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These stories were published Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 20
Jo Stuart
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Marina in Flamingo gets reprieve from closing
By Garett Sloane
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Marina Flamingo has a reprieve from an order to close issued by a government environmental board. The board told marina operators to close by Wednesday, but additional proceedings have delayed that action.

Steven Ferris, lawyer for the marina, said he is working to postpone the closing until an administrative court can weigh evidence and evaluate the board’s action. He said the case can take a year and expects the court to rule 
next week on whether or not the marina can continue to stay open.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Object of affection
The new cells phones are available, but the paperwork in getting one or more is daunting, our staffers find.

See our report HERE!

Meanwhile, the environmental tribunal postponed its own order so it could respond to a filing of Ferris’ legal team. When the tribunal responds, it may renew its order to close and issue a new eight-day warning, said Ferris.

What the tribunal does may be moot because the court may already make a decision by that time. At issue is whether some 70 privately owned boats can continue to stay at the Pacific coast marina. The environmental tribunal says the marina is hurting the quality of the water.

The Marina Flamingo is an economic necessity in the municipality of Santa Cruz, according to Verny Cordero Conseca, lawyer of more than 20 years with the municipality. 

The marina is responsible for the employment of nearly 300 people and is an important tourism draw, he said. 

The marina will continue to fuel and dock boats there, at least through the end of next week. Tourists, boaters and fishermen can use the facilities. 

The order to suspend operations at the marina came Jan. 17 from the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo, an arm of the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energia, the Costa Rican environmental protection unit.

The environmental tribunal filed a report in 1999 demanding the closing based on findings of contamination. Representatives of the marina have presented evidence to the contrary in the complex court case against the government.

Boy with bad hand gets unexpected delay
By Bryan Kay
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 7-year-old boy with a congenital birth defect of the hand will have to wait longer for help.

The boy was to have an operation at Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. But after a year of viewing medical reports and x-rays, doctors there decided not to perform the operation, said Robert McInnes, the man who has made it is his goal to help the boy.

The defect involves the boy’s left hand, which has no fingers. This is a condition Carlos G. Verela, 7, had at birth. The operation required to moderate the defect involves the removal of several of Carlos' toes, and then placing them onto his hand.

Shriners Hospital gave no reason for the abrupt decision it made to discontinue its willingness to aid the boy’s situation.

"We were all set to go," McInnes said. Plans 

were already in place for Carlos’ accommodation in the United States, added McInnes.

McInnes revealed that Carlos has no idea that the Shriners Hospital pulled out of performing the operation. "We haven’t given up," he said.

There are now opportunities in New York, according to McInnes. He said he is in contact with several hospitals and individuals there to try to secure an alternative for Carlos' operation. McInnes is a former New York police officer.

However, nothing has yet been secured, said McInnes.

In the meantime, one company continues to lend its support. Health Visions, an insurance company with a location in Heredia, has said that it is willing to help as much as it can, said McInnes.

Carlos lives in Cuidad Neily, near to the Panamanian frontier.

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Those cellulars generate mountains of paperwork
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad is also the telephone company, and the recent release of thousands of new cellular lines has been much heralded in the press.

For many, the wait has been long.  A.M. Costa Rica joined the waiting list Dec. 4, 2001, and got the number 471,233.

That meant the telephone company was ready to hook up 471,232 accounts before ours.

One has to question their sincerity. Just getting a cellular line and telephone is another exercise in paperwork. A retail outlet reported that its manager had to pay the phone company 10 million colons as a deposit just to be allowed to process the paperwork. The firm had to pay an additional 5 million colons ($13,250) just to reserve 200 cellular telephone lines.

Sounds like the telephone company is really seeking help to distribute the newly acquired cell lines to the public.

The early wave of individuals who opted for the GSM service found that it was not available in many parts of the country. The phone company said it  was working on the problem.

The new GSM service is supposed to provide much more than telephone calls to cellular telephones. Eventually Internet service and e-mail will be available. That is when the phone company decides to offer these services.

