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These stories were published Monday, June 27, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 125
Jo Stuart
About us

The choices are multi-colored

The wind is for fun!

If Costa Ricans let a little gray sky bother them, they would stay inside for eight months.

But a little fresh breeze, a sprinkle of life-giving rain and flashes of blue sky can only be topped by a multi-colored kite and room to use it. Like Sunday in Parque de la Paz in San José.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
A convenient hillside provides lift

New level of approval ordered for beach land
By the A. M. Costa Rica staff

An new slant on a 2001 law has thrown builders along the coast into confusion because it seems to freeze some development and construction there.

The 2001 law and the decree implementing the measure, the Plan de Ordenamiento Ambiental, carve out a big roll for the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energia in the approval process for projects in protected areas. These include forest reserves, protected zones and wildlife refuges. Of major interest to developers are the protected maritime zones where hotels and other tourism developments usually are constructed via a system of concessions.

The Procuraduría General de la República, the nation's chief lawyer, said earlier this year that the measures should be enforced. By doing so, another level of supervision and approval has been placed over coastal development, both private and public. Until now the municipalities had the final word on coastal concessions.

The maritime zone includes most land up to 200 meters from the average high tide level on both coasts. The first 50 meters from the tide line is public land and normally may not be developed. The next 150 meters can be privately developed and occupied under 5- to 20-year concessions from the local municipality.

The 150-meter section frequently is where
restaurants, hotels and other tourism facilities are constructed after a municipal concession has been awarded.

The environmental ministry appears to be the catalyst behind the procuraduría general's decision. The ministry asked for a ruling, and then said it would vigorously use the power granted to it under the environmental law and a presidential decree, No. 29393. Essentially the measures mandates what amounts to an environmental impact report from the  Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental, a division of the environmental ministry.

To do its job, the environmental ministry has said it plans to conduct an inventory of all the land along the coasts where it is supposed to provide supervision. Then, it said, employees will visit municipalities. So far procedures for review and decisions have not been set out.

Affected are at least all those who have requests for concessions or building projects pending with the various municipalities. Those who own vacant land adjacent to the maritime zone may find obtaining a concession much more difficult.

The  Municipalidad de Santa Cruz has already protested these new powers that the environmental ministry says it will exercise. There is a strong possibility of a court case that could freeze maritime zone construction even longer.

Municipalities receive money similar to rent, when someone uses a concession area.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 27, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 125

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New political parties
springing up all over

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Eight new national political parties are in various stages of being formed as dissidents from the established political groups go their own way.

The Tribunal Supreme de Elecciones said that party officials will have until August to present all the paperwork to establish them as legitimate contenders.

The parties may be new, but many faces are not.

Antonio Álvarez Desanti is the president of Unión para el Cambio. Alvarez was a strong prospect to be the choice of the Partido Liberación Nacional for the 2006 elections, but then Óscar Arias happened. Arias, the former president, managed to secure a favorable Sala IV constitutional court ruling that let him run for a second term as president.

A man well know to creditors of the defunct Villalobos high interest operation heads Alianza Democrática Nacionalista. He is José Miguel Villalobos Umaña, the lawyer who had $100,000 bestowed on him by creditors so he could root out the snakes in the government who had forced the Villalobos brothers to close. That was two and a half years ago.

Villalobos Umaña is the former minister of Justicia for President Abel Pacheco, who sacked him for disagreeing with plans for a new high security prison.

José Miguel Corrales of the Partido Unión Patriótica, another new party, announced an alliance last week with Villalobos Umaña, so it is a toss up who will be the presidential candidate.

José Manuel Echandi, who just left office as the defensor de los habitantes, surfaced over the weekend as the presidential standard bearer of the Unión Nacional, another new party but one with historical roots.

Other parties include Concordia Nacional, the Partido Gente Nueva, the Partido Patria Nueva Presidenta and the Partido Patria Primero. The last has as a likely presidential candidate Juan José Vargas, who is second in command at the Asamblea Legislativa.

The new parties will face the established field that, in addition to Liberación, includes the current party in power, the Unidad Social Cristiana, which is likely to run Ricardo Toledo, the former minister of the Presidencia for the top job. He is being opposed by the former executive president of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados. Evarado Rodríguez is that candidate, but he is having trouble getting his candidacy accepted by the party.

The Movimiento Libertario will run Otto Guevara Guth as its presidential candidate. And Ottón Solís Fallas will carry the standard for the party he created for the 2002 elections, Partido Acción Ciudana. Acción Ciudadana spun off a handful of deputies who now support rival parties.

In addition to the national parties, there are 19 regional and local new parties which will not have a national candidate but will seek legislative and local seats.

In the Costa Rican legislative system a political party could have influence even if it just won a single seat in the Asamblea Legislativa.

Canadian tourist dies
when he slips at falls

By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Canadian tourist slipped and fell to his death Friday afternoon while hiking south of Quepos. 

Cruz Roja officials listed the man as John Macbabe, but Gullermo Sequeria of the Fuerza Pública in Quepos identified him as John Macbaue. 

