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These stories were published Friday, Aug. 2, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 152
Jo Stuart
About us
Pilgrims fill
area highways

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A tractor-trailer slowly moved east on Avenida 2 about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Following closely were about 300 teens from a youth group all on their way to Cartago and the basilica there.

This was the most visible display of pilgrims, although roads and highways to the town some 23 kms (14 miles) east of San José have been populated with pedestrians for nearly a week.

The tractor-trailers was the platform from which continual, recorded prayer issued forth to encourage the young men and women. The flatbed also contained religious statutes.

One was a replicate of La Virgen de Los Angeles, the statue that dominates the main altar of the Cartago basilica. 

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Increase OK'd for taxi fares and gasoline prices
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Taxi fares and gasoline are going up. That was the announcement Thursday by Herman Hess, regulator general of the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos. This is the agency that fixes prices of public services in Costa Rica.

And it appears that indirect costs at Juan Santamaría Airport will increase, too.

The basic city taxi fare of 210 colons for the first kilometer will go to 220 colons sometime next week. Each additional kilometer and waiting time also will increase about 9.85 percent. Additional kilometers outside of San José will be 130 colons, some 5 colons less than in the metropolitan area.

Some bus rates also were increased anywhere from 0 to 43 percent, based on fuel coasts and the investments made by the bus company owners. 

Regular gasoline was 204.5 colons per liter with tax. The new price will be 211.1. Super was 213.3, and the new per liter price is 220.4. The figures do not coincide the authority’s statement that gasoline increased an average of 2.99 percent. That’s because each liter carries about 113 percent tax, and the tax increases as the base price (99.22 colons per liter for regular) increases.

Airline companies will have to pay a whopping 1,179 percent increase per 1,000 kilograms of weight for each landing to cover the construction and improvements at the international airport. That increase, from 14 U.S. cents per 1,000 kilograms to $1.79 cents, certainly will find its way into ticket prices. however, the actual impact is hard to compute because a number of other tariffs decreased 30 percent at the airport.

Alterra Partners Costa Rica S.A. has a contract with the government to do millions of dollars in improvements there.

The prices will go into effect after the decision by the board of directors of the authority is published in the official newspaper, La Gaceta. That may be a week from today, said an aide.

Increases in prices of basic services is a fact of life in Costa Rica where the colon devalues against the dollar a fraction each day. 

Herman Hess
. . . announces increases
The increases

Gasoline (per liter)


Now:  ¢213.30

Will be:  ¢220,40 


Now:  ¢204.50

Will be:  ¢211.10


1st km.

Now:  ¢210

Will be:  ¢220

A day of make-believe and a day of reality
Sunday was an enchanted day of make-believe. The Little Theater Group of Costa Rica had a fundraiser that consisted of a play followed by a dinner. The play, "Art," by Yasmina Reza, was originally written for three men but director Tom Humes did a masterful job of making it custom-made for women — especially for Ann Antkiw, Lisa DeFuso and Susan Liang talented members of LTG. 

Their characters were alternatingly hilarious, touching and infuriating (all of which they were supposed to be). It was no problem to make believe one was sitting in a Broadway theater watching a Broadway play.

Afterwards, we walked next door to the elegant home of Stefani and Kevin Glass, co-presidents of Little Theater. They had transformed their home into an elegant restaurant with service the equivalent of any in a Paris restaurant — and certainly friendlier. (All of the servers were members of Little Theater and spoke perfect English). 

Chef Mike Forbes gave us a choice of roast beef or fresh salmon. Ummm. I had a great time with friends Mavis and Bill. Better than New York, better than Paris: All of this for the price of $30. That is really make-believe!

The next day, Monday, I came back down to earth at a luncheon where there was a panel discussion on the U.S.A. PATRIOT ACT, a new law in the United States to combat terrorism. In the handout was a quote:

"It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a Fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a Communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of ther leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.

"It works the same in any country."

Was this a warning or a primer? Was it meant to be cautionary or a how-to? It depends upon when it was said and by whom. After the 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

luncheon, I was at the doctors in Clinica  Biblica. I had a longer wait than usual and began looking around for something to read besides the book I had (Ford Maddox Ford’s "Parade's End") which required more concentration than I was prepared to give it. I picked up a little brochure entitled "Torres de Terror." 

Essentially this pamphlet said that the the attack on the Twin Towers was punishment for the godlessness that the United States has fallen into. Because over the past 40 years God has been eliminated from public life and governmental offices, He has removed his protection. The pamphlet said this in several ways, quoting from the Bible. 

I could not help but wonder about the country of Israel. God has been everpresent to both the Palestinians and the Israelis, but he doesn’t seem to be protecting them from violence and attacks. And these God-fearing, God-protected people are attacking each other! 

