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These stories wre published Thursday, March 28, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 62
Jo Stuart
About us
Woman killed in U.S. citizen's Los Arcos home
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men murdered his young companion and then beat up a U.S. citizen in the Los Arcos residential subdivision Tuesday, according to police.

The dead woman is Maria Magdalena Luriano, 26, a citizen of the Dominican Republic. Her body was found in a home occupied by Eldredge Suggs, 72, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Suggs told police that he was out playing golf and when he returned home about midday Tuesday he was confronted by two men who hit him in the head and put him in handcuffs. 

The intruders then took a number of items in 

the dwelling, including appliances, and a four-door, blue BMW parked outside, police said they were told.

Investigators do not know exactly how the woman died. Her body was found in a sauna in the home. She had a wound to the head, investigators said.

Suggs went to Hospital CIMA in Escazú and then went home. A spokesman for the Judicial Investigating Organization said agents hope to interview him today. He did not report the robbery until about 11 to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night because he was in a dazed state, agents said.

The woman’s body will be subjected to an autopsy to determine the cause of death. 

Action movie with expat extras wraps up
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A motion picture produced and directed by an American husband and wife team finished shooting last Friday. Among the extras in the adventure film were local expats, including members of the Little Theatre Group.

The film is TropiX, and Percy Angress and his wife Livia Linden were co-producers and directors. They characterized the story line in a message to supporters this way: "scams, survival and seduction set against the beaches and jungles of Costa Rica."

With the raw 35 mm. film all shot and developed, the couple will begin a two- to three month project of editing their efforts down to what viewers may someday see on the screen or on television.

"We’re really happy with the results," Angress said this week.

A lot of the action was set at the Los Sueños Beach and Golf Resort at Herradura Beach, which was supposed to be a recovery center for plastic surgeon patients, a medical specialty for which Costa Rica is famous.

A number of Little Theater group members donned bandages to play surgery patients. Others played in various other scenes as shooting was done at a number of other locations in Costa Rica, where the producers live. About 12 to 15 residents of Costa Rica also invested in the film, said Angress. Some purchased fractional shares of the financial offering so they could be a party to the local movie effort.

Some scenes were shot in Manuel Antonio National Park.

Angress said that he was using computer technology to edit the raw takes of the film. Time was when the cutting room actually was a place where strips of film were cut and pasted together.

Now, Angress said, he will be using a Macintosh G4 computer with special software 

Photo by Dominic Forbes
Percy Angress and his wife Livia Linden are deep in thought about a scene from TropiX while cinematographer Luc Nicknair studies what the final version may be by using a director’s lens that mimics the eye of a camera.

that allows him to feed in a video format of the film. The cuts and final sequences are 
arranged with the smaller format. When finished the computer will actually edit the 35 mm. version according to the way the video format has been edited.

The film did not take long by Hollywood standards. Shooting began Feb. 18. At the same time, another production company was filming Spy Kids II in Costa Rica, including at Manuel Antonio, said Angress. Dimension Films plans an Aug. 7 release of that sequel.

The locally produced film, TropiX, did not have any name actors or actresses as leads, and the producers were expected to meet a budget of about $365,000, according to financial documents provided to investors.

Some Little Theater members who participated in the filming said they had a great time and learned a lot.

Jo tells why she decided to move to Costa Rica
I recently heard about a new book recommending the 20 best countries in the world in which to retire. That must have been fun for the author to research. Many years ago I read "Bargain Paradises of the World" when I was looking for some place where my young family and I could live while my husband wrote full-time. I chose Majorca, Spain. Today I doubt that I could live in Majorca.

I investigated only two countries before I retired. At the insistence of a friend who was living there, I first went to Chapala, Mexico, to see what that was like. The climate was nice. The produce in the local markets looked awful to me. We had to wash it in disinfectant, and each time I washed vegetables, I thought of a dear friend who died of amoebic dysentery in Mexico. I have always felt an underlying violence in Mexico. I was not comfortable there.

I never read a book or an article on Costa Rica. Instead I visited the country three times to see if I could live here. I remember my first visit, driving into the city from the airport, looking at the view and feeling the air. Without having talked to anyone except the taxi driver, I thought: "I could live here." As you can see, this was not a decision based upon much research.

On my second visit, I stayed in Escazu for a week or so. On my last day I was walking up the road to catch a bus when I saw a young woman come out of a house, turn back to the lady inside and say, "I’ll see you next week." I stood in the middle of the road bracing myself against the wave of envy that washed over me. I won’t be here next week, I thought. I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what the rest of that young woman’s life was, but I was ready to trade places. That’s when I knew I would settle in Costa Rica. 

What I have just said would in no way convince anyone who asks, why I chose Costa Rica. So I have other reasons. 

