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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05SANJOSE1639 2005-07-19 15:23:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy San Jose
Cable title:  

FIRST MEETING OF THE COMMISSION OF EMINENT PERSONS

Tags:   ETRD ECPS ECON PREL PGOV SOCI CS 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001639 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

WHA/CEN
EB FOR WCRAFT, BMANOGUE
E FOR DEDWARDS
WHA FOR WMIELE
WHA/EPSC FOR KURS, LGUMBINER
H FOR JHAGAN
STATE PASS TO USTR FOR RVARGO, CPADILLA, AMALITO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECPS ECON PREL PGOV SOCI CS
SUBJECT: FIRST MEETING OF THE COMMISSION OF EMINENT PERSONS

REF: SAN JOSE 01587



1. (U) On July 17, 2005, President Pacheco met for the
first time with all five members of the commission of
eminent persons ("junta de notables") whom he tasked to
review the text of the U.S.-Central American-Dominican
Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This meeting
officially began the work of the commission that was first
proposed by the President on April 26, 2005. At the
meeting President Pacheco signed a proclamation officially
creating the commission and presided over the swearing in
of each member.



2. (U) Following the 4-hour meeting, the President and
commission members took part in a press conference in which
the commission's chairman, Dr. Franklin Chang, stated that
they would present a written report to the president in 60
calendar days (September 16, 2005). The President stated
that, even though the report will have no legal role in the
CAFTA-DR ratification process, it will weigh heavily in his
decision on whether or not to send the agreement to the
Legislative Assembly. The President stated that he expects
the commission to offer a general opinion as to whether
CAFTA-DR is an instrument that facilitates the goals of
integrated development of the country.



3. (U) Dr. Chang stated that the commission wants to
discern the most important aspects of the agreement and
will do so with the help of both those who oppose and those
who support the agreement. He also stated that the
commission will do what is necessary to complete its work
successfully. Despite his obvious commitment to the task,
it is not certain whether Dr. Chang, a retired NASA
astronaut who resides in the U.S. and has just started his
own company, will remain in Costa Rica during the work of
the commission. Commission member Dr. Rodrigo Gamez, the
president of the Costa Rican Institute of Biodiversity,
acknowledged that one challenge is that of time; all of the
members have other obligations. He went on to state that
despite this challenge, the commission members will give as
much time as possible to this effort.



4. (U) The Commission is permitted one extension of its 60-
day deadline, buy it was not stated how long this extension
could be.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Prior to yesterday's meeting, Post had some
concerns that the President or some commission members may
make negative comments about CAFTA-DR (reftel); however,
the tone of the public comments was neither negative nor
positive. This is the best result that could have been
expected. President Pacheco's public comments about CAFTA-
DR have ranged from expressing clear support, while
visiting the U.S. in May 2005 with other Central American
Presidents, to questioning the fairness of the agreement
regarding effects on the poor, when speaking to Costa Rican
audiences. He has never stated unequivocal support for
CAFTA-DR while in Costa Rica.



6. (SBU) With the official commencement of the
commission's duties underway, the real question now is how
the commission will proceed. Many aspects of the
commission's work remain unclear; for instance, the
methodology the commission will use to evaluate the
agreement. In addition, this first meeting of the
commission was delayed from June 15, when the commission
members' names were made public, until July 17, 2005
because of the unavailability of Dr. Chang. It is unclear
how his probable absence over the next few months due to
other responsibilities will affect the progress of the
commission's work. It is possible that each member of the
commission will perform his own investigation, consult
persons of their own choosing, and come to their own
conclusions. The commission would then meet to come to
some sort of consensus to generate the report.
KAPLAN