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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 6, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 111
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Puriscal getting a new, unique national park
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco created a new national park Wednesday, cracked down on illegal lumbering operations and decreed a moratorium on operating open pit gold mines.

In oral comments, he told a World Environment Day gathering that much of the environmental damage in Costa Rica has been caused by corruption and complacency.

In a flurry of signing and speech-making at Casa Presidential, Pacheco basically did what he said he would do in his inaugural address. With him was Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Echandi, minister of ambiente y energia, the environmental agency.

Rodríguez said in a speech in San Carlos in early May that he opposed the open pit gold mining plan of Industrias Infinito S.A. and its parent firm, Vannessa Ventures. That project is located near the San Juan River in northern Costa Rica.

The new national park, the country’s 28th, is the former Zona Protectora La Cangreja near Puriscal. It has been a protected zone since 1984. The mountainous 1,861 hectares, some 4,600 acres, has been a project of Fundación Ecotrópico, which has been buying land and promoting the area since 1988. Puriscal is about 25 miles west of San José and west of Ciudad Colón.

Pacheco noted that the new park is an important water source for nearby towns and is home to a number of endangered plant species, including trees, as well as some seen nowhere else.

The president moved against illegal lumbering by decreeing that tree logs can only be transported in Costa Rica from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. He also ordered a tagging and permission system that requires loggers to tag each log and be able to show from where it came.

The decree sets up fixed and mobile points of control run by the environmental ministry and the Ministerio de Seguridad Publica to check up on the lumber transports.

Police will be able to confiscate for investigation lumber and trucks moving during the night or without permission. The decree said that a study showed that 34 percent of commercial lumbering in Costa Rica came from illegal operations.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
President Pacheco signs the Cangreja decree under the eyes of Carlos Manuel Rodríguez Echandi and a woman aide.
 

Under the decree, lumbering operations would have to apply for a new transport permit every month. 

The open-pit-mining decree clearly was aimed at Vannessa, which would use cyanide to leach gold from truckloads of rocks. Some opponents fear that the nearby San Juan River would be polluted by the process. 

Rodríguez said in comments that the moratorium, which is indefinite, was established because his agency and Costa Rica do not have the technicians to evaluate such projects. He said the same thing about drilling for oil off the Caribbean coast near Limón. The oil project was shelved by the Sala IV Supreme Court due to constitutional concerns about the enabling legislation. 

As if anticipating a legal challenge from Industrias Infinito, the presidential decree said the government has the responsibility to evaluate the social, economic and environmental benefits of mining.

In an upbeat press release two weeks ago Vannessa said that rising gold prices made its project feasible and that it had acquired financial support for the operation. It estimated that 1.9 million ounces of recoverable gold were in the project area. That’s about $650 million.

The nearby towns involved are Moravia, Chamorro, Llano Verde, Crucitas and Jocote, as well as the regional center of San Carlos. The project is named after Crucitas.

The presidential decrees take effect when they are published in the official gazette.

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Frank Chang to greet Pacheco from space

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Frank Chang Diaz will have a little chat with Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco this morning.

Costa Rica’s man in space finally got off the ground Wednesday, his shuttle’s fiery tail casting a pink glow on cirrus clouds and water below at the Kennedy Space Flight Center in Florida. He tied a record for going into space seven times.

The craft, Endeavour, lifted off at 3:23 p.m. San José time en route to the International Space Station. In San José shoppers watched the event on big-screen televisions downtown.

Chang went through high school in San José before moving to the United States where he got a plasma physics Ph.D. from Harvard University. His mother still lives in Escazú.

About a half-hour after the launch, the Expedition 4 crew on board the Station was notified that Endeavour was on its way. Endeavour is slated to dock with the International Space Station Friday afternoon.

The STS-111 crew will wake up at 5:23 a.m. San José time today to begin their first full day in orbit. Chang talks with the president about 10:48 a.m., according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy.

With the liftoff Endeavour began a complex mission to continue the assembly and maintenance of the International Space Station and bring a new trio of residents to the orbital outpost. 

