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These stories were published first Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002
Jo Stuart
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These young supporters of Ottón Solís, although younger than most, have plenty of energy and displayed it in Jacó Sunday.

Solís legacy
still uncertain

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

Ottón Solís, the third-party presidential candidate, has a bright future, some future or maybe no future, according to speculation by politically involved Costa Ricans and foreign observers.

Solís didn’t make the presidential runoff because he came in third in a three-way race, but Solís banners still were in evidence Monday in the streets of San José. His anti-corruption message seemed to hit home among young professionals.

"He’s going to be the president in four year," said one supporter as he hawked his wares in the downtown. Later he agreed that the future of Solís hinges on what happens in the next four years.

Few people said that Solís would suffer the same fate as U.S. third-party candidate Ross Perot, who dropped off the political charts after pulling in 19 percent of the 1992 presidential vote. Solís got 26 percent here, some 360,000 votes.

One U.S. observer of the Costa Rican scene said that Solís managed to get 14 of his Partido Acción Ciudadana National Assembly candidates elected. That’s the swing block in the 57-member body. The deputies and their votes will continue to keep Solís a national force, this observer said.

A  tour through western and central Costa Rica Sunday showed many more Solís banners than had been anticipated. His supporters were generally younger, raising the possibility that the youth that he attracted to politics will remain a force.

Such was the case in the United States with antiwar Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who attracted similarly minded political activists in 1968 when he challenged the leadership of his Democratic Party. 

McCarthy’s legacy was thousands of politically savvy young people who have been a force ever since in national politics. McCarthy helped unseat President Lyndon B. Johnson.  But McCarthy never got the U.S. presidential nomination himself. That went to Hubert Humphrey, then-vice president. 

The same may be true in Costa Rica in future years. Solís might have managed to involve in politics thousands of persons who might never have done so on their own. They now know the ropes, and even if his party fragments, as some third-parties do, each politically active individual will owe Solís a certain amount of thanks.

In a country with 31 percent abstentions from the voting Sunday, that would seem to be a substantial contribution.

Nosara gets serious about 
better road
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The town of Nosara wants the government to put in a 30-km. asphalt covering on its access road to protect the health of the citizens and to give tourism a boost.

Two of the town’s major associations have prepared a petition to the government, and the petition contains 82 names. The town leaders say they are sick of the runaround they are getting from officials in charge of road construction.

The Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transporte just announced road work on the Pacific side of the Nicoya Peninsula, and Nosara was selected for annual grading work and not much more. Tamarindo and Sámara are going to get more investments in roads, including asphalt toppings.

The Nosara petition was put forward by the Asociación de Desarrollo de Nosara and the Asociación Local de Desarrollo Turistico Sostenible de Nosara. The petition said that during the winter season the residents have to suffer with muddy roads and that during the dry season the problem is heavy dust.

The road is about 30 kms. (about 18 miles) from a hard-surfaced road near Sámara to Nosara center. Despite contacts with many officials "we are left without a decent road that would let many international and national tourists come and enjoy the beautiful places here," said a letter seeking help from the two groups.

Nosara is one of Costa Rica’s better beach areas and the beaches slope gently into the Pacific. The area is comprised of several beaches which can accommodate surfing but are not known for dangerous undertows.

Some residents in Nosara have said they prefer dirt roads to keep down the number of tourists, but this petition from the two associations raises the issue of the environmental and physical damage that can be done by heavy dust. 

The road was featured in an A.M. Costa Rica report Dec. 17 when the road, hard hit by heavy rains, was difficult to travel, effectively isolating the town.

Costa Rica and Panama
seek coffee bug help 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica and Panamá have asked for help from the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization to prevent an infestation in the coffee fields from moving south.

The coffee pest was detected in early 2000 in the Central Valley, and specialists said the insect had spread south from Nicaragua. Some 200 hectares (nearly 500 acres) in San José and Heredia were found to be infected, and an aggressive program of fumigation of trucks was begun to keep the insect from spreading to other coffee plantations. The bug eats into the coffee bean.

The integrated management to control the pest is likely to result in an increase in the use of insecticides in an agricultural pursuit where not much pesticide was used in the past, according to officials in Panamá and Costa Rica. The alternative is an infestation that can cut coffee harvests by 80 percent.

