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Cablegate: Costa Rica and Venezuela to Exchange New

VZCZCXYZ0016
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0484/01 1581927
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061927Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9817
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 1126

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 000484

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/AND, AND INR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/06/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR OFDP VZ CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA AND VENEZUELA TO EXCHANGE NEW
AMBASSADORS

Classified By: DCM Peter M. Brennan, Reason 1.4(d).

1. (U) On June 4, the Costa Rican Cabinet approved leftist
former presidential candidate Vladimir de la Cruz as the
GOCR's new Ambassador-designate to Venezuela. On June 5,
Alejandro Solano, MFA Deputy Director of Foreign Policy, told
us that he expected De la Cruz to arrive in Caracas "in a
couple of weeks." A brief bio of De la Cruz appears below.

2. (SBU) Solano added that the COGR had no problems with the
new Venezuelan Ambassador-designate to Costa Rica, who had
not been named publicly for protocol reasons, and that the
MFA hoped to formally accept his appointment as early as June
5. The Venezuelan Ambassador-designate replaced Jose Huerta
Castillo, whose appointment languished for months and was
ultimately not accepted by the GOCR due to a scandal
involving Huerta in Paraguay. Solano confirmed the BRV's
designate to be "a representative to an international
organization headquartered in the U.S."

3. (U) Begin biography of Vladimir de la Cruz:

Manuel Vladimir de la Cruz de Lemos
Costa Rican Ambassador to Venezuela

Age: 61 years
DOB: July 17, 1946

Background:

-- Dean of Social Science and Professor, Universidad
Nacional (leftist-leaning).
-- Three-time presidential candidate of Fuerza Democratica
Party (socialist) in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
-- Candidate for National Assembly, 2002 and 2006.
-- Advisor, National Assembly, 1998-2002.
-- Political affiliations: Frente de Accion Universitaria
(1967-1972); Partido Socialista (1973-1980); Fuerza
Democratica (since 1996).
-- Historian, academic and researcher, Universidad Nacional
and Universidad de Costa Rica.
-- Director of the "Work Studies Institute" (IESTRA, Spanish
acronym), Universidad Nacional.

Education:

-- Bachelor's in Law, graduate degree in History,
Universidad de Costa Rica.

Additional:

-- De la Cruz describes himself as "progressive, democrat
and leftist."

Personal:

-- Married to Anabelle Picado.
-- Four children: Yalena (commentator for La Nacion
newspaper), Lautaro, Presbere and Tupac Amaru.

End Bio.

4. (C) COMMENT: De la Cruz's appointment is somewhat
puzzling. By background and inclination, he may be
sympathetic to the BRV's outlook and initiatives. On the
other hand, the Arias administration has kept its distance
from Chavez, with President Arias himself publicly
criticizing the Venezuelan leader on more than one occasion.
So why appoint De La Cruz? We speculate that Arias may be
looking to improve Costa Rican-Venezuelan relations (or at
least reduce frictions) in order to position himself at some
point to moderate Venezuelan tensions with the region. Arias
has periodically "offered his services" in this regard in
conversations with visiting USG officials. Entering the last
half of his administration, the Nobel Prize winner may also
be looking to play a larger role in regional and global
politics, his well-known and long-time passion. Domestically,
Arias has also been accused of abandoning his "socialist"
roots, and appointing De la Cruz may be one way the president
can burnish his leftist intellectuals, now that the bruising
domestic political debate over CAFTA-DR is almost over.

In his younger days, De la Cruz was a firebrand leftist who
advocated revolutionary causes, but he appears to have
mellowed over time. In a June 6 interview with "La Republica"
newspaper, De la Cruz said that while he still considers
himself a socialist, "I've matured and (now) understand that
the development of a revolution in Costa Rica can only be
done through democratic means, using the mechanisms that the

Constitution provides." It remains to be seen what impact De
la Cruz can and will actually have, however. When asked by a
radio interviewer what he hopes to achieve during his term as
Ambassador, De la Cruz replied, "I don't know."
CIANCHETTE

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