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Jo Stuart
About us
These stories first were published Friday, Nov. 2, 2001
A.M. Costa Rica photo
It's a day
to recall
lost kin

Otto Hernandez considers his floral selection carefully at a makeshift stand erected near the San José General Cemetery at Avenida 10 and Calle 24. 

Helping him make a decision Thursday is vendor Josefina Jiménez Abarca, who will be putting in long hours to accommodate cemetery visitors. 

Today, Nov. 2, is el Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. In Costa Rica, the celebration is more sedate than in other Latin lands, but those who have lost close relatives will go to the cemetery containing the family plot and place flowers of remembrance.

Some like Hernandez will work in their visits during working hours because schools, offices and stores are open today.

International aid sought for Central American tourism
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank are gearing up to help smaller countries, particularly in Central America and the Caribbean, ride out the recent economic blows. 

The Permanent Council of the OAS met in special session this week to address the need to reinforce security at airports to bolster tourism in hard-hit smaller countries. 

The OAS council called on its development arm, the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and 

Development, and its special tourism unit to come up with projects to reverse economic recession and unemployment in the region.

Development Bank President Enrique Iglesias predicted that the negative economic climate would begin to get better in the second half of 2002.  He said international bankers predict a 2 percent growth rate at that time, which he said would be good news for Latin countries.

OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria stressed the need for "projects aimed at stabilizing the situation, and reversing economic recession and unemployment in the region"

Retirement is even better here in small pond Costa Rica
Unexpected Gifts 

When they retire, most people probably are able to involve themselves in a hobby they have long had (like growing roses or repairing furniture). But I have never been a hobby person.

The only hobby I ever had was making up Double Crostics, something few people have ever heard of and even fewer ever want to solve. Given free time, I am a game player ó especially games like charades, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuits. Reading is such an important part of my life I don't consider it a pastime. 

One of the surprising rewards of living in Costa Rica has been being able to return to the things I loved doing years ago ó like writing a column for a newspaper and acting, both of which I did when I was in college. Off and on through the years, I have acted in little theater Ggroups (and once was part owner of a legitimate theater in Hollywood), have written for newsletters and even wrote a health column for women. But all of that was many years ago. I didn't expect to get back to these things when I retired. 

I moved to Costa Rica pretty much the way I have made any of my past 50 or so moves: I threw myself into the new pond to see if I could swim. Once here, recovering from job burnout and becoming adjusted to a new culture, making new friends and getting settled took time and energy, but when I finally raised my nose above water, I realized I could act (not in the theater sense) instead of react. 

Making friends in Costa Rica has been easier than in any of the cities I have lived in before, in part because the foreigners who live here are already preselected. We all have in common the desire and willingness to try a new culture, to venture into a bit of the unknown. And then, because Costa Rica is really a small town, you dare to try something that might have intimidated you in your own country. 

I had the good luck to work with the cast and crew of "Ten Little Indians," the Little Theater Groupís latest production. Our ages ranged from 17 to 74, 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

and we were a wonderfully compatible group. We 
came from at least five countries, including Costa Rica. Most of us had lived in more than one country, in places as far flung as the Canadian Arctic, New Zealand and Africa. 

Everyone seemed to have lived singularly interesting lives. Yet, those of us who were retired agreed that this was the best time of our lives. This has given me something to think about lately. Although being retired is a happy condition in itself, living in Costa Rica has a great deal to do with our sense of well-being.

I've been thinking about what I have here: a beautiful and peaceful country unlikely to be threatened by another world power, large or small, a host country whose citizens are gracious and charming, a climate that requires no air conditioning or heating, a great variety of good food at reasonable prices. These are all conditions that contribute to the good life. 

Having solved the problem of bureaucratic red tape and other frustrations by simply not owning anything except essentials, I am generally unhassled by the minutiae of living. Here, I am free of the subtle pressure to be a consumer. (I am eternally grateful that no Fifth Avenue window dresser has come here to work on window displays in San Jose.) I have the time and opportunity to make and enjoy friends. How does that song go? . . . "Iíve got the sun in the morning . . ." 

If I want to, in one day I can watch the sun dawn over the Atlantic and watch it sink into the Pacific at sunset. It is very easy to be content in Costa Rica. 

Measures against money laundering tighted up by major nations
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An international bank watchdog group will expand its efforts to fight financing of terrorists.

The group is the Financial Action Task Force that just completed a meeting in Washington. It is an anti-money-laundering body that includes 29 governments plus the European Commission. The group adopted eight recommendations that are designed to tighten the international flow of money.

