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These stories were published Monday, July 1, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 128
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OAS will investigate strange arms shipment
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Organization of American States has appointed U.S. diplomat Morris D. Busby to coordinate an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the export and delivery of a huge shipment of weapons and ammunition that originated in Nicaragua.

The shipment that went by boat and bypassed Costa Rica has been characterized as the biggest illegal arms shipment known to have arrived in Colombia. 

Michelle Lescure of World Press Review said in breaking the story in English that the shipment included 7,000 AK-47 rifles and $5 million in ammunition. She reported the story with Eric Jackson, editor of The Panama News, and with help from Journalists Against Corruption, an El Salvador-based group dedicated to uncovering official corruption.

The tale of the shipment is complex, but Ms. Lescure said the guns came from Nicaragua purportedly for use by Panama’s police force but that the shipment was rerouted to the Colombian port city of Turbo and then likely into the hands of the United Colombian Self-Defense militia. This is a rightwing group allied with the Colombian army. The events took place under the noses of Colombia customs agents.

Panamanian officials claim their signatures on the purchase orders were forged and that they never purchased the guns. Originally the guns came from eastern Europe.

The foreign ministers of Nicaragua, Panamá and Colombia wrote OAS Secretary General César Gaviria asking that "the OAS assist our countries in investigating the matter, through the appropriate mechanisms."

The disclosure (http://www.worldpress.org/
Americas/531.cfm) comes at a time of heightened awareness about small arms in Costa Rica.

"The indiscriminate sale and the ease with 

Kalashnikov AK-47 of the Soviet Army

which light and small arms are acquired in 
whatever part of the world constitute the major menace to the security of citizens," said
Elayne Whyte. She is the vice minister of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, the foreign ministry.

She appeared last week before the Comisión de Seguridad de Centroamérica in Nicaragua to report on a December conference held here to discuss the topic.

The conference agreed on cooperation to provide adequate advice to get a better grasp on the importation and exportation, registration and control of arms and the training of police forces. She also supports more transparency in the sale of weapons, according to a foreign ministry report.

Jackson, in a recent edition of the Panamá newspaper, noted that the investigation had a conflict of interest. When Gaviria, a former Colombian president, was commander-in-chief of the Colombian army, the self-defense militia and the army regularly worked together. Each has a dismal human rights records.

Busby, himself, was U.S. ambassador in Colombia, director of the counter-terrorism office and special envoy for Central America, according to the OAS. 

Reporter Lescure said in her article that the money trail for the weapons appears to lead directly back to the coffers of Plan Colombia, a $2 billion sweeping Colombian program designed to end the civil war, curtail narcotics production and trafficking, and stimulate the economy.

But the self-defense militia is heavily involved in the sale of narcotics.

Reader doesn't think ICE is very green
The following report by a reader is in response to an article Friday that said the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad would be more responsive to environmental concerns.

By Andy Gingold 
Refugio de Vida Silvestre de Familia Gingold
Ciudad Colon

We've been fighting ICE to keep them from coming over our Wildlife Refuge with their high voltage/tension lines for several years. We won the case in court — a DEFINITIVE decision, but ICE STILL has a lien on our Refuge in the National Registry and STILL won't settle with us. 

ICE always claims 'national interest' whenever it wants to do something. The court said that a wildlife refuge was ALSO in the 'national interest' and that, if all it took was money to avoid damages to the Refuge and wildlife in that area, ICE was obligated to move the line someplace else. 

That decision was in February of 2001!  Check it out. 

ICE is VERY used to getting whatever it wants, whenever it wants. The court decision/resolution FORCES ICE to respect ALL protected areas everywhere in the country — costing them millions of dollars in preventive measures and changes of plans and planned routes. 

This was a national victory for the 'eco' law firm, ASS. JUSTICIA PARA LA NATURALEZA. ICE is STILL trying to challenge this decision, even though it is not appealable! We have many thousands of dollars in legal fees invested in this mess. 

We can't get a credit card because of the lien (applied to PriceSmart for a card and were turned down even though I have both VISA and AMX cards from the States). 

We have been protecting our finca since 1975 and were given a presidential decree in 1998. We own a part of the last primary forest in the entire Central Plateau! 

We care. ICE doesn't.

