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(506) 223-1327         Published Friday, March 7, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 48            E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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Hookup to third undersea data cable set for July
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will hook up with a third undersea international data cable in July, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said Thursday.

The cable will be by Global Crossing, and it will be in the Pacific. The country now is connected to the world with two undersea cables, the Maya 1 and the Arcos, and both are in the Caribbean.

The cable will come ashore at Esterillos de Parrita, Puntarenas, and a facility is being constructed there. From that point the cable will be connected
to the nation's data distribution system that carries, among other signals, international Internet.
 The telecommunications monopoly said it was investing $30 million in the project, which was described as being on time. When the company announced the project in May 2006, it said the cable would be hooked up by late 2007.

The U.S.-based Global Crossing has an undersea cable that runs from Panamá to Los Angeles.

The increased bandwidth provided by the additional cable is critical to the Internet development of the country for voice-over-Internet telephone calls and Internet television and teleconferencing, and the telecommunications monopoly said that the addition of the Pacific cable would increase the nation's competitivity.

lamp vendor at festival
A.M. Costa Rica photos/Elise Sonray
Luigi Pina and Sandra Campos of Ulivie Lamps were early exhibitors at the festival. They are among the many vendors of unusual items.
Weekend is time for the big city summer arts festival
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Parque España in San José will be hosting the municipality's summer celebration this weekend with activities and craft markets to entertain the family.

Tents filled the park Thursday, selling everything from coffee filters to Shrek masks, in preparation for the real start of the Festival de Verano Transitarte 2008, which is at 10 a.m. today.

The Municipalidad de San José claims that the festival, which is the fifth one of its kind, is its most important cultural event of the year.

Included in the evening inauguration will be a fashion show, a rock concert with the band Tango India, and a firework display.

Five designers will be showing their creations in a show that will incorporate dancing.

One designer, Camila Calvo Camacho, has named her collection "urban fantasy," a series of outfits for girls between the age of 15 and 22 who want to stand out. Another, Vanessa Messeguer Soto, uses the influences of the different types of animals in Costa Rica in her evening dresses.

The program for Saturday and Sunday will include music, dance, art, theatre, storytelling and literature, food and sports, all held in the Parque España and the adjacent Jardin de Paz, just outside the Centro Nacional de la Cultura in downtown San José. Activities will run from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. The park is just south of the multistory building of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros on Avenida 7. 
mascaras for festival
These full-body masks are mostly the size for children and feature 'Shrek' star Fiona.

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marijuana stash
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Agents do a bit of weed control in Santa Cruz

Pacific coast marijuana farm
found being operated by teen

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents in Santa Cruz discovered a marijuana farm being run by a 17-year-old boy, said the Judicial Investigation Organization Thursday. 

Judicial investigation agents seized and destroyed 46 plants located on a property off the highway to Tamarindo, they said. The agents detained the 17-year old when he came to water the plants in the morning, according to a spokeswoman. The plants were grown on a property in Los Ranchos, said the judicial report.

The marijuana was between 40 cms. (about 16 inches) high and 1.3 meters (about 51 inches) high, according to the  Judicial Investigation Organization. Agents destroyed all of the plants, some which were on the property and some on the nearby mountain, said reports.

The minor was set free but must follow preventative measures, said a judicial spokeswoman.

Veterinarian won't do time
for needlessly killing dog

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Heredia court ruled Thursday that a veterinarian who killed a dog at the request of a priest would not receive any prison time, said a court spokeswoman.

The case of Camila the dog aroused much distress in the animal rights community and they were hoping for a strong sentence. The Sociedad Protectora de Animales was the group that took the dog's case to court, said a court spokeswoman.

According to the court documents, the veterinarian, Sujeily Retana Solano, killed the dog by injection at the request of a priest from Tibás in January 2005, according to the court. News reports at the time said that the priest was unhappy because the stray dog would walk into his church during services and was aggressive. The priest recieved a fine for his role.

The veterinarian was brought to court because she had not been fully enrolled as such at the time of the event and was running a pet shop. Subsequently he became enrolled in the Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios.

Juvenile must do 10 years
in case of triple homicide

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A juvenile court sentenced a 17-year-old boy charged with triple murder to 10 years in prison Tuesday, said a judicial spokeswoman.

