Costa Rica agrees to relax restrictions on Central American transportation

Costa Rica announced this Thursday that it will ease the restrictive measures for Central American cargo carriers in search of ending a paralysis on its borders caused by the sanitary measures it imposed to prevent contagion from the coronavirus.

The Minister of Foreign Trade, Dyalá Jiménez, reported that her country proposed at a meeting of the Council of Ministers for Economic Integration of Central America (Comieco), which was joined by the ministers of Health, "to add greater flexibility to the measures in force" .

The minister said in an audio sent to the media that it is a proposal that emerged from the transportation sector in Costa Rica endorsed by the Government, which will be consulted by the Central American governments and their respective private sectors.

The flexibility consists in allowing foreign carriers to dispatch cargo in bulk, in refrigeration or dangerous products directly to their clients, and that all can lift cargo in fiscal warehouses defined by Costa Rica with a period of stay in the country greater than 72 hours. that were stipulated.

The minister also announced a regional agreement to apply a biosecurity protocol at borders and border posts that will come into force in 10 days, which had been a requirement of Costa Rica to relax its restrictions.

"We are very happy to have achieved a consensus decision in the region to implement security measures against the pandemic," he said without giving details of that protocol.

Costa Rica's border with Nicaragua is blocked by Nicaraguan carriers who protest against the sanitary measures imposed as of May 18 and which restrict the entry of foreign drivers.

The Costa Rican government has also said that the border posts were closed by the government of Daniel Ortega in protest.

On both sides of the border there are kilometer-long lines of trucks.

After 9 days of protest, last Tuesday Panamanian carriers unblocked Paso Canoas, the main border post with Costa Rica, after the Panamanian Government applied reciprocal measures to Costa Rican carriers.

On May 18, two decrees of the Costa Rican Government entered into force that only allow the entry of foreign carriers who do not deliver cargo in Costa Rica, but cross the country from Panama to Nicaragua or vice versa. This journey must be done in caravans with a police escort.

Foreigners heading to deliver cargo to Costa Rica must unhook the cargo at borders and deliver it to Costa Rican trucks or a resident's.

These measures generated annoyance from the governments of the region and the private sector, including the Costa Rican, and were adopted after Costa Rica detected 50 cases of COVID-19 in foreign cargo carriers, most on the border with Nicaragua, a country internationally noted for not taking the necessary measures in the face of the pandemic.

Last week, Costa Rica agreed with Panama on a third option, which is a "safe sanitary route" that allows carriers to enter Costa Rica for 72 hours to deliver or lift cargo only in the fiscal warehouses defined by the Costa Rican authorities.

The Costa Rican government hopes that with the proposal to relax the restrictive measures and the regional health protocol, the commercial flow can be restored.


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