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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 6, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 88
Jo Stuart
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Chavez says his assassination was plotted here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A plot to assassinate the president of Venezuela used San José as a staging area and failed because a mercenary got cold feet and told all to Venezuelan officials here, the president, Hugo Chavez Frias, told The Washington Post.

The Post published the information Sunday in a copyrighted story. On Friday, the general aspects of a plot to kill Chavez were outlined to the country’s National Assembly by José Vincente Rangel, the minister of defense.

However, Rangel did not say who was involved in the plot, although suspicion obviously centers on the United States and leaders of the coup that forced Chavez from power April 11 and April 12.

The assassination attempt, if there really was one, was planned for the beginning of the year and was not part of the April abortive coup.

Chavez told Post reporter Scott Wilson that he learned of the plot Jan. 1 while he was vacationing outside the capital of Caracas with his family.  A  government official told him that a mercenary had approached the Venezuelan embassy in San José and admitted being part of a plot to kill him, Chavez said.

Chavez told the Post that perhaps 12 persons were gathered in San José around New Year’s Eve awaiting the arrival of a U.S. citizen who was a member of the team. The group trained in an unstated Central American country, but 

the mercenary changed his mind over New Year’s drinks when he found out the target was Chavez, the president told the Post.

Chavez seemed to link the assassination attempt and the coup together when he told the Post that four foreigners were arrested for shooting into anti-Chavez street crowds April 11. At least 17 persons died that day, and some accuse Chavez of orchestrating the violence. The Venezuelan president said that the provisional government that took over for two days released the four foreigners from jail.

Chavez stopped short of blaming the United States for the assassination attempt. However he did claim that unidentified foreign navy ships were spotted on radar in Venezuelan territorial waters during the April coup, suggesting the U.S. Navy was involved.

However, a Venezuelan news agency blamed the United States for purported assassination planning as long ago as Feb. 9. Citing highly placed diplomatic sources, VHeadline News, an Internet news service, said that Spanish-speaking U.S. operatives already were in Venezuela to help the United States win control over strategic oil supplies. The news service specifically blamed the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

The Post said "after being accused of orchestrating the April 11 violence himself, Chavez has a clear motive for presenting an alternate theory for what caused the deaths that day," meaning the presence of foreign provocateurs.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After a week of threatening, the skies above the Central Valley opened up Friday with the first measurable rain in weeks. Then Saturday, Saturday night and early Sunday morning the dry season officially ended.

Most residents welcomed the rain as a way to wash away the dust that had accumulated since early January. However, the rain was nothing new for other sections of the country. The Pacific coast has been getting storms for weeks. The northern zone always seems to be shrouded in dark clouds, and the Caribbean slope is used to showers.

Even the hills around the Central Valley had been flirting with rain for several weeks. But until Friday all downtown San José could remember was several afternoons of what seemed like a heavy dew.

There are no official rainfall reports from the meteorological service, but the five-day predictions are for dark clouds, intermittent showers and occasional downpours all over the country.

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Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano photo
This Priate is on parade Sundays

Isla del Coco to star
in Centro production

by the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Isla del Coco is the central character in a new spectacular called "La Isla del Tesoro" or Treasure Island.

The spectacular will be presented in the Teatro Eugene Oneill of the Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano from May 12 to June 9, Sundays, at 11 a.m. Admission is 1,200 colons ($3.40).

The production is for the whole family but primarily for youngsters 10 to 14, said an announcement from the center. The show is about pirates, treasures, intrigues and history, the announcement said.

The production is produced by the centro and the Grupo  Curaramácara, Moderno Teatro de Muñecos y de Neovisión Proyectos Culturales.  The script and scenery is by Anselmo Navarro, under the direction of Melvín Méndez.

The spectacular also has support from the Fundación de Amigos de la Isla del Coco as well as from the Ministerio Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

The island well off the Costa Rica Pacific coast has been historically a haven for pirates. There are tales of many buried treasures there. The show recounts the history of the island from its discovery to the present day.

In addition to the Sunday shows at the centro, the cast will go on the road to give performances to groups of school children and other organizations.

Fraud suspect linked
to December arrests

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents detained a fraud suspect in Barrio El Carmen de Guadalupe Thursday and found a sophisticated computer system for the production of false identities.

The man arrested is being linked to a case that came to light last Dec, 18 when agents arrested a group of persons they said had been involved in 
at least 100 cases of fraud.

Agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization said they found blank documents, seals, blank security paper and several styles of cédulas at the man’s home, and that these were the materials used to create false identities 

Theater group plans
open auditions tonight

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Little Theatre Group holds the first round of open auditions for it's next play, "Chase Me Comrade!" tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Bello Horizonte theater.

The group said that the play is a full-scale production with a 12-member cast of both men and women with ages ranging from mid-20s to late 60s.
There are four larger roles, several medium-sized ones and some one or two scene cameo caricatures, said an announcement.

Kevin Glass and Sheila Morrison will direct with assistance from Anne Antkiw, said the announcement.

Expected show dates are the weekends beginning Friday, Sept. 27,  Friday, Oct. 4th, and Friday, Oct. 11. Rehersals begin in August

For further information or directions to the theatre, someone can call the theater box office at 289-3910.

