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(506) 2223-1327        Published Wednesday, June 18, 2008, om Vol. 8, No. 120        E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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celebrating Dutch people
A.M. Costa Rica/Ernst Roemers
Dutch fans seem to be all one color these days
Although far from home, Dutch here are loyal fans
By Ernst Roemers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

These days in an Escazú café visitors can witness Dutch soccer madness. Several times a week the café is colored orange as Dutch soccer supporters join to see the matches of their national team in the European Football Championship. 

The supporters are wearing orange colored clothes, caps and mufflers. Several have painted their faces orange. Some even sport the red, white, blue of the national flag. 

Orange is not only the color of the Dutch queen and the royal family, but also the color of the national soccer team. Since the world soccer championship of 1978 where Holland ended just behind the world champion Argentina, Dutch football style has become famous, and Latin Americans nicknamed the Dutch team as naranja mecánica, that is clockwork orange.
In this month of the European championship Holland itself is colored orange: houses, flags, cars, but also orange colored cookies, orange pudding and orange cakes.

The orange soccer madness also affects the estimated 2,000 Dutch citizens in Costa Rica. During the first match of the Dutch soccer team, 120 fans gathered in the Jazz Café in Escazú to see for the first time in 30 years the Italian team fall 3-0.

The number of orange tulips, as the supporters of the Dutch team used to call themselves, grew to 220 in the second game against France.

The Dutch won the game 4-1. And with a 2-0 victory against Romania and a quarterfinals berth Tuesday, the Dutch team seems to have a good chance making the championship end of this month. The number of Dutch orange tulips are growing with every match.

Police quickly nab three suspects in heist at hotel
By Jeremy Arias
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three robbers burst into a small downtown hotel Monday night and took money, cell phones and items belonging to guests. Minutes later officers of the Fuerza Pública tactical squad who already were on the trail of robbers caught three suspects.

The robbery scene was the Hostel Abril in Barrio González Lahmann, east of the downtown.

The suspects, Erlin Lagos Ocampo, Johan Sánchez Jiménez and a 17 year-old minor identified by the last name Arguedas, were apprehended in the vicinity after victims called police, officials said.

The robbery, which occurred at about 9:45 p.m., coincided with the change of shift at the 10-room hostel, according to manager Sabrina Vargas.

“As soon as they opened the door to let the night shift receptionist in, then the robbers came in behind him.” Ms. Vargas said, “They told everyone to get to the floor and to give them their personal belongings.” Two guests were among those present, she said.

The robbers apparently used toy guns to commit the holdup. Members of the tactical squad
confiscated one such toy along with property they identified as stolen. This included money and several cell phones, they said. Ms. Vargas said the stolen property was to be picked up from the Judicial Investigating Organization today.

Apparently the guns were fake, "but in the moment you can never be sure,” she said, “It's not like we receive these kinds of visits everyday!”

Immediately after the robbery, hostel employees called Ms. Vargas, who forwarded them the number of a police official she had met through her membership in a small hotels association in San José. The suspects were apprehended only minutes later in the neighborhood.

“It was amazing!” Ms. Vargas said, explaining that criminals had just robbed a nearby restaurant and police already were in action.

“It was an opportunity,” she said of the robbery, suggesting it was not planned.

The Hostel Abril has been established for about 10 months, and this was the first robbery the business has faced, Ms. Vargas said. She added that the building does have a municipal alarm system, but the robbery happened so fast that employees could not activate it.

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Unpredictable thunderstorm
brings flooding to Alajuela

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

They call them aguaceros in Spanish, the heavy downpours that seem to have a will of their own.

Tuesday a number of locations were hit with heavy rains, even though the bulk of the nation had minimal precipitation.

In Barrio San José in Alajuela and in the center of the town there was flooding, thanks to a heavy storm. But at Juan Santamaría airport just a few miles away, the automatic weather station reported just 22.6 mms. of rain had fallen all day. That's about nine-tenths of an inch.

Yet in Alajuela the storm was so heavy that cars were put afloat and the local Radio Alajuela went off the air due to storm damage. The reason was not only the rain but a drainage problem.

For today the Instituto Meterológico Nacional predicts sunny mornings but those same heavy thunderstorms at points in the Valley Central, the Central and South Pacific and in the mountains.

Agents want to question
more police from Cahuita

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More police officers from the Cahuita station may be fugitives as agents continue the investigation of the murder of two men Saturday.

Two policemen are in custody as well as a man facing a drug trafficking charge. But the case becomes even more cloudy because investigators say that one of the detained policemen may have been identified incorrectly as a participant in the murder.

