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These stories were published Friday, Sept. 13, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 182
Jo Stuart
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Independence Day is time for a patriotic dress

Sunday is Independence day, and Luz Marina at a Mercado Central shop displays her patriotic dresses. Marchers will be out in force Sunday, and 6 p.m. is the time to stand curbside and sing the national anthem.

Political events are scheduled in San José and Cartago Saturday and 
Sunday, while schools kids have Monday off.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Pacheco seeks to end
tax evasion culture 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The bulk of the Costa Ricans are indifferent to the management and use of their tax dollars, and this indifference results in tolerance toward tax evaders, according to President Abel Pacheco.

"I call on all those taxpayers to abandon the indifference over the use and ends of the money they pay for taxes," Pacheco said as also called on the public to eliminate their hostility toward taxes.

Pacheco was speaking at a morning meeting with the contralor general of the Repúblic where experts have been hard at work conducting studies and analyses of the Costa Rican tax system.

The meeting was a time to report that the seven-chapter report was finished. 

The meeting and the report blend nicely with Pacheco’s goal of increasing taxes and tightening up the system.

Pacheco said the report would be helpful in better understanding the attitudes of the public and was a step forward in creating a positive tax culture in Costa Rica.

A number of Costa Ricans don’t like to pay taxes because they believe that the quality of the service they get from the government is inadequate, said the president. Others do not like their tax money going for the extensive social programs run by the state, he said.

Pacheco said that he understood the dissatisfaction Costa Ricans feel about taxes. When a taxpayer sees the shameless way that some public servants take advantage of their positions to steal the public money, their blood runs cold, said Pacheco.

The solution is to pay the taxes and, at the same time, demand honesty in the management of funds, austerity in spending and efficiency in actions, he said.

Pacheco took over a government deep in debt where politicians spend 30 percent more each year than they collect. They finance the shortfall with more debt. He has proposed a short-term and a long-term solution.

National deputies are trying to craft a plan of tax increases. The major proposals are for increases in business taxes, now in the 40 percent range,  and the cost of running businesses. A value-added tax may or may not be passed, but certainly some increase in the current 13 percent sales tax will be approved.

No decisions have been made, but trial balloons have been floated about taxing foreign income, cigarettes, alcohol and the purchase of luxury cars. 

The report by the Contraloría was drafted by academics. The report says that Costa Rica will face challenges due to the demands of international treaties and in other areas. Also studied by the report is the income from the customs service.

Costa Rica has a complex and time-consuming tax system. The bulk of the reporting still runs on paper. Although each transaction must generate official receipts bearing a company’s tax number, the Dirección General de Tributación has no way to check but a fraction of the forms submitted.

Many sales are not reported and many incomes are deliberately understated. 

Pacheco’s proposals have caused concern in the expat community because residents here fear their foreign incomes will be taxed twice. However, no decisions have yet been made by deputies on this topics.

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

With A Little Help from My Friends 

I am delighted to hear from readers. Some of you are under the impression that I know a lot about Costa Rica. Now that I think about it, I guess the title of this column would imply that. The fact is, I don’t know nearly what one would expect after living here 10 years. Apropos of that, I want to share what my readers know.

Roland Shanklin has a recommendation for a lawyer: She is Ericka Montoya. Roland writes, "I've known her for many years. She's young, enthusiastic, honest, and, can you believe, writes everything down and always gets back to me. She speaks excellent English. You can call her at work (276-6891) or on her cell phone  (395-0500)."

Evelyn Dodero has some food recommendations: "In San Ramon, across the street from PALI is a small arcade that has a little fish market on the right hand side. Sandra makes a delicious fresh cheviche. I love it. Large is 400 colones and small is 300 colones. In the same clean colorful arcade is Soda Gaby’s with good food at good prices. This is REAL Costa Rica, a nice side trip for folks going to Zarcero or San Carlos. It is small but interesting." 

I have no idea where San Ramon is, so you see how little I know about Costa Rica. Regarding what people take home from Costa Rica, Bonnie Hano says "I don't agree about the new smoked tuna. Even though it's not nearly as good as the large cans with the picante, it is still good, and I am hoarding mine. But I did use a can last week for pasta for the two of us and really, Jo, it was awfully good." (I feel obligated to add that I gave her that recipe.)

