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These stories were published Wednesday, May 11, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 92
Jo Stuart
About us
Granada developer was tortured
Arrest made in Cohen abduction and murder
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Robert Cohen was abducted, held hostage and beaten to death by robbers who wanted the code numbers to access his bank accounts, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Cohen, 64, is the developer from Granada, Nicaragua, who was found dead on a bank of the Río Chirripó near Limón March 10.

Tuesday investigators said they had a suspect in the crime. They identified him as a 39-year-old man from Honduras, Luis Alonso Douglas Mejia. A spokesperson for the agency said that more individuals might be implicated in the crime.

The suspect is believed to be detained.

Cohen was well-known in Granada and was the developer of a major townhome project there. He entered Costa Rica on business March 2 and walked out of the Intercontinental Hotel near Multiplaza in Escazú about 7 a.m. March 6.

Agents alleged that the suspect was among those who grabbed Cohen and held him hostage in a dwelling at Barras de Moin near Limón. The spokesman said that while Cohen was confined 

his abductors beat him brutally to get him to surrender the personal identification numbers that would allow them to access his bank accounts. Agents believe that Cohen refused to surrender the numbers and died from the increasingly brutal beatings that left marks all over his body.

However, the spokesperson said, the motive and the way the crime unfolded still is tentative.

Investigators initially said that Cohen, a U.S. citizen, was the victim of drowning. They also said that the body bore few marks except superficial knife wounds.

The complex Cohen was developing is on hold, according to a report from Granada. The complex was to be deluxe townhomes of 1,506 square feet in a gated community with fabulous views of Lake Nicaragua, according to the Web site of Coldwell Banker Nicaragua, which was to market the project. Prices started at $175,000. 

A man who sought to do business with Cohen said he believed the man spent more time in Costa Rica than Nicaragua, despite the project. 

Friends also said Cohen was a street-smart individual who would not get into just any car without a good reason.

Well-known expat is the object of a missing persons report
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Raymond Harold Melloway, a well known figure in the U.S. expat circles, made news Tuesday when the Judicial Investigating Organization asked for help in locating him.

The man, 61, is a resident of Barrio Santa Cecilia de Heredia where he owns property. An agent for the Judicial Investigating Organization said that a woman who was a girlfriend of Melloway reported him missing and said he had been gone for three months. The story took an odd twist because the agent said Tuesday that the woman now is missing, did not live at the address she said she did and does not answer her telephone.

Even stranger is that the Dirección General de Migración reported Tuesday that a man using the name of Harold Melloway left for the United States Jan. 18.

Melloway has been a frequent customer of the downtown expat bars, including the Piano Bar, which now is closed.
The Judicial Investigating Organization issued a special bulletin seeking information on the man. They said information on his whereabouts could be telephoned to 277-0342 or 277-0346.

Raymond Harold Melloway
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 11, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 92

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Luis Quijano prepares coffee the old fashioned way with a chorreador de cafe, sometimes called ‘the sock.’ The restaurant Nuestra Tierra specializes in traditional foods, and coffee dripped through a sock is about as traditional as you can get.

Other opinions

Drug laws do more harm 
than good, reader says

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Well, so now Tamarindo’s drug culture has made headlines in’s Friday edition. It’s old news to us old timers that Tamarindo is a good place to go to buy alternative mind adventures and to watch as most people stumble around too stoned to walk or talk straight. 

There are drugs available all over Costa Rica, not just the beach towns. Is there a reason? Perhaps the people prefer natural substances like marijuana, over chemical substances like Prozac and guaro! Only problem is how do the multinational drug dealers (pharmacies) make a killing profit off a plant that grows the world over like a weed? (Hint ? make it illegal and control the police services that are supposed to "control" it but really be the main supplier thus benefiting from tax dollars to anti-drug programs and drug profits from drug running).

But are these illegal drugs bad? Marijuana happens to be one of the world’s most useful plants, making the best fabric for clothes and bags, ship's sails and sheeting (rope), oil, food, medicine not to mention the reason it was made illegal — the best paper in the world is made of hemp. The Constitution of the U.S. was written on hemp paper. The forefathers of the United States grew hemp as a main agricultural product. 

