A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language news source
Monday through Friday

Place your free classified ad

Click Here
These stories were published Friday, June 21, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 122
Jo Stuart
About us
A.M. Costa Rica photo
José Alberto Jaen hangs a women’s rights poster at the elaborate Alliance Française exhibit.

Victor Hugo meets
future at book fair

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Feria Internacional del Libro opens today, and there is a lot more than books. In fact, you probably can find the future there.

Alliance Française, the French cultural organization, has on display CyBook, a portable tablet that can hold up to 10 books at once. The 2.2-pound device is perfect for carrying your electronic reading with you. It holds 15,000 pages and can download text from a computer.

The device sells for 2,990 French francs in France ($440) and represents a trend in portable electronic devices that permit people like A.M. Costa Rica readers to carry their electronic texts with them.

Meanwhile, Alliance has another reason to celebrate. It is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Victor Hugo, the most important of French Romantic writers. Hugo, whose own life reads like a novel, wrote, among other works, "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Les Misérables."

Alliance supporters were setting up a sprawling display Thursday that provides a glimpse into 19th Century French life and philosophy during the time of Hugo and also computers to show the flexibility of the Cybook.

Commercial establishments had their locations, too, and the biggest are what you would expect, the major Costa Rican book vendors. But the Cubans are there, too, as are representatives from 14 other countries.

The show runs until Sunday, June 30 at the Centro de Exposiciones of FERCORI, the Feria Internacional de Costa Rica, in the former customs house at Calle 23 and Avenida 3, just south of the Santa Teresita Church.

Not counting the Alliance exhibit, most of the books are in Spanish, but there are selections of English teaching materials and a lot of general interest material.

The Cybook device
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

Music Hath Charm to Clear out the House

I was gratified to learn that I am not the only one who has a problem with clutter. I got some encouraging letters and some very good ideas. Jerry Ledin said that when chaos seems to be winning he picks one area, like his bedroom, and organizes it and keeps it pristine so he will have some haven of sanity to retreat to. I tried that, then decided that I see my bedroom in the light only a short while, but spend a lot of time in my kitchen, so I have tried to keep that orderly. It works. Thanks, Jerry! 

Shirley Yamada was full of ideas of how to tackle the clutter. (She is obviously a recovering messy person). One reason we keep stuff is we can’t stand to waste things. We are the recyclers. We are the ones who remember the Depression. But giving away our stuff (those things we haven’t used or worn in months, maybe years) is not wasting and lessens the pain. 

In Costa Rica there is always someone who will appreciate our stuff. First, Shirley points out, there are garage sales that raise funds for various organizations and charities that we can give our good things to (I love garage sales, which may be part of my problem.) 

The Canadian Club has a garage sale every September, and members will pick your stuff up. More ideas from Shirley: She keeps a clean waste basket in which she puts her ‘throwaways’ for the maid. The maid can then choose what she wants or pass things along to others. 

The shabbier items can go to the guard. Shirley tactfully puts these things in with the newspapers. She makes sure everything she throws away is clean and by a stretch of the imagination, useable. Compared to about 80 percent of the rest of the world, we are blessed with plenty — more than we need. Thank you, Shirley. You are a creative cleaner-upper. 

We’re in the middle of the concert season. During the season our National Orchestra presents a concert on Friday nights at the National Theater and again on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at the auditorium in the Children’s Museum. One hears some exquisite music for an incredibly small fee. I go Sunday mornings. Staying awake afterwards is easier.

Listening to and watching our orchestra is a singular thrill. I never have a negative thought while I am at the symphony. This past Sunday, watching it was even more enjoyable with emphasis on the joy. The orchestra has been auditioning new conductors. Sunday’s candidate, Harvey Felder is from the United States — Milwaukee, Wisc., to be exact. He is the first conductor who, I felt, had the same ‘organic’ relationship to the music. I think of Hoffman as a "minimalist." 

Felder was like a conduit for the music, using his body to express it. If I suddenly were struck deaf, I felt I could still hear the music, just watching Mr. Feldman conduct.

Having a National Orchestra enables residents of Costa Rica to enjoy the talents of musicians from all over the world — and new musicians from here. The orchestra also goes to schools and towns other than San José so that many are able to experience the joy of music. 

