San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica 'victim' of US-Cuban immigration laws, says President Solís

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís’ frustration with the Cuban migrant crisis was clear in his remarks during a news conference Tuesday in Cuba.

Roughly 5,000 Cuban migrants have gathered in Costa Rica as a regional impasse continues to prevent the islanders from reaching the United States, where a favorable immigration law incentivizes them to fly to Ecuador and cross Central America on their way north.

“It’s up to the U.S. to administer its laws and it’s up to us, the victims of these laws, to administer them too,” Solís said during a news conference, referring to Costa Rica’s obligation to care for migrants as they cross the isthmus to reach the U.S. mainland.

This obligation to respect migrants’ human rights has since mushroomed into a national humanitarian operation for tiny Costa Rica. For over a month now, the Costa Rican government, churches and community centers have opened their doors to house and feed migrants in 14 shelters as Cubans wait for permission to cross into Nicaragua or fly to a third country. The National Emergency Commission has spent more than ₡134 million — roughly $250,000 — in its efforts to shelter the Cubans, according to reports from national media.

Uncle Sam was not the only one to get an earful from Solís as he wrapped up his official visit to Cuba on Tuesday. The Costa Rican president travels next to a regional meeting of Central American presidents in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Friday to address the same migrant crisis.

“I feel disappointed,” Solís said of other Central American countries, noting that Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize – all three of which have closed their borders to the Cubans since Nov. 15 – all signed a Central American Integration System, or SICA, agreement on Oct. 2 agreeing to allow Cubans to pass through their respective countries en route to the U.S.

Costa Rica’s diplomatic efforts to resolve the migrant crisis have since stalled. This week’s meeting with SICA leaders will be the latest attempt to resolve the crisis before the Christmas and New Year holidays. Currently, more than 4,300 Cubans are being temporarily housed in 14 shelters across Costa Rica.

Before leaving for the island on Dec. 13, Solís said his visit –the first by a Costa Rican president since relations began to thaw between the two countries under former Costa Rican President Able Pacheco in 2003 – would be about more than migration. Casa Presidencial and the Foreign Ministry have both promoted the official trip as the last remaining step to a normalization of Costa Rica-Cuba relations after former President Óscar Arias re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2009.

President Solís and an entourage of business leaders and lawmakers traveled to Cuba to explore potential business opportunities on the island for Costa Rican companies. Construction, tourism and Cuban public sector purchasing were three areas listed as possible growth markets for Costa Rica. The Foreign Trade Promotion Office, PROCOMER, and its Cuban equivalent, PROCUBA, signed an agreement on Dec. 14 to help promote foreign investment and trade between the two nations. In 2014, Costa Rica exported $38 million in goods to the island.

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Let’s see, 3 countries have closed their borders to Cuban immigration (2 of which are Central American): Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize.

Also, since the recent terrorist attacks, most Western Nations have justly tightened their immigration policies.

Terrorist have proved they are capable of creating a false identities.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís believes everyone is wrong except him.

Typical Political Speak; instead of admitting a mistake was made, the rest of the world is wrong.

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Charlie Delgado

What makes this people leave Cuba and try to get to the U.S, is the incentive given by the dry foot law. Heck, if this was available for other countries as well, everyone will take advantage of it. but that is not the case, the incentive is meant for Cubans only with the intention of make the whole world see that life in Cuba is just impossible to the point that forces people out due to the economic situation and lack of opportunities. I got news for you, there are countless countries where life is just as hard but no one else is given preference just because of it.
At the end the U.S will have to provide transportation for all this people , either by plane or boat. Costa Rica has always been a perfect allied to the U.S . Since this crisis is caused due to a U.S law , it is the United States who will have to take responsibility and solve the problem. HOWEVER, if this dry foot/incentive/preference continues, there will be no stop and thousands more will follow.

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Brian Donovan

Sounds like typical Costa Rican arrogance rears its ugly head yet again as President Solis blames the United States of America for his own problem and for the problems of these unfortunate Cuban migrants. He is simply wrong to blame the U.S. for the actions of his own country as well as Nicaragua, Guatemala and Belize. He sounds like an arrogant fool.

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Mark Kahle

And here I was mistakenly under the impression that the Presidents first and primary duties were to Costa Ricans, the laws of Costa Rica and maintaining the sovereign status of Costa Rica.

Why has this government admitted people with no visas, no status and no way to support themselves ?

It is NOT a human rights issue …they were perfectly safe in Ecuador, Columbia and Panama before they crossed into Costa Rica sans requisites.

What is patently unfair is the spending of my and others hard earned money on people that do not want to be here. Costa Rica has more than enough poor and needy people without 5000 illegals being added by fiat.

250,000 dollars and any more costs should be taken from the people that made the decision to allow this …

To aid them on their journey to violate the laws of another nation (the law is wet foot-dry foot… if you get there walking you have to hide and are illegal for a year) is repugnant.

To prove this massive concern for “Human Rights” why doesn’t Solis simply abandon the border posts and allow people to come and go as they please ? That is exactly what he did in this case.

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What you say about the wet foot-dry foot law is untrue.
And your other opinions are wrong-headed, to put it kindly.
First, there is no distinction by the U.S. between Cubans who set foot on US soil by walking and those who set foot by arriving by sea.
In both cases, they are given special status for a year and then can seek permanent residency.
A NYT story about this, and the current stranded Cubans, is here:
So perhaps you should contact US representatives regarding the US law which encourages people — only from Cuba, because of policies meant to damage that country — to arrive by whatever means possible on US land, thereby encouraging the kinds of thing we now see at the Costa Rican borders.
Costa Rica has done the humanitarian thing in trying to find a way for the stranded Cubans to continue their journey.
They were given temporary visas to pass through the country; the border posts were not abandoned, nor were people allowed to “come and go as they please.”
What would you suggest Costa Rica do with these people — set them adrift at sea in rafts, perhaps?
Regarding the spending of your “hard-earned money,” how much of the money spent to help these stranded Cubans would be yours, I wonder.

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