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(506) 2223-1327               Published Friday, June 4, 2010,  Vol. 10, No. 109        E-mail us
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Huffinton Post, Amazon and other sites seem to promote sex tourism, as defined by proposal
Chinchilla administration moves against sex tourism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government wants to jail anyone who promotes Costa Rica as a sex tourism destination. That is part of a lengthy proposal for a trafficking-in-persons law that Casa Presidencial has kept on ice for more than a year but authorized its publication in the La Gaceta official newspaper Thursday.

The measure also seeks to raise the airport exit tax from $26 to $27 with the extra dollar going to support a new Instituto Nacional contra la Trata de Personas.

In a summary of the law, which is being sent to the Asamblea Nacional, those who drafted the document report that there only were two cases of sexual exploitation and two cases of labor exploitation in the last decade. In all, the authors said, there were 50 related cases in the last decade and at least 14 that involved trafficking in persons.

News files show only three major case. One was in 2003 when police found nine children, two weeks to 20 months old, at a La Uruca home. They were on their way to adoptions in the developed world. The legislation proposed Thursday also covers what it calls irregular adoptions. This year investigators found Asian fishermen working in what they said was servitude on boats in Puntarenas.

There also was a case in México in which two Costa Rica women said they were tricked by promises of good jobs to go there and then they were forced into prostitution.

Since a new immigration law went into effect in 2006 trafficking in persons has been punishable as a crime. The immigration law that went into effect March 1 continues that penalty. But some of those facing that charge have been individuals caught driving a car or microbus filled with willing Nicaraguan illegal immigrants.

The summary of the proposed legislation says that the real statistics of human trafficking are much higher and hidden.

The proposal also would provide temporary residency and other benefits to those considered victims of trafficking organizations. Some 20 percent of the proposed institute's budget is allocated as a fund for victims. The protection goes so far as to forbid disclosure of complainants' names or to facilitate interviews with the news media. In court cases, trafficking complainants would testify in private. If they are under age, even the suspects would be barred from the testimony, under terms of the proposal.

The edict against sexual tourism is so broad it probably will not withstand constitutional review:

Article 8 of the proposed Chapter Three says that anyone who promotes or carries out programs, campaigns, publicity announcements, making use of any medium to project the country at the national and international level as a tourist destination accessible for commercial sexual exploitation or
prostitution of persons of whatever age or sex shall be penalized with from four to eight years of prison.

The following article expands the range of suspects to those who own, rent, possess or administer an establishment or place designed for or benefiting from the trafficking of persons or related activities.

As always, there are definitional problems with the law, in part because prostitution is not prosecuted here and many persons adopt that lifestyle willingly.

The proposal defined trafficking in persons as promoting, facilitating or favoring the entrance to or exit from the country or movement within the country of persons of whatever sex to do one or various acts of prostitution or to submit them to exploitation, sexual or labor dependency, slavery or similar practices to slavery, forced work or service, submissive marriage, begging, illegal extraction of organs or irregular adoption.

By that definition the major airlines are vulnerable to the stipulated six to 10 years in jail. But elsewhere in the body of the proposal is a series of definitions in which situations like forced pregnancy, forced prostitution and forced labor are defined. Promotion prostitution of underage individuals is penalized with longer prison terms, under the proposal.

The proposal provides that those arrested for these crimes cannot bargain their way out of the case through the usual judicial conciliation process. No punishment is ordered for those who are described as victims even if they committed crimes as a consequence of the trafficking experience.

The proposed law appears to have been put in final form in 2009. Then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez and Janina del Vecchio, the security minister at the time, signed the document. However, the documents seems to have been studied by the Comisión Especial de Seguridad Nacional, which was headed then by the current president, Laura Chinchilla. There was no mention of the proposal until Thursday.

There was no explanation why Casa Presidencial sat on the document for so many months.

As with all proposals, legislative committees will study it, make changes and additions and many not even vote on it.

Casa Presidencial said that the bill was a product of a national coalition that included input from the United Nations and International Organization for Migration.

