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(506) 2223-1327          Published Friday, Sept. 3, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 174              E-mail us
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Effort continues to build a Guayabo museum
By Robert Oldham*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Ever since the designation in 2009 of Monumento Nacional Arqueologico Guayabo as a World Engineering Heritage Site, the Fundación Tayutic has been working to raise funds needed for the expansion of facilities at the site.

Fundación Tayutic was established in April 2007 expressly for the purpose of both preserving and presenting the pre-Hispanic heritage of Costa Rica, and assisting the remaining original peoples of the country in improving their lives. The foundation has been granted tax-exempt status by the Costa Rican government so that it can receive funds and make them available for the work at Guayabo.

The main focus of the foundation’s programs is the creation of a new Guayabo Museum at the park, in which can be displayed many of the important artifacts found at the archaeological site by scientists excavating there over the past more than 100 years.

The objects include items of stone and gold, among some of the most intricate and elaborate designs created by the people of Guayabo and other regional sites. Guayabo flourished in the period between about 3,000 years to about 1500 AD, when the Guayabo site and other similar sites in Costa Rica were apparently suddenly abandoned.

Monumento Nacional Guayabo is internationally recognized as an important pre-Columbian cultural site. The government of Costa Rica, while it has taken the step of designating the site as a national monument, has very limited budget available for the work of stabilization of the site to prevent further environmental deterioration of the restored archaeological features.

There are currently no other known designated government or private funds available for the construction of a museum at the site. The valuable artifacts recovered at Guayabo are mostly in storage in San José, due to a lack of appropriate display facilities at Guayabo, while a few are displayed in the Museo Nacional in San Jose. Thus visitors to Guayabo are prevented from viewing the important cultural artifacts that can
Typical pavilion exterior in Gayabo
Fundación Tayutic photo
Rendering shows the proposed style of pavilions at the proposed museum.

explain and illustrate the people who built and lived at the site.

Fundación Tayutic has undertaken the task of raising funds through donations from foundations, corporations, organizations, and private individuals, for the construction at Guayabo of an appropriate museum in which a broadly representative selection of the artifacts recovered at the site can be displayed and interpreted. The foundation seeks the support of government and non-government sources to further this important work.

As part of its effort, Fundación Tayutic, with offices in Turrialba and San José, commissioned the design of a museum for the park. The design refers visually to the form of the dwelling structures that are presumed to have existed at Guayabo when it was an active living community, and is modular, thus enabling phased construction as funds become available.

Further information about Fundación Tayutic and its programs can be found at its Web site.

*Oldham, a retired museum professional with experience at several museums in the United States, has a master’s degree in museum studies. He is now living near Guayabo, and has volunteered his services to assist Fundación Tayutic in its efforts. Now appointed volunteer executive director, with his help the foundation is beginning its solicitation of funds from individuals, Costa Rican corporations, and local and international foundations and agencies.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 174

Costa Rica Expertise
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Tourism activity grows
led by Asia and Middle East


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The first six months of 2010 saw international tourist arrivals grow by 7 percent, according to the August Interim Update of the World Tourism Organization's barometer. This result confirms the recovery trend beginning in the last quarter of 2009 and is expected to continue in the second half of the year at a somewhat more moderate rate.

International tourist arrivals are estimated to have grown by 7 percent in the first half of 2010. While growth was modest in April as a consequence of the closure of European airspace following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland, results were strong in May (+10 percent) and June (+8 percent). Data available for July indicates that growth is set to continue at a steady rate.

Growth was positive in all world regions, led by a robust performance of emerging economies expanding at 8 percent compared to 6 percent in advanced economies. Asia and the Pacific (+14 percent) and the Middle East (+20 percent), where results were already positive in the second half of 2009, continue to lead growth in the first half of 2010 with the majority of destinations in both regions posting double digit growth rates.

Asia in particular is experiencing a very dynamic rebound, with strong results from Sri Lanka (+49 percent), Japan (+36 percent), Vietnam (+35 percent), Myanmar (+35 percent), Hong Kong (China) (+23 percent), Macao (China) (+23 percent), Singapore (+23 percent), Fiji (+22 percent) and the Maldives (+21 percent). Thailand (+14 percent) posted encouraging results in spite of the political unrest early this year. As in previous occasions, such as the Asian financial and economic crisis (1997-1998), the SARS outbreak (2003), and the tsunami (2004), Asia has once again shown a strong capacity for recovery. International tourism has been a driving force in a region — currently the second most visited region in the world — with 181 million international tourist arrivals (21 percent of world total) and international tourism receipts of US$ 204 billion (24 percent of world total) in 2009.

