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(506) 223-1327       Published Thursday, May 11, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 93        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Colombians finally react to Juan Valdez joke
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Colombian coffee exporters are finally fighting back against the humorous use of their famous trademark.

The Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia said Wednesday that it has reached an accord with Grupo Café Britt S.A. of Costa Rica.

The dispute revolves around Britt's use of the phrase "Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican coffee." The phrase has been imprinted on countless T-shirts and other products along with the trademark of the Colombia producers. In fact, the phrase is well out of the hands of Britt and has appeared on bumper stickers here as well and commentaries on the Internet.

The 40-year-old Juan Valdez is a fictional character who has been played by only two actors during that time. José F. Duval, a New York based actor, played the part until 1969. He died in 1993 and it is to him the act about drinking Costa Rican coffee has been attributed. Since 1969, Carlos Sánchez of Medellín, Colombia, has played the part.

This is another case like Ronald McDonald of hamburger fame where the character transcends the actor. The mustachioed Sánchez is introduced and even received diplomatic decorations in the name of Juan Valdez.

The  triangular trademark dates to 1981 when it was created by a New York firm.

"We are not going to permit any company in the world to take advantage of the recognition the trademarks Café de Colombia and Juan Valdez have achieved  to sell similar products or to use other sources because these trademarks are the heritage of

The real Juan Valdez is Carlos Sánchez who usually is accompanied by a mule.

the 560,000 Colombian coffee growers and are essential for the new model of business of the national coffee industry," said Gabriel Silva, general manager of the federation.

He also said that Britt has agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty if it violated the agreement by producing or distributing material bearing the logo or name of Juan Valdez.

The phrase "Juan Valdez drinks Costa Rican coffee" has been around a long time. Jaime Daremblum, then-Costa Rican ambassador to the United States, used the comment as an ice breaker in a 1999 speech.

A 1995 marketing study in the United States showed that 53 percent of the persons questioned were able to relate the Juan Valdez logo to Colombian coffee.

A mix of natural surprises keeps Costa Ricans on the alert
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mother Nature seems a bit unhappy with Costa Rica.

The third straight day of heavy rain has hit the Pacific and the Central Valley. The prediction is for more rain today.

Volcán Arenal burped about 10 a.m. Wednesday and sent forth rocks, ashes and gas.  A pyroclastic flow with temperatures around 1,000 degrees C  (1,832 F) tumbled down the north face of the volcano.

An hour earlier, at 9:06 a.m., a 4.8 magnitude earthquake shook northern Panamá and it could be felt in southwest Costa Rica.  And report came from the community of Laurel. There were no reports of damage, and the center of the quake was fixed at 21 kms (13
miles) southeast of Puerto Armuelles in Panamá, a place of frequent shaking.

The Arenal volcano, the country's most active is just northwest of La Fortuna. It is a tourist attraction.

The rains dropped 25.9 millimeters on San Jose Wednesday afternoon. That's 1.02 inches. Pavas got 38.5 millimeters or 1.52 inches.

Liberia in Guanacaste also had heavy rain with 36.2 millimeters being recorded there. That's 1.43 inches.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said the low pressure system is over the Pacific just off the Nicoya Peninsula. More rain was predicted today before the middle of the day with the Central Valley and the Pacific coast getting most of the moisture.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 93

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Costa Ricans in Canada
have to leave by July 2

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Costa Rican family living illegally in Canada will have until July 2 to get out.

That was the result of a deal between the Canadian immigration authorities and the family, according to the Toronto Star.

The mother, Francella Lizano, 38, has been released on $3,000 bond because her husband, a fugitive, finally gave himself up. He is free on $2,000 bond.

A Canadian immigration official told the family that they must buy tickets to Costa Rica by the end of the week, the Star said.

The family includes two 14-year-olds, Kimberly and Gerald, and a Canadian-born daughter.

The family made news at the end of last month when immigration officials picked up the two 14-year-olds at their school, said the Star.

The father, Gerald Lizano-Sossa, says he was an agent for the Judicial Investigating Organization in Costa Rica and fears for his life if he returns. However, they have not been successful in obtaining asylum.

Carjacking victims get
wild ride from crooks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men, including one later identified as a minor, pulled guns on a motorist in Cipreses de Curridabat Tuesday night and forced the driver and a passenger to leave their microbus and enter another vehicle.

The victims were carried toward Tibás in the robbers' car.  But police had been notified and gave chase.

The chase ended when the suspect vehicle with the victims aboard rolled over near Cinco Esquines de Tibás.  Two person, including the minor, were arrested by police. Both are residents of the Ciudadela León XIII in Tibás.

The victims suffered minor injuries but still were able to file a complaint, officials said.

