A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language news source
Monday through Friday

Check out
our classifieds
These stories were published Friday, Aug. 27, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 170
Jo Stuart
About us
Photo by José Pablo 
Ramírez Vindas
Photo by José Pablo 
Ramírez Vindas 
Photo by Saray 
Ramírez Vindas
The strike and the big march are reported BELOW!

Those little things that go wrong on Monday
Monday was not a good day for me. It was one of those days that gives Monday a bad name. 

I had a 1 p.m. appointment at the Clinica Duran. When I got to the gate of my apartment building, it looked like rain, and I had forgotten my umbrella. On the way back up to my third floor apartment I saw my neighbor. I wanted to give him something so I went into my apartment and got it, then went back downstairs. By now it was raining and I still didn’t have my umbrella. 

It is 37 steps to my apartment, and I hate those last 15. Back downstairs opening the gate, I saw my neighbor getting into a car. I yelled and waved hoping he might be going in my direction and could give me a ride to my bus stop. He didn’t hear me. Off the car went, down the hill in the direction of my bus stop. 

I opened my small umbrella (I had left my large one at a friend’s house). Every step I took exposed my pant leg and I was pretty wet by the time I saw the bus coming. It was coming from a different direction because strikers were marching on the regular route. The driver wouldn’t stop for me. 

For most appointments with doctors at the Caja you are supposed to arrive 20 minutes early so that a nurse can weigh you and take your blood pressure. I was late and went up to the receptionist’s window to see if I was even in the right section. After checking her computer, the receptionist informed me that my appointment had been changed to Friday with a different doctor. She looked very concerned that they had not told me. 

Actually, I did have a slip of paper indicating my Friday appointment. I had simply forgotten to throw the old one out. It had been nearly four months since this return appointment had been made and changed. 

As I was leaving I remembered that I had brought my notice for an ultrasonido because Olga, the person who did them, had failed to call me like she said she would. On her door was a sign in Spanish saying she was at lunch and would return. It was a few minutes past one. 

Had she gone to lunch at noon and would soon return or had she just left and wouldn’t be back for an hour? It really irks me when 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

people say they have gone out and would return "in an hour" without saying when they left. It was just before 2 when she returned and she was so sorry but she would have to put me on her waiting list again and would be sure to call me this time.

At least it was no longer raining. I needed some copies made, so I caught the bus to my favorite copiers. They were so sorry but their machine was out of order. 

At this point, had I been a smoker, or had recently quit, I would have been opening a pack of newly bought cigarettes. But after 14 years as a nonsmoker the very thought of a cigarette made me dizzy. I could go get a "stiff drink" or a cup of tea, but I didn’t feel like a character in a British mystery. 

I remembered when I was working in New York and had a bad morning at the office. At lunchtime I would find myself in Schraft’s about to dig into a double hot fudge sundae. I wouldn’t even remember going in. And when I was living in California and had a frustrating day, I would find myself in the dressing room of Marshall’s Department Store trying on clothes I would never think of buying. 

I was walking towards the center of town now, and happened to find myself in front of a casino. I’ll just go in and forget my bad day playing a bit of roulette, I thought. After an hour I had lost enough money to punish myself and decided to leave. Outside a storm was raging. It was as if I had opened the porthole of a sinking ship. I decided to stay until the rain stopped. All that did was add to my bad day.

By Wednesday it was a whole different story, beginning with leaving the doctor’s office 10 minutes before my scheduled appointment (we were both early!) after being attended to by a kind, understanding doctor who was generous with explanations, who even thanked me for being early. 

But then, that’s Costa Rica.


our daily
our site
2004 photo contest
Send us
news story
Visit our
Visit our
Visit our
real estate
of Villalobos
Display ad info



Live like a king!

One of the finest condos is available in the center of the Metropolitan Area.

This is El Emperador Condominiums
adjacent to Mall San Pedro. Hurry!!

$165,000 U.S.D.
Larry 293-0891 

WE HAVE MOVED: Visit our website to see our new location in Pavas
Call: (506) 290-8655
PAVAS — Click here to visit our website for directions:
e-mail: info@coastspasdecostarica.com
as well as our outstanding 
Rainy Season Specials!
0% FINANCING AVAILABLE!!!  Freewater testing and analysis in our Water Lab




Howard's Relocation
The BEST investment
you can make

click here


Did you know?

