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(506) 223-1327              Published Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 212                  E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
U.S. Embassy needs an independent investigation

By James J. Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The Chere Lyn Tomayko case is troubling because it appears that U.S. Embassy personnel obstructed justice and kept U.S. law enforcement officials from finding out where the fugitive was living in Costa Rica. For at least five years.

Wednesday we published parts of a letter from the consul general at the U.S. Embassy. He said that it was irresponsible and incorrect of us to suggest that racial prejudice might have been a factor in why the embassy hid the location of Ms. Tomayko.

Our question is how did the consul general,  David R. Dreher, know? There have been no signs of an investigation, and he was not around then. We think the diplomat is blowing smoke.

Ms. Tomayko was the woman who faces a federal indictment alleging child kidnapping because she took a daughter from Texas in 1997 to Costa Rica. She was a poster girl for the crime and ended up on the F.B.I. most wanted list because of the politics of the time.

Except at the U.S. Embassy.

We reported that A.M. Costa Rica, on behalf of readers, revealed the location of Ms. Tomayko to the embassy in 2002, and nothing happened.

We have no ill will toward Ms. Tomayko, and we think that the child involved, Alexandria, has grown into the kind of daughter that would make any parent proud. But we regret that the father in Fort Worth, Texas, has spent $40,000 and years of effort to know about his daughter.
At the very least, court decisions should be respected, and Ms. Tomayko has not done this. She fled and appears to have committed the crime of which she is accused.

We think that embassy personnel deliberately stonewalled the investigation until Miss Tomayko reached 18 so that she would not have to be returned to her father, who is black. She turned 18 in July and her mother was detained in September.

Mr.  Dreher said that race was not a factor. We could accept that if there were an investigation. Perhaps an investigation would reveal that embassy workers were not prejudice but totally

Or maybe an investigation would show that Ms. Tomayko got special treatment because she was a woman. U.S. men fleeing with minor children are picked up routinely.

Or maybe the reason was much worse.

Dreher needs to excuse himself from any further involvement in this, and Ambassador Mark Langdale, also from Texas, ought to demonstrate that the oath he took was something more than a way to make lots of business contacts overseas. He should order a rigorous, independent investigation.

One problem, of course, is that U.S. citizens involved in the case in 2002 have gone on to higher positions in the U.S. State Department. Does anyone have the guts to question them? Or maybe the fault lies in the Costa Rica support staff at the embassy. It is important to find out if disregard of U.S. law still is a problem.

This is a criminal matter.

What we said in 2003:

But consider the case of Chere Lyn Tomayko, the only parental kidnapping suspect on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most wanted list. She is known in the Heredia area, and had been living there under her own name. Her daughter is Alexandria Camille Cyprian, who was with her mother when she fled in May 1997.

When A.M. Costa Rica published her photo in May 2002, both the newspaper and a high official in the U.S. Embassy were informed of the situation. The woman still is on the F.B.I. list, and the embassy stonewalled the status by saying the case is an active investigation.
What Dreher said:

"As you know, the embassy was actively involved in looking for Alexandria in 2001, based on information you provided.  Unfortunately, the information did not result in the discovery and apprehension of the abducting parent Chere Tomayko.  In 2002, we received additional information alleging that Ms. Tomayko was in Costa Rica.  Once again, the information was investigated but did not lead to her location.  The case remained dormant, with no new leads until last year.

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Our readers' opinions
Lawyer says embassy lapses
are a criminal matter

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Lets see if I have this straight.

1. Texas father has a full legal custody order obtained after the mother and dad presented full evidence, including home studies and psychological reports to a court with full, proper jurisdiction over the case and persons.
2. Father gets a money judgment against the mom for attorney's fees and big money damages for destroying the relationship with the father and child in a long-going legal battle.
3.  The mom with at least more than one other child is not happy with how the case works out. So instead of appealing the case to the Texas Supreme Court, she flees the United States to Costa Rica.

