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(506) 2223-1327       Published Wednesday, April 1, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 64      E-mail us
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What does not drench you makes you stronger
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans know that the rainy season is the  way the celestial powers have to get the best from human beings.

With the series of downpours that drenched the Central Valley Tuesday, one can be sure that the season of daily rains is here.

Most Costa Ricans welcomed the rain. The downpours wash the streets and take unhealthy particulates out of the air.

Now life will change. No more lingering in bed until 6:30 a.m. Every day becomes a race against the rain. Depending on location, figure a heavy thunderstorm every day between 1 and 2 p.m.

That means the days work, at least outside work, had better be done by that time. Costa Rica becomes a morning country. An early morning country. About 4 a.m. would be a good wakeup time with errands starting about 5 a.m. Shopping. Post office., Banking. All need to be done in the morning so the rain falls harmlessly on the pavement and not individuals.

There is a certain pride in being up with the early birds. The day breaks during the second cup of coffee. The strong scent of yesterday's rain hangs pungently in the air. The sidewalks are
Ticos love rain
 
washed. The umbrellas are stacked ready for emergency use.

And as the afternoon rains begin in earnest, Costa Ricans and expats can sit in their own living rooms knowing they have done a day's work or a day's worth of errands. So it is time to catch the novela or soap opera, pop a cork and get ready for an early bedtime.

Until next December.



Moth turns out to be a bug with a strange reputation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The moth pictured here Tuesday really is a bug, called machaca in Costa Rica.

The beautiful wings misled editors into thinking that the creature was a moth, but several readers, including Henry Kantrowitz of Punta Leona, set the record straight. Fred Schutter, the Esterillos Oeste resident who took the photo, also had some contacts send e-mails

There is an interesting, sexy tale about the bug, too.

The creature is called  a peanut-headed bug, probably Fulgora laternaria, of the Order  Homoptera, a group that includes leafhoppers and aphids.

Scientists think that the head is supposed to imitate a lizard's head, and animals that don't eat lizards are scared away, said Kantrowitz. It is part of a complex anti-predator scheme the bug uses. If these don't scare away predators, the bug releases a skunk-like spray, he added.
not a moth
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
A larger view is HERE

The Museo de los Insectos in the Escuela de Agronomía at the Universidad de Costa Rica confirms the identification.

The museum Web site said that a 50-year-old tale claims that anyone bitten by the bug must make love within 12 hours or die. They blame this legend on reporters with too much time on their hands.

Tall tales notwithstanding, the  machaca cannot bite. Its tube-like mouth is designed to suck juice from plants and trees. 

Kantrowitz says the bug prefers the guapinol tree in Guanacaste, although some are found on the Caribbean coast.


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Costa Rica
Second newspage
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 64

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Puriscal Properties
sportsmens update
Click HERE for great hotel discounts


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.


Residency experts

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Physicians and surgeons

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Hearing consultant

English-speaking hearing consultant 
We can professionally evaluate your hearing problem at Clinica Dinamarca off Paseo Colón or at Hospital CIMA. We are affiliated with Widex hearing instruments because of their quality, natural sound and intelligibility over background noise. That means  no more echoing, feedback or interference. Please contact me, Allan, at allan9000@gmail.com or at 8891-8989.
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Accountants

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
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• US Tax return preparation  for
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• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
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• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
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Real estate agents and services

MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica and Ocean Realty - Jacó

15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce

samargo@racsa.co.cr
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7Legal services

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 Tel.  2280-9692 / 2225-9322      
e-mail: info@conjuridica.com  Web:  www.conjuridica.com
       We offer the highest professional standards with very competitive rates. All our official documentation and Notary deeds are always translated in English for better comprehension, client satisfaction and safety.
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• Immigration Law.
• Real Estate Law.
• Corporations, Foundations
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• Notary public services
• Criminal Law
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Skype: hernandez.mussio
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• Real Estate Transactions
•  Legal Due Diligence
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• Trademarks 
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*Tax Shelters *Immigration
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Ph/Fax: 2221-9462, 8841-0007
New draft of security bill
will go to the printer

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The lawmakers on a special citizen security commission have decided to start from Square One. After much discussion they have shelved a version of an organized crime bill and drafted another.

The new version will be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper and then discussed in the committee, the  Comisión de Seguridad Ciudadana.

The proposal has been controversial. Some lawmakers have pointed out what they see as constitutional flaws while the nation's chief prosecutor, Francisco Dall'Anese, is pushing for broader wiretapping rights.

