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These stories were published Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 227
Jo Stuart
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This time the problem is a North American weather system
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

You can’t blame a cold front for the chilly climate this week.

The real culprit is a weather system over North America that is channeling cold air into Central America, according to the local weather experts.

Mix that air with the humidity over the Caribbean and the result will be clouds over nearly all the country today. Light rains are predicted in most places, but the northern zone and the Caribbean slope should have heavier downpours, according to the forecast by the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

Winds in Guanacaste will drive away the rain, as the Costa Rican summer tip toes in there.  Despite the break in the rain over the 

weekend, the dry season has not yet arrived in most of the country. But the winds coming from the north are giving a preview of what will happen in early December.

Meanwhile, Costa Ricans are not sure they are living in the tropics. In Liberia a daytime temperature of 32 Celsius (89.6 F.) gives way to an evening 18 (64.4 F.) with winds driving the chill factor lower.

San José faced an overnight low of 16.6 Celsius (61.88) with a daytime high of just 22.3 (72.14 F.) Less than a half millimeter of rain fell but winds peaked at 27 kph (17 mph), enough to get the attention of scantily clad Costa Ricans.

The chilly nights last week were the result of a cold front, which has moved on. Still, residents have faced 10 days of chilly nights.

Summit this weekend to draw 17 heads of state
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Friday and Saturday will see the heads of state of 17 countries, including Spain and Portugal visiting San José for the XIV Cumbre or summit of the Iberoamerican nations.

People watchers may get a glimpse of the King and Queen of Spain, but Fidel Castro won’t make the session. Instead, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque plans to come. Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva of Brazil will not be here either.

However, Hugo Chávez Frías, the controversial 

A.M. Costa Rica/Joe Medici
It's not Christmas. This sign near the Teatro Nacional welcomes visitors to the summit. Normally, the space would be used for a holiday greeting
Venezuelan leader, is among those listed as attending.

Costa Rica is investing $1.7 million in setup costs and security to host the summit. Officials hope that in exchange the country will win the permanent location of the Secretaría General Iberoamericana, a coordinating body for the 21 nations.

For those not in the inner circle of diplomacy, the main effect of the meetings will be road blockades Friday in Avenida 2 and Paso Colón. The opening ceremony will be that night at the Teatro Nacional. In addition, traffic will be controlled near the Hotel Herradura west of San José where many of the chiefs of state will be holding meetings.

Some visitors, like Colombia’s president, Alvaro Uribe, live their lives under extreme security. That will be continued here, and more than  1,000 policemen and security agents will be on duty.

Comisario Walter Navarro, director of the Fuerza Pública said that the eyes of the world are on Costa Rica and his officers are ready to pick up the challenge.

Also involved in security are the Policía del Tránsito and the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional.

The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto estimated that some 3,000 persons will be here as part of national delegations. About 1,000 newspeople will attend, too.

The theme of the meeting is "Educate to Progress."

In justifying the expense of security and related costs, officials have said that Costa Rica will get back at least double in money paid by the visitors, not counting the favorable international publicity.

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Come home right now,
committee tells Figueres

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative committee said that José María Figueres Olsen, the ex-president, better show up this week to answer questions or it will ask the government to issue what amounts to a bench warrant.

Figueres sent a letter to the Comisión de Control del Ingreso y el Gasto Público of the Asamblea Nacional. He promised to testify but did not say when. 

Luis Gerardo Villanueva, president of the committee, said that Figueres claimed he could not appear in November due to international obligations. Villanueva set a deadline of Thursday for the former president to show up. Otherwise he promised to have an order issued.

Thursday is the same day that members of the committee would like to question Karen Olsen, the mother of the former president. They are seeking information on credit provided by Spanish sources for the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Mrs. Olsen served as a special ambassador during the period in question, September 1995.

Mrs. Olsen is believed to have just returned from a trip abroad.

Her son has been living in Switzerland, but his name has come up in the series of scandals that have jailed two other former presidents.

Thanksgiving celebration
Sunday at Guachipelin 

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The International Baptist Church is planning a "Celebration of Thanks" luncheon to be held in the church Fellowship Hall on Sunday. 

