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(506) 2223-1327               San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 22, 2010,  Vol. 10, No. 56         E-mail us
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Guard and sensor detect movement inside Turrialba
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Magma was on the move inside Volcán Turrialba Sunday.

A park guard, Sergio Guillén, reported a series of tremors Sunday afternoon, and volcano experts said that the data shows the tremors came from a type of activity resulting from the movement of magma rather than other causes.

Guillén has been posted near the peak of the volcano to observe changes.

Volcano experts at the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica thought enough of the development that they came to work Sunday and produced a brief report.

The experts identified the type of activity from readings that were provided by a seismic sensor that has been installed near the peak. Other types of tremors come from the collapse of rock in the volcano wall and changes of pressure in cracks filled with fluids. The report said that there were four or five tremors every 15 minutes.

The increase in the number of strength of this type of tremor shows that magma is slowly moving upwards to the surface from the chamber of the volcano, the experts concluded. They are Javier Francisco Pacheco, María Martínez, Christian Garita and Jorge Brenes. The observatory is associated with Universidad Nacional in Heredia.

The observatory said that a positive development would be if magma begins to form a dome in the
crater of the volcano. If that were the case, in terms of risk, the volcano would be likely to emit small lateral explosions instead of large columns 
Volcan Turrialba
Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico photo
Turrialba continues to emit smoke and ash.

of gas and ash or violent ejections of ash and hot boulders, they said.

The principal hazard associated with domes is from pyroclastic flows produced by explosions or collapses, said the U.S. Geologic Survey. Such pyroclastic flows can occur without warning during active dome growth and can move very rapidly, endangering life and property up to 20 kilometers from their sources, the U.S. agency said from its Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington.

Mount Pelee in Martinique, West Indies, is an example of a lava dome, said the agency. An extremely destructive eruption accompanied the growth of a dome at Mount Pelee in 1902, it added.

The coastal town of St. Pierre, about 4 miles downslope to the south, was demolished, and nearly 30,000 inhabitants were killed by an incandescent, high-velocity ash flow and associated hot gases and volcanic dust, it added.


Manners files appeal seeking part of Villalobos cash
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

John Manners, the man who led a campaign for Villalobos investors to drop their criminal case, now wants part of the money the courts have awarded to successful litigants.

A posting on the United Concerned Citizens & Residents Web site said that Manners filed a Sala IV constitutional court appeal claiming that the money being distributed by the courts belongs to all the Villalobos investors, not just those who persisted with their court action.

As A.M. Costa Rica reported March 1, those who pressed their case against Oswaldo Villalobos will share nearly $8 million as the result of a negotiated settlement between lawyers for the investors and Villalobos lawyers. The investors are getting 38.47 percent of the amount they won in a case parallel to the one where Oswaldo Villalobso was convicted of aggravated fraud and illegal banking.

Some investors report they already have received 27 percent representing the first payment. The money comes from funds and assets confiscated by the state when Villalobos was arrested. His better known brother, Luis Enrique, is a fugitive.

Manners' lawyer is David E. Romero Mora, the same lawyer who is preparing a case against the government of Costa Rica for shutting down the Villalobos borrowing operations, Manners has said.

The Villalobos brothers paid 3 percent interest per
month to those who made deposits of $10,000 or more. The Oswaldo Villalobos trial failed to show any business dealings that could have generated that kind of return.

Most observers concluded that the operation was a ponzi scheme.

But not Manners. His appeal says in part: "Today, honorable magistrates, eight years, nine months and nine days following the actions taken that thousands of foreign nationals and Costa Rican citizens consider from every standpoint to be illegal, unjustified, imprudent and in violation of due process, I continue to await the return of Mr. Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho, a businessman in whom I have trusted, and continue to trust, with whom I entrusted my funds, and who efficiently, honestly and safely observed month by month payment to me of interest on the investment that I made."

