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(506) 2223-1327       Published Monday, May 4, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 86     E-mail us
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Mrs. Clinton says Bush policy failed
U.S. seeks to counter Iran, China, Russia in region

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Obama administration is working to improve relations with Latin American leaders, in part, to counter the growing influence of China, Iran and Russia. Clinton says it is not in U.S. interests to shun countries in its own hemisphere.

At a town hall meeting Friday at the State Department, Mrs. Clinton said the Bush administration's attempts to isolate anti-U.S. leaders only made them more opposed to the United States. "From my perspective the prior administration tried to isolate them, tried to support opposition to them, tried to turn them into international pariahs. It did not work," she said.

Mrs. Clinton said the United States can no longer afford such an approach, especially when competing for influence with countries like Russia, China and Iran. "If you look at gains, particularly in Latin America, that Iran is making and China is making, it is quite disturbing. They are building very strong economic and political connections with a lot of these leaders. I do not think that is in our interests," she said.

U.S officials have accused Iran of subversive activity in Latin America, calling newly opened Iranian offices "fronts" for interfering in affairs.
Both Iran and China have been boosting their cooperation with Latin American nations in financial and other areas. Venezuela has been at the heart of their efforts, with President Hugo Chávez making official visits to both Tehran and Beijing earlier this year.

Venezuela has also been cooperating with Russia on naval exercises and other agreements.

Mrs. Clinton said the United States is now trying to improve its own relationships with Chávez and other leaders to counter Iran, China and Russia.

Mrs. Clinton said she is working on getting U.S. envoys back into Venezuela and Bolivia, which expelled U.S. ambassadors last year after Bolivian President Evo Morales accused the top U.S. diplomat in his country of helping the opposition incite violence.

Mrs. Clinton said she also wants to improve relations with Ecuador, as well as Nicaragua, where she said Iran is building an embassy.  On Cuba, she indicated a desire to make changes, but only if the Castro brothers are willing to reciprocate.

Mrs. Clinton said the Obama administration has no illusions about making progress with leaders who have different views, but that pursuing better relationships is worth a try.

Arias said to defend U.S. against populist bashers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Óscar Arias told off authoritarian presidents who were bashing the United States during a closed door meeting in Trinidad, according to reports published in Miami.

In a talk entitled ¿Qué hicimos mal? or "What did We do Wrong," Arias said that Latin America missed the boat when it failed to capitalize on the Industrial Revolution.

The text of the April 18 talk given in private emerged in an article written by former Cuban political prisoner Armando Valladares in Diario Las Americas, the Miami Spanish-language newspaper.

The content was picked up by Andres Oppenheimer, the Miami Herald columnist, whose work appeared Sunday in both Spanish and English.   Oppenheimer attributed the speech to something he saw on the Internet but said he confirmed the content in a telephone interview with Arias.

The defense of the United States, presumably in the presence of Barack Obama, is unexpected from Arias who was known to bash the country and
particularly the George Bush administration in public speeches.

Oppenheimer said that Arias spoke after Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Rafael Correa of Ecuador and speakers from Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia. As expected the representatives from what is being called populist governments, blamed the United States for many of the region's ills, he added.

"Our enemy, President Correa, is that inequality that you rightly refer to. It's the lack of education. It's illiteracy. It's the fact that we don't spend on our people's health,'' Arias was quoted as saying. He also deplored the spending for arms in Latin America, transactions that he placed at $50 billion a year.  He was quoted as saying the rate of taxes was too low and that there was too much concentration on "isms," whereas China has raised its standard of living via pragmatism.

In a postscript to his column, Oppenheiner said that Latin America's populist leaders are using anti-American rhetoric and ideological banners to justify their goal of staying in power indefinitely.  "It's time to call their bluff — and Arias did it with superb eloquence," he said.

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Conservative businessman wins Panamá presidency

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Electoral officials in Panamá say it will take at least 72 hours
Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal
Ricardo Martinelli
to produce official results, but it appears that Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal, a businessman, is the president-elect of the country.

The Junta Nacional de Escrutinio reported that he received about 60 percent of the vote compared to 37 percent for Balbina Herrera, the candidate of the current ruling party, the Partido Revolucionario Democrático. More than 80 percent of the votes had been tabulated.