The reason pot is illegal today has to do with greed and power not damage to one’s soul. The fact is that hemp paper is cheaper, stronger, far less damaging to the environment than it’s alternative wood pulp paper which is provided to us by a few giant multinationals. Sure, if one smokes pot daily for years, one’s productivity is lower than someone who only occasionally puffs, but so what? Are we put on this third rock from the sun to be productive slaves to world commerce? Or are we placed here for more spiritual reasons? Or for no reason what so ever?

Alcoholism is a major problem in Costa Rica and the U.S.A. due to the fact that one alternative, marijuana, is illegal. It is far less damaging on the body, mind and soul to puff a joint after work then take a couple of alcoholic drinks. Cigarettes are the most addictive substance on the planet, and cause cancer and other disease, yet many smoke tobacco. For some reason our world is upside down, inside out and backwards . . . and it is not a pretty sight.

Crack and cocaine are just stupid drugs. They are much like the drugs the doctor prescribes, heavily processed petrochemicals designed to destroy and maim in stages. Much of what is sold as cocaine has nonpolar solvents like acetone or methylethylkeytone left over from it’s processing. You want that in your body? Stupid drugs for stupid people. 

Did you know that the first 20 years of Coca-Cola’s life, it was heavily laced with cocaine? Hence it’s name! And today Coca-Cola, with it’s secret formula, written down on only one sheet of paper locked away in a CIA affiliated bank vault, is in every country on the planet and is one of the most addictive of the soda pops available. Yet the same cops who bust your kids for smoking a joint outside a disco, would happily drink a coke a day (to keep the doctor away?).

In your article you mention the lack of police in the beach towns needed to control the illegal drug problem. Let’s see, if these drugs were all legal, and we just went to the pharmacy to get them, people would buy a joint and enjoy it far more than that bottle of beer that now ruins so many lives legally. Plus we would have less cops, less crime, lower taxes, less laws, no drug dealers as the pharmacies would sell for less. 

All in all, the only way to have a better world is to make these street alternative drugs legal. Instead of arming our children with deadly fire power to kill pot smokers, let’s arm our teachers with knowledge and educate our youth to the pros and cons of all drugs, including the deadly poisons sold at the pharmacies as "treatments". Lets spend money on rehabilitation and less on incarceration and destruction.

I suggest you do a google on "hemp", "coca-cola ingredients" and other keywords to find out what I’m saying is the truth. The governments have lied, and many innocent lives have been lost so that a very few rich bastards can continue to rule this planet. One giant con job.

How is that when the Americans invaded and took over Afghanistan three years ago, that there was almost no opium produced there. Yet today, Afghanistan, under the control of U.S. forces and CIA, now accounts for 70 percent of the world’s opium production? Is there a connection? And if so, would the fact that marijuana, the most useful plant on the earth is considered illegal because it competes with petrochemicals, forest products, agriculture products and medicines have anything to do with this phony evil war on drugs?

Who or what is the real enemy of human kind?

Bob Jones 
Tilaran, Costa Rica 

EDITOR’S NOTE: We believe the point of the Tamarindo story is that harder drugs are becoming more available there.

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.


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Providing U.S. Tax return preparation including back reporting and all other filing issues, accounting services and business consulting.
Telephone 305-3149 or 256-8620


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U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol

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Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorney at Law
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*Investments  *Corporations *Tax Shelters
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Breedy Abogados S.A.
Since 1957. Best experience in: 
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Ex-Ecuadorian VP has to hurry back to asylum here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Latin American political winds have once again brought Alberto Dahik back to Costa Rica where political asylum was again granted April 28, the foreign ministry confirmed Tuesday.

Dahik, once a golden boy of Latin American finance, is the former vice president of Ecuador who first fled to 
Costa Rica Oct. 11, 1995, to avoid an arrest warrant for corruption.

At the time then- President Jose Maria Figueres and then-Foreign Minister Fernando Naranjo Villalobos made a controversial decision to grant the man and his family political asylum. Some outraged officials in Ecuador said the man was simply a fugitive from justice.

Alberto Dahik
Typically someone seeking political asylum somehow is on the outs with the government of the home country. Dahik was part of the government but facing allegations that some $6 million in discretionary funds were misused.

Dahik left Costa Rica to return home in early April. The president of the Ecuadorian Corte Supreme de Justicia, Guillermo Castro, threw out the legal process against Dahik March 31. The magistrate also voided a criminal action against former president Abdalá Bucaram (1996-1997).

