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(506) 223-1327       Published Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 177       E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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This weekend is a special one for the kids
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are for the kids. Saturday is el Día del Niño in Costa Rica. The day is not exactly a legal holiday but festivities honoring the nation's children will be part of school activities Friday.

Casa Presidencial is marking the day Thursday.

The Museo Nacional will have a special program Sunday.

And parents and close family members will be preparing small presents to be distributed Saturday.

The Despacho de Apoyo Social of Casa Presidencial said that some 200 youngsters would be bused from Escuela Ninfa Corrales en Quitirrisí de Mora, an Indian community west of Ciudad Colón.

They will be joined at the Museo de los Niños by 50 children from the Oratorio Don Bosco.

For many Quitirrisí children this will be their first visit to the museum, said Casa Presidencial staffers. A lunch is planned for 1 p.m. The event is being sponsored by the Asociación de Damas Taiwanesas de Costa Rica, the Fundación Programa Nacional de Cultura “Leer es vivir,” the Club de Leones of La Sabana and McDonald's de Costa Rica.

Friday public schools and some private ones will have fiestas for the students in anticipation of the next day. The day always

is Sept. 9, but this year the date fell on a Saturday.

The Museo Nacional event Sunday begins at 9 a.m. and is described as a day to celebrate the art, cultural diversity and happiness of youngsters. Of course there will be clowns and several theatrical and puppet presentations. The event will end with the sounds of the group Calipso AfroCaribe.

The most universal celebration will be in individual homes. This is not Christmas, so presents will be modest. But there will be lots of candy and other treats and perhaps a fiesta with cake and ice cream and maybe even a piñata.

For expats, a small gift,creative but not expensive, is traditional for young family members, children of employees and perhaps children of neighbors, depending on the relationship.

Legislature votes to set up a museum for history of Guanacaste
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers voted Tuesday to establish a museum in Guanacaste. The vote was the second of two, so now the proposal goes to Casa Presidencial for approval or veto.

Much of the museum will contain the
collection of former president Daniel Oduber. The museum will highlight the achievements of those who lived in Guanacaste, a region of ranchers and horse lovers that is considered the Wild West of Costa Rica.

The area has a unique culture in speech, cooking, dance and music.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 177

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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Drivers relax after blocking Avenida Central with their vehicles Tuesday afternoon.

Contract drivers cause
traffic havoc in city

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

Contract drivers caused havoc on the streets of San José Tuesday as they pressed their demand that legislators reject any changes to the commercial code.

The drivers, called porteadores by some and piratas by others, rely on a small section of the commercial code to keep their business legal. These are the unlicensed taxi drivers who carry passengers supposedly on contract.

Licensed cab drivers are pushing for a code change that would put their competition out of business. The Ministerio de Obras Pública y Transporte supports the code change, too, because that ministry regulates taxi drivers.

The drivers blocked the Circumvalación near Parque de la Paz and their slow-moving tactics caused problems elsewhere. There were at least several hundred vehicles involved.

Representatives were rowdy as they demonstrated around nightfall at the Asamblea Legislativa. Some of their representatives got a chance to talk to lawmakers. The leadership agreed to forward their concerns to the  Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Jurídicos.

Earlier in the day, three representatives, José Alberto Alfaro, Víctor Salazar y Carlos Rodríguez, of the  Cámara de Porteadores spoke to the commission. They said that 7,000 families depend on porteadores to bring home pay. They also suggested some form of mediation take place between their group and the licensed taxi drivers.

The commission adjourned its morning session and agreed to meet again with the porteadores after the plenario or full legislative session that takes place in the afternoons.

Meanwhile, porteadores blocked the route to Casa Presidencial in Zapote. Organizers said that the drivers had come from all over the country.

Taxi drivers have staged similar protests in support of a change in the commercial code. The licensed drivers say that the porteadores take away business.

Ambassadors are pitched
on arms treaty by Stagno

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Arias administration invited foreign ambassadors to breakfast Tuesday to promote the government's plan for an international arms treaty.

Support for the measure came from Tom Kennedy, the ambassador from the United Kingdom, who was quoted by administration aides as saying the treaty is an urgent necessity and the irresponsible commerce of arms prolongs conflicts that have a devastating impact.

Bruno Stagno, the foreign minister who convened the breakfast, said that the arms treaty is a priority for the administration. The proposed treaty probably will be discussed next month at the United Nations.

The treaty would require a registration process for arms exported by countries and an annual summary to be made public.

The treaty has been developed by the Fundación Arias, which was represented Tuesday at the Casa Amarilla breakfast by Luis Alberto Cordero, director.

