeting as "positive" and said in the official statement
released in San José that he could not fully detail the technical and
logistical aspects of the transfer, out of respect for the discretion
requested by some countries.

"We hope that these agreements can materialize in the short term.
Unfortunately, this season of the year makes it impossible to move
faster," he said.

On 18 December Costa Rica suspended its participation in the political
affairs of SICA due to the lack of solidarity among countries in the
region to allow the passage of Cubans and solve the humanitarian crisis.

"It is satisfactory and a reason to thank those countries who showed
their good will," said the Costa Rican Foreign Minister Monday, after
the agreement reached in Guatemala, but he did not specify if the
government had decided to fully restore relations with SICA.

But this decision, celebrated by Costa Rica and all the participating
nations, should not be interpreted as "a precedent" in the region, but
an action to address "a temporary situation," said the Guatemalan
Foreign Ministry, which also said that it would convene the Regional
Conference on Migration (CRM) to address this issue in its entirety.

The participating countries also reaffirmed their commitment to combat
human trafficking networks, and said they would apply "without delay"
the law which severely penalizes this illegal activity, and that
"unfortunately obliges countries in the region to return to their
country of origin all persons entering their territory in an
unauthorized manner."

"This will be addressed to prevent irregular migration and to firmly
combat the crime of human trafficking, and primarily to protect the
integrity of migrants and ensure respect for their fundamental rights,"
said Guatemala, a country through which migrants transit and that every
year suffers migration firsthand.

Source: Central American Agreement Will Transfer Cuban Migrants By Air
In January / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba -

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