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(506) 2223-1327         Published Wednesday, May 21, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 100         E-mail us
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desamparados mall
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
The steel skeleton is taking shape in Desamparados where another metropolitan area mall will be located. The new mall will be just west of the Desamparados Catholic church and near an existing commercial center that now holds Mas x Menos and near an existing McDonald's restaurant. The mall was announced last year, and Desamparados officials immediately voiced concern about increased traffic. However, many residents now use the same route to go to San José and other areas to shop. Desamparados is a working class district in the province of San José. The canton is south of the city of San José.  It is an area that is partly still rural, yet is one of the most populated cantons of Costa Rica.


Environmental judges report pressure, death threats
By Helen Thompson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Death threats have been sent to the head of a government body that has been closing down real-estate projects across the country.

Various developers, hotel owners and residents have become angry at José Lino Cháves, leader of the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo, for shutting down projects that the tribunal maintains are damaging the environment.

Complaints have included that the tribunal has been releasing false information to the press, discouraging real-estate investment and putting the progress of construction projects in jeopardy.

Tribunal secretary Jorge Bonilla, tribunal Vice President Mario Leiva and the wife of Cháves have all received threats, in particular while the tribunal was inspecting and shutting down projects in Limón and Guanacaste, said the tribunal in an official statement.

The three presented a denuncia concerning the death threats to the Judicial Investigating Organization Monday, the tribunal said.

A release from the tribunal said that formal demands have been made at the Sala IV constitutional court by companies that want the tribunal to stop closing projects and to be prevented from talking to the press. The author of one demand said that press coverage of the situation was a menace to the progress of his project, but his complaint was immediately rejected May 7 by the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, the release said.

An article appeared in national newspaper Diario Extra Saturday detailing complaints against Cháves that date back to his days as a notary and lawyer.
Ex-clients complain that he never completed the work he was contracted and paid to do. Their complaints are to be investigated by the Colegio de Abogados, said the newspaper.

A tribunal spokesperson said this was “an offensive article” and named it as part of what the tribunal is calling “a wave of pressure to which the judges of the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo are being subjected.”

Others to submit complaints about the tribunal's work are the Union Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones de la Empresa Privada and the Cámara Nacional de Turismo, which have both written to Rodrigo Arias, minister of the Presidencia, and Roberto Dobles, minister of  Ambiente y Energía.

“We make clear that until now neither the minister of the Presidencia nor the minister of the environment have called us to put any kind of pressure on us,” said Cháves. “We are sure that they will not do so because they know of the independence of action that the Tribunal Ambiental posesses, according to the Ley Organica del Ambiente.

“We recognize that many businesses in the country are doing things well and that they have earned prizes and ecological flags. This is not the sector that worries us, but those projects that are causing damage to the environment.”

The tribunal said that the idea of investigating projects on the coast was instigated by the unplanned development in those zones, with some cases demonstrating complete disregard for environmental reponsibility.

All three judges signed a document saying that they stand firm in their intent to carry out the work assigned to them by the state.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 100

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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.



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4207-10/2/08
Business owner waylaid
by gunman in Barrio México


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A robber shot a Chinese business owner Tuesday morning as he was on the way to deposit money in a bank in Barrio Mexico, said a judicial spokeswoman.

The victim, Zhunghui Wang, 36, had just stepped out of his sport utility vehicle when a robber shot him in the chest and grabbed the bag of money he was about to deposit, said the spokeswoman. The assailant escaped with another individual on a motorcycle, said the spokeswoman. Paramedics brought Wang to Hospital San Juan de Dios, she added.  

The robber is believed to have shot the victim twice, once in the chest and once in the side.  The loot was said to be worth several thousand dollars. Some packets of money were on the ground when police arrived.

Wang owns a small business in Barrio México on San José northwest side, according to the Judicial Investigation Organization. The robber shot him at 11 a.m. in front of the Catholic church in Barrio México, said the judicial spokeswoman. Investigators from the División de Asaltos had not yet determined the amount of money that was stolen Tuesday morning, said the spokeswoman. They continue to investigate the case.

Murder suspect is jailed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man accused in a double homicide will spend six months preventative detention, ruled the Juzgado Penal de Limón Tuesday. The accused, a man with the last names Camacho Rivera, was arrested Monday in the mechanic shop where he worked, said a judicial spokeswoman.

The two victims, Jeffry Lawrence Dunkley, 28 and Jeudi Mata Sarmientos, 21 were walking in an area known as La Bomba or Beverley, Matama, when a red pickup truck sped by and someone fired shots at both men.

