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(506) 2223-1327         Published Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 119        E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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road work on autopista del sol
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramíez Vindas
For all those doubters, yes, this really is a photo of work on the San José-Caldera highway, the Autopista del Sol. Construction crews are widening the route near Santa Ana. They started last month, and a spokesman for the contractors said that the 14 kms. of reconstructed highway would be ready by the beginning of next year. The project has had so many false starts and bureaucratic reverses that residents could be forgiven for not believing that work had started until they see it with their own eyes.

Active Arenal great for the second tourist season
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's most active volcano is giving a boost to the second tourist season in the La Fortuna area, and volcano experts report that the mountain is strutting its stuff well away from where tourists visit. At least the savvy tourists.

Arenal has been dumping ash down its sides for nearly two weeks, and some gas is being emitted. The spectacle looks more dangerous that it is, said the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica. Even though the columns of gas are intimidating, the ash rapidly is deposited in nearby areas, the observatory said.

The piroclastic flow down the southwest side of the mountain started in earnest the morning of June 6. The glowing avalanche was made up, in part, by ash deposited around the rim of the mountain since March 2007, said the experts.

When two observatory scientists visited close to the ash deposits a few days later they found chunks of rock at 500 degrees C. (about 930 degrees F.) and a fan of ash some 130 meters wide (425 feet) by 200 meters (650) deep. The ash accumulated at the point the grade of the side of the mountain became less steep.

The June 6 avalanche etched an 800-meter (2,600-foot) scar down the face of the volcano.

The slide generated some panic among tourists some 2 kms away, and the national park has been closed even though there is no threat outside the areas adjacent to the mountain.

These avalanches are not unusual. In fact, that is how the mountain has managed to grow to 1,633 meters (5,358 feet) above sea level.

The volcano has been great for tourism since
arenal slide
Observatorio Vulcanológico y
Sismológico de Costa Rica photo

Fan of ash marks the point where the slope of the volcano changes.

1968 when it sprang to life after a rest of about 500 years. Tragically, 90 persons died in that awakening, thanks to a piroclastic flow down the north side of the mountain. Hundreds of acres and three villages were covered in ash.

Now the mountain is more active and superheated material flows down the scars dug by the slides to the delight of tourists and locals alike. The earth's heat generates warm-water springs that have been turned into swimming and wading pools. Some even come with swim-up bars where a hotel employee can quickly whip up one of those drinks with a little umbrella while the mountain bubbles.

That is why many believe Arenal is a unique vacation experience. The second tourist season is the period of summer vacations in the north when students, teachers and others visit. They have shallower pockets than the visitors during the December-March high seasons, but many are headed to Arenal.

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Sudanese map
United Nations map
Map shows the disputed Darfur area

Costa Rica takes lead pushing
U.N. statement on

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and the United Nations News Centre

The foreign ministry here is taking credit for promoting a U.N. Security Council statement urging the Sudanese government and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court to ensure that those responsible for crimes committed in the war-wracked region are held to account.

Costa Rica completed a delicate and intense negotiations with the other 14 members of the U.N. Security Council to reach a "declaration that breaks the silence by the Security Council  with respect to the situation in Darfur," said Bruno Stagno, minister of Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

His ministry issued a lengthy press statement on the developments in New York.

Sudan is obligated under Council resolution 1593 of March 2005 to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court and to arrest and surrender those indicted by the court.

In a statement read out by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad of the United States, which holds the rotating presidency of the council for this month, the 15-member body also took note of the efforts made by the court’s prosecutor to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Earlier this month, the Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told the council that Sudan is deliberately attacking civilians. “Despite promises and denials, over the last five years, millions of civilians have been targeted by officials who vowed to protect them. Impunity reigns,” he reported.

In addition, despite arrest warrants being issued last April for Ahmad Harun, former Sudanese minister of state for the interior and now the minister of state for humanitarian affairs, and Ali Kushayb, a leader of a pro-government Janjaweed militia, the two men — accused of committing war crimes — have yet to be apprehended.

