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These stories were published Tuesday, June 18, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 119
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A.M. Costa Rica photo
Rogelio Ramos talks to a reporter under the watchful eye of a Sergio Gonzalez acrylic at Universidad Latina.

Police and educators
seeking child safety

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Educators, police and child welfare representatives got together Monday to discuss ways to protect Costa Rican children.

The meeting was significant because it brought these groups together in the same room. The stimulus, of course, was the death of Osvaldo Faobricio Madrigal Bravo who was found in a reservoir June 11 in Santa Ana.

The boy’s kidnapping June 4 and subsequent death has caused fear among Costa Ricans as has the statement by Jorge Rojas, director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, that a ring of child stealers is operating in the country. That statement may or may not be correct.

Rojas was not present Monday, but Rogelio Ramos Martínez, minister of 
Gobernación,  Policía y Seguridad Pública, was. So was Walter Navarro Romero, director general of the Fuerza Pública. Also attending


More on children, Page 2

was Wilfrido Blanco, vice minister of the Ministerio de Educación Pública. So was a representative of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the child welfare organization.

Each of these individuals brought their regional representatives to brainstorm. Navarro, for example, had all the regional directors of the Fuerza Pública at the session in the Universidad Latina in Lourdes de Montes de Oca.

About the only concrete decision, announced before the session, came from Ramos, who said that all school children will be photographed, presumably in case the child is missing.

Officials also presented a coloring book that presents children with a number of safety issues, some as basic as using the automobile seatbelt.

Police already had announced that they would be stationing an office at each school. And there appears to be an increase in Fuerza Pública patrols along city streets as of Monday.

There was no news Monday in the case of the dead youngster. Investigators said that an autopsy report had not yet been received, so they do not know how the boy died.  Asphyxiation is suspected, but because the body was in water, medical expertise is needed to determine the exact cause.

Twin celebrations set
for Independence Day

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. citizens will have two Independence Day celebrations to attend this year, and one will be at the beach.

The first one on July 4 will be the traditional American Colony Committee bash. That celebration only is open to U.S. citizens and their families, and those who attend must show their passport.

The event is free, and food and beverages are provided. The event will take place at the Cerveceria Costa Rica in Alajuela at the Intel Overpass, the committee said.

The picnic begins as 8 a.m. that Thursday and lasts until noon, Last year the rains started shortly thereafter. Organizers promise music, games and fun for everyone. Additional information is available at 233-3296 and a map is available on the U.S. Embassy Web site at: http://usembassy.or.cr/images/july4map.jpg

The event at the beach, in Playas del Coco, is being sponsored by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica and is being billed as a "multi-national Independence celebration." It will start at noon July 6, a Saturday. This is the first year. The event is scheduled to run until 7 p.m. A fireworks show will light up the sky about 6:15 p.m..

The admission for this event is 3,000 colons for adults ($8.40) and 2,000 colons ($5.60) for children.  In addition to the association, merchants in the area are sponsors. They include: Best Western Coco Verde Casino, Ciudad Blanca School, Escuela Instituto Bilingüe, Hotel Coco Palms, ReMax Coco, ReMax Hermosa, and Southern Cross Security.

ABC Mundanzas and Celito Lindo de Playas del Coco are joining with the association to sponsor the fireworks. Other merchants are sponsoring specific recreational events.

The specific location is described as 650 meters west of the Langostino Farm on the Playas del Coco road. Information is available at 667-0151 in Guanacaste or at the San José association office 233-8068. Tickets sold at the gate are 500 colons ($1.40) more, the organizers said.

Independence Day celebrates the approval in Philadelphia, Pa., of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 by the Second Continental Congress. With the document the British colonies in what is now the eastern United States declared they no longer were subject to the British King George III.

The declaration reflects the work of Thomas Jefferson, who later became a U.S. president.
 

It's sign of the times

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — As crime continues to rise in Brazil, the country has become the world leader in refurbishing cars with armor-plating, bullet-proof glass, and other security features.

Six years ago, there were only four companies offering the service. Today there are 49, a direct result of Brazil's growing crime wave. On average, about 400 cars a month in Brazil are customized with armor, bullet-proof glass.

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U.N. lists 17 million child slaves in Latin America
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At least 17 million children in Latin America and many millions more around the world are working in slave-like forms of forced and bonded labor, says the United Nations Children's Fund.

The organization says a new report called "A Future Without Child Labor" shows that 180 million children, ages 5 to 17, are subject to the worst forms of child labor — including prostitution, trafficking (illegal transport of human beings) and hazardous work.

The report, released by the U.N. International Labor Organization, says it is often very difficult for working children to seek help, not just because of their age, but because they have no birth certificates or official documents and are thus "invisible." In total, the report says 246 million children between 5 and 17 years old — one out of every six children in the world — are working instead of attending school.

The labor organization said the largest number (127 million) of working children age 14 and under are in the Asia-Pacific region. Some 17 million of the working children are in Latin America and the Caribbean, 48 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 13 million are in the Middle East and North Africa, it said.

The Children’s Fund called on governments around the world to move immediately and decisively to end forced child labor. 

