(QCOSTARICA) In a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday, President Luis Guillermo Solis finalized a deal that will send millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Costa Rica.
On his Facebook page Monday night, Solis said “the U.S. cooperation will allow us to combat organized crime and strengthen security at land borders.”
The President said the Costa Rica will receive around US$30 million in military supplies which includes two cargo planes, two large patrol boats and two smaller interceptor boats, air surveillance equipment and biometric software to help identify illegal immigrants in the field.
The agreement also provides supplies for police, including three armoured vehicles, the construction of virtual shooting ranges and communications equipment primarily for the rangers at the Corcovado national park. In addition, the U.S. will provide extensive training of Costa Rica’s Coast Guard and maintenance for the boats.
President Solis called the donation from the U.S. government “the biggest assistance granted in the last 30 years”.
The donation is part of what U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden (present at the meeting) referred to in a Monday opinion piece for Univision as a “two-track approach” aimed at dealing with illegal immigration into the U.S. The first track being expedited processing for immigrants in immediate danger, and the second being long-term solutions to combat the root causes of illegal immigration.
“Together, we’ve developed a comprehensive plan that is rooted in our commitment to improving security—the indispensable foundation for all other progress,” Biden wrote. “And we’re going to keep working to eradicate the transnational criminal networks that drive drug smuggling, human trafficking and financial crime.”
Tension. The U.S. aid comes after the recent announcement by Nicaragua confirming the purchase of 50 T-72 tanks from Russia. Solid said he expressed to Obama concern about the “remilitarization” of Nicaragua by its president Daniel Ortega, calling it a “veiled threat”.
“We mentioned to president (Obama) and vice president (Biden) our concern about the remilitarization in Nicaragua (…). It is not comfortable to see a government buying much power as is doing the government of Nicaragua. We are not comfortable with the rearmament,” said Solis, who does not expect the military equipment to be used against Costa Rica said.
The Costa Rica delegation was made up of Solis; Foreign Minister, Manuel Gonzalez; Minister of the Presidency, Sergio Alfaro; Costa Rica’s ambassador in Washington, Román Macaya; the Director of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Mariano Figueres.
Joining Obama and Biden at the meeting was also the US Ambassador to Costa Rica, Stafford Fitzgerald Haney.
Last month, Costa Rica announced that it would offer temporary refuge to people fleeing from the violence-plagued Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala – a decision spurred by U.S. efforts to stem illegal entries along its southern border with Mexico.
President Solis added that during the meeting with the highest political authorities of the United States, he called for U.S. support for the candidacy of Costa Rica’s Christiana Figueres to the general secretariat of the United Nations (UN).
The donation reported by Casa Presidencial (Government House) that will be made through the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica includes:
- Two C-145 cargo planes
- Three vessels for maritime surveillance, including two to interceptors
- A Coast Guard station
- A Dock in Golfito, Puntarenas
- US$ 1 million for the refurbishment of the King Air Air Surveillance plane
- Team To extend to 24 hours counternarcotics aerial surveillance
- A Hangar
- An Operations centre for air surveillance in Coto 47, in Corredores (southern zone)
- The Construction of police checkpoint Kilometre 35, near the border with Panama.
- Biometrics to identify undocumented migrants
- Training for the Border Police and equipment for mobile inspections
- Field tents to house 2,400 people that includes folding beds and blankets for disaster relief
- Three armoured vehicles for the Fuerza Publica (police)
- Virtual shooting range for police
- US$350,000 to the Canine Unit of the Penitentiary Police.
- Communications equipment with a value of 40,000 for Corcovado National Park rangers
- Kits treat victims of sexual violence, among others
- 2,000 scholarships for at-risk youth, training them on labour and entrepreneurship skills
Full release from Casa Presidencial here (in Spanish)
Photos: Casa Presidencial
Video: La Nacion