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(506) 2223-1327         Publishied Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011,  in Vol. 11, No. 22           E-mail us
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Barge at work
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photos
Dredge continues to work on the ditch that will become a new river mouth.
Officials here say that Nicaraguan troops withdrew
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The foreign ministry said Monday that no Nicaraguan troops can be seen at the former camp on Costa Rican soil.

Officials think that the Nicaraguan soldiers may have pulled out, but a dredge still is hard at work trying to open a new mouth to the Río San Juan. More dredges are expected to join the work, according to news reports from Nicaragua.

The location is on the Isla Los Portillos, the land that Nicaraguan troops invaded in October. Costa Rican security officials have declined to send heavily armed police into the area.

They said they suspected some kind of trap.

Pulling out the troops was exactly what the Organization of American States demanded when Costa Rica brought the case of the invasion to the hemispheric body. The organization stopped short of taking sides and said that both countries should step down. Costa Rica has put significant forces in the border area.

The foreign ministry also said that in a presentation to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Nicaraguan ambassador, Carlos Argüello Gómez, said there were no troops in that area. The foreign ministry said that Nicaragua was litigating in bad faith.

Costa Rica refuted this statement a few days later when it presented photographic proof to the court, the ministry said. The Ministerio de Relaciones
Exteriores y Culto also said that the air photos
Nicaraguan camp
Nicaraguan flag used to fly over this military base camp.

 clearly show environmental damage in the location. The ministry released photos.

Costa Rican officials still are counting on an order from the international court, which has jurisdiction over the boundary between the two countries.

Officials have asked the court to issue what amounts to a stop-work order, a preliminary decision is expected this month.

The purpose of the dredging is to open a new mouth to the river so that boats can avoid the meandering and silted-up beginnings to the river.  Nicaragua has announced major improvements in the area, including a refurbished airport.

The withdrawal of Nicaraguan troops might not be ominous. The area is marsh and beach with lagoons that produce hordes of mosquitoes. Costa Rica has made no attempt to challenge the occupation. The Nicaraguans dug foxholes around their headquarters. These appear to be empty, too, based on the air photos.

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Amnet Internet outage
said to be general problem

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Amnet, the cable television and Internet provider, had more trouble Monday night.

The company reported a general outage of its Internet service, starting around 9 p.m. Some service was restored by midnight.

The company faced a damaged fiber optic cable last week. That left customers in the province of Cartago without service for two days. Readers in Escazú complained of outages last week, too, but the company said that this problem was local and only in Sabana.

The company has its own connection to the international cables. During frequent outages, the company's Web site is available suggesting that it is not the transmission lines that are the problem but the company's hookup with the World Wide Web. Television service is far more stable.

Opposition party wants more
food exempted from taxes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Partido Accesibilidad Sin Exclusión called on the president Monday to exempt from taxes some 200 foods that Costa Ricans enjoy.

The president's tax plan would impose a 14 percent value-added tax on all but a few basic foods. President Laura Chinchilla is promoting the value-added tax. Now many food products are covered by a basic 13 percent sales tax.

Victor Emilio Granados Calvo of Accesibilidad Sin Exclusión said at the legislature that pastas, meats, sausages, fruits, vegetables, milk products would all increase in price under the president's plan. Due to various laws and decrees some 300 food products are now free of tax, lawmakers learned in an earlier session. These would become subject to the value-added tax.

Men dominate in holding
mayor's job in municipalities

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's election laws that require party tickets to be balanced by gender put 2,373 women into office in the municipal elections. Voters also elected 2,537 men.

In the mayoralty races there was less equality. Some 71 men were elected mayor, as were 10 women. The numbers were reversed in the office of deputy mayor. Some 71 woman won that post, as did 10 men.

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones provided the statistics.

Fish consumption a record
and so are the concerns

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Fish consumption has reached an all-time high and more people than ever are employed in or depend on the fisheries sector, according to a new United Nations report, which also warns that global fish stocks have not improved.

“That there has been no improvement in the status of stocks is a matter of great concern,” said Richard Grainger, senior fisheries expert at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and one of the editors of the State of the World’s Fisheries and Aquaculture, which was released Monday.

“The percentage of over exploitation needs to go down although at least we seem to be reaching a plateau,” he added.

