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(506) 2223-1327          Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 10     Email us
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Expat wins small victory in prolonged property case
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An expat and his Costa Rican lawyer prevailed this week in a criminal case that was the latest development in a long-running saga over disputed properties on the Central Pacific coast.

The expat, Sheldon Haseltine, has been struggling to hang on to the five tracts near the Los Sueños development for the past 16 years. He and his lawyer, Horacio Mejias Portuguez, were accused of forgery involving documents submitted in another case.

The allegation was leveled by Armando Gonzalez Fonseca, a Costa Rican business tycoon, and Martha Sandoval, who lives on one of Haseltine’s properties. The prosecutor sided with Haseltine and his lawyer, and a judge earlier had prohibited a lawyer for González from carrying the case forward as a private criminal action.

Dixiela Madrigal Mora, the prosecutor in Puntarenas, said she concluded that there was no crime. She spoke in favor of both Mejias and Haseltine during a judicial session Tuesday.  A judge then ruled in favor of both men and said there was no proof of the document's falsity and that there was no crime. But the lawyer for González was to appeal this verdict.

Representing González and Sandoval at the judicial hearing was Christian Ceciliano Mora. He just took over the case from the original lawyer, his brother, Otto Giovanni Ceciliano Mora, the former Barva mayoral candidate, who has been jailed for preventative detention. Otto Ceciliano was detained by the Judicial Investigating Organization Dec. 20 in a wave of arrests relating to marijuana smuggling and money laundering.

Haseltine, a British national, acquired five properties in Herradura, Puntarenas, near what is now Los Sueños in 1977. Since then, four out of the five properties have kept Haseltine in prolonged litigations, he said.

Because of his disputed land ownership within those years he has been involved in two criminal trials, one constitutional court Sala IV case, two agrarian trials and one civil suit. In another case, Haseltine was convicted of armed aggression, an allegation leveled by a relative of Ms. Sandoval. That conviction is being appealed.

Haseltine maintains he is innocent on the weapon charge. He said he believes a strategy exists to relieve him from the land. Haseltine noted that even though he has all the legal paperwork to show ownership, squatters are living on his properties.

Ms. Sandoval lives on the land.  She has since transferred any ownership interest she may have to her daughter. Gonzalez Fonseca said he
Armado González Fonseca
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Armado González Fonseca enters the court building.

purchased the property from another man who was not involved in the case last week.

The specific allegation in the case this week was that a document that simplified the management of Haseltine's corporation, Ivanhoe Investment S.A., was fake. The corporation is registered in Panamá, but administered in The Bahamas.  The document required and got the seal of the Costa Rican consulate in The Bahamas.

The lawyers for González and Ms. Sandoval
claimed the document was fake because the immigration data base showed that Mejias, Haseltine's lawyer who signed the document, never left the country.  Mejias said he used a courier service to deliver the document overseas. Proving this required two years of legal fighting. The disputed document has been presented in a another civil case in which Haseltine was trying to reaffirm his corporation's property ownership.

The judicial hearing before Yorleni Campos Campos, the judge, was private in the Puntarenas judicial building. However, a reporter was allowed to attend to provide translating help to Haseltine. The judge characterized the case as stemming from a misunderstanding. The prosecutor, Ms. Madrigal, reported that she personally investigated the allegation of fraud to reach her conclusion that the two men were not guilty.

Two persons in support of González had to wait in the corridor. They were international commercial developer Fuad Farach Abdalah and Ricardo Jiménez Montealegre, a well-known contractor, They appeared to be upset when a television reporter and cameraman began asking them questions.  Christian Ceciliano, the lawyer for González, initiated a heated exchange with the television reporter and then called a courthouse security agent who asked the television pair to stop recording.  Ceciliano said the pair were intruding on a private meeting he was having with his client.

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Germany will support
effort for renewable energy


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Germany will support Costa Rica in a new project for renewable energy, said Dirk Niebel, German minister of economic cooperation and development. He spoke Thursday during a press conference at Casa Presidencial.

Niebel had met with President Laura Chinchilla Miranda and Enrique Castillo, minister of foreign affairs, earlier in the morning, in which they discussed a new cooperative relationship between both countries in security and environment issues.

“Costa Rica aspires to play a large role with Germany,” said Castillo.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, a German organization that supports international cooperation for sustainable development, will help install a project for renewable energy in the country. Costa Rica has good results for producing low-emission energy said Niebel.

The idea for the project came from Costa Rican Minister of Economics, who said that the initiative is the first of its kind worldwide. The project is supposed to expand and benefit into the rest of Central America. Wednesday he visited the site of a proposed windmill generating project in Escazú.


