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Cablegate: Costa Rica: May 21 Day of Solidarity with Cuban

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0432 1440043
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230043Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9757
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000432

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PD AND WHA/CCA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL SOCI KDEM KPAO CU CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: MAY 21 DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH CUBAN
PEOPLE WRAP-UP

REF: A. STATE 45792
B. STATE 46997
C. STATE 51536
D. SAN JOSE 406

1. The Costa Rican National Assembly, local media, Post and
others observed the Day of Solidarity with Cuban People on
May 20-21. Post contacted key representatives from each of
these groups in the lead-up to May 21 and suggested possible
commemorative activities and statements. Post also provided
the communications director of the ruling PLN faction
(Adriana Nunez) with guidance and talking points to use in
preparing the interventions of the six parliamentarians. A
wrap-up of activities follows:

-- During the National Assembly's plenary session on May 21,
six prominent Assembly members, including two heads of
faction, called on the Castro regime to respect the Cuban
people's human rights and freedom of speech. Public TV
Channel 26 televised the remarks live. The six members were:
Oscar Nunez Calvo, chief of the governing National Liberation
Party (PLN) faction; Ovidio Aguero Acuna, head of the
Libertarian Movement (ML); Federico Tinoco Carmona and
Fernando Sanchez Campos, both of the PLN; and Independents
Evita Arguedas and Jose Manuel Echandi Meza.

-- Ex-president Luis Alberto Monge, on behalf of the
International Committee for Democracy in Cuba and along with
the Costa Rican Committee for Solidarity with Democracy in
Cuba, organized a forum on May 20 at the Journalists
Association entitled, "Cuba, Current Reality, Freedom of
Expression, Commitment of International Solidarity and
Respect for Human Rights." Nine speakers including
ex-president Monge, former Cuban political prisoner (and
Miami resident) Ernesto Diaz, Assembly member Jose Manuel
Echandi, a representative of the local Cuban community, and
the Czechoslovakian Counselor urged democratic reforms.
Representatives from Post attended.

-- On May 21, the Libertarian Movement held another
commemorative event with Ernesto Diaz and Cuban community
representatives.

-- Post successfully placed Jorge Olivera Castillo's op-ed
"Compas de Espera" in the May 21 issue of Diario Extra, Costa
Rica's leading daily with a circulation of 150,000. The
editors placed it prominently in the Opinion Section,
reported the author's email address, and noted that he was an
independent journalist and former prisoner of conscience
sentenced to 18 years in March 2003 and released in December
2004 for health reasons.

-- On May 21, Ricardo Zamora, host of the leading radio talk
show "In Focus" on Radio Eco, interviewed Libertarian
Movement National Assembly member Mario Quiros. Quiros
underscored Costa Rica's diplomatic efforts to nudge the
Castro regime towards democracy.

-- Post featured President Bush's and Secretary Rice's
statements on Cuban Solidarity prominently on our website.

2. Additionally, various labor groups, among them the
Independent Workers Movement of Cuba, paid homage to
ex-president Monge at an event on May 15, praising him for
his "work in defense of Cuban workers' rights."

3. Still planned is a May 27 observance of the theme by Jaime
Ordonez, a prominent intellectual and regional democracy
expert, on his Radio Universidad program "El Mundo en
Contacto" (The World in Contact).

4. Alberto Salom, representative from the opposition Citizen
Action Party (PAC), was the only legislator to denounce the
U.S. embargo during the May 21 plenary session. He called for
equally close scrutiny of human rights violations in other
countries, "including the U.S."
BRENNAN

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