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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 21
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Ryan Piercy shows off the new Casa Canada Annex at Avenida 2 and Calle 40 in Sabana Este.

Casa Canada
is expanding

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Canada has opened up a second office building in Sabana Este around the corner from the offices occupied by the Association of Residents of Costa Rica.

Casa Canada is an umbrella organization and landlord for the residents’ association and a host of other corporations, many of them useful for persons seeking to relocate or do business in Costa Rica.

Ryan Piercy, executive director of the residents’ association, said that the new building contains 22 offices, and nearly all already are occupied. One result is that firms that supply services to foreign residents are able to expand in the older building. Lilliana Torres, the principal lawyer for the association, has increased her staff and added floor space to her office. She specializes, among other topics, in aiding foreigners to obtain the legal right to stay in Costa Rica.

The new building, called Casa Canada Anexo 1, houses the administration of Casa Canada Group, its trust operations and its investment and mortgage operations. There also are offices of firms that supply professional services such as accounting but are not subsidiaries of Casa Canada.

Piercy said that the building was gutted and completely remodeled, He said the job cost in excess of $200,000. The two-story structure is only a half block east of the Hotel Parque del Lago on Avenida 2.

The Casa Canada Group has published a booklet outlining investment, residency, taxation and other rules and regulations specific to Costa Rica. Further information can be found on the group’s Web site: www.casacanada.net or by calling 222-1722.

Association plans picnic

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Association of Residents of Costa Rica plans its annual picnic Saturday, Feb. 23, at Montelandia, a private club near San Rafael de Heredia. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs, said the association.

Tickets are 3,000 colons ($8.70) for adults and 1,500 colons for children if purchase in advance. They cost 500 colons ((about $1.50) more at the door. Any profits from the event go to charity. Information is available at 267-6438 or 221-2053 or by e-mail to stephy2717@aol.com.
 

Salvation Army goes
to constitutional court

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Salvation Army has filed its legal action against the Patronado Nacional de la Infancia to seek payment of some 9 million colons that the government organization withheld last year.

That was the word Tuesday from Major John Mowers, head of the religious organization’s efforts in Costa Rica. He said that the Salvation Army should know by mid-February if the Constitutional Court will entertain the legal action.

The disputed amount is about $26,000. The Salvation Army had been penalized for the alleged poor quality of its street children program, and had been docked 10 million colons, nearly $30,000.

Mowers, divisional commandant, has said the penalty was a surprise. As a result of the Patronado’s refusal to pay the money, the Salvation Army had to close down its programs. The shelters were closed in September.

The Salvation Army expected to get 26 million colons (about $77,000). Instead, it got 16 million (about $47,500), said Mower.

Mowers also said that the Army has now opened a feeding center for street children five days a week. Another program supported by the Patronado also has opened.

Year of ecotourism 
kicked off by U.N.

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

NEW YORK CITY — U.N. officials, speaking at a special event marking the launch of the International Year of Ecotourism, highlighted the development potential of ecotourism as well as the disturbing environmental trends of increasing tourism.

Several government ministers, heads of intergovernmental organizations and representatives of leading industry associations participated in the event Monday held at U.N. headquarters here. It coincided with the start of a two-week meeting of the second preparatory committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The summit is scheduled to be held next August in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The International Year of Ecotourism, being coordinated by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Tourism Organization, will provide an opportunity to review the ecotourism industry's effect on biodiversity, its potential contribution to sustainable development, and its social, economic and environmental impacts, said a statement.

"If handled properly, ecotourism can be a valuable tool for financing the protection of ecologically sensitive areas and the socio-economic development of populations living in or close to them," said Executive Director Klaus Toepfer of the Environmental Program.

High-level delegates and experts from around the world are expected to attend the World Ecotourism Summit to be held May 19-22 in Quebec City, Canada.

Ecotourism is a form of tourism in which visitor experiences are nature-based. It is also considered a land use method that promotes sustainable development in that it seeks habitat protection rather than exploitation of natural resources. 
 
