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Cuban migrants – Pope Francis urges quick solution

Cuban migrants: Pope Francis urges quick solution
27 December 2015
From the section Latin America & Caribbean

Pope Francis has called for Central American countries to show
generosity in dealing with the rising numbers of Cuban migrants stranded
in the region.
Several thousand Cubans are stranded at the border between Costa Rica
and Nicaragua, hoping to reach the United States by land.
Nicaragua has refused to allow the migrants to pass through its territory.
The Pope said many of the Cubans passing through Central America were
victims of human trafficking.
“I invite the countries of the region to renew with generosity all
necessary efforts in order to find a rapid solution to this humanitarian
drama,” the Pope told tens of thousands of people at the Vatican’s St
Peter’s Square.

The Cubans migrants have been stuck near the Penas Blancas border
crossing since November
Pope Francis will visit Mexico in February. Migration will be one of the
main topics of his visit.
He is due to celebrate mass in Ciudad Juarez, close to the border with
Texas.

‘Wet foot, dry foot”
Many Cuban migrants fear that the thaw in relations between Washington
and Havana may put an end to the preferential treatment given to them.
The number of Cubans trying to make their way to the US through Latin
America by land has risen sharply since December 2014, when the two
countries announced they had agreed to begin restoring relations.
The United States has a special immigration policy for Cuban citizens,
known as “wet foot, dry foot”.

It allows Cubans who reach the US by land to apply for residency while
those who are intercepted at sea are turned back.
The policy has led to a rise in Cubans trying to make their way to the
US through Latin America by land.
Nicaragua, a close ally of Cuba, closed its border to the migrants in
November, accusing Costa Rica of dumping the migrants on its doorstep.
‘Humanitarian corridor’
Many of the migrants flew from Cuba to Ecuador, which did not require
Cubans to have visas. Ecuador has since changed its visa policy for Cubans.
From Ecuador, the Cuban migrants travelled north through Colombia,
Panama and Costa Rica until they were stopped by Nicaragua.
The move has caused tension between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Some 3,000 Cuban migrants are believed to be stranded on the Costa Rican
side of the border.

Costa Rica demanded that a “humanitarian corridor” be created to allow
the migrants to continue their long journey to the US border, about
2,400 km (1,500 miles) away.

It also tried to persuade Belize and Guatemala to allow the migrants to
go through their territory.
Last week, Nicaragua proposed that the migrants be airlifted to the US.
Cuba’s communist government has accused the US of encouraging
migration by sticking to a dated Cold War policy.

Source: Cuban migrants: Pope Francis urges quick solution – BBC News –
www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35187411

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