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(506) 223-1327                 Published Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 213                 E-mail us    
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Focus of protest now shifts to the Limón docks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The focus of the government and free trade opponents has shifted to Limón where dock workers have upgraded their slowdown to a full-scale strike.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez has reiterated his desire for dialog but insists that he will not do what trade treaty opponents want: withdraw the document from the Asamblea Legislativa.

"This boat has a captain, and the captain knows where he wants Costa Rica to go," Arias told reporters Wednesday.

Meanwhile, union leaders at the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said they would stage another protest and demonstration sometime in November. Workers from that communications monopoly dominated the protests Monday and Tuesday.

The dock workers have other reasons for their strike, although the free trade treaty figured into their grievances too. They are expecting a payment from the government that was promised by the Abel Pacheco administration. The amount is 470 million colons or about $900,000. But they also fear the government will lease the docks to a concessionaire, thereby jeopardizing their jobs.

The tourism minister said Wednesday that the Limón area took a hit because the Carnival Victory skipped a scheduled stop there and went on to Jamaica due to the strike. The loss to the business people and the government was 57 million colons or about $110,000, said Carlos  Ricardo Benavides of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. The boat held 3,000 passengers and 1,050 crew members, he said.

More cruise ships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and Benavides asked union leaders to consider the impact their actions were having on their neighbors.

Reports from the Caribbean say that both the Moín and Limón docks are at a standstill. Workers had been conducting a slowdown that was ruled illegal by a judge.

Central government officials said that since the strike has been declared illegal, the agency that runs the docks, the Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica, could apply unspecified sanctions. They also plan to take steps to make sure the cruise ships can dock.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
That really wasn't George Bush in the anti-trade treaty protest Tuesday. But the Bush mask is more convincing than the rumpled Óscar Arias mask.

The government also is considering holding up paying the money owed to the dock workers and using it as a lever. Much of the nation's agricultural exports pass through the docks on the Caribbean.

Arias, in his discussion Wednesday, said that the government was flexible. He noted that he had promised that he would not let protesters Monday and Tuesday block traffic. But when Universidad de Costa Rica's anarchist club set up barriers on a main road, Arias pointed out that he declined to send in police. He said he did this in part because the police had been disarmed at his order and they would be facing youngsters with sticks and bottles of flammable liquids.

The government is disposed to make concessions when it has to, he said.

He also chided the students for covering their faces with ski masks and bandannas. He said hiding one's identity was not very Costa Rican.

A committee of the legislature probably will send the free trade treaty to the assembly floor in the next few weeks. A debate will begin. Assembly leaders anticipate a vote in January or February.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 213

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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Vendor Carlos Alberto Angulo tells his side to a policeman while Israel Calvo Gómez, a would-be lottery purchaser listens.

Christmas lottery can make
tempers flare on the street

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Christmas might be a time of good will, but that doesn't include the special lottery, the Gordo Navideño.

At least five Costa Ricans will win nearly $1 million each Dec. 17 when the Junta de Protección Social de San José let balls drop from three roulette-style baskets. Lesser prizes will be distributed, too.

But there is discontent on the streets. Wednesday a man was miffed when a lottery vendor would not sell him immediately the ticket with the number he wanted. The vendor said he was busy folding tickets, but the man was insistent.

A policeman had to calm down the situation. Some Costa Ricans play the same number in lotteries all their lives.

Elsewhere, the 40-piece enteros, which are supposed to sell for 28,000 colons ($53.85) are being bootlegged for a higher price, and the junta has inspectors seeking out the scofflaws. There is a continual problem with vendors applying their own surcharge for much-sought-after lotteries like this one and the Día de Madre drawing.

The big winner, of course, is the junta that distributed the profits to a number of social welfare organizations.

Reserva Curré inviting
visitors for culture day

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Reserva Curré is inviting visitors Saturday to celebrate the local Indian culture and perhaps even take a walk to some of the important archaeological sites.

The Reserva Indígena Curré is south of Buenos Aires de Puntarenas on the Interamerican Highway between Palmar and Paso Real. This is the area that is famous for the Devil dances, called danza de los diablitos, which will be demonstrated Saturday, according to an announcement by the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, which is helping sponsor the event.

One reason for the celebration is the inauguration of an exhibition in the community museum covering the pre-Columbian period to the present. There also will be a painting contest for children and the presentation of a book,  “Así es Curré,” by local author José Rodolfo Rojas. This will be in the morning.

In the afternoon, Adrián Badilla, an archaeologist, and local expert Uriel Rojas will give a walking tour of nearby sites of interest, said the museum.

Judge decides not to jail
model agency operator

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A judge has let free an Escazú model agency operator on the condition that he comply with judicial orders, including one that says he should not approach those who have filed complaints against him.

The man faces more than 50 complaints for fraud, and the prosecutor wanted him to be jailed for pretrial preventative detention. The man has the last name of Tabora,

However, a spokesperson for the Poder Judicial said that a judge in the Juzgado Penal de San José decided other measures were appropriate. In addition to staying away from witnesses, the man must follow rules put down Oct. 2 when he was arrested earlier. He may not leave the country and he must sign in with the prosecutor's office every 15 days.

