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(506) 2223-1327               Published Thursday, June 17, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 118        E-mail us
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A bucket of babies
They're giving the green iguana a little bit of help
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An iguana captive breeding program at the Kèköldi Wak ka koneke indigenous center has released over 36,000 green iguanas into the wild in its 22-year history, says Duaro Mayorga, one of the group’s members in charge of the operation.

Populations of the species are under constant threat over much of its wide range in the warmer parts of the Americas, as rural people claim the meat “tastes just like chicken.” Most Costa Ricans turn their noses up at it however, and blame Nicaraguan immigrants for hunting them.

Mayorga said there is a fair bit of hunting even in the tourist area around Cahuita and Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast.

At any given time there are about 500 eggs under incubation in warm sand, all laid in March. Parents give no attention to the young after eggs have been laid.

Adults eat the leaves and flowers of various local plants and trees, as well as ground corn concentrate sold as chicken food. The newly born young eat the same flowers and more tender leaves of the same plants. No insects or protein supplements are needed even for the growing young.

Large iguanas seen in protected areas spend much of their time basking in the sun to keep their body temperature high enough to digest a high-cellulose diet. They are often seen above rivers where they jump from substantial heights if in danger.

When swimming, the legs are not used and propulsion is with the tail like an alligator.

Females are mature and start laying at 3 years of age, though the captive-bred iguanas are freed at 2. Most go towards maintaining the populations in Parque Nacional Cahuita and the Manzanillo-Gandoca wildlife refuge, though some are released on to private holdings if those are adequate for the needs of the animals, Mayorga  
iguana keeper
Photo by Daniel Martinez of Kekoldi
Duaro Mayorga handles one of the newborns. Inset shows a nest of eggs.

said. A few have been taken to other areas on the

Pacific side of the country with similar climates. This species, Iguana iguana, is not the same as the close relative Ctenosaura similis often seen in Guanacaste. The latter is usually called garrobo in Costa Rica. It is more mobile and predatory and isn’t under the same population pressures as the green iguana.

For $2 tourists can see the farm, though Mayorga said they plan to fix it up a bit and raise the price. This fee covers the operating costs of the program.

The entrance is just past the Abastacedor Las Cruces, which is itself about 200 meters towards Puerto Viejo from the Bri Bri turnoff. Visitors can turn on a gravel road and the center is on the left about 100 meters.

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Our readers' opinions
Employment costs hurt
plans for development

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I read with great interest your story on Laura Chinchilla's speech on competitivity and open pit gold mining. I would like to comment on both.
First, Costa Rica's economy currently depends largely on tourism and expat retirement. There are some important technology and medical device companies here and a high level of education, but much of the changes we have seen over the years have come from the flood of people from other countries buying and building. This has created, unfortunately, a disparity of wealth. In response to that the Costa Rican government has created increasingly expensive and restrictive employment laws. As an international businessman, I was stunned to see the amount of guaranteed vacation and bonus to an employee which effectively doubles (or more) their wage. This along with rising crime rates, lack of security, and especially the ease of suing your employer will work against the president's goal of turning Costa Rica into a "developed country." Laura's goal is admirable, but to achieve it will take a fundamental change in both criminal and employment laws. 
As a retired entrepreneur and also a biologist, I was also surprised to hear that both the courts and also your staff seemed to be favoring the use of open pit mining in an environmentally sensitive area. Lets face facts: the reason many people visit and live here is the beauty of the country and especially its reputation of environmental responsibility.
Open pit mining literally rips the ground apart and chemically separates gold from the earth. Some of the pits are so large they can be seen from space. The gold is separated using a sodium cyanide solution. It takes as much as 30 tons of dirt and rock to yield a single ounce of gold. Imagine the size of the open pit. Gradually the pit is filled with water which contains cyanide, arsenic, sulfuric acid, and cadmium and finally abandoned. There is a risk of the pits leaking (think runoff in rainy season) and contaminating ground water, causing health and environmental catastrophe. Just research the reputation and history of the industry.
Your article attempted to compare this mining practice to running over a few animals on the highway or a developer having to cut down bushes on his lots. That is ludicrous. Allowing the practice of open pit mining, or if Sala IV loosens environmental regulation too far, will severely impact Costa Rica's beauty and reputation.
Eric Wilkinson

Potential is in nature
not in obsolete system

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to your editorial analysis regarding "competivity" in Costa Rica.

The complete impotency of the most powerful government on the planet in the wake of one the largest man-made environmental disasters in world history should serve as a wake up call to the government of Costa Rica.

Costa Rica – translation: "rich coast" – is a magnificent land of natural wonder, and beauty. The greatest potential for "developed' nation status here, is not by despoiling  what is it's greatest asset, but by protecting it. That the saying:"pura vida" is the national epithet, is not by coincidence.

