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(506) 223-1327         Published Monday, March 3, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 44            E-mail us
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Chávez rattles sabers after Colombia hits Ecuador
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Venezuela and Colombia moved closer to armed conflict Sunday as President Hugo Chávez ordered 10 battalions of troops, supported by tanks, to the border between the two nations.

Chávez, the left-wing Venezuelan president, also ordered the country's embassy in Bogotá closed. He did so in the course of his Sunday television talk, "Aló Presidente," before an audience of supporters clad in red. Chavez called on his military chief in the midst of the talk and told him to move the troops. Then he told the nation's foreign minister to close the embassy. Both men were in the audience.

Chávez took the actions because Colombia entered the nation of Ecuador to attack rebels of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. Killed in the attack was Raul Reyes, a spokesman and leader of the rebels. He was widely considered the No. 2 man. Chávez called the killing an assassination.

Ecuador also recalled its ambassador from Bogotá but left its trade representative in charge of the embassy. Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa, and Chávez are generally considered to be like-minded socialist leaders. Chávez had been trying to be an intermediary for the rebels and has called for countries to stop calling them terrorists.

Colombian officials said they were acting in self defense Saturday when troops attacked the jungle camp across the border in Ecuador. The rebels carry out military operations in Colombia and then flee to safety in the neighboring country.

Colombia's defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, told reporters Saturday that the air force bombed a rebel camp just inside Ecuador and then sent in ground troops. He said 17 rebels and one soldier were killed during the operation.

The death of the 59-year-old Reyes is seen as a victory for Colombia's President Álvaro Uribe, who has been under increasing international pressure to ease Colombia's four-decade conflict
Hugo Chavez
Government of Venezuela photo
Hugo Chávez during one of his Sunday talks

with the rebels. The United States has been providing much of the financial support for Uribe because the rebels are major producers of cocaine and heroin.

The Colombian government has been negotiating the swap of jailed rebels for rebel-held hostages. Four hostages were released to Venezuelan authorities  Wednesday.

The leftist rebel group is believed to be holding about 750 hostages in jungle hideouts.

Chávez, who has the benefit of Venezuela's growing petroleum revenues, considers Uribe a lap dog for Washington. He called him that Sunday. Chávez is believed to be negotiating with the leftist rebels in the hopes that a socialist government can be installed in Colombia. Chávez is believed to share the dream of the Liberator, Simón Bolívar, and seeks to restore Gran Colombia, a nation that briefly included present day Ecuador, Venezuelan, Colombia, Panamá and even some of Costa Rica. A joint rebel- Venezuelan military operation would be a challenge to the Colombian central government.

Chávez also has established a relationship with the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua and sees Cuba's Fidel Castro as his mentor.

Chávez last August made a $1 billion-plus arms deal with the Russian Republic for 100,000 rifles, modern Sukhoi-35 aircraft and even submarines.


Playa Garza pedophile believed to be on the run
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An admitted pedophile is believed to be on the run today as immigration police try to nab him.

The man, Tom Noel Mastin, inexplicably returned to Playa Garza on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya peninsula after walking out on his house arrest in Florida.

Some residents of Playa Garza think he has gone to Nicaragua. And they are mystified why he returned to his old haunts in the first place. Some had suggested vigilante action against the man.

He used to run a bar there.

An immigration source said that Mastin was on the road at least by Feb. 24, just two days after he admitted to charges of lewd and lascivious or indecent acts on a child, via a plea agreement in a
 Brevard County court. Immigration police think he arrived in Nicaragua by bus and then sneaked across the porous Costa Rican northern border.

He was in Playa Garza by Wednesday.  Immigration policemen tried to find him Friday, according to residents.

In addition to two years of house arrest, Mastin faced 13 years of a special form of probation for sex offenders. Brevard County law officers are considering him a probation violator, and he is facing 30 years in prison if caught and returned.

Mastin had been living in Costa Rica since some time in 1999, said immigration officials. An acquaintance said that Mastin was even getting a Social Security check each month, and, at least for a time, the check was forwarded through the U.S. Embassy here.  Mastin, then-70, was detained in early January 2007 and deported Jan. 31.



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Another overpass finished

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The highway overpass in San Sebastian is now open, and plans are under way for similar constructions at Paso Ancho and Alajuelita. The overpasses replace the rotundas or traffic circles that have made the Circunvalación a mess for motorists. Each overpass carrying the highway over the intersecting roadway costs about $3.5 million.

Traffic officials also are planning to build a metal pedestrian bridge at San Sebastian and have it ready in three months, they said Friday.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that when the jobs are done, motorist will save 55 percent of their time in going through the highway, which is the southern bypass for the city. Some 70,000 cars use the highway each day.

Our readers' opinions
He wants fair play, justice
in concession allocations


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I was very sorry to see the loss of the beach houses mentioned in Wednesday's edition.

Foreign residents and Ticos alike know the maritime zone law is a mess. It was born of the best intentions to secure access for all to the beaches and to guarantee environmental protection for these fragile areas. Unfortunately only vague and general directions were given to the local municipalities on how to implement this law, and the result is a wide variety of interpretations, declarations, and permissions throughout the coastal areas.

Santa Cruz in Guanacaste couldn’t be more different than Golfito in the south and so on. The laws change from region to region, from one alcalde administration to the next. Foreigners and Ticos alike who try to follow the letter of the law to gain a concession for these properties enter an “Alice in Wonderland” maze where nothing is as it seems.

Government agencies constantly contradict each other and fight each other for jurisdiction over rulings. The guidelines change on a continual basis, and when one is confident that he or she has gained a concession according to the law, many times that concession is revoked by another agency.

These obstacles don’t seem to be a problem to the mega corporations with their armies of lawyers and their deep pockets for “contributions,” but for the average person, Tico or foreigner, trying to enjoy his place on the coast, there is no guarantee that by following the law you will receive justice or even fair play.

