Nicaragua Turns Back 1,166 Migrants From Costa Rica

The Nicaraguan army said Thursday that since the start of the year it has detained and expelled 1,166 migrants from various countries who had apparently entered the country from Costa Rica at clandestine crossing points.

Nicaragua, whose leaders face extensive U.S. sanctions, has actually become a bulwark against migrants who travel north from South America through Panama and Costa Rica, seeking to reach the United States.

Most migrants making the hike through the dangerous Darien Gap are from Haiti or Cuba, with smaller numbers from African nations such as Cameroon and Congo and South Asian countries India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Darien Gap is a 60-mile (97-kilometer) stretch of roadless jungle that provides the only land route north out of South America. There is little food or shelter on the week-long trek and bandits and wild animals prey on migrants.

Because Nicaragua does not allow the migrants to cross its territory toward Honduras, to the north, some have tried more dangerous water routes.

In March, Nicaraguan authorities found the bodies of six people, apparently migrants, in a small boat drifting off the Caribbean coast. A Republic of Guinea passport belonging to a 31-year-old man was found on one of the bodies. The passport had no Nicaraguan entry stamp in it.

An initial examination indicates all those aboard apparently died of dehydration or heatstroke, and that they probably died about a month ago.

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