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(506) 2223-1327       San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 7, 2009,  Vol. 9, No. 89     E-mail us
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Thousands expected to use new Heredia rail line
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Government officials are expecting about 94,000 persons a month to take a trip on the new San José-Heredia line. And they said there will be 42 trips a day on the 9.67-kilometer (6-mile) route.

Now that one of the last administrative steps has been taken, setting the fare, rail service is expected to begin during the last half of this month. Those who take the train will be able to avoid the continual traffic jam between La Uruca and Heredia Centro.

The one-way fare will be 350 colons, about 62 U.S. cents at the current rate of exchange. The Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos announced the fare Wednesday. The government rail company, Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles, got just five colons less than it had requested.

The train will make two stops along the route, including one at Cinco Esquinas in Tibás.

The Authoridad was the agency that computed the likely number of riders. That would be about half capacity for the new rail cars.

The rail agency bought cars from the Spanish-owned Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha. The price regulating authority said that the fare structure will be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper around May 14. That will be the last administrative step.
rail cars
Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha photo
Heredia-San José cars are newest in the country.

Transport officials originally planned to resume the service in December and then April. There were problems with the rail bed, and many of the wooden ties have been replaced with modern concrete ones.

The rail agency suffered some embarrassment when President Óscar Arias Sánchez took a rail trip to Heredia to celebrate that province's birthday. A car jumped the track during the trip.

The San José end sports a new terminal just north of Parque Nacional and just west of the former Estación al Atlántico on Avenida 1.

The government said it will seek a concessionaire to take over the line and convert it to electricity.

The track has several grade crossings, including two just west of Hospital Calderón Guardia. There are no signals or crossing gates, and the train blows its horn repeatedly as it approaches a crossing.

The 10-kilometer valley train from Pavas to San Pedro has been involved in accidents and there have been three deaths.


Eastbound Sabana motorists will get a little side trip
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motorists traveling east on the so-called old road to Escazú will be getting a little tour of Sabana Sur today and for an indefinite period.

The detour is because of work on the highway. Westbound traffic is not affected, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

Eastbound motorists will be asked to take the route that is used by the Sabana Estadio bus.

Motorists will have to turn right about 200 meters
east of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandería on Calle Lang to the Colegio La Salle where they will again head east on Avenida Campos, passing the  Iglesia del Perpetuo Socorro to the Boulevard de la Librería Universal where motorists will turn north (left). Eventually they will rejoin the old road, Ruta 167, at the railway grade crossing.

The ministry said that detour signs would be erected.

That means that access to the Costa Rica Tennis Club and some popular expat bars will be difficult for motorists going east.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 7, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 89

Costa Rica Expertise
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Puriscal Properties
sportsmens update
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Residency experts

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Physicians and surgeons

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Hearing consultant

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

We are affiliated with Widex hearing instruments because of their quality, natural sound and intelligibility over background noise. That means  no more echoing, feedback or interference.
We service the U.S. veterans/ Foreign Medical Program.
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James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
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Real estate agents and services

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Ph/Fax: 2221-9462, 8841-0007
Top police official in Tibás
arrested in stolen car


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police arrested the head of the Fuerza Pública in Tibás and another policeman while they were riding in a stolen car Wednesday night.

He was in a vehicle that was leaving a salvage yard that has been raided twice and stolen car parts were found both times.

The case is yet another blow to the reputation of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. A former pilot of the ministry died in a helicopter crash Friday, and some 393 kilos of cocaine were found in the wreckage.

Judicial police had been watching the shop and salvage yard in Tibás for several weeks, they said. The operator, identified by the last name of Lobo, is facing multiple charges of auto theft.

The vehicle had been reported stolen 10 days earlier in Moravia.

In all, four persons were detained: The operator of the shop, the police administrator, identified by the last name of Hernández, a second officer with the last name of Valerio and the brother of the police commander.

The shop and salvage yard is located on the Braulio Carrillo highway.

The policemen were in uniform when arrested.


Swine flu contactees held
in quarantine in valley


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The health ministry disclosed Wednesday that as many as 500 persons are in their homes under quarantine over the swine flu.

Those quarantined have been in contact with someone who is a probable victim of the flu.

Nearly all live in the Central Valley, principally San José and Heredia.

As of Wednesday there were eight persons suspected of having the disease, which is marked by a fever over 38 degrees C (about 100 F) and upper respiratory congestion.

