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These stories were first published Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001
Memorial service 
this morning at 9
for terror victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. community and friends will be gathering this morning for a memorial service for the thousands killed by terrorists Tuesday in the United States.

The service will be in Teatro Eugene O'Neill of the Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano in Barrio Dent some150 meters north of the Los Yoses Gas Station.

No announcement has been made of the program for the service. 

Meanwhile, New Yorkers and ex-New Yorkers plan a gathering of their own. The event is expected to be more upbeat than a religious service.

"If you were born, lived in or ever worked in New York City or are otherwise somewhat rude," then you should attend, said organizers tongue-in-cheekly.

The so-called "remembrance soiree" will be at Tex-Mex Restaurant in Santa Ana Sunday at 4 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring some photos, be prepared to sing New York and Broadway songs and tell funny New York stories, said organizers.

Each participant will pay his or her own way, but organizers would like those who plan to go to let them know at 282-3694, Ext. 105.

Some of the organizers of the New York social event also said they would be at the Centro Cultural for the memorial service.

Possibility of list
touches Costa Rica

Costa Rica was abuzz Monday at the possibility that 52 terrorists are hiding here.

Their concern was engendered by a Sunday report in La Nación, the Spanish-language daily, which said the U.S. government had given Rogelio Ramos, minister of security, a list of 52 names of people who were extradition targets.

The list is now about 185 persons, according to U.S. news reports, but the suspects probably are not all hiding in Costa Rica. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation generated a preliminary list of 52 names and sent the list to officials of other governments all over the world, not just to Costa Rica. 

So the 52 individuals, now 185, are wanted worldwide and not just in Costa Rica, although the FBI in the United States has not made the list public. Many of the names likely are Middle Eastern. 



Ex-banker wins one

A Mexican judge threw out three arrest warrants against former banking tycoon Carlos Cabal, who was extradited from Australia earlier this month. 

The judge said the state failed to prove Cabal violated Mexican banking laws.  Cabal was extradited to face charges related to a $700 million fraud scheme. He was wanted for allegedly defrauding two banks, Banca Cremi and Banco Union, while he headed the institutions. The former banker fled Mexico in 1994. 

A.M. Costa Rica photo
This car tried to eat a motocycle in Sabana about 6 p.m. Monday night. The driver of the"moto" was not seriously injured. Free spirited motorcycle drivers and their antics are the bane of other operators here.

Muggers at work
in downtown area
Special to A.M.  Costa Rica

A gang of muggers is targeting pedestrians along Avenida 1 in downtown San José in the area much-frequented by tourists.

That's the word from one U.S. citizen who survived a mugging Saturday night. He said he met another man, a Costa Rican, who was mugged Sunday in approximately the same place.

The U.S. citizen is shy about using his name, but he said he has spent five years in Central American and this was his first experience at being mugged. The man who lives in the area said he was alone, sober and walking to a pizza parlor about 8:30 p.m. when he approached a vendor's kiosk near Calle 5.

As he passed between the closed kiosk and the wall of a building, a man grabbed him from behind and applied a chokehold. As the man slipped into unconsciousness he said he saw two other muggers come from behind the kiosk. He leveled a kick at one but then passed out, he said.

When he regained consciousness a few minutes later, his pockets were inside out. He placed his loss at $200 and about 8,000 colons.

The man contradicts the stereotypical Gringo mugging victim. The time was relatively early, and the victim was, by his account, sober, although he had just left the nearby New York Bar. He is 6-foot, 1-inch tall, 49 years and about  215 pounds. The typical mugging victim is normally considered to be an older drunken tourist who stumbles into dangerous areas, perhaps in the company of a prostitute.

The man speculated that his assailant also was about the same height because he was able to put a choke hold on him effortlessly.  The sharp constriction of the blood supply to the head causes quick unconsciousness. 

The victim said did not report the attack to the police, as is usually the case with U.S. citizens who are mugged but not seriously injured in San José. Many feel that the police will not respond, and many are unaware of the procedure.

The man said that his attackers were not members of a juvenile gang,  The area has been troubled by so-called chapalinas or delinquents. However, the muggers the man saw were in their 30s or 40s, and one had a beard.

The man said that he was surprised that local business owners responded so quickly to his situation. The New York Bar provided him with a small line of credit, an employee made a loan of money and another bar owner, Keith Knight of Sharkey's, also floated him a small loan, the man said.

The man emphasized that he felt that he was lucky to survive the incident with no more than a sore neck. 

The Judicial Investigating Organization maintains a special room where those who are victims of crimes can make a report of a "denuncia." The room is on the first floor of the middle of the three buildings that make up the judicial complex between Avenidas 6 and 8 about two blocks south of the Bella Vista Fortress National Museum. From six to eight clerks take reports on computers.

