14ymedio, Lorey Saman, Mexico, 24 August 2021 — Costa Rica granted refugee status to 249 Cubans between January and April of 2021, a considerable increase compared to the 48 it granted in the whole of last year. According to the latest figures published by the General Directorate of Migration and Alien Affairs, most of these procedures are filed by people arriving in the country from Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Although Cubans historically did not belong to one of the migrant groups that benefit most from refuge in the Central American nation, the rise in numbers may be related to the special asylum category, which began to be implemented in mid-November and which the Costa Rican government decided to expand at the end of last month.
The process takes into account migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua who “have applied for refugee recognition after January 1, 2010 and before March 18, 2022” and remained “continuously in the national territory during the same period.”
Despite the increase of refugees in the first four months of the year, the Cuban Embassy in Costa Rica informed Radio Monumental “that these are not persecuted citizens” and that the migrants left the island legally.
The consular headquarters insisted that the Cubans “are not leaving a nation at war, are not in danger of death, nor do they meet the characteristics to be refugees, but they only seeking to settle in the United States,” the local media quoted the local media as saying.
However, Migración y Extranjería stated last year that the special asylum category was implemented because, since 2014, Costa Rica has registered a dramatic increase in refugee applications from Cubans, a group that is “changing its migratory behavior” and seeking to settle in the country.
With the extension of the special asylum category, Costa Rican authorities intend to provide migrants with legal residence in the country and facilitate the corresponding documentation so that they can carry out work activities.
In 2018, Cuba and Costa Rica signed an agreement on migration matters, in order to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the fight against irregular migration, human smuggling and trafficking, as well as associated crimes.
The Central American country is an obligatory route for Cubans marching towards northern Mexico to cross the border and seek political asylum in the United States. After Joe Biden came to power and announced a more tolerant immigration policy, thousands of Cuban nationals living in countries such as Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Ecuador, have taken the route to North America.
Translated by: Hombre de Paz
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