A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language news source
Monday through Friday

Classified ads 
at the speed of LIGHT!
 
Click Here
These stories were published Monday, Aug. 4, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 152
Home
Travel
Calendar
Jo Stuart
Classifieds
Letters
 Food
About us
Photo by Art Smiley 
Winner in People category of our photo contest
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The winner in the People category of the A.M. Costa Rica 2003 Photo Contest is Art Smiley, who submitted a photo of men using oxen to prepare a field for planting. The photo was taken in mid-December close to Bevedero, Smiley said in his submission.

Judges said that the photo would have been competitive in the scenic category, too.

Both the Scenic category and the People category are available for reader inspection.

Frank Scott, one of the judges, is a Canadian who lives year-round in Costa Rica. As a nature photographer he has traveled throughout Canada and the United States, including Alaska. 

He has extensive professional qualifications. Scott is well-known to visitors because he conducts photo tours of Costa Rica.

Sarah Hogan, another judge, is a writer and a former newspaper and magazine editor in Colorado and Kansas. She, too, is a professional photographer, who now lives in Greybull, Wyo.

Saray Ramírez Vindas, the chief judge, is well-known to readers of A.M. Costa Rica for her professional news photography and penetrating news reports from the streets of San José. She is one of the owners of the newspaper.

Winners in two more categories of the photo contest, Wildlife and Sports, are yet to be announced. Look for stories soon.

D.C. visitors help with saving the titi monkeys
By Andrew Work*

There has been much action over here at Kids Saving The Rainforest, including the invasion of the Gringos. 

Some 13 North American high school students swept in from the Maret School in Washington, D.C., during July, and we are looking forward to helping out Janine Licare-Andrews (one of the founders of Kids Saving the Rainforest) and her crew up here at their headquarters, The Hotel Mono Azul. 


A personal report


We are also attending school in the morning at the Colegio Ecoturistico del Pacifico. Our stay runs into mid-August, so feel free to come by one afternoon and get a good kick out of us trying to speak Spanish!

Here at Kids Saving the Rainforest we are working on many projects, including reforestation, building monkey bridges (yes, monkey bridges!), working with rehabilitating sloths and other animals, educating people in Manuel Antonio National Park about how to treat the monkeys (don’t feed the monkeys!) and making postcards and bookmarks to sell in the store. 

We also are answering e-mails of people that have just read the Teen Magazine Back To School 2003 Issue, that lists Janine as the first of 10 kids who are changing the world, just to name a few. We are all very determined to help Janine here in Costa Rica.

The mission here at Kids Saving the Rainforest is simple: preserve and nurture the rainforest so that our children’s children’s children will be able to enjoy what we are able to enjoy now. All of these projects mentioned above are small 

steps that we are taking to help Kids Saving the Rainforest reach its goal. 

Within the rainforest, the titi monkeys are one of the main focuses of everyone involved in Kids Saving the Rainforest. They are on the endangered species list, as there are only 1,200 left in the world. 

As you might have guessed, all of them are located in the Manuel Antonio area. The monkey bridges provide them with a safe way to cross roads so that they may expand their habitat and breed. These bridges reduce the risk of the titi monkeys getting hit by a car or getting electrocuted on a power line. The projects within the National Park involve spreading the word that feeding the monkeys not only isn’t permitted but harms them as well. The bacteria on a human hand can kill these fragile tree hoppers. And if you want a pet, leave the monkeys alone and go get a dog!

There are many ways you can help Kids Saving the Rainforest. You can adopt a tree for $20, sponsor a monkey bridge for $75, or come to the Mono Azul and help the cause by buying some of the beautiful crafts, t-shirts, furniture, or hand-made postcards that the Kids Saving the Rainforest gift shop has to offer. 

Best of all, you can stop by and lend a hand. Even if you are the non-Spanish speaking, vacationing Gringo, come out to Kids Saving the Rainforest at the Mono Azul Hotel and help Janine help the community while having fun running around in Manuel Antonio’s beautiful rainforest. 

For more info contact: Janine@kidssavingtherainforest.org,
www.kidssavingtherainforest.org or 777 2592. 

*The writer is a student at the Maret School in Washington, D.C.

Subscribe
to
our daily
digest
Search
our site
Check out
tourism
reports
Send us
a
news story
Visit our
Classified
ads
Visit our
tourism
ads
Visit our
real estate
ads
Listing
of Villalobos
stories
Display ad info

Classified
info

Contact
us
Our 
stats

 
We know Customs!
American-Tico-owned firm

Autos, containers, crates
DOOR TO DOOR

Commercial and Personal 
Import and Export 
xxx
Perry Edwards {Amer} Zinnia Stewart {CR}
Port Limon Agency 
(bonded & licensed)
(506) 758-2022/2062

ptolimonagency@racsa.co.cr
LIVE  Fresh flowers  from our farm to your door !

Get better flowers and save with us!
Free delivery in San José area and  in all of Costa Rica, 
the U.S.A. and Canada for a small charge! Details:
Assorted flower bouquet  $ 17.95       www.floralexpresscr.com          Large rose bouquet  $29.95
We now accept
other currencies

A.M. Costa Rica is now able to deal in four more important world currencies, thanks to its association with Pay Pal.

Until now, the newspaper accepted payment internationally in U.S. dollars. Colons were accepted in Costa Rica. However, now the newspaper will accept Canadian dollars, euros, pounds sterling and yen via Pay Pal.


Call now!
653-0103
10¢ / minute!!
 to call the U.S.!
 Not a call-back 
 service, no computer 
 required, automatic
 direct dial.  Easy, 
 great quality, local
 support.

www.MyCheapChat.
com

NEW! 
How to live, 
invest or find
romance in
 Costa Rica

Order Now HERE!


 
All sides are optimistic on free trade negotiations
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Negotiations to create a free-trade agreement between the United States and five Central American nations are progressing, said Regina Vargo, assistant U.S. trade representative for the Americas.

Speaking Friday at the conclusion of the sixth round of Central American Free Trade Area negotiations, Vargo said that the U.S. Senate's approval of U.S. free-trade agreements with Chile and Singapore last week put "a good wind in the sail" of the negotiators from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States assembled in New Orleans for the week. And already, she added, progress has been made in many areas.

Vargo said that market-access discussions continue to be "valuable and productive" and will lay the foundation for the exchange of new offers. She noted that talks on the subjects of customs administration and electronic commerce were particularly successful, indicating that negotiations in these areas "advanced significantly" with only final reviews needed on the subjects.

Costa Rica's chief trade negotiator in New Orleans, 

Anabel Gonzalez, echoed Vargo's positive assessment of the talks.

"We have begun to see the fruits of our work this week," she said. "We still have a lot of work ahead, but we are on the right track."

Ms. Gonzalez and El Salvador's chief negotiator, Eduardo Ayala Grimaldi, both emphasized the fundamental importance of enhancing Central America's ability to better benefit from free trade as part of the negotiation process.

Trade capacity-building, Ayala Grimaldi explained, "allows us to strengthen areas where we need it. It is vital to allow us to accept the challenges of globalization. . . ."

To assist in bolstering the region's trade capacity, New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin announced that the city will establish the CAFTA Trade Capacity Building Institute. He said the institute will be a think tank where government and business officials from Central America could come to prepare for the changes the pact will bring.

The next round of free trade talks are to be held in Managua, Nicaragua, and negotiators have said they hope to finalize the pact by the end of 2003.


 
 
One pilgrim dies
in vehicle mishap

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One pilgrim died when he was hit by a car and died early Saturday, and some 28 persons were arrested on a variety of charges Friday and Saturday.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública gave an outline of events during the pilgrimage to the Basilica of La Virgen de Los Angeles in Cartago. More than a million persons walked the distance.

Dead is Ricardo Fayner Madrigal, who was hit by a car in San  Pedro de  Montes de Oca about 1:30 a.m. Saturday. He was walking from Tibás where he was employed.

Police grabbed one person who was accused of selling pornographic cards in the public right-of-way.

Others were arrested on drug charges or fighting. Police confiscated 46 crack rocks, 25 grams of marijuana and two marijuana cigarettes.

Some 1,100 police officers were on the job overnight to protect the pilgrims.

The Virgin, La Negrita, is the country’s patroness.

Both murder suspects
are dead by suicide

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men, principal suspects in different murders, have died by their own hand.

The first is Ramón Garita Garita, 45. He was in Hospital México where he was being treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was the only suspect in the killing of his former girlfriend, Marta Iris Sánchez Chinchilla, 29, and her companion, Pedro Sosa Orozco, 19, in Barrio La Pascua in Quepos early Thursday.

The second man, Carlos Corrales Picado, was found floating in an inlet on the east shore of the Osa Peninsula Saturday. He was the object of a massive manhunt after three children died and a man was seriously wounded Wednesday evening in Puerto Escondido.

Corrales went on a shooting spree in which he hunted down two 15-year-olds and killed them at different places. Then he confronted a neighbor, killed the man’s child, just three years and 11 months old, and then shot the man.

Corrales fled, but investigators said that he must have killed himself with a bullet to the head not long after the murders.

Suspect jailed in death

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A judge in Quepos has jailed an Italian with the last name of Robercio for investigation in the murder of taxi driver Rafael Enrique Chacón Barboza, who died Tuesday in an apparent robbery attempt. The suspect was found wounded nearby by police. He will be jailed for at least six months while the investigation proceeds.

Valley man died in sea

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 34-year-old Coronado resident died about 11:45 a.m. Saturday off Playa Bejucal near Parrita when he vanished beneath the waves. Rescue workers recovered his body about two hours later. He was identified as Cesar Ballestero Umaña.

Possible murder victim found

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nude body of a woman believed to be about 25 years old was found in a small park in Los Guido in Desamparados, according to police. Investigators are treating the case as a homicide.

Stowaways grabbed in Limón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Six Hondurans and two Colombians have been detained in Puerto Limón as stowaways attempting to enter the country, according to the Fuerza Pública which made the arrests early Sunday.

Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Lawyers

Arcelio Hernandez, Lic.

Attorney at Law
Real Estate Transactions
Family and Criminal Litigation

Member: Costa Rican Chamber of Real Estate Brokers
Colegio de Abogados
Official Translators Association

e-mail: legalxpt@racsa.co.cr                 P.O. Box 947-2400
www.forovial.com                                  San Jose, Costa Rica
Cell: 365-3088
Fax 259-7197



Lang & Asociados
ATTORNEYS AT LAW

HENRY LANG
J.D. UNIVERSITY OF COSTA RICA LAW SCHOOL
LL.M. HARVARD LAW SCHOOL

REAL ESTATE LAW — IMMIGRATION
INCORPORATION AND CORPORATE LAW
INVESTMENT PROJECTS — TRADEMARKS

English, French, Italian Spoken

Telephone (506) 204-7871
FAX (506) 204-7872
info@langcr.com
www.langcr.com


Adolfo Rojas Breedy
Breedy Abogados S.A.
—Attorneys-at-Law—

Since 1957. Best experience in:

• Real Estate Transfer of Title and Title Search
• Business • Investments
• Commercial & Civil Litigation
• Corporate Law & finance
• Capital markets Law • International Taxation

(506) 233-7203/221-0230       breedy@racsa.co.cr
Web page:  www.breedy.com


INVESTMENT RECOVERY CENTER

Learn how to best protect your interests in the Villalobos case. Explore your options at
http://www.irccr.net

Also, we invite you to join one of the most active discussion groups on the case.  Find out what people who care are saying. Join at irccr-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

232-8/16/03

Real estate agents


MARGARET SOHN
formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican real estate experience
Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000 
Member, Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce
samargo@racsa.co.cr
www.realtorcostarica.com
(506) 232-5016 home   (506) 233-8057 office  (506) 382-7399 cell 
229-8/9/03


Web Design



Personalized Web Design
•Hosting •Promotion •Logo Design
Prices so reasonable they will astound you
Call for a quote:  220-4602
www.alegria-webdesign.com
We have over 12 years international experience
214-7/14/03
Talks likely for university and Radio for Peace
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The University for Peace has asked to negotiate with Radio for Peace International to defuse a growing legal battle over the presence of the radio station on the university’s Ciudad Colón campus.

