A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language news source
Monday through Friday

Classified ads 
at the speed of LIGHT!
Click Here
These stories were published Thursday, July 17, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 140
Jo Stuart
About us
Public employee unions again taking to streets
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Flush with their victories in the telecommunication strike and the strike by teachers, public employees are again taking to the streets.

This time the union members will be protesting the 3.5 percent six-month raise the government awarded them. The unions think they should have gotten more, particularly since the raise was about a percentage point less than inflation.

The first public demonstration of union dissatisfaction will be Tuesday when public employees have planned a work stoppage for 10 a.m. and a protest in front of the Ministerio de Hacienda, which is on Avenida 2 opposite and slightly west of the Teatro Nacional. That is the ministry that collects the taxes and prepared the national budget.

Involved in the protest will be employees from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social and other government sectors and ministries. There was no word if the teachers, who are now on vacation after a four-week strike will participate. 

Costa Rica has been hit by a wave of labor protests, and all of it can be traced to money.

The government is generating a deficit, and attempts to reform the tax collecting system to generate more money are still in the Asamblea Nacional. Meanwhile consumer prices increase.

Inflation in Costa Rica for the first six months of the year was 4.34 percent, according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas y Censos. That 2002 figure was 3.84 percent. 

Inflation is a little higher when based on the 

rate of exchange with the U.S. dollar. The price 
of the dollar has increase about 20 colons since Jan. 1. That represents a 5.3 percent inflation rate.

Costa Rica’s currency is pegged against the dollar. But the figures mentioned in assessing inflation do not make allowances for the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar. When that is considered against an inflexible standard like the price of gold, inflation has been much higher.

Since the Costa Rican colon is devalued slightly every working day by the Central Bank, workers know that their pay in several months actually will be less than it is today in buying power.

When the ICE workers struck, the government agreed to provide the institute with some $60 million in international financing. The workers saw this bond issue as job security because the money will pay for a number of projects. The bond issue was approved Wednesday by the Central Bank board of directors and will be offered to international investors next year.

President Abel Pacheco was criticized even by his closest associates for his generosity in settling the strikes.  Some see his failure to crack down on the striking ICE workers and the striking teachers as encouragement for additional labor unrest.

In addition to the big national strikes, there have been a handful of regional strikes and labor disputes in the last two months.

And the work stoppage next week may just be a warmup for massive demonstrations that are expected when and if Costa Rica takes steps to approve a free trade treaty with the United States.

Here's an idea to beat the country's problem of traffic jams
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Did you happen to notice a real decline in traffic and traffic jams Wednesday afternoon? Did you notice that the bank lines were about 10 percent their normal length?

Did you notice all those cheers and yells coming from every bar in the country?

There is something to be said for afternoon international soccer games, in this case a qualifier for the Gold Cup.

Costa Rica’s national team took on Cuba and won 3-0, thereby qualifying for the 

quarterfinals. That’s why the country took on aspects of a Sunday afternoon absent traffic and daily activity.

Those who had to work somehow were plugged in to radio or television. At government offices there was a clear gender and class structure. The boss and his cronies were closeted in an "important meeting" centering on a television set while the other employees and nearly all females conducted business as usual.

The match was held in Foxboro, Mass., a real benefit compared to the odd times for games during the World Cup competition last year. 

our daily
our site
Check out
Send us
news story
Visit our
Visit our
Visit our
real estate
of Villalobos
Display ad info



We know Customs!
American-Tico-owned firm 
Commercial and Personal 
Import and Export 
Perry Edwards {Amer} Zinnia Stewart {CR}
Port Limon Agency 
(bonded & licensed)
(506) 758-2022/2062


How to live, 
invest or find
romance in
 Costa Rica

Order Now HERE!

Three hostages freed as police seek bank bandits
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police agencies put their search for bandits into high gear Wednesday afternoon after a bank manager’s wife and their two children showed up unharmed in a rural area near Siquirres.

The trio had been held as hostages while the bandits went with the husband to a Banco de Costa Rica branch in Matina, waiting for the vault to open and took tens of millions of colons in cash.

Investigators had kept their operation low profile while the hostages still were in the hands of the bank bandits. The wife, 26, a daughter, 8, and an infant, 2, showed up at a police checkpoint in the afternoon.

Investigators said that the bandits came into the family’s home Tuesday night and held the four hostage until the morning. The family was identified by the last name Prendas.

The Fuerza Pública based in Limón, the K-9 unit, helicopters and other branches of the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública focused their search on an area between the Pacuare and Pacuarito rivers. This was the general area where the bandits took their three hostages, tied them up and then fled, said a report from the ministry. The area is mountainous.

Matina is about halfway between Limón and Siquirres, about 30 kms., or 18 miles from each.

The wife was able to untie herself after the bandits left her and bring herself and her children to police. Joel Palma, a captain in the Fuerza Pública, took the three to a clinic in Siquirres where they had checkups.  They appeared to be in good physical health.

Walter Navarro, director of the Fuerza Pública, estimated the force in the field at about 70 persons. Police expected to continue to maintain roadblocks for some time.

