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(506) 2223-1327               Published Wednesday, May 5, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 87        E-mail us
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Cell phone update could unleash wave of pollution
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The eventual demise of the Instituto Costarricence de Electricidad’s TDMA cell phone system will result in a flush of dangerous batteries into the solid waste stream if users fail to dispose of their phones correctly.

The company known as ICE has collection boxes in its offices, but with more than 200,000 lines still in use, these will be quickly overwhelmed if customers choose to use them. Considering that the TDMA system once had over 400,000 customers, the process should be underway but visible results are not evident.

Rechargeable NiCad batteries contain cadmium which is a highly toxic and carcinogenic metal. Rechargeable batteries generally also are a hazard if burned because they explode.

Juana Coto of the Universidad Nacional’s water quality program expressed concern about batteries that end up in the uncontrolled dumps typical of municipalities outside the Central Valley. As

Not a good idea
Not a good idea
 batteries oxidize in the wet conditions typical of Costa Rica’s garbage dumps, the cadmium will seep into the aquifer below, contaminating drinking water supplies.

Ms. Coto suggests that ICE and other phone retailers be obliged to collect a phone for each new one they sell. Perhaps users won’t drop the defunct phone into the waste stream immediately, but she said that “eventually they’ll clean out the drawer” where the old phone ended up and it will be be thrown out.

Cadmium is the greatest cause for concern, said Ms. Coto, but she also suggested not much is known about other sorts of rechargeable batteries like lithium and NiMH.

Cell phones can be recycled to get the valuable metals they contain, This is not particularly economical, and recyclers sometimes charge a fee to receive them.

In addition, transport is about $5,000 for a 40-foot container to the southeastern United States, according to Ileana Robles at Crowley Maritime Corp., a major transport company. This would be a large number of batteries. Usually the customer pays, but transport costs would influence what firms are willing to offer for the batteries.

Currently NiCad batteries are worth 40 to 50 U.S. cents per pound, or about $1 per kilo, in the U.S. That would be removed from the phones, which then become e-waste with other heavy metals to worry about. The rest of the phone is worth much less.

When the older cell phone service will actually be shut off is still unclear. Anecdotal reports suggest coverage and signals are worsening, with the company saying in a news release that “unanticipated malfunctions” due to equipment adjustments have caused problems. The need to free up spectrum for a much-delayed auction to allow other operators access has created technical problems, says ICE.

Nonetheless ICE plans to keep the system functioning until the end of the year.

In March the government ombudsman, the Defensoría de los Habitantes, accused ICE of refusing to reconnect TDMA customers who had lost or had stolen their phones, or been disconnected for non-payment. The agency suggested that ICE has no legal grounds to unilaterally change a contract’s standing. If they say one customer can’t be cancelled, the same might apply to 200,000. This makes it highly likely someone will appeal the service’s cancellation. If this does happen, ICE will have little choice but to let quality deteriorate and attrition take its toll on ancient phones.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 87

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

Quintas del Toro
Spotsmens
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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

MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica

20 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce

samargo@racsa.co.cr
info@realtorcostarica.com
www.realtorcostarica.com
(506)  2220-3729 &  (506)
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(506)  2232-5016 (phone/fax)
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506 2777-1197

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Collection services

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Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
Relocation services, Wedding Planning
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Phone/Fax: 2290-8117, 8841-0007
New location on Rohrmoser Blvd.
 Phone: (506) 2232-1014


Burke Fiduciary, S.A.
Registered Escrow and Legal Services
Glenda Burke
Glenda Burke, LL.M
Thomas Burke
Thomas Burke, LL.M

Core services: real estate due diligence, real estate escrow services, residency status, business corporations, estate planning. English, Spanish, German and French spoken.