Now I am hearing that the orchestra is in dire need of money in order to continue giving us the pleasure it has in the past. Its very existence is in jeopardy. Margaret Underwood, Grace Woodman and Jerry Ledin have worked tirelessly to get the foreign community to buy season tickets, but more is needed. More patrons are needed — those generous people who love the arts and make it possible for our lives to be enriched by their generosity.

Maybe all of us clutterbugs who are not rich enough to be patrons, could clean out our homes and raise money for the orchestra by organizing the biggest garage sale in Costa Rica. I could let go of a lot of things knowing I was helping an organization like the National Symphony Orchestra.

More Jo Stuart HERE!

Dream over
for U.S. team
in World Cup
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

ULSAN, Korea — The dream ended for the U.S. national soccer team this morning when Germany handed the Yanks a 1-0 quarterfinals defeat.

Germany now continues in the World  Cup contest to meet either Korea or Spain in the semin-final match.

A single German goal in the first period was what made the difference in an otherwise close match.

The U.S. team exceeded expectations by coming this far before being eliminated.

The Caribbean coast, a special report: HERE!
our daily 
Check out
Check out
our back
Send us

news story
Visit our
Visit our 
Visit our
real estate
Costa Rica
hits in May.

Click here for more information
Are you a victim?

Have you been the victim of a crime in Costa Rica?

We'd like to know the particulars even if you didn't bother to tell the police.

We'll use your reports in our own statistical study of crime and violence.

How to live, invest or find romance in Costa Rica
Order Now HERE!
Cops worked with robbers, investigators say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents grabbed nine persons, including two on-duty police officers, as part of a ring that had been holding up banks and businesses in the metropolitan area.

The arrests came Wednesday afternoon on a road between Tres Rios and Curridabat at a time when investigators said the men were about to commit another robbery. Confiscated in the police action was a Fuerza Pública patrol car, No. 690, that the two policemen were using when the arrests took place.

Investigators said that the policemen would provide the robbers information on where other police units were and also assist in creating false alarms in areas of town distant from where the robbers were going to stick up.

Investigators said that this group of men were responsible for a holdup at the Banco de Costa Rica branch in Buenos Aires de Puntarenas May 17.

Investigators also confiscated a second car and a number of weapons. Agents said that the police and the gang members had a habit of meeting at the same place shortly before a robbery was to take place.

The three policemen, now suspended, worked in the Curridabat delegation just east of San José. Investigators said they had been getting tips about the gang and their links with police for some months and that they had set up a surveilance of the men.

The investigation and arrests were the work of the robbery section of the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents said that they thought additional intorrogation would lead to linking the men with other crimes.

The three policemen were identified by the last names of Marchena, Fuentes and Salas.  The other men were identified as Enrique Paniagua, Gustavo Toruño, Alexis Gonzáles, Michael González. Eduardo Porras and Manuel Padilla.

Governments must give the people something to do
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

More than 10 days have past since the body of a 4-year-old boy was found behind a Santa Ana dam. 

The lad, the son of a police drug agent, was a kidnap victim, but investigators immediately began talking about a ring of child-stealers.

Since then, the public has been largely focused on 
Missing baker
the issue of child safety. Church vigils have been held. Police have met with educators. And a local television station is in the midst of a four-part series showing how easy it is for people to pick up children.

The station, Channel 7, Teletica, didn’t plan on disproving the child-stealing theory. But the ease with which television reporters enticed youngsters into their car shows that child stealers working in 

Costa Rica would have snagged more than three children. There would be busloads.

The events in Costa Rica overshadow news from Utah about a girl there taken from her bedroom by an armed intruder. 

No one is very clear there on why that happened, although the usual posters have gone up and parent marches have taken place.

In the United States and in Costa Rica people vanish every day. Only infrequently do the disappearances make headlines. 

For example, the Judicial Investigating Organization Thursday issued a notice for one William Duarte Quintana, 52, who vanished from his bakery shop in La Rotonda de la I Griega Monday. 

At the same time investigators found out that a body had been located in the Río Virilla in Uruca. There was no sign of violence but there is no identification yet, either. Such events happen with regularity.

