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(506) 2223-1327               Published Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 17       E-mail us
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Another U.S. custody battle ends up in court here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another U.S. child custody case is playing itself out in a Costa Rican court, and this one has some twists.

A court session Monday was suspended for a judge to await additional documents, but the father, Roy Koyama of Springfield, Missouri, reported that he finally received the right to see his child.

The situation developed when Koyama's girlfriend, also a U.S. citizen, left him last Feb. 2 and came to Costa Rica. The case has been aired by both parties on various social networks and local television stations in the U.S. state. Both are seeking donations to support their legal efforts, and both have Web pages promoting their points of view.

The girlfriend, Trina Atwell Chavarria, said she took the baby, Emily Alina Koyama, then 7 months, because her boyfriend was abusive. She said on a Web site: "We came to Costa Rica for safety. I had tried before to get away from Roy, but he always found me, and always talked me back. But when the abuse became more then emotional, verbal and patrimonial, when it started becoming physical and sexual abuse I knew I had to run."

Koyama obtained sole custody of the baby, but the mother, who was in Costa Rica at the time, says she never was served with legal papers. The case is being played out based on an international child abduction treaty that has not been enforced strictly by Costa Rican officials. Koyama is seeking the baby and the possible extradition of his former girlfriend.

Koyama said that he met the woman who later had his baby on Myspace. After a whirlwind romance, she moved into his home and then announced that she was pregnant, he said.

Koyama's name is on the birth certificate as the father, but a complicating factor is that the woman may still be married to a Costa Rican man and parentage might be adjudicated here under local law. Ms. Atwell has a sister living here.

In Missouri it is a local prosecutor who is seeking Ms. Atwell's return as a felony violator.

At the very least, the case points out the complexities involved in a woman fleeing with her child out of a U.S. jurisdiction. Costa Rica
Roy Koyama, his son and baby
Roy Koyama and a son with baby Emily Alina in this photo posted to his Web site.

Ms. Atwell's page
Ms. Atwell's page gives another story.

has seen at least five such cases in the last several years.

In one case, a woman who avoided U.S. authorities for years received refugee status to protect her from the U.S. Justice Department and prison.

Ms. Atwell did not appear in a Springfield court, so she has little official evidence to present about Koyama's alleged abusiveness.

Koyama, who has three other children at home, said that he expected to be able to be reunited with the baby and bring her back to the United States in a few weeks.  Ms. Atwell told a Missouri television station that the hearing was suspended until Feb. 4.

Koyama presents his case on the Web site www.emilyscase.com and on YouTube. Ms. Atwell has her say on "Keep Emily Safe in Costa Rica," a Facebook posting.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 17

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


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Emir and Arias
Casa Presidential photo 
 The emir and Óscar Arias shake hands while the emir's  
 principal wife, Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Misnned watches.

Costa Rica will install
embassy in gulf state

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will open an embassy in Qatar, and that country will do the same here. That was the concrete development from a meeting Monday between President Óscar Arias Sánchez and the leader of the Persian Gulf state who is visiting in Papagayo.

The visitor is Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who heads the oil-rich nation.  The Costa Rican embassy will be based in the capital of Dohar, said Casa Presidencial.

Arias called the decision a window to the Arab world. In addition he said that a minister from Qatar will head a delegation to Costa Rica to study the possibility of investments here.

The two men also signed an agreement that protects those who make investments in the other country. Among other aspects the agreement calls for international arbitration of disputes and allows investors to freely transmit their money to the home country.

Women's Club will mark
70 years of service here


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Women’s Club of Costa Rica, one of the oldest, continuously-operating service organizations in the country, will celebrate its 70 years at a luncheon Feb. 10 at the Aurola Holiday Inn. A specially-produced documentary will chronicle seven decades of the club’s good times and good works, the organization said.

The club gave this summary of its history:

Through 19 administrations, from Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia to Óscar Arias Sánchez, the Women’s Club has grown and served.  What began as a small social club quickly turned to more serious projects with the advent of World War II, helping to establish first aid stations and air raid shelters.  The stories are legend as we view seven decades of dedication and contribution well in excess of a half million dollars to hospital equipment, nursing grants, rehabilitation centers, scholarships, library programs and much more. 

Two of the Women’s Club’s proudest achievements were in 1980, raising $50,000 to bring the first mammogram to the country, and in 2000, sponsoring production of an award-winning radio novela on the subject of domestic abuse which since has been aired in 25 countries.

The Women’s Club boasts a membership of 250 women, from 20-somethings to age 95. The English-speaking women hail from all corners of the globe: Central and South America, North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.  The club is a virtual melting pot of nations, all drawn together by the motto of "Friendship Through Service."   

Nor have men been forgotten.  The year 2009 saw initiation of an auxiliary group called Amigos Asociados to recognize and thank those men who provide substantial support year-round to the club’s fund-raising endeavors.  

