A.M. Costa Rica

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(506) 223-1327        Published Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 258          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Defective shoulder blamed in overturned bus
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An uneven shoulder is presumed to be the reason a luxury tourist bus ran off the highway and overturned Wednesday near San Ramón.

The one-vehicle accident took place in late morning, and many of the tourists were headed to a canopy tour.

Some 31 persons from the 50-passenger bus ended up at the San Ramón hospital.  Nine of those went to San José for X-rays and additional treatment. One woman, a U.S. citizen, was listed in serious condition at Hospital CIMA.

The private bus belongs to the 15-year-old company Transportes TURIAL S.A. of San Joaquín de Flores de Heredia. The luxury
vehicle was heavily damaged, in part because occupants had to break out windows to leave the overturned vehicle.

The tourists were customers of Expediciones Tropicales, a San José tour company. The company declined to give any information Wednesday.

The bus appears to have drifted off the two-lane highway to the right and slipped into a muddy downgrade where it eventually overturned into bushes and trees. A prior story was published Wednesday.

Five North Americans experienced a similar accident Wednesday when their rented sport utility vehicle plunged off a bridge over a river near Playa Potrero on the Nicoya Peninsula. There was little information available from that accident.

Most seriously injured bus passenger airlifted to Hospital CIMA
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. citizen identified as Sara Malone is the most seriously injured person from a bus wreck Wednesday morning, according to hospital records in San Ramón.

In all, 46 persons were victims and 31 went to the hospital.

Ms. Malone and four other persons with the same last name were airlifted by private helicopter to Hospital CIMA in Escazú Wednesday afternoon, the records show.

Ms. Malone is believed to be the woman who was pinned in the bus wreckage for an hour.

Another U.S. citizen, Keire Hagar, 25, and two Canadian women, Chan Ywan, 69, and Chan Yuhan, 33, went to Hospital México in La Uruca, San Ramón hospital documents said.

In Hospital CIMA was Charles Malone, 29, Jeimen Malone, 25, George Malone, 23, and Gaile Malone, said the documents. Also there was a sixth person identified as Bety Malow, who may have the same surname, considering difficulties Costa Ricans have with North American names.

The hospital listed 16 U.S. citizens as being
injured in the mishap but did not give hometowns. Two women, Saitly Leily, 51,  and Bery Gerald, 54, were listed as having "Boston" citizenship.

A third Canadian is Dan McHugh, 18, the hospital documents said. Other U.S. citizens were:

Benjamin Hogan, 25, Corey Lee, 34, Francis Maicol Morerira, 26, Ricardo Fowlford, Constantine Vladimir Goltsev, 28, Madeline McCloseky, 40, Mario Martinez, 46, Victor Yownt, 58, and Lissa Raden, 46.

Two residents of Puerto Rico also were hurt. The hospital document said they were Rosario Fonten Broll, 35, and Herbesto Rodríguez Mojica, 38.

Two persons hospitalized  had Australian citizenship. They are Cristofer Yeimen and Craig Herven, both 24, said the hospital.

Costa Ricans injured were: Vanesa Agüero Solís, 24, Manrique Gallegos Urdian, 38, Manfred Vargas Morales, 29 and Alfonso Nuñez, 46, the hospital document said.

A Cuban, Ricardo López Codero, 36, and a Mexican woman, Aracelly Martínez Arroyo, 31, were the other two injured passengers, said the hospital.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 258

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Vannessa borrows cash
to do feasibility study

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Canadian company developing the controversial Crucitas open pit gold mine in north Costa Rica has borrowed $2 million to help pay for a feasibility study for the project, according to John Morgan, president.

The company, Vannessa Ventures Ltd., says it has borrowed the money from Exploram Enterprises Ltd., its controlling shareholder. Interest is payable on the
loan at a rate of 9.5 percent per year, payable monthly and a 3 percent structuring fee will be paid by Vannessa to Exploram.  The loan is payable on demand after Feb. 15 and is secured by a general security agreement over the Company's assets.

The proceeds from the loan will be used to fund general working capital requirements and to advance work on the feasibility study for the Crucitas gold project, the company said.  Crucitas is being developed by the company's wholly owned subsidiary, Industrias Infinito S.A. 

As previously announced Dec. 13, the Crucitas project recently received a resolution from the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía and its Secretaría Técnica Ambiental approving the project's environmental impact statement and the Secretaría Técnica also specified the amount of the environmental performance bond at $600,000 which the Company said it anticipates will be placed in early 2006.

The mine location is near the Río San Juan and the Nicaraguan border. Environmentalists fear a disaster if the cyanide used to leach gold from the rock finds its way into the river.

Our readers’ opinions

He prefers that priority
rests with the workers

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Reading Jay Brodell’s editorial of Dec. 28 entitled “Can Costa Rica Compete?” makes it very clear why so many are against the signing and ratification of the TLC or CAFTA, whichever you choose to use.
The editorial is clearly written with the typical, right wing, militant, corporate mentality currently in use by the Republican “regime” that is destroying the U.S. with it’s non-worker-friendly business tactics.
Much of Costa Rica’s work environment is worker friendly, and I hope it stays that way.  After all, we are dealing with human lives and not oxen nor robots.
There seems to be an assumption that because Costa Rica does not do it the way Jay suggests, it must be wrong.  This is that ugly, non-humanistic business model of right wing, corporate America that believes in maximum profit over all other considerations.
Not signing and ratifying the TLC/CAFTA is not the end of the world as many doomsayers would have the world believe. Costa Rica will be fine. It has existed thus far without CAFTA and certainly will compete well enough through other avenues of trade already well-established and others currently being worked on.  Don’t knock Costa Rica’s humanistic business model because it’s not like the way it’s done up north.
Chuck Crider
Orlando. Florida

Bush is untrustworthy
as treaty partner

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As a businessman, I sign contracts and make written and oral agreements quite often.  As important as it is for the contracts to be fair to both sides, I always make sure I trust the other party to honor the agreement before I sign anything.   I need to be sure the other party is honest and has a history, a track record, of honoring and following through on its obligations and will keep their word.

