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(506) 2223-1327              Published Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 7         E-mail us
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Latest scam targets those who are selling a home
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A fake homebuyer is breaking new ground with a unique variation of the advanced fee scam.

The man approached Gene Warneke, who has a home for sale in Grecia. Warneke said the man spoke four languages, including Spanish and English fluently, and claimed to have been connected in the past with Colombian drug cartels. He toured the home and was pleased with what he saw.

The man wanted the home for his son, who soon would be released from a Canadian prison where he was serving a term for domestic violence, said Warneke.

The man wanted to buy the upscale, $425,000 home, but, alas, his money was in a bank in Panamá and his Canadian passport had expired.
Instead of spending a few dollars to renew his
passport, the man said he would pay $30,000 to bribe border officials to let him cross into Panamá, Warneke related.

"I played along, but told him I had other people interested in buying my home and that I was moving to Puerto Jiménez, close to Panamá, in three days.  He could bring me the money there," said Warneke.

The man showed up in Puerto Jiménez and said he just needed $5,200 more for the bribe so he could get the money for the home. Warneke said he told the man that he did not bring any money and would not participate in such a scheme anyway. The man left without the payday he was expecting.

But he probably is touring some other home for sale this week. Warneke said the man was small and dark and that he said his parents are Haitian, that he was born in Belize.



Shivering nation has to confront strong winds
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

House roofs and electric lines took a beating Monday as high winds, spawned by a cold front, chilled the country. In Matina, Sarapiquí and Turrialba, homes were flooded due to unseasonable rain.

Some residents were in shelters as the national emergency commission issued a yellow weather alert. On the Pacific Coast, homes in Miramar lost their roofs and one woman was hospitalized after being hit by a metal panel from a roof.

The weather problems eclipsed concern over Volcán Turrialba, which seems to be returning to normal after eruptions earlier in the week. The emergency commission said that cloudy and rainy weather prevented observers on the ground from keeping a good watch on the smoking mountain.

The weather reports predicted much of the same for today.

The emergency commission counted 39 homes that lost all or part of their roof in various parts of the country. Wind damage was reported in the Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Alajuela centro, Santa Ana and Poás, as well as the 26 homes damaged in Miramar.

Nearly 300 persons were reported in shelters by late Monday. In Sarapiquí 180 persons were sheltered. Some 85 persons were in shelters in Matina in the province of Limón. There also were shelters set up in Talamanca where the Río Sixaola always is a threat.
The  Cruz Roja said that there were flooding problems in Valle de la Estrella and Puerto Viejo.
The rios Chirripó, La Lucha and Barbilla were running out of their banks flooding sections of Matina, Bataan, Estrada, Esperanza, Placeres and Bristol.

In San José pedestrians were greeted with rain falling sideway when whipped by the wind and gusts of up to 43 kph (27 mph).

There was only a trace of rain, and the temperature dipped as low as 15.5 C (about 60 F.), according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional.

Liberia saw winds of 28 kph (17 mph) but with a low temperature of 23 C (73.4 F).

An automatic weather station at the Guias y Scouts in Iztarú in Tres Rios reported 32.4 kph (20 mph) maximum winds for the day and 12.9 C temperature at 12:30 a.m. today.

In Cartago itself the highest winds for the day were  29.3 kph (18 mph) with a minimum temperature at a chilly 13.7C. (56.7 F).

At a slightly higher elevation in San Cristóbal, Desamparados, the temperature early today was 12.1 C (55.2F) with the highest gusts recorded early Tuesday at 52.3 kph (32.5 mph).

Rainfall Monday in Limón was recorded at 52.9 mms (about 2 inches)  Monday with 123.6 mms (about 4.9 inches) having fallen from 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 7

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


Legal services

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We offer real estate law, due diligence and escrow services,residency status, business corporations, estate planning. English, Spanish, German and French spoken.
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The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the
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Persons contracting its services do so for their own account and at their own risk.
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4401-6/9/09v
fake documents
Escazú Policía Municipal photo
These are the documents and sticker police say are fakes

Escazú police say driver
faked vehicle documents

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If the vehicle cannot pass the mandatory safety inspection known as Riteve, there is another way to keep it on the road. Modern technology makes faking documents easy.