Costa Rica will open
embassy in Australia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will turn its consulate in Australia within a short-time into an embassy, said Enrique Castillo, minister of foreign affairs, Thursday during a press conference after a meeting with John McCarthy, Australian special envoy, at the Casa Amarilla. And Australia is looking into establishing a consulate in Costa Rica.

Currently there is no consulate in Costa Rica. The Australian ambassador in México, Katrina Cooper, extends her representation into this country.

The two diplomats also discussed human rights, better security in the country, and the environment. Australia gave $20 million to Costa Rica for security purposes.

McCarthy served as ambassador in Costa Rica 25 years ago, he said. His meeting with the minister reinforced ties between the two countries and helped establish communication with the rest of the Asian-Pacific countries, said Castillo.

Costa Rica has made an effort to maintain and strengthen their ties with Australia and we want to reciprocate, said McCarthy.


Sports agency head fired

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Consejo Nacional de Deporte y la Recreación has fired Luis Peraza, director general of the Instituto Costarricense del Deporte y la Recreación, and the agency's financial director, Jesús Araya.

The action comes after the Consejo learned that the two men ordered a transfer of public funds to a Spanish university in excess of what the Consejo had approved, said a news release.

 
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!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 13, 2011, Vol. 12, No. 10
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Turrialba ash column puts scientists and the region on alert
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Turrialba volcano is showing renewed activity, and the national emergency commission has issued alerts for the cantons of Turrialba, Alvarado and Jiménez as well as Cartago and Oreamuno.

The Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica said that its scientists were watching the mountain since Wednesday when a 200-meter column of sulfur gas escaped from the volcano crater.

About 3 p.m. Thursday the volcano emitted fine ash, gases and vapor at a point where a new aperture in the crater formed. There was another 200-meter (about 660-foot) column, but this time the composition was ash, the Red Sismológica said. Four of its geologists, Raúl Mora, Carlos Ramírez, Gino González y Yemerith Alpízar, were at the summit of the volcano, and the crater was being observed by a thermal imaging camera mounted nearby.

Rangers at the Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba closed the facility and asked tourists to leave after the 3 p.m. incident.  The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said that the scientists were treating the event as a superficial eruption similar to ones that have taken place in the recent past. The last major eruption was in January 2010 when a large plume of ash came out of the southwest crater.

The emission Thursday was from the central crater as well as the southwest one. There are three craters in all.

Some low-level earth movements also were reported. The commission said there were no reports of odors or other activity that might hurt humans. However, the mountain has been putting out acid vapor since 2010, and the local vegetation has been affected. That also has taken place on the
Volcán Turrialba
Área de Conservación Cordillera Volcánica Central/Horacio Herrera
File photo of the Turrialba summit.

mountain's sister volcano, Irazú.  Both are east of San José. The emergency commission officials will be meeting with scientists today to consider what might be the future of the mountain.

The temperature of the central crater earlier Thursday was 550 degrees C (more than 1,000 degrees F), said the Red Sismológica. Later the thermal cameras recorded temperatures of 137 (about 280 F) and 187 degrees C  (about 370 F) at the crater, said the Red Sismológica.
 
The national park and volcano are northeast of the city of Turrialba.  At 3,340 meters (about 10,958 feet), Turrialba is the second tallest volcano in the country. There have been two big eruptions there, one in 1864 and one in 1868. There has been visible activity there since 2001.

Officials closed the park in July 2009 for the protection of visitors and only reopened it last July.


Of God, politics, used clothing and a little matter of 27 years
A few days ago on Bloomberg News, the anchor was reporting on some data.  He said “The statistics go back to 1985 ---- 1985?” (Like, big deal).  Then he said “I can`t believe it`s 2012.  That`s sick!”  He sounded disgusted, but I cracked up laughing.  Now whenever I think of that I laugh.  Indeed, 1985 was just yesterday!

We don´t have to go back quite that far to find Mitt Romney, running for his party´s nomination for president.  It seems as if try, try again works. Because he is at it again, and it looks like he´s going to take his place with Sens. McCain and Dole, who were finally rewarded as the Republican Party’s nominee for president because, as some Republican spokesperson said, of them and now Romney, “It`s his time,” If this were Mafia land, that would be like a kiss from the Don.

Sick or not, 2012 is going to be an interesting, even an explosive year.  I have heard that most of the world is waiting with bated breath for the outcome and with mouth agape at the shenanigans of U.S. politics.

It is nice to live where small is beautiful, diversity usually has the prefix bio and tolerance is the name of the game.

The holiday celebrations over, and many Ticos still on vacation (they get a lot of those days here), I decided to leave the TV and visit downtown San Jose.  Not sure if the buses were yet running regularly, I called a cab.  My taxista was a pretty mellow fellow while I fumed at the giant earth scooper blocking the entrance to Avenida Secunda so that traffic was jammed and alternative routes were required. (Of course, we view the maria differently.) When they repair a street here, they don´t think it`s necessary to warn people before the event.  We were in a snarl of traffic approaching Avenida Secunda from the south when a motorcyclist passed us and my taxista hailed him, to no avail, then got out of the car to examine the left rear fender.

