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These stories were published Monday, June 10, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 113
Jo Stuart
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Photo by Joshua Alpert
Off to
the races

These minutes-old leatherback turtles are making a dash to the Caribbean. Some of these tiny guys will come back at 1,000 pounds, but most won’t because the species is endangered.

Patricia Martin writes about the turtles, organizations like Ecoteach that help them and the other attractions of Costa Rica’s Caribbean.

See stories Here


Pacheco off to Washington with an ample list
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco is off to Washington for an official visit that starts Tuesday.

The president will be with U.S. President George Bush Thursday, and he has a full plate of matters to discuss.

The Costa Rican president said Sunday night in his weekly television talk that he would be seeking Bush’s help and cooperation on a number of areas, including the environment.

In addition to Bush, Pacheco will meet with Condolezza Rice, Bush’s national security adviser, and Robert Zoellick, the U.S. trade representative. 

Attending with Pacheco will be Roberto Tovar, foreign minister; Jorge Walter Bolaños, the minister of Hacienda; Alberto Trejos, minister of Comercio Exterior; Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, minister of Ambiente y Energía; Jaime Daremblum, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States, Eduardo Lizano, president of the Banco Central, and the presidential protocol chief, Jorge Arturo Arce.

Pacheco and Rodríguez have said that a top item on their agenda is the menace of globalization. They are seeking some environmental guarantees in free trade treaties that might be negotiated.

Pacheco also has said that he will be seeking 

a joint commitment with Bush to "champion nature."

Certainly the United States will want to discuss commercial barriers to free trade and the proposal by George Bush that a free trade area be created in Central America in advance of the proposed free trade area of the Americas, which is supposed to take effect in 2005.

Other topics include the narcotics trade, the migration of human beings and human rights.
Pacheco also will meet with César Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States. 

Sunday Pacheco also said he would be visiting with James Wolfesohn, president of the World Bank, and Enrique Iglesias, president of the InterAmerican Development bank. Both organizations are involved in lending to developing countries.

Pacheco said Sunday he was seeking money to carry out the promises he made to reduce poverty and provide housing for persons living in marginal circumstances.

He also will meet with Horst Kohler, president of the International Monetary fund.

Pacheco also will be interviewed by the Washington Times and CNN en Español, according to a schedule released by the foreign ministry.

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Street scene at 6 a.m. above in 
San Pedro continues the celebration, while visiting Massachusetts college students managed to join in the spirit of the festivities before a big television screen.
A.M. Costa Rica/Christian Burnham
They celebrated as if the game were a big victory
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica may have just tied the soccer game, but to many fans here the word was victory as they took to the streets to celebrate for hours Sunday morning.

Thousands of youngsters took over the streets of San Pedro moments after Costa Rica’s World Cup team came from behind to tie Turkey 1-1. 

Hundreds of fans watched the event on a big-screen television set up near the Fuente de Hispanadad in front of San Pedro Mall.

Groups of visiting U.S. and Canadian college students also participated, preferring to celebrate in the street instead of paying the 3,000-colon cover 

charge nearby bars were levying. That’s $8.40 a head just to go inside.

Police reported little trouble although they were out in force, including the mounted patrols. The game began at 3:30 a.m. San José time, and street celebrations continued until midmorning with the usual gangs of youngsters hanging out of cars and with prominent displays of Costa Rica’s flag.

Costa Rica faces powerhouse Brazil early Friday morning San José time, and that match will determine the team’s future. Costa Rica needs at least a tie to advance into the second round.

Two of the four teams go forward. China, Costa Rica’s victim in the first game, was eliminated over the weekend when it lost to Brazil 4-0. 

Chang and Pacheco
trade small talk

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Frank Chang Diaz had a nine-minute conversation with President Abel Pacheco Friday and spoke from his perch on the international space station some 211 miles high.

Naturally the talk turned to soccer football. Chang wished the national team well. He was wearing a red soccer shirt.

Pacheco told him that he was an example to all Ticos and also all Latin Americans showing that they can be a great success.

Chang went through high school in Costa Rica and later was graduated with a doctorate in plasma physics by Harvard University.

Chang was on the mission’s first spacewalk Sunday that concluded at 4:41 p.m. Costa Rican time.

