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President searches for options after tax plan setback
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla met privately with financial experts Thursday night in an effort to map out a strategy because a proposed tax plan has been derailed.

Casa Presidencial said that the president was meeting with economists, but most were politicians and former ministers who may have economics degrees.

There was no announcement of what happened, although any presidential actions probably will take place next week after Ms. Chinchilla returns from the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

Casa Presidencial has said all along that there is no Plan B if the president's tax plan were not passed. Now the administration needs a Plan B.

The Sala IV constitutional court said in a decision announced Tuesday that the process by which lawmakers passed the $500 million tax plan in the first of two required votes was not constitutional. Consequently the measure is headed back to committee.

Casa Presidencial said that another vote might be delayed for several months or might not take place at all. That last comment suggests that legislative support for the measure is fading in light of massive opposition by the public.

Court action notwithstanding, the tax plan suffered a serious blow in the court of public opinion when the newspaper La Nación made repeated disclosures of tax debts owed by members of the president's cabinet. The finance minster and the nation's chief tax collector resigned over their separate tax problems.
In another development Thursday, the Contraloría de la República, the budgetary watchdog, said investigators visited the offices of Refinadora
Costarricense de Petróleo S.A. Tuesday to look at the paperwork associated with a direct contract for public relations work given to the Procesos firm. This is the company operated by Florisabel Rodríguez Céspedes, the wife of former finance minister, Fernando Herrero. Until both resigned this week, she was a special assistant to the president.

Procesos easily won the $37,000 contract because it was the only firm that did that type of work that was invited to bid. Refinadora said that due to an input error three firms that supply building materials also were invited to apply, but they did not, as reported by La Nación.

Prosecutors said earlier this week that they, too, were opening an investigation into the contract.

Ms. Chinchilla has complained about lack of prosecution for tax crimes, and she proposes a change in the law that would prevent conciliation.

Perhaps by coincidence, the Tribunal Penal de Goicoechea sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday a businesswoman who was convicted of fraud in faking expenses and not paying sufficient taxes. She was identified as Mayra Zamora Alvarado.

She operated a firm named Estrella Brillante S.A., said the Poder Judicial.

In addition to the jail term, she was ordered to pay the state 180 million colons, about $360,000.

The Poder Judicial said she faked facturas or invoices and understated sales in her tax reporting.


Miss Costa Rica finalists
MissCostaRica.Com photo used with permission
The Miss Costa Rica finalists are shown in the order described in the news story.
10 beauties to compete tonight to be Miss Costa Rica
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There are 10 finalists ready to compete for the title of Miss Costa Rica, tonight at 8 o'clock inside the Canal 7 Marco Picado studio in La Sabana.

The live television show on Channel 7 will pick the winner who will continue on to represent the country in the Miss Universe pageant.

Last year's winner, Johanna Solano, will be there to present her successor with the crown.

The women come from all over the country and range in ages from 19 to 25. What started as a nationwide search has come to an end with the top 10 finalists. Only one will be chosen as Miss Costa Rica.

The finalists and personal information provided by the pageant are:

Adriana Herrera Jiménez, 21. She is from San Carlos and is an architecture major. Her objective in life is to improve herself everyday.

Clara Leonor Bravo Angulo, 23. The Alajuela resident has a degree in architecture. She wants to help marginalized communities and conserve natural resources.

Estefanía Salazar Picado, 19. This blue-eyed participant is from Cartago. She studies business administration with an emphasis in marketing. She is interested in participating in campaigns against child abuse.
Ivonne Cerdas Cascante, 19. She is a software engineer, and she would like to work to help people with cancer and terminal diseases.

Katherine Rojas Ravine, 23. She was born in one of the poorest areas of the country, La Uruca, in the Central Valley. She would like to combine her studies of international relations to help humanitarian causes that deal with children. She has worked with Asociación Obras del Espiritu Santo.

María Cristina Lizano Rodríguez, 24. Born in Liberia, the pageant participant hopes to combine her studies in law and administration to support animal protection laws and to help the elderly.

María Guadalupe Arias Madrigal, 23. The redhead was born in San José, and she is part of the Cruz Roja in Alajuela. She hopes to continue her work with the organization and to also do social work with kids.

