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These stories were published Monday, July 28, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 147
Jo Stuart
About us

Cataratas del Toro by Brigitte Jordan, Ph.D.

Scenic winner is a classic landscape photo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A corporate anthropologist from Matapalo de Quepos took the winning shot in the Scenic category of the A.M. Costa Rica photography contest.

She is Brigitte Jordan Ph.D. The photo, taken March 17, is of Cataratas del Toro near Toro Amarillo, about an hour outside of Zarcero, according to the photographer. A couple stands at water’s edge while the waterfall plunges into a pool. "I had climbed down about two-thirds of the 400 stairs that lead to the bottom of the waterfall when I took the picture," she said.

Judge Frank Scott praised the photo and said that it has rich colors, sharp focus and shows depth.

In fact, this photo was selected first by all  three judges, the only time that has happened in this contest which has five categories.

The Scenic category is perhaps the most competitive. Readers submitted 39 photos for the category. The subject matter demonstrates just how scenic Costa Rica can be.

Colorful photos of sunsets dominated, but judges also found more merit in technical excellence instead of mere color. Several finalists also were selected.

However, readers are invited to second-guess the judges. We have posted the category on the Web HERE!

For winning the category, Dr. Jordan gets a $100 prize.

Scott, one of the judges, is a Canadian who lives year-round in Costa Rica. As a nature photographer he has traveled throughout Canada and the United States, including Alaska. He has extensive professional qualifications. Scott is well-known to visitors because he conducts photo tours of Costa Rica.

Sarah Hogan, another judge, is a writer and a former newspaper and magazine editor in Colorado and Kansas. She, too, is a professional photographer, who now lives in Greybull, Wyo.

Saray Ramírez Vindas, the chief judge, is well-known to readers of A.M. Costa Rica for her professional news photography and penetrating news reports from the streets of San José. She is one of the owners of the newspaper.

Judge for yourself

The entries in the Scenic category are posted on the Web HERE!

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Operators of Flamingo Marina seek a purchaser
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Operators of the Flamingo Marina are negotiating with several groups in an attempt to sell it.

Jim McKee, who has run the operation, said that the municipality of Santa Cruz was once again taking steps to close the marina. He just won a legal victory against the municipality in a battle that reached its peak six months ago. He said this will be the fourth time that the municipality has tried to eliminate the ownership of the marina.

The marina is an important operation for boat owners, and it is one of four on the Pacific coast. His operation is the only marina in the beach community and is called officially Marina y Club de Yates Flamingo, S.A. His title is president.

"Almost 15 years have gone by since I came to Costa Rica and had the dream of completing the first marina in Costa Rica," said McKee in a message to board owners and customers. "Last month, I finally came to the conclusion that I would never be able to complete the marina and realize a gain for the investment of money and time. 

There usually are about 70 boats in the marina, and the municipality is believed to have hopes of 

renting the operation at a high fee. McKee also has been dogged by neighbors who have had personal problems with him.

"I do believe . . . that the marina can be completed if a new company with Costa Rican partners buys the marina and can demonstrate that they have the resources to build a complete [a] new marina in compliance with the new marina law," said McKee. 

He also said he was fed up working long hours for low pay.

He said that two weeks ago he met with Steven Ferris and Jack Osborne, two other marina owners, to tell them of his plans. He wanted to set up a system so that there would be the least disruption of day-to-day activities, he said.

In an e-mail to A.M. Costa Rica he said that he will stay on the board of directors and that a manager will be hired. Meanwhile, he is contemplating another business.

He will open an office Aug. 16 in a new commercial center where he will provide sailing and fishing charters and administration of Hidden Valley Estates, a 20-acre development east of Haucus. He also will offer computer and Web page support in a joint venture with his son, he said.

Cuba marks 50th anniversary of Moncada attack
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

HAVANA, Cuba — Cuba's government Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the initial attack that began the Cuban revolution. The observances take place amid a faltering economy and a harsh government crackdown on dissidents.

Fifty years ago, Fidel Castro led a group of rebels in an assault on the Moncada barracks in the eastern city of Santiago. The attack failed miserably, and Fidel Castro and many of his colleagues were sent to prison.

However, less than two years later, Castro was let out of prison and sent into exile in Mexico. A few years later, he returned to Cuba where he led the 1959 revolution that overthrew the government of Fulgencio Batista.

Cuba's aging revolutionaries always celebrate July 26 as the beginning of their revolution, and the country's most important holiday. This year is no exception, and Cuban officials have spent large sums of money on the July 26 observances, even as Cuba's economy has faltered badly.

Direct foreign investment in Cuba has dwindled to less than $40 million a year. Cuba's all-important sugar harvest is expected to be at about two million tons, the lowest output since the 1930s. 