Our readers' opinion
He has not had problems
getting parking boletos


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I guess we all have different experiences. In several years, I have never had a problem finding boletos in Heredia or San José. And I know that if I am a frequent parker, I can buy a bunch myself for the month. The trick is to ask, although sometimes it means walking the length of the block.

The alternative to the current system is for the municipalities to create more sophisticated systems, like parking meters, which are extremely costly. It is for that reason that in some places in the States the meters gobble up 4 quarters every hour. And try to find coins in New York for a parking meter or deal with a ticket for a meter that didn't work!

I get to know new people every time I park. I have yet to return to a damaged car. Pura Vida.
John F. French
San Pablo, Heredia

Our 'game' just appeals
to resident low lifes here

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

There’s no one who appreciates a good story, bon mot or comic twist more than I do, especially when it comes to Costa Rica and its many idiosyncrasies (as seen by the rest of the world). After all, I’ve been living here for the past 17 years, and am still alive to tell the tale.

Nowhere else are the words (spoken in another context, mind you) of Alain Resnais’ film "La guerre est finie," so apt. I translate freely from the French: "To survive, you must demonstrate these two qualities: patience and irony."

Unfortunately, in the "Little Game" feature article in the May 20 edition, the A.M. Costa Rica "humor" staff demonstrates little of either. I suppose some of the resident lowlifes will find this wildly hilarious. Most expats with half an ounce of grey matter or the capacity for "patience and irony" certainly will not. Those contemplating a visit here for the first time will find the "humor" either wholly incomprehensible or even worse, off-putting and inappropriate.

I find a disturbing tendency creeping into A.M. Costa Rica. Aside from several insightful pieces on the real estate and legal systems here, the tenor of the overall content has become decidedly sensationalist, alarmist and negative. At times I wonder if I have stumbled across "Diario Extra" in English. As a matter a fact, you might consider renaming the site "A.M. Diario Extra." At least those who appreciate "patience and irony" and know a couple of words of Spanish will understand.
Mark Sydney

Editor's Note; Mr. Sydney is a real estate broker with interests in the southern Pacific coast.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 100



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New treaty extends more rights to persons aged 12 to 35
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An international treaty that grants additional rights to young people has come into force quietly in Costa Rica.

Government officials will mark the event with a ceremony Friday at 10 a.m. in Teatro Melico Salazar and with a concert for young people from 4 to 10 p.m. the same day in the Gimnasio Nacional in La Sabana.

Costa Rica was the fifth nation to accept this treaty, and five nations were required to bring the document into force. Now it has the force of law in Costa Rica, and with its 44 sections it confers on persons from 15 to 24 years additional rights. A Casa Presidencial release said that the treaty would cover Costa Ricans between 12 and 35 years, although that is not mentioned in the final text.

The document extends the right of non-discrimination on a number of grounds including sexual orientation.

It also recognizes the state's obligation to provide an integrated education of quality and gives students the right to select the educational institution they wish to attend.
Among the education rights are the right to sex education at all grade levels and even the right to sports.

The document also extends the right to health, dignified work, identity and political participation.

The number of rights that are defined would seem to require additional expenditures by the central government, although the document is so broad that it will be difficult to compute these costs now. For example the right to work is given and the state is vested with the responsibility to provide the conditions so that this requirement is met. Another right bestowed is the right to housing.

In 2005 representatives from 16 Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries signed the document. Other countries that have approved it legislatively are Ecuador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Spain and Uruguay. The document is called in Spanish the Convención Iberoamericana de Derechos de los Jóvenes.

The groups Le Pop, Escats, Parque en el Espacio, República Fortuna, Mekatelyu and El Parque will perform at the Friday concert.


Greenpeace denies it has approved Puerto Viejo marina plan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Greenpeace has angrily renounced any form of involvement with the controversial marina project planned for Puerto Viejo de Limón, after a marina spokesperson said that the environmental organization had approved the design and techniques to be used.

The newspaper Seminario Universidad of the Universidad de Costa Rica quoted Walter Coto, an ex-government minister who now acts as the lawyer for Grupo Caribeño Internacional S.A., saying that the company projects “a design and use of construction techniques certified by the ecological organization Greenpeace.”

The article was first published in February, but was re-used by the Argentinian news source Argenpress.info Tuesday.

