MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaraguan officials say more than 5,000 Cubans have visited the Central American country this year, a 900% percent increase over the full 2018 figure.

It lends evidence to anecdotal accounts from Cuban migrants who say they passed through Nicaragua en route to the U.S.-Mexico border, where they are requesting asylum.

Others come to buy hard-to-find goods for resale in Cuba.

Nicaragua has made it easier for Cubans to obtain visas. They need just a passport, photos and a $30 fee.

Nicaragua National Tourism Institute promotion director Ana Carolina García said Wednesday on the pro-government television Channel 4 that the visits increased after Venezuelan airline Conviasa started a Havana-Managua-Caracas route three times a week in December.

She says they’re interested in visiting Nicaragua’s volcanoes and lakes and buying inexpensive electronics.

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