Fundraising Campaign For A Film About The Rafter Crisis / 14ymedio

Armando Capó, Cuban film director (file photo creator)
Armando Capó, Cuban film director (file photo creator)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 November 2015 — “From my house it all seemed like a strange ritual. Now the memories are being reconstructed as if they had been buried, the raft, loaded on the backs of people like a coffin,” is how Armando Capó describes the Rafter Crisis of 1994. The young director has launched a fundraising campaign to allow him to bring the stories of those dark days to the big screen, under the title August.

The creator believes it is still an “uncomfortable topuc,” that is barely touched on in Cuba. “This story and its images have been with me since 1994, and the movie is a kind of exorcism to be able to live with the memories” is how the project is described on the crowdfunding site Verkami, with the hope of collecting 20,000 dollars in 40 days. continue reading

The story takes place in Gibara in 1994. “Most of the team members working on this film were children or teenagers at that time,” explains Capó. He remembers, “seeing our neighbors carrying rafts on their shoulders and walking toward to the sea to launch themselves for the United States,” and so, “we went to the coast to say goodbye to strangers.”

The images of that summer remain strong in the director’s memory and he wants to delve into them in August; he wrote the script with the Cuban Abel Arcos. Costa Rican Marcela Esquival and Cuban Claudia Olivera will produce the film, with the Frenchwomen Nathalie Trafford, from Paraíso Production Diffusion, and Eva Chillón, from Pomme Hurlante Films.

The director is planning a first rate cast, considering Laura de la Uz for one of the roles, playing the role of the mother of Carlos, the protagonist of the story. The actress, known for films like Hello Hemingway (1990), directed by Fernando Perez for which she won the Coral for best actress, has left a deep impression with her recent role in the film Wedding Dress (2014), by the director Marilyn Solaya.

At the fundraising campaign site, launched Monday, it is explained that 80% of the budget for the shoot has already been raised: $100,000. The amount collected through the public campaign will be used for “fees for the actors, the costs of food, transportation and art.” The announcement makes clear that Capó’s goal is to start shooting the film this coming August.

The young artist is a graduate in Documentary Directing from the International School of Film and Television of San Antonio de los Baños and the Higher Institute of Art (ISA). His documentary Tide (2009) won a special mention at the 31st International Festival of New Latin American Cinema and the second prize in the International Students Documentary Film Festival of India that same year.

More Than 250 Activists Arrested Sunday / 14ymedio

Ladies in White during their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue in Havana. The banner shows Laura Pollán, a co-founder of the organization whose death has never been adequately explained (Angel Moya)
Ladies in White during their traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue in Havana. The banner shows Laura Pollán, a co-founder of the organization whose death has never been adequately explained (Angel Moya)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 29 November 2015 — The number of activists arrested this Sunday exceeded 250 people across the island, as several sources from the Cuban opposition confirmed to this newspaper. The largest number of arrests occurred in the east of the country, where dozens of members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) tried to reach the Sanctuary of Cobre and were intercepted on the way.

In Havana, before the traditional Sunday march down Fifth Avenue, 38 Ladies in White and 45 activists from various movements gathered at Gandhi Park, along with at least a score of foreign visitors, according to several witnesses at the scene and as later confirmed to this newspaper by the dissident Martha Beatriz Roque.

At the conclusion of the walk, the activists were surrounded by police and shock troops in civilian dress who forced them onto several buses. UNPACU member Zaqueo Baez also denounced an arrest with violence by the police. As usual every Sunday, opponents were taken to detention centers. In the afternoon they began to be released.

In the town of Colón, Matanzas, freelance reporter Ivan Hernandez Carrillo reported a strong police operation around the parish where eight Ladies in White attended the Mass, but said no arrests were made.

“The Problem Is Being Resolved” / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and Minister Carlos Alvarado Quesada during the interview with Reinaldo Escobar of 14ymedio (14ymedio)
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and Minister Carlos Alvarado Quesada during the interview with Reinaldo Escobar of 14ymedio (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar (Special envoy), San Jose, Costa Rica, 30 November 2015 — Costa Rica has been overturned this November by the massive arrival of thousands of Cubans. From Ecuador, they tried to walk to the United States, but Nicaragua denied them passage and, desperate, they are stranded on Costa Rica’s northern border. On Sunday, the president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, talked about this immigration crisis in an exclusive interview with 14ymedio.

Reinaldo Escobar. How has Costa Rican civil society responded to this crisis?

President Luis Guillermo Solis. It has had a central role. People have shown up to help in a voluntary and spontaneous way, they have brought clothes and food. Churches have been side by side with us and the migrants, managing the shelters. If it hadn’t been for all this help, it would have been very hard to manage something like this, especially in the first days.

Escobar. Also in the poorest areas of the country? continue reading

Solis. The canton of La Cruz, where at the beginning virtually all of the Cubans were located, is one of the poorest cantons in Costa Rica, but the people there never said, “me first.”

The numbers were impressive. The first Sunday of the journey, when the migrants arrived in the central district of La Cruz there were more Cubans than Costa Ricans, because of the accumulation that was there, specifically. However, there was not a single incident, not a single dispute. Quite the opposite. People wanted to find solutions and they were very supportive.

Escobar. Does the solidarity extend beyond providing food and shelter?

Solis. We asked the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Sports to prepare some recreational activities, because over so many days, with so many people doing nothing and put in a shelter, they were going to go crazy. They got together 500 books, which were not many, and also began setting up football games, baseball games, concerts, putting on plays. The National Children’s Trust put on plays for children. With this we were able to realize something else about the migration, that it is made up of very educated people who wanted to read, who were also very interested in cultural interactions.

Escobar. Did Nicaragua’s closing of the border come as a surprise?

Solis.  Nicaragua’s closure was very unfortunate, because until that time they had been letting the migrants pass. They were passing with visa, a procedure with the ugly technical name of “deportation,” that meant they could cross the country to continue their journey through Nicaragua. It doesn’t seem that they want to open the border, unless talks this Monday between Cuba and the United States, precisely with regards to migration, work out something else.

Escobar. Is there any solution to this crisis in sight?

Solis. There are several solutions, because a ton of factors all have to line up. One that already happened was that Ecuador slowed down the entry of Cubans to its territory, because this was generating a huge flow inexorably headed north. It was very complicated. Second, we need the transit countries to give the migrants document and they are willing to do so. Only Colombia and Panama haven’t yet started this process. In the case of Colombia, because they say that it is physically impossible to control a border as long as theirs with Ecuador.

