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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 116                           Email us
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Family and friends trump media for information
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Citizens here are closely tied to family and friends when they seek information but most also believe that liberty of expression is a reality.

Despite the Internet, television is still the dominant medium through which residents here receive information. Still when that question was asked in 2003, only 3 percent of those interviewed mentioned the Internet. Now the Internet is cited by 70.9 percent of those questioned, and social networks are cited by 43.1 percent.

These findings come from a survey done last October by the Instituto de Estudios Sociales en Población at Universidad Nacional and the journalists' professional group, the Colegio de Periodistas. Results were released this year.

The goal was to learn the perceptions of Costa Ricans and other residents with more than two years in the country about media of communications.

When 82 percent of the respondents needed to seek information for an important decision they went to family or friends, according to the results that are published on the Colegio Web site. Not only that, but 80.2 percent of the respondents said they trusted family and friends the most.

Television was in second place, cited by 73.4 percent of the respondents as the source for information on an important issue. Publications were cited by 62.8 percent.

Some 50.9 percent said they would use the Internet to seek information for an important decision. And 30.5 percent said they would see their clergyman.
Who would you trust the most to form an opinion on a matter of national concern?
Friends and family
Universities and similar
TV news
Radio news
Political parties
Source: 2001 survey by Estudios Sociales en Población at Universidad Nacional and the Colegio de Periodistas.

As is usually the case in such surveys, government, legislators and political parties fared badly in trust. Government was trusted as a source of information by 20.1 percent, legislators by 16.5 percent and political parties by 16.3.

The telephone surveyors contacted 400 persons. They also wanted to know if those who answered the calls thought the news media was censored. Some 213 persons, 61.9 percent, thought there was at least some censorship, mainly by supervisors, the powerful or by fear of reprisal.

Yet 89.7 percent said that liberty of expression was either partly a reality or totally a reality in Costa Rica. Just 6 percent said this was not true.

The institute and the Colegio have been conducting surveys like this for 10 years, in part to help with training.

Increases approved for fares on the valley rail line
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's price regulatory agency rejected price increases from 14 to 39 percent proposed by the agency that operates the urban trains. Instead, the agency approved an average of 10.27 percent.

The Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles wanted the higher fares. The Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos said a technical analysis did not justify increases of this degree.

To ride the entire valley line from Curridabat to
Pavas will cost 50 colons more, some 490 colons or about 99 U.S. cents.

The Heredia line fare is being increased from 380 colons to 420 colons, and the Heredia-Universidad Latina route will cost 460 instead of 420. These are one-way fares.

The regulatory agency noted that seniors ride for free, but the regulatory agency wants a report on the number of seniors who take advantage of this service. The new rates go into effect when they are published in the La Gaceta government newspaper.

Some break in rains predicted likely by Wednesday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's weather experts are predicting a slackening of the rain after two days of soaking for some areas.

The Instituto Meteorological Nacional said that there have been accumulations of from 15 to 70 millimeters of rain from Sunday afternoon.

The rain was not intense but steady.

A low pressure system in Panamá has moved north bringing the intermittent rain to the Pacific coast and the northern Caribbean.

Earth University in Guácimo reported 44.9 millimeters of rain since 7 a.m. Monday. That's about 1.8 inches. The airport at Limón reported 69.3 millimeters or 2.7 inches. San José had 16.7 millimeters or seven-tenths of an inch by midnight, according to the automatic weather station in Barrio Aranjuez.

The national emergency commission is standing by. Despite the absence of Atlantic hurricanes, local
rains have been highly damaging in May and June in other years.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said that the only reported damage was to a bridge over the Río Banderas in La Roxana de Pococí. The commission's central office in Pavas is hooked up to hundreds of local stations that cover the entire country.

Rivers continued to rise early today, and the potential for damage depends on the quantity of rain that falls this morning.

The weather institute said that a return to typical weather is likely by Wednesday. That means clear hot mornings with afternoon rains. Until then, the rain is expected to continue off and on throughout the day.

One area of great concern is the Ruta 1856 that has been ripped into the landscape along the Río San Juan in northern Costa Rica. Most of the roadway still is bare ground highly subject to erosion.

If mud pours into the river, the potential for an international incident with Nicaragua exists.

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Defensora says country
needs more regulation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The defensora de los habitantes, Ofelia Taitelbaum, told lawmakers Monday that the government has lost control of certain aspects of national development.

She spoke specifically about women who had received suspect breast implants did not receive adequate response from health officials. These are the PIP implants that are believed to contain a grade of silicone that should not be used in humans.

The defensora said that health was a right and that the women were not capable of assuming the responsibility and concern for the future.

She said that the health officials had the power to take action against the private entities, mostly clinics that had inserted the faulty implants.

