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Thgese stories were published Wednesday, June 12, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 115
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Drug agent's son is found dead at hydro site
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The boy snatched from near his home June 4 probably died a short time later because his body found Tuesday was in an advanced state of decomposition, according to investigators.

The discovery was an accident. Workmen were
Osvaldo Faobricio Madrigal Bravo
using a large crane and a skimmer to remove floating debris from in front of the Brazil hydroelectric dam west of Santa Ana. Amid the tons of floating garbage, branches and plastic parts washed down to the dam by recent heavy rains was a body.

The body was consistent with that of 4-year-old Osvaldo Faobricio Madrigal Bravo, and later dental tests 

showed that impression was correct.

The hydro dam benefits from the flow of three rivers: the Tiribí, the Torres and the María Aguilar.

The child lived in Higuito de San Miguel de Desamparados, and the Tiribí runs close to that point. The rain-swollen rivers could have carried the body from nearly anywhere in the metropolitan Area, agents said.

The dam is a collecting place for evidence of tragedies in the Central Valley, and about 20 bodies have turned up there in the last four years, one observer said.

Jorge Rojas, director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, said a preliminary examination revealed two wounds on the body that could have been caused by a knife or bullet. He also said the child’s buttocks showed signs of blows or a beating. An autopsy will show if the child was dead when it entered the water.

The father of the child is an employee of Rojas’ organization in the anti-drug unit.

"Sadly, this is the end of the search," he said. Policemen all over the Central Valley had been mobilized not long after the boy was reported missing, and the search included dogs, helicopters and hundreds of police of all types.

Rojas was contradictory on what led to the boy’s death. There is no established motive, he said.  Then he said that an organization exists in Costa Rica that robs and transports children, an international child-stealing ring.

He pointed out that Jessica Valverde Pineda, 4, who lived in Los Guidos de Desamparados, vanished in late February.

Rojas noted that two persons are in custody and have been since June 4. A man with the surname of Agüero is being investigated for having been seen with the child.  A second man, a taxi driver, with the surname Valverde also  was detained. Agents have said that Agüero took the boy and Valverde drove the pair to Pavas, which was the target of an extensive police search last week.

Rojas also said that investigators were seeking a foreign couple who are believed to have received the boy from the original kidnapper. He said that the male member of the couple resembles a man seen near young Jessica before she vanished.  Rojas would not say more about the pair, including their 
nationality. He told a reporter they were not Colombian. And they did not come from a country that was represented in the World cup soccer contest. That could be Panamá or Nicaragua

The two men in custody, if convicted of child stealing, will have the benefit of a 


Jorge Rojas
...OIJ director
light penalty in Costa Rica law. Rojas said that the minimum penalty for that crime is six months in prison and the maximum is two years.

Rojas also said that agents used for the first time Costa Rica’s new law to tap telephones because such use is authorized in cases of human trafficking.

He also revealed that in March someone suspicious was seen around the Madrigal home and that both the boy and his older brother were given stiff lectures on how to avoid strangers. The older brother told the family that Madrigal left the vicinity of the house to go with a man, later said to be Agüero, to a nearby pulpería or small store for candy.

Rojas said that the way in which kidnappers handed the boy off from one to the other suggested a disciplined organization.


 
Do parents have to worry as a result of the kidnappings?
By the A.M. Cost Rica staff

So how worried should parents be that their child may be grabbed by an international ring of kidnappers?

In the wake of the discovery of the body of the most recent kidnap victim, Water Navarro, director of the Fuerza Públic, revealed that since March his officers have been keeping a close eye on the entry and exits of students at schools.

The prepared statement did not say why police were doing this, but the operation came just a few weeks after Jessica Valderde Pineda vanished from near her home in Los Guidos de Desamparados.

Jorge Rojas, director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, conducted a free-wheeling discussion with reporters Tuesday to explain the circumstances of the death of young Osvaldo Faobricio Madrigal Bravo.

It appeared that Rojas was stressing the theory that the child was taken by traffickers in human beings. According to this theory, the boy was killed because police were too hot on the ring’s trail.


The same events fit with the theory that the child was taken because of his father’s employment as an anti-drug agent with the Judicial Investigating Organization, the revenge motive.

Rojas stressed several times the organization of a group that could pass the boy from one pair of kidnappers to another to quickly hide the lad in the underworld.

Rojas further said that investigators used taps to intercept communication, but he didn’t say whose communication.

