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(506) 2223-1327          Published Monday, Jan. 9, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 6     Email us
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Obama plans to campaign against outsourcing jobs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports.

The White House will kick off a campaign this week to keep jobs at home and encourage business leaders not to outsource to places like Costa Rica.

President Barack Obama said in his weekly address that he will host a forum Wednesday to meet with business leaders who are setting an example of what is being called insourcing jobs, that is keeping jobs in the United States.

The president said he wants to help other businesses follow their lead.

"After losing more than eight million jobs in the recession, we've added more than three million private-sector jobs over the past 22 months," Obama said.  "And we're starting 2012 with manufacturing on the rise and the American auto industry on the mend. We're heading in the right direction.  And we're not going to let up."

The push for creating jobs in the U.S. falls in line with Obama's pledge to rebuild and stabilize the American middle class. The middle class could play a key role in whether he gets re-elected this year.

The president did not say what incentives might be used to keep jobs in the United States. At the same time Costa Rican branches of U.S. companies are being targeted for taxes by the Laura Chinchilla
Miranda administration. This country has provided many incentives for foreign firms to locate here, including the creation of so-called free trade zones where companies may do business while sheltered from local taxes.

That may change because the administration here wants to allow local municipalities to tax certain aspects of the foreign firm's businesses, and the central government wants to see 15 percent of any profits that are being sent to corporate headquarters elsewhere.  The proposals still have not passed the legislature.

Costa Rica has benefited over the years by the arrival of mostly U.S. firms, such as Amazon,  IBM and WalMart, that use bilingual Costa Ricans in their various call centers. Then there are the manufacturers of medical devices and firms that make electronic products. The big daddy of them all is Intel Corp. that has had operations here since 1998. By itself, Intel contributes nearly a quarter of the country's exports.

Obama's meeting might just be more politics in anticipation of presidential elections. Republicans have been pounding the president because the U.S. unemployment has been above 8 percent for 35 months. Despite the election a presidential proposal for incentives to businesses that do not outsource probably would find favor with business-oriented Republicans and union-oriented Democrats in Congress.


Buried drugs might signal new smuggler strategy
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug police believe that smugglers are using the coastal waters to move cocaine in order to avoid U.S. patrols at sea.

That idea found reinforcement over the weekend when a telephone tip led to the discovery of more than a ton of cocaine buried in the sand at Playa Marisol in Parrita on the central Pacific coast.

Police had been tipped of a possible landing and transfer of drugs, but they encountered no one when they found the drugs partly buried in bags. The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and the  security ministry's aircraft were used in an attempt
 to locate whoever left the illegal cargo near the beach. Later ministry aircraft moved the cocaine from the coast to Juan Santamaría airport.

By moving the drugs up the coast, smugglers gain cover from the normal sea traffic of small boats and fishermen. The eventual destination is a place where the drugs can be loaded into vehicles for further travel north. That location may be as far away as a Mexican beach.

Coastal residents have expressed concern about these activities because smugglers do not want observers. The find Friday was in an inlet, and those operating whatever boat brought the drugs had an intimate knowledge of the area.

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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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 Liberia airport
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 Vice President Luis Liberman discusses the planned
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 airport in Liberia during a visit over the weekend. The
 $35 million terminal is considered a big boost for tourism.


Heavy security mounted
at La Reforma prison

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial tactical units were at La Reforma prison in San Rafael de Alajuela Sunday in response to rumors of a possible new riot or a breakout attempt. Sunday also is visiting day, and there was a lot of traffic in and out of the prison.

La Reforma was the site of a breakout attempt May 11 and two men suffered fatal knife wounds Jan. 2 during what appears to be a provoked riot.

Two more inmate suffered wounds Saturday afternoon in the minimum security section of the prison in what appears to have been a personal fight. Both men had homemade weapons. A sweep of the section later turned up more than 100 such weapons. The Fuerza Pública and the Judicial Investigation Organization's tactical squad also were called in.

Prison security is hampered by the overcrowding and in some cases the complicity of guards in the transfer of prohibited items. A group of guards also are under investigation for the murder of an inmate shortly after the May breakout attempt. The man suffered fatal injuries from a beating in his cell in the maximum security section.

La Reforma appears to be the battle group between two groups of prisoners who are trying to monopolize the trade there in drugs and other contraband items. The men who died Jan. 2 are believed to have been leaders of one group.


Street work jams traffic

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Traffic jammed up Sunday as workmen began repaving Avenida Secunda in San José. The job mainly will be done during the night hours, but Sunday was a chance to begin in the daylight. Some motorists said they were backed up on Paseo Colón for as much as a half hour. Paseo Colón just received a new coat of asphalt, the same treatment that awaits Avenida Secunda.

