mmmm
Today's
colon
exchange rate
HERE!
A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language 
news source
Monday through Friday

These stories were published Wednesday, March 9, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 48
Home
Calendar
Jo Stuart
Classifieds
Letters
 Food
About us
 
28-hour ordeal
Monteverde bank standoff ends with nine dead
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Posted at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday)

The last living robbery suspect surrendered Wednesday night and ended a 28-hour standoff at a bank in Santa Elena de Monteverde. A female bank employee went free at the same time. She was uninjured.

The drama ended at 7:30 p.m., leaving nine persons dead. Three were members of the robbery gang. One policeman died during an incursion of the bank about midday Wednesday. Five of the dead are bank employees or customers. Most were killed or injured during the bungled robbery and takeover about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Rogelio Ramos, minister of security, said that the unidentified suspect would be turned over to judicial authorities for prosecution. He is a man about 30 years, 5-foot, five-inches, thin and weighing about 130 pounds.

Ramos said that 24 persons had been held hostage during the course of the crime.

The standoff ended during a light rain in the mountain community. The bank employee, identified as Elizabeth Artavia, walked without assistance from the bank.

The suspect was seen only briefly among officers, who put him in a police van. Some policemen said he was a Nicaraguan, as were the three members of the gang who died during the failed robbery.

Earlier stories below:

_____________________

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(posted at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday)

Seven persons, including an experienced policeman, have died during a bank standoff in Santa Elena de Monteverde that is nearing the 24-hour mark.

The nation’s tactical squad is poised to take over the building by force from what is believed to be one remaining gunman. Inside are at least five hostages.

Most of the original 19 or 20 hostages have escaped from the two-room branch of the Banco Nacional. Some were covered with blood.

Five bandits tried to rob the branch office about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. They were met with gunfire from guards, and two bandits died on the sidewalk.

Three entered the structure and took employees and 15 customers hostage, but one bandit is believed to have died a short time later.

The standoff lasted through the night. But in the dark and when the attention of the bandits were distracted, hostages managed to escape through an opening. Among these were two as-yet unidentified foreign women, believed to be tourists.

Monteverde and its cloud forests are major Costa Rican tourist attractions. Santa Elena is three kilometers (about two miles) north and east of the main town.

Tactical squad members freed five hostages in a midday raid today. Officers got inside one of the two rooms of the bank. It was here that policeman Oscar Quesada Fallas suffered a fatal wound. He died an hour later at a nearby clinic.

A 23-year-old Canadian, David Sander, was one of the hostages who escaped early today. A spokesperson for Hospital México in San José said that Sander, shot in the stomach, had gone through surgery and was stable and recovering.

The bandits are believed to be part of a gang that has robbed at least 18 locations. They 

were armed with machines pistols and AK-47 military-style rifles.

Earlier story below

____________________________

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bungled bank robbery near the popular tourist resort of Monteverde became a standoff between police and the bandits, who held as many as 20 hostages.

Three persons died in the robbery attempt. All are believed to be members of the band that instigated the 3:30 p.m. attempt.

The scene is the Banco Nacional branch office in Santa Elena de Monteverde, some 3 kms. north and east of the popular tourist location.

The standoff continued through early Wednesday with no sign of a resolution.

A bank guard, Alvaro Castro, is credited with seeing the bandits approaching the bank. Castro himself suffered a bullet wound to the body. He hid and fled the one-story bank building about 9 p.m. He was being treated in Hospital México in San José.

A woman believed to have been  customer also managed to get free, but she was more serious hurt with a bullet in the abdomen and was in the same hospital in delicate condition late Thursday.

The bank bandits came heavily armed and there were reports that they carried AK-47 military-style automatic rifles.

Two living bandits remained inside the bank building, and law enforcement officials said that their first concern were the hostages. The bandits were said to be demanding 20 million colons, some about $43,000, and safe conduct to free the bulk of the hostages.

Included among the hostages were the bank manager, several employees and a cashier
identified as Nanci Ramírez Gómez. He sister, identified as Lady Ramírez Gómez, also was present in the bank at the time of the takeover and was reported to be seven months pregnant.

Two women, identified as foreigners in their 20s, managed to leave the bank or were set free. At least one was believed to be a tourist.

Of the two men who died in front of the bank, one was wearing camouflage  in the style of a soldier. The second man was dressed in blue jeans and sneakers. Both came to the bank hooded. Their bodies remained on the sidewalk in front of the bank entrance most of the late afternoon and early evening. Both lay within three feet of each other on their backs. One appeared to have a weapon in his right hand.