4.  The mother, now a fugitive, is indicted by a federal grand jury of the CRIME of parental kidnapping. Oh but this gets better.  This mom is actually placed on the Top 10 most wanted list of all criminals the FBI is looking for in the world, including Osama Bin Laden.
5. Your paper runs stories and she is positively identified in country living and working, and some embassy person asks your paper not to run more about this sensitive case.
6.  If that last statement is true and correct, then I suggest the the U.S. attorney handling the kidnapping case needs to open an immediate investigation of former embassy workers for obstructing justice.  Did I read somewhere that an embassy spokesman said they had no duty to inform Costa Rican immigration that a known fugitive on the top 10 most wanted list was coming in and out of the country every 90 days or so, staying here illegally on a tourist visa and working?  What an amazing statement.
7.  There is a known underground network in the United States very well connected that has helped many moms fabricate false charges against dads and hide children.  The Dr. Elizabeth Morgan Case in Washington was one such well-publicized example.
8. As a lawyer practicing in this area of the law for over 25 years and being very involved in several such cases, I suggest that the dad needs to get the full attention of the Texas state judge, who I am sure would love to talk to the fugitive mom under oath, and with the proper federal judge.  If the father is persistent, I suspect some former embassy staff better get good lawyers.  This does not pass the smell test.  I suspect the current consul general may have a cold and can not smell the difference between chicken salad and chicken s.t.  We must, however, keep in mind that none of this happened on his watch.
 I was particularly impressed with his consoling words to the dad that since the Costa Rican courts might not honor the final order (which by the way is a violation of our treaty with them for equal access to the courts and respect of final judgments by each country), it really probably did not matter anyway that the mom was found so late.  What the heck, the Costa Rican courts would not have followed the law anyway. 

May I point out that the probability that a foreign court will not follow the law is no consolation to the dad or any excuse for gross incompetence at a minimum and possible criminal misconduct by government workers no matter how long ago.
Shame on somebody.  I hope the dad has the time money and persistence to see justice done even though it is late in coming.
Dan Wise
Time for Santa Cruz to take
action on Tamarindo problem

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Thank you for helping publicize the pollution problem in the Santa Cruz municipality (and Tamarindo).

Despite repeated efforts on the part of residents here, several big businesses continue to allow marginally treated (or untreated) waste water to flow onto the beach and into the water.

I was disappointed that one of the worst abusers of public health was omitted from your report on the 24th.  Other papers (such as La Nación) report that the Diria, a popular, expensive hotel on the beach, is dumping water with coliform counts of 240,000 per 100 milliliter.

I was also a little disappointed that the author mixed some of his data points and misquoted some numbers as well as failing to point out that most of the waters tested are street runoff, or drainage ditches from properties.  Someone unfamiliar with the report could be led to believe that the ocean water was actually showing counts as high as 79,000 when in fact the highest count in the water itself was around 4,500 (which is still quite unsafe).

As a resident of Tamarindo, I'm now looking to the Santa Cruz Municipality (not La Cruz, as per your article) to step up and accept some responsibility for the utter neglect it has shown for Tamarindo's infrastructure over the last decade.  This goose can't keep laying golden eggs if the muni continues to pocket the millions of colons of tax revenue instead of invest them.

If your online newspaper wants to show the true gravity of the situation here in Tamarindo, send a reporter and a photographer, talk to the Asociación Pro Mejoras and/or local business owners.  You'll see repeated, flagrant disregard on the part of a few gross polluters, and an obvious "look the other way" approach on the part of the Ministerio de Salud and the municipality.

Steve Broyles
Playa Tamarindo

Real cost of development

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

So now we begin to see the manifestation of the real costs of unchecked development when insufficient safeguards are in place for the infrastructure.  The Río Turrialba and now the coast of Tamarindo are seriously polluted because of the lack of strict sewage disposal requirements. 

It should be apparent now that there is a big difference between Costa Rica then and now.  No longer can untreated or lightly treated sewage be dumped into the waterways.  It must be understood the typical developer will do no more than is required by the jurisdiction he has to deal with, and it's way past time for intelligent and educated people to be consulted by the powers that be on methods and practices to put in place for controlling waterway pollution by sewage effluents.

In addition, requirements must be put into place which have teeth, both for the developers and for the local officials who don't see the light.

The government is in no position to finance the cost of the cleanup and modifications that will be necessary to correct the problems that we now face.  In my opinion, we are at a critical juncture where safeguards must be established to protect the waterways and the coasts.  Stringent sewage disposal requirements must be implemented immediately and existing violations must be corrected by the ones responsible. 

If this isn't done in an efficacious manner, Costa Rica will be buried in it's own waste sooner than later, and the developers will walk away with their money.  Then the words "Rich Coast" will take on a different meaning.
Ralph Antonelli
Platanillo, Pérez Zeledón
He wonders where data was

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your news story today concerning the AyA report on Tamarindo mentions several of the locations where tests showed dangerous levels of pollution. The test site that demonstrated the second largest level of pollution was not mentioned.

That site is directly in front of the Tamarindo Diria Hotel, which has become legendary among locals in Tamarindo (and even among us who live farther afield) because of its notorious running of the hotel's sewage directly across the beach and into the ocean. There isn't anyone who lives in Tamarindo who does not know this.

