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(506) 2223-1327      Published Tuesday, March 24, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 58      E-mail us
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The Ruinas de Ujarrás are mainly walls now. Work done over the last two years was designed to stabilize the walls against possible earthquakes. The culture ministry got into trouble two years ago when workmen began covering the exterior walls with cement as an effort to support them. Historians were dumbfounded.
ruins of 17th century church
Instituto Costarricense de Turismo photo

Historic ruins among sites that received a facelift
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three tourist sites, including the 17th century church ruins in Ujarrás, have been refurbished and made accessible for the handicapped in a program supported by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

In addition to the Ruinas de Ujarrás, the mirador or lookout point in Ujarrás and in Orosi received part of the investment, which was 150 million colons or about $270,000.

All three areas have picnic tables and now bathrooms. At the ruins new lights have been installed and the entrance has been improved. This work was done in conjunction with the Centro de Investigación y Conservación Cultural of the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes. The ministry invested more than $100,000 to support and stabilize the ruins against earthquakes. There also is an archaeological project being done there by the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Both overlooks have had access improved for vehicles and also for the handicapped. The existing infrastructure has been repaired and new areas for cookouts have been constructed, said the tourism ministry.

Officials visited the sites Monday to inspect the completed work.

The church that is now ruins was built in 1693 in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Limpia Concepción del Rescate. The story is that the Orosi valley was invaded by pirates, and locals prayed to the Virgin who caused the invaders to leave.

The facts are a little more complex than that. The area was populated by native Costa Ricans when the Spanish arrived, and there were several 
uprisings. Toward the end of the 16th century, a church mission was opened on the site to pacify the natives.

By the beginning of the 18th century native Costa Ricans had vanished and descendants of the Spanish settlers were living in the community. In 1832 and 1833 the community moved to Paraíso. Depending on the historian, the reason varies. Some say illness caused the move. Others say flooding damaged the town. Another attributes the move to politics.

There also is a statue of the Virgin de Ujarrás, but it is not at the ruins now.

The statue of the Virgin was said to be one of three aboard a boat menaced by pirates in 1535. The Franciscans in charge of the statues decided to cast them into the sea to avoid letting pirates get their hands on such precious objects.  It was the will of God, according to devotees, that brought one of the statues to Ujarrás on the Río Reventazón where it was found by Indians. Another statue ended up in Nicaragua and the third became the Virgen de Lujan in Argentina.

In the same way that the Virgen de Los Ángeles in Cartago made known her desire to stay there by returning mysteriously to the same spot, the Virgen de Ujarrás mysteriously became so heavy that the natives could not carry her away to Cartago, according to the story.

The statue still exists. It was carried from the town in 1833 by the local priest as the rest of the community migrated. It now is in the Catedral Metropolitana.

In another twist, the Virgin, by law, is capitana general of the Fuerza Pública. She is the country's first patroness, and she is venerated by policemen once a year in a ceremony at the cathedral.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 58

Costa Rica Expertise
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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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taxi protest
A.M. Costa Rica.Josee Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Taxi drivers block street in front of legislature.

For everyone, taxi dispute
is a lose-lose situation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If you see King Solomon, please ask him to drop by the legislature. Lawmakers need his wisdom and then some.

But even the biblical king might not be able to resolve the problem of the taxistas and porteadores. There does not appear to be a solution in which someone does not get hurt.

The differences between the taxi drivers and their competitors who carry individuals on contract came in the news again Monday when taxistas staged another one of their protests. As usual, they blocked Avenida Central in front of the legislative complex and they engaged in low-speed blockades on key highways.

An analysis on the news

If the taxistas are not protesting, the betting is good that the  porteadores are. The reason is a social problem that no one bothered to handle until it grew out of proportion.

Taxi drivers, beset by low fares and higher expenses, see the porteadores as competitors. And they are to some extent. The porteadores say they are not pirates and that they have a perfect right to carry passengers on contract. Many even have little slips of paper passengers are required to sign.

Sometimes the confrontations are worse than the protest Monday. The co-owner of a contact driving firm suffered a fatal gunshot over the weekend in a confrontation in Heredia. His firm was just moving into the area.

The issue is a small clause in the commercial code that seems to give porteadores the right to do what they do.

Taxi drivers want the clause amended to put the porteadores out of business.

Lawmakers made a show of studying the issue, but any concrete action is political poison. Each side of the argument represents working individuals with families to support and an extended family supporting them.

So despite protests, lawmakers are most likely to toy with the issue for another year until a new crop of legislators takes over.

Businesswoman murdered
in Margarita de Bribrí


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman service station operator in Margarita de Bribrí went to open up her business early Monday, but her killer was waiting.

