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Saturday, April 19 2014 @ 07:57 AM EDT

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Have You Been Ripped Off By Rod Spiller and Udachu?

Crime & Punishment
Rod Spiller's Diamonds -
Rod Spiller's Diamonds - "Udachu" Falling Apart

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - It has come to my attention that apparently the "investment" organization headed by Rod Spiller and based in Panama is starting to come apart. Rod Spiller was the guy who was caught trying to smuggle 45 diamonds into Panama in a DHL pouch last year. Someone tipped off customs, who found the diamonds and confiscated them. Since then Panamanian authorities have laid a huge fine on Spiller and have seized the diamonds definitely (meaning, they will never be returned to Spiller.) (more)

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Graciela Dixon - Lobbying for a New Job

Law & Lawyers
Graciela Dixon, looking for a job
Graciela Dixon, looking for a job
By Rafael Pérez G. for La Prensa - The President of Panama's Supreme Court of Justice Graciela Dixon set out this weekend on a 15-day tour of the Netherlands in the northwest of Europe in search of support for her aspirations to hold a position on the International Criminal Court. Dixon, whose candidacy has been questioned by local human rights organizations, given her track record of throwing out cases of forced disappearances, asked for paid time off effective last Saturday 22 September 2007 and will last until next Friday 5 October 2007, according to sources in the Palace of Justice. On her trip to the Netherlands Dixon is accompanied by her assistant Digna Atencio Binolla and an escort. The vacationing judge expects to return to work on Monday 8 October. The International Criminal Court has its seat in Holland. Its mission is to judge those who have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as mass murders and forced disappearances, tortures and kidnappings. Before her departure Dixon scored a partial triumph by obtaining that the organization Citizen's Pro Justice Alliance decided not to issue an official statement rejecting her candidacy.
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The Rest of the Richard James Schuler Story

Crime & Punishment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - You might have heard about a gringo in Panama named Richard James Schuler, who was supposedly ripped off for large sums of money by bad Panamanian people. I looked into this situation and spoke to Richard Schuler on the phone at length. He told me that part of his plan was to establish a kind of offshore money laundering operation, with the specific goal of creating a way for multinational companies to pay huge bribes to Panamanian government officials in exchange for favorable consideration on Panama Canal expansion contracts. (more)

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Colombian Executed in Punta del Este

Crime & PunishmentBy Luis Batista for La Critica - A single gunshot wound that cut through his jugular vein and passed through his right lung ended the life of Carlos Humberto Córdova, 41 years-old. Córdova, of Colombian nationality, was executed as he was walking with his wife towards the front door of his home located on 4th Street in Punta del Este in the area of the 24 de Diciembre. An unknown subject, who was hiding near one of the corners of the house, shot Córdova at 8:30 pm on Friday evening and escaped in a gray Nissan that was being driven by an accomplice. Córdova's wife and another family member took him to the JJ Vallarino clinic but he died en route. Authorities are investigating the shooting.
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Fourteen Children Have Died Recently in Remote Areas

Healthcare
Fourteen children have died recently in remote areas.
Fourteen children have died recently in remote areas.
By Mitzila De León for El Siglo - COMARCA NGÄBE BUGLE - Cases of infant deaths are increasing in the area of Agua de Salud in the district of Ñurum which is part of the Ngäbe Bugle comarca. The number of deaths rose to fourteen this week. One died of severe vomiting and diarrhea, and another died of respiratory problems. Both of these cases occurred in the communities near Alto Batata and Mojarraz in the area of Agua de Salud. The infant was buried last Thursday. According to Pablo Ruiz, the Representative of the area, his grandson died just two months after being born due to respiratory problems. He added that the weather and constant rain influences disease in the area. (more)
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SMN Busts 241 Kilos of Cocaine Worth $6 Million (Street)

Crime & Punishment
241 Kilos of Cocaine worth $300,000 Busted Near Isla Grande
241 Kilos of Cocaine worth $300,000 Busted Near Isla Grande
By Ana Bolena Ayarza for La Estrella de Panama - Panama's National Maritime Service (SMN) seized 241 kilos of cocaine, valued at $300,000 dollars, near Naranjo Island in the area of the Costa Arriba in Colon. The drugs were wrapped in ten bundles and were being transported aboard a "go-fast" boat which ran aground in the area. Jorge Yanis, the Chief of the Cristobal Colon SMN Base said they detected the boat at 5:40 am and gave chase, which ended when the boat ran aground between Isla Grande and Portobelo. The people in the boat jumped overboard and escaped capture. (Photo Credit: Ana Bolena Ayarza)
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Martin Torrijos Throws Out the First Pitch to Mariano Rivera

