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These stories were published Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 245
Jo Stuart
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Diagram shows the proposed continuous corridor running from the Mexican border through Costa Rica to Colombia
Diagram courtesy of the Jet Propulson Laboratory
Paris session aims to advance corridor
By Christian Burnham
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, head of the Ministerio Ambiente y Energía, is in Paris, France, this week to participate in a conference for the Mesoamerican biological corridor project.

The conservation initiative aims at protecting a continuous stretch of wildlife throughout the Central American isthmus. The forestland devoted to the reserve in Costa Rica extends along the Caribbean coast.

The corridor project was enacted in 1997 by the presidents of the seven countries of Central America: Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panamá.

The minister will meet with representatives of the conservation group at the helm of the project, the Comisión de Ambiente y Desarrollo, Thursday and Friday to discuss strategy for the next five years. 

Financial support and promotion of sustainable developments are among the topics scheduled to be discussed.

Indigenous populations occupy much of the land within the corridor. Historically, controversy has occurred when governments have imposed restrictions on land use, such as the establishment of a protected area, on native lands.

A major component of the project is to promote conservation without disturbing indigenous people living on the land.

Public-private partnership to try to help coffee growers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Costa Rican coffee growers beset by a worldwide dip in demand may get a boost by a new initiative orchestrated by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The agency and the private coffee processing company Green Mountain Coffee Roasters have agreed to form an alliance to help coffee producers and workers in developing countries whose livelihoods have been affected by historically low coffee prices.

The agreement will support the development of small- and medium-sized producers that are environmentally and economically sustainable, said an agency’s press release.

The assisted coffee systems will then improve the incomes of coffee farmers while maintaining a reliable supply of product for consumers, the release said.

The public-private partnerships take advantage of the relative strengths of each party to enhance the delivery of assistance.

The current coffee crisis has led to the loss of
livelihoods, social imbalances, accelerated 

migration to urban areas and instability. This phenomenon is most apparent in Central America, the Caribbean and East Africa, where economies are heavily dependent on coffee exportation.

The Central American countries have experienced a drop in coffee export earnings of $1 billion over the past two years.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters of Waterbury, Vermont, has a reputation in the industry for its commitment to corporate social responsibility. 

The company is committed to improving the quality of life in coffee-producing countries by supporting projects that foster self-sufficiency and individual empowerment, according to the firm’s Web site.

These programs also help insure that a stable supply of quality coffees will be available to satisfy consumer demand, said the agency release.

"Green Mountain is demonstrating that it is both a leader in the coffee industry and an outstanding example of American corporate commitment to public service," said Andrew Natsios, agency administrator.

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Kissinger appointment a strange one to Latins
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The appointment Nov. 27 of Henry Kissinger to head a panel to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has raised eyebrows in Latin America.

President George Bush said that Kissinger "is one of our nation's most accomplished and respected public servants. He worked here at the White House as national security advisor, represented America abroad as the secretary of state for two presidents." Both are Republicans.

Analysis on the news

Bush made no mention of the evaluation in many quarters that Kissinger is a war criminal. In an interesting coincidence, the date was Sept. 11, 1973, when the Chilean military unseated President Salvador Allende in a coup that declassified documents suggest was orchestrated by Kissinger from Washington.

Kissinger, now 79, was national security advisor to President Richard Nixon then, and the coup led to a reign of terror against Chileans and others under the leadership of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The coup and U.S. involvement also encouraged other authoritarian Latin regimes.

The key to the Chilean coup was the earlier murder of Gen. Rene Schneider, the chief of staff who would not allow an armed subversion of the constitutional order. A civil suit by the relatives of the murdered general names Kissinger as the intellectual author and accuses him of murder.

Recently declassified documents also show that the Nixon administration and Kissinger encouraged Brazilian officials to fix the Uruguayan presidential elections of 1971 to keep a socialist from winning.

The allegations against Kissinger are outlined by author Christopher Hitchens in "The Trial of Henry Kissinger," a book based on his Harper’s magazine article in 2001. There even is a Web site that seeks to chronicle the efforts of the former secretary of state to stay ahead of those who would question or jail him for investigation.

Among these are French Judge Roger LeLoire who had Kissinger served in Paris in 2001 to seek testimony on French citizens murdered in the Chilean dictatorship. Kissinger quickly left the country.

Another judge, Juan Guzman in Chile, wants information over the fate of U.S. citizen Charles Horman, who disappeared a week after the 1973 coup. The 1982 movie "Missing" with Jack Lemmon as Horman’s father, popularized the case.

Hitchens quickly wrote a Nov. 27 article in Slate, entitled "The Latest Kissinger Outrage: Why is a proven liar and wanted man in charge of the 9/11 investigation?"

