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These stories were published Monday, Feb. 4, 2002
Jo Stuart
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Pacheco and Araya to face second vote round
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The two traditional political party candidates survived presidential elections to face off again April 7. No candidate got the 40 percent of the votes required for election by the Costa Rica Constitution.

Newcomer Ottón Solís and his Partido Acción Ciudadana made a strong showing for a new party, but placed third with about 26.3 percent of the vote.

As expected, Abel Pacheco of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana led the voting, and he got more than most pre-election polls predicted: about 38.5 percent of votes cast. But with 88 percent of the vote totaled, he was unable to reach the necessary 40 percent.

Second was Rolando Araya, candidate of the Partido Liberación Nacional. He had about 31 percent of the vote cast, slightly more than some polls predicted.

Solís was the target of a strong, professional constructed negative campaign waged mostly by Liberación operatives that charged he did not pay his fair share of taxes and had evicted a family from a home because they could not pay a loan they owned him.

Because Solís ran on a morality and pro-tax collection campaign he was vulnerable to these attacks. He conceded about 10 p.m.

Both victorious candidates addressed their troops, Araya at the Hotel Corobicí and Pacheco at the Hotel Herradura. Both urged their followers to work hard for victor.

The Tribunal Supreme de Elecciones has allocated 300 million colons for the new 

Partido Unidad Social Cristiana
Pacheco             519,528     38.5%
Partido Liberación Nacional
Araya                417,533     31.0%
Partido Acción Ciudadana
Solís                   355,202     26.3%
Movimento Libertario
Guevara               22,693       1.7%

election. That’s about $870.000 to print 
ballots and prepare the more than 6,000 polling places.

Projections for the National Assembly show a fragmented body where no party will have a working majority. Channel 7 projected that the Social Cristiana would have about 19 deputies, Liberación 17 and Acción Ciudadana 13. The Movimento Libertario would have about 7, and Renovación Costarricense, a minor party, would have 1, the station’s analysts said. Among them would be 18 women.

Pacheco carried all seven of Costa Rica’s provinces. Solís was stronger in San José, Cartago and Heredia and posted totals higher than Liberación in those provinces. He did not draw well in Limón or in Guanacaste.

Otto Guevara of the Movimiento Libertario was the biggest voter-getter of the minor parties, winning 22,693 or about 1.7 percent.

The percentage of the vote remained fairly constant since about 8 p.m. when the electoral tribunal began releasing numbers. So there is a consensus among the politicians that a second round of voting is certain. 

Abstentions approached 32 percent of the eligible voters, more than 320,000 persons.

Unlike the United States where electioneering is prohibited some distance from the polling places, the tradition here is for each party to put an informational table or a tent just outside the school where voters go. 

Here one of a handful of local parties, the Garabito Ecologico, seeks votes for municipal candidates at the Lider Central de Jacó school in that beach town Sunday.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Presidential elections were more like big municipal fiestas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Elections Sunday in Costa Rica were marked by peace and tranquility, not only in the official description but in fact.

Throughout the Pacific coast good feelings and a celebration of democracy was evident with Costa Ricans promoting their candidate and party with flags both on their homes and on their cars.

At each polling place workers from rival parties labored side-by-side in tents and informational tables. Promotion of a candidate did not bring frowns or criticism from members of the opposite party. Some children were seen waving in the same hand flags representing the three leading candidates.

At the Escuela Lider Central de Jacó election workers of each party were proud to have a 

North American drop by.  "We are having our democratic fiesta," one man said. There did not seem to be the rivalry that is the hallmark of a polling place in the United States during major elections.

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, the fourth branch of Costa Rican government that is in charge of voting, officially verified the impressions gained in a quick tour of the Pacific. There was absolutely no problems at any polling spot in the country, the TSE and its crises committee reported.

Even in the late afternoon as supporters of each party gathered at the east end of San José's Sabana Park, the mood was festive. There were no confrontations even though nearly every carload sported a flag or emblem of one of the major political parties. Supporters gathered there to await the election outcome in one giant block party.

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U.S. Earthquake Information Center graphic
Star marks site of Sunday quake
Quake hits near Panama;
Turkey has a big one

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff and wire services

A 4.9 magnitude earthquake hit in Costa Rica near the border with Panamá about 4:49 p.m. Sunday, according to the U.S. Earthquake Information Center. 

