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Cablegate: Subject: Costa Rica: Title Iii Suspension of The

O 241450Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0376
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 001000


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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/22/2018
TAGS: CU ETRD ETTC PREL
SUBJECT: SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: TITLE III SUSPENSION OF THE
LIBERTAD ACT

REF: A. STATE 126578
B. SAN JOSE 000629
C. SAN JOSE 636

Classified By: DCM Peter M. Brennan for reason 1.4(d).

1. (U) Costa Rican President Oscar Arias remains a leading
critic of the Castro government and an advocate for
democratic change and human rights reform in Cuba. 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. (C) While Costa Rica has long promoted democratic change
in Cuba, earlier this year Embassy San Jose detected
indications that the GOCR was reconsidering its Cuba position
(and contemplating re-establishing full diplomatic
relations). This was being pushed by some members of the
executive branch and the legislature as a way to help Cuba
democratize faster (Ref B). Since then, talk of establishing
full relations has died down. In addition, Costa Rica is set
to join Venezuela,s Petrocaribe in early 2009 (Ref C), with
a number of legislators, commentators and political observers
wondering whether Chavez will demand Costa Rica,s
recognition of Cuba as an eventual political price for
joining. The Arias administration is adamant that
Petrocaribe is an economic agreement only.

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

A) (U) Costa Rica remains a leading critic of the Castro
government and an advocate for democratic change and human
rights reforms in Cuba.

B) (U) 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."

C) (C) Post is not aware of any high-level diplomatic visits
between Cuba and Costa Rica in the past six months. In a
June 24, 2008 briefing by the Minister of Foreign Affairs
Bruno Stagno, the Russian Ambassador to Costa Rica asked
point-blank about Costa Rica,s relations with Cuba.
Minister Stagno answered that the GOCR was open to talk to
the Cubans and did so from time to time, but that nothing
formal was in the works (Ref B). In addition, Minister
Stagno shared a plane with Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe
Perez Roque on the way to Lima, Peru to participate in the
Latin America-European Union Summit in May 2008. Costa Rica
maintains a consulate in Miramar, Cuba and Cuba maintains a
consulate in San Jose.

D) (U) Post is not aware of any major Costa Rican business
investments in Cuba. However, many Costa Rican businesses
import cigars from Cuba and repackage them. In addition,
Costa Rican tourists regularly visit Cuba and vice versa.

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

F) (U) Costa Rica did not offer humanitarian or other
assistance to Cuba after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav. The
Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release expressing
solidarity with the people of the Caribbean affected by the
recent hurricanes.

G) (U) 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 may be hundreds of Cuban
doctors working in Costa Rica, either in private practices or
with Costa Rican hospitals. 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.


CIANCHETTE

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