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These stories first were published Friday, Nov. 16, 2001
Manuel Antonio group
plans major initiative
starting with monkeys

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A group of hotels and businesses in Manuel Antonio have banded together to save squirrel monkeys from modern electric lines.

The project is the first stage in a major environmental initiative by the group, and includes a plan to levy a tax upon themselves to generate funds for projects.

The group is the Association for the Conservation of the Tití Monkey, the name in Spanish for the cute white-faced creature that English speakers call the squirrel monkey. The group has hired a San Pedro-based executive director full time to show they mean business.

If the group had to rely on volunteer labor, it would have trouble accomplishing the ambitious program, according to Jim Damalas, owner of the well-known Si Como No Hotel in Manuel Antonio. 

The hotel is near the park where the group has scored its first victory, the insulation of about 2 to 3 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) of electric line to keep the frolicking monkeys from killing themselves by grabbing a hot wire.

The next step, said Damalas, is to insulate the lines all the way to Quepos, the nearest town.

The group is concerned at what it sees as the degradation of the environment in and around Manuel Antonio Park, a crown jewel of Costa Rica by anyone's measure.

"The most alarming indicator of the ecological future of the region is the situation faced by the mono tití or Costa Rican squirrel monkey," said the group’s Web site (www.ascomoti.org). "This cute subspecies of monkey, S. o. citrinellus, is found only in the area around Manuel Antonio and Quepos and it is on the verge of extinction."

The group cited a study that said about 1,500 individuals of this subspecies and approximately 4,000 individuals remain of the whole species, down from a population estimated at 200,000 in 1983. 

The group said the principal cause of death of the monkeys are the electric lines. The Costa Rican Electrical Institute started insulating the lines in August. That not only protects the monkeys and other animals, said Damalas, but it also allows the trees to grow more naturally and closer to the lines. In the past, electrical workers hacked back the trees to protect the bare wires.

The next step for the group is to develop a more extensive monkey project in which individual monkey troops are located and corridors of vegetation are developed to let the monkeys move about to search for food and mates, according to the Web site. Members have donated about $70,000 for the project, but they need more money if they are to do all they want to do, including hiring a full-time biologist.

Damalas said the group has a plan to self-tax members to provide a steady income stream for these and additional projects. 

In addition to Hotel Si Como No, members of the association, as listed on the Web site are: Amigos del Río, a rafting and expedition company; Cafe Milagro, a local coffee roaster; El Gran Escape; Hotel La Mariposa; Hotel La Plantación; Hotel Makanda; Hotel Parador; Hotel Vela Bar; Villas Nicolas, and Iguana Tours.
 

Book lovers seek
help for new library

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Manuel Antonio-Quepos book lovers are looking for help to set up a drive to raise funds to fix up a building for a public library.

Kris Krengel, president of the Cultural Association of Quepos/Manuel Antonio, said that the municipality has donated a structure that is "in massive need of repair."

He described the association as being a mixed group of Ticos and expats hoping to increase the cultural level in the beach community. He asked for readers of A.M. Costa Rica to help with the project.

"If we are sucessful in our quest we could be an inspiration and a model for similar projects in other towns," said Krengel. "We have already gotten monetary and book donations from several local citizens as well as from friends in the USA. However, as we are just starting, any help from anyone is a blessing and a gift."

They are seeking books and texts in Spanish and English from reference tomes to magazines, he said.

Krengel can be reached at 777-2280 and through this e-mail address: probibliotecaquepos@yahoo.com

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart


Fear of Flying: A Cure

My sister, Annetta, sent me a column from the Toledo Blade by Tom Ensign lamenting his difficulties with air travel. In spite of having insurance, he had trouble getting a refund when he had to cancel his flight to California. I recently traveled from here to California and back, having to change my flight schedule, and Continental gave me no problem. They couldn’t have been nicer. And I didn’t have mishap insurance. 

Twenty-five years ago I suffered from a crippling fear of flying — the kind that necessitated a double scotch even at 8:00 in the morning in order to board the plane. Finally I got tired of arriving at my destination with a hangover and decided I had to do something if I was going to continue to fly. I did finally come upon a cure.

