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These stories wre published Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 192
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A.M. Costa Rica photo
Bye-bye
for now

The Dalai Lama bids farewell to his new friends at the Asamblea Nacional after an afternoon visit Monday.

Another photo and a story

BELOW!

 

 
Another case of cruelty destroys family friend
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The time was about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and I was ready to sleep. Suddenly there was strong kicking at my door.

At that moment I thought the kicks were from my brother who used to visit me late in the night. Or maybe a thief was trying to get into my house.  That would not be unusual in our south suburb of San José.

So more afraid than curious, I looked out the window.

My mother’s dog, a beautiful, smart and funny 4-year-old Dalmatian named Peggy was there with her head down.  Her two back paws were partly paralyzed. Her muzzle was full of this thick, white dribble.   She was beating herself against the wall. At the same time her three little puppies were following her trying to nurse.

What had happened was obvious: Peggy was poisoned.

Somebody decided her destiny. She had the same luck as the last nine or more dogs of my family. All probably died by a criminal hand since we moved into this neighborhood 25 years ago.

So I called my parents in a nearby house to let them know what was happening to Peggy. Everyone at home came to see  what they could do for the poor beast.

Five people are trying to save her life.  Five more are crying, and all pose the same questions: Who could be the criminal and why? 

We tried everything to save the life of our dear friend. I even called  911 to see if persons there could give instructions to save Peggy’s life. But they said they didn’t consider a dog’s life important. They responded coldly: "Call a veterinarian."

Another killer stalks
another valley town

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another section of the Central Valley is having its problems with dog poisoners, too.

A reader reports that at least 11 dogs have died that way in Ciudad Colón, some 15 miles west of San José.

The wave of killings is so great that residents have taken to printing up fliers that are posted around town. They make it clear that there is a criminal penalty for killing animals.

So we gave at least three liters of milk, and salt a veterinarian recommended. The salt was supposed to provoke vomit. We gave carbon pills and later external heart massage. 

But the poison dose was lethal and the fight was in vain. Her heart collapsed and she died after 45 minutes of suffering, leaving her puppies orphans.

Even though we have lived this experience several times, we will never get used to seeing our pets dying in this cruel and unjust way. 

As with the other dogs, Peggy was a member of the family, and she did not deserve to go this way. 

The author of this horrible crime perhaps did not know about the law which could send him to jail.

According to a spokesperson for the Asociación de Protección de Animales, such a law exists in Costa Rica to punish those who kill or mistreat pets and other animals.

 
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Television stars won’t
just be the athletes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police officials want to expand the use of closed-circuit television to increase surveillance at first division football games.

The system was in use Sunday at the game between Deportiva Saprissa and Liga Deportiva Alajuelense.

Officers in a control room could zoom in on areas of unusual activity or study the crowd for wanted individuals or known troublemakers.

Monday, Comisario Walter Navarro of the Fuerza Pública gave a demonstration to representatives of all the major teams and representatives of three of the major league organizations.

By using taped television surveillance Sunday the Fuerza Pública was able to radio for immediate police intervention whenever fans appeared to be getting disorderly. In addition, police were able to identify persons who threw objects on to the field.  They also had a permanent record of the event.

The system used Sunday was able to view nearly an entire side of the stadium and then zoom in on individuals so that their faces were recognizable.

Fans have been rowdy, but there also have been bloody confrontation between fans and police outside the stadiums, particularly after night games.

Constitution court
asked to settle dispute

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The minister de Obras Públicas y Transportes took the unusual step Monday of asking the constitutional court to resolve a conflict with the Contraloría General de la República.

A spokesperson for the Poder Judicial characterized the action as not very common but allowed under the jurisdiction of the court, the Sala IV.

Ovidio Pacheco is the minister of Obras Públicas. 

The filing says that a conflict exists between the criteria that the Contraloría issued earlier this month and the ministry. Alex Solís, the contralor, said that there were unconstitutional aspects to the contract that the ministry had with Riteve S y C, the vehicle inspection company.

Monopolies are illegal in Costa Rica, and Solís said that Riteve approached a monopoly. However, he stopped short of trying to void the contract.

In another development related to Riteve, the company said that its Nicoya inspection station would be closed today because the local power company is doing some line work.

U.S. Coast Guard has
record cocaine year

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

ALAMEDA, Calif., - The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Chase, which patrols the Pacific along Central and South America, seized more than 2,000 pounds of cocaine this year. That total contributed to the Coast Guard's record-setting confiscation of 240,518 pounds of cocaine from Oct. 1, 2003 to Sept. 30 this year.

The Coast Guard said the cocaine haul was worth approximately $7.7 billion, The previous annual record of 138,393 pounds was surpassed May 29. 

Some 71 percent of the more than 100-ton total of drug seizures that lead to this year's record were conducted in the Pacific theater of operations by Coast Guard units stationed in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. 

Chase's seizure brings the total of cocaine seized by Coast Guard law enforcement detachments and cutters in its Pacific theater of operations to over 182,000 pounds for the fiscal year. The cutter is based in San Diego, Calif.

