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(506) 2223-1327        Published Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011,  in Vol. 11, No. 29           E-mail us
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The day has come for high hopes and expectations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today is the day most public school students have been dreading. Today is the start of the new school year.

More than 950,000 students are off to class this morning with officials worried about security, traffic, dropouts and crime. Some 600,000 of the students are in pre-school and primary grades.

The school year is 42 weeks and ends Dec. 16.

The Ministerio de Educación Pública has a budget of some 1.45 trillion colons to pay for the costs of schooling. That is about $2.9 billion. Some will go to scholarships to help about 15,000 students attend school. There also is the cost of infrastructure, salaries, training and transportation.

Some 75,000 students get some kind of subsidy for transportation.

This year the ministry has set up a program to encourage students to identify with their neighborhood school. Targeted especially will be the 50 high schools that have the highest dropout rate.

Traffic police are concerned by the proximity of some schools to major roads. They have encouraged parents with children in such schools to come early.
backpack
 
There also is the matter of the Río Varilla bridge on the Autopista General Cañas. The Ministerio de
Obras Públicas y Transportes says that work there is nearly finished. The job of rebuilding the surface of the bridge has resulted in massive traffic jams since Christmas. Now four lanes are open.

Traffic officials also say that buses carrying students can use the exclusive bus lane on the autopista.

Despite private guards and other security measures, protection is not as extensive as some teachers would like. Some have to spend time checking the backpacks of arriving students. A student in Heredia killed a school director last year with a pistol, and security has been tighter since.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 29

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Yikes
Our readers' opinions

We continue today publishing some of the ideas readers have to reduce crime. There are many more letters.
Swift prosecution sought
for all crimes, large or small


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

CAP (Crime Awareness & Prevention) representing the Southern Zone has a response for crime prevention suggestions. While one of the primary focuses of CAP is to promote individual community safety by awareness and preventative measures, we believe the safety of the citizens of Costa Rica is the primary responsibility of the government.

We urge the central government and the institutions directly tasked with the safety and security of its citizens to adopt the following initiatives:

1. A comprehensive revision of the existing criminal code to prosecute and penalize all crimes, small or large, including fencing of stolen goods, with immediate and significant consequences to offenders such as appropriate fines and jail time.

2. Increase the flagrancy courts throughout Costa Rica, to impose swifter sentencing.

3. Increase prisons/jail capacity with creative ideas such as tent prisons.

4. Hold officials (judges, police, etc) accountable.

5. Increase support for police: Higher compensation, provide more vehicles, provide training.   

The current conviction rate of 2 to 4 percent is completely unacceptable, as well as the automatic impunity for crimes under $500. There must be consequences for ALL crimes.

We implore the Costa Rican government to take immediate action by changing its laws to protect the victims, not criminals, and hopefully return peace to this beautiful country.

E-mail us at caponcrime@gmail.com. Our web site @ caponcrime.info. Facebook: caponcrime
CAP on Crime
Dominical

10 ways to crack down
on a variety of crimes


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

1. Fire every judge who has turned loose armed robbers and drug dealers and then told them to sign in every 15 days.
 
2. Every one from the head of the police on down should have to take a lie detector test every six months and be asked if they have committed any crimes or taken any bribes. If so, automatic dismissal and one year in jail.
 
3. All police units should work closer together, and any policeman should be able to write a traffic ticket.
 
4. Let us not forget that all violent crimes are not committed with a gun or a knife. When a driver is speeding, running stop signs, driving on the wrong side of the road, passing over double yellow lines or passing into blind corners and kills someone or a whole family, I would call that a very, very violent crime.
 
Note: On numerous occasions I have seen from 20 to 22 policemen checking cars for updated stickers while a big portion of the violations I said above is going on right in sight of them.
 
5. The young policemen that they are hiring need to go through a very comprehensive driving program. A lot of them drive almost as bad as most of the rest of the drivers. Of course, that is all they have seen for all of their life. I have witnessed many running stop signs, speeding and no turn signals.
 
