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(506) 2223-1327               Published Friday, Jan. 29, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 20       E-mail us
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New Heredia hospital
Casa Presidencial photo
New hospital becomes a landmark for Heredia residents
Arias tours his most favored public work in Heredia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez inaugurated the new Hospital de Heredia Thursday. It's traditional for presidents at the end of their term to cut a lot of ribbons and take credit for public works. In this case, Arias has a legitimate claim.

Local officials and lawmakers credit Arias for pushing through the work on the hospital during his presidential term.

The $85 million structure replaces the 117-year-old Hospital San Vicente de Paúl, which is obsolete.

Arias in his talk acknowledged that he has been occupied with cutting ribbons. He inaugurated the San José-Caldera autopista Wednesday and has a date today to do the same at bridges on the Costanera Sur Pacific highway. However, he said that no public work is as close to his heart as the hospital.

This is the land that saw me grow up, the land that taught me the base of everything I know," said Arias.  "And the old hospital taught me something that I could never forget: the value of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social," he said.

The Caja will run the hospital.
Casa Presidencial reported that the work is 98 percent complete and that the entire job will be finished in three months. During that time there will be a complete inspection of the infrastructure and the installed equipment by specialists, architects and engineers, Casa Presidencial said.

When a new Caja hospital opened in Alajuela complaints quickly rose to the level of legal action. The contractor agreed to make substantial repairs.

Arias noted that he promised a new hospital for Heredia when he ran for office and that he has delivered. It is "a dream made real for a people who deserve this and much more," he said. As part of the ceremony, Arias toured the facility. A public opening is being planned for May 28, but Arias leaves office earlier that month. That also will be the day that the Caja assumes control and responsibility for the facility.

Arias noted that Heredia residents have been waiting 30 years for a new hospital.

The new facility is 400 meters south of the existing hospital on 11 hectares (27 acres). The five-story complex has 36,000 square meters of space (387,500 square feet). The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social is the agency that runs the nation's mostly free health services.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 20

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

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Professional Directory
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.


Legal services

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4401-6/9/09v
narcotics arrest
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública
Suspect in Filadelfia is handcuffed on the ground.

Small-time drug arrests
seem to be daily routine

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is no end to the number of small time drug dealers. Nearly every day the Policía de Control de Drogas or the Judicial Investigating Organization make one or more arrests.

Thursday judicial agents detained a man in Barrio Bambú in Filadelfia, Guanacaste. The 34-year-old man had two pistols in his home when agents made the raid.

They said they found 94 crack rocks, seven packets of cocaine, each weighing 25 grams, and colons and dollars.

Sunday the Policía de Control de Drogas detained a 64-year-old man in la Rita de Pococí, Limón. Confiscated were 43 doses of suspected crack cocaine.

Tuesday, the Policía de Control de Drogas detained members of a family in Villa Bonita de Alajuela. They said this was the third "narcofamilia" whose business they had interrupted in a week. The two previous cases were in Isla de Moravia, San José, and in Siquirres de Limón.

Also Tuesday the Fuerza Pública in Heredia detained a man officers identified as a distributor in La Cuenca, Guararí. He had what officers said were 190 doses of crack and 46 doses of marijuana.

Also Sunday the anti-drug police detained a 47-year-old Costa Rican at Juan Santamaría airport and said he was transporting four kilos of cocaine.

Fingerprinting site added
for immigration and weapons


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The demand for fingerprints has become so great that the security ministry is designating a second office to handle the load.

The new office is in San Pedro 400 meters south of the Fuente de La Hispanidad, the big fountain in front of Mall San Pedro. It is called the Oficina de Seguridad Privada.

The hours here and at the central offices of the ministry in San José will be from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., said ministry officials.

Fingerprinting is essential for weapons permit applications and for those seeking the various types of residency here.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública usually submits the fingerprints to international agencies to check for possible criminal records.

Some Ticos still stuck
at famed Peruvian site


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four Costa Ricans still were at Macchu Picchu Thursday, but nine had been removed from the tourist attraction by Peruvian government helicopters, according to the Costa Rican Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

The Costa Ricans, all tourists, were cut off at the site by heavy rains that drenched the area and prevented surface transportation. They had been trapped since Sunday along with tourists from many other nations.

