Search

 

Cablegate: Costa Rica: American Business Leaders Assist Gocr

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0901/01 3232320
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 182320Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0280
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUWDQAA/CCGDELEVEN ALAMEDA CA
RUWDQAC/COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC
RUMIAGH/COMJTF-B SIMS SOTO CANO HO
RUEABND/DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMIN HQ WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000901

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, WHA/PPC, INL/LP, DS/TIA/OSAC, AND DS/IP/WHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINR ASEC SNAR CONS CS

SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: AMERICAN BUSINESS LEADERS ASSIST GOCR
WITH SECURITY ISSUES; TOUT QUEPOS AS FUTURE REFUELING SITE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: From October 22-23, Poloff and RSO visited
the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area, a busy tourist area located
about three hours from San Jose on the central Pacific coast
of Costa Rica, to discuss security issues with local U.S.
investors and government officials. The RSO spoke with U.S.-
affiliated business owners about establishing an Overseas
Advisory Council (OSAC) sub-council in the area. We also
visited (largely dilapidated) law enforcement facilities, and
the construction site of a $250 million, privately-funded,
marina project. Local officials and business owners voiced
concerns that the marina might attract narco-traffickers and
increase prostitution in the area (which is already a well-
known destination for sexual tourism.) Marina developers
touted the facility as source of jobs and income, and a
possible refueling point for USCG or USN vessels. Finally, we
visited the local Costa Rican coast guard station and
conducted INL-mandated end-use monitoring on donated
counternarcotics equipment. This road trip highlighted the
security challenges facing communities and tourist
centers outside of the San Jose area, but also some creative
solutions, such as informal, private sector-government
partnerships to help the local security forces. END SUMMARY.

-------------------- -------------------- ----
LOCAL HOTEL OWNER HIGHLIGHTS SECURITY PROBLEMS
-------------------- -------------------- ----

2. (SBU) Harry Bodaan, the Amcit owner of the hotel La Mansion
in Manuel Antonio, told us that he had witnessed a drastic
increase in the level of violent crime and narco-trafficking
over the last few years. He complained that it was difficult
to find trustworthy law enforcement officials due to
corruption and their (alleged) links to narco-traffickers. He
hoped that this relationship could be changed by assisting
with the physical improvement of local law enforcement
stations and by providing new equipment.

3. (SBU) Bodaan has personally donated thousands of his own
dollars towards the improvement of the local Fuerza Publica
(regular uniformed police) barracks, though much of the
building remains in poor condition. Bodaan and
others have also attempted to donate equipment (helmets,
bullets, vests) to local law enforcement agencies but, for
liability reasons, have faced bureaucratic constraints in
transferring the equipment to them. Finally, Bodaan
coordinated (and helped finance) the purchase of a new police
vehicle for the Fuerza Publica. (NOTE: The budget is such
that there is no vehicle for the local Chief of Police; Bodaan
often gives him a ride to work or to crime scenes or even
lends him his personal vehicle. However, Bodaan relayed to us
that this has lead to allegations of corruption/favoritism and
possibly the Chief of Police's surprising re-assignment to a
lesser posting. END NOTE.)

-------------------- --
MARINA PEZ VELA PROJECT
-------------------- --

4. (U) Harold Lovelady, the Amcit main developer and major
financer of the Marina Pez Vela project in Quepos, told us the
marina was a $250 million investment geared towards
sportsfishing tourists. He said it should be partially open
by May and fully operational in three years. Once in full
operation, the marina will have 308 slips of varying sizes,
and landside amenities to include stores, required government
offices (such as immigration and customs), and limited
housing. When the marina partially opens, 98 slips will be
available for use. Lovelady estimates that the project will
provide approximately 3,000 jobs to the local economy: 1,000
at the marina and an additional 2,000 in the surrounding area
as a result of investment and services required to host the
elevated level of tourists.

5. (SBU) When asked, Lovelady said it should be possible for
Coast Guard (U.S. or Costa Rican) ships to refuel at the
marina. He said that there would be refueling services for
boats up to 200 feet in length, which could potentially
service some USCG or USN vessels and all of the Costa Rican
Coast Guard (SNGC). (NOTE: This could provide a secondary
option to the refueling services offered at the Port of
Golfito. END NOTE.)

