The President of Guatemala has indicated that he may open the door to the thousands of Cuban migrants currently stranded in Costa Rica who are attempting to reach the United States, but said the process would only happen “gradually.”
President Alejandro Maldonado said he would “consider” receiving “some” Cubans, according to local media Monday.
Though the comments remain noncommittal, they are a big step forward for the Cuban migrants who have been stranded in Costa Rica for over a month after several Central American nations barred their entry.
Last month, Nicaragua closed its border and prohibited an influx of people attempting to enter the country. Guatemala and Belize quickly followed suit after Mexico said it would also refuse them entry, arguing that its current migration laws would prohibit such a move.
Costa Rica has granted thousands of transitory visas to Cubans since Nov. 14. However, authorities in the country recently told the Cuban government that it can no longer support the migrants while Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis announced Friday that the country would no longer be handing out transit visas.
President Maldonado has called on Solis to “reconsider” his decision, and called on a larger dialogue to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Roughly 6,000 Cuban migrants are currently stranded in Costa Rica and over 1,000 more in Panama. They are looking to continue en route to the United States.
Many blame the U.S.'s “wet-foot, dry-foot” migration policy for spurring the migration of Cubans to the United States. The policy grants Cubans residency when they touch down on U.S. soil, encouraging migration despite failing to provide Cubans with legal or safe channels to reach the country.
Earlier in December, Cuban President Raul Castro slammed U.S. policy for fomenting Cuban migration while simultaneously discriminating against other Latin American countries in the region, as only Cubans are granted special residency rights.
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