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These stories were published Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 220
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Concerns voiced over space for high season
By Clair-Marie Robertson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tourism industry in Costa Rica has high hopes for this year’s peak tourist season. This is according to Marcela Rojas Gómez of the tourism chamber. "We are eagerly anticipating a successful season for tourism this year," she said.

Ms. Rojas did highlight a few concerns that the Camara Nacional de Turismo has. The Camara does not believe that there are enough rooms to accommodate the large influx of tourists in high season. 

"The private sector insists that to begin new projects with better incentives the country has to put together an organized strategy of development that clearly defines the sort of tourism that they are offering," said Ms. Rojas, head of the chamber’s department of development and future projects.

The increase of tourists in 2003 and this year have become a threat to the sector because of the possible lack of rooms, according to representatives from the private sector and the government.  Ms. Rojas said she believes that a failure to build more hotels could produce a deficit and provoke a collapse of the tourist industry during Costa Rica’s high season.

Tourism continues to be the main arm of the Costa Rican economy. According to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo this high season may see up to a 16 percent increase in passenger arrivals. 

Ms. Rojas said that a study created by the Association of Professionals in Tourism has revealed that Juan Santamaría Airport may be on the brink of collapse because of the high 

amount of passengers. Ms. Rojas said she and the chamber are concerned about this and believes that this situation could dissuade tourists from visiting Costa Rica again. 

Liberia airport action BELOW!


According to the data collected from a study, the terminal has the same capacity as it did 10 years ago. In 1994 1.2 million passengers arrived at the airport. According to estimates the airport will receive 2.5 million this year. That’s more than twice the official capacity.

The chamber also has voiced concerns about conditions at Daniel Oduber Airport.

Ms. Rojas said that this year will be a record year for tourism in Costa Rica. From January to July of this year the amount of tourists who arrived at Juan Santamaría and Daniel Oduber in Liberia increased by 28 percent compared to last year’s figures. 

The trend of tourism in Costa Rica suggests that there will be an increase of around 10 percent compared to last year according to the institute’s studies. Ms. Rojas says that one of the main reasons is the fact that airline tickets are much more affordable compared to three years ago when fewer airlines flew to Costa Rica. 

European tourists arriving to Costa Rica also have increased because of lower fares and more flights, according to Rojas. Several airlines such as Air Madrid and Iberia among others have begun direct flights to Costa Rica. 

For Ms. Rojas these are the reasons why the chamber of tourism is hoping for a satisfactory high season for the country and especially for the tourist sector. 


 
It was the morning after the night before
Very briefly Tuesday night I visited the Centro Cultural in Sabana Norte to join a throng of American Embassy people, some U.S. citizens and many Costa Ricans who were invited to watch American democracy at work. 

Outside the centro white tents were up to protect the people from the rain that remained at a pelo de gato (cat’s hair) stage most of the evening. I am always surprised at the number of guards, police, and checkpoints that one must pass for U.S. Embassy activities. These people usually are very friendly and helpful. 

Although it was a gala gathering with lots of food and drink, big TV’s and red, white and blue decorations, I didn’t stay long. I could see that it was going to be an evening of standing and juggling wine glasses and paper plates while trying to listen to the election returns against the backdrop of a very large crowd of people chatting away in several languages.

I prefer more intimate groups, so I repaired to a small gathering at some friends’ house. It was not exactly a giddy gathering and, having been up since 5 a.m., I left before 11. In the morning when I awoke, the phrase, "There is no joy in Mudville," kept going 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

through my head. This is before I even turned on the TV.

So, as is my wont when I am blue, I went into my kitchen to cook something — anything. I usually regret this action because of the mess I leave for myself to clean up. In this case I made some French potato salad and marinade for pork chops. I have a tip for other cooks that I came upon by accident. To keep fresh basil fresh, put them in water as if they were flowers and put a plastic bag loosely over the leaves. They last for a couple of weeks. This does not work for parsley. 

So John Kerry remains a U.S. senator and George Bush remains the U.S. president, and I think I have been cured of my addiction to politics and political punditry. Intermittent reinforcement can start an addiction. Aversion therapy works wonders at curing it.

 
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Deaths, missing woman
focus of investigations

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two murders, a suicide and a pregnant woman who has disappeared in suspicious circumstances have kept the investigators busy in the past two days. 

Thursday about 2 p.m. Alan Murillo Blanco, 24 was stabbed in the throat with a knife. He died from his injuries later that afternoon at San Juan de Dios Hospital.  The incident occurred in Barrio México, San José, close to Bar Castros. Investigators say that he was attacked because he was attempting to steal a television set from a house. Murillo was chased, caught and then stabbed by a man who investigators say was the owner of the television. 

