Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Costa Rica unsuccessfully tries to solve impasse with Venezuela

(El Universal) - Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Stagno over the weekend made unsuccessful attempts at meeting with Venezuela's Vice-Minister of Basic Industries and Mining Jesus Paredes to clarify the situation of the aluminum processing plant Alunasa which Venezuela owns in Costa Rica.

"Unfortunately nothing could be done," Stagno said on Monday on his attempts at meeting with Paredes.

Paredes arrived in Costa Rica over the weekend precisely to address issues related to the Venezuelan state-owned aluminum plant CVG Alunasa S.A., which operated in Esparza, 100 kilometers west San Jose, and which employs 400 workers.

According to different sources, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez intends to close the plant because he is mad at his Costa Rican counterpart Oscar Arias (pictured), who last February 1st harshly criticized the Venezuelan ruler.

Meanwhile, Costa Rican Minister of the Presidency, Rodrigo Arias Monday was scheduled to meet with Alunasa representatives who have voiced concern about the likely shutdown of the plant.

Late on February 16th, President Arias hoped Chavez did not close the site. "We hope the fears of workers do not come true, as it would be regrettable to deprive some 400 workers and their families (they add up to some 2,400 people) from their living," Arias said in a brief statement.

Arias also said he is willing to Chavez if it helps avoid closure and transfer of Venezuela-owned aluminum plant Alunasa, which would result in 400 workers losing their jobs.

"We are making every possible effort to avoid transfer of this company by the Venezuelan Government to Nicaragua or Panama. The (Costa Rican) Foreign Minister is talking to his Venezuelan counterpart. If possible, I am talking to President Chávez," Arias told AFP.

According to Arias, equipment and machinery in Alunasa plant are hard to transport to far sites, and such a move could cost some $25 million.

If the Venezuelan government is hoping that Oscar Arias will in any way retract the comments made about Chavez they can go ahead and close the plant. Oscar Arias will never say he is sorry about those comments and will not yield publicly to a South American megalomaniac dictator.

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