Costa Rica is on the Verge of a Migratory Crisis as 1,000s of Nicaraguans Apply for Refugee and Political Protections.

Costa Rica is on the Verge of a Migratory Crisis as 1,000s of Nicaraguans Apply for Refugee and Political Protections.

Costa Rica is on the verge of a migration crisis. The violence in Nicaragua has led thousands of its people to seek refuge, food, and shelter in the neighboring country of Costa Rica. Nicaraguans are a displaced people on the rise. A bulk of them are young university students who have received death threats, and many of whom leave behind young wives and children.


Nicaraguans cross by boat
Nicaraguans escape by boat by sailing across the Rio San Juan to Costa Rica. Photo: AFP


In the last weeks, many activists have been forced to escape. They denounce that Ortega’s regime has threatened them to death. Both of the young men in the boat were leaders who had barricaded themselves in protest of the government of President Daniel Ortega in Masaya, the city that posed the greatest resistance to the government’s attack on protesters. They held out for 3 months until July 17th, when the Toma of Masaya took place, through a violent assault by police forces and paramilitary groups against the people of Nicaragua. Outnumbered, out of options and in danger, these two friends sailed toward freedom.

They plan on reconnecting with other Nicaraguans who have already moved to Costa Rica to escape the government’s hunt of student protesters.

“We are leaving because in Nicaragua, to protest is a crime, and we’ve been threatened to death. Costa Rica has opened its arms to Nicaraguans. We want to work, stay here a while as we wait for Nicaragua to regain peace. Our last hope is that peace will return as a result of international pressure, if the world keeps applying pressure, the Ortega regime will have to end. Ortega’s genocidal government seeks our death.”

Since violence erupted in the neighboring country in mid-April, more than 300 people lost their lives at the hands of the military.


cara nica-la noticia sv
Photo: La Noticia SV.


The political and social crisis in Nicaragua has placed humanitarian Costa Rica on the verge of a migratory crisis for which it may not be prepared due to insufficient resources.

The entrance of 3,300 refugees just during the month of June and more than 10,000 refugee applications in total, reflect the fear and desperation of Nicas living under the violent regime of Nicaraguan President, Daniel Ortega.

The Costa Rican government is closely monitoring the influx of Nicaraguans. If refugees reach 5,000, Ticos would experience an immigration crisis.



Nicas buscan asilo
Nicaraguans seek asylum in Costa Rica. Photo: Diario Roatan.


Unlike migrants, refugees are people fleeing armed conflict, violence or persecution and are therefore forced to cross the border to seek safety. Due to their condition, they enter the country without assets or work. The Costa Rican government is providing them with food, shelter, medical assistance and other services.

This month, officials reported a migratory flow of Nicaraguans – between refugees and migrants with a visa – of 1,000 people a week.

Costa Rica has a comprehensive action plan to deal with migratory flows, and is also working with international donors, given the possibility that extraordinary resources may be needed, said Epsy Campbell, Chancellor of the Republic of Costa Rica.


Campbell: The First Afrodescent Woman Vice-President Of Latin America
Also appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in Costa Rica on April 26, 2018


Last week, the government opened two shelters, one in La Cruz de Guanacaste and the other in Golfito.

Two shelters are operating in the Northern and Southern tips of Costa Cita. Source: La Nacion. Viviana Ramirez.


These facilities were used three years ago, to address the migration crisis faced by the country, due to the massive influx of Cubans and Africans, among others. A call center with the number, 1311, was set up to process refugee applications and a mobile application is also in the works.


Political Turmoil in Nicaragua causes a Migration and Economic/Trade Crisis for the Region

The political turmoil in Nicaragua is impacting trade, acknowledges Carlos Alvarado, president of the Republic.

The neighboring nation is the fourth destination of Costa Rican exports totaling in $ 566 million in 2017.


Economic Concerns

It has been three months since the conflict in Nicaragua erupted. It is unclear when a solution will be reached, which concerns exporters and immigration authorities.

Exports to the northern neighbor fell by 50% since the beginning of the conflict.

Trade logistics is also a problem.

Trade in the region has been affected as goods now have to mobilize by revitalizing a ferry system for exports between Costa Rica and El Salvador.


Exports to NICARAGUA

External sales have fallen since the crisis began. (Figures in percentages and millions of dollars per month)

Month 2018 2017 Difference
January 42,3 49,9  18
February 43,3 47,0    9
March 50,0 51,0    2
April 43,2 51,2  19
May 53,7 48,4 -10
June 49,1 24,0 -51
Total general 281,6 271,5

Fuente: Procomer y Comex


More Refugees, More Pressure to Assist Them, While the Economy and Trade Take a Big Hit

The authorities have registered an increasing number of refugee applications; in June the highest figure was given.

mapa migracion costa rica

Source: Migración Costa  Rica


Drop in exports

Industrial and agricultural products are those that decreased the most (Figures in millions of dollars and percentage variation)

Producto 2017 2018
Cement 3,3 0,1
Bakery-Refined 1,5 0,5
Pineapple 0,9 0
Electrical Goods 1 0,1
Mineral and Gas Water 1,2 0,3
Paints & Barnishes 1,1 0,3
Soft Drinks and Drinks Without Gas 1 0,2
Drink Concentrates 1,7 0,9
Diapers 1 0,3
Glass Containers 0,9 0,3

Source: Procomer, Costa Rica


Miguel Angel Rodriquez, Former president of Costa Rica has expressed his grave concern for the onset of a regional humanitarian crisis. “The continuation of violence in Nicaragua could very well trigger a new civil war in that nation with enormous suffering for its inhabitants, with great damage to the rest of Central America and putting the stability and peace of other countries in the region in serious risk. The region has already experienced a terrible era of violence, death, and destruction that we do not want to repeat.”

The current president of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado has called on the UN to put a stop to the grave conflict: “What is happening in Nicaragua demands a UN reaction to stop the wave of widespread violence that has claimed more than 300 lives since mid-April. Disappearances, arbitrary arrests, intimidation against demonstrators, the media, the students, human rights defenders and members of the Catholic Church are inadmissible acts that must be terminated as soon as possible. The Nicaraguan situation is a priority issue for us.”




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