Following an invitation from His Excellency Rafael Ortiz Fábrega, the Ambassador of Costa Rica to the United Kingdom, Marc Laine, the founder of Guernsey-based international environmental company ESI Monitor, attended the unveiling of a special plaque in London.
The plaque commemorates the 200 years since Guernsey man William Le Lacheur first brought Costa Rican Coffee to Europe, landing at St Catherine’s Dock. His Excellency, Armando Vargas Araya, The Costa Rican Ambassador to Australia, made the key address.
His Excellency recounted how, at age 11, his father had first captivated his imagination by telling him about how this Guernsey man had transformed Costa Rica and is credited with its status as a democratic coffee republic and modern society today. His excellency explained that the flag of Costa Rica features the ships built in Guernsey, operated by Le Lacheur, and crewed by Guernsey men.
His excellency expressed that he felt that Costa Rica was an unofficial member of the British commonwealth for many years. Bilateral trade, the introduction of the bible in Spanish, and the opportunity for young Costa Ricans to study in the UK, sponsored by Le Lacheur, shaped the country. The fortunes of Costa Rica and the UK were intertwined, with economic ups and downs in one reflected in the other. His Excellency explained that just as Australia is in Asia, but not Asian, he considered Costa Rica was in South America, but not South American.
Every Costa Rican knows about William Le Lacheur, as he is a national hero in the country. The unveiling of the plaque pays tribute to this Guernsey man with a powerful and enduring legacy, and is the start of a mission to highlight the historical significance of the links between the UK and Costa Rica.
Marc Laine and His Excellency, Ambassador Fábrega, first met when Ambassador Fábrega visited Guernsey in 2019. Marc and His Excellency have remained in contact through a shared interest in climate change, Le Lacheur, and establishing closer ties between Guernsey and Costa Rica. Marc said “My reasons for being here are manyfold. It is great to pay tribute to Guernsey man William Le Lacheur, the hero of Costa Rica. Also, we wish to support the efforts Costa Rica is making to tackle climate change, forge closer links between the two nations, and look for ways to better remember Le Lacheur in Guernsey”.
Guernsey Deputy Jonathan Le Tocq was also in attendance. After the plaque unveiling and a coffee dinner, Ambassador Fábrega, UK Coffee importers, Deputy Le Tocq, and Marc Laine committed to further exploring ways to collaborate commercially and culturally, utilising the shared heritage and goodwill that is unique between Guernsey and Costa Rica.
Commercial and cultural opportunities to collaborate and develop strong relations between Guernsey and Costa Rica are plentiful. In Costa Rica, we have a nation that holds Guernsey in high estimation due to William Le Lacheur. Marc Laine said that he would be happy to introduce local businesses wishing to explore opportunities in Costa Rica to the relevant agencies.