When Jessica Valverde Pineda, 4, vanished from near her home in late February in Los Guidos de Desamparados the mass media flurry subsided quickly. She was never found. 

What is unusual about the current case of Osvaldo Faobricio Madrigal Bravo, the most recent victim, is 
Analysis on the news
that the body was found. He probably died soon after he vanished, if the condition of the body is considered. However, an autopsy report has not yet been released. 

A government needs to reinforce the feeling of security for its people. The magical increase in the number of police on patrol in the downtown area is one way Costa Rican officials are responding to fears about child safety.

But why do government officials speak of a child-stealing ring when that probably is not a factor?

That’s because other possibilities are less easily addressed. A single serial killer working alone is very hard to catch. Police even now are seeking such a person, also in the Desamparados area. The individual preys on adult women, and he has left a trail of bodies. There are no marches or vigils for these crimes because they are seen as outside the realm of citizen action.

Government tries to provide an outlet for citizen frustrations in high-profile cases. If they really wanted citizen help, they would reveal all they know about the crime. Instead they focus the citizenry in ways that can be best regarded as therapy. Meanwhile, the government must be seen as taking action, even if it cannot.

In both the Utah case and the case of young Madrigal, chances are that the deeper story will not be disclosed for some time. The true facts of the death of young Jessica — absent a body — may never be known.

Watch those cameras, folks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy says that an American was temporarily detained and questioned after he took photos near a school and a playground.

The embassy statement, posted to its Web site, said that police and civilians are exercising extra vigilance in areas where children congregate in the aftermath of the child murder.

"American citizens are advised to be sensitive to local concerns and avoid any behavior that could be interpreted as targeting or following children," the embassy said. 

Conference studies AIDS and HIV in Latin America
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There are approximately 1.2 million AIDS cases and 2.8 million people currently infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean, says Dr. Fernando Zacarias, head of the Pan American Health Organization's regional program on AIDS.

Speaking Wednesday at a conference at the Capitol, Zacarias said that despite progress in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, an estimated 235,000 individuals were infected in the region in 2001.

Many females infected with the virus are in the Dominican Republic, a country that provides a high percentage of prostitutes to Costa Rica where such work is legal.

Coping with HIV/AIDS and mitigating the spread of the epidemic in the Western Hemisphere was the focus of the conference, "HIV/AIDS in Latin America and the Caribbean" convened by the Global Health Council.

Zacarias opened the discussion by outlining the challenges of promoting the prevention of HIV/AIDS and addressing the social stigma that he said serves as "the root of vulnerability" for effectively addressing the epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean. He called for a unified, interdisciplinary approach to advance global HIV/AIDS initiatives and to strengthen regional, subregional and national responses to the disease.

Over one-third of HIV/AIDS cases in Latin America and the Caribbean are the result of men having sex with men, according to Dr. Ruben Mayorga, general coordinator of ASICAL, a coalition of nine groups from across the Americas.

Prostitutes represent another high-risk group for HIV infection. During the conference, Hector Jerez of the Center for the Promotion of Human Solidarity and Luis Moreno with the Center for Integral Orientation and Investigation explored efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic among female commercial sex workers in the Dominican Republic. The collective experience of their respective organizations, they said, offers invaluable insight into overcoming the stigmas and discrimination that have undermined HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

According to the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, 3 percent of the general population in the Dominican Republic is infected with HIV. This percentage approaches almost 12 percent among female prostitutes in some areas of the country. Jerez said there are more than 100,000 women currently working as female sex workers in the Dominican Republic. He attributed the high number of women involved in commercial sex to low levels of education and a lack of economic opportunity for women.

Efforts to further diminish the incidence of HIV among female prostitutes in the Dominican Republic were subsequently broadened to involve sex-establishment owners and clients, non-governmental organizations and the Dominican government. Working together, these groups imported a "100-percent condom program" from Thailand. Under this program, the government promoted condom use in commercial sex establishments and encouraged monthly check-ups for female sex workers.

 The collective effort reported a 40-percent increase in condom use among sex workers and a 40-percent decrease in sexually transmitted diseases, both key HIV prevention indicators. 