Sports Section
Martin Torrijos and Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium
Martin Torrijos and Mariano Rivera in Yankee Stadium
By Santiago Cumbrera for the Panama America - The Presidency rented a satellite yesterday to make sure Panamanians could see their Chief Executive Martín Torrijos throw out the first ceremonial pitch yesterday in a game between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays, which finished in a with the Yankees winning 12 - 11 in extra innings. The President's debut was dissapointing. His pitch was wild. The Presidency did not report the cost of the satellite, but said they rented it from the company Antennas and Systems. The employees who manage the signal traveled with Torrijos to Yankee Stadium. The act was organized by Major League Baseball as part of Hispanic Heritage month celebrations in the United States. Torrijos will also participate in the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations.
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La Prensa Governmental Corruption Survey

Corruption
Panama Corruption Survey (click for full view)
Panama Corruption Survey (click for full view)
By Leonardo Flores for La Prensa - All three branches of the Panamanian government are perceived as being highly corrupt, according to a survey conducted by Dichter & Neira Latin Research Network for La Prensa. The poll was taken between 14 - 16 September 2007, fifteen days after the administration of Martin Torrijos celebrated their third year in office. The survey, which will be published tomorrow in the Pulse of the Nation supplement, shows that most of the 1,238 people interviewed rank governmental corruption as either a four or five. A 1 to 5 scale was used, in which zero means no corruption at all and a 5 means there is much corruption. The National Assembly ranked worst at 71% 4's and 5's, followed by the Supreme Court (65.4%) and the Executive branch (58.6%). In the past three years attention has been focused on the National Assembly over the privileges of the deputies; the Supreme Court for controversial decisions, and the Executive branch for failing to follow through on campaign promises, particularly in the area of public security.
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Clemens pushed to Monday by tight left hamstring

Sports Section BY ANTHONY RIEBER for newsday.com - Yankees fans who didn't get the late editions of their newspapers yesterday may have been surprised when they saw Phil Hughes on the mound against the Blue Jays instead of Roger Clemens. Clemens was scratched because of a tight left hamstring. Manager Joe Torre announced it at about 12:30 a.m. yesterday after Friday night's 14-inning loss. Clemens said he felt "a little stinger in the back of my left leg" when he was working out Thursday in preparation for a start that had been moved up a day because of the strained back muscle of rookie Ian Kennedy. Now Clemens is penciled in to start tomorrow. But if he feels anything at all, he'll be scratched again and the Yankees will go with Andy Pettitte. No reason to risk a longer absence with the team on the cusp of the postseason. (more)
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Panama booms as retirement hot spot for Americans

Panama NewsStory by Doreen Hemlock Photos by Carey Wagner for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel - PANAMA CITY, Panama - Retirees Jovita and Don Franco thought the home they bought nearly a decade ago in Palm Beach County would be their last. But after visiting this bustling Central American capital, the globe-trotting couple decided to move overseas. The Francos, both in their 70s, this summer sold their Lake Worth home at a profit and settled in an upscale gated community in an area Jovita calls the "Palm Beach of Panama." They enjoy the tropical weather, cosmopolitan flair and low costs, including household help. And they're glad to be outside the hurricane belt and away from South Florida's rising property insurance and taxes. (more)
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Panama's retiree benefits

Money MattersRETIREE BENEFITS - Panama offers the world's most generous retiree benefits program, according to the newsletter International Living. Benefits for pensioners who can prove they receive government or corporate pensions of $500 a month for an individual or $600 a month for a couple include:
  • 50 percent off entertainment such as movies and sporting events
  • 30 percent off bus, boat and train fares
  • 25 percent off airline tickets
  • 50 percent off hotel stays Monday through Thursday
  • 30 percent off hotel stays Friday through Sunday
  • 25 percent off at restaurants
  • 10 percent off prescription medicines
  • 20 percent off medical consultations
  • 15 percent off dental and eye exams
  • 20 percent off professional and technical services
  • 50 percent off closing costs for home loans
  • A one-time exemption on importing household goods of up to $10,000 and an exemption every two years from duties for importing a car.
  • Source: International Living newsletter
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Uninsured Americans traveling to Panama for health care

HealthcareBy Doreen Hemlock for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel - PANAMA CITY, Panama Americans are traveling abroad for medical care like never before and now looking to Panama as a destination to cure their insurance woes, high prices and delays for treatment back home. This Central American nation touts U.S.-trained doctors, high-tech hospitals and costs far below U.S. rates to attract Americans for services from dental implants to hip replacements. It also promotes its location near U.S. shores. "In the beginning of medical tourism, Americans went to distant places like Thailand and India. It seems logical the next step would be Latin America — closer to the United States and more similar in culture," said Panamanian dentist Richard Ford, who studied at Louisiana State University and leads a medical tourism group, Pana-Health. (more)
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Subscribe to Panama-Guide.com

What is PG?