The Policia Municipal de Escazú and the Policía de Tránsito allege that is exactly what a man with the last name of Montero did. They stopped him for a routine check Monday and noticed that his Datsun vehicle had seen better days. Still, it has a current safety inspection document and marchamo or road tax form.

The police allege that they were false. Police confiscated the documents and the vehicle, but a judge let the defendant go free, said the Escazú police.

Robbery suspects to spend
four months in prison

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three men suspected of being part of a robbery band that preyed on taxi drivers will spend the next four months in jail awaiting trial, the Juzgado Penal de Turno Extraordinario ordered Monday.

The three were detained by the Fuerza Pública after a taxi driver smashed his vehicle into a wall to break up the robbery. The Fuerza Pública identified them by the last names of  Esquivel Marín, Ugalde Picado and Román Brenes. All are Costa Rican.

Police said that three men hailed a taxi near the community of La Capri and said they were going to Aserrí. Then they pulled a gun. The taxi driver suffered a bullet wound to the arm and broke a leg in three places in the collision in nearby Lomas del Rancho, San Rafael de Desamparados.

Two men fled from the crash, but two suspects were rounded up shortly by police.

Telephone books ready to go

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad will announce today the process of distributing the Grupo ICE 2010 telephone book to the country. Typically this is done by the Cruz Roja who accept tips for the rescue organization from telephone customers.

The company has competition from private firms that also seek to distribute the telephone numbers.

In both case, the publishers are facing a financial squeeze as society moves away from expensive paper to electronic information. The Instituto de Electricidad maintains a full-service directory line for telephone numbers, and many numbers are available on the Internet.

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A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 7

   
Check out the printed version of the Top Story news feed and see what  you  missed.
Enjoy Incredible Beach Sunsets and  Sunrises. With the Pacific Ocean and the awesome mountain behind.
Elegantly built to your specifications. Delivered and set up at your home in Costa Rica.


An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
The happy planet legend lives on at The New York Times

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

They say in the news business that a story had legs. That means that the tale is repeated by those who see it.

If that's the case, the happy planet index has wings because a July news release has been picked up and distorted many times.

The most recent recounting came from New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, a double Pulitzer winner, who now can write off his Costa Rica vacation as a business expense, thanks to his column Wednesday. The column is high praise for Costa Rica as the country without an army and its high standing in the so-called happy planet index.

". . . Costa Rica wins the day, for achieving contentment and longevity in an environmentally sustainable way. The Dominican Republic ranks second, the United States 114th (because of its huge ecological footprint) and Zimbabwe is last," said Kristof.

He forgot to mention that Guatemala is No. 4 and Vietnam is No. 5. Nevertheless, the column fits well with the ideological slant of The Times.

Kristof, who said he visited here with his daughter, is one of thousands of tourists who are enthralled by Costa Rica and dream of living here.

"(Note to boss: Maybe we should have a columnist based in Costa Rica?)," said Kristof.

If the Times does place a columnist here, they should make certain the new arrival digs deeper than Kristof. As A.M. Costa Rica pointed out in July, the creators of the happy planet index, the New Economics Foundation, denied that the scale measures happiness:  "The Index doesn’t reveal the ‘happiest’ country in the world. It shows the relative
efficiency with which nations convert the planet’s natural resources into long and happy lives for their citizens. The nations that top the Index aren’t the happiest places in the world, but the nations that score well show that achieving, long, happy lives without over-stretching the planet’s resources is possible."

As this newspaper said in its headline: "Sadly, the happy planet report is mostly ideology."

The Kristof column was circulated widely on the Internet, and La Nación translated it into Spanish. There were more than 120 responses, most favorable and some from Costa Ricans. But the columnist also received some negative comments on the Times Web page. Some readers noted that he ignored the rising crime rate, corruption and a lot of other problems permanent residents face in Costa Rica.

Kristof, himself, gives a glimpse at his own prejudices when he says: ". . . But what does seem quite clear is that Costa Rica’s national decision to invest in education rather than arms has paid rich dividends. Maybe the lesson for the United States is that we should devote fewer resources to shoring up foreign armies and more to bolstering schools both at home and abroad."

The irony is that the U.S. Fourth Fleet is offshore ready to repel any force that invades Costa Rica.  That is why the country can continue to survive without an army, although the country did have military units protecting the northern border during the Nicaraguan civil war.

