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(506) 223-1327             Published Wednesday, May 23, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 101              E-mail us    
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Legion post to have memorial ceremony Monday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 24 haunting notes of taps will sound out Monday at the San Antonio de Escazú cemetery when American Legion members gather to honor departed veterans.

Legion Post 15 in Heredia is organizing the noon event. Post Chaplain Werner Mitzka will officiate, a release said.

In addition to the playing of the bugle call identified with funerals, post members will read the names of all U.S. veterans who died in Costa
memorial day
Rica since Memorial Day 2006, the release said.
Legion members will follow the ceremony with lunch at a local restaurant.

The cemetery is up the hill about two kilometers and south of the community of San Antonio, which itself is up a hill and south of Escazú Centro.

Monday is Memorial Day, a U.S. holiday that dates from just after the Civil War. Originally the holiday was called Decoration Day, the time when flags and flowers were placed on the graves of veterans. The holiday is observed here by workers at the U.S. Embassy.

Those flying the U.S. Flag that day should remember that the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset, in honor of the nation’s battle heroes, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

RACSA puts Costa Rican Internet use at 29 percent
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new survey said that 15 percent of Costa Rican homes have access to the Internet and that 29 percent of the population use the Web.

Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., the Internet provider known as RACSA, released the results Tuesday. They were based on a survey conducted in April by CID Gallup.

Some 30 percent of the homes have a computer, said RACSA without explaining why only half of these would be hooked up to the Internet.

Supplementing home access to the Web are some 700 Internet cafes as well as work and school computers, according to the survey results. Some 40 percent of the users are under 25 years of age, the company said.

RACSA said it has 28,000 cable modem customers, 7,000 company accounts and 45,000 customers with telephone access. Some 100 customers communicate with the RACSA servers via satellite, and the company gets 1,500 new customers every month.

In addition, there are 50,000 dial-ups a month through its 900 En Lina and prepaid services that requires just a card purchased from a third party and a telephone hooked to the computer.

The company said it handles 5 million e-mails a day and that its customers have 75,000 electronic mailboxes. Those who subscribe to the free 
Costarricense.CR service have 90,000 mailboxes.

Internet use among expats is believed to be much higher as is penetration of computers.

The numbers from the survey mean that 1.5 million persons access the Internet, which is the same number of cellular telephones in use, said RACSA. That 29 percent of the population is 3 percent higher than in 2006, 7 percent higher than in 2005, and 9 percent higher than in 2004, said the company.

RACSA did not provide any information on how the survey was done. Such reports usually say how many persons were contacted and in what way, telephone, person-to-person or otherwise.

Survey reports also usually give the margin of error in the estimation of the general population from a survey sample.

With 238 computers per each 1,000 persons, computer use in Costa Rica is reported to be the highest in Latin America, RACSA said.

The figure does not take into account all those who use e-mail service from other domains, like Google, Yahoo or a private address, and simply access their mail account via the Internet.

The company did say that another survey in March, this one by the Comisión Asesora de Alta Tecnología, said that 78,800 customers were taking advantage of broadband services from RACSA and the parent Instituto Costariccense de Electricidad.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 101

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Hitmen invade lawyer's turf
and shoot him three times

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three presumed hitmen tried to kill a lawyer with political ties in his own office shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The lawyer survived because one of his colleagues produced his own gun and engaged the would-be killers in a shootout.

The target, Hernán Zamora Rojas, 55, survived but was hospitalized with a bullet in the head and two more in his body.  A suspect who was wounded in the knee came into police hands. He, too, was hospitalized.

Zamora was a vice minister of Vivienda or housing in the Miguel Ángel Rodríguez administration that ended in 2002 and he now is affiliated as an officer with the Partido Unión Nacional.

The circumstances did not suggest that the three men were seeking to rob the firm Labonanti y Zamora, which  is located in the eastern neighborhood of Zapote.

Police said they believed that four persons were involved and that one stayed in a vehicle in front of the office.

Murder during robbery
rates 11-year prison term

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An 18-year-old man has received 11 years in prison after admitting his role in a bus robbery that ended in the death of a female passenger.

The man, identified by the last names of Vargas Gutiérrez, accepted an abbreviated process in the crime.

The crime took place last Dec. 19 when two men tried to hold up a Pavas-bound bus that had just left a stop near Multiplaza in Escazú. The victim was 22-year old Evelyn Alfaro, who just happened to be hit in the head by a bullet fired by one of the gunmen. She worked at Carrión, a clothing store in the mall, and was headed home.

A second man faces a full trial.

Readers' ideas
He calls for a cleanup

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I was reading the article about different business ideas for retirees living in Costa Rica.  I think that there should be a countrywide recycle program and adoption by local communities and business of different areas and streets to start cleaning things up. 

For a country that prides itself in its natural beauty, it is a shame to see so much garbage just thrown out all along the highways and streets.  There needs to be a change in how people think, a national campaign.  

