Today marks the 13th birthday of A.M. Costa Rica. That’s 13 years of providing local and international news targeted to English-speaking expats here and those who would like to be here.
The newspaper has been supported by the many merchants and vendors who want to showcase their products to the readership.
During that time the staff has produced about 3,350 individual daily editions. In the early years, an edition contained about two newspages. Today there are seven.
During the 13 years there were good times and bad times. Probably the worse for the readership was when Luis Enrique Villalobos closed down his high-interest investment operation and left more the 6,000 creditors hanging. Many of them were U.S. expats or frequent visitors. Many have moved on. Some still are hanging and hoping for a legal miracle.
Some mysteries remain from the early years. Still missing are a handful of tourists who vanished while visiting here.
The latest is Roman Dial, an Alaskan outdoorsman who has been sought for four weeks in the jungles of the Osa peninsula and Parque Nacional Corcovado. He, like the others, probably encountered criminality.
A.M. Costa Rica provides what help it can to the families of the missing if they seek aid. And staffers share in their grief and loss.
Reporting on the activities of government has been like reporting on a three-ring circus. Staffers write complex news stories about some proposed bill, then it is passed, and then no one
enforces it. Using a cell telephone while driving still is a violation, right?
Also bittersweet is the way the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo spends the money it collects from the tourism industry. Part of the current problem with the country’s economy today can be blamed on ineffective advertising by the institute. Workers there spent $500,000 on television spots for the Winter Olympics and the same amount on the World Cup. Instead they should have bankrolled for years a steady Sunday advertising campaign in major U.S. and Canadian daily newspapers.
A.M. Costa Rica editors have difficulty making these points to officials, who change from one administration to the next.
Today is a legal holiday, the Día de la Madre so the newspaper will not be inviting readers to the usual birthday party. Instead, editors and a few staffers will crack open a bottle of wine this evening to toast the readers who made this all possible.
Also remembered will be Jo Stuart, who died this year after nearly 13 years of producing a weekly column, despite pains, illnesses and hospitalizations.