You can get the time on a new GSM cell telephone, too. But don’t punch in 112 as you would on a tabletop telephone. It turns out that officials in the telephone company forgot that 112 is an emergency number in much of the world. They never bothered to point this out to telephone manufacturers. So if you dial 112 with a cellular, you are connected to the 911 emergency line. The emergency system has received an excessive number of calls because the telephone company was not planning ahead.

So now the telephone company reminds cellular users to dial *112 when seeking the time.

The cellular telephone is really sort of a radio, and the frequency here is not the same as the United States. So visitors from there and Canada cannot use their own telephones. That, perhaps, would have taken too much planning.

The telephone company staff dealing with cellular telephones appears to be inadequately trained . . . 

And don’t you dare try to bring your telephone from the United States or Canada when you move here. Some cellular telephones on sale in North America have three separate frequency bands and can be adjusted for use in Costa Rica.

But the Ministerio de Hacienda, the tax-collecting agency, insists that every purchaser of a cellular line display the sales receipt showing that they paid taxes on the telephone. This is something most tourists and visitors do not carry around in their pocket. Nor is it something a Costa Rican would get if their telephone was a gift.

That’s another piece of paper to bring to the telephone company if you are not purchasing a new telephone.

Such telephones are for sale at many points in the city. A number of outlets have been certified by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad to sell the telephone device but also to negotiate the connection to the active line.

But the paperwork and the telephone company’s reaction to it is daunting. Employees at A.M. Costa Rica tried to purchase three telephones and lines for much of one week. Paying the 228,000 colons ($600) was the easy part. The telephone company staff dealing with cellular telephones appears to be inadequately trained and has been providing the retail merchant with incorrect and contradictory information.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
This is what it's all about

For starters, the telephone company requires duplicate copies of all paperwork for each telephone line. Never mind that the purchaser is the same company. Among these are copies of the corporate cédula and identification of the corporate officers.

Then there is the required precontract. One for each telephone line.

Also required for corporate purchasers is something called the personaría juridica. This is a paper from a private notary-lawyer saying that the company really does exist and the corporate officers are who they say they are. The document costs from 5,500 to 9,000 colons. ($14.50 to $23.60).

Most companies keep a current copy of this document in the corporate files for use to open bank accounts, make contracts and rent real estate. Identical information is available on line from the Registro Nacional. Almost always a copy is sufficient. 

For starters, the telephone company requires duplicate copiers of all paperwork for each telephone line. 

But the telephone company wants an original copy. For a time, employees demanded three originals, one for each telephone line that would be purchased by the corporation. That would require an additional expenditure to a lawyer of about $30 to provide papers that telephone company employees would simply fold up and put in a file.

Eventually, workers at Advantis Corp. in downtown San José managed to find a telephone company executive who approved the three-line deal with just one original and two copies of the personaría juridica. But the executive rejected a document that was five weeks old. He insisted on a "current" document.

Eventually, the telephone company got its three little stacks of paper and 25,000 colons for each telephone line ($66) as a security deposit. The telephones  (52,000 colons each, some $137) operate fine in the San José area. The next exciting episode will be when the first monthly bill arrives.

In the meantime, when the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad drops by to purchase an advertisement or distribute a press release, we sort of would like:

• An original copy of the institute’s personaría juridica. Who knows who might be out there impersonating the telephone company these days?

• Of course, a copy of the enabling legislative that created the institute in the first place, along with certification that the document is a true and faithful copy of the one on file in the Archivo Nacional.

• Certainly a copy of the cédula of Pablo Cobb, executive director of the institute. Both sides, please.

• A copy of the institute’s cédula. Both sides please.

• Oh, and we will need a letter of authorization from Cobb designating the person who actually delivers the press release or material for the ad. Oh, and a copy of that person’s cédula, please.

• And if they want five ads or want to distribute five press releases, we would like a full set of copies for each ad or each press release.

But, to be reasonable, we will accept copies.

Pacheco raps ICE on fat budget; company responds
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco went on the offensive Tuesday night just hours before employees from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad planned to march through the streets.