This was not a problem when someone threw out a banana peel and it recycled naturally but plastic never rots.  Maybe the prisoners should be used to clean up along the roads. Maybe schools should take part but it needs to start at the individual level and the way they think about what they throw away.

Bruce Gibson
Sarasota, Florida

Better flavor for tortillas

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

You guys came up with some good ideas for businesses. Here's one I have. Ticos eat a lot of tortillas and they suck! No corn flavor as found in Mexican tortillas. A good Mexican style tortilla, I think, could replace the tasteless ones they make here.

Den Evans

Possibilities for chiropractors

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
In response to your poll question, I feel that chiropractors would be a beneficial occupation in Costa Rica, given that it is a low-cost, low-tech, drug- and knife-free alternative therapies for people who do hard physical labor.  It is harmonious to the type individuals they are, can be performed anywhere, and is attractive to people locals, as well as expats and tourists who become injured or hurt in Costa Rica. 

It is especially beneficial in the case of auto accidents and on-the-job injuries, which Costa Rica has many of.  Skip litigation and insurance.  We just want to help these wonderful people who are providing a home for US!
Ronald Piazza, DC
Mary Jane Piazza
Richmond, Mass.

Easier wedding paperwork

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The government of Costa Rica says it promotes tourism and yet this is one of the most difficult countries in which to get married if you are a foreigner. One would think that it could click that there is a large untapped industry for honeymoon weddings. 

Yet one must get a police check from the United States, birth certificates not just certified but with original seals and penmanship on them from the States. Then comes the task of providing other documents.

In Nicaragua all you really need to produce to get married is a passport. If it was that simple in Costa Rica, many tourists would venture here to get married..
David Gibson

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 101

Good grief!

Are you still spending 70 percent 
of your advertising budget on paper?

You need to fill this space ASAP!

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Lawmakers express different philosophies on citizen security
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers displayed very different philosophies of citizen security Tuesday in discussions of a proposal to let small communities fence themselves off from passersby.

The measure would allow neighborhoods to block public rights-of-way to prevent access by criminals. Private subdivisions already block private access routes.

The measure was knocked down once on procedural grounds by the Sala IV constitutional court, and came up for discussion by the full Asamblea Legislativa because it was again being referred to the Comisión de Gobierno y Administración.

Lawmakers from the Movimiento Libertario were those who commented the most of public insecurity. Carlos Gutiérrez said, for example, that today there are not houses with bars (verjas) but bars with houses. Frequently those with limited incomes have to choose between installing or not installing a security system, he said.
He pointed to the community of los Diques de Cartago where after 6 p.m. honest citizens cannot enter due to the criminals, which he said were a small percentage. He said the situation was causing Costa Ricans to acquire firearms.

José Manuel Echandi, the former defensor de la República who now represents the Partido Unión Nacional, said that the robberies, carjackings, murders and hitmen are going to increase and the narcotrafficking situation is worrisome.

But Andrea Morales of the Partido Acción Ciudadana objected to the measure and said that barriers represent an aggressive signal against the rest of the citizenry. Such a system would only widen the gulf between residents of few resources and those who have higher incomes. And she said that a U.S. study shows that such barriers have little direct effect in reducing crime.

Finally the measure was referred to the committee where it will be discussed, and the full assembly will have another crack at the bill if the committee reports out the proposal with a favorable vote.

Frontier gets U.S. approval to open an air route from Denver to Juan Santamaría
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Denver, Colorado,-based Frontier Airlines has received final approval for a new service between Denver International Airport and San José, Costa Rica, from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the airline said Tuesday.

The direct flights, which start Friday, Nov. 30, will be aboard Frontier's new fleet of Airbus A319s. Frontier is offering special introductory fares for as low as $596 roundtrip. Fares must be purchased by 9:59 p.m.  June 26 for travel between Nov. 30 and June 16, 2008. The fare stated by the company does not include a number of fees and taxes.

Frontier will be the only airline to fly directly between Costa Rica and Denver. Costa Rica is Frontier's third country served outside of the United States and 11th non-U.S. city total, with eight cities served in Mexico and two in Canada. Most recently, Frontier began flying to Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada and Guadalajara, Mexico. On June 6 Frontier will begin flying directly from Dallas to Mazatlan, Mexico, which the airline already serves via Denver. Frontier's new Costa Rica service is the Denver- based carrier's furthest expansion south to date.
"Travelers' response to Frontier's international service has been tremendous, and we're thrilled to offer direct flights between Denver and Costa Rica, our third country served from the United States," said John Happ, senior vice president of marketing and planning for Frontier Airlines.

"Passengers now have a convenient, comfortable way to enjoy Costa Rica's culture, visit the country's amazing beaches, resorts and rain forests, and experience some of the best eco-tourism opportunities in the world."

