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These stories were published Thursday, Jan. 27, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 19
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Lawmaker tries to rein in street wolves
By Clair-Marie Robertson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The law against men who make lewd gestures or remarks to women in the street needs to be more severe. This is according to Gloria Valerín Rodríguez, a legislative deputy  of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana.

This week Ms. Valerín will present a request to reinforce Section 385 of the Codigo Penal. The law punishes those who make offensive remarks to women. 

The existing law says that the offender should get a 30-day community service punishment or be fined. Ms. Valerín will ask that the punishment be increased to 50-days community service and fines. Ms. Valerin said that verbal abuse is a type of sexual violence and can cause psychological damage to women. 

Mario Solano Fernández of the department of statistics at the Judicial Investigating Organization said that in 2003 and 2004, 3,295 cases were brought to court. "It is up to the judges whether they want to give them a fine or put them to work," Solano said.

Solano said that the judge decides on the severity of the obscenity and fines are determined by the daily rate. A one-day fine can be as much as $110, with some judges handing out the maximum penalty of a 30-day fine which is $3,300. 

Solano said that he saw the law as very 

difficult to enforce with the Fuerza Pública being responsible for collecting witness testimonies and submitting initial information for a case that is going to trial.

What men say to women on the street can range from the flowery and flattering, called piropos, to the outright obscene. 

A Gringo guide to tasteful flattery lingo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Is she pretty enough to risk 30-days community service or a fine? If so, here are some flattering comments, or piropos, that can be directed at women in Costa Rica.

The Spanish word for mother figures in a lot in the following:

Mamacita

Mami, Mami

Ay, Mamita

Mamasota

Mami Chula

Rica Mami

Others incude:

Sabrosa - Tasty

Batidora - A blender!

Tronadora- taken from bang snaps, you are so good looking that they are going to explode. 

Rompe hogares - Home breaker

Sos como un kronchy: rica y deliciosa
You’re like a Crunch (candy bar), rich and delicious

Estas como un pescado en la sarten: ssssssssssss 
Your like a fish in a pan: sssssssss (simualates sizzling noise)

Quisiera ser una lágrima para nacer en tus ojos, recorrer tus mejillas y morir en tu boca.
I want to be a tear, to be born in your eyes, run along your dimples and die in your mouth

Me gusta la Fanta, me gusta la Coca, pero mas me gusta el beso de tu boca. 
I like Fanta, I like Coke, but most of all I like the kiss of your lips.

Te dolió, si a ti te dolió? cuando caiste del cielo como un angel enviado para mi. 
Did it hurt, when you fell out of the sky as an angel sent to me.

Debes estar mareada, por que has estado dando vueltas en mi cabeza todo el dia. 
You should feel dizzy because you've been running around my head all day. 

Many more are available on the Web.

 
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Our readers write

Rental vehicle costs
near market limit

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I read with interest the article (Jan 26) about the suspension of tax waivers for tourist industries including rental car companies. 

As a long-time and frequent visitor, I was under the impression that the extraordinarily high daily rate for rental cars in Costa Rica was, in fact, due to import duties on new cars every three years. 

The cost of rental cars in Costa Rica, excluding mandatory insurance, is one of the highest I've experienced anywhere in the Western world. If rates continue to escalate beyond what the market will bear, I fear the tourist industry will experience some financial repercussions. 

Jeff Blume 
Ventura, Calif.
 
Implant device sends
signals from its carrier

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I read Wednesday morning in your outstanding daily ezine that the U.S. Office of Homeland Security will be "testing" a radio device to speed the process through the U.S.A. borders. The article falls short in telling what is really happening. The primary concern here is that if you have a radio device you must have a transmission device. And where do you suppose the transmitter is? Well, it's either implanted in your body or it's imbedded in your identification.

For some years now a Florida company called VeriChip Corporation, a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions, has been marketing a device called The Digital Angel. This device is generally injected into the subdermal layer of human (or animal) skin where it receives it's electrical power from the living body. 

This device has a unique identifying number and when the person walks into an airport and for that matter passes any of the radio receivers that will be placed around the world, the Homeland Security people know who is where and when!

Here is a picture of an older version. I understand the current versions are about one tenth this size.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Rather than publishing a photo, we direct readers to the VeriChip Web page where several photos are provided, including one showing a dime-size implant.]

I wonder if the real terrorists are going to line up and get their RFID Digital Angel device implanted too. Or will it be only the good God-fearing citizenry who receives the device.

