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70 Years of U.S. Development Assistance to Costa Rica

Ambassador Anne Andrew

Ambassador Anne Andrew

A Note from Ambassador Anne Andrew

I’m delighted to present this review of United States development assistance to Costa Rica because it is one of the most successful examples of how two countries have worked together to bring rapid development with social peace and shared prosperity. The partnership between the U.S. and Costa Rica continues to build on this success, focusing in areas such as citizen security, environmentally sustainable development and economic empowerment of women.

For many years, Costa Rica was a significant beneficiary of U.S. assistance through programs like the Alliance for Progress and through institutions like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As this review shows, economic and technical support from the U.S. helped Costa Rica build human resources, reduce inequality, create opportunity and develop key  infrastructure that enabled Costa Rica to overcome many hurdles on the path to increased prosperity and well-being for its people.

Progress was rapid, and by 1996, Costa Rica graduated from U.S. assistance programs and the USAID mission in Costa Rica was closed. This was good news. Costa Rica had transformed from a primarily agricultural country to today’s more diversified market economy where technology tops the list of exports. Moreover, Costa Rica’s progress has positioned the country to successfully compete in today’s globalized market.

The partnership between the U.S. and Costa Rica continues today, exemplified by progress under CAFTA. CAFTA required Costa Rica to open its telecommunications and insurance markets to competition, benefiting consumers in both sectors. The telecommunications sector has become a dynamic force in the Costa Rican economy, with $384 million invested and 70,000 points of sale nationwide. With more jobs and more choices for consumers, Costa Rica is building a competitive and modern communications infrastructure that is critical to a global economy.

The challenge for Costa Rica today is to overcome the remaining barriers to achieve fully developed-country status. In an era of more limited government funds, the U.S. is focusing our investment in areas where Costa Rica is strategically placing its funds, attention and human potential. All of these, from promoting alternative, cleaner energy, empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders, extending English fluency and science education, and enhancing competitiveness that emphasizes innovation, are goals that President Barack Obama has endorsed both domestically and in U.S. foreign policy.

President Obama has said, “… The world has changed. But this shouldn’t discourage us. It should challenge us.” At the U.S. Embassy in San José, we accept that challenge. We look to history for context and understanding of what has been a successful investment in Costa Rica. And we look forward to our continued partnership with Costa Rica as it works to leverage the opportunities that new ideas, technologies and initiatives present.

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