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(506) 223-1327      Published Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006, in  Vol. 6, No. 28          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Totals from 250 polling places added
Arias lead is increased slightly over Solís

By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Óscar Arias Sanchez has increased his lead slightly in the race for president.

A summary of totals from 250 additional voting places obtained by A.M. Costa Rica showed that Arias of Liberación Nacional has increased his advantage by more than 600 votes over Ottón Solís of the Partido Acción Ciudadana.

The 250 polling places from all over the country registered 26,169 votes for Arias and 25,551 for Solís, according to calculations by a reporter.

That gave Arias a margin of victory of 618 votes. Added to his margin reported Monday afternoon, the former president now leads Solís by 3,868 votes. The count from just 456 polling places have yet to be reported. What is missing are reports from 7.4 percent of the 6,163 polling places.

With the count from the 250 polling places added in, Arias has 617,938 votes, 42.30 percent, and Solís has 614,070, which is 42.04 of the 1,460,785 valid votes cast. The difference is .26 of one percent.

Óscar Fonseca Montoya, president of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, said that the hand count is separate and apart from the provisional totals that the election workers provided last on Monday afternoon.

The magistrates who run the Tribunal held a meeting Tuesday in which they considered a request from Epsy Campbell Barr, president of the Partido Acción Ciudadana and her party's candidate for first vice president.

She asked the magistrates to release nothing until the hand count was completed, and they agreed, saying that no statement would be given about final vote totals until every one of the votes from every one of the polling places were tabulated.

The Tribunal magistrates said in a statement that they were trying to maintain the peace and asked the public to remain calm and continue to have faith in the election Tribunal.

Transparencia Internacional-Costa Rica repeated its call for independent observers to be admitted for the hand court. The organization, in a letter to the magistrates, said that some Costa Ricans had experienced "inconsistent situations" at the polls.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Bags of ballots, each representing a separate polling place, are lined up awaiting a hand count. Related article HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Tribunal President Óscar Fonseca Montoya fields a reporter's question.

In the meantime, Tribunal workers are preparing preliminary results on the still unreported polling plces. However, they will be released piecemeal over the next day or two. These are polling places that were not involved in the electronic reporting that generated results for some 88 percent of the polling places.  Like the partial results obtained Tuesday from 250 polling places, the math will have to be done by reporters.

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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Fuerza Pública Director Walter Navarro Romero is serenaded by the unit's guitar group.

Police commander gets
two-year U.S. scholarship

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The director of the Fuerza Pública is leaving to spend two years studying in the United States at the successor institution to the infamous School of the Americas.

He is Walter Navarro Romero, who is finishing 31 years working with the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.  His replacement is Erick Lacayo Rojas, the former head of the police plans and operations department.

Navarro, 47, said he received a two-year scholarship to study at the institution in Columbus, Georgia, which is now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The school is located on the U.S. Army's Ft. Benning and uses many of the same buildings as the School of the Americas, which closed in 2001.

The institution is the main Spanish-language training facility operated by the U.S. Department of Defense. Navarro said he was not a fluent English speaker but planned to improve his abilities so he could take some of the courses offered in English.

Regional commanders and some staff members said goodbye to Navarro at a press conference Monday where Lacayo was introduced. Navarro has been in charge of the police force for eight years.

Navarro said he would take courses on human rights, special operations and police strategies. The School of the Americas got a bad reputation because many Latin American military and police leaders who studied there engaged in serious human rights violations when they returned to their home country.

Navarro said he expects to return to the ministry after completing the two years in Georgia. The scholarship was given by the United States to advance the training of Costa Rican police and to strengthen the security of citizens in the face of crime, said an announcement.

Navarro began in the archives section of the ministry in 1978 when he was 18. The outgoing police commander recounted some 30 improvements he helped foster for the department during his tenure. These include the professionalization of the police department, the standardization of the blue uniforms and shoulder patches worn by officers and the elimination of military-style ranks. His rank is comisionado

Rogelio Ramos, the minister, said that before the police were professionalized, being an officer was based on political party affiliation. He said when a government changed, long lines of job-seekers could be seen at the ministry, and each carried a letter of introduction from a political party official.

