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Jo Stuart
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These stories were published Thursday, Nov. 22, 2001

He's glad he's
not a turkey

A male iguana strikes a regal pose on a tree in Manuel Antonio while he comtemplates, perhaps, how lucky he is to be an iguana and not a turkey in this, the Thanksgiving season.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
THANKSGIVING: Time to consider what is and what is not important
By the staff of A.M. Costa Rica

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States, and it is a good time for English-speakers to reflect on what is important, what is not important and for what we should give thanks.

As the first post-Sept. 11, 2001, Thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we express our gratitude that more did not die as victims of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere. Late word from New York City placed the Twin Towers death toll at 3,900, considerably lower than had been thought.

We are thankful that we are not one of the 3,900 or among the death toll in Washington. Or their close family members.

We are thankful that terrorists have not demonstrated their ability with nuclear arms.

We are thankful that the Taliban are on the run in Afghanistan so that this much ravaged land may have a chance to join the 21st century. And we are thankful that the short siege means many more will receive western aid and live to see the spring.

We are thankful that the bloody impact of terrorists did not touch Costa Rica, for many of us our adopted homeland.

We are thankful that policymakers and world leaders finally have identified terrorism, the mindless killing of civilians to create terror, as something every civilized being should oppose.

We are thankful that the United States and Russia have found common ground.

We are thankful that Costa Rica has a democratic government that selects its leaders through the electoral process, however flawed that taxi drivers may tell us it is.

Closer to home, we are thankful for the home, particularly in light of the homeless and the near-homeless we meet each day on the streets and roads, young and old, male and female.

And we are thankful for family and friends and a winter without snow tires. And the uncompromising love of our pets.

We are thankful for the juice of the pineapple, the brisk wind that chases away the dark clouds and the scent of a chicken being roasted over wood.

And we are thankful for the gift of reading and the self consciousness to know we are alive and capable of giving thanks.

Police detain a woman in the case of the slain university student
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police have taken into custody a 27-year-old female suspect in the murder of Shannon Martin.

Miss Martin died last May 13 when she was stabbed repeatedly outside a bar in the southwestern town of Golfito. She was a soon-to-be graduated University of Kansas biology student conducting research here.

The female suspect, who has the last name of Cruz, was detained in Golfito Tuesday. She was detained at the request of the prosecutor there who sought preventative detention while further investigations are conducted.

The key piece of evidence against the woman seems to be the sweatshirt Miss Martin was supposed to be wearing the night of the murder. The suspect is said to have confided to a female friend that the sweatshirt she was wearing this weekend was the one she took from Miss Martin when she killed her.

Autopsy reports says that Miss Martin suffered as many as 15 stab wounds to the neck and stomach, and some were administered after she died.

Sources at the Organization of Judicial Investigation said that there was other evidence implicating the suspect, but they did not elaborate. Early in the investigation investigators said that a piece of cloth found at the scene was evidence. The piece is believed to have been ripped from the sweatshirt.

The arrest raises the possibility that the University of Kansas student was murdered for her sweatshirt. The attack took place not far from the popular Jurassic Bar nightspot and near the airstrip in Golfito. Police have not suggested a motive.

At the time of the crime investigators were critical of the way police failed to restrict access to the 

crime scene. Investigators detained some individuals immediately after the crime, but they were set free in a short time. It is not known if the woman is one of those who had been detained.

Investigators have not treated the arrest as a major development. The news of the arrest came from Golfito. Officials of the Judicial Investigating Organization in San José did not react with the usual press conference that would be expected from a high-profile case.

Police also did not quickly notify the victimís family in the United States. Reporters at the Lawrence, Kansas, Journal-World said they learned of the arrest because they monitor a news Web site in Costa Rica.

There still  remains the question of reward. Individuals in the southwest area posted notices of a $10,000 reward months ago. That amounts to 3,370,000 colons at the current exchange rate.

When the crime was being probed, investigators said that at least two persons, perhaps sailors visiting the port town, had been involved. Presumably they based their theory on the brutal way the murder took place.  The dead womanís mother, Jeanette Stauffer, who visited Costa Rica in August, said that she believed that it took 10 minutes for the criminals to kill her daughter.

The suspect was put into 10 days of custody during which she will not be able to contact other persons, thereby  raising the possibility that investigators still are looking for other suspects. 

Miss Martin returned to Costa Rica in May to conduct six days of additional research for her senior year thesis.  She was supposed to graduate a few days after her death. She was staying with a host family in Golfito, and the crime happened between the bar and the host family home.

Effort for horseshoe pitch
begins for fans in Heredia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It is not exactly a groundswell yet, but some sports types near Heredia are trying to put together a horseshoe association.