Looking on the back of the pamphlet, I saw that it was a translation from English, and had been printed by Buencas Nuevas c/o Grace & Truth, in Danville, Illinois.

Oh, yes, that quote I mentioned earlier was a statement made by Hermann Goering, Hitler deputy.

I am not sure what the connection is between these three occurrences, but I do know that the way things are going these days, and life being what it is, I’ll take days of make-believe whenever I can. 

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Record unemployment predicted for Latin America
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The economy of Latin America and the Caribbean is likely to fall 0.8 percent in 2002, with unemployment expected to reach more than 9 percent, a record high, says the United Nations economic body for the region.

In a Thursday announcement, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said the recession that began in the region in 2001 worsened during the first quarter of 2002, with the region's gross domestic product  falling more than 3 percent during this period. The economic crisis in Argentina largely explains the decline in output, the commision said.

The agency made the announcement in a new report, titled "Current Conditions and Outlook: Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2001-2002."

The commission said that the chances for a recovery in growth depend on an economic turnaround in the United States and Europe. If this occurs, regional growth could reach from 2.5 percent to three percent in 2003, it said.

The agency said that if Argentina's economic figures are excluded, the region's GDP would rise slightly, by just over 1 percent. Inflation remains low in the region, it said.

In "mainland" Latin America, there are two groups of countries in terms of growth, according to the report. Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and 

Venezuela form the first group, which will probably see a gross national product decline in 2002. In Argentina, the recession that began in 1999 has grown worse and activity is expected to decline about 13.5 percent.

The second group consists of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, which is expected to experience modest growth rates from 0 percent to 3 percent. In Brazil, gross domestic product fell a little less than 1 percent during the first quarter. In Chile, projected growth of 2.5 percent should reflect weak domestic demand and decline in investment, combined with the effect of conditions abroad. In Mexico, where gross domestic product fell 2 percent during the first quarter, a turnaround is expected, driven by exports to the United States, the commission said.

Peru is expected to perform well in 2002, with an anticipated growth rate of 3 percent. Growth in Colombia is expected to reach about 1 percent. In Ecuador, growth is expected to reach 2.5 percent, after it reached almost 5.6 percent in 2001. In Bolivia, growth should reach 1.5 percent, the commission predicted.

The agency said that in Central America, growth remains relatively low. The situation of the island countries of the Caribbean varies widely, although the Dominican Republic grew 4.3 percent during the first quarter. In Cuba, the economy will practically stagnate, while Haiti remains "worrisome," because of the political crisis there. Average growth for the Caribbean Community (Caricom) is expected to reach 1 percent.

Costa Rica a finalist for U.N. environmental prize
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Costa Rican conservation project has been chosen as a finalist for a new environmental prize that will be presented at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa from Aug. 24 to Sept. 4.

The project, Talamanca Initiative, involves the establishment of a national wildlife refuge in Costa Rica and development of Central America's only permanent raptor migration monitoring program, a World Summiut announcement said.

Twenty-seven conservation projects around the 
world, including more than 10 in Latin America, 

have been chosen as finalists. Projects in Latin America include World Heritage sites in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras. World Heritage sites, which are supported by the United Nations, involve some of the world's most beautiful and fragile natural environments.

Other Latin American projects nominated for the prize are in Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru.

Finalists for the prize were chosen from among 420 nominations from 77 countries. The eight-person jury includes Nobel Peace Prize laureates Oscar Arias Sanchez, a  from Costa Rica, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala.

Growth in A.M. daily readership continues strong
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica had another record month in July. The electronic newspaper recieved 288,409 "hits’ from readers, according to an independent Web site statistical program maintained by the firm that rents Internet server space to the company.

By contrast, "hits" in September, the daily newspaper’s first full month of operation were 44,617.

The last record month was May when 257,511 hits were registered. But hits declined slightly to 191,216 in June.

Another important readership statistic is "sessions," the number of unique users who visited a web site each day. In July the newspaper registered 24,436 sessions. These are people who visit the Web site and spend time reading the material and in reading more than one page.

Unlike print newspaper circulation statistics, electronic newspapers only register readers when they actually scan the newspaper. Print newspaper circulation has been decreasing dramatically in the United States even since the introduction of commercial television. Plus print newspapers have a serious problem in that some persons subscribe to the newspaper as a socially acceptable act but never actually read it.

Advertisers who rely on print newspaper circulation figures thereby are misled and wonder why their advertising lacks effectiveness.

In Costa Rica, print daily newspaper circulation actually increased one half a percent during the last several years, according to the World Association of Newspapers. That probably is due to

Graphic shows readership growth

a more mature population with more stake in the community and slightly more disposable income.