The man was hiking at the Chorro de San Cristobol waterfalls about 15 miles south of Quepos when he slipped, Sequeria said.

The body was removed about 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, in La Fortuna de San Carlos, some of a group of 25 U.S. tourists from Missouri required rescue assistance when a slug of water in the Río La Fortuna caught them off-guard Friday while they were bathing at the well-known waterfall south of the town.

Mae West and her ESP
are topics of speech

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Actress Mae West, known primarily for her vaudeville stage acts, 1930s movies and incarceration because of obscenity charges, was also adapt at ESP and clairaudience, according to Steve Friedman.

Tuesday, Friedman, an expert on Miss West, will speak about her life on and off the stage, including her excursions into the spiritual realm.  Apparently, her play “Sex,” was written while in a trance.  It also landed her in jail for obscenity charges in 1926, said an announcement promoting the talk. She is know as the queen of the sexual innuendoes, and was best know for her line “Come on up and see me sometime.” Clairaudience is the ability to heard words and sounds from another realm, including taking to the dead.

The talk, entitled “Mae West, Sex, Health and ESP,” is part of the speaker's forum at Big Mike's Place in Escazú.  It is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. but guests may arrive at 6:30 to sample the snack bar.  For more information call 289-6333, 821-4708, or Mike at 289-6087.

Friedman, born in England, emigrated to Canada and was a teacher for 10 years in Quebec. He was also a Boston marathon runner, director of healing and an inspirational speaker in the First Spiritualist Church of Montreal, and later, owner and operator of the 100-acre Genesis II National Wildlife Refuge and Cloud Forest Preserve in Costa Rica, along with his wife, Paula.

Rain makes weekend wet
and there are problems

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rain showers again dumped measurable quantities on the Central Valley and the northern zone over the weekend.

In San José from 7 a.m. Sunday through midnight some 23.5 mms (.94 of an inch) fell in Barrio Aranjuez, the headquarters of the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional, and some 25.3 mms (1.01 inches) fell from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday.

There was local flooding in low spots all over the area, and in an informal settlement near Ciudad Quesada, San Carlos, a landslide destroyed six homes and left more than 100 persons homeless and in need of shelter.

Showing how variable the weather can be, some 22.2 mms (.89 of an inch) of rain fell from 7 a.m. Sunday through midnight in Pavas at the Tobias Bolaños airport, but only 3.5 mms (.14 of an inch) fell Saturday. And Limón reported no rain after 7 a.m. Sunday and just 12 mms from 7 a.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday.

The weather bureau predicted more of the same today in the Central Valley and in Guanacaste while by Tuesday the rain should be creeping into the Caribbean slope.

Several fatal traffic accidents were reported over the weekend, and they appeared to have heavy rains as contributing factors.
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When your mind becomes like hot water, heed this
Estar como agua pa’ chocolate

“It’s like water for chocolate.” Some of you who make cocoa the old fashioned way will know that the water used in its preparation must be very hot. Also, some may recall the book and famous Mexican movie entitled “Like Water for Chocolate.”

This dicho is about being mad, so mad in fact that one is boiling. Now, it’s not such a good thing to be that mad. One consequence could be a heart attack! Also, when someone is that angry they have a tendency to say and do stupid things that they’ll regret later. The worst possibility is that you can do physical harm to yourself or someone else.

In San José one can go como agua pa’ chocolate just by driving around the city. The horrible traffic congestion is further exacerbated by the presence of motorcycles that seem to come at you from out of nowhere and drive down the centerline between lanes of two-way traffic, weaving in and out among the larger vehicles. Then there are the drivers that pass on the shoulder just so they can crowd in at the front of a line of stopped traffic. That can really get my blood boiling! But I finally decided I had to learn to relax and just keep my distance from those crazies who so often populate the streets of San José because when they finally do have their accident — and traffic statistics indicate that they probably will — I don’t want to be anywhere near them.

Estar como agua pa’ chocolate entered my reality again lately. If you’ve read this column recently you probably remember that my father had open-heart surgery a few weeks ago. His cardiologist prescribed him huge, green iron tablets to be taken three times a day with his meals.

“To make a short story long,” as a friend of mine is fond of saying, these pills got my dad very sick and for nearly two weeks he was hardly able to eat or drink enough to keep a caged canary quiet. This led to a number of complications, such as dehydration and a couple of others too unpleasant to mention here.

In any case, last Tuesday he was to start his rehabilitation, but upon arriving at the rehab facility he was feeling faint. When the nurses took his pulse they discovered his heart was racing and he had an irregular heartbeat. He had to be taken immediately to the emergency room and was subsequently readmitted to the hospital. Everything is all right now, after a couple of days in hospital. His pulse was slowed and his heart rhythm converted back to normal with medication. But it is now fairly certain that it was those massive doses of iron that caused
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

all his discomfort and ultimately put him back in the hospital.

This all made me feel como agua pa’ chocolate, because his cardiologist was the one who prescribed those pills but wasn’t concerned about the terrible impact they were having on the overall health of my 87-year-old father. Dad’s now with another cardiologist who immediately took him off the iron tablets. It seems there are other ways of improving a patient’s hemoglobin without making them sicker than a proverbial dog in the process.