“Greenpeace does not have, nor has had, any kind of
 relationship with the Grupo Caribeño Internacional S.A.,” said Milko Schvartzman, the ocean campaign co-ordinator for Greenpeace Latin America.

“Greenpeace has not certified any project of that corporation and does not dedicate itself to certifying projects,” he added

The organization's statement also said that it opposes projects that have a negative effect on the environment. After analyzing documents by scientists and environmentalists about the marina, it continues, Greenpeace manifests its opposition to the marina project.

Due to pressure from environmentalists, who say the five-star marina resort will damage nature reservations near Puerto Viejo, the company has already said it will only be constructing a marina with 100 slips for yachts rather than the originally planned 398.


Hotel security personnel bust up gang's plan for ransom payoff in city
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security workers at the Hotel Clarion are getting credit for busting up a kidnapping involving a South African woman and her brother as the victim.

The hotel security detail became suspicious when kidnappers came to the hotel where the woman was staying. They appeared to be in search of ransom. Hallway cameras showed the woman scuffling with one of the kidnappers.
The case is complex because the victims vanished after the Policía Municipal detained two men at the hotel. The kidnappers also abandoned two vehicles and firearms.

The original victim, the man, appears to have been snatched from a Barrio California hotel Tuesday morning. It is unclear why his sister was staying at another hotel. The Clarion is in Barrio Amón.

At least four kidnappers are being sought.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 100


Lawmakers vote to give telecom monopoly more flexibility
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa Tuesday night approved on first reading, 30 to 16, a measure to provide more flexibility in the operations of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The electrical and telecommunications monopoly will face competition with the ratification of measures related to the free trade treaty with the United States. The legislation is an effort to allow the company to compete with private entities.
Still, the Partido Acción Ciudadana opposed the measure. A member of the political party, Olivier Pérez, told his fellow lawmakers that he feared that the changes in the company would only benefit the rich.

The bill is a companion measure to one passed last week that will allow wireless competition in the country. Among other benefits, the legislation approved Tuesday, will give the telecommunications firm more flexibility in issuing contracts. Lawmakers will vote one more time before the measure is sent to Casa Presidencial.


Climate change campaign seeks to prevent burning of forests
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Environmentalists say conserving the world's forests is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to combat climate change. One group — Conservation International — has launched a campaign to demonstrate just how important the world's forests are.

Conservation International wants to raise awareness of the critical link between forests and climate change.

The U.S.-based organization launched its "Lost There, Felt Here" campaign Tuesday in New York with the premiere of a public service announcement. The ad features American movie star Harrison Ford, best known for his role as Indiana Jones.

"When forests get slashed and burned, it releases tons of carbon into the air we breathe," said Ford. "It changes our climate. It hurts."

Ford has been on Conservation International's board of directors for more than 15 years.

The public service announcement features the actor losing some roots of his own — his chest hair. The campaign's central message.

"Every bit of rainforest that gets ripped out over there really hurts us over here," he said.

Burning forest contributes an estimated 20 percent to global emissions — more than cars, trucks and planes combined. Conservation International's president, Russ Mittermeier says he hopes the ad will catch people's attention.
"We really need to come up with new mechanisms, because if we don't, and we lose these tropical forests, and all the carbon in them goes up into the atmosphere, a lot of the other things that we are doing in terms of improving technology and our energy and everything else is going to be negated," said Mittermeier. "So we really need to pay attention to this issue."

The South American nation of Guyana wants to play a major role in the campaign to conserve forests and fight climate change. The Guyana Shield region of Amazon forest contains 18 percent of all carbon dioxide stored in the world's tropical forests.

Guyana's president, Bharrat Jagdeo, said his country is ready to act in exchange for economic incentives.

"We are willing to place our entire rain forest — which is larger than England — under the supervision of an international body to ensure compliance with world class forestry standards," said Jagdeo. "As I have said before, we will do this if we can find the right market-based mechanisms to make it economically worthwhile."

Jagdeo said governments should pay his and other rainforest countries for the carbon stored in their trees.

The Kyoto Protocol — which imposes limits on greenhouse gas emissions — does not currently recognize forest protection actions as valid carbon credits, but U.N. negotiators are considering an expanded market to include forest conservation.

The issue will be discussed at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in 2009.


Female rebel commander wants colleagues to surrender, too
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One of Colombia's best known female rebel commanders has called on other members of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia to surrender one day after turning herself in.

