Nicaragua Closes Border to Cuban Migrants Moving North to United States
Top Story — Nicaragua shut down its border with Costa Rica on Sunday to keep more than 1,000 Cubans from entering the country. The move by Nicaraguan authorities is a direct rebuke to their Costa Rican counterparts’ decision, one day earlier, to grant transit visas to the migrants—a decision that the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said will set off a humanitarian crisis.
The border crisis comes amid increasing tensions over the rising number of Cubans crossing Central America on their way to the United States in order to circumvent the heavily patrolled Florida Straits and to take advantage of special immigration arrangements that date back to the Cold War.
The “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy, as it is informally known, protects Cubans from deportation from the moment they set foot on U.S. soil. Such protection does not extend to migrants captured at sea. Owing to the thawing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, many on the island nation fear that the policy may soon be discontinued — a fear that, according to analysts, accounts for the recent wave of Cuban migration to the United States.
Costa Rican authorities on Friday detained the Cuban migrants at the border with Panama, setting off protests that temporarily blocked the Inter-American Highway. The government reversed course on Saturday, providing the migrants with a transit visa that gave them seven days to cross into Nicaragua.
Conflicting reports emerged on Sunday from the Peñas Blancas border crossing between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, where Nicaraguan police turned away hundreds of Cuban migrants who had either entered the country or were attempting to cross the border. Police members said the migrants caused “serious altercations” and “material damages” after storming the border crossing, according to Agence France-Presse. The Tico Times reports that riot police reacted to the migrants’ attempts to cross by firing shots and tear gas.
“The Costa Rican government, in a deliberate and irresponsible action, hurled and continues hurling thousands of Cuban citizens at Nicaragua’s southern border posts,” the Ortega administration said in a statement. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González, in turn, condemned Nicaragua’s “totally irresponsible” decision to shutter its border, according to The Tico Times.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
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Mexican officials have extradited alleged Sinaloa cartel drug trafficker César Gastélum Serrano to the United States, marking a shift in Mexican extradition policy following the escape of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán from prison in July.
Cal State Long Beach design student Nohemi Gonzalez was one of the victims in Friday’s terror attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of 129 people.
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U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack became the third cabinet secretary to visit Cuba this year after holding a series of meetings with Cuban agricultural officials on Friday. Vilsack’s visit further marked an effort by the Obama administration to deepen trade discussions ahead of the one-year anniversary of the normalization of relations between the two countries.
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Drug enforcement agents seized more than 419 kilos of marijuana in an abandoned car in the town of Oruro, Bolivia, after it had been smuggled from Paraguay.
Argentina’s presidential candidates —Daniel Scioli of the ruling party and opposition candidate Mauricio Macri— attacked each other on Sunday in the country’s first-ever televised head-to-head candidates’ debate.
Around 3,000 people staged a protest Sunday in the Brazilian capital Brasilia against President Dilma Rousseff, with a small group of far-right protesters going so far as to call for a military coup against the increasingly unpopular leader.
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Cities around the world held vigils in honor of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, including a group that gathered with “Rio est Paris” signs in front of the famed Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.