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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 109
Jo Stuart
About us
Costa Rica rolls over China in World Cup match
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica beat the People Republic of China, 2-0, early today in a World Cup match played in Gwangju, Korea.

After a scoreless first half in which the teams appeared to be evenly matched, Ronald Gomez drilled in a goal about 16 minutes into the second period. Three minutes later Mauricio Wright headed in a Gomez kick from in front of the Chinese goal, and it was pretty much over.

The game, which started at 12:30 a.m. Costa Rican time, marked China's debut in the World Cup. The match fell on the anniversary of the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing.   Police posted 3,000 officers inside the stadium, and the same number outside. However, no protests were visible to the television audience.

China was one of the lowest ranked teams at the World Cup contest, and it took the team 44 

years to make the cut.  Coach Bora Milutinovic, 
a Serb who also coached the Costa Rican and United States teams in the past, is getting the credit for steering China into the international event. 

The United States faces Portugal in another Group C match tomorrow at 6 p.m. Korean time, also early Costa Rican time. Costa Rica faces Turkey Sunday, also early in the morning. 

The game was viewed in Costa Rica at private clubs, some bars and in homes. A few yells could be heard in residential areas when goals or near-goals took place. But there was not the general automobile horn honking that usually characterized a win by the national team.

Although the statistics show that the time of possession of the ball was about equal, China seemed to collapse after seeing two goals scored against it in just a few minutes. The Costa Rican team appeared to grow stronger and more aggressive.

She's seeking to help without the tangles of bureaucracy 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Alicia López López wants to help San José’s street children. But there is a little problem. She is unhappy with bureaucracy, and that puts her out of step with the Costa Rican top-down social welfare system.

So now she is determined to go it alone outside the vast network that includes the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia and other government agencies.

Until Thursday Ms. López, a 47-year-old former nun, was director of Club de Paz, a center for street children housed in a warehouse-like, three story structure on Avenida 10 just four blocks south of the downtown.

Some 35 to 40 street youngsters are housed in the center. And the financial problems were made worse because the La Contraloría General de la República refused to approve a contract that would have provided the money necessary to run the center. 

Ms. López was fighting for the contract’s approval, and for once someone in the child services area was not blaming the Patronato, the agency that funnels government money to the various centers. Her ire was reserved for 
the Contraloría, which must approve every public contract in Costa Rica.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Alicia López López
By late last week most of the staff had left because they had not been paid in four months. Then Ms. López got her walking papers, perhaps because she was pushing too hard.

As she reflected on her future over coffee Monday she was emphatic in her desire to organize another center for youngsters but do it her way.

"For me it is not just a job, it is a mission," she said. She should know about missions.

For 25 years she was a member of the Hermanas de los Pobres de San Pedro Claver, an order of nuns with roots in Colombia. She spent five years in the Ivory Coast and other world problem areas. But she said that in four months of working with street children in Costa Rica she has seen a side of life harder than even in Africa:

A number of the street children have tuberculosis or venereal diseases. In all, about 200 youngsters are hardcore street children who do not take advantage except for brief periods of the facilities available for them at the many shelters like Club de Paz. 

Naturally many are involved in bands of so-called "chapulines," the youngsters who band together to rob and steal.

For every youngster who sleeps over night in a shelter, Ms. López said she believes that she has prevented at least one robbery or assault.

She is not a wide-eyed do-gooder. She herself, all 120 pounds, was assaulted twice at the center. Once she barely avoided being run through by a knife. 

A second time an older teen punched her square in the mouth because she would not let him enter the center. She still has a loose tooth, but the lad is now a friend, she said.

In her religious life, she was singled out by the church for four years of theological training at the Vatican. Internal conflicts over faith made her leave her order. She speaks at least four languages, and her formal training is as a primary teacher.

But now she does not have much. Her bank account has been depleted by informal donations to the center and months without pay. So she is on the move looking to generate the financial and political support necessary to set up a shelter independent of the ebbs and flows of Costa Rican politics.

If anyone has any good ideas, Alicia López López may be reached at noe@cool.co.cr or Apartado 200 in Moravia.

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FBI is not real fond of citizen or any oversight
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The hardest audience to which I ever delivered a speech was a large hotel dining room full of former and present FBI agents. My topic was open access to public records. Someone had made the mistake that these frowning faces were interested in that topic.

About half way through the talk (which had been well received elsewhere) I was tempted to shout: "You’ll never take me alive, G-men."  Or "Is this the end of Ricco?"

But I didn’t. I slowly died in front of 300 grim faces that included the Oklahoma City special agent in charge, who was then dealing with a guy named Timothy McVey, and the whole McVey prosecution team.

I later learned that the last lecture an FBI agent hears before leaving the academy was about how never to talk to the public or press. That is the most certain way to end a career.

I also learned that my host, who spent a number of years investigating and trailing Soviet spies did not speak Russian.

All these experiences come together as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the FBI are seeking strong powers to investigate "terrorism."  And it is hard not to conclude that because the bureau avoided public scrutiny for years it created a dysfunctional culture that affects its crime-fighting abilities. That culture may not have caused the bureau to miss terrorism clues before Sept. 11, but it didn’t help.

As President Abel Pacheco and other world leaders are stressing more and more "transparency" in 

public dealings, it is ironic that the United States is becoming less and less transparent.

Two of my former students sought positions with the FBI. Neither got to first base. They should have.

