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(506) 2223-1327           Published Friday, May 27, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 104             E-mail us
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Not all expats will be counted in next week's census
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Not every expat will be counted in the 2011 census that kicks off Monday.

Local teachers are gathering the data, but only those expats who have been in the country six months or have the intention of being here that long will be asked to collaborate on filling out a census form, according to the government agency in charge.

That means tourists and other temporary visitors will not be counted. That also means the so-called perpetual tourists will have to decide for themselves if they will be counted.

These are the residents who leave the country every 90 days to renew their tourism visas even though many own property here and run businesses.

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos is putting about 35,000 teachers into the field to collect the data. The questions are far more than simply age and marital status. The census also is a survey of housing, and the initial questions relate to the construction materials of the property.

Questions also seek the number of bathrooms, type of sewage system, source of the electricity and whether the occupants recycle trash.

The form also asks the types of electronic equipment in the home and if there is Internet connection, a motor vehicle and the number of cell telephones.

Crooks already seem to have recognized the utility of this information because some residents in Heredia have been asked these questions by someone impersonating a census taker. The fake surveyors already had copies of the census form which is available on the institute's Web site.

There is a form printed in English, too.

The institute stresses that real census takers are correctly uniformed with a vest and carry an
census girl
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This is what the well-dressed census taker wears

official briefcase with shoulder strap and credentials. There also is a phone number to double check the surveyor's authenticity: 800 23675-2011. Many residents already will know those taking the census. Local teachers have been selected because they work in the area.

The census form is six pages, but individual sheets have to be filled out for each person living in the dwelling.

Curiously, the form seeks place of birth but does not ask for nationality, so the census results will not address that question of how many expats are in Costa Rica. It also only asks if the respondent speaks a native language and does not address more common foreign languages.

The enumeration runs through next Friday. A test run took place in Palmares in August, and officials declared it a success.

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Agents hope someone identifies this ring

Investigators seek help
in identifying slain woman

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A farm worker found the body of a woman in a mango grove Wednesday morning, and so far investigators have not been able to identify her. She had been strangled.

Agents estimate that she was about 50 years old. Residents of the area have said they do not know her. There is the possibility that she was taken from some other place to her death in the field in Orotina.

The scene was made to look like a sex crime, but agents also said the woman had been beaten around the head. The main piece of evidence that they have is a ring the woman wore. It is silver and says kinder and bears the images of two children holding hands and a sunrise.  Investigators said that any information should be telephoned to the agency's confidential line 800-8000-645.

Judicial employee faces
charge of fencing cameras

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained a 48-year-old man who works as an assistant in the prosecutor's office in Desamparados. They said he had 29 cameras in his possession, including one that had been reported stolen. He was offering them for sale from his home which is across the street from his workplace.

Agents said it appeared that the man obtained the cameras and other photo equipment for other persons. He is facing an allegation of receiving stolen property. Also confiscated was a computer CPU that has been reported stolen, five video cameras, lenses, a tripod and other devices, including flashes.

Agents said that anyone who has had a camera stolen can contact the Sección de Robos y Hurtos of the Judicial Investigating Organization in San José.

Find out what the papers
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By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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

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

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

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 104
Latigo K-9

Barrio Amón cultural center to be inagurated tonight
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The formal inauguration of Casa 927 is tonight at 7 p.m.

The neo-classical structure in Barrio Amón is designed to be a gathering place for artists of all types and also a center that will impose a trademark of sorts on art work produced in Costa Rica.

The project has the support of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, the Banca Mujer and the Municipalidad de San José. Administering the property is Producciones Arcángel YV S.A.

The structure is on Avenida 11 at Calle 3 about 700 meters north of the Teatro Nacional. The project has been in operation since before Semana Santa, and a 50-seat cafe is believed to be installed there now.

The building will house 18 permanent expositions of artistic designs and 12 rotating exhibitions, said organizers. There also will be workshops and training. The ministry has declared that it is a project of cultural interest.
Casa 927
Banca Mujer photo
This is Casa 927 in Barrio Amón

Organizers expect that the house will become a center for discussion, exchanges, cultural presentations and even the sale of art. For the inauguration Galería Orlando Sotela is providing the paintings of some 31 artists, said the Banca Mujer, an agency of Banco Nacional.

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Meanwhile, Jo's son is having fun with ox carts, Volcán Poás, rafting and a new feathery friend
When one glitch leads to another and to another and another
My son is visiting, and we are enjoying each other’s company in spite of the fact that I wasn’t feeling well before he arrived and still am not and that he is here as a dental tourist.  This has not curbed Justin’s ability to enjoy doing what a tourist does when he is not in the dentist’s chair.

The same morning he was off river rafting, Amnet called me to say I had not paid May’s rental.  Since I have been dependent upon my TV and computer while housebound, I don’t want them to be turned off, even for a day.  My own adventures, while my son was off to volcanoes and rushing waters, have given me an opportunity to offer some advice to other, hapless, expats of a certain age.

