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Viewing cable 07SANJOSE2074, COSTA RICA: UPDATED SECURITY REQUIREMENTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07SANJOSE2074 2007-12-20 23:11 2011-03-07 18:06 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/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #2074/01 3542303
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 202303Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9302
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 002074 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN HILLARY THOMPSON AND WHA/FO GIOVANNI 
SNIDLE AND INL/LP AIMEE MARTIN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS PTER SNAR CS KJUS PREF
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: UPDATED SECURITY REQUIREMENTS 
 
REF: A. STATE 163495 
     B. STATE 107145 
     C. SAN JOSE 1618 
     D. WHA/CEN-SAN JOSE EMAIL OF 12/06/07 
 
Classified By: CDA Peter M. Brennan for reason 1.4 (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOCR's most pressing, non-lethal police 
equipment needs center on communications, transportation, 
technology, K-9 support, and surveillance equipment (in that 
order, see para 5).  Coast Guard modernization remains on top 
of the list of other initiatives to be funded by the pending 
FY2008 Merida Initiative supplemental and potentially in out 
years.  (We have updated and refined the original list 
presented in Ref C, see paras 6-9.)  Together, these projects 
clearly fall under the first and second pillars of the Merida 
Initiative: Counternarcotics, Counterterrorism and Border 
Security; and Public Security and Law Enforcement.  We 
believe that regional security would be significantly and 
positively impacted by fully funding these initiatives as 
well as by appropriate and complementary training programs. 
In addition, we believe the GOCR could benefit from the 
technical assistance for prison management (initial 
assessment and planning survey) outlined under the third 
Merida pillar: Institution Building and Rule of Law.  We have 
not yet had the opportunity to review this with GOCR prison 
officials, however.  Overall, the GOCR remains committed to 
cooperating with the Central American Integration System 
(SICA) to combat narcotrafficking, trafficking in weapons, 
and trafficking in persons.  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------------------ 
GOCR COMMITMENTS TO SICA 
------------------------ 
 
2. (SBU) Carlos Cordero, Director of the Terrorism and 
Disarmament Foreign Policy Office of the MFA, assured us that 
the GOCR was cooperating with SICA in narcotrafficking, 
weapons trafficking and trafficking in persons (TIP).  As a 
member of the Central American Permanent Commission (CCP), 
Costa Rica was jointly developing policies and programs to 
fight narcotrafficking.  Cordero agreed that the Costa Rican 
Coast Guard (SNGC), the GOCR's only asset with "regional" 
reach, was in dire need of modernized equipment and training 
to properly conduct their maritime interdiction mission. 
 
3. (SBU) Through the UN-funded Central American Small Arms 
Control (CASAC), Cordero said the GOCR will manage a budget 
and programs to combat trafficking in weapons (NFI).  The 
program is to start next year and will be managed by the 
Ministry of Public Security (MPS).  On TIP, Cordero 
acknowledged that the GOCR's program overall lacked a strong 
budget and suffered from poor interagency coordination. 
 
4. (SBU) On gang-related violence, Cordero said that Costa 
Rica did not have a problem, unlike elsewhere in the region. 
Because Costa Rica does not suffer from gang-related 
violence, Cordero said the GOCR did not need assistance in 
that area at this moment. 
 
------------------- 
THE NON-LETHAL LIST 
------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) To collect input from the GOCR on their prioritized 
non-lethal police equipment needs, we met with several 
high-level law enforcement officials, including Minister of 
Public Security Fernando Berrocal and Director of the 
Judicial Police (OIJ) Jorge Rojas.  With their input and 
Post's assessment, here is the prioritized list of Costa 
Rica's most pressing non-lethal police equipment needs.  This 
list has been endorsed by Post's inter-agency Law Enforcement 
Committee.  We will provide more details (and notional cost 
figures) when provided by the GOCR, but we wanted Washington 
decision makers to have something to start with.  We view 
these needs as consistent with the program outlined in the 
Department's briefing materials to Congress (Ref D): 
 
-- Police radios and communications infrastructure. 
-- Transportation assets including at least 12 Ford 
Explorer-type rough terrain vehicles and at least 10 regular 
police patrol vehicles. 
-- K-9 support including at least six more trained anti-drug 
and anti-explosive dogs. 
-- Body armor (at least 1000 new protective vests). 
-- Development of AFIS-type fingerprint program. 
-- Laptops with printers for on-scene criminal investigations. 
-- Mobile surveillance equipment to outfit a van or 
truck-type vehicle. 
-- Larger vehicles (1-4 buses) to transport groups of police 
officers.  (The Ministry of Public Security only has one). 
-- Forensics lamps. 
-- Night-vision goggles. 
-- IBIS-type forensic ballistic tools. 
 