The Bush administration has backed away from and broken treaties and established national and international laws from Day One of his administration.   They have lied uncountable times on almost every action they’ve taken.   They have blatantly disregarded the Constitution, Bill of Rights, international agreements including those on torture, spied on their own people and people around the world without judicial support, and shown a total disregard for keeping any promises they have made.  

Fighting terrorism and building democracies around the world are wonderful concepts, but do not excuse every immoral, greedy, self-serving action they’ve taken. Bush cannot be taken at his word.

I’m not against the Trade Agreement, but no matter how good the Trade Agreement could be for Costa Rica, signing it with a dishonest and immoral partner would be suicide.  If you can’t trust the other party in a deal or contract, it would be stupid to sign on the dotted line.

Andy Gingold
Ciudad Colon

EDITOR’S NOTE: Another reader reports that he paid a total import duty on a new Ford automobile of 52.3 percent. That included the 13 percent sales tax, the reader said. We said in the article Wednesday that import duties could be 89 percent. We believe that the rate is highly variable.

Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 258

Morning Quepos quake wakes up those late sleepers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck shortly before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and it awakened people sleeping on the Caribbean coast and caused a desk to bounce around an Escazú office. However, there was no major damage reported.

The epicenter of the quake was in the mountains north and east of Quepos on the Pacific Coast. The location was about 65 kms. (40 miles) east southeast of Puntarenas and  25 kms. (15 miles) southwest of San José.

Mariano Protti said the quake was within the Cocos tectonic plate that is pushing under the country from the west. He is with the  Observatorio Sismológico y Vulcanológico de Costa Rica.

The quake, he said, originated in the Cocos plate and was not a product of the collision between the Cocos and Caribbean plates. Stress between the two plates has been responsible for much seismic activity in Costa Rica.

Map courtesy U.S. Geological Survey     
     Yellow square marks the probable epicenter of the
     Wednesday quake.

Uruguay approves revised investment treaty with the United States
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Uruguayan government has ratified an investment treaty with the United States that is intended to enhance relations as well as trade and investment ties, according to the U.S. State Department.

Upon assuming office earlier in 2005, Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez asked the United States to renegotiate technical points in the treaty signed by the United States and Uruguay in 2004.

The new U.S.-Uruguayan treaty was signed Nov. 4 during the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina, passed by the Uruguayan Senate Dec. 21 and ratified by the lower house of the Uruguayan Congress Wednesday by a vote of 84-0.
The treaty still requires approval by the U.S. Senate.  Once it enters into force, it should yield important benefits for both countries, a State Department official said.

“We expect that it will produce new business opportunities and employment, increasing the well-being of citizens in both countries,” the official said.

Beyond the economic benefits, the U.S. official said the treaty also reflects the ability of the governments of the United States and Uruguay to work together.

The United States is Uruguay’s largest trading partner, and U.S. foreign direct investment in Uruguay was $533 million in 2004.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 258

Brazil reports major oil find off its Atlantic coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — The state-owned oil company, Petrobras, says it has discovered what it calls a giant oil field off the Atlantic coast of Rio de Janeiro state.

Petrobras says the new oil field, called Papa Terra, contains between 700 million and one billion barrels of heavy crude, at a depth of some 1,200 meters, about 4,000 feet.
The company says it expects to start production in the new field by the end of 2011.

Petrobras owns 62.5 percent of the oil field, and its U.S.-based partner Chevron owns the other 37.5 percent.

Brazilian officials expect the nation to be self-sufficient in oil in 2006. Petrobras currently produces more than 1.8 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Communist candidate endorses Michelle Bachelet in Chile's runoff
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SANTIAGO, Chile — The Communist Party has endorsed Socialist presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet in January's runoff election.

Communist supporters account for about 5 percent of the vote in Chile.

Jan. 15 voters in Chile will decide between Ms. Bachelet, who is backed by a center-left coalition, and a millionaire businessman, Sebastian Pinera.
The runoff was triggered when no candidate won a majority of votes during the first round of the presidential election Dec. 11.

Tuesday's endorsement suggests Ms. Bachelet could draw support from voters who initially cast ballots for Communist Tomas Hirsch, who finished fourth and won 5 percent of the vote earlier this month.

With the runoff less than three weeks away, a recent opinion poll indicates Ms. Bachelet is leading Mr. Pinera by 5 percentage points.

Inmates involved in Christmas riot surrender at overcrowded prison
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Rebellious inmates at a remote Brazilian prison in the Amazon have ended a four-day uprising and released nearly 200 visitors they had taken hostage on Christmas Day.

Officials say the hostages at the Urso Branco penitentiary were released unharmed Wednesday after authorities agreed to some prisoner demands — including the return of gang leader Ednildo Paula
Souza, transferred to another facility following a recent escape attempt.

During the riot, prison officials cut off food, water and electricity supplies at the overcrowded facility, which was meant to hold 350 people but houses at least 950.

In April, the Urso Branco prison was the site of a bloody five-day uprising that left at least 14 inmates dead. Uprisings are a regular occurrence in Brazil's often overcrowded prisons.

Jo Stuart
About us

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