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(506) 2223-1327         Published Friday, April 25, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 82         E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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Top prosecutor deplores treatment at Miami airport
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Posted Friday at 5:15 p.m.)
The nation's chief prosecutor is furious because U.S. officials in Miami, Florida, detained him, put him in a room with a handcuffed individual and basically forced him to return to Costa Rica.

The prosecutor or fiscal general is Francisco Dall'Anese, and he said he went to Miami at the invitation of the U.S. government to interview a European who has information on high-level political links to a fraud case. He said he thought that his treatment at the Miami airport was designed to prevent him from interviewing this individual.

The foreign ministry said it has filed a formal protest with the U.S. Embassy here.

The incident in the airport happened Wednesday, said the fiscal, who elaborated on what happened in a  press conference Friday. He also released the text of five-page letter he had sent to Bruno Stagno, the minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

Dall'Anese, who does not speak English, said he identified himself without effect to U.S. officials at the Miami airport as the chief law enforcement officer of Costa Rica. He also said he carried an official Costa Rican passport.
He told Stagno he wanted the United States to bring charges against those who deprived him of his liberty and to reimburse the country for costs. He stayed overnight at an airport hotel and returned to Costa Rica Thursday.

Processing visitors at the Miami airport is the responsibility of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Dall'Anese identified one of the officers involved by the last name of Vega. He said this man, who spoke Spanish, told him orders from his superiors prevented him from telling Dall'Anese the reason for his detention. The man would not further identify these superiors, he said.

Once Dall'Anese said he wanted to return to Costa Rica, Vega became very helpful and escorted him to the American Airlines ticket  counter. Later at the hotel Dall'Anese said he could not make international calls on his telephone.

Dall' Anese said in his letter that his interpretation was that he was held to prevent him from having access to the unidentified European individual who had information on the case.

Dall'Anese said the fraud case has been investigated from about a year but has been hampered because of lack of access to information from the United States.

New police unit will cover just San Jose's downtown
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As one of her first orders of business, the new security minister will help to create a brand new police unit focused only on downtown, said a security spokesman Thursday.

The unit, called Unidades Metropolitana, will be focused on central San José and based in Parque Central, said Jesus Ureña, spokesman for the Ministerio de Gobernación. The new security minister, Janina Del Veccio, will announce the plans today at 9 a.m., he said. The mayor of San José, Johnny Araya, will attend the meeting and show his support for the project, said Ureña.

The reason for the new unit, said Ureña, is because there is no specific police unit in downtown. However there is already a Fuerza Pública delegation covering downtown. There are also Policía de Turismo and Policía Municipal officers who patrol the downtown.
The new metropolitan unit would strengthen what is already in place, said Ureña, and would be the first unit to only serve downtown.

With crime growing in the downtown, additional officers could do some good. But some critics have said numerous separate police units only create more confusion.

In the security proposal presented to the legislature in March, one item is to create a “police platform” in which different police units and law organizations can share a database and information. Ms. Del Vecchio has made little mention of the proposal although she has said she will encourage an “integrated approach” to security. 

The headquarters of Unidades Metropolitana will be directly under the central park. Since there is already a structure, no additional construction will be needed said Ureña. The new officers will come from the Fuerza Pública, probably officers who are already working.

Bill opening insurance market OK'd on first reading
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers took a major step Thursday night to end the state monopoly over the sale of insurance. The legislation received the first of two required approvals.

The legislation would allow foreign insurance companies to offer their services in Costa Rica. Now only the Instituto Nacional de Seguros can do that.

Lawmakers clashed over the prohibition in the measure that would prevent the Instituto Nacional de Seguros from offering its services in other countries. The measure is one of those dozen enabling bills for the free trade treaty with the United States. Under the treaty, the institute could sell insurance in the other signatory nations. But
this is specifically forbidden by the current legislation.

Lawmakers also expressed concern over the future of the firemen, the Cuerpo de Bomberos. Now the fire budget comes from the institute. An alternate source of funding has to be determined.

Even second approval of the measure, which could come next week, does not mean foreign insurance companies will be opening up shop quickly. The country has to set up the regulatory structure for this industry.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros sells a limited number of policies. Costa Ricans do not have complex choices in insurance as do citizens of other countries. So consumers here are not used to dealing with the subtle differences in policies.

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Day felt like a scorcher,
and in Guanacaste it was

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Temperatures never went higher than 25.7 C (78.28 F) in San José Thursday, but a blazing tropical sun made the day seem much warmer.

