Current and sustained political instability in the country paints a worrisome picture.

As a result, migration to Costa Rica, and likely to other countries, has grown significantly since the 2018 April political crisis. Some of these migrants are fleeing from violence, including repression, killings and threats, which makes their situation more vulnerable.

Costa Rica is quoted to have received over 60,000 refugee relief requests from Nicaraguans since 2018. It has provided status to some and rejected many others (at least during the beginning of the crisis).[1]

Cross border migration since the crisis shows that at least 50,000 Nicaraguans will have entered Costa Rica at the end of 2018.

Source: Author’s estimates

For example, in a December 2019 survey, 9% of Nicaraguan households said they had a relative who had left since April 2018. This number amounts to 140,000 people.[2]  Many of these individuals have fled to Costa Rica, Spain and the United States.

Six months later, in June 2020, 13% said a relative had left since that political crisis, on balance at least 60,000 more people had left, while many had returned prior to the pandemic, the increased report suggests continued pouring of people leaving.[3]  Many of these individuals have fled to Costa Rica, Spain, and the United States.  One indicator reflecting this situation is also the number of Nicaraguan apprehended in 2019, just over 14,000 with 4,000 of them applying for asylum. The prior years the number of apprehensions of Nicaraguans was under 4,000 people with less than 300 asylum applications.

Moreover, the deteriorating political and economic conditions country have been such that have prompted to a large number of people consider migrating.  In December 2019, 19% of people expressed that they or a relative had an intention to migrate.  The pandemic added another complication to the economic and political situation and in June 2020 the number of people saying they had a relative planning to migrate was 35%. By January 2021 with a negative growth of -4% for a third consecutive year, the number of people wanting to migrate increased to 60%.[4]



[1] and

[2] Borge y Asociados, December 2019, survey to 1010 individuals.

[3] Inter-American Dialogue, online survey to 1000 individuals.

[4] Survey, June 2020, Inter-American Dialogue.  CID-Gallup Poll, January 2021.