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These sories were published Monday, Oct. 20, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 207
Jo Stuart
About us
Arenal prehistoric trails give clues to ritual
Prehistoric Indian footpaths near Arenal developed over 1,000 years into to wide, deep and ritualistic roadways leading to and from cemeteries and villages, according to findings by University of Colorado researchers who are working with the U.S. National Aeronautic and Space Administration. This is a NASA thermal image. 

The loops along the paths were for those carrying heavy loads or to help the aged and infirm negotiate steep hillsides, researchers think.

See full story and more photos BELOW!
Pacheco calls them 'irrational'
Unions, anti-trade forces begin their campaigns
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-free trade forces will be marching all over the city today despite a last minute pitch by President Abel Pacheco Sunday night:

"This would be like calling a march to ask that the principal market in which we sell the products of all our farmers, industries and artists be closed," said Pacheco in his weekly television talk.

Still the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, employees of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the power and telecommunications monopoly known as ICE, plus anti-American students from the University of Costa Rica, will be in the streets.

The idea is to converge at the Asamblea Nacional. Some will come from Sabana Norte and others from the Universidad de Costa Rica in San Pedro.

At the same time negotiators from the five Central American nations will be meeting with U.S. representatives for another round of trade talks in Houston. The general outline of the pact is believed to be nearly done.

Pacheco pointed out to Costa Ricans that their country enjoys certain reduced tariffs due to the Caribbean Basin initiative. But these trade advantages expire in four years and will not be renewed without a free trade treaty, Pacheco said.

The president also said some 500,000 jobs were at stake in textiles, agriculture and manufacturing. He said it would be ungrateful for any Costa Rican to march in favor of unemployment and poverty.

Pacheco presented a laundry list of reasons why Costa Rica needs a free trade treaty. He reminded listeners that 54 percent of the 

country’s exports are to the North American market. Some 94 percent of the textile exports go there, as do half the fish and more than half the agricultural exports, said the president.

He termed the position of the unions and the students "absolutely irrational."

"What are we going to do with the quality coffee, the melons, the industrial goods, the clothes, the flowers, the mini vegetables and all the other products that we export now to that market,"  he asked.

And he wondered what the country would do with the thousands of youngsters who seek good employment each year at a good salary. As he spoke, the television viewers saw videotape of producers and students.

Pacheco told the potential marchers that they would not be paid for the time they were off work. During a lengthy strike in May, ICE workers were paid.

Despite Pacheco’s words, the public employees and the students sense that they can win the hearts and minds of the conservative Costa Ricans. The telecommunication workers worry about their national monopoly being privatized or at least subjected to international competition.

The university forces are strongly anti-American and wrap up the free trade treaty with a U.S. proposal for an international law enforcement academy here, the war in Iraq, Cuba, past indignities by the United States and a strong desire to retain the socialistic trappings of the Costa Rican government.

The groups are expected to continue their demonstrations and appeals to the public in ever-increasing numbers until, they hope, the Pacheco administration backs away from the free trade treaty.

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Festival for adult home will be next Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Next Sunday is a time of fiesta and a parade for the home for unwanted adults in Guápiles. A large contingent from San José, including a service club, will be traveling there to join the festivities.

But the threat of closure still hangs over the Tom and Norman Home. The festival is billed as the Fundación Angel de Amor Fourth Anniversary. The foundation supports the home.

According to Donlon Havener of Santa Ana, the day will begin with a 6 a.m. breakfast at the home followed by a parade at 9 a.m. through the town.

Candidates for queen will include some of the older ladies from the town in keeping with the senior citizen tone of the event. Previous adult queens also will participate, he said.

At 10 a.m. a new annex for older women will be dedicated. Participating will be the La Sabana Lions Club because the club rounded up substantial donations for the construction.

The main program will follow with Havener and 

master of ceremonies Camilo Rodriguez of Channel 3 and Radio Columbia speaking. One event that will maintain the crowd’s attention will be the raffle of some 6 million colons, Havener said was donated by Almacenes El Gallo Mas Gallo. That’s $14,600.

Dance groups of older folks from Cariari and another group from Escazú will perform.

Reservations for transportation to Guápiles and the fiesta can be made with Havener at 282-7794 or by e-mail donlonhavener@hotmail.com.

The home has been in trouble with the government. Ministerio de Salud inspectors want the home brought up to written standards that apply to nursing homes in the country. Havener has said this means tripling the hours each day that a nurse is in attendance from eight to 24.

The government has set a Nov. 1 deadline but negotiations continue.

The residents of the home are older individual, mostly taken from the street. They have no family and have no place else to live outside the home.