President Chinchilla said during her campaign that she saw casinos as centers of prostitution. If passed, this proposal may be used as a weapon against casinos, bars and other locations that allow prostitutes to solicit business.

Usually unmentioned are the many illegal houses of prostitution that dot the metro area and the nightclubs where prostitution is tolerated


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 4, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 109

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


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Another use explored
for Costa Rican coffee


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

At the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, one of the nation's four public universities, a researcher, Patricia Arguedas, is working with a project to produce a fermented beverage from coffee.

The coffee liquor took a prize from the Centro Nacional de Innovaciones Biotecnológicas, and the researcher will have financial support for 18 months as well as needed equipment for the idea.

The product is said to be akin to wine, although the university said that they were not calling it that because wine comes from grapes. However, there are various types of non-grape wines, such as Japanese rice wine, saki.

The product is expected to be less alcoholic than that of the well-known Café Rica, the coffee liquor produced by the Licorera Nacional that is 63 proof.

Night raiders blast away
at cattleman's Upala home

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Assailants threw two homemade bombs and perforated an Upala home with some 40 bullets shortly after midnight Thursday.

The couple and child inside were not injured seriously. The home is in Santa Clara de Upala in northern Costa Rica.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that four men began blasting away at the home. Inside were a man with the last name of Murillo, who is 50, and his 28-year-old wife and 11-year-old daughter.

The assailants punctuated the gunplay with two homemade bombs they threw into the home. The subsequent damage was reported to be substantial.

Murillo suffered bullet wounds in January when someone fired on his vehicle while he was traveling in Santa Cecilia de Upala. He is a cattleman.

All three residents suffered superficial bullet wounds and were treated in the Hospital de Liberia. Police collected 40 shell casings, some from heavy weapons.


Tribunal road show ready
to provide youth cédula

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones is opening an office to Puriscal June 25 and in Golfito July 26 so that minors there have a chance to apply for their Tarjeta de Identidad de Menores, a youthful version of the cédula carried by those over 18.

The identity card for minors is obligatory for those from 12 to 17, the tribunal noted, as it announced its pilot program in the two communities.

There are 13 regional offices of the Tribunal, but none is in Pursical or Golfito.

Artist will meet visitors
at Liberia gallery opening

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Art lovers can meet artist Johnny Aguirre Saturday at the Hidden Garden Art Gallery in Liberia. He is a visual artist who started to study photography in 2000.

He works with both old and new techniques, such as oil, hand-tinted photography, canvas, and photography woodcarving, in order to explore the different art expressions of fine art photography, fractal art, and expressionism, said the gallery.

The title of Costa Rica's show is "Nature Magic."


Bard still working his magic
with U.S. juvenile offenders


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

For most American teens, performing Shakespeare is an optional activity. For some teens in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, the course is mandatory.

"Some people are here for worse reasons than others. I'm here because of assault and battery," says Tim, 15.

Tim is among 12 teens sentenced by a juvenile court judge to participate in the Shakespeare in the Courts program. "The judge sentenced me here, so my first thoughts were, 'Shakespeare is not my thing. I'd rather not.'"

Kevin Coleman is director of education for Shakespeare and Company theater in Lenox, Massachusetts. He was first approached to develop a theater program for students more than 30 years ago by Paul Perachi, the principal of a local high school. Perachi later became the first presiding juvenile court justice in Berkshire County.

"When I became a judge," Perachi says, "I thought, these are the same kinds of kids I saw as a principal, they just come before me under different circumstances." He thought that working with professionals at Shakespeare and Company would help them develop self esteem, communication skills and manage their anger.

The first group of teens went through the program 10 years ago. Since then, more than 200 kids have been sentenced to Shakespeare, and the program has received wide-spread recognition.

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A.M. Costa Rica 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 weekday.

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.

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.


For your international reading pleasure:


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 4, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 109

Despite tourist exodus, central Pacific returning to normal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tropical waves, which have been an abstract meteorological concept, became all too real for the central Pacific coast. 