This traditional U.S. Thanksgiving holiday meal "to celebrate God’s goodness" will be at noon, after the regular morning worship service, which begins at 10 a.m., a church spokespersons said.

The covered dish luncheon features turkey provided by the church, with side dishes, salads and/or desserts brought by the congregation.

Pastor Paul Dreessen says that no ticket is required and there is no need to sign up for this event. If someone would like to be a part of this Thanksgiving celebration with the church, he or she just needs to come Sunday and join those giving God thanks for His many blessings, he said. 

The International Baptist Church has a long tradition of serving the English-speaking community in Costa Rica.  The church is located in Guachipelin de Escazú, west of Multiplaza, on the north side of the Santa Ana highway. 

For more information or details about where the church is located, please call the church (215-2117) or Pastor Dreesen’s cell phone (821-3594) or send an e-mail to:

Trade union chief
seeks big change

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The public employees union is calling for a massive political change like the one that took place as a result of the presidential elections in Uruguay.

There Tabaré Vázquez headed a coalition to defeat the entrenched Blanco and Colorado parties.

Albino Vargas Barrantes is secretary general of the union, the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados. Vargas denies he has any political aspirations, but said in a news release that he wanted to add his grain of sand to the resistance against "neoliberalism del PLUSC."

He used the combined acronyms of Partido Liberación Nacional and Partido Unidad Social Cristiana. The country needs is a great change, he said.

Vargas praised Vásquez for forming trade alliances with Southern Cone countries to defeat the totalitarianism of neoliberal globalization.

Vargas and his union opposes breaking up or providing competition for the government monopolies, the proposed free trade treaty with the United States and declines in social rights for citizens. He periodically sends out news releases with his political views.

Vargas and his union made up part of the front that closed down the country’s roads in late August as a protest against vehicle inspections and other issues.

Soccer precautions set

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wednesday is a big soccer game between the Costa Rican national team and one from Honduras. So police officers will be out in force to protect fans after the game and to prevent fan riots.

Officials said they would pay particular attention to San Pedro and the Fuente de Hispanidad where crowds always gather, the center of San José and Avenida Central.

Riteve gets certification

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The company that does the vehicle inspections, Riteve S y C, says it has been awarded international certification of its system of management of quality.

The company said that this award signifies that each one of its 16 stations can guarantee the integrity, impartiality, independence, and efficiency of the firm’s service.

The company said in a release and without further explanation that the award stands in contrast to those people of bad faith who have blamed the company for lack of technical and professional standards.

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Missing children can be complex cases, expert says
By Clair-Marie Robertson 
of the A.M. Costa Rica Staff

Cases of vanishing youngsters can be more complex than expected and many really do not want to be found, according to those involved is such cases. Other children return home quickly on their own initiative, statistics show.

Nevertheless, Costa Rica has joined with an international organization to support a Web site that has been launched to help locate missing children in Costa Rica and Latin America.

According to statistics provided by the Judicial Investigating Organization, youngsters who have been reported missing have usually run away from home. The most common reasons being family disputes and teenage rebellion. 

The majority of these cases are resolved within the first few weeks with children usually returning home of their own accord.  The more sinister cases relating to child abduction and pedophilia are less common but tend to make the larger headlines, investigators say. 

Victor Hugo Mejillas Arguedas is in charge of juvenile delinquency cases at the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Further investigations need to be carried out to establish why children run away from home, he said Monday.  He said he believes that if more research were done he and his colleagues would not have so many cases.

So far this year the investigative agency has 450 cases of missing youngsters in Costa Rica. Approximately 200 of these cases have been resolved according to Mejillas. 150 more were resolved in the same week that a missing persons report was filed. Mejillas said that 92 percent of these cases were children running away from home.  Mejillas provided statistics that showed 31 percent run away because of family problems, 20 percent do so because of child rebellion, 14 percent because of parental abuse and 12 percent run away with a loved one.  Other reasons included drug addiction and psychiatric problems, but these are uncommon, he said. 

The statistics are different than those issued Sept. 29 by Casa Presidencial. A release cited what it said were Judicial Investigating Organization statistics. These statistics said that from January to July of this year, 197 minors were reported missing and all eventually returned to their homes or to whomever was in charge of them.

