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(506) 223-1327       Published Friday, May 19, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 99        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Businessman Pat Dunn killed in Ecuador
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(posted 4 p.m. Friday, May 19, 2006)
Well-known San José businessman Pat Dunn died early Thursday in Manta, Ecuador, when he confronted burglars in his bar.

Dunn, a Costa Rican as well as a U.S. citizen, spent at least 25 years in San José and was known to many visitors as the jovial operator of the New York Bar. He also operated the Piano Blanco Bar on the capital's boulevard until it was displaced a year ago by a construction project of the Hotel Balmoral.

A family member said that Dunn was asleep in his bar in Manta, Nashville South, when intruders woke him up. He fought with them. Death was believed caused by stab wounds.
 The La Hora newspaper in Quito reported he had been stabbed nine times.

The newspaper speculated that the killers came for the cash that Dunn kept on hand, perhaps as much as $1,500.

Dunn, 68, said that Ecuador was like the Costa Rica he knew when he first arrived here. He started up the Nashville South Bar about four years ago and had plans to do more business in Ecuador.

Manta is a sea port on the Pacific near the Ecuadorean Eloy Alfaro International Airport that is being used by the United States in the fight against drugs. Dunn's bar catered to the North Americans visiting and working there.

Second photographer also took shot of disk
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Photos published here April 3 that showed unidentified objects over San José have been supported by the discovery of a similar photo in the camera of a photographer for one of the Spanish-language dailies.

Meanwhile, those who study phenomena in the sky as a hobby report that the incidents of unidentified object sightings are increasing over Costa Rica.

Saray Ramírez Vindas, A.M. Costa Rica associate editor, took the initial shots March 31. Two of them showed what looked like a circular cloud over the building of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros. The photos were taken from the third floor of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones while Óscar Arias Sánchez was being told formally that he had won the presidential election.

A third photograph showed what seemed to be a metal object in the sky.

Ms. Ramírez had as a goal to take a photo of a pretty San José sunset. She was unaware of what was in her photos until she reviewed them at her office.

Some readers criticized the photos and suggested they were of reflections from interior lighting at the elections headquarters. Mrs. Ramírez later reported that she held the camera outside the window glass to avoid such reflections.

At the same time, a photographer for Prensa Libre was captivated by the same sunset. He shot similar photos alongside Ms. Ramírez.

This week he reported that his camera also captured an oval object. He is Daniel Rodríguez. Prensa Libre is part of the La Extra publication group.

When Rodriguez originally heard of the photos, he was dismissive. In fact, he deleted some of his photos from the professional digital camera. Four weeks passed before he could be convinced to study his photos in detail. After he did, he gave this newspaper a copy of what he found and admitted he was surprised.

Local followers of unidentified objects were quick to obtain copies of the photos taken by Ms. Ramírez. A technician applied various filters, pronounced the shots not contrived and said the object appeared to have depth

This is the photo of Prensa Libre photographer Daniel Rodríguez that shows a disk-like object above the Instituto Nacional de Seguros.

and mass. The technician also viewed the ultraviolet and infared signatures of the object.

The photos were posted with permission on the enigma-tico.com site, where some 40 local photos of one or more unexplained objects are displayed. The results of the filter tests also are there.

Alex Astua, who operates the Web site, credits the invention of the digital camera for capturing hundreds of photos worldwide as well as the infrared and ultraviolet images humans cannot see. He also says:

"From the 15 of December to the present date, more than 30 photos of UFOs (unidentified flying objects) . . .  have been captured in the Costa Rican skies. There are about seven video professionals and amateurs and hundreds of witnesses seeing the revolutions of these objects flying over different locations of Costa Rica."

Astua said there might be some link between the unidentified objects and the increased activity in two of the nation's volcanos, Póas and Arenal.

Costa Rica has had a flying saucer flap before. News archives show that persons in San Isidro, Quepos, Ciudad Colón, Santiago de Puriscal, Parrita, Esterillos and even Juan Santamaría airport reported strange lights in the sky in late December 1996 and early January 1997.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 19, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 99

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Arias seeking to triple
yearly foreign investments

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez says it is indispensable that the nation triple its estimated $600 million a year in foreign investment.

"We have to construct what we have left undone for many years," said the president. "Costa Rica has to be more attractive," he added, noting that a great weakness for the country is the infrastructure. He called for more hotels.

The president also called enlarging and remodeling the Daniel Oduber Quirós airport in Liberia an urgent need. He said the airport attracts 130 executive jets a month but due to lack of space the planes have to go elsewhere.

The president was speaking at the Hotel Real Intercontinental in Escazú where plans for the Complejo Turistico Azulera in Bahia Brasilito, Guanacaste, were presented. Part of the project will be the Hyatt Regency Azulera Resort & Spa, which will begin to be constructed in July with the first phase projected to be completed in 2008. The entire project is estimated at $200 million.

