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Costa Rica: President Arias Asks Dalai Lama to Postpone Visit

Dalai Lama, Oscar Arias, Hu Jintao

Having to choose between two friends and which one to invite to a party is something awkward. This is what the Costa Rican president and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Oscar Arias Sánchez had to do recently. He asked the Dalai Lama to postpone his scheduled visit until next year, even when his visit was private in nature. Coincidentally, a month after the planned visit, the Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to arrive on an official visit. Many were upset at the news, such as Milagro Rodríguez, Vice-President of the Tibetan-CostaRican Cultural Association, who expressed her sadness [es].

Julia Ardón [es] writes in her blog about the possible reasons for the request:

La Asociación Tibetana de Costa Rica por supuesto salta y explica lo que entiende como un desaire de claro cálculo político, ya que por esos días tendrá visita oficial el Presidente de China y se podría molestar o peor aún: decidir no venir. ( Y eso no le conviene al gobierno! No ve que los chinos nos están dando mucha plata?!)

The Tibetan Association of Costa Rica jumps up and explains it as a clear political calculation, because around those dates the President of China would be arriving on an official visit and he might be upset or even worse: decide not to come. (That would not be convenient for the government! Don't you see that the Chinese are giving a lot of money?!)

The Dalai Lama's visit was scheduled for September 10, however, based on Arias’ formal request the visit was cancelled. President Arias stated that he would not be in the country. Instead it did not appear to be a coincidence, especially with the planned visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao, especially in light of the support given to the country. Costa Rica has drawn closer to the Chinese government in recent years. In June 8, 2007, Costa Rica broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan [es] and started formal relations with China. Later, Arias was received by China with full honors [es] provided to friendly countries.

La Suiza Centroamericana [es] is displeased about Arias lack of outspokeness regarding human rights abuses in China.

Lo que si nos sorprende, y nos causa tremendo disgusto, es que nuestro gobierno de turno, presidido por otro Premio Nobel de la Paz, haya guardado un silencio absoluto y sepulcral ante las atrocidades cometidas por su nuevo amiguito oriental.

What did surprise us and caused us a great amount of disgust, is that our government, presided by another Nobel Peace Prize Winner, remained absolute silence regarding the atrocities committed by our new Asian friend.

Many come to the conclusion that the presidents and developing nations must make risky political calculations and not everyone will look at it in the same way, in terms of what is most convenient for Costa Rica and what is the best for the majority. Being president and making decisions must not be easy, and even when one must say to a friend, for now it is best not to come to my house.

Thumbnail photo by Ferne Miller

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