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These stories were published Monday, Dec. 27, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 256
Jo Stuart
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The smart parade viewers brought their own trucks and a flatbed.
Parade brings spectators back to the past
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Spanish historical fascination with the horse and rider, the jinete, blended with Costa Rica’s rural past and present Sunday as thousands of horsemen and horsewomen filled the streets.

But the real story was the average Costa Rican, young and old, who turned out to see the annual tope or horsemen’s encounter. The parade was some two hours late in starting, but few spectators seemed to mind.

Pilsen, the beer brand, has a strong sponsorship interest in the horse parade, and conspiracy theorists would say that the late start was an inducement to spectators to have more beer.

There is an art to watching the tope. Experienced hands brought their farm trucks and parked them along the parade route. Some had their own generators to run the coolers and the stereo system. As the sun beat down, only occasionally blocked by clouds, trips to the beer store became more frequent. At least one truck crew was well prepared. They had what amounted to a full bar on the bed.

Despite the presence of so much alcohol, there were no disturbances like those that marred the Festival de la Luz before Christmas. At least a third of the crowd were children.

A.M. Costa Rica photos
Close encounter of the equine kind

Some 3,000 horsemen and horsewomen participated, riding from Parque La Sabana, through Avenida 2 to Plaza Viquez.

Perhaps 200,000 viewed the parade. More than 1,000 police officers lined the route to stifle trouble.

Today is the day for the annual post-Christmas carnival along the same route. The carnival with its Latin beat attracts more young adults and teens. 


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Water cut off to thousands
in Southern Central Valley

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thousands of homes south of San José have been without water all day Sunday due to a problem with a line maintained by the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados. 

The problem, a leak, caused the shutdown of a main water line in Desamparados. Nearly all of the Canton of Desamparados is without water. The situation probably will continue today.

Other parts of the Central Valley, including portions of Curridabat, also are affected.

Several residents of Desamparados said they awoke Sunday without water and without any warning or options to get water. About the only water available was that sold in bottles.

Plane crash is fatal
to North American 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 64-year-old man believed to be a U.S. citizen died Sunday on the Pacific coast, the victim of the crash of an ultralight aircraft. 

The 11:30 a.m. mishap took place at an airfield at Esterillos de Parrita, just a few miles south of Playa Hermosa and Jacó.

Officials identified the dead man as Michael Summers. He died on arrival at the Hospital de Quepos from injuries suffered when the aircraft struck a tree, officials said. There was no information on his status in Costa Rica, although rescue workers said they thought the man was a tourist.

A companion, identified as German Murillo, suffered injuries, officials said.

Some deaths mar
Christmas holiday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Christmas holiday was a quiet one, although early reports say that three persons have died in vehicle accidents.

Two persons died from stabbings

In Jiménez de Golfito a 45-year-old man, identified by the last names of Mora Umaña, was detained in the stabbing death of Antonio Rivera Bristan, 52, early Christmas morning.

An ex-girlfriend is being held in Pérez Zeledón in the stabbing death of Alberto Zárate Meza, 43, who died about 9:45 p.m. Christmas Eve. She was identified by the last names of Hernandez Mayorga.

The pair was engaged in a heated discussion in Barrio Santa Cecilia in San Isidro de El General, Pérez Zeledón, police said. The woman said she was a victim of domestic violence and was forced to defend herself, police said.

Tamarindo detainee
said to be drug supplier

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man described by officials as a supplier of drugs to residents and tourists in Playa Tamarindo fell into police hands Sunday when officers said they witnessed him making sales in the Pacific beach community.

He  was identified by the Fuerza Pública as Dougtatel Juárez. They said he had in his possession12 Ecstasy pills, 14 grams of marijuana and 51 hits of cocaine.

No break for A.M. Costa Rica 

The news does not stop, and our readers come first. 

So A.M. Costa Rica will publish every day this week. Christmas and New Year’s are the two days a year 
that this newspaper does not publish. But this year the 
two holidays fall on Saturday, a day when A.M. Costa Rica does not publish. 