Yes, these are, in reality, government-owned lands that the occupier does not own and only leases from the government. However, the government has installed laws to allow the leasing of these lands to private parties and should not use the power of their position to extort exorbitant taxes or to hinder the orderly process of gaining these concessions through their inability to offer leadership or their greed for chorizo.

Private citizens have the right, under law, to live and develop this land, according to the law, without being exploited or terrorized. This is just another example of the government’s inability to lead in a situation that affects its citizens. Since one can only build with a concession from a plan regulador, the government needs to make a consistent and fair plan for its citizens to follow to attain that concession.

I applied for a concession for my property and the first step is to petition for a majon, a government marker showing the end of the 50-meter zone where all building is prohibited. To have a plan regulador for the area, all the owners must first place majones on their properties.

I received notice that if I paid all expenses for the engineers to travel to the site and all the permit costs and all the materials involved ($1,975) I could have my majon.

There are hundreds of homes in this area in the maritime zone, mostly belonging to poor fishermen. Are my fishermen neighbors going to pay a million colons each for a majon? I think not.

No majones means no plan regulador means no concessions means no legal homes. Instead, after the violent actions of the Quepos mayor, now we all must live under the constant threat of a backhoe coming to destroy the homes that have been here for generations. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

The government offers no path for legalization and now the threat of homelessness. We all ask for the same thing: clarity and fair play in the law and consistency in the enforcement.

Jim Shaw
Paquera
 
How about Gaza residents
who are under attack?


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The Jewish community is upset with Costa Rica's decision to "recognize" a Palestinian state?

Is the community also upset with the daily slaughter of men, women, and children in Gaza (24 yesterday including three children). Is the community upset when even the most basic human needs are cut off from Gaza. Rockets with WW II technology ineffectually fired into southern Israel are met with state of the art aircraft (U.S. supplied) to further suppress the Palestinians.

It was their land until 1947 began the continued take over condoned by the world's powers began. A question in closing: Which is the only nation to benefit from 9/11?

Sam Dillon
Atenas 

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Sunday was a great day for dressing up your dog. Lesli Carazo and Felipe were among those at XI Festival de Canes, a benefit for the Asociación Nacional Protectora de Animales., So was Jessica Chavarría and husband Jorge Padilla and their Peiky and Perla, who resemble space pups. The event was in Curridabat.
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Country wins some U.S. praise for its anti-drug efforts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. State Department calls Costa Rica an increasingly important transit point for narcotics headed north, but it praises the Óscar Arias administration for its anti-drug efforts.

Text of report HERE!

The report, released Friday, praises this country for confiscating 27 metric tons of cocaine on both land and sea routes during 2007.

The 22,727 drug-related arrests made in 2007 are more than four times the amount made two years ago under the previous administration, the report said.

Costa Rica is a member of the Egmont Group, but must pass a terrorist financing law before May 2008 to remain in the Egmont Group, said the report. The 18-year-old group
is an informal organization of countries designed to fight money laundering.

The report said that drugs are smuggled up the Interamerican highway, sometimes to the international airport in Managua, Nicaragua, and that large amounts of cash, proceeds from the drug trade, are smuggled down.

Said the report about the future of drug law enforcement here:

"In the year ahead, Costa Rica intends to attack maritime trafficking both through its own direct efforts and through continued collaboration with the U.S. Government. The Government of Costa Rica also plans to deploy its Mobile Enforcement Team interdiction team twice a month to address land-based interdiction, especially at border inspection points. The projected increase in number and improved training of police will enable the Government of Costa Rica to more successfully fight crime, including trafficking."


It was a really bad moment for the emergency commission
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If it were a real emergency, everyone would have died. That's what many were left thinking and some even said aloud, at a flood simulation in Sixaola.

Many were invited to watch and participate in the grand demonstration Thursday. In May 2004 and in January 2005 floods hit the little Caribbean town so hard, that many homes were submerged. More than 2,000 persons on the
Caribbean coast were forced out of their homes. After years of preparations, perhaps now the tiny community was ready to face the waters.

News reporters traveled five hours from San José to see the demonstration, as did Fuerza Pública agents and other emergency officials. The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias invited members from the nearby Costa Rican and Panamanian communities to come see the event. The resident representative from the United Nations development program attended the event and announced that the United Nations would donate new radios and
Sixaola's alarm
Silent siren
communication equipment to emergency services in the area.

Bulbs flashed and cameramen recorded as Daniel Gallardo, president of the national emergency commission reached up in a dramatic moment to press the red button. The button would sound the new siren which is taller than any building in Sixaola. Officials said the siren would be heard for seven kilometers, across the border to Panamá and in neighboring communities. When all was hushed Gallardo slowly pressed down the button. Nothing happened. More photos were taken.
“They never tried the alarm when they installed it,” said one local woman. Repeated attempts were made and finally officials enacted Plan B. The ambulances turned on their sirens. “What is Plan C?,” asked one bystander, “a cowbell?”

The rest of the emergency demonstration included: an “evacuation of the town” with one small motor boat, a simulated car accident in which two dummies were loaded into ambulances, and an evacuation of the town's clinic.

In the last real flood, water filled the Sixaola clinic two meters high, said one emergency official.

“The point of a simulation is to test things and see what mistakes are made in order to do it right the next time.” said Rebeca Madrigal, a spokeswoman for the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias, “so I am very positive about it,” she explained after the simulation. Ms. Madrigal said it was the first time Panamanian emergency workers had worked together in a demonstration with Costa Rican workers, so it was a step in the right direction. Workers will plant 60,000 small trees by the Río Sixaola in the coming weeks to help the banks endure flood waters, she said.

Gallardo said the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias would perform other drills soon in Guanacaste and other parts of Limón.