The temperature in Liberia nearly reached 100 F. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said a weather station there registered 36.9 C, which is 98.9 F.

Another hot spot was Santa Rosa in northwest Costa Rica. The mercury there hit 35.5 C or 95.9 F. Limón on the Caribbean coast saw 30.2 C or 86.36 F, the institute reported.

Meteorologist Rebecca Morera said that the rainy season should start in earnest in the Central Valley next week. Although an early arrival had been predicted, a few days of rain gave way to more dry weather. Guanacaste probably will not see the rainy season until about May 1, she said.

Those well aware of the temperature included firemen who battled a blaze starting about 1 p.m. in Mozotal de Goicoechea. Houses and several furniture fabricating shops were lost. No one was hurt but about 40 persons lost their homes, and an undertermined number of workmen lost their shops.

More road delays planned
by highway painting crews

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Highway workers still are painting lines on the heavily traveled highway 32 between San José and the Caribbean coast. This week they will be working on a section between Río Sucio and the old toll station. There will be interruptions from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

Work last weekend was called off due to bad weather. Motorists are being advised to use alternature routes from Turrialba to Siquirres and Vara Blanca to Sarapiquí.  Officials plan on closing part of the highway again next weekend, too, they said.

Along the Caribbean coast workmen will be on the job at one of the pillars of a bridge over the Río Vizcaya some 25 kms. (16 miles) from Río Banano, Provincia de Limón.  Traffic will be halted from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, said the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

Lifting of ban on gold mining
begins to trigger reaction

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A political battle is developing over the executive branch lifting a ban on open pit gold mining in Costa Rica. The ban, imposed by President Abel Pacheco in 2002, was voided by a presidential decree Wednesday.

The Partido Acción Ciudadana was quick to criticize the decree Thursday. Party lawmakers said the decree would permit new concessions.

Gold mining had had a checkered history here. The Bellavista in Miramar got off to a good start, but its leach pad collapsed last year when soil gave out after heavy rains. The mine is out of business. The Crucitas project near the Río San Juan in northern Costa Rica is ready to begin operations and is awaiting the expected approval from the Secretaria Tecnica National Ambiental. However, approval has been years in coming.

Pacheco had both those projects in mind when he issued his ban, but because project developers had already started their work and had initial approvals from the government, they could not be halted.

Environmentalists are expected to launch a campaign against the decree, too.

Robberies-to-go suspects
captured in twin raids

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two young men were ordering food and then robbing delivery men of money and their motorcycles in Los Hatillos and San Sebastián, said a judicial spokeswoman Thursday.
Agents from the Judicial Investigation Organization arrested two suspects by the last names of Solano, 21, and Cordero, 19, in homes in Hatillo 1 and Hatillo 4, said a judicial spokeswoman. 

Agents said the men are suspected of having committed at least 15 robberies by ordering fast food, hiding out and then holding up the delivery men. The robbers would leave with the food, money, personal belongings and the delivery motorcycle, said the judicial spokeswoman.

Two men held in sex case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men are facing investigation in a case where two minor boys say that they were paid for sexual relations.

The Fiscalía Adjunta de Delitos Sexuales and judicial police raided two locations Thursday, one in Sabanilla and one in Hatillo 6. The men were identified as Raul Velasquez, 67, and Eduardo Cabrera, 38. The men are facing allegations of distribution of pornography, sexual relations with a minor for money and what amounts to imparing the morals of a minor.

The case began March 16 when the mother of a 15-year-old boy filed a complaint. Later investigators determined that another boy was involved, they reported.

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Labor decision sets standard for in-kind and bonus payments
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A fired employee can get compensated for loss of services and non-salary benefits given by the employer under certain conditions, according to the Sala II, which decided a labor case that centered on payments in kind.

The decision serves as another warning to employers who may find that the labor laws are a minefield. An article Monday outlined some pitfalls, but the case of an industrial engineer adds another dimension to what expats with employees have to consider.

The Sala II upheld a lower court ruling and said, in effect, that an employer must compensate a fired employee if the worker received benefits that enhanced his lifestyle during the term of the employment.

The case stems from the suit of an industrial engineer who was let go from his job. He collected all the usual severance payments but demanded in court to be compensated for:

• the loss of a private guard at his home;

• A $500 a month vehicle allowance;

• personal use of the company messenger;

• medical assistance;

• membership in a private club;

• his annual bonus.
The court threw out the claims for the messenger, the car allowance, medical assistance and the cost of the private guard. The court reasoned that these were expenses paid by the employer so that the man could function in his job.