In addition to Chang, aboard Endeavour are Commander Ken Cockrell, Pilot Paul Lockhart, Mission Specialists Philippe Perrin of the French Space Agency, CNES, along with Expedition 5 Commander Valery Korzun and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Sergei Treschev. As Endeavour launched from Florida, the space station orbited 240 statute miles over the southern Indian Ocean west of Perth, Australia.

Aboard the ISS, Expedition 4 Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch are wrapping up their 182nd day in space, their 180th day on the station. Walz and Bursch will break the U.S. record for the longest single space 

NASA photo
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flight — 188 days — set by astronaut Shannon Lucid in 1996. Another record was equaled today as Chang Diaz became only the second human to fly in space seven times, tying a mark set in April by Jerry Ross on the STS-110 mission. 

Less than nine minutes after launch, Endeavour and its crew members settled into orbit and work began to prepare the shuttle for its planned 12-day mission. 

Endeavour is scheduled to dock at the station Friday afternoon, setting the stage for the handover between the Expedition 4 and Expedition 5 station crews. 

Three spacewalks are scheduled during the mission by Chang and Perrin. The first two will help install and activate the Mobile Base System, a platform that will be mated to the Mobile Transporter on the S-Zero (S0) Truss. The new platform will allow the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to "walk off" the Destiny Laboratory onto the Mobile Base System so it can be transported up and down the length of the ISS for future assembly tasks.

 On the third spacewalk, Chang and Perrin will replace a faulty wrist roll joint on the station’s robotic arm that has experienced an electrical problem in one of its two data and power channels.

Controversial plan would fingerprint visitors to U.S.
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Bush Administration officials announced a controversial plan Wednesday that would require tens of thousands of foreigners visiting the United States to register with the government and be photographed and fingerprinted. The plan is already drawing fire from civil liberties activists and Arab-American groups who fear that Muslims and Middle Easterners will be most affected. 

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the new guidelines at a news conference here. They are intended to help the government track up to 100,000 visitors who come to the United States each year as tourists, students and workers.

Ashcroft says the new guidelines are intended to help monitor those visitors who represent what he calls "elevated national security concern" who intend to stay in the United States for more than 30 days. 

"The first component of the system is fingerprinting and photographing at the border," he said. "It is critically important that we stop known or suspected terrorists from entering the country. Fingerprints are essential to that enterprise."

The fingerprints will be put through a database of known terrorists and criminals to see if there is a match.

The attorney general says those individuals considered a security risk will also have to report to immigration authorities within 30 days to register and repeat the process at least once a year.

It is expected that the new entry guidelines will have the most significant impact on Muslims and visitors from the Middle East, especially young men.

But Attorney General Ashcroft declined to be specific about which countries will get the most scrutiny when pressed by reporters. "No country is totally exempt, and no country, except those countries that are listed on the [list] of state sponsors of terrorism, has a universal imposition [of being checked]," he said. Civil liberties groups and Arab-American organizations were quick to condemn the new guidelines. The American Civil Liberties Union called the new practice discriminatory and ineffective.

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations also opposes the new procedures. "It sends a racist message to Muslim and Arab countries and Muslim and Arab people who live in the United States who are law-abiding visitors and non-green card holders," said Nihad Awad, the group's Executive Director. 

Attorney General Ashcroft says the new entry and exit guidelines are based on immigration laws from the 1950s that have been largely ignored in recent years.


 
Abducted boy still
has not been found

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There has been no sign of the missing 3-year old believed kidnapped Tuesday.

Acting on a tip, police descended on a part of Pavas known as Metrópolis 3, but they found nothing.

Missing is Osvaldo Madrigal Obando, who lived with his family in Higuito de Desamparados where the crime took place. The boy’s father is an undercover agent for the Judicial Investigating Organization, and officials declined to release identification information Tuesday. But most Spanish-language newspapers published the boy’s name Wednesday.

Two persons, a man and a woman, have been detained for questioning in the case, but police have been unable to get any information that would lead them to the boy. The man was identified Tuesday with the last name of Agüero.

The speed with which the boy vanished suggests that other persons were involved. 

