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Migration from Venezuela and Nicaragua is Exhausting Costa Rica’s Systems: Foreign Minister

Costa Rica, EFE

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Arnoldo Andre Tinoco, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, warned that migration from nations such as Nicaragua and Venezuela is exhausting the systems, so his country requested support from the international community.

In an interview for Voz de América, the Minister explained that two different groups of migrants are arriving to Costa Rica presenting different characteristics. On the one hand, more than 160,000 people enter through the southern border with Panama, in very vulnerable conditions, with the intention of continuing their way to the US. While other migrants arrive to the nation to stay.

“We are talking that in recent years we have some 200,000 refugee applications in process, with little administrative capacity to process them. There is a waiting time of more than eight years from the time the application is submitted for the examination of the file,” Tinoco said.

He explained that these migrants sometimes receive temporary work permits. 85% of these people come from Nicaragua and the other percentage is distributed among Venezuelans, Colombians, Haitians, and also Cubans

“The issue is exceeding the limits of reasonableness, it is exhausting the systems. The country has to invest large sums in education, social security, integration, and security of these populations. And for this we are turning to the international community, making a call for non-refundable financial support to resolve this issue, since we consider it unfair that the country has to go further into debt to pay interest to solve a problem that is not caused or originated in Costa Rica,” he added.

Tinoco indicated that they have created a short, medium, and long-term plan. “We already have a round table with U.S. authorities who have shown interest in supporting us in solving this challenge and we are just these months working on it,” he said.

He pointed out that during the Summit of the Americas in LA, held in the middle of the year, they signed the Declaration of Los Angeles on migratory matters, in which they agreed to initiate a complementary temporary residency program. However, this is subject to obtaining international financial support.

Violation of human rights

The Costa Rican Foreign Minister said that his country has joined in expressing serious concern over the systematic violation of several human rights in Nicaragua. “Among them stand out serious problems regarding political prisoners, where there are more than 180 prisoners of this nature, many times prevented even from receiving visits for more than a year and, it seems, in very bad conditions, and there is a serious concern there,” he said.

“The other is the suppression of freedom of speech and of the press, because you can no longer operate from Nicaragua. Practically all Nicaraguan media are operating from Costa Rica,” he added.

Tinoco said that in addition to this, the Nicaraguan government’s attack on non-governmental organizations, as well as the presence of the Russian Army in that country are other serious issues.

Added to this is the cancellation of the legal status of more than 1,200 non-governmental organizations, NGOs, whose ability to act has been cut off. Many of them have also moved to operate from Costa Rica.

“That is where Costa Rica raises its voice to call the attention, both within the OAS and now in the UN, on what is happening there, as it is directly affecting the population,” he said.

Regarding Venezuela, he assured that there is an equally tragic situation. “We have more than 6 million people who have emigrated from Venezuela, that is greater than the number of any armed conflict. They have been located in neighboring countries: Ecuador has many, Colombia has as many, Peru likewise, and as many migrate north,” he said.

“Costa Rica has no embassy or consular relationship in Caracas, nor vice versa. This presents a great challenge for Venezuelans on our soil and Costa Ricans on Nicaraguan (Venezuelan) soil. This presents a great challenge for Venezuelans on our soil and Costa Ricans on Nicaraguan (Venezuelan) soil. It is an equally difficult situation,” he added.

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