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(506) 223-1327        Published Friday, May 12, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 94        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Anti-trafficking campaign includes Costa Rica
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of four countries where the Inter-American Development Bank plans to launch a new campaign against human trafficking in the Americas.

In a statement, the development bank said the campaign, dubbed Llama y Vive (“Call and Live”), also will be launched initially in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru.  The campaign, in cooperation with the 116-member International Organization for Migration, will publicize telephone hotlines for prevention and victim protection, and distribute print and audiovisual materials featuring Puerto Rican singer and humanitarian Ricky Martin.

The development bank said human trafficking affects more than two million people each year and generates more than $32 billion annually, "making it the most lucrative crime after drug trafficking." 

Human trafficking is not limited to sexual exploitation, but also includes forced labor, sweat-shop labor, organ extraction, forced military service and forced marriage, said the development bank, adding that women and children are the most seriously affected by human trafficking.

Luis Alberto Moreno, development bank president, said his organization decided to take an active role in the fight against human trafficking "because the phenomenon is
linked to poverty and the lack of opportunities in Latin America and the Caribbean.  We want to support those governments that are committed to carrying out specific projects for prevention of trafficking, effective administration of justice and victim protection."

The campaign will be in cities identified as key along the trafficking routes in the Latin American nations, and will include activities
with citizens and the groups most vulnerable to being exploited.  The campaign aims to reach young men and women who plan to seek new opportunities far from home, along with victims of human trafficking in their own countries or abroad.

Costa Rica generates migrants mostly from rural areas who end up working illegally in the United States. Costa Rica also is a destination for young prostitutes who come here because that business is not punished as a crime. The country also has been the site of several groups dedicated to quickie adoptions of Latin children to the developed world.

In addition to the campaign, the IDB has produced a half-hour documentary on best practices in the fight against human trafficking in Latin America, with testimonies and information on projects in Colombia, Argentina and Guatemala. The documentary, presented by the Ricky Martin Foundation, will be distributed free of charge to television channels in the Latin American region.

You can get rid of that old car battery Saturday in la Sabana
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Saturday is recycling day in the la Sabana region.

Material for recycling will be accepted from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Centro de Acopio on the south side of the Iglesia del Perpetuo Socorro some four blocks south of the Contraloría General de la República in Sabana Sur.
Another recycling point will be three blocks south of la Pops in Sabana Oeste.

Plastic, glass, aluminum cans, plastic supermarket bags, car batteries, all kinds of paper including newspapers, spent printer cartridges, steel, bicycle parts and old hot water tanks will be accepted, organizers said.

The volunteer group said it collected 8,818 kilos (nearly 10 tons) of material last year.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 12, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 94

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Three of four acquitted
in Garnier murder case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three of four persons charged in the kidnap and murder of José Fabio Garnier Fernández were acquitted Thursday, and the three-judge panel blamed the quailty of the investigation.

Convicted of kidnapping for ransom was Miguel Alexander Castillo Morales, a Colombian, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The press office of the courts said that an Italian, Sasha  Babonni Benassi, and two Costa Ricans, Frank Yuri González Herrera, Antonio Zeledón Leal, were not convicted.

Judges said there was reasonable doubt because the men were only connected by a series of telephone calls.

Garnier, the son of a well-known soccer figure, was kidnapped the evening of Jan. 10, 2002, as he left his job at Hertz rental cars on Paseo Colón.  Kidnappers called demanding ransom.  Then the calls stopped.  In May of 2003, officials arrested Castillo then, in November of 2004, officials arrested the other three suspects.  Soon after, they were able to locate Garnier's body in a grave outside Ciudad Colón.

They said they had received a telephone tip about the location of the grave.

Garnier's father died during the course of the investigation, and some blamed the stress of the disappearance and trial.

The judges also said there was no direct evidence of how Garnier died and if the death was related to the kidnapping. His hands were found handcuffed in the shallow grave.

One of the men let go was the brother of a close friend of Garnier.
Flu shots are available
for less than $10

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Flu shots are available at both Hospital CIMA and Clinica Biblica for less than 5,000 colons, about $10.

Clinica Biblica has the Vaxigrip brand for 3,700 colones  for adults and 3,325 for children 3 years and older. The San José hospital charges 1,000 colons to administer the injection.

