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(506) 223-1327          Published Friday, March 23, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 59          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Temporary terminal contains new stations for immigration but they may not be enough.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas

Transport officials gear to lease out Liberia airport
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Transport officials estimate that 1.3 million air passengers will pass through Liberia's Daniel Oduber airport by 2020, nearly four times the number that did so in 2006. So they will be seeking a private contractor to run the airport and provide a financial investment.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said Thursday that a concession offering would be published in the official La Gaceta newspaper next month with the hopes of awarding a contract by October. The winner will be expected to put about $12.9 million into the airport, including building a permanent terminal by 2009.

Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela has been operating under a concession but the concessionaire, Alterra Partners, has frequently been at odds with the government and faced frequent financial crises.

In Liberia, the concession holder will be able to collect $5.41 per passenger, according to the proposal. The new two-story terminal should be about 15,000 square meters, said Karla González, minister of Obras Públicas. She said she expected a series of 5,000-square-meter expansions, one in 2014 and one in 2019. Along the way the  concessionaire would be expected to invest at least $10 million more.

Concessionaires also would be able to lease space to private firms.

Nearly all the traffic through Liberia is tourism,
and the airport has had its growing pains.  The central government has opted for concessions because it does not have the money to do the job itself. The minister was there Thursday to inaugurate a temporary departure terminal. It is 1,500 square meters with a 450 persons\ capacity.

The ministry constructed the steel structure for $600,000 with a $500,00 investment from private sources. The new structure is supposed to ease the continual crush that inbound and outbound air passengers find in Liberia.

Private contributions are typical in Liberia where the entire tourism industry hinges on the success of the airport.

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería said Thursday, too, that a private donor has provided funds to air condition the facility. The name of the donor was not revealed. Immigration blamed excessive heat Saturday for creating a condition during which the computer system failed.

Analive Rosales, the current airport administrator, said Thursday that some 600 tourists were in line after the immigration computer system failed.  The computer system at Daniel Oduber is connected via the same line as the Peñas Blancas immigration computer system to the main facility in La Uruca, she said.

She also said the problem was a lack of immigration workers. She said at least 15 were needed now to join the 16 who work there. Passengers pass through an immigration checkpoint coming and going.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 59

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Fourth man arrested
in Ricardo Toledo case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A fourth suspect fell into police hands Thursday in the Ricardo Toledo Carranza case.

He is Victor Vargas Barboza, 22, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization. He was nabbed when he left his home in Hatillo 8 Thursday. Investigators were waiting.

He is believed to be the man who escaped the dramatic car chase and shootout that culminated in Hatillo 8 Wednesday night. Fuerza Pública officers shot it out with one person at the scene in Rohrmoser and arrested him. A car with suspects was halted at a roadblock in Hatillo, and two persons were detained after a brief firefight in which both suffered injuries.

Also being held is Aron Solís Arguedos, 16, Pablo Umaña Montero, 25, and Alexis Rueda Cambronero, 22.

Meanwhile the Poder Judicial came out with a statement discounting the claim that the men who invaded the Toledo home were the same ones who had been arrested there a week ago. The latest intruders killed a maid, Ligia Hernández Alvarado, 42, and killed a man, Werner Bohl, when he stepped out on his apartment's balcony across the street.

Ricardo Toledo, a former presidential candidate, told reporters at the scene that the men arrested last week threatened the life of his maid and presumed that they carried out the threat.

Not so, said the Poder Judicial in a release. The two persons arrested March 16 were 17 and 18, and the older had the last name of Quirós, said the release. They were caught on a nearby roof with a computer, said the Poder Judicial. Still the Fuerza Pública said that the two men were released the next day.

As for the maid who is now dead, the Poder Judicial said that a check of relevant records shows no trace of her having filed a complaint about being threatened. Toledo, who arrived home after the invasion, said Wednesday that the suspects threatened the maid when police brought them to her to identify.

Toledo's wife, Marta Lora Morejón, had her arm broken in three places by the bandits. She also sustained a broken jaw and broken teeth. The robbers were waiting for her when she returned home Wednesday. Toledo's son was at home but was not injured, police said.

Toledo served for a time as the chief of staff for then-president Abel Pacheco. He was called the minister of the Presidencia. Later he assumed a position as a member of the Asamblea Legislativa. In the 2006 election, as the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana candidate, he came in fourth with just 3.55 percent of the vote, in part because of public discontent with Pacheco.

Trade measures get backing
by magic number of 38

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Administration officials feel they achieved a victory in the Asamblea Legislativa when 38 deputies, a two-thirds majority, voted Thursday to fast-track three key laws that complement the free trade treaty with the United States.

One law is the measure that would allow an inventor to patent plant varieties. The others involve intellectual property and trademarks. The lawmakers established a one-month term for consideration of the plant law.

