Spanish Vice-President Visits Costa Rica

August 5, 2005

THE Vice-President of Spain, MaríaTeresa Fernández de la Vega, met withCosta Rican leaders here Monday andTuesday to talk trade, debt and insects.Fernández discussed with Costa RicanPresident Abel Pacheco, Vice-PresidentLineth Saborío and the ministers ofForeign Relations, Public Education,Environment and Culture the possibilitythat Spain will forgive Costa Rica’s debtin exchange for Costa Rican investment ineducation, similar to an already existingprogram of debt forgiveness for environmentalprotection.Leaders also discussed the progress ofcreating a free-trade agreement betweenCentral America and the European Union.Fernández said Spain is committed to theprocess, and the next Central American-Iberian summit in Salamanca, Spain willbe the moment to discuss the agreement.The Spanish delegation also expressed itsinterest in increasing Spanish investmentin Costa Rica.The Spanish Vice-President also metwith leaders from the BiodiversityInstitute (INBio), who gave her a pictureof “hemilissopsis Espanolae,” a variety ofbeetle named after the people and governmentof SpainFernández’s visit was originallyplanned for July 30-31, but she could notarrive as planned because the LegislativeAssembly neglected to approve the landingin Costa Rican territory of the SpanishAir Force plane on which she was to fly.Costa Rica ‘s Constitution requires thelanding of any foreign military vessel tobe approved by the Legislative Assembly,whether or not the vessel is armed.The Ministry of Foreign Affairsreleased a statement July 29 expressing itsfrustration with the delay. Because morethan 30 reporters are traveling with theVice-President, Acting Foreign MinisterMarco Vinicio Vargas told the daily LaNación the incident could create a terribleinternational image of Costa Rica.Legislators could not approve thearrival of the plane Thursday because theylacked a quorum, with only 32 of 57 legislatorspresent, according to La Nación.Thirty-eight legislators are needed for aquorum. A legislative session was notheld Friday.Legislators have recently been criticizedfor their failure to attend legislativesessions.

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