Belize rejects plan to allow Cuban migrants to pass though its territory

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2015 10:07 PM

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Belize has rejected a plan to allow thousands of Cuban migrants stranded on the Costa Rican border with Nicaragua to pass through its territory on their way to the United States, Costa Rica's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The Costa Rican plan contemplated sending the roughly 5,000 Cubans stuck in Costa Rica on private flights to the tiny Central American nation of Belize, from where they would travel through neighboring Mexico.

The Cubans have been stranded in Costa Rica since the Nicaraguan government shut its border last month and declined to let them pass through its territory.

"We're deeply disillusioned with Belize's decision. Without doubt, this greatly complicates the situation," Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez said in a statement.

Last week, Guatemala also refused to allow the Cubans to pass through its lands.

Belize's decision places Costa Rica in a bind, particularly because Mexico says its entry laws also forbid it from allowing the Cubans to enter.

"Costa Rica will keep up diplomatic efforts with the aim of helping these migrants transit on Central American soil," Gonzalez said, calling on Ecuador, Colombia and Panama to do more to stop the flow of migrants heading to Costa Rica.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis is scheduled to visit Cuba later this month where the topic of the stranded Cuban migrants will be a priority.

Central America and Mexico have registered a surge in migrants from the Communist-ruled island as the process of detente between Washington and Havana announced in December stirs fears that long-standing U.S. asylum rights for Cubans may soon end.

(Reporting by Enrique Pretel; Editing by Sandra Maler)