Your article mentioned the lake that ICE wants to create in the Southern Zone that will wipe out an Indian area. This is the same thing it wants to do, EXACTLY, on the Pacuare River! The high voltage lines it put up for the INTEL project are constantly running higher voltage than allowed by law. ICE cares NOTHING for the health or well-being of the Costa Ricans — they only care about their bottom line.

A little 'investigative exploring' should make for a powerful series of articles. Are you up for it? 

P.S. The president has yet to respond to the letter attached to this e-mail.

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Canadians
celebrate
their 
day
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is Canada Day, July 1.  The Canadian community celebrated the day Saturday with a picnic that attracted at least 200 persons west of San José.

Canada Day was called Dominion Day until 1982. It marks the July 1, 1867, promulgation of the British North America Act that created the Canadian federal government.

The Canadian Embassy is holding a by-invitation reception today at the Costa Rica Country Club. 

There probably are at least 5,000 Canadians in Costa Rica at any one time. The latest government census put their number at about 3,000, but many are part-time residents due to Canada’s winter climate and the country’s favorable tax treatment for income earned abroad.

Security brokers must
report their suspicions 

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New rules will put the burden on security brokers and dealers to spot suspicious financial transactions by their clients that might be money laundering.

An enforcement office of the Treasury Department has announced the new rule that, starting Jan. 1, will require securities brokers and dealers to report such suspicious transactions.

In a Friday press release, the department said that brokerage houses and other firms will be obliged to report suspicious securities transactions involving at least $5,000 to its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

The final rule requires brokers and dealers in securities to report a transaction if the broker-dealer "knows, suspects, or has reason to suspect" that the transaction falls within one of four classes: done with funds derived from illegal activity, designed to evade the Bank Secrecy Act, intended to further a criminal purpose, or appearing to serve no business lawful purpose, the department said.

Under self-regulatory organization rules brokers and dealers have already been required to establish anti-money laundering programs designed to detect suspicious transactions. The department said the Securities and Exchange Commission will have authority to examine brokers and dealers for compliance with the new rule.

Investigation continues
in thefts of passports

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A San José criminal court has ordered three more months of preventative detention for two men, named Gómez and Alvarez, who face a corruption charge as the result of a theft of passports, according to a spokesman for the judiciary.

Both are under investigation for corruption because they worked as guards at the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, the immigration agency, where the passports were taken.

Some 345 blank passports were taken the night of last Aug. 22. The passports were in a vault, and thieves had to disconnect an alarm system and get through a heavy metal gate, agents said.
 

Liberia man guilty
of pimping daughters

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Liberia man got 12 years in prison last week for pimping and raping his young daughters.

A spokesman for the judiciary identified the man as having the last name of León Loáciga. A tribunal in Libera gave him four years on the pimping charge and eight years on the rape charge.

The spokesman said investigation showed the man ran a prostitution business in Curubandé in Liberia, starting in 1992 when he forced his daughters, then 12 and 14, to have sexual relations with third parties.
 

Schoolgirl’s complaint
does not stand up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A judge in Heredia let go two men who were arrested Thursday when a 10-year-old girl said the pair tried to abduct her.

The girl’s story was she was walking to school about 7 a.m. past the men who were in a car. She got away and ran to the school for help, she said.

A judge determined that the men had not acted in a way that would be described as an attempted abduction. The men are Nicaraguans, ages 34 and 28.

Terrorist linkup
feared in Beltway

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Bush Administration officials have expressed concern over a possible al-Qaida — Hezbollah terrorist alliance. 

The Washington Post newspaper reported Sunday that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network are sharing funding and training. The article quotes U.S. and European intelligence experts. 

Reacting on U.S. television, White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said it would be deeply concerning if the two groups were taking advantage of modern communications to present what she called a united front against American interests. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called on Americans to be extra vigilant during this week's July fourth national holiday celebrations after intelligence reports on non-specific terrorist threats. 

Government officials say the FBI has warned local law-enforcement officials that another terrorist attack is possible on July 4th, when holiday crowds could be an attractive target for terrorists. 

Saturday, a new survey reported that most Americans believe a terrorist attack is likely during the upcoming Independence Day holiday. The poll by Newsweek magazine says 57 percent of those surveyed think a terrorist strike is either very likely or somewhat likely during the July 4th holiday. But 77 percent of those surveyed say they are not changing their holiday plans because of the new threat. 

