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These articles first were published Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2001
Cost Rica sex trade
gets airing in Italy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An Italian television station was planning to report Monday night on the exploitation of underage prostitutes in Costa Rica.

That was the word from Casa Alianza earlier Monday. The group identified the television station as the biggest private station in Italy, Italia 1.

Two television producers, identified as Sebastián Basco and Silvia Chiodin, spent several weeks in Costa Rica during August, the child advocacy group said.

The two were investigating the case of a 14-year-old girl and one 17 who were murdered last December. "This reporting will be in memory of the life and death of Ivette," said Basco of the younger girl, according to Casa Alianza. "It appears that people in Costa Rica have forgotten this small girl and her friend aged 17, Jacqueline, who suffered the same tragic fate."

No arrest has been made.

President Miguel Angel Rodrígues initially brushed off the problem of child prostitution when he was interviewed in a similar documentary by a U.S. television station last year. Later Juan José Vargas was designated by the president as his special assistant in the fight against sexual exploitation of minors here.

Casa Alianza said that the government has now recognized the problem and has developed the outlines of a national action plan against sexual exploitation of children to be presented to the second world congress against exploitation in Japan in December.

The Italian team interviewed Vargas as part of its documentary, as well as other goverment officials, said Casa Alianza, and Basco went so far as to pretend to be a sexual tourist to show his viewers how easy it would be to find an underaged prostitute and bring her to a hotel, said the group.

U.S. vet in Curridabat 
heads VFW recruitment

Thomas D. Graham of Curridabat has been named a national deputy chief of staff by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He is a retired member of the U.S. Air Force who is affiliated here with VFW Harry H. Miller Post 6565 which is joining soon with another local post, 11206, he said.

In his new capacity, Graham will be involved with recruitment of new members to the organization in the VFW’s Department of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Graham said he is looking forward to traveling to new areas on behalf of the VFW. He had served as departmental inspector general. 

The appointment was by John J. Senk, Jr., of Cranford, N.J., adjutant general of organization of former U.S. servicemen and women. It comes at a time when the organizations new commander-in chief, James N. Goldsmith of Lapeer, Mich., has challenged members to sign up 150,000 new members over the next three years

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Oscar Arias Sánchez says goodbye to Hans H. Austermuhle, who has just had the former president's book inscribed after Arias spoke Monday.

Arias promotes his idea
of Marshall plan for poor

By Jay Brodell
A.M. Costa Rica editor

Oscar Arias Sánchez, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former president, called for a Marshall plan to aid the world’s poor before Democrats Abroad Monday.

He said that was the way to achieve peace and justice in a world that is now in crisis from terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. 

He also urged an international criminal court to help fight terrorism even though the United States had been reluctant to subject its citizens to international bodies.

The talk received a warm reception from approximately 100 similarly minded Democrats and friends in the Gran Hotel Costa Rica. The genial Arias did not even raise a hackle when he told a questioner that United States bombing "killing from afar is also a definition of cowardice." 

But the real thrust of his presentation transcended the current wartime situation and was firmly rooted in a realm of causes and effects. 

He said the western world was suffering from a "lack of vision, lack of knowledge and a lack of leadership." 

Wealthy and poor nations were suffering from incorrect priorities, he said. Why, for example, does Chile need $600 million in F-16 fighter jets, he asked. At the same time, he came down on the wealthy nations for promoting arm sales:

". . . it is imperative that the large arms-producing countries take the lead in scaling back the volume of death that they peddle to the world." 

If just 5 percent of what the world spent on weapons was redirected to social needs, there would be "sufficient to guarantee basic education, health care and nutrition, potable water and sanitation to all of the world’s people," he said in specifying the source of funds for his Marshall Plan, named after the post-World War II U.S. plan that helped Western Europe.

When compared to the foreign aid distributed by other countries, "your government is one of the stingiest on earth," he told the predominately U.S. crowd.

In both his formal talk and in questioning, he criticized the concept of free trade when the industrialized world, he said, spends $370 billion a year subsidizing their farmers.

Later he said that Costa Rica was totally dependent on trade because it imports 100 percent of what it consumes and exports 100 percent of what it produces.

He said the 20th century was one of cynicism, greed and a false sense of moral superiority. "I believe it is imperative that we discard these outdated values and replace them with the opposites: generosity, tolerance and faith in humanity." 

The former president received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts in engineering the Central American peace plan. He told the group he was going to Nicaragua with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to serve as an election observer during presidential voting there in November. 

He got the best laugh of the day when he told Democrats they might know something about election rigging, a reference to the U.S.  presidential race that was decided in the U.S. Supreme Court.

for protest 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Students at the University of Costa Rica are planning to rally there today and then go to an unspecified part of San José to demonstrate against government involvement with an oil drilling project in the Caribbean offshore from Limón.

The complaints against the drilling proposal range from environmental damage to technical concerns about not following Costa Rican law closely.

Harken Energy Corp. in the United States announced in July that it was  downplaying its international projects in favor of concentrating its resources more on the U.S. natural gas projects. In doing so it cut its ownership in the proposed Moín No. 1 well project from 80 percent to 40 percent. 

Students have been studying this situation for several years, and then have organized well, so a major traffic jam is likely and, possibily, part of their strategy. 

Ashcroft warns of imminent new attacks in U.S. and overseas
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has issued a new terrorism alert, saying credible information indicates that within the next week there may be terrorist attacks in the United States and against U.S. interests abroad.

Ashcroft said Monday there is no specific information on what type of attack might take place or against which targets. He said 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the United States have been put on high alert.

Ashcroft asked the American people for their patience, telling them to remain alert and report any unusual behavior to the proper authorities.

