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Costa Rica Background

Costa Rica has long been viewed as a model for establishment of democratic institutions in Latin America. The country has enjoyed decades of peaceful and steady institutional and economic development free of much of the turbulence that has marked this period in many other Latin American countries. Costa Rica’s present Constitution dates to 1949 and has provided a framework for the development and implementation of many of the laws and regulations essential to good governance.

Yet despite this comparatively positive picture, governance problems remain and public corruption is perceived to be a growing concern. Increasingly, Costa Ricans believe that corruption is present in both the public and private sectors and is more than a haphazard or isolated practice. At present, however, at least some elements of the government, especially the judicial structure, continue to be viewed as capable of responding to the problem.

In this context, the United States Government (USG) contracted the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative’s Latin America and Caribbean Division to undertake a targeted assessment of components of the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security and the Treasury Ministry to determine the institutional capacity to establish and implement programs designed to confront internal institutional corruption.