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These stories were published Thursday, July 25, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 146
Jo Stuart
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Today is a holiday!
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Coffee 'bleak'
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PLN for new tax
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Human Rights Court here to get Berenson case
By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

The government of Peru has asked the Costa Rican-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights to defend its conviction of U.S. citizen Lori Berenson. 

The government is standing firmly by its conviction of Berenson for terrorist acts against the government, following criticism from a watchdog group. 

Peru's request to the court is unprecedented. The developments could lead to a retrial in the case. 

A non-binding recommendation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights says Peru should pay Lori Berenson undisclosed damages for violating her rights during her civilian trial last year. She was sentenced to remain in jail until 2016. 

Sebastian Brett is the Peru researcher for U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. He says the criticism highlights the need for Peru's President Alejandro Toledo to repeal some of the country's draconian anti-terrorism laws, which sent hundreds of suspected terrorists to jail. 

"What this decision of the Inter-American Commission has done is brought forward this debate which has been long delayed and neglected and now they're really going to have to do something serious, and they're going to have to find a way in dealing with all the injustices committed previously," said Brett. 


. . . during her last

The Costa Rica-based court is part of the Organization of American States. Brett says its review of the Berenson case could lead to a new trial. 

"They could order the Peruvian government to order a retrial and start the whole trial of Berenson afresh, and that would mean that the court would have to declare inadmissible some of the evidence that was allowed in the last civilian trial, the most recent trial, which was evidence essentially tainted by the kind of abusive police procedures that existed at the time," he said. 

Ms. Berenson, who is from New York City, says she is innocent. She has been in Peruvian jails since 1995, when she was arrested and accused of being a leader of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. Violence between the government and leftist rebels during the 1980s and 90s killed more than 30,000 people.  The Costa Rica-based court will now most likely begin a study of the Berenson case at its next session, starting Aug. 22. 

City artist gives his impression of Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As Francisco Quesada Huete travels Costa Rica, his mind is like a camera. He captures scenes there, remembers them and translates them into his unique pointillistic style.

Some 80 examples of his mind’s eye are hanging on the 11th floor of the tall building of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros in Barrio Amon.

Visitors quickly recognize their favorite roadside scenes. And with each acrylic painting, Quesada remembers the key incident or event that caused him to register the scene. He can talk at length about the circumstances leading up to his decision to immortalize the vista into a work of art.

There only are six people visible in the exhibition. and that is on one canvas of a beach scene. The rest are, as the title of the exhibition promises: Roads, trails and rivers "Caminos, Veredas y Ríos."

But there is more: bridges, beaches, fields, lakes, streams, waterfalls, a boat, roof tops and a couple of those unique prehistoric spheres. The works range from 47 by 34 centimeter canvases (18.5 inches by about 13.5 inches) to bigger 1.3 meter  to 95 centimeter (51 inches by 37.5 inches).

Quesada, 52, has operated a gallery, Octubre 8, on Paseo Colón for 22 years. He began painting in his unique style after being influenced by several impressionistic masters of pointillism at an exhibit in Italy. Considering the many microclimates of Costa Rica, he noted he has a multitude of subjects to choose.

He said he remembers a scene, quickly sketches it out on paper in little boxes instead of continuous lines, the hallmark of 
pointillism, and then may take up to a month of off-and-on work to produce the scene in

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Costa Rican artist Francisco Quesada Huete is framed by poro trees on his landscape of the famous cane-growing valley of Juan Viñas.

acrylic. Pointillism refers to dots or, in this case, tiny rectangles made by the brush tip that when viewed as a whole suggest a picture.

The exhibit is not easy to find. It is in the Sala de Exposiciones Temporales at the Museo del Jade Marco Fidel Tristán C. on the 11th floor of the INS building. Hours are from 8:30 to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, the same hours as the museum.

Quesada said that there are more of his works hanging in the United States than in Costa Rica. He also has fans in Europe and Japan. Like most artists he is reluctant to talk about money and sometimes presents works to admirers who could not afford them otherwise. His smaller works go for around $1,500 while larger landscapes bring $6,000 to $8,000, he said.

All but three of the present exhibition are owned by the artist. The exhibition runs through August.

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U.S. launches initiative to help growers
Coffee situation like 'hurricane'
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON., D.C. —The U.S. Agency for International Development is launching a new rural economic growth initiative for Central America and Mexico called the "Opportunity Alliance" that is designed to help the region recover from an economically devastating coffee crisis.