Investigators made multiple raids on Villalobos properties July 4, 2002. One document that they found played a key role at trial. The document was a list of instructions in case of an eventual run on the fund by investors. It described the structure to avoid any criminal exposure by Luis Enrique Villalobos, mostly by the use of shell companies.

Those investors who did not drop their case against Oswaldo Villalobos faced ridicule and harassment from some other investors who thought, like Manners, that Luis Enrique Villalobos would return with their money.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 22, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 56

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Festival in Alajuela
Festival Internacional de las Artes photo  
Alajuela hosted this show by the group Identidades

Alajuela also has its share
of arts festival events

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Alajuela has not been left out by the organizers of the Festival Internacional de las Artes. A parallel series of presentations is being made there while the bigger show is in San Jose's Parque la Sabana.

The center of the activity in Alajuela is on the esplanade of Parque Juan Santamaría and in the Teatro Municipal. There are dance, theater, musical and story-telling groups. The events continue daily through March 28. There are private workshops for performers through April 3.

An attraction Sunday was the Coro de Niños Sinoli from Alto Quetzal, Bajo Chirripó.

At la Sabana Sunday President Óscar Arias Sánchez was a popular attraction. Arias spent three hours at the various events and stands. A number of Sunday visitors took his photo and sought autographs. The paths for the stands for creative works was packed.

Groups from 22 countries are at the festival. Events also are taking place in Limón


Last chance for work
with official agencies


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This is the last full week before private and public employees take their Semana Santa vacation.

Many businesses will close Friday for a full week. Public employees also have the following week off, although certain agencies, like the courts will keep critical services available.

Thursday, April 1, and Friday, April 2, are legal holidays.

The state banks will be open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but Banco Nacional will close at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday. That bank's office at the Golfito free trade Depósito will also be closed Monday, April 5.

Online banking is supposed to continue 24 hours a day.


Arias plans quick trip
to Colombia and Uribe


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez is planning a quick, one-day trip to Colombia Tuesday.

Casa Presdiencial said he will recieve the keys to the city of Bogotá, but he hardly will have time to use them because he is flying back the same day.

Arias will be placing a floral offering at the monument of Simón Bolívar, and then he will have lunch with Álvaro Uribe, the Colombian president. Going with Arias will be Janina del Vecchio, the security minister.

Uribe plans to award Arias the Orden de San Carlos, a medal designed to honor Colombians and foreigners who have earned the gratitude of Colombia, according to Casa Presidencial.

Arias will return to Costa Rica in the evening.


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A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each weekday.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching
The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages
A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds
Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 22, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 56

The Rev. Alfonso Barquero says the Mass in which he praised Acueducto Rural for purchasing the land in the reserve.

water sources
Comité de Lucha por la Defensa de la Zona Protectora photo

Naranjo group seeking to inventory, protect water sources
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 200 persons from the Municipalidad de Naranjo made the trek to the Zona Protectora El Chayote Sunday for a Catholic Mass initiating their campaign for protecting water sources.

The event also was to honor Acueducto Rural in Dulce Nombre de Naranjo for buying seven hectares (17.3 acres) in the protected zone.

The residents will present a petition to the municipal council Monday asking that water sources within the municipality be pinpointed and protected. Today also happens to be the International Day of Water. The petition is being sponsored by the Comité de Lucha por la Defensa de la Zona Protectora, a local group.
The protected zone, some 841 hectares, more than 2,000 acres, contains water sources that feed four major rivers, the Río Grande de Tárcoles, the Río San Carlos, the Río Barranca and the Río Toro Amarillo. The protected zone is also in Alfaro Ruiz.

The petition asked the municipal council to bring in experts from the Escuela Centroamericana de Geologia of the Universidad de Costa Rica to study the hydrology of the entire municipality and inventory water sources. The group also wants any project near water sources suspended until the study is completed. The group also will ask the council to create a regulation restricting development near sources of water.

Among those at the Mass Sunday was the municipal mayor, Eugenio Padilla.


Judicial panel sends rooftop killer to psychatric hospital
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A three-judge panel ordered a U.S. citizen accused of murder to be sent to the national psychiatric hospital instead of prison.

