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These stories were published Monday, Aug. 11, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 157
Jo Stuart
About us
Photo by John Lyman
Photo by Art Smiley
Two photographers repeat in Sports category
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judges were deadlocked on picking the Sports category winners in the A.M. Costa Rica photo contest.

So judges decided to split the $100 cash prize between two photographers. Because the judging was done blind, editors were suprised to find out that each of the two winners also took honors in another category. See the entries HERE!

Art Smiley was the winner in the People category with his photo of the men plowing a field with oxen. That category winner was announced last week. This week he shares the prize with his photo of a man on horseback trying to thread the needle. Said Smiley: 

 "Small rings are suspended from a string. The men on horseback have a tapered stick, and they have to put the end of this stick through the suspended ring at full gallup." 

The photo was taken about mid-March alongside the church at Barrio Carmen de  Escazú, he said.

The other winner in this category is John Lyman. He took first place in the Spot News category with a pair of photos he took last Jan. 10 of surfer Ross Menking, who survived an attack by a seven-foot bull shark off Playa Marbella. That award was announced July 21.

This week he shares the prize with a classic photo of one of Costa Rica’s most popular sports. In the photo, surfer Jerry Hersh enjoys a tropical afternoon at his favorite beach at Playa Tamarindo. The photo was 
shot Dec. 24.

Four of the five photo categories have been announced. The remaining category, Wildlife, has been judged and the winner will be announced in a few days.

Judges are Frank Scott, a Costa Rica resident and professional photographer known for his photo tours of the country. 

Sarah Hogan is a writer, photographer and former magazine editor who lives in Wyoming. The chief judge is Saray Ramírez Vindas, the principal photographer and part owner of A.M. Costa Rica.

Check out our Sports photos HERE!
Scenic photos HERE! 
and People pixs HERE!
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Go-ahead given on San José-Caldera highway deal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Contraloría General has given its go-ahead to the San José-Caldera highway project, an estimated $126 million job.

The road will be built under an agreement with Concesiones Viales S. A. (CIVISA S.A.), a Costa Rican company formed for this purpose by partners from here, Canada and Argentina. The private company will build the road and be reimbursed by 25 years of tolls.

The new highway, which will be two lanes with a third lane on some hills, will cut down the travel time from the capital to the Pacific Coast to about an hour and 15 minutes, a saving in time of at least 40 percent.

Construction will be some 38.8 kms. (about 24 miles) from Ciudad Colón to Orotina. A section of some 23.8 kms. (14.8 miles) from Orotina to Caldera already exists and will be refurbished, according to the contract.

The highway will use the existing  autopista Próspero Fernández from Parque La Sabana to Ciudad Colón, some 14.2 kms. (8.8 miles) that now is a two- or four-lane highway. The contract calls for some modification and amplifications of the existing autopista.

The project is supposed to be done sometime in 2006.

The unfinished highway already has had bridges installed and the roadway is rough graded. Some sections require expropriation by the government to obtain the full right-of-way. The Contraloría, the country’s financial watchdog, urged the government to do that work in the shortest time possible.

The contract includes design, planning, financing, construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance according to a release from the Contraloría Friday.

The project that has been in the works since the 1970s is a major development effort for Costa Rica. The Pacific coast will be connected without the need to travel the roadway once carved out by oxcarts to haul coffee beans to Puntarenas. The connection will make access easier to the coast highway and such towns as Jacó, Quepos and Dominical.

Plans include the addition of another lane to make the new highway a full four-lanes. 

The company plans to install about seven to 10 toll plazas along the route, and the toll for the full trip from San José to the coast will cost upwards of $2, said officials. 

Check out our humor contest HERE!

Five U.S. citizens face
immigration probe

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Five U.S. citizens were among the 135 foreigners picked up in a rolling immigration operation in Pococí, Río Frío, Guácimo and other areas nearby over the weekend. 

Marco Badilla, director general of Migración y Extranjería, said that each of the detained individuals will be checked to determine their immigration status.

The detentions were carried out with the help of the Fuerza Pública, the Policía Especial de Migración, the Judicial Investigating Organization and the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, said officers.

A release from the immigration officials said that the officers were using a new mobile technique that allowed them to cover more area in a short period.

Some 107 Nicaraguans were among those detained, as were 10 Colombians, two Chinese and citizens form six other Latin countries.

Dog-biting case
brings man to trial

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Manuel Antonio man goes on trial Tuesday for letting his dog munch on a man delivering bills.