Pacheco has asked independent institutions to cut their budgets in keeping with his austerity plan. Union members at the electric and telecommunications monopoly say this will result in firing 4,000 employees there.

Pacheco rejected this Tuesday night in a television address and characterized the company as spending excessively. He also said he was incapable of firing any Costa Rican employee.

Pacheco asked how it was possible that the institution has scheduled 726 million colons for foreign travel this year. That’s $1.9 million.

About 170 million colons is specifically designated for the upper management of the firm, he said. That’s $447,000.

Pacheco said that he was getting his numbers from official documents from the institution. For advertising, the company has designated 975 million colons, Pacheco said. That’s $2.57 million. Pacheco asked why the company needs so much publicity to offer services that Costa Ricans buy without so much advertising.

The institute responded with a press release issued from their headquarters at 2 a.m. today  The board of directors ordered the company’s management to make revisions in the 2003 budget consistent with the complaints voiced by the president in his television address, the release said. The board also said it would seek to obtain an audience with the president to discuss the issue.

In addition to electricity and giant hydrogenerating projects. the institute also is the 

telecommunications monopoly and the parent 
company of Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the Internet monopoly.

Pacheco in his television talk also asked about budgets for external consultants and food. The institution has 26 million colons budgeted just to feed the six directors at their weekly meetings, Pacheco said. This was one area the institution board said it would revise.

In addition, he claimed that the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad would spend  9 billion colons this year from petty cash. Such funds lack normal oversight. The amount is nearly $24 million, and Pacheco said it is more than the budget for some ministries.

The president said that Costa Rica needs a strong Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. But as to the budget, he said institution employees should know the numbers so that they are not tricked. And, he said, there were other worthwhile governmental institutions that needed money, too.

The implication of the talk was that the institution has enough money to absorb any reduction demands the central government will make.

Employees of the company are marching today from the Sabana North headquarters to Casa Presidencial in Zapote also to express concern over negotiations for a free trade treaty with the United States. Employees fear the government will sell them out to permit foreign telecommunications firms to gain a foothold in Costa Rica.

Pacheco promised Tuesday night that the Institution was not on the negotiating table.

The biggest and most violent protests in recent Costa Rican history took place during the term of Pacheco’s predecessor, Miguel Angel Rodríguez when the administration tried to privatize parts of the Institute’s domain.

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Two tourists in kayaks
turn up wet and safe

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two U.S. tourists can thank their lifejackets for saving their lives after they were dumped into the sea from kayaks.

The Ministerio de Seguidad Pública identified them as Jeremy Hasembell, 20, and Christian Crezzias, 30. Both were reported to be guests at Hotel Tambor on the Nicoya Peninsula.

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas sounded the alarm Monday when a kayak was found floating without occupants between Tambor and Tortuga. 

Searches by the coast guard and the Cruz Roja failed to turn up any clues, and officials feared the worse. Patrol boats from Puntarenas conductd searches along the east coast of the peninsula.

Hasembell turned up hanging from a second overturned kayak Monday night, and Crezzias came ashore Tuesday morning on Playa Ventana in front of the Hotel Estrella de Playa.

Officials credited their survival to the lifejackets they wore.

No information was available about the hometowns of the tourists.

Chilly, windy weather
might be moderating

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The time is not yet here for fur coats and ice skating, but the Central Valley weather has been a bit nippy and windy.

Overnight temperatures have been in the mid-50s (around 18 degrees Celsius), and steady winds have been blowing from the north at speeds of from 20 to 30 kms., some 12 to 18 mph.

Costa Rican construction traditions do not allow for such weather, and most homes are open in places to the outside. Even in the better homes, weather stripping and similar devices are absent.

There has not yet been snow on the Cerro de la Muerte as there was last year, but some light rain during the last week in the Central Valley sure could have created such conditions if it were a bit further south.

On the coasts, temperatures are ranging into the 80s during the day with overnight temperatures in the low 60s, some 32 to 21 degrees Celsius.

The Instituto Metorológico Nacional says that some slight changes are coming with a reduction in the light rain that sometimes became heavy in higher elevations.