The annual bonus was another matter. The court ruled that periodic and habitual annual payments should be considered when setting the amount of the severance pay.

The court decision seems to cover what the decision defined as any situation that generates a stable and repeated economic benefit to the worker and his family during the labor relationship. That does not mean just cash.

The court even ordered that bonuses for 1996 and 1997 should be considered when figuring the severance pay even though there were no bonuses that year.

The key point, according to independent legal sources, was that the bonus was actually a form of pay and did not vary over the years. And it was not based on employee performance.

For expats, the practical application of that decision is that any economic benefit, even that paid in kind, can result in a money judgment if the employee is discharged. That includes a house or a car for personal use, said the legal sources or anything else that raises the standard of living of the employee and his family.

The summary of the decision released earlier this week by the Poder Judicial did not say what happened to the claim for private club membership.

Lawyers' meeting plans to seek action on discrimination
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A hemispheric meeting of lawyers will hear proposals today to fight discrimination and xenophobia in the Municipalidad de San José. The effort is designed to help children of black and Indian parents, said a summary from the XVIII Congreso Iberoamericano de Colegios de Abogados.

The lawyers will propose that San José join a coalition of cities that already have measures against this type of discrimination. Another proposal is to give municipal permits to entertainment locations only if they agree not to discriminate, said a summary provided by the group.

Discrimination may not be obvious in Costa Rica, but it exists. This newspaper has written periodically about the treatment of perhaps 1 million dark-skinned non-Costa Rican Latins, mostly Nicaraguans, and also about those whose heritage is Afrocaribbean.
Although there are laws that promise equal treatment, the enforcement is haphazard. Plus employment is laced with other variables beside skin color like gender bias and good old boyism, the newspaper has noted.

Johnny Araya, the mayor of San José, is supposed to attend the event today. Also scheduled is a U.N. specialist and several leaders of bar groups in other nations. Gustavo Solís Vega, secretary of the board of directors of the Colegio de Abogados de Costa Rica, is expected to outline concrete actions that can be taken to reduce discrimination. The meeting is in the Hotel Ramada Herradura.

Specifically the municipality is going to be asked to set up a program of conditional approvals for entertainment operations, which will be judged on their treatment of persons of various ethnic groups. Also planned are ideas to help organizations that provide legal and sociological help for victims of discrimination, said the summary.

An ironic look at the highlights in news coverage today
The Olympic Torch is making its wobbly way around the world on its journey to China.  Along the way people have been trying to block its progress because they are protesting China’s repression of the people of Tibet.  Some protesters have other axes to grind and have joined the fray. There have been perhaps as many as one million people marching and blocking this symbolic journey. 

The media coverage has been remarkable.  CNN and other stations covered the aborted run through San Francisco hour after hour.  Coverage has been maintained in every country where there has been an objection.  Some country leaders have decided not to attend the opening ceremonies, and a number of companies have removed their sponsorship of the games.  Amazing, “the power of the press.” It makes me wonder what might have happened had the media covered so enthusiastically the 30 million people who marched against the Iraq war before it started. 

What makes it all so ironic is that when the Olympics took place in ancient Greece, it was the custom that countries that were at war had to declare a ceasefire while the games were in progress if they wished to participate.  Internal strife was not a problem.  Outright war was.

Lately I seem to be attracted to the ironic.  Thus I have been following the news story of the unfortunate 437 children and their mothers of the San Angelo religious compound (and an enclosed space containing buildings is a compound.)

It all seems to be about sex with underage girls.  The girls are not prostitutes, so they are not guilty of breaking any laws. Their mothers may be guilty of being part of a polygamous family and possibly knowingly allowing their daughters to be "married" to much older men.  But many of them know no other way to life — they have been brainwashed.  So it leaves the men who are in charge of the compound who are the wrongdoers. 

But who is being punished?  Does anyone think that even if these men are put on trial and sent to prison they are going to suffer any more than these children and their mothers?  They are being torn from each other, and the children are being placed with strange foster parents, who, I will bet, are not prepared to help them emotionally.  I think of it as the Twinkie solution.