Luis A. Varela Quirós, a lawyer working for the university, sent a letter to Rodrigo Carazo Odio, the former Costa Rican president who also is a former president of the University for Peace, a United Nations affiliate.

Varela said that he hoped to met Aug. 11 to begin negotiations with the radio station. Carazo has supported the radio station.

The Radio for Peace International is a separate non-profit organization that raises its own funds and built its own building on the university campus. On July 21, Varela, in the name of the university, gave the station two weeks to leave.

The radio station, in turn, went over the head of Martin Lees, university rector, last weekend and sought support from the 17-member University for Peace Council, the organization’s supreme authority. Members come from many countries. Some 10 members are named by the secretary general of the United Nations.

Radio for Peace officials believe that the council 

was unaware of the eviction effort by Rector Lees.

James Latham, chief executive officer of the shortwave radio station, said in a letter that he, too, hoped that people can co-exist peacefully and solve their differences without resorting to force. The text of the letter to Lees was made public.

"Furthermore," said Latham, "we condemn the hostile acts of your employees; specifically the padlocking of our independent main access gates, effectively impeding entrance and exit to workers in their everyday transit to work."

Radio for Peace International spokesmen said they were not exactly sure that Varela has the power to order an eviction because he showed no credentials and the eviction notice was not signed by Lees. Varela said in his letter that the university would take no legal action while negotiations are taking place.

The university has said, and the station agrees, that the university is owed money. The radio station is an international voice supporting the United Nations. It has been transmitting programs on peace, social justice and human rights issues since 1987, the station notes.

Arcelio Hernández, a San José lawyer, is representing the radio station in the dispute.

We are counting on some funny stories
It's time to tickle that funnybone if you have one
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is a land of contradictions, and contradiction is one of the chief concepts of humor.

So now is a time to gently explore our foibles in the mid-winter humor contest sponsored by A.M. Costa Rica marking the second birthday of our Internet daily newspaper.  (Yes, it is "winter’ in Costa Rica.)

Send your humorous writings for publication to:

editor@amcostarica.com

Make your fellow readers laugh and win great prizes, such as:

• water skiing at Lake Poas.

• annual subscriptions to A.M. Costa Rica

• sunbathing expeditions to the sand dunes of Quepos

• Whale-watching expeditions at the patio of the Gran Hotel Costa Rica

• A night of guaro excess with the A.M. Costa Rica editor (your treat).

Any money prizes will be paid in post-dated checks.

We expect to have some famous judges. At least we will have judges.

 

Consider the possibilities:

• The Escazú Witch Project
• Fear and Loathing in Santa Ana
• Waiting for Enrique
• How Would You like to be President for a Day?
• The Attack of the 100-foot-tall ICE
• The Return of the Arias.
• The Taxista Always Rings Twice
• Mr. Smith Goes to Arbitration

But you can do better than that. The important thing is to be funny. You can use satire or straight humor. But you must write about Costa Rica. (George Bush is out. We can’t make this too easy.)

Your stories can be true, but exaggeration is a tool of humor. We will publish the good ones as fiction.

Some people say our readers cannot possibly top what really has been happening in Costa Rica. But we have faith.

Our second birthday is Aug. 15, and that’s the deadline.

Now some folks will be upset with us, thinking that we are picking on them. These are the folks who are humorously challenged. Why should we take the credit for them being so funny? Nevertheless, if you wish to send us hate mail or death threats, please do not clog up the editor’s mailbox like before. Send your hate mail or death threats to:

threats@amcostaric.com

Let the contest begin.

No humorour essays are available for today,
but you can write one!


 
Denominations all over the map on gay marriage
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Gay marriage isn't exactly a hot topic around the world, because in many societies, homosexuality is such a taboo, it's never discussed. 

In the United States, the culture has become a bit more accepting of the reality that some men and women are sexually attracted to their own gender. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that laws against same-sex copulation are unconstitutional, and the State of Massachusetts is considering legislation that would give gays the freedom to marry. 

But many Americans still believe homosexuality is immoral, and a recent poll indicates a majority believe gay marriage should not be allowed. The two biggest Christian denominations in the United States teach that homosexual behavior is a sin. But that doesn't mean all Christian denominations are as condemning or as clear on the issue. 