Some Internet newspapers try to hike their hit totals by putting their news and sports behind several electronic pages. A reader signs on to the Web site and has to click through three or four pages to reach the page he or she wants. Each click is registered as a hit. A.M. Costa Rica tries to provide most of the day’s news in two or more readily available pages.

The newspaper is visited by readers from about 80 countries each month. About 25 percent of the readers are from Costa Rica and use an Internet account that can be traced electronically to Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the government Internet monopoly. About 50 percent of the readers are from the United States or Canada. The remainder are from elsewhere or use an Internet account that may be either from Costa Rica or elsewhere, such as Hotmail or Yahoo.

The newspapers statistics are posted on the Web site here.

Aftershocks felt
from earthquake

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

The earthquake felt by San José residents Wednesday evening set off a series of five aftershocks in Panama through Thursday afternoon. All of them occurred 5 to 20 miles from the original’s epicenter near David, Panama.

Such aftershocks normally follow an earthquake of that magnitude. The predecessors were not as severe as the original 6.5-magnitude quake which claimed the lives of four Panamanians. They had magnitudes ranging from 4.6 to 5.3. 

Bush gets Fast Track
for trade negotiating

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate gave final congressional approval Thursday to an omnibus trade package that will strengthen President George Bush's authority to negotiate and conclude international trade deals.

Bush issued a statement calling the vote a "major victory" that will strengthen his efforts to pursue freer markets worldwide. The 64-34 Senate vote followed a narrow 215-212 vote in the House of Representatives on a compromise measure that includes a five-year renewal of trade promotion authority for the president and of the Generalized System of Preferences that provides lower tariffs for certain goods from developing countries.

It also renews and expands the Andean Trade Preferences Act, a tariff relief program designed to support the economies of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru as they pursue their campaigns against illegal drugs. The act expired at the end of 2001, but the new bill provides benefits retroactively to December and expands the Andean countries' low-tariff benefits to products such as apparel made of U.S. fabric dyed and finished in the United States.

The bill also includes tariff relief for textile operations in parts of Africa, the Caribbean and South America that make products from U.S. dyed and finished fabric. Another provision eases tariffs on certain packaged (not canned) tuna imports from South America.

Trade Promotion Authority, formerly known as "fast-track authority," allows presidents to negotiate trade pacts that cannot be amended by Congress. Lawmakers instead must approve or reject the agreements on an expedited schedule. The last grant of fast track expired in 1994 and renewal efforts failed over labor and environmental disputes.

The Senate action sends the measure to Bush, who has identified trade expansion as a top priority and has argued vigorously that Trade Promotion Authority sends an important signal to the world of the U.S. determination to pursue freer trade at the bilateral, regional and multi-lateral levels.

"The Senate's bipartisan passage of Trade Promotion Authority completes an accomplishment that has eluded Congress since 1994 and is a major victory on behalf of working Americans," Bush said in a statement. "With this important tool, we will promote prosperity in the United States, progress in our hemisphere, and freedom throughout the world."

The measure authorizes a 10-year $12 billion expansion of Trade Adjustment Assistance programs to aid U.S. workers who lose their jobs to foreign competition. For the first time, those workers will also be eligible for a tax credit to pay for 65 percent of health insurance costs.

Guatemala planning
to end death penalty 

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — A bill has been sent to the Congress proposing to abolish the death penalty in that country, Ambassador Arturo Duarte said Wednesday, in his first address as Guatemala's permanent representative to the Organization of American States.

The ambassador said President Alfonso Portillo submitted the bill to Congress Monday.  "This initiative is an important step in fostering a culture of respect for individuals and respect for life, while reaffirming the commitment of the Guatemalan government to promoting respect for human rights."

He cited the 1996 Peace Accords and the end to "the era of exclusions," explaining that the effort to secure better living conditions for Guatemalans has enlisted new players, including women's groups and civil society groups.

Duarte stressed the government's renewed emphasis on electoral processes that uphold "the strictest legal standards" while remaining transparent, "to help Guatemalans strengthen their political institutions and to restore public confidence in democratic practices."

Fighting poverty is a fundamental priority, the ambassador added, noting the "special focus on those areas inhabited by the indigenous peoples who were dispossessed of their capital through centuries of exploitation."

Duarte said the government was also seeking to promote economic development by establishing an efficient taxation system so it can duly attend to its citizens.  He also cited efforts to target corruption, transnational crime, money laundering, drug trafficking and trafficking in persons and initiatives to ensure Guatemalans' security.

Bolivian elections
prompt U.S. warning

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The State Department is urging U.S. citizens considering travel through Bolivia to be careful because of possible violence ahead of next week's presidential inauguration. 