More about us at www.burkecr.com
Ph. 011 506 2267-6645
info@burkecr.com 

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
business carried out by this company, nor its security, stability or solvency.
Persons contracting its services do so for their own account and at their own risk.
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CONSULTORIA JURIDICA EMPRESARIAL CA, S.A
Attorneys & Notaries
 Tel.  2280-9692 / 2225-9322
Skype: CONJURIDICA
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Web:  www.conjuridica.com
       We offer the highest professional standards with very competitive rates. All our official documentation and Notary deeds are always translated in English for better comprehension, client satisfaction and safety.
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Our Law Office is conveniently located near Mall San Pedro,  350 meters south from the Subaru dealer, Los Yoses, San José.
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Appraisers

BEFORE YOU BUY and OVERPAY
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ask Angela Jiménez
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Residency experts

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A full service immigration agency
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Tel: (323) 255-6116
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Accountants

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

• US Tax return preparation  for
individuals and businesses
• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
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• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting


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Web page with vital U.S. tax info HERE!
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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.
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• No more background noise, feedback or echoing
• American hearing consultant from D.C. & Atlanta
• Nine clinics including Hospital CIMA
• Authorized provider  to the U.S. veterans
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We service the U.S. veterans/Foreign Medical Program. Please contact me, Allan, at allan9000@gmail.com or at 8891-8989.
5950-4/15/10

Fortia project
Rendering of proposed project

Swiss firm offers project
for tower on Paseo Colón


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Swiss real estate firm said Tuesday that developers have obtained approval for a 25-story tower on Paseo Colón just a few hundred feet west of the Hospital Nacional de Niños.

This is the same firm, Fortia Investments, that is marketing a proposed 561-foot hotel-condo tower in Sabana Sur.

Despite the approval, the firm is promoting plans for an 18-story building on the site at Calle 22, which now contains a converted residential home used at times as a language school. The firm seeks investors and developers.

"The project stands out through its contemporary architecture offering generous volumes, maximum light and great living areas," said Fortia. "The outdoor includes lovely gardens, as well as three levels underground parking."

Fortia also is representing the Spanish firm of Javier Aguado y Asociados that has proposed Condal 42 Sabana Park, a 42-story condo project with an included 16-story hotel and an eight-story office center. The project,would be the country's tallest structure, if built.

Rooming house damaged
by fire caused by short


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire believed caused by a short circuit swept through a two-story rooming house Tuesday morning in the Barrio La Carit in central San José. No one was injured, but 28 adults and a child lost their homes.

The structure contained 21 separate living units. All were connected to the same electrical meter, firemen said. The electric system in the living units all were fed by a line that would be appropriate for a single-family home, said firemen.

Firemen were able to confine the damage to the single structure of some 1,090 square meters, nearly 12,000 square feet. About a third of that, an estimated 350 square meters (about 3,800 square feet), was leveled. Firemen used a snorkel to contain the blaze. The location is not far from the La Carit maternity hospital.

Some of the older homes in the center of the city have been converted to a rooming house, called cuartería in Spanish. They are low-cost housing and host immigrants from other sections of the country or the elderly. One problem with the structure that was involved in the fire was that it was extended to provide more living quarters without upgrading the electrical system, said firemen.

Guanacaste triathlon planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. firm that specialized in triathlons announced that it will be conducting such a race in Guanacaste next February. The dates are Feb. 19 and 20. The firm, Revolution 3, did not give an exact location but it appears the race will be in and around Playas del Coco.

A triathlon involves swimming, bike riding and running. Participants in a full triathlon swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a full marathon of 26.2 miles. The Guanacaste feature race is believed to be half those distances. A race for youngsters takes place the day before, Feb. 19. A Web site has been set up to provide updates.

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A.M. Costa Rica 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 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.

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.

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.

For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
News of Central America
News of Cuba
News of Venezuela
News of Colombia
News of El Salvador

News of Honduras
News of the Dominican Republic
News of Panamá
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 87


volcanos
Red Sismológiga Nacional/R. Mora
The Turrialba volcano as seen from Concepción de San Isidro de Heredia. This was April 18 when a gas plume
soared more than a kilometer into the sky. Clouds over Irazú on the right caused false reports of gas escaping.

Scientists have to keep track of four active volcanos
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even on the 100th anniversary of the 1910 Cartago earthquake, the major concern in the country is its volcanoes.

Póas, Irazú and Turrialba continue to be active. The activity at Arenal has increased somewhat. The volcanoes are putting on almost daily shows as they exhaust columns of hot gases and sometimes ash.

Irazú and Turrialba are twins east of San José. Irazú last had a major eruption in 1963 when much of the Central Valley was bathed in ash.

Turrialba recently awakened and sent an ash cloud as far west as San Pedro. The Red Sismológia Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica reports this volcano likely to erupt within days, weeks or months. The earthquake monitors have a five-point color scale that runs from No. 1, volcano activity stable and normal, to No. 4, eruption imminent.

