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(506) 2223-1327               Published Wednesday, April 21, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 77        E-mail us
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Government will become bookmaker for soccer
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government is going into the bookmaking business. Steps were made Tuesday to set up a framework so Costa Ricans can bet on first- and second-division soccer games through the Junta de Protección Social, which already runs the state lotteries.

Casa Presidencial said that the gambling income would help finance the sports and allow the national teams that are far behind on their social security obligations to pay off the debt. Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, minister of the Presidencia, said that the project would mean more income for the Junta to spend on its many social programs.

The public bookmaking project would compete with a web of illegal gaming that now exists in the country.

Officials even talked about setting up stands in soccer stadiums where fans could place bets.

Betting would be on teams associated with the Unión Nacional de Fútbol.

Tuesday various officials signed agreements putting the plan into action. The project would allow off-site bettors to place their wagers via telephone or Internet. Involved in the project are the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, known as ICE, and Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., known as RACSA, the two principal Internet suppliers. ICE also provides telephone service.

Some of the national soccer teams are deeply in debt to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and, by extension, other social agencies. Caja officials have been known to close stadiums to force payment of some of the debt. The money raised by gambling would be in the hands of the Junta, which would provide a share to the national soccer organization. That organization, the Unión Nacional de Fútbol, would assume the obligation of paying off the teams' debts before sharing the funds with them.

The remaining funds are suppose to allow the teams to improve their infrastructure. Some will also go to second division teams.

Rodrigo Arias said that the gaming project would allow the Junta to continue its sacred mission. The Junta now gives money to many social organizations all over the country.
gambling in Costa Rica


Alberto Bermúdez, manager of RASCA, said that his company and ICE would provide technical support.

Joaquin Hernández of the soccer league said that Costa Ricans would be able to place their bets at first on the estimated 15 weekly games involving first and second division teams. Eventually the betting would be extended to various European leagues, he said.

The lottery is a long-standing institution in Costa Rica. The governmental system faces competition from illegal lotteries. The Junta has had to expand its efforts to a variety of instant and daily tickets as well as the weekly lottery.

The meeting Tuesday was a surprise because there had been no public talk of the government expanding its role as the nation's bookmaker. President-elect Laura Chinchilla has been critical of casinos and is expected to crack down in some way on them when she takes office in just 17 days.

Although Costa Rica is home to a number of sportsbook operations, most firms avoid taking bets from Costa Ricans. The principal gaming is on North American sports.

The Junta will have to come up with some form of betting that is not even money in order to extract a profit. Costa Ricans are unlikely to bet 1,000 colons with the expectation of winning 600 colons.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 77

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


Real estate agents and services

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Río Virilla cleanup set
for Saturday in Mora

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An expected 200 volunteers will take to the banks of the Río Virilla Saturday for the second weekend of cleanup.

The event is being sponsored by the Fundación Terranostra with the support of Banco Nacional and Teletica.

The volunteers will begin at the Piedras Negras section in the Cantón de Mora. The river is widely acknowledged as one of the dirtiest in Central America. The goal is to eliminate the trash and garbage along the river near the Brasil hydro plant operated by the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz. The dam at the plant is a collection point for tons of garbage that comes down the river from the San José and Desamparados regions. The company maintains a crane there to lift trees, garbage and trash from behind the dam.

In the first effort to clean up the banks of the river, volunteers collected 2,267 kilos, nearly 2.5 tons, of trash and garbage, said the bank. Much of the trash consists of plastic bottles which can be recycled. Money raised from recycling is passed on to local recycling associations, said the bank.

After Saturday, there are six more cleanup days scheduled for the river, about one a month into October. The bank is maintaining a data base of those who want to be enrolled as volunteers and notified about future cleanups. Enrollment is via an e-mail to pbertoglia@bncr.fi.cr.

