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These stories were published Monday, Nov. 22, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 231
Jo Stuart
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Quake preparedness 101
What you can do before the next big one hits
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For expats, the earthquake early Saturday could be a wake-up call to take steps against an enevitable next one.

Much of the damage Saturday came on properties that had been built on filled land or sand. The most concentrated damage was on Isla Damas just off the coast in the Pacific from the mainland some 10 kms. north of Quepos. Some 80 homes suffered some degree of damage and perhaps 40 were heavily damaged.

During an earthquake such land liquifies and fails to support constuction. Those building homes here might try to build on rock instead of sand. Plus modern steel reinforcements should be used.

The level of damage in Quepos seemed to be consistent with the level of construction. Carports and structures on stilts crashed because the uprights could not handle the sway caused by the quake.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias de Costa Rica has a list of suggestion on its Web site. Here are some:

Take steps before an emergency to prevent damage.

Fix tall furniture to the wall and inspect the home for possible problems. Tack down any other loose items, if possible.

Know where the water valve, electric main switch  and the gas valve are located.

Have bottled water, non-perishable food, medical supplies, especially necessary prescription drugs, and extra clothes at hand, 

along with a radio and several flashlights with extra batteries.  Some sections of Quepos were without water for more than 24 hours this weekend.

The commission encourges parents to take their entire family on tours of the house to point out shutoffs and possible trouble spots.

The commission also suggests keeping a full set of keys outside the home along with copies of personal identification documents. Keys also should be kept near deadbolted doors.

In the event of a quake, the commission says the family should head for the most secure place inside or outside the main structure. 

After a quake, the commission says, check out family members for injuries, survey the property for damage or danger and stay off the phones except in cases of emergency.

The commission advises that someone should check the gas, water and electricity before turning it back on.

Stay alert for aftershocks, the commission says. There were at least 89 following the Quepos main 6.2 magnitude quake, and the strongest was 4.6.

Some other suggestions from the Commission:

If driving, stop the vehicles in an area without tall trees or electric poles that might fall, and stay off bridges. One death early Saturday may be the result of a motocyclist being unable to handle a highway that moves.

Elevators in highrises or condos also should be avoided during and after a quake, the commission said.

School is out today in the earthquake zone
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

School is out today in Parrita and Quepos while officials continue their evaluation of damage from Saturday morning’s earthquake.

More than 500 homes suffered some damage, and about 40 homes on Isla Damas and others around the earthquake zone suffered heavy damage.

Television and Spanish newspaper reports claim that six persons died, but they included a man on a motorcycle who hit a pole on a San José highway, several hospitalized elderly and others. There are no reports of deaths directly linked to the quake.

Some residents of the area continue to sleep outside, as do some residents of the Central Valley. They fear another quake. A long string of aftershocks followed the 2:07 a.m. quake.

Roads and highways took a hit. A 2-year-old resurfaced highway from Parrita to Quepos sustained some deep cracks. Road crews will be on the job again today. Despite the damage, the road always was open.

A bridge over the Río Largato on Route 2, the Interamerican Highway, will be inspected in more detail today for presumed structural damage. 

The Braulio Carrillo highway, Route 32 from San José to the Caribbean coast, was closed for nine hours Saturday because officials feared more landslides. 

In the Central Valley, officials learned of six homes with light damage in Frailes de Desamparados and in Trinidad de León Cortés. 

In Llano Bonito in León Cortés two homes were destroyed and three were damaged. The Roman Catholic church there suffered structural damage.

The Quepos-Manual Antonio area is one of heavy tourism. Hardly any of the tourism infrastructure suffered damage. The area with the greatest damage was north of Quepos, and the quake’s epicenter was at Plaza Damas.

A.M. Costa Rica’s special coverage published Saturday morning, is 

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Perú will disregard
decision on Berenson

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Perú — Peruvian officials say they will not free a U.S. woman serving a 20-year sentence for terrorist collaboration, even if a Costa Rica-based human rights court orders her release.

Foreign Minister Manuel Rodriguez said Saturday if the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in San José, orders Lori Berenson's release, Peru would refuse.

The court will discuss the case this coming week.

Berenson was arrested in 1995 and accused of involvement in a failed attempt by the rebel Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement to seize Peru's Congress.

A military court initially convicted and sentenced Berenson to life in prison for treason. 

That sentence was overturned and she was re-tried by a civilian court. She was acquitted of being an active member of the rebel group but convicted of helping the guerrillas plan the attack on the Congress.

Berenson has maintained her innocence. 

Radio for Peace’s Latham
will talk on technology

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

James Latham, the head of Radio for Peace International, will talk about technology’s dangerous side at a new speaker’s forum in Escazú Tuesday.

Latham will speak for about an hour, said organizers of the new event that is designed to present good, experienced speakers with great, informative topics.