Man shot to death
and his car burned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

At least two men shot a third man in the chest Monday then dumped his body in a ravine. For good measure they torched his car.

The name of the victim is not known for sure, but he is the second person to died under such circumstances in as many days.

The incident took place in Rancho Redondo, Goicoechea. The victim appears to have sustained three bullets in the chest.

In Limón Sunday a pirate taxi driver was found dead from four bullets in his chest. He was identified as Javier Marín Fernández, 38.

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Another big day for the visiting Dalai Lama here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

He may look frail, and he is pushing 70, but the Dalai Lama had little trouble in following a tight schedule Monday.

In addition to public appearances and meetings with politicians, the visiting spiritual and exiled political leader had private events. All was conducted under tight security and reached via a convoy under police escort.

The convoy even included an ambulance and paramedics in case problems developed.

Today the Dalai Lama meets with Roman Catholic Church leaders. Then he will meet with other religious leaders. At 4 p.m. at the Museo de los Niños, the Dalai Lama will participate in the destruction of the mandala, the sand painting that has been meticulously assembly by Buddhist monks over the last two weeks. The idea is to show lack of permanence in earthy life.

The Dalai Lama began his day in public with an address about ethics at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Dalai Lama takes the time to greet a guard at the Asamblea Nacional.

Later it was lunch with President Abel Pacheco and an afternoon meeting with the Asamblea Nacional. Through it all he telegraphed humility and humor.


 
More readers have say on driving and Bruce Harris
Modest proposal
to get hard cash

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I see the tax bill is progressing(?!) through the Asemblea again now that the Sala 4 has found it constitutional. Costa Rica badly needs tax reform, but I don't think this bill is the answer. The politicos are already rubbing their hands thinking about more pork in the barrel, not about reducing the external debt. 

Although not altogether original, I have a plan to bring some immediate hard cash into the country's coffers.

First, the traffic fine structure has to be changed, as follows:

Running a red light or stop sign: 1st offence 50,000-colon fine; 2nd offence 100,000 fine plus license suspended for 6 months. 

Driving without a license: 100,000 fine plus impound car.

Excessive speed, over 120 kph first offence 50,000 fine; 2nd offence 100,000 fine plus license suspended for 6 months.

Passing on shoulder: 50,000 fine.

Weaving/improper lane changing 50,000 fine.

Not putting children in car seats, allowing them to roam around the car freely, 100,000 fine, lose license for six months, impound car. 

Obstructing traffic: this refers to slow moving trucks, buses etc not pulling over and allowing others to pass - 50,000 fine.

Overweight/unsafe trucks 100,000 fine, impound vehicle.

Illegal parking: 25,000 fine plus tow it away!

Second, we need about 100 really professional and honest cops to go out there and enforce these laws. They actually do exist here; I met one near Nicoya who wrote me a speeding ticket. (which I deserved) If you can't find enough of them here, go and borrow some California, Arizona and New Mexico Highway patrolmen, professional and lots of them are fluent in Spanish.

In six months we will have paid off the national debt, greatly reduced the accident rate, and changed the driving habits of Ticos for the better. Any money left over should be spent on driver's education programs first, then on the roads.

Pete Todd 
Puriscal
Wants more thought
before criticism

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

So writer John McLaughlin assumes that Bruce Harris is a pervert because he paid for sex with a young adult male.

It is clear that Mr. Harris should have steered well clear of any paid sex, at least for the sake of his organization's good name.

Not so clear are the reasons for Mr. McLaughlin's thinly veiled hostility to Casa Alianza, and for that matter towards gays.

Is Mr. McLaughlin, by chance, one of those over-the-hill North Americans who comes to Costa Rica for sex with underage girls?

Just in case this is not true, perhaps we should all be a bit more careful before we publicly air our assumptions about the character of others. 

Ross Martin 
Toronto/Quepos
Bruce Harris called
a great man

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In Defense Of Bruce Harris:

I think there must be some real nasty internal politics in the management of Casa Alianza.  As far as I can tell from the news, Bruce Harris did not break any laws. The boy was over age 18 and prostitution in Honduras is legal.  I would think an employer for over 15 years would show a little decency in providing some confidentiality regarding the firing of an employee for breaking any internal policies regarding employees. 

He was not arrested and did not commit any crime, he simply violated company policy, which should have been handled internally and confidentially.  Casa Alianza’s decision to release to the general public these details has lowered my opinion of this organization and whoever is running it.

I think it is horrible that an employer would release to the press the confidential nature of firing someone for internal reason.  Again, Bruce did not break the law.  This seems to also feed the general public misconception that all gays are child molesters.

I have to admire Bruce for his courage in the face of these attacks.  Here is a man who put his life on the line for a cause and aggressively tried to make a difference in our sick world where the legal system often looks the other way. He made a lot of enemies during his crusade, and now, I guess, they are enjoying their revenge. 

Bruce publicly admitted his ethical error, I can only admire that in the man, few people have such courage.  I can only have the deepest compassion for the man and what he must be going though with his family and the damage to his reputation and career.  He is literally being burned at the stake without a trial and having committed no crime.