Winds, too, are expected to diminish. Since Friday dark black clouds have been threatening the metropolitan district, but the clouds became whiter, fluffier and higher Tuesday, signaling a likely change today.

Tom and Norman Home
is goal of new trip

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tom and Norman Home residents are reaching out for company to join them at their house.

The elderly residents of the home formerly lived abandoned or estranged from families and destitute without shelter. The residents came to the home penniless.

With the help of Fundación Angel de Amor, the home has collected charitable donations, many from North Americans, which pay for constant renovations to make the home more liveable. Also, the community of Guápiles contributes not only manpower and resources for the tidiness of the home, but the citizens accept the residents as grandparents of the town.

During the last excursion to the home in Guápiles a busload of Ticos from San José joined the festivities organized by the people of Guápiles and the "Angel of Love" foundation. Absent was a strong showing of North Americans, who missed out on the party. 

The last gathering with the residents was celebrated with uncostly food served from the home and music accompanied by dance. There was also a beauty pageant honoring the matriarchs of Guápiles. 

Alexis Barquero, director at the home, has been described by members of the Angel of Love foundation as the true angel of the home. Barquero has been sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the home. 

Donlon Havener, an organizer for the home’s charitable events, sent out a letter this month thanking those who attended a Christmas concert. More than $1,000 was raised that night for the home. 

The energetic Havener is busy coordinating events and invites everyone to enjoy the home March 15. Full details are not yet released.

Panama and Colombia
discuss border trouble

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PANAMA CITY, Panama — Heavily armed national police squads are patrolling parts of the Darien region, which borders Colombia, after incidents last week that left at least four indigenous leaders dead. There is growing concern that the conflict in neighboring Colombia may be spreading deeper into the country’s territory.

On Tuesday, several Cabinet officials will be meeting with counterparts in Colombia to exchange information and consult on how best to control the border area. Leftist guerrillas, as well as right-wing paramilitary groups from Colombia concern the government here about incursions.

For many years, the Colombian guerrillas have sought supplies and safe haven in small indigenous villages on this side of the border, in the densely forested Darien area. Anti-guerrilla paramilitaries appear to be entering the same area now in search of the rebels, and to punish those they believe are helping them.

Meantime, the Colombian government complains about clandestine arms shipments over the border and along the coastline. 

On Sunday, the Colombian armed forces reported the seizure of 81 AK-47 rifles, a large quantity of ammunition and communication equipment in the region near the border. The Colombian authorities described the illicit shipment as having come by boat to the Pacific coast from here.

The head of the National Police, Carlos Bares, says the Colombians are rushing to judgment.

"If there is evidence that the arms did in fact come from Panama, then the police will investigate, but Colombia has not yet provided any such information to Panama," he said. "However, the Pacific Ocean is very large, and there is no reason to jump to the conclusion that this shipment came from Panama."

Such issues are bound to be high on the agenda when Panamanian and Colombian officials meet in Bogotá. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has called on neighboring nations like Panama to help him win the fight against insurgent groups and narcotics traffickers by keeping a closer watch on the borders. 

But Panama abolished its armed forces after the fall of dictator Manuel Noriega in December 1989, and now relies on a national police force that may not be a match for the battle-hardened Colombian guerrillas and para-militaries.

The incursion of what witnesses describe as Colombian paramilitary units over a week ago, and the subsequent murder of four men resulted in the total abandonment of four indigenous villages near the border. 

Observers here say this is the first time in Panamanian history something like this has happened in that zone. There are now more than 500 people from the area crammed into a refugee center established by United Nations relief workers and the Catholic Church. 

Panamanian police officials express outrage over the incident, and vow to stop the Colombian intruders, whom they describe as being criminals, rather than insurgents.

Granada gets relief
for storm damage

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON D.C. — On Jan. 17, the International Monetary Fund approved $4 million in emergency assistance for Grenada to support that country's efforts to cope with the impact of tropical storm Lili, according to a press release from the organization.

Tropical storm Lili struck Grenada in September 2002 and caused considerable damage to the nation's infrastructure, property and agriculture.

