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Costa Rica: Obama shores up Central American alliances

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1. M/S of Obama and Chinchilla walking on stage

2. W/S of US President Barack Obama and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla walking towards the stage

3. M/S of Obama and Chinchilla greeting the moderator of the forum

4. M/S of Obama and Chinchilla greeting the audience then taking their seats

7. SOT, US President Barack Obama, “For us to be successful, we are going to have to further integrate, and were going to have to use not just the powers of governments, government to government relations. Its going to be people to people, business to business.”

6. M/S of Chinchilla listening to the moderators questions

5. M/S of Obama sitting and clapping with audience

8. M/S of Chinchilla addressing the audience UPSOUND (Spanish): The day of yesterday was a day full of hope. Not only in regards to the relations within the Central American countries, but also with in regards to their relationship with the United States.”

9. SOT, Obama: “I have to say, this visit has made me extraordinarily optimistic about, not just the future of the United States and the future of Central America, but the entire hemisphere. So thank you very much.”

11. C/U of Obama addressing the press

10. M/S of Obama and Chinchilla walking out

SCRIPT

Costa Rica: Obama shores up Central American alliances

US President Barack Obama made a first visit to trading and diplomatic partner Costa Rica on Friday, attending the annual Central America Forum on Sustainable Economic Development meeting in San Jose. Obama’s appearance is part of a three-day trip that also saw him visit Mexico.

The US and Costa Rica have historically been considered allies and the US are San Jose’s most important trading partner; over billion (€9.2bn) worth of goods were exported to the US by Costa Rica in 2012.

“I have to say, this visit has made me extraordinarily optimistic about, not just the future of the United States and the future of Central America, but the entire hemisphere. So thank you very much,” said President Obama. “For us to be successful, we are going to have to further integrate, and we’re going to have to use not just the powers of governments, government to government relations. It’s going to be people to people, business to business.”

However, Costa Rica’s membership of the Central American Integration System (SICA) has led to closer diplomatic ties with neighbours, excluding the US. The US has seen its influence over Latin American politics challenged by political shifts in the region. Alliances such as ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America), an economic union founded by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, are designed to counter US influence. Member countries, including Costa Rica’s neighbour Nicaragua, intend to introduce a Euro-style regional currency, the Sucre. Obama’s visit missed out Nicaragua, which has reduced its economic reliance on the US over the past few years. In 2010 for example, 50 percent of Nicaragua’s exports went to the US — a fall of 19 percentage points from 2006, according to Observatory of Economic Complexity data.

In preparation for Obama’s meeting with President Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rican and US police forces worked together on security. However, the security measures failed to deter groups of protesters, who held demonstrations against the behaviour of the US towards the region.

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