A.M.  Costa Rica
December 2001
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These news articles were published in December 2001

Chronological index for December 2001

Monday, Dec. 3, 2001

Evening ceremony marks the official start of holiday season
(Photo)  The lights went on as the culmination of a day long jam in front of the National Theater Saturday.

Tourist stabbed in hotel room 
A man identified by police only as a North American tourist suffered critical stab wounds and was left in a pool of blood.

With wine corks and Ajax she revives old art form 
Christiane Soto Harrison stumbled on an old art form, then she became a leading practitioner and now she has generated international interest. (Photo essay)

Peru says it stopped U.S. Embassy attack 
Peruvian officials have arrested two suspected Shining Path guerrillas believed to have been plotting an attack against the U.S. Embassy here.

Ecomarchamo now is needed to renew 
And you thought you were going to get away with not getting your ecomarchamo until later. Well, the rules have changed.

Argentina caps withdrawals from the nation’s banks 
The economy minister said Saturday the government would restrict the amount of cash depositors are allowed to withdraw from checking or savings accounts to $250 per week

Right-wingers blamed in yet another massacre 
Columbia government officials say a suspected right wing death squad has intercepted a bus in the northeastern part of the country and killed 15 passengers.

Cuba celebrates the army 
Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces has celebrated its 45th anniversary of its arrival in the island country with a parade.

U.S. will deploy troops along Canadian border 
The Bush administration is moving to deploy troops along the U.S. border with Canada as part of its plan to foil terrorist plots against the United States.

Big changes by Fox are still just talk 
Mexican President Vicente Fox completed his first year in office Saturday.

Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2001

Wow! (photo) 
Pastry chef José Duncan has done it again. He spent three days constructing a gingerbread house.

It's eclipse time here and a whole lot more 
Not only the moon and the sun are lining up for a big show this weekend. This could be the most active weekend in Costa Rica this year.

Jo Stuart, weekly column 
How to Give Laughter and Joy for Christmas

‘Survival Passport' a new player in the tourism advertising field
There is a new, monthly tourist guide on the market, and it is winning praise for creativity. The publication is the Capture Costa Rica "Survival Passport."

Golfers forego 19th hole to help Angel Tree project and kids 
Participants in a golf tournament decided not to buy food, drinks and other luxuries with their leftover money last Tuesday. Instead, they chipped in to support the Salvation Army Angel Tree project.

Visiting New York firemen got great Panamá welcome 
Three firefighters from New York City received an extraordinary heroes' welcome in Panama from fellow firefighters, government officials and ordinary citizens on their recent goodwill visit to that country.

Another Cuban spy gets a life sentence 
A Miami federal court has sentenced a second convicted Cuban spy to life in prison for espionage work targeting two U.S. military bases in south Florida.

Caribbean nations agree to cooperate more closely on trade 
Caribbean basin nations including Costa Rica, Cuba and Venezuela have agreed to cooperate more closely and to form a bloc to press for preferential treatment in world trade negotiations.

Key finance expert said to be resigning his post 
Hours after Argentines staged a general strike over government austerity measures, there are reports that the nation's finance secretary, Daniel Marx, is resigning.

Ortega ready to face sex abuse allegations 
Former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has renounced his congressional immunity in order to deal with accusations of sexual abuse made by his stepdaughter.

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2001

It's strictly a bull market for unusual Tico holiday event 
One unusual Yuletide custom here is the bull fights at the long-running festival in Zapote.

Another coin appears 
If you thought you were a bit confused by the 50 colon vs. 100 colon coins, you have a new worry. The 500 colon coins are beginning to circulate.

It’s continuing to seem like Christmas. (photo) 
If you haven’t checked out the Christmas festival in front of the National Theater in downtown San José, you should because every night about 6 p.m. a different group or groups tries to engender Christmas spirit.

Greenspan seems positive about the new euro 
U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan says the euro, which goes into general circulation Jan. 1, clearly meets all the key qualifications for a major international currency.

Costa Rica called good place to study risk reduction 
Natural disasters do not recognize national boundaries, so a regional approach is an appropriate course of action, the U.S. ambassador told attendees at the opening session of the Hemispheric Conference for the Reduction of Risk Tuesday.

Two grabbed in west on cocaine charges 
Police have made two sets of arrests in Puentarenas that targeted alleged sellers of crack cocaine.

Escaped inmate (photo) 
This is a 1996 photo of Bernardo Miranda Morales, who escaped from prison over the weekend.

Many, many letters may carry anthrax 
Senior U.S. officials say tens of thousands of letters processed weeks ago in the United States might have been contaminated with trace amounts of anthrax merely by coming into contact with intentionally poisoned mail.

