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These stories were published Monday, Aug. 26, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 168
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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Web site had line on detained Escazú man
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Local police agencies announced Friday the detention of Frankie Stephen Jett, a U.S. citizen from Bello Horizonte who faces charges in Georgia of stealing money via the Internet. They characterized him as a fugitive from justice.

However, a great deal of information, including that Jett lived in Escazú, has been available, indexed to his name, on the Internet since Aug. 7, 2000.

The information even included two photos of Jett. The site is dedicated to exposing persons who claim false military affilitations:
http://www.phonyveterans.com/Jett.html. 

A reader drew the attention of A.M. Costa Rica to the Phony Veterans site. The Web site said that Jett falsely claimed to be a former Navy SEAL and the recipient of the U.S. Silver Star, the second highest award for bravery. A simple Internet search by name calls up Jett’s page on the site in the No. 1 position.

The Web site included what it said was his wedding photo in which he is wearing the uniform of a U.S. Navy enlisted man with eight rows of ribbons on his chest. A second photo was nearly identical to the one released by police officials Thursday.

The Web site said that Jett served in the Navy
from 1975 to 1990 and then sought 

compensation and retirement at the rank of E-7.

The Web site also included an outline of Jett’s business ventures here in Costa Rica, including Cirroteuma, S.A. and Unicorn Investments, Ltd. Police did not mention these companies when they announced the arrest, although they said he owned a number of corporations that held land and vehicles.

The Web site also updated Jett’s activities for several months in the year 2000.

The local arrest was made by the Judicial Investigating Organization and the International Police Organization at the request of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. The charges are believed to relate to a warrant from a federal court in Georgia. 

The charges are believed to be white collar fraud complaints from several years back. There is no indication for how long police agencies have been looking for him or where they have been doing so.

The man is being treated in a local hospital, which is where police found him. He will face an extradition hearing here.

Some police incorrectly identified Jett as a former U.S. Army Special Forces green beret, and that characterization found its way into some of the local newspapers.

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Weekend rains do not help fight against dengue
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health officials are concerned because cases of dengue are showing up in heavily populated areas.

President Abel Pacheco and two top health officials took to the television Sunday night to ask residents to take steps to eliminate breeding places for the carriers of the disease, mosquitoes.

Meanwhile, the weather is not cooperating. Mosquitoes need standing water in which to lay their eggs, and rains hit the Central Valley Saturday and Sunday. The Instituto Meteorológico Costarricense said about a quarter inch (.28) of rain fell Saturday and a little more than a third of an inch (.37) fell Sunday.

The dengue fears are so great that Pacheco ordered that a pool at Casa Presidential be emptied. Two fountains will continue to hold water, although the water will be changed every other day. The fountains contain small fish that will eat any mosquito larva, said Casa Presidential aides.

"I ask all Costa Ricans to do the same," Pacheco said of his decision to empty the pool. He also urged citizens to eliminate garbage that could harbor breeding places.

The disease is carried by the aedes aegypti mosquito and causes high fevers, headaches and aching muscles.

Dr. Rocío Sáenz Madrigal, minister of Salud, appeared with Pacheco Sunday night to stress the 

dangers to the urban populations. Normally, the disease appears in thinly populated regions, she said. But now that it has appeared in urban areas, health officials are concerned by the possible rapid spreading.

About 88 cases of suspected classic dengue have been reported in the northwest San José suburb of La Uruca, and 17 persons were hospitalized in Alajuela, two of them youngsters of 8 and 9 years. 

Two cases are reported in Heredia and two in Grecia, said health officials in a release from Casa Presidencial.

Two new cases appeared in Guápiles, but officials said that these might be the result of people coming into the area from places where the disease was present.

Two cases of the more severe hemorrhagic dengue are being treated in Carrillo de Alajuela, said officials.

Eliseo Vargas, executive president of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, also appeared with Pacheco on television. The Caja runs the public hospitals and other health facilities.  He urged citizens to take the responsibility for their own and their neighbor’s health by eliminating breeding places. He noted that the mosquito has a range of about 40 kms. (some 25 miles).

Heavy spraying was being done in La Carpio because of the heavy amount of trash that exists in that low-income neighborhood, said Dr. Sáenz.


 
Environment summit
will kick off today

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Delegates from around the globe begin meeting here today for the U.N.-sponsored World Summit on Sustainable Development. 

The Johannesburg meeting takes place a decade after the landmark U.N. Earth Summit in Rio first brought governments and environmentalists together to talk about how to use natural resources wisely, so they will be there for future generations to enjoy. Such a meeting had never taken place before. Now it is happening again.

This conference is not being called an Earth Summit. And it is not just the name that is different. The secretary-general of the summit, Nitin Desai, says the focus has changed in the last 10 years.

"I think in Rio our focus was very much on trying to change the way people thought about development," he said. "In Johannesburg, what we are trying to do is change the way people act on development. That is why we say, this is a summit about implementation."

Desai says the world has changed, too. A decade ago, he says, delegates did not really understand how the AIDS epidemic would affect development of the world's most impoverished nations. 