The man whose last name is Cordero faces the Tribunal de Juicio de Aguirre y Parrita under a law that went into force last November that requires owners to keep their dogs fenced in and to post a warning sign if the animal is vicious.

A judicial summary of the case said that the man kept the dog, a boxer, in his house but did not prevent the animal from entering the public right-of-way. He also did not post a sign about the dog’s temperament, said a judicial spokesman.

The victim, who has the last name of Obando, is an employee of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the telephone and telecommunications company. He entered the property to deliver a bill, was attacked by the dog that bit him multiple times, and had to be hospitalized, the spokesman said.

Two men detained
after police chase

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men on a motorcycle fired shots outside a bar in Pavas Centro about 1 a.m. Saturday, and police gave chase. Officers were able to trap two suspects on a motorcycle in Los Anonos just east of Escazú after a number of police units joined the search.

Police said they arrested a man with the last names of Peña Peña and a 17-year-old. Police also got a .38-caliber pistol with three empty cartridges.

Lots of guaro found
at illegal still site

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers followed clues to an illegal liquor operation for 22 days before they found the still and confiscated 400 liters of guaro in Pedro de Santa Barbara de Heredia.

Police said the still was in the middle of a coffee plantation, but no one was there. Such illegal liquor is called chirrite in Costa Rica.

The alcohol was about 424 quarts in U.S. measure and was destroyed, said police.

Transit officer killed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A transit policeman died in a two-vehicle accident Friday on the coast highway near La Yunta in Barranca. Dead is Edwin Quirós Ramírez. Three persons in the other vehicle, believed to be tourists, were injured and hospitalized.

Explosive was grenade

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional reports that a device that exploded Aug. 4 in a water pipe in Matina-Bataán was a Soviet-manufactured military grenade. The explosion injured two workers for the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the water company who were doing work there.

Gregory Hines dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The actor and dancer Gregory Hines has died of cancer at age 57. His publicist said the actor succumbed to the illness Saturday in Los Angeles. Gregory Hines was a star on the Broadway stage, in movies and on television. 

He was known as the greatest tap dancer of his  generation, and millions enjoyed his talents  through films like Francis Ford Coppola's "The  Cotton Club" and "White Nights" in which he  costarred with ballet great Mikhail Baryshnikov. 

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Police cracking down on armed-robbery suspects
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers arrested 23 suspected armed robbers in a handful of cases reported over the weekend. The suspects included a band of three women and two men.

Six suspects were caught in Goicoechea early Saturday. The police action began when officers chased a motorcycle carrying two men suspected of sticking up individuals in El Alto de Guadalupe and Moravia. Officers chased the mountain bike until they lost it in Uruca.

However, a short time later a man tried to pick up an abandoned motorbike at the Gasolinera Total in Moravia, and police arrested him.  The owner of the motorbike recognized the man, identified by the last name of Solórzano as one of the three men who tried to stick him up and take his bike. That identification led to the arrest of two more persons when they showed up at the police station in Calle Blancos in an attempt to get Solórzano. One was a 17-year-old.

A few minutes later, police got a tip that three men with guns were waiting outside a Guadalupe pool hall to steal a vehicle from yet another man. They arrested the trio, including a man who was a brother of one of the men detained in the earlier case. Also arrested were two minors, 16 and 17, said police.

Costa Rica has been plagued with armed vehicle robberies. Officials said last week that more than 700 such cases have been reported during the first seven months of the year.

Confiscated in Guadalupe were three firearms, two .38-caliber revolvers and a .22 caliber handgun.

Friday in Tibás, officers arrested the three women and two men on the allegation that they had stuck up a man at the Mas x Menos supermarket in Sabanilla about 8 p.m. They were grabbed in San Pedro.

Police identified them by the last names and ages. The three women are named León Mata, 18, Maldonado Maldonado, 19, and Gutiérrez Arrieta, 22. The men’s names and their ages are Alvarez López, 33, and Herrero Arancilla, 22, said police.

In the vehicle occupied by the five police said they found other wallets, handbags and a gun. 

Meanwhile, in Hatillo, a southwestern suburb of San José, Fuerza Pública officers listed three cases in which they arrested 12 suspected robbers over the last 10 days and confiscated five handguns and knives.

Robbery motive in death

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police have arrested a Pavas man as the presumed killer of a 20-year-old who died near his home Thursday night. Police suspect that the man who died was the victim of a robbery.