Father drowns tot
after fight with mom

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An angry father took revenge on a mother by throwing their 1-year-old son into a brook where he drowned, said investigators.

The death of Armando Arias Sánchez took place between 7 and 9 p.m. in the Pacific coast community of Uvita de Osa, said investigators.

Agents for the Judicial Investigating Organization said that Huber Delfín Villareal Manzanares, 19, had a fight with the mother about 2 p.m. and she asked him to leave the home. Villareal did and took his clothes, but he returned about 7 p.m. and took the child out with the permission of the mother, investigators said.

Sometime later the man showed up at the local police station of the Guardia Civil and told an officer that he had thrown the boy into Quebrada Uvita, according to investigators. The police officers quickly found the boy but he had drowned, they said.

Taxi driver killed
in midnight robbery

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Assailants brutally murdered a taxi driver in Curridabat early Wednesday.

The dead man was identified as Miguel Angel Durán Arias, 51. Investigators said that he was a licensed driver who ended up in Urbanización La Colina about 12:20 a.m.

Agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization speculate that some individuals the driver had picked up tried to rob him and the taxi driver fought back. He suffered a bullet wound of the head and the right shoulder plus a knife wound to the neck, said investigators.

Heavy thunderstorms
predicted for today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A depression in the Pacific is expected to cause heavy thunderstorms along the  western coast and in the Central Valley today.

The Caribbean coast and the Northern Zone are expected to be spared the heavy rain.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional says that a decrease in rainy weather is expected by Friday particularly in Guanacaste and the Central Valley.

Rains Wednesday caused local flooding in some parts of the Pacific coast. In Buenos Aires de Puntarenas, in the southwest of the country, the Volcán River flooded and drove at least six families from their homes.

Stolen Cuban boat
headed to U.S. soil

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A surveying boat stolen from Cuba with 15 people on board appears headed for U.S. territorial waters. U.S. Coast Guard officials will not say where the boat is, but they say U.S. laws protecting the nation's borders will be enforced. 

Both U.S. and Cuban officials agree the vessel belonging to Cuba's state marine surveying company GeoCuba, was stolen from the port of Nuevitas, on Cuba's north coast earlier this week. 

Bahamian authorities say the vessel entered their waters on Tuesday but now appears headed for the United States. Bahamian authorities say they decided not to intercept the vessel, and communications with those on board indicated that no one had been harmed in the incident. 

U.S. Coast Guard Spokesman, Lt. Tony Russell, says U.S. laws will be upheld if the boat enters U.S. territorial waters. 

Under U.S. law illegal Cuban migrants who are intercepted at sea are sent back to Cuba. Those who actually set foot on U.S. soil are allowed to stay and apply for permanent residency. 

U.S. officials have so far refused to comment about what they plan to do in this case. In April, Cuban authorities executed three men who tried and failed to hijack a ferry to the United States in Havana harbor. 

Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Lang & Asociados



English, French, Italian Spoken

Telephone (506) 204-7871
FAX (506) 204-7872

Adolfo Rojas Breedy
Breedy Abogados S.A.

Since 1957. Best experience in:

• Real Estate Transfer of Title and Title Search
• Business • Investments
• Commercial & Civil Litigation
• Corporate Law & finance
• Capital markets Law • International Taxation

(506) 233-7203/221-0230        breedy@racsa.co.cr
Web page:  www.breedy.com


Learn how to best protect your interests in the Villalobos case. Explore your options at

Also, we invite you to join one of the most active discussion groups on the case.  Find out what people who care are saying. Join at irccr-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


      Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson, 
attorney at law
Villalobos and Savings Unlimited Collections
*Investments  *Corporations 
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica *Tax Shelters 
*Immigration *Intellectual Property
    *Business procedures *Family and Labor Law
    *Locate People *Private Investigations
       Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 841-0007

Real estate agents

15 years Costa Rican real estate experience
Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000 
Member, Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce
(506) 232-5016 home   (506) 233-8057 office  (506) 382-7399 cell 

Web Design

Personalized Web Design
•Hosting •Promotion •Logo Design
Prices so reasonable they will astound you
Call for a quote:  220-4602
We have over 12 years international experience

Ambassador discounts idea of Mexican-U.S. rift
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In the past several months, since his arrival in Mexico, U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza has had to contend with tensions over the war in Iraq and a general cooling in relations between Mexico and the United States. 

But, in an interview, the ambassador says the relationship remains healthy and strong. Earlier this year differences between Mexican President Vicente Fox and President Geroge Bush became apparent over the issue of Iraq. Mexico, which holds a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, did not support the use of force in Iraq. 

Newspaper headlines in both countries spoke of a breakdown in the once cozy relations between the two presidents and there was even speculation as to how the United States might punish Mexico for having failed to support the Bush policy on Iraq.

But Ambassador Garza says much of this was overblown. He says the relationship has continued to be good in almost every other aspect.

"I point to the mutual efforts with respect to law enforcement, our efforts to crack down on narco-traffickers," he said. "Mexico has worked very closely with respect to counter-terrorism, securing both our border and our two countries. So, while many can point to one very important vote to us where Mexico did not support us, with respect to Iraq, we can also point to a whole host of areas where we continue to work together."

