A.M. Costa Rica
Your daily English-language news source
Place your free classified ad

Click Here
Jo Stuart
About us
This stories were first published Wednesday, 5 September, 2001


The big game
is top news
for today

By the A.M. Costa Rica Staff

Tonight's soccer football game between the Costa Rican and U.S. national teams will have a sold-out audience at Saprissa Stadium where about 24,000 fans are expected.

Not much else will take place in Costa Rica as nearly every bar and restaurant will be turned to the multiple channels that will carry the game.

Even "Yo Soy Betty la Fea," the most popular recent telenovela or soap opera, will be rescheduled to make way for the game.

Betting on the game through official channels had not even started as of last night. Sports books in downtown San José had not even 

established odds, perhaps because betting would be overwhelmingly on the Costa Rican team.

One casino worker said soccer matches generally do not generate much official betting.

Stadium gates will open at 4:30 p.m. for those who have the much-prized tickets. Police officials said that Saturday's Costa Rican victory against Trinidad and Tobago indirectly caused more than 100 auto accidents with most of the blame being placed on drinking and driving or driver inattention.

The U.S. team arrived in Costa Rica Tuesday afternoon and projected optimism. 

A.M. Costa Rica photos
Two popular downtown watering holes are Sharkey's Bar (left) and Tiny's Tropical Bar and Restaurant (above). 
Two well-known bars on the market for sale
By the A.M.  Costa Rica staff

Want to run a bar in downtown San José?

At least two are for sale. And they both are classics. 

Tiny's Tropical Bar and Restaurant on Avenida 2 between Calles 9 and 11 is on the market for $300,000 including the real estate, the owner said.

"I had the original sports bar in San José," said Tiny, who started the operation Aug. 1, 1988.  Tiny, who doesn't like to use his last name, said he is 67 and would prefer not to run the bar and restaurant.

Tiny's has a reputation for good U.S.-style food. 

Just a few feet off Avenida 1 on Calle 9 is Sharkey's Bar. This is the former Beatle Bar, and one-time investor Keith Knight said he ended up with the bar when he took in settlement of a debt. He opened it as Sharkey's in February after a makeover. 

Knight wants $150,000 but he said he also wants to get out of the bar business and do what he came to Costa Rica to do: be an artist. The bar contains several of his murals. So, he said, he will consider offers. He has been here eight years. 

In addition to a unique hot dog menu, Sharkey's boasts a live entertainment license. It also has decent restrooms, which is not true of all San José establishments.

Real estate parcels, particularly those that contain tourist-related businesses, frequently have rapid turnovers in Costa Rica as people find that their dream of a small business also involves staying up until 4 a.m. to clean up the establishment, some current operators confirm.

In addition, mortgages are difficult to find. Both bar owners said they would prefer cash deals.

A good source for possible purchases will continue to be the classified pages of this publication.


Sports bets,
Internet lottery,
and bank sales

Paper 'chances": Probably not going away very soon
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The organization that brings Costa Rica its national lottery wants to create an Internet version. But first it plans to set up electronic sports betting.

That was the word from the Board of Social Protection of San José. Not only that, but soon residents will be able to buy regular paper lottery tickets at National Bank of Costa Rica branches. 

The bank sales are seen as a supplement to and not a replacement for the ubiquitous street vendors who sell lottery tickets and the so-called "chances," according to board aides.

The board supervises the lotteries that provides money for a number of social welfare organizations. 

The use of Nation Bank branches was announced Tuesday by board general manager Luis Polinaris Vargas at a ceremony to distribute funds with Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez.

Polinaris said that lottery tickets would be on sale at the banks before the end of the year. He declined to give details on the concept of an electronic lottery, although the fact that the board was considering the idea was not a secret. 

Even the board website contains an inactive Internet link to future information on the electronic lottery.

The board has been worried about unregulated private lotteries. The organization just reached agreement with the Public Security Ministry to 

allow police to go with board inspectors to break up illegal numbers operations. 

Polinaris said that the sports betting would be on first division football (soccer) games, although betting on other types of sports might come later. Sports betting earnings would be used to support sports organizations, including the national World Cup team, board aides said.

National Bank of Costa Rica branches are notorious for long lines. There has been no announcement if the bank plans special ticket sales spots or will add the chores to the work now being done by tellers. 

Bank sales of lottery tickets were tried by New York State 30 years ago when legal lotteries were new in the United States. During the first few months, lottery ticket buyers had to fill out forms in triplicate and present them to a teller in order to obtain a ticket.

Quickly the state realized that many more tickets could be sold at convenience stores and other retail locations than at banks. A state survey showed that citizens were uncomfortable admitting to bank clerks that they wanted to buy a lottery ticket.

Costa Rica is a center for so-called off-shore betting. A number of betting operations handle incoming bets via the Internet, but the money won generally is paid to a bank account in some other country. 

So some Costa Rican bettors said Tuesday that they still would prefer private betting organizations to the government sports book because they were afraid they would have to pay taxes on winnings, something they do not now do.

