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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, May 5, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 88             E-mail us
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La Maria is the missing boat.  Information can be called in to 2758-6012.
La maría missing boat

Private businesses reel under attacks by crooks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There are no accurate ways to estimate the cost of crime to Costa Rican society.  When a crook rips up a few dollars worth of copper wire and darkens an entire neighborhood, the true cost is much greater than the repair bill.

And how does one estimate the value of a mother or a brother or a son cut down by robbers seeking a $30 cell telephone or a bike or a pair of sneakers?

Any serious survey would also have to consider the investments in burglar alarms, guards and those ubiquitous portones and rejas that make a home a cage.

Any serious survey would have to ask James Bishop about the 30-foot boat crooks towed away from a dock in Limón harbor early Wednesday.

Bishop, who maintains the Limón office of Industrial Maintenance Divers, said his company's open boat, the La María, is worth about $30,000, in part because of the two 150-horsepower outboard engines that were attached.

Bishop said that between 3 and 6 a.m. thieves came
alongside, cut the ropes and paddled off with the Fiberglas vessel. He has posted a reward and suspects the boat will get a dark paint job and be used to haul drugs. He said there was little cooperation from the local police of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacosta. The company pays to keep the boat in the harbor supposedly for security.

Any serious survey would have to ask two young Desamparados merchants the value of their investment that was the target of armed robbers last week. The incident could have been much worse.

The young couple had just opened their store to sell clothing and fashion items that they had imported from Panamá. Within a week, burglars cut the locks and gained access. The burglars were less successful the second time because the roof had been reinforced and more bars were put up.

But there was no defense from the men and women who came with guns and held a pistol against the head of a family member's infant and then dumped the child on the sidewalk as they left.

No one was injured physically, but women in Desamparados will have to go elsewhere to get clothing from now on.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 88

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Isla del Cocos trip inspired
ocean-themed gallery show

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Artist in residence Carlos Hiller has returned from volunteering for one month in Cocos Island where he painted murals and organized the first art exhibition on the island.

So the Hidden Garden Art Gallery is presenting his latest works inspired by this trip in an exhibition that opens Saturday though May 20. The opening will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The show consists of 10 paintings.  The gallery is five kilometers (about three miles) west of the International Airport in Liberia.

During the month-long visit by Hiller at Parque Nacional Isla del Cocos Island, he created several murals, transformed existing buildings, embellishing and integrating them within the environment. The predominant theme is the ocean.

Among the month's working time donated by the artist, Fundación Amigos of la Isla del Coco collaborated with painting materials as well as Area Marina de Conservación Isla del Coco, which provided the coordination, transportation and lodging.

In addition, Hiller held the very first art exhibition ever on the island: an underwater themed exhibition inspired by Costa Rica's Pacific Ocean.

President finally speaks
at legislature today


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla will have a second chance to delivery her state of the state address today at 4 p.m.

The president's major address highlighting her first year in office became a casualty of the political infighting at the Asamblea Legislativa Sunday when opposition parties sought to take over the leadership.

The leadership issue was resolved Monday, and the new assembly president, Juan Carlos Mendoza of the Partido Acción Ciudadana, invited Ms. Chinchilla to speak. The May 1 speech of the president is a major event. The legislative chamber is filled with diplomats and special guests.

Today the mystery is not as great because Casa Presidencial already released the text that Ms. Chinchilla was to deliver Sunday.  A.M. Costa Rica wrote a story outlining parts of the talk, and La Nación put the entire text on its Web site.

14 year old suspect faces
murder trial over bike


 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A private juvenile trial continues today in the case of a 14 year old who is one of two suspects in the murder of a teenager over his bike. The dead victim is Rafael Solano Campos, who was stabbed multiple times on a pedestrian bridge in San Sebastián April 6, 2008.

One youngster, a 15 year old, already has been convicted in the case and sentenced to 15 years of confinement, said the Poder Judicial. The case is in the Juzgado Penal Juvenil de San José. The juvenile hearing has been going on since March 16.