In the pharmacy of Hospital CIMA Fluarix brand is available. The cost for adults and children is 4,745 colons. Children under 3 can take a half dose of this vaccine. CIMA staffers will apply the vaccine for free at the vaccination center Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., they said.

Those vaccines are designed for the A and B type of influenza and recommended for people over 60 years of age, people with low immune defenses. Shots are not recommended for children under 6 months.

A flu shot is also recommended once a year for persons who have respiratory problems or diseases.

Road to be constructed
near Orosí for neighbors

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The emergency commission said that it will begin work by Saturday on a new route between Orosi and Tapanti, Purisil, Calle Sánchez and Río Macho.

Flooding knocked out the bridge on the traditional route six months ago, and residents have been walking through the property of the Liceo de Innovación Tecnológica de Orosi. But students and staffers protested by blocking the route this week. They relented when the new route was promised. Officials also provided a guard.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad is responsible for building a new bridge. But in the short term the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias will construct an alternative route through private property, the commission said.

Environmental groups
are getting restless

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Environmental groups that oppose mining and drilling for oil are making their voices heard because they expect that President Óscar Arias Sánchez might favor those projects more than did Abel Pacheco.

The Unión Norte por la Vida and the Frente Oposición a la Minería in San Carlos said that it was preparing a letter with thousands of signatures asking Arias to maintain a moratorium on mining.

Oilwatch said it was getting ready for a big fight because it believes that the Arias administration and  Roberto Dobles, the new minister of Ambiente y Energía, might not maintain a moratorium on offshore drilling.

Costa Rica's Sala IV suspended the contract with Harken Petroleum in late 2001. When Abel Pacheco took over as president he declared a moratorium and provided no help for Harken to bring its offshore exploratory operation into judicial compliance.

Harken is preparing to hail Costa Rica into international arbitration to collect on anticipated profits.

Since Pacheco declared the moratorium world oil prices have soared putting into question the decision.

The mining moratorium issued at the same time did not cover two companies that already had operations under way. One at Miramar has not reached production. A second project in northern Costa Rica near the Río San Juan is approaching production.
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.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 12, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 94


Cañas plans commemorative trail ride on cattle route
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Guanacaste is the Wild West of Costa Rica, and one doesn't have to look far to see horses and cattle.

The residents of Cañas, one of the principal market towns in the area, are having a trail ride Sunday to retrace the route ranchers drove cattle for hundreds of years.

The trail ride, the 10th, also will commemorate Claudia Quirós Vargas, the well-known historian of the area who died in February at 74.

Organizers said that anyone is invited to attend, but they have to bring a horse. Entry is 4,000 colons, about $8, which goes to pay for administrative costs and food along the way.

The ride is from Cañas west to the town of Bebedero de Cañas, which is in the center of a sabana where cattle have been raised for hundreds of years.
Ranchers drove their cattle to Cañas and then south to Barranca, near Esparza, where they were sold. The ride begins at 10 a.m. and starts at the Cámara de Ganaderos de Cañas.

The ride is not challenging. Cañas is at 86 meters above sea level (about 280 feet) and Bebedero is about half that.  There will be entertainment at trail's end.

The route is called the  Camino del Arreo or "road of the drover." The event is sponsored by the Concejo and the Alcaldía Municipal of Cañas and the Asociación de Cultura with the help of the Dirección Regional de Cultura de Guanacaste.

Historian Quirós, who worked at the Universidad de Costa Rica, wrote on the hacienda owners, the role of the church and society.

She also contributed to rescuing the cattle trail. She was awarded the national historical prize in  1990 for her work La era de la encomienda.

It's like living in a village here instead of a country
My last apartment was just a block away from the residence of a former president of Costa Rica. My current apartment is about 10 blocks from the home of the current president, Dr. Óscar Arias Sánchez.  The inauguration was held in the Sabana stadium just a few blocks from my home, but I didn’t venture out.  Instead, I watched it all on TV, including his walk from his home to the stadium.  The crowd was just too large and pressing.  I didn’t want to add to it. 

Actually, I have met more than one president or former president of Costa Rica.  Ex-president Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (while he was not under suspicion of corruption) waited outside a restaurant in the rain in order to apologize to me for his SUV blocking a parking space and causing me to walk across the street in the rain.  I was impressed with this gentlemanly gesture.

