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(506) 2223-1327           Published Tuesday, June 28, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 126           E-mail us
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Tropical waves
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Tropical waves are lined up across the Atlantic is the explanatory graphic
Much of the rainy weather has its origin in Africa
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For about eight months of the year, Costa Rica is under siege from weather patterns that form over Africa. These are the infamous tropical waves that bring clouds and rain. Sometimes they combine with home-grown weather instability to really drench the country.

Although these waves cannot be seen, they are far from abstract. Mexico's Bay of Campeche is getting rain at this writing thanks to a tropical wave. Meteorologists with the U.S. Hurricane Information Center estimate that there is a 50 percent chance that this disorganized system will become a significant storm or cyclone.

Meanwhile there are two more tropical waves making their way westward across the Atlantic. One is off the coast of Venezuela moving at about 20 knot or about 23 mph, said the center. The low-pressure trough of this system stretches north to the Dominican Republic. This likely will have an effect on Costa Rica's weather in a few days.

Yet a third wave is several days behind, according to the center.

A lot of expats from the United States and Canada are unfamiliar with tropical waves because only infrequently do these systems touch the U.S. Southwest and create monsoon conditions over the dry landscape.

In Costa Rica they are a major weather factor. Some scientists also think that cyclones in the Pacific may have a relationship with wave that have passed into that ocean. Some waves can actually go around the globe.

There are about 60 generated from instability over Africa each year, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While only about 60 percent of the Atlantic tropical storms and minor hurricanes  originate from
easterly waves, nearly 85 percent of the intense or major hurricanes have their origins as easterly waves, said the agency.

The waves usually appear to be about three to four days apart or separated by 2,000 to 2,500 kilometers, some 1,200 to 1,500 miles, said the agency.

Scientists have been studying this phenomenon since the 1930s, but they still have a lot of questions. For one thing, according to the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists do not know how the waves change each year  in both intensity and location.

In June 2010 the region from Golfito to Jacó took it on the chin as one wave passed through. High winds downed trees and telephone lines and probably did millions of dollars of damage to the tourism industry. That was tropical wave No. 8 for the year. Then No. 9 came through a day later  bringing more rain and even some to the Central Valley. No. 11 was not far behind.

This is the storm that closed Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and caused tourists to leave.

Many of the major storms that have hit Costa Rica were associated with tropical waves, although some waves pass overhead with little notice.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional put out an alert Monday afternoon based on high temperatures during the day. The weather service predicted heavy thunderstorms in the evening and early morning. The Central Valley appeared late Monday to have been spared, but the prediction for Tuesday is the same except that the heavy downpours are supposed to be in the afternoon in the Central Valley, the northern zone and the Pacific coast.

A tropical wave is not involved in this forecast, but if it were, weather experts would call it an onda tropical in Spanish.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 126

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Water company head quits
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By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The political appointee heading the nation's water company quit Monday after a report from the  ethical procuraduría listed four violations.

The man is Óscar Nuñez, who had a morning meeting with President Laura Chinchilla. Opposition party members have been calling for his resignation after it became known that he took a female water company employee with him on a trip to México.

The report was by Gilbert Calderón, procurador de la ética.

Nuñez headed the Instituto Nacional de  Acueductos y Alcantarillados. The trip with the 23-year-old employee was in August. His resignation avoids a session with lawmakers who wanted to discuss the situation. The woman is an employee who works at an institute office in Tilarán.

Between 2006 and 2010 Nuñez was a legislative deputy.

Our readers' opinions
Snow June 4 in Alberta
make one wonder


Dear A.M Costa Rica:

Years ago I watched a NOVA episode on PBS, the Public Broadcasting Station. It was called "Cracking The Ice Age." The program aired September 30, 1997. You can read the transcript at pbs.org. Anyone who is interested in climate change would find this presentation very interesting. The program centres on the Himalayas being very instrumental in climate change in the past. It really makes you think about all the things you get told.

The way our weather is going this year, here in Alberta global warming is had to believe. We had snow on June 4th in the centre of the province.
P. Fraser
Alberta, Canada

Degree and experience
does not an expert make


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It's a mistake to consider anyone who has a degree and experience in a given subject necessarily an "expert."  His comment:

"In fact, I have found almost no scientists, in my recent studies, who do not harbour strong misgivings about the man-made warming hypothesis"  makes him very suspect, since we know there are are not just a few, but hundreds of scientists considered by their peers to be experts that disagree with the letter-writer's article.  How he could "find almost no scientists" who believe in global warming makes us doubt his "expertise"  since he apparently is unaware of this larger community or in denial about them.

