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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 13, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 93
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Play ball!
His name is Francisco Delgado Soto, and he has a face like Father Time. His tanned and muscular body is that of a long-time footballer.

He earns money juggling a tennis ball for small change in downtown San José, much to the delight of passersby.


Francisco Delgado Soto

Pacheco will seek
international aid
for flood victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The president of Costa Rica took the television Sunday night to ask that citizens show their solidarity with the rain-drenched Atlantic slope.

He said he would squeeze millions of colons from ministries and other sources to help rebuild the area. He also said he would seek international aid for what is rapidly revealing itself a disaster of major proportions.

The president toured the area Friday, and then the rain continued. The weather front that brought the rain most of last week was reported headed north late Sunday, but the damage to home, roads, bridges and agricultural crops continues to mount up.

It was just 11 years ago, April 22, 1991, that a major earthquake hit the Limón-Pandora, killed 109 persons and left 7,440 homeless. The financial toll on that disaster was about $43 million.

The president singled out Limón, Turrialba, Sarapiquí and Siquirres as hard hit by the storms. At least 100 homes were swept away in the center of Turrialba. Some damage also extends as far south as the border with Panamá, and further south in the Boca del Toro area, the populace is in the middle of a malaria epidemic that can only be magnified by the current storms.

Hundreds of acres of rice, bananas and other basic crops have been destroyed by the storms, ensuing flooding and mudslides. Bridges have been knocked off their pilings. The road damage may take several years to repair.

In addition to losing their homes, many residents also have lost any food stores they might have. Wells are polluted, and sanitation is becoming a serious problem.

The Cruz Roja and service organizations have begun campaigns to collect money for the Atlantic region. Tables have been set up at malls and other places where shoppers gather.

Pacheco said Sunday that steps must be taken to prevent similar disasters from happening. He said the country must look beyond this current disaster, and he suggested that there should be some effort to construct buildings better and out of harmís way.

He told listeners during a tour to the hard-hit region that more care must be taken with the construction methods used to put up buildings. He said foundations must be made of concrete. Many now are made of adobe brick and rock.

Pacheco has only been president since Wednesday. The rain started falling Saturday, May 4, and travel from the eastern slope was cut off Sunday. But the full impact of the disaster did not become known until Pacheco and members of the news media toured the area Friday.

Rain on the Atlantic slope is not unusual. The area is one of the wetter in Costa Rica. But storms dropped more than 10 inches in some places, although the actual amounts were highly variable. 

Don't miss Patricia Martin's report 
on the west coast of Nicoya
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Ban on killing of whales might be weakened
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó Proposals from Japan and other countries that would weaken the 16-year moratorium on commercial whaling threaten to mire the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission in controversy.

Thatís according to the U.S. commissioner to the group, Rollie Schmitten.

Schmitten will lead the U.S. delegation to the plenary assembly in Japan. He said in an interview that the United States will continue its firm opposition to commercial whaling, a policy that has remained in place under four successive administrations.

At issue is Japan's recent proposal to expand its scientific whaling research to include catches of the endangered sei whale. Many governments and environmentalists have criticized Japan's research program as a thinly veiled form of commercial whaling. They argue that the products of allegedly "scientific" whale catches are regularly sold in Japanese restaurants and that research could be conducted without killing the whales.

Japanese officials say their research is necessary to assess the effects of the whales' fish consumption on marine resources. They also point to the long tradition of whaling in Japanese culture. The site of the commission meeting, the port city of Shimonoseki, is a major Japanese whaling base.

For its part, the United States has long urged Japan to substitute non-lethal techniques for its research and last week joined 17 other countries in registering objections to Japanese whaling policies.

The U.S. delegation also will pursue long-standing policies supporting subsistence whaling by aboriginal communities, the creation of new whale sanctuaries, and completion of a revised management scheme to guide future policy. 

Because countries are allowed to submit articles of ratification up until the start of the plenary, the 2002 meeting could conceivably produce a shift in favor of commercial whaling within the commission, which currently has 44 members. Schmitten said that such a shift was unlikely. "As of today, I feel quite confident" of maintaining the anti-whaling majority at the IWC, he said.

