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These stories were published Monday, March 24, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 58
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Report from New York: They check the shoes
By Garett Sloane
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

NEW YORK - When war news hit New York, the city began to feel under siege. On Wednesday when the first news of bombs over Baghdad was broadcast, the downtown was calm and the bars were filled with people still mingling and drinking, but outside police were out guarding the bridges and the streets.

New Yorkers are used to the police officers but not the National Guard. Heavily armed soldiers guarded train stations and airports. New York feels like the front lines and most people fear a coming attack. A terror strike is considered certain. New Yorkers know they live in a very big target. A fact that took a while to sink in after the first terror assault in 1993 on the Twin Towers but now a fact of life that is always present.

New York is on lockdown, and cars or trucks do not pass through the Midtown Tunnel or over the Brooklyn Bridge without being scoped by vigilant police.

The airports are certainly on high alert. My travel from John F. Kennedy Airport to San José Saturday began with tight scrutiny. The National Guard was out, super x-ray machines were in use, and lines grew and grew at each security checkpoint. 

Free trade may be a casualty
BELOW!
Letters from readers
BELOW!
The Latin reaction
HERE!

I had to take off my shoes and walk in stocking feet through a metal detector as my shoes got x-rayed, a practice due to the fanatical shoebomber Richard Reid, who tried to blowup a Paris-Miami flight in December 2001. Now it seems more and more people are being checked for Nike bombs.

There is one new fashion in the city, and that is the treatment of the French. There is a new discrimination against all things French. Restaurants are changing the names of their French dishes, and the New York Post is encouraging a boycott of all French products, labeling the French "weasels" for their duplicitous diplomacy.

The tensions may mount against French residents of the city and even a friend who is French feels the wave of anti-French behavior. She works in a deli and faces anti-French barbs on a daily basis.

Phony cigars and CDs grabbed by police in separate actions
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police arrested two men on allegations they were engaged in two different scams to cheat consumers. Both arrests took place Friday.

The first arrest came in the downtown area in the vicinity of the Hotel Balmoral where investigators for the Centro de Información of the Fuerza Pública grabbed a man suspected of distributing counterfeit cigars.

Investigators said that the cigars really were not the top-line Havana products that the labels claimed. They identified the man by the last name of Navarro and said he was carrying cigars with the prestigious names of Cohíba, Partagas and Romeo y Julieta.

Ministerio de Gobernación, 
Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Some confiscated disks
Police took the man to their headquarters where Nancy Harbottle, a representative of Habanos, S.A., identified the cigars as false. Habanos has the franchise for Cuban cigars in Costa Rica.

Police confiscated five wooden boxes bearing the name Cohíba, three boxes of Romeo y Julieta and a box of Partagas as well as one of Vega Robaina. They also grabbed 15 smaller boxes, each with five cigars, bearing the names of Monte Cristo, Cohíba and Hoyo de Monterrey, said police.

Police said the suspect was remanded to the Primer Circuito Judicial en San José to face allegations of falsifying trademarks, a crime that damages producers as well as consumers.

Many vendors sell cigars in the downtown area, and the cigars are of dubious origin. Navarro probably was a distributor. Habanos has an outlet on Calle 7.

In the second case, police seized some 800 phony compact disks when they raided a sales and recording operation in Hatillo 3 on the south side of San José.

Arrested was a man identified by the last names of Soto Camacho, who was making disks without the authorization of the companies involved, said police. The complaint was filed by Sony Musica Entretemiento (American Central) S.A., Discos de Centroamérica (Dideca) S.A., and BMG (América Central), all recognized distributors of compact music disks.

Police also found some 2,000 color faceplates for compact disk cases that listed the music and the musicians.

The complaint said that copying the disks was a violation of intellectual property rights and resulted in the distribution to the consumer of inferior quality music and also hurt the authorized distributors economically. Soto was remanded to the Juzgado de Hatillo.

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Protestors at a Wednesday rally say the United States, the proposed free trade treaty and terrorism are the same thing.
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Anti-war stand convenient to Pacheco opposition 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The peace movement in Costa Rica has to be considered against the broader backdrop of partisan politics.