Grenada's government immediately took action after the storm to temporarily repair infrastructure necessary to restore economic activity. The fund’s financial assistance will supplement the government's efforts to rehabilitate Grenada's infrastructure on a more permanent basis, the press release said.

Deported Haitians 
convicted of massacre

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The United States has deported two former high-ranking military officers who were convicted in their native land of taking part in a massacre of civilians nine-years ago.

Carl Dorelien and Herbert Valmond, both members of the former military junta, were flown here late Monday, escorted by agents of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The courts had tried and convicted the two men in absentia for leading a 1994 assault that resulted in more than two dozen deaths in a neighborhood near the port city of Gonaives. Residents of the Raboteau neighborhood were known to support former and current President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whom the military ousted in a 1991 coup.

Barbara Gonzalez, Immigration and Naturalization Service spokeswoman, said the convictions of Dorelien and Valmond did not go unnoticed by U.S. authorities.

"Carl Dorelien and Herbert Valmond came to the attention of the INS as a result of their involvement in human rights abuses in Haiti," she explained. "Information was received that indicated that an indictment was being sought against Dorelien and Valmond for an incident that took place in Haiti, referred to as the Raboteau massacre."

Dorelien and Valmond arrived in the United States after the fall of Haiti's military junta in late 1994. Monday's deportations came not as a result of extradition requests from the country, but because the two had originally arrived in the United States as tourists and overstayed their visas.

Dorelien and Valmond face lengthy prison sentences here, where jail conditions are regarded as abysmal.

Dorelien received notoriety in Florida in 1997, when he won a $3.2 million jackpot in the state's lottery. At the time, Miami's large Haitian-American community complained that Florida was awarding cash to a mass-murderer. What will become of Dorelien's prize money now that he is in Haiti is not clear.

Protestors in force
rally against free trade

By The A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Anti-globalization activists attending the World Social Forum here have held a final demonstration to close out the six-day event.

Thousands of activists from around the world rallied here Monday to protest against a proposed hemispheric free trade zone stretching from Canada to Argentina. Demonstrators said it will strangle South American economies. Activists also protested against possible military action in Iraq.

Organizers say as many as 100,000 people attended the six-day forum, covering topics that included corporate corruption and the developing world's foreign debt.

The forum is designed to coincide with the World Economic Forum being held at the same time in Davos, Switzerland. New leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and American actor Danny Glover were among those who attended the World Social Forum.

Rebels issue conditions
for release of journalists

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian leftist rebels holding two Western journalists hostage say the foreigners will be freed as soon as security conditions warrant their release.

The National Liberation Army made the announcement Tuesday in a statement broadcast on its clandestine radio station.

The rebels also said American Scott Dalton and British-born Ruth Morris were in good health and that Ms. Morris was allowed to broadcast a birthday greeting to her father.

The rebels kidnapped the two reporters in the lawless Arauca province last week while they were on assignment for the Los Angeles Times. A five-person television crew covering the kidnapping was itself abducted by the larger rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The RCN television network says the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels released their hostages unharmed in Arauca Tuesday but seized the crew's equipment, including a satellite telephone.

Arauca is one of the country’s most embattled regions, where rebel groups are fighting rightist paramilitaries and the government for control of the state's oil-rich plains. Seventy U.S. Special Forces soldiers are now in Arauca to train troops to protect an oil pipeline frequently targeted in rebel bombings.
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President Bush cites failures to disarm by Saddam
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Bush said in his annual state of the union address that U.S. intelligence officials estimate Saddam Hussein has the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of chemical weapons. He said the Iraqi leader has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

Bush also said U.S. intellgience indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents, and notes inspectors recently turned up 16 chemical warheads. Again, Bush said the Iraqi leader has given no evidence that he has destroyed the munitions.

Bush said three Iraqi defectors reported that Iraq had several mobile biological weapons labs in the late 1990s. Again, he said President Saddam has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

Bush also said the U.N. nuclear agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advance nuclear weapons development program. Bush said the Iraqi leader clearly has much to hide.