This means that the measures cannot be bottled up in committee by continual discussions and amendments by those who oppose them.

At Casa Presidencial Rodrigo Arias, the minister of the Presidencia, praised the lawmakers from five parties who united to expedite the measures.

He called it a positive step. The 38 votes are what the administration needs to pass the trade treaty, too.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 59

Here's a way to recycle your body after you die here
Several years after I left Majorca, some friends wrote to tell me the news of Cala Gamba, the small seaside community where my family and I had lived.  They said that the old doctor from the U.S. who had lived there for a number of years had died.  His wife and the rest of the community tried every avenue to find a grave for him.  He was not Catholic and could not be buried in a Catholic cemetery.  At the time there was no way to have him cremated.

Finally, in desperation, two of the neighbors put the homeless doctor in a sack, tied a weight to him, and rowed out into the Mediterranean to give him a midnight burial at sea.

Death, for many expats living abroad can be costly and full of red tape, not for them, of course, but for their families or friends.  When I became curious about the process in Costa Rica, I asked Garland Baker, my fellow columnist at A.M. Costa Rica.  He said he would find out and a couple of weeks later his column came out telling me everything I needed to know about leaving this planet from Costa Rica.  It was filled with the various tramites and costs.  See HERE and HERE.

I have avoided tramites most of my life, and certainly during my whole time in Costa Rica. (The one way, I am convinced that one can live a happy, carefree life here is to own nothing bigger than a bed)  I have also been committed to recycling in my personal life, or at least, reusing. This started from necessity, then habit and now principle.  I hate waste. I simply don’t throw things away until I have found several uses for them.  As many of you know, second hand stores are my favorite places to buy.  My friend Alexis is into recycling in a big way and personally collects my old bottles and plastics and paper. 

How, I wondered, can I leave this world maintaining my principles.  I certainly don’t want a costly casket to take up space in an already crowded world, or that would be burned, anyway.  Although I did buy some years ago a beautiful little cooking pot that I said I was going to use as an urn for my ashes, my children or a friend can continue using that cooking pot. 

That is when Sandy and I made a visit to the Universidad de Ciences Medicas and had a long talk with Dr. Jose A. Resenterra Ceciliano about leaving one’s body to a medical school. 

Dr. Resenterra was both helpful and enthusiastic about this manner of exiting.  (Having some time before seeing him, I chatted with the guard at the entrance of the school who
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

asked if I had doctors in my family.  I said no, and he said that it was mostly families of people in the medical professions who donated their bodies.) 

Dr. Resenterra said that often pensionadas living here with no relatives choose to donate their bodies.  As he said, this is a way you can help others as your last act.  I very much like that idea, and I also feel so much better at the thought that a body that I will no longer need can be re-used.  And finally, there are absolutely no tramites or expenses involved either for myself or my family. The family or a friend just makes a phone call at the proper time and the school takes over. 

First there is an autopsy that takes place in Heredia.  (My understanding is that all bodies must be autopsied).  In this case it's to make sure that there are no infectious diseases.

They also check to see if any organs are suitable for donation (if you okay this).  Then the body is taken to the medical school, which takes care of everything, including transporting the body.  There are at least 15 medical schools in Costa Rica, so the need must be great.

On my second and last visit to the Universidad de Ciences Medicas, I saw the notary public who typed up a legal document which I signed with two witnesses.  It simply stated the above and is supposed to be presented at the proper time.  In case of loss, she said, the school has a copy.  That part of the procedures took about 35 minutes.   

With the money and time that is saved I hope my children and whatever family that can make it, along with my friends in Costa Rica, to have a party on me (so to speak).  I do not find parties to be wasteful or in need of a great deal of red tape.  Besides, food and drink and good conversation make for a better memory than the hassles of tramites. We all want to leave them smiling.

Jo’s book, “Butterfly in the City: A Good Life in Costa Rica,” is available at the 7th Street Book Store, Lehmann’s and Liberia Internacional.  Or contact Jostuart@amcostarica.com.

Two more held in case of phone scammers operating here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A quick trip to the San Andrés vacation island proved to be the undoing of two men who have been sought by the United States for telephone fraud.

The pair were detailed at Juan Santamaría airport when their names popped up on an immigration computer.

 They are Joshua Jorane Grimes, 29, and Michael Robert Kearns, 30, according to investigators.

The Dirección de Inteligensia/International Police Agency here said the pair were sought by the U.S. Postal Service and the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an investigation of scammers who defrauded U.S. citizens by telephone. Other suspects were arrested last year, but agents continued to seek Grimes and Kearns.

The gang, which operated a telephone call center here used an advance fee pitch. They told gullible U.S. citizens that they had won a contest with a prize of from $300,000 to $450,000. By using modern telephone technology the gang made it appear as if the call had originated inside the United States.

