- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2001

Sexual tourism

Costa Rican Ambassador Jaime Daremblum hopes a new agreement with the United States will crack down on illegal sexual tourism in his country, which has increased as Americans and other foreigners travel to Central America in search of sex with minors.
Mr. Daremblum yesterday said the United States has agreed to help train Costa Rican police and to collaborate with Costa Rica in the "investigation, collection of evidence and extradition of sexual offenders living in its territory."
The United States also agreed to "help in the investigation of Internet sites that promote the commercial sexual exploitation of Costa Rican minors," he said.
Mr. Daremblum has raised concerns in Washington over the existence of Internet sites in the United States that promote trips to Costa Rica for the specific purpose of having sex with children.
The crime is punishable by up to 16 years in prison in Costa Rica. Traveling abroad to have sex with minors is also crime under U.S. law.
"I must point out that since the beginning, we encountered a very positive attitude and evident desire to cooperate from the government of the United States," Mr. Daremblum said.
"I am especially grateful to those officials at the departments of State and Justice who made it possible for our countries to work together."
Mr. Daremblum said the trend of this sexual tourism has become "very, very worrisome."
Pedophiles have been lured to Costa Rica for years with the promise of child sex.
Two years ago, a Central American civil rights groups, Casa Alianza, began notifying the FBI whenever it learned of Americans traveling to Costa Rica for sex with minors.
One of the most frustrating pedophile cases in the Washington area had a Costa Rican connection. James Kowalski, a convicted sex offender serving time in Virginia, was the chief suspect in the 1993 disappearance of George Burdynski Jr., whose body has never been found.
Kowalski, who knew the Burdynski family, had once offered to take the boy and some other minors to Costa Rica for a vacation.
After "Junior" Burdynski disappeared, an investigator traveled to Costa Rica but found no trace of the boy.

Reliable sources

Tips fly fast from "reliable sources" during the presidential transition, as diplomats in town try to find out the names of the new Bush foreign-policy team before they are announced.
The press is only too happy to help toss out names that have been "mentioned" by contacts close to the new administration and reverse itself when the speculation shifts.
On Monday, veteran diplomat Edward Djerejian was said to be the leading candidate for deputy secretary of state. Yesterday, however, he was out. Richard Armitage was the shoo-in.
Mr. Armitage is a former Pentagon official under the former President Bush. Mr. Djerejian, a former ambassador to Syria and Israel, is now said to be under consideration for another top position at State.
What will today bring?

Old habits die hard

Having spent his entire government career in the military, Colin Powell has caused some nervous whispers among foreign-policy professionals worried about whether the retired general will be able to transfer his loyalties from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom as secretary of state.
Mr. Powell made all the right noises yesterday at the kid-gloves confirmation hearing conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, although he praised America's soldiers and sailors in his prepared remarks before acknowledging the work of the country's diplomats.
"Mr. Powell made a pitch for more money for the State Department, for upgraded embassy facilities, and better support for Foreign Service officers abroad. But then the smooth-talking Mr. Powell made a slip that just might revive the old fears," our correspondent David R. Sands reports.
"Near the end of his prepared remarks, Mr. Powell told the senators he was 'proud to be the first African-American nominated to be secretary of defense or secretary of state, rather.' "
As laughter filled the committee room, a sheepish Mr. Powell quickly added, "Old habits die hard."

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