Latin America & Caribbean

No deal on Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica

A Cuban migrant uses his phone at a shelter in La Cruz, Costa Rica, on 20 November 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption The Cuban migrants say they want to reach the United States

A meeting of Latin American nations in El Salvador has ended without agreement on how to deal with thousands of Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica.

Some 3,000 Cubans heading for the US have been stuck at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua since the latter closed its border.

The two countries blame each other for the problem.

Their foreign ministers and those from other Latin American nations failed to find a solution at Tuesday's meeting.

The number of Cubans leaving the Communist-run island has risen since last December when Cuba and the US announced a thaw in their relations.

They fear that with ties between Cuba and the US improving, the US could stop granting Cubans who reach the US by land the right to stay.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Some of the Cubans have been travelling for months

The migrants left Cuba for Ecuador, a popular destination for emigrating Cubans as it does not require them to have a visa.

From Ecuador, they travelled north through Colombia and Panama to Costa Rica where they received visas allowing them to continue north.

But Nicaragua, a close ally of Cuba, stopped them at its southern border.

Nicaragua accused Costa Rica of "unleashing an invasion of illegal Cuban migrants".

In a statement, Nicaragua said that it did not have the resources to deal "with this new threat to our national security".

For his part, Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez accused the Nicaraguan government of "acting in bad faith" and of being intransigent.

The meeting in San Salvador was also attended by representatives from Belize, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Mexico.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption They are currently staying in Costa Rican shelters near the border with Nicaragua

According to Mr Gonzalez only Nicaragua opposed "a joint and integral solution" to the migrant crisis.

"The other 11 countries have the best intentions because they know this is not a situation provoked by Costa Rica," he said.

He said his country would try and find a solution without Nicaragua's help.

Nicaragua has demanded that Costa Rica remove the Cuban migrants camped out at their joint border.

Cuba last week said that it would welcome back any of the migrants who wished to return.

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