|06SANJOSE592||2006-03-14 20:28:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy San Jose|
VZCZCXYZ0005 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHSJ #0592 0732028 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 142028Z MAR 06 FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4528 INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000592
1. (U) Summary: Kevin Casas, chosen by Oscar Arias to be his
second vice presidential running mate, will come into the
third highest political position in the country on May 8 with
scant political credentials. Only 37 years old, Casas is an
academic and researcher who has never held office.
Intelligent, poised, well-spoken, and full of ideas, however,
Casas is the kind of bright technocrat that appeals to Arias.
We expect that his principal responsibility in the Arias
administration will be to oversee a reform of government
institutions. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Kevin Casas Zamora was born in San Jose in 1968,
the youngest of five children of a mother from Costa Rica and
a father from Cuba. All his siblings were born in the United
States, and, because his parents were naturalized U.S.
citizens, Kevin acquired U.S. citizenship at birth. Kevin's
father, who left Cuba prior to Fidel Castro's ascension,
owned and operated an auto repair garage in a working-class
San Jose suburb.
3. (U) Casas, always a serious student, entered the
University of Costa Rica in 1984 as a valedictorian scholar.
After graduating with a law degree (not a graduate-level
program in Costa Rica), Casas worked briefly in research and
consulting services before pursuing his master's degree in
Latin American Government and Politics at Enland's Essex
University. Casas completed his dotorate in Political
Science at Oxford Universityin 2003. During and between his
studies, Casas orked for several years as a research
consultant,first at the UN Latin American Institute of Crime
Prevention (ILANUD) and later at the Arias Foundaion for
Peace and Human Progress. Casas most reently served as
consultant for the United Nation Development Program (UNDP)
in the preparation ofthe National Reports on Human
Development and th State of the Region Report on Sustainable
Human Development in Central America. In 2003, Casas was
awarded the prestigious European Consortium for Political
Research prize for his doctoral thesis, "Paying for Democracy
in Latin America: Political Finance and State Funding for
Parties in Costa Rica and Uruguay."
4. (SBU) Casas first met Arias through his involvement in
the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, where he
worked for two years between his master's studies at Essex
and doctoral studies at Oxford. Arias and Casas quickly
established a rapport, and Casas began writing speeches for
Arias shortly before returning to England. Casas maintained
contact with Arias throughout his doctoral studies and even
had the same doctoral thesis adviser that had worked with
Arias some thirty years earlier. Casas views Arias as a
kindred spirit and mentor, but is hard-pressed to enunciate
exactly why Arias tapped him to be vice president. He
acknowledges his role in helping the PLN to reach out to the
country's youth, but also believes he has won Arias's trust
and respect professionally.
5. (SBU) Arias has not explicitly identified the roles his
two vice presidents will play in his administration.
However, Casas's academic and professional experience in
public governance make him well prepared to help implement
the government reform projects that Arias envisions.
6. (U) Casas enjoys reading and is an avid squash player.
He is married to Simone Bunse, a 32-year-old German citizen
he met while studying at Oxford. They do not have children.
7. (SBU) Over the last few months, Casas has become an
important Embassy contact.