189. Telegram 2000 From the Embassy in Costa Rica to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]


  • Division in PLN Widens as Opposition to Opening of Soviet Embassy in Costa Rica Increases


  • San Jose 1926;
  • San Jose 1959

Summary: Various developments over the weekend July 24–25 indicate that opposition to the establishment of a Soviet Embassy in Costa Rica and dissatisfaction with Figueres administration are gaining momentum. Most significant events were: (a) publication of letter from Vice Presidents Aguilar and Rossi to Figueres; (b) issuance of opposition party statement and (c) involvement of Catholic Church.

1. In this letter, Aguilar and Rossi attempted to remove themselves from responsibility for the activities of the Figueres administration with which they disagree or which they feel may reflect on them to their political disadvantage. Appearing on television July 26, Rossi attempted to clarify the purpose of the letter. He said he will dedicate himself to resolving the housing problem of Costa Rica and to stimulate the planting of trees throughout Costa Rica. He will not resume his former duties as Central Bank President. Aguilar will devote his energies to the recently created mixed social assistance institute, the instrument of [Page 2] Figueres’s “war on poverty”. Rossi said that the Vice Presidents would also analyze the accomplishments and defects of the government and recommend measures to correct problem areas. In effect, they have backed away from Figueres, and appear to be on the verge of abandoning the Figueres ship of state.

2. The National Unification Party (UN) published a declaration deploring extremists on the left and right while opposing the establishment of a Soviet Embassy in Costa Rica. The UN repeated its long-standing position that a Soviet Embassy in Costa Rica is unnecessary to carry out a simple commercial transaction; i.e., sale of coffee to the Soviets.

3. Eco Catolico, the official organ of the Catholic Church in Costa Rica editorialized July 25 against the establishment of a Soviet Embassy. The editorial emphasized 5 points (a) it is not necessary to have the Soviet Embassy in Costa Rica; (b) the Soviet Embassy may be the focus of internal political problems; (c) the Embassy would place Costa Rica in a cold war; (d) the GOCR policy to permit the establishment of a Soviet Embassy is an unpopular government initiative because it will disrupt the peace; (e) Costa Rica does not have sufficient defenses against “Russian diplomacy”. Also in several churches, signatures were collected on petitions opposing the arrival of the Soviets. Several priests subsequently signed a declaration saying that the church should not take an official position in Costa Rica but should seek guidance from Rome. Several supported the idea of a national plebiscite to determine the desirability of establishing a Soviet Embassy. (The right-wing Free Costa Rican Movement (MCRL) has consistently called for a plebiscite).

4. In addition to these developments, the press stepped up editorial attacks on the impending arrival of the Soviets. Probably the most reasoned of the editorials was in La Republica July 26 in which it was said the pronouncements of the Liberation Party (PLN), the Church hierarchy and others, indicate strong public relations [Page 3] against the establishment of a Soviet Embassy in Costa Rica and that demonstrations being prepared by some groups could result in grave consequences for the country. La Republica reviewed the expulsion of the Soviet diplomats from other Latin American countries, and characterized the Mexican and Ecuadorean cases as representing extreme cynicism and lack of scruples on the part of the Soviet diplomats. The editorial described Costa Rica with its democratic tradition and prestige as an ideal target for communist machinations if not this year some time in the future, and warned that to think otherwise would be to believe that the Soviets are neither communists nor imperialists.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 COSTA RICA. Confidential.
  2. Ambassador Ploeser reported the growing opposition within Costa Rica to President Figueres’ efforts to normalize relations with the Soviet Union. In particular, the Catholic Church and the President’s own political party opposed the opening of a Soviet Embassy in San José.