San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

President Arias Pushes Agenda in Chile

At a summit for 22 heads of state last weekend, President Oscar Arias asked for debt forgiveness from Spain and discussed economic cooperation with Chile. At the annual Latin America-Iberia Summit, which took place this year in Santiago, Chile, leaders of Latin American countries, Spain, Portugal and Andorra discussed poverty, security, social cohesion and economic cooperation.

“My dream is for Costa Rica to become the first developed country in Latin America,” Arias said at the summit.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet suggested to Arias in a meeting Saturday that he join the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (P4), a free-trade agreement among Chile, Singapore, New Zealand and Brunei in Southeast Asia.

Arias said in a statement that joining the P4 would “bring great opportunities to small countries” like Costa Rica.

Repeating a request he made at last year’s summit, Arias also asked Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to forgive Costa Rica’s $56 million debt to Spain. The money would be used for educational projects for indigenous and Afro- Costa Ricans, as well as residents of border regions, Arias said.

Perhaps the summit’s most memorable moment came Saturday, after Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called former Spanish President José María Aznar a “fascist.”

“Why don’t you just shut up?” King Juan Carlos I of Spain told Chávez minutes later.


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