Back in those days they had machines in the airports where you could buy flight insurance on the spot, mail a copy to the recipient and a copy to the insurance company. I had regular insurance for family through my credit card, but I would buy an extra $50,000 policy and send it to a casual friend, someone who would never expect it. 

As I white-knuckled through the take-off (the time I had learned was the most dangerous), I began my little fantasy. The plane was going to crash. That was a given, and I ran through that scenario quickly. Then my thoughts jumped to my friend going to the mailbox and discovering he or she was the recipient of $50,000 they never expected. I savored the thrill they would experience, the total surprise that it was I who was their benefactor. Then I thought about all the things this person was going to do with this wonderful windfall. A trip, a new house ($50,000 was a lot of money back then), some realization of a dream. I was responsible, and I was going to be remembered for a long, long time. 

Once the plane was leveled at cruising speed, I was practically euphoric. When the pilot announced we were about to land (a very dangerous time, so of course, we were going to crash), I went back into my daydream. 

Usually the result of these flights was a telephone call from that friend to ask me if I had made a mistake or something. When I explained my motive, they usually said, "Anytime, happy to be of service — you nut."

With time I no longer needed to take out the insurance policy. Perhaps I had been conditioned to expect the plane to land, perhaps it was because many people confessed they had mixed feelings about my safe arrival. Whatever, it worked and I no longer am afraid of flying, even today.

However, I dislike flying intensely. Trains and ships are much more civilized. Train stations are usually in the middle of the city. You walk out, and you’re there. Ships make up for their location by the fanfare of boarding. I love dining on a train, and even on a ship, even though I may toss my meal later. Flying has only one advantage: speed, and sometimes I wonder at that, when you add up the hours before and after the flight.

First I must travel to the airport (naturally, out of town) and be there two hours beforehand, then walk, with luggage for sometimes six city blocks, to get to my gate. Then I am wedged into a narrow seat (how do people who weigh thirty pounds more than I fit?) 

By the time I have finished my meal and am sitting there trapped by my tray like a toddler in a highchair, I feel like throwing a tantrum. I guess some people do. So far I have heard of no road rage on trains or ships. I keep hoping someone will wise up and 1) start building a transcontinental railroad from here to Alaska and south to Chile, and 2) reinstate travel by ship. Once you could. 

My neighbor, Denyse, has crossed the ocean thirty times by ship. She has nothing but fond memories of those trips. Today we have forgotten that getting there is half the fun. That’s really what life is about, isn’t it? 

More of Jo's columns are HERE
 
Check out our back issues by going to our indexes for past months:

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October     November

Starbucks has deal for Costa Rican coffee producers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A big U.S. coffee retailer will pay more cash per pound to coffee suppliers and producers who pay their workers minimum wage and stick to other worker safety laws and environmental practices.

The company, Starbucks Coffee of Seattle, Wash., announced a test program involving Costa Rica at a coffee producers’ convention here this week. The company will pay up to 10 cents more per pound to coffee producers who meet their guidelines.

"Global coffee production can only be sustainable if it is economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sensitive at all levels of the supply chain," said Orin Smith, Starbucks president and CEO. 

Starbucks has a long-standing practice of paying premium prices for coffee, and has always paid an average of at least $1.20 per pound. That's good news for producers who are getting record low prices for coffee this year.

Starbucks will now provide additional premiums of up to 10 cents per pound to vendors based upon how well their coffee samples meet the standards. 

Suppliers wishing to participate will be required to provide independent, third-party verification of their performance against the guidelines.

"With these guidelines, Starbucks is taking a leadership role in addressing the environmental and social issues surrounding the global coffee industry," said Glenn Prickett, executive director of The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business. 

"We hope that the success of this program demonstrates to the rest of the coffee industry that they can benefit by producing coffee in a way that protects global biodiversity and improves the livelihoods of coffee farmers."

