A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language 
news source
Monday through Friday

(506) 223-1327        Published Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 8          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
About us

These guys were NOT from the auto club
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One way to steal from tourists is to puncture the tire of a rental car and wait to pounce until the visitors stop to fix the flat.

This has been a traditional method practiced so blatantly that tourists are advised to drive on the flat tire to the nearest service station or police delegación.

Police in the metro area reported Tuesday that they grabbed two men who are suspects of committing this type of theft, a theft that sometimes becomes a robbery if the tourists fight back.

The two men were identified by the last names of Hildalgo Galeano and Morales Obando. They were detained Tuesday morning by the Fuerza Pública after several days of observation, according to Comandante Eduardo Guzmán, chief of the metropolitan area.

Officials said that the arrests were ordered by a judge in the face of sufficient evidence that the men had been involved in this type of street crime.

The suspects were inside an automobile that was stopped near the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social building on Avenida 2. Police said they found various passports, suitcases and other evidence inside.

Police call this type of crime pinchonazo, a variant on the verb to puncture. Typically the crime unfolds like this:

One or more criminals notice a rental vehicle  being driven by an obvious 

If it
just keep

foreigner. Somehow they puncture the tire and inflict a slow leak. They follow their prey, and when the victim realizes that a tire has gone flat and stops, the criminals approach, perhaps offering to help.

In the best of circumstances while the tourists are distracted fixing the flat, the criminals pilfer luggage, computers, cameras and other personal effects. In the worst of circumstances, the smiling good Samaritans pull weapons and clean out the vehicle.

Police said Tuesday that the two men were suspected of being the gentler kind of assailant. Officials did not say where the crimes happened or where they observed the suspects, but many of the confrontations take place not far from Juan Santamaría airport. Some criminals are suspected of having associates linked to rental car companies.

Typically tourists do not stick around for criminal proceedings, so frequently this type of criminal goes free due to lack of prosecution.

This is the second set of suspected tourists thieves grabbed in five days. Friday Fuerza Pública officers detained four men who would distract tourists at bus stops and steal their luggage.

exchange rate
to our
daily digest

our site

Send us
a news story

Real estate ads

Ads for

ad info

ad info

Contact us
Our stats

For instant news
of Costa Rica,
you need
A.M. Costa Rica


A.M. Costa Rica

Second news page

Click HERE for photo tour of 526 properties for SALE or RENT in Escazú, Ciudad Colón, Santa Ana, Rohrmoser, Curridabat, Heredia
and the Pacific Coast.

info@ticorealty.com  (506) 290-7667
Place a classified ad
Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 8

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Click HERE for great hotel discounts

Aborted takeoff causes
plane to slam into post

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Nature Air plane had to abort a takeoff Tuesday morning in Puerto Jiménez after witnesses said the left tire blew.  The plane, a twin Otter carrying 11 passengers, the pilot and the co-pilot, was en route to Tobias Bolaños airport in San José, said Alexi Huntley, a spokesman for the airline.

The aircraft veered off the runway, lost a wing and struck a post not far from the local cemetery.

The Cruz Roja treated two passengers, both U.S. citizens.  One man, 50-year-old Eric Yoos, had minor scrapes and bruises and a 21-year-old woman, Clara Tourigny, had an attack of the nerves after the incident, said Antonio Morrillo Orofú of the rescue agency.

Huntley said the airline is still investigating the incident but by Tuesday afternoon, all passengers were en route to San José from the airport on the Osa Peninsula and there were no other delays, Huntley said.  He added that the names of the passengers and the pilots were not being released to the public. 

Nature Air had problems with one of their planes less than a month ago in Tamarindo.  A plane with eight passengers had to make an emergency landing near the popular beach town in Guanacaste Dec. 16.  No one died in that incident either though some occupants required medical assistance.   That plane, too, was destroyed.
Cruz Roja on full alert
as vacation is ending

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cruz Roja is on full alert this month through Feb. 5 because this is the time after the holidays that Costa Ricans take advantage of school vacations and go to the beach, mountains or other recreational centers.

The Cruz Roja said it is investing a significant amount of money to keep 101 emergency stations on the beaches and highways open, 138 mobile units, mostly ambulances, other vehicles and boats, in service and 630 employees working. Public school starts Feb. 7.

Jorge Rovira of the Dirección Nacional de Socorros y Operaciones de la Benemérita said that 10 more aid stations were in service this year than in the year before.

