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Cablegate: Costa Rica: Title Iii Suspension of the Libertad

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0438/01 1441714
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231714Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9760
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000438

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ETTC PREL CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: TITLE III SUSPENSION OF THE LIBERTAD
ACT

REF: A. STATE 52541
B. 07 SAN JOSE 1061

1. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias remains one of the
region's leading critics of the Castro government and a
strong advocate for democratic change and human rights
reforms in Cuba. Costa Rica shows no signs that it would
consider re-establishing diplomatic relations with the Castro
government, which were severed in 1961. The USG should
encourage and bolster Costa Rica's continued support for
democracy in Cuba. Suspending Title III of the Libertad Act
in regard to Costa Rica remains in the USG national interest.

2. Costa Rica's pointed criticism of the Cuban administration
has continued throughout the past six months. President
Arias has publicly stated that "a substantial change" in Cuba
is not possible until Fidel Castro's death. He has also
characterized the changes in Cuba since the transition of
power to Raul Castro as merely "cosmetic." President Arias'
public statements are consistent with his long history of
support for democratic change and human rights reforms in
Cuba.

3. The following responses are keyed to Ref A questions:

A) Costa Rica continues to be one of the region's leading
critics of the Castro government and a strong advocate for
democratic change and human rights reforms in Cuba. For
instance, on May 20, 2008, the Costa Rican Committee for
Solidarity with Democracy in Cuba and the International
Committee for Democracy in Cuba hosted a forum on Cuba.
Participants included a former ex-president of Costa Rica, a
current Costa Rican deputy, an ex-deputy, a Czech diplomat in
Costa Rica, and a former Cuban political prisoner.

The May 20, 2008 forum highlighted Costa Rica's commitment to
freedom and democracy and its criticism of Cuba's abysmal
record on human rights. Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez,
President of Costa Rica from 1982 to 1986 and a member of
President Arias' National Liberation Party (PLN), spoke of
"communist occupation" in Cuba. He referred to the
"communist dictatorship" of the Castro regime while
expressing Costa Rica's solidarity with the Cuban people.

Deputy Jose Manuel Echandi mentioned that the small group of
protesters assembled outside of the forum venue would have
been imprisoned in Cuba for publicly expressing their
dissenting opinions. Ivan Dubovicky, a Czech diplomat in
Costa Rica, commented that Cuba's repression of its people is
similar to the situation in Czechoslovakia prior to 1989.
Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez, a former Cuban political prisoner,
spoke of his own personal experience of hardship under the
Castro regime.

The May 20, 2008 forum was a good example of Costa Rica's
strong commitment to democracy and human rights in Cuba.
This commitment extends broadly across the various Costa
Rican political parties.

B) The Costa Rican government has continued to make public
statements in support of democracy in Cuba. On February 19,
2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement in
which it reaffirmed Costa Rica's "support for the democratic
desire of the Cuban people." Recent public statements by
President Arias also support genuine democratic change in
Cuba (see paragraph 2).

C) Post is not aware of any high-level diplomatic visits
between Cuba and Costa Rica in the past six months.

D) Post is not aware of any Costa Rican business investments
in Cuba.

E) Post is not aware of any bilateral trade agreements
between Costa Rica and Cuba.

F) Post is not aware of any exchange programs between Costa
Rica and Cuba. A limited number of Costa Rican students have
accepted scholarships to study medicine and film in Cuba, but
Post is not aware of any formal exchange or scholarship
programs between Cuban and Costa Rican universities. Post is
unaware of any Costa Ricans who have traveled to Cuba for
medical treatment, given the availability of publicly
subsidized health care in Costa Rica. Post estimates that
there are roughly hundreds of Cuban doctors working in Costa
Rica, either in private practices or with Costa Rican
hospitals. For example, some provide radiological treatment
at Hospital Mexico in San Jose. Many of these doctors fled
Cuba for greater political and economic freedom in Costa
Rica. Many of these doctors eventually naturalize as Costa

Rican citizens.
BRENNAN

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