Chang and Philippe Perrin conducted the 7-hour, 14-minute excursion. They installed a power and data grapple fixture onto the International Space Station’s P6 Truss, temporarily installed micrometeoroid debris shields and prepared for additional installations. The fixture will enable the station's robot arm to ride a railway the length of the outpost for future assembly tasks.

Chang and Perrin also performed a visual and photographic survey of one of the station’s Control Moment Gyros that has failed. 

They received assistance from Pilot Paul Lockhart, who coordinated the spacewalk’s activities and Commander Ken Cockrell, who operated Space Shuttle Endeavour’s robot arm. 

Expedition Five Commander Valery Korzun and Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson were at the controls of the station’s robot arm. 

Mission Control is grappling with the implications of the failure of the gyro.

One of the space station's four gyroscopes failed Saturday, leaving three to control the orbiter's position. Only two gyros are required for the task, but the failure means there is only one spare.

Shuttle flight director Paul Hill says that if two more fail, the Russian module's jet thrusters would have to take over positioning the station, using precious fuel to do so. Losing a gyro is a big deal, he explains. "This is a major component. But from a risk perspective right now, we're in good shape. We're two failures away still from really having a technical problem that we need to jump through hoops for. But this is a major component that's failed and we are going to do the best we can to get the next [one] ready to fly and into an orbiter and get it changed."

But Hill says it may be six to nine months before the gyro gets to the space station because the next two shuttle flights are already dedicated to other equipment. That could be advanced, however, if another gyro fails, requiring rescheduling of shuttle payloads.

Panamá may hike
tolls for canal

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Panamá is considering increasing transit tolls at the Panamá Canal by 13 percent in a move to make the link between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans a profit-making business. 

The Panamá Canal Administration said the increase, the 10th since 1974, is the first step toward a switch from a fixed price for all users to a system of individual tariffs, according to the type and weight of ship passing through the canal. 

A public hearing on the proposed increase is set for July 19. 

Panamá took full control of the U.S.-built canal at the end of 1999. Under U.S. administration, from 1914 to 1999, the canal was run as a so-called service to the world, on a break-even basis. Tolls were raised only to cover costs. 

Under the new plan, boats carrying more weight would pay more.

Demonstrators seek
news of journalist

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Brazilian press organizations staged a rally here Friday to highlight concern over a Brazilian journalist who disappeared while investigating drug trafficking activities. 

Speaker after speaker called on the police to do more to solve the case of missing television journalist, Tim Lopes. They spoke at a large demonstration organized by several press associations to underscore concern over the disappearance. As part of the demonstration, journalists, lawmakers and friends of Lopes held up a huge white banner with the question: "Where Is Tim Lopes?" written in large black letters.

Lopes, a reporter with the Globo television network, has been missing since Sunday. He disappeared in a Rio de Janeiro slum while working undercover investigating reports of drug dealing and the sexual exploitation of minors at parties hosted by local drug traffickers. He was carrying a small hidden camera.

TV Globo news director Carlos Schroeder, who participated in Friday's demonstration, says Lopes may have been recognized by drug dealers. "We don't know what happened but maybe he was recognized because he has done a lot of reports about drug trafficking, and this may have alerted people there and made him a victim of the situation, he said."

There has been an upsurge in drug-related violence in Rio in recent weeks, as rival drug gangs battle over turf. These gangs control Rio's slums and are so powerful that police seldom venture into these areas.

News director Schroeder says the disappearance of Lopes shows that anyone can become a victim of the drug violence. "Tim is another victim, and I call him a victim even though we don't know his fate, of this unhappy reality which is violence in Rio," he said. "And what this means is that anyone can become a victim, since being a journalist provides no special protection. Instead, unfortunately, journalists now run even greater risks than the ordinary citizen." 

Lopes, an award winning journalist, often went undercover to do his reporting. Last year, he won Brazil's most important journalism award for a report titled "Drug Fair" which was filmed with a hidden camera and showed how traffickers openly sold drugs in a Rio slum.

His disappearance has raised concern internationally. Groups, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York and Reporters Without Borders in Paris, have issued statements expressing concern and calling for a thorough investigation into the case.

Canadian police
searching for dead

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police are starting to dig near the Canadian city of Vancouver, for evidence that links a farmer to the disappearance of over 50 women. It is the latest development in an investigation that has already resulted in seven murder charges.

