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INSIDECOSTARICA.COM | COSTA RICA NEWS |  Thursday 03 March 2011

WikiLeaks ON COSTA RICA
United States Trained Costa Rican Police And Funded Anti-FTA Rallies
Translated From La Nación

The U.S. Embassy in San José was involved in the definition of police strategy, trained and supervised the training of officers of the security forces (police) and rented buses to take them to the protest marches against the TLC (Free Trade Agreement), according to several diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

More WikiLeaks


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A charge of political affairs at the US Embassy in San José participated in at least two meetings of definition of "pre-protest strategy", convened by the then Security Minister Fernando Berrocal, according to a cable drafted three days before the march of February 26 2007 by the Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy, Russell Frisbie.

"The government appears ready for protests. The intelligence service is confident it knows who the real troublemakers are, but is still cautious", Frisbie reported.

Covert Aid
 In the same cable it is revealed that Berrocal asked the United States hire buses to transport the officers on the day of the protest.

"The police may require the rapid mobilization of resources to potential points for blocking traffic and protesting hotspots across the capital. Therefore, the Ministry of Public Security asked the Embassy renting buses for use by the Police, using funds available from those used to combat drug trafficking. The Embassy will provide ten buses for February 26 alone", said Frisbie.

For the protests of October 23, 2006, the Government had requested four buses, as related by Ambassador Mark Langdale in a cable on the 31st of that month.

"Police contacts told us that this aid, behind the scenes (everything that the Government of Costa Rica asked us), had been invaluable", said Langdale.

Asked yesterday, Berrocal said he did not remember that political officers participate in strategy meetings and denied having known about the buses.

We attempted to obtain Eric Lacayo's version, then director of operations of the police and who was also quoted on the wires, but was unable to be reached.

Training
 In 2007, Frisbie also recounted how a charge of political affairs at the Embassy supervised training by the Embassy of Colombia held at the police training centre Murcielago, Guanacaste, to a group of policemen.

"The Colombian police instructors with the very useful help from the Embassy of Colombia here, rose to a high degree of confidence of riot police. Members of the political affairs office observed this first hand", he added.

Berrocal did admit seeking help from the police chief of Colombia, Oscar Naranjo, to train police, but said he was never aware that the Americans were monitoring.

The protest of 26 February 2007, organized by groups opposing the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic, generated great fear among the Americans according to the cables, between the Government, the possibility that "infiltrators " or demonstrators provoked the police for creating a disturbance or violence.

As such, say the documents, the training of officers was reinforced to avoid confrontation. The balance after the march, reports the cable from the Embassy, was positive.

"The events of February 26 did improve the image of the protests against the FTA, but that's how far things got. The Government came out unscathed. What the opposition expected, a public display of excess zeal by police to suppress protesters did not materialize", concluded the diplomat.

The bus request was also made to the protests of October 23, 2006, unless, according to the cables, the Security Ministry ordered four units.

Human rights
The U.S. Southern Command also trained 77 police officers from 28 November to 01 December 2006, according to recount the cables and confirmed the same Berrocal.

The training occurred in "human rights", but a cable of December 2006 confirmed the real reason for the event: "The police must be prepared for the next round of anti-FTA demonstrations, which could coincide with the first vote on the Treaty. The protesters could cause an overreaction of the police with the hope that the public and some lawmakers oppose the ratification of CAFTA.



Click here for the original La Nación article!

 

 
 
 
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