San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Drug trafficking

Lawmakers extend permission for 44 US Coast Guard ships to patrol, dock in Costa Rica

In the last voting of Tuesday’s full legislative session, lawmakers approved docking permission for 44 U.S. Coast Guard vessels that will conduct joint-patrol operations with Costa Rican authorities.

The U.S. Embassy in San José filed the request with Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry on Nov. 21. On Tuesday, 35 of 44 lawmakers present voted in favor. All nine Broad Front Party legislators voted against the request, which is the norm for the leftist party.

Under the agreement signed by both nations in 1999, permission must be approved every six months to allow U.S. ships to cooperate with the Costa Rican Coast Guard in anti-drug trafficking operations in Costa Rican waters. The deal also grants ships permission to refuel and resupply in Costa Rican territory. The extension passed yesterday allows the entry of 44 U.S. vessels from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2015.

Before the vote, National Liberation Party lawmaker Antonio Álvarez Desanti noted that the fight against drug trafficking is an international issue and no single nation can manage it on its own.

“Joining forces with the government of the United States puts us in a privileged status. The Costa Rican people can do nothing more than applaud the support of a nation like the U.S., which is helping us fight this terrible problem that affects our countries,” Álvarez said.

The Christian Democratic Alliance’s Mario Redondo also addressed the full Assembly to request approval, saying that Costa Rica’s maritime territory is too large for the country to patrol on its own. The docking of ships for refueling and resupplying also generates revenue for coastal communities, he added.

Contact L. Arias at larias@ticotimes.net

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