The region from Golfito to Jacó took it on the chin Tuesday night as one wave passed through. High winds downed trees and telephone lines and probably did millions of dollars of damage to the tourism industry.

That was tropical wave #8. Then #9 came through Wednesday bringing more rain and even some to the Central Valley.

The region was not expecting a strong Tropical Wave #10 that hit the area about 2 p.m. Thursday. More trees went down and emergency crews that were trying to restore lights and telephones found they had more work to do.

Now the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional says that Wave #11 is en route.

These waves are troughs of low pressure aligned in a north-south direction that sweep across the tropical latitudes from east to west. Generally they do not bring heavy downpours and tree-breaking winds.

Despite the latest wave, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad reported it had restored electrical service to 11,460 customers by 4 p.m. Thursday. Still without power were about 4,540 customers, the company said. A portable power generating station has been installed near Quepos to augment the grid.

The principal work areas were in Quepos, Parrita and
Manuel Antonio. The company said that it expected to have service restored to the Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio by midnight. The park, a key tourist attraction, has been closed because of the downed lines and damaged trails at least until Monday.

With the park closed and highways a mess, tourists quickly abandoned the area leaving the local tourism operators wringing their hands.

The situation was better in Jacó where the electric company said it restored power to 4,540 customers within 24 hours of the first storm.

In the last report from the company at 5 p.m. it said that 3,100 land line telephone customers still were without service and that 750 Internet users still were disconnected. Some customers were without service simply because workmen could not reach them.

The company reported access problems in Los Santos, Mastatal, Zapatón, La Juana and La Gloria de Puriscal between Puriscal and Parrita.

The weather institute said that Tropical Wave #10 was continuing to affect the region through the early morning hours.

The national emergency commission said that Wednesday night and Thursday morning there were incidents of flooding in Barrio San Martín de Nicoya and in Nandayure on the Nicoya Peninsula. There also was another wave of flooding in Gofito.

A weather alert continues in force.


Batán chemical blaze results in massive killing of fish
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A building and tanks at an agricultural mixing plant in Batán burned in a spectacular, smoky blaze Wednesday, but the real damage was not obvious until Thursday. Thousands of fish, most of them small, in the surrounding streams died because the chemicals at the plant entered the surface water.

Firemen reported they had a tough time battling the blaze because the chemicals changed into poisonous fumes and they had to put on protective gear.
There was about 42,000 liters of several kinds of fungicides that were released by the fire. Firemen said they believe the blaze started from a welder's torch. Environmental ministry workers walked the various streams that were fed by water sources near the plant Thursday.

Many of these small streams provide protection for young fish before they are large enough to go into the nearby Caribbean Sea.

The extent of the damage has not yet been assessed.


The café goes downhill, but the transportation is looking up
More than once I have lamented the fact that San José lacks sidewalk cafes.  They have them at the beach communities, but in the Central Valley they are few and far between.  However, there has been a sidewalk café just a block from my apartment, a small soda with six tables on the slightly slanted tile patio in front.  I used to stop by occasionally for lunch or to pick up a piece of chocolate cake from the choices of goodies in their display case.  That was a few years ago.  It has changed ownership several times since then with each new owner/cook less talented than the last one with business reflecting the situation. 

Remembering that I used to do most of my writing at sidewalk cafes, I decided I should at least try it again.  I was hoping for a midmorning cappuccino and croissant (or equivalent) to supplement my fruit breakfast.

Unfortunately they served only café con leche and a choice of a typical Tico breakfast of eggs, frijoles and potatoes or rice or the ubiquitous ham and cheese sandwich.  Gone were all those tempting goodies that the first owners featured. I wish I’d known that.

