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These stories were published Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 199
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Consuls are briefed on new residency rules
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica’s diplomats from the United States and from Vancouver, Canada, went to school over the weekend to find out how they should handle requests for residency from foreign citizens.

The two-day seminar was held in Washington, D.C., by representatives of the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería and the Ministerio de Relaciones y Culto.

The idea was to brief those who work in the various Costa Rican consulates on the changes in procedures put into effect by the immigration department.

The basic change is that applications for residency no longer will be accepted from foreigners while they are in Costa Rica. The original application must be made at a Costa Rican consulate in their home country near to where they live.

When immigration officials announced the change, they threw the residency program into limbo because no one outside of the immigration department in San José knew what to do. The seminar is a way of playing catch-up to bring Costa Rican diplomats elsewhere up to speed.

A rather upbeat press release from the foreign ministry announced the meetings. The release said that the purpose of the seminar was to clarify procedures for permanent 

residency for North Americans who want to live in Costa Rica.

In the past, visitors came to Costa Rica and filed for residency here if they decided to stay. The immigration rules now say that the would-be resident must return to his or her home country. 

The question is still open as to whether the return has to be in person or simply in the form of an express envelope containing all the required documents.

Immigration says it is simply enforcing a law that has never been enforced in the past. Several groups of lawyers here are filing suit against immigration, in part, because they lost significant business during the two months while immigration was refusing local applications but no procedures had been outlined to diplomats elsewhere.

Jaime Daremblum, the Costa Rican ambassador to the United States, told the visiting diplomats that they, the consuls, are the face of the country in their jurisdictions. "You are our bridge for tourism, for attracting investments and, above all, it is you who are in constant contact with Costa Ricans who live in the United States."

Consuls also attended a briefing by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service about changes that have gone into effect at U.S. borders following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Being 'mule' is poor career choice, police say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More young Costa Ricans are getting involved in the drug trade as couriers, and drug investigators are concerned.

The latest arrest was of Cross Brown, a native of Limón. She is 20 years of age and now faces a possible sentence of 20 years in prison after being detained at Juan Santamaría Airport Saturday.

Policía de Control de Drogas of the Ministerio de Seguridad said she had more than a kilo of cocaine on her person.

The young woman was coming from Panamá and had planned to fly from the airport to Caracas where she was to catch a flight to Amsterdam and later to London, said police.

Officials of the anti-drug police used the arrest as a reason to call upon young Costa Ricans to avoid becoming involved in the international drug trade. They said that they were concerned by the young age of some of the persons who have been detained recently for being drug couriers.

International drug organizations promise their couriers, called "mules," that they will protect them and pay them if they are caught and go to prisons, police officials said. But they said the truth is different. When police capture the gang leaders, economic aid stops, they said, and the young courier is stuck in a jail with long prison terms frequently far from his or her native land.

Miss Brown had a packet of cocaine secreted in a wig and an additional packet in some underwear, said police.

The San José-to-Caracas route is being used more and more often by cocaine smugglers. 

Ministerio de Seguridad photo
These packets were found on a young Costa Rican at Juan Santamaría Airport, drug police said.

Police nabbed two Italian residents of Costa Rica at the airport last week and said they were carrying cocaine to Europe.

Police officials said that the Caracas airport presents less security risks to drug smugglers than does U.S. airports, particularly after they have been tightened for anti-terrorist security. U.S. customs officials use high-tech machines and dogs to ferret out contraband even in the luggage of passengers who are just in transit through the country.

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President Bush says U.S. can't wait for final proof
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

CINCINNATI — Facing evidence that Iraq maintains weapons of mass destruction, and is developing nuclear weapons, the United States cannot wait for the final proof before acting to protect itself, President Bush said in an address to the nation Monday.

"We have every reason to assume the worst, and we have an urgent duty to prevent the worst from occurring," Bush said.

He was speaking as the U.S. Congress undertakes a debate on a resolution authorizing U.S. military action if necessary to enforce United Nations Security Council demands on Iraq. 

Bush said approval of the draft congressional resolution backed by the White House "does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. The resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something."

Bush said he hopes that enforcement of U.N. demands does not require military action, but he said it may, and he acknowledged that "military conflict could be difficult." But "there is no easy or risk-free course of action," he said.

"Some have argued we should wait — and that is an option," he said. "In my view, it is the riskiest of all options — because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become. We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I am convinced that is a hope against all evidence."

Saddam Hussein, Bush said, "must disarm himself — or, for the sake of peace, we will lead a coalition to disarm him."

White House photo by Eric Draper
Bush delivers his speech to the Cincinnati gathering.
 

The president said the lives of Iraqi citizens would "improve dramatically" if Saddam Hussein were removed from power, "just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban."

"America is a friend to the people of Iraq," he said. When the demands he has outlined are met, Bush said, "the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women, and children . . . Freed from the weight of oppression, Iraq's people will be able to share in the progress and prosperity of our time."

Bush delivered his speech before a group of civic leaders here. His speech coincided with the anniversary of the first U.S. air strikes against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Canadians stuff themselves with turkey early
By Keith Woolford
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Canadian Club will be gathering Oct. 13 to celebrate their annual Thanksgiving Day luncheon, complete with turkey and stuffing.