In order to get the prize, the victim had to come up with and send the scammers $1,000 or some other similar amount. In a new twist, the scammers told the victims that the payment was necessary because of a security system put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, said officials, citing U.S. allegations.


The suspects arrested Thursday had lived in Santa Ana, Jacó and Escazú, said agents. They were scheduled to be arrested this week but a computer check of airline passengers turned up their names as they were about to leave the country for the Caribbean island which is part of Colombia, said agents.

The pair will undergo extradition proceedings to also face a money laundering charge in the United States.

Costa Rica has been home to a number of scammer gangs. A notable one operating near the center of the city used similar telephone techniques to sell computers at a discount price. Of course, the computers did not exist, and the scammers simply took the money that victims sent them via Western Union.

Expats were hired to place the calls as well as bilingual Costa Ricans. Some bragged that they could bring home $900 a week, sufficient to support their drug habit.

Residents association gets positive response for cultural fair this Saturday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The residents association said that it had received a lot of positive response to its charity and cultural fair that takes place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Parque la Sabana.

Ryan Piercy, director of the organization, said that the fair, called Regreso de la Flores, is a good place for individuals to make contacts for volunteer work.

A number of non-profit and for-profit organizations have signed on, he said, including both the U.S. and the Panamanian embassies. The Shriners de Costa Rica will be there, as will their clowns, who will perform for children, said Piercy.

He had a litany of participating local organizations,
including the Women's Club of Costa Rica, Newcomers, the Canadian Club and Foundación Vita.

In addition to clowns, Dos Pinos is bringing its promotional cow, Vaca Lulu, and the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging will present typical dancing. Square dancers will be there, too, Piercy said.

The event is free and open to the public, but there also will be some food stands, including sushi sales and other lunch treats, said Piercy. The Association of Residents of Costa Rica hopes to make the event an annual one, but Piercy said the organization will know for sure after they see the turnout.

Booths will be set up in the vicinity of the Museo de Arte Costarricense on the east end of the park.

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'At this time we have a deposit and all looks good!!  Thank you for your help, and I must say your paper is impressive, and I had no idea you had such a circulation around the world.  Received many inquiries for our hotel for that reason.'

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 59

Are you considering doing business with a burglar alarm company?

If so, you should contact me first
for my opinion

From a hotel owner:

'At this time we have a deposit and all looks good!!  Thank you for your help, and I must say your paper is impressive, and I had no idea you had such a circulation around the world.  Received many inquiries for our hotel for that reason.'

She used our classifieds!

Visiting artist melds hurricane, Caribbean to create storms of abstraction
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Kristopher Naeger is an artist who has been touched by a hurricane. His work reflects that. It is a labyrinth of colors, tempered by hurricane and dried by the heat of the Caribbean winds.

Naeger, a southeast Missouri native, expresses his inspirations as some unidentified Caribbean island, a world free but so dramatic.

He left his hometown for an unlucky visit to New Orleans. He managed to miss most of the storm, but the images remain. Like so many from New Orleans, he is destined to be a prophet outside of his own country, And in his abstractions he is telling a history of many who lost a son, daughter or friends.  The material loss he suffered is less important. He knows that he started again.

His works will be on display through Sunday in San Rafael de Escazú at the art fair there.
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Kristopher Naeger

México appears to be headed into a prolonged battle over legalizing abortions
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico's Roman Catholic Church has joined forces with other denominations to protest a move by leftist lawmakers to legalize abortion.

Catholic, Anglican and Greek Orthodox leaders held a press conference to oppose proposals recently introduced in both the national legislature and the Mexico City assembly.
Current Mexican legislation outlaws abortion except when the woman has been raped, or the mother's life is in danger.

Advocates of the pro-abortion law say it will allow poor women to undergo abortions under safe conditions.

Mexico has more than 100 million people, with 90 percent of them belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, which is vigorously opposed to abortion.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, March 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 59

Death of Pakistan cricket coach turns into full-scale mystery
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Jamaican police have brought in a second pathologist as the investigation continues into Sunday's death of former Pakistan cricket team coach Bob Woolmer during the World Cup.

Jamaican authorities said the unidentified pathologist would be brought in to determine how the coach died.

Jamaican newspapers citing unnamed sources said Woolmer was strangled. Police dismissed the reports as "pure
speculation." Woolmer's widow said in a British television interview that there "remains the possibility" that her husband was murdered.

Woolmer was found unconscious in his hotel room Sunday after Pakistan suffered an upset loss to Ireland the previous day. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital shortly afterward. Police have called his death suspicious.

The loss to Ireland made sure Pakistan could not advance at the World Cup, but the Pakistanis did win their final group match over Zimbabwe by 93 runs Wednesday.

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