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(506) 2223-1327                             Published Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 53                            Email us
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Government acts to provide care in the Talamancas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government said Tuesday that it would take steps to provide better health services to the isolated Alto Telire territory in the Talamancas.

This is a native reserve of some 16,260 hectares, more than 40,000 acres. The population is mainly Bribri and Cabécar, whose occupation of the land long predates the arrival of the Spanish.

The government said that it is planning psychological, medical and nutritional efforts on the reserve. There are reports of badly malnourished and perhaps starving individuals.

The Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social sent teams to the area for the first two weeks of the month and treated 529 patients including 129 children under 5 years, said Casa Presidencial. There are about 1,700 residents there mostly involved in subsistence farming and hunting. The location is in the mountains in southeast Costa Rica not far from the border with Panamá.

Three children were evacuated to Hospital Tony Facio in Limón, and four were placed under observation for various medical situations, officials said.

In addition, Caja workers distributed 1,200 kilos of food that was donated by the Iglesia Vida Abundante, said the government.

The central government announced plans Tuesday to build two medical centers, one in  Piedra Meza and a second in Bajo Bley, this year and next. The cost will be about 700 million colons, about $1.34 million. Already volunteers and private organizations have built three hanging bridges in the region.

Friday a number of public agencies have been asked to send representatives to a meeting in San José to come up with sustainable solutions for the poverty stricken region.

Settlements in the reserve are so remote that sometimes residents have to walk for days to reach medical care and modern conveniences. The security ministry frequently makes medical flights to the region as well as similar remote reserves in the country. There are 24 such territories in Costa Rica and eight distinct native peoples.

The Talamanca area also is frequently

boy carrid to
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
An 8-year-old Cabécar boy is being carried to a Ministerio de Seguridad Pública helicopter after he punctured his leg with a tree branch in Sitio Hilda and lost a lot of blood earlier this month.

victimized by drug gangs, and police spend
months each year seeking out and destroying marijuana plantations.

The Alto Telire became known as central government officials disclosed that it is seeking to develop a mechanism for consulting the native inhabitants. Such consultations are required by treaties for certain projects affecting the native peoples.

Ana Gabriel Zúñiga Aponte, a vice minister of the Presidencia, said that the Costa Rican state has a long list of debts with the native inhabitants throughout history. President Luis Guillermo Solís has just issued a directive that cites the historic debt and said that consultation was a matter of human rights.

The central government has been criticized in the past for overlooking the consultation process with native peoples. That fact came up in protests lodged against plans for a major dam and hydro project of the Río Térreba in southwest Costa Rica.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 53
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Special lottery drawing to honor saint

 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even a gambling enterprise requires marketing, so the national lottery organization is setting up a special, fatter drawing for Sunday to honor San José, the patron of the capital.

The Bible does not say if San José, known in English as Saint Joseph, was a gambling man. But human nature being what it is, there is a good chance he put down a bet or two.

His feast day in Roman Catholicism is Saturday, and the special lottery drawing is Sunday at 7 p.m.

The Junta de Protection Social promised 1.5 billion colons in prizes, about $2.8 million. The top prize is 200 million colons or about $370,000. That’s a far cry from the top prize in the Christmas Gordo, but full sheets of lottery tickets, an entero, is just 12,000 colons, a bit less than $23.

There will be two top prizes, and the profits are distributed to charities and other non-profits. The Junta has been running national lotteries for 170 years.

The Día de San José is not a time for big celebration in Costa Rica, but there are celebrations and special foods in Italian culture.

Our reader’s opinion
Dedicated taxes distort the market

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Hypothecation is bad for everyone.

Before everyone reaches for the dictionary to read about a new illness, let me disappoint you by saying that this refers to taxation in Costa Rica. A hypothecated tax is one dedicated to a particular item of government expenditure. Such taxes appear in U.S. states where citizens get a vote on particular taxes, because the electorate does not trust the government to fund something or with general funds. A.M. Costa Rica has covered the many such taxes in its reports.

