Central American nations announce deal on Cuban migrants
BY JAVIER CORDOBA
SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA
Central American nations have reached a deal to let the first of
thousands of stranded Cuban migrants continue their journey north toward
the United States next month, officials said Monday.
The humanitarian transfer will airlift an unspecified number of Cubans
the first week of January from Costa Rica to El Salvador, from where
they will continue by bus toward Mexico, Costa Rica's Foreign Ministry
said in a statement.
The Guatemalan government, which hosted a diplomatic meeting earlier in
the day to consider the issue, described it as a "pilot" program and
said a work group has been tasked with coordinating logistics.
The two governments did not immediately release further details, citing
some nations' desire for discretion on what has become a diplomatic
flashpoint between Costa Rica and neighboring Nicaragua.
The number of Cubans stranded in Costa Rica has reached at least 8,000
since Nicaragua closed its border to them weeks ago. The islanders say
they are trying to reach the United States, where favorable migratory
policies toward Cubans mean nearly all are allowed to stay and apply for
On Sunday, Pope Francis called for their plight to be resolved.
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez said the measure will be
available only to Cubans who are already in Costa Rica. Ministry
spokeswoman Melissa Duran told The Associated Press it will be up to the
migrants to pay the costs of their travel, but did not give more specifics.
On Dec. 18, Costa Rica stopped issuing transit visas for Cuban migrants
and announced that any who arrived after that without a visa would be
Cuba has seen a spike in outward migration in the year since it and
Washington announced they would re-establish diplomatic ties after more
than five decades of open hostility. Many Cuban migrants say they chose
now to emigrate out of fear that detente could bring about an end to the
U.S. policies that benefit them — although U.S. officials say no change
is in the works.
Cuba and its close ally Nicaragua argue that the U.S. policies toward
Cubans encourage them to attempt dangerous migratory routes and cause a
brain drain on the island.
Source: Central American nations announce deal on Cuban migrants | Miami