More Cuban migrants enter country from the border with Panamá

Nearly 200 more Cubans entered Costa Rica Wednesday at the southern border. They joined the estimated 1,600 Cuban migrants already here.

The foreign ministry said that the minister, Manuel González, has met with Costa Rica’s Roman Catholic bishops in an effort to enlist the church in helping with the Cuban migrants.

Other Costa Rican officials are trying to prevail on other countries for help with the migrants.

Nicaragua closed its border to the migrants Sunday, and reports from Peñas Blancas in the north said that all border traffic is slowed there.

The Cubans are hoping to take advantage of the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act, a 1966 piece of Cold War legislation that gives special treatment to Cuban migrants.

Still the migrants are illegal in Costa Rica, which requires a visa issued in the home country for Cuban visitors. The Direccion General de Migración y Extranjería issued the migrants seven-day visas, an emergency measure when they turned up Thursday at the southern border. That was before Nicaragua closed the northern border.

That action is interpreted as an effort by Cuban authorities to prevent any more mass exits from the Communist country.

Ecuador allows Cubans to enter without much red tape, so those who fly there from Cuba can get land transportation through Colombia and into Panamá.

The migrants are in a series of shelters put up by the national emergency commission. Many are young men, but there are some families with children.

Still unknown are the attitudes of other countries to the north. The migrants would have to pass through Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and México to reach the United States if they managed to get though Nicaragua.

Immigration officials say that as many as 4,000 Cubans passed through Costa Rica this year. The current situation came into public view because the migrants lost their local connections when Costa Rica rolled up a human smuggling ring earlier this month. The ring charged $5,000 plus other fees to shepherd Cubans to the United States.

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