Dead is Esteban Trejos Guevara. Arrested is a man with the last name of Calderón Salas, who was caught nearby, said police. The killing happened in the Metrópolis 2 section.

Lottery vendor is victim

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men with guns stuck up a lottery vendor named Miguel Artavia Morales, 55, while he was riding on a bus about 6 p.m. Saturday and fled with 40 lottery tickets and some 500,000 colons (about $1,250) in cash, said police. The stickup happened on a López Mateos bus that was traveling in San Sebastian in south San José.

Youth dies in Pavas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

José Ángel Arias Lara, 19, died about 11 p.m. Friday in Villa Esperanza, Pavas, from two knife wounds in the chest, said Fuerza Pública officers. The assault happened in the public right-of way.

Heredia burglary thwarted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two 17-year-olds were among four persons arrested in Heredia Centro when police broke up what appeared to be a burglary of the El Boulevar restaurant. The four noticed police nearby early Friday and dropped a television set and some tires in the street and tried unsuccessfully to flee, police said. Also arrested were two adults with the names Vargas Arguedas and  Navidad Vigil.

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.

Being an immigrant is something to be blue about
Special to A.M. Costa Rica*

Costa Rican officials shocked international diplomats Friday with a request for funds so that anti-personnel mines could be placed along the country’s northern border with Nicaragua.

The Organization of American States just congratulated Costa Rica for removing the mines that had been placed in the northern zone during the Nicaraguan civil war. And officials from that Washington-based organization said they were upset by the request for money.

However, in keeping with Costa Rica’s peaceful tradition, the anti-personnel  mines that will be used do not contain lethal explosive charges.  Instead, when triggered, the devices will emit a powerful forced air spray of blue paint.

"That way, anybody who shows up in San José looking like a Smurf we will know is illegal," said one official using the Spanish word for the blue television creatures: esmurf.

"Until now," he said the only way we could identify a Nicaraguan is that they will accept lousy jobs and work harder for less money."

The official also said that the country would soon request a loan from the International Bank of First-World Suckers for vast quantities of red ink that would be used in printing the nation’s budget.

"Heck, if they buy ICE bonds, they give money for anything," the official said. The senior governmental officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because, like most officials, he did not want to be accountable for anything.

However, other government employees said the color-keying for identification purposes might catch on. North American tourists could be dyed green at Juan Santamaría Airport to reflect their most favorable contribution to the economy.

Licensed cab drivers can be dyed red just like their vehicles to differentiate them from their illegal pirate competition. 

One problem is that most university students already have adopted that color to reflect their love of socialism and other unworkable political theories until they really have to get a job.

* From the mind of a wacky reader.


Internet being used as tool against police school
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Internet is heating up as opponents in Costa Rica and elsewhere of the proposed international law enforcement academy rally their forces.

One group announced the creation of a new Web page on the topic over the weekend.  The group also announced a march from the Plaza de la Cultura downtown to the Asamblea Nacional Aug. 19. The page contains a photo of a statue of hero Juan Santamaría, who was instrumental in the defeat of North American filibuster William Walker at the Battle of Rivas in 1856.

The agreement to base the police training facility here has been signed by representatives of both Costa Rica and the United States. But legislative approval is needed here.

U.S. and Costa Rican officials said the school will simply offer higher level training to police officers in the hemisphere. But  Internet opponents, including a man identified as Juan Kadejos here, said that the school would be an academy to train repressors and torturers of all of Latin America.

A U.S.-based organization, School of Americas Watch, also is agitating against the school, which it says has a good chance of being approved.

The School of the Americas was the infamous U.S. 

Army training facility that many Latin military leaders attended during the Cold War period.

Dale Johnson of School of the Americas Watch urged U.S. citizens to agitate against the school. "It will be an important victory in curtailing U.S. imperial ambition to build up repressive apparatuses if this can be stopped in Costa Rica," he said in an e-mail message.

In a thoughtful essay, Johnson identified the real problem many Costa Ricans and others have with the proposal: 

"The International Law Enforcement Academy that the United States wants Costa Rica to host has stated goals that are presented as worthy and unobjectionable.  In programs such as the ILEA, stated goals may conceal purposes that are far from benign."

The Partido Acción Ciudadana has announced its opposition to the project. Some party deputies, such as Epsy Campbell are unhappy that the United States will not submit its troops to judgment of the International Court of Human Rights.

The battle over the law enforcement academy is seen as a preliminary to the likely legislative battle over a proposed free trade treaty with the United States.

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