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Viewing cable 09SANJOSE1098, COSTA RICA: POLICE EQUIPMENT DONATION TO QUEPOS MUNCIPALITY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09SANJOSE1098 2009-12-04 17:05 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
VZCZCXYZ0011
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #1098/01 3381806
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041750Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0093
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CCGDELEVEN ALAMEDA CA
RHMFISS/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUMIAGH/COMJTF-B SIMS SOTO CANO HO
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001098 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PPC, INL/LP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SNAR PREL PINR ASEC CASC CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: POLICE EQUIPMENT DONATION TO QUEPOS MUNCIPALITY 
 
1. (U) SUMMARY.  On November 23-24, we visited the city of Quepos 
on Costa Rica's Pacific coast to donate nearly $14,000 of police 
equipment as well as to conduct end-use monitoring of equipment 
previously donated to the coast guard station there.  Although the 
police equipment was not purchased with Merida Initiative funds, 
this donation certainly falls within the intent of the Merida 
Initiative to improve security in Central America.  Selecting 
Quepos as Post's pilot project for donating directly to a 
municipality improves security for Amcit residents and tourists and 
complements the city's active anti-crime efforts.  The event 
received positive radio and print media coverage.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
 
-------------------------------------- 
 
EARLY QUEPOS CHRISTMAS: "HAPPIEST DAY" 
 
-------------------------------------- 
 
 
 
2. (U) On November 23, Post's INL office donated nearly $14,000 of 
police equipment, including items such as uniforms, vests, 
holsters, GPSs, and night vision equipment to the municipal police 
of Quepos in the municipality of Aguirre.  This donation, made 
possible in part thanks to an agreement between the city of Quepos 
and the Costa Rican Ministry of Public Security, marks the first 
time we have directly contributed to the security efforts of a 
local municipality.  Oscar Monge, the Mayor of Quepos, accepted the 
donation on behalf of the Quepos Municipal Police with great 
gratitude and enthusiasm. 
 
 
 
3. (U) One of the key players that made this donation possible was 
Harry Bodaan, a private American citizen who owns a local boutique 
hotel who has become deeply involved in improving security in 
Quepos.  He assisted in the liaison between the local government 
and the U.S. Embassy to arrange for the donation.  At the donation 
ceremony, Monge and city council president Osvaldo Zarate 
emphasized the longstanding need for better police equipment to 
improve citizen security.  Monge called the event "the happiest day 
of my life."  Political officer Robert Andrew detailed the contents 
of the police equipment donated and expressed the Embassy's 
expectation that the equipment would help improve security in 
Quepos. 
 
 
 
4. (U) Following the ceremony, the mayor led Post and media 
representatives on a tour of various Quepos sites in which his 
administration had significantly improved the level of security. 
Included in this tour were: 
 
 
 
 -- a newly-constructed public park situated on a small peninsula, 
built on the site of a former discotheque where drugs used to be 
dealt; 
 
 
 
 -- a street alongside Manuel Antonio Beach (popular among Amcits) 
that used to be filled with vendors who sold everything from beads 
to drugs, and was once the site of five to six assaults per day, 
has not seen a violent assault in four months; and 
 
 
 
 -- a centrally-located parking lot under construction that used to 
be a dirt parking lot occupied by unlicensed taxis and drug 
dealers.  The revenue from the lot will raise funds for the Quepos 
municipal police force. 
 
 
 
----------------------- 
 
POSITIVE MEDIA COVERAGE 
 
----------------------- 
 
5. (U) Several national media representatives accompanied us and 
local officials at the donation ceremony and various site visits 
throughout the day.  Radio Colombia, a nationally syndicated radio 
network and The Tico Times, Costa Rica's only English-language 
print weekly, interviewed both the mayor and Poloff.  Poloff 
underscored the partnership between the "public-private-public" 
(Mayor's office/Bodaan/Embassy)sectors that made the donation 
possible. 
 
 
 
---------------------------------------- 
 
END-USE MONITORING OF QUEPOS COAST GUARD 
 
---------------------------------------- 
 
 
 
6. (U) On November 24, Poloff conducted end-use monitoring (EUM) of 
previously donated coast guard equipment at Quepos.  INL built a 
coast guard barracks and operations center as well as donated six 
boats and other support equipment eight years ago.  All of the 
boats and equipment were accounted for; however, none of the boats 
were in operating condition (and have not been since 2003). 
 
 
 
7. (SBU) During the EUM, we noted the construction status of Marina 
Pez Vela, a private marina mostly funded by retired American 
businessmen, and confirmed that two slips had been donated to the 
coast guard to berth two operational boats.  During a short ride on 
a 36-foot patrol boat, the coast guard shared information with us 
about narco-trafficking activities along the coast and their 
efforts to interdict trafficking in the area.  The boat that we 
rode in, named the Rio Naranjo, has three 200 h.p. engines and was 
seized from drug traffickers in June 2008.  With a top speed of 
40-45 knots, it now serves as one of the coast guard's primary 
vessels for intercepting drug runners along the Quepos area of the 
Pacific coast. 
 
 
 
8. (SBU) While aboard the Rio Naranjo, the coast guard showed us 
the site of a particularly dangerous drug pursuit in September. 
Near the mouth of the Rio Damas River, where suspected drug-running 
vessels frequently hide, the coast guard boat in pursuit of one of 
these vessels capsized and two crew members drowned.  The coast 
guard also showed us a small air strip on the coast where they 
believe drug traffickers frequently transfer from their cargo from 
"go-fasts" onto small airplanes to be shipped further north.  The 
Quepos coast guard has taken some measures to better patrol the 
area and prevent shipments from leaving by air, but according to 
the coast guard there is little coordination between them and the 
drug control police (PCD) or any other law enforcement agency to 
maximize effectiveness of the operations. 
 
 
 
------- 
 
COMMENT 
 
------- 
 
 
 
9. (SBU) Selecting Quepos as Post's pilot project for donating 
directly to a municipality directly promotes both USG security 
interests as well as improving security for resident and tourist 
Amcits.  We estimate that hundreds, if not thousands, of Amcits are 
permanent residents in the Quepos area with hundreds of thousands 
of Amcits tourists visiting every year.  During the high volume 
holiday season, the security of tourist areas is a crucial concern. 
 
 
 
 
10. (U) Attachments include some photos of the donation ceremony, 
 
vessel Rio Naranjo in Marina Pez Vela, and a donation document 
completely listing the police equipment donated. 
BRENNAN