The security guard credited with busting up the robbery suspected something suspicious was taking place, officials said based on incomplete reports. A second security guard joined in the firefight, killed two robbers and mortally wounded a third, who died inside the bank.

A shootout put many holes in the front door and glass entryway of the bank and also in the windows of nearby businesses.

Castro, the security guard, fled the bank structure in full view of television cameras that showed him in a blood-drenched shirt taking care to avoid being seen by the bandits inside the building.

The entire drama was broadcast on Channel 7 Teletica and Channel 6 Repretel most of the evening. Repretel switched some favorite soap operas to an alternate frequency.

Toward midnight spectators said that some five hostages had been released reducing the number inside the bank to about 11.

 

 
Subscribe
to
our daily
digest
Search
our site
2004 photo contest
Send us
a
news story
Visit our
Classified
ads
Visit our
tourism
ads
Visit our
real 
estate
ads
Display ad info

Classified
info

Contact
us
Our
stats

 

 

 
For more news of Costa Rica and the world
Page 2,  Page 3, and Page 4
Attention
Americans!

Did you know?

• Prescriptions
 are not needed
on most products
in Costa Rica

• You can take
a 90-day supply
back to the USA

• You'll save
up to 80% compared to
U.S. drugstores

Farmacia Alvarez
237-5425
(click here)

 
 
Santa Elena de Monteverde
Policeman among seven slain at bank standoff
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(posted at 3:10 p.m. Wednesday)

Seven persons, including an experienced policeman, have died during a bank standoff in Santa Elena de Monteverde that is nearing the 24-hour mark.

The nation’s tactical squad is poised to take over the building by force from what is believed to be one remaining gunman. Inside are at least five hostages.

Most of the original 19 or 20 hostages have escaped from the two-room branch of the Banco Nacional. Some were covered with blood.

Five bandits tried to rob the branch office about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. They were met with gunfire from guards, and two bandits died on the sidewalk.

Three entered the structure and took employees and 15 customers hostage, but one bandit is believed to have died a short time later.

The standoff lasted through the night. But in the dark and when the attention of the bandits were distracted, hostages managed to escape through an opening. Among these were two as-yet unidentified foreign women, believed to be tourists.

Monteverde and its cloud forests are major Costa Rican tourist attractions. Santa Elena is three kilometers (about two miles) north and east of the main town.

Tactical squad members freed five hostages in a midday raid today. Officers got inside one of the two rooms of the bank. It was here that policeman Oscar Quesada Fallas suffered a fatal wound. He died an hour later at a nearby clinic.

A 23-year-old Canadian, David Sander, was one of the hostages who escaped early today. A spokesperson for Hospital México in San José said that Sander, shot in the stomach, had gone through surgery and was stable and recovering.

The bandits are believed to be part of a gang that has robbed at least 18 locations. They were armed with machines pistols and AK-47 military-style rifles.

Earlier story below
____________________________

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bungled bank robbery near the popular tourist resort of Monteverde became a standoff between police and the bandits, who held as many as 20 hostages.

Three persons died in the robbery attempt. All are believed to be members of the band that instigated the 3:30 p.m. attempt.

The scene is the Banco Nacional branch office in Santa Elena de Monteverde, some 3 kms. north and east of the popular tourist location.

The standoff continued through early Wednesday with no sign of a resolution.

A bank guard, Alvaro Castro, is credited with seeing the bandits approaching the bank. Castro himself suffered a bullet wound to the body. He hid and fled the one-story bank building about 9 p.m. He was being treated in Hospital México in San José.

A woman believed to have been  customer also managed to get free, but she was more serious hurt with a bullet in the abdomen and was in the same hospital in delicate condition late Thursday.

The bank bandits came heavily armed and there were reports that they carried AK-47 military-style automatic rifles.

Two living bandits remained inside the bank building, and law enforcement officials said that their first concern were the hostages. The bandits were said to be demanding 20 million colons, some about $43,000, and safe conduct to free the bulk of the hostages.

Included among the hostages were the bank manager, several employees and a cashier 
identified as Nanci Ramírez Gómez. He sister, identified as Lady Ramírez Gómez, also was present in the bank at the time of the takeover and was reported to be seven months pregnant.

Two women, identified as foreigners in their 20s, managed to leave the bank or were set free. At least one was believed to be a tourist.