More news of Costa Rica and the world:
See below

Snow
in 
Costa 
Rica?

You
bet!

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Good grief. It snowed in Costa Rica. The National Meteorological Institute reported that "solid precipitation in the form of snow granules" fell between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. last Thursday on the Cerro de la Muerte.

The weather center also said that this unusual event was caused by a cold low pressure area and moderate winds and the fact that Cerro de la Muerte is so high that the peak nearly touched the clouds containing the precipitation,

The phenomena happens infrequently in the higher elevations of Costa Rica during December and February, the meteorological institute said.

Cerro de la Muerte is 3,491 meters (11,450 feet) above sea level. It has that name because oxcart drivers occasionally died of hypothermia there in years past. The spot in the central Pacific is the highest point on the nterAmerican Highway.

Meanwhile,  a 5.2 magnitude earthquake struck northern Costa Rica Sunday night about 8:49 p.m., according to the U.S. Earthquake Information Center. The location was at a depth of 33 kilometers (about 20 miles) and some 30 miles (45 kms.) east of Liberia.

Costa Rica sources put the epicenter in the neighborhood of Upala where there was some reports of structural damage and aftershocks.
 

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Bush says war against terrorism is just starting
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Bush says the war against terrorism is just beginning. In his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening Bush vowed to continue the fight against terrorism abroad, strengthen security at home and help the economy recover. He also called for a big increase in the number of Peace Corps volunteers.

Although the United States is at war and the economy in recession, President Bush said the state of the union has never been stronger.

He thanked the American people for their patience in the fight against terrorism and said the country will be steadfast in disrupting terrorist networks and protecting against chemical, biological or nuclear attack.

While hundreds of terrorist suspects have been arrested since Sept 11, Bush said tens of thousands of terrorists trained in Afghanistan are still at large and the United States will pursue them wherever they go. "So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk and America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it," he said.

President Bush says thousands of dangerous killers, schooled in the methods of murder are now spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs, ready to go off without warning. "We cannot stop short. If we stopped now, leaving terror camps intact and terror states unchecked, our sense of security would be false and temporary," he said. "History has called America and our allies to action, and it is both our responsibility and our privilege to fight freedom's fight."

President Bush said the United States must stop terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. He singled out North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as nations that he said "constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world."

He added, "By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving 
 

them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic."

The president asked Congress for the largest increase in defense spending in 20 years to boost soldier salaries and buy more precision-guided weapons. He also wants to spend $38 billion on homeland security focusing on bioterrorism, emergency response, improved intelligence, and airport and border security.

"Time and distance from the events of Sept. 11th will not make us safer unless we act on its lessons. America is no longer protected by vast oceans," he said. "We are protected from attack only by vigorous action abroad, and increased vigilance at home."

Part of increasing that vigilance is a new program called the USA Freedom Corps which will bring together retired doctors and nurses to help in emergencies and community volunteers to help police and fire fighters. It will also recruit more than 200,000 volunteers for existing community service programs and double the number of Peace Corps volunteers over the next five years.

"This time of adversity offers a unique moment of opportunity a moment we must seize to change our culture. Through the gathering momentum of millions of acts of service and decency and kindness, I know we can overcome evil with greater good," he said.

Bush thanked Congress for their bipartisan support in the war against terrorism and urged them to carry that spirit of cooperation into the domestic agenda. He wants Senate Democrats to pass an economic stimulus package to create jobs and encourage business to invest more in a struggling economy.

"The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment, and by speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend," he said. "For the sake of American workers, let's pass a stimulus package."

Telemundo airs
street kids show

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Telemundo, the big U.S. Spanish-language television network, will be highlighting violence against children in Honduras in a show scheduled to air Sunday at 7 p.m., according to Casa Alianza of Honduras.

