Departing Cubans become television stars

As expected 180 Cubans arrived at Daniel Oduber amid television cameras. They were scheduled to leave on an Avianca aircraft for El Salvador.

Costa Rican officials estimated that the first group of migrants would arrive at the Mexican border later today.

The departure from shelters in northern Costa Rica was a day-long media event complete with travelers hugging those with whom they had spent nearly two months in communal living.

The foreign minister, Manuel González, emphasized in an evening press conference that the departure of the Cubans showed that Costa Rica had responded to the migrant crisis as a defender of human rights.

The departure made the international news wires.

There still are some 8,000 Cubans remaining in Costa Rica, and about 45 plane trips will be needed to carry them all to El Salvador and the waiting buses.

One of the reasons that the first 180 Cubans were selected for the pilot program was based on their ability to pay. The trip cost about $550 a person, including the cost of visas at El Salvador and Guatemala as well as the $29 Costa Rican exit tax.

Officials still have to decide how they will handle the Cubans who may not have the money needed for a trip.

Migrants display a Costa Rican and Cuban flag.

Migrants display a Costa Rican and Cuban flag.

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