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U.S.-sponsored police academy needs deputies' OK
A new international law enforcement academy proposed for San José by U.S. officials will need the approval of the Costa Rican National Assembly.
Meanwhile, Costa Rican officials are trying to distance this proposal from any confusion with the School of the Americas, a military training center criticized for promoting repressive tactics.
The academy would be located in San José with the purpose of training police officers throughout the Americas to handle transnational crime issues, such as drug trafficking, money laundering, sexual exploitation of children, and violence against women, according to a U.S. State Department announcement.
The agreement was signed June 6 by John Danilovich, the current U.S. ambassador, and Costa Rican Public Security Minister Rogelio Ramos. Officials noted that the concept must first be approved by deputies before it goes into effect.
The school would be run by the U.S. State, Treasury and Justice Departments, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The San Jose school would be the fifth such U.S.-run academy in existence. Other academies are in Budapest, Hungary; Bangkok, Thailand; Gaborone, Botswana; and Roswell, N. M.
Paul Kelly, assistant secretary in the State Department's Bureau of Legislature Affairs, said in a letter delivered to a U.S. congressional hearing last April that such institutions are considered "key elements in the international response to drug trafficking and other criminal activity."
"Now more than ever, the academies will play a significant global role in combating not only criminality, but the terrorist elements who often use criminal enterprise to accomplish their goals," Kelly said.
The Costa Rican academy will offer two-week or five-week programs, with countries from the Caribbean and Central and South America participating.
The academy's director and deputy director would be U.S. employees, the staff Costa Ricans, and the instructors professionals from the entire region.
If and when the Costa Rican assembly approves the academy, a series of conferences would be held with representatives from all participating countries to discuss the school's curriculum. One subject that might be taught is environmental policing, which includes preventing trafficking in endangered bio-species and ensuring that laws regulating logging of the region's forests are enforced, said the U.S. State Department.
The five-week course is aimed at high-level police, prosecutors, and judges, while the two-week course would consist of seminars dealing in specific law enforcement problems such as child prostitution, the State Department said.
The U.S. began setting up such academies after the fall of the Soviet Union to combat a sudden surge in
|transnational crime. The first academy
was set up in Budapest.
Legislation establishing the international academy program was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in 1994, with the understanding that costs for establishing and managing the academies would be shared by the United States and the host nation.
Danilovich said in remarks at the June 6 signing ceremony that the school
will work as a training resource for all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The selection of Costa Rica as the Latin American headquarters recognizes the country's record as a stable democracy, promoter of the rule of law, and regional model in education, he said.
The United States, Danilovich said, believes the academy will strengthen regional and international cooperation and will be a "fundamental tool" for providing professional training to those who "day after day struggle to eradicate illegal drug trafficking and organized crime."
Jaime Daremblum, Costa Rica's ambassador to the United States, said in an interview that he is not concerned that his countrymen might confuse the purpose of the law enforcement academy with the U.S. Army School of the Americas.
The new school, he said, is a law enforcement academy, not a military academy like the School of the Americas. Over the years, the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., has been the subject of heated debate in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere for allegedly training Latin American and Caribbean military personnel in acts of torture and other human rights violations against their own people. Officials from the school have repeatedly denied such charges.
Daremblum emphasized that the academy in Costa Rica is "strictly civilian."
"Above all, Costa Rica has a very strong tradition of civilian rule," Daremblum said. Costa Rica has not had an army since 1948 and "we want to keep it that way," he added. "But we are aware that there are new challenges for law enforcement, like narco-terrorism, and sexual exploitation of children via the Internet. I'm not only talking about the police, we're talking about prosecutors, judges, etc. These people are not prepared" to face the new challenges, "so we have to prepare them."
Daremblum said the academy will have a "very strong" human rights component. Costa Rica, he pointed out, is the headquarters for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The proposed school will emphasize human rights and democracy, he said.
The academy proposal will be submitted to the National Assembly "very soon," Daremblum predicted. "But in the same way you cannot assure me of any bill being passed by the U.S. Congress, I cannot assure you of any bill [being approved] in my congress," he said.
WASHINGTON, D.C. ó The Senate Finance Committee has approved legislation that seeks to stop U.S. companies from switching their headquarters addresses to low-tax countries to avoid U.S. corporate taxes.
The measure, passed Tuesday by voice vote, would eliminate a provision of the tax code that permits U.S. companies to reincorporate in foreign jurisdictions but otherwise continue operating as usual within the United States.
Current law "lets a corporation, with nothing more than a file folder or post office box in a tax haven country, escape millions in U.S. taxes," according to Committee Chairman Max Baucus. He is a Democrat from the state of Montana who co-sponsored the bill along with the committee's ranking Republican, Charles Grassley of Iowa.
If passed into law, the measure would classify a U.S. firm as domestic and subject to U.S. taxes if its original shareholders own 80 percent of the company after the move.
In a statement issued during an earlier hearing on the bill, Grassley underlined the difference between relocating a firm and simply re-incorporating overseas. "There is a world of difference between a U.S. company operating in a low-tax country for a valid business reason and a phony tax haven headquarters," he said June 13.
|The tax haven measure is part of
a legislative package that also includes a provision requiring firms to
provide the government with more detailed reporting on their use of tax
shelters, and another provision approving new tax incentives for charitable
The Finance Committee bill faces potential opposition by the Bush Administration and some members of Congress who have suggested that changes in U.S. corporate income taxes are a more appropriate way to keep firms from relocating overseas.
A separate bill that also aims to discourage the use of foreign tax havens has been introduced in the House of Representatives; the Ways and Means Committee could vote on that measure by August.
The United States collects taxes from citizens and domestic corporations no matter where the income was earned.