In a suburb 30 kms. (18 miles) east of Vancouver, Archaeology students, dressed in dark blue overalls and wearing gloves, reflective vests, and hard hats, are closely examining tons of dirt, covering the site of a four-hectare (nearly 10-acre) pig farm.

The students specialize in Osteology, the study of human bones, and are looking for evidence linking pig farmer Robert William Pickton to 54 missing women, most of them prostitutes from Vancouver's impoverished Downtown Eastside. He is already charged with killing seven of them. Through his lawyer, he is denying the allegations.

The dig comes after a detailed investigation of the grounds and over 15 buildings. The searchers are using a soil screener, two 50-foot flat conveyor belts, a rubber tire loader, an excavator, and two dump trucks.

Investigators started searching Pickton's farm Feb. 6 and say they have found human remains at the site. 

At a recent meeting between family members and the investigators, Rick Frey, whose daughter Marnie is missing, says the coroner warned families that any discoveries resulting from the dig might be shocking.

"Well, I don't think it can be any harder than what we're going through now. Especially with the gory details coming out of what is actually being collected at this time," he said. " Hopefully, a lot of the family members have kind of put that aside. All we can hope for now is that whatever is there for us will be identified with our daughter, if indeed she's there."

Police have asked family members to help identify personal effects, including jewelry, clothing, bags and shoes taken from the pig farm.

The first of the women disappeared in June 1983, the most recent, last November.

Pickton's farm was three times its current size, at the time of the early disappearances. Houses and commercial developments have since been built on much of the property. Authorities will not disclose if they plan to search in the developed area.

Venezuela officers
want U.S. asylum

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Three former Venezuelan military officers who left their country following April's failed coup against President Hugo Chavez are seeking asylum in the United States.

Former Air Force Cols. Silvino Bustillos and Pedro Soto, and former National Guard Capt. Luis Garcia Morales told reporters in Miami Friday they fear persecution from the Chavez government. The officers also say they and their families have been threatened. 

The three men sought refuge at the Bolivian Embassy in Caracas after the April coup failed. The group stayed at the diplomatic mission amid negotiations for them to leave the country. 

The announcements Friday came as a retired Venezuelan naval officer arrived in El Salvador to start a life of political asylum. Retired Rear Adm. Carlos Molina Tamayo flew to El Salvador three days after that government approved his asylum request. Molina had taken refuge in the Caracas home of a Salvadoran diplomat. 

Molina was one of several military officers who publicly denounced Chavez in February.

During the April coup, renegade military officers arrested President Chavez and installed businessman Pedro Carmona as interim leader. After Chavez reclaimed the presidency, Carmona was placed under house arrest. He now lives in Colombia, which granted him asylum last month.

Agreement reached 
for police school here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican President Abel Pacheco Friday signed an agreement with the United States to base a branch of the International Law Enforcement Academy in Costa Rica.

The project is a joint one with the U.S. Department of State and the Costa Rican Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, but the United States will bear the cost.

This is the fourth such international academy in the world and will be open to law enforcement officials throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Pacheco was quick to point out that the academy is not a military base, but a training organization.

The United States has a renewed interest in international crime after events of Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked New York and Washington. In addition, the United States has been waging a long war against drugs and more recently money laundering.

Other cross-border issues that the academy will seek to address include arms shipments and trafficking in human beings.

Intel stock tumbles
on earnings report

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Intel, which operates two computer chip manufacturing plants in San José took a licking Friday when its stock dropped $5 a share to $22 on news that sales and earnings would be less than expected.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said that second-quarters sales would be between $6.2 billion and $6.5 billion, down from previous estimates of $6.4 billion to 7 billion.

Company officials blamed the decrease on softer than expected chip demands in Europe. However, commentators quickly pointed out that the company soon would face stiff competition from another chip manufacturer that would  begin producing in several months. They said this would cause Intel to reduce prices, thereby affecting earnings.

New hotel opened

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Barceló hotel group inaugurated another location over the weekend, this one is the 40-room Hotel Rancho Río Perlas which will provide jobs for 60 persons.

President Abel Pacheco participated at the location which is in Orosi de Cartago. Pacheco thanks the chain for its investment in Costa Rica that is around $30 million.

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