Update on fight against AIDS focuses on vaccines
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The leading figure in the U.S. campaign to find a vaccine against the HIV virus that causes AIDS will present an update on the research in a speech to be delivered today at the AIDS Vaccine 2001 meeting in Philadelphia, Pa.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will describe the development of a vaccine as a "central goal of AIDS research," according to an institute press release issued Tuesday. 

Given the historical success of vaccines as a tool against disease, Fauci said, "We fully expect that the experience, expertise and commitment of NIAID-funded investigators and our partners in the United States and abroad will lead to the development of a useful HIV vaccine as well."

The Joint United Nations Program on AIDS, the World Health Organization, the French government's AIDS agency, various research universities, and biomedical and pharmaceutical corporations are among the partners in the global effort to develop a vaccine effective in preventing infection from HIV.

The press release says approximately two dozen 

vaccine candidates are now being studied by researchers, some showing significant promise. Fauci said, however, that the behavior of the HIV/AIDS virus presents unique challenges in development of a vaccine. Researchers don't understand enough about how the body develops immune protection against HIV, he said.

"Other important challenges to HIV vaccine development include the high rate of HIV mutation within populations and individuals, the limitations of all current animal models of HIV disease, and the fact that HIV integrates itself into the DNA of host cells, where it can escape immune surveillance," Fauci said.

National Institute of Health funding for HIV research will reach $356.6 million in 2002, six times its level in 1990.

A U.N. global survey of the disease indicates that 36 million people are now living with HIV/AIDS, and 22 million AIDS victims have died since the beginning of the epidemic. In the near future, U.N. projects that some of the most severely affected nations mostly in sub-Saharan Africa will begin to experience overall declines in population and significantly reduced average life expectancies as a result of the disease.

Ortega promises to resolve
U.S. property claims 

Nicaraguan presidential candidate Daniel Ortega said that if elected, he will help resolve claims to U.S.-owned property seized by his government in the 1980s. 

Ortega says he discussed the issue Monday in a meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Managua, Oliver Garza. Ortega is running in November's presidential election as the Sandinista National Liberation Front candidate. 

The former Sandinista leader came to power in 1979 after overthrowing Anastasio Somoza's dictatorship. During Ortega's 11-year hold on power, property belonging to hundreds of U.S. citizens was confiscated. 

The United States suspended aid to the country, provided support to Ortega's opponents and imposed a trade embargo. Bilateral relations have since improved, as Nicaragua works to resolve some of the property claims and other concerns.

Bush and Fox begin talks

Mexican President Vicente Fox begins a three-day official visit with President Bush Wednesday that is expected to cover immigration reform and other issues. The two presidents are scheduled to hold their first   meeting at the White House to discuss the status of more than three million Mexicans living in the United States illegally. 

President Fox has made the issue one of his major concerns. But he told The Washington Post, in an interview published Tuesday, that it   may take four to six years to fully reform U.S. - Mexico immigration policy. U.S. and Mexican officials have spent the last six months discussing the issue, including a possible blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants working in the United States.

President Bush says he opposes a general amnesty for the workers, but  that he understands the economic realities driving them to the United  States. Some U.S. lawmakers also argue an amnesty would reward people for entering the country unlawfully and say it is not fair to those waiting for proper visas. 

In a related development, Secretary of  State Colin Powell and his Mexican  counterpart, Jorge Castaneda, met Tuesday at the State Department to discuss the immigration issue. 

Colombian policemen killed

Colombian police say two officers are dead following a rebel assault on a  remote village in the southwestern part of the country. Two other officers  have been injured and another two kidnapped. 

Authorities say the trouble started Sunday when rebels of the  Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, began attacking the  village of San Adolfo with guns and explosives. There was no word on  rebel casualties. 

The village is located near the main rebel stronghold where government  troops launched a recent offensive. Rebels have been staging attacks from  the stronghold in a bid that officials say is aimed at expanding their  influence in the area. 

President Andres Pastrana has been under pressure to take back the  rebel-controlled zone, which he set up in 1998 as part of his plan to  negotiate peace with the guerrillas. Critics say the FARC also uses its  stronghold to imprison kidnap victims and run drug-smuggling operations.  Security forces are not allowed into the enclave. 

The Pastrana government has held sporadic peace talks with the FARC  since 1999, but the discussions have not progressed beyond procedural  issues. 

The FARC is Colombia's largest leftist guerrilla group and has been  involved in a civil war against the government for nearly 40 years. The  conflict also pits the rebels against right-wing paramilitaries. 

One dead in Chilean clash

Chilean police say one person is dead  and another critically injured as  supporters and opponents of former  dictator Augusto Pinochet clashed  during the National Unity Day  holiday. 

Authorities say a 27-year-old man died in Santiago Tuesday when he was hit by a car that sped through a barricade. A 15-year-old boy also  was seriously injured when a stray bullet hit him in the head during the  demonstrations.

National Unity Day is a legal holiday in Chile and is celebrated on the first  Monday in September. The holiday replaces the annual commemoration of  the military coup that brought General Pinochet to power on Sept.11, 1973. The ailing 85-year-old general held power until 1990. 

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier