updated by 8:00 a.m. CST each day
Ring Operates in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and
citizen who manages a Costa Rica adoption agency
faces an INTERPOL detention order as a suspect in
the trafficking and kidnapping of babies as well as
the murder of one child in his care who died from
lack of medical attention in Colombia.
Rolf Salomón Levy Berger, also known as Rafael Leyva
or Rafael Levy, founded the International Adoption
Resources Foundation in Costa Rica to facilitate
international adoptions despite the fact that he was
not certified to do so. This same agency has offices
in Boca Raton, Florida, where Levy is the
Levy, who resides in Miami Beach, Florida, faces a
Colombian arrest warrant for illegal actions between
the year 2000 and 2002. In the INTERPOL report, he
also is accused of the theft of babies.
According to Colombian authorities, one of the
stolen babies, only described as 8-month-old
“Gregory”, died of “neglect and a lack of medical
attention” whilst in a home under the care of one of
The Costa Rican authorities have requested an
international arrest order against Levy through the
First District Penal Court in San Jose as a result
of an investigation into the trafficking of Central
“According to the investigations, Levy was the
person who formed the Costa Rican Foundation,
“Fundación IAR, Sí a la Vida” before the jailed
notary Carlos Hernán Robles on June 11th this year.
In the home of this same foundation in the urban
area known as La Uruca, nine Guatemalan babies were
found. With Levy’s precedents he should be
considered as a dangerous person and we ask the
international authorities to comply with his
immediate detention”, insisted Bruce Harris,
Regional Director for Latin American Programs of
Casa Alianza, an affiliate of the New York based
In Colombia, Levy was the legal representative of an
Israeli based agency called “El Niño y sus Padres”
(The Child and his Parents), dedicated to the
promotion of international adoptions.
According to Colombian police reports, Levy and at
least four other people – who also face criminal
charges – searched for pregnant women in different
areas of the country and offered them economic help
in return for their babies. They would register the
newborns and keep them in one of their properties
until their adoption. This is a similar manner in
which they appear to have functioned in Guatemala
with the eventual trafficking of the Guatemalan
babies to Costa Rica for international adoption in
the United States and Asia.
Casa Alianza, an organization dedicated to
protecting children’s human rights, has made an
urgent appeal to Central American authorities
regarding international criminal networks who are
stealing babies in the region with the purpose of
then sending them for lucrative international
“It was over 7 years ago when Casa Alianza uncovered
the illegal trafficking of babies from Honduras and
later in Guatemala. In the last few months the
illegal adoptions situation has been repeated in
Nicaragua and Costa Rica”, added Harris.
Since 1996, Casa Alianza has documented and
denounced illegal adoptions from Guatemala – the
country that sends more children in international
adoptions per capita than any other country in the
world, ninety percent of which go to the United
States. Guatemala does not even have an adoption law
and recently the Guatemalan Constitutional Court
made an attempt to reject the country’s adherence to
the Hague Convention on International Adoptions.
of Costa Rica has behaved better than expected this
year, but it depends on the developments in 2004 to
expect a calm 2005.
This according to Central Bank chairman Francisco
Gutierrez, the coordinator of the Economic Council
Ronulfo Jimenez, and Vice-President Lineth Saborio
(above, right), who coordinates the Social Council.
The figures upon which their assertions are based
include a 5.8 percent growth in the Gross Domestic
Product including the high-technology sector -4.2
percent if high-tech is not included-, a
$415-million decrease in the fiscal deficit, a 2
percent drop in poverty, and a 6.99 percent cumulate
Gutierrez pointed out that the efforts to improve
economy as a whole have been carried out without
further recession. In relation to next year, the
three officials agree that the performance will
greatly depend on the approval of a fiscal reform
and of a free trade agreement with the United
The two would result in sustained growth, more
exports, and more foreign investment, whose positive
results would not be evident until the year 2005,
Gutierrez, Jimenez, and Saborio pointed out..
