126. Telegram 4342 From the Embassy in Costa Rica to the Department of State1

4342. Subject: President Oduber’s Public Comments on Vesco. Ref: State 246409 and San Jose 4288.

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1. I had my meeting with President Oduber yesterday this afternoon November 13. The President was very relaxed and spoke freely of various matters which will be reported in separate tels.

2. I made all the points contained reftel. Oduber did not specifically retract any of his published statements but he did try to soften them and to suggest that the reporter may have partly confused his harsh comments about a Washington Post “editorial” of a couple of weeks ago which he said was very critical of Costa Rican courts and institutions (we think he may be alluding to the Greer article of October 15).

3. Oduber said specifically that he was confident that this Embassy under Ambassador Vaky had made a very sincere effort. (One interpretation of that is that he is still not so sure about Washington agencies.) He also stated that he had heard directly from the judge that our case was poorly done and not consonant with the treaty. I went through the material suggested in reftel and elaborated on it to some extent from my own experience, all of which Oduber seemed to find interesting, but I doubt that I changed his mind. He did seem, however, to want to back off of any suggestion that the USG played lightly with the Costa Rican judiciary or that we were anything less than straightforward with him personally.

4. The President said that he still plans to visit the United States at a future date, and would welcome another briefing from our legal experts on the state of play.

5. Oduber observed that he personally would be glad to see Vesco out of Costa Rica. He thought that Pepe Figueres might also be relieved if that happened, although Oduber is not sure of this. In any case Oduber said he has now studied more closely our Extradition Treaty and the various extradition laws—past, present and proposed—and thinks that we may have considerable difficulty extraditing Vesco under any of them. I took advantage of all of this to remind Oduber that we have proposed to negotiate a new extradition treaty which among other things would include narcotics offenses which are not now covered.

  1. Summary: During a discussion regarding the Vesco case and Costa Rica’s extradition laws, Oduber reportedly backed away from a recent public suggestion that the United States had been disrespectful of the Costa Rican judiciary by presenting a defective request for the extradition of Robert Vesco, adding that he would be glad to see Vesco leave Costa Rica.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D740329–0154. Confidential; Exdis. In telegram 4248 from San José, November 7, the Embassy reported an allegation by Oduber that the United States had intentionally presented a weak extradition request, thereby making a mockery of the Costa Rican judicial system. (Ibid., D740319–0611) In telegram 246409, November 8, the Department instructed Lane to stress to Oduber that the United States had made its request for Vesco’s extradition in good faith. (Ibid., D740321–0254) In telegram 4288 from San José, November 8, the Embassy reported on Lane’s attempt to meet with Oduber regarding the Vesco matter. (Ibid., D740322–0750) The Washington Post article was not further identified.