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20 years

Cuban man remains in Costa Rica airport after three weeks

Yorvanky Perez de Piña and wife Yorleny Marín (YouTube)

Yorvanky Perez de Piña and wife Yorleny Marín (YouTube)

May 14th, 2014 ( A Cuban man who claims he would be in danger if deported back to Cuba remains in Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaria International Airport after three weeks.


Yorvanky Perez de Piña has been living in the airport since his arrival on April 24th on a flight from Havana, Cuba.


Perez has apparently been on a hunger strike for the past seven days, allegedly forgoing all food and water, and the man’s Costa Rican wife says she is concerned for his health.


Yorleny Marín, the man’s wife, said each day Perez is getting weaker.  “He no longer gets up, you touch his lips and they are very dry,” she said.


Perez told his wife that if he is returned to Cuba he is “going to die.”


On Monday, Marín made a personal visit to the home of President Luis Guillermo Solís and personally delivered a request for political asylum for her husband.


“He shook my hand and said he knew of the case but was not very well informed,” she said.


The visit, however, doesn’t seem to have worked.  Immigration officials yesterday denied Perez’s request for asylum for the third time.


Perez had previously been living in Costa Rica since early 2012.  He had traveled to Cuba and spent six months caring for his ill mother, according to Perez, but was refused re-entry to Costa Rica after returning from the trip on April 24th.


Perez had a provisional refugee ID card and a work permit but both were expired, his lawyer said, adding that Perez had never requested permanent residence despite the fact that he has been married to a Costa Rican woman since April 2012.


Last month, the couple’s lawyer filed a writ of habeas corpus aimed at getting his client released, after which the constitutional court ordered authorities to provide Perez with food and facilities for his personal hygiene and to not deport him while the matter is being resolved.


After yesterday’s ruling, Perez’s deportation seems imminent, but may pose trouble for immigration agents and fellow airline passengers.


Faced with deportation shortly after his initial arrival in the country, Perez smeared his body with his own feces.  Airline personnel declined to have the feces-covered Perez board the aircraft back to Havana, to the relief of other passengers.



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  • disgusted

    Timothy W.,

    Do you know what passport he traveled on going back to Cuba?
    Plus if he so afraid of Cuban government why did he go back in the first place, and for 6 months?
    Why did he not follow though on his papers here?
    What is the reasoning for him to remain at airport and not the detention center?? or just release him to his home here?/ I see if you bring in 1,900 kilos of cocaine the judge just releases you anyway.

    I worked in a prison for 10 yrs and the smearing of feces is often a common ploy when confronted by guards and getting attention.


      Good point. Why did he go back to Cuba for 6 months? Why didn´t his wife go with him to Cuba?

    • Timothy Williams

      Your first three questions I cannot answer as I have no idea.

      Regarding him being kept in the airport, I can only speculate, but my assumption would be that while he remains in the international zone of the airport he isn’t technically on “Costa Rican soil” and hasn’t been admitted into Costa Rican territory.

      By moving him past the point of the international zone and immigration point of the airport to the detention center, he would then be “in” Costa Rica which could potentially confer to him additional rights (court appeals, etc.). Also, as he is not yet “in” Costa Rica, by definition he is not an illegal immigrant, so I’m not sure they can legally put him in immigration holding, which is considered a type of arrest (he would have to be arrested to take him there in the first place, and unless he tries sneaking past the immigration point, he has committed no crime).

      This is precisely why airlines are supposed to check and double check that passengers have all necessary documentation required to enter the arrival country.

      • SDPUS

        I believe you are exactly correct on this Tim. He is in no mans land.

      • disgusted

        Timothy thank you for your insight and response. Still someday maybe we can find out the other 3 question. wasn’t there a movie with Tom Hanks same situation/ in limbo in airport?

        • Timothy Williams

          “The Terminal.” :)

      • HONEST MAN


        Any news of this story? Has this Cuban Guy left the Airport yet?

    • Timothy Williams

      By the way, we are working on your first question and will likely have an official answer soon enough.

      The other two are questions that only Perez can answer.

      Thank you for reading ICR.


    I am a little conserned about this case. Why did he leave Costa Rica in the first place? Where did he meet his Costa Rican wife in Cuba or Costa Rica? What is he running from in Cuba? Did he have a home in Cuba or a Job? Why was he apart from his wife so long like 6 months? Does he have family in Cuba? This case is very strange.

  • expatin paradise

    We’ve discussed this situation when it was previously reported. Since he only arrived in CR in 2012, he almost has to be traveling on a Cuban passport or some forgery – he never bothered to get legal CR residency documents, so he couldn’t have a CR passport. Since he was able to travel back to and then from Cuba (according to the article, to care for his ill mother), he clearly isn’t on a Cuban government enemies list, or he would have been thrown into jail on arrival in Havana six months ago. Accordingly, the refugee claim is almost certainly bogus. Apparently, CR Immigration felt so three times. Like most of those who go to the US from Cuba as refugees, he is almost certainly here for a better standard of living than he had in Cuba and possibly because he found love (unless the marriage was a ploy to get residency), not because of political persecution. He should be hosed down and put into a straightjacket, if necessary, for the flight back to Havana.

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