Costa Rica Declares National Emergency over Migrant Crisis

President Rodrigo Chaves says he’s ordered the deportation of those who “behave badly,” and warned of the increase in migrants headed north to the US

Migrants rest at a shelter in Paso Canoas, Costa Rica. Photo: EFE / Confidencial

Migrants rest at a shelter in Paso Canoas, Costa Rica. Photo: EFE / Confidencial

28 de septiembre 2023


 On Tuesday, September 27, Costa Rican President Rodrigo Chaves announced his intention to sign a decree declaring a national emergency, due to the increase in the flow of immigrants passing through the country. He warned that the authorities will deport migrants who “behave badly.”

“This situation warrants a declaration of national emergency due to the number of people passing through our territory,” Chaves stated in his weekly press conference.

Costa Rica’s National Emergency Commission will meet this Tuesday to formalize the national emergency declaration, which Chaves will then sign in order to release and expedite funds and resources to address the situation.

Passage of migrants through Costa Rica

According to official data from Costa Rica, so far in September 60,000 migrants have entered from Panama through the southern border post of Paso Canoas, a small community with a population of 20,000 inhabitants.

This year, an estimated 390,000 migrants, the majority Venezuelans, have passed through the inhospitable jungle between Colombia and Panama by hiking through the Darien Gap. Their numbers have generated a crisis in the region.

In Paso Canoas, the Costa Rican authorities have set up a bus route that takes migrants to the border with Nicaragua, in the north of Costa Rica. However, many of them can’t pay the $30 per person ticket fare, which has generated an agglomeration of hundreds of migrants in that community.

According to Chaves’ announcement, the authorities will soon adjust that plan so that migrants board the buses at a different location to avoid crowding.

Riots in Paso Canoas

Last week, authorities detained 27 migrants in Paso Canoas on suspicion of participating in riots against the police, when officers tried to block migrants from peddling items on the street.

“I have instructed the Ministry of Public Security to take a firm hand with those few people who confuse the gentleness, kindness and generous heart of Costa Ricans with weakness. I have also ordered the General Directorate of Immigration to begin the deportation process of the people who caused disturbances – to Venezuela or their country of origin,” declared Chaves.

The president stated that the message the Costa Rican government want to send migrants who “behave badly and disrespect the authorities,” is: “they will be sent back to their country of origin, because we are not going to tolerate it.”

“Whoever comes here has to respect our laws, the Police, and the towns through which they travel,” Chaves asserted.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times.


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Agencia EFE

Agencia de noticias internacional con sede en Madrid, España. Fundada en Burgos durante la guerra civil española en enero de 1939.