His critique extended far outside Latin America to include U.S. actions during the Vietnam war, weapons supplies to eliminate rebels in East Timor and Kissinger’s later employment as a private citizen representing Chinese interests during the time of the student massacres

In Argentina, Kissinger and Nixon seem to have given at least moral support to the dirty war against dissidents there. Declassified documents said that the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires complained to Washington that the Argentine officers were "euphoric" over signals from high-ranking U.S. officials, including then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, according to the National Security Archive, a private Washington organization that pushes for declassification of government paperwork.

Kissinger gives his views in several books. This is the cover of one.

At about the same time in Guatemala, the military there used a year-long state of siege imposed by President Carlos Arana Osorio, to eliminate hundreds of "terrorists and bandits," mainly in the countryside, other declassified documents say, suggesting U.S. support.

A Nov. 13, 2000, declassification of documents included dozens of records on the September 1976 assassination of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his American associate, Ronni Karpen Moffitt. The information had been previously withheld by the Justice Department as possible evidence in an ongoing investigation of Gen. Pinochet’s personal role, according to a release from the National Security Archives. The murders took place in Washington, D.C., and some believe after U.S. officials agreed to look the other way. Letelier had become an enemy of Pinochet.

The documents released during the Bill Clinton administration included detailed minutes of the "40 Committee" meetings — the high-level interagency group chaired by Kissinger. This committee oversaw U.S. efforts to undermine the election and government of Socialist Allende. These meetings reveal strategies of "drastic action" planned to "shock" Chileans into taking action to block Allende, said the National Security Archive.

When the actual coup took place, Kissinger was going through his confirmation process to be secretary of state for Nixon. He assured the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at that time that the United States had no role in the events that were developing in Chile, including the murder of the elected president.

The Latin American view of this history and Kissinger’s naming seems to be another case of "Do as I say, not as I do" by the United States. Many countries are moving against those powerful officials who duck accountability for their actions. The United States encourages this, but not with Kissinger.

So Latins have trouble swallowing the idea of a man who orchestrated terrorist activities should be picked to study the origins of the U.S. terrorist attacks. And they wonder about the veracity of this highly pragmatic politician.

Supreme Court justices
join Venezuelan strike

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

CARACAS, Venezuela — Several Supreme Court justices have stopped working as a nationwide general strike aimed at ousting President Hugo Chavez gains momentum. 

Nearly half of the court's 20 justices stopped working Tuesday, citing political harassment from the government. 

Judge Alberto Martinez, speaking on behalf of the court, said his colleagues will act only on the most urgent cases. 

There was no immediate government reaction to the announcement, which came on the ninth day of the indefinite work stoppage in the oil-rich nation. The labor action has paralyzed oil production in the world's fifth-largest exporting country and a key U.S. supplier. 

The head of the state-run oil monopoly, Petroleos de Venezuela, has warned of impending disaster if the crisis continues. Ali Rodriguez says Venezuela may face penalties if it fails to meet its export obligations this month. 

In a related development, the U.S. State Department has again warned U.S. citizens to defer travel to Venezuela because of the deteriorating conditions there. Officials say Americans already in the country are urged to consider leaving.

Bush bonds with
Brazilian president-elect

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Economic matters topped the agenda when President Bush met at the White House Tuesday with Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacia Lula da Silva. 

They come from strikingly different political philosophies especially when it comes to economics.

President Bush is a fiscal conservative, while da Silva is a former union leader with leftist leanings.

Still, the Brazilian president-elect told reporters he was encouraged by their first meeting. "I would say that the meeting with President Bush was above the expectation," da Silva said. 

It was billed as a “get-acquainted” session — an opportunity for each man to take the measure of the other. da Silva said both talked about a desire to strengthen relations. And he said President Bush put forward what he called “a common agenda” for U.S. Brazilian ties.

da Silva did not go into details of the President's proposal, although he did say it would get serious consideration. The Brazilian president-elect also said that during the meeting he stressed the need to step up efforts to promote development in Latin America. He said development is crucial to keep the peace, to fight drug trafficking and diminish poverty.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer also portrayed the meeting in highly positive terms. "This was a very constructive and positive meeting from the president's point of view. They had a very good discussion of areas of mutual interest between the United States and Brazil that focused on trade and economic relations between our two nations," he said.

Trade is one area where da Silva's policies are at odds with the United States. He opposes the Bush administration's call for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, and wants the U.S. to reduce trade barriers to Latin American agricultural products.

Still, as he left the White House, he spoke in positive terms about prospects for the future. And he mentioned the possibility of a summit meeting with President Bush after he takes office on Jan. 1.