Crowds of Americans gather to watch fireworks, hear concerts and enjoy picnics on the July 4 holiday, which is traditionally marked by patriotic displays. The holiday comes 10 months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. 

Independence Day commemorates the day in 1776 when 13 former colonies adopted a Declaration of Independence, renounced British rule and proclaimed themselves the United States of America.

Plan to upgrade roads
supported in Merida

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MERIDA, México — Leaders of Mexico and seven Central American countries have agreed to move ahead with a $3.5 billion plan to upgrade highways from southern Mexico to Panama. 

The highway agreement was one of several accords reached at the two-day summit on the Yucatan peninsula. the leaders also agreed to push for interconectivity of the electrical distribution lines.

The leaders met to advance their year-old Puebla-Panama Plan, the brainchild of Mexican President Vicente Fox. President Fox is promoting development in the impoverished region as a way to stem the flow of migrants to the United States. 

The plan aims to link southern Mexico with Central America, improving highways and standardizing customs procedures to stimulate trade. It also seeks to join power grids to lower electricity rates. 

Leaders of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize and Panama attended the summit here. They wrapped up the summit Friday by endorsing a statement condemning terrorism and promising to do more to uphold human rights in the region. 

Chilly climber gets
his 10 cents worth

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A mountaineer stranded in an Andes mountain blizzard is calling his cell phone sales lady a lifesaver. 

Leonardo Diaz was lost on Colombia's Andes mountain range when snow became a blizzard. He tried calling for help on the cell phone he carried in his back pack, but could not because he had used up all of his pre-paid minutes. 

Suddenly, a phone company solicitor called to ask if he would like to buy more time. 

Diaz explained his peril, and insisted it was no joke. The operator alerted rescue teams. Operators took turns telephoning the stranded climber, helping him to fight hypothermia. 

Seven hours after receiving his first call, Diaz was rescued. His rescuers telephoned his cell phone operators to report that he was safe.  Diaz is home, recovering from minor injuries, his cell phone reportedly nearby.
 

It was a GREAT day
for the Brazilians

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

YOHOHAMA, Japan — Brazil has captured another World Cup football championship with a 2-0 victory over Germany here. 

Brazilian striker Ronaldo scored both of his team's goals in the second half here to give his nation its fifth World Cup title.

The first goal came in the 67th minute following a rare blunder by German goalie Oliver Kahn, who had allowed only one goal in the six previous games. But he failed to hold onto a straight shot by Rivaldo as he fell forward, and the ball rolled to Ronaldo who easily kicked it in.

Afterward Kahn said it is tough to handle. "Words of consolation have almost zero effect here," he said. "I'm fully aware that this is the one and only mistake I must have made in the seven matches of the World Cup, and that one mistake was brutally punished."

It indeed changed the nature of the game, as so many first goals do. Germany could no longer afford to pack its defense back so tightly when it needed to try to get the equalizer.

Brazil made it 2-0 in the 79th minute, as Ronaldo struck again off a rolling crossing pass from the right side by Kleberson.

Four years ago when Brazil lost the World Cup final to host France, 3-0, Ronaldo did not play to his potential after becoming ill before the match. He finishes this World Cup as the leading scorer with eight goals and was awarded the Golden Shoe as the tournament's best player.

Ronaldo said it was hard to believe. "I'm so happy. I'm very happy. I'm touched," said Ronaldo. "I think we played a great game. We brought joy to millions of people, and I think it will take some time for me to see and figure out what happened, but I'm sure that it all will be surrounded by happiness."

And Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said once his players reached the final, he would not let them think about anything but winning the trophy. "We always had in our minds that to be second is to be a loser," he said. "And we had all the time this mentality of being first. It's marvelous, it's marvelous the feeling that I feel now. It's simply marvelous. And I want mainly to say to the people of Brazil, do not forget the images of those boys, playing, enjoying, winning and bringing the cup back home."

Losing German coach Rudi Voeller gave credit to the winners of the 2002 World Cup. "There's no doubt about this that Brazil deserved to be world champions," he said. "They showed it not just today but in other games as well. They're very good, very strong going forward. They're a tough team for anybody to play. They're big. They're fast. They have a good goalkeeper, and we can only pay them a compliment as world champions."

Brazilians are wildly celebrating their team's victory over Germany. The celebrations in Brazil are expected to go on into today.

