San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
US-Costa Rica relations

U.S. Southern Command supports Costa Rican indigenous communities

A group of 16 doctors, nurses, dentists and other specialists from the U.S. Southern Command are taking part in a joint humanitarian mission at an indigenous region in the Caribbean province of Limón.

The group arrived in Telire on Tuesday in four helicopters and joined 30 Costa Rican physicians to provide free medical care to indigenous people at Telire, a remote community in the Talamanca mountain range, near the country’s border with Panama.

Telire residents will receive health care services from specialists in preventive medicine, dentistry, pediatrics, ophthalmology and gynecology.

The group will remain in the area until Nov. 5 in a mission known as “Operation Pura Vida.”

Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata Vega welcomed the group in the city of Limón on Monday and said that humanitarian missions like this one are fundamental to improve health and security conditions for indigenous people.

Growing effort

This is the fifth time that Costa Rica has received assistance from the Southern Command, which is responsible for all U.S. military activity in Latin America.  The aid program started in response to a request by the U.S. Embassy in San José.

The Public Security Ministry (MSP) in a news release said that humanitarian missions at indigenous communities and other remote areas have taken place for decades.

The project began when officers from MSP’s Air Surveillance Service and the Drug Control Police learned about medical needs at indigenous communities during operations usually related to drug trafficking.

Officers of the National Police, Border Police and citizens in recent years have joined volunteer groups on these humanitarian missions, MSP noted.

Contact L. Arias at

Log in to comment


Nothing in life is free. The Southern Command is part of the U.S. Army, which has engaged in ongoing wars for decades, and supports draconian drug abuse policies that currently keep 3 million Americans in prison, and has supported murderous dictatorships in Latin America for more than a century. But thanks for taking care of a few indigenes.

1 0
Ken Morris

This same public relations stunt would not be tolerated inside the US, where there is a strong tradition of subordinating the military to civilian authority. Only in times of natural disaster would the military ever be called upon to intervene and provide humanitarian services, and then it would be the National Guard. The rest of the time Americans properly expect that their aid workers will be civilians working under civilian authority.

Yet, in Latin America, the US military assumes the roles of police officers, doctors, and social workers–and in so doing undercuts civil society. Indeed, it should be no surprise that Latin America is tempted by military dictatorships, since it’s the US military they see running the show.

If the US wanted to provide humanitarian assistance, it is quite capable of doing so under other than military aspices. I would also applaud my country’s humanitarianism. But when the Southern Command does it, the initiatives are compromised to the point where they are ultimately counterproductive.

0 0

The U.S. Army does not imprison U.S. citizens unless they are captured as enemy combatants or are soldiers that are AWOL. And there certaintly are not 3 million enemy combatants and deserters in prison. Nor does the Army support or condone drug “abuse”. So it is clear that JOHNFF has no idea what he is talking about.

0 0