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(506) 2223-1327               Published Monday, April 5, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 65        E-mail us
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Veronica and her veil
A.M. Costa Rica photos
Roman and torch

Veronica and her veil depicting
the face of Jesus Christ and one of many Romans were highlights of the dusk procession of the faithful
Friday in San José.


Judas night provokes riots all over the country
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weekend highlighted Costa Rica's growing juvenile problem.

This time the problem was not teenage killers. It was the annual burning of Judas, which has degenerated into arson and vandalism. The Fuerza Pública said it had detained more than 116 persons, mostly in Central Valley communities.

Holiday death toll lower
HERE!


Then Sunday soccer fans torched material at an Alajuela stadium and launched fireworks and bottle rockets at the professional players. The game between Alajuela and Saprissa had to be stopped because of the commotion, which required the assistance of firemen. Then the Cruz Roja workers in attendance threatened to withdraw because of the explosives.

The participants in quemar a Judas were mostly teens, and there were some young women. Police confiscated large quantities of vehicle tires, sticks and effigies of the fallen apostle. The night grows out of a religious tradition but has become more like Halloween in Detroit.

Although Saturday is the traditional night, youngsters and young adults in Parrita rioted Friday, broke the windshield of a patrol car and injured officers, said Marlon Cubillo of the Fuerza Pública in the province of Puntarenas.

Saturday and early Sunday in the Central Valley four more officers were injured in Heredia and two required attention at a hospital, said Daniel Calderón, the police director in that province. Problems were reported in San Joaquín, Santa Bárbara, San Rafael and Barva, he said. Six patrol cars suffered damage, mostly to windshields and police had to use tear gas to reestablish order.
Some 62 persons were detained in Heredia. In San José police detained 36. There were arrests in Alajuela and Puntarenas, too. Most of the charges involve throwing objects, obstructing highways and burning material. One person was found with a pistol.

The Fuerza Pública said the 14 persons will be turned over to the Ministerio Público for criminal prosecution because of the gravity of the crimes alleged.

There also were disturbances in Santa Ana and the Alajuela communities of Desamparados, San Rafael, Tambor and La Guácima.

Police had been prepared for the night, and said they had most of the problems under control by 2 a.m. although groups of teens lingered in the streets in places until 5 a.m.

The disruption at Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto took place after the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense scored what would prove to be the single winning goal in the game. As the second half drew to a close, the seats behind the Saprissa goal containing the bulk of the unruly fans broke out into fireworks. Bottle rockets shot into the area and even some larger skyrockets were seen.

The cause of the fire may have been the fireworks. It broke out in flammable material at the foot of the stands behind a wall and fence separating it from the playing field.

Players clutched their ears for protection and choked on the smoke. Firemen came on the scene. Two fans were carried off on stretchers. Then Cruz Roja officials said that they were leaving because having fireworks in the stands was a crime. The game could not continue without their presence.

Eventually they were convinced to stay and the referees added 15 more minutes to playing time to make up for the interruption.



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 65

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


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Real estate agents and services

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with Great Estates of Costa Rica

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Our reader's opinion
Point of view of Arias
consistent with speeches


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I take issue with Mr./Ms. Penner lambasting Oscar Arias about him daring to suggest, that Uruguay should seriously consider abolishing its army. Where does someone living in far-away British Columbia, Canada, have the gall to meddle in local Costa Rican affairs, anyway?

Our President is a visionary and an honorable man. Linking his bold campaign with the current attempt by the Fuerza Pública and the Policia del Transito to ensure that our roads are relatively safe during the upcoming Semana Santa holiday season is completely far-fetched and ill-advised. Don’t we all wish that Costa Rica’s police forces were more forward-looking on an ongoing basis in their endeavors to make this country’s roads safer place to drive.

Anybody who follows Oscar Arias’ speeches understands why he is very critical of Latin America spending billions on their armed forces, apparently used to fighting imaginary foes, when the continent needs much more investment in education and public services. If anybody has the right to take issue with the president’s campaign, then it’s most likely the Uruguayans themselves, some of which have done so, whether rightly or wrongly.
Marcel M. Pfister
Uvita, Osa, Puntarenas

Villalobos victim says
he's grateful for closure


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Closure at last!
 