An estimated 300,000 people have died, either through direct combat or disease, malnutrition or reduced life expectancy, since the fighting between rebels, Government forces and allied Janjaweed militiamen began in 2003, while another 2.7 million people have become displaced.

Stagno spoke to the Security Council June 5 and said its actions in the wake of atrocities committee by Sudan were clearly insufficient. Stagno said that few on the council had heard the repeated negative reports by Moreno Ocampo.

The fighting is between the Sudanese government and its  Janjaweed militia and the non-Arab tribal residents of Darfur who support the Sudan Liberation Movement and other rebel groups.

The United States has characterized events in Darfur as genocide, but the United Nations has not gone that far.

Chiquita says banana prices
offset costs due to weather

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Chiquita Brands International Inc. reports for April-May 2008 indicate a steady increase in banana prices in all of its markets compared to the same period last year, according to a company press release issued Monday.

Officials quoted in the release said they believe this favorable increase is helping to offset the detrimental weather in Central America that has been increasing the company's product costs. Chiquita predicts the trend will continue throughout 2008.

Banana prices in North America rose 36 percent and 8 percent in Europe in spite of the detrimental effects of the weather on the company's core Central American and Ecuadorian plantations,the release said.

Guanacaste art fair hosted
by Hotel Punta Islita

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Hotel Punta Islita is hosting the second meeting of artists in its facility in Guanacaste from June 16 through the 21, according to a hotel release.

The art fair will be attended by a variety of Costa Rican and foreign artists and will include workshops and lectures regarding the theme water, land and identity, the release said.

Invited artists include Rafael Ottón Solís, Manuel Zumbado and Rolando Garita of Costa Rica, Walterio Iraheta from El Salvador and Alicia Zamora from Nicaragua. The event is open to the public, the release said.

The event is supported by the Museo Islita de Arte Contemporáneo al Aire Libre, and will coincide with the Hotel Punta Islita's 14th anniversary.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 119

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Cahuita murder probe expands with survivor as informant
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators in the southern Caribbean coast are ready to roll up one or more major drug operations, thanks to information generated after assassinations and attempted assassinations Saturday.

Agents already have jailed two police officers from the Cahuita station and a 30-year-old man with the last names of Ocampo Cordero whom they describe as a highly dangerous drug trafficking suspect.

All three have been sent to a jail in Cartago to get them out of the Provincia de Limón. The Juzgado Penal de Limón ordered that they be held for six months. All three men face two allegations of murder and two of attempted murder.  Ocampo faces an additional allegation of drug sales. The policemen, who have the last names of Angulo Durán and Cortez Madriz, face allegations of abuse of authority.

The arrests came later Saturday. A fourth man was questioned and then released.

The investigation may be related with the discovery Sunday of two men driving in the area carrying $371,000 in a briefcase. One of the men told officers that they planned to use the money to purchase bananas. But officers suspect the money was bound for the Panamá side of the nearby international border.

José Torres,vice minister of security, said that the Policía de Control de Drogas would launch a separate investigation into the money and the two persons, a Costa Rican with the last names of Hernández Mora and a Nicaraguan with the last names of Álvarez Lanza, who were held.

The discovery of the money happened in Sixaola, in the Cantón de Talamanca. Torres made reference to the judicial investigation into the Saturday murders. He said that the anti-drug police also would be investigating the deaths of the two young men to try to find the link, if any, between the money and drugs.

Fuerza Pública officers said they stopped the car containing the two men because they seemed excessively nervous, but there is the possibility that the police were tipped.

Dead are Roy Gerardo Sotela Prendergast, 23, and  Natanael Obregón Rodríguez, 17, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. Their bodies 
dollars from car
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo

Part of the money found in a car with two men Sunday.

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 was in critical care at Hospital Tony Facio in Limón.

