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These stories were published Thursday, June 23, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 123
Jo Stuart
About us

Mini vehicle might be just right for the times
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As the price of a barrel of oil approaches $60, strategies are sprouting to avoid financial stress.  Public sector workers in Costa Rica may soon be expected to arrive an hour earlier to avoid the emissions-rich rush hour, and at least one auto company is touting a light transportation vehicle that gets 80 miles to the gallon.
The diesel-powered apé by Piaggio has three wheels, goes about 30 miles per hour, has eight horsepower, can carry about 1,300 pounds, weighs less than a ton, and has one big catch.

“We don't recommend you drive it on the freeway,” says Jaime Freer Rohrmoser, general manager of Automores Livianos de Centroamérica.  “But it is the perfect Third World car.”  The idea, says Freer, is to improve on a motorcycle.

He sees a potential niche in the beach communities.  Generally located far away from the traffic of the highway, speed is not mandatory.  And really, for someone who lives in a spread out community like Santa Teresa and has to go to Cóbano once in a while to go to the bank, the apé could be an efficient investment.  The tank only holds two and a half gallons but with such fuel efficiency, gas prices wouldn't be so bothersome.

The name in Italian means bee, an industrious insect.

In Honduras and Mexico, Coca-Cola has  

A.M. Costa Rica/Jesse Froehling
Jaime Freer and his demo vehicle
purchased the vehicles as delivery cars and there are 35 different body types one can choose from.  The passenger edition is tiny and looks a lot like a Thai tuk tuk. 

Freer says that it is very durable on gravel roads and points out that “if your only option is to walk five or 10 kilometers to the bus or take a taxi everyday, an apé makes sense.”
The first shipments are supposed to arrive in July about a dozen,” are pre-sold, he said.

However, other similar vehicles can be seen occasionally already in use in San José. In fact, the major auto manufacturers are scurrying to compete in this market, some in league with Asian companies that already make mini vehicles.

The passenger edition of the apé costs $5,000, 35 percent of which is import tax, Freer said. 

House arrest is extended three months more for Calderón
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rafael Ángel Calderón will spend three more months at least under house arrest, a judge decided Wednesday.

The former president is under investigation for his role in kickbacks from a $39 million loan from Finland that allowed the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social to purchase
equipment. Nearly 20 percent of the loan amount was diverted into commissions to leading polical figures, according to investigators.

Calderón, son of a major Costa Rican historical figure, spent three months in prison until he was allowed to return to his Curridabat home in March. He was president from 1990 to 1994.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 23, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 123

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Law enforcement raids
implicate four in murder

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A raid of three houses Wednesday morning in Los Cuadros, Guadalupe, yielded enough evidence to arrest four persons for killing a man with the last name Barboza Feb. 26, said officials with the Judicial Investigation Organization. 

A spokesperson identified the suspects as two men with the last names Campos Prado, 21, and Gonzales Carvajal, 20, a women with the last names Cerdas Riviera, 18, and a 16-year-old minor girl.

The allegation is that the four were trying to rob Barboza and he died after being stabbed him in the throat four times. 

Archetypes seminar
will span two days

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For those who are familiar with the works of Carolyn Myss, a student of hers Dr. Elizabeth Eline, will be teaching Carolyn Myss' works on the identification of the 12 natal archetypes.  Carolyn Myss is described as a pioneer in the field of energy medicine and human consciousness.

Two workshops, Saturday July 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, July 3, from noon to 3 p.m., will help students identify and analyze the archetypes they were born into.  Dr. Eline defines archetypes as patterns or molds that offer individual insight into the development of the soul's path. 

The workshops are designed to help individuals focus on deepening the heart center.  The seminar called “Personal Archetypes as Seen Through the Eyes of Grace,” costs 25,000 colons and includes a light lunch.  For more information or to reserve, call 203-4411 or e-mail    

Cost of HIV/AIDS tab
to be $22 billion in 2008

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The developing world will need $22 billion in 2008 to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, according to new estimates by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

"We have come a long way in mobilizing extra funds for AIDS, moving from millions to billions, but we still fall short of the $22 billion needed in 2008," said the UNAIDS executive director, Peter Piot. "AIDS poses an exceptional threat to humanity and the response needs to be equally exceptional, recognizing the urgency as well as the need for long-term planning and financing."

The revised figures include funding needs of about $15 billion in 2006 and $18 billion in 2007. The funds cover prevention, treatment and care, support for orphans and vulnerable children, program management, building new hospitals and clinics and training and recruiting new doctors and nurses, the Programme said.

By 2008, the money would pay for comprehensive prevention, anti-retroviral treatment for 6.6 million people, or 75 per cent of those in need worldwide and full coverage of orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa, UNAIDS said. It would also fund 1,000 new health centres by 2010 and pay for the renovation of 19,000 existing health centres and 800 hospitals.

