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(506) 223-1327        Published Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 19          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Flying saucers are no strangers to Costa Rica
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As anxious Ticos stared at silver discs in the sky Jan. 13, they were writing another page in the long history of Costa Rica's relationship with flying saucers.  Apparently, the tourist reputation of the country extends beyond Earth, as some claim that visitors from another planet may have also touched here.

In 1996 a slew of UFO sightings, or of an objeto volador no identificado, rocked the country, particularly around Quepos.

“For the past two weeks the Central American country of Costa Rica has been visited nightly by unidentified flying objects, usually described as grayish-white or silvery discs,” said UFO updates in January 1997.  That old bulletin board describes itself as a mailing list for the study of UFO related phenomena.  

Many of the contemporary reports were relatively normal as far as UFO sightings go.  They described the stereotypical disc-shaped object hovering in the sky before blasting off into outer space.  Unfortunately, the little green men who often accompany such sightings were absent from Costa Rica's reports.  Some say they must have seen the state of the nation's roads and decided to make their abductions further north.  Others say they passed unnoticed among the beachside residents.

A pilot named Jorge Arturo Meléndez Mora spotted three unidentified flying objects near his plane “reflecting in the moonlight,” the day after Christmas 1996, the bulletin board said.  Melendez described them as the size of a Boeing jet doing things that most pilots couldn't do.  He was flying along the mountaineous spine of the country.

On succeeding nights more reports of flashing lights and platillos voladores, flying plates, surfaced and air traffic controllers at Juan Santamaría international airport made radar contact with unidentified flying objects, the historical document on the bulletin board said. Local newspapers also are supposed to have carried the reports.
In 1982, things were a bit more weird.  The National UFO Reporting Center said that someone else saw a disc-shaped object over Quepos but that this one was much more animated: “We were driving on a small street with no lights.  Suddenly, a bright red light lit up the forest to our left.  The red light was bright as day and there was a large, upside down plate. We got really scared and drove off quickly,” the translated personal account said.

Several reports at Lago Cote near Arenal were even more harrowing and creepy.  Stayreality. com shows a grainy black and white picture of what is supposed to be a disc shaped object diving into the lake in 1986. 

Later, two farmers saw an object just beneath the surface of the lake with a row of three or four pipes rising out of the water.  After five or 10 minutes, the object submerged and sunk out of sight, the account said. 

And yet more weird: At Volcán Irazú,  residents have seen solid crafts enter and exit the volcano through its sides, the same Web site said, adding that researcher of the unusual Andreas Faber-Kaiser reported having gone down a tunnel which locals claim leads to a mysterious ancient shrine called the Temple of the Moon, a sacred building said to have been built thousands of years ago by an advanced race that includes some 500 underground buildings, the Web site said.  However, stayreality.com also describes a Costa Rican ancient race of half snake, half human creatures. 

Traditional archaeologists tend to discount reports of Moon Temples and snake people.

Although, the story of the ancient underground UFO launch pad in Irazú may be as hard to swallow as the snake people tale, many Costa Ricans are deeply infatuated with OVNIs and reports of sightings are just as abundant here as they are in UFO hot spots like New Mexico. 

Undoubtedly some Ticos were disappointed Jan. 13th when they learned that the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional launched a bunch of weather balloons that glittered in the afternoon sky like flying saucers.

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Policeman is missing
after chasing suspects

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An officer with the Fuerza Pública in Limón is still missing after he was swept away by the Río Banano as he tried to cross it in pursuit of suspected robbers Tuesday afternoon. 

The 27-year-old officer, Mario Molina Madrigal, responded to a call that a delivery truck with the Zeta gas company was being robbed near a bridge that crossed the river, officers said.  When Molina and another officer identified by the last name Marchena responded, they saw the robbers trying to escape along the river, officers said.  The two officers followed the bandits and Molina was swept away, officers said.

Afterwards, officers arrested three men in connection with the original robbery.  The suspects were a 21-year-old man identified by the last name Pizarro Ibarra, a 19-year-old man identified by the last names Garita Salazar and a 16-year-old Nicaraguan, police said.

The suspects matched the description provided by the victim, Dorian Madrano who said that three men had attacked him with guns and made off with his radio, his coat and 800,000 colons ($1,603) in cash. 

Rescue workers called the search off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night and continued again at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, they said.  The heavy rain that has recently fallen in the province is not making matters any easier.  Workers said that the high quantity of mud in the river is impeding the search. 

British Columbia gives
Tempisque radio towers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government of the Canadian Province of British Columbia has announced plans to donate three radio towers to the Area de Conservación Tempisque to help authorities in the area monitor it more closely. 

Authorities hope that the radio towers will help workers in the area and others communicate rapidly in the event of an emergency, said Carolina Molina of the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.  Currently, no such communication system exists.

The donation will come through the hands of the Canadian Embassy and is a part of a pilot project that will help officials decide if similar methods are needed throughout the country, Ms. Molina said.  

