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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 23, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 144
Jo Stuart
About us
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Saray Ramírez Vindas 
A seasonal rain resembles a heavy fog in Playas del Coco's harbor

While Pacheco visits Guanacaste, pilgrims are getting ready
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two big holidays are coming up here in Costa Rica.

The first, on Thursday, a legal holiday, celebrates the 1824 annexation of Guanacaste. President Abel Pacheco will be going west to participate in the festivities, and his Council of Government will meet in the public park in Nicoya.

But as the festival dies down over the weekend in Guanacaste, pilgrims from all over the country and from adjacent Latin lands will be hoofing it to Cartago so they can be there Friday, Aug. 2, for the festival of the Black Virgin, La Negrita.

Anyone who has not witnessed the devotion is amazed at the number of people who take to the major highways to walk to Cartago. The highways and the city streets are crammed with pilgrims enroute to the city some 20 miles east of San José. They seek miracles to help in their personal lives, or they just want to go where the action is.

La Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles is the center of the country that day, which marks the date when a girl found a small statue of the Virgin in 1635. 

Despite efforts to the contrary, the small statue continued to show up on a rock near a stream where the existing church was built. The faithful believe that the independently minded statue reflected the will of God. Although an earthquake destroyed the original church in 1920, the structure there now was built soon after. The Virgin is the patroness of the country.

Pilgrims usually pack some food for their walk to Cartago. Government ministers better do the same for their trip to Guanacaste Thursday. An austerity minded president has told his cabinet that he is not going to pay for lunch, transportation or lodging.

Nevertheless, the ministers are going on their own dime.  The tour begins Thursday with a trip to the friendship bridge, Puente La Amistad, and a meeting with Kao Wen Mau, ambassador of the Republic of China, Taiwan. The Taiwanese are building the bridge across the Tempisque River as a gift to Costa Rica. The bridge, when it opens this year, will replace a ferry and cuts a lot of time off travel to the Nicoya Peninsula.

The Council of Government is scheduled for 11 a.m. in Nicoya, the governmental center of the area.

On Friday, Pacheco will visit the Feria Ganadera in Liberia and also participate in the dedication of the Mall Centro Plaza there.

Then the president is off to Cañas and the AquaCorporation, a grower of tilapia, the fish that is exported to the United States and Europe. 

The firm employes 640 people and will inaugurate enough tanks to keep 100 more employees busy when Pacheco visits. He also will visit a university in Cañas.

Costa Ricans were delighted when the residents of Guanacaste decided to join the country 178 years ago. And they have not stopped thanking them. The visit by the president is an example.

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Pacheco's fiscal plan is at least very ambitious
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

President Abel Pacheco’s fiscal recovery plan, announced Friday, seeks to have it all.

The president wants to end poverty, eliminate the governmental deficit, reinforce the infrastructure, expand tourism a whopping 550 percent over 15 years and create a tradition of paying taxes among Costa Ricans.

He also wants to cut inflation to single digits and maintain a nice, steady 6 percent growth.

The plan seems a trifle ambitious and is keyed to the Asemblea Nacional passing more or less intact a new tax package proposed by six ministers of Hacienda just before Pacheco took office in early May.

Can a government take more money from the people in the form of taxes and yet see a steady economic expansion. Pacheco seems to say he can. He wants a value-added tax and more taxes on corporations.

There was no mention in the plan of dumping some of the white elephants that are the monopoly institutes. Former president Miguel Angel Rodríguez ran into a buzz saw when he tried to undermine the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the telephone and Internet monopoly. But Pacheco might find that there is less support among the people for the Instituto Nacional de Seguros. 

Hardly anyone (except its employees) would miss the insurance monopoly if Pacheco opened up the country to other carriers. And maybe someone 

Analysis on the news

would offer an automobile policy with less than a 20 percent deductible.

There is no doubt that Costa Rica, pressured by international treaties being formulated now, will have to dump some of its monopolies. New competition would create some of the additional growth Pacheco seeks and would introduce a new source of long-term capital to the country for development.

But Pacheco is somewhat unrealistic. His tourism plan, a key element, says many of the tourist destinations are underutilized in the rainy season. He wants to increase rainy season tourism. In fact, this is a key element of his plan. But in the spring and summer, people in Wisconsin go to the lake, fish for walleye and eat brats. Only in the winter do they seek a tropical getaway. 

