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These stories were published Thursday, March 27, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 61
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War continues to exact political costs here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica’s moral support of the Iraqi war continues to fuel protests.

The Teatro Nacional expressed its anti-war protest this week by hoisting a giant white flag instead of the traditional Costa Rican banner. Geraldo Cordero, the man in charge of day-to-day maintenance activities, confirmed this. The flag had attracted the attention of passers-by.

The next protest march is Friday. Protestors will leave the Gimnasio Nacional in La Sabana and walk to the U.S. Embassy in Pavas. Marchers are from diverse organizations united under the name of América Nuestra, said an announcement.

At 3 p.m. the scene will shift to Parque Central in downtown San José where a two-day vigil is planned from 3 p.m. Friday to 2 p.m. Saturday. That vigil is being sponsored by the Centro de Amigos por la Paz. 

Saturday, a rally is planned also at the park. The sponsor is a group called Movimiento Mundial por la Paz.

Monday, student protestors and officials of the Universidad de Costa Rica will hold  a press conference at the university in San Pedro to express their point of view. The protests are official policy of the university.

Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. organizers plan something called a "virtual march for peace" to demand that the government remove the name of Costa Rica from the list of those countries that support the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Meanwhile the political stand taken by President Abel Pacheco against terrorism continues to have repercussions. Pacheco himself weighed in Wednesday when he was handing awards to young artists. Said the president:

"We are pacifists but not indifferent. We are not belligerents but in solidarity with the victims of

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
That’s a pigeon, not a dove, but the message is the same. The Teatro Nacional has hoisted a white flag.

dictatorships and terrorism. Not belligerents but in solidarity with those who fight for liberty, democracy and justice."

In the Asamblea Nacional José Miguel Corrales told his peers that only deputies could authorize a state of national defense and that the president does not have that power. Other deputies also urged that Pacheco and Roberto Tovar, foreign minister, take steps to have the name of Costa Rica taken from the list of countries that support the United States in the war.

Tovar told a reporter Tuesday that he would send letters to the U.S. administration and to the U.S. ambassador here clarifying the country’s stand.

Security to be increased to fight crime in Jacó
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jacó and vicinity will get 20 more policemen under a plan devised there Wednesday.

In addition the minister of Seguridad Pública will prevail on both the Judicial Investigating Organization and the president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia to beef up operations in Jacó and the entire canton of Garabito.

The Judicial Investigating Organization will be asked to put more men in the area, particularly at night, and the president of the court will be asked to set up a criminal tribunal for the canton. Now prosecutors in Jacó have to rely on a criminal court in Puntarenas.

Rogelio Ramos, the minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública came to Jacó Wednesday in response to pleas from citizens there about rampant crime and other problems. The city is the closest beach community to San José and suffers from many of the same social maladies, such as rampant prostitution, drug use and other types of ciminality.

The ministry said that with a new criminal court in the canton, investigators will be able to quickly get warrants for raids. Such speed will improve the fight against drugs and juvenile prostitution, said a report from the ministry.

However, Ramos told the local officials that he could not move immediately on their request to crack down on illegal aliens there. 

Ramos noted that the Sala IV constitutional court is considering a case that claims the immigration police, a branch of his ministry, are not duly constituted and therefore cannot make arrests. He said any action against aliens will have to await the resolution of the court case.

Ramos also promised to approach the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje to see if that government entity would open a study center in Jacó to allow younger residents learn marketing skills.

Ramos also said he would take action against places that sold alcohol and yet allowed underaged individuals to congregate there. That seems to be the recurrent problem. 

In addition, Ramos said that he would visit the area again in six months to see how the changes had helped to solve the crime problems.

Garabito Mayor Luis Fernando Villalobos was at the meeting and participated in the discussion. Later he said that Universidad Nacional would open a study center in Parrita to benefit youth in Aguirre as well as Garabito Canton. Now students have to go to Puntarenas.

 

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Former New York
senator dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NEW YORK — Former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a four-term Democrat from New York, has died at age 76. 

Moynihan's successor, Senator Hillary Clinton, announced the news on the Senate floor late Wednesday. 

The scholarly politician served under four consecutive U.S. presidents — John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford — before becoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the mid-1970s. 

He was known as an authority on both domestic and international issues, including welfare reform, the nation pension plan known as Social Security, and foreign policy. 

Ms. Clinton told her fellow senators Wednesday that Mr. Moynihan was, in her words, "a great American . . . an extraordinary senator, an intellectual, and a man of passion and understanding." 

President Bush said in a statement Wednesday that Moynihan was "an intellectual pioneer" and noted his commitment to free trade, Social Security, freedom for people around the world, and equal opportunity for Americans. 

Moynihan began his Senate career in 1976 and had been in ill health since his retirement in 2001. He most recently suffered complications from an emergency appendectomy earlier this month. He was born in 1927 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but spent most of his youth in New York City. 

Interpol issues warrant 
for former leader of Peru

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Peru — The international police organization Interpol, has issued a worldwide notice for the arrest of Peru's former president Alberto Fujimori.

The notice against Fujimori came at the request of authorities, who have charged the former president with murder and kidnapping related to several incidents during his presidency in the 1990s. 

The Interpol notice does not serve as an international arrest warrant. Member states of the police organization follow their own national laws in deciding whether to abide by such a notice. But it is likely to add pressure on Japan to extradite Fujimori, who has been living there since November 2000. 

The Japanese government refused to extradite Fujimori when murder and kidnapping charges were first filed against him by a prosecutor two years ago. A Japanese foreign ministry spokesman echoed that refusal last Saturday, saying there was no reason, at the moment, to extradite Fujimori. 