María Nazareth Cascante Madrigal, 21. The native of Alajuela has a degree in pharmaceutics, and she's interested in working with children who have genetic diseases. She also wants to help provide them with moral support to deal with their disease.

Maricarmen Zúñiga Brenes, 21. She is from Calle Blancos and considers herself a Saprisista. She's interested in studying design for advertisement. And she would like to work with children with terminal disease.

Rebeca Vargas Barrantes, 24. She is from Alajuela and has a degree in pharmacy. She has a love for animals that began as a child. 

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 13, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 74
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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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Our reader's opinion
Despite possible more taxes,
government cannot collect

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
The president thinks that by piling on more taxes the taxpayers who do pay will help bring the magic number of $500,000,000 into the treasury.  Problem is there still is no avenue of collection.  If there were, then the $500,000,000 would be there right now for her and her coworkers to abuse as usual. 

I have recently abandoned several of my corporations and have instructed my attorney not to renew my residency.  There is no upside to being a party to the abuse.  I guess I need to start hiding instead of being transparent considering this is what the majority of the people in Costa Rica do.  There are other options in this world.  My son is in Ecuador and renting an air conditioned cabina on the beach for $3 a day with some of the best waves in the world just outside his door. 

I'm cashing out, but unfortunately it will be a real struggle, thanks to the government turning the tide on the advantages of living in Costa Rica.
Bruce Simpson
Hone Creek

National insurance company
has one speed: Very slow


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

How incompetent are these people. And I mean INS [The Instituto Nacional de Seguros], not just one person.

Since the Feb. 13 earthquake, our water tank for my house water, was damage.  I made a claim for repairs and to this date, nearly two months later, we have not been reimbursed for the damage even though it is an approved claim! I have been given every excuse for delays that would fill a small paperback book!

I had to route our water into reserve tanks just to have water for our house. At my expense! I requested a tanker truck bring us potable water! That never happened!

I even talked to an attorney about this and her suggestion was to pay for it myself and then pursue INS for reimbursement! I can just imagine the time and expense this would cost me.

I wouldn’t recommend INS as a competent business. All I’ve seen while in their main office is hundreds of people waiting for answers just like me!
Ray Helgath
Santa Barbara de Heredia


 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 13, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 74
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Payments for conserving trees to be pushed at Rio conference
By Han Cheung
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been successful in curbing rainforest destruction with its pago de servicios ambientales program, and it wants to urge other countries to do the same.

According to a press release from the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, Costa Rica plans to propose at the upcoming U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development that other tropical countries also implement the model to protect their rain forests.

The conference, more commonly known as Rio+20, will be held in Rio de Janeiro from June 20 to 22.

The national program, set up in 1997, gives direct payments to farmers who choose to conserve forests on their land instead of clearing them for raising livestock.

While it appears to be a general consensus that rain forest protection is vital in reducing greenhouses gases in the atmosphere, the exact workings behind it are not often explained. According to Florencia Motangnini, professor in the practice of tropical forestry at Yale University, forests “account for about 80 percent of carbon exchange between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere” and can absorb up to 3 billion tons of carbon per year.

However, one may still wonder why an acre of grass or shrubs does not capture as much carbon dioxide as an acre of trees.

“It’s a size issue,” said Larry Godsey, an associate researcher and economist at the Agroforestry Center at the University of Missouri. “Trees take in and sequester more carbon simply because of its larger volume. The trunk, limbs, root, they’re all carbon.”

Steve Siebert, professor of tropical forest conversation and management at the University of Montana says that tropical forests are particularly important because the amount of carbon sequestered is related to the rate which the trees grow. “Growth rates in the humid tropics are high because growth is not limited by temperature or precipitation, in contrast to higher elevations or altitudes,” Siebert explained.

This is also evidence in the payment system of the Chicago Climate Exchange, which rewards landowners for planting vegetation according to the amount of carbon dioxide that can be sequestered. The amount credited to tree planters per acre can be up to seven times of that credited to grass planters.

“Sure, grass does the same thing, but the process for trees is just so much larger,” Godsey said.

While trees store carbon dioxide when they are alive, they also emit it back into the atmosphere when they die naturally. Godsey said that these two processes don’t exactly offset each other. “When a tree decays and falls to the ground, a lot of the carbon actually goes into the soil,” he says. “It’s no longer in the tree, but not in the atmosphere either.”

