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These stories were published Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 198
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Earthmovers have plowed a path where a new lane of Avenida 2 will go in as part of the municipality’s effort to spiff up San José. The uphill climb out of the downtown always is congested during daytime hours. The turret is in the former Bella Vista Fortress, now Museo Nacional, to the left.
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Seasonal downpour does some damage to homes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The skies over the Central Valley opened up about 1 p.m. Monday and more than two inches of rain drenched the area by nightfall.

More than 100 homes suffered damage, and a few were destroyed as rivers came out of their banks in Alajuelita, San Juan de Dios de Desamparados and Aserrí.

Similar rain is predicted for today as tropical air currents fight for dominance over Costa Rica, according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. The weather forecast said that the Pacific coast would get a significant amount of rain.

The weather institute said Monday night that some 5.39 cms. of rain fell since 7 a.m. Monday. That’s 2.2 inches. Of course, the rugged nature of Costa Rica turns a heavy rain into torrents.

Part of a sidewalk collapsed in downtown San José on Avenida 6 at Calle 1. Workmen had been digging a 20-foot excavation for a parking garage and had excavated right up to the sidewalk line. When the sidewalk gave way, it took underground electric and telephone cables with it as well as the tin barrier workmen had erected around the site.

Traffic signals were out in parts of the downtown for several hours, complicating rush 

hour traffic. There were power outages of up to an hour in other parts of the city during the evening.

October may not be the month with the most rain, but it certainly is the most frustrating month for a population ready to welcome the dry season.

Typically, Costa Rica’s high season for tourism begins in early November on the north Pacific coast and gradually works its way down to Golfito and the Osa Peninsula by  mid-December. The Central Valley is somewhere in the middle with alternating dry and rainy days for the first three weeks of November.

However, some rains will continue for several weeks. Then the umbrellas are put away until the following March. The change in climate is caused by the arrival of winter in the north and the changes in air currents that causes.

The weather experts have been suggesting that the advent of the dry season might be delayed a week or two this year, but there are no certainties. With the dry weather, residents can expect an increase in winds.

For October, Central Valley residents can expect some sun and clouds in the morning with darkening skies and downpours in the afternoon.

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Month of protests
set for October

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

October will be the month of protests.

Monday an association of automobile shops conducted a motorized protest from El Coyol in Alajuela to Casa Presidential in Zapote.  The several dozen vehicles went right through downtown San José contributing to the morning traffic.

The protest is against the 13 percent increase approved for Riteve Sys, the monopoly that conducts vehicle inspections in Costa Rica. The shop operators also want the right to conduct the inspections.

Meanwhile, a more extensive protest looms Oct. 20 when the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos promises a protest against a proposed free trade treaty with the United States.

The public employees are expected to be joined by employees of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad who fear that an international treaty will weaken their monopoly hold on electricity, telephones and telecommunications.

Meanwhile, deputies at the Asamblea Nacional are talking about forming a committee to consult with legislators of other Central American countries on the topic of a free trade treaty.

Another protest is planned for employees of the Ministerio de Salud and the same public employees association against a budget cut for the ministry.

Swimming victim’s
body still missing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A swimmer snatched by the sea Sunday still is missing off Jacó beach. The 19-year-old Heredia resident was caught in the same surf that killed a Desamparados de Alajuela woman, 18.

Officials of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas at the Quepos station said they would continue the search for the man, identified as Alfredo José Morales Víquez. Officials were unable to locate his body Monday.

The double tragedy happened about 4 p.m. Sunday as the result of a riptide. The woman, Tatiana Murillo Guerrero, was rescued from the surf by the Cruz Roja but died later at a hospital.

Message recounts
abduction by taxi

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An unusual message Monday from Casa Presidencial warned residents about bandits who were masquerading as taxi drivers.

The message claims to be the true story of a Universidad Latina student who was abducted near the school in San Pedro de Montes de Oca. The message does not name the girl but says she is the sister of a friend of the writer, a staffer at the Costa Rican white house.

The woman described as a victim is quoted saying that she boarded a taxi at a bus stop near the university only to find out that the driver really was a bandit and the taxi was rigged with removable taxi signs. 

The driver pulled a gun and then let three other persons get in the taxi. The four managed to get the girl’s credit card and PIN number, threaten her, take anything of value and then dump her in Curridabat in her underwear, according to the message.

The female victim reports that the men said they had conducted such abductions near other San José universities.

There have been no recent reports of such activities in police files, although many crime victims in Costa Rica never make a report.

Poverty agency head
resigns her post

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Silvia Lara Povedano, the executive president of the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social resigned Monday, effective Nov. 6, because she said she did not believe poverty was being fought effectively.

Her agency is a primary anti-poverty force, but she said in a lengthy resignation letter that she was not able to make significant changes.

Fighting poverty has been a large part of President Abel Pacheco’s stated mission, however the institute president was an independent, high-energy figure  who did not make concessions to political pressure, said one source.

Blast hits air field
in Venezuela 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

CARACAS, Venezuela — An explosion and fire has rocked an air force base here.

Firefighters sprayed foam to put out the blaze at the La Carlota Airfield, the headquarters of Venezuela's Air Force and also a private aviation landing field often used by President Hugo Chávez. 

No casualties were reported. Officials say two aviation fuel trucks were destroyed. The cause of the blast is being investigated. 

The airport incident follows an explosion at Miraflores Presidential Palace in September that damaged the barracks of the presidential honor guard. 

Most recently, a grenade exploded Friday at the headquarters of the government's telecommunications agency, after it carried out a raid against a private television channel called Globovision that has been critical of the government. 

Globovision says the seizure of equipment needed to broadcast live reports from the street was the government's first step toward shutting down the station.

Surplus of storms
batter México

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Heavy rains are hitting parts of western Mexico as Hurricane Olaf moves north along the country's Pacific coast. 

The U.S. National Weather Service warns that the storm, located about 120 kms. (75 miles) southwest of Cabo Corrientes, could cause dangerous flash floods and mudslides.  Meanwhile, another hurricane that threatened to collide with Hurricane Olaf has been downgraded to a tropical storm. 

Forecasters say that system, Tropical Storm Nora, is hovering in the Pacific Ocean, off the Baja California peninsula. 

On Mexico's Gulf coast, Tropical Storm Larry on Sunday forced hundreds of people in the southern state of Tabasco to seek emergency shelter before weakening into a tropical depression.

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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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Pilot project set up to push corporate responsibility
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new U.S.-supported program will work to promote corporate social responsibility in the private business-sector economies of Chile, Brazil, El Salvador, and Peru.

The Organization of American States said the program will target small and medium-sized enterprises and will be run by the organization's development arm, the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development. The U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States helped with the program's original design.

The program, which received an initial $1.1-million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank, is being supplemented with a contribution of about $372,830 from the Canadian International Development Agency. Also supporting the program is a Santiago, Chile-based alliance of business organizations called Forum 
EMPRESA that promotes corporate social responsibility throughout the Americas.

The development bank defines corporate social responsibility as an approach "based on an integral group of policies, practices, and programs centered upon respect for ethical principles, human beings, and the environment."

Ronald Scheman, director general of the Agency for Cooperation, said the new program will increase "awareness among businessmen of the benefits of corporate social responsibility and disseminate its new approaches among the private sector as well as with non-governmental organizations, universities, and governments." 

Scheman added: "These principles will be applied to pilot groups of small and medium-sized enterprises, to utilize their experiences as an example for other companies."

The models developed in the four countries will be extended to the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the plan. The project grew out of  a series of meetings held on corporate reposnsibility in Latin America in 2002.

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