In any given area where industry is going to have to make some major costly changes in the way they do business, there is always going to be a lot of denial.  It is for the same reason a number in the U.S. Congress (mainly tea-partiers) want to do away with the EPA:  they get lots of campaign financing from corporations who dislike the regulations the EPA sets, even though most of those regulations were made to protect lives.

Richard & Jean Redmond

EDITOR'S NOTE: The letter refers to the summary and letter published Monday from Canadian Norman Paterson Ph.D. The article is HERE!

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary




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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 126

Prisma Dental

Juan Diego Castro is flanked by  Harlen Jiménez Mora, the widow, and María Fallas Mora, the mother.

Lawyer Castro and family

Lawyer seeks negotiation over death of La Reforma guard
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The widow and mother of a prison guard killed in a breakout attempt May 11 have enlisted the services of a top criminal lawyer.

The lawyer,  Juan Diego Castro, told a press conference Monday that the goal is an alternative resolution of a damage case that the women may bring against the central government.

The dead guard, Francis Morales Fallas, was a hostage being used as a shield by prisoners when he was hit by a bullet fired by law officers. The bullet appears to have come from the weapon of a member of the Judicial Investigating Organization tactical squad. Several groups of law officers had headed off the prisoners and their hostages as they tried to make their way to the facility's arsenal. Two prisoners died in the firefight, and one was injured.

Castro was accompanied at the press conference by  Harlen Jiménez Mora, the widow, and  María Fallas Mora, the mother. Ms. Jiménez brought her infant.

The lawyer filed a formal request for conciliation Monday with the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz, which runs the prisons. They are seeking approval to enter into a conciliation negotiation from  Hernando Paris, the minister.
Paris appears to have his hands full as each day brings a new revelation about deficiencies at the prison, La Reforma in San Rafael de Alajuela. A major investigation is underway because one of the ringleaders of the prison break appears to have been beaten with fatal results.

The maximum security staff of 10 guards has been suspended for investigation.

In addition, the investigation seeks to find out how the prisoners got keys and were able to use a cell telephone. The situation reflects on President Laura Chinchilla because she once held the justice ministry post.

The murdered inmate was Jovel Guillermo Araya Ramírez. Some kind of damage claim is likely to come from his family, too.

Castro said that he was urging conciliation to prevent revictimization of the family. He noted that the method had been used to compensate families of victims who died in the Hospital Calderón Guardia fire July 12, 2005, and the families of those killed when a Fuerza Pública officer went on a shooting spree at the Embassy of Chile July 27, 2004.

Paris has 10 days to accept or reject the request, according to the law, Castro said.  No amount was discussed, The lawyer said that experts would make a mathematical estimate.


Honduras will seek to OK joint drug patrols with Ticos
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Honduras has been asked to ratify a treaty for suppression of drug trafficking in the Caribbean.

That was a topic of conversation when Honduran President Porfirio Lobo visited Monday with President Laura Chinchilla and René Castro, the foreign minster.  Honduras would become the ninth country to ratify the agreement.

The pact would allow joint operations against traffickers
and allow ships from the countries involved to enter the territorial waters of their partners. The Caribbean is rapidly becoming a principal route for the seagoing drug trade.  Vast sections of the Nicaragua coast as well as portions of the Costa Rican coast are in the control of drug smugglers.
Castro said that the Honduran president agreed to seek ratification of the agreement in the shortest time possible.

Both presidents just attended at session on security organized by the  Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 126


CR Home real estate


Human trafficking report lacks evidence for its claims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United States downgraded Costa Rica and put the country on the so-called watch list in the annual human trafficking report released Monday.

The U.S. State Department managed to produce a 1,488-word summary of the trafficking situation here without once mentioning that prostitution is not prosecuted. The vast majority of foreign women come here of their own volition seeking money they cannot get at home.

A.M. Costa Rica documented a year ago the illegal way women from the Dominican Republic managed to get into the country. They had assistance from some public employees.

But they were not forced or coerced.

The U.S. summary also makes some wild statements:

"Child sex tourism is a serious problem, particularly in the provinces of Guanacaste, Limón, Puntarenas, and San José. Child sex tourists arrive mostly from the United States, Germany, Sweden, and Italy."

