All eyes on Costa Rica as U.S. Secretary of State visits

Antony Blinken is in Costa Rica for his first official visit to Latin America.

With its iconic livery and “United States of America” in all caps across the fuselage, the Boeing C-32 roared into Juan Santamaría International Airport, bringing to Costa Rica the U.S. Secretary of State and the entire region’s attention.

Antony Blinken is currently in Costa Rica for his first official visit to Latin America. During the trip, the Secretary of State is extolling the strong relationship between the two countries, but he also hopes to address some of Central America’s biggest challenges.

After landing in Alajuela, a motorcade drove Blinken to the Presidential House in Zapote, where the Secretary of State met with Costa Rica’s foreign minister and with President Carlos Alvarado.

“The U.S.-Costa Rica relationship is a strong model for how the United States can partner with nations throughout the region to help our citizens,” Blinken said.

“I thanked President Alvarado for Costa Rica’s leadership in supporting democracy and rule of law in the region and beyond.”

Blinken then participated in a reunion of the Central American Integration System (SICA) alongside the foreign ministers of Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Mexico.

There, Blinken was expected to explore the “root causes” of irregular migration in the region.

“The [U.S. President Joe Biden] administration has been clear from the beginning about the importance of addressing corruption,” said Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, before Blinken’s travel.

“When you address the migration -- irregular migration -- the corruption and governance and rule of law, those are all interconnected.”

Key points from Blinken’s trip to Costa Rica

  • President Alvarado has been outspoken in demanding equitable global access to coronavirus vaccines. He has blamed rich countries of hoarding surplus doses.

    Vaccine equity featured in President Alvarado’s meeting with Blinken. The Secretary of State declined to promise vaccines to Costa Rica, but he reminded that the U.S. has committed to distributing 80 million doses in a “coordinated, multilateral effort around the world.”

  • Blinken’s trip to Costa Rica is being regarded as a savvy move since U.S. relations with other Central American nations are strained. The United States and Costa Rica are strong allies, and Blinken’s visit here got him a seat at the table with foreign ministers from across the region.

    “We’re in many of these challenges together,” Blinken said prior to the SICA meeting. The Secretary of State planned to discuss “backsliding” in democracy and human rights.

  • Without straying too far into U.S. politics, Blinken’s visit represents a key battle for the Biden administration. President Biden plans to allocate $4 billion to “address factors driving migration from Central America,” and he also hopes to punish corruption. Both are tall tasks.

    Blinken leaves Wednesday, but the regional focus will continue next week when Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Guatemala and Mexico.

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