Cuban Migrants Still Blocked in Central America

By Kausha Luna on December 2, 2015

It has been two weeks since Nicaragua closed its border to U.S.-bound Cubans. That action has blocked the route many Cubans have been taking – first flying to Ecuador (which until yesterday did not require Cubans to get visas) and then going overland through Central American and Mexico and crossing the Rio Grande into the U.S., where they are automatically allowed to stay. A solution to the ''crisis" of Cuban migrants being stuck in Costa Rica, unable to proceed north through Nicaragua, is nowhere in sight.

Last week member states of the Central American Integration System (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama), as well as Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, and Ecuador, gathered in El Salvador to discuss potential solutions to the situation. The meeting did not produce a solution.

Costa Rica suggested a regional solution and proposed a "humanitarian corridor" be created – allowing Cuban migrants to travel, via land, from Ecuador (which until this week had not required Cubans to get visas) to the United States. However, this idea was defeated after Nicaragua reiterated that it would not reopen its border. Nicaraguan Foreign Vice Minister Dennis Moncada stated, "Our country's position is unchanged, as it corresponds to our commitment to good governance, which responds to our people, ensuring a safe Nicaragua, which contributes, as it has contributed, to the security of the Central American region." Moncada added, "Nicaragua maintains its position that it should not be pressured into legitimizing illegal [immigration] policies."

After failing to convince Nicaragua to allow Cubans through its territory, Costa Rica also met with Guatemala and Mexico officials to discuss the relocation of 4,000 Cubans to an undetermined country, from where they continue to the United States.

It is important to note that up until this point the United States – the destination for these Cubans – had not taken part in any of these conversations. Finally, on Tuesday in Washington, during a biannual meeting, Cuba expressed that U.S. immigration policies were to blame for the current "crisis," a sentiment previously expressed by Cuba and other countries involved. Regrettably, the Obama administration told Cuba it will not modify the ''wet-foot, dry foot" policy or other immigration policies.

Topics: Cuba