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Viewing cable 09SANJOSE772, COSTA RICA: MERIDA SPOT REPORT #1: POLICE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09SANJOSE772 2009-09-09 15:03 2011-03-08 16:04 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/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2702324.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702325.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702326.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-06/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2702327.aspx
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0772/01 2521514
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091514Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1195
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000772 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PPC AND INL/LP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PINR SNAR CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: MERIDA SPOT REPORT #1: POLICE 
EQUIPMENT VALIDATION AND MERIDA IT VISIT 
 
REF: ANDREW/AHERN EMAIL 9 SEPTEMBER 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: From August 26-28, Merida Information 
Technology (IT) Representative Frank Swain visited Post and 
host nation law enforcement authorities to validate Costa 
Rica's Merida Initiative-related communications/police 
equipment requests.  We also validated the police equipment 
list that various Ministry of Public Security departments had 
provided us for purchase under the Merida Initiative.  A list 
of meeting participants is at end of the cable.  This message 
also includes a summary of Merida Initiative-related events 
that have taken or will take place this quarter.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) The following Merida Initiative-related events have 
taken place/will take place between July and September: 
 
 -- June 19, signing of FY08 Merida Letter of Agreement with 
Costa Rica; 
 
 -- August 26-28, visit of Merida IT Representative Frank 
Swain and validation of GOCR police equipment list; 
 
 -- August 31-September 4, visit of FBI Central American 
Fingerprint Exchange (CAFE) team (septel); and 
 
 -- September 28-October 2, visit of Prison Management expert 
Don Stolworthy. 
 
------------------- 
MERIDA IT EVALUATED 
------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) From August 26-28, Frank Swain visited Post to 
assess Merida Initiative information technology requirements 
of Costa Rica.  We discussed the communications requirements 
of the Ministry of Public Security's (MPS) uniformed police 
(FP) with Vice Minister Chacon, MPS Communication Director 
Tobias Gutierrez, and FP Deputy Director Kattia Chavarria. 
The majority of MPS's communications requirements are 
handheld radios, such as Motorola type XTS-5000.  Gutierrez 
and Chavarria underlined the need to have effective and 
continuous communications along their borders with Nicaragua 
and Panama.  They acknowledged that their current radio 
communications between the border posts and San Jose were 
poor, and often relied on landline or wireless phone. 
Gutierrez hoped that by the end of this calendar year their 
radio system would be fully digitized (upgraded from analog). 
 With this meeting, we validated their radio equipment needs. 
 However, VM Chacon requested that her staff review and 
provide specific communications requirements (or 
specifications) for their handheld radio requests. 
 
4. (SBU) We also visited MPS's local communications 
maintenance facility where they repair their radio 
communication equipment, including what the USG has provided 
in the past.  Communications chief Gutierrez relayed to us 
that of the dozens of radios that they have received from the 
USG in the past 20 years, only five are completely unusable. 
He also indicated that they needed updated testing equipment 
(spectrum analyzers) and laptops (for radio programming) for 
each of their technicians.  This was especially true if the 
USG was going to provide a significant increase in the number 
of radios it would be supporting. 
 
------------------------------- 
POLICE EQUIPMENT LIST VALIDATED 
------------------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) We also met with a broader group of MPS law 
enforcement entities to validate their thorough and 
comprehensive police equipment list.  With some minor 
exceptions, we validated all of the equipment requests from 
the Costa Rican Air Wing, the Drug Control Police (PCD), the 
Coast Guard, and the FP.  We emailed a Post-consolidated 
police equipment list to INL Ahern and Swain (ref email). 
However, we expect to receive soon an updated list from the 
FP as we asked that they concentrate their requests on "big 
ticket" items rather than more expendable requests such as 
uniforms.  Examples of some of the big ticket items include: 
 
 -- Handheld radios; 
 
 -- armored helmets (kevlar-type); 
 
 -- laptop computers; 
 
 
 -- command post vehicles; 
 
 -- night vision goggles; 
 
 -- bulletproof vests; and 
 
 -- fiber-optic drug detection kits. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
POLICE EQUIPMENT ALREADY ORDERED; MORE ORDERS COMING 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
6. (SBU) Post has already begun its police equipment ordering 
process.  To date, we have ordered three "Contraband Team 
Inspection Kits" (better known as fiber-optic and "buster" 
kits) and one specialized GPS for the PCD.  With the police 
equipment list validation by Post, along with Mr. Swain's IT 
visit, we will continue our ordering process.  We expect to 
spend the FY08 Merida funds within the next three to six 
months on these big ticket items as listed.  Upon receipt of 
the FY09 Merida funds, we will continue to fund the purchase 
of this validated police equipment list. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7. (SBU) Post views the Merida IT visit and the validation of 
Costa Rica's police equipment list as a great success.  VM 
Chacon agreed with us and appreciated the opportunity to meet 
with some of the newly arrived members of our law enforcement 
team.  We clearly communicated to the Costa Ricans that the 
Merida Initiative and its subprograms such as police 
equipment modernization/improvement were being carefully 
scrutinized by the USG and Congress.  We underscored that 
maintenance of donated items was vitally important.  Having 
viewed their radio workshop, we have confidence that they 
take communications maintenance seriously and believe that 
they will be good end-users of these items. 
 
8. (U) Merida IT Representative Frank Swain cleared this 
cable. 
 
List of Costa Rican participants: 
 
Vice Minister Marcela Chacon 
Vice Minister Oldemar Madrigal 
Martin Arias, Coast Guard Director 
Kattia Chavarria, Deputy Director, FP 
Captain Alex Romero, Air Wing 
Juan Jose Arevalo, Deputy Director, PCD 
Tobias Gutierrez, MPS Communications Chief 
Warner Villalta, Communications technician 
Gerardo Martinez, Communications technician 
 
List of USG participants: 
 
Frank Swain, INL 
Brian Wilson, CDA 
Robert Andrew, POL/NAO 
Julie Schechter Torres, POL/ECON Counselor 
Phil Springer, DEA Attache 
Federico Silva, Milgrp Commander 
Wade DeWitt, RSO 
 
BRENNAN