The man is Frederick Norman Kelch. He was the Moravia resident who put on a ski mask, got on his roof and began firing at the window of a neighboring house. Killed was a man inside that house, a physician named Harlan Fonseca Reyes. Fonseca's wife, Ligia Chaverri Oreamuno, nearly died, too, but a concrete column blocked a bullet Kelch meant for her. She was trying to administer first aid.

After the shooting, Kelch barricaded himself in his home for eight hours.

Prosecutors accept the defense contention that Kelch was not guilty of the murder allegation because of his mental state. Judges found that he was responsible but acquitted him of a charge of trying to kill Fonseca's wife. He was sent to the hospital for an indefinite term.
The case was heard in the Tribunales de Justicia in Goicoechea. The three judges characterized him as highly dangerous and ordered that he continue on a program of medication that was started after his arrest.

After the killing, there were some hard questions for officials because Kelch had managed to stay in the country for eight years on an expired tourist visa.

In addition, he was named in a 2003 La Nación article as having ties to New York's Gambino crime family.

The newspaper identifies Kelch as an ex-convict and also displayed a portion of a court document from Florida that shows he was under investigation for illegal gambling and other charges in Florida and New York.

Kelch was working for a sportsbook in the San Pedro Mall at the time.

Police officials and investigators never took action as a result of the article.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 56

River
cleanup


The Comité Bandera Azul Ecológica de San Miguel de Santo Domingo de Heredia was out on the Río Tibás over the weekend cleaning up trash. The plastic and bottles recovered were sent for recycling. The organization said that despite the trash there were plenty of signs of wildlife along the river and fish in the water. The group members also said they were filing a complaint against two sources of pollution, the same ones they reported last year.

river cleanup
Comité Bandera Azul Ecológica photo



Task force sweeps nightclubs and finds hideaway

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A police task force descended on bars and nightclubs in central San José Friday night and discovered a hiding place where dancers and others used when police arrived.

The hiding place was in the Atlantis night club, the security ministry said. There officers found a hole in the floor covered with a wood top that housed two women and two men. One of the women was a Nicaraguan who is barred from entering the country. Police suspect that she entered illegally through the porous northern border.

A Venezuelan woman there was working as a dancer on a tourist visa, agents said.

One of the men was a Colombian refugee, and the second was illegally in the country. Agents also found that the bartender was the subject of a warrant for an allegation of sexually abusing a minor. He was detained.
The sweep was by the Fuerza Pública, The Unidad de Trata y Tráfico de Personals of the Judicial Investigating Organization, immigration police and San José municipal police.

Agents also went to VIP's Monaco, Nicole's, Bella Mansión and Alcázar.

A bartender at VIP's also was the subject of a warrant, agents said. He, too, was detained. The allegation is carrying a weapon illegally.

Agents said that a minor was found inside one of the night clubs apparently working as a prostitute. She was turned over to the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the child welfare agency.

Police checked the identification of some 150 persons, they said. Some 95 percent were foreigners, and 50 of these were ordered to report to immigration, they said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 22, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 56

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

FBI squeezing U.S. gangs
for information on Juárez


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Agents of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation are providing support to Mexican authorities investigating the March 13 murder of three people associated with the U.S. consulate in Juárez, just across the Rio Grande River border from the city of El Paso, Texas. The FBI is also interrogating gang members in El Paso who have ties to a drug trafficking cartel in Mexico.

The focus of the investigation on the U.S. side of the border is a gang called Barrio Azteca, which is affiliated with the Azteca gang that operates in Juárez at the service of the Juárez cartel. The Juárez cartel is at war with the Sinaloa cartel over lucrative drug smuggling routes in the area.

El Paso FBI office spokesperson Andrea Simmons says teams of federal, local and Texas state police are detaining and interrogating dozens of Barrio Azteca members in the El Paso area, hoping to gain some information about the murders.

