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Viewing cable 06SANJOSE444, MORAL POWER:" ARIAS AND NATIONAL SECURITY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SANJOSE444 2006-02-24 21:09 2011-03-08 16:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2702320.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0444/01 0552113
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 242113Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4367
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM J1 MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 000444 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2016 
TAGS: PINS PREL MASS SNAR SMIG SOCI PBTS NI CS
SUBJECT: "MORAL POWER:"  ARIAS AND NATIONAL SECURITY 
 
REF: A. SAN JOSE 204 
 
     B. SAN JOSE 88 
     C. 05 SAN JOSE 2909 
     D. 05 SAN JOSE 2265 
 
Classified By: DCM Russell Frisbie for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
Summary 
-------- 
1.  (C) National security in an Oscar Arias administration 
will be pursued at three levels:  (1) Internationally, Arias 
will use his prestige as a Nobel laureate to be an advocate 
for multilateralism, international law, and disarmament.  (2) 
At home the principal external security issues will be 
protection of Costa Rica's maritime zone, including from use 
by drug traffickers, and resolution of border and immigration 
problems with Nicaragua.  (3) Internally, Arias will focus on 
crime prevention, police training, and streamlining the 
criminal justice system.  Conspicuously absent from an Arias 
security strategy is any specific reference to civil unrest 
and the capacity of the police for dealing with it.  We 
expect international issues to be handled personally by Arias 
himself, and his first vice president Laura Chinchilla to 
play a primary role in those security matters touching 
directly on Costa Rica.  End summary. 
 
Costa Rica as a "Moral Power" in the World 
------------------------------------------ 
2.  (U) In his campaign for president, Oscar Arias urged 
Costa Ricans to "think big," to make their small country a 
"moral power" in the world and a voice for international law, 
human rights, multilateralism, and disarmament.  He 
criticized the Pacheco administration for abandoning these 
principles, especially in supporting the "illegal war" in 
Iraq.  According to the National Liberation Party (PLN) 
Program of Government 2006-2010, an Arias administration will 
oppose "the unacceptable and illegal doctrine of preemptive 
war" and will be an advocate for the enlargement and 
"effective democratization" of the UN Security Council to 
include permanent members from the developing world.  (Note: 
The Pacheco administration has said that new "permanent" 
members should serve 8-year renewable terms.) 
 
3.  (C) Arias is a fervent supporter of the International 
Criminal Court (ICC) and has complained to us about USG 
"unilateralism" with regard to U.S. refusal to join the court 
or support certain landmine bans and nonproliferation 
initiatives.  Arias has noted that Costa Rica contributed to 
the ICC's creation, and, in the words of the PLN Program of 
Government, its existence is "an extraordinary achievement of 
humanity and the beginning of the end of impunity for 
dictators and those who commit genocide and violate human 
rights." 
 
4.  (C) During the interregnum between his 1986-1990 
presidency and his candidacy in the 2006 election, Arias used 
his status as a Nobel laureate to campaign for the abolition 
of national armies in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa 
and for disarmament, focusing on conventional weapons (ref 
C).  Arias has expressed to us his disappointment about the 
lack of U.S. support for his Arms Trade Treaty proposal.  In 
his upcoming presidency Arias has told us he plans to launch 
a debt-forgiveness initiative designed to provide incentives 
for low and middle-income countries to reduce military 
spending (ref A). 
 
Defending Costa Rica from External Threats 
------------------------------------------ 
5.  (U) In a 2004 roundtable discussion on "Security Policies 
and Strategies for the 21st Century," Laura Chinchilla, a 
recognized expert on security and now Arias's running mate 
for first vice president, enumerated what she considers to be 
the main external threats to Costa Rica.  First is the 
problem of drug trafficking (along with trafficking in arms 
and persons) in Costa Rican waters and across the land 
borders.  Costa Rica, because it is a natural bridge between 
drug-producing and drug-consuming countries, has seen an 
increase in associated crimes, corruption, and local drug 
consumption. 
 
6.  (C) A second problem area is the tension on the border 
with Nicaragua because of a dispute concerning Costa Rican 
navigational rights on the San Juan River (ref D) and Costa 
Rica's efforts to control Nicaraguan immigration.  Arias has 
advocated a conciliatory approach to the San Juan River, but 
he has also expressed concern that in the event of a 
Sandinista victory in Nicaraguan elections, Nicaraguans will 
stream over the border to Costa Rica in numbers greater than 
ever. 
 
7.  (U) Finally, though perhaps not an "external" threat, is 
the problem of preventing and responding to natural 
disasters, such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and 
floods.  Costa Rica's National Commission on Emergencies 
(CNE) has relied heavily on the Red Cross and the Office of 
Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) during recent floods. 
NASA's aerial mapping of the entire territory of Costa Rica 
and sampling of the atmosphere can be of great utility in 
planning to avoid or minimize the consequences of natural 
disasters. 
 