That gives the impression of foreign tourists robbing cradles for their perverted desires. In fact, the bulk of sexual exploitation of children here comes from family member. And the only current case of "child sex tourism" one of an expats who is on trial for having relations with 
an underage women he found in a brothel. The man thought that the brothel operator would have checked the ages to make sure all the employees were over 18, according to his friends.

An analysis of the news

Expats who come here as tourists are well aware of the severe penalties for sex with those under 18 even though many Costa Rican prostitutes begin their professional life at 14 or 15.

The State Department report seeks to prove the seriousness of the problem here because there have been no convictions. People complain that prosecution is slow. Well, it is the same way for murder cases.

Editors keep a close eye on possible trafficking cases. There have been some arrests of persons driving a car or bus load of illegal Nicaraguans in the Liberia area. There also are numbers of persons who help Nicaraguans and others evade border controls to the north.  The southern border also is patrolled loosely.

The State Department report read like a brief for some agency seeking a federal grant.  It would be helpful next year for the local embassy  personnel responsible for this annual document to do some legwork instead of regurgitating what the various non-governmental agencies say to win funding.


U.S. report cites lack of convictions in trafficking cases

This is the U.,S. government's summary of the human trafficking situation in Costa Rica:

Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking
and forced labor. Costa Rican women and children are subjected to sex trafficking within the country, and
residents of the north and central Pacific coast zones are particularly vulnerable to internal trafficking. Women
and girls from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries have been identified in
Costa Rica as victims of sex trafficking and forced domestic service.

Child sex tourism is a serious problem, particularly in the provinces of Guanacaste, Limon, Puntarenas, and San José. Child sex tourists arrive mostly from the United States, Germany, Sweden, and Italy. Costa Rica is increasingly a destination for men from other Central American countries and from Asian countries subjected to conditions of forced labor, particularly in the agriculture, construction, and fishing sectors.

During the reporting period, more than 40 men from Indonesia, the Philippines, China, and Vietnam were found in conditions of forced labor in the fishing industry, and authorities identified three men from El Salvador who were subjected to forced labor on a farm. Costa Rica serves as a transit point for migrants en route to the United States, some of whom may fall victim to human trafficking.

The Government of Costa Rica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of
trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. These significant efforts included the government’s
implementation of procedures to identify and assist trafficking victims, increased staffing of the anti-trafficking police unit, and the creation of a special team to identify potential trafficking victims among migrants. Authorities,
however, failed to convict or sentence any trafficking offenders, did not maintain specialized services or shelters for trafficking victims, and made limited efforts to raise public awareness about human trafficking. The government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing efforts over the previous reporting period; therefore, Costa Rica is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Recommendations for Costa Rica: Intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders; strengthen prosecutorial efforts, perhaps through creating a dedicated unit for
trafficking or through increased training and focus on trafficking cases; amend trafficking legislation to include
human trafficking cases not involving movement; increase funding for specialized services for trafficking victims,
particularly adults, possibly through the establishment of a shelter specifically for trafficking victims or through funding NGOs to provide services; continue to offer training to police officers, immigration officials,
prosecutors, and judges on how to identify and respond to trafficking cases; increase funding for dedicated antitrafficking units and for anti-trafficking awareness efforts; and improve data collection for trafficking prosecutions and convictions.

Prosecution

The Government of Costa Rica investigated and prosecuted several trafficking cases involving both foreign and
domestic victims during the reporting period, but failed to achieve any convictions. Article 172 of the penal code,
which was amended in April 2009, prescribes penalties of six to 10 years’ imprisonment for the movement of
persons both across borders and within the country for the purposes of prostitution, sexual or labor servitude, slavery, forced work or services, servile marriage, forced begging, or other forms of compelled service. This statute also prohibits illegal adoption, a crime separate from human trafficking. Sentences may be increased to eight to 16 years’ imprisonment under aggravated circumstances, such as the victimization of a child or a trafficker’s use of deception, violence, intimidation, or coercion.

The penalties set forth in amended Article 172 are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. There have been no reported successful prosecutions under this law. Articles 376 and 377 of the penal code additionally prohibit child sex trafficking, prescribing penalties of two to four years’ imprisonment. Law 8754 authorizes the use of extensive investigative measures such as wiretapping in human trafficking cases, and law enforcement officials used these tactics during 2010. Lack of familiarity with the new legislation impeded the enforcement of these laws. A draft law currently before the Congress contains robust victim protections and detailed descriptions of government responsibilities and interagency cooperation mechanisms. The definition of trafficking in the draft law, however, does not require force, fraud, or coercion as an element of the crime and requires movement for a crime to be considering trafficking.

