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(506) 2223-1327               Published Tuesday, April 27, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 81        E-mail us
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So many ribbons, and so little time
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As his second term as president approaches its end, Óscar Arias Sánchez is hustling to enlarge his place in the history books.

This week is filled with official ceremonies, including what Casa Presidencial calls the inauguration of 75 percent of the new national stadium. That event, scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday in Parque la Sabana, is a reminder of then-president Able Pacheco hurrying to inaugurate an uncompleted Puente de la Amistad over the Río Tempisque as his term ended.

But Arias appears to be more ambitious. He has plans to place the first stone at the new Parque La Libertad southeast of San José Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Then Wednesday at 3:30 he is accepting delivery of Juan Santamaría airport, according to Casa Presidencial. Nevertheless, the airport will remain in the hands of the concession holder, Houston Airport Systems.

Then Thursday Arias goes by air to Llorona, which is about five minutes south of the airport in Quepos for the inauguration of the Costanera Sur at 10 a.m. Then the president is off to Puerto Jiménez to inaugurate the new airport runway there. That's at 10:30 a.m. A half hour later, the president is inaugurating the Rincón-Puerto Jiménez roadway.

Heredia plaque
Casa Presidencial photo
This plaque is at the Centro de Cultura Popular Herediana that was inaugurated two weeks ago.
ribbon cutting
Casa Presidencial photo
 This ribbon was at the Cen Cinai, in Guarari.
 The organization provides nutrition and help
 for low-income families.

Saturday at 7 p.m. Arias appears before the Asamblea Legislativa to recount his achievements in his presidential term.

The state of the nation speech is an annual event, but this time Arias will be just a week away from leaving office.

All of these infrastructure improvements would work just fine without an official inauguration, but the tradition is to have a top official say a few words. Then, sometimes, a plaque is installed for the benefit of future generations.

Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, the brother who is said to have presidential aspirations himself, also will be doing some inaugurating.  He will be in Limón today giving his approval to a new fire station and a new regional office of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 81

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


Real estate agents and services

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with Great Estates of Costa Rica

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The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the  General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization  to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
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Hearing consultant

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Our readers' opinions
He supports Arizona law
against illegal immigrants


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I was surprised to see the article about how President Obama considers the Arizona immigration law "misguided"  It, in fact, is President Obama and the U.S. federal government that is seriously misguided. For years U.S. citizens have been preyed upon by criminals and drug dealers on the Mexican border with no help from the U.S. government.

I applaud the governor of Arizona for taking the necessary steps to protect her citizens from the onslaught of crime and drugs that have penetrated the state. Another article further on in A.M. Costa Rica says it all, referring to the killing of Mexican federal police by drug gangs in Juárez across the U.S. border.

One only needs to look at the people protesting there in Arizona to see that it has gone on way too long already. Costa Rica has road blocks frequently on major highways to check among other things, immigration status, and no one minds except the criminals and illegal people here. No one who is legal has anything to fear here or in the state of Arizona unless their intent is something other than legality.  
Fred Cole
Nuevo Arenal


Citizen just can't contact
the prestigious FBI

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I tried to contact the FBI by telephone today (Monday). I called five times. I got hung up on five times.

I even reminded one "operator" that some folks had trouble reporting some guys that wanted to learn to fly aircraft but showed no interest in learning to land. 

One jerk (there is no milder word I can think of) that answered three of my calls between 11:50 and 1:15, kept asking what was the nature of my call.  I told him that I wanted to talk to a low-ranking agent and share some ideas.  I was told to call the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.

I told him the local "letters to the editor" was chock full of complaints from U.S. citizens that simply could not get through to anyone at the embassy. (another hang up). 

Call again. "This is an administrative office, we don't have any agents here."  I stated that it was long distance and I was calling the number on the front page of the FBI Web site, and would they please connect me with an agent [here it shows my stupidity to think that the FBI might have a communications system].  Hang up. 

Call and get "Mr. Jerk" again. I ask "What is your name?"  They don't give out names, for security reasons.  "OK, employee number."  "We don't have any" (hang up).