They hope that they will be able to develop a horseshoe pitch at a major hotel, the Bougainvillea, in Santo Tomás de Santo Domingo de Heredia

"Horseshoes is a unique game," said Tom Jafek, one of the organizers. "It can be played by young and old and rich and poor and males and females.It is a great fresh air outdoor sport and it takes advantage of the wonderful weather of Costa Rica. There are handicap systems, and competition abounds."

The group hopes to sponsor tournaments and international competitions and eventually affiliate with the National Horse Shoe Pitching Association.
Other countries, Canada, Finland, Sweden, the United States and Great Britain, already have associations, said Jafek.

"We need your input and your interest to launch this project.," said Jafek to potential players. "We are at ground zero, so we have every opportunity to set it up right. Right now we want your contact information so we can begin. Please call me at 244- 3408 or e-mail at lacarret@racsa.co.cr. Give a little info on your skill level and if you want to help organize or just be a player."

Gunmen die in heist
at Pavas highway bank

Three gunmen tried to stick up the crew of an armored car about 8:40 a.m. Wednesday in front of the bank BanCrecen on the Pavas highway less than a mile west of the west border of La Sabana Park.

Two robbers died and the third was wounded and captured after a car chase to Uruca. Two bank employees also suffered wounds.

No money was believed taken in the attempted heist, but traffic on the busy street was halted and rerouted through adjacent neighborhoods, thereby creating traffic jams all morning. 

Powell promises to work
with Nicaragua's Bolaños

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON ó U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States will work with international financial institutions to promote investment and economic growth in Nicaragua. 

Secretary Powell made the remark Wednesday here following a meeting with Nicaraguan President-elect Enrique Bolaños. Powell also said international lending agencies need to help Nicaragua come through what he called a "difficult period." 

More than 70 percent of the Nicaraguan population lives in poverty, and the country is plagued with a 44 percent unemployment rate. President-elect Bolaños says his country needs to increase agricultural production and investment to fight poverty. He also says his country is committed to fighting terrorism, money laundering and narcotics trafficking. 

Bolaños was making his first visit to the United States since defeating former Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega in elections Nov. 4. The United States strongly favored Bolaños over Ortega, who fought a bitter campaign against U.S. backed Contra rebels in the 1980s. Bolaños takes office in January. 

In a related development, Secretary of State Powell repeated his support for President Bush's nominee for a top State Department position. Powell describes the nominee, Otto Reich, as an "honorable man" who should be confirmed as the next assistant secretary of state for Western Hemispheric affairs. 

Reich headed the State Department's office of public diplomacy in the mid-1980s. Some members of the U.S. Congress have questioned his activities involving Nicaragua during the Reagan Administration. He has not been charged with any crime.

Government and rebels
agree to open peace talks

The Colombian government and the country's second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), have agreed to open formal peace negotiations.

The government broke-off preliminary negotiations in early August.

Representatives of the government and the ELN agreed on resumption of peace talks during two days of meetings in Cuba.

Colombia's government also is engaged in off-again, on-again peace talks with the country's largest guerrilla band, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The Colombian civil war, involving all three irregular armed bands and the government, has been going on for 37 years. 

Meanwhile, Colombian and U.S. officials say 47 people have been arrested in both countries in connection with a heroin smuggling ring that brought millions of dollars' worth of the drug into the United States. 

Colombian authorities say nearly half of the suspects were arrested Tuesday during numerous raids throughout the Andean nation. Officials say the narcotics operation smuggled about 50 kilograms of heroin per month into the United States. 

Authorities say the smugglers attempted to conceal the drug in their clothing seams to transport it to the United States. Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine, but heroin production is on the rise.

The United States is currently providing massive military aid to Colombian President Andres Pastrana's anti-drug program known as "Plan Colombia."

In a related development, a judge in Colombian has ruled that the U.S.-backed fumigation of drug crops can resume on land belonging to indigenous Indians. 

Judge Gilberto Reyes had temporarily suspended the aerial fumigations to give Indians time to back up their claim that spraying causes health problems and hurts the environment. 

The spraying of drug crops in Colombia is the main component of the U.S.-backed war against drugs in the region. 

The effort is aimed at reducing crops that produce cocaine and heroin, and to deny income to leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries who earn money through drug crops.

U.S.-Mexican pact faces
delays due to attacks

U.S. officials say an immigration agreement between the United States and Mexico will be delayed due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Officials made the comment Tuesday following meetings with a visiting Mexican delegation in Washington. The talks involved representatives from the Departments of State, Labor and Justice.

Tuesday's meetings follow related talks in Mexico with U.S. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Daschle says he expects Congress to pass immigration legislation as early as the beginning of next year.

President Fox has pushed for an immigration accord that would grant legal status to an estimated 3 million undocumented Mexicans in the United States. 

Bush agrees that some sort of legalization process short of an amnesty is called for, given the contributions Mexican workers have made to the U.S. economy. President Fox actively promoted his plan during a visit with President Bush, which occurred just days before the Sept. 11 strikes. 

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