She also takes back Costa Rican cinnamon. She says, "The stuff we get here (California) doesn't compare. I also bring albahaca (dried basil). It's cheap and has a wonderful basil flavor. Los Patitos Black Pepper, both peppercorns and ground, is better than any I've tasted except maybe what is sometimes found in specialty stores." (I will add that you could stock your spice cabinet very cheaply here. And most of the spices and herbs come in small packets so they won't lose their potency before you use them.)

I also heard from two readers about Lizano sauce. I can’t find their letters now, but Marco said I failed to mention it. It was his tactful way of telling me I had spelled it Lisano. And there were some guaro lovers who regret not taking back a case of the stuff. Evidently guaro is the local legal moonshine. It is made from cane sugar. My editor can tell you more about that.

Then there are the pet peeves. Remember the habit Ticos have of honking as soon as the light has changed? Shirley Yamada told me a story that still has me chuckling: She assures me this really happened, "My husband recently drove up to a red light. Another car pulled up in the lane next to him. When the light turned green, the man honked, and he was the first in line. He had automatically honked — at himself!"

Annetta Kaufman is still upset about being a clutterer. Another problem she has, she says, is doing too many things at once — and that leads to clutter. I never thought of the connection. I always have half a dozen unfinished activities going on at once. People who do that I call "jugglers," and those who finish one chore and go on to the next, are "beeliners." I wasn’t surprised that I, too, am a juggler. It must be in the genes because Annetta is my sister. The gene must skip a generation because my mother and my daughter, Lesley definitely are not clutterers.

Thank you, everybody who contributed to this column. I must go now and finish making breakfast, put the laundry in the spinner, and finish putting my stuff away in my newly tiled, newly painted, newly clean apartment. I am so happy to be back home! 

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THE ART BEAT: Hans Doller: a work in progress
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If you get the opportunity one day to sit down and talk to this German man who moved 26 years ago to Miami Fla., you probably will just consider him one more 1970s hippie.

He probably was. Certainly he lived by selling his works on the street.

That characterization is no way to understand his sense of humor that combines with his feeling for colors and his inspiration and creativity.

As he says himself, "Art for me is not supposed to be restricted by anything. Art is the freedom to explore anything, sin limites. I believe the only constant . . . in the Universe is change, and for me the only conscience is thrown out with colors. 

In many ways Doller is reflective of the many people who come here from everywhere. Doller now speaks English with an American accent, and his son, Hans, speaks like a Miami beachboy.  They moved here five years ago.

Doller loves Costa Rica, especially the people and the freedom that this country affords to everyone, but particularly artists.

He uses many techniques and experiments heavily when he paints: From a simple drawing, the basics of all else, to acrylic, watercolors, oil and other self-taught media. 

Something what is really amazing about this universal artist is how he decided at 4 years of age that he was going to be a painter, strange in a family  where no one else had demonstrated this talent.

If you have desire, you can make it happened, he said. 

At the age of 16, he started to travel around Europe and America and twice around the world, all the time experimenting and challenging himself by working with metal, wood and other substances. 

Finally here in Costa Rica. Doller said he thinks that for an artist the environment is always an influence. He confesses 

Doller with distinctively 70s couple 

to be an admirer of nature, colors and beauty, which he defines as a freedom.

Oil painting is one of his favorite means of expression. His paintings are rich in colors and expression. He loves to use strong and bright  colors to express with humor what is inside his mind . Even for him it is difficult to explain what he is doing. Frequently the work is a fusion of the abstract, the surrealistic and the humorist.

The next project for Doller is to work together with a Costa Rican painter, Ana Isabel Martín. They will paint together and experiment, he said.

Now enjoy the little photo gallery we made for you, A.M Costa Rica’s special readers. 

A.M. Costa Rica photos by Saray Ramírez Vindas

Experts predict more 
El Niño-like weather

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted Thursday that the El Niño climate pattern will persist into 2003, creating unusual weather patterns in various areas around the globe. They also found that this incarnation of El Niño is milder than its occurrence in 1997 through 1998, when it caused severe weather and violent storms.