Of the two men who died in front of the bank, one was wearing camouflage  in the style of a soldier. The second man was dressed in blue jeans and sneakers. Both came to the bank hooded. Their bodies remained on the sidewalk in front of the bank entrance most of the late afternoon and early evening. Both lay within three feet of each other on their backs. One appeared to have a weapon in his right hand.

The security guard credited with busting up the robbery suspected something suspicious was taking place, officials said based on incomplete reports. A second security guard joined in the firefight, killed two robbers and mortally wounded a third, who died inside the bank.

A shootout put many holes in the front door and glass entryway of the bank and also in the windows of nearby businesses.

Castro, the security guard, fled the bank structure in full view of television cameras that showed him in a blood-drenched shirt taking care to avoid being seen by the bandits inside the building.

The entire drama was broadcast on Channel 7 Teletica and Channel 6 Repretel most of the evening. Repretel switched some favorite soap operas to an alternate frequency.

Toward midnight spectators said that some five hostages had been released reducing the number inside the bank to about 11.

 

 
Subscribe
to
our daily
digest
Search
our site
2004 photo contest
Send us
a
news story
Visit our
Classified
ads
Visit our
tourism
ads
Visit our
real 
estate
ads
Display ad info

Classified
info

Contact
us
Our
stats

 
A.M. Costa Rica

Second news page


 
Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-9393

 
The leading English-language news source for Costa Rica is 
A.M. Costa Rica

But you knew that already, right?


 
Román Arrieta, 80,
Former archbishop, dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The former archbishop of San José, Román Arrieta Villalobos, died Tuesday afternoon. The 80-year-old churchman served as bishop in San José for 23 years before leaving in 2002 shortly after reaching the Catholic Church’s mandatory retirement age.

Arrieta was 80. He lived in La Ribera de Belén.  He suffered a fall at Christmastime and underwent surgery to repair an injury to his head.

Arrieta was at the center of the storm generated by Radio María, the radio station run by the Rev. Minor Calvo and businessman Omar Chávez. Both are considered suspects in the murder of Parmenio Medina Pérez, who was killed by hired gunmen in 2001 near his Heredia home.

May 30, 2001, the conference of bishops ordered Radio María closed. Parmenio Medina died a short time later He had exposed irregularities in the operation of the station and had meetings on the topic with Arrieta.

Both Calvo and Chavez are awaiting trial.
 

Another surf event
scheduled for weekend

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The fifth leg of the 2004-2005 Circuito Nacional de Surf will take place Saturday and Sunday at Jacó.  The contest, named "Grand Prix Mangoa," begins at 7 a.m. in front of the Mango Surf Shop. 

The contest is expected to draw more than 100 surfers. As an official event of the national circuit, the competition allows surfers to earn points towards the national rankings.

These rankings will be used to determine who represents Costa Rica at the World Junior Surfing Championships scheduled for October 2005 in Huntington Beach. 

 The first four events of the circuit were held in Esterillos, Negra, Tamarindo and Dominical. 
 

Craft fair planned
for Desamparados

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Municipalidad de Desamparados will celebrate the National Day of Craftsmen with a fair beginning March 18 in Parque Centenario. 

The three-day festival celebrates the importance of handmade crafts in Costa Rica. The fair will feature traditional dancing, foods and beverages, as well as traditional hand crafted goods. 

The National Day of Craftsmen is March 19. 
 

TACA standardizes
passenger luggage rules

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Flying with TACA airlines just got easier, according to a company statement released Tuesday.

Airline officials announced that TACA has implemented a new policy that standardizes the size and weight of luggage that passengers may use. The airline’s new policy insures that all passengers can carry two full bags of luggage that have a combined weight of less then 100 pounds and are less then 85 inches long.

Prior to the standardization, passengers had to double check the luggage policies at their specific destination point.

TACA serves 10 major cities in the United States, Toronto in Canada, Mexico City, all of the countries of Central America, and several important business and tourist destinations in South America and the Caribbean. 
 
 

Comment from a reader

He gets cable television
even if he doesn’t want it

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I just returned from the office of Amnet in Moravia. I wanted them to explain a bill I received. I rent two apartments for a owner out of the country.  Nearly everyone that answered an "for rent" ad  wanted to know if there were Internet connections. Two gentlemen agreed to rent the units but want me to get the Amnet residencial 256/128 Kbps connection for two computers for $50 a month. 

I called Amnet, they sent out a representative. I told him the existing TV cable was in the name of the owner, so the  Internet cable would have to be in my name since the owner was not available. However I only wanted  Internet cable since the TV cable was already present. No problema. 