6. Enforce the laws, at least the good ones. (I am not to worried if a five foot, six inch 12 year old is not in a car seat.)
 
7. Take some of the $35 to $50 million a year that is spent on telling the world how great Costa Rica is and build a big jail. It does not have to be fancy or expensive.
 
8. I think it would be great to put all the prisoners that are not to dangerous in chain gangs and have them clean up the tons and tons of trash that is thrown on the sides of the roads. If the country did not look like a trash dump, I am certain it would help with tourism.
 
9. You can not let criminals take over any part of any town or community. They have to be stopped and quickly or they just get braver. Meaner, and more of them.
 
10. Ask for help. From the U.S. or anyone who will help. It may not be to long before the drug cartels start to take over and they will make the 50 or so Nicaraguan soldiers on the border look like a bunch of Boy Scouts.
Robert Woodrow
Curridabat

Use GPS trackers to find
the location of the fences

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

A small investment in some inexpensive technology (namely GPS trackers) would easily weed out some major theft rings.    Put some chips on some laptops, passports, bicycles, cameras, guns, etc. and follow them!  They are all headed from little streams to one or two big lakes. Wait until you have them for 100 laptops and 50 passports and put them ALL away for a long sentence.  There will likely still be some petty theft, but you would be able to put a huge dent in their plan, especially in smaller tourist towns.

Also, why not surveillance cameras in certain key areas?  I can recognize exactly where there is major drug trafficking happening, why can't the police see it?
Anonymous*
(*EDITOR'S NOTE: Normally we do not publish anonymous letters, but this idea is a great one!)

 
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, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 29
Latigo K-9

Jaco condos

Photo shows the new concrete work that is supposed to reduce flooding, but the arrow also shows the ruptured sewer line.

Rio maria Aguilar
Municipalidad de San José photo

City's photo accidentally shows how bad the sewers are
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad de San José has completed some anti-flood work along the Río María Aguilar in Las Luisas and Barrio Méndez in San Francisco de Dos Ríos.

Municipal officials want to promote their efforts, but a photo they sent with a press release serves another purpose. It demonstrates the deplorable condition of the Central Valley sewers.

The municipality enhanced a wall under a pedestrian bridge at the site. The wall extends for 20 meters, about 66.5 feet, and is designed to keep the cresting river from coming out of its banks during rainy season.

Sewers are not under the jurisdiction of the municipality, so while officials were investing 4 million colons, about $8,000 in the concrete work, no one bothered to fix the gaping openings in the sanitary sewer line.

The photo shows water pouring through the rusted wall of the pipe directly into the river.

The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados
has been planning a massive sewer project for years. But so far the effort has been only on paper.

In May 2007 the Sala IV constitution court ordered 34 municipalities of the Central Valley to stop dumping sewage into the Río Grande de Tárcoles, to restore the watershed to its unpolluted condition and to adopt an integrated solution to the wastewater problem.

The Japanese international aid agency has allocated $135 million for Costa Rica's sewers, but the money is untouched because the country cannot come up with additional funds.

Acueductos y Alcantarillados says it is in the process of seeking approval of a contract to build a treatment plant in La Carpio. The Contraloría de la República has to sign off on the deal. But officials estimate that it will not be until 2015 that the plant is in operation.

In addition, the entire network of sewer lines have to be replaced and also extended.

Until then the bulk of the sewage from the Central Valley will continue to flow into the Tárcoles, the Gulf of Nicoya and the Pacific Ocean.


Visitors from north here to study medical tourism options
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourism officials report that 11 executives of North American insurance firms are in Costa Rica to take a look at the prospects for medical tourism here.

This is the fourth familiarization tour of Costa Rica for those who may be sending directly or indirectly medical tourists here. Insurance companies like the idea because the cost of medical care is less here.

