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These stories were published Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 179
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We can't help but to just say "Purrrrra vida'
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Not only humans have problems adjusting to Costa Rica. And the country has strange effects.

This is a story about a cat that seems to  have done a good job. So much so that the Gringo name of Fluffy no longer fits, and his owners now call him by a stronger name.

The change from Fluffy started to take place shortly after the cat left his Boca Raton, Fla., home. Here is the description in the words of owner Deborah Hanna Marcolini in Moravia:

Fluffy was a very pampered indoor cat. . . .One day he was uprooted, put on a plane (in the luggage compartment no less) and ended up in a foreign country. That's when the transformation to Bruno began. 

We lived in a house with windows wide open, so Fluffy began to explore the world.  He acquired a Tica girlfriend who would visit nightly.  He quickly picked up Spanish (which is more than I can say for his mother) and they conversed loudly into the night.

He has had to toughen up — dealing with dogs, pizotes, ambushing black birds, tomcats.  Despite having no front claws, he will now go up to a dog (any size) and slap him in the face if he comes on his front porch. 

One night a Tom cat came in the house while 

Photo by Deborah Hanna Marcolini
Fluffy/Bruno in a gag shot to accent his tough guy image.

we were out and all hell broke loose. We came home to find fur flying all over but he held his own and drove the intruder out. (we've since screened the windows). 

Thus the transformation to Bruno. Now he's a stylin', kinda cool cat, waiting for the rain to stop so he can head to Dominical to go surfing.

Heredia serial killing suspect caught sleeping
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The principal suspect in a string of coffee plantation murders came into police hands early Tuesday after agents caught the man’s sister trying to smuggle him food and clothing, officials reported.

The man, José Antonio Mora Jiménez, 30, had been sought since last week by a small army of police who swept eastern Heredia for six days. The search area included Santo Domingo, San Luis, Santo Tomás and San Isidro de Heredia.

About 11 p.m. Monday, police said they spotted the sister, who has the same last names, entering a coffee field in Santo Tomás. She was stopped and eventually told police where to find her brother, Fuerza Pública officers said. The area is not far from where 21-year-old Ariella Andrea Cartín Feoli died in what appeared to be a robbery Aug. 22.

She was the latest and perhaps the fifth lone motorist to be killed by the same person in the Heredia area.

Police raided a construction site about 2 a.m. 

Tuesday and took the suspect by surprise. They said he was sleeping. Special units of the Fuerza Pública, agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization and the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional participated.

The suspect carried no weapon and only had a Walkman, agents said.

The site is on the same plantation or cafetal where Bernardo Ocampo Arce, 62, died June 10. In each case, the victim was alone in a vehicle and somehow was made to stop by an assailant.

There has been no clear outline of why police suspected Mora, except that he has a prison record. He is a native of the area, and most of his family lives nearby. Nor has there been any disclosure of possible motives. Reports at the time of the murders did not suggest that any money or items of significance had been taken.

All the attacks took place on what best can be described as farm roads among the coffee bushes. Such weeded paths are used as shortcuts by residents, and they are large enough to accommodate vehicles. Yet they go through unpopulated areas.

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U.S. tourist board announces $50 million effort
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

While Costa Rice is seeking to lure Canadian, Japanese and European tourists, the Bush administration has committed $50 million to bring them to the States.

The new program, announced this week,  specifically targets Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany. 

These are the same markets that Costa Rica seeks to reach in its promotions efforts.

Noting that the U.S. travel and tourism industry "greatly suffered an economic impact from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks," Commerce Secretary Don Evans announced that the Bush Administration will focus its international tourism promotional campaign initially on these five countries.

These five countries were selected because they have historically sent the most travelers to the United States, representing 75 percent of the international travelers hosted in the United States in 2002, the Commerce Department said.

Evans made the announcement during the first 

meeting of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board on Ellis Island in New York.

"As the campaign gets underway, I look forward to seeing an increase in visitors from these key markets and other countries which will provide a needed boost to the U.S. travel and tourism industry and added security for the many Americans who rely on this industry for jobs," said Evans.

Earlier this year, President George Bush approved a $50 million appropriation to create an international travel and tourism marketing and promotional campaign. These five markets represent 46 percent of the receipts generated in 2001. In addition, these five countries contributed more than $9 billion to the travel trade surplus.