• Prescriptions
 are not needed 
on most products 
in Costa Rica

• You can take
a 90-day supply
back to the USA

• You'll save
up to 80% compared to
U.S. drugstores

Farmacia Alvarez
(click here)

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-9393

RACSA says it can connect you anywhere for $400 a month
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. noted Thursday that it can connect anyone anywhere in Costa Rica — for a price.

The internet provider, known as RACSA, was promoting the use of its satellite system and said it was perfect for hotels and other businesses tucked away in the mountains where traditional phone 

lines or television cables do not reach.

For $400 a month, the company will allow up to five computers hooked up to one 1.8 meter (nearly 6-foot) parabolic dish that can bounce a signal to the company’s receiver in Calle Blancos north of San José.

The service runs at a speed of 64 kps, and the firm says it now has 35 customers.

Tax plan gets boost
from Sala IV court

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV has rejected two appeals against the proposed tax plan, freeing national legislators to consider the measure.

The action was announced Thursday by the press office of the Poder Judicial.

José Miguel Corrales of Partido Liberación Nacional and Gerardo Vargas of the Partido Acción Ciudadana had raised the issue of unconstitutionality in the way the measure was railroaded by legislative leaders in March.

Two other appeals against the way the tax plan was handled in the legislature were shelved by the Sala IV constitutional court this week. One of these was filed by Federico Malavassi of Movimiento Libertario. He wanted a fuller hearing on the 1,000 or so amendments his party has filed.

The court stopped short of throwing out the appeals. It said it would reconsider them when the tax plan comes before it between the first and second reading. The court’s opinion of constitutionality is a normal step for proposed laws. The plan is likely to win enough votes to pass.

The appeals to the court had frozen action on the measure in the Asamblea Nacional. Now deputies can debate and eventually vote on the measure, which is designed to raise some $500 million in new taxes. The plan is controversial because it calls for a value added tax to replace the current sales tax, and it calls for taxing the overseas income of citizens and residents here, including expats.

Church plans film
tonight on ‘end times’

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The International Baptist Church announces a special movie night tonight with the free showing of the film "Left Behind" at 7 p.m. at the church in Guachipelin. 

This is the church on the hill, north across the Autopista Próspero Fernández from Multiplaza.

This action/adventure movie puts on film the story from the best-selling Christian book series "Left Behind." 

The book is about what would happen on earth at the second coming of Christ if Biblical prophecies play out the way many fundamental Christians believe they will.

The film begins with the premise that millions of earth’s residents vanish at the same instant. These are the saved who do not have to face the terror and tribulation of the end times before the second coming of Christ.

No tickets are required, the church announcement said. But punctuality is encouraged. Directions to the church are: take the Próspero Fernandez exit to Guachipelin, turning right at the bottom of the access road.  Then turn immediately to the right (east) and then to the left (north).  You will see the steepled church in front of you to your left. 

For more information, call Pastor Paul Dreessen at the church (215-2117) or Ron Tucker (446-3840).

Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

Legal services

Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados

Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 218-0829                Cell 365-3088 

E-mail: legalxpt@racsa.co.cr

• Family law       • real estate law 
•  criminal and constitutional law
• due dilligence   • title guarantee, 
• fraud protection
• Notary Public services in general

Authorized Representative
Stewart Title Attorney Referral System

      Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson, 
Costa Rica/U.S.A. Attorneys at Law
Villalobos and Savings Unlimited Collections
*Investments  *Corporations 
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica *Tax Shelters 
*Immigration *Intellectual Property
    *Business procedures *Family and Labor Law
    *Locate People *Private Investigations
       Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 356-2449

Real estate agents and services

First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
  Escrow services
  Title Transfers
  Title Guarantees
  Trust Services
  Investment and 
      Mortgage Services
Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at service1@firstcr.com

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.


formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American
Chamber of Commerce

(506) 291-2825 & (506) 291-2826 
fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell

A.M. Costa Rica
Consultantes Río Colorado S.A.