The law enforcement anti-trafficking unit of eight investigators was strengthened during the year and reported conducting at least 20 investigations. Several law enforcement operations were conducted in partnership
with NGO staff. These efforts, however, did not lead to
any successful prosecutions. Some NGOs and officials noted that prosecutors lagged in their understanding of the crime.

There was no specialized prosecutorial unit for trafficking crimes; rather, prosecutors from the sex crimes unit, the
organized crimes unit and the “various crimes” unit all handled trafficking cases. During 2009, the latest period for which official statistics are available, authorities prosecuted 41 trafficking cases and six cases of child trafficking under Article 172. There were no reported convictions for trafficking in persons crimes in 2009, compared with five convictions achieved in 2008. The Government of Costa Rica worked closely with foreign governments on several cases during the year, including the governments of China, Panama, Vietnam, and the United States. The government-run national coalition provided training to 207 public officials on human trafficking. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of public officials complicit in human trafficking.

Protection

The Costa Rican government improved its efforts to identify and assist trafficking victims and identified a
record number of foreign victims, but again did not fund specialized services or shelters, relying on NGOs and
international organizations to provide most specialized victim care. The government continued to implement its
“immediate attention” protocol, which defined the steps for different government institutions to take in identifying, protecting, and providing integrated assistance to victims. During the year, officials created a team to detect
humanitarian issues, including human trafficking, among migrants. Authorities provided members of the national
anti-trafficking coalition with a model of integrated attention for trafficking victims and trained member
institutions on implementing the model, although an NGO noted that the majority of working-level officials and NGO staff were unaware of the model and that implementation was weak.

There were no government-funded shelter services dedicated to human trafficking victims. Authorities maintained short-term government shelters for female victims of domestic violence and for at-risk youth, and authorities reported that some child trafficking victims received services at these shelters during the reporting period. The government often relied on NGOs and religious organizations to provide specialized care for trafficking victims and did not provide funding to these institutions. It did maintain, however, a formalized referral process. All foreign male trafficking victims identified during the year were housed in hostels with funding and support from an international organization.

All 60 of the trafficking victims that the coalition reported identifying during the reporting period were foreign
citizens, despite NGOs and law enforcement officials identifying several Costa Rican victims. Foreign victims
were eligible for the same services as Costa Rican citizens. The government provided legal, psychological, and basic health assistance, though NGOs noted the need for greater government efforts to reintegrate Costa Rican victims into their communities.

The government generally did not penalize identified victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government granted special visas or temporary residency status to several victims during the reporting period, though most victims preferred to return to their home countries. Costa Rican authorities encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders, and some victims did so during the reporting period. An NGO reported that some victims, however, were unwilling to file police reports or to collaborate with investigations due to lack of confidence in the judicial system. Funding for witness protection increased but remained limited.

Prevention

The Government of Costa Rica sustained limited prevention efforts during the reporting year. Authorities
continued to partner with civil society on awareness efforts, but did not fund any information or education
campaigns. The government’s anti-trafficking directorate, which coordinated the national anti-trafficking coalition,
was moved to the Migration Office during the year and continued to lead government efforts, though antitrafficking actors noted that the coalition rarely met rarely during the year. The coalition, however, did conduct an
extensive assessment of the government’s anti-trafficking efforts and created an action plan for 2011, though
these documents were not publicly distributed.

The National Commission to Combat the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents continued
to implements its national plan. NGOs reported that some officials continued to conflate trafficking with smuggling or only understand trafficking as a transnational crime. Authorities prosecuted a U.S. citizen for alleged commercial sexual exploitation of a child, though there were no reported convictions of child sex tourists during
the reporting period. The government reported no other efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex or forced labor during the reporting period.


Business executive seeks to rent or buy luxury apartment or condo in the downtown area. Walking distance to Plaza de la Cultura preferred. Contact: apartment@amcostarica.com.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 126

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Chávez absence causing
uncertainty in Venezuela


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan officials have dismissed reports that President Hugo Chávez could be seriously ill, as his opponents demand information about his health, more than two weeks after he underwent surgery in Cuba.

President Chávez has not been seen in public since the June 10 operation for what authorities have said was an abscess in his pelvic area.  Mr. Chávez's voice was last heard publicly June 12, when he called a television network and said he was on the mend.

