U.S. Ends Panama’s World Cup Run and Saves Mexico

October 16, 2013

Photo by Flickr user Abdallahh

The New York Times, 10/16/2013

It was the perfect end to a bizarre day of World Cup qualifying: the United States saved Mexico.

The longtime rivals rarely do anything to help the other out, but on Tuesday there was no mistaking what took place. Mexico, which has struggled throughout the Concacaf qualifying tournament, was just minutes away from losing to Costa Rica, 2-1, and failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1982. El Tri’s only hope was that the United States, which was losing to Panama at the time, would somehow rally for at least a tie.

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A Nightmare World Cup Qualifying Scenario Could Cost Mexico $600 Million

October 15, 2013

Soccer StadiumBusiness Insider, 10/15/2013

Mexico plays the final match of its disastrous 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign Tuesday night in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has already qualified, so Mexico is the big favorite to win and advance to a World Cup playoff against New Zealand.

But there’s an unlikely (though possible) nightmare scenario — where Costa Rica wins, Panama blows out the U.S., and Mexico fails to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 23 years. This scenario would be devastating for the once-promising team and its rabid fans. It would also be a huge hit to the Mexican soccer industry.

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Mexico can make it easy: beat Costa Rica to keep World Cup hopes alive

October 15, 2013

Photo by Flickr user Abdallahh

The Los Angeles Times, 10/14/2013

Win and they’re in. Anything else and … well, it’s complicated.

Heading into Tuesday’s final match day of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament for next summer’s World Cup, Mexico faces a series of possible outcomes that could either send it on to Brazil or send it home until qualifying begins for the 2018 tournament.

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Neighbors in Arms: How US guns are turning Central America into one of the most dangerous places in the world

May 6, 2013

Photo by Flikr user brian.chForeign Policy, 5/3/2013

When President Barack Obama meets with various Central American leaders in Costa Rica this weekend, he will likely face criticism of U.S. domestic firearm laws. Like Mexico, where he met with President Enrique Peña Nieto on May 2, Central American countries have increasingly raised concerns about U.S. firearms trafficking. They have good reason to do so: more and more arms that originated in the United States are being used in violent crimes across the region. And given the recent death of background check legislation in the U.S. Senate, Obama may find it difficult to reassure his critics that the United States is effectively tackling the problem at home.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on U.S. firearms trafficking and an analysis of related U.S. prosecutions, thousands of U.S.-origin firearms (firearms that were either manufactured or imported into the United States) are finding their way to criminals in Central America in the last few years. The flow of U.S. weapons is heaviest to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — all among the top 10 most violent countries in the world.

According to a new Woodrow Wilson Center report focusing on Guatemala, ATF discovered that 2,687 (or 40 percent) of the 6,000 seized firearms it analyzed from just one Guatemalan military bunker in 2009 originated in the United States. In the past five years, there have also been at least 34 U.S. prosecutions related to American firearms trafficking to Guatemala involving a total of 604 U.S.-origin firearms.

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Obama plans to visit Mexico and Costa Rica

March 28, 2013

Barack ObamaLos Angeles Times, 3/27/13

President Obama is scheduled to travel to Mexico and Costa Rica in early May to push for stronger economic ties, the White House announced Wednesday.In trip scheduled for May 2-4, Obama will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who was elected last year and took office in December. He last met with Obama at the White House in November.

From there, Obama will head to Costa Rica, where President Laura Chinchilla will host a meeting of several Central American leaders. The White House did not release a list of the participating countries or a detailed description of the agenda. The visit will come as Congress is expected to begin debate on immigration legislation. Obama said he hoped the visit would strengthen cooperation on a variety of issues.

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Costa Rica: Narco-families emerge as traffickers [in Spanish]

September 25, 2012

Infosurhoy, 9/21/12

Out of the 619 groups distributing drugs in Costa Rica 27.5% of them are made up of families in which all generations distribute drugs.

According to Eric L. Olson, Assistant Director of the Mexico Institutue at the Woodrow Wilson Center, this is similar to what happened in Mexico, for example with the Arellano-Felix and Beltran-Leyva Organizations.  Olson says that he thinks that this is because people are loyal to family and trust them.

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Costa Rica’s Peaceful Reputation At Risk From Cartels

December 21, 2011

NPR, 12/21/11

Costa Rica is Central America’s most stable democracy, a peaceful country that abolished its army in 1948 and now draws nearly a million U.S. tourists a year to its national parks and beaches. But it’s also right in the middle of the world’s most lucrative cocaine trafficking corridor.

As Mexican drug cartels push deeper into Central America, they’ve cast a dark shadow over Costa Rica’s idyllic green image.

Jim Damalas runs a tourist resort that taps into the green reputation. One of 60,000 or so U.S. expatriates living in Costa Rica, Damalas left a career in the Los Angeles advertising business to build an award-winning hotel outside the tiny town of Quepos, with sweeping views of the Pacific and its own rainforest preserve.

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