There was one other person sitting at a nearby table having a coffee when I ordered my café con leche, settled myself at a small table and took out my pen and pad.  The highlight of the morning was seeing a tiny white car turn the corner.  On the side of the car was printed "electric."  The young man at the other table and I both smiled (hard not to when you see the car) and I commented that it was the first electric car I had seen in Costa Rica.  He said that he had seen several in Curridabat and that they were imports from India.  I later learned that the embassies of Switzerland and the United Kingdom are using them to run errands in and around the city. It would be a good idea if ICE, the national electric company, would substitute them for their fleet of cars. More electric cars in the city would means less pollution and less noise. Most of the electricity in Costa Rica is generated by its own clean energy producers like wind, water and steam. 
It’s nice to know that. 

But I was happy to see that Costa Rica, which may lag in many areas on its way to being a developed country, is moving along with the big guys when it comes to things
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

like transportation, the illnesses caused by smoking, recognizing that obesity is a problem here and the importance of recycling including the waste products of technology that are contaminating the waters and threatening the health of its fish and people.

However, there is one modern idea where Costa Rica has been in the vanguard, and that is the realization that the wealth of a country starts with and depends upon the good health and education of its people, not vice versa.  And that war is neither an effective way to settle differences, nor (except for a military industrial complex) is it healthy or profitable for its people. (This does not mean that Costa Rica is free of violence or deaths perpetrated by people living within the country.)

I was with a group, all expats, this week when the talk came around to moving to Costa Rica.  For some of us, high on the list of reasons we moved here was the fact that Costa Rica does not have a military.  And we laughed when we discovered that when we mentioned this to people from our own country, the question always arose, “What will Costa Rica do if it is attacked?” or “Sure Costa Rica doesn’t need an army because the U.S. will come to its defense.”  Our answers were also the same:  “Why would anyone invade Costa Rica?”

Later I decided to investigate how many times Costa Rica has been invaded by a foreign country.  Other than a brief undeclared war between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in the 1970s, the only country since the beginning of the 20th century that has invaded any Central American or Caribbean country has been the United States.

I didn’t know that.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 4, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 109

Escazú Christian Fellowship
xx
Guoadalupe Missionary Baptist Church


Three events will mark U.N. World Environment Day

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.N. World Environment Day is being celebrated in Costa Rica in Puntarenas, San José and San Pedro.

In Puntarenas, young volunteers of the Cruz Roja will be at work early Saturday cleaning beaches and receiving
material for recycling. The estimated 50 volunteers will be getting help from Universidad Nacional students.

In Montes de Oca, the observance will be for two days, today and Saturday. The Colectivo Consumo y Comunicación Alternativa plans a festival beginning today with the showing of films that discuss the mining industry and the pineapple production. The films are in the auditorium of the Universidad de Costa Rica law school.

Saturday the same group is putting on an outdoor event starting at 9 a.m. in front of the Colegio Vargas Calvo. There will be face painting, clowns, a presentation by the Fundación Internacional Capoeira Angola and discussion of sustainable agriculture.

The most ambitious event is a three-day one in San José. It begins today with a presentation on global climate change at 4 p.m. in the auditorium of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.
environmental logo


Saturday, organizers plan a large planting of trees in the Parque Los Conejos in Rohrmoser. The purpose of the tree planting is to assist Costa Rica in reaching its goal of carbon neutrality by 2021, said organizers.

An outdoor final day, a festival, is planned for Sunday on Paseo Colón. President Laura Chinchilla will be present Sunday morning. The festival has the support of many government and non-government organizations.



Acosta sex scandal sweep results in the arrest of 11 males

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators say that eight or more men and three juivenile males took sexual advantage of two teen sisters, now 11 and 14, for more than a year.

The eight, ranging in age from 14 to 45, were detained in El Tablazo de San Ignacio de Acosta Thursday, More arrests are possible.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the two girls were frequently home alone because both parents worked. The men would meet them at a nearby river, 
agents said. Investigators were tipped off by a teacher at the girls' school last August.

The Poder Judicial identified the adults by the names of Rivas Araya, Mora Navarro, Arias Fallas, Ramírez Mora, Araya Ríos, Rojas Padilla, Mora Navarro and Mora Garro.