Guanacaste dance groups
have two-day presentation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The dances of Guanacaste will be on display Sept. 16 and 17 in the Gimnasio Municipal of Liberia when dance groups gather to show their skills

The event is sponsored by the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes. More than 500 dancers participated last year.

Some 33 groups are expected this year. Two invited groups are from the Taller Nacional de Danza and the Grupo de Danza Folclórica Camilo Zapata, of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua in Managua. The event, which is free to spectators, begins at 2 p.m. Sept. 16 with a parade along Avenida 25 de Julio.

Cartago fair to feature
popular local traditions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The popular traditions of Cartago will be featured at a fair to be presented in that city from Sept. 13 to 17.

The event is at the Casa de la Ciudad of the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica. And the event is called the Feria de la Cultura Popular Tradicional Cartaginesa.

Artists will be creating traditional works with the materials of the time. In addition, the fair will celebrate the 185th anniversary of Costa Rica's independence by promoting the values and practices of artisans.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 177

U.N. and peace event on agenda
Arias will make two trips to the U.S. this month
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez will make two trips to the United States starting next week in order to address the United Nations and to join with other Nobel Peace Prize laureates at a meeting in Denver, Colorado, of some 3,000 high school youngsters.

The first trip will be Sept. 13 when Arias will go to Miami, Florida, at the Conference of the Americas. This is an international forum, put on in part by the Miami Herald, to discuss the challenges of the hemisphere. This is the 10th annual edition. Arias is being asked to attend the inauguration ceremony.

After the ceremonies Arias will return to the country to participate in the 185th anniversary of Costa Rican independence Sept. 14, and Sept. 15, the Día de la Independencia.

Saturday, Sept. 16, Arias is back in the United States in Denver for the 10th anniversary of Peace Jam, billed as the largest gathering of Nobel Prize laureates outside of Oslo, Norway.

Peace Jam, according to organizers,  "is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace laureates who work personally with
youth to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they embody. The goal of Peace Jam is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform their local communities, themselves and the world."

Arias received the Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to negotiate a resolution to wars in Central America.
Also attending the event will be the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and six other laureates. The event is held at the University of Denver.

From Sept. 18 to 21 Arias will be in New York at the United Nations. His address to the General Assembly is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 19. Casa Presidencial said that he would talk about the challenges of globalization and the need for countries to disarm. In addition, he will discuss the increasing gap between the industrialized countries and developing nations as well as the rising tide of protectionism that jeopardizes free trade.

During his visits, Arias will be meeting with executives in the United States seeking investments and commercial development, said Casa Presidencial. He will be accompanied by Marco Vinicio Ruiz, minister of Comercio Exterior and representatives of firms that already have facilities here.

Intel says it will cut its workforce by about 7 percent
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Intel Corp., the computer chip maker that has facilities in Costa Rica, said Tuesday that it would cut about 7 percent of its work force by the end of the year.

The company said that some 3,000 more would be let go by the middle of next year.

There were no specifics on how this cutback would affect Costa Rica, and inquires to the corporate headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., went unanswered.

The company announced plans for restructuring following an analysis of the company's structure and efficiency, it said. As a result of the restructuring, the company expects to generate savings in costs and operating expenses of approximately $2 billion in 2007. In 2008 the company expects savings from this restructuring to grow to approximately $3 billion annually, according to the announcement.

The savings are a combination of non-workforce related steps and a significant reduction in Intel's workforce, it said. The company's employee population will decline to approximately 95,000 by the end of this year, resulting from workforce reductions, attrition and previously announced actions. The workforce will decline to approximately 92,000 by the middle of 2007 — 10,500 fewer than the company's employee population at the end of the second quarter of 2006. In addition to the savings
from the workforce reduction, the company expects savings in merchandising expenses, capital and materials, it said.

“These actions, while difficult, are essential to Intel becoming a more agile and efficient company, not just for this year or the next, but for years to come,” said Paul Otellini, Intel president and chief executive officer.

Most job reductions this year will occur in management, marketing and information technology functions, reductions related to the previously announced sale of businesses, and attrition, said the announcement. In 2007, the reductions will be more
broadly based as Intel improves labor efficiency in manufacturing, improves equipment utilization, eliminates organizational redundancies, and improves product design methods and processes, it said.

In 2008, the company expects the cost and operating expense savings from this restructuring to grow to approximately $3 billion as it achieves the full-year run rate on the projects implemented in 2007. In addition, Intel expects to save $1 billion by better utilizing manufacturing equipment and space. The company expects that approximately 25 percent of the project's savings in 2007 will reduce cost of sales, and the rest will reduce operating expenses.

