1,600 Cubans remain stranded and living in government shelters

One reason there are some 1,600 Cubans stranded in Costa Rica is because the United States affords special treatment to migrants from that country.

Rightly or wrongly the Cubans here expect to be able to enter the United States easily if they can reach the border.

The Cuban Adjustment Act, passed at the height of the Cold War, outlines the special treatment and even provides permanent residence for Cuban migrants who end up on public assistance.

At present Costa Rican officials are emphasizing their humanitarian efforts to help the migrants. The country allowed the migrants to enter with the expectation that they would travel into Nicaragua on their trip north. But Nicaragua has closed its border to the Cubans.

There is a lot of speculation why Nicaragua did this because it is a close ally to the Cuban regime.

Some Cubans continue to infiltrate that country through the porous border. Some have been returned by Nicaragua police and military.

The national emergency commission said that 700 persons are in five shelters in La Cruz, Guanacaste.

Meanwhile there is some criticism of the government effort. Some leftist commentators defended the actions by Nicaragua and said that Costa Rica should deport the Cubans back to Panamá. The migrants are following a

Another day at a shelter in La Cruz.

Another day at a shelter in La Cruz.

well-worn trail from Ecuador, which allows Cuban visitors, through Colombia and Panamá.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias is in charge of the shelter efforts. It said that about 650 other Cubans are in other temporary shelters.

Many of the Cubans are young men who might better be characterized as economic migrants who would be seeking jobs in the United States. They are likely to present themselves to U.S. border agents as political refugees.

Some expats have been critical of the Cubans, too, calling them illegal immigrants.

Diplomatic efforts are being continued by Costa Rica officials to figure out some way the Cubans can continue on their way.

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