Largest ecstasy haul made

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers said they confiscated the largest haul of ecstasy ever found in Costa Rica when they inspected a car at checkpoint Kilómetro 37 de Río Claro in Guaycará de Golfito.

Two Colombian men were detained after police said they found the 3,450 doses of the drug hidden in the rear bumper of the vehicle. Police said they learned the ecstasy was to be sold and distributed in Costa Rica.

Our readers opinions

Light three-wheeler
could solve taxi woes

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I understand the feeling of the taxi drivers, expressed in the article today.  I have talked with many of them regarding the same problem (lack of clients, high rises of tariffs, decrease of their “business,” etc), so I know why they fear a new increase in their rates.

That’s why in all Central America (except of course CR), there’s an alternative between the bus and the regular taxicab: the “moto-taxi,” a simple motorized three wheeler with a driver in front a capacity for three passengers in the back: it’s not perfect and it’s not for everyone, but it solves the huge gap between the two.

PIAGGIO (the inventor of the Vespa scooter) invented those in 1948, after putting two wheels in the back of the Vespa, both for cargo and passenger use.
Since then and after many variations (and copies), these have literally travel around the world, and adapt to local customs and names (tuk-tuk, autorickshaw, toritos, etc).

In Costa Rica the Vespa has been very strong since the 50s, and its brother the APE existed in the 60s and 70s.  Now we are celebrating already our first anniversary with the re-launching of the LTV division, with an alternative utility vehicle in various types of bodies perfect in these times of high petrol prices.  We are confident the passenger version could solve the mentioned gap, especially in coastal, touristy and heavily populated areas.

If only the media would help.

Jaime Freer Rohrmoser
La Uruca

He had big surprise
at the U.S. Embassy

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

What a nice surprise I had at the U.S. Embassy today.  I needed additional pages for my passport, which they had courteously informed me in an e-mail response could be obtained at no charge between 8:30 a.m. And 11:30 a.m.  [In the United States, one has to mail the passport to a designated address and wait two weeks.]

Having heard so much about long lines and poor service, I arrived before 8 a.m. Once I told the guard what I needed, he told me to proceed to Window C.  When I got there, one person was ahead of me.  They opened the window at 8:10, accepted my request, and I was out of there by 9:15.  It was really nice having this feared “tramite” handled so efficiently.

Grady Bruce
San Pedro
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 93


No measurements of World Cup effort
Tourism Institute jumps in with $7 million promotion

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country will spend nearly $7 million to advertise itself in conjunction with the World Cup soccer championship in Germany.

But officials do not have any plans to measure the results of that advertising, which will range from spots in airlines to traditional media.

Costa Rica is not one of the 15 sponsors of the World Cup. Those positions are reserved for deep-pocket multinationals who were selected three years ago.

But Costa Rica will seek to present itself as a tourism destination to the European market.

Without a measurement plan, the country will be unable to see if its advertising worked. Silvia Ulloa, a marketing employee at the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, said last week that there was no way to measure the results. But measurement is a key ingredient in many serious marketing plans.

Tourism officials believe that much more growth is possible in the European marketing, although the bulk of the tourists here come from North America.

Advertising at big sporting events is traditional, even though advertisers know they are engaged in a prestige contest. The televised U.S. Super Bowl of professional football ran 55 ads last Feb. 5, and the ABC network collected $2.4 million for each 30 seconds of ads. The audience was estimated at 100 million.
However, some advertisers like Visa and McDonald's skipped the football extravaganza this year and put their money in the Winter Olympics. Other major advertisers duck such events because they figure the viewers are interested in football and not products. An exception is Anheuser-Busch, the beer company, which has had an exclusive on the Super Bowl for 18 years. Fans consume the product as they watch the game.

The soccer championship that begins June 9 has many more teams and contests, so only the final will attract a super audience.

By necessity then Costa Rica will be advertising around the fringes of the World Cup.

The institute has not been a standout in its promotional efforts. The institute agreed to pay $833,000 in public money to the Argentine travel company Despegar.Com Inc. to set up and run a Web site. The two-year renewable contract was signed in 2002 four months into Abel Pacheco’s administration.

But a check Wednesday night shows that the Web site is in 118,398th place, according to Alexa, the Amazon.Com associate that measures Web traffic by statistical methods.

By contrast A.M. Costa Rica is in 30,431st place, and La Nación is at  6,053. The lower the number the better for readership. Yahoo is No. 1 and Google is No. 2. Both are search engines. Even the Tico Times is higher than the tourism Web page at 88,164, according to Alexa.

Expotur tourism exposition will be held next week
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 2006 edition of Expotur will kick off next week. This is where the Costa Rican tourism industry and providers from elsewhere show their wares to the world.

