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These articles were published Thursday, Aug. 15, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 161
Jo Stuart
About us
Photo courtesy of Centro Cientifico Tropical
Rare birds
You won’t see these in your backyard. This is a pair of the mythical quetzals. But you can watch them be born on your computer. See story
Pacheco announces ambitious antipoverty plan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco said he will set up a new umbrella agency Wednesday to oversee his effort to reduce poverty in Costa Rica by 4 percent.

Reducing poverty is one of his main priorities as president, and he joined the fight on poverty with his campaign against corruption. He said "corruption is the mother of all the poverty."

The president released the specifics of his anti-poverty plan that will be directed by a new "Social Authority" that will have legal status.

The 17-member Social Council drew up details of the anti-poverty plan. The council includes ministers and heads of independent agencies. They drew up a complex, seven-point plan touching on nearly every aspect of Costa Rican social life, from poverty standards like housing and good water to culture, training and scholarships.

The plan has six main areas:

• education and personal development;

• youth, children and adolescence;

• economic growth and the quality of life;

• culture and development;

• healthy life; and

• work and employment.

Pacheco said he rejected the idea that Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social is the only agency that can fight poverty. He said other ministries and independent agencies have their role, too.

In addition to linking his anti-corruption goals to the poverty fight, Pacheco also said that the proposed fiscal plan now being considered in the Assemblea Nacional is a key element. The 

fiscal plan would generate a lot more money for the financially strapped government.

The president’s third general strategy against poverty is to bring the issue into the spotlight, he said.

"We know that the money that we have won’t reach, but with the efficient use that we give these resources, we are going to amplify the coverage and the impact of the plan," said the president. 

Pacheco promised to depoliticize the allocations of housing bonds, an issue that has been in the news lately. He also said heads of households would be trained and incentives would be created for small- and medium-size enterprises.

The plan sets short-term, medium-term and long-term goals for each of the social institutions and ministries involved in the poverty fight.

Pacheco said that the Social Authority would guarantee that all of the agencies involved in the campaign comply with the objectives of the plan. "With the Social Authority there will be an entity that fixes priorities and determines which is the best route to reach the objectives. . . ," said Pacheco. The makeup of this new agency was not made clear but action by the Asemblea Nacional would be required.

Among other elements of the plan Pacheco said that two centers would be created, one to help street children and the other to help sexually exploited children.

The plan also seeks to provide better living conditions for families now in makeshift temporary houses, particularly those who have been involved in invading land that is not their own.

Adequate water also is part of the plan’s promise. The plan is detailed, and a simple outline took up nearly seven pages with single-spaced typing.

After a year, all we can say is 'THANKS!'
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

We were thrilled by the response from readers all over the world after we asked for birthday greetings. Don’t forget to check out our birthday wishes.

The newspaper’s first birthday is a happy time for us. But it also is a time to consider where we have been and where we are going.

We started the newspaper only a few weeks before terrorists attacked New York City and Washington. We believe those attacks quickly showed we were correct when we said that Costa Rica needs an English-language daily newspaper to help foster a sense of community among the foreign residents here. 

Since then we have imperfectly filled our mandate by providing professionally reported news of interest to our readers. We also discovered that we were correct when we said that a great deal of important news was not being provided. So did our meteoric growth in readership.

Where would you have heard of Roger Crouse, the Canadian from Playas del Coco in jail for a year for basically exercising his right to self defense?

Where would you read of the continuing threats to tourists as they walk through downtown San José.

Where would you read Jo Stuart each week as she finds hidden relationships between seemingly unrelated situations?

Where would you find our unique daily report of Latin American news.

Check out our birthday wishes from readers

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Page Two

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As Costa Rica continues to experience difficult 
economic times, we promise to work harder. 
We also promise to continue providing original reporting. A.M. Costa Rica news stories are not lifted out of the Spanish-language press. We have a lot of respect for San José newspeople, but not so much that we would publish their news stories. And we believe that taking stories without permission from another source is stealing.

As it turns out, we work shoulder-to-shoulder each day with the Spanish-language reporters, and we consider them our competition. There is no reason that English speakers here should not have a news outlet as accurate and as up-to-date as La Nación or Teletica.

A.M. Costa Rica also is a training ground for English-speaking  university graduates who wish to learn Latin culture and international journalism. In 10 years we hope international reporting from Latin America will have a large contingent of our alumni.

In addition to me, the owners of A.M. Costa Rica are Sharon Brodell, my wife, and Saray Ramírez Vindas, our Costa Rican associate and friend. We appreciate your support over the last year. We promise to do better. And we are always open to your suggestions.

