The International Observatory on Statelessness

Costa Rica

According to the U.S Department of State, Costa Rica has a small population of stateless persons mostly represented by Nicaraguan migrants and the Ngobe-Bugle people, an indigenous group from Panama. These groups migrated to Costa Rica to work on plantations. Some gave birth to children on the plantation and chose not to register them as Costa Rican citizens, believing that they were Nicaraguan or Panamanian. However, Nicaragua and Panama refuse to accept many of these children as citizens, rendering them stateless.

Costa Rica’s naturalization process has different requirements for Central Americans, Ibero-Americans, and Spaniards. The government claims that these people share a closer historical, cultural, and spiritual bond with the people of Costa Rica and would be much more easily assimilated into the country. Nevertheless, this creates an unfair practice for stateless inhabitants who do not share similar origins.