She is scheduled to continue her discussion today before the full legislature. She is expected to continue her request for more laws and governmental oversight of private firms.

She is a former legislator and holds a position that is basically the nation's ombudsman, an office that is supposed to hear citizen complaints and use power of persuasion to solve them.

Vice President Piva goes
to CIMA for treatment

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's first vice president was hospitalized Monday afternoon after suffering an attack of high blood pressure.

He is Alfio Piva Mesén, and he chose to go to Hospital CIMA in Escazú instead of one of the public hospitals.

Casa Presidencial said that he was taken to the hospital by his bodyguards who are with him most days. The vice president was reported to be in stable condition with the expectation of remaining 24 hours in the hospital.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

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
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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The color of the dots represent the magnitude of the quake. Red signifies a quake of from 7 to 8. There are just four of these in Costa Rica and one in nearby Nicaragua.

Yellow means from 6 to 7 magnitude. Green means from 5 to 6. And blue means from 4 to 5.

These are quakes that could be felt by humans. There were many more smaller quakes during the 1973-2012 period.

quake map
Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingenieria graphic

May averaged six earthquakes a day and 185 total, scientists say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats who like their martinis shaken and not stirred are in the right place.

The Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica reported Monday that the country experienced 185 earthquakes in May. That's an average of six quakes a day.

Most were not felt by humans. The Red said that just 4 percent, some seven quakes, were strong enough to be felt.

Some 70 percent of the quakes were less than 30 kilometers deep. None of the quakes caused significant damage.

The latest felt quake was about 11 kilometers (6 miles) southwest of Liberia in Guanacaste. That had a magnitude of
3.9 and took place at 12:48 p.m. Monday, said the Red.

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingenieria at the same university estimated the magnitude at 4.0. The epicenter was about eight kilometers inland from the Pacific coast.

All three of Costa Rica's earthquake monitoring agencies have noted that the area around Quepos is a location of frequent quakes. Some of the quakes reported in a graphic that covers 1973 to 2012 are the result of local faults. But there also is the subduction of the Coco Tectonic Plate under the lighter Caribbean Plate on which most of Costa Rica rides. These are the plates on which continents move above the earth's molten magma. There also is the Nazca Plate and the Panamá Block to the south that cause quakes. An area of frequent activity is at the Costa Rican border with Panamá.

Labor representatives seek a 6 percent hike in minimum wages
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Labor representatives are seeking what amounts to a 6 percent salary increase when minimum salaries are established by July 1.

They come to the table at a time when employers report that they are not ready to make any new hiring for the next few months. And they come at a time of uncertainly when a proposal to put a stiff tax on casinos and gambling call centers might be an undetermined number of Costa Ricans on the street.

The labor representatives, including members of the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Obras Públicas y Transportes come armed with data that shows inflation may be 3.5 percent in the first half of the year. They also are trying to make up
 for a less than 4 percent raise that was established for the six months beginning Jan. 1.

The Consejo Nacional de Salarios will make the final determination. Employees have yet to be heard from, but the inflation figures based on data from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos generally carry considerable weight. The institute said that inflation in May was .99 of a percent. Much of the increase was due to transportation costs.

Employers also are leery that the Asamblea Legislativa, now controlled by the party of President Laura Chinchilla, will resurrect the massive tax plan that was shelved after the Sala IV questioned the way it received first approval. The court did not rule on the content of the tax plan that calls for a value added tax with expanded coverage to raise $500 million from the citizenry each year.

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art work montage
“Supervivencia” by Juan Ramón Bonilla (1910)                        “Yolanda” by Margarita Bertheau (1943).
Costa Rican art works will be featured in New York expo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Six Costa Rican works of art by five artists will be represented in an exposition that will run until January in three museums in New York. The exposition is called “Caribbean Crossroads of the World,” and it opens today. Taking part are the Museo del Barrio, Queens Museum of Art and The Studio Museum of Harlem.

The works from here that will be on display are “Supervivencia” by Juan Ramón Bonilla (1910); “Bananales” by Teodorico Quirós (1945); “Yolanda” by Margarita Bertheau (1943); “El olmo que dio peras” (1936) and “Nación libre y soberana, en sentido figurado” (1937) by Emilia Prieto and “Homenaje a Monseñor Romero” (1983) de Rafael Ottón Solís,

The works are from the collection of the Museo de Arte Costarricense.

The exposition will feature 400 works by 350 artists to show the influences of Europe, North America and the Caribbean in the transformation of the region.

Said the Museo del Barrio:

"The exhibition Caribbean: Crossroads of the World is the
 culmination of nearly a decade of collaborative research and scholarship organized by El Museo del Barrio in conjunction with the Queens Museum of Art and The Studio Museum in Harlem. Presenting work at the three museums and accompanied by an ambitious range of programs and events, Caribbean: Crossroads offers an unprecedented opportunity to explore the diverse and impactful cultural history of the Caribbean basin and its diaspora. More than 500 works of art spanning four centuries illuminate changing aesthetics and ideologies and provoke meaningful conversations about topics ranging from commerce and cultural hybridity to politics and pop culture."

