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(506) 2223-1327           Published Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 13     Email us
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Volcano plume
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica photo/Sergio Gullén Víquez
The plume comes from the new opening in the west crater.
Turrialba not considered due for imminent eruption
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The ash plume that shot up from the peak of the Turrialba volcano Thursday did so because a new vent had opened in the southwest flank of the west crater, according to scientists at Universidad Nacional.

Although the national emergency commission has lifted a mid-level alert at the mountain, a report Tuesday by the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica said that the creation of new vents also was reported before the 1864 and 1868 eruption of Turrialba:

“The stories on the 1864-68 eruption of Turrialba volcano mention the formation of numerous similar fumarolic vents prior to the phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions. More recently, Irazú volcano started its activity by the opening of tens of high-pressure fumarolic vents before erupting in 1963.”

A phreatic eruption is when the hot magma makes contact with surface water and produces a steam explosion. Phreatomagmatic eruptions are the result of explosive thermal contraction, many scientists believe.

The scientists said that the vents are the product of the rock weathering and collapsing as a result of rainfall. There are now three high-pressure and high-temperature vents on the peak of the volcano, and the scientists said they expect more vents to be formed because of the weakening of the crater wall rock and the high rainfall.

The observatory put out a report in English Tuesday as well as one in Spanish.  The reports said that the volcano is not yet showing signs of imminent eruption within a short time.
“It is important to keep in mind that it remains highly active with the potential of endangerment related to its volcanic activity,” said the English version. The creation of new vents probably will generate ash emissions and throw more volcanic rocks, it added.

The Thursday ash plume traveled mainly to the north northwest, but some was reported in Tres Ríos some 27 kilometers (17 miles) southwest of the volcano, said the report. A plume emitted Friday did not contain ash but was a vigorous output of bluish gas at high temperature that generated a jet-like noise sound audible from the visitor outlook, said the more detailed English report. Scientists estimated the temperature of the Friday plume at 592 degrees C or about 1100 F.

The observatory report was prepared by Geoffroy Avard, Jorge Brenes Marín, Erick Fernández Soto, María Martínez Cruz, Efraín Menjívar P., Javier Pacheco Alvarado, Wendy Sáenz Vargas and Rodolfo Van der Laat Valverde. Many of the scientists visited the mountain peak.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said Tuesday that because the volcano seems to have returned to normality, it was lowering the alert level from yellow to green in the area around the volcano and the adjacent Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba. The agency said it was maintaining a green preventative alert for the cantons of Turrialba, Alvarado, Jiménez and Oreamuno. The mountain remains a potential risk to humans and animals, it said. The park remains closed to visitors.

The commission also said it asked the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad and the Municipalidad de Turrialba to improve roadways in anticipation of a possible evacuation.

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French couple
Gerard and Claude Dubois

Agents asks public for help
in search for French couple

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators are swallowing their pride and asking the public for help in the investigation of the French couple who disappeared March 31, 2011.

The Judicial Investigating Organization specifically asked for information from the public in a news release Tuesday. Investigators asked that anyone who has information to contact them at the confidential telephone number 800 8000 645 or via email to cicooij@poder-judicial.go.cr .

In a new piece of information, the agents from the Aguirre and Parrita office said that credit cards belonging to the pair had been used in different parts of the country.

The missing couple are tourists, Gerard and Claude Dubois.

Agents confirmed that the passports of the pair were found in a Jacó garbage container.

Investigators initially said that the pair had stopped their vehicle and drowned in the Río Naranjo south of Quepos where the car was found April 3.

The Dominical-based CAP on Crime later reported that the water at that location is just 50 centimeters or about 20 inches.

The families of the missing tourists have been critical of the investigation, and the French Embassy is known to have been pressuring for a more complete investigation.

That the credit cards have been used elsewhere is not unusual in that there is a black market for credit cards, and the persons making the illicit purchases might not have anything to do with the disappearances. Agents said they were trying now to locate those who had used the credit cards.