So, I told the renters it was to cost them $50 a month for 2 computers.  They agreed to the charge. I paid a installation fee of about $72, which included a modem,  but this would only serve one computer. If I wanted to connect another, I would have to buy a router and cable, which cost me another $90. Then cable has to be run from the router to the other computer. 

Okay, I did all this and got everything connected. Then yesterday I got a bill, which was complicated to read so, I went to the Amnet Moravia office to get a explanation. Now it seems whether you want TV or not you are going to pay for it, which is another $24 a month. Therefore instead of paying the $50 I told the renters I have to pay $74 a month. Other words you can get cable TV without Internet, but you can not get Internet without TV. 

I have re-read the pamphlet again to see if I missed some small print. I didn't. I would not be perturbed if the pamphlet said the price was $50 a month if you had cable TV or if the representative had told me you are going to pay for TV whether you want it or not. 

North Americans have no idea how convoluted simple transaction can be here in Costa Rica. Everyone is used to expecting this from the government monopolies, but this is private company. Anyway, you should know this if you are anticipating getting Internet cable.

Bobby Ruffín 
Guadalupe
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.


Dentistry


Williams Dental & Associates
Integral dentistry
Dr. John Williams
• General dentistry 
• Endodontics
• Oral rehabilitation
• Prosthodontics
• Periodontics 
• Dental prevention
• Maxillofacial surgery implants

Guachipelín, Escazú
228-2914/289-9809
e-mail: jwdental@amnet.co.cr
www.jwdentalcostarica.com

U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol


Legal services

Adolfo Rojas Breedy 
Breedy Abogados S.A. 
—Attorneys-at-Law— 
Since 1957. Best experience in: 
• Real Estate Transfer of Title and Title Search
• Business       • Investments 
• Commercial & Civil Litigation
• Corporate Law & finance
• Capital markets Law
• International Taxation
(506) 233-7203/221-0230   breedy@racsa.co.cr
Web page:  www.breedy.com
902-9/14/05


Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados
Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 218-0829                Cell 365-3088
E-mail: legalxpt@racsa.co.cr
www.forovial.com
• Family law    • real estate law
•  criminal & constitutional law
• due dilligence 
• title guarantee, 
• fraud protection
 • Constitution of condominiums
• Property Management
• Notary public services in general
Offices in San José and 
Century 21, Jacó Beach
Authorized Representative
Stewart Title Attorney Referral System

KEARNEY-LAWSON & Asoc.
      Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson, 
Costa Rica/U.S.A. Attorneys at Law
Villalobos and Savings Unlimited Collections
*Investments  *Corporations
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica *Tax Shelters 
*Immigration *Intellectual Property
    *Business procedures *Family and Labor Law
    *Locate People *Private Investigations
       Ph/Fax: 221-9462, Cell: (506) 841-0007
gkearney_lawson@hotmail.com
attorneykearney@yahoo.com


Real estate agents and services


First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
  Escrow services
  Title Transfers
  Title Guarantees
  Trust Services
  Investment Services
Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at amcr@firstcr.com

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.

www.firstcr.com
645-8/18/04


MARGARET SOHN
formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican 
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American
Chamber of Commerce

margaret@greatcre.com
samargo@racsa.co.cr
www.realtorcostarica.com
(506) 291-2825 & (506) 291-2826
fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell
229-8/9/0
A.M. Costa Rica
Consultantes Río Colorado S.A.
James J. Brodell........................editor
Saray Ramírez Vindas...associate editor

Avenida 11 bis, Barrio Otoya, San José 

Voice: (506) 223-1327
FAX: (506) 223-1190

   In Costa Rica:                       From elsewhere:

     A.M. Costa Rica                     Consultantes Río Colo.
     Apartado 12909-1000            SB 11
     San José, Costa Rica               P.O. Box 025292 
     (506) 223-1327                     Miami, FL 33102-5292


 
Sale/Lease in Los Arcos: Five bedrooms

Los Arcos Subdivision, very upscale, extremely safe. Walk to Hotel Cariari, restaurants, mall, Fun & Water park, etc Large 5 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, maids quarters, open air BBQ room with large water fountain, 2 dens, office area, large living room, new paint, new bath and floor tile, garage.  $1,250 monthly with lease (minimum 1 year). Will lease w/option. Will furnish. 
Larry  doslocos@racsa or (+506) 293-0891. 
From USA (704) 645-7078


 
Our new five-star food and restaurant page 
with the observations of Dr. Lenny Karpman
Click HERE!