As with everything related to relations with the United States, public posturing is designed for internal consumption.

War protestors are aligned with the political parties that oppose President Abel Pacheco, and the prize is the next presidential election.

The combination of the proposed free trade treaty among the complaints is no accident. It may be that the Iraq war has been a big boost to those who oppose the international treaty that is supposed to be finalized this year.

Whenever the United States is involved, politicians are polarized. That was seen when the United States sought approval from the Asamblea National to use Costa Rican ports for brief visits by U.S. Navy ships. The boats are patrolling for drug shipments off the coast.


Analysis on the news


Permission finally was granted, but not before opposition deputies made the issue into front-page news in the Spanish press.

Lost in the current controversy is the International Law Enforcement Academy. The U.S. wants to fortify anti-drug law enforcement in Latin America by providing a school where modern techniques can be taught. Some of the administration and faculty will be U.S. citizens, but many will be from Costa Rica and other Latin nations.

Opponents suggested that the law enforcement academy is a clone of the U.S. School of the Americas where selected Latin military officers were encouraged to use torture and worse for stemming revolt.

The U.S. spotty human rights record in Latin America does not help sell the school project, but U.S. officials claim that sufficient checks are in place to prevent misuse of the school. In any event, the school is directed more to police methods than counterterrorism. 

The school might be a victim of local sentiment about the Iraq war.

The free trade treaty with the United States causes fear in the public sector of Costa Rican society. From the electric company to the monopoly insurance giant to the government banks employees fear competition from more efficient international firms.

President Abel Pacheco said that Costa Rica’s state ownership of such entities is not on the negotiating table, but treaties have a way of effecting big changes over time. So some of the biggest opponents of free trade are the employee unions for the state entities. 

Another area of irritation for Costa Rica is agricultural imports. Some 154,000 tons of U.S. rice

Reaction in rest 
of Latin America
BELOW!

Readers' letters on the war
BELOW!

 now ride in a cargo ship in Caldera harbor. Such products are cheaper than Costa Rican agricultural products. Some say this is because Costa Rica’s farmers are inefficient. Others say U.S. exports are heavily subsidized. Some politicians think that Costa Rica should only import basic commodities when production here cannot meet the demand. Agriculture will be a big component of a free trade treaty.

Opposed on general principles are the Communist and similarly-oriented political groups that will fight anything connected with the United States.

President Pacheco infuriated his political foes when he seemed to side with the United states in its war against terrorism.

Some pragmatic Costa Ricans recognize that U.S. force is the only counterweight to Panamá and Nicaragua, two neighboring countries that at various times have coveted Costa Rica.

But many youngsters and even some U.S. expats are believers in Costa Rica as some kind of island of peace in a troubled world. The army was abolished in 1948, and politicians since have encouraged this belief. Former President Oscar Arias furthered this belief when he won the Nobel Prize for Peace for his role in ending the Nicaraguan war.

Secondary school students and university undergraduates are being urged strongly by their teachers and administrations to demonstrate for peace.

At the University of Costa Rica such encouragement goes so far as to be an official Feb. 25 resolution of the university council.

Marta Zamora, head of Partido Acción Ciudadana, Friday in the Asemblea Nacional, expressed total indignation toward Pacheco’s stand, seemingly in support of the United States. At the same time Federico Malavassi, head of the Movimiento Libertario deputies, expressed concern for the effect on the economy by the war. He was particularly concerned with increases in fuel prices and an estimated 5 percent dip in tourism.

The Partido Liberación Nacional, the party of former President Arias, also opposes the war and actively supports the war protests, along with Acción Ciudadana.

Pacheco is a member of Partido Unidad Social Cristiana, and his party controls the assembly. However, yet to be seen is the internal tension within the party caused by the president’s position on the war. The future of initiatives such as the free trade treaty and the law enforcement academy hang on the degree of such inter-party tensions.

Groups unite to support native tribe in Panama
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, Argentina’s White Helmets Commission and the government of Panama are joining forces to help raise the quality of life of Panama’s Ngobe Bugle indigenous community under a program set to begin at the end of the month, according to the Organization of American States.

