SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Wrapping up a trip to Central America on Saturday, President Barack Obama sought to put the focus firmly back on his top priority: the economy.
Obama said Saturday that he knows that people in Costa Rica and at home believe that security and immigration are the most important issues between the two regions but that a host of others – early childhood education, clean energy, trade and opportunities for girls and women – can help create jobs in all of the Americas.
“We shouldn’t lose sight of the critical importance of trade and commerce and business to the prospects both for Costa Rica, the United States and the entire hemisphere,” Obama said.
Obama and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla answered questions at a forum attended by more than 200 business and community leaders. Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina and Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal also attended.
Obama’s three-day trip, which started in Mexico, ended at San Jose’s Old Customs House, a large brick warehouse with massive stained glass windows. Spectators gathered outside, snapping photos and waving signs. “Proud to have you Mr. Obama,” read one.
Seated on a stage with Chinchilla, Obama joked that his first trip to the tiny Central American nation known for its rain forests was so enjoyable that he would return soon. “I’ve already been scouting out where I’m going to stay when I come back here for vacation,” he said.