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These stories were published Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 27
Jo Stuart
About us
and willing

Fifth graders at the Buenaventura Corrales school in downtown San José started school Monday. But the school still does not have a director.

That was one of the many problems confronting educators Monday with nearly a million students showing up for class.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Wednesday is really important to fans here
By Joe Medici
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The final leg of the 2006 World Cup qualifying tournament gets under way Wednesday, when Costa Rica hosts Mexico at 8 p.m. The U.S. team also will play its first game in the final qualification round Wednesday in Trinidad. 

The game will most likely draw large attention from Ticos. Costa Rica’s national team has not played a meaningful game since it tied Honduras to enter the final round. 

The game will be held at Estadio Saprissa in San Juan de Tibás. Fuera Pública officials are already preparing for the large crowds at the game by devoting 500 officers to the stadium and the surrounding area. 

Costa Rica was dealt a blow on Monday, when team members learned they would have to play without key defender Gilberto Martinez. According to the Federación Costarricense de Futbol’s Web site, Martinez strained his thigh during a match with his club team in Italy and will not be available for Wednesday’s match.

Along with the U.S. team, Costa Rica is part of a six-team regional final with other teams from the Caribbean and North and Central America. Costa Rica will play 10 games in the final qualifying round. 

The top three teams in the region will advance to the World Cup and the fourth place team will have a chance to play a home-and-home series against the fifth place team from the Asian regional final.

Big Santa Ana mall has no building permit yet
By Clair-Marie Robertson
of the A.M Costa Rica staff

Mall Sambil, billed as the biggest mall in Central America by its designers, is still awaiting a construction OK. The Muncipalidad of Santa Ana said that an application has still not been made for the  project. 

Land where the mall is to be built is opposite the Forum Business Park in Santa Ana. 

 Mall Sambil is to be a two-level 500,000 square foot shopping complex. It is a joint venture between General Growth Properties Inc, Grupo Sambil, a Venezuelan company, and the Genesis Investment Fund of Costa Rica. The companies formed a joint venture, to develop, own and subsequently manage the $70 million Mall Sambil. General Growth Properties initially invested $9.7 million. 

Rosibel Sibaja, assistant at the department of land control at the municipalidad, said that she is not sure why the Genesis Investment fund has still not applied for the construction permits. "They have completed the land movement, but they have not yet applied for building permits," she said.

When a reporter contacted the Genesis investment Fund, an employee said that the firm is still assessing funds and amassing money for the next stage. "We need to have a look at how much it’s going to cost with all of the increases such as oil prices." 

Funding for the joint venture was expected to come from a combination of capital contributions of the partners and construction financing with the mall. At the beginning of the project, Group Sambil said that the mall would be open at the end of 2005. 

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U.S. again joins group
of coffee producers

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. -? The United States has signed up again as a member of the International Coffee Organization, according to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The organization has undertaken "impressive reforms" to strengthen its market orientation; build programs to help coffee farmers improve quality, efficiency and access to markets; and streamline the global coffee trade, according to the secretary.

The organization came into being in1963 under the auspices of the United Nations. It is the main intergovernmental organization in which producing and consuming countries can discuss issues affecting the coffee industry. 

The United States pulled out of the organization in 1993 citing concerns over the agreement’s quota policies, but announced its intention to rejoin the organization in September 2004.

Monteverde school
again goes walking

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Centro de Educación Creativa will hold its seventh annual caminata to raise scholarship funds for their students Feb. 19 to 20. The center, also known as the Cloud Forest School, is a private school in the Monteverde district. 

The caminata is similar to a walkathon, where members of the community sponsor walkers with donations. 

Last year, the walk was led by the school’s land manager, Milton Brenes, who walked for 24 hours straight. During the event, the school raised $27,000 towards the $90,000 the school provided in scholarship assistance. This year, the schools leaders hope to top that number.

For more information see the school’s Web site HERE. 

Bands are back again
after month vacation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After vacationing during January, the seven national bands will return to their normal concert schedules today. The bands are in each of the provinces of Costa Rica.

The National Band of Alajuela will have concerts Sundays at 10 a.m. and Fridays at 8 p.m. in Parque Tomás Guardia de Alajuela. For more information call 443-1474

The National Band of Guanacaste will have concerts Sundays and Fridays at 7 p.m. in Parque de Liberia. For more information call 666-4297

The National Band of Limón will have concerts Fridays at 3 p.m. in Boulevard. For more information call 758-5125

The National Band of Puntarenas will have concerts Sundays at 10 a.m. and Fridays at 6 p.m. in Plaza de las Artesanías. For more information call 661-2654

The National Band of San José will have concerts Sundays at 10 a.m. and Fridays at noon in Parque Central. For more information call 256-5580

The National Band of Heredia will have concerts Sundays at 10 a.m. and Fridays at 7 p.m. in Parque Central. For more information call 260-3092

The National Band of Cartago will have concerts Sundays at 10 a.m. and Fridays at 5:30 p.m. in Plaza Mayor. For more information call 260-3092

Parts of pimping trial
may be closed to public

By the A.M. Costa Rica

The judiciary says that parts of the trial of Sinai Monge Muñoz may be closed to the public.

The Poder Judicial press office said that in an e-mail to media outlets Monday.

Ms. Monge is the women prosecutors claim led a prostitution ring catering to important Costa Ricans and rich expats. They claim that she marketed minors to her customers.

