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(506) 2223-1327       Published Wednesday, April 8, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 69     E-mail us
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Fire engulfs boats tied up at coast guard dock
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire tore through at least eight boats docked at the Costa Rican Guardacostas station in Puntarenas Tuesday and sent columns of black smoke some into the air and into the surrounding neighborhood.

At least four of the boats were of the open style that had been confiscated from drug smugglers.

Other boats appeared to be small coast guard patrol vessels. None of the craft involved were the larger cutters operated by the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas.

Some flaming boats were towed away from shore and allowed to burn to the waterline.
There was no indication of how the afternoon blaze started except that the origin appeared to be in one of the captured vessels.

There were no direct injuries due to flames, but ambulances carried away persons affected by the black smoke. The fire was fed by the gasoline and petroleum-based fuels used by the boats. There were some explosions.

Firemen from Puntarenas and adjacent communities worked all afternoon to control the fire. However, there seemed to be a limited amount of hoses directed at the fires.

The boats that were involved in the blaze had all been docked adjacent to one another.


Cheap and available drugs can be tourist's downfall
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For many tourists, Costa Rica is like an adult Disneyland. Prostitution is legal. A variety of drugs is available for a price. Actions that would get a frown at home are welcomed here.

Whether the location is downtown San José or one of the many beach communities, a visitor continually is offered that which is not easily available at home.

In a beach community like Tamarindo, drug dealers stake out sections of the main street to serve the passing tourists.

In San José, a car guard or cuidecarro in front of the foreign ministry really is a marijuana salesman. Others who purport to sell cigars actually make their living selling something else.

Prostitutes have been known to complain that they are the second place priority for many visiting Americans.

"After we got to the room, it wasn't me he wanted, but he wanted me to go into the street to buy drugs," said one woman echoing a continuing complaint.

That or a similar scenario may have been what happened Tuesday at the Hotel Morazán on Avenida 1 at Calle 7. A North American tourist turned up dead in a room.

The man was informally identified as Michael Silver, 41. An employee discovered his body about 2 p.m. An overdose is suspected, said the Fuerza Pública. 

An autopsy will give the official word.

Silver had been coming to Costa Rica for several years, said some who knew him at the hotel.
official vehicle
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Investigators' vehicle at scene of death

If he was a cocaine user, Silver might be the victim of the changing patterns of drug smuggling. Because of heavy police pressure and new techniques at the Nicaraguan border, moving cocaine north is not as easy as it used to be.

In addition, drug smugglers pay helpers here in cocaine. That is why so many under employed fishermen are anxious to supply fuel, food and water to passing drug boats.

This means more and more cocaine, some of very high purity, is entering the Costa Rican market, In fact, the country is awash in cocaine in spite of dealers efforts to convert much of it to easily marketed crack.

Then, too, there is no consumer protection agency keeping watch on the local cocaine market. Dealers frequently cut cocaine with powders like lidocaine. Since tourists are not likely to be repeat customers, they most often get the adulterated drug.

Too much adulteration, and the tourist never will be a customer again.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 69

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


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Ph/Fax: 2221-9462, 8841-0007
Drug evidence
Miniserio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Cosmetics confiscated by drug police at Juan Santamaría airport.

Cosmetic cases contained
cocaine, airport police said

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug police intercepted a Romanian woman on her way to Europe over the weekend and found that the cosmetics she carried were filled with suspected cocaine, they said. The woman, identified by the last name of Doinitta, is 28 years old.

The Policía de Control de Drogas said that she was carrying 4.3 kilos (about 9.5 pounds) of the substance distributed through three cases of mascara. The woman was headed to Spain via Quito, Ecuador, police said.

Fourth hijacking suspect
captured in Sarchí Sur


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública has detained a fourth suspect in the robbery and kidnapping of a delivery truck driver Monday morning.

The man came into police hands because of a young resident of Rincón de Alpízar in Sarchí Sur. Police say the man is one of four persons who held up the cigarette delivery truck in San Carlos. Three of the four were captured by police about 10:30 a.m. Monday after a chase. The delivery driver was found in the trunk of an accompanying vehicle.

The fourth man, identified by the last names of García Cartín, is 27. Police said he was the leader of the group. The robbers disguised themselves as Fuerza Pública officers in order to set up fake roadblocks where they would commandeer the delivery trucks.

García is believed to have hid in the rural area until nightfall and then decided against crossing the Río Colorado to reach the Autopista Bernardo Soto. Eventually he encountered a local youth there about 8:30 p.m. and said that he was the victim of a robbery and did not know exactly where he was.

The youth said he was going to his home to get help but he called police instead, officers said.

