Your daily English-language news
at the speed of
WASHINGTON, D. C. — The Bush administration has announced the creation of another task force to improve regulations dealing with drug trafficking, terrorist financing and other illegal activities involving money laundering.
In testimony Thursday before a House committee, Kenneth Dam, deputy treasury secretary, said the task force will work with financial regulators, law enforcement officials, consumers and others for more effective implementation of the broad anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering law known as the PATRIOT Act.
He said the Treasury Department task force will work "to improve the regulations that we have already implemented" in carrying out the PATRIOT Act, which was passed by Congress shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks against the United States.
The effort is more than just directed against terrorists. Said Dam: "We are cleaning up the financial environment generally. Hardly a week passes without news that a foreign government or bank has taken an important new step to crack down on money laundering or terrorist financing.
Dam cited what he said were major accomplishments over the past 11 months. These include:
• Together with federal regulators, issuing customer identification and verification rules.
• Developing a proposed rule that seeks to minimize risks presented by correspondent
|banking and private banking accounts.
• Expanding our basic anti-money laundering program requirement to the major financial services sectors, including insurance and unregistered investment companies, such as hedge funds.
• Developing rules to permit and facilitate the sharing of information between law enforcement and financial institutions, as well as among financial institutions themselves.
Dam said the United States is fighting terrorist financing by taking a broad approach in extending controls to the full range of financial services industries that may be susceptible to abuse.
For example, within the last few months, the U.S. Customs Service confiscated $16.1 million that was hidden by travelers and shippers seeking to avoid laws about reporting the movement of sums over $10,000. Some of the money was headed to the Middle East, but in one case, inspectors seized a smuggled certificate of deposit worth $297,000 that was concealed in a parcel bound for Central America.
Dam didn’t say where in Central America.
The Bush administration has labeled groups in Latin America as terrorists. And since these groups make money selling drugs, more and more the United States is treating drug dealers and smugglers with the same rigor that is being used on Middle Eastern terrorist organizations. Any type of money laundering activity is assumed to be involved with drug operations, under the current Washington point of view.
Don't wait to see
"Lista de espera," Cuba (co-production with Spain,
Mexico and France),
Director: Juan Carlos Tabio. Screenwriters: Senel Paz, Juan Carlos Tabio and Arturo Arango. Director of Photography: Hans Burmann Music: Jose Maria Vitier
Cast: Vladimir Cruz, Thaimi Alvarino, Jorge Perugorria, Saturnino Garcia, Antonio Velera
Producer: Gerardo Herrero, Camilo Vives, Jorge Sánchez.
Well . . . if you want to die laughing this weekend, you have to be in "The Waiting List" at Sala Garbo, 100 meters south of Pizza Hut on Paseo Colón.
"Lista de espera" (The Waiting List) is in 100 percent Cuban Spanish. It is a gift of the Cuban director Juan Carlos Tabio, codirector of 1993's multiple award-winning "Strawberry and Chocolate" or "Fresas con chocolate."
This film describes the interactions among people who find themselves at a remote bus station in the Cuban countryside. They have a long time to wait for the Havanna-Santiago bus because the only transportation is broken and being repaired.
Emilio, a young engineer, and a Cuban beauty called Jackelin both want a seat on the bus. She is going to be married. Added to the mix is a Spanish man and a blind man who expects to have the first place in line when the bus arrives because of his disability.
To be stuck in the countryside is more than an inconvenience, and the bus to Havana represents hope. But when the vehicle fails a second time, the owner closes up shop and the little group must wait some more.
While they wait, group members experience strong human emotions, including love and solidarity, After all, it’s a Cuban film,
The film is a comedy, and the Cuban Spanish is challenging even for the native speaker. An unnamed star of the show is the beautiful Cuban countryside and a nearby beach that shows the natural gifts of the communist country.
The show will run until Wedneday four times a day. Be ready to laugh a lot even if some of the punch lines go over your head. Admission is 1,500 colons, about $4.
—Saray Ramírez Vindas
|U.S. cast watchful
over Latin terrorism
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services
WASHINGTON, D.C. — South America has not figured prominently in the war against the Al-Qaida terrorist group, but U.S. officials are keeping a close eye on areas of the continent where they fear the terrorists could be getting clandestine support.
Defense officials make clear they have no hard evidence and cannot prove Al-Qaida has any presence or support network in South America.
But they told international news sources that they suspect some members of the terrorist group may have used the continent as a transit point. They also suspect Al-Qaida may be garnering other support from Muslim communities in at least two areas well known for illicit activities like arms dealing, drug smuggling, and money-laundering.
Chief among these is the tri-border area where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet. Another is where Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay come together. Both have significant Muslim populations.
"We do not have any indication that those populations are engaged either in conducting terrorist operations or in training terrorists in this hemisphere," said John Merrill, the Pentagon's director for Western Hemisphere Affairs.