The boy and an older brother were playing near their home when a man who agents said works in the neighborhood invited them to walk to a nearby pulpería for candy. The older boy went into the house to get permission from his mother. The younger boy, Osvaldo, is believe to have gone with the man.

The mother began a frantic search soon after. The boy was seen at the pulpería, a little store, but the trail ends there. The abduction took place about 11 a.m., investigators said.
 

New Peace Corps chief
formalizes PANI link

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Peace Corps has a new director in Costa Rica.  And he was busy Wednesday morning formalizing an agreement with Costa Rica’s child protection agency.

The agreement continues a project that put 14 Peace Corps volunteers in homes all over the country with the goal of working with high risk youngsters.

The new director is James Donald Criste, who had 
been deputy country director in Ecuador for three years. He said he has been here five weeks.

The child protection agency is the Patronato de la Infancia which soon may be moved to ministry status by President Abel Pacheco. The agency was represented Wednesday by Rosalía Gil, executive president, who also is new in the post.

Criste
Under terms of the cooperative agreement, the work with the Patronato, the only Peace Corp project in Costa Rica, will be expanded by at least 15 more volunteers, according to a bulletin.
 

Chop shop in Pavas
Yields stolen vehicles

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators raided two so-called chop shops in Pavas Wednesday where stolen cars are dismantled and sold for parts.

Agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization and Fuerza Pública conducted the raids. They reported they found 35 vehicles, 12 of which were confirmed as having been reported stolen.

The two agencies worked together for three months to develop the case against the hidden auto locations, they said in a statement.

Some of the vehicles had been reported stolen in Grecia and Heredia. Police also found a chassis and a motor.

No arrests have been made, agents said.
 

89 nations evaluated
in trafficking report

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of State issued a congressionally mandated report June 5 evaluating 89 nations in their efforts to control human trafficking, a "modern form of slavery" and an "unconscionable crime," according to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who explained the findings to reporters.

The Trafficking in Persons Report 2002 "represents the resolve of the entire United States government to stop this appalling assault on the dignity of men, women and children," said Powell. The study estimates that between 700,000 and four million people fall victim to the deception, coercion and fraud that are the hallmarks of trafficking, even while acknowledging that the collection of data on such a covert activity is difficult.

Powell said the survey is achieving the goal that Congress outlined with passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000: encouraging nations to adopt more aggressive policies toward trafficking.

"In the year since the last report I am pleased to announce that South Korea by the standards of the report has made great strides in improving its record," Powell said. "Romania and Israel have also worked with us to significantly strengthen their anti-trafficking efforts."

The TIP report categorizes nations in one of three tiers. The first tier, the most favorable ranking, is made up of nations that have met the minimum standards outlined in the law for the elimination of trafficking. The State Department analysis concludes that these Tier 1 nations are clamping down on human trafficking by prosecuting perpetrators, protecting victims and educating the public about this activity, which has been described as one of the most rapidly expanding criminal enterprises in the world.

Tier 2 comprises those nations that have not met the minimum standards set by law but are making progress toward them. The third tier is reserved for those nations that don't meet the standards and have not been able to make significant efforts to do so.

When the law reaches its third year of implementation in 2003, it calls for sanctions to be imposed on nations that remain in the Tier 3 ranking and are not taking action against trafficking. 

Albania, the Czech Republic, France, Gabon, Israel, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, South Korea, Romania, and Yugoslavia are all nations that have progressed in their anti-trafficking efforts over the last year.

U.S. team handles
Portugal easily, 3-2

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. soccer team upset Portugal, 3-2, in its opening Group D match in South Korea. 

With two of the top players — midfielder and playmaking captain Claudio Reyna and forward Clint Mathis sidelined with injuries — U.S. coach Bruce Arena started five defenders and only one forward.

But the Americans did not lay back. In fact, they got on the scoreboard in just the fourth minute, as the lone forward, Brian McBride, headed a corner kick that bounced off the goalie to midfielder John O'Brien who kicked it in. 

"I was thinking goal. I saw so much of the back of the net at that point," he said. "The ball was bouncing in front of me and I was looking at the back of the net and I didn't think there was any way I could miss that one."

