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Costa Rica’s Presence on Majors List
 
San Jose – September 16, 2010

Before I begin my statement on today’s subject, I would like to congratulate Costa Rica on its 189th anniversary of independence. Secretary Clinton stated that, on this occasion, 

“we… reaffirm our commitment to further the ties of friendship and cooperation between Costa Rica and the United States… as we strive to build a more secure and prosperous future for all.”

Costa Rica can be proud of its exceptional democratic history and traditions. But new threats to Costa Rica’s safety and sovereignty have emerged from the drug trafficking by international drug cartels and crime syndicates.

President Chinchilla understands the seriousness of this situation, which is why her Administration has placed such a priority on security.

My government, too, recognizes the increasing threat to Costa Rica's security and prosperity presented by drug trafficking in and through Costa Rica. Each year, the U.S. Congress requires the President of the United States to submit a list of the major illicit drug transit or illicit drug producing countries. This year, for the first time, Costa Rica has been included on the list as a major illicit drug transit country.

I want to emphasize that Costa Rica's inclusion on the Majors List is not a failing grade or criticism. It is a description of the seriousness of the situation.
Costa Rica is actively engaged in the fight against narcotrafficking, but its geographic position on the isthmus linking Colombia with Mexico and the United States, as well as its long Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, make it vulnerable to drug transshipments. 
An additional factor contributing to Costa Rica’s inclusion on the list is the growing presence of drug cartels that are using Costa Rica not only as a transit zone, but also as a base for their command and control structures. A very large majority of drug seizures in Costa Rica the last 12 months have had a direct connection to the Sinaloan cartel.

The Chinchilla Administration has given top priority to confronting the threats to citizen security in this country. This listing reaffirms the need and urgency for that action. 

In adding Costa Rica to the Majors list, the United States also added Honduras and Nicaragua. Almost all Central American countries are listed as Major Drug Transit countries. There is no doubt that the illicit trafficking across Central America is a regional threat and requires an effective regional response.

The Chinchilla Administration has stepped forward as a regional leader. The Government of Costa Rica is pressing for regional cooperation on security, which is critical to addressing this transnational threat. 

The U.S. Government also recognizes the necessity for a regional response. More than a year ago the U.S. focused on Central America's unique needs in combating illicit trafficking and began channeling resources through the Central American Regional Security Initiative - separate from the Merida Initiative. With the 2010 Majors List now including Costa Rica and almost all its neighbors, the U.S. government will renew its focus on Costa Rica’s unique requirements to better protect its territory from drug and criminal cartels, and on looking for ways to leverage those solutions with regional partners. 

The United States Government and its people will remains steadfast in its support for Costa Rica’s efforts to ensure the safety of its people.