James J. Brodell.........................editor
Saray Ramírez Vindas.... associate editor

Avenida 11 bis, Barrio Otoya, San José

Voice: (506) 223-1327
FAX: (506) 223-1190

 In Costa Rica:                    From elsewhere:

  A.M. Costa Rica                    Consultantes Río Colo.
  Apartado 12909-1000           SB 11
  San José, Costa Rica              P.O. Box 025292
  (506) 223-1327                    Miami, FL 33102-5292

Buy my mountain

The last and choicest mountainside 35.387 m2 (8.7 acres) development property offered at wholesale price Only $28 per square meter with easy bank & owner financing! Breathtaking 270º views Central Valley, Ciudad Colón, unpolluted fresh air & climate only 8 minutes from FORUM Office Center, quick access Prospero Fernando Freeway, shopping, new hospital, 20 minutes to San José. Zoned and ready to go. Contact Captain Haines, globaltrade@racsa.co.cr Tel (506) 249-4758 Fax (506) 249-1559 

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Marchers Thursday had different goals on their mind. A public employees union member (left) demands a salary hike greater than 4.5 percent. Students (above) assert the country is endangered by the proposed free trade treaty with the United States.

Marchers vent, and multiple roadblocks continue
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Perhaps as many as 4,000 protestors took to San Jose’s streets Thursday in a march with multiple motives.

As evening came more blockades by trucks were popping up all over the country, and organizers promised that the traffic jams would continue through the weekend.

The Sala IV constitutional court counted 11 requests for intervention. Some were filed against strikers, who have blocked traffic since Monday. One of these was from a 94-year-old Hospital de Grecia patient who could not get an oxygen tank because of the tie-ups. He was suing a public employee union and educators.

However, some of the appeals targeted officials for not keeping roads open. Others were from strikers who had been jailed by police Wednesday.

Fuerza Pública officers promised to keep roads open, but truckers last night countered by driving their trucks very slowly to avoid charges of blocking traffic. A large tie-up developed near San Ramon, and reports of other tie-ups came from near Quepos and Puntarenas.

The truckers have been reinforced by university students who did not join the demonstrations until Wednesday morning. The San Ramon rolling blockade was heavily populated by students.

One person grabbed after a confrontation Wednesday with a taxi driver in the center of Heredia turned out to be a Colombian national. He has the last names of Gallardo Quirós and is believed to be a Universidad Nacional student. Officials in the Dirección General de Migración are studying a possible deportation action. 

Of the 64 persons arrested by police Wednesday, nearly all are at liberty under instructions not to rejoin the strike and protests. The most arrests were made in Limón and near Cartago.

The protest in San José Thursday involved mostly public employee union members. They have two goals. They want more than the 4.5 percent pay raise mandated by President Abel Pacheco and many fear they will lose their jobs of seniority if the free trade treaty with the United States is passed. They ended up at the legislature.

Truckers, some of whom were in the protest, are mostly concerned with getting rid of Riteve S y C, the firm designated to perform the vehicle inspections. Truckers and taxi drivers claim this is an illegal monopoly run by foreigners.

President Pacheco promised that those public employees who took the day off work to march in the protest would not be paid. A number of public offices had skeleton staffs.

For its part, Riteve, the vehicle inspection company, 

A.M. Costa Rica/Garland M. Baker
Avenida 2 is filled with the multi-colored shirts and banners of employee unions, including hospital workers.

said Thursday that it agreed 100 percent with President Pacheco and his comments on television Wednesday. Pacheco said that some modifications might be made in the inspection requirements.

In a statement, Riteve said that it only enforces the regulations drawn up by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte. The company said it has no power to deviate from the Manual de Revisión Técnica, which contains the specific elements that are to be checked or tested on vehicles.

Fear of a gasoline shortage has been reduced because Fuerza Pública officers have lifted the blockade of trucks at the country’s refinery near Limón. However, exporters of produce say they have lost a significant amount of money.  Local producers suffered, too, because they could not get their goods to market.

Growing resentment to the strike could be seen on the Internet. Several Costa Ricans are circulating text that is highly critical of the strikers. One graphic layout contains photos of the strike leaders, including Albino Vargas, secretary general of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados. The e-mail accuses the leaders of using the strike for their own ends.

No announcement has been made that negotiations will resume, even though officials had hoped concessions on vehicle inspections by Pacheco in his Wednesday night speech might trigger some response at least from truckers and taxi drivers.

