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(506) 223-1327            Published Tuesday, April 3, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 66          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Way of Cross

Amid incense and prayers, a procession, featuring the likeness of Jesus Christ mounted on a flatbed truck, made its way down Avenida 2 Monday night, as yet another day of Semana Santa was celebrated by the faithful.

The Via Crucis or the Way of the Cross commemorates the path Jesus took to his crucifixion, according to Christian theology.

Meanwhile, sundown also marked the beginning of Passover for local Jews.

way of the cross
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

Volcán Turrialba  having one of its periodic spasms
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Volcán Turrialba, the mountain 24 kms. (15 miles) northeast of the town by the same name, is showing a little activity, and officials are restricting visits to the area. But the activity is periodic and not necessarily an indication of an eruption soon.

The last major eruption of the mountain was in 1866 when ash fell as far away as central Nicaragua. There was a large column of smoke and sulfur put out by the volcano in 1920, according to newspapers of the day.

More recently, there had been activity noted in the central crater of the volcano since 1978, according to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica at Universidad Nacional in Heredia.

Since 2000 there has been smoke and steam from the central and western craters with temperatures between 89 and 92 degrees C. (192 to 198 F.), said the observatory.

The volcano is within the Parque Nacional Volcán Turrialba, and the area attracts visitors daily. The
Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said it wants to limit the number of tourists who will be near the main crater at one time, particularly now that the crater is more photogenic.

The Turrialba shares geological roots with the Volcán Irazú, which last had a major eruption in 1963 and dumped ash for two years on the Central Valley.

Irazú also is called the Cartago volcano because of its location, some 30 kms. (about 19 miles) northeast of that city. Both volcanoes are east of San José.

Scientists consider the Turrialba volcano as one of the most dangerous for heavily populated Central Valley to the west, according to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico.

The Red Sismológica Nacional of the Universidad de Costa Rica and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad reports it maintains a permanent monitoring station 5 kms. (about 3 miles) east of the active main crater.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 3, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 66

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Glencairn gets $23.1 million
from Bellavista mine in 2006

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Glencairn Gold Corp. took 38,830 ounces from the Bellavista mine in western Costa Rica during 2006, the company reported Monday.

The gold, worth an average of $595 an ounce, represented revenue of $23.1 million, according to the Canadian company's annual report.

The company said that each ounce produced cost it $316, a decrease from the $351-per-ounce of the previous year.

Still, output was lower than expected because the company had a delay in starting up its mill and faced mechanical problems, it said, predicting higher production this year.

Overall the company reported revenue increased 169 percent to $52.2 million in 2006 compared to revenue of $19.4 million in 2005. And gold sales increased 100 percent to 86,536 ounces, with the first full year of production from Bellavista and the mid-year acquisition of Libertad in Nicaragua, compared to 43,228 ounces in 2005.

Still the company posted a loss for 2006 of $7.4 million, including a $6.4 million loss at the Libertad Mine and a $2.8 million provision covering estimated future remediation of properties the company holds in Manitoba.

The company had a $4.1 million loss in 2005.

Holiday stops increase
in prices of some gasolines

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motorists are getting a bit of a price break over Semana Santa.

The agency that regulates prices has approved an increase in super and aviation gasoline, but thanks to the holidays the measure will not be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper until at least April 11, said the agency.

The Imprenta Nacional that produces the newspaper that contains all the current government actions is on vacation.

The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos said it approved the increases Friday. They were sought by the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo, the nation's fuel monopoly. Super will go up 16 colons to 533 colons per liter, about $1.02. Aviation gas will go up 28 colons to 581, some $1.12.

The refinery said it needed the high prices due to the higher cost of raw material due to international conflicts and lower reserves in the United States where fuel oil is used extensively for home heating.

Arias to lobby for refinery
in short visit to México

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez is going to México after the Easter holiday to participate in a summit of the countries involved in the Plan Puebla Panamá.

Arias said that one of his goals is to lobby for locating a regional refinery in Costa Rica.

Guatemala and Panamá are other options, Arias noted. The petroleum would come from the Mexican state company Pemex for distribution of the refined products to the rest of Central America.

Plan Puebla Panamá is a regional development compact among nine countries to link power lines, roadways and other forms of infrastructure to better the lives of inhabitants.

