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(506) 2223-1327       Published Monday, April 6, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 67     E-mail us
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ramas del domingo
A.M. Costa Rica photos
Catholics in San José are in a sea of palm fronds on their way to the cathedral
Bright, sunny day greets Catholics in procession
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jesus Christ was conspicuously absent during the Palm Sunday procession in San José, but there was a passel of apostles.

The procession headed by the ruling archbishop almost always features an actor imitating Christ and usually riding on a burro. There was no burro Sunday either. But hundreds of Catholic believers turned the Avenida 4 pedestrian mall into a sea of palm fronds. In Spanish, the day is Domingo de ramas. In any language it commemorates the traditional arrival of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem at the beginning of the key few days in Christian belief. The residents of Jerusalem were said to wave palm fronds as a welcome.

Although not commenting directly on the change of plans, some involved in the procession said that an actor dressed as Christ would appear in similar religious walks Thursday and Friday.

At other similar events, there were varying depictions of Christ. In Barva de Heredia, Christ was a statue but the burro was real.

In San José the faithful, accompanied by a sound truck, walked under clear skies from the church of Nuestra Señora de la Merced east to the Catedral Metropolitana for a Mass.

Participants covered all age groups. They walked through a two-story structure representing the gates of biblical Jerusalem that is erected every year with plastic-covered blocks. Coincidentally, workmen put the structure up adjacent to the Yuma y Jerusalem de Costa Rica department store, a new addition to the refurbished Avenida 4.

Catholics will be outdoors again at 7 o'clock tonight for Stations of the Cross along Avenida 2. Once again they will be led by Archbishop Hugo Barrantes.

Other processions are planned for Wednesday and Thursday. Friday there are two processions, including the burial procession of Christ after a 3:30 p.m. service at the cathedral. Other churches have their own schedule, although most are not as
apostles and followers
Biblical dress was the style for some men and women

Bishop among the ramas
Archbishop Hugo Barrantes, flanked by priests and apostle characters, is nearly hidden save for his golden miter, which has its origins in the 11th century.

ambitious as the one planned by cathedral officials.

Both Thursday and Friday are legal holidays in Costa Rica.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 6, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 67

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Officials watching Arenal
after volcano gives hints


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Emergency commission officials say they are keeping a close eye on Volcán Arenal, the much visited tourist site near La Fortuna de San Carlos.

Guillermo Alvarado of the Red Sismológica Nacional said that scientists have been watching the mountain since early this year and more closely since the beginning of March when some small quakes were detected there.

Such events preceded eruptions in 1975, 1993, 1998, 2000 and 2001, he said.

Of concern to the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias is that during Semana Santa the area is full of local tourists enjoying the holiday. In fact, La Fortuna is famous for its Good Friday procession that features locals dressed as biblical figures.

Officials asked that tourists respect the restricted zone around the volcano and to report any strange activity that they might observe.

La Fortuna is in 24-hour radio contact with emergency headquarters in Pavas because of concerns about the active volcano.

In addition, an Oxford University study contradicts those who say that earthquakes do not have an effect on nearby volcanos. The Jan. 8 earthquake near Volcan Poás may also have affected Arenal.

The Oxford University study says that very large earthquakes can trigger an increase in activity at nearby volcanoes. It is a statistical study based on geological history in southern Chile that shows up to four times as many volcanic eruptions occur during the year following very large earthquakes than in other years. This volcanic surge can affect volcanoes up to at least 500 kms. (310 miles) away from an earthquake’s epicenter.

The Poás volcano is just 10 kms. (6 miles) from the Jan. 8 epicenter, which was 35 kms. or 22 miles northwest of San José.

Experts from the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica have downplayed any suggestion that the killer quake would spur activity at Volcan Poás, although they reported a surge of gases at the time of the quake.

Previously, scientists had identified a few cases where volcanic eruptions follow very large earthquakes — but up until now it had been difficult to show statistically that such earthquakes may be the cause of an increase in eruptions, rather than the events just being a coincidence, said the university.