6. (SBU) Lovelady recognized that this project could lead to
increased crime. He plans to contract two private security
companies to secure the marina. Lovelady told us he would be
interested in coordinating with local law enforcement,
including the SNGC, though his current outreach has not
produced any firm commitments. He expressed interest in
receiving security opinions from Post's ODR and DEA offices
about this project due to his concern with the marina becoming
a haven for narco-trafficking.

------------
OSAC MEETING
------------

7. (SBU) The RSO briefed a group of local American business
owners on the possibility of setting up an OSAC sub-council in
Quepos. Local Americans expressed interest in having a sub-
council in Quepos but needed further discussion amongst
themselves; we also suggested to Bodaan after the meeting that
Quepos could simply become part of the San Jose council.

8. (SBU) The mayor of Quepos, Oscar Monge, also attended the
OSAC meeting and told us that although tourism had brought a
great deal of investment and development to Quepos, the
deteriorating security situation could seriously damage the
local economy. Monge underlined that one of his main duties
was to protect all citizens in the Quepos area, not just Costa
Ricans. He welcomed partnership with the U.S. to help reduce
crime and requested our assistance with training and
equipment. We briefed the mayor, in general terms, on the
Merida Initiative and advised him to work with the GOCR
leadership in San Jose to see if Quepos could benefit from
that funding and security assistance.

9. (SBU) Monge relayed to us that he had recently dissolved
the Quepos Municipal Police force (a separate law enforcement
entity from the Fuerza Publica roughly equivalent to "city
cops"), but would be rebuilding soon with "a fresh group of
young men." The new group purportedly would have no links to
former politicians or law enforcement agencies. Additionally,
the mayor stressed that he did not want this group to be
corrupted by narcotraffickers or other criminals because he
had seen, first hand, the problems this can cause.

-------------------- -----
QUEPOS COAST GUARD STATION
-------------------- -----

10. (SBU) Taking advantage of our trip to the area, we visited
the local SNGC station and conducted end-use monitoring of
INL-donated equipment. The building that houses the SNGC
station was constructed with INL funds in 2003 and is
noticeably in better condition than other local law
enforcement agencies' facilities. The barracks could easily
house several more coast guard personnel(or for that matter
other law enforcement such as Fuerza Publica) than the SNGC
currently has assigned to this station.

11. (SBU) Also located at SNGC Quepos are six INL-donated
Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). However, these six boats
have not been operational in some cases for four-five years
due to maintenance problems and lack of properly trained
crews. Some parts of the RHIBs, as authorized by INL, have
been used to improve other vessels used in counternarcotics
operations. Examples of these cannibalized parts include
radios, GPSs, and radars. The SNGC has two operational boats
in Quepos, including one with parts from the RHIBs. These two
boats, though running, need to be painted to keep their hulls
from rusting, but the SNGC lacks the capacity to remove the
boats from the water easily, which has delayed this needed
maintenance.

12. (SBU) The Quepos Coast Guard station has a staff of 30
men, although nearly half were unable to work at the time of
our visit due to sickness and injury. The local commander,
Rodolfo Coto, has requested additional staff from his parent
organization, the Ministry of Public Security.

-------
COMMENT
-------


13. (SBU) Post is well aware of the security concerns
expressed by local American businesspersons in the Quepos area
and has encouraged them to work with local law enforcement to
address rising levels of crime. However, we assess those
local law enforcement agencies to be poorly equipped,
undertrained and inadequately manned to effectively curb crime
in the area. We expect this problem to only get worse as the
new marina comes into operation over the next three years.
While the minimal capability of the SGNC to conduct
counternarcotics operations in the Quepos area is also
alarming, even more distressing is their limited ability to
perform "normal" search and rescue operations.

14. (SBU) For the Quepos economy, the marina represents both
good and bad: more investment in the tourist industry, more
jobs, and one of the few boatyards on the Pacific coast south
of Mexico, but also more petty criminals and, perhaps,
narcotraffikers. We are convinced that Bodaan and his
Security Council will continue to work to improve the security
environment in Quepos via donations, influence, and
cooperation with law enforcement and the GOCR.

CIANCHETTE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: