San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla touts Costa Rica during New York trip

President Laura Chinchilla praised Costa Rica on Wednesday as a guest speaker at the 100th birthday celebration of technology giant IBM in New York. IBM, who announced a $300 million investment in Costa Rica on June 30, has held several events to commemorate the company’s centennial year. The New York-based company turned 100 on June 16 (TT Aug. 5, 2011).    

During her speech, Chinchilla applauded IBM for their technology innovation during the last century before focusing the bulk of her speech on the quality of life in Costa Rica. Chinchilla spoke about Costa Rica’s history, such as the 1948 decision to abolish the military, and lauded the country’s commitment to education and the environment.

“Complex trials lay ahead, many pending tasks over which I, as President, may lose sleep, but it would be a mistake to forget something about Costa Rica: We got the fundamentals of sustainable human development right,” she said. “We got them right before anybody else in Latin America did. That much I know.”

She added that “Costa Rica remains a democratic, prosperous, just, and secure society, at peace with its environment.”

The underlying theme of Chinchilla’s visit, as it has been during all three of her trips to the U.S. this year, centered on attracting investment and promoting Costa Rica as a hub for foreign businesses and trade. The president touted tax breaks offered by free-trade zones, the high percentage of high-tech exports and the government’s willingness to trade with nations around the world.

“Costa Rica’s agreements with its trading partners allow anyone who exports from Costa Rica tax-exempt access to almost 70% of the global economy,” she told the audience.  

Chinchilla weaved IBM back into the speech during her closing remarks:

“I want to invite all of those companies to take part, as IBM already does, in this beautiful project to make Costa Rica a developed country; a country that pays tribute to its past by standing on the front line of progress; a country that views the world not as a threat, but as an enormous opportunity better to project the values that have made it so special.”

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