Most crooks can count on accomplices at various retail outlets to run credit card charges in exchange for cash. Reputable store clerks probably would not complete a credit card sale without adequate identification, and most Costa Rican crooks could not pass for Gerard and Claude Dubois from France. Many retail outlets have security cameras.

The French couple are just two of a handful of foreigners who have gone missing in Costa Rica under suspicious circumstances. In addition a park ranger from Volcán Poás and a university student who was hiking, both Costa Ricans, have vanished.

Agents said they were trying now to locate those who had used the credit cards.

 
Find out what the papers
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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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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2011, Vol. 12, No. 13
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Figueroa graphics
            These most likely are politicians                          . . . . and the imperial Tómas Guardia and his throne.
Archivo Nacional now has drafts of famous 'Album de Figueroa'
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Archivo Nacional says it has received complete control over the existing notebooks of José María Figueroa Oreamuno, a chronicler of the lives and times of 19th century Costa Rica.

The Archivo Nacional already had “El Álbum de Figueroa,” a
Figueroa
José María Figueroa
compilation of the author's years of traveling and observing Costa Rican society. The new documents are five notebooks on which the album is believed to have been based. The Archivo called them drafts of the final book.

Figueroa in 2010 received belated recognition of his contributions to arts and letters. The Asamblea Legislativa named him a benemérito of the country, the nation's highest honor.

Many consider him an ethnographer and cartographer because he
traveled into less-well-known areas of the country, such as
Talamanca, Térraba, Boruca and Guatuso in the middle of the 19th century and produced a number of maps, including one that was displayed in Spain to mark the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America.

Figueroa also was a caricaturist and wit. He once was brought into court on a pornography charge relating to his drawings.

His album is about 200 pages, and it was delicately restored by experts. He did not pull punches. Once he wrote of the relationship of a priest and a mistress. Figueroa, himself, never married but did father a daughter. He was from the highest level of Costa Rican society because his Spanish immigrant father married into the Oreamuno family. Figueroa was born in Alajuela in 1820 and died in 1900. So he was a witness to the highly serious politics of the mid 19th century when political opponents and even presidents were shot.

Edgardo Richards, writing for the Asociación Costarricense de Filosofía, said that Figueroa wrote and drew a lot of the political class, particularly under the administration of Gen. Tomás Guardia and of practices of the church hierarchy, the corruption, the press, the militarism, Masonry, gambling, alcoholism, and the customers and prejudices of the privileged classes. Figueroa was influenced by 18th century French philosophy.

The Archivo Nacional waged a battle to obtain the album of
Notebook cover
One of the Figueroa notebook covers

Figueroa and than it did so again to obtain the notebooks. The notebooks were found in 2007 in the personal library of former president Rafael Iglesias Castro. 

The president's granddaughter, Manuela Tattenbach Iglesias, offered the presidential documents to the Archivo Nacional. The Archivo and Ms. Tattenbach entered into an agreement in 2008, but when the material arrived at the Archivo, it was reported to be incomplete. There were no Figueroa notebooks.

What followed was a lengthy legal proceeding between the Archivo and the person who was by then the executor of Ms.  Tattenbach's estate. Last year, the Archivo obtained legal custody of the notebooks and eventually entered into an agreement for ownership.

Still missing is a notebook called the “Libro Violeta” and a large drawing of a woman. The Archivo still is seeking these. They were part of the works originally catalogued in 2007.


Immigration agent accused of faking data on foreigners
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another immigration agent has been detained at Juan Santamaría airport on the allegation that he was helping foreigners fake their trips in and out of the country.

The security ministry identified the man by the last names of  Monge Navarro.  He is facing a charge of computer fraud.

The ministry said that he had access to the SIMMEL immigration data base that keeps track of who enters and who leaves the country.

He was detained by what the ministry said were fellow members of the Policía Profesional de Migración y Extranjería under the jurisdiction of the frauds prosecutor.

Another immigration agent, identified by the last name of
 Gómez, was led away by investigators Nov. 15 under the cloud of the same allegation. He, too, was accused of altering the immigration data base.