"The most unexpected part of this discovery was the considerable distance from the earthquake rupture where these eruptions took place, and the length of time for which we saw increased volcanic activity," said Sebastian Watt, a doctoral student in Oxford’s Department of Earth Sciences, who conducted the analysis, which was published in January.

"This suggests that seismic waves, radiating from the earthquake rupture, may trigger an eruption by stirring or shaking the molten rock beneath volcanoes. The disturbances that result from this lead to eruption but, because of the time it takes for pressure to build up inside a volcano and for magma to move towards the surface, an eruption may not occur until some months after the earthquake," Watt added.

Watt examined the volcanic eruption and earthquake records of southern Chile where, in 1835, Charles Darwin first speculated on the link between earthquakes and eruptions, the university said. By careful analysis of historical records, he discovered that volcanic activity increased for about a year after each of the very largest earthquakes in southern Chile during the past 150 years, said the university, adding that the volcanoes most likely to be affected lay within about 500 kms. of the earthquake epicenter, and included both dormant and active volcanoes.

The great Chilean earthquakes in 1906 and 1960 (the largest earthquake ever recorded) were each followed by activity at six or seven volcanoes — a significant increase on the average eruption rate of about 1 per year, according to the study.

That would suggest that the Jan. 8 quake might have affected all the volcanoes in the nation's central mountain range.

Slight dip in gas, diesel
approved by price agency


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There will be little change this month in the price of gasoline, but diesel is going down 29 colons a liter, about five U.S. cents.

That was the word Friday from the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, which sets the fuel prices each month.

When the new prices are published, super gasoline will be just four colons cheaper, about seven tenths of one U.S. cent. The price will be 484 colons (86 cents) per liter. Plus stays the same at 474 colons per liter (84 cents), and diesel will be 386 colons a liter (68.5 cents), down 29 colons.

All other petroleum products, including liquid gas will go down except aviation gasoline that is increased 10 colons (less than two cents) to 690 a liter (about $1.23 per liter).

Because of the Semana Santa at the La Gaceta official newspaper, the new prices will not be published until April 15, the Authoridad said.

More firms are contenders
for telecom concessions


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones has accepted nine more entities that wish to provide telcom services. This means the firms have provided all the technical and financial information the Superintendencia requires.

The firms join nine others that already are on the list.

Companies that have been accepted as candidates for services include Credit Card Services, LTDA., which seeks to provide international calls with prepaid telephone cards; Redes Inalambricas de Costa Rica S.A., which seeks to set up wireless corporate networks; Intertel Worldwide S.A., which is providing business and home telephone connections via voice-over-Internet protocol; Grupo Publicidad e Internet S.A., which seeks to connect a private network among its offices; Telecomunicaciones Integrales de Costa Rica TICOM S.A., which seeks to establish a full-scale telephone system with prepaid codes, and Telecable Económico T.V.E.S.A., which seeks to provide wide-band Internet service using coaxial and fiber optic cable.

Also being accepted are three more Internet cafes that seek to provide voice-over-Internet services. They are: Inversiones Karl del Este S.A., Computación del Caribe S.A. and an individual Marco Vinicio Ulloa Umaña.

Intertel is the company that has posted pay phones around the San José area that provide cheap international calling over the Internet. The company has been involved in a dispute with regulators and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the one-time government telecom monopoly.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 6, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 67


A crowd gathers at what is now Parque Nacional Sept. 15, 1895, for the inauguration of the Monumento Nacional. This was during the presidency of Rafael Iglesias and the purpose was to raise the status of Costa Rica in the eyes of other Central American nations by stressing the country's role in the overthrow of William Walker.
inauguration of Monumento Nacional
Archivo Nacional photo


National archive and U.N. seek to preserve memories
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Archivo Nacional is seeking nominations for the Memory of the World Programme that seeks to preserve documentary heritage that reflects cultures.

The program is by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which says it seeks to guard against collective amnesia by calling upon the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world ensuring their wide dissemination.

The Archivo Nacional in Zapote is where many of Costa Rica's documents and other historical artifacts are kept.