Voting Sunday was interrupted by a torrential downpour, but the
percentage of voters appear consistent with previous elections.

Martinelli runs a chain of supermarkets, and he was  presidential candidate in 2004 in an election won by Martín Torrijos. He served on the board of the Panamá Canal and is a proponent of expanding the connection between the Pacific and Atlantic.

Martinelli ran on a platform of change, and his party, Movimiento por el Cambio, is called in English the movement for change.

Pacheco gets legislative reins
again for fourth year in a row

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Francisco Antonio Pacheco has been reelected to an unprecedented fourth term as president of the Asamblea Legislativa.

The election took place Friday as the legislature chose officers for its fourth and final year. Legislative deputies cannot server two terms in a row.

Pacheco got the required 28 votes from his legislative bloc, the Partido Liberación Nacional, and three other lawmakers.  Independents Evita Arguedas, José Manuel Echandi and Guyón Massey had announced their support.

Sergio Alfaro of Partido Acción Ciudadana got 16 votes and  Luis Antonio Barrantes of Movimiento Libertario got four.

Maureen Ballestero, also of Partido Liberación Nacional, won the vice presidency with 33 votes.

First secretary is Xinia Nicolás, also of Liberación, who got the vote of 36 deputies.  Massey won the second secretary post.

Pacheco is a close associate of President Óscar Arias Sánchez and Arias is believed to have pushed for him to hold the post for another year to guide legislation favored by the executive branch.

China rounds up Mexicans
to prevent flu outbreak

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico says Chinese authorities have quarantined more than 70 Mexican nationals, after a Mexican tourist in Hong Kong became the country's first confirmed case of the swine flu virus.

Mexican diplomats said Sunday that many of the Mexicans being held in protective custody were onboard a flight with the infected man who arrived in Hong Kong Thursday from Mexico via Shanghai.

Other Mexicans in quarantine in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong arrived on separate flights from North America.

Ambassador Jorge Guajardo said other Mexicans appear to have been quarantined, in his words, "for the sole fact that they had a Mexican passport." Chinese officials on Sunday refused to allow Gaujardo access to a Beijing hotel where 10 Mexicans are being held in isolation.

The Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa said the involuntary detention of Mexican nationals free of symptoms is unjustified and discriminatory. She has also warned Mexicans against traveling to China.

Chinese health officials say more than 100 passengers from the Mexican patient's flight have been placed in isolation in hotel rooms and other sites. China's Health Ministry said Sunday that none of the infected man's fellow passengers have shown any flu symptoms.

China has canceled all flights between Mexico and Shanghai.

Our reader's opinion
100 percent disabled man
did not let that stop him

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your article on polio caught my attention. I am certainly old enough to remember it. I also am one of those persons that caught the virus and was lucky enough to not remain paralyzed for the balance of my life. I recovered!!

It was the year 1943 and I (in Dallas) and a friend (in Waco, Texas) came down with the virus on the same day. My friend and I had attended what we called a summer camp near Kerrville, Texas and had just arrived back at our homes when it struck. I was lucky and recovered.

My friend was not so lucky. He became one of those that lived in the iron lung until a special breathing machine was invented for him. He was 100 percent bedridden. Jim was so lucky that he had a health care person taking care of him — donated. Then, Waco had a large tornado in 1956 that killed the electricity in the complete city for about 40 hours. That meant that the electric pump that was used to make it possible for Jim to breath had to be run totally by human effort. This black person that was taking care of Jim actually physically cranked the pump by hand for all 40 hours without stopping even once. So Jim survived.

Then — the thing that shows the ability of disabled persons if the disabled person chooses to employ whatever remaining capabilities he might have. Jim received a special piece of furniture that hung from the ceiling that held books. It allowed him to read books. He used his tongue to turn the pages while laying on his back. This special piece of furniture (instrument) was designed at Baylor University ln Waco and then built by IBM in Dallas — all for free.

Then IBM designed and built a typewriter that was essentially an electric typewriter. This was in the mid 1950's and had to have been one of the first electric typewriters. This typewriter was actuated by Jim's tongue. The actuator looked like a harmonica and Jim would move his tongue over different places on the actuator to activate different letters on the typewriter.

