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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2004, Vol. 4, No. 219
Jo Stuart
About us
For Costa Rica, more of the same with vigor
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The re-election victory by U.S. President George Bush means more of the same for Costa Rica:

• More disputes over the proposed free trade pact,

• More emphasis on arresting drug traffickers and smugglers,

• and more quiet support for Plan Colombia and the increase in U.S. military in that country.

Bush aids are considering the voting Tuesday to represent a mandate for the president. They not only look at the record vote for the president and his total that is a majority of votes cast. They also look at the gains in Republican politicians in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

An analysis of the news 

Some Costa Rican politicians hoped for a victory by John Kerry, the Democratic opponent. Kerry promised to renegotiate the Central American free trade pact. Instead, in Costa Rica and other Central American nations, the agreement will go to the legislatures. In Costa Rica that means months of discussion and probably street protests.

In Latin America U.S. policy revolves around Colombia where rebels are continuing a four-decade war. After Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration branded three of the rebel groups in Colombia as terrorists.

Last month the U.S. Congress voted to increase the U.S. military presence in Colombia from 400 to 800. Those numbers do not count the secret forces and the contractors who are waging the war from Peru, Ecuador and Brazil.

The United States has backed Colombian president Lever Uribe, who seems to have made some gains against the rebels.

The effect of the prolonged Colombia war can be seen in Costa Rica with the flow of Colombian immigrants and the increase in presumed drug-related violence and murder among new arrivals. Costa Rica has tightened up Colombian immigration, but the flow still is significant.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública has been aggressive in fighting trafficking. More than 30 drug mules have been grabbed at Juan Santamaría Airport already this year. The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas have participated in high profile drug interdiction efforts on the high seas and in territorial waters.

A new inspection facility, paid for by the U.S. government, is helping police catch truckers 

Will U.S. refugees
come to Costa Rica?

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some U.S. Democrats promised before the presidential election to leave the United States in the event George Bush was re-elected.

Columnist Jo Stuart reported that a friend based in the United States was starting to compile a list of countries that might be more friendly to disaffected Democrats than the United States.

Coast Rica was mentioned. Some readers said Wednesday that they would welcome such political refugees although they were not sure how many actually would follow through on their tough pre-election talk.

smuggling drugs at the nation’s northern border.

The U.S. rationale is to stop the drugs before they even get near American soil. The police actions have created a surplus of cocaine and heroin in Costa Rica. Much is being converted to crack rocks to feed a quiet epidemic of drug use here among the working class.

Some Latins have complained that Bush and his administration generally ignored the lands south of México. Now their concern is that with a presumed mandate, he will address Latin America issues far bolder in his second term.

Viewed as unfinished business is the Hugo Chavez government in Venezuela. A U.S.-backed coup attempt only dislodged Chavez for two days. But his populist, leftist style is a thorn to the Bush administration.

Along with Chavez are the growing number of leftist governments in Latin America; Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Chile. The United States has maintained good terms and frequently has praised Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The former U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, John Danilovich, is now the U.S. envoy to Brazil.

The question is will this era of good feeling last.

One bit of unfinished business in Costa Rica is the appointment of a new U.S. ambassador to fill the job help by Danilovich. The White House declined to address this issue because of the approaching presidential election. Now that Bush has won, the Costa Rican ambassadorship looms as a tempting bit of patronage for a politically connected Republican.

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Rodríguez on offense
and deplores ‘circus’

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Miguel Ángel Rodríguez went on the offense Wednesday and said he had been involved in a circus since he returned to Costa Rica and the circus is set up to feed him to the lions.

Rodríguez, the former president, is in preventative detention in La Reforma in Alajuela, but he released a statement in which he criticized prosecutors and certain elements of the press for conducting a lynching.

Rodríguez said he returned voluntarily to Costa Rica Oct. 15, giving up his position as secretary general of the Organization of American States. Nevertheless, the president of the republic, certain members of the Asamblea Nacional and a good part of the media have declared him guilty without a trial, he said.

He said prosecutors and police violated the basic rules of security in order to let the news media take his photograph when he arrived at Juan Santamaría Airport.

