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Viewing cable 06SANJOSE2060, SECURITY MINISTER ON DMA PARTICIPATION AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SANJOSE2060 2006-09-14 23:11 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
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #2060/01 2572306
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 142306Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6115
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3658
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0067
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 002060 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PPC AND INL/LP 
DOD FOR OSD POLICY:JALVERSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2016 
TAGS: PREL MARR PGOV SNAR XK CS
SUBJECT: SECURITY MINISTER ON DMA PARTICIPATION AND 
SECURITY FUNDING 
 
REF: A. OSD-SAN JOSE EMAILS SEPT 1-5 
 
     B. SAN JOSE 1840 (NOTAL) 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Mark Langdale per 1.4 (d) 
 
------ 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (C) The GOCR has not decided to downgrade its 
participation in the upcoming Defense Ministerial of the 
Americas (DMA), according to Security Minister Fernando 
Berrocal; the minister told the Ambassador on September 8 
that he saw no reason not to attend at least part of the DMA. 
 On other issues, Berrocal was fairly upbeat about resources 
for his ministry, anticipating a 35 percent increase in his 
ministerial budget for next year, and some 1600 additional 
police on the street over the next nine months.  We view the 
minister,s public complaints regarding diminished U.S. 
assistance as mostly political grandstanding; we have 
detected no weakening in the GOCR,s counter-narcotics 
efforts at the operational level. 
 
----------------------------- 
DMA MEMBERSHIP/PARTICIPATION 
----------------------------- 
 
2.  (SBU) On September 8, Ambassador and Political Counselor 
called on Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal to 
discuss the  October 1-5 Defense Ministerial of the Americas 
(DMA) and other security-related issues.  When asked if the 
GOCR planned to downgrade its DMA status from full member to 
observer (Ref A), Berrocal at first maintained that Costa 
Rica had "always" been a DMA observer.  He also asked if his 
predecessor had attended the 2005 DMA.  The Ambassador 
pointed out that the GOCR had participated as a full member 
in every DMA since 1995.  Trying to be helpful, Berrocal 
phoned his predecessor, Rogelio Ramos, during the meeting. 
Ramos confirmed that he attended the Key Biscayne Defense 
Ministerial in 2005, in which Costa Rica participated fully, 
focusing mostly on disaster relief and coordination. 
However, Ramos told Berrocal that the GOCR delegation had 
declined to take part in a Central American working group, 
because the GOCR had no military. 
 
3.  (SBU) Hanging up with Ramos, Berrocal told the Ambassador 
he saw no reason not to attend at least part of the DMA, 
schedule permitting.  Berrocal explained that he had plans to 
travel to Geneva and New York (for his daughter,s wedding) 
starting on October 4 or 5.  Berrocal asked that we provide 
DMA schedule details for his review upon return from his 
visit to Colombia the week of September 11.  (NOTE:  We 
passed the current DMA schedule to his office on September 
11.  His visit to Colombia is to coordinate on immigration 
and security issues.) 
 
4.  (SBU) The Ambassador stressed the importance of full DMA 
membership for Costa Rica for two reasons.  First, resources 
provided by SOUTHCOM can help confront the security 
challenges facing the region, even if these challenges 
(crime, drug trafficking, etc.) were not strictly military in 
nature.  Second, Costa Rica remains an important voice in 
DMA, and can serve as a model for others, as the only 
regional government that had successfully advanced democracy 
and faced security challenges without a military.  Berrocal 
seemed receptive. 
 
--------------------------------- 
OPTIMISM ON SECURITY FUNDING . . . 
--------------------------------- 
 
5.  (SBU) Berrocal seemed fairly upbeat about resources for 
his ministry, confirming media reports that Taiwan has 
provided USD 2 million for the GOCR to spend on security 
needs.  Berrocal listed patrol cars, motorcycles and 
ballistic vests among the priority items on his wish list. 
He also expects significantly more resources in next year,s 
budget, which is under discussion now with Hacienda. 
Berrocal predicted a 35 percent increase in funding for his 
ministry, the largest increase for any cabinet agency.  Given 
this increase, the Taiwanese aid and his plans to move more 
administrative and staff police personnel to "the 
streets," he hoped to have as many as 1600 more Fuerza 
Publica personnel (basic street cops) available for patrol 
duty within the next nine months.   Berrocal reprised his 
 
complaint that the police force and his ministry were in far 
worse condition than he expected when he took office, thus 
requiring more time to get in shape. 
 
6.  (SBU) NOTE:  A separate meeting with Poloff on September 
12 echoed Berrocal,s optimism on funding.  Martin Arias (no 
relation to the President), who directs the Ministry of 
Public Security,s special units (K-9, riot police, EOD (Bomb 
Squad), and the Special Action Unit) reported that Berrocal 
is about to close a USD 5 million loan package from the BCIE 
(the regional Central American Bank for Economic Integration) 
that will be used to construct an entirely new (and sorely 
needed) police academy.  Arias expressed hope that the new 
academy would be up and running within a year.   END NOTE. 
 
------------------------- 
. . . EXCEPT FROM THE USG 
------------------------- 
 
7.  (U) Berrocal,s muted optimism with the Ambassador 
contrasted with his earlier stance in public.  In a 9/4 
interview with the daily business journal La Republica, he 
dismissed U.S. financial assistance as "totally inadequate" 
and "not worth losing sleep over," adding that the Taiwanese 
and French governments provide more.  Berrocal said the 
substantial drop in USG counter-narcotics assistance meant 
international narcotics trafficking would not be a top 
priority for his ministry and he would therefore focus 
instead on getting more police on the streets.  He told 
journalists that at any given moment, Costa Rica has only 
about 2,600 police officers (Fuerza Publica) on duty to 
protect a population of over four million.  Berrocal also 
expressed frustration with the judicial system which he said 
too easily releases criminals after the police arrest them. 
Berrocal said he was treating the situation as a national 
emergency, but would not declare an emergency for fear of 
scaring away foreign investment.  He made similar comments 
(without mentioning the United States) in television 
interviews the week of 9/4. 
 
 
--------- 
COMMENT: 
--------- 
 
8.  (C) Based on this conversation, it appears that the GOCR 
has not decided to downgrade its DMA participation (at least 
as far as Berrocal is aware).  However, "seeing no reason not 
to participate" is no guarantee Berrocal will attend.  At 
this point, one of his vice ministers (Rafael Gutierrez) is a 
likely participant; another vice minister (Ana Duran), is 
tied up with immigration issues, and is only a "probable." 
The GOCR,s workshop reluctance in 2005, as described by 
Ramos, shows the continued Tico allergy to anything smacking 
of regional defense cooperation.  Berrocal, for example, sees 
himself as a minister of homeland security, not of "defense." 
 Our challenge remains in focusing the GOCR on the substance 
of the security needs here, without worrying about labels 
like "defense."  The NDU workshop helped, but when they think 
of security issues, it is hard for Costa Ricans not to focus 
on (and complain about) the shrinking USG assistance 
pipeline, especially those like Berrocal who well-remember 
the golden days of the 1980s.  He seems intent on finding 
other sources, however.  This may be good for Costa Rica in 
the short term, but gives the USG less influence over time. 
As to his dismissive 9/4 remarks on counter-narcotics 
cooperation, we view these as political rhetoric.  We have 
seen no indication of weaker cooperation at the operational 
level, but we are watching and listening more closely, 
following Berrocal's public complaint. 
LANGDALE