I carefully planned what I would do to conserve my energy.  I would call Eric, the trusty taxista who is practically a family retainer for my neighbor and me, and have him drive me to Plaza Mayor, where I would get some money from the Bank of Costa Rica ATM, then go into that bank (not my usual branch) pay my Amnet bill and then go to the AutoMercado, buy what I needed then call Eric to take me home. Efficient and time saving.  I called Eric who took me to the ATM and dropped me off. I told him I would call him some time later.

Advice #1: Do not leave home without your cédula, passport or some ID because the only time you will really need it is when you don’t have it.

Advice #2:  Don’t lose your temper (how often have I written that!)

The ATM was out of service.  So I walked into the building and across the indoor archway to Bank of Costa Rica. I shoved the bill along with my account cards under the window to the teller.

“Identificación.”  She said.  I searched in my purse.  I had changed to a lighter purse but not put everything in it, I discovered. I tried to explain that I had been ill and so on (boring) and that my normal branch didn’t ask for my ID and I didn’t have enough money to pay in cash because their ATM was not functioning.  (Even more boring to the teller.) Two account cards two debit cards and bill, all with 
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

my name on it were not enough.  My voice got more and more poor pitiful and angry at the same time.  She was implacable.  Instead of calmly asking if I could talk to the manager, I stomped out.  Two strikes so far in my grand plan.

I shopped for provisions to feed my tall, hungry son and included some luxury items to calm myself.  Of course, at the check-out counter, the girl wanted my ID to go with my debit card.  I showed her my frequent buyer card.  She smiled and shook her head.  Then I said.  “Can you hold
the cart of my goods while I get a taxi and go home to get my ID?” (Weakly, but calm.)  “One moment,” she replied, taking both my debit and AutoMercado cards.  She came back and waved me to put my items on the counter.  I nearly leaped for joy but that would not have helped the image I had created.

As the young man was carrying my heavy bags outside, I reached into my purse for my cell phone – and reached and reached.  No phone. The case was there. That is what I had decided to put my phone in to find it more easily in my purse.  We trudged to the taxi stand.

When I arrived home, I called Eric who was free and he took me the three uphill blocks to the bank, waited while I paid my Amnet bill and withdrew some cash, then he took me home.

After that miserable unraveled plan and sojourn, I was safely ensconced in my apartment when one giant of an aguacero hit.  More driving rain than I had ever seen before. It even came in under my balcony door. And I thought of my poor son, probably drenched and miserable dodging lightning unprotected from the elements while I was, finally safe and dry with a working TV.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 104

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Fuerza Pública officers getting new boots and uniforms

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla staged a ceremony Thursday in which she handed out new boots and uniforms to Fuerza Pública officers. The delivery was meant to represent some 12,719 pairs of boots, 16,000 uniforms and 7,637 bulletproof vests that are being distributed to officers under the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Ms. Chinchilla coupled the ceremony with a call to the legislature to act on measures to provide more money for security.

Changing her point of view, Ms. Chinchilla said that citizen security is the biggest problem that Costa Rica has. She said the lawmakers should listen to the citizens.

Although the Chinchilla administration has withdrawn a bill that would have taxed casinos and other betting operations to pay for security, there still is a proposal to tax every corporation some $300 a year for police funds.

And then there is Ms. Chinchilla's overhaul of the nation's tax system that would impose a 14 percent value-added tax on transactions instead of the current 13 percent sales tax.

Ms. Chinchilla said Thursday that Costa Rica spends less on its police than its neighbors, Panamá and Nicaragua. 

The country has one police officer for every 350 residents, she said, adding that they are not distributed well. In some cases the proportion is one police officer for 750 residents or 1,200, she said. Panamá has one policeman for every 190 residents, she said.
boots and uniform
Casa Presidencial photo
Laura Chinchilla hands an allocation of boots and uniforms to Luis Arroyo, a police officer stationed in Alajuela. Watching is Walter Navarro, security vice minister.

Ms. Chinchilla has continued to relate citizen security to the number of police officers, and her administration has not proposed changes in any laws that might advance the effort against criminality.

Channel 7 television revisited the low-income La Carpio community Thursday night where there were seven policemen assigned to more than 13,000 residents. The television reporters said that all the police officers were in their station house and none were on patrol.

They reported that the number of officers will be more than doubled soon and the police vehicles that have been out of service will be repaired. The area is just west of the central city.

La Reforma prison figures in three separate developments

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prison officials have transferred the guard staff at the maximum security unit at La Reforma prison in San Rafael de Alajuela. Prisoners have made allegations of torture and beatings, and an investigation is underway.

Meanwhile, the Sala IV constitutional court has given some support to prisoners who appealed the state of their condition in the prison. One claimed he had to sleep on the floor. The other claimed the facility was overcrowded.

The court gave prison officials a year to reduce the population there.

At the legislature, the Comisión Permanente Especial de
Seguridad y Narcotráfico voted to ask the minister of Justica y Paz, Hernando Paris, to appear and discuss the prison situation.

