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NATIONAL NEWS  -  Wednesday 23 June 2004


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Another Minister Bites the Dust
With the resignation of Esmeralda Britton, the Ministra de la Condición de la Mujer, the total number of ministers and president of public corporation to have resigned or fired during the first two years of the Pacheco administration comes to 17.

Today's Stories:
Another Minister Bites the Dust
Coca Cola Found Monopolistic
Turning Trash Into Power
Playa Tortuga Hosts First International Music Camp in Costa Rica
Gaming Service Challenges J.Lo, New Hubby
Costa Rica Fires Sampson As Soccer Coach
News Briefs

Many of the Vendors who left on Sunday were back on the streets of downtown San José as business is almost back to normal, while a temporary restraining orders stops the Municipality from removing the street vendors as it had planned on doing last Monday.


During the past month, the government has been investigating excessive expenditures at the Instituto Nacional de la Mujer (INAMU).

Pacheco had questions various invoices paid by the Institute and had called a meeting with his Minister for Monday to receive an explanation. However, Britton tendered her resignation before starting the meeting.

Pacheco told local news television channel 7 in an interview he said that "I don't believe that Mrs. Britton was involved in any wrongdoing. An investigation will be done as to what happened, nothing extravagant."

Coca Cola Found Monopolistic
The Commission responsible to oversee competitive practices for the Ministerio de Economia finally rendered it's decision and sanctioned the firm Embotelladora Panamco Tica S.A., which exclusively markets Coca Cola products in Costa Rica.

The process started way back in 2002, when the Pepsi Cola company presented a charge against Coca Cola for unfair and monopolistic practices in the market.

Coca Cola's practice was to obligate retailers to maintain their suggested retail prices, as well, setting strict conditions on the use of any refrigeration equipment installed in locations, which would be limited only the use of Coca Cola products. And, it had a practice of requiring it's clients to an exclusive contract for Coca Cola products to be sold.

Small retailers and restaurants who signed with Coca Cola were forced to sell only Coca Cola products and at prices set by Coca Cola.

The decision of the Commission eliminates the practices by Coca Cola as well as it fines the company ˘68 Million colones (about $160.000 at today's exchange rate).

Coca Cola announced in a press statement that it accepts the decision of the Commission and that it would change it's marketing practices to conform to the law.

Coca Cola has two months to appeal the Commission's decision or swallow the bitter taste of competition.

Turning Trash Into Power
By Sheila J. Robinson

EnPower, Environmental Power International, based in Ardmore, Oklahoma, is in negotiations with three municipalities in Costa Rica for turning garbage into energy.

"Basically it's called waste energy," said Ken Roblyer, managing director. "There are three cities in Costa Rica that are very interested.

There's Limon, which is the east coast port, Puntarenas, which is the west coast port, and in the area where there is more tourism and growth in the upper northwest, there's Liberia."

EPI, an independently-owned company, is keeping a low profile while working directly with these municipalities. Roblyer says the company is working closely with Costa Rican President, Abel Pacheco.

"In developing countries, one of the major issues they have is municipal solid waste -- trash," Roblyer said. "We have a process which separates the glass, plastic, aluminum and the fuel stock, which is the paper. It is rendered into a fuel and commingled with natural gas or coal to create steam to create energy."

Plants in Costa Rica will be similar to a plant currently operating in Tacoma, Wash. Sam Hammons, former Secretary of Energy for Oklahoma is one of the EPI partners. Hammons has negotiated power agreements throughout the world.

"Our chief engineer is Frank Logan out of Portland, Oregon," Roblyer said. "Frank basically built the two largest nuclear plants in the U.S. We have tremendous back-up. We've built these plants for other people and we've evolved to form our own company. We are basically doing it ourselves."

EPI's energy solution is not labor intensive. The corporation is looking to countries outside the U.S. because permitting is easier. Foreign countries don't have as many special interest groups.

EPI is planning to build three plants in Cost Rica at a cost of about $15 million per plant. The company proposes to implement the plants at no cost to the host countries. They ask for an agreement where municipalities will purchase the energy produced.

EPI is also working on projects in Greece and the Dominican Republic.

"Why we went to Costa Rica first is, they see themselves as the environmental eco-system of the world," Roblyer said. "They are very, very strong environmentally. Also, the literacy rate of Costa Ricans is 94.7. Their ability to read, write and communicate is higher than America ..."

"Costa Rica is a wonderful place to do business," Roblyer said. "They like Americans and it's a wonderful place to be."