Frontier plans to have flights Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. A plane will leave Denver 10 minutes after midnight and arrive at Juan Santamaría airport at 6:45 a.m. said the company's timetable. A return flight leaves Juan Santamaría at 7:30 a.m. and arrives in Denver at 12:15 p.m. The difference in flight duration is because Denver is an hour earlier than San José when the United States is not on daylight savings time.

In other airline news, the board of directors of Costa Rica's Aviación Civil has authorized Spirit Air to establish a new route from Los Angeles, California, to Juan Santamaría airport. The firm said it would fly the route several times a week starting in the second half of 2007.

Not all public employees filed list of assets as required by anti-corruption law
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 22 percent of Costa Rica's high level public employees have failed to file a declaration of their assets as required by law, said a report from the Contraloría General de la República.

Although 8,500 employees did present the document, some 2,500 still have not, said the report putting the percentage into numbers.

There were lines at the Contraloría offices in Sabana Sur Tuesday as employees hurried to meet the deadline. Each filing required a personal interview with a person receiving the document.
The personal report of assets is required by the new Ley contra la Corrupción y el Enriquecimiento Ilícito.

Workers at the Contraloría will now try to determine who should have filed and did not. Then they will issue warnings demanding that the public employees file the paper within 15 days.

If there still is no document filed, the Contraloría is authorized to open an administrative action against the public employee with the possibility of an admonishment or possible discharge.

The Contraloría is the financial watchdog agency designed in the law to handle the declarations.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 101

Officials say another fishing boat located carrying cocaine
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another Costa Rican fishing boat and its crew of four have fallen into the hands of the anti-drug ocean patrols.

The boat is the “Argery” with a home port of Puntarenas. The crew of six was detained 13 nautical miles off the Osa Peninsula in a combined operation including a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas, the Policía de Control de Drogas and the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional.

The U.S. vessel was operating in the Pacific under terms of an anti-drug agreement with Costa Rica.
The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said searchers found a ton of cocaine hidden on the fishing boat in 20-kilo packages. The fishermen were identified by the last names of Medina Pérez, Guzmán Porras, Matarrita Chacón and Mora Jiménez.

They will face criminal proceedings in Costa Rica.

Officials said that the boat departed from its home port May 17 and headed south.

Fernando Berrocal, the security minister, said that 37 tons of cocaine have been confiscated from seagoing smugglers since he took office in May 2006.

Universities will have their works on display this weekend in Ciudad Quesada
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Public universities will be showing their stuff in Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos) Friday and Saturday. The event is the IV Expo Regional Universitaria.

The event is an effort by the Consejo Nacional de Rectores, the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Universidad Nacional and the Universidad Estatal a Distancia. The idea is to bring the accomplishments of the universities to areas that are not nearby.
Some 40 different projects will be on display that show the use of technology in solving problems. Some involve management of resources or production or engineering.

Other projects are social, cultural or even sports-related.

Among the cultural are musical and dance events both days.
The full program in Spanish is HERE!

Much of the activity is in the Parque de San Carlos or at the local fairgrounds.

Health risk reported in toothpaste imported to Panamá from Chinese firms
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Authorities in Panamá and the Dominican Republic have pulled tens of thousands of tubes of Chinese-made toothpaste from the shelves in stores after it was discovered to contain a potentially deadly chemical.

Health authorities in Panama said that investigators confirm the toothpaste contains diethylene glycol, an ingredient commonly used in antifreeze. The toothpaste was sold under the brand names of Mr. Cool and Excel.

Last year, diethylene glycol was mistakenly mixed with cough syrup in Panamá and claimed at least 51 lives. No deaths have been reported in connection with the tainted toothpaste.
Chinese authorities are investigating two companies, Danyang Household Chemical Co. and Goldcredit International Trading Co.to see if they are responsible for exporting the toothpaste.

Officials from both companies admit that they used the ingredient in their toothpaste.

The general manager of Danyang Household Chemical Co. said the company had exported toothpaste to Panamá containing diethylene glycol. However, company officials say the chemical is safe in small amounts.

Concern over the toothpaste comes after contaminated pet food ingredients from China caused a recall of pet food in the United States.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 23, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 101

SMASH: Demolition derby will highlight auto show Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They already have picked the 12 cars that will participate in what is being called Costa Rica's first demolition derby that will be held Sunday. So you can put your 1978 Chevy Nova back in the parking area.

The event at noon Sunday is part of the Penncar Motor Show at the Autódromo La Guácima.

The event will be in two six-car heats. The idea is to whack
into rivals with such force that the other vehicle is knocked  out of commision.

After the heats, drivers of the six winners will have 20 minutes to effect repairs before entering the final.

Breakable parts are being stripped from the participating vehicles, and drivers will wear safety gear.

The show opens at 9 a.m. with exhibitions and other forms of vehicle-related competitions.

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Jo Stuart
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