A.M. Costa Rica
Your daily English-language news source
Place your free classified ad

Click Here
Jo Stuart
About us
These article were published Friday, Sept. 28, 2001
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Can you believe Christmas already? These workers were pumping up this Santa Claus at the Universal store in Sabana Sur Thursday afternoon. They are a little late. Christmas goods have been in the stores since Sept. 1, as merchants try to make up for a weak season last year by starting early.

President requests unity
to overcome economic crisis

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The president of Costa Rica took to the television Thursday night to raise national spirits in the face of economic reverses.

Miguel Angel Rodríguez told listeners in his 12-minute talk that the "savage attacks" by terrorist in the United States caused economic fallout that was affecting Costa Rica. The U.S. stock market, he said, peeled off one-seventh of its capitalization in the days following the attacks.

That's more than Costa Rica's gross national product, he said to emphasis the economic condition and relate it to his listeners.

He promised a multi-pronged effort to strengthen tourism, to strengthen personal security for tourists and citizens, to strengthen the investment climate, to help agriculture and to boost exports.

He also pushed his long-time legislative agenda even as he called upon citizens and deputies in the National Assembly to put aside partisan differences and to unit under one banner for Costa Rica.

He even included anti-corruption measures and a law to improve laws affecting the press in his call for unity.

The president's talk included file shots of cheerful tourists enjoying the many features of Costa Rica ó from canopy tour seats, beaches, mountain trails and the baroque National Theater.

The talk started a few minutes later than its announced 6:50 p.m. time, and there was no commentary afterwards as television moved right into the announcement of the players who will  make up the National Team for the next round of World Cup soccer matches.

The president mentioned the $1.5 million that already had been announced to advertise Costa Rican tourism worldwide and his personal efforts to have direct flights here from Europe. 

He also promised strict security at Juan Santamaría International Airport and more action against criminal gangs and robbers. He urged legislators to pass his anti-crime proposals that include expanding telephone tap authority in cases of child prostitution.

To lure more investment, the president promised measures to strengthen the Central Bank of Costa Rica and to improve the investment climate. Among these was a promise to create a fund to stabilize the price of combustible fuels. 

The president also proposed lines of credit for other Latin American and Caribbean countries to cause these countries to purchase more Costa Rican products. 

For coffee producers, he promised a financial bailout in credit and loans. The industry is suffering because world prices are about half of Costa Rica's production costs. 

He concluded by reminding listeners that Costa Rica is renowned worldwide for his peaceful conditions and great tourist locations. Rodríguez urged Costa Ricans to turn the current adversity into opportunity. He noted that the New York stock market already has made a comeback, and he expressed confidence that here a united people could fight against adversity and surmount the problems.

Living in Costa Rica

. . . Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

A Funny Thing Happened
on the way to the Theater

This is a true story. At any rate, Say, the charming young man who told me this story, said it was true. Actually, he said, "I donít even know you, why would I lie to you?" A question with many interesting ramifications.

The story came about as we were both eating Angie Theologosí delicious bocas at the exhibition of her husband, Jimís, lively paintings. Which is to say, we were standing on the mezzanine floor of the Centro Cultural in Los Yoses. 

I was explaining to Say how to get to the Little Theatre in Bello Horizonte where the LTG is presenting Agathe Christieís "Ten Little Indians" (which, by the way, opens tonight at 7:30 and runs for three weekends).

"You know where Los Anonos is?" I asked. He nodded. "Well, you go over the bridge ó the suicide bridge ó on the old road to Escazu." Then I blushed and apologized for my insensitive comment. Say is a Tico.

"Thatís all right," he assured me. "We call it that, too." Say, it turned out, is an emergency management technician ó a rescue worker. We both agreed that there are times when you make jokes and laugh in order not to cry. He told me that one night his crew was called out on a report that someone had jumped from that bridge. When they arrived, they saw a man lying on the rock below ó the "target rock," they called it, because that is where the unfortunate people usually landed. They looked down from the bridge before heading down and saw that the person was moving. He was still alive!

They hurried down and got to the rock, and there was this man sitting there holding his wrist. "My wrist hurts," he said.

The stunned crew examined him, had him stand up. He seemed to be perfectly fine except for a broken wrist.

"Did you go off the bridge?" they asked.

He said that he had, but that on his way down, a gust of wind came and lifted him up and he had floated the last six meters or so. "My wrist hurts," he complained again. He seemed unimpressed with his miraculous trip.

The crew helped him back up to the bridge where an ambulance and the police were waiting. There, the police informed him that after his broken wrist had been attended to, he was under arrest. Attempting suicide is against the law in Costa Rica, as it is in some other countries. It would be interesting to attend his trial, I thought. With his luck, he would get off because there were no witnesses, and who would know if he jumped or was just testing some scientific phenomenon?

That was the story that Say told me. Now I wonder if perhaps it isnít just part of a folklore known as "Urban Legend." And maybe saying "Why would I lie to you, I donít even know you?" is the Tico way of letting you know your leg is being pulled.

However, the truth is "Ten Little Indians" does open tonight, and the best way to get to the theater from San Jose is over the Los Anonos bridge and take the first left into Bello Horizonte, go to the dogleg intersection and take the left leg, go about two blocks. 

On your right behind the gate is a pink house with the letters BROWN LTG over the garage door. And you can still enjoy Jimís paintings at the Centro Cultural, but Angieís bocas are all gone.

Find Jo's other columns, CLICK HERE



Police seek
leads to find
of dead man

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a body of a U.S. citizen in the police morgue in Heredia, but neither police nor U.S. Embassy officials can locate family members.

The Judicial Investigating Organization included the man's name, Robert Lee Tompkins, (Case No. 01-1130), among the names of 15 other unclaimed bodies being held there should family members show up. Some bodies are unidentified. One is an unidentified fetus. They come from all over the country to the Forensic Pathology Section of the Legal Medicine Department of the national investigation unit.

Tompkins has been there since June 6. An embassy spokesman said consular officials found out about the death June 9, and they have been trying to find a family representative since.

Thompkins was born July 5, 1931, in Orville, Wash., in the United States and has lived in Puerto Rico, the embassy said. He died in San José, and an autopsy was performed at the morgue.

Anyone with information may call the morgue at 277-4181. According to the advertisement, police officials will hold the bodies until Oct. 4.

Police get170 kgs. of coke
in exportation firm bust

by the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police watched a meeting between four suspected drug smugglers in Sabana Norte Tuesday then followed them to find 170 kilograms of cocaine nearby, they said Thursday. 

The drug, nearly 375 pounds, was about to be shipped to Miami hidden among clothing, they said.

Police arrested two men from Grecia and had them placed into three months each of preventative detention.

They identified them as cousins Norman Francisco Cubero Zamora, 33, and David Alberto Lobo Zamora, 24.  At least two more men are being sought, according to Lic. Jorge Rojas Vargas, subdirector of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ for its name in Spanish).

Rojas held a press conference Thursday to display the drugs, an estimated 150 individually wrapped packages. He said the meeting in La Sabana was when a man delivered a car containing the drugs to one of the men who were arrested. Police had placed the two men under surveillance earlier because of earlier narcotics involvement.

Police followed the car to a warehouse in Barrio Cuba, about three kilometers ( about 1.8 miles) closer to San José central. 

A.M. Costa Rica photo
Lic. Jorge Rojas Vargas, OIJ subdirector, meets press and shows cocaine agents got.

They made one arrest and found cartons ready to be shipped to the  United States, Rojas said. He said the company involved, Norte Dalo, S.A., was licensed as an exporting enterprise. The cartons contained men's pants.

Rojas said that the company made about 12 shipments to the United States during August. He said the drugs clearly were involved in international commerce and probably had come from Colombia

U.S. Coast Guard denies targeting foreign ships
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The U.S. Coast Guard has moved to squash rumors that it is preventing ships "from certain countries" to dock in U.S. ports.