The other artists represented are a litany of modern masters, including Paul Gauguin, John James Audubon and Héctor Hyppolite.

The exposition is divided into six sections that address different aspects of the region. Said the Museo:

The exposition reflects on the economic developments of the Caribbean, focusing on the shift from plantation systems and commodities such as sugar, tobacco, and banana to the energy and tourism industries, which have had tremendous aesthetic and social impact while proving to be a source of wealth and conflict.

Local artist will show how he captured beaches and beauty
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican artist Hernan Peréz Peréz will bring his unique vision of the country's beaches and vegetation to a show that opens Saturday at the Hidden Garden Art Gallery west of Liberia.

The show runs until Aug. 3. Peréz works with oils on canvas, and the show is titled "Eyes of the Soul."

As a child, not a day went by where he was not drawing something:  scribbled fishing boats, waves smashing against cliffs, the beach, and images of the estuary and mangroves, said the gallery in announcing the show, adding:

“As he explored his talent, he entered the workshop of the Austrian painter Herbert Birkner, where he learned the art of enameling on copper and numerous other techniques. With the strong spiritual connection to the earth and living in a country with fascinating ecology, he has become convinced that his art must have a relation to this environment that shapes and molds us.” 

The artist himself says “while having a strong spiritual connection to the earth and living in a country with fascinating ecology, I have become convinced that my art must have a relation to this environment that shapes and molds us.  Anything else would be going against the tide.  Many tourists fly here to take a quick glance at our jungles and wildlife, meanwhile, for me its all so close and easily accessible.  I always thank God for this. Today, trees, bromeliads, flowers, vines, birds, waterfalls, frogs and butterflies fill my work.  And in a magical and poetic act, I try to restore the world that my grandparents lived in and reinvent the Promised Land.”

Art critic Paul Solano Jimenez said:

“To define Perez's paintings formally or conceptually is not an easy matter.  His long career of experimentation in media and styles has been a constant.  His works range from the almost 'naive' in its early stages, to photorealism in some of his current work passing through intermediate stages where he nods to such disparate things as the Flemish school and pop.  Through such stylistic eclecticism and continued study,
working on the beach
"Dos pescadores y turista"

"Cristina y su mundo"

Pérez developed a refined technique, which allows him to achieve his formal artistic goals without any problems.”

The opening Saturday is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with the artist present. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is located five kilometers west of Daniel Oduber airport, For more information those interested can call 8386-6872 or visit

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Key kiddie porn Webmaster
indicted in New Jersey

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey announced the indictment of a Ukrainian man in what they called the most significant child pornography investigation ever, one that has led to 560 convictions in the U.S. so far.

Thirty-three-year-old Maksym Shynkarenko made his first appearance in a federal court in New Jersey Monday following his extradition from Thailand, where he had been jailed since 2009. He faces 32 counts related to allegedly founding and operating child porn Web sites from Ukraine that drew Internet customers worldwide from 2003 to 2008.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman told reporters that the videos and images showed the victimization of children ranging in age from infants to teenagers. “What we’re talking about are images, pictures and videos of the brutal sexual assault and torture by adults of children preserved for the later gratification of strangers," he said.

Fishman said that 560 American subscribers to Shynkarenko’s Web site, in 47 states, have already been convicted in the investigation, which began in 2005.

At least 20 were actively molesting children, according to the Homeland Security investigator special agent in charge, Andrew McLees. “These predators come from all walks of life. Several of those were prior sex offenders, law enforcement, doctors, teachers, coaches, attorneys, clergy and other positions of public trust," he said.

The investigation began with the arrest of a New Jersey man, officials said. McLees said that agents discovered Internet credit-card payments on the man's computer to fake businesses with names like “Ad-Soft,” that were actually for child porn Web sites.  “During the forensics examination of his computer, our agents saw the lead back to the Ukraine, and that’s where they dug and dug, until it led to all these people," he said.

Officials said the pornography allegedly distributed by Shynkarenko was made by individuals around the world, making identifying and helping the victims almost impossible. Three other co-conspirators from Ukraine and Russia, whom officials refused to name, are also involved.  Shynkarenko will be arraigned Wednesday, and is being represented by a public defender.

Police in Chile break up
protest against 'Pinochet'

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Riot police in Santiago used tear gas and water cannons to break up a protest against the screening of a new film honoring the late right-wing Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Some of the demonstrators carried signs proclaiming Pinochet a murderer as they tried to storm the theater and tackle Pinochet supporters. Police say 64 people were arrested and 22 injured.

