“We cannot separate democracy and institutional structure from social inversion and cooperation. They are part of the same reality,” said Vice President of Costa Rica Epsy Campbell Barr during this week's virtual 6th Annual Hemispheric Security Conference (HSC).
Campbell Barr discussed various political and security challenges in Central America and the Caribbean on Tuesday, May 18, with Luis Guillermo Solis, former president of Costa Rica and interim director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center.
Of the challenges discussed, a major topic was migration. Campbell Barr highlighted the growing issue of migrants coming to Costa Rica and Panama, countries more accessible to South American migrants than the United States. The growing migrant population from Nicaragua and Venezuela makes important contributions to the economies of both countries but also demands expenses not readily available in times of fiscal constraint, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In our region, poverty, insecurity and lack of economic opportunity expel people, forcing them to leave. Building barriers is not going to stop migrations because migrants will find a way to improve their lives. Multilateral organizations should be more involved in dealing with this phenomenon," she said.
Solis was in agreement. “Migrant women [need] policies to address their specific needs, for the discrimination and violence against them is pervasive,” he added.
When discussing drugs and crime in the region, Campbell Barr said there was a correlation between drugs and human trafficking, and added that it imposes a heavy toll, particularly on women.
“We think of how to combat and put an end to these [drug] networks, yet we forget how many women, boys and girls are victims [of human trafficking]. Many times, without the possibility of surviving,” she said. “This issue needs to be discussed more in the international and public agendas.”
In closing, the vice president highlighted that democracy remains the best—if an imperfect—political system at hand. In this regard, more civic participation is necessary to yield results that make positive and tangible improvements in the quality of life of the region’s population.
“The constitutions of our countries shouldn't be promises for our citizens. They should be realities,” she concluded.