This is the case where police detained a car containing four young men early Saturday and then turned them over to a drug gang, according to the allegations. Two men died, and they were found with Fuerza Pública handcuffs on their wrists.

Agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization questioned a third policeman over the weekend and then let him go. Now they say he may have been involved in the murders of Roy Gerardo Sotela Prendergast, 23, and  Natanael Obregón Rodríguez, 17. Two brothers who survived the informal executions are being guarded.

Quake felt in Central Valley

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An earthquake off shore about 60 kms. (about 37 miles) southwest of Punta Burica registered a magnitude of 5.3 Tuesday, according to the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica. The observatory said in a press release that the earthquake happened at 11:42 a.m.

Residents in the Central Valley and in the southern zone felt the quake, the observatory said. Punta Burica is in extreme southwest Costa Rica

Our readers' opinions
Not wearing your shorts
is no defense against crime

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

After reading the letter from the  owner of B&B in Heredia regarding robbery of two of his hotel's guest, I have one mui importante question: What are walking shorts?!  So, it sounds like he's telling me, in order to avoid being accosted, dress like a a bag lady?

Oh, come on. Sure they had a camcorder, but it's getting ridiculous. Thieves are going to rob you no matter what you wear, as cold hearted as it sounds. Basically, they know in Costa Rica there is little and next to no consequences for their actions. Yes, the husband was lucky that the robber didn't blow him away, but it's a shame that the low life, scum-sucking robber didn't get his pelotitos kicked out of commission.

But I will remember that when we come to Costa Rica for our next visit, to keep my walking shorts at home. I will feel so much safer, and not worry about looking over my shoulder constantly!!
Katie Mullins-Hall
Cincinnati, Ohio
Limón, Costa Rica

Gringo drivers are bad
as well as the Ticos

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Recently you had an article about how bad the drivers are in Costa Rica. I'd like to point out that most Gringos, Europeans, etc. are at least as dangerous and as bad. Running red lights, speeding up for yellow lights, following too close, talking on cell phones (which is equivalent to driving drunk), crossing over the double yellow lines, passing on curves, and generally being rude and impatient, in this Pura Vida country. Generally setting a bad example for others.

Also, there is a good side to the poor condition of the roads. Improving the condition of the roads is an invitation to investors and developers to destroy what is left of this country. Look what has happened to Guanacaste. It is so destroyed, expensive, and polluted most people I know aren't interested in going there any more.
Gene Mc Donald

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 18, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 120

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Close hit makes a believer of reporter braving the storm
By Jeremy Arias
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The rain was pounding the broad pedestrian boulevard leading from Calle 17 past the court complex up to Parque Nacional when a sudden bolt of lightning struck a palm tree just across Avenida 6, causing umbrella vendors and their patrons to duck in surprised fear as the resounding explosion tore through the walkway Tuesday afternoon.

Instinctively, my hands leapt to my face, my eyes momentarily blinded in a white flash.

A guard ran, half-crouched through the driving rain, from the court building to investigate the startling noise. Car alarms filled the silence left in the wake of the bolt's electric crack.

The palm tree showed no marks from an experience that very well may have proven fatal to one of the numerous pedestrians on the walkway.

Most Costa Rican lightning deaths happen in rural areas or on a golf course. Whole herds of cows are killed as they huddle under a solitary tree on a hill. Last year a young herder died with his cows.

I looked at my flimsy blue umbrella, the metal frame under the thin material glinting in the dim daylight of the still raging storm. I found myself wondering if I would have fared so well in the tree's place. I knew I had a deadline to meet back at the office, all the way up
lightning krack

the boulevard and past Parque Nacional.

Not-too-distant thunder rumbled once more through the streets.

I felt a sudden comfort in the cold, wet step under the overhang I had been sitting on during the lightning's arresting display.  I looked at the palm tree across the plaza, swaying ominously against the dark-gray sky.

The deadline could wait, I decided.

Watch out for a flower delivery driver, judicial police warn
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some home bandits are showing a degree of sophistication in the way they get access.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said Tuesday that robbers are now posing as flower delivery employees. The criminals ask for an occupant of the house and, once the door is opened, up to three additional robbers appear and ambush the inhabitants, using violence to steal mostly money and jewelry, according to the agency

These robbers have been using a wine-colored Nissan Sentry and a black Hyundai to commit the robberies according to the agency.

In a case reported Monday, robbers pretended to be employees of the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz to
 gain access to a Rohrmoser home. There they disabled five persons and spent 10 minutes looting the house.