More than 250 tourism service providers will be present to talk with travel wholesales from the Western Hemisphere and to make deals.
In addition, tourism workers attend seminars. The official inauguration of Expotur is Tuesday evening. Tourism providers construct sometimes elaborate stands for browsing wholesalers. At the end of the week visiting wholesalers and travel agents can take trips through the country.

The event will be at the Herradura Hotel and Conference Center. The event is put on by the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 93

Those at Latin summit urged to protect the press
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Leaders attending a Latin American Summit in Vienna, Austria, are being urged to do more to protect press freedom in the Americas.

In a statement Wednesday, the Paris-based press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said press freedom in the Americas "has taken a beating during the past year or so."

The group said seven journalists in the Americas were murdered in connection with their work in 2005 and five more have been killed since the start of 2006.

"Most of these murders are still unpunished.  Physical attacks, harassment and censorship of the media are all common practice, sometimes with the support of local politicians and judicial officials," said Reporters Without Borders.

At the same time, the group said "we welcome the efforts undertaken in some countries to provide better guarantees for press freedom and free expression, especially by means of legislative reform.  These efforts must continue and we hope they will get help from the European Union."

The Vienna summit is expected to attract heads of state from 60 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, and from EU member nations. Bruno Stagno, the Costa Rican mininster of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto, is at the meeting.

Reporters Without Borders has cited Cuba and Venezuela as countries where press freedom is under attack.

In Cuba, the group said it hoped the EU would "bring its insistence on respect for human rights to the attention” of the government of Fidel Castro.  Cuba was described as the Western Hemisphere's only country where press freedom is "non-existent."

Cuba also was criticized for keeping "its unfortunate position as the world's second biggest prison for the
press, after China," ever since a March 2003 Castro crackdown on dissidents.

Reporters Without Borders said 20 of the journalists rounded up during that "black spring" in Cuba still are being held in terrible conditions, while three other journalists have been held since mid-2005, two of them without being charged or tried.

Reporters Without Borders said that in Venezuela "continued politicization of an already corrupt and inefficient judiciary, implementation of new laws governing libel and media content that further restricted freedom of speech and press, and official harassment of the political opposition characterized the human rights situation" during 2005.

In Venezuela, relations between government authorities and the privately owned press are described as "tense."  Judicial proceedings have been initiated since the start of 2006 against 10 journalists under a December 2004 law of "social responsibility" of the broadcast media and a March 2005 criminal code reform measure.

Reporters Without Borders said that by making it punishable to "insult" a public official in Venezuela, the criminal code reform "undermines ability of the press to play the role it should have in democracy, which is to question and challenge the government."

Reporters Without Borders also expressed concern about the state of press protection in Mexico, Colombia, Haiti and Brazil.

The group said that Mexico, for example, became the Western Hemisphere's "deadliest country for the press" in 2005.  In a single week in April 2005, two journalists in Mexico were murdered and a third journalist disappeared.

Since 2000, some 16 journalists in Mexico have been murdered, Reporters Without Borders said, six of them in Nuevo Laredo, where drug trafficking "seriously threatens press freedom as it does in all the Mexican cities on the U.S. border."

U.S. Federal Reserve raises short-term rate again
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank, Wednesday continued its two-year long effort to combat inflationary pressure by raising its short-term interest rate to 5 percent.  Financial markets are now anticipating at least a temporary halt to the persistent tightening of monetary policy. 

U.S. short-term rates are now three percentage points higher than they were two years ago. This means higher finance charges on credit card and variable interest rate debt. Since June 2004, the Federal Reserve has raised short-term rates at quarter point increments 16 times.

The central bank's Fed statement that accompanied the announcement said that the inflationary pressures resulting from the sharp increase in oil prices have so far been contained.

It said Fed policy will be guided by data measuring economic performance.  Higher interest rates tend to slow economic growth by boosting the cost of credit. But monetary policy typically acts with a 10- to 15-month lag. Despite the rate increases, the U.S.
economy has been growing at a robust 4 percent pace and unemployment is low. The Fed statement called attention to a slowdown in the housing market, which is particularly sensitive to interest rates.

Bill Gross, a bond trader in Newport Beach, California, predicts the period of monetary tightening is coming to an end.

"We're going to wait on the data for the next two weeks or so, before the next policy decision meeting, and go from there," said Gross.  "I think, however, that their statement that inflation is relatively contained is very much of a positive sign that they will pause instead of go further."

The Federal Reserve is keeping a close eye on international developments, particularly the declining value of the dollar and the sharp increase in commodity prices. Since its last interest rate rise in late March, the prices of gold, silver, copper and platinum have all risen sharply. Some analysts say the commodity price rise suggests mounting inflationary trends worldwide. Bond trader Gross says it is time for Europe and Japan to relieve some of the pressure on the Fed and begin to raise their own interest rates.

Jo Stuart
About us

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