The show will air at 6 p.m. in Central America on the program "Sin Fronteras," said the child advocacy organization.

The show will report on the official violence against children in the county and the work of Casa Alianza, said the organization.

During the last four years, more than 1,500 street children and young people have been murdered as part of "social cleansing" programs in that country, said Casa Alianza in a press notice. Some 30 to 50 youngsters are murdered each month, and Casa Alianza is trying to stop the deaths, the organization said.

Trip to home
planned Feb. 9

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Angel of Love Foundation is sponsoring an all-day bus excursion to the Tom and Norman Home in Guapiles Feb. 9. The bus will leave Santa Ana at 8 a.m., Escazú at 8:15 and San José at 8:30. 

The cost of the excursion is 7,000 colons and includes round-trip transportation, optional en route Las Vegas type games, a visit 
to Patricia Erickson's Art Gallery, a tour of Brian Erickson's Bamboo Plantation and Factory, a visit to the home and a catered lunch. The cost includes a donation. Information can be obtained by calling Don Paco in Santa Ana at 282-7794 or Frank Rice in San Jose at 290-7406 

The Tom and Norman Home is named after Tom Johnston and Norman Brown, who founded a refuge first as a home for AIDS patients in Heredia and later as a home for abandoned seniors after Costa Rica began providing support for AIDS patients. 

The Guapiles facility is an abandoned horse stable that has been redone with considerable effort by the local community. Some 11 abandoned seniors live at the facility. 

Booklet targets
yucky yucca

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

That paraffin-coated yucca you see in the stores may look like unbreakable sticks, but a Costa Rican study says that from 30 to 35 percent of yucca produced in the country is spoiled before it ends up on the dinner table.

Sometimes the spoilage amounts to 55 percent of a particular harvest, according to the Ministrio  de Agricultura y Ganadería. The losses have international trade implications, too, because the bulk of the Costa Rican harvest, some 46,000 metric tons, is exported. Domestic consumption ranges from 12,000 to 18,000 metric tons, said the ministry.

More than 80 percent of the yucca producers have plots of two hectares or less, said the ministry.

Two researchers, Jorge Mario Fonseca Laurent and Daniel Saborío Argüello, have studied the reasons for the deterioration of yucca and have produced a manual containing suggestions for better handling of the product. The title of the Spanish-language publication translates as "Post harvest technology of fresh paraffined yucca for exportation in Costa Rica."

The manual is for sale at the La Sabana ministry for 500 colons (about $1.50). More information is available at 231-4764, said the ministry.

Argentine minister
to meet Powell

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Argentine Foreign Minister Carlos Ruckauf is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington Tuesday for talks on Argentina's economic problems. 

Ruckauf met Monday with other Bush Administration officials as Argentina seeks billions of dollars in international financial aid to rebuild its shattered economy. Last month, the International Monetary Fund withheld more than $1 billion in aid to Argentina after the government failed to keep spending under control. 

Monday senior officials from the IMF, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank met at IMF headquarters here to discuss Argentina. The agencies later issued a statement, saying they are working closely to help the South American country recover from its financial troubles. 

Thousands of jobless Argentines rallied again Monday in Buenos Aires to demand work as well as relief from the impact of the country's deepening economic crisis. The marchers massed near the presidential palace and blocked roads to demand the creation of one million jobs as well as benefits for the poor and unemployed. 

President Eduardo Duhalde has appealed for patience amid the daily protests, saying it will take time for Argentina to recover from the crisis that has left 18 percent of the work force unemployed. The bankrupt nation is in default on its $141 billion public debt, and the Argentine economy has been in recession nearly four years. 

In a related development, the IMF's top Latin America specialist, Claudio Loser, will head to Argentina later this week to establish a framework for talks on new financial aid to the country.  The IMF has been urging Argentina to develop a plan for sustainable economic growth in order to qualify for assistance. 

Golf tourney
benefits school

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Second annual Have a Heart Golf Tournament this year takes place on Wednesday, Feb. 13. 