By reincorporating in a place like The Bahamas, a former U.S. corporation can avoid paying taxes on that income generated from operations outside the United States.
Of course, shareholders who receive quarterly dividends from the firmís profits have to pay taxes based on where they live. Some administration officials have criticized this double taxation of corporate profits and seek to eliminate corporate tax altogether.
as democratic force
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
WASHINGTON, D.C. ó To encourage the growth of vibrant, democratic societies in well-governed nations throughout the world, the United States needs to work with business corporations as new partners, says Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner.
Craner, head of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said Tuesday that an increasing number of corporations appreciate that countries that respect human rights "have more open and transparent laws and financial systems, less corruption, a better-educated work force, more stability and more security."
As the leading employers and revenue source in many developing countries that are moving toward democracy, "companies are uniquely placed to lead by example where they operate," Craner told the National Policy Association, an organization of business and labor leaders, academics and non-governmental organizations
"And the good news here," he said, "is that many companies are leading by example. Corporate responsibility has moved, in the past 20 years, from a theory to a more common practice."
There is a growing awareness among businesses that corporate responsibility is good for business, Craner said. The State Department supports corporate responsibility, he added, noting its definition of the term entails not only supporting human rights but also fighting corruption, promoting the rule of law and good governance, and encouraging corporate philanthropy.
Canada is bracing
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
The annual G8 Summit will be near Calgary later this month, and Canadian officials are bracing for anti-globablization protests.
The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel notice for would-be visitors to the whole province of Alberta.
The summit is June 26 and 27 at Kananaskis, Alberta, some 70 miles from Calgary. A security screen already has been imposed in a 6.5 km. radius of the village, some four miles. Some camping and recreational facilities were closed as early as Monday. Alberta Highway 40 is restricted, and a no-fly zone has been set up for 80 kms. around the village.
Some protests are expected in Calgary, as well as in other nearby towns and may begin as early as Friday. U.S. President George Bush and leaders of seven other developed countries will be at the summit.
"While past demonstrations and protest activity have been mainly peaceful, sporadic violence and clashes between police and protestors have occurred," said a U.S. State Department announcement. "At last year's G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, large numbers of protestors were arrested or injured, and one was killed."
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Bandits stuck up and shot a man traveling in a vehicle in Escazú Centro Monday about 2 p.m.
Investigators said the man, Marco Vinicio Borbón Monge, was intercepted by men who shot him in the stomach and then took a briefcase containing 15 million colons, some $42,000. The location is in the western suburb of San José.
|Drug testing of tots
proposed in México
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Alarmed by rising illegal drug consumption among young people, officials in one Mexican state are preparing to test students for illegal narcotics use. The program is unprecedented in Mexico, a major trans-shipment point for U.S.-bound drugs, as it focuses not on teenagers but on primary school students.
Officials in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas said, according to a recent study, that drug consumption among minors is up a staggering 50 percent over the last five years. Zacatecas government Secretary Arturo Nahle said aggressive action is needed to reverse the trend.
Nahle said it is evident that in Zacatecas there has been a significant increase in drug use, particularly among minors. He said this has caused parents to become alarmed and given rise to the need for a testing program.
Traditionally, Mexican anti-narcotics initiatives have focused on adolescents and young adults. But the Zacatecas program will target primary school students. State officials have said many children are exposed to illegal drugs long before they reach secondary school, and that early intervention is required if the pattern of substance abuse is to be broken.
The officials said marijuana appears to be the drug of choice among young people. But they add that smoking marijuana can serve as a gateway to the consumption of even-more dangerous substances, such as cocaine, later on.
Even so, the Zacatecas program has left some parents baffled.
The early intervention program has caught the attention of local human
rights workers, who argue that primary school students are too young to
comprehend the drug issue or how a positive test result could affect them
for the rest of their lives. Civil liberties activists worry about youngsters
falling onto possible government black lists, and say that all people ó
even children ó have certain rights to privacy.
Officials fear spread
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Peruvian officials are concerned that anti-government protests, which have raged in the south for five days, will spread to other parts of the country.
Riots broke out last week over government plans to privatize two state-owned electric power companies.
Most of the violence has been centered in Arequipa, Peru's second largest city, located about 1,000 kilometers south of Lima. Thousands of demonstrators daily have conducted marches through the center of the city, shouting anti-government slogans and banging pots.
Protests have also broken out in the city of Tacna, near the Chilean border, where marchers have broken windows of a government building and blocked parts of the Pan-American Highway, Peru's major thoroughfare. One person has been killed and more than 100 others have been injured in the demonstrations.
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo has declared a state of emergency through the end of June and he has declined to attend a regional summit in Managua, Nicaragua.
Many Peruvians are angered at the government's sale of the Egasa and Egesur electric companies to a Belgian firm for $167 million. They say it will lead to job cuts and higher electric bills.
President Toledo says the sale is necessary to encourage foreign investment
and raise badly-needed cash.
Uribe meets Annan
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
NEW YORK, N.Y. ó Colombian President-elect Alvaro Uribe has met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan here to discuss ending Colombia's 38-year civil war.
President-elect Uribe refused to provide details of his meeting Monday with the secretary-general. He did tell reporters at a news conference it was essential that the conversations be conducted in a spirit of confidentiality.
Annan's spokesman also issued a statement saying he and Uribe had a useful exchange on the situation in Colombia and the president-elect's ideas for advancing peace in the country.
Since his election on May 26, Uribe has called for U.N. mediation to end the Colombian conflict, which pits leftist rebels against the government and right-wing paramilitaries.
Uribe also is expected in Washington this week for meetings with senior U.S. officials.
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