Current techonology would seem to make most wiretapping  useless. Criminals usually use throwaway cell phones. A heavy duty encryption program for e-mails is available from an open source. That was why the U.S. government once sought to make computer manufactuers put a special access chip in each machine. The U.S. plan was dumped.

The organized crime bill is the keystone of the administration's efforts to stem a wave of criminality. Many of the crimes are of the unsophisticated street variety, but officials are worried about infiltration by Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, terrorists and human traffickers.

Our readers' opinions
Judicial decision hurts
organized crime fight


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It's common knowledge that the Costa Rican judicial system is overwhelmed and dysfunctional. Over the years A. M. Costa Rica has reported on many rulings that defy logic, especially those of the labor courts which regularly side with employees and against employers even if laws and common sense have to be turned on their respective heads to rationalize the decisions.

But this latest decision by the Sala IV to strip the Office of Judicial Inspections of any authority to review judges' decisions, no matter how legally counter intuitive or suspect, will go down in history as the most absurd and damaging in the history of Costa Rican jurisprudence.

This opens the door for the wealthy/well connected and unscrupulous to corrupt the decisions of every court in the land with no fear of any consequences whatsoever.

Imagine how this decision will effect the fledgling efforts of the Costa Rican government to combat organized crime, which were discussed here in A. M. Costa Rica recently? Who has more money to throw at corruptible judges than, for instance, the drug cartels? One is forced to wonder whether or not their notoriously deep pockets effected THIS decision. (Before anyone starts harrumphing and woofing about that idea, please don't forget the rogue's gallery of former Costa Rican presidents who are either incarcerated or under investigation!) Without judicial oversight, the government may as well toss their plans to mount a campaign against the cartels and other criminal organizations straight in the dumpster.

More importantly, at least in my mind, Costa Rica is already high up on the World Monetary Fund's list of countries where investors have the hardest time doing business, specifically because contracts are so hard to enforce here. The Sala IV's decision may well put Costa Rica at the top of the list. Who in their right mind would want to invest in a country where there is now by judicial decree no oversight of legal decisions? Foreign investors have always been targets of scammers and extortionists here. This decision just throws jet fuel on the fires.

Coupled with the recent decision to make it harder for retirees to get residency here, this decision may well be the final blow to the financial future of Costa Rica.

The legislature and the president should act immediately to defuse this time bomb, and the idiot judges who made the ruling should all be fired because they clearly, collectively have not even a shred of common sense.

Circle the wagons, folks. The Sala IV has just loosed the jackals on the good, honest, hardworking people of Costa Rica.
   
Dean Barbour 
Manuel Antonio
   

Who will filter information
if there are no newspapers?


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

With the arrival on the information divulging scene of the Internet, an information free-for-all has been created. That is both good and bad. Access to information heretofore unavailable or difficult to reach is good.  Let’s say we are less ignorant than before, and we are.  We can never have too much correct information, but we can have too much unsubstantiated information, which is what we are plagued with, making us scratch our heads as we wander around lost in a swamp of “I don’t know what to believe”.

So how do we solve that problem? I’m not sure we can. Government censorship is not the solution; governments need, for their own survival, that the public knows only certain things, those chosen by them.

A privately controlled filter to determine what is “fit to print” might sound appealing, but who pays for the surely high costs of filtering everything, and what private interests control the filter? The consumer, the producer, the moral protectors of religious groups, the human rights defenders, or the self-appointed promoters of political and economic correctness?

A series of privately controlled filters? We have them now. Given the circumstances, a free-for-all is better than a controlled press. You’ll just have to create your own filtering system. It will make you less ignorant, and that will help you in your decision making, and the country’s as well.

Besides lamenting the demise of the printed news in a very well focused editorial, the A.M. Costa Rica editor raised a question of primordial importance: Will the Internet strengthen or weaken democracy?

The answer is that it will strengthen it. There is nothing like the spotlight of the voice of the people shinning down into a rat hole to drive the rats deeper into their hole. It is only on the surface that rats can do their dirty work. That’s why corrupt governments and the controlling ones want we, the people, not to be able to shine any light by expressing our opinions.

The legitimate news interpreters and presenters will find a way to survive, if for no other reason than there will always be a demand by thinking people for no BS reporting, and it may not be with paper. So much for cleaning up messes on the floor with old newspapers. The day they come up with electronic milk and dog poop, that problem, too, will be solved. Just hit the “delete” button.
Robert Nahrgang S.
Escazú   

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 64


Court affirms power of regulator to oversee utility delivery
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Telephone users will be getting a small rebate. But the legal issue involved is much larger.

