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Viewing cable 08SANJOSE634, COSTA RICA (FINALLY) CLOSING IN ON CAFTA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08SANJOSE634 2008-07-31 21:09 2011-03-02 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-02/Investigacion.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0634/01 2132107
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 312107Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9971
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000634 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR WHA, WHA/CEN, WHA/EPSC, AND EEB; PLEASE PASS TO 
USTR:AMALITO/DOLIVER 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: CS ECON ETRD KIPR PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA (FINALLY) CLOSING IN ON CAFTA 
 
REF: SAN JOSE 593 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY:  CAFTA is nearing the finish line in Costa 
Rica.  Three implementing bills were completed during July. 
That will bring to eleven the total completed by the 
legislature , with only two (on amendments and IPR 
&catch-all8 issues) remaining.  The GOCR (and we) are 
confident these final items will become law by mid-September, 
and that relevant regulations will be completed then, if not 
sooner.  Pro-CAFTA legislators attribute the success to 
improved cooperation inside the G38 coalition, the 
willingness of independent legislators to keep things moving, 
and a tired opposition who wants to move beyond CAFTA.  Lest 
we sound too optimistic, we are also quietly making it very 
clear that the GOCR should not/not fiddle around with 
last-minute issues or rest on its laurels.  Even without 
further hiccups, the GOCR is not likely to finish all 
legislation and regulations until shortly before the 
(extended) October 1 EIF deadline.  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------------ 
ELEVEN DOWN, . . . 
------------------ 
 
2. (U) Since AUSTR Everett Eissenstat,s visit in late-June 
(Reftel), CAFTA implementing legislation has steadily moved 
ahead in the Asamblea, even beating the GOCR,s projected 
deadlines in some instances: 
 
-- The law opening the insurance market was approved on July 
1, signed by President Arias in a public ceremony on July 22, 
and only awaits publication in the national gazette to become 
law; 
 
-- The controversial IPR enforcement bill (Observancias) was 
approved on July 7 (without having to undergo a 2nd review by 
the Constitutional Court).  It is awaiting signature and 
publication; and 
 
-- The telecommunications bill was approved by the 
Constitutional Court on July 16, and approved by the required 
2nd Asamblea vote on July 29. 
 
This will bring to eleven the total number of implementation 
bills completed by the Asamblea, with three finished in July 
alone, a monthly record for the CAFTA process. 
 
---------------- 
. . . TWO TO GO. 
---------------- 
 
3.  (U) Two bills remain to be completed: 
 
-- The amendments bill, which was approved by first vote on 
July 22 and sent to the Constitutional Court for review on 
July 25.  (Court review is required in this case, since the 
amendments are modifying an international agreement.) 
Assuming no problems (and none are expected with this 
straight-forward legislation), the bill should be returned 
and approved by a 2nd vote in August; and 
 
-- The controversial and complex IPR &catch-all8 bill (No. 
12), which is under discussion in the Plenary.  Using double 
daily sessions to complete the 22 sessions permitted under 
applicable fast-track rules, and assuming that biodiversity 
issues added to this bill are completely acceptable (as we 
believe they are), the GOCR is aiming for a 1st vote by 
mid-August, in time for an (expected) Court review and 2nd 
vote by mid-September.  This bill is the &long pole8 in the 
CAFTA tent. 
 
-------------------------- 
THE COALITION IS CONFIDENT 
-------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU) Pro-CAFTA G38 coalition leaders sound as confident 
as we have ever heard them (and a bit relieved) that full 
CAFTA implementation seems close.  PLN faction chief Oscar 
Nunez and his PUSC counterpart Lorena Vasquez point to better 
cooperation among most coalition members, the availability 
and willingness of independent members (especially ex-PAC 
member Andrea Morales, now dating Nunez) to ensure that 
quorums are met and the bills keep moving, and a generally 
tired opposition who wants to move on.  Separately, PAC 
Faction Chief Francisco Molina acknowledged this last point 
to us.  In addition, meeting with the Ambassador on July 24, 
the editorial board of leading daily La Nacion underscored 
their confidence that CAFTA was virtually complete.  (They, 
in fact, optimistically predict that all remaining 
legislation may be done by the end of August.) 
 
5. (SBU) Nunez adds that even die-hard CAFTA-opponent and 
wily legislative tactician Jose Merino (of the hard left FA 
faction) had offered only a few motions to remaining 
legislation &just for show.8  Both Nunez and Vasquez point 
to intra-coalition problems as still troubling, particularly 
with the five-member Libertarian faction, but the group is 
cooperating at the moment.  Vasquez, who had expressed 
serious concerns during the AUSTR visit about biodiversity 
issues, is now satisfied with the agreements reached between 
USTR and the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX) on that issue. 
 She adds that COMEX cooperation with the Asamblea is much 
more fluid and effective now. 
 
6. (SBU) Vasquez and Nunez also well understand that the GOCR 
does not have until September 30 to complete its work and be 
certified for EIF by the October 1 deadline.  They are 
pushing their troops (and the Executive) to keep moving. 
Nunez opined that even the Constitutional Court may move a 
little faster, aware of the deadline.  He said he would 
encourage Minister of the Presidency Rodrigo Arias (whose 
office has extensive informal contacts with the Court) to 
urge swift review of both the pending bills.  The Amendments 
bill, for example, may take only 2-3 weeks for the Court to 
review (instead of the full 30 days permitted).  Both faction 
leaders note, however, that the IPR catch-all bill (a) will 
probably be sent to the Court for review, even though it is 
not technically required,  and (b) is complex and 
controversial enough to probably require a full 30-day review 
period. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7. (SBU) Lest all this sound uncharacteristically optimistic, 
we remind our readers that this saga ain,t quite over, but 
we are almost there.  The GOCR and pro-CAFTA legislators 
sound (and act) confident and the Asamblea has made (for 
them) extraordinary efforts (which we would love to see set a 
precedent for other important initiatives).  To have passed 
any thirteen bills, but especially the CAFTA thirteen, in 
&just8 ten months is a near-historic accomplishment for the 
Costa Rican legislature.  More importantly, even the 
opposition is tired and wants to move on to life post-CAFTA. 
We are convinced (at last) that CAFTA will be completed here. 
 However, we are quietly making it very clear that given the 
helpful USG position on the state guarantee issue affecting 
insurance (which has precluded the need for additional 
legislation), the GOCR should not/not fiddle around with 
other issues.  Even without further substantive hiccups, the 
GOCR is not likely to finish all legislation and regulations 
until September, in keeping with the Tico last-minute style. 
CIANCHETTE