The truck tractors in the march underscore the third complaint, that of the Riteve S y C vehicle inspection system much detested by truckers.
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

Last month A.M. Costa Rica registered 1,318,470 hits.
Your business could get hit here, too.
A.M. Costa Rica's
real estate classifieds
are the best deal going.

Color photos
Live links
Instant contact
Worldwide readership

Check it out HERE!

Want to know about birds?
This is the CLASSIC
for bird lovers 
in Costa Rica.

Order it 
via A.M. Costa Rica
in association with

See other popular Costa Rican titles HERE!

All types of thefts and scams
Ashcroft outlines international Web crackdown 
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than $215 million worth of online crime is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department in Operation Web Snare, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday.

"America's justice community is dedicated to stopping economic crimes before they spread through the online community," Ashcroft said in a prepared statement delivered here.

Internet crime is increasingly internationalized, Ashcroft said, adding that Operation Web Snare has already joined in partnership with authorities in Romania, Nigeria and other nations to stop online crime carried out in the borderless regions of cyberspace. 

Since the operation began in June, more than 160 investigations have been opened, involving more than 150,000 victims, according to the Ashcroft statement. 

Authorities also have a new legal tool to use in the prosecution of Internet crime with the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act signed into law in July. Identity theft, one of the fastest growing forms of criminal activity, cost U.S. businesses $50 billion last year, and left 10 million people victimized. 

The cases brought in this operation span many of the most significant forms of computer-related crime:

-- Major online-fraud schemes, some defrauding tens of thousands of victims; 

-- Online identity theft, such as "phishing"- the soliciting of Internet users for their personal and financial data, using e-mails and websites falsely representing that they are from legitimate banks and companies; 

-- Computer hacking; and 

-- Intellectual property crimes such as selling counterfeit software.

In response to the rising tide of Internet crime emanating from Nigeria and other West African nations, the President of Nigeria in 2002 established the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, Ashcroft said, adding: 

"To further strengthen our international cooperation, the FBI has assigned an agent to work exclusively with Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crime Commission. This coordinated effort is dedicated to rooting out advance-fee schemes-such as the e-mail-based frauds that ask recipients to help the e-mail senders move money out of Africa but require recipients to send their own money or bank-account information first."

Individuals or companies who want to report Internet-related crime can file online complaints with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at: www.ifccfbi.gov

. . . and investigation extends to copyright-protected materials 
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Justice has launched its first investigation of suspected organized pirating of online copyrighted material.

"The execution of today's warrants disrupted an extensive peer-to-peer network suspected of enabling users to traffic illegaly in music, films, software and published works," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. The investigation of five U.S. residences and one Internet provider is the first U.S. law enforcement action taken against criminal copyright infringement using computer networks, he said.

The continuing investigation targets illegal file sharing over direct-connect networks that require users to share large amounts of data in return for having access to downloads of files submitted by other users, according to a press release. The group called itself "The Underground Network."

Theft through illegal reproduction of copyright protected materials such as movies, software, games, and music is estimated to cost U.S. industries $19 billion annually worldwide, the release said.

Trade in copyright-protected materials on the Internet "is theft, plain and simple," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein.

Weak El Niño prediction supported by new forecasting system
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — El Niño is likely to be weak in 2004, according to findings from a new climate forecasting system that will give National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists greater accuracy than they had been able to achieve with prior forecasting systems.

The agency said this week that its latest predictions call for a slight warming in the central Pacific. This is the El Niño trademark that can have important 

consequences for weather around the globe including wetness in eastern China, dryness over Indonesia and wetness in the south Indian Ocean and Australia.

It is still too early for specific forecasts for individual regions, officials said. The new climate forecasting system went into effect Tuesday. It provides scientists with a better understanding of the interaction between the oceans and the atmosphere than they have been able to gain in the past, officials said.

Panama's outgoing president pardons Cuban plotters
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PANAMÁ CITY, Panamá — Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso has pardoned four Cubans accused of plotting to kill President Fidel Castro in 2000 during an inter-American summit. The pardon has angered the Cuban government, and it has broken diplomatic relations with Panamá.

Speaking to reporters, President Moscoso said that she had pardoned the four men for humanitarian reasons. Mrs. Moscoso said Luis Posada Carriles, Gaspar Jiménez, Guillermo Novo, and Pedro Remón are old and infirm. She said she wanted to prevent their extradition to Cuba, where they likely would have been killed. 

