In his final move as U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, Peter Cianchette signed the Merida Initiative on Wednesday, releasing $4.3 million in anti-drug trafficking funding to the Central American country.
The money will be divided among Costa Rica´s public safety agencies and used as part of a “joint effort” to stem the flow of drugs north to the United States.
“We understand that the best way to tackle the current challenges is by working together in partnership. This is not the Merida Initiative for Costa Rica. This is the Merida Initiative with Costa Rica,” Cianchette said.
The former state representative and Republican candidate for governor of Maine was appointed last spring by President George W. Bush. With a new administration in office in Washington D.C., Cianchette is exiting from his post on Friday and is slated to be replaced in the coming months.
In the meantime, Deputy Chief Peter M. Brennan will assume the duties of ambassador.
“I want to take advantage of this opportunity to say thanks (to the Arias administration) for its advice and support,” Cianchette said in broken Spanish to the Costa Rican press corps on Wednesday. He added that he appreciates “the quality of hospitality of the Costa Rican people.”
Cianchette was appointed in May 2008 and during his short time in the western San José offices of the U.S. Embassy, he oversaw the development of initiatives to improve English language learning in Costa Rica, helped in the early stages of implementing the Central America Free-Trade Agreement with the United States and aided recovery efforts after the Jan. 8 earthquake.
The ambassador declined to give an exit interview to The Tico Times, but indicated that he will be returning to Maine, where he previously served as a partner in a private investment firm and as the owner and president for The Cianchette Group, a public affairs management and business consulting firm.
“We are disappointed that he will return (to the United States) and not continue with the change in government in Washington,” said President Oscar Arias Wednesday, offering a few parting words. “He has been a good friend to Costa Rica.”