A group of three men and the minor are suspected of murdering the victims last October in Terjarcillo, Alajuelita. The three victims were all under 25 years old, according to judicial reports. The minor was charged with the killings of Luis Fernando Barret Alterno, 19, Carlos Heriberto Araya Solano, 24, and Yeimer Fauricio Aburto Ocampo, 19. The remaining three adult suspects in the murder case are still awaiting trial, said a court spokeswoman.

The Juzgado Penal Juvenil in San José furthered the minor's preventative prison time for two more months in addition to his 10-year sentence, said the court report. That would be the time for the usual appeals process to take place.

The minor was also found guilty on counts of aggression, aggravated threats and aggravated robbery, said court reports. The court in Hatillo is holding the three remaining suspects in preventative detention, said a judicial spokeswoman.

Constitution court finds
against president of court

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court took the unusual step this month of finding against Luis Paulino Mora, the president of the Corte Supreme de la Justicia. The court, in a decision released Thursday, told the court president that he must insure that a waste water treatment plant is built for a new court building being erected in Guápiles.

Neighbors had complained that the planned septic system and waste water well would jeopardize an existing water source. The court agreed. It also ordered the transport ministry to build a pedestrian bridge at the site of the new Tribunales del II Circuito Judicial building within a year. The bridge would be over busy highway 32, the main road to the Caribbean coast from San José.

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Central American presidents meet on EU trade Wednesday
By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San Jose will be the stage for a meeting of all of Central America's presidents, except the president of Panamá, in an attempt to come to a regional agreement on how to deal with the European Union.

Talks will surround the proposed Association Agreement between Central American and the European Union, which is targeted at enhancing political dialog between the two regions and includes space for a trade agreement.

The meeting, which will take place Wednesday at Casa Presidencial, will aim to speed up the process in order to settle an agreement with Europe during 2009.

Discussion will also consider the events of the second round of negotiations over the agreement, which took place in Brussels between Feb. 25 and 29. There, the leaders exchanged ideas about the base that the agreement will rest upon and 12 trade sub-groups also met.
Participant countries are currently finalizing the preparation of their respective offers on trade in goods and services, which will be presented March 20, before the third round of negotiations start in San Salvador, El Salvador, April 14.

Problems with the agreement include the fact that Europe requires the Central American countries to ratify the Statutes of Rome of the International Penal Court, which only Honduras and Costa Rica have so far signed.

During the first round, held in Costa Rica in October, the Central American states changed 45 percent of the wording of the communication and political chapters proposed by the EU, which refused to negotiate with a divided region. 

Taking part will be President Oscar Arias Sánchez, President Antonio Saca of El Salvador, President Álvaro Colom, of Guatemala, President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras and President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, as well as the chancellors of each country.

Panamá has not yet formally joined the negotiations.

Auto parts store owner guns down robber carrying shotgun
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A store owner shot and killed a man trying to rob his auto parts shop in Desamparados Thursday, said a Fuerza Pública spokesman.

Readers comment on guns HERE!

A group of four men pulled up to the auto body store in a green vehicle with plans to rob the place, said William Lopéz Morales, a Fuerza Pública official in San Miguel. Three of the men entered the San Miguel shop, Auto Decoracíon Euro Elite, and one was wielding a 12-gauge shotgun, said Lopéz. “The owner was prepared because these kinds of stores get a lot of trouble,” said López, adding “It was in self defense,” he added.

The man who was killed was Marco Tulio Valverde Jiménez, 29, according to the Fuerza Pública. Three other suspects were arrested and were being held by the San
Antonio police delegation Thursday evening. They will most likely be transferred to Guadalupe for the night, said López.

The owner of the store, Christian Alberto Villalobos González, will probably not get any sentence, said López. “Everything involved in the case points to pure self defense,” said López.  Villalobos was being held by the Judicial Investigation Organization Thursday night for further questioning, said López.

Villalobos shot Valverde in his left side. The Cruz Roja declared him dead at the scene, said López. The three suspects arrested were Diego Vásquez Rojas, Umberto Anderson Grando, and Steven Fonseca Alvarado, according to López. The car the robbers used was reported to be locked and still in front of the auto store Thursday night.

Agents from the Judicial Investigation Organization will examine it today, said López. “There may still be more arms in the car,” he said, “it is hard to tell because the windows are tinted.”

Airport taxi operator gets a rate increase in exchange for installing meters
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The taxi operator at Juan Santamaría airport has won a rate increase of from 9.8 to 13 percent. In exchange, each taxi must be equipped with a meter within three months.