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
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This scene from the 1920s shows an oxcart passing under the Avenida Tercera bridge that is directly south of what is today Parque España. A horse-drawn rig is on the bridge.


Bueyes downtown
Museo Nacional photo
Museo Nacional creates a virtual tribute to boyeros and bueyes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Museo Nacional has put together an Internet slide that could be titled “Everything you always wanted to know about bueyes but were afraid to ask.”

Bueyes, of course, are those big, well-muscled oxen that have been the engine of agriculture for centuries. They still are used in the countryside for plowing and moving heavy loads over muddy trails. The man in charge of the oxen is called a boyero, That's a legendary character akin to the U.S. cowboy.

Keeping oxen is more of a hobby for some people, although plenty are at work every day in the countryside. A banker or a lawyer might leave the jacket an tie in the closet and don the garb of a boyero for weekend parades.

The museum Internet display, titled “El Boyeo y la Caretta,” includes a section on language specific to the oxcarts and their creatures. The oxen are guided from the front with words and
also a steel-tipped stick. In parades one can see a boy guiding the docile beasts that are 20 times the lad's weight.

Unlike gasoline-powered tractors, oxen have some ability to follow commands.

The museum online exhibit also discusses the economic impact that the animals have had on Costa Rica. And, of course, there are plenty of photos of the brightly painted oxcarts, something that began in the early part of the 20th century in Escazú.

It was an Italian expat who started the trend because that was the way they did it in Italy. Now the brightly painted oxcart is a cultural icon, and the Ox and the Oxcart driver were named an intangible heritage of humanity in 2005 by the United Nations.

The slide show also contains some sketches and old photos of the historic use of the oxen, such as hauling bananas.

The exhibit is HERE!


Security firm operator held in robbery of car in Heredia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers detained the operator of a security firm after a chase punctuated by gunshots in Heredia Saturday night. Police said the weapons and communications devices owned by the security firm were used to rob vehicles.

In all, five persons were detained late Saturday and Sunday after a motorist said gunmen took his vehicle in Barrio Corazón de Jesús in Heredia Saturday night.

Police were able to locate the stolen vehicle parked at a home in Barrial de Heredia. Three men in a vehicle nearby fled when they saw police, and a chase ensued.

The operator of the security firm, identified by the last names of Ruiz Jiménez, was detained after receiving a bullet in the leg.

Also detained was his brother with the same last names and a companion, identified by the last names of Martínez Bustos. Police said the black car in which the men fled matched the description of that used by the car robbers.

Sunday the security ministry's Unidad Especial de Apoyo conducted a search of the Barrial de Heredia home and encountered the stolen car. They detained a man with the last
Heredia riad
Ministerio de Gobernacióbn, Policía
y Seguridad Púbica photo
Suspect is detained outside his Heredia home while police search the premises.

names of Mora Zúñiga and a woman, the presumed occupants of the house.

Police said that the security firm owner had been arrested previously on a car theft allegation.

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Hands across
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Security officials say that crimes have decreased  because of Chinese donations of patrol cars. Mario Zamora Cordero, the security minister, accepted 200 more vehicles Friday from the Chinese ambassador,  Li Changhwa. That is on top of 250 vehicles China already donated. China also is expected to provide support for a new police school in Pococí.

Chinese cars
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo


Feds crack down on sales of endangered species via Internet
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Federal and state authorities have filed criminal cases against a dozen people who allegedly used Internet sites to illegally sell endangered species and other wildlife protected by federal and state law, including fish, birds and exotic animal pelts.

The charges are the result of Operation Cyberwild, a task force investigation conducted by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Game, which received substantial assistance from volunteers with the Humane Society of United States.

Operation Cyberwild was announced last week following the arrest of a Las Vegas man who is charged with selling boots made out of threatened sea turtles.

During Operation Cyberwild, federal agents and state game wardens recovered live endangered fish, protected migratory birds, an elephant foot, and pelts from a tiger, a polar bear, a leopard and a bear.

During the investigation, which began in July 2011, special agents with Fish and Wildlife Service and California game wardens focused on Internet advertisements placed by sellers in Southern California and Southern Nevada. As a result of Operation Cyberwild, the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles filed charges against nine defendants, and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office charged three defendants.

“We made our first undercover purchase within 24 hours of beginning the operation,” said Erin Dean, resident agent in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Torrance. “We hope that this operation will send a message to individuals selling – or even considering selling – protected wildlife that we are watching and that we take these offenses seriously.”

