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President Abel Pacheco outlined a plan for citizen security Wednesday that ranged from a reorganization of the police to special emphasis on family violence to spotlighting bad sidewalks and potholes to regulating high-risk sports.
The proposals were breathtaking in the areas they cover, including a plan to use digital fingerprints to verify the sellers of real estate.
The plan promised to fight corruption, better regulate the process of adoption, keep a tight watch on automobile inspections, fight child labor and cut down on illegal immigration.
The plan can best be described as a wish list of the 14 agencies and ministries involved in creating the plan.
A major aspect of the plan is to seek input and help from the citizens, hence the name Plan National de Seguridad Integral y Participación Ciudadana, the national plan of integrated security and citizen participation.
The plan was devised by the Consejo de Seguridad Integral y Participación headed by Lineth Saborío, the former Judicial Investigation Organization director who is first vice president in the Pacheco administration. Pacheco set up the council Aug. 27.
"We have to create a culture of integrated security that encompasses the centers of work, the
|highways, recreational centers and
study centers," said Pacheco. However, the president quickly admitted that
there were few resources. Nevertheless, he said, the government would intensify
transit, supervision and prevention operations.
Vice President Saborío said one of the first concrete actions of the plan is the creation of 1,772 new community security committees and the creation of a commission to study the legal ways to merge police forces now under the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. These forces include the drug control police, the Fuerza Pública and the coast guard.
In addition, the government will seek to establish a legal framework for the police operated by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería and to reactivate student control organizations such as the Cruz Verde.
Vice President Saborío also said that the government would create a program of police protection at schools and create 40 municipal offices for women.
The plan, much of which was in Pacheco’s campaign platform, was outlined by officials at the Colegio de Abogados in Zapote.
The council report said that the future structure of the police will depend on a detailed analysis of statistics of violence, corruption, criminality and social insecurity.
Among the proposals put forth by the Plan National de Seguridad Integral y Participación Ciudadana are:
- maintain the support for a program of tourist security,
- launch a major campaign to educate the public about personal security,
- make unspecified legal reforms about citizens having firearms,
- establish a fiscal police to hunt down tax evaders,
- make it easier to initiate disciplinary action against police who are involved in immoral or illicit acts with the goal of firing them,
- maintain a war on drugs,
- create within the executive branch an investigative unit specialized in vehicle theft, intellectual property violations and the sexual exploitation of juveniles.
- work with the Asemblea Nacional to approve relevant laws already in the hopper,
- promote alternative resolution of conflicts,
- promote the proposed law against corruption and illicit enrichment in the public sector,
- simplify governmental procedures, presumably to eliminate the need for bribes,
- crack down on violence against women and also family violence, including that of a sexual nature,
- create a shelter for battered women and their children,
- create a shelter for the interdisciplinary treatment of children who are victims of abuse and sexual exploitation,
- establish educational campaigns about the dangers of drugs, smoking and alcohol,
- put forward a national plan against commercial
|sexual exploitation of children and
give the means to the Ministerio de Trabajo to eliminate child labor,
- create opportunities for young people,
- increase penalties for traffic violations, including license suspensions,
- establish a road security plan that pinpoints vulnerable areas, including places that lack sidewalks, pedestrian bridges, potholes, signalization and lighting,
- maintain a strict oversight on the troubled revisión técnica program for vehicle inspection to reduce the accidents caused by vehicle mechanical failure.
- encourage legal reforms to regulate the transportation of inflammable materials or dangerous substances,
- stress security in entertainment and recreation centers, including the regulation of high-risk sports,
- reinforce agencies that promote and control occupational hazards,
- aid those 81 municipalities that are prone to natural disasters,
- combat the networks of immigration traffickers in the northern zone and eliminate illegal labor by immigrants,
- create many ways for citizens to participate in government,
- apply a law of internal control to provide more tools for the Contraloría General de la República to keep track of government money,
- put forward more laws to reduce illicit enrichment, encourage citizen oversight, and provide citizens with access to government information,
- coordinate with the Defensoría de los Habitantes, the ombudsman office, information about complaints received about the actions of the central government.
|‘Fiddler’ in Spanish
hits local theater
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Teatro Melico Salazar is sold out for its opening tonight of "Fiddler on the Roof," but tickets are still available for Sunday’s matinee and evening performances, according to Dr. Rita Rubinstein, producer.
