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San José, Costa Rica, Weekend Edition
August 18, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 164
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BREAKING: Cuba Dave acquitted by trial court
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Updated: Friday, Aug. 18 at 2:06 p.m.

The attorney for David Strecker, also known as Cuba Dave, a U.S. citizen charged with promoting Costa Rica as a sex tourism destination, has been acquitted by a trial court.

The lawyer,  Luís Diego Chacón, confirmed this to A.M. Costa Rica Friday afternoon. According to Chacón, the court in San José ruled that the evidence presented by the prosecution did not maintain a logical relationship with the accusation. He also explained that Strecker had no knowledge of the laws of the country and their changes being out of the country for at least four years, during which the new law that he was accused of violating was enacted.

Chacón also said the prosecution could not prove it was actually Strecker who directly published the images or videos. The Ministerio Público will have 15 days to appeal the court’s decision but Strecker is apparently freed from prison. Final resolution will be handed out around Aug. 24, Chacón told A.M. Costa Rica.

This was the second trial for Strecker, a Florida resident known for his web reports on first-person encounters with Latin prostitutes. The outcome is not final. As with other criminal cases, the prosecution has the option to appeal the verdict, and there is no limit on the number of times a case may be appealed.

Strecker’s first conviction was overturned by an appeals court in May because of what the panel said were serious flaws in the prosecution’s case. Among the flaws mentioned were that there was no proof that Strecker was in Costa Rica at the time his internet accounts were posted.

Although he was acquitted by the appeals court, prosecutors managed to keep him confined in anticipation of a second trial. He was subsequently transferred  to a prison facility for older persons.

Strecker was convicted of violating a 2013 law that made promoting the country as a sex tourism destination a crime.  After he arrived as a tourist, judicial agents followed him for days and arrested him when he was leaving the country in late August 2015. It appeared they were trying to find other crimes with which to charge him. They were unable to do so. To this day, Strecker told A.M. Costa Rica back in May that he still has no understanding of why he was arrested.

He claimed at the time that he was simply writing about the country from a tourism perspective and was reporting on certain aspects of the country rather than promoting anything.

The acquittal, if it sticks, is a major embarrassment for Costa Rica’s judiciary. The law, passed in February 2013, violated most international standards on free speech. The Poder Judicial has confirmed that the Fundación Rahab was the organization that initiated the criminal case. Fundación Rahab has been the recipient of a number of federal grants under the auspices as been the recipient of a number of federal grants for work with prostitutes in San José and Jacó.

Because of the sleazy nature of  Strecker’s reporting, he has not been supported by journalistic organizations or others who defend free speech. The initial sentence was for five years. Typically convicts serve about half of a court sentence, so Strecker would soon be eligible for release anyway.



Shrimp
                              trawler
Fundación MarViva photo   
In the fight over shrimp trawling, it is the small-time fishermen that lose out.
Government tries to move trawling bill forward
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The administration of Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís looks like it is trying to continue pushing a bill that would seek to allow more shrimp trawling in national waters.

The move has drawn ire and opposition from numerous environmental groups. One of the more voiceiferous groups is Fundación MarViva that sent out a statement Thursday condemning the move as obstinate and lacking scientific support to show that shrimp trawling can be sustainable in Costa Rica.

“It is unfortunate that this decision can seriously endanger the marine ecosystem, without a scientific and technical base and ignoring the academics and scientists of the country,” said Jorge Jiménez, the director of the foundation.

“Instead of maintaining this obstinate position, the government has had years to promote a plan of transition and definitive cessation of trawling that allows us to protect our fishing resources and secure the future of thousands of families that depend on fishing in Costa Rica.”

Proponents of the bill argue that there are already environmentally-friendly regulations incorporated into the legislation.

“Any fishing gear has to prove that it is environmentally viable,” said Luis Paulino Mora, the deputy-minister for the presidency, back in March 2016. “That is clear in the bill.”

Casa Presidencial claims that the bill seeks a balance between environmental principles and sustainable production and is line with a constitutional court ruling back in 2013 not to hand out any fishing licenses to those companies or individuals not complying with environmental regulations.

