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These stories were published Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 197
Jo Stuart
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Girl in Turrialba rape case is topic of pro-abortion movie
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When Rosa, a 9-year-old Nicaraguan girl, was raped in Turrialba in January 2003, the case gained international attention when her parents, poor, illiterate coffee pickers, sought a legal way to abort the resulting conception. 

Rosa and her parents' story became the subject of a documentary, "Rosita," by U.S. filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater.  The film premiered in June in the United States but filmmakers have not announced plans to bring it here.

Worried about their only daughter's mental health, Rosa's parents María and Francisco, seek a rare “therapeutic” abortion for their child.  In Costa Rica and Nicaragua, abortions are only legal if the mother may die from the birth.  Rosa and her family eventually go head-to-head with both governments, the medical establishment and the Catholic Church.

Representatives from both governments attempted to remove Rosa from her parents to force her to go through with the pregnancy.  After two women's rights groups interceded, Rosa eventually obtained the abortion.  But soon after, Nicaragua's
archbishop excommunicated her and everyone involved in the abortion, the movie said.  A petition originating in Spain gathered the signatures of 26,000 people who also demanded to be excommunicated.  This petition was presented to the Vatican's representative in Spain.   

Though her presence is felt in her drawings and the faces of countless other young girls in the movie, Rosa is never seen to fulfill a promise the filmmakers made to her parents, the Web site said. 

Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater have worked together since 1990, making award-winning documentaries for national and international broadcast, said the film's Web site.

The Web site notes that Rosa's words are taken from an oral history recorded in the months following the abortion by author María López Vigil, a former nun dedicated to social issues. Ms. López Vigil spent hundreds of hours with Rosa and her family before publishing the oral history, "Historia de una Rosa," the site says.

A neighbor was detained after the pregnancy became known, but the parents took Rosa to Nicaragua despite court officials desire that she stay here.

Technical change in Caribbean to help some landowners
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There's good news for property owners in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. The legislature approved upgrading both Caribbean coast localities to the status of cities.

Once the measure is formally approved by the executive branch and published, those who have something less than full ownership rights to their land can begin the process of perfecting the titles.

Many residents belong to families who have held land for years but without a formal deed being registered in the Registo Nacional. Some of the property ownerships date back to the original government decrees that allowed individuals to settle land there.

Both communities host an important national
territory. The Parque Nacional Cahuita is in that community, which is some 46 kilometers (28.5 miles) south of Limón center. 

Puerto Viejo is known as Puerto Viejo de Talamanca to distinguish it from the town of the same name near Sarapiquí. It is some 56 kilometers (35 miles) south of Limón and home to the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Gandoca Manzanillo. Both are in the Cantón de Talamanca.

Property owners there have land in what is now called the Zona Marítimo Terrestre or maritime zone. The land holdings predate the 1977 law creating the zone, but a legislative source noted that the maritime zone law did not take into consideration the established rights of the property owners there. Because property in the zone is considered public, the property owners are unable to obtain credit and other benefits of land ownership.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 197

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An analysis of the news
What's all the excitement
about the Río San Juan?

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What do weak chief executives and tabloid newspaper editors have in common?

They all like to rattle sabers, and that is what is happening in Costa Rica and Nicaragua over the relatively minor issue of the Río San Juan.

Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños is facing severe political pressure at home, and the long-running political battle could cost him his job at the hands of an unfriendly legislature and high courts.

U.S. official tells Nicaragua to
halt political infighting

So when Costa Rica decided to send the issue of navigation on the San Juan to the International Court of Justice, Nicaragua retaliated by beefing up its army patrols in the area.

The issue is a narrow one: Should Costa Rican police have the right to carry weapons when they make patrols along the San Juan. Nicaragua owns the river, in some places up to its south bank. In other places Nicaragua's ownership includes a small strip of land south of the river. Even Costa Rican officials acknowledge Nicaragua's sovereignty over the river.

In the underdeveloped northern zone, the river is the best way to travel, and Fuerza Pública officers prefer to use the river to go to and from certain duty stations.