Costa Rica is competing with other countries to host medical tourists. So far several dental firms have developed successful medical tourism programs at U.S. standards.

Countries like India and Philippines also are aggressive marketers, as is México.
Costa Rica has an advantage because it is closer to the United States and Canada, the principal sources of medical tourists, and many professionals here have had U.S. training.

Several of the hospitals also are U.S. certified.

Several private groups have emerged to evaluate quality and provide local certification, too.

The visiting executives will be visiting some of them, including the major hospitals and Clínica Dental New Smile, said the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

The institute identified some of the visitors as being from National Benefit Builders Inc., Clear Choice Benefits and Affiliated Benefit Solutions.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 29


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Here is a primer on Costa Rican beer for the new arrivals
By Steve Linder*
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The very first time I traveled to Costa Rica many, many years ago I actually asked the bartender in a jungle lodge for a Samuel Adams lager. I’m much worldlier now, but I have to say I’m still embarrassed.  Currently you may be able to find imported beer across the country (although don’t look
for microbrew specialties from New England). Costa Rica has several home brewed varieties and one should suit your taste.

Florida Ice & Farm Co. is a public company founded in 1908 and its subsidiary Cervecería
beer bottles
Costa Rica is the primary brewer of Costa Rican beer.  The firm actually was the first Latin American brewery authorized to produce Heineken. The offerings include:

Imperial: For more than 83 years, Imperial has been Costa Rica's favorite beer. Its origins go back to 1924, when the Ortega brewery decided to create a beer that adapted German brewery traditions to the tastes of Costa Ricans. It’s refreshing and ideally suited to a tropical climate.

It was an immediate hit, and today it is the undeniable domestic market leader, preferred by more than half of Costa Rican beer drinkers.

Pilsen: Launched in 1888, the Pilsen brand has graced the Costa Rican beer market for more than a hundred years, establishing it solidly as a national staple. It’s second in popularity in the country. Pilsen is known for its intense flavor and more noticeable bitterness. Traditionally referred
to as the “blonde” beer, due to its color, it combines malt, grains and a strong hop flavor to provide its characteristic and refreshing bitterness, making it an ideal accompaniment to meals.

Bavaria: Produced since the 1930s, is a Dortmunder beer.  Its high proportion of malt and fine-quality hops, golden color and appetizing head gives it the feel of a European beer. It is these characteristics that make it such an excellent accompaniment at mealtimes. The traditional Bavaria beer is considered Gold. They also offer a lite and dark version as well as a new blue.

Rock Ice: It’s prepared with the “ice brewing” process, which chills the beer to form fine ice crystals that are then removed from the liquid without compromising the flavor. The process gives the beer a more full-bodied taste and aroma. The beer also comes with lemon added.

Heineken:  The most recognized European beer in the world. It is a classic lager with balanced aroma and taste. Made with 100 percent malt and with a level of bitterness somewhat higher than that of Pilsen, this beer is of the premium type. It has been produced in Costa Rica since 1986, under a license from the Dutch headquarters.

Kaiser: It’s a nonalcoholic beer produced through the separation of its alcohol by an “osmotic membrane” process using dialysis modules, so that the mother beer’s characteristics maintain a high level of flavor.

OK. Now I’m thirsty . . . .

*Linder is a beer fan and the marketing manager for Pacific Lots of Costa Rica



Homegrown terrorists elevate risk, Ms. Napolitano says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the terrorist threat against the United States is evolving and, in some ways, may be at its most heightened state since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Ms. Napolitano told the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday that al-Qaida still poses a threat to the U.S. despite its diminished capabilities.

She said the U.S. also faces threats from a number of al-Qaida associated groups, which have shown an increased emphasis on recruiting Americans and other Westerners to carry out attacks.

The director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, Mike Leiter, said he considers the Yemen-based offshoot,  al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the most significant
 risk to the United States. He said radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the group's leaders, is using the Internet to talk directly to Americans.