Jim wrote more than three books that I am aware of on collecting fish. Jim then studied fish and ended up getting some kind of a doctorate degree from Baylor University in the mid-1960's. Jim was flown all over the U.S.A. to different colleges to put on presentations.

So here is a guy that cannot move a muscle — lived in a bed — got a doctorate degree and ended up paying for all of his own care by writing books and doing speeches. I was barely able to get a couple of plain old simple engineering degrees.

He and I were always close friends. Here is another comment on the guy. My father and I got him on a TV program called "64 Thousand Dollar Question" and they had filmed it in Waco from inside his house. Then the program got pulled off of the air for some reason so it never got televised. Jim did win the $64,000 pot.

Jim died in the mid-1990s at 62 years old. He essentially had not been out of a bed since 1943. He was actually a happy person.
Frank Yates
Playa Barqueta, Panama,
ex-Ojochal, Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 4, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 86

Remote helicopter crash is a challenge for rescue workers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rescue workers were to start early today to bring out the bodies of two men who died in a helicopter crash Friday.

Rescue workers reached the crash scene Sunday afternoon, but bad weather kept aircraft on the ground.

The helicopter, a Bell 206, crashed among mature trees at an altitude of some 7,800 feet above sea level near La Georgina in the Cerro de la Muerte.

Dead was the pilot, Edgar Arguedas Alfaro, who worked 15 years in the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea of the security ministry until he went into private business three years ago, the ministry said.

Also killed was a man said to be a photographer and identified informally as Gérman Trejos.

The helicopter had left San José for a flight south and was completing a second leg to Turrialba when the crash happened. Officials knew the helicopter went down Friday but rescue workers were not able to find it until early
Saturday when signals from an emergency locater transmitter allowed them to zero in on the site.

The Cruz Roja said the helicopter left Pérez Zeledón about 11:13 a.m. Friday, but informal sources said the intermediate destination was Quepos.

Rescue workers and police did not reach the remote site until Sunday afternoon. They were hampered by the bad weather and mud. And that is the same reason they are waiting until today to bring out the bodies to the nearest road.

Without the signal from the location device searchers may never have found the crash. The remains of the helicopter were surrounded by mature trees. It appeared that the helicopter just dropped from the sky and landed on its left side. There were no broken trees as would be the case if the helicopter was flying low and ran into a ridge line or the tops of trees.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said that Arguedas Alfaro had a daughter, 11, and lived in Heredia. He was considered very professional.

A made-for-television epidemic gets a prime time slot here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

The programming may be the most timely or the most inappropriate. Channel 6 aired as its Sunday movie "Pandemic," a 2007 production about all of Los Angeles being endangered by a disease brought by an airline traveler.

The television station appeared to be embarrassed by the choice, They prefaced the showing with an interview with  María Luisa Ávila, the health minister, and one of her assistants.

"Pandemic" includes in its cast Faye Dunaway as the governor of California. The movie was lambasted on the internet for being cliche-ridden. In it a surfer comes to the United States from Australia carrying a deadly disease.

In the real world health officials said they are not relaxing. But U.S. officials are beginning to downplay the potential impact of the swine flu.

Costa Rica has one confirmed case, based on U.S. laboratory reports, and four possible cases. Most of the possible cases, which at one time numbered more than 150, have been attributed to diseases other than the swine flue.

Officials still are urging citizens to wash their hands frequently and stay home if they have flu-like symptoms. Not every company is honoring the requests. For example, a reporter found that both the men's and women's rest rooms at a movie complex in Mall San Pedro did not have soap Sunday evening.

The concern about swine flu did not seem to affect business in San José. A check of restaurants Friday showed that many were full or fully reserved.

In the United States health officials are expressing cautious optimism that the virus causing swine flu, A-H1N1, may not be as virulent as initially feared, but they say aggressive steps to combat the infectious disease are still warranted.

Days after Mexico suspended public activities to reduce the spread of swine flu, the country is reporting a leveling off in the rate of new infections. In the United States, the number of confirmed influenza cases continues to rise, but most flu sufferers report relatively mild symptoms, and only one death has been recorded.