Playa Tortuga Hosts First International Music Camp in Costa Rica
The paradisiacal beaches of the Costa Rican South Pacific will witness, from July 4 to 19, the birth of the “Playa Tortuga” International Music Camp – CIM (Campamento Internacional de Música “Playa Tortuga”).

Inspired by the North American model of music camps and based at Hotel “Posada Playa Tortuga” , this is the first event of its kind to be held in Costa Rica.

It will offer the opportunity to young, talented string musicians from Costa Rica, the Caribbean and the rest of the world, to perfect their performance skills through an intense two-week program comprised of private instruction in the student’s major instrument (violin, viola, cello, or double bass), ensemble performance experience (chamber music and string orchestra experience) as well as recreational tours.

All activities will be lead by a group of internationally acknowledged Costa Rican musicians and music educators.

Instrumental study and instruction, group and orchestra rehearsals will culminate when teachers and students share the joy of making music through a Dinner/Chamber music concert at Hotel Posada “Playa Tortuga”, on July 17th, at 7 pm.

Additional concerts in the surrounding community (Ciudad Cortés, July 11th, at 9:30 am and San Isidro de Pérez Zeledón, July 18th, at 11 am), and a closing Gala Concert at the National Auditorium (Children’s Museum, San José) on July 19th, at 8 pm.

There is a high cost usually involved in the quality music education of young people, and while CIM is able to offer this new program at one-half to one-third of the cost for comparable music camps in the United States and Europe, they still need generous individual or corporate donors or patrons to contribute funds for students who are unable to cover the camp’s cost.

Information about the benefits of joining the Circle of Donors or Patrons (Friends of CIM), can be obtained from Guido Calvo, Artistic Director or Karen Terzano, Executive Director.

More information about the Camp can be obtained by contacting directly Guido Calvo tels. 253-8550/389-6706.

As a side activity to raise funds for CIM’s scholarship fund, a Gala Concert/Dinner featuring the “Festival String Quartet of Playa Tortuga” will be held at Hotel “La Condesa”, on June 24th.

Gaming Service Challenges J.Lo, New Hubby
An online gaming service,, based in Costa Rica, is so sure Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are going to break up it'll pay them if they stay together.

The online gaming service MyBookie promises it will pay $100,000 to a charity chosen by Lopez and Anthony if they stay married until Dec. 31, 2005. Sportsbook director Jimmy Mason says they wish the couple the best, but given J.Lo's history, the betting industry is having a field day on how long they'll last.

Mason says Lopez and Anthony need to have their people contact them with their acceptance and name their charity, and MyBookie will put the funds in escrow. Mason is hoping to have to pay up. He says, "We will be proud to cut the check. We believe love rules!"

Costa Rica Fires Sampson As Soccer Coach
Former U.S. national soccer coach Steve Sampson was fired as Costa Rica's coach after his team struggled past a traditionally weak Cuban team in World Cup qualifying.

The Costa Rican federation announced the ouster Monday, and a replacement was to be announced, today, Wednesday.

"I thought this might happen," Sampson said Tuesday. "The circumstances of having the fans and the press against me influenced the decision. The detonator was the result against Cuba."

Costa Rica tied Cuba 2-2 on the road and 1-1 at home, advancing because of more away goals to the semifinals of North and Central American and Caribbean qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.

"Unfortunately, soccer deals with results, which have not been favorable," the federation said.

Sampson said he achieved his goal of advancing to the next qualifying round. "I think we did an acceptable job, but not in the style I wanted," he said. 

He said he should have insisted on greater time with the players and in changes to the local championship schedule so it would not conflict with the national team.

"There's a very great pressure here because the people live for soccer with an incredible passion and that's very good, but then they want results."

Federation president Jose Luis Rodriguez told local radio that possible successors include Jose Luis Pinto of Colombia and Brazilian-born Costa Rican Alexandre Guimaraes.

Sampson replaced Guimaraes in November 2002, signing a four-year contract to coach through qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.

Costa Rica was eliminated in the first round of the 2002 World Cup, but its youth team qualified for the 2004 Olympics over the United States.

News Briefs

  • Father Minor Calvo, a suspect in the murder of journalist Parmenio Medina, is to remain in preventative detention for the duration of the six months the court prescribed. Calvo's appeal to a Heredia court was found without basis and thus his conditional release denied.
  • Less than one hour after being released police detention, a young boy of only 13 years of age was re-arrested for theft. The young boy was arrested on Monday for attempted robbery at Mutual Alajuela on Paseo Colón in San José and was released after a jouvenile court refused to give the boy preventative detention. Within an hour of being released, the boy was apprehended in the court building stealing a cellular telephone from a woman.



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