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Nicaraguan Police Block Cubans Attempting To Reach U.S.


Some 2,000 Cubans hoping to reach the United States are stranded in Central America. They've been traveling by land from South America. When the migrants tried to enter Nicaragua on foot, they were met with rubber bullets. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Nicaragua, a close ally of Cuba, says the migrants have no legal permission to enter the country. The huge crowd of Cubans arrived at the Nicaraguan border Sunday after being granted seven-day transit visas through Costa Rica. They traveled by land from Ecuador, which does not require a visa from Cubans. Major Vilma Rosa Gonzalez of Nicaragua's National Police says the migrants invaded the country.


VILMA ROSA GONZALEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "Their actions amount to a violation of our sovereignty," says Gonzales. A Nicaraguan communique accused Costa Rica of provoking a humanitarian crisis. The Cubans fear, given the warmer relations with Havana now, the U.S. may end its policy of granting nearly all migrants from the communist nation asylum and immediate residency.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in foreign language).

KAHN: In a video posted to Facebook, hundreds of Cubans are seen on foot advancing toward a line of Nicaraguan police chanting we want to leave.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in foreign language).

KAHN: The police are seen firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. Gerald Jimenez, spokesman for the Red Cross of Costa Rica, says 30 Cubans were treated for tear gas exposure at makeshift shelters the humanitarian group set up at the border.

GERALD JIMENEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: Jimenez says hundreds are staying in the shelters but hundreds more are sleeping around the border crossing station, hoping the Nicaraguan government will relent and allow them passage. The Costa Rican foreign ministry had no immediate comment on its plans to deal with the Cubans. Carrie Kahn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.