The meeting will be in Campeche. Arias will return Tuesday evening.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 3, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 66

Two downtown robberies have very different outcomes
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men who had been drinking ran into robbers in the downtown but the outcomes were very different.

In one case about 11 p.m. Sunday night, a victim managed to stab fatally one of his two assailants. The incident was well-covered because it took place in front of reporters and photographers from at least three media companies.

But Monday afternoon, a robber knocked down another male victim, and the man smashed his head against the sidewalk. He lay bleeding at the site for at least an hour while 911 dispatch workers tried to find a free ambulance to send to the scene.

The case Sunday night happened at Avenida 4 at Calle 6, within view of the Diario Extra and Prensa Libre offices. Nearby is a cafe where Repretel camera crews frequent.

A man officials believe had been drinking left a bar and began to walk along Calle 6. He was set upon by two men in their 20s. One grabbed him in a choke hold and the other tried to search his pockets, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Newspeople heard the commotion and came to the man's aid. The two robbers stopped their attack, and the victim took the opportunity to produce a knife that he rammed into the neck of one of the criminals, said investigators.

Then the victim and the robbers fled. Fuerza Pública officers caught up with two suspects in a nearby park, and one had to be taken to Hospital San Juan de Dios where he died, said agents.

The dead man was identified by agents as Luis Alberto Araya Acuña, 26. Investigators are seeking the victim.

The second incident happened at Avenida 5 between calles 6 and 8 in the vicinity of the Mercado Borbon. That is where Fuerza Pública officers found a man identified as José Alberto Sánchez, 44, on the sidewalk bleeding heavily from the head, said officer Marco Jiménez.

Witnesses told police that the man, who had been
downed man
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Bystander tries to help José Alberto Sánchez

drinking had been attacked and knocked down by a drug addict who took 10,000 colons (about $19.25) and $20 in U.S. currency. Most of the injuries seemed to come from impact with the sidewalk.

Police are not allowed to provide first aid, and Sánchez lay on the sidewalk for at least an hour while repeated calls to the 911 emergency number failed to generate a response by an ambulance. Paramedics ride with ambulances.

Detained nearby was a man known only by the first name of Michael, said police. He was identified as a known addict. The Policía Municipal also assisted.

The case of the victim killing an attacker is not unique. Two weeks ago a victim shot to death a robber who tried to take a cellular telephone on Avenida 10. The victim has not been located.

INTERPOL and Diplomatic Security agents here get credit in Kaplan arrest
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. law enforcement officials are crediting the expertise of the International Police Agency (INTERPOL) and U.S. law officers in Costa Rica in tracking down Gary Stephen
gary kaplan
Gary Kaplan
Kaplan in the Dominican Republic.

Kaplan was the operator of the Costa Rica-based Internet gambling business, He was detained by the Dominican national police in a Santo Domingo hotel, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern district of the U.S. State of Missouri, which is handling the case.

"Interpol Washington and
Interpol Buenos Aires have worked tirelessly in cooperation with the International Police in providing information that was crucial in the apprehension and deportation of Kaplan," said Roland Corvington, special agent in charge of the FBI St. Louis, Missouri, office, in  a press release.

"The U.S. State Department, specifically in Costa Rica, has provided and will continue to provide vital assistance in relation to all aspects of this investigation, including the apprehension and deportation of fugitives such as Gary Kaplan,” he added.

“Diplomatic Security's regional security offices in the Caribbean area maintain excellent working relationships with local law enforcement personnel in the Dominican Republic and throughout the region, thus enabling the capture,” said Greg B. Starr, director of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service.

The arrest stems from a federal grand jury indictment
returned in the Eastern District of Missouri June 1. The indictment names Kaplan and 10 other individuals and four corporations. In 22 counts the indictment alleges that the defendants engaged in racketeering, conspiracy and fraud arising out of the operation of Costa Rica-based Internet gambling businesses, including

Kaplan, who was taken to Puerto Rico for a preliminary court appearance, is personally charged with 20 felony violations of federal laws including the Wire Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Conspiracy, interstate transportation of gambling paraphernalia, interference with the administration of Internal Revenue laws and tax evasion, said the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The indictment alleges that Kaplan and Norman Steinberg, as the owners and operators of BetonSports affiliated Web sites and sportsbooks, took, or caused their employees to take, bets from undercover federal agents in St. Louis who used undercover identities to open wagering accounts.