Much of the information about drug crimes in the area is believed to have come from the surviving Ricardo Armando Dixon. He was in a car that was stopped by police early Saturday. The police delivered the occupants up to a drug gang whose members exacted revenge for reasons not yet clear. The dead men were restrained with ministry-issued handcuffs when found.

Ricardo Dixon quickly identified the two police officers involved, Torres said Sunday. But the survivor was questioned at length on related matters. He was out of the hospital Monday and presumed to be under police protection.

The area around the border with Panamá is a hotbed of drug smuggling because there is limited police presence.  The two officers who are under arrest are members of the frontier force.

Fuerza Pública officers from San José arrived in Cahuita Monday to take over policing responsibilities while the investigation continues.

Santa ana muncipal police
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
A local priest blesses the new officers with holy water.

Santa Ana gets its own muncipal police force of 30 officers
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials activated the new Santa Ana municipal police force Monday. The force numbers 24 men and six women, including the chief, Hazel Trejos.

The officers got their training at the Escuela Nacional de Policia run by the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

The municipality is investing 300 million (some $576,000) in the force. That includes two pickups, two motorcycles and an extensive monitoring camera system in the community. Eight police officers will be monitoring the 16 cameras at the principal entrances and exits to the town,
such as Salitral and Pozos. Other cameras are in front of schools and the local high school. According to the new chief, the principal problems in Santa Ana are drugs, thefts and burglaries.

Gerardo Oviedo Espinoza, the municipal mayor, said that the new force and the Fuerza Pública would work together. They are on the same radio frequency and use the same codes, he said.

The police headquarters is in San Rafael de Santa Ana, and its telephone number is 2203-5559.

Santa Ana, once a sleepy farming community, is one of the real estate hot spots in the Central Valley now with a rapidly growing population.

Twin Saturday police raids in Jacó net 31 foreigners, most of them females
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 28 woman and three men are being investigated for immigration violations after two police raids early Saturday in Jacó.

Security ministry spokespersons said that 16 Colombians, eight Dominicans, six Nicaraguans and a Peruvian were detained in the raids. The women were taken away in a bus.

The police action was a joint one among the Policía Especial de Migración, the Policía Turística, the Unidad de Intervención Policial and the Municipalidad de Garabito.

Although the report from the Ministerio de Gobernación,
 Policía y Seguridad Pública did not say so, many of the women were most certainly prostitutes working at the two bars that were raided.

Francisco Castaing, chief of the immigration police, said that the raid was in response to the uneasiness of Jacó residents with the large numbers of foreigners in the area. He said they were sources of illegal activity.

Those that were detained will have to demonstrate their legal right to be in the country. Prostitution is not prosecuted in Costa Rica, and most women who come from elsewhere to engage in that activity also have some way to make their presence here legal.  Frequently that is by marriage, false or otherwise.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 119

U.S. recalls its Bolivian ambassador over security concerns
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States Monday recalled its ambassador from Bolivia for consultations in the wake of a violent protest outside the U.S. Embassy in La Paz last week. The State Department said comments by Bolivian officials have raised questions about their commitment to protect the U.S. mission.

Officials here say they were pleased with Bolivian police handling of the June 9 demonstration. But they say subsequent rhetoric by Bolivian officials has cast doubts on their readiness to protect the embassy in the future, and because of that, U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg is returning to Washington for security consultations.

Tensions between the United States and the left-leaning government of Bolivian President Evo Morales have been on the rise amid reports that the United States has given asylum to former Bolivian defense minister Carlos Sánchez Berzain.

Sánchez Berzain was part of the conservative government of former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, which was driven from office in 2003 by public protests over, among other things, plans to export Bolivian natural gas to the United States via Chile.

While the State Department declines comment on asylum cases, the ousted defense chief recently told a Bolivian radio station he has been given asylum and is living in Florida. Former president Sánchez de Lozada has lived in the United States for some time.

