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(506) 2223-1327       Published Monday, Feb. 9, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 27       E-mail us
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Immigration told to set appointments within 15 days
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A period of 15 days is reasonable for the immigration department to issue renewal and replacement residency cards known as cédulas, the Sala IV constitutional court has ruled.

The decision, released Friday, involved two foreigners. One wanted to renew his residency cédula. He said in his court filing that he sought an appointment through the telephone call center established by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería Dec. 4. The man, identified by the last names of Gutiérrez Lagos, received an appointment for Sept. 17, more than 10 months in the future.

A woman with the last names of Betancur Pérez said in her filing that she was the victim of a robbery in which bandits took her cédula de residencia. She said she filed a robbery complaint with the Judicial Investigating Organization, where agents told her to seek another cédula from the immigration agency.

When she sought an appointment to obtain a duplicate plastic card, the date she received was June 19. She pointed out in her court filing that a cédula is vital for daily life in Costa Rica, including visits to state health clinics. She said she was receiving treatment for diabetes and depression.
In both cases, the court ordered Mario Zamora Cordero, director of the immigration agency, to issue the appropriate documents within 15 days of the receipt of a copy of the decision. It also ordered the state to pay the costs of the cases.

The immigration agency has been described as being in meltdown. A computerized system for creating cédulas had flaws and has been replaced by another system. Each time Zamora promises to speed up the issuance, but expats still are getting renewal appointments and appointments for their first cédula as much as a year later.

By contrast, the Registro Civil, which issued the standard cédula to Costa Rican citizens has a turnaround time of just a few days.

Zamora has promised that additional computerization will eliminate corruption in the process of issuing residencies and speed up the process. Among other advances, he seeks to have renewals done through the Banco de Costa Rica the same way that renewal driver's licenses are being processed.

The cases of the two foreigners are not controlling on the immigration agency. The decisions only apply to the two foreigners. However, it is clear that expats filing the same type of case objecting to the prolonged wait probably will receive the same consideration from the court.


Moto stunt
gone wrong


Rescue workers and attendants try to assist motorcyclist Jeremy Lusk, who attempted to jump a ramp in a freestyle competition Saturday night. He was in intensive care Sunday night.

Our story is HERE!

X-knights injury
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 27

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Sentences upheld in murder
of Centro English teacher


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala III supreme criminal court has upheld 30-year sentences given two men who were convicted of killing a Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano English teacher in Heredia June 7, 2007.

The dead man was 25-year-old Esteban Solano Víquez of Heredia.

The court determined that the two men, identified by the last names of Garita Matamoros and Soto Alvarado, were guilty of murder and attempted murder. They were convicted Aug. 21 and, as is mandatory, their sentence was reviewed by the Sala III.

Solano and some friends had been at a party and stopped in Heredia centro to get hamburgers at a restaurant there. Two robbers pulled a knife on a female member of the group, and Solano came to her aid.

A man stabbed him in the stomach, a wound that proved fatal at the nearby Hospital San Vicente de Paul.

Calif. animal communicator
will visit here during April


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Marta Williams, a California woman who has made a career as an animal communicator, will be in Costa Rica in April.

She is the author "Learning Their Language: Intuitive Communication with Animals and Nature,"  "Beyond Words: Talking with Animals and Nature" and a new book "Ask your Animal."

The schedule of her workshops for which a fee is charged is posted here. A local contact may be reached at 8857-2426 or 2487-5028.

By profession a biologist, Ms. Williams says this on her Web site:

"Everyone is born being able to communicate intuitively with animals and nature by mentally sending and receiving thoughts, emotions, and images. As we grew up, we were conditioned to suppress the ability. I teach people how to recover their skill, and in private consultations, I help humans hear what their animals have to say."

Foreign ministry employees
to stay at home to work


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The foreign ministry said Friday that it would embark on a pilot program of teletrabajo, or Internet commuting.

The ministry said that seven employees, six women and a man, would work on line starting next week.

Work at home is being promoted by President Oscar Arias Sánchez as a way to save money. At least 17 other departments of various agencies are going to participate, according to Alicia Avendaño, director of Gobierno Digital,

Five Kent State teachers
to help with English classes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The first five of an anticipated 300 volunteers to teach English have arrived in Costa Rica. They are from Kent State University in Ohio.

The five will work in Guanacaste communities along with Costa Rican teachers.

This is part of Costa Rica Multilingüe, a government program to have 100 percent of the high school graduates by 2017 with intermediate English skills. The program plans to bring 300 trained English-teaching volunteers here over the next five years.

After orientation in San Carlos, the five will be in Coco, Sardinal, Guardia, Belén and Cartagena, said Casa Presidencial.


Our reader's opinion
Western medicine needs
to learn a lot from history


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I don't think George Chapogas has done his homework re: the state of allopathic (western) medicine in the U.S.

Doesn't he know that the highest cause of death in that country is the medical system  — doctors wrong and missed diagnosis, bad medicines and those wrongly given, and hospital errors and deficiencies, botched operations?