Even if the balance were to shift, he added, pro-whaling nations would lack the three-quarters majority necessary to overturn the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling.

On another issue, Schmitten said the United States would support Iceland's bid to join the commission but could not accept that country's request to be exempt from the ban on commercial whaling. No other country has been allowed to place conditions on its membership, and the United States believes that Iceland's obligations should be consistent with those of all other members, he indicated.

The United States also remains opposed to Norway's plan to resume its international trade in whale products although the plan itself has been modified since Norway made its surprise proposal in January 2001, Schmitten said.

The commission began its month-long series of meetings on April 25 and will conclude with the ballot-casting plenary assembly scheduled for May 20 to 24.

Central Market becomes watercolor artist's subject
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San Joséís Central Market, founded in 1880, is the subject of an exposition of watercolors that opens today at the National Museum. 

The 19 watercolors are by Rebeca Fernández Zeledón and feature locations and individuals who work at the market. The show, which is on the wall of a gallery of the museum, runs until June 23.

A visitor will meet another "Rebeca," a girl who sells door-to-door, and "Ternera," a man who earns a living carrying heavy boxes and other bundles from one tramo or sales locations to another. Then there is the "Cantina la Novia" where many red noses can be found, said the artist.

The works were done in 1996 and feature the actual people and places that a visitor to the Central market would find. The market itself occupies a full city block between calles 6 and 8 and Avenida Principal and Avenida 1. The nondescript exterior

opens up to a labyrinth of passageway and stalls where everything from a hearty soup to medicinal plants are sold.

The market is a good place to find leather goods, too, although a lot of visitors avoid it because it is in a section of town that is highly commercial and at the end of the pedestrian mall through the downtown. The area also is known as a gathering place for pickpockets and thieves.

The National Museum is in the former Bella Vista fortress just east of the Plaza de la Democracia.


 
 
Compromise appears reached on U.S. trade bill
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó U.S. Senate leaders have reached a breakthrough agreement on a trade legislative package, including trade negotiating authority for the president.

Late Thursday Sen. Max Baucus, Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, senior Republican on the committee, said they and other senators reached the agreement after weeks of negotiations.

President Bush was expected to approve the agreement, which was completed with crucial participation by his top legislative assistant.

Republicans accepted a major expansion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program of benefits for workers who lose their jobs as a result of imports. Under the agreement those workers would receive a 70-percent tax credit to pay for health insurance. Democrats withdrew their last-minute addition to the package that would have extended such benefits to retired steelworkers.

The package also includes new authorization of trade promotion authority, otherwise known as fast track; reauthorization of Andean Trade Preference Act tariff benefits for Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and reauthorization of Generalized System

of Preferences tariff benefits on selected products for about 140 developing countries.

Baucus and Grassley predicted the package would pass the Senate some time the following week, but obstacles to final passage remain.

Some Republican senators went to the Senate floor Friday to denounce the agreement as an expensive new entitlement program. Controversial amendments, some vigorously opposed by the Bush Administration, remain pending in the Senate debate. 

And whatever package might pass the Senate, difficult negotiations are expected to arrange a final bill with the House of Representatives, which managed to pass its version of fast track in December by the narrowest margin, 215-214.

Under fast track, Congress restricts itself only to approve or reject a negotiated trade agreement, within strict time limits and without amendments. Since the previous grant expired early in 1994, attempts to reauthorize TPA have failed over labor and environmental issues.

President Bush has sought fast track for negotiating agreements in the World Trade Organization and Free Trade Area of the Americas as well as other regional and bilateral agreements. 


 
Solitary individual is target, robbery expert says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The best thing that tourists and foreigners can do to avoid robbers is to avoid walking alone through the downtown.

Thatís the word from Gustavo Matta, head of the robbery section of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Despite continual and well-publicized robberies along Avenida 1 near Calle 5, Matta said Friday that statistics show such events actually have decreased.