The film “Pinochet” traces his rise to power. His grandson, Augusto Pinochet Molina, spoke at the screening.

Pinochet seized power in a U.S.-backed 1973 coup that overthrew the democratically-elected socialist president Salvador Allende.

Thousands of political opponents were killed or disappeared during Pinochet's 17-year-long rule. Thousands of others were jailed or tortured.

Pinochet supporters credit him with creating a thriving economy in Chile and stopping the country from becoming communist. He died in 2006.

Illegal immigrant students
lobby for aid in New York

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Millions of illegal immigrants have been drawn to the United States by employers looking for cheap labor.  Those who came with their parents as young children grow up culturally indistinguishable from their American-born peers.  But they are bluntly reminded of their status as undocumented outsiders when they apply for college financial assistance. A group of such students is trying to remedy the situation in New York State.

They are lobbying for passage of the New York DREAM Act, legislation that would make undocumented students eligible for college loans.  

The day began with a chartered bus ride to the state capital in Albany.  Melissa Garcia says dire economic circumstances in her native Colombia forced her mother to come to the United States 11 years ago.  “There are many undocumented youths who are brought here as early as six months.  They are babies.  They were not aware they were being brought, so going back is not a solution.  They do not know the language, they do not know their country.  This is what they call home," she said.

“People want to know who we are," she said while leading a chant.

The sponsor of New York's DREAM Act, State Sen. Bill Perkins, said the measure would lead to enactment of the federal DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to undocumented students. “I think it will sort of light the movement, the flame of support, that I think will trigger similar DREAM Acts throughout the country and alert the national legislature, the government, congresspeople and the president that it’s time to pass the DREAM Act on the federal level," he said.

The students plied the corridors of the state capitol building, reminding legislators that college graduates pay an average of $3,900 more in taxes every year than others.  But aides substituting for the state representatives appeared lukewarm.

Assemblyman Steven Englebright expressed understanding for undocumented students, but noted, “Even if they are capable of making significant contributions to this society, the initial political reaction is a negative one from some quarters.”

Those quarters are the State Senate, where the Republican Party holds the majority.  Many Republicans nationwide oppose assistance to illegal immigrants.

The students ended their day in Albany disappointed.  Their protest in the speaker’s office brought no immediate result.

Approval would make New York the fourth state after Texas, California and New Mexico to grant college assistance for undocumented students.

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Health officials want to bar
tobacco speakers at forums

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The tobacco industry’s interests are irreconcilable with those of public health policy and, therefore, the industry should not participate in discussions on health, concluded a group of tobacco control experts meeting to examine the industry’s tactics for lobbying in the Americas.

On World No Tobacco Day the Pan American Health Organization called on national leaders to be extra vigilant against increasingly aggressive attacks by the industry intended to undermine tobacco control policies.

Tobacco control experts explored the tactics that the tobacco industry is using in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in the United States, and their similarities with those of the alcohol industry.

Jon Andrus, deputy director of the health organization, called on the countries “to protect public health from tobacco industry interference.” He noted that when it comes to measures to combat the tobacco epidemic, “there is one very powerful industry that is not happy.”

“It should come as no surprise to encounter a tobacco industry that continues to undermine our public health attempts to save lives,” said Andrus. “There is an irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and the interests of sound public health policy. So it becomes even more important to stand our ground in this critically important area of work, saving more lives more rapidly with good public health policy.”

“We have enough evidence to know that the industry should have no place at forums where health issues are being discussed,” said Adriana Blanco, the agency's regional advisor on tobacco control.

Stella Aguinaga-Bialous explained some of the tactics that the tobacco industry has used in Latin America and the Caribbean. The efforts have intensified since the 2005 entry into force of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In addition to litigation in national courts, she described the industry’s investments in social causes to improve its public image, secret meetings with government officials or political leaders to discuss the terms of tobacco control litigation, and the use of third parties, such as services associations and anti-tax citizens groups, to espouse its interests.

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Tobacco-Free Kids Campaign, offered some examples of this interference in the United States, which includes litigation in state courts arguing that restrictions on tobacco advertising violate the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. “This shows the industry’s willingness to invoke the First Amendment in areas where it has never been used before,” he warned.

He also drew attention to the offensive being waged in commercial courts “designed to challenge government tobacco control policies,” as well as the offensives that have been unleashed in several states that are attempting to tax tobacco products. “Public health interests and those of the tobacco industry are irreconcilable,” affirmed Myers.

For his part, David H. Jernigan, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, pointed out that the alcohol industry has learned a lot from the tobacco industry, particularly in using corporate social responsibility, looking for evidence-based arguments, and seeking out associations with the public health sector to defend its products. He noted that they are placing their bets on global expansion.

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