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Jo Stuart
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This stories were published first on Friday, Sept. 21, 2001
Woman shot
near congress

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman confronted a man trying to break into her car Wednesday about 6 p.m., and the man shot her.

The drama played out on Avenida 0 or Avenida Central at Calle 15 adjacent to the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly or national congress.

The Judicial Investigating Organization identified the women as Maricinela Arias Ramírez, 54. She was hospitalized with a bullet lodged in her neck near the spine, they said. She was in Hospital Calderón Guardia in stable condition, they said.

Full details are not available because police have not yet been able to interview the wounded woman. Workers in and around the legislative chamber knew of the shooting Thursday, but they said that the woman was not employed in that area. They said they had been told she was in the area visiting family.

Investigators said that the man was trying to open the parked vehicle when  the woman approached him, apparently to drive away in the car. The man shot her in the left cheek, and the bullet traveled through the cheek into the right side of the neck, said investigators.

The area is heavily guarded, but guard stations are positioned to the north and south of the legislative building. No guards are posted to the west of the building where a high wall protects the legislative compound. The west side of the street contains stores, offices and some living quarters. The street opens to the south on the Plaza of Democracy and the Bella Vista Fortress National Museum a few feet to the east.

This is the latest crime in the general area of downtown. A U.S. citizen was mugged a few blocks away Saturday night at 8:30 p.m., and a Costa Rican suffered the same fate the following day. Other foreigners have reported a rash of pickpocketings along the pedestrian boulevard that is Avenida Central.
Tell us about it

A.M.  Costa Rica would like to hear about reports of crime anywhere in Costa Rica.

Many foreigners refuse to go through the trouble of filing a complaint or a "denuncio" with the authorities. But you can send us an e-mail stating the circumstances.

The only way we can know if a problem exists is if we see repeated occurrences of a crime. 

Send your reports to:


A.M. Costa Rica photo
Workman joins figures atop National Monument

Most famous statue
getting spiffed up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The most famous statue in Costa Rica is being made ready for another century.

The National Monument commemorates the War of 1858 when the Central American nations repulsed William Walker, the U.S. adventurer. The monument shows Walker being bested by five women who represent the Central American nations.

Workers will need about four months to remove the corrosion and replace worn-away parts, according to José Antonio Martínez Quiros, who is in charge of the project.

The work is being done by the Muncipalidad de San José and the Centro de Investigación y Conservación del  Patrimonial Cultural.

The statue, made in France in 1891 was erected in 1895. It is one of several in National Park commemorating the victory of Costa Ricans over Walker. The park itself had recently been redone with some new trees planted and walkways fixed up.

The statue was the backdrop for televised Independence day activities at the park Saturday. Workmen began putting up scaffolding Monday and turned the base of the statue into a work area.

The bulk of the statue is the concrete and stone base bearing four bronze plaques. Only the figures on the top are bronze, and these are the figures that must be restored, according to the workmen. They could be seen scrapping and sanding Thursday.

The park is just south of the National Library, which itself is closed for renovations, and north of the Legislative Assembly and Avenida 1.

From the statue and the small plaza it dominates a visitor can look down on the new pedestrian mall that is being constructed from the park past the Legislative Assembly and the National Museum to the Costa Rican Court Complex at Avenida 6. That project, in the works for six months, probably will be done by Jan. 1. 

How life can change completely in a second
What doesn't kill you . . . .

The other day I visited my friend Bill in the Clinica Biblica. Among other things, we talked about how life can change in a flash. One minute you are a relatively secure on the merry-go-round of your life, and the next, youíre out on the floor, tossed from a horse, or hit by a car, and life becomes a roller-coaster with you painfully aware of your new vulnerability.

I left him with those cheerful thoughts and hurried toward Avenida 10, arriving at the corner at the same time as the Sabana Cementerio bus. I waved, not believing the bus driver would stop, but he did, and I climbed on, thanking him. 

I had taken two steps when suddenly the bus lurched forward with such force I went flying backwards, off my feet and out of my shoes, landing on the hump next to the driver, then down the stairs, head first. Several pairs of arms were grabbling me, attempting to put me upright.

"Cuidado, cuidado," I cried, sure something was broken and that pulling me up was not a good idea. But pull me up, they did and put me in a seat vacated by a young woman who was my main rescuer. She was gathering up the various things that had spilled from my purse, which I was more concerned about than my underwear. I became aware that the bus was moving at a tremendous speed. 