Oh yes. There is one more aspect to this very scary scenario. All radio transmitters also RECEIVE! which means that homeland security or whoever knows the frequency of transmission can send signals into the human body...

The Digital Angel has been getting lots of press lately. There is a VIP club in Spain that gives a discount to regular clients who get the implant. It is used to ID the patrons and auto bill them for services.

Part of the USA Patriot 2 bill requires that sometime in 2006 all identification in the U.S.A will conform to their specifications which may mean RFID. Also, it means that all people in the U.S.A. will have to carry this new ID with them whenever they leave the house or face arrest and jail without charge for as long as the government decides to keep you.

I recommend doing a Google on some of the keywords on this story to learn for yourself just how big brother this whole story is. We are so 1984 today that it is spooky.

One more thing. It seems that England is lock step with the U.S.A. on this.

Bob Jones
Tilaran, Costa Rica
 
Massage parlor raided
in downtown’s center

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry’s sex squad raided a massage parlor Tuesday night and arrested two Costa Ricans for investigation of pimping.

The massage parlor is near the Iglesia de La Soledad on Calle 9 and Avenida 4 in the downtown. A spokesman for the Unidad Contra la Explotación Sexual said that those arrested were identified by the last names and ages of Rodríguez, 39, and Gómez, 37.

Investigators found three presumed clients in the massage parlor and an equal number of young male employees, they said. Customers were German, Lebanese and French, they said.

Also raided was a dwelling in Guadalupe de Goicoechea where possible evidence was confiscated.

The spokesman said the allegation is that sexual service was provided for 10,000 colons, some $21.75, of which  5,500 colons was kept by the operators. Pimping is against the law in Costa Rica.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública has been raiding similar establishments as part of a crackdown on possible exploitation of minors.
 

U.S. fugitive caught here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Immigration officers arrested a 44-year-old U.S. citizen who is wanted in the United States, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The man, identified as Spencer Golden, was arrested at a place of business in downtown San José officials said. Agents of the International Police Agency (INTERPOL) confirmed a U.S. detention request listed the man but gave no further details, the spokesman said.

The man lives in the La Sabana area and arrived in Costa Rica in 2002, officials said. The Direction General de Migración y Extranjería is investigating the man’s legal status here.

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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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Smaller quakes remind media of Nicoya prediction
By Joe Medici
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Every time the ground shakes, journalists rush to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico to see if the Nicoya Peninsula is still there, according to the director of the observatory, Marino Protti Quesada. 

After the two quakes on Monday, the local media sensationalized reports about a potential quake in the Nicoya Penninsula. According to Protti Quesada, the reports are taken out of context.

"Every time there is an earthquake, people come rushing to the observatory to find out about Nicoya," Protti Quesada said during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. "The area has the potential for a large quake, but no one could really predict when it might happen."

According to Protti Quesada, a large seismic gap exists underneath the Nicoya Peninsula. The gap is where the Cocos plate to the west and the Caribe plate to the east meet. The juncture of these two plates creates the potential for a large earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 or higher. 

After the two quakes on Monday, and the larger one in November, reporters gathered around the observatory to find out about how they might have affected Nicoya, Protti Quesada said. "Those quakes were not even associated with the Nicoya gap," he explained.

"We originally published information about the probability of a quake in Nicoya in the mid 90s, but the media rushes here every time the ground shakes," Protti Quesada said. "Each segment in the world has 

U.S. Geological Survey
Fault lines in Guanacaste are pictured in black or blue. The purple line is the offshore Pacific trench marking the top of the juncture of the Caribe and Cocos plates.

patterns. The Nicoya pattern lasts for about 40 years before things have to reset with a quake," he said. According to the observatory’s data, the last major quake in the area was in 1950. 

Big quakes have hit the peninsula in 1853, 1900 and 1950. Protti Quesada and his colleagues have estimated a period of recurrence of from 48 to 50.7 years with standard deviations of from 2 to 4 years.


 
State bank ATMs are gobbling up credit cards, cash
By Clair-Marie Robertson 
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

ATM machines from Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica are swallowing cash cards in San José, debiting customers accounts and not dispensing the money. Jose Francisco Araya Murillo, head of public relations at Banco Nacional, said that ATM machines are swallowing cards because of a fault in telephone communication lines.

At the ATM of Banco Nacional at Paseo Colon Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. three persons attempted to withdraw money from their accounts. All three customers lost their card to the machines and did not receive the cash they requested.  Juan Gómez Murillo a person who was waiting to withdraw  money said, "I tried to take out some money but the machine swallowed my card, and my balance is lower, but I never got any money." 

