U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Peter Cianchette and Minister of Public Security Janina del Vecchio signed on June 17, the first letter of agreement between the United States and the Government of Costa Rica implementing the Mérida Initiative, a multi-year regional effort to combat organized crime, gangs, and the trafficking of narcotics and firearms. Also signing for Costa Rica were Foreign Minister Stagno, Justice Minister Martin, and Supreme Court President Mora, with President Arias signing as a “distinguished witness.” The June 17 signing provides an initial $1,142,000 in FY2008 funding for the first year of the Mérida Initiative.
Under this agreement, the Costa Rican Government will participate in the following projects fully funded by the U.S. Government: Central American Fingerprint Exchange, $200,000; improved policing and police equipment, $742,000; and improved prison management, $200,000. The Government of Costa Rica will also be receiving a range of Mérida Initiative assistance in the areas of maritime interdiction support, border assessment assistance and inspection equipment, access to the Mérida Initiative’s Regional Firearms Advisor in San Salvador, and participation in a number of regional professional development and training programs.
Representatives of the Government of the United States and the Government of Costa Rica will meet quarterly to review qualitative and quantitative progress towards achievement of the project goals and objectives. These evaluations are in addition to the ongoing monitoring of the programs and activities conducted by each government.