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Costa Rica’s Solís prepares for his 16th trip abroad in a year

May 27, 2015

President Luis Guillermo Solís just returned from a 10-day tour of the United States last Friday, where he held several meetings hoping to attract investment. On Wednesday, he confirmed he will travel from June 3-11 to Paris, Geneva and Brussels.

The European tour will be Solís’ 16th trip since taking office a year ago.

In France, Solís’ will meet with President François Hollande; in Geneva he will hold meetings with U.N. officials; and in Brussels he will participate in a summit by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Among other goals, Solís will lobby for Costa Rica’s joining of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Citing “international commitments,” Solís said during a public event on Wednesday that he wouldn’t commit to fewer trips, and “would travel as much as needed in order to serve the country.”

The president’s reaction angered some lawmakers. National Liberation Party lawmaker Antonio Álvarez Desanti said he believes Solís’ trips are “presidential tourism”and undermine his presidential image.

Christian Democratic Alliance lawmaker Mario Redondo presented a report stating that frequent trips abroad are not exclusive to the president. The legislator said he has evidence that “officials from 13 ministries have taken 1,654 trips during the first year of the current administration.”

Among them Redondo reported that Public Security Ministry officials have traveled 345 times, and Planning Minister Olga Sánchez Oviedo left the country on 13 occasions and spent a total of 77 days abroad. Sánchez visited the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Spain, France, Moldova and China.

“She even visited some of these destinations twice,” Redondo said.

Solís justified Sánchez’s trips by saying they were job-related and that she was representing the country before international organizations. Redondo argued that international commitments should be handled by the ministers of foreign trade and foreign relations.

On Thursday, the lawmaker filed a draft bill “to improve transparency in visits abroad by public officials.” The proposal seeks to improve control and transparency for trips abroad by public officials and proposes mechanisms to evaluate the achievements of each trip.

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