Wednesday 26 January 2022

Designated US Ambassador lived her adolescence in Costa Rica

She lived in our country for six years and studied in San Jose educational centers, while her father served as an ambassador appointed by John F. Kennedy.

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QCOSTARICA – Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles, nominated by United States President Joe Biden for the position of Ambassador to Costa Rica, knows this country very well and is fluent in Spanish.

Cynthia Telles Photograph of Saint Clare College, where Cynthia Ann Telles studied. Photo courtesy of Milagro García.

Much is due to the fact that Telles lived part of her childhood and adolescence in Costa Rica, when her father, Raymond Telles, a native of El Paso, Texas, served as head of the US diplomatic mission in San José from May 22, 1961, to February 19, 1967.

She came to the country with her family when she was a 10-year-old girl, in 1961, after her father was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica by then U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

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The Telles family settled in the former residence of the United States Embassy, located in Escazú. There, they even received President Kennedy during his visit to Costa Rica in 1963.

In Costa Rica, she graduated from sixth grade and attended part of her high school, in Josefino (San José) schools.

After six years, after her father completed his diplomatic service in Costa Rica, Cynthia Ann Telles returned to the U.S. with her family.

U.S. President John Kennedy with the United States Ambassador to Costa Rica, Raymond Telles, in Washington D.C. in 1961. Photo: John F. Kennedy Library.

Now, six decades later, the professor of psychiatry at the University of California, returns to Tiquicia, though her appointment has still to be ratified by the

The news of Cynthia Ann Telles’ nomination rekindled the good memories of her ex-classmates and friends from the Escuela Angloamericana, where she graduated from sixth grade, as well as from Colegio Saint Clare (high school), where she studied for a couple of years before returning to the U.S.

They described her friend Cynthia as a sweet, humble and outstanding girl, although a little shy.

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That is why, they remember, her father did everything possible for her and her sister, Patricia, to make friends in Costa Rica. Every weekend, they remember, some of them were invited to the residence of the Embassy.

United States President John Kennedy attending an activity in the former residence of the United States Embassy in Costa Rica, during his visit to our country in 1963. Photo: John F. Kennedy Library.

“We went all weekend or overnight, we really enjoyed it. It was very nice because the staff loved Cynthia and her sister very much; So they’d make us hamburgers and fries, whatever Cynthia wanted.

“As little girls that we were, we enjoyed ourselves a lot, we played all over the house and in those huge gardens,” said María Emilia Chaves, a Costa Rican with whom Cynthia struck up a friendship during primary and high school.

In addition, they say, her father was always present at the most important activities of the school, so they also have great affection for the man who died in 2013.

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With his appointment to Costa Rica, Raymond Telles became the first Hispanic ambassador from the United States. He was of Mexican descent.

“When we graduated from sixth grade, he was the special guest who gave the diplomas to the little ones. Everyone was very happy because Don Raymond participated in activities that had to do with the school. He was very loved,” María Emilia Chaves affirmed.

Milagro García also met Cynthia Telles at Colegio Saint Clare. They weren’t classmates, but they were in the same grade.

García recalls that she was impressed when she found out that she was studying together with the daughter of the United States Ambassador, since, she says, he was a highly respected diplomat at that time.

“Don Raymond was a very important person; he was a reference for everyone. When she (Cynthia) got to college, she was awesome,” said Milagro.

Both Milagro García and María Emilia Chaves want the appointment of Cynthia Ann Telles to be formalized by the United States Government so that she returns to Costa Rica.

A dangerous disease in Costa Rica

Not all memories of Costa Rica may be positive for Cynthia Telles.

As she recounted in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she almost died at age 10 from an illness, infected with viral encephalitis from a mosquito bite, for which she had to be treated in a hospital in New Orleans, United States.

Doctors warned her parents that she would possibly die, but that if she survived, she would be left with brain damage, she would be paralyzed, or both.

However, her recovery astonished the doctors, who discharged the girl with the warning that she would never return to school.

“Oh yeah, I will,” Telles recalls yelling at the medics as the doors of the exit elevator from the medical center closed.

“It gave me a better appreciation of what it’s like to fight, to be marginalized, to be outside. At the same time, I developed an appreciation for supporting others,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

Telles even volunteered at a public hospital in Costa Rica at age 12.

She assured the Los Angeles Times that she was shocked by “the extremes of wealth and poverty” that she witnessed and that she was determined that she “wanted to give something back to the community.”

That experience marked her professional future.

Read more about the ambassador nominee at






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Q Costa Rica
Reports by QCR staff

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