Testifying Wednesday before a congressional panel, agency official Adolfo Franco said the path to resolving the coffee crisis, and to fostering greater economic prosperity in Central America, "will be easy or difficult depending on the extent" to which countries in the region "can become more competitive in regional and global markets and increase their levels of trade and investment."

Franco, assistant administrator of the agency’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, said to assist countries on this path, the activities of the Opportunity Alliance will focus on building trade capacity, diversifying the rural economy, and reducing the region's vulnerability to disasters and environmental degradation.

To begin the Opportunity Alliance as quickly as possible, Franco said the U.S. Agency for International Development has reallocated $8.5 million in fiscal year 2002, including $6 million to jump-start a regional quality coffee program. In fiscal year 2003, he added, the agency plans to allocate $30 million for the Opportunity Alliance for Central America and Mexico. The Opportunity Alliance, Franco said, is in direct response to the coffee crisis and the economic and social difficulties facing the rural poor.

Franco told the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere that it is not an overstatement to refer to the coffee crisis in Central America as the economic equivalent of a hurricane. The coffee crisis, he said, has been most severe and felt most acutely by countries in Latin America, where 44 percent of the region's permanent cropland is used to grow coffee. Franco stressed that the coffee crisis is of intense concern

to the United States, and serves as a focal point for current and planned agency programs in Latin America.

Earlier Wednesday, lawmakers heard another official talk about the disaster that is the coffee situation this year.

Low coffee prices around the world are severely hurting those countries that heavily depend on coffee export earnings, said Frank Lee, an official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 Lee said unemployment is increasing as some farmers have abandoned their coffee trees. He added that many growers report that production costs are above the market price, and as a result, lower fertilizer and chemical inputs, such as pesticides, are affecting yields.

Producers in Central America and Africa have been particularly hard-hit, as coffee exports are crucial for export revenue in those regions, said Lee, deputy administrator for commodity and marketing programs in the department's Foreign Agriculture Service.

In sum, coffee farmers around the world face a "bleak situation," Lee told the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He said some countries have been trying to help farmers by helping them to diversify into other crops. But Lee said most farmers are reluctant to give up their coffee trees.

This crop year, 2002/03, world coffee production is forecast at a record 122.1 million bags (1 bag = 60 kilograms or 132.276 pounds), up 10 percent from the previous years level, fueled largely by record production in Brazil.

In Central America, Nicaragua is expected to boost production by 300,000 bags.

Producers being pinched by low prices have reduced tree maintenance, which has led to lower yields. This is why production in Costa Rica is expected to be down some 114,000 bags, said Lee.

All financial eyes are on recovering Wall Street
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Analysts and investors on Wall Street and around the world are closely monitoring the turbulent U.S. stock market, looking for signs of recovery. U.S. shares rallied in morning trading Wednesday as the Justice Department announced the arrests of corporate executives involved in one of the biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history. 

Stock markets in Asia closed down and Europe followed suit, although European markets picked up steam at the end of the trading day on news that U.S. shares were rallying. 

Wall Street analysts said the U.S. markets moved into positive territory midmorning because U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement on a corporate reform bill and rumors that the U.S. central bank held an emergency meeting to discuss ways to prop up the markets. 

A series of corporate scandals and revelations of fraudulent accounting practices have eroded investor confidence in Wall Street, leaving analysts and politicians wondering if a recovery might be further off than anticipated.

Tuesday, the banking sector sank as the U.S. Senate held hearings to determine if two of the largest U.S. banks, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, helped the now-bankrupt Enron Corporation hide billions of dollars in loans. Both banks have since assured investors and employees that they did not act improperly, and their shares have edged up. 

Still, some Wall Streeters say investors want to see action, not just discussions and investigations. The Justice Department took a major step in that direction Wednesday morning, announcing the arrest of three members of the Rigas family that controlled Adelphia Communications Corp. and two former corporate executives. Adelphia, a cable TV operator, declared the fifth largest bankruptcy in U.S. history last month at a cost of some $60 billion to investors.

The Adelphia officials were arrested on charges of security, wire and bank fraud. U.S. Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson announced the arrests. "In addition to this massive securities fraud and bank fraud scheme, the complaint alleges that the defendants victimized Adelphia's shareholders through a wide variety of, quite frankly, brazen thefts," Thompson said.
Thompson said the defendants fraudulently created millions of dollars in fake management 

fees, entered into sham transactions with other companies, falsified the number of subscribers to its cable services and lied to lenders about Adelphia's financial performance.

