Colombian naval vessel finally given OK to dock

U.S. Coast Guard photo The USCG ‘Durable’ when it was under U.S. flag

Not only U.S. warships are non gratae among some members of the legislature. A proposal that a Colombian craft dock at Caldera and Golfito ruffled some feathers Monday.

Lawmakers finally approved the visit with 38 votes, but members of the Partido Acción Ciudadana issued an objection.

The craft is the “Valle de Cauca” of the Armada de la República de Colombia. There are 109 crew members. The Costa Rican constitution requires legislative approval for the docking of foreign warships. The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública sought the approval because the patrol boat crew members are scheduled to provide training to police and members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas.

The boat is supposed to visit from the end of this week until July 4, said lawmakers.

The ministry has a hard time getting approval for U.S. Navy boats to tie up in Costa Rican ports. That has been the case even when the boats are carrying cocaine evidence vital to a criminal prosecution of smugglers.

Claudio Monge Pereira, the deputy legislative leader of the Partido Acción Ciudadana, issued a press release after the vote saying that his party supports the fight against drug trafficking but that it also has respect for the civilian traditions of the country. Acción Ciudadana has been in the forefront of efforts to keep U.S. Navy boats out of Costa Rican ports.

Monge also said that it was not convenient for police here to undergo training by members of foreign military. He noted that the original request came in March. He said that the party members would approve the arrival of coast guard vessels or those sailing under a civilian flag.

Ironically, the cutter is a former U.S. Coast Guard boat called the “Durable” that was given to Colombia in 2003.

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