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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Feb. 8, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 28
Jo Stuart
About us
Elderly U.S. citizen
died for his VCR

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 67-year-old man identified as a U.S. citizen died after someone stabbed him in his home, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Investigators said that the manís VCR was missing, and they assumed that the motive for the murder was robbery.

They identified the man by the last name of Carter. They said the incident happened in the dwelling located in Charcarita 3 in Puntarenas about 11 p.m. Wednesday night.

Carter was found with two knife wounds, one in the chest and one in the back, investigators said. The man died while he was being transported to Hospital Monseñor Sanabria.
Stumbo's ex-wfe 
breaks silence
on child custody case

See story HERE

Shelter calls Sunday
'Pet Adoption Day'

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sunday is the day when you can find a pet at the Coronado Shelter. The Asociacion Nacional Protectora de Animales is holding a pet adoption day, and more than 250 dogs and cats of all sizes, colors and temperament are available for adoption. 

The lives of these animals have been full of disappointments but all they need is a home full of love and care, said Roland Shanklin, a volunteer at the shelter.

"You can save an animal from the life of loneliness and sadness," he said.  "Please come and check us out.  We can help you find your perfect match.  These animals have love and pleasure to give us.  Give yourself a gift of their devotion."

The shelter, El Albergue de Animales Abandonados en Coronado, will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Coronado is north and east of San José. To get to the shelter once in Coronado: From El Instituto Clodomiro Picado en Coronado (where they make serum for snake bites), approximately 800 meters west, continuing down the hill, turn right at "Cantina La Amistad".  Go 500 meters north and as soon as you cross the small, narrow bridge, immediately turn right onto a small dead-end street.  Go 100 meters, park, then walk up the alley and enter the green gate on the right.

For more information please call ANPA at 255-3757 (Spanish) or Shanklin (English) at 296-6356 or 394-0722

Shanklin said that shelter workers would love to see visitors even if the visitors are unable to adopt a pet. Most of the animals, he said are spayed or neutered. Those who adopt puppies or kittens get a certificate for a neutering operation when the animal is old enough, he said. The shelter asks for a donation when someone adopts a pet, although the amount is highly variable, said Shanklin.

The bulk of the animals are in good condition, he said. The shelter is forced to eliminate animals that are in bad condition. For those who cannot make the event Sunday, the invitation is an open one, he said.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bush headed south
to El Salvador, Peru

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó A White House official says President Bush will travel to Peru and El Salvador next month to discuss the war against terrorism and efforts to stop drug trafficking. 

Spokesman Ari Fleischer says President Bush will visit Lima, Peru, on March 23 and San Salvador on the 24, following a visit to Monterrey, Mexico. 

The spokesman says the president will hold talks with his Peruvian counterpart, Alejandro Toledo, on terrorism and drug trafficking as well as efforts to strengthen hemispheric democracy and free trade. While in El Salvador, President Bush is expected to meet with President Francisco Flores to discuss a proposed Central American free trade agreement. 

The spokesman also indicated President Bush may hold a broader meeting with Central American leaders while in the region. Last month, President Bush said he wanted to expand hemispheric trade and explore the possibility of a Central American free trade agreement. 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

Election Day in the Civilized 
'Third World'

As I write this, today, Sunday, Feb.3, it is Election Day in Costa Rica. It is always on Sunday so that everyone can vote, and since people must vote in their own province, it is also a reunion day for families and old friends. To make it even easier, free transportation is offered so that people can go home. To insure clear-headed voting, liquor is not sold from Friday night until Monday morning.

I have been watching TV only periodically this Sunday, mainly to get glimpses of the different provinces around the country. The weather is beautiful everywhere. I decide to walk downtown during the last hour of voting, while it is still light. On my way, I ask some men sitting on the front steps of a house if they know who is winning. No, they say, they wonít know until 9 p.m. tonight. There will be no winner until all the provinces are heard from.

There are something like 13 candidates representing every party and philosophy you can imagine from Libertarian to Communist. According to my neighbor, Darrylle, there is even one candidate who is running on a platform of change, just change, with the philosophy that anything is better than what they have. 

The three main candidates are Abel Pacheco, Rolando Araya and Ottón Solís. The only one I have met is  Solís who left the Partido Liberacion Nacional and is now heading a new party, the Partido Accion Ciudadana. He is running on an anti-corruption platform (in fact, everyone is running on an anti-corruption platform, to some extent). I heard him speak at a luncheon I attended some months ago. He was eloquent and idealistic. He has a Ph.D. in economics. He said that if corruption is not stopped, the people of Costa Rica are going to vote in a dictator. Many of us were impressed, and I even thought that he might have a chance. 