Around $253,600 is being contributed, said the organization.

The White Helmets Initiative Support for healthcare and nutritional education training is intended to help improve the quality of life for indigenous communities in the provinces of Boca del Toro, Chiriquí and Veraguas. 

The assistance involves training, public awareness and education programs in healthcare and nutrition. The programs will also help the community to better utilize its resources.

The organization said the sparsely populated  region to be covered is poor and marginalized because it lacks proper basic education and healthcare services — areas to be specifically addressed under the venture.  Children have been the main victims of malnutrition, poor health conditions and recurring endemic diseases, said the organization.

The project will benefit the communities’ residents — in particular students at educational facilities, as well as teachers and families, said the organization. Each educational center will establish groups of agents to conduct quality control of health and nutrition conditions as the basis of subsequent recommendations.

Twelve volunteers — five Argentineans and seven Panamanians — with the relevant experience will conduct the program, working directly with the beneficiaries, said the organization. They will plan, make policy recommendations and devise strategies and practical approaches to achieve objectives.


 
Argentine woman shows
signs of rare pneumonia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BUENOS ARIES, Argentina — Authorities here say a woman has received treatment for symptoms that may be related to a mysterious pneumonia-like illness that is causing concern around the world. 

Health officials said the unnamed woman arrived here Friday on an Air France flight from Paris. The 37-year-old Argentine woman was being treated in isolation at a hospital in the nation's capital. 

If confirmed, the woman could have the first Latin American case of a virus that has killed at least five people in Asia. 

Officials for the World Health Organization said Friday the illness - known as severe acute respiratory syndrome — appears to have originated in southern China and has spread to 300 people in at least a dozen countries.

Brazilian leader launches
racial equality office

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRASILIA — President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has inaugurated the Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality, as part of an effort to end racial discrimination in the South American nation. The move is part of an overall effort to promote racial equality and harmony.

In creating this new government office, President da Silva says he hopes to not only promote racial equality, but to strengthen democracy. He says democracy requires the participation of all citizens regardless of their racial background.

Da Silva, known to most people here by his nickname "Lula," has made the fight against discrimination a priority since he took office on Jan. 1. The government is promoting affirmative action plans to give people of African or Indian descent help in entering universities and in finding government jobs. 

But the Brazilian president says the problem goes well beyond legal remedies.

He says this problem is much greater than something that can be solved by creating a new government office. He says racial discrimination has its roots in the history of the nation and that it will take many years to change attitudes.

The country is considered to have the largest black population outside Africa, but the terms used for racial groups here make it difficult to determine the exact number of people who claim African descent. There are more than 300 terms used here to designate skin color. 

In the last Brazilian census, conducted last year, only six percent of people identified themselves as "black." Some 40 percent, however, described themselves as "mulato," "mestico" or some other term indicating a mixture of European and African ancestry.

Mexican police arrest
Iraqi asylum seekers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Police here say they have arrested two Iraqi men planning to cross into the United States, apparently to seek political asylum. 

Immigration officials at a bus terminal in the border city of Tijuana detained the two men late Friday because their immigration papers were not in order. Police said the two men, who are brothers, are not suspected of terrorist activity. 

Authorities also detained the men's guide, who is a U.S. national born in Iraq. 

Police say the three planned to cross the border near the U.S. city of San Diego. 

Earlier this week, Mexico announced the start of a massive security effort, called the Sentry Plan, at Mexico's borders and other strategic locations to coincide with the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Haiti prompted to create 
peaceful elections

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An international delegation has urged Haiti to work toward creating a peaceful environment so elections can be held later this year. 

The delegation led by the Organization of American States and Caribbean Community pressed Haitian officials on the issue Thursday, during a visit to the Caribbean nation.

Delegates in the group urged the country to create a provisional electoral council in the next 10 days to open the door to future legislative and local elections. 

Representatives of the organization and Caricom called on Haiti to make long-needed reforms to improve public security and human rights. The reforms were among proposals that the groups presented to Haiti in September. 

Delegates met with Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, other top officials and leading political opponents during a visit that ended Thursday. 