High on the list was the informal transfer of funds. The recommendations require countries to crack down on alternative remittance systems such as the informal or underground banking groups that allow users to transfer funds through agents and thereby maintain anonymity.

The task force also will require members to strengthen customer identification measures for wire transfers and to ensure that charities are not misused to finance terrorists. The recommendations reaffirm countries' responsibility to ratify the U.N.

Convention on the Suppression of Terrorist Financing and to implement relevant Security Council resolutions.

In addition to the recommendations, the task force adopted an action plan calling for members to come into full compliance with the new standards by June 2002. The task force said it will take "appropriate steps" against countries that have failed to take measures against terrorist financing.

The possibility also was suggested that the member nations might assess economic sanctions against countries that do not follow the rules.

The group gained new life with the attacks of Sept. 11 when U.S. officials concluded that terrorists must have had extensive international financing.

Since then, the United States has designated a number of groups, including three in Colombia, as being terrorists. As a consequence, financial transactions that might touch these groups will be under the most strict scrutiny.

Worldwide economic slowdown will be worse in Latin America
By Greg Flakus
A.M. Costa Rica wire services 

The worldwide economic slowdown, made worse by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, is expected to have dire consequences for emerging economies of Latin America. Close trade links with the United States have proved to be both beneficial and troubling at this time of crisis. 

The whole world is feeling the effects of Sept. 11 and the dramatic slowdown in the U.S. economy. But nowhere is the effect quite as strong as in Latin America. Most of the economies in the Americas are linked to the United States through direct trade and through other ties having to do with geography and culture. 

For excample, Mexico sends 85 percent of its exports to the United States and is tied directly to the U.S. economy through the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA. But economists say structural reforms and a steady monetary policy will help Mexico weather the storm. 

That will not be true for many other nations, particularly in South America, says economist Michael Gavin. "It looks a lot more serious, a lot more long-standing, a lot more intractable if you look at the rest of the region," he said. "Argentina is notorious, it is now in its fourth year of recession. People are less aware that Peru is in essentially as deep and as long-lasting a recession, that Chile has barely recovered, or had barely begun a meaningful recovery from the Asian shock, before it was hit by the current situation." 

Gavin said policies adopted by some of these nations have made it harder for them to recover, and he expresses the fear that some of them may not be able to wait for a worldwide recovery. 

Even Mexico, with its ties to the globe's biggest economy has reasons to be concerned. All three of Mexico's main sources of foreign income are directly tied to the United States ó oil, tourism and remittances, money sent back home by Mexican immigrants. This year alone, Mexican immigrants north of the border sent back $8 billion to family members back in Mexico. Judy Shelton, professor of international finance in Monterrey, Mexico, said these three pillars of the Mexican economy are all at risk now. 

"All three have been hit hard by what has happened since Sept. 11. Oil, because of the worldwide recession, could come down and that provides 37 percent of the federal budget here, those revenues," she said. "Tourism has been hit hard and on the remittances, they are okay for September as I understand, but they also are going to fall off because a lot of people working in the U.S. economy are in the hospitality industry, in hotels or restaurants, and they are losing their jobs because those companies are cutting back." 

Mexican economist and television commentator Roberto Salinas Leon said Mexico could also benefit from the reluctance of international investors to put their money elsewhere in the developing world. "Among emerging market economies, we are considered a safe haven. Investors are more likely to invest in Mexico than, say, in Turkey, Argentina, Brazil or other emerging markets that are suffering a similar fate," he said. 

Salinas says Mexico's trade link to the United States through NAFTA has contributed to its downturn at this time, but that the same link will allow it to benefit even more when the U.S. economy turns around. 

Readers offer tips to help keep those computers humming
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two readers have suggested computer tips. One tip makes sure you get the most current copy of A.M. Costa Rica. The second tip is designed to frustrate e-mail viruses.

Carol Calkins of La Fortuna, a computer professional, says that in addition to refreshing their Explorer Internet browser by hitting the control key and the F5 function key, there are two things PC owners can do to make sure they have the newest page.

Under the "tools/Internet options-advanced" tab readers should select No.1 to insure that the computer automatically checks for Explorer updates.

Under the general settings tab, readers should select No. 2, telling the computer to "Check for Newer Versions of Stored Pages:  Every Visit to the Page."

Without these choices, the computer frequently is content to display the page it put into memory the last time the page was visited. Program designers provide this option because many Internet pages do not change frequently. But A.M. Costa Rica updates its pages five times a week.