The 12 defendants charged in federal and state court each allegedly offered for sale animals or animal parts. The defendants are variously charged with violating the federal Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Lacey Act and various state wildlife laws.

The U. S. Attorney's Office filed nine cases in U. S. District Court in Los Angeles. The defendants charged in federal court are:

• George Lovell, 49, of Las Vegas, who allegedly sold a pair of Loggerhead sea turtle leather boots for $1,000 after offering them for sale on Craigslist.

• Lisa Naumu, 49, of San Diego, who allegedly sold an $8,000 leopard skin coat after placing an ad on Craigslist that offered three of such coats for sale.

• Victor Northrop, 48, of Henderson, Nevada, who allegedly accepted $10,000 for a rug made out of an endangered tiger
sea turtle boots
U.S. Attorney's Office Central District of California
Loggerhead sea turtle leather boots that were sold for $1,000.

after offering the item for sale on Craigslist for $12,500.

• Karla Trejo, 42, of Sherman Oaks, who is charged with selling a live Western Scrub-Jay for $185 after posting an ad on Craigslist.

• Dan Tram “Majkah” Huynh, 30, of San Diego, who allegedly sold an Asian arowana to an undercover agent for $2,500 after offering the fish for sale on Craigslist.

• Henry Dao, 41, of Garden Grove, who allegedly sold two live Red-whiskered Bulbul birds for $1,750 after offering the injurious species for sale on a Web site used to trade and sell “softbills.”

• Alex Madar, 27, of San Diego, who allegedly sold sea turtle leather shoes for $250 after posting the items for sale on Craigslist.

• Kamipeli Piuleini, 35, of Torrance, who allegedly sold a Hawksbill sea turtle shell that had been listed on eBay.

• Tyler Homesley, 24, of Ramona, who allegedly offered to sell three birds – including two protected migratory birds, a Eurasian kestrel and a Black-shouldered Kite – for $150 after placing an online advertisement (plus a $25 delivery fee for total price of $175).

All of the federal cases allege misdemeanor violations that carry maximum statutory penalties of either one year or six months in federal prison.


U.S. State Department increasing its use of tweets, social media
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. diplomats are expanding their use of social media during what the Obama administration is calling 21st Century Statecraft Month.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stood at the same podium she uses every day in the Carl Rowan briefing room. But the questions Friday came not from the State Department press corps.

They came from users of the social media site Twitter tweeting to the hashtag #AskState.

Nuland's answers were compressed, translated, and tweeted on the State Department's 10 official Twitter feeds in Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu.

It is part of what she says is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's drive to expand U.S. diplomatic outreach.
"Secretary Clinton has made the use of new technology and innovation a key part of our foreign policy agenda around the world. So here at State and at [US]AID, we are adopting new approaches to meet the diplomatic and development challenges that we see,” said Nuland.

Nuland said the State Department has 193 social media accounts, about 100 of which are associated with specific embassies.

"Part of this effort is making sure that we are making full use of digital networks and technologies to more quickly and more directly engage people and audiences at home and abroad,” said Nuland.

Next week, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince will hold a Twitter question-and-answer session about recovery efforts two years after the earthquake there, and the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna will hold a virtual town hall about nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear security, and nuclear safety.

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Ahmadinejad begins tour
of Latin America allies


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has started a five-day Latin American tour that U.S. officials have called a sign of desperation for the country heavily sanctioned over its controversial nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad arrived Sunday evening in Venezuela, and was met at the airport by that country's vice president, Elias Juau. Ahmadinejad smiled and waved to the crowd, but did not make any remarks before driving away. He is scheduled to meet Monday with his longtime ally, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez.

The Iranian president also will make stops in Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador.

In recent years, the Iranian president has courted leftist, populist and anti-American Latin American leaders, particularly Chavez, much to Washington's dismay.

Friday, U.S. officials urged Latin American countries not to deepen their ties with Iran. A State Department spokeswoman accused the Iranian government of being “desperate for friends” and of, what she called flailing around to find new allies.

While on his trip, Ahmadinejad also will attend the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

In another development, the United States is expelling a Venezuelan diplomat amid reports that she discussed possible cyber-attacks on U.S. soil while she was stationed at her country's embassy in México.

The State Department said Sunday it had declared Livia Acosta Noguera persona non grata and given her until Tuesday to leave the country.

There was no immediate reaction from the Venezuelan government.


Soccer goalie detained
in kidnapping investigation


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican officials say an international soccer goalie has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a kidnapping ring.

