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These stories were published Tuesday, April 19, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 76
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U.S. citizen's body was dumped
Guards heard dispute and then a shot at quinta
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A loud argument about 10 p.m. Thursday was cut short by a gunshot, and investigators think that is when Benjamin Daniel Wood, a 33-year-old U.S. citizen died.

The scene was at the quinta of the two people now being held in the death, according to investigators. The argument and the shot were heard by guards outside.

The full extent of the crime did not become apparent until about 9 a.m. Friday when passers-by discovered the body of a man near a lookout point in the community of San Miguel de Turrúcares.

At first the dumped body was unidentified, but a spokesperson for the Judicial Investigating Organization said that the major break in the case came when the victim’s Costa Rican girlfriend identified him.

When they knew the dead man was Wood, agents easily tied the death to the man for whom the victim worked. He is yet another U.S. citizen, Dennis William Emmett, 67, said investigators.

Emmett owns a quinta, La Piña Dorada, a country home, in Turrúcares as well as a nearby commercial center, Centro la Garita. Wood worked as a maintenance man, the spokesperson said.

Also being held is Emmett’s companion, 24-year-old Sandra Corrales Chaverra, a Colombian.

 Agents interrogated the two suspects Sunday and detained them Monday afternoon. A  judge ordered six months preventative detention while the crime is being investigated.

Private guards told investigators that they saw Wood enter the Emmett home and heard a loud discussion between Wood and the Corrales woman, agents said.

Wood died from a gunshot wound to the right eye, agents said.

After the two suspects were detained, agents executed a search of the quinta and reported that they found traces of blood and a sheet with a design that was similar to that found on the victim’s body.

The blood was found in a Range Rover automobile at the Emmett home, agents said. The spokesperson later confirmed that the blood was human and that investigators are awaiting a DNA comparison with Wood’s blood.

Four pistols also were located in the home. Two were 9-mm. weapons, one was a .32-caliber handgun and one was a .22-caliber carbine.

Agents were expected to sweep the quinta at night with Luminol, a chemical that glows blue-green in the presence of blood.

Both men are believed to have lived in Costa Rica for some time. Agents said that Wood had lived here for at least 10 years.

Turrúcares is in the west end of the Central Valley near Atenas.


 
Flooding hits Alta Talamanca and Sixaola again
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Alta Talamanca and Sixaola are getting pounded again by heavy rains and floods.

Emergency officials have issued an alert for the area in southeastern Costa Rica, including the Valle de la Estrella. A similar alert has been issued for Matina, which is near the city of Limón further up the Caribbean coast.

A preventative warning has been issued for the rest of the Caribbean slope and the Sarapiquí area. 

These are the same areas that were devastated by January floods. The town of Sixaola was under water from flooding by the nearby river of the same name.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias issued the alerts based on reports of rain and river flooding from local emergency commissions.

The commission said that the rivers Coen, Telire and Dent were out of their banks in the Alta Talamanca. In the community of Sepecue some persons were being evacuated because the Río Coen has flooded about three kilometers of the main road.

The Talamanca and the Valle de la Estrella are populated by Bri-Bri Indians, and many live far from telephones and other services.

The one bright spot is that the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional has predicted a lessening of the rains overnight and into Tuesday morning, said the emergency commission.

Nevertheless, the commission warned those in flood-prone areas to be on the alert for possible dangers.

Rains fell much of the weekend on the Caribbean coast and northern zone of the country.

 
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Tax plan returned
for three-day fix

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The massive tax plan is going back to a committee for three days to give lawmakers time to fix some of the constitutional and procedural problems.

Lawmakers on the committee also will try to eliminate any aspects that might require a two-thirds majority vote in the Asamblea Legislative. Those promoting the plan want the measure to pass with a simple majority vote.

While the plan is in committee, legislators will have a chance to offer amendments and corrections.

The document involved is in excess of 400 pages, and three days does not seem sufficient time for the corrective surgery, which is why some lawmakers who oppose the measure think that the revisions will take more time.

When the measure comes out of committee it will be put in first position for discussion in the full legislature.

The tax plan will create a value-added tax and levy taxes for the first time on money residents earn outside the country. The new taxes are supposed to bring in $500 million more a year to the government.

