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These stories were published Thursday, Sept. 16, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 184
Jo Stuart
About us
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Liceo de Costa Rica student bears the colors.
A.M. Costa Rica photo
José Francisco Avalos Hernández, 2, wears a sailor's uniform.
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Saray 
Ramírez Vindas
A member of the traditional group Pais Pujagüa takes a spin.
More Independence Day photos are HERE! 

Rodríguez to restructure OAS to save money
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodríguez took office Wednesday as secretary general of the Organization of American States and announced a restructuring of the organization to reflect in a more efficient way the priorities of the member states and to address its financial constraints.

Rodríguez underscored the need to focus the work of the general secretariat on challenges to meet "the highest ideals of peace, justice, freedom and prosperity for the Americas."

"In order to achieve those ideals, we will work especially hard in the areas of human rights, democracy and conflict resolution, integral development and the fight against poverty, as well as the multidimensional aspects of security for all the people of our hemisphere," he said. 

Under the new organizational structure, the OAS General Secretariat will have seven major operational areas, four of which will oversee the organization’s priority topics: human rights, democratic and political affairs, integral development and multidimensional security. The other three provide administrative and financial support, communications and outreach, and legal services.

Rodríguez said the streamlined structure, which reduces the number of directorships, will result in "considerable and necessary savings" of over $2 million per year for the OAS General Secretariat, which faces a budgetary shortfall of nearly $1 million in the current budget year and some $5 million next year.

Organization of American States photo 
Miguel Ángel Rodríguez at the OAS

The new structure consolidates certain departments and areas. For example, the human rights area coordinator will provide administrative and political support to the secretariats of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as well as the Inter-American Children’s Institute and the Inter-American Commission of Women. According to Rodríguez, the administrative change will have no effect on the independence of the inter-American human rights system.

The secretary general said the changes would take effect immediately and would help the General Secretariat carry out its short- and long-term mandates. "We all have a great responsibility to the peoples of this hemisphere and we must not let them down," he said.

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Court here rejects
Mexican inmate’s plea

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The San José-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights has refused to hear the case of a man allegedly tortured and wrongly imprisoned for murder in Mexico 12 years ago. 

The court says it cannot hear the case of Alfonso Martin del Campo because it dates back to 1992,  six years before Mexico accepted the court's jurisdiction. The court issued the decision earlier this month but announced it on Tuesday. 

Martin del Campo, who holds dual U.S. and Mexican citizenship, was sentenced to 50 years in prison for murdering his sister and her husband.  Human rights groups say he was tortured into confessing. 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a related body in the Organization of American States, has recommended that the Mexican government release Martin del Campo and provide compensation. 

Comedy to open
theatrical season

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Little Theatre Group's Season Opener will be "The Cemetery Club" by Ivan Menchell.

Directed by Sheila McCann Morrison and Tom Humes, assistant director, this comedy stars Barbara Adams, Lisa DeFuso, and Susan Hall Liang as three middle-aged widows. 

One is dedicated to the memory of her husband, the other is an outrageous flirt, and the third is beginning to realize that life can offer more than widowhood. 

Throw in among the ladies Harry Towne, one of group’s experienced comedians, plus girlfriend Randy Gritz, who is making her acting debut, and the plot gains complexity.

"The Cemetery Club" opens Friday Oct. 8, and plays for three weekends. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Reservations may be made at 355-1623 or on line HERE!

Campaign planned
against fin trade

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A confederation of 15 organizations opposed to the taking of shark fins by fishermen plan to kick off their campaign in Puntarenas Friday at 9 a.m. 

The confederation said that tons of shark fins are being unloaded onto private Costa Rican docks because the government is not exercising its responsibility to oversee such operations. 

Radio reporter killed
by Dominican gang

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

AZUA, Dominican Republic — Police here say suspected gang members attacked two radio journalists Tuesday, killed one of them and seriously wounded the other. 

Officials say the attack that killed radio reporter Juan Andujar occurred in this town of Azua, 120 kms. (75 miles) south of the capital, Santo Domingo. The other reporter, Luis Sencion, was taken to the hospital. 

Authorities say police had earlier engaged the suspected gang members in a gun battle that left four of the gangsters dead. 

Two alleged gang members escaped that gunfight and went to the radio station where they shot the reporters. Police say the assailants are still at large.

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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Costa Ricans really celebrate independence!
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Traditional costumes for those who want to clown around.
A.M. Costa Rica photos
Students from the Escuela Naciones Unites mass their Costa Rican flags during the San José parade Wednesday.

Pacheco upbeat in Independence talk at Cartago
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Under a mostly sunny sky, Costa Ricans celebrated their independence Wednesday morning with parades all over the country.

In Cartago, the nation’s first capitol, President Abel Pacheco said that the citizens of the country are constructing the future, not the president and his cabinet. No one can be indifferent to the present and future of the country, he said.

In the mostly upbeat speech, Pacheco outlined what his 28-month-old administration has accomplished. He promised to defend public education and social security, as well as pensions.

Although Pacheco once again urged passage of a $500 million tax package now in the legislature, he made no mention of the free trade treaty with the United States, which he has yet to send to the legislature.

Pacheco also was critical of corruption and praised the independent court and judicial system. Pacheco and his political party, the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana, have been embarrassed by a growing 

financial scandal that even reaches to a former president from the same party.

The scandal continued to make news Wednesday, even as Pacheco was talking at the Cartago assembly. The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad reacted to news reports that one of its employees had received money from a Panamá corporation that is at the center of the scandal.

The electrical and telecommunications conglomerate said that it would take internal action to see if the employee, identified as Rodrigo Méndez Soto, really did get money from Matchwood Holding Co. 

Pacheco, when he was a legislator in 2001, was among those who voted to allow the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social to accept a $39 million loan from Finland for the purpose of purchasing medical equipment from that country.

Some $8 million of the loan proceeds appears to have been paid as a commission to those close to the Caja, the nation’s primary social welfare agency, as well as a list of other politically prominent people including the ex-president, Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier, who served from 1990 to 1994.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
The buglers came from the Colegio Seminario.
A.M. Costa Rica photos
This fellow seems to have celebrated too much Tuesday night — to the surprise of children along Avenida 2.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Students from the Escuela Buenaventura Corrales, the so-called Escuela Metalica because it is constructed of steel.

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Even more flags! 

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Jo Stuart
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