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(506) 2223-1327       Published Friday, April 24, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 80     E-mail us
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Stolen bell
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Agents find historic bell
cut into pieces by crooks


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators finally have located the historic church bell that was taken by thieves Feb. 8 from southern Costa Rica. The 400-pound bell was cut up in pieces on the floor of a private home in Pocora, Provincia de Limón.

The location is some distance from the small native church in Térraba de Buenos Aires where the bell had hung for years. Agents said that the thieves appeared to have chopped up the bell in order to extract copper and gold that had been inlaid when it was made. There was some gold in an inscription on the bell that said "Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe."

No one has been arrested in the case yet, said agents. Agents from Pérez Zeledón and  Siquirres participated in the discovery.

Although the metal in the bell has value in today's market, the bell is considered priceless as part of the native Costa Rican heritage.



Here's chance for young ballerinas to become stars
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ok, stage moms, listen up.

You have been forking over money for ballet lessons for years, and now your daughter has a chance to be a star. Well, a little star.

The Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes and the Teatro Nacional said Thursday that open auditions will be held for "El Cascanueces," the presentation known in English as "The Nutcracker."

The show is a Christmas fixture and has been offered at the Teatro Nacional for years.

This is the second year that auditions for the ballet have been open, although that fact was not well known last year.

The directors are looking for youngsters as well as adults, although youngsters under 18 need to have their parents' permission, said an announcement.

Those who are selected will need strong legs. The show has 12 performances starting Dec. 3. On the other hand, the theater said that performing in 12
professional productions in Costa Rica would be
nutcracker
Teatro Nacional photo
Scene from last year's presentation

an invaluable experience because the country does not have a strong ballet tradition or companies.
Among those who will participate in the selection process is Wess Chapman, artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre II. Local artistic directors are Patricia Carreras and Maria Amalia Pendones

Tryouts are Monday and Tuesday, but those who wish to audition have to obtain a form via the theater's Web site and submit it by the end of business today. There also is contact information on the Web site.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 80

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

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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.


Residency experts

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A full service immigration agency
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Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore —

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Tel: (323) 255-6116
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Physicians and surgeons

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Hearing consultant

English-speaking hearing consultant 
We can professionally evaluate your hearing problem at Clinica Dinamarca off Paseo Colón or at Hospital CIMA.

We are affiliated with Widex hearing instruments because of their quality, natural sound and intelligibility over background noise. That means  no more echoing, feedback or interference.
We service the U.S. veterans/ Foreign Medical Program.
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  Please contact me, Allan, at allan9000@gmail.com or at 8891-8989.
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US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
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Real estate agents and services

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7Legal services

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• Immigration Law.
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Ph/Fax: 2221-9462, 8841-0007
Witness protection remains
an uncertain endeavor


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The La Gaceta official newspaper published the law to protect victims and witnesses Thursday, and immediately there was controversy as the measure went into effect.

A big question as the law moved through the Asamblea Legislativa was who would do the protecting. Janina del Vecchio, security minister, said that her agency did not have the resources. Her Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública houses the Fuerza Pública and the anti-drug police, among other dependencies.

Finally at the legislature lawmakers decided that the Ministerio Público, the nation's independent prosecutorial agency, would have the job of protecting witnesses and victims. Prosecutors work closely with these individuals anyway.

However, it never was made clear how an office that is mostly administrative would protect witnesses. The Ministerio Público is a dependency of the Poder Judicial, so it was logical that the Judicial Investigating Organization, another Poder Judicial dependency, would get the job.

That does not set well with Jorge Rojas Vargas, director of the investigating agency. He said Thursday that his investigators do not have the resources or the training to protect witnesses and victims. He said that in addition to trained individuals he would need cars, protective vests and other equipment.

In fact, when the Judicial Investigating Organization does heavy police work, like raids, agents call in special Fuerza Pública units.

Meanwhile, in certain areas witnesses are in danger. Several have been murdered this year, and even prosecutors connected to the high-profile Fischel trial involving former president Rafael Ángel Calderón complain of threats, masked men and home burglaries. One person who lost a laptop containing significant information on the case was one of the prosecutors. His home was burglarized.

The job of protecting witnesses is a 24-hour one, as Ms. del Vecchio noted when she appeared before the legislature. Costa Rican justice is not rapid, so a witness might have to be protected for five years or more.

