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Jo Stuart
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The article shere were published Friday, Sept. 14, 2001
Congratulations on your independence, Costa Rica!!
Independence Day is Saturday
NASA photo
AS SEEN FROM SPACE — The plume of smoke from the World Trade Center terrorist attack is seen streaming from downtown Manhattan and flowing across Sandy Hook and into New Jersey in this Space Lab photo.

Flowers show sympathy
as memorial Mass planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The flowers are beginning to gather at the U.S. Embassy in San José as Costa Ricans seek a way to express their sympathy for the terrorist attack that killed thousands in the United States Tuesday.

Another warning to U.S. citizens: CLICK

The Archbishop of San José will preside at a memorial Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral this morning at 9 a.m. downtown. Costa Rica firemen plan to lay a memorial wreath at the embassy today at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, Canada joined those countries that already are in mourning, and a service on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, will be held at noon today to honor the dead.

Some Costa Ricans and expats are promoting a candle lighting Friday night at 7 p.m. in which participants are urged to step out of their door and light a candle. This is being done in the United States, too.

Some U.S. citizens, stranded here when U.S. airspace was shut down right after the terrorist airline attacked, were trying to return home through Mexico Thursday. They were seen en route to the airport Thursday afternoon to fly via TACA to the Mexican-U.S. border. "Wish us luck," one said.

Otherwise, not much was moving out of Juan Santamaría Airport for the United States Thursday, and the delays might be longer than originally anticipated because of additional incidents at U.S. airports.

Crates of fresh products and perishable food such as fish were building up at the airport with no way to go. Costa Rica exports food products, herbs, and cut flowers on a daily basis to the United States. Mail shipments in and out of the country were affected, as were overnight delivery services. Much international mail flies on jets.

Hotel owners reported no problems with the U.S. tourists overstaying their planned time in the country. Most hotels were more full than normal but nearly all still had space, a quick survey of the major ones showed.
Florida prison escapee turns up here

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

Black Tuesday smoke

Tuesday morning when I got up at 6 a.m. I decided for the first time in several months, not to watch the news. Instead, I turned to C-Span where a program on the environment was in progress. The CEO of some big company in Texas had become an environmentalist and was explaining the dangers of our way of life. I remember he said that we eat only three times a day and breathe thousands of times. Yet we are more concerned about what goes in our stomachs than what goes in our lungs. If we continue to pollute our air, he said, we are headed for extinction. 

Just then a friend called and said, "Are you watching the news?" I turned to CNN and began watching the horror unfold. When I saw people trying to protect their lungs from the dust, smoke and debris of the decimated Trade Center, I couldn't help thinking about the environmentalist’s words. War of any kind is bad for the lungs. 

Sometime during the morning I surfed through various channels - mainly foreign language stations - to see what they were covering. All of them were reporting on the tragedy unfolding in New York. Then I clicked on the food channel. There was Molto Mario cooking and explaining Italian dishes as only he can. I thought about the phrase, "comfort food." I   wanted to keep watching Mario, to just pretend that there was nothing more important on the TV than learning a recipe. I wanted to find the comfort I always seem to find watching people cook. It is curious that of all our basic needs, only food is associated with the adjective "comfort." There is no such phrase as "comfort air," or "comfort sex" or "comfort sleep." 

I switched back to a channel with the repeated image of the World Trade Tower collapsing in a cloud of killer dust and debris and thought that many people would find great comfort in a bit of fresh air. I hoped that there would be many more who survived and that evening, would be able to eat mashed potatoes, or spaghetti sauce, or a taco, or a hamburger, or peanut butter or chocolate - whatever would comfort them.

In the afternoon I returned to the food channel. Instead of the happy picture of a capable cook making delicious looking food, there were these words on a black background: "Due to the nature of today’s tragic events, Food Network is suspending programming. Our thoughts go out to the victims and their family." So do mine.

FBI seeking extradition
of Florida jail escapee

By Jay Brodell
A.M. Costa Rica editor

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking the extradition of a Cuban man who fell into police hands after a masked man broke into the home of a San José restaurant operator.

The wanted man is Julio Bonchea, 31, who also is know by the last name Bonachea, according to officials in Florida. He was arrested more than a month ago in a police search of Barrio Amon in San José north after the home intrusion.

Bonchea steadfastly refused to identify himself correctly, and investigators here then turned to sources outside the country to identify him, according to the Judicial Investigation Organization. 

Bonchea had good reason to keep his identify secret. Florida officials said he is wanted on two counts of attempted second-degree murder there as well as for escaping prison. Investigators here said he also is wanted in a murder that took place in Tallahasee, Fla. FBI agents have not commented.

The attack on the restaurant owner took place early in the morning in the La Palma restaurant at Avenida 9 and Calle 9 in Barrio Amon, said Costa Rican investigators who also said:

The assailant was dressed in black with a black ski mask. He carried a pistol with a silencer as well as a knife. He confronted restaurant owner Stephen Thompson and his wife, both identified as U.S. citizens.