The problem is that naive, glowing reports of Costa Rica, although good for business in the short run, attract the uncritical. As those who live here know, Costa Rica is not for everyone. And a procession of disenchanted short-term residents could be a serious blow to Costa Rica when they return to their homelands and vent their feelings. This is a pretty good place but not biblical paradise, as Kristof, based on his very brief visit, would suggest.



Heredia store theft leads to killing of an innocent bystander
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A store clerk who is Chinese, fed up with shoplifters, chased a man he thought had stolen products from the Heredia business and fired at the supposed victim.

The bullet hit a young man talking with friends on the sidewalk in Guararí de Heredia. The incident took place Saturday evening. Investigators say that the young man has no relationship with the theft.
The young man, identified by the last name of Gómez died from the wound. The store clerk, identified by the last name of Wu, has been detained. He is 19.

Riot police came to the scene after neighbors became agitated over the incident. The Juzgado Penal de Heredia ordered Sunday that the man be held for at least 48 hours. That decision gives prosecutors time to locate a translator and to conduct an interview with Wu, said the Poder Judicial.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 7

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Gambling company plans to set up online casino here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Nicaraguan gambling company said that it has purchased a .cr domain name as a Web site. The site that is not yet fully activated is www.bet.cr.

The gambling site is operated by Grupo Beneficial S.A., a Managua, Nicaragua, company that is a subsidiary of Beneficial Holdings, Inc.

Beneficial Holdings Inc., said on its Web site that the company owns, operates, manages and is developing or acquiring various gaming/casino facilities in Nicaragua, Panamá, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Additionally, the company will also explore joint venture opportunities with established and well-known gaming companies.

The company said it is currently developing an online casino for non-United States residents that will comply with all United States and International gaming laws.  The company has an office in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Internet gambling is illegal in the United States in most areas, and the federal government has been vigorous in enforcing the laws.

Grupo Beneficial said in a news release that it believes that the www.bet.cr domain name provides the company with a short, easy to remember name for its electronic casino.

The company said it chose a .cr domain extension because the online casino will be licensed in Costa Rica.

Grupo Beneficial believes that the casino will be operational in less than one month. The electronic casino will work through software that users download onto their computer systems. A contract is in place for the development of the custom software, it said.

The system will target the non-United States international community and be in several languages including Spanish, German, Italian and English. Users may choose the currency of their choice, the company said. In addition to a casino, the system will also feature a sports book.



Large French outsourcing firm opening in Costa Rica

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Teleperformance, the French outsourcing company is launching operations in San Jose Costa Rica. The Costa Rica operations will primarily focus on serving the US domestic market and extends Teleperformance’s global geographic delivery leadership to 49 countries worldwide, the firm said.

Teleperformance has already secured a multi-year agreement with an existing client that will be serviced by the newly launched Costa Rica operation.

The initial operation includes approximately 300 workstations supporting the U.S.A .and an additional 100 workstations  delivering services to the Latin American market, the firms said.
“This move strengthens our footprint in Central America and simultaneously extends our existing industry lead in providing the most flexible and effective delivery options to our U.S. market clients," said Daniel Julien, global CEO and chairman of the board of Teleperformance. "We are very pleased to welcome Teleperformance Costa Rica worldwide family.”


In 2008 the company had worldwide income of $2.6 billion or about 1.8 euros. The Group operates about 82,000 computerized workstations, with more than 100,000 employees across 268 contact centers in 49 countries and conducts programs in more than 66 different languages and dialects on behalf of major international companies operating in various industries.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 7

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Mexico's drug battle gets
a close eye from U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On Dec. 16, Mexican marines stormed a luxury apartment in Cuernavaca, near Mexico City, and killed Arturo Beltran Leyva, head of one of the country's largest drug trafficking organizations. A couple of weeks later, authorities arrested his brother, Carlos, further disrupting the command structure of the criminal enterprise. These were portrayed as important victories for Mexican President Felipe Calderón, whose war on drug gangs has been blamed for a wave of violence across the country in the past few years. U.S. officials are applauding Calderon's efforts and trying to offer him as much support as they can.