Rodríguez also questioned why he was sent to prison when he did not represent a flight risk. He said all involved in his security had been told that he would be returned to house arrest Friday. Instead, he went to prison. Now he wonders who pulled the strings to accomplish that.

Rodríguez words were seen as support for his efforts to present a habeas corpus motion to an appeals court in order to revert to house arrest status. He said he had confidence in the justice system and those branches of the media that are objective and respect the traditional values of justice.

Rodríguez, who served as chief executive from 1998 to 2002 has been linked to payoffs by the French telecommunications firm Alcatel and also to gifts of cash from the government of Taiwan.

Biological controls
target coffee borer

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. and Mexican scientists are finding new ways to combat the coffee berry borer, an insect that threatens the quality of coffee beans and causes about $500 million in damage annually to the crop worldwide.

The tiny (1.5-millimeter) borer spends its larval life inside the coffee berry, which encases the seed, commonly known as the coffee bean, according to a press release Tuesday from the Agricultural Research Service, the main scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Males mate with females inside the berry but never leave it. Mated females emerge to fly to a new berry and bore into it, lay eggs and start the cycle again. Adult female borers are vulnerable to pest management methods only while outside the berry.

A potential pest management method is to apply Beauveria bassiana, a fungus that is pathogenic to insects. Efforts are being made to raise this fungus within the tissue of the coffee plant. Entomologists also worked with colleagues at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Mexico to investigate microscopic worms that might help control the borer.

Appointments set up
for residency seekers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería is setting up a system of appointments to eliminate the traditional long lines for persons seeking to obtain or renew visas.

Those who wish to visit the Departamento de Residencia first have to obtain in person an appointment time. These appointments are handed out Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Puerta #3 of the department, immigration said in a release.

Appointments will be made for times between 8 a.m. and noon, immigration said.

The appointments are for renewal of residencies, applications for residency and other paperwork processing.

The new system does not cover pensionados and rentistas. These residencies are handled by the Departamento de Pensionado, which has a more liberal appointment schedule.

Gunmen kill pedestrian

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Gunmen in a car shot down a young man as he walked a street in Alajuelita Wednesday night. Police said the victim died.

Fujimori still has wide suport

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Peru — Fugitive former Peruvian leader Alberto Fujimori has topped a presidential preference poll taken here, the Peruvian capital. The Center for Public Opinion and Democracy survey of 500 adult Lima residents found that Fujimori — currently in exile in Japan — comes in first, with 20 percent support, among potential candidates for the 2006 presidential election. 

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Europeans hope Bush makes gesture to improve ties
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

European analysts and governments are reacting to President George Bush's victory in Tuesday's U.S. presidential election. And many are expressing the hope that he will make gestures to improve trans-Atlantic relations, which were damaged by Bush's decision to invade Iraq in spite of widespread opposition in Europe. 

It was an election that riveted Europe. Public opinion surveys showed that three out of four Europeans were against Bush and wanted to see him go down to defeat. Many Europeans stayed up all night to follow live election coverage on television. Patrice de Beer, the editor of the French newspaper Le Monde, says interest was high because most Europeans feel the outcome of the contest will affect their lives over the next four years. 

"The way the war on terrorism or the war in Iraq is conducted will affect us," she said. "The way the American administration sees the rest of the world, the way they engage with the rest of the world, whether they are interested in having a dialogue or whether they want to pursue their unilateralist policy is fundamentally important for us. And the problem is that we have the feeling that we have no say in an election which is, in a way, also our election." 

Frederick Kempe, the American editor of the Wall Street Journal European edition, says he has never seen Europeans pay so much attention to a U.S. election. 

"Part of the reason for that is that this is probably the first election in 30 years in the United States that's been decided in foreign policy terms, and, secondarily, we're moving into a new era beyond the Cold War, and Europeans have once again discovered that American leadership makes a difference," said Kempe. 

The one major European country where polls showed that a popular majority favored Bush's re-election is Poland. The country's president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, hailed Bush as a decisive leader and said he looks forward to continuing cooperation with the U.S. president on such issues as the fight against terrorism.

