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Costa Rica's Foreign Minister says best relationship is with Belize

[Linked Image] In Costa Rica, final preparations are underway for the historic inauguration of its first female president. Laura Chinchilla will assume office in the Central American nation this Saturday and tomorrow morning she will appear on Channel Five's Open Your Eyes. Chinchilla was in Belize in 2007 as vice-president. Our team arrived in Costa Rica late last night and today, William Neal and Marleni Cuellar interviewed Foreign Minister Bruno Stagna. Here is that report.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Laura Chinchilla is the first woman to be elected president of the Republic of Costa Rica. The fifty year old politician has served as vice president and justice minister in the outgoing president's Cabinet. According to Bruno Stagno, Costa Rica's Foreign Minister, Belize is a staunch ally of his nation.

Bruno Stagno, Foreign Minister of Costa Rica

"Belize is probably our strongest ally in SICA. Every time that I've been to a council or ministers. We are always son par with Belize. We have very similar outlook as to how we should proceed forward. I must say that I have had very splendid relations with the four or five foreign ministers that I have had the opportunity to work with. I would say our relationships are amongst the best if not the best in Central America and we're very pleased when we see Belize participating as a full member with full weight in SICA decisions."

Though there are friendly relations between the two countries, Stagno believes that there are plenty areas of cooperation that can be improved.

Bruno Stagno

"However, there is still a lot we can do bilaterally. There are enormous amounts of issues that we can deal with bilaterally where we can cooperate, where Costa Rica can cooperate a lot more with Belize and there are also areas where I think we can learn more from you. That has been next to my regrets, something we have not been able to develop as quickly and as immediately as I would have liked. In fact, we are still trying to schedule over these last weeks, a visit by Minister Elrington so that we can sign a couple of agreements."

Costa Rica does not only look to Belize but also to one other CARICOM ally that can help to further the development of the country's population of four and a half million people.

Bruno Stagno

"Belize is without a doubt our staunchest ally and friend in SICA and you are also our bridge to CARICOM. There is no question about that. Today we have two embassies in CARICOM, one in Belize and one in Trinidad and Tobago. You are both the extremities of CARICOM and these are the two countries with which we feel the most intimacy and the two with which we feel most at ease and so I believe that the new government will continue regarding Belize as a staunch ally and friend, as our partner in SICA and as our bridge in CARICOM."

On his next assignment, Stagno leaves behind the mountains of Costa Rica to be the country's permanent representative to the United Nations. The last minute preparations for the president elect are underway and Channel Five will bring you the live broadcast of the presidential induction. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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First female president of Costa Rica to be inaugurated

[Linked Image] Throughout our history, Belize has not had a woman run for Prime Minister. But the region is fast catching on to the power wielded by strong women. Both Panama and Nicaragua have had women at the helm of government. In Trinidad, the United National Congress hopes to make Kamla Persad-Bissessar their first female Prime Minister. That election will take place on May twenty-fourth. However, Costa Rica's election took place back in February and the citizens of that nation have elected their first female President. Laura Chinchilla is hours away from her inauguration and she spoke to News Five about the future of her administration.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

On Saturday the president Elect of Costa Rica will be inaugurated. Laura Chinchilla will be the first woman to be elected to her country's highest post.

Laura Chinchilla, President -Elect, Republic of Costa Rica

"It is certainly an honor and I feel very proud to be part of this important part of our history. But at the same time, I feel very, very concerned about trying to satisfy all the expectations concerning the role I'm going to play as the first woman president. I think this is part of a process that was initiated in Costa Rica many years ago. We have been opening spaces in favor of women. At this time, for example, we have forty percent of women represented in congress. So I feel that naturally the next step was to have a woman president. Well, the time arrived and I feel very proud to be the first woman."

Like the rest of Latin America, Costa Rica is faced with an increase in crime. Chinchilla's government will do all in its power to curb criminal activity.

Laura Chinchilla

"The factors associated with this violence has to do with organized crime, narco-trafficking, the presence of drugs in the region is very strong. It has to do with problems of access to opportunity by the young people, it has to do with a very disorganized development of human areas. So what we are proposing to work with a very integrated approach to combat crime. So at the same time we are going to improve the presence of our police patrolling the streets, we are going to work together with the judicial branch to implement the laws we already have, we are also going to invest in prevention with young people, and we are also going to invest in improving our cities so they can be better places for the people."

Chinchilla intends to develop a relationship with Belize during her term in office.

Laura Chinchilla

"I think that we should be a little bit closer to Belice. Belice is a country that we feel a little far from here. I don't k now if it is because of the language or if it is because Belice for sometime was not very involved in the Central American institution, but in the last years we see very Belice active in all of the meetings, in all of the summits. Belice has wonderful things we can learn from so I hope that Costa Rica and Belice will have a closer relationship, a more productive relationship in the next years."

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

Channel Five will bring you the live broadcast of the historical event on Saturday.

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