On a related note, the U.S. State Department said in its "Trafficking in Persons Report 2002," released in early June, that an estimated 700,000 to four million people are bought, sold, transported and held in slavery-like conditions each year for sex and labor exploitation. In presenting the report, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that it represents "the resolve of the entire U.S. 

government to stop this appalling assault on the dignity of men, women and children."

Traffickers, Powell said, "prey on the most vulnerable members of our human family, violating their most basic rights, subjecting them to degradation and misery."

Moreover, trafficking "leaves no land untouched, including our own," Powell declared. "Approximately 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year. Here and abroad, the victims of trafficking toil under inhuman conditions — in brothels, sweatshops, fields and even in private homes."

Workshop will focus
on legislative response

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Alianza, the child advocacy organization, beings a four-day workshop in San José today to create a plan of action and strategies for the investigation and legal aid for victims of abuse.

The organization said that its legal aid workers from México and four Central American countries, including Costa Rica, would meet at the Hotel Villa Tournon to consider the results set out in a recent study.   The study, released last month, shows increasing levels of trafficking, prostitution, child pornography and sex tourism in the countries involved, the organization said.

The study also said that there are vast gaps in the laws in each country that make it difficult to impossible to punish violators who are involved with children.

The workshop that runs through Friday will seek to develop regional strategies to deal with the problem, said Casa Alianza.

Democrats will hear
of peace movement

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Democrats Abroad of Costa Rica will hear a presentation from Anna Sagel and Gregory Reck entitled "A Look at the Grass Roots Peace Movement Since Sept. 11th and Where Is the Movement" at its meeting Monday. 

Reck is a professor of anthropology at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. The meeting will be held at the Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Fifth Floor, with a business meeting at 11 a.m., the buffet lunch at noon and the presentation and discussion at 12:45 p.m.

For information and to make lunch reservations individuals may contact Dorothy Sagel at 249-1856 or Jerry Karl at 232-7048 no later than Thursday. Lunch is 2,500 colons ($7) for members and 3,000 colons ($8.40) for guests.

All in the community are welcome for the buffet lunch and the presentation, an announcement said.

Peruvian rioters
clash with police

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Peruvian police have clashed with rioters in the south of the country. The continuing violence was triggered by last Friday's sale of two state power generating companies. 

Officials said police in the city of Arequipa fired tear gas Monday to dispel hundreds of protesters upset by a Belgian firm's purchase of the Egasa and Egesur utilities. 

Trouble also spread to the Tacna area, where rioters smashed windows of official buildings and blocked a highway leading into neighboring Chile. Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo says the protesters have caused an estimated $100 million in damage. President Toledo made his remarks Sunday as he declared a month-long state of emergency in response to the rioting. 

The protesters say the privatizations will lead to layoffs and higher utility bills. They also say President Toledo reneged on a campaign promise not to privatize the utility companies. 

Toledo says the sales are necessary to encourage domestic and foreign investment and create economic stability. The government is hoping to raise at least $700 million to help cover budget needs.

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Pacheco plants trees
and promises more

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacecho said he is anticipating a big campaign of reforestation for Costa Rica. He said he found support in Washington, D.C., of his idea to put environmental guarantees in Costa Rica’s Constitution.

Pacheco made his comments while surrounded by rural school children in the garden of the Casa Presidential in Zapote where he planted some native trees as part of an Arbor Day celebration.

The president said that the plan for reforestation includes zones such as that in the Puriscal area where he turned a reserve into a national park a week ago. He also is looking at areas around Limón, although he is interested in other places that might welcome the initiative.

The youngsters also helped plant the trees that were provided by Vivero Forestal del Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica.

The native species were selected specifically to provide nourishment for birds. They included achiote, cabellos de ángel, guachipelín, mariquita, pitanga and cirrí, according to a list provided by Casa Presidential.

Pacheco said that he met about 80 environmentalists during his trip last week to Washington and was encouraged in his efforts to make Costa Rica the first country to put environmental protections in its constitution. 

Pacheco established this as a priority during his May 8 inaugural speech. Earlier this month, the same time he established the new national park, he signed presidential decrees with additional environmental impact.

One prohibited the transport of trees during the night hours where inspectors could not see what was happening. That was a step against illegal lumbering. 

And he also prohibited open pit gold mining, the subject of at least two controversial projects.
 

Yet another quake!

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The fourth earthquake 10 days took place about 4:43 p.m. Sunday at a point off the Pacific Coast just north of the Osa Peninsula.

This time the magnitude was set at 4.6 by the  U.S. National Earthquake Information Center. The depth again was 33 kms, about 20 miles.

A magnitude 6.2 quake took place at about the same point at 8:46 p.m. Saturday. A 4.6 magnitude earthquake took place off the Pacific coast about 11:20 p.m. Wednesday in nearly the same spot. A 4.4 magnitude quake took place nearby about 11 a.m. June 7.

The latest quake was set at 9.03 degrees north and 83.80 degrees west. That map coordinate is within a few miles of the other three quakes. The location usually is given at about 70 to 90 miles southwest of San José.


 
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