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Cablegate: Country Clearance for Oas Iica Meeting Stacy


DE RUEHSJ #1390/01 1702206
R 192206Z JUN 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Embassy San Jose is pleased to grant country clearance to
Stacy Williams, USOAS representative who will be on
assignment from June 14 to June 17. The purpose of this
visit is to participate in the Special Advisory Committee on
Management Issues meeting at the Inter American Institute for
Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) in San Jose.

2. Post understands no Embassy assistance is required.
Jackie Rosholt, Economic Officer, is the assigned Control
Officer and she can be reached at Embassy number
(506)519-2502. The Embassy after-hours emergency phone
number is (506)220-3127.

3. Upon arrival in country all TDY visitors are to make
contact with their Embassy Control Officer for information
regarding a security briefing.

4. Accommodations: Post understands visitor has reservations
at the Casa Conde Hotel. The perdiem rate for San Jose is
$104 for lodging, and $67 M&IE. Post will send confirmation
number by email. Please be advised that hotels in San Jose
require a minimum notice of 72 hours if canceling or changing
reservations. Travelers must notify the hotel or Embassy 72
hours in advance if schedule changes. Hotels will assess a
one-day charge if they do not receive advance notice of
cancellation or changes. Prior to arrival travelers are to
provide the RSO office the required information for TDY
registration/emergency contact, which is hotel and/or point
of contact information.

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5. Transportation: The only taxis available at the airport
are the Taxi Aeropuerto orange taxis found outside the
arrival hall. Tickets for the orange taxis are sold at a
ticket booth located immediately outside the arrival hall
exit doors. Fares (payable in U.S. dollars or local
currency) vary according to destination but the cost of a
standard orange taxi ticket to the Embassy is $12, to the
Intercontinental Hotel is $14 and to downtown San Jose is
$12. Vans are also available at increased cost. If you miss
the ticket counter or otherwise need assistance with orange
taxi service, the company has an individual posted curbside
from where the orange taxis are dispatched. Taxi Aeropuerto
also offers pick-up service and transportation to the airport
for departing passengers. Reservations can be made 24 hours
a day by phoning (506)221-6865.

Elsewhere in San Jose, licensed taxis are considered safe
when using standard security precautions. Licensed taxis
have a yellow triangle on the door, an identification number,
a taxi light on the roof of the car, and generally have
working meters. Ask if the meter is functioning before
entering the cab. If the meter is not functioning, the cost
of the fares should be negotiated prior to entering the cab.
Licensed taxis are also easily obtainable from hotels.

Unlicensed cabs come in all shapes and sizes and should be

6. Public Affairs: Please note that the Public Affairs
Office is the Embassy's designated point of contact with the
press. If visitors have been scheduled for press events by
local partner organizations or others, please inform the
Embassy's Public Affairs Office. Should visitors be
approached by the press with questions or a request for an
interview, they should refer the press to the Embassy Public
Affairs Office. In short, post requests that visitors not
speak with the press before consulting with the Public
Affairs office and they can be reached at 506/519-2441.

7. Travel documents/Threat assessment/Local conditions: All
official visitors must travel with passports, preferably
official or diplomatic. Without a valid passport, a visitor
lacks official status in the eyes of the Costa Rican
Government. However, no repeat no visa is necessary.

During this time of heightened security alerts, all travelers
should consult the Department's website for the latest public
announcements or other safety notices at www.usembassy.or.cr
or www.usembassy.or.cr/osac.html.

Costa Rica is currently rated as a "high" crime threat post.
The increasing use of violence during the commission of a
street crime is a threat to all visitors. Travelers are
urged to exercise caution, as in any large city. Local law
enforcement agencies do not act according to U.S. standards
and have limited capabilities. Jewelry should not be worn on
the streets. Large amounts of cash should not be displayed.
The downtown area of San Jose should be avoided at night
because of the increase of criminal activity that occurs in

this area.

Credit card fraud and credit card "number skimming" is a
rapidly growing crime. Visitors should avoid using debit
cards for point-of-sale purchases, as a skimmed number can be
used to clean out an account. Visitors should check their
credit card accounts frequently.

Visitors are advised to avoid unofficial moneychangers who
may offer better rates but who often trade in counterfeit
currency. The present rate of exchange is approximately 504
Costa Rican colones to one dollar. Accommodation exchange is
available at a comparable rate at the airport.

Visitors should exercise caution if they will be driving in
Costa Rica. The combination of poor road conditions, erratic
driving, and pedestrian and animal traffic on the roads make
driving very treacherous. Costa Rica has one of the highest
accident rates per automobile in the world. The Embassy
strongly recommends against driving outside of the San Jose
area at night. Vehicles should not be left unattended or
packages left visible inside them.

Costa Rica is an earthquake zone and periodically experiences
significant tremors.

Visitors should be careful not to eat peanuts or products
made from peanuts grown in Costa Rica because they may harbor
aflatoxin, which is suspected in the causation of liver

8. Please note: Effective January 1, 2005, all American
personnel traveling to post for a TDY of 30 days or more will
need to certify in the country clearance request that they
have completed mandatory overseas personal security training
as outlined in State cable 66580, dated 25 March 2004.

9. Please be advised that State Department regulations
prohibit installation or use of privately-owned computers in
any State Department building. Visitors must notify the
Regional Security Office in advance if they intend to use
U.S. Government-owned portable computers in the Chancery.

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