In Canada, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Unlike the American tradition of remembering Pilgrims and settling in the New World, Canadians give thanks for a successful harvest. The harvest season falls earlier in Canada compared to the United States due to the simple fact that Canada is further north.

Harvest celebrations have been around a long time. Ever since the very first harvest people have given thanks for a prosperous bounty. The first formal Canadian Thanksgiving was held just over 40 years prior to the pilgrims landing in Massachusetts.

An English explorer named Martin Frobisher was trying to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did not succeed but when he landed in Newfoundland he did establish a settlement in Northern America and he did celebrate a harvest feast. This is considered the first Canadian Thanksgiving.

In 1957, the Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October that Thanksgiving would be "a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed." 

During the American Revolution, Americans who remained loyal to England moved to Canada where they brought the customs and practices of the American Thanksgiving to Canada. There are many similarities between the two Thanksgivings such as the cornucopia and the pumpkin pie.

According to one Canadian resource the Canadian table usually features venison and waterfowl over turkey.

However, a professor from Durham College tells us that in Southern Ontario eating waterfowl or venison at Thanksgiving has never happened and that the turkey and/or ham is the featured food. Conversely, he adamantly states that when he was young "wild duck/goose was always served for Thanksgiving and, if they were fortunate venison as well! This was a common practice in that area at that time."

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Gran Hotel Costa Rica in downtown San José and is open to all Canadians and friends. There will be organized activities for children and a bar for big kids.

A harvest food drive will be held in conjunction with the event. Everyone attending is encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or an article of clothing.

A limited number of tickets are still available. Call Marc Morin at 228-5393 or e-mail: sumaro2@racsa.co.cr

Silva will seek out
his opposition's voters

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRASILIA, Brazil — Leftist presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he will reach out to Brazilians who voted for other opposition candidates in the first-round of voting Sunday, in order to have a definitive victory in the runoff election Oct. 27. 

On the day after he placed first in the first-round presidential election, the burly, bearded da Silva was all smiles. With almost all votes now counted, the candidate was far ahead of his closest rival, government-backed Jose Serra. Lula, who heads the Worker's Party, won a little more than 46 percent of the vote to Serra's showing of about 23 percent. 

Two other candidates, Anthony Garotinho of the Brazilian Socialist Party, and Ciro Gomes of the People's Socialist Party, were eliminated from the second round.

Lula said he has been in contact with officials from those two campaigns in hopes of gaining their support.

He said it is not enough to speak with the opposition candidates, but that he is also talking to officials from the two parties, in hopes of gaining their support. 

He said he also wants to have a discussion with people who voted for one of the other two opposition candidates in order to convince them to vote for him in the second round.

In response to questions about nervous reaction from financial markets to a possible Lula victory, the former labor leader said markets are always nervous. He noted that markets dipped when Tony Blair won his first election as prime minister in Great Britain. 

Asked about whom he may name to his economic team, the Workers' Party candidate said he would not announce any appointments until after the Oct. 27 election. He said he plans to spend the next 20 days seeking votes, not planning his government.

Although he won twice as many votes as Serra, da Silva is not taking a second-round victory for granted. Some analysts think Serra, an economist and former health minister who is favored by the business community, could make a strong comeback in the weeks ahead.
 

Second Chavez coup
uncovered, not thwarted

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACUS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez says his government has discovered plans for another military coup, six months after a failed attempt to topple him. 

Chavez told government supporters here Saturday that security officials have found evidence of a plot by military officials and some civilians that would have toppled his government within the next week. He provided no details of the alleged plot, but said he is sure a coup has been prevented. 

The president said intelligence agents have searched the home of Enrique Tejera Paris, former foreign minister, whom Chavez accused of leading the plot. The elderly Paris has not been detained but remains under investigation. 

This announcement comes as the Chavez government continues to investigate dozens of military officers and some civilians who allegedly played a role in the April 11 coup that briefly ousted him. 

That time the president was returned to power by loyal military officers, but the oil-rich country remains in political turmoil. Rumors of coup attempts here are common.
 

Peru happy with U.S.
economic support

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The government of Peru has praised the Bush Administration for fulfilling commitments to support economic development and helping small businesses in the Andean region.

Speaking Thursday at a trade conference in Lima sponsored by the U.S. government, Peru's President Alejandro Toledo congratulated President George Bush for "delivering results" for the countries of the Andes.

With Bush's visit to Peru in March, the U.S. president "sent an important signal to the democracies of Latin America, and as a result, commitments are being fulfilled by both the United States and the countries of the region," Toledo said.

Toledo's comments were released by the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which co-sponsored with other U.S. export and investment finance agencies the Oct. 3 through 4 Andean Regional Trade and Investment Conference in Lima. 

The Corporation said in a statement Monday that more than 200 companies from the United States, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru were represented at the conference.

The Corporation said it would provide a loan of up to $200 million for the construction of a new international airport in Quito, Ecuador. 

Other U.S. agencies involved in the Quito project are the Export-Import Bank and the Trade and Development Agency. These two agencies also served as co-sponsors of the Lima conference. The Quito project follows a June 2001 announcement that the Corporation would provide a $106 million loan to modernize Jorge Chavez Airport in Lima.