The quake was about 33 kilometers (about 20 miles) deep and was fixed at about 40 miles (60 kms.) west of Bocas del Toro in Panama. That put the location well inside Costa Rica’s border.

Meanwhile, a strong earthquake hit in central Turkey has killed at least 45 people and injured more than 150 others.

The quake, which measured 6.0 on the Richter scale, struck early Sunday while many residents were enjoying breakfast. It was centered in the town of Sultandagi in the Afyon region, about 300 kilometers southwest of Ankara.

Authorities say they do not expect the death toll to climb dramatically. Most shops and schools in the region were closed Sunday, preventing a greater disaster. Most of Turkey lies on the North Anatolian fault, and the country is frequently jolted by earthquakes. Two massive quakes in 1999 killed nearly 20,000 people.

Children's concert series
to promote classical music

By the A. M. Costa Rica staff

Shades of Leonard Bernstein. The Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center will be presenting explanatory concerts for youngsters two Sundays in February and three Sundays in March

The idea is to encourage the youngsters to develop a taste for classical music and perhaps even develop the desire to play an instrument, said the center. The concerts are being given in conjunction with Academia de Música Bach and are called a  Concert of Joy.

The concerts will take place Feb. 17 and 24th and March 3, 10 and 17 at the Teatro Eugene O’Neill, which is in the center in Los Yoses. All are at 10:30 a.m., and general admission is ¢1,200 ($3.50)

The organizers want to wipe from the children’s minds that classic music is boring, an announcement from the center said. Bernstein, the late composer and music director of the New York Philharmonic, gained public recognition in the 1950s because of his televised Saturday morning concerts for children and the detailed explanations he gave them.

This will take place at the concerts here, too. Narrator Guiselle Alvarado will explain the musical concepts to allow the children to understand the different instrumental sounds, technical aspects, including beat, tempo, melody, and the different functions of music in everyday life, said the announcement from the center. All will be explained in a simple language adapted for children, it added.

Also to be explained in an interactive setting are the arrangement and different responsibilities of the parts of the orchestra, said the center.

The musical group will be under the direction of Julio Cordero. Musicians include first violins, Guiselle Alvarado, Vanesa Durán, Christian Jiménez, Lyre Durán, Leslie Simmons; second violins, Thais Pardo, Esther Alemán, Nancy Alvarado; violas, Julio Cordero, Susan Durán; cello, Ricardo Alvarado, and double bass, Marco Alvarado.

Works include "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven, which figures in the name of the concert, and compositions by Mozart, Vivaldi, Edwad Elgar and more modern composers, such as John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith.

New England wins
Superbowl game

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services 

NEW ORLEANS, La. — The New England Patriots have stunned the Saint Louis Rams to win their first Super Bowl, the championship game of American professional football. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal as time ran out, to give the Patriots a 20-17 victory in Super Bowl XXXVI, at the Superdome here.

The Rams, who had been a 14-point favorite before the game, fell behind 17-to-3 when three turnovers resulted in three New England scores. Saint Louis scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to tie the game at 17, when Kurt Warner threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Proehl with one minute, 30 seconds to go. 

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led his team 53 yards down the field in the closing minute, to set up Vinatieri's winning kick. 

Brady was named the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. The 24-year-old started the season as a backup quarterback, but took over the starting job in the second week of the season when Drew Bledsoe was injured. Brady led the team for most of the season. 

The New England defense held Saint Louis' highly acclaimed offense in check for much of the championship game. 

This victory is the Patriots' first in three Super Bowl appearances. This year's game was held amid unprecedented security, following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge says more than 5,000 military and security personnel were on hand and used new technology to protect the 80,000 people in the stands. 

An estimated 800-million people around the world saw the game on television.

Costa Rica drops
Gold Cup game

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

PADADENA, Calif. — The United States national soccer team beat Costa Rica 2-0 Saturday in a match basically ignored there and of upmost interest here.

The Tico team was basically outplayed and had trouble keeping control of the ball. The U.S. team put in one goal early and scored a second time to seal the vistory in the middle of the second half.

