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Viewing cable 08SANJOSE389, COSTA RICA: VP CHINCHILLA ON SECURITY ISSUES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08SANJOSE389 2008-05-14 14:02 2011-03-07 18:06 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 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
VZCZCXYZ0012
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0389/01 1351446
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141446Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9705
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000389 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PPC, INL/LP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR SNAR CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: VP CHINCHILLA ON SECURITY ISSUES 
 
REF: SAN JOSE 287 
 
1. (SBU)  SUMMARY.  On April 29, Charge, DEA Country Attache, 
ODR Chief and NAS officer met with Vice President (and 
Minister of Justice) Laura Chinchilla to discuss current and 
planned bilateral USG security assistance, including the 
Merida Initiative, to Costa Rica.  We also explained the 
delayed entry into the U.S. of Costa Rican Attorney General 
Francisco Dall'Anese on April 23 at Miami International 
Airport(septel), and briefed Chinchilla on the status of 
Costa Rica's pending (due to shortage of funds) new national 
wiretap facility.  Chinchilla gave us the green light to 
proceed with our planning to conduct a National Security 
Planning Workshop in early August and asked for police 
professionalization training and help to remove crack cocaine 
from the streets of Costa Rica.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
================= 
MERIDA INITIATIVE 
================= 
 
2. (SBU) We briefed Chinchilla on the Merida Initiative, 
focusing on the major programs that would affect Costa Rica 
if the proposed legislation was passed by the U.S. Congress. 
In her capacity as Minister of Justice, Chinchilla was 
particularly interested in prison management assistance.  She 
emphasized that Costa Rica needed the Merida Initiative to 
help address its deteriorating domestic security situation in 
all its aspects and she appreciated any assistance the USG 
could provide.  She asked that the GOCR be involved in the 
plan to assist Costa Rican law enforcement entities.  To 
further that request, we briefed the Merida Initiative and 
legacy INL assistance programs to the new Minister of Public 
Security, Janina Del Vecchio, on May 7.  Del Vecchio appeared 
to be very engaged on the topic and requested as many details 
as possible.  NOTE: We continue to consult closely with the 
affected Costa Rican security agencies on all aspects of USG 
security assistance, including the potential Merida 
Initiative.  END NOTE. 
 
================ 
WIRETAP FACILITY 
================ 
 
3. (SBU) We updated Chinchilla on the progress of Costa 
Rica's new wiretap national facility.  Funding, even with 
$100K dedicated from INL funds and $700K from the GOCR, 
remains short by about $700K (the facility's estimated cost 
is approximately $1.5 million).  Also, the Costa Rican Drug 
Institute (ICD) and the Costa Rican Electricity Institute 
(ICE, which controls the national telecom) need to complete 
internal GOCR agreements to harmonize software and hardware 
issues.  Chinchilla fully supports the wiretap facility and 
said the sooner it was in operation the better to help combat 
narcotrafficking and organized crime. 
 
============================================ 
POLICE PROFESSIONALIZATION AND CRACK COCAINE 
============================================ 
 
4. (SBU) Chinchilla requested police professionalization 
assistance for Costa Rica's various police entities.  She 
said that the police here try hard but need to get better at 
basic police tasks.  She cited as a positive example that 
could apply to Costa Rica, the police professionalization 
program that the USG funds in Panama.  We told her that the 
Merida Initiative included funding for police training and 
equipment.  NOTE: Post is investigating various options for 
police professionalization training, including the NGO that 
NAS Panama is using in their program.  END NOTE. 
 
5. (SBU) Chinchilla also requested assistance to combat the 
growing epidemic of crack cocaine use in Costa Rica.  She 
noted that several U.S. cities had successfully implemented 
anti-crack campaigns and said that those could serve as 
models for Costa Rica, especially for San Jose.  Partially 
due to the serious crack problem, Chinchilla added that the 
people of Costa Rica had a sense that the government only 
works to combat international narcotics trafficking and does 
not do enough to address domestic drug consumption problems. 
NOTE: After the meeting, we double-checked statistics 
provided to us by the Costa Rican Anti-Drug Police (PCD). 
The PCD's statistics report that 70 percent of their 2007 
anti-drug operations were from national trafficking (286 
cases) versus 30 percent (125 cases) for international. 
Additionally, of 400 detained individuals in 2007, 75 percent 
(303 persons) were Costa Rican versus 25 percent (102) 
foreigners.  We will work with the GOCR to dispel the notion 
that the bulk of drug cases are international.  END NOTE. 
 
6. (SBU) In our separate meeting with Del Vecchio on May 7, 
she also emphasized the alarming impact that crack cocaine 
was having on Costa Rica's youth.  She told us that an 
estimated 80 percent of crimes in Costa Rica are related to 
the trafficking, distribution and selling of crack cocaine. 
By far, she said, it was Costa Rica's number one internal 
drug problem. 
 
=============================== 
SUPPORT FOR DOD-FUNDED PROJECTS 
=============================== 
 
7. (SBU) We briefed Chinchilla on several DOD-funded 
assistance projects in Costa Rica, including a National 
Security Planning Workshop (to follow up the 2006 workshop 
she attended), support for the new Costa Rican police 
academy, upcoming visits by WHINSEC Mobile Training Teams, 
and various humanitarian projects.  Chinchilla, recalling the 
utility of the 2006 National Security Workshop, gave us the 
green light to conduct the follow-on, tentatively scheduled 
for this summer.  She reiterated her appreciation for all of 
the security-related support that the USG provided Costa 
Rica.  Del Vecchio echoed Chinchilla's gratitude for USG 
security assistance, underlining that "the more the better, 
and the quicker the better." 
 
======= 
COMMENT 
======= 
 
8. (SBU) Chinchilla's (and Del Vecchio's) strong support for 
USG security assistance from both civilian and military 
sources is a full 180 degree turn from the Arias 
Administration's position from even 12 months ago.  The 
deteriorating domestic security situation, mainly due to 
rocketing violent crime as a result of increased 
narcotrafficking, helped push the Arias Administration to 
admit that it needed USG help.  Though bilateral relations 
with the U.S. have been historically good, the GOCR's 
re-iterated request for security assistance (especially from 
the Minister of Public Security) is a welcome and positive 
development.  Del Vecchio repeated several times that she 
wanted to get USG security assistance accelerated and on a 
high level as soon as possible.  It seemed clear to us that 
she was receiving pressure from the top leadership in the 
country, quite possibly from President Arias himself, and 
that she needed to quickly get a handle on security issues 
and begin to reverse the deteriorating domestic security 
situation.  During his May 1 State of the Republic address, 
Arias stressed that the country's domestic security problems 
were not "imagined" and were his administration's top 
concern.  This seemed a deliberate rebuttal to Del Vecchio's 
earlier comments (reftel) that the perception of domestic 
security problems were worse than the reality. 
BRENNAN