Cruz Roja stations on the beach and rivers are marked with a flag and operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Highway locations are in operation from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Police patrol stops
load of illegal wood

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police in La Cruz arrested a man attempting to transport a load of balsa wood into the country illegally, officers said. 

The man, identified by the last names Zeledón Sandí had been under investigation by the Fuerza Pública for a few weeks, the officers said.  When they stopped him, there was more than 200 pieces of the fragile wood hidden among canvas and plastic, the officers said.  Zeledón wasn't carrying the required permit issued by the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía so they seized the truck he was driving, officers said. 

The load of wood was given to the environmental ministry, officers said. 
Traffic police ready
Palmares checkpoints

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Palmares festival that starts today is typically a time of great inebriation and transit officers will have zero tolerance for those who try to drive home under the influence officers said.

The agency is planning to have 120 officers monitor the traffic flow between the town and San José for the duration of the festival, said Huanelgue Gutiérrez.  Six checkpoints will be set up along the General Cañas and Bernardo Soto highways to make sure that the driver's are in good mental and physical condition to be behind the wheel, Gutiérrez said.

In heavily traveled areas, officers are planning to reverse the traffic flow on some lanes, the agency said.  However this will only happen on the days of the most popular events like the opening, the closing and the tope, Gutiérrez said. 

In all, the agency is planning to have three tow trucks, one of which will be large enough to accommodate buses and large trucks, 10 speed traps, 10 alcohol checkpoints, 15 patrols, 20 motorized units and 120 officers, Gutiérrez said.   

Wounded girl blames family

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 23-year-old Nicaraguan girl was admitted to Hospital San Juan de Díos Sunday night with a bullet wound in her right leg.  Someone in her family shot her, she said.

She said that she arrived at her Pavas home earlier in the night and got in an argument with a 37-year-old relative.  At some point, the argument turned ugly and the relative shot her, said agents with the Judicial Investigating Organization.  

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.

Real estate agents and services

formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American
Chamber of Commerce

(506) 291-2825 & (506) 291-2826
fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
A Name You Can Trust & Professional Service
Tom Ghormley - Owner/Broker - in CR since '79

Buying? Selling?
We Can Do It!

Beachfront, Views, Mountains, Lots, Farms, Beaches, Houses, Condos. Hotels, Restaurants, Projects, Commercial, Investments

First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
  Escrow services
  Title transfers
  Title guarantees
  Trust services
  Developer services
Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at amcr@firstcr.com

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.



U.S. Tax and Accounting

We specialize in tax preparation for U.S. taxpayers and business, working or living abroad, and help with all international transactions.
288-2201   839-9970
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com

James Brohl C.P.A, M.B.A

U.S. Income Tax 
U.S. GAAP Accounting, 
Business Consulting
Providing U.S. Tax return preparation including back reporting and all other filing issues, accounting services 
and business consulting.

Telephone 305-3149 or 256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@racsa.co.cr


Williams Dental & Associates
Integral dentistry
Dr. John Williams
•  General dentistry 
•  Endodontics
•  Oral rehabilitation
•  Prosthodontics
•  Periodontics
•  Dental prevention
•  Maxillofacial surgery implants

Guachipelín, Escazú228-2914/289-9809

U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol

Legal services

Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados
Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 643-3058                Cell 365-3088
E-mail: lawyer@CRTitle.com
Web site:  CRTitle.com

  • Real Estate Transactions 
•  Legal Due Diligence 
  • Purchase and Sale Agreements/Options
  • Costa Rican Corporations.
  • Title Guaranty • Fraud protection
  •  Constitution of condominiums
  • Notary public services in general

Visit our Office in Jacó Beach
 (25 meters north of Banco Popular,
 below the Fiscalia).


You need to see Costa Rican properties for sale
on our real estate page HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica

Third news page

Home Calendar Place a 
classified ad
Classifieds Real estate  Food About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 8

Sala IV threw out part of Constitution
How Arias came to be a presidential candidate again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

How can Óscar Arias Sánchez run for president if Article 132 of the Costa Rican Constitution prohibits a president from serving more than four years?

This is a frequent question by expats who have even a passing knowledge of the Constitution and know that Óscar Arias served from 1986 to 1990.

The short answer is that the Sala IV constitutional court says so, but the long answer is interesting, complex and laced with legalisms and politics.