Nicaragua also slaps an $8 head tax on tourists who use the river. Local Costa Ricans, do not have to pay this fee.

The Costa Rican newspapers were quick to jump on the story. Ticos fear Nicaraguans, and perhaps as many as a million citizens of that country, legal or illegal, are living in Costa Rica. So weekend news stories gave the impression that the country was close to war.

Bolaños recalled the Nicaraguan ambassador.  The Nicaraguan legislature moved to place a 35 percent tariff on Costa Rican products. Nicaraguan soldiers took an off-duty Fuerza Pública officer into custody when he was traveling to a farm field via a detour into Nicaragua.

Bolaños has to maintain a firm grip because Arnoldo Alemán, the former president and paroled felon, focused on the issue when he was president. The relationship between the two countries was tense when Alemán was in office in Managua.

Relations between Bolaños and President Able Pacheco have been warm by comparison, and Bolaños has visited here several times. But it is the threat of impeachment from the Nicaraguan legislature that gives Bolaños reason to seek a patriotic issue.

Alemán and another former president, Daniel Ortega of the Frente Sandinista para la Liberación Nacional, are strange bedfellows. But they have entered into a pact that has as one goal the ouster of Bolaños. The two men control the legislature, and lawmakers have voted to diminish the presidential powers. The similarly controlled high court keeps ruling that Alemán can serve out his prison sentence at home.

A good foreign affairs issue helps keep the army occupied and gains the president public support. In fact, the army commander is on a two-day trip to the San Juan basin.

Meanwhile, the Nicaraguan national assembly might already have figured out who actually pays for a 35 percent tariff on imported Costa Rican foodstuffs and other products.  Hint: It is not Costa Ricans.

Nearly pejibaye time
in rural Tucurrique

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 150 pejibaye farmers will bring their crop to the town of Tucurrique for a late October fair lasting 10 days. 

The fair starts Oct. 21 and runs through the end of the month, said organizers.  Beside the pejibayes, which will range between 100 and 400 colons per kilo, vendors will also sell bread, cookies, caramel spread, yogurt, soup, empanadas, tamales and smoothies made from pejibaye milk, among others, organizers said. 

The annual fair will also showcase horses, carousels, sport fishing, concerts, dances and bull running among other activities.   This is the 12th year that Tucurrique has staged the fair.  The town, east of Cartago, produces more than 400,000 kilos of pejibayes annually, organizers said. 

Pejibayes are the fruit of a palm tree and high in oils and calories. They can be seen in hot water tanks at supermarkets or in the stalls of vendors on the street. They can be eaten cooked and peeled or as an ingredient in a number of dishes.

Blackberry book available

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería has released a manual for people wishing to learn more about blackberry cultivation.   

The book covers themes like nutritional content, principal uses, properties of blackberries, botanical descriptions, typical cycles and climate requirements. 

It also tells growers details about establishing a plantation, reproduction methods, insect control and how to use compost.  The book is on sale in the second floor of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería in Sabana Oeste.  The price is 800 colons, about $1.60. 

Thailand's foreign minister here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Kantathi Suphamong, the foreign minister of Thailand, is on a two-day visit to Costa Rica. One of the topics of the visit is Costa Rica's experience with the oil palm, whose oil is exported to Asia. He will visit President Abel Pacheco at Casa Presidencial this afternoon. Trade between the two nations reached $21.6 million in 2004.
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Rescue workers unload food and other supplies for Silencio Monday. But the problem is that the community's bridge is out.

Workers had to load the boxes on a raft to pole across the Río Portalón.

As workers left, a logjam took place cutting off access to the stricken community.

Photo by Roberta Felix

Two died in flood-related mishaps as rain continues
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Insituto Meteorológico Nacional's predictions came true Tuesday as Tropical Storm Stan, now a hurricane, slammed into Mexico's gulf coast.  The resulting rains in Costa Rica overflowed already bulging rivers led to the deaths of at least two persons Tuesday.

