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These stories were published Thursday, May 13, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 94
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Legion post takes name of U.S.-Tico soldier killed in Iraq
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica’s American Legion Post #16 will now carry the name of Raymond Edison Jones Jr.

He is the son of a Costa Rican woman, and he died serving as a U.S. Army staff sergeant in Iraq April 9.

The Legion post made the decision at an executive session before a meeting Tuesday in Heredia.

Jones, 31, of Gainesville, Fla., died in Bayji, Iraq when a rocket-propelled grenade struck him while on patrol, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.  Jones was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany, the department said.

Howard Singer, commander of the Legion post, said that the decision to rename the organization was unanimous. Now the post will be known as the Staff Sergeant Raymond

Edison Jones Jr. American Legion Post #16 Costa Rica.

Singer said that the post will attempt to have an appropriate ceremony to honor Jones. He said the family is proud of the honor bestowed on their hero son.

The sergeant’s brother wrote him to say that he knows his brother is looking down from heaven on this new honor smiling, Singer said.

The sergeant never lived in Costa Rica but visited here several times, the family has said. His mother lived in the United Sates for some 30 years.

The family has asked that their names not be published because they did not want to be bothered by the local press.

The American Legion, chartered by Congress in 1919, is the world’s largest veterans’ organization with an estimated 3 million members. Many of the 15,000 posts of the organization carry the name of war heroes.


 
 Key question in Zamora case still unanswered
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In the 27 years that Ronnie Zamora has spent in prison, there seems to have been little progress in addressing the central defense issue raised at the man’s murder trial.

Zamora, who now is 42, has been in jail since he was 15. He murdered an 82-year-old South Florida neighbor and then blamed his crime on "television intoxication."

The issue is in the news because the Florida Parole Board ratified Zamora’s June 1 release Wednesday. The decision was expected since the same board set a June release date in a meeting last January.

Zamora is Costa Rican and his age when he committed the murder generated sympathy among Ticos. The law here generally does not allow for adult sentencing of those below 16 years.

Zamora’s trial counsel, Ellis Rubin, argued that the television intoxication caused legal insanity in his client. He later said he had read many studies on television and violence during the preparation for the trial.

Also involved in a later appeal was President Abel Pacheco, who is by profession a psychiatrist. Pacheco visited Zamora Dec. 9 in Florida.

Once Zamora is released, he will be placed in detention by U.S. immigration agents for eventual deportation. He is expected to return here.

In addition to the ill-fated television intoxication claim, the Zamora trial itself was televised, one of the first in U.S. history. Plus Zamora’s goal when he killed the neighbor was to steal her television.

The television lineup that Zamora was watching in 1977 has changed significantly. Cable expands the potential for violent shows. The V-chip is supposed to give parents more control. Video games and home computers greatly expand the possibilities for violence and other media experiences.

Despite numerous studies and public pronouncements since at least 1968, there has been no conclusive cause-and-effect report on television violence. 

In laboratory situations, scientists can generate temporary hostile attitudes with prolonged exposure to violent programming, But others believe that exposure to violence drains hostility from viewers.

Other studies show that 50 percent of the persons depicted in television shows are involved in violence compared with about 1 percent of the real people involved in violence.

 
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Fiscal general cites
threats to employees

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The fiscal general and the Ministerio Público said Wednesday that many public employees fear to provide information to investigators because they think they may be fired.

The fiscal general, Francisco Dall'anese Ruiz, told public employees that loyalty does not mean that they should cover up corruption. Anyone who does cover up an illegal act and fails to report it will be accused by the Ministerio Público for the crime of failing to fulfill his or her duty, he said.

The Ministerio Público is the independent prosecuting arm for the country.

The announcement said that threats of disciplinary sanctions have been made against public servants if they file complaints about irregularities that they see during their daily work.

The ministry did not say what investigation had been compromised by such threats or what public institutions were being investigated.

The announcement said that certain flyers or circulars and administrative directives had been uncovered that contradicted Costa Rican law. 

