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(506) 223-1327        Published Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 29          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Campaign insiders told the winner is Arias
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Political party leaders had a quick briefing Tuesday night at the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones. Supporters of Óscar Arias Sánchez emerged happy. Supporters of Ottón Solís emerged glum.

One Liberación Nacional official, Francisco Pacheco Fernández, said that investors and North Americans will be happy with the election outcome. Another said that the margin of victory by Arias appears to be more than 10,000 votes

The party leaders were coy because the Tribunal has insisted that neither party proclaim victory. However, the party leaders said they expect the initial count of all the polling places to be completed and reported to the public today.

Partial results from Sunday's election gave a slight advantage for Arias, some 3,943 votes out of 1,459,843 cast. Arias, the Liberación candidate, had 617,593 votes to 613,650 won by Solís of the Partido Acción Ciudadana. The totals represent reports from about 93 percent of the nation's 6,163 polling places.

The Tribunal has started a comprehensive

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Liberation officials, including Kevin Casas, middle, the party's second vice presidential candidate, are on the phones after a meeeting at the Tribunal de Elecciones.

hand count of ballots from each polling place and stopped issuing preliminary figures Tuesday. Totals reported here Wednesday were incorrect by some 765 votes because workers counted results from four polling places twice.
Election officials promised to release the final totals of the preliminary count Wednesday night, but Tribunal officials met with party officials instead.

This year will see two historical anniversaries
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This is a year of history for Costa Rica. 2006 marks the 150th anniversary of the nation's entry into the successful war against William Walker.

The year also is the 100th anniversary of the birth of José Figueres Ferrer, the founder of the modern Costa Rican state.

A series of celebrations will mark the year. The first is Saturday when the Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres Ferrer in San Ramon de Alajuela kicks off an agenda of events that culminate on the former president's birthday Sept. 25.

Several days linked to events surrounding the fight against Walker and the North American filibusterers are marked each year. The first is the Battle of Santa Rosa in which the Costa Rican army, led by President Juan Rafael Mora, defeated an invading Nicaraguan unit loyal to Walker.

A more decisive confrontation, the Battle of Rivas in Nicaragua, is commemorated with a national holiday every April 11. This is the battle where Juan Santamaría of Alajuela, a foot soldier, sacrificed his life to set fire to a strong point from where Costa Rican troops were being swept by enemy fire. The defeat of Walker's main army led to his retreat. He eventually surrendered on a later foray into Honduras and was executed there.

The U.S. historian Robert May will be here at the Universidad de Costa Rica and at the Museo Juan Santamaría from March 14 to
March 17. He also will participate in a round table at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto as well as a video conference.

May, who is from Purdue University in Indiana, is an expert on filibusterers and  "manifest destiny," the philosophy that God wants the United States to extends its control over other lands.

A filibuster is a form of pirate who invades foreign lands for the purpose of private gain.  In addition to this goal, Walker, who named himself president of Nicaragua, was a Southerner who supported slavery.

Historians are divided as to whether Walker was anxious to extend slavery as practiced in the U.S. South or if the slavery issue was used strategically. Walker certainly wanted to control the five countries of Central America. May has researched and written about the activities of the filibusterers before the U.S. Civil War.

The long-running celebration of Figueres' legacy will begin at 4 p.m. Saturday with a talk by Guido Sáenz González on the education and culture of Don Pepe, as Figueres was known. Sáenz, like many Costa Ricans, knew Figueres personally. "I have the privilege of being his friend," he said.

Figueres was the man who led the winning side of the 1948 revolution against President Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia.  He was three times president of the country. He is credited with setting up the state of social rights for Costa Ricans and for abolishing the army, which opposed him in the revolution.

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Our readers' opinions
Rumsfeld should look
at his own administration

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is a piece of work. He is “worried” about Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales. Maybe he just forgot to mention Michele Bachelet, the new socialist president of Chile. I'm sure he worried about her too.  All three of these presidents were democratically elected, but that doesn’t count. Rummy distinguishes between being merely democratically elected and then “consolidating power,” just like Hitler.