There was a commission to see why citizen reports and even field office reports just didn't get passed up concerning the flight students.  Lots of talk, lots of headlines, lots of federal dollars.  Recommendation: BETTER COMMUNICATIONS. 

Nine years later, same old stuff.  I really think I had an interesting idea (no, nothing as "interesting" as 9-11)  but interesting, to me, a citizen, a guy that cares about his country.  I tried, I started with the U.S. Attorney's Office for Southern New York where I was referred to the FBI where I got hung up on five times in a row without speaking to an agent.  I think that if I had wanted to get a group of Cub Scouts a gee-whiz tour of headquarters I might have gotten further.  But just let a civilian try to contact an agent with the esteemed FBI , hang up on them, quick.

OK, I'm not a cop.  That doesn't make me stupid.  I think I am observant and went through the trouble to get a number for the U.S. attorney (by contacting the New York City Public Library.  No other listings could I find on the Internet) and ended up bounced to FBI where the insults REALLY start to fly.  I repeat I have nothing as wild as "wanna fly but not land,"  but I do have something that I feel could save a great deal of time and money investigating something strange on Wall Street.

Of course we read about Gigabytes of pornography being downloaded by the Security and Exchange Commission, I can't, now, wonder why no FBI agents are available in Washington.  They might be using all that inter-agency communications to share, ah, "intelligence".  The SEC sure did, at highest levels, while Rome burned.  Hello? FBI?  Not available?

The U.S. Attorney in New York, and the FBI (if anyone at the embassy reads this) can just wonder what I had.  I got so mad I think I forgot.  Just a dumb civilian anyway.
Charles Merritt
San Isidro de Alajuela

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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.

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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, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 81

Bridge work
A.M. Costa Rica/Manuel Avendaño Arce
Bridge
blockade


There are no half measures when a railroad bridge needs to be painted. The span over Calle 17 became a parking spot for workmen Monday as they applied special paint to prolong the life of the bridge. The job is expected to take about 10 days more during which time the road which runs in front of Hospital Calderón Guardia will remain closed. The site is just north of Parque Nacional.

Passenger rail service will be extended to Curridabat
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The rail passenger service that now goes to the Universidad de Latina in Montes de Oca will be extended next week east into Curridabat, said Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles.

The expansion of the service was expected because officials hope to see a much greater expansion of service in the next year.

Miguel Carabaguíaz will be continuing as president of the
national rail service in the Laura Chinchilla government that takes office May 8. He started in the job in the Abel Pacheco government and has served during the entire Óscar Arias Sánchez administration.

He engineered the renovation of the Heredia to San José route and expanded it to go to Universidad Latina. The agency has hopes to extend the service from the western reaches of the Central Valley to Cartago.

The agency also is going to be seeking a concessionaire to electrify the line. Now the engines are diesel.


Banco Nacional promises aggressive insurance marketing
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Banco Nacional has named a chief of its insurance division and said that it would use its customer contacts to become a serious player in the national insurance market, which is now open to competition.

Named was Carlos Solís Hidalgo. The subsidiary is called BN Corredora de Seguros. Solís Hidalgo has experience in the insurance industry and worked with Citibank in Chicago, Banco Nacional said.

The bank has had experience in insurance, mainly as it applies to policies linked to credit. It said its goal was to become No. 1 in the Costa Rican insurance market. That probably is not good news to the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, which maintained a monopoly until passage of a new insurance law that sought to encourage competition.
Juan Carlos Corrales, general manger of the bank, said that the insurance subsidiary would offer value-added products.

Solís Hidalgo said that the client base of Banco Nacional represents a potential large enough to insure the success of the new subsidiary. He promised an aggressive business strategy. The bank will develop different products to fashion a comprehensive package that includes pensions, investments, banking accounts and credit cards, he said.

Solís Hidalgo noted that the consumer in Costa Rica is used to a limited offering of insurance that includes basically life, hospitalization and fire. He did not mention if the bank subsidiary would handle vehicle insurance.

