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(506) 2223-1327        Published Monday, June 16, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 118        E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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Traffic crash was just the start of her suffering
By Jeremy Arias
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For Melissa Ardire the reality is pain. Plenty of pain. And there does not seem to be any immediate relief as the Nosara woman's body fights to heal a broken spine.

Ms. Ardire, an American citizen, and her 23 month-old son, Alex, were hospitalized early last week when she lost control of her rental car near the Puente de Amistad over the Río Tempisque east of Nicoya.

Ms. Ardire, 33, broke her lower back in the crash, but that was only the beginning. Friends reported that passing motorists robbed her of all of her money, passports and the rest of her possessions before an ambulance could arrive.

Alex, who was in a car seat at the time of the accident, suffered only minor injuries when the two were thrown from the car, according to her friends.

Ms. Ardire, an employee of the Frog Pad rental business in Villa Tortuga, Nosara, and her son were taken to the Hospital de Nicoya.

Later they were transfered to the Hospital de Liberia and eventually flown by a chartered flight to Hospital México in San José Wednesday after family members from the States arrived in Costa Rica.

Ms. Ardire and her son were on their way to catch a flight back to the United States to renew her tourist visa when the accident occurred, said friends. The New Jersey native and single mother, does not have insurance in either Costa Rica or the United States, according to friends who distributed messages on the Internet to obtain help for her.
Doctors operated on Ms. Ardire Thursday. She  was in stable condition Sunday afternoon, according to hospital attendants. Ricardo Micali, a friend and employee of NosaraNet, an Internet
cafe located in the same building as the Frog Pad, said she is still in intense pain, and is not receiving adequate pain medication.

“The problem now is since she woke up from the operation she has been in agony,” Micali said. The operation, aimed at resetting Ms. Ardire's spine, lasted six hours. “We assumed that it was normal, but they also said they were probably going to put her in a wheelchair but here we are, more than 48 hours later and she's still in agony.” He also said a back brace was a possibility.

Micali said that, due to Ardire and her family's inability to communicate with the Spanish-speaking medical staff, Ms. Ardire was initially uncooperative. Only after Micali intervened by telephone from Nosara could the hospital staff set up a temporary morphine drip.

“Nobody was able to give her anything that gave her any relief,” he said, “Yesterday an anesthesiologist came by and they put her on a drip. That was the only thing that gave her any relief and that ended at 4 a.m.” 

Ms. Ardire's family has offered to pay for pain medication themselves, Micali said, but were told that was not possible. The family is currently awaiting the return of the doctor overseeing Ms. Ardire's case today. They are unsure what needs to be done to alleviate her pain or how long she will need to remain in San José. The family plans to move Ms. Ardire to a rehabilitation clinic in the United States, Micali said.

Several friends and well-wishers of Ms. Ardire have announced plans to raise money for Ms. Ardire's rehabilitation and hospital expenses.

Police officers are suspects in twin Cahuita murder
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública and security ministry officials are taking steps today to beef up the security in the southeastern part of the country after a cloud of suspicion fell on officers in Cahuita and elsewhere.

At least four Fuerza Pública officers are suspects in the kidnapping and murder of two young men. Although the officers are not facing murder allegations, they are suspected of capturing four young men early Saturday and then delivering them to the killers.

Dead are Roy Gerardo Sotela Prendergast, 23, and  Natanael Obregón Rodríguez, 17, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. Their bodies  showed signs of torture with a knife, and one nearly was beheaded. The wrists of both were fastened with ministry-issued handcuffs.

Two of the four were injured. They are the brothers Alexánder Dixon Obregón, 22, and Ricardo Armando Dixon Obregón, 25. Alexander Dixon is in critical care at Hospital Tony Facio in Limón. His brother is ambulatory and is believed to be the man who identified the policemen as suspects. Officers presume that both men evaded death by pretending they were dead. The two brothers are cousins of Natanael Obregón.
The murders took place in a bamboo thicket in the vicinity of Bocuare. The Fuerza Pública regional office in El Valle de La Estrella fielded a 911 call about 5:45 a.m. Saturday.

José Torres, vice minister of security, said that the policemen from the Cahuita station were detained on the strength of the testimony of the surviving  Ricardo Armando Dixon.

Two were identified by the last names of  Cortés and Angulo. Agents detained a  third police officer, who has not been identified, later Sunday. A fourth officer is believed to be a fugitive.

Both survivors are under police guard at the hospital.

The officers detained the four men after they stopped their car early Saturday, according to unofficial reports. After being held at the Cahuita station, the four were believed to have been handed over to gang members from Bribri.

In the yard of one officer, a buried bag yielded $80,000 in cash, leading investigators to believe that the killings had some relationship with the drug trade.

The Caribbean coast is a drug transit area.

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detained Nicaragua suspect
Ministerio de Gobernación Policía y Seguridad Pública photo

Couple wanted in Grenada
detained by agents here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents from the International Police Agency and police tactical squad members arrested a Nicaraguan couple suspected of murder in their home country. The arrest took place in Paso Ancho Friday, according to an Interpol press release.

The suspects, Mauricio Pilarte Romero and Norma Alemán Romero, are wanted in Granada, Nicaragua. They along with two of their four children, were detained without resistance in a taxi in which they were riding, according to the release.

The Nicaraguans are suspects in the April 13 murder of 63-year-old Matilde Alberto Berroteran Silva. They are also suspected of stealing $2,000 from the victim.

Two other suspects, Pilarte Romero and Sandino Alemán, were arrested earlier in connection with the same crime, said Interpol. The body was discovered in a vacant lot the day after his murder, his hands and feet tied, according to the release.

The couple had been detained May 1 in Linda Vista de Patarrá by the Policía Especial de Migración officials, but Nicaragua had not yet applied for a provisional arrest and extradition warrant, so they were released.

The couple's four children were placed into the custody of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia following the initial arrest in May, but the suspects, who constantly changed addresses to evade authorities, eventually kidnapped the minors from the family they had been placed with near Tres Ríos, the release said.

The suspects are now under the authority of the Tribunal Penal de San José. The two children with them at the time of the arrest are back in the custody of the national children's organization. Officials of the Judicial Investigating Organization are attempting to recover the remaining two children, according to the release.

Our reader's opinion
Reader wants to have
name of criminal judges

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Almost every day we read another article about a judge in Costa Rica releasing an alleged criminal so that he can return freely to his criminal activities on the street. Or we hear of a judge who has released another drunk driver without even suspending his license to drive.

Or a judge who has permitting another miscreant to continue to drive his truck or automobile even though he has killed someone while recklessly driving.

In many of these news stories reporting crime, the last name only of the alleged criminals is given — fairly useless information, wouldn't you say? And another way Costa Rican-style justice protects the country's growing population of criminals.

What is conspicuous in its absence in all of these news reports is the name of the judge who has permitted another criminal to go free — the CORRUPT judge. (Let us call it what it is!)

I suspect this reticence in publicizing the names of corrupt judges is because of the fear of libel laws. Well, we all know how likely it is for that law to be changed in Costa Rica, so I do not expect to read the names of these corrupted judicial officials any time soon in any media.

However, is there not somewhere one can go (preferably on the Internet) to find a list of the names of the judges in this country? Do we, the citizens and residents and tourists of Costa Rica, not have the right to know the names of our corrupt neighbors?

Can we not — at the very least — hold these corrupt scoundrels up to ridicule and the disgrace that they deserve by secretly whispering to our friends and neighbors, "See that guy over there. He is a judge. So, of course, he is totally corrupt! Do not befriend him or assist him in any way. Avoid him and his entire family at all costs!"
Lair Davis
Grecia de Alajuela
EDITOR'S NOTE: We cannot accept the notion that the bulk of the judges here are corrupt. There are many reasons criminals are released. The concept of "innocent until proven guilty" has been a guiding theory in American-Anglo jurisprudence as well as the Napoleonic code here. And the truth is that the prisons are overcrowded.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 16, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 118

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Suspect would be surprised at how they got this evidence
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here's the downside of being a drug smuggler:

If they catch you, there is a chance that your internal organs will show up in a police press release.

That is what happened to a 25-year-old man with the last names of Rodríguez Sibaja. The Alajuelita native was on his way to Havana and then Paris and Barcelona Friday morning when something he ate did not agree with him at the Juan Santamaría airport.

Investigators say that what he ate was a series of small packages of liquid cocaine. 

Agents said that he began showing signs of drug intoxication at the airport, and when they interviewed him, he threw up three 10-gram packages of the drug.

Smuggling drugs by ingesting small amounts usually wrapped in condoms is a frequent event at any major airport. But the Policia de Control de Drogas said this is the first time they have seen cocaine in a liquid form being transported this way.

They are taking credit for saving the life of the 25-year-old. As soon as police suspected what was going on, they took Rodríguez to a hospital.

