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Viewing cable 07SANJOSE1823, MEDIA COVERAGE OF CAFTA CAMPAIGN AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07SANJOSE1823 2007-10-05 23:11 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
VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #1823/01 2782320
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 052320Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9004
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001823 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR WHA/PD-TPICKREL, WHA FO, WHA/CEN AND H 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETRD PGOV PREL KPAO CS
SUBJECT: MEDIA COVERAGE OF CAFTA CAMPAIGN AND 
CONGRESSIONAL VISIT TO COSTA RICA 
 
1.  SUMMARY: Over the past two months, the 
Ambassador's visits to Costa Rican businesses 
affected by international trade generated 
significant media coverage and a variety of 
reactions, including a complaint filed by anti- 
CAFTA union leaders to the Supreme Election 
Tribunal (TSE), septel. Meanwhile, Partido de 
Accion Ciudadana (PAC) leader and anti-CAFTA 
activist Otton Solis invited U.S. Senator 
Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman Michael 
Michaud (D-ME) to Costa Rica to support the "no" 
campaign, also generating media reaction. Given 
the importance and sensitivity of CAFTA in Costa 
Rica, and the interest in Washington, we provide 
extensive excerpts below. END SUMMARY 
 
============================== 
COVERAGE OF AMBASSADORQS TRIPS 
============================== 
 
2.  Following the AmbassadorQs visits to farmers 
and small businesses in the Central Valley, 
populist daily Diario Extra (cir. 150,000) ran 
an article on 7/27 entitled "Chayote Producers 
are with CAFTA" which quoted the farmers as 
stressing "If CAFTA is not approved and CBI 
disappears, we would be out of the market, since 
we won't be able to export our product to the 
U.S." Workers at a local metal industry told 
Diario Extra: "We hope the country makes the 
right decision so we can keep growing." 
 
3. Central Valley textile workers whose plant 
currently sends 70% of its production to the 
United States told Diario Extra on 8/31 
(following an Ambassadorial visit), "Without the 
U.S. market we would be able to sell only 30% of 
our production and this would mean reducing our 
personnel and production." 
 
4. Based on the AmbassadorQs visit to a cannery 
in Puntarenas, English-language Pacific zone 
weekly The Beach Times reported on 9/17 that 
"[Sardimar] the biggest employer in the port 
city of Puntarenas warned Q it would be moving 
operations to another Central American country 
if the free trade agreement with the U.S. were 
not approved." 
 
=================== 
AMBASSADORQS QUOTES 
=================== 
 
5. While avoiding any mention of how Costa 
Ricans should vote in the CAFTA referendum, the 
Ambassador used his visits to highlight the 
benefits of trade. In a Diario Extra interview 
on 7/27 he said: "Farmers know how important 
CAFTA is for their businesses, market access and 
future success. The referendum is the way to 
maintain that access for future generations. 
U.S. market access gives jobs and opportunities 
that improve Costa Rican lives." 
 
6. He told the Beach Times on 9/14, "The Embassy 
does not have a position on the referendum 
except that it's a process for Costa Rica to 
decide whether or not to enter the group of 
countries that will continue their access to the 
U.S. [market]. History shows that the countries 
that have approved free-trade agreements have 
had more success, like Chile. The countries that 
close their borders do not have success, like 
Cuba." 
 
=========================== 
QUOTES ABOUT THE AMBASSADOR 
=========================== 
 
7. Some media outlets cast the Ambassador as a 
vocal proponent of the "Si" campaign.  La Prensa 
Libre's (conservative daily; cir. 56,000) 
headline in on 8/09 read "U.S. Ambassador 
promotes CAFTA in enterprises."  The article 
went on to say "During his visits to 
enterprises, Ambassador Langdale . . . talked 
with workers about what could happen if CAFTA is 
not approved. Langdale said he is not part of 
the Yes campaign since that is a campaign for 
Costa Ricans, not for him. Traveling around 
Costa Rica to get to know people and the country 
 
is part of an ambassadorQs job." 
 
8.  When asked by weekly (and strongly anti- 
CAFTA) Semanario Universidad (cir. 6,000) on 
8/09, Costa RicaQs Production Minister said 
"what he [the Ambassador] is doing is a follow- 
up of one of his country policies. It is 
something normal." Nevertheless, CAFTA critic 
Jose Merino of the Frente Amplio Party accused 
the Ambassador of interfering in Costa Rican 
internal affairs and characterized him as 
directing the "Yes" campaign instead of 
President Arias. 
 
====================== 
U.S. LEGISLATORS VISIT 
====================== 
 
9. Invited by anti-CAFTA activist Solis, U.S. 
Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) and Congressman 
Michael Michaud (D-ME) made a private visit to 
Costa Rica September 21-24.  They joined Solis 
for a press conference on 9/23 and gave a number 
of interviews.  In an lengthy story by Semanario 
Universidad on 9/27,  Sanders said, "The U.S. 
government and the Ambassador have to respect 
sovereignty and understand that political 
decisions are made by and for each country's 
people. It is not a U.S. Ambassador's job in 
Costa Rica to interfere in a political campaign 
and this is something I will discuss when I 
return to the U.S."  Michaud indicated "I am 
really upset with Ambassador Langdale and 
President Arias because they said there will be 
reprisals from the U.S. if CAFTA is not 
approved.  We are not taking CBI away since 
Democrats are now controlling the U.S. 
Congress." 
 