The public and members are welcome to join in the celebratory luncheon to be held at 11 a.m.  Feb. 10, on the 17th floor in the Salón Augusto el Grande of the hotel which is at Calle 5 and Avenida 5, in San José.   Advance purchase of tickets, at ¢10,000 each, are required from 2268-3748 or 2249-2345.

Monthly meetings of the Women’s Club of Costa Rica, with guest speakers, are held the second Wednesday of each month.  Further information can be found at www.wccr.org

Phone and Internet work planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Telephone and broadband Internet customers will be facing interruptions in Zapote and San Pedro through Wednesday, said the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. The telecom company said its technicians would be working from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The company said that the work would improve service.

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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.

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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.

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 17

   
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.


New highway
Autopista del Sol graphic
Red line of new Autopista del Sol contrasts with the old route printed in blue.
Time to find a good excuse for a trip to the Pacific coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Everyone is going to want to take a trip on the new Autopista del Sol that will be inaugurated by central government officials Wednesday.

The trip from La Sabana to Caldera will cost 1,930 colons for a passenger car. A motorist will face four toll stations: Escazú, Alajuela, Atenas and Orotina. There also are toll stations at several exits.

The opening of the highway is not without controversy.  Residents of Santa Ana are unhappy, and Ciudad Colón residents protested so much that a toll station there is temporarily out of service. The Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y de Arquitectos de Costa Rica is unhappy because its leadership thinks that the concession holders for the highway owe them millions of colons in fees.

This is the highway that has been nearly 40 years in the making. It is designed to cut about an hour off a car trip to the Pacific. The bridges have been in place for more than four years, but the central government finally got a concession approved so that a private company would front the money and then collect the tolls.
This also is the road where designers made no provisions for emergency vehicles, and ambulances with lights flashing and siren wailing had to wait in line at toll booths. A subsequent Sala IV constitutional case resulted in an order for the concession holder to set up emergency lanes for fire vehicles, police and ambulances.

The highway is mostly two-lane with some passing lanes.

The prediction of a swift trip over the new 77 kms (48 miles) might be optimistic, particularly if some slow-moving trucks are in the way.

Developers and tourism operators are counting on the new highway to be a boon to their industries. The highway works in the other direction, too, so Pacific coast residents will have a quicker access to the Central Valley for shopping and government and entertainment activities.

And the new route is a magnet for Sunday drivers who will just want to see the countryside. The highway has been completed sooner than expected. But President Óscar Arias Sánchez appears to want to officially open the highway before voters decide the future of his former vice president. So some last-minute work still is to be done.


Two police officers detained for holding man against his will
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dirty Harry is not welcome in Costa Rica.

Two police officers who are suspected of taking the law into their own hands have been detained on a charge of depriving a man of his liberty.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the police officers, a man and a woman, are accused of going to the
victim's home, tying him up and then shoving a pistol in his face to demand the return of items they believed he had stolen.

This happened at the end of December while the two suspects were on their day off, said investigators. They are assigned to Orotina-Atenas.

The man was carried off in a private car but rescued by other policemen who came to the scene, said investigators.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 17


Hyatt will manage new 150-room hotel in Papagayo

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Hotelera Playa Sombrero S.A., a Costa Rican development company, announced today that a Hyatt subsidiary and Hotelera Playa Sombrero have signed a management agreement for the 150-room Andaz Papagayo. Slated to open in 2013, the new Andaz hotel will be located in the Papagayo Península.

This 2,223-acre master planned development will represent the first resort location for Hyatt’s new Andaz brand and represents its initial foray into Latin America.

Andaz Papagayo will join Andaz Liverpool Street, which opened in November 2007, Andaz West Hollywood, which opened in January 2009, Andaz Wall Street, which opened in January 2010, as well as Andaz 5th Avenue and Andaz San Diego, both of which are set to open in 2010.

Situated on a 28-acre parcel of oceanfront, adjacent to Marina Papagayo, Andaz Papagayo will feature a variety of amenities including two restaurants, a beach club, spa,
and fitness center. The newly opened Marina Papagayo offers 180 slips and a full menu of boating services catered primarily to the yachting community. Additionally, guests will have access to many of the leisure amenities on Península Papagayo, including an 18-hole Arnold Palmer championship golf course, and the opportunity to pursue sport fishing.

“Hyatt’s global reputation for excellence, the promise of the Andaz brand and the opportunity to become part of the exclusive Península Papagayo community influenced our decision to move forward with Hyatt on this project,” said Maurice Chartier, director of hotel development of Hotelera Playa Sombrero S.A.

Hotelera Playa Sombrero S.A. is a part of a group of entities administered and directed by Grupo Cuestamoras. Based in Costa Rica, Cuestamoras manages extensive commercial, real estate and retail investments in Central America, including the controlling interest in two prime hotels in Costa Rica, one a 299-room full service business hotel and the other a 201-room resort hotel.



New Praxair air separation plant goes into service

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Praxair, Inc., has begun operations at a new air separation plant in Costa Rica. In addition to meeting increasing demand for oxygen, nitrogen and argon from industrial and medical customers in Costa Rica, the new facility positions Praxair to supply distributors in Panamá as well as the Caribbean market, the company said.