Expotur exhibits to open
for public view May 16

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expotur, the Costa Rican tourism market, will be open to the public May 16 after buyers and sellers have made their deals earlier in the week.

The tourism show attracts some 250 firms that come to the country to purchase contracts for tourism services. They are met by nearly the same number of vendors who have hotel space, tours and other services for sale.

The show is open to the trade May 13 though 15. However, many of the booths and displays are elaborate and the public gets a chance to see them.

The show is at the Conference Center at the Ramada Plaza Herradura Hotel. The sponsor is the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo.

This is the 25th year of the event. More information is available at the organization's Web site.

old shotgun
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Confiscated shotgun lacks a trigger guard
 
Sweeps of tourist beaches
fail to find lawbreakers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police officers conducted sweeps of Santa Cruz and some of the beach towns, including Tamarindo, but no arrests appear to have been made.

Officers said that they confiscated 120 baggies of marijuana and 20 cocaine hits.

They also confiscated an old shotgun that appeared to belong in the Museo Nacional and six 12-gauge shells.

Police did not elaborate on the circumstances.

Officers said that more than 50 persons were stopped and investigated in the sweeps but that none had outstanding warrants.

Tamarindo is awash in drugs, and tourists frequently complain that they are confronted with drug dealers every few meters as they walk down the main street.

The shotgun lacked a trigger guard and the rear stock was held to the metal with a plumbing expansion pipe clamp.

Two men held to face
home invasion allegations


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Armed invasions have taken the suburban areas by storm with bandits moving from the better paroled fancy residential sections to places like Santa Ana and even Cóbano.

A Dutch expat died in the Pacific beach community of San Martín de Santa Teresa de Cóbano early Wednesday when masked bandits invaded his home.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that two men were detained early Thursday on allegations that they participated in a home invasion Feb. 13 in Paso Ancho.

One man was arrested in Lomas de Desamparados and the other was detained in Río Azul.

Police agencies have stopped confirming cases of invasions over the last two months despite the probability that the warnings would help citizens protect themselves.

Foreign language deal
struck by executive branch


 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The executive branch has entered into an agreement with Educational Language Corp, and renewed an agreement with the Centro de Canadiense to provide discount language classes to Costa Ricans.

The discounts can range from 33 to 50 percent, said Roberto Thompson, vice minister of the Presidencia.

Students can take classes in languages other than English, too, including French, Portuguese, German and Mandarin, said Casa Presidencial.

In order to take advantage of the deal, students have to contact Casa Presidencai via e-mail:  becas@casapres.go.cr.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 80

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Pensionado, rentista amounts include spouse, minor children
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Under a new immigration law that is on the verge of passing, pensionados can obtain residency for themselves, a spouse and children under 24 years with an income of $1,000 a month.

Rentistas will be able to obtain residency for their spouse and minor children for the new monthly income requirement of $2,500.

That's the word from the legislative committee that is about to send a restructured bill to the floor of the Asamblea Legislativa for almost certain passage, according to Javier Zavaleta of Residency in Costa Rica.

Zavaleta has been following the progress of the bill closely since 2006 because he helps expats obtain residency. He said Thursday that he had spoken at length Thursday with Natalia Cordoba, the principal assistant for the Comisión Permanente de Gobierno y Administración.  She was on her way Thursday afternoon to the last session the committee would hold on the immigration proposal. However, she was able to read from an updated copy of the bill that has endured multiple changes in the committee.

Zavaleta said that he was assured that lawmakers had stricken from the bill language that would seem to make all expats meet the new requirements. Now pensionados have to show that they have an income of $600 a month to gain residency in Costa Rica. Most agreed that this amount was too small to provide an adequate living here.

There had been confusion as to whether the new amounts and the new law would include spouses and children up to the age of 24 in the residency granted the primary applicant.

Zavaleta noted that the only category of persons facing major changes under the new law would be a single rentista applicant who would have to show a stable income of $2,500 just for him or herself. They have to show a monthly income of $1,000 now.

Still unknown is how the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería would apply the bill. The regulations that implement the legislation have not been completed. So it is uncertain, for example, if a rentista could comply with the requirements by posting five years worth of monthly income in a bank account as is the case now.