Also pardoned was a long list of individuals, including many reporters who were suspected of violating criminal libel and defamation laws.

The four Cubans were serving seven- and eight-year terms for their roles in a plot to bomb an auditorium where Fidel Castro was due to speak to Iberian and Latin American leaders. Panamanian officials believed there was not enough evidence to charge them with attempted murder, and instead they were convicted of endangering public safety and falsifying documents.

The 76-year-old Mr. Posada Cariles, considered to be the ringleader, is a Cuban national, the other three are Cuban-born U.S. citizens. 

After the Castro government threatened to break relations over the issue, the Panamanian government withdrew its ambassador from Havana Tuesday and asked Cuba to recall its ambassador to Panamá. The diplomatic crisis comes days before 

Mrs. Moscoso completes her presidential term, next Tuesday. Her successor, Martin Torrijos, the son of the late Gen. Omar Torrijos, who was a friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is expected to try to normalize relations with the Castro government as soon as possible. 

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the United States did not pressure Panamá to pardon the four men. Mrs. Moscoso also said she had not been pressured by any foreign government.

The Panamanian president accused the Castro government of attempting to destabilize her government and claimed that Cuban agents were active in Panama. She also said that these agents had been identified and that her administration would take the necessary measures to protect Panamanian sovereignty and national security. As news of the pardon spread, university students and leftist organizations in Panamá City took to the streets to protest the presidential action. Riot police were called out to deal with the disturbances. 

Panama's foreign minister said that he had not been notified of a formal break in relations with Cuba and that he would await formal notification via diplomatic channels before issuing any kind of statement. 

Political analysts believe the new administration will try to restore diplomatic relations if the break does occur and that the rift will not be long lived. 

Panamá is a key supplier to Cuba's tourist industry, with exports in the hundreds of millions of dollars every year from the Colón free trade zone, a process that allows the Castro government to bypass the United States' economic embargo.

New air passenger ID system ready for testing
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Transportation Security Administration  will begin before the end of the year to test a new passenger prescreening system after shelving the previous version due to privacy concerns.

Under the new program, called Secure Flight, the agency will take over from airlines responsibility for checking airline passengers' names against "greatly expanded" terrorist watch lists, the agency announced this week.

The change was recommended by the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission.

The predecessor to Secure Flight,  the computer-
assisted passenger prescreening system, was designed to protect the commercial aviation system from terrorist threats by identifying higher-risk passengers for additional security procedures.

The project was criticized by Congress and civil liberties groups for inadequate privacy protection, particularly for using commercial data. 

The new program to be tested in a month or two differs because it focuses on identifying terrorists rather than on serving other law enforcement purposes. The agency said it will conduct a very limited test to determine whether comparing passenger information to commercially available data can help to verify the identity of individuals.

Chavez says he would even meet with Bush to improve relations
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — The foreign minister says President Hugo Chavez is open to meeting with U.S. President George Bush to improve relations between the two leaders.

Foreign Minister Jesus Perez said in Caracas Wednesday that Chavez is "ready to talk with anyone" to address Venezuela's differences with the United States. Perez said his boss will be in New York next month for the annual opening session of 

the United Nations General Assembly.

But the foreign minister admits there are presently no plans in the works for such a meeting.

Relations between Venezuela and its biggest oil client have been at a low since Chavez accused the U.S. president of backing an April, 2002 coup against him.

The Venezuelan leader earlier this month overwhelmingly defeated a recall referendum.

Chile's high court strips ex-president Pinochet of his immunity 
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SANTIAGO, Chile — The Supreme Court of Chile has affirmed a lower court ruling that allows former President Augusto Pinochet to be prosecuted for human rights violations.

The high court ruled Thursday in Santiago that the 88-year-old general is not immune as a former president from facing criminal charges for his part in the so-called Operation Condor. 

That operation was a plan coordinated by Latin 

American military leaders in the 1970s and 1980s  to repress their political opponents. General Pinochet ruled from 1973 to 1990.

The case challenging General Pinochet's immunity was brought by relatives of people who disappeared during Operation Condor.

Chilean courts had previously declined to strip him of immunity because his attorneys said he was mentally incompetent. But his performance in an interview with a U.S. television station appeared to undermine that claim.

Jo Stuart
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. Check HERE for more details