A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language news source
Monday through Friday

Place your free classified ad

Click Here
These stories were published Monday, May 20, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 98
Jo Stuart
About us
A.M. Costa Rica photos by Saray Ramírez Vindas 
Quitirrisí sits on a hill high above the Puriscal Highway. And it was full of devils and other strange creatures Sunday as the local fiesta continued with a costume parade.

Residents were raising money for the local school with handicrafts and food. The village is part of the Huetar Indiginous Reserve and just 20 miles west of San José.

Above, the accordion has replaced more traditional instruments. Above right, even devils get hot under their costumes, while, right, homemade costumes and masks were in vogue.

Vehicle inspections put off for at least a month
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A plan to inspect every motor vehicle in Costa Rica has been put off for at least a month.

Inspections were supposed to start May 28, but the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transporte said Friday that the starting date would be put off.

There seems to be two problems. First, the Spanish-Costa Rican firm that will do the inspections for the government has not finished all of its 16 stations.

Second, some uncertainty exists as to exactly how much the firm can charge for the work. The proposed price is 8,000 colons ($22.60), but that amount has not been fully approved by the official bureaucracy.

There may be another reason. Costa Ricans are furious and frightened by the plan. They are organizing with plans for some public demonstrations. No demonstrations are likely this week because the starting date has been delayed, but organizers now are looking at May 27 as the date for a national demonstration.

The fury stems, in part, from the selection of a Spanish firm to do the work. The word "monopoly" and "foreigners" seem to be sprinkled in every discussion with opponents. The firm is RITEVE, SyC, a combination of Supervisión y Control S.A. and Transal S.A. The first is Spanish, but the second firm that is a partner in the project is Costa Rican.

Foes prepared this bumper sticker

A bumper sticker being distributed among taxi drivers stresses the foreign element and says in Spanish  "Inspection and repair in a Tico shop."

The fear stems from the belief that many cars will not pass the 80-point inspection, not the first time and not ever. Many cars on the road have decent brakes mostly workable lights but would need extensive investments to bring them to original specifications. 

Many vehicles used to transport agricultural products are marginal, at best. 

So some agricultural organizations are allied with other unions and taxi cooperatives in strongly opposing the measure.

The inspection opposition represents the first real political challenge for President Abel Pacheco, who was in Spain much of last week. As he returns, he will find a number of strong organizations and unions asking that the inspection plan be thrown out. 

The Spanish-Costa Rican partnership says it will have invested more than $22 million to get the inspection program off the ground.

our daily 
Check out
Check out
our back
Send us

news story
Visit our
Visit our 
Visit our
real estate
Costa Rica
hits in April.
The Vault is a convenient profit oriented partnership.  It is not a bank, not a loan company, not an investment firm.  However, our partners feel the benefits our firm receives from all three.  They allow us and you not to stand in line.  We report your growth as a convenient information source.  In this way we all work together as successful partners.
"Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success."
- Henry Ford
How to live, invest or find romance in Costa Rica

Click above
Bush plans to soften his stand on Cuban embargo
by the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire services

MIAMI, Fla. — President George W. Bush will make an offer to revise U.S. relations with Cuba, according to an advanced text of the speech he is secheduled to deliver later today.

Bush will announce an "initiative for a new Cuba" that calls upon the Cuban government to undertake fundamental political and economic reforms and to conduct free and fair elections next year for the National Assembly, according to a fact sheet on the speech released by the White House Sunday night.

In his prepared address, Bush challenges the Cuban government to open its economy, allow independent trade unions, and end discrimination against Cuban workers. 

If the Cuban authorities take these concrete steps toward democracy, President Bush pledges that he will work with the U.S. Congress to ease the ban on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba. 

The initiative for a new Cuba offers a number of immediate steps to make life better for Cubans, 

including facilitating humanitarian assistance by religious and other non-governmental groups, establishing scholarships for students and professionals seeking to build independent civil institutions, and reestablishing direct mail service to and from Cuba.  The initiative also states that the United States is not a threat to Cuban sovereignty.