At the meeting in San Salvado, I believe the governments will recognize the need to give them visas. Because it is not the same journey with a visa as without a visa. We have strongly insisted on it for humanitarian reasons. Because if not, how can we protect them. They need a visa to allow them to move. With a visa they don’t have to be afraid, they can go to the market, connect to the internet, buy a phone card.

We want to be sure that the people making this journey don’t fall into the hands of organized crime, which is what most troubles us. We are also making a call to remain calm.

The other thing is, if the United States wants to resolve this problem, it needs to change the Cuban Adjustment Act. Because right now it is perverse that they can enter, but not by the easiest route, only by the most difficult one. So, Cubans are trapped between their aspirations and the dangers of getting there in this way. This generates some very complicated dynamics, geopolitically on the one hand, and for practical reasons on the other.

I’m not saying build a bridge between Havana and Miami, but certainly when relations between Cuba and the United States are completely normalized they should establish a normal and fluid interchange. So this is why I say there are multiple solutions. We all have to do our part.

Escobar. And the differences between Cuban migrants and those of other nationalities?

Solis. Right now in Central America there is a debate that refers to a core part of the problem. For countries that generate migrants, and I do not want to exclude Costa Rica in that, it is very difficult to deal with a migrant population which, when it arrives at its destination is received, documented, eventually legalized and given a residence card, while its own population, traveling by the same route, is rejected at the border.

On the other hand, all the Cuban migrants come with their passport, they are documented, but our border is also seeing migrants come from Africa, Asia, Pakistan, without papers. The challenge of dealing with this undocumented population is formidable, because legally they don’t even exist. It is a terrible drama.

Escobar. You had announced a trip to Cuba for the 15 December before all this happened. Will the issue of migration occupy a privileged position during the talks?

Solis. We will be obliged to talk about it. Fortunately, I understand that the problem is being resolved, that is, the process to transfer [past Nicaragua] the Cuban population that is now in Costa Rica, and those arriving is being worked on by the Foreign Ministry. I was with the president-elect of Guatemala four days ago and he will continue with the policy of the current government, which is to facilitate passage through their country. And the Government of Mexico also said it would let them pass, so we are resolving it.

Although the subject of Cubans in Costa Rica is part of the agenda, the reasons why I am going to Cuba are also of a different nature; they go much further, because it was planned earlier. We will consolidate a process of normalization that began in the nineties, we will establish in Cuba one of our working sites towards the Caribbean Basin. This government has been promoting dialogue and greater involvement of our investors with that area.

I had breakfast in New York with the heads of state of Caricom focused on this. We are developing our Caribbean province, Limón, so it is the door of Costa Rica to the Caribbean. Cuba is a new reality that can make us competitive in some areas for the Costa Rican economy, but is also an opportunity for exchange and cooperation.

Escobar. What is your opinion of the Cuban people?

Solis. I have a great affection for the Cuban people. Although what we have done for Cuban migration we would for any other migration. In fact, one of the paradoxes of this whole story is that with Nicaragua, Costa Rica has been an open and brotherly country, but now they do not seem to have the same attitude with respect Cuba, which, by the way, has helped them so much.

Escobar. What do you say to those who say that Costa Rica is using Cubans as “spearhead” against Nicaragua?

Solis. We have our “bones to pick” with Nicaragua, we have a complicated agenda. In our case, it is being dealt with legally, in the International Court of Justice and the result will come soon, in the next six to eight weeks. It is one of those contentious border issues, a complicated litigation. In the international bodies is where these suits belong; we have no need to use Cubans as spearhead. That makes no sense.

http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=3&case=152

Solis. I have seen everyone be supportive, without complaints. There are isolated cases of people who have gotten upset. In the cabinet itself, the shock of the first moment was of such magnitude that some came to ask, “How many more are coming, Mr. President?” But it was more the anguish of not knowing.

Escobar. How can future crises like this be avoided?

Solis. First we must understand this as a regional problem and therefore it requires significant international alignment. I have been a convinced integrationist for many years. I believe in Central American integration. In this particular case, integration is to no avail. We knew that, and that’s why we didn’t want to take it to the meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA), because that was not the appropriate forum to discuss this issue. However, we promoted the participation of more countries.

The dimension of this problem obliges us to shine a light on it, it requires that migrants be documented.

Escobar. There has been talk of an airlift. What is the status of that solution?

Solis. We were just discussing that, but as there is no regional agreement, each country decided to announce its own measures on its own time.

57 Children And A Dozen Pregnant Women, The Most Vulnerable Group Of Cuban Migrants / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion of Costa Rica (14ymedio)
Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion of Costa Rica (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar (Special envoy), San Jose, Costa Rica, 30 November 2015 — Among the thousands of Cubans arriving in Costa Rica in recent weeks, one of the biggest concerns for humanitarian organizations and the people are the children. “There are 35 boys and 22 girls who need check-ups to confirm their state of health,” said Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Minister of Human Development and Social Inclusion in a conversation with 14ymedio on Sunday.

“I saw a woman with a baby girl of six months, in the La Garita shelter,” he recalls. “While she was nursing the baby she was telling another person how they were persecuted in Colombia. Her story made a strong impression.”

Alvarado Quesada, a communicator by profession and also president of the Joint Institute for Social Aid (IMAS), said minors are “clearly identified” and referred also to another vulnerable group, the dozen pregnant women in the shelters. continue reading

The latest official figures are that there are 18 locations providing accommodation and care for about 3,013 Cubans. “At least twelve of these places are in Liberia, ten in the canton of La Cruz, four in Upala, one in Guatuso and one in San Ramon,” lists the minister.

Alvarado Quesada agrees with the opinions gathered by this newspaper about the the communities are involved in supporting migrants. “The people of La Cruz and Upala, like other regions, are very committed,” he said, adding that residents have made donations and given all kinds of aid. “Also the churches have joined in solidarity, both Catholic and evangelical and are preparing and bringing food to Cubans,” he continues.

“I visited one of those kitchens where 3,000 meals are prepared daily and, in fact, the chef is Cuban. Every shelter has a Cuban cook, because among these people there is every kind of professional. There are economists, doctors, dancers, boxers …” says Alvarado Quesada.

The Ministry of Health and the Red Cross have conducted a census which includes data such as name, occupation and clothing sizes of the Cubans. “Some of this information will enable us to distribute aid, especially clothes,” explains the president of IMAS. In the case of children it is very important to know the exact measurements to make the distribution of clothes and footwear more effective.