One example of a missing youngster is María José Cambronero Miranda, 13. She disappeared Oct. 14. Her father José Luis Cambronero Aguilar did not want to give away too many details about the disappearance of his daughter when he spoke to a reporter Monday. He said that he was told by the Judicial Investigating Organization agents that in such cases publicity can make finding people difficult. 

However, Cambronero took the initiative last week and said he wanted to have his daughter’s photograph distributed by the Judicial Investigating Organization to 

the press.  "I can say that our daughter has contacted us, and we have several clues as to her whereabouts,"  said Cambronero Monday.  He said that he believed his daughter may be with a man in his 30s.

Mejillas said that he believes cases of missing children are increasing every year. Mejillas has also been responsible for carrying out several studies into juvenile delinquency. "I am sure that there is a connection between youngsters going on to be criminals in later lives and how they lived, and who, if anyone, raised them," said Mejillas. 

"I had a happy childhood with a good upbringing. Many of the people that were close to me were not so lucky and that affected them. I can't just convict a youngster of a crime. I need to know why they did it," Mejillas said. 

Mejillas also spoke about the problems he has encountered in prosecuting those involved in child exploitation and abuse, " Other countries such as Nicaragua have different priorities and don't always place child disappearances at the top of their list," he said. 

Mejillas also cited lack of financing and support from those with whom he works. "The people that work in the other departments don't think the same way as I do. They can't see that children who run away may be those who they have to deal with later on." 

He also said that he works for an institution that does not seek to establish what has motivated people to commit crimes, but just punishes them for the crimes they have committed. 

Mejillas said that he was very aware that there were many cases where children ran away and had no other option but to turn to a life of crime and drugs on the streets.  He said that these are when children are at their most vulnerable and are exploited. 

The Web site that has been set up to help Costa Rica resolve missing person cases was not functioning well Monday, the day it was launched.

The site has been created to reduce the amount of missing person cases by speeding up the identification process and surpassing borders to help children that may be in dangerous situations, said officials.

Participating here is the Judicial Investigating Organization and Save the Children Sweden.  Mejillas said that he has seen a lot of cases in his 25 years. "..Some have had happy endings. Eight years ago we found a 3-year-old boy who had been abducted when he was months old." 

Mejillas said that he thinks that the Web site will serve a great purpose in Costa Rica. ". . . but I don't think that all missing children cases will be solved," he said. 

In addition to the Judicial Investigating Organization and Save the Children, the Web site is sponsored by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, the Patronato Nacional de la Infancía and the 911 Servicio de Emergencia. The Costa Rican portion is a small part of a site that seeks to cover missing children in all Latin countries.

That Irish stout has an extra kick in cans here
By Joe Medici
of the A.M. Costa Rica Staff

Relax, San José, your Guinness is brewed in Ireland.

The beer with the familiar dark complexion and thick rising head has become an international phenomenon that is brewed in 51 countries and sold in an additional 99. Two main breweries produce the beer that is shipped to the 99 countries that do not brew their own. Those breweries are in Trinidad and Ireland. 

The staff at the Diageo Corp., the brewers and distributors of Guinness, has conducted numerous taste tests, all of which report that Guinness tastes incredible wherever it is brewed. 

While a Guinness from Trinidad is still a Guinness, true fans of the sacred stout know that a brew from Ireland has a certain magic to it. Luckily, the Guinness that is shipped to Costa Rica comes straight from Belfast, Ireland, reported the company.

If you have been wondering where to pick up your favorite brew, look no further then the local market. Guinness is available in grocery stores throughout San José. For a price of 850 colons, more than twice local beer, the Central Valley can quickly become Limerick County as you enjoy a hearty pint of Irish splendor. 

Guinness brews a special stout that is distributed throughout Costa Rica and other Caribbean nations. When Guinness first started exporting their product, it had to up the alcohol content in order to help the beer 

A.M. Costa Rica photo
From the Emerald Isle to you

survive the long journey at sea. This brew was labeled the Foreign Extra Stout. According to Diageo, "The taste and alcohol delivery levels are maintained at 19th century levels." 

