President’s Panama Visit Yields Development Plans

April 8, 2005

AN April 1 meeting between CostaRican President Abel Pacheco and MartínTorrijos, President of Panama, yieldedagreements on various cooperative measuresto strengthen the struggling frontierregion between the two countries.Among the leaders’ plans, specified inaccords signed at the end of the meeting,are a new bridge over the Sixaola Riverto replace the existing bridge, interconnectionbetween the Costa Rican andPanamanian electrical grids, a bi-nationalflood and disaster alert system andincreased communication between thetwo governments on issues from environmentalproblems to security risks.The presidents’ agreement calls fortechnicians from both countries to designan alert system to reduce damage causedby Sixaola River flooding, which tends tooccur annually and which, this January,caused significant damage to homes,schools and farms on both sides of theborder (TT, Jan. 14).A joint project between Panama’sElectrical Transmission Company(ETESA) and the Costa Rican ElectricityInstitute (ICE) will allow Panama’s borderregion, the province of Bocas delToro, to purchase energy from ICE, providingthe province with short-term reliefto its electrical energy deficit.Pacheco and Torrijos also agreed tocoordinate a permanent communicationssystem for sharing information about drugand arms trafficking between the countriesand promote sustainable tourism inthe region. Pacheco said an “ecologicalwar” is needed against deforestation inthe region.The meeting was held in the GuestHouse of the Bocas Fruit Company inChanguinola, near the border.

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