Asked about the possibility of an airlift that would allow the migrants to continue their journey to the United States, Alvarado Quesada is more cautious. “There is willingness to help, but it can not be a flamboyant help, too dramatic,” he says. “This is a matter of freedom, not only of Cubans but the freedom of everyone.”

Hope And Fear At The Border / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Cuban migrants at a shelter in La Cruz, a few yards from the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua (Photo Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)
Cuban migrants at a shelter in La Cruz, a few yards from the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua (Photo Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar (Special envoy), La Cruz, Costa Rica, 29 November 2015 — About 10 miles from the border with Nicaragua is the canton of La Cruz in the province of Guanacaste, in Costa Rica. Peñas Blancas is there, the most important outpost in the north and the place where serious incidents between Cuban migrants and Nicaraguan police have taken place.

At present, a thousand Cubans are distributed among several shelters, some in a church, others in a school and others who do not want to get too far away from the border post spend the night around the customs post. This weekend the whole area is buzzing with people coming and going, among them the migrants and volunteers from humanitarian organizations.

At the customs post there are blankets everywhere, vessels for storing water and clothes hanging on clotheslines, giving the place the look of a tenement in Old Havana. Jorge shares with 60 fellow travelers the floor of a place where they have settled with makeshift mattresses, and continues to wait for Nicaragua to allow them to continue on their way. continue reading

This loquacious Cuban with stubborn dreams completed an official mission as a healthcare worker in Ecuador. He didn’t want his picture taken or his name given to this newspaper, for fear of not being able to return to Cuba, but he relates the long journey that has brought him to Costa Rica.

“The goal of many of us was to complete our mission in Ecuador and in that time to make contacts to return to Quito or other cities with a contract to work privately,” Jorge explained. However, “at the request of the Cuban government, the Ecuadorian authorities ended the ability of Cubans to be placed on the professional register.” He emphasizes, “The Cuban government made this happen.”

Jorge notes with irritation, “I never thought of traveling to the United States.” Summing up his initial plans, he says, “I wanted to be a professional in Ecuador, where I could earn $2,000 a month. Why would I go to the United States to work in construction?”

“They forced me to do this because they shut down the path I was on,” the man says. Unable to register as a health professional left him the option of “cleaning floors in a hotel.” Of the $3,000 salary declared on the contract of his official mission, the Cuban government only paid Jorge $700. All these absurdities led him to undertake the journey to the United States, he says.

On a table outdoors, Beatriz is busy filling in the entrance forms for a group recently arrived at the La Cruz camp. She is a Cuban working with some church or NGO that is there helping Cubans, particularly because she pronounces all the letters of words.*

Beatriz from Camagüey works on a list of newcomers and orients them in the shelter (Photo Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)
Beatriz from Camagüey works on a list of newcomers and orients them in the shelter (Photo Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)

“This you see here is the dining room,” she says. “At any time of day or night people come here from the border and end up in a camp with better living conditions.” The young woman detailed that those in shelters in the town of La Cruz eat breakfast and lunch there. The costs are borne by the community, the church and other organizations, “that have made this possible and that support us in every way they can.”

Before leaving Cuba, Beatriz worked in the restaurant industry in Camagüey and has come to Costa Rica with her husband. They only arrived in Ecuador on 1 November with the intention to begin their journey north on the 10th, but moved it up to the 3rd. “When we got here they had already closed the border.”

She moves with purpose and has an authority that makes newcomers ask her for advice as if she were a specialist in immigration procedures. Only 23, she said she was optimistic that there would soon be a solution for the almost 4,000 “rafters on foot” stranded in Central America. The conviction that she will achieve her dream is based, above all, on her youth, “I have more future than past,” she repeats with certainty.

In the line to be added to “Beatriz’s list,” is Oneiqui Castro, who worked as a butcher in Ciego de Avila. At the registration table he shows his Cuban passport and a Florida state driver’s license in his name. “Two years ago I lived in the United States for 8 months. It went well for me, but I returned to Cuba for matters of the heart. Love played a dirty trick on me and now I’m back,” he says.

However, not everyone is there to reach the United States. The artist Tania Bruguera spent several days accompanying the Cubans at the border and has helped them create a Facebook page under the slogan “Let the Cubans pass.” Open just 72 hours, the site has already been visited 108,700 times.

Tania remains with the “rebel group,” those who do not want to stay in the shelters but prefer to remain as close as possible to the Nicaraguan border. They surround the artist, seeming to feel inspired by her, because of her peaceful yet disobedient vocation. Despite the fact that the official Cuban media never mentioned one word of Bruguera’s performance last December, the majority of those from the island know about it.

Others just don’t understand what is happening. This is the case with Foilan. “How is it possible, that on one day the Sandinistas ask for our help to overthrow Somoza and then receive doctors and teachers from our country, but that now they won’t open their borders,” asks this Havanan. “We have faith; we know we need luck, but the main thing is faith, without it luck is not possible,” he says while fingering the rosary he wears around his neck.

Tamara Roman responds to this paper with a certain air of desperation. She talks as if her life depended on her words. “The greatest fear that we have is that December 15 will arrive, when all the institutions start to get into Christmas, and we will have to stay here until January when the whole thing will start again.” Her fears reach beyond the border: “My greatest fear is that when we get to Mexico they will deport us to Cuba,” she says with anguish.

Katiuska Muñiz from Santa Cruz del Sur in Camagüey, Cuba worked in a Psychiatric Hospital (Photo Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)
Katiuska Muñiz from Santa Cruz del Sur in Camagüey, Cuba worked in a Psychiatric Hospital (Photo Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)

A fear also shared by Katiuska Muniz, from Santa Cruz del Sur in Camagüey. The woman worked at the Psychiatric Hospital in the provincial capital and left her two children, ages 17 and 9, with her mother. She served on an official mission in Venezuela where she was in charge of a pharmacy, but only lasted in the post a little more than two weeks. “I’m a professional and I want to go to America to work,” she explains. “And if it can’t be there, then to any country where my children can have a future.”

She is silent for a long time and looks like she is going to cry, but takes a breath and says, “I would like to thank all the people of Costa Rica, the president and the foreign minister and the entire humanitarian solidarity they are providing to us. We are not hungry or in need. They give us support and protection, the people on the street do not repudiate us but rather they support us; they talk with us, laugh with us, and they make us feel like family.” Her sentiment is shared by all.

