QCOSTARICA – The Government of Carlos Alvarado estimates that at the end of this year the Nicaraguan migration wave could increase, as a result of the political crisis in the neighbouring country, that could see the number of asylum seekers reach 100,000 since the crisis began in April last year.
As long as “the situation in Nicaragua is not normalized, the number of nicas (Nicaraguans) in this country will continue to increase,” said Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister, Manuel Ventura admitted.
However, Costa Rica does not contemplate decreeing a humanitarian emergency despite the overflowing capacity to attend to migrants.
“That is a decision that the presidency did not want to take because it has a series of connotations both internally and internationally,” Ventura explained in a television interview this week. “It’s trying to handle things differently,” he said.
As a former judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR), Ventura was one of the experts summoned by the Organization of American States (OAS) that typified the situation of Venezuela as crimes against humanity, to open a process against President Maduro before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Ventura rejected the accusations of the Nicaraguan government over the death of Nicaraguan Henry Ruíz López, at the hands of the Costa Rican police in an incident in the border area last Monday.
“There is no impunity here in which they can kill people and go quietly home. There is an investigation.They will be tried and if they are guilty they will be sanctioned,” said Ventura emphatically.
Since April of 2018, when the crisis broke out in Nicaragua, more than 65,000 Nicaraguans have requested refuge in Costa Rica. However, a year later, most refugees face a precarious economic and social situation and demand urgent attention from Costa Rican authorities.
A major problem for these refugees is Costa Rica’s bureaucratic procedures in the processing of claims. According to Ventura, only a relatively low proportion of refugee cards have been issued. “I cannot give an exact figure, but I do know that it is a low proportion because we have a limited immigration procedure,” said Ventura.
On seeking foreign aid to deal with the crisis, Ventura said Nicaragua’s problem is invisible as Latin America and the United States focus on the Northern Triangle and Venezuela.
“During my visit to Washington, I spoke with officials from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. For these institutions, what exists mainly is the problem of Venezuela. That had made Nicaragua’s problem invisible. But we try to make it clear so that they were aware. They included us in some aid projects that were intended only for Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, for example, which are huge numbers. But the number of Nicaraguans in Costa Rica is proportionally higher than those of those countries” said Ventura.
Estimates are that only some 8,000 Nicaraguan refugees have received work permits. The Foreign Minister explained that unlike Colombians in the past and now Venezuelans who have taken refuge in Costa Rica, Nicaraguan come with few skills, making it difficult for them to enter the labor market.
“The problem of Nicaraguans is not that of Colombians or Venezuelans who have come to Costa Rica, who have a fairly high level of education or are already professionals, and have had the ease of entering the market, in liberal professions or are entrepreneurs with money; They build buildings, sell houses, cars, however, the Nicaraguan is a very suffering people who come on foot, many of them do not know how to read and write. So it is not so easy to enter the market. You see them working as guards in residential neighborhoods or in cane cutting, in the picking of coffee and agricultural work that are seasonal, unfortunately. It is more difficult for them to enter the labor market due to this lack of technical or humanistic education,” said Ventura.