And does not the fact that the health "industry" is the second largest in the country tell him something? Or the fact that practicing physicians invariably give prescriptions (chemicals) that treat only the symptoms; that medical research strives to find cures but does not talk about trying to find the CAUSE of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and stroke?  Even though most of us have a good idea.
 
Were George to do a bit of research into western medical practices he would find that just about every 50 years or so over the past 500 years it has found that what was correct treatment 50 years ago is now incorrect because of medical "advances."  Oops has been said a lot. 

George might learn something if he would read my book "Sidewalks in the Jungle, What it's REALLY Like to Live and Retire in Costa Rica" (Publ. Hatala, Inc. amazon.com). I tell about the amazing alternative medical resources, and even have a story about my visit to a real genuine witch doctor. That should make George's hair stand on end. (The wizened old guy helped me!).
 
As a man who is 86, who has not taken chemical prescriptions for over 30 years excepting antibiotics for the rare infection picked up, who only takes vitamins, minerals, and herbal tinctures for health, and who's physical vital signs are of a man of 55 (Western m.d.'s recent assertion), I can talk for hours about the efficacy of alternative medicine, especially acupuncture, and medical herbs for curing illnesses.

George, wake up and begin to smell the roses. Remember, herbal treatments have been used effectively for around 4,000 years. Allopathic medicine has been in general use for about 400 years. It does have a lot to learn.
Alfred Stites 
Heredia
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 27


Long-running dispute over Web site leads to fraud trial
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A case that resulted in dueling Internet travel Web sites is now a criminal prosecution for Internet fraud with a trial due to start today.

The accused is Forrest Grant Geiger of One Costa Rica Link S.A. The Poder Judicial said that the victim in the case is Jorn Malek. The Poder Judicial said in a summary that Geiger was hired by Malek to design a Web site and then managed to gain the confidence of Malek and lock him out of the site.

However, a check of the Internet shows that the case is far more complex. Geiger claims on his Web site that he was a partner with Malek in the 1CostaRicaLink.com and that the site became active in April 2001.

Malek appears to have responded by registering the 1-CostaRicaLink.com domain and constructing in 2003 a Web site that looks similar to the one run by Geiger.

Malek is believed to live in Rohrmoser, and Geiger is listed as being in Sonoma, California, according to domain registrations. Malek is a principal in Discovery
dueling web sites

Travel World, S.A. There was no explanation about why the case was being tried in Puntarenas. The Poder Judicial also did not say if the criminal case was brought by the local prosecutor or was being pursued by a private lawyer hired by Malek. 

Costa Rica law allows both options.

Although Malek does not appear to mention Geiger on his Web site, Geiger has several pages posted about his conflict with Malek.

Geiger, identified as a North American, appears to operate other Web sites that focus on other countries. He made a brief mention of another court case on his Web site and said he had won it. The Poder Judicial said that this case is scheduled for a trial of two days.


Better weather predicted for Caribbean recovery efforts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's weather experts have promised higher temperatures and less wind and rain for today after five days of downpours, flooding and dislocations thanks to a cold front.

Sunday saw better weather on the Caribbean coast where heavy rains continued through Saturday. High winds were the norm in the Central Valley and even as far to the north and west as Santa Rosa.

Several communities, including Sixaola, the perennial victim, were flooded. Over the weekend, the national emergency commission said about 900 persons were being housed in official shelters.

In Manzanillo on the Caribbean coast only 9 mms (.35 of an inch) of rain fell from 7 a.m. Sunday. The area reported 131.7 mm (5.2 inches ) from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday. At the Limón airport Sunday evening showers brought 19.6 mm (.77 of an inch).

Sixaola remained under waist-high water, and some residents who chose not to leave sooner were living in government tents.

The road from San José to the Caribbean, Route 32, was reported open despite some problems, but the highway close to the Panamá border was said to be cut in three places.

Another type of victim were traffic signals. The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that 18 systems were knocked out, mostly in the Central Valley. In some cases the wind tossed the traffic lights over cables so they could not be seen by motorists.
The winds over the weekend took a toll on homes. Many lost some or all of the roof, particularly if the material was galvanized steel or sheets of plastic called laminas.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias reegistered 350 incidents caused by the winds. In addition to houses being affected, the incidents included downed wires and trees. The commisison said the principal areas were Liberia, Santa Cruz, Montes de Oro, Puntarenas, Grecia, Palmares, Alajuela, Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Santo Domingo, Pérez Zeledón and San Vito de Coto Brus.

The commission said most of the flood refugees were in the Cantón de Talamanca with 606 persons in shelters. The flooding was such Friday that the commission cranked up the degree of the weather alert to its highest level. The problems centered on rivers flooding out of their banks all along the Caribbean coast.