Matta also said that his organization has prepared a pamphlet with the hope that the warnings contained therein would cut down on crime. The pamphlet is prepared in conjunction with the section that handles vehicle thefts and assaults. The document contains such sensible warnings like donít count money while walking down the street.

Matta agreed that a number of foreigners do not report robberies. He was told that at least 40 muggings had taken place along Avenida 1 during the last year. On one Saturday night at least three persons were mugged by what appears to be the same group of robbers.

Matta said that the technique the robbers use, an arm around the victimís neck that stops blood flow to the brain, is well-known among the underworld. He discounted the persistent rumor among foreigners in the downtown that the men probably have military or police training. 

From three to four men are known to mug 

passersby in the general area of the corner of 
Avenida 1 and Calle 5. Not all the victims are inebriated tourists. Business owners have been attacked, too. The crimes usually take place on Friday or Saturday nights between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

One individual grabs a victim from behind and uses the arm hold to cause a blackout. As the victim falls to the pavement, other men appear to strip him of his valuables. 
 

Author puts out
travel guide update

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Harry S. Pariser, author of "Explore Costa Rica," a travel guide published by Manatee Press, has set up an update site for those who have purchased his book. He is publishing "Explore Costa Rica Update" in a monthly newsletter format.

The newsletters is available at www.savethemanatee.com. Pariserís book is distinctive because it bears the photo of Arenal Volcano in full eruption. In his newsletter he addresses the election of Abel Pacheco as Costa Ricaís president. He also provides an article and Web links to information on the proposal to drill for oil off the Caribbean coast near Limón.

Several restaurant reviews, paragraphs on some news stores in Heredia and information on Spanish language schools also are included.

Artist colony plans
cabin expansions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dr. William L. White has announced plans to expand the Julia and David White Artistsí colony in Ciudad Colón.

He also announced that the foundation that runs the artistsí colony has set up a new website: www.forjuliaanddavid.org and will embark on a fund-raising project.

In an e-mail sent to friends and supporters, White said "We want to build three new cabins in addition to the four we already have. We can then accommodate six artists each month and have one cottage for visitors.

The colony hosts serious artists, who may be musicians, painters, writers, poets, composers and others involved in creative works. The colony was opened in 1998 and named in honor of the Whiteís two children, Julia, a poet and astrophysicist who committed suicide in 1994, and David, a gifted musician who died of a drug overdose in 1996.

White said that up until now he has paid the costs of the artistsí colony from his own pocket and from donations from close friends. But these new projects need additional financing, he said. In addition to the structures, he said he wants to purchase a concert piano and a keyboard for composers.

The colony is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for U.S. tax purposes, meaning that donations are deductible.
 

Bush will name
diplomat to Nicaragua

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó President George Bush said he will name Barbara Calandra Moore to be ambassador to Nicaragua. 

Ms. Moore is a career member of the foreign service and has served as deputy chief of mission and intermittently charge d'affairs in Bogota. 

From 1997 to 1998, she was deputy director of Inter-American affairs for the United States Information Agency, where she supervised the public affairs activities of 16 embassies. From 1993 to 1997, Ms. Moore served as counselor for public affairs in Santiago, Chile. Her previous overseas assignments include service as information officer in Caracas, Venezuela, branch public affairs officer in Toronto, Canada, and program officer in Mexico City. 

Ms. Moore is a graduate of the College of New Rochelle. 

At the same time Bush said he intends to nominate Krisite A. Kenney to be ambassador to Ecuador. She is senior advisor to the assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement.  From 1998 to 2001, she served as the first female executive secretary of the State Department. 

Dispute among Indians
erupts in Honduras

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An Indian leader in Central Honduras was assassinated May 1 several days after he went public with a claim that money had been misappropriated, according to Indian advocates.

He was Luis Soto of the Tulupan Tribe. A few days earlier Firpo Fuñez, son of an ex-chief, was ambushed and a member of his party killed, the advocates said.

An international organization concerned with Indian welfare said that at least 11 persons have been killed in the last few months. The bloody dispute seems to be a fight over control of income from lumbering operations. 