Latham will talk about a range of topics from atomic toasters to nano technology, according to an announcement.

The forum will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at a private dining facility in Los Anonos. Admission is 1,000 colons, and more information is available at 289-6333, 821-4708, or 289-6087.

Thanksgiving at Unity
will be on Sunday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Unity-Costa Rica will be having a Thanksgiving dinner Sunday starting with a 10 a.m. bilingual service leading to turkey and gravy at 11:30 a.m.

Tickets for the dinner must be purchased by Wednesday, the church said. Tickets are 4,000 colons a person, some $8.85.

Unity is 350 meters south of the Shang Hai Restaurant, Piedades de Santa Ana. For more information, call 203-4411 or e-mail

Our readers write

Just say no to spending,
he tells politicians

Dear A. M. Costa Rica:

Have you noticed in the last couple of years the rise in prices in things you buy? Did you notice it even more in the last year? OK. Everyone acknowledges it is taking place in the country, except the politicians. It’s a subject they seem to avoid. Articles that you read in the newspapers mention it, but never explain it. They sometimes out of ignorance blame it on diabolical outside influences beyond their control. Well it seems that few look up the definition of the word in the dictionary, so here it is: 

"an increase in the volume of money and credit relative to available goods and services resulting in a continuing rise in the general price level."

Got the picture yet of the cause? OK, here’s a hint. When the government of a country that controls the printing presses of its currency spends more money than it takes in through taxes and fees, the only way to pay the bills is to do what? 

Yep, you got it pilgrim, print more of the colorful stuff. They can even supercharge the inevitable forces of economic laws by making things easy to buy with easy to obtain credit backed and controlled by the government. Can anyone say, "Greenspan?" Result, more inflation. 

So when the unions line up their minions for parades, get the truck drivers to block roads, air traffic controllers strike, teachers abandon their classes, ICE workers go on strike, etc everybody demanding more money and the politicians don’t have the courage to just say no and give into all the money demands, the only way the government can meet the demands of more money than they have budgeted the printing presses work overtime. Result, more money chasing available goods and services bring more inflation. It is a very vicious cycle that only the government can stop but just saying no and stop the printing presses. 

An example of political courage (actually an oxymoron) for you to ponder would be President Reagan when he warned the air traffic controllers of the U.S. when they went on strike for more money that anyone who didn’t return to work on Monday would be fired and never, ever work for the government again in any capacity. Hundreds didn’t believe him. Boy was that a wrong choice. Hundreds lost their paltry $75,000 a year job with enviable government benefits to find themselves out of work and unable to replace the income ever again. 

Oh yeah, the union went broke too. The ones that gladly replaced them are much more cooperative for some reason. 

So come on politicians, show a little more of the "Giff". Only you can control inflation in your country so stop blaming everyone else. 

Phil Mattingly 
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President Abel Pacheco addresses the meeting of the Iberoamerican heads of state
Uribe welcomes observer status in Plan Puebla Panamá
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said that by including his country in Plan Puebla Panamá, his citizens will get better streets and communication access and at the same time telecommunications and education will improve.

He was speaking after the Central American heads of state and president Vincente Fox of México agreed to give Colombia observer status in matters related to the plan.

Plan Puebla Panamá is an integration of the six Central American nations and the southern states of México. Fox and Uriba announced last May 31 that Colombia was interested in becoming more involved.

The ambitious plan forsees uniting the electrical power grid of Central America as well as upgrading the highways. A plan to construct and improve an Atlantic highway from northern Costa Rica down the Caribbean coast to Panamá is part of the proposal.

The meeting of officials from each country involved in the plan took place at the XIV Cumbre Iberoamericana, held Friday and Saturday at the Hotel Herradura west of San José.

Later President Abel Pacheco met privately with Uribe and reported that both countries had agreed to increase the commerical interchange between both nations.

The inclusion of Colombia in the Plan Puebal Panamá is touchy because that country is involved in a long-
running civil war between the govenment, leftist revolutionaries and right-wing militias. The U.S. government has branded the revolutionaries and the militias as terrorists.

Uribe met the press Friday afternoon shortly after his country was granted observer status. He said he was disgusted and saddened at the murder of Danilo Anderson, a Venezuelan prosecutor who died in Caracas Thursday night. 

The prosecutor was in charge of investigating the failed coup against President Hugo Chavez.

No major hemispheric meeting is complete without a protest. These demonstrators were protesting the U.S. presence at Guantanamo Bay and the U.S. embargo against trade with Cuba. Fidel Castro, Cuba’s leader, did not make the summit this weekend.

A.M. Costa Rica photo/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas

An expression to encourage you to take a chance
El que no se hecha al agua no pasa el río

"One who won’t jump into the water can’t cross the river." The meaning of this expression is obvious. Sometimes we need to take chances in order to move on to something better. Or, how are you going to know what the water is like if you never get your feet wet?