As she speaks, another group of migrants has arrived, some laden with backpacks and with sweaty dirt-covered faces. Beatriz begins to take their names and the evening falls on La Cruz.

*Translator’s note: Spoken Cuban Spanish is notably characterized by the dropping of the sounds of many letters.

Stories of Life on the Border / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

A few yards from the border with Nicaragua, Costa Ricans reaffirm their solidarity with Cubans: Welcome Cuban Brothers. This is your house. In Costa Rice we respect: Work, The Right to Succeed, Freedom and Life. (14ymedio Photo / Reinaldo Escobar)
A few yards from the border with Nicaragua, Costa Ricans reaffirm their solidarity with Cubans: Welcome Cuban Brothers. This is your house. In Costa Rice we respect: Work, The Right to Succeed, Freedom and Life. (14ymedio Photo / Reinaldo Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar (Special envoy), Liberia (Costa Rica), 28 November 2015 — A uniformed policeman guards the entrance to the shelter in the church of Nazareth, in the Costa Rican region of Liberia. It is there to protect 70 Cubans who are waiting for the Nicaraguan authorities to allow them to continue their journey to the United States. Journalists are not allowed access, not least because most migrants prefer not to give interviews.

However, the Cuban accent opens all doors. Once inside, a young man from Pinar del Rio explains that his family does not know he is in that situation and he does not want to worry his mother. “She believed I was going around the stores in Quito to buy clothes and then sell them back home in San Juan y Martinez.” Something similar occurs with Maria, an enthusiastic and charismatic woman from Camagüey, who spurred by the emergency has become the voice of the group. continue reading

Maria is a little frightened to comment: “I don’t want, tomorrow, for the Cuban government not to allow me to visit my family.”

Maria is the representative of Cubans who are there. Nobody gave her that position, no one voted for her, but her way of expressing herself and showing natural leadership have led her to speak for those who prefer to remain silent. However she confessed to this newspaper that she finds it a little frightening to make statements: “I don’t want, tomorrow, for the Cuban government not to allow me to visit my family.”

The hostel recalls the Cuban schools in the countryside through which passed the Maria’s and the young Pinareño’s generation. The difference here is that they are not forced to work in agriculture, nor to listen to the tiresome ideological propaganda of the morning assemblies. They are free, but have one obsession: continuing the path to the “land of freedom,” they say.

Sioveris Carpio left on 3 September for Ecuador. He never imagined that his journey would be complicated in this way. He arrived in Costa Rica on 12 November when the border with Nicaragua was already closed. Now, when asked if he wasn’t tempted to turn around, he uses a slogan heard thousands of times from Cuban officialdom: “Pa’ tras ni para coger impulso*.” And he adds with a smile, “My objective is to get there.”

He is an amateur musician, finished the 12th grade, and had worked as an animator and audio operator in Trinidad, but he lives in Condado, a corner of Escambray where the alzados – the anti-communists – were active in the sixties. “I live near where there is a monument to Manuel Ascunce, the literacy teacher killed by the alzados,” he says, and immediately clarifies, “the fact that I am going to the United States doesn’t mean that I’m against the Revolution.” In the conversation there is only this reporter and the impassioned young man, but at times he speaks as if a thousand ears are listening.”

“I was born and raised under a Revolutionary roof, what is happening is that I am looking for an economic improvement,” says Carpio Sioveris

“I was born and raised under a Revolutionary roof, what is happening is that I am looking for an economic improvement,” he says. He repeats the litany of many about his decision, that he “isnot political”, but admits that he has chosen the United States” because it is a country where you can find an opportunity to prosper.”

If “things get bad” and he can not continue toward reaching his dream, he will stay in Costa Rica. “Right here,” he says and states that “people are good and we have the same language, but life is expensive and it is not easy to find work.”

In Cuba he left his entire family and says that his parents “are suffering a lot because they know I’m here.” His dream, however includes the goal of one day returning to Cuba. “Not now, because unfortunately there are no opportunities, wages are minimal to the point that if you buy a pair of pants you can not eat that month.”

Carpio is a skeptic of the economic changes that have occurred on the island in recent years. “The results will be seen only long term. We will have to wait a long time and I am almost 40.” The clock of his life has marked a critical time and he prefers to spend the rest of it in foreign lands.

“Here on the roof of my house I have an antenna for television and they tell me that in their country satellite dishes are prohibited,” says a Costa Rican

But Carpio is only part of this drama. The people of Nazareht have seen dozens of these migrants arriving on their territory and have come out to help them. Mauricio Martinez has lived, from birth, across from the Bethel church in the Nazareht neighborhood, although he is not a member of the church. Now he dedicates many hours of his time talking to the Cubans.

Mauricio Martinez has lived, since he was born, across from Bethel church in the Nazareht neighborhood (Photo 14ymedio / Reinaldo Escobar)
Mauricio Martinez has lived, since he was born, across from Bethel church in the Nazareht neighborhood (Photo 14ymedio / Reinaldo Escobar)

“I’ve never seen anything like what’s happening here today. At first we had some concern, but the people are very quiet and very well educated. They are very friendly,” he confirms.

The help that the community has given to migrants has been spontaneous. People bring clothes or food, “according to what everyone can because we are humble people,” says Martinez. “But we’ve realized what is thay are going through and so we are collaborating,” he reflects.

The arrival of the Cubans is also leaving a deep impression in the way many Costa Ricans see the world. “Knowing them has allowed us to learn a very different reality to ours and also different from what we could imagine,” says a solicitous neighbor. “Here on the roof of my house I have an antenna for television and they tell me that in their country satellite dishes are prohibited, and thus I realize what they are looking for in freedom” he says.

A vehicle from the firm Movistar is parked front of the shelter. Mr. Benavides, a sales agent, is satisfied with his success in selling phones, SIM cards and recharges to the Cubans. “Since we learned that the shelters were filled with these migrants we assumed that they probably wanted to communicate with their families.”

“I came here with my wife but I left my four children, two grandchildren and my mother,” says Julio Cesar, who operated a tire retreading machine

The employee says that “there is a commercial interest, but the first thing that got us here was the desire to help.” He adds, “It’s amazing how they know the brand names, they are modern people and are eager to prosper.”

It is not easy to win the confidence of those who have had to sneal across several borders and fear that what little money they have left will be taken away or that they will be deceived by traffickers, but some speak to this newspaper with the familiarity of old friends.