The match was the final in the Gold Cup tounament and was payback time the the U.S. team that suffered a defeat at the hands of Costa Rica Sept. 5 in a world Cup preliminary in San José’s Saprissa Stadium.

Argentine woman
is newest princess

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands — Dutch Crown Prince Willem-Alexander has wed Argentine investment banker Maxima Zorreguieta in a civil ceremony in Amsterdam's former stock exchange.

The ceremony Saturday, was witnessed by a gallery of kings, queens, dukes and counts, and other dignitaries including Britain's Prince Charles and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela.

The bride wore an ivory-colored silk gown made by the European designer Valentino, while the crown prince wore his dark blue navy uniform.

Thousands of cheering spectators waved Dutch flags and wore orange hats and scarves in support of the ruling House of Orange. Though the ceremony was devoid of religion, the newlyweds immediately left for the 600-year-old Nieuwe Kerk, or new church, next to the royal palace, to stand before a Dutch Reformed minister and a Catholic priest and have their marriage blessed.

Ms. Zorreguieta is an extremely popular figure in the Netherlands, despite an earlier controversy over her father's ministerial post in Argentina's military dictatorship. To allay criticism, she denounced the regime her father had served. Jorge Zorreguieta did not attend the wedding.

Argentina to let
peso float freely

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina's economy minister, Jorge Remes Lenicov, said Sunday his government would abandon the dual exchange rate implemented Jan. 6 for the country's peso, and instead, let the peso float freely. He also confirmed media reports that all dollar deposits would be converted to pesos at a rate of 1.4 to one, while all dollar loans, no matter how large, would be switched to pesos at a one-to-one rate. 

Remes said the government intends to "pesify" the Argentine economy and abandon the peso's link to the U.S. dollar. Like other countries, Argentina will set its own monetary and foreign exchange policy. 

From 1991 to 2001, the peso was pegged at one-to-one to the U.S. dollar, giving Argentina little control over its own monetary policy. By weaning Argentina off the greenback and adopting one foreign exchange rate, the government hopes to boost exports, help tourism and local industry and create much-needed jobs. 

Remes said Argentina has enough foreign currency reserves to defend the peso if it sank too low. With a prudent monetary policy, including strict controls on how many bills the Central Bank can print each year, he said, the government will maintain the value of the peso. 

He said the past four years of recession were the result of a decline unseen in Argentina's history. Manufacturing sector plunged 16 percent and foreign investment dropped 43 percent, while the numbers of jobless and poor soared. Four out of 10 Argentineans live in poverty, he said. 

Remes said Argentina has lived on borrowed money for so many years that today, federal, provincial and private debt equals the country's annual gross domestic product, or close to $276 billion. 

He said the main goal of the economic plan is to jump-start production and foreign trade, balances the budget, create jobs and reduce poverty. The government's austerity program, he said, will start with the budget to be submitted to Congress on Tuesday. The overhaul of the tax system and government reforms will have to wait until next year, he said. 

The economic plan was due out Saturday, but a surprise ruling by the nation's highest court Friday, that declared the government limits on bank withdrawals unconstitutional, forced the government to make revisions and declare a banking and foreign exchange holiday for Monday and Tuesday. 

The withdrawal restrictions that froze around $47 billion in dollar-denominated accounts sparked violent protests that helped topple two presidents since December. 

Free trade could mean
big bucks, press told

By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

NEW YORK CITY — Policymakers attending the World Economic Forum in New York believe trade liberalization could be one of the most effective ways to promote sustained development, according to Stanley Fischer, vice-chairman of Citigroup and former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Fischer, one of the moderators for the 2002 meeting, briefed journalists Sunday on the meetings of the Informal Gathering of World Economic Leaders. The group traditionally meets privately during the forum for focused talks that organizers call "the summit within the summit."

This year, group participants focused on ways to restore sustained economic growth and reduce poverty, and they underlined the importance of the trade talks launched at the November 2001 World Trade Organization meeting in Doha, Qatar, Fischer said.

Fischer said participants generally agreed that freer trade could be worth as much as $150 billion to developing countries, but stressed that such an outcome would depend on liberalized trade in agriculture and textiles. He noted that while textile trade liberalization is under way, group members have "not much hope" for similar action on agriculture.

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