Red Cross expands
operations in Colombia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

GENEVA, Switzerland — The International Committee of the Red Cross says it will need nearly $650 million to help victims of armed conflict and violence next year. The Geneva-based group runs humanitarian operations in some 80 countries.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has operations in just about every trouble spot in the world, including Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, the Caucasus region in Russia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

However, it says it will have to expand its operations even more next year because of the deteriorating situations in Liberia, Colombia, and Ivory Coast. 

Pierre Krahenbuhl, director of operations, says his agency has been running regional operations for West Africa out of Ivory Coast for years and, therefore, is in a good position to expand its programs there.

Krahenbuhl says the Red Cross has been carrying out assistance and medical projects, as well as visiting prisoners held by the government or the rebels. 

The Red Cross says Afghanistan remains its largest and costliest operation. However, it adds that it has cut more than $40 million off last year's budget due to the improved situation in that country. Cuts also have been made in programs for Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone and Yugoslavia. 

The president of the international committee, Jakob Kellenberger, says the Red Cross is asking for $15 million for Iraq for next year. He says the agency already has released $11 million from its reserve funds to prepare for the humanitarian consequences of a possible war.

Casa Alianza releases
child murder stats

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Murder of children and youth under the age of 23 years old in the capital city has sharply increased over the past two years, according to Casa Alianza. 

According to data collected by the child advocacy group, 358 children and youth were murdered in Guatemala City in 2001. In the first 10 and a half months of 2002, a total of 408 children and youth were murdered — an increase of 27 percent over the previous year.

“This month we supposedly celebrate 6 years since the signing of peace in Guatemala,” said Bruce Harris, Casa Alianza’s regional director for Latin America. “Yet these figures show that more children are dying in times of ‘peace’ than during the civil war.”

Downed airplane pilot
found dead in forest

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The body of a missing airplane pilot was discovered at the site of the crash landing in the Braulio Carrillo National park, located north of San José. The victim, Alfredo Salazar Gerardo Zamora, had been missing since Dec. 2.

Recovery of the body was complicated due to the high altitude of the accident site as well as strong winds in the region.

Aid money allocated
to help Caribbean slope

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government has designated 1.8 billion colons (about $4.7 million) to help residents on the Caribbean slope rebuild their homes and lives.

The area was savaged at the end of November by record rains that drove about 6,000 persons from their homes. Some 134 communities suffered heavy damage, including Limón, Sarapiquí and Turrialba.

Lineth Saborío said that each governmental institution would be designating money for work within their responsibilities. Officials are planning a ceremony in Limón Dec. 21 to mark the distribution of funds.

Among the support given to victims of the rain and flooding are 17 million emergency ration kits with food for four persons inside.

The biggest expenditures will be by the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transporte that will have 1 billion colons ($2.7 million) for repairs of roads and other public works. Educación Pública has about a third of that amount to repair the estimated 130 school buildings that suffered damage.

Three months' detention
sought for Milanes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The public prosecutor for economic crimes asked for three months of pretrial detention Tuesday for José Milanes and Enrique Pereira, and it was likely that a judge would agree to the request.

Prosecutors in the Sección de delitos economicos y financieros  were speeding up their paperwork as the deadline for the two men approached. In Coast Rica, a person may be held for questioning 24 hours. After that a judge has to approve the detention.

Both men underwent arrest Monday in the late afternoon, so as the courts closed, prosecutors were searching for a judge to approve the detention. It could not be learned last night how a judge acted, but a spokesperson for the courts said that judges are available 24 hours a day for such situations.

The court spokesperson could not shed light on the relationship of Pereira to Savings Unlimited, the high interest investment firm that folded the weekend of Nov. 23. Milanes is the brother of Louis Milanes, the operator of the firm who is now a fugitive. Associates of José Milanes have maintained since Nov. 23 that he was not associated with the lending business, which may have cost investors here up to $250 million.

The three months of pretrial detention is only a formality. The law allows up to one year of such detention, and prosecutors may take that much time to sort out a complex case such as the one generated by the demise of Savings Unlimited. They at least have to dig through the complex layers of corporations that Louis Milanes set up for the lending business, a chain of hair salons, at least three casinos and other businesses. 

Among the latter may be the toy and liquor distributorship run by José Milanes in Calle Blancos where he and Pereira were arrested.

A large stash of dope
went up in smoke 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials from the Judicial Investigation Organization destroyed a large quantity of illegal narcotics early Tuesday morning. Jorge Rojas, the director general, oversaw the operation, which took place at a cement factory in Cartago.

The stockpile of confiscated drugs consisted of 1,119,824 grams of cocaine, 3,178 grams of crack, 37,490 grams of heroin, 274 marijuana plants, 286 grams of marijuana stems and 18 marijuana seeds. 
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