Hans De Salas Del Valle, a researcher at the University of Miami's Cuban Studies Institute, says most young Cubans have given up on the Castro revolution.

"Most disturbing, I would say, is growing disaffection among younger Cubans," he said. "University enrollment rates have dropped by nearly 50 percent since 1989, when Soviet subsidies came to an end. If you look at the faces of those who are venturing out onto the high seas in an effort to reach the United States, they are, by-and-large, young males. Cuba is really losing its

future, its young generation, which either [is] opting to try to hustle to make a dollar from tourists on the island, instead of pursuing higher education, or willing to risk their lives by venturing out into the Florida straits to reach the United States."

In the days leading up to the July 26 observances, U.S. Coast Guard authorities reported intercepting several large groups of Cuban migrants attempting to reach Florida. Under U.S. law, those who actually set foot on U.S. soil are allowed to stay, while those who are intercepted at sea are sent back to Cuba. 

European Union still
will provide Cuba aid

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The European Commission says it remains committed to aiding Cuba despite statements from Cuban President Fidel Castro rejecting Europe's help.  The European Union's executive body issued a statement Sunday, saying it regretted the comments from Castro. 

The statement said the European Union would continue its support for the Cuban people and especially to those most in need. Europe has given more than $167 million to Cuba since 1993. 

Castro made the criticism Saturday during a nationally televised speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Communist revolution on the Caribbean island.  Castro said Cuba does not need the help of the European Union to survive. 

Castro's move is believed to be in response to an E.U. decision last month to review the economic alliance's policies toward Cuba, due to concerns about human rights violations there.  In March, Cuba launched a crackdown on political dissidents, sentencing 75 journalists and human rights activists to prison terms. 

Independence fiesta
planned for Sept. 6

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats in Costa Rica will again celebrate the country’s Independence Day with a big party at Pueblo Antiguo.

Independence Day is Sept. 15, but the party for expats will be Saturday, Sept. 6. The sponsoring organization is the Association of Residents of Costa Rica.

The event is open to the public, and foreigners in Costa Rica are encouraged to invite Costa Ricans.

The event also is a big fund-raiser for the Charity Fund of the association. Pueblo Antiguo is part of the Parque de Diversiones near Hospital México in western San José. The village contains replicas of buildings that existed in the country in past years.

Organizers promise folk dancing, marimba music, authentic Costa Rican cuisine and a book fair.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children from 5 to 12. But the tickets must be purchased before  the event.  Information is available at 233-8068.

Fugitive dentist
caught in Florida

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. dentist who jumped bail two years ago in Quepos has been arrested in Florida.

The man, Arthur Kanev, 57, is facing allegations of corrupting girls in the Pacific port town.

A friend who did go to trial, Curtis Baker, 51, of Oklahoma City, Okla., got 24 years in prison for supplying drugs to minors. Baker is a veterinarian.

The arrest was made Thursday night in Pompano Beach, Fla., as the man returned to the home of his mother.

Among other allegations facing Kanev is that he took pornographic photos of the minor girls. He is expected to face an extradition hearing in September.

University evicting
radio station tenant

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is not a lot of peace at the University for Peace these days. The university, which is west of Ciudad Colón, is kicking out Radio for Peace International, a shortwave station that been operating there since 1987.

The station says it is the only listener-supported shortwave station, and it broadcasts messages of peace and social justice as well as daily United Nations programming.

James Latham, chief executive officer of the radio station, says the eviction is unexplained and legally questionable. He said in a release:  "This is more than an eviction, this is about the right to free speech."

The university says that the radio station owes money, although no spokesman could be reached Sunday.

The radio station said that a week ago its access gate was locked with chains and the area is patrolled by armed guards employed by the University for Peace.

Arcelio Hernandez, a San José lawyer, is representing the radio station.

With the advent of the Internet, shortwave broadcasting has gone into decline because the same messages can be transmitted via the Internet at much less expense. This may be a factor in the financial problems of the radio station.

Several countries have eliminated and others have reduced their shortwave broadcasts, which were considered important diplomacy tools, particularly during the Cold War.

Shootout in Heredia
wounds two suspects

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A few minutes before midnight Saturday armed men held up a small store in Heredia but they quickly ran into police and engaged them in a shootout.

The scene was only about 100 meters (325 feet) east of the Heredia police station.

Police wounded the two suspects when they returned fire. One, identified by the last names of Sánchez Suazo, suffered a wound to the buttock, and the second, identified by the last names of Mejías Zamora, suffered wounds to the legs.

Bridge plunge kills
two in Guanacaste

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man drove his vehicle off a bridge near Belén de Nicoya about 3:30 p.m. Saturday and his wife and daughter died in the mishap, said Fuerza Pública officers.