By leaving Costa Rica for Ecuador, Dahik terminated the

grant of political asylum. Bucaram returned from Panamá.

But April 20, faced with mounting political pressure and street protests, Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutiérrez fled the country. Alfredo Palacio, Ecuador's vice president, became the new head of state. He was not considered a friend of Dahik, Bucaram or former President Gustavo Noboa (2000-2003), who also faced criminal action. So the men left the country again to avoid the reinstatement of criminal charges

Dahik has a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University that he earned working with 1979 Nobel Prize winner Sir Arthur Lewis.

A  president of the monetary board from 1984 to 1985, Dahik was part of the economic transformation of the country after its return to democracy. He was finance minister in 1985 to 1987 and vice president in 1992 to 1995 under president Sixto Durán Ballén.

The political situation in Ecuador is complex. Dahik was vice president in a conservative administration and he has been branded a neoliberal by leftist opponents. Neoliberal generally means a believer in free markets.

The administration of Gutiérrez supported privatization of utilities and social security as well as flexibility in the labor laws. There also is a pending free trade treaty with the United States. 

A spokesman for the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto in Costa Rica said Tuesday that Dahik feared for his personal safety as a result of the developments that took place in Ecuador and that was important in granting him and his family political asylum.

Decision gives refugees status as temporary residents
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The United Nations refugee agency, which has been operating a microcredit program for  refugees in Costa Rica, has welcomed the decision of the country's high court to allow local banks to give loans to some 8,000 Colombians using their refugee identity cards.

Most of the Colombian refugees in Costa Rica arrived between 2000 and 2002, but the influx continues, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. Costa Rica hosts the second-largest concentration of Colombian refugees in Latin America, after Ecuador.

Late last week the constitutional chamber ruled that a bank's rejection of refugee Ricardo Angel's 2003 loan application to start a furniture-making business was discriminatory and violated his rights as a "temporary resident" of the country.

"This ruling is a step toward the local integration of the refugee population in Costa Rica," said James Kovar, a representative of the high commissioner. "We now have an extraordinary precedent that opens wider possibilities to the refugee community in the country."

Most of the Colombian refugees have been in Costa Rica for almost five years, a length of time that has created various challenges for the authorities, the host community, the Office of the High Commissioner, its counterparts and for the refugees themselves, Kovar said.

"This sort of protracted refugee situation has posed a tremendous challenge in the local integration of the refugees in Costa Rica, where the few options available, together with the lack of information in key services on refugee rights, have created barriers to durable solutions for some refugees," Kovar said.

The U.N. microcredit program, established in 2002, has allowed some 150 families to start such businesses as bakeries, restaurants, beauty salons, crafts workshops, candy production, music production and a recording studio, the agency said.

For two years Angel tried to get a bank loan to start up his furniture workshop, but was told that as a Colombian refugee in Costa Rica, he lacked the necessary residence identity card to qualify.

"I am glad to wake up today and hear this positive 

news," said Angel. "Living in a state that respects the law gives me hope for the future. My rights have been respected. I will no longer feel discriminated against when requesting a bank credit. I can now go on with my furniture workshop."

Angel has come a long way from Colombia. He arrived in Costa Rica about five years ago with his wife and daughter, armed with nothing but years of experience working with wood, metal and glass. They did not know what to expect in exile, but knew they could not stay amid the violence of their homeland.

Angel remembered the problems he faced in the beginning. "It was hard to start up. Nobody wanted to employ a 50-year-old Colombian refugee. Unfortunately, there is a tremendous misconception of Colombians in this country. We only want to live in peace and raise our family. We don't want to hurt anyone here. We ourselves were harmed before coming, so why would we want to continue the violence?"

Unable to find a job, he tried to make a living doing what he knew best, making furniture, but didn't have the seed money to start. All the credit institutions he approached rejected him with the excuse: "Refugees are not residents. You are not entitled to credits."

Indeed, one of the biggest problems faced by refugees in Costa Rica is the lack of knowledge among key service providers. "Hardly anyone in this country knows what being a refugee means," said Carmen, another Colombian refugee. "I have shown my refugee ID card in some banks, I have tried to access some public services, and nobody knows that it is a legal document issued by the government's migration office."

Last week's ruling that refugees can apply for loans with their refugee ID card will hopefully put an end to such problems.