Authorities charge Fujimori with murder in relation to a 1991 massacre of 15 people in a low-income neighborhood here. The second murder charge relates to the 1992 killings of nine leftist students and a professor. Both were allegedly carried out by a paramilitary organization. 

In addition, Fujimori is implicated in the kidnapping of an intelligence agent, who reportedly leaked information about government atrocities to the press. Her mutilated body was found in 1997. 

An authoritarian and once-popular politician, Fujimori was elected president in 1990, and re-elected twice. He headed a tough campaign to crack down on drugs and terrorism. 

His government won praise for arresting the head of the Shining Path terrorist movement in 1992. But it also received condemnation for human rights violations, and for briefly dissolving the country's congress and suspending the constitution.

In the face of international criticism, the government introduced legal reforms last month, including new, anti-terrorist laws. 

Fujimori fled Peru for Japan three years ago, amid a corruption and bribery scandal. He resigned as president, and assumed Japanese nationality, based on his family background. 

His behavior, along with subsequent allegations of murder and other wrongdoing, enraged many here. But in Japan, Fujimori was seen as a hero, for his role in liberating hostages from the Japanese Embassy in Peru, six years ago.

U.S. plane crash
in Colombia claims 3 

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities here say a small U.S. government plane with three Americans onboard has crashed during a search-and-rescue mission in the southern Caqueta state. There were no survivors. 

Investigators say the Americans' twin-engine Cessna 208 slammed into a mountain Tuesday near the El Paujil area south of here. 

A military official says the plane caught fire after the crash and that soldiers found the crew's remains in the wreckage. The cause of the accident is under investigation. 

Officials say the incident happened as the crew searched for three other Americans kidnapped by leftist rebels last month after their U.S. government plane crash-landed in Caqueta. 

The captured Americans are in the custody of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the nation's largest guerrilla force. Soldiers have been searching jungles and mountains of the southern region for the missing Americans. 

The abducted Americans were private contractors working for the U.S. Defense Department, flying over suspected coca-growing areas. 

A fourth American and a Colombian soldier aboard the aircraft were shot and killed by rebels near the site of the February crash. 

The terrorist group has described the hostages as prisoners-of-war. They say the hostages will only be freed as part of a prisoner exchange with the Colombian government.

Brazilian leader about
to face first worker strike

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRASILIA, Brazil — The new center-left government here faced its first major strike — less than four months after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office.

Strike organizers say about 23,000 metalworkers from 40 factories downed their tools in an indefinite strike for a 10 percent pay rise. Strike officials say management from at least four of the factories have accepted the workers' demands Wednesday.

Da Silva is a former metalworker and trade union leader. He promised to bridge the gap between Brazil's rich and poor once elected, but so far he has focused on trying to curb the country's out-of-control inflation by raising interest rates.
 

United States rips
Cuba’s dissident policy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bush administration has condemned what it calls the Cuban government's "intensified oppression" of human rights and democracy activists.

Ari Fleischer, a White House spokesman, said Wednesday that Fidel Castro's government has jailed more than 75 activists in recent weeks. 

In a statement, he went on to demand that Cuba immediately release all imprisoned dissidents. 

The statement specifically names four in particular: Marta Beatriz Roque, Rene Gomez Manzano, Felix Bonne and Oscar Elias Biscet. 

International news sources report the European Union Wednesday also called for the immediate release of the Cuban dissidents.

Bush to nominate aide
for hemispheric post

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

President George Bush today announced his intention to nominate John F. Maisto to be the Permanent Representative of the United States to the Organization of American States, with the rank of ambassador. 

Maisto currently serves on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Prior to his appointment to there, he served as the United States Ambassador to Venezuela and also to Nicaragua.
 
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Canada asked to help investors, group reports
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The man who wants to pull Costa Rica into arbitration with Villalobos investors says his group’s lawyers have asked the Canadian Foreign Office to represent its citizens.

The man is Jack Caine, and his group is the Class Action Center. He sent an e-mail message Thursday to the Canadian Embassy in San José outlining the steps he expects his group will take.

Caine solicited investors to join the attempt at arbitration and has maintained a Web page with information about the Villalobos case. That page is at http://www.classactioncenter.net/html

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho defaulted on loans he has accepted from about 6,500 persons last October. He has been a fugitive since and faces allegations of money laundering and fraud.

Caine’s strategy is unique because, as he notes in his letter to Jean Senecal, embassy vice-consul, "whether the Villalobos brothers are innocent or guilty matters not to us."  Caine’s strategy claims that the Costa Rican government had an obligation to protect investors and failed to do to. The group has hired a Quebec law firm. He cites several international agreements.

Arbitration would be before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, 

an organization operated by the World Bank.

Caine said in his e-mail that he expected the Canadian government to reject his group’s request, but it did not. Instead the government officials sought more information during the meeting in Canada, said Caine. 

Caine has been criticized for his approach. Other lawyers involved with the Villalobos case say the group has little chance of success.  However, Caine has cited at least one case where Costa Rica paid an investor after arbitration. That was a confiscation case, one very different from the Villalobos case.

Other lawyers said that one problem with the Villalobos case is that investors accepted post-dated checks from the Mall San Pedro operation. The checks were the only evidence of the debt. Lawyers pursuing investor cases in Costa Rican courts say that their first big hurdle will be to get the courts to accept the checks as promissory notes.

Another possible problem stems from the fact that the Villalobos high-interest operation was not licensed by the government. An adjacent money changing operation, Ofinter S.A., was licensed but the personal deals done by Villalobos were characterized as transactions among friends. Such friendly transactions may not meet the requirements for arbitration under a 1999 agreement between Canada and Costa Rica.


 
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.

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.

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