Argentina awaits word on new IMF bailout plan 
The government is awaiting a decision by the International Monetary Fund on desperately needed aid, as the country struggles to avoid defaulting on its massive $132 billion public debt.

Radio journalist killed by mob ambush 
A mob in Haiti has stoned and hacked to death a Haitian radio journalist.

Thursday, Dec. 6, 2001

Yet another virus hits computers 
There is a new computer virus afoot, and it is worse than the W32.Badtrans.B@mm that showed up after Thanksgiving.

Tango devotees find a place to call home 
They come from all walks of life. There is an engineer, a university administrator, a medical doctor, a music professor, students, businessmen and business women.

Tango show includes dinner 
"Con Permiso Soy El Tango," the event Dec. 15, begins with dinner at 7:30 p.m. The show will feature the piano expertise of Manolo Vera, who seems to be able to play any tango song without any visible music.

Police sweep nets cars and airplane 
Police staged a five-day crackdown on vehicles in the southwestern part of the country since last Friday and ended up confiscating 52 vehicles, seven motorcycles and even an airplane.

The lowly potato becomes a key treaty ingredient 
Costa Ricans pay 41 percent duty on imported french fries. But that, and a lot of other protectionist measures, will be discarded if a Costa Rican-Canadian free trade treaty gets the OK in the National Assembly here.

Terrorism's link to drugs stressed in D.C. confab 
The links between terrorism and narcotrafficking are real and growing, according to current and former U.S. officials who participated in a special symposium Tuesday here. 

IMF rejects loan for Argentina 
The International Monetary Fund says it can not approve a $1.3-billion loan to Argentina, which says it deperately needs the money to fight a crippling 41-month economic crisis.

Pact aims to prevent pillage in Bolivia 
The United States and Bolivia signed a memorandum of understanding Tuesday "to protect pre-Columbian archaeological materials and Colonial and Republican ethnological materials," according to the State Department.

Many deaths reported in northern Colombia 
A mayor in northwest Colombia says up to 200 people have been killed near his town over the past few days in clashes between leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries.

Resolution in House cites Iraqi ‘aggression’ 
Rep. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina introduced a resolution Tuesday that would call refusal by Iraq to admit United Nations weapons inspectors covered by Security Council Resolution 687 "an act of aggression against the United States and its allies."

Mexico will use high tech to cut down on corruption 
Mexico's comptroller general, Francisco Barrio, says better laws and more use of high technology can help reduce corruption in his country.

Friday, Dec. 7, 2001

Jo Stuart Column 
Science goes Back to the Future (or Science Catches up with the Past)

Nutcracker opens tonight despite rumors of curse 
If it is Christmas, it must be time for the Nutcracker, but leave it to the Little Theatre Group to put on something that is not as predictably as the ballet. Plus there is the curse.

It's 60 years after the day that will live in infamy 
Today is the day that will live in infamy when the armed force of the Empire of Japan ruptured without warning the early Sunday morning peace of the Hawaiian Islands.

Pimping arrest is part of Yule cleanup downtown 
A 50-year-old woman was busted Thursday for pimping. The arrest was made at a house of prostituion in the downtown area several blocks from the National Theater.

House passes fast track negotiating authority for President Bush 
The House of Representatives has by the narrowest margin passed a bill supported by the Bush Administration that would give the president authority to negotiate trade agreements into 2005.

Argentina moves closer to default
As Argentina moves closer to defaulting on its foreign debt obligations, Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo heads to the United States for emergency meetings today with International Monetary Fund officials.

Bolivian seeks understanding with U.S. on drugs, terror 
Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga says he hopes Andean nations can establish a framework with the United States in the war against terrorism and illegal drugs.

Harken restructures its interntional holdings 
Harken Energy Corp. has created a new company to aggressively push oil exploration projects internationally, including in Costa Rica.

Trade union will join businesses in protest 
Venezuela's largest trade union will join the country's businesses in protesting a series of new laws decreed by President Hugo Chavez, after the president used a bill allowing him to bypass Congress.

Monday, Dec. 10, 2001

Candidates' Web pages highlight their differences 
Two of the four major candidates for Costa Rica’s presidency are promoting their cause with Internet servers in the United States. Two others seem to be using the services offered by companies here.

British tourists didn't get far 
Two tourist from London didn’t get very far out of their lodgings Friday night. They were held up by drive-by robbers on the sidewalk outside the Hemingway Inn where they were staying.

Women face 'positive discrimination' this election 
Some 40 percent of the candidates in the February election will be women, thanks to a 1996 rule that is just coming into effect, noted Sandra Piszk, the Liberation Party first vice presidential candidate. 

Argentina may have deal with IMF 
Argentina has reached an agreement with the International Monetary Fund following two days of emergency meetings in Washington on the country's economic crisis. 

River pirates held in yatchman’s death 
Brazilian authorities, citing lack of evidence, have released three of seven suspects arrested for the murder of New Zealand yachtsman Peter Blake.

California firm indicted in overseas sales fraud 
A U.S. federal grand jury has indicted a California company for defrauding a U.S. Agency for International Development program in Egypt.

Five nations laud trade talks launch 
The United States and four South American nations — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — have expressed their satisfaction with the successful launch in Doha, Qatar, of the new round of World Trade Organization negotiations and reaffirmed their commitment to establish the Free Trade Area of the Americas by January 2005.

Zoellick is pleased with free-trade vote
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick says passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of Trade Promotion Authority gives the Bush Administration the momentum it needs to push forward with a broad-based agenda aimed at liberalizing trade on bilateral, regional, and multilateral fronts.

Lost city found off Cuban coast down about 650 meters
Underwater explorers say they have discovered mysterious stone structures on the sea floor off the western coast of Cuba that may be the ruins of an ancient lost city. 

Venezuela’s Chavez rejects resignation call 
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has dismissed calls for his resignation and denounced the planned nationwide strike today organized by the opposition. Chavez made the comments in a speech Saturday, as the South American nation braces for the12-hour shutdown today.

Two policemen irked by backammon, video
Two San José municipal policemen threatened to confiscate the video camera of a U.S. citizen about 1 p.m. Saturday while the man sat at the outdoor cafe of the Gran Hotel Costa Rica.

Passport agency begins use of digital passport device 
The U.S. Passport Agency began using its new digital system Friday. 

Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2001

On Friday the emphasis is on protecting your sight
The eclipse is coming Friday, and a quick check of official sources on blindness is enough to make someone want to skip the whole thing.

Victims of terrorism to be remembered here this morning 
The U.S. Embassy in San José will mark the three-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a ceremony this morning.

Hijackers would leap upon slow-moving trucks 
The action was like a scene out of the great train robbery, except today the trains are trucks.

Investigators probe death of U.S. citizen 
An autopsy suggests that a U.S. citizen was murdered and was not the victim of a traffic accident as had first been thought. The man was identified Sunday as Donald Leonard Durr, 70, who had lived in the Alajuela area for about a year.

Two men die in surf at different beaches 
Two persons identified as U.S. citizens have died in the surf. The first death was Saturday on the Guanacaste beach of Playa Grande. The victim there was identified as John August Surchand, 70. In Playa Dominical Sunday a 28-year-old man identified as Jason Waine Michelle died about 2 p.m.

Tiny particles in air may be major danger 
U.S. researchers report that particles of human-produced pollution may be reducing rainfall and threatening the earth's fresh water supplies.

Three hit by bullets after dispute Sunday 
A 14-year-old boy suffered a bullet wound to the head and two young men also suffered bullet wounds about 11 p.m. Sunday night in Finca San Juan de Pavas.

Small plane crashes en route to airport 
A small plane dropped from the sky into la Uruca Monday morning, and the pilot, Roberto Gonzalez, blamed unexpected gusts of winds. A 20-year-old passenger suffered injuries.

Calif. bus company faces alien indictment 
After a two-year joint probe, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation "have disrupted the largest illegal alien smuggling ring involving a commercial bus company," Attorney General John Ashcroft said Monday.

Venezuelan strike draws Chavez retort 
A one-day national strike in Venezuela against the economic measures of populist President Hugo Chavez has virtually paralyzed the country. But the Venezuelan leader says he will not reverse his policies.

Four teens blamed for virus 
Four Israeli teens have been identified by police as the authors of the W32.Goner.A@mm computer virus that has been making the rounds in Costa Rica. The youths ages range from 15 to 16.

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2001

Wife arrested in death of U.S. citizen husband 
Investigators have detained the 36-year-old wife of a U.S. citizen who was the apparent victim of a murder a week ago.

It's big markdown time down at the U.S. Embassy 
Uncle Sam is having a big garage sale, and you might be able to find some deals. But be prepared to be frisked.

Two bus drivers fight, and one is fatally shot 
Two drivers got into a dispute when one man drove his bus into the bus of the other in Santa Isabel de Río Cuarto de Grecia.

