The president did not mention the issue of 5,000 Cuban migrants stranded in this country when he spoke after arriving in José Marti airport Sunday.
But in a taped message to the country that was aired Sunday night he said the issue would come up next week when he and other presidents of the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana meet. He noted, however, that so far other countries have shown lack of understanding and collaboration on this humanitarian drama.
The president, Luis Gullermo Solís, said that Costa Rica was a small country with limited financial resources. He also praised the Costa Rican citizenry for their generosity, solidarity and unbreakable defense of human rights.
At the Cuban airport, Solís promised to help normalize relations and improve commercial exchanges. He noted that Costa Rica exports $40 million a year to Cuba. He traveled with a 31-person delegation and was the first Costa Rican president to visit the island since Fidel Castro assumed power. Costa Rica resumed diplomatic relations six years ago.
The television comments of Solís appeared to be designed to respond to criticisms by the public as to why he allowed 5,000 Cubans to enter the country from Panamá in the middle of last month. Solís continued to speak about human rights, but he clearly was caught short along with other members of his administration when Nicaragua closed its border with Costa Rica and trapped the Cubans here. Initially the Cubans received just seven-day Costa Rican visas.
He said his goal was to allow the Cubans to continue their travels north to the United States. A 1966 law gives them preferred immigration.
In Costa Rica some private organizations are raising funds for the needs of the stranded Cubans. One group plans a concert tour that ends in La Cruz, Guanacaste, near the Nicaraguan border Saturday with the goal of raising the spirits of the Cubans. Organizers were seeking funds Sunday at musical events in San José. The same organization proposes to produce a documentary film about the migration.
Casa Presidencial Friday came out with a summary of the work that Cuban volunteers had done. The beer and soft drink firm, Florida Ice and Farm Co., supervised the work and provided transportation and refreshments.
As an example, Friday some 27 migrants cleaned up Playa Brasilito, fixed up a children’s park and helped at the local recycling center, Casa Presidencial said.