Country honors its overseas citizens with a special day

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, and the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones celebrated national day abroad Wednesday. The purpose is to recognize Costa Rican citizens who live outside the country.

Sindy Chaves, winner of the Jorge Manuel Dengo 2012 Award, and scientist and former U.S. astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz were special guests at the event.

The celebration corresponded with the commemoration of the historic battle against William Walker.  Soldier Juan Santamaría was seen as an iconic figure during this fight, and today is a national holiday in his honor.

Vice Chancellor Carlos Roverssi highlighted the achievements of Santamaría and connected the day to the fact that the country stands for both those who live inside and outside the country.

“Today we are very clear that Costa Rica is not only a host country for migrants, but also a country that has a strong representation of Costa Rican citizens living abroad,” he said.

According to the foreign ministry, Costa Rica has 52 consulates, and is working to improve foreign assistance.

“The Convención de Vienna sobre Relaciones Consulares provides a clear mandate for the states to protect the interests of their nationals abroad,” said Roverssi.

Immigration data shows that 250,000 Costa Ricans live in different parts of the world with a high concentration in the United States.

Around 56 percent of these persons, mainly those who have lived overseas for five or more years, send money to Costa Rica. In 2010, they sent $526 million. In contrast, foreigners here sent $227 million to their homelands, according to Banco Central.

“The contribution of this emigration reflects not only in the countries in which our fellow citizens reside, but also in our own national soil, making this an important support for many families in Costa Rica”, said Freddy Montero, interim immigration director.

With so many living abroad, concern was expressed over the tensions in Korea. Roverssi expressed a commitment to assist citizens in that region should anything happen following the government emergency protocol.

“We should already start thinking about a sort of solidarity fund for direct actions, and it is not possible for us to be so limited,” he said.

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