U.S. For Trade
Pacts With Smaller Countries
Nov.30. (PTI): With major global or even regional
free trade agreements eluding its grasp, the US is
now pursuing numerous trade pacts with smaller
countries which would have limited economic impact
but which it hopes will ease the path to its
ultimate goal of a worldwide business zone.
The US is currently working towards free trade
agreements with 19 countries, though the impact of
bilateral agreements on businesses and jobs is
expected to be limited because the countries have
relatively small economies.
US trade representative Robert B Zoellick and Mark
Vaile, Australia's Trade Minister, met this week and
their negotiating teams will gather next week in
Washington to try to finalise a deal.
Negotiators from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Honduras and Nicaragua will be in Washington in the
second week of December, hoping to finalise terms
for a deal between the US and the five-nation trade
'The Washington Times' said many US business groups
are eager for the deals so that they can get easier
access to the markets but others are worried that
competition from Central America will cost profits
The two proposed pacts, said the paper, are also
indicative of the limited economic impact of
bilateral or small regional agreements.
FARC declares US
soldiers in Colombia "military target"
Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
declared on Saturday US soldiers deployed in the
country "military target."
"There are more than 1,000 US troops in Colombia
training and supporting the official forces in the
anti-insurgent war and against people," one of the
FARC leaders, Luis Devia, also known as "Raul
Reyes," said in a website statement.
"Military targets are both the invaders and their
war instruments," said Reyes, the ex-negotiator of
the FARC in the failed peace dialogue with the
The 17,000-strong FARC is the largest guerrilla
force of Colombia, followed by the National
Liberation Army (ELN), with 5,000 combatants.
Colombia is one of the countries to which the United
States provides military and economic assistance. In
the past three years, the US aid to Colombia has
surpassed two billion US dollars, merely less than
those provided to Israel and Egypt, with an extended
range covering ammunition, military consultancy,
satellite surveillance and telecommunications
With the conflicts between the Colombian guerrillas
and the government escalating since last year, the
United States has intensified its military aid
FARC warned previously that the US intervention in
the Colombian domestic conflicts would make the
peace process complicated and worsen the current
situations. The guerrilla group demanded that all US
military personnel withdraw from Colombia, a
prerequisite for a ceasefire.
The FARC and the US military personnel have not
fought each other yet.
In regard to the demobilization of the
paramilitaries of the United Self-Defense Forces of
Colombia (AUC) on Tuesday in Medellin, Reyes
described it as a "publicity show by President
The dismantling of one fraction of the AUC "is not
good news for Colombia, the FARC, or the
international community," he added.
Since taking office in 2002, Colombian President
Uribe has adopted a tough policy against the leftist
guerrilla groups and far-right paramilitaries in a
bid to put an early end to the country's four-decade
civil war, the longest in Latin America. An average
of 3,500 people, mostly civilians, are killed every
year in the conflict.
attains "important advances" on FTA plan
America made "important advances" Friday to achieve
a united position on the planned Central American
Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States.
The latest regional coordination meeting on CAFTA
closed in Honduras Friday with Costa Rica, Honduras,
Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador agreeing to
negotiate as a bloc with the United States for the
free trade agreement.
The ninth and final round of CAFTA negotiations will
be held Dec. 8-12 in Washington, Costa Rica's
Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday.
Observers of the negotiations believe the agreement
will be signed next March.
Attending the current negotiating session were
officials responsible for services, investment,
textiles, and environmental issues.
On services and investment, delegates discussed
financial services and trade in cross-border
On textiles, negotiations focused on regulations and
rules of origin.
On environment, Central America and the United
States attained "important advances" on topics to be
contained in the agreement, the ministry said
without outlining specifics.
The ministry pointed out that on market access, it
should be possible to utilize the Caribbean Basin
Initiative (CBI) to cover Costa Rican products.
"We have reached an agreement with the United States
which basically means that already all of our
exports sent to the United States can be dealt with
under the CBI," said the Costa Rican negotiator in
chief, Anabel Gonzalez.
She said "issues related to conditions covering the
export of US products to Costa Rica were accorded
with the exception of sensitive products on which we
will work intensively in the final round."