186. Telegram 810 From the Embassy in Costa Rica to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]


  • Costa Rica-USSR Relations


  • San Jose 788

1. In La Nacion press interview published March 31, President Figueres again alluded to effect of recent Mexican events on Costa Rica-USSR relations, reiterating essential point made day before (San Jose 788) that exchange of diplomatic missions with Soviets would proceed quote at opportune moment unquote.

2. President returned to Cold War theme stating his goal was that small influence Costa Rica could exercise in world affairs be used in favor of peace, not war. He said his administration was making quote political sacrifices unquote to carry out this policy because the Costa Rican people possibly did not fully understand the government’s mission. He promised that his written [Page 2] statement on question of relations with Soviets would be forthcoming shortly, stating its message would be more or less as follows: Quote When we negotiate with the Russians we will make clear to them that we are allies of the United States and that we consider ourselves part of the Western Bloc. If the sectors of the Government of the United States which feel concern for the defense of their country and for the defense of the continent consider it necessary to strengthen their intelligence services in order that nothing occur in Costa Rica contrary to the cause which the United States represents, we are willing to open our doors in order that they carry out the vigilance which might be necessary unquote.

3. This statement prompted from TASS representative observation that President appeared ready to permit inroads into national sovereignty. Figueres replied quote we desire neither terrorism or ideological persecution, nor any weakening of the national sovereignty. We reserve the sovereign right to punish through expulsion any international officials who meddle in our internal politics or who might wish to create in our country a climate of ideological persecution. Unquote.

4. Comment. Many Costa Rican observers appear to be waiting for appearance of President’s written statement on Soviet relations before commenting on his recent press remarks. San Jose newspapers, for example, while almost unanimously of opinion last week that all diplomatic conversations with USSR should be broken off have made no editorial comment thus far on Figueres’ two press conferences. President’s latest remarks appear designed to reassure those who fear Costa Rica cannot adequately control potential Soviet subversion when USSR Embassy established here. New element is President’s indication that US intelligence services would be given almost free hand to keep track of Soviet activities in Costa Rica. This statement would appear to run contrary to most recent manifestations by Figueres of increasing sensitivity over alleged US activities in country. Figueres’ remarks both in this press interview and in March 29 television appearance underline discrepancy between him and FonMin [Page 3] Facio over what GOCR response to Mexican developments should be. President and FonMin have had differences before and have always found means to paper over them; there are no signs present divergence of views will lead to open break between them. Nonetheless, Figueres has openly disregarded Facio’s recommendation upon return from Mexico that diplomatic talks with Soviets be broken off.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL COSTA RICA–USSR. Confidential. Joint State-USIS message. Repeated to Guatemala City, Managua, Mexico City, Moscow, San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, and USCINCSO.
  2. The Embassy reported that President Figueres gave an interview to state that his goal in warming relations with the Soviet Union was “in favor of peace, not war,” and that he would provide a full written statement to clear up any misunderstandings about his policy. Figueres also publicly offered to open up Costa Rica to U.S. intelligence to allow for any necessary vigilance.