Most are back home,
but more rain coming

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Only 33 persons were left in shelters Wednesday evening as the more than 2,000 displaced from their dwellings by flooding have returned home.

However, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional is warning that more rain may fall today and through the weekend, so emergency officials are warning residents of the northern zone and the Caribbean slope to keep up their guard.

The bulk of the rivers that drain to the Caribbean seem to have returned to normal levels, according to the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias. Only the Río Sixaola in the south and the Río Colorado in the north were reported to still be out of their banks.

Reports of damage continue to roll in. The area has been hit by heavy rains that started Friday. Eight dikes suffered damages as did some 32 schools, 1,028 homes, 50 bridges and many stretches of roadway.

However, the damage is considerably less than the disasters that hit the area in May and June 2002.
 

Taxi driver victims
begin to add up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Judicial Investigating Organization said Wednesday that each day about 25 complaints arrive from taxi drivers who have been robbed, mostly at gunpoint.

Agents of the division de Robo de Vehiculos said they are working hard to arrest the several gangs they think are responsible.

In a 6 a.m. raid Wednesday agents captured a 32-year-old Nicaraguan and said that they were hot on the trail of other suspects from the same group.

The arrest was made in San Miguel Higuito. Agents said that this band of robbers was active all over the metropolitan area, including Curridabat, Aserri, Los Hatillos and Desamparados.

During the raid, agents located a Toyota Landcruiser that had been stolen in Acosta several days ago.

The man was identified as Geovanny Gutiérrez Fonseca.

Agents said that one of the band generally hails a taxi and asks the driver to take him to a desolated spot where the passenger pulls a gun. Other members of the gang join him and they take the valuables and the car of the taxi driver. Both licensed and so-called pirate taxi drivers have been victims.

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James J. Brodell......................................editor
Saray Ramírez Vindas............ associate editor

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Our readers write to express their opinions
Doesn’t like new bridge

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am disappointed to hear about the new bridge at the entrance of Manual Antonio. Having to wade the inlet added to the experience. 

Don Thompson
Alexandria, Louisiana 
and Los Sueños
Prostitution is part 
of free choice, he says

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding your editorial about the Free Trade Agreement and vice. I am genuinely curious about a few things and was wondering if you could help me understand. 

Firstly, why is it a "Deal with the Devil" to have legalized prostitution and regulate it in such a way that both the women and the men are protected?. 

Secondly, what is so bad about adults choosing to go to either a prostitute or a casino? As long as both are staffed and attended by consenting adults where is the negative? 

If prostitution is legal somewhere, and there are people that like it, what's wrong with them going there? You say that they are promoting sex-tourism, can you show one piece of evidence or liturature where the government or powers-that-be has done this?

Prostitition has been there legal and regulated there for a long time as it has been in most of the world. They did not just start it 20 years ago to attract North American males. They legalized it because they don't have puritanical hang-ups about sex and because it's the best way to protect everyone involved, especially the women. 

Mind you we are talking about consenting adults, under-age prostitution should be vigorously prosecuted, and drugs are a whole different matter. 

But with legal prostitution and gambling, what's wrong with adults living in "free" societies choosing to engage in these activities as long as everyone involved is of legal age and consenting?. 

John Smythe
Reader urges citizens
to register and vote

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

 The U. S. Presidential Election is Nov. 2, 2004 REGISTER AND VOTE ON NOV. 2nd 

"If you are a registered voter in the United States, you have more political power than 99% of all of the people who have ever lived on earth!" 

The upcoming presidential election may very well be the most important election in all of U.S. history. Each and every vote will count and just because you live or will be overseas does not mean that you cannot vote. 

Uninformed, uninvolved populous is exactly what a tyrant would want. They want people not to care. I think in these urgent times it's essential for everyone to at least have an idea of what's going on. At least they've attempted to not accept what is put on their plate in front of them and told, "This is what we consume, and you like it because we say so.'" 

