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These stories were published Wednesday, April 3, 2002,  in Vol. 2, No. 65
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Police say revenge was motive in murder
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Revenge was the motive that led to the murder of a Dominican woman in the Los Arcos home of a retired U.S. citizen last week, investigators said Tuesday.

Agents announced the arrest of a woman and two men in the murder of María Magdalena Luriano, 26. Her body was found in the sauna of the home Wednesday.

The arrested woman was identified by the last name of Salazar. Agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization said she was 37 years old and told them she was three months pregnant.

Agents said that Salazar, a Nicaraguan, was a companion for about nine months of Eldridge Suggs, 72, the U.S. citizen who lived in the home.  Also arrested was a male Costa Rican named Barboza, 22, who accompanied Salazar to the Los Arcos home Wednesday to exact revenge on Suggs, said investigators.

Also arrested was a 17-year-old Costa Rican who, agents said, was the person who actually slashed the murder victim in the neck three times. The Dominican woman, who had been in Costa Rica only a few months, had been a companion of Suggs for about a month, said agents. She was a former ballerina and was exceptionally beautiful even in death, they said. She has no family in Costa Rica, they added.

What investigators said they believed took place was this:

The three persons knew each other because they live in the same neighborhood in Guadalupe. Salazar wanted revenge because of the termination of the relationship about a month ago. So the trio decided to rob Suggs.

Using keys to the dwelling that she had retained, the three came Wednesday morning to the residence in Los Arcos, which is near Cariari just south of the Autopista General 

Cañas. The building actually is in a small pocket of Heredia that reaches south of the highway.

The three entered the dwelling intent on stealing items and perhaps confronting Suggs. But he had left about 8:30 a.m. to play golf at the nearby Cariari course. Instead, the trio surprised Ms. Luriano, who confronted them and began to resist. It was then that the younger male stabbed her fatally.

The three put the Luriano woman in the sauna and waited for Suggs. He returned about noon and was surprised by the two men. They were wearing ski masks. The woman apparently remained hidden from Suggs.

The two men proceeded to torture Suggs for more than three hours, trying to force him to tell them where he had hidden money. Finally they handcuffed him, tied him up and dumped him in the closet of the master bedroom.

The men used a BMW automobile belonging to Suggs to carry them and items they looted from the home to Guadalupe.

Meanwhile, Suggs, wounded and bleeding, tried to free himself. He managed to open the closet and crawl to the back patio where he cried for help in English about 8 p.m. that night, nearly 11 hours since the crime began.  A neighbor heard his cries and responded. He went to Hospital CIMA for treatment of his wounds.

Agents said they became suspicious when it became clear that access was gained to the house using keys. Under questioning, Suggs mentioned the woman who had been his companion. Police did the rest.

When they raided the house in Guadalupe they said they found a number of items that belonged to Suggs, including sound equipment, televisions, wireless telephone, a revolver and his billfold. Police have not yet located the BMW automobile.

Crouse's hearing leaves him still waiting in jail
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Roger Crouse, the Playas del Coco bar owner, still is in jail. A preliminary hearing to consider his case in the killing of a bar patron has been suspended. And a judge has rejected a habeas corpus plea.

Crouse said by telephone from his Liberia jail compound that a hearing March 19 simply resulted in getting two more months added to his preventative prison time. He had hoped that the hearing would result in his freedom.

The fiscal or public prosecutor was supposed to tell the judge the case the government has against Crouse. The bar owner has contended all along that he shot the man in self-defense when the man came at him with a knife.

Crouse, 50, a Canadian, shot and killed the man in his Gaby's Bar in Playas del Coco the evening of Aug. 19. The man came at him with a knife, Crouse told investigators. The man had been in the bar earlier creating a disturbance, and police took him away only to free him and let him return to the bar two hours later.

Crouse originally was held for investigation for three months. Then that term was extended for three months more. 

Lica. Aimed Carabaca is the fiscal in the case. She did not make the March 19 hearing in Santa Cruz because she said she had another case in Liberia. The state was represented by Lic. Alvaro Cordoba

Cordoba said the hearing was suspended at the last minute because one legal step was lacking. Crouse had not been given a "comunicado demanda civil," a paper listing the people who were pressing a case for money damages. The family of the dead man is seeking the damages.

