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These stories were published Monday, March 31, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 63
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Can you make
a photo 
like this?

If so, you should be competing in the A.M. Costa Rica photo contest. We don’t care if you are a professional or an amateur. This is an open competition with five categories, including scenic, like the photo at right.

This photo, taken last week, was by Saray Ramírez Vindas, our top shooter and reporter. She will not be competing because she is the chief judge. The rules are specific and easy to follow. See the rules HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

 
Some 70 million lack access
Lack of safe water a crisis in Latin Americas
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Lack of access to safe drinking water in the Americas is leading to high regional rates of infant mortality and malnutrition, says a United Nations health agency.

More than 70 million people in the Americas still lack easy access to drinking water, says the Pan American Health Organization, adding that 90 million people in the region do not have basic sanitation and 194 million live in homes connected to sewage systems that are not treated for bacteria.

Access to drinking water is fundamental to child health, the agency said. The probability of diarrhea in children under 5 years old, one of the principal causes of infant mortality and malnutrition in the Americas, is inversely proportional to the availability of drinking wate, the agency said, adding that. the region needs $220 million to meet the cumulative deficit in sanitary infrastructure.

For its part, the United States is working to provide access to clean water and sanitation 

services for poor people in the Americas and elsewhere. For instance, the United States has launched the Water for the Poor Initiative, a $970 million, three-year program to help developing nations with watershed management and improving access to clean drinking water and sanitation services.

The health agency said the problem of safe drinking water in the Americas was highlighted at the World Water Forum held March 16 to 23 in Kyoto, Japan.

At that forum, participants at a special session on Water in the Americas in the 21st Century discussed the need for new policies and partnerships among governments to guarantee access to safe water. Another problem discussed at the forum was that access to safe drinking water is becoming increasingly expensive, causing many poor people to drink unsafe water.

The agency said that the massive demographic changes in the Americas also are affecting the crisis in drinking water in both rural and urban areas.

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Traffic cops out in force anticipating drunk drivers
By Garett Sloane
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff 

The transit authority was out establishing checkpoints throughout the city this weekend and stopped vehicles in search of drunk drivers. 

The Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transporte was out with more manpower than usual this weekend because of the heightened fear of drunk driving due to the Costa Rica and Paraguay soccer match held in Alajuela, according to Elvis Monge of the Cartago transit authority.

The checkpoints are a common occurrence but this weekend the nearly 100 transit officers stopping motorists from San Pedro to Central San José to Escazú made this weekend’s checks a larger operation than most, according to Monge.

The transit authority handed out tickets of 10,000 colons and 20,000 colons ($26 to $52) depending on the level of intoxication. A breathalizer test revealing a driver to have a blood-alcohol content level over .1 resulted in the higher fine and also their car impounded. The 10,000 colons fines 

were for drivers with blood-alcohol levels from .05 to .099. Drivers in this group retained their cars.

Monge confiscated the first vehicle of the night within the first two minutes of setting up the checkpoint in San Rafael de Escazú, he said.

Chervin Dellanoche was that person. He said he was on his way from a party in San Pedro to his home. He refused to comment on exactly how much he drank but said it was, "too much."

"Pura vida," Dellanoche said of the situation. The loss of his car did not seem to dampen his mood. Monge said he can retrieve his car from the transit authority sometime next week.

The government does not usually keep the car of a drunk driver in Costa Rica, according to Monge. In the United States some states have laws that automatically confiscate the car of a drunken driver indefinitely.

Officers at the checkpoint in San Rafael de Escazú were on place to hand out more than 150 fines that night, Monge said.


 
 
Tico and North American
arrested on drugs charges

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Costa Rican of U.S. parentage and a North American were arrested Wednesday on charges related to drugs, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

After receiving an anonymous tip-off authorities began investigating a San Antonio de Escazú location where one of the men supposedly operated, said the organization. Furthermore, authorities purchased small amounts of marijuana from one of the accused men during the course of the investigation.

After the last purchase by authorities, which occurred in the presence of the Juez Penal de Pavas, the Costa Rican, Patrick William Salom Rodriguez, was arrested, said the organization.

At the scene authorities found drug paraphernalia, such as bags to divide the drugs into smaller selling units, that indicate the selling of drugs, said the organization. 

The organization said at the same time and location a 54-year-old North American, identified as Stanley Earl Burns, was found in possession of approximately one ounce of marijuana.

Japan will not send
Fujimori to face charges

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

TOKYO, Japan — Japan said it will not comply with a request from Interpol, the international police agency, to arrest Alberto Fujimori, former Peruvian president, who lives in exile here. 

Interpol issued a so-called "red notice" for the arrest of former Peruvian president. The Peruvian government wants Tokyo to send Fujimori back to Lima, where he can be tried on charges of murder and kidnapping. The Japanese government has refused.

Japan has been Fujimori's refuge since, while still in office, he fled here two-and-a-half years ago and then faxed his resignation to Lima. 

His flight came as a major corruption scandal was enveloping his already controversial administration. A month after his arrival here he was granted citizenship, based on his Japanese heritage.

Yasuo Fukuda, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, told reporters that Japanese domestic laws prevent the government from carrying out the request for Fujimori's arrest. A spokesman for the National Police Agency said it would need a proper Japanese warrant before taking any action. 

Hatsuhisa Takashima, a foreign ministry spokesman, has repeatedly told reporters that the country cannot extradite the son of Japanese emigrants, because he now holds citizenship. 

He said: "The basic position of [the] Japanese government on this case is that Mr. Fujimori is confirmed to be a Japanese citizen by birth. 

"And, since there is no international agreement or treaty or arrangement between Peru and Japan to handover any criminal suspects, we have no plan to put him in that situation, I mean handover or extradite him from Japan, and send him to Peru."

