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Viewing cable 08SANJOSE829, SEVENTH COSTA RICA-NICARAGUA BINATIONALS: MORE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08SANJOSE829 2008-10-20 15:03 2011-03-08 16:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2704388.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2704402.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2704436.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2705536.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0829/01 2941516
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201516Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0198
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 000829 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN. 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV ENVI PBTS KTIP SENV CS NU
SUBJECT: SEVENTH COSTA RICA-NICARAGUA BINATIONALS: MORE 
TALK, LITTLE SUBSTANCE 
 
Classified By: DCM Peter M. Brennan for reason 1.4(d). 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Seventh Binational Commission Meeting 
between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, held on October 3 in San 
Jose, produced 20 "accords" but little substance.  Most 
agenda items in the final document simply called for further 
dialogue.  Of note, however, Costa Rica agreed to grant high 
school diplomas to illegal Nicaraguan immigrants; Nicaragua 
agreed to finalize a plan to protect virgin ecological 
reserves on the Eastern side of the border; and the two 
countries agreed to a new software program to map their 
shared border and to facilitate the addition of more border 
markers.  Absent was the topic of Costa Rican navigation 
rights on the Rio San Juan; written arguments have been 
presented to the International Court of Justice, with 
hearings to be held next Spring and a final decision to be 
announced later in 2009.  MFA interlocutors expressed doubt 
at achieving much progress in other areas, including securing 
the border against illegal immigration. END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) On October 7, we met with Sergio Ugalde and Arnoldo 
Brenes, MFA special advisors for Nicaraguan issues, who 
walked us through the various binational accords.  Most 
notable was an agreement from the Costa Rican Ministry of 
Education (MEP) to grant certificates of completion 
(including diplomas) to illegal Nicaraguan students 
progressing through the Costa Rican educational system. 
Before, when a student completed his/her education, the MEP 
could not grant a diploma because the student in an irregular 
immigration status lacked an official Costa Rican identity 
card, or cedula.  Under the agreement, the MEP would now 
accept a "proof of identity" letter from the Nicaraguan 
Embassy in order to provide school documents to children at 
various grade levels.  The agreement made clear that the 
identity documents would be used only for the MEP's 
administrative purposes and would not indicate a regularized 
status. 
 
3. (U) Officials from the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment 
and Energy (MINAE) and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Environment 
and Natural Resources (MARENA) presented agreements to pursue 
common projects under the Binational Strategic Environmental 
Plan within the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and 
Flora.  Nicaragua also agreed to present its plan for the 
"establishment and operation" of national ecological 
corridors within the still-virgin forests along the shared 
border. 
 
4. (U) MFA contacts hailed a letter of intent between the 
Costa Rican National Geographic Institute and the Nicaraguan 
Institute of Territorial Analysis to use the same 
"geospatial" mapping software as an important step toward 
harmonizing the coordinates of new border markers.  Adding 
more markers would better delineate the physical border on 
the ground. 
 
5. (SBU) The eighth agreement in the final document calls for 
both countries to strengthen border controls "with a view to 
eliminating smuggling" (and trafficking, the MFA told us) in 
persons.  Ugalde and Brenes expressed extreme skepticism, 
however, that Nicaragua had any real intention to re-enforce 
its borders or to discourage its citizens from entering 
illegally into Costa Rica, where more economic opportunity 
exists. 
 
6. (SBU) Nicaragua only agreed to "continue to study" Costa 
Rica's request for reciprocity in visa policies.  The GOCR 
Directorate of Immigration has a non-immigrant visa category 
that allows aliens from countries for which a Costa Rican 
visa is required (such as Nicaragua) to enter without a visa 
if they hold full-validity U.S., Schengen (most EU 
countries), or Canadian visas.  Nicaragua has been unwilling 
to abdicate its "sovereign authority" by pegging its 
non-immigrant visa policy to the visa criteria of other 
countries.  Ugalde and Brenes suggested that Costa Rica may 
therefore drop Nicaragua from the list of countries whose 
citizens enjoy this benefit. 
 
7. (U) Agreements to explore municipal exchanges, to improve 
the health of those living in border communities, 
to expand cultural exchanges, and to expand cooperation in 
the tourism industries were also included.  The complete 
text of the GOCR MFA's press release, which included the 
final document and all 20 accords, can be found at the 
MFA's Web site:  www.rree.go.cr. 
 
8. (C) COMMENT:  Ugalde and Brenes described Nicaraguan 
cooperation as less than forthcoming.  The GOCR had to 
propose several dates and pursue the Nicas to get them to 
 
commit to holding this meeting.  While the bilateral meetings 
-- 
which have been on-again, off-again since 1994 -- have been 
important to the Arias administration as a show of improving 
relations between neighbors (and to some extent as a safety 
valve to release some of the historic tension between the two 
countries), the meetings continue to produce more talk than 
substance. END COMMENT. 
CIANCHETTE