To have continued the hearing without giving Crouse this paperwork would have violated his civil rights, said the lawyer. Doing all the legal steps correctly is important for Crouse, the lawyer added.

The judge in the case has denied several habeas corpus motions filed by Crouse’s lawyer, said Cordoba. No date for the new preliminary hearing has been set, although it should take place within the two months.

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Coffee crises prompts session to weigh trends
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A conference to address the crisis in the international coffee market and its effect on Central American small growers and rural economies is being held today through Friday in Antigua, Guatemala.

Organizers say the conference will discuss how a combination of expanded coffee supply and slow growth in demand has caused coffee prices to drop to their lowest levels in 100 years when adjusted for inflation. As a result, organizers say, some 600,000 temporary and permanent workers have lost their main source of employment, dealing a financial blow to Central America that is being called a "silent [Hurricane] Mitch," in reference to the storm which ravaged the region in 1998.

The conference will focus on present trends in the coffee market, Central America's comparative advantage within the coffee sector, consumption trends and commercialization, options for risk management, the role of public policy and institutions, and opportunities to diversify activities in the rural economy. Conference co-sponsors are 

the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank.

Central American agriculture ministers, representatives of regional coffee institutions, senior executives from international coffee buyers and roasters, leaders of producer groups, and non-governmental organizations are among those participating in the conference.

A recent USAID fact sheet said low coffee prices in Central America have had a devastating effect on coffee-producing areas of the region, many of which have also suffered from drought conditions. The cost to produce coffee exceeds the selling price, making it impossible for small farmers to continue production and putting larger farmers out of business, USAID said.

The agency added that seasonable employment for small farmers and landless workers who would normally work on coffee plantations has been eliminated, and those affected by the drought are now without a source of income to replace their crop losses with purchased food.

She remembers the old-time processions here
By Lucia Wrestler
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

When you grow up in a mostly Catholic country, you tend to take the rites and customs seriously, especially pre-Vatican II. Costa Rica has had to slowly yield to modern times and ways. Pre-Vatican II was a time that you would not see a car on the road during Good Friday, and the only thing you would hear on the radio would be heavy classical music.

San Pedro had excellent processions during Holy Week. Whenever any act would take place, the altar boys would step outside the church with their big wooden clappers and wield them calling the faithful in. Remember that at that time not a bell was rung, no music was heard during Holy Week. These clappers were about half a meter in length and it took a big altar boy to be able to wield one. They would swing them around and around, and you would hear a Rack-a-rack-a-rack.

One of the best processions was the living Via Crucis. Almost all the town participated in it, besides being in the crowd following Jesus. His statue was equipped with mobility and when He was to yield the cross to Simon, the statue actually handed it over. I don’t remember if they did all 14 stations of the cross or just the main ones (aren’t they all main), but I do remember the procession was quite lengthy and at each station they had a small stage with whatever scene was to take place there. 

There were plenty of palms and lots of angels. 
 

Every family that could afford to do so had an angel at these stations, sometimes to pay a promise, sometimes to just show they could afford to have one. Age really wasn’t a limit as long as it was a child beyond toddler and under puberty who could keep somewhat still for a length of time. 

One time, when I was around 6, my cousin next door was to be an angel, and mother would allow us to go see her. A few days before the procession she was smitten with one of the childhood diseases, it wasn’t life-threatening, but we weren’t allowed to see her as it might be contagious. 

The family was in a quandary. They had the wings and the whole outfit ready. She and I were about the same age, though not the same girth. A long, flowing robe would be quite concealing and give length to a chubby child. So I was chosen.

The day came, and I went over to the house to don my garments. They fussed over me and made sure I looked angelic. Just as we were about to leave, nature called. I needed to go real bad, and the bathroom was in use. The procession was about to start. We had already heard the clappers, but I needed to go. So a nightjar was furnished, and I sat in an empty room. 

Things would have been fine, if my cousin hadn’t gone by and stopped to look at me, his arms akimbo. "Well, this is really something, who ever heard of an angel using the potty?"

Lucia Wrestler is a Costa Rican-American working at the University of Indiana and making plans to move back here.


 
New passports now
have special security

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. State Department says next week it will start issuing a new state-of-the-art passport for U.S. citizens, calling it one of the world's most secure travel documents. 