On my way downtown I walk past the three justice buildings and notice how clean the streets are. They are spotless, swept clean even before the new broom has been elected. I notice the cleanliness and the noise. The noise is coming from the cars, sometimes alone, sometimes in caravans, displaying the different flags representing their parties and honking their horns. The flags, they can use every year, unlike placards and leaflets. 

I decide to go via the new esplanade between the National Park and the courts. It is most pleasant ó another three or four blocks for pedestrians only. The houses and other buildings along the way all look newly painted and for some reason the district makes me think of England. 

Once again on a trafficked street, the cars and flags and horns are celebrating. Everybody is waving at everybody. 

There seem to be a lot of yellow and orange flags so I ask two young women, also on their way to town, which party they represent. (I really already know, I just what to start a conversation.) They tell me it is the party of Ottón Solís. "There are a lot of them," I remark. "Yes," they smile. "Maybe weíll win." 

Once downtown I find a table at the News Café (and wonder if I am going to make this my hangout. I find a table on the low balcony that juts out onto Avenida Central, the walking mall, and is the closest thing to a sidewalk café I can find.) It is quite pleasant sitting there with my notebook. 

It has been years since I have written anything in a sidewalk café. I decide Iíll have a cappuccino, but nobody comes to take my order. Finally, I call a waiter over and ask him the names of the three parties. He doesnít know. I show him I am shocked. He smiles and placates me by saying he is not Tico, he is Colombian, and he goes off to ask another waiter. I get the information, but forget to ask for a cappuccino, and no one asks. 

I stay downtown until after dark, then find the beautiful breezy day has turned quite chilly, the breeze has turned into a wind with an icy edge. 

I walk to three different corners, even the corner across from the Del Rey Hotel. There are always taxis there. But there are few now, and those few prefer to take the Gringos and their young new acquaintances. 

Finally I am on Second Avenue and have just seen my bus leave. I wave a taxi just as three young men do. The taxista signals them he is picking me up. I apologize to them and thank him profusely. 

As we ride along I ask him who has won the election. He says Pacheco is in the lead, but there will have to be a runoff. "In Costa Rica," he says, "We donít lean toward the left or the right; we go down the middle." We donít have an army, we donít fight wars, instead we plant beans and rice and live in peace." It sounds good to me.

When I get home I turn on the TV. Pacheco, the most grandfatherly of the three front runners (and who is also a psychiatrist) is speaking, explaining to his cheering supporters that there will be a runoff because he won just under 39 percent of the vote and the law says the winner must garner at least 40 percent. Solís got 26 percent. Pacheco urges his followers to go out and vote when the time comes. Once over 90 percent of the voting population voted. In recent years the number has been dropping.

In answer to some question I donít hear, he says, "Costarricenses hacen todo con gusto." ("Costa Ricans do everything willingly and with pleasure" is my translation.) Yes, you do, I think, and you do it with considerable grace and good sense too.

I turn off the TV and have a thought I often have: The best thing Costa Rica has to offer the world is its own example.

You can find more of Jo Stuart HERE

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Stumbo's ex-wife breaks silence on custody case
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

The Tica ex-wife of Ralph Stumbo broke her silence Thursday about the circumstances under which she brought the coupleís 3  1/2-year-old son to Costa Rica.

She said that she was advised to do just that by a worker in the legal aid office in Naples, Fla., where she had been living. She also said that she never had been notified of subsequent divorce hearings that resulted in a Florida judge giving full custody of the boy, Marco, to her ex-husband.

She also said she left Florida because her mother-in-law ordered her out of the apartment in which she, her husband and son had been living after the husband was jailed on her domestic violence abuse complaint. She left Florida because she had nowhere else to go except a womenís shelter, she said.

The case has gotten publicity in both countries because the situation appears to be a case of parental child abduction, which is a crime in the United States. The ex-wife, Flor María Gaitán Tejada, spoke in flawless English with a reporter at a Central Valley location on the condition that he not disclose where she was working. 

Other stories on this case:

Jan. 7:
Personal woes lead to his effort to help other men

Jan. 17:
U.S. citizen seeking his son files court papers here

Jan. 23:
Organization for men getting a lot of interest, founder says

Feb. 1:
Child abduction case is putting embassy on the spot

Feb. 6:
More child abductions still open in Costa Rica

She also revealed that she had met with Stumbo Sunday and allowed him to chat with his son for about a half hour in a McDonaldís Restaurant at a metropolitan area mall. The child has been living with her and her family.

Stumbo went public with the case Jan. 6, three days after he was granted an uncontested divorce by a judge in Naples, Fla. He said he wanted to get back his child but also wanted to start an organization that would help men fight what he characterized as the orientation of Costa Rican family law that favors women.

A key issue is under what circumstances the wife left Florida with the boy. Stumbo has a copy of an order that says the child may not be removed from the jurisdiction of the court. However, Ms. Gaitán said she never was served with that order.

