Costa Rica to Mend Fence with Cuba

by Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES, March 18 — Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced Wednesday that “times have changed” and that he would sign an executive order to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba, unilaterally broken off in 1961.

The only other two countries in the Americas without formal diplomatic relations with Cuba are El Salvador and the United States.

The move by Arias, and the expectation that Salvadoran president-elect Mauricio Funes will also reestablish ties with Cuba when he takes office this summer, adds more pressure on the Obama administration to change US-Cuba policy.

Costa Rica supported Cuba’s inclusion in the Rio Group last December and has voted at the UN to request the United States to end their nearly 50-year blockade of Cuba.

Bruno Stagno, the Central American nation’s foreign minister, said earlier in the week that the political climate in the hemisphere is propitious for a dialogue between the two governments.

Meanwhile, preparations continue for the America’s Summit to be held in Trinidad and Tobago on April 17-19. The forum will be Obama’s first meeting with Latin American leaders.

In the run-up to the summit, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez have encouraged Obama to make a break with the past and reestablish friendly and respectful relations with the rest of the continent, including Cuba.