A recent visit by The Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Costa Rica underscored the excellent status of bilateral relations and their intent to cooperate and establish meaningful dialog.
Chancellor of the Republic Enrique Castillo, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Costa Rica, sat down with Minister Baird and reviewed existing treaties and affairs as well as the status of regional affairs. Specifically, they discussed their participation in the Organization of American States (OAS), the Central American Integration System (SICA in Spanish), the Summit of the Americas, the Pacific Alliance, and Costa Rica’s temporary leadership of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish) which begins next year.
According to an official press release by the Ministry, Costa Rica and Canada share a particular convergence of positions with regard to democracy, human rights and the promotion of international peace initiatives. After the meeting between Chancellor Castillo and Minister Baird, the Canadian public official met with President Laura Chinchilla.
Some of the highest level visits by Canadian officials to Costa Rica in modern times have taken place during the current administration. In 2011, Prime Minister Harper visited, followed by the Speaker of the House of Commons and various Members of Parliament followed in October 2012. In March 2013, The Honourable Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) also visited Costa Rica.
Although Canada has increased her military involvement in the United States War on Drugs in Central America, Costa Rica has not been affected. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC),
“Canada has participated in naval operations in the Caribbean Sea designed to thwart narcotics-smuggling efforts. Canada has also provided specialized radar and reconnaissance patrol aircraft to that fight. Canadian troops are working and training with troops from Chile, Brazil, even Colombia, [the commander of Canada’s operational forces, Lt.-Gen. Stuart] Beare said. But the effort is sharpest in Central America.”
The statements to the CBC by a high-ranking Canadian military officer run counterpoint to the ongoing trend of budget cutting across the Canadian Forces, which the Costa Rica Star has written about in the past.