To suggest or encourage that now, his entire life should be investigated, I can only see as providing a field day for his enemies, and those who hate gays and bisexuals. 

I can only pray for the man and what he is going through and pray that his wife and children stand by him through this horrible crisis. And I hope, if you publish this letter, Bruce can feel some comfort in the fact that I believe there are thousands of individuals like myself that continue to admire this man for his great accomplishments. 

This is a great man who has changed forever, the lives and futures of tens of thousands of hopeless children, by giving them hope.  He has bravely stood up against powerful people, who have greedily profited from the exploitation of children in the sex trade and the illegal adoption business.  These people have committed horrible crimes and should be legally punished as an example to discourage the incredible growth of this industry.

Is it really fair to punish Bruce Harris for an error in judgment when he committed no crime?

Edward Bridges 
Desamparados 
Punctuation needed
to make a point

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding your statement:

"The country court system is broken down into four different courts or salas only as a method to expedite matters, not to have different sets of rules for different processes. The spirit of the legal system here is to have one congruent authority."

This shows extremely poor syntax. There should be a period after broken. The statement should read "The country court system is broken." This now makes sense.

Joe Sullivan
Kokomo, Indiana, USA

 
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Humphrey was key player
U.S. supported Oduber in 1966 election, book says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey gave support to Costa Rican presidential candidate Daniel Oduber Quiros for the 1966 national elections here.

Humphrey favored Oduber over José Joaquin Trejos Fernández of the National Unification Party and 

told Oduber in a Sept. 15, 1965, meeting in Washington that "liberal people up here should have an interest in the outcome of this election" and agreed to enlist "some labor friends of his."

Humphrey also directed an aide to tell the American Broadcasting Corp. to quit favoring Trejos, 

Daniel Oduber Quiros
as Oduber had complained. ABC owned a television outlet here.

There also is a strong possibility that the United States invested cash in the Oduber presidential campaign. The candidate wanted $1.5 million.

These were revelations from a just-released official record: "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico." The book was prepared by the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, U. S. Department of State.

Although the United States claims that it never interferes in Costa Rican elections, the new book documents efforts by Oduber to get help from the U.S. administration.

It also reports that Trejos, the eventually winner, complained about secret U.S. support for his opponent.

There were many Latin American hot spots at the time, but Costa Rica was not one. The efforts by the Democratic Humphrey, vice president to Lyndon B. Johnson, appears to have been based on political philosophy and personal friendships.

Oduber eventually won the presidency eight years later in 1974. 

The documents in this volume are drawn from the centralized indexed files of the Department of State and the decentralized bureau, office, and other files of the relevant departmental units, said an announcement. The editors also make extensive use of presidential and other papers at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, as well as recordings of President Johnson's telephone conversations, they said. In addition, the volume includes records of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

Most of the documents were classified, and some lines in some of the documents still are and are not available.

A summary of the relevant official papers says this:

"The United States has traditionally supported Costa Rican democracy, avoiding involvement in domestic politics including Presidential elections. The election of February 1966, however, proved an exception. 

"The leading contender that year was Daniel Oduber, candidate of the Partido Liberacion Nacional. Although the PLN usually enjoyed an electoral advantage, Oduber faced a strong 

Lyndon B. Johnson Library photo
Hubert Humphrey and President Lyndon Johnson about the time of the Oduber meeting.

challenge from José Trejos Fernández, candidate of the National Unification Party. Oduber was concerned enough about the outcome that he sought support from an unusual source: Vice President Hubert Humphrey. 

"In a meeting with Humphrey, Sept. 15, 1965, Oduber said he needed outside assistance ‘for his campaign to be really successful.’ Humphrey evidently agreed to enlist ‘some labor friends of his.’ 

"Whether Humphrey actually delivered on this promise is unclear; Oduber, on the other hand, clearly believed that he would receive financial support from the U.S. government. In early December, Oduber asked when the money would be forthcoming. 

"As a result, the Johnson administration was suddenly forced to decide whether to intervene in the Costa Rican Presidential election. In assessing the situation, the embassy reluctantly concluded that ‘prospects for smooth transition to a new administration and the effective functioning of that administration would be best in the event of an Oduber victory.’ 

"Trejos narrowly defeated Oduber in the February Presidential election."

Trejos won by a scant 4,300 votes.

Oduber also claimed that the Trejos campaign, because it was slightly more conservative, was being financed by the Nicaraguan leader Gen. Anastasio Somoza.

Costa Rica represents a tiny part of the Johnson policies in Latin America. The time was a difficult one. Coups and insurgencies were rampant. The hunt was on for Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Bolivia. Guantemalan terrorists assasinated U.S. Ambassador Gordon Mein as well as two U.S. military officers. 

Johnson was trying to hold together President John F. Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress in the face of more pragmatic policymakers in the State Department.

The text of the volume and the summary are available on the Office of the Historian Web  site. 
The text also is available as a printed book.


 
 
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