The campaign will include market and evaluation research, consumer and trade advertising and promotional efforts. There also will be a matching grants program to support regional efforts.

The U.S. travel and tourism industry is responsible for approximately 17 million direct and indirect travel-related jobs in the United States and is the fourth largest export for the U.S. economy. In 2002, travel and tourism to the United States generated $84 billion in exports.


 
Assembly OKs bill
increasing penalties

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Nacional passed beefed up penalties for those who murder or abduct children during the first reading of the measure Tuesday, el Día del Niño.

The vote was 45 to 3, and Thursday was set for the time of final passage.

Among those voting no was Federico Malavassi, leader of the Movimiento Libertario in the assembly. He called the measures incomplete and partial.

If passed, the penalty for murder of someone 12 years or under would be from 20 to 35 years and abduction would be punished by a jail term of from five to 10 years. If the abduction lasts more than three days or the victim dies, the penalty is from 12 to 20 years.

In other action related to children Tuesday in the legislature, a committee voted out a measure to restructure laws against sexual exploitation of minors. The measure does not address penalties but spells out in more detail exactly what is a crime.

One reform would include as a crime the creation of pornographic material that uses underage youngsters and also modify laws relating to distribution of pornography in which appear minors or images of minors.

The changes also give minors more rights to file criminal complaints by themselves.

Would-be robber
gunned down

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men tried to steal a car in San Francisco de Dos Ríos Monday evening, but the car owner happened to have a pistol.

Shot dead was Anthony Méndez Valerio, 21, a man police said was one of the would-be thieves. Police found a .38-caliber pistol on his body.

The owner of the car, identified by police by the last names of Ugalde Obando was not hurt, and police are treating the shooting as self-defense, they said, although the case still is under investigation.

Three parents face
pimping allegations

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Charges have been leveled against three parents who sent their underage children to work in the sex industry, according to Rosalía Gil minister of Niñez y Adolescensia. 

Minister Gil made that announcement at the weekly Consejo de Gobierno meeting in Casa Presidencial. 

At the same time a decree was signed for the creation of a government front against pedophilia, and several publicity campaigns for the prevention of violence and abuse of children were reviewed.

Minister Gil said that soon a shelter would be opened for girls who are being exploited sexually, and the shelter will be involved in a program to put the children back into school.

In addition, an office for children and adolescents will be opened in the Ministerio de Educación Pública that will coordinate the compliance with the many rules and laws relating to children throughout the national education system.

Broken main leaves
many without water

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A worker with an excavating machine broke a 24-inch water transmission line about 5 p.m. Tuesday and left perhaps as many as 200,000 residents in the south side of San José, Zapote and Curridabat without water.

The break happened in Curridabat. Ironically the work was to relocate the water main, which is said to be an older line.

Workers hoped to have the line fixed by early morning.

Edward Teller, 95, 
bomb scientist, dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

STANFORD, Calif. — Edward Teller, 95, the man known as the "father of the H-bomb," has died here. The Hungarian-born scientist promoted a strong defense policy in his adopted homeland. 

A key member of the Manhattan Project, he helped the United States develop the first atomic bomb during World War II. He played an important role in U.S. defense and energy policies for half a century. 

Teller championed development of the hydrogen bomb, nuclear power and the space-based Strategic Defense Initiative. He was a vocal critic of the former Soviet Union and Communist governments in Eastern Europe. 

Born in Budapest in 1908, Teller was educated at the University of Leipzig, under the noted physicist Werner Heisenberg. After the rise of Hitler, Teller, who was Jewish, escaped from Nazi Europe to Britain and the United States, where he taught at a number of major universities. After the first successful test of the hydrogen bomb in 1952, he worked at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Berkeley, California. 

Edward Teller died near the Hoover Institute, where he was a senior research fellow.

Ashcroft in New York
backs Patriot Act

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NEW YORK, N.Y. — U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft defended the controversial counter-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act Tuesday here. 

Just two days before the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack on New York's World Trade Center, Ashcroft spoke with law enforcement personnel just blocks away from the site of the devastation. He said the anti-terrorism law gives law enforcement officials the necessary tools to track down terrorists and prevent future attacks.

"We have used the tools provided in the Patriot Act to fulfill our first responsibility, that of protecting the American people," he said. "We have used these tools to prevent terrorists from unleashing more death and more destruction on our soil. We have used these tools to save innocent American lives. We have used these tools to provide the security that ensures liberty."