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Another suspect grabbed at airport as heroin courier
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 42-year-old Guatemalan man faces allegations that he tried to smuggle some 13 pounds of heroin out of Costa Rica by airplane.

Officials said that the man was a link between Colombian processing organizations and drug dealers in the United States. They said that the air trip from Costa Rica to Guatemala was simply part of the route through México and into the United States.

The man, who was detained at Juan Santamaría Airport Sunday afternoon, was identified by the last names of Ferithjoff Lee Bosque. Agents of the Policía de Control de Drogas said that the suspect arrived in Costa Rica from Venezuela and was detained as he boarded an aircraft for his home country.

They said the substance suspected to be drugs was found in eight pairs of shoes, in the hem of clothing, in three CD carriers and in an appointment book.

The man became the 42nd person detained this year at the airport and the man suspected of carrying the most 

Ministro de Seguridad photo
Shoes contained heroin, agents said.
heroin, some 5.9 kilos. He faces up to 15 years in prison here.
A Guatemalan woman was detained Nov. 10 when she tried to leave the country with what agents said was 2.2 kilos of heroin. That’s 4.8 pounds.

International voices deplore murder of Nicaraguan correspondent
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Nov. 9 assassination of a Nicaraguan journalist represents "the most brutal means of restricting freedom of expression" and was a violation of the fundamental rights of individuals, says Eduardo Bertoni, an official with the human rights unit of the Organization of the American States.

In a statement, Bertoni, the organization’s special rapporteur for freedom of expression, said he views positively the fact that the assassination in Nicaragua of journalist María José Bravo has "been condemned from the highest governmental offices." Bertoni said he hopes the investigation of Bravo's murder is continued "until its ultimate resolution, and that the competent authorities find means to prevent similar acts in the future."

Ms. Bravo, 26, was a correspondent for the Nicaraguan

newspaper La Prensa. She was shot while leaving the vote-counting center in the city of Juigalpa, where she was covering the recounting of the votes in Nov. 7 Nicaraguan municipal elections. 

A local mayor is one of the suspects. The reporter leaves a 3-year-old child.

Bertoni said that in "election periods" freedom of expression and the press "becomes fundamental to keep society informed."

An independent group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, urged Nicaraguan authorities to investigate Ms. Bravo's death promptly bring charges.

Another independent group, the International Federation of Journalists, says that the 100-plus journalists who have been killed around the world in 2004 make it the most deadly year for journalists.

Rumsfeld praises Panamá for playing important role against narco-terror
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

PANAMA CITY, Panamá — U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says greater cooperation and coordination are the keys to dealing with narco-terrorists, and Panama is playing an "important role" in that fight.

Appearing here for a news conference with Hector Aleman, Panama's minister of government and justice, Rumsfeld said Panama is undertaking "laudable efforts" to address the "nexus" of terrorism, drugs, and organized crime.

Panama's national police force, Rumsfeld said, "serves as an example for nations in the region" in fighting narco-terrorism. The U.S. defense secretary added that Panama's Maritime Service has been successful in intercepting the illicit shipment of drugs and weapons.

The United States applauds the increasing cooperation between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean in ensuring hemispheric security, Rumsfeld said. The defense secretary cited Panama's participation

with other nations in maritime security operations as an  excellent example of Panama's cooperation in Western Hemisphere security matters.

This collaboration, Rumsfeld said, "will bolster the security of the Western Hemisphere," and the United States "looks forward to working with Panama and others in such cooperative efforts."

Rumsfeld said money laundering, arms trafficking, and narcotics trafficking are problems that cannot be dealt with by a single country. Those problems, he said, require multilateral cooperation, coordination, and exchanging of law enforcement information.

For his part, Panama's Minister Aleman said his country is currently involved in a "cooperation process" with many countries around the world — including the United States — to prevent any kind of incident that would affect the safety of the Panama Canal. The canal, said Aleman, is a "property of humanity, and our responsibility as Panamanians is to guarantee humanity that the transit of [global] shipping through Panamá will be safe and secure."

Jo Stuart
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