 
Their new life in Costa Rica

A California couple takes on Tico culture, the language and alien bureaucracies.

This is their story told with wit and deep appreciation for one of the most beautiful countries.

If you love Costa Rica, you need this book!

Click here for more information
Click on the photos to get a discount on reserving rooms
 NBA
Magic 
At Raptors
6 p.m.

Warriors
At Pistons
6:30 p.m.

Spurs 
At Suns
9 p.m.

A block behind the INS building in Barrio Amón

 
Central American free trade treaty
Solís says Costa Rica should not follow its neighbors
By Joe Medici
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica might be better served not following in its neighbor’s footsteps, on the Central American free trade agreement, according to Ottón Solís leader of the Partido Acción Ciudadana.

Solís said in an interview at his home Tuesday 
afternoon that the agreement was "asymmetrical towards the United States," and that it should be redrafted before being presented to the Costa Rican legislature.

Solís, who speaks fluent English, said that he has always favored opening trade with the United States, but he says the current agreement is not beneficial for Costa Rica. "Trade relations are good, but this agreement will hurt the economy and the environment in Costa Rica."

A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Ottón Solís

The political party of Solís, the Partido de Acción Ciudadana, was formed by disgruntled members of the Partido Liberación Nacional in 2000. The group has gained popularity in the country since the split and Solís is considered to be a strong candidate for the presidential election in 2006. 

The party has continually fought against the international trade agreement, stating that it will cause poverty and environmental destruction throughout Central America. 

El Salvador and Honduras ratified the agreement, 

which would allow the United States operate the agreement between the three countries. Nicaragua and Guatemala are also nearing agreements over the regional trade treaty, which could become active by this July.

Solís, however, argues that Costa Rica should not feel pressured to follow in its neighbor’s footsteps. "Blessed be the day that we do not copy Central America," he said. 

Solís argued that Costa Rica has been well served by its deviations from the Central American norm in the past. He said that other countries involvement presents a good argument not to support the agreement.

Solís says that there are several specific problems for Latin America in the treaty that need to be addressed. Solís said of Costa Rica that "the agreement opens agricultural markets, while the United States keeps its own agriculture protected from the rigors of the market." 

Solís also said that Costa Rica needs to be mindful of the lack of a employment rights section in the agreement. "The agreement would open Costa Rica to foreign investment, while maintaining a closed labor market for foreign workers in the United States."

Solis warned that the agreement would also allow officials from transnational corporations to bypass Costa Rican courts and to sue the government when they believe their profits are being harmed by regulations.

Solis said that his party, which is a minority in the Asamblea Legislativa, will continue to fight against the agreement and that he hopes to prevent it from appearing in front of the legislature. "Who knows what might happen if it hits the legislature," he said. "A vote would probably be very close."


 
Fast track route created for some legislation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican legislature approved a change in its rules Tuesday that will allow rapid passage of certain designated measures by cutting off lengthy debate and discussion.

The measure was aimed at the Movimiento Libertario that has tied up legislation it did not like by proposing hundreds of amendments.

The Asamblea Legislative approved the measure by 39 votes, one more than the required two-thirds majority of the 57 deputies. Only 52 deputies were present Tuesday.

The Libertarians said they would appeal the measure to the Sala IV constitutional court, but their success there 

is uncertain because the measure technically is simply a change in legislative rules.

The fast-track proposal means that certain legislative proposals, by a similar two-thirds vote, can be expedited to a final vote.

However, certain forms of legislation are excluded. Among these are international treaties and conventions that cannot be fast tracked. Also exempt are administrative contracts, sale of state holdings or creation of monopolies.

President Abel Pacheco has blamed the Libertarians for the legislature’s inability to pass his proposed new tax bill that would generate $500 million in new taxes annually. The measure passed Tuesday will expedite the tax plan.


 
Student from Florida reported missing in Tamarindo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 24-year-old Australian has been reported missing in Tamarindo, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The student, Brendan Dobbins was reported missing by several friends that were supposed to meet up with him over the weekend in San José, according to investigators

Dobbins, a student at the University of Florida, had traveled to Costa Rica for spring break with several of his classmates. Officials at the investigating organization say that Dobbins was last seen in Tamarindo Friday night.

Officials say that the Cruz Roja has searched the beaches near Tamarindo and that they are still seeking an explanation for his disappearance. 


 
Costa Rica will get a big screen IMAX theater next year, company says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will soon have its first wide screen IMAX theatre, according to a release made by the company.

