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(506) 223-1327        Published Friday, June 9, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 114        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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A.M. Costa Rica photos/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
German Ambassador Volker Fink and his wife, Ingeburg, applaud at the Club Aleman Friday
while two Costa Rican fans cheer as the Tico team scores goals.

Costa Rica holds up its end, but Germany wins
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(updated at 12:45 p.m. Friday)
A faster, more precise German team outshot and outscored Costa Rica 4-2 in the opening match of the 2006 World Cup.

The score did not reflect the action. Much of the game was contested in the Costa Rican end of the field. Germany had some 30 shots on goal while Costa Rica had six.

Locally, football fans expressed satisfaction that Costa Rica was not embarrassed in the game with the much stronger European rival. Pre-game estimates had Costa Rica losing by as much as 5-0.

The German national soccer team had scored more than a dozen goals in pre-World Cup play, and the Costa Rican team had scored just two.

The game was in Munich, and Costa Ricans here had the benefit of a half-day holiday decreed by the government. The stadium contained a large contingent of red-shirted Tico fans.

The Tico national team seemed confused by the aggressive, in-your-face playing style of the Germans. Frequently a Costa Rican player
would kick the ball away when three German defenders surrounded him.

Both Costa Rican goals, one in the first half and one in the second, were put in by Pablo Wanchope.

Germany's Philip Lahm made the first goal just six minutes into the game.  Wanchope followed six minutes later. At the half, the score was 2-1.

Costa Rica goalie José Francisco Porras had an active day, blocking shots that appeared to be certain goals. German's Miroslav Klose had two goals, one in the first half and one in the second.

Costa Rica plays Ecuador Thursday and Poland June 20. The four teams, Germany, Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador make up Group A of the 32-team championships. Two of the Group A teams will advance to the next level to play either June 24 or June 25.

The U.S. team has its first game against the highly ranked Czech team at 10 a.m. Monday.  The World Cup is being played at the same time as the championship finals of the U.S. National Basketball Association, which will draw more American fan interest.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 114

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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Firemen on snorkle platforms inspect the charred top floors for hotspots after blaze was controlled.

Fire eats through two floors
of downtown building

By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire tore through the fourth and fifth floors of a downtown office building Thursday and paralyzed city

Steve Monge Martín

Hector Chávez
transportation while firemen extinguished the blaze.

There were no serious injuries, but a woman was hit by flying glass from windows cracking under the heat.

The building sits on the northeast corner of Avenida Central and Calle 2. Avenida Central is the pedestrian boulevard in this area, and the fire site was just east of the Banco de Costa Rica main office.

The alarm came about 5:20 p.m. when Steve Monge Martín, a municipal policeman, said he saw people running on the street.

Then he said he saw smoke coming from the upper floors of the building and then he heard an explosion.

The top two floors of the structure contained a language school and an Internet cafe.  The structure did not have fire escapes or fire detectors or any system for emergency, said Hector Chávez, chief of the Cuerpo de Bomberos.

He said the fire was under control by 6:40. p.m., and firemen begin studying how the blaze began. The building also contained a storage area for fabrics. Chávez said firemen used as little water as possible to avoid damage to the lower floors. The bulk of the damage was caused by smoke as well as water.

Firemen had to break out windows to find out where the fire was. They used two snorkels to get at the fourth and fifth floor, one snorkel on the north and one on the east. Every unit in the San José area came to the scene, as well as a host of ambulances and other rescue vehicles.

Police closed Avenida 2, a major route south of the blaze, and Avenida 1 in the north. The closures hamstrung evening traffic for hours.

Our reader's opinion

Reader wants action
from president Arias

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The public auto-de'-fe of Paraguays' ex president is a refreshing reminder that occasionally even the mighty and rich 'rendir cuentas.'  It now remains to be seen what Costa Rica's Nobel laureate president will do to change the perennial laissez faire culture of corruption in his own backyard.

For starters, he could demonstrate his sincerity to end corruption by stopping the laughable judicial prevarication [on behalf] of two other ex-presidents.  He might even consider judicial reforms which would penalize their deeds with confiscation, and substantial "multas," etc. 

After that, he could jump start the numberless languishing cases, viz.,Villalobos, which make a mockery of justice and, do nothing for Costa Rica's international image.

As things stand, all the Tico has seen and heard is rhetoric, a wisp of smoke, and three monkeys framed in their customary poses.
Hank Franz
Las Vegas, Nev.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 114

A great new plan for addresses replaces Tico style
It happens over and over when you live abroad.  You learn to accept the relativity of everything.  Not the interconnectedness of us all, which exists, but the fact that there are no absolutes. Even logic is relative to the culture in which you live.

Recently, Costa Rica decided to change its method of locating street addresses. It estimates it will take between 10 and 15 years to do so.  Anyone who lives here or has visited knows the quaint system of getting around in Costa Rica. It is all based upon landmarks (some of which no longer exist), meters and the points of the compass. 

Thus the beginning of my address is “from the ICE building 100 meters west.”  Taxistas have trouble finding my very large apartment building.  They often explain to me how I should give my address.  I listen carefully as they rattle it off and nod appreciatively — and don’t say that that is exactly the address I have given to the dispatcher. 

I don’t know the name of my street, although it must be an avenue because it runs east and west and is parallel to the Avenida de las Americas.  I tried to find my building on Google Earth, but without a street name, I couldn’t.  Now the powers that be want to make more precise the way addresses are found.  Okay.