In Netscape Navigator, a competitor to Explorer, the adjustment is slightly different to make sure you get the freshest possible page. 

In the "preference folder" found under "edit" in the pull down menu readers should scroll down to the advanced section and select "cache." There they have a choice that says "Page in cache is compared to page on network: 1.) every time, 2.) once per session, 3.) never". 

Readers will want to select "every time" and click in the circle next to that phrase. Then they must click "OK" to close the preference box.

Simon Shaw of Escazú has a way to trick computer e-mail viruses so they do not send out multiple copies of themselves to everyone in your address book.  He is using Microsoft Outlook, the e-mail program that runs as a companion with Explorer.
"Imagine how you would feel if you were unknowingly infected with a computer virus, and worse yet, your friends, family, and business contacts were being targeted by your computer," Shaw said. To avoid this he provides this tip:

This tip won't prevent YOU from getting any viruses (you have to scan those attachments yourself before opening them to do that), but it will stop those viruses from latching onto your address book and sending itself out to others.

To avoid spreading computer viruses, create a contact in your e-mail address book with the name 0000 with no e-mail address in the details.

This contact will then show up as your first contact. If a virus attempts to do a "send all" on your contact list, your PC will put up an error message saying that: "The message could not be sent. One or more recipients do not have an e-mail address. Please check your address book and make sure all the recipients have a valid e-mail address."

You click on OK and the offending (virus) message will not have been sent to anyone. Of course no changes have been made to your original contacts list. The offending virus message may then be automatically stored in your drafts or outbox folder. Go in there and delete the offending message. Problem is solved and virus is not spread.

Ex-president Juan Bosch 
dies in Dominican Republic

By A.M. Costa Rica wire servcies 

The former President of the Dominican Republic, Juan Bosch, 92, died in Santo Domingo from an acute respiratory crisis. 

Bosch was a dominant figure in Dominican political and intellectual life for several decades. He was the founder of two of the three leading political parties in the Caribbean country. They were the Dominican Revolutionary Party, which currently rules, and the Dominican Liberation Party, which is in opposition. In 1973, Bosch founded the Liberation Party from the leftist faction of the Revolutionary Party. 

His political career began during the 1930s when he fought against the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Trujillo was assassinated in 1961.

After the death of Trujillo, Bosch, who had been exiled, won the presidential election of 1962. President Bosch was deposed in a military coup after seven months in office and again forced into exile. He did not return to Santo Domingo until 1970.   Bosch also was a distinguished author. 

Guerrillas blame army
for death of tourist

Leftist Colombian guerrillas have claimed responsibility for kidnapping a British tourist, but blame the army for the man's death. The National Liberation Army, or ELN, says it seized Jeremy Parks Sunday as he traveled on a late-night bus from a remote jungle town in the Choco Department to Medellin, northwest of Bogota. 

The guerrillas say they released the 28-year-old Mr. Parks a few hours later when the army launched an attack against them. The ELN says the Colombian military killed the British backpacker during the fighting. 

The ELN has called on the British Embassy in Colombia to investigate the death. Parks died from a severe head wound, apparently caused by a grenade. 

Mexicoís Day of Dead
includes Sept. 11 toll

Nov. 1 is celebrated in Mexico as the "Day of the Dead." This holiday, which mixes indigenous and Spanish colonial traditions, is a day to honor relatives and friends who have passed on to the world of the dead. This year there are special remembrances for those who died in the United States in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

On a corner outside the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City there is an altar full of flowers, candles, food items and pictures. It is an ofrenda, an offering, to those who have died. This traditional Mexican "Day of the Dead" altar has special meaning because of its location by the embassy, on the street where long lines of visa-seekers line up each day. Its symbolism is made all the more evident by the photos of the World Trade Center and other references to the tragedy of Sept. 11.

One of the Mexicans who helped build the altar is Marcela Cortina de Sauro. "We had this idea about two weeks ago that we wanted to do something very special to show our solidarity with our friends because we have so many friends in the United States," she said.

U.S. pulls ambassador
over remarks by Chavez

The United States has temporarily recalled its ambassador to Venezuela to protest recent criticism by Venezuela's president of the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan.

U.S. officials say Ambassador Donna Hrinak is in Washington to review relations between the two countries. She is expected to return to Caracas later this month.

The move comes days after President Hugo Chavez appeared on state television and compared the unintended deaths of civilians in Afghanistan with the thousands killed in September's terrorist strikes on the United States.

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