Just then the bus swerved from Avenida 10 onto Calle 5. The movement caused a spasm of pain and I could hear myself whimpering. I tried to sit up straight and show some dignity and whimpered again from another stab of pain. 

Suddenly we pulled to a thumping stop in front of the Caja. Heís won whatever race he was running, I thought. With some effort I stood up, preparing to leave. I searched in my wallet for bus fare, and 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

proffered it to the driver (just like we tip the hairdresser who has just made a mess of our hair). 

The driver waved the money away and told me to sit down. He said he would let me off at San Juan de Dios Hospital. The passengers became a chorus insisting I go to the hospital and make a denuncio. The driver wrote down his name and bus number so I could report him. I told the solicitous crowd that I would go to my own clinic. That satisfied everyone, and painfully I began to get off. A kind Chinese gentleman rushed forward to help me.

I sat down on the bus stop bench in a daze. I marveled at how clearly I seemed to remember every second on the bus. And, aside from the bad luck of having boarded the bus in the first place, how lucky I was! I had hit the soft part of my back, not my spine or my head. Nothing seemed to be broken.

Somewhat giddy, I hailed a taxi and headed home and soon to bed. The next day I felt a lot worse so my friend and neighbor, Darrylle, took me to Calderone hospital where I explained my situation. (In the States by now, I probably would have been explaining it to a lawyer.) 

In a short time I was called to a room labeled "Consultorio de Choque." In less than an hour I was examined, x-rayed, given a prescription for pain and inflammation and on my way. I would walk for a while, I decided. Thatís what the old me would have done.

Bush demands
quick surrender
of terrorists

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Bush has demanded Afghanistan's Taleban authorities immediately turn over Osama bin Laden and the leaders of his al-Qaida militant group. In a nationally-televised speech before a joint session of Congress Thursday, President Bush blamed the Saudi exile and his group as those behind last week's deadly terror attacks in the United States. 

He said the Taleban must also close al-Qaida militant camps. He said his demands are not open to negotiation. If these demands are not met, President Bush warned that the Taleban will "share in the fate" of the terrorists.

President Bush declared that America is, "A nation awakened to danger and called to defend freedom." He said the United States will "meet violence with patient justice ó assured of the rightness of our cause, and confident of the victories to come." 

He also named Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge to become a new cabinet member in his government in charge of the newly created Office of Homeland Security. It will coordinate government agencies in the fight against terrorism and report directly to the president.

Addressing foreign countries, President Bush said other governments must choose whether they stand with the United States or with the terrorists. 

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, New York Governor George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani were among the guests at the Capitol. Due to extreme security precautions, Vice President Dick Cheney did not attend and was kept in a secret location during the speech.

Embassy official
thanks country
for its sympathy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Linda Jewell, the top U.S. official at the embassy in San José issued a formal thanks Thursday to Costa Rican officials and citizens who have expressed their sorrow for what happened Sept. 11 in New York and Washington.

In a statement in Spanish to the local press, Mrs. Jewell, chargé d'affairs, said the expressions of sympathy had touched the hearts of those at the embassy and made them realize again how many friends they had in the world.

"There is no doubt that these attacks were against the whole civilized world and their impact has been felt all over the globe," said Mrs. Jewell.  "The innocent  victims in these planes, in the towers of the World Trade Center and in the Pentagon came from all parts of the world, more than 63 countries."

The victims came from diverse cultures from all sections of society and from different religions, she noted, adding that the victims represented the United States in its great diversity. "They will be remembered and honored," she said.

"The civilized world will continue ahead against the authors of these abominable acts of hatred and rage," she said. We ought to continue, not only in memory of the victims but also to protect the liberty, civil society and the future of the children of the world.

She outlined three steps:

"First, we ought to return to normal. We won't fear. If we fear, we are beaten. We are all in mourning, but we need to face the challenge of forging ahead. 

"Second, we ought to remember that we are citizens of a global society that is connected by the fundamental principles of liberty, democracy, tolerance and respect for human life.

"Finally, we ought to maintain the solidarity and unity that we have seen during the last week to assure ourselves that this will not happen again."

