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News > Latin America

Cuban Migrants Still Unwanted in Central America

  • Cubans migrants chat as the sun sets in the town of La Cruz, Costa Rica, Nov. 26, 2015.

    Cubans migrants chat as the sun sets in the town of La Cruz, Costa Rica, Nov. 26, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 December 2015

Cuban migrants are only welcome in Guatemala if Mexico guarantees their entry.

Guatemala announced conditional entry on Wednesday for Cuban migrants, while Costa Rica has called on other Latin American countries to control the migration flow.

The Guatemalan government said it will welcome the thousands of Cuban migrants stranded at the Costa Rican border on the condition of their guaranteed entry into Mexico and financial assistance in transporting them to the Mexican border.

"Of course we want to contribute ... but to contribute to the solution we also need certain guarantees," said Carlos Raul Morales, the foreign minister of Guatemala.

“I need the certainty in writing that Mexico will receive them,” Morales added.

The Guatemalan official further explained that the government could not cover the financial costs of transporting and sheltering the Cuban migrants traveling to the Mexican border.

ANALYSIS: US Immigration Policy for Cuba: A Cold War Relic

“This is not the most appropriate moment for the state of Guatemala to spend on the transport of these Cuban citizens now. We are in a crisis known throughout the world, in which we have no resources," Morales said.

Meanwhile, Costa Rica on Wednesday has called on Colombia, Ecuador and Panama to tighten their borders and reduce incentives for the migration flow of Cubans, who often start their journey to the U.S. from these countries.

The latest proposal was to send the Cubans on private flights to Belize from where they could continue to travel north through Mexico.

However, Belize has refused to accept the migrants, particularly because Mexico would not confirm that it would let the migrants through, saying its entry laws also forbid it from allowing the Cubans to enter. The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that the number of Cubans currently stranded in the country has increased to 6,000.

“Every day there are more people and more anxiety. The desire is to give a solution to them, but we have not yet. This has to be solved and Costa Rica is not the only one who can do it,” said Gonzalez putting pressure on other countries in the region to cooperate.

“Wet-Foot, Dry-Foot”

Cubans have long traveled through Central America in order to reach the United States, often beginning their journey in Ecuador, which allows them to enter without a visa.

Cuban officials say U.S. migration policy towards Cubans are to blame for the current impasse. This includes what's known as the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy of 1966, which they say drives “illegal, risky and chaotic migration.” The policy grants Cubans residency when they touch down on U.S. soil, encouraging migration, yet does not provide Cubans with legal or safe channels to reach the country.

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