Both Poás and Arenal are listed in the No. 2 green position, but Turrialba is in the No. 3 yellow position. No volcano is now listed in the No. 4 orange category.

The lake in the crater of Volcán Irazú dried up completely
in April after five years of declining in size. Scientists blame this on El Niño weather conditions instead of activities inside the mountain.

The lake in the crater of Volcán Poás has reached 50 degrees C. (122 F.), and the volcano experts believe the higher temperature is to blame for the decrease in the water level there. The volcano has been sending out bursts of hot gas, and one plume went a kilometer into the sky.

Not to be upset by the massive geological activity taking place nearby, residents of Santa Cruz de Turrialba are planning a gastronomic event featuring local foods May 15 and 16. The event is being put in by the Comité de Rescate de Tradiciones Santacruceñas in conjunction with Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

The Fiesta Gastronómica Volcán Turrialba begins with a dance the evening of May 15, a Saturday, in the parking lot of the local Catholic church, the Templo Inmaculado Corazón de María.

A Mass at the church starts the Sunday, May 16, events that include mariachi and folk music. And that is when the food will be served.

The Mass is in honor of San Isidro El Labrador, the patron of farmers.


Another arrest made in 2009 killing of Parrita club owner
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers have captured a suspect in the murder of a U.S. businessman in Parrita Feb. 17, 2009.

Officers said they were doing a routine patrol in Hatillo Cinco on San José's south side Tuesday when they noticed that the 20-year-old man appeared nervous by the police presence.

Fuerza Pública officers said they checked with a data base maintained by the Judicial Investigating Organization to find out that an arrest warrant had been issued for investigation of murder. The man was identified by his last names of Carcache Castillo.

The businessman was James S. Norris. He was gunned  down outside his dance club, the Bougainvillea.
Norris was hit with seven bullets, investigators said, suggesting that the motive of the crime was to kill him.
There was no robbery, and the assailant fled after Norris fell to the ground. Investigators said that perhaps as many as 13 shots were fired from a 9-mm. handgun.

The dance club or disco was on the main highway between Jacó and Quepos.

Judicial police made eight raids last Feb. 16 and detained five persons, including a man in Hatillo.

They said at the time that two other suspects were already in prison on unrelated charges. There was no mention of a fugitive.

One of those detained was the girlfriend of the businessman. Agents said at the time the motive for the killing was greed.



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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 87



Our readers reply with opinions on Gringos and living here

Some Gringos make it hard
for others who live here


Dear A.M. Costa Rica: 

I also must take exception, based upon personal experience, to Steve Meno's take on so-called discrimination against us expats.

From the very beginning of my six years here, I have received nothing but total respect from the many Ticos I have been with, done business with, socialized with, etc. My Tico attorney, for example, is not only the best attorney I've ever had but a close friend also. He is not only extremely competent, but has given freely of his time and effort assisting Gail Nystrom (Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation) and me in our projects, building day-care centers/schools, medical clinics, etc., for the underprivileged of Costa Rica.

The Escazú police and I are like family and visit me often. I, in turn, have helped with the repair of their cars and motos. I try to always do business exclusively with Ticos and Nicas. Why? Because I trust them and because, with few exceptions, ˆ have found many Gringos doing business here to be of the lowest moral character. I can't say that I totally blame those Ticos who don't like Gringos when greedy Gringo developers ruin their land and environment and dishonest hustler/Gringos (I include some Europeans and Canadians in this) lie and cheat. To these people, who make it hard for honest Gringos, I quote my Tico gym friend Charlie (Carlos), "Gringo, go home!".
 
People tend to forget that in order to get respect, one must give respect. It's their country, not ours. Every Gringo fortunate  to be living in this fine country should ask him or herself "What am I giving to help make this an even better country?"

Fortunately, many fine Gringos I have met here agree with me. I am proud to be associated with those who support the arts, health care, and education, people like those folks I know from the Women's Club, Teatro Nacional, the Little Theatre Group, and, of course, my good friend Gail Nystrom. Sadly,these fine people contribute far more than those rich Ticos, who, for some reason, continue to have a feudal system mentality.                                                      
Barry Schwartz
Escazú



Misery you have here
you brought with you

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
We, as expats in Costa Rica, applaud the letter from Pam Cohen of Grecia!
 
