Ms. Chinchilla addresses crossing border without passport

President Laura Chinchilla proposed Sunday to eliminate the use of passports for Costa Ricans and Panamanians who travel back and forth across the southern border.

Ms. Chinchilla was speaking at a school in Paso Canoas at a ceremony receiving the torch from Panama for the next Juegos Deportivos Centroamericanos, the Central American olympics, in San José.

Ms. Chinchilla said the the elimination of passports would be in two stages. The first would be the creation or use of some sort of identification card for persons living along the border. The second would be extending this policy to all Costa Ricans. She said that the easing of border requirements would be a benefit to business and to tourism. She said she would like residents of Panama to visit Costa Rica, purchase Costa Rican products and enjoy Costa Rican tourism.

Panamá has a booming economy.

The change does not extend to expats who still will need passports to cross the border either way. She said she would seek an analysis of the border situation in order to put the idea into practice.

The concept has been mentioned previously in general terms, most recently during a meeting of Costa Rican and Panamanian officials. But this is the first time specifics were discussed.

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