A government prosecutor in Peru has filed homicide and kidnapping charges against Fujimori in connection with the killing of about two- dozen civilians by state-backed death squads.

During his 10 years in office and now in exile here, 64-year-old Mr. Fujimori has consistently portrayed himself as a fighter against terrorism. 

In a brief letter to foreign correspondents earlier this month, he said the warrant for his arrest was part of a campaign of political persecution by the current Peruvian government. 

While the warrant is unlikely to make life difficult for the ex-president here, it could hinder any international travel plans he might have. Some nations have already notified Lima that they would extradite him to Peru, if he were to enter their countries.

Economic recovery signals
unfreezing of accounts

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina says it plans to end a year-long freeze on withdrawals from private bank accounts. 

Roberto Lavagna, economy minister, said Thursday that the government is taking the "final and definitive steps" to end the banking limits. The action frees nearly $5 billion in bank deposits. 

Argentina imposed a series of restrictions in late 2001, at the height of an economic crisis that forced the government to devalue its currency, the peso. The move led to a dramatic fall in the peso's value to a fraction of its earlier level against the U.S. dollar.

The freeze was aimed at halting a huge wave of bank withdrawals at the time of the economic crisis. 

The new proposal would allow people who deposited money in dollars to withdraw much of the value in pesos. The government plans to issue bonds to compensate them for the remaining value. 

The plan, which would affect thousands of account-holders, must still receive final approval from Congress and the president. 

The government has lifted many other emergency restrictions in recent months as the economy improves.

World Bank grants Brazil
$505m loan

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BRASILIA, Brazil — The World Bank has agreed to loan Brazil $505 million to help finance social programs. 

James Wolfensohn, World Bank president, and Antonio Palocci, Brazil's finance minister, signed the loan agreement Saturday here. 

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva met with Wolfensohn to explain his plans for social reforms, including a "Zero Hunger" program aimed at providing money for food to poor Brazilians. 
 
Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Psychiatrists

Dr. Luis Carlos Sancho Torres
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Lawyers

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Also, we invite you to join one of the most active discussion groups on the case.  Find out what people who care are saying. Join at irccr-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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Real estate agents


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Investments




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Our reward offer is still $500

Louis Milanes

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This newspaper seeks the prompt return of two men who ran high-interest investment operations that have gone out of business.

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho, 62, was associated with Ofinter S.A., a money exchange house, and with his own private investment business that had about $1 billion in other people’s money on the books.

Villalobos closed his business Oct. 14 and vanished.

Louis Milanes operated Savings Unlimited and several casinos in San José. He left the country with other members of his firm the weekend of Nov. 23. He may have as much as $260 million in his possession. Both operations catered to North Americans.

Villalobos had about 6,300 customers. Milanes had about 2,400.

Villalobos and Milanes are the subjects of international arrest warrants.  Associates of both men have been jailed.

A.M. Costa Rica has posted a $500 reward for information leading to the detention of either man with the hopes that others will make similar pledges. The newspaper believes that investors only will see some of their money when the two men are in custody.

Milanes has few supporters in San José. On the other hand, as the letters frequently on this page show, Villalobos still has supporters who believe that he will reappear and settle his debts. They believe he is in hiding because of a predatory Costa Rican government.


 
An invitation to enter our photo contest
The first A.M. Costa Rica photo contest welcomes your submissions and will award a prize of $100 in each of five categories.

The deadline for submission is April 15. The contest was announced in November.

Five categories have been established:

1. DEADLINE NEWS: A news photo that shows a breaking news event, such as, but not only, crime, accidents, fires, arrests.

2. SCENIC: Landscape scenes which may or may not include people as a secondary emphasis.

3. WILDLIFE: Photos that have as their principal subject one or more animals, plants or insects. 

4. SPORTS: A photo related to one of the major or minor sports, team or individual.

5. PEOPLE:  A photo that has as its principal emphasis one or more persons, including individual portraits. 


Deadline is April 15

BASIC RULES: The photo must be taken by the person who submits it, and he or she, as a condition of submission, agrees to give A.M. Costa Rica the right to publish the photo in A.M. Costa Rica. Upon publication, the photo will be covered by A.M. Costa Rica’s copyright, which the newspaper will happily assign back to the contestant upon request. As a condition of submission, the contestant affirms that he or she owns full rights to the photo and that it has never before been published in any professional medium.

The photo must have been taken within the borders or territorial waters of Costa Rica between Nov. 15 and the contest deadline. 

Only one entry per photographer is allowed in each category. Judges reserve the right to place the photo in another category during the selection process.
 
Employees, shareholders or interns with A.M. Costa Rica may not enter the contest. 

This is an open competition. No distinction will be made between professional and amateur photographers.

A.M. Costa Rica, at its option, will publish photos and information including the name of the photographer, as submissions are made.

The management of A.M. Costa Rica and judges are the final authority on contest rules and submissions.

TECHNICALITIES: The photos must be sent digitally via e-mail to 

editor@amcostarica.com, and the subject line must specify "photo contest." Within the body of the e-mail, the contestant must specify into which category the photo is submitted. The photo should be between 4 and 8 inches in width and contain no less than 72 pixels per inch of density. Each photo should not be larger than 200 k.

The e-mail message must clearly state the name and the circumstances surrounding the taking of the photo and the date the photo was taken. 

The photo should be in jpeg format and sent as an attachment with the file name as the number of the category in which it is being submitted followed by the name of the photographer.

For example, the file name of a photo in the sports category taken by Mr. Jones would be 4jones.jpeg or 4jones.jpg

PRIZES:  A first place winner will be named in each category, and the prize will be $100 paid via Pay Pal, the electronic fund-transfer system.

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