Sala IV Studies Legality Of Approval Of U.S. Warships and Soldiers To Enter Costa Rica

Inside Costa Rica

The magistrates of the Sala Constitucional (Constitutional Court) agreed to study if legislators contradicted the Constitución Política (Constitution) in authorizing the entry to Costa Rica of U.S. military ships and personnel.

The Sala IV (Constititutional Court) action follows the filing of an appeal by legislators of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC) who voted against the approval of July 1, which authorization was granted by a majority vote of legislators of the Liberación and Liberatio parties.

The acceptance by the Sala IV magistrates means that they will look into the legality of the Legislative action in approving the admittance of 46 warships, 200 helicopters and 7.000 marines of the United States Navy, which will be carrying out joint patrols with Costa Rica authorities, against drug traffickers.

Legislators of the PUSC argue in their filing that the legislature should have allowed separate discussion for each war ship, citing article 121, paragraph 5 of the Constitution as their basis for the appeal.

The Sala IV said that it has agreed to the study but it would not be suspending the approval.

Both the president of the legislature, Luis Gerardo Villanueva and the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, are interpret that the authorization will continue, although official reports indicate that none of the soldiers or ships have entered Costa Rica.

Normally, when the Sala IV accepts an appeal, in the case the authorization, would be suspended until the court resolves the matter.

USS Iow Jima The First To Arrive
While the Constitutional Court studies the matter, the United States is preparing to move ahead on schedule with the first warship and personnel to arrive in Limón on August 20.

According to the U.S. Navy, the USS Iow Jima will be the first to enter Costa Rican waters. The ship has a crew of 73 officers and 1009 enlisted, in addition to 500 marines, 150 medics, 50 engineers and 100 volunteers.

The mission is to provide support to the Limón hospital, providing services to at least 1.000 outpatients daily and mobile medical services to at least 250 people daily in Bribri and Siquirres.

Meanwhile the marines will be holding at least 100 land operations, though, according to the U.S. Embassy in San José, the marines will not be armed, as the mission of the marines is to provide training to Costa Rican police and first aid in the remote areas of the region.

The USS Iow Jima also carries six H-46 helicopters and supplies. The Embassy said that there will be no Harrier fighter jets on board.

For now there is no plans yet for the arrival of other authorized vessels.


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