The whole $100-billion special districts scandal in the U.S. is an example. Costa Rica is rife with special purposes taxes, probably in the belief that a tax for worthy causes is likely to get support from the people. One effect may be that some organizations build new facilities when there are vacant premises elsewhere.

So why are such taxes bad for everyone? There are several reasons:

They make budgeting income and planning difficult. One problem with any tax is that the amount collected is uncertain. For example, a tax on beer will yield more or less according to consumption. If funding for the Bomberos or the Policia is from a single tax, they do not know how much they will receive. It will vary from year to year. This means that they may have too much. They might spend a surplus on parties. If the tax yield is too little, the government has to bail them out because the service is essential.

Hypothecation makes auditing and control difficult. Letting some government and supported organizations run their affairs in isolation makes overall economic management virtually impossible. If some but not all of a ministry’s budget is from a dedicated tax, it might well spend that money on vital services and still fund parties from the central budget. Dedicated taxes may tempt recipients to give the finger to any audits and attempts at control. In a country of dubious public ethics, this can be a real problem.

Special taxes distort the free markets. The result is certain goods or services are taxed and priced more than others. This may be in the public good, but is as likely to simply bend the economy in fairly random ways. The lobbies for particular industries love such opportunities.

So what is better? If there has to be taxation, it should go into a central pool. This does require open disclosure, honest supervision, auditing and planning. Then there can be no hidden backwaters where the public funds semi-autonomous organizations from single taxes. In addition, a central budget can aggregate the swings and roundabouts of greater or less than expected single taxes to smooth out distortions.

Let us hope that legislators see the opportunity for reform rather than the opportunity to seek their own ends from special purpose taxes.

Chris Clarke
Retired economist and businessman,

News from the Spanish-language press
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 53
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On the way to the U.S.: Coyotes, thieves, gunfire and uncertainty
By Rommel Téllez
Special to A.M. Cuba

By the time this piece gets published, 20-year-old Magalys de Loyola should be arriving to join her mother and sisters in Orlando, Florida.

Hers is not the story of just any gathering.  It is the ending of a tale shared by 7,822 other Cubans who got trapped in Costa Rica on their way to the United States.

Back in November, Costa Rica faced its biggest immigration challenge. Waves, tides and tsunamis of Cubans began to add up in the northern area of Peñas Blancas. The Nicaraguan government had shut its border for those seeking to reach Mexico and the United States.

When Ms. de Loyola arrived to Costa Rica in mid December, the Costa Rican government already had a contingency plan. The national emergency commission, the International Migrants Organization, churches and their volunteers along with crowds of civilians had all organized food and shelter for those in need.

Ms. de Loyola was assigned to a refuge located in La Cruz in the province of  Guanacaste, where she spent almost three months with her husband and her father, all of them trying to keep busy.

Born and raised in the province of Camagüey, Ms. de Loyola, her father and her husband wanted a tourist visa from the U.S. to visit family in Orlando. However, their request was denied on the grounds that they fit the profile of illegal immigrants. It did not take long for the three of them to make up their minds.

Once they found the right person, they sold the house for $20,000. A newer state policy allows citizens to sell property. Then they went after human traffickers, better known as coyotes who would charge them $1,500 per person to get to Panamá.

“You never get to see their faces. They give you a mobile line and ask you to call as soon as you arrive to Ecuador. It’s not complicated. Everyone knows at least someone who knows a trafficker.”

Ecuador was the only country where Cubans could enter without a visa. Once in the territory, calls and messages started to arrive. They were short and concise. “Go,” “wait,” “move again,” “wait” and “get in the truck.”

Ms. de Loyola emphasized that all of these logistics take place during the night and, at least in her case, there were no upfront payments. The only requirement was to be well behaved. 

And so, they continued their travel through Colombia and Panamá, two places that posed a bigger risk.

