Archive for Costa Rica
The Republic of Costa Rica opened an embassy in Turkey’s capital Ankara. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Costa Rican counterpart Manuel Gonzalez Sanz attended the inauguration ceremony. Cavusoglu said that cooperation between the two countries will mainly focus on economic opportunities and on establishing a free trade zone. The foreign minister also mentioned that Turkey is expanding its presence in Central America, increasing the number of countries with its embassies to 12 in the region. Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister Sanz described the day as a “historic one,” as Costa Rica became the first Central American country to open an embassy in Turkey.
An anonymous caller alerted authorities to an alleged explosive device at the Israeli Embassy in Paseo Colón. Authorities responded immediately to the scene, but were unable to locate any bomb or explosive device. Embassy personnel were allowed to go back to work after authorities gave the all clear. Costa Rica’s government has also been critical of recent Israeli operations in Gaza. Authorities have not yet identified any suspects in Friday’s bomb threat, but have reason to take such threats seriously. In 1992, a suicide bombing attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killed 29 civilians and injured 242.
President Obama nominated yet another bundler for an excellent ambassadorship, one in beautiful Costa Rica, land of wonderful beaches, volcanoes, tropical forests, zip-lining, exotic fauna and flora, lovely people and no army. The pick? Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, who’s head of business development and client service at Pzena Investment Management. Haney could be described — according to a New York Times tally — not as a mega-bundler but more a mini-bundler, raising only $35,800 in the last campaign (through September 2012) and just under a piddling $200,000 since 2007. It’s pretty safe to assume, from his résumé, that Haney speaks some Spanish, since he worked for much of the ’90s for U.S. companies in Puerto Rico and as a company marketing manager for Mexico and Central America — which may have even taken him to Costa Rica. He also got undergrad and masters degrees from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.
The Costa Rican government says it’s still waiting for the Obama administration to explain why it launched the secret “Cuban Twitter” network from inside the Central American nation’s borders despite warnings in 2009 that the plan could jeopardize the two countries’ diplomatic relations. In an interview with The Associated Press, Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo said efforts to affect other countries should not be carried out from inside Costa Rica. He said his government had not received an answer to its question, which he said was delivered a day after the AP reported on April 3 that the U.S. Agency for International Development funded the secret program to stir political unrest in Communist-ruled Cuba. “I think it’s inappropriate to use an embassy in Costa Rica for this type of operation that harms a third country,” Castillo said. “We’re not filing a complaint. The point is that embassies accredited in Costa Rica don’t have to submit their plans or programs for the Costa Rican government’s approval.” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Costa Rica sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. Embassy in San Jose requesting an explanation after the AP story appeared. USAID has denied that the program was secret or that it had a political agenda. Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry told the U.S. Embassy in June 2009 that the plan to develop the social media network could lead to “political difficulties” for Costa Rica, and it refused to grant diplomatic status to two U.S. government contractors involved in the program, La Nacion, Costa Rica’s largest newspaper.
Today the president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, sent a group of experts to assist Costa Rican authorities to investigate a shooting attack on Colombias’s embassy in San Jose, which left no casualties. According to Santos the government wants to see “what is behind this fact”, recalling that the delegation was attacked with “a burst of shots”. Referring to the attack, it explained that this morning unknown vadals fired at the embassy of Colombia in San Jose, leaving no casualties. The Costa Rican authorities reinforced security in the Colombian Embassy. The Security Minister of Costa Rica, Mario Zamora, stated that at least two people fired from a car at the headquarters of the Colombian Embassy.
No one was hurt when assailants in a passing car fired shots at the Colombian Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica’s security minister said. Six shots were fired, apparently from an AK-47 assault rifle, Mario Zamora told a press conference. Four of the shots hit a guardhouse on the grounds and two struck the embassy itself. “Fortunately, there are no casualties,” the minister said. The attack occurred around 2:40 a.m. Friday and the assailants were traveling in a gray sedan, according to the official report. The embassy remained cordoned off to allow investigators to collect evidence. Colombian Ambassador Hernando Herrera was present early Friday to view the damage, but did not talk to reporters. Costa Rican authorities did not suggest a motive for the attack on the embassy, which is located in a residential neighborhood of San Jose.
A report by CRHoy.com revealed that the U.S. Embassy may be ¢2 billion (about $4 million USD) in arrears to the Family Allowances Fund (FODESAF). FODESAF is a mandatory payroll withholding for both public and private employers. However, the Embassy apparently believes that the mandatory withholding shouldn’t apply to a diplomatic mission. CRHoy reported that embassy officials responded in an e-mail, asserting that “governments do not tax other governments. Under the Vienna Convention (Articles 31 and 34), diplomatic missions are exempt from fees or taxes to a host country. This applies to the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, as well as the Embassy of Costa Rica in Washington.” However, under Costa Rica’s Law of Social Development and Family Allowances, all public and private employers and institutions must pay the monthly withholding. The Head of Collections of the Department of Social Development and Family Allowances (FODESAF), Mauricio Donato, said that despite the fact that the Geneva Convention establishes certain exemptions for diplomatic bodies, that legal criteria exists in Costa Rica which would require the U.S. Embassy to make such payments. Donato also mentioned that three other embassies have cleared their debts to the fund.