Ever since November, last year, I have been watching appeals from various charities that want us to help others during the holidays. This made me think of my own…
When I read or watch the news, it’s really hard not to feel overwhelmed about basically everything they say; there is so much going on and for me, a Latin-American living on the other side of world, it doesn’t get easier by checking news from my home country Costa Rica and local Isle of Man news. Every day, I religiously Google for Costa Rican news and check the local newspapers. However, I have noticed that you hear very little about what happens in Latin America over here and there is one thing I feel needs to be said.
Back in November, thousands of Cubans arrived to Costa Rica. They came through the Panama border, in a peregrination that has taken them from their home into Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and up to Costa Rica, where they have been since. Their aim is to get to the United States before the Wet Foot Dry Foot policy is taken down. This policy basically says that any Cuban seeking passage to the U.S. that is intercepted at sea (“wet feet”) is to be sent back to Cuba, while those who enter the country on soil (“dry feet”) are allowed to remain in it. Nothing has really been said about taking that policy down, but it is considered to be the obvious step now that both countries are working on reestablishing their political relationship.
The last figures I heard, showed around 6,000+ migrants stuck in Costa Rica and thousands more waiting in Panama for clearance to continue. Before this crisis, Cubans didn’t require any visa to go through Costa Rica, but because of the other countries in Central America denying passage to the thousands of migrants, the Government had to change the legislation and now they cannot enter the country freely.
The North and South borders, where these migrants currently are, have some of the poorest communities; however, the people who live there have showed the humanitarian spirit and the Costa Rican Pura Vida philosophy, by helping them with all their needs. The Government has also provided medical attention and has organised campaigns to raise money, so it seems this truly humanitarian crisis is being contained, but for how long?
I’ve started to read a lot of negative comments about this situation; a lot of Costa Ricans are now complaining about how much money it is costing the country to keep these migrants, while none of the other countries in the region seem willing to help find a solution and this makes me really sad. On the one hand I understand their point; I agree that much has been invested in this situation but not as much has been done to fix local problems, like helping the indigenous people who live in extreme poverty. I have also seen my taxes being wasted and not invested the way they are supposed to be, but on the other hand, what else can be done while a solution is found and put into action?
Unfortunately, at the moment, it seems like the people that could do something are more focused on and concerned about pointing their fingers and accusing one another of being responsible for the situation, rather than finding a solution together. The fact remains that this is a HUGE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS, which needs a solution NOW. It doesn’t matter who let this happen and why they let it; it doesn’t matter whether the Cubans want to take advantage of the U.S. protective law or not; what matters is that we find a solution now. In all honesty, though maybe I can be called naïve or ignorant, if the U.S. is willing to receive them, why is it so much of a problem to help these people get to Mexico’s border with the U.S. and let them go through? Wouldn’t it be the most humanitarian thing to do?
All in all, I can’t believe how something as important as this hasn’t been covered more in the media and here is where I find my hard proof of the manipulation that we live with everyday, from newspapers and news channels. With no animosity implied, the Miss Universe debacle has been heard about far more than what is going on in a small Latin American country; the only one in the whole world without an army, which achieved 255 days of perfect operation on 100% renewable energy, named Costa Rica.
We need to push for a commitment and for actions to be taken, as clearly, complaining locally hasn’t resulted in anything happening. We, as society (and I mean the world), have the power to do so by denouncing, by speaking out loud and letting others know that they are not asking for charity; they are not asking for anyone’s pity; all they want is to be free.