The decision came from the Authoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos, and it was announced Thursday. The company, Taxis Unidos Aeropuerto International Juan Santamaría, sought an increase of from 12 to 34 percent.

Airport taxis do not have meters now, and the fee is a flat
charge based on the estimated distance of the trip. The rates approved this week continue to provide for slightly higher rates for microbuses. The rate for a typical sedan went from 615 colons per kilometer to 675 or about $1.36. In contrast city taxis charge 405 colons for the first kilometer.

Microbus drivers will collect the same rate for the first kilometer but subsequent kilometers will also be 675 in contract to the sedan's 555.

The rates go into effect when they are published in the La Gaceta official newspaper. That is scheduled for Thursday.

Returning home is quicker than getting back in the groove
Home again and happy to be here.  I am getting reacclimated to the everyday routine and life I had almost established (after leaving the Residencia) before I left for Guatemala.   It is actually easier for me to adjust to a vacation routine in a foreign country than it is to readjust to my own routine back home, probably because someone else is running things, and all I have to do is listen and follow the leader.

Guatemala, I believe I was told (if I was listening well), means "land of trees."  Perhaps, but I found the trees and greenery scrubby and dusty looking compared to the still richly green leaves on the trees of Costa Rica that I can see just outside my window.  True, their volcanoes are more impressive than the ours, but an impressive volcano is a dangerous volcano.  All right, enough.  You get the idea, I am happy to be home.

The problem is getting back to my old routine and comfort level.  To do that I have shopped at the Auto Mercado in Plaza Mayor, (where the rise in prices had me shopping even more frugally than usual.) I visited my current favorite casino at the Crowne Plaza (a/k/a/ Corrobici) and had my blood pressure checked at my friendly local farmacia, fortunately before I went to the casino. 

Before all of that, of course, I tuned on TV and the news.  Being Sunday and the first weekend of the month, the network stations were dark.  I guess Amnet must renegotiate each month.  So I got only cable news and for a short time, C-Span.  Nothing much has changed, except what I feared — the world is in even worse shape than it was when I was keeping a close eye on things.  And CNN’s logo should be a man beating a dead horse. Right now they are letting the rest of the world go by as they give us every possible view of the primary competition in the U.S.  Hillary is back and John McCain has the Republican nomination sewed up. Hillary’s accomplishment had me singing “Stayin’ Alive,” the second had me thinking, "Bob Dole revisited."  

And the final return to my comfort zone: food.  I had that hamburger, but hamburgers are not really my comfort food, and it was not very satisfying.  I think you have to be there (in the restaurant) to get the full effect. So I turned on the Food Network.  More specifically, Mario Batali.  Of all of the chefs, he is the most comforting for 
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

me to watch.  His voice is soothing and easy, and he is so knowledgeable, I always learn something.  I seldom make anything he demonstrates because I find his recipes as complicated as were those of Julia Child, and then I never have the right ingredients.  On 9/11, 2001, I turned to Mario when those burning towers became too painful for me to watch one more time. 

This time, I actually decided to try what he was cooking.  Instead of veal I pounded some boned chicken thighs, sprinkled them with the ingredients I had, which were not what he used, and rolled them, stuck in some toothpicks and sautéed them.  I also made tomato sauce (Mario and I make it the same way), and began to feel pretty much at home again.  When Saturday comes and I go to the feria, I will be completely back to Costa Rica.  Of course, writing my column and catching up with the news in A.M. Costa Rica has helped.

And last, and perhaps the most comforting part of being back home is the news this week in this newspaper about the secret weapons that Costa Rica has devised against invasion from any bordering country.

As I mentioned in my last column, the highways in Guatemala are far superior to those in Costa Rica (and the drivers seem saner).  The roads of Nicaragua are also much better.  The reason, I have argued, is that both countries have been involved in wars and good roads are necessary for moving tanks and troops. 

Well, Costa Rica has neither tanks nor troops, but we do have potholes and tramities (bureaucratic red tape).  Now I can explain to dubious friends how Costa Rica expects to protect itself should some country decide to invade it. And, thanks to these cleverly designed highways and non existent city addresses plus the complicated laws, I feel perfectly safe being back home.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 7, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 48

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Women, on their day, are invited to a free Saprissa game
By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Women get in free to the typical male domain of the football stadium this Saturday, as the nation's favorite purple monster acknowledges International Women's Day.

