General — 12 December 2015 — by Adele Ramos
Belize turns down request for passage of 5,000 Cuban migrants

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Dec. 8, 2015–Belize today denied a request from Costa Rica to allow thousands of Cuban migrants who are stuck at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border passage through Belize, on their way to Mexico and eventually to the USA.

Last week, Guatemala said no to the proposal to allow the migrants to pass through that country, and Nicaragua, which had previously allowed their passage, deployed its military to stop new migrants from passing through their territory last month. Latest reports carried by international media indicate that the number of Cuban migrants wanting to use Central America as a corridor to enter the USA—to take advantage of that country’s wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which allows Cubans who set foot on US soil to stay despite their irregular status—has swelled from 3,000 to 5,000, and the Government of Costa Rica has asked Cubans to refrain from traveling through that country, because they don’t have adequate facilities for them.

In an official statement issued on Tuesday, Belize said that Cabinet had met today to discuss the proposal but Cabinet had decided that Belize cannot make any commitments outside of a regional, arrangement.

“After careful consideration, the Cabinet is of the view that this is a regional problem,” the Cabinet release said. “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,” it further stated.

Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Manuel Gonzalez, said that he was “deeply disillusioned” by Belize’s reply.

He said that Belize’s decision undoubtedly complicates the situation of the Cuban migrants located in Costa Rica, and it postpones their departure from that territory.

He added, though, that the Government of Costa Rica will continue to make diplomatic efforts to help resolve the crisis and lobby for funds to support the migrants while in Costa Rica.

Gonzalez said they would continue to urge Guatemala and Belize, as well as international support organizations, to assist the Cuban migrants.

Belize’s decision incidentally coincided with the celebration of CARICOM-Cuba day in the region.

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