The trial starts today before three judges, but the Oficina de Defensa Civil de la Víctima warns that there are situations when the lead judge ought to close the courtroom. One such situation is when sexual activity involving minors is discussed.

The minors are considered victims in this case.

The penal code allows this but also provides that the courtroom may be closed to avoid intrusion into someone’s private life or if state secrets might be jeopardized.

The lead judge is supposed to brief the spectators in general terms  about what happened in private session when the courtroom is again open.

The session will be held in Sala 9 of the Tribunales de Justicia de San José starting at 8:30 a.m. The trial is expected to last a month.

Foreign service test set

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Foreign Service written exam will be given at the U.S. Embassy April 23. The test, directed by the State Department, is required for all U.S. citizens seeking to work as a foreign service officer.

Registration deadline for the test is March 16. Applicants can pick up registration materials at the embassy or can register online at the department Web site.

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Please use
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Workers building a new hotel just east of Parque Morazán have taken over the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians into the street.

An eight-foot temporary fence when up last week along the heavily traveled Avenida 3.

Workmen made no provision for the many persons who use this main route.


A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

US Airways to start weekend connection to Liberia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff 

The first US Airways flight to Liberia will arrive at Daniel Oduber International Airport Saturday.

The flight will be from Charlotte, North Carolina, and marks the beginning of routine weekend arrivals.

Arrivals will be every Saturday and Sunday at 1:18 pm. Departures will be at 2:20 pm.  Rodrigo Castro Fonseca, the minister of Turismo, and Guillermo Alvarado, the general manager of the Instituto Costarricense de 

Turismo, will be present to welcome the first flight.

US Airways beganwith two weekly flights to Costa Rica in November 2003. These were San José to Charlotte and San José to Philadelphia. At present the airline operates four weekly flights to each of the U.S. cities. 

After Saturday, flights will operate during the week to and from Charlotte and Fort Lauderdale. During the weekends, routes will be open between San José to Philadephia and Liberia to Charlotte. In total, there will be 18 weekly flights to Costa Rica. 

Officials issue warning over the use of green potatoes for consumption
By the A.M Costa Rica staff 

Costa Rican agricultural authorities are alarmed by the amount of complaints recived from potato consumers.  In response, the Programa Nacional de Papa of the Ministerio of Agricultura y Ganaderia has developed a campaign to educate consumers not to eat green potatoes. 

Potatoes that are subjected to direct sunlight experience bio-chemical changes that turn the potato green and make them poisonous to humans. The substance known as "solanina," is created by this chemical change and is resistant to heat, said the ministry. If green potatoes are consumed in large quantities they can produce headaches, stomach aches, diarrhea in extreme cases and can even cause problems during pregnancy, 

The ministry said consumers should throw away green potatoes, warning that cutting away the green part does not get rid of the damaging substance. The ministry said consumers should keep potatoes stored in a dark and ventilated place and not subject them to direct sunlight. 

The Ministry has asked potato producers and sellers to keep the product protected from sunlight and to not sell contaminated wares.

"It is obligatory that all citizens take care of each other, and it is the right of the consumer to buy quality products. Complaints relating to this will be dealt with by the Ministerio de Salud and the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio," said Carlos Alfaro Rodríguez manager of the Programa Nacional de Papa. 

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Early-warning system set up for regional envionmental monitoring
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ? A state-of-the-art environmental monitoring facility in Panama is the first to use NASA Earth science research and space-based observations to give Central American decision-makers early warning about ecological and climatic changes.

According to a NASA press release, the innovative regional monitoring system, developed by NASA scientists, is called the Regional Visualization and Monitoring System for Mesoamerica.

Panamanian President Martin Torrijos and other officials from the U.S. and Central America were on hand last week for the inauguration of the Panamanian system center.

The system features a massive, Web-based data archive of maps and satellite imagery, decision-support tools and interactive visualization capabilities. It is designed to aid government and industry across the seven countries of Central America and southern Mexico.

The system contains user-friendly interactive tools intended to make NASA Earth observations and predictions  readily accessible to any Internet user.

The U.S. National Aeronautic and Space Admininstration devised the system in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development; the World Bank, City of Knowledge of Panama, Water Center for the Humid Tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Central American Commission for Environment and Development and Cable & Wireless Panama.

Tuesday will be the big day for world's largest party — Rio's Carnival
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — One of the world's largest parties, Carnival, is in full swing in the southern Brazilian city.

Tens of thousands of revelers — and spectators — have descended on the city, the heart of Carnival festivities. Carnival is a joyful time celebrated in many predominately Roman Catholic countries that precedes Lent, the somber Christian pre-Easter observance. 

The sounds of samba drums and street parades have filled the streets of several Brazilian cities since Carnival officially opened here Friday.

The largest parades come Tuesday, when dozens of the country's top parade groups send elaborately costumed — or virtually naked — dancers and musicians to perform at Rio's "Sabrodomo."

Organized by Brazil's Samba schools, the groups spend all year preparing and rehearsing for Carnival.

Officials in Rio de Janeiro also spend all year organizing the celebration, which ends in the early hours of Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. This year's Carnival is expected to draw about 770,000 people. 

In the United States, New Orleans' "Mardi Gras" celebration draws thousands every year.

Jo Stuart
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