A.M. Costa Rica

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(506) 223-1327      Published Thursday, July 6, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 133       E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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We didn't come to Costa Rica for no light beer!
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If you drink the new Imperial light, you will have to do it for more than the taste. The beer is so light it just bubbles off your tongue.

You won't drink it to avoid getting sloppy because it still has 4.2 percent alcohol. In fact, the 'light beer" has more booze than the standard version.

The light beer is a new entry for Imperial, which pretty well was a light beer to begin with.

The light beer is available in cans and bottles.

An A.M. Costa Rica beer taste test four years ago found Rock Ice with 4.7 percent alcohol was to be the best. Imperial, the lager with the highest sales in the country, came off poorly in a comparison with the other beers. "Skunky," "least obnoxious" and "strong aftertaste" were the general comments about the brew. The regular beer has 4.0 percent alcohol.

Barvaria light was not tested then, but

The light beer holds a good head

 compared to the Imperial light, that brew has a more solid beer taste.

Costa Rica is a bit short on good beer. A Curridabat brew pub is about the only place where a true dark beer can be had. And even that is mild. Columnist Jo Stuart reported last week that beer from Belgium can be found in local supermarkets that cater to expats.

But when it comes to Imperial light, we'll take iced tea.

Magic wand may be key to control depression
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats who wrestle with depression here as part of the overseas lifestyle now have a new tool. Simply put, there is a way to send magnetic waves through the head to stimulate natural responses in the brain.

Costa Rica is the only country in Latin America that has evaluated and permits treating depression patients with transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Depression could be the result of genetic predisposition but it also could be caused by stress and lifestyle.  It is the second cause of sickness and disability at work and places a heavy burden on society.

More and more persons every year have been diagnosed with mental illness as doctors learn more. By 2010, those diagnosed with depression will increase by 25 percent, according to Carlos Luis Sancho Torres, a psychiatrist who is a specialist in transcranial magnetic stimulation here.

Some 80 percent of the people who undergo the treatment show improvement without the secondary effects of drugs, he said.

The treatment also has been effective on depression that has resisted other treatments, bipolar disorders and post-traumatic stress syndrome, he said.

The system was developed to map brain activity, but then its therapeutic effect was

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Physican demostrates use of magnetic wand

noticed. The magnetic waves stimulate deep in the brain.

Scientists believe that the magnetic waves alter the biochemistry and firing of neurons in the brain and can stimulate the production of neurotransmitters whose absence may be associated with depression and other ills.

The treatment has been used for depression in Canada and England. The cost for a series of treatments may be about $6,000. However, the positive effects may begin to show between three and four weeks.

In Costa Rica the treatment is being provided by Sancho and his associate, Andrés Mesén. Their Web site is HERE!

The treatment has not yet been approved in the United States, so some patients from there are coming here.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 133

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Fake real estate customer
grabs valuables in house

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The would-be real estate buyer turned out to be a thief. But a suspect was caught shortly after the thief bolted with the household valuables.

The crime happened Wednesday in Vásquez de Coronado when a man presented himself as a buyer to a homeowner who had advertised his house in a national Spanish-language newspaper.

The thief offered a high price for the home on the condition that he could examine it closely. Then he complained of illness and distracted both the husband and the wife who were in the home. While the wife went for tea and the husband went for the construction plans, the thief went for jewels he had seen in a bedroom.

When the thief excused himself on the pretext of returning the next day to seal the deal, the wife soon realized that jewels, gold chains and other valuable objects were missing. The man said he lost cash.

However, the Fuerza Pública managed to detain a man identified by the last names of Porras Vidaurre. He is 41. The suspect had an outstanding warrant for theft, officers found.

Taiwan giving $15 million
for rebuilding hospital

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government of Taiwan will give $15 million toward the reconstruction of the burned out section of Hospital Calderon Guardia.

The gift will be to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, which operates the hospital.

The ceremony delivering the check will take place on the grounds of the hospital in Barrio Aranjuez.

The hospital fire last July 12  killed 19 persons and destroyed a major wing of the complex.

The new wing will have 205 beds and six floors, including obstetrics, neonatal care, gynecology, surgery and delivery rooms, officials said.

Helpful pharmacy worker
goes on trial for prescribing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A pharmacy employee goes on trial today to face a charge that she prescribed medicine to a child.

The event happened in October 2000 when the child and his mother came seeking something to help the boy who was having trouble with his eyes. This was in a pharmacy in the center of Siquirres.

The woman recommended that the child use a certain medication that later caused a reaction with swelling in the eyes, mouth and hands, said a summary from the Poder Judicial.  When the child and mother returned the next day with the additional problem, the woman gave the child an injection, the summary said. The woman is not a physician.

Later the child was taken to the Hospital Nacional de Niños.

Two months is a drag,
so lawmakers get holiday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The members of the Asamblea Legislative, in office since May 1, will take next week off. Lawmakers voted on the plan Wednesday and only three of the 57 deputies voted no.

Next week also is the second week of the mid-year public school vacations, and deputies expressed a desire to be with their families.

The lawmakers also will get Christmas holidays off and Holy Week.

In addition to the free trade treaty with the United States and acceptance of a $130 million sewer reconstruction loan from Japan, lawmakers also have hanging a declaration that Jesus Christ has sovereignty over Costa Rica.

