San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S., Costa Rican security chiefs sign deal to share airline passenger information

In a Tuesday meeting at Casa Presidencial in the southeastern San José district of Zapote, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Costa Rican Public Security Minister Mario Zamora signed an agreement to share information about airline passengers traveling to and from the United States.

The information-sharing system is called the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS). Napolitano inked the deal with Zamora after meeting with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.

“This system provides governments and border authorities with information about airline passengers and crews before the arrival or the departure of international flights,” Napolitano said. “This information can be used to identify and investigate potential threats including terrorism and including crimes like narco-trafficking.”

The Homeland Security secretary added that APIS “helps our officers connect the dots and learn more about individuals and organizations before they hit our respective shores,” and that “strong protection for privacy and civil liberties” are built into the APIS system.

Napolitano’s Costa Rican visit is part of a Latin American tour that includes Mexico, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador. Napolitano indicated she signed similar APIS agreements with regional governments during her tour.

This week, Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti is also touring the region trying to start discussions about the decriminalization of illicit drugs in Central America.

Napolitano, when asked about that issue, said: “The United States does not believe that legalizing [illicit] drugs is the way out of this problem; it is a combination of other things. It’s demand reduction. It’s good treatment and abuse prevention techniques. It is effective law enforcement and prosecution … and proper punishments being administered. So it is both on the prevention and treatment and law enforcement sides.”

For more see full story in Friday’s edition of the Tico Times.

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