Alfredo Robert Polini, minister of agriculture and livestock in Costa Rica, is expected to announce new methods to control the insect outbreak Wednesday morning in a conference in the ministry in Sabana. He will be accompanied by Iván Angulo Chacón of the Food and Agricultural Organization in the two countries.

The pest, the coffee bean borer (Hypothenemus hampei) lays eggs that develop into larvae that eat all or part of the bean, sometimes making the fruit fall to the ground.

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Monteverde is the backdrop for Webcast on global warming
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The wilderness expeditions team from OneWorldJourneys.com is webcasting from Costa Rica’s Monteverde Cloud Forest as part of an Internet production on climate change titled "Mercury Rising: Bearing Witness to Climate Change." 

The photo-documentary webcast, co-sponsored by the Epson Corp., will run through Feb. 12 at http://www.OneWorldJourneys.com. Click on the photo of Photographer Gary Braasch holding a frog.

The climate change webcast is inspired, in part, by the work of Portland-based environmental photographer Braasch, who has traveled the world for more than three years creating a visual, photographic record of Earth’s response to global warming, said the Clinton, Wash.,-based organization. 

The multi-media web production includes photo galleries and articles focusing on major climate change issues as well as observations made by citizens over time that offer evidence of global warming, they said.  In addition, resources are offered for K-12 teachers and students, and Mercury Rising is presented as a distance learning and continuing education course for teachers through The Heritage Institute and Antioch University.

Daily satellite dispatches during the webcast will include digital photography, audio, video and stories about climate change research in Monteverde, one of the most studied cloud forests on the planet. 

Some of those who will be featured in the expedition will include:  Biologist Alan Pounds known for pioneering work in correlating changes in climate conditions to the loss of certain amphibian populations in Monteverde; Tropical 
Biologist Richard Laval who has researched the bat

populations in Monteverde since the 1970s, most recently looking at possible changes related to global warming; and, Deborah DeRosier, a conservation biologist studying possible impact of climate change on the endangered three-wattled bellbird. 

The One World Journeys team also is spending time with members of the Quaker community who originally helped create the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve and local Costa Rican farmers working on restoring certain sections of the forest.

"Our teams have chased jaguars through Mexico, documented sharks and other wildlife on a remote Pacific Island and explored deep into the Caucasus Mountains of former Soviet Georgia, but taking on climate change has been one of our greatest challenges so far," says Russell Sparkman, creator of OneWorldJourneys.com and president of FusionSpark Media. 

"Through Gary’s photos from around the world and our expedition in Costa Rica, our storytelling will offer a unique perspective on how global warming is changing our Earth." 

The expedition team includes author and Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Bill Dietrich from Anacortes, Wash., along with his wife Holly Dietrich, an elementary school teacher who is writing a daily dispatch for teachers and students. The field team is led by One World Journeys executive producer and digital photographer Denise Rocco.  Those following the online expedition will be able to e-mail questions to the team in the field.

"Mercury Rising" is the sixth online wilderness expedition at OneWorldJourneys.com, which is produced by FusionSpark Media Inc., based in Clinton, Wash. OneWorldJourneys.com has received several awards and numerous accolades for its photographic web expeditions focusing attention on unique or threatened ecosystems and species.

Harris serves on two panels at World Economic forum in New York
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Casa Alianza is one of 70 civil society organizations from around the world which had been invited to participate in the World Economic Forum, which finished its five-day meeting Monday in New York City.

The World Economic Forum is an "independent foundation based in Geneva, Switzerland, committed to improving the state of the world", according to the agency's literature. Founded in 1971 by investor Klaus Schuab, the forum has become a focus of international influence in its annual conferences, held for the past 32 years in Davos, Switzerland. 

This year, as a sign of support for terrorist hit New York City, the forum was held in the market capital of the United States. Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is one of the co-chairmen, described it as a place of "important synergies between business, government and civil society interests in the Global Agenda". 

Casa Alianza was represented by it's executive director for Latin American programs, Bruce Harris, who was to participate in two panels: "The Media Made Me Do It," a look at the role of the media within a democratic paradigm, and "Balancing National Sovereignty with Minority Rights: Will this Century be Different?" 