At 9 p.m. Wednesday a man was shot and killed in Alajuelita. He was Aron Alvarez Miranda, 28, Investigators said he arrived at his home and a man approached him and shot him six times. Alvarez was dead at the scene.

About 10 p.m. Wednesday investigators were called to the scene of a suicide. The victim, Eduardo Handel Redondo, 33, was found in the bathroom of his house with a bullet wound to his temple. A rifle was found near his body. 

Investigators confirmed that he committed suicide and are currently concerned for the welfare of his wife. Teresa Marbel Pineda, 27. The woman, from Nicaragua, was seven months pregnant. 

A spokesperson for the Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed that agents are excavating the patio of the house seeking the woman. Investigators noticed that the earth had recently been disturbed around the patio area. 

New film explores
oil drilling on coast

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new Costa Rican film hits theaters today. It is "Caribe," a 90-minute drama revolving around the impoverished Caribbean coast.

The bad guys are the North American oil executives who would drill off the Caribbean coast, so the film already is winning plaudits from the environmental organizations.

The director is 30-year-old Esteban Ramírez, and this is his first feature film, although he has won praise for several shorts.

Cuban actor Jorge Perugorría is the male lead, Vincente. He wants nothing more than to live a peaceful life with his wife Abigail (Spanish actress Cuca Escribano).  But first Vincente is hit with a pullout by a banana company. Then the oil company arriving, splitting the community between those who wish to protect the area and those who see the new industry as a source of jobs.

The Federación Costarricense para la Conservación del Ambiente, an environmental group, has been quick to promote the film, as the unequal battle between the community and the company. The organization is quick to identify the real life oil company as Harken Energy, which is associated with the Bush family.

Harken failed in its efforts to obtain help from the Sala IV constitutional court last month, so it probably will seek international arbitration to compensate for Costa Rica pulling the plug on oil drilling.

Colonial coins heart
of museum exhibit

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Colonial money, mostly made in Spain, will be the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening next week at the Museos del Banco Central below the  Plaza de la Cultura in downtown San José.

The title is "Escudos, Reales y Maravedís: Moneda de España y América durante la Colonia 1500 -1825." Museum officials promise some 150 authentic pieces of colonial money in the Museo de Numismática.

About 75 of the specimens are on loan from the Museo Casa de la Mondea de la Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre de Madrid. and a number of examples will be of pieces minted in the Americas, including Bogotá, Lima, Potosí and Guatemala, said a release on the exhibit.

The exhibits also will address the cultural significance of the money as they relate to conquest and trade.

Horse-faced woman
a winning character

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Barbara Halen, a local writer, is the winner of the A.M. Costa Rica Third Annual Halloween Short Story contest. She was one of five contestants.

Her story ran Oct. 26. Judges were editors and writers of the newspaper. They liked her use of local folklore and the way she wove the tale of La Segua, the horse-faced woman, into a scary story.

Ms. Halen wins the prize of $25. Second place was a story about El Cadejos by Kevin Huey, who also used local folklore, the demonic dog that stalks persons at night.

The newspaper will continue the contest next year.

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More positions approved at troubled Liberia airport
By Clair-Marie Robertson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government has responded to complaints by the Camara Nacional de Turismo, and more people will be hired to work and improve security at the airport in Liberia, Daniel Oduber International. 

The camara predicted that the airport will receive in excess of 180,000 passengers. The airport will receive 34 instead of 17 weekly flights in high season.

The government has agreed to contract more people and have also decided to develop a plan to improve the security in the airport. The urgent request was made as the tourism chamber became aware that the airport was struggling to cope with tourist arrivals in low season. At the end of September, Alberto Lopez Chavez expressed his concern to reporters.

"The airport in Liberia has many flaws and, at the moment, there are not enough people working there. In its current state the airport would never cope with such a large influx of people," said Lopez, executive director of the Camera Nacional de Turismo de Costa Rica.

The main issue focused on the fact that no employees had been hired since 1995. Despite the growth of air traffic and passengers, the number of employees stayed at 106.  An increase in flights to the airport with the opening of new routes to Liberia from the United States and Canada also concerned the chamber.

The government has been promoting the airport as a way for North American tourists to have quick access to the Pacific beaches. Landing in Liberia cuts at least three hours of land travel compared to landing in Alajeula.

A commission set up to investigate the running of the airport confirmed that five new positions have been advertised in security and in immigration. The vacancies will be filled at the latest by next week. 