Health officials asked that persons showing signs of the flu stay away from the neighborhood health clinics. Instead they should call and someone will come to their home.

Mexico's Health Secretary José Ángel Cordova announced a higher death toll Wednesday, as businesses began reopening after officials said the flu there appeared to be spreading more slowly. 

The new figure brings the number of confirmed swine flu deaths worldwide to 44. The two deaths outside of Mexico occurred in the U.S. State of Texas, which borders Mexico.

One of the victims was a 33-year-old American woman, who died Monday. Officials say she had chronic health problems. The other fatality in the U.S. was a Mexican toddler who died in a Texas hospital last week.

In testimony before a Congressional committee Wednesday, U.S. health officials said they are responding aggressively to the swine flu outbreak, and are in the early stages of developing a vaccine.

Globally, the World Health Organization says more than 1,500 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in 22 countries. Sweden confirmed its first case Wednesday.

Tuesday, Mexican President Felipe Calderón said the situation in Mexico has stabilized, but he encouraged people to keep taking steps to avoid spreading the flu, as it remains in the population.

Meanwhile, a plane chartered by the Mexican government returned a group of Mexican citizens from China, after Chinese officials quarantined them, fearing they were infected. Mexico criticized the quarantine as discriminatory, saying none of the Mexicans showed any swine flu symptoms.

News reports say about 150 Mexicans arrived Wednesday morning on the flight, which was part of an agreement between the Chinese and Mexican governments to send citizens of both countries back home. Another plane picked up more than 80 Chinese nationals from Mexico to return them to China.

China says its strict measures are in the interest of public health, but critics say the precautions are heavy-handed. Hong Kong's chief executive has apologized for the ongoing, week-long quarantine of hundreds of people at a local hotel where an infected Mexican guest stayed.

About 25 Canadian university students were quarantined for a week, and two U.S. citizens are also being kept in isolation at a hotel in a suburb of Beijing.


Trial begins in shooting
of police school student


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Colombia security guard has gone on trial in the murder of a female police officer March 15, 2008.

The dead woman was Mailyn Andrea Martínez Anchía, 21, who was a student at the Escuela Nacional de Policías.

The man on trial has the last names of Roba Monroy. He was a guard at a commercial establishment on the corner of Avenida 5 and Calle 3. The victim was with a group of young people, which may have numbered 100. They had just attended a rock concert

Two other person were injured, and many bullets were reproted fired.

The case is in the Tribunal de Juicio de San José.


Chemical fire trial scheduled
for three more days in May


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The environmental trial of Químicas Holanda has been scheduled for three more days, beginning May 25.

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo heard just two witnesses Wednesday. They were Héctor Chaves, director of the Cuerpo de Bomberos, and Edwin Cyrus, director of the conservation area in the vicinity of the firm's chemical storage facility. The facility was hit with a massive fire in December 2006, and the tribunal is trying to assess a monetary amount for damages.

The initial amount is 3.5 billion colons or about $6.2 million. More than 20,000 lost running water for two months because the chemical spills and runoff due to the fire polluted local water sources in Moín.

Transport ministry will recycle waste

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said Wednesday it would work with the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica to recycle waste.

The Cartago-based institute maintains a recycling center, and the ministry has signed an ageement to keep its various types of waste separate for recycling.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 7, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 89


U.S. blames Costa Rica for failing to act to save turtles
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. State Department blames Costa Rica’s ineffective enforcement mechanism for the new ban on importing shrimp.

The United States decertified Costa Rica as a turtle friendly country May 1, as reported here Tuesday. An explanation became available Wednesday.

Margaret F. Hayes, acting deputy assistant secretary for oceans and fisheries in the department said that Costa Rican officials did not comply with their promise to take steps to sanction shrimp fishermen who do not use turtle excluder devices.

For several years she said her agency has been accumulating data, both through certification visits and from credible third-party sources, suggesting that Costa Rica's program did not provide sanctions that served as an effective deterrent against the failure of fishermen to use the excluder devices.

"In meetings with senior Costa Rican fisheries officials during the December 2008 certification visit, the State Department representative stressed that without rapid remedial action Costa Rica's certification might be compromised," she added. "Costa Rican officials were aware of the issue and promised to resolve it early in 2009. However, the United States Embassy in San Jose reports that since that December visit Costa Rican authorities have not taken all the action they promised."

