San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Central America-Mexico summit set for next week in San José

SAN JOSE – Experts and officials from Mexico and Central America will gather in Costa Rica on Tuesday to discuss strategies to strengthen trade and to improve the so-called “war on drugs,” which will be a focus of a regional summit with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto Feb. 19-20.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo stressed “the need to redefine what the region and Mexico should do to fight organized crime and to join efforts, especially in the fight against drug trafficking, and smuggling and human trafficking.”

Castillo highlighted as a priority the joint fight against organized crime, which turned Central America into the most violent region in the world outside of war zones, according to the latest U.N. report. In Mexico, the drug war has killed some 60,000 people since 2005.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will arrive in Costa Rica on Feb. 19 to participate in the summit of the Central American Integration System (SICA) the next day.

While in Costa Rica, Peña Nieto will be awarded the Juan Mora Fernández National Order Medal, an honor reserved for foreigners for reasons of distinguished service to Costa Rica, particularly in diplomacy or foreign relations.

Officials from the Central American Bank of Economic Integration, the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the secretary general of SICA, Juan Daniel Alemán, will also attend.

According to U.S. data, nearly 90 percent of the cocaine shipped from South America passes through Central America on its way to the United States, the world’s largest consumer.

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