Man sets world record for being robbed quickly 
A Texas man early Tuesday set the world’s record for not getting very far out of a bar before being robbed while being drunk. Three women rolled him while he stood in the doorway of the New York Bar, he said Tuesday.

Municipal lawyer contends board game illegal in public Playing backgammon on the streets of San José is illegal unless the players have a permit, according to a lawyer for the municipality.

International data base to track terrorist financing 
The U.S. Treasury and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) have announced plans to create a terrorist financing database that will help curb the flow of money to terrorist groups and assist police in their criminal investigations.

Big vote in Trinidad results in a firm tie 
Trinidadian Prime Minister Basdeo Panday has offered to share power with the opposition to resolve a political crisis sparked by a tie in Monday's parliamentary election.

Tibás man robbed, murdered near his home 
A man carrying money that he had collected in business transactions was gunned down at his home by robbers in Tibás about 6:20 p.m. Monday, investigators said. They identified the dead man by the last name of Solano.

Software pirates targeted in sweep 
Law enforcement officials in the United States and overseas executed more than 100 search warrants Tuesday in a major crackdown on the illegal transfer of software, computer games and movies over the Internet, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Chavez calls strike a conspiracy by foes 
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has denounced as a "conspiracy" a nationwide strike held Monday to protest his economic policies.

Argentina stopping multiple bank accounts
The government here plans to restrict the number of bank accounts per person to two, as part of a new measure to restrict the amount of money withdrawn from banks to prevent a crisis in the financial sector.

Arrest made in Sept. 10 death 
Investigators arrested a man in Colorado de Abangares Monday as a suspect in an early morning fatal knifing in Barranca Sept. 10. The dead man is Guillermo Córdoba Mejia. The arrested man is Eduardo Rolando Conseca Córtez.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 2001

Political campaign as spectator sport 
The political season that results in presidential and legislative elections Feb. 3 promises to be exciting to foreign observers here.

These places still have holiday space 
Tuesday we promised to run occasional ads for those hotels and lodgings that had space for the holidays and early January.

Jacó woman makes change from buns to bikes 
So what do you do after you spent the last nine years baking cinnamon buns in Jacó? Why you put your own buns on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, of course, and roar all over the Pacific coast. That’s the plan of Cathy Knorr, 55, one half of the couple who have operated Chaty Cathy’s Cafe . . . 

Room with a view (photo) 
The Hotel Presidente on the pedestiran mall downtown always has been known as a good place to watch the crowds go by. Now they have busted out some walls and doubled the size of the restaurant.

U.S. Senate committee approves 'fast track' 
The Senate Finance Committee has voted overwhelmingly to approve trade promotion authority, otherwise known as fast track, for the president.

Body of Canadian man found in Guanacaste 
Searchers have found the body of a Canadian man who lived in Costa Rica and died while SCUBA diving near Playa Panamá in Guanacaste, according to police. The man was identified as Jean Claude Douset, 63,

Former rocker kills himself with flames 
A man who was one of the rock group Cafe con Leche set himself on fire early Monday morning and died Wednesday.

Strike puts damper on radio anniversary 
Wednesday marked the 100th anniversary of the first transatlantic radio signal transmission.

Police harvest the crop 
The marijuana crop was doing pretty well until police arrived. Investigators said they found about 800 plants about five and a half feet high (1.70 meters) on a finca in Puriscal. The plants were destroyed, police said.

Chavez won't budge as showdown nears in Caracas
The one day national strike in Venezuela coincided with falling public support for President Hugo Chavez — especially when compared to his standing just six-months ago.

Ridge, Manley promise more secure border with good trade flow
Safeguarding the lawful flow of people and goods across the U.S.-Canada border is vital "to make North America more secure and more prosperous," said Tom Ridge, U.S. director of Homeland Security.

Big strike planned in Argentina today 
Argentina is bracing for a nationwide strike Thursday, one day after thousands of people demonstrated here to protest government austerity measures.

Cuban convicted as spy faces a life sentence 
A convicted Cuban spy has beensentenced to life in prison for passing secrets to the Communist island from south Florida in the 1990's

Friday, Dec. 14, 2001

Pastry chef José Duncan has done it again. He spent three days constructing a gingerbread house. (photo)

It's eclipse time here and a whole lot more
Not only the moon and the sun are lining up for a big show this weekend. This could be the most active weekend in Costa Rica this year.

Jo Stuart’s Column 
How to Give Laughter and Joy for Christmas

'Survival Passport' a new player in the tourism advertising field 
There is a new, monthly tourist guide on the market, and it is winning praise for creativity. The publication is the Capture Costa Rica "Survival Passport."