Initially the Arias administration proposed requiring pensionados to show a $2,000 a month income and rentistas
to show they had a $5,000 a month income from sources outside Costa Rica. The bill also said that existing pensionados and rentistas would have to meet the new requirements when they renewed their status.

Zavaleta and others noted at the time these requirements would eliminate most U.S. residents who sought to seek residency with Social Security income and would as force others to leave Costa Rica.

Zavaleta said Thursday that Ms. Cordoba credited some of the changes to e-mails and contacts from expats last year.

Zavaleta said that only four of his several hundred current clients would not be able to comply with the new requirements.

The final draft says that pensionados and rentistas who renew their residencies would be required to meet the requirements that existed when they originally filed their request.

The committee president, Olga Marta Corrales Sánchez, was quoted by Ms. Cordoba as hoping that the new bill would be passed by the end of April or, at the latest, early in the next legislative term that begins May 1.

Still, the new law would not go into effect until six months after it is published in the official newspaper, so those who do not meet the new requirements still have time to apply before then under the current rules.

The bill is a priority for Óscar Arias Sánchez and his administration. He said at the start of his presidency that the immigration bill passed in 2005 was too harsh. Most of the concerns were not directly related to expat residencies. The administration said that the goal of the bill would be to integrate persons who come here into Costa Rican life. That meant the flood of immigrations from other Latin countries, including Nicaragua.

All expats would have to become affiliated with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and show that at the time they renewed their residencies, said Zavaleta.

A continuing problem with this and other bills in the legislature is that changes, amendments and restructurings are not always easy to obtain, be they in committee or on the floor of the full legislature. Sometimes the exact text of a bill does not become known to the public until it is passed, signed into law and published in the La Gaceta official newspaper.


Economic crunch has an upside, too, in lifestyle changes
Sixteenth century playwright John Heywood also collected old English proverbs and published a book of them in 1546, perhaps including some he coined himself.  The characters in Shakespeare’s plays later uttered many of these proverbs. Down to this day, modernizing the language, we continue to employ them because they apply.  Thus, my thanks to Mr. Heywood as I say (in more modern day language). “It is an ill wind that blows nobody some good.” 

This past “green” season saw lots of rain and wind that many of us thought pretty ill of.  It caused floods, landslides and traffic accidents and probably many broken umbrellas.  But it also filled Lake Arenal, Costa Rica’s main source of hydroelectric power. And it kept windmills working.  As a result, there is no shortage of electrical power, which would have meant blackouts this summer.  It also means that more of the power being generated this year is being produced from water, wind and geothermal sources.  The use of diesel energy has gone down considerably — good news because diesel is more costly and more polluting than other sources now available. 

Perhaps more because of the shrinking economy than a growing green consciousness, industrial demand for electricity has dropped by about 2 percent.  All of these circumstances have prompted ICE, the national power company, to consider actually lowering the monthly cost of electricity, which has gone up considerably.

All of this is good news for Earth Day, which was celebrated Wednesday of this week to remind us that our planet has finite gifts for us to use. 

People in almost every country seem to be responding to the worldwide economic change with behaviors that are also good for the planet. A lot of the writing about what is happening takes the view that these measures are recession-survival techniques that are temporary and one day it will be business as usual. By the same token, the people who are simplifying, reducing their purchases of things they don’t need, reusing what they have instead of throwing it out, and recycling are discovering there are pleasures in these changes.  Families are spending more time together or with friends doing things that don’t cost money. They are thinking in terms of self-sufficiency and healthier living. 
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

 
Actually going green may put more people in the blue zone. Along with all else going on, scientists, gathered by author Dan Beuttner, are investigating longevity around the world: They find places where people live into their 90s and even to 100 in good health.  Costa Rica has a Blue Zone in the Nicoya Peninsula. The Italian island of Sardinia, the Greek Island of Ikaria, and Loma Linda, California are some of the blue zones. 

There seems to be an emerging set of behaviors that contribute to a long and healthy life.  None of them include the latest electronic inventions.  They are, as you might expect, healthy food with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish.  A group of friends or family to whom you are close, a social life, plenty of sleep and an active life (more likely to be doing something outdoors behind a hoe than indoors behind a desk). 

An enjoyment of sex late into life and a religious or spiritual belief also contribute.  A good sense of humor and lots of laughter with an optimistic attitude are important. 