RACSA says now
longer names OK

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. now says you can have your full name in your e-mail address. And you can use capital and small letters. In the past only eight letters were permitted. Now a user can have as many as 16 letters in a user name.

As an example, the Internet monopoly said that a customer, perhaps named María Matamoros, would have this address now: marimata@racsa.co.cr.

With its new service, the company known as RACSA would allow this as an e-mail address: MariaMatamoros@racsa.co.cr.

The company also said that underlines would be permitted in e-mail addresses but not tildes, the Spanish-language diacritic mark over the n: ñ.

If a RACSA customer wishes to change his or her user name, the company said they could call 287-0515. A customer can use upper and lower case letters because these are universally recognized.

RACSA did not say what it had done to effect the change, and the news release was sent out on a weekend. Hotmail, Yahoo and other e-mail services have been using longer strings of letters for years.

If the user who wishes to change a user name is a member of a corporation, the change is a bit more complex. RACSA requires that information be FAXed to this number: 287-0508. 

The company wants the request signed by the person with the legal authority over the company along with a photocopy of the cédula de identidad and a copy of the personería juridica of the company no older than 30 days.  This last document, prepared by a lawyer, generally costs from 3,000 to 5,000 colons to have prepared. That’s from $7 to $12

Sustainable tourism
is topic of seminar

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Crist Inman, an expert in sustainable tourism, will be the main speaker at a seminar planned for next week.

The event will be at the Radisson Conference Center in Barrio Tournon Thursday, Oct. 30, from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Inman, who holds a doctorate, is a professor at the Cornell University maser of business administration program in Paris, France. He had been associated with the Instituto Centroamericano de Administración de Empresas in Alajuela.

The seminar is being sponsored by the resort Bahía Pez Vela in Playa Ocotal, Guanacaste and the language school Idioma Internacional, S.A.

A spokesman for the resort said that the purpose of the event is to offer free training to the country’s travel agents in the interest of developing tourism in Costa Rica in a way that is beneficial and sustainable for the industry and the country.

More information is available at admin@bahiapezvela.com or by telephone at 520-0716

Innkeeper group
plans to meet

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rica Innkeepers Association will hold its next meeting at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Heliconia Restaurant in the INBioParque in Santo Domingo de Heredia.

The group, formed in June, is an association of smaller hotel and bed and breakfast operators.  The idea is to create an entity for marketing, education and assistance, said a release.

The group now has 42 members, according to Berni Jubb of Alajuela, the group’s president. It has set up a web site. Jubb can be reached at info@puravidahotel.com

Series of quakes
rattle the valley

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A series of small earthquakes hit the San Isidro de Coronado area over the weekend. The quakes ranged from a magnitude of 3.1 to 3.5

They generally were centered a few miles northeast of San Isidro at a depth of about 20 kms., some 12 miles.

The last such quake was about 3:59 p.m. Saturday, said the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica.

Boat overturns on Arenal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An infant drowned and three adults are missing after a small boat overturned in lake Arenal Sunday afternoon. Police said the family was from Grecia and that the accident happened on the lake near the northwest side.

Truck smashes bridge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Norman Arce Arrieta, 35, had the ill fortune to drive a truck over a bridge at the La Paz waterfall near Sarapiquí about 2:30 a.m. Friday. The bridge, which is on a principal traffic route, collapsed. Arce is a driver for Propokodusa, the chicken producer.

Woman dies in city crash

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dinnia Madrigal Rojas, 18, died as the result of a car crash about 2:20 a.m. Saturday at Calle 9 and Avenida 10 in southern San José. Five other persons were injured.

One dies; current gets two

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One man died and two more were believed swept away by the current when a motorist on the road from Matapalo to Quepos got his vehicle caught in a stream about 10 p.m. Friday. Dead is Eddie Rodríguez Gutierrez, 18, said the Fuerza Pública, adding that Diego Alvarado Alfaro and Julio Mesen were missing.

Father held in beating
of infant daughter

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A father is in jail and his 8-month old daughter is fighting for her life in the Hospital de Niños.

Fuerza Pública officers said they responded to a 911 call about 10 p.m. Thursday night to the La Carpio settlement. They found Nisy Campos Pérez, the girl, the apparent victim of a severe beating.

Detained was the father, identified by the last names of Soto Barquero.
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Beatification of Mother Teresa not without criticism
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mother Teresa is revered by millions of people around the world and inspires legions of Christian faithful. The Albanian-born Roman Catholic nun, who dedicated her life to India's poor, took another step closer to sainthood Sunday, when she was beatified at the Vatican in Rome. 

