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these stories were published Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 179
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Artists capture pain and suffering of Sept. 11
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The actual fliers distributed in New York City after the Sept.11 Twin Towers terrorist attack by relatives seeking their kin have been incorporated into an exhibition that opens here Wednesday night.

The exhibition is "Missing: Last Seen at the World Trade Center," and the location is the Museo Calderón Guardia in Barrio Escalante. It runs through Oct. 13.

Also part of the exhibition will be the works of three photographers who chronicled the World Trade Center tragedy. One, Bronston Jones, took photos of the fliers as they hung in groups all over the city shortly after the towers fell.

Joel Meyerowitz, an internationally known large-format photographer, also will be represented. The U.S. State Department has asked the Museum of the City of New York and Meyerowitz to create a special exhibition of images that would be sent to major world cities, said a Web site dedicated to the exhibit. The purpose of the exhibition is to visually relate the catastrophic destruction of the Sept. 11 attacks and the physical and human dimensions of the recovery effort, it said.

Works of Costa Rican photographer Alejandro Barboza also will be on display.

The State Department said that the museum and Meyerowitz have selected 28 images for the exhibition, which is entitled "After September 11: Images from Ground Zero." He is the only photographer who has been granted unimpeded access, according to the Web site.

U.S. Ambassador John J. Danilovich and Astrid Fischel Volio, minister of Cultura, Juventud y Deportes, will hosts an 8 p.m. reception at which President Abel Pacheco is expected to attend, the State Department said.

The photos of Bronston developed from the fliers that family members had printed up in mostly vain attempts to find their family members.

Photo courtesy of Museo Calderón Guardia
Rain-washed photo of missing man is the centerpiece of Bronston Jones exhibit.

Bronston took photos of the fliers hanging in bunches all over New York. Later some 400 fliers were collected and put together into an exhibit.

The fliers were generated by rumors that many persons had been pulled alive from the ruins of the World Trade Center and were languishing in area hospitals. Another rumor said that hundreds of persons were wandering the city in shock. Both rumors proved to be false, said a Web site set up to showcase the Bronston works.

One photo, titled "America Weeps," was of a rain streaked flier a family had posted seeking their son. The lad eventually was located and may have been the only person so found by the fliers, according to the Web site, http://www.bronston.com/missing.htm

The Meyerowitz exhibt Web site is http://www.911exhibit.com/

Strange case of a police trio in strip clubs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three men dressed as police officers made the rounds of strip clubs Saturday night and early Sunday morning, but their purpose still is unclear.

The three men in their BMW were detained by Fuerza Pública officers west of Parque La Sabana about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Police were notified  a few minutes before by a manager at the Elite night club on Paseo Colón that the three men were in the club causing a disturbance and hassling patrons.

Investigators said later that similar incidents took place in Las Vegas, Holliwood and Puro Platino, all strip clubs on the west side of San José.

Of major concern for the management of the clubs was that at least one of the men carried a weapon.

The three men stopped by police wore the uniform of the Fuerza Pública, according to a police report Monday. They were identified by their last names: Barrientos Céspedes, Rodríguez Sojo and Rojas Fernández, said investigators.

Barrientos showed officers an identification card of the police reserve, said the report. Police were sufficiently impressed with the uniforms and the identification that they contacted the director of the Reserva de la Fuerza to see if the men might have been carrying out some unspecified operation.

But officials of the reserve told arresting officers to detain the men on the possibility that the identification card might be false. The report Monday said that the reserve was not involved in any operation early Sunday.

Police said they confiscated a 9-mm. pistol, a ski mask, three pairs of gloves and two pairs of handcuffs.

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Kids outreach underscored by 9/11 tragedy
By Gail Dianne Nystrom
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

My one year later is a little different from lots of people’s.  It has to do with tragedy and sadness and injustice and hate and victims. But it also has to do with love and endurance and lots of light.

One year ago today, Costa Rica’s child welfare department made the insane decision to close the street shelter in downtown San Jose for a group of homeless kids. They were left without a place to eat, to bathe, to sleep, to get water or to be looked after. Essentially, they were once again thrown out on the street with no recourse.

What did they do? They robbed to eat. They used drugs to not feel hunger. They huddled together on the sidewalk. They were beat up by police and treated like animals by passersby. They got angry and scared and depressed and anxious. But they survived. They survived as only they could.

I saw the towers tumble down too. I watched as the unthinkable happened in New York.

I thought, it is time we do something real about this evil that is around us. It is time we took action. It is not time to think or meditate or pray or imagine or visualize. It is time to do something already.

So I took those kids home. It was scary. It was draining. It was painful beyond belief. They destroyed all the doors and windows in the house. They destroyed a lifetime of collected educational materials. They lied. They stole from me. They used drugs. They threatened me with a knife.