Man in Heredia held
as part of big drug bust

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Venezuelan who has lived in Heredia since 2004 came into police custody Thursday as part of a multinational anti-drug effort that netted 100 individuals and confiscated more than 47,500 kilos of drugs.

Worldwide the action was coordinated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Arrested here was Dunn Aguilera of San Joaquin de Flores, Heredia. Agents said he was linked to Pablo Rayo Monano, the multimillionaire narcotrafficker who is a former member of the Cali Cartel.

The man was arrested near the Parque la Aurora in Heredia. Agents said they thought he was headed to work in Puntarenas where he is a ship captain. He faces extradition to the United States.

Murdered woman had
no-contact order

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman who was murdered along with her 5-year-old daughter Wednesday had obtained a court order of no contact against the man later arrested for investigation in the crime, according to a spokesman for the Poder Judicial

The dead woman, Yorleny Herrera Amador, went to court to obtain the order May 3, the judicial spokesman said. The man now facing the murder allegations, identified by the last name of Garcia, was notified a day later, the spokesman said. The action was in the Juzgado de Violencia Doméstica de Desamparados.

The dead woman lived in Los Guidos de Desamparados. A prosecutor asked a judge Thursday to order the suspect  held for a year of pretrial detention.

Our reader's opinion

He's sick of Bush-bashers

Dear A.M. Costa Rica,

That letter from Mr. Gesler in your issue of May 18th, about Laura Bush was so juvenile as to be comical.  I am getting so sick of reading the monotonous, trite, Bush-bashing daitribes of these people who have nothing to do but write in with meaningless criticisms of the U.S. government.

Laura Bush is a fine representative of our government, and I'm sure Mr. Arias was quite pleased to receive her. You know your Costa Rican history sir, but now you need to get a life!
Joe Furlong,
Cape Haze, Florida, U.S.A.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 19, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 99


The uphill battle of a Texas girl who was an artist
“By God, this is a painting done by a man who knew war!”  The military man who made this comment was looking at “Death of Col. William B. Travis at the Alamo.”  The painting, filled with the action and death throes of a great battle, was the work of artist Ruth Conerly, who overheard the comment and valued it over all the other tributes to her prize-winning painting.   She may not have known war, but Ruth, “A Girl from Texas,” knew hard times and struggle and the joys of winning. 

Like many women artists of the last century, Ruth Conerly is little known, although anyone over 60 probably would recognize her illustrations depicting the fashions and times (especially the holidays) from the 30s, 40s and on.

Born in 1908, She was stricken with polio when she was 3 and left with a weakened and thin right leg.  Her family was comfortably off in her small hometown in Texas until the mysterious malady and suicide death of her beloved father when she was just 11.  People shunned the surviving widow and her children because the townspeople believed her father not only killed himself but was crazy to boot. 

 However, Ruth’s artistic talent was recognized early and at the age of 15 she was offered a year’s scholarship at Sullins College in Virginia.  There she fell in love with sculpting.  But there was no money in sculpting, and Lizzy, Ruth’s mother, had told her she was going to have to support herself as soon as she could. 

“A Girl From Texas” is the biography of this beautiful and talented woman artist who managed to make a successful living from her art, in spite of the challenges of her early life and the two men she loved who did their seemingly best to thwart her.  Her first husband, Ted, was a charming spendthrift and womanizer. Her second, Zach, was a control freak who was jealous of her success and who insisted, in spite of the long hours she worked, that Ruth do all of the housework herself, including washing clothes by hand! 

I found myself saying, “Ruth!  Don’t let him do that to you!”  when she would comply first with Ted and then Zach’s outrageous demands.  And then I would remember that that is the way wives behaved back then, talented or not — unless you were Katharine Hepburn. 

As it was, Ruth moved from Texas to New York to Chicago and back to Texas because of her husbands’ work, not hers, although she must have been the major breadwinner, making as much as $1,000 a week during the Depression.  In New York she and Ted, started out so poor they only had potatoes to eat, but within a couple of years were living the high life with the likes of Ira Gershwin and friends. 

Through it all Ruth not only never quit working, but produced a prodigious accumulation of illustrations for Metro Advertising and others.  Her art depicted the fashions and changes of the times; and leafing through her illustrations, one gets a real sense of the history, highly romanticized, but then, it was a romantic era compared to today.  Metro sold the art and advertising layouts to its newspaper and magainze customers.