The play is a production of the Grupo Israelita de Teatro, and almost all of the 80 actors in the play are members of the Centro Israelita Sionista de Costa Rica Jewish community.
The successful Jerry Bock Broadway musical has been translated into Spanish.
Set in Russia in 1905, "Fiddler on the Roof" is the story of a dairyman struggling to maintain his family’s traditions during a period of radical change. It is a story about the dairyman and one of his daughters, who doesn’t want to marry the man picked by her father.
Featured in the play are familiar songs like "Tradition," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Sunrise, Sunset."
Tickets for the show cost between 2,000 and 7,000 colons ($5 and $19),
and they can be purchased at the box office of the Teatro Melico Salazar.
Another boatload of rice
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Another boatload of U.S. rice is due to arrive at the Caldera docks later this month. The shipment will be the first of an estimated five or six ship loads of rice due to come to the country this year.
That estimate is from the Oryza Rice Market Newsletter which said it was based on a U.S. Department of Agriculture report from San José.
Last April when a similar shipload arrived in the Caldera harbor near Puntarenas. angry rice farmers blocked San José streets near the Asemblea Nacional for days until lawmakers agreed to form a rice corporation that would give preference and subsidies to local growers.
Rice farmers also clashed with police near Caldera when the rice was unloaded and trucked away.
The street blocades took place just before President Abel Pacheco took office, and legislation has not yet been passed rounding out the structure of the rice corporation.
What has been passed is a law prohibiting the blocking of streets. The
law went into effect two weeks ago and has not yet been tested in the courts.
Some believe the law is unconstitutional in that it prevents legal demonstrations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The country’s leading environmental proponents met Wednesday to put into action a new strategy to protect forest areas.
The National Plan of Forest Development was signed in by Iván Angulo, Costa Rica’s representative from the U. N. Food and Agricultural Organization and Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, director of Ministro del Ambiente y Energía.
The main objective of the plan is to initiate technical studies and to create an open dialogue about the opportunities of forest protection among Costa Rica’s various environmental institutions.
Finding ways to promote preservation without offsetting the national economy is also intrinsic to the plan.
Currently, some 161 areas, consisting of 26 percent of the country’s
land, are protected by law, according to data from the Ministro del Ambiente
y Energía. Some 20 percent of that land is dedicated to national
Study identifies parents
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. adults with children under 18 are more likely to use the Internet than adults without children. The Pew Internet and American Life project reports that this finding emerges repeatedly in surveys it has conducted in recent years about the influence that new information technologies are having on daily life in the United States.
In "Parents Online," a synthesis of the findings issued Sunday, the report says that 70 percent of U.S. parents with minor children are Internet users, while only 53 percent of non-parents are regularly going online. Parents also reported greater ease with the technology, and less difficulty with technological change.
Parents cite their children as an important reason they go online, hoping to build Internet literacy in the household. When parents surf the Internet, they're looking for health and medical information, conducting research for schooling or training, banking online, or contacting community groups or religious organizations.
Those online activities are all more common among wired parents than
among Internet users who do not have a child in the home.
U.S. may soon be dependent on foreign oil
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Energy Department projects that the United States will become increasingly dependent on foreign supplies of oil and natural gas in the next two decades.
The Energy Outlook 2003, an annual projection of U.S. energy demand, says that total U.S. energy consumption will rise by one third between 2001 and 2025, the period covered by the forecast.
However, demand for petroleum is forecast to increase faster, by almost 50 percent, while supply of domestic oil is projected to remain roughly flat, according to a Wednesday Energy Department news release.
To close the gap, the United States will need to rely more on oil imports, which are forecast to surge from 55 percent to 68 percent of projected consumption, the administration said.
With demand for natural gas projected to grow more than 50 percent by 2025, U.S. natural gas supplies will increasingly depend on large, new domestic and foreign sources, it said. Pipeline and liquefied natural gas imports are projected to more than double, increasing their share of total natural gas demand from 15 to 22 percent, the administration added.
Meeting demand for increased natural gas imports will depend on expanding the four existing liquefied gas terminals and constructing three additional ones in the United States, as well as on completing a gas pipeline in Canada, according to the administration.
The administration said that increased demand for oil would be driven mostly by the transportation sector and higher demand for natural gas by the power-generation industry, which is forecast to rely increasingly on natural gas to produce electricity.
Haiti moving toward
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Five civil society groups have chosen representatives for a new electoral council, moving this country closer to parliamentary elections next year.