Agents said the man would convince young people, male and female, that they could compete in the modeling business and earn good salaries. He then sought a payment up to 1 million colons (some $1,925) for clothes, cosmetics and other accessories, they said.

Weather alert is lifted for coast
of the Nicoya Peninsula

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commision said Wednesday that better weather has caused it to cancel the alert that was in force for Nicoya, Hojancha, Nandayure and Santa Cruz in  Guanacaste.
The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said that it based its decision on information from the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional that said weather conditions had returned to normal from the winds and low pressure of last weekend.

Meanwhile, cleanup and repairs continue, mainly on the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula and also in the Central Pacific near Parrita.

Road not being closed
because pipe unavailable

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Transport officials were going to close a stretch of the Interamerican Highway near the Panamá border today and tomorrow for repair work, but they have decided to postpone the job.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that contractors were not able to find a pipe big enough for the spot. The site is near the entrance to Veracruz de Corredores. Rain washed away part of the road because the previous runoff pipe was too small, officials said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 213

Investigators say cocaine was headed to Pacific beaches
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law enforcement officers broke up two suspected cocaine rings that had beach communities on their delivery schedule.

The Policía de Control de Drogas of the security ministry detained three persons in raids in Guanacaste and in San José. They said the trio, all part of the same family, distributed drugs between Liberia and as far west as Playas del Coco. A kilo of cocaine was confiscated, they said.

Meanwhile, near Quepos, the Judicial Investigating
 Organization, working on a tip, stopped three vehicles on the Río Naranjo bridge and said they discovered four kilos of cocaine. The vehicles were headed south from Quepos with a possible destination of Dominical.

The drug police said a man with the last names and age of Castañeda Ulloa, 41, was detained, as was his son with the last names and age of Castañeda Céspedes, 23, and a 37-year-old girlfriend with the last names of Ocampo Acosta.

Raids were conducted at the San Pedro de Montes de Oca apartment that was the principal residence as well as locations in Liberia and Coco.

U.S. State Department issues warning to travelers over Nicaraguan elections
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. State Department is warning U.S. citizens that they might face violent demonstrations in Nicaragua during the period leading up to national elections Nov. 5.

In a statement, the department said that demonstrations and sporadic acts of violence are possible.

“Protests and demonstrations can be unpredictable in time, place, and intensity. In Managua, clashes most frequently occur between the Nicaraguan National Police and university students,” said the State Department.  “They can involve firing tear gas, rubber bullets and homemade explosive devices, throwing rocks, burning tires and  vehicles, and blocking roads.  In the past, bystanders have been injured. The potential for demonstrations and sporadic acts of violence also exists during the elections and in the immediate aftermath.”

The State Department failed to mention that there is a perception in Nicaragua that the United States is campaigning for Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense candidate Eduardo Montealegre. This has generated bad feelings in some quarters.

One candidate who is a front runner is Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional's Daniel Ortega Saavadra, the man
who was the country's president during the war with the contras in the 1980s. The United States has been working against him.

Other candidates include José Rizo Castellón of the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista and Edmundo Jarquín of the Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista who has been campaigning in Costa Rica for the Nicaragua vote here.

Another candidate is Edén Pastora Gómez of the Alternativa por el Cambio. He was the leader of the southern Contras during the civil war.

U.S. officials have been warning Nicaraguans that the election of Ortega would shut off investments from the north.

One critic of U.S. involvement is Oliver North, the former marine lieutenant colonel who became enmeshed in the Iran-Contra affair as part of the Ronald Reagan administration. The newspaper La Prensa said that North arrived in Nicaragua Sunday night in apparent support of Riza.

North has called the State Department policy incorrect in that it is supporting Montealegre and splitting the anti-Sandinista vote.  He said State Department officials should have given their support to Riza.

International Baptist Church plans its Fall Festival for this Saturday
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

International Baptist Church members are busy putting the finishing touches on preparations for their traditional Fall Festival to be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.  

Now in its third year, the Fall Festival has grown each year. Last year's festival drew about 500 people.

Organizers promise all kinds of games and booths with activities such as: clowns, face painting, bobbing for
apples, watermelon eating contests, musical chairs, water balloons, and hayrides with prizes for many of the activities.  In addition to the activities, there will be plenty to eat, including hot dogs, juices, soft drinks, sweets and
other food and candy, they said.

Church members emphasize that this is an event for all children and youth in the surrounding communities. All are welcome and entrance is free. Although a costume is not required, organizers are inviting both children and adults to wear one, but they ask that there be no witches, ghosts, goblins or other scary characters.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 213

Bolivia emerges as possible compromise candidate at U.N.
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela and Guatemala have failed to agree on an alternate candidate for Latin America's open seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Voting resumed Wednesday with Bolivia emerging as a possible candidate for the post, but results remained inconclusive. Diplomats say negotiations are expected to resume today.