In the June 9 protest, several thousand Bolivians — some throwing stones and firecrackers — gathered outside the U.S. Embassy. When some in the crowd tried to break through a police line, they were dispersed by police using tear gas.

Announcing the ambassador's recall, Acting State
  Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos expressed appreciation for the conduct of the Bolivian police but said U.S. officials are troubled by subsequent comments by Bolivian officials that future protests might not be turned back.

"We are concerned by the recent statements of some Bolivian officials that cast doubt on Bolivia's commitment to fulfill its Vienna Convention obligations to protect diplomatic staff and facilities in the future," said Gallegos. "Failure to fulfill these responsibilities would endanger both American citizens, and the hundreds of Bolivians who work in the embassy or make daily use of embassy consular and other diplomatic facilities."

Gallegos said Ambassador Goldberg's consultations will provide an opportunity to explore measures to enhance security cooperation with the Bolivian government. He gave no indication how long the envoy might remain in Washington.

An official here noted with concern that the commander of the Bolivian state police was fired last week only hours after his forces successfully fended off the move against the U.S. Embassy.

The current Bolivian government accuses the exiled former president and defense minister of ordering a crackdown on anti-government protests in October 2003 in which more than 60 people were killed and hundreds injured.

Earlier this month, President Morales called on the United States to cooperate with Bolivia in the extradition of the two men, whom he accused of serious crimes. He called it unimaginable that what he termed "the worst political figures" could be protected by the U.S. government.

Former defense minister Sánchez Berzain is quoted as saying he would be subject to torture or death if he returned to Bolivia because he tried to tackle the country's illegal cocaine trade.

Press group asks Mexican governor to lift ad boycott of two local daily papers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter American Press Association Monday charged the state government of Guanajuato in México for discrimination against the newspapers a.m. and Correo in its placement of official advertising. The newspapers claim the advertising boycott is in retaliation to criticism of government officials.

In a letter to Guanajuato Gov. Juan Manuel Oliva Ramírez, organization President Earl Maucker and the chairman of the organization’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, expressed repudiation of the state government’s attitude, declaring, “No news medium nor journalist should be punished for publishing the truth or criticizing or denouncing the government.”

“Since publishing certain reports the newspapers have been the target of insults aimed at their executives and subject to
an information boycott. Announcements by state agencies have been withdrawn in a move that has been ordered copied at the municipal level in cities run by members of the state government party”  one of the media outlets advised.

The Inter American Press Association urged Ramírez to call a halt to what it saw as the discriminatory actions. It further told the governor that “our organization regards the use of penalties to sway editorial decisions and political reporting by the news media amounts as an act of corruption” and called on him to “take into account the recommendation of the Guanajuato Human Rights Office which has called upon government agencies to establish ‘clear, fair, objective and non-discriminatory criteria’ in decisions concerning official advertising.”

Editor's Note: A.M. Costa Rica is a member of the  Inter American Press Association

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Our readers' opinion
Entire criminal code needs a revision if it lets crooks go
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I read Lair Davis' letter in this morning's edition with interest. While I can empathize with his frustration with what appears to be a revolving door in the criminal justice system that immediately releases  ". . . alleged criminals . . ." (his term), what Mr. Davis and others who complain about this phenomenon fail to consider is the provisions of the criminal code which judges administer.
If the criminal code provides for immediate release of many accused (but not yet convicted) persons, then the judges who release them are acting in concert with the law and are simply doing their job. To single them out for the ostracism that Mr. Davis proposes is unfair and fails to address the problem in any meaningful way. If the judges have no choice under the law, why do they deserve this criticism?
The legislature should consider a wholesale revision of the crimimal code in order to protect the rights and interests of both the accused and the community and to make a meaningful attempt to address the crime problem which Costa Rica and every other country faces.
David C. Murray
Grecia, Alajuela

Top ten reasons judiciary
is a badly broken system

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Although I agree with A. M. Costa Rica that most of the judges in Costa Rica probably aren't corrupt, any objective evaluation of the judicial system could only conclude that the system is badly broken.