I like to read while I ride the bus, but I always manage to keep my eye on the bus’s progress.  Twice I took "A Girl from Texas" with me, and twice I missed my bus stops:  Once reading the book, and once perusing the wonderful illustrations and portraits she produced in her lifetime.  What has fascinated me about her commercial art is the vitality and action always present.  No one is still, her characters practically jump off the page with energy and movement.   They also have a three-dimensional quality that must have come from her work as a sculptor.
Ruth’s story is told by her only daughter. Dr. Sharon Smith Wolf.  Sharon is well-known among both Costa Ricans and expats in Costa Rica. She met and married a young Costa Rican who was visiting neighbors in Texas, and, to her mother’s dismay, moved out of
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart


Cover of 'A Girl from Texas'

her home to spend most of her adult life in Costa Rica.

I met Sharon only recently, although I had heard about her over the years when someone mentioned “that wonderful doctor, Sharon Smith.” After teaching sixth grade for a while, she was told that she would have to get a degree if she wished to continue to teach.

Thinking that if she were going to get a degree, it might as well be one that would qualify her to do something other than teach (which she had been doing very successfully without one!), so she enrolled in medical school at the University of Costa Rica. 

Partly because of her own medical background and curiosity and partly because of her mother’s undying belief that her father was not mentally ill, besides writing the story of her mother’s life, Sharon has included in her book her own research into the medical mystery of her grandfather’s death.  This search, fascinating in itself, took Sharon on many trips, through both time and space. 

Ruth was also known in Costa Rica, even before she came to visit and then, in her last years, to live here.  She was called Mrs. Christmas by the local newspapers, like La Nación, which carried much of her advertising artwork (sent to many countries by Metro), especially the good will art that she did for Christmas ads for the likes of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

In 1990, Ruth, now a widow for the second time, moved to Costa Rica to be with her daughter.  Thinking she wanted a small home, she ended up buying a spacious and beautiful house because it had pillars both at the front entrance and the back (I guess it’s true, you can’t take the South of the girl).)

Sharon now lives in that house surrounded by her mother’s artwork, especially some wonderful portraits that she did.  She even has a copy of  “The Death of Col. Travis at the Alamo,” which her mother did just for her.  The original of that painting hung to the left of the entrance of the Alamo proper for 50 years.     

"A Girl From Texas" is available at all the Libreria Internacional outlets.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 19, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 99

Nicaragua has made advances, Monetary Fund says
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Nicaragua has made many important advances in its fiscal and political situation over the last few years, including an economy that has grown while poverty has fallen, says the International Monetary Fund.

The country's stable macroeconomic environment has supported incomes of the poor and created more jobs, said the fund, adding that in addition, several key reforms have advanced in the areas of improving revenues, and strengthening governance and the financial sector framework.

The fund said it welcomed Nicaragua's approval of a free-trade agreement with the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic.  But Nicaragua needed to improve its investment climate, governance, and the legal and regulatory framework further in order to leverage fully the free-trade pact's potential, the fund said.

The United States, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua signed the trade pact in August 2004.  El Salvador was the first nation to ratify the trade pact in December 2004.  Nicaragua ratified the treaty in October 2005.  In the United States, implementing legislation for the treaty was passed by the U.S. Senate in June 2005 and by the House of Representatives in July 2005. It was
signed by President George Bush in August 2005. Costa Rica has yet to ratify the pact.

The fund said that, following a decade of economic decline, Nicaragua's return to democracy and adoption of economic reforms in the early 1990s generated a strong recovery.

The Nicaraguan government that took office in 2002 moved quickly to tighten the country's fiscal and monetary policy stance.  The country's gross domestic product increased from 0.8 percent in 2002 to 5.1 percent in 2004, inflation remained stable, averaging 6.6 percent in this period, according to the report.

Nicaragua's economy was affected adversely by the increase in international oil prices, which has slowed growth and contributed to higher inflation, the report said, estimating that gross domestic product growth moderated to 4 percent in 2005 while inflation ended that year at 9.6 percent.

The fund said Nicaragua's economic program went off-track at the end of 2004 reflecting the effect of the country's heightened political tensions.  Since then, Nicaraguan authorities have sought to "reforge the domestic political consensus" for economic reforms, "strengthen the macro-policy framework and advance key structural reforms to bring the program back on track," the fund said.

Fujimori gets out of jail after bail is posted and elections in Perú are held
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Chile's Supreme Court has granted provisional bail to former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori while he awaits possible extradition to Peru.

Fujimori was smiling Thursday as he walked out of prison in Santiago. Earlier the court had ruled that Fujimori's release was not a threat to society, but it upheld an order that bars him from leaving Chile.

Bail was set at about $3,000.
The former president was detained more than six months ago after arriving in Chile from Japan, where he lived since fleeing Peru and resigning his office in 2000.

Peru is seeking to prosecute Fujimori for alleged corruption and human rights abuses during his 10-year rule.

He rejected the charges as a plot to derail his plans to run for president again in elections held earlier this year.

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