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These stories were published Thursday, Jan. 23, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 16
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U.S. wants to count its citizens living overseas
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. federal government wants to count citizens living abroad in the 2010 census.

As a start, the U.S. Census Bureau will be conducting test counts in France, Kuwait and México next year. 

The test censuses will be the first step toward determining the feasibility of counting Americans overseas, the bureau said.

In the 1990 and 2000 censuses, only federal civilian employees and U.S. military and their dependents living overseas were included in the count, which used administrative records from the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. These counts then were added to those of United States residents to apportion the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the 2004 Overseas Enumeration Test, the Census Bureau, through partner organizations and English-language media in each of the three countries, will mount a publicity 

campaign to inform people how they can participate.

U.S. citizens living in the three countries may request that a questionnaire be mailed to their overseas address. In addition, Americans overseas may pick up questionnaires at embassies and consulates or from partner organizations that serve Americans overseas. They also may respond on the Internet.

The countries in the 2004 test were selected for their geographic diversity, as well as for the large numbers of American retirees, students and business people residing in large and small towns within their borders, said the bureau.

Through the 2004 Overseas Enumeration Test, the Census Bureau said it expects to gather information about the level of participation of Americans overseas, the quality of the data collected, the effectiveness of its overseas outreach and marketing campaigns and if there are any barriers to integrating an overseas enumeration with stateside enumeration processes in 2010.

The dead city of Tikal in Guatemala still is a spiritual draw for millions of Mayans, not to mention the many tourists who come to admire the pyramids and sculptures.
A.M. Costa Rica/Garett Sloane
Giant project to link the world of the Mayans
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three Washington-
based groups will work together to promote tourism and sustainable development in the ancestral region of the Mayan people: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and southern Mexico. Costa Rica is not included in the project.

The new "Mundo Maya Sustainable Development Tourism Program" will preserve and showcase the Mayan heritage in the 500,000-square-kilometer region where some five million descendants of the ancient Mayan civilization now live.

The new program was announced by the Inter-American Development Bank at whose headquarters the three groups met last week. They are the National Geographic Society, Conservation International, and Counterpart International. 

The development bank is financing preparation of the program, which will be carried out by the Guatemala-based Mundo Maya Organization. That organization was created in 1992 with the mission to promote the sustainable tourism development of the 

Maya region and to help preserve its cultural heritage and environment for future generations.

The development bank said a $150-million investment plan includes projects in archaeological restoration, development of parks and protected areas, tourism and social infrastructure, tourist micro-enterprises, and streamlining border crossings. From about the third to the ninth century A.D., Mayan civilization produced fabled temples and pyramids, highly accurate calendars, mathematics, and hieroglyphic writing. The area of influence extended into what is now northern Costa Rica.

The National Geographic Society said it is "gratified" to now have the opportunity to realize its vision of a route that would link great Mayan sites, while Conservation International said it looks forward to supporting "responsible tourism that helps to protect nature and brings tangible benefits to local peoples."

For its part, Counterpart International said the agreement recognizes the value of tourism as a development and anti-poverty tool.

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OAS arms report leaves questions unanswered
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A special investigation of a massive 2001 arms shipment is over, but the results are more diplomatic than detective work.

The Organization of American States reported Monday that officials from Nicaragua, Panamá, and Colombia have received a report on the diversion of a boatload of Nicaraguan arms to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.  But the report does not appear to be available to anyone else.

A request to the organization of American States for a copy of the report generated a response that a reporter should look at the Web site of the Panamanian Foreign Ministry at www.mire.gob.pa.

The Panamanian Foreign Ministry said that the report held that country blameless and said Nicaragua did not conduct checks before letting the arms leave the country.

The weapons, mostly AK-47s, plus $1 million in ammunition was shipped from Nicaragua in late 2001, and the paperwork said that the final recipient would be Panamanian police officials. The paperwork carried signatures purporting to be officials of Panamá.

After the boat left Nicaragua, the shipment was diverted to Colombia where members of the right-wing paramilitary forces unloaded the weapons and ammunition. Both Panamanian and Nicaraguan officials denied any guilty in the illegal shipment. Colombia is involved is a civil war of more than 30-years duration.

César Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States, announced in June that an investigation would be conducted. He appointed  retired U.S. diplomat Morris D. Busby, a former U.S. envoy to Colombia, to coordinate the probe.

The foreign ministers of Nicaragua, Panama and 

Colombia wrote Gaviria,  a former Colombian politician, asking that "the OAS assist our countries in investigating the matter, through the appropriate mechanisms." The ministers also asked for the findings and recommendations to be submitted to the three countries, within a reasonable time frame, "so as to accurately determine what took place and suggest ways to prevent similar events.

