Pope asks Central American countries to help the Cuban migrants

Pope Francis weighed in on the Cuban crisis Sunday during his Angelus prayer service at the Vatican.

Central American officials are meeting again today in an effort to come to some resolution to the plight of some 6.000 Cubans stuck in Costa Rica.

That meeting will be in MÈxico.

Meanwhile, Costa Rica is rejecting any more Cuban migrants. Immigration officials said that 56 had been deported back to Panam· after they managed to get into Costa Rica.

Migrants with money are putting themselves at the mercy of traffickers in order to reach the U.S. border.

Costa Rican law enforcement officers disrupted the Costa Rican human trafficking network by a series of arrests early in November. Then President Luis Guillermo SolÌs permitted thousands of Cubans to enter from Panam· on seven-day emergency visas.

The president had expectations that the Cubans would transit the country and head north into Nicaragua. But Nicaragua closed the border to the Cubans, causing the current crisis.

Pope Francis called on the countries of Central America to help the migrants seeking to reach the United States via the land route to find a solution to the situation, according to Vatican Radio.

Speaking to pilgrims and tourists after the Angelus prayer Sunday, Pope Francis said, ìMy thoughts in this moment go out to the numerous Cuban migrants who find themselves in difficulty in Central America, many of whom are victims of human trafficking: I invite the countries of the region to renew with generosity all necessary efforts in order to find a rapid solution to this humanitarian drama.î Vatican Radio provided the transcript.

The Nicaraguan government has proposed that the United States organize an airlift to bring the migrants to  the United States, while the government of Costa Rica has been in conversation with Belize and Guatemala, in an effort to convince those countries to grant safe passage to the migrants that would allow them to reach Mexico, the Vatican noted.

Crowds gather to hear Sunday message from Pope Francis.

Crowds gather to hear Sunday message from Pope Francis.

Guatemala and Belize so far have declined for various reasons.

The Cubans are attempting to reach the United States before a 1966 Cold War Era law is changed. That law now gives them priority access if they reach the United States by land.

U.S. official at a previous Central American meeting pointed out that Cubans who  come by air, even via an airlift as proposed by Nicaragua, must have a valid U.S. visa.

The Mexican government appears to be ready to help if a way can be found so that the Cubans reach that country.

Costa Rica is not the only country with migration problems. Cubans also seem to be reaching MÈxico directly from Cuba in an effort to arrive at the U.S. border. And efforts by Cubans to reach the U.S. by boat continue. Under current U.S. policy, if migrants manage to land without being snared by the U.S. Coast Guard, they can stay.

Many of the Cubans in Costa Rica arrived overland from Ecuador where they landed on a flight from Cuba. Ecuador has since tightened its immigration policies.

Most of the Cubans in public shelters in Costa Rica have been there for more than a month.

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