Honduran policeman 
gets 20 years, says group

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A Honduran policeman was sentenced this week to twenty years in prison for the massacre of three children in August 1999, according to Casa Alianza, a child advocacy group that has a location in the country.

The group said policeman Victor Manuel Velasquez was found guilty of the murder of three children: Angel Gabriel Bonilla, 13, Esteban Varela Perez, 15, and Gerson Edgardo Canales, 16, who were murdered less than three blocks from a police station.

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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.


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Are you an AOL subscriber?

Well, you probably are not getting the daily digest because your Internet provider has identified us as a spam source due of the amount of e-mail we send every day.

See if you can put us on your safe list.

Otherwise, consider getting another ISP. We are about sick of wrestling with an Internet provider mere mortals cannot contact.

Effect from war in Latin America seen as minimal
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The war in Iraq has ignited anti-American protests in Latin America and renewed fears of a powerful northern neighbor who some believe already exerts too much influence over smaller, less developed nations. 

But, many people in the region also hope the war will end quickly so as to avoid economic repercussions on their countries.

From Santiago and Sao Paulo to Mexico City, protesters have taken to the streets in the past few days to denounce the United States for its war in Iraq. Political commentators and newspaper columnists across the region have condemned the military action as illegal. 

One group of legislators in the capital of Brasilia called for boycotts of U.S. products like Coca Cola and McDonald's hamburgers to protest the war and then chanted an anti-war statement in unison.

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva condemned the U.S.-led war in Iraq, saying that the effort to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction did not, in his words, "give the United States the right to decide unilaterally what is good and what is bad for the world." 

Other regional leaders including some who have been seen as friendly toward the United States echoed this point of view in statements. 

Mexican President Vicente Fox said that his country shares many values, goals and proposals with the United States, Great Britain and Spain, but that he cannot agree with those countries on the issue of war. He says all diplomatic efforts to find a solution should have been exhausted before undertaking military action.

Still, most political observers in Latin America expect little damage to U.S. relations with countries

 in the region as a result of the war, partly because it is in a far away region that has little impact on the Americas. They note that trade ties to the United States and other areas of cooperation are far more important to people here.

Most of the Latin American protesters have been the same people seen at other demonstrations, opposing globalization, the U.S. war against terrorism, or focusing on any number of local issues. 

In Mexico City Friday, some 400 peasant farmers marched to the U.S. Embassy to condemn the war. Many of them have been on the streets in recent months condemning the North American Free Trade Agreement as unfair to small farm operations.

According to public opinion polls, the average Latin American citizen is against the war, but not motivated to do much about it. Here in Brazil, for example, the call to boycott Coca Cola and McDonald's does not seem to have had much impact. 

People can be seen eating hamburgers and drinking cokes at the many McDonald's restaurants in Rio de Janeiro and shopping areas are crowded with people who seemed little concerned about the conflict on the other side of the world. 

Pacheco explains stand

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco went on television again Sunday night to stress his position that when faced with terrorism even Costa Rica cannot be neutral.

Pacheco has become the local focal point of war protestors, and some called at Casa Presidencial Saturday to voice their concern. He gave a special television broadcast Friday evening, too.


 
Our reward offer is still $500

Louis Milanes

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

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

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

Villalobos closed his business Oct. 14 and vanished.

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

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

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

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

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


 
A modest Villalobos proposal on investor money
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As we approach the six month date of the disappearance of Enrique Villalobos and, of course, the money, allow me to proffer a modest proposal. 

A large number of investors seem to be losing hope of ever recovering their money and believe they were the victims of a fraud. Another group continues to believe that "Enrique is your friend" and that he is the victim of a shadowy but unnamed conspiracy.

One group is clearly wrong.

What I propose is this: Those of you who represent that you have a back channel to Villaobos, tell him it is time for a dramatic and meaningful demonstration of good faith on his part. The time for talk and bravado is over. Mysterious E-mails will no longer do. Speculation accomplishes nothing.

It is time for dramatic action. It is time for him to demonstrate his Christian compassion. To stand like a man, stop hiding like a coward, and begin the end of the suffering his disappearance has caused for thousands of people.

