A.M. Costa Rica

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(506) 223-1327        Published Tuesday, May 16, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 96        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Here come
the bugs!

The beginning of the rainy season is the time for the abejones de mayo to crawl from the earth and look for romance.

These harmless brown beetles,  Scarabaeoidea, spend a year underground as grubs that can do serious damage to various agricultural crops.

As adults they just bounce around a lot.

A.M. Costa Rica photo

Now you can tell what kind of tree that is
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The parks in San José can be a real learning experience now that much of the vegetation has been identified by small signs.

The project was done in the last year by the Departamento de Parques of the Municipalidad de San José with the goal of informing tourists and locals of the various types of trees and shrubs that are found in the metropolitan area, according to Luis Valverde Vargas of the department.

The small wooden signs contain the popular name in Spanish of the tree or plant, the scientific name and plant family. Sometimes humor is created when a tiny sign is placed near a giant higuerón or Costa Rican fig tree.

The signing project, sponsored by Florida Bebidas, the beer and soft drink company, is also part of a municipal tree planting project, said Valverde. The project costs between 7 and 8 million colons, or some $14,000 to $16,000.

The goal is to also bring in unusual species and to attract more birds and butterflies to
the center city area. For tourists there is a

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Signs like this are dotting many city parks. This plant is English ivy.

pamphlet available in some of the tourism offices.

Some 10 parks have been signed now: Parque Central, Morazán, España, Nacional, Okayama, Parque Central de San Francisco de Dos Rios, Nicaragua, Salvador, Benemerita (Don Bosco) y  el la Lomita in Pavas. Plans are to put signs in 10 more parks next budget year, said Valverde.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 16, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 96

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Ministerio de Defensa de España photo
The Spanish navy training ship, the Juan Sebastián Elcano, is supposed to make port in Limón today for a five-day visit. This photo is from a prior voyage.

U.S. citizen found shot
inside speeding vehicle

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man identified as a U.S. citizen died Sunday from what agents said was a bullet wound to the stomach.

The man was initially identified by the last name of Warren. Agents said he was 25 years old.

The victim was one of five men in a vehicle that a Tránsito officer stopped about 7:35 p.m. Sunday in El Alto de Guadalupe. The men said they were speeding in order to take their friend to a hospital. They said he had a bullet wound to the stomach.

However, it appeared that the man already had died.

The Judicial Investigating Organization is handling the case.

New rules affect bills
from utility companies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The utility companies cannot cut off a customer now over past bills. That's the good news. But it appears that the electric, cable and water companies can cut a customer off if they do so quickly when the current month's bill is not paid.

The unusual order was part of a publication Monday in La Gaceta official newspaper by the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos.

Utility companies usually include any past-due amounts on the current bill. If a customer falls too far behind, the service is suspended.

But the regulator of prices and services said that a recent Sala constitutional court decision has changed the rules.

Now utility companies must use administrative or judicial methods to collect prior bills.

However, they can cut off a customer if they fail to pay by a certain date on the current bill. The authority said that one goal of the order was to make utility companies more efficient. The authority said it had received 13 complaints about service suspensions due to non-payment last year.

Commercial ties to Europe
is topic for meeting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Representatives of nine European countries will be meeting with Costa Rica business people Wednesday to promote exports, strategic alliances and investments.

The event will be in the San José Palacio Hotel from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Participating will be commercial attaches from the embassies of Belgium, Poland, Holland, United Kingdoms and the Czech Republic.

Also present will be representatives of the chambers of commerce from Germany, Spain, France and Italy.

The event takes on more significance as Costa Rican officials talk about a future trade treaty with the European Union.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 16, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 96


Arias moves in and says that nothing has changed
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new president, Óscar Arias Sánchez, took formal possession of his office at Casa Presidencial Monday.

Arias said that nothing had changed since he last was president in 1990. But a lot had. Administration insiders are bemoaning the lack of information left behind by the outgoing employees of President Abel Pacheco. Even the Casa Presidencial Web site is down, although sites for most other government agencies are functioning.

Someone did leave a note on the desk of Arias wishing him good luck. He said he would divide his time between Casa Presidencial and his home on Rohrmoser where he received many guests as president-elect.

Casa Presidencial is in Zapote, an eastern section of San José. Rohrmoser is west, and the travel time is about 25 minutes.

Arias arrived at 11 a.m., prompting some employees to make some good natured jokes in Spanish about not showing up for work on time. The governmental workday usually starts here at 7 a.m. However, Arias has been working out of his home.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Óscar Arias checks out his computer next to the presidential desk.

A choir serenaded the president. It was the Oratorio Don Bosco Sor Maria Romero.

Expat group specifies Hospital National de Niños as its charity project
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Association of Residents of Costa Rica has arranged a formal agreement to provide help to the Hospital Nacional de Niños, according to Bob Miller, president of the group.

The association, which has mostly expats that are members, has opened a bank account with a $10,000 donation that was offered, Miller said. The association will be working with the Asociación de Damas Voluntarias at the hospital to review specific cases or equipment needs, Miller said. The association will be soliciting donations from its members.
Miller and the charity committee of the group will be at the hospital Wednesday to present two new monitors in the children's emergency room, the association said.