That is not the only aspect of the recovery plan that seems to wilt when exposed to the light of day. In fact, the plan seems more like a campaign document than a solid proposal for economic growth.

Yet some big names have signed on and even helped Pacheco devise the proposal.

Only time will tell if increased taxation and increased government spending can encourage real economic growth. But didn’t they try that in the Soviet Union?

The changing of the guard at the New York Bar
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There was a nostagic tribute at the New York Bar Saturday night. The bar is not dead. 

Photo by Jon DeHaai
Dunn and Yafarano appear happy
It is just being moved a block down Avenida 1 and around the corner on Calle 9. But Pat Dunn, who managed the small but famous watering hole for five years, is hanging it up. 

His manager, Mike Yafarano, will continue day-to-day oversight for owner Richard Arthur.

Of course, that’s an excuse for a party, and party they did Saturday night. Now the bar is closed and locked, awaiting the new, expanded quarters in the former Sharkey’s.

Dunn will continue to operate his Piano Bar on the Avenida Principal boulevard.

The party must have been some event Saturday, because readers took photos and sent them in. We presume that Dunn and Yafarano (left) spent time at the beach Saturday during the day, thereby accounting for the red glow obvious in their faces.

Retirement bible
updated by Howard

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Christopher Howard has come out with an updated and expanded 2002-2003 edition of "The NEW Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica."

The book, the 12th edition, offers invaluable assistance to anyone looking for a safe, affordable place to live outside of the United States, said the author.  This useful book contains all the ins and outs and dos and don’ts and much more indispensable secret insider information about all areas of living in Costa Rica, he added.

Howard is well-known in the Costa Rican expat community for his professional attention to what foreigners need to relocate here successfully.

His book gives a step-by-step guide. Howard listed these topics as content: 

How to live on a budget; how start a business and includes 100s of sure-fire tips for making money; how to stay busy and happy; where to live in Costa Rica;  how to acquire residency; shortcuts for learning Spanish; how to take advantage of the many tax savings for foreign residents; how to find high-interest investments paying as high as 20 percent or more annually; how to pay fewer U.S. taxes as a foreign resident; how to make the break from the rat race and start a new exciting life; and even how and where to find quality people for companionship.

Howard, is a paid consultant for National Geographic in Costa Rica and a columnist for the newspaper Central America Weekly, the magazine Costa Rica Outdoors  and the magazine of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica's magazine, El Residente. 

The author said that North Americans, confronted with the spiraling cost of living in the United States and Canada are searching for an affordable place to live or retire without sacrificing their current lifestyles.  Of course, he recommends Costa Rica, which he calls "one of Latin America's best-kept secrets."

The country is located only two hours by air from Florida, Howard noted. He cites the year-round spring-like weather; friendly people; the low cost of living; inexpensive medical care; excellent transportation and communication systems; affordable housing; plus a government that makes relocating as easy as possible.

"The New Golden Door to Retirement and Living in Costa Rica," (ISBN 1-881233-56-1) is available for $24.95 plus $4 shipping from Costa Rica Books, Suite 1, SJO 981,  P.O. Box 025216, Miami, Fla.
33102-5216, from Amazon.com, as a direct download from www.publishingonline.com or by credit card by calling 1-800-365-2342 in the United States, Howard said.

The book also is available via trade wholesales and in San José at 7th Street Books, a half a block north of the Avenida Principal boulevard.

Price of AIDs drugs
reported dropping

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Pan American Health Organization reports that the price of drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS dropped dramatically in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2001.

The price drop resulted from agreements between government health ministries in the region and drug companies. However, in a price comparison study conducted between May 2001 and May 2002, the health organization found wide differences in cost of HIV/AIDS drugs among the 14 countries surveyed.

For example, the annual cost of one common antiretroviral therapy dropped from $12,568 to $1,484 in Haiti. In Brazil, another type of common antiretroviral therapy dropped from $1,408 to $635, the lowest in the region, while some countries were paying more than $6,000 for the same treatment.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, some countries are now able to provide drugs to AIDS patients for about $1,000 a year. But even with greatly reduced prices, many countries cannot afford to provide antiretroviral drugs to all in need. Out of more than 475,000 people in need in the region, only 170,000 currently have access to the drugs — mostly in Brazil. This means that the HIV/AIDS virus will continue to spread in the region.