Surgeons operated and a security ministry photographer shot the operation from start to finish. The photos then
drugs in stomach
Ministrio De Gobernacón, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
All of these packets of a suspected drug were taken from the interior of a drug-smuggling suspect.

were e-mailed to newspapers along with the report of the arrest.

A check of local Spanish-language newspapers shows that none used the very graphic photos of surgeons digging deeply for the drugs. In all, the medical team extracted 86 packages. Police estimate that the drugs recovered will be nearly a kilo or 2.2 pounds.

The ministry said that Rodríguez could spend 20 years recovering. He will face an allegation of international drug smuggling, the ministry said.

Foundation plans a march against prostitution in Jacó Friday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fundación Rahab plans a march Friday in Jacó to draw attention to the trafficking of humans in Central America.

The organization said the march will begin at 9 a.m. in front of the Best Western Hotel. Marchers will end at the municipal building in the south end of town, an announcement said.

The foundation launched an anti-prostitution program in the Jacó area in 2006, in part with money provided by the U.S. Embassy. The project is “Prevention, Protection, and Direct Attention for Victims of Human Trafficking in the Central Pacific Region,”  the foundation said.

Regarding the march, the foundation said in a release: "We
 desire for this to be a collaborative effort of the community in order to show our unified protest against absurd violations of human rights, so we invite you to join this effort in the capacity that you feel able."

The organization also said it was seeking donations and volunteers to help with the effort.

Jacó is a center of prostitution in Costa Rica, although most of the sex workers there seem to be doing so willingly.

In San José the foundation works with former prostitutes to provide them with marketable skills.

Rahab is a biblical figure who lived in Jericho and helped the Israelites invade the city and then gave up her profession. 

Fake passport with photo of prisoner causes officials to suspect a jail break
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The photo of a Mexican detained a year ago in Rohrmoser showed up in a fake passport in the possession of a woman last week, leading officials to think that something might be afoot.

The woman, identified by the last names of Sandoval Doñán is now in preventative detention for two months, according to the Poder Judicial.

The man involved, who was detained in May 2007, has the
last name of Malaña. He was arrested in the same police action that resulted in the confiscation of some 2.2 tons of cocaine. The Poder Judicial said that the woman was involved with the Sinaloa drug cartel in México.

Officials speculate that the woman and some associates were in Costa Rica in an effort to free the man from prison. Jail officials took the precaution of moving the man to a more secure location, they said.

Although the passport had the photo of Malaña, all the other details, including the name, were false, officials said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 16, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 118

California man sent to U.S. in Costa Rica child sex case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Cuba's Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores said Saturday that the country has turned over to U.S. authorities a man wanted as a suspect for sex crimes in Costa Rica.

Cuban officials identified the man as Leonard B. Auerbach.
suspect extradited
Leonard B. Auerbach
He is an Orinda, California, mortgage finance expert who faces a  child sex tourism charge.

The extradition generated a lot of news coverage because the event was seen as a softening of Cuba-U.S. relations.

The charges against Auerbach stem from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement probe that began almost two years ago. Search warrants,
including one executed at his Orinda residence, showed that Auerbach traveled to Costa Rica approximately 40 times between 2003 and 2007.

According to court documents filed in the case, during those searches, agents discovered computers and thumb drives containing images of Auerbach with a minor female in various stages of undress. Data embedded in those digital images indicated they were taken as early as September 2004, when the child was only 12 years old. The girl is now 16. Auerbach is 61.

Cuban officials said that Auerbach arrived May 7 from
México. They said there was no evidence that he had committed any crimes in that country.

Auerbach was declared a fugitive April 17. Auerbach was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, California, for arraignment April 9, 2008.  He never appeared for court and his whereabouts were unknown.

The case affidavit also includes excerpts from conversations that were secretly recorded in July 2007 in which Auerbach refers to his "girlfriend," acknowledging her age and having sex with her. In those conversations, Auerbach also comments on pictures he took of the girl when "her clothes are off or half on."

"This case is yet another reminder that pedophiles mistakenly believe they can evade detection and prosecution by committing sex crimes outside the United States," said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office of investigations in San Francisco. He made the comments when the agency went public and asked for the help of the public.

Cuban police arrested Auerbach May 7. Officials there said that the allegation against the man were grave and involved a crime against which Cuba was fighting aggressively.

Traveling internationally for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with a minor by an American citizen is a crime U.S. officials prosecute even if the act happened overseas.

Chavez says he will visit Havana today to see his friend Fidel
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez says he plans to visit his close friend and ally Fidel Castro in Cuba today.

