Environmental activist and founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Paul Watson on Wednesday congratulated Citizen Action Party (PAC) candidate Luis Guillermo Solís. He also asked for action.
“Do your best to restore Costa Rica’s reputation as a real conservation-minded nation,” announced the controversial captain on his Facebook page. “The people have indeed spoken.”
Watson cited a series of environmental cases that have brought international attention to Costa Rica and described President Laura Chinchilla as “the woman who sold out to the shark-finners and the narco-poachers,” pointing out that she will be gone on April 6.
He also highlighted some of Solís’ promises to end corruption and to protect the environment, and said Sea Shepherd is delighted to be able to work with him. That will include delivering one of the organization’s boats – The Jairo Mora Sandoval – to Moín’s beach on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast to protect the same turtles the eponymous Tico environmentalist was trying to save when he was murdered last May.
The country’s Fisheries Institute did not escape Watson’s comments as he expressed his optimism that “the corrupt agency will be overhauled.” He also said he hoped the politically motivated charges brought against him by Chinchilla “acting as a puppet to the Japanese government” will be dropped. The captain also vowed to see the protection of Cocos Island as a priority for Solís.
PAC environmental spokeswoman Patricia Madrigal told The Tico Times that the Solís campaign had no official position on Watson’s case.
She added that reforming the executive board of the Fisheries Institute, known as INCOPESCA by its Spanish acronym, was a priority for the candidate. But she also noted that such action would require action by the Legislative Assembly.
“Generally speaking, [PAC’s] objective is to keep the promise to enforce the laws that already exist. If that were the only thing we accomplished, it would be an enormous step,” Madrigal said in a telephone interview.
Last October Watson arrived in the U.S. claiming an Interpol Red Notice from Costa Rica had been dropped. At the time, a search of Interpol’s website turned up no notice of a red alert on behalf of Costa Rica, although a red alert issued by Japan was still active.
On Nov. 5, Costa Rica’s First Circuit Penal Court of San José requested that U.S. officials arrest Watson and extradite him to Costa Rica.
Watson’s Costa Rican attorney Federico Morales told The Tico Times a few days later that Costa Rica had reactivated an international arrest request and then communicated that decision to the U.S. Embassy.
Morales said he would challenge the request, as he believes the statute of limitations on the charges against Watson expired in 2004 or 2005.
Zach Dyer contributed to this post.