Saprissa football team, whose mascot is a cuddly lavender-colored dragon, will confront Puntarenas F.C. in the "cave of the monster," routinely known as Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, and will be inviting the fairer sex to come and support them without paying the usual 2,000-6,000 colons ($4-12) entrance fee.

Free entrance is restricted to certain parts of the stadium, and men can buy tickets for the game, which starts at 8 p.m. from outlets such as Mas x Menos, SapriStore, and the Web site

Women around the world have been celebrating their achievements on March 8 since the turbulent 1910s. The date was chosen for the Russian women who conducted a strike in 1917 after the death of 2 million Russians in the First World War.

After four days of strike, the czar abdicated and women were granted the right to vote. The movement to create a day specifically for women had, however, been gathering momentum in the run-up to the war as women expressed
solidarity in opposition to the war, and the United States celebrated its first National Women's Day in 1909.

Events are now held around the world to mark the annual celebration. Women in Costa Rica who do not fancy spending the evening at the football game, can join in celebrations at other institutions.

The Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres Ferrer will be holding a program from 3:30 p.m. about women in art, enjoying the participation of various women who take part in the Costa Rican cultural scene. These include winner of the national prize for short stories Sandra Rivas, singers Karina Campos and Sandra Rivas, poet Leda García, sculptor Leda Astorgal, writer and artist Raquel Villarreal, and graphic designer Gabriela Soto.

Art depicting women's unity with nature will be on display at the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones from today until the end of the month, also in commemoration of the day. The works by Sonia Villata depict symbols that unite women with water, earth, air, sun and other naturalistic elements.

The exhibition will be housed in the second floor of the building, giving people something to look at when they are getting their cédulas. It will be open from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. The Tribunal will be closed for Semana Santa from the end of the business day March 14 to 7 a.m. March 24, however.

Nicaragua's Ortega cuts ties with Colombia over raid
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nicaragua has cut diplomatic ties with Colombia in response to a Colombian military attack on rebels inside Ecuador.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega announced the decision Thursday during a visit by his Ecuadorean counterpart, Rafael Correa to Managua. Ortega said Nicaragua joins in solidarity with Ecuador and Venezuela, which also have cut ties with Colombia after Saturday's raid that killed more than 20 leftist rebels.

The Nicaraguan leader accused Colombia's President Álvaro Uribe of using the military to carry out political terrorism.
Ortega said Nicaragua was cutting ties with Colombia because of repeated military threats by Colombia.

Wednesday, Nicaragua's ambassador to the Organization of American States criticized a resolution that said the Colombian attack was a violation of Ecuador's sovereignty. Colombia and Ecuador said they were satisfied with the resolution.  The Nicaraguan diplomat said the 34-nation group should pass a measure formally condemning Colombia for the cross-border attack.

Nicaragua also has criticized Colombia's naval forces for their actions in a dispute over maritime claims in the Caribbean. In December, the Hague-based International Court of Justice ruled that three disputed islands belonged to Colombia.

U.S. seeks diplomatic solution, Secretary of State Rice says
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States wants to see a diplomatic solution to the rising dispute pitting Venezuela and Ecuador against Colombia.

Ms. Rice spoke in Brussels Thursday about the Latin American crisis following Saturday's military raid by Colombia on Colombian rebels inside Ecuador.

Rice warned against allowing the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia to continue to operate.  The U.S. considers the rebels a terrorist group. The rebels raise funds by massive drug smuggling and kidnappings.

Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos, also in Brussels, said his country does not want a fight with Ecuador and Venezuela.  He reiterated his country will not send troops to its border.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez sent thousands of troops to the Venezuelan-Colombian border in response to the Saturday raid, but says he is not seeking an armed conflict.

Wednesday, Chávez threatened to nationalize Colombian businesses in Venezuela.  Escalation of the conflict could jeopardize the $6 billion in annual trade between the two countries.

Both Chávez and his Ecuadorian counterpart, Rafael Correa, have condemned the cross-border attack that killed more than 20 Colombian rebels, including a top commander known as Raúl Reyes.

The Organization of American States approved a resolution Wednesday calling the attack a violation of Ecuador's 
sovereignty and international law, but stopped short of condemning the action.

Colombian officials have defended the incursion, and Colombian President Álvaro Uribe has accused Venezuela of financing and supporting the rebels.