This is welcome news for U.S. health officials, who initially had to consider the possibility that the new flu strain's impact could mirror the devastation of the 1918 influenza pandemic that led to tens of millions of deaths worldwide.

The acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Richard Besser, spoke on ABC's "This Week" program.

"What we have found is that we are not seeing the factors that were associated with the 1918 pandemic. We are not seeing the factors that were associated with other H1N1 viruses," Besser said.

But, he adds, "I do not think it is time to let our guard down. I think we have to continue in an uncertain situation to be aggressive."

U.S. officials worry that, even if the virus' spread is eventually contained, it could re-emerge months from now during the northern hemisphere's winter flu season, when more than 30,000 Americans die each year from common influenza.

The Obama administration says it is laying the groundwork to develop a vaccine against swine flu, although no decision has been made on large-scale production of such a vaccine.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 4, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 86

Telecome rules published, but there is a legal problem
By The CAFTA Report

Prices of telecommunication services in Costa Rica will be left to the free market if the regulating agency determines there is enough competition. Otherwise, the agency, the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, will intervene.

That is the key philosophy set out in regulations published by the agency in the La Gaceta official newspaper. They mirror and expand upon the general telecom law that has been passed by the Asamblea Legislativa that opened up the telecom field to private enterprise.

April 29, the agency now known as SUTEL and the board of directors of the parent Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos published the rules for setting prices and also the rules to protect users. Also published were three detailed plans for technical aspects of telecom services.

The Authoridad Reguladora pointed out the same day that the rules to protect users have been suspended because a union leader with the former government telecom monopoly filed a Sala IV constitutional court case.
The employee, identified as Mayid Halabi, also is a member of an advisory body of the former monopoly, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. He complained to the high court that public audiences held around the country Jan. 19 on the measure to protect users was faulty.

The Authoridad Reguladora said that the video conferencing system  connecting each location suffered a technical failure.

However it defended the validity of the hearings because it had representatives in each of eight locations.

The rules to protect users included obligations of the service provider, including quality, and rights of the users, including privacy.

As a result of the court case, the Superintendencia will have to schedule a new round of public hearings, although the final product probably will not change much.

The rules are detailed and include requirements such as what information will appear on an invoice.

Gold mining firm files for arbitration under free trade treaty
By The CAFTA Report

A Nevada subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Rim Mining Corp. has filed for international arbitration against the government of El Salvador under the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The announcement came in a press release. The dispute centers on a claim that the government has failed to finalize the company's permit to mine gold.

The company said it was seeking compensation for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

The case has broad significance within the free trade area because extractive companies frequently run into local opposition or government delays to their projects. One example of a potential abritration case is the Las Crucitas open pit mine in northern Costa Rica. That has been the focus of a number of legal maneuvers to keep it from going into operation.

The Nevada company said it is acting for itself and on behalf of its two subsidiaries, Pacific Rim El Salvador, S. A. de C. V. and Dorado Exploraciones S. A. de C. V. Since 2002 the two subsidiaries have been exploring for and discovering gold deposits in El Salvador, said the company.

As a result the various companies have invested $77 million and "have operated in full compliance with Salvadoran law, including the country's environmental, mining and foreign investment laws, and have met or exceeded all applicable standards while conducting business in El Salvador," said the company.

The company's claims that the government breached international and Salvadoran law due to its improper failure to finalize the permitting process as it is required to do.

A mine design for the El Dorado gold project located in the Department of Cabanas, was submitted to the government in its final form more than two and a half years ago, said the company. Despite strong local support and the inclusion
of carefully engineered and reliable environmental protections for the proposed El Dorado Mine, the government has not met its responsibility to issue the
permits necessary to advance the project to the final step of full production, said Pacific Rim.

The arbitration request was filed with the Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The center is a dependency of the World Bank.

In December, the company filed a notice with the government of its intent to arbitrate the case. The new development is the actual filing of the case. The case appears to be the first filed under the arbitration clauses of the free trade agreement.

"We deeply regret that we have been forced to pursue our legal rights through the initiation of a CAFTA action," said Tom Shrake, manager of Pac Rim Cayman LLC, the Nevada corporation, and president and CEO of Pacific Rim, adding:

"While we regret having to take this action, we fully intend to pursue the company's rights vigorously. Sadly, it is not just the rights of Pac Rim that are being compromised, but the rights of all Salvadorans and future foreign investors. The people of our local communities are being denied the benefits of over 400 recently active exploration jobs, approximately 600 jobs to develop and operate the mine, and the benefits of numerous community and social programs."