The war against narcotics-trafficking cartels in Mexico is being watched closely by federal law enforcement officials here in the United States. The Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA, is spearheading a multi-agency US effort at its field office in Houston. The drug war also is being watched in Costa Rica where much of the raw drugs transit either on land or at sea.

Gary Hale, chief of intelligence at the DEA Houston office, says sharing resources and information with the Mexican government has helped President Calderón to disrupt the criminal organizations' operations on the border. "To be realistic, we will never get rid of drug trafficking, per se, but we can have an effect on the overall business and the best effect that we have determined we can have is to disrupt and dismantle. And how do you do that? You go after command and control, you go after the leadership," he said.

Since President Calderón began his crusade against organized crime in Mexico in December 2006, thousands of people have died in bloody confrontations between rival gangs and between cartel gunmen and police and military troops.

One indication of the brutality of the gangs came a week after the recent raid that resulted in the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva, the man known as the boss of bosses in Mexico's criminal underground. Gunmen killed the mother and several relatives of a marine killed during the raid, sending a message of fear to other marines, soldiers and police agents who are battling the cartels.

Gary Hale says Mexican authorities realize that the cartels are taking over large parts of Mexico and threatening the nation's sovereignty and that this motivates the soldiers and police agents to carry on the fight. "They are not doing it because they are forced to do it, they are not doing it because they make a lot of money, they're doing it because they are patriots. They are doing it because they love their country and they are doing the right thing," he said.

The DEA intelligence chief says the Mexican government efforts are making a difference, especially in reducing the amount of cocaine and other narcotics from South America that makes it over the U.S. border. "The same amount of drugs are reaching Mexico, but they are having a difficult time, because of Calderon's policies, moving those drugs through Mexico and into the United States," he said.

Hale says much of the progress comes from the close working relationship U.S. authorities have been able to establish with their Mexican counterparts. "We have tremendous intelligence sharing with them, they have good intelligence capabilities and so do we. We exchange intelligence with them quite frequently. There are occasional links of information or compromises, but, as a trend, they are doing an outstanding job of being partners with DEA and other federal law enforcement agencies of the United States," he said.

As for what happens next, now that the Beltran Leyva cartel has been hit hard, Hale says that remains an open question. "On the one hand, the remaining organizations may make peace and carve out territory. On the other hand, the various factions that were fighting before could escalate the violence that they have had between them," he said.

The prospect of even more violence between warring drug cartels is not pleasing to Mexicans in border cities that already resemble war zones, but most of the people being killed are involved in the drug trade. What will be crucial, in Hale's view, is a sustained effort by both Mexico and the United States, working in cooperation, to further disrupt and cripple the criminal enterprises that threaten the security of both nations.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 7


Latin American news
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Venezuela officially protests
airspace violation by U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela has sent a formal letter of protest to the United States, alleging a U.S. military plane violated Venezuelan airspace last week after taking off from the nearby Netherlands Antilles.

The Venezuelan government Monday presented the formal protest to U.S. diplomats in Caracas.  The U.S. denies the accusation.

Late last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said he ordered two F-16 jets to intercept what he said was a U.S. P-3 aircraft over his country.  He said the American plane twice entered his country's airspace from the Netherlands Antilles.

Washington has said the U.S. does not fly over another nation's airspace "without prior consent and coordination."

In December, Chávez accused the Netherlands of allowing the U.S. to use the Dutch-owned islands off the Venezuelan coast to prepare for an attack on his country.  The U.S. has called that assertion "baseless."

The United States has long had a military presence on the islands of Aruba and Curacao, with staff involved in drug surveillance operations over the Caribbean.

Separately, Chávez has accused the U.S. of launching a spy plane from Colombia into Venezuelan airspace last month.  He vowed then to shoot down any such aircraft in the future.

Venezuela and Colombia have been at odds over an agreement allowing the U.S. to use seven Colombian military bases for anti-drug operations.


Death of tourist investigated

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators are awaiting the full autospy report on a Massachusetts man who died at Playa Potrero Dec. 31 or Jan. 1. The man identified as John Joseph Scibeck was found along side a road in the Pacific beach community.

The case has been played up as a murder in the Boston area media, although there is no certainty of foul play. Initial indications are that the man died of asphyxiation, but he was 67. There was no sign of robbery.




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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 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details