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Cablegate: U.S. Army Engineers Build Costa Rican Bridge

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0551 1772050
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 252050Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9888
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000551

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN AND WHA/PPC, OSD FOR A/S STEVE JOHNSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MASS PGOV SOCI CS
SUBJECT: U.S. ARMY ENGINEERS BUILD COSTA RICAN BRIDGE

REF: A. SAN JOSE 071

B. SAN JOSE 401
C. SAN JOSE 003

1. (U) Following up on an official GOCR request, from June
18-22 five U.S. Army engineers built a Bailey-type metal
bridge just south of Quepos, Costa Rica, over the Guabo
River. The SOUTHCOM-allocated engineers also re-surveyed
bridges and/or bridging sites located throughout the country
that had been inspected last December (Ref A) as a result of
devastating floods in October 2007. The new surveys and
actual bridge construction come in the immediate aftermath of
the effects of Tropical Storm Alma in mid-May. Using
GOCR-supplied materials, the engineers worked hand-in-hand
with two CNE (Costa Rica's FEMA-equivalent) engineers and
local workers to construct the Guabo bridge, passing along
valuable bridge-building techniques and best practices.

2. (U) As a result of flooding from Tropical Storm Alma, four
local Costa Ricans (including two children) were killed
trying to cross the old bridge over the Guabo River. The new
Bailey-type bridge, 34 meters long, increases the height of
the bridge by almost two meters and will allow light vehicles
to cross the river such as cars, pick-ups and buses. The new
bridge will directly (and positively) affect the lives of
nearly 4000 Costa Ricans in this community.

3. (U) The CNE engineers who worked with our SOUTHCOM
engineers told us they learned a lot and appreciated the
training. One of them, Jorge Fallas, said that this was the
first time they had any instruction or practice in the
construction of a Bailey-type bridge and would use that
knowledge to construct further bridges in Costa Rica.

4. (U) The Ambassador visited the Guabo bridge site on June
20 and was interviewed by reporters from the leading daily La
Nacion and from television channels 6 and 13. The print
interview appeared on June 21 and the television coverage on
June 23. Media coverage referenced other successful SOUTHCOM
humanitarian assistance projects, such as last December's
medical readiness exercise (Ref B) and May's suspension
bridge material airlift (Ref C) in the Talamanca area. All
of the reporting was positive and highlighted the benefit of
Costa Rican-U.S. teamwork to the local communities.

5. (U) Although not yet scheduled, the SOUTHCOM engineers
plan to return to Costa Rica later this year to assist in the
construction of further Bailey-type bridges located in the
communities of Santa Rosa, Perez Zeledon; Volcan, Puntarenas,
and Sapoa, Guanacaste.

=======
COMMENT
=======

6. (SBU) As noted, this bridge construction and new surveys
came in the wake of a specific GOCR request for U.S. military
assistance for humanitarian projects, and are another in the
series of our recent joint efforts. The construction of the
Guabo bridge clearly demonstrates the continued willingness
of Costa Rica to engage with our military-supplied assets.

7. (SBU) By using soft military power, the construction of
this Bailey-type bridge directly contributed to furthering
two of our four Mission Strategic Plan goals for Costa Rica:
investing in people and promoting prosperity. Post thanks
SOUTHCOM for its support and specifically the five U.S. Army
engineers for their valuable work. They worked very hard in
hot, tropical jungle conditions and put forth a positive
image of the U.S. government and military.
CIANCHETTE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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