San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New U.S. ambassador in San José, for the first time ever

Peter Cianchette, a Maine businessman active in Republican Party politics, arrived here late last month as the new U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica.

He replaces Mark Langdale, who left his post in January to assume leadership of the George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation.

In a recent speech to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cianchette (pronounced chin-ket) said he would promote trade, tourism and investment between Costa Rica and the United States.

He will work hard, he said, to help Costa Rica join the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA). The country ratified CAFTA in an October 2007 referendum but has not yet passed all the laws required to enter the pact.

Cianchette added that he looks to President Oscar Arias for help in the war on drugs, terrorism and human trafficking.

“Fortunately, we have a willing partner in the Arias administration that seeks for Costa Rica to play a pivotal role in an integrated regional response to these threats,” he told the Senate panel.

A familiar face in local politics, Cianchette served in Maine’s state legislature from 1996 to 2000. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2002 and was state chairman for Bush’s presidential campaign in 2004.

According to Maine newspapers, Cianchette belongs to one of the state’s most prominent business families, founders of the Cianbro construction company.

Cianchette is also a businessman. He is a partner in the private investment firm CHK Capital Partners and president of The Cianchette Group, a public affairs management and business consulting firm. Prior to his arrival last month, Cianchette had never been to Costa Rica.

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