The meetings were with the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura.

The excluder devices are like trap doors built into shrimp trawl nets that let trapped turtles swim away. The State Department did certify 15 nations that mandate the use of excluders.

The Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, which
dead green turtle
Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas photo
Dead turtle is found among catch in a trawler net.

keeps an eye on what is called turtle by-kill, said this is the fourth decertification for Costa Rican shrimp since 1999.

In August of 2003, Costa Rica lost its certification after a scheduled inspection by the U.S. Departments of State. In February 2004, Costa Rica was recertified by the State Department because the government here, in cooperation with the fishing companies, took steps to improve enforcement and compliance with fisheries laws, said the department at the time.

The State Department last certified the country May 1, 2008.

Costa Rica has exported at least 20,000 pounds of premium shrimp a month to the United States. That is shrimp with a retail price of nearly $200,000, according to news files.
During recent periods of decertification there did not seem to be any change in the price of shrimp here.


Abandoned fishing gear blamed in many deaths at sea
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The world’s fish stocks are seriously threatened by the growing presence of lost and discarded fishing gear that now make up about 10 per cent of all marine litter, according to a new report released today by two U. N. agencies.

The study found that large amounts of fishing gear lost or abandoned at sea has resulted in frequent incidents of ghost fishing, trapping and killing fish, seabirds and mammals.

Discarded fishing equipment is also posing a serious hazard to ships, creating navigation problems and causing accidents at sea, the U.N. Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization said in the report.

"The amount of fishing gear remaining in the marine environment will continue to accumulate and the impacts on marine ecosystems will continue to get worse if the international community doesn't take effective steps to deal with the problem of marine debris as a whole,” said Ichiro Nomura, assistant director general for fisheries and aquaculture at the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Strategies for addressing the problem must occur on multiple fronts, including prevention, mitigation, and curative measures, Nomura said.

He noted his agency is working closely with the International Maritime Organization in its review of an annex of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships to address the issue.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme, said, “There are many ghosts in the marine environment machine from overfishing and acidification linked with greenhouse gases to the rise in de-oxygenated dead zones as a result of run off and land-based source of pollution.”

He said the problems caused by abandoned and lost fishing gear must be addressed collectively to preserve the productivity of oceans and seas for future generations.

“Our hope is that this report will prompt industry and governments to take action to significantly reduce the amount of lost or abandoned fishing gear in the marine environment," added Nomura.


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Head of U.S. chamber backs ending Cuban trade embargo
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says lifting the near five-decade long U.S. embargo on Cuba will bring significant economic opportunities to American and Cuban workers alike. He made the case Tuesday at a news conference in the U.S. Congress.

The man, Thomas Donahue, said his group is supporting the efforts of some U.S. lawmakers to end the trade embargo on Cuba. He said engaging with Cuba will help the Communist nation move toward a more democratic society.

"I would say that if you want to open up Cuba to the things that we value, then send a whole lot of Americans down there to talk about what life is really like, to talk about economic opportunity, to go down there and take along with them opportunities to trade and invest and develop," said Donahue.

The U.S. imposed an economic embargo on Cuba in the early 1960s when it moved toward communism and aligned with Russia during the Cold War.

U.S. President Barack Obama eased restrictions on travel and money transfers to Cuba by Cuban Americans last month in a gesture to its Communist rulers. But, he left the embargo in place and urged them to take the next step, by increasing political freedom.

Donahue says lifting the embargo will give U.S. businesses significant opportunities to sell agricultural and manufactured goods to Cuba and to develop offshore oil fields. He says those opportunities are seized instead by other countries.

Rep. Jeff Flake, a Republican, said at the news conference
he supports opening up to Cuba even though he is not sure how its government would react.

"I think the experience has been around the world that economic freedom and reform typically precedes political freedom and reform. It does not always happen, but it is more likely than not," said Flake. "But in this case we should do it because it is in our interest and every American should be able to travel wherever they want unless there is a compelling national security reason and there is not one here."

Charles Rangel, House Ways and Means Committee chairman, is leading efforts in Congress to end the embargo on Cuba. The New York Democrat said the embargo gives Cuba's rulers a scapegoat for their mistakes and lifting it will boost the U.S. standing on the world stage.

But Cuban American representatives in Congress strongly oppose any relaxing of restrictions on relations with Cuba. They say increased revenue from tourism and trade only would strengthen the government of President Raúl Castro.