But we prevailed.  We did not let the evil overcome us. There is nothing they could do to make me send them back out on the street. They tested, that’s for sure.  I stopped seeing friends — no time. I struggled to maintain my relationship with my own children.

I feared for myself and for the kids.  Would the police come in some day and move them all out? Would the neighbors rise up against them? Would someone hurt them more than they had already been hurt?  Would the volunteers be able to sustain their love for the kids even when they stole from them and lied to them?

What was the nature of this love?  Unconditional positive regard.  Going at the rhythm of the kids. When they got up, we were there. When they were angry, we were placid. When they lied, we confronted them honestly. When they were hungry we fed them. When they were bored, we found entertainment for them. When they were scared, we rocked them. When they were weak, we gave them physical activity. When they were sick, we took them to doctors. When they needed distance, we went away and when they needed closeness we sat with them and walked with them and talked with them.  And when they used their
drugs, we let them know how evil it was.  We let them know the damage they were doing to themselves and those around them.

What has been the result in this year?

From scared, angry, violent and aggressive kids, they have transformed into young adults, handling their lives with bravery and self-understanding. They get up on time in the morning, they go to work all day. They get their food and their clothes ready. They study. They are preparing for Ministry of Education exams. They handle money at fundraisers. They help distribute food, clothing and toys to low income people. They live together and are learning to react without violence to everything. They are controlling their impulses. They have all faced their police and legal situation. They are going out in public and talking to people without fear.

Post-9/11 Commentary

Sometimes I think that what I’ve done this year has been just a small thing in the grand scheme of it.  After all, it is only 15 kids.  But then I really think about it and I realize that it is a huge thing.  I can’t put the towers back up. I can’t save those souls in New York.  But I could do something — and I did.

The logo for the Foundation is four hearts facing north, south, east and west. The points of the hearts face inward. The center of those points is symbolic of Costa Rica, a place that I believe is a spiritual center of the world. Our hearts face outward to give back to the world and face inward to get the love from the world to do our work.

These extraordinary teens are the focus of our work this year.  They are the energy we have to go forward and to go out.  The volunteers and founders who were part of this process know the pride and joy we have shared. They know what they gave and what they got from this experience.

So, our message on this day is: Do not despair. It really is unfolding as it should. We are in times of great change and upheaval, but love will continue to prevail. There is nothing that can really destroy us, especially not violent death.

Gail Dianne Nystrom is the president of the Fundación Humanitaria and lives in Cuidad Colon.

Fundraiser planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Santa Ana restaurant is holding a fundraiser for Fundación Humanitaria today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The restaurant is Tex-Mex where employees are planning a big spread of bocas and sodas for the 14 young men and women rescued a year ago from lives on the street.

Gail Nystrom, president of the foundation, will be present.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Employees of the Poder Judicial apply decorations for Independence Day to a wall of the Tribunales de Justicia in San José. They are Rafael Obandon on the second floor and Luis Serrano and Elias Apú securing the bottom of the banner.
Heavy rains let up 
as dry air moves in

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A mass of dry air has moved over the Caribbean and the Central Valley has generally avoided heavy downpours that caused serious problems for the last two weeks.

There were exceptions. Palmares hosted a drenching downpour Monday afternoon that caused some landslides.

However, the official report of the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional showed no measurable precipitation either Sunday or Monday. The weather station is located in San José.

The weather report said that widely disbursed thundershowers and electrical storms would hit the Central Valley and the Pacific coast today. There would be lower possibilities of precipitation elsewhere.

Heavy rains over the last two weeks caused serious flooding, forced people from their homes and triggered a landslide in Orosi that killed seven people.

President Abel Pacheco toured the area Monday and said that people must be prevented from building homes on land that might be subject to such disasters. The homes buried in Orosi were in a deep depression that were filled up by the slide.

Bush grants $42 million
to Colombian military

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bush administration has approved nearly $42 million in military aid for the Colombian military after certifying that it complies with human rights standards. 

Richard Armitage, U.S. deputy secretary of state, issued the formal certification Monday after determining Colombia has now met U.S. congressional conditions for receiving the aid.

Congress had demanded that Colombia suspend military personnel suspected of human rights violations. Congress also said the Colombian military must cooperate with civilian prosecutors in such cases and that the military must sever ties with right-wing paramilitaries. 

U.S. officials say the certification signifies real progress in Colombia but that more needs to be done. Human rights groups say Colombia has not done enough to meet the U.S. criteria. 

The certification approved Monday covers 40 percent of an aid package for Colombia's military. The United States released more than $61 million in May after a similar certification.

The approval comes amid more unrest as the National Liberation Army, Colombia's second-largest rebel group, has released ten out of 27 hostages taken last month while on a fishing trip in northwest Colombia.

