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Costa Rican lawmakers block U.S. Coast Guard cutter from docking

June 27, 2013

The USCG Sherman of the United States National Coast Guard on Friday canceled a scheduled arrival in Costa Rica because lawmakers at the Legislative Assembly were unable to discuss and approve the required permit on time.

The Coast Guard vessel is part of a joint patrol program between Central American nations and the U.S. government, and was due to arrive in the country on July 2. 

U.S. officials requested the permit three weeks ago, according to a U.S. Embassy press release posted Friday on its website, but lawmakers ended the session without even discussing the petition. 

Under Costa Rican law, armed vessels require a permit issued by the Legislative Assembly in order to dock in national ports. U.S. Coast Guard and Navy ships need to dock at ports in the region to replenish fuel, food and to transfer evidence or suspects arrested at sea to local authorities.

Eric Nelson, the U.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, lamented the cancellation, as he believes the patrol program “is a vital tool to improve security in the region.”

“We regret that the visit of the USCG Sherman was canceled and we hope that the Legislative Assembly grants the permits soon,” he added.

According to U.S. Embassy data, U.S. ships participating in joint patrols in the Pacific and the Caribbean in the past 18 months have prevented the traffic of some 200 tons of cocaine and 35,000 pounds of marijuana, and 441 suspects have been handed over to local authorities. 

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