In addition to these improvements, the operating hours of the airport will be extended to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. with the possibility of remaining open for delayed flights until 10 p.m. The airport will only remain open if the correct personnel can be obtained. At the moment delayed flights are re-directed to Nicaragua, Panamá or to Juan Santamaría Airport in Alajuela. 

The Papagayo Project, which is heavily dependent on the airport, will be donating two quad bikes to help improve the security around the airport. 

The tourism chamber still believes that more people should be employed at the airport, especially at customs, where there are only four employees.  William Rodríguez the president of the tourism chamber, said that the group will continue pushing for the necessary answers. 

"There is still a way to go, but with these reinforcements the airport will have a more fluid operation during high season, which is what worries us the most at the moment. We will continue and we await the next meeting on the 6th of December to obtain more solutions," said Rodríguez.


 
Some tips for preparing that holiday turkey
You may have noticed that the editor has changed my picture. One reader complained that it looked too much like Saddam Hussein. Although this one is far more flattering, the other made me very recognizable. Readers have introduced themselves at a concert in Ciudad Colón, in supermarkets in Santa Ana and San José, at a Little Theater performance in Escazú and in a gas station in San Rafael de Alajuela. 

I may have to shave my beard and don shades to remain anonymous in restaurants. 

Mary from the supermarket offered a recipe that she created after reading the guava confusion column. A former favorite of hers was cold guanabana soufflé: the tart juice from a large (1-1.5 kg.) fruit boiled with two or three packages of gelatin and a cup and a half of sugar, thickened with four tempered egg yolks and mixed with stiffly whipped egg whites (four) and heavy cream ( a cup). 

Her new version skips the gelatin and sugar and uses instead a jar of pectin rich guava jelly. She also reduced the eggs from four to three. "Fabulous. Much better," she chortled. 

Grace (?) from the gas station wanted a recipe for roast turkey "now that many markets carry frozen birds for the holidays." She has had bad luck with "dry and tasteless birds."

Turkey tips:

1.) Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, rather than at room temperature, to avoid salmonella problems. It may take 48 hours for a large bird.

2.) Brine the bird in very salty water, two cups of salt per gallon of water with enough to cover. I combine the two processes by defrosting the turkey in the salt water. Don’t use an aluminum pot. If you don’t have a large enough porcelain or stainless pot for large birds, use two heavy duty plastic bags, one inside the other, tied at the top and left in the fridge for two days. Brining adds flavor and makes the meat juicy. When you are ready to prepare your feast, rinse the bird very well and pat dry.

3.) Most recipes tell you to salt the bird well inside and out. DON’T. The brining has added enough saltiness. 

4.) Rubs and glazes are not the same. Glazes burn if you put them on too early. Rubs go on and/or under the skin before the turkey goes in the oven. A simple rub is to coat the skin with flavored sesame oil or butter and then sprinkle with sweet paprika for color. If you want to get fancy, carefully work your hand under the skin over the breast and thighs without tearing the skin. Smear soft butter and finely shredded fresh herbs (e.g. thyme, sage and tarragon) into the space. 

For a glaze, you might try guava jelly or marmalade straight from the jar. Paint it on three or four times at 20 minute intervals during the last stages of roasting and it won’t burn unless your oven is too hot.

5.) Particularly with large birds, you have to use low heat, 300 F. at most, or the white breast meat will be dry as cardboard by the time the meat near the bone is cooked. Use a meat thermometer and aim for 165 degrees deep in the thigh. You will have to be more patient than ever before and start 

Dr. Lenny Karpman

On 
the 
food
we eat

 

earlier. Your roasting time will be 3 and 1/2 to 5 and 1/2 hours, depending on size (average bird= 6 to 10 pounds, large is 10-16, expect an additional 25 minutes per pound over 16). 

Remove from the oven and let it rest for about half an hour before slicing and serving. The meat will actually continue to cook for the first several minutes and the temperature will probably reach 175. Place the bird on a rack over a roasting pan. Put two cups of water and chunks of carrot, onion and celery in the bottom. Start with breast side down for the first two and a half hours to assure moistness, then turn just once with able bodied help.

6.) For the gravy, try a two-step version to make the final phase less stressful. First, make a roux with two tablespoons each of flour and butter, lightly brown in a dry skillet and slowly add a quart of rich chicken stock while stirring. This part can be done at any time while the turkey is roasting. The result is a bland gravy that is not too thick. 