A public announcement issued Wednesday says violence could be directed at public, government and police buildings in Bolivia. U.S. officials also urged Americans to avoid public buildings until after the Aug. 6 inauguration.

Officials say that although there have been no reports of threats against Americans, their safety cannot be assured.

The warning comes three days before the Bolivian Congress is expected to elect the country's next president in a runoff vote. 

On Saturday, lawmakers will choose between former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozado and Evo Morales. Sanchez de Lozado has the backing of another former president, Jaime Paz Zamora, and is expected to win.

Cabinet official cites
hemispheric goals

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bush administration believes that the future of the United States is closely tied to the success of its Latin American neighbors, and "no one wants to see successful, growing economies in this region more than President George Bush," says Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

During a press conference Thursday, O'Neill reiterated the administration's central goal for the Americas as "building a hemisphere that lives in liberty, trades in freedom and grows in prosperity." He added that he hopes to build on a long history of U.S. cooperation with Latin America to advance this common agenda when he begins his trip to Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina Sunday.

O'Neill will meet with government officials in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina during his visit to discuss the economic directions and prospects of these nations. Despite the region's present economic difficulties, he expressed confidence that with the right policies, these nations will succeed.

The secretary will begin his trip in Brazil and said he was looking forward to meeting with President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Finance Minister Pedro Malan and Central Bank Governor Arminio Fraga. O'Neill applauded the Brazilian economic team for their "remarkable job of maintaining sound fiscal and monetary policies." 

He said that he continues to favor support for nations such as Brazil that take "appropriate policy steps to build sound, sustainable and growing economies" and indicated that the Bush administration will work through the International Monetary Fund to address economic instability as necessary.

O'Neill said that Uruguay also "deserves the support of the international financial community for its commitment to sound economic policy." In his meeting with President Jorge Battle and his economic team, O'Neill stated that he will reiterate his support for additional International Monetary Fund assistance for Uruguay as it struggles to rebuild its banking sector following major external shocks.

In Argentina, O'Neill will meet with President Eduardo Duhalde and Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna to discuss the nation's progress in implementing a sustainable economic program. 

Argentina's establishment of a sound and sustainable economic program has been a precondition for an International Monetary Fund program. O'Neill said that the Bush administration is "very, very anxious" for Argentina and the International Monetary Fund to come to an agreement that "will create the basis for stability and forward-looking economic growth."

He added that "the people of Argentina have suffered from the economic turmoil there and we are eager to see that nation return to a position of strength and stability."

Pope John Paul beatifies
two Indian martyrs

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope John Paul II left Mexico for Rome Thursday, completing a three-nation pilgrimage to the Americas. Before departing, the pontiff took part in a ceremony that continued a central theme of the papal visit: honoring Mexico's indigenous people. 

A mariachi band serenaded Pope John Paul II as he left the Papal Nunio in Mexico City early Thursday en route to the Basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe. There, he presided over a ceremony beatifying two Mexican Indians from the southern state of Oaxaca, who worked to stamp out non-Christian religious practices and who were killed by angry villagers in the year 1700.

The pope said Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Angeles remained faithful to the true and living God, and rejected all [pagan] idols. He added that they serve as an example of how indigenous people can maintain their cultures while serving as children of God. The Catholic Church regards the two men as martyrs, but their story is a reminder for some of the heavy-handed tactics the Church employed in centuries past to convert the native peoples of the Americas to Catholicism.

Even so, the beatification of the two Zapotec Indians, one of several steps towards sainthood, is viewed by many Mexicans as an honor for the country's indigenous people.

The ceremony was Pope John Paul's final official act before departing Mexico, completing his fifth visit to the overwhelmingly-Catholic country. From the moment he arrived Tuesday, millions of faithful followed his every move.

John Paul's pilgrimage to the Americas began last week in Canada and continued in Guatemala before his arrival in Mexico. Mexico appears to occupy a special place in the pontiff's heart. Before departing, he said he is leaving Mexico but will never be absent.
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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Tel: (506) 253-9655   Fax: (506) 280-4576 
Cel: (506) 386-9324
Email: ulimar@costarica.net

Real estate agents

Coldwell Banker Coastal Properties Escazu
Manager Nancy Bruno
289-5790 office
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Located in the new Plaza Itskazu, next to the Court Yard Marriott Escazu #203

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Professional Web site design and development in English, Spanish and Italian. Our services include: design and layout of Web site, search engine optimization and submission, Web  site hosting, e-commerce solutions (sell your products on your website by accepting credit cards online), registration of domain names and professional Internet consulting. We have complete 'one price' Web site packages that include design, marketing and hosting at low prices and includes a listing on our Web sites.  Visit www.istarmedia.net or e-mail us at webmaster@istarmedia.net or call at 399-9642

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