The Judicial Investigating Organization gave no additional information on the flower deliveries or where such a technique was employed by robbers.

The upscale areas of the valley, mostly Escazú, Rohrmoser and Santa Ana have been plagued by home robbers who usually have entered by force. Most of those crimes happened in the early to late evening when bandits tearing off metal bars might not be seen by neighbors. Or they waited until a resident arrived and opened the gate or access to the parking area.

The new method of pretending to be delivery drivers does not seem to be as likely to attract attention and generate an emergency call from the neighborhood.

Grandmother wins appeal to have grandchildren evaluated
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A grandmother, worried about her three grandchildren, won a victory in the Sala IV constitutional court. The court ordered the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia to investigate the case and evaluate the situation in which the children are living, according to a decision released Tuesday.

The grandmother, identified by the last name of Marcia,
told the court in her filing that she had approached the Patronato, the nation's child welfare agency, but that workers there did nothing. She said she was worried about physical and psychological aggression that the children, 3, 6, and 7, might be facing.

The court made no judgments on the living conditions of the children and the mother of the children did not appear to be represented in the case.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 18, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 120

Chávez after visit reports that Fidel Castro is 'alive and well'
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has held talks with former Cuban president Fidel Castro in Havana for what Cuba's state-run media have described as an "animated and warm" meeting. No photos or videos of the meeting were made public.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma reported Tuesday that Chávez and Castro met for three hours Monday to discuss the world's food, energy and financial crises. Chávez last traveled to Cuba in March.

Chávez said Monday that Castro is "alive and well,
thinking, writing and dictating important strategies for Cuba and Latin America." Chavez also was quoted as saying Castro's younger brother, Raúl Castro, is "at the helm" of the Cuban revolution.

Raúl Castro replaced Fidel Castro as president in February, more than a year and a half after the elder Castro underwent intestinal surgery. Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since then.

The former Cuban leader, however, has appeared in videos and photographs, and articles attributed to him have been published in state-run media. Details of his health are considered a state secret.

Rate of U.S. inflation accelerates while the number of homes being built declines
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A gauge of future U.S. inflation rose at the fastest pace in six months in May, while builders started construction on the lowest number of homes in 17 years during the month.

Tuesday's report from the U.S. Labor Department, called the producer price index, says soaring energy costs pushed
prices paid to farms and factories up 1.4 percent last month. Outside the volatile energy and food areas, prices rose a much more modest two-tenths of a percent.

A separate report from the Commerce Department said the pace of home building declined 3.3 percent from the previous month. If that rate continues for a whole year, only 975,000 homes would be built.

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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.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

Vatican production traces
life of Mary of Nazareth

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A unique musical about the life of the Virgin Mary was to premiere at the Vatican Tuesday evening. "Mary of Nazareth — An Ongoing Story" is the first musical to be made of the life of Mary. It traces the battle between good and evil, God and the Devil, in Mary's life.

Mary of Nazareth — An Ongoing Story is an Italian production sponsored by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The production will go all over the world, including Latin America.

Mary occupies a major role in Latin Catholicism. Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, a manifestation of the Virgin, is Costa Rica's patroness, whose feast day Aug. 2 is marked with a massive pilgrimage by more than a million persons. México has Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, who generates similar venerations.

The Vatican story chronicles Mary's life — from her Jewish childhood, the Annunciation, her marriage to Joseph, the virgin birth of Jesus and her Ascension. It traces the battle between good and evil — God and the Devil — in Mary's life as she grows up.

The producers say the goal of the musical is "to narrate the most extraordinary story that ever occurred, giving pride of place to the figure of Mary." They add that the musical seeks to show Mary as "an ideal bridge between yesterday, today and always: a story that continues."

The musical stems from an idea by writer and director Maria Pia Liotta who said it's the first time in history that a musical has been made about the life of the Virgin Mary.

Liotta says the musical is a very effective instrument to tell the story because it can reach everyone's heart, especially because it is made up of words, notes, melodies, dance and gestures."

Actress and soprano Alma Manera, who is Liotta's daughter, plays Mary. She said that she took the role of starring in her mother's musical with "responsibility, happiness and joy."

Ms. Manera adds she tried to interpret her role in the most natural, spontaneous and simplest way — first, as a young woman, then as a mother who is aware of her choice and whose "yes" changed the history of humanity.
Well-known Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani, wrote the music. He said he tried to make it both spiritual and modern.

Cipriani says he tried to respect the spirituality and sacredness of this work while at the same time keeping it up to date. Show organizers are hoping to schedule an international tour of the musical in Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

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