But some in India question whether the veneration paid to Mother Teresa is in the best interest of their country. The famous nun has her critics, including some who question the authenticity of a miracle cure that has been attributed to her. 

The miracle is said to have taken place on Oct. 5, 1998 — exactly a year after Mother Teresa's death. A woman suffering from a cyst related to tuberculosis sought care at Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.

Fearing the worst, two nuns gave the woman a medallion with Mother Teresa's picture on it. The woman prayed to Mother Teresa all night. In the morning, the nuns said, she was healed. To the faithful, the story represents a divine intercession by Mother Teresa — proof that her compassion for the poor continues after her death. 

It takes two miracles, verified by the Vatican, to become a saint. The first opens the door to beatification, or the formal "blessing" of an individual. 

Pope John Paul II formally beatified Mother Teresa Sunday and the event was celebrated by millions of Christians.  The pope held a beatification mass before a crowd of more than 300,000. The pope called her "a great servant of the poor, of the Church and of the whole world." 

Tears streamed down the faces of some of Mother Teresa's followers, as the pope declared her blessed, one step away from sainthood. A huge tapestry showing the smiling nun was unveiled on the facade of Saint Peter's Basilica. It was an emotional moment for the thousands taking part in the ceremony.

But some in India, where the nun lived most of her life caring for the poor, are skeptical. 

One is Dr. Ranjan Mustaphi from the Balurghat District hospital in Calcutta, who treated the sick woman the nuns say was cured by a miracle. He said the woman's recovery was the result of medical science, not religion.

"At home she was taking anti-tubercular drugs. In addition to that on the basis of religion, she can have a prayer to Mother Teresa also. That is a separate thing — every patient prays to God for relief — but at the same time she was taking anti-tubercular drugs . . .  ," he said. 

Others are criticizing the beatification process because they said it gives false hopes instead of practical solutions to people living in a developing nation trying to give health care to millions of poor.

The beatification of Mother Teresa poses a problem for India, says Fanal Edamaruku, of the New Delhi office of Rationalists International, a private organization that campaigns against what it calls superstition in favor of scientific progress. 

"We in India are facing a serious problem in lack of communication in health services. People in rural areas . . .  are not aware of medical facilities. Many people still think prayer is better than medical care . . . At the same time, here is one big event, which projects that medication is not the way, but miracles . . . can cure you. This . . . goes deep into the big problems that we [are] facing in India," Edamaruku said. 

Mother Teresa's work with India's poor gained worldwide attention. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work with Missionaries of Charity. The group has 500 centers worldwide dedicated to helping the poor and giving homes to the dying people who otherwise would have nowhere to go.

But with the recognition came criticism of what some say is Missionaries of Charity's extreme asceticism. Some charge that given the money connected to those prizes, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars in private donations, Missionaries of Charity could provide much better health care than it does. 

Those assertions are dismissed by the Missionaries of Charity. Sister Paula Marie speaks on the group's behalf about Mother Teresa.

"All I can say to that is that she gave herself 100 percent, and that's all anybody can do — if we give ourselves 100 percent. She did that and she did that faithfully," Sister Marie said. 

The push and pull between science and religion is an ancient one, but one that raises new problems for developing countries like India.

Bolivia's new president is a respected scholar
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LA PAZ, Bolivia — Carlos Mesa, the country’s new president, is a historian and journalist who served more than a year as vice-president in the administration of his beleaguered predecessor, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

The 50-year-old Mesa is a political independent, the product of Catholic upbringing and Jesuit education. Born in La Paz on Aug. 12, 1953, he comes from a family of noted academics. Both his parents were historians.

Mesa developed a friendship with Sanchez de Lozada, a wealthy mining businessman, in the 1980's. The relationship proved to be a key factor in Sanchez de Lozada's tight election victory in July 2002.

Mesa's political star rose quickly under the Bolivian president. He addressed this year's United Nations General Assembly, sounding the alarm that democracy was in danger in Bolivia because of the disenfranchisement of the nation's poor.

Before entering politics, Mesa built a sound reputation as an historian. He came of age in a generation of young idealists in the early 1970s, and received a degree in literature from the Public University in La Paz. He went on to write 10 books, mainly on Bolivian history.

He is also a highly regarded journalist in radio, television and newspapers. He is author of a best-selling book titled "Between the Ballot Box and the Rifle," about the many presidents in Bolivia's often tumultuous past. 

He first entered the public spotlight in 1982, when he launched Cinemateca Boliviana. One year later, 

he started a talk show that brought him fame, with presidents and leading Latin American writers answering his questions. He became deputy editor of a newspaper in La Paz in 1983, and from 1986 to 1990 he headed two television stations. 