“Sixaola in 2005 was the worst emergency situation I've ever seen” said Sergio Ureña Hernández, who has worked the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias for 20 years. He described how water swept through houses and destroyed roads. A number of business and residential sections of Sixaola were under five feet of water and more than 450 persons were flooded from their homes in the Sixaola and Talamanca areas, according to reports at the time.

Ureña said when there are no national emergencies, the group of about 100 workers, give demonstrations in local schools and communities, and hold practice drills.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 3, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 44

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Free trade deals become major issue in Democratic race
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Amid a weakening U.S. economy, America's foreign-trade policy has become a contentious issue in the presidential race. Both major Democratic Party candidates say free-trade pacts have harmed American workers, while the presumed Republican nominee — as well as President George Bush — are defending trade as necessary and economically beneficial.

America's economy has undergone a transformation in recent decades, with millions of manufacturing jobs transferred overseas. At the same time, much of the job growth recorded in the United States has come in the service sector, often at lower wages and with fewer benefits than the manufacturing jobs that once formed the backbone of the U.S. economy.

Despite this trend, U.S. gross domestic product has nearly tripled during the past 20 years, with unemployment rates that rarely rise above 6 percent. But America's strong overall economic performance does not appear to have boosted the public's perceptions of the benefits of trade.

Recent polls show declining support for pacts such as the North American Free Trade Agreement. The agreement, known as NAFTA, was negotiated in the 1990s between the United States, Canada and Mexico. It is particularly unpopular in states like Ohio that have seen entire industries relocate overseas.

At a recent Democratic presidential debate in Ohio, Sen. Barack Obama of Illlinois said trade pacts like NAFTA have harmed American workers and their communities.

"If you travel through Youngstown [Ohio] and you travel through communities in my home state of Illinois, you will see entire cities that have been devastated as a consequence of trade agreements that were not adequately structured to make sure that U.S. workers have a fair deal," said Obama.

Obama stressed he is not anti-trade, but wants to make sure that future trade pacts include labor, safety and environmental standards to protect American workers and consumers.

His convention rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, had a similar message. "I have seen the factories close and move," said Sen. Clinton. "We need to have a plan to fix NAFTA. I would immediately have a trade time out."

But if Democrats are sounding protectionist themes, not so
Republicans. The presumed Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, recently said that NAFTA has created jobs in the United States, and that erecting trade barriers would be self-defeating.

Thursday, President Bush echoed those words. "Free trade is essential to the formation of high-paying quality jobs," said Bush. Bush added that dismantling or rejecting trade pacts would anger and alienate U.S. allies. However, the trade pacts, including the Central American Free Trade Agreement that includes the United States and Costa Rica, among others, have clauses that allow governments to end the agreements with prior notice.

In recent years, the U.S. Congress also has approved a free-trade deal with Peru. Approval is pending for similar pacts with Colombia, Panamá, and South Korea.

Stu Rothenberg, who publishes a political newsletter in Washington, says in the current political climate, with a weakened U.S. economy, getting the Democratically- controlled Congress to approve further trade deals will be difficult.

"Democrats believe that the evolution of the U.S. economy is a function of jobs going overseas, and they regard the loss of those jobs as a huge problem for the country," said Rothenberg. "The way they often put it is that high-paid, skilled manufacturing jobs go overseas, and in place we get more people serving hamburgers at McDonalds."

Rotherberg says, on the whole, Americans have grown wary of free trade. But he is quick to add that the sentiment is not uniform. He notes that in U.S. regions that depend on exports, especially in agriculture, reject protectionism.

"Many Midwest states, people in Kansas and Nebraska tend to be very free trade, because exporting U.S. agricultural products is absolutely crucial to them," he said.

Rothenberg notes that many of the states where trade is a contentious issue — like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania — are so-called "swing states" in the presidential race, where neither party can automatically assume victory.

In 2004, George Bush's win in Ohio gave him the electoral votes he needed to surpass his Democratic rival, John Kerry, and win re-election. Ohio is certain to be a major target for the eventual Democratic presidential nominee, and if the current debate among candidates is any indication, trade will remain a central campaign issue in the months ahead.


Cuba signs companion U.N. human rights pacts that Fidel opposed
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cuban government signed two United Nations human rights pacts Thursday that former Cuban President Fidel Castro opposed for more than 30 years.

Cuba's foreign minister, Felipe Perez Roque, signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

He said the Cuban government still had reservations about some provisions in the pacts.
The right of workers to form and join trade unions is among Cuba's concerns about the pacts.

Roque announced his government's intention to sign the pacts in December when Fidel Castro was still the Cuban president. Roque also announced in December that Cuba would open its doors in early 2009 to regular scrutiny by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Raúl Castro formally replaced his brother as Cuba's president earlier this week. He had been running the country on a provisional basis since his brother became ill in July 2006.


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Another Costa Rican fishing boat found with suspected coke
By the A.M. Costa Rica Staff

The U.S. Coast Guard seized a Costa Rican fishing boat and nearly 1,800 pounds of cocaine in the Pacific, said a spokesman from the security ministry. The boat and detained suspects who are still at sea, are expected to arrive ashore today, said the vice-minister of security Friday.

U.S. Coast Guard agents located the fishing boat in international waters Thursday, according to Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. The U.S. Coast Guard work with Costa Rica in the joint treaty, in which both countries patrol international waters for narcotraffic and other illegal activities.
 
The seized fishing boat is called the “Astec,” and was registered in Puntarenas, according to ministry. It was intercepted in the Pacific, said the spokesman. The security ministry estimated the amount of cocaine at 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds) or more.
The Coast Guard detained four suspects, said a spokesman from the security ministry. Those detained include the captain, who is also the owner of the boat, He has the last names of Castro Matamoros. Three sailors were identified by the last names of Ulloa Lara, López Bustos, and Gutiérrez Mayorga.

The suspects, who are still at sea, are expected to arrive sometime today, according to Gerardo Lázcares, vice-minister of security.

Costa Rican law officers sized two boats carrying cocaine earlier this year, according to the security ministry.