The woman, Nelly Ávila Moreno, known as Karina, said she has been cut off for years from the leaders of the group that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. She said the group is in disarray. Ms. Ávila turned herself in on Sunday.

Her decision follows the March murder of the organization's second in command, Ivan Rios, who was 
 who was killed by a bodyguard to collect a bounty. Another commander, Raul Reyes, was killed in a March 1 attack in Ecuador by Colombian soldiers.

Authorities say Ms. Avila was responsible for massacres, kidnappings and attacks, including the murder of President Álvaro Uribe's father. She has denied any connection to that killing. Officials say Ms. Ávila will be able to seek leniency under a law designed to encourage the demobilization of rebels.

The Fuerzas Armadas is holding a number of hostages it wants to exchange for imprisoned guerrillas. French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans are among the hostages.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 21, 2007, Vol. 8, No. 100

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A.M. Costa Rica

users 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 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.

Two suspects being held
as Autopista Cañas robbers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Autopista General Cañas has been ruled by a band of armed men for the last two months, said a judicial official Tuesday.

A group of six men with at least three firearms have been terrorizing pedestrians, people waiting for the bus, and any unfortunate victim whose car breaks down in Uruca near Hospital México, said Manuel Brenes Carillo, director of the Division de Asaltos in the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Agents arrested two men Tuesday in Rositer Carballo, Uruca, as suspects in the case. Agents from the Division de Asaltos have been investigating the highway robberies for weeks now, said a judicial spokeswoman.  They raided three houses in the area and arrested José Francisco Arias Diaz, 31, and Alexander Vindas Campos, 26, said the judicial spokeswoman. Brenes said all of the six band members are suspected to live in Rositer Carballo near the robbery sites and are in their mid- to late-20's.

The band of robbers would wait above the highway at a strategic spot and monitor the bus stops as they waited for potential victims, said Brenes. They especially liked to rob students from the nearby learning center, Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje, he said. “It's no more than a game for them,” added the director.

Members of the group carried three guns including a pistol and a revolver, said Brenes. They usually targeted just one victim, he said, but they also robbed a pair of students at the bus stop, and they once robbed three people in a parked car. They yell vulgarities at their victims and force them to give up cell phones, wallets, and jewelry, said Brenes. Investigators have had knowledge of the robberies for at least two months, said the director, but they may have started much earlier.  
 
The Judicial Investigation Organization reported that eight complaints have been filed so far, but judicial agents suspect there are many more, said Brenes. “We are asking citizens to come forward to file complaints, and help us,” he said.

Four sought in river
after vehicle found


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Firefighters, Cruz Roja rescue teams, and Fuerza Pública are searching for two women and two children who seem to have been swept away by flooding near Quepos, said a Cruz Roja spokesman Tuesday.

A red Geo Tracker was found in the Río Savegre south of Quepos early Monday morning, said Ernesto Ruiz, a Cruz Roja spokesman. Members of the Cruz Roja suspect strong waters swept the vehicle off the road or that the car slipped off a bridge. The women, boy and girl are presumed to have been in the car when it was swept away. But judicial officials will have to investigate the case, to find out what happened, said Ruiz.

The search is scheduled to start again at 5:30 a.m. today, said a Fuerza Pública officer in Quepos. 


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 100



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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 100

Scavengers to search Tamarindo to raise money for lifeguards
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tamarindo's recently resuscitated lifeguard program is set to receive a boost from an unusual family event called a scavenger hunt, to be held May 31.

Groups of four to six persons will be invited to race around Tamarindo, searching for specified items and meeting silly challenges, such as building constructions from only toilet paper and tape, with prizes up for grabs to the most successful teams.

For around two hours, participants will be looking for copies of newspapers, finding out what specials certain restaurants have, and reporting back to a “lifeguard” on the beach.

All activities will take place in the town center, between Witch's Rock, Nogui's and Hotel Pasatiempo.

Team categories are adult, in which all four to six players must be over 18; family, in which one player must be over 18; and youth, in which players must all be between 12 and 17, with written parental consent.

An after-party with food, drinks and a raffle will be held at Pasatiempo from 5 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.

Anyone who wants to take part must register by Saturday by e-mailing a team name, details including ages of each participant and a telephone number to
tamarindoscavengerhunt@gmail.com.

Entry to the competition is $50, which goes towards the
funding of the lifeguard program and can be paid
on the day of the event.

More information is available at http://www.tamarindowiki.com.