I don't understand why the Diria, the most notable polluter in the area, was left out of the story.

Rader Johnson

EDITOR'S NOTE: Our information from the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados lab was not complete.

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Proposed law would require treatment of Tamarindo sewage
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad de Santa Cruz will design a local law to require structures more than 300 meters square (about 3,229 square feet) to have their own sewage treatment plant.

The measure is directed at Tamarindo where studies in late August found the entire stretch of beach and the ocean nearby to be heavily polluted and dangerous for swimming.

The word of the proposed law came Wednesday from  Jorge Enrique Chavarría Carrillo, the municipal mayor.

The mayor said that these individual treatment plants would be required of new and existing structures. Some of the beachside hotels and businesses contribute to the pollution by allowing sewage to run into the sea, he said. The news of the pollution probably will have a devastating effect on tourism and real estate marketing there. There was no timetable for the new law to be enacted.

The  Laboratorio Nacional de Aguas of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados revealed that tests of sea water and runoffs in August showed pollution levels from 3.3 to to 329 times the permitted quantity for swimming. Coliform bacteria, which are found in the intestines of warmed-blooded animals, are used as an indicator of fecal pollution.
The laboratory aides did 11 tests and found that in only one location was fecal pollution less than the permitted maximum.

Municipal officials have known about the problem for at least a month but until Wednesday they had declined to comment publicly.

Even now, Mayor Chavarría said that there were no signs posted at the beach to warn tourists that the ocean nearby is heavily contaminated.

Mauricio Céspedes, executive director of the Cámera de Turismo Guanacaste, said that the priority now is to solve the problem as quickly as possible.

He noted that many hotels that have complied with health regulations are being damaged by the reports of pollution.

The main problem, he noted, is that infrastructure improvements have not kept up with the rapid development in the area.

Because Tamarindo faces the Pacific Ocean at the northern coast of Guanacaste, the major pollution would appear to come from the community.

Laboratory aides were expected to conduct more tests on the water this week.

China will provide $20 million in emergency housing aid
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

President Óscar Arias Sánchez obtained $20 million in direct aid from the People's Republic of China to provide housing for those who were flooded out along the Pacific coast here during the last three weeks, said Casa Presidencial.  The money will be turned over to the national emergency commission.

In addition, Arias has obtained agreement for some $27 million in economic and technical cooperation, said Casa Presidencial.

Arias met with Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, during his third day of his Chinese trip.

Arias also reported that both countries will accelerate the study toward a possible free trade treaty between both countries and also that Chinese petroleum experts will study the feasibility of constructing a refinery here for Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo.

Arias Wednesday said that as a Costa Rican, he is honored to represent the first Central American country to establish a formal relationship with China. In all, the two leaders signed 11 agreements related to trade, banking, technology and culture.

In June, Costa Rica cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of Beijing, a move that China hopes other Latin American countries will follow.

Some 60 Costa Rican businessmen have concluded some $140 million in contracts with Chinese distributers during a trade fair in Canton, officials announced. The products involve tilapia, shrimp, coffee and bananas, they said. 
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Óscar Arias confers with Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, via a translator.

One agreement negotiated with Chinese officials outlines the health requirements that must be met to export food products to China.

Only 24 countries recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state. Taipei and Beijing have been trying to spread their wealth among those nations in an effort to earn or maintain their allegiance. China and Taiwan split in 1949 following a civil war.

China insists the self-governing island is part of its territory and tries to diplomatically isolate Taiwan.

Glencairn reports slide at its Miramar gold mining operation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Glencairn Gold Corp., the operator of the troubled Bellavista mine in western Costa Rica, said Wednesday that a landslide there had caused considerable damage to the structure of its gold recovery plant.  But it said that all contaminants, including cyanide, had been removed from the site earlier.

However, one group quickly called the situation an environmental catastrophe and said that heavy metals would pour into a nearby river and then into the Gulf of Nicoya.

Glencairn said it stopped mining and leaching activities at the open pit site in July when ground movement was detected beneath the pad on which gold ore was treated with cyanide.  The company attributed the landslide as a
continuation of the ground movements encouraged by the heavy rains.

The Canadian company told investors that most of the damaged equipment can be salvaged and that the impact to the company balance sheet would continue to be in the $40 to $50 million range already estimated.

It was the group Preserve Planet that issued a pessimistic news release in San José about the mine located in Miramar, Montes de Oro, Puntarenas. The group said that some 100 tons of material fell at two points at the mine and that the membrane that keeps chemicals from leaching into the soil had ripped.