"We hope that Sept. 11 will not be simply remembered as the day in which the World Trade Center towers fell but as the day in which the end of international terrorism and the incredible evil that it engenders was announced."

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Life is totally normal as youngsters do what youngsters do in the Plaza of Culture in downtown San José as a mother tried to take a photo. Worries of the world are far away.

U.S. tourism hit
but local effect
still uncertain

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. tourism industry is being hard hit by last week's terror attacks as millions of Americans cancel vacation and convention plans. 

But in Costa Rica the situation still was unclear. A number of those involved in tourism and tourist sales said that the number of foreigners in San José had dropped dramatically even for September being a low season.

Others said that they expected the industry to pick up at the expense of European locations.

In New York and Washington where the attacks took place, hotel reservations have dropped dramatically. 

The Associated Press reported the famed New York Plaza hotel is considering the closure of one of its restaurants. Producers say four Broadway shows will close by the end of the week. 

Thousands of jobs may vanish in Washington unless the tourism industry picks up. Marriott International and Hilton Hotels officials say they are reducing employee's hours. The tourism industry pumps about $9 billion into Washington's economy each year. 

The state of Florida is also witnessing a drop in tourism where one job in five depends on that industry. 

Beaches, hotels and restaurants as far away as the state of Hawaii are experiencing numerous vacation cancellations. 

The New York Times reported the city of Las Vegas, Nev., is being inundated with cancellations. The International Vision Expo, a trade show for the optical equipment industry that was expecting 18,000 participants, has been called off. 

The paper says 240 other conventions and trade shows slated for Las Vegas have also been canceled.

An expert on tourism, Johnny Araya, a man who sells ceramic precolombian animals on the streets of San José, bemoaned the lack of tourists Thurday, as did vendors of cigars and other tourist items.

Araya said that even accounting for the low season, few tourists were to be seen. He said his sales were terrible. His characterization was pretty strong even accounting for the normal pessimism of street vendors. 

One bar owner disagreed. He said that his monthly receipts appear to be off about 22 percent from normal, which is pretty good in the highly variable nightlife business where the bulk of the business is done in the high tourist season.

Others cautioned that the country and its airline industry still were getting back to normal. Some contribution to the possible dip might be found in the cutbacks in jet service in the United States.

FBI vists Paraguay
in terrorism probe

Paraguayan authorities say the Federal Bureau of Investigation has sent agents to a major border city that has fallen under suspicion as a transit point for shadowy groups. 

Authorities say the FBI agents arrived in Ciudad del Este earlier this week to look into whether anyone there is linked to the deadly terrorist attacks in the United States.

Ex-Venezuelan dictator dies in Spanish exile
By the A.M.  Costa Rica staff

Marcos Pérez Jímenez, 86, a military officer who rose to be the Venezuelan strongman, died Thursday in Madrid, Spain, where he was in exile.

Pérez Jiménez came to power in 1948 when he helped oust the democratically elected Rómulo Gallegos, the famous writer. Pérez Jiménez, a colonel, was part of a three-officer ruling junta. Gradually he gained the upper hand and became a general. 

He ruled for six years until he was forced out in January1958. When he left for Santo Domingo by plane from a military airport, he left behind an incriminating suitcase stuffed with money.

A caretaker government supervised elections that brought Rómulo Betancourt, the Acción Democracia Party candidate, to power.

Robert Kennedy, when he was U.S. attorney general, spearheaded the extradition of Peréz Jiménez from the United States to Venezuela, something that was not normally done in those times. The ex-dictator 

was placed on trial, convicted and jailed. He forever nurtured a hatred of the Kennedys and the United States.

The trial and publicity featured testimony about Pérez Jiménez and his frequent bouts of sexual excess with women imported to a tiny resort island of Las Orquidas off the Venezuelan coast.

He soon left the country when a deal was cut to allow him to again go into exile.

But in the Venezuelan elections of 1968 a political party headed by Pérez Jiménez captured a significant share of the votes, and he was elected a federal senator. He savored the triumph, and his party entered into a coalition with newly elected Rafael Caldera.

A Venezuelan report Thursday said that despite the oppressive regime Pérez Jiménez is mostly remembered for public works projects in and around the capital, including the superhighway that runs from the seaside town of La Guaira where the international airport is located to the mountain valley in which Caracas sits.

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