We won’t even talk about the fact that there are probably just as many pregnancies and/or rapes of underage children in any comparable population not in a compound. We have to admit if we are honest, that girls under the age of 18 are having sex.
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

On the frivolous side, there have been many comments about the uniform “frontier dresses” the women wear and the fact that they are not allowed to cut their hair.  I’ve just noticed recently that the low slung jeans and half blouses are disappearing from the city scene.  Talk about uniforms!  Also part of the current fashion are hair lengtheners one can buy to make their long straight hair even longer. 

The difference, of course, is the freedom to choose. Free choice makes all the difference. The women and the children of the compound had no choice.  The men ruled.  And now, with the government involved, they still have no choice.  Either way they are the losers.  A strange sort of justice.

Meanwhile, in Costa Rica, I received an e-mail from Kevin, who is concerned about the big, old and spectacularly beautiful trees along Ruta 7 between Ciudad Colon and Piedades. He feels they are in danger of being cut down to make room for condominiums.  I haven’t seen them, but I love trees.  I understand why they were once worshipped. 

Is there anything to be done to preemptively save these trees?  They are certainly better for the environment than condos. 

And an e-mail from Terry asked me about the story of the artist who, if the news is correct, tied up a stray dog and let him starve in his studio as an art display.  This took place in Nicaragua, but the artist has his work hanging in a gallery in San José.  There is a petition protesting this.

Is there a petition protesting what is happening to the women and children of San Angelo?  An ongoing petition protesting the daily deaths of the people of Iraq, the death of life-giving trees or the starving children in Latin America, not to mention Darfur and soon, other parts of the world?  Do the media cover these topics over and over?

I am beginning to think that blushing is not the only thing humans do that other animals do not, I think we are also the only animal able to accept living in the midst of so much irony.  Maybe that is why we blush.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 25, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 82

Yet another truck carrying suspected cocaine confiscated
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police seized a truck with more than 229 kilograms (505 pounds) of cocaine on the northern border Wednesday, said a security spokesman.

The cocaine, was hidden inside secret compartments in the large truck, in a scheme which seems to be quite common near Peñas Blancas.

The truck had a Honduran plate and the driver was a native of that country, said a police spokesman. Officers from the Policía de Control de Drogas arrested a man by the last names of García Martínez, 35, in the case. If found guilty, he could be faced with international drug trafficking charges, said the spokesman.

The seizure brings the total amount of confiscated cocaine to 5,318 kilograms (11,724 pounds) for this year, said the spokesman at the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

García Martínez entered Costa Rica on April 15, said the security spokesman, apparently with a truck load of glass bottles from Guatemala. The driver was leaving the country with 1,660 crates of soft drinks for Honduras, said the spokesman.

According to police reports, some of the packages contained decals with the logo, "XTRA," similar to the 300 kilograms of cocaine seized in San Joaquin de 
drug bust packages
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Neatly wrapped packages of suspected drugs were in a secret compartment.

Flores, Heredia, April 12, said the spokesman. Authorities believe the operation is part of a Mexican organization that transports drugs north, said the spokesman.

This is the sixth truck captured carrying cocaine this year, said the security spokesman.

Chávez and allies launch program to increase food supplies
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Nicaragua have launched a $100-million food security fund aimed at boosting the supply of staples such as corn, rice and beans and offsetting sharp increases in global grain prices.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez launched the deal Wednesday in Caracas, along with Bolivia's Evo Morales and Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega. Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage also was present.

As the agreement was signed, Chavez blamed capitalism for soaring world food prices. He also said production of some farm products will be increased in response to the situation facing many nations.

The four Latin American countries belong to a regional trading bloc known as ALBA, which Chávez and former
Cuban leader Fidel Castro formed in 2004. The bloc is considered a socialist alternative to a U.S.-backed free trade deal.

Separately, Bolivia's president received the support of the other leaders ahead of a vote on May 4 involving the eastern state of Santa Cruz, an opposition stronghold that seeks greater autonomy from La Paz.

Three other opposition-controlled eastern states, representing Bolivia's wealthiest provinces, are planning to cast votes on autonomy issues later this year.  Morales, Bolivia's first Indian leader, wants to break up the large land holdings of eastern farmers, many of whom are of European descent, and redistribute the property among Indian groups.

He also wants to redistribute the nation's oil and gas wealth, which is centered in the east.

Assembly will get $96 million construction deal for new offices
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Future lawmakers will have a new building to replace the current facilities that have received red notices from health inspectors.