First of all, I knew I was going to live abroad when I retired. I couldn’t afford to live in a U.S. city, and, secondly, I have always felt that change was a life-extender (at least, it takes 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

longer to tell the story of your life than it would if you stayed in the same place). 

Learning to adapt to something new renews us. And if the truth be said, I was still suffering from reverse culture shock after my return from Majorca 30 years before. I had become a recycler, a make-doer, a small-and-simple-is-better 
person, and that is not always easy in the States. In Costa Rica one can practice all of these habits. 

Of course, a prime attraction was the fact that Costa Rica has no army and over the years has developed a peace mentality. I have always felt that war was not the long-term answer to anything, and even short-term created more problems than it solved. The main thing that war accomplishes is to destroy families. 

Family is very important in Costa Rica. Perhaps that is really why they abolished their army and the possibility of war. Some American friends have responded that Costa Rica doesn’t need an army because the United States would come to its rescue and defend it. My response is that in Costa Rica the money that would have been spent on weapons went towards education and medical services, so who is the more advanced country? 

However, everything has a downside, and the downside of "peace at any price" seems to be a character trait known as passive-aggressive. That is when someone will not confront you head-on, but will get back at you in a roundabout way. Compared to the downside of a competitive freedom-first people which is aggressive-aggressive (shoot first, ask 
questions later), I’ll take the former. In the United States there seems always to have to be a loser. Here, most people work for a win-win situation. I can live comfortably with that as I learn daily to adapt. 

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El Salvador still groans under effects of earthquake
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On Jan. 13, 2001, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale shook the small Central American nation of El Salvador, killing more than 800 people. Most victims were buried under a massive landslide in a housing development called "Las Colinas" in the Santa Tecla community near the capital of San Salvador. Fourteen months later survivors continue to struggle to rebuild their lives.

Workers are busy repairing and rebuilding homes on the periphery of the two-block-wide area that was swept away by the landslide, but most of the area remains a wasteland. Here and there, there are patches of white lime thrown on the ground to reduce the possibility of disease and to suppress the foul smell from decomposing bodies and body parts still trapped underneath the earth. 

There are also makeshift monuments, some with the names of victims who died there and some with simply bunches of flowers drying in the intense heat.

Alejandro Flores, a civil engineer, is supervising the work on his house. The landslide swept away the front of his home and buried most of his neighbors. He has spent his own money from savings to carry out the reconstruction. He says the government has declared the Las Colinas area a risky place for construction, so banks will not give loans to people wanting to rebuild here.

Up the street, community leader David Valera Chavez works in the modest home he recently rebuilt. He lost his wife and a daughter in the disaster, but chose to remain here because it is his home. He says he used up all the savings he had put away for retirement to rebuild. He says the government has a responsibility to help people.

He says he never would have moved here if he had known of the risk. He says he liked living below a hill with trees and birds singing. According to Valera Chavez there were studies dating back to 1994 indicating that deforestation and 
constructions on the hill overlooking Las Colinas 

presented a risk, but the government provided no warning.

To make matters worse, he says he and other residents are still making mortgage payments to a government program that lent them money to buy their houses. In some cases, he says, people whose houses were completely destroyed are still obligated to pay.

A recent ruling by El Salvador's Supreme Court makes it difficult for survivors of the landslide to make claims for assistance. The court ruled that only direct victims could demand compensation, but, as Valera Chavez notes, the victims are all dead. He says insurance payments have also been of little help since they typically have paid only about 10 percent of the total cost of the house that was destroyed. 

Looking out his front door, Varela Chavez surveys the bleak emptiness of the devastated swath of land where the landslide fell. He sees a small bunch of flowers that he put out in remembrance of his lost loved ones. 

The government of President Francisco Flores has provided temporary housing and other assistance to earthquake victims, but officials say the massive destruction overwhelmed the nation's meager social assistance capabilities.

The earthquake in January, 2001 and another one a month later left more than 1,000 people dead and more than 20 percent of the country's six million inhabitants homeless. The country suffered about $2 billion in total damage.

The Salvadoran government has used nearly $400 million in foreign assistance to repair and restore infrastructure and to provide housing. The government has also put emphasis on repairing schools damaged by the quakes. 

But because El Salvador is a poor nation with few resources of its own to devote to recovery, the effects of last year's disasters are likely to be felt here for many years to come. 

U.S. issues warning
for visitors to Italy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. State Department is warning that Americans traveling in four Italian cities this Easter Sunday could be targeted by extremist groups. 

After the warning was issued Wednesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell urged U.S. citizens in Italy to take it seriously and exercise caution. 

The State Department says Americans in Venice, Florence, Milan and Verona should avoid large crowds on Sunday, when Christians celebrate their belief in the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. 

U.S. officials did not release the names of the extremist groups. In recent months, Italian authorities have detained several people on suspicion of ties to terrorist groups responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. 