Sarah Doty, a conservation biologist who works for the non-profit CarbonTree Conservation Fund, said that while sequestering and decaying are part of the natural carbon cycle, the problem is human activity. “Dead trees don’t decay right away. It happens slowly, and there are enough other trees around to suck up the carbon emitted,” she says. “What throws that balance off is when humans step in and increase the release rate by either burning or cutting or clearing.”

According to Montagnini, up to a quarter of all carbon emissions from human activities has arisen from deforestation. Ms. Doty points out that a 100-year-old tree has 100 years worth of carbon stored inside it. When it is set on fire, which is a common method to clear tropical forests, emissions from all 100 years are released in one day.

However, the story doesn’t end there, Ms. Doty said. She explained the negative feedback loop that occurs when a forest is cleared. The cleared land is often used to raise cattle, which produce methane that contributes to climate change even more than carbon dioxide, she said.

According to an article by the late New York Times science desk editor Bayard Webster, “the release of water from the trees and other plants accounts for half, or even more of all moisture returned to air.” Ms. Doty said that this often leads to a decrease of rain in the cleared area, which leads to drought that affects the remaining surrounding forests, causing more trees to die and more carbon dioxide emitted.

However, not all governments in tropical areas can afford to implement an internal system like pago de servicios ambientales, which gives rise to the the notion that richer countries with high greenhouse gas emissions should be the ones paying poorer tropical countries for maintaining their rain forests.
tropical trees
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Tropical forests like this are at the heart of the discussion.

This international payment model has been funded and promoted through Conservation International’s REDD+ initiative. According to its Web site, “currently, most forest carbon investment takes place through the voluntary market, in which corporations, other institutions, or individuals pay to ‘offset’ all or part of their greenhouse gas emissions to meet some voluntary goal for reducing their carbon footprint.”

The Web site also states, “a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions anywhere in the world is equally valuable no matter where it is produced,” as incentive for countries with high emission rates to participate.

This model has been implemented in several areas of the world, with Norway being the biggest funder, according to Mongabay, an environmental news Web site. In 2009, the Scandinavian country, which, according to the article has one of the highest carbon emissions per capita in Europe, announced that it would pay a result-based US$250 million to Guyana and also announced in 2010 that it would pay Indonesia US$1 billion.

Ms. Doty thinks that the payment model is a good idea. “We are the ones creating the demand that depletes natural resources in those countries, and it is our responsibility to look at helping to solve that problem and giving financial incentives.”

Siebert doesn’t agree. “It detracts attention from the primary CO2 emission problem, which is reducing fossil fuel emissions,” he said. He also doesn’t think that the money would trickle down to the poor households or communities in the countries.

Moreover, results from REDD+ have yet to be seen. In late 2011, reports surfaced that Guyana had made little progress, due to lack of experience and transparency, bureaucracy, enforcement problems and other issues. It has been even worse in Indonesia, where, according to environmental Web site redd-monitor.org, a court case is currently ongoing where the government has been giving concessions of protected areas under the deal to a private company, which has resulted in rampant burning of forest areas.

Other critics of the model also state that it is an easy way for developed countries to avoid making any changes back home. “The dream could turn into a nightmare, in which western polluters use their carbon credits to evade cutting emissions at home, while the promised benefit to the atmosphere is lost in a mire of conflict and corruption,” writes Fred Pearce, environmental consultant for New Scientist magazine. 

For example, a 2007 report by Rainforest Foundation Norway and Friends of the Earth found that despite the money Norway has pledged to conservation, it has $13.7 billion invested in industry sectors in 73 companies that operate “in precisely the industry sectors that constitute the greatest threats to the same forests.”

Another problem with the model is that it only rewards offending countries.  “Nothing for Costa Rica, the only country in the tropics to have curbed rampant deforestation and increased its forest cover,” writes Pearce.

It is a much tougher task to implement the Costa Rican system on an international scale, where the two parties are not in direct contact. Nevertheless, the REDD+ model is still relatively new, and more time will be needed to determine its efficiency.


A glance back at the apartment from Hell and deliverance
I have been trying to put my guest bedroom/office in order because my dear friend, Nina, from Norway, is stopping to see me on her way to the other San Jose.  Nina was my resident adviser and later my assistant at the International House in that California city, and from the day I met her, my friend.  So the least I can do is straighten up my office.  However, if I don´t succeed, she will understand because once a week she and Leann, my other assistant, would come into my office, banish me and make order of the chaos on my desk.