The ministryy said that Monge had been under investigation since December. The man has worked for the department since June 2008, investigators said.

The ministry did not explain fully actually what has been alleged. However, tourists can extend their stay here if they leave the country just as their visa expires. For North Americans that is every 90 days. Others who are illegal here can use fake data to show that they just arrived.

Gómez faces an allegation of legalizing the status of the four immigrants from Columbia via fake computer data. He was the subject of a telephone tip in June. There was no indication that the two cases are related.

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Items dumped by illegals becomes anthropological artifacts
By the University of Michigan news service

Jason De Leon, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, is collecting what has become the largest assemblage of migrant artifacts in the country. De Leon’s Undocumented Migration Project is uncovering the stories behind the thousands of shoes, backpacks, and other materials discarded in the Sonora dessert and recovered by his team since 2008.

"This is not garbage" he said. “The goal of the project is to rigorously and systematically collect data on the social phenomenon of border crossing using the lens of anthropology to provide insight into the realities of this process.”

Among the compelling items in De León’s archive are deteriorated shoes in all sizes, cheap, dirty backpacks, distended water bottles, and artifacts modified and adapted for hiding and surviving in the dessert. Similar to typical museum collections, these artifacts are organized in boxes and meticulously numbered. Some of the boxes include the most personal possessions, such as family photos, letters, and prayer cards. 

Objects left behind along trails by migrants tell “stories of hope, desperation, suffering, and sometimes death,” said De Leon, who claims the immigration history playing out along the United States’ southern border is akin to the journey across the Atlantic Ocean a century ago which brought Irish immigrants.

Although they are some of the most hotly debated political issues, immigration and the realities of border crossing are poorly understood. “Hunger, desperation, and U.S. employers who are willing to hire undocumented laborers will always provide enough incentive for people to overcome fences and other surveillance technologies,” said De Leon.

“We have never had a controlled border, and the idea that we could ever completely seal off the U.S Mexico geo-political 
Sonoran artifacts
University of Michigan photo
Jason De Leon makes a list of some of the artifacts.

boundary is a fallacy,” he said. “Our current border appears  to be controlled because migration rates have slowed in the wake of the U.S. economic crisis.”
 
Approximately one-half million immigrants attempt to cross the border in southern Arizona each year.  Of those, 90 percent are Mexican, while 10 percent come from Central and South American countries.  An estimated 200 people die each year from causes incurred during border crossing, including hyperthermia.

While De Leon has been contacted by the Smithsonian as a possible venue for the first exhibit of artifacts, he hopes the premiere exhibit will be in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City with parts of the collection eventually repatriated to Mexico.










An impressive police turnout at a small local commercial center results in a lot of officers with time on their hands.

Plenty of police
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa

Pawn shop sweep nets 11 persons but few stolen items
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública inspected 41 stores, mostly what could be called pawn shops, but all they came up with were 10 possibile stolen cell telephones, 50 pairs of sneakers and what they said were big quantities of tools.

In all police checked on 240 items and questioned 180 persons. Of those 11 were detained, but not for pawn shop activities. Six were illegal aliens and three had unrelated warrants outstanding. Two were subjects of orders to appear in court.

The center of San José is filled with pawn shops, which do a big business with cash-strapped Costa Ricans after Christmas.

But they also do business with crooks. Some are open 24 hours a day.

Some of the items confiscated were taken because the store
owners might not have paid the import duties.

The police presence was Fuerza Pública, the Grupo de Apoyo Operacional, the Unidad Canina and the Unidad de Intervención Policial. Also involved were the division of plans and operations of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública, municipal police, the Policía Fiscal, immigration agents and health officials.

The pawn shops are a vital link in thefts and home invasions. A crook might get 5,000 colons or about $10 for a cell telephone with no questions asked. The store may sell the same device for $100. Some downtown pawn shops have extensive and impressive collections of all types of cameras, including top of the line Nikons.