But he was best known for creating a television news production company, which in 1999 became a national network, winning international recognition for its reporting.

Many members of the 15-member transitional cabinet are, like Mesa, political independents. 

Bolivia has been torn by weeks of street protests that left as many as 80 people dead and led to Friday's resignation of Sanchez de Lozada. One of Mesa's first acts as president was to visit the town of El Alto, where much of the violence has taken place. 

The new president faces a major challenge in trying to steer Bolivia out of its worst political and economic crisis in more than 20 years. One of his priorities will be to deal with an unpopular plan to build a multi-billion-dollar natural gas pipeline through neighboring Chile to Mexico and the United States. 

Mesa has promised to hold a referendum on the issue. He has also promised to call early elections and step down before de Lozada's term of office expires in four years. 

Meanwhile, de Lozada has fled to the United States, where he told the Miami Herald newspaper he is struggling with feelings of shock and shame. He thanked the U.S. government for its support but said he was sorry it had not given him the $150 million in aid he had requested earlier to help bail Bolivia out of trouble. 

Payson Sheets, a University of Colorado professor, takes a piece of broken pottery from doctoral student Errin Weller at a cemetery excavation. Michelle Butler, a second Colorado student, maps the grave site.
University of Colorado photo by Jim Scott
Arenal footpath network is clue to ancient rituals
By the University of Colorado News Service

BOULDER, Colo. — New findings by the University of Colorado at Boulder indicate tiny footpaths traveled by Costa Rican people 1,500 years ago were precursors to wide, deep and ritualistic roadways 500 years later leading to and from cemeteries and villages. 

During the past two years, a team of graduate students, NASA archaeologists and remote sensing specialists led by Professor Payson Sheets spent much of their time mapping the small footpaths, many of which are invisible on the ground but visible by satellites. The team noticed portions of some footpaths were worn up to 3 meters deep [nearly 10 feet] by people who had trod them over the centuries approaching some of the cemeteries. 

"People traveling such a path would see nothing of the cemetery until they actually entered it," said Sheets. "I suspect, inadvertently, this developed into a cultural expectation, a norm, that gained religious importance as the proper way to enter and exit a cemetery." 

The team also found a "sub-path" — a perpendicular spur off the main path — that went straight up a hillside. The top of that hill is the only locality in the region from which people could view a particular cemetery known as Silencio from afar. 

In one case a village and a cemetery less than a mile apart had a hill in between them. Instead of taking the path of least resistance and walking around the hill, they plodded up and over the top of the hill, creating a straight, deeply worn path opening right into the cemetery entrance, said Sheets. 

A good example is the Poma cemetery in the Arenal Volcano region in the northwest Costa Rican rainforest, he said. There, two parallel footpaths eroded down about two meters, which eventually melded into one path and provided "entrenched exit and entry to the cemetery." Next year the team plans to trace the footpath back to the village of origin. 

Sheets believes this beeline style to enter and exit cemeteries and villages became widespread over the centuries, when more complex societies took it to a higher level by constructing long, sunken roadways entering and exiting villages and cemeteries. A primary roadway from the Cutris site, for instance, which runs straight for many kilometers from the center, was excavated and found to be 30 meters [65 feet] to 40 meters [130 feet]wide and 3 meters [6.5 feet] to 4 meters [13 feet] deep as it entered the chiefdom center, home of the elite village rulers. 

"It appears that the cemetery was not the only sacred place, but so was the territory between the village and the cemetery, and the proper path use was to access the cemetery along precisely the same path used by their ancestors," he said. "The process of entering and leaving cemeteries was part of a belief system that included ceremonial feasting, tomb construction and the breaking of special pottery, grinding stones and other ritual activities at the cemeteries," said Sheets. 

Images of the tiny footpaths, some 1,500 years old, were made by a the National Aeronautics and Space Administration aircraft and the commercial satellite, IKONOS, equipped with instruments that 

NASA photo
Thermal imaging date shows the potential locations of prehistoric footpaths in the forest canopy. The linear features have been accentuated in the image to emphasize their location.
NASA photo
Three footpaths connect a prehistoric cemetery beneath the forest canopy at the top of photo with a natural spring beneath the forest canopy at the bottom of the photo.

can "see" in the light spectrum invisible to humans. The infrared cameras picked up a unique "signature" that caused the paths to show up as thin red lines in the images. 

Packing satellite data and GPS satellite receivers, Sheets, NASA archaeologist Tom Sever, NASA remote-sensing specialist Dan Irwin and Colorado University students Errin Weller, Michelle Butler and Devin White took off on the trail of the ancient ones last summer. 