“In Colombia, Panamá and even Nicaragua, police officers will take your money and values away, use violence and even shoot their guns for intimidation,” said a Cuban musician who has lived in Costa Rica for the past 13 years. He wanted to remain nameless because he said he fears retaliation from the Cuban government.

Ms. de Loyola has no fear because she says she left the island legally. She even goes as far as to say that her trip with the coyotes was flawlessly organized. They took care of every action, every bribe.

Coyote customer service had been so engaging for Ms. de Loyola, that she even tried to continue her way through the jungles of Nicaragua in spite of the government ban.
Cuban woman
Magalys de Loyolaphoto
Magalys de Loyola when she was in a government shelter in La Cruz de Guanacaste.

She couldn’t do it. She was robbed. She returned to the camp.

“Well, I didn’t have all the money on me, and my family in the U.S. would send me some cash from time to time,” she said.

So, Ms. de Loyola and his companions decided to wait. Though the Costa Rica government had offered the immigrants a direct flight to Mexico, about 3,500 of them continued their journey with coyotes.

“That’s because they got afraid” says Ms. de Loyola. “At the very beginning people were told that Guatemala and Honduras would open their borders for us. A week later that changed, and we were told about the trip to Mexico. Then that option took so long to start working that people started to run out of money.”

“It’s true we had mattresses or tents and the daily meals,” she added. “But there are always other expenses such as medicine, cell phone charges and other stuff. Many of them panicked and ran away.”

Ms. de Loyola, is quite sure she is going to have a fresh new start once she settles down in Florida. After all, she and her husband are both college graduates in economics. That should smooth things out a bit.
She can go back to the island after 24 months and no penalty would be applied to her. She says she is happy when she thinks about it.

But in spite of the future ahead, she is cautious. And she added her final two cents for other Cubans:

“Think about it thoroughly. If you don’t have a reason don’t do this. It’s hard, dangerous and many have suffered a lot.”

NOTE: This article first appeared in A.M. Cuba, another title of the A.M. Newspapers corporation.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 53
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Researchers urge adaptation to protect coastal areas from sea-level rise
By the University of Georgia news staff

A new study by researchers could help protect more than 13 million American homes that will be threatened by rising sea levels by the end of the century.

It is the first major study to assess the risk from rising seas using year 2100 population forecasts for all 319 coastal counties in the continental U.S. Previous impact assessments use current population figures to assess long-term effects of coastal flooding.

The study is based on analyses by Mathew Hauer for his doctoral work with the University of Georgia, Deepak Mishra of the university’s department of geography and Jason Evans, a former faculty member now with Stetson University. It was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Based on year 2100 population forecasts, the authors report that a 6-foot sea level rise will expose more than 13 million people to flooding and other hazards from rising seas. Florida faces the most risk, where up to 6 million residents could be affected.

One million people each in California and Louisiana also could be impacted.

Some scientists believe worldwide sea levels could rise by 3 to 6 feet by 2100. Even with a 3-foot rise, population trends indicate that more than 4.2 million coastal residents in the continental U.S. would be at risk, according to Hauer.

"The impact projections are up to three times larger than current estimates, which significantly underestimate the effect of sea level rise in the United States," Hauer said. "In fact, there are 31 counties where more than 100,000 residents could be affected by 6 feet of sea level rise."

The data can help policymakers develop practical adaptation strategies for protecting land threatened by frequent and repeated inundation, according to Mishra.

"This research merges population forecasts with sea level rise. It gives policymakers more detailed information to help them assess how sea level rise will affect people and infrastructure," he said.

By employing year 2100 population projections, the data also provide a more accurate measure of potential flooding risks in some of the nation's fastest-growing communities, Hauer said. For example, more than 25 percent of the people living in major urban centers like Miami and New Orleans could face coastal flooding by the end of the century if adaptive measures aren't taken.

"Adaptation strategies are costly, and these are areas of especially rapid population growth, so the longer we wait to implement adaptation measures the more expensive they become," Hauer said.