In addition, the measure beefs up the enforcement in tax collections.

The Sala IV constitutional court has reviewed the measure and pointed out some problems and inconsistencies. These will be items for the committee review.

Boruca textiles center
of Indígena Day events

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today will be the Día del Indígena or Day of the Indian downtown.

The Museos del Banco Central plan exhibitions and demonstrations stressing the weaving tradition of the Boruca Indians.

Boruca weavers from the Asociación La Flor will be in the vestibule of the museums under Plaza de la Cultura from 9:30 to 2 p.m. demonstrating their techniques.

At 10 a.m. a conference will be held on the natural dyes used by the native peoples. An exhibit will be maintained by the Museo Regional de Boruca.

The Boruca, who live in southwestern Costa Rica are better known for their devil masks because these are hot tourist items. But the culture is far deeper than the tourist trade.

Admission is free for Costa Ricans and residents.

Intellectual property rights
seen as development tool

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Saying it has made "a major shift in priorities and direction" since its last meeting two years ago, a committee on development in the United Nations agency on intellectual property rights says developing countries must devise policies and strategies that turn their traditional knowledge, healing arts and culture into national assets.

The World Intellectual Property Organization says it is holding meetings this month and next to respond to a decision by its General Assembly last October that the body incorporate the development dimension in various activities.

A review prepared for a two-day meeting of the organization’s Permanent Committee on Cooperation for Development Related to Intellectual Property says the panel's aim is to help developing countries reach their goal of building a knowledge-based economy.

"Intellectual property becomes a tool for economic development when it is used in the context of well-articulated national, regional or enterprise-based strategies, to encourage and support innovation and creativity," it says, adding, "A policy to support intellectual property that does not support funding for science is not likely to be successful in terms of economic gains."

The Permanent Committee also now helps developing countries find ways to support cultural, educational and research institutions in the public and private sectors.

From our readers

Crime in perspective

 Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

 I am writing to tell you that I appreciate your news so 
 very much. I have been coming to Costa Rica for three 
 years now, and, later this year I will be arriving for a 
 one-year sabbatical from the U.S.! 

Of course, like other readers, hearing that there is crime in beloved Costa Rica is disquieting. However, it all falls 
into perspective by just reading the newspaper, listening 
to the radio news, or watching TV here in the U.S. — we 
are simply LITTERED with crime and murders of all 
levels. 

It appears to me that because there is so little crime, the 
few instances that do occur in Costa Rica are relatively 
shocking that they become a big focus. I hope that your 
readers and reporters continue to alert people to new 
problems, but, also, keep us informed of the WONDERFUL experiences that the majority of travelers and expats experience. Keep up the great work!

 Carol Cannon 
 Dunedin, Fla.
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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Alvaro Solano of Jacó in action during a heat at the seventh meeting of the Circuito Nacional de Surf in Playa Hermosa Sunday.
Photo by Shifi via Bevy Media

 
Jacó surfer Solano continues to lead in open competition
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Alvaro Solano of Jacó captured a win Sunday for the open category in the seventh and next to the last date of the 2004-05 Circuito Nacional de Surf in Playa Hermosa. 

Lisbeth Vindas took the Women’s category with first place and Isac Vega of Tamarindo won for Juniors.

Solano, along with more than 125 other determined surfers from all over Costa Rica, now head into the Grand Final Tournament to be in Playa Hermosa May 27 and 28. The final will complete the seven-tournament, 8-month national surf circuit for the season. 

Each surfer will bring to the Grand Finals their individually earned Circuito Nacional points to date where the best five out of seven tournament scores will be tallied together in order to determine the national rankings for Costa Rica’s top surfers.

Coming into the weekend, Solano held first place in the national rankings with 6,440 points in the Open category with Luis Hernandez trailing in second place with 4,200 and 14-year-old Jairo Pérez right behind with 3,670 points. Solano’s first place will add another 1,500 points to his total earnings leaving him in a secure place to again be the Circuito Nacional champion for his second year in a row. 

