Nicaragua Closes Border to U.S.-Bound Cubans

By Kausha Luna, November 16, 2015

On Sunday, Nicaragua closed its border with Costa Rica, responding to a flood of Cuban illegal aliens en route to the United States.

Costa Rica granted safe-passage permits to 1,600 Cuban migrants who had crossed from Panama, so that they could proceed to Nicaragua on their way north. Central America has witnessed an explosive increase of Cuban migrants trying to reach the United States by land through Mexico, rather than heading to Florida by sea.

This surge is attributed to the thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations and the resulting fear that the Cuban Adjustment Act would soon be repealed. (There's no prospect of this, unfortunately.) According to the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil are granted asylum, while those captured at sea are repatriated.

In a statement Rosario Murillo, government spokeswoman and first lady of Nicaragua (whose government is a key ally of Cuba), denounced Costa Rica's actions as "deliberate," "irresponsible," and a "violation of national sovereignty." She added, "The Nicaraguan government calls on the international organizations responsible to deal urgently with this complaint."

The government of Costa Rica responded, "Costa Rica did not cause the problem. The structural problem arises from Ecuador to the United State, without coordinated action by all countries to address this problem; there will not be a structural solution to the issue." Costa Rica's Minister of Foreign Affairs went on to criticize Nicaragua's reaction to the flood of Cuban illegal aliens, "[it is] disproportionate and irrational for a country to move an entire battalion of soldiers [to the border] complaining Costa Rica is the one loading them with this migration." It should be noted Costa Rica closed its border with Panama earlier last week because of the surge of Cubans, then reopened it on Saturday.

While Central American countries continue to point fingers at one another, Cuban migrants have made it clear that their intention is to reach the United States. It is time for the U.S. government to follow Nicaragua's lead and declaration that it "does not tolerate, nor will it tolerate, actions that threaten and risk our national sovereignty." It is time to do away with the Cuban Adjustment Act, because, as long as that incentive remains, the wave of Cubans will continue.