The girls are now under the care of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.

There was no indication that the girls were molested against their will. Because of their ages that does not make a difference.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 4, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 109

Medical vacations in Costa Rica


Coffee effects dismissed
as being just an illusion


By the University of Bristol news service

The stimulatory effects of caffeine may be nothing more than an illusion according to new research, which shows there is no real benefit to be gained from the habitual morning cup of coffee.

Tests on 379 individuals who abstained from caffeine for 16 hours before being given either caffeine or a placebo and then tested for a range of responses showed little variance in levels of alertness.

The study, published online in the journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, reports that frequent coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing effects and the stimulatory effects of caffeine.  While frequent consumers may feel alerted by coffee, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal.  And given the increased propensity to anxiety and raised blood pressure induced by caffeine consumption, there is no net benefit to be gained, researchers said.

Peter Rogers, from the University of Bristol’s Department of Experimental Psychology and one of the lead authors of the study, said: “Our study shows that we don't gain an advantage from consuming caffeine — although we feel alerted by it, this is caffeine just bringing us back to normal. On the other hand, while caffeine can increase anxiety, tolerance means that for most caffeine consumers this effect is negligible.”

Approximately half of the participants were non/low caffeine consumers and the other half were medium/high caffeine consumers. All were asked to rate their personal levels of anxiety, alertness and headache before and after being given either the caffeine or the placebo.  They were also asked to carry out a series of computer tasks to test for their levels of memory, attentiveness and vigilance.

The medium/high caffeine consumers who received the placebo reported a decrease in alertness and an increase in headache, neither of which were reported by those who received caffeine. However, their post-caffeine levels of alertness were no higher than the non/low consumers who received a placebo, suggesting caffeine only brings coffee drinkers back up to 'normal'.

The authors also found that the genetic predisposition to anxiety did not deter coffee drinking. In fact, people with the gene variant associated with anxiety tended to consume slightly larger amounts of coffee than those without the variant, suggesting that a mild increase in anxiety may be a part of the pleasant buzz caused by caffeine.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, June 4, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 109



Latin American news
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Holloway murder suspect
faces new charge in Perú


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The young Dutchman linked to the disappearance of an American teenager five years ago has been detained in Chile in connection with the murder of a woman in Peru.

Chilean officials say 22-year-old Joran van der Sloot was taken into custody Thursday while traveling by taxi from Santiago toward the coastal area of Vina del Mar.

Van der Sloot entered Chile earlier in the week.  Chilean authorities say they are awaiting instructions from their Peruvian counterparts on how to proceed.

The young man, who traveled to Peru last month for a poker tournament, is suspected in the death of 21-year-old Peruvian Stephany Flores.  Her body was found Wednesday in a Lima hotel room registered to him.  Police have a  videotape showing them together at a Lima casino late Saturday. 

In the United States, federal prosecutors in Birmingham, Alabama Thursday filed a criminal complaint against van der Sloot on charges of wire fraud and extortion. 

The complaint accuses him of trying to extort $250,000 in return for promising to reveal the location of the body of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teenager who disappeared May 30, 2005 while visiting the Caribbean island of Aruba.

The complaint against van der Sloot does not name the person paying the money.  The extortion charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Van der Sloot was twice arrested in the highly publicized disappearance of Holloway, who was 18.  Her body has never been found.  Prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to charge anyone.

Investigators say the woman in Peru was killed exactly five years after Holloway vanished during a school trip to Aruba. 

The Peruvian's father, Ricardo Flores, welcomed van der Sloot's arrest and blamed the Dutchman for her killing.  A funeral service was held for her Thursday in Peru.

Jail asked in drive-by killing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The juvenile prosecutor in Alajuela has asked the Juzgado Penal Juvenil to jail a youngster for two months while an investigation continues in a May 28 murder.

The victim, Eliécer Brown Vega, 27, suffered the wounds in San Rafael de Alajuela when someone shot him from a moving car. The victim was talking with friends at the local soccer field at the time, agents said.







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