Certainly this isn't news, and if all of the factors contributing to the breakdown are laid end to end, it isn't surprising either. Here are the Top Ten Reasons why the judiciary is a train wreck.

(1) CORRUPTION: While it may not be widespread, (yet), it can't be dismissed as a factor. While it's impossible to know how serious the problem is here or in any country for that matter, common sense dictates that the more desperate the financial reality of a nation becomes, the more likely it is that payoffs at all levels and in all branches of government will be more problematic.

(2) INCOMPETENCE: Many judges, especially at the local level, lack the training and experience that most people coming from more developed/well-funded countries would expect/hope for, should they have the great misfortune of having to set foot in a courtroom. I believe that this is a major factor in the often incomprehensible decisions we read about on a regular basis.

(3) COERCION: It's not hard to imagine that some decisions are made out of fear of retribution by the defendants, the defendants' gangs, or their large, extended families. Since the police can't protect anybody from anything, judges may choose to proactively watch their backs.

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(4) FATIGUE: I doubt that there's a judge in the country who doesn't feel overwhelmed with his/her caseload. Many may suffer from physical and psychological burnout as well as feelings of helplessness and hopelessness because of the chronic underfunding of the judiciary.

(5) JUDICIAL ACTIVISM: The penal system is overwhelmed and overcrowded. Perhaps some of the judges release criminals as a protest against the government's unwillingness/inability to deal with this problem. (If there's no room for criminals/suspected criminals in the prisons, put them in TENTS for God's sake, but don't turn them loose on the streets again!)

(6) Lack of STATUTORY MANDATES: It's understandable that first time offenders might be released until trial, but there should be laws in place to insure that repeat offenders are automatically given "preventative detention." The stronger the statute, the less likely it is that decisions to remand/not remand defendants will be rendered that are wrong/misguided/coerced/illegal. If these laws ARE in place and are being ignored by judges, these rogues should be sanctioned/dismissed.

(7) Lack of JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT: Whose job is it to review decisions and reprimand judges? Is there such a department within the government? If so, it seems as though these folks have been on an extended vacation. (Perhaps THESE are the names that should be published!)

(8) GOVERNMENTAL PRIORITIES: The government's decision to prioritize the eradication of the causes of crime, while laudable and morally correct, is much like clearing brush away from the outside of a home while the kitchen is on fire. It will take generations to even BEGIN to eradicate poverty in Costa Rica and elsewhere in the developing world. Unchecked crime can ruin the economy of a town, a region and even an entire country in a matter of years. Put the fire out first, then deal with the causes.

(9) THE CEO: Our esteemed president, Don Óscar, seems much more comfortable addressing international issues and racking up face time with the foreign press than he does getting down in the trenches and dealing with problems at home. It's time for him to toss his passport in a drawer, roll up his sleeves and GET A LITTLE DIRTY! This is a challenge of historical proportions. No country can function while saddled with a dysfunctional judiciary, (or an absentee president.)

And last but not least, (10) SOCIAL APATHY: It seems like the only time Ticos really take notice of crime is when it happens to them personally or to someone rich/famous. Otherwise, they seem to respond by just installing thicker bars and razor wire on their homes/live-in cells, trading their chihuahuas in on rottweilers, and praying that the ladrones hit someone else, preferably foreigners, who as we all know are all filthy rich and can afford to replace anything that's stolen.

Where is the outrage? In the five years I've lived here, I've seen Ticos in the street protesting the odious Revision Technica system, taxi licensing, and of course CAFTA. I can't recall a single, significant demonstration about crime in general or a judiciary that often seems to operate in a different cognitive dimension from the rest of us.