Costa Rica has a no-brainer here. As the "developed" world founders under the weight of an obsolete system of consumerism and exploitation of dwindling natural resources, the value of unspoiled natural beauty rises. What is needed first is a clear recognition of the need for environment protection, as the top national security priority.
The tourism sector is currently reeling from rampant over development, caused by a lack of cohesive planning, and implementation by the government. Once a clear master plan is in place, there needs to be the will, and the means to implement it, and police it.

Gold prices rise and fall. What good is money, after the  environment is laid to waste? Oh and incidentally, I was unable to find the word "Competivity" in the dictionary.

Hari Singh Khalsa

Willy Dieter Krauskopf,
12.01.1946 / 13.06.2010

On June 13th, 2010, our beloved father, grandfather, husband & friend, Willy Dieter Krauskopf, the founder of Lucky Bug B&B, Gallery & Caballo Negro Restaurant in Nuevo Arenal, Tilaran, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, passed away in his home with his family after a long, hard 10-year battle against cancer. He was married to his wife, Monika, for 43 years, raised his three triplet daughters, Kathryn, Alexandra & Sabrina. He was there to see his grandson Ian William Krauskopf.  He lived his life to the end with all the love in his heart. He will be missed and in the hearts of everyone who knew him. He was 64 years old.

His funeral will be held this Sunday, June 20th, at the Christian Church across from the Guatuso road, Nuevo Arenal, Guanacaste.

Rest in Peace, Daddy, for we all are with you in this life and the next.

Monika, Kathryn, Alexandra, Sabrina & Ian Krauskopf

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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 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.

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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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 118

Krav maga
Rock and Roll

culture montageBand photos by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud. Dances by the Asociación Cultural Signos Teatro Danza
          Banda de Guanacaste                                'Un Día Menos'                            Banda de Puntarenas
Bands and dancing inmates highlight the cultural schedule
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The culture scene is getting a little crowded this month.

There is are fiestas of music in Puntarenas and Liberia Sunday and Monday.

The Banda Nacional de Alajuela presents its own Fiesta de la Música in the Mall Internacional Monday at 6 p.m.

The VI Festival de Guitarra Joven starts Friday and runs through Sunday in Cartago.

A Liberia art gallery has another opening this weekend.

And 15 women prisoners from El Buen Pastor are going public with their dance spectacular June 25 in San José. Admission is free.

The women prisoners, from ages 22 to 55, have a year-long schedule booked at other prison facilities. But the public show will be at the Teatro de la Danza of the culture ministry at 2 p.m. The show is aptly titled “Un Día Menos.”

Valentina Marenco and Ofír León of the Asociación Cultural Signos Teatro Danza originally planned a workshop of a few days for women prison inmates in 2008. That has turned into a three-year project. The first performance is for the 560 other inmates at the Desamparados women's prison Friday.

The group also will perform in public Oct. 26 at Teatro Nacional's Teatro al Mediodía.

The spectacular is reported to be full of color but with a hard theme: The lives of these women in prison.


The 28 musicians of the Banda Nacional de Guanacaste will perform Sunday in the Parque de Liberia at 7 p.m. The band will be accompanied by 185 students of the Escuela de Música of that province.

On a non-musical note "Silks of Paradise" will open Saturday at the Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport. Artist Wendy Tayler, a long-time resident of Costa Rica, is exhibiting her silk paintings which are inspired by Costa Rica's diverse tropical wildlife and lush flora.

"These are beautiful works of art that can be displayed in so many different ways, and even worn! Her work captures so many aspects of the vibrant nature of Costa Rica." said the gallery. Gallery hours are 9 to 3, Tuesdays to Saturdays.


The Banda Nacional de Puntarenas promises Latin American music, jazz and movie themes in an hour concert 10 a.m. Monday in the gym of the Liceo José Martí in that Pacific coast town. The band contains 21 members.


The Cartago event brings together young musicians for three days of concerts to show the public the development of their skills. The event is dedicated to the classical
Banda de Alajuela
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud
Banda de Alajuela

silk painting
Hidden Garden Art Gallery photo
Wendy Tayler's toucan on silk

guitarist Guillermo Dittel Marín who is in the first generation of musicians who benefited by the program that started in 1990 under the supervision of Juan de Dios Trejos, a professor of music.

The event is in the Casa de la Ciudad of the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica. General admission is 2,000 colons with students paying 500 colons less.

Also on the program are the Cuarteto de Guitarras Nitsuga and the Orquesta de Guitarras of the Universidad Nacional of Heredia.