Firstly, I would like to commend A.M. Costa Rica on its ongoing and informative reporting of the Villalobos case over the past years: the investigation, the arrests, the court trial and finally the court awards to the investor/victims. It is finally winding down and will soon be over. The first payments of the 38.59% settlement are being wired out and the second payment should follow shortly.

I would also like to commend the efforts of the lawyers, especially Sr. E. Acuña, who has been often criticized for his role in the proceedings. But without their ongoing efforts and petitions on our behalf to keep the case active in the eyes of the court, we, the investors, would probably not have received as much as has been allotted. The United Concerned Citizens and Jack Caine's group are still waiting and hoping.

I, for one, am very pleased and grateful  to receive a percentage of my original court award. It will help with current lifestyle expenses but, most importantly, it will bring closure to all of us.   Eight years is a long time to be in limbo. We can now close the door on our folly abetted by greed and get on with what is left of our lives.

I wish all the other groups luck in their endeavor to recover their investment but I, for one, can now walk away with some compensation in my pocket and faith that justice, pursued by lawyers like Sr. E. Acuña, can prevail even in Costa Rica.

Again, I say thank you for the many Canadians who have benefited from the efforts of Sr. Acuña et. al.

Muchas gracias,
Jim Irwin
Toronto, Ontario

Returning Nicaraguans
slowed by lack of visas


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The immigration director estimates that some 6,000 Nicaraguans entered Costa Rica last week by Saturday night.

The immigration director, Mario Zamora, characterized the work at the Peñas Blancas border crossing as relatively tranquil because the Costa Rican consulate that issues visas to Nicaraguans was closed until today. So he said he expects a larger flow of Nicaraguans who need to obtain a visa during this week.

The flow of Nicaraguans leaving Costa Rica last week to spend Semana Santa with relatives in their home country has been described as chaos. Zamora took personal charge of the immigration operations and said that he increased the staff and that the office is open from 6 a.m. to midnight.

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


For your international reading pleasure:


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 65

Cruz Roja ocean patrols
Cruz Roja photos
Emergency workers said they made more than 100 rescues, mostly in the Pacific
Easter holiday saw fewer violent deaths than last year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Emergency officials seem to have succeeded in reducing the holiday death toll.

The Cruz Roja said Sunday night that it registered 21 violent deaths compared to the 35 who died in the same period in 2009.

The emergency agency also said that its workers and volunteers rescued more than 100 persons from danger in the water over the Semana Santa.

Women fared much better than men this holiday. Only one woman died. She was Ligia Monge Monge, 40, of Llano Grande de Cartago. The Cruz Roja said she was the victim of aggression. She joined three other persons who died from firearms or knives during the week.

The most deaths came, as is typical, from water accidents. There were eight, according to the Cruz Roja statistics. They

ranged in age from 16 to 40.  Four person died in motor vehicle accidents.

There did not appear to be any North American expats among the week's victims. Three deaths were classified as causes unknown, so the statistical information might be updated early this week.

In addition, the Cruz Roja said that its ambulances transported 42 persons who were listed as being in delicate condition. That is equivalent to critical in North American terminology.  The Judicial Investigating Organization will have a confirmed list of holiday deaths early this week.

The lower number of highway deaths might be linked to the intensive efforts by both traffic police and the Fuerza Pública to crack down on drunks.

The Cruz Roja reported that it operated 60 aid stations, both in the Central Valley and in the exits from most of the tourist areas.

Cruz Roja aid station
Cruz Roja workers and volunteers provided aid and assistance to motorists at more than 60 locations


Here's a romance that bridged the ocean and language
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Every couple knows that a long-distance relationship is tough. But how about if there is a language barrier.

That did not matter to Tarín Gutiérrez Montero and Thomas Liebig, who were married Saturday after a seven-year courtship.

