Haiti, Costa Rica and Militarization

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Haiti, Costa Rica and Militarization

WASHINGTON - ROBERTO ZAMORA
In Washington, D.C. and New York City until Jan. 27, Zamora is a Costa Rican attorney who successfully fought for the adoption of peace as a human right in the Costa Rican constitution. He said today: "The persistence of militarization stands in the way of much of what needs to happen. We see this now in Haiti, where local groups are saying that the military deployment is hindering relief efforts."

While in Washington, Zamora will be meeting with members of the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States regarding his petition challenging the constitutionality of the "free trade" agreement, CAFTA. He said today: "Now, there's the danger of Costa Rica becoming a technological sweatshop for the development of weapons because of their inclusion of war machinery items in the trade agreement with the U.S. (CAFTA). In 2008 I successfully stopped President Arias' first attempt to allow the production of weapons in Costa Rica, but as of 2009 the Central America Free Trade Agreement allows the production and exportation of weapons in Costa Rica to the United States. How could two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates [Arias and Obama] promote a trade agreement that includes war machinery?"

He added: "Costa Rica was the only country that signed CAFTA that added war machinery as acceptable items to be exported to the United States. This violates the constitution of Costa Rica and the newly recognized right to peace that many of us worked hard to achieve."

Zamora's legal work in Costa Rica has also been credited with obliging Costa Rica to withdraw from the "coalition of the willing" that supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Then in 2008 he won a legal challenge that made Costa Rica the first nation to write into law "peace as a human right" and nullified sections of the "Arms Decree" of President Arias because the importation and manufacture of weapons violate the right to peace and a healthy environment. In September 2009, Zamora was the keynote speaker at the UN DPI/NGO Conference on Disarmament.

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