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Cablegate: Costa Rica Fully Supports Merida Initiative

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0063 0282308
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 282308Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9383
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUMIAGH/COMJTF-B SIMS SOTO CANO HO
RUEADAT/BUREAU OF ATF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUWDQAC/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DIRJIATF SOUTH
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000063

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PPC AND INL/LP
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR SNAR CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA FULLY SUPPORTS MERIDA INITIATIVE

REF: 07 SAN JOSE 2074 AND PREVIOUS (NOTAL)

1. (U) Despite the extremely short notice, the GOCR sent top
technical and law enforcement officials to El Salvador to
detail their security requirements at the January 17-18
SICA-sponsored Merida Initiative Validation Meeting. The
professional and business-like delegation, led by
Vice-Minister of the Presidency for Security Issues, Jose
Torres, expertly explained their primary security challenges
to the U.S. interagency-led meeting.

2. (U) The GOCR delegation gave detailed presentations on the
state of their coast guard, police equipment and
communications, strength of the rule of law and corruption,
border/port/aviation security issues, arms trafficking within
Costa Rica, and criminal information databases. VM Torres
also explained in detail the serious security challenges
facing Costa Rican law enforcement, including:

-- The rise of organized crime (mostly drug-related);
-- increased use of Costa Rica's territory and maritime
routes for drug smuggling;
-- sky-rocketing violent crime, with senior GOCR officials
themselves being victims; and
-- difficulties faced in border and port security issues.

3. (U) Closely echoing Post's security assessment in reftels,
Coast Guard engineer Adrian Delgado accurately described the
operational status of their fleet and validated their
maritime security assistance needs. Costa Rican Drug
Institute (ICD) Director Mauricio Boraschi gave a detailed
status of several security reform bills that were under
review in the national legislature. Judicial Police (OIJ)
Criminal Investigation Chief Gustavo Mata-Vega and Fuerza
Publica (FP) Subdirector Rigoberto Rodriguez listed police
equipment and communications needs. The GOCR delegation as a
whole highlighted the need for better truck, vehicle, and
container scanning capabilities at their various ports of
entry.

4. (U) The GOCR delegation reported to us that they were
impressed with and encouraged by the Merida Initiative
proposal and indicated that, if approved, it would
significantly upgrade Costa Rica's ability to combat
narcotrafficking and contribute to regional security in
Central America.

5. (U) GOCR participants:

-- Vice-Minister Jose Torres
-- Costa Rican Drug Institute (ONDCP equivalent) Director
Mauricio Boraschi
-- Costa Rican Coast Guard Engineer Adrian Delgado
-- Criminal Investigation Chief for the Judicial Police
Gustavo Mata-Vega
-- Fuerza Publica (regular police) Subdirector Rigoberto
Rodriguez

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOCR's security apparatus, as
highlighted by their positive role in this conference, is
under new management. They are energetic, professional, and
active participants in our joint CN efforts, and increasingly
willing to support regional initiatives. Since the Arias
administration came to power in May 2006, the GOCR, with some
USG assistance, has seized over 55 tons of cocaine, a record
amount. Now is the time to deepen our security relationship
with Costa Rica, especially in the critical INL-supported
portion of our CN program. The Ticos are willing to play;
some tangible USG assistance will strengthen our bilateral
relationship, enhance regional security, and increase drug
interdiction in this strategic crossroads of narcotrafficking.
BRENNAN

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