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I get email all the time from people saying things like "I used to be on your email distribution list to get your articles but now I've changed email addresses. Please send your articles to... " If you want to receive a single email every day containing links to the articles posted on Panama-Guide.com, simply send one email to this address:

  • panama_guide-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Single Purpose Group: The only reason for that Yahoo group is to give me an easy way to broadcast articles to people who don't want to mess with all of the chatter on the other Yahoo groups, and who like to have one email delivered to their inbox every day. This is not a discussion group, and it's only used to broadcast articles. So, if you want them, just sign up and they will come straight to your inbox. Simple. Please forward this article to anyone you know who you think might want to receive Panama-Guide articles daily. Thanks.

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The National Assembly Wants Their Slush-Fund Back

Corruption
"Partidas Circuitales" are basically officially authorized slush-funds used by politicians to buy votes
By Gustavo A. Aparicio O. y Ereida Prieto-Barreiro for the Panama America - Although opposition lawmakers have not expressed their disapproval to the possible reestablishment of the circuit funds, leaders from the main opposition parties expressed their rejection to plan out of fears that State funds will be used for political purposes. Guillermo Ford, President of the Patriotic Union Party, said his political experience indicates that these "circuit funds" often are not spent correctly, which is why he considers that to give funds to the Assembly is not advisable at the moment. The President of the Panameñista Party Juan Carlos Varela said that the Assembly should be more concerned with the approval of good laws which is its function. (more)
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Panama Lifts Import Restrictions on Live Cattle From the US

Animals & Pets
Cows Are People Too...
Cows Are People Too...
By Rafael E. Berrocal R. for La Prensa - The Panamanian cattle immediately rejected Panama's decision to lift restrictions on imports of live cattle from the United States. Imports had been blocked since a December 2003 decree, a reaction to the confirmation of the presence of Mad Cow disease in US territory. Euclides Diaz, Executive Director of the National Association of Cattle Dealers (ANAGAN), said the decision puts the European Union classification at risk, a market with great export potential. "How they are going to see us in Europe. In 2005 they lowered Panama's rating to risk level three after the importation of dog food containing beef flour from the United States," he said. ANAGAN says the decision to reopen the borders to these imports of of live cattle will only benefit the the interests of the Association of Brahman Cattle Producers of the United States. The Agriculture Department of the United States said yesterday that "Panama's decision demonstrates confidence in the capacity of the American government to protect animal health and food safety."
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Georgian Designer Maka Natsvlishvili To Participate Panama Fashion Festival

Panama NewsTbilisi. September 22 (Prime-News) – Under the patronage of the President’s Fund and with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Monument Protection and Sports of Georgia, Maka Natsvkishvili, the Georgian designer, will participate in the fashion festival organized in Panama. Maka Natsvlishvili told Prime-News that the fashion festival would be held in Panama on October 03-05 and about eight foreign designers would take part in the festival. According to the Georgian designer, it is for the first time that the Georgian designer participates in the fashion festival of the world level for the first time.
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Panama investigates hidden drug lord

Crime & Punishment
Jose Urrego
Jose Urrego
Malaysia Sun - Panama is looking into allegations that a known Colombian drug trafficker managed to obtain Panamanian residence, ID cards, bank accounts and even a US$12 million private island. Jose Urrego, who was arrested in Colombia in the 1990’s for drug smuggling, supposedly moved to Panama where he carried on his activities for three years before he was arrested last week. Urrego, 53, was working for Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel when he was originally detained. According to police, Urrego managed to arrange a Panamanian identity card in 2004 and went on to establish businesses. He accumulated enough money to buy Chapera island, valued at US$12 million and deposited large sums of laundered money in a Panamanian bank account, apparently unnoticed by authorities.
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Panama City's Old Quarter Celebrates Tenth Anniversary as World Heritage Site