The following websites are good places to register to vote now. 
http://www.newvotersproject.org/ http://www.declareyourself.com/

To request an absentee ballot, please visit the following link for a listing of your state: http://www.fvap.gov/links/statelinks.html 

"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has 'closed,' the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. AND I AM CAESAR." 

--Julius Caesar

 

-- VOTE IN 2004 --

Kytka Jezek


 

We’ve been bought,
this reader claims

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Is the free-trade treaty alternative more vice?

After reading this "Anal-ysis of the news" I quickly realized that someone or all have been bought off by either the U.S. government or special interests in CR. 

I came to this conclusion because, I can’t believe that supposedly educated, professional journalists, who would have researched this topic, would even begin to write such a ridiculously ignorant piece of crap as appeared in today’s (5/12/04) edition of A.M. Costa Rica.

To even suggest that the failure of Costa Rica and if I may add, other countries, to sign this FTA, that is in fact, being rammed down their throats or be labeled all kinds of ill deserved labels such as "terror supporting," "narco-terrorist state," will lead to all kinds of deviate, immoral and a "laid-back drug, sex and gambling paradise, kind of a Disneyland for touring adults." is totally irresponsible not to mention inaccurate. 

The fact of the matter is that some of the countries that had previously signed are now either renegotiating or totally backing out of it including some of the EU states. When they finally wake up and realize what it REALLY is all about, U.S. control of the global economy and finance, they refuse to cooperate. 

Before you blame everything on those who are not responsible for what goes on in Costa Rica, you may want to look around at your own country and its people, government, social structure, traditions and culture. My God, you can’t even build a road in less than 10 years.(San Jose-Orotina)

A.M. Costa Rica would not allow me the space to go into all that is wrong with CR, but you need to start with its people and their culture. 

What happens in the homes and streets to children and women, which I find repugnant and disgraceful, is a direct result of their culture and traditions. This is not exclusive to CR. It is endemic to all of Latin America and most 3rd world nations. So don’t blame "tourists" for problems the Tico’s have brought upon themselves. 

Don’t blame the "pensionados" for your socio-economic problems. Blame yourselves for allowing CR and its people to be exploited by their own politicians and institutions in failing to provide the people with the proper education and social benefits that a country like CR has the resources to provide, given time and proper development. 

Recent events and pending legislation in CR have done nothing but drive away the people who could most easily and willingly help this country. I, like many others, are in the process of selling/closing businesses, selling property and transferring other assets to countries that are more conducive to our needs and the security of our assets. Unlike CR, which forced the closure of many "high interest" operations, under pressure from the CR banking group and the U.S. government. Then changes the rules/laws whenever it suits them, in hopes that all these investors will go away and forfeit their assets to help offset the government’s wasteful and corrupt ways. We will be in their face forever and so will our children. We will never forget what you did to us.

Well, they got their wish. Most of us are leaving and the residual effect will devastate the Costa Rican economy for many generations to come. 

Good Luck and adios,

A. Forrester 
Herrdura, Costa Rica
She’d seek status
of refugee here

Dear A.M. Costa Rica: 

I would like to react to the article of today about so many Costa Rican natives who want a refugee status in Canada. I have to tell you I was blown away. Here is the article: 

Since 2002 about 4,290 Costa Ricans have sought refugee status in Canada and thereby created a bad image of their home country in the eyes of the world, according to Roberto Tovar Faja, the foreign minister. 

As a Canadian citizen, I would be just willing to seek for a refugee status in Costa Rica. Would that redeem the Image of your beautiful paradise ??? Please give my message to Mr. Roberto Tovar. and tell him I would not be the only one neither.

I think many native Ticos don't realize how lucky they are !!!!

Jocelyne Begin

 
Brazil criticized for pulling Times reporter's visa
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NEW YORK, N. Y.— The New York Times is questioning Brazil's commitment to a free press after the government announced it will expel one of the newspaper's correspondents. 

Tuesday, the Brazilian government announced it will expel corresondent Larry Rohter for writing a story alleging that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has a drinking problem. 