If you have any doubts about whether Americans have become more comfortable discussing homosexuality, just listen to what aired on prime-time television last Thursday night. 

Jack: "I tell you what. I'm going to take you to my gay group therapy. They'll help." 

Karen: No! No more of your damned gay group therapy! How many times do you expect me to sit through 'Mama Mia'?!" 

Jack: "Karen, I'm serious. Come with me. They'll help. I used to have multiple personalities. Now I'm only dating one guy." 

That's from an episode of Will and Grace, one of the top-ranking shows on NBC television. It's about a gay man, Will, his best friend from college, Grace, who's heterosexual, and their gay and straight friends. 

But while many Americans may find Will's character to be entertaining, that doesn't necessarily mean they'd be willing to give him all the privileges that come with marriage. 

Under existing law, gay couples are vulnerable in a way married couples are not. For example, if a husband is injured, no one can prevent his wife from visiting him in the hospital. And if he dies, his wife automatically retains custody of any children they may have. 

Not so with gay couples, regardless of how long they've been together. But many Americans insist marriage is, by its very nature, between a man and a woman. And as President George Bush recently revealed at a press conference when asked for his opinions on homosexuality, this strictly limited view of marriage is shaped by a particular set of religious beliefs. 

"Yeah, I am mindful that we're all sinners. And I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbor's eye, when they got a log in their own. I think it's very important for our society to respect each individual. To welcome those with good hearts. To be a welcoming country. On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue such as marriage," Bush told reporters. 

A day later, the White House announced President Bush is willing to consider a constitutional 

amendment that would define marriage in the eyes of the law as a union between one man and one woman. Evangelical Protestants praised the announcement. And it's exactly the sort of thing the Vatican was looking for, when it recently released a 12-page document, calling on Catholic lawmakers to oppose gay marriage as a violation of the quote"natural moral law." 

The Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention are the two biggest Christian denominations in the United States, and they both have very unambiguous views of homosexual behavior. It's a sin. 

But not all Christian denominations subscribe to that view. Unitarian Universalists, for example, unconditionally welcome homosexuals, although that denomination isn't exactly the norm. What's more common is a situation like the one facing the Episcopal Church right now, where leaders will have to decide whether to ratify the recent election of an openly gay man as bishop. 

The United Methodist Church has been challenged in recent years by ministers who insist on blessing same-sex unions, in spite of the church's official policies. And the Presbyterian Church USA has been plagued by disagreements over the role of homosexuals in the church, perhaps more so than any other denomination in America. 

"It certainly is the lightening rod that draws the most active struggle," said Mark Achtemeier, a theology professor at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. He said homosexuality may be the most contentious issue facing the nation's largest Presbyterian church since the days when members disagreed about slavery. 

Two years ago, the church's General Assembly appointed a task force to consider the role of homosexuals in the church. That task force will be drawing upon biblical scripture, Presbyterian tradition, and scientific theories about homosexuality when it makes its recommendations in 2006. Mark Achtemeier said the issue has the potential to split the church, because the debate is really about basic, Christian teachings. 

"The traditionalists are convinced that this is a debate about the authority of scripture, and that if you give ground on this, you've essentially renounced loyalty to the Bible. People on the progressive side tend to see it as a justice issue and think abandoning the struggle for greater inclusion of gays and lesbians would be to walk away from the Bible's commitment to compassionate outreach to the oppressed," Achtemeier said. 

Achtemeier said he can't even begin to guess what recommendations the task force will make. Right now, openly gay men and women are allowed to join the Presbyterian Church USA, they just can't be ministers. And ministers are allowed to bless same-sex unions, so long as they don't use the word "marriage." 

Some Presbyterian leaders are pushing for ministers to be allowed to use the word "marriage". But in the unlikely event that the task force makes that recommendation, there's no guarantee that gay marriages recognized by the church will also be recognized under the law. And they certainly won't be recognized as legal unions if a constitutional amendment is passed, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. 