Because significant changes in origin countries require flexibility and patience, the guidelines are being introduced as a pilot program for the 2002 and 2003 crop years. Feedback from participants 

will be used to make adjustments to the program and updates will be published at the completion of each year.

These guidelines are based on the following four criteria:

—Quality Baselines: All coffee offered by producers and suppliers must meet Starbucks quality standards in order to be considered for purchase. 

—Social Conditions: The standards for coffee production should ensure protection from workplace hazards and conform to local laws and applicable international conventions related to employee wages and benefits, occupational health and safety, and labor and human rights.

—Environmental Concerns: Coffee growing and processing standards will contribute to conservation of soil, water and biological diversity; employ efficient and renewable energy technologies; minimize or eliminate agrochemical inputs; and manage waste materials consistent with the principles of reduction, reuse and recycling.

—Economic Issues: Coffee production and commercialization should benefit rural communities by boosting producer incomes, expanding employment and educational opportunities, and enhancing local infrastructure and public services. Vendors will be expected to provide reliable documentation regarding prices paid to their suppliers.

The guidelines are based on the recently published Conservation Principles for Coffee Production, which were developed jointly by Consumers Choice Council, Conservation International, the Rainforest Alliance and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Starbucks and other industry leaders played an advisory role in the creation of these principles. 

Starbucks and The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business received important feedback from industry, academic and non-governmental organizations on the Starbucks guidelines. The Starbucks sourcing guidelines and all supporting documents can be found online at www.starbucks.com and www.celb.org.

Canada and U.S. moving closer on border issues
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States and Canada share the longest undefended border in the world. The two countries have been discussing ways to harmonize immigration laws and security on their border. Those talks have taken on new urgency in the wake of Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington. 

The shared U.S.-Canadian border stretches 4,800 kilometers (2,880 miles). Two hundred million travelers cross it every year, as do $360 billion in trade goods. 

Since 1994, a trade treaty called NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, has linked Canada, the United States and Mexico. Senior officials from the three countries started talking this past summer about "NAFTA Plus." The proposed expansion of the agreement would further integrate continental trade by reducing crossing times at the border and allowing the free flow of goods and services through checkpoints. But attention on both sides of the border has now shifted from trade to security, and added security has slowed crossing times even further. 

Many are hoping that within the near future, Canada and the United States will take the next step to sharing immigration and customs operations around the world, harmonizing their laws in these areas. 

One of them is Greg Boos, an immigration lawyer in Bellingham, Wash., near the U.S.-Canadian border on the West Coast. He says better cooperation along the border is essential, but to be done effectively, the two countries need what he calls a "perimeter strategy," where coordinated immigration and custom laws make entering one country the same as entering both. 

"Canada and the United States need to work together to screen people before they get on airplanes in Europe and Asia for a terrorist background. Actually, Canada and the United States could combine their databases on terrorism. They could staff the pre-clearance facilities together. I think that's a long ways off, but I think what happened on Sept. 11 as we recognize we need that now," he said. 

On the Canadian side of the border, the president of the Public Policy Forum, David Zussman agrees. "The events now sort of focus our attention away from economic activities to security ones. And although the issues remain probably very much the same, the prism or the lens that this will be looked at is probably a little bit different now. In other words, we're now going to be more preoccupied with people and security — particularly the security of the United States. And we'll be less pre-occupied with the movement of goods," he says. 

The threat of terrorists entering the United States from Canada is real. Convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty in April of conspiring to commit an act of international terrorism. He was arrested trying to enter Washington State from a ferryboat that originated in Victoria, Canada. He was found with almost 60 kilograms (132 pounds) of explosives in the trunk of his car. Ressam later testified that he was planning to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. 

Gene Davis is a retired deputy chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in Blaine, Wash. He favors better cooperation between Canada and the United States. During his time with the Border Patrol, the agency encountered terrorists a number of times, he said. This included Abu Mezer, who failed to cross the western border three times but was eventually shot by New York police while trying to bomb the city's subway. 

