71. Telegram 519 from San Jose, May 181

[Facsimile Page 1]

Received impressive and friendly reception upon arrival at airport by large number of CR citizens including Ambassador Escalante and official representatives Foreign Office.

Protracted delay in GOCR scheduling my presentation of credentials has led to generally evident and widely-shared belief intent purposefully insulting, particularly since Lebanese Minister who arrived after me was promptly received by Echandi with accompanying publicity. Consequently I had long and frank talk yesterday with Foreign Minister Vargas Fernandez, during which latter confirmed that delay at President’s direction and advised me in no uncertain terms Echandi and close associates including himself still deeply resent combination JFK reference to Figueres in March 13 speech and Kennedy-Figueres interview. In addition Figueres having obviously maneuvered departure time visiting Rector San Marcos University to coincide with my arrival was consequently able exploit our apparently chance encounter at airport through photos his papers plus accompanying caption sug [Typeset Page 183] gestion future close liaison between Figueres and me on Alianza Para Progreso. Vargas Fernandez claims absence of public denial by Embassy has added to Echandi’s irritation. However I will select appropriate time to clarify this apparent deliberate effort by Figueres.

I feel that only means overcome President’s attitude lies in establishment of effective personal relationship with him, and consequently propose officially overlook present petty insults and slights which I suspect ultimately will backfire on Echandi through his own people. Further I am optimistic of prompt and [Facsimile Page 2] favorable results from my talk yesterday with Vargas Fernandez in which I expressed myself with equal frankness along guidelines outlined Deptel 449 and stressed President Kennedy’s personal admiration for President Echandi and people of CR. I believe that more direct approach to problem at present would be counterproductive. Also, I am confident once I make personal contact with Echandi I can handle situation very effectively.

  1. Reasons for delay in presenting credentials by new U.S. Ambassador. Confidential. 2 pp. DOS, CF, 611.18/5–1861.