The woman, Aracelia Ledezma, died at the scene which was just a few feet from her home. The killer appears to have taken objects of value and perhaps money.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said someone found the 66-year-old woman about 6:20 a.m.  The town is in southeast Costa Rica near the border with Panamá and near the larger community of Sixaola.

An autopsy will determine the exact cause of death.

Court tells Patronato
to protect child from peer


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has ordered the child protection agency to protect a child in its Cartago shelter.

The decision against the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia came from an appeal by a resident of the Albergue Transitorio de Cartago. The child said that a 15 year old in the shelter who has mental problems has been aggressive and has subjected the resident to bad treatment.

The Patronato argues that it has no other facilities adequate for the 15 year old.

Arias, national soccer team
have working visit to México


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Oscar Arias Sánchez will travel to México for an official visit starting Thursday.

That happens to be the same country in which the Costa Rican national selection, the county's soccer team, has a key game scheduled with México Saturday night. Arias will be attending the game.

Until then, Casa Presidencial said he will be meeting with  Felipe Calderón, the Mexican president at 1 p.m. Thursday. Arias also is scheduled to address the Mexican legislature.

Friday Arias will meet with Mexican business owners and managers, said Casa Presidencial.

The soccer game Saturday is a preliminary to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 58



This city tree
knows the season


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One does not have to go far to find beauty in Costa Rica. This roble de sabana tree has blossomed even though it lives in a concrete jungle on a corner where desperate men pile cardboard for recycling each afternoon.

Most passersby do not notice the tree even though now it sports pink blooms. This is an unusual tree in that it can produce pink blooms at the height of the dry season when most other vegetation is wilting from lack of rain.

Costa Ricans know Semana Santa is here when the roble de sabana trees burst into pink bloom.

The roble de sabana tree (Tabebuia rosea) is native to the Pacific coast, but because of its beauty, thousands of the trees have been planted in the Central Valley.

Roble means oak, and like the northern tree of the same name, the roble de sabana is used in furniture.
tree in bloom
A.M. Costa Rica photo



ID card company says immigration will start using banks
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

LaserCard Corp. of Mountain View, California, said Monday that the waiting time to obtain a Costa Rica foreign resident ID card, will be substantially shortened. The company installed the computerized system for producing the cards.

As of April 1, applicants will be able to use 25 specially equipped branch offices of the Banco de Costa Rica. The added capacity will significantly reduce waiting times for appointments and accelerate use of the new, highly secure ID card by the country’s 200,000+ legal foreign residents, the company said. To date, more than 40,000 ID credentials have been issued through the enrollment center at Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería offices in La Uruca, the company reported.

Waiting times for immigration appointments have been more than a year in some cases. Many residents have filed appeals with the Sala IV constitutional court simply to obtain their residency card or cédula. Although the immigration department has not said so, the banks likely will be a source for renewal but not new issues of residency cards.

For its new foreign resident ID card, introduced in June 2008, Costa Rica’s immigration officials selected LaserCard’s tamper-proof optical memory technology featuring layered security, which is used by both the United States and Canada for their permanent resident card programs, LaserCard pointed out. The card is known as the green card in the United States. The move is designed to bring Costa Rica’s immigration department closer to its vision of a regional standard in identity credentials to facilitate cross border travel and strengthened security across multiple countries in the Americas, said LaserCard.

LaserCard got into trouble earlier when its devices began producing cards from which the ink rubbed off. However, the involvement of Banco de Costa Rica had not been reported, although Costa Rica is using the bank to produce driver's licenses.
Costa Rica’s highly counterfeit resistant residency card takes the place of a document that had been subject to widespread counterfeiting and forgery, said the company. With Costa Rica’s rapidly developing economy and geographic location encouraging a sharp increase in its foreign resident and transient populations, the potential for abuse of the former entry documents had become the source of escalating economic and security concerns, it said. The new counterfeit-resistant ID card is a core element of Costa Rica’s ongoing transformation of its migration management system. Immigration officials aim to influence other Central American countries to adopt the credential as a regional standard.

“There are approximately 200,000 foreign residents legally residing in Costa Rica today,” said Mario Zamora, immigration director. “We welcome these residents and want to be sure that their benefits are available only to them and not to those who plan to exploit our resources. With the enhanced data capture initiative, we will be able to issue the new card far more rapidly to all our legal residents. They can be assured that their card will not only confirm their ability to live and work in Costa Rica but also provide them with a high level of protection against identity fraud.”

To support the regional initiative, LaserCard is providing a range of bilingual web-based and printed public information materials and is developing additional materials such as document examination resources for inspection agents. More information is available at www.lasercard.com/costarica/.

LaserCard is also the supplier of the foreign resident ID management system which is used to manage the entire card issuance process. The system, designed, developed, integrated and installed by LaserCard’s Enabling Services practice, consists of personal data capture, a unique applicant check to prevent the issuance of duplicate cards, optical memory card laser engraving and encoding, quality assurance and card issuance.