Bicycle murder suspect
turns out to be juvenile


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Juvenile investigators detained a 17-year-old in Hatillo 6 about 9 a.m. Tuesday and linked him with the death of a 24-year-old man on a pedestrian bridge the day before.

Police said at the time that the man, whose last name was Solano, was killed because he declined to surrender his bicycle. Investigators said that they recovered the cycle when they made the arrest. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the youth was turned in by a family member who realized that a crime had been committed.

Security guard dies
with robber in firefight


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A security guard for a Dos Pinos delivery truck engaged two robbers in a firefight Tuesday morning in front of a store at La Verbena in Tejarcillo de Alajuelita. The guard and one of the robbers died, and a third man fled briefly with a bullet in his leg.

The guard, Alvaro Mora Ulloa, 28, lived in Alajuelita. The presumed assailant was identified by the last name of García. The Judicial Investigating Organization said he was 23 years old.

The delivery truck had made a stop to put products into the store when the two men appeared. More and more businesses are providing security guards for their delivery vehicles, particularly if the drivers carry cash.

Wilson Jiménez, chief of the Fuerza Pública de Alajuelita, reported that his men managed to capture the fleeing wounded suspect and turn him over to judicial police. He identified the dead robber as Luis García Barahona, who was known to police in the area.

Jiménez said that Mora worked for the security firm CSE and escorted the delivery truck on a motorcycle.

The police captain also said that friends and associates of the dead robber began throwing rocks at officers, investigators and news media representatives who arrived at the scene. The Unidad de Intervención Policial was called in to quell the disturbance.

Grecia child clings to life
after receiving two bullets


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A year-old child clings to life in the Hospital Nacional de Niños after being struck twice by bullets as he slept in his Grecia home.

The child was identified as Gustavo Araúz. He received a bullet that entered the chin and exited through the top of the skull, said physicians. Another hit him in the stomach.

Someone fired into the home four times at close range in what police consider a revenge act against one or both parents. The Judicial Investigating Organization characterized the child's state as very delicate.

Killers attack bartender
in Guadalupe neighborhood


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Several men in two cars attacked a bar in Calle Blancos in Guadalupe about 11:40 p.m. Monday night. They killed a 32-year-old man with the last name of Lewis, who worked as a bartender. Two other men, Brown, aged 32, and Araya, age 29, suffered bullet wounds.

Agents for the Judicial Investigating Organization are seeking leads, and there is a theory that the shooting is related to similar fatal events at other bars in the last few days.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 69


'Sin Nombre' recounts struggles of two Latin immigrants
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

"Sin Nombre," the film that won the Sundance Festival's awards for best direction and cinematography, has just opened in U.S. theaters and already has received rave reviews.

Sayra, a Honduran migrant, and Casper, a Mexican migrant, struggle to get to the United States.

"A psychic once told me, 'You'll make it to the U.S.A. Not in God's hands, but in the hands of the devil,'" Sayra relates to Casper, a young Mexican she meets during her journey.

The devil in this case is Casper, a member of the notorious gang Mara Salvatrucha. He gets on a train northbound to escape his gang's wrath after he had to kill its leader.

Casper's and Sayra's lives intertwine. She is a teenager escaping an aimless life. He needs to get as far away from his hometown in Chiapas as possible.

Unlike Sayra, his hope of making it out of Mexico into the United States has long faded. He had once crossed the border, but like thousands of others, he was caught and sent back.

American director Cary Fukunaga says the title of his film "Sin Nombre," which means "without a name," represents Sayra and Casper and all the others like them.

"In terms of the gang, these are people who lose their name when entering the gang. And in terms of the immigrants, I think it's sort of a voiceless underrepresented people," says the filmmaker.

man on train
Casper is Edgar M. Flores
actress swimming
Sayra is Paulina Gaytan

To depict Sayra's and Casper's trek, Fukunaga and his crew traveled alongside hundreds of migrants riding on top of northbound freight trains.
 
"A lot of those moments are based on things that I saw personally," he said. "While traveling on the train, down to how food was distributed and how people protect each other from the rain."

Fukunaga filmed real migrants enduring the long and arduous journey through a wild, luscious and sometimes rugged terrain. Although the story is fictional, his documentary-style techniques communicate in a visceral way these people's ordeal.

Fukunaga's portrayal of Mara Salvatrucha gang members is as realistic. He focuses on Salvatrucha cliques and their turf wars in southern Mexico. He says they make money from migrants, who pay to get on the trains to the Mexican border. Fukunaga says Mara Salvatrucha guards its posts on the train yards very jealously and often gets into skirmishes against other gangs.

Fukunaga's cinematography resembles "Slumdog Millionaire," which depicts the slums of Mumbai and uses real locales as backdrops to the fictional melodrama. But Fukunaga says he did not take tips from "Slumdog" filmmaker Danny Boyle.

