Costa Rica ends year with more than 26,000 ‘irregular migrants’ on the books
Costa Rica saw an “unprecedented” migratory flow into the country this year, with tens of thousands of mainly Cubans, Haitians and Africans seeking passage to the United States.
Communications Minister Mauricio Herrera said in a statement that “more than 26,000 irregular migrants entered the country” from the southern border with Panama. Most of them arrived this year, though up to 8,000 were Cubans who became stranded in Costa Rica in late 2015 when neighboring Nicaragua closed its border to them.
Costa Rica eventually organized flights in early 2016 to let them skip over Nicaragua and make their way to the U.S. border, although it took months to resolve additional Cuban migrant flows.
Since then, the biggest flow has been that of Haitians, along with smaller numbers of Africans.
Many of them also face difficulties trying to get through Nicaragua, staying in shelters and camps in northern Costa Rica while turning to people-smugglers for help to cross the border. They are been given temporary visas, but no right to work.
“This could have been the biggest migratory crisis in the country, but it was an opportunity for Costa Rica to show the world its vocation in defending human rights,” Herrera said.
As The Tico Times reported earlier this year, the vastness of South America’s jungles and mountains disperses the flow of migrants from around the world across a wide area, but the Central American isthmus is a bottleneck. Thoughout the year, Costa Rica found itself playing the unwanted role of host to thousands of people hoping to pass through on their way north.
You may be interested
Costa Rica reduces fiscal deficit more than anticipatedAFP and The Tico Times - January 22, 2019
Costa Rica closed 2018 with a fiscal deficit of 6 percent of its GDP, below the 7.2 percent that had…
This week in the Peace Corps: Jumpstarting English with Peace Corps VolunteersPeace Corps Costa Rica - January 22, 2019
JumpStart camps led by Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) have officially begun all throughout Costa Rica. These intensive four-week English camps provide…
The Tico Times Weekly Digest: Jan. 21, 2019.Alexander Villegas - January 21, 2019
An attack in Nicaragua, our Puerto Viejo Deep Dive and a new Sele squad. These stories and more in this…