Wikileaks has posted more than 130 diplomatic cables from the U.S. Embassy in San José.
The disclosures come as La Nación, the Costa Rican Spanish-language daily, is publishing news stories about the same cables. The newspaper made a deal with Wikileaks to get copies of the cables.
Except for some candid comments by diplomats, most of what is in the cables comes from news sources in Costa Rica and contacts diplomats have made with Costa Rican officials.
As expected, the cables that are dated from 2005 to 2009 chronicle the efforts by embassy employees and officials from Washington to encourage Costa Rica to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement. An example of the embassy’s reporting to Washington is an Oct. 15, 2008, cable that is titled “Costa Rica staggers into second CAFTA extension.”
Despite a referendum on the trade treaty, the country had to seek extensions to pass implementing legislation, including one relating to intellectual property. The free trade treaty contains strong intellectual property requirements, and U.S. officials are seeking to protect the rights of U.S. songs, movies, T-shirts and other trademarked products. Counterfeiting is rampant in Costa Rica.
One cable outlined a Dec. 2, 2009, event at the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano where the National Geographic’s film “Illicit” was shown. The embassy cable said that copies of the film were being made available to educational institutions.
The increasing influence of the People’s Republic of China also was a frequent topic. The Óscar Arias Sánchez government broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of the Communist regime.
The cables are HERE!
Wikileaks justifies its publication of the stolen cables this way: “This document release reveals the contradictions between the U.S.’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.”
In the case of Costa Rica so far there is no smoking gun
Founder Julian Assange and the Wikileaks logo
of illegality, payoffs or excessive arm-twisting by embassy staffers. There still are seven cables marked secret that came from San José that have not been released. There is no hint what they might include.
Wikileaks has 251,287 cables that came from 274 U.S. diplomatic posts. A U.S. soldier is in jail awaiting a court martial on the allegation that he supplied the cables to Wikileaks.
Elsewhere the cables are fairly predictable. The United States seeks to counter the influence of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and that of Iran in Latin America. In the Middle East it is counting on the support of Jordan, which has troops in Afghanistan. In Yemen, officials there have been holding suspected terrorists for U.S. officials.
The Costa Rican cables did illuminate efforts by Costa Rican officials to stop an attempt by a Chinese criminal gang to send 300 youngsters from that country to here. The embassy said the children were to be indentured servants here for 10 years.
Then-ambassador Peter Cianchette wrote the cable, but the accuracy is put in doubt because he gave the wrong name for Mario Zamora, the immigration director. He called him Manuel.
According to the then-ambassador, Chinese gang members sought out Costa Ricans with Chinese surnames and offered them money to use their name. Then a visa was sought for a Chinese immigrant on the grounds of family reunification.
The case was covered heavily in newspapers at the time, but the ambassador reported that Chinese police also reportedly uncovered a how-to manual for Chinese clients applying for Costa Rican visas. He also noted that a foreign ministry official had been fired on the allegation that he tried to bribe consular officials at the Costa Rican embassy in China.
“Two other non-official Costa Ricans of Asian origin are also under investigation, though the lack of a judicial cooperation agreement between Costa Rica and China might limit the information that could be used in court if charges are brought against the individuals,” said Cianchette. The case has not yet come up in court.