He is German, and speaks halting English. The former Miss Gutiérrez speaks some English but does not do German. The groom is enrolling in Spanish classes probably this week.

This could be called an Internet marriage, because after meeting her future husband while on vacation in Germany the couple remained in contact electronically. So it was appropriate that Saturday night at the Casa Conde Aparthotel & Suites near Parque de la Paz the whole ceremony was beamed via the Internet to Germany for some of the groom's relatives who could not attend.

A lot of grooms are a little disoriented on their wedding day. The new husband had an additional problem; a wedding ceremony in Spanish. Fortunately Barbara Jiménez, the lawyer-notary performing the civil marriage, is fluent in both English and Spanish.  She translated her own words and said that she went over some of the dull material beforehand so as not to prolong the ceremony.

As is traditional in Costa Rica, after the obligatory civil marriage, a couple can choose a religious one. That is where Marilena Salas, the minister of the Gutiérrez church, came in. She provided the religious blessing and consecrated the rings.
young couple
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Newlyweds Tarín Gutiérrez Montero and Thomas Liebig

Liebig will become another expat businessman here. He said he is starting up his German firm here soon.

He is the son of Monika and Wolfgang Liebig in Germany. She is the daughter of Julio Gutiérrez Morales and Flory Montero of Desamparados.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 65


Water data used to calculate rise of the Andes Mountains

By the University of Michigan news service

Trailing like a serpent's spine along the western coast of South America, the Andes are the world's longest continental mountain range and the highest range outside Asia, with an average elevation of 13,000 feet.

The question of how quickly the mountains attained such heights has been a contentious one in geological circles, with some researchers claiming the central Andes rose abruptly to nearly their current height and others maintaining the uplift was a more gradual process.

New research by paleoclimatologist Christopher Poulsen and colleagues at the University of Michigan suggests that the quick-rise view is based on misinterpreted evidence. What some geologists interpret as signs of an abrupt rise are actually indications of ancient climate change, the researchers say. Their findings were scheduled to be published online in Science Express.

The confusion results when ratios of oxygen's two main isotopes, oxygen-18 and oxygen-16, are used to estimate past elevation, said Poulsen, an associate professor with appointments in the departments of Geological Sciences and Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences.

"In the modern climate, there is a well-known inverse relationship between oxygen isotopic values in rain and elevation," Poulsen said. "As a rain cloud ascends a mountain range, it begins to precipitate. Because oxygen-18 is more massive than oxygen-16, it is preferentially rained out. Thus, as you go up the mountain, the precipitation becomes more and more depleted in oxygen-18, and the ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16 decreases."

Geologists use the ratio of these isotopes, preserved in rock, to infer past elevations.
"If the ratio decreases with time, as the samples get younger, the interpretation would typically be that there has been an increase in elevation at that location," Poulsen said.

In fact, that's exactly the conclusion of a series of papers on the uplift history of the Andes published over the past four years. Using oxygen isotopes in carbonate rocks, the authors posited that the central Andes rose about 8,200 to 11,500 feet in three million years, rather than gaining height over tens of millions of years, as other geologists believe.

But elevation isn't the only factor that affects oxygen isotope ratios in rain, Poulsen said. "It can also be affected by where the vapor came from and how much it rained—more intense rainfall also causes oxygen-18 to be preferentially rained out."

Skeptical of the rapid-rise scenario, he and his colleagues performed climate modeling experiments to address the issue.

"The key result in our modeling study is that we identified an elevation threshold for rainfall," Poulsen said. "Once the Andes reached an elevation greater than 70 percent of the current elevation, the precipitation rate abruptly increased. In our model, the increased precipitation also caused the ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16 to significantly decrease. Our conclusion, then, is that geologists have misinterpreted the isotopic records in the central Andes.

"The decrease in the ratio is not recording an abrupt increase in elevation; it is recording an abrupt increase in rainfall."

This conclusion is backed up by geochemical and sedimentological data, Poulsen said. "There is evidence that the central Andes became less arid at the same time that the isotope records show a decrease in the ratio of oxygen-18 to oxygen-16."