Julio Cesar Vega Ramirez of San José de las Lajas, is not afraid of anything. He left Ecuador heading to Colombia without knowing the way, then by boat to Panama and then to Costa Rica, where he was given a pass for seven days that has been extended for fifteen more. “With this visa we can move around the country freely,” he says.

The man says that “everyone here has helped us, the church’s neighbors, the organizations. They bring sacks of cassava or bananas without charging a cent. The Cubans living in San Jose have also brought donations. ” Although he has also had the support of his family in Miami. “They have sent me the money bit by bit because it is not advisable to walk around with a lot of money,” he explains.

Julio César operated a tire retreading machine. “I came here with my wife but I left my four children, two grandchildren and my mother.” He said his family was aware of what was going to do. “Although I said nothing at work for fear that someone would spill the beans and spoil the plan.”

His wife, Maritza Guerra, has a degree in nursing and a master’s degree in comprehensive care for children. For years she has been a nurse in the pediatric ward of the Leopoldito Martinez Hospital in San José de las Lajas. It is also pediatric intensive care nurse. “Here we communicate with our families and friends thanks to wifi zone they immediately established for us completely free. I would like to ask those Cubans in exile and on the island to help us, please, do something for us,” she clamors insistently.

In the afternoon, when the sun goes down, the trees are filled with birds. The noise they make is very different from the sparrows in the parks of Cuba, because there is a lot of variety and they all sing differently. Birds coexist with each other and fly freely from one side of the border to the other.

*Translator’s note: Para atrás, ni para coger impulso. Roughly: No going back, not even to gain momentum (for another charge).

A Matter of Law / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya

Nicaraguan police guarding the border with Costa Rica to prevent passage to Cubans bound for the United States (Photo Álvaro Sánchez / EFE)
Nicaraguan police guarding the border with Costa Rica to prevent passage to Cubans bound for the United States (Photo Álvaro Sánchez / EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 24 November 2015 — The crisis that has led to a bottleneck of more than 2,000 Cubans on the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua these last few days brings to the forefront the issue of the incessant flow of émigrés from Cuba to the US, creating a delicate collateral diplomatic situation between the two Central American nations.

Belatedly, as it is usual for the Cuban government to react to important situations that they would rather avoid, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published a statement attributing all the causes for the exodus to the Cuban Adjustment Act and the “wet foot/dry foot” policy that the U.S. applies to those who flee the Island.

In short, according to the official Cuban version, responsibility for the growing tide of migration from Cuba to that country belongs entirely to the US administration, which is jeopardizing the process of reconciliation and dialogue between the two governments which began in December, 2014. 

With rampant disregard towards its people, the power is, once again, ignoring the human drama of emigration

Here is a situation where a foreign power applies a law that incites in Cubans the irrepressible urge to embark on an uncertain and dangerous adventure. continue reading

This portrayal, attributed to hundreds of thousands of Cubans who emigrate to the US, or aspire to do so, depicts them with the regrettable inability to reason for themselves, and, paradoxically, calls into question the much-vaunted national sovereignty, since it assumes that a law established by a foreign power is a necessary and sufficient condition to cause what is becoming a gradual and constant emptying of the Island.

Meanwhile, the official press ventriloquists have been ordered to support their boss, so very astute comments from its analysts have started to appear on television news programs and in newspapers. For Castro-style journalism, all resources are valid, starting from the most rude and cynic comment, offensive to the Cuban people, that mocks the national misfortune that this never-ending escape represents: from “Anyone who has $ 15,000 to pay a smuggler is not fleeing from poverty,” was the comment of Oliver Zamora, a yeomen of the guard, on last Friday’s primetime broadcast of the National Television News; to the reductionist, untimely and manipulative “opinion” article – “The Cuban Adjustment Act. From the escape to the stockade” – by Ricardo Ronquillo, in Sunday’s Juventud Rebelde.

Resolution of this problem is in the hands of the Cuban authorities, also from a legal perspective, that is, revamping the laws in our country

Both pawns stick to the Master’s script that points to the Cuban Adjustment Act – enacted and in effect since 1966 – as the cause and continuation of the problem, and the government’s defense is sustained on that aspect, which motivates the challenge of debating from a legal perspective.

Thus, accepting that such a law affects the Cuban exodus to some extent, and mercifully leaving aside the element that one of its greatest beneficiaries is precisely the Cuban government, whose coffers swell each year with the merciless tax it imposes on contributions sent from emigres to their relatives in Cuba, it is unquestionable that the resolution of this problem is in the hands of the Cuban authorities, as well as from a legal perspective, that is, revamping the laws in our country.

The absolute power of the Cuban regime places it in a privileged position when it comes to legislating, since the General-President is not required to consult anyone nor to have the approval of any parallel power to enact laws at will. If Castro II wants to defeat the formidable power he attributes to the Cuban Adjustment Act, and if he wants to avoid the shameful humiliation that a foreign law has greater convocation capability for the Cuban people than does the Revolutionary discourse of over half a century, he should make deep legal changes in favor of the governed, so that they benefit from our laws and not from the laws of others.

For instance, the Foreign Investment Law could be revised to acknowledge the rights of Cubans to invest in their own country, given that, as Oliver Zamora has stated, Cubans are not fleeing poverty, since they have funds to pay traffickers. It is logical to offer them the opportunity of a better way to invest their money in their own country. Incidentally, tax laws could be relaxed to establish soft taxing for Cuban investors, offer them low-interest, long-term credit, and enact favorable import tariffs for to improve the performance of their businesses.

I am convinced that the new scenario that would appear in Cuba from this revamping would greatly discourage the disorderly stampede of emigrants to the United States

The labor codes could also be reviewed to grant Cuban workers the right to strike, the right to unionize, and the right to enter into contracts; a new agrarian reform could be enacted that places ownership of the land in the hands of producers who work it; the period of time that Cubans can remain abroad without losing the right to return to their home country when they wish could be declared unlimited; provisions that establish the loss of citizenship could be repealed and the full right of all Cubans residing in Cuba or abroad to enter and leave the national territory and to participate in elections could be recognized.

Other legal issues that are entirely dependent on the will of the Cuban government and not on that of the U.S. are those concerning the consecration of those rights intrinsic to democratic societies, such as freedoms of expression, of opinion and of the press, and the multiparty system, just to mention the most elementary.

I am convinced that the new scenario that would appear in Cuba from this revamping would greatly discourage the disorderly stampede of emigrants to the United States. The suitability of Cuban laws would eventually defeat the evil power of the Cuban Adjustment Act and acknowledge the Cuban establishment. It would ultimately become clear that, in effect, the Cuban emigration problem is only a matter of law.