Adlephia founder John Rigas and his two sons had resigned from the company following earlier disclosures of fraud.

U.S. stock market
pulls off a rebound

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Dow Jones industrials surged in heavy trading Wednesday, marking its second-biggest point gain ever and crossing over 8,000. Analysts attribute the rebound to the crackdown on corporate scandal. 

Heavy trading on Wall Street continued throughout the day and by the closing bell, all major indexes had roared back from a strong sell-off earlier. 

After days of devastating selling sprees, blue chip stocks closed at 8,191 points on Wednesday, a one-day gain of nearly 500 points. 

The NASDAQ composite index was up nearly 5 percent after gaining 61 points, and the broader Standard and Poor's 500 index was up 45.73 points, closing at 5.7 percent. According to Nicholas Angilletta, the head of retail trading at the Investment firm Salomon Smith Barney, the rally indicates the stock market could be on the road to recovery. 

"I think again this is a good sign, a good sign of stabilization," she said. "I am not going to say we are not going to trade low before we get a little bit higher, but I think we stay north of 8,000 on the Dow for this week and I think we will probably even see we might even see north of 1,300 on the composite." 

The rally followed sharp rises in shares of J.P. Morgan Chase and Citicorp after rating agency Standard and Poor's reiterated its credit ratings on the two financial institutions. 

Despite Wednesday's rally, market observers are skeptical of any long term rally. After the market closed, media giant AOL Time Warner said that federal regulators had opened an investigation into its accounting practices. 

Liberación signs on
to fiscal reform plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The chief of the Partido Liberación Nacional says his party will support immediate, contingency reforms to raise more money for the government.

He suggests that the government move ahead immediately with a value-added tax.

And the chief, Bernal Jeménez, said his party will participate in a commission to study a long-term fiscal plan.

Casa Presidential announced this on Wednesday after Jiménez had lunch with President Abel Pacheco. Pacheco is a member of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana. 

Casa Presidential described the short-term plan as a way to give the government "oxygen" while longer-term solutions are figured out. The short-term initiatives do not include any new taxes but do call for better collection of existing taxes. The short--term plan is designed to reduce the annual deficit some 45 per cent, said officials.

Also at the lunch was Walter Bolaños, minister of Hacienda, the tax-collecting agency.

The value-added tax is a key ingredient of the tax reform plan drafted and presented by six former ministers of Hacienda just days before Pacheco took office. The value-added concept would apply a tax at every stage of production. The end user would pay for all the taxes in the price of the object being purchased.

Because the fiscal reform plan was a multi-party venture, most current lawmakers are signing on in one way or the other to the plan which requires multiple votes in the Asemblea Nacional.

Costa Rica now has a sales tax. But other countries have found that a value-added tax greatly increases revenues. For one thing, raw material dealers, fabricators, middlemen and retail distributors pay a tax even if the product is never sold and must be discarded.

The value added generally is the difference between the price at which someone purchased materials and the wholesale price at which they sell their product.

Services are Friday
for Jacques Hardy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A funeral service will be Friday at 4 p.m. in Santa Ana for Jacques Hardy, 49, a two-term president of the Canadian Club of Costa Rica, according to friends.

He died Tuesday. He was retired as a chartered accountant in Canada where he worked for a major accountancy firm, friends said.

He is survived by his wife Jocelyne and three children, the friends said.

Services will be in the Catholic church in Rio Oro, which is a kilometer west of the Cruz Roja building in Santa Ana on the road to Piedades, according to information circulating in the Canadian community.

Big holiday today
all over country

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is a holiday in Costa Rica, marking the 1824 decision by residents in Guanacaste to become part of this country.

The decision provided Costa Rica with its western cowboy tradition and the many prime Pacific beaches that are tourist destinations today.

President Abel Pacheco and his cabinet ministers are in Nicoya today where they will hold a meeting of the government council in the city park. Festivities also are planned in Santa Cruz and in San José where the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deporte will put on shows and feature sales booths from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Parque España near the ministry and in the ministry itself which is just east of the park in the former liquor factory.

Some stores will be open today. Government offices and the U.S. Embassy are closed. 

Fujimori started war
for profit, panel says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Peru — A panel of Peruvian lawmakers has accused former President Alberto Fujimori and three of his former ministers of treason. 

The accusations, made public Tuesday, stem from government purchases of outdated fighter planes during Peru's 1995 -1996 border conflict with Ecuador. The legislative panel accused Fujimori of putting the country's security at serious risk by starting the conflict. 