Our readers' opinions
3G system fails to give
service that was promised


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your article about the old TDMA and the supposedly newer, better Kölbi 3g underscores, at least for me, another problem that the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad has.  The new Kölbi 3G data card/modems have run out, and that is only part of another problem with ICE’s new 3G service.  The ‘new’ system is NOT working well, and many of us who bought this data card/modem for internet service are pretty much left in the lurch.  What ICE didn’t tell us is that a lot of us are still in fringe areas where the 3G signal is weak, and therefore, we are not able to obtain the promised high-speed broadband access they promised us.

Personally, I can tell you that my service is all over the place.  Yesterday afternoon, for example, I couldn’t even get on line for short periods, and when I did connect, the connection was so tenuous that even my e-mail could not fully download.  This has been the standard of my 3G since sometime in February.  Yes, that’s right, February.  It was not actually as bad in January as it is now.  Weather obviously has nothing to do with it as yesterday afternoon was hot and sunny.

I have personally gone back to the local ICE office on at least three separate occasions, asking them for help, to exchange the unit, to do something.  The local office staff simply gives the strong impression that they do not have a clue.  First they told me that no exchanges were being done because so many people were complaining like me, and that they were compiling a list of users to forward to San Jose, so an engineer could come and survey our area.  That, of course, has not happened. 

I have sent three different consultas via e-mail, to their contraloria.  The first, sent in January, received an answer after the second (which was sent on Feb. 7), had received a non-answer.  That second request for assistance took six weeks for a response.  Ultimately, and not a bit surprisingly, the local office told me that there are simply no more data card/modems available in the country, and they have no idea of if or when ICE will deliver the high speeds they originally promised for January.  (Some of your readers may recall that ICE originally said that this system would provide speeds up to 1.5Mbps, but to date the best I have gotten, and then only for short periods of time, has been around one third of that).  Granted, they are still not charging the full amount that the service was going to cost, and that speaks volumes, at least to me.
John G. Dungan
Aguacate de Tilaran

When is summer?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Winter vs. Summer. We have just bought a condo in Costa Rica to escape Canadian winters. My husband and I live in Edmonton, Alberta, and the winters are very cold and DRY. Even though we get a lot of snow, snow is not usable water, and cold is very drying.

Our humidity level is never very high in the Province of Alberta at any time. In the spring the snow melts, but a lot of it runs off and can't soak into the frozen ground. My point if winter (November to March) is our dry time (no useable moisture) and Costa Rica calls summer (December to March) it's dry time (no rain), is summer just a point of view ?? I am confused. Can you get a science teacher to explain this.
Patti Fraser
Devon Alberta

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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.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 77

Democrats Abroad book sale


Prosecutor seeks a criminal case against Arias ex-minister
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After more than a year of investigation, a prosecutor asked a court Tuesday to open a criminal case against former environmental minister Roberto Dobles Mora.

The prosecutor is in the Fiscalía Adjunta de Delitos Económicos, Corrupción y Tributarios, and the court is the  Juzgado Penal de Hacienda. The prosecutor also asked the court to order Dobles to sign in once a month so that he is available.

Dobles is facing an allegation of self-dealing. Prosecutors say that when he was minister of Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, he authorized a gravel extraction permit in Puntarenas for a company in which his family had holdings.

The Procuraduría de la República has joined the case as a civil claimant to seek a money award against the former minister.

The five-year concession is on the Río Aranjuez near
Miramar and is valued at about $2 million a year.

The court will study the request and set a date and hour for a preliminary hearing to determine if the case shall proceed on its merits, said the Poder Judicial.

For his part, Dobles, who resigned his post, said that the concession holder, Agricultura Mecanizada Chapernal S.A., met all the requirements and that the Dirección de Geología y Minas recommended approval. He called the criticism directed at him unfounded when he appeared March 9, 2009, at a legislative committee hearing. His uncle is a vice president of Chapernal.