10. La Nacion (most influential center-right 
daily; cir. 125,000) reported on 09/24 that the 
visiting U.S. legislators said: "U.S. and Costa 
Rican trade relations wonQt be affected. More 
than a half of the U.S. Congress is against 
CAFTA and has demonstrated a willingness to 
improve other trade agreements. . . they 
consider . . . harmful." Sanders stressed that 
Costa Rica will continue benefiting from CBI 
since it is a law, and its existence depends 
only on the U.S. Congress. "Neither Republicans 
or Democrats have any intention of eliminating 
this law."  He and Michaud asserted that if 
CAFTA were rejected by Costa Rica, there would 
be a real possibility of negotiating a US-Costa 
Rica bilateral trade agreement. 
 
11.  In a follow-up on 9/27, La Nacion 
continued: "Sanders has a long background 
opposing any trade agreement creating employment 
in other countries because those jobs mean 
Americans will loose job opportunities. . . 
Sanders also voted twice to take the U.S. out of 
WTO. . . Michaud has indicated that CAFTA 
promises the U.S. the loss of more. Both 
Congressmen have solid American union support." 
 
12.  In Diario Extra and La Prensa Libre on 
9/24, Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz 
noted "Michaud and Sanders voted against a CBI 
extension . . . Their only interest is to defend 
American jobs for electoral purposes, and that 
is why they are against CAFTA." Ruiz also 
indicated CBI would likely expire, given WTO 
opposition to such unilateral benefits.  On 
9/25, La Nacion, Diario Extra and La Prensa 
Libre quoted members of the pro-CAFTA PUSC, 
Libertarian and PUN Parties criticizing the U.S. 
legislatorsQ visit. "(The) PAC (party) brought 
wolves in sheep clothing . . . Those are people 
who have always voted against Latin America, 
against all trade schemes." 
 
13.  On 9/28-9/29, La Nacion, Diario Extra, La 
Prensa Libre, The Tico Times (English language 
weekly; cir. 45,000), and AM Costa Rica 
published articles quoting Ruiz, Costa Rican 
Ambassador to Washington Tomas Duenas, and 
Minister of the Presidency Rodrigo Arias calling 
for an explanation from Solis for bringing 
Sanders and Michaud to Costa Rica. "Those people 
are not interested in Costa Rica's welfare or in 
 
renegotiating CAFTA . . . Otton Solis is friend 
of Costa Rica's enemies."  Also in La Prensa 
Libre on 9/28,  President Oscar Arias said 
"[Sanders and Michaud] came to Costa Rica to 
defend U.S. unions and workers. They do not want 
American enterprises coming to Costa Rica to 
invest and generate job sources for Costa 
Ricans." 
 
================== 
REID/PELOSI LETTER 
================== 
 
14.  On 9/28, Otton Solis released a letter sent 
by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and 
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to Ambassador 
Duenas, indicating that CBI would not be in 
danger if Costa Rica voted against CAFTA in the 
referendum.  In Diario Extra on 9/29, Ambassador 
Duenas and Minister Ruiz stated "despite (these) 
good wishes, no one can guarantee preferential 
access of Costa Ricans products to the U.S. 
market." 
 
15.  Following the release of statements by 
DUSTR John Veroneau and Jim McCrery (R-LA), La 
Nacion reported on 9/29, "no country benefiting 
from CBI should assume these benefits are 
eternal. This is a unilateral preferential 
program that could be modified or eliminated by 
Congress at any time, and it could also be 
revoked by the U.S. President. The U.S. won't 
consider a separate trade agreement with Costa 
Rica if CAFTA is not approved by the 
referendum." 
 
16. La Prensa Libre continued on 10/02, quoting 
former Foreign Trade Minister Alberto Trejos: 
"despite the fact that most CBI benefits do not 
have a specific expiration date, benefits under 
CBTPA expire next year. . .it is clear that CBI 
is at risk and it is dangerous that the exchange 
of goods and services with our main trade 
partner depends . . . on such a fragile 
possibility. . . Right now CBI does not have WTO 
permission, and even though no country has asked 
for a panel to take it away from us, I still 
insist it is fragile." 
 
============== 
SANCHEZ LETTER 
============== 
 
17.  On October 3, PAC held a press conference 
to interview Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) by phone. 
Earlier, PAC had released SanchezQs letter to 
the Secretary, which asked for assurance that 
the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica did not use time 
or resources to influence in the referendum 
results. During the interview, Sanchez asserted 
that unilateral CBI benefits are permanent. 
When asked by La Nacion if the U.S. executive 
branch has the authority to exclude any country 
from receiving those benefits, she continued, "I 
do not have that information in front of me but 
if power is based on our executive branch, I 
cannot ensure he wonQt use it in the way he 
wants." Sanchez also recognized that trade 
preferences for Costa Rica depend on WTO. "The 
U.S. or our Congress can do all that is within 
our reach, but the truth is that other WTO 
countries have also voice and vote to affect 
free trade agreements and preferences policies." 
 
LANGDALE