An employee from Customer Services at Banco Nacional said that they were not aware that there was a problem with that machine although other ATMs have been reported to have the same technical difficulties. 

Affected ATM machines included Banco Nacional opposite Hospital San Juan de Dios, in Paseo Colon, and at Banco de Costa Rica and Banco Nacional next to the Asamblea Legislativa. 
 

Defensoria wants study
of fees charged by banks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation’s ombudsman wants a study done of the fees the public banks of Costa Rica charge their customers. The Defensoria de los Habitantes asked the Ministerio 

A.M. Costa Rica/Clair-Marie Robertson
Customers wait to play ATM roulette near the Asamblea Legislativa Wednesday.

de Economia, Industria and Commercio to develop a comparative study of charges relating to ATM withdrawals, balance checks and insufficient fund fines.

The Defensoria has also asked the ministry to find out if the private banks in Costa Rica are informing their customers about charges according to Law 7473. This law requires that all private banks make public all commission-based charges. 

The Defensoria said that this request has been made because of the amount of complaints the agency has received regarding the lack of information provided for such charges. A press release from the Defensoria also said that the fees charged were too high. 

The Defensoria said that its staff is concerned that this sort of study does not exist. A study should be put together as soon as possible so that customers are able to choose the best banking option, the release  said. 


 
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Television journalist turns down investigative award
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The codirector of Telenoticias on Channel 7 Wednesday turned down a national award for journalism.

The award was in one of 19 categories announced by the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes at a morning press conference.

The news presenter is Pilar Cisneros Gallo, who was named as the recipient of the Premio Pío Víquez for her work in uncovering corruption scandals involving three ex-presidents, two of whom are now in prison.

But in an interview Ms. Cisneros said she was declining the award because she has not accepted journalism awards for many years. She also said that her reward in uncovering and delivering news stories was the faith and trust that the viewing audience puts in her.

Later in a commentary during the Teletica Telenoticias 7 p.m. news show, Ms. Cisneros said that she was 

declining the award because she was only one of a number of persons involved in the investigation of the scandals.

The selection had been made by a panel of judges assembled by the ministry. A number of newspeople worldwide maintain a tradition of declining awards that are not awarded by journalism groups. A number of organizations attempt to curry favor with newspeople by presenting awards and plaques.

There was no response from the ministry about the statement by Ms. Cisneros. The other awards will be presented May 9 in a ceremony at the Teatro Nacional. The bulk are in literature, theater, dance, sculpture and music.

However, the Premio Nacional al Mérito Civil went to Kattia Brenes Martínez, who donated one of her kidneys to an ailing Carlos Sánchez. 

No award was made for technology. 


 
U.S. says other nations should pressure Chavez  on relation with rebels
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. State Department statement released Wednesday said Latin American countries should press Venezuela to end any relationship it might have with left-wing rebels in Colombia. Colombia and Venezuela have been in a diplomatic standoff over the abduction from Venezuela last month of a leader of the Colombian rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The State Department says the United States is asking Latin American countries to urge Venezuela to adopt what it terms a "more conciliatory and constructive position" and to end any relationship it may have with the armed revolutionary group or other terrorist organizations.

The comments here come amid a diplomatic crisis between Colombia and Venezuela over the abduction in December of a leader of the revolutionary force, who had been living in Venezuela.

The seizure of the rebel leader, Rodrigo Granda, was reportedly staged by Colombian agents with the unauthorized cooperation of Venezuelan police.

Venezuela has accused Colombia of violating its sovereignty in what it says was a kidnapping, while 

Colombia says the capture was a legitimate part of its war against the rebels.

The Bush administration has been a persistent critic of the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez and at a news briefing, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher sided with Colombia in the Granda case.

He said administration officials certainly do not think that members of the revolutionary group, which the United States has officially designated a terrorist group, should be allowed to "roam around" in neighboring countries "with seeming impunity:"

"We think everybody in the Hemisphere should be concerned about this, should encourage Venezuela to adopt a non-confrontational approach, should encourage them to insure that there is no support whatsoever coming from Venezuela for terrorist groups that are operating in Colombia, and thereby to have a basis for working out their differences with Colombia in an amicable fashion," Boucher said.

Boucher said the United States has raised the matter with other hemisphere countries including Brazil, and appreciates Brazilian efforts to "constructively engage" both Chavez and President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia on resolving the dispute.


 
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