Saddam Not Disarming

Bush said Saddam Hussein is not disarming, but deceiving. Bush said intelligence information shows that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are working to hide documents and materials from U.N. inspectors. 

He said Iraqi intelligence agents are also posing as scientists, inspectors are supposed to interview. Bush said sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered the death of any scientist who cooperates with U.N. inspectors.

Bush said Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths to build and keep weapons of mass destruction — and the only reason is to dominate, intimidate or attack, possibly creating deadly havoc in the Middle East.

Bush said intelligence also shows Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including Al Qaida. Bush said the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction reaching the hands of terrorists is so great that the United States must do everything in its power to ensure it never happens.

Bush said trusting the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not an option. Bush said in the nationally broadcast message the gravest danger facing America and the world are outlaw regimes that seek or possess nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. 

He said the regimes could use the weapons for terror or mass murder or give them to terrorist who would not hesitate to use them. America will defend the safety of its people and the hopes of all mankind, Bush said, adding that America is making efforts to confront these dangers and has called on the United Nations to stand by its demand that Iraq disarm. 

Bush said the United States is working with other countries to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union and to strengthen non-proliferation treaties.

Bush said he will defend the freedom and security of the American people, whenever required. He said the United States' course of action does not depend on the decisions of other nations.

Bush said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has systematically violated agreements to disarm for 12 years and has continued to pursue weapons of mass destruction, even while U.N. inspectors were in his country.

The president said the United Nations gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm almost three months ago. But Bush said the Iraqi leader has shown utter contempt for the United Nations. 

Inspectors concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons to produce enough anthrax to kill several million people as well as materials to produce enough botulinum toxin to kill millions of others, but Iraq has not accounted for those materials and has given no evidence that it has been destroyed, Bush said.

President Bush said his first goal for the year is to have a growing economy that provides jobs for every person who wants one.

The president said the economy is recovering from a recession, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and more recent corporate scandals. But he said it is not growing fast or strongly enough. He said the country needs more new small businesses and more companies to invest and expand.

The president said to achieve that goal, he proposes that all income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year. 

He said such tax relief will help the economy immediately and improve the economic health of more than 23 million small businesses.

Bush said the economy is also strengthened by treating investors fairly in tax laws. The president said he wants Congress to end the double taxation of shareholder dividends to boost investor confidence.

He said lower taxes and greater investment will help the U.S. economy expand. The government must work to fund only its most important priorities, he said, adding that he will send Congress a budget that increases discretionary spending by 4 percent next year — the same amount the average family income is expected to grow.

Bush said it is also crucial to focus on ensuring the future of the Social Security system for retired older citizens.

Affordable Health Care

President Bush said his second goal for the year to bring high-quality, affordable health care to all Americans. Bush said American medicine is a model of skill and innovation. But he said it costs too much for too many people, and many have no coverage at all. 

He called for an improved health care system in which all Americans have a good insurance policy and the right to choose their own doctors. 

Bush said the system must give seniors and low-income people the medical help they need. The president calls for a health care plan that provides seniors with prescription drugs. He said his budget will commit an extra $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen the Medicare system for seniors.

He also said Congress must address one of the main causes of rising medical costs — the threat of litigation that doctors and hospitals constantly 

face. He urges Congress to pass medical liability reform that will reduce that threat, in the hopes it will reduce insurance costs.

Bush said he and Congress have the duty to reform domestic programs vital to the country, and have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease, AIDS.

The president said he and Congress will work for a broadly-shared prosperity, and will answer every danger and enemy that threatens the Americans.

Bush said the United States is facing many challenges, but will not deny or ignore the problems and pass them on to future congresses and future generations. He said the country will confront its challenges with focus, clarity, and courage.

Energy Independence

Bush said the third goal is to promote energy independence while improving the environment. He urged Congress to pass the Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70 percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. 

Bush also proposed $1.2 billion in research funding so America can develop hydrogen-powered automobiles. He said the exhaust of such vehicles would be only water, not polluting fumes. He said such automobiles would make air cleaner and lessen U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources.

