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These stories were published Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 178
Jo Stuart
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This bottle, empty though it is, takes up a lot of space
Osa group begins garbage fight over bottles
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Women of Osa, a group of residents in the region, is concerned that a recent decision by the Coca Cola distributor to sell its products in plastic bottles will overwhelm the already shaky garbage collection system in the region.  As a result, they have given the Coca Cola distributor an ultimatum: recycle your products or lose customers.

Coca Cola FEMSA S.A. is the Latin American bottler of products under license from the U.S.-based Coca Cola Co.

U.N. maps environmental campaigns

The Women of Osa is comprised of at least seven hotel owners in the region.  According to a statement by the group, the owners are concerned that the decision by Coca Cola will increase garbage substantially. 

“The new policy of Coca Cola is based on lowering production costs. We all understand that this is the logical position in the business world, as we all know, being business owners ourselves. However, policy decisions have to be responsible as well as economical,” the group wrote. 

The group said that if Coca-Cola is going to burden the small communities with the extra garbage, it is the responsibility of the company to minimize the effect of that extra waste.  The Osa Peninsula on the Pacific coast in southwest Costa Rica is realtively isolated.

The group said it sent a list of actions appropriate for the company to take.  The list sent to Jorge Barahona, the southern zone
representative of the company, reads as follows:
1. The full payment of a new recycling center, valued at $5,000.

2. The training to the members of the community.

3. The guarantee by Coca Cola that the company will collect the plastic of the
recyling center.

4. The guarantee by the distributor that the plastic will be recycled and will not become
garbage in another part of the country.

The owners pointed out that a recycling facility already exists in Puerto Jiménez but needs to be expanded.  That facility is managed by students in the area, the group wrote.  

The hotel owners said that if the company had not responded by Sept. 1, the group would stop buying Coca Cola products and switch to Pepsi.  They added that it is important to recognize that “this is not a boycott against Coca Cola, and there is not any other reason, interest or policy, except to boycott garbage.

"We all know that practically all the companies are using disposable products, some of them even more than Coca Cola. What we are trying to do with this, is to set a precedent and to negotiate agreements with all those companies that bring us garbage, for  the benefit of all the communities. We want these companies to accept their responsibility and be involved in the solutions that will help communities.”

Lana Wedmore, the owner of the Luna Lodge and a member of the Women of Osa, said that the company did indeed contact the group but nothing substantial has happened yet.  They are still talking, she said. Barahona could not be reached for comment at the distributor.   

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 178

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Our readers opinions
Does the First World
get special treatment?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Am I alone, or particularly heartless and cynical to suggest that if a similar hurricane (typhoon) were to hit Bangladesh, as they regularly do, and cause the deaths of tens of thousands of people, as they regularly do and, the loss of everything the citizens own, as they regularly do that, the “First World” and even the “Second World” would print no more than a short story in the morning papers on an inside page which would be forgotten in days altogether?

The First World (I hesitate to single out the U.S.A.) has wealth beyond belief, state aid and private insurances that in time will reinstate most of the physical loss. Whilst nothing can bring back the dead or deal with the emotional loss so readily (grief such as this is a nightmare shared by all, regardless of their nationality), where is the global response to these or similar catastrophic events when they happen in Bangladesh in Niger or wherever?

When did the citizens of New Orleans answer the pleas for help in the way they “demand” is offered to them? Who fed the starving or replaced the homes of these victims?

Is there, one rule for the “First World” and another for the “Third World”?

If a catastrophe occurs in C.R. (and lets be brutally honest here, an earthquake is a distinct probability) will the First World and the U.S.A. be running to our help in the same way? I THINK NOT !

This is intentionally a very hardline letter intended to provoke thought and debate and hopefully to remind people how they should similarly react to such events in other parts of the world less able to broadcast their plight by satellite TV, and I would stress that I am horrified by the events in New Orleans and wish them every practical support and help to which they are entitled.

I hope you might consider printing it, or an edited version, or perhaps you could use it to frame an editorial piece. We must learn from New Orleans, not wallow in pity. Please respond to me if you feel I am wrong.