The committee also voted to ask the minister of security,  Mario Zamora Cordero, to appear to outline plans for a $132 million loan the Chinchilla administration has negotiated with Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo. Much of the money will go to attempt to reintegrate prisoners back into society, Casa Presidencial has said. In addition, some $20 million will be for training of higher ups in the security forces at the nation's police academy.

The legislature has to approve the loan. The proposal is in keeping with Ms. Chinchilla's belief that root causes of crime must be addressed to provide security for citizens.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, May 27, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 104

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Environmental activists slain
in Brazil's rain forests

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A husband and wife team of environmental activists were shot and killed in Brazil's Amazon rain forest, just before lawmakers moved closer to approving legislation to ease restrictions on using land in the world's largest forest.

Authorities said Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed by gunmen in the northern Brazil state of Para on Tuesday. President Dilma Rousseff's office says she has ordered a federal investigation, but it was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

Both victims had received death threats from loggers and ranchers angry about their attempts to fight deforestation and protect Amazon residents who harvest rubber, nuts and other renewable resources.

Brazil is a major exporter of soy, beef, coffee and other commodities.

Wednesday, the Brazilian lower house of Congress approved a bill that reduces the amount of protected land in the Amazon, delegates enforcement to state governments, and grants amnesty for those who have illegally cleared trees. The bill still must pass in the Senate.  It also must be signed by Ms. Rousseff, who has indicated she may veto the bill if the amnesty and enforcement provisions are not changed.

Proponents say existing laws are impossible to enforce and need to be updated. But critics say the proposed laws already have encouraged illegal logging by people who assume the amnesty provisions will pass.  They point to a government announcement last week that satellite images from the past two months showed a nearly six-fold increase in land clearing compared to the same period last year.

Previously, deforestation in the Amazon had fallen to its slowest pace on record since 1988.

Closing schools reduced
swine flu in México

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In 2009, the H1N1 influenza pandemic was a major concern for public health officials worldwide. Now, a new study shows that steps taken by Mexican authorities were effective in limiting the spread of the so-called swine flu.

Officials in México ordered a range of actions designed to prevent new infections by keeping uninfected people away from those who had already caught the contagious H1N1 virus. Gerardo Chowell of Arizona State University said experts call this approach social distancing.

"Actually Mexico implemented a nationwide mandatory school closure policy. . . that affected all the school age children up to university students, all over Mexico."

The national school closures lasted 18 days. In Mexico City, even more restrictive regulations were imposed, including closing restaurants and cinemas, and canceling soccer matches and church services.

To see if these measures were effective, Chowell and his colleagues gathered data on documented influenza cases and others with flu-like symptoms. They then plugged those numbers into a mathematical model that predicts the extent of an outbreak without social distancing measures.

"We found that the measures were effective, that these measures were associated with a reduction in the transmission rate from 29 to 37 percent," he said.

That's consistent with a study of similar precautions taken in Hong Kong, where H1N1 transmission was reduced by an estimated 25 percent.

Chowell and his colleagues report their analysis of social distancing as an effective way to reduce the spread of influenza in the journal PLoS Medicine.

Money collectors to meet

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Museos del Banco Central plan another exchange of money and coffee tokens Saturday in the vestibule of the museums under Plaza de la Cultura.

The free event will open with the presentation of "10 Centavos," a book about 10 studies of Costa Rican money by  José Vargas Zamora. The event continues until 3 p.m.

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U.S. Supreme court upholds
an Arizona illegal alien law

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Surpeme Court has upheld two aspects of an Arizona law. One suspends or revokes the business license of firms that knowingly employ illegal aliens. The second aspect of the state's Legal Arizona Workers Act requries employers to take steps to verify an employee's right to work, including the use of the federal  E-Verify system.

The Chamber of Commerce of the United States and various business and civil rights organizations filed suit against the Arizona law. Several other states have passed similar laws to take advantage of a provision in federal law that prohibits “any state or local law imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing and similar laws) upon those who employ, or recruit or refer for a fee for employment, unauthorized aliens.”

That is why the Arizona law targeted business licenses.

Arizona’s licensing law falls well within the confines of the authority Congress chose to leave to the States and therefore is not expressly preempted, a divided court rules.

The case is seen as a bellweather because other cases are headed to the high court based on Arizona's efforts to enforce immigration laws, which the federal government says belongs exclusively to it. The decision, released this week, said:

The Arizona licensing law is not impliedly preempted by federal law. At its broadest, the chamber’s argument is that Congress intended the federal system to be exclusive. But Arizona’s procedures simply implement the sanctions that Congress expressly allowed the States to pursue through licensing laws. Given that Congress specifically preserved such authority for the States, it stands to reason that Congress did not intend to prevent the states from using appropriate tools to exercise that authority.

Ad rates are going up

Consultantes Río Colorado S.A., the parent company of A.M. Costa Rica, announces that it will be increasing advertising rates as of June 1. The increases, between 0 and 9 percent, will affect display as well as some classified rates.

Sales executives will provide existing clients full details. They also will point out that the company will stand behind advertising agreements made between now and June 1 at the current rates for a period of up to one year.

The company last raised rates in 2007 and held the line for the benefit of clients during the recent recession.

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