It was April 4, 2003, when the 5-2 decision by the Sala IV became public knowledge. After having rejected a similar appeal in 2000, a court that had some new members found that Article 132, passed in 1969, violated the fundamental rights of those who seek to be elected.

Arias was the principal benefactor of this decision, but there are other living presidents who also are eligible to run again.

A curious aspect of the decision is that the court nullified the 1969 change that had been made by the Asamblea Legislativa. By doing that, it reinstituted the original 1949 Article 132 that said presidents must wait eight years after their term expires to run again. And that is the way the Constitution reads now.

Now Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the front runner in the Feb. 5 presidential elections as the candidate of the Partido Liberación Nacional, whose founder, José Figueres Ferrer, served three terms.

The Sala IV is one of four chambers of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, and its decisions on the Constitution cannot be appealed. The key issue was if the legislative assembly can restrict the human rights of citizens. All involved agree that the Constitution can be amended by a citizen assembly.

Although Article 195 described a detailed way in which the legislature can amend the Constitution, it is followed by this:

ARTICLE 196. A general amendment of this Constitution can only be made by a Constituent Assembly called for the purpose. A law calling such assembly shall be passed by a vote of no less than two thirds of the total membership of the legislative assembly and does not require the approval of the executive branch.

The exact description of a general amendment is not defined in the Constitution.

So in effect, the Sala IV said that Article 195 did not
give the legislative assembly the power to pass the type of change it did in 1969.

Naturally there were legal arguments on both sides.

Arias in his campaign photo

The politics of the situation are perhaps more important than the legalisms. Arias has been the most well known Costa Rican on the international scene. His popularity among Costa Ricans was sky high, and he was the obvious standard bearer of Liberación, which had lost the presidency two elections in a row to the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana.

Not long after the Sala IV decision, Guido Sáenz González, the current minister of Cultura, Juventud y Deportes, came out with a book. He is a friend of Arias, and he reported that Arias was angry when the 2000 court ruled against him.

Sáenz quoted Arias as complaining that a Sala IV magistrate had double crossed him. This suggests that Arias had been trying to manipulate the Sala IV magistrates.

Sáenz had to disavow that section of his book with a public statement.

In Liberación, the decision supporting Arias, born in 1940, was a boon to the old guard. They rallied around Arias, and he was a shoo-in for the party nomination. But Antonio Álvarez Desanti, 47, an announced precandidate for the party nomination, bolted and formed a party of his own. He, too, is a candidate Feb. 5 with a new party, the Unión para el Cambio.

Former president Luis Alberto Monge, also of Liberación, threw his support to Alvarez and said Arias would be an illegal president, if elected.  Monge, who served from 1982 to 1986, announced his separation in August from the party that had put him in Casa Presidencial.

Public employee union leaders and others who opposed the free trade treaty that Arias supports, also question the legality of his candidacy, even though the Sala IV clearly has the power to interpret the Constitution.

Although the legality of the Arias candidacy is a current topic among voters, no other candidate has made the situation a campaign issue, perhaps because the Sala IV decision is clearcut — unless evidence somehow surfaces that Arias had made a deal with the magistrates.

Two European nations have new ambassadors here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Both Italy and Hungary have new ambassadors to Costa Rica.

Leonardo Sampoli, who holds a doctorate in political science, will represent the interests of Italy here.

György Herczeg, who has served as an ambassador elsewhere, will represent Hungary.

Both men met with Roberto Tovar Faja, the foreign minister, Tuesday and will present their credentials to President Abel Pacheco today, said the  Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

Sampoli has served in London, Zurich, Warsaw, Toronto and Athens and has served as director general of Italy's office of promotion and cultural cooperation, said the ministry.

Herczeg, who also is his nation's ambassador to México, has a master's in military science and

György Herczeg

Leonardo Sampoli

studied international journalism. He has been ambassador in Venezuela, advisor to the prime minister, a university professor and president of the municipal commmission of the Council of Europe, the ministry said.

Romanian citizen here to face drug and forgery counts in Holland
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Romanian national who has been living here since April has been detained to face charges in Holland, said police agencies.

The man is Valentin Istrate, 40, who faces charges of fraud and trafficking ecstasy, according to the International Police Agency (INTERPOL), which coordinated the arrest with the Fuerza Pública.

Istrate was detained near the Centro Comercial Paseo de las Flores in Heredia, police said.

The man arrived here April 3 and had been living with
a Costa Rican woman in Urbanización Real Santamaría in Lagunilla de Heredia, officials said. He arrived from Spain and has made several trips out of the country since, police said.

