113. Telegram 2160 From the Embassy in Costa Rica to the Department of State1

2160. Subject: Extradition: Robert Vesco—Revocation Costa Rican Passports. Ref: San Jose 2115 and Vaky-Feldman Telcon June 13, 1973.

1. When I presented note to Foreign Minister informing him of revocation Vesco’s U.S. passport (San Jose 2115), I asked him whether Costa Rica would restrict Vesco’s provisional ordinary Costa Rican passport. Facio told me as he had before (San Jose 2059) that without arrest order or extradition decision there was no basis for restricting passport. Once again he was fuzzy on what happens if there is an arrest order. He states that what must change is the status under which Vesco is eligible to hold a Costa Rican passport, i.e. resident alien “rentista”. There is apparently no ruling that someone on whom an arrest warrant is outstanding cannot hold a passport. Facio implied that if after trying to arrest him it is clear he is not in country, presumption might be drawn he abandoned resident status. I think we will have some trouble even with arrest order getting interpretation for restricting passport.

2. There is, however, another factor to which I call your attention. Vesco is also in possession of valid Costa Rican diplomatic passport (see Nassau 1117 of October 27, 1972). I asked Facio about this, and he was clearly embarrassed and discomfitted. He said one had been issued and it was still valid. He said he never authorized it and did not sign it. He muttered about Figueres “doing things this way” (Figueres got a diplomatic passport for Teja in the famous Indian extradition case here in 1969–1970).

3. Public knowledge that this diplomatic passport exists would be politically embarrassing to GOCR. Since Facio and Figueres know we know, if it leaks they will accuse us of leaking it and just make our problem here that much more difficult. Therefore, we should be careful that we do not leak this. On the other hand, their knowing we know is also another string to our psychological bow. In any case I think we [Page 355] should consider whether we have basis for formally asking that they revoke the diplomatic passport. It is after all a great asset in Vesco’s hands and there is no visible justification for his holding it. I would appreciate Dept’s views on this point. If it appears desirable to request its revocation, I would then wish to ask that timing and form be left to me given the great delicacy of the point locally.

  1. Summary: In a conversation with Facio, Vaky sought the revocation of Vesco’s travel documents and noted the U.S. Government was aware that Vesco was in possession of a Costa Rican diplomatic passport. Facio acknowledged Vesco had obtained a diplomatic passport through Figueres.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Box 779, Latin America, Costa Rica. Confidential; Priority. Corrected Copy. Repeated to Nassau. In telegram 124051 to San José, June 25, the Department informed the Embassy of its position that the Costa Rican Government should restrict all of Vesco’s travel documents upon the issuance of an arrest order against him. (Ibid.) Telegrams 2059 and 2115 from San José, and telegram 1117 from Nassau were not found.