The Guardacostas found one motorboat in Penshurt, Limón, which contained 366 kilograms (807 pounds) of cocaine in January. The security ministry said the boat was from Colombia. The Judicial Investigation Organization seized a sport fishing boat which carried 310 kilos (683 pounds) of cocaine, according to security reports.


Venezuela and Burma faulted in U.S. report on illegal drugs
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. State Department report Friday said Colombia and Afghanistan remain the world's biggest producers of illicit cocaine and opium. The annual report faults Venezuela and Burma for inadequate efforts over the past year to try to tackle the drug problem.

The massive two-volume report, mandated by Congress, identifies 20 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa as major illicit drug-producing or drug-transit countries.

But it praises several of them for efforts to combat the problem, notably Colombia and Afghanistan. It says only Venezuela and Burma have "failed demonstrably" to fulfill international commitments to fight the drug trade.

Introducing the report, Assistant Secretary of State for Narcotics and Law Enforcement David Johnson said while Colombia is the source of 90 per cent of the cocaine reaching the United States, the Bogota government is making "notable progress" against narco-terrorists who only recently threatened the country's stability.

Similarly, Johnson praised the Mexican government of President Felipe Calderón for what he termed "decisive actions" to combat increasingly violent Mexican drug gangs operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

"We have a partner that has made clear that it wants to work with the United States," said Johnson. "President Calderón has made some real steps that were tough for him to make in order to confront organized crime within his country. And we want to work with the government of Mexico because we think we can make significantly more
progress by working together, and we actually think we face a common threat here."

Johnson said nearly all the cocaine that reaches the United States from South America passes through Mexico and Central America.

In a relatively new trend, he said cocaine moving through Venezuela is reaching European markets via west African transit points - notably according to the report, Guinea-Bissau.

Johnson declined to accuse the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez of complicity with traffickers but said that government is providing "no real cooperation" with the United States.

"When we observe the trafficking from Venezuela both north into North America — the United States and Canada — as well as to Europe, we don't see significant measures, or any real measures, taken to counter that," said Johnson. "And that's obviously of great concern to us. It's of great concern to the countries in the Caribbean, which are the intermediate stops for significant parts of this transit, and we're troubled by that."

The report's listing of Venezuela and Burma as failures in the drug fight would mandate a cut-off of U.S. aid to those countries. But in the case of Venezuela, President George Bush has issued a waiver allowing continued U.S. funding for programs supporting civil society, and what are termed "beleaguered democratic institutions" there.

There is no direct U.S. aid to Burma, said to be Asia's largest source of methamphetamine pills.


Text of the U.S. report on Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panamá
Here are edited versions of the U.S. State Department's reports on Costa Rica and neighboring countries.

Costa Rica

I. Summary

Costa Rica is an increasingly important transit point for narcotics destined for the United States and Europe. Drug seizures quadrupled during the second year of the Arias administration. Local consumption of illicit narcotics, particularly crack and cocaine, is growing at an alarming rate, along with the dramatic rise in drug related violent crimes. In 2007, the Costa Rican Counter Narcotics Institute  notably improved its coordination efforts in the areas of intelligence, demand reduction, asset seizure, and precursor chemical licensing. Costa Rica is a party to the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Costa Rica’s position on the isthmus linking Colombia with the United States, its long Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, and its jurisdiction over the Cocos Islands make it vulnerable to drug transshipment for South American cocaine and heroin destined primarily for the United States. The Government of Costa Rica closely and effectively cooperates with the U.S. Goverment in combating narcotics trafficked by land, sea, and air. Costa Rica also has a stringent governmental licensing process for the importation and distribution of controlled precursor chemicals.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007

Policy Initiatives. The Ministry of Public Security named a new coast guard commander in 2007. The new leadership has aggressively addressed the serious deficiencies that have plagued the readiness of the Costa Rican coast guard through surveys prioritizing the most pressing needs, improving discipline and pride in service, repair primary interception vessels, moving assets to intercept Pacific based traffickers and addressing electronic communications problems.

Accomplishments. Close bilateral cooperation and improved intra-Government of Costa Rica coordination yielded impressive counternarcotics successes in 2007. Costa Rican authorities seized a record 27 metric tons of cocaine, of which 13 metric tons were seized on land or air and 14 metric tons seized in joint maritime interdiction operations with U.S. law enforcement. The Government of Costa Rica also seized 119,687 doses of crack cocaine, 17.6 kilograms (kg) of heroin, eradicated over 2.3 million marijuana plants and seized 4.5 tons of processed marijuana. Additionally, Costa Rican authorities seized 19,003 ecstasy tablets (six times more than in 2006), 3.8 million pseudoephedrine tablets, and confiscated over $7.7 million in U.S. and local currency (more than twice as much as 2006), as well as 7.4 million Euros. The 22,727 drug-related arrests made in 2007 are more than four times the amount made two years ago under the previous administration.

While no methamphetamine laboratories were detected in 2007, the Government of Costa Rica has been active in trying to verify the identity of chemical precursor importers to ensure legitimacy. In at least one case, they cancelled a shipment of chemical precursors due to the non-existence of the importing company.

Law Enforcement Efforts. Costa Rican counternarcotics efforts are carried out by both the judicial branch (Judicial Investigative Police-OIJ) and the executive (Ministry of Public Security’s Drug Control Police—PCD). The interagency Mobile Enforcement Team that include canine units, drug control police, customs police, and specialized vehicles, coordinated 24 cross-border operations with authorities in Nicaragua and Panama in 2007, meeting its goal of two deployments per month. The Government of Costa Rica added nearly 1000 new police officers to its force in 2007, and plans to increase the police force by 3,000 additional officers over the next three years (for a total of 4,000 new officers since the policy was announced in 2006). Terrorist financing and reformed money laundering legislation are under consideration in the Assembly, and are expected to pass in early 2008.