When the government changes May 8, Ramos will lose his job as minister. But Navarro noted that he has worked under eight presidents and 15 ministers without regard for political involvement.

Fake driving licenses
seized by investigators

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents with the Judicial Investigating Organization said they broke up an illegal operation Thursday that was printing false drivers licenses.

During a 4 p.m. raid that day, agents seized computer equipment, a printer, a scanner, a laminator and other materials that agents say a 28-year-old suspect used to create false drivers licenses.  Several of those fake documents were seized as well, agents said.  

Agents started the investigation as the result of a complaint filed by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes reporting that 200 blank licenses had been stolen, agents said.  These were taken slowly from various offices, agents said. Agents suspect that a number of other counterfeiters were involved besides the 28-year-old suspect they arrested during the raid Monday. 

Help sought to identify woman

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agent with the Judicial Investigating Organization in Santa María de Dota are trying to identify a woman whose body was found in an abandoned lot in Bajo Canet in San Marcos de Tarrazù Monday. Agents know only that the woman was killed.  She has knife wounds on her head and defense wounds on her arms.  In addition, her throat was cut, agents said. 
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 28

or protest?

Someone went to the trouble of placing cartoon stickers over the faces of every presidential candidate pictured on the 2006 ballot.
Election officials showed this Tuesday as an example of a
void vote.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

Protesters continue their vote-count vigil at Tribunal
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For the second straight evening, protestors stood outside the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones waving signs, holding candles and chanting slogans.  They say they are asking for a fair count of the votes cast Sunday, but in reality most simply don't want Óscar Arias Sanchez of the Partido Liberación Nacional elected as president.

“We are asking for international observers to verify the accuracy of the count,” said Fernando Francia, director of Cosmovisiones.  That company organized a campaign against the free-trade treaty with the United States that showed Costa Ricans named Óscar Arias Sánchez standing against a green background as they spoke against the trade agreement.  The commercials were meant to mock the Arias campaign.  Cosmovisiones was also responsible for the Ottón Solís advertising campaign for Partido Acción Ciudadana.

However, many protesters were waving anti-Arias posters and sporting stickers, patches and signs with the words “TLC” circled and crossed out Tuesday evening.  All age groups were represented.  There
were university professors and business owners but approximately half were university students who took to yelling, “No reelection” and “We smell bull_____.” 

A marijuana joint was passed through the crowd as protestors danced and chanted.  Most of them had an interest in defeating the ratification of the trade agreement.

“Arias said in his campaign speech that the three largest parts of his campaign were jobs, jobs and jobs.  I have plenty of work.  What I want more of is money, money and money.  The trade agreement will make us as poor as the other Central American companies.” said Flora, who wouldn't give her last name.   

When asked if it was safe to say that everyone at the protest had probably voted for Arias, Francia replied, “Yes, definitely.”

The protestors plan to return to the west side of Parque Nacional nightly until their demands are met, the election is declared over or until police remove them forcefully, said Francia.  However, Tuesday, their numbers had diminished some since the previous night. 

Police officers keep an eye on protesting supporters of Ottón Solís as they maintain their vigil near the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 28

Lawmakers cut sportsbooks a special deal in tax plan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sportsbooks got a deal at the Asamblea Legislativa Monday.

The full plenario of the legislators agreed to specify a special tax rate for the gambling enterprises in the proposed tax plan.

Unlike other buisnesses that will be taxed on their incomes, local and worldwide, sportsbooks will pay a flat fee, ranging from 13 million colons ($26,000) to 24 million colons ($48,000), depending on the number of employees.

The motion was presented by Carlos Salazar Ramírez, a deputy of Movimiento LIbertario, a party that has traditionally supported sportsbooks. Salazar said that from 5,000 to 7,000 Costa Ricans are employed in
sportbook enterprises and that the operations are highly mobile and likely to leave the country if the  proposed new tax plan is passed.
Many of the Costa Rican employees have studied English and computers and would be left jobless if the sportsbooks went elsewhere, said the legislator. The bets usually come in via telephone or Internet.