Of course, the Bush administration is rapidly consolidating presidential power in undemocratic, anti-Constitutional ways. Bush and his fellow ideologues believe in the “unitary powers” of the president and that the president can break the laws of the United States at will.

So when Rumsfeld spoke of democratically elected presidents usurping power, I thought he might be referring to the regime he is a part of as well. But that’s impossible, because Bush was not democratically elected. He was appointed by his friends on the Supreme Court for his first term. His second term was likely the result of vote fraud using hacked voting machines. But even if it wasn’t, he has consolidated power by having a weak and compliant Republican-controlled Congress, and, of course, a conservative Supreme Court that appointed him in the first place.

So maybe Rumsfeld is a bit dense on historical irony. But what should be worrisome to Latin Americans is the belligerent tone of the Bush administration. Does anyone doubt that there are plans on someone’s desk in the Pentagon for a pre-emptive strike on the populist leaders in Chile, Venezuela, and Bolivia. Let’s throw in Nicaragua too, if the Sandinistas ever win. It has happened repeatedly in Latin America and could happen in the next three years, unless of course, a democratically elected president takes office in the U.S. and adheres to the Constitution of the United States and the laws of the land.

Stephen Duplantier
San Juan, Alajuela

He disputes concept
of consumption by rich

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Walter Fila’s proposal to prohibit remittances (presumably to Mexico but possibly also to other Central American countries which are sources of illegal immigrants) would certainly discourage a great part of immigration both legal and not, but the rest of his essay is utter nonsense.

Transfers of wealth from the poor to the richer do not create wealth, and they do not increase consumption.  Indeed since the “propensity to consume” (the fraction of the next dollar of one’s income one is likely to spend on consumer goods rather than on savings or investment) tends to fall as one’s income increases, such transfers, on balance, depress consumption.

On the other hand, downward transfers increase the demand for consumer goods at the expense of money available for investment in the means of production of those goods.

And it is investment, not consumption, which makes for economic growth, i.e. The increase of the wealth of an economic system.

The U.S. has no present shortage of demand for consumer goods.  Indeed the latest analyses show that the U.S. population are spending on consumption beyond their incomes by borrowing against their homes in what has been called the “housing bubble” and spending the borrowed money on consumption. The people are, in effect, “consuming their homes.”

The amount of money in circulation is determined by the Federal Reserve Board (”FED”) through its fixing of the discount rate and its open-market operations, both of which affect the price of the government bonds which are used by commercial banks to satisfy their reserve requirements.  (Money is created when the banks buy government bonds or borrow from the FED to add to their reserves, and destroyed when the loans are repaid or when the FED buys back bonds from banks.)  Any effect remittances might otherwise have on the amount of money in circulation is undone by the FED’s execution of its monetary policy.

Bryant Smith
Playa Palo Seco

Roads in south subject
of new road contracts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Now that an extensive drainage system is complete, contractors for the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes will begin the rehabilitation of the roads in the southern part of the country near Pérez Zeledón. 

The work is part of a three-year program to improve the quality of life, the possibility of community development in the rural southern part of the country.  Workers will fix some 1,400 kilometers of roads in 21 cantons with low levels of development, said the public works ministry. 

The ministry will offer contracts to the road Tuesday and hope that work will begin sometime in May, it said.  The ministry is dedicating nearly $4 million to the job that will benefit Abangares, Buenos Aires, Coto Brus, Los Chiles, Nicoya, Pérez Zéledon, Pococí, San Carlos, Santa Cruz, Siquirres and Turrialba as the first part of the program.

In Pérez Zeledón, the program calls for the repaving of six roads: San Gabriel – Santa Lucía, San Gabriel – Santa Cecilia, Aguila Abajo – Delicias, Afombra – Caña Blanca – San Pedro – Cruce and Veracruz – Santa Fé.  The roads have drainage systems in place and now are awaiting the contracts that will allow companies to begin work, the ministry said.  The drainage systems cost nearly $142,000, the ministry said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 29

A reader reports on a new twist
That guy in the car is not a talk show host!