Corruption. As a matter of policy, no senior Government of Costa Rica official or the Government of Costa Rica, encourages or facilitates the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. A strict law against illicit enrichment was enacted in 2006 in response to unprecedented corruption scandals involving three ex-presidents. Although the ex-presidents’ cases from 2004 have still not yet come to trial, Costa Rica authorities appear to remain committed to combat public corruption. The Government of Costa Rica aggressively investigates allegations of official corruption or abuse.

Agreements and Treaties. Costa Rica is a party to the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention, the 1961 Single Convention as amended by its 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Costa Rica is also a party to the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, the U.N. Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention on Extradition, the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, and the Inter-American Convention against Trafficking in Illegal Firearms. The 1998 bilateral Maritime Counter drug Cooperation Agreement, and its Ship-Rider program resulted in record seizures at sea during 2007. The 1991 United States-Costa Rican extradition treaty was again actively used in 2007. Costa Rica ratified a bilateral stolen vehicles treaty in 2002.  Costa Rica and the United States are also parties to bilateral drug information and intelligence sharing agreements dating from 1975 and 1976. Costa Rica is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group, but must pass a terrorist financing law before May 2008 to remain in the Egmont Group. It is a member of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States. Costa Rica signed the Caribbean regional maritime counter narcotics agreement in April 2003, and is currently taking the final internal steps necessary to bring the agreement into force.

Cultivation/Production. Costa Rica produces low quality marijuana but no other illicit drug crops or synthetic drugs.

Drug Flow/Transit. In 2007, smaller land-based shipments of 50-500 kgs. of cocaine continued, along with a 400 percent increase of larger shipments (500-1,000 kg). Trafficking of narcotics by maritime routes remained steady with nearly 14 metric tons (the same amount as last year) of cocaine seized at sea during joint Government of Costa Rica-U.S. Government operations. Traffickers continue to use Costa Rican-flagged fishing boats to smuggle multi-ton shipments of drugs and to provide fuel for other go-fast boats, with an increasing emphasis on the Pacific routes. Traffickers also have increased smuggling of drugs through the postal system. Costa Rican authorities\ captured more than 125 kilos of cocaine that had been put in the mail, almost tripling the amount detected in 2006.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. The prevention unit of the Institutio Costarricense Sobre Drogas oversees drug prevention efforts and educational programs throughout the country. The Costa Rican counter narcotics institute and the ministry of education continued to distribute updated demand-reduction materials to all school children in 2007. The Mobile Enforcement Team visited local schools during deployments, using its canines and specialized vehicles as effective emissaries for demand-reduction messages. In 2007, PCD publicized its special phone-in number (176) in their demand-reduction materials, to encourage citizens to report drug-related activity in their neighborhoods while remaining safely anonymous. As of November 2007, almost 8,000 calls had been received. The PCD considers the 176 phone-in program to be an excellent source of information that is analyzed and often leads to arrests.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. While land-based interdiction, especially border checkpoints, remains important to U.S. strategy, U.S. assistance has focused resources on interdicting maritime-based narcotics shipments. The U.S. supported the SNGC’s reorganization and efforts to improve interdiction by providing technical assistance and equipment. The U.S. is also supporting reforms in police training.

The Road Ahead. In the year ahead, Costa Rica intends to attack maritime trafficking both through its own direct efforts and through continued collaboration with the U.S. Government. The Government of Costa Rica also plans to deploy its Mobile Enforcement Team interdiction team twice a month to address land-based interdiction, especially at border inspection points. The projected increase in number and improved training of police will enable the Government of Costa Rica to more successfully fight crime, including trafficking.



Nicaragua

I. Summary

Nicaragua is a sea and land trans-shipment route for South American cocaine and heroin trafficked to the United States. The Government of Nicaragua is making a determined effort to fight both domestic drug abuse and the international narcotics trade, despite an ineffectual, corrupt, and politicized judicial system. Nicaragua is a party to the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Drug trafficking organizations take advantage of Nicaragua’s geographic location along a key trafficking route to transport drugs by land, air, and sea to the United States. The Managua International Airport is also a trans-shipment point for drugs and smuggled currency. Law enforcement and military authorities have collaborated to seize notable amounts of drugs, despite limited material and technical resources. For example, as of November, they have seized 9.7 metric tons (MT) of cocaine and over $6 million in the calendar year.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007

Policy Initiatives. In 2007, the National Assembly addressed some of the legal weaknesses in Nicaragua’s efforts against money laundering and terrorism financing by proposing a new Penal Code, still being debated in the National Assembly. The new Code contains language establishing money laundering as a crime independent of drug trafficking, stiffer penalties, and terrorism financing as a crime. The Penal Code is expected to be fully approved and enacted in 2008. After a U.S.-sponsored press event highlighted Nicaragua’s lack of a Financial Investigative Unit (FIU), the National Assembly resurrected a 2004 bill creating an independent FIU. As of December, however, the bill had still not been passed in the Assembly’s Economic Committee.

In March 2007, the Government of Nicaragua created a Vetted Unit within the Nicaraguan National Police (NNP). The unit, comprised of 18 NNP agents of diverse law enforcement backgrounds, training and experiences, is charged with conducting investigations of international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations operating in Nicaragua. It is expected to work closely with newly formed anti-corruption groups in the Attorney General’s office, as well as with other anti-corruption units in the region.

Law Enforcement Efforts. During 2007, Nicaragua authorities were very successful in their enforcement operations, seizing over 13 metric tons of cocaine, 153 kg. of heroin, and arresting 192 individuals for international drug trafficking, including Nicaraguan, Colombian, Mexican, Guatemalan, and Honduran nationals. Nicaragua authorities seized a total of $6,326,740 in currency being smuggled south ($2,907,545 of it at the Peñas Blancas checkpoint on the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border), as well as $965,010 seized at Managua International Airport.