The event in the Alajuela mall Monday also is part of the Fiesta de la Música, which started in France in 1982. The Banda Nacional de Alajuela has 30 members, and one of the works that will be presented has been created by Luciano Eliécer Pérez, a band member. Gabriel Campos is the conductor. Broadway selections and the "Dance of the Hours" are in the program.

Employer representatives propose a 3.96% salary increase
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Employer representatives proposed a 3.96 percent increase in the minimum wages in an appearance Wednesday before the Consejo Nacional de Salarios. That is about half of what employee groups suggested Monday.

The Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado said its wage proposal was based on inflation computed by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos with an adjustment for June, which is not yet in the statistics.

The chamber said it reminded the council that 45,000 employees have lost their jobs since August 2008 due to the economic downturn. It said that the impact has fallen unequally on various enterprises.
Each percentage point added to the minimum salaries also results in additional costs for employers who must pay the higher social fees to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, the chamber said.

The council will hear next week a proposal from the central government as to what the raise should be. Each salary in Costa Rica has its own minimum, and even traffic and other fines are linked to a minimum monthly salary, which now stands at 230,000 colons, about $434.

The employer proposal would mean a raise of about 9,100 colons or about $17 a month for that job category, which is for an office worker.

The new salaries will go into effect July 1 and will not be changed until new computations are made for Jan. 1.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 118

Escazú Christian Fellowship
Guoadalupe Missionary Baptist Church

Agents say they smashed major cocaine transport ring

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug police conducted sweeping raids Wednesday at 13 locations and detained 14 persons.

Counting individuals detained earlier this year, 18 persons, including three women are in custody. Agents said the group was organized to move drugs through Costa Rica using vehicles with hidden compartments. Agents said the group was affiliated with the Familia Michoacan, the feared Mexican cartel.

Confiscated in the operations were 248 kilos of cocaine and $171,500. Also confiscated were 12 cars, three motorcycles, a quadracycle and 14 firearms.

Raids took place in San Vito de Coto Brus, San Ramón, Pérez Zeledón, Palmares, Alajuela, Hatillo, Zarcero, Sarchí and Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said the arrests were linked to earlier cases in which persons were detained and hidden drugs were uncovered. Two persons were detained Feb. 10 in Miramar de Puntarenas and 969 kilos of cocaine were confiscated. One man was detained May 7 and 49 kilos of cocaine were confiscated in Quepos. Another man, a motorist, came into police hands June 15 at the checkpoint at kilometer 37 of the Interamericana highway. A woman was detained Feb. 11 at Juan Santamaría airport with nearly $250,000 in cash.

The Poder Judicial said that 18 persons in all are in the judicial system linked to this group.
Those arrested Wednesday are Mexican and Costa Rican. Two Mexicans, a father and son identified by the last names of Bautista Bautista and Bautista Martínez, were described as leaders of the operation who had been sent from Mexico to supervise.
drug haul
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública

Part of confiscated drug haul is unloaded in Alajuela

Costa Rican men under arrest were identified by the last names of Salazar Trejos, Umaña Jiménez, Venegas Cruz, Navarro Rojas, Campos Rodríguez, León Paniagua, Padilla Briceño and Cruz Bermúdez. Two Costa Rican women were identified by the last names of Jiménez Jiménez and Reyes Reyes. Two other Mexicans have the last names of Zarate Luis.

Anti-drug agents allege that the Costa Ricans played various roles in the operation. One of the women maintained a place to store drugs. Others were in charge of enlisting fishing boat captains to move drugs on the ocean.

The ring would move drugs from southern Costa Rica to storage locations where the substance would be held for later shipment.

Calderón makes national speech seeking public support

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has urged his nation to support the government's war on drugs, calling it a fight for the nation's future.

In a nationally televised speech late Tuesday, Calderón pledged to continue his battle against drug cartels because, in his words "it is a fight that, together, Mexicans will win."

Calderón blamed growing drug use in the United States for the upsurge in violence in México.  Experts estimate that about 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States passes through Mexico.

The speech comes as a dramatic spike in drug-related violence that has swept the country, with hundreds killed in recent days.  Monday, 10 federal police officers were killed in an ambush in the western state of Michoacan.

And Tuesday, Mexican troops killed 15 gunmen during a shootout in the southern state of Guerrero.
An estimated 23,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Calderón took office in December 2006.

Also on Tuesday, Mexico announced new controls on cash deposits of U.S. dollars in an effort to combat money laundering and crack down on cartels.

Mexican Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero outlined the plan, under which Mexicans with bank accounts will be able to deposit up to $4,000 in cash monthly through their financial institutions.  Small business owners in tourist regions will have higher limits. 

Tourists and Mexicans without accounts will be limited to transactions of up to $1,500 per month.

Cordero says the move is consistent with a strategy to combat not only drug trafficking but organized crime.