History & Reference
Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo
Panama City, Panama (PRWEB) September 22, 2007 -- Ten years ago this month Panama City's three hundred year old historic district, Casco Antiguo, was named a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). At the time, few imagined the impending boom that would so radically change the surrounding city skyline. Today, with tower cranes crowding the nearby shores, residents of the historic district shudder to think what might have happened had their beloved 100 acre peninsula not been protected. "In 1994 a developer tried to build a high rise on the best site in the neighborhood," says long time resident and architect, Sebastian Paniza. "Imagine what would have happened by now." (more)
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Panama Presents New Orthopedics Surgery

Healthcare
New Hip Surgery Technique
New Hip Surgery Technique
Viñales, Cuba, Sep 21 (Prensa Latina) Experts from Panama presented the benefits of a minimally invasive procedure for trochanteric hip fracture to the ongoing International Congress of Orthopedics in Viñales, Cuba on Friday. Carlos Pareja, head of Orthopedics and Trauma at Panama's Rafael Hernandez Hospital, said the system allows for the patient's immediate mobility and recovery with minimum pain, rather than the customary period of traction. It consists of fixing a small plate through a two-centimeter incision to the proximal end of the femur that has two bone masses of strong muscles linked to locomotion. (more)
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AES Panama stable outlook, looks to hydro expansion - Fitch

Infrastructure Upgrades
AES Panama Hydroelectric Power Generation Facility
AES Panama Hydroelectric Power Generation Facility
Water Power Magazine.com - AES Panama, a subsidiary of AES Corp, has a stable risk outlook according to ratings agency Fitch, which also sees prospects improving through the planned 50MW Changuinola hydro project. Fitch affirmed the firm's foreign and local currency ratings for US$300M in unsecured notes due in nine years, and said the rating outlook is stable. The stable outlook arises from AES Panama's varied, low-cost asset base of four hydro plants, which have competitive dispatch positions and the company's power purchase agreements. The plants are of varied type (reservoir and run-of-river) and are sited in different hydrological environments. (more)
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Panama CEW - A Cesspool for Losers (Avoid At All Costs)

Groups & Organizations Leslie Aldridge wrote - "Panama Current Events World - a Yahoo group so rough and rowdy, complaints landed it in the Adult ratings with Yahoo. You will definitely find commentary there that you won't find anywhere else." Two members have been banned for using posts to file criminal complaints.

Banned from CEW: Clyde Jenkins and I have been banned from CEW for reporting death threats made by Okke Ornstein to the PTJ. Ornstein threatened to kill fellow expat Clyde Jenkins, saying he would "cut off your head, break your legs, break your arms" and do anything else he could think of to Clyde Jenkins if he refused to withdraw a criminal complaint for slander. (more)

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Foreign Couple's Car Fire-Bombed in Boquete

Crime & Punishment
Fire Bombed in Boquete
Fire Bombed in Boquete

Note The Date: This article first appeared in the Panama America on 16 September 2007.

By Jaime Saldaña for the Panama America - The vehicle fire in the district of Boquete has been classified as a terrorist act. A foreign couple said someone threw a homemade firebomb into their garage. The couple, American Jeffrey Daugherty and Brit Patricia Joy Daugherty, filed a formal complaint with the PTJ after someone set their vehicle on fire. "Fortunately the fuel tank was not on the side where the firebomb hit, because that would have caused a much greater explosion," they said. (more) (Photo Credit: Jaime Saldaña / EPASA ]

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Fighting in Colombia displaces more indigenous people, UN reports

Panama News
Colombian Refugee Children
Colombian Refugee Children
UN.org - 21 September 2007 – More than 1,000 indigenous Colombians have taken refuge in a school to escape fighting between the army and an irregular armed group, the latest victims of more than 40 years of conflict which has uprooted 3 million people and has recently had a disproportionate effect on the country’s original inhabitants, the United Nations reported today. “Armed combat, presence of irregular groups, targeted killings and landmines all contribute to the rising trend of forced displacement,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond said of the latest incident involving 1,018 Awá in southern Colombia, almost half of them children under 16. (more)
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Peru Trade Bill Moves Forward In Senate

Money Matters
Senator Max Baucus
Senator Max Baucus
(AP) The Senate Finance Committee gave its approval Friday to a free trade agreement with Peru, the first such pact since Democrats won a commitment from the administration to make labor rights and the environment key parts of all bilateral trade deals. The 18-3 vote for draft legislation to implement the agreement is a necessary step to full Senate consideration, which could take place in mid to late October. Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., cited the new requirements on labor and environmental standards worked out with the administration last May as a reason for the strong vote. "American workers and businesses deserve to know they're on a level playing field with our trading partners, and the stronger labor and environmental provisions now in the Peru Free Trade Agreement strike a better balance." (more)
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The Marion is Declared a Landmark

