Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Tensions flare between Costa Rica, Nicaragua over migrants

Published:Tuesday | November 17, 2015 | 10:06 AM
Cuban migrants rest outside the Costa Rican immigration building at the border with Nicaragua in Penas Blancas, Costa Rica, on Monday.


More than 1,000 Cuban migrants heading north to the United States tried to cross the border from Costa Rica into Nicaragua, causing tensions to soar between the neighbours as security forces sought to turn them back.

Following the thaw in relations between Washington and Havana, some Cubans have been making their way to Central America in hopes of then heading through Mexico and into the United States. On Friday, Costa Rica said it would issue special seven-day transit visas to more than 1,700 Cuban migrants who had been detained in recent days after crossing into the country from Panama.

Nicaragua's government responded furiously on Sunday with a statement saying that Costa Rica "had deliberately and irresponsibly thrown, and continues to throw" the Cuban migrants into its territory, violating its national sovereignty. Nicaragua's Sandinista government, led by Daniel Ortega, is an ally of Cuba.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez, in turn, lashed out at Nicaragua for using security forces to detain about 1,100 Cuban migrants who tried to cross the border on Sunday. He said the migrants claim they were met by gunshots and tear gas.

He accused Ortega's government of "sending the army and throwing them on to a migrant population".

Costa Rican officials said they were preparing refuges and shelters for the rebuffed Cubans.