Frequently victims of street crimes also will be asked to view the organization's mug books that contain photos of persons who have been arrested previously.

In the past, judicial investigators have said that filing such reports are important because it allows police to put more officers in areas where crimes are occurring.
 

Arab community down south gets the eye
Bill Rodgers
A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIODE JANEIRO Authorities in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay say they have stepped up  security along their common border area in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist  acts in the United States. The area was under suspicion in the past as a  possible haven for Middle East terrorists. 

The focus of attention is on Ciudad del Este, a city along the Paraguayan  border with Brazil and Argentina, which has a large Arab community. 

Security along the common border has been increased as authorities carefully check travel documents of those entering and leaving Ciudad  del Este. 

Paraguayan police say they also are investigating whether any community  members are involved in suspicious activities. A spokesman for the Ciudad  del Este police, Augusto Lima, says the information gathered is being  shared with Brazilian and Argentine authorities. 

The spokesman said the information also is being passed to agents of the  U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. U.S. embassies in Brasilia and  Asuncion refused comment on any FBI activity. 

Suspicions about the Ciudad del Este community 
were first raised four  years ago by Argentina, which was the scene of two bombings in the early  1990s, one against the Israeli embassy and the other against an  Israeli-Argentine mutual assistance group. 

Argentina's interior minister at the time, Carlos Corach, said there were  indications terrorists belonging to Hezbollah were going to the Paraguayan  city to stay at homes of relatives and to receive financing for their  activities. 

On Thursday, the Paraguayan government announced it has suspended  granting visas to citizens from Arab nations. Paraguayan Foreign Minister  Jose Antonio Moreno Ruffinelli said the action is directly related to  Tuesday's attacks in the United States. 

He also said the Paraguayan government will cooperate in any way it can  with the search for those responsible for the terrorist acts. 

In Brazil, Foreign Minister Celso Lafer told reporters that officials are  increasing their vigilance along the border with Paraguay. But he added his  government has no evidence of any terrorist network in the area. 

Temporary dip seen in Costa Rican tourism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a consensus on the effect Tuesday's terrorist attack will have on tourism in Costa Rica.

Air fares might creep higher, thanks to increased security. Some U.S. citizens and Canadians might avoid foreign travel for awhile. Yet any dip in tourism will be temporary and not seriously affect the long-term prospects because Costa Rica offers true value for the tourist dollar.

That basically was the view of the majority of tour operators, travel agents and others in the industry who were questioned Monday. There were differences of opinion as to the degree of the possible dip, and some professionals said that tourism actually would pick up as it did during and after the Gulf War the United States waged in the Middle East.

"We will be a lot better off than tour operators in Afghanistan" said one with dark humor.

The one uncertainty is the possibility of another terrorist attack in the U.S. Irving Darche of Agencia de Viajes UNO agreed that such an event would wreck predictions. But he was in the travel business here during the Gulf War and noted that North 
Americans then preferred Latin climes to travel in

 Europe for fear of terrorism there. He said he doubted that there would even be a small drop in tourism.

But Carlos Quiros, who runs the agency, said he was expecting a slight drop in tourists coming here, showing that there are differing predictions even in the same company.

Eric Robinson, who runs Hemingway Inn, Barrio Amon, also said he didn't think that tourism would be affected significantly, although he said he would not be surprised by a temporary lag. 

And, he said, hotel operators like him did not fare too badly last week when the United States and Canada grounded commercial jets. "We had some loses, and we had some gains," he said, noting that although new tourists could not come into the country, those who already were here could not leave.

David P. Hepler Sr. of Catch and Release Club Costa Rica, a tour operator specializing in sport fishing, did not seem to think that tourism would decline. He had just returned from the United States, and had no trouble doing so because his return reservation was on the same day, Sunday, that major airlines resumed flying.


 
 

Gunmen strike
businesses 
in Sabana 
and Alajuela

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Armed gunmen hit twice in Sabana, once Sunday and again Monday. 

Five masked men with pistols held up Pollo Campero in Sabana Este about 9:40 p.m. and got away with about 3 million colons, according to the Judicial Investigation Organization.

About 10 a.m. Monday gunmen held up a cellular vendor's store in Sabana Sur. Little details about that case were known as police still were investigating. However, store owners in the area adopted stricter security measures.

Within the last six months gunmen have held up the Shell Service station and the POPs ice cream store in Sabana Sur. The last crime also was about 9 or 10 a.m. in the morning.

Also Monday gunmen held up a filling station near the Alajuela cemetery and got away with an estimated 8 million colons, investigators reported. In that crime three men with pistols and a getaway driver were blamed.
 

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