The committee is probing a decade of alleged corruption in the Andean nation.  Its report is considered a first step toward having lawmakers consider formal charges against the disgraced former president, who now lives in Japan. 

Fujimori's 10-year hold on power ended two years ago in a corruption scandal involving his now-jailed former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. Fujimori fled Peru and took up residence in his parents' native Japan, where he became a naturalized citizen. 

Peru is seeking his extradition, but Japan refuses, saying it does not extradite its citizens. The two countries do not have an extradition agreement. 

Signers to perform Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican singers Juan Carlos Ureña and his wife Jeana will be live Saturday at Aya Sofya, the Turkish restaurant in Barrio California.

The show begins at 9 p.m., and admission is free. Those who wish to eat, can make reservations at these numbers 221-7185 or 389-3610, said a spokesman.

The restaurant is at Calle 21 and Avenida Principal not far from the downtown.

Mejia visits Washington

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The president of the Dominican Republic was in the United States Tuesday to meet with U.S. officials to discuss economic cooperation between the two countries. The president, Hipolito Mejia, met with Secretary of State Colin Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.  President Mejia was also scheduled to meet with representatives from the Organization of American States.

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Menem rejects claim
he helped Iranians

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Former Argentine President Carlos Menem is rejecting a report in a U.S. newspaper that he was paid $10 million to cover up Iran's connection to a terror attack at a Jewish center in Argentina. Argentina's current government is distancing itself from the story.

Menem is fighting back after allegations published on the front page of Monday's New York Times said he was paid to cover up Iran's involvement in the worst terror attack in Argentina's history. The Times quoted from transcripts of a deposition given by a former Iranian intelligence officer to Argentine authorities.

Menem called the story slanderous, and the Iranian government denied any involvement in the bombing. A government spokesman in Tehran called the Times' report "journalistic fantasy."

The Iranian intelligence agent was quoted by the Times as telling Argentine authorities that Iran was behind the planning and execution of the 1994 bombing of an Argentine Jewish center that killed 85 people. The Iranian intelligence officer who, the Times said, gave his name as Abdolghassem Mesbahi, was also quoted as saying the Iranians paid Menem $10 million to block the investigation.

Menem is running again for president of Argentina with primary elections coming up in December.

He accused the government of current President Eduardo Duhalde of leaking the deposition to the public to hurt his chances. But government chief Alfredo Atanasof dismissed Menem's claims as politics. He said the ex-president is campaigning and the government does comment on what the candidates say.

The government says the investigation has been under way for eight years, but so far no progress has been made and no prime suspects have been named. A trial of several accessories started nine months ago, but a verdict is not expected anytime soon. 

Bill expands use
of aid by Colombia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The $29 billion counter-terrorism bill passed by Congress includes a provision that would change the way Colombia uses more than $1 billion in U.S. aid. 

Colombia is currently restricted to using U.S. aid to fund counternarcotics efforts. 

The counter-terrorism bill provision would allow Colombia to use the money to fight leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department. 

The Bush Administration has said it wants Congress to give it explicit legal authority to help Colombia wage a unified campaign against narco-traffickers, terrorists and rebels. Colombia's rebels and outlawed groups constantly battle each other for control of the country's drug trade, clouding any difference between a rebel and a narcotics smuggler.

Colombia is mired in a 38-year civil war involving the rebels, paramilitaries and the army. The conflict has left at least 40,000 people dead in the past decade alone.  The Bush Administration has said Washington is trying to find the best way to help Colombia's government prevail in its civil war. 

Venezuelans fight
big floods in west

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — Severe flooding has left thousands of Venezuelans homeless as soldiers transport food, water and medicine to western Apure state near the Colombian border. 

Flooding caused by torrential rains inundated Guasdualito and other nearby towns Monday, causing four deaths — three of them from electrocution. More than 25,000 people have been forced from their homes.  Residents scrambled to salvage their belongings, loading farm animals and other goods onto trucks and canoes to escape the rising waters. 

Interior Minister Diosdado Cabello said military planes were evacuating homeless residents to nearby Barinas state and to this, the Venezuelan capital. 

Venezuelan Environment Minister Ana Elisa Osorio also said runoff from rains in the Colombian Andes is making the situation worse. She said rainfall in that area is 200 times more than normal. 

Flooding in the southern Venezuelan state of Amazonas also has forced at least 3,000 people to abandon their homes.
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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