Golfers forego 19th hole to help Angel Tree project and kids 
Participants in a golf tournament decided not to buy food, drinks and other luxuries with their leftover money last Tuesday. Instead, they chipped in to support the Salvation Army Angel Tree project.

Visiting New York firemen got great Panama welcome
Three firefighters from New York City received an extraordinary heroes' welcome in Panama from fellow firefighters, government officials and ordinary citizens on their recent goodwill visit to that country.

Another Cuban spy gets a life sentence
A Miami federal court has sentenced a second convicted Cuban spy to life in prison for espionage work targeting two U.S. military bases in south Florida.

Caribbean nations agree to cooperate more closely on trade 
Caribbean basin nations including Costa Rica, Cuba and Venezuela have agreed to cooperate more closely and to form a bloc to press for preferential treatment in world trade negotiations.

Key finance expert said to be resigning his post 
Hours after Argentines staged a general strike over government austerity measures, there are reports that the nation's finance secretary, Daniel Marx, is resigning.

Ortega ready to face sex abuse allegations
Former Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has renounced his congressional immunity in order to deal with accusations of sexual abuse made by his stepdaughter.

Monday, Dec. 17, 2001

The line was long Friday afternoon at the Tempisque Ferry that takes motor traffic over the wide river of the same name to the Nicoya Peninsula.

Nosara residents feeling bad about terrible road 
Nosara is one of the crown jewels of Costa Rican tourism, but the folks there were embarrassed Friday. And it wasn’t because the eclipse was all clouded over.

A survey can be wrong, too — It's guaranteed 
The tempest swirling around a political survey about the presidential race is based on a misunderstanding of what constitutes a survey. Such a political pulse-taking has a very definite probability that the survey is incorrect.

Zero tolerance urged against child sex exploiters 
Calling for zero tolerance of the sexual exploitation of children, officials of the U.N. Children's Fund introduced a major new publication which details the growing international problem affecting millions of children around the world in both developed and developing countries.

Shootout ends with death of suspect in robbery 
San Rafael Abajo de Desamparados turned into a battleground Saturday afternoon when two robbers on motorcycles held up a couple riding in an automobile.

Time to check those numbers in the big Christmas lottery 
If you had purchased your lottery ticket near Parque Central in front of the cathedral in downtown San José, you could be rich now.

Small plane crashes in Colombian mountains 
A small plane has crashed into the mountains near Medellin, Colombia, killing all 16 people aboard.

Fighting between rebels leaves 44 persons dead 
Military officials say at least 44 people are dead after days of fighting between leftist rebels and ultra-right paramilitaries in Colombia's northern mountains.

Chile’s president fails to win Senate control 
The latest election results from Chile show President Ricardo Lagos' party in position to hold the Chamber of Deputies, but lose control of the higher Senate. 

First food shipments reach Cuba from U.S. 
The first commercial food shipments from the United States to Cuba in almost four decades have arrived in Havana. 

Chavez tells bankers nationalization possible 
Venezuela's left-leaning president, Hugo Chavez, has threatened to nationalize banks and imprison bankers who refuse to comply with his new economic reforms. 

Prisoners set blazes that kill about 25
Officials in Paraguay say rioting prisoners ignited a fire that killed at least 25 inmates and injured about 200 others. 

Band of six car thieves faces blame in robberies 
Investigators said they have busted up a band that stole cars and held up legal and illegal taxi drivers. 

Thieves get nearly all 
Thieves in a pickup pulled up to a store on Avenida 8 between calles 1 and 3 Sunday morning about 4:30 a.m. and cleaned the place out of clothes and store fixtures, leaving little but the walls and floor, said police.

Tuesday, Dec. 18

A strange but heart-warming tale of supernatural
This is a story that requires the reader to suspend judgment for a little while. This is an incredible tale of presumed contacts by a man who was dead a week. 

Swiss visitor links us to his photos of eclipse 
A Swiss eclipse chaser has put photos of the Friday eclipse on his Web page. He took the shots from Punta Leona, a resort north of Jacó on the Pacific coast A number of possible viewing sites in Guanacaste were clouded out Friday.

Civic group in Nosara has two key projects 
They are reading a little more in Nosara, thanks to a six-year-old library. But the civic group, Friends of Nosara, would like to build a new one.

Venezuelan land law is a hot potato for Chavez 
Venezuela's Land Reform Law is one of the most controversial measures in a package of economic decrees that President Hugo Chavez plans to implement, despite strong private sector opposition.

Gene research triggers flood of malaria vaccine 
Researchers have developed mice that can secrete an experimental malaria vaccine into their milk, raising the possibility that livestock might some day be used as inexpensive, high-yield malaria vaccine factories.