Catholic and Protestant churches, along with labor union and human rights groups, picked their representatives late Tuesday, following a two-week delay.
The groups initially refused to name representatives until the government could show it had done more to guarantee public safety and prosecute those responsible for political attacks.
A spokesman for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide praised the groups' decision, but called on the opposition Democratic Convergence to follow suit.
The opposition says it would be a mistake for it to choose a council representative on the grounds the government has not met international requirements to guarantee free and fair elections.
The Haitian government and opposition have been at an impasse since flawed elections in May 2000, when ruling party candidates won the most victories. The international community has suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Haiti.
Kidnap victim home
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Kidnappers liberated a cattle rancher from San Isidro de Grecia Wednesday
morning after his family paid a 5 million colon ($about 13,400) ransom.
The man was grabbed near his home about 5 a.m. Tuesday. The man arrived
|New Homeland Security
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate approved legislation Tuesday to create the cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, a major element in the Bush administration's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
By a vote of 90-9, the Senate passed the legislation, which initiates the largest reorganization of the federal government since 1947 when the national security apparatus was created by the Truman administration at the outset of the Cold War.
The U.S. House of Representatives, which had already approved the bill Nov. 13, is expected to agree to several minor technical corrections to the legislation Friday before sending it to President George W. Bush for signature into law. The new department will come into existence 60 days after the president's signature.
Following the general election Nov. 5, President Bush said completion of the legislation to create the new department was his highest legislative priority.
"The United States Congress has taken an historic and bold step forward to protect the American people by passing legislation to create the Department of Homeland Security," Bush said following the Senate action. "This landmark legislation, the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s, will help our nation meet the emerging threats of terrorism in the 21st century.
"This bill includes the major components of my proposal — providing for intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection, strengthening our borders, improving the use of science and technology to counter weapons of mass destruction, and creating a comprehensive response and recovery division."
The new cabinet-level federal agency actually brings together 22 existing federal agencies with more than 170,000 employees and an initial budget of $37.4 billion. Congress and the White House now must begin the process of writing an organizational plan and a budget for the new department, and it could take a year to get the department operational.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Central Intelligence Agency will not be affected directly by creation of the new department. However, the new department will have a new intelligence division that will analyze many of the same threats currently analyzed by the FBI and CIA.
The legislation was held up in the Senate because the president had sought to alter civil service personnel regulations for employees of the new department, a move the Democrats opposed. The new bill permits the president to exempt employees from collective bargaining for national security reasons. Federal employee unions could appeal and delay — but not block — the implementation of new personnel rules.
Former Trinidad leader
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — The former prime minister here has pleaded not guilty to charges that he failed to disclose money he had saved in a bank account while in office.
Basdeo Panday, 69, entered the plea Wednesday, saying he did not hide what local newspapers report was hundreds of thousands of dollars in the London bank account. Under Trinidad law, politicians are required to reveal all of their assets.
Panday was prime minister of Trinidad from 1995 to 2001. His trial is set to begin in February.
Argentina is early focus
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Western hemisphere business leaders and government officials are meeting here to discuss future economic growth in Latin America, a region battered by political and economic turmoil over the past year. The main topic on the opening day of their conference was the plight of Argentina.
Argentina's economic collapse and its prolonged negotiations with the International Monetary Fund were the main topics of discussion on the opening day of the World Economic Forum's Latin American Business summit.
Speaking at a panel discussion, a top Argentine Economy Ministry official outlined his government's hopes for reaching an agreement with the fund. But the official, Guillermo Nielsen, also complained that the negotiations are taking a long time. He said the two sides could have signed an accord in August re-establishing Argentina's credit line, if the fund had been more flexible.
Argentina, which early this year defaulted on $132 billion in public debt, is seeking to rollover the money it owes to multilateral lending agencies. Last Thursday, Argentina did not pay $805 million due to the World Bank, paying only $79 million in interest instead.
Nielsen reiterated Wednesday his government's decision not to make any more payments on Argentina's multilateral debt until an agreement is reached with the fund. He said that Argentina's international reserves of some nine billion dollars will be exhausted by May if it continues to make the payments.
Nielsen also went on to strike a defiant note, saying Argentina will not change policies that have brought a certain economic stability to the country in recent months.
"We are still negotiating. But we have not changed any of our key issues, any of our key policies," he said. "They are working. We are not changing them, and we are not going to change them because simply they are working in the right way."