Unless/until Ticos get up on their hind legs and start putting pressure on the government to do something substantive about the issues facing the judiciary, the penal system and the police, things will only get worse. And as with any disease, the longer you wait to treat it, the nastier the cure will be.
Dean Barbour
Manuel Antonio
Guests fended off robbers
and then left the country

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We had two guests at our bed and breakfast who were robbed at gunpoint two blocks north of the Basilica in Santo Domingo de Heredia at 4:30 p.m. last Friday.

Two guys who were wearing hooded sweatshirts walked up from behind them, went ahead and turned around and then went behind them and then pulled out a gun and demanded the man's money belt that they had seen. He hollered NO! and slowly moved away from them into the street where more people could see him.

His wife stayed close to the building with her back to the wall. There were lots of students nearby who were returning from school. There were other people nearby and cars on the street. The guy with the gun never fired the gun but grabbed a small cam corder out of the woman's hand and then they ran away.

I am not sure but the fact that there were so many people around may have kept the bad guys from killing them. The guests were lucky they weren't shot, although it was clever of the guy to slowly move away and attract attention to himself by shouting NO!I 

I don't know what attracted the ladrones to our guests in the first place, but the fact that he was wearing walking shorts may have been a factor, and she was taking pictures with the cam corder.

These guests had planned to stay five weeks to learn about the culture of Costa Rica. They learned enough about the culture of Costa Rica on Friday to last them a lifetime and they left. They won't be back!

Thought you'd and others might like to learn this story and possibly benefit from it regarding a response to a gun being pointed at you, movement away from the bad guys and clothing and other actions that attract
Jim Twomey
Bibi's B and B
Santo Domingo de Heredia.

A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 119

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 119

Next Orquesta Nacional performances are Friday and Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional will perform along with the Coro Sinfónico Nacional in the Teatro Nacional Friday and Sunday, according to a Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes press release.

The event is the sixth concert of the official season.

The national symphony orchestra will be directed by Chosei Komatsu, and featured performers will include Zamira
Barquero, Karen Esquivel, Eric Hanson and Young Ju Lee, the release said.

The orchestra will perform Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5, titled “Reformation,” and the chorus will offer a rendition of Gioachino Rossini's interpretation of “Stabat Mater,” according to the release.

Tickets will cost from 3,000 to 9,000 colons, and are available at the Teatro Nacional box office. The Friday performance will begin at 8 p.m. with a repeat on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.

Columnist wins a championship in World Series of Poker
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A.M. Costa Rica columnist Daniel Negreanu has won his fourth World Series of Poker championship and walked away with $204,874, his agency has reported.

In a late bulletin Thursday night, the agency, Card Sharp Media, said that  Negreanu faced Ugur Marangoz, the Mirage poker room manager, in the $2,000 limit hold'em category. Marangoz won $126,671 for his second-place finish.

The agency said that in the final hand  Negreanu drew a 9
of  spades and a five of hearts. The flop or common cards face up on the table were five of diamonds, king of hearts and a five of spades.  On the strength of three fives, one hidden in his hand and two on the table,  Negreanu raised  Marangoz for the amount the man had on the table. When  Marangoz called,  Negreanu displayed his winning had to eliminate his opponent.

In addition to the money,  Negreanu wins a fourth world series gold bracelet.

Negreanu's weekly poker column appears each Tuesday on this page.

Rebuy tournament allows player to be wild and crazy guy
Players in a rebuy tournament have the option to purchase additional chips according to a set of rules.  Let’s use the $1,000 World Series of Poker no limit hold’em rebuy tournament as an example.

For the $1,000 entry fee, players receive 2,000 chips.  Anytime within the first two hours of play, a player having 2,000 or fewer chips on the felt has the option to rebuy.  In fact, players can even rebuy before the first hand is dealt.

At the conclusion of the rebuy period, there’s another opportunity to purchase chips.  Players have the option to buy one or two add-ons (or none at all) at the end of level two, regardless of their chip stack size.  So, if you bought chips at every time permitted, you’d be in for $4,000: the initial buy-in, the immediate rebuy, and a double add-on.

