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Panama Cracks Down on Cuban Migrants

By: Elena Toledo - @NenaToledo - Apr 25, 2016, 4:49 pm
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While the Panamanian government seeks for a solution to the migration crisis, Costa Rica is keeping its borders closed for Cubans looking to reach the United States. (Nación)

EspañolThe Government of Panama announced on Sunday, April 24, that it will take measures to discourage the irregular migration of Cubans who continue to arrive in the country on their way to the United States.

“We will have to take migratory measures to discourage the flow,” wrote Isabel De Saint Malo, the Panamanian vice president and Foreign Affairs minister, on Twitter. “We continue our conversations with other countries to seek a comprehensive solution,” she added.

The minister did not elaborate on what kind of actions the government would undertake to counter the migration crisis aggravated by the flow of Cubans.

Panama so far has been permissive with the Cuban migrants, providing humanitarian support and letting them stay in government-funded shelters.

The tightening of measures against illegal immigration came after a week of tension at the border post of Paso Canoas, after angry Cuban and Congolese migrants demanded their right to continue their journey to the United States.

“The issue of migrants should be treated as a humanitarian crisis, protecting Panama. It is a complex issue which is governed by international conventions,” De Saint Malo said.

Costa Rica Helps Defenseless Cuban Migrants

Meanwhile, Costa Rican immigration authorities reported that they are prioritizing the transfer and care of pregnant women and families with children stranded on the border with Panama who entered the country illegally.

The Costa Rican government will take 18 pregnant women and 25 children and their families to a Child Care Center in the city of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

The rest of the immigrants, more than 600 people of 14 nationalities, will be taken to the immigration control center located in the town of Río Claro.

After arriving in these care centers, immigrants will follow a process that includes a medical examination, interview and identification, according to the “international and national standards for the protection of Human Rights,” Costa Rican immigration and public safety authorities said.

The Costa Rican government reiterated, however, that it will not tolerate any act of “vandalism, blockades, violence or disorder of any kind that endangers the Costa Rican people.”

“We must ensure the welfare of citizens and merchants in the area and protect the integrity of minors,” said Fullmen María Salazar, deputy minister of Security.

Since the beginning of the migration crisis in the border with Panama, Costa Rican authorities have kept direct contact with international organizations such as UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP).

Source: El Universo.

Elena Toledo Elena Toledo

Educator by trade, social-media apprentice, activist for a democratic Honduras, and free thinker. Follow her on Twitter @NenaToledo.