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These stories were published Wednesday, July 14, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 138
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Sex scandal in Catholic Church starts to grow
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When you walk through the residential streets of San José at night sometimes you hear the murmuring of prayers coming from a nearby living room. Perhaps the sound is a hymn. 

These informal meetings, perhaps to mark the anniversary of a death, are for a handful of participants to say the rosary. This shows the deep roots of Catholicism here.

More evidence can be found on even the desk of the most hardened police agent. A small Bible sits there handy.

And when a young woman stands in a bank line, she sometimes will be reading religious commentaries instead of pulp fiction.

But a growing scandal in the Roman Catholic Church here is about to test the faith of the faithful.  The claim so far is that a priest was molesting altar boys for years and a bishop was instrumental in helping the man evade justice.

The nation’s prosecutorial arm, the Ministerio Público, is investigating the bishop, the Rev. Ángel San Casimiro of San Carlos, who said on television that he did not disclose the whereabouts of the priest to police authorities.

The priest involved is the Rev. Enrique Vásquez Vargas, who was believed captured Tuesday in Nicaragua for presumed extradition to Costa Rica. He has been in flight for six years and entered Nicaragua July 1 from Honduras.

The situation resembles the early stages of the scandal that swept the Catholic Church in the United States.

Casa Alianza is searching actively for victims. The child welfare organization came out with a press release Tuesday that said a former altar boy, now 23, has come forward with a story of molestation when he was 11.

The press release alleged that the altar boy said in a legal declaration that not only did Father Vásquez molest him when the priest was 

stationed in the boy’s hometown of Orotina but that other priests were involved. Casa Alianza named two other priests and said the former altar boy claims he was molested by both while on trips with Father Vásquez.

Casa Alianza said molestations by priests happened in Orotina, Jacó, San Ramón and San Carlos when Father Vásquez was stationed in those communities and that others were thinking of coming forward to file complaints.

The Catholic Church in the United States has been paying millions in compensation to people who said priests molested them and the church did nothing. Several ranking church officials have been reassigned.

A Texas newspaper reported on the case of Father Vásquez last month. The newspaper said a Catholic cardinal in Honduras who may become the next pope gave sanctuary to the priest from Costa Rica.

The newspaper is the Dallas Morning News which had published a multi-part series on the way Catholic and Anglican church officials handle wayward priests.

Father Vásquez fled this country in 1998 in the face of claims he repeatedly molested another altar boy.

The priest ended up in Güinope, a small Honduran town in the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa. The newspaper said the head of the diocese, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez, declined to be interviewed. Father Vásquez left the area shortly after his identity was confirmed.

The newspaper said no arrest warrant had been issued for the priest until recently. Casa Alianza took credit in a separate release for getting a warrant approved this March.

The priest worked in two places in the United States after he left Costa Rica. Father Vásquez was a priest in the Santa Rosa de Lima Parish in Buenos Aires de Pocosol, according to the newspaper. That parish is under the jurisdiction Bishop San Casimiro.


 
Country braces for heavy storm system from the south
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A strong weather front is moving northwest from the Caribbean coast in Panama and was expected to hit Costa Rica some time this morning.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional issued a warning Tuesday evening based on reports 

from the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

The weather system was moving from east to west at about 30 kms. per hour or about 19 mph.  It brings atmospheric instability mostly to the north of Costa Rica, including the northern Pacific coast, the weather bureau said.
A satellite photo showed heavy storms off the Panamanian coast.

 
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Some mail-order brides are abused, Senate told
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. _ U.S. lawmakers Tuesday heard testimony about the plight of so-called "mail order brides," women from other countries who marry American men whom they met through international marriage brokers. While many women find the love and happiness they seek, others find themselves victims of violence and prostitution. 

Marriage brokers, for-profit companies that operate solely to connect men and women of different countries with the intent of getting married, have seen an explosive growth in business.

In 1999, the Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioned a study that found that more than 200 international marriage brokers were operating around the globe, arranging between 4,000 and 6,000 marriages between American men and foreign women every year. 

Today, experts put the number of international marriage brokers at nearly 500 worldwide. The experts estimate that there are between 20,000 and 30,000 women who have entered the United States using an international marriage broker in the last five years. 

Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington State, has been looking into the phenomenon of "mail order brides", and has found troubling trends. 

While a number of such women find happy lives in the United States, others are not so fortunate. "Tragically, it is becoming apparent that there is a growing epidemic of domestic violence abuse among couples who met via international marriage brokers," she said. 

