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Home About Us Equipo Sur South-North Encuentro Costa Rica - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates
Costa Rica - 2010 Encuentro Country Updates PDF Print E-mail

2010 Encuentro Country Updates

COSTA RICA

By GERARDO BRENES MONTOYA
Centro de Amigos por la Paz


What is the situation of militarization in your country, with emphasis on how it is related to the United States?

  • Since 1949, until today, Costa Rica has sent police for military training with the U.S. army.
  • In all strategic actions carried out by the U.S. army, our country has been an ally, supporting the U.S. government in its military interventions in whatever part of the world.
  • In 1979 and throughout the early 80s, Costa Rica supported the "Iran Contras" operation. From Costa Rican territory, counterrevolution guerrilla encampments were established, on both the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan side of the border. This operation was directed by the CIA. It provided arms and munitions to the Democratic Revolutionary Alliance (Alianza Revolucionaria Democrática, ARDE).
  • May 31, 1983, was the Penca attack, where various members of the national and international press died. The attack remains unpunished today.
  • Absolute support by ex-president Oscar Arias' government, who was largely connected to the coup in Honduras in 2009, as exposed by a local digital media outlet.
  • It is important to mention that NAFTA, signed and approved by the United States, includes a series of aspects related to military support. For example, Annex 3.3, Code 28441000, allows for the commercialization of natural uranium, and Code 28442000 permits the commercialization of depleted uranium 235 and its compounds, and plutonium and its compounds. Code 87100000 permits the commercialization of tanks, other vehicles, and amoured cars of war, including their arms and other parts.
  • On May 12, 2010, the United States government gave the Costa Rican goverment $1 million USD for support of its coastguard and joint operations (Plan Mérida).

How does militarization affect the human rights situation?

Military training impacts the human rights situation in a negative way, given that Costa Rican police have become extremely violent against the citizenry. We see this in concrete cases. As examples we can recall the following:

  • In April 2010, the Constitutional Chamber of Costa Rica, declared an appeal for Legal Protection for students from the University of Costa Rica, who were attacked by members of the security forces and members of the Agency for Judicial Investigation, and indicated in the ruling that the police forces' actions were disproportionate.
  • On May 8 of this year, when we saw the transfer of power, some young people who were peacefully protesting were surprised by police on horseback who once again used disproportionate force, as determined by the Constitutional Chamber.
  • Other similar events have happened with municipal police who have not hesitated in firing shots against the population (street vendors), as we have seen clearly in different news sources. In some cases citizens have been hurt.
  • Recently, as an 18-year old young man left a Christian Church, police officers set up a checkpoint in a dark place, with low visibility. They indicated to the young man, who was driving a motorcycle, that he stop, but he did not. Because he did not stop he received a mortal shot to the head.

How have you all dealt with these issues?

Citizens have dealt with these issues shyly and without coordination, due to fear of repercussions if they speak out.

The mirror that presents the reality experienced by the Costa Rican population in the absence of the separation of powers, is obscured. In this country we lack a truthful, timely, and transparent body that can go to international organisms and tell them to respect our rights.

What has been your experience with resistance - good decisions, errors, and weaknesses?

Building support to achieve an effective resistance is difficult, since the majority of the media have placed themselves in favor of the government and in favor of Costa Rica's strong economic groups.

Nevertheless, as good decisions we can point out:

  • Complaints are made as well as can be made.
  • We try to defend what we believe is best (for a specific group, a specific sector, or for the country in general).

Errors that can be pointed out:

  • Negotiations reached between labor unions and the government that fail to fight for real benefits for the majority.
  • The majority of the leaders of political parties that have been from the opposition (left-wing) end up with luxury pensions that affect their ideas, and many of them abandon their ideals.

Weaknesses include:

  • Being invisible to the large part of press, especially when citizens take action to teach the population about values such as courage, honesty, and social causes.
  • Another weakness, on the economic front, is a lack of economic resources for the development of projects.

What actions can we take together to confront this situation, and thereby contribute to a culture of peace and sovereignty in our countries?

  • Define a schedule of activities that lead to the definitive closure of the SOA/WHINSEC in an efficient and timely manner.
  • Define legal actions to take before international organizations.
  • Ask Latin American government NOT to send any more soldiers or police to be trained at SOA/WHINSEC.
  • Analize the current cost that the U.S. government invests in training Latin American military and police, and what citizens are paying through their payment of taxes.
  • Bring forth a formal accusation against the U.S. government as Criminals against Humanity before international bodies. Cite each and every one of the crimes that have occured in every country.
  • Nominate Father Roy Bourgeois for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Position from Amnesty International with respect to military training at the SOA.
  • Corroborate the $1750 million USD, that the U.S. spends daily on its games of war around the world - on large ships, arms, batallions, etc., according to the data provided by the magazine FP en Español.
  • Plan Mérida: Objectives dealing with petroleum in Mexico and Venezuela, and also their natural and mineral resources, etc. Also throughout the rest of Latin America.
  • Create a block from Canada, the United States, Central America, and South America, of permanent information, through a regional office of support established in a place that all Encuentro participants find convenient.
  • Bring together the brother goverments of Venezuela and Colombia to sign a peace treaty.
  • Have all participants at the Encuentro Norte-Sur sign a request to President Barack Obama asking for the colusre of the SOA, by means of a presidential decree.
  • Sign an agreement and request to the United States Congress, for the closure of the SOA
  • Create a Latin American Investigation and Support Unit Against Militarization
  • Request economic support for the development of appropriate projects for the benefit of world peace and against any manifestation of violence or military intervention.
  • Make a denouncement of: Strong economic groups, transnational companies, free trade treaties, Plan Mérida, and militaries that protect and marginalize our peoples.
  • Request scholarships from the Venezuelan and United States for 100 young people studying Leadership, Marine Biology, Human Development, Sustainable Development, Global Warming, etc.
  • Define what advantages and benefits Costa Rica would get out of joining ALBA.
  • The Venezuelan Embassy in Costa Rica does not currently act in consistence with the progressive politics of the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela. Request the immediate transfer of all personnel at the Venezuelan Embassy in Costa Rica, except for Dr. Nelson Pineda, who is the only staff member who has really worked for solidarity and support from the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela to Costa Rica.

We should always remember:

"There should be consistency between what one says and what one does."

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