And, he says, globalization was not a factor to the same extent that it is today. This summit will try to address those issues in a way the Rio meeting did not.

Environmental activists also point out that other things have changed since the Earth Summit. In 1992, the World Trade Organization did not even exist.

Hilary French of the advocacy group Worldwatch says, since then, the WTO, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have had a serious impact on development in the poorest nations.

"But how can we build up U.N. environmental and sustainable development institutions to the point that they have both a similar level of clout worldwide, and also, that they have an influence on what happens in the economic institutions that I just mentioned?" she asked. "How can we get the WTO to listen to the U.N., essentially? I think that is one of the questions that this conference needs to address."

Disagreement over contentious issues such as globalization and trade have held up agreement on key parts of the final summit declaration. About 75 percent of the text was finalized at a pre-conference meeting in Bali, Indonesia, earlier this year.

But developed and developing countries have not yet agreed on some of the most important sections. U.N. and South African officials say there is good progress being made, but they refused to give details. 

Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco will leave Wednesday to attend the Johannesburg summit.

2007 Pam Am Games
to be in Rio de Janeiro

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services 

MEXICO CITY, México — The Pan American Sports Organization  meeting here has chosen Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as the site for the 2007 Pan American Games, beating out San Antonio, Texas.

The Pan Am Organization, made up of officials from 42 nations in the Western Hemisphere, voted after both candidates presented their final bids for the honor.

Rio officials have pledged to spend $100 million to prepare for the event. Both cities said they had the money to host the games, with San Antonio saying it had most of the venues needed while Rio would have to build several sites.

The decision comes just days after Mexican President Vicente Fox refused to travel to Crawford, Texas, to meet with President George Bush. President Fox was protesting Texas's execution of Javier Suarez Medina, a 33-year-old Mexican man convicted of murdering a Dallas policeman.

The Mexican government said that Dallas police violated Suarez's rights by not informing him that he was eligible for legal assistance from the Mexican consulate. Police said they were not aware Suarez was a Mexican citizen.

The next Pan American Games are in 2003 in the Dominican Republic. The competition is often used as a key preparation for the Olympics the following year. Rio's hosting has a double purpose. The South American city hopes to host the Olympic games.

Treatment of cadets
studied in Peru

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Peru — Lawmakers are investigating a local television report that soldiers have tortured navy cadets during military exercises to prepare them for possible war. 

The chairman of the congressional defense committee, Gilberto Diaz, announced the investigation Friday. He said the alleged incident in 1995 appears to be an isolated case. 

A televised videotape shows cadets, with their hands tied, screaming in pain as soldiers kick them and administer electrical shocks.  The report said the incident took place in the city of Tumbes, just north of here. 

The head of Amnesty International's Peru office, Teresa Carpio, said similar torture has taken place for years. But it says the military intimidates recruits and their families into remaining quiet. 

Ecstasy suspects
go to court today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Seven persons who investigators say were connected with an ecstasy ring in Pavas will go to trial today.

Agents arrested the seven May 12 in a discotheque in Pavas where so-called raves are held. Some of the arrested individuals are owners of the discotheque, said a spokesman for the Poder Judicial.

A German named Petter and six Costa Ricans are involved. The others have last names of Yamuni, Kelly, Sierra, Pacheco, Ortiz and Cardona, said the spokesman.

After the arrests, agents searched the homes of the accused in Pavas, Rohrmoser, Santa Ana, San Sebastián, Granadilla Norte and Lomas de Ayarco where they said they found 573 doses of ecstasy and 278 doses of LSD.

Argentina has more woes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The government says it does not have the money to comply with a Supreme Court order to end a 13 percent cut in government workers' salaries and pension benefits.

President Eduardo Duhalde's chief of staff Alfredo Atanasof told reporters in Buenos Aires Friday the government respects the decision and will comply with it, but that there is no money to restore wages and benefits. 

Shifting Colombians
destabilize borders

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — The U.N. Refugee Agency says it is extremely concerned about the worsening situation of thousands of people here who have been forced to flee their homes in recent weeks because of intensified fighting. 

A U.N. spokesman, Kris Janowski, said that over the past few weeks, thousands of people, mainly women and children, have been on the move. He says most of these people are living under dire conditions in a situation of acute vulnerability.

He says they are living in shantytowns or other makeshift accommodations and are mainly dependent on irregular government handouts. He says people are being forced from their homes by threats from illegal armed groups or by violent clashes between combatants.

"We have also seen problems in the border areas of neighboring countries, which are affected by the intensification of the conflict in Colombia," Janowski said. "There have been a number of violent incidents, including killings and abductions attributed to illegal armed groups."

Janowski said fighting by illegal armed groups is destabilizing Colombia's borders with Venezuela and Ecuador. The United Nations estimates more than two million people in Colombia have been internally displaced since 1995, this out of a population of 40 million.

A spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, Niurka Pineiro, says instability in the country also is creating what she describes as a serious brain drain. She says some of Colombia’s brightest and most skilled people have left the country for good.