The Contraloria General de la República, the budget watchdog, has given approval for a rent-to-buy deal with the Central American Bank of Economic Integration.

The bank will build the structures, probably near the legislative complex, and then rent it to the legislative 
branch. Lawmakers will have the right to buy the building between 15 and 25 years into the lease.

The transaction cannot exceed $96 million, according to the approval, which was announced in the legislature Thursday afternoon. The bank has estimated that construction will take about three years. So the current lawmakers will no longer be in their jobs when the offices are ready.

For more than 20 years, lawmakers have complained about the condition of the current structures. They harbor pests and are probably unsafe during earthquakes. 

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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 weekday.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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Press group is critical
of Nicaraguan convictions

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter American Press Association expressed concern Friday at a series of actions and views uttered by the government in Nicaragua that are stifling freedom of the press in the Central American country.

The latest development was the conviction by a court Tuesday of Jaime Chamorro Cardenal, the editor of La Prensa, and Eduardo Enríquez, the paper’s managing editor, on libel charges. They were sentenced to a fine of 27,000 córdobas (approximately $1,407) and ordered to immediately publish the verdict without comment. La Prensa filed notice of appeal. The conviction caused widespread reaction there for what was seen as a political move against press freedom,

The chairman of the association's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, declared, “Quite apart from the lawsuit in itself, what concerns us is that a pattern of government conduct can be clearly seen, made worse by the lack of independence of some judges, as evidenced by the restriction or punishment of news media and individual journalists.”

Marroquín said that La Prensa, together with other independent media, has lately been the target of attacks emanating from government circles.

“In recent months,” he added “the IAPA has been complaining of limits placed on the delivery of supplies for the production of newspapers, certain customs duties pressures and an ongoing discrimination in the placement of government advertising in favor of the official media, as well as attacks upon journalists.”

Chamorro and Enríquez were found guilty of libeling five female members of the Citizens’ Power Councils linked to the government party and headed by Nicaragua’s first lady, Rosario Murillo.

The judge of the Managua 8th Circuit Criminal Court, Celso Urbina, ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, who claimed to have been offended by a story published Dec. 19 titled “CPC Has a License to Beat Up.” The article spoke of attacks upon La Prensa reporter Jorge Losáiga, but did not name the alleged attackers, who then filed suit against the newspaper, arguing that they had been offended, exposed to ridicule and called hooligans.

The court ruling was criticized as violating freedom of the press and free speech in Nicaragua and brought reaction from numerous local quarters, among them private sector organizations, national congressmen, opposition leaders, members of various religious denominations and social groups, journalists and news media.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A.M. Costa Rica is a member of The Inter American Press Association.    

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 25, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 82

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, April 25, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 82

National bands and artists make for a 'massive' festival
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A day of live music exhibiting some of Costa Rica's up-and-coming pop and rock groups will take place in the Centro Nacional de la Cultura Saturday.

Ten bands, including Parque en el Espacio, which takes a lot of its influence from English group Radiohead, will be playing from midday until 8 p.m. in the building that borders Parque España in downtown San José.

This is the first Festival Arte Masivo, and will also incorporate a show of works by 30 artists, and health demonstrations in disciplines such as yoga, belly dance, reiki, and massages.

Unusual food stalls will serve cheeses, coffees, juice, tea and pastries in an Azerbaijani style, said an announcement.

 The 2,000 colon ($4) entrance fee will go towards the project Voluntad al Servicio de los Sueños run by the
Fundación Acción Joven, whose work intends to limit the amount of children from poor backgrounds who leave school early or become absentees.

The private foundation is directed by young people from universities who take part in the Trabajo Comunal Universitario program, which requires them to volunteer for 150 hours before they can graduate.

The work is mainly carried out in public colleges in poorer areas, giving the children advice about how they can act in their own communities to affect change.

The other bands that will play during the course of the day are La Escafandra, whose music ranges from jazz to hard rock, Parlour, el proyecto Nois Nois, Polaroid, Los Acetatos, The Movement in Codes, Exnobia, Sensor Trifulcador and Poper.

More information is available at 8883-1850.

Interrogating your oponent with table talk
Table talk is a part of the game, and frankly, it’s the part of the game that I enjoy most.  How players react to questions that you ask can give definitive information as to the strength of their hand.  Even an opponent who says nothing at all might be sending a silent signal.  A mere shrug, an awkward smile, or even a frozen stare can be meaningful. 