Graham Cox

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aid efforts in the Third World by the First World are legion. Note that the United States even has offered a field hospital in the wake of the fire at Hospital Calderón Guardia.

Bush shames us all

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In reponse to Marvin Powell. I am anti using a tragedy such as 9/11 for purely political motives. It shames us all that he [George Bush] uses every opportunity for PHOTO OPS and nothing more. His care of and for the people has been all too evident over the past almost five years. An attempt to confuse my feelings about such a vulgar display with anti-Bushism, anti-Americanism is not only unacceptable but incorrect. I love America, but I do not like what the cowboy has done to it.

And to suggest that I, in ANY way accused Bush of causing the hurricane is ridiculous. Though his stance on the Kyoto Protocol, his hiring of men to black out and eliminate scientific research on global warming, at taxpayers expense, along with his “energy policies” speaks quite well to the problems that he and his administration refuse to face and want the general public to be ignorant of!
Pat Schmit
Pérez Zeledón

New Orleans needs the help

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It was with great sadness that I read the letter from Rebecca Baitty regarding an offer from Mr. Perrochet for accomodations to those from the United States unable to return to their homes due to hurricane Katrina.  I do not know Mr. Perrochet, nor am I familiar with his operation.  I would like to remind Ms. Baitty that the destruction in New Orleans is of epic proportions.  The entire city has been evacuated.  All of its residents across all socio-economic classes have been left homeless. 

Yes, some residents have the means to negotiate and navigate with ease to find housing and relocate to other cities, but, nevertheless, they are emotionally devastated.  They have lost family members, friends, homes and businesses.  Everyone who called New Orleans home is suffering.  Everyone who loved New Orleans from around the world is grieving for the human loss and the loss (let us hope temporarily) of a city rich with a uniquely American culture. 

Does Ms. Baitty really believe that the kind offer of rooms to those unable to go home was made for economic gain?  For many of these families any home, anywhere, at this time would be appreciated.  I think most residents of the United States would join me in extending a thank you to everyone in Costa Rica who has offered assistance in any form to our friends and family members from New Orleans, regardless of their economic means.  I believe Costa Rican families would feel shame to hear the criticism of a gift given to those in need at such a terrible time. 

A phrase we commonly use in the United States is, “never look a gift horse in the mouth.”  Mr. Perrochet’s offer was a simple gift to those in need.  Perhaps Ms. Baitty might take the time from her busy schedule of relocating to Costa Rica, give Mr. Perrochet a call and say, “thank you.”
J. Cecil
Birmingham. Alabama

He backs Perrochet

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding the offer of lodging to Katrina’s victims by George Perrochet at Bahia Luminosa: I find it hard to believe someone could suspect a charitable action like that, especially by someone who’s been here all of three months.

Rather, I would hope other hotels and possibly airlines would join this offer of concern in this terrible tragedy. Costa Rica has much to offer, but at this time these people need the basics and we should offer that. This is not a time to gauge the response by other governments but a time for us all, and especially Americans, to do what we can do on an individual basis.  The fact that Mr. Perrochet owns a hotel and offered lodging to the homeless is his contribution. How can someone construe that as self-centered?

I have lived a few miles from Bahia Luminosa for 15 years, and I have seen Mr. Perrochet contribute to the local culture and residents countless times, so I am offended to see his offer denigrated like that.

I wish I could have figured out Costa Rica and its residents in three months, but anyway, welcome and pura vida.
Jim Loren

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U.N. releases guidebook on environmental campaigns
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is hosting an international conference on sustainable consumption and production that features the release of a new guidebook from the United Nations on how to set up communications campaigns on environmental and development issues.

The U.N. Environment Program said more than 160 experts representing 75 countries are attending the meeting this week in San José to establish ways to improve international cooperation and assistance on such issues as tackling waste, pollution and other environmental problems.