I assume, gentle readers, that most of you probably already know this expression from your own experience, because you took the risk of moving to another country, with a new language and culture. Maybe we don’t learn everything there is to know about your adopted country, but it’s fun and exciting trying.

This expression can be used to describe many situations. Simple risk taking is just one of them. It could also apply to a travel adventure, or falling in love or even a business enterprise. Meeting new people is a perfect example. If we wait for the other person to come to us, we might never get to know them, so it’s better to just jump right in and get acquainted before it’s too late. 

You can’t find out what treasures lay beyond the river without crossing to the other side, and I don’t mean by crossing a bridge. That’s far too easy, and it takes a lot of the adventure out of the endeavor. 

As you may know, in the Costa Rican outback there are plenty of streams that don’t have bridges to cross them on. I remember once we went to Sámara with a friend from the States. While we were over there we decided to drive to the next town, Nosara. On the return trip we took the back roads and soon found ourselves confronted with a creek that had no bridge across. 

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

So, in our Mitsubishi 4 X 4 we just forged ahead. But our friend, being a city boy from Chicago, was terrified and wanted us to stop. The water wasn’t more than a half-meter deep, and of course the Mitsubishi pulled through the creek bed like a knife through hot butter, much to the relief of our friend. But it’s good we didn’t stop as he had so nervously demanded. I’ve heard him recount the story of that little adventure a hundred times, and the most exciting part always comes when he talks about fording that little creek. 

If you have never been to the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula near Sámara, Nosara, and Carrillo, I highly recommended it. There are still long stretches of beautiful unspoiled, unpopulated beach, and the sunsets at Carrillo are spectacular. Occasionally too, you might encounter a lovely babbling brook in your path. Go ahead! Get your feet wet.

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Chile summit promotes plan for Pacific rim trade pact
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SANTIAGO, Chile — The summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum has come to a close here with an agreement to continue working towards a free-trade area of the Pacific rim. 

The final declaration from the Santiago summit included initiatives to promote more free trade within the framework established by the group, to increase security and anti-terrorism efforts, and to enhance cooperation generally in the Asia-Pacific region.

The summit host, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, read the declaration. He said the forum leaders had instructed trade ministers to develop plans for further reducing trade barriers in the region in order to fulfill the goals established a decade ago at a summit in Indonesia. 

Under that plan, the regional nations were to form a free-trade area by the year 2020, with industrialized nations in Asia and the Pacific taking the first step by lowering their trade barriers by no later than 2010. 

Lagos also noted that the declaration contained measures to strengthen security in the region for such things as shipping and commercial air traffic. In regard to the latter, the forum leaders agreed to take steps to restrict the spread of shoulder-fired missiles that could present a grave danger to aviation.

Speaking in English, the Chilean leader then thanked the participants from the 21 Asia and Pacific economies for the work they had accomplished and looked forward to next year's summit in South Korea. Among those at the summit was U.S. President George Bush.

"Next year is going to be a further step in order to make the APEC economies that are going to grow with equity for everybody and all our people."

The leaders also pledged to work for the success of the current round of World Trade Organization talks aimed at lowering commercial barriers worldwide. A summit in Cancun, Mexico last year ended in disarray over the issue of agricultural subsidies, but ministers from the 148 World Trade Organization member nations have since restored momentum to the negotiations. 

Movie stars lend weight to Fort Benning protest
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

COLUMBUS, Ga., — More than 16,000 persons gathered outside Fort Benning here Sunday morning for the annual demonstration against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

That’s the 3-year-old name of the former School of the Americas.

Demonstrators claim that many graduates of the institute have committed serious crimes, including rape and murder, throughout Latin America. Many of the protestors referred specifically to a case involving six Jesuit priests who were murdered in El Salvador in 1989.

Law officers arrested more than 20 persons during the protest. Many of those arrested, were caught jumping over a chain link fence onto military property. 

Lead by actors Martin Sheen and Susan Sarandon, and the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Catholic priest, the demonstration took on the form of a funeral procession. Some carried small, white wooden crosses.

The institute was originally known as the School of Americas, but changed its name in January of 2001. This is the location where the United States trains mid-level and higher military officers from foreign countries.

The demonstrations have been held annually for 14 years, but this was the first year that a 10-foot tall chain link fence greeted protestors on their route. The 

Photo courtesy of Atl IMC
Protester carrying a Palestinian flag tried to  climb the wall at Fort Benning, Ga.

protestors who hopped over the fence knew they would be arrested, but did so as an act of nonviolence civil disobedience, according to protest sponsors. 

Across town, the God Bless Fort Benning Festival attracted about an equal number of persons, including about 7,000 soldiers. 

Jo Stuart
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