Guatemala/San Jose, Dec 28 (EFE).- The countries that comprise the Central American Integration System (SICA) agreed late Monday to carry out an initial “pilot humanitarian transfer” of thousands of Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica to El Salvador, and later to Mexico from where they will continue their journey to the United States, in January.
The move was agreed to after a working group was set up that will have responsibility for coordinating the transfer, the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry announced on Monday, without giving further details.
The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, in another statement, said that the Cuban migrants will travel by air from Costa Rica to El Salvador, and then continue by bus to Mexico, from where they will continue to the United States.
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez emphasized that the agreed-upon solution benefits only the Cubans who are presently in Costa Rican territory with visas.
Costa Rica has authorized about 8,000 special transit visas to Cubans since Nov. 14, but announced earlier this month that it can no longer continue receiving Cuban citizens, and thus it has halted the issuance of the documents.
The crisis erupted on Nov. 15 when Nicaragua closed its border to Cuban migrants arguing that they presented risks to its sovereignty, and thus thousands of people now find themselves stranded in Costa Rica and Panama waiting to be able to continue their northward trek through Central America toward the United States.
Cuban nationals receive preferential immigration status upon setting foot in the United States under the Cuban Adjustment Act, commonly known as the “wet foot, dry foot” policy.
However, warming relations between the United States and Cuba have led to fears on the island that the policy may come to an end, sparking anunprecedented wave of Cuban migration that hasn’t been seen in decades.
This is a developing news story. Stay tuned to ICR News for the latest.
ICR News contributed to this report.