"We are simply doing an intelligence-gathering effort," she said. "We are not certain whether any of these people will have information or are directly tied to anything that happened in Juárez, we are simply trying to get as much information as we can."

Simmons says authorities have arrested some members of Barrio Azteca who were being sought under indictments issued before the shootings in Juárez. She says there is an expectation that these suspects might know something useful since they are in close contact with their counterparts across the river.

"The gang is considered a transnational gang," she said. "It is almost like they are two brothers. They are the same entity, but they operate differently on the two sides of the border."

Close to 5,000 people have been killed in Juárez in the past two years and it is considered the most dangerous city in the world outside a war zone. Mexican President Felipe Calderón has deployed thousands of military and federal police personnel in the city, but the killings have continued and 96 percent of cases go unsolved.

The situation may change, however, after the murder on a Saturday afternoon of two U.S. citizens, one of whom worked at the consulate, and the murder in a separate shooting around the same time of a Mexican man whose wife worked at the consulate. Although investigators say they have found no evidence so far indicating that the victims were targeted because of their consulate associations, some independent analysts think it is a likely possibility.

In addition to the FBI, agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs agents are also working the case on both sides of the border.

Over 200 local police and federal agents have been conducting raids in El Paso and seeking out known members of Barrio Azteca for questioning. The gang has an estimated 3,000 members in the El Paso area, but investigators are concentrating on around 700 of them. Federal agents are also seeking information on the alleged leader of the gang in Juárez, Eduardo Ravelo, who was placed on the FBI's Most Wanted list last year.

Mrs. Clinton off to México
to discuss border security

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A senior U.S. official says the United States has what he called a co-responsibility in ending the drug-related violence that has plagued Mexico's northern border.

Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead a high-level U.S. delegation to Mexico for a day of talks with Mexican officials.    The dialogue will also involve cooperation to strengthen law enforcement and joint efforts on the border to allow for a more fluid exchange of items and people, he said.

Valenzuela told reporters the discussions will be held "with the utmost respect to Mexican sensibilities and Mexican sovereignty."  Valenzuela stressed the partnership between the two countries, but also the fact that America and Mexico are "two distinct nations."

The one day meeting Tuesday is expected to concentrate more on security issues rather than trade.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, March 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 56


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Cold front bringing winds
and possible showers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A cold front has moved into the country and is bringing winds and isolated showers.

Turrialba got the bulk of the moisture Sunday with the automatic weather station there recording 23.2 millimeters or about nine-tenths of an inch.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the winds today would be from moderate to strong. Skies will be cloudy in the northern zone and the Caribbean coast with the possibility of weak showers in these regions and in the Central Valley. The Pacific coast will remain dry, the institute said.

San José got some rain Sunday, but the weather station at the institute in Barrio Aranjuez recorded just 1.3 millimeters, about five-hundreds of an inch. There was lightning in San Pedro.

Monetary Fund official
issues warning on debt

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A top official at the International Monetary Fund says wealthy countries will need to start cutting spending and deal with huge national debts next year.

John Lipsky, the first deputy managing director of the fund, said in a speech in China Sunday that stimulus spending remains appropriate in 2010 to push the global economic recovery.  But he says wealthy nations must cut spending, increase taxes and reform pensions and health entitlements to reduce debt in 2011.

Lipsky says cutting stimulus measures put in place during the economic crisis will not be enough, because the stimulus programs account for only about 1 percent of rich countries' gross domestic products.

He estimated that government debt will be higher than annual GDP in most advanced economies by 2014, the highest debt-to-GDP ratio since the years after World War II.


Teens distributing drugs

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The movement for a reform of the juvenile crime laws is growing in the country as the ages of violators become less and less.

In Liberia, the Policía de Control de Drogas detained this weekend a 16 year-old they said was selling his cocaine in a children's park. Also detained was a woman, 28, who was said to be the boy's handler.

A week ago agents in Paraíso de Cartago detained another 16 year-old in a separate case. He was distributing marijuana in the central park of the community, police said.











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