Reporters seemed to have additional details that Rojas was unwilling to give. Clearly he did not present all the information investigators have in the case. 

Until he does, parents will be unable to intelligently evaluate the danger to their children.

Rojas did issue a strong plea for persons with information or suspicions to come forward. He noted many people are reluctant to do so, but they should put aside their anti-police feelings in favor of cooperation in cases like that of Madrigal, he said.

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Most would trade freedoms for security, poll finds
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Nearly four in five Americans are willing to give up certain freedoms to gain security, according to a  study co-sponsored by The Gallup Organization and The University of Oklahoma. The study also revealed Americans' willingness to compromise certain specific freedoms: 

Some 30 percent favor making it easier for legal authorities to access private communications such as mail, e-mail and telephone conversations. Some 71 percent favor requiring national identification cards containing fingerprint or citizenship information for all U.S. residents. Some 77 percent favor requiring smallpox vaccinations for all U.S. residents.

"The urge to strengthen government in a time of danger has been around a long time. The American people have, with important historical exceptions, done a good job of balancing individual liberties with the need to protect society," said Donald R. Hamilton, deputy director of the university’s Institute for the prevention of Terrorism.

"Some restrictions placed on individuals have been temporary and some have been permanent. The good sense of the American people about how to balance freedom and security has proven durable over the long haul." 

Nearly four in 10 Americans are very worried (8 percent) or somewhat worried (31percent) that they or a family member will become a victim of a terrorist attack in the United States. Levels of worry about future terrorist attacks in the United States are considerably higher in New York City (19 

percent very worried; 34 percent somewhat worried), compared with Washington, D.C. (9 percent very worried, 29 percent somewhat worried) and Oklahoma City (6 percent very worried, 26 percent somewhat worried). 

When asked to rate the level of stress they were currently experiencing in their lives, one in three Americans report some notable stress. Of those who acknowledged experiencing stress, 73 percent attributed most of their current stress to terrorism (33 percent directly to the Sept. 11 attacks; 10 percent to the threat of anthrax; and 30 percent to something else related to terrorism).

The telephone survey of a total of 2,519 U.S. adults conducted in April and May included oversamples of respondents in three metropolitan areas most recently affected by acts of terrorism: New York City, Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma City Metropolitan Statistical Areas. 

Gallup has been tracking the question of the public's concern about becoming a victim of terrorism for the last seven years. Not surprisingly, national levels are currently similar to those found prior to Sept. 11 with the exception of the weeks immediately following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Current worry about future terrorism appears to be more heavily based on fear of attacks using biological or chemical agents (31 percent) than on subsequent bombings (22 percent).

Some 42 percent are "personally more afraid to fly" than before Sept. 11, and 31 percent have "no confidence at all" or "not much" confidence "that the airlines that fly in this country are adequately protected from terrorist attack." 

Benefit for poor kids
to feature Mrs. Powell

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An event to raise funds for the victims of terrorism in the Americas and for the region's poor and abandoned children will be held today at the Organization of American States, where the scheduled keynote speaker is Alma Powell, wife of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The "Holding Little Hands for the Americas" event is sponsored by the Ivy Inter-American Foundation, an Ivy, Virginia-based organization founded in 1987 to help alleviate the plight of more than 40 million disadvantaged children in the Western Hemisphere. The event includes an auction to raise funds for organizations helping children, and a luncheon, with Laura Bush, wife of President Bush, serving as honorary chair. Another scheduled speaker is Ivonne A-Baki, Ecuador's ambassador to the United States.

The foundation's first such luncheon was in 1990, when then-First Lady Barbara Bush served as guest of honor. Funds raised by the luncheons have helped furnish a nursery in Ayacucho, Peru, helped a home for unwed teenage mothers in Recife, Brazil, and expanded a home for handicapped children in Planes de Renderos, El Salvador.

Foundation president Anabella Jordan said in a statement that the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States "emphasized the importance of our mission to help alleviate the suffering and raise consciousness about the plight of more than 40 million children [in the hemisphere], because helping children helps stop terrorism at its roots."

The foundation said thousands of dollars in grants will be presented to organizations that help children in the United States, Colombia, Guatemala, and Peru. In addition, the Ivy Humanitarian Prize will be awarded to Stella Cardenas, a psychotherapist, founder, and president of Renacer Foundation in Colombia, which works with sexually exploited children and adolescents.

