Breakthrough announced for trapped Cubans here

Costa Rican officials announced a breakthrough Monday in the effort to help Cuban migrants move north.

The foreign ministry said that the government of El Salvador had agreed to accept air flights of the migrants and arrange for buses to carry them to the Mexican border.

This would require the buses to go through Guatemala, a country that has been reluctant to provide support for Costa Rica.

The statement from  Manuel González, the Costa Rican minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, characterized the effort as a pilot plan. There was no indication how many migrants would be transported.

Some 6,000 Cubans are trapped now in Costa Rica because the government of Nicaragua has closed its southern border to them. The migrants are housed in 37 public shelters, mainly in the northern part of the country.

The agreement Monday came at a meeting of representatives of the Central American countries in Guatemala.

The statement said that the countries in the region had agreed to this unusual, secure and ordered trip by Cubans.

González said that some countries had sought discretion over the details and that Costa Rica would respect this. He added that other details need to be confirmed with the political authorities for the security of the migrants.

He said that Costa Rica had hoped that the results of the agreement would materialize in a short term, but he noted that the holidays prevent advancing more rapidly.

That probably means that there will be no air trips until after Jan. 1. In addition, there was no mention of who would be paying for the flights.

Costa Rica said that the coordination among the various countries would be constant to insure success.

Participating in the Monday meeting were representatives from  Panamá, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México as well as Costa Rica. Also present were representatives of the International Organization for Migration.

The migrants entered Costa Rica with plans to head north to the U.S. border. They became trapped Nov. 15 when Nicaragua sent its soldiers to secure the border.

The Cubans hope to take advantage of a U.S. Cold War law that gives them priority in entering the United States legally. But under terms of the law, they must do so on foot.

This was the scene at the Guatemala meeting.

This was the scene at the Guatemala meeting.

Costa Rican officials announced a breakthrough Monday in the effort to help Cuban migrants move north.The foreign ministry said that the government of El Salvador had agreed to accept air flights of the migrants and arrange for buses to carry them to the Mexican border.

This would require the buses to go through Guatemala, a country that has been reluctant to provide support for Costa Rica.

The statement from  Manuel González, the Costa Rican minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, characterized the effort as a pilot plan. There was no indication how many migrants would be transported.

Some 6,000 Cubans are trapped now in Costa Rica because the government of Nicaragua has closed its southern border to them. The migrants are housed in 37 public shelters, mainly in the northern part of the country.

The agreement Monday came at a meeting of representatives of the Central American countries in Guatemala.

The statement said that the countries in the region had agreed to this unusual, secure and ordered trip by Cubans.

González said that some countries had sought discretion over the details and that Costa Rica would respect this. He added that other details need to be confirmed with the political authorities for the security of the migrants.

Guatemala meeeting
Casa Presidencial photo 

This was the scene at the Guatemala meeting.

He said that Costa Rica had hoped that the results of the agreement would materialize in a short term, but he noted that the holidays prevent advancing more rapidly.

That probably means that there will be no air trips until after Jan. 1. In addition, there was no mention of who would be paying for the flights.

Costa Rica said that the coordination among the various countries would be constant to insure success.

Participating in the Monday meeting were representatives from  Panamá, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México as well as Costa Rica. Also present were representatives of the International Organization for Migration.

The migrants entered Costa Rica with plans to head north to the U.S. border. They became trapped Nov. 15 when Nicaragua sent its soldiers to secure the border.

The Cubans hope to take advantage of a U.S. Cold War law that gives them priority in entering the United States legally. But under terms of the law, they must do so on foot.

Three missing mountain bikers finally reach safety
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


The plight of three Costa Rican mountain bikers might be instructive to tourists and expats who decide to plunge on their own into the country’s jungles.

The three bikers finally reached safety Monday at 4:20 p.m. after being stuck in the jungle since Saturday. Three separate Cruz Roja rescue teams were required to find them and guide them to civilization.

The first team located them Sunday but was unable to exit the area, in part due to fog and rain. A second team was unable to meet up with the first team, and a third team was dispatched Sunday night.

In all, the Cruz Roja said its rescue crews spent 36 hours traversing difficult territory.

They rescued men were identified as Omar Jiménez, 45, Francisco Torres, 38, and José Acuña, 50. A hotel security camera recorded the three entering the mountains around Cerro Zurquí Saturday.

Zurquí is a peak in the central mountains.

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