The report was due in December, but its release was not confirmed until Monday. The announcement was couched in diplomatic terms:

"Among its conclusions, the report states that not all the provisions of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA) had been observed, and that this contributed to the diversion. 

"The report also concludes that the criminal activities of international arms traffickers represent a threat that warrants a coordinated response from the Hemisphere. The Assistant Secretary General said that the General Secretariat of the OAS would do everything it could to ensure that the report contributes significantly to strengthening arms control mechanisms in force in the Hemisphere, through the application of the report’s recommendations to member states. 

Panamá said that the report exonerated Mireya Moscoso, the president, and that "the authorities of Panamá were not involved in the purchase of arms or their diversion" to Colombia. And it said that Nicaragua should have taken more steps to confirm that the purchase order for the weapons really came from the Policía Nacional of Panamá.

Nowhere does anyone report who was responsible for the arms shipment, although several arms brokers in Panamá have been questioned with little results.


 
 
Death toll mounts
in quake aftermath

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

COLIMA, Mexico — Rescue workers continue to search for survivors of a powerful earthquake in western Mexico. At least 24 people have died and more than 100 are injured. 

Vicente Fox, president of Mexico, flew here Wednesday to supervise relief operations and assess the damage in this Pacific coast state 300 miles from Mexico City.

The quake's epicenter was off the coast of Colima, not far from the port city of Manzanillo.

Reports trickling in from remote areas indicate the number of casualties will most likely increase and destruction could be more widespread than initially reported.

Dozens of homes and office buildings collapsed here at the state capital, and poor outlying areas. Many of the fallen structures were old and made from adobe and not strong enough to withstand a quake of that magnitude.

The army was sent in to assist frightened residents, many of whom spent the night in the street. The government set up six shelters, but only one was used since people were unaware of their availability. Many areas in the state have no electricity or phone service.

The quake was felt as far away as Mexico City, where people evacuated buildings, fearful they could collapse. No major damage has been reported, but the mayor of Mexico City sent inspectors to evaluate structures that may have been affected by the strong quake.

The earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7.8  struck Tuesday night and lasted for about 45 seconds. Although Colima was the hardest hit state, the quake was felt over a wide area of central Mexico. 

Challenge to Chavez
stalled by high court

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela's Supreme Court has suspended a planned Feb. 2 referendum on the rule of President Hugo Chavez. 

The court ruled Wednesday that electoral officials must stop preparations for the non-binding vote until a final decision is made on whether it is legal. Chavez opposes the referendum, calling it unconstitutional.  He says the opposition must wait until August, when he is halfway through his current term, to call a referendum on his rule. 

The high court ruling deals a blow to Chavez opponents, who began a general strike on Dec. 2 to force him to resign and call early elections. The strike has crippled the Venezuelan economy and paralyzed its crucial oil industry. On Wednesday, Venezuela's central bank suspended foreign exchange trading for five days to stem capital flight. 

So far this month, Venezuela's national currency, the bolivar, has lost more than 24 percent of its value.

Dad of 'Willy and Joe'
dies in California

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — World War II cartoonist Bill Mauldin, best known for his cartoon drawings of soldiers Willie and Joe, died Wednesday at a nursing home here. 

He was 81. Mauldin's family said he died of complications of Alzheimer's disease.

He was one of the 20th century's best-known editorial cartoonists, and his work earned him two Pulitzer Prizes. The first came in 1945, for his series Up Front With Mauldin, his humorous portrayal of World War II infantrymen Willie and Joe. 

The second award, in 1959, honored his depiction of jailed Soviet Novelist Boris Pasternak saying to another prisoner "I won the Nobel Prize for literature. What was your crime?" 

He also wrote and drew 16 books and acted in two movies, including the 1951production of The Red Badge of Courage. 

Mauldin was born in New Mexico in 1921. He attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, Illinois, before joining the U.S. Army in 1940. He is survived by seven sons.

World econ confab
set in Swiss Alps

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BERN, Switzerland — The World Economic Forum is opening in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos Thursday amid very tight security. More than 2,000 top political and corporate leaders from 99 countries are expected to participate in the five-day meeting. 

Attending this year's World Economic Forum are some 30 heads of state, including Brazil's new president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and Jordan's King Abdullah, 80 government ministers and 1,000 business leaders. Among the agenda items are the war on terrorism, prospects for the global economy and Iraq. 

Searches made here
linked to U.S. case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and about 50 Costa Rican policemen  conducted searches of 10 locations in and around San José Wednesday.

Although police officials did not say much, the search is presumed to be in pursuit of money-laundering evidence linked to an insurance fraud in the U.S. state of Florida.