Bonchea weighs about 155  pounds and Thompson is described by friends as a bodybuilder. The restaurant owner fought with the intruder, managed to disarm him, and the intruder fled. Police found him later hiding nearby.

Thompson said Thursday night that Bonchea probably will not be extradited until he has served time for the home invasion here. That is Costa Rican law, he said, noting that the actual extradition request comes from the State of Florida. He dismissed descriptions by others that he was a hero and said, simply, that he was lucky.

The FBI had been seeking Bonchea since March 26, 2000, when he was able to slip out of the Calhoun Correctional Institute near Panama City, Fla., according to Florida officials.

He was there for a crime similar to the one he is accused of committing here in Costa Rica. He received an18-year sentence for the attempted murder of a man he was trying to rob during a home invasion in Hialeah, Fla., near Miami in 1997, according to Florida officials. He was convicted of stabbing the victim six times and trying to shoot him with a pistol. 

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said that on Sunday, March 26, 2000, Bonchea's brother, Joel, and his 11-year-old nephew visited him. Joel Bonchea smuggled clothes and money into the prison facility, by wearing a second set of clothes over the top of his jeans and shirt, and lined his leather jacket with cash, said officials, who added: 

During the visit Joel disrobed in the visitor's bathroom where he planted the clothes and money. Afterwards, Julio Bonchea sneaked into the visitor's bathroom where he changed into the civilian clothes and pocketed the cash. He left the restroom and mingled with visitors, then walked out of prison. 

Agents said believe Bonchea hitchhiked to a truck stop on Interstate 10, about 30 miles east from the prison. Joel Bonchea was arrested in Hialeah and has been charged with aiding and abetting in the escape.

Florida officials said that Bonchea also has a criminal history of kidnapping. Investigators here said that Bonchea now is in the admission unit of San Sebastian Prison in south San José

Julio Bonchea
A.M. Costa Rica photo
La Palma Restaurant where the assault took place more than a month ago.

Heredia shooting
kills one man

Two gunmen tried to rob a taquería in San Rafael de Heredia Wednesday about 11 p.m. and ended up killing Milton Aguilar Mireira, 46, who confronted them, according to the Judicial Investigation Organization. 

Another man, Jesus Campo Hernandez, 45, was injured. The would-be robbers fled emply-handed, police said.

Anti-drug strategies
stress cooperation

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 65 military men who fight drugs in Central America wrapped up a four-day conference in San José Thursday. They heard a high Costa Rican official tell them "You are on the side of good."

Some 25 of the men were associated with the United States, either as serviceman or civilian employees, and the event was sponsored by the U.S. Southern Command, which supervised military drug-fighting operations throughout Central and South America. Some 45 of the participants were officers in various Central American military units. 

The idea was to discuss drug-fighting strategies and problems and to promote cooperation among military units to cut down on the shipment of drugs through and by way of Central America., according to an embassy announcement.

Lic. Eduardo Araya Vega, vice minister of Public Security in Costa Rica, was the main speaker Thursday afternoon. He said drug enforcement was getting better, but budgetary constraints were a problem. 

"There is a will that surpasses all these consideration," he said, adding that no country can face a crisis like the drug trade alone and that cooperation is needed.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Rob Post of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is congratulated for completing the four-day seminar by Lic. Eduaro Araya Vega, vice minister of Public Security, and Linda Jewell, chargé d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy here.

"This battle is not a short battle," he warned as he proclaimed those present as being on the side of right.

Participants said that the spectre of terrorism hung over the conference because the terror attack on New York took place the second day.

U.S. issues another strong warning to citizens
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The U.S. government renewed its continuing warning to citizens abroad Thursday in the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

The U.S. State Department issued a strong warning last Friday, fully four days before the terrorist attacks, but the thrust of the message was on the possiblity of terrorism abroad and not within the United States.

"U.S. citizens and interests abroad may be at increased risk of terrorist actions from extremist groups," said the warning, adding that the State Department still was worried about unconfirmed threats against U.S. military installations in Korea and Japan.

In almost the same phrasing as was used Sept. 7, the State Department said "In addition, we continue to be concerned about information we received in May 2001 that American citizens may be the target 

of a terrorist threat from extremist groups with links to Usama Bin Ladin's Al-Qaida organization. In the past, such individuals have not distinguished
between official and civilian targets. We take this information seriously. In light of the above information, U.S. Government facilities worldwide
remain at a heightened state of alert."

Repeating its usual warnings, the State Department said Americans should maintain a low profile, vary routes and times for all required travel, and treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion. 

American citizens also were urged to avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and to report the presence of the objects to local authorities. Vehicles should not be left unattended and should be kept locked at all times, the annoucement said. 

U.S. Government personnel overseas have been advised to take the same precautions, it added.

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