We followed the driver on his giant mosquito, and my taxista again tried to get his attention when we stopped at the light.  He did so by banging on the door of his taxi. He then pointed out to the motorcyclist that he had nicked his taxi.  He said, “Amigo, you gave my car a golpe, not big, but be careful in the future.” The motorcyclist hung his head for a second, then nodded, they shook hands, and we were on our way again.

¨That`s nice,” I said. “Very Tico.”  My mellow driver just smiled.
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart


Downtown was quiet, even peaceful compared to the previous two weeks.  I enjoyed perusing the racks of clothing from various decades, including the 80s in a Ropa Americana.  I bought a jacket that will be perfect for the next rainy season.  It`s a Danskin with a great collar that will not permit neither wind nor rain to enter.  It had, I noticed, a secret pocket, which I have been unable to find again.  It cost $3.  I used to calculate the value of a piece of clothing by how many times I wore it.

If I wear this six times, it´s a bargain.

On the way home, my taxista was an evangelical Christian.  At least that is what he told me after he began quoting the Bible and selling me on the benefits of believing and trusting in God. Just what I needed after listening to American politicians quote the Old Testament, but never once, Christ, to win the religious fundamentalists in the States.  They are outdoing each other promising financial freedom and social conservatism, which means they won´t touch your pocketbook, but they will restrict your sexual behavior. And being a mother will be a woman´s main job.

Costa Rica is nominally a Catholic country but the evangelicals have multiplied.  I had to smile, listening to my taxista.  I recently read that proselytizing was illegal in Costa Rica. (You have to love a country where you can prostitute but not pimp or proselytize.)  However, like most soft laws, it is not much paid attention to.  Bus drivers let individuals board the vehicle to, at best, beg and, at worst, harangue their captive audience with their pleas for money in the name of their religion or personal tragedy. Hmm, asking for money.  It sounds like I am back to politics again.  

I just can´t figure out how people, with the exception of Job, don`t blame God for their personal tragedies and misfortunes, but give Him all the credit for undoing them.  Obviously God is not a politician.

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Two artists' works
              Fabio Herrera 'Jardin' done in 2005.                                 Mario Maffioli's 'Rombo 3' done last year.
Two top artists have a double opening Saturday in Guanacaste
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Two established Costa Rican artists will exhibit their works at a show that begins Saturday at the Hidden Garden Art Gallery west of Liberia.

The artists are Fabio Herrera Martinez and Mario Maffioli Reyes. Each will exhibit 10 works.

Herrera, born in San José, has studied at the school of fine arts at the Universidad de Costa Rica, and has had international exhibits in Spain, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States. With over 100 solo exhibits and hundreds of collective exhibits, Herrera is cited in over 80 books.  His more than 20 awards include numerous Aquileo J. Echeverría prizes.

Says the artist:

“I paint and continue painting because I want to discover something, and in these days I discovered that painting wants to liberate herself. She wants her own space, and I am the medium to do it. She gives me pleasure, she makes me think. I must be her ally: she liberates me. And in this long trek we have created an inseparable alliance, where the only sure thing
is, at the end, she will stay and I will leave.”

Award winning artist Maffioli also was born in San José and studied at the school of fine arts. He is a founding member of the Bocaracá Group. Maffioli has participated in over 100 exhibits, nationally and internationally, and is cited in more than 80 books.

Says the artist:

“Non-representative art, or concrete art, or the misnamed 'abstract art,' is the most important rebirth of art since the Renaissance. In concrete painting, lines, spots, texture, speak of the poetry proper to matter, the capacity to communicate in itself its physical and conceptual existence, with no reference to surroundings. Being born, day by day, by means of pictorial material, helped me to find the connection between an unknown internal world and an esthetic reality, a superb way of representing my vexation. To have the opportunity of motivating the imagination, without ties and with an absolute resolution of pleasure and freedom is a great satisfaction.”

The opening Saturday is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The gallery is 5 kilometers west of the Daniel Oduber airport.


Mayor arrested again as more prostitute recruits come forward
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators said Thursday they have located three girls and a young woman who were recruited for purposes of prostitution, so they rearrested the mayor of Aguirre and his municipal driver.

They also arrested a second municipal employee, a man and a woman who are connected to the Bar Los Iguanos in Mata Palo.

The arrests came on the eve of a hearing in which prosecutors were trying to put the mayor, Lutgardo Bolaños Gómez, in jail for preventative detention. A judge freed the man when he first was detained in the case Dec. 21. The mayor was greeted by many friends as he left the court building.