Shrake said the companies have let go 400 local workers over the last nine months in what he called the single poorest region of El Salvador, where one of every three people lives in extreme poverty.

He said that gold mining will be a significant contributor to the economy of El Salvador particularly with the world in the midsts of an economic crisis.

He said the finished project would create thousands of jobs and that the companies were committed to operating a safe and environmentally-sound mine.

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This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

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Fair review promises in Iran
for journalist jailed as spy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Iran says the case of American journalist Roxana Saberi, imprisoned in Tehran for spying, will get a fair review on appeal while international calls for her release are growing.

Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told his visiting Japanese counterpart Saturday that Ms. Saberi's appeal will be "reviewed justly and humanely."

Japan's foreign minister, Hirofumi Nakasone, raised the issue in Tehran because Ms. Saberi's mother is Japanese. Her father is Iranian.

Journalist Saberi was convicted by an Iranian court on charges of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison. She has been on a hunger strike since April 21.

Saberi's father, Reza, and his wife, Akiko, are also in Tehran to try to win their daughter's release. Reza Saberi says he is grateful for all the support being shown worldwide for his daughter.

"We are very thankful for their support. I talked to my daughter, yesterday, and she said that while she did not want other people to go on hunger strike because of her, she appreciates their support very much," Saberi said.

Lucie Morillon of Reporters Without Borders in Washington says members of the group are taking up Saberi's cause by going on a hunger strike.

"We are very concerned about her health and we want her to know that other people have taken up her hunger strike and that she does not have to continue it. She is weak and we are here to let her know she can stop. Other people can do it for her, abroad," said Ms. Morillon.

She says journalists around the world should let Iran know they are committing an injustice and accomplishing nothing by detaining an innocent person.

"Today is World Press Freedom Day. It is a day where we celebrate the right to be informed, where we pay tribute to those courageous reporters who are taking risks to get information. The Iranian authorities are having here the perfect opportunity to do a gesture of goodwill and let her go," Ms. Morillon said, adding:

"She has done nothing wrong. They know it very well. These are trumped-up charges being held against her. They should let her go. It is not going to bring them anything to have someone like Roxana spending time in jail."

Journalists gathered Sunday in front of U.N. headquarters in New York City to begin their hunger strike and conducted a vigil in support of Ms. Saberi and two U.S. journalists being held by North Korea for allegedly spying.

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A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 4, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 86

Latin American news digest
Teen pianist wins a top prize
in international competition

Special to A.M. Costa Rica
A young Canadian-Costa Rican pianist has won, for the second time in little over a month, yet another top international competition. The pianist, Jonathan Duarte, was awarded second prize of the prestigious Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition.

The 15-year-old has just returned from a performance at Merkin Hall in New York City where he had been awarded second prize in the American Protégé 2009 International Piano and Strings Competition.

According to the judges of the Bradshaw & Buono competition, the youth's playing reflects the intelligence, insight and musicality necessary for pursuing a career, and that his playing, both in terms of technical skill and artistry, demonstrates the solid potential crucial to performance. The winners' recital is scheduled for December in New York City.

The pianist competed by performing the Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata No. 21, Opus 53, “Waldstein.” He competed against other young pianists from all over the world who see this competition as one of the most important platforms for beginning the pursuit of a musical career in this very competitive industry.

In addition to this, young Duarte was invited to a festival in Spain and France this summer. Instead he chose to attend the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan where he has been awarded a scholarship.

The pianist is a student of the Instituto Superior de Artes and the Universidad Nacional, under the direction of Dr. Alexandr Sklioutovski. Students of this institute have won over 100 national and international piano competitions around the world, making it one of the most successful music schools in Latin America. 

In this competition alone there were three other winners, Daniela Navarro with first prize and Patrick Brandl and Pablo Esquivel both as second prize winners.

Honorable mentions went to Daniel Eras, Silvia Kim, Cinthia Soto, and Eduardo Montero.

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