"We have no confirmation that there is an Al-Qaida presence among those populations. What we do know is that those populations or elements of them either wittingly or unwittingly contribute financially to Middle Eastern groups with which they have cultural and historic links including Hamas and Hezbollah."
Defense officials say the United States has been working closely with government officials in South America to ensure terrorists cannot find a foothold on the continent.
But Merrill warns that areas like the tri-border regions pose risks: "There are a number of what we tend to call ungoverned areas in Latin America in which one can only speculate about the range of illegal activity."
"But clearly there are places in this hemisphere where falsification of transit documents exist, where there is corruption, and one can imagine a scenario in which people would move through ungoverned areas in Latin America or transit the region facilitated by some form of corruption . . . "
At least one credible report places a key Al-Qaida figure in South America in the early 1990s, about the time of the terrorist bombings in Argentina.
The figure is Ayman al-Zawahiri, who reportedly visited Argentina at the time he was leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group, but he later allied with Osama bin Laden. He is alleged to be a key planner of last year's September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Zawahiri is on the United States most-wanted list, with a price on his
head of $25 million. His whereabouts remain unknown. But defense
officials do not believe he is in South America.
|Jubilant rally held
as Aleman removed
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services
MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Thousands of citizens held a jubilant rally here Thursday as former President Arnoldo Aleman was removed from his leadership position in the National Assembly. Maria Dolores Aleman, his daughter, has fled to Costa Rica.
The former president has been accused of stealing nearly $100 million from the state.
The rally took place as leftist Sandinista lawmakers and those loyal to President Enrique Bolanos ousted Aleman during a special session of congress. Legislators loyal to Aleman boycotted the vote. Aleman was absent, but says he will not accept the decision.
Thursday's move is seen as a key step in efforts to bring Aleman to trial for corruption. The former president, who has congressional immunity, denies wrongdoing during his five-year term that ended in January.
Prosecutors have also filed arrest warrants against 11 Aleman associates and relatives, of which one is his daughter.
Ms. Aleman enjoyed immunity as a member of Congress while her father was president of the National Assembly.
There was no confirmation last night if Ms. Aleman was going through Costa Rica or if she planned to stay here. A Costa Rican member of her extended family who arrived on the same plane said he had no idea.
Rio suspect arrested
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services
RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — Police have captured a drug lord here believed responsible for the murder of a television journalist in June. The drug lord's capture followed a massive police deployment in one of the city's shantytowns.
Police captured Elias Pereira da Silva after surrounding a slum where he was hiding. More than 200 police were involved in the massive manhunt, which began earlier in the week.
The drug lord, known as "Crazy Elias", surrendered without resistance. He is accused of ordering the murder of television journalist Tim Lopes in June.
Lopes, who was known for his documentaries on the drug trade, was working undercover investigating child prostitution and cocaine dealing at parties organized by drug traffickers.
Lopes was seized by local drug dealers and then allegedly on orders of Crazy Elias savagely tortured and killed. The remains of his burnt body were discovered weeks after his disappearance.
The murder of the journalist shocked the city and drew renewed attention to the growing power of drug traffickers in the city's slums. International Press Watchdog groups also issued statements of concern about the situation.
Police are holding six other men captured in recent weeks in connection with the murder of Lopes. Two other suspects were killed by police after resisting arrest.
Democrats will hear
Democrats Abroad of Costa Rica will discuss the proposed International Law Enforcement Academy in Costa Rica at its scheduled monthly meeting Sept. 30, with Francisco Cordero as speaker.
Cordero has been a Partido Liberación Nacional consultant for the past 12 years in Costa Rica.
The meeting will be held at the Gran Hotel Costa Rica with a business meeting at 11 a.m., a buffet lunch at noon and speaker at 12:45 p.m.
For information and required lunch reservations (3.000 colons for members and 3.500 colons for guests), please contact Dorothy Sagel at 249-1856 or Jerry Karl at 232-7048 no later than Thursday
All in the community are welcome for the buffet lunch, and speaker.
The police academy is a controversial topic because some believe that the training will provide information that will enable officials to violate human rights.
|Pair to face counts
of Papagayo thefts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Investigators arrested two 20-year-old men as suspects in a number of break-ins at schools, houses, sports centers and stores in the Golfo de Papagayo area.
Agents said the men face charges they stole items worth up to 25 million colons, about $68,000. The men were identified by the last names of Sotela and Lara.
The two men were arrested selling items in Liberia, said agents. A later raid turned up a number of stolen items, they said. Agents said they had been investigating the pair for three months.
Woman shot dead,
by the A.M. Costa Rica staff
A man shot a women dead Thursday in Tambor de Alajuela. The dead woman was identified by her last name of Espinoza. She was 42.
Investigators said the shooting was a result of a neighborhood dispute and they took a neighbor into custody a few hours later. He was identified by the last names of Jiménez Aroyo.
The shooting happened a little after noon in the house of the woman. The assailant fled, and agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization later identified the suspect as the killer.
This is the third shooting of an individual by a neighbor this week,
|What we published this week:||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday||Earlier|