As more companies enter the market with their unique insurance products, Costa Ricans are facing the prospect of becoming for the first time comparison insurance shoppers.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 81


Latest hurricane forecasts reassuring for Costa Rica

By the Colorado State University news service
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Colorado hurricane forecasters say that the chance of a major storm passing through the Caribbean this year is greater than average. The team predicted a 58 percent chance of a major hurricane tracking into the Caribbean compared to the long-term average of 42 percent.

The team's latest statistics for Costa Rica are reassuring. There is but a 5 percent chance of a named storm tracking within 50 miles and a 2 percent probability of a hurricane tracking within 50 miles. There is less than a 1 percent chance that a major hurricane will pass within 50 miles of the country. The team said that there is a 13 percent chance that one or more named storms would pass within 100 miles of Costa Rica and a 6 percent chance that a hurricane would pass within 100 miles.

Predictions for Nicaragua are more threatening. The country stands a 17 percent chance of a hurricane coming within 50 miles.

Hurricanes never hit Costa Rica, but the backlash from a storm passing nearby can cause great damage.

The Colorado State University forecast team predicts an above-average 2010 Atlantic basin hurricane season based on the premise that El Niño conditions will dissipate by mid-year and that warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures will persist.

The team predicted 15 named storms to form in the Atlantic basin between June 1 and Nov. 30 with eight expected to be hurricanes and four developing into major hurricanes with sustained winds of 111 mph or greater.

Long-term averages are 9.6 named storms, 5.9 hurricanes and 2.3 major hurricanes per year.

“We expect current moderate El Niño conditions to transition to neutral conditions by this year’s hurricane season,” said Phil Klotzbach, lead forecaster on the university's Hurricane Forecast Team. “The dissipating El Niño, along with the expected anomalously warm Atlantic ocean sea surface temperatures, will lead to favorable dynamic and thermodynamic conditions for hurricane formation and intensification.”
The 2010 forecast marks 27 years of hurricane forecasting at Colorado State, led by William Gray. The hurricane forecast team makes its predictions based on 58 years of historical data.

“Based on our latest forecast, the probability of a major hurricane making landfall along the U.S. coastline is 69 percent compared with the last-century average of 52 percent,” Gray said. “While patterns may change before the start of hurricane season, we believe current conditions warrant concern for an above-average season.”

Precursor factors to this year have a number of similarities to early April conditions that preceded the hurricane years of 1958, 1966, 1969, 1998 and 2005.

All five of these seasons had above-average activity, especially the seasons of 1969, 1998 and 2005. Klotzbach and Gray predict the 2010 season will have slightly less activity than the average of these five earlier years.

The team predicts tropical cyclone activity in 2010 will be 160 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2009 witnessed tropical cyclone activity that was about 70 percent of the average season.

The team began using a new early April statistical model in 2008.

“We have found that using two late-winter predictors and our early December hindcast, we can obtain early April predictions that show considerable hindcast skill over the period from 1950-2007,” said Klotzbach. “This new forecast model also provided a very accurate prediction over the past few seasons.”

The team's Web site, available to the public at http://www.e-transit.org/hurricane, is the first publicly accessible Internet tool that adjusts landfall probabilities for regions and counties based on the current climate and its projected effects on the upcoming hurricane season.

Probabilities are also available for all islands in the Caribbean and countries in Central America. Klotzbach and Gray update the site regularly with assistance from the GeoGraphics Laboratory at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, the university said.



Central Valley gets its first serious taste of the rainy season

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's weather service was right on the money Monday in predicting Central Valley downpours. San José got its first taste of the coming rainy season when two waves of storms swept over the city, a light one in the early afternoon and a serious downpour in the early evening.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional says that pretty much the same is in store for the Central Valley today, based on an approaching low pressure area. Also likely to see rain is the Pacific coast. The northern zone and the Caribbean will see isolated showers, the forecast said.
In San José the skies dumped 45 millimeters between 5 and 7:30 p.m. That's about 1.8 inches.

Parts of Guanacaste appear to have been pounded overnight. Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia logged 37.3  millimeters of rain before 7 a.m. Monday. That's about 1.5 inches.

