Friday 24 September 2021

Head of U.S. Southern Command Visits Costa Rica To Discuss Cooperation

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President Luis Guillermo Solís (left) shakes hand with General John Kelly, head of the Southern Command, at Casa Presidencial on Thursday. Photo courtesy Casa Presidencial.
President Luis Guillermo Solís (left) shakes hand with General John Kelly, head of the Southern Command, at Casa Presidencial on Thursday. Photo courtesy Casa Presidencial.

COSTA RICA NEWS – Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, on Thursday visited Costa Rica in order to talk mainly about human rights and financial cooperation in combatting organized crime and drug trafficking in the region.

Kelly met Thursday morning for a “frugal” breakfast with President Luis Guillermo Solís and the Ministro de Seguridad Publica (MSP), Celso Gamboa, at Casa Presidencial. Attending the meeting was also Mariano Figueres, head of the Costa Rica’s intelligence agency, the DIS, among others.

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Following the meeting, Gamboa said there was discussion on regional security and combatting drug trafficking from Colombia to Mexico.

According to Gamboa, Costa Rica has become a model in the fight for drug trafficking, leading in drug seizures despite being the only country in the region not to have an army. Costa Rica’s Policia Control de Drogas (PCD) – Drug Control Police – has so far this year confiscated 15.6 metric tons of cocaine.

Later in the morning, Kelly spoke to La Nacion, about his visit, his views on the new government and political relations that mediate joint attacks against drug trafficking operations in Central America.

General John Kelly, head of the Southern Command, spoke to La Nacion. Photo: Alonso Tenorio, La Nacion
General John Kelly, head of the Southern Command, spoke to La Nacion. Photo: Alonso Tenorio, La Nacion

Kelly, a 44 year career Army man, said that it would be easier for his country to cooperate in the fight against drugs if U.S. warships could dock in Costa Rican ports.

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He said he is confident that the government of Luis Guillermo Solios will continue the support of military strategies such as “Operación Martillo”, implemented in Central America for the last three years,.

Costa Rica and the U.S. already collaborate in a Joint Patrol Agreement, allows the entry of American ships and US military working with local authorities in attacks against drug traffickers.

Kelly, who does not believe in legalization of drugs as a stimulus to reduce smuggling, assures that there is continued collaboration with the new government.

However, the work by the government faces opposition by some legislators who oppose the entry of U.S. naval ships into Costa Rica waters.

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Sources: La Nacion; Casa Presidencial; CB24.tv

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