Central American countries have reached a deal to allow some of the thousands of Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica for over a month to continue onward to the United States. The agreement, which was reached in Guatemala City on Monday, will come into effect in January. Under the deal, an undisclosed number of Cuban migrants will be flown to El Salvador and then ferried to Mexico by bus. Aljazeera reports:
“The solution emerging is an absolute exception and only for those people who entered national territory legally,” said Manuel Gonzalez, Costa Rica’s foreign minister. The pilot programme will be subject to revision as diplomats are expected to work out logistical details in upcoming meetings.
Officials from Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica and the International Organization for Migration took part in the talks. An estimated 8,000 Cubans have been stuck in Costa Rica after Nicaragua shut its borders in mid-November.
A close ally of Cuba, Nicaragua had accused Costa Rica of sparking a “humanitarian crisis” after issuing transit visas to more than 1,000 Cubans. Under current US policy, any Cuban who reaches US soil is allowed to stay and pursue permanent residency. Those, however, who are intercepted at sea by the US coastguard are sent home, leading many to attempt the difficult overland journey third countries.