A court has held that the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos has the right to oversee the delivery of utilities to consumers.

The Juzgado Contencioso Administrativo y Civil de Hacienda agreed that the Authoridad has the power to order the Instituto Costarricense de Electicidad to make the rebates.

The issue grew out of the general strikes of workers, including those at the Instituto Costarricense de Electicidad, from May 16 to June 4, 2003. This is when the telephone company was not able to provide repair services and normal client reception. This also was the time that truckers
blocked major roads and the Abel Pacheco administration moved gently to quell the public disorder. Part of the reason for the strike was the free trade treaty with the United States that was being opposed by telephone and electrical monopoly unions.

Although the lack of service was the fault of the unions, the Authoridad ordered a rebate of 448 colons for fixed line customers and 172 colons for cellular customers for services that were not available. The amounts are 80 U.S. cents and 31 cents today, but the colon was worth more in 2003.

The authoridad ordered the rebates Nov. 18 in that year, but the electrical and communications monopoly appealed.

The key part of the ruling says that the Authoridad was correct in its interpretation that it has the power to oversee the delivery of services. The case involved a Sala IV decision in favor of the Authoridad, too.


Investigators search emergency commission offices in Pavas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 12 days after he presented his resignation investigators finally searched the office of Daniel Gallardo, head of the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias.

Gallardo resigned March 18 after allegations arose that he had directed contracts to companies for which he earlier served as lawyer.

The Poder Judicial confirmed Tuesday that searches were made at the emergency commission headquarters in Pavas and in Guápiles and Matina. The effort was under the direction of the Fiscalía Adjunta de Delitos Económicos, Corrupción y Tributarios of the Ministerio Público with the help of agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Newspaper and television reports say that contracts awarded to certain companies increased dramatically after Gallardo took over the job. In his position, he oversees repairs of the country's infrastructure, including bridges, after natural disasters.
Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, the minister of the Presidencia, said later in the day that Gallardo promised by telephone to provide his full support to the investigators.

Casa Presidencial also pointed out that he resigned March 18, effective April 13.

The firms involved are Constructora Industrial Especializada del Atlántico and Tajo Chirripó S. A.. The targets of the investigator also include a contracting official in the commission.

The Contraloría General de la República was the entity that filed the complaint. This is the government's budget watchdog agency. Some 10 projects are involved.

The Contraloría said that the commission should have designated independent representatives to award and oversee the contracts.

As a lawyer, Gallardo was the person who formed one of the companies. He took office in 2006 as a member of the Óscar Arias Sánchez Administration.


Another World Cup qualifying match scheduled for tonight with El Salvador
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national soccer teams of El Salvador and Costa Rica clash tonight at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, and both teams want to avoid the disappointments of Saturday.

That is when Costa Rica lost 2-0 to México at Mexico City. El Salvador was ahead 2-0 in a game against the U.S. team but let the victory turn into a tie by allowing two U.S. goals in the last few minutes.
This is the third of 10 matches that will determine which teams from this geographical area go to the World Cup playoff in South Africa next year.

The game here is at 8 p.m., so not much will be accomplished in Costa Rica from then until about 10 p.m. Police are setting up their usual protective measures.

This is the last qualifying match until June 6 when Costa Rica takes on bracket leader United States here.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 64


World Bank releases pessimistic report on eve of G20 talks
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The World Bank has released a dismal economic forecast for 2009, as G20 leaders prepare to meet this week in London on the global recession. The Global Economic Prospects report looks at the regions that have been hit the hardest.

Mick Riordan, World Bank senior economist, says it's been a long time since the forecast for growth was so pessimistic.

For the first time really since World War II, the World Bank expects to see a decline in Gross Domestic Product, he said. "That is the output of all industrial countries, as well as developing countries, and that decline is between 1 and 2 percent," he added. "So, really this is an unprecedented development for this year. We hopefully will be looking at a gradual recovery into 2010, but there's quite a bit of uncertainty about those figures. And for the moment we're concentrating on getting through this year."

Riordan outlines which regions are most affected by the economic decline.

The regions that have been hardest hit and which are actually going into recession include Central and Eastern Europe and Russia and the former Soviet republics and Latin America, Riordan said.

Russia is suffering from a sharp drop in oil prices, dealing a major blow to its economy. The price of oil is just one of the problems affecting Latin American countries, he said.