When the turkey exits the oven, pour the drippings in the pan into a Pyrex measuring cup. Pour off two thirds of the fat. Remove the large aromatic vegetables from the pan. Deglaze all the caramelized bits off the bottom and add with the drippings to the gravy. Simmer on the stove. Season for taste. 

7.) Don’t stuff the turkey. Make the dressing in roasting pans, precook and you can reheat and brown the top in a hot oven while the turkey is resting. The same is true for reheating precooked candied sweet potatoes. Using the relatively low temperature method to assure a juicy tender turkey, you might never thoroughly cook the dressing inside the bird to a degree that is safe to eat without risking bacterial contamination. Enjoy.

Tempering egg yolks: If you were to add beaten egg yolks to hot liquid, they would scramble. Instead, lower the temperature of the liquid to simmer, remove a few tablespoons of the liquid at a time and add to the bowl with the eggs while stirring or whisking vigorously until the volume is increased by half. It is then safe to pour the egg mixture into the hot liquid and stir. 


 
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Latin reaction to Bush victory pragmatic, resigned
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

As the final result of the U.S. presidential election was determined, people throughout Latin America reacted to the news of President George W. Bush's victory. 

The news of another Republican victory in the White House brought mixed emotions in Latin America. Leaders throughout the region, including those in Costa Rica, sent their congratulations to President Bush, many expressing hopes of increased relations during the next four years. 

Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, called to congratulate Bush, repeating his desire to advance bilateral relations with the U.S. and to work together on issues such as immigration, security and terrorism. 

Guatemala's president, Oscar Berger, assured his citizens that Guatemala was in the heart and mind of President Bush. Berger said the country wants to improve working conditions for immigrants and will look to the U.S. for help in modernizing its military. 

However some citizens and analysts were disappointed with the result. The majority of Latin Americans were against the U.S.-led war in Iraq, and consequently supported Democrat John Kerry in his bid for the presidency. 

Although geographically close, many critics have charged that relations between the U.S. and its southern neighbors have deteriorated in recent years, as the Bush administration has been occupied with the war on terror in the Middle East.

In Argentina, citizens expressed an array of feelings on the streets. 64-year-old real estate agent Bruno Teyka was indifferent. 

"If one wins or the other, it doesn't make any difference to Argentina because they don't even take us into account," he said. "From what I've read, the political analysts said that they didn't even mention Latin America, and even less Argentina."

Raul Fernández, a 40-year-old Argentine businessman, supports President Bush.

Fernández said the United States is playing a very important role right now on the world stage, and that is security. "We all have the possibility to grow, to progress but if we don't have security around the world, anything could happen to us," he said. "It could happen to us here in Argentina or in any part of the world. I've always seen Mr. Bush as a winner, and if it's like that, then everything is good." 

In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent words of support to President Bush. However, Marcilio Moreira, Brazil's former ambassador to the United States under President Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr. said most Brazilians are not happy with the result. "They are reacting with dismay," he said.

"The people on the streets, the people in the universities, the press, the people in Congress, they are really disappointed that the president (Bush) has chosen war instead of peace, has chosen aggressiveness instead of negotiations."

In 2000, President George W. Bush campaigned on the hope of increasing relations between the U.S. and Latin America, a desire that was somewhat derailed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

Many in Latin America are now hoping to build upon that promise now that the Bush administration will govern the United States for the next four years.


 
U.S. spokesman formally criticizes Cuba's treatment of dissidents
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The United States has condemned what it calls Cuba's continuing repression of reformists.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher Thursday said political prisoners under the Castro regime have been beaten repeatedly while in prison. He also said seven prisoners who were released due to illness continue to face daily harassment, re-arrests and lengthy interrogations.
Havana has imprisoned some 75 people with 

sentences averaging 20 years in a crackdown on dissidents that began in March 2003.

Boucher called on Cuba to end the abuse of reformists, and to release all of its political prisoners. Said Boucher:

"The world denounced the Cuban government's repression, and the United States, the European Union and  others took steps to encourage the Cuban regime to release these prisoners of conscience. These measures have ensured that the Cuban regime knows the world is watching."


 
Summit in Río gets under way with focus on poverty and Haiti
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — A regional summit of Latin American leaders is getting under way here where talks are expected to focus on fighting poverty in the region and peacekeeping efforts in Haiti.

Leaders from 19 Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Venezuela, Peru, Argentina, Nicaragua and Mexico are attending the two-day 

conference, which opened Thursday.

Brazilian officials have increased police presence around Rio de Janeiro ahead of the event. 

The conference comes just days after a historic election in Uruguay brought a socialist president into power, following a regional trend of governments led by left-leaning or center-left leaders.


 
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