Other panelists on these two themes include 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa; former U.S. President Bill Clinton; Abdullah Abdullah, minister of foreign affairs of Afghanistan; Gerry Adams, president of the Sinn Fein Party, United Kingdom; José Ramos-Horta, senior minister and minister of foreign affairs and cooperation of East Timor; Kenneth Roth, executive director, Human Rights Watch, USA and Jack Straw, secretary of state for foreign and Commonwealth affairs of the United Kingdom. 

"When we are talking about up to 40 million street children in Latin America alone, we can hardly talk about a minority group," insisted Casa Alianza's Harris in a prepared statement "We cannot marginalize such an enormous group of children wasting such tremendous human potential. Government and society must bring these homeless children back into the mainstream of civilization in our countries and invest in them". 

Casa Alianza was invited to participate in this global meeting by Jose Maria Figueres, former president of Costa Rica and now managing director of the World Economic Forum. 

Casa Alianza has tried to bring pressure to bear on governments which implement or condone actions of "social cleansing", or murder, of homeless children. The organization is in legal conflict with the governments of Honduras and Guatemala and is suing the Costa Rican finance minister because it says he has not provided enough government funds for the support of homeless children.

Internet newspaper
post readership gains

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica atttacted 29.2 percent more readers in January than it did in December.

Internet "hits" totalled 127,513 that month, according to an independent statistical program maintained by the Internet service provider where the newspaper’s server is located.

In January there were 37,513 page views and 13,662 sessions for the 5 1/2-month-old electronic newspaper.

The totals were not as dramatic as the 56 percent increase in December, but that was the month with the greatest increase.

The statistics basically mean that about 500 persons are reading the newspaper thoroughly each day. Statistics show that the readers come from all over the world, but mainly from Costa Rica, the United States and Canada.

Argentina suspends
suits against banks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The government has suspended for six months all lawsuits against banking restrictions and the new foreign exchange rules that aim to protect the banking system from collapse. 

The decree also orders banks to stop selling dollars and to convert all their dollars into pesos at the Central Bank, at the rate of 1.4 pesos to the dollar, which is below the market rate of almost two pesos to the dollar. 

The government's decision comes three days after the Supreme Court declared the government's freezing of bank deposits unconstitutional. Some financial analysts condemned the decision, saying lifting the restrictions could lead to a run on deposits and the collapse of Argentina's banking sector. 

Members of Congress also plan to try the Supreme Court's nine members for their controversial decision to release former President Carlos Menem from house detention. 

White House spoof
really clever humor

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

OK, all you U.S. citizens, straighten up. Suck in that stomach. Dress up that line.

Now your government means business as it separates the Real Patriots from the leftist, alien threats to the American Way of Life. And the U.S. attorney general is well on the way to integrating Christian prayer into all aspects of U.S. life. That’s why there is now a cabinet-level Department of Faith and a presidential prayer squad to protect the country from liberals.

Or at least that’s what you will think when you sign on to www.whitehouse.org, a clever parody of the real White House web page, www.whitehouse.gov, not to be confused with the porno site with yet another similar name.

We dare you, Republican, Democrat, independent or whatever, to sign on to www.whitehouse.org and not laugh.

Guatemala travel
promoted by United

United Airlines is offering a special tourism package for Guatemala. 

According to Reiner Vindas, sales manager for the airline in Costa Rica, those who get tickets can travel any day of the week during March, May, September and December. Other months, the passengers can only fly on weekends.

The $277-per-person package "¡Viva Guatemala!" includes roundtrip air ticket, exit tax, transportation to and from a hotel, lodging for two nights and three days. The normal price would be about $429 plus taxes, said the airline. 

Participating hotels are Conquistador Ramada, Holiday Inn, Hotel Antigua, Hyatt Regency, Intercontinental Las Farolas, Marriott, Princess Reforma, Quinta Real, Radisson Hotel & Suites, Villa Antigua and Westin Camino Real, according to the announcement.

The airline and the Guatemalan Tourist Institute soon will be hosting a travel fair at a local hotel to promote the trip, said the airline.

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