To demonstrate to the world that he is not a crook, Villalobos must transfer at once an amount equal to a flat $5,000 for each investor at once. These funds can be transferred anonymously and wired directly into his lawyers’ account. The beauty of this plan is its simplicity:

— It is easy to administer. A flat payment of $5,000  regardless of investment to each investor of record, including Keith Nash.

— The money would be credited against the current interest due to the investors, which is compounding at a rate of 3 percent per month, thus relieving a growing future obligation.

— For those investors who are currently owed less then $5,000 of interest, the amount would be applied to both current and future payments. An easy bookkeeping procedure when this messy business is concluded.

— If the back channel group is to be believed, Villalobos is still investing almost $1 billion and receiving income. He therefore owes compounded interest to his "Friends." The total payment proposed would only amount to one months interest. One-sixth of what will be due on the sixth month.

— The money would not only be a dramatic demonstration of goodwill on Villalobos' part, but would have the result of rallying public opinion against the government. It would start the process of getting his brother released (who was, after all, abandoned by Enrique). It would clearly set the stage for a quick and fair negotiated settlement of the whole matter. And, it would vindicate his supporters who are, frankly, starting to look just plain silly and naive.

— Most importantly it would provide financial relief for the many people who find themselves in perilous shape. There has already been one suicide because of financial ruination. Only action on Villaobos' part can prevent more loss of life. If he fails to act from this point on, the blood would simply, and demonstrably be on the Brothers’ hands.

The time for talk is over. The time for action is at hand. It is time for Villalobos to stand and deliver. To end the suffering and anxiety, or be exposed for a fraud, and a con artist.

It is up to him to take action. Not lawyers. 

Charles Hobbs 
New York, N.Y. 

 
An invitation to enter our photo contest
The first A.M. Costa Rica photo contest welcomes your submissions and will award a prize of $100 in each of five categories.

The deadline for submission is April 15. The contest was announced in November.

Five categories have been established:

1. DEADLINE NEWS: A news photo that shows a breaking news event, such as, but not only, crime, accidents, fires, arrests.

2. SCENIC: Landscape scenes which may or may not include people as a secondary emphasis.

3. WILDLIFE: Photos that have as their principal subject one or more animals, plants or insects. 

4. SPORTS: A photo related to one of the major or minor sports, team or individual.

5. PEOPLE:  A photo that has as its principal emphasis one or more persons, including individual portraits. 


Deadline is April 15

BASIC RULES: The photo must be taken by the person who submits it, and he or she, as a condition of submission, agrees to give A.M. Costa Rica the right to publish the photo in A.M. Costa Rica. Upon publication, the photo will be covered by A.M. Costa Rica’s copyright, which the newspaper will happily assign back to the contestant upon request. As a condition of submission, the contestant affirms that he or she owns full rights to the photo and that it has never before been published in any professional medium.

The photo must have been taken within the borders or territorial waters of Costa Rica between Nov. 15 and the contest deadline. 

Only one entry per photographer is allowed in each category. Judges reserve the right to place the photo in another category during the selection process.
 
Employees, shareholders or interns with A.M. Costa Rica may not enter the contest. 

This is an open competition. No distinction will be made between professional and amateur photographers.

A.M. Costa Rica, at its option, will publish photos and information including the name of the photographer, as submissions are made.

The management of A.M. Costa Rica and judges are the final authority on contest rules and submissions.

TECHNICALITIES: The photos must be sent digitally via e-mail to 

editor@amcostarica.com, and the subject line must specify "photo contest." Within the body of the e-mail, the contestant must specify into which category the photo is submitted. The photo should be between 4 and 8 inches in width and contain no less than 72 pixels per inch of density. Each photo should not be larger than 200 k.

The e-mail message must clearly state the name and the circumstances surrounding the taking of the photo and the date the photo was taken. 

The photo should be in jpeg format and sent as an attachment with the file name as the number of the category in which it is being submitted followed by the name of the photographer.