Tom Casey, State Department deputy spokesman, said in Washington that he hopes the resolution by the Organization of American States leads to arrangements among governments in the region to deal with groups like the rebels, for which he said there is universal rejection except by Venezuela.

"I think most of us, including I think most countries in the region, are puzzled by the insistence on Venezuela's part in trying to insert itself into an issue that frankly doesn't really concern them," he said. The only issue that should concern them is the possibility, and the probability, that the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias has also used Venezuelan territory, or Venezuelan resources to conduct its operations against Colombia and Colombian citizens, he said.

Colombian officials say the cross border raid yielded computer documents showing large-scale financial support for the rebels by the Venezuelan president.

The situation has prompted a call from U.S. Rep. Ileana Ross-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, for the Bush administration to consider listing Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism, though spokesman Casey said it is premature to consider such action.

Casey said the Colombia-Ecuador crisis figures to be a major issue in a trip to Brazil and Chile next week by Secretary of State Rice. The trip has been long-planned.

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British to begin national ID card plan with foreigners
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Britain plans to introduce a controversial identification card plan in the coming months with foreign workers first in line to get the compulsory IDs.

The British government is set to begin issuing compulsory national identification cards later this year. During a speech in London, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith explained why.

"As a government we have a duty to ensure that the national identity scheme supports our national security and that it provides a robust defense against those who seek to use false identity to mask criminal or terrorist activity," explained Ms. Smith.

Non-European foreigners will have to provide fingerprints and personal data for the ID cards by November.

In 2009, migrants from other European countries and British nationals in certain security risk jobs, such as airline staff and baggage handlers will also be required to sign up for the new ID cards. Students and young people will be encouraged to voluntarily sign up the following year.

By 2017 the government hopes to have most Britons enrolled in the plan, but new legislation will be required to make the ID cards compulsory.

Smith repeated the government's argument that having
national ID cards and an accompanying data base will protect citizens against identity theft, control illegal immigration, increase public security and guard against terrorism.

"Many of the terrorists convicted in recent years have routinely used multiple passports, bank accounts and other forms of identity," added Smith.

The government argues that because each person's identification card will be linked to specific fingerprints, it will make it harder for terrorists or criminals to steal that identity.

The ID card plan is estimated to cost more than $10 billion during the next decade.

Opponents of the plan say it is too costly, will not enhance security and will only erode civil liberties. They also question the government's ability to handle the personal data securely, citing recent high profile losses of sensitive personal information, including people's banking details.

Other European countries have national identification-card systems. In some countries such as Germany, national ID cards are compulsory, while in others such as France they are widely used, but not mandatory.

The United States has no national ID cards, but drivers' licenses are so widely used as every day identification.

Our readers views on guns as crime control method
Rising crime is the fault
of government, reader says

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The time has come for the government to pay attention to the crime problem in Costa Rica. I do some limited tours and have advised many to not go to Jacó.

Why? Because I know there is a very good chance they will get ripped off in some way. Many people travel here from all over the world to enjoy the people and the scenery. All it will take is one rape and murder like the one in Aruba, and you can say good bye to millions of tourist dollars.

So for now, buy a gun and defend your property and family. In the United States it is in our constitution the right to bear arms. There are very few crimes as in home invasions in the U.S.A. because the bad guys know there is a very good chance the homeowner will shoot back.

I wish we did not need that here, but we do, and it's the fault of the government for not having in place a fingerprint system and a set of laws that remove repeat offenders from our streets. So the people will start to do the governments role and resort to vigilantism.
Kevin Burdock
Ciudad Colon

Those who want a gun
should have choice, too

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I would like to comment on the letter written by Valerie Hopson in response to P. Meister’s concerning gun control. In my opinion, there is no better example of how people will  “give up a pound of freedom for an ounce of security.“ In reference to the criminals actions against the public, she states that  “Another person just trying to live their life, and going through a rough patch, or maybe — especially here in Costa Rica, just trying to feed their family. I do not think that violent death is the answer to a hunger or poverty problem.“ She also says her letter is “NOT coming from a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association.”

1.) It is quite obvious her letter is “NOT from a from a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association.” The NRA is about preserving rights and choices to bear arms in the U.S. that our forefathers earned with their blood on a battlefield revolting against a tyranny. And NO, they weren’t referring to hunting rights with the Second Amendment. If you question it, read some quotes from John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and others when referring to guns for protection and vigilance against government.