The organization cited what it said were false reports relating to ships, crews and passengers arriving in the United States. 

The Coast Guard issued its statement through U.S. State Department channels.

"The gist of these rumors is that ships, crews, and passengers from particular countries would not be allowed into port and that certain crew and passengers for some ships allowed to enter would not be allowed to leave their ship," said the Coast guard, adding that  "These rumors are false."

Instead, as a security precaution, the Coast Guard 

is requiring all vessels, regardless of country of registry, last port of call or nationality of those on board to provide a list of all persons on board, the Coast Guard said. This includes U.S. vessels, the announcement said.

The captains of such ships also must continue to provide 24-hours advanced notice of arrival as has been required in the past, said the Coast Guard.

Overall security measures may vary from port to port, the announcement said, noting that final security rules were in the hands of the port captain.

The Coast Guard said it is coordinating maritime security efforts with other law enforcement and regulatory agencies (such as Customs, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Public Health Service, etc.), which may take actions that affect the movement of ships, crews and passengers.

Judge plans to  try
Argentine ex-dictator

By A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An Argentine judge has ordered former dictator Jorge Videla to stand trial for the  abductions of 72 political opponents during Argentina's so-called Dirty War on political  dissent.

In Buenos Aires Thursday, Judge Rodolfo Canicoba ordered Videla tried in  connection with the "Condor Plan." Under the plan, South American military rulers in  the 1970s and 1980s cooperated to hunt down  and eliminate opponents who sought refuge in their countries.

Videla seized power in 1976 and led Argentina's military junta until 1981. The 76-year-old former dictator is under house arrest for his alleged role in the abduction and illegal adoption of children of political opponents.

During Argentina's military rule from 1976 to 1983, tens of thousands of  mainly leftist dissidents were tortured, killed or disappeared during the  so-called Dirty War.

Chavez says Venezuela
will aid Afghans

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his country will provide humanitarian aid to Afghan refugees fleeing their country as soon as the U.N. refugee agency approves the mission.

In an interview with the newspaper El Nacional, President Chavez saidVenezuela will begin transporting medicine, food, tents, water and aid workers immediately following U.N. approval. The Venezuelan leader told the newspaper military officials and civilians will take part in the mission.

U.N. relief officials say Afghanistan's humanitarian situation has worsened significantly, following the terrorist attacks on the United States and speculation about military action in Afghanistan.

The number of Afghans who require international aid for survival is expected to climb from five million to 7.5 million. 

Hurricane Juliette
reaches Mexico's Baja

Hurricane Juliette has reached Mexico's Baja California Peninsula after hitting southern Mexico with heavy rainfall and high winds. 

As its center moved near the fishing resort city of Cabo San Lucas on Mexico's Pacific coast, it generated high waves. Mexican Red Cross officials said one American surfer drowned in those waves. The storm has already been blamed for two other deaths. 

Juliette's center is expected to remain offshore, as it moves to the north at 10 kilometers-an-hour. But heavy rains and strong winds have extended as far as 110 kilometers from the center. 

According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Juliette's winds have decreased from a high of 230 kilometers-an-hour to 160 kilometers-an-hour.  Some local schools have closed and are being prepared to be used as temporary shelters. 

The storm has not affected Mexico's oil shipments from the Salina Cruz port in Oaxaca State, which remained open. However, the oil port of Pajaritos, on the Gulf coast, was closed due to waves as high as two meters. 

Population in poverty
reported to be lower

WASHINGTON ó Efforts to reduce the number of people living in poverty have proven successful in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a new report by the U. N. Economic Commission for Latin America.

About 211 million poor people live in Latin America, the report said, and of that number 89 million were classified as indigent, meaning they did not earn enough income to afford even the most basic food necessities. But during the 1990s, the number of indigents dropped by almost four million people, said the report.

The report said that during the second half of the 1990s, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and most Central American countries achieved significant progress in the fight against poverty. 

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier