Obama to meet heads of state here in May visit

U. S. President Barack Obama will visit Costa Rica as part of a three-day, two-nation trip May 2 to 4, the White House said Wednesday.

Obama will meet with Latin American leaders in San José in an encounter arranged by President Laura Chinchilla and also visit Mexico during the trip, the White House said.

“This trip is an important opportunity to reinforce the deep cultural, familial, and economic ties that so many Americans share with Mexico and Central America,” a release said.

According to the 2010 census report, more than half of the growth in the total population of the United States between 2000 and 2010 was due to the increase in the Hispanic population. Approximately 50 million persons identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino.  They voted heavily for Obama in the last presidential election.

More than 50 percent of 50 million were persons of Mexican origins and 126,418 were Costa Rican, the census said.

In Mexico, Obama plans to discuss with President Enrique Peña Nieto opportunities for economic and commercial partnership as well as issues that the two countries share, said the White House.

In Costa Rica, the theme will be growth of the Central American economy and improved safety precautions in the nations.

“In Costa Rica, the president looks forward to the opportunity to meet with President Chinchilla as well as heads of state of the other Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, whom President Chinchilla has graciously offered to host,” said the release.  “The trip will be an important chance to discuss our collective efforts to promote economic growth and development in Central America and our ongoing collaboration on citizen security.”

The last United States president to visit Costa Rica was Bill Clinton in 1997. He came for the Central America presidential summit meeting. Just 50 years ago this month, then-president John F. Kennedy visited the country for a heads of state meeting.

Costa Rica hopes that the visit serves to reaffirm the bonds of friendship and cooperation with this nation and its government as well as to review the most important aspects of the regional agenda of the United States, said the foreign ministry.

The foreign ministry said that nations that are members of the Sistema de Integración Centroamericana were told of the meeting last week and invited to attend.

Obama faces a difficult effort in an attempt to update the U.S. laws regarding illegal immigrants. There are about 11 million illegals in the United States now, and the Obama administration is trying to find a way to put these individuals on a path to legal residency and eventually citizenship.

Drug smuggling is another major issue that involves Central American states.

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