He says he is thankful that the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" introduced the world of the poor into the western mainstream. But, he continues, poverty and slums are everywhere, and their stories should be told more than once and portrayed as they really are.


ICE has trouble with Acelera Internet DNS servers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad left thousands of Internet customers without service for about eight hours Tuesday in what appeared to be problems with the company's DNS servers.

Affected were users of the Acelera service. The DNS servers provide electronic addresses to the consumer
designation of domain names. The company known as ICE has continual problems with the DNS servers and frequently makes changes without telling customers.

ICE attributed at times the outage to a denial-of-service attack by e-mailers or internal configuration problems. The scenario of e-mail attacks makes little sense because the ICE e-mail servers did not appear to be affected, only servers that connect to the world wide web.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 69


Massive fish kill along Pacific beaches being investigated
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health officials are trying to find out why a massive fish kill has hit the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.

The dead fish began appearing Saturday on Playa Langosto in the Municipalidad de Santa Cruz. Thousands of fish of many different species ended up on the local beaches.
Cleanup crews were at work Tuesday getting rid of the dead fish and eels.
Reports from the Pacific say that the area affected by the fish kills has become larger, putting a damper on Semana Santa vacations in some communities.

Although some residents have suggested that the fish died as a result of a red tide, a proliferation of a certain type of microscopic algae that produces toxicity, there is no evidence of that yet.

The last major red tide hit the central Pacific coast in 2002.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 69



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.



Visiting Black Caucus trio
have chat with Fidel Castro


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
   
Cuba has granted three members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus the first known meeting between former President Fidel Castro and U.S. officials since he became ill in July 2006.

The head of the caucus, Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat, was one of the three visiting legislators who held talks with the former Cuban leader Tuesday at the end of a five-day trip to Cuba.  They were part of a larger delegation that traveled to the Communist-led island late last week.

Later in Washington, Ms. Lee told reporters the long-standing U.S. embargo against Cuba has not worked, and that it is time to look at a new direction in U.S. policy toward the island.  Other members of the caucus echoed those sentiments in remarks to reporters. 

Ms. Lee has co-sponsored a bill that would lift long-standing restrictions on U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba.  Identical legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

Separately, White House officials say President Barack Obama soon will move to ease some travel and financial restrictions against Cuba, perhaps before next week's Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Chávez likes Obama idea
of nuclear-free world


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez has welcomed U.S. President Barack Obama's call for a world free of nuclear weapons. President Chávez told reporters in Tokyo Tuesday that Obama's message was very encouraging. He was en route to China.

But he said the U.S. should also apologize to Japan for dropping atomic weapons on the country at the end of World War II.

Chávez said Venezuela is observing and evaluating the new Obama administration, and that in the framework of respect, dialogue is possible. The comments signaled a softened stance toward the new U.S. leader, who Chávez previously called ignorant for accusing Venezuela of exporting terrorism.

Chávez traveled to Japan to discuss energy cooperation. He said the countries signed an agreement for Japan to invest $33.5 billion in oil and gas projects in Venezuela.

Chávez travels next to China, where he is hoping to secure more oil contracts to reduce Venezuela's dependency on the United States. The U.S. is currently Venezuela's top oil customer, despite the political tensions.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 8, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 69


Latin American news digest
Fujimori gets 25 years
for rights violations, killings

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A court in Perú has convicted former president Alberto Fujimori for rights violations committed by his government's security forces in the 1990s.

He was sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges of murder and kidnapping.

The guilty verdict follows a 15-month trial against Fujimori, whose government fought a brutal war with Maoist rebels.

The three-judge panel ruled that the 70-year-old was responsible for the deaths of 25 people killed by military forces near the start of his term in office.

Prosecutors said the alleged military death squad mistakenly killed 15 civilians during a botched raid at a neighborhood barbecue in Lima. They also accuse the group of seizing nine students and a professor who were later found shot.

The university attack was seen as retaliation against Shining Path rebels for a series of bomb attacks.

A court official read from a 700-page verdict that described how Fujimori made the anti-terrorist battle a central focus of his government and how he reformed the armed forces to battle Shining Path insurgents.

Riot police deployed outside the courtroom to prevent clashes between relatives of the victims and Fujimori supporters. Many Peruvians continue to back the former president for his efforts to crush the rebels and reverse an economic crisis.

In closing statements last week, Fujimori rejected the charges against him and said the trial was motivated by politics.

He said he made difficult decisions to help the country, while other politicians would have handed off the problems to future administrations.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch praised the trial as a major advance for accountability and respect for human rights around the world. It said the trial was crucial for the region because it marked the first time a former elected president was tried for human rights violations.


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