The prepared text appears to be much less hard-line than what observers were expecting. Bush was expected to continue a tough economic embargo against the Communist island nation just 90 miles from the United States, in addition to other controversial hard-line policies. 

The president’s speech comes a week after former President Jimmy Carter's historic visit. In what was the first trip by a current or former U.S. head of state to the Communist country, Carter said he was "pleased" following meetings with Cuban President Fidel Castro, prominent dissidents and members of the Cuban media. 

President Carter opposes the current U.S. economic embargo. Economic measures against Cuba stir passions within the United States, especially among members of the Cuban-American community based in Miami.

Boost in European trade ties encouraged in Madrid
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MADRID, Spain — Leaders from the 15-nation European Union and leaders from some of Latin America's poorest countries agreed Saturday to boost economic ties and begin to clear the way for a new framework that could lead to free trade talks down the road. But the Madrid summit did have some detractors .

The summit, which brought together nearly 50 leaders from Latin America, marks the first time the EU has hinted at the possibility of opening free trade negotiations with the region. 

While this move may have placated some Latin American leaders who have long charged Europe with ignoring the region, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez voiced some skepticism about the overall meeting. Rather than attend a meeting between EU leaders and Andean nations, Chavez held a press conference before leaving Madrid in which he said that historically these summits accomplish little. He said that Latin American leaders went from "summit to summit" while people in these nations went from "abyss to abyss."

In response, Spanish Prime Minister Jose María Aznar, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, listed what he believed were clear signs that the summit was a success: a clear analysis of the problems of terrorism and drug-trafficking, a trade agreement signed with Chile, as well as meetings with the various regional organizations of the Americas aimed at increasing economic, political and cultural cooperation. 

Mexican President Vicente Fox and Brazilian President Enrique Cardoso also praised the 
outcome of the summit, pointing out that Spain had 

developed economically in the past 40 years as a result of European and U.S. investments.

Fox, whose country became the first Latin American country to have an association agreement with the EU, stressed the importance of "closeness" between Latin America and Europe. The two sides agreed to hold a ministerial meeting in Brazil in July to push for slow free-trade talks between the EU and Mercosur, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The next EU-Latin America summit will be held in Mexico in 2005.

OAS donates cash
for flood victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Organization of American States has sent $20,000 to Costa Rica as emergency aid for flood victims on the Atlantic Slope.

That was announced over the weekend by the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto. The actual delivery of funds was made in Washington by Luigi Einaudi or the organization to the ambassador to Costa Rica at the OAS, Hernán Castro.

The most seriously affected communities are Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Batán, Matina, Valle de la Estrella, Bratsi en Talamanca and Turrialba, noted the ministry. 

The place with the greatest number of victims is Valle de la Estrella with 2,721 persons. Material damage is approaching 3.6 billion colons or about $10 million, according to preliminary estimates.

Big Texas raid
frees youngsters

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Federal, state and city police raided a handful of bars in Fort Worth, Texas, Thursday night, arrested 88 persons and placed in protective custody large numbers of Honduran youngsters who were forced to work as prostitutes.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram newspaper said the raid involved six bars in the northern part of the city, plus several private homes.

"The rescued victims and witnesses are safe and are being housed in a secure location where their needs are being met and their anonymity is being protected," U.S. Attorney Jane Boyle and Ralph
Boyd Jr., an assistant attorney general for civil rights, said in a joint statement, according to the newspaper.

Casa Alianza in San José said the organization would volunteer to help repatriate the young Hondurans. The organization also said that the Texans arrested were a blow to a supposed network of traffickers who brought Honduran young women from Central America to Texas as sex slaves.

The youngsters are tricked into thinking that they are going to get work in hotels or restaurants, but when they reach the United States they are forced into prostitution, the organization said.

