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(506) 2223-1327        Published Friday, Feb. 4, 2011,  in Vol. 11, No. 25           E-mail us
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Another kind of football dominates this Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For many expats, Sunday is akin to a high holy day. It's Super Bowl Sunday.

Those with families might be pulled in two directions because Sunday also is the last day of rest before Costa Rican public schools reopen.

Sports bars and Gringo watering holes report overwhelming interest. Some said Thursday that they were full up with reservations.

Fox Sports will broadcast the game from Arlington, Texas, from the new $1.3 billion Cowboy Stadium. A crowd of more than 100,000 is expected with latecomers paying up to $10,000 to scalpers for a seat.

In Costa Rica the game is free on wide-screen televisions, but the distractions will be many. Some venues have elaborate spreads of food and drink. There also are teams of dancing girls representing some of the better known beer and liquor brands.

The game begins about 5:25 p.m., according to Fox, but the celebration starts much sooner. Super Bowl 45 features the Green Bay, Wisconsin, Packers and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Steelers.

Most Costa Ricans will go about their daily business totally unaware of the game in Texas. Their interest is another type of football.

Thursday marks the start of the school year. The Cámera Nacional de Turismo noted that many

hotels and resorts are offering special discounts to Costa Rican tourists this weekend. Offers of from
20 percent or more off are typical. The tourism providers are anxious to fill rooms because the next big surge of local tourists is Samana Santa holiday, which starts April 15.

Murder is suspected in death of Canadian woman
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators are treating the death of a Canadian woman in a rural area of the Osa Peninsula as a homicide.

The Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed Thursday that the woman, Kimberley Blackwell, 53, showed signed of violence. Specifically the woman appeared to have been hit at various parts of her body. She was found in the patio of her home in San Miguel de Cañaza near Puerto Jiménez.

Ms. Blackwell was known in the area as the
 operator of Samaritan Xocolata, which produced high-end chocolate items from Costa Rican cocao.
One expat Thursday said the chocolate was the best she had tasted.

Friends and neighbors of Ms. Blackwell suspected early that her death was murder by strangulation. Cruz Roja attendants reported on the manner of the death. Friends also said that Ms. Blackwell had an interest in the supernatural and that some of her Costa Rican neighbors feared her.

An autopsy will be performed at the judicial morgue. Agents in Ciudad Nelly are in charge.

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11 detained in kidnapping
at Barrio Cuba auto agency

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents made 11 raids Thursday morning to detain as many persons as suspects in the kidnapping of a woman while she worked in an auto showroom in Barrio Cuba Jan. 11.

Kidnapped was a Wendy Miranda Argüello, a 30-year-old former model who also is the daughter of the owner of Autos Leo, the used car dealership. The woman was taken as she worked and carried to what police believe to be a home in Pozos de Santa Ana where she was held until Jan 15. That was when her parents paid 20 million colons, about $40,120 in ransom. Originally kidnappers sought much more.

One of those detained Thursday was a juvenile. The mastermind of the operation was said to be a Panamanian man with the last names of Scott Urranaga. One of those arrested was the former bodyguard of the dealership owner, said informal sources. Three of those detained were women.

Raids were conducted in Desamparados, Alajuelita, Tarbaca and Alajuela. Police also investigated the small home in Pozos where the woman was held. It was a rented location.

Lawmakers vote to investigate
Arias link with Poder Judicial

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature voted Thursday evening to impanel a commission to investigate the Rodrigo Arias affair.

The main thrust will be to quiz workers at the Poder Judicial on contact with Arias and the outcome of telephone calls. Presumably lawmakers will call Jorge Chavarría, the fiscal general or chief prosecutor. He said he was contacted by Arias while he was still awaiting his judicial appointment.

As a result, a questioning session for Arias was postponed. Prosecutors are investigating how some $2 million was used during the early days of the Óscar Arias Sánchez administration. Rodrigo Arias was the chief of staff of minster of the Presidencia for his brother.

Rodrigo Arias has said he would like to run for president in three years, so there are political motives for the investigation. The Partido Liberación Nacional, the party of the Arias brothers, resisted the call for an investigation for two weeks but finally gave in to a concerted push by opposition parties.

The money came from the Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica and contracts were awarded without the usual governmental oversight. The purpose was to advance the free trade treaty with the United States that was in the legislature at that time.