“Praxair is committed to providing our customers in Central America with the best products and the latest technologies that will aid their continued growth and competitiveness as well as the country’s general economic development,” said Christian Sauter, general manager of Praxair Costa Rica.

Praxair is the leading industrial gases company in Costa
Rica, supplying oxygen, nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide to a variety of industrial and medical customers. It also operates a carbon dioxide plant and an acetylene and packaged gases facility in the country. Offices are on Avenida 16 between Calles 4 and 6.

Praxair, Inc. is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and one of the largest worldwide, with 2008 sales of $10.8 billion. The company produces, sells and distributes atmospheric, process and specialty gases, and high-performance surface coatings.

Praxair products, services and technologies bring productivity and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and others.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 17

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Scientists seeking Haiti data
and worry about new quake


By the National Science Foundation

A team is returning to Haiti this week to investigate the cause of the Jan. 12, magnitude 7 earthquake there with concerns that a bigger quake might be coming.

The geologists will collect crucial data to assess whether the quake could trigger another major event to the east or west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital.

Eric Calais, a Purdue University geophysicist leading the team, said that most aftershocks occur within weeks of the initial quake and that the team urgently needs to get to the site to make a detailed assessment before crucial geological information disappears.

"The big question is instead of small aftershocks, could there be a bigger earthquake coming," Calais said. "There are many historical examples of an initial earthquake triggering an even larger one along the same or nearby faults. We are concerned for the Dominican Republic, as our preliminary models show that the continuation of the fault in this area is loaded."

The Jan. 12 quake killed an estimated 200,000 people in Haiti, left 250,000 injured and left 1.5 million homeless. Port-au-Prince experienced a magnitude 6 aftershock Jan. 20.

"The GPS and geological data gathered by this team will provide important insights into the cause of the January 12, 2010, Haitian earthquake," said Tim Killeen, National Science Foundation assistant director for geosciences, "and are essential for evaluating the potential for future earthquakes in the Port-au-Prince area."

The Haitian Bureau of Mines and Energy and the Civil Protection Agency invited Calais and his team back to the country to examine the fault and advise officials as they prepare to rebuild.

"The government needs scientifically informed advice to decide what to do now and in the future when they start thinking about rebuilding," Calais said.

"We know how to do the calculations that will tell us if the likelihood of other earthquakes along the fault has increased, but we need information that we can only get by going to the field, making direct observations, and taking measurements on the ground."

Calais' research team has been tracking the build-up of energy along the Enriquillo and Septentrional faults on the island of Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic, using Global Positioning System technology.

The team has studied the area for five years using 100 GPS markers. In 2008, the researchers reported the potential for a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Haiti and a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in the Dominican Republic.

The National Science Foundation has awarded the team a new grant to find and map the area of the fault that ruptured, resurvey the existing GPS markers, and install 10 new continuous GPS sites to monitor the changes that will occur in the years to come as earth's crust readjusts.

Precise measurements of underground movement are critical for validating models of stress changes that can indicate the potential for, and possible magnitude of, future earthquakes, Calais said.

"The shifting stresses in the earth's crust after a major earthquake can act to effectively clamp or unclamp other faults. If a fault is almost ready to go and the change in stress slightly unclamps it, then it may fail and cause an earthquake," he said.

"We think this is what's causing the current sequence of aftershocks, which is mostly concentrated at the western end of the epicentral area, including the recent magnitude 6 aftershock."
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 17


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New press freedom group
targets misuse of law


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Leading journalists and media lawyers will meet in New York today to discuss ways of fighting legal threats to press freedom around the world.

The meeting will form part of the launch in the U.S.A. of a new international body to fight oppression of the media wherever it occurs, the London-based Media Legal Defence Initiative. While there are many bodies already working in the media freedom field, the Initiative is dedicated to supporting journalists and media organisations facing unjustified court action, it said in a release. 

"There is nothing new about clamping down on free expression, but governments today are increasingly making use of the courts to frighten and silence their critics, while powerful private interests are turning to the civil and even criminal law for the same reason.  Every day brings news of a reporter somewhere who is arrested or a newspaper sued simply for doing their professional duty," said the organization's executive director, Gugulethu Moyo.

"In such cases we will pay for defense lawyers and provide other support to face down legal intimidation."

The discussion panel will be led by Floyd Abrams, one of the most respected advocates of media freedom in the world and a patron of the new body, who said:  "Lamentably, law, itself, is being misused as a tool to silence the press by those who seek to avoid its scrutiny. The need to confront this legal oppression is great and global. The MLDI has a crucial role to play in assisting the defence of press freedom in the courts."

The other members of the panel are David McCraw, head of freedom-of-information litigation for The New York Times, Karinna Moskalenko, a leading human rights lawyer in Russia, Mark Stephens, a British lawyer currently campaigning for reform of the UK's libel laws, Harry Roque, a Philippines law professor and prominent defender of press freedom, and Ndey Tapha Sosseh, president of the Gambian Press Union.

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