San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S. Suspends Sanctions Against Costa Rica

Costa Rica last week applauded the United States’ decision to suspend economic sanctions against it implemented in 2001.

Costa Rica is among 21 countries that can now receive military aid from the United States, money that traditionally has gone toward police and Coast Guard training here since Costa Rica does not have a military The United States sanctioned Costa Rica – and the other nations, mostly developing countries – because it refused to shield U.S. citizens and officials from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, in the Netherlands (TT, Sept. 9, 2005).

The decision “did justice to countries like Costa Rica,” which support the ICC, said Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno, who was informed of the decision Oct. 4 by the U.S. Embassy in San José.

The ICC, founded in 1998 and in effect since 2002, is an international court of law based on treaties, with jurisdiction only in countries that have agreed to be a part of the court, or over people from those countries.

The court is set up to take on “only the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” such as war crimes, crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, and will act only if a country is “unwilling or unable to genuinely prosecute,” a decision made by the judges of the court, according to the ICC Web site.

Costa Rica was a founding member and a Costa Rican, Elizabeth Odio, serves as a judge and one of the vice-presidents of the court. U.S. President George Bush, a critic of the ICC from the outset because he believed it could be used to persecute U.S. citizens and officials for political reasons, granted Costa Rica and 20 other countries a waiver Oct. 2, allowing them to again receive U.S. military aid.

According to the Associated Press, U.S. officials said China has stepped in to provide military aid and training to 12 Latin American and Caribbean countries left out in the cold by the U.S. sanctions.


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