The motion, if finalized with the tax plan, would allow the sportsbook companies to open checking accounts in Costa Rica, something they cannot now do. Typically the betting proceeds are sent to other countries.

The proposal would index the fees to inflation and place the collection in the hands of the canton officials where the betting operation is located.

Sportsbooks with up to 20 employees would pay the lowest rate. Those with 21 to 60 employees would pay 16 million colons ($32,000). Sportsbooks with 61 employees or more would pay the highest 24 million colon rate.

Tuesday was the first legislative day since December.

Third day is a charm for anglers in Golfito's sailfish tournament
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Although conditions were perfect at the Stu Apte Fly Fishing Sailfish Tournament, the fish would not bite until the third day of competition. When it was over, Kyle Holt and Baker Bishop had beat the other 26 anglers to take first place.

Competition began at 6 a.m. Feb. 1 in the Gulfo Dulce.  Each of the boats carried two anglers and an observer from the International Game Fishing Association. 

At 6:15 a.m. the boats left the Bay and headed west out the Golfo Dulce towards the Pacific Ocean.  The conditions were perfect for billfishing, organizers said.  The hunt for sails began at 7:30 a.m.  The first  fish of the tournament was released by Rick Murphy at 8:22 a.m.  The camera crew from his television program, Sportsmans Adventures, recorded the catch and release.  

Action the first day was very slow, organizers said.  Although the conditions were perfect, the fish did not cooperate.  At the end of the day only eight sails
were released.  Unusual weather conditions moved in during the night and on the morning of the second
day there were clouds and a light chop on the water.  Mike Mondlach released the first fish at 8:20 a.m. but the action continued to stay slow, organizers said.  Holt released two sails and Baker released one to put them to the top of the team division.
Fishing picked up as the third day went on and the anglers released 22 sailfish by 3:30 p.m.  Holt of Knoxville, Tenn., and Bishop of Colorado each  released two sails to clinch the victory.  Not to be  outdone, Nick Smith also released two sails as did his teammate, Joe Zimmer.  This secured their team  second place. 

The team of Lloyd Jacobsen and Ron Mazzarella released two sails.  Combined with two from the  previous days, they slipped into the third place team spot. 

In the angler division, Nick Smith’s five releases held the lead.  Holt edged out his partner for second place with four releases.  Baker Bishop was an hour behind Holt catching his fourth fish and placed third.

Carjacked vehicle collides with minibus full of communications workers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officers with the Fuerza Pública arrested two men Friday who are accused of stealing a car, then crashing into a bus full of communications workers near that agency in Sabana Norte. 

The two suspects were identified by the last names Molina Carvajal and Porras Arias. Tow men carjacked a victim driving a white Toyota Four Runner, police said. The victim immediately called police and a short time later, officers found a car matching the provided
description near the Contraloría General de la República in Sabana Sur.

When officers tried to pull the vehicle over, the men inside fled and collided with a minibus carrying employees from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, said officers.  Seven of them were injured, officers said

The robbers abandoned the vehicle and tried to escape through nearby Parque La Sabana, but officers caught the two suspects there. 

Heredia mob pins down policemen with a suspect in a murder case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers were able to arrest a homicide suspect in Aurora de Heredia only after fighting through 200 rock-throwing youths, police said.
Officers allege that the suspect Morales Moraga got in an argument with 52-year-old Oscar Monge Alemán a little before 10 p.m. Monday, officers said.  The argument escalated to violence when a knife appeared and Monge suffered a stomach wound, police said.
According to Walter Villegas, commander of the Fuerza Pública in Heredia, officers found the suspect hiding in his home some 300 meters north of the crime, officers said. 
As officers arrested Morales, a 200-person mob advanced on the home and officers called in backup from several other units as well as the Unidad de Intervención Policial.  The extra officers were able to control the mob and at approximately 10:30 p.m., officers took the suspect to a holding cell. 

Jo Stuart
About us

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