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These stories were pubished Tuesday, July 16, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 139
Jo Stuart
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Anti-inspection protests flare up all over 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The protest against mandatory vehicle inspections broke out into confrontations with police all over Costa Rica Monday.

At least 20 locations had blockades, and in some places overturned vehicles, stacks of burning tires and felled trees prevented normal traffic. Flames, smoke and then tear gas fired by police clouded the skies all over the country.

Protestors stopped traffic in some areas for up to seven hours.

More than 90 persons were arrested. The protests still were going on Monday night, particularly in Pavas where criminal gangs have clashed with police in the past.

In addition to Pavas, police confronted protestors in Gaupiles, Moín, Cieneguita, Limón Centro, Toro Amarillo, Río Pacuare, Puente Chirripó, near the Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Vuelta de Jorco, Pérez Zeledón, Cruce de Brasil y Santa Ana, El Empalme, La Lucha, Orotina, Palmares, San Ramón, among others.

The protestors oppose the mandatory vehicle inspections that started Monday under the supervision of Riteve SyC, a joint Spanish-Costa Rican company that has been denigrated as "revision tecnica espanola" by the protestors.

President Abel Pacheco in a television appearance seemed dazed by the protests, which had been expected but not at this scale. However, a government spokesman, Rina Contreras, minister to the presidencia, said the government would not negotiate with people blocking the public roads.

The Fuerza Públic was joined with transit officers in several locations. The response to protests had been mapped out last week, but the number of protests was unexpected. Police used gas, shields, masks and other crowd-control devices. They confiscated at least 10 vehicles that had been used in blockades.

According to police, some 26 persons were arrested in Pérez Zeledón in the south of the country where protests had taken place before. Some 30 persons went to jail in San Ramón, seven in Tarbaca, two persons in Limón, 10 in 

Pavas and three persons on the Interamerican Highway near Chirripó.

Police said 78 persons had been arrested by late afternoon, and the numbers continued to grow. Some of those arrested turned out to be minors.

One of those arrested in Pérez Zeledón was a man wanted for murder in Panamá who has the last name of Galeano Torres, said security ministry officials. He was one of the protestors in that city in the past weeks, they said.

Six policemen were injured, four in San Ramón de Alajuela and two in Tarbaca. The damage was done by stones and other objects the protestors threw. Throughout the country, at least 74 persons were treated by the Cruz Roja for the effects of tear gas. Some were hospitalized.

Such acts of violence were called unjustified by Rogelio Ramos, minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública, who said the process of vehicle inspection, among other benefits, would be an important weapon in the fight against car thefts.

The inspections by Riteve SyC are the object of protest because many motorists and taxi drivers believe that their vehicles will never get through the inspection. For this reason, at least 100 farmers were part of the protests Monday in Guapiles.

Taxi drivers in the metropolitan area have been opposing the inspection plan for two months. The project came about through a law passed in 2000 that eventually led to a contract for Riteve. Some protestors don’t like the idea of one company handling all the inspections, and Sala IV, the constitutional supreme court has accepted a request for aid that addresses the constitutionality of such a monopoly.

No time for a ruling has been specified.

For its part, Riteve says it has invested up to $22 million in 13 inspection stations and several mobile units. The inspections began Monday with passenger cars with license plates ending in 1 or 2 being eligible to make an appointment for the sophisticated, computer-driven inspection. The appointment telephone number is (905) 788-0000.

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Colombian gold display shows another tradition
By Christian Burnham
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There’s a golden opportunity to get a glimpse of Central America’s rich tradition of metallic artistry. San Jose’s Galeria Nacional is showing off the "Gold of the Gods" until the end of this month.

The exhibition displays 37 golden replicas of artifacts produced in Colombia from 200 B.C. to 1600 A.D. While the gold is genuine, the pieces that make up the collection are copies of the originals kept in the Museum of Gold in Bogotá. 

Adorned with intricate designs, the objects all share a brilliant luster. Despite their beauty, the pieces weren’t produced solely to be admired. 

The statuettes, canteens, and vessels are believed to have been used in religious ceremonies. Forever a symbol of authority and power, the precious metal also was crafted into helmets, jewelry, masks, and chest plates, no doubt to be worn by members of the elite.

The refined craftsmanship of these works serves as a testament to the sophisticated techniques developed by various cultures throughout Colombia. These early goldsmiths are renowned the world over for their mastery of extracting gold, as well as for casting it and producing many kinds of pieces.

The metallic tradition is different there from that 

Little gold guys await company
A.M. Costa Rica/Christian Burnham
Visiting students reflect on the past

of Costa Rica, which reflects the Mayan and Valley of Mexico cultures in its gold found here.

The Colombian Vice Presidency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs mounted the exposition as "a way of recalling or restoring the people who inhabited the Americas in ancient times." 

Since opening June 30, the exhibition has drawn at least 120 visitors per day, according to Nora Garcia, assistant to the gallery’s director. The gold’s admirers have included Ticos, tourists and an especially high number of children due to their two-week school holiday ending Monday. 

Silvia Alvarado Quijano, a teacher in a Desamparados school, accompanied her third-grade class of 10 students Friday. Ms. Alvarado said that the display provides an important link to the past.

Potential looters, take note: Due to the high-value of the display, security at the gallery rivals that of Fort Knox. Visitors are first required to walk through a metal detector, flanked by two police officers, before undergoing a separate search administered by a museum security guard wielding a handheld detector.

The Galeria Nacional is located on the second floor of the Children’s Museum, just a nine-block walk from the National Park. The gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day. Although entrance to the Galeria Nacional is free, a sign suggests a contribution of 200 colons.

