HAVANA Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis arrived in Cuba on Sunday with plans to boost trade overshadowed by what to do with nearly 5,000 Cuban migrants stranded in his country.
The Cubans started arriving a month ago on their harmful 7,000-km (4,400-mile) overland trek from Ecuador to the Mexican-U.S. border, exactly where Cubans are given legal passage into the United States.
In brief comments to reporters on his arrival, Solis, holding a small Cuban flag, stated his trip was meant to complete Costa Rica’s normalization with Cuba, extend his country’s outreach to the Caribbean and market trade.
When a reporter asked about the migrants, Solis responded, “That will be one of the subjects on the agenda.”
The pay a visit to was planned well just before the crisis. Costa Rica re-established relations with Cuba in 2009, the final nation in Latin America to do so.
When the United States reached detente with Cuba a year ago, it led to a spike in Cuban emigration, partly due to fears the Americans would finish the special therapy that grants them residence with relative ease.
The situation reached crisis proportions when Costa Rica broke up a gang of human smugglers, leaving the Cubans in the lurch.
Costa Rica closed its border following arresting the smugglers, then granted the Cubans short-term visas to pass by means of.
But Nicaragua, a nation further to the north, refused to stick to suit, leaving Costa Rica with an ever increasing quantity of migrants.
Practically five,000 are stuck in shelters on the border and an estimated 1,300 to 1,500 are held up in Panama, one nation to the south, attempting to move into Costa Rica.
The crisis, now termed a humanitarian one by Solis, is positive to prime the agenda when he meets with President Raul Castro on Tuesday.
Cuba has repeatedly blamed the United States’ Cold War-era immigration policy for enticing its citizens to threat their lives and fostering human smuggling.
Solis has promised not to deport the Cubans and to continue hunting for a way to get them to the United States.
Some 43,159 Cubans entered the United States without visas in fiscal year 2015, up 78 percent from 2014 and up 550 percent from 2011, according to a Pew Analysis Center report primarily based on U.S. government data.
Numerous commence by flying to Ecuador, which prides itself on open borders. But Ecuador imposed a visa requirement on Cubans this month in hopes of slowing the flow.
(Reporting by Marc Frank Editing by Daniel Trotta and Jonathan Oatis)