The U.S. Army psychologist charged in the deadly 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, had been in e-mail contact with the U.S.-born al-Awlaki.

Intelligence officials have said al-Awlaki recruited and trained Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the Nigerian man charged with attempting to blow up an airliner flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

Ms. Napolitano said her department is working to provide state and local law enforcement with the information and resources they need to combat the threat of violent extremism within their own communities.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 29

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Mexican troops rescue
47 suspected kidnap victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Military officials say Mexican soldiers have rescued 47 suspected kidnap victims during a drug trafficking investigation.

Authorities say the 44 Guatemalan migrants and three Mexicans were found locked in a house in Reynosa  Tuesday.

Officials say no arrests have been made in connection with the apparent kidnappings. Mexican officials have not publicly commented on who might be responsible for the kidnappings.

Last August, 72 migrants from Central and South American were found slain on a ranch in Mexico.

Mexican officials say the Zetas drug cartel was responsible for those killings.

Cuba gets undersea cable
for Internet via Venezuela


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A ship laying fiber optic cable has arrived in Cuba from Venezuela to improve Internet service.

The 1,600-kilometer undersea cable linking Cuba with northern Venezuela is expected to be operational in July.

Officials say the new fiber optic cable will increase the Internet download speed in Cuba by 3,000 times.

Cuban minister of information and telecommunication officials applauded the improvements brought by fiber optics, but said the cable is not a magic wand. Cuba still needs to make infrastructure improvements, they said.

Cuba estimates 1.6 million of its 11 million citizens currently have limited access to the Internet.

U.S. government frowns
on return of Haiti's Aristide


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday the early return to Haiti of exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide would be an unfortunate distraction from the country’s run-off presidential election campaign. The former leader, who has lived in South Africa for the last several years, has been granted a Haitian passport.

Officials here are not saying what the United States has told the Haitian and South African governments about Aristide’s prospective return home.

But the State Department is making clear publicly that it would consider such a move, in the midst of the campaign for Haiti’s March 20 presidential run-off election, a bad idea.

Aristide has been in South Africa most of the time since fleeing Haiti in 2004 amid a popular rebellion.

The former Roman Catholic priest became Haiti’s first democratically-elected president in 1991 but was quickly ousted by the military.

He was restored to power after U.S. intervention in 1994 but driven from office a decade later amid charges of corruption and autocratic rule.

After former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier made a surprise return from exile last month, Aristide has said he, too, would like to return home.

But it would come at a sensitive time as Haiti struggles to recover from last year’s devastating earthquake, and a bitterly disputed first-round president vote in late November.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said he is unaware of specific travel plans by  Aristide but that the United States would hate to see any action that introduces divisiveness into the election process.

"I think that we would be concerned that if former president Aristide returns to Haiti before the election, it would prove to be an unfortunate distraction," said Crowley. "The people of Haiti should be evaluating the two candidates that will participate in the runoff, and that I think should be their focus."

The State Department also criticized former leader Duvalier’s return but later welcomed steps to prosecute him for corruption during his rule.

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Biologist's work displayed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres Ferrer is exhibiting objects collected by Rafael Lucas Rodríguez Caballero, a noted biologist and botanist who lived in San Ramón.

Rodríguez was born there in 1915 and studied for a time in the United States. He received his doctorate at the University of California-Berkeley. He created the biology department at the Universidad de Costa Rica in 1956 that later became the Escuela de Biología. There are 43 paintings, four chess sets, other small objects and books and diaries of research that came from the family. Rodríguez died in 1981.

The exhibition is open until Feb. 28 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.


Social Security Q&A today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Federal Benefits Unit of the U.S. Embassy is conducting a question-and-answer session today starting at 9:30 a.m. Topics include U.S. Social Security Administration Programs, including retirement, auxiliaries and disability, said the embassy.
 