I have never actually met former President Mario Echandi Jiménez, but we have nodded to one another in the street when he was my neighbor. The only time I was close enough to a U.S. president was when Bill Clinton came to Costa Rica and I was in the third row listening to him speak at Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo – in the rain.  I am pretty sure that my “memory” of waving to President Franklin Roosevelt in Mayville as he drove past in a convertible when I was about 3 years old is a false memory.  I do recall meeting former President Luis Alberto Monge at a debate sponsored by Democrats Abroad.  That memory is fresher and therefore more reliable.

It is not unusual for presidential candidates and even the wives of presidents to speak to expat clubs and organizations, so I have met and listened to some of the also-rans and have been impressed with the
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

quality of the thinking of the women in politics and former candidates.  Speaking of politicians’ wives, it is surprising how many men in politics in this Catholic country have been divorced.  Nobody seems to make a big deal of it.

Óscar and I go back a long way (just kidding).  In fact, I first met him at a dinner in San Francisco.  Having been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace just a year or two before, he was the guest of honor and he gave an interesting speech.  I can’t remember how I managed to attend the dinner, but I did go to considerable trouble to get an invitation — and even bought an elegant black outfit to wear to the affair. 

I did want to meet this man whose country had no military and who was so interested in a non-warring world.  I still have the elegant black top I bought just for the dinner.  His talk and my short meeting with him sparked what was an academic interest in Costa Rica into an active desire to explore this country further.  When I moved here I brought that black outfit which I think I have only worn on stage. 

I am not really a namedropper.  Not one of these people I have mentioned would ever remember me.  What I am trying to show is that in a small country like Costa Rica, it is easy and without much effort, to be in the right place at the right time.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 12, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 94

Morales and Chávez in Europe defending policies
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela are in Europe seeking trade and defending their politics

Bolivian President Evo Morales has defended the decision to nationalize his country's oil and gas industries, describing it as necessary to end five centuries of foreign exploitation.

Morales made his comments Thursday in Vienna ahead of a summit of leaders from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Morales said for more than 500 years, Bolivia's resources have been pillaged and that this has to end now.  He accused foreign oil firms such as Brazil's state-owned oil firm, Petrobras, of operating illegally in Bolivia.  The Bolivian president warned that some firms may not be compensated following the national takeover.

Petrobras issued a statement saying it is surprised by and resents the accusations.  Petrobras said it has always complied rigorously with the law in Bolivia and other countries where it has worked.  The oil company has accounted for 25 percent of Bolivian tax revenues.

Bolivia's May 1 move to nationalize its energy
resources was expected to be discussed at this week's summit on strengthening cooperation between the Americas and Europe.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Morales also urged Colombia, Peru and Ecuador not to ratify trade deals with the United States.

Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The pope told Chávez that he is concerned about religious reforms in the largely Catholic nation. The pontiff and Chávez met at the Vatican Thursday.

A Vatican spokesman says Pope Benedict was worried about a proposal to ban teaching religion in Venezuelan schools. He said the pope expressed his hope that Santa Rosa Catholic University can maintain its religious identity.

The pontiff also asked that the nation's health programs "respect life," an apparent reference to abortion, which the church opposes.

The Venezuelan leader assured the pope of his commitment to "overcome every tension in respecting the legitimate rights of all." Mr. Chavez often quotes from the bible during speeches. But he has clashed with the Catholic leadership in Venezuela, referring to it as a "cancer."

$350 million for housing aimed at free trade countries
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation has approved $350 million in financing that will allow National City Bank to expand its lending in emerging markets, with a focus on making housing construction loans in the nations of the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.

The coprporation is an agency of the U.S. government that helps foster economic development in emerging
markets, in part by working with the U.S. private sector to help U.S. businesses invest overseas and manage risks associated with foreign direct investment. It provides insurance against loss due to political reasons overseas.

Of the $350 million in financing that the agency will extend to the Cleveland, Ohio,-based National City Bank as part of a lending framework agreement, 60 percent will support small and medium-sized businesses and residential mortgages in Latin America, and in Central and Eastern Europe.  About $100 million will be used for housing construction loans for low- and middle-income housing construction loans, with a special emphasis on El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Robert Mosbacher Jr., president of the agency, applauded the framework agreement, particularly the emphasis on free trade pact countries.

Jo Stuart
About us

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