| 16 June 2024, Sunday |

Costa Rica plans state of emergency amid ‘migration crisis’

Costa Rica is planning to declare a state of emergency in response to a rising influx of migrants who are passing through the country on their journey to the United States.
“I have instructed the security ministry to take a firm stance with anyone who takes Costa Rica’s kindness for weakness,” Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves said at a media briefing, referring to recent riots by migrants crossing the nation.

How many migrants are in Costa Rica?
Since January, more than 386,000 migrants have passed through the border from Panama into Costa Rica.

Officials say that so far in September, over 60,000 people have crossed Paso Canoas, the Costa Rican border town shared with Panama that is home to less than 20,000 people.

“We all know that throughout the Americas there is a migration crisis,” the president said.

Chaves is set to visit Panama in October to discuss the issue.

Apart from Central America, a rising number of people are also making their way from Venezuela, Haiti and Cuba, as well as from Africa and Asia, in a bid to flee poverty, violence and political crises in their home countries.

Mexico has tightened controls to stop migrants from boarding freight trains as stowaways.
On Monday, Germany’s human rights commissioner raised concern about the situation in Central America following a trip to the region.

“We are dealing with a region in a state of crisis,” Luise Amtsberg said after concluding her trip in Costa Rica.

She met with human rights activists from Nicaragua and El Salvador, where right-wing populist President Nayib is clamping down on criminal youth gangs.

“In El Salvador, democratic structures are being systematically dismantled, a state of emergency has been in effect for 16 months and almost 2% of the population is in prison — no one who speaks out against can be sure that they won’t soon face the same fate,” Amtsberg said.

Meanwhile in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, the authoritarian head of state, is taking extreme steps to stifle opponents.

“In Nicaragua, people are exiled, their possessions and pensions are taken away, their existence is practically erased. All places of critical thought are gradually falling victim to this authoritarian policy,” Amtsberg added.

Many political refugees are finding shelter in Costa Rica.

“But Costa Rica is reaching its breaking point — we are very clearly at a tipping point here,” Amtsberg said. “There is still space and protection, but recently there has also been a debate about a more restrictive asylum policy.”

  • DW