To begin your interrogation, make sure that your line of questioning makes sense.  And be prepared to use different approaches because not all opponents will respond in the same manner.

One approach is to try to catch your opponent off guard, hoping to get him to relax and give a genuine reaction.  Try asking a question that is non-confrontational.  Here’s one that I like:  “From the way you’re playing this hand, you must be from Sweden.  Swedish players are nuts and so is this hand!  You didn’t take lessons from Gus Hansen, did you?”

You see, Gus Hansen is known for his wild and aggressive style of play, but more apropos to your question, he’s actually from Denmark, not Sweden.  If your opponent knows this, his reaction may give up some information as to the strength of his hand.  He may answer, “Gus is not Swedish, he’s Danish”, and follow that up with a chuckle.  He might say, “Swedish players are even crazier than Danish players!”

The ease in which he responds, and of course, what he actually says, will help you gauge his comfort level.  The more comfortable he appears, the more likely he’s got a strong hand.  The less comfortable he seems, the more likely he’s bluffing.  It’s really that simple.  The key point is that your questioning doesn’t need to have much to do with poker; it’s just about a guy named Gus who’s from Denmark, not from Sweden. 

You can also recite a short spiel designed to elicit a telling response from your opponent.

For example, after an opponent bets, say something like, “I’m such an idiot.  Why in the world did I bet the flop if I couldn’t call a raise?  Man, I do this so often (while laughing out loud) it’s not even funny.  I must really be a terrible player.”

This kind of table talk takes the focus off your opponent and places it squarely back on you.  Your goal is to get your opponent to lower his guard so you can gauge his reaction to your self-mocking tirade. 

By making it seem as though you aren’t the least bit interested in him, he might relax, loosen his shoulders, or laugh out loud.  But if he’s bluffing, he may not move a muscle.  Remember, every player reacts differently.  It’s your job to figure out the meaning behind his reaction or lack thereof.

You can also try asking a specific question looking for a specific response.  For example, there’s always the classic, “If I fold will you show me your hand?” 

Once you ask this question, concentrate on how your opponent answers.  Does his response indicate that he’s enticing you to fold?  Does he seem completely disinterested in what you do?  Believe me, if he is indeed bluffing, he’ll certainly be interested in what you do.  If he has a monster hand, however, he’ll probably show less interest in whatever decision you make.

These are just a couple of the tricks you’ve seen me use on television.  I’ve got a few more in my repertoire but I can’t give away all my secrets!  Go ahead and create some of your own trickery.

Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, "Hold’em Wisdom for All Players."
© 2008 Card Shark Media.  All rights reserved.


Mini-mall comes to the rescue of the not-rich-but-hungry

food court

For those in the know, there is a clean, affordable, relatively quiet gastronomic surprise off the pedestrian mall in downtown San Jose.  Between Arenas clothing store and the Patio Restaurant, behind a perfume counter and a Pops Ice Cream sits a food court without a McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway or Church's Chicken in sight. 

Tropical Food is a counter selling relatively healthy food.  While their batidos aren't as delicious as the ones found at FrutiLand in Mall San Pedro, the water-or-milk-
blended-with-fruit drink is a refreshing treat to carry during your walk along Avenida Central.  A batido with the fruit of your choice mixed with water costs 650 colons, with milk, 750 colons.  That's from $1.30 to $1.50.

Adding honey or granola takes you up to a still-reasonable 900 colons ($1.80).  The store also peddles fruit salads, ranging from 700 to 1.600 colons ($1.40 to $3.20).

Marisqueria produces delicious looking and smelling seafood dishes.  A customer-friendly hanging chalkboard lists their menu and respective prices.  A small corvina ceviche will set you back 1,950 colons ($3.90).  Get a small rice with shrimp for 2.150 colons ($4.30), 2,800 ($5.60) for a larger serving.  Or try one of the fish filets prepared several different ways, the cheapest being with oil and garlic for 2,600 ($5.20) colons, the priciest fish filet dish is 3,600 colons ($7.20) for relleno with ham and cheese.

Click here to read more

Festive season proves troublesome even for established restaurant

vealBeing a chef in a busy kitchen must be a pretty stressful job, but around Christmas stress is something any successful restaurant should factor in as inevitable.

On a second visit to well-reputed French restaurant Le Chandelier, it soon became obvious that the staff were poorly equipped for the onslaught of Christmas party diners on a Tuesday night, leaving the usually decent food to deteriorate into a procession of almost inedible starters and bland entrees.