One surprise was that about 90 percent of the ancient pottery shards from the cemeteries apparently were brought in by people on the Pacific side of the drainage who toted them on paths to the cemetery. 

"This is a fascinating situation," said Sheets. "It appears these people may have had a much more complex network of social, economic and religious contact between isolated villages on both sides of the divide than we would have expected." 

The shards evidence collected in late July indicated ceremonial funerals and elaborate feasting after burial — which included cooking, eating, drinking, sleeping and the smashing of elaborate pots and stones on graves — may have included very disparate groups. 

"My research interests include understanding the everyday lives of ancient people and applying remote-sensing techniques to locate prehistoric sites," said doctoral student Errin Weller. "My experiences in central Costa Rica with CU-Boulder and NASA participants provided a singular opportunity to combine the use of high-resolution satellite imagery and archaeology." 

Master's student Michelle Butler who plotted specific points along the footpath with GPS satellite receivers as part of her work, said the high-tech tools have a huge future in archaeology. "Being able to pinpoint paths and cemeteries used by people over 1,000 years ago is exciting work, and helps us develop a much better picture of who these people were and how they used the landscape." 

Sheets has been working in the Arenal area with the results of aerial photos since at least 1984. NASA  conducted two overflights of the area by Spring 1985 by using a Learjet at an altitude of some 1,000 feet.

Later photography used thermal imaging and other sophisticated methods to track the footpaths in the Arenal area.

According to NASA, Sheets has documented the life of a wandering people who lived around Arenal as early as 10,000 BC, finally settling permanently around 2000 BC. The people raised corn and beans and got the rest of their diet from wild crops. The population never grew large enough to require extensive agriculture. 

The limited population allowed the inhabitants to survive the eruptions of the Arenal volcano, NASA said. After an eruption, the people would move 15 or so miles away, and return once crops began to grow again. This resiliency was probably a direct result of the Arenal people's simplicity; a small society in balance with the tropical ecology could bounce back more easily than could a civilization as complex as the Maya, said NASA. In the end it was likely an epidemic, not an eruption, that doomed the people of Arenal at about the time of the conquistadors, NASA archaeologists reported.

Local firm a front for Cali cartel, U.S. asserts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Treasury Department has designated a Costa Rican company as one of 39 businesses newly listed as firms that act as front companies for the Cali drug cartel.

The company is Jomaga de Costa Rica S.A., also known as Interfarma, S.A., said the Treasury Department.

Through a network of pharmaceutical businesses, the Colombian cartel has laundered money and has penetrated the Colombian economy, said the Treasury’s Foreign Asset Control Office. These front companies form a vital part of the Cali cartel's international money laundering network and this action freezes their assets and prohibits financial and commercial transactions with U.S. nationals, the department said.

In addition to the Costa Rican company, included among the 39 businesses designated Friday are Latinfarmacos and Espibena in Ecuador, Colfarma Peru in Peru, Premier Sales in Panama, and C.A. V.J. Corp. in Venezuela, all affiliated with the international drug distribution of Cali cartel pharmaceutical  laboratories Pentacoop and Farmacoop.

Also named Friday are what the Treasury Department called numerous financial fronts in Colombia, such as Coopdisan, Drofarco, and Incommerce, which are created by the Cali cartel using trusted corporate officers to provide bank 

account services to its business fronts. Inversiones Carfeni and two Internet companies in Spain and Ash Trading Inc. in the United States were also named. Today's action is a follow-up to sanction actions directed against the Cali cartel in February and March of this year. The companies named Friday join 340 on the list.

The department gave this description: 

Jomaga de Costa Rica S.A., (a.k.a. Interfarma S.A.), 200 Norte y 25 Oeste del Restaurante Tierra Colombiana, San Francisco de Dos Rios, San Jose, San Jose, Costa Rica; Numero Judicial # 3-101-76327 (Costa Rica). The firm is a pharmaceutical distributor based in San José. Fernando Villota Galvis, a Colombian national, is the treasurer.

In April 1997, Villota Galvis was named as a U.S. specially designated narcotics trafficker in Colombia pursuant to Executive Order 12978. 

Villota Galvis also is an officer and director in Cali cartel front companies in Colombia. In addition, Giovanny Mauricio Lara Sanchez and Sonia Viviana Forero Salamanca, both Colombian nationals, are president and secretary of the firm. Lara Sanchez and Ms. Forero Salamanca also are employees in a Cali cartel front company in Colombia. 

Further, Jomaga de Costa Rica S.A., (a.k.a. Interfarma S.A.), has a financial relationship with Materias Primas y Suministros Ltda., a Cali cartel front company based in Colombia.

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