Three cities win
recreation awards

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three cities in Latin America have been cited by a U.S. government health agency and the Pan American Health Organization for improving public spaces for recreation and for promoting physical activity.

The cities, selected from 142 entries, won joint awards that include $2,500 prizes. The winning cities were Loja, Ecuador; Surco, Peru; and Balcarce, Argentina.

Loja was recognized for its "strong interest" in preserving its natural environment in harmony with the city, and for "offering opportunities for an active lifestyle," sponsors said in a statement. Loja's efforts included a recycling initiative.

Surco was recognized for a program that promotes physical activity by expanding and preserving green areas by recovering water from the Rio Surco.

Balcarce was honored for conserving its green areas through reforestation initiatives and for creating a pedestrian-friendly community.

The two agencies also gave special recognition to Surrey, Canada; Manizales, Colombia; and Lo Barnechea, Chile, for their efforts in promoting recreation and physical activity. Eugene, Oregon, was also recognized for preserving its green areas and maintaining a pedestrian-friendly environment.

The awards will be given at The Pan American Health Promotion Forum for the Americas Oct. 22 to 24 in Santiago, Chile.

U.S. trade deficit
higher in April

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. trade deficit grew in April to a record $35.9 billion from $32.4 billion in March after narrowing slightly the previous month, reflecting higher imports in all sectors, especially petroleum, as economic recovery continued, the Commerce Department reported.

Exports of goods and services increased about $1.7 billion from March to $80.1 billion in April while imports rose more than $5 billion from March to $116 billion in April.

In April the United States imported 302.7 million barrels of crude oil, up from 267.3 million in March as the price per barrel increased from $19.18 to $22.48, the highest level since September.

Aside from petroleum, the largest increases in April imports were reported for autos and computers. U.S. exports of autos also showed a large gain in April.

Supreme Court vetoes
death for retarded

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a major ruling on capital punishment Thursday. By a vote of six to three, the high court banned the execution of mentally retarded killers. 

Six of the nine Supreme Court justices agreed that executing mentally retarded murderers violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said a national consensus has emerged in recent years against executing the mentally retarded. 

Eighteen of the 38 states that allow capital punishment have banned executions of the retarded. Another 12 states have banned capital punishment altogether. When the Supreme Court last ruled on this issue in 1989, only two states prohibited executing retarded killers. 

Brenda Bowser is with the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington-based group that opposes capital punishment. "Thirty states have either banned the death penalty altogether or stopped the execution of those with mental retardation," she said, "So there is no doubt that there is now a national consensus on this issue." 

Three of the high court's more conservative justices dissented in the opinion, including Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He wrote that the court majority was, in his words, "seriously mistaken." 

Legal experts predict the ruling will generate numerous appeals from criminals sentenced to death, who will now argue that they are retarded and that they should be sentenced to life in prison instead. That worries victims' rights advocates, like Dudley Sharp, a spokesman for the Houston-based group Justice for All. 

"The Supreme Court has made a decision that will allow fully culpable capital murderers to escape a death penalty," Mr. Sharp commented, "and the bottom line will be that we will see a large number of new cases with unfounded claims of mental retardation coming off of death row." 

The high court issued it's ruling based on the case of a Virginia man, Daryl Atkins. Atkins was convicted of murder, but his attorneys argued that his life should be spared because he has an intelligence quotient of only 59. An average IQ is about 100, and people with IQ's of 70 or below are generally considered mentally retarded.

Drug gangs take
over Rio slums

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — The recent murder of a Brazilian journalist by drug traffickers here has underscored the growing power of the drug gangs in the city's slums. The well armed gangs now constitute a kind of parallel power to the state. 

A large rally this past Sunday to mourn and protest the death of journalist Tim Lopes is one sign of the increasing concern by Rio de Janeiro citizens over the growing power of the drug gangs. 

Lopes disappeared June 2 in a Rio de Janeiro slum while working undercover investigating reports of drug dealing and the sexual exploitation of minors at parties hosted by drug traffickers. According to captured suspects, the journalist was seized by a local drug lord, tortured, and then killed with a samurai-style sword. His body was then burned. 

The crime shocked the nation, and drew renewed attention to the power wielded by drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro's shantytowns. One out of five of the city's residents live in these slums, called "favelas" many of them built on Rio's picturesque hillsides. Life for many of these one million favela-dwellers is dominated by the drug gangs, which operate with impunity in the slums. 