The company said it expects severance costs to total approximately $200 million, offsetting some of the expected savings from the project's implementation.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 177

New Marriott near Tamarindo will have 310 rooms
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The seventh JW Marriott Hotel in Latin America will  open in 2008 in Guanacaste under a franchise agreement reached between Marriott International, Inc. and Hotel Real de Pinilla, S.A., a subsidiary of  Grupo Poma of El Salvador, the firms said Tuesday.

Grupo Poma’s hotel division, known as Real Hotels & Resorts, has 23 properties including the Puebla Marriott Hotel in Mexico and the Courtyard by Marriott Panama City, Panama, and will manage the  resort.

When opened, the 310-room JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa will be the fourth Marriott  International-branded property in Costa Rica.
It will be located on a Pacific beachfront site in the 4,000-acre Hacienda Pinilla Beach Resort and residential community development that also contains an existing 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center, tennis courts, villas and beach houses. The project team includes the Zurcher Architects as the project architect and Paul Duesing Partners as the interior designer.

The project is on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula just south of Playa Tamarindo. Daniel  Oduber Liberia International Airport is located approximately 50 miles away to the north and east.

“We are delighted to be working with Real Hotels & Resorts on this exciting and beautiful resort hotel and to see our award-winning JW Marriott brand grow in 
Latin America,” said Ed Fuller, president and managing director of international lodging for Marriott International.  “Costa Rica is a world-class leisure destination, especially for ecotourism, and attracts a diverse group of visitors. Coupled with our JW Marriott’s global reputation for unsurpassed, relaxed luxury and ambience, we are confident this resort will be an instant success.”

The resort’s 310 rooms will include up to 30 executive level guest rooms and up to 10 stand alone casita  units.

For dining and entertainment, the resort will have an all-day restaurant featuring terrace seating; two specialty restaurants serving lunch and dinner, a pool bar and grill, a café kiosk and a lobby lounge and bar. Recreational amenities will include a 13,500  square-foot health club and spa featuring 18 treatment rooms, saunas, steam rooms, a beauty salon, a spa shop and a fitness center. 

Water sports activities will include a swimming pool, jet-skiing, diving, snorkeling and fishing.  A kids club will be located near the spa.  Golf will be available at an 18-hole golf course and clubhouse included in the  overall complex. Additionally, the resort will have a business center.

For conferences and social events, the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa will boast more than 5,500 square feet of flexible meeting space.  Included will be a ballroom offering  more than 3,000 square feet and three meeting rooms in varying configurations.

Mexico's tribunal taps Calderón despite fraud claims
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mexico's top electoral court has officially declared conservative Felipe Calderón the winner of the nation's hotly contested presidential election.

In a statement released Tuesday, the country's Tribunal Federal de Elecciones said Calderon won the most votes in the July 2 election, narrowly beating leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Under Mexican law, the tribunal's ruling cannot be appealed.

Costa Rican President Óscar Arias Sánchez, himself a player in a tight election this year, telephoned Calderón to congratulate him and express the hope for continued close relations between the two countries, according to Casa Presidencial.

López Obrador, a center leftist, and his supporters had challenged the preliminary results. They claimed massive voter fraud, and have vowed not to concede defeat.

The election and claims of fraud have divided Mexico. They represent a serious challenge to the country's fledgling democracy, just six years after President Vicente Fox's dramatic victory ended decades of one-party rule.

López Obrador's supporters have camped out in the capital's historic Zocalo square for weeks. The leftist leader says he intends to establish a parallel government. He is calling for a big turnout at a rally to endorse his plan on Sept. 16, Mexico's independence day.

Mexico's new president will take office Dec. 1, when Vicente Fox steps down at the end of his six-year term.
López Obrador has been portrayed both as a champion of the poor and a left-wing populist leader. He has denied accusations of ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Finishing second to Felipe Calderon in this year's election, Lopez Obrador won the support of Mexico's impoverished community. As mayor, he distributed checks to single mothers and the elderly, and he built public works projects to generate jobs.

A former member of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional that ruled Mexico for 71 years, he joined the Democratic Revolution Party in 1988. He ran as the candidate of the Partido de la Revolución Democrática

During the campaign, López Obrador pledged to use subsidies, wage increases and public works to enrich Mexico's impoverished class.

Like his father Luis, who helped found the Partido Acción Nacional, Calderón has been an influential member of the party, serving as its president.

During this year's presidential election campaign, Calderón won the support of Mexico's business leaders. A Harvard-educated lawyer, he has pledged to continue Fox's conservative economic policies. He also has pledged to battle crime and attract new investments that would create jobs and help resolve social issues.

During the campaign, he criticized political rival López Obrador, accusing him of having ties to leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Although election officials banned Calderon's advertisements describing López Obrador as a danger to Mexico, the allegations still dogged his rival.

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