In another development, Ana Lorena Brenes Esquivel, the new procuradora general de la República, told lawmakers Thursday in a committee hearing that both Arias brothers contacted her over the Las Crucitas open pit gold mine case. Both Arias brothers wanted to know if she was going to appeal a lower court ruling that said there were illegalities in awarding the concession to the local subsidiary of a Canadian mining firm.

She said she was not pressured and that her office has the obligation to defend state actions, such as the concession award. She did file an appeal in her capacity as the central government's lawyer.

Óscar Arias strongly supported the mining company in its prolonged effort for approval, so his interest is hardly surprising.

Ancient money displayed
in new museum exhibit

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new exhibit at the Museos de Banco Nacional will be money from ancient civilizations.

The exhibit will complement the permanent Museo de Numismática that displays currency and coins mostly of Costa Rica.

The new exhibit will be open to the public Thursday. A museum announcement said that coins of Asia Minor, Rome and Greece will be shown.

Correos promotes telegrams
for loved ones Feb. 14

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The postal service is giving residents a chance to express their love for about $2.

Again this year, Correos de Costa Rica is offering 1,000-colon telegrams to be delivered St. Valentine's Day, Feb. 14. They are available at the 123 offices of the postal system.

Those who purchase the telegram blanks can take them from the postal window, fill in the sentiment they want to write and then return them. They do not have to stand at the window and compose their love notes.

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, Friday, Feb. 4, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 25
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Costa Rica protests the creative new map by Nicaragua
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government of Costa Rica has protested energetically against a new map produced by Nicaragua that takes in some of the Costa Rican territory.

The Costa Rican foreign ministry said that the map modifies the boundary between the two countries that has existed, particularly in the area of the Isla Portillos since 1897.

This is the area Nicaraguan troops invaded in October and where the regime there seeks to construct a new mouth for the Río San Juan.

The case was litigated in the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and a decision is expected this month. Costa
Rica seeks an order to make Nicaragua freeze the dredging and canal work in the area.

Nicaragua has played with maps before. When Costa Rica initially protested that a dredge was dumping its outflow on Costa Rican soil, Nicaragua officials quickly found an erroneous map produced by Google that verified their version of the boundary line. Google quickly disassociated itself from the dispute and said that international boundaries should not be determined by a map from the Internet.

Nicaragua is trying to adjust reality to conform to the case it presented at the Hague, Costa Rica said. The ministry said a note of protest was sent to the Nicaraguan Embassy.

René Castro, the Costa Rican foreign minister, said that the map only aggravated the dispute between the two countries.

Rustlers will have to watch out for new mobile offices
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If the cows won't come to the office, the office will go to the cows. That is the strategy of the Fuerza Pública which announced Thursday that it has set up nine mobile units to be placed on various sections of the national highways to control cattle rustling.

Theft of cows is a major problem in northern Costa Rica. The small offices on wheels cost 43 million colons or about $86,250. The wooden structures are mounted on small trailer beds along with an electrical generator. The offices will have Internet access so that police officers can check on suspicious shipments of cattle.

José María Tijerino, the security minister, praised the mobile offices in a meeting with cattle ranchers Thursday.

Cattle in Costa Rica are branded similar to cattle in the U.S. West. The brands are registered at the Registro Nacional.
mobil office
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo

Gloria Abraham, agriculture minister, and José María Tijerino, security minister, stand in the doorway of one of the mobil units

Two versions of how fearful order is eliminated by people
This past week I watched the 1987 movie, “Cry Freedom.”  I had missed it when it first came out.  It is the story of Steve Biko (played by Denzel Washington), an educated black man in apartheid South Africa in the 1970s.  Biko quit medical school when he founded the Black Consciousness Movement. He encouraged his followers to not allow the attitude of the whites and the laws of apartheid make them see themselves as inferior, nor should they accept as true the negative epitaphs flung at them but to truly believe that “Black is beautiful” and demand more for and of themselves.

The movie condenses the revolt of the black students against being forced to use Afrikaans language in school and the Soweto uprising and protest against the murder of 23 children in 1976 into a scene of hundreds of children marching dancing and singing songs of being proud of who they are and wanting a better education, and then being stopped by a police roadblock and fired upon by police and soldiers; mowed down by machine guns and sharp shooters as they try to flee. It is estimated that between 200 and 700 children were killed in that year.  In September 1977 Biko was silenced. He was arrested, then tortured and murdered by the police.