Officials say the president is recovering well and should be back for a regional summit beginning July 5 that coincides with the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's independence from Spain.  The president's opponents say  Chávez and his aides should be more straightforward.

Some opposition politicians say Vice President Elias Jaua should replace Chávez until he recovers, a move Jaua has rejected.

Despite the absence of the 56-year-old president, his Twitter stream has been active.  Saturday, Chávez posted messages, including one mentioning visits by his daughter, Rosines, and grandchildren.

Food and agriculture chief
seeks to forge partnerships


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The newly elected head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Monday said he would utilize the democratic success of his selection to forge agreements to help overcome differences among member states.

José Graziano da Silva, of Brazil also told a press conference in Rome that he believed food prices would remain volatile for some time and that the Food and Agriculture Organization would work more closely with the U.N. World Food Programme  in the effort to overcome hunger.

Graziano da Silva received 92 votes from 180 votes cast by member states during the second round of balloting, defeating Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaube, a former foreign minister of Spain. He will succeed Jacques Diouf, who has served as director general since 1994.

Asked about alleged divisions between donor and recipient countries, Graziano da Silva said: “The whole issue of division became clearer in the course of the election process. Not only does it have an effect on elections, it is something that is part of the daily life in FAO.

“There are divergences, differences of views which are profound which are not to be swept away, which cannot be ignored.

“We have to work on… a minimum consensus around these issues so we don’t lose ourselves and render this organization paralytic over divisions.”

He described his own election as a democratic success and said that “in the same way I hope I can forge those same types of agreements about a minimum number of issues which will enable FAO to move forward most rapidly.”

Graziano da Silva said one of the very first actions he undertook after his election was to speak with Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the World Food Programme, “to set a common agenda.”

“We agreed a much more close relationship will be necessary between FAO and the World Food Programme to fit the expectations that the world has now for better food security governance.”

For her part Ms. Sheeran issued a press statement welcoming Graziano da Silva’s election, saying: “The World Food Programme is working closely and collaboratively with the FAO, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development to address immediate hunger needs in emergencies, and to support long-term sustainable solutions to hunger.”

During his press conference Graziano da Silva also said that biofuels were not “a silver bullet,” but should not be demonized; the science of genetically modifying crops should not be discarded, but there should be no monopoly on seed sales; land grabs are important in theory, but their impacts so far are “minimal;” and food prices are liable to continue being volatile.

“Until we get a more stable financial situation worldwide, commodities will reflect that,” he said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 126

Costa Rica Reprot promo


Latin American news
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Tourism institute picks
online advertising plan


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo is investing $120,000 to run banners on the Expedia.com Web site in anticipation of generating 50,000 tourists for Costa Rica and an increase in tourism spending of $36 million.

Expedia.com is a Web site that specializes in low-cost air travel.

The institute promotion will be in the United States this year and next, said a release. Expedia is participating in the campaign and will invest $120,000 for a total campaign of $240,000, the institute said.

In 2007 the institute invested $50,000 with Expedia and generated 14,8590 more tourists, it said.

Greeks target immigrants
as economy takes dive


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the Greek economy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, anger is being directed toward the tens of thousands of immigrants living in the capital, Athens.

Many Greeks blame them for rising crime rates and unemployment. Migrant groups say the authorities often ignore, or even encourage racist attacks against them.

The recent killing of a Greek citizen by an unknown assailant has unleashed a wave of anti-immigrant violence across the city.

Afghan migrants Hafeez, Mohammed and Sahil are studying English at an evening class in Athens. Like hundreds of other foreigners living in Greece, Hafeez was recently targeted by anti-immigrant mobs roaming the streets of Athens. His right eye still bears the scars.

“I was on my way back home from work," he said. "When I was walking along the street, there were about six or seven people coming from the opposite side. When they saw me they didn’t say anything, then when they came near to me they started to beat me. They didn’t say anything, they just started to beat me… on my face, on the back of my head, and all over my body.”

Greece is narrowly close to bankruptcy. Facing soaring unemployment and harsh austerity measures, there is a well of anger building in Greek society. Greece’s foreigners are among its victims.

This anti-immigrant demonstration in Athens earlier this year was one of many to turn violent. Still, the flow of migrants into Greece shows no signs of stopping. Up to 300 people a day try to cross the River Evros that divides Greece and Turkey, to reach the European Union. Detention centers are overwhelmed, so most migrants are released after a couple of days.






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