San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
migrant crisis

Costa Rica frets as Panama allows migrants to cross border

SAN JOSÉ — Costa Rica expressed “concern” Wednesday about neighboring Panama’s decision to allow migrants to cross their common border, as it struggles with thousands of migrants blocked on its own territory.

“We are concerned that the migratory flow is increasing and now we have an additional concern with the official declaration by the Panamanian government that announced free passage for migrants on its territory,” said Carmen Muñoz, deputy minister for government and police.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said Tuesday that his country would waive immigration restrictions for around 800 migrants who have recently crossed from Colombia and were in the Darien jungle on the border.

Many of the migrants are from Haiti and Africa, with some also from Cuba and Asian countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Varela said that, as a “humanitarian” gesture, they would be permitted to continue their journey north toward their target destination of the United States, meaning they would be let through into Costa Rica.

But Costa Rica is currently hosting around 2,500 migrants near its northern border with Nicaragua, which in November boosted security along the frontier to prevent undocumented migrants crossing.

Getting through Nicaragua is proving extremely difficult for the migrants, some of whom have paid upwards of $1,000 to people smugglers to attempt that leg of their trek.

Costa Rican lawmakers are pondering a number of measures to help cope with the influx. One option being considered is to increase Costa Rica’s tourist tax by five percent.

Colombia also moving migrants on

Colombia also announced Wednesday that it would give exit permits to more than 900 Haitians in the country illegally. The passes give the migrants between three and 10 days to leave the country or face deportation.

Colombian migration authorities also said they had given more than 1,500 exit passes to Cubans, most of whom had already left the country.


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Solís has proven to be ineffective when dealing with Mafia Taxistas. On any given day of their choosing Taxistas are in control of Costa Rica, not Solís.

So I ask is there anyone who doesn’t understand why Costa Ricas neighbors dictate what Costa Ricas immigration policy is?

I’ll give you another explanation, a Tico gets in a taxi and tells the Taxista where he or she wants to go, Solís gets in a taxi and the Taxista tells Solís where he will take him!

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Robert Gorden

This story is about the absence of a joint immigrations policy between Central American nations. Panama cannot unilaterally set Costa Rica’s immigrations policy relative to refugees, just as Costa Rica cannot set such a policy relative to Nicaragua.

Panama can of course allow refugees to pass through its territory towards Costa Rica. But we Ticos do not need to accept them. Then the refugees would be stuck in Panama, which given its zero cooperation with San Jose is what the government there deserves.

Before Costa Rica accepts any refugees that they do not want to allow to stay, it needs to coordinate polices with Nicaragua. If San Jose does not do that, and only frets over what to do with these refugees and immigrants, it is simply a mistake of the Solis government.

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