F.B.I. agents and others involved in the raid were tight-lipped as to the number of persons arrested. A Fort Worth police captain said 61 girls and women were detained, mainly for immigration violations. He said at least 11 of those were believed to be underage, said the newspaper. Sources have said the girls were as young as 12, the newspaper added.

"We don't really know if they're volunteers or if they were forced into it," the police captain said of the young prostitutes, according to the newspaper.

Some consular fees
will increase soon

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. citizens won one and lost one when the U.S. Department of State adjusted its fee schedule. The new fees go into effect June 1.

The consular report of birth abroad documentation fee will be raised to $65 (from $40), while the fee for performance of notarial services will be lowered to a two-tiered schedule costing $20 to $30, depending on service rendered (from $55), said Richard Boucher, spokesman for the department.

The fee for passports will not be changed until Aug. 19 when those fees will be revised. But the Department of State did not say what the new passport fee would be.

The State Department said it is required by federal regulations and law to recover the costs of most consular services through user fees, and must
adjust the fee schedule periodically to comply with that requirement.

The big hit went to non-U.S. citizens. The nonimmigrant visa application fee will increase to $65 (from $45), said the department. That’s 44 percent. "This increased fee will recover the actual cost of the service, including the machine readable visa and processing through our sophisticated name-check technology," said the department.  Immigrant visa fees will rise to $335 (from $325), a release said.

Police commander
gets 228 years

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Brazilian court has sentenced a police commander to 228 years in prison for his role in the massacre of 19 peasants six years ago in the eastern Amazon state of Para. 

A court in the Amazon port city of Belem Thursday sentenced Lt.  Col. Mario Pantoja to 12 years in prison for each of the 19 peasants killed.

Pantoja was in charge when police opened fire on a group of more than 1,000 landless farmworkers who were blocking a highway in Eldorado do Carajas, in the state of Para. Aside from those killed, 80 others were wounded.

Pantoja, Maj. Jose Maria Oliveira and Capt. Raimundo Almendra were the first of 149 policemen to stand trial for the killings. The court Thursday acquitted Capt. Almendra and rescheduled the trial for Maj. Oliveira for next Tuesday.

This is the second time the three have been put on trial. In August 1999, a court acquitted the three men for insufficient evidence, a verdict that was later overturned after raising a huge outcry both domestically and internationally.

A lawyer representing the families of the victims expressed satisfaction over the sentence handed down for Pantoja. But lawyer Marcelo Freitas said he is dismayed that Capt. Almendra was acquitted.

"We're satisfied with the sentence for commander Mario Pantoja. We think the punishment is compatible with the crimes committed," he said. "But we're dissatisfied with the acquittal of Captain Almendra. He should have been punished because he assumed the command of the forces on the ground, so he contributed in the same way as Pantoja to these crimes."

However, the jury decided by a vote of four to three that the captain did not bear as much responsibility for the crimes as Pantoja.

Pantoja will appeal his sentence, and the court decided to let him keep his freedom during the appeal process, an action that was denounced by lawyer Freitas.

"We believe this decision is absurd, and because of this he will delay the process for as long as he can," said Freitas. "Once he reaches the age of 70, he cannot under Brazilian law serve his sentence in prison."

The Eldorado do Carajas trial has received widespread publicity in Brazil, and is being seen by human rights groups as a test of the willingness of Brazilian authorities to prosecute police. The remaining 146 defendants will be tried in separate sessions later this month and in early June. 

14 tourists nabbed
in gambling location

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Some 13 Costa Ricans and a Colombian refugee with residency here were arrested at an illegal gambling operation here over the weekend.

Costa Rican diplomats were working to get them out of jail and complained that such violations usually result in tickets and court summons instead of jail.

The detained individuals were said to be tourists. 

Sportsbook owners: 

If you have a sportsbook,
you can add an online Flash casino
so easily with our proprietary software. 
The Casino Factory
Serving the needs of the industry
Creating casino software in Costa Rica for four years.

(506) 388-0076

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001 and 2002 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.