History & Reference
A Steam Shovel in the Panama Canal Excavation
A Steam Shovel in the Panama Canal Excavation
By Lynne Belluscio - We have just received notification that New York State has accepted our nomination for the Marion Steam Shovel on Gulf Road to become a State Historic Landmark and it will be nominated for national designation. It represents the industrial technology that was developed at the end of the 19th Century. When I wrote the nomination I included a history of the development of the steam shovel, the history of the General Crushed Stone Company and the story of the limestone quarries in Le Roy. It is very unusual that the review panel accepts nominations for equipment like Le Roy's Marion Shovel. But I am now faced with a greater challenge. The panel would like additional information that would prove that the shovel was indeed a shovel from the Panama Canal. That's going to be tough. (more)
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Panamanian treasures on display

History & Reference
River of Gold Medallion
River of Gold Medallion
By JOANN LOVIGLIO for the Associated Press - PHILADELPHIA - Visitors to a new exhibit of dazzling gold artifacts and other ancient treasures have a fickle river in central Panama to thank for it. When the Rio Grande de Cocle changed course in the early 1900s, a tantalizing cache of golden beads and pottery pieces washed upon its banks. Mysterious accounts of a river flowing with gold enticed a University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology excavation team to the site in 1940. There, they uncovered the cemetery of a thriving pre-Columbian settlement previously unknown to historians and dating from approximately 700 A.D. to 900 A.D. About 150 of the most important artifacts they excavated are on display at the museum's "River of Gold" exhibit opening Sunday. (more)
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The US Congress Should Ponder the Benefits - Héctor Alemán

Politics
Héctor Alemán
Héctor Alemán
By Carlos Estrada Aguilar for La Critica - The President of the Foreign Relations Commission of the National Assembly Héctor Alemán said the congress of the United States should consider the bilateral Free Trade Agreement, just as the Panamanian National Assembly did in extraordinary sessions. "Our Parliament has been able to identify the conveniences of a Free Trade Agreement with the United States and therefore we hope our counterparts make the same objective examination," he said.
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"El Toro" is Toast in the PRD

Politics
Dead Bull, Dragged From The Ring
Dead Bull, Dragged From The Ring

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Political insiders from the Partido Revolucionario Democratico (PRD) (Revolutionary Democratic Party) tell me Ernesto "El Toro" Perez Balladares decided not to attend the general assembly meeting of the PRD last week because he knew that he would not be the center of attention. His supporters who did attend the meeting intended to propose a resolution that would have helped "El Toro's" chances in the party primary elections that will be held next March. People loyal to Martin Torrijos knew it was coming, and they presented their own proposal first, effectively undercutting the other side. (more)

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Martin Torrijos Leaving for New York

Panama News
Panama's President Martin Torrijos - Road Trip!
Panama's President Martin Torrijos - Road Trip!
By Abdiel Zarate for La Estrella - Panama's President Martin Torrijos will spend six days on a working visit to New York in the United States. This afternoon he will depart for New York. Tomorrow morning he will meet with the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. Tomorrow afternoon he will attend celebrations to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, and later will throw out the first pitch at a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue jays. On Monday he will attend the inauguration of the plenary session on climatic change in United Nations, and will have meeting with members of Major League Baseball. On Tuesday the 25th he will attend the 62nd Assembly General at the United Nations and at 3:00 pm he will speak before the UN. (more)
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Ex-PDF General Foils Armed Home Invasion and Robbery Attempt

Crime & Punishment
Retired General Rubén Darío Paredes
Retired General Rubén Darío Paredes
By Santiago Cumbrera for the Panama America - An increase in the numbers of home invasion robberies, often violent, have caused alarm in the area of Las Cumbres. The luxurious residences of this community have become the target of delinquents, who start off by poisoning the dogs of the residence. The most recent victim was Retired General Rubén Darío Paredes, who faced the delinquents who entered his house at dawn yesterday with a personal firearm. The robbers intended to tie up and gag their victims according to investigators, in order to control their victims while they ransacked the house. At the scene police found a large roll of duct tape and a large pair of pliers the thieves had used to gain entry to the house, indicating according to the general that they intended to "tie up and torture" him and his family in order to rob them. Paredes faced the delinquents with a revolver that he has had since he was a military commander, and in the exchange of gunfire his wife was wounded. This robbery attempt is similar to the crime committed against the ex-director of SINAPROC Arturo Alvarado early in this year in the same community.
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