I cried for the children, and I cried at the ability of human beings to torture and kill.  Most often their victims are defenseless.

And now I, like many of the rest of the electronically connected around the world, have been watching and listening to the happenings in Egypt.  It started as one of those great moments in history: a peaceful march for freedom and protest against the corruption and cruelty of their president and demanding an end to his regime.  It was happening without an assassination or firing a gun.  It was a protest that would fit present day Costa Rican ideals.

Tens of thousands Egyptian marchers, mostly young, of every stripe, not trying to promote a particular ideology, just asking for freedom, jobs and the exit of a president who, for 30 years has personified all the rights they do not have.

The marching and protesting has been lasting for days and nights.
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

Neighbors shared their food and shelter with one another; volunteers cleaned the streets of debris, and stayed up all night to protect their families and others from those who threatened violence.  Human beings behaving as the best of us would.

It all seemed too wonderful to last.  And it didn’t.  Some violence came from the police, then magically, three prisons opened and the convicts escaped to loot and vandalize.  Then President Mubarak spoke but did not give the people what they asked for, but rather what presumably an 82 year-old man with the accumulation of 30 years of power and riches could easily give:  the promise not to run again in September for another six-year term.

Since that didn’t work, the Mubarak supporters suddenly made an appearance and instead of protesting the protesters, they morphed into thugs, climbed onto camels and horses and attacked.

That’s when the bloodshed began in earnest.  And the euphoria has been replaced by fear; in the people, fear of more violence and defeat, in other countries fear of chaos and instability, which Mubarak threatens, and what the future will bring. The name Muslim Brotherhood is being translated by many into Al Qaeda, the enemy that has replaced communism.

Generally speaking, humans need order. We have invented language and myths to bring order in our world.  When a government locks up reporters and silences the media, it creates a fearful order, not an informed order. 

Sometimes chaos with good neighbors and kind hearts is better than a dictated order coming from above.

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New study says dark roast process generates antioxidents

By the University of British Columbia news service

Food scientists at the University of British Columbia have been able to pinpoint more of the complex chemistry behind coffee’s much touted antioxidant benefits, tracing valuable compounds to the roasting process.

Lead author Yazheng Liu and co-author David Kitts found that the prevailing antioxidants present in dark roasted coffee brew extracts result from the green beans being browned under high temperatures.

Their findings will appear in a forthcoming issue of Food Research International.

Liu and Kitts analyzed the complex mixture of chemical compounds produced during the bean’s browning process, called the Maillard reaction. The term refers to the work by French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who in the 1900s looked at how heat affects the carbohydrates, sugars and proteins in food, such as when grilling steaks or toasting bread.

Antioxidants aid in removing free radicals, the end products of metabolism which have been linked to the aging process.

“Previous studies suggested that antioxidants in coffee could be traced to caffeine or the chlorogenic acid found in green coffee beans, but our results clearly show that
coffee beans
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Coffee beans during roasting process

the Maillard reaction is the main source of antioxidants,” says Liu, a master's student at the Canadian university.

“We found, for example, that coffee beans lose 90 per cent of their chlorogenic acid during the roasting process,” says Kitts, a food science professor.

The study sheds light on an area of research that has yielded largely inconsistent findings. While some scientists report increased antioxidant activity in coffee made from dark roasted beans, others found a decrease.

Yet other theories insist that medium roast coffees yield the highest level of antioxidant activity.

Police accused of shakedowns jailed for year's investigation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 13 policemen and one civilian accused of shaking down drug dealers have been placed in preventative detention for a year, according to the security ministry.

Prosecutors sought the year's confinement in a request to the Juzgado Penal del II Circuito Judicial de San José Wednesday after the men were detained.

The Poder Judicial also disclosed that two of the accused policemen were members of the regional anti-drug program. They were identified by the last names of Mora Len and García Vega. They worked in Goicochea.

The other officers were identified by the last names of Zúñiga Ugalde, Rivera Valverde, Reyes Sánchez, Fonseca
 Chinchilla, Rojas Montero, Campos Ruíz, Castillo Mena, Sánchez Villegas, Obando Hernández, and Víquez Rodríguez. One officer's name was unavailable.

The civilian was identified by the last names of Céspedes Brenes.

The Policía de Control de Drogas conducted raids and searchers in Guadalupe, Desamparados and Heredia.

The officers are accused of using inside information to keep track of suspected drug dealers and then using this information to conduct unauthorized raids and arrests.