After having his fourth minute header blocked, McBride was not denied later, scoring on a diving header off a high cross from defender Tony Sanneh that put the USA up 3-0.

"It was just a situation where Tony got free out wide. And I took a step to the near post, got free and he served an incredible ball in, and all I had to do was nod it in. It was just an incredible ball (crossing pass)," he said. 

Earlier, the Americans' second tally was a goal off Portuguese defender Jorge Costa.

Beto scored for Portugal six minutes before the half to cut the U.S. lead to 3-1. An accidental goal by U.S. defender Jeff Agoos came midway through the second half, and that concluded the scoring.

Bruce Arena was asked afterward if the Americans' 3-2 victory over Portugal was their best since he's been head coach.

"You know, we've played a lot of good teams in the world over the last four years and beat good teams. We've beaten Germany a couple times, we've beaten Argentina. We've played great teams like Germany in Germany, Italy in Italy, Ireland in Ireland. So this isn't the first time our players have been in a big game," said Arena. "We have a lot of experience. We trained very well for this game and had a lot of confidence when we came into this game. And really, we played to win the game, not just to participate."

While the U.S. Soccer team celebrated its 3-2 upset victory, losing Portuguese coach Antonio Oliveira, speaking through an interpreter, was left wondering what went wrong.

"We had some chances to score that for one reason or the other the ball didn't go into the goal. I have to compliment all my players. They did 100 percent of what they could do tonight," he said. "I also have to compliment the team of the United States. They performed very well. They did a job. And we still have now two matches to play. We are going to let the team recover physically and psychologically and look ahead to the next two matches."

Portugal will next take on Poland, which lost its opener Tuesday to World Cup co-host South Korea. The United States will play South Korea. Those matches are on Monday. 
 

War drives Colombians
from their villages

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

GENEVA, Switzerland — More people in Colombia are leaving their homes because of the country's mounting violence and worsening economy, a U.N. agency said, adding that  children and women are the main victims. 

The agency, UNICEF, said living conditions have long been bad in Colombia, but they have gotten even worse recently. Agency officials have said in the last two years, 350,000 people, most of them women and children in rural areas, have been forced from their homes. 

In remarks to reporters in Geneva, Manuel Manrique, UNICEF's chief officer in Colombia, said most of the displaced end up in major urban centers, where life is usually even harder for them. 

"When these displaced populations come to the city, they arrive in even worse conditions because it is difficult to get schooling, difficult to get housing, difficult to get health care or any of the basic services. The government is in no condition to take care of their needs," he said. 

Manrique said the poor living conditions make Colombia's young people vulnerable to offers from guerrilla or paramilitary groups. He said they are often willing recruits because they want to escape the grinding poverty of their lives. 

"In some cases the group offers money in exchange or in many others perhaps the fact that children who have no opportunity at all in their lives, they prefer to go to these groups, especially in the case of boys because of the attraction of having a uniform and using a gun or participating in exciting things, supposedly, according to them," he said. 

Manrique said UNICEF is doing all it can to help Colombia's thousands of displaced people live better lives, but he acknowledges the country's needs are too great for any one aid agency to make a significant dent.
 

Missing TV journalist
being sought in Brazil

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — The case of a missing Brazilian journalist is arousing concern among domestic and international press watchdog organizations. The reporter, a respected television journalist, disappeared Sunday while investigating drug trafficking activities in a slum here. 

Brazilian police continue to investigate the disappearance of 50-year-old Tim Lopes, a reporter with the Globo television network. Lopes disappeared Sunday while working undercover investigating drug trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. 

Police are looking into accounts by slum residents that he was seized by members of a drug gang, and then murdered on orders of a drug lord. 

Lopes' disappearance has aroused concern among local and international press organizations. The Brazilian Press Association and the National Association of Newspapers have called for a thorough investigation, while also protesting the state of insecurity in Rio caused by drug-related violence. 

Lopes was a veteran investigative journalist who often went undercover. He once disguised himself as a beggar and spent two days living with street children. Another time he pretended to be a cocaine addict, and spent two months in a drug clinic. 

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