More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in Perú as a result of heavy rains and flooding.

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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.

Newspages
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.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

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

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

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A.M.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 20

   
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.

Liberia's mayor arrested for failure to act on flooding
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained the mayor of Liberia Thursday morning, and prosecutors quickly asked a judge that he be removed from his job.

The mayor, Carlos Marín Muñoz, is facing five criminal allegations. Three of them are that he did not do his duty as mayor. These allegations related to an order by the Sala IV constitutional court and one by the Ministerio de Salud. The constitutional court in June 2009 issued a decision that related to flooding in Barrio La Cruz, and the mayor was ordered to take remedial action.

The health ministry issued an order related to Barrio San Miguel, which suffered flooding last year.

The Poder Judicial confirmed the arrest. It said that the fiscalia adjunta in Liberia, the regional prosecutor, was seeking restrictions against the mayor at the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda, an agency of the Segundo Circuito Judicial
de San José. The restrictions are that the mayor be removed from his job for six months, that he be prohibited from leaving the country and that he be forbidden to approach witnesses in the cases. There was no report later Thursday on what the court decided.

The Poder Judicial said that the cases extend back to 2007. There also are two allegations of disobedience to authority.

Public officials can face criminal sanctions if they do not comply with orders of the Sala IV constitutional court, as well as some lower courts. Nearly all Sala IV decisions relating to official actions spell out in detail the responsibility of public employees to comply with the orders and cite the various penalties that can be assessed against someone who does not heed what the court says. Prison is a possibility.

The Poder Judicial also said that the investigation also included the purchase of an asphalt machine that appears not to comply with specifications in the bidding process.


A column by any other name would still read as well
At least once a year since I have been writing this column, I wish the heading were something other than “Living in Costa Rica.”  It is such a nebulous title.

Soon after I said yes when Jay Brodell asked me to write a column for his online publication A.M. Costa Rica, we were walking near the Centro Cultural.  Jay had his camera and said, “We should probably have a picture of you.”  So I sat on the low stone wall near the centro and he snapped the one that has been on my column since. 

Then he said “We need a title.” 

The headline of an earlier column of mine was “I’ll take the City.”  I obviously could not use that.  Both of us, at a loss for any clever ideas, decided on the vague and yet limiting (to my mind) “Living in Costa Rica.”  Today I have been thinking maybe “Gringa in Costa Rica”or “Expat in Costa Rica.”  Both would better describe my point of view and the range of my interests, which are not always confined to Costa Rica.

“What’s on My Mind” would probably be the most accurate.

One of the reasons I want to change the name is that every time I get an e-mail from a reader telling me to stick to the subject of Costa Rica, I feel guilty.  Usually I am told this when my comments are about U.S. politics and the writer disagrees with them.  However, “Living in Costa Rica” does imply a subject.  Maybe just “Living” would be better. 

Case in point: after returning from a week on a sailing yacht with my daughter, I discovered once again that it is so much easier for me to fall into the vacation mode than it is to readjust to my daily routine of living once I return home.  I even have difficulty recalling what my habits were.  Like when do I turn on my computer and tune in to C-span?  I haven’t had a computer for a week (except to write and send my column). Which news programs do I want to watch (I had no TV onboard and survived nicely.)  Just what was my exercise routine?  Did I even have one?

So that’s what I’ve been doing for a week — trying to get back to ‘normal — or maybe find a new normal.

Back to my vacation: the only Costa Rican on the cruise
?????????????????????

. . .??????????????????

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

 
was naturalist Carlos Picada, and since he is also from San José, I gave him a copy of my book, “Butterfly in the
City.”  Every day after that, Carlos would come up to me and, with a broad grin, tell me how something I had written about the Ticos was so true — that he was always interested in what Gringos thought of Costa Rica and its people and that I seemed to understand Ticos.  I was, of course, happy to see him every time he approached me smiling.

Curiously, I have found that Costa Ricans — especially teenagers learning English — are among my biggest fans, so I plan to give a copy to the colegios where English is being taught.  I am in the process of finding a central location for distribution or a list of schools and their addresses.  I welcome any help in getting the information.

Then, this week I ran into the owner of Mora’s Used Books.  I asked him how business has been since he moved his store to near the Holiday Inn.  He said it was growing.  I replied, “Your new location isn’t as easy to find as the old one.”