Good intentions said, old letters and loose journal entries strewn about beg to be read.  I came across a letter dated August 25, 1992, and thought about how things have changed.

I wrote, I have been in Costa Rica only a couple of weeks, attending a language school in San Pedro and living with a host family, an elderly couple, I rarely see. Doña Leona is very religious and a very bad cook. She puts my inedible dinner on the dining room table and she and Claudio eat in the kitchen.

My room is a tiny musty inside room with a window, looking down into the living room which was once the garage.  I manage to cope with everything but the black flies in the bathroom and cockroaches everywhere, including the fridge and my bedroom.  These are putting me in the basket case category.  The director of the school offered to move me to another family but, thinking all home stays would be the same, I decided to look for an apartment.

Thus begins Hell week.  After class I rush to various barrios of San José, through rain, and heat, on buses, foot, and occasionally taxis.  Anything under $300 is tiny, dark and utterly basic.  Everything else has been taken immediately.

Meanwhile I am in Spanish class four hours a day, doing my homework and chatting in bilingual groups. Enter a possible hero in the person of Bill, a tall, thin fellow with round glasses who monopolizes the conversation in class beginning his monologues with en realidad before he enlightens Marta, the teacher, and me on the way things really were.

However, I don’t want to alienate him because he has an apartment in a complex in Sabanilla.  Furnished, airy, and near a bus stop.  “Please ask her if she has any free ones,” I nearly beg him.  She does. One on Sept. 2 and the other the 16th.  I want to talk to her, but Bill says, “Why don’t you look at mine first.”  Two days later I am looking at the perfect apartment for me.  “I love it,” I say.  Can I go talk to her now?” Bill says no, it is better if I call her later that evening after we have dinner.  Dinner is painfully slow as I listen to how things are en realidad.
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart


I rush home and find Claudio on the phone and a long line waiting at the public phone nearby. I begin to hyperventilate.  Finally Claudio is off the phone, I call but the line is busy for the next 45 minutes.  I am in a sweat so I take a shower and give it a rest.  I try again.   It rings and rings, I am sure the landlady has gone out to celebrate renting her two apartments.  I am too upset to sleep.

A baby roach is making its long trek up the chenille bedspread towards me.  Just a baby.  How many babies are there in a litter?  And WHERE IS THE MOTHER?  I search the room knowing I am a little crazy when I begin to fantasize: I am calling the next morning and am told the apartments were rented at 5:30 yesterday. 

My fantasy elevates: I am screaming at Bill, he smirks, I grab him around his skinny neck, throw him down and pelt him to death with roaches.  In reality I kill the baby roach and try to sleep.

The next morning I tell Bill I couldn’t reach his landlady.  He shrugs, probably too early to call at 8 a.m.  I should wait until 10.  He has no clue as to how desperate I am, how many hours I have walked and buses I have taken to look at dark inhospitable apartments.

Marta walks in and asks ¿Como Estan? I say, “I am tired of sleeping with roaches.”  And burst into tears, copious, awful, embarrassing tears, but it feels so good I put my head down on the table and cry my frustrations away.  That is when I have an epiphany, which I can blubber in perfect Spanish. Hombres luchan, mujeres lloran.  "Men fight, women cry."

Then everything changed. The director found me another homestay with a room OVER the garage, with a large window, private bath and a host family with two chatty teenagers and a mother who is a gourmet cook.  I managed to put a deposit on the apartment available on the 16th.

Meanwhile, nothing has changed in my guest room.  Maybe Nina will put things in order when she gets here.

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renes law firm
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 13, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 74
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U.S. adjusts rates of visa for foreigners to enter country
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The cost of visas for non-immigrants to the United States has
gone up, starting today.

The U.S. Embassy has made two announcements that affect the visa application procedure. One is the price, and the the other is the process for application. Tourist visas went up $20 worldwide. They used to cost $140 and now cost $160. But a spokesperson for the embassy said the new fee will cut costs. In order to apply for a visa there was a fee for the application, another fee for the appointment, and another fee for the documentation sent through the DHL courier service. Now, there is no additional fee for an appointment and for DHL.