In countries that opposed the Iraq war, like France and Germany, Democratic candidate John Kerry was much more popular than Bush because he promised to re-build ties across the Atlantic that Europeans believe have been damaged. But before the final results were known, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Paris would work with Bush if he won another term. Christine Ockrent, one of France's leading television commentators, says many officials in Paris have been worried that Kerry would ask France to support the peace-building effort in Iraq, something it is reluctant to do.

"I personally believe that there is a sigh of relief at the Elysee [Presidential Palace] and in the higher ranks of the French government because it would have been much more embarrassing for the French to turn down a very nice, pleasant, warm John 

Kerry and, in a way, having George W. Bush again, you know, it's business as usual," said Ms. Ockrent. 

In Germany, Interior Minister Otto Schilly said that, despite past differences with Washington, it is in the interests of both countries that the situation in Iraq be stabilized. And Berlin's top official for relations with Washington, Karsten Voigt, says he hopes a second Bush administration will reach out to the Europeans. Other leaders, like Sweden's Prime Minister Goran Persson, say they don't expect anything to change. He says trans-Atlantic political sniping will continue. Barry Buzan, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, agrees with Persson.

"There's a real possibility that things won't change, and, if the same old faces and the same old rhetoric turn up, then it's going to be a very hard four years," said Buzan.  But Wall Street Journal editor Kempe says he believes that a second Bush administration will make conciliatory gestures toward the Europeans. 

"You'll see much more reaching out to allies, and you'll see much more desire to be multilateral, not because one believes in the United Nations or in the European Union for that matter but really because America has come face-to-face with its own limitations," he said. "The question is will there be a Europe to reach out to since the anti-Bush feeling is so strong in Europe and leaders like [French President Jacques] Chirac and [German Chancellor Gerhard] Schroeder have made their point of view over time relatively well-known." 

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been President Bush's staunchest ally in the war on terrorism and in Iraq. His former press secretary, Alistair Campbell, says Blair is now in a position to ask Bush to tackle what Blair sees as one of the main causes of terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. 

"I feel that it's perfectly possible that George Bush, emboldened if you like, strengthened by the fact that he doesn't have to worry about his personal re-election in four years' time, might actually begin to look a bit further afield, start to heal a bit at home, start to look further abroad," said Alistair Campbell, adding:

"And Tony is in a very, very strong position now, I think, to go and say 'look, George, you know I've given you some pretty strong support in Iraq and the war on terrorism and the rest of it, but I have been banging on for some time about the Middle East peace process and its absolute centrality to these arguments, and now that you've got your fresh mandate, we've got to go and do something." 

Still, many experts predict that the trans-Atlantic divide will remain, no matter who is in the White House. One reason, writes Eberhard Sandschneider of Germany's Council on Foreign Relations, is that both sides are adjusting to a post-Cold War world in which there is less of a mutual security imperative to stick together at all costs. While trade disputes and other differences have always existed, he adds, there are fewer constraints today to prevent them from dominating trans-Atlantic relations. 

Noriega defends use of U.S. troops in Colombia
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A senior U.S. State Department official says an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contained a number of misstatements about the reasons for U.S. support for Colombia and its president.

In his letter Wednesday to the Pennsylvania newspaper, Roger Noriega, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, took issue with the editorial's assertion that the United States is seeking to make Colombia safe for exploration by U.S. oil companies.

Noriega said that most of the cocaine and a significant amount of heroin that lands on U.S. streets originates in Colombia, and to confront this threat, the United States is training Colombia's armed forces to support Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's war against narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

Noriega said that "thanks to the Uribe administration, Colombia's government now has retaken significant portions of its national territory that criminal groups had once controlled and used to cultivate and transport illegal narcotics."

The Post-Gazette's Oct. 28 editorial, entitled "Blood for Oil/U.S. Troops Should Not Guard These Oil Operations," asserted that the purpose of the vote by the U.S. Congress earlier that month to double the number of U.S. forces in Colombia was, "unfortunately," to make more areas of the country "safe for exploration by American oil companies."

The Post-Gazette said the mission of the U.S. military in Colombia was expanded in 2002 to include training, supporting, and equipping the Colombian troops who are protecting a 500-mile pipeline operated by Occidental Petroleum, based in Los Angeles, Calif.