He laughed.  “I’ll tell you something you don’t know about Ticos,” he said.  “We hear so many complaints from people about so many things — things we can’t do anything about that we’ve just stopped paying attention or answering.” 

It’s true.  He had moved to the new location for good reasons that I didn’t know, and therefore, my comment really was not helpful.  I said, “Thanks for the lesson.”  Then added, “I may quote you.” 

Borrowing a chapter title from my book, maybe my column should be called “People, Places and Ponderings.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Jo probably would like suggestions for a new name for her column. She can be reached at the e-mail address above.


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Why Wait 3 Months

A.M. Costa Rica
fourth news page

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 20


Another Escazú scamster pleads guilty to U.S. fraud charges

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Stephen Schultz, formerly of Costa Rica, has entered a guilty plea in federal district court in Miami to 12 counts of an indictment pending against him, the Justice Department and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced. Schultz pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, eight counts of mail fraud, and three counts of wire fraud. The actions against Schultz are part of the government’s continued nationwide crackdown on business opportunity fraud.

Schultz was arrested Dec. 12, 2008, in Costa Rica following his indictment by a federal grand jury in Miami on Nov. 20, 2008. According to the charges against him, Schultz and a co-conspirator, Jeffrey Pearson, purported to sell beverage and greeting card business opportunities, including assistance in establishing, maintaining, and operating such businesses. Following his arrest in Costa Rica, Schultz was extradited to the United States. Earlier this month Dilraj Mathauda, an associate also from Escazú, entered a guilty plea in the same court to one count of an indictment pending against him, charging conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

Schultz worked for USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee Inc. and Cards-R-Us Inc. Beginning in 2005, USA Beverages sold business opportunities to own and operate coffee beverage display racks. USA Beverages rented office space in Las Cruces, N.M., and otherwise made it appear to potential purchasers that USA Beverages’ operations were fully within the United States. However, USA Beverages actually operated from Costa Rica and used voice-over-Internet protocol to make their telephone calls appear to come from the United States.

After USA Beverages, Schultz worked for Twin Peaks, which was a Florida and Colorado corporation. Twin Peaks sold business opportunities to own and operate coffee beverage sale display racks. Twin Peaks had a mail service in Fort Collins, Colo., to make it appear to potential
purchasers that its operations were fully within the United States. In truth, Twin Peaks also operated from Costa Rica.

Schultz next worked for Cards-R-Us, which was a Nevada corporation that sold business opportunities to own and operate greeting card sale display racks. Cards-R-Us rented office space in Reno, Nevada, to make it appear to potential purchasers that Cards-R-Us’ operations were fully within the United States. Like USA Beverages and Twin Peaks, Cards-R-Us actually operated out of Costa Rica and were all part of the same overall operation.

Schultz and his co-conspirators made, and caused others to make, numerous false statements to fraudulently induce the purchase of business opportunities, said the government. Potential purchasers were falsely told that the companies were established years earlier, had a significant number of distributors across the country, and had a track record of success, the indictment said. Potential purchasers were referred to references who told false tales of their success as business opportunity owners, it added. Through these and other misrepresentations, purchasers of the business opportunities were led to believe that they would likely earn substantial profits, said the government.

"Business opportunity fraud targets Americans who are working hard to start a business and earn an honest living. While these fraud schemes may sometimes operate beyond our borders, they aren’t beyond the reach of United States law," said Tony West, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. "The Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who steal through false promises of financial success."

In pleading guilty, Schultz admitted that his role in the conspiracy resulted in between $2.5 million and $7 million in losses to investors and harmed more than 250 victims. Schultz faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison on the conspiracy count, and 25 years on each of the mail and wire fraud counts. He also faces a possible fine and mandatory restitution.


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A.M.
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fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 20

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Earthquakes win the title
as most dangerous event


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Earthquakes were the deadliest natural disasters in the past decade, accounting for 60 per cent of deaths caused by such hazards, a senior United Nations official said Thursday, stressing the importance of investing in disaster risk reduction.

Margareta Wahlström is the U.N. special representative for disaster risk reduction. She said that earthquakes remain a serious threat for millions of people worldwide as eight of the most populous cities in the world are built on earthquake fault-lines.

