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Country Prepares for Summit

EYES around the world are on CostaRica as the Presidents, chancellors andother representatives of 21 countriesthroughout Latin America and Europearrive today in San José for the 14thSummit of Latin American-Iberian Headsof State and Government.Among the notable guests will be theKing and Queen of Spain, whowere scheduled to arrive yesterdayevening.The government has invested $1.3 millionin the event, most of which will beheld at the Hotel Herradura, on the highwaybetween San José and the JuanSantamaría International Airport northwestof the capital.Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar saidthat amount is about half what other countrieshave spent hosting previous summits.The Dominican Republic and Bolivia, forexample, each spent between $2-3 million,he said.TOVAR also emphasized that thegovernment speculates each of the 3,000people visiting the summit will spend anaverage of $800 here, meaning the summitwould bring in some $2.4 million.In response to announcements thatseveral important leaders will not beattending, such as the Presidents of Braziland Chile, Tovar said, “In reality, all areimportant. The rule is there has never beena summit during which 100% of the headsof state came.”Security for the event, which runstoday and tomorrow, will be extremelytight, said Costa Rica’s Chief of Police,Walter Navarro, with between 300-400officers working around the clock.At the Herradura, a perimeter of severalblocks around the hotel was closed tothe public earlier this week and is underconstant surveillance by video cameras, hesaid. Upon the officials’ landing today,they will be escorted to the NationalTheater in downtown San José, for openingceremony of the summit.ALL of Paseo Colón will be closed tothe public after noon today, and at 3 p.m. alarge perimeter around the NationalTheater will be closed to the public.Navarro said area business owners havebeen notified they will be required to closetemporarily for the event.“We have absolute and total control,”Navarro said during Tuesday’s Cabinetmeeting. “The security of an event is oneof the most important elements that determineswhether people of this kind ofimportance will attend.”Though airport security will be tight –bomb-sniffing dogs will be on site tocheck luggage – officials from the PublicSecurity Ministry said normal airport trafficwould not be affected.THE focus of this year’s summit willbe education – something President AbelPacheco said is vital to the future of LatinAmerica.Tovar said this summit will differ fromprevious ones in that attendees will focuson practical solutions to problems facingthe 21 countries in attendance, rather thansimply “discussing principles.”Tovar said the Office of LatinAmerican-Iberian Secretary General willbe officially created during the summit.The new office will be headquartered inSpain, which will bear 85% of its cost. Theremainder will be divided among the 20other participating nations.This year’s summit will also see twonew attendees: the Prime Minister ofBelize, and a representative of the tinynation of Andorra, sandwiched betweenSpain and France.The purpose of the Secretary General’soffice, Tovar said, will be to “guaranteethings (discussed at the summit) are completed.”THUS far, only one name has surfacedas a potential candidate: Enrique Iglesias,who is serving his fourth five-year term aspresident of the Inter-American DevelopmentBank.Tovar said Iglesias is prepared toaccept a nomination, and would likely takeoffice in March 2005.


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