U.S. citizen stabbed
in early morning attack

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Assailants stabbed a man identified as a U.S. citizen in the stomach about 4:45 a.m. Friday outside the Las Margaritas night club on Calle Central at Avenida 18, said investigators. They identified the man as James Smith, 27, but they did not know if he was a tourist or a resident.

Agents also did not say whether he has been a customer of the night club or if he was just passing by. The assailants robbed the victim of his belongings before police arrived, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization

French voters reject
rightwing Le Pen

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

PARIS, France — Voters have handed incumbent President Jacques Chirac a landslide victory over his far-right opponent, Jean-Marie Le Pen. 

With nearly 100 percent of the national vote counted, France's Interior Ministry reported Chirac closed Sunday's elections with 82.1 percent of the vote. Le Pen gathered about 17.9 percent of the vote. 

Chirac thanked French voters for his re-election, saying the country has reaffirmed its commitment to republican values. It was the largest victory margin by any French president in the last 44-years. 

But analysts say Chirac's victory is not an indication of his support, but instead points to a rejection of the isolationist, anti-immigrant platform of Le Pen and his National Front Party. 

European leaders praised Chirac's re-election as a triumph of democracy. Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair said it was "a defeat for extremism." 

In a victory speech, Chirac said he understood the call for change in France and promised to immediately address the issue of rising crime--a top voter concern.  In conceding defeat, Le Pen said that President Chirac had won re-election by, what he called, "Soviet methods".  He also called the results a defeat for the hopes of the French and predicted that Chirac's coalition will soon collapse.

Burmese dissident
set free by miltary

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Burma’s military government has freed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi after 19 months of virtual house arrest.  A government spokesman said today all restrictions have been lifted on the movements and activities of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate. 

The 56-year-old pro-democracy leader has been confined to her house with her telephone line cut since September of 2000 after she tried to defy a government ban on travel outside the capital. 

Her release had been widely expected for days following U.N. brokered negotiations aimed at ending a 12-year-old political deadlock. In a statement released earlier in the day, Burma's military rulers said they would continue to release detainees but did not mention Aung San Suu Kyi by name. 

Freedom for the pro-democracy leader has been among the top demands of the international community, which has isolated Burma and imposed economic sanctions on the country in a bid to force political change. 

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won elections in 1990 by a landslide. But the military government has refused to hand over power.

Aung San Suu Kyi was originally placed under house arrest in 1989. She was released in 1995, but put under virtual house detention again in September 2000.

Cuban dissident
released from jail

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

HAVANA, Cuba. — The country’s best known political dissident, Vladimiro Roca, has been released from prison, after serving all but two months of his five-year sentence for inciting sedition. 

Activists view the release as a goodwill gesture to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who is to visit the communist island one week from Sunday. 

Roca, the son of a founding father of Cuban communism, was arrested in 1997, along with three other activists, for urging political reform. 

Colombian troops
advancing in Choco

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia —  Thousands of army soldiers are attempting to retake remote villages and rescue survivors in northwestern Colombia after clashes between leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries killed more than 100 people in the past few days. 

Colombian authorities say at least 107 people, including about 40 children, have been killed in isolated villages in the state of Choco where Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) rebels and the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia have been fighting for control. 

Many people fleeing the violence arrived Sunday at the provincial capital Quibdo. Authorities say many were killed after the FARC fired homemade mortars into a church where scores of people had taken refuge. It is unclear if the rebels were aiming for the church. 

Choco is one of the poorest and most volatile regions in Colombia. Officials say the fighting in the region is for control of strategic drug trafficking routes.  Colombia is in the midst of a 38-year civil war that involves the FARC, the paramilitaries and the Colombian government. The conflict has left tens of thousands of people dead. 

Former president
dies in Bolivia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LA PAZ, Bolivia — A former dictator and democratically elected president, Hugo Banzer, 75,  has died of cancer.

A spokesman for Banzer said the former leader had been suffering from lung cancer that had spread throughout his body. His illness forced him to resign the presidency last August, one year before his term was due to end.

Banzer first seized power in a military coup in 1971 and ran Bolivia as its dictator until he was overthrown in 1978. He returned to politics months after his ouster and ran in democratic elections throughout the 1980s and '90s. He won the popular vote for president in 1985, but failed to gain a majority and was defeated in second-round balloting. He finally was elected president in 1997.

Supporters of the former president say he will be remembered for eradicating Bolivia's coca crop, the plant that is the base for cocaine. But his critics say he will be remembered for widespread civil unrest during his recent presidential term and his alleged involvement in Plan Condor, a 1970s plot by regional military dictators to kidnap and murder political opponents.

Banzer was born in 1926 in Concepcion, in eastern Bolivia. He died early Sunday at his family home in Santa Cruz. 

Gallery exposition
features marionettes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Galería Sophia Wanamaker has a new exposition opening today, but there are some strings attached.  In fact, there are a lot of strings attached because the exhibit is of marionettes but from the point of view of the little performers being objects of art in themselves.

The title is "Manomágica" or hand magic. The artists are Anselmo Navarro of Spain, Margreet Postma of the United States and Fernando Thiel of Argentina.

Postma used waste materials to construct her marionettes. Thiel makes marionettes of 25 centimeters (10 inches) in height and with an emphasis on their surroundings. Navarro creates different types of marionette.

The gallery is in the Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano in San Pedro. The exposition runs until June 6.

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