Generally speaking, estar como agua pa’ chocolate is not a very good idea, But sometimes emotions intervene and it’s hard to avoid getting really mad.  Of course, we need to find ways of coping with anger, and hopefully turn that anger into more beneficial energy.  Getting mad can be hazardous to your health!

Here in the States we sometimes have a lot of trouble controlling our anger. Road rage, for example, is almost endemic and often leads to the direst of consequences. Of course, the abundance of firearms among the U.S. citizenry contributes greatly to raising the level of violence here. Sometimes the simplest of arguments can quickly escalate to the use of lethal force when one or more of the participants are in possession of a gun.
I’m reminded of the story of a woman at a local supermarket here in Bloomington, Indiana, who pulled a gun on a fellow shopper because she cut in front of her in the checkout line. Now, that’s what I call real anger management: If someone makes you mad, simply blow them away.

It’s true that there are people and things in life that anger us, but before we act on that anger we need to consider the consequences of our actions, and guns don’t always leave much time for thinking. So estar como agua pa’ chocolate should only be a dicho to describe how we feel and not become the basis for a plan of action.

Autopsy should determine cause of death of U.S. citizen in Escazú
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A preliminary report for an autopsy, expected today, probably will tell whether the death of Eduardo Chapot was a murder or an accident.

However, a spokesperson for the Judicial Investigating Organization strongly dismissed a report in the popular Spanish-language press that the man was killed by multiple machete slashes to the head.

Chapot, 76, was found in his apartment at the VillaGarcia complex in San Rafael de Escazú about 6 p.m. Thursday. He had been dead for several days.
The body was face down on the floor with visible wounds to the head.

The three wounds were from impact, said the Judicial Investigating Organization spokesperson. The medical examination will try to determine impact with what.

Chapot was a U.S. citizen. Authorities have not dismissed the possibility that the death was accidental due to a fall. However, the location is being treated as a murder scene until a ruling is made. The Fuerza Pública orginally gave the victim's name as Chopho, and that was the name A.M. Costa Rica published Thursday.

Company and watchdogs differ on nature of incident at Bellavista mine
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A pipe may have ruptured at the Bellavista mine sending one worker to the hospital, but the mining corporation boss said that the worker simply needed allergy medication. 

The Asociación de Comunidades Ecologistas Usuarias del Golfo de Nicoya alleged that a pipe ruptured when crews were performing extraction tests at the mine near Miramar.  Sonia Torres, the association's president, wrote that cyanide spewed over the work site and one worker went to the hospital in Puntarenas with burns and several more workers were nauseated. 

But the president of Glencairn Gold Corp. wrote that this never happened.

“The story of a spill was concocted by someone who has been opposed to the mine for many years,” wrote
the corporation's president, Kerry Knoll, through E-mail. 

“Like any company in any industry that handles chemicals, Glencairn has strict procedures in place for the handling of cyanide, fuel, etc.,”  said Knoll.

The worker, Knoll also said, did in fact go to the hospital in Puntarenas but it was to get allergy medication that wasn't available that day in Miramar.

But Torres wrote in a press release that the company used large amounts of lime to clean up the spill and “the presence of a monitoring commission a day after the spill does not guarantee in any manner that the spill didn't occur like the mining company would have us believe.”   

The mine, which is not far from Puntarenas, plans to use cyanide to leach gold from the rock. The mine is in the startup phase of actual production.

Emergency commission makes an effort to keep Arenal area safer
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Due to its popularity and instability officials with the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias have begun to form plans to keep Volcán Arenal a safer tourist destination. 

Friday, commision head Lidier Esquivel met with officials from the Comité Local de Emergencias and la Cámara de Turismo de la Zona Norte.

At that meeting , Esquivel detailed his idea to study the base of the mountain and label which areas are safe for tourism.  The commission plans three types of signs: areas of historical or geological interest, signs that tell people what to do if the the mountain
erupts and signs that point out the areas of high risk.

Other parts of his plan include creating flyers explaining the situation to hand out to people who enter the park and to come up with plans in cases of emergency. 

The commission said that it was not sugesting that the mountain would have a serious erruption, because that cannot be predicted.

Tourists sometimes die when they wander too close to vents of hot gases in restricted areas of the mountain.

Arenal is one of the most active volcanos in the Americas.

New U.S.-Costa Rican chamber forms in Florida to promote country
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rica U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Florida has gained 43 members since its inception in May.  Now it has also joined the Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in Florida. 

The association's president sees it as an important way to promote business investment in Costa Rica and ultimately help pass the Central American Free Trade Act. 

The president, Lita Haeger said “the existence of a Costa Rican chamber in Florida will facilitate the
access to information on  [business] opportunities offered by this beautiful country.”

The Costa Rican U.S. Chamber's membership was approved at the association's General Assembly at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla.

The president of the Costa Rican chamber, Gerardo Borbon, presented to the association's board of directors business opportunities he felt Costa Rica could offer.  The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Congress in Florida is an umbrella organization for 44 bi-national chambers of commerce.

Jo Stuart
About us
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