Optimism and laughter are not easy to come by for many given the state of the world and the stress caused by economic concerns.  But in Costa Rica where the values and lifestyles of parents and even grandparents are present today, not part of history, many of these behaviors will be easier to recapture.  People should not despair, a simple life can be a happy satisfying life.

Again, thanks to John Heywood: 

            “The loss of wealth is the loss of dirt,
            As sages in all times assert;
            The happy man’s without a shirt.”


Well, I’m not so sure I would go that far.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 80


Transport company was really drug distributor, agents say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug agents say that a transportation company in Turrialba used its dispatcher and cars and drivers to move drugs in the community.

The operation is Porteadores la Carpira in the la Margot section of Turrialba.

Agents of the Programa Regional Antidrogas of the Fuerza Pública conducted 11 raids Thursday, including one at the transport company. A number of individuals, including the owner of La Carpira and his female companion were arrested. Also detained was the female dispatcher and drivers, the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said.

Porteadores are uniquely Costa Rican. They operate like taxi companies but they do not have a taxi license. They constantly are at odds with taxi drivers.

The porteadores say they enter into individual contracts with those they transport.

Agents confiscated a kilo of suspected marijuana found in the home of the transport company owner, identified by the last names of Vargas Rodríguez, they said
porteadoes headquarters
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Humberto Ballestero
Anti-drug investigators check out the porteadores operation in Turrialba.

Agents said the company moved and sold all types of illegal drugs.

Among the places raided were a bar and a number of private dwellings.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 80



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.



Mayan skull
Chac, the Mayan rain god, is represented in this mask of jade with some Mayan blue pigment.

Researchers study Mayan clay
that resists nearly everything

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mayan artists managed to create a clay-based color that scientists say is extraordinarily resistant to chemicals and the stress brought by the environment.

The final product is called Maya blue which is found in a number of pre-Columbian art works and even was used in the Colonial period as church decorations.

A recent expedition found palygorskite clay, which is the gray base of Maya blue, in several locations on the Yucatan Peninsula. The research were published in the latest edition of Archaeometry.

Involved were researchers from the University of Salamanca, the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, both Spain, and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France.

The results were reported in Spanish in the Servicio de información y Noticias Cientificas.

The goal of the research was to determine the origin of the clay used in so many Mayan works of art, including masks and overlays on human skulls.

The search centered on the Mayan site of Uxmal. The Mayans made the blue color by mixing plant dye with the clay base. The clay withstands all sorts of modern chemicals, and art work made with it survives from at least from 1,000 years ago. Current residents of the Yucatan also use the clay as candles, pottery and as medicine, said the researchers.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 24, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 80


Latin American news digest
California man guilty
of shooting lasers at jets


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A resident of Orange county, California, has been found guilty of willfully interfering with aircraft pilots for intentionally shooting a laser at two commercial airliners that were on approach to John Wayne Airport.

The man, Dana Christian Welch, 37, was convicted this week of two felony counts, each of which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Welch intentionally aimed a handheld laser at two Boeing 7-series jet airplanes that were preparing to land at John Wayne Airport on the night of May 21, 2008.

The first plane, a United Airlines jet, was carrying more than 180 passengers and crew members. The second plane, operated by Alaska Airlines, was carrying more than 80 people. Welch's green laser beam entered the cockpit of the United plane, striking a pilot in the eye and causing the pilot to experience flash blindness. Welch also pointed the green laser beam into the cockpit of the Alaska plane, causing one pilot to duck under a glare shield extending from the dashboard in the cockpit and the other pilot to delay a critical turn necessary to land the plane.

After he was arrested the next day, Welch admitted that he had pointed the green laser at two planes and a law enforcement helicopter that had been dispatched to investigate the incidents.

The jury that convicted Welch of shooting the laser at the United and Alaska flights acquitted him of charges that he attempted to interfere with the operators of the helicopter and a Delta Airlines flight.

While several people across the United States have pleaded guilty to federal charges of pointing lasers at aircraft, Welch is the first person in the nation to be convicted at trial of interfering with aircraft pilots by shooting lasers at their planes.

Welch is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 15.

This conviction should make clear to those contemplating the targeting of cockpits with lasers that such behavior is not only dangerous, but criminal, with serious consequences attached, said an FBI agent involved in the case.


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