The corporation quoted Peru's Toledo as saying that "we need trade and investment to generate sustainable development," adding: "We can do this together — North American entrepreneurs and Andean entrepreneurs — and our commitment is to build a legal and judicial stability for that to happen. We have a great opportunity, let's take it."
 

Pacheco benefits
from timely birth

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco made a good impression on the Taiwanese when he arrived to visit President Chen Shui-bian in Taipei.

The Taiwanese president had just been informed that he had become a grandfather for the first time, and both presidents said they considered this auspicious.

“This child is a herald of times of more friendship between our people which we already have in common despite the distance,” Pacheco told Chen.
Chen later decorated Pacheco with the Order of Jade. Pacheco said that Taiwan has the right to participate in international organizations, a sticky point because most countries have cut relations with Taiwan in favor of the people’s Republic of China.

Costa Rica and Taiwan have 60 years of relations, and the Taiwanese are constructing the Puente Amistad over the Río Tempesque as a gift.
Pacheco said that the international community could not close its eyes to the accomplishments of the Taiwanese. He is there on a state visit to drum up additional trade and investment.
 

U.S. citizen shot

By the A..M. Costa Rica staff

A man identified as a U.S. citizen, Gary Stevens Neifari, 48, suffered a bullet wound to the neck Monday. He was found in an apartment in Sabana Sur about 9:30 a.m., according to investigators. They said they were working on the assumption that the wound was self-inflicted. The man was in critical condition in Hospital San Juan de Dios.
 

Journalist’s murder 
attack on ‘expression’

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A human rights official of the Organization of American States (OAS) has condemned the Sept. 30 murder of a Brazilian journalist, calling it the "most brutal means of restricting freedom of expression."

The journalist, Domingos Savio Brandao, was the owner of and a columnist for the daily newspaper Folha do Estado in the city of Cuiaba. The OAS said information it received indicated his murder was related to the newspaper's numerous investigations into the existence of gangs involved in undercover gambling and drug trafficking.

The OAS's Eduardo Bertoni said in a Wednesday statement that the murder or threats to social communicators "violate the fundamental rights of individuals." 

The American Convention of Human Rights, to which Brazil is a party, "establishes that states have the duty to prevent, investigate, and sanction any violation of the human rights recognized by the Convention," said Bertoni, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Bertoni said the failure to thoroughly investigate the murder of a journalist and to punish those who carried out or planned the crime is "especially serious because of its impact on society." 

When treated with impunity, he said, "these crimes intimidate not only other journalists but also citizens at large, since they make them fearful about reporting attacks, abuses, and other illicit acts."

According to the Miami-based Inter-American Press Association, which also condemned the murder, Brandao was killed by two men riding a motorcycle who shot at him a number of times as he was visiting the construction site of a new building for his newspaper, the second-largest in the city. 

Rafael Molina, chairman of the Association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said that "it is regrettable that in recent months Brazil has been in the international news yet again for the murder of a newspaperman," a reference to the violent death in June of Tim Lopes, a reporter for Brazil's TV Globo. 

Like the OAS, Molina urged Brazilian authorities "to make every effort to solve this latest crime, a consequence of unchecked violence and in many cases the desire of criminals to silence any opposition."

Also condemning Brandao's murder was the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which said it was "saddened by the death of our colleague." The Committee said 10 journalists have been killed in Brazil during the last 10 years. 

Meanwhile, the Committee released a Sept. 24 letter saying it was "deeply troubled" by the latest developments in the case of Haitian journalist Brignolle Lindor, who was murdered in December 2001, after inviting members of the 15-party Haitian opposition coalition, Democratic Convergence, to be interviewed on his station, Radio Echo 2000. Lindor was killed by a machete-wielding mob near the coastal town of Petit-Goave.

U.S. officials said in September 2001 that the United States supports a resolution passed by the OAS that reaffirmed the goals of the OAS Special Mission to Haiti, which was launched in April.

Foundation to visit
home of old folks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Angel of Love Foundation is marking its third anniversary at the Tom and Norman Home in Guápiles Oct. 20. The organization is arranging for a bus to take anniversary participants from San Jose to the home.

The Tom and Norman Home was originally in Heredia and cared for AIDS patients. Since Costa Rica began caring more for AIDS sufferers, the foundation decided to provide service for another needy sector of society, the impoverished elderly. The group opened a home in Guápiles in a converted stable. 

The bus is scheduled to leave San Jose’s Parque Central around 8 a.m. and return around 3 p.m. The organization has room for 60 supporters to join them. Anyone can sign-up if they call for information at 282-7794. The cost is 2,000 or about $5.50.

Harris nominated
to international board 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Bruce Harris, the executive director of Casa Alianza for Latin America, was recently elected to the ECPAT International board of directors. ECPAT International is a worldwide network of organizations and individuals that work together for the elimination of prostitution and child pornography and the traffic of children for sexual exploitation.

Harris has directed Casa Alianza for homeless children in México and Central America for the past 13 years and has an office in San José.
 
Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional 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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