We also are aware that persons all over the world rely on us for breaking news, such as the early Christmas Day 
earthquake last year.
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Saray Ramírez Vindas...associate editor

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Tomorrow is the day to fool all those innocents
Pasar por inocente comiendo pan caliente

This dicho fits in very well with this week, as tomorrow is Innocents Day in Costa Rica, a time when people like to play practical jokes on each other.  A literal translation of this expression would be: to pass for innocent eating hot bread. I know it doesn’t make much sense, but I can’t think of an equivalent English expression. The basic meaning is something like being a big April fool.

My youngest sister is — out of all my sisters — the one I am closest to. She is very innocent and believes everything you tell her. So she is usually the first person I call to tease on Dec. 28 about Innocents Day. Some 20 years ago she was pregnant with her second child and called me on Innocents Day and told me that her baby was coming, she was by herself and needed me to help her. I raced to her house, but on the way I start thinking: "Hmm, wait a minute. Since I’m always teasing Esther, this is probably her way of getting back at me." I knew she had at least another week to go to carry the baby to term, so after I arrived at her house, I took my sweet time getting ready to go to the hospital. 

I said to her that I’d heard if the mother is having contractions it’s better for her to walk. So, she agreed with me, and we set out on our three-mile walk to the La Maternidad Carit. She began complaining of pain, but I was still sure she was trying to put one over on me. When we were about half way to the hospital, she started telling me the contractions were coming closer and closer together, and we had better get a taxi. 

I smiled and said: "Yeah right. Yo pasé por inocente comiendo pan caliente? ¡No lo creo!"  But at that moment she let out such a loud, agonized scream that I knew she wasn’t joking. I anxiously flagged down a passing police car (back then the police actually used to patrol the streets). With lights flashing and siren shrieking the officers rushed us to La Maternidad Carit where the baby was born within minutes of our arrival. Well, who do you suppose felt like the fool then?

On el Día de los Inocentes we like to play little jokes on each other. One I used to love was to say I locked the 

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

keys inside the car. I’d get a passerby’s attention with my cries for help. Then, as soon as my unsuspecting victim stopped, I’d point and say: "Paso por inocente comiendo pan caliente," like some silly 6-year-old brat. One should try to be sure, however that the person won’t be offended by your joke.

Also, it’s not a good idea to play these pranks on days of the year other than el Día de los Inocentes. Otherwise, you could end up like the boy who cried wolf once to often and won’t be able to get any one to help you when you really need it. Some other examples of jokes that end in paso por inocente comiendo pan caliente are: "Honey, my mother is coming for a six-month visit." "They’re fixing the potholes in our street." "The police will be patrolling our neighborhood." And, of course, the ever popular: "We won "el Gordo Navideño" the lotto!"

So, if tomorrow someone plays you a little joke, allow them to have a laugh, and don’t get mad. But, get even by planning some little bromas of your own and show your Costa Rican friends that you have a sense of humor too. 

Let them pasan por inocentes. Oh, and by the way, this will be my last column. With it I say good-bye . . . but only until next year. Ha, ha, ha! ¡Pasaron por inocentes!  Wishing you all a safe and happy año. 

Honduran army called out in response to terrorist attack on public bus
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras —  Hundreds of soldiers have been deployed in this capital two days after an attack on a public bus that killed 28 people.

A Honduran defense ministry spokesman said the soldiers are in the streets to "deter any criminal group." 

Police have arrested a suspected member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang in connection with the attack, which occurred about 200 kms. (124 miles) north of here. The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Alexis Ramírez.  Police say he was caught late Thursday driving a car that carried guns and ammunition of the same type used in the attack. 

Gunmen left a note at the scene of the massacre challenging politicians who have taken a hard line 

against organized crime.  President Richardo Maduro has offered a $50,000 reward in the case.

Gunmen opened fire on the public bus as it traveled through San Pedro Sula. The bus was full of shoppers on their way home with Christmas gifts, children and workers headed home from their jobs. 

The gunmen simply riddled the bus with bullets, some from automatic weapons. Witnesses said there were three men.

A motive for the attack was not clear, although the gunmen left a message at the scene challenging politicians who have taken a hard line against organized crime.