The National Liberation Army released the ten hostages Sunday, while authorities expect to see the remaining captives released within the next few days.

The tourists were taken at a restaurant in a national park last August. Heavily armed men forced them aboard motorized launches and took them into the jungle. 

The National Liberation Army relies heavily on ransoms to finance its 38-year-old war against the government. Colombia annually sees some 3,000 kidnappings.

Newly elected Uribe has pledged to increase defense spending to battle leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries.

Foreign Minister Tovar
to visit New York

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Roberto Tovar, the Costa Rican foreign minister, will be traveling to New York Wednesday for a series of meetings at the United Nations.

Tovar also will be acting in his capacity as president of the Río Group and the Systema para la Integración de Centroamérica.

Canadian PM skeptical
on Bush’s Iraq stance

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

DETROIT, Michigan — U.S. President George W. Bush continues to seek support for his tough stand against Iraq, making his case in person to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and telephoning other world leaders. The diplomatic push comes just days before Bush is scheduled to discuss Iraq in a major speech to the United Nations.

Canada is one of America's closest allies. But Prime Minister Chretien leaves no doubt he is skeptical about the need for military action against Iraq.

He said he went into the meeting ready to listen, perhaps to get a preview of the arguments Bush will put before the United Nations on Thursday. Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman, said after the talks that the president made no specific requests for support, and the Canadian leader made no commitments. 

The president and the prime minister met in this Midwestern city, not far from the U.S.-Canada border. They talked about Iraq in private. In public, they focused on border security.

At a joint appearance near a border crossing, Bush spoke about the need to balance security concerns with the desire to expedite cross-border commerce.

"The ties of trade and travel and family between America and Canada are closer than ever," he said. "And our countries are better for it. Yet nearly a year ago, we saw the terrorists — cold blooded killers — using our openness, the openness of our societies against us."

Security on the border was tightened after the Sept. 11terrorist attacks. Bush said they are now taking steps to speed up border crossings for pre-approved cargo and passengers, so inspectors can "focus on the greatest risks, not on legitimate trade and travel. We want their time focused on stopping terror."

Chretien said the goal of terrorists everywhere is to create fear. But he said freedom is "a stubborn thing." And he vowed the defenders of freedom will prevail.

U.S.-Canadian border
security beefed up

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. -— In an effort to increase the security and safety of U.S. and Canadian citizens and to increase the economic prosperity of both countries, the United States and Canada have agreed to align, "to the maximum extent possible," their commercial customs programs along the shared border.

Under the auspices of the Free and Secure Trade program, the United States and Canada will adopt a common approach to risk management, partner with responsible members of the trade community, and use compatible and advanced technology to detect threats to public security and safety, while keeping the border open to the free flow of low-risk, legitimate trade, the White House said in a Sept. 9 fact sheet.

The program will offer expedited clearance to carriers and importers who have enrolled in the U.S. Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program or in Canada's similar Partners in Protection program.

Expedited clearance will be achieved by reducing information required of pre-authorized transborder shipments, by designating the trade program lanes at major commercial border crossings, and by the application of integrated and advanced technology by customs officials to facilitate the clearance of low-risk shipments.

The benefits of the program will only be available to drivers, carriers and importers pre-authorized by the United States and Canada.

"Greater speed and certainty in the clearance of transborder shipments, reduced cost of compliance with customs requirements and a strong ongoing partnership with the U.S. and Canadian customs administrations are among the key benefits of the program to the trade community," the White House said.

The program should also allow U.S. and Canadian officials to concentrate their efforts on potentially high-risk shipments.

Procedures for accepting program applications from importers have already been established. As of Sept. 9, the U.S. and Canada will begin jointly registering carriers.

By October, the program will begin registering drivers, and the program will be operational along select border crossings by December 2002.

Power cut off
in much of city

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Power was off three times in less than 15 hours in much of western San José.

The first interruption took place about midmorning Monday and lasted about a half hour. The second, blamed on an exploding transformer, happened about 1 p.m. That put out lights and traffic signals in much of western San José. The outage lasted as long as three hours in some parts of the city.

Then about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday another brief outage took place while much of the city slept.

A transformer that exploded after a car hit a utility pole in Sabana Sur Thursday got the blame for a two-hour outage during evening rush hour that day.

IMF loans Brazil
$30 billion

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The International Monetary Fund has approved a $30 billion, 15-month stand-by credit for Brazil to support the country's economic and financial program through December 2003.

Brazil will be able to immediately draw up to $3 billion of the credit and another $3 billion following a review before the end of 2002. The remainder of the credit would be made available in 2003, following the completion of reviews and observance of performance criteria, according to an IMF news release.

Horst Kohler, managing director and chairman, applauded Brazil's strong economic management in recent years, but noted that international economic uncertainty and concerns over Brazil's upcoming presidential elections have affected the nation's economy.