The archive staff has recognized three themes that serve to identify the Costa Rican people. These are the Casona de Santa Rosa, representing the 19th century war against U.S. filibusterers; the gastronomic tradition and the boyeros and their carretas.

The boyero and the ox cart already has been recognized as a part of world heritage.

Now the archive is seeking other examples that could be text, photos, videos and other tangible expressions of the memories of the country.

Closing date for nominations is July 31, and further explanations are on the archive's Web site.

Virginia Chacón Arias, director of the archive, said that nominees could be stamps, designs, maps, film or similar.

As an example, the archive provided a photo of the inauguration of the Monumental Nacional in 1895 and an engraving done of the so-called Campaña Nacional, the 1856 war carried out against William Walker and his allies in Nicaragua. Walker sought to annex Central America to the United States as slave states.

The Battle of Santa Rosa and the Battle of Rivas were key
campaña Nacional
Archivo Nacional photo
Engraving of scene from the Campaña Nacional

victories for Costa Rican forces and led to the eventual flight of Walker.

The Monumental Nacional, done by French sculptor Louis Carrier Belleuse in Paris in 1891, commemorates that victory. The statute, which still is in Parque Nacional in San José, shows five women, representing the Costa Rican nations, attacking a cowering William Walker. The base of the statute contains reliefs of versions scenes of the campaign. The bronze statue was refurbished just four years ago. The monument was unveiled Sept. 15, 1895.

The program eventually will elevate some national documents to the level of regional and then world memories. Ms. Chacón said that some possible documentation could include those relating to the abolishment of the death penalty in Costa Rica or the abolishment of the army.

She also suggested personal papers of Franklin Chang Diez, the first Latin America-born astronaut, those of President Óscar Arias Sánchez, and those related to the Interamerican Court of Justice, which is based in San José. Worldwide, outstanding documents include the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the new world between Spain and Portugal, and the Gutenberg Bible.


Tibás administration causes Fernández to miss his concert
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Vincente Fernández Gómez is known as El Rey, the king, in Latin music circles. The 69-year-old ranchero singer is a mixture of Elvis, Bing Crosby, Roy Rogers and Madonna, and he has sold 50 million records.

The Mexican star went on stage hours after his father died and again just after learning his son was kidnapped. He has never missed a concert date. That is, until he came to Tibás Saturday night.

The municipality shut down Saprissa stadium and left 18,000 ticketholders singing the blues. The sponsors of the show, 28 Producciones, claims it was blindsided.
The official demands, presented a few minutes before the  close of business Friday, included an engineering study of the stage and a plan for the disposal of solid waste generated by fans.

This is the same stadium that hosted X-Knight and routinely sees major league soccer.

Promoters plan to have Fernández back April 28, although those with tickets can get refunds.

The 24-hours before the concert saw a flurry of legal and political action trying to overturn the municipal ban.  Many fans were enraged because they had traveled great distances to see the show.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 6, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 67


Murders, shootings mar weekend in Alajuela, Paso Canoas and Goicoechea
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weekend was a violent one with three murders, one related suicide, an attack on a police station that ended in the shooting of the attacker and the death of one man in a fire. But one murder suspect came into the hands of investigators.

In Barrio San José de Alajuela shortly before midnight Saturday a man came to the door of a home, shot in the leg the boy who answered the door and then killed the mother when she appeared.

The man, identified by the last name of Rojas then staged an attack on a nearby police station and wounded one officer there. He then was brought down by police bullets not far away. He died on the way to a hospital.

In Barrio San Jorge in Paso Canoas near the Panamá border Saturday a man shot to death his estranged wife and her cousin before turning the gun on himself. He was identified by the last name of Víquez.
In Goicoechea north of San José a 34-year-old man with the last name of Robertson died when he was shot in the head during a bar fight in Calle Blancos Saturday.

The fire was early Sunday morning in Trinidad de Moravia where about a half dozen small homes were destroyed. Dead in the blaze was a man identified by the last name of Rodríguez.