The location is at Hacienda Valle del Sol, 4 kilometers west of Forum # 1 on the road to Ciudad Colon.

An afternoon session is scheduled to run from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Power outage in Escazú

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If you live in a certain section of San Rafael de Escazú you probably are not reading this becuse the power company said it would be cutting off the electricity from 7 a.m. to noon.

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz said it was installing a new transformer. The area concerned is between the Condominio Condados del Country and Apartamentos Terrazú but does not include those living units.

Yale singers mark 150th

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Yale University Glee Club is the nation’s third oldest collegiate chorus. What began as a group of friends serenading passersby has grown into a powerhouse vocal ensemble. This year marks its 150th anniversary, and this month, decades' worth of Yale Glee Club alumni head to New Haven, Connecticut, for a reunion. 

Singing has always been a big part of life at Yale.  Art major - later actor - Vincent Price and music major - later minister - William Sloane Coffin sang in the Glee Club.  And so did Cole Porter, one of America’s most popular composers, who wrote a football song celebrating Yale’s mascot, "Handsome Dan the Bulldog."

Seventy-five years worth of Glee Club members were scheduled to take to the stage together at the reunion, from Stowe Phelps, class of 1939, through current Glee Club freshmen, class of 2014.
 






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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 29

An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
Two judicial flaws create grossly unfair situations

Wednesday a news story about a Florida court case illustrated some deficiencies in Costa Rican law.

We have no way of knowing who will prevail in the Florida case. A former businessman here alleged in his suit that Costa Rican lawyers conspired with some of his investors to bring false criminal charges against him and that these continuing efforts destroyed the company he ran here.

However, in bringing the case, the lawyer, Craig A. Brand, pointed out some serious problems with Costa Rican law.

Anyone is vulnerable to private court cases because any lawyer can file such a case, including criminal cases. Frequently lawyers will file a private criminal case even while they know the case is a tissue of lies. The purpose is strategic.

Brand said lawyers did so to him in an effort to extort money. Perhaps they did. But we know of other situations when such cases have been filed to stop civil cases when it appears one side would lose.

This is a typical and reprehensible technique used here. The real problem is that there is no mechanism in place for judges
 to throw out weak or fake cases at an early stage. Such actions usually have to go to a full trial, causing great expense to the victimized individuals and frequently delaying justice.

The second aspect illustrated by the Brand case is that a judge can issue a prohibition against someone leaving the country and the subject of the order does not find out until he or she is at the airport. No one should be the subject of a secret judicial order. Each person should have the right to contest the order quickly before a judge. That means the the judiciary should notify the person who is the subject of the impedimento de salida order.  Such orders should not languish in secret in the immigration computer system for months or years until someone has invested money in air tickets and travel.

Again, these orders can be used strategically to bring pressure on an individual whether for legal or private reasons. The orders frequently are placed against foreign expats because opposing lawyers can argue that the individual might flee.

Both of these issues are grossly unfair. The sad part is that everyone in the judiciary and in government knows it and they do nothing to remedy the unfairness.
— Feb. 10, 2011


An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
Time has come to end disgusting practice of shark finning

Costa Rica needs to live up to its environmentalist reputation by banning the practice of shark finning in its waters and to forbid the shipment of shark fins.

So far the country has bobbed and weaved but failed to take decisive steps to crack down on this despicable practice.

A lower-court judge once again has stifled efforts to bring some kind of oversight to this practice. The judge, Rosa Cortes Morales, acted at the request of Mariscos Wang S.A., Porta Portese S.A. and Transportes el Pescador S.A. to annul an agreement that would make shark finners dump their cargo at a public dock in Puntarenas.

For obvious reasons, these ravagers of the seas prefer to hide their cargo by unloading at friendly private docks.

The court decision was reported by the Programa de Restauración de las Tortugas Marinas, an environmental group that has been fighting shark finning for years.

The agreement was between the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuacultura and the Ministerio de Obras Pública y Transportes. The effect of the agreement was to require shark fishermen to obey the law.