"Over the last number of years, when I was still with the border Patrol in Blaine, we had four separate incidents involving terrorists. Two of them. One that in 1996 an individual was getting ready to bomb the New York subway that was shot by the New York Police Department before he had an 

opportunity of doing that. And of course, in December of '99 we had the situation with Ressam who had entered the United States through Canada on his way to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport," he says. "So certainly, this has been a problem in the past." 

Jim Phillips is the president of the CanAm Border Trade Alliance, an organization that aims to unify both countries on border issues. He said despite the terrorist threat, the overwhelming majority of people and goods crossing the border are legitimate. But he does not believe that binational cooperation will result in the elimination of the border, as is the case in Europe. 

"I think that you're going to find out that 99 percent of people can cross without problems, someday, not too far away. But, it's not going to be elimination of the border. I do not see the total elimination of the border like Europe. And I'll tell you why. I think there are, you've got intellectual property problems. [You have] firearms situations. I once was quoted and I think I'm right, if you totally eliminated the border without making equivalent steps, you would have more guns in Canada in the first month than the entire armed services of the Canadian Forces have," he says. 

Increased security at the border has slowed crossing times, and many feel that shared intelligence and harmonizing immigration regulations between Canada and the United States is now more important than ever. 

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has adopted a cautious approach. He said existing security arrangements and proposed legislation will take care of the issue for now. 

"We will pass Canadian laws for Canadian situations," Chretien said. "And this is an occasion we have a law on immigration that has been passed by parliament and received Royal Assent last week. And we're working on a security bill now. It's in front of committee. My view is that Canada will be as secure as the United States. But they'll do it their way, and we'll do it our way," he says. 

Many of Canada's politicians, like Chretien,see the discussion as a politically controversial issue of sovereignty. However, news reports here in Canada say that an agreement is in progress between the two countries to share information and establish joint overseas checkpoints at 77 different airports. Travelers would be checked out before boarding flights headed to North America. 

Balancing the cross border movement of trade while maintaining security will be difficult. Canada and the United States are each other's largest trading partner, and tens of thousands of trade-related jobs are on the line. People on both sides say if border security issues are not dealt with carefully, the current economic downturn will only deepen in both countries, giving a victory to the terrorists of the attacks on Sept. 11.

U.S. Immigration Service
will be split in two parts

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced a major restructuring of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to separate its law enforcement function and service to immigrants.

Ashcroft says the restructuring will allow the agency to better assist new immigrants and prevent aliens who support terrorist activity from entering the United States. The attorney general says America welcomes immigrants who want to elevate and promote freedom, but will not welcome those who seek to destroy freedom and subvert liberty.

Ashcroft says immigration reform had been planned before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but the urgency is greater now. Some13 of the 19 hijackers in the terrorist attacks entered the United States legally, but no entry records exist for the other six men. 

Reader troubled by essay and 'dictatorial powers'
By Edward B. Winslow 

In his rambling and contradictory essay Peter Raven-Hansen concludes that the U.S. will never give up the protection of the law. But he describes activities recently undertaken by the U.S. government as those that might appear in a police  state.

He cites how a police state "would quickly arrest suspects, potential witnesses . . .  and secretly decide who should be called guilty." Yet he forgets to mention that the names of the nearly 1,200 people that the government has arrested for  "spitting on the sidewalk" offenses in its unsuccessful search for terrorists have not been released. More sinister are the reports that these arrestees have effectively been denied bail or advice from counsel. Even Raven-Hansen concedes that  "questions remain about how easy it has been for detainees to exercise the right (to have access to an attorney)."

He also uses some twisted logic to assert that the unorthodox President George W. Bush’s executive order that calls for military tribunals for trying suspected terrorists is not a "personal fiat." Yet the executive order calls for Bush to decide which defendants the tribunals would try. Beyond Bush, or at his discretion Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, there is no authority to overturn a tribunal’s decision. 

Bush is quoted in The Washington Post as saying, It is "not practicable" to require the tribunals to abide by the  "principles of law and the rules of evidence" that govern U.S. criminal prosecutions. This dangerous precedent allows a panicky U.S. government, led by a poorly advised president to assume what New York Times columnist and former Nixon  speechwriter William Safire calls "dictatorial power."