The man had the last names of Ramírez Chaves, and the Honda Civic crashed to the stream below. The bridge does not have railings.

Dead are Marianela Fallas Zúñiga, 20, and Valeria Ramírez Fallas, 2, said police.

Police get training
in code for children

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 30 more police officers finished their training this weekend in the technicalities of the children’s and adolescents’ legal code.

They join some 470 fellow officers who also completed the course at a time when protection of children has a high priority among government officials.

The officers included members of the Fuerza Pública and the Policía Municipal of San José.

Neighbors turn
on abuse suspect

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Neighbors tried to lynch a man in Barrio México because they heard that he tried to invite three minors into his home and later shouted obscene words.

That was the story Fuerza Pública officers got when they responded to a 911 call from the man, identified by the last names of Ortíz Jiménez. The 46-year-old man works in the neighborhood and was accused of inviting the three minors, 9, 11, and 12 to his home, said police.

When police arrived they listened to the complaints of the parties involved and took  Ortíz Jiménez into custody for further investigation.

Tension is running high in neighborhoods since an 8-year-old girl was killed July 4. A week later her body was found in the ground beneath the floor in a neighbor’s home.

Practice in trees
results in death

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Costa Rican died Saturday afternoon in an accident involving the use of ropes to explore the forest canopy.

The man was identified as Johan Quirós Rodríguez, 23, of Tanque de La Fortuna, which is several miles east of the tourist town of La Fortuna, where the death happened.

He died when he slammed into a tree, said the Fuerza Pública while he was practicing the techniques used to sail through the canopy. The canopy can be explored by riding on cables. 

The mishap took place about 5:30 p.m., said police.

Another prisoner
flees La Reforma

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For the second time in less than a week, a prisoner has escaped from the La Reforma Penitentiary in Alajuela.

The latest escapee is Antonio Angulo Morales, 31, who was serving a sentence of 15 years for rape and robbery. Officials think that he jumped into the Río Virilla which runs near the facility. Officials believe that he might have died in the escape attempt. they called off the search when rain began at midday Sunday.

Another inmate, Kaylor Molina, escaped earlier in the week. He was serving a nine year sentence, officials said.
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U.S. will announce new initiative on illegal logging
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. government will be announcing a major initiative against illegal logging today.

Colin L. Powell, secretary of state, will make the announcement this afternoon, and he is expected to say that the United States will pay attention to laws and regulation of developing countries when shipments of logs and lumber arrive at the border.

The United States also will step up the fight against corruption in the forest industry of these countries.

In February 2002, President George W. Bush directed the secretary of state to develop the initiative to help developing countries stop illegal logging, a practice that destroys biodiversity and releases millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, according to the Department of State.

This initiative was put together in close consultation with the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, 

Treasury; the U.S. Agency for International Development and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Smithsonian Institution, and U.S.-based industry and conservation groups, said the State Department.

Illegal logging is a problem in Costa Rica, and President Abel Pacheco has cracked down on transportation of logs after hours. Every month environmental officials and Fuerza Pública officers conduct raids on saw mills and other places where valuable tropical lumber might be hidden.

Costa Rica has a permitting system, but it is not closely enforced. In addition, much of the protected land is vulnerable to timber poaching.

The U.S. Initiative is expected to be similar to the prohibitions on importing valuable cultural material such as archaeological relics from third-world countries. The laws prohibit the possession of such material when it has been acquired in a manner that is illegal in the country of origin.

We are counting on some funny stories
It's time to tickle that funnybone if you have one
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is a land of contradictions, and contradiction is one of the chief concepts of humor.

So now is a time to gently explore our foibles in the mid-winter humor contest sponsored by A.M. Costa Rica marking the second birthday of our Internet daily newspaper.  (Yes, it is "winter’ in Costa Rica.)

Send your humorous writings for publication to:


Make your fellow readers laugh and win great prizes, such as:

• water skiing at Lake Poas.

• annual subscriptions to A.M. Costa Rica

• sunbathing expeditions to the sand dunes of Quepos

• Whale-watching expeditions at the patio of the Gran Hotel Costa Rica

• A night of guaro excess with the A.M. Costa Rica editor (your treat).

Any money prizes will be paid in post-dated checks.

We expect to have some famous judges. At least we will have judges.


Consider the possibilities:

• The Escazú Witch Project
• Fear and Loathing in Santa Ana
• Waiting for Enrique
• How Would You like to be President for a Day?
• The Attack of the 100-foot-tall ICE
• The Return of the Arias.
• The Taxista Always Rings Twice
• Mr. Smith Goes to Arbitration

But you can do better than that. The important thing is to be funny. You can use satire or straight humor. But you must write about Costa Rica. (George Bush is out. We can’t make this too easy.)