“The fortunate part is that earthquakes don’t happen very often but they are the deadliest of disasters. They take large numbers of people’s lives in a split second,” she said during a joint news conference in Geneva between the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters.

According to the figures released by the Centre for Research, 3,852 disasters killed more than 780,000 people over the past 10 years, affected more than 2 billion others and cost a minimum of $960 billion.

In terms of human losses, Asia is the continent that has been struck again and again by disasters during the last decade, accounting for 85 per cent of all fatalities.

The most deadly disasters of the past decade were the Indian Ocean tsunami, which hit several countries in Asia in 2004, leaving 226,408 dead, Cyclone Nargis, which killed 138,366 people in Myanmar in 2008 and the Sichuan earthquake in China in 2008, which caused the deaths of 87,476 people. In addition, 73,338 people were killed in the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 and 72,210 in heat waves in Europe in 2003, according to the Centre.

“The number of catastrophic events has more than doubled since the 1980-1989 decade. In contrast, the numbers of affected people have increased at a slower rate. This may be due to better community preparedness and prevention,” said Debarati Guha-Sapir, director of the Centre. The figures do not include the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti that killed perhaps as many as 200,000 persons.

Ms. Wahlström stressed that disaster risk reduction is an indispensable investment for earthquake-prone cities and communities. “Seismic risk is a permanent risk and cannot be ignored. Earthquakes can happen anywhere at any time.”

The eight most populous cities on earthquake fault-lines are Tokyo, Mexico City, New York, Mumbai, Delhi, Shanghai, Kolkata and Jakarta.

She added that disaster risk reduction strategies must be incorporated in the reconstruction of Haiti to minimize loss of life and destruction of key installations such as hospitals in future disasters.

Two 4-point quakes take place

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two quakes took place in Costa Rica Thursday.

The first at 8:59 a.m. was in the southern zone about 8 kms (about 5 miles) northeast of Sabalito, said the Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica. The magnitude was estimated at 4.

The second was at 1:10 p.m. and registered a magnitude of 4.6, said the Red Nacional. This was in Carrizal de Alajuela.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Jan. 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 20


Latin American news
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Extradited pair plead
innocent in tax fraud case

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A California couple who were involved in an anti-tax scheme are back in the United States where they pleaded innocent to multiple charges.

They are Lin M. Bartee and his wife, Christine J. Wenger-Bartee, who had the daring to dash off a letter to the Internal Revenue Service area director in Ogden, Utah, explaining why they did not have to pay taxes. They were involved with IRS Code Busters, a multi-level marketing scheme that purported to teach U.S. citizens why they need not pay income taxes.

They made their initial appearances in U.S. District Court earlier this month.  A federal grand jury returned an indictment June 26, 2008, charging the former Grass Valley, California, couple with conspiring to evade the payment of federal income taxes, making false statements in a bankruptcy case and fraudulently concealing property in connection with a bankruptcy case, according to the U.S. Justice Department. In addition, Mr. Bartee is charged individually with evading the payment of federal income taxes.

The couple were arrested here in May 2009 and unsuccessfully fought extradition to the United States. They face another court hearing Feb. 8.

According to the indictment, the defendants failed to file a federal tax return for the year  2001. In 2002, despite receiving substantial sums in income and from the sale of assets, the defendants again failed to file an income tax return for that year. At the same time, they transferred almost $240,000 to the woman's parents, who then transferred over half that amount to a bank in Costa Rica, said the indictment. In April of 2003, the defendants filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in the U. S. Bankruptcy Court in Sacramento, California. The defendants failed to list the Internal Revenue Service as a creditor, and they also failed to identify all of the income they received in 2002, the indictment alleges. On Nov. 9, 2004, the bankruptcy court denied their petition. Shortly thereafter, the  defendants left the United States for Costa Rica, the government said.

IRS Code Busters provides information to people who do not want to pay income taxes. Much of the information is based on discredited legal theories.  For example, some anti-tax literature distributed in the multilevel scheme said that the IRS puts a code in each citizen's file that required them to pay taxes. Bartee appears to have wanted the IRS to remove the mythical code from his file and wrote the letter to request that, said the Justice Department at the time of his indictment.




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