By Shell Johanson*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The recent elections have been on everyone's minds, and the ladrones counted on this to rob me.
On the Panasonic road between Belen and Santa Ana, about 50 meters south of the El Rodeo restaurant, I was about to walk across the road when a golden Hyundai Elantra stopped in front of me.  Inside the car, there was a driver in his early 30s and a couple of people in the back, one of them a woman in her mid-40s, and a third person I didn't get a look at.
Smiling, the driver asked, "Hello, whom did you vote for?"  I replied, "No one, I'm a gringo".  (Conversation all in Spanish.)  He said, "Nevertheless, you are still entitled to a prize.  Have you been watching the Teleton?"  I said. "No."  "This is for you," he said, handing me a package of two Irex dishwashing tub containers. 

"This is also yours," he said, handing me a package of Kellogg's Corn Flakes (there was a sign saying FREE on the package).  "Take those to Felipe there at the rotulo, and he'll give you some more stuff."  "What rotulo are you talking about?"  "That one," pointing.  "Here, jump in and I'll take you there and back."  "OK."  "Slam the door well".
I was looking at my prizes when I noticed that he had driven past any rotulos. "Hey! Where are you going?" 

He pulled over to the side and backed up.  He drove into a small dirt road and said, "He's just over the hill."  I said, "Stop the car right here." and pulled at the door handle several times.  It didn't work.  By then, he had driven a bit further and at the same time closed the window on my side.
Before he stopped the car, someone had put his or her arm around my throat.  The driver said, "Don't move or say anything or we'll put a bullet in your back."  I said "Tranquilo, I'm not going to resist." 

He poked in my pockets, found my wallet, opened it and said, "Where's the money?" 

I said, "Those are just my documents, give it back to me. The money is in my back pocket." 

He returned my wallet (with all my credit cards) and got the money from my back pocket.  "He counted it out loud, "85,000 colons" and handed it over to the person in the back.  "Give me more," he said.  "That's all there is." 

"What's that?" he said, looking at my hand.  "That's my car keys."  He pulled my cell phone from my belt and said, "Give me your watch."
Then, "I'm going to turn the car around. Don't

move or you'll get that bullet in the back."  He proceeded to make a three-way turn on a very tight road.  "What a hell of a way to make a living," I muttered.  "What did you say?" he said threateningly.  Silence.

The car had turned around and he said in parting, "Get out and start walking away from the car for 10 minutes and don't look back or we'll shoot you."  He rolled down the window, reached over and opened the car door using the outside handle.  The person in the back let go my throat.
I exited the car, took five steps as the car drove away, and turned around.  No plates on the back of the car.  Dark tinted windows obscured any possible details.
The driver roared onto the main highway towards Santana and almost caused an accident with oncoming traffic.
Relieved to be unharmed, and still having my credit cards and driver's license, I walked back to my car feeling pretty stupid.
Nearly an hour later, I spotted an identical car parked (with license plates) in Belen.  I jumped out of my car and walked intently around the car, to the consternation of people sitting nearby.  No, it couldn't be this one, it hasn't got tinted windows.  Obviously, there must be a ton of look-alikes around.  Maybe one day I'll get lucky though.  I'll prepare by buying a baseball bat and keeping it in the car from now on.
 So, this is the latest "hook" to get your attention in order to rob you, a question about the recent election.  I thought I'd warn everyone to be careful.

*Mr. Johanson, a Cariari resident, has been in Costa Rica for nine years.    

Russians, Costa Ricans discuss human rights and a common position
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Delegates from Russia met with several Costa Rican diplomats Wednesday to exchange viewpoints about human rights and to discuss the possibility of establishing a common position on the subject.