Ashcroft's speech was part of a 16-city tour to drum up support for the Patriot Act, which has come under heavy criticism from civil liberties groups. They say the law violates the U.S. Constitution by allowing the government to abuse its surveillance powers and secretly monitor citizens.

Woman’s body found

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man found the partially burned and decomposed body of Marcia Hernández Barrios, 19, covered with straw in a field in Naranjo Tuesday.

The woman vanished two weeks ago and had been the object of a search. She leaves three children.
 
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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.


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Controversial U.S. priest not yet dismissed 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A priest from the United States who has become a controversial figure here technically still is a Roman Catholic priest but his religious order is trying to dismiss him.

The Rev. David Kalert is the provincial superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate for the United States. He told a reporter that the dismissal process has been going on for several months and that the priest, Alfredo Prado, 73, does not have permission from the Oblates to be in Costa Rica.

"I contacted the bishop there a couple of weeks ago to alert him that (Prado) was present," Kalert said.

The provincial superior was interviewed by a reporter for the San Antonio, Texas, Express-News who relayed the information here. Kalert would not discuss the priest’s performance there, and it was unclear exactly what dismissal might mean: expulsion from the order or termination of being a priest.

To date there are no known charges leveled against Prado in Texas.

Prado is involved with a group of religious believers — some say cult — who insist that the Virgin Mary is making multiple visitations near Grecia.

The priest was summoned to the Costa Rican immigration authorities last week and told that because he is a tourist he should not practice priestly duties.

The controversy centers on the Santuario de la Virgen Reina y Señora de Todo lo Creado in San Isidro de Grecia, an agricultural and retirement community west of here. The Sanctuary of the Virgin, Queen and Lady of all Creation, does not have the support of the local Roman Catholic parish nor of the Diocese of the Province of Alajuela where the community is located.

But the believers are strong in their faith. The words of the Virgin are passed through one young man named Delgado. 

The night of Sept. 4 some 10 men beat up a young priest who is the official spokesman for the national conference of bishops, and the victim blamed the believers. The battered priest has been the media figure issuing statements disassociating the church from the visitations.

Meanwhile, Prado, who has hired a lawyer, claims he is getting death threats. The lawyer denies sanctuary members administered the beating to the younger priest at the man’s home in Escazú..

The case has gone so far that the lawyer, Gerardo Machado Ramírez, has filed a plea with the Costa Rican Supreme Court alleging violation of religious rights.

Prado first came to Costa Rica in January to witness the visitations. The sanctuary was a low-level religious dispute until Casa Alianza, a child welfare organization, called attention to Prado and claimed he had been expelled from the Catholic Church in Texas, in part, because of allegations of abuse of minors. 

The organization, a branch of the New York Covenant House, said it filed a formal criminal complaint charging the priest with usurpation of authority and fraud, all based on the allegation that he no longer was a priest but was pretending to be one.

A day later, Prado, told the Spanish-language press that he was a victim of revenge in the United States for his complaints about witchcraft and rampant homosexuality in the Seminary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in San Antonio.

El Diario Extra newspaper said the priest said he saw a container with human blood in the residence for priests in San Antonio.

Prado, who is blind and with a bad heart, carries a certificate he says is signed by Patrick F. Flores, bishop of San Antonio, that gives him the right to say Mass in private, which is what he does.

The priest, a U.S. native of Mexican parents, will try to obtain an immigration status that will let him stay longer than the 90 days usually granted to North American tourists.

Sept. 11 is something different to those in Chile
by the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SANTIAGO, Chile — While much of the world will take time this week to reflect on the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, citizens in Chile will pause to remember another historic anniversary, one that also changed the face of their country forever. 

In a radio address recorded in the waning moments of his presidency, Chilean President Salvador Allende remained defiant, refusing to surrender his power despite an onslaught of bombs and bullets that were ripping apart the presidential palace in Santiago. 

"I will not resign," Allende vowed. "I will pay for the loyalty of the people with my life." And soon thereafter, he did, taking his own life inside the La Moneda — the presidential palace — before oncoming soldiers could capture him alive. 

The bloody coup that ended the life of Salvador Allende on Sept. 11, 1973, put Gen. Augusto Pinochet into power, opening a deadly and dark chapter in Chile's history. During Pinochet's reign, approximately 3,000 people "disappeared" and thousands of others were tortured and exiled. 

