117. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Kubisch) to the Deputy Secretary of State (Rush)1
- Elections in Costa Rica
Elections for the Presidency and unicameral assembly will be held in Costa Rica this Sunday, February 3. The leading candidates in an eight-man field are Daniel Oduber of the incumbent National Libera[Page 361]tion Party (PLN) and Fernando Trejos Escalante of National Unification (UN). Front-runner Oduber is expected to achieve by a narrow margin the 40 per cent plurality necessary to avoid a runoff election. The PLN, for the first time in its 22 years, appears likely to lose a majority of assembly seats.
Incumbent President Jose Figueres Ferrer, founder of the PLN, is constitutionally barred from running again. In an unusually calm campaign, Trejos has been reluctant to attack Oduber vigorously on his strongest issues of inflation and corruption in the Figueres administration. Oduber has stressed his experience and ability to govern. He has deflected third-party charges of being soft on communism by calling PLN social programs the best vaccination against the communist menace. The establishment of a Soviet Embassy in 1971 has not been a major issue.
Previously, the PLN and the UN have alternated in the Presidency. Either of the two possible winners seems certain to continue Costa Rica’s democratic and moderately progressive course, and to maintain traditionally close relations with the United States.
Summary: Kubisch reported that Presidential and legislative elections were due to be held in Costa Rica on February 3, that Daniel Oduber was expected to be elected to succeed President José Figueres, and that either of the two leading Presidential candidates would likely maintain close relations with the United States.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, ARA/CEN/CR Files: Lot 78D109, POL 1–2 Basic Policy Guidelines, Directives (Briefing Papers), 1974. Confidential. Drafted by Sullivan on February 1. In telegram 218 from San José, January 19, the Embassy reported that elections scheduled for February 3 had failed to generate much excitement. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy File, [no film number]) In telegram 474 from San José, February 7, the Embassy reported Oduber had won the Presidency with 43.4 percent of the vote. (Ibid.)↩