"Now, under pressure from American oil companies wishing to expand their production, U.S. forces [in Colombia] will double from 400 to 800 and support Colombian forces that protect the activities of U.S. companies," said the editorial.

The Post-Gazette said that "if one of the 800 U.S. soldiers in Colombia were to be killed, just to increase the access of American companies to Colombian oil, it would be impossible to justify the loss. The soldier's loved ones would not be likely to buy the idea that the need for cheaper gas and profit for U.S. oil companies is worth the life of an American soldier. They would be entirely right."

In his rebuttal, Noriega said that "if oil fields and the pipelines [in Colombia] are more secure, that helps Colombia's economy to provide more opportunities for its citizens and resources" to help fight the illicit narcotics trade. "That is good for Colombia, for the Colombian people, and for the United States," Noriega said.

The assistant secretary said that "while more work needs to be done" in Colombia, President Uribe has made "great progress" in reforming his country's military and political institutions, as well as improving the security situation for Colombian citizens, "while creating the conditions that have spurred economic growth."

As the Colombian government's presence expands and security is restored, said Noriega, "legitimate economic activity can resume and expand -- the whole range of economic activity from farming to industry and commerce."

He added that expanding the Colombian government's presence throughout the Andean nation, "nurturing the economy, preventing the production of and trafficking in cocaine and heroin, and making life better for all Colombians -- these are our reasons for helping Colombia."

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Graph gives breakdown of cigarette use by those with nicotine dependency and at least one other psychiatric disorder (34.2 percent).

Smokers only with a psychiatric disorder represent 12.1 percent.

Nicotine dependency alone represents 23.3 percent of cigarettes smoked.

Those with neither a psyciatric disorder nor nicotine dependency represent 30.4 percent of the cigarettes consumed.

National Institutes of Health graphic
Study links cigarettes and psychiatric disorders
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Adults with nicotine dependence and/or psychiatric disorders consume 70 percent of all cigarettes smoked in the United States, according to results of a National Institutes of Health study.

The study was reported in the November issue of the "Archives of General Psychiatry." 

Based on the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, the article provides the first national estimates among U.S. adults of the prevalence and co-occurrence of nicotine dependence and a broad array of other psychiatric disorders including alcohol and drug abuse and dependence, mood and anxiety disorders, and personality disorders.

Nicotine dependence is most prevalent among persons with current drug and alcohol use disorders (52.4 percent and 34.5 percent, respectively) and somewhat lower among persons with any mood or anxiety disorder (29.2 percent and 25.3 percent, respectively) and personality disorders (27.3 percent). 

Persons with a current psychiatric disorder — whether or not they are nicotine dependent — make up 30.3 percent of the population and consume 46.3 percent of all cigarettes smoked. Nicotine dependent persons with co-existing psychiatric disorders comprise only about 7 percent of the adult population but smoke about 34 percent of all cigarettes. 

"Until now, surprisingly little has been known about the comorbidity of nicotine dependence and other 

psychiatric disorders and its role in the national burden of smoking on health," said Ting-Kai Li, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health.

"This report fills that gap and points to a need to focus smoking cessation efforts on persons with nicotine dependence, especially those with co-occurring alcohol and drug use disorders or other comorbid psychiatric conditions," he said.

The survey is a representative survey of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population aged 18 years and older. With more than 43,000 adult Americans participating, the survey is the largest study ever conducted of the co-occurrence of psychiatric disorders among U.S. adults. Earlier reports estimate the prevalence of alcohol and drug use disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and alcohol use disorders with other psychiatric diagnoses. 

"Whereas previous studies have found elevated smoking rates among persons with psychiatric disorders, ours is the first nationally representative study to address nicotine dependence — a disorder in which repeated consumption results in compulsive use that is often chronic and continues despite serious consequences," says lead author Bridget Grant, Ph.D., chief, Laboratory of Biometry and Epidemiology, Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

"The results clearly indicate that smoking prevention and treatment efforts should be developed to target vulnerable subgroups at both the population and the individual levels." 

Jo Stuart
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