Dozens of Cuban migrants stranded in Panama were transported to the border with Costa Rica from a shelter in the jungle province of Darién, with no prospect of continuing their journey to the United States.
Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela asked the 71 Cubans to return to their country of origin or go to Colombia, from where they arrived in Panama.
The alternative is to return to Cuba or return to the country from which they came (Colombia)”
or are exposed to deportation, Varela told reporters.
In Costa Rica, the Minister of Communication, Mauricio Herrera, said that they would not allow the entry of Cubans and that those who do it illegally will be arrested and returned to Panama.
The migrants had asked to leave the shelter where they were in the jungle region bordering with Colombia, to which the Panamanian authorities agreed, but their fate is uncertain.
The head of the mission in Costa Rica of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Roeland de Wilde, said he had reports that some of the Cubans crossed the Costa Rican border with the support of human traffickers.
We’re going to stay here, we’re going to wait here,”
said one of the Cubans.
Most Cuban migrants began their journey in Guyana with the intention of arriving by land to the United States.
In 2015, some 25,000 undocumented Cubans passed through Central America and in 2016 several thousand were sent to Mexico by plane from Panama and Costa Rica following an agreement between several governments in the region.
In January, former US President Barack Obama canceled the policy known as ‘dry feet, wet feet’ that allowed Cuban migrants to enter the United States and obtain their residence.
In spite of the new difficulties to enter the United States, they have continued to arrive, although in smaller quantities.