In addition to central San José, searches were conducted in Sabanilla, Pavas and even in Heredia. In addition to houses, several storefronts underwent searches.  No U.,S. citizens are believed involved in the case at this end, although arrests are expected in Florida.
 
 
Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Psychiatrists

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Lawyers

INVESTMENT RECOVERY CENTER

Learn how to best protect your interests in the Villalobos case. Explore your options at
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Also, we invite you to join one of the most active discussion groups on the case.  Find out what people who care are saying. Join at irccr-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

2/16/02
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Real estate agents


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Investments





Investigators

Empresa de Investigadores Internacionales S.A.
Telephone (506) 280-5217 
FAX (506) 280-5120
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$1 million pledged for hemisphere anti-terrorism
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

SAN SALVADOR,  El Salvador — The United States is pledging $1 million to the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism to nurture the organization’s growth as a technical body devoted to increasing counterterrorism expertise in the Americas, according to U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner.

The committee, an arm of the Organization of American States, opened its third regular session on Wednesday in El Salvador. In his address to the conference, Bonner told regional diplomats that the U.S. donation represents a continued commitment to help protect the Western Hemisphere from existing and emerging terrorist threats.

Sixteen months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, "the threat from international terrorism is every bit as real, immediate and dangerous as it was then, if not more so," Bonner said. Moreover, he added, "we must remember that the threat from terrorism is a multi-national threat — it is a threat that knows no boundaries."

As he described the importance of the mission of the Committee Against Terrorism, Bonner also noted many countries in the hemisphere have grim first-hand experience of terrorism within their borders. He reminded his audience of previous attacks in Buenos Aires as well as "the kidnappers and bombers of Colombia, and the other perpetrators of terrorism in our part of the world."

The U.S. government will soon launch its new Department of Homeland Security, encompassing 22 existing federal agencies that each has some responsibility for protecting the United States, Bonner observed. One such agency, he pointed out, is the U.S. Customs Service that he currently manages. 

The Department of Homeland Security will help U.S. authorities to identify and respond to 

emerging threats such as "terrorist attacks on 
information systems that control or run the critical infrastructures that are essential to our economies and to our way of life," Bonner explained. "Networked systems are often globally interdependent, and failure or disruption in one system could lead to widespread damage."

He cited cyber-security as one major concern, in addition to "the development of alliances between largely domestic terror organizations around the world and international terrorist organizations for purposes of perpetrating specific attacks," "the use of surface-to-air missiles" by terrorists, "terrorist use of established smuggling and illegal migration routes in the region," and — perhaps most dangerous of all — "the possibility of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, nuclear, or biological, falling into terrorist hands."

The use of these weapons "poses not only a great physical threat to our citizens, [but] ... poses a great economic threat, as well," Bonner argued. "We need to increase the security surrounding the movement of trade between our nations" because "containerized shipping is the primary means of global trade." 

If "a terrorist attack involving a weapon of mass destruction [is] concealed in a cargo container," he noted, "[it] could wreak havoc on global trade and the global economy, and damage the economic growth of all nations."

To prevent such attacks, the U.S. Customs Service is introducing its Container Security Initiative where officials pre-screen such containers.

Just as the Bush Administration is reorganizing government agencies "to strengthen our capacity to respond to terrorist attacks and emerging terrorist threats," Bonner noted, "we are similarly strengthening our multilateral cooperation efforts in the global campaign against terrorism." In this spirit, he said, the United States has decided to pledge new financial support in the amount of $1 million" to help the committee and its mission.


 
Our reward offer is still $500

Louis Milanes

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This newspaper seeks the prompt return of two men who ran high-interest investment operations that have gone out of business.

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho, 62, was associated with Ofinter S.A., a money exchange house, and with his own private investment business that had about $1 billion in other people’s money on the books. 

Villalobos closed his business Oct. 14 and vanished.

Louis Milanes operated Savings Unlimited and several casinos in San José. He left the country with other members of his firm the weekend of Nov. 23. He may have as much as $260 million in his possession. Both operations catered to North Americans.

Villalobos had about 6,300 customers. Milanes had about 2,400.

Villalobos and Milanes are the subjects of international arrest warrants.  Associates of both men have been jailed.

A.M. Costa Rica has posted a $500 reward for information leading to the detention of either man with the hopes that others will make similar pledges. The newspaper believes that investors only will see some of their money when the two men are in custody.

Milanes has few supporters in San José. On the other hand, as the letters frequently on this page show, Villalobos still has supporters who believe that he will reappear and settle his debts. They believe he is in hiding because of a predatory Costa Rican government.

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