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Photo by Centro Cientifico Tropical
Checking out the nesting box

Quetzals on the Web:
You can watch eggs

By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The miracle of birth can be even more outstanding when the critter being born is a magical and mystical quetzal.

Thanks to the Internet and miniature camera technology, such an event is just a click away. 

The quetzal is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world and has a great cultural value for indigenous peoples, particularly in México and Guatemala, according to Wagner López, a forestry engineer for Centro Cientifico Tropical.

There were about 200 quetzals in Costa Rica in the 1970’s when the U.S. ornithologist Alexander F. Skutch made a census for the book he cowrote: 
"A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica." This book is considered the bible of birds. Skutch, now 98, is still associated with the center.

The cloud forest in which the birds live is being destroyed daily in Costa Rica. So the number now could be less.

The birds’ presence is a significant success for Costa Rica because this species of outstanding bird is mostly in myth in other countries of Central America, said López.  It is one of some 850 species found here, he noted.

The male quetzal is the better looking one because it has a long, flowing iridescent tail that is about 28 cms. (seven inches) long. The body and tail together are 64 cms. (about 25 to 26 inches) in the adult male.

Centro Cientifica works to protect the bird and conserve the habitat. The administrative offices are in San Pedro de Montes de Oca, but the research center is in Monte Verde. The preservation of the cloud forest is an important goal. That habitat is in danger of extinction from agriculture and lumbering, said López.

And that is where the Internet mini-cameras are located in artificial nests constructed by the center. 

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Sign specifies goals

Photo by Centro Cientifico Tropical
Female keeps an eye on her territory

Photo by Centro Cientifico Tropical
The nest is within

Inside these nests, the infrared eye of the camera records the comings and goings of mother and father  quetzals and the progress of their eggs. Here’s the link:


The Web camera site gets up to 1,000 visitors a day. The birds nest twice a year, and the light blue eggs are incubated by both the mother and father for 19 to 21 days. All this is visible to the camera that gazes down on the nest.

Visitors also can watch as the tiny birds grow inside the nest until their first flights after three weeks.  Plus they can watch the interaction between the chicks and between the chicks and adult birds.

The center is a recognized non-profit institution, and it accepted donations to get the virtual nesting project on the Internet. A number of donations, including one just this week for $500, keep the project alive. 

The nesting project also is a strong Internet attraction for the country, and the project has caused people to visit Monte Verde, the isolated mountain town founded by Quakers from the United States more than 50 years ago.

In addition to the quetzals, the Tropical Science Center homepage contained information about the flora and fauna of the cloud forests of Monte Verde and the six species of hummingbirds and other birds that inhabit it.  In addition the page has a section on amphibians, on insects and on large animals such as jaguar, mountain lion and several other cat species not found outside of the tropics.

The page also has a "guess the insect’ test that is updated every Monday.

British prepare for Queen's Jubilee Party Saturday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Golden Jubilee Charity Garden Party will honor British Queen Elizabeth II Saturday but it also will raise money for disadvantaged Costa Rican children. It’s turning out to be the social event of the month. You do not have to be British to go.

The queen is celebrating 50 years on the throne, and the British Embassy and local British citizens here in Costa Rica will join in the festivities beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at the residence of the British ambassador.

The ambassador is Georgina Butler who said that the enthusiasm of the British community comes from "our admiration for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her dedication, service and style throughout the 50 years of her reign are an  inspiration to us all and we are immensely proud to join together to salute her and her achievements on this special occasion."

The residence is in Escazú on the main road from Escazú to Santa Ana, just west of the Hotel San Gildar. The Costa Rican address is: de la AyA 300 mts oeste y 75 mts norte.

The beneficiaries of the event will be the Salvation Army and the Costa Rican Cruz Roja, according to the ambassador.

For the musical, the program includes a piper, Morris dancers, and the Country Day School recorder group. There is a play and games and activities. British classic cars will be on display, too.

The program also suggests that a small pub will be erected for the event. Tea will be served on the terrace.

A number of merchants have contributed goodies. The event is expected to run until about 2 p.m.

Tickets can be bought in advance at the British Embassy in Edificio Colón on Paseo Colón (258-2025) or at the Baglemens' stores in Escazú and San Pedro as well as at the door on Saturday, according to a spokesman, Entrance is ¢2,000 ($5.50) for those 12 years and older, ¢1,000 for children 5-12 years and free for children 5 and under.

Raffle tickets also will be sold to raise even more money for the Salvation Army and the Cruz Roja.