Irish leader arrives for visit with Fidel 
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is in Cuba for an official visit expected to focus on three Irish men arrested in Colombia on suspicion of training Marxist rebels in urban guerrilla warfare.

Coup attempt in Haiti repulsed with bloodshed 
Haitian security forces have put down an apparent coup attempt against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Colombian rebel group takes Yule holiday 
Colombia's second-largest rebel group has declared a truce for the Christmas and New Year holidays in a gesture that renews hopes for a peace accord with the government.

Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2001

Would you believe three weeks off? 
A lot of countries have Christmas vacations, but not many enjoy a whole week off. And in even fewer (perhaps just this one) some public workers will be off from Friday until Jan. 14.

Attitudes on alcohol provide contradictions 
The National Insurance Institute ads may decry the use of alcohol, but such drinking is integral to the holidays here.

Euro makes its debut despite some misgivings 
Freshly-minted euro coins are making their debut across Europe. So-called "starter kits" of euro coins are now available in the 12 European Union countries which are converting to the Euro Jan. 1.

Check scheme netted thieves 500 million 
Three Banco Nacional employees, an employee of the telephone company and a former police investigator are among 12 persons arrested Tuesday as agents said they busted up a gang that stole as much as 500 million colons ($1.6 million) from state and private banks and companies.

IMF is pessimistic on quick global recovery 
The global slowdown will be more prolonged than previously projected with growth at only 2.4 percent per year in 2001 and 2002, reports the International Monetary Fund.

Child sex report says levels are increasing here 
A report released today shows increased levels of child prostitution and sex tourism in Central America and Mexico, including Costa Rica. 

Colombian boy with cancer dies without seeing dad 
A cancer-stricken Colombian boy who had pleaded for leftist rebels to let him see his kidnapped father has died without getting his final wish.

Fire in cathedral contained in NYC 
Fire fighters have contained a fire that broke out in the largest U.S. cathedral one week before Christmas.

Argentina slashes budget to prevent loan default
The Argentine government has revealed its new budget with deep cuts aimed at saving the country from defaulting on its international loans. 

Wrong mixture causes gas that hospitalizes five 
Five persons suffered respiratory problems and had to be treated Tuesday after someone mixed the wrong chemicals together at a plant in Barrio Cuba on the southwest side of San José. 

Bus station robbery target 
Two men with guns overpowered a guard and robbed an office at the Pacifico bus terminal Monday afternoon about 4:30 p.m. They got away with 150,000 colons ( $440).

Thusday, Dec. 20, 2001

The portal, what the nativity scene is called here, anchors a giant display of Christmas lights at Avenida 2 and Calle 40, just a block east of La Sabana Park at the offices of Division Medica Capris. 

Crooks cloned credit cards at fancy restaurant 
Diners who ate in an upscale Rohrmoser restaurant were among the victims of a sophisticated ring of credit card thieves who used computers and electronic devices to pillage accounts, according to investigators.

More arrests anticipated in cases of check fraud 
Investigators said Wednesday that they may arrest three more employees of banks and at least two more telephone company employees as they get more information about a complex web of check frauds.

National road official admits Nosara route is bad 
The problems with the rough roads in the vicinity of Nosara is a paperwork problem and not one of construction, according to the man in charge of the major roads there.

Quake hits border area 
An earthquake of 4.8 magnitude hit early Wednesday about 15 miles (40 kms.) west of David, Panama, along the Panama-Costa Rican border.

Year 2001 is ending as second warmest in history 
The World Meteorological Organization reports that 2001 is expected to end as the second warmest year on record and that this year's high temperatures were accompanied by record floods and droughts around the globe.

Search for missing U.S. citizen in inactive stage awaiting leads 
The active search for an elderly U.S. citizen missing for more than a month, has been called off, but investigators still are seeking clues. A reward of $3,000 still exists.

Brazil's foreign minister rips fast track loopholes 
Brazil says U.S. restrictions included in the so-called Fast Track trade authority endanger the prospects for a hemisphere-wide free-trade area. Brazil's foreign minister made the warning at a news conference with foreign journalists here.

Sex charge against Ortega dismissed because it's old 
A Nicaraguan judge has thrown out sexual abuse charges against former President Daniel Ortega, saying too much time has passed since the alleged incidents occurred. 

Mexican volcano erupts and spews tower of ash 
Popocatepetl volcano has erupted again, sending smoke and a towering cloud of ash nearly three kilometers ( about 2 miles) above the crater's base. 

