By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
The Government of Costa Rica has withdrawn from the Central American Integration System (SICA for its acronym in Spanish) meetings and refuses to return, unless members agree to discuss the Cuba immigration crisis in solidarity.
Costa Rica’s President Luis Guillermo Solis and Foreign Minister, Manuel Gonzalez, withdrew from the meeting, held in El Salvador, after not receiving regional cooperation in helping some 6,000 Cuban immigrants transit to the United States.
Costa Rica has since closed its borders to any new Cuban immigrant, and said that the country would deport any Cuban who enters illegally.
Salvadoran Foreign Minister, Hugo Martinez, told the international media, that Costa Rica’s withdrawal from the forum was not directly related to the migrant issue.
“At some point the Government of Costa Rica felt frustrated because it could not find full cooperation,” Martinez said.
Fearing that the new diplomatic relations would end preferential treatment given to Cuban immigrants by the US, thousands of Cubans left for the US in November.
Costa Rica had allowed them passage through their country; however, when the Government of Nicaragua refused them passage, Costa Rica had to seek other countries to assist with the transit.
Costa Rica reached out to both Belize and Guatemala, but neither country was forthcoming with assistance. Prime Minister Dean Barrow explained that after discussing with Cabinet, they decided that the issue was a regional problem that required a regional response.
“After careful consideration the Cabinet is of the view that this is a regional problem. As such, the Government of Belize is prepared to participate in a regional discussion to identify the necessary mechanisms to address the Cuban immigrants transiting through the region”, GOB said.