 
Wildfires ravage
western Canada

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Wildfires are burning out of control in the western Canadian province of British Columbia. Vast expanses of land have been scorched and thousands have been evacuated from their homes northeast of Vancouver. 

The situation for those fighting the fires is getting worse. Some of the largest fires, which have already caused widespread damage, appear to be growing in size. One of the larger blazes actually jumped over the North Thompson River, a major waterway that leads to the town of Kamloops. 

An extended summer drought, hot temperatures, and fierce winds continue to hamper firefighters. The weather forecast is calling for slightly cooler temperatures, but thundershowers could bring lightening strikes. It is suspected that half of the more than 350 fires currently burning around the province were started by lightening, the rest by humans. 

By Saturday night, approximately 75 houses, 150 outbuildings, and some businesses were destroyed around the small rural towns of McLure and Barriere. 

At least 8,500 people in total have been forced from their homes, with more evacuations pending. 

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell declared a province-wide state of emergency Saturday. Military personnel and firefighters from across Canada have been called in to assist local authorities. 

A fire in neighboring Washington state, which has been burning since the end of June, is also threatening to cross the Canadian-American border. Major fires are also burning in the states of Idaho and Montana. The Canadian province of Alberta has also seen several blazes force people from their homes. 

So far only one injury is reported in the British Columbia fires. A 53-year old man was burned on his face and upper body while trying save a neighbors house.

No-visa stopover
program suspended

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Because of security concerns, the U.S. government has suspended two international airline transit programs that allowed foreign passengers to stay in U.S. airports without visas while waiting for flights to other countries. 

The step was taken after intelligence reports indicated terrorist networks planned to use the no-visa programs to infiltrate U.S. airports without being screened. 

The two programs allowed flyers who would normally need a U.S. visa to skip the required paperwork while stopping at U.S. airports and changing planes for another foreign destination. 

The suspension especially affects airline passengers who used U.S. airports as a transit point for travel between Asia and Latin America. 

Those most affected will be passengers from Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, the Philippines and Peru, who will no longer be granted visa-free entry for airline stop-overs. 

Officials in the Homeland Security Department said on Saturday the suspensions will be evaluated during the coming months based on intelligence reports and passenger reaction. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge called the move "aggressive" and said it was necessary to protect lives and property. 

Aviation security has been stepped up considerably after the hijacked airliner attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001.

The "Transit Without Visa" program began in 1952 and allowed flyers who need a U.S. visa to skip the required paperwork while stopping at up to two U.S. airports and changing planes for another foreign destination. The "International to International" program was similar except it only allowed foreigners to pass through one U.S. airport en route to a foreign country, and required them to remain in the international transit lounge. 

Bolivians report
large cocaine grab

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LA  PAZ, Bolivia — Authorities say they have seized three tons of cocaine in what they call the biggest drug bust ever in the poor South American country. 

Police say they seized the cocaine from what they called an "international drug trafficking gang" on Saturday in the southeastern city of Santa Cruz. Police had confiscated another two tons of the drug in the same city on Friday.  Police said the drug shipments were destined for Spain. 

The cocaine busts were the biggest in Bolivia since police discovered four tons of the drug on board a cargo plane eight years ago.  Bolivia is the world's third-largest producer of cocaine, behind Colombia and Peru.

Big Mexican shootout
stems gang invasion

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NUEVO LAREDO, México — Mexican authorities say a pre-dawn shootout near the U.S. border has left three suspected drug traffickers dead and six other people wounded.

Officials say the gun battle happened Friday here when local police tried to stop a convoy of armed men who began shooting at them. 

Officials also say federal police and army troops were called in to provide backup and that the soldiers fired on the suspects' cars with rocket-propelled grenades.

Authorities say the convoy appeared linked to an attempt by traffickers from other areas to move into territory controlled by the Gulf Cartel. The group operates in northeastern Mexico.

The shootout occurred less than one day after U.S. and Mexican officials announced the arrests of more than 240 people in a 19-month operation targeting Mexico's Zambada-Garcia drug cartel.

The cartel leader, Ismael Zambada-Garcia, and two deputies, have also been indicted as part of the investigation known as "Operation Trifecta." They are charged with trafficking in cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine.