In our view, the first four elements are the most important 
(radio and communications, vehicles, K-9 assets and 
protective vests). 
 
------------------------------- 
UPDATED OUT YEAR SECURITY NEEDS 
------------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Based on GOCR input (including from new, more 
vigorous coast guard leadership) and an updated Post 
assessment (from an intensive evaluation of the Costa Rican 
Coast Guard by our Office of Defense Representative and NAS 
officer), we suggest the following initiatives.  These 
support USG and GOCR law enforcement objectives and are 
consistent with the SICA regional security strategy.  We have 
structured our updated assessment within the framework of the 
Administration's FY08 Merida Initiative Supplemental and the 
FY2009 Merida Initiative request with OMB.  We cover FY08, 
09, and 10. 
 
7. (C) PRIORITIZED LIST OF USG ASSISTANCE FOR FY08 MERIDA 
INITIATIVE SUPPLEMENTAL ($1.975 million total) 
 
A) REFIT INOPERABLE COAST GUARD 65-FT PATROL BOAT IN LIMON 
($900K): Two new engines, electronics, navigation, 
communications and radar equipment and a repaired/replaced 
hull on the GOCR's 65-foot patrol boat in Limon would provide 
Costa Rica with patrol capability on its Caribbean coast. 
Currently, the GOCR has virtually no such capability.  The 
GOCR Caribbean "fleet" consists of one 25-foot Eduardono-type 
boat with only one (of two) engines fully operational and one 
12-foot Boston-whaler type river patrol boat.  Putting the 
65-foot patrol boat in operation, which has been out of 
service since October 2006 due to the lack of spare parts and 
old, unreliable engines, would greatly enhance Costa Rica's 
ability to patrol its Caribbean waters and work with USG 
assets under the Bilateral Maritime Agreement. 
 
B) BUY TWO NEW 39-FT MIDNIGHT EXPRESS TYPE BOATS ($600K): The 
Costa Rican Coast Guard's (SNGC) current "fleet" of medium to 
large-size patrol boats (three 82-footers and two 65-footers) 
are aging (some approaching over 35 years of service between 
U.S. and SNGC usage) and need to be replaced, eventually. 
Acquiring these more modern and much faster craft, which 
would give the SNGC the capability to intercept drug-running 
"go-fasts" as well as to stop and board other vessels, is a 
good place to start, and would be a smarter investment in the 
short-term.  Even refurbished, the existing SNGC patrol boats 
cannot easily intercept smaller, faster drug runners. 
 
C) MODERNIZE ALL ELECTRONICS ON TWO 82-FT PATROL BOATS 
($175K): Replace and modernize all the electronics on two of 
the SNGC's 82-foot patrol boats.  This includes the 
navigation, communications, and radar systems (which would 
provide night-time operating capability) on board.  Their 
current electronics gear on board is at least 20 years out of 
date and often does not operate due to lack of spare parts. 
Replacing this gear enhances the SNGC's surveillance 
capabilities and thus improving Costa Rica's contribution to 
regional counter narcotics and counter trafficking efforts. 
 
D) REFIT FOUR EXISTING 25-FT EDUARDONO-TYPE "GO-FAST" PATROL 
BOATS ($300K): Replace and repair engines, hulls, and upgrade 
navigation and communications on four of the SNGC's existing 
"go-fast" patrol boats.  Refitting these existing hulls will 
provide immediate capability to the SNGC to pursue and board 
close to shore drug smuggling vessels. 
 
E) THE RESULT: This investment would leave the SNGC with a 
much more capable "fleet" on both the Caribbean and Pacific 
Coasts, including four operational patrol boats, two Midnight 
Express-type fast boats, and smaller craft. 
8. (C) PRIORITIZED LIST OF USG ASSISTANCE FOR FY09 MERIDA 
INITIATIVE REQUEST WITH OMB ($2.035 million total) 
 
A) REFIT COAST GUARD TWO 82-FT PATROL BOATS ($1.6M): This 
would continue the modernization started in FY08 for the two 
82-foot patrol boats by replacing all of their engines and 
transmissions. 
 