IMO, Person of the Year in Cuba / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez

A Cuban migrant navigating the internet on her cellphone from a shelter in Nazareht, Costa Rica (photo 14ymedio)
A Cuban migrant navigating the internet on her cellphone from a shelter in Nazareht, Costa Rica (photo 14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 28 November 2015 – December will soon be here and numerous lists of this year’s protagonists will be published in Cuba. A difficult task in a country that over the last 12 months was visited by a pope, a secretary of state and even by Mick Jagger. However, the person who takes all the palms is not a politician, a religious leader or a rocker. It is a mobile application with a short name and a profound impact on our reality: IMO.

With over 150 million accounts worldwide, this video-call tool burst into our daily lives mid-year to shorten distances and reunite families. With its simple interface and capacity to adapt itself to the low speeds of our internet connection, IMO has achieved what insularity and politics has limited for so long: contact with the world. continue reading

Headquartered in Palo Alto, the startup responsible for this tool for text chats, voice and video, was founded by one of the first ten Google employees, who says that he likes working “on challenging projects.” A maxim that has been extensively tested in Cuba, where despite the technological obstacles the app has spread virally through smartphones and tablets.

Anyone who says that technology distances us and locks us in solitude, can wander through the wifi zone on Havana’s La Rampa and see the tears and smiles this utility gives rise to when Cubans connect between here and there. The emotions are very much as if they were face to face. There is no coldness on the screen, nothing dehumanizing on the keyboard, when they are the only chance of encountering the people we love.

The corner of Infanta and 23rd, any Saturday. A lady enjoys the son she hasn’t seen for two decades, checks out his latest hair dye, while the emigrant’s sister has brought the dog who also participates in the moment. At their side, a young man no more than 20 insistently repeats, while holding the phone in front of his face, “Don’t delay, get me out of here.” Through IMO we have tackled, in recent months, our hopes and our despair.

Even prostitution with foreigners has become more technological through the new utility. Now “the merchandise” is evaluated before the customer arrives in the country. The other day a young girl swept a tablet with a camera over her whole body while, on the other side, someone with a German accent asked if it was true that she was over 18.

However, IMO deserves the title of Person of the Year above all because of the key role it has played in the migratory crisis facing close to 4,000 Cubans on the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. While the official media remained silent about these rafters-on-foot, this tool has kept their families on the island informed about the fates of their loved ones trapped in Central America.

Alarm Bells on the Route of the Illegal Market / 14ymedio, Orlando Palma

Informal vendors of glasses, a product that comes into Cuba mostly through mules. (14ymedio)
Informal vendors of glasses, a product that comes into Cuba mostly through mules. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Orlando Palma, Havana, 27 November 2015 – Children’s clothes and sneakers were a part of the goods being called out by an illegal vendor this Thursday on Galiano Street in Havana. Although it is just four days until the migratory restrictions on Cubans announced by Ecuador take effect, alarm has already spread among merchants and “mules.”

The news of the new visa requirement for Cubans, starting on December 1, has fallen like a bucket of cold water, and not just among those who were planning to leave with Quito being the first step to their final destination: the United States. The bad news also affects a wide network in importing, distribution and sale of illegal goods that range from cleaning supplies to sophisticated appliances. continue reading

This Friday, when there are still no tangible effects of the change, the vendors already anticipate a drastic fall in their merchandise and customers fear the loss of variety in clothing and footwear now available on the illegal market. On the street, many speculate that the probability that prices will rise in the coming days and will trigger sales, especially so close to Christmas.

The mules who arrive in Havana on the Taca flight that landed shortly after five in the afternoon on Thursday felt fortunate. Coming from Quito, after a stop in San Salvador, the Cubans felt like shipwreck survivors and were received with relief by their families outside the airport.

The luggage belt was full of the so-called bolas – suitcases full of clothes, shoes and home appliances, wrapped in nylon in the airport of origin. The customs dispatch the bolas first and the passengers with suitcases have to wait behind the priority of the obvious freight traffic. Despite strict legislation approved in September 2014 on non-commercial imports, a whole network of corruption guarantees that the merchandise passes through the controls without major incidents.

A young man of 32, who asked to remain anonymous, was one of the fortunate ones who ended his trip to Ecuador without legal holdups. “We arrived just in time,” he told 14ymedio on his arrival at Terminal 3 at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, where he heard about the announcement of the new restrictions on Cuban nationals entering Ecuador. “There was a rumor there that they were going to close the door soon, but we never imagined it would be so soon,” he added.

The boy’s luggage contained everything from Christmas wreaths to a carpenter’s saw. “I should have risked bringing more stuff, because now I don’t know when I’ll be able to travel,” he lamented while his cousin helped him to push two carts full of bolas and boxes between which a flat screen TV also peeked out.

From now on Ecuador will apply the same restrictions as Panama, Mexico and the other nearby nations, which already require Cubans to have a visa to enter the country. Instead, holders of Spanish passports or Cubans with five-year visas to the United States will be able to travel freely, as before, to all those countries, including Ecuador. For informal traders, this path was a safe route despite the high ticket prices, which in the high season can exceed $1,000 US.

The buyers have also benefited from the use of this Ecuadorian trade route. The high prices of products in state sores push many families to buy their clothes and shoes in the illegal market, following an unwritten maxim often shared on this island: priority to individuals, rather than the State.

A pair of sneakers, which in the hard currency stores cost around 45 convertible pesos (roughly $45 US), can but got for half the price and of better quality. “You see these Adidas? You can’t find them here,” says Victor Manuel, a high school student who says he lives for clothes. “That’s what matters most to me,” he says.

The official press published a note this Friday on the new immigration rules for Cubans going to Ecuador. In the same issue, an article criticized the preference for foreign products among Cuban children and youth. The main reproach is directed directly to backpacks and accessories with the faces of Barbie dolls which are some of the products the mules import from Ecuador.

Despite the fears, some traders seem confident that the situation will be resolved. “We’ll find another way, we always have done,” assured the young man who arrived on the Taca flight. The bolas that he brought on his last trip from Ecuador barely fit in the family car that came to pick him up at the airport.