Friday morning agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization detained a 30-year-old man in the execution-style slaying of a 16-year-old Feb. 17. This is the case where four men abducted the 16-year-old and a 20-year-old companion from San Rafael Abajo Desamparados.

The dead youth was Vladimir Villalobos Castro. They were taken to San Ignacio de Acosta where the shooting took place. The older victim managed to save himself by throwing himself down a hill. The arrest early Friday took place in San Pedro in the Calle de las Amaguras, the location of popular nightspots.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 6, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 67



A.M. Costa Rica

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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

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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.



Black Caucus members
on study trip to Cuba


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Havana Friday to meet with Cuban officials.

Rep. Barbara Lee, who heads the delegation, said the group's agenda was not fully set but that they came to learn and talk about issues including trade, commerce, tourism and agriculture.

The Democratic congresswoman has co-sponsored a bill that would lift long-standing restrictions on U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba. Earlier this week, U.S. lawmakers introduced identical legislation in the U.S. Senate.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported Saturday that President Barack Obama intends to lift the ban on family travel and remittances to the Communist island nation.
The president has the authority to relax these rules without going through Congress.

The Journal cited Cuba experts who said Obama may act in advance of this month's Summit of the Americas, which takes place April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.

The article said Obama does not plan to call for lifting the decades-long trade embargo against Cuba which would require congressional action.

The U.S. delegation in Cuba has no meeting scheduled with Cuban President Raúl Castro during their five-day visit. The delegates are all Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus — with the exception of Rep. Mike Honda, a California Democrat.


Chávez denigrates capitalism
as he opens Iranian bank


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has denounced capitalism during a visit to Iran and announced the founding of a joint Iranian-Venezuelan bank.

Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opened the Tehran-based commercial bank Friday, aimed at helping trade and industrial projects between the two countries.

The Venezuelan leader has encouraged bilateral ties as part of what he calls a South-South dialogue, or Southern Hemisphere alliance, counterbalancing northern nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

In comments to Venezuelan state television late Thursday, Chávez ridiculed this week's G-20 summit and its attempts to ease the global economic crisis.  He dismissed its pledge of $500 billion to enlarge the International Monetary Fund as "entrusting beef to vultures."



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 6, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 67



Latin American news digest
Scammers in California
used group prayer hook


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A judge sentenced a California man to 20 years in federal prison Friday for his role in a ponzi scheme which involved telephone conference call group prayer and the theme that the investment was divinely inspired.

Sentenced was Henry Jones, 54, a record company executive, formerly of Marina Del Rey. Two other defendants, Arthur Simburg, 64, of Portland, Oregon, formerly of Los Angeles, and Robert Jennings, 59, a pastor from Perris, California, were sentenced in November to 9 and 12 years in federal prison, respectively.

The three men were convicted of defrauding more than 500 investors out of more than $32 million through a bogus investment scheme.  The court described Jones as a financial predator who was a professional confidence artist and ordered him to pay $28 million in restitution.  In addition to taking victims’ money, the court found the defendant had destroyed lives.  The court noted that many victims lost their homes and defendant’s conduct had torn families apart.

Jones and Jennings were found guilty in July following a three week jury trial. Evidence at trial showed that Jones, Simburg, and Jennings solicited investors for a coal mine venture and an alleged international gold transaction that was highly secretive and allegedly involved the sale of 20,000 tons of gold between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.  The solicitation of investments was accomplished largely through nightly call-in telephone conference calls in which investors were promised huge rates of return on the investments, as much as 200 to 300 percent within 60 days.  Many of the conference calls also included group prayer, and investors were told that the gold transaction was “divinely inspired” and that it was God’s will for it to come to fruition.

Despite their promises of profitable investments, Jones spent over $21 million of the victim-investors’ money on his own extravagant personal expenses and to fund his Marina Del Rey-based music business.  In addition to his music business, which featured his wife and several other women as purported R & B artists, Jones used the victim-investors’ money to purchase a house in Marina Del Rey, a condominium in Culver City, and Ferrari Spider and Porsche Cayenne automobiles. 


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