One person reported to have been killed in 7.2 Mexican earthquake

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican officials say a strong 7.2-magnitude earthquake has killed at least one person in the western Mexico-U.S. border region.

They say the quake collapsed a house and killed a person inside in the northern Mexico city of Mexicali Sunday.

The officials say other people are trapped in buildings in the region.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was centered in Baja California, south of Mexico's border with
the United States.  It was reported to be about 26 kilometers below ground, some 170 kilometers (about 105 miles)  from Tijuana, Mexico. The earthquake was felt in Los Angeles, California, and as far east as Phoenix, Arizona in the U.S. 

Residents of southern California reported a long, rolling quake that shook furniture and dishes.

There have been some power outages and reports of stalled elevators in Los Angeles.

The Survey has recorded several aftershocks.  The biggest was a 5.1-magnitude tremor in Imperial, California, just north of the border.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 65

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Russian to aid Venezuela
in nuclear power quest


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russia has agreed to help Venezuela draw up plans to build a nuclear power plant.

Atomic energy was one of many areas of cooperation discussed as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made his first trip to the South American country.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said Friday the goal of the power plant is to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and not to develop a bomb.

The two leaders also signed agreements aimed at deepening their countries' financial and military ties.

They formalized an agreement to establish a joint venture for oil and gas exploration in eastern Venezuela. 

Putin finished his trip to Venezuela Friday by meeting with both Bolivian President Evo Morales and President Chávez in Caracas.

Chávez has forged close ties with Russia in recent years and has spent more than $4 billion on Russian-made weapons.  Venezuela relies on China and Russia as its main military suppliers.

The United States has previously cautioned Venezuela against continuing its arms buildup, warning its actions could endanger regional stability.

Agrentine president presses
claim over the Falklands


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has restated her country's claim to the disputed Falkland Islands, but says Argentina will not resort to military force again to win control of the British-held territory.

President Fernández spoke Friday in the southern city of Ushuaia at an event marking the 28th anniversary of the Falklands War.  President Fernández said Argentina will continue to press its case on the international front.

The south Atlantic archipelago has been under British control since 1833.  Argentina invaded the islands on April 2, 1982, and held them for two months until British forces retook control.  More than 600 Argentine and 255 British troops were killed.

The islands are nearly 500 kilometers from the South American coast.  Argentina asserts its sovereignty over them, saying they are located on Argentina's continental shelf and thus within its sphere of economic influence.  Argentina refers to them as Las Malvinas.

In February, the dispute with Britain escalated after a British oil exploration company began drilling off the islands. 

Billions of barrels of oil and natural gas are believed to lie beneath the south Atlantic seabed.


For your international reading pleasure:


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 65


Latin American news
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quake map
U.S. Geological Survey map
U.S. earthquake watchers said they received 51 reports from 27 different locations in Costa Rica about the quake. These are shown by blue dots.

Thursday's earthquake
was elusive for monitors

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The situation could be called dueling seismologists. When an earthquake took place Thursday about 2:50 p.m., reports from two monitoring stations differed widely.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica estimated the quake at a 5.2 magnitude and said it was the result of the continual friction between the Cocos tectonic plate and that of Panamá. The observatory placed the quake along the Central Pacific coast south of Dominical. The observatory is located at Universidad Nacional in Heredia.

That was not what the U.S. Geological Survey said from its National Earthquake Information Service in Golden, Colorado.  The quake had a 4.4 magnitude and was centered somewhere in the Talamanca mountains 55 kms (35 miles) west southwest of Limón Centro.

The Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica had no report, perhaps because of the Semana Santa holiday.

Several readers expressed dismay at what they considered to be the failure of science. But it has only been in the last 40 years that the majority of geologists even believed in tectonic plates, so earthquake assessment appears to be more of an art than science.

The U.S. Geological survey said it logged 51 earthquake reports from Costa Rica about the quake. Most were in the west end of the Central Valley. Only one appears to have been in the Dominical area.




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