The NNP also disrupted the operations of a Mexican drug trafficking organization in Nicaragua, which had been operating there since 2004. According to the NNP, the Sinaloa Cartel, had established air, land and maritime transportation cells and had been operating with impunity. With the seizure of over 5 tons of cocaine and the arrest of 25 members of the organization, the NNP was successful in disrupting the organization’s maritime and air transportation cells.

Corruption. As a matter of policy, the Government of Nicaragua does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. However corruption is a pervasive and continuing problem in law enforcement and the judiciary.

In previous years, judges often let drug suspects go free after a short detention. Due to the rampant corruption in the Nicaraguan judiciary, the United States no longer provides foreign assistance to the Nicaraguan Supreme Court.

Agreements and Treaties. Nicaragua is a party to the 1961 U.N. Single Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention. A U.S.-Nicaragua extradition treaty has been in effect since 1907. Nicaragua does not extradite its nationals, but will domestically prosecute nationals for crimes committed outside Nicaragua. Nicaragua’s commitment to domestic prosecutions, however, has been inconsistent. Nicaragua is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), which plans to investigate the country’s failure to comply with the requirements outlined in its most recent country report. The United States and Nicaragua signed a bilateral counternarcotics maritime agreement that entered into force in November 2001. Nicaragua is a party to the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on trafficking in persons and is a member of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) of the Organization of American States (OAS). Nicaragua is a party to the U.N. Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption and in 2001 signed the consensus agreement on establishing a mechanism to evaluate compliance with the Convention. Nicaragua also ratified the Inter-American Mutual Legal Assistance Convention in 2002, an agreement that facilitates sharing of legal information between countries. Nicaragua signed the Caribbean regional maritime counternarcotics agreement in 2003, but has not yet taken any action to bring it into force.

Cultivation/Production. Marijuana is cultivated in Nicaragua for domestic consumption. Exact cultivation figures are unknown.

Drug Flow/Transit. Nicaragua has a high volume of maritime smuggling on both its Pacific and Caribbean coasts, with increasing traffic on the Pacific coast in 2007. While the majority of the country’s limited maritime interdiction assets are concentrated on the Caribbean coast, go-fast vessels are transiting the Pacific side of the entire Central American coast with multi-ton shipments of cocaine. During this calendar year, Nicaraguan authorities seized more than 1.5 metric tons of cocaine on the Atlantic side and nearly 4 metric tons on the Pacific. It is believed that the majority of large seizures made on land were successfully smuggled via maritime conveyances. Contraband shipments are generally smuggled north via the Pan-American Highway in hidden compartments and smuggled currency is transported south through Central America.

U.S. and Nicaraguan intelligence information suggests that the Managua International Airport is being utilized as a halfway staging area in the smuggling of contraband. Heroin and cocaine are transported into Nicaragua and are further

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transshipped from Nicaragua to the United States and Europe via the international airport. Currency is also being smuggled into Nicaragua via the International Airport. In 2007, the NNP seized over $965,000 from a Mexican registered privately owned aircraft at the airport. Clandestine airstrips in remote areas of the country are frequently used by trafficking  organizations. Nicaragua does not possess the capacity to detect or interdict suspect aircraft.

Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction). The D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program, established in Nicaragua in 2001, has now been translated into the Miskito language and is being implemented on the Atlantic coast. In 2007, the United States worked with the NNP’s Department of Juvenile Affairs to launch a pilot effort for the Second Step (Segundo Paso) demand reduction/at-risk youth program which is designed for younger children. Drug consumption in Nicaragua remains a growing problem, particularly on the Atlantic coast, where the increase in narcotics trans-shipment during recent years has generated a rise in local drug abuse. The Ministries of Education and Health, the NNP, and the Nicaraguan Fund for Children and Family (FONIF) have all undertaken limited demand reduction campaigns.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Bilateral Cooperation. The U.S. continues to encourage Nicaragua in interdiction, as well as encouraging more fundamental challenges to corruption and money laundering. During 2007, the United States provided counternarcotics assistance to the NNP and start-up funding to the new National Police Vetted Unit, a unit that investigates international drug trafficking, corruption and money laundering. The U.S. Goverment continued support to the Nicaraguan Navy with refurbishment of three large naval boats and several smaller patrol boats for maritime interdiction on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The U.S. Goverment also provided maritime law enforcement, small boat operations, maintenance and logistics, engineering and leadership training to the Nicaraguan Navy in 2007.

The Road Ahead. The U.S. Goverment hopes to continue its fruitful working relationship with the Nicaraguan military and law enforcement institutions. Nicaragua still needs anti-corruption reform, including professionalization and de-politicization of the judiciary and the Prosecutor General’s office, and the passage and implementation of stronger statutes to combat corruption and money laundering.

Panama

I. Summary

Panama is a major drug transit country. Its geographic location, developed maritime and transportation infrastructure facilitate trans-shipment of illegal drugs from Colombia to the United States and Europe. While the Torrijos Administration has been dynamic in its cooperation with the U.S. on security and law enforcement issues it has been less vigorous in its cooperation with regional neighbors. Panama seized 60 metric tons of cocaine in 2007 — the highest amount in recent years. Panama is a party to the 1988 United Nations Drug Convention.