Wednesday's warning by the State Department came just 10 days after it issued a worldwide caution, warning that extremists were planning terrorist attacks against U.S. interests.

Venezuela files
protest over rebels

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — This country has filed a formal protest with Colombia over claims that leftist guerrillas are operating from a base in Venezuelan territory. 

In a statement a week ago, Colombian Gen. Martin Orlando Carreno said Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels, known as FARC, used a base inside Venezuela to lob gas cylinders at his troops. 

Wednesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Luis Alfonso Davila called Gen. Carreno's comment "malicious." He said Colombia cannot claim that one country is the only custodian of common borders, especially when the other country generates violence. 

Gen. Correno spoke March 21 after at least 32 soldiers and leftist guerrillas were killed in heavy fighting near the Venezuelan border. It was the heaviest fighting since peace talks with the FARC collapsed last month. 

Ties between the two Andean neighbors have been strained from time to time by suspicions that Venezuela's left-wing government sympathizes with Colombia's leftist rebels.

U.S. agrees that
El Niño is likely

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations weather agency says the El Niño weather phenomenon, which caused thousands of deaths during its last appearance, could return. 

The U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization in Geneva issued a statement Wednesday saying El Niño-type conditions exist in the eastern Pacific near Latin America, with heavy flooding seen in Peru and Ecuador. 

Other agencies have been saying the same thing for months.

El Niño is described as a disruption of the ocean atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the world. During an El Niño, winds that normally blow east and west over the equator ease, and surface waters in the eastern Pacific warm. 

The warming of the eastern Pacific, coupled with changes in air pressure, alter the course of the upper air jet stream that steers weather movement, resulting in precipitation changes. 

The last El Niño was in 1997-1998 and set off storms, heat waves and floods that killed thousands of people.
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Argentina continues
run on its peso

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Residents  have raced to banks here for the third consecutive day in another frantic bid to convert pesos into U.S. dollars. Large crowds of nervous bank account holders waited in long lines Wednesday as riot police stood guard, watching for signs of trouble. 

Argentines have been flocking to Buenos Aires banks to change money because dollar sales are not permitted outside the metropolitan area at this time.

The run on the banks started after the peso dropped to record lows Monday, trading at four to the dollar — a loss in value of 300 percent since late January. The same day, the government announced new restrictions on currency exchanges.

The panic dollar-buying comes just days before a mission from the International Monetary Fund is due in Buenos Aires for another assessment of the country's financial situation. In December, the IMF refused to extend more than $1 billion in loans to Argentina, saying the government failed to control spending.

The government is seeking upwards of $20 billion in international aid to help revive the economy, which has been in recession nearly four years. 

Wednesday, the Inter-American Development Bank made $694 million available to the government in new loans. Argentina also is in default on $141 billion in public debt and is struggling to contain an unemployment rate that has reached the 20 percent mark.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill told the U.S. television network CNBC he was hopeful Argentina would soon develop an economic reform program that would allow it to receive new IMF loans.

O'Neill also said he stressed that point last week when he met with Argentine Economy Minister Jorge Remes Lenicov during a U.N. summit in Monterrey, Mexico. 

face deportation

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

QUITO, Ecuador — The government says it will immediately deport 14 foreigners who were detained for protesting the construction of an oil pipeline in a nature reserve. Authorities say the protesters were environmental activists who had camped out near the Mindo forest and bird habitat to protest the pipeline's planned route through the forest. 

According to the authorities, the protesters failed to respect property rights. The environmentalists told the French news agency they simply were protecting the environment. 

The pipeline would transport crude oil from Ecuador's oil-rich Amazon jungle to the Pacific Ocean. The government considers this a major investment that will help the Andean nation's economy. 

OAS names Peruvian
to panel on rights

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Organization of American States has unanimously elected a Peruvian educator and journalist to serve on its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

The OAS announced Wednesday that Susana Villaran de la Puente will join the commission and replace Diego Garcia Sayan, Peru's foreign affairs minister. 

Peruvian Ambassador Eduardo Ferrero Costa says Ms. Villaran de la Puente's selection shows the OAS acknowledges Peru's commitment to promoting and protecting human rights and democracy. 

Ms. Villaran de la Puente served in the government of interim Peruvian President Valentin Paniagua. She will be on the human rights commission for the next four years.
No newspaper Friday

A.M. Costa Rica will observe the Good Friday holiday here in Costa Rica by not publishing tomorrow. This is one of the three weekdays each year that the paper does not publish.

We hope that our readers will take advantage of this time to check out the travel articles and the extensive listing of preserved archive pages. 

Others are taking the day off, too. The U.S. Embassy is closed today and tomorrow. Supermarkets will work limited hours over the Easter weekend.

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
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