"Immigrant groups and women advocacy groups across the country report seeing an increase in the number of those who are seeking to escape physical abuse from husbands they met through international marriage brokers. In several cases the abuse progressed to murder."  Ms. Cantwell testified before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee. 

Chairman Sam Brownback of Kansas was clearly troubled by what he heard. "This is one of the dark clouds of globalization," he said. 

Sen. Cantwell said women meeting their husbands through marriage brokers frequently have little opportunity to get to know their prospective spouse, or assess the potential for violence. They also have little knowledge of their rights as victims of domestic violence in the United States, even if they are not yet citizens or permanent residents. 

John Miller, director of the Trafficking in Persons Office at the State Department, said women are often recruited by marriage brokers, either directly or through family members, mail, newspapers or the internet. He says there is often a cash payment involved. 

Miller said many of the women, who often come from poor economic circumstances, believe the opportunity could give them a brighter future. 

"We know from rural villages in Asia, slums in major South American cities, women are deceived into leaving their homes and traveling across international borders in the hopes of marrying men who can provide them with better lives," he said. 

But Miller says frequently these women find abuse, whether they go to the United States or elsewhere. 

He cited reports indicating extensive trafficking in women from Vietnam to Taiwan, where they marry Taiwanese men who then sell them to brothels. 

Donna Hughes, professor of Women's Studies at the University of Rhode Island, is not surprised by such reports. 

"A number of the marriage agency websites have links to pornographic websites and prostitution services, so it is easy to see how the intersections of these two types of services would enable the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women," she said. 

In an effort to improve the plight of such women in the United States, Sen. Cantwell has introduced legislation that would better inform women entering the country about whether their prospective spouse has a history of domestic violence or a criminal background. It would also provide them with information about their legal rights if they find themselves in abusive relationships.


 
Vannessa Ventures 
seeks arbitration

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Vannessa Ventures Ltd. said Tuesday that it has submitted a request to begin international arbitration against the government of Venezuela.

The request has been filed with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, D.C., the company president, John Morgan, said in a press release.

The company says its rights to develop the Las Cristinas gold deposit located in Bolivar State, Venezuela, have been expropriated. The rights to develop the property are held by a 95 percent-owned subsidiary of Vannessa de Venezuela.

Vannessa also is the developer of an open pit gold mine in northern Costa Rica.

In the filing, Vannessa claims that Venezuela breached an investment treaty with Canada. The company is based in Calgary, Canada.

Vannessa said it wants the development rights back, plus $50 million in damages or it will settle for $1 billion, which includes lost profits of $885 million.

The company also is engaged in a dispute over its Costa Rican property, and President Abel Pacheco announced in June 2002 that he was banning open pit mining. The company continues to appeal and says that it had an agreement here that predates Pacheco’s edict.

The international center is the same World Bank organization that some creditors of Luis Enrique Villalobos’ failed high interest scheme have approached to seek damages against Costa Rica for failing to protect them.

Pair shoot at police
in Limón standoff

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men fired at and then held off police for nearly three and a half hours Tuesday in Barrio Cristóbal Colón, Limón.

Finally police wounded one of the men as he tried to flee the family home where the two, brothers, had barricaded themselves.

No policemen were injured, but one brother, 25, suffered a bullet wound in the arm and was hospitalized at Hospital Tony Facio in Limón. Both men have the last names of Mc Murray Hall.

Police said the owner of the home, the mother of the brothers, complained that the two were doing damage there, so officers arrived to restore order. They were met with gunshots and withdrew, they said.

More than 15 policemen surrounded the home during the standoff, which was from about 8:30 a.m. to noon. A Judicial Investigating Organization negotiator was called in.

After the second brother, 20, surrendered police found weapons in the house including a 12-gauge homemade shotgun, the said.
 

Fishing boat missing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Marine officials are seeking a fishing boat that left Limón Monday en route to Isla Uvita.

The craft faces rapidly worsening weather. Three men are aboard.

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas had a plane up Tuesday and boats on the Caribbean looking for the craft without success.

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Is Imperial a good test for free trade with U.S.?
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The company that makes Imperial beer has decided to seek a little market share in the United States. This has been hailed as a triumph of Costa Rican exportation.


Analysis on the news


The parent company, Florida Ice & Farm has a reputation here of being a strong protector of its turf. Wait until corporate officials get up close and personal with Joe Coors, Miller Brewing, the Pabst family and Anheuser-Busch.