With a 6-foot rise in sea level, flooding could impact more than 80 percent of the people living in America's three most vulnerable communities: Monroe County, which is the site of the Florida Keys, and two lightly populated counties on the North Carolina coast, Hyde and Tyrrell.

More than 10 percent of the population in Georgia's coastal counties would be impacted by coastal flooding, said the researchers.

Outside of the Southeast, a 6-foot rise in sea level would put at risk more than 16 percent of the population in San Mateo County, California, just south of San Francisco, and over 10 percent of the population in Nassau County, New York, which is on Long Island just east of New York City.

Since the end of the last Ice Age, the sea level has risen about 120 meters. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says that the oceans have risen 200 millimeters, about 8 inches from 1870 to 2000. More accurate measurements by spacecraft show that the oceans have risen 76.13 millimeters since 1993. That’s about three inches.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
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Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
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Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 53
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More changes are announced
for Cuban trade and travel

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The White House announced changes Tuesday to travel and trade restrictions on Cuba, ahead of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to the island nation next week.

The easing of restrictions marked the latest round of efforts to improve relations between the two countries since the formal restoration of diplomatic relations last year. The changes open up educational travel to Cuba for individual Americans, allow Cubans working in the United States to earn salaries and reduce trade and financial barriers to improve business ties between the two countries.

In a briefing call with reporters, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser, said the easing is part of a continued effort to "adjust our policies to empower the Cuban people and improve their lives."

The changes, effective Wednesday, allow for Cuban nationals in non-immigrant status to receive salaries in the United States. U.S. companies also can sponsor Cuban nationals for work in the United States.

The new amendments increase opportunities for people-to-people exchanges, including allowing individual U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba and American support of educational projects in Cuba through grants and scholarships.

Robert Muse, a Washington, D.C.,-based lawyer who specializes in U.S. laws relating to Cuba, said the changes effectively mean there are no restrictions for Americans traveling to Cuba.

"Without saying so, the Obama administration has deregulated travel to Cuba," he said.

John Kavulich, a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Trade and Economic Council, said, "This change in travel was all driven by the airlines, because airlines need to fill seats if they have regularly scheduled service. They need individuals, not just groups."

The U.S. and Cuba are expected to resume scheduled commercial air flights later this year.

Tuesday's changes also included amendments relating to licensing of Cuban exports and cargo, and allowed for Cubans to open U.S. bank accounts from Cuba.

The administration's goal with the monetary policy change is to "re-create what the Cuban Revolution destroyed, a middle class in Cuba. By supporting small businesses, exporting directly to small businesses, that's all about resurrecting the middle class," Kavulich said.

Restrictions on direct U.S. investment in Cuba and Cuban imports to the United States remain in place because of the embargo with Cuba. Tourist travel to Cuba also remains prohibited. The amendments mark the fifth round of changes in Commerce and Treasury restrictions.

Earlier, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the new steps toward normalized relations with Cuba "build on the actions of the last 15 months as we continue to break down economic barriers, empower the Cuban people and advance their financial freedoms, and chart a new course in U.S.-Cuban relations."

Rhodes, in the briefing, said the administration welcomed efforts to engage with Congress on lifting the embargo fully or in part.

"At a certain point, the embargo is an impediment to the very engagement that has a chance of promoting a better life for the Cuban people," he said.

Outstanding U.S. property claims dating back to the early days of the Fidel Castro regime, as well as Cuba’s reparation claims, remain a continuing obstacle in the relationship between the two countries.

Rhodes said the administration believed it could make significant progress in the dialogue regarding those claims.

"The resolution of those claims can also help open up space for American businesses to engage in greater commercial activity with Cuba, so there is some incentive for Cuba to resolve those issues," Rhodes said.

Russian whistleblower’s wife
blames crime probes in death

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The widow of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian intelligence officer who was poisoned in London in 2006, says a recent British public inquiry
Mrs. Litvnenko
Marina Litvinenko
shows that the Russian state was behind his slaying and that his probes into alleged Kremlin ties to organized crime may have played an important role in the decision to kill him.