Kohler said Brazilian authorities have addressed these developments with a new fund-supported program that will "contribute toward ensuring the maintenance of sound economic policies." Moreover, "the commitment that the leading presidential candidates [in Brazil] have given to the core elements of the program already appears to have helped market confidence," he added.

Gold company irked
by Venezuelan aims

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Vannessa Ventures Ltd., is steaming because it appears Venezuela is about to award a prime gold-mining concession to another firm.

Vannessa is the company that, via an intermediary, wishes to set up an open-pit gold mine in northern Costa Rica.

Manfred Peschke, president of the company, put out a news release Monday in which he sought to counter reports in the mining press that the Venezuelan Guayana Corp. has chosen Crystallex International Corp. to develop the Las Cristinas deposit in southern Venezuela.

Crystallex confirmed the selection in its own news release dated Sunday.

Vanessa, through its Venezuelan subsidiary, is the holder of the mining permit, the environmental permit and a contract with corporation for the Las Cristinas Deposit and will vigorously defend its rights under Venezuelan and International Law, said Peschke.

“The current announcement can only be viewed as  a desperate attempt to complete  some  form  of arrangement  prior  to  the  start-up  of  court proceedings after the summer recess, said Peschke, referring to his company’s legal efforts to maintain control of its contact with the state cooperation.

The company’s Costa Rican effort is called the Crucitas Gold Project. That may be the topic of legal action here because President Abel Pacheco ordered a moratorium on open-pit mining as soon as he took office in May.

Vannessa and its subsidiary here, Industrias Infinto, S.A., had submitted an environmental study to the Secretaria Tecnica Nacional Ambiental (SETENA), the environmental watchdog for the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energia. Vannessa wants compensation if Costa Rica pulls the plug on the project. It has put forward a figure of $650 million.

Residents in the area near the San Juan River that divides Costa Rica from Nicaragua are worried because the company will use cyanide to leach the gold from the rock.

Thieves loot vehicle
inspection station

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thieves burglarized the Cartago inspection station of Riteve SyC, the firm chosen to conduct extensive inspections of vehicles in Costa Rica.

The entry took place during the night or early morning hours, and the thieves made off with a safe. Investigators said the safe contained 1.5 million colons (about $4,000) and documents.

Investigators did not say what type of document had been taken, but the theft raised the possibility that criminals now have possession of forms that would allow them to forge certificates showing a vehicle passed the stiff inspection when it really did not.

A number of motorists with appointments for inspections were rerouted to other stations while police conducted the investigation.

Delegates meet to settle
Venezuelan stalemate

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

CARACAS, Venezuela — International negotiators are here for talks Tuesday aimed at bridging differences between the government of President Hugo Chavez and his opponents. 

Delegates from the Organization of American States, United Nations and Carter Center began arriving here Monday on their four-day mission. 

The delegates are to meet with government officials, opposition politicians, church leaders and members of civil society organizations. The talks are designed to ease tensions in Venezuela, which remains politically divided five months after Chavez was ousted in a brief coup. 

Since regaining power, Chavez has called for reconciliation talks. His opponents refuse to meet with him, saying they do not believe he is willing to accept change. 

Elsewhere in the capital, Chavez has resumed oil shipments to Cuba, five months after they were suspended following a failed coup against him. 

The two countries had signed a deal in October 2000, allowing Cuba to import 53,000 barrels a day under preferential terms. Officials at state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela suspended the deal after Chavez was briefly deposed in April, saying Cuba owed $142 million. 

Opponents of Chavez have filed a lawsuit, accusing him of squandering national resources to subsidize the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Chavez answered his critics, saying "if they want to indict me for that, then I'm here waiting for them to put on the handcuffs." 

The deal is vitally important to Cuba, as Venezuela provides one-third of Cuba's oil imports.

American Legion
seeking new commander

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

American Legion Post 10 will hold its next regular meeting Saturday, Oct. 5, in the Bufo Dorado (Golden Toad) Lounge of the Gran Hotel Costa Rica next to the National Theater at noon. 

At the Sept. 7 meeting Post Commander Chuck Turner announced that he would not be a candidate for another term. 

Several members asked him to reconsider, but Turner said he has had the honor to act as finance officer, adjutant and post commander over the past few years. But he said an anticipated increase in business at his ABC Tours-Costa Rica no longer gives him the time to do the job.

Election of new American Legion Post 10 officers will be held at the Oct. 5 meeting. So far, the vacancy for post commander contains only one nominee for the position. Properly seconded nominations of qualified members for all Post 10 offices will be accepted from the floor on Oct. 5, said a spokesman for the organization. 

For additional information, Turner may be contacted at 228-6014 or by e-mail to chturnerm@racsa.co.cr
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