According to the report, the contribution of fish to global diets has reached a record of almost 17 kilograms per person on average, supplying over three billion people with at least 15 per cent of their average animal protein intake.

Overall, fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of an estimated 540 million people, or 8 per cent of the world population.

In addition, fish products continue to be the most-traded of food commodities, worth a record $102 billion in 2008, up nine per cent from 2007.

The report notes that the overall percentage of overexploited, depleted or recovering fish stocks in the world’s oceans has not dropped and is estimated to be slightly higher than in 2006. About 32 per cent of world fish stocks are estimated to be overexploited, depleted or recovering and need to be urgently rebuilt, it states.

At the same time, 15 per cent of the stock groups monitored by the organization were estimated to be under exploited (3 per cent) or moderately exploited (12 per cent) and therefore able to produce more than their current catches.

The report examines the growing legal efforts to enforce tighter controls on the fisheries sector, for example, through trade measures and against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. A recent study estimates the cost of illegal and unreported fishing alone at $10 to $23.5 billion per year.

The report also notes increasing debate about a proposed global record of fishing vessels, which ideally would assign a unique vessel identifier to each vessel that would remain constant regardless of ownership or flag changes over time. Such transparency would make it easier to police vessels engaged in illegal fishing activities.

The increasing demand for fish highlights the need for the sustainable management of aquatic resources, states the report, which recommends an ecosystem approach to fisheries, which is an integrated approach for balancing societal objectives with the state of the fishery and its natural and human environment.

Body found off main road

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man taking photographs spotted a body of an apparent murder victim Monday morning down a steep slope just off the
Braulio Carrillo highway.

The body may be that of a trucker who disappeared Jan. 14. The body was tied hands and feet and the cord was wrapped around the neck. The highway is a spot where murder victims sometimes are dumped because the slopes drop hundreds of feet off the highway into thick jungle.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

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!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 22
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There do not seem to be any surprises in immigration rules
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There seem to be no startling pronouncements in the immigration department's 366 pages of regulations to support the year-old law.

The regulations seem to validate the current situation, although there are large sections on obscure themes, such as special permits for persons living along the national borders who travel back and forth frequently.

Non-residents must present a forwarding ticket and show they have adequate money to be admitted into Costa Rica, according to the regulations. That is the rule now, but the regulations spell this requirement clearly. Travelers must show they have at least $100, but those coming to Costa Rica must show they have $1,000, the regulations say. That amount can be changed every year.

The money can be in cash, bank accounts, travelers checks or be invested in a pre-paid tourism trip, according to the rules.

The regulations seem to favor medical tourism. There are special ways in which non-residents can extend a stay if they are a medical patient.

The document also supports the immigration law that does not let those with 90-day visits extend them while still in the country. This was a key argument for the immigration law because foreigners here believed they could visit the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, pay $100
and get 90 more days to be in the country legally.

$100 was cheaper than a trip to Nicaragua to renew a visa.

Most tourists from First World countries get a 90-day visit when they arrive in Costa Rica. Under the law and now also the regulations these visitors cannot renew their visa while inside the country. In fact, someone from such a country who might be granted a lesser amount of days upon arrival can only extend the visit for the full 90 days.

Some expats theorized that they could ask for an 80-day visa from an immigration clerk and then pay money and get 90 more days administratively. That is not the case.

The regulations do not include any of the draconian measures that perpetual tourists fear. The former immigration director spoke about requiring tourists to stay out of the county for 10 days before renewing a visa or having them go to different countries in order to return legally to Costa Rica. A quick reading of the 366 pages did not show any such rules.

The regulations were well hidden in the Friday La Gaceta. A reader managed to find them after the official newspaper's Web site came to life Monday morning.

The file is HERE!

The public has until Feb. 10 to comment on the regulations. A special e-mail address has been created for suggestions. It is

Country's exports show a sharp increase over 2009
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica exported goods, services and products worth $3.35 billion in 2010, according to the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior. Exports were 7.4 percent higher than the 2009 figures, and ministry officials credited a 24 percent increase in United States exports to the new Central American Free Trade Treaty.

Sales of goods to foreign buyers brought in $9.3 billion while exported services accounted for $4.3 billion, said the ministry.

The only negative statistic was a 12.1 percent drop in the exportation of electronics and microprocessors because of changes in the operations of Intel here, the ministry said.

