Costa Rica Coffee Guide

U.S. Priest Appeals Immigration’s Order

April 15, 2005

IMMIGRATION authorities orderedU.S. priest Alfredo Prado to leave thecountry last week, charging that he illegallyworked in the country while holding athree-month tourist visa.Prado and his lawyer, GerardoMachado, filed a legal complaint with theConstitutional Chamber of the SupremeCourt (Sala IV), which accepted the case forreview April 8 and suspended Immigration’sorder until the case is resolved.Prado arrived in Costa Rica in January2003, hounded by accusations of sexualabuse against minors that allegedlyoccurred decades ago.Ricardo Salinas, 51, filed a $20 millionlawsuit against Prado and the OblateFathers, Prado’s former priestly order inSan Antonio, Texas, saying Prado sexuallymolested him in 1967, the HoustonChronicle reported in February 2004.Salinas never reported the allegationsat the time. The Oblates later ejectedPrado, 74, from the order, stripping him ofhis priestly authority for undisclosed reasons,and ordered him to a Catholic psychiatrictreatment facility.The Tico Times was unable to find outthe status of Salinas’ lawsuit by press time.IN Costa Rica, Prado joined an allegedcult in Grecia, a Central Valley coffee villagewest of San José, led by Juan PabloDelgado, 25. He and his group of followershave been under the close scrutiny ofnational and international media.Delgado’s group calls itself theAssociation of the Woman Dressed withthe Sun, or the Virgin Queen and Lady ofAll Creation. The leader claims to hearmessages from the Virgin Mary and passesthem on to his followers.Father Sixto Varela, Vicar of EpiscopalCommunication of the Diocese ofAlajuela, told the daily Al Día the orders ofthe bishop of Alajuela, José RafaelBarquero, against Prado and Delgadoremain in effect.Prado “is prohibited from participatingin any parish in Alajuela, including Grecia.If he does so, it is illicitly,” Varela said.Barquero prohibited Catholic serviceson the cult’s grounds in a statementreleased in September 2003, askingCatholics to keep their distance from thecontroversial compound.Immigration officials took action afterPrado was seen leading religious processionsin the weeks leading to the revocationof his visa.ACCORDING to workers in the Greciacompound, Prado leads religious ceremoniesand carries out other actions thatconstitute labor and break the terms of histourist visa, Immigration said in a statement.He reportedly leaves the country every threemonths to renew his tourist visa.“The priest has not asked Immigrationfor permission to work or reside in thecountry, so he does not enjoy any migratorystatus,” Immigration Director MarcoBadilla said.Prado’s lawyer, Machado, appealed thedecision two days after it was issued andplans to take the case before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.“We are arguing that the father is notcarrying out Catholic, ecclesiasticalworks. He is in a private area, and thatplace where he lives has not been consecratedby the church, meaning it cannotbe called a Catholic temple,” Machadotold The Tico Times.“You can’t deny any tourist in any countrythe right to pray. If it’s true whatImmigration says, then they would have hadto kick the Pope out when he came, too.”The late Pope John Paul II, when he visitedCosta Rica in 1983, carried a diplomaticvisa as a representative of the Vatican,politically considered a sovereign state,Immigration officials told The Tico Times.

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