However, the relationship goes deeper. The political party Partido Acción Ciudadana said that Chapernal S.A. is owned by Azucarera El Palmar in which the Dobles family holds shares of stock through a company called Morvill. Dobles is a first cousin of President Óscar Arias Sánchez.

Acción Ciudadana also said that the Municipalidad de Puntarenas opposed the concession award in April 2006, just before Dobles took office.


34 North Americans scammed with work permits, agents say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators made three arrests Tuesday in what they say was an immigration scam that took money from Canadian and U.S. citizens in exchange for false work permits.

The raids took place in three homes in Coronado, Guadaloupe, Curridabat, an office in Rohrmoser and the central offices of the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería. One of those arrested, a 59-year-old woman with the last names of Mora Acosta, is a long-time employee of the immigration agency.

She was arrested at work and led away in handcuffs.

Also arrested was a 47-year-old woman with the last names of González Jinesta, who held herself out as a residency specialist. The third person, a 49-year-old lawyer with the last names of Arias Venegas, was accused of notarizing false documents provided by Ms. González.
The Judicial Investigating Organization and the Poder Judicial said that at least 34 Canadians and U.S. citizens paid between $3,000 and $4,000 to get the false documents.

The case is being handled by the Unidad Especializada de Fraudes of the Ministerio Público.

The Poder Judicial said the case developed since 2008. Ms. González is accused of soliciting individuals who sought work permits in exchange for money.  Eventually the victims got their passports back with seals they thought came from the immigration agency. The documents also carried signatures of two immigration officials who never signed them, said agents.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that some of the fake permits were for permanent residency. Both work permits and permanent residency are notoriously hard to get, which is why some foreigners would be willing to pay money to a specialist.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 77



Third annual guitar festival begins Thursday in Universidad Veritas in Zapote

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The four day Festival de Guitarra de San José begins Thursday with 30 musicians in the auditorium of the Universidad Veritas in Zapote.

This is the third year of the event, which features flamenco, classical, electric, jazz, Latin American songs and a guitar orchestra.

The festival has the support of the Municipalidad de San José and the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

Performances will be at 7 p.m. except Sunday when there also will be an afternoon performance at 1 p.m.
The Cuban Carlos Castro who is a Costa Rican resident will play both Thursday and Friday. He specializes in jazz and improvising. Luis Fernando Aguilar will present his flamenco performance with a Spanish emphasis Friday.

The 7 p.m. performance Sunday will feature all the musicians in a closing concert.

Admission every evening except Sunday evening is 4,000 colons (about $6) with 3,000 (about $6) for students and ciudadanos de oro holders. Sunday the general admission is 5,000 colons, about $10.

The university is one kilometer west of Casa Presidencial in Zapote.



Detained drinkers should do service work against racism, foundation says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If anyone needs an excuse, Friday, conveniently, is German Beer Day, an actual day of commemoration.

The day marks the signing of Bavaria's beer purity law in 1516 that stipulated what can be put in the mix to make the product.

The day is being noticed here by the Fundación Mundial Déjame Vivir en Paz, which said that the justice system should let individuals being punished for alcohol crimes to discharge their community service penalties in organizations that work against discrimination, xenophobia and racism.

The organization also said that prison inmates who have
obligations to do practical work should be able to discharge their obligation the same way.

Community service is a possible penalty for drunk driving or for alcohol-induced disturbing the peace.

Déjame Vivir en Paz urged responsibility in drinking but also pointed out that alcohol is a long-standing Latin American tradition that predates the arrival of the Spanish. In a press release, the group noted that chicha occupied the same role here as wine did in the Middle East.

Chicha can be a corn or rice drink that may or may not contain alcohol. In some sections of the Andes women prepare chicha by chewing the corn or rice in the mouth and then spitting the result into a bowl. Frequently the term is used for any type of Latin drink.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 77

Medical vacations in Costa Rica


Mata Moho
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Larry Whitworth and his anti-mold device

Killing mold is the goal
of expat's tubular device

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

New arrivals to Costa Rica frequently suffer from upper respiratory problems or an increase in existing asthma. The culprit might be mold.