Speaking Monday in Washington, the widow, Marina Litvinenko, stressed the importance of the British investigation, which was led by Robert Owen, a retired British
High Court judge, and ended in January.

Owen, she said, did an incredible job.

"He not only investigated all the facts of Sasha's death," she said, using her husband’s nickname, "he found a connection of this murder with the Russian state. The Russian state sponsored this crime."

Owen concluded there was a strong probability the two men whom the British authorities accused of poisoning Litvinenko with radioactive polonium-210 at a London hotel in November 2006, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, were acting under the direction of the federal security service, Russia’s main security agency.  Both men have denied involvement in Litvinenko's death.

The retired judge also concluded that Litvinenko's slaying was probably approved by then-security service head Nikolai Patrushev and President Vladimir Putin.

A veteran first of the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency, and then the federal security service, Litvinenko began speaking out against high-level Russian governmental corruption. He also made a number of accusations against Putin. He later gained asylum in Britain with his family.

Mrs. Litvinenko said her husband's investigation of alleged ties between the Kremlin and the Russian mafia might have triggered the decision to kill him.

"Of course, what Sasha touched and what became his last drop when he was killed, is difficult to say," she said. "But it's obviously his ability to investigate the connection of the Kremlin to organized crime. It was very important."

London has called for both Lugovoi, who was elected in 2007 to the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, and Kovtun, a businessman, to be extradited, but Moscow has refused. Russia's constitution prohibits the extradition of citizens to stand trial abroad.

Native Americans expressing
concern over voting rights

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

When Americans go to the polls this November to elect the next U.S. president, Native American groups worry that many of their members will be turned away from the ballot box.

Native Americans won U.S. citizenship more than 90 years ago. Even so, many states denied them, as they did African Americans, the right to vote, subjecting them to poll taxes, literacy tests, harassment and intimidation.

In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act banning such discriminatory practices and giving the federal government the authority to monitor elections to ensure they are fair.

In 2013, however, the Supreme Court defeated a key provision in the Voting Rights Act. As a result, certain states with a history of racial discrimination are no longer required to get pre-clearance from the Federal government before they can make changes to election systems.

Soon afterwards, states began to change the rules.  Some argued that they acted to prevent non-U.S. citizens from voting. But Native Americans and other minority groups complain the new policies discourage them from voting.

Kansas, for example, passed a law requiring voter registrants to provide proof-of-citizenship documents such as birth or naturalization certificates or passports.  Voters have 90 days to produce the documents before the state will remove them from the rolls altogether.

Arizona, which is home to one of the largest Native American populations, in 2014 placed more than 500 registered Navajo voters on what it called a suspense list because they lacked proper street addresses. Indeed, as the Nation noted in 2012, Arizona’s voter registration form includes a large box on which Navajo voters can draw the location of their home in order to determine their precinct.

​North Dakota, where Native Americans represent about 5 percent of the population, requires voters to present identification cards bearing their current residential address. Because many Natives don’t have ID cards or drivers licenses, they are disqualified from voting.

O.J. Semans, an Oglala Sioux, is co-executive director of Four Directions, a nonprofit that promotes Native voting rights across the country. Because his county is not organized, up until just a few years ago, he and other residents of the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota were forced to drive 60 miles to the next county to vote in elections.

“What you are looking at are individuals that have been consistently shown to be in the top 10 poorest counties in the whole United States,” Semans said. “You are looking at unemployment of 70 to 80 percent. And you are looking at one house, five families, three houses, one car. Never mind paying for the gas to get to the next county.”

South Dakota also allows registered voters to vote by mail, but Semans said even that is a hardship for Native Americans.

“If I wanted to vote absentee without going to the county office, I would write them a letter with an affidavit. I would have to find a notary to notarize my signature, saying that this was me,” said Semans. “Then I’d have to go to the post office and mail it, and sometimes, believe it or not, 49 cents for a stamp is kind of hard for some folks to come up with.”

