Meeting with the Costa Rican Ambassador in the UK

Notes by Mike King and Jhon Munoz of the Wycombe for Fairtrade Steering Committee.

We had the great opportunity yesterday to meet the Costa Rican Ambassador in the United Kingdom, HE Mr Rafael Ortiz Fabrega. We discussed our common interest in Fairtrade, other social issues and also environmental challenges, which Costa Rica is a world leader for its policies and accomplishments. It was also a great privilege to show him our current link and work we have developed with the Fairtrade town of Grecia in Costa Rica and the producer group CoopeVictoria R.L. , which the ambassador expressed his interest in support it.

It was an absolutely incredible day in London at the Costa Rican Embassy. We arrived early and were seen straight away. The meeting lasted an amazing 3 hours!

Senor Raphael Fabrega was highly supportive, offering to come to Wycombe to present the Fairtrade Foundation Town Renewal certificate on any of the days we had suggested. He gave us a potted history of Costa Rica, took detailed notes of what Wycombe Fairtrade had achieved over the last two years especially, gave us some political insights in how to spread the Fairtrade word and the future possible linking to other South American towns, and even offered to arrange a visit to Wycombe by the Costa Rican President when he is over in the UK in November 2020 when attending the Climate Change conference in Glasgow!!

He took copies of the meeting minutes during Maria Angela’s visit to Wycombe in October 2019 that we had documented, as well as the joint powerpoint presentation we had delivered with Maria from CoopeVictoria at the Cardiff Fairtrade Towns International Conference which we showed him and he saved to his memory stick. He also took our phone numbers. He was a lovely man, and an astute politician with some amazing ideas and suggestions. He said that the work we had done and were doing was “incredible”.

The Ambassador was also keen for us to promote this Fairtrade North – South Towns model to other Fairtrade Groups in the UK, especially those in Northern UK towns with recent Tory MPs as a means of leverage. The percentage of UK – South American trade only accounts for 2% of the total UK world trade, so there is huge potential scope to increase this two-way trade. 

The Ambassador will be a great and very keen supporter for our cause with a vast amount of contacts and influence. He was also glad to hear that Sheena and I were learning Spanish and would be visiting Costa Rica next year.

His vision and knowledge were vast. The opportunities he listed were immense and the overall message was that what we could still achieve was only limited by our vision. He even said that if we encountered any problems or needed advice to get things implemented, that we only have to contact him.

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