Compassion to Solve Problems

President Bush said his fourth goal is to apply the compassion of America to solve what he calls the country's deepest problems.

He said people who visit prisoners, provide shelter to battered women, and perform similar good works deserve both personal support and where appropriate, government assistance. He urged Congress to pass his faith-baised initiative and the Citizen Service Act.

He also calls on Congress and the American people to focus both their spirit and government resources to disadvantage children. He proposes a $450 million initiative to bring mentors to more than a million junior high school students without parents and to the children of prisoners.

Bush also proposed a $600 million program to help an additional 300,000 drug-addicted Americans receive treatment over the next three years.

He said too often, people in search of treatment cannot reach it. Bush said that by caring for addicts, the United States is building a culture that values every life. He also called for an end to partial-birth abortion and a ban against all human cloning. Bush said much has been accomplished over the past two years. He said the United States has achieved historic education reform and reorganized its government to protect the country. 

AIDS Relief Program in Africa

The President said the qualities of courage and compassion that Americans strive for also determine the country's conduct abroad.

He said in Afghanistan, Americans helped liberate an oppressed people, and will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society, and educate all their children, both boys and girls.

He said the United States will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine. He also said more than 60 percent of international food aid comes from the United States.

On the subject of AIDS, President Bush said nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus in Africa, yet only 50,000 are receiving the medicine they need.

He noted that the price of AIDS drugs has fallen to under $300 a year and said history has rarely offered a greater opportunity for the country to do so much for so many.

Bush proposed an Emergency Plan for AIDS relief. He asks Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, including $10 billion in new money, to assist African AIDS victims.

Bush said the plan will prevent seven million new AIDS infections, treat at least two million people with life-extending drugs, and provide humane care for millions suffering from the disease.

Bush said the war against terrorism is constant and is being won. He said many Al Qaida commanders have been arrested or otherwise dealt with, including those who directed logistics and funding for the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks of 2001.

He said more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested around the world. Bush said the U.S.-led coalition has terrorists on the run and is keeping them on the run. He said one-by-one, terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice.

The president said the government is taking unprecedented measures to protect the American people from terrorism.

He said the government has intensified security on the borders and airports. He said the government is deploying an early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack, and is beginning to field a missile defense shield.

Bush thanked Congress for supporting these measures, and asked members to approve $6 billion to quickly make available effective treatments against agents like anthrax, ebola, and plague.

The president said he is instructing U.S. intelligence and defense agencies to develop a Terrorist Threat Center to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location.

War Against Terror

He said the war against terror is a contest of will. He said whatever the duration of the struggle, the United States will not permit what he calls the triumph of violence in the affairs of men. He said free people will set the course of history.

The president said the Department of Homeland Security is mobilizing against threats of a new era. Bush said Washington has also delivered the largest tax relief in a generation to bring the economy out of recession and passed tough laws to hold corporate criminals to account.

Bush said that while some might call this a good record, he said he believed it is a good start. Bush also asked the House of Representatives and Senate to join him in taking the next steps to serve American citizens.

Our reward offer is still $500

Louis Milanes

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This newspaper seeks the prompt return of two men who ran high-interest investment operations that have gone out of business.

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho, 62, was associated with Ofinter S.A., a money exchange house, and with his own private investment business that had about $1 billion in other people’s money on the books. 

Villalobos closed his business Oct. 14 and vanished.

Louis Milanes operated Savings Unlimited and several casinos in San José. He left the country with other members of his firm the weekend of Nov. 23. He may have as much as $260 million in his possession. Both operations catered to North Americans.

Villalobos had about 6,300 customers. Milanes had about 2,400.

Villalobos and Milanes are the subjects of international arrest warrants.  Associates of both men have been jailed.

A.M. Costa Rica has posted a $500 reward for information leading to the detention of either man with the hopes that others will make similar pledges. The newspaper believes that investors only will see some of their money when the two men are in custody.

Milanes has few supporters in San José. On the other hand, as the letters frequently on this page show, Villalobos still has supporters who believe that he will reappear and settle his debts. They believe he is in hiding because of a predatory Costa Rican government.

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