They make beer, too. In fact, Anheuser-Busch is the largest producer in the world. Coors operates the world’s largest brewery. And the country is populated densely with brewpubs and smaller enterprises.

Costa Rican beer executives might consider their 

shipment of a container of Imperial into southern California as largely symbolic. Some beer drinkers with fond memories of Costa Rica are sure to buy it.

However, Imperial has failed to generate the type of following that, for example, the Colorado-based Coors had in the early 1970s. That was when tourists were smuggling cases of Coors to the East Coast where the then-regional brewery had no outlets.

At a sendoff to the beer, President Abel Pacheco said that the shipment to California showed that "Costa Rica is a country capable of competing."

Pacheco continued with praise of the proposed free trade treaty with the United States. But as with nearly all official comments on the trade treaty, the concept always is Costa Rica exporting more. 

Nothing is said about the possibility of 50 container loads of Budweiser hitting the San José-Jaco market.


 
El Salvador's Saca will send more troops to Iraq
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New Salvadoran President Elias Antonio Saca says his country plans to send additional troops to Iraq next month to work on the reconstruction and humanitarian effort there. 

After meeting President George Bush in Washington Monday for the first time since Saca took office June 1, the Salvadorian official told reporters his country cannot abandon the effort in Iraq "when a solution is on its way." 

El Salvador currently has about 370 troops stationed near Najaf. 

President Bush thanked his Salvadoran counterpart for his strong support in rebuilding Iraq. 

El Salvador is the last Latin American country with a contingent in Iraq. The Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras have withdrawn troops. 

In a briefing the day after the Bush-Saca meeting, Roger Noriega said that the concluded free trade talks were also discussed. Noriega is assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs.

The State Department official said that Bush is completely committed to securing confirmation of the U.S.-Central American trade agreement that he believes will be beneficial to all parties.

"It is very important to establish this agreement to expand economic opportunity for our people in the United States and for Salvadorans, as well," Noriega said.

The Bush administration hopes for bipartisan congressional approval of the trade pact, Noriega added. After consultations with U.S. congressional leaders, it appears that securing support for the agreement will be more likely following the November elections in the United States, he explained.


 
Zoellick issues warning to poor countries infexible on free trade
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick warned a group representing the world's poorest countries that, unless they chose more flexible positions, the long-stalled World Trade Organization negotiations could collapse again.

In remarks Monday at the G-90 trade ministers' meeting in Mauritius, Zoellick said the United States remained willing to consider giving developing countries some special protections from imports, decided case by case.

Negotiators realistically have only until the World Trade Organization General Council meeting at the end of July, he said, to establish a framework for completing the negotiations, formally called the Doha Development Agenda, or risk final failure. Zoellick traveled the globe to help revive the negotiations after they collapsed at the ministers' September 2003 meeting in Cancun, Mexico.

"And if we fail again — because we did fail the last time — I do not know for sure what will happen to the Doha Development Agenda," Zoellick said. "I do not know whether it will be revived."

Agriculture remains the most contentious issue, as it has been since the negotiations were launched in 2001. 

The United States has been insisting that developing countries must open their markets to agricultural imports in return for wealthy countries eliminating export subsidies and sharply reducing domestic support for agriculture.

Yet as recently as July 11, members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries issued a draft negotiating position essentially rejecting any commitments to open their agricultural markets or to make any other reforms in agriculture. The 79-member group represents the largest bloc in the G-90.

The U.S. trade representative, urging developing countries to open their markets to imports of industrial goods and services, asked them to consider the potential benefits of such a move to their own exports.

"We need to figure out how to limit the burden on countries but not limit the opportunities of countries," Zoellick said.


 
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Persistence finally pays off for tropical birdwatcher
By the Louisiana State University 
News Service

For almost four years, Daniel Lane was haunted by the memory of an unusual, yellowish bird. He and an associate caught a glimpse of it while bird watching in Peru. They even recorded some of its song. Right away, they knew it was something new. Something different.

Now, thanks to Lane, a specimen of that bird — previously unknown to science — rests in a Lima museum and it will soon bear a name of Lane's choosing. As the discoverer of what could be a new species or, perhaps, a new genus, Lane will also be the first to author a scientific description of the bird.

The process will take some time, but, for someone who says his interest in birds began when he was "3 or 4," it's all a labor of love.