"The president’s decision is further evidence that the (Bush) administration is totally unwilling to abide by the checks and balances that are so central to our democracy," warned ACLU spokeswoman Laura W. Murphy. 

A reply to an opinion essay

"The use of military  tribunals would apparently authorize secret trials without a jury and withhold the requirement of a unanimous verdict.  (The  military tribunals) would limit a defendant’s opportunities to confront the evidence against him and (to) choose his own lawyer,"  Murphy added."

After his lengthy discussion about Fourth Amendment issues and particularly wiretaps or other communications interceptions, Raven-Hansen omits the mention of the recent onerous assault on civil liberties which allows electronic surveillance of conversations between attorneys and their clients. Raven-Hansen merely says, "the new law still falls short of the unrestricted surveillance, which we would expect in a police state." 

But, ACLU spokeswoman Murphy said, "This is a terrible precedent. It threatens to negate the keystone of our system of checks and balances: the right to a competent legal defense."

"The regulation removes all judicial review from eavesdropping, allowing the government to listen in anytime (Attorney  General John Ashcroft) believes there exists ‘reasonable suspicion’ that a conversation between an inmate and counsel has  any connection to ‘terrorist activity,’" Murphy added. "Each and every person in this country must be given the constitutional  right to private consultation with legal counsel," she said.

Raven-Hansen concludes, "In its quest for protection from terrorists, the United States will never give up the protection of law." But one must ask, in this feverish climate where even liberals are seeking ways to justify torture to solve the terrorism  problem, why does he feel this is so?

Mr. Winslow is a free-lance writer in Denver, Colo.


IMF reduced projection
on eve of big meeting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has reduced its projections for global economic growth for the second time since the terrorist attacks
in New York and Washington.

The IMF cut its global forecast for 2001 to 2.4 percent from the previously announced 2.6 percent and for 2002 to 2.4 percent from 3.5 percent. The U.S. growth forecast was slashed from 1.3 percent to 1.1 percent for 2001 and from 2.2 percent to 0.7 percent for 2002.

The latest estimates unveiled by IMF managing Director Horst Köhler on the eve of the IMF meeting in Ottawa, Canada, reflect effects of the Sept. 11 attacks on the global economy.

In a Thursday press conference Köhler said that the economic situation is "clearly difficult" but "manageable" with a recovery still expected around the middle of next year.
 

Shots targeting lawyer
who defends drug lords

A Mexican lawyer who has defended several accused drug lords has survived the fourth attempt on her life since 1998. 

Authorities say Silvia Raquenel Villanueva was leaving a courthouse in the City of Monterrey Wednesday when a gunman in a passing car sprayed the building with bullets. There were no reports of injuries. 

Ms. Raquenel Villanueva has survived two shootings since 1998 — one at a Mexico City hotel. A bomb also exploded at her Monterrey office the same year, causing some damage. 

The lawyer is best known for defending Carlos Resendez Bertolucci, who allegedly was involved with the Gulf cocaine cartel. He also provided prosecutors with testimony that led to the 1994 conviction of drug cartel kingpin Juan Garcia Abrego. 

Wednesday's incident took place three days after gunmen shot dead two federal judges in Mexico's western State of Sinaloa. Authorities, however, do not know if the two incidents are related. 
 

Four gunmen hijacked
small plane in Guyana

Officials in Guyana say four armed men have hijacked a small commercial aircraft to neighboring Brazil. 

Officials say the gunmen seized control of the 13-seat Trans Guyana airlines plane Wednesday and forced the pilot to land on a remote airstrip in Brazil. Police say the hijackers, identified only as two Colombians, one Brazilian and one Uruguayan, escaped into the jungle. 

Eight passengers and one pilot on the Cessna Caravan aircraft were not injured and the plane returned to Guyana after the gunmen fled. A top airline official called the hijacking a well-organized operation. 

