Despite mayor’s request, air bridge is controversial

First there was a mysterious black helicopter in the high Talamancas.

Now the mayor of the Municipalidad de Talamanca,  Melvín Cordero Cordero, is trying to invite the U.S. military to establish an air bridge to provide needed services to isolated communities.

The mayor sent a letter to President Laura Chinchilla Aug. 22 suggesting this, and opponents of the idea released the text Monday.

Opposing the plan is the Asociación Comunidades Ecologistas la Ceiba – Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica, which said that the agricultural workers and native peoples in the area do not want the U.S. Southern Command in the territory.

Cordero pointed out that there were many isolated communities that are as much as a six-day hike by trail to medical and educational services. He suggested that the military could fly in health and other workers.

His plan is for a periodic flight to these communities in Alto Telire. Helicopters would be the best type of vehicle because of the terrain.

Amigos de la Tierra quoted BriBri residents and others saying that the military presence was not necessary. Clearly the locals are suspicious of military visits, perhaps in part because marijuana growing is a major source of income in the remote areas. They also may be a little nervous about helicopters.

There still is no firm explanation why an unmarked black helicopter landed in the community of Alto Cuén, which is populated by BriBri also in the Cantón de Talamanca. That happened June 30. After first saying they were missionaries and distributing Bibles, the visitors dismissed the locals’ requests that they pray and, instead, adopted military attitudes.

They were making topographical measurements with various sophisticated instruments, the story goes.

They left after five days, and the locals are afraid some corporation is seeking to extract raw materials from the region. Amigos de la Tierra also was the source for the information on the black helicopter.

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