Visits by U.S. boats again fails to pass in legislature

For awhile Friday, security officials thought that lawmakers had approved the entry of some 17 U.S. ships to Costa Rican ports. This has been a month-long effort for the administration.

Friday the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública sent out an announcement that the shore leave for these U.S. warships had been approved. But that was an error.

A short time later, the ministry sent out a correction and said that officials there had been incorrectly informed about what happened in the legislature Friday. Aides at the legislature thought that the approval for docking and shore leave had been approved. But what really happened is that lawmakers voted to consider the measure without the formal reading of the lengthy document. They never actually voted on the measure itself.

Then when time came to discuss the measure, Claudio Enrique Monge Pereira of the Partido Acción Ciudadana began a lengthy address. Eventually enough lawmakers left the room so that there no longer was a quorum.

When a quorum was reestablished, lawmakers moved on to another theme.

Monge prevented consideration of the measure earlier in the month. The boats are on patrol in both the Pacific and Caribbean trying to capture drug smugglers.

Meanwhile, the request from the security ministry to lawmakers revealed that the United States is expected to buy an estimated $2.9 million in fuel and pay port fees of some $384,673 for the 17 ships. In addition, the crews are estimated to spend $702,6563 in hotels, food and drinks during their shore leaves. The fuel will come from the state-owned Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo.

The visits by individual ships is scheduled to last until May 22 with each vessel docking from one to three days. Eight of the visits are expected to be in Golfito and nine in Limón. All are staffed by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as U.S. Navy personnel.

The Costa Rican constitution prohibits the arrival of foreign warships without legislative approval.

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