B) BUY ONE NEW 39-FT MIDNIGHT-EXPRESS TYPE BOAT ($300K): This 
purchase would further interdiction capability and nearly 
complete the goal of providing four new medium-size, 
high-speed patrol boats to supplement the SNGC's current 
aging fleet. 
 
C) INSTALL FORWARD LOOKING INFRARED RADAR (FLIR) ON THREE AIR 
UNIT SURVEILLANCE AIRCRAFT ($135K): This would maximize use 
of existing assets in arguably the best-maintained, equipped 
and utilized unit within the Ministry of Public Security. 
FLIR installation would enhance the detection of trafficking 
activity, especially along the porous border with Panama, 
essentially wide open now to illegal traffic of all types. 
This would be another GOCR contribution to regional security 
efforts.  The Air Unit has three aircraft that could be FLIR 
equipped. 
 
D) THE RESULT: Combined with the FY08 initiatives, this would 
leave the SNGC with four refitted patrol boats and three new 
Midnight Express-type fast boats, and the Ministry of Public 
Security's small air unit with a much enhanced border 
surveillance capability. 
 
9. (C) PRIORITIZED LIST OF USG ASSISTANCE FOR FY10 MERIDA 
INITIATIVE REQUEST WITH OMB ($2.8 million total) 
 
A) REFIT INOPERABLE COAST GUARD 105-FT PATROL BOAT ($2.5M): 
This refit would include two new engines, hull repair, and 
upgrade and replacement of all electronic (navigation, 
communications, radar) systems.  Although less of a priority 
than refitting the 82-foot and 65-foot assets (and the 
purchase of four Midnight-Express type boats), putting this 
largest patrol craft into operation would greatly enhance 
Costa Rica's maritime capabilities (to include the ability to 
conduct fisheries patrols), enabling the SNGC to operate as 
far offshore as Cocos Island (250 miles from the Pacific 
coast). 
 
B) BUY ONE NEW 39-FT MIDNIGHT-EXPRESS TYPE BOAT ($300K): This 
purchase would complete the goal of providing four new 
medium-size, high-speed patrol boats to supplement the SNGC's 
current aging fleet. 
 
C) THE RESULT: If this entire FY08-10 package were financed, 
the SNGC would have five operational patrol boats, four 
modern "go-fasts" of their own, and the capability to patrol 
much of GOCR's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  This would 
yield clear benefits not only for Costa Rican law 
enforcement, but for regional security cooperation. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
GOCR WELCOMES ASSISTANCE IN PRISON MGMT 
--------------------------------------- 
 
10. (SBU) We met with Minister of Justice (and 
Vice-President) Laura Chinchilla to discuss prison management 
issues.  Chinchilla welcomed any assistance that the USG can 
provide to improve Costa Rica's prison system.  She 
highlighted the plight of criminals who are not properly 
rehabilitated and end up becoming career criminals.  She 
specifically requested assistance in how to better integrate 
criminals back into society by giving them useful job skills. 
 Chinchilla agreed that Costa Rica needed a thorough survey 
of how it can better train its prison employees.  She said 
the infrastructure lacked basic communications and office 
equipment, including computers and better databases for 
prison management.  Two areas of particular concern to her 
were the high rates of crime among minors and women. 
Concentrating on the issue of women who are often arrested 
for transporting drugs as human "mules," she said better 
programs were needed to address the "orphans" left when their 
(often) single mothers went to jail.  Speaking to greater 
narcotics problems among the population in Costa Rica, 
Chinchilla said that crack cocaine was the most destructive 
drug on the streets, and requested any help/guidance we could 
provide based on U.S. expertise in this regard. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
11. (C) The Arias administration has taken significant steps 
against regional (mostly maritime) drug trafficking, but the 
problem is only getting worse.   The realistic investment 
plan outlined above would keep Costa Rica moving in the right 
direction by maintaining and increasing the GOCR's ability to 
interdict drug shipments.  This plan would also give the GOCR 
needed basic tools and equipment to deal with rising crime 
rates, a nagging worry among citizens that also has a direct 
impact on the approximately 50,000 Americans living 
permanently in Costa Rica and approximately 750,000 American 
tourists who visit every year.  This investment thus would 
contribute not only to the SICA regional security strategy 
(highlighting the importance of regional cooperation in the 
process), but also to Costa Rica's own domestic security 
plans and the safety/security of U.S. citizens in Costa Rica. 
BRENNAN