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 88
Latigo K-9

Pacific coast drownings have a familiar and tragic echo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The news of deaths on the central Pacific coast was familiar. Shortly before noon rip tides swept away students who were in Costa Rica for a short visit.

Wednesday two students were rescued, one body was recovered, and the Cruz Roja still seeks two persons. The scene was Playa Bejuco south of Parrita. The Judicial Investigating Organization identified the group of 12 tourists as missionaries from an Ohio high school.

The tragedy served as a reminder of the when three Kansas high school students and their teacher died not far away at Palo Seco in June 2006. Then, too, the student victims were 17. The teacher was 26. All came from La Bette County High School in Altamont, southeastern Kansas.

The Columbus, Ohio, dispatch, said the students who died Wednesday were from Patriot Preparatory Academy in that Ohio city. The group was scheduled to leave Costa Rica today after spending time in Pérez Zeledón, said investigators. The Dirección Nacional de Socorros y Operaciones of the Cruz Roja will resume the search early today. A plane was used Wednesday without success.

The Cruz Roja reported Easter that 11 persons had died in water accidents over Semana Santa. And the search has been called off for a surfer who vanished at Playa Guiones at Nosara on the far Pacific coast.

The U.S. State Department says "On both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts currents are swift and dangerous, and there are few lifeguards or signs warning of dangerous beaches. Every year a number of U.S. citizens drown in Costa Rica due to rip tides or sudden drop-offs while in shallow water. Extreme caution is advised."

The State Department also provided data on the number of drowning deaths of U.S. citizens here. The department Web site lists 59 drowning deaths in Costa Rica from January 2003 to last December. Not all happened in the ocean.

That data does not include Canadians and those of other nationalities who might have died in the surf. A Canadian woman, Penny Obee, died March 14 at a Nicoya Peninsula beach also called Playa Bejuco. The Minden Times in Canada identified her as a local educator.

Another student who lost his life was Erik L. Downes of
Playa Bejuco
Location of the latest drowning death


Cape Coral, Florida, a junior pre-med student at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. He died Jan. 4 at a beach south of Dominical on the central Pacific coast.

A drowning death in Jacó at the end of February of Leonardo Godínez Duarte from Tibás prompted the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas to issue a warning for bathers. The agency said that swimmers caught in a rip tide should not try to swim against the current but should try to move parallel to the beach and try to get out of the strong flow that way.

The majority of such deaths are of Costa Ricans or other residents here.

In Tamarindo an Illinois tourist died just minutes after being briefed on what to do if caught in a rip tide. The man was 42-year-old Matt McParland, a chiropractor. That was in January 2008. The man was instructed to avoid fighting the tide and to swim parallel to shore, but he appears to have panicked when caught by a tide just a few minutes later. His death caused Tamarindo to reinstate a lifeguard program.

Other deaths took place when the swimmer was alone. That appears to be what happened to Dennis Tooru Saski, a 61-year-old tourist from the State of Hawaii who drowned in February 2006 while swimming at Playa Esterillos on the central Pacific coast. A search crew managed to recover the body.


Termite ball unexpectedly put off to June by Alliance
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Alliance Française has changed the date and location of its grand ball that was supposed to be held tonight.

This is the Baile del Comején or termite ball that was designed as a fundraiser for repairs to the organization's main facility on Avenida 7 in San Jose's Barrio Amón.

The cultural organization is trying to raise about $40,000. and the ball tonight was supposed to be held at the Antigua Aduana, the sprawling public building in east San José.  Instead, the event will be June 2 at the Pepper Disco Club in Zapote, the organization said.
The organization said that the change had to do with unspecified regulations by the Minsiterio de Salud.

The former aduana building is under the jurisdiction of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. 

The organization said it expected 1,000 couples.

Tickets already sold will be honored June 2, the organization said.

The 115-year-old building is a national heritage site but was a good location for termites because the structure is nearly all wood.