The event benefits the Colegio de Villareal in Tamarindo, and sponsors expect about 104 golfers to participate. Last year the tournament raised $8,000 for the school, according to Suzye Lawson, a local bed-and-breakfast owner and organizer.

The tournament actually begins the night before with a reception from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Villa Alegre B and B on Playa Langosta. The entry fee for the tournament is $85, which includes the awards luncheon. 

The Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course will be the location for the 7:30 a.m. shotgun start. The entry fee also includes a golf cart and two beverage tickets. Golfers must register and pay their entry fee by Feb. 6, according to the organizers. Ms. Lawson may be reached at 653-0270. Others with information are Janice Gallagher at 653-0738 and Irene O’Malley at 653-0049, according to an announcement.

Infrequent golfers or tourists who wish to participate will find that golf clubs are available for rent. The tournament uses the best-ball rule, which means that the best effort of a team member counts for the whole team on each hole.

Ms. Lawson said that she and others have been involved in many fund-raisers to benefit the high school, which has more than 300 students. After much lobbying, Costa Rica just constructed a high school of some 14 classrooms, but there are few amenities, she said.

The golf tourney money as well as other funds raised go into a national bank trust fund to be used just for the school. Recently, Ms. Lawson and her associates were able to purchase a stove, freezer and other kitchen accessories for the school. 

Brazil wins one
against Canada

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brazil has welcomed a World Trade Organization ruling that Canada broke global trade rules by offering low-interest loans to Canadian jet maker Bombardier. 

The ruling Monday was the first WTO defeat for Ottawa in a 6-year-old trade battle between Canada and Brazil over subsidies to their major aircraft makers.  Canada says its subsidies were in response to preferential-rate loans Brazil made to its aircraft manufacturer, Embraer. 

Both Bombardier and Embraer make business jets and regional aircraft. Canadian and Brazilian officials are to meet early next month in New York for another round of negotiations on their dispute.

Big explosion
kills policemen

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — A house used by leftist rebels to store dynamite has exploded, killing at least seven soldiers and wounding several others, officials said. At least 22 soldiers are reported missing. 

Authorities say the soldiers were storming the house Tuesday when the blast blew up the building in the Meta Department's El Dorado district. It is not clear, however, whether the explosion was accidental or intentional. 

Investigators say rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the nation's largest guerrilla group, used the building to store explosives for blowing up power lines. The rebels have been bombing infrastructure targets, even though they are in negotiations with the government to reach a ceasefire aimed at ending the country's 38-year civil war. 

In a related development, representatives of Colombia's second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army, and the government are gathered in Cuba in a bid to restart peace talks. Diplomats and international observers also are scheduled to attend the meetings, set to conclude Thursday. 

The development comes two weeks after the two sides met in Havana in an effort to reach an agreement for formal peace talks. Preliminary discussions with the ELN broke down in August, with Colombian President Andres Pastrana saying the group was not serious about peace. Officials resumed contacts with the ELN guerrillas in November. 

Solís files suit
against Naranjo

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The campaign of Ottón Solís filed a defamation suit against Fernando Naranjo, vice presidential candidate of the Partido Liberación Nacional. The suit was filed by Ewald Acuña, who was identified as a lawyer for Solís.

Solís, candidate of the Partido Acción Ciudadana, claims that Naranjo defamed him in saying that he has failed to pay taxes on interest he received on loans he had made. In Costa Rica national-level politicians are not fair game for campaign barbs as they are in the United States.

Solís, who is running on a reformist platform, has been the target of a number of allegations, most brought by the Liberación Party. That is because surveys show that the Liberación candidate, Rolando Araya, is in a dead heat for second place with Solís. A second-place finish in the elections Sunday would give a candidate a berth in a run-off election if no candidate gained 40 percent. Polls say that Abel Pacheco of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana probably will get the most votes, but something less than the required 40 percent.

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