The UNAIDS Secretariat said it developed the figures using the latest available information and with input from the newly established Resource Needs Steering Committee and Technical Working Group comprising economists and AIDS experts from donor and developing countries, civil society, UN agencies and other international organizations.

Sock makers backing
trade treaty over jobs

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Hosiery Manufacturers Coalition, a broad nationwide coalition of domestic sock makers, has reaffirmed its strong support of the US-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, which it said is necessary to preserve jobs in the United States.

"We want to set the record straight," said the group's executive director, Nicole Bivens Collinson. "United States sock manufacturers support the DR-CAFTA. The agreement provides the greatest hope for retaining sock and hosiery industry jobs in the US and is of paramount importance to U.S. yarn spinners and cotton growers."

According to industry experts, the terms of the agreement open opportunities for continued co-production among the U.S., Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic. Like the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, the Special Access Program, and the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, passage of the treaty will allow the group's members to remain competitive in sock production by supplementing domestic production, thus preserving as many U.S. jobs as possible, the organization said in a release.

The coalition is comprised of U.S. companies involved in the sock and hosiery industry. As a group, the coalition accounts for approximately 75 percent of hosiery sales in the United States and over 25 percent of actual domestic sock production. Coalition members provide, directly and indirectly, more than 75,000 U.S. jobs.

Guatemalan dictator
gets favorable decision

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — The Supreme Court has rejected a Spanish request for the extradition of a former Guatemalan military ruler that Spain holds responsible for a deadly 1980 siege on its embassy. The court said in a statement that the request was declined because Spain has not provided enough evidence in the case of former Guatemalan president Romeo Lucas Garcia.

Lucas Garcia, who was under house arrest until the court's decision, ruled Guatemala from 1978 until 1982.  Spain wants to try him on charges he ordered security forces to raid its embassy in Guatemala in search of leftist insurgents.

In the Jan. 31, 1980, assault 37 people died.  They included Vicente Menchu, the father of Rigoberta Menchu, the Indian rights activist who won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.

From our readers

Keep strong credit,
Villalobos lender asks

Dear Mr. Pacheco:

Go easy on borrowing 366 million dollars because after we win our arbitration case against the government of Costa Rica in the Villalobos affair we still want Costa Rica to retain a good credit rating because they will have to borrow a couple hundred million to pay our award. See you in court.

Gordon Yantzi
Villalobos investor
Oshawa, Ontario

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr. Yantzi refers to plans to borrow money to help rural areas reported here Wednesday. He also refers to plans by Canadian creditors of the Villalobos Brothers high interest scheme to seek an international arbitration award against Costa Rica for failing to protect them.
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A.M. Costa Rica photos/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Wednesday was a bad day to get a driver's license. Equipment failures cause officials to admit only 10 persons at a time to the issuing facility. Among those who waited on a long line since 6 a.m. was Gloria Valerín, left, of the Asamblea Legislativa
OAS chief seeking umpire to control Nicaraguan talks
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Nicaraguans should establish a "broad national dialogue" to strengthen the country's democratic institutions and to resolve Nicaragua’s current political problems, said José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States.

To this end, Insulza said he would appoint a high-level representative to facilitate such a dialogue.

In a press release, Insulza, who led a mission to Nicaragua last week, outlined the importance of continued efforts by the Organization of American States in that nation.

"I am convinced that if we cease in our efforts, a crisis could present itself at any moment," he said.  "But I am also convinced that if we persevere, we can succeed, and people can sit down and talk and work together because they feel they have all of our support."

The lack of communication among the political personalities in Nicaragua makes this a complex
challenge and underscores the need for a space in which all sectors can come together to establish the basis for a national understanding, Insulza said.

The secretary general thanked Nicaragua's authorities, the different branches of government and the country's political and social leaders who were willing to share their concerns and ideas with the mission.  He said the organization hoped to have a permanent presence in Nicaragua soon to help reestablish harmony and consolidate democracy.

Last week's visit to Nicaragua came in response to a mandate from the OAS General Assembly, which adopted a declaration in support of that country June 7, during its session held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

The political situation in Nicaragua pits President Enrique Bolaños against a temporary coalition of Sandinista leader Danny Ortega and former president Arnoldo Alemán. The nation was wracked by student strikes against a proposed bus and taxi fare increase, and Bolaños declared an economic state of emergency to raise electric rates. He did so to prevent the company that supplies the power from leaving.

Festival planned in Desamparados to celebrate ethnic cultures here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The “First Ethnic Cultural Festival of Costa Rica” is scheduled to happen July 3rd through July 5th in Desamparados.  Each day should start at 10 a.m. and end 10 p.m.
The artists who are supposed to perform are
Chapanecos, Comparsa Rumberos, Circo Vivo, Ta Forem, Peregrino Gris, Chalan Rasa, Ancestros, Aruko Wakia, Asndusulu, Massa Divo and Grupos Indígenas de Costa Rica. 

Organizers say that there will be food, crafts, a jamming expo, and a percussion class. Desamparados is south of San José.

ACLU report says science hampered by Bush rules
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Have U.S. efforts to tighten security following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had an effect on scientific research in the United States?  A report accuses the Bush administration of instituting policies and practices that hamper scientific and academic freedom, charges the White House denies.

The title of the report is "Science Under Siege," and it was conducted for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Co-author Tania Simoncelli says she believes efforts to tighten security in the United States in recent years have led to a wave of government policies that increase secrecy and surveillance.

"Looking generally at this broad range of policies, we started to notice that there were a number of these post-9/11 policies that were having a disturbing and disproportionate impact on science," she said.
She points to three broad areas that have been affected.  The first, she says, is what she calls the high rate of classification of documents or the designation of information as "sensitive," and therefore, not available widely to the public.

"The second area is an attack on scientific freedom that's not about the free flow of information, but rather the free flow of people.  Foreign university students, especially in the sciences, have been increasingly monitored, excluded from participating in particular research projects and sometimes prevented or heavily delayed from entering or re-entering the United States, to study here," she added.

In the report's third overall finding, Ms. Simoncelli says some scientists have stopped doing research in sensitive areas because of new restrictions on scientific materials and technologies, as well as complex regulations.

Among the report's recommendations, the ACLU lawyer called for the Bush administration to classify less information and to remove what she called unnecessary restrictions on foreign students and scholars.  She added that she believes science, as much as possible, should not be subject to politics.

"I think science, especially regulatory science, is never
going to operate completely free from political
interference,” she explained.  “But the administration should not be using its power to censor, obstruct or tamper with or distort findings of scientists, to fit its political agenda, which is part of what we describe in the last part of the report, as being part of what we're seeing in these broader trends."

The White House rejects accusations that post-9/11 security measures have led to a clampdown on scientific freedom.  Bob Hopkins, with the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, says a balance has to be struck between the two.

"I would say that this document criticizes actions taken to address security concerns, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack,” said Hopkins.  “And the administration has worked in good faith with serious members of the science community, including the National Academies, to determine the best way to enable the conduct of science without providing terrorists a road map for their ends."

Hopkins acknowledged there are fewer foreigners coming to the United States, but he said there are many reasons for the lower number.

"I think there are a lot of factors for that,” he added.  “But I think the United States is by far the world's leader in science and in innovation, and is the greatest magnet in the world for talent in the sciences, and will continue to be so." Hopkins also criticized the methods of those who prepared the ACLU report.

"They completely failed to seek any input from knowledgeable administration officials to inform their report.  I think that the bottom line is this document lacks credibility.  And, has more to do with politics than science," he said.

The issue of politics and science was highlighted earlier this month with the resignation of Philip Cooney, the chief of staff of President George Bush's Council on Environmental Quality.  Cooney stepped down days after documents revealed that he had edited government climate reports to downplay the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.  The White House said the resignation was not related to the revelations.  Cooney is a lawyer with no background in science.  He is due to start work at a petroleum firm within the next few months.

Money being sent home prompts a seminar in D.C.
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A three-day international forum on remittances will be held starting Tuesday to highlight the importance of these money transfers to Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Inter-American Development Bank, which is hosting the event, said remittances sent by migrants have become a key source of hard currency for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The development bank said that in 2004, this region received more than $45 billion in remittances, mostly from expatriate workers living in such industrialized countries as the United States and Japan.

U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, a Democrat of Maryland and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, will give the keynote speech for the event.  The forum will bring together various groups with an interest in remittances, such as Latin American migrant associations, money transfer
companies, commercial banks, credit unions, microfinance institutions, regulators, and academic researchers.

The forum will also spotlight the experiences of lenders in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru with financial products designed to give expatriates and their families more access to housing loans.

Other panels will cover issues such as promoting economic links between members of the Latin American migrant community and their countries of origin, the regulation of remittances services in the United States, and financial literacy for immigrants.

A "technology fair" will also be held to showcase technologies used by service providers to make money transfers cheaper, safer and more efficient. Participants in the fair will range from leading companies to innovative small enterprises.

Mexico is the world's Number 1 country for receiving money sent home by migrants in the United States.

Pinochet is back out of the hospital after suffering mild stroke at home
By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

SANTIAGO, Chile — Former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, 89, has been released from a Santiago hospital, one day after suffering a mild stroke.

A family spokesman says the retired general left the Santiago Military Hospital Wednesday to return to his home in the capital.

Pinochet was hospitalized Tuesday after passing out at
 his home.  His son says the former dictator remained unconscious for about 30 minutes.

Pinochet has suffered several strokes in recent years.

The latest hospitalization forced a court to postpone a hearing on whether Pinochet should be stripped of his immunity from prosecution for alleged misdeeds committed during his rule from 1973 to 1990. More than 3,000 people died or disappeared during his 17-year rule.

Jo Stuart
About us
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