The United States was the main foreign purchaser. That country took 36 percent of the Costa Rican exports.  But
 the rest of North America took 14 percent. Central American took 16 percent. The European Union took 12 percent and South America took 13 percent, based on the ministry figures.

Agriculture accounted for $2.1 billion in exports, mainly coffee, pineapple, bananas and ornamental plants.

Food products, including canned goods, showed an 11.1 percent increase to $1.05 billion. This included canned tuna, canned palm hearts and sauces.

Manufactured products showed increases in medical prothesis, a category that was up 23 percent. Vehicle tires, electrical cables and other electrical material showed increases over 2009 in some case as much as 98 percent.

These products were affected severely in the recent economic crisis.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 22

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Injured horse prompts a call to not televise bull fights

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The televised shot of a buffalo goring a horse has generated a sharp response from a local animal rights organization.

The video was aired Sunday on the weekly show "Toros Repretel" on Channel 6, said the organization, the Asociación Nacional Protectora de Animales. The incident happened in Corralillo de Cartago, said the organization.

A release called bull fights a cruel act that encourages the mistreatment and the violation of the rights of animals.

Gisela Vico, president of the organization, said that she rejected the transmission of this type of entertainment.
"Yesterday thousands of Costa Ricans were witnesses to the dangers and damage that animals undergo when they are submitted to this type of activity based on stress, abuse and mistreatment of animals," she said.

Bull fights in the Costa Rican way are a standard of nearly all local festivals. For example, the Parrita mule festival will be featuring such events over the next two weeks.

Ms. Vico said that she received 15 phone calls about the televised incident. "What we saw was a Roman circus that ought not to be transmitted for respect to the animals," she said.

The condition of the horse was unknown.

Ban on cutting trees would hurt Latin farmers, study says

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean will see billions in lost revenue over the next two decades if a complete ban on deforestation is put in place, highlighting the need for compensatory actions to alleviate poverty in affected rural areas, according to a new pilot study by the Inter-American Development Bank. The study also found that a deforestation ban would have a negligible impact on food prices.

Smaller countries with fewer economic alternatives within and outside of agriculture in Central America and the Caribbean would suffer disproportionately from the ban, while larger and more diverse countries such as Brazil may eventually benefit from the ban, according to the paper “Agriculture Greenhouse Emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean,” which was presented during a seminar at the development bank's headquarters in Washington D.C.

The study forecasts that a hypothetical complete ban on land cleared for agriculture in tropical areas of Latin America and the Caribbean could generate potential large agricultural losses in these areas. For example, in 2030 farmers will receive $12.7 billion (in 2000 U.S. dollars) less than they otherwise would without a ban. Although there is much uncertainty regarding the value of greenhouse gas emissions in the marketplace, compensating farmers for refraining from land clearing may only offset over half of the total agricultural losses associated with the ban, when taking into consideration the average 2009 price of roughly $4.30 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent, the bank said.

Latin America and the Caribbean is coming under intense pressure to boost agriculture output to meet rising world demand for food, biofuels and animal feed, which is expected to increase by between 50 percent and 85 percent from 2009 to 2030. Deforestation and forest degradation are today’s main source of greenhouse emissions in 
the region and scientific studies suggest policies to halt destruction of forest cover will be key to stabilize worldwide greenhouse emissions. The study is part of  efforts by the development bank to improve information on and understanding of the potential costs and benefits of policies seeking to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“Our study supports other empirical studies indicating that the potential income that the rural poor could receive from protecting the forest is much smaller than the income they would typically get by clearing land to grow crops,’’ said Eirivelthon Lima, a natural resources economist at the bank. He coordinated the study, together with Stephen A. Vosti, an economist from the University of California, Davis. “A complete ban on land clearing in the tropics of Latin America and the Caribbean would therefore require compensatory policies to make the ban feasible and to prevent local poverty from increasing.”

The economic losses stemming from the ban would be unevenly distributed in tropical areas. The northern South American rim around the Amazon would suffer approximately 32 percent of all losses. The ban would also induce agriculture productivity to increase and product mix to change in non-tropical areas in the region, which could generate economic gains of approximately $3.4 billion and some additional greenhouse gases emissions.