The Dutch government alleges two different crimes in the request that they sent asking Costa Rica to hold Istrate. The Dutch said he was involved in a credit card forgery operation and also was involved in the distribution of the synthetic drug.

Police here said that Dutch officers seized 70,000 tablets of a synthetic drug in the City of  Dordrech there but were unable to detain Istrate because he left for Spain.

A.M. Costa Rica

Fourth news page

Good grief!

Are you still spending 70 percent 
of your advertising budget on paper?

You need to fill this space ASAP!

Home Calendar Place a 
classified ad
Classifieds Real estate  Food About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 8

Haiti will try again for national elections Feb. 7
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Officials have announced a new date for national elections. The troubled country has been battling violence and insecurity, as it struggles to prepare for the vote. The announcement comes just two days after the United Nation's top military commander was found dead in his hotel room.

This is the fifth time that Haiti has attempted to organize a date for national elections.

According to a presidential decree, the first round of voting will be held Feb. 7, and a runoff will be held, if needed, March 19. The new government is to take office by March 29.

The vote was formerly to be held Sunday, but in late December, officials postponed elections for the fourth time due to logistical problems. Haitian election officials said that national identity cards had not been fully distributed, and there were not enough polling centers in rural areas.

U.N. ambassador to Haiti Juan Valdez has welcomed the new date, and he said the U.N. would not accept that the date be postponed again.

The U.N. has been criticized by Haitian officials for the repeated election delays. They say the U.N. and the Organization of American States have not done enough to help the country prepare.

The Haitian population is also critical of the apparent failure of U.N. troops to provide security in the crime-ridden capital, Port-au-Prince. Kidnappings have
 skyrocketed, generating millions of dollars in ransom for the gangs who control the slums in downtown Port-au-Prince. Haitian national police estimate that 1,900 people were kidnapped between March and December of 2005.

The capital was largely shut down Monday, after a general strike was called by the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Reginald Boulos. Boulos says he called the strike to protest the rash of kidnappings, and urge U.N. troops, known locally as MINUSTAH, to do more to provide security.

"I think the role of MINUSTAH was to bring peace and security — to bring security back, and help the government to carry elections. Elections cannot take place in such an unsecure environment. So, therefore, we think there are enough troops in this country, 7,400 international troops. There is enough know-how and technical expertise in MINUSTAH to basically get in with the minimum casualty in the civilian society, and get rid of the gangs, disarm the gangs," said Boulos.

The U.N. mission is still trying to regroup after the death of its top military commander, Gen. Urano Bacellar. He was found dead in his hotel room Saturday morning in what one senior U.N. official has called a self-inflicted gunshot wound. So far, the U.N. has not confirmed the death as a suicide, and has launched an investigation.

The U.N. began its peacekeeping operation in Haiti in June of 2004, just three months after then President Jean Bertrand Aristide was forced into exile, following a violent uprising. The Feb. 7 voting would be the first democratic election since Aristide was forced out.

Florida professor and wife being held as spies for the Cuban government
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A college professor and his wife in Florida have been accused of spying for Cuba for decades.

In an indictment made public Monday in Miami, prosecutors said 61 year-old Carlos Alvarez and his 55 year-old wife, Elsa, had been sending to Cuba information on U.S. government officials and anti-Castro exile groups. Prosecutor Brian Frazier said.  Carlos began spying for Cuba in 1977, and Elsa
began in 1982, said officials familiar with the case.

Frazier said the couple used short wave radio and encryption equipment to send messages to Cuba. An agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation said there was no evidence they provided classified or military information to Cuba.

The couple was employed at Florida International University. The judge in the case ordered them held without bail and scheduled a hearing for Jan. 19.

Election council in Perú rejects Fujimori's application to be a candidate
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Perú — The national election council has formally rejected former president Alberto Fujimori's application to run in April's presidential election.

The board announced its decision Tuesday, noting that Peru's Congress banned Fujimori from holding public office until 2011. Fujimori's daughter filed his application Friday on his behalf.
The former president is detained in Chile, where he was arrested in early November and is now fighting extradition to Peru. He is wanted on a number of charges involving human rights abuses and corruption.

Fujimori was Peru's president for a decade starting in 1990. In 2000 he fled to Japan and resigned his office because of a corruption scandal. He went to Chile in November with the intention of running for president.

Jo Stuart
About us

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. Check HERE for more details