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said Tuesday getting more secure passports into circulation will minimize the misuse of U.S. passports by terrorists and criminals. The new passports feature what Reeker calls enhanced security features. They include a digitized image imbedded in the paper, making the passport almost impossible to forge. 

Although the terrorists who attacked the United States Sept. 11 used valid visas in valid passports to get into the country, the United States has been reviewing all entry controls in the wake of the attacks. The State Department is asking U.S. citizens living overseas who need new passports to apply early. 

Embassies and consulates do not have the technology to issue the new documents, which have to be processed in New Hampshire in the northeastern United States.  Americans can still use their current passports, but may have them replaced for a fee.
 

Chavez calls Colombians
liars over border dispute

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

CARACAS, Venezuela —President Hugo Chavez is disputing allegations that Colombian leftist rebels are staging cross-border attacks from a base in his country. Speaking publicly on the matter Tuesday, Chavez accused the Colombian military of lying about the presence of rebels in Venezuela. 

Chavez also says Venezuela has sent a protest note to Colombia about the allegations but received no response from the government of President Andres Pastrana. 

Venezuela issued its protest in response to recent comments by Colombian Army Gen. Martin Orlando Carreno. Foreign Minister Luis Alfonson called Gen. Carreno's comments "malicious." 

Last month, the general said a unit from the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia attacked his soldiers along the joint border, then retreated to a base in Venezuela to avoid pursuit by Colombian forces. The clash killed at least 38 rebels and soldiers. 

Since taking office three years ago, President Chavez has denied accusations his government sympathizes with or has collaborated with Colombian rebels. 

For nearly four decades, Colombia has been mired in a civil war that pits the FARC and a smaller rebel force [the National Liberation Army or ELN], against the government and a right-wing paramilitary force. The conflict has left at least 40,000 people dead in the past decade alone. 
 
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Argentine leader
is Malvinas hawk

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — President Eduardo Duhalde is promising to win back the Falkland Islands. He spoke at a ceremony in the port of Ushuaia commemorating the 20th anniversary of Argentina's invasion of the Falklands. 

The Argentine leader told a crowd of thousands that "the Malvinas [Falklands] are ours. We will win them back." 

On April 2, 1982, Argentine forces landed on the rugged islands. The invasion triggered a 74-day war with Britain, which sent ships, aircraft and troops to recapture them.  The conflict claimed nearly 1,000 lives, most of them Argentine. 

The islands, which were originally colonies of France, and then Spain, have been the subject of a territorial dispute since their annexation by Britain in 1833. Britain, however, says the sovereignty of the disputed islands is not negotiable.  More than 2,000 people, most of them of British descent, live in the Falkland capital, Stanley. 
 

Anti-pipeline five
ordered set free

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

QUITO, Equador — Ecuadorean authorities have ordered the release of five Europeans arrested last week for opposing construction of an oil pipeline through a nature reserve outside of here.

The city's mayor, Efren Cocios, made the announcement Monday, saying the detainees' rights were violated when they were arrested. He also said legal mistakes had been made in the charges. 

The three Germans, one French and one Irish citizen, were among 14 foreign environmental activists who had camped out near the Mindo forest and bird habitat for several weeks to protest the pipeline's planned route through the forest. The other nine activists arrested with them were freed last week and deported. 

The disputed pipeline is set for completion next year. It would transport crude oil from Ecuador's oil-rich Amazon jungle to the Pacific Ocean. The government considers this a major investment that will help the Andean nation's economy.

Senator’s sister
arrested in death

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities say they have arrested the sister of a senator who was murdered last month. 

Investigators say Sanda Daniels was taken into custody Monday to face questions surrounding the death of her sister, Sen. Martha Catalina Daniels. They also say a man suspected of involvement in the slaying also was arrested.

Sen. Daniels, her driver and another woman were killed March 2 near the town of Zipacon. Media reports say that at the time of her death, Sen. Daniels had been trying to negotiate the release of two politicians taken hostage by leftist rebels. 

Canadian tomatoes
ruled not dumped 

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that imports of greenhouse tomatoes from Canada do not meet the legal requirements to be subject to anti-dumping duties.

Dumping is the import of goods at a price below the home-market or a third-country price or below the cost of production. In 2000 the U.S. imports of greenhouse tomatoes from Canada amounted to $161 million.
 


 
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