First Visit of A Vice-President From India To Costa Rica: 7, 8 and 9 March 2019

Spotlight By Eduardo Salgado Retana*

First Visit of A Vice-President From India To Costa Rica: 7, 8 and 9 March 2019

Vice President Naidu met with the President of the Legislative Assembly, Mrs. Carolina Hidalgo. After this meeting, the delegation, together with the Vice President, moved to the Presidency of the Republic of Costa Rica, where they participated in a working lunch offered by Mrs. Epsy Campbell, First Vice President of Costa Rica.

The Republic of Costa Rica is located in Central America, has a population of 5 million inhabitants that have a GDP per capita PPP of US $ 16,142. Its extension of only 51,100 square km sheltered by the Atlantic ocean to the east and the Pacific to the west, constitutes a tropical paradise that contains 5 percent of the planet's biodiversity and three UNESCO World Heritage sites. Its permanent blue sky, the green of its vegetation, rivers, volcanoes and the hospitality of its people, have made tourism the main economic activity of this beautiful country. Despite all this, never before had a Vice President of India come to this land.

But there is always a first time and it is so that on Thursday March 7, 2019, a milestone was made in the diplomatic history between Costa Rica and India; that day the current Indian Vice President, Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu, arrived on Costa Rican soil, a fact that became the first high-level visit of India to the Costa Rican territory.

India and Costa Rica are two very diverse countries in size and customs, but at the same time, very similar in ideals of democracy, peace and environment. This visit served to strengthen the bonds between both nations and created a joint agenda for the exchange of experiences in various areas. Below, we will present the details of the visit and its objectives.

Brief review of the diplomacy between India and Costa Rica

The diplomatic history between both countries dates back almost 50 years. The relations between Costa Rica and India were established in 1970, from the period of 1990 to 2010, both countries have counted with honorary Consulates and it is from April 20, 2010, that the Costa Rican Embassy in New Delhi opens.

Currently, the Chief of the Costa Rican Mission in India is the career diplomat Eduardo Salgado Retana, who is the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. and previously worked as a diplomat in New York, USA and Colombia. Retana made a formal farewell to Vice President Naidu and the distinguished delegation that accompanied him on March 4, 2019.

The historic visit begins

A distance of 16,138 km was what Vice President Naidu had to go through to arrive in Costa Rica on March 7 in the afternoon. When he arrived at the Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica, he was received by the Minister of the Presidency, Rodolfo Piza and the Minister of Foreign Affairs a.i., Lorena Aguilar, as well as the Chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

That same afternoon, the Vice President, together with members of his delegation, among whom was the Minister of State for Tourism, KJ Alphons, shared a reception offered jointly by the Ambassador of India in Panama and the Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica. India does not have an Embassy in Costa Rica, which is why the Embassy is located in Panama.

The next day, on Friday, March 8, the agenda consisted of a visit to the University for Peace (UPAZ), where he was received by the rector of said university and by the Minister of Foreign Affairs a.i. The University for Peace (UPAZ) is an academic institution dependent on the United Nations Organization. It was created in 1980 by the General Assembly of the UN through its Resolution A / 35-35 and is based in Ciudad Colón, Costa Rica. Currently, UPAZ has 124 students from 47 different countries, making it one of the most diverse universities worldwide for its size. UPEACE is the only UN institute authorized to grant Masters and Doctorates.

In recognition of his work in favor of democracy, sustainable development and world peace, UPEACE awarded the Doctorate Honoris Causa to Vice President Naidu; For his part, Vice President Naidu paid tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, by placing a wreath before his bust that is located in a garden of the UPAZ, where sculptures of the most prominent world peace leaders are grouped.

Meeting with the President of Costa Rica

After this emotional visit and a lunch of delicious traditional Costa Rican dishes, the official reception took place. Hence, at 3:00 pm, the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado Quesada along with his wife, received in the Presidential House, His Excellency Vekaiah Naidu. For this activity and as a symbol of what is the Costa Rican spirit, a country that does not have an army and where our students are the reflection of our commitment to a better future and peace for the world, a group of elementary school children was invited to receive Vice President Naidu warmly.

This is an excerpt from the speech given by the President of Costa Rica, Mr. Carlos Alvarado:

“On behalf of the Government and the people of Costa Rica, I would like to send to you, your Government and the People of India our sincere wishes of friendship, and express our will to deepen our bilateral relationship and promote greater joint work on issues of common interest, such as renewable energies, innovation and technology, agriculture, health and wellness, trade and to also explore cooperation avenues in the years to come.

We hope that your country sees Costa Rica as a friend in issues such as promotion of democracy and sustainable development. (...)

Your Excellency, Venkaiah Naidu, Vice-President, allow me to express my sincere welcome to you and to your distinguished Delegation. It is such an honor for Costa Rica that your government has decided to visit our country as part of its visit to Latin America.”

The day ended with the signing of four Memorandum of Understanding between both nations, two in the area of technology signed by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Costa Rica, one in the agricultural branch, signed by the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and one last in the diplomatic-migratory area, because it was agreed to eliminate visa requirements for people with diplomatic, official and service passports between both nations.

On the last day of the official visit, on March 9, Vice President Naidu met with the President of the Legislative Assembly, Carolina Hidalgo. After this meeting, the delegation, together with the Vice President, moved to the Presidency of the Republic of Costa Rica, where they participated in a working lunch offered by Epsy Campbell, First Vice President of Costa Rica.

The activity that culminated with the visit of Vice President Naidu, was a reception for the Indian Diaspora in Costa Rica as well as the Indian diplomatic corps that came from different countries such as Mexico, Guatemala and Panama, to share with their Vice President. The official visit culminated on the night of that Saturday, March 9.

This bilateral approach has left a pleasant sense of fraternity and desire to intensify relations of cooperation and commercial, political and cultural exchanges between both nations. Many were the anecdotes that characterized this visit as one of the most fruitful and important for Costa Rica. Indian companies are leaders in technology and innovation, and it is within the deepest interest of Costa Rica to learn from the vision and expectations of India in the evolution of outsourcing markets worldwide, as well as to develop niches where Costa Rica can become a key ally for the global Indian strategy.

The ideas have been exposed, the distances have been shortened, there is nothing left to thank Vice President Naidu for his visit to this land of sincere men and women, joyful lovers of democracy and peace, and leave the door open for another visit in a future not too distant, perhaps to inaugurate now the future Indian Embassy in Costa Rica, where all together could say with emotion: “pura vida and namaste!”

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