In the Americas (+7 percent), Central and South America show steady growth, as does North America. Growth has been slower in the Caribbean but results are still markedly improved as compared to 2008 and 2009. Europe (+2 percent) shows the slowest recovery but results from recent months are slightly more positive. Although recovery has not yet returned to Northern Europe, both Western and Southern Mediterranean Europe show reasonable growth. Africa (+7 percent), the only region to grow in 2009, maintained this momentum during the first half of 2010.

International tourism receipts are expected to lag somewhat behind arrivals in many destinations. Following major shocks, volume tends to recover faster than income as travellers go closer to home for shorter periods of time and seek value for money, while on the supply side increased competition has been driving prices down. This was also the case following the Asian economic and financial crisis and after the 2001 Sept.  11 terrorist attacks.

Overall, international tourist arrivals totalled 421 million during the first six months of 2010, up 7 percent on 2009, but still 2 percent below that of the record year of 2008 (428 million arrivals in the same period). These results follow one of the toughest years for the tourism sector with international tourist arrivals declining by 4.2 percent in 2009 to 880 million and international tourism receipts reaching $852 billion (€611 billion), a decrease in real terms of 5.7 percent.

For 2010, the World Tourism Organizatin said it maintains its initial forecast of international tourist arrivals growing by 3 percent to 4 percent. Current growth rates, coupled with an improving global economic environment suggest that end-year results are likely to be closer to 4 percent, and may even exceed this figure.

However, high unemployment continues to be a major cause of concern and the austerity measures as well as the rise in taxation implemented in several advanced economies to fight public deficits represent a clear challenge to many leading outbound markets, the agency said.

The tourism report was deliverd at a forum in Guilin, China Thursday.

Our reader's opinion
Repeat offenders, juveniles
need to be part of crime plan

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to the “Wave of Shootings” article, I believe some valid points are being overlooked. After attending some local ad hoc committees in my small town about crime and reading about some other small community group discussions and the daily perusing of Costa Rica news in print and on the Internet I feel that an important issue is being forgotten. There is even a petition out there to the president here to do something about the laws and the revolving door court system.

Many of these crimes are being committed by juveniles. Some adults are even using juveniles to commit the crimes knowing that they will not be prosecuted as adults and sometimes never. The “Rule of Law” does not seem to apply to the everyday criminals who break into homes to steal. Now the crime is becoming more violent with the use of weapons. I don't know how many times that I read about a crime and notice frequently that the persons have been arrested many times previously and are still out in the streets. Are there any statistics on repeat offenders? Is anyone in the administration paying attention to this?

I'm not a N.R.A. advocate but I fail to blame honest citizens to acquire firearms for self-protection. Sometimes this is not a good idea because some of them are stolen in robberies and then used to commit more violent crimes to the innocent. Maybe Costa Rica should have built a $40 million stadium and used the other $40 million to build a bigger prison. The stadium will benefit a few while the prison would have benefited all.

The president wants to add more policemen. If the laws and the court system does not address the crimes with the due punishment, it really won't matter. Parents should be responsible for the behavior of their minor children. Repeat offenders should be put away for a long time, and the punishment should fit the crime.

Police corruption is another issue this country is suffering from. I read about another country who is using a periodic lie detector test to root out the dishonest ones. President Laura Chinchilla wants Costa Rica to become a developing county. A wonderful goal. But if the present system of laws and the non-prosecution of criminals is not addressed, we will end up like the shooting galleries of Juárez and Tijuana, Mexico.

These days ahead for the Chinchilla administration formalizing proposals to guarantee citizens personal security much attention should be paid to change some of the laws regarding repeat offenders and juvenile crimes.

Thomas Ploskina
Nuevo Arenal

Possession of a weapon
brings added responsibilities


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As I'm sure you would agree, along with rights go responsibilities.

It is the responsibility of every government to protect it's citizenry. Whether it is the right of said citizen to own a deadly weapon differs from nation to nation.

When gun ownership is granted as a right, there must be strictly adhered to responsibilities that are complied with. Here's some that I think would be effective:

- the responsibility of the gun dealer to vet the buyer regarding age, criminal record and mental health status.

- the responsibility of the gun owner to participate in firearms training and pass related tests.

-the responsibility of the owner to keep the fire arm secured when not in use.

-the responsibility of the state to not permit the possession of arms or munitions that are not appropriate in a civilian context ( eg automatic weapons and cop killer bullets).

