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Covid-19 Tests for Nicaraguans Stranded on the Border with Costa Rica

Non-governmental organizations in coordination with Costa Rican Immigration facilitate the testing for the stranded Nicaraguans.

Nicaraguans went in, ten by ten, to take the test in the mobile hospital lent by the Biblical Clinic. Photo: EFE

Ana Cruz

1 de agosto 2020


Because the Nicaraguan government shows no interest in Covid-19 testing, NGOs and the Costa Rican government are working together, and starting Friday, July 31, began tests for the first 180 of over 500 Nicaraguans who have been stranded for 13 days on the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border, at Penas Blancas.

The Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress announced that they would begin testing “because they have obtained sufficient funds to cover the cost of testing nearly everyone.”

In their statement the Foundation said that the funding for testing the Nicaraguans had come from “humanitarian organizations and individuals” who answered the call of the Arias Foundation and the Center for Labor Rights. “With the generous contribution of the Biblical Clinic and with the coordination of the Costa Rican government’s Ministry of Immigration the process has begun.”

The Costa Rican head of Immigration, Raquel Vargas, said that a mobile hospital is already in place on the border and that the testing can take place.

The Ortega regime has said that the Nicaraguans must take the test and show negative before entering their country, but although the heat and the rain are intense, the people stuck on the border for nearly two weeks haven’t been able to test since there has been no testing site at the border.

Nicaraguans went in, ten by ten, to take the test in the mobile hospital lent by the Biblical Clinic. Photo: EFE

“We are here on the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Behind me there is a mobile hospital belonging to a private company that has decided to join civil society so that the Nicaraguans can get tested. We have talked with the people to be tested, so that they organize the process themselves and carry out this effort in a coordinated, disciplined and orderly manner.” said Lina Barrantes, executive director of the Arias Foundation.

She then went on to say in the video that the crisis of the Nicaraguans on the border “has a single culprit: the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. They are entirely without respect for the most sacred universal values of respect for human beings.”

They go in ten at a time

The Nicaraguan human rights collective, called Nunca Mas (Never again), made a video that shows that women were given priority, they were the first to be tested. The Nicaraguans go into a tent and a truck, ten at a time, where they are given the test free of charge, by specialists from the Biblical Clinic.

The Costa Rican immigration official explained in a video posted on the Facebook page under Direccion de Migracion y Extranjeria that the Nicaraguans stuck on the border “can come back into the country. Immigration will annul their exit visas and would allow them to re-enter Costa Rica one time so that they could go and get their covid-19 test and then leave Costa Rica.”

Several Nicaraguans were hopeful about the tests, according to declarations that were given to several online media on the border. Some of these Nicaraguans hope that once they have the negative results of the test Ortega’s regime will let them come into their own country so that they can be reunited with their families.

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Ana Cruz

Ana Cruz