Now, 30 years later, while much of the world is focusing on the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, millions of Chileans will pause to reflect on a date that haunted them long before 2001. 

"It is a date in which a new history begins, in which people living through that date felt that the world in some way had ended," says Juan Gabriel Valdes, Chilean ambassador to Argentina. 

Until recently, Valdes served as Chile's ambassador to the United Nations, where he was a member of the U.N. Security Council. 

"The 11th of September in Chile was the military coup that overthrew the government of President Allende, but it was much more than that," he says. "It was the end of the story of democratic success of civilian government in Chile which marked an identity of the country and the political system, therefore people felt that day that the country was a different one, that something had happened that betrayed the history of the country."

In 1973, Gabriel Sepulveda was an employee at a shop located near the La Moneda. He says he remembers the confusion that erupted when 
Pinochet's soldiers arrived, but it wasn't until he heard President Allende on the radio urging 

people to go home that he knew that this day would be unlike any other. 

"Sept. 11 marked a historic passing in Chile and the Chilean people suffered when the military arrived," Sepulveda says. "It is a tragic story for us…. after Sept. 11 this was a completely different country."

The United States supported Gen. Pinochet's efforts to topple President Allende. Despite U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent admission that the United States was not "proud" of its role in the coup, some Chileans, like Angelica Ramírez, still hold the United States partly responsible for the arrival of Pinochet's iron-fisted regime. 

Substantial evidence exists that Henry Kissinger provided support to those who eliminated key military opposition to the coup before it took place.

"We have a lot of anger because the 11th of September…..well, the United States played a big role in this thing," Ms. Ramírez says. "So we could say, as the Chileans say, that they were looking for it too. And although a lot of years have passed, we forgive but we don't forget."

Forgetting the horrors of the Pinochet era is a strategy that many Chileans adopted when he stepped down in 1990. But the wounds still remain, and only recently has the country begun the difficult task of making amends with its troubled history.

In neighboring Argentina, recent court decisions have moved that country closer to holding those responsible for the thousands of deaths that occurred during its last dictatorship. The actions in Argentina have bolstered the efforts of human rights groups in Chile and President Ricardo Lagos has pledged his support for more accountability. Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdes thinks the 30th anniversary of the Pinochet coup will finally force the country to face its past. 

"I think that this event in Chile this year will have an enormous importance and has in some way generated a very uncomfortable feeling for all those who were actors at that time, they have been confronted by their own deeds and with their own responsibilities and this is not an easy thing to do," says Valdes. 

Repeated efforts to have 87-year-old Pinochet stand trial have been unsuccessful, and because of his old age and failing health, it is unlikely that he will ever have to answer for the atrocities committed under his reign that began 30 years ago. 


 
Judge opens way to multitude of Sept. 11 suits 
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

NEW YORK, N.Y. — A ruling by a U.S. federal judge hereTuesday has opened the door for hundreds of potential lawsuits against airlines, airplane manufacturers and the operators of the World Trade Center for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that litigation brought by people injured in the attacks and relatives of victims can proceed. 

He indicated that airlines' alleged negligence in security screening could have contributed to the attacks two years ago. About 3,000 people died in the attacks, which took place after hijackers seized control of four planes on September 11, 2001. Two of the planes hit the World Trade Center in New York, and a third hit the Pentagon. A fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. 

The judge was ruling on 70 cases brought by the injured and representatives of people killed in the attacks and about 10 groups that suffered property damage. 

The plaintiffs charged that the airlines were negligent in their failure to apply adequate security measures that would have prevented the hijackers from entering the cockpits and taking control of the planes. 

They also accuse the owners and operators of the World Trade Center of negligence for the design of the towers and the inadequacy of evacuation routes. 

The defendants include the companies that own American and United Airlines, airplane-maker Boeing, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operated the World Trade Center. 

The airlines argue that they could not be expected 

Memorial service here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The second anniversary of the terrorist attack in New York and Washington will be marked here tomorrow at  9:30 a.m. with a memorial service.

The ceremony will be at the Parque Once de Setiembre, which is near the Costa Rican-
American Chamber of Commerce Building and the Centro Cultural Costarricense-
Norteamericano in Sabana Norte.