Your stories can be true, but exaggeration is a tool of humor. We will publish the good ones as fiction.

Some people say our readers cannot possibly top what really has been happening in Costa Rica. But we have faith.

Our second birthday is Aug. 15, and that’s the deadline.

Now some folks will be upset with us, thinking that we are picking on them. These are the folks who are humorously challenged. Why should we take the credit for them being so funny? Nevertheless, if you wish to send us hate mail or death threats, please do not clog up the editor’s mailbox like before. Send your hate mail or death threats to:


Let the contest begin.

New incentive idea encourages Gringo investment
By Nathan Bedford Forrest*
Special correspondent

Today at a joint press conference, the President of the Republic, the ICT and Canatur, public and private agencies responsible for developing tourism and encouraging foreign investment announced a dramatic and exciting plan to increase cash flow to the financially strapped government.

The incentive program is designed to replace the formerly abolished tax incentives for imports such as cars, furniture, and supplies for hotel projects which were discontinued due to government corruption in the supervisory departments and taxing authorities.

Our third story

The president stated: "We believe these exciting new ideas will immediately increase cash flow to the government and stimulate foreign investment in infrastructure."

This program will not only stimulate the economy by its clever use of Costa Rica's reputation as a third world frontier and place "where a man can be a man," but it will also assist in long desired plans to get all government employees including workers at all the government monopolies to become more service and customer orientated. "In effect we will be killing two birds with one stone," said the finance minister. 

The only opposition to the program seems to be from the union representatives of the ICE, government workers and teachers, who are demanding a special hazardous duty pay when their job requires contact with investors who qualify under this program as legal residents.

The basic program is similar to the deer and turkey tagging programs in effect in may states in the U.S. to control excess populations. 

As explained by the minister of tourism, Each $100,000 invested in qualified business by a foreign investor will allow the investor to receive four "toe tags" which will be good for the year of issue only and will allow the investor to shoot any government employee, postal worker, customs

inspector, health inspector or any representative who does not assist the investor in a fast and courteous manner with the problem presented the worker. 

The tags will expire annually. It is also required that the investor at the initial meeting with the worker advise the person or government employee assisting him that the investor is still in possession of a valid hunting tag for the current year.

It is believed that knowing the investor has a legal tag service to the public will be vastly improved in all sectors.

The tags will be transferable to other qualified investors and may be sold or traded. It is expected that a brisk business will developed in the local stock exchange in the secondary market. The certificates will be restricted to use by qualified foreign investors and can only be traded or sold among this group.

Foreign investors will be required to obtain a valid gun permit and purchase their weapon locally. This requirement will stimulate the sluggish local arms sale market and also be a "shot in the arm" to the medical profession doing the psychosocial exams for the gun permits. It is tenatively planned to let the doctors who run the parking lot-medical clincs who currently do the driver's liscense exams to do the mental exams for the gun permits as they can do an eye exam on the spot at the same time. 

The program will be fully operational by January 1st, 2004. Presidential candidate Oscar Arias indicated that he was studying the program with interest. The Ministry of Labor also believes eventually it will be able to downsize as less labor cases will be filed by disgruntle workers.

The president of the local American chamber of commerce indicated the members were ecstatic about the possibility of helping streamline government agencies and enhance service to the public while at the same time providing needed capital to the nation. 

* This is the pen name of a well-known member of the Costa Rican tourism community

Mr. President, invoke the Elmer Amendment!
This is an open letter to the president of the United States on behalf of the united, concerned, frustrated and broke investors of Costa Rica.

Dear George Bush:

As president of the United States, I insist you do something.

Here I was getting 3 percent a month interest, which is my right as an overseas U.S. citizen, and "Boom!" the local prosecutor shows up, kicked out my private banker and barricades the door.

Why he virtually forced him to flee the country.

Then the prosecutor threw his brother in jail, even though the brother didn’t know anything.

Our fourth story

For years we have gotten a great return on our money. Why else would we put up with a crummy third-world country?

It just is not right to have the local government 

mess up a really good deal. Now I have no idea what the guy was doing with the money.  Maybe it was something illegal. But, frankly, I don’t care. I just want my 3 percent.

Now I hear that there is something called the Elmer Amendment that requires the president of the United States to force foreign countries to negotiate with U.S. citizens who have lost lots of money because of what the local government has done.

I demand that you immediately send troops to Costa Rica to right the wrongs that have been done to us and our private banker, Luis Milanes. He is now in hiding for fear of what the authorities here might do.

Oh, by the way, my buddy got picked up by the Panamanian police two weeks ago trying to smuggle $20,000 in cash through the airport. You should do something about that, too.


An aggrieved U.S. citizen

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