Officials say Omar Ortiz, also known as El Gato, “The Cat,” was arrested last week with three other suspected members of the ring.

Officials say Ortiz has been under suspicion since he tested positive for steroids in April of 2010, and was suspended from playing for Rayados of Monterrey. The suspension was to be lifted in a few months.

Ortiz and the other suspects have been charged with four abductions, but may have been involved in nearly two dozen. The gang is reported to have demanded $72,000 for each victim.

Officials say kidnapping rings likely represent an expansion of drug gangs.


Chief casino fire suspect
arrested by Mexican police


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican police say the mastermind behind a Monterrey casino fire that killed dozens of patrons has been arrested.

Police say Baltazar Saucedo Estrada, nicknamed the dog killer, admitted to having a role in the Casino Royale fire that killed 52 people last year.

He was arrested Thursday after crashing a van during a police chase. A reward of $1 million was offered for the capture of Saucedo, an alleged member of the notorious Zetas drug cartel.

At least 17 other suspects are in custody awaiting trial in connection with the deadly casino fire. Police say the suspects ran into the casino and spread gasoline around before setting fires that trapped many of the victims.

Saucedo says the attack was directed at a casino owner, who allegedly refused to pay money for protection by the Zetas drug cartel.

Authorities have blamed the Zetas, in part, for an escalation in violence in northeastern Mexico last year. Mexico's northern border is being rocked by violent crime and clashes involving groups battling for control of drug-trafficking routes into the United States.


Orthodox Christmas marked
in many parts of world

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Orthodox Christmas services got under way Friday as worshippers across the world prepared to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Many Orthodox Christians, including Russians, Greeks, Serbs and Montenegrins, celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, according to an older calendar. 

Political leaders join citizens in religious services, including in former Communist countries, such as Russia.

Tradition also calls for a 40-day fast before Christmas, during which the pious do not eat meat, dairy products or eggs.   The fast ended at midnight and gave way to sumptuous feasts, but those should not start before one has attended a religious service.

Some Christians in southern and eastern Europe marked the feast of Epiphany Friday, a religious holiday celebrating the revelation of God as man.  Young men in Bulgaria dived in cold waters in a contest to retrieve a cross.  According to belief, the person who captures it will be freed of evil spirits or other troubles.

In Romania, tradition calls for the blessing of domestic animals as well as people at Christmas.

In some countries, including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, the Orthodox Christmas Eve tradition requires cutting branches from oak trees, to be burned later in huge fires in front of churches and at home.

The fires are believed to warm the community with love and harmony.

Serbian President Boris Tadic sought to contribute to the spirit of Christmas by sending a message of peace to Albanians as well as Serbs in neighboring Kosovo.  But on his way to a religious service Friday in Visoki Decani, an ancient Serbian monastery in Kosovo, angry Albanian protesters hurled stones at his armored motorcade.
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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 9, 2011, Vol. 12, No. 6
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Jo Stuart

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Latin America news
Great weather predicted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's weather service predicts stable conditions and little rain for the country over the next few days.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the humidity in the air was diminishing rapidly and that there would be few clouds for most of the daytime over the next few days.

Sunday was sunny all day in the Central Valley.


Officer held in bribe case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police said they have detained a Fuerza Pública officer from the Sarapiquí headquarters who faces an allegation of exacting a bribe from a motorist.

The arrest came at 9 a.m. Friday.

The incident began when the police officer asked a motorist for vehicle papers, and the motorist did not have them. In exchange for not calling traffic police, the officer accepted 7,000 colons or about $14 and took a laptop as security for more money, according to Judicial Police. The motorist contacted investigators, who were present when the man paid money to redeem his laptop.


Home invaders leap wall

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men jumped a wall in Hatillo 6 Thursday afternoon and invaded a home and surprised the occupant there. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the intruders had a firearm. The men stole jewelry and even a clothes iron.

In Santa Ana the intruders struck at night, about 9 p.m. Thursday when a homeowner was cleaning outside the dwelling. These intruders also had a firearm and tied up the occupant and locked him in the bathroom while they sacked the place.


Manuel Antonio crime thwarted

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men held a victim at knife-point and began to take his possessions in Manuel Antonio, but members of the Policía Turística intervened and made the arrests. Police said the incident happened in front of a local supermarket.


Teen suspected of selling crack

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers detained a 16 year old and said they found 180 doses of crack cocaine on his person. The arrest happened in Calle del Chorizo in Barrio San Cartin de Paso Canoas. The teen was identified as a crack distributor in the area.








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Sports
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
Jo Stuart
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2011 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details