Cablegate: Costa Rica - Nomination for Secretary's Award For
PP RUEHAO RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT
RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHSJ #0855/01 3041522
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P 301522Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0223
INFO RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SAN JOSE 000855
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN, G/IWI AND PASS TO AID/OTI (RPORTER).
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KWMN PHUM KPAO CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA - NOMINATION FOR SECRETARY'S AWARD FOR
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN OF COURAGE
REF: SECSTATE 99729
1. (U) Embassy San Jose is pleased to nominate Mariliana Morales
Berros for the Secretary's Award for International Women of
Courage, per reftel.
2. (U) Nominee: Mariliana Morales Berros.
3. (U) Title and Institution: Founder and Executive Director of the
Rahab Foundation (Fundacisn Rahab).
4. (U) Date of Birth: December 25, 1956.
5. (SBU) Contact Information: Phone: (506)2257-7785 or
(506)2222-1054; mobile (506) 8858-0589; personal email -
6. (SBU) Passport Number and Citizenship: 8.011.896-1, Chile.
7. (SBU) Personal Background: Mariliana Morales was born in the
northern Chilean Atacama desert. She is married to Chilean Tomas
Goi Cortes, and they have three children. While she lived in Chile,
her boyfriend at the time (now her husband) became a political
prisoner at age 16. When he was freed from prison, the two married
and left Chile for Costa Rica in search of a better life. They
arrived in February 1982. Mariliana studied Sociology and received
her masters degree in Social Work from the University of Costa
8. (U) Since 1997, Morales has steadfastly, and at times under
direct personal threat, built and maintained a faith-based framework
to help victims of commercial sexual exploitation and their
children. Her efforts have helped train and sensitize thousands of
judicial and law enforcement personnel to trafficking and sexual
exploitation issues, and more importantly, provided direct
assistance to hundreds of women and their families in San Jose, Jaco
and Limon, Costa Rica. Her Rahab Foundation is the leading NGO
working with international organizations, local embassies and the
GOCR to stop commercial sexual exploitation and related trafficking
in persons in Costa Rica. Morales has made an enormous, positive
impact on the way the GOCR deals with these issues, and on the
9. (U) After what Morales describes as an existential crisis that
led to her belief in God, she prayed to be shown a way in which she
could serve. In answer, she received a vision of the word
"prostitution" across the sky and knew she was meant to help empower
women who wanted to leave prositution. On November 12, 1997, she
created the Rahab Foundation (Fundacisn Rahab) by helping one woman.
Within a month, 30 victims of commercial sexual exploitation and
their children had sought her help. The Rahab Foundation consists
of Morales, two to three psychologists/social workers, and sometimes
volunteers to accomplish its mission.
10. (U) With the creation of the Rahab Foundation, Morales became a
pioneer in Costa Rica in assistance to victims of commercial sexual
exploitation - whether children, adolescents or women. Currently,
Rahab is also helping male victims of commercial sexual
exploitation, including transvestites. Morales' efforts have helped
these victims find a new life with their families.
11. (U) Morales' task has not been easy. She has struggled every
step of the way to find funding to keep the program going, often
operating only on faith that resources would appear. For example,
even when she could not pay salaries, she moved ahead with a new
$100,000 building project to provide facilities for vocational
training, daycare, and space where the program beneficiaries would
be able to run micro businesses, such as a hair salon. She and her
staff have been threatened and/or attacked for trying to help women
and children escape from their exploiters.
12. (U) Rahab assists victims through a socio-educational program
that provides spiritual attention, education, nutrition,
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psychological assistence and vocational training to the victims.
Morales created a job pool by networking with private companies,
thereby providing opportunities for reintegration and medical/legal
attention. (Social medical benefits are coordinated through
workplaces in Costa Rica). Rahab provides educational scholarships,
and victims can complete their primary school education at Rahab's
13. (U) Since its creation, Rahab has helped more than 600 families
with an average of 5 children each per single mother (for a total of
3000 persons served) in the San Jose area alone, and many more
oustide of San Jose. The organization has given 11 houses to
victims through a partnership with the Costa Rican government, and
it hopes to provide 44 more residences in the coming months - all
free to the recipients.
14. (U) Rahab developed two very important projects in rural areas
with USG funding - one in Limon and one in Jaco. Drugs,
prostitution and trafficking in persons are common crimes in these
two areas. In 2003, Mariliana instituted a pioneer two-year project
in the port city of Limon called "Prevention, Protection and Direct
Assistance to Child Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation." The
project, which served as a model for Central America, Panama and the
Dominican Republic, directly served 464 minors and their families;
it reached 3000 more indirectly.
15. (U) In addition, Rahab trained government institutions that
worked with children such as: the Child Welfare Agency (Patronato
Nacional de la Infancia, in Spanish), the Fuerza Pblica police, the
Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the federal
investigative police, indigenous communities, tourism companies,
judges and prosecutors, among others, on the topic of child sexual
exploitation. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of
Labor; management support for the grant was provided by the
International Labor Organization (ILO).
16. (U) From 2006 to 2008, Morales and Rahab ran a program called
"Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Victims and Potential
Victims of Trafficking in Persons in the Central Pacific Region" in
the seedy tourist area in and around Jaco. The program was funded
by State's G/TIP with management support from the International
Organization for Migration (IOM). This was a true pioneer project
in the country to assist both national and foreign victims of labor
and sexual exploitation.
17. (U) The project directly served 347 victims and their families,
and reached 5000 people in the community. As in the Limon project,
Morales implemented a "train the trainer approach" to teach the same
government institutions, local police and mayors, tourism companies
and minors about trafficking in persons, for a total of 5191
trained. During the Jaco project, Rahab filed several official
complaints against traffickers and sexual exploiters, leading to
threats and attacks against Morales and her staff.
18. (U) Since 2006, Morales has served as coordinator of the Latin
American and Caribbean International Christian Alliance on
Prostitution. In that capacity, Morales is organizing a conference
for March 2009 to train 150 organizational leaders and individuals
to work in the "restoration" of victims of commercial sexual
19. (U) For her outstanding work, Morales received the 1999 Gandhi
Foundation and Martin Luther King Foundation "Builder of
Non-Violence" award, and she is the two-time recipient of the Costa
Rican National Ombudsman's award for contributing to bettering the
lives of victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
20. (U) Embassy San Jose's contact is PolOff Cheryl Neely; phone:
506-2519-2256; email: NeelyCL@state.gov.