River conflict causes some to resort to violence

An expat martial arts instructor has been sucked into the Costa Rica-Nicaraguan conflict and unfairly labeled an undercover agent.

Welovecostarica.com did not explain why it republished the anti-Costa Rican, anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli allegations. It did say it did so with Madsen's permission.

The allegation was published in Costa Rica on a real estate Web site. The individual, James Powell, said that someone threw a rock at his car Saturday night.

“I heard loud thumps and went outside,” he said. “My dog was going crazy. It actually sounded like they came up and first kicked my car to set off the alarm. It’s very strange because most people here do not bother me, and coming to a krav maga school to pick a fight is not the smartest thing I have ever heard of.”

“The guy basically called me a drug dealer, a Mossad agent, Russian, and CIA, all in one shot,” he added. The Mossad is the Israeli secret service.

The allegations come from an anti-Israeli conspiracy Web site published in Washington, D.C., by a man identifed as Wayne Madsen. The article, which has been picked up by a number of Web sites, brands Costa Rica as a drug trafficking nation and pawn of Israel. The article is password protected on the Madsen site. Quotes here are from republished versions.

“Most of the drug smuggling from Costa Rica into Nicaragua and El Salvador is being conducted by Russian-Israeli mafiosi figures operating under diplomatic cover at the Israeli embassy in San José,” said the article. “Others officially operate in San Jose as ‘Russian Martial Arts’ trainers, however, they are actually Israeli Defense Force ‘krav maga’ trainers.”

Powell’s krav maga school operates in Sabana Oeste. The real estate Web site cutline under a photo makes much of its location near a synagogue. The place used to be a furniture store.

Krav maga really is a self-defense technique developed by Israelis, but Powell notes that most of his students are professional workers who simply want to defend themselves against criminals. He said he is “an expat here trying to make a living since my ex moved my 6-year-old son back to Costa Rica. Sorry people, no secret government connection.”

Powell has been very public about his school and has posted training sessions as Web videos. He also has taken out advertising.

What is not clear is how the photo of Powell’s school got on the welovecostarica.com Web site. A quick reading of the open version of Madsen’s Web site by even the most uncritical would show that he uses a mixture of facts, rumor and suppositions to create articles that lack serious verification. The site is heavy in conspiracy theories.

Welovecostarica.com did not explain why it republished the anti-Costa Rican, anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli allegations. It did say it did so with Madsen’s permission.

The article that Powell believed prompted the rock thrower is titled “U.S. Ratchets Up Contra War II Against Nicaragua.” It says:

“Borrowing its war plan against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua from Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, and Oliver North, the Obama administration has given a green light to two neighbors of Nicaragua — Costa Rica and Honduras — to ratchet up tensions on their borders with Nicaragua.”

Powell is not the only person to suffer an impact from the Nicaraguan invasion of Costa Rica. Someone threw a firebomb at the Nicaraguan Embassy Friday shortly after 10 p.m.. The device exploded on the sidewalk. The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública reinforced the police protection at the embassy.

Saturday afternoon there were five officers even though the building was locked.

José María Tijerino, the security minister, assumed that a Costa Rican threw the firebomb and issued a statement against xenophobic acts. The ministry also apologized to Harold Rivas, the Nicaraguan ambassador.

The Laura Chinchilla Miranda administration has been sensitive to Nicaraguans, legal and illegal, living here as the conflict over the Río San Juan invasion unfolds. The administration has reached out to Nicaraguans in part because there are vast numbers here.  Tijerino himself has a Nicaraguan father and spent much of his childhood in that country.

The administration has tried to make it clear that the conflict is with the current government in Nicaragua and not Nicaraguans in general.

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