Violent crime back then was almost non-existent. Could it be due to the fact that every household was armed? But forget that, we are talking about Costa Rica. Not your Canadian or U.S. examples, correct?
A.M. Costa Rica
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2.) When you say the criminal is just robbing people to “feed their family,” I know plenty of good Costa Rican people that aren’t financially well off, but they aren’t pulling stickups to feed their family. There are also other legal ways to obtain food in Costa Rica. I think I might be able to point out another “possible” reason for violent robbery that you might have missed. Did you ever hear the words “DRUG PROBLEM?"

I believe in preserving freedom and personal choices. Gun owners aren’t out there trying to force rhetoric-spewing liberals to carry guns, so don’t try to force gun owners to give up their choice to carry one when it comes to protection of one's self.

If you want to become food for the criminals, who, as you say, are “ trying to live their life, going through a rough patch, and trying to feed their family “ I guarantee no one will infringe on your right to do so. When I choose to arm myself to protect myself and my family, don’t infringe on mine.
Kris Winters

Guns are not the cause
of violence in Costa Rica

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Ms. Valerie Hopson is clueless if she thinks law abiding citizens with guns are the cause of violent crime in Costa Rica.
On the contrary, law abiding citizens are the victims of crime — not the cause of it. Ms. Hopson sees a moral equivalence between criminals who rob or murder at gunpoint and their victims — that seek only to defend themselves. This is moral relativism run amok.
In her twisted view, use of a firearm to protect your family from grave harm should be avoided so as not to potentially harm poor and hungry people. Say what? Who would ever allow their family to be murdered or brutalized if they could reasonably put a stop to it?
Wake up, toots. Truly hungry people aren't stealing food at gunpoint in grocery stores around here. Nor does violent crime occur only in bad neighborhoods, as you suggest.  That's never been true in Canada, either. So, you should know better.
Even so, hunger is no excuse for armed violence. Ticos are a very generous people more than willing to share whatever they have with the less fortunate — just ask them. Nobody ever needed a gun to get a meal in this country.    
But let's face facts, it's a lust for easy money, drugs and property which make felons turn to crime and violence. And quite obviously, rape is not a consequence of mere hunger, at least, not for food.
Ms. Hopson's counsel is passive acceptance of the fact that armed criminals roam the streets and that we should just "take care and think." Well, if it works for her, fine.
But the next time you're being brutalized, mugged, raped, or have intruders at your door — see how much good simply taking care and thinking will do you.
Naturally, firearms are not for everyone. You must have a mature nature and be thoroughly knowledgeable of the law, your weapon and your responsibilities.  As such, lawful gun owners can do much to assist the police in apprehending felons and bringing them to justice.
This is what used to be known as good citizenship. By actively supporting our local police we make our neighborhoods safer and more secure for everyone. 
Ms. Hopson's passive approach and mindless gun prohibitions would make helpless victims of us all and do nothing to disarm career criminals.  Ironically, she would actually foster more violent crime as felons have less reason to fear a docile and unarmed society or a police force already strained to the breaking point.  
Leo Leonowicz

Philosophical debate called
luxury in current situation

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Ms. Hopson's letter regarding her philosophy on the need to bear arms for self-protection in Costa Rica was sincere and no doubt applicable in a developed nation that enjoys well-established law and order. Her argument opposing the need to protect oneself in the heat of an unprovoked and life threatening confrontation is however naive.

I would agree that the example of being eaten alive by a bear in Alaska had holes in it. We should all exercise caution when traveling to places that pose a known threat.

What Ms. Hopson overlooks, in spite of considerable proof, is that we are all now facing the probability of violent confrontations in formerly safe places in broad daylight.

The parking lots of upscale malls, grocery stores, traffic intersections, the streets in front of banks and our own homes are now popular places to stick a gun in someone's face.

She states that there are "alternative courses of action, always to using a pistol." If that were the case, there are people I know who would be alive now and others who wouldn't have suffered gunshot wounds in their own homes.

There is that one critical moment in which the victim knows with certainty that it's kill or be killed. And in that moment there is no time to worry if the gun-wielding assassin is "just going through a rough patch" or "trying to feed their family." Those are not justifiable or acceptable reasons in any society to murder people!

Costa Rica is not a developed nation like Canada, and is suffering a real crisis. It must develop a sound foundation of law and order in order to earn the luxury of philosophical debate. Until then the populace has no choice but to defend itself.
Pamela Ellsworth
Nicoya Peninsula

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 7, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 48

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