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Viewing cable 09SANJOSE890, COSTA RICA: VISIT OF SOUTHCOM AMB. TRIVELLI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09SANJOSE890 2009-10-16 23:11 2011-03-08 16:04 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/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 #0890/01 2892312
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 162312Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1314
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DIRJIATF SOUTH  PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DIRJIATF SOUTH J3  PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 000890 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, ALSO FOR SOUTHCOM AMB. TRIVELLI 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MASS SNAR CS HO
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: VISIT OF SOUTHCOM AMB. TRIVELLI 
 
Classified By: CDA Peter M. Brennan for reason 1.4 (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  On October 6-7, SOUTHCOM Civilian Deputy 
Commander Ambassador Paul Trivelli visited Costa Rica and met 
with senior GOCR officials, including President Arias.  The 
consistent theme throughout Amb. Trivelli's visit was GOCR 
requests for further security-related assistance via the 
Merida Initiative, SOUTHCOM, or other funding sources.  On 
Honduras, President Arias told Amb. Trivelli he believed the 
visa revocations for top de facto government leaders were 
having an effect and added that even more visa sanctions 
might pressure the de factos to sign the San Jose Accord. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
---------------------------- 
MEETING WITH PRESIDENT ARIAS 
---------------------------- 
 
2. (C) In his meeting with President Arias and Minister of 
Public Security Janina Del Vecchio, Amb. Trivelli described 
how US SOUTHCOM had transformed over the past two years and 
that its relationship with Costa Rica had grown, especially 
in humanitarian assistance.  President Arias seemed satisfied 
with the increased cooperation and appreciated Amb. 
Trivelli's briefing on how SOUTHCOM was engaging with Latin 
America. 
 
3. (C) Turning to Honduras, President Arias believed that 
U.S. visa revocations of senior de facto government officials 
was having an affect.  He encouraged the USG to further its 
visa sanctions against some former Honduran presidents who 
were "siding" with Micheletti and four "well-known" 
businessmen involved with the June 28 removal of Zelaya from 
power.  Arias believed that further pressure on the de facto 
Honduran government might push them towards signing the San 
Jose Accord. 
 
-------------------------------- 
"WE NEED MORE DIRECT ASSISTANCE" 
-------------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Amb. Trivelli also met separately with Minister Del 
Vecchio and other senior officials from Costa Rica's Ministry 
of Public Security (MPS) to discuss strategic and 
counter-narcotics cooperation.  (MPS is charged with both 
domestic and national security as Costa Rica has no 
military.)  Del Vecchio highlighted the success of the 
USG-GOCR bilateral maritime agreement that has been largely 
responsible for successful narcotics interdiction efforts in 
Costa Rican waters.  She appreciated the role of the U.S. as 
a real partner in counternarcotics cooperation. 
 
5. (C) Del Vecchio requested additional USG security 
assistance in many areas including community policing, 
however, she specifically was seeking assistance in the 
following areas: 
 
 -- To participate in SOUTHCOM's possible Regional Aircraft 
Modernization Plan (RAMP) to modernize and perhaps obtain new 
aircraft for Costa Rica's Air Wing that is mostly focused on 
counter-drug, search and rescue, and air ambulance operations; 
 
 -- Receiving, via donation, older U.S. Coast Guard 110-foot 
patrol boats to eventually replace Costa Rica's aging three 
82-foot patrol boats (NOTE: via Merida FMF funding those 
82-foot patrol boats will be renovated/modernized.  END 
NOTE.); and 
 
 -- Creation of a police intelligence platform in terms of 
both infrastructure and technology. 
 
6. (C) One of Del Vecchio's operational commanders, Allan 
Solano of the Drug Control Police (PCD, a rough equivalent to 
the DEA), briefed Amb. Trivelli on increased drug-trafficking 
violence taking place in Costa Rica.  He said there was firm 
evidence that the Sinoloa Cartel was operating in Costa Rica 
and that most of the violence was between competing drug 
trafficking organizations (DTOs).  He also said that internal 
drug consumption amongst Costa Ricans was increasing and that 
Costa Rica no longer was just a "drug transit" country. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
NATIONAL LEGISLATORS: MORE ASSISTANCE PLEASE 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
7. (SBU) During a meeting with Costa Rican national 
legislators from their counter-narcotics and public security 
committees, lawmakers echoed what Amb. Trivelli heard from 
MPS regarding the need for further security assistance. 
Evita Arguedas, an independent, told us that Costa Rica 
needed increased Merida Initiative assistance to roll back 
the tide of crime.  She also highlighted that cooperation 
between Costa Rica's various police forces (over 10 in total, 
depending on jurisdiction/mission) needed to cooperate more 
smoothly and be less "stove-piped."  Luis Barrantes, from 
Libertarian Movement (ML), said that after neglecting 
security issues for nearly 30 years, Costa Rica was far 
behind but that the solution to the problem must be a "whole" 
approach and not in any one area alone. 
 