The park was inaugurated at the first anniversary last year of the Sept. 11 attacks. The memorial service is being sponsored by the U.S. and Costa Rican governments, the Municipalidad de San José, the chamber, the centro and the American Colony Committee.
 

to predict the suicide hijackers' attacks and that they had followed federal safety standards at the time. 

Officials and relatives of victims were closely watching Judge Hellerstein's decision as the deadline approaches to apply for a federal compensation fund, which protects the airlines from lawsuits. 

Relatives of people killed or injured in the attacks have until Dec. 22 to enroll with the fund, created by the U.S. Congress. Anyone who applies also agrees not to sue the airlines, government agencies and security companies. 

More than 1,500 families have yet to decide whether to accept federal compensation or pursue litigation. 

Support grows in U.S. for guest worker program
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — U.S. law enforcement officials are meeting here for a two-day conference on border terrorism, with an emphasis on coordinating activities to prevent terrorists from entering the United States from neighboring countries. But speaking at the conference Monday, a U.S. senator from Texas, John Cornyn, pushed for an agreement with Mexico to legalize undocumented immigrants, which he says would also help combat terrorism. 

While much of the conference in San Antonio is focused on stopping people from crossing the border illegally, Cornyn's proposal addresses the problem of those immigrants who only seek work. He says treating them like criminals or terrorists is counterproductive. "We need to make a distinction between people who want to come here and contribute and people who want to come here and hurt us," he says. 

A bill Cornyn is sponsoring would allow migrants from Mexico to live and work in the United States for a few years, after which they would return to Mexico. During their time in the United States, the migrants would pay 15 percent of their salaries into a fund that would pay for medical expenses, if necessary, or be returned to the workers once they go back home. 

The advantage for law enforcement is that these workers would be operating in the open with proper identification and not in the shadows of 

society. Cornyn says this would also reduce tension on the border and allow migrants to come and go legally and safely. "They could literally travel back and forth to their home country legally so they would not have to worry about law enforcement officials being their enemy," says Cornyn. "They would literally be their ally and protect them against exploitation." 

Similar guest worker proposals are being sponsored by three other U.S. lawmakers. These proposals resemble the so-called "bracero" program of the 1940's in which millions of Mexican laborers came north to do jobs left vacant by men who had gone off to fight in World War II. But critics say that program was a mixed success and many of the workers claim till this day that they were not paid all the money owed them. 

Legalization of undocumented Mexican workers has been a major goal of Mexican President Vicente Fox. Fox seemed on the verge of success two years ago after a meeting with President Geroge Bush in Washington, but the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, followed that meeting by only a few days and U.S. policy shifted to securing the borders. 

President Fox says an immigration accord remains a top priority for his government, but he has not endorsed any specific proposal. Mexican officials and their U.S. counterparts are continuing discussions on the issue, but with an election year approaching in the United States no one is expecting significant progress soon.


 
Cancun trade parley opens today with 'high stakes'
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A senior U.S. trade official says the stakes are high at the Cancun ministerial for the World Trade Organization and the global economy.

In a satellite video conference between U.S. officials here and Indian journalists in New Delhi. Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Dorothy Dwoskin said the United States has proposed bold market openings in all market areas for the Cancun ministerial meeting that starts today in that Mexican city.

The United States does not intend to settle for the "lowest common denominator" but will try to advance the global trade agenda established at the Doha 2001 meeting of the World Trade Organization, Ms. Dwoskin said.

"[O]ne of the issues that we're going to have to tackle at Cancun is how we can arrive at frameworks, particularly for agriculture and nonagricultural market access in a way that advances the Doha agenda and ensures that we continue to have a single trading system and not two sets of rules, one for the North, and one for 

the South. We don't really think that a North-South split for these negotiations is really appropriate," Dwoskin said. 

Officials use the term "North" and "South" instead of "developed" and "developing" in referring to countries.

Shaun Donnelly is principal deputy assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs. He said that the Cancun meeting marks the midway point for achieving the goals of the Doha agenda, and all issues will not be resolved at Cancun.

Ms. Dwoskin said going into the Cancun ministerial, the United States is delighted at the recent agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property rights and access to medicine for developing countries. She praised India for playing a constructive role in forging a compromise on an issue that is of great importance especially to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Donnelly said the United States and India have many similarities, such as large diversified economies, and a common interest in working together at the World Trade organization.

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