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Cablegate: Costa Rica: Review for Suspension for Title Iii of The

VZCZCXYZ0007
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0961 3242143
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 202143Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0052
INFO WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0001

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000961

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN AND WHA/CCA - JARAHN HILLSMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PREL CU ETTC CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: REVIEW FOR SUSPENSION FOR TITLE III OF THE
LIBERTAD ACT

REF: 09 STATE 115416; 09 SAN JOSE 225; 09 SAN JOSE 448

1. (SBU) Costa Rica's March 18 re-establishment of full diplomatic
relations with Cuba (Ref B) has progressed slowly. Costa Rica has
named JosC) MarC-a Penabad LC3pez as the new ambassador to Cuba and
has converted its consulate into an embassy. The Castro
government, however, has not yet named an ambassador or officially
established its embassy in San Jose. The upgraded relationship may
temper Costa Rica's public criticism of Cuba, but any bilateral
thaw will be slow: the two countries and systems of government are
simply too different to move quickly. Suspending Title III of the
Libertad Act in regard to Costa Rica thus remains in the U.S.
national interest, especially if we wish to encourage the GOCR to
use its upgraded ties for Arias' stated intent: to establish a
"direct and open dialogue" which could positively influence the
Castro regime.

2. (SBU) The following answers are keyed to Ref A questions:

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Costa Rica has traditionally been a strong critic of the Cuban
government. The recent re-establishment of diplomatic relations
between Costa Rica and Cuba has brought with it a lull in outspoken
calls for democratic development in Cuba, as the GOCR has yet to
use its new relationship to promote the promised "dialogue" on
democratic change with Cuba.

-- Costa Rica has not made official statements condemning the Cuban
government in the past six months.

-- There have been no high-level diplomatic visits between Costa
Rica and Cuba in the last six months. Costa Rica converted its
consulate in Miramar, Cuba into an embassy and named JosC) MarC-a
Penabad LC3pez as the new Ambassador on September 27, 2009. Penabad
is a journalist and veteran diplomat who had previously served as
Costa Rican Ambassador to Portugal from 1995-1998, and had been
serving as Consul General in Cuba since 2003. Cuba currently
maintains a consulate in San JosC) and is expected to establish an
embassy in the future.

-- Post is not aware of any major Costa Rican business investments
in Cuba. However, a number of Costa Rican businesses import cigars
from Cuba and repackage them. In addition, Costa Rican tourists
regularly visit Cuba and vice versa.

-- Post is not aware of any bilateral trade agreements between
Costa Rica and Cuba.

-- There are a small number of 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 we are not
aware of any formal exchange or scholarship programs between Cuban
and Costa Rican universities.
BRENNAN

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