The indictment also alleges that Kaplan and a Florida business, Mobile Promotions, illegally transported equipment used to place bets and transmit wagering information across state lines and that a related Florida business, DME Global Marketing and Fulfillment, shipped equipment to Costa Rica from Florida, for

The racketeering conspiracy charge alleges that the defendants agreed to conduct an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering acts, including repeated mail fraud, wire fraud, operation of an illegal gambling business and money laundering.

Co-owner Steinberg is still at large, as is co-defendant Peter Wilson. Other defendants were arrested last year after the apprehension of former BetonSports PLC director David Carruthers in Texas July 17.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 3, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 66

U.S. trade report cites unfair barriers blocking access
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Unfair trade barriers continue to block U.S. access to several important markets, according to a new report from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“Counterfeiting and piracy, unjustified sanitary and phytosanitary measures, inefficient, nontransparent customs regimes, high tariff barriers and closed services markets continue to hinder U.S. access to foreign markets,” Warren Maruyama, the general counsel in the trade rep office. He spoke with reporters following the release of the annual National Trade Estimate on Foreign Barriers report Monday.

"A significant amount of work remains to knock down trade barriers and ensure that American exporters have new economic opportunities across the globe," Susan Schwab, the U.S. trade representative, said in a press release issued the same day.

Ms. Schwab said the United States continues to use all enforcement tools at its disposal to ensure fair treatment for U.S. workers and consumers.

Maruyama said the United States continues to be concerned about Europe's trade-distorting subsidies to the aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus and remains concerned about China's prohibited subsidy practices.

The United States has requested World Trade Organization dispute resolution consultations on China's apparent use of prohibited export and import substitution subsidies, which the trade rep office says harm small and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers.

The United States also has said it will ask for World Trade Organization consultations if China does not enforce intellectual property rights protections.
Inadequate intellectual property right protections reduce U.S. access to China's market and other countries' markets for such products as films, music, published materials, software, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, information technology, consumer goods, industrial goods, food products, medical devices, electrical equipment, automotive parts, clothing and footwear, according to the release.

Other trade problems include several countries' blocking of U.S. beef exports, and India's discriminatory taxes on wine and distilled spirits, Maruyama said.

The United States has requested dispute settlement consultations on those taxes.

The report detailed barriers to U.S. trade and international investment in 63 major trading partners. Maruyama said the U.S. administration has achieved significant success in advancing its pro-growth, market-opening trade agenda.

He said that in the past year the United States has negotiated free trade agreements with Panamá, Colombia and Peru after resolving long-standing food safety issues and reaching agreements covering meat, poultry, rice, dairy and processed foods.

The United States just concluded a free trade agreement with South Korea.

Also during 2006, China removed anti-dumping duties on certain U.S. paper products, making the removal one of the United States' notable successes in working to eliminate trade barriers, the trade office said.

Other successes were  market access agreements reached with Vietnam, Russia and Ukraine. The agreements will result in substantial new market access for U.S. goods and services when those countries join the World Trade Organization, the trade office said.

Both sides mark 25th anniversary of Argentine attempt to take Falkland Islands
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Leaders in Argentina and Britain have participated in events commemorating the start of the war both countries fought over the Falkland Islands 25 years ago.

Argentina, which launched a failed military attempt to seize the Falklands April 2, 1982, said Monday it would continue trying to win control of the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas.

Vice President Daniel Scioli said the islands have always been Argentine and always will be. Scioli made his remarks in the city of Ushuaia during an event marking the start of the war.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Tony Blair met with veterans of the conflict aboard a British warship. Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister during the Falklands war, laid a wreath at London's Saint Paul's Cathedral to remember the Britons killed during the conflict.

The death toll from the 74-day war included 655 Argentines, 255 Britons and three islanders.

On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett issued a statement expressing continuing regret over the deaths suffered by both sides in the conflict. She said the Falkland Islands government and Britain would invite family members of the dead Argentines to hold a memorial service on the islands later this year.

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