Photo: Stranded at Juan Santamaria International Airport
Costa Rica’s migration court rejected on Friday a request for asylum from a Cuban who has spent the past 50 days at San Jose’s Juan Santamaria International Airport.
The court also ruled, however, that 27-year-old Enrique Arias cannot be sent back to Cuba.
A spokeswoman for the Costa Rican Migration Directorate told Efe it will be up to her agency to determine what should be done with the Cuban.
Arias fled Cuba two months ago for Panama with hopes of reaching Mexico.
But when he tried to board a Mexico-bound flight at Juan Santamaria International, officials detained him after detecting that he was traveling on a forged Costa Rican passport.
He then applied for asylum in the Central American country and responded to San Jose’s initial rejection by appealing to the Costa Rican migration court, only to be refused a second time.
Costa Rica could send Arias back to Panama or try to find a third country willing to accept him.
The migration court barred the government from returning Arias to Cuba, giving credence to his claim that his life would be in danger if he were sent back to the Communist-ruled island.
Arias told Costa Rican media that he left Cuba to avoid harm after authorities learned he was part of a social movement in possession of evidence of torture and human rights violations by the regime in Havana.
In recent months, immigration officials have reported a large increase in the number of Cubans entering Costa Rica via neighboring Panama.
Most of the roughly 12,000 people who currently enjoy refugee status in Costa Rica are from strife-torn Colombia.