Costa Rica Suspends the Granting of Temporary Visas to Cubans

By Kausha Luna on December 21, 2015

On Friday, the Central American Integration System (SICA) met in El Salvador to again discuss the U.S.-bound Cubans stranded in Costa Rica by Nicaragua's refusal to let them enter. And again, no solution was reached.

As a result of SICA's failure to reach a solution, Costa Rica announced that it would suspend its political participation in SICA. However, the withdrawal will only apply to the political bodies of SICA, not the economic, commercial, or technical bodies. President Solis also announced that Costa Rica has officially suspended the granting of temporary visas to Cubans, stressing that any Cubans attempting to enter Costa Rica illegally would be immediately deported to Cuba. As such, he urged "irregular Cuban migrants" not to attempt entry into Costa Rican territory.

Nevertheless, during a press conference, President Solis emphasized that Costa Rica would continue to look for diplomatic solutions. He noted that a "humanitarian corridor" is still a possibility, which would allow Cubans to freely head north to the U.S. border. As he explained, the position of Guatemala's interim president (who turned down Costa Rica's proposal to fly the Cubans there, leapfrogging Nicaragua, so they could continue northward) may not necessarily be the position of Guatemala's President-Elect, Jimmy Morales – who will assume the presidency on January 15, 2016.

Today, technical teams from SICA will gather in El Salvador to analyze the current situation. According to the Salvadoran Minister of Foreign Affairs , the idea is to form a committee of experts from the area in order to review the "legal bodies of each country" and find the best way to solve the issue of the stranded islanders.

In other Cuban news, last week U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo, from Florida's 26th District, introduced the "Cuban Immigrant Work Opportunity Act", H.R. 4247. The bill would distinguish Cubans fleeing political persecution from ordinary Cuban immigrants for purposes of welfare eligibility, thus preventing the non-refugees from collecting welfare under the more-generous rules that apply to refugees. It would also seek to limit U.S. welfare payments to people actually living in Cuba, a problem exposed by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel earlier this year.

Topics: Cuba