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U.S. Southern Command supports Costa Rican indigenous communities

November 1, 2016

A group of 16 doctors, nurses, dentists and other specialists from the U.S. Southern Command are taking part in a joint humanitarian mission at an indigenous region in the Caribbean province of Limón.

The group arrived in Telire on Tuesday in four helicopters and joined 30 Costa Rican physicians to provide free medical care to indigenous people at Telire, a remote community in the Talamanca mountain range, near the country’s border with Panama.

Telire residents will receive health care services from specialists in preventive medicine, dentistry, pediatrics, ophthalmology and gynecology.

The group will remain in the area until Nov. 5 in a mission known as “Operation Pura Vida.”

Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata Vega welcomed the group in the city of Limón on Monday and said that humanitarian missions like this one are fundamental to improve health and security conditions for indigenous people.

Growing effort

This is the fifth time that Costa Rica has received assistance from the Southern Command, which is responsible for all U.S. military activity in Latin America.  The aid program started in response to a request by the U.S. Embassy in San José.

The Public Security Ministry (MSP) in a news release said that humanitarian missions at indigenous communities and other remote areas have taken place for decades.

The project began when officers from MSP’s Air Surveillance Service and the Drug Control Police learned about medical needs at indigenous communities during operations usually related to drug trafficking.

Officers of the National Police, Border Police and citizens in recent years have joined volunteer groups on these humanitarian missions, MSP noted.

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