The 68-page guidebook includes information about a new ozone-layer awareness campaign being produced in Costa Rica, a dengue-reduction campaign in Brazil, an "Environment Train" exhibition in Algeria that introduced residents of that country to national policy on environmental issues and a series on pesticide pollution in Vietnam.  A London-based communications consulting firm, Futerra Sustainability Communications Ltd., helped produce the book.

The environmental program said its book, "Communicating Sustainability: How to Produce Effective Public Campaigns," provides national and local governments with strategies on how to carry out the publicity campaigns on environment and development.

Klaus Toepfer, executive director of the program, said in a foreword to the guidebook that the effects of "our consumption patterns are no longer vague and invisible," adding: "Public communication has a key role to play to make sustainable development
approachable and understandable.  Informed, motivated and committed people can help us to achieve our sustainability goals."

According to Toepfer: "Communicating effectively about sustainable lifestyles is a challenge.  One needs to consider not only what to communicate, but how to communicate it.  The lesson to be learned is that communication styles have to be positive and tailored to different circumstances and cultural contexts."

The event here in San José is formally called the "Second International Expert Meeting on the 10-Year Framework of Programs on Sustainable Consumption and Production."

The first such meeting, held in June 2003 in Marrakech, Morocco, concluded that more effective publicity was needed to explain to the general public the benefits of sustainable consumption and production.  That 2003 meeting launched the so-called "Marrakech Process," which includes regular global and regional meetings supported by informal expert task forces and roundtables to promote progress on sustainable development.

Monique Barbut, director of the program's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, said better methods are needed to inform and motivate consumers about the benefits of sustainable consumption.

"Persuading people to adopt environmentally-friendly lifestyles is one of the challenges that environmental authorities around the world face today," she said.

The full text of the book is available in English, French and Spanish on the environmental program's Web site.

Two fugitives from Europe taken into custody in separate operations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two fugitives fell into the hands of law enforcement Wednesday in two different incidents. Both were coordinated by the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad and the International Police Agency (INTERPOL) with the support of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Agents arrested Colombian Rafael Lasso Gómez, 44, as he drove through Sabana Wednesday morning.  Gomez was wanted on a warrant alleging jewelry theft in France, agents said.

According to reports, a gang of South Americans stole from a Paris jewelry store the morning of Sept. 10, 2001.  The four elegantly dressed robbers made off with a diamond necklace valued at 32,226 euros, agents said.  A short time later, the gang robbed a ticket booth of 6,800 euros and fled in a car, investigators said.     

The four were arrested that same day in a garden near the Eiffel Tower, police said.  Gómez had a fake Colombian passport, 6,000 Italian liras, 10,000 francs, a portable computer, and the stolen necklace, Paris police said.  Immigration officials learned in February 2005 that Lasso had entered Costa Rica through a flight from Panama.  Officials are making

Manuel Zaratin

Rafael Lasso Gómez

arrangements to extradite him to Colombia, they said.  Agents did not make clear how Gómez managed to get out of police hands in Paris.

Agents in Sámara managed to capture an Italian wanted in his country for drug trafficking, they said.  The man, Manuel Zaratin, operated a mechanic shop in the Pacific coast town.  Italian investigatrors claim he was part of a large cocaine trafficking ring. 

Agents said Zaratin has a seven-year, one-month jail sentence to serve in Italy.  He entered the country for the first time in March of 2004 through the United States and left once in March of this year to Nicaragua.

Hospital job draws four firms

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four companies have submitted bids to demolish the fire ravaged section of Hospital Calderón Guardia and to do repair work on air conditioning and supply lines. The job is expected to cost $1 million.

The work is being paid for by the Fondo Nacional de Emergencias, and it was the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias that announced the bid qualification process Wednesday.

The structure in north San José was damaged heavily by fire July 12, and 19 persons died.

The contractor that is chosen to do the work also will build a corridor on the hospital grounds.

The supply lines include electricity, oxygen, nitrogen, water, and air conditioning pipes, the commission said. 

One concern, said the commission is that the contractor raise as little dust as possible in the demolition process.

An agency of the commission will study the qualifications of the contractors who have expressed interest in the job.