Costa Rica's delegation was made up of officials from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.  The two sides hashed over the results passed at the last meeting of the Human Rights committee and the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Specifically, the delegates were concerned with how human rights should be handled against terrorists.  They also discussed the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the experience of Costa Rica in the Inter-American Human Rights System among other themes. 

The delegation from Russia included Vladimir A. Párshikov and G.E. Lukyántsev, both from the Department of the Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights as well as the Russian ambassador to Costa Rica, Valery Nikoláyenko, and an adviser.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 29

Battered New Orleans to host Latin investment forum
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The city of New Orleans, showing that it is working hard to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in August, will host a March 28 and 29 forum designed to increase investment and development in Latin America.

Several U.S. officials are scheduled to speak at the forum, which will cover such topics as disaster relief, electricity, oil and gas projects, ports and logistics, tourism, urban mass transit and treating wastewater.

Sponsors for the fourth annual "Latin American Leadership Forum" say the event focuses on developing the region's infrastructure, specifically the 50 "best" projects in Latin America.  The spotlight will be on specific business opportunities and the decision-makers who will make presentations at the forum about those opportunities.  Sponsors of the forum include the World Bank, the Port of South Louisiana, the Bank of Brazil and the World Trade Center of New Orleans.

At the last such leadership forum in March 2005 in
Washington, speakers reported on a natural gas project in Manzanillo, Mexico; a wastewater facility project in Panama City, Panama; expansion projects for ports in Manta, Ecuador, and in Itaqui, Brazil; and a trans-Andean rail project in Chile.

U.S. speakers at the New Orleans event will include John Maisto, the United States' ambassador to the Organization of American States; Robert Mosbacher Jr., chief executive officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corp.; and Linda Conlin, a member of the board of directors for the Export-Import Bank.  Another scheduled speaker is Michael Olivier, Louisiana's secretary of economic development.  He will report on his state's recovery efforts from Katrina and the business and trade opportunities that Louisiana offers for Latin America.

Participants in New Orleans from Latin America will represent the worlds of finance, investment, export promotion and business strategy.

Sponsors also have scheduled a luncheon to discuss recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina by New Orleans and the Gulf region of the United States.

U.S. citizen wearing a chain and crucifixes becomes a target of robbers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three men stuck up a U.S. citizen Wednesday and shot him in the foot before making off with a necklace worth $1,000, said agents with the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The three men confronted Josef Dilello at 
approximately 1 p.m. in Barrio Vasconia, agents said. One of the three men shot the 38-year-old Dilello in the ankle and stole a chain and two crucifixes he was wearing, agents said. 

Dilello was admitted to Clinica Carlos Duran but was transferred to Hospital Calderón Guardia soon after, said a worker at the clinic. 

Exhibitions, video clips and a movie are planned for Saturday downtown
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Several well-known spots around the San José center will hold exhibitions of various art works Saturday. 

The set of exhibitions, “En la Calle,” will showcase several pieces of art at the Banco Central, the boulevard in San José and Parque Central Saturday.

The program, which is scheduled to run from 9:30
a.m. to 3:30 p.m., was organized by the Municipalidad de San José, the French Embassy and the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo. 

Afterwards, at 4 p.m., organizers are planning to show several video clips by such well-known directors as Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Chris Cunningham in the café at the museum.  At 6 p.m., organizers will show the movie “El festín de Babette” at the Centro Nacional de la Cultura north of the center.

Car owner guns down man he thought was stealing from the vehicle
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An attempted car theft in Naranjo in the early hours of Wednesday morning resulted in the death of the suspect when the owner of the car stumbled upon the scene, agents said.

Agents said that 36-year-old Marcos Solano Araya was
acting in a suspicious manner near a vehicle when the owner of the car, a lawyer, shot him with a 22-caliber pistol.  Agents found the key to a Nissan Almera, a car radio, a jacket and other articles scattered around the scene, they said.  Inside the car, the agents found infant clothing,  a DVD player and various computer equipment that had been reported stolen in Palmares, agents said. 

Jo Stuart
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