Harris loses round
in Guatemalan trial

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Casa Alianza reports that the 12th Criminal Court of Guatemala has refused, once again, to rule that anyone other than journalists in Guatemala have freedom of expression and ordered that the trial for defamation against the group’s regional director continue this Friday.

On the wrong side of the ruling is  Bruce Harris, Casa Alianza's director who spoke out about the role of lawyers and other individuals involved in illegal adoptions in a press conference with the attorney general of Guatemala in 1997. 

As a result of the information presented by the Guatemalan Attorney General and Casa Alianza, a growing number of countries are now requiring obligatory DNA testing of Guatemalan babies and their biological mothers to assure that the baby is being given up by the real mother said Casa Alianza.

More than 10 countries, including Canada, Ireland, Spain and Holland, have now banned adoptions from Guatemala as a result of the illegalities and lack of guarantees for the child being placed in adoption, the organization said. Guatemala now sends more babies per capita in international adoptions than any other country in the world, it added.

Casa Alianza gave this summary:

Susana Luarca, former wife of the president of the Guatemalan Supreme Court, accused Harris of defamation after his press conference with Attorney General Asisclo Valladares. Mrs. Luarca is an outspoken Guatemalan lawyer who has processed many adoptions. She did not file charges against the attorney general. 

The Guatemalan courts have kept the case in a criminal court which could deal out a five-year jail term for Harris. The court could have passed the case to a Printers Tribunal as Harris' lawyers argue is required by Article 35 of the Guatemalan Constitution which deals with freedom of expression issues. A Printers Tribunal can give a maximum sentence of 6 month's house arrest.

"This case is about the right of people to speak openly and without fear about social injustice in Guatemala and also for people's rights to receive information about what is happening," said Harris."

"If we had not spoken out about illegal adoptions in the Attorney General's press conference, there would be no DNA testing and the anomalies in hundreds of adoptions would have continued. This is the power of freedom of speech and this is why it must be protected at all costs".

Harris will travel to Guatemala Thursday for the trial, which is open to the public, the Casa Alianza statement said.

Ex-president ducks
massacre queries

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MEXICO CITY, México — Former Mexican President Luis Echeverria has refused to answer questions regarding a 30-year-old student massacre, saying he will invoke his constitutional right not to testify about the incident. 

Echeverria, who was recently hospitalized for respiratory infection, was to have answered by Tuesday more than 180 written questions regarding the student massacre. 

The questionnaire was issued on the orders of special prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo. The probe is part of President Vicente Fox's quest to uncover rights abuses and corruption during the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. 

Carillo has already questioned Mexico City's 80-year-old former mayor, Alfonso Martinez, who is accused of ordering the massacre of about 30 student protesters in 1971. Martinez denies the charge. 

Echeverria, who was previously questioned regarding the massacre, has said his conscience was clear about his involvement in the incident. 

Dead woman ID’d

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A young woman who died after a party on a yacht in the Los Sueños marina over the weekend has been identified as Ivelca Concepción Chavarría Moncada. 

She worked in a Jacó nightspot and went with three coworkers to the party Sunday night, according to police. She is a Nicaraguan citizen, police said.

They identified the owner of the yacht as Joseph Christopher Azzara, a U.S. citizen who has residency in Costa Rica.

Investigators are not certain why the girl died. They only know that she lapsed into unconsciousness during the party and died later at a Puntarenas hospital. Toxcicology tests are pending.

Violence erupts
again in Caracas

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — Disturbances broke out on the streets here late Wednesday after the Venezuelan supreme court voted 11-8 to reject a bid from the government to put four senior military officers on trial for their role in April's frustrated coup attempt against President Hugo Chavez. 

A crowd of several hundred Chavez supporters had gathered in the vicinity of the courthouse, on the edge of downtown Caracas, to protest against the anticipated decision. Pro-Chavez activist Lina Ron declared that if the decision favoured the officers, the demonstrators would occupy the court, "physically if necessary."

As the decision became known, the demonstrators broke through a cordon of 120 police and threw bottles and rocks at a national guard riot squad. They were repelled with tear gas and birdshot. As clashes continued, a news cameraman for Venezuela's RCTV channel was shot in the leg, allegedly by pro-government demonstrators.

The court's decision is seen as a key turning point in the opposition campaign to oust the leftwing president.

Congressman Nicolas Maduro, of the ruling MVR party, said it marked the beginning of a second coup — this time by institutional means. And labour leader Carlos Ortega, a prominent opposition figure, said this week would be a crucial one in the removal or consolidation of the president.
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

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Tel: (506) 253-9655   Fax: (506) 280-4576 
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Email: ulimar@costarica.net

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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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