Because she would not speak to reporters here or in the United States, her version of the situation has 

not been published. The divorce and decree grant Stumbo full custody of the boy and also requires Ms. Gaitán to pay $218 a month in child support. The judgeís order says that she refused notices sent by Federal Express twice and that Stumbo contacted her household three times to tell her about the Jan. 3 divorce hearing.

The hearing was conducted in part by telephone from the U.S. Embassy as Stumbo cannot leave Costa Rica because he owes his wife support money under an earlier Costa Rican judicial order. Ms. Gaitán was not represented in the hearing.

Ms. Gaitán denies that she ever received official notice of the Florida divorce hearing and said that she was seeking a lawyer in Florida to help her reopen the divorce case.

The legal situation is complex. Stumbo has lived here for 10 years off an on. But the boy was born in Texas when the couple lived there. Later they returned to Costa Rica where Ms. Gaitán obtained a legal separation in an Heredia court. The couple was attempting a reconciliation when Stumbo, his wife and son moved to Florida.

On July 27 Ms. Gaitán called deputies in Florida to complain that Stumbo hit her, and deputies put Stumbo in jail. Stumbo denies hitting his wife. She said Thursday that he did. Stumbo left jail Sunday, July 28, but was under a judicial order not to see his wife.

Ms. Gaitán said she went to court that Monday, July 30, and met with a number of officials and workers. One she identified as Penny Packerd in the county legal aid office told her that because she had an open case in the Heredia court she would be better off returning to Costa Rica, Ms. Gaitán said Thursday.

On July 30 she said she had to move to a womenís shelter with the boy because Stumboís mother who also lives in the Naples area asked her to leave the apartment. The mother has a lease or ownership interest in the apartment. From the shelter she made the airplane reservations that took her and the boy back to Costa Rica the next day, she said.

Subsequent telephone calls from Costa Rica to the legal aid workers have not helped Ms. Gaitán. She said she is ineligible for a free lawyer there because she no longer lives in the shelter.

The situation of Stumbo and his wife normally would be not a major newspaper story, except that the case is emerging as a test of Costa Ricaís relationship with the rest of the world. U.S. Embassy workers have said there is an undisclosed number of similar cases where U.S. citizens are fighting for custody of their Costa Rican-American children.

For Ms. Gaitán, the situation is strictly personal. She needs a lawyer but "I donít have that kind of money to get a lawyer in the States," she said. She will continue her efforts in a court in Heredia where Stumbo was to file a certified copy of the Florida decree with the expectation that the Costa Rican court will hand over his son to him.

Meanwhile, the domestic abuse case in Florida was dropped for lack of evidence when Ms. Gaitán did not appear to testify.

Patricia Martin contributed to this story.

Coffee bean plague held to 2 percent of acreage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Insect infestation of coffee plantations has been held to just 2 percent of the countryís production, and agricultural officials are working to find biological controls, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Thursday.

The ministry said that scientists from Taiwan have visited the country to give advice and technical assistance about biological methods.

Costa Rica has about 115,000 hectares (284,000 acres) in coffee, and although the average world prices are lower than Costa Rica can grow the product, this nationís crop usually gets premium prices. Of that land, some 2 percent is infected with the coffee bean borer, which lays eggs in the coffee fruit. The eggs develop into larvae that eat parts of the bean, generally diminish the quality and sometimes make the bean fall to the ground.

The ministry said that the number of locations with 

the disease grew from 120 to 139 by January. The estimated 2,000 infected hectares (about 4,950 acres)  are all in the Central Valley, mainly in Naranjo, Grecia, Puriscal, Tres Rios and Heredia.

In coordination with the producers the work is principally with cultural practices, the ministry said. "We recommend pruning and in some cases the elimination of the coffee plants. Almost 150 hectares (370 acres) of abandoned coffee land have been eliminated."

The best control is not letting a single coffee bean remain on the bushes or on the ground to eliminate development places for the beetle, said the ministry in advice to producers.

The country just got 134 million colons ($390,000) from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to help with control programs. The money is to keep the area south from the Central Valley to Panamá free of the disease, which is believed to have come originally from Nicaragua.

Crowd stops arrest
of critical colonel

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela ó A crowd of Venezuelans has prevented authorities from detaining Air Force Col. Pedro Luis Soto, who hours earlier had called for the resignation of President Hugo Chavez. 

The group thwarted the attempt after officials stopped Col. Soto's vehicle along a Caracas highway late Thursday. News reports say opposition supporters banged pots and pans, chanted and honked car horns as officials attempted to detain Soto. 

The incident came just hours after he called on President Chavez to step down, saying the leader threatened the nation's democracy. 

Soto made the surprise announcement at a forum on freedom of the press. The air force official accused Chavez of ruling like a tyrant. Soto, who was dressed in uniform, said he spoke on behalf of the majority of the members of the Venezuelan armed forces. 

 However, the armed forces chief, Gen. Lucas Rincon, dismissed the claim. The development came one day after the head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, expressed concern over the political conditions in Venezuela. 

Tenet told a U.S. Senate committee that growing discontent over President Chavez's governing style has created what he called a "crisis atmosphere" in Venezuela. 

 President Chavez's popularity has plummeted and his approval rating, once more than 80 percent, is now around 30 percent. 

 U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has criticized Chavez's visits to Iraq and Libya, two countries the U.S. considers sponsors of terrorism. The Venezuelan leader is also a close ally of longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro. 

Chavez has said, however, he is committed to human rights, democracy and a strong relationship with the United States. The left-populist president took office in 1999, promising to root out corruption and alleviate widespread poverty. He has faced significant opposition for his plans to increase government control over the economy.

U.S. population now has
greatest immigrant pool

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó The U.S. Census Bureau reported Thrusday that the number of foreign-born and first generation residents of the United States has reached 56 million, the highest overall number in history, and one likely to grow as new immigrants form families and bear children.

The findings are compiled in the report "Profile of the Foreign-Born Population in the United States: 2000." At 56 million, immigrants and their children comprise 20 percent of the U.S. population. The foreign-born or first generation make up 21 percent of the nation's under-25 age group.

Latin America and Asia are the homelands of 90 percent of these new U.S. residents. More than one quarter of that number are Mexican, the report said.

Flu recommendation
made for next year

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The World Health Organization made its annual recommendation Wednesday on the types of influenza vaccine that pharmaceutical companies should develop for the upcoming year to best limit the millions of flu cases that affect people in the Northern Hemisphere each winter season.

The organization strongly recommends vaccination against the flu, which infects as many as 100 million people during each season. While most healthy people are able to recover from the flu with only a few days discomfort and rest, the international health agency warns of the disease's potentially fatal consequences for the elderly or individuals with weak immune systems.

A strain of influenza called the Spanish flu caused the most deadly outbreak of an infectious disease in the last century when about 40 million people died in 1918-19. Further information about influenza and vaccination programs is available at http://www.who.int/emc/diseases/flu/index.html

U.S. House passes
anti-hacker bill

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation Thursday that would provide $878 million over five years to fund research among colleges, universities and research organizations to develop ways to protect the nation's computer networks from attack by terrorists and hackers.

"A cyber attack could knock out electricity, drinking water and sewage systems, financial institutions, assembly lines and communications," House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican, said.

The House voted 400-12 for the "Cyber Security Research and Development Act," which now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. The legislation creates research grants at the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to enhance computer security.

Colombian journalists
face open season

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó Ongoing terrorist attacks against journalists in Colombia "disregard and threaten" the right to free expression in the Americas, says Cesar Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States.

Gaviria said the recent assassinations of journalists Orlando Sierra and Marco Antonio Ayala, and the bombing of the Caracol news network, "demonstrate the kind of barbarism" that violent groups "have unleashed on Colombia's media." Gaviria said "these intimidatory tactics violate the human rights of the victims and citizens alike," and also "threaten freedom of the press and freedom of expression."

In the latest attack on a journalist in Colombia, deputy editor Orlando Sierra of the newspaper La Patria, based in the city of Manizales, died Feb. 1 after gunmen shot him twice in the head and once in the abdomen. 

Sierra was known for writing columns about abuses committed by leftist guerrilla groups and right-wing paramilitaries. News reports said Sierra's two suspected killers had been captured.

At least 10 reporters were killed in Colombia in 2001, in attacks mainly blamed on the paramilitaries or leftist guerrillas. Dozens of Colombian journalists have fled their country in the last few years, after receiving death threats from groups engaged in terror attacks.

Horseshoe pitch
to be ready soon

Construction began on the first two horseshoe courts at the Bougainvillea Hotel in Santo Domingo de Heredia Monday. 

The courts are being constructed professionally
by the staff of the Bougainvillea Hotel. Play might start by Feb. 15.

A hotel representative is in the United States now and will bring back several pair of regulation shoes by early next week, said a release. Attention is being paid to all details so that one day soon, the hotel can host an international tournament. The courts will be lighted. They are near the barbeque house, so there are bathrooms and comfortable seating for all.

Tom Jafek, one of the organizers, said he is anxious to hear from his first opponent. "Letís set a date for our first competition. We will be planning some events as soon as the courts are ready," he said

Jafek can be reached at 395 7753 cell and 244 3408.

Bandits hold up school
and take enrollment cash

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three bandits held up a school about 12:45 p.m. Thursday and made off with about 500,000 colons (about $1,450). The three robbers were dressed in black, wore masks and  carried handguns, according to investigators.

The money was from the fees students had paid at the Liceo Roberto Gamboa in San Rafael Abajo de Desamparados, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

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