Globally, the effects of deforestation ban on poverty would be very small as producers and consumers worldwide are expected to adjust to the absence of food supplied by hypothetically protected areas. Food prices would essentially be maintained on their long-term baseline trend. This is very good news for the poor, including the very large urban populations in Latin America and the Caribbean, said the bank.

The study also forecasts that over the next 20 years livestock will surpass deforestation as the major source of greenhouse emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Reward offered for pair
suspected of killing 72

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican authorities are offering a reward of $658,000 for information leading to the capture of two suspects wanted in last August's massacre of 72 illegal Central and South American migrants.

Officials announced the reward Monday for two suspects known by the nicknames "The Coyote" and "The Scorpion."  They also offered a reward of $411,000 for a third suspect in the mass killings. At least seven people already have been arrested in the case.

The bodies of the migrants were discovered on a ranch in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which borders the U.S. state of Texas. Mexico is a transit point for illegal migrants from Latin America and elsewhere seeking to reach the United States.  Many fall victim to gangs and organized crime.

Authorities have implicated the Zetas drug gang in the massacre of the 72 migrants. 

The Zetas began as a Mexican military unit that defected and began working with the Gulf cartel, based in Juarez, Mexico, across the Rio Grande river from the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. The Zetas split from the Gulf cartel last year. The two groups are now fierce rivals.

More than 34,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war since President Felipe Calderón took office in late 2006 and began cracking down on the cartels. The cartels are locked in a violent battle for control of trafficking routes into the United States.

Mexican governor's race
takes a tilt to the left

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Preliminary results of the governor's race in Mexico's Guerrero state have given the lead to Ángel Aguirre of the leftist Partido de la Revolución Democrática.

With at least 45 percent of the ballots counted in the Pacific coast state, Aguirre has about 57 percent of the vote late Sunday, while his rival Manuel Anorve of the once powerful Partido Revolucionario Institucional had 42 percent.

The Partido Revolucionario Institucional is seeking to regain political power in Mexico.  

Aguirre is a former Partido Revolucionario Institucional member who recently switched to the Partido de la Revolución Democrática.

The Partido Revolucionario Institucional's Anorve resigned from his post as Acapulco mayor to run for state governor.

The Guerrero election is the first of several gubernatorial contests to be held in Mexico this year, setting the stage for the 2012 presidential election.

The impoverished state is best known for its resort town of Acapulco, which has been plagued by drug violence in recent years.  

The election campaign was marred by violence, and the candidates accused one another of buying votes and having links with drug gangs.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 22

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Mrs. Clinton tells Haitians
not to reject democracy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has returned from a trip to Haiti, where she met with presidential candidates and urged the Haitian people not to give up on democracy despite a disputed presidential election.

Mrs. Clinton told a reporter that her message to the Haitian people is that democracy is worth investing in.  She said the United States supports the recommendation of the Organization of American States that the president's chosen successor, Jude Celestin, should withdraw from the March 20 runoff vote amid evidence of election fraud in his favor in the first round in November.

Mrs. Clinton met separately with each of the presidential candidates: Celestin, Michel Martelly, and front-runner Mirlande Manigat.

Mrs. Clinton also told reporters the United States has no plans to suspend earthquake recovery aid to Haiti over the disputed vote. She said the U.S. is impatient to get more work done to help the country recover.

During her trip, Mrs. Clinton also visited a treatment center for the cholera outbreak that has killed 4,000 Haitians since October.

The publication of preliminary election results last month triggered days of violent protests by opposition supporters angered by what they saw as vote-rigging by Haiti's government.

Haiti's ruling party has urged Celestin to pull out of the presidential race, but he has not confirmed his exit. Haiti's election commission has said it will publish final results of the disputed first round of voting  Wednesday.

Haiti is struggling to recover from last year's earthquake that left more than 200,000 people dead and 1 million others homeless.

Challenger tragedy marked

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has marked the 25th anniversary of the shuttle Challenger disaster, which killed all seven crew members and triggered questions about the safety of shuttle flights. The crew was honored Friday in a ceremony at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Jan. 28, 1986, the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after blasting off from the Kennedy Space Center.  The explosion was found to be linked to faulty seals on the launch vehicle.

One crew member was school teacher Christa McAuliffe.  She was to be the first teacher being sent into space.

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