The only outstanding seat on the 2007 Council already has been put to more than three dozen votes in the General Assembly.

U.S.-backed Guatemala has prevailed over Venezuela in all but one of the votes, but failed to secure the two-thirds majority needed to win the seat.

Bolivian President Evo Morales says his country is now competing for the Latin American seat. He has said
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, a strong critic of President George Bush, told him Bolivia should run in Venezuela's place.

However, Venezuelan officials say they have not withdrawn their candidacy for the seat and that nominating Bolivia is just one option under consideration.

This latest vote takes the total number of rounds since Oct. 16 to 36. In the 36th round, when 121 votes would have been enough to secure victory, Guatemala obtained 109 votes and Venezuela received 72. There were no abstentions. Guatemala has led in every round so far, with the exception of the sixth round on the first day of voting, when the two countries were tied.

Balloting will continue until a state from the region achieves the required majority. There is no limit to the number of rounds of voting and in 1979-80 there were a record 155 ballots before Mexico was chosen from the Latin American and Caribbean Group to serve a two-year term.

Bush and Dominican Republic president say they are pushing for trade pact
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

President George Bush said the United States is working to implement the U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement as quickly as possible.

Speaking with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernández Reyna at the White House Wednesday, Bush said, “[O]ur government is committed to working [with] you, Mr. President, to get this done.”

The trade pact is the largest free-trade agreement the United States has concluded in more than a decade.  The signatories include Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica, in addition to the Dominican Republic and the United States. All but Costa Rica have ratified the agreement.  In the United States, the pact was ratified by the U.S. Senate in June 2005, by the House of Representatives in July 2005, and signed into law by President Bush in August 2005.

Bush congratulated Fernandez for the 9 percent Dominican economic growth in 2005 and said it is “in the interests of the United States that the Dominican Republic have a strong economy.”
The president also said the two leaders discussed the need for multilateral institutions to help with the Dominican Republic’s cash flows and cash demands.

Regarding cooperation against drug trafficking, Bush said the United States will continue to work on diminishing its
demand for illicit drugs and will work with the Dominican Republic and other countries on interdiction and law enforcement.

“[T]here is a direct correlation between drugs and crime, and the more we can cut down on drug use, and drug trafficking and drug supplies, the easier it would be for respective countries to protect their people,” he said.

Fernandez said that his country is also working hard to obtain a speedy implementation of the free trade pact, and that monetary assistance from multilateral institutions can help “maintain the confidence in our countries and also to help the sustainability of our economies.”

To implement the agreement countries must change a multitude of laws to concur with the pact. In Costa Rica this is called the complementary agenda, and these changes are in the Asamblea Legislativa along with the agreement itself.

Argentine prosecutors seek arrests of Irainian officials in Jewish center bombing
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Argentine prosecutors have asked a judge to issue an arrest warrant against top Iranian officials in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman said Wednesday that Argentine officials had determined senior Iranian
authorities ordered the attack on the Argentina Israeli Mutual Association. He said the attack was carried out by the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah. The bombing killed 85 people and injured some 300 people.

No one has been convicted in the attack, one of the worst in Argentina's history.

Iran has repeatedly denied involvement in the bombing.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 213

Surf tournament Saturday in memory of missionary who died after mishap
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jacó surfers are planning a memorial tournament in honor of a Christian missionary who died in April.

The event will be Saturday with signups on the beach in front of the Hotel Bohío, said an announcement.

Being honored is Alexánder Castro Guevara, a member of  Christian Surfers International. Castro was hit by a car in downtown Jacó not far from the Christian Surfers mission where he worked April 23. He was riding a bike after dark. He died without regaining consciousness in Hospital México April 30.
The tournment entry fee is a donation of at least 5,000 colons that will go to the missionary group. That's about $9.60 or more. Signup is at the W.O.W. Surf Shop. Three classes are planned: minors 17 and under and men's and women's categories 18 and over. Boards must be nine feet or longer.

The Santa Barbara, California,- based Christian surfers group has 145 chapters all over the world. In Jacó and in  the Cantón de Garabito, the group is known for repairing schools, collecting and recycling trash on the beach as well as its religious activities. Castro was well known in the community as well as in San José where he grew up. He lived in Jacó for four years.

Deportivo Saprissa history
being recounted in book

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This one is a guaranteed best seller.  Deportivo Saprissa will unveil a book recounting its history Tuesday. It is "Saprissa Siempre Grande."

The authors are Bernardo Méndez and Enrique Weisleder, both former presidents of the club. The book charts the history of the "always great Saprissa" from its founding in 1935 to the present, including the last national championship in April.

In all, the team has won 24 national championships and 10 international championships. It joined the nation's first division in 1949.

The team colors are purple, said to be the result of a laundry error with red clothes years ago. The mascot is the Purple Monster, a dino-like critter.

Mexican businessman Jorge Vergara bought the team in 2002 and is credited with injecting new life into the team.

Saprissa next plays Carmelita Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Estadio Carlos Alvarado en Santa Bárbara.

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