Set in an old San Pedro house with brick ceilings and wooden beams that was converted into a restaurant around 15 years ago by Swiss owner Claude Dubuis, Le Chandelier purports to offer French cuisine that has been developed over generations of experience.

Click here to read the full review

A great meal is not all in the presentation

musslesandfondue120407With a vaulted glass ceiling, palm trees lining the pathway and posh lighting, one would not expect Saga restaurant to be settled behind a dull parking lot in Escazú.

Although this restaurant may look out of place, it doesn't deviate much from the norm in Escazú, an area many would classify as suburban sprawl.

The majority of the cuisine at Saga seems to fit with the setting: classy presentation, yet lacking any profound flavors. Although the restaurant boasts itself as an “international food restaurant” on its Web site, much of the inspired cuisine is lacking the depth which would be found in authentic dishes.

Click here to read the full review

Film and Dramatic Arts ...

National violinist plays third Orquest Sinfonica concert

It is the turn of the violin this weekend, as the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional holds its third concert of the season in the Teatro Nacional.

Costa Rican soloist María Lourdes Lobo currently plays violin with the Cuarteto Alma, which is made up of four women and regularly performs in various culture centers around San José.

In this weekend's concert she will be interpreting German composer Max Bruch's popular "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra."

She will also play English composer Frederick Delius' "Preludio a Irmelin," which was premiered 19 years after the composers death in 1934, and Shostakovich's "Symphony Number 10, according to the alterations made by Jacques Sagot at the event of Stalin's death."

Read more - click here

Costa Rica's cinematic heritage shared with all at public libraries

All over the country, film lovers are being given the chance to learn a bit more about Costa Rica through cinema screenings in public libraries.

Viewers will probably be surprised to find out there are so many Costa Rican films in circulation, and although none is famous, they deal with issues close to the country's history.

Subjects range from the nation's love of guaro and documentaries on influential figures such as Francisco Amighetti and Juan Santamaría, to racial issues, lighter animated films, and even how to fish shrimp responsibly.

Margarita Rojas, director of the Sistema Nacional de Bibliotecas, initiated the project, making copies of the works that she considers essential to Costa Rican cinema to send around the country.

Read more - click here

Festivals ...

Semana U fills campus with cultural events

The campus of the Universidad de Costa Rica is buzzing more than usual this week, as students fill their time with cultural events instead of exams.

Although classes continue, students often choose not to attend, as the attraction of concerts, sports, theater and art overpowers their studious side.

La Semana U is a tradition that has been going on for much longer than most of the current students can remember. Individual faculties work with the Federacion de Estudiantes to organize the participation of a wide variety of acts and to secure enough money from the university to hold the week of fun and games.

“A few years ago, the faculties would sell beer to the students in order to earn some money,” said Mauricio Arayas Santana, an ex-student.

“They would spend it on useful things like more computers. Now they've banned beer because too many students were getting drunk and falling asleep on the lawn.”

Instead, the week focuses around more wholesome activities, but as the events do not charge an entrance fee, the faculties do not earn any money.  The week lasts until Friday.

Read more - click here
Books ...

Land use in Costa Rica documented by Fulbright scholar

Forty years of living in the jungle, moving between secluded forestry stations and research labs, has led Louisiana resident and NASA veteran
Armond Joyce
Armond Joyce
Armond Joyce to write a book about the changing uses of land in Costa Rica.

After winning a presitgious Fulbright scholarship in 1998, he came back to Costa Rica to revisit forest sites that he worked on over three decades earlier as a graduate student. 

Some of the earliest satellite technology available was used in 1966 to take arial photographs of Costa Rica's countryside, and the
book compares these black and white shots with up-to-date images.

Click here to read more

New book dwells on the social aspects of food

Food is not just a selfish pleasure or a way to stifle hunger, but is central to the evolution of art, according to a new book published by Museos del Banco Central.

Artworks by Costa Rican painters are the main content of the hardback book, “Imagenes para Comer,” which follows the representation of food in art since still life painting became popular in the Renaissance.

Full-color pictures of both traditional and modern works are far more common than recipes, as the author Marjorie Ross only provides seven recipes within the book.

All are traditional Costa Rican dishes showing influences from different sections of the community, such as corn fritters, white beans and chorizo and fruit salad.

The book focuses on the meanings that food has within society, and how these are portrayed by art.

Click here to read more

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