Three of the girls who have become involved in the case are between 14 and 15, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.
A fourth person is a woman who just turned 18, said judicial police.

Those arrested face allegations of trafficking in persons who are minors. The mayor faces an additional allegation of distribution of pornography. When he first was arrested, judicial police said the mayor and his driver used a municipal vehicle to travel to low-income areas to recruit girls for prostitution.

The second municipal employee was identified by the last names of Herrera Porras by the Poder Judicial. The administrator of the Bar Los Iguanos was identified by the last names of Acuña Martínez and a woman who worked there was identified by the last names of Campos Quesada, said the Poder Judicial.

The mayor has held the job since last February. The principal community in the Municipalidad de Aguirre is Quepos on the central Pacific coast.

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Fifth news page
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Las Vegas electronics show
opens with new products


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Thousands of companies from around the world have descended on the western U.S. city of Las Vegas for the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.  Their goal is to change the way people live.

Las Vegas.  Bright lights, mega casinos and, for a few days, home to some of the most cutting edge technology on the planet.

More than 20,000 new products are being launched, with the biggest buzz about very thin Ultrabook laptops, smart high definition TVs and innovative interfaces.

There's also lots of talk about the new Windows smartphones. "You can see that what I have here are the things that are most important to me," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Windows phones have long lagged behind Apple's iPhone and Android phones, but Ballmer is confident sales will take off. "Really, Windows phone is the first phone that I think that put people first," he said.

Even automakers are getting into the act. 

Mercedes Benz chief executive Dieter Zetsche said, "Just like a smart phone can be so much more than a means of communication, a smart vehicle can be so much more than a mode of transportation.  Your car will keep its services and apps up to date through the Internet."

Not all of the top technology companies are at the show, perhaps none more prominent than iPhone maker Apple.  And Microsoft says it will not attend next year.  But the Consumer Electronics Association's Tim Doyle says the technology will continue to awe.

"We know that there's a lot of people eager to have their booth spot or their keynote [speech], so we're excited about the future.  2013 projects to be another great CES," he said.


Haiti marks second year
after deadly earthquake


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Haiti is marking the second anniversary of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed 300,000 people.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement honoring the victims of January 12, 2010, earthquake, including 102 U.N. personnel who died.

Ban spoke to Haitian President Michele Martelly by phone Wednesday, pledging the U.N.'s support as the country rebuilds.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, a special U.N. envoy to Haiti, is on the island to participate in some of the memorial services held Thursday.

Among the observances, President Martelly was to announce the opening of a new university donated by Haiti's island neighbor, the Dominican Republic.

On Wednesday he announced Canada will help relocate thousands of earthquake victims from a tent camp near the National Palace to new homes.


Somali pirates choose
the wrong boat to attack


By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

Spanish forces have captured six alleged pirates in the Indian Ocean, after the suspects attacked a Spanish navy ship.

The Spanish defense ministry says pirates aboard a skiff opened fire on the combat support ship Patiño early Thursday.

A statement says the navy ship exchanged fire with the pirates, who eventually tried to flee on their boat.  A military helicopter caught up with the pirates, who then surrendered.

The ministry says six suspected pirates were taken into custody, five of whom were injured.  The detainees said a colleague who was killed during the incident had been thrown overboard.

The Spanish vessel is part of the European Union's mission to protect ships from pirates off the coast of Somalia and in the Indian Ocean.

Somali pirates have made hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom from hijacking ships in recent years.

Anti-piracy officials with the EU recently said pirates now receive an average of $4.7 million in ransom for each hijacking.  However, the number of successful hijackings appears to be dropping, a trend authorities attribute to increased naval patrols and better security aboard the vessels.

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Oduber plane corridors
Minsterio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
Time was when tourists had to climb down stairs and walk across the tarmack.

Terminal at Daniel Oduber
opens with first tourists

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new, $35 million passenger terminal at Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia went into service Thursday, and the first persons to have the advantage of the new building were identified as U.S. tourists.

They were Robin and Elizabeth Brown, and they met with President Laura Chinchilla Miranda, who was on hand for the inauguration.

The new terminal ads 10 immigration places to the previous seven and can handle 1,500 passengers an hour or four airliners at the same time.

Ms. Chinchilla told the Browns that Costa Rica wants visitors to return.

The terminal was six months late in opening. The sprawling terminal is 23,000 square meters in two levels. That is 247,570 square feet.

In 10 years the Liberia airport has grown from a facility handling just a few charter jets to a rival in tourist traffic to Alajuela's Juan Santamaría airport. The airport has been a financial blessing to Guanacaste tourism.

Daniel Oduber teerminal
Minsterio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
New terminal has waiting rooms on second floor.










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