We have lived in Minnesota, California, and Houston, Texas, and in terms of living with people anywhere in the U.S., we would never even remotely consider returning there.
 
We've lived here for over six years in an Acosta Barrio, and, as Ms. Cohen has stated, we have found family here.  We are the only English-speaking here, but have learned Spanish and can communicate well with our neighbors.  Do not expect Ticos to learn English to communicate with you!  This is their country, and unless you make the effort, they probably couldn't care less if you spoke to them or not!
 
I'm not sure where all the negativism comes from either Steve in Coronado de Osa or Sr. Coleto (in Houston), but would urge each of them to take one day out of their apparently miserable lives here, and spend it actually trying to "blend in" by being a good neighbor to real Ticos!! 

If, on the other hand, you choose not to do that type of socializing, then there is little else you can do but to leave Costa Rica, and return to the good old U.S. and resume your miserable lives there!!  The misery you have here, is, I'm sure, misery you brought with you!!  Just say good bye CR, hello wherever else, and know you're presence here will not be missed!
 
John and Val Rubida
Acosta

Letters always are welcome

Send them to

editor@amcostarica.com


Troubles with legal system
started with an eviction


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We had bought a piece of land in Costa Rica and in May of 2004 we moved from the U.S.A. to live in Costa Rica. We needed a caretaker for the land, so we hired a local. He and his wife then lived in a small house on our land.

We put him on Caja, insurance, paid above average, supported her to establish a business.

By the end of the year we realized that we needed to let him go, and that he and his wife needed to vacate the house and leave. Papers were prepared and his last salary calculated.

They refused to leave our property and started lawsuits: for not being paid for all the time and physical violence against her.

We needed to have them evicted! So we hired our first lawyer.

For the sake of peace, the police told us it would be better for us not to set foot on our own land. We hired another lawyer who was able to move the eviction.

Still the worker and his wife refused to leave. 10 policemen showed up on eviction day.

After that violence started against us: physical against my partner, one of our dogs got stolen, another got poisoned.

New lawsuits against us were presented. They claimed damage to their reputation for an amount of $100.000. Our third and fourth lawyers could convince the judge to close that case.

In the meantime I had to defend myself in court against her claim of physical violence: neither she nor her numerous witnesses showed up. Case closed. The labor court refused to take on his case because salary and Caja payments had been made.

Then the last lawsuit against us showed up: because of us they could not find any work in the area. They claimed to have lost more than $115.000. Their witnesses got heard, people who promised to defend us as witnesses (Ticos) did not want to be bothered on trial day. The judge decided for us. The case moved up to the appeals court. These judges decided for us. The case moved to the Supreme Court (!!!),   and they refused to take the case because of a lack of evidence…

My partner got cancer in the meantime. We could not achieve an import exemption from the Ministerio de Salud for his medicines shipped from the U.S. We tried numerous times over the year, we appealed, but no success.

Exactly three years after our arrival in Costa Rica, we left Costa Rica for good.

Lawyer bills: we never added them together but certainly more than $25.000. Cost for them: nothing. The lawyers take it on contingency base. They just look for new cases and victims.
M. Kautz
Germany
Just learn to live with it
when you have Gringo face

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am going to have to say that Pam is wrong here.  While I do recognize what Pam says as part of the problem, I do not feel that gives the Ticos the excuse to treat all Gringos the same. That in itself is racism!!

I have lived here for seven years. I am married to a Tica and have two Tico children.  I can make gallo pinto with the best of them, and I am fluent in Spanish.  I am also a naturalized Costarricense.  I am for all intents and purposes more Tico now than Gringo.  However, given my obvious Gringo face, I am constantly feeling the hateful/resentful eyes of Ticos and their very obvious yet incorrect opinion of me. 

Until I actually open my mouth and start talking to them do they realize that I am not a Gringo tipico, and they warm up and act friendly towards me.  Getting on a bus packed full of Ticos will get me a bus full of cold stares. Its honestly creepy sometimes.

So while I agree, that being humble is good and ALL people should be this way, a vast majority of Ticos themselves lack this important quality when they see my blonde hair and blue eyes and instantly resent me.

At the end of the day, there isn't much we can do sadly.  I accept this fact and have learned to live with it.