II. Status of Country

Panama is a major trans-shipment point for narcotics destined for the U.S. and other global markets. Traffickers exploit Panama’s well-developed transportation infrastructure, such as containerized seaports, the Pan-American Highway, a rapidly growing international hub airport (Tocumen), numerous uncontrolled airfields, and relatively unguarded coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific. Smuggling of weapons and drugs continued in 2007, particularly between the isolated Darien region and Colombia. The Government of Panama (GOP) has staffed the U.S.-funded Guabala checkpoint (inaugurated in 2006) on the Pan-American Highway, but resources and high-level management have been lacking. The flow of illicit drugs has contributed to increasing domestic drug abuse, according to Panamanian authorities. Panama is not a significant producer of drugs or precursor chemicals. However, limited amounts of cannabis are cultivated for local consumption.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007

Policy Initiatives. The Torrijos Administration is publicly committed to counternarcotics and anticrime cooperation with the U.S. As a member state of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Panama participated actively in the U.S.-SICA security dialogue. A number of legislative initiatives have not been passed. These include a proposal to change the criminal justice system from a written (inquisitorial) to an oral (accusatorial) system. A 2006 proposal to merge the current National Air Service (SAN) and National Maritime Service (SMN) into a coast guard (based on the U.S. model) was also not introduced in the National Assembly. The GOP took limited steps to create a stand-alone border control service separate from the National Police (PNP). Also, the GOP took legislative action and disbanded the Technical Judicial Police (PTJ) and transferred most of its personnel to the National Police (PNP), with day-to-day control of major criminal investigations under the direction of prosecutors.

Accomplishments. In 2007, the GOP seized a record 60 metric tons of cocaine in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard. This included the largest on-record maritime seizure of cocaine, which was over 16 metric tons in March 2007. Several sensitive vetted units continue to operate with impressive results. The former head of the SMN was arrested and jailed on charges of corruption and illegal enrichment. In another high profile case, Colombian trafficker Jose Nelson Urrego Cardenas was arrested and his numerous properties confiscated.

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2007, in addition to the 60 metric tons (MT) of cocaine, GOP authorities seized 96 kg of heroin, nearly 3.9 metric tons of marijuana, and made 207 arrests for international drug-related offenses. Several USG-supported GOP vetted units expanded operations in 2007. The joint Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-Department of Energy (DOE) Container Security Initiative (CSI) was launched in Panama in October. The primary mission of the CSI is to enhance global container security from the threat posed by high-risk shipments.

Corruption. As a matter of policy, no senior GOP official or the GOP encourages or facilitates the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs of other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The National Anti-Corruption Commission, made strides in 2007 to address government corruption, including auditing government accounts and launching major investigations. A USG-funded “Culture of Lawfulness” program has trained officials from the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA), Private Schools Association, and the PNP on the importance of transparency, with courses taught in schools (early high school level) and in the PNP Academy.

Agreements and Treaties. Panama is a party to the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention, the 1961 U.N. Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances. A mutual legal assistance treaty and an extradition treaty are in force between the U.S. and Panama, although the Constitution does not permit extradition of Panamanian nationals. A Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with Panama was signed on March 15, 1999. A stolen vehicles treaty is also in force. In 2002, the U.S. Goverment and GOP concluded a comprehensive maritime interdiction agreement. Panama has bilateral agreements on drug trafficking with the United Kingdom, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, and Peru. In 2007, Panama signed the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Panama is a party to the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, and is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Corruption. Panama is a member of the OAS and is a party to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. Panama is a member state of SICA and an active participant in the U.S.-SICA security dialogue.

Cultivation and Production. Cannabis cultivation in Panama is limited, and is mostly for domestic consumption.

Drug Flow/Transit. Drugs transit Panama via fishing vessels, cargo ships, small aircraft, and go-fast boats. Hundreds of abandoned or unmonitored legal airstrips are used by traffickers for refueling, pickups, and deliveries. Couriers transiting Panama by commercial air flights also moved cocaine and heroin to the U.S. and Europe during 2007. Limited manufacturing of synthetic drugs occurs in Panama for local consumption. The majority of synthetic drugs distributed in Panama are smuggled into the country via commercial aircraft (using couriers) originating from Europe.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. In 2007, the GOP implemented the final part of its five-year counternarcotics strategy that included 29 demand reduction, drug education, and drug treatment projects, at a total cost of $6.5 million to fund the projects during the five-year period. MEDUCA and CONAPRED, with U.S. Goverment support, promoted counternarcotics training for teachers, information programs, and supported the Ministry’s National Drug Information Center (CENAID). The projects produced positive results such as the training of 250,000 students in drug prevention by the Ministry of Education.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives. U.S. Coast Guard-supported programs focus on improving Panama’s ability to interdict, investigate, and prosecute illegal drug trafficking and other transnational crimes; strengthening Panama’s judicial system; assisting Panama to implement domestic demand reduction programs; encouraging the enactment and implementation of effective laws governing precursor chemicals and corruption; improving Panama’s border security; and ensuring strict enforcement of existing laws. INL, DHS, and U.S. Coast Guard provided resources for modernization and upkeep of SMN and PNP vessels and bases, conducted maritime law enforcement training courses, and assisted the SAN with training personnel and maintaining key aircraft for interdiction efforts. In 2007, the U.S. Goverment provided training and operational tools to the multi-agency Tocumen Airport Drug Interdiction Law Enforcement Team, including, DHS/CBP-provided training for personnel at Tocumen Airport and the Guabala checkpoint on the Pan-American Highway. INL supported a major law enforcement modernization initiative to professionalize PNP mid- and senior-level officers. The program focused on proven community policing tactics, expansion of existing crime analysis technology, and promotion of managerial change to allow greater autonomy and accountability. Work was completed on the initial phase of the National Crime
checkpoint (inaugurated in 2006) on the Pan-American Highway, but resources and high-level management have been lacking. The flow of illicit drugs has contributed to increasing domestic drug abuse, according to Panamanian authorities. Panama is not a significant producer of drugs or precursor chemicals. However, limited amounts of cannabis are cultivated for local consumption.

III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2007

Policy Initiatives. The Torrijos Administration is publicly committed to counternarcotics and anticrime cooperation with the U.S. As a member state of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Panama participated actively in the U.S.-SICA security dialogue. A number of legislative initiatives have not been passed. These include a proposal to change the criminal justice system from a written (inquisitorial) to an oral (accusatorial) system. A 2006 proposal to merge the current National Air Service (SAN) and National Maritime Service (SMN) into a coast guard (based on the U.S. model) was also not introduced in the National Assembly. The GOP took limited steps to create a stand-alone border control service separate from the National Police (PNP). Also, the GOP took legislative action and disbanded the Technical Judicial Police (PTJ) and transferred most of its personnel to the National Police (PNP), with day-to-day control of major criminal investigations under the direction of prosecutors.

