In an effort to reassure Costa Rican lawmakers that the U.S. needs Costa Rica’s help in anti-drug operations in the Southern Pacific Zone, U.S. Embassy officials arranged a visit to Golfito Friday for 12 Costa Rican legislators.
Lawmakers are concerned about the Joint Maritime Agreement, a bilateral accord that allows the U.S. to use Costa Rican waters to fight drug trafficking.
In July, a group of legislators expressed concern over the agreement, questioning its effectiveness as well as the presence of U.S. warships in Costa Rican territory.
“We are not sure why there is this uproar,” U.S. Ambassador Anne Slaughter Andrew told The Tico Times last July (TT, July 16).
Lawmakers extended the agreement, but opposition has continued.
Ambassador Andrew and Costa Rican drug czar Mauricio Boraschi will also make the trip to tour the USS Doyle in Golfito.
“The goal of the visit is to facilitate the transparency of U.S. ship visits now and in the future by gaining a firsthand understanding of the importance and value of U.S. ship visits to Costa Rican ports,” Andrew wrote in an e-mailed statement.
“The U.S. government has recognized that the threat of narcotics trafficking through Central America has increased over the past few years,” she said.
“[Our] response has been to increase cooperation and assistance across Central America. Joint maritime patrols are a vital tool in the regional efforts to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations,” the statement said.