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These stories were published Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 257
Jo Stuart
About us

Skimpy clothing was the order of the day for those seeking  attention.

Jorge Cervantes Madrigal and Tagoberto Otarol of Cartago's Samba Brumosa claim Chorotega blood and are tribal medicine men here.

Stilt walker from Semillas de Esperanza requires help before her long hike.

Carnival displays just a touch of politics
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The post-Christmas carnival pleased thousands of spectators Monday, but politics was not forgotten.

President George Bush became a target of satire when a man wearing a rubber mask of his likeness rode a World War II Jeep and shared the back seat with the Devil or at least someone wearing such a mask.

Another vehicle carried a banner condemning corrupt politicians.

And the Taiwanese fielded Chinese dragons and a gigantic float to mark 60 years of friendship shared with Costa Rican. The government of Taiwan is being criticized for subsidies given to candidates and public employees.

The weather cooperated with temperatures in the 80s, partly cloudy skies and light winds. That was helpful to the underdressed marchers but not for those carrying heavy disguises or towering feathered headdresses.

The parade got off to a slow start, and marchers, musicians, clowns and antique automobiles mixed along the east side of hospital San Juan de Dios. The Ministerio de Salud had threatened to cancel the parade if organizers of the Festejo Popular in Zapote did not do a better job of cleaning up garbage. Both the parade and the Christmas event in Zapote are covered by the same health permit. 

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All kinds of road machines from glittering hogs to World War II Jeeps led the carnival parade.

Motorcycle club members and owners of classic vehicles added to the din created by drum-heavy marching bands. Some young participants neared exhaustion by the delayed parade time because of impromptu dance festivals at the assembly points.


Marcher named Allan of Imperial Sabor is decked out in traditional carnival colors.

It's not the marching but the waiting that's the problem, even for those who are about to carry the typical papier maché masks.
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More slots for policemen
sought by ministry

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security officials want to hire 500 more policemen for 2005 and increase drug testing to cover the whole department.

These were some of the goals outlined Monday by Rogelio Ramos, minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. Ramos said that the number of police has increased only 9 percent over the last 21 years, a time when population here has mushroomed. Hiring is keyed to passage of a new tax plan.

Ramos was basking in the glow of annual reports that show a reduction in crime in 2004. The most dramatic was a decrease of some 19 percent in murders from the 300 in 2003 to 242 as of Dec. 24. That number will increase at least by six as a result of Christmastime murders, but the decline is still at least 15 percent.

There were declines reported in other categories of crimes, but because the year has not ended, the full story is not known. Officials listed declines based on 2004 figures ending Nov. 30.

The agenda for 2005 is heavy on training. The Fuerza Pública, the blue-uniformed street policemen, are in the ministry headed by Ramos. Not until 1994 did Costa Rica begin the establishment of a professional police department. Prior to that, officers were political appointees.

In 2004 a new structure was mandated for the police, and training was begun for field commanders. For 2005, officials are calling for additional training for the entire force. Candidates for top posts will have an edge for promotion if they have a law degree.

Officials also want to destroy as many firearms as possible. Already announced is the creation of a new unit to guard embassies, sparked by the on-duty police officer who killed three persons at the Embassy of Chile. More psychological testing is in the plans.

Ramos said that 86 policemen failed drug tests in 2004 and 25 refused to take the test. They were dismissed. There were 7,855 police tested. The Fuerza Pública has about 9,000 officers.

Another task for the security ministry is the supervision of private guard services. A new law requires services and guards to register and show proficiency with weapons. Ramos reported Monday that 354 guard firms have registered as have 11,080 guards.

The ministry also supervises the airways, and Ramos said that 46 clandestine radio stations had been shut down. The ministry will assign one investigator to apply a new policy regarding the communications media to guarantee that advertising shows respect for the image of women and of the family.

A new telecommunications law also will give the ministry control over cable television and make the awarding of frequencies more transparent.

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería completed 1,033 deportations in 2004 so far. These figures do not include persons who were denied entry at the national borders.

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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Delta flight diverted due to stolen passenger identity
By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

A Delta Air Lines flight from Colombia had to make a detour and land at a Florida military base because a passenger had the name of someone forbidden to fly in U.S. air space.

After an investigation, the passenger was freed. Judy Orihuela, spokesperson for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that the passenger has had his identity stolen and that the person of concern by U.S. police agencies has been using the man’s name.

The plane landed in the Florida Keys and later was allowed to resume its flight.

The United States has instituted biometric measures to issue visas. The nationality of the suspected individual was not given, but if the individual is not a U.S. citizen, there was no explanation as to why the visa system failed.

If the individual is a U.S. citizen, he would be carrying a U.S. passport. The FBI spokespersons also did not explain why police did not simply meet the aircraft.

Cuba announces the discovery of a windfall in oil
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

HAVANA, Cuba — The government has announced the discovery of an offshore petroleum reserve of an estimated 100 million barrels. The find is a result of drilling along the north coast by a Canadian firm.

Fidel Castro originally made mention of the discovery 

during a closed-door meeting of the Cuban national assembly. Parts of the talk were broadcast Saturday night on television.

The discovery is good news for Cuba, which imports some 150,000 barrels of petroleum a day. Production is expected to start in 2006. Domestic production will help the country's balance of payments.

Airport in Haiti declared insecure by U.S. inspectors
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The airport here has been declared insecure by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The department said that the airport does not comply 

with international norms of security. Airlines must now notify passengers who fly to or from the airport about the security flaws.

The United States has sent experts to help Haitian authorities correct the flaws. There was no specifics as to the type of flaws that exisits.

Decision on Pinochet will be delayed for a month
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile's Supreme Court has delayed a decision on whether to uphold an indictment against former dictator Augusto Pinochet on murder and kidnapping charges. 

Enrique Cury, one member of the five-judge panel, said a ruling will be issued early next month, but did not give a reason for the delay. 

Pinochet, who is recovering from a stroke, has been indicted on one count of murder and nine counts of kidnapping. The charges stem from Operation Condor, a plan implemented in the 1970s by Latin American military leaders to repress political opposition. 

More than 3,000 people were killed in Chile for political reasons during Pinochet's 17-year rule, that ended in 1990. Pinochet took power in a bloody coup aided by the United States.

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