Now, some players simply aren’t prepared to risk that much money in a poker tournament.  Fortunately, playing in this type of event with the intention of not rebuying can actually be a very profitable strategy.

You see, during the rebuy period, there will always be players who gamble wildly in the hopes of building a big stack.  It’s not uncommon for some crazy players to move all-in without even looking at their cards.

While it’s certainly more difficult to win a rebuy tournament without rebuying, it is possible to get a nice pay day if you choose to limit your buy-in amount.  That’s because all of the maniacs who repeatedly rebuy can easily invest more than $10,000 in an event where a budget-minded player is in for just $1,000.  That substantially increases the payout pool and creates a great opportunity to cash in.

If you plan to use the single buy-in strategy, you’ll likely be a decent favorite when you play against one of those loose, serial rebuyers who constantly moves all-in.  The best strategy is to wait patiently for a strong hand, like A-K or even pocket nines.  Then, get your chips in the middle.  Just hope your pocket pair holds up against his J-3, A-4, or whatever trash hand he may have.

Now, if you aren’t budget constrained and your goal is to increase the odds of winning the tournament, you might choose to become a rebuy maniac yourself.  Perhaps you’ll try

to break my own World Series of Poker record of 49 rebuys in a single tournament! 

Okay, so putting up $50,000 in a $1,000 rebuy tournament may seem a bit extreme.  Instead, say you’re willing to invest $12,000.  Here’s how to do it.

Immediately rebuy for a 4,000 chip stack right off the bat.  Then, over bet the pot and gamble wildly.  With the blinds starting at 25-50, bet 500 with any hand.  If you’re raised, reraise all-in and hope to get a lucky draw.  If you outdraw your opponent, you’ll be up to more than 8,000 chips.  If not, it’s time to rebuy. 

While it’s perfectly acceptable to gamble wildly with that 4,000 chip stack, be a bit more selective when you reach 8,000 chips — but not much.  With 8,000 chips, be prepared to move all-in with a flush draw or straight draw.  A win in this situation will bring you nearer to your goal of amassing 20,000 chips.

But don’t stop there.  You can still buy a double add-on to increase your chip stack even further.

The important element of this strategy is stop the wild and crazy gambling once you get over about 12,000 chips.  With that kind of chip stack, it’s time to tighten up your play considerably.  Now it’s time to shift gears and play fundamentally sound poker.

Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, "Hold’em Wisdom for All Players."
© 2008 Card Shark Media.  All rights reserved.

Art Galleries ...

Surreal circus art leaves circle of life question open to onlookers

introvocoWandering around the Museo Calderon Guardia, looking at austere historical artifacts about the socialist former president complete with wax-work statue, the last thing a visitor expects to come across is a circus tent.

Until May 22, that is precisely what museum-goers can expect when they enter the small temporary exhibition space.

A colorful toy snake curls around the bottom of a notice board announcing “Introvoco” with two clown shoes fastened to it.

The floor is covered in a carpet of hay, giving the room a barn-yard smell, and most of it is obscured by a blue tarpaulin.

Read more - click here

Art Biennial breaks down national stereotypes

ticosynicasA work of art that involves only a metal key is among the most acclaimed piece in the Museo de Arte Costarricense's latest exhibition.

Also on display are old Caterpillar boots, a patchwork quilt and a foosball table, all aimed at breaking down the stereotypes that exist between Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans.

As Nicaraguan migration into Costa Rica continues, so do tensions between the two national groups.

The U.S. Department of State's most recent estimate was that up to 15 percent of the population of Costa Rica is made up of Nicaraguans who have migrated here mainly in search of work.

Read more - click here


Café culture uncovered in San José

Moving to a foreign country is always going to leave people craving at least something of what they have left behind. For a European, this is often the laid-back café culture — having a croissant in the sunshine on a French plaza, or hiding from the British rain with a hot mocacchino, cuddled up on a sofa.