This is where the application process change comes into place. The visa application form can be done online, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, starting
Embassy photo
Joe De María explains the rates and procedure.
April 20. And the fee can be paid online as well. It's all very convenient said Joe De María, a consul at the embassy.

“This is a more convenient process. It can be done with a cup of coffee at your house in your pajamas,” said De María in Spanish.
The new process will consist of doing everything electronically. Online the visa (DS-160) form is filled out, then the payment is made. After 24 hours, a date for the appointment can be made also online.

The final step is to indicate which post office in Costa Rica is best to pick up the passport, thus eliminating the DHL fees.

Those who prefer to make the appointment by phone can call 4000-1976, for which the embassy will not charge.

The State Department did an analysis of cost where staffers figured the new price would be fair since the fee for the appointment and the fee for a messenger were eliminated, said the embassy here.

Last year alone there were 53,000 visa applicants in Costa Rica and about 85 percent of those qualify for a visa, said De María. He said the reasons the other 15 percent do not get approved are because they lack social and familial ties to return to Costa Rica or the applicant doesn't show an economic stability in Costa Rica to ensure they will want to leave the United States. Also, the price of U.S. work visas have gone up by $40. The prior price was $150 and and is now $190.

There are also decreases in price for certain visas. The fiancé visa decreased by $110. It used to cost $350 and now is $240. And all visas for inmigrants, such as a green card, have also gone down in price. Family visas went from costing $330 to now $230. A green card solicitation used to cost $720, and will now cost $405. That is a $315 decrease.

Those who want further instructions or more information can visit the U.S. embassy Web site.


Caja investing $20 million to improve San Juan de Dios
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Nation's health agency is spending about $20 million to improve Hospital San Juan de Dios, one of the three San José public hospitals.

In all there are 46 projects, and these include remodeling 15 operating rooms. Other projects involve neurosurgery, urology, hemodialysis and the chemotherapy pharmacy, said the Caja Costarricese de Seguro Social. Several projects are finished and the majority are underway, said the Caja. Some jobs involve adding air conditioning to sections that do not now have it.
The hospital is well known for its trauma expertise.

More expats are becoming familiar with the Caja hospitals now that they are required to affiliate with the national health system as a condition of residency.

Some of the projects are not obvious to a visitor in that they involve the sanitary systems or the boilers for the laundry services. The total in colons is 10 billion.

Some operating rooms at the hospital had been closed by health officials because of their condition.

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Space Shuttle
NASA Photo
The space shuttle Discovery on the ground in Florida.

Space shuttle Discovery faces
one last flight into history

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The space shuttle Discovery has traveled more than 238 million kilometers (148 million miles) in space, and the now retired orbiter has roughly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) more to go before its final stop.  It will leave the Kennedy Space Center on April 17, bound for a museum. 

It was a little more than a year ago that the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on its final mission. 

The 28-year-old orbiter will take off from the southern state of Florida one last time.  But for this voyage, it will not be blasted off a launch pad.  Instead, it will hitch a ride on the back of one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's specially outfitted Boeing 747 jumbo jets.

Valerie Neal is a space history curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.  Her dangling earrings in the shape of space shuttles are only one indication of her excitement about Discovery's final flight.

"We're very excited about that because Discovery will be flown on top of a 747 carrier aircraft, and it will do a flyaround here in the metropolitan area so that people around Washington will be able to see this very unusual sight," Ms. Neal said. "It will land, and then it will go off to a private part of the airport to be offloaded from the carrier aircraft."

April 19, Discovery will be unveiled as part of the collection at the museum's Udvar-Hazy center, just outside the capital.  Some of Discovery's famous former passengers will be in attendance, including astronaut John Glenn, who in 1962 was the first American to orbit the Earth.  He returned to space on Discovery in 1998.   

The Air and Space Museum is one of the most visited museums in the world, with its main location in downtown Washington, near the city's grand monuments and attractions.  The museum's Udvar-Hazy annex alone attracts more than a million visitors each year.

But as the museum gains one famous piece, it will lose another.  The world's first space shuttle, Enterprise, has been part of the Smithsonian's collection since 1985.  Discovery will replace Enterprise, and that shuttle will catch a piggyback ride on the 747 to New York City, where it will go on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

Ms. Neal explained that Enterprise is a test vehicle that never flew in space, so it does not have the same rich history as orbiters such as Discovery.   