The Ivy Inter-American Foundation's objective is to "increase awareness of the overwhelming disadvantages that so many children in the Americas face," Jordan said. "By doing so, we have cultivated a growing network of generous supporters and charities. Together, we are empowering communities throughout the Americas to nurture, educate, and help their own children build better and more prosperous lives."

Jordan added that "the lives and future of everyone across the hemisphere and across the globe are increasingly intertwined." Her organization, she said, is responding to "urgent requests for help from small groups so often overlooked by larger foundations."

 She cited success stories by her organization, such as providing critical assistance to a nutritional center in Chimaltenango, Guatemala, an orphanage in San Vicente de Paul in El Salvador, and aiding a home for disabled children in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Informal financing
next anti-terror target

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

NEW YORK, N.Y.  — The United States and its coalition partners must search out terrorist finances outside the mainstream financial systems as they enter the next phase of the fight against terrorist financing, Under Secretary of Treasury Kenneth Dam said Saturday.

Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Dam said that, in response to public designation and blockings of terrorist assets that characterized the first phase, terrorists started using informal institutions and opportunities for keeping and transferring their assets.

In the second phase, Dam said, the focus of counter-terrorist efforts needs to be on hawala networks, corrupted charitable organizations and fraudulent traders rather than on banks, and U.S. coalition partners need to play increasingly prominent roles in this campaign.

Dam emphasized that preserving the benefits of the hawala systems while preventing their abuse by terrorists, not banning them, is the right solution. It can be achieved through regulatory measures, he added.

Hawalas are unofficial, trust-based networks for moving money inexpensively across national borders. They are popular in developing countries and among certain ethnic communities in developed countries.

Preventing terrorists from using charities as a cover for supporting terrorism while ensuring the integrity of a charitable mission will be another challenge, Dam said.

He said countries are pursuing these two goals by freezing the flow of funds through organizations corrupted by terrorist supporters and increasing the transparency and oversight of other charities.

Dam said that the coalition is also making some progress in preventing terrorists from using legitimate trade as a means to funnel their money.

He said the U.S. administration is working with private sector partners on developing monitoring systems that would allow legitimate merchants to identify and report suspicious transactions.

Dam also cited both domestic and international actions aimed at improving the regulatory environment so that terrorist money will not find safe haven easily. But the Treasury official emphasized that blocking the assets of publicly designated terrorist organizations remains an important weapon in the fight against terrorism.

The United States knows, he said, that al-Qaida is having financial difficulties as a result of blocking orders freezing over $115 million in terrorist assets.

However, not enough progress has been made on other groups and people who wittingly support terrorism through charities, Dam added.

Freedom for Cuba
idea goes to Senate

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A resolution backing efforts by Cuban dissidents for a national referendum in Cuba on civil liberties has been sent to the full U.S. Senate following earlier passage of the measure by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The resolution, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, a  Democrat, of Florida expressed support for what is called the Varela Project in its collection of more than 10,000 certified signatures for the referendum on freedom of speech, electoral reform, and amnesty for political prisoners. Referendum co-sponsors are Democratic Sens. Bob Graham of Florida, Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, and Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia.

Nelson said in a statement following the Committee's passage of the resolution that the Cuban government must recognize the fundamental right to petition government and allow a referendum at the request of Cuban citizens.

Niehaus gets OAS job

Wálter Niehaus Bonilla, who last served as minister of Tourism, will be Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Organization of American Stats as of July 16, the aciting president, Lineth Saborío, announced Tuesday.

French pack bags
after dismal Cup showing

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The defending World Cup soccer champion has been eliminated from this year's competition. France lost to Denmark 2-0 Tuesday to finish with no wins, a tie and two losses. 

This is the first time since 1966 that a defending champion failed to reach the second round of the World Cup, and France set a record for futility: no wins, no goals scored, last in the group. 

Since they were defending 2000 European champions as well, their failure was not expected and has stunned the country. 

Even with the injury to their best player, Zinedine Zidane, that kept him out of the first two games and below par in the third, the French expected their team, known here as "les bleus," to advance by winning the third match. 

In most workplaces, the television sets were tuned in for the morning match. A crowd gathered to watch on a giant screen in front of city hall in Paris. But after the second Danish goal, spectators just drifted away in disbelief. One woman said, "how could they not even score one goal."

The mid-day television news began with a funereal pronouncement that "the dream in blue is dead." An instant poll on a sports Internet web page showed that two-thirds of the fans thought the team had become complacent and the coaching was poor.

