While Costa Rica tries to handle another migrant invasion, some of the travelers simply take to the seas to avoid entanglements with authorities.
Such is the case in Barra del Colorado where about 40 African migrants ended up Tuesday night after taking a boat from Tortuguero.
Costa Rican officials have agreed to allow African migrants to transit the country if they provide identification and are cleared by the International Police Agency. But the migrants Tuesday night appear to have simply worked their way by boats up the Caribbean coast. They are mostly men with no children and just a few women in the group.
They spent much of the night huddled together on the porch of the pulpería, known locally as Ricardo’s. Barra de Colorado is a short distance from the Nicaraguan border, and the migrants were expected to enter that country sometime early today, perhaps by boat via the Río San Juan.
Although police are supposed to take an interest in illegal immigrants, a resident said that no one at the Barra de Colorado station answered the telephone about 8 p.m. And that police from other locations promised to show up eventually.
Costa Rican officials have adopted an easy handed policy with the African immigrants because they don’t want to pay to deport them to their home countries. The migrants’ goal is the United States where they will try to slip across the border with México and join the millions of illegal immigrants already in that country.
At last report there were some 300 African migrants in refugee
centers in southern Costa Rica. They had been admitted from
Panamá where they spend days stuck at the border.
Manuel A. González Sanz, the Costa Rican foreign minster, took up the matter before the Organization of American States May 4. Among other aspects, he discussed the way Costa Rica handled an estimated 8,000 Cuban migrants who were stuck in the country last November when Nicaragua closed the border to them.
Nicaragua has been less harsh to African immigrants because they are not politically sensitive like the Cubans. The Cubans had a legal right to enter the United States by land when they arrived. But the Africans do not.
Mexican officials have reported soaring numbers of non-Latin migrants passing through that country. Like other countries, Mexican officials just want to see the migrants leave.
Typically the migrants enter the Americas by boat or plane, perhaps with fake passports. They are from a number of Asian and African countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Some travel on foot, and can relate tales of horror as they passed through the Darien Gap to reach Panamá from northern Colombia.
The migrants are victimized along the route and usually end up paying large sums to traffickers. Robberies and rapes are common. Some of the traffickers in the current case are residents of Barra de Colorado, residents there reported.
Even when they reach the border, they will find that traffickers demand large sums to sneak them into the U.S.
In some cases, they might be required to carry backpacks of drugs. Deaths are also common in the arid Southwest desert.