Because many residents in Rosebud don’t have mailing addresses, mail delivery is sporadic, and the mail-in ballot may never arrive. And even if it does, tribal members may have a difficult time filling it out.

“A lot of our elders still speak our traditional language, and they don’t read or write that well,” said Seman. “And if they do manage to fill out the ballot, then they have to go to the post office to mail it back to election authorities.”

So Semans’ and his colleagues negotiated with county commissioners, and ultimately convinced them to open up satellite voting offices on Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian reservations.

It was a costly battle, he said, and in order to pay for it it, a local politician who consults with Four Directions sold off some of his cattle. Semans laughs uproariously at the memory.

“Fighting for the right to vote, we gotta send a white guy to sell his cows so we can get more money to keep going!” he said.

Despite many similar lawsuits across the U.S., states and counties continue to find creative ways to discourage Indians and other minorities from voting, said Laughlin McDonald, a lawyer with the American civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project who has argued many cases on behalf of Native Americans, most recently, Navajo Indians in San Juan County, Utah.

“Voting in that county was typically done in polling places on the Navajo reservation, but in 2014, the county shut down the polling places and adopted a system of mail-in voting,” said McDonald. “It would have taken Native voters four, five, even six hours to drive to the county seat.”

Furthermore, the Voting Rights Act requires San Juan County, among other localities, to provide assistance to Navajos and other minorities who aren’t fluent in English.

“But in San Juan County, the mailing ballots are written only in English, and they don’t provide any way to explain those ballots to Indian voters,” said McDonald. 

The county election commission refused requests to abolish the mail-in system, so the ACLU, the Navajo Human Rights Commission and eleven Navajo tribal members filed suit.

Meanwhile, in Washington, lawmakers have introduced two separate bills that would protect minorities from discriminatory election procedures, but both are stalled, to McDonald’s dismay.

“Congress needs to act,” said McDonald.  “If you don’t participate in the political process you are not only denied the benefits of government but you become the victims of government.”

CVhicago voting
Voice of America photo  
Voters cast ballots in Chicago Tuesday.

Rubio becomes a victim
of latest super Tuesday vote

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, has dropped out of the presidential race and Ohio Gov. John Kasich beat front-runner Donald Trump in the governor's home state on a day of major presidential primary elections Tuesday.

Republican Trump won Florida by a huge margin over second-place finisher Rubio, while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Kasich were far behind. Trump also won the Illinois and North Carolina primaries and appeared to be winning late Tuesday in Missouri by a slight margin.

Florida is a winner-take-all state, meaning Trump will get all 99 delegates without having to split them with the runners-up.

After a humiliating loss in his home state, Rubio said he was grateful to everyone who supported him, adding that it was not part of God's plan that he become president in 2016, or maybe ever.

Ohio also is a winner-take-all state, and Kasich's win over Trump will keep the governor's campaign alive. He predicted he would be very competitive in the upcoming primaries, noting that there were still 1,000 delegates to be picked up.

In a dig at the often caustic Trump, Kasich said he would not take the low road to the highest office in the land.

But Trump did not appear to let his loss in Ohio faze him. He has a huge lead in the delegate count and said Tuesday night he is not going to stop until he wins for the country. In uncharacteristically mild comments, Trump said it is time to bring the Republican Party together.

Trump was locked in a close battle in the primary in the state of Missouri with Cruz, who also said this is the time for Republicans to unite.  He said he welcomed to his campaign those who have supported Rubio and that "America has a clear choice going forward."

For the Democrats, Mrs. Clinton beat Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by landslides in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio, taking most of the delegates in all three states. She also took Illinois. The race in Missouri also was close, but Mrs. Clinton seemed to edge out Sanders late Tuesday

Mrs. Clinton called the day another super Tuesday for her, congratulated Sanders for what she said was his vigorous campaign, and in remarks directed at Trump said deportation of immigrants and torture were wrong and would not make America strong.