State of emergency declared in Argentina 
Argentina's president has declared a 30-day state of emergency to deal with mounting public unrest over his economic austerity measures. President Fernando de la Rua acted Wednesday in response to a wave of looting and rioting that has swept the capital and other cities in recent days. The violence has left at least five people dead.

Mexico's attorney general will probe appeals verdict 
Mexico's attorney general says he will request an investigation into an appeals court verdict that overturned the drug trafficking conviction of Rafael Fonseca Carrillo, the alleged "grandfather" of Mexican drug lords. 

New baby checks in at ARCR 
Ryan Piercy and wife Eugenia are the parents of a new baby, Adrian, born Dec. 5. He is the executivedirector of the Association of Residents of Costa Rica.

Friday, Dec. 21, 2001

Playa Hermosa visitors chalk up a Santa sighting on rooftop 
Santa is alive and well in Playa Hermosa where Neil Martin and his wife live. They had this display on their home in Tonkawa, Okla. for three years. So when they retired to Costa Rica, Santa came with them. (photo)

Costa Rican visit just murder 
When Paul Fritz visits Costa Rica his thoughts turn to birds and murder. He’s managed to spot more than 400 different types of birds here. But the murders are what he puts into his mysteries.

Jo Stuart’s column 
Central market is a maze in San josé

Paraguay comes forth with commemorative set 
Paraguay issued a series of two new stamps honoring the memory of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Recent wave of insider crimes endangers foundation of country 
One goal of criminals of all types now seems to be the infiltration and subversion of legitimate institutions. 

Argentina's president steps down leaving chaos 
Argentina's President Fernando de la Rua resigned late Thursday as an unprecedented wave of violence and social protests washed over the South American nation. 

Default nears, ratings firm says
Credit rating agency Fitch has said Argentina could soon default on its debt, given the escalating social unrest in Argentina and the resignation of the president and the economy minister.

Fidel tells Cubans that food will last 
President Fidel Castro told Cubans there would be enough food for them in the coming year.

Ecuador will deport man linked to coup 
Ecuador says it will deport the suspected leader of Monday's failed coup attempt in Haiti. 

Volunteers needed to wrap 1,000 gifts for party in Quepos 
Volunteers are needed in Quepos because a local women’s organization is putting on a party for 1,000 youngsters Sunday and hands are needed to help wrap gifts.

Journalist who reported on corruption is on trial 
A journalist is on trial here for writing an article about corruption in Turkey's judicial system. The trial is the latest in a series of cases launched against journalists accused of expressing views that insult or threaten the Turkish state.

Monday, Dec. 24, 2001

Paper will not be published Charitmas Day 
A.M. Costa Rica will not be published tomorrow, Christmas Day. But we will be back early Wednesday morning keeping you informed of all the relevant news and information from Costa Rica and LatinAmerica on a daily basis. (with staff photos)

There's magic in that red suit, particularly today 
Today’s the day when portly, graying oldsters get a little bit of special respect from the younger set. You never can tell who Santa might be.

Playas del Coco bar owner greets Christmas in jail 
There’s no place like jail for the holidays. That’s the theme song for Roger Crouse, who, despite all efforts, is still in a Liberia prison.

U.S. tourist slips, dies at Montezuma falls 
A 21-year-old U.S. tourist fell and died while climbing at the Montezuma waterfall Thursday, according to police.

U.S. prisoner in Peru sent to northern jail American 
Lori Berenson, who is serving a 20-year jail term in Peru on terrorism charges, has been transferred to a prison in the northern part of the country. 

Colombian restarts talks with leftist guerrillas 
The Colombian government says it is reopening formal peace talks with the nation's second-largest leftist guerrilla group while restoring its political status at the same time. 

Another arrest made in insider check-fraud case 
Police have arrested another telephone company employee as a suspect in a complex series of check frauds.

New Argentine leader suspends debt payments 
Argentina's new interim president, Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, says he is suspending payments on the country's huge foreign debt and has vowed to use the money to create a million new jobs.

Priest who helped Cubans dies at 71 in Florida 
The Roman Catholic priest who led an effort to bring14,000 children out of Fidel Castro's Cuba 40 years ago has died.

Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2001

The traditional horse parade is today's highlight 
This is holiday week in Costa Rica, and the Zapote Festival is in full swing. Today the traditional horse parade or "tope" in honor of the Day of the Horseman kicks off around 11 a.m. when a contingent of ox carts and handlers sets the pace. 

Police anxious to put squeeze on fireworks sales 
If it explodes, it’s illegal. That’s the word from police agencies this holiday season as they try to stem the use of fireworks and the resulting injuries.