"It will look just like Enterprise does, except instead of being white and black and looking brand new, it's more beige and gray," say Neal.  "It looks like it's been to space and back 39 times, and that's how we want it to look."

Rounding out the retired shuttle fleet are Endeavour and Atlantis, which will go to California and Florida.  Two other shuttles, Challenger and Columbia, were destroyed in flight, killing all astronauts on board.

The U.S. space agency retired the shuttle fleet last year to focus on developing the next generation of spacecraft that will travel beyond low earth orbit.


U.N. seeks to curb fluctuations
in the price of commodities


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday underscored the need to curb the volatility of global food prices through the strengthening of oversight and analysis of international commodities futures markets to discourage the speculation that leads to price fluctuations.

“Food and nutritional security are the foundations of a decent life. Action to curb food price volatility is essential,” said Ban, in his message to the General Assembly’s session on price and commodities. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, assistant secretary general for economic development, delivered the message.

Opening the session, the president of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, said that the discussion reflected a deep concern among member states about the impact of excessive commodity price volatility on food security and sustainable development in developing countries.

The focus, he said, was “on the potential adverse impact on the most vulnerable populations, the vast majority of whom live in nations that are dependent on food imports to meet basic needs.”

The assembly president noted that there was broad agreement that addressing the causes and consequences of food price volatility and food insecurity requires a comprehensive approach that must include new efforts to strengthen investment in agricultural production in developing countries.

“Where we have had robust debate, and where we clearly need to do much more work, is in developing our understanding of the role that financial markets have played in increasing food price volatility, raising uncertainty, and preventing effective action,” he said in his remarks at the close of the meeting.

On his part, Ban said the priority for agriculture should be to produce nutritious food that people need and ensure that it is accessible to them at all times. He added that the rise in prices had caused the number of hungry people worldwide to swell to over one billion, and it helped push millions of households below the poverty line.

“Consumers are increasingly at risk of sudden drops in purchasing power, leading almost immediately to damaging reductions in the consumption of nutritious foods, especially by women and girls,” the U.N. chief said.

The U.N. system, he noted, is working to address the structural challenges in world food systems. Since 2008, the secretary general’s High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis has worked to promote a twin-track approach that includes increasing production and ensuring access to social protection and safety nets.


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Latin America news
Bags full of iguanas
quickly attract police


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers encountered a man in downtown San José Thursday, and the man was carrying three sacks filled with iguanas.

It appears that the man just arrived by bus from Pérez Zeledón. The sacks attracted the attention of officers. One of the 10 iguanas was dead, they said.

Police did not give the motive the man had for bringing the animals into the city. Many country residents eat iguana, mainly the tail. They also can be sold as pets.

The man was identified by the last names of Elizondo Vega. Police said he was 41.

Police detained the man for violation of the country's environmental laws that forbid trafficking in wild animals and plants. The live iguana were turned over to the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal, said the Fuerza Pública.

Elizondo was remanded to the court in the Primer Circuito Judicial de San José.


Closing Alajuela free zone
puts 2,500 out of work


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As expected, the health ministry closed the Zona Franca BES in El Coyol de Alajuela. There are some 40 firms and 2,500 workers in the location. The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo reported two weeks ago that the nearby Río Siquiares was being polluted.

The problem is foam that is visible in the river.

The firm Productos de Espuma Prodex S. A. quickly came out with a press release noting that it manufactures polyethylene foam products but that the foam in the water was from soap.

The  Ministerio de Salud probably will make another inspection today. The zonas francas or “free zones” are areas that receive special tax treatment and generally make items for export.


President's husband hurt
in minor traffic accident


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

José María Rico, the husband of President Laura Chinchilla, suffered an injured left arm about 10 a.m. Thursday when he was involved in a minor accident in Pozos de Santa Ana.

The 77-year-old Rico lives in the vicinity. Casa Presidencial issued a release on the accident and said that Rico had been taken to Hospital CIMA for treatment. Later in the day, Casa Presidencial said he had been released from the hospital and was resting at home.

The Spanish press made much of the accident. La Nación provided readers with a graphic that showed the accident happened at an intersection. News media also reported that traffic police said Rico was driving with an expired license.

Having an expired license results in a fine of more than 100,000 colons, about $200.







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