One of the deaths occurred in the Río Sardinal when a 9-year-old boy was swept away.  His body was found some 10 kilometers down stream about 5 p.m. Tuesday.  Another woman died in Naranjo de Alajuela when a small hillside collapsed on her home.

On the central Pacific coast and Guanacaste, workers are still struggling to provide sufficient food, water and clothing to persons isolated by gorged rivers.  Workers managed to reach La Guinea Tuesday by small boat.  The community had been isolated late last week when the Río Tempisque overflowed and tore away the bridge into town.  Workers took some of those residents to a shelter in Filadelfia, they said.  Workers also used boats to reach the isolated communities of Corralillo, Ortega and Bolsón, they said.

Bob Klenz, a Dominical property owner, said his Portalón property on the central Pacific coast is still unreachable.

“We're gonna have to use a tractor to get there,” he said.  He added that workers in his company were starting to get nervous about their families.  One decided to check on his family and walked five hours out of Portalón over the surrounding hills to his family's home to check on them.  After he found them alive and well, he turned around and walked back, Klenz said. 

Although the emergency commission has said that the road between Quepos and Dominical is open, Klenz said that the route depends on the rain.  Sometimes the rivers overflow and ruin the bridges.

“When you go out at night, you never know if you're going to make it back,” he said. 

In Parrita on the central Pacific coast north of Quepos,
the river overflowed and covered the town and swamped houses.  Many residents ended up in shelters.  Other rivers caused similar damage and forced people from their homes.

The Cañas river caused Cruz Roja workers to evacuate several persons from the town of the same name in Barrio El Hotel, they said.  In Bagaces the river rose high enough that 15 families had to be moved from the community center where they had already fled from their homes to the nearby Salón Colina.

The Bebedero, Corobici and Tempisque rivers among others all rose high enough that worried authorities sent the Cruz Roja to evacuate nearby residents, the organization said.  In Bambú Dos, Cruz Roja workers had to evacuate 114 persons who had already taken shelter in the Salón Parroquial, said José Antonio Bonilla, the Cruz Roja director of operations in the area.

Rivers also rose steadily Tuesday in Nosara, Filadelfia, Las Juntas, La Cruz and Liberia, the organization said.  In Quebrada Grande near Liberia, Río Los Ahogados devastated the bridge that connected the community with Dos Ríos de Upala in the area near Los Ángeles, Zelandia and Dos Ríos leaving these communities isolated from Liberia, the Cruz Roja said.  

The rains also caused landslides throughout the country, further limiting the ability of workers to respond quickly to communities that needed to evacuate.  In Nicoya near Nambí, the Cruz Roja reported that there were rocks and mud and other material from a landslide on the highway and only one lane was open.  Landslides also littered the road between Cejitas and Sevadilla in the road that connects Monteverde with Las Juntas, the Cruz Roja said.

The weather report by the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional is not hopeful.  Meteorologists with the institute predict that the downpours from Stan will stay until tonight, especially in Guanacaste, the Central Valley and the mountainous areas of the country.  The northern zone and the Caribbean coast should be only cloudy, the institute said.     

Heavy rains have been hitting the Pacific coast for nearly two weeks.

U.S. comes up with $50,000 for Tico flood victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A representative of the U.S. Embassy here signed an agreement with President Abel Pacheco Tuesday that will provide $50,000 for flood victims.

The representative, Chargé d'Affaires Russell L. Frisbie, sought the funds Friday, the U.S. State Department said.

Pacheco fondly recalled his years studying medicine at Lousiana State University and characterized the people there as full of life.  He was commenting on the flooding that hit New Orleans and nearby states.

The U.S. Agency for International Development said in a press release that the money will allow the local purchase of emergency relief supplies, water, and food.

Frisbie has been on the job here only two weeks, he said. The signing was at a small ceremony at Casa Presidencial.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
President Abel Pacheco and Russell L. Frisbie of the U.S. Embassy.