Military gets power
to quell violence

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

ASUNCION, Paraguay —President Luis Gonzalez Macchi has declared a state of emergency for five days, giving the police special powers to control the outbreak of street violence. About 15 people were injured in violence that broke out in several cities Monday. 

The presidential decree gives Paraguayan security forces extra powers to quell any outbreaks of public violence this week. 

Several thousand protesters took to the streets Monday on the southern outskirts of the capital here and in other cities, leading to violence and clashes with police. Angry mobs also set up roadblocks on highways leading to Brazil and Argentina.

Edwin Britez, Paraguayan analyst, says economic problems in Paraguay are among the leading causes of the outbreak of violence. "This is happening as the economic situation in Paraguay is bad," he said. "There is also general discontent with President Macchi. It is also believed Gen. Lino Oviedo, who is in exile in Brazil because he is wanted here, and the opposition Liberal Party organized these protests to destabilize the government." 

Oviedo, a former military commander, is wanted in Paraguay on charges linked to the assassination of the country's vice-president in 1999. He has also been sentenced to 10 years in jail for a failed coup attempt in 1996. 

The opposition Liberal Party expressed support for the demonstrators, saying the country's economic situation is dismal. However, a group speaking for Oviedo denied his involvement. 

Brazil's Supreme Court has rejected Paraguay's request for his extradition, saying it is politically motivated.

Mexican standoff
ends peacefully

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MEXICO CITY, México — A four-day standoff has ended in México after villagers fighting government plans to construct an airport on their land released all 19 of their hostages. 

Residents of the town of San Salvador Atenco freed the hostages in two groups Monday after authorities released a group of villagers who had been arrested last week in clashes with security forces. 

The machete-wielding residents staged violent protests last week. They threatened to kill the hostages in an effort to stop the government from expropriating their land to build the $2 billion, multi-runway airport. 

The villagers say they will also dismantle barricades on a roadway through San Salvador Atenco, outside of here.

State government officials say they will try to resolve the conflict. Government officials have offered to compensate the farmers for the loss of land. But many farmers say they will not sell their property at any price. 

Officials say the existing México City airport, which has two runways, is reaching saturation point and cannot be extended because it’s surrounded by residential areas.

Now you can mail
your Web page

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

MIAMI, Fla. — Would-be Web page designers scared silly by complex computer languages and technologies may have a helping hand. On Monday, Mia Interact, a Miami-based Internet company with an office in Costa Rica, announced the creation of a new Web site designed to simplify the way Web sites are produced.

The first mail-to-Web service of its kind, the Web site allows users to publish content, such as text, photos, and graphs, to the Internet using their existing e-mail applications. This function is especially useful for people who need to alter or update Web content frequently, said the company.

"We wanted to put website creation in the hands of the whole world, breaking all the economic and technological barriers," said Massimo Martinotti, president of Mia Interact.

More information about the service can be found at: www.witsites.com

Click here for more information
North Dakota hurt
by low immigration 

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Sept. 11 brought many changes to the United States, including a new awareness of immigration. After the terrorist attacks, President Bush approved admission for 70,000 refugees by September of this year. To date, only 11,000 have made it to the country, due in large part to increased security concerns.

The slowdown has taken a toll on Fargo, North Dakota, a popular destination for refugees. At a time when the northern state is struggling to maintain its population, refugees have been a welcomed addition. 

Kathy Thoreson directs the Center for New Americans in Fargo. She says no refugees have been linked to the September terrorist attacks, and that as a group, they present a low security risk. Refugees seeking asylum in the United States must go through extensive background checks by authorities.

Ms.Thoreson says after Sept. 11, new security measures were put in place, and now all those security checks are being repeated.  "Meaning the fingerprints," Ms. Thoreson says, "the background checks, all the security checks that the United States does in the other countries prior to coming and then to re-do certain things of those after they get here." 

Ms. Thoreson says it's frustrating for everyone involved because the process takes so long. Only 27 refugees have come to Fargo since October, a 90 percent decline from the same period a year ago.

Refugee advocates have enlisted the help of Earl Pomeroy, North Dakota congressman. He and other members of the state's congressional delegation wrote to President Bush, pointing out that refugees are a vital part of their state's economic development. 

"We have some significant work force issues in the growth areas of our state," Pomeroy said, "and that's why business leaders have talked to me about just how important it is we have new Americans as a component of growing the work force necessary."

Pomeroy says he's optimistic the number of refugees seeking asylum in the United States will increase. He says the Bush Administration is trying to expedite the process, but security remains the primary concern. 
Professional directory

A.M. Costa Rica debuts this week its professional and service directory where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may provide a description of what they do.

This is an appropriate place for medical professionals, real estate agents, contractors, lawyers, Web designers and similar.

The assumption is that anyone advertising here has at least one staff member fluent in English. In most cases, English is the first or second language of the business.

If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


United States Dentist in Costa Rica: Dr. Peter S Aborn, Prosthodontics and general dentistry private practice. 25 years in New York City. 5 years in Costa Rica. Professor and director of postgraduate prosthodontics Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. Former chief of prosthodontics Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City. Education: N.Y.U College of Dentistry; Westchester County Medical Center; Eastman Dental Center; University of Rochester Graduate School of Medicine and Dentistry. Location: 300 meters from the U.S. Embassy. Telephone: 232-9225. Cellular 379-2963. E-mail: jopetar@amnet.co.cr


American/Costa Rican attorney located in Costa Rica. Specializing in business law, commercial law, real estate sales, immigration law. Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson. KEARNEY LAWSON & Asoc. Tel/Fax: (506) 221-9462 gkearney_lawson@hotmail.com 

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