At a news conference later, Nielsen said his government has been under pressure to change certain policies, but these pressures have lessened. He refused to say who is putting pressure on Argentina.
The Bush administration and the fund have been calling on Argentina
to come up with a sustainable economic development program, and to implement
reforms to make the country's economic system more transparent.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new $3.2 million fund from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will be used to fight HIV/AIDS in Central America and the Caribbean, the United Nations has announced.
The organization's Fund for International Development will provide the money to the U.N. Population Fund with the aim of reducing vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, particularly among young and mobile populations, in Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, and St. Lucia.
The money will be used to train teachers and outreach workers in the
region in sexual and reproductive health, to foster greater awareness of
the epidemic, and to encourage behavior change regarding sexual practices.
Data on HIV/AIDS will be collected and analyzed, and
|countries develop prevention strategies
and strengthen health-care services.
The U.S. Agency for International Development said about 1.4 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean have HIV/AIDS, with the Caribbean region having the highest prevalence of the epidemic outside of sub-Saharan Africa. Some 2.2 percent of the Caribbean population has HIV/AIDS, compared to 8.4 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, the agency said.
The organization’s fund is also providing $1 million in the Arab region to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and strengthen national efforts to detect and respond to the epidemic, particularly among vulnerable groups in Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territory, Somalia, the Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The project will train community workers to deal with reproductive health issues affecting youth.
|We are accused of
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I have held my tongue throughout all of the "reporting" done by your paper and the Tico Times. But, after the last few "scare" articles that have been published, I can no longer remain silent.
It is amazing that when there is nothing worthy to report dealing with the “tarring & feathering” of Luis Villalobos, one finds an article that seems to be written for the sole purpose of stirring up the emotions of those involved in this ordeal.
Case in point, your “fraud” story this A.M. Costa Rica. I urge everyone out there, to include the editors of A.M. Costa Rica and the Tico Times, to get a copy of the book and read it, “Manufacturing Consent,” by Edward Herman (Professor of Finance at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania) and Noam Chomsky (Institute Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
This is an excellent in-depth treatise of the mass media of the U.S. and how the government used the media to control the emotions and beliefs of its citizens with the American invasion of Vietnam, the Nicaraguan and El Salvador mess, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the genocide in Cambodia under a pro-American government and genocide under Pol Pot.
This manipulation is carried about by all governments, obviously, even here in Costa Rica.
I would like to quote some excerpts from their preface:
“ . . . based on many years of study of the media, they serve to mobilize support for the special interests that dominate the state and private activity, and that their choices, emphases, and omissions can often be understood best, and sometimes with striking clarity and insight, by analyzing them in such terms . . . Leaders of the media claim that their news choices rest on an unbiased professional and objective criteria, and they have support for this contention in the intellectual community.”
If, however, the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to “manage” public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality. The special importance of propaganda in what Walter Lippman referred to as the “Manufacturing Consent” has long been recognized by writers on public opinion, propaganda, and the political requirements of social order.
Lippman himself, writing in the early 1920's, claimed that propaganda had already become “a regular organ of popular government,” and was steadily increasing in sophistication and importance. We do not contend that this is all that the mass media does, but we believe the propaganda function to be a very important aspect of their overall service.”
DID YOU CATCH THAT?
So, in regard to your “fraud” article: Who sent you this e-mail????
Oh, please, don't tell me it was “Deep Throat”!!! And how can you surmise
Let me give you the definition of the word fraud: “deceit or trickery perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.”
Now, in the 8 years that we have been with Luis, I have never seen ANY “deceit or trickery” and I challenge anyone who has been with him for, possibly, all of the 20 some years in his business's existence, to produce any evidence of that “for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.”
There was never any problem with Luis paying his investors UNTIL the government(s) stepped in. You have stated many times how your paper has “grown” with this debacle, now, I ask you, WHO IS DEFRAUDING WHO?
You and the Tico Times have “perpetrated profit” through the deceit
of these useless suppositions and these “mysteriously obtained reports”
(for propaganda purposes) right at the perfect time. OK, the OIJ has not
said anything regarding the other 2 investigations, so, “let's stir up
some dissent amongst the investors and let them believe that since we have
nothing else after 5 months of investigation, we are holding a ‘trump’
As John Stossel says so well, “GIVE ME A BREAK!” Also, these letters from those people who keep claiming that the interest paid to all of us is outrageous. COME ON open your eyes. When I started my business back in 1981, in the middle of the recession, I was SO grateful to be paying my bank 19 percent interest on my loan! It happens that my CPA was, also, the bank's CPA and he informed me that this bank had its best year ever.