"We have come up with an official figure of 1.2 million Colombians who have left the country legally, never to return, most of them," she said. "And another 500,000 — this is an estimate, not an official figure — of people who have left with the assistance of smugglers or traffickers."

Ms. Pineiro says more than four million people, or about 10 percent of Colombia's population, have been directly affected by the country's worsening situation.

Colombia's newly elected president, Alvaro Uribe, has vowed to put an end to the fighting that has plagued Colombia for decades. He has enacted stringent measures to end the conflict, but so far, to little effect. 
 

U.S. gives more money
to fight drugs in Brazil

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

BRASILIA, Brazil — U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Donna Hrinak and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Lafer signed a joint memo of understanding on Friday increasing U.S. support for Brazil's anti-narcotics operations to $6.4 million, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Embassy here.

U.S. support for Brazil's anti-narcotics efforts is based on a 1995 mutual cooperation agreement to reduce demand, use and production of illegal drugs. The $6.4 million made available for 2002 is the largest U.S. contribution to Brazil's efforts to combat drugs since the signing of the agreement, the press release said. 

The United States provided $5.7 million to help finance Brazil's anti-narcotic operations in 2001 and $1.1 million in 2000.
 

Pacheco promises
more initiatives

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco has enlisted the major elements of his administration into his fight against corruption, negligence, waste and vanished resources.

He also announced that his administration would put forth new initiatives to the Asemblea Nacional that would cover government agencies. Among these would be what amounts to a freedom of information act for citizens.

Pacheco made his comments as he signed a law outlining internal fiscal controls for the government. Pacheco said that the document would put "teeth and claws in the organizations that control the management of public money. That is, it is a law to hunt phantoms and clear up mysteries."

Pacheco said he would put forward four initiatives that would guarantee honesty, austerity and transparency in public activities. Two of his proposals are financial. Two would strengthen financial control and the audits of public money. A law of transparency and free access to information by the public would be the third proposal. 

The fourth proposal would open up public accounts.

Representatives from 10 government agencies that deal with money were present with Pacheco when he made his comments and signed the new law. Among these were the superintendents of investments and of financial institutions.
 
 
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U.S. outlines objectives for Central American trade
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. trade representative, Robert Zoellick, told congressional leaders that the Bush administration intends to move forward on a free trade agreement with Central America.

"It is crucial that we move forward on this and other free trade agreements in order to restore America's leadership on trade," said Zoellick.

A free trade agreement "will help foster economic growth and build higher paying jobs in the United States by reducing and eliminating barriers to trade and investment between Central America and the United States," he told key congressmen in a letter.

Bush announced Jan. 16 that he wanted to push ahead with negotiations with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Since then, both houses of congress passed legislation that Bush said he needed to conduct negotiations. This is the so-called "fast-track" authority that forces Congress to vote yes or no on a proposed trade pact. But there can be no changes.

Two-way trade between the United States and Central America was approximately $20 billion in 2001, surpassing the value of U.S. trade with India, Indonesia, and Russia combined, Zoellick said.

By negotiating an agreement, Zoellick said "we will underpin our support for democracy and fundamental values, such as respect for internationally recognized worker rights and the elimination of the worst forms of child labor."

An agreement, he said, also will enable the United States to address market access impediments in Central America, including high tariffs on agricultural goods, unjustified use of sanitary and phytosanitary measures, restrictive licensing practices, inadequate protection of intellectual property rights, and limitations on access by service providers.

The letter contained what Zoellick said were the main objectives of the Bush Administration:
 

 -- Improve market access for U.S. industrial and agricultural goods through the elimination of tariffs
on trade between Central America and the United States on the broadest possible basis, subject to reasonable adjustment periods for import-sensitive products.

 -- Eliminate non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports, including those that affect new technologies, unjustified sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and unjustified technical barriers to trade.

 -- Establish simplified customs procedures to facilitate trade, as well as rules of origin that will ensure that preferential duty rates apply only to qualifying goods of the United States or Central America.

 -- Improve market access for U.S. services exports and obtain greater transparency and predictability in Central American regulation of services.

 -- Establish strong disciplines regarding the treatment of U.S. investments that will apply uniformly throughout the Central American countries.

 -- Improve protection of intellectual property rights and strengthen Central American enforcement procedures.

 -- Establish rules for the treatment of electronic commerce that are consistent with U.S. policy.

 -- Obtain greater transparency in Central American government procurement.

 -- Improve transparency in Central American regulatory procedures and promote effective enforcement of prohibitions on corrupt practices affecting trade.

 -- Establish provisions on the environment and labor, including the worst forms of child labor.

 -- Preserve the full ability to rigorously enforce U.S. trade remedy laws.

 -- Establish fair, transparent, timely, and effective procedures to settle disputes arising under the agreement.

Treaty found to be legal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV says that Costa Rica’s free trade treaty with Canada is constitutional.

The consultive constitutional court decision was written by Magistrado Adrián Vargas Benavides, according to a spokesperson for the Poder Judicial. The decision was released Friday.


 
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