The Women’s race for the 2004-05 national champion also proves to be interesting between Jaco’s reigning 2003-04 champion Lisbeth Vindas and Laura Pecoraro from Pavones. Ms. Percoraro held first place in the rankings for this year coming into the weekend with 5,775 points compared to Lisbeth Vindas’s 5,550 which was largely due to Vindas missing the Dominical contest in order to compete in the Latin Pro internationally. Ms. Vindas was awarded an additional 1,500 points for her win Sunday as compared to Ms. Pecoraro’s 1,290. 

Ms. Vindas said she feels the contest procedure of only including the best five contest scores in the final tabulation will leave her in good standing to again be Costa Rica’s circuit champion. 

According to José Urena conditions at the beach in Playa 

Hermosa were challenging for competitors due to waves growing from 6 to 8 feet throughout the two days which only proved to make the current stronger. 

Urena explained that the weekend’s competitors were not able to make as radical maneuvers as is possible in smaller waves and were forced to be more tactical with wave selection as it was difficult to paddle back out after a ride. He is the event organizer, event sponsor, and owner of Jass Surf Shop nearby.

Tabulation of points within a heat is calculated by the scores made by three judges on every wave taken for each competitor within the heat. Then the scores for the best two waves are averaged together in order to determine the placing within a heat. The top two competitors from each heat pass to the next heat in order to compete in the next round. Urena pointed out that some surfers are better in smaller waves and others in larger waves, but experienced surfers such as Alvaro Solano, Diego Naranjo, and Lisbeth Vindas manage the larger waves better than others merely because they are accustomed to competing no matter what the wave is — big or small. 

Results:

Open: 1. Alvaro Solano, Jacó 2. Diego Naranjo, Jacó 3. Ronald Reyes, Venezuela 4. Durby Castillo, Pavonnes

Women’s: 1 Lisbeth Vindas, Jacó 2. Laura Pecoraro, Hermosa 3. Jessica Priddle, San José 4 Jessenia Alfaro, Nosara

Juniors: 1. Isac Vegas, Tamarindo 2. Matt Chellini, Playa Grande 3. Ronald Brown, Puerto Viejo 4. Juan Carlo Naranjo, Jacó

Boys: 1. Jairo Pérez, Jacó 2. Juan Calderón, Jacó 3. Nicolas Ruhlow, Playa Carillo 3.  Anthony Flores

Grommet: 1. Carlos Muñoz, Esterillos 2. Derek Gutiérrez, Quepos 3. Danny Bishko, Esterillos 4. Ariel Aguero, Jacó

Mini-Grommet: 1. Carlos Muñoz, Esterillos 2. Anthony Segura, Esterillos 3. Manuel Mesen, Jacó

Longboard: 1 Ronald Reyes, Venezuela 2. Brennan Clark 3. Rick Thonsley 

Boogie Board: 1. Marlon Sandoval 2. Walter Gatgens 3. Ivan Castillo 4. Alexander Jiménez


 
Caribbean politics highlighted
New volume on Johnson years shows Cold War impact
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964 -1968, volume XXXII, Dominican Republic; Cuba: Haiti; Guyana,. The U.S. Department of State. 2005.

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

This is the second volume in the 1964-1968 sub-series covering the foreign policy of the Lyndon Johnson Administration towards Latin America. 

The first, volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico, was released in September. Together, these two volumes contain 989 documents and over 2,000 pages of key documentation of the Johnson White House, the National Security Council staff, the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Defense. 

The volume released this week concentrates on the Caribbean. The Johnson Administration's primary focus was on the Dominican Republic, which, after the fall of the Trujillo dictatorship, was marked by political instability and crisis. President Johnson was determined to avoid another "Castro-type takeover." 

When the military government of Reid Cabral resigned and leftist forces threatened to take control in Santo Domingo, Johnson sent in the U.S. Marines. The volume documents the efforts of the Johnson Administration to seek evidence of Communist elements in the Dominican Republic, support U.S. intervention through Organization of American States contributions to a peace-keeping force, and negotiate a political settlement through the services of President Johnson's aides and friends.

They included McGeorge Bundy, assistant to the president; Ellsworth Bunker, U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of American States, and Abe Fortas. 

Drawing on Johnson presidential tapes, the volume demonstrates that the president himself maintained hands-on control of U.S. policy towards the Dominican Republic. In August 1965, the various political factions in Santo Domingo established a provisional government, which was to be followed by general elections for president and vice president. 