The administration issued the findings in a Washington briefing as the agency delivered its long-range outlook for U.S. weather through the upcoming autumn and winter.

"The El Niño conditions that have persisted for months will be at moderate strength through the end of 2002 and into early 2003," said Administrator Conrad C. Lautenbacher.

"We’ve had our eyes on this El Niño for months, and understand it well enough to predict its likely climate impacts months in advance," said Jim Laver, director of Climate Prediction Center, the office which has been tracking the weather pattern since its earliest formative stages in 2001 in the tropical Pacific. 

An El Niño typically begins with consecutive months of warmer than normal sea-surface temperatures and abnormally heavy rainfall in areas of South America.

Long standing observation has given the administration the basis for a global prediction on likely weather impacts. For example, Central America and Mexico have been experiencing dry conditions since last spring, while northern Brazil will likely be dry in the months ahead. 

Honduran authorities
form child murder unit 

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -— The government here has agreed to form a specific unit of police detectives to investigate the murder of children and youth, according to Casa Alianza.

As international pressure grows to demand a governmental response to the more than 1,350 children and youth murdered since January 1998 in the country of 5 million people. Oscar Alvarez, the minister of public security, announced the formation of a group of five detectives from the General Directorate of Criminal Investigation. 

These detectives, who will be known as the Special Unit for Child Deaths, have been given an initial 15 cases by Casa Alianza, the Honduran Institute of Children's and Family Affairs, to investigate as a start to measure their effectiveness. All the cases include the murder of children by the police.

The director of the Directorate visited Casa Alianza in Tegucigalpa recently to discuss the shortcomings of the investigations and to promise to make these cases a priority. Casa Alianza said the new unit is an important political step forward but will measure the effectiveness in the number of cases brought to trial in the courts.

The minister also established a supervisory commission to monitor investigations and to advise the special unit. Representatives from Casa Alianza, the National Human Rights commissioner, the Public Ministry and the Supreme Court, will integrate this commission.

The United Nations has still not issued the findings of Asma Jahangir, the special rapporteur on arbitrary, summary and extra judicial executions, who visited Honduras more than a year ago to document the killings of children and youth. More than 650 children have been murdered since her visit, according to Casa Alianza.

Democracy to be subject
of celebration

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States will hold a special session Monday to celebrate the first anniversary of the adoption of a charter that promotes democracy in the Americas.

Among the speakers at the special session in Washington will be Roger Noriega, U.S. ambassador to the organization and chairman of the Permanent Council. Other speakers will include Alejandro Toledo, president of Peru, Cesar Gaviria, organization secretary general, Didier Opertti, Uruguayan foreign minister, and Elaine White, Costa Rican foreign minister.

Those officials will speak in praise of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which was adopted at a special session of the organization General Assembly in Lima, Peru, Sept. 11, 2001. It affirms the right of all people of the Americas to democracy, defines the essential elements of democratic systems, and establishes guidelines to defend democracy when it is at risk.

Diego Garcia Sayan, Peruvian foreign minister, who presided over that meeting of the General Assembly in Lima, said the charter is a "unique document" that "constitutes a multilateral and collective guarantee for the preservation and defense of democracy."

Noriega described the charter as a "significant, historic" document that reflects a broad hemispheric consensus on "the political values that are the building blocks of democratic life."

He cited Haiti and Venezuela as nations where the charter might be expected to play a prominent role in helping the host governments and civil society promote and reinforce democratic principles.

The charter was signed the same day terrorists struck targets in the United States. Colin Powell, U.S. secretary of state, who was in Lima for the signing of the document, cut short his visit to return to the United States.

But before he left, Powell said that "a terrible, terrible tragedy has befallen my nation ... has befallen all those who believe in democracy."

The organization said the terrorist attacks changed the tone of the Lima meeting, which opened with a moment of silence for the victims, but not its central purpose to promote democracy in the region.

Toledo will be the featured speaker at a conference immediately following the special session of the organization Permanent Council. His address is entitled "The Americas in the Promoting and Defense of Democracy."

Vigil to be held here
for Middle East peace

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Committee for Peace and Justice in the Middle East and the Friends Peace Center are hosting a vigil Wednesday in aid of peace in the Middle East.