Did I care where they made all of their money? I already knew that I was part of their success story. Now at that time, they were "defrauding" me and thousands of other clients with 19 percent interest on loans, but they were so gracious to be paying less than 5 percent on any savings that you had deposited with them. Also, since mine was a relatively large business, my CPA told me that the banks love a business like mine with a large daily cash flow, that is where they make a lot of their money. YOUR money is in YOUR checking account, yet, that gives them clout to put that on their books and to do with YOUR money as they see fit! SO, what is so different about a greedy bank and Luis?
I will answer that “Luis is not, was not and, I am sure, never will be greedy!” He doesn't need to be. He has business "savvy" that many people envy, including the Costa Rican government.
Oh, one last thing, you stated in your article this A.M. that “At the time, many investors THOUGHT the raids were triggered by Canadian investigators who are prosecuting drug cases in that country. However, revelations from the search order, published Friday (HOW TIMELY!) showed that Costa Rica officials have been investigating the operation on their own for two years.”
Excuse me, but where did we get these thoughts from? OUT OF THE BLUE? I don't think so. It's called propaganda by the media and the government(s), well, to be more politically correct, I prefer to call it, “Manufacturing Consent.”
Respectfully yours, IN CHRIST,
Charles Lindowski, III
|Reader asks why people
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
After weeks of reading letter after letter defending E. Villalobos, I decided to write. I find it amazing that so many people defend Villalobos of any wrongdoing even though they have no idea how he is able to pay such high returns on money invested with him.
[There should be] no great mystery about where the money is invested! And so: many greedy people willing to take the money without any concern of its origin.
Villalobos investors forming groups and demanding that they get their money back! Ha! I'm 37 years old and I was taught by my parents that if something sounds to good to be true it usually is. Every last one of you deserves to lose your money.
I, for one, hope that the governments involved in the investigation don't back down and see it through to the end. If no wrongdoing is found, then free up the monies.
Until then, the people who invested money with Villalobos and had no qualms about turning their heads the other way while accepting the return need to hush up and take it like a man!
And to all the American Villalobos investors who are demanding your money back: you’re an embarrassment and you should be ashamed of yourselves.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
To all with "Brother-ly" concerns, just a thoughtful reminder:
EVERYTHING, in this world, is vibration. Thoughts, words and deeds create vibrations. What you send out will return. Thoughts, words and deeds for the greater good vibrate higher than those coming from wants and needs of the Self, only.
Prosperity follows the rules. Thoughts, words and deeds for the Self (beat the Government, cheat on taxes, no contributions to charities or to those less fortunate, me, me, me,) create a black hole.
It's time to learn to create new thought patterns and actions. Collective consciousness creates energies. If the thoughts are for the greater good, then vibrations created resonate at a high frequency. Let's all try to shift the energy surrounding Luis Villalobos’ situation. Be aware prosperity comes from wishing prosperity for all, not just for one.
Lovingly receiving and giving sends light outward. Let's be thankful for all the years everyone benefited from this business.
THINK positively of a loving prosperous outcome for ALL!
LET GO of fear and worry.
CREATE a prosperous world for all, in your head and in your heart.
FOCUS on this as often as possible.
HELP keep the vibration HIGH!
On Friday, November 22nd at 9 AM and 9 PM, spend a few extra minutes sending light to the cause. There is power in numbers.
But remember. . . ONLY LOVE PREVAILS!
Peace, Love and JOY,
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I’ve noticed your publication likes to engage in speculation, so perhaps you could speculate on this . . . How is it possible that “the Brothers” investment operation is simultaneously guilty of money laundering and fraud?
The purpose of money laundering is to hide profits from criminal activities so that the criminals receive back their money later on in a (seemingly) legitimate way. The goal of fraud on the other hand is to deprive investors of their money through lies and deception.
If the goal of Villalobos’ operation was to steal money from investors, how could he be guilty of money laundering at the same time? Assuming for the sake of argument that Mr. Villalobos were guilty of fraud, it would certainly be the biggest financial crime in Costa Rican history and one of the great crimes of the past century as well.
Why would the Costa Rican authorities allow both Villalobos brothers to leave the country, and not even bother to get a court order preventing them from doing so?
My point is this: Either the Costa Rican authorities are ridiculously incompetent or else we do not yet have the whole story.
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