Chávez made the announcement during his regular Sunday television and radio programs.  The reason for his visit is not known.
Chávez last met with the former Cuban leader in March.  That visit took place shortly after Castro turned over power to his younger brother, Raúl, after nearly 50 years.

Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since July 2006 when he underwent intestinal surgery.  He has, however, appeared in videos and photographs, and articles attributed to him have been published in the state-run media.  

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Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


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.


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.


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.

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U.S. politicians wrestle
with crude oil options

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Amid record-high gasoline prices, America's energy future has emerged as a major issue in this year's U.S. elections. Democrats and Republicans are offering markedly different plans to address the issue.

Like people in many countries, Americans love their cars and the freedom to travel wherever and whenever they please. But a surge in gasoline prices is squeezing family budgets and forcing many people to alter their driving habits.

With anger rising across the country, U.S. politicians are responding with a flurry of proposals. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's plan focuses on increasing U.S. oil production by authorizing drilling in, among other places, an ecologically-sensitive region in Alaska. She is a Texas Republican.

Speaking on the Fox News Sunday television program, she argued that, at a time when global oil output barely matches demand, it makes no sense to forgo opportunities to boost crude supplies.

President George Bush has also urged expanded drilling in Alaska, but leaders in the Democratically controlled Congress say it would take years before the initiative actually yielded oil, and the added production would only marginally boost domestic supplies.

More fundamentally, Democrats say the long-term key to addressing America's energy needs is not to scour the earth in search of finite reserves of fossil fuels, but to stress conservation while redirecting consumption towards alternative energy sources.

Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota also appeared on Fox News Sunday. "We have got to address renewable in a very significant way. Yes, we should produce more, we should drill more, but you cannot drill your way out of this," said Dorgan. "We have to have a different energy mix because 60 percent of our oil now comes from off our shore. This is all about change."

Gasoline prices have continued to rise, despite a leveling off of U.S. consumption as Americans drive less and rely more on public transportation. 

That fact has led some to argue the real culprit behind the current spike in oil prices is speculation by energy investors. Some lawmakers in Washington are calling for stricter regulations on energy trading markets as well as new taxes on oil companies that are enjoying record profits.

The presumed presidential nominees of both major U.S. political parties oppose expanded Alaska oil drilling and say the United States must change its energy consumption habits. In addition, Republican John McCain is proposing a temporary lifting of federal gasoline taxes to ease the strain on Americans' wallets. 

Democrat Barack Obama says the savings would be minimal and would rob the government of funds needed for road construction and other infrastructure projects. Instead, Obama has proposed a $1,000 tax cut for middle-income earners.

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U.S., Canada among the winners in World Cup qualification
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Bermuda, Canada, Jamaica, México, Panamá and the United States triumphed in their first-leg encounters of 2010 World Cup Qualification Stage 2  Sunday.

Ali Gerba scored twice and Issey Nakjima-Farran added another for Canada in the 3-0 win over the hosts, St. Vincent & The Grenadines at Kingstown’s Arnos Vale Playing Field, while second-half goals from Jared Borgetti and Carlos Vela led México to a 2-0 victory against Belize at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Elsewhere, Luis Tejada scored the only goal of the match for Panamá as the team defeated visiting El Salvador, 1-0, at the Estadio Rod Carew in Panama City, while three goals from Brian Ching and two more by Clint Dempsey helped the United States to an 8-0 home win over Barbados at Carson’s Home Depot Center.

In other first-leg encounters, John Barry Nusum scored both goals for Bermuda in the 2-1 road victory against Trinidad & Tobago at Macoya’s Marvin Lee Stadium. Luton Shelton had two goals to lead Jamaica to a 7-0 win
 over visiting Bahamas at the National Stadium in Kingston, and the Netherlands Antilles played to a scoreless draw against the hosts, Haiti at the Stade Sylvio Cator in Port-au-Prince.

The road for Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Assocation Football teams to the World Cup South Africa 2010 continues this week with the last first-leg encounter of Stage 2 as Antigua & Barbuda hosts Cuba in St. John’s Tuesday. The second-leg match-ups for Stage 2 World Cup Qualification are scheduled for Wednesday through Sunday.

Honduras will join the other 11 winners from Stage 2 in the Semifinal Round of the World Cup Qualification that will be composed of three groups of four teams with matches running from Aug.20 to Nov. 19.

The top two from each of the three groups will advance to the six-team Final Round scheduled for Feb11 to Oct. 14, 2009.

The top three teams from the Final Round in 2009 will automatically qualify for the 2010 World Cup.   

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