The first was a Vietnamese-American criminal justice graduate fluent in Vietnamese and French as well as her native English.  She had good grades. After she submitted an application and heard nothing for several months, I personally interceded
Motto can be 'Say nothing'
and called the Denver-area FBI personnel officer. She reaffirmed that the bureau was interested in speakers of foreign languages and urged me to encourage the young lady to reapply. She did. She never even got a reply.

A second student, in a more recent episode, spoke Arabic and Farsi, the language of much of Iran and the language of her parents. After Sept. 11 I encouraged her to apply to the FBI because the bureau was seeking speakers of those languages as translators.

She did and after a long wait she was told that in order to work at a relatively low-paying job she would have to renounced her Iranian dual citizenship. She told them to buzz off.

I wonder if the FBI ever will need any speakers of Vietnamese or Arabic or Farsi? The only redeeming fact about the FBI is that it probably is not as inept as the CIA, but that is another story.

New system specifies
status for orphans

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHIGNTON, D.C. — James Ziglar, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner, said his agency is working on improving the U.S. international adoption process. He spoke to the House Committee on International Relations after recent attention to possible cases of child buying/human trafficking in the adoption of orphans in Southeast Asia.

Ziglar said an INS Adoptions Task Force is setting up a system whereby officials would first determine if a child is eligible for INS orphan status.

"Some American prospective adoptive parents have experienced the heartbreaking situation in which they have traveled abroad and adopted a child, only to discover that the child does not meet the orphan definition and cannot immediately immigrate to the United States," said Zigar.

Ziglar said INS officials "are in the process of developing this process with the Department of State," and he had no details on how the initiative will be implemented.

Anti-terrorism treaty
welcomed by ministers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Foreign ministers from the Organization of American States have adopted an anti-terrorism treaty negotiated after the Sept. 11th attacks in the United States. 

The Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, adopted Monday, commits OAS members to share intelligence on terrorist groups, freeze terrorists' assets and cooperate in the prosecution of terrorist suspects. 

Parties to the agreement must also deny asylum or refugee status to suspected terrorists as well as strengthen border controls. 

Attending the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell praised the accord as the first new international treaty since Sept.11 making it easier to combat terrorism. He also said the nations of the Americas are united in their resolve to fight terrorism and defend democracy. 

Some 30 countries in the 34-member organization signed the accord. The other four, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and the Dominican Republic, said they need more time to first fulfill legal requirements called for in the treaty. Communist-ruled Cuba is excluded from the organization. 

Powell applauded improved inter-American cooperation in intelligence sharing and other areas since Sept. 11. He also lauded the launch of a review of hemispheric "security architecture" and challenged the OAS to enhance the common security of its member nations by developing an "inter-American declaration on hemispheric security" that would "identify, prevent, and remedy potential threats."

Identifying democracy as the foundation for hemispheric security, Powell outlined the commitment of the OAS to strengthen democratic institutions in Venezuela and Haiti.

Powell emphasized that free trade and economic development remain guiding principles for fostering growth and prosperity in the hemisphere. He cited the importance of establishing a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Faulty valve replaced
for shuttle liftoff

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

KENNEDY SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, Fla. — Workers have replaced a faulty gaseous nitrogen regulator valve in Space Shuttle Endeavour's left Orbital Maneuvering System pod. They were performing leak checks. 

The faulty valve led shuttle managers on Sunday to delay the shuttle’s launch until Wednesday. Endeavour is scheduled to lift off between 2 and 6 Costa Rican time.

Aboard will be Frank Chang Diaz, a plasma physcist who was born in San José.

The chance of acceptable weather at launch is at 60 percent, with the main concerns being anvil clouds and thunderstorms in the vicinity.

This flight is the 14th shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station. Endeavour will carry the Expedition Five crew to the station and return the Expedition Four crew to Earth. Also, riding in Endeavour is the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, which contains science equipment and supplies for the station. 

Speculation crackdown
promised in Argentina

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The government warns it will crack down on currency speculators who, it says, are undermining economic recovery. The government warning comes as Argentina moves closer to meeting the demands by the International Monetary Fund for obtaining a new loan. 

Argentine Cabinet Chief Alfredo Atanasov says currency speculation threatens to derail the progress made by the government in attempting to stabilize the country's tattered economy. Speaking to reporters Monday, Atanasov said the government will take action against currency speculators. 

"We are going to act very firmly against those who are speculating on the rise of the dollar, and against those who are not liquidating their hard currency earnings," He said. The Argentine official added that the warning is not aimed at individuals who are trading pesos for dollars, but against major exporters who are delaying exchanging their dollar earnings in the hope of getting a more favorable rate later. 

The Argentine peso has lost more than 70 percent of its value against the dollar since it was devalued in January. Prior to the devaluation, the peso had been pegged one-to-one to the dollar for 10 years. 

Atanasov also says Argentina has made good progress in meeting the conditions imposed by the International Monetary Fund for obtaining a new loan. Last week, the Argentine Senate repealed an economic measure from the 1970s, which the IMF had opposed. 

Also, most of Argentina's provinces have agreed to slash spending as required by the IMF, and Atanasov says he expects the others to follow suit. Overspending by the provinces, which the federal government was obliged to cover, is seen as one of the main reasons Argentina was forced to default on its debts. 

In another development key to winning IMF approval, the government Saturday unveiled a plan to phase out over time an unpopular freeze on citizens' bank deposits. The plan offers depositors the choice to convert their frozen money into bonds that mature between three and ten years. 

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