It said the nearby Río Ciruelas, which flows into the gulf was at risk. The group has fought the project since its start.

Avid U.S. fisherman dies when boat takes on water during Caribbean expedition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 67-year-old U.S. tourist died Wednesday when his fishing boat sank in the Caribbean, and he and shipmates tried to swim to shore.

The dead man is Delroy Johnson Ferguson, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. He died off the coast of Cahuita where he and two companions departed for an early morning fishing expedition. His body was recovered around noon, agents said.
The man was described as a tourist here but with family in the area. He was an avid fisherman, agents said they learned.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that someone forgot to seal a drain outlet in the boat and that it began to take on water once it had stopped. The motor could not be started, and the men jumped into the sea, agents said.

The victim was not able to keep up with the two other men, and they lost sight of him when he sank.

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Bush, in major policy address, seeks freedom fund for Cuba
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President George Bush said Wednesday that Cuba's leaders are more concerned with keeping power than with improving the lives of their people. Bush said he wants the international community to raise funds to help rebuild Cuba once the island's Communist government is gone.

In a speech at the U.S. State Department, Bush made clear he is talking about a democratically elected government in Havana, not Fidel Castro passing authority to brother Raúl.

"Life will not improve for Cubans under their current system of government," he said. "It will not improve by exchanging one dictator for another. It will not improve, if we seek accommodation with a new tyranny in the interest of stability."

The president says the operative word in America's future dealing with Cuba is not stability. It is freedom. He says America will not support the old way with new faces, or the old system held together with new chains.

"The socialist paradise is a tropical gulag," the president said. "The quest for justice that once inspired the Cuban people has now become a grab for power."
The president says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez will enlist foreign governments to contribute to what he hopes will be a multi-billion-dollar 'freedom fund' for Cuba.

Once the government in Havana shows that it respects fundamental freedoms of speech, association, press, and the right to change government through multi-party elections, Bush said, the money raised will be released to Cuban entrepreneurs to help rebuild their country.

It was the president's first major address on Cuba in four years, and the first since Defense Minister Raúl Castro took charge of a provisional government in July 2006, when his older brother Fidel had emergency intestinal surgery.

While Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since, he has kept writing. In a Tuesday essay entitled "Bush, Hunger and Death," Fidel Castro writes that President Bush is threatening the world with famine by encouraging the use of corn and other food crops to produce alternative fuels such as ethanol.

Fidel Castro said President Bush is adopting new measures to accelerate political change on the island, equating that to a new conquest of Cuba by force.

Speech finds mixed reaction among Cuban group in Miami
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuban exiles in the United States have welcomed President George Bush's speech about Cuba in which he voiced support for pro-democracy efforts. But some exiles in Miami said the president's latest initiatives do not go far enough to encourage change.

The Cuban population of south Florida was listening closely to the president's speech for signs of possible change in U.S. policy toward the Communist regime of Fidel Castro.

Orlando Gutiérrez, secretary of the pro-democracy Cuban Democratic Directorate, said he welcomed Bush's promise to continue pressing Cuba's government for democratic reforms.

He says as a representative of the Cuban people who are fighting for change, he thinks Bush showed that he supports the resistance efforts in Cuba.

Gutiérrez said he expects many Cubans on the island will listen to international broadcasts of the speech, in which Bush appealed directly to the Cuban people. The president said the Cubans have the power to shape their own destiny, and he told Cuba's military that there is a place for them in a free Cuba.

Gutiérrez says the direct messages are important to help Cubans understand what is happening off the island.
He said many Cubans want to hear what President Bush said because there are winds of change in Cuba and the people want to know what Washington thinks about the developments.

Bush unveiled in his speech new initiatives for Cuba, such as granting licenses for non-governmental groups to take Internet-enabled computers to Cuba and creating new scholarships to bring Cuban students to the United States.

Uva de Aragon, associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, was not impressed with the package because, she says, Cuban officials are unlikely to allow its implementation.

She says Washington should instead focus on areas where it can have a real impact, such as ending restrictions that bar scholars and Cuban exiles in the United States from traveling to the island.

"We should do more for having students go there [to Cuba] and having professors go there and having family go there because they also take information," said Ms. de Aragon.

Ms. de Aragon said that loosening the decades-old embargo may help encourage democratic and free-market reforms in Cuba, and weaken the government's hold on power.

But she said the embargo remains a controversial topic in the Cuban exile community and will likely remain a part of U.S. policy as long as the Castro regime remains in power.

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