One of the chief goals of Mexican foreign policy is to negotiate an immigration accord with the United States to provide legal status to undocumented Mexicans working north of the border. Some migrant advocates have backed the idea of an amnesty similar to what was done in the immigration reform law of 1986. 

But there are also conservatives who want to put severe limits on immigration as part of an effort to prevent more terrorist attacks. The Bush administration has expressed interest in an immigration agreement, but it has placed security as its top priority. 

Ambassador Garza says recent speeches in the U.S. Congress show immigration reform remains a vital topic.

"My Texas senator, John Cornyn, was on the Senate floor discussing migration and the need to return to having a serious dialogue, a serious debate about how we are going to provide for reform that recognizes our labor needs but, at the same time, does not grant amnesty to people," he said. "I don't think anybody can point to what we did in 1986 and say it was successful. But that is a debate our Congress has to have."

Ambassador Garza, who has known President Bush since the time when the two of them were entering the political arena in Texas more than a 

decade ago, says he knows the president remains committed to good relations.

"When he has characterized this relationship as the single most important one that the United States enjoys, it puts a special responsibility, a special burden on me," Garza said. "But it is nice knowing that this is a relationship that is as important to him as it is to me."

Being the grandson of Mexican immigrants and having grown up in the border city of Brownsville, Texas, Garza has a special sensibility to how Mexico views the world and the United States in particular. 

Some U.S. financial experts have expressed frustration with Mexico's failure to pass reforms in such areas as energy, labor and taxes. Some Mexican business leaders have also warned about trade disadvantages with China and other Asian nations. But Garza says Mexicans are recognizing the need for these reforms and will act soon.

"I think here in Mexico, increasingly, there is not only an awareness that that needs to happen, there is an urgency attached to that happening, largely because each day they are bombarded with their own headlines, what the analysts are saying, what their statistics are saying, who are they losing market share to, where China is in the whole equation," he explained. "They do not need the U.S. ambassador to know these things. They see those in their papers daily."

Garza also expresses optimism for the future of U.S.-Mexico relations, which he says will be improved by increased contact. He says there will be more U.S. influence on Mexico through investment and trade and more Mexican influence north of the border as a result of an increase in the population of people of Mexican descent.

Brazil’s president
seeking investments

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MADRID, Spain — Brazil's president has called on business leaders in Spain to increase investment in Brazil.  President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the investors could help strengthen the Brazilian economy and stabilize the region. He spoke Tuesday here before a group of business officials. 

Spain is a leading investor in Brazil, and the aim of da Silva's two-day visit is to promote trade between the nations.  King Juan Carlos hosted da Silva at an official welcoming ceremony earlier Tuesday at the Pardo Palace on the outskirts of Madrid. 

Da Silva is to meet with Prime Minister Jose María Aznar and members of the opposition party before returning home on Wednesday. President da Silva also visited London and Lisbon as part of his current tour. 

Enforcement against laundering called challenge
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Measuring effectiveness in implementing anti-money laundering rules and sharing that information with financial institutions are two of money regulators' most important challenges, says a U.S. Treasury Department official.

Ensuring that other countries enforce the anti-money-laundering laws they enact is another challenge the United States faces as it works to reduce laundering and terrorist financing around the world, said Michael Dawson. He is deputy assistant secretary for critical infrastructure protection and compliance policy. He spoke Tuesday to the Bankers' Association for Finance and Trade here.

As part of measuring regulators' effectiveness, Treasury officials also are providing the effectiveness information to financial institutions to show them how valuable their efforts are in fighting the war on terror, Dawson said.

Dawson said U.S. money regulators also want to minimize the impact of increased anti-money-laundering rules on consumers' privacy interests.

He outlined progress made in developing and implementing anti-money-laundering rules under provisions of the U.S. PATRIOT Act. These include banning ties between U.S. banks and shell banks in other countries, establishing formal customer identification programs and requiring enhanced 
oversight of foreign correspondent accounts and 

private bank accounts. He said the rules now 
require U.S. financial institutions to take "special measures," such as terminating a banking relationship when there is a "primary money laundering concern."

Dawson pointed to progress made by financial institutions in Switzerland and the United Kingdom in tightening their reporting regulations for international money transactions. In Switzerland, for example, he said, the number of reports of suspicious money transactions received by the government increased 56 percent in 2002 over the previous year.

Dawson highlighted the importance of international financial institutions to expanding foreign trade and to maintaining the jobs of U.S. workers in industries that export goods and services. He added that international financial institutions —money transmitters, banks and credit unions — are also important in facilitating the transfers of workers' remittances, helping to raise the gross domestic product  of poor countries.

As many as 500 million people around the world participate in these types of transactions, he said, adding that workers' sent $10 billion in remittances in 2001 to both India and Mexico and $6.4 billion to the Philippines.

Remittances account for 8.9 percent of gross domestic product in the Philippines, 16.2 percent in Nicaragua, 13.8 percent in El Salvador, 13.5 percent in Jamaica, 9.3 percent in the Dominican Republic, 8.9 percent in Honduras and 7.9 percent in Ecuador, he said. 

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002 and 2003 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. CheckHERE for more details