Officials say the routine flight originated in the southern town of Lethem and was headed to the capital, Georgetown when the plane was diverted. 

Confidence in Argentina
continues free fall

Confidence in Argentina's economy continues to fall, despite a breakthrough agreement reached late Wednesday on the government's deficit reduction plan. 

The widely watched J.P. Morgan EMBI risk index, which reflects the lack of investor confidence in a country's credit-worthiness, increased by 40 basis points for Argentina, hitting a new record.

Confidence fell even though an agreement was reached late Wednesday for the governors of Argentina's three-largest opposition-run provinces to accept a government deficit-reduction plan. The provinces have agreed to cuts in their share of federal-tax revenues, which will help the government balance its budget.

The government of President Fernando de la Rua is also trying to restructure most of Argentina's $132 billion public debt by offering lower interest payments to bond holders. A key part of the plan is to reduce government spending in order to qualify for another multi-billion dollar bailout from the International Monetary Fund. 
 

U.S. House, Senate
in air safety accord

U.S. lawmakers are expected to vote as early today on a compromise bill to make flying safer in the United States following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

A quick vote would permit the aviation security bill to go into law before the Thanksgiving holidays, when U.S. air travel is usually very heavy. A deal was reached Thursday between House and Senate negotiators who were discussing two competing bills. 

Under the accord, which would take one year to phase in, airport security screeners would become federal workers. After another two years, airports would be able to opt out and go back to letting private companies do airport screening, but under federal supervision. 

In the meantime, five airports will be allowed to experiment with this private-government hybrid system. The House bill had proposed keeping airport screeners as private employees, while the Senate had unanimously passed a bill to federalize the screeners. 

The cost of federalization is expected to be passed on to passengers, with airlines charging an extra $2.50 cents per boarding. 

Meanwhile, United Airlines says it will become the first major U.S. airline to put stun guns in every cockpit of its 500 planes to help pilots fend off any hijackers. 

Stun guns fire an electrical charge that is designed to incapacitate an attacker for about 15 minutes. The move is subject to federal government approval. Most airline companies have already reinforced their cockpit doors. 

Thursday, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said new technology will make the United States safer. He said one way to enhance security at airports is to use technology-based solutions. 

Protestors in Mexico
oppose new airport

Thousands of protesters blocked major avenues in Mexico City Wednesday, and clashed with police before moving peacefully to the city's central plaza to establish a camp. 

The protesters are upset about plans to locate a new airport on their land. In a clash on one city street, demonstrators threw rocks and attacked Mexico City riot police with machetes. Police responded with their batons and detained seven people. At least five protesters and two policemen were injured in the clash. 

Mexico City Security Chief Leonel Godoy says his forces tried to avoid conflict. He says "it is unfortunate that this violence occurred because the protest has nothing to do with Mexico City." Godoy says "his police were only trying to keep the protesters from blocking city streets." 

The demonstration was directed at Mexico's federal government and President Vicente Fox. It was a protest against Mr. Fox's recent decision to locate Mexico City's new airport in the community of Texcoco. The people living in Texcoco, 23 kilometers east of Mexico City, are solidly against the plan. 

Most of them are farmers who say the government is expropriating land they have had in their families for generations and offering them about what it would cost to buy a soft drink for each square meter. The people of Texcoco have found support from various sectors of Mexican society, including environmentalists, who say the construction of the airport there would have a negative impact on migrating birds. 

Brazil will not be punished
for environmental record

A top U.S. trade official says the Bush Administration will not impose trade sanctions against Brazil and other nations based on their labor and environmental records. 

Assistant Commerce Secretary William Lash made his comments Wednesday during a visit to Brazil. Authorities there welcomed the announcement as good news. 

Brazil and other countries objected to the Clinton-era policy of using the labor and environmental clauses in a free trade treaty as a form of protectionism against their goods. 

Lash says the Bush administration is trying to persuade Congress to give it so-called "fast track" authority to negotiate trade agreements.  The authority would allow the executive branch to submit a trade agreement to congress for approval, with no allowance for modifications. 


 
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