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First Pilot Transfer Conducted for Stranded Cubans

Since late last year there have been about ten thousand Cubans who have been stranded in Costa Rica after failing to make it to the United States in an attempt to capitalize on the ‘wet-foot’ program which would automatically make them entitled to a legal status in country.  Costa Rica has been reaching out to neighbouring countries for help in facilitating the Cubans’ journey to the US but up to the end of 2015 most countries were leaning towards a regional strategy as opposed to independently lending a hand.  Yesterday, however, after weeks of being stranded, one hundred and eighty Cubans were a part of a pilot transfer facilitated by the International Office for Migration.   This pilot undertaking has the support of several entities in the private sector and has the one hundred and eighty Cubans leaving from the Costa Rica Daniel Oduber International Airport heading to El Salvador then to Guatemala then Mexico.  The one hundred and eighty Cubans were selected based on who got into Costa Rica first, who are financially able to pay their expenses such as departure tax and visa fees.  In addition to those stranded in Costa Rica, there are an estimated three thousand stranded in Panama.  Belize was one of the countries approached for aid in getting the Cubans to the US, but like all the other countries asked, the Government had opted for a regional solution.  While the matter was tabled at a meeting of the Central American Integration System SICA in Salvador in late 2015, a regional solution still had not been decided upon.