Interview with Dr. Arnoldo André Tinoco
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica.
Doctor of Law, University of Hamburg, Germany. Former President of the Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce (2010-2013) and International Arbitrator for the Free Trade Agreement between the Republic of Costa Rica and the Republic of Chile (2007). He was also Professor of International Law at the University of Costa Rica (1984-1994).
Caroina Rodriguez Herandez: What was your childhood like and how did it influence your current professional career?
Arnoldo André Tinoco: I had a wonderful childhood, good memories (sigh). I have three brothers. I grew up in the middle of a coffee plantation in Tres Ríos (between San Jose and Cartago) and I accompanied my father to work on the farm.
I was enrolled in Humboldt School starting in and, which in those years was located in Moravia. I graduated from Humboldt. Early on, from when I was 9 years old, I participated in the student government, presiding over it when during my senior year. From that position, together with other school representatives, we founded the San Jose Student Union, and promoted common causes for the benefit of students. I liked sharing experiences with other schools. Later, upon entering the University of Costa Rica, I was a member of the UCR Student Federation FEUCR, representing general studies.
CRH : Tell us about your experience in Germany, Switzerland, Norway, and Austria. What should Costa Ricans learn from these countries, and what should they learn from Costa Rica?
AA : With Germany I have a cultural heritage of partial ancestry, through my parents, both of my grandmothers were German. Also, the influence of the Humboldt School and my stay in Hamburg, where I was between 1984 and 1988 and obtained a Doctorate in Law at the University there. With Switzerland, I have been united by the language and my doctoral academic work, on the active, permanent and demilitarized neutrality of Costa Rica, under the Charter of the United Nations. And also Austria, in the same way. As for Norway, for 25 years I have served as their Honorary Consul General in Costa Rica, until having to
resign to take up my current position as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
From those countries we must learn the value of words, honesty, work discipline and punctuality, and also the spirit of teamwork for a common goal.
From Costa Rica they can learn patience and tolerance, very broad, in human relations and in the provision of services, and in the balance of life, in the joy of the day and in the family union, of a large family, that in many families still exists.
CRH : Is there a universal and/or Costa Rican diplomat, philosopher or writer who has motivated you throughout your professional career?
AA: Well, I have admired many illustrious Costa Ricans in their professional and political careers, such as Don Rodrigo Facio and Don Rodrigo Madrigal Nieto, both also former lawyers and former foreign ministers. Classical philosophy has always been of interest, keeping in mind Socrates, Platon and Aristotle. And more recently, various works by Stephen Covey have impressed me well.
Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; is the universal motto of values in France.
CRH : What is the evolution of these words in international news today?
AA: Much remains to be achieved for humanity. They are all current and for which we must fight daily, to achieve a just and equitable society for all.
CRH : What are your current expectations as Chancellor of the Republic?
AA: To guide the country’s foreign policy for the benefit of the population, reinforce its core azimuths, with an emphasis on “blue” diplomacy. In 2024 and 2025, together with France, we will co-host the United Nations Conference on the Ocean, and we want to launch, together with the international community, the Declaration of Peace for the Ocean.
CRH: Would you be willing to promote a conference in Costa Rica to reach a peace agreement in Ukraine, that is, for our country to be a mediator in some way?
AA: Due to the distance and size of our country, the viability of a Costa Rican mediation is unlikely, which does not mean that we won’t maintain our active interest in a peaceful solution to the conflict. We will make significant efforts through multilateral organizations, to promote a ceasefire in Ukraine, and peace.
CRH : How should we Costa Ricans help refugees in general, but in particular, our Venezuelan brothers?
AA: Costa Rica has traditionally been a country of refuge for those persecuted for various reasons, be they religious, political, for belonging to a certain social group, etc. And it will continue to be so, our population is very hospitable. We believe in a safe, orderly and regulated migration. Now we face the challenge of facilitating the passage of migrants who are marching north, as well as integrating those who qualify as refugees, obtaining adequate jobs for them.
CRH: Do you believe that we live in a decadent society, with the fear of economic collapse, food shortages, media propaganda, technological surveillance?
AA: I don’t believe it. I am optimistic and I believe in the renewal of the human being, and social structures. An example of this is Asia and Europe, ancient cultures that manage to renew themselves.
What we see are cycles, ups and downs, in generational and cultural transitions. We are now experiencing a strong transition towards the 4.0 revolution and the determined appearance of artificial intelligence, which human beings must learn to manage.
CRH: How should we understand Jean-Jacques Rousseau´s “Social Contract “today ?
AA: If the democratic system fails to meet the basic needs of individuals and society, the Social Contract would have failed. It is imperative that populations can meet their needs and flourish in freedom and harmony, under few but clear rules.
CRH : Do you believe that freedom is currently under threat?
AA: To a certain extent, given that activities are increasingly regulated. We must be careful with the overregulation of activities in society.
CRH: What is the Costa Rican position regarding recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Are you considering moving the Costa Rican embassy to Jerusalem in the future?
AA: Costa Rica had its embassy in Jerusalem and then, following United Nations resolutions, has moved it to Tel Aviv years ago. A change has not been considered.
CRH : What bilateral relations (not existing until now) are intended to be established during the administration of Rodrigo Chaves?
AA: We will expand the concurrent embassies in Asia and Europe, we will perhaps establish a new embassy in the Arab world, and we will designate resident ambassadors in the capital for other countries, in order to be able to efficiently manage our budget.
CRH : What is your current perception of foreign policy in Latin America?
AA: We have an ideological shift in some large countries like Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Others have problems with the democratic system such as Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. And others focused on their democratic systems and development, such as those who form the Alliance for Development in Democracy, namely Costa Rica, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador.
CRH: What is Costa Rica’s current proposal to maintain peace and prosperity in the Central American region?
AA: Dialogue and cooperation are the recipes for good relations and cooperation between us. And for prosperity the attraction of investments in all fields of economic activity.
CRH: What are you most passionate about diplomacy?
AA: The challenges of persuasion with the representatives of the nations on the most difficult issues to achieve the objectives set.
CRH: What is Costa Rica’s message to the world regarding foreign policy?
AA: We desire international peace and security, the protection of the democratic system and human rights, as well as the protection of the environment and the health of mankind.
CRH: What is your hope for the future of humanity?
AA: As we said, to achieve the satisfaction of the fundamental needs of all human beings so that there is no hunger and or despair anywhere on earth.
CRH: What does Costa Rica represent for you in the 21st century?
AA: The opportunity to achieve full national development and provide its population with all world-class public services.
CRH: Finally, what is next in the life of Dr. Arnoldo André and how would he like to be remembered as chancellor?
AA: For now, I will professionally and responsibly carry out my duties as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, making my contribution to strengthening the Ministry that I represent, for the benefit of the Costa Rican population. And to be remembered for having fulfilled that mission entrusted to me, and having contributed to the training of first-rate public servants.