Larry Whitworth has started a business to provide a quick solution to defeating mold even down to the moldy clothes and shoes that frequently inhabit oceanside closets.

His device is modeled after similar ones elsewhere, but the Mata Moho (Mold Killer) is made in Costa Rica. It is a metal tube containing silicon and an electrical element. The device warms and dries air in confined spaces.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that a humidity level below 50 percent controls mold and asthma attacks. The agency suggests dehumidifiers and air conditioning in warm climates.

Whitworth, a U.S. citizen, said he has had positive responses with trials by persons with asthma and other respiratory conditions. He is seeking to market the product through all of Costa Rica. One man put the device under the bed. Whitworth uses one in his closets.

The device can be from 18 to 48 inches and draw from eight to 15 watts. Whitworth, a Curridabat resident, said that is from 50 cents to $1 a month in his neighborhood. His MM La Empresa S.A. is licensed in San Carlos. So far he does the assembly work. Eventually, he said, the devices will be on the market from 14,000 to 24,000 colons, some $27.60 to $47.50 at the current exchange rate.

Whitworth, who spent 20 years in Perú is seeking residency here. A long-time friend in Arizona has asthma, and the device originated as Whitworth sought ways to reduce symptoms of that disease when the friend moved here from Tucson, Arizona, he said.

Bossy blamed for gases
contributing to warming


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Just under three per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions are a result of milk production, according to a new report by the U. N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This figure includes emissions related to the production, processing and transportation of milk products.

The percentage climbs to 4 when emissions from meat production from animals originating from the dairy system are factored in, the study says.

The agency points out that methane contributes most to milk’s impact on global warming, accounting for more than half of the sector’s emissions in both developing and developed countries. Nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide also account for large proportions of the dairy sector’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, it said

The new report covers all major milk production systems, from nomadic herds to intensified dairy operations, focusing on the entire dairy food chain, including the production and transport of inputs, such as fertilizer, pesticides and feed.

The latest report is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to analyze and recommend steps to mitigate climate change.

Its landmark 2006 study, entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” found that 18 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions were caused by the livestock sector.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 21, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 77


Latin American news
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Woman gets 30 years
in arson death of husband


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A trial court in Puntarenas convicted a women Tuesday in the arson death of her husband and sentenced her to 30 years in prison.

The woman has the last names of Miranda Alvarez. The dead man is Carlos Manuel Silva Zapata, 59, who received a $50,000 payoff when he left the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuacultura. He died in his car Feb. 26, 2007, in a section known as Cascabel de Caldera in Esparza.

Passersby found the car aflame in a ditch off the side of the road. Although he carried no identification, he was well known in the area because he worked a lot with young soccer players, said investigators.

Prosecutors alleged successfully that the woman killed her husband for the money.

Murder's victims' dwelling
yields stash of marijuana


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 20-kilo stash of marijuana is the suspected motive for a murder Monday night in San Francisco de Dos Rios. Agents found the marijuana, packaged in 2 kilo amounts as they investigated the murder.

The victim was identified by the last name of Grand or Grant.  The 42-year-old man was at home when someone arrived about 8:40 p.m. and engaged him in a discussion, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The discussion ended in gun play and the victim received four bullet wounds in various parts of the body, agents said.

Agents found the marijuana in the bedroom.

Experts to discuss quake design

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Experts from the American Concrete Institute will be the principal presenters at the second Seminario Internacional Diseño Sísmico del Concreto Estructural that will be held Thursday starting at 8 a.m. in the Laboratorio Nacional de Materiales y Modelos Estructurales of the Universidad de Costa Rica. The all-day session is designed for engineers, architects, students and others to learn the current minimums for design and construction of concrete buildings in earthquake zones.

The presenters have experience examining buildings in Haiti and Chile, said the laboratory.





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