Judge Cortez took the unusual step of throwing out the agreement without hearing from the other side because the shark finners and their wholesalers claimed irreparable damage, according to the decision. They would be damaged by abiding by the law.

There is more to come in this legal process, but Round One goes to the shark finners.

They say that people cannot comprehend large numbers. To say that 200,000 persons died in the Haitian earthquake does not have the emotional impact of seeing the damaged body of a single Haitian baby.

That may be true with shark finning. In 2006 the first quantitative study of sharks harvested for their fins estimates that as many as 73 million sharks are killed each year worldwide. This number is three times higher than was reported originally by the United Nations, said the study.
shark fins
Programa de Restauración de Tortugas Marinas photo
Shark fins drying on a Puntarenas rooftop

That number is hard to fathom. But the adjacent photo shows a number of shark fins, and each represents an animal dumped back in the ocean to die. The photo came from the Programa de Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, which reported that the photo shows a Puntarenas rooftop being used to dry shark fins. The photographer had to flee.

From time to time government officials take note of shark finning. When the film "Sharkwater" played in San José, then-legislator Ofelia Taitelbaum, a former biology professor, said she would introduce a bill to ban the practice. Nothing ever came of it.

Ms. Taitelbaum is now the defensora de los habitantes and would seem to be in a position to follow through if she were not just posturing in 2007.

The general belief is that Costa Rican officials have not cracked down on shark finning because Asian governments that provide aid to the country have an interest in the practice continuing. Shark fins are used in Asia cooking, although nutritionally they are less adequate than many other meals. Perhaps the new stadium, a gift from China, should be called the Arena of Dead Sharks.              
 — Feb. 7, 2011


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An A.M. Costa Rica editorial
At some point there must be a reason to discard pacifism

By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica does not seem to be having much success finding international support to counter Nicaragua's invasion of a small patch of national soil.

A Costa Rican letter writer Monday said this:

"I am certain that if you asked civilized, average Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans if they believe that that patch of God-forsaken land is worth the life of one single person on either side, they would respond with a resounding NO! Costa Ricans don’t go to war at the drop of a hat, not because we are 'cowards with no backbone,' but because we are smart and educated."

Much has been made of this country's tradition of existing without an army. Also highly valued is the tradition of neutrality.

Both are pragmatic positions what have morphed into myth.  José Figueres Ferrer abolished the army after he won the country's civil war. He had good, pragmatic reasons. The army in many countries is the likely source of rebellion. Later in life he said that his decision had a sound philosophical basis, too.

Costa Rican school children are encouraged to believe that Costa Rica is special because it does not have an army. The money they would have spent on military has been spent on education, social services and infrastructure, so the theory goes.

Clearly it has not been spent on roads and bridges.
President Luis Alberto Monge declared the country to be neutral when it appeared that Costa Rica would be swept into the Nicaraguan civil war. There was a recent ceremony praising that pragmatic decision.

Can Costa Rica be neutral in all things? We know it is neutral with regard to the Taliban suppression of women in Afghanistan. Other nations and the United Nations have taken up that fight.

But where does Costa Rica draw the line? Perhaps the letter writer is correct and that a small chunk of national territory is not worth fighting for.  After all, the Isla Calero appears to be mostly a home for large mosquitoes.

But if Nicaraguan forces move down the Río Colorado deep into Costa Rica, is that worth fighting for? How about Guanacaste? If Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega wants that land back after 186 years, is that worth fighting for?

President Laura Chinchilla seems to think that there should be a line drawn. She has beefed up the northern border with heavily armed police.

Myths of neutrality and the effectiveness of international law often clash with realities. Clearly no one can be neutral in the face of Nazi aggression and concentration camps. Nor can one  be neutral when one country calls for the elimination of another country.

At least the citizens cannot remain neutral and claim any pretensions to moral superiority.

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