Roger Noriega is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington and a former State Department official in the George W. Bush administration. He says Americans who call for unilateral concessions to Cuba are lobbying on behalf of a dictatorship.

" What these people are doing when they go down and make their deals is aid and abet a regime that is keeping 11 million Cuban people in bondage," he said. "Why would any American businessmen want to keep in power a regime that has destroyed the Cuban economy."

Noriega says maintaining sanctions will give the U.S. leverage to press Cuba's rulers to release political prisoners and grant their citizens political rights.

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A.M. Costa Rica

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This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Statistics

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.



Another Mexican journalist
dies in roadside encounter


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Another Mexican newsman has been executed after he wrote unflattering stories about the local market operated by the muncipality in which he lived.

The Inter American Press Association denounced the murder. The victim was Carlos Ortega Melo Samper in the Mexican state of Durango. It is the third such murder this year. The association called on the federal government to act immediately to end the pattern of violence unleashed against the press.

According to information gathered by the association Mexico, Ortega Melo Samper, was a correspondent for El Tiempo de Durango, Santa María del Oro, Durango. He was killed Sunday around 5 p.m. when he was cut off by four men in a pickup while driving home. As he got out of his car to complain, the men attempted to kidnap him. When he resisted one of them shot him in the head three times with a .40-caliber pistol. He died instantly.

The journalist, 52, also a lawyer by profession, had worked at the newspaper for six months reporting on misconduct within the local municipal government. His no-holds-barred style resulted in two attempts on his life. In one, his vehicle was burned and in the other shots were fired at his home. Santa María del Oro has been the scene of increased drug trafficking, drug consumption and acts of violence in recent years.

Enrique Santos Calderón of El Tiempo, Colombia, expressed his support of the reporter's family and colleagues, and, at the same time, appealed to "the authorities in command to swiftly investigate, uncover the motives and hold those responsible for the murder to justice, and asked for the same attention to other unsolved crimes in Mexico, "where the state of impunity," he stated, "generates more violence."   Santos Calderón is president of the Inter American Press Association

According to the association, in late April Ortega Melo Samper wrote a report condemning unsanitary conditions at the town's sole market, run by the municipal government. The mayor, Martín Silvestre Herrera, protested fiercely and on May 1 the journalist reported this fact, holding both the mayor and Juan Manuel Calderón Herrera, manager of local social programs, responsible for any harm that he might come to. He also announced that he was going to expose unlawful activity and corruption involving the municipal public prosecutor, Salvador Flores Triana, who was later cited as a suspect in the murder.

The newspaper’s editor, Víctor Manuel Garza, said that senior state officials had promised to issue summonses to the mayor and all the suspects mentioned by the journalist in his last report.

Earlier this year two other journalists were murdered in Mexico: Luis Daniel Méndez Hernández in Vera Cruz and Jean Paul Ibarra Ramírez in Guerrero, both presumably for reasons connected to their work.



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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, May 7, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 89


Latin American news digest
U.N. assembly president wants
Latins to chart own course


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The leftist president of the U.N. General Assembly has called on the Rio Group, an alliance of 23 Latin American and Caribbean nations, to play a central role in shaping the future of the global economy to truly reflect the needs and concerns of the region.

He spoke at a meeting Tuesday in New York of the Rio Group in preparation for the upcoming high-level General Assembly Economic Crisis Summit in June.

The assembly president, Miguel D’Escoto, a Nicaraguan Sandinaista, noted that the gathering comes at “a moment when we must stand together and demand that all countries have a voice in setting the policies that guide the future of our economies and our peoples.”

He stressed that the summit, which will be held from June 1 to 3 in New York, is an opportunity “to find solutions to the crisis that will help all nations restore economic and financial stability, cultivate true human security and restore the confidence of our people in themselves, their leaders and their institutions.”

D’Escoto noted that the 570 million people represented by the Rio Group understand the far-reaching political and social implications of the global recession.

Instead of an anticipated period of progress and growing prosperity for the region, it faces the prospect of another lost decade for development, he said, adding.

“It could be many lost decades if, as an international community, we do not make changes urgently and in the measure required.”

The president urged the Rio Group not to “postpone, as so many times before, the opportunity to articulate a vision for the global economy as it emerges from this crisis in a global and democratic forum.”




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