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Viewing cable 06SANJOSE656, COSTA RICA, INC.": ANTI-CAFTA-DR FILM MIXES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SANJOSE656 2006-03-24 17:05 2011-03-03 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED 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
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0656 0831708
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241708Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4588
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO 1445
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000656 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV ETRD SOCI CS
SUBJECT: "COSTA RICA, INC.": ANTI-CAFTA-DR FILM MIXES 
HITLER, JUDAS, THE ATOM BOMB AND FREE TRADE 
 
 
1.  Summary:  A slick new film appearing periodically on 
Costa Rican public television uses a mixture of emotionally 
laden images, misquotes, and insinuations (probably falling 
just short of libel) to attack the U.S.-Central 
America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). 
While objective viewers are likely to find the film to be 
over the top and ridiculous, the film serves the purpose of 
rallying those who are already true believers in the 
anti-CAFTA-DR cause.  End summary. 
 
2.  University of Costa Rica (UCR) professor Pablo Ortega 
produced a 100-minute documentary film entitled "Costa Rica, 
Inc." ("Costa Rica, S.A." in Spanish) that since before the 
February 5 election has appeared from time to time on UCR's 
public television channel 15.  Professor Ortega's film is a 
call to arms against CAFTA-DR and uses the crassest forms of 
propaganda to achieve its aims.  The chief villains in the 
film are the United States and the Costa Rican negotiators of 
CAFTA-DR. 
 
3.  The film contains a lot of footage on Iraq and claims 
that USTR Zoellick made support of U.S. foreign policy a 
condition for a country to join CAFTA-DR and that a firm in 
Costa Rica is making parts for a U.S. missile guidance 
system.  Interspersed throughout the film are images of 
burned and mutilated children, Abu Ghraib, Hitler, the atom 
bomb, and Judas kissing Jesus.  Although provocative images 
are not explained, the linkages are obvious -- when the 
United States is mentioned, we see Abu Ghraib; Judas is 
pictured when Costa Rican CAFTA-DR negotiators' "betrayal" is 
being discussed. 
 
4.  Sober looking university professors and economists are 
interviewed in the film making outrageous claims:  e.g., that 
negotiations were conducted in secrecy, that the agreement 
would make Costa Rica "part of the international production 
of arms," and that Costa Rica's sovereignty and territorial 
integrity will be jeopardized. 
 
5.  Perhaps the worst part of the film are the attacks on the 
Costa Rican negotiators of CAFTA-DR, implying that they were 
motivated by personal gain to sell out their country.  The 
presentation is terribly confusing and probably calculated to 
confuse.  The most damning piece of "evidence" is that Costa 
Rica's chief negotiator, Anabel Gonzalez, is married to a 
member of a law firm that has clients who will benefit from 
the agreement.  The film also notes that the Oscar Arias 
family's sugar business will also profit from CAFTA-DR. 
 
6.  The film's budget included a USD 5,000 grant from the 
Audiovisual Development Fund of Central America and Cuba 
(Cinergia).  The DVD can be purchased for two dollars or 
downloaded free at costaricasa.tendenciadigital.com.  It is 
distributed to a variety of NGOs and other groups. 
 
7.  CAFTA-DR negotiators Anabel Gonzalez and Alberto Trejos 
objected to the airing of the film on the grounds that the 
personal attacks against them amounted to defamation.  They 
also threatened to sue.  (Note:  The film seemed to have been 
carefully crafted so that a suit against the makers would 
fail.)  Those who liked the film, like Marta Zamora, head of 
the Citizens' Action Party (PAC) in the Legislative Assembly, 
said that the negotiators' threat of legal action constituted 
an effort to "quash freedom of expression, university 
autonomy, and the Constitution in general." 
 
8.  Comment:  "Costa Rica, Inc." is well enough made that it 
holds one's attention and at times entertains.  It uses 
humor, contrasting Anabel Gonzalez, the worst of the film's 
villains, with a fictional Wonder Woman of Alajuelita (a 
working-class suburb of the capital) who in tights and cape 
defends the poor against the depredations of globalization 
and free trade.  None of this will convince the majority of 
Costa Ricans who are sensible people, but the film can be an 
effective tool with children, adolescents, ideologues, 
simpletons, and the shock troops in the anti-CAFTA-DR cause. 
LANGDALE