Employers restricted from recording calls of employees
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala II has awarded severance pay to a seven-year employee of a call center because the employer did not have the right to record the woman's telephone calls, according to a decision released Tuesday.

The court said that companies have to specify that supervisors will record the calls in a labor contract and the recording of calls has to have a legitimate purpose.
The principal evidence against the woman was the contents of the recorded calls, although the summary of the decision did not specify what the recordings contained.

The woman lost at the trial level and on an intermediate appeal but prevailed in the high labor court. The employee has the right to a private space in which he or she can exercise rights of freedom of thought and expression, the court said. The principals in the court case were not identified in the summary released by the Poder Judicial.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 88


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Costa Rica posts a 7 percent gain in foreign investments

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica received $1.4 billion in foreign direct investment in 2010, but that was just 7 percent higher than the previous year and lower than the $2 billion that came into the country in 2008.

This is the report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, which also said that all Central American countries posted gains over 2009 except El Salvador where foreign investment plummeted from $784 million in 2009 to $431 million in 2010.

Panamá with a $2.4 billion investment shows a 33 percent gain in 2010 over 2009, and Honduras received a 52 percent boost from $523 million to $798 million, in part because of a government seen as more welcoming to capitalism.

According to the report Foreign Direct Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean 2010, the region's main recipient was Brazil, where investment inflows posted a record surge of 87 percent, going from $26 billion in 2009 to $48.5 billion in 2010.

The second main recipient was Mexico ($17.7 billion), followed by Chile ($15.1 billion), Peru ($7.3 billion), Colombia ($6.8 billion) and Argentina ($6.2 billion).

For 2011, direct investment flows to Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to maintain this trend and
increase by between 15 percent and 25 percent, which could take them to unprecedented high levels, according to the projections of the report launched by the executive secretary of the economic commission, Alicia Bárcena, and the Mexican Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Ernesto Cordero.

The factors that resulted in the increased investment receipts in 2010 include the improved performance of developed economies and the buoyancy of certain emerging economies that boosted some sectors thanks to increased demand, said the report.

United States remains the main investor in the region and was responsible for 17 percent of the investments received in 2010, followed by the Netherlands (13 percent), China (9 percent) and Canada and Spain (both 4 percent).

The 13th version of this commission report highlights the emergence of the Asian giant China. In 2010, Chinese companies invested almost $15 billion in Latin American and Caribbean countries, fundamentally in the form of mergers and acquisitions.

Over 90 percent of confirmed Chinese investment in Latin America has targeted the extraction of natural resources. 
In the medium term, this country's transnational enterprises are expected to continue to be active in the region and diversify into infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, the report said.



Tuba will take lead role
when orchestra meets


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


The tuba will have the leading role when the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional presents its third concert of the season Friday night and Sunday morning.

Francisco Yáñez, a Spanish tuba expert, will demonstrate the abilities of that instrument in a staring role. The visit comes with the help of the Embassy of Spain.

The invited conductor is Daniel Nazareth, who plans to present the work of Czech composer Bedřich Smetana, best known for his opera "The Bartered Bride." The piece to be presented in the double weekend concert is "The Moldova," a tribute to the longest river in what is now the Czech Republic. Also planned in John William's 1985 "Concert for Tuba and Orchestra" and Antonín Dvořák's ""Symphony No. 8."

Both performances are in Teatro Nacional. Admission ranges from 3,000 colons, about $6, to 15,000 colons, about $30.

Tuba player
Francisco Yáñez



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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 88

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Argentina ranked higher
than U.S. in integrity report


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new report says Argentina made the biggest overall improvements last year in fighting corruption.

The 2010 Global Integrity Report was released Wednesday by the international nonprofit organization, Global Integrity.

The report says Argentina made gains in all integrity indicator categories and in most sub-categories.  Improvements were noted in the media's ability to report on corruption, election integrity, and transparency in political financing and the budget process.  The South American nation ranks second, behind South Korea and ahead of the United States, in overall anti-corruption score between 2006 and 2010.

