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Viewing cable 05SANJOSE1753, PRO-CAFTA-DR COSTA RICAN OFFICIAL FIRED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05SANJOSE1753 2005-08-04 21:09 2011-03-03 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2697430.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2697496.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2697489.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2697532.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2697535.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2701964.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-03/Investigacion/Relacionados/Investigacion2701965.aspx
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SAN JOSE 001753 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
WHA/CEN 
EB FOR WCRAFT 
E FOR DEDWARDS 
WHA FOR WMIELE 
WHA/EPSC FOR KURS 
H FOR JHAGAN 
STATE PASS TO USTR FOR AMALITO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETRD ECPS ECON PREL PGOV SOCI CS
SUBJECT: PRO-CAFTA-DR COSTA RICAN OFFICIAL FIRED 
 
REF: (A) SAN JOSE 00058 
     (B) SAN JOSE 01294 
 
1. (U) Summary.  On August 3, 2005, "El Financiero" 
reported that Amparo Pacheco, Vice Minister of the Ministry 
of Foreign Trade (COMEX) was fired, effective August 2, 
2005, due to a lack of confidence from President Pacheco 
(no relation to the ex-Vice Minister) and COMEX Minister 
Manuel Gonzalez.  The contributing factor to her firing, 
reportedly, was her strong opinion that the Administration 
should send the United States-Central America-Dominican 
Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) to the Legislative 
Assembly as soon as possible, contrary to the President's 
position.  Her exit marks the end of her 18 years at COMEX 
and the departure of the last remaining member of the team 
that negotiated CAFTA-DR.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (U) Amparo Pacheco strongly advocated swift 
ratification of CAFTA-DR in various forums.  Her articles 
explaining the text of the agreement, clarifying 
misconceptions, and refuting opposition-supported 
misinformation appeared in major newspapers almost daily. 
She attended numerous events hosted by non-government think 
tanks in which she was an effective advocate for CAFTA-DR. 
She was an integral part of COMEX's initiative to educate 
Costa Ricans about the agreement.  As a government 
official, she clearly explained the advantages and 
challenges that CAFTA-DR would bring, as well as the need 
to implement an effective complementary agenda. 
 
3.  (U) Despite President Pacheco saying, in his weekly 
press conference on August 3, 2005, that Amparo resigned, 
Minister Gonzalez and Amparo herself confirmed to "La 
Nacion" that she was fired, primarily because of profound 
differences between her and the minister about how to 
proceed with CAFTA-DR.  Amparo stated that she believes 
Minister Gonzalez is not defending the agreement strongly 
enough.  An August 3, 2005, COMEX press release stated no 
details about the firing but mentioned who would be her 
replacement--Doris Osterlof Obregon--who served in COMEX 
under ex-President Oscar Arias, and was a consultant and 
principal advisor to the Chamber of Costa Rican Exporters 
(CADEXCO). 
 
4.  (U) Osterlof states that she supports CAFTA-DR but 
maintains that the decision of when to send it to the 
Assembly is that of the President.  She, among others, was 
a promoter of the initiative "The Third Republic," a 
proposed development strategy for the country.  This 
proposal included an in-depth dialogue with groups such as 
labor unions and other social groups of the country, some 
of whom are the strongest opponents of CAFTA-DR.  "This is 
a country of dialogue," she said "and that is one of the 
best qualities of being Costa Rican; this means that 
whatever the process, we sit down and speak of national 
development with thoughtful people with varying opinions." 
She closed by saying that her work is to support Minister 
Gonzalez.  (COMMENT: CAFTA-DR supporters have been 
surprised by CADEXCO's lack of participation in the debate. 
One senior CADEXCO official told Emboffs that their tepid 
support for CAFTA-DR was being rewarded by earning several 
CADEXCO members positions in COMEX that were vacated by 
officials who had "pushed CAFTA-DR too hard.") 
 
------------------------------- 
COMMENT - THE PURGE IS COMPLETE 
------------------------------- 
 
5.  (SBU)  Amparo's exit is the latest in a long list of 
departures from COMEX over the last year (Ref A).  Hers is 
notable because (1) it marks the exit of the last COMEX 
official who was involved in the CAFTA-DR negotiations, and 
(2) it was forced upon her, as opposed to the mostly 
voluntary departures of her previous colleagues.  The mass 
exodus started in September 2004, when then-COMEX Minister 
Alberto Trejos, along with other key members of his 
Ministry and the President's cabinet, resigned, in part, 
because of President Pacheco's conditional support of CAFTA- 
DR.  After Trejos's resignation, 7 of the 8 COMEX officials 
who negotiated CAFTA-DR also left, including the lead 
negotiator.  During the first 5 months of 2005, 18 of the 
top 30 officials at COMEX also departed.  This mass exodus 
left the organization much weaker in its public support of 
CAFTA-DR and with far less expertise in international trade 
issues. 
 
6.  (SBU)  Minister Gonzalez commenced his tenure as COMEX 
Minister shortly after Trejos's departure and immediately 
began expressing conditional support for CAFTA-DR (Ref B). 
Many CAFTA-DR supporters in Costa Rica do not see him as an 
ally.  He, reportedly, is not well liked or respected 
within the Ministry due to his uneven support for CAFTA-DR 
and a management style that stresses hierarchy over 
teamwork.  The Ministry was increasingly seen as being 
divided into two camps: those supporting Amparo's strong 
and clear support for CAFTA-DR, and those following 
Minister Gonzalez's lead. 
 
7.  (SBU) It was very clear to Econoff that the 
relationship between Pacheco and Gonzalez was a strained 
one.  There were several instances in which Gonzalez 
publicly questioned her authority and dismissed her 
comments.  The most recent airing of their division 
occurred during a critical point in the CAFTA-DR debate in 
the U.S. House of Representatives when Gonzalez publicly 
denied GOCR support to modify the rules of origin for 
pocket-lining materials, despite the fact that Amparo had 
signed a letter agreeing to the modification two weeks 
prior.  Amparo and others, including Costa Rican Ambassador 
to the U.S. Tomas Duenas, were able to convince Gonzalez to 
modify his statements and issue a letter supporting the 
changes the next day, but only after his public statements 
had done their damage. 
 
8.  (SBU) The naming of Pacheco's successor, Osterlof, 
appears to put in place someone with little trade 
experience who will follow in the Minister's footsteps and 
echo the President's tepid support for CAFTA-DR.  It is 
clear that President Pacheco will no longer tolerate any 
subordinates who challenge his go-slow plan regarding CAFTA- 
DR ratification.  NOTE: His reluctance to proceed is due to 
his fear of a general strike, street demonstrations, and 
unrest that have been threatened by labor union leaders if 
President Pacheco sends the agreement to the Assembly for 
debate and ratification. 
 
9.  (SBU) Opponents of CAFTA-DR undoubtedly see Amparo 
Pacheco's exit as a favorable development.  With her 
departure the only remaining consistent and effective 
defender of CAFTA-DR in the Pacheco Administration is 
Ambassador Duenas, and labor union leaders are demanding 
that he be fired next.  (Note: We doubt that President 
Pacheco would in fact fire Duenas as to do so, in the face 
of union demands, would make the President appear to be 
terribly weak.) 
KAPLAN