Another tribe, the Xicaques, also seem to have been caught up in the fighting and are abandoning their traditional lands for the safety of cities, according to reports from the area.

Supporters of the Indians, the Committee of Support for the Ethnics, conducted a protest May 4 at San Pedro Sula where they said they learned of the May 1 shooting.

The events are unfolding in Yoro Department in Central Honduras. The Indian supporters said that a coalition of lumber operators, the Corporacion Hondureña de Desarrollo Forestal and some Indian leaders are anxious to force residents from the land. Lumber firms pay a 15 percent tax to the Indians for the wood they remove, and this is the money that Soto said had been misappropriated.

The claims by the Indian advocates could not be verified independently.
 

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ó John 3:16
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A.M. Costa Rica

Carter in Havana
for historic visit

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

HAVANA, Cuba ó Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is in Cuba. The arrival marks the first time a former or sitting U.S. president has visited the island country since the 1959 Communist revolution.

Sunday, on the first day of his week-long visit, Carter was greeted by Cuban President Fidel Castro at Jose Marti International Airport and then taken on a tour of Old Havana.

Carter, speaking in Spanish at his arrival, said he was delighted to be in Cuba and eager to see the accomplishments of the Cuban people in education and health care. He is expected to tour schools, medical facilities and agricultural projects.

President Castro said the U.S. dignitary is free to meet whoever he wants and will also be allowed to visit biotech research facilities alleged by the Bush Administration to produce biological weapons. Cuba's government denies such weapons are being produced.

Castro also praised Carter for seeking closer U.S.-Cuban ties during his time in office from 1977 to 1981. The United States and Cuba do not maintain full diplomatic relations.

Also a U.S. trade embargo has been imposed against the island for 40 years. Carter has recently spoken out against the embargo. However, he is expected to address issues of human rights and democracy when he speaks to the Cuban people on television Tuesday night. He will also seek to meet dissidents to Castro's government.

The former U.S. president is traveling with his wife and a small group of executives and staff from the couple's non-profit Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Anti-Chavez march
held in Venezuela

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela ó Tens of thousands of opponents of President Hugo Chavez have marched in the streets of the capital, Caracas, in memory of victims of violent protests last month that led to a failed coup attempt. 

Many demonstrators wore black during Saturday's march, carrying anti-Chavez signs and chanting, "We are not afraid." 

The president's supporters held a memorial rally in a different part of the city. They also demanded an investigation into who started the violence during anti-government demonstrations April 11, when at least 17 people died and hundreds were wounded. 

A government commission has been documenting hours of often conflicting testimony by witnesses. Critics of Chavez say gunmen loyal to him opened fire on peaceful protesters. The president's supporters insist the protest march was part of a plot to overthrow him. 

The bloodshed triggered a coup by military officers who temporarily removed Chavez from power and installed an interim civilian government. The new government soon collapsed as the military withdrew its support, paving the way for the president's return. 

New system in U.S.
will track students

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft has announced a new system for tracking the more than one million foreign individuals who are in the United States attending colleges, universities and trade schools.

Speaking at a Friday news conference, Ashcroft said the Student Exchange and Visitor Information System would bring the nation's student visa system into the 21st century by taking advantage of the latest technology to link colleges and universities to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in a centralized, rapid-access reporting system.

Ashcroft said that the system will make information submitted by learning institutions, such as whether a student has enrolled, dropped out or been expelled, available centrally in a database. It will also allow schools to transmit the information electronically via the Internet.

Ashcroft said the system will help to reduce student visa fraud. Under the current system, student visa forms are subject to theft and are often sold and used to support fraudulent visa applications. The system will solve this problem by canceling the unused forms and taking them out of circulation, he said.

The new system will be implemented on a voluntary basis beginning July 1 and become mandatory on Jan. 30, 2003.

One of the hijackers involved in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington entered the United States on a student visa. Two other hijackers were awarded their visas by the immigration sevice six months after the attacks, something that enranged congress and their administration and contributed to plans to break up the service into two separate agencies.

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