Updated 09:50 PM EST, Sat, Jan 22, 2022

Guatemalan Government Willing to Accept Thousands of Cuban Migrants But Only ‘Gradually’

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The Guatemalan government has said that it is willing to accept thousands of Cuban migrants, but with reservations.

On Monday, Guatemala's President Alejandro Maldonado said that he would "consider" receiving "some" Cubans currently stranded in Costa Rica while attempting to reach the United States, but said the process would only push through "gradually," teleSUR reported from local media.

Maldonado's statement may be vague, but it is a significant step forward for the Cuban migrants currently stranded in Costa Rica for more than a month after a number of Central American countries refused to grant them entry, teleSUR added. In November, Nicaragua closed its border and banned people from entering its territory.

Belize and Guatemala immediately followed Nicaragua's example, the news outlet noted. Before that, the Mexican government also said that it will not allow Cuban migrants to enter the country, citing its current immigration laws as the reason behind the decision.

Costa Rica has granted thousands of transitory visas to Cuban migrants since Nov. 14, according to teleSUR. However, the country's officials informed Cuba's government that it can no longer provide assistance to the migrants, with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis announcing last week that the nation will not be handing out transit visas anymore.

Maldonado has told Solis to "reconsider" his decision, and pushed for a larger discussion to arrive to a diplomatic solution to the migrant crisis, teleSUR noted.

Earlier this month, Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel Gonzalez said that Costa Rica will continue diplomatic efforts "with the aim of helping these migrants transit on Central American soil," urging Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama to put more efforts to impede the surge of migrants heading to Costa Rica, Reuters reported.

Solis said he was utterly disappointed by the lack of solidarity in Central America and asked for assistance from Cubans already in Costa Rica.

"Please spread the word to other Cubans who are preparing to come through Central America and haven't arrived to Costa Rica yet to hold off until we can resolve your problems, those of you who arrived here first," he said, as quoted by Miami Herald. "Please tell the people that it's not due to lack of caring or understanding."

Majority of the Cuban migrants started their journey to the U.S. by flying to Ecuador -- which didn't oblige visas until this month -- before heading across Colombia then Central America, Miami Herald wrote. The migratory flow is prompted by the U.S.' Cuba Adjustment Act, which provides residency and other benefits to Cubans who reach the country.

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