San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Drug Policy

US Southern Command discusses drug policy with Costa Rica's Solís

Gen. John F. Kelly, commander of U.S. Southern Command, visited with President Luis Guillermo Solís and Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa to discuss anti-narcotics operations and future collaboration between the allies, at the Casa Presidencial in the Costa Rican capital on Thursday morning.

Gamboa said the meeting addressed the development of a regional security and anti-drug strategy that stretches from Colombia to Mexico. The leaders spoke about collaboration opportunities, border police training, humanitarian assistance and human rights.

“His visit is in part a recognition that [Costa Rica], despite not having an army, has become the greatest confiscator of cocaine in the fight against drug trafficking in the region,” Gamboa said after the meeting.

“They need our experience to see what we’ve been doing [with very limited resources]. The rest of the region is trying to copy the Costa Rican model to fight drug trafficking in a civil way that respects human rights,” he added.

Costa Rica’s Drug Control Police has claimed over 15.6 metric tons worth of cocaine seizures in 2014.

The minister said there would be no change in Costa Rica’s anti-drug strategy. Discussions about U.S. financial assistance for law enforcement were ongoing and did not mention any specific figures. Gamboa said he would travel to the United States next week to hold additional meeting with SOUTHCOM.

Costa Rica is a participant in Operation Martillo, a joint operation between the U.S. and Central American governments to fight drug trafficking in the waters along the isthmus. Costa Rica has received funding from the U.S. government for anti-narcotics training and equipment. Costa Rica also allows U.S. Coast Guard vessels to patrol its waters for drug traffickers.

Kelly will travel to Flamingo, Guanacaste, to review the Coast Guard station there and meet with human rights leaders to discuss human trafficking and regional security. This is the SOUTHCOM commander’s first visit to Costa Rica.

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Ken Morris

Why does the US general get an audience with the president of Costa Rica in the first place?

While I suspect that Gen. Kelly has learned a thing or two about drugs in his current job, I doubt he’s much of an expert. Yet I’d bet that if experts on drug policy asked to meet with Solís, they’d have a tough time getting an appointment (and never get a photo op it they did).

Then too, Costa Rica is at least officially a pacifist country. What’s the president of such a country doing meeting with a military general? Would Solís be equally apt to meet with generals from China or Russia? How about Nicaragua or Panama?

it’s a small point, but the very meeting reveals the underlying power dynamics that are at the root of this thing.

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Danny Lee Gibson

If it were not for the United States Coast Guard and the assistance they provide — 90% of the drug interdiction in Costa Rican waters would not take place! Suggestion — disband all Municipality police — take the money and give it to OIJ or a program that actually ”does something”!!

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OIJ is not much better than Fuerza Publica. They are from “professionals”. They too are infested with criminals. It is all about the $$$ and the average incomes of people, it can’t compete with such a serious black market. Colombia production of cocaine today is no different than what it was under Escobar and others. So I politely disagree with your assessment Danny Lee Gibson. You creat a black market, and there will always be people willing to get involved. That is “capitalism”. And if you think Presidents are innocent in this mess, you are sadly mistake. Drugs are illegal for a reason, so people can make extreme profits:

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They are far from “professionals”

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Great, more guns to infest the region for more cocaine to go north. How is it that after all these years of the drug war that there are more drugs than ever in USA? An unwinnable war, that has infested are societies with imprisonment of poor people. The bosses obviously work in big business and government. And they obviously work with impunity. Why? Close down these organizations and put the money into education and healthcare. Solis, you were a Prof…you should know better! Just look at the very campus where you worked! Consumption is way up in Costa Rica too! Just as prison numbers are. Until we start locking up corrupt big business people and politicians, things will continue to just get worse! Wake up people, and just look around at society. Costa Rica is one of the biggest cocaine societies on this planet. It has corrupted OIJ. It has corrupted the Judiciary.

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Just look at the northern triangle of Central America. 100 murders per 100,000 people. Where do you think those guns came from? Why do you think all that corruption exists? Continue on this path Costa Rica, keep arming your society, and you will be next. Because it is already very apparent that corruption is institutionalized in this country. Keep adding weapons to the mix, and you will keep adding death. And because this is a tourist country, government will hide the real fact that things are getting worse. Wake up people. Just look at the article that appeared a few weeks ago with the arsenal of weapons that was found in a citizens house in Heredia. How did that happen?

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