Delay in World Series showdown to add sophistication
The World Series of Poker, poker’s most prestigious event, will kick off in a few short weeks.  The World Series features world championships in various forms of the game, all leading up to the granddaddy of them all, the $10,000 buy-in main event.

This year, however, the main event will be just a little bit different.

Harrah’s, the operator of the World Series of Poker, with input from the Players Advisory Council, decided to postpone the final table of the main event until Nov. 9, 2008 – a delay of more than three months.  That’s right; more than 7,000 players will start play on July 3 and battle down to the final nine on July 14 at which time play will come to a stop. 

Some players love this idea and think it will create tremendous buzz about poker’s biggest showcase event.  Others believe that the lengthy delay will compromise the integrity of the final table. 

I think both camps make valid points.  The extended build up will definitely create promotional opportunities and excitement about the final table.  It will also give the finalists unprecedented time to work on their game, study their opponents, and develop winning game plans.

Others, however, argue that winning the main event is a test not only of poker skill, but stamina too.  I don’t agree.  The main event wasn’t always a test of endurance.  The ability to play winning poker on little sleep is not something that needs to be rewarded. 

As far as I’m concerned, the schedule change will benefit those players that study video of their opponents, seek expert coaching advice, and work on their game plans.  Let me explain.

Professional football was revolutionized when teams began to study their opponents by watching game tape.  Today, all NFL coaches work long hours studying video leading up to game day. 

Players at the main event final table will have three months to study footage of their opponents.  Not only should they search for physical tells and predictable betting patterns from their opponents, they should look for their own bad habits too.

The schedule delay will also benefit those players who seek



out coaching advice.  Now, this is something that might seem at odds with being a poker player.  After all, poker is an individual game -— one player to a hand.  But why pass up the opportunity to improve one’s game?  Hey, if I don’t make the final table, I just might take on a student who could benefit from my poker experience.

The presence of pro coaches will undoubtedly add a new dynamic to the main event.  While you might not see Phil Hellmuth actually playing at the final table, it’s possible that he’ll be visible in the stands as he cheers for his amateur protégé.

In fact, even the big name pros will probably hire coaches to help gather information on their opponents and help devise final table strategies.

Lastly, the delay will allow ample time to develop winning game plans.  Just like an NFL coach might draw up the first 20 plays, finalists at the main event can do the same.  But in addition to Plan A, finalists should also be prepared with backup Plans B and C.  Maybe you’ll win a big pot and become the chip leader, or perhaps you’ll lose a monster pot and find yourself on the short stack.  Players should establish game plans for a wide range of scenarios.

The main event schedule change will add an element of sophistication to the final table that will surely benefit those players that are best prepared.  If I make it to the final nine, you can bet that I’ll be as prepared as anyone.


Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, "Hold’em Wisdom for All Players."
© 2008 Card Shark Media.  All rights reserved.


Art Galleries ...

Surreal circus art leaves circle of life question open to onlookers


introvocoWandering around the Museo Calderon Guardia, looking at austere historical artifacts about the socialist former president complete with wax-work statue, the last thing a visitor expects to come across is a circus tent.

Until May 22, that is precisely what museum-goers can expect when they enter the small temporary exhibition space.

A colorful toy snake curls around the bottom of a notice board announcing “Introvoco” with two clown shoes fastened to it.

The floor is covered in a carpet of hay, giving the room a barn-yard smell, and most of it is obscured by a blue tarpaulin.

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Art Biennial breaks down national stereotypes

ticosynicasA work of art that involves only a metal key is among the most acclaimed piece in the Museo de Arte Costarricense's latest exhibition.

Also on display are old Caterpillar boots, a patchwork quilt and a foosball table, all aimed at breaking down the stereotypes that exist between Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans.

As Nicaraguan migration into Costa Rica continues, so do tensions between the two national groups.

The U.S. Department of State's most recent estimate was that up to 15 percent of the population of Costa Rica is made up of Nicaraguans who have migrated here mainly in search of work.

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Dramatic Arts ...

Poets from 15 countries come to San José

Latin America is renowned for its literature, and this weekend marks the inauguration of a festival that unites poets from across the region, not to mention from Europe, Africa and the United States.

The VII Festival Internacional de Poesía will bring prize-winning writers from all over the world to venues all over Costa Rica, including hospitals and prisons, with the grand opening scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m.

It claims to be the second most important poetry festival in the Americas, and is organized by Fundación Casa de Poesía, who said getting visas for all the artists to enter the country proved rather difficult.