Crime-fighting training
given to 180 in Sarapiquí

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officers with the Fuerza Pública in Sarapiquí have enlisted the support of the community to fight crime in the canton.  180 persons from throughout Sarapiquí graduated from the Fuerza Pública's community security program.

The Programa de Seguridad Comunitaria y Comercial is beneficial to the community because it allows residents to develop a relationship with the Fuerza Pública while also making their homes more secure, said José Moisés Jiménez Briones, head of the department there. 

The program, taught by Fuerza Pública officers, gave community members preventative methods for their homes and businesses.  Officers hope that these lessons will squash crimes before they happen, police said. 

The program is not new.  Residents from 50 towns throughout the canton have received training in the last few years, police said. 

Coronado is the place
for orchids this weekend

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Orchid lovers and orchids from throughout the country will gather today in Coronado for the town's Encuentro Nacional de Orquídeas.

The object of the three-day festival is to teach those who would like to learn how to care for and admire the plants.  Costa Rica has some 1,400 species of the popular plant – which symbolizes love and beauty, according to the Asociación de Orquideólogos de Coronado.  It is the largest family of plants both in the country and the world.  The association estimates that nearly 20,000 species of the plant grow throughout the world. 

The event is organized by the association as well as the Municipalid de Vázquez de Coronado, the Ministerio de Cultura Juventud y Deportes and the Cámara de Turismo. 

A variety of orchids will be on sale but festival-goers can also pick up food, art, and dairy products from the region, among other specialties.   The festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The entrance fee is 2,000 colons, approximately $4.    

Armed diner frustrates
Santa Ana robbery try

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two youths stormed the Cebolla-Verde restaurant in Santa Ana Tuesday waving a 38-caliber revolver and threatening to rob the patrons, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. 

But they weren't ready for one of the guests to call their bluff.  He opened fire on the two men causing them to drop their gun as they hastened to run away, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.  Agents are still investigating the incident, they said. 
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 19

Quenching thirst for Superbowl requires planning
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats have  a week to stock up for Superbowl Sunday. They better because the bars and liquor stores will be closed for the presidential election that same day, Feb. 5.

Most bar owners still have not figured out what they will do to capture the crowd of thirsty football fans. Presidential elections here and the Superbowl seem to go hand-in-hand every four years.   Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans between the New England Patriots and the Saint Louis Rams also was played on a dry day here Feb. 3, 2002.

This year it is Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers who square off in Detroit, Michigan.

Costa Rican law requires that firms that sell beer and liquor close the Friday, Saturday and the Sunday of presidential elections. Places that sell liquor but also food have to seal off the cabinets where the alcohol is kept. A similar law is in effect for Semana Santa, Holy Week leading to Easter.

Hector Fernández of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones confirmed this and added that vendors of alcohol have to close their businesses when political
parties hold public demonstrations nearby. The big one is Sunday on Paseo Colón planned by the Partido
Liberación Nacional. The party presidential candidate, Óscar Arias Sánchez, is the favorite. Costa Ricans also will elect 59 deputies of the Asamblea Nacional and a host of persons to lesser offices.

The so called ley seca alcohol measure is not totally effective at election time. Bars and restaurants that cater to tourists usually have a way of serving beer, wine and other alcohol despite the general election prohibition. This is most true on the Pacific coast where even the local Fuerza Pública officers turn a blind eye to drinking by tourists.

Fernández said the law prohibiting serving alcohol during elections is an old one and applied all over the country.

The number of expats who will participate in the elections is small, according to Tribunal statistics. Only 364 U.S. citizens are eligible to vote. They are 1.1 percent of the total. These are persons who had U.S. citizenship and chose to seek Costa Rican nationality. Most are dual citizens. The election tribunal did not have figures for Canadians who have obtained citizenship here.

However, the statistics show that 33,721 persons are eligible to vote Feb. 5 after having successfully obtained Costa Rican citizenship. The majority, some 19,580 are Nicaraguans, some 58 percent of the total.

Coast guard gets a little motor power from Taiwan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The  Servicio de Guardacostas is getting new outboard motors as gifts from the government of Taiwan.

The seven motors will power four boats of the chronically ill-equipped coast guard service. The boats will be deployed in the Caribbean, Barra del Colorado in northeast Costa Rica and in the Gulfo de Nicoya, according to the Office of President Abel Pacheco.

The president participated in a ceremony Wednesday marking the delivery of the seven motors. Also present and receiving thanks was  Tzu - Dan Wu, Taiwan's ambassador here.

The value of the gift is 25 million colons or some $50,000. Included are two Yamaha 150-horse V-6 motors, two motors of 200 horses each and three motors of 85 horsepower.

Pacheco said his government has been firm in maintaining relations with the Taiwanese government despite the growth of commercial interest in the People's Republic of China.  Costa Rica also has supported Taiwan's entry into the United Nations.

Communist China considers Taiwan a breakaway province.