Cubans Propose Paying for Air Transport Out of Costa Rica / 14ymedio

A Cuban woman stranded in Costa Rica attempts to communicate by phone with relatives on the island. (Reinaldo Escobar)
A Cuban woman stranded in Costa Rica attempts to communicate by phone with relatives on the island. (Reinaldo Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 November 2015 — A group of Cuban migrants stranded in the Costa Rican city of La Cruz on the border with Nicaragua, have sent a letter to the country’s government in San Jose, and to other countries involved in finding a solution to the crisis, asking them to analyze the option of a “humanitarian corridor” by air, as revealed Friday in the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa.

Nearly 4,000 Cubans are in the north of Costa Rica where, as of November 14, Nicaragua has blocked their passage to continue on their way to the United States. The signatories of the document, some 200 people staying at the de La Cruz Night School assure that most of them have enough money to meet the cost of the flight. continue reading

“Today in La Cruz, Guanacaste province, there are a significant number of Cuban immigrants who are able to afford to travel without occasioning any government expenditures,” they say. They explain they sold their homes and belongings before the trip and they have the support of family and friends abroad.

This letter is in addition to other statements shared through the Facebook page, “Let the Cubans pass.” In a post published this Thursday from Peñas Blancas, the migrants addressed the Nicaraguan people. “The decision of President Daniel Ortego not only promotes human trafficking, but creates a problem where none existed, putting political interests above human rights,” they write.

Just a day earlier, the Cubans sent their “heartfelt thanks” to the institutions and people of Costa Rica. “At no time has it been our objective to disturb your tranquility and daily routine, but given the current circumstances we have been forced to stay longer than expected,” they explain.

Cubans in Nazareht, Costa Rica / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Pastor Gerardo Obando. (Reinaldo Escobar)
Pastor Gerardo Obando. (Reinaldo Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar (Special envoy), Liberia (Costa Rica), 27 November 2015 — The morning was warm and the Nazareht neighborhood had been listening for days to the distinctive Cuban accent. This point in the geography of Liberia, capital of Costa Rica’s Guanacaste province, is now one of the places where dozens of our Cuban compatriots are waiting to continue their journey to the United States.

At least 70 of them are housed in the premises of the Bethel Assembly of God Church. This newspaper spoke with Gerardo Obando, Costa Rican and pastor of the congregation, who detailed the current situation of the migrants in his care.

Escobar. Have you had any previous experience with migrants?

Pastor Obando. This is the first time that we have had this kind of emergency. When we were contacted by the authorities of the National Emergency Commission (CNE) we didn’t hesitate to say yes, to be able to help our Cuban brothers. My wife and I came from a tour of Nicaragua two Sundays ago and we couldn’t cross because the border was closed. We had to stay one more day on that side and it really bothered us, we were very sorry for the Cubans. continue reading

Especially thinking that there were children, older people, and because it was raining at the time. We were there, praying for them and it was a surprise when we arrived here the same Monday and the CNE coordinator contacted us to ask if we would lend our facilities.

Escobar. Is it a solitary task or are you being supported?

Pastor Obando. Several independent organizations and government institutions are involved, such as the Red Cross, the National Children’s Trust, the Lions Club and the national Ombudsman, among others. They have all been hand in hand here with us.

Escobar. Has there been any rejection by nearby residents to the arrival of so many Cubans?

Pastor Obando. People living here have reacted in a very humane way, there has been no opposition. They have been lending a hand, bringing any kind of assistance that may be needed here. Even some who do not come to the church have baked bread and brought it and milk for the Cubans.

Escobar. Are the migrants are being held here?

Pastor Obando. They are not prisoners here. They have complete freedom and can come and go. We only have a time when we close the gates, for reasons of security. On the other hand, they have visas and Immigration came yesterday and extended their visas for 15 days.

Escobar. Nicaragua officials have hinted that these people are criminals. Have there been violent incidents in the shelter?

Pastor Obando. We have not had any incidents. There is harmony and they are very nice people, well educated and very helpful. They have collaborated with us in fixing some things around the building, they are eager to work.

Nazareht shelter in Liberia, Costa Rica, home to some of the thousands of Cubans stranded in the country.(Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)
Nazareht shelter in Liberia, Costa Rica, home to some of the thousands of Cubans stranded in the country.(Reinaldo Escobar / 14ymedio)

Escobar. Do they participate in church services?

Pastor Obando. Yes, many are participating. We are also praying for them that they may continue their journey to the United States.

Escobar. What have you heard them say they wish for most?

Pastor Obando. The biggest dream of all of them is to reach freedom. Many of them have dreamt since childhood of a freedom they have not had.

Henry Constantin Arrested at the Airport on His Return From Lima / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar

Henry Constantin. (14ymedio)
Henry Constantin. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 26 November 2015 — Journalist and activist Henry Constantin, director of the magazine La hora de Cuba (Cuba’s Hour), a member of the editorial board of the magazine Convivencia (Coexistence) and collaborator with 14ymedio, was arrested at three in the afternoon on Thursday at customs in the José Martí Airport, as he himself reported via text message. “They demand my laptop. And magazine. I respectfully refuse. They do not let me talk,” he said in his text.

Constantin arrived in Havana from Lima, Peru, where he participated in the Conference of Investigative Journalism (COLPIN), along with Amarilis Cortina Rey, Ernesto Perez Chang, Ignacio Gonzalez Vidal and Armando Soler.

Later, Inalkis Rodriguez said by telephone from Camagüey that Constantin was taken to the Boyeros police station, near the airport. However, Constantin confirmed to this newspaper that moments before getting into the car that was to take him to the police station, he was told he could go. According to his account, he was able to handle the pressure and remained in possession of his laptop. He then headed to Camagüey.

Meanwhile, Ignacio Gonzalez, director of En Caliente Prensa Libre (In Hot Free Press), said that he was also separated for a “routine examination” in the words of Cuban Customs officials.

They searched all his luggage, but after a while let him leave without further consequences.

Cubans Protest outside Ecuador’s Embassy in Havana / 14ymedio

Woman argues with uniformed Cuban agent in front of the Ecuadorian embassy in Havana
Woman argues with uniformed Cuban agent in front of the Ecuadorian embassy in Havana (EFE)

14ymedio bigger[UPDATED] 14ymedio, Havana, 27 November 2015 — Hundreds of Cubans, on Friday, demonstrated their dissatisfaction with Quito’s decision to require visas from he island’s nationals as of Tuesday, December 1.

The embassy, ​​located in the Miramar neighborhood, is currently cordoned off by a strong police operation preventing anyone from approaching. The agents assert that “last night several people tried to sneak into the embassy,” although the majority of those congregating on the corners were talking about the unreliability of the official version.