Mexico's government estimates that about $10 billion of cash deposited per year into the nation's banks is of suspicious origin.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 118

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Two more U.S. suspects
held in franchise scam

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two U.S. citizens have been detained in the continuing investigation of a telephone sales ring that targeted victims in the United States.

The Judicial Investigating Organization detained Silvio Carrano, 68, in San Rafael de Heredia Tuesday morning. An associate, identified as Patrick Williams, 64, was arrested while driving in Escazú, the agency said.

Both men were arrested at the request of the U.S. government. Carrano was believed to be the treasurer of USA Beverage, a company that sold various business opportunities to the U.S. market. The investigation has been going on since 2005, and the firm was known at times as Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee or Cards-R-Us Inc.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the consumer watchdog, convinced a judge in 2005 to shut down USA Beverages, which was selling a coffee rack business opportunity using a product under the brand name of Cafe Del Rey. Customers paid from $35,000 to $85,000 to buy the racks for consumer distribution. The case moved from a civil enforcement to criminal charges against nine persons.

The U.S. prosecutors said that the company defrauded victims as much as $13 million by making false statements and employing shills to praise the businesses. In addition to coffee, the so-called franchises sold health insurance and what was called energy products, said investigators. It was based in Escazú and at an office center in La Sabana.

The company used voice-over-Internet devices to make victims think the firm was located in the United States. In one incarnation, the company contracted with a mail service in Fort Collins, Colorado, to use the address to trick victims.

While Carrano has been linked repeatedly to the company in Federal Trade fillings and indictments, Williams has not been mentioned previously. Many of those involved with the firm used multiple names. Some managed to obtain Costa Rican citizenship to avoid extradition.

Citizen input solicited
in creating security plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government is seeking input from citizens to draw up a national security policy. However, the regional office of the United Nations seems to already have the outline of such a policy.

The regional office, the Programa de Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo, is working in conjunction with the government and characterizes the country's laws about weapons as weak. This is similar to a proposed law drawn up by a committee headed by President Laura Chinchilla when she was vice president. The bill that was supposed to address the growing crime problem instead stressed at length the need to restrict weapons from citizens.

The United Nations office is receiving suggestions via the telephone and other communication systems and also plans visits to other parts of the country to obtain suggestions. However, a security plan has been drafted, and a copy exists on the regional office's Web site.

The plan stresses social intervention rather than police methods. For example the summary compares the cost of jailing a juvenile criminal against the cost of providing incentives to keep the youngsters in school.

The central government is supposed to come up with a final plan in three months.

In another development Wednesday, the Defensoría de los Habitantes said the problem of overcrowded prisons was becoming critical. In 2009 there were 9,304 prisoners in a system designed to house 8,470, the Defensoría said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, June 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 118

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Seventh journalist dies
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Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A seventh journalist has been murdered in Honduras. He was Luis Arturo Mondragón, news director of Canal 19 in the town of El Paraíso southeast of the capital Tegucigalpa who was murdered on Monday night after he finished broadcasting and was sitting outside his home with his son.

Mondragón is the seventh journalist murdered in Honduras this year following Georgino Orellana (April 20), Manuel Juárez and José Bayardo Mairena (March 26), Nahúm Palacios (March 14), David Meza (March 11) and Joseph A. Hernández Ochoa (March 1). None of these cases has been solved. 2009 murders that are missing the identities of perpetrators and masterminds are Bernardo Rivera Paz (March 13), Santiago Rafael Munguía (March 31) and Gabriel Fino Noriega (July 3).

The Inter American Press Association condemned the murder in a statement Wednesday. Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, said, “We are watching with ongoing concern and alarm the degree of violence against the press in Honduras which, despite the government’s goodwill to solve the crimes, is immersed in a climate of impunity.”  He is chairman of the non-profit organization's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information,

In April the Miami-based organization recommended to Honduran President Porfirio Lobo concrete options for the implementation of legal and judicial tools to combat the spiraling crime wave against journalists. These included setting up a system of international observers with the support of the United Nations, creating special prosecutor’s offices to investigate crimes committed against freedom of expression, pushing for legal reforms to establish a special jurisdiction to deal with such offenses, and amending the penal code to increase penalties in cases of violation of freedom of expression.

U.S. passport component
lacks secure assembly

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

ABC News working with the Center for Public Integrity reported last week that the U.S. government is assembling the sensitive electronic identification components for U.S. passports at an unsecured facility in Thailand.

The Government Printing Office, responsible for the manufacture of the e-passports, insisted the technology was safe, but the agency now says it is going to move passport assembly to American shores, the non-profit center said.

A government contractor is assembling the devices in Ayutthaya. Both the inspector general at the Government Printing Office and the agency's own security chief have warned specifically against producing the computer chip assembly in the Thai facility, ABC News reported.

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