The Ashcroft alert is the second such warning this month. On Oct. 11, the FBI said it had gathered what it called "certain information" that additional attacks could take place within days.

Meanwhile, President Bush said his administration is moving toward tightening its visa policy, 

including for foreign students. Bush also said a new foreign terrorist-tracking task force will be set up to locate, detain, prosecute or deport terrorist group supporters who already live in the United States.

The Justice Department says one of the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attacks entered the United States on a foreign student visa. An estimated 600,000 foreign students are admitted each year in the United States.

Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is urging the U.S. federal government to share more information with local authorities to stop terrorism. The mayor made the comment Monday at a hearing in New York City.

In another request, civil liberties and human rights groups are asking the Bush administration to release information about individuals arrested or detained in connection to last month's terrorist attacks. Nearly 1,000 people have been held since the attacks, and human rights groups say they have had trouble getting information on those held.

Greenhouse gases are targeted by big meeting in Marrakech
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON — Negotiators from around the world are meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, to write the detailed operational rules of the Kyoto Protocol, which would commit developed countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

A U.S. delegation led by Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky is participating in the climate change talks, although the Bush administration has declared its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. The sessions began Monday and go until Nov. 9.

The primary challenge in Marrakech will be turning the broad principles of the Bonn Agreement into detailed legal text clearly defining the operating rules for new instruments and institutions created under Kyoto.

The protocol calls on developed countries to reduce their overall emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, with specific targets varying from country to country. 
Most scientists agree that the earth's climate is 

being affected by the buildup of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.

"Certainty about the Kyoto Protocol's rules will further motivate businesses and other economic actors to create the low-carbon economy of the future," said Michael Zammit Cutajar, executive secretary of the climate change convention. "It will also clear the way for governments to ratify the protocol and bring it into force.

"Marrakech should be the turning point that enables the protocol to move into high gear," he added.

In recent weeks, a number of senior government and U.N. officials have expressed the hope that success at this meeting would pave the way for entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol by September 2002, when the World Summit of Sustainable Development is scheduled to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Although more than 80 countries have signed the protocol, most have been waiting for the negotiation of its operational details before deciding whether to ratify the treaty.

New ambassador plugs
commerce on Internet

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Internet has changed the way businesses operate, creating economies of scale and allowing companies to bring new products to market faster, according to John Danilovich, the new U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica,

He promoted electronic commerce Monday before a group asssembled to study the possibiliities at E-Business Centroamerica at the Hotel Meliá 
Confort Corobicí.

Latin American e-commerce is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2000 to $65 billion in 2004, the ambasssador said in remarks prepared for his welcoming talk.

The terrorist attacks Sept. 11 create an additional challenge for small and medium business enterprises, he said, but predicted that e-commerce will grow and become even more important because it offers an alternative way to do business.

"It offers flexibility, adaptability  and the possibility of a response," said the ambassador. He encouraged businesses to evaluate the possibilities of e-commerce  opportunities.

Sponsors of the event include the Chamber of Commerce of Costa Rica, the American/Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Commercial Service, KGPM, Caribbean Latin American Action and a host of others.

Danilovich’s talk was not without a pro-U.S. commercial message. He encouraged those at the workshop to learn about BuyUSA.com, an electronic matchmaking service provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce and IBM.

The project was unveiled earlier this month. The idea is to hook up international purchasers for U.S. products and U.S. markets for international producers, according to the Web site www.buyusa.com.

BuyUSA assists its members by providing access to Commerce Department trade specialists around the world who can assist with issues such as regulatory compliance, credit screening and marketing, according to the Commerce Department. U.S. businesses can subscribe to the marketplace for as little as $300 per year. International members pay nothing.

Three men stick up
fast-food chicken spot

Armed men held up the Rosti Pollo outlet in Desamparados Sunday night about midnight. Three gunmen came into the store, threatened the cashier and made off with an estimated 2 million colons (nearly $6,000), according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Dutch citizen dies
after his arrest

A Dutch citizen whose arrest prompted snickers all over Costa Rica ended up committing suicide in his jail cell in Alajuela, according to investigators.

The man was Hardwich Sjoamperkase Jangbanastoor, 30, they said.

He became the object of jokes when anti-drug agents at Juan Santamaría Airport arrested him and said that he had two kilos of cocaine hidden in his genitals. His activities were reported widely in Spanish newspapers.

Even as newspapers readers and broadcast commentators were discussing the case, the man was a case number in the national morgue.

Police said that he hung himself with four stockings in his jail cell. He was found about 9:20 p.m. Thursday, the same day he was arrested at the airport.

Police said they stopped him because he was walking in a strange way.

U.S. citizen’s death
remains a  mystery

Technicians need to await the results of toxicology tests before they can determine the cause of death of a 25-year-old U.S. citizen who was found dead in a cabina in Quepos late last week.

That was the word from the Judicial Investigating Organization in the case of James Orney. They said an autopsy failed to disclose why the man died.

Such chemical tests may take as much as two weeks, they said. The tests screen for poisons, drugs and other chemical reasons the man might have died.

Driver was not pirate

A reader has reported that Mauricio Ulate Jiménez, who was murdered by car thieves Oct. 21 in Desamparados, was not a pirate taxi driver, but a driver of the Decsa company, that offers transport service from Hipermás.

And the shooting took place in Barrio Calle Fallas, not Altamira, said the reader. The 30-year-old cab driver picked up three men, one of whom shot him fatally, according to investigators.

A.M. Costa Rica had reported the information supplied by the Judicial Investigating Organization, which could not amplify the report Monday.

Police still were asked for tips to be telephoned to 295-3372 or 295-3373. 


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