San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Departing Arias Ushers In New Embassies

Outgoing President Oscar Arias replaced the three embassies he closed midway through his term with new ones in China, India and Qatar, countries he says are more aligned with Costa Rica’s strategic economic interests.

Last Tuesday, he announced the opening of an embassy in New Delhi, in the heart of one of the world’s most important emerging markets. The new embassy offers Costa Rica a stronger foothold in Asia.

“I have said this often: This is the century of the Asian countries,” Arias said yesterday at an interview in his home in Rohrmoser.

“Regrettably, the 21st century is not the century for Latin America, through our own fault.”

Arias made the decision to open an office in New Delhi in December 2009 to further tap Asian markets, and with the hope of bringing more cooperation and investment to Costa Rica.

We are establishing diplomatic relations with China “because it’s an economically powerful country,” Arias said. “We also need to (forge relations) with India because it’s another country that is very powerful and important.”

Arias said yesterday that he is leaving the naming of an ambassador to India to incoming President Laura Chinchilla, but that he has named former Singapore Ambassador Javier Escalante – who Arias described as “young, but very qualified” – as the first ambassador to Qatar.

In January 2008, Arias closed embassies in Bolivia, Paraguay and the CzechRepublic, as well as consulates in Puerto Rico and Chicago, for financial reasons. He opened an embassy in Beijing, China in November 2007.

–Chrissie Long

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