Lane, a New Jersey native is a research associate for the Louisana State University Museum of Natural Science, He says his quest for the mystery bird dates back to 2000. As a part-time international bird-watching tour guide, Lane was one of the leaders of a group near the Manu National Park in Peru. He and fellow guide Gary Rosenberg spotted the bird along one of the park's major roads. Unfortunately, almost as soon as it was there, it was gone and no one else in the group had seen it.

The bird remained in Lane's mind as he returned to lead tours in the area for the next few years, but it didn't reappear.

"After three years, I was starting to doubt my sanity," said Lane.

Then, last year, the pair finally saw it again, and this time, the rest of the group saw it as well. They were also able to make a lengthy recording of its song, a critical part of ornithological study. Nevertheless, they were unable to obtain a specimen and, therefore, remained reticent about announcing their find.

Determined to obtain the proof he needed of his find, Lane returned to the region last November and played the recording of the bird's song. His attempt to attract his quarry failed and he once again went home empty-handed. Then, last month, Lane and some cohorts were in Peru conducting other field work when they made spur-of-the-moment plans to give it one more try.

After obtaining permission from the proper authorities, Lane and his group set off on their mission. On the morning of June 9, the playing of 

Louisiana State University drawing
Artist’s representation of the bird discovered during expedition to Peru.

the taped song worked and the bird appeared, coming to rest in some nearby bamboo, just off the road. After observing and playing "cat and mouse" with the bird for almost an hour, Lane finally got his specimen.

Lane explained that the bird is likely a tanager, a type of songbird found mostly in tropical regions of the Americas. He describes it as having a short, bushy crest and olive back, wings and tail that contrast with a burnt orange crown. For now, the specimen is in the keeping of the National Museum in Lima where it will become the "type," the specimen on which the species' description is based and against which all others will be compared. Eventually, it will be sent to Lane so that he can write the scientific description and record his observations and its DNA will be tested to determine its specific relationship to other birds.

However long it takes, Lane is understanding of the pace of science. He's been in a similar situation before. In 1996, while on another expedition in Peru, he discovered the Scarlet-banded Barbet, a small, colorful toucan-like bird. And besides, he says, it feels good to know that he was sane after all.


 
Nearly $1 billion is estimated to rebuild Haiti
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The World Bank here says it needs pledges of more than $900 million in aid for Haiti. 

A rebel uprising earlier this year in Haiti caused the president to flee and the country to slide into anarchy. A multinational peacekeeping force restored order.

Now, an interim Haiti government has developed an economic recovery program that has won support from the United States, the European Union and World Bank. 

Caroline Anstey, the World Bank's country director for the Caribbean, says the new government is determined to create 35,000 new jobs by September. Most of the jobs will be in public works, such as clearing away garbage and repairing roads.

"I think that the government is very committed to making sure that by the time schools open in September children can go to school, they can have books, they can have uniforms, that hot meals are available," she said. "They are committed to a rapid employment program between now and September." 

Ms. Anstey says progress has been made in this capital, which has electricity for nine hours a day instead of the two hours it was available just three months ago.

Haiti's development needs are enormous, but its capacity to absorb assistance is limited. Like many developing countries, previous aid programs were largely ineffective as money was stolen or never made its way to hungry people. 

Donors provided Haiti with $2.5 billion during the previous decade.  Ms. Anstey says the goals now are more modest and donors have learned from past mistakes. She believes there is a window of opportunity in Haiti before parliamentary and presidential elections next year and in 2006.

Barbara Szaszkiewicz of the Inter-American Development Bank says her multilateral institution has invested $300 million in Haiti, adding:

"What we have done with this support is not only implement our program, but open and pave the way for a broader donor re-engagement and keep the institutions running until the additional support from this important new initiative arrives." 

Two thirds of Haiti's eight million people live in poverty. Life expectancy is only 53 years and per capita income is $353 a year.

Meanwhile, Haitian police and government officials have given armed rebels and militants loyal to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide two months to lay down their arms. 

Those who don't disarm by the Sept. 15 deadline will face arrest. The September deadline allows time for the factions to comply, while giving the police force time to strengthen itself. 

Meanwhile, Brazilian officials are also looking to help Haiti disarm. They recently announced Brazil's national football team will play an exhibition match against Haiti here, probably Aug. 18. 

Instead of paying for tickets to see the match, fans will exchange firearms for entry.  Brazil's so-called "football diplomacy" is expected to be a success, as Brazilian soccer is very popular in Haiti.


 
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