8.  (C) Chinchilla believes that multilateral and regional 
cooperation is essential for Costa Rica to cope with security 
threats.  The illicit activities of international criminal 
organizations require an international response and close 
ties between the affected countries' police and judicial 
authorities.  In Costa Rica, Chinchilla wants to "rejuvenate" 
the intelligence service, which is directly under the 
president, to make it "less secret and more analytical." 
This concern of Chinchilla's appears to be born of her 
oft-expressed distrust of security organs that are not under 
strict democratic political control.  Chincilla was 
noncommital at best in response to Embassy calls to make it 
easier for the police to conduct wiretaps.  (Note:  Current 
law requires a judge not only to authorize wiretapes, but to 
monitor them personally.) 
 
Criminal Justice 
---------------- 
9.  (U) Chinchilla has written numerous articles detailing 
her views on the need to reform the criminal justice system 
and improve crime prevention.  As deputy, she worked on a 
thoroughgoing revision of the penal code which is still not 
complete.  Her positions have been adopted by Arias and will 
inform the law enforcement policies of the Arias 
administration.  Chinchilla emphasizes that it is not enough 
to crack down on international trafficking of drugs; there 
must also be a focus on the sale of drugs on street corners, 
parks, bars, and schools.  Alcoholism is another serious 
threat to the nation's youth, and tough enforcement of laws 
must be combined with prevention and rehabilitation programs 
for alcoholics and drug users. 
 
10.  (U) In addition to the proliferation of drugs and 
firearms in Costa Rica, Chinchilla sees multiple other causes 
of crime, including growing economic inequality, violence in 
the media, an ineffective judicial system, and poorly trained 
police.  She has also pointed out that the number of police 
in the country has not changed in the last three decades and 
that it is necessary to organize citizens to prevent crime in 
their communities.  She has suggested the establishment of 
specialized police task forces for the identification and 
capture of habitual criminals who prey on citizens and are 
responsible for the lion's share of crimes. 
 
11.  (U) An overriding concern of Chinchilla's has been the 
"professionalization" and "demilitarization" of the police. 
Chinchilla has noted that the line between police and 
military and internal and external security is blurred in 
some Central American countries.  Because of their inability 
to fight crime effectively, the governments of El Salvador, 
Guatemala, and Honduras have used the armed forces to enhance 
police patrols for common criminals and gang members.  In 
Chinchilla's opinion, the police function must be 
unambiguously civilian and police must be trained constantly 
to respect democratic values and the rule of law.  Chinchilla 
opposed the establishment of a U.S.-sponsored International 
Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Costa Rica because it would 
involve training some members of Latin American armed forces 
whom she believes are inappropriately carrying out police 
functions in their countries. 
 
Civil Unrest 
----------- 
12.  (C)  Civil unrest is a serious security problem in Costa 
Rica not because it occurs often, but because the fear of 
unrest thwarts governmental policies and programs.  Because 
public sector trade unions threatened massive demonstrations 
against the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free 
Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), President Pacheco dallied 14 
months before submitting the treaty to the Legislative 
Assembly for ratification.  He kept a telecommunications bill 
bottled up permanently in his office because of his fear of a 
violent reaction by the telecom labor unions.  Pacheco's 
Minister of Public Security constantly counseled the 
president against taking any actions that might anger the 
unions because he believed he could not handle strikes or 
civil disobedience on a large scale. 
 
13.  (C) An Arias administration will face even greater 
challenges than Pacheco has with regard to civil unrest. 
Because of his support for CAFTA-DR and other free-market 
reforms, Arias has already been branded enemy number one by 
the public sector labor unions.  In April 2005, the so-called 
National Liaison Committee, which includes many unions, 
declared that it would not recognize the legitimacy of an 
eventual Arias presidency (05 San Jose 944).  Further, 
prominent union leaders have chosen to interpret the 
lower-than-expected vote for Arias in the February 5 election 
as "a deafening defeat of the neoliberal oligarchy supporting 
CAFTA-DR" and have said that further action on treaty 
ratification and implementation in the Legislative Assembly 
would be "an extremely dangerous provocation" and result in 
"fiery" street confrontations (San Jose 331). 
 
Comment 
------- 
14.  (C) The security agenda of the incoming Arias 
administration does not deal directly with the issue of civil 
unrest.  Chinchilla blithely condemns other Central Americans 
for "militarizing" their police and weakening the 
independence of the judiciary in order rein in dissidents. 
She does not, however, conceive of threats to the established 
order in Costa Rica or detail methods of control.  This 
appears to be an important void in the stated Arias security 
strategy. 
 
15.  (C) The other gap in the strategy concerns the lack of 
resources, exacerbated by the rejection of ILEA and refusal 
to sign an Article 98 agreement.  Arias had unrealistic 
expectations as to possible U.S. assistance in his 
administration, which we have tried to dampen.  Instead of 
hoping for outside material assistance, the Arias 
administration would do well to plan an effective national 
security strategy that might include reconsideration of 
current policies (e.g., on wiretaps) that encourage passivity 
on the part of the country's police and intelligence services. 
LANGDALE