"The overall change in commodity prices – where we went from the boom in grains . . . and oil prices, which was generally beneficial to the region. That's turned around substantially and now this is a hurting factor for the region.
At the same time, you have many countries that are tightly linked with the United States, be it Mexico and their auto production, for example, linked to U.S. production. And that's going downhill quite quickly," says Riordan.

However, sub-Saharan African countries overall are fairing a bit better, he said.

The World Bank report takes a cautious approach in predicting a weak economic upturn next year.

"There are a number of moderately encouraging signs on the horizon. Statements by the Treasury and some of the actions by Federal Reserve have received good market response to date. The equity markets are starting to firm up, which is a positive. Again, it's very short term. But we're also seeing some lights at the end of the tunnel, which we hope is not the locomotive coming at us, in terms of U.S. spending orders and so forth. But we still have a long, long way to go," said Riordan.

That's because of such things as continued falling industrial and manufacturing production, down 50 percent in Japan, 20 percent in the United States and 15 percent in the developing world. The report says even if there's a slow rebound in 2010, "economic activity will remain depressed with disinflation and unemployment over the next two years."

"We hope that in the process of this G20 meeting that we get some more coordinated policies, possibly on the fiscal stimulus, or clearly on the financial reform side. And that these policies are effective in reducing uncertainty, which is another major factor in the financial markets," he says.

The World Bank senior economist says a positive outcome of the G20 meeting would be seeing some confidence restored and signs the financial markets are moving up.


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Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 64



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.

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.

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.

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

Embassy economics officer
will speak to local Kiwanis


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

David Henifin, counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in San José, will be the speaker Thursday at noon at Brad´s Grille on Via Lindora in Santa Ana when the San José Kiwanis meets.

Henifin, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, has served in Costa Rica since August 2006.  His previous assignment was in Washington, as deputy director for Andean affairs in the Department of State.

In August, he will return to Washington to serve on the Board of Examiners which administers the Foreign Service entrance examination.  Henifin's other Latin American assignments include La Paz, Bolivia, and Mexico City, Mexico.  In Washington, he was also assistant country officer for Bolivia and Colombia.

In other regions of the world, Henifin served in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Canberra, Australia.  In addition, he served in Washington in the Department of State's Bureau of Legislative Affairs, as the country officer for Australia, and as a career development officer.   He earned a master's degree in strategic studies from the National War College, and a bachelor's in international Relations from George Mason University.

Guests are welcome at Kiwanis meetings.  The luncheon cost is 5,000 colons.  Reservations are necessary at 2446-3840 or 8359-1758.


Window-breaking suspects
 set free by Pavas judge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A judge has declined to jail two men suspects of breaking the windows of vehicles and sticking up the occupants with firearms, according to the Poder Judicial.

The Fiscalía de Pavas sought three months of preventative detention for the two men. They are suspects in a wave of such crimes in Hatillo, Santa Ana and Escazú where traffic was tied up. They were detained during raids Monday morning in Hatillo 6.

Instead of putting the pair, 20 and 21, in jail, the Juzgado Penal de Pavas said that the men only had to sign in every 15 days, avoid leaving the country and avoid talking with victims or witnesses.


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A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 64


Latin American news digest
Officials passing the blame
in case of robbed cocaine

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law enforcement officials are playing the blame game in the robbery of 320 kilos of cocaine from police custody in Golfito.

The nation's chief prosecutor, Franciso Dall'Anese, said Tuesday that his agency, the Ministerio Público, was not responsible for the drug haul as soon as the evidence was turned over to the Poder Judicial.

The Poder Judicial notes that the court building holding the drugs was being guarded by Fuerza Pública officers.

The Policía de Control de Drogas, which also is in the security ministry with the Fuerza Pública, said that there was a problem getting a ministry airplane to fly the drugs to San José and safer quarters.

Five heavily armed men took the drugs from the court building early Thursday after overpowering the two police officers left to guard the structure.

Officials continue to search the southern zone for evidence of the whereabouts of the drug.

At the time of the robbery the only other police in the area seems to have been a patrol car crew of two.

Evidence of the crime points to an inside job because robbers used a fake domestic violence call to distract the patrol car crew while they approached the building in police uniforms.

The cocaine has a local value of about $1.6 million, but it is worth a lot more in the United States or Europe. Officials confiscated the drugs March 24 from an open boat that was found in Parque Nacional Corcovado on the Osa Peninsula.

Police found another open boat Tuesday. This one contained fuel and provisions probably destined for a drug boat en route to México from Columbia.

Officials also said that a drug boat was seized on the high seas without giving any more details. This boat will be brought into port today or tomorrow, they said.



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