The event will take place at the Friends Peace Center on Calle 15, between Avenidas 6 and 8.

"We are focusing on the long suffering people of Israel and Palestine, the war in Afghanistan and the impending war in Iraq," said Ann Marie Saidy, an event organizer.

People from different faiths and other friends of peace will be present offering their reflections. There will be a poetry reading from Flora Sasa, prayers, music as well as Middle Eastern food.

Ms. Saidy said she hopes to have the support of public institutions, human rights organizations, university unions and a host of religious groups.

Rain likely today
in all Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weathermen are predicting rain all over Costa Rica today because there is a tropical front passing over the country and a tropical depression in the gulf of México.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the rain will be of short duration in the Limón area during the morning. For the rest of the country the rain will continue most of the day and night.

The weather officials held out hope of improvements for the weekend, particularly for Sunday when a lot of the Independence Day activities will be out of doors.

Three men stick up 
Heredia gun shop

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three men held up a gun shop Thursday afternoon in Heredia.

They took a mixture of handguns and a carbine.

Police said the trio, armed with .38-caliber pistols, entered the Armix shop about 1:30 p.m. and after pulling guns on the employees helped themselves to eight pistols and two .22 caliber rifles.

Diplomats get gas
without paying tax

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Foreign diplomats in Costa Rica will not have to pay gasoline tax under a proposal passed on second reading by the Asemblea Nacional. 

The legislative measure rectifies an oversight in an earlier law, according to the Minister de Relations Exteriors y Cult. Costa Rica will make out because the law is reciprocal: Costa Rican diplomats will not have to pay gasoline taxed in other countries where the tax may be much higher, said the ministry.

The tax break also applies to international organizations. The ministry provides foreign diplomatic missions with coupons so gasoline can be purchased without paying the tax.

Uribe defends 
expanded military

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services 

BOGOTA, Colombia — President Alvaro Uribe defended his decision to expand military powers in dealing with his country's warring factions Wednesday. Human rights groups argue the new measures will encroach on civil liberties, but will do little to increase security. 

The government announced the decrees Tuesday under a state of emergency clause. They mark the most severe measures to date in the president's campaign to restore law and order to the war-torn countryside.

The decrees allow the military to impose tight travel restrictions, and to hamper access to conflict zones by foreigners. They also give the police a free hand to arrest suspects without a warrant, and to tap phones with just a verbal authorization from a judge.

Many citizens applauded the temporary measures saying they would help curtail abuses by the country's largest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Uribe took office a month ago on promises to wipe out rebel kidnappings and extortion.

But human rights advocates were more cautious. The military still hasn't severed ties with right-wing paramilitary death squads, they argue, and can't be trusted with new powers.

Speaking to reporters, Uribe welcomed these objections as part of the democratic process. "The measures aren't meant to silence controversy," he said, "but to face up to terrorism."

The president made his remarks just before boarding a plane for New York, where he will attend a U. N. general assembly, and push for further international aid for his country's Armed Forces.
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Feliz Día de Independencia, Costa Rica!
People young in age and
in spirit posed for these
Independence Day tributes
at a party hosted by the Association of 
Residents of Costa Rica  Sunday.



Those wishing you a festive holiday include:

Jerry Karl
José Carter
Yvette Arías de Karl
Bob & Elsa Miller
Vicky Kieke
Shirley & Allan Weir
Walter & Ruth Jerde
Ana Hernández
Mannique Gómez
Adam Cahan
Summer Martin, Adam, Jillian
Chris Ling
Yves Robillard
Phil Rawson
Helen D. Marek
Maria José Salazar Carrajal
Kristel Salazar Carvajal
Humberto Camacho Pérez
Ana Lucía Arrieto Sancho
Gilberth Phillips Brenes
José Francisco Arrieto Sancho
Michelle Hall Alvarado
Federíco Carballo U.
Natalia Lucía Cuevos Herren
Daniel Arrieta Sancho
Carlos Felípe Montero Morales
Francina Quesada
Paul Conrad

Photos by Saray Ramírez Vindas, Bryan Kay and Christian Burnham.

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