In the favela of Vila do Joao, 18-year-old Alexandre says there are usually shootouts every night between rival gangs. Everyday there is shooting, he says, beginning between 5 and 9 o'clock at night. No one, he says, can stay out on the street — you go inside or you get shot. 

The power of the drug gangs is so great that police seldom venture into the favelas, except in large numbers. The local drug lords are powers unto themselves, dispensing justice and controlling who can enter their neighborhoods. They enforce their will with a vast array of weapons, including AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, grenade launchers, and automatic pistols. 

Even though there is a heightened concern about organized crime, statistics show that violence has diminished in Rio de Janeiro since the mid-1990's. In 1995, the number of homicides in the state reached a high of 8,400. Last year, it was about 40 per 100,000 inhabitants. 

This is still very high, compared to cities like New York where the murder rate is 7.8 to 100,000. State deputy Carlos Minc says drug-related violence and the power of the traffickers have become intolerable. 

"Today in Rio, the people living in the territory controlled by the drug traffickers are forced to live in silence, under siege," Minc said. "Their daughters are raped and if they open their mouths they are shot and then burned like in Auschwitz. This is terror. What is needed is a new strategy in combating drugs, because this war in the favelas now is lost. For every trafficker killed, there are eight to take his place." 

The governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Benedita da Silva — a black woman who grew up poor in a favela — says she recognizes there is a security problem, but refuses to acknowledge there is a parallel power operating in the favelas. She told the Globo newspaper recently that there needs to be a new security strategy. She says that under her 3-month-old government, police are entering the slums more frequently to enforce law and order. 

New cancer idea
may trick cells

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

U.S. researchers have developed a treatment method that ultimately may cure some cancers, even those that have reached an advanced stage and spread to other parts of the body.

The latest findings are based on the fact that many types of cancer cells need folate — a form of water-soluble B Vitamin — in order to grow and divide, and have evolved a mechanism to capture the nutrient more effectively than normal cells.

Making use of this selectivity, scientists from Purdue University and Endocyte — a small cancer research company — have developed a way to trick cancer cells into attracting and even ingesting anticancer agents that are attached to folate molecules. One form of this Trojan horse therapeutic approach was used to successfully treat more than 200 mice with late-stage metastatic disease.

"It's using cancer's nutritional needs against itself," said Philip Low, a professor who led the research team.

One treatment method developed by the team — a method that forces the body's immune system to fight the disease — will be tested in Phase I human clinical trials beginning in November. This treatment method involves priming the body's immune system to fight a certain substance or "beacon," and then attaching the beacon to the cancer-using folate. The beacon would enable the immune system to "see" the cancer and begin to remove it.

"We essentially decorated the cancer with an inert chemical the body was programmed by our vaccine to fight," said a researcher. "By retargeting the immune system, its natural killer cells . . . were alerted to intruders and eliminated the cancer along with them."

A graphic illustrating the treatment method is available at ftp://ftp.purdue.edu/pub/uns/

Leaked attack warnings
make Bush unhappy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Bush says Congress must safeguard classified information it receives while investigating what U.S. officials knew about terrorist threats before Sept. 11. The president's criticism follows the disclosure that intelligence officials intercepted two messages on Sept. 10 warning that something was going to happen the next day.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says the president is concerned about what he calls "the inappropriate disclosure" of information that could interfere with the nation's ability to fight terrorism and may undermine national security. 

"The information that was leaked is alarmingly specific and the president does have very deep concerns about anything that would be inappropriately leaked that could in any way endanger America's ability to gather intelligence information," he said. 

The warning follows reports that the National Security Agency intercepted two Arabic-language messages on the eve of the attacks, one of which said "Tomorrow is zero hour."  The disclosure is believed to have been leaked from classified testimony before a Congressional committee. The committee heard that the messages were not translated until after the terrorist attacks.

Vice President Dick Cheney telephoned the committee chairmen Thursday morning to complain about the leaks. Fleischer says the administration is confident that congressional leaders will deal with the problem, and he says there is no plan to restrict further testimony. 