Trawling is a type of fishing involving a net that sweeps across the sea floor bagging all manner of fish and marine life.
Opponents to mass trawling argues that this kills off the ecosystem by unintentionally grabbing and killing other sea life aside from the intended catch.
Fishing for
                              shrimp
Casa Presidencial photo      
Archive photo of trawling boat.

Costa Rica prohibits trawling within its territorial waters that does not comply with environmental safety measures yet some fishing vessels still do it.

They may claim that it is their only means of making a living and safeguarding the economic security of themselves and their families.

MarViva says that this ends up hurting most small-time fishermen to the benefit of large industrial fishing operations and corporations. They claim that shrimp trawling destroys the seabed and affects those same fishermen that depend on a healthy ocean.

The bill went before the legislature’s environmental committee last Thursday. Representatives of the Universidad Nacional, the Centro de Investigaciones Marinas of the Universidad de Costa Rica and 16 conservation organizations publicly voiced their opposition against the bill and the method used to create it, MarViva said.

“We want all the deputies to know our true position and to learn that the more than 500 fishermen who are members of the Cámara do not agree with what this bill proposes,” said a statement from the Cámara de Pescadores de Guanacaste.

The bill, numbered 19838, was first introduced back in December 2015 but has been sitting in committee since November 2016, based on the latest update from the Asamblea Legislativa.




Central
                              American mothers
Center for Immigration Studies photo    
Central American mothers wait with their children at immigration facility.
Central American minors program terminated
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wednesday signaled the termination of the Central American Minors Parole Program in the United States.

The notice was published in the Federal Register, which is the United States’ comparative to Costa Rica’s La Gaceta. The program began under the administration of former president Barack Obama back in December 2014 under the joint control of the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Dept. of State.

The program allowed for certain minors fleeing the area of Central America known as the Northern Triangle. These are the countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

It allowed for parents who were lawfully present in the United States to request a refugee resettlement interview for unmarried children under age 21.

Due to the parent needing to be a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen, many qualifying parents under the program were unable to file an immigration petition for their in-country relatives. Qualifying children denied refugee status under the Central American Minors Refugee Program would then be considered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for parole into the U.S. on a case-by-case basis.

According to immigration law, parole does not lead to any immigration status and does not actually constitute an admission to the United States. It did allow, however, for the parolee to stay temporarily in the country until it was terminated.

“As of August 16, 2017, USCIS will no longer consider or authorize parole under the CAM Parole Program,” said a statement from Homeland Security.

“In addition, USCIS will notify individuals who have been conditionally approved for parole under this program and who have not yet traveled that the program has been terminated and their conditional approval for parole has been rescinded.”

Homeland Security clarified that those already paroled will be allowed to stay until their term has expired pending any other problems. So how could this effect Costa Rica?

The country is already starting to feel pressure mounting on its immigration situation. The Northern Triangle citizens need only cross through Nicaragua before making it to the country and beginning the process of applying for refugee status.

Some could consider Costa Rica to be the next best option to escape the violence of their home countries.

The Costa Rican government has already made an agreement with the United States to house some adult refugees from the region who are supposed to eventually be exchanged with Pacific Islanders in an agreement between the U.S. and Australia.

A.M. Costa Rica has confirmed from officials at the State Dept. and Casa Presidencial that the deal is in the works and will be honored by all sides.

As increased gang violence batters away at those countries just north of Costa Rica and the crackdown on illegal immigration continues with the policies under President Donald Trump, then those persons may look toward other countries to flee to.

One of those choices is Costa Rica, which has already seen a flood of Haitian, African, Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan nationals come within its borders for either a brief or more extended period of time.






Remarkable
                            Tales

16th anniversary edition

Costa Rica: Remarkable Tales from Our Super Vacation Spot

A.M. Costa Rica celebrates its 16th anniversary with a compilation of classic news reports geared to the needs of foreigners living here and those elsewhere with personal or business interests in this vacation paradise. Each seeks to tell something new or original about the vacation and retirement mecca. 


Read a sample and purchase the book HERE!


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