The company announced Tuesday that an agreement had been reached with Repretel, the local government television station. Repretel will operate the theater, which will open in San José in 2006. 

A specific site for the theater has yet to be chosen. According to a statement released by IMAX, two new theaters will be opened in Central America. The other theater will open In Guatemala City in 2006.

The theatres will be featured as part of pre-existing multiplexes. Similar projects have already been completed in Mexico, Ecuador, and in theaters across Asia and the Middle East.


 
A.M. Costa Rica's
real estate classifieds
are the best deal going.

Color photos
Live links
Instant contact
Worldwide readership

Check it out HERE!

Want to know about birds?
This is the CLASSIC
for bird lovers
in Costa Rica.

Order it
HERE!
via A.M. Costa Rica
in association with
Amazon.com

See other popular Costa Rican titles HERE!

 
Our new five-star food and restaurant page 
with the observations of Dr. Lenny Karpman
Click HERE!

 
Yoeda Castellón of the Yatama organization describes what happened on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua during local elections. Wit here is Oman Cabazas Lacayo, procurador para la defensa de los derechos humanos
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

 
Defensoría joins with Nicaraguan Indians in rights case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Indians from the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua are going to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights this week to seek help in fighting what they consider discrimination in local elections.

The procurador para la defensa de los derechos humanos of Nicaragua is being joined in the case by José Manuel Echandi Meza, the defensor de los habitantes of Costa Rica.

Echandi’s office said that a favorable ruling for the Nicaraguan Indians would be a favorable event for Costa Rican Indians.

The Nicaragua case is being brought by YATAMA, a local political party in the autonomous region of the North and South Atlantic of Nicaragua. The Indian group claims it was excluded from participating in municipal elections and has lost its case with the Nicaraguan 

electoral council and the Corte Supreme de Justicia of that country.

Oman Cabazas Lacayo, procurador of rights in Nicaragua is seeking an interamerican court ruling that the electoral council and the high court violated the civil and political rights of the Indian group.

The Indian candidates were thrown out in a dispute over filing deadlines. Yoeda Castellón of the YATAMA organization said that two persons were killed during pre-election violence in the area which contains about 100,000 persons.

The center of the violence was the community of Puerto Cabazas on the northern Atlantic coast and smaller towns nearby.

Both Echandi and Cabazas said that a favorable ruling by the San Pedro-based court would strengthen the rights of Indians all over the hemisphere.


 
Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel laureate, is in court claiming discrimination 
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A high profile trial opened Tuesday in Guatemala City where five individuals are accused of discrimination against Rigoberta Menchu,  Guatemala's Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Mayan Indian activist. This is the first trial for discrimination to be heard in Guatemala. 

Supporters of Ms. Menchu applauded when the president of the three-judge panel declared the start of the trial, in a large, theater-like courtroom. Rights activists here are hailing this as a historic case for Guatemalan justice. 

 Ms. Menchu is foremost among them. 

This is the first trial about racism and discrimination to be heard in Guatemala, she said, adding that the accusation is based not just on a physical act, but words and gestures, the kinds of racist acts that occur every day in Guatemala but have never been considered crimes.

The accusation stems from an incident two years ago, when a rowdy crowd of supporters of former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt allegedly shoved and shouted racial epithets at Ms. Menchu inside Guatemala's constitutional court. That day the court ruled that a constitutional ban on former dictators running for

president did not apply to former Gen. Rios Montt. 

Ms. Menchu, who has accused Efrain Rios Montt of genocide against the Maya in Spanish courts, was staunchly opposed to his candidacy. 

After the incident she filed a criminal complaint for aggression and discrimination, among other charges. Rios Montt's grandson is among the five defendants.

Francisco Garcia is the defense lawyer. He says that what happened that day does not constitute discrimination. 

The crime of discrimination occurs when someone's rights are restricted because of their race, religion or ethnicity, he says, but if someone calls you Indian or something else it is an insult, not a crime, its not discrimination, he said.

Ms. Menchu's lawyer and the state attorneys co-prosecuting the case, acknowledge the complexity of their case and their argument. Nonetheless, they believe they can convince the judges that the racial aggression Ms. Menchu suffered constitutes discrimination. 

Meanwhile, activists hope this case will open the path for many more Maya Indians to seek justice for discrimination. The trial is expected to last a week. 


 
Home
Calendar
Jo Stuart
Classifieds
Letters
 Food
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. Check HERE for more details