The Johnson Administration provided both overt encouragement and covert financial support to former President Joaquin Balaguer, the Johnson Administration's favored candidate for president. When the other leading candidate, deposed President Juan Bosch, threatened to boycott the election, the Johnson Administration encouraged him to remain in the race. Balaguer's solid victory over Bosch on June 1966 seemed to confirm the Johnson policy. 

Cuba remained a central focus of Johnson Administration policy, but not at the same level of personal interest as it had been under Kennedy. Johnson continued the economic embargo against Cuba and sought to block Cuban subversion in Latin America. However, European allies were less enthusiastic about economic denial programs against Cuba, and U.S. efforts to enlist their support proved ineffective. 

When the Johnson Administration decided that the ongoing U.S. program of covert harassment of Cuba was not having any real impact, the administration suspended U.S.-sponsored sabotage raids in April 1964. In March 1965, U.S-supported autonomous exile sabotage operations were shut down. The chapter on Cuba also covers the Guantanamo water crisis, U.S. overflights of Cuba to verify that offensive weapons were not being reintroduced by the Soviet Union, and a short-lived consideration of a possible Cuban-American rapprochement. 

The volume's final two chapters cover Haiti and Guyana, both trouble spots for the Johnson Administration. In Haiti, the brutal dictatorship of "Papa Doc" Duvalier presented a dilemma: Duvalier's regime was repressive and corrupt, but there was no Haitian opposition or a candidate to take his place. The United States was reduced to working quietly with Haitian exiles and examining contingencies should Duvalier die, be assassinated, or be overthrown. 

The Johnson administration also focused on Guyana, a small English-speaking country on the South American continent equally split between East Indians and Afro-Guyanese. Fearing "another Cuba" on the South American mainland, President Johnson continued President Kennedy's policy of trying to discourage the leftist Indian Prime Minister of the then-colony of British Guiana, Cheddi Jagan, from becoming the prime minister of an independent Guyana. 

The U.S. Government covertly funneled financial support, and campaign advice and expertise to Jagan's Afro-Guyanese opponent, Lester Forbes Burnham. In December 1964, Burnham won the parliamentary elections. In May 1966, Guyana received its independence from Great Britain and the United States provided economic support and assistance to Guyana. 

When elections were held again in 1968, Burnham received additional secret U.S. support and used absentee overseas Guyanese voters to increase his vote.

The documentation on Guyana demonstrates, as do the  other compilations in this volume, how Cold War considerations especially the fear of another Cuba strongly influenced U.S. Latin America policy. 


 
In case you missed it:
A.M. Costa Rica, April 5, 2005
Our readership more than doubles in one year
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica set another readership record in March when the newspaper registered 2.16 million hits. That was a 22.9 percent increase over February and a 106 percent increase over March 2004, the first month the newspaper exceeded a million hits.

Other statistics had similar increases.

Some 397,368 individual pages were viewed by 99,351 readers. And 45,435 of those readers were registered as unique, which means they were only counted once regardless of how many times they visited the pages in a single day. 

The statistics are maintained by the Internet service provider in the United States where A.M. Costa Rica is hosted. The hosting company keeps track of visits independent of A.M. Costa Rica.

The statistical programs screen out hits and visits by mechanical means, other computers and automated Web crawlers.

The statistics show that the average viewer sees about four pages at every visit to the paper. 

Said Jay Brodell, editor:

"Our dramatic increase in readership over the last three and a half years is no surprise to our advertisers who are getting more and more business from the wave of retirees and would-be retirees who are looking at Costa Rica as a new home and need solid, daily information.

"It’s a new world, and our progressive advertisers recognize that."

A.M. Costa Rica statistics are available on a page that is updated every month HERE!


 
Nanoscience: Maybe the next big technology gold rush
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nanotechnology deals in the realm of the nearly invisible. The word comes from the Greek nanos, meaning "dwarf". But by most accounts, the technology's potential is anything but small. 

Scientists and engineers can now physically work with materials at the atomic level to create stain-proof fabrics, scratch-resistent paints and longer-lasting tennis balls. And researchers say new medical diagnostic tools and smaller, more efficient fuel cells and batteries based on nanoscience are on the way.