Rohter's article, published in Sunday's New York Times, said some Brazilians were concerned that President da Silva's drinking was affecting his job performance. The article caused an outcry in Brazil and brought politicians from across the political spectrum together in their denunciation of the report.

Brazil's Justice Ministry said Rohter's visa would be canceled because the story offended the honor of the president. 

The presidential office denies that da Silva has a drinking problem, and officials say he is considering legal action against the newspaper.

The newspaper's executive editor, Bill Keller, responded Wednesday by saying if Brazil intends to expel a journalist for offending the president, that would raise "serious questions" about the country's "professed commitment to freedom of expression and a free press."

However, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim 

dismissed the criticism, saying Wednesday the issue is not about press freedom but about a story he called "libelous, injurious, and false." 

Journalists react in Brazil

The Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji www.abraji.org.br) protests the absurd and unjustifiable decision, by Brazilian government, of in practice expelling the journalist Larry Rohter, from The New York Times.

Publishing a story, whatever its theme or quality may be, does not justify a violent attitude such as the one taken by the Brazilian government. This is a grave attempt against freedom of press and expression, which may only find precedent among us in the decision taken by the military dictatorship to expel in 1970 the journalist François Pelou, then director of Agency France Presse in the country.

The administration’s gesture reveals authoritarianism and incapacity to solve the issue through the adequate means. The expelling of a journalist wounds the principles granted by the Constitution and equals Brazil to nations submitted to dictatorial rule.

Created to stimulate and promote the practice of independent, investigative journalism in Brazil, ABRAJI sees in this episode a threat to all journalists — both Brazilian and foreign — and to the society as a whole.

ABRAJI’s board of directors
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Amnesty cites rights threats in Venezuela
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Human rights in Venezuela are under threat, with the Venezuelan government's response to alleged abuses in the country "slow and inadequate," says Amnesty International.

In a statement Wednesday, the human rights watchdog group said Venezuelan government security forces resorted to excessive use of force, torture and mistreatment of demonstrators during protests that took place in February and March to demand a recall vote against Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.

The actions by the security forces raise "serious questions about the commitment" of key government institutions "to prevent and punish such abuses impartially," said the organization.

The group, based in London, England, laid out its concerns in a new report called "Venezuela: Human Rights Under Threat," available online HERE!

Amnesty International said at least 14 people died in the demonstrations, and at least 200 were wounded, while other demonstrators who were detained were severely mistreated or tortured by government security forces.

Amnesty International reported that many of the demonstrators were violent, using barricades, stones, Molotov cocktails and, in some cases, firearms. 

But the organization added that the response of the security forces "frequently involved excessive use of force, contributing to spiraling violence rather than preventing or controlling it."

The group said that the failure of state institutions to carry out their duties "effectively and impartially will weaken the fragile rule of law and fuel Venezuela's political crisis," adding that the state's "lack of impartiality threatens to strengthen the culture of impunity that has accompanied human rights abuses for many years in Venezuela."


 
More arrests made in alleged Caracas plot against Hugo Chavez
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — Authorities say they have arrested at least three more people in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow President Hugo Chavez. 

Security officials say they detained the suspects Tuesday and also searched the estate of wealthy Venezuelan media magnate Gustavo Cisneros. It is unclear if the media magnate is considered a suspect. The search was part of a series of raids on farms and ranches around the capital, Caracas, over the past three days. 

Sunday, Venezuelan authorities arrested at least 80 suspected Colombian paramilitary members allegedly plotting with Venezuelan dissidents to topple President Chavez's government. 

Venezuelan opposition leaders and the Colombian paramilitary group known as AUC, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, separately denied the government allegations and have said the arrests are politically motivated. 

The opposition leaders accused the president of trying to distract attention from opposition efforts to hold a vote to recall Chavez from office. 

Venezuela's opposition this month must verify nearly one million signatures on a petition calling for a referendum on Chavez' rule. A court last month ruled that 800-thousand of the more than three million signatures collected were fraudulent. 

President Chavez survived a brief coup in 2002. The leftist leader has accused domestic opponents of trying to overthrow him.

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