Oil Spill Spreads to Costa Rica, Threatening Biodiversity

The environmental disaster is now an international one almost a week after a fire started in a biodiversity-rich mangrove off Nicaragua’s Pacific coast.

Multinational oil company Puma Energy may be responsible of a major oil spill over the weekend in the tourist destination Puerto Sandino, on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, contaminating nearly a mile of mangroves and now the coasts of Honduras and Costa Rica.

Costa Rica University oceanographer Omar Lizano reported Monday that the oil had reached the Gulf of Fonseca, shared by the three Central American countries, and was now affecting the beaches and mangroves’ exceptional biodiversity.

The spill followed an explosion involving two of the company’s four tanks that stored oil-derived products, the local environment group Humboldt Center said at a press conference over the weekend. The center demanded immediate measures to least slow down what it described as ongoing environmental damages.

“There is an important oil spill, whose precise volume remains unknown, but one kilometer square of mangrove water is filled with oil, the fauna has been affected,” said Humboldt Center’ director Victor Campos.

Beside the mangroves, the oil was also swept into the ocean while the tide rose. Corpses of fish, turtles and crabs started accumulating everywhere, reported La Prensa.

Continue reading “Oil Spill Spreads to Costa Rica, Threatening Biodiversity”

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#CostaRica sets date for 2nd airlift of stranded #Cubans

Costa Rica has set a Feb. 4 date for a second airlift of Cuban migrants who have been stranded for over two months at the country’s northern border with Nicaragua, officials said Monday.

Costa Rica’s immigration agency announced the next flight will ferry 184 Cubans to El Salvador, from where they will continue by land north toward the United States. Costa Rican authorities were contacting those on the list to let them know what documents they will need to present.

The migrants are responsible for the cost of the air bridge: $555 per adult, plus $75 total for Salvadoran and Guatemalan visas. The travel cost is $350 for children between 2 and 12 years old, and $150 for those under the age of 2.

After the flight is filled up, “we will immediately begin to prepare the next one,” immigration agency director Kathya Rodriguez said.

Thousands of Cuban migrants have been stuck in Costa Rica since Nicaragua closed its southern border to them Nov. 14.

The Cubans say their goal is to reach the United States, where favorable immigration policies allow them to remain and apply for residency.

The U.S. rules irk Havana, which says they foment brain drain and encourage islanders to attempt risky migration routes. Backers of the policies say they offer refuge to people fleeing Cuba’s communist system.

The first airlift took place Jan. 12 from Costa Rica to El Salvador, leapfrogging Nicaragua. The migrants then traveled by bus through Guatemala and into southern Mexico, where authorities issued them 20-day transit visas to reach the United States.