Chad Mirkin is director of the Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University. According to Mirkin,"It has only been in recent times that we've had the tools that allow us to manipulate atoms and molecules. There is a big shift here in the way we approach science and the way we approach engineering, and ultimately the way we approach medicine. And I think in many respects it is revolutionary."

From computer chips invisible to the naked eye to microscopic machines that seek out and destroy cancers inside the human body, many scientists contend that the potential of nanotechnology could be endless, but not without controversy.

There are hundreds of nano-enhanced products already in the marketplace. But there are virtually no regulatory guidelines for their manufacture and distribution.

But Kristen Kulinowski, executive director of the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University, is optimistic that science will be able to overcome any of nanotechnology's shortcomings. 

"If we can get a nanoparticle into a cell, that might prove to be a novel and useful drug delivery device," says Ms. Kulinowski. "On the other hand, it might prove to be a toxin to the cell either by punching a hole in the cell membrane or otherwise disrupting the cell's function. We are optimistic that as scientists and engineers, we can actually create particles that will have a benefit and engineer out any potential toxicity."

Still there's near universal agreement among scientists and policy makers that much more research is needed on the health and environmental effects of this new technology.

More than a thousand new businesses around the world devoted to nanotech have opened, half of them in the United States. But according to Northwestern University's Chad Mirkin, a shortage of scientists able to

work in this new field could stall development. Mirkin says, "I think ultimately it's going to be a big limitation in terms of capitalizing on the developments in 
nanoscience and nanotechnology in terms of commercialization. A lot of these advances are turning into new companies and new opportunities. My biggest concern is that the U.S. right now is not prepared to take advantage of that."

Nonetheless, the race in nanoscience could generate more than a trillion dollars of new products during the next decade and reinvigorate European and American industry, as well as fuel Asia's industrial boom.

Pat Mooney is executive director of the ETC Group in Ottawa, Canada — a non-governmental organization that focuses on technology's impact on society. He says nanotechnology will likely create the next generation of billionaires and reshape global business. 

According to Mooney, "We've probably never before  seen a technology where you can get a patent on, for example, carbon nanotubes and find that they could be used in the pharmaceutical industry, in the automotive industry, in the aerospace industry, in computers, in the food industry, you name it. And so a patent on that can actually mean that you've got a pivotal position across the entire economy."

Some proponents of nanotechnology predict that during this century, microscopic devices implanted in the human body may help reverse the aging process, enhance our senses and even bolster our intelligence. But will these breakthroughs also improve our ability to reason and our capacity for compassion?

M. Ellen Mitchell studies the ethics of nanoscience at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future.

Ms. Mitchell notes, "There's a lot of hype around nanotechnology, that privacy will be disrupted, the military will have capabilities that go beyond imagination. And what's unclear is what's hype and what's realistic, and what should be a cause for concern and what should be really a reason for excitement, and how to structure the regulatory mechanisms in tandem with the discoveries. And I don't know if we should be afraid or if we should be excited or if we should be something else."

Whether the benefits of nanotechnology outweigh the risks will determine the future of what many researchers and investors hope will be the world's next industrial revolution. Meanwhile, most analysts say, society must play an active role in assessing the implications of this burgeoning technology.


 
Entire supreme court gets the heave-ho in Ecuador as protests continue
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

QUITO, Ecuador — The parliament has voted to dismiss the country's entire 31-member supreme court following massive protests against recent judicial reforms.

Lawmakers voted unanimously during a special session late Sunday to dismiss the judges and begin work on choosing their replacements.

The vote came four months after the ruling coalition pushed through reforms that included dismissing the 

previous high court when President Lucio Gutierrez accused it of being biased against him. That move sparked massive, peaceful protests here.

In an effort to quell the protests, Gutierrez issued a brief state of emergency last Friday. The protest was renewed Monday night in Guayaquil, the country’s largest city. And some protest spilled over to here.

Thousands of Ecuadorians took to the streets in recent days, banging pots and pans and demanding the president's resignation, accusing him of acting like a dictator. Gutierrez rejects calls to step down. 


 
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