Many people are also gathered in front of the offices of the airlines that fly to Ecuador, to demand or change tickets. At the office of Copa Airlines in Miramar, people continued to gather despite an employee advising them, an hour ago, that there are no more tickets for Ecuador until April Some have stayed, despite the warning, hoping to be refunded the price of their ticket.

Copa Airline offices at the Havana Trade Center in Miramar where customers gathered this Friday to request tickets prior to December 1 (14ymedio)
Copa Airline offices at the Havana Trade Center in Miramar where customers gathered this Friday to request tickets prior to December 1 (14ymedio)

The Ecuadorian consul in Cuba, Soraya Encalada, took to the streets with other diplomats to explain that her government’s position is not to “obstruct” travel, but to “prevent human trafficking,” according to the press agency EFE. The diplomat said that the decision to require visas from Cubans was a “temporary situation,” which required everyone interested in traveling to Ecuador to enter their data into the embassy’s website in a “simplified” procedure to speed up the paperwork.

For years, Cubans who want to reach the United States have flown to Ecuador because it did not require a visa. The migrants would then continue their journey through seven countries (Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico), facing many difficulties and dangers on the way.

Tania Bruguera is With Cubans in Costa Rica / 14ymedio

Tania Bruguera, in Costa Rica, with Cubans stranded at the border. (Youtube / screenshot)
Tania Bruguera, in Costa Rica, with Cubans stranded at the border. (Youtube / screenshot)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 26 November 2015 — The artist Tania Bruguera heeded the call of some of the more than 3,000 Cuban migrants who have been stuck for more than ten days ago in the north of Costa Rica after the Government of Nicaragua prevented their continuing their journey to United States.

A group of migrants created a Facebook page called “Let the Cubans Pass” so that “the world will know their names, experiences and professions in order to contradict those who brand Cubans trying to reach the United States as criminals.”

“I want to show my solidarity by being there with them. I have no plan, I am not anybody who is going change any situation. But well, at least to be with them,” said Bruguera in an interview published by the Costa Rican online journal Socialism Today. continue reading

“A mechanism needs to be created for the people to hold the government accountable in a peaceful and legal way, without it being seen as a counterrevolutionary attitude” she stresses.

“I think the government is dedicated to lowering people’s hopes and what we are seeing today is that a year after [the restoration of relations with the US] people do not see a solution to their problems and prefer to sell their homes and leave their families and go to another country to seek their fortune rather than stay in Cuba to see what happens,” she says. “In Cuba there is no economic migration that is not political.”

Bruguera has also been affected by government limitations on movement when, between late December of 2014 and August of this year she was prevented from leaving Cuba. After being held on the island for eight months for organizing a performance in Revolution Square in Havana, the authorities finally returned her passport and she was able to take up a fellowship at Yale University.

The artist has worked previously on the subject of migrants, in particular when she founded the Immigrant Movement International, an art project conceived in 2006 and presented by Creative Time and the Queens Museum of Art. With this initiative she proposed to initiate a socio-political movement, so she spent a year working in the multicultural neighborhood of Corona, Queens in New York City.

President Solis Assures Cubans Of Costa Rica’s Support To Reach US / EFE – 14ymedio

The president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis
The president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis

14ymedio biggerEFE (published in 14ymedio), San Jose, Costa Rica, 26 November 2015 — The president Luis Guillermo Solis of Costa Rica, on Wednesday, guaranteed the thousands of Cuban migrants who have been stranded in his country since 14 November that his government will make every effort to help them reach the United States, their final destination. “We will do whatever is necessary for you people to get to your destination and while you are here to live with dignity,” said the president at a press conference in San Jose.

Solis said that, following Nicaragua’s opposition to allowing the islanders to pass through that country, Costa Rica is making bilateral contacts with other countries involved in the migratory path of these people, to find a solution.

The solution is to “establish routes that allow them to continue their journey. The conditions, time and number are details that we are refining, but in this situation it is clear that we will not have the cooperation of Nicaragua and therefore we must take other measures under consideration.” continue reading

President Solis said that Costa Rica will not abandon the Cuban immigrants, but warned that their trip to the United States will be a process that will take time.

“In Costa Rica we will facilitate their travel and this entails a great effort not only to conclude the final negotiations with each country, many of whom will announce measures in the coming days, but also to guarantee, as long as they are in our territory, that they are living in adequate conditions,” he said.

Solis’s involvement in the case of Cuban migrants even led to an exchange views with the Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez through the artist’s blog. The Costa Rican president left a comment on a post in which the singer demanded solutions for the migrants and criticized Solis for advocating a humanitarian corridor to the United States only for the Cubans and not for other Latin American, knowing that “there is a special law that favors the arrival of our people with dry feet.”

Solis Rodriguez said that it is most urgent is to find solutions for those at the border who are not at fault. The president also added that Nicaragua and Costa Rica would be wrong to “insinuate the situation of the migrants into geopolitics.”

Costa Rican Minister of Communications Mauricio Herrera Ulloa also responded to the musician, saying that his government’s request is “more than politics, it is humanitarian.”

The troubadour thanked the minister for his comments and acknowledged having written his post without all the information and out of concern for his compatriots. But then, Rodriguez added: “In addition to the best intentions of the Government in which you are a minister, there is constant propaganda against my country.”

Meeting in El Salvador on Tuesday, the foreign ministers of the countries of Central America, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia sought a solution to the current crisis and also a long-term solution to Cuban emigration.

However, Nicaragua was adamant in not allowing the entry of Cubans to its territory, and accused Costa Rica of causing a humanitarian crisis by “ignoring the responsibility of the United States in the issue of illegal migration” and demanded that the immigrants be withdrawn from the border area.

As of 14 November, Costa Rica has granted temporary transit visas to 3,600 Cubans who arrived at its border with Panama, and has set up 12 shelters to provide humanitarian aid in communities near the border with Nicaragua.

President Solis also said that resolving the crisis will require “slowing down” the flow of Cubans into Costa Rica from Panama.

On Tuesday the Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez accused Nicaragua of being “intransigent” and acting in “bad faith” in this matter and said the region intends to find a solution.

The immigrants left Cuba legally by air and flew to Ecuador, which does not require them to have a visa, and from there they traveled “irregularly” through Colombia and Panama to Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican government has attributed this migratory wave to the dismantling of a human trafficking network and the rumor on the island that the United States is going to repeal its immigration laws that favor Cubans.