In San José there are plenty of places to catch a coffee. A soda will give you a coffee on the run, but it won't have a nice selection of frapucchinos, and the most European lunch on offer will be the ubiquitous ham and processed cheese sandwich.

The plastic atmosphere of the proliferation of coffee shops found in city malls doesn't cut it in comparison with the artsy, individualistic establishments in which musicians, revolutionaries, poets and artists got together next to the river Seine. After one casado too many, there are, however, a few places to go for a brief retreat towards the European ideal.

Claudio's Delicafé


Arguably one of San José's most attractive buildings, this café is attached to an art school and is not afraid of letting the creativity filter through into the café itself. Previously known as Café Arte, the French owner of San Pedro restaurant Le Chandelier recently took over the café and has restyled the entire thing, very much to its benefit.

One corner of the café is a tower-like extension, its cylindrical shape and many windows giving an airy atmosphere. Wicker-backed chairs, wooden sofas and arty photography give the interior an understated style.

Click here for more café reviews

Mini-mall comes to the rescue of the not-rich-but-hungry

food courtFor those in the know, there is a clean, affordable, relatively quiet gastronomic surprise off the pedestrian mall in downtown San Jose.  Between Arenas clothing store and the Patio Restaurant, behind a perfume counter and a Pops Ice Cream sits a food court without a McDonald's, Wendy's, Subway or Church's Chicken in sight. 

Click here to read more

Festive season proves troublesome even for established restaurant

vealBeing a chef in a busy kitchen must be a pretty stressful job, but around Christmas stress is something any successful restaurant should factor in as inevitable.

On a second visit to well-reputed French restaurant Le Chandelier, it soon became obvious that the staff were poorly equipped for the onslaught of Christmas party diners on a Tuesday night, leaving the usually decent food to deteriorate into a procession of almost inedible starters and bland entrees.

Click here to read the full review

A great meal is not all in the presentation

musslesandfondue120407With a vaulted glass ceiling, palm trees lining the pathway and posh lighting, one would not expect Saga restaurant to be settled behind a dull parking lot in Escazú.

Although this restaurant may look out of place, it doesn't deviate much from the norm in Escazú, an area many would classify as suburban sprawl.

Click here to read the full review

Books ...

Heredia author mixes teen romance with leatherback turtles

book coverA 15-year-old girl who is infatuated with buff surfers and Gucci shoes is setting out to convince other teenagers her age that caring for leatherback turtles and saving the environment is just as cool as going to the mall.

Penelope, as she is called, is the creation of Heredia resident Marina Kuperman, a New York native who has recently finished the “eco-adventure” novel “Turtle Feet, Surfers Beat.”

Written to target girls aged 9-14, the 86-page novel is printed entirely on eco-friendly paper and follows the story of Penelope and her family as they relocate to Tamarindo for a month.

Forced to work as a volunteer at the Leatherback Biological Centre, Penelope, who has been recently dumped by her quarterback boyfriend, falls in love almost simultaneously with leatherback turtles and a blonde surfer called Kendall Brown.

Click here to read more

Land use in Costa Rica documented by Fulbright scholar

Forty years of living in the jungle, moving between secluded forestry stations and research labs, has led Louisiana resident and NASA veteran Armond Joyce to write a book about the changing uses of land in Costa Rica.

After winning a presitgious Fulbright scholarship in 1998, he came back to Costa Rica to revisit forest sites that he worked on over three decades earlier as a graduate student.

Click here to read more

New book dwells on the social aspects of food

Food is not just a selfish pleasure or a way to stifle hunger, but is central to the evolution of art, according to a new book published by Museos del Banco Central.

Artworks by Costa Rican painters are the main content of the hardback book, “Imagenes para Comer,” which follows the representation of food in art since still life painting became popular in the Renaissance.

Click here to read more

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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