And along with responsibility goes common sense. As any security expert will confirm, a short barreled shotgun is the best protection for the home. Point and shoot as opposed to cowboy quickdraw or gangster gripping is the most effective defense and deterrent. And if one feels the need to carry, get a weapon that is the appropriate size and weight for your personal capabilities.

Further, a stress should be placed on gun training for women, starting at an early age. Teach them to point the business end of the weapon at the business end of the attacker. No problems with recidivism or a draconian murder charge against the intended victim.

Jim Shapiro
Carlsbad, California and Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching
The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages
A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds
Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
News of Central America
News of Cuba      News of Venezuela
News of Colombia    
News of Panamá
News of El Salvador

News of Honduras
News of the Dominican Republic
News of Bolivia     News of Ecuador

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 174

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More victims of downpours end up in public shelters
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wednesday night was an unhappy time for many in Costa Rica. Heavy rains and swollen rivers forced more from their homes.

The national emergency commission said Thursday that 175 persons were living in public shelters. Others were with friends and family. Hardest hit seemed to be the canton of Cañas in Guanacaste, La Unión in Cartago and the Osa peninsula.

In the Osa canton bridges were damaged and roads were undermined. A bridge at Agua Buena collapsed isolating the communities of Rancho Quemado, Quebrada Tortuga and Aguilitas.

A U.S. citizen died when his sports utility vehicle got carried away while he was fording a stream between San Gabriel and Santa Cecilia de Agua Buena de Coto Brus, according to the Judicial Investigating Agency. He was identified by the last name of Allen. Agents said he was 47. The vehicle appears to have turned over multiple times and trapped the driver inside. The heavily damaged vehicle was found some distance from where it is presumed the man tried to cross the swollen stream. Another report said he was crossing a wooden bridge and was carried away by a surge of water.

The accident was reported about 10:30 p.m.

A reader reported that a road between Aguacate and Nuevo Arenal has been seriously undermined. He expressed concern because the road is used daily by tourist buses and other large vehicles.

In Cañas, it was the community of Bebedero where 90 persons had to be evacuated, according to the emergency commission. They ended up in the Escuela La Pacifica de Corobici. A bridge nearby also was reported damaged.

In La Unión, Cartago, 25 persons fled flooded homes and ended up in the local gym in the community of San Diego. A landslide put their homes in jeopardy, and some dwellings fell into the adjacent river, the commission said.
undermined road
Photo by Tom Ploskina
Undermined road near Arenal

There also was a shelter set up in Golfito that housed 60 persons, said the commission. Other individuals remain in shelters after being flooded out earlier in the week. That includes residents of Barra Honda de Nicoya, Tirrases de Curridabat, Barrio La Cruz de Ciudad Quesada and in San Rafael de Corredores.

Meanwhile another system of low pressure in the Pacific is generating more humidity in the country. The system is further north than Costa Rica, but the influence is being felt here, said the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional in a special bulletin Thursday afternoon. The weather institute said that the system was causing rain along the Pacific coast, in the Central Valley and in the mountains of the northern zone and the Caribbean.  The prediction was for showers and downpours through the night.

The regions with the highest probability of flooding were Puntarenas Centro, Esparza, Miramar, Tarrazú, Aguirre, Paquita and Cañas, Dominical and the communities that were flooded Wednesday night, the institute said.

The forecast for today is typical of the season. Partly cloudy or cloudy skies in the morning followed by a high probability of downpours in the afternoon and early evening, said the institute.


Consumerism may not be a philosophy to promote now
There was general agreement among some of my Costa Rican-American friends during a discussion we had that what happens in the United States will, in the not too distant future, happen in Costa Rica. I hope this will not be so when it comes to the economy.  It has been true with the increase of obesity in Costa Rica. 

Recently Costa Ricans have discovered the downside of credit cards — you have to pay back the money you charged within a limited time or pay a fat penalty.  Economists in the U.S. have considered the distribution of credit cards to anyone with an address to be the beginning of the big credit bacchanalia in the United States.

Combine that with the government’s idea that everyone should own a home, and Wall Street’s contention that government should not interfere with business but let it  do what business does — make money, and everyone was on the yellow brick road to disaster.  Periodically we forget that our two main human weaknesses are greed and susceptibility to be corrupted. 

The real estate boom in Costa Rica has been peppered with both greed and corruption. Victims of scams haven’t received much help from the government so far.

It was not just the United States that became enamored of the gold bricks in that road. A lot of the rest of the world followed suit.  Surprisingly, Germany has been the fastest to recover.  According to reports, the German government’s social safety nets available to its people are partly responsible.  The big difference seems to be that, even during the boom (or bubble), Germans spent 100 percent of their incomes while Americans were spending 122 percent of their incomes. I have no idea how much of their income Ticos spend, but many are beginning their consuming spree.