Let me say right here that the city of San José is laid out very “logically.”  It is divided into four sections by Avenida Central and Calle Central.
Avenida Central runs east to west and (logically) divides the avenues.  On the north side of Central Avenue all of the avenues are odd numbers, and on the south side they are even numbered.  The streets begin with Calle Central which runs north and south and the streets on the east side of Calle Central are odd numbered and those on the west side are even numbered.  Very logical.

The problem is, there may not be signs on the streets and avenues, and many of the buildings are not numbered.  So addresses are found by relating them to well-known landmarks and distances according to the compass points.  A block is usually considered to be 100 meters.           
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

With the new system, addresses will be found by locating the cross streets nearest the building and then the number of meters the building is from that corner.  A new address might read Ave. 10, Calle 29, #22. 

Twenty-two is the number of meters someone has paced off from the corner to your building. From my reading, I could not figure out how one was to know whether it was east west north or south of the intersection, except that they will use the lower number to indicate  — no, I don’t think that is it.  I’ll let the mailmen and women figure it out.

I wonder wouldn’t it be easier to number the buildings?  For me, yes, because I am used to that.  But perhaps for the Costa Rican, who is accustomed to meters, this is a nice transition.  

I recently asked my friend Jerry where the National Library was.  He sent me the address ala the Tico method.  He said it is between Calles 15 and 17, Avenues 3 and 3B in San Jose.  I was trying to imagine this and the last sentence zeroed in on it for me: “The northside of the National Park.” 

Ah yes.  I know where that is.  When you think about it, the Tico method of finding addresses does incorporate relativity in the connectedness sense.  An address, for instance, like 44 Fifth Avenue does not. 
Actually, I think I’m ready for cocktail hour.  It is easy to find my refrigerator – my big new refrigerator -- where all my goodies are.  It is just two meters west of the door that is the intersection between my kitchen and my dining room.

 My advice to the powers that be who plan to change how addresses are found: Really, don’t bother.

Raid in Heredia leads to arrrest of four in case of stolen ICE cables
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men face allegations that they put upscale areas in Heredia in the dark by stealing the copper cable that carried the power.

Investigations said that some 820 persons were without electrical and telephone service for 132 hours when a gang took more than 3 kilometers of copper cable that was in the network of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

Investigators were working on more than eight cases for eight months to make the arrests Wednesday. The value of the stolen cable was 18 million colons. That's more than $35,000.
The raid Wednesday was in the El Tirol. The sections that were without power when thieves stole the cable were Monte de la Cruz, El Tirol and Residencial El Castillo, agents said.

The four men detained ranged in age from 28 to 37 years.  Agents said they found a lot of evidence during the raid, including copper cable and insulation material with markings from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

Agents have been focusing on the theft of copper cable for about five months. They have made several raids on locations that appear to be salvage yards collecting the cable for shipment out of the country, mostly to Asia.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 114

Chile's new president pays a call on George Bush
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President George Bush and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet say they are working together to improve social conditions in South America. It was their first meeting since her January election.

President Bush welcomed the new Chilean leader to the Oval Office, hoping to build on warm relations with the previous Socialist government in Santiago.

While U.S. relations with other Latin American leftists, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales, are often strained, President Bush has found a commercial and political ally in Chile — an ally he hopes to keep in President Bachelet.

"I appreciate very much your dedication to values that are important: human rights and human decency, the right for people to be able to speak freely and to vote," said Bush.

President Bush told President Bachelet that America shares that same sense of social justice and focus on education. He says it is very important for the United States to remain engaged in South America and continue good relations with Chile.

President Bachelet, a former political prisoner and defense minister, says it is her intention to continue that relationship.
"We have political, commercial relationships. We really are happy about how our relations have developed, and we have talked and shared opinions about how we can build a region in peace, about how we can fight together against poverty, for social justice, how we can help strengthen democracy in the region, and how we can look after issues as energy innovation, education, health and so on," added Ms. Bachelet.

A 2004 free trade agreement between the countries has boosted commercial ties as the Bush administration has heralded capitalism in Santiago as a model for the region.

On a visit to the capital in November of 2004, President Bush also praised Chile's privatized pension system as a model for how he would like to change America's federal retirement program.

There are differences, chiefly Chile's support for an International Criminal Court that President Bush opposes. There is also Venezuela's campaign to fill the Latin America/Caribbean seat on the U.N. Security Council, a post that Washington would rather see filled by Guatemala.

Ms. Bachelet also visited a school outside Washington, which she attended in the early 1960s, when her father was the military attaché at the Chilean Embassy.

Battle over pulp mill on Uruguay-Argentine border aired in The Hague
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Argentina has called on the United Nations' highest court to order that Uruguay halt construction of two pulp mills along their joint border. The argument was made Thursday before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The court is holding two days of hearings on the issue.

A representative for Argentina alleged that the mills, which are being constructed along the Uruguay River, would emit dangerous toxins that would damage the 
fragile river ecosystem and threaten the health of residents.

But a professor representing Uruguay dismissed the claim, saying Argentina had not presented any evidence to substantiate its argument. He said Uruguay's first priority with the pulp mills is to protect the environment and the health of the residents on both sides of the river.

The Argentine government also accuses Uruguay of violating a treaty that calls for the nations to consult the other about any action related to the river.

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