Belgum dumps law
that snagged leaders

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The Belgian parliament has enacted legislation to change a controversial war crimes law under which cases were filed against President George Bush and many other world leaders. 

The Senate passed the measure Friday, following approval by the lower House earlier in the week. Under the new legislation the jurisdiction of Belgian courts is limited to cases involving long-term Belgian citizens or residents, who were victims or suspects at the time of an alleged crime. The changes also ensure immunity for world leaders and officials who visit Belgium. 

The original law gave Belgian courts the power of universal jurisdiction, to try war crimes cases, no matter where the acts were allegedly committed, and no matter what the nationality of those involved. The law angered Washington when lawsuits were filed against President Bush and other senior U.S. officials accusing them of war crimes in Iraq.

Subsequently, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Washington would be reluctant to send American officials to North American Treaty Organization meetings in Brussels, and that the United States opposed further spending on a new NATO headquarters in Belgium.

The original law provoked a number of controversies. One prominent case against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was thrown out by the Belgian Supreme Court earlier this year. Even Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel was affected, when an opposition party filed a complaint against him, accusing him of illegally authorizing arms shipments to Nepal.

Michel told the Senate Friday that the noble cause that prompted the parliament to adopt the law, was abused and manipulated for political ends. He said relations have been damaged with nations that Belgium traditionally has excellent ties with.

Critics say the old law, originally passed in 1993, made Belgium somewhat of a joke on the world stage. The law was first applied to prosecute two Rwandan nuns on genocide charges in 2001. This prompted a series of other lawsuits against a number of world figures. 

Shining Path leader
on hunger strike

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CALLOA, Peru — Abimael Guzman, the jailed leader of Peru's Shining Path rebel group, and his imprisoned lover have begun a hunger strike to protest solitary confinement that keeps them apart. 

Guzman and Elena Iparraguirre say they will not eat until prison authorities lift the order that confined them to their cells on Friday. They had been allowed visitors, letters, radios and access to a common courtyard at the prison here built especially for terrorists. 

The two prisoners claim guards stole Ms. Iparraguirre's diary, which reports say indicated Guzman continues to lead the Shining Path from his cell. Ms. Iparraguirre had been the rebel group's second in command. They were captured together in 1992. 

Guzman has gone on hunger strikes before, calling for new trials and prison transfers for jailed rebels. 

The Maoist-inspired Shining Path had up to 10,000 fighters at its peak in the 1980s and early 1990s, when it tried to overthrow Peru's government with a campaign of bombings, assassinations and peasant massacres.  More than 30,000 people died in the violence, which dropped off considerably after Guzman's capture. 

Colombia car bomb
wounds nine people

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA Colombia — A car bomb has exploded in a rural town, wounding at least nine people. 

Army Gen. German Galvis said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is to blame for the attack at a main plaza in Socha, about 180 kilometers northeast of here. He says at least eight civilians and one police officer were injured, and several homes damaged. 

El Espectador newspaper quotes Gen. Galvis calling the bombing a terrorist attack against the Colombian population.

Brazilian police evict
squatters at hotel

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazilian police have stormed a hotel near the center of this city to evict hundreds of squatters who moved in two weeks ago. 

Police fired tear gas in the hotel early Friday to remove the families belonging to a homeless movement. Some of the squatters resisted the raid, and set fires. Four of them were injured. 

The Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper says police acted after the hotel owner got a court order to remove the squatters. 

The raid comes as Brazil's landless poor have increased invasions of rural land. Several activist groups are seeking the redistribution of land to Brazil's poorest citizens. 

Ferry, ship collide
and four people die

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services 

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Officials say at least four people have died and some 16 were injured after a cargo ship and a ferry boat collided in Bahamian waters.

Rescuers searched on Saturday for victims of the crash in deep water, 14 kilometers to the southwest of Eleuthera Island. At least 15 people were evacuated by helicopter to a hospital here.

The ferry, named Sea Hauler, was carrying 194 passengers and several crew when it collided with the cargo ship called The United Star after 1 a.m. local time on Saturday. Officials said the cause of the accident is not known and an investigation is under way.

 


 
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002 and 2003 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. CheckHERE for more details