To enjoy city requires understanding and insight 
A tourist guide to the downtown and a successful visit.

Trinidad’s president picks Manning to get top post 
Trinidad and Tobago President Arthur Robinson has sworn in opposition leader Patrick Manning to be the nation's new prime minister. 

Mudslides kill at least 43 in southeastern Brazil 
Brazilian officials say at least 43 people are dead after torrential rains sparked floods and landslides in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro.

New Argentine president acts to stabilize economy 
Argentina's new president is moving to stabilize the economy after last week's uprising over economic austerity measures toppled the previous government.

Venezuela to extradict Colombian hijack suspect 
Venezuela is expected to extradite later today a Colombian guerrilla wanted in his country on hijacking charges.

Thursday, Dec. 27, 2001

Horses have their day
The traditional post-Christmas "tope" or horse parade attracted more than 4,000 four-legged participants in San José Wednesday. 

Election tribunal orders Teletica to halt debate 
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the fourth branch of Costa Rica’s government, told Channel 7 Wednesday that it could not stage a presidential debate unless all candidates were invited.

Rebels now hit Colombian oil line with urgency 
Left-wing guerrillas are turning to new targets, including oil to squeeze the Colombian government. The country's second-largest oil field, operated by the U.S. company Occidental Oil, has long been a target for sabotage.

2 taxi drivers are rapists, police officials warn 
Police officials are warning residents to be careful in accepting rides from so-called pirate taxi drivers because at least two such drivers actually are rapists.

Bandits hit twice for the holidays 
Gunmen struck twice in and around Desamparados.

Neighbors save house torched by visitors 
Neighbors put out a fire that was believed started by several men at a house in San Juan de Dios of Desamparados in the Itaipu area.

Woman faces charge of murdering husband 
Police arrested a woman, 19, from Heredia in Alajuela about 7 a.m. Wednesday to face charges of killing her husband. 

Bullfights begin in Zapote with youths risking lives 
The time has come to risk your life at the Zapote Festival. It’s what they call "impromptu bullfighters." Now appearing on a televisions station near you.

Embassy stresses contacts in probe of visa fraud 
U.S. Embassy officials said Wednesday they are relying on their ongoing relationships with Costa Rican officials to prevent people from obtaining visas to enter the United States by fraud. 

New Argentine leader meets with workers 
Argentina's new interim president has met with labor union leaders in Buenos Aires to propose measures he says will help pull the country back from the brink of economic collapse.

Friday, Dec. 28, 2001

Carnival parade steps off to please thousands of fans 
The day was cloudy and gray, but that didn’t stop the carnival parade from stepping off exactly on time at noon Thursday.

Jo Stuart’s column 
This is the time of the year when talk is about resolutions.

Monday, Dec. 31, 2001

Happy New Year
The staff of A.M. Costa Rica wishes you, our readers, a Happy New Year.

Unseasonable rains put damper on holiday plans 
Unseasonable rain has hit Costa Rica, and chances are the rain will stick around for a couple of days, perhaps through Thursday. The National Meteorological Institute blames instability over the Caribbean for contributing to the cloudiness over much of the country.

Zapote just like county fair if you don't count citizen bullfighters 
The Zapote Festival is where you will find the people over the holidays, in case you were wondering why the streets and sidewalks are so deserted.

Family of five dies in holiday crash 
A San José family of five died about 7 a.m. Friday when their car collided with a bus near Esparza on the Pan-American Highway. 

Youngster killed by knife on central pedestrian mall 
A heated argument turned fatal on the Avenida Central pedestrian mall in the center of downtown San José Friday night. 

Colombian government says anti-rebel actions increased 
The government says it has significantly increased its military operations this year against the country's leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups.

Some Cuban officials irked by plan to put terrorist there 
Senior Cuban officials have spoken out against plans by the United States to bring Taleban and al Qaida prisoners captured in Afghanistan to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

Escazú store held up 
Four men held up the La Rosa jewelry store in Escazú center Saturday morning and escaped with 15 million colons (about $44,000) in goods.

Fireworks death toll in Peru nears 300 in downtown rubble 
Firefighters have retrieved more than 270 bodies from the rubble of a fire sparked by a fireworks explosion in Lima’s historic shopping district Saturday.

Five Cuban spies in U.S. named national heroes 
The Cuban parliament has named five spies convicted in the United States as "heroes of the Republic of Cuba." 

Argentina’s president quits post after just one week 
Interim President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa abruptly resigned Sunday just one week after taking power amid a nationwide economic and political crisis.

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