Peru also made notable gains.  The South American nation has implemented a legal framework for accessing government information, as well as improved the media's ability to report on corruption.  Other advancements include better ways of reporting internal government corruption and a more effective general accountability office.

Nicaragua remains on the watch list, indicating that the country scores very weak on measures such as government safeguards against conflicts of interest.  It also lacks an adequate system of checks and balances, oversight of state-owned enterprises, and transparency in political financing.  It has been on the watch list since 2008.

The 2010 report gathers data from local researchers, journalists and academics on 36 countries across the world.  Other Latin American countries in the report include Guatemala, Bolivia and Ecuador.


At least five miners died
in explosion in México


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Authorities in Mexico say five miners are dead following Tuesday's explosion at a coal mine in the northern part of the country and that there is little hope of finding nine others alive.

The assessment came Wednesday, hours after the bodies were pulled from the pit in the state of Coahuila. Authorities say a methane gas buildup caused the explosion, which was powerful enough to severely injure a teenage boy working outside the facility. 

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has ordered the attorney general's office to open an investigation into the blast. The mine had been in operation since last month.

In 2006, an explosion at another mine in the state left 65 miners dead. The bodies of most of the victims in that accident were never recovered.

Noted composer creates
piece focused on Sept. 11


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Over the past five decades, Steve Reich created and honed a recognizable style that has made him one of today’s top American composers. In the process he has helped propel so-called minimalist music into the mainstream. Reich turns 75 in October and recently composed a work that commemorates the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"WTC 9/11," named for The World Trade Center and Sept. 11, debuted just weeks before Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces near Islamabad. Scored for double string quartet and tape, it was performed last week by the Kronos Quartet at New York's Carnegie Hall.

Reich lived a few blocks away from Ground Zero but was hours away from home on Sept. 11, 2001.

Kronos Quartet had asked Reich to write a piece using recorded voices.  At first, Reich was not focused on September 11.

"Finally, after several months, I realized, 'Hey, 9/11, that’s what I need to be doing, and I will simply use the public domain materials from NORAD, the North American air controllers who were the first to notice that [flight] American one was off course and was going south when it should be going west to L.A."

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 88

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U.N. attributes outbreak
of cholera to circumstances


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An independent panel set up by the United Nations to investigate the source of the cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 4,500 lives in Haiti since it emerged last October has found that a confluence of circumstances, and not the fault of any group or individual, was responsible for the fast-moving outbreak.

The report of the four-member panel of experts, released Wednesday, includes a series of recommendations for the U.N. and the Haitian government so they can help prevent the future introduction and spread of cholera within the impoverished Caribbean country.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced that he plans to convene a task force to study the report’s findings to ensure prompt and appropriate follow-up.

Nearly 300,000 Haitians have been sickened since the outbreak started and fresh infections and deaths continue to occur.

The experts’ report states that the evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that the source was human activity contaminating a tributary of the Artibonite River with a pathogenic strain of cholera.

Scientific analysis indicate that the bacteria did not originate from the native environment of Haiti, but from a strain very similar but not identical to South Asian strains currently circulating within Asia.

The outbreak was able to spread so quickly and widely through the Artibonite River delta and eventually all of Haiti because of a series of factors, including:

• Tens of thousands of Haitians use the river system for washing, bathing, drinking and recreation;

• Thousands of agriculture workers are regularly exposed to the river waters, especially those working in rice paddy fields;

• The local population lacked immunity to cholera;

• The country suffers from poor water and sanitation conditions;

• Infected individuals fled to their home communities after the initial outbreak, thus dispersing the outbreak.

Ban set up the panel in early January amid reports that Nepalese peacekeepers serving with the U.N. force in Haiti may have been the source.

The panel members note that the outbreak highlights the risk of cholera being transmitted in the wake of a major emergency, such as occurred last year in Haiti when a catastrophic earthquake killed more than 200,000 people.






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