Pacheco also reminded his audience that Costa Rica  would begin steps to develop a free trade treaty with

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
President Abel Pacheco thanks  Tzu - Dan Wu, Taiwan's ambassador here for the gift of motors. Security minister Rogelio Ramos and translator observe.

 Taiwan. He called the gift of the motors a new act of solidarity, friendship and cooperation between the two countries. Pacheco leaves office when a new president takes over May 8.

The boats with the new motors will be used for the range of jobs facing coastguard personnel, including catching drug smugglers, patrolling beaches and completing the many domestic duties of the agency, which is part of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Nation's top cultural award will go to historian Eugenio Rodríguez Vega
By Silleny Sanabria
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The annual cultural Premio Magón will be bestowed on Eugenio Rodríguez Vega, the historian who has written and published a number of books about important figures in Costa Rica. The Magón is the nation's top cutural award.

The majority of books are of political and historical personalities like Ricardo Jiménez, José Figueres Ferrer or Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia. All of them were presidents of the nation who made important changes to the country.

He also wrote a book called “Biografia de Costa Rica,” a resume of the history of the country especially for
the foreigners who want to know more.

The prize has been given since 1962, and after that the Magon is giving every year to those people who had been writing for many years ago.  

The decision was made by five judges who made the decision last Dec. 16. The decision was announced Wednesday.

“He is a man who is distinguished as a servant of the country. He deserved to have this award many years ago,” said Guido Sáez, minister of Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

The award ceremony will be Monday at 9:30 a.m., at the Centro Nacional de Cultura.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 19

protest for pay

Frank Muelles Alvarado let his opinion be heard as Limón dockworkers protested Wednesday at Casa Presidencial. About 100 persons joined him asking the government for money they say is owed since 1995.

The union member worked 33 years on the Atlantic docks. Workers complain that an agreement 10 years ago provided $1 a ton payments to workers at the busy ports. But they have not seen the money, he said.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

Mexican military may have aided drug smugglers
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An alleged incursion into the United States by Mexican soldiers guarding a drug shipment is helping stir debate over security on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Border security advocates in the United States are expressing outrage over what they say was an incursion by armed Mexican troops into U.S. territory. But Mexican government officials deny any such event took place and suggest that drug traffickers may have donned army uniforms to carry out a smuggling operation.

The alleged incident occurred in a remote area of west Texas, about 100 kilometers (67 miles) east of El Paso. Deputies from the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department pursued three cars that they suspected were being used for drug smuggling. Before they reached the Rio Grande River, which serves as the border there, the deputies seized one vehicle, which contained 560 kilograms of marijuana. One car made it across the border to Mexico, but another vehicle became stuck in the river.

Then men dressed in military uniforms appeared on the scene with what the Texas lawmen describe as a military-style Humvee with a mounted machine gun. These uniformed men removed what the lawmen believe was a drug shipment from the stalled vehicle and then set it on fire.

The incident was caught on police cameras.

Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, said he is certain these were Mexican soldiers. "There is no doubt in my mind it is Mexican military, and it has been that way for years," he said.
Officials here in Texas have expressed concern that such incidents could result in a gun battle between U.S. lawmen and Mexican troops. Sheriff West says that is already part of the border reality. "It is not a matter of if it happens, it has already happened. It is a matter of getting somebody killed," he said.

Sheriff West says there have been dozens of incidents involving Mexican military incursions on the border and that in a few cases U.S. Border Patrol agents have been wounded. Michael Chertoff, Department of Homeland Security secretary, said most reports of such incidents have been, as he put it, "overblown."

Sheriff West and Border Patrol union officials, however, say these incidents are all too real and that the situation could grow worse if nothing is done.

Sheriff West is not too sure the security fence called for under a recently approved bill in Congress would do much good, but he does think more law enforcement personnel on the border would help. "What would be effective is, one, put more Border Patrol agents down here and two, give us the means to hire more personnel to put down there to assist the Border Patrol as we are doing with Operation Linebacker through the Texas Sheriff coalition at present date," he said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, is investigating the incident in Hudspeth County and has also asked the Mexican government for a thorough investigation. Texas Governor Rick Perry has also ordered an investigation, saying that it does not matter if the armed men who crossed the border were Mexican soldiers or people dressed as soldiers. He says, either way, what happened is unacceptable.

Cubans begin construction work to block view of rights messages
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuban workers have begun a construction project directly in front of the building housing the electronic ticker streams human rights messages across the facade of the U.S. diplomatic office in Havana, a day after massive anti-U.S. protests on the site.

U.S. diplomats said the aim is to block the view of an electronic ticker that streams human rights messages across the facade of the building. The messages
include passages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and quotations from human rights
leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cuban workers told reporters Wednesday they are enlarging the so-called Anti-Imperialist Plaza in front of the U.S. Interests Office. The plaza includes a stage often used for political events.

In an address to hundreds of thousands of protesters Tuesday, Cuban president Fidel Castro accused President George Bush of seeking to inflame tensions between the United States and Cuba. Some press reports said a million persons marched in the Tuesday protest.

Jo Stuart
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