MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Thousands of Cuban migrants trying to make it to the United States are stranded in Costa Rica.
“We want to keep on going,” the migrants chant.
But they can’t.
Two countries, Nicaragua and Guatemala, are not allowing them to travel through their territories.
“Being smuggled by traffickers is not what we wanted,” said Cuban migrant Armando Quesada, “but we’ve been seriously considering that alternative since last night.”
Most migrants started their journey in Ecuador, a country that does not require visas for Cubans.
Their intention was to travel by land to the U.S., but Nicaragua, whose government is politically aligned with Cuba, has been blocking them.
Authorities said there are about 5,000 Cuban migrants in Costa Rica in this situation.
The Costa Rican government has been feeding and housing them in shelters near the Nicaraguan border.
President Luis Guillermo Solís eased the migrants’ worries by reiterating that Costa Rica will not send them back to Cuba.
“Some of you are worried that the government of Costa Rica might negotiate a forced return of all of you to Cuba. That’s not going to happen. I’m not going to do that,” said Solís.
“We would like to thank Costa Rica for everything it has done for us, the help for children, the elderly and pregnant women; but we don’t want to stay in Costa Rica,” said Cuban migrant Iván Oliva. “We want to go on towards the United States.”
The government of Nicaragua accused Costa Rica of generating “a serious crisis” and of “violating treaties, borders and rights.”
Costa Rica replied it’s neither the cause nor the origin of this situation, and that its role is simply to protect these migrants as they travel through their territory.