Coach Roger Lemerre, who has two years to go on his contract, declined to say if he would keep his job. But there will be a shakeup of players. This is the last of the team that successfully blended players of African, Arab and French heritage and which, for many people here, symbolized not just football supremacy but also what they believe France is meant to be. 
 

Columbus DNA test
might solve mystery

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A team of Spanish researchers hopes to use DNA matching to settle the centuries-old question of where famed Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is buried.

Columbus' body was moved several times after his death and both Seville, Spain, and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic claim to be his final resting place. 

The scientists, led by Spaniard Jose Antonio Lorente Acosta, have asked officials to open both tombs so they may obtain material for testing.

By matching genetic samples from remains belonging to a known Columbus descendant, the scientists may finally determine where one of history's most famous explorers ended his journey.

Columbus had wished to be buried in the Americas, but at the time of his death in 1506 there was no suitable church to receive his remains. He was therefore first buried in Spain, then moved to Santo Domingo in 1537. His remains were thought to have been moved to Havana when Spain ceded Hispanola to France, and finally returned to Spain in 1898 at the outbreak of the Spanish-American war. 

However, in 1877 workers in Santo Domingo's cathedral found a box inscribed Cristobal Colón containing bones and fragments. Columbus is known in the Hispanic world as Cristobal Colón. 
 

Missing money probe
begins in Colombia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — Authorities say they are investigating 60 police officers in connection with the disappearance of $2 million in U.S. aid meant for the war on drugs. 

Officials Tuesday said they had opened what they called a "disciplinary investigation" into presumed irregularities in the way the money was handled and spent. Officers under investigation include Gen. Gustavo Socha, who resigned last month as chief of Colombia's anti-narcotics police. The coordinator of presidential security, Maj. Henry Ray Castaneda is on the list as well. 

Last month, the United States partially suspended aid for Colombia's war on drugs because of the scandal. Reports say the money had been diverted from an administrative account used by Colombian anti-narcotics police. 

Over the past two years, the United States has contributed at least $1.3 billion for Plan Colombia, a U.S. backed initiative to help the South American country fight the illegal drug trade. 

Although U.S. aid to Colombia is restricted to counter-narcotics efforts, the White House has been urging the U.S. Congress to lift legal barriers that prevent Colombia from using the aid to also fight leftist rebels. 

Some U.S. lawmakers fear this could lead to greater U.S. involvement in Colombia's 38-year civil war. 
 

IMF and Agentina
agree to meet again

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Argentina have reached agreement Tuesday on a new round of talks on the emergency aid package to the Latin American nation. 

IMF spokeman Francisco Baker brought the good news to the Argentine government following several rounds of discussions between the country's Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna and IMF officials. 

Barker said the advance team of IMF negotiators would arrive in Buenos Aires Thursday to begin the negotiations. This will be the first time in nearly two months the two parties have met. 

The last round of talks with the IMF stalled when the IMF officials told Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde his government needed to cut spending and pass legal reforms before it would receive any aid. 

Lavagna said there has been enough progress in his country to push talks with the IMF into what he called an "advanced stage". 
 

Bolivian president
presses for trade pact

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — "No country has done more in the fight against drugs over the last four to five years than Bolivia," says Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga.

Since 1997, Bolivia has eradicated 90 percent of its coca plantations and dramatically reduced illicit drug production, he said. However, if these accomplishments are to be consolidated, Quiroga warned, it is essential to provide greater market access for products developed as an alternative to coca and to create jobs for workers displaced by coca eradication.

In an appearance Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, Quiroga argued that access to markets for Bolivia's almost 300,000 acres (over 110,000 hectares) in alternative-development products "is fundamental and key." He added that without this access, "it defeats the possibility of making sure that [Bolivia] can completely pull out of drug production."

 Given the necessity of ensuring markets for its alternative-development products, Quiroga said he "cannot overemphasize" the importance of renewing and expanding the Andean Trade Preference Act.

Enacted in December 1991, the Trade Preference Act granted various Andean products preferential access to the U.S. market until the legislation's expiration last December. Afterwards, President Bush extended the act’s provisions for a 90-day period. 

On April 27, Bush called upon the U.S. Congress to renew the act, saying that the initiative has created 140,000 jobs in the Andean region and helps "provide an economic alternative to the production of drugs." However, ATPA renewal and the expansion of the agreement to include additional products remains pending before Congress.
 


 
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