Speaking of consuming, I used the word purposely.  But I hate the word consumer when it is used to define citizens of the U.S.  That is what economists do.  And consumers are being blamed for the lack of economic growth in the States.  They are beginning to save instead of spend!  They are actually trying to get out of debt and not using their credit cards.  What a disappointment!  The heavy burden of raising the GDP must fall on different shoulders. It is as if children who were always called brats suddenly became well behaved.
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

Everyone seems to accept that although the big corporations have money now, they are not spending it or hiring people because they are afraid of the uncertainty of what the government will do.  I was taught that business justified its huge profits because it took risks.  What happened to that boldness?  That’s right. It is all the fault of consumers.  Henry Ford realized that if he wanted customers for his automobiles, they would need to have incomes large enough to afford them, so he raised the pay of his workers.  What a novel idea!

Costa Rica, like Germany, is a welfare state, which means they are concerned with promoting the health, happiness and comfort of their people. It is difficult to be both a welfare and a warfare state spending billions a month on wars. Some people who consider themselves strict constructionalists seem to think the General Welfare in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution is a member of the military and he is the one who should be promoted.)

Based upon the history of countries striving to become democracies, it is likely that Iraq will be involved in its own civil war once most U.S. troops leave.  And probably members of the government’s opposition (if there is a government) will be the former soldiers of Saddam Hussein whom Rumsfeld disbanded without job or income and many of whom joined the insurgents in Iraq.  An important aspect of Bush’s surge was the payment to these men to quit fighting against the allied troops.  The Iraqi government is not going to continue to pay them once the Americans leave.  What then?

There is much talk about how entitlements are bankrupting the government in the U.S. but few mention the cost of war.  Yet, entitlements benefit many people in the country. The only people who benefit from war are those involved in what President Eisenhower called the Military-Industrial Complex.”  Ah, the lucky few.  For them, war as a consumer, never disappoints.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 174

Escazú Christian Fellowship
xx
Guoadalupe Missionary Baptist Church


U.N. agency predicts that Latin exports will grow this year

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A new United Nations study says that exports from Latin America and the Caribbean will grow by 21.4 per cent this year, owing mainly to purchases from Asia – particularly China – and the normalization of United States demand.

According to the study, “Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy 2009-2010: A crisis generated in the centre and a recovery driven by the emerging economies,” the expected rise in 2010 follows a 22.6 per cent decline in 2009, making the increase even more pronounced.  The increase is driven mainly by South American sales of prime materials.

Produced by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the report indicates, for example, that regional exports to China rose from -2.2 per cent in the first semester of 2009 to 44.8 per cent during the same period this year. However, there are significant differences within the region.

Growth has been much greater in countries that export natural resources, such as agricultural, livestock and mining products – namely, South American nations, the study shows. It has been slower in countries that import basic commodities and depend on tourism and remittances, such as the Central American and the Caribbean economies.

The differences between subregions are also significant.

According to commission estimates, exports from Mercosur countries (South America’s Southern Common Market) are expected to increase 23.4 per cent this year and those from Andean nations by 29.5 per cent.

By contrast, sales from the Central American common market will expand only 10.8 per cent. Exports from Mexico, for example, are expected to rise by 16 per cent,
and from Panamá 10.1 per cent, while sales from Chile should see growth of 32.6 per cent.

The most notable upswing from the worst period of the crisis in 2009 is expected in the Caribbean Community, whose exports are estimated to leap from -43.6 per cent in 2009 to 23.7 per cent in 2010.

The report also examines trade developments in the region over the past decade, concluding that export growth during those 10 years was slower than in the 1990s and lower than in other developing regions, both in value and volume. However, the region took two different routes during that time: South America doubled export growth, while in Mexico and Central America it dropped by over 50 per cent.

This disparity is largely due to the fact that the exports that most increased were natural resources from South America, at the expense of manufactured products and services with varying degrees of technological content. According to the report, the subregion has reverted to an export structure based on prime materials similar to that of 20 years ago.

While in 1999 natural resources made up 26.7 per cent of total exports from the region, in 2009 they composed 38.8 per cent of the total.

The difference in the growth rates of natural resource exports and manufactured goods realigned the relative weight of Mexico’s exports, on the one hand, and sales from South America, on the other.