James Dyer
Moravi


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 87

Medical vacations in Costa Rica


Tourism growth awaited
by U.S. travel industry

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. government predicts the number of overseas visitors to the United States will rise this year following a steady decline for much of 2009. The increase in arrivals is expected to come largely from developing nations, as the global economic recovery in America's traditional Western markets remains sluggish.

Millions of foreign tourists flock to Florida every year. They come for the pristine beaches, year-round sunshine, and attractions like Walt Disney World in Orlando.

But although nearly 55 million people came to the United States last year, times were tough for the travel industry. The number of international arrivals declined steadily over the first three quarters of 2009.   For Florida, where tourism accounts for more than 20 percent of the economy, the drop off was serious.

Danielle Courtney from the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau says, while both foreign and domestic visitors to the city declined in 2009, the drop in international arrivals was felt more than numbers would indicate.  "We have about three million international visitors a year. The difference is they make up about 17 percent of our spending because they stay a little bit longer, they spend a little bit more," she said.

A rebound is expected in 2010, but the U.S. government predicts a shift in the makeup of foreign visitors, with arrivals from Asia and South America growing by double digits. Brazil, India and China are expected to lead the pack.

The number of visits from Western European countries is expected to remain stagnant.

Richard Foglesong, at Rollins College, studies tourism in Florida. He attributes the change to slower predicted growth in the West compared to emerging economies.

"It's part of the problem of the entertainment and tourist industry that you are so dependent upon a buoyant economy, because one of the first things that people cut is their discretionary leisure spending," Foglesong said.

Rudi Van Rooyen and Philippa Smit from South Africa decided to take a holiday this year in Florida. Van Rooyen says many South Africans still feel able to take foreign vacations because the economy is relatively stable. "With the American economy taking a dip, obviously the entire world suffers a little bit. But there was never any panic like there was here," he said.

But many Europeans at a tourist information center in Orlando say they are not surprised that fewer people from their countries are choosing to visit the U.S..

"We have been hit really hard by the recession, and I think that probably has got a lot to do with it," says British tourist Sue Paige.

Meanwhile, with global growth expected to top 4 percent in 2010 compared to a decline of .6 percent in 2009, industry leaders in the United States say they are optimistic that the total number of foreign visitors will start to grow.

Export chief resigns

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Emmanuel Hess has resigned as general manager of the Promotora del Comercio Exterior, a private group that works in conjunction with the commerce ministry to increase the nation's exports.

Hess has been on the job for more than two years. Hess will work until June, the organization said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 5, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 87


Latin American news
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Lists of certified exporters
omits shrimpers here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country has been left off the list of those certified by the U.S. Department of State for importing shrimp.

The State Department certified 39 entities April 30, it announced Tuesday. Costa Rica was not among them. Those listed meet certain criteria relating to the protection of sea turtles in the course of shrimp trawl fishing. Either the country mandates turtle excluder devices or the country's fishing boats go where there are no turtles.

Sea turtles become entangled in shrimp nets and drown. Certification is done every year after visits by U.S. inspectors.

Tropical countries that mandate excluded devices and were certified are Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, and Suriname.

Costa Rica has been on and off the list for years. The United States is a major market for Costa Rican shrimp.


More effort being sought
in deaths of journalists


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter American Press Association has submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights a formal charge in two cases of journalists murdered in Brazil in 1995 and 2001 that remain unpunished.

The press organization submitted the results of its investigations into the murders of Nivanildo Barbosa Lima and of Jorge Vieira da Costa in order to exhort the inter-American system to advise the Brazilian government to advance the legal process and put an end to the impunity surrounding crimes against journalists, it said.

Barbosa Lima, 27, a reporter with the Paulo Alfonso, Bahia, newspaper Ponto do Encontro, was killed July 22, 1995. The paper covered topics of popular interest and exposed local execution gangs that proliferated at the time. He had been followed and received phone threats before the assault that took his life.

The murder of Vieira da Costa of Radio Tropical in Teresina, Piaui, took place after he received threats. Da Costa was attacked March 23, 2001, and died of his wounds seven days later. Three people were convicted in 2005, but only one is in prison. The alleged masterminds have been successful at stalling legal proceedings and have not been brought to trial, the Inter American Press Association said.


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