Manzanillo, Limón, got 20.2 millimeters (about eight tenths of an inch) overnight but nothing since 7 a.m., according to the automatic weather station there. Rainfall was minor in much of the country. The weather institute, however, continues to issue warnings.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 81

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Medical tourism firms
seek fair share of income


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 450 firms in the health industry are meeting at the  Hotel Ramada Herradura in Belén as part of the first Latin American congress of medicine and well being.

The event is being sponsored, in part, by the Cámara de Exportadores de Costa Rica, which said it sees the country positioning itself as one of the leaders in the $40 billion medical tourism industry.
 
Some 1.6 million U.S. citizens are expected to travel overseas this year for medical care, but only about 8,000 are expected to come to Costa Rica, said Allan Flores, minister of Turismo. In 2009 as many as 30,000 persons traveled here for medical care, he added. Each medical visitor is worth about $4,000 to the country, officials estimate. The decline is blamed on the North American economy.

Disturbance figure removed
from job for three months


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Penal of the Segundo Circuito Judicial in San José has reversed a ruling by a judge and imposed pre-trial restrictions on a Universidad de Costa Rica traffic policeman who faces a corruption charge.

The decision came Friday. The man, identified by the last names of Gómez Garita fled into the San Pedro university campus when agents tried to arrest him. The pursuit sparked a near riot on campus April 12 because students, teachers and staffers believe the educational institution is autonomous.

When the policeman came before a judge early April 13, the result was that the man left the court with no restrictions. The Tribunal Penal, however, ordered the man to be suspended from his job for three months and ordered him to stay away from witnesses and victims.

One problem prosecutors have is that they cannot produce the marked bills that the bus driver was said to have given the traffic officer. The officer flagged down the bus driver in the morning of April 12 and took his license, according to agents. The bribe was supposed to be for getting the license returned, but the bus driver went to investigators instead who set up an ambush.

During his flight, the traffic officer hid in a campus building.

Trafficking suspect freed
with no restrictions ordered


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A judge has freed without restrictions a man who was transporting 28 kilos of suspected cocaine and heroin in his pickup truck.

The man was identified by the last names of Gómez Chavarría. The Policía de Control de Drogas stopped him in Ciudad Neily near the Panamá border Friday.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said that police activity in the area has intensified in response to an increase in violence blamed on drug traffickers.

Ministry officials said they were surprised that a judge did not jail the man who lives on the border with Panamá to keep him from fleeing. The judge said that the man was local and would not flee.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 27, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 81


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Honduran murders prompt
e-mail campaign to Lobo

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Hundreds of thousands of newspaper readers throughout the Americas have been invited by the Inter American Press Association to sign a letter addressed to the president of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, asking him to set up legal mechanisms enabling violence unleashed against journalists and the impunity surrounding such offenses to be confronted and ended.

Since the beginning of last month to date six journalists have been murdered in various parts of the Central American country, setting off a wave of violence: José Hernández Ochoa (killed on March 1), David Meza (March 11), Nahúm Palacios (March 14), José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez (March 26), and Georgino Orellano (April 20), without any positive result in the police investigations being known.

Luis Antonio Chavez, who appeared in a children's television show, died April 13 but it is not clear if he was targeted because of his occupation.

The international community can sign a letter published by the Inter American Press Association in which the Honduran government is called on to put an end to the reigning climate of terror and to identify and apply the full weight of the law to the guilty. The letter says:

Dear Mr. President,

The international community is disturbed at the wave of violence unleashed against journalists in Honduras without there being to date any investigation to identify those responsible, punish them and thus prevent these offenses from going unpunished."

“We take the liberty of calling your attention to these cases, urging you please to instruct your country’s relevant authorities not to cease their respective investigations and not to allow these murders to go unpunished,” the letter adds.

Readers wishing to join the campaign by adding their signature to the letter may do so on the Web site www.impunidad.com. The letter and spaces for name and e-mail address can be found on the right of the page in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The Inter American Press Association is waging a hemisphere-wide campaign titled “Let’s Put an End to Impunity” so that more than 380 crimes committed against journalists – and the disappearances of a dozen others – in the last 22 years may not remain unpunished. The initiative is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.


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