Cuban pitcher signs
deal with Minneapolis

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Paul Saints activated left-handed pitcher Arian Cruz, who the team signed in April out of Costa Rica, where the country's government had issued him a family reunification visa to permit him to leave Cuba.

Cruz, 23, pitched for Camaguey of Cuba's National Series for three seasons from 1997 to 2000. In his final season for Camaguey, Cruz appeared in 15 games and posted a 1-0 record with a 3.42 earned run average. Opponents batted .265 against him, and had 26 hits in 26.1 innings pitched. Cruz struck out 23 batters that season.

"Arian Cruz was one of Cuba's top young lefties, and I believe he has a bright future in Major League baseball," said Joe Kehoskie, Cruz's agent.

With very little baseball played in Costa Rica, Cruz signed with the Saints in order to better showcase his pitching skills for Major League teams. Although under contract with the Saints, Cruz remains a free agent for Major League baseball purposes.

"Arian is thrilled to be in the U.S. and to be pitching for the Saints," Kehoskie said. "There is not a better place for Arian to showcase his abilities to Major League teams than with the Saints, or a better manager for Arian to do it under than Jimmy Johnson."

Cuban authorities suspended Cruz from the 2000-'01 season after learning of his plans to join his family in San Jose, Costa Rica, where, over several preceding years, his sister-in-law, brother and mother had emigrated.

At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Cruz has a fastball with a miles-per-hour speed in the low 90s, an above-average curveball, slider and changeup. That repertoire makes him a candidate to be the third Cuban defector to play for the Saints and go on to play in the Major Leagues. In 1993, the Saints signed shortstop Rey Ordonez and pitcher Eddie Oropesa, who each have gone on to play multiple seasons at the big league level. 

On Tuesday, Cruz made his North American debut, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in a 6-1 Saints' loss to Schaumburg. He struck out one, walked one and faced three batters.

Retired military
march against Chavez

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — Hundreds of retired Venezuelan military officers have marched here to demand the resignation of President Hugo Chavez.

Many officers carried their uniforms on clothes hangers, Thursday, as they marched toward the presidential palace. They were joined by hundreds of supporters.

Police set up a security cordon around the palace to prevent the marchers from clashing with Chavez supporters gathered in the area. The march ended without incident. The anti-government demonstrators oppose what they say is the president's politicization of the armed forces.

One retiree, Miguel Angel Arevalo, said that President Chavez is placing people in the armed forces who agree with the government so that he can control them.

As the rally was taking place, President Chavez was visiting a working-class district in Caracas, telling supporters there to be alert for opposition efforts to topple him.

President Chavez was briefly ousted in a short-lived coup in April. Since reclaiming his presidency, there have been persistent rumors of another coup attempt.

Cuban reformist
to continue efforts

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

HAVANA, Cuba — The leader of a Cuban democratic reform effort has said his movement will not be stopped by President Fidel Castro's recent petition drive to declare the country's socialist system "untouchable."

Reform advocate Oswaldo Paya of a movement called the Varela Project made the statement Wednesday here. He spoke on the heels of an announcement by Cuban authorities that eight million people had signed the petition saying Cuba's social, economic and political systems should not be changed. The signatures collected are to be delivered to Cuba's National Assembly, convening July 5. 

Last month, Varela Project activists submitted their own petition, bearing 11,000 signatures, to the National Assembly. It calls for a referendum on freedom of speech and assembly, the right to own a business, electoral reform and amnesty for political prisoners. 

Rebel leader snagged
on U.S. drug charge 

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Colombian rebel leader has been arrested in Suriname and flown to the United States, to face drug trafficking charges. 

U.S. drug enforcement officials said Carlos Bolas was flown to Washington, D.C., Wednesday. Suriname arrested him on immigration charges and turned him over to U.S. agents. He is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court. Investigators say Bolas belongs to Colombia's main leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 

In March, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Bolas and other members of the rebel force for conspiracy to manufacture and export cocaine to the United States. 

Sportsbook owners: 

If you have a sportsbook,
you can add an online Flash casino
so easily with our proprietary software. 
The Casino Factory
Serving the needs of the industry
Creating casino software in Costa Rica for four years.

(506) 388-0076

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001 and 2002 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.