"Penta-Campeao" ("five-time champion") chanted the huge crowd watching the match at an outdoor bar as the game against Germany drew toward its end with Brazil ahead, 2-0.

The crowd had been tense during the scoreless first half and many feared Brazil might go down to defeat again as it did in the 1998 Cup finals against France. But when Ronaldo scored the first goal in the middle of the second half, people jumped and cheered for joy, waving the yellow and green Brazilian flag and calling for more. They got their wish with Ronaldo's second goal and with victory certain, the partying began.

Paulo Roberto da Gama Pereira, wearing the canary yellow shirt of the Brazilian team, had clutched a rosary for most of the game, pressing the beads to his lips as he prayed for victory. When it came, tears came into his eyes. "It's ours, it's ours," he yelled. "The suffering we've gone through since France is now over and now we can celebrate. We've won the title for the fifth time."

The celebrations are likely to last through today, if as expected, the government declares a national holiday.

Fourth time a charm,
Brazilian leftist hopes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil's leftist Workers Party has officially named Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva as its candidate for the Oct. 6 presidential election.

The party convention here also endorsed Jose Alencar of the conservative Liberal Party as da Silva's runningmate, hoping to win broader support from Brazilian voters.

Da Silva, who calls himself "Lula," did not outline his campaign platform, Saturday. But he promised to fight corruption, improve education and wipe out what he calls hunger and misery. 

This is da Silva's fourth run at the Brazilian presidency. He currently leads the government supported candidate, Jose Serra in the latest polls. But some Brazilians worry that da Silva would increase government spending and further harm Brazil's shaky economy.

Jimmy Carter plans
Venzuelan journey

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

ATLANTA, Ga. — The Carter Center says former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will travel to Venezuela late this week in an effort to promote democracy and political dialogue there.

A statement issued Saturday says a five-member team from the Carter Center completed an assessment mission to Venezuela and determined that Venezuelan officials have a "deep commitment to democracy." 

The Carter Center says Venezuelans support a peaceful resolution to the country's political divisions and former President Carter will meet with Venezuelan officials during the mission, set for July 6 through the 10, to address these issues. 

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was ousted in April during a short-lived military coup. He reclaimed power two days later and has since called for a national dialogue on the problems facing the oil-rich country.

Many political and business leaders have rejected the offer, saying they do not believe the Venezuelan leader is willing to accept change. 

Former President Carter has promoted democracy and human rights during numerous international and domestic missions. He recently returned from Cuba, where he was the first former or sitting U.S. president to visit the island since Fidel Castro took power in 1959.

Clinton in Colombia
seeking end to war

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is in this port city to discuss ways the private sector can help the country resolve its long civil war.

Under heavy security, Clinton was met at the airport, late Friday, by President Andres Pastrana. The two are scheduled to address the conference.

This is Clinton's second trip to Cartagena. Two years ago he met with President Pastrana at the colonial port city to inaugurate "Plan Colombia," an ambitious anti-drug effort funded in part with nearly $2 billion of U.S. aid.

Popular spermicide
doesn’t kill viruses

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The World Health Organization is warning that Nonoxynol-9, an ingredient in over-the-counter spermidcides, does not help prevent HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases and could even increase the risk of contracting disease.

The finding announced Friday puts an end to the hope that nonoxynol-9 might help prevent disease. Some data produced in the 1970s and 1980s indicated that the product inactivated the organisms that cause sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea and chlamydial infections.

"Nonoxynol-9 clearly does not prevent HIV infection and may even favor infection if used frequently," said Dr Tomris Türmen, executive director of Family and Community Health the World Health Organization. "There is an urgent need to develop a microbicide which can substantially reduce the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and which can be used by women."

Scientists are working on about 60 microbicide compounds that may show promise for the prevention of disease transmission, said the health organization. 

Bolivia’s presidency
likely left to congress

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Early exit polls show a former president and a one-time military commander leading this South American country's tight presidential race. 

The latest polls give candidate Manfred Reyes Villa and former Bolivian president and pro-market reformer Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada about 22 per cent of the vote. 

Since none of Bolivia's 11 presidential candidates is expected to gain the 50 percent majority needed to secure the presidency, the country's new congress will elect Bolivia's next leader from among the top two candidates. 

They will have to decide before Aug. 6 when Bolivia's next president must assume a new five-year post.  Results are also coming in for the 157 parliamentary seats voted for in Sunday’s election. 


 
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