Police do not check the pawn shops routinely. In fact, a local television station taped police in a patrol car stopping at a 24-hour pawn shop for refreshments.

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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Policeman held
Voice of America/Mike Kornely and Juliann McKellogg
Officers frisk Philadelphia police captain

Scuffle marks gathering
of D.C. Occupy protesters

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A minor scuffle broke out between police and protesters in Washington Tuesday as hundreds of people from around the country gathered at the Capitol to draw attention to what they say is a broken political system.

As the protesters held what they call a general assembly on the Capitol grounds, police responded to a suspicious man wearing a Philadelphia police uniform. 

“Why is he being searched," asked one protester.

“Because he is wearing a police uniform," responded the policeman. "Thus, somebody wearing a police uniform would be carrying a gun.  Thus we search.”

The man wearing the police uniform is retired Philadelphia Police Capt. Ray Lewis. 

Lewis is well known in Occupy circles for his support of the movement.  He was arrested along with others at a New York Protest late last year. “Thank you for being here.  You guys all started this.  I just jumped on your coattails," said Lewis.

When police tried to move protesters from an area where they didn't have a permit, tempers flaired.

Then, police tackled two protesters who jumped a wall and tried to run past a police line.

“You are free to be here but you are required to file a permit," said a police officer.  "If you filed a permit for here, then you would have the permit for here.  But you filed a permit for over there.”

Finally the police gave in and let the protesters stay. 

A small victory for the Occupy movement during what has been a difficult winter.

arrest
Voice of America/Mike Kornely and Juliann McKellogg
Scuffle happened when protester jumped a wall


French judge seeking access
to Guantanamo over torture

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A French judge has requested permission from the United States to visit the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to investigate claims by former French inmates that they were tortured.

Judge Sophie Clement said Tuesday she wants access to all documents relating to the arrest and transfer of three Frenchmen who were held there.

The three men, Nizar Sassi, Mourad Benchellali and Khaled Ben Mustapha, were arrested in late 2001 on the Afghan-Pakistani border and transferred to Guantanamo. They were sent back to France in 2004 and 2005 and later released.

The men told the judge during questioning in France that they were subjected to violence, including torture and sexual abuse, during their detention.

The U.S. detention center at Guantanamo became a prison for suspects in the war on terror in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Supporters say the facility is vital to the war effort, while critics say allegations of harsh interrogation procedures have severely damaged America’s reputation.

Days after his January 2009 inauguration, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order to close Guantanamo within one year. But the detention center remained open after Congress blocked the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo to the U.S. for trial in civilian courts.

Many lawmakers want foreign terrorism suspects tried before military commissions, where they would not have the rights given to defendants in civilian courts.
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Latin America news
Presidential vehicle hits
and kills pedestrian

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Casa Presidencial vehicle was involved in a fatal accident Tuesday night on the Circunvalación south of San José.

Vice President Luis Liberman said that the vehicle was being driven by one of his escorts. He said he deeply regretted the death.

The mishap took place about 6:30 p.m. in San Sebastián when a pedestrian tried to cross the four-lane highway. He was dead at the scene.


Fireman say they handled
73 wind emergencies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire fighters reported that they handled 73 emergencies provoked by the high winds that have swept the country since the first of the year.

The fire fighters, the Cuerpo de Bomberos, said that they were called to 26 cases where trees fell, 20 cases where signs fell and 27 problems with electrical lines.

The agency issued some tips, like turning off the electrical power when a home is damaged by the wind. The agency also said that residents should let the local municipality know when a tree appears to be a potential wind victim.


Aerocasillas warehouse
opens in Heredia


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Deliveries from online purchases sent from the United States just got a little easier, according to the manager of a new customs warehouse in Heredia. This is the first of its kind in Costa Rica and in Central America.

Today is the grand opening of Aerocasillas customs warehouse. Purchases made online can be shipped to the warehouse and picked up or delivered to the customer.

Internet buying increased in the first trimester of 2011 in Costa Rica by 62 percent compared to the same time in 2010, according to research done by Google.







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