At one point, the commission warned that some flooded zones of highways could only be crossed by heavy vehicles.
In addition to Talamanca, the cantons most affected were Matina, Siquirres, Guácimo and Sarapiquí. In the Jan. 8 earthquake zone north of Heredia and Alajuela centros, the flooding Río Sarapiquí carried away a temporary bridge near Cariblanco.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that improved conditions would last for four more days.

In addition to the emergency commission, the Cruz Roja was busy moving flood victims and providing food to those who had been cut off. The Ministerio de Salud also was responding, in part because the clinic in Sixaloa was flooded out. The  bomberos, the firemen, reported hundreds of calls for wind damage and downed wires.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 27



Motorcycle stunt driver takes a bad fall in competition here
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motorcyclist Jeremy Lusk remained in intensive care Sunday night after a spectacular accident in the X-Knights competition Saturday in the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.

Some 22,000 persons watched at the international free style motorcycle competition as one of Lusk’s airborne tricks went awry. Lusk lost control of his motorcycle in the air as he attempted to jump a ramp. The cyclist’s body flipped backwards and he hit the dirt mound becoming unconscious. 

The Cruz Roja came to Lusk’s aid, and he went by ambulance to Hospital Calderón Guardia. Doctors are waiting for the swelling in Lusk’s brain to go down, according to the cyclist’s official Web site.

Lusk, 23, is an American freestyle motorcyclist. In 2008, he won both a gold and silver medal in the X Games, in Los Angles, California.

The spokeswoman of X-Knights, Jennifer Hidalgo, said that doctors at Calderón Guardia performed surgery in order to drain the fluid between Lusk’s brain and skull.  
Ms. Hidalgo said that now doctors must wait 24 hours in order to know his medical condition.

Despite the accident, the games continued. For three consecutive years the Spanish motorcyclist Danni Torres has been the champion of the X-Knights Freestyle.

In the third and last competition, once again Torres, the favorite, came out victorious defeating the Frenchman Charles Pages and the Japanese Eigo Sato.

The freestyle, X-Knights, is a motorcycle competition, where motorcyclists show their tricks in the air, in three “heats” or rounds.  In each phase of the competition, the players have 2 minutes to demonstrate their style, and the players with the best score go to the next heat.

By the second heat there are only six remaining competitors. In the last heat, only the three top motorcyclists remained.

Pages got second place, while Sato got third.

Costa Rica is the first competition of the 2009 freestyle season. In the next months, the competition will move to other countries.


Rapist preyed on women passing through Parque Nacional in San José
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators say they have detained a man who preyed on women and raped them in the middle of San Jose's Parque Nacional.

The park is traveled by many pedestrians because Hospital Calderón Guardia is nearby as are bus stops.  The assaults took place between June and September, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. At least four victims have come forward, they said.
The rapist would take advantage of the low light conditions between 7 and 9 p.m. to approach women. He would then pull a knife and take them to a bench where he would pretend that he and the women were a couple.

Judicial agents managed to obtain photos of more than 50 persons who frequent the park. The man who is now a suspect is a 32-year-old construction worker who was identified by the women from a photograph and also in a lineup, judicial police said. The man lives in La Capri, Desamparados.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 27


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 week day.

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.

Statistics
A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

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.


Press group investigates
reduced murder penalties


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An Inter American Press Association mission to Nicaragua voiced concern at supreme court rulings that handed down prison sentences to the murderers of two local journalists with the possibility that both could be freed under special conditions before completing their terms.

The mission that was in Managua pronounced its dismay to Nicaragua’s highest tribunal over the decision to place the man found guilty of killing journalist Carlos Guadamuz under house arrest and an order for the release of reporter María José Bravo's murderer.

Enrique Santos Calderón of El Tiempo, Colombia, is president of the press group. He said “We are hopeful that the supreme court won’t allow these cases to go unpunished.”

Guadamuz was shot to death Feb. 10, 2004, as he entered Canal 23 television studios. The man who confessed to firing the two fatal shots, William Hurtado García, was sentenced to 21 years in prison on charges of murder and attempted homicide, but released last February from prison for health reasons and allowed to finish the rest of his sentence at home.

Ms. Bravo, correspondent for Managua's newspaper La Prensa in Juigalpa, in the central province of Chontales, was killed Nov. 9, 2004. A former local mayor, Eugenio Hernández González, who shortly before Bravo’s death had harshly rebuked her for an article she wrote, was charged with the murder.  A court sentenced Hernández to 25 years in prison but a public debate recently broke out upon disclosure that legal proceedings were underway to reduce the charge to attempted murder, which carries a five-year prison term and would enable Hernández to be released shortly.

During the press group visit Attorney General Julio Centeno confirmed that his office is standing by its charge against Ms. Bravo’s killer which, he added, is now pending a decision by the supreme court.

Rafael Solís, a supreme court deputy justice, said his court will review the Guadamuz case. He indicated that a precautionary measure had been taken, explaining that “the judge, based on a medical report, considered the convict to be ill and the prison warden, acting under the law, granted house arrest.” He added, however, that an appeal had been filed that could result in amendment of the original court ruling.

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