The association has arranged to have the Damas accept donations in the Banco Popular account that it maintains. That number is 161-0100262001116-7.

The Hospital de Niños on Paseo Colón is one of the crown jewels of the Costa Rican social security system, the Caja, but even it has fallen on hard times due to the financial stresses facing the central government and the entities that depend on it for funds.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, May 16, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 96

Bush seeks $2 billion to stem illegal immigrant flood
By the A.M. Costa Rica wires services

U.S. President George Bush is taking steps to increase security on the southern border of the United States, as he seeks support in Congress for comprehensive immigration reform. Bush wants to spend an additional $2 billion on border security and deploy as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to back up the civilian Border Patrol.

As the Congressional debate on immigration entered a new phase, the president went before the American people Monday night to urge a multi-faceted approach to stop the flood of illegal aliens into the United States.

"We will fix the problems created by illegal immigration, and we will deliver a system that is secure, orderly and fair," said Bush.

In a nationally broadcast address, Bush talked about steps already taken to improve border security. He said there has been progress, but not enough.

"We do not yet have full control of the border, and I am determined to change that," he said. "I am calling on Congress to provide funding for dramatic improvements in manpower and technology at the border."

He spoke of plans to add 6,000 new border agents by the end of 2008, roughly doubling the size of the Border Patrol. He said over the next few years, while these new recruits are trained, the National Guard will send in troops to help.

The Guard is organized at the state level, and members participate on a part-time, as needed basis. The president said Guard members will not be involved in border enforcement, but will handle support jobs, freeing more border agents to serve on the front lines.

"The United States is not going to militarize the southern border," said Bush. "Mexico is our neighbor and our friend. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve security on both sides of the border, to confront common problems like drug trafficking and crime, and to reduce illegal immigration."

But the president stressed law enforcement, while
crucial, is not enough. Once again, he urged lawmakers to approve his proposed guest worker program, which would provide temporary legal status to those willing to fill low-paying jobs.

"The reality is that there are many people on the other side of our border who will do anything to come to America to work and build a better life," he said. "They walk across miles of desert in the summer heat, or hide in the back of 18-wheelers to reach our country. This creates enormous pressure on our border that walls and patrols alone will not stop."

The legislation currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate would also create a mechanism that would enable many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country to eventually seek citizenship. They must pay fines, hold jobs, have roots in a U.S. community, learn English, and once they fill all these criteria they can get in line for citizenship behind those who entered legally.

The notion has split the American public. On the one side are those who say illegal immigrants are law-breakers who should be punished. On the other are millions of supporters of immigration rights, many of whom have taken to the streets of America in recent week to press for reform.

Congress is split, too. The president's plan to send in National Guard troops was seen by some as a way to appease conservatives who want a focus on border control. Speaking to reporters after the presidential address, Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, wondered aloud if the Guard is the best option.

"If Guard members are going to forego their regular training to patrol the border are they going to be prepared the next time we have an emergency at home or abroad," he asked. "Will the president guarantee National Guard troops will be available to protect their own homes and communities if they are needed? How much more are we going to ask of our National Guard?"

In his address, President Bush urged everyone involved in the immigration debate to adopt a reasoned and respectful tone. He said it is important to remember that real lives will be affected by the decision made in Washington, and he stressed every human being has dignity and value no matter what their citizenship papers say.

U.S. bans sale of arms to Venezuela over lag in terrorism fight
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States has imposed a ban on arms sales to Venezuela because of what U.S. officials say is a lack of support for counter-terrorism efforts.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman Monday accused Caracas of failing to stop Colombia's leftist guerrillas from using Venezuelan soil. Venezuela has repeatedly denied allowing access to Colombian fighters.

The U.S. ban is likely to further strain relations
between Washington and Caracas.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has frequently condemned the U.S.-led war in Iraq and criticized Washington for planning a military strike in Iran.

Speaking in London today, the Venezuelan leader called on the international community, especially Europe, to prevent military action in Iran because of its nuclear program.

He also said he would not cut off petroeum sales to the United States because of the arms ban.

Federal troops offered in attempt to stem criminal uprising in Brazil
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Brazilian government has offered to send troops to Sao Paulo state to help combat four days of gang violence that have killed 81 people, many of them police.

Justice Minister Marcio Thomaz Bastos has said the federal government could send some 4,000 troops, if local officials request help.

But Sao Paulo Gov. Claudio Lembo has so far declined federal assistance.
Police say bank branches and public buses were destroyed in the latest attacks by members of the First Command of the Capital gang.

Since Friday, officials say gangsters have opened fire on police stations and launched rebellions at several prisons in the state. At least 36 security agents and 14 suspected attackers have been killed.

Police say the gang ordered the attacks to protest the transfer of several imprisoned gang leaders to maximum security facilities. Authorities say there have been 180 attacks across the state.

Jo Stuart
About us

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