At least 1,200 Cuban migrants stranded at the border in Panama have trampled into Costa Rica, raising the brewing migration crisis to a new level of violence.
Costa Rican officials said some attacked a government immigration office at the border during the forceful crossing on Wednesday at Paso Canoas, the Associated Press reported. The mass crossing of migrants, which also included and unspecified number from African nations, resulted in at least one damaged vehicle and a clash with police, before some were sent back to Panama.
A statement from the Costa Rica government declared the illegal crossing “an affront to the Costa Rican people.”
Costa Rica closed its borders in December while it handled nearly 8,000 Cubans stranded on their journey north to the United States, following a border shut-down by neighboring Nicaragua. The last of the Cubans in that group were flown to Mexico and El Salvador in mid-March to continue their journey north to their final destination: the U.S.
Some 3,500 Cuban migrants are now stranded in Panama.
Panama has said that about 100 Cuban migrants enter its territory every day, mostly coming from Ecuador, where thousands more are also trying to reach the U.S. through Central America.