Trump's election day got off to a good start when he captured all nine GOP convention delegates at stake from the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.

In recent months, Trump has become known and some would say infamous for harsh comments and insulting remarks he's made toward Muslims, Mexicans, women and his political rivals.

They include calling Rubio "little Marco" and the socialist Sanders "our communist friend."

A Clinton supporter called Trump a "narcissist and a racist" who brings out the worst of Americans, while a Sanders voter called the senator the only candidate addressing what he said was the country's fundamental problems of the uneven distribution of wealth.​

Argentina says coast guard
sunk Chinese fishing boat

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Argentine coast guard has sunk a Chinese trawler illegally fishing in its territorial waters, the coast guard said Tuesday.

The boat was detected Monday off Puerto Madryn, 1,300 kilometers south of Buenos Aires.

The trawler led the coast guard on a high-seas chase during which it "carried out maneuvers to collide with the coast guard patrol," the maritime authorities said.

The fishing boat's crew was rescued after the Argentine coast guard fired on the vessel Lu Yan Yuan Yu 010.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 16, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 53
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Avocado ban still is controversial

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rica ban on Mexican hass avocados does not find universal support here.

México has brought the situation to the attention of the World Trade Organization after the Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado forbade the importation of the fruit.

A representative of the Cámara de Industria y Comercio Costa Rica-México expressed unhappiness at the situation during a visit to the  Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Agropecuarios Tuesday.

The representative, Yolanda Fernández, said that in the last 21 years while the two countries had a trade treaty, Costa Rica has never blocked a product.

The Servicio Fitosanitario del Estado has been criticized by those who see the import ban as more of a trade barrier that benefits Costa Rican growers.

The problem is avocado sunblotch which is caused by a viroid, a small piece of genetic material that can reduce production of the avocado trees.

As A.M. Costa Rica has reported, the viroid cannot be transmitted except through pollen or by physical contact to trees by diseased plant material. In the case of pollen, the viroids cannot be transmitted unless the infected avocado seed is propagated and the subsequent plant comes in contact with other trees.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries photo
Vaquita swimming in the Gulf of California in Baja, Mexico.

Vaquita porpoise are on borrowed time

By the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration news staff

In the Gulf of California lives the most endangered marine mammal in the world. It's called the vaquita porpoise, and it has the bad luck of being caught in gillnets that fishermen set for other species. In other words, vaquita are bycatch, the unintended victims of fishing, and this has brought vaquita to the edge of extinction. To make matters worse, much of that fishing supplies an illegal trade in wildlife parts to China.

Scientists estimate that fewer than 100 vaquita remain, and the Mexican government, with technical assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, is working to protect what’s left of the species.

Barb Taylor is a conservation biologist with the agency’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, and she was the co-chief scientist on an expedition last summer to estimate how many vaquita remain. Dr. Taylor points out that, historically, several species of marine mammals have been rescued from similarly dire straits. But time is running out for vaquita.

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From Page 7:

U.S. reverses decision on drilling in Atlantic

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration is barring oil drilling off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday the decision comes after listening to thousands of people from New England fishing villages to Florida beach resorts and the Pentagon which conducts military drills in the ocean.

Jewell said the decision protects the Atlantic for future generations.

"When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn't make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years."

The White House announced a plan last year that would have opened a large area of the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia to Georgia to oil and natural gas drilling 80 kilometers off shore.

Environmentalists are thrilled the administration is scrapping its plans.
The oil industry is not. The head of the American Petroleum Institute says the decision appeases extremists who want to stop U.S. oil and natural gas production.

Oil and gas drilling leases that will be available for sale starting in 2017 include 10 areas in the Gulf of Mexico and three sites off Alaska, but not portions of the state's Beaufort and Chukchi seas and Bristol Bay which Obama has already declared off-limits for environmental reasons.