San Juan del Sur - Chocolata Road to Rivas
From La Cruz to San Juan del Sur: the binational project promoted by Santa Cruz and Nicaraguan authorities
Last Thursday, April 22, the mayor of La Cruz, the Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura and his counterpart from Nicaragua held a meeting to promote the border towns as an attraction for national, binational and European tourism.
They visited Conventillos as part of the agenda, a border point seven kilometers from the center of La Cruz along an unpaved road, from where you can see the virgin beaches of the Santa Cruz coast. After Conventillos - just 10 kilometers after crossing the border - the first town in San Juan del Sur is El Ostional.
It is precisely in Conventillos where the Santa Cruz mayor's office wants to motivate the opening of a migratory post, mainly for two reasons: one, the tourist potential of La Cruz, which offers rural tourism, virgin beaches, bird watching, marine species and petroglyphs, as well as diving, snorkeling, kitesurfing.
And two, that the Peñas Blancas immigration post has a mainly commercial focus. It is a border not very friendly to tourism as it is usual to coincide with long lines of trucks and with little commercial offer.
Seen as a binational project, there is a third reason: San Juan del Sur is one of the destinations in Nicaragua most visited by international tourism and the opening of a new border post is among the priorities of the local and national authorities of that country.
"We are working, in the case of Nicaragua, in coordination with the ministries of Transportation, with the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration and the municipal mayors to enable the border post in El Naranjo [as the border sector in Nicaragua is called]" Minister Campbell told regional media La Cruz TV.
But, how possible is it for Costa Rica to set up an immigration post there, as the authorities dream of?
The project intersects with the enthusiasm of the Nicaraguan authorities, of the Santa Cruz mayor - who wants to make it a reality before his government ends in 2024 - and with the possibilities of other national authorities of the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners (DGME) and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT).
A stagnant initiative
The project already has at least one step forward: since 2010, Costa Rica created by decree the immigration post of Conventillos due to the increase in the migratory flow through that area and, then, due to the need to have «logistical and legal mechanisms to exercise a more effective and efficient migration control ”. Since then, Conventillos has been a point of irregular entry and exit for people.
Although it is created on paper, the project never advanced to the point of enabling a passage for tourism. Right now there is only one police station.
Even today, the official qualification of the position is not a priority for the DGME, according to a response from the press office of that institution to a query from La Voz. "A financial situation prevails at the national level that requires a very precise prioritization exercise to address only those strategic actions that cannot be postponed," they said.
They also specified that the National Council of Border Posts "has focused resources on the modernization of Peñas Blancas, Paso Canoas, Sabalito and Las Tablillas."
Two weeks before the meeting on Thursday, La Voz also asked the ICT if it was one of its projects to promote the qualification of the position.
The press office responded that "all actions that facilitate the expedited transit of tourists in the region are welcome and investment in border infrastructure is an action in this line, however the ICT does not have projects to promote construction or opening of border posts ”.
After the meeting, the Minister of Tourism said that there is interest in improving the migratory flow of tourists. "We would like to enable new opportunities for the migration of tourists through passages that are much more attractive to them," he mentioned.