Accomplishments. In 2007, the GOP seized a record 60 metric tons of cocaine in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard. This included the largest on-record maritime seizure of cocaine, which was over 16 metric tons in March 2007. Several sensitive vetted units continue to operate with impressive results. The former head of the SMN was arrested and jailed on charges of corruption and illegal enrichment. In another high profile case, Colombian trafficker Jose Nelson Urrego Cardenas was arrested and his numerous properties confiscated.

Law Enforcement Efforts. In 2007, in addition to the 60 metric tons (MT) of cocaine, GOP authorities seized 96 kg of heroin, nearly 3.9 metric tons of marijuana, and made 207 arrests for international drug-related offenses. Several USG-supported GOP vetted units expanded operations in 2007. The joint Department of Homeland Security (DHS)-Department of Energy (DOE) Container Security Initiative (CSI) was launched in Panama in October. The primary mission of the CSI is to enhance global container security from the threat posed by high-risk shipments.

Corruption. As a matter of policy, no senior GOP official or the GOP encourages or facilitates the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or psychotropic drugs of other controlled substances, or the laundering of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The National Anti-Corruption Commission, made strides in 2007 to address government corruption, including auditing government accounts and launching major investigations. A USG-funded “Culture of Lawfulness” program has trained officials from the Ministry of Education (MEDUCA), Private Schools Association, and the PNP on the importance of transparency, with courses taught in schools (early high school level) and in the PNP Academy.

Agreements and Treaties. Panama is a party to the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention, the 1961 U.N. Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the 1971 U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances. A mutual legal assistance treaty and an extradition treaty are in force between the U.S. and Panama, although the Constitution does not permit extradition of Panamanian nationals. A Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement with Panama was signed on March 15, 1999. A stolen vehicles treaty is also in force. In 2002, the U.S. Goverment and GOP concluded a comprehensive maritime interdiction agreement. Panama has bilateral agreements on drug trafficking with the United Kingdom, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, and Peru. In 2007, Panama signed the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Panama is a party to the U.N. Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols, and is a signatory to the U.N. Convention Against Corruption. Panama is a member of the OAS and is a party to the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. Panama is a member state of SICA and an active participant in the U.S.-SICA security dialogue.

Cultivation and Production. Cannabis cultivation in Panama is limited, and is mostly for domestic consumption.

Drug Flow/Transit. Drugs transit Panama via fishing vessels, cargo ships, small aircraft, and go-fast boats. Hundreds of abandoned or unmonitored legal airstrips are used by traffickers for refueling, pickups, and deliveries. Couriers transiting Panama by commercial air flights also moved cocaine and heroin to the U.S. and Europe during 2007. Limited manufacturing of synthetic drugs occurs in Panama for local consumption. The majority of synthetic drugs distributed in Panama are smuggled into the country via commercial aircraft (using couriers) originating from Europe.

Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. In 2007, the GOP implemented the final part of its five-year counternarcotics strategy that included 29 demand reduction, drug education, and drug treatment projects, at a total cost of $6.5 million to fund the projects during the five-year period. MEDUCA and CONAPRED, with U.S. Goverment support, promoted counternarcotics training for teachers, information programs, and supported the Ministry’s National Drug Information Center (CENAID). The projects produced positive results such as the training of 250,000 students in drug prevention by the Ministry of Education.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

Policy Initiatives. U.S. Coast Guard-supported programs focus on improving Panama’s ability to interdict, investigate, and prosecute illegal drug trafficking and other transnational crimes; strengthening Panama’s judicial system; assisting Panama to implement domestic demand reduction programs; encouraging the enactment and implementation of effective laws governing precursor chemicals and corruption; improving Panama’s border security; and ensuring strict enforcement of existing laws. INL, DHS, and U.S. Coast Guard provided resources for modernization and upkeep of SMN and PNP vessels and bases, conducted maritime law enforcement training courses, and assisted the SAN with training personnel and maintaining key aircraft for interdiction efforts. In 2007, the U.S. Goverment provided training and operational tools to the multi-agency Tocumen Airport Drug Interdiction Law Enforcement Team, including, DHS/CBP-provided training for personnel at Tocumen Airport and the Guabala checkpoint on the Pan-American Highway. INL supported a major law enforcement modernization initiative to professionalize PNP mid- and senior-level officers. The program focused on proven community policing tactics, expansion of existing crime analysis technology, and promotion of managerial change to allow greater autonomy and accountability. Work was completed on the initial phase of the National Crime
Tracking and Mapping System (INCRIDEFA), which will enable the PNP to track criminal incidents in real time. INL also provided computers, office and other equipment, to the Attorney General’s Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.

Bilateral Cooperation. In 2007, the GOP continued to participate in joint counternarcotics operations with DEA and USCG, and worked to strengthen national law enforcement institutions with assistance from NAS. The maritime interdiction agreement has facilitated enhanced cooperation in interdiction efforts, with Panama playing a vital role in facilitating the transfer of prisoners and evidence to the U.S., enabling U.S. Goverment assets to remain on patrol in theater. In 2007, the Coast Guard’s seizure of over 32 metric tons of cocaine was directly related to cooperative efforts executed under provisions of the counternarcotics bilateral agreement between Panama and the United States.

The Road Ahead. The U.S. Goverment will continue to encourage the Government of Panama to devote sufficient resources to its security forces to patrol land borders along Colombia and Costa Rica, its coastline, and the adjacent sea-lanes, and to increase the number of arrests and prosecutions of major violators, especially in the areas of corruption and money laundering. The U.S. Goverment will provide expertise and resources to assist the development of a new GOP Coast Guard, and a border control unit.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 3, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 44



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