New Orleans consulate opened

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has opened a temporary consulate in Hammond, La., to field problems and inquires by Costa Ricans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The office is on the grounds of the  Southeastern Louisiana University.

The office has the telephone number (985) 549-5454 and the cellular number (504) 723-4043. The e-mail is consulcrno@hotmail.com.  The office is about an hour from New Orleans, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

Costa Rican officials estimate that there were from 1,000 to 2,000 of their citizens in the area hardest hit by the hurricane.

Big harvest of marijuana

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officers destroyed almost 100,000 marijuana plants they found in a hard to reach area near Corredores in the south of the country, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. 

Some of the plants were almost six feet tall, officers said.  Despite the number of the plants, officers said they were unable to arrest anybody.  

The crop was the largest that officers have found in the southern part of the country this year, they said.  The land was in an extremely difficult spot to reach and as a result, officers were forced to fly in in helicopters, they said. 

Officers said that the bust will be large blow to the drug market because the plants were ready to be harvested.  

A Taiwanese girl, dressed in tribal gear, is ready to participate in a festival. She is in one of the subjects of a photo exposition that will be inaugurated Sept. 19 at the Museo Calderón Guardia.  The show is called 'La Encantadora Taiwan' and is sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of China. The show runs until Oct. 11.

Costa Rica knocking
on door to World Cup

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican national team, as expected, defeated Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 Wednesday night, and all eyes are on Oct. 8 when a win against a visiting U.S. team will seal a place for the Ticos in the World Cup.

Costa Rica put itself solidly in third place in the North, Central American and Caribbean Conference.  The United States team already has qualified for a World
Cup slot, and México did so Wednesday by defeating Panamá with a rain of goals, 5-0.

Costa Rica needs just one win to seal its trip to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Meanwhile, the United States and Guatemala tied Wednesday. A win by Guatemala would have clouded the chances of the Costa Rican team.

The game against Trinidad was hardly in doubt after the first 14 minutes. That was the point when Costa Rica scored its first goal, coming from Álvaro Saborío. Wálter Centeno added an insurance point later in the game, which was played here in Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in Tíbas.

The Oct. 8 game against the United States will be here, too, and a big, strongly partisan crowd is guaranteed.

Torch enters nation Tuesday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Torch of Liberty is scheduled to enter Costa Rica Tuesday morning two days before it will arrive in Cartago as part of the Día de Independencia celebration. The torch is being carried by runners from Guatemala City. Thousands of students are participating

California foreign exchange deal leads to indictments
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Two Orange County, Calif., men have been arraigned on federal fraud charges stemming from their operation of a scheme that defrauded elderly and retired victims, many of whom lived in Orange County, out of nearly $1.7 million.

The men, Richard Francis Banville, 48, of Laguna Hills, and Harold William Howell, 57, of Rancho Santa Margarita, each pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud charges contained in a three-count indictment. The case against Banville and Howell this morning was assigned to U. S. District Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler, who scheduled an Oct. 25 trial.

Banville and Howell were arrested by federal authorities last week after they were indicted  Aug. 17 by a federal grand jury in Santa Ana. The indictment accuses them of conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, as well as two substantive counts of mail fraud. Banville has been ordered held without bond, and Howell was released Wednesday on a $50,000 bond.
Beginning in mid-1999 and continuing to approximately September 2000, Banville and Howell operated a company called Trading West, Inc., which was incorporated in Nevada and originally was based at Howell's residence. The firm was set up to solicit investments for foreign currency exchange trading. Banville was the president and Howell was the vice-president.

Promising huge returns on investments, Banville and Howell personally solicited investors, and promised returns of 10 percent to 40 percent per month. Prosecutors allege that the men took much of the money and diverted it to their own use.

Beginning in the summer of 2000, as the scheme was beginning to unravel, Banville and Howell solicited investors to put money in two new companies, Forex Group, Inc. and Hougland Howell, Inc., said the indictment. Once it became apparent to investors that their original money was lost, Banville and Howell represented to victims that the only way to recoup their money was to invest in the new companies, prosecutors said.

Jo Stuart
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