Cablegate: Costa Rica: Updated Security Requirements
DE RUEHSJ #2074/01 3542303
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 202303Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9302
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN JOSE 002074
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN HILLARY THOMPSON AND WHA/FO GIOVANNI
SNIDLE AND INL/LP AIMEE MARTIN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/13/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINS PTER SNAR CS KJUS PREF
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: UPDATED SECURITY REQUIREMENTS
REF: A. STATE 163495
B. STATE 107145
C. SAN JOSE 1618
D. WHA/CEN-SAN JOSE EMAIL OF 12/06/07
Classified By: CDA Peter M. Brennan for reason 1.4 (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOCR's most pressing, non-lethal police
equipment needs center on communications, transportation,
technology, K-9 support, and surveillance equipment (in that
order, see para 5). Coast Guard modernization remains on top
of the list of other initiatives to be funded by the pending
FY2008 Merida Initiative supplemental and potentially in out
years. (We have updated and refined the original list
presented in Ref C, see paras 6-9.) Together, these projects
clearly fall under the first and second pillars of the Merida
Initiative: Counternarcotics, Counterterrorism and Border
Security; and Public Security and Law Enforcement. We
believe that regional security would be significantly and
positively impacted by fully funding these initiatives as
well as by appropriate and complementary training programs.
In addition, we believe the GOCR could benefit from the
technical assistance for prison management (initial
assessment and planning survey) outlined under the third
Merida pillar: Institution Building and Rule of Law. We have
not yet had the opportunity to review this with GOCR prison
officials, however. Overall, the GOCR remains committed to
cooperating with the Central American Integration System
(SICA) to combat narcotrafficking, trafficking in weapons,
and trafficking in persons. END SUMMARY.
GOCR COMMITMENTS TO SICA
2. (SBU) Carlos Cordero, Director of the Terrorism and
Disarmament Foreign Policy Office of the MFA, assured us that
the GOCR was cooperating with SICA in narcotrafficking,
weapons trafficking and trafficking in persons (TIP). As a
member of the Central American Permanent Commission (CCP),
Costa Rica was jointly developing policies and programs to
fight narcotrafficking. Cordero agreed that the Costa Rican
Coast Guard (SNGC), the GOCR's only asset with "regional"
reach, was in dire need of modernized equipment and training
to properly conduct their maritime interdiction mission.
3. (SBU) Through the UN-funded Central American Small Arms
Control (CASAC), Cordero said the GOCR will manage a budget
and programs to combat trafficking in weapons (NFI). The
program is to start next year and will be managed by the
Ministry of Public Security (MPS). On TIP, Cordero
acknowledged that the GOCR's program overall lacked a strong
budget and suffered from poor interagency coordination.
4. (SBU) On gang-related violence, Cordero said that Costa
Rica did not have a problem, unlike elsewhere in the region.
Because Costa Rica does not suffer from gang-related
violence, Cordero said the GOCR did not need assistance in
that area at this moment.
THE NON-LETHAL LIST
5. (SBU) To collect input from the GOCR on their prioritized
non-lethal police equipment needs, we met with several
high-level law enforcement officials, including Minister of
Public Security Fernando Berrocal and Director of the
Judicial Police (OIJ) Jorge Rojas. With their input and
Post's assessment, here is the prioritized list of Costa
Rica's most pressing non-lethal police equipment needs. This
list has been endorsed by Post's inter-agency Law Enforcement
Committee. We will provide more details (and notional cost
figures) when provided by the GOCR, but we wanted Washington
decision makers to have something to start with. We view
these needs as consistent with the program outlined in the
Department's briefing materials to Congress (Ref D):
-- Police radios and communications infrastructure.
-- Transportation assets including at least 12 Ford
Explorer-type rough terrain vehicles and at least 10 regular
police patrol vehicles.
-- K-9 support including at least six more trained anti-drug
and anti-explosive dogs.
-- Body armor (at least 1000 new protective vests).
-- Development of AFIS-type fingerprint program.
-- Laptops with printers for on-scene criminal investigations.
-- Mobile surveillance equipment to outfit a van or
-- Larger vehicles (1-4 buses) to transport groups of police
officers. (The Ministry of Public Security only has one).
-- Forensics lamps.
-- Night-vision goggles.
-- IBIS-type forensic ballistic tools.
In our view, the first four elements are the most important
(radio and communications, vehicles, K-9 assets and
UPDATED OUT YEAR SECURITY NEEDS
6. (SBU) Based on GOCR input (including from new, more
vigorous coast guard leadership) and an updated Post
assessment (from an intensive evaluation of the Costa Rican
Coast Guard by our Office of Defense Representative and NAS
officer), we suggest the following initiatives. These
support USG and GOCR law enforcement objectives and are
consistent with the SICA regional security strategy. We have
structured our updated assessment within the framework of the
Administration's FY08 Merida Initiative Supplemental and the
FY2009 Merida Initiative request with OMB. We cover FY08,
09, and 10.
7. (C) PRIORITIZED LIST OF USG ASSISTANCE FOR FY08 MERIDA
INITIATIVE SUPPLEMENTAL ($1.975 million total)
A) REFIT INOPERABLE COAST GUARD 65-FT PATROL BOAT IN LIMON
($900K): Two new engines, electronics, navigation,
communications and radar equipment and a repaired/replaced
hull on the GOCR's 65-foot patrol boat in Limon would provide
Costa Rica with patrol capability on its Caribbean coast.
Currently, the GOCR has virtually no such capability. The
GOCR Caribbean "fleet" consists of one 25-foot Eduardono-type
boat with only one (of two) engines fully operational and one
12-foot Boston-whaler type river patrol boat. Putting the
65-foot patrol boat in operation, which has been out of
service since October 2006 due to the lack of spare parts and
old, unreliable engines, would greatly enhance Costa Rica's
ability to patrol its Caribbean waters and work with USG
assets under the Bilateral Maritime Agreement.
B) BUY TWO NEW 39-FT MIDNIGHT EXPRESS TYPE BOATS ($600K): The
Costa Rican Coast Guard's (SNGC) current "fleet" of medium to
large-size patrol boats (three 82-footers and two 65-footers)
are aging (some approaching over 35 years of service between
U.S. and SNGC usage) and need to be replaced, eventually.
Acquiring these more modern and much faster craft, which
would give the SNGC the capability to intercept drug-running
"go-fasts" as well as to stop and board other vessels, is a
good place to start, and would be a smarter investment in the
short-term. Even refurbished, the existing SNGC patrol boats
cannot easily intercept smaller, faster drug runners.
C) MODERNIZE ALL ELECTRONICS ON TWO 82-FT PATROL BOATS
($175K): Replace and modernize all the electronics on two of
the SNGC's 82-foot patrol boats. This includes the
navigation, communications, and radar systems (which would
provide night-time operating capability) on board. Their
current electronics gear on board is at least 20 years out of
date and often does not operate due to lack of spare parts.
Replacing this gear enhances the SNGC's surveillance
capabilities and thus improving Costa Rica's contribution to
regional counter narcotics and counter trafficking efforts.
D) REFIT FOUR EXISTING 25-FT EDUARDONO-TYPE "GO-FAST" PATROL
BOATS ($300K): Replace and repair engines, hulls, and upgrade
navigation and communications on four of the SNGC's existing
"go-fast" patrol boats. Refitting these existing hulls will
provide immediate capability to the SNGC to pursue and board
close to shore drug smuggling vessels.
E) THE RESULT: This investment would leave the SNGC with a
much more capable "fleet" on both the Caribbean and Pacific
Coasts, including four operational patrol boats, two Midnight
Express-type fast boats, and smaller craft.
8. (C) PRIORITIZED LIST OF USG ASSISTANCE FOR FY09 MERIDA
INITIATIVE REQUEST WITH OMB ($2.035 million total)
A) REFIT COAST GUARD TWO 82-FT PATROL BOATS ($1.6M): This
would continue the modernization started in FY08 for the two
82-foot patrol boats by replacing all of their engines and
B) BUY ONE NEW 39-FT MIDNIGHT-EXPRESS TYPE BOAT ($300K): This
purchase would further interdiction capability and nearly
complete the goal of providing four new medium-size,
high-speed patrol boats to supplement the SNGC's current
C) INSTALL FORWARD LOOKING INFRARED RADAR (FLIR) ON THREE AIR
UNIT SURVEILLANCE AIRCRAFT ($135K): This would maximize use
of existing assets in arguably the best-maintained, equipped
and utilized unit within the Ministry of Public Security.
FLIR installation would enhance the detection of trafficking
activity, especially along the porous border with Panama,
essentially wide open now to illegal traffic of all types.
This would be another GOCR contribution to regional security
efforts. The Air Unit has three aircraft that could be FLIR
D) THE RESULT: Combined with the FY08 initiatives, this would
leave the SNGC with four refitted patrol boats and three new
Midnight Express-type fast boats, and the Ministry of Public
Security's small air unit with a much enhanced border
9. (C) PRIORITIZED LIST OF USG ASSISTANCE FOR FY10 MERIDA
INITIATIVE REQUEST WITH OMB ($2.8 million total)
A) REFIT INOPERABLE COAST GUARD 105-FT PATROL BOAT ($2.5M):
This refit would include two new engines, hull repair, and
upgrade and replacement of all electronic (navigation,
communications, radar) systems. Although less of a priority
than refitting the 82-foot and 65-foot assets (and the
purchase of four Midnight-Express type boats), putting this
largest patrol craft into operation would greatly enhance
Costa Rica's maritime capabilities (to include the ability to
conduct fisheries patrols), enabling the SNGC to operate as
far offshore as Cocos Island (250 miles from the Pacific
B) BUY ONE NEW 39-FT MIDNIGHT-EXPRESS TYPE BOAT ($300K): This
purchase would complete the goal of providing four new
medium-size, high-speed patrol boats to supplement the SNGC's
current aging fleet.
C) THE RESULT: If this entire FY08-10 package were financed,
the SNGC would have five operational patrol boats, four
modern "go-fasts" of their own, and the capability to patrol
much of GOCR's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This would
yield clear benefits not only for Costa Rican law
enforcement, but for regional security cooperation.
GOCR WELCOMES ASSISTANCE IN PRISON MGMT
10. (SBU) We met with Minister of Justice (and
Vice-President) Laura Chinchilla to discuss prison management
issues. Chinchilla welcomed any assistance that the USG can
provide to improve Costa Rica's prison system. She
highlighted the plight of criminals who are not properly
rehabilitated and end up becoming career criminals. She
specifically requested assistance in how to better integrate
criminals back into society by giving them useful job skills.
Chinchilla agreed that Costa Rica needed a thorough survey
of how it can better train its prison employees. She said
the infrastructure lacked basic communications and office
equipment, including computers and better databases for
prison management. Two areas of particular concern to her
were the high rates of crime among minors and women.
Concentrating on the issue of women who are often arrested
for transporting drugs as human "mules," she said better
programs were needed to address the "orphans" left when their
(often) single mothers went to jail. Speaking to greater
narcotics problems among the population in Costa Rica,
Chinchilla said that crack cocaine was the most destructive
drug on the streets, and requested any help/guidance we could
provide based on U.S. expertise in this regard.
11. (C) The Arias administration has taken significant steps
against regional (mostly maritime) drug trafficking, but the
problem is only getting worse. The realistic investment
plan outlined above would keep Costa Rica moving in the right
direction by maintaining and increasing the GOCR's ability to
interdict drug shipments. This plan would also give the GOCR
needed basic tools and equipment to deal with rising crime
rates, a nagging worry among citizens that also has a direct
impact on the approximately 50,000 Americans living
permanently in Costa Rica and approximately 750,000 American
tourists who visit every year. This investment thus would
contribute not only to the SICA regional security strategy
(highlighting the importance of regional cooperation in the
process), but also to Costa Rica's own domestic security
plans and the safety/security of U.S. citizens in Costa Rica.