They are accused of taking the bulk of the drugs confiscated for resale and turning over only a small portion to prosecutors, if at all.

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Second-place finisher cut
from Haitian runoff ballot

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Haitian election officials say former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular singer Michel Martelly will face off in the presidential runoff election set for March 20.

The electoral commission's announcement Thursday means ruling party candidate Jude Celestin is out of the race — an outcome supported by the international community.

The long-awaited final results of the disputed November election differ from preliminary results, which put Celestin in the runoff with Manigat.

The national coordinator for the ruling party, Sen. Joseph Lambert, told the French news agency that the party accepts removing Celestin from the race to avoid economic sanctions against Haiti and to ease social tensions.

The head of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, expressed respect for the results Thursday, and said the group hopes that they are received in an environment of trust and tranquility.

A recent organization report, backed by the United States, recommended that Martelly be placed in the runoff instead of Celestin, citing irregularities and fraud in the balloting.

The U.S. ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, called Thursday a "good day in Haiti" and said the United States is pleased that the election commission seems to have been very diligent in following recommendations.  He urged all Haitians to remain calm and peaceful.

Riots erupted in December after the electoral commission initially announced that Martelly was eliminated, with his supporters accusing the Haitian government of vote-rigging.

Many banks and other businesses closed early Wednesday because of fears the new results could trigger violence.  But the streets were calm Thursday after the announcement.

Adding to political tensions in Haiti was the surprise return last month of former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier after 25 years in exile. 

A second exiled Haitian leader, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, also contributed to the political suspense, after the government said it would grant him a diplomatic passport to return to Haiti.

Chávez kicks off campaign
for presidential elections

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has marked his 12th anniversary in power, saying the battle has begun for his 2012 re-election.

Chávez made the comment Wednesday in a broadcast speech in which he listed his accomplishments and apologized for his mistakes.

Chávez, who is a sharp critic of the United States and ally of Communist Cuba, took power in 1999.  Three years later, he survived a short-lived coup.

In recent years, the Venezuelan leader has nationalized firms in a number of sectors, including petroleum, cement, communications, electricity and banking.  Chávez has said he wants to improve the lives of the country's poor majority.  But, critics say his policies are scaring off investors and will hamper Venezuela's emergence from recession.

Last year, the president's ruling party won parliamentary elections as expected, but fell short of a two-thirds majority needed to override all legislative opposition.  A short time later, the outgoing legislature, which was dominated by Chávez allies, approved measures letting him enact laws by decree.

The law granting the president decree powers also will allow him to enact measures involving land, finances, security and other measures.

Critics described the legislative move as a clear effort to sideline the new congress, which now has enough opposition members to block actions.  The new legislature, with the larger opposition, has now been seated in Venezuela.

Venezuela's new legislature faces a series of problems such as rising inflation and unemployment, as well as an increase in violent crime due in part to the illegal drug trade.

Cuba will release another
of its political prisoners

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuban Roman Catholic Church officials say the government has agreed to release four more political prisoners and send them into exile in Spain.

The church made the announcement Wednesday, saying Alexis Borges, Victor Jesus Hechavarria, Osmel Arevalos Nunez and Rodrigo Gelacio Santos are to be freed in the coming days. Reports, however, say the men are not among a group of dissidents who were jailed in a 2003 Cuban government crackdown and who were to have been set free by the end of 2010.
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One suspect is taken to a police car.

One robbery suspect
was freed in earlier case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers detained four men Thursday as suspects in robbing a student and also in an attempt to rob a car from its driver.

Police said one of the suspects had been released by a judge on conditional liberty after being convicted of an earlier robbery.

The arrests happened in San Juan de Santa Bárbara de Heredia. They were detained in San Pedro de Barva.

Police said they recovered a .22-caliber pistol that had been thrown into a vacant lot. The four also are being investigated regarding four similar incidents in the past days.

The four were identified by the last names of Martínez Morales, Sanabria Araya, Walter Thompson and Gómez Molina. Police said that Gómez was the man who had been granted conditional liberty.

Power cuts are planned
for customers in Escazú

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz said it would be cutting power in two areas of Escazú today.

The first area is in the vicinity of Urbanización Las Veraneras and the Depósito de Materiales Santa Bárbara. The second area is in Barrio El Carmen and Beberdero in San Antonio de Escazú. In both cases, workmen are changing out utility poles and also installing new lines to replace worn ones.

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