San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Eliminating visas for tourists from Colombia causes controversy

Lawmakers and representatives of NGOs are concerned about the proposed elimination of visas for Colombian nationals to enter Costa Rica.

President Laura Chinchilla stated that the free trade agreement being negotiated with Colombia since last week will eliminate visas, and in a few months Colombians could enter the country with just their passports.

The announcement is viewed with concern by some lawmakers and experts such as former Public Security Minister Alvaro Ramos, who told local Channel 7 Telenoticias, “Costa Rica should analyze the decision of opening the doors to all kinds of citizens from that country.”

Panama is the only country on the continent where Colombians can enter without a visa.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency a total of 227 Colombians entered the country in that condition, and eliminating the entry visa will increase the number. The NGO wants the Costa Rican government to be assured that it has the required controls to handle an influx of Colombian visitors.

The final decision will be in the hands of the Legislative Assembly, if and when lawmakers approve the free trade agreement between the two countries.

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