Each individual stage of the process is controlled by biometric ID verification of system operators, the company said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 58


Officials unpack what appears to be drugs from the hull of a boat registered in Ecuador.
drug boat
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photos

Twin drug busts involve an open boat and tractor-trailer
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An open boat spotted Saturday by a U.S. Coast Guard patrol plane ended up on a beach in Parque Nacional Corcovado Sunday where Costa Rican law enforcement took one man into custody.

Eventually a second man was detained, and police cut into the deck of the boat to reveal what was said to be 320 kilos (704 pounds) of cocaine. Dogs had alerted officials to a possible drug cargo.

The 22-foot craft of Ecuadorian registry did not appear to be a fishing boat as an occupant claimed. The man, identified by the last name of Murillo Mero, told the  Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas that he had run out of fuel and had to put in near the mouth of the Río Sirena. That was about 7 a.m. Sunday. Some 12 hours later the second man was located near Playa Salsipuedes. He carried no papers, officials said, but was believed to be from El Salvador.

The drug haul was the second in three days. The Policía
penas blancas truck
Nicaraguan truck carried U.S. registration numbers

de Control de Drogas intercepted a tractor-trailer at the Peñas Blancas border crossing that they said carried 125 kilos (275 pounds) of cocaine. That vehicle was registered in Nicaragua and was operated by a Nicaraguan trucker.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 58


A.M. Costa Rica
users 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 week day.

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.

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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.

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

Statistics

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

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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Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

U.N. weather experts cite
climate-pollution links


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations' World Meteorological Organization says there is a close relationship between weather-climate systems and global pollution. The organization says these relationships also affect people's health.

The World Meteorological Organization says 90 percent of all natural disasters are related to weather, water and climate events. It says air quality is an important factor as well.

The World Meteorological Organization estimates about two million people die prematurely every year due to air pollution, more than half in developing countries. The organization said declining air quality worsens illnesses and deaths from asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.

The relationship between climate, weather, air quality and health is the theme of this year's World Meteorological Day, which was observed Monday.

Michel Jarraud, World Meteorological Organization's secretary general, said the scientific community is becoming increasingly aware of the interconnection.

"For the air quality, what we are talking about is not only the sort of traditional pollutants as you could imagine them," he noted. "But, it is also many of the gases, which are the greenhouse gases that are also influencing the quality of the air when they are abundant in the lower atmosphere."

Organization scientists assess and monitor air pollutants such as ground-level ozone, smog, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Most of these substances directly result from the industrial, urban and vehicular combustion of fossil fuels.

Jarraud said an analysis of this data enables scientists to better forecast the distribution of potentially harmful pollutants in the atmosphere.

He said it is increasingly important to do this analysis in connection with urbanization because more than half of the world population lives in urban areas.

The World Meteorological Organization says a warming climate can exacerbate air pollution. For example, it said climate change and land use are expected to increase desertification worldwide, increasing the risk of sand and dust storms.

It said climate change models show particle-producing fires will continue to increase in both frequency and intensity with rising global temperatures. Drought also is likely to increase, leading to more fires.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 58


Latin American news digest
Four suspects are blamed
for tourist robberies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators picked up five persons Monday morning and said they were members of a gang that preyed on foreign tourists.

Four were men, two Colombians, a Costa Rican and a Salvadoran, said the Poder Judicial. A Nicaraguan woman also was detained, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Agents said they had been on the trail of these individuals since September. The gang of robbers used the method of puncturing the tire of a tourist vehicle. When the motorist stopped to fix the tire, the criminals would arrive and either steal items from the victim's car or use a weapon to rob the victim.

Investigators said that the gang operated all over the country and that the individuals detained Monday were suspects in at least eight incidents.

Arrests were made in Gravillas de Desamparados, Tres Rios, Zapote and San José Centro. During the arrests, agents confiscated foreign money, including euros, dollars and Canadian dollars, as well as two .38-caliber pistols, said the Poder Judicial. Prosecutors asked that a judge jail the four men for investigation.

Korea, EU near trade deal

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

South Korea and the European Union have started what they call their final round of talks in efforts to agree on a trade liberalization deal. The deal still faces serious opposition from South Korean farmers, and may require fine tuning on opening up the Korean auto market. 

Lee Hye-min, South Korean chief trade negotiator, said he and his European Union counterpart Ignacio Garcia Bercero hope to conclude negotiations on a free trade deal this week.

The two sides have held seven previous rounds of talks that began nearly two years ago. Signing and implementing a deal would remove tariffs and make it much easier to buy and sell goods and services to each other. By at least one estimate the deal stands to add about $11 billion to South Korea's economy.
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