8. (C) When Amb. Trivelli asked if there was a clear 
"national security plan" in Costa Rica, legislators clearly 
agreed that development of one would better focus their 
efforts and provide overall "vision" to the country.  The 
Ambassador linked successful development and investment in 
the country with firm commitments to security by the GOCR. 
 
9. (SBU) We asked legislators if they would consider 
extending USN/USCG ship visit permissions from six months to 
one year.  They said it would probably be better and 
positively received by most legislators but asked that the 
USG provide them a briefing on the effectiveness vis-a-vis 
narcotics/law enforcement cooperation of the ship visits. 
 
10. (SBU) Legislators expressed concern about the recent 
opening here, by the Venezuelan Embassy, of so-called "bases 
of peace."  Seen by most in the media as an effort to counter 
the "spread" of "U.S." bases in Colombia, most called the 
action a provocation and would be asking the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs to find out more information.  (NOTE: Amb. 
Trivelli also raised this issue with President Arias, who 
expressed his concern over the "bases de paz" and 
subsequently made public statements instructing the foreign 
ministry to investigate thoroughly whether these were in 
compliance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Missions. 
 END NOTE.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
CID-GALLUP: ONE IN FOUR PER HOUSEHOLD VICTIMS OF CRIME 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
11. (SBU) In a meeting with Carlos Denton of CID-Gallup and 
some members of the security committee of the local Amcham, 
briefers detailed the public's prevailing sense of domestic 
insecurity in Costa Rica.  According to polling done by 
CID-Gallup over the past four months, one in four persons in 
each household in Costa Rica has been a crime victim, 
typically from assault or robbery.  Figures similar to these 
are reflected throughout Central America per the polling. 
This clearly demonstrates, said Denton, that "crime in 
Central America is a real problem, it is not perception." 
 
12. (SBU) On drug consumption, Denton told us that getting 
accurate data from respondents was difficult since few people 
would admit to drug use openly.  For example, he said that 
when the question is asked directly, only about 3 percent of 
people would admit to using drugs; however, when asked "do 
you know someone who uses drugs?" the response was higher at 
around 14 percent. 
 
13. (SBU) On possible ways Amcham/CID-Gallup could help the 
GOCR in its security efforts, Amb. Trivelli suggested that: 
 
 -- When large U.S. companies visit Costa Rica, they should 
emphasize how important security is to economic prosperity 
and try to seek appointments with senior members of the GOCR, 
including President Arias; 
 
 -- Amcham might be able to assist the Ministry of Public 
Security with their community policing program; 
 
 -- Support drug/substance abuse education efforts; and 
 
 -- Do a new drug abuse survey to roughly determine number of 
drug users/abusers in Costa Rica to better define the problem. 
 
---------------- 
MEDIA INTERVIEWS 
---------------- 
 
14. (U) During his visit to Costa Rica, Amb. Trivelli had a 
successful round of media interviews including exclusives 
with La Nacion (most respected Costa Rican daily), Radio 
Colombia (center-right station), and Channel 11, one of the 
major national television networks.  Following his meeting 
with President Arias, Amb. Trivelli was interviewed by 
Channel 7.  He also received additional media coverage by the 
Tico Times, a weekly English language newspaper and with A.M. 
Costa Rica, an online English language paper. 
 
15. (U) During his interviews, Amb. Trivelli highlighted 
bilateral initiatives over the past year, including: MEDRETEs 
and other humanitarian projects, plans to build a new Costa 
Rican Coast Guard Academy, and projects aimed to combat drug 
trafficking such as the installation of a communications 
platform in Cerro Azul, Costa Rica. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
16. (C) The clear message received by Amb. Trivelli's visit 
to Costa Rica was GOCR requests for further security 
cooperation and assistance.  Though refraining from being 
critical on the relatively small amount of assistance that 
Costa Rica is receiving in comparison to Mexico or the war in 
Iraq as he has been in the past, President Arias asked for 
further assistance and seemed truly grateful for USG security 
cooperation.  Post believes that targeted assistance in 
police professionalization, including community policing, and 
further maritime assistance would benefit both Costa Rica and 
the U.S. in addressing domestic insecurity issues and 
interdicting drug trafficking. 
BRENNAN