The participation of Mexico in the region’s total exports fell from 40 per cent in 2000 to 30 per cent in 2009, while Brazil increased its participation from 13 per cent to nearly 20 per cent during the same period. Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Peru also expanded their participation in total exports based on the sale of natural resources.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 174

La Amistad martini bar

Historia1920 cafe

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Central bank intervenes
and boosts dollar's value


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The value of the dollar increased against the colon Thursday after the Banco Central said it would purchase $600 million between now and Christmas 2011.

The action by the Central Bank was not so much as to defend the battered dollar but to put the brakes on domestic inflation.

The value of the dollar at Banco Nacional this morning was 524.5 colons to purchase a dollar. Selling one dollar would bring 515 colons.

The spike in the value of the dollar also took place the day after most Costa Ricans got their two weeks of pay.

The sell rate of a dollar flirted with 500 colons this week. That is a substantial drop from 582 colons to the dollar that was the rate last October. The weakening of the dollar caused problems for some expats living on fixed incomes from outside Costa Rica.

The dollar began its decline when the Banco Central ended its system of daily mini-devaluations. That coupled with the perception that the U.S. administration is running up high deficits caused the dollar to dip. The central bank was obligated to defend the dollar if it dipped below 500 colons.

The purchase of an estimated $50 million a month of the public currency exchange will dwarf most transactions there where the minimum purchase is $1,000.


Hawking speculates creation
was spontaneous event


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Renowned British scientist Stephen Hawking, writing in a soon-to-be-published book, theorizes that God did not create the universe.

Instead, the theoretical physicist argues that the origin of the universe, explained in modern science by the "Big Bang" theory, was the inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.

Excerpts from Hawking's forthcoming "The Grand Design" appeared Thursday in the British newspaper The Times.

Hawking writes that "because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing.  Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist."

"The Grand Design" is scheduled for release Sept. 9 — one week before Pope Benedict's visit to Britain.

The excerpts sparked an almost immediate rebuttal from Rabbi Jonathan Henry Sacks, the spiritual head of Britain's largest synagogue body.

The rabbi refers to a widely perceived mutual hostility between religion and science as, in his words, "one of the curses of our age."  He also warns that such hostility is "damaging to both religion and science in equal measure."

Scientist and educator George Ellis, the president of the International Society for Science and Religion, is quoted as saying his biggest problem with Hawking's theories is that they present the public with "a choice — either science or religion."

Hawking, one of the most revered figures in theoretical physics, is the author of the seminal 1988 book "A Brief History of Time." The 68-year-old is wheelchair-bound and almost completely paralyzed.  He was diagnosed at age 21 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and communicates through a computer-generated voice synthesizer activated by his fingers.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 174


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Bill for action on climate
set at billions of dollars


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ministers from 45 countries are meeting to discuss the long-term financing of mitigation and adaptation measures needed to tackle climate change.  The two-day meeting, which is jointly hosted by the governments of Switzerland and Mexico, hopes to come up with a plan to advance climate negotiations at the forthcoming talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December.

The new executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change has been on the job for only two months.  But, in that short period of time, Costa Rican Christiana Figueres says events making the news have provided a vision of a future of intense global climate disasters no one wants.

"Floods in Pakistan and fires in Russia, so dramatic that many other major weather disasters in the Americas, Asia and Africa, which would normally have made front-page news, were relegated as secondary events,"  said Ms. Figueres. "Science will show whether and how those events are related to the climate change that is caused by humanity's greenhouse gas emissions.  But, the point is clear, we cannot afford to face escalating disasters of that kind." 

And, the bill for taming these catastrophic climate events is huge.  Slowing global warming will take billions of dollars.  During the two-day meeting, environmental ministers and experts will try to reach a long-term financing agreement for climate action. 

Issues under discussion include a new fund for the environment, ways to bring the private sector into financing and finding new sources of finance.

Ms. Figueres says funding for developing countries holds the key to action.

"Industrialized nations pledged $30 billion in fast-track finance from the year 2010 to the year 2012.  And, developing countries see the provision of this fast-track financing as a key sign of industrialized countries commitment to the negotiations.  Industrialized countries also pledged to find ways and means to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 and concrete proposals on how to do this are now required," she said. 

Critics say some of the $30 billion pledged last December at the Climate Conference in Copenhagen was old funding dressed up as new.  Ms. Figueres says developing countries expect the funding to be completely new and additional.

She says developing countries do not want industrialized countries to divert money allocated to other poverty issues to climate change because this will take money away from other critical programs.

The Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, runs out at the end of 2010. The Copenhagen Conference failed to reach a global agreement to follow or extend Kyoto.

The United Nations will try again to achieve a convention during the next climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico in December.






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