San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Regional Anti-Drug Funding Gets Boost, and a New Name

The United States is releasing an additional $2.64 million in aid under the Merida Initiative to improve citizen safety in Costa Rica.

In an announcement at the Foreign Ministry on Friday, U.S. Ambassador Anne Andrew said the additional money will be used to strengthen border controls, improve the justice system and fight criminal organizations.

“Today, with our signatures, we continue with our shared commitment to improve the security of our citizens in Costa Rica and in the United States,” Andrew said of the program that has thus far pumped $175 million into Central America – $9 million in Costa Rica this year alone.

The additional aid was accompanied by an announcement that the United States will change the initiative’s name to the Central American Regional Security Initiative, or CARSI.

“The name change reflects the fact that the State Department has noted that the needs of law enforcement may differ between Central American countries,” read a statement from the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry. “But they also share many of the same challenges, such as the use of their territory to transport drugs, for money laundering and for other illegal activities related to drugs.”

Meanwhile, President-elect Laura Chinchilla has been traveling through Central America, mustering support for a shared security initiative.

“We are at the point of initiating a series of security operations to put the brakes on drug trafficking and money laundering,” she said after a visit with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli. “This is the opportune moment to coordinate with our Panamanian counterparts because this fight can only be one if we do it together.”

–Chrissie Long

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