Costa Rica Asks U.S. for Central American Drug-Aid Program

By Dialogo
August 19, 2010

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla expressed her desire for the United States to invest funds in an anti-drug program specifically for Central America, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP).

“We don’t want to be seen as an appendix of the Merida Initiative. We want a plan for Central America,” she told the news source.

The Central American region currently receives funds to combat organized crime and drug-trafficking through the Merida Initiative, a $1.4 billion aid program initiated by former US President George W. Bush in 2007. But the majority of aid is destined for Mexico.

In 2009, the U.S. approved $300 million Merida funds solely for Mexico, while pledging $110 million for all of Central America, including the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the Caribbean.

But in February 2010, Costa Rica seized more than one ton of cocaine from a rural area outside the capital of San José, where authorities detained two Mexican men allegedly working for the Juarez cartel, according to the Public Security Ministry.

Still, Chinchilla admitted the country does not have the capacity to patrol its waters, said the AP, and announced that she wants to ask for an increase in funds and for the U.S. to view Costa Rica as a “more mature” partner in the fight against crime and drugs.

She asked Washington to review the country’s cooperation in anti-drug efforts and heed its concerns, according to the AP. “The United States should work in tandem with Costa Rica,” she added.