Page 41 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2013

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the Foreign Service journal
|
april 2013
41
Looking back on an experience in
San José, an FSO gains insight into
the hubris of men in power and the
“perverse, unpredictable logic” of war.
By Stephen J . De l Rosso
S
an José, Costa Rica, in the mid-1980s resembled
what Casablanca must have been like in the
early 1940s. All sorts of characters of diverse
political stripes and reputations mingled in
cafés and nightspots as the Contra-Sandinista
war raged on in neighboring Nicaragua and,
occasionally, spilled over the border.
As a young diplomat in the
political section of the embassy,
one of my tasks was to report on
the Nicaraguan opposition. Tis
required meetings with a colorful
assortment of its representatives,
many of whom had noms de guerre
like “El Diablo” and “El Loco.”
On Dec. 30, 1985, I was sum-
moned to the ambassador’s ofce
and, in the presence of the CIA
station chief, instructed to go to the
coastal Caribbean town of Limón
to “fnd out what Russell Means
is up to there.” I took that to mean
I was supposed to casually check
up on the activities of Means,
an American Indian Movement
activist who was once on the FBI’s
most-wanted list.
Del Rosso at Poas Volcano National Park, Costa Rica, in 1985. Inset: Russell Means.
My Breakfast
with
Russell Means