Antiretroviral drugs have been shown to improve health status, productivity and quality, and length of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. The agency said negotiations to obtain low prices for antiretroviral drugs in the region have been continuing since2001. Caribbean governments are seeking a uniform regional price for the drugs from suppliers at the lowest possible level, regardless of a country's gross domestic product, or HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, Pan American Health Organization officials reported.

In all the Americas, one in every 200 persons between the ages of 15 and 49 is HIV-infected. In the Caribbean, one of every 50 persons has the infection. The Caribbean has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS outside of sub-Saharan Africa. The Pan American Health Organization said that the small size of most Caribbean islands and their fragile economic status make them extremely vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

U.S. government efforts to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide include President Bush's recently announced Initiative on Prevention of HIV in Mothers and Children. This initiative will pair U.S. hospitals with African and Caribbean counterparts for training in prevention, care, and treatment programs. The initiative builds on existing U.S. government health programs to provide for the administering of antiretroviral drugs to the mother and infant.

Pacific Princess
captain ducks trial

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The long-awaiting trial of the captain of the Pacific Princess did not begin as scheduled Monday in Puntarenas.  The captain is Álvaro Campos Villagra, who was in charge when the craft full of excursionists sunk in the Gulf of Nicoya on a run from the Island of Tortuga to Puntarenas. His lawyer said he was undergoing medical treatment.

The case has dragged since Feb. 15, 1997 when the craft went down six miles off Puntarenas harbor. Two women died. The court in Puntarenas was less than impressed and issued a warrant for the captain’s detention and presence. He faces what amounts to criminal neglect charges.

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Street kids slain
in Guatemala City

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

GUATEMALA CITY — A man opened fire on homeless youngsters, killed three and wounded three others while the victims were sleeping in the capital city’s center last Saturday night.

The dead were Roberto López Gómez, 17, Luis Armando Linares, 17, both Guatemalans, and Loani Brigite Izaguirre, 20, a Honduran. Roberto received two bullet wounds in his back and Loani had at least three in her back. Both died instantly. Luis Armando died in the hospital early Sunday morning from the wounds he received.

Members of the Casa Alianza staff have cared for each one of the slain youths on different occasions, the child welfare organization said. Loani was a patient at the Hogar de Niñas-Madres de Casa Alianza when she delivered her son last January.  Apparently, she had left her baby under the care of her family in Honduras before returning to Guatemala.

This was not the first time Roberto had been attacked while living on the streets. In January of 1996, an unidentified man poured gasoline on Roberto’s body and set him ablaze. He suffered second degree to third degree burns and was laid up in the hospital for three months. They never captured his torturer.

"Indignation, fury and frustration are the feelings that immediately come to mind," said Bruce Harris, regional director of Casa Alianza for Latin America. "Again, we face the murder of homeless children in cold blood. Once again, Guatemala has demonstrated a new level of cruelty to their own children." He is based in San José.

Dance club deaths
are now put at 30

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Peru — Peruvian authorities say the death toll in last Saturday's fire at an unlicensed Lima dance club has risen to 30. 

Officials say the blaze at the "Utopia" nightclub erupted when a fire stunt by a bartender went wrong and set the building ablaze. About 1,000 partygoers were celebrating the club's second month in business when it went up in flames. 

Many of the victims died of suffocation. They included nieces of Peru's two vice presidents as well as the daughter of a former congressman. A caged lion and tiger being used in the festivities also died. 

Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo has said those responsible for the deadly fire will face the full weight of the law. Tulio Nicolini, Lima's fire chief, says the club was a potential disaster because it had no proper emergency exit signs or sprinklers to put out the blaze. 

This was the second major fire in Peru in less than one year. Last December, exploding fireworks ignited an inferno in a Lima shopping district, killing nearly 300 people.

Less student drug use
cited by federal official

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — John Walters, director of National Drug Control Policy, says that a 2001/2002 survey "shows hopeful signs of reduced drug use among 101,000 students in 21 states."

The survey was conducted by the National Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education, and is one of several methods used for collecting data on drug use among young people in grades 6 through 12.

"This year's PRIDE survey suggests that young Americans may be taking their lives and communities more seriously by saying no to drugs," Walters said.

The survey indicates that annual illicit drug use fell from 24.6 to 22.3 percent, and alcohol consumption dropped from 52.1 to 50.4 percent.

Students who received warnings about illegal drug use from teachers and parents, and those active in extracurricular activities reported lower drug and alcohol levels than students who were less active in school-sponsored activities and never heard anti-drug messages from adults.
Professional Directory

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

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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