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Salsa and big band collide in a night of dinner and dancing


Music students of Pérez Zeledón and salsa-dancing fans of the group Son de Tikizia are preparing for a night of dinner and dancing to be held in the capital of the province.

The big band of the town that calls itself Pérez Zeledón, but whose actual name is San Isidro del General, will join dancers from the Universidad Nacional to present Cena Bailable May 23.

A concert by the 25 members of the big band will start off the evening, which will continue with a buffet-style dinner and end up with dancing.

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Food...

Café culture uncovered in San José

ruisenor
Moving to a foreign country is always going to leave people craving at least something of what they have left behind. For a European, this is often the laid-back café culture — having a croissant in the sunshine on a French plaza, or hiding from the British rain with a hot mocacchino, cuddled up on a sofa.

In San José there are plenty of places to catch a coffee. A soda will give you a coffee on the run, but it won't have a nice selection of frapucchinos, and the most European lunch on offer will be the ubiquitous ham and processed cheese sandwich.

The plastic atmosphere of the proliferation of coffee shops found in city malls doesn't cut it in comparison with the artsy, individualistic establishments in which musicians, revolutionaries, poets and artists got together next to the river Seine. After one casado too many, there are, however, a few places to go for a brief retreat towards the European ideal.

Claudio's Delicafé

claudios

Arguably one of San José's most attractive buildings, this café is attached to an art school and is not afraid of letting the creativity filter through into the café itself. Previously known as Café Arte, the French owner of San Pedro restaurant Le Chandelier recently took over the café and has restyled the entire thing, very much to its benefit.

One corner of the café is a tower-like extension, its cylindrical shape and many windows giving an airy atmosphere. Wicker-backed chairs, wooden sofas and arty photography give the interior an understated style.

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Mini-mall comes to the rescue of the not-rich-but-hungry

food courtFor those in the know, there is a clean, affordable, relatively quiet gastronomic surprise off the pedestrian mall in downtown San Jose.  Between Arenas clothing store and the Patio Restaurant, behind a perfume counter and a Pops Ice Cream sits a food court without a McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway or Church's Chicken in sight. 

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Festive season proves troublesome even for established restaurant

vealBeing a chef in a busy kitchen must be a pretty stressful job, but around Christmas stress is something any successful restaurant should factor in as inevitable.

On a second visit to well-reputed French restaurant Le Chandelier, it soon became obvious that the staff were poorly equipped for the onslaught of Christmas party diners on a Tuesday night, leaving the usually decent food to deteriorate into a procession of almost inedible starters and bland entrees.

Click here to read the full review

A great meal is not all in the presentation

musslesandfondue120407With a vaulted glass ceiling, palm trees lining the pathway and posh lighting, one would not expect Saga restaurant to be settled behind a dull parking lot in Escazú.

Although this restaurant may look out of place, it doesn't deviate much from the norm in Escazú, an area many would classify as suburban sprawl.


Click here to read the full review

Books ...

Heredia author mixes teen romance with leatherback turtles

book coverA 15-year-old girl who is infatuated with buff surfers and Gucci shoes is setting out to convince other teenagers her age that caring for leatherback turtles and saving the environment is just as cool as going to the mall.

Penelope, as she is called, is the creation of Heredia resident Marina Kuperman, a New York native who has recently finished the “eco-adventure” novel “Turtle Feet, Surfers Beat.”

Written to target girls aged 9-14, the 86-page novel is printed entirely on eco-friendly paper and follows the story of Penelope and her family as they relocate to Tamarindo for a month.

Forced to work as a volunteer at the Leatherback Biological Centre, Penelope, who has been recently dumped by her quarterback boyfriend, falls in love almost simultaneously with leatherback turtles and a blonde surfer called Kendall Brown.

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Land use in Costa Rica documented by Fulbright scholar

Forty years of living in the jungle, moving between secluded forestry stations and research labs, has led Louisiana resident and NASA veteran Armond Joyce to write a book about the changing uses of land in Costa Rica.

After winning a presitgious Fulbright scholarship in 1998, he came back to Costa Rica to revisit forest sites that he worked on over three decades earlier as a graduate student.

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New book dwells on the social aspects of food

Food is not just a selfish pleasure or a way to stifle hunger, but is central to the evolution of art, according to a new book published by Museos del Banco Central.

Artworks by Costa Rican painters are the main content of the hardback book, “Imagenes para Comer,” which follows the representation of food in art since still life painting became popular in the Renaissance.

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