Maduro has called the attack one of the most barbaric and cowardly acts in Honduran history. 

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México and the U.S. will again discuss illegal migration
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Bush has announced that a top priority for his second term is reaching an immigration agreement with Mexico. And a deal with the United Sates on migrant workers is the central plank in the foreign policy of Mexico's president, Vicente Fox. But even though both sides say they want an agreement, actually getting one may be difficult. 

Mexico and the United States were close to an immigration agreement early in Bush's first term, but talks stopped after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington. The once close relationship between the two presidents cooled after Mexico pointedly refused to support the war against Iraq. Now both sides are interested in resuming talks on an agreement, but new obstacles have surfaced.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks, the United States began strengthening its border with Mexico. The increased security measures were intended to prevent terrorists from using the border to get into the United States, but they have also made it more difficult for Mexican workers to cross the border illegally. As a result, many Mexicans who are in the United States illegally are unwilling to risk going back home because they fear they might not make it back into the United States. 

In an interview. Mexico's finance minister, Francisco Gil Diaz, says that any migration agreement must be flexible enough to allow movement of workers back and forth. As many as four million Mexicans are in the United States illegally, and he says the present situation is creating a population log jam north of the border. Gil 

Diaz says most Mexicans prefer to work in the United States for a short time and then move back home permanently, but that pattern is changing because of the tougher security measures at the border.

"What those restrictions are provoking now is that illegal migrants are staying in the U.S because of the risk of not being able to go back, and increasing the stock of people, the number of people in the States. So one of the key elements of a migration agreement would be to recognize the wish of migrant workers is really to be temporary migrants and not permanent migrants," he said.

In the United States, many opponents of illegal immigration say it denies U.S. workers jobs and places an extra burden on U.S. taxpayers because the illegal aliens use government services. 

Lorenzo Meyer is a professor of political history, at the Center for International Studies at the College of Mexico. He says the illegal workers play a crucial role in the U.S. economy. "Mexico wants them to be incorporated in some kind of institutional framework, to regularize their position in the U.S. But the U.S. Congress doesn't want to do that, because it sounds like an amnesty, although they are very needed by the U.S. economy, they are not welcome because they went to the U.S. through illegal means. They crossed the border without asking permission," he said.

Whether or not the illegal Mexican workers are crucial to the U.S. economy, Mexican officials consider the money they send home crucial to the faltering Mexican economy. That is why Mexican officials want the U.S. to allow Mexican workers to move freely.

$5 million offfered for information on leading Mexican drug fugitive
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The U.S. government is offering a $5 million award for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of a fugitive Mexican drug trafficker, Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman-Loera.

Last week the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said Guzman-Loera is wanted in the U.S. state of California for conspiracy to import cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, money laundering, and criminal forfeiture. The reward for information leading to Guzman's capture is being offered by the U.S. State Department.

Guzman-Loera is known for his use of a sophisticated tunnel in Douglas, Arizona, to smuggle cocaine from Mexico into the United States in the early 1990s. In 1993, a 7.3-ton load of his cocaine, concealed in cans of chili peppers destined for the United States, was seized in the city of Tecate, Mexico.

At about the same time, an even more sophisticated tunnel that stretched from Tijuana, Mexico, to the Otay 

Mesa, California, area was discovered. A month after the discovery, Guzman-Loera was arrested in Mexico on homicide and drug charges. In January 2001, he escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico and quickly regained full control of his internationally based drug trafficking organization, which he controls to this day, according to Drug Enforcement Admininstration.

The State Department said in its "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report" for 2003 that Mexico is the principal transit country for South American cocaine entering the United States, with an estimated 70 percent of the U.S.-bound cocaine shipments passing through Mexican territory. Mexico is by far the leading foreign source of marijuana consumed in the United States and, together with Colombia, one of the principal sources of heroin, the report said.

The Drug Enforcement Administration said that anyone with information about the whereabouts and activities of Guzman-Loera should call the agency hotline at 001-866-294-0820 (in Mexico, Central America, and South America); 1-866-294-0820 (in the United States); or send an e-mail message to

Jo Stuart
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