For example, the file name of a photo in the sports category taken by Mr. Jones would be 4jones.jpeg or 4jones.jpg

PRIZES:  A first place winner will be named in each category, and the prize will be $100 paid via Pay Pal, the electronic fund-transfer system.

Letters from our readers on the war
Why does U.S. continue to pay Israel each year?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In 1948 the vast majority of Americans cheered the establishment of the new country of Israel. The U.S. was the first country in the U.N. to recognize Israel. When the first pictures of concentration camps in Poland, and Germany were published in this country showing the tens of thousands of murdered Jews, the ovens used to burn them, and the skeleton-like prisioners that had survived, Americans were naturally sympathetic to the Jews and happy to see a "homeland" established for them in Palestine. Against great odds, they defeated the Arab armies that poured into their territory from all the countries surrounding them.

Hundreds of books were published about the travails of the Jews before WW II, during and after the war, the migration to Israel, the war with the Arabs, and the subsequent wars. Fortunately for the Jewish people and the new state of Israel, these books portrayed the Jews as an almost superhumanly moral people doing battle with evil and darkness, the Arab. The most successful writers of this genre were Jewish. My favorite was Leon Uris. I never hated an Arab until I read his books.

In subsequent decades, Israel has continued to receive the accolades of the American newspapers, TV, books, movies, journals, and the U.S. government. In addition to accolades, they receive billions of our tax dollars each year to spend as they wish, and billions of military aid to maintain and increase their arsenal, which for many years has included nuclear weapons.

We occasionally ask them to make concessions to the Palestinians, such as to stop creating "settlements" in occupied Palestine, to stop bulldozing Arab houses and government infrastructure buildings, to pull back occupation forces as ordered by the United Nations decades ago. It is a strange love affair we have with Israel. It is a one-sided love affair, and yet we persist by lavishing them with taxpaper money and military might. I don't believe they can be bribed into loving Americans and reciprocating by making concessions that MIGHT lead to better world relations. I believe they are so certain of American support that they will thumb their noses at us forever.

My questions are: 

l. Why do we continue to give our wealth to one of the most feared military nations in the world? 

2. What does America gain, except alienation of over a billion Muslims, for its Israeli largesse? 

3. Is the Jewish lobby in Washington so strong that we must give in perpetuity? 

4. Isn't it time to end the multi-billion bribes we pay annually to both Egypt and Israel? 

5. Couldn't this money be better spent by those who earn it? 

6. If Washington's answer to question 5 is NO, couldn't we spend the money on famine, disease, food production, and natural disasters whereever they occur?

Experience teaches that there are two sides to every conflict. For the past 55 years, we have been getting one side. I have read enough of the other side that I don't hate Arabs any more, and I no longer love Jews. Both are just people, very much like us. Some time in the future it is my dream that the people of the world will say about Americans, "They are capitalists, but evenhanded, fair, and even generous, capitalists."

Jerry Kahler 
 
Wife walks against
criticism of America

Dear A.M. Costa Rica: 

Just a short note, so I may share with you and your readers the pride that’s swelling inside me because of the courage, conviction and fortitude exhibited this morning by my wife, Maida. 

Maida often attends church services at a small Catholic church located across the street from where we live. This morning, the priest’s message had to do with his and the Catholic Church’s opposition to America, Australia and Britain’s liberation of Iraq. 

Maida listened respectfully to his (and the church’s) opinion, and when he was through, she got up and walked out. She was sitting near the front of the church, and she said all eyes were on her and not a word was said as she left. 

I’m so proud of her. I truly wish that all of us who feel strongly about America and our right to protect the whole World from the potential devastation that could be our reality if not squelched had the opportunity to display our convictions in a similar very quiet, yet very positive way. 

God bless America.  God bless President Bush. 

Jim Edwards 
Alajuela, Costa Rica.
Will Iraq coalition
free Kurds, too?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

If the U.S. is going into Iraq to "free the people" of Iraq, then it would be hypocritical not to support an independent Kurdistan. Moreover, will the U.S. actively REPRESS Kurdish independence?

From my understanding, the Kurds will declare independence once Saddam Hussein is deposed.

Robert M. Andrews 
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., USA
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