Zoellick tells Nicaragua to end the political crisis
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

If Nicaragua does not resolve its internal political conflict, it could remain outside the free trade treaty nations, Robert Zoellick, undersecretary of State, warned during his visit to Guatemala.

The problem in Nicaragua is caused by corruptive forces represented by former president Arnoldo Alemán and undemocratic movement directed by the Frente Sandinista para la Liberacion Nacional, said Zoellick. The leader of the Frente is former president Daniel Ortega.

In addition to not being included in the free trade treaty and its benefits, the country also faces the possiblity of losing possible grants from the U.S. Millennium Challenge program, Zoellick added.

The undersecretary, who also is the U.S. official most responsible for negotiating the free trade treaty, made his comments in Guatemala, the first stop on a trip that includes Nicaragua and Brazil.

In Guatemala Zoellick met with President Oscar Berger and discussed the U.S.-Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement and an array of other issues Monday.

Zoellick met with Berger and other senior Guatemalan officials in Guatemala City to thank them for their work to secure the legislative passage of the free trade treaty, known as CAFTA, in both the United States and Guatemala and to forge a deeper dialogue on how the accord could serve to bolster development, integration and democracy, the State Department said.

"I view this visit not only as a celebration of CAFTA, but it is a start of something that I hope will be much more important -- it will be important to deal with issues of poverty, growth and development in Guatemala," Zoellick said.
As part of the effort to use the treaty as a development tool, Zoellick explained that he and the Guatemalan president discussed ways to allocate the $40 million a year set aside by the U.S. Congress to improve labor and environmental conditions in treaty countries.

During his visit, the State Department official also took time to thank Guatemalan soldiers who participated in a peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

"It is a wonderful example in which Guatemala can help their neighbors in the hemisphere," he said.  "And I think it represents the professional and the modernized and changing forces in Guatemala, who are also helping in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and looking for other possible ways to help peacekeeping operations."

Berger noted that the discussions also covered Guatemala's interest in the Millennium Challenge Account, the treatment of undocumented Guatemalan workers in the United States, and security issues.

The Challenge Acount is the Bush administration's program to provide additional targeted assistance to developing countries that govern well, enact economic reform, and invest in their people.

Berger said that although Guatemala is a "middle income" country, his government hopes nevertheless to be able seek Challenge funds.  Guatemala "is unfortunately a country where great inequalities exist," Berger said, "and it would be important to qualify for this program and to be able to garner some of those advantages for Guatemala."

President Enrique Bolaños of Nicaragua is facing possible impeachment from a legislature controled by those loyal to Alemán and Ortega. The courts also are controled by the pair who entered into a pact earlier this year.

U.S. 2007 diversity lottery for residency visas begins today
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Registration for the United States' 2007 Diversity Visa Lottery continues until Dec. 4, but U.S. State Department officials encourage prospective applicants to “apply early” in the two-month registration period for the program that issues 50,000 permanent residency visas annually.

The diversity visa lottery, designed to bring greater racial and ethnic diversity to the United States, offers permanent residency visas to citizens of nations that have a traditionally low level of immigration to the United States. Costa Ricans are eligible.

In an interview Tuesday, the day before the registration process opens, Laura Tischler, State Department consular affairs spokeswoman, encouraged prospective applicants to apply early.  Due to the large volume of applications, early submissions can help ensure that successful applicants are notified in a timely manner, she said.
Ms. Tischler explained that there are no major differences in the Diversity Visa Lottery registration process this year, as compared to last year.  She said that the 2007 lottery will mark the third year that the registration process has been conducted entirely electronically.  The State Department has tripled the number of servers hosting the registration Web site, she said.

Persons seeking to enter the lottery program must register online through the designated Web site (www.dvlottery.state.gov) during the registration period.  “There is only one official site for the diversity visa lottery registration,” Ms. Tischler noted.

Registration is free and the State Department will notify winning entrants by mail between May and July 2006, she added.

Additional information on the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program is available on the State Department Web site. 

Jo Stuart
About us
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