Mexico Meeting Offers No Progress on Stranded Cubans


A meeting Tuesday in Mexico City of representatives from the United States, Central America and Mexico failed to make a breakthrough on the situation of thousands of Cuban migrants stranded in Costa Rica, the foreign minister of that country said.

"Unfortunately the Guatemalan position was unchanged" from last Friday, when a meeting of Central American nations refused Costa Rica's call to allow the U.S.-bound Cubans passage north, Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez told reporters.

He said Mexico had assured Tuesday's meeting of migration officials it hosted in its foreign ministry that it would allow the Cubans through its territory to the American border.

The U.S. representative also confirmed that the Cubans would be allowed in the country if they made it to the land border, but explained that visa rules precluded the United States from accepting the migrants on a direct flight, the minister said.

Gonzalez said his country believed diplomacy could still bring about "an opening" on the issue.

Another meeting was scheduled for next Monday "in Guatemala or again in Mexico," Gonzalez said.

Some 5,000 to 7,000 Cubans aiming to get to the U.S. are stuck in Costa Rica, blocked on the border with Nicaragua, which since mid-November has been preventing them crossing.

America has an open-door policy for Cuban migrants if they set foot on its soil, and the flow of Cubans trying to get to that country via Central America has swelled this year out of fear a Washington-Havana thaw started a year ago will end the U.S. policy accepting them.

Nicaragua has steadfastly refused to bow to Costa Rican pleas for a humanitarian corridor to allow the Cubans to pass through Central America and Mexico to the U.S.

Frayed ties between Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the refusal of other Central American nations to help out with the problem prompted Costa Rica last Friday to storm out of the regional summit held in El Salvador.

In a sign of its frustration, Costa Rica announced it has suspended political engagement with a regional body, the Central American Integration System, meant to promote cooperation.

It also warned it was not giving any more visas to arriving Cubans and would deport them back to their country.