A recent socio-economic impact study of the microcredit project showed that many families have been able to move from single rooms to apartments, and then to houses as a result of their new economic self-sufficiency. The average number of employees per business doubles six months after receiving a loan.

An initiative is currently underway to increase program depth and breadth by including more vulnerable refugees as beneficiaries and off-setting increased risk with a group lending methodology and a business community mentor network.

Da Silva cites common goals at Latin-Arab summit
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRASILÍA, Brazil — President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva welcomed South American and Arab leaders to this, the Brazilian capital, Tuesday for a summit on trade and other issues. Da Silva said the regions have common goals for commercial and social development. U.S. and Israeli officials are concerned that the summit participants might use the meetings as an opportunity to criticize U.S. and Israeli policy in the Middle East.

In an address Tuesday to South American and Arab representatives, Da Silva welcomed participants to an unprecedented summit to foster cooperation between South America and the Arab world. 

Da Silva said the nations on hand had common goals for commercial and social development.  "We want to enjoy and realize our potential to reach the common objectives of South America and the Arab world," da Silva said. 

In his opening remarks for the two-day summit, the Brazilian president called on the participants to band together to combat poverty and hunger in both regions. 

The leaders also pledged support for sweeping political and economic changes to bring the regions together.

Monday, representatives arriving for the summit in Brasilía expressed a desire to increase trade between South America and the Arab world. 

Brazil's Foreign Ministry estimates the two regions exchanged about $10 billion in trade last year. 

On the diplomatic front, da Silva spoke with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas Monday and urged him to be patient in peace talks with Israel. 

U.S. and Israeli officials have expressed concern that the meetings could serve as a platform to launch attacks on both nations' policies in the Middle East.  Last week the Israeli embassy in Brazil released a statement saying it was concerned about the upcoming summit.

A summit declaration is expected to be released at the conclusion of the summit Wednesday. A draft statement reportedly includes language that demands Israel disband settlements in Palestinian areas and retreat to its borders before the 1967 Mideast war. The draft also condemns U.S. economic sanctions against Syria and denounces terrorism. 

The draft statement asserts the right of people to resist foreign occupation, saying acts of national defense are not considered terrorism. 

U.S. will continue to push for open skies agreements
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — International aviation is a critical link between the economies of the world's nations, and the United States is interested in getting Latin American nations to get rid of anachronistic restrictions that hamper travel, says Jeffery Shane, under secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In remarks in Miami, Shane outlined the important role of international aviation in the global economy and stressed U.S. interest in crafting a liberalized aviation relationship, including Open Skies agreements, with Latin America.

Shane noted that even though ocean and surface modes of transportation are carrying the highest volume of goods in global trade, the aviation industry transports 40 percent of global exports by value. The introduction of more modern cargo aircraft should reduce costs and increase the percentage of freight moved by air, he added.

To enhance the ability of the aviation industry to respond to the growing demands of international business, the liberalization of international aviation policy is important, the under secretary said.

"The U.S. continues to believe that liberalization is essential to the realization of air transportation's proper place in the global economy, and [is] critical to maximizing the contribution of aviation to global economic growth," he said.

To these ends, according to Shane, the pursuit of Open 

Skies agreements remains the keystone of U.S. international aviation policy. The core tenets of Open Skies, he pointed out, include unrestricted access to international markets, unrestricted entry, wholly discretionary pricing of services in response to market forces, the absence of capacity controls, and the possibility of cooperative service arrangements.

Shane noted that the United States has entered into 15 Open Skies agreements in the past four years.

In the Western Hemisphere, the under secretary said, the United States has reached Open Skies agreements with the nations of Central America. He added that the United States has also had success in liberalizing aviation agreements in South America and has concluded Open Skies agreements with Uruguay and, most recently, Paraguay.

Shane said that the United States continues to work with Caribbean countries to explore the possibility of Open Skies and is also exploring the possibility of an all-cargo Open Skies accord with Colombia.

"For international air carriers to prosper in the longer term, they simply must have a liberalized relationship with the rest of the world," he said.

Whereas anachronistic restrictions currently constrain development of aviation and other industries, Open Skies and international aviation liberalization will spur development, Shane told his audience. As this liberalization continues, he said, the United States remains committed to working with Latin America to harness the potential of international aviation.

Jo Stuart
About us
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