More time needed on Internet

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Insituto Costarricense de Electricidad now says that the work on the high-speed Internet planned for this weekend will run into Sunday and early Monday. Tuesday they said that the Internet would be down for about 20 minutes between 10 a.m. Saturday night and 1 p.m. Sunday. Now the same period from Sunday to Monday is being blocked out, the company said. The delay should not be more than 20 minutes, the company said.

The camera was watching

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators raided a home in Heredia to find that the suspect had a television security camera mounted on a utility pole nearby to keep track of who might be near. Nevertheless, agents arrested a man, 32, a woman, 24, and the man's nephew, 14, on allegations of drug sales.

The raid was at Las Milpas de Guararì in Heredia. Agents said they confiscated crack cocaine, marijuana and cash.

Big Puntarenas celebration

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The celebration of the Virgen del Mar is Sunday in Puntarenas. the event will begin at the Catedral de Puntarenas at 10 a.m. with the presence of a number of Costa Rican bishops and President Óscar Arias Sánchez.

Meanwhile, in nearby Miramar, there is a weekend festival with a parade of ox carts also at 10 a.m.
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 133


Unescorted men are OK in the Hotel Presidente's News Café bar but women need male escorts.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas

Unescorted and female? The presumption is that you are a prostitute
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Office workers, young professionals and even tourists who might look Latin better be careful in downtown San José. That is if they are women.

At least two hotels are trying to reduce the number of prostitutes seeking business on their premises and are generally refusing service to unescorted women.

Prostitutes who already have a customer in tow seem to be welcome. This is the spinoff of a culture that embraces legalized prostitution.

The policy at the News Café in the Hotel Presidente became known Wednesday when an owner of A.M. Costa Rica and one of the company's lawyers, both female, tried to sit at the bar to discuss business. The bartender said he would not serve them and said the hotel was trying to cut down on prostitutes.

Eventually the hotel management apologized, but the women still felt unwelcome.

A similar event took place at the Gran Hotel Costa
Rica earlier this year. A guard approached a woman who was seated with a man and warned her that "We don't allow clothes like that in here." The woman's outfit was not out of the ordinary, and at first she thought he was trying to be the fashion police. But he meant she looked like a prostitute.

The Presidente always has had a policy against permitting women to solicit men. But those who enforced that policy generally could differentiate between young prostitutes and 40-ish lawyers.

In a seeming contradiction, the Presidente rents many of its rooms to single men who then find women in the San José zona rosa and bring them back to the hotel. The hotel even has a policy that these women must sign in before entertaining the men upstairs.

The Gran Hotel Costa Rica has gone through a very successful face-lifting. It now forbids single men to bring prostitutes to their room. The hotel styles itself as a family place.

Neither location seems to have policies about gay prostitutes and solicitation by males.


Tree just about bisects a small home in the beach community

A.M. Costa Rica/David K. Treadway

Esterillos Oeste weathers freak storm, tornadoes
By David K. Treadway
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A freak storm rarely seen on the Pacific Coast hit the small beach town of Esterillos Oeste Sunday night. The sky looked threatening in the evening, and everyone was expecting rain at some point. What no one was expecting came at about 9:30 p.m.

The wind started blowing at hurricane force speeds. According to some residents as many as three water spouts formed over the water and then moved ashore as full fledged tornadoes.

They left a path of destruction seldom seen after normal heavy rainstorms that can take place this time of year. One home was destroyed when the entire roof was ripped away, subsequently exposing the contents and its owners to the elements all night. The family had what was left of their belongings stacked in front of their house the next morning.

The school suffered damage when part of its roof was ripped away as well. Residents have volunteered to pitch in and try and get the school repaired quickly.

Trees were down everywhere, including one particular old growth tree measuring nearly seven meters in
diameter and more than 100 feet tall. Trees fell on houses as well as vehicles, and many residents worked through the night patching roofs and clearing debris.

Power was knocked out at approximately 10 p.m. as blowing debris and falling trees brought down power lines throughout the town as well as in several places on the main highway.

The highway was blocked in no less than three places, forcing crews with chainsaws to cut through debris to allow at least one lane of traffic to pass.

There were 20 or more vehicles and crew dispatched and were working in the town and on the main highway by early Monday morning. The crews from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad worked through the day and most of the evening. Power was restored to the entire community by 9 p.m. Monday.

There were no reported injuries despite the flying debris. One resident described looking out a door and seeing the palm branches being blown in a twisting spiral straight up.

The local markets had plenty of ice to keep cold products that were in refrigerators that were off for almost 24 hours.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 6, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 133

Dominican Republic emerges as free trade poster boy
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Central America and the Dominican Republic are benefiting from another year of robust economic performance, says an official with the International Monetary Fund.

The official, Agustín Carstens, the fund's deputy managing director, said the region's economic performance has been particularly strong in the Dominican Republic, with low inflation combined with a high rate of growth in the country's gross domestic product.

The fund had said in a May report about the Dominican Republic that the country's economic program had led to a "remarkable improvement in economic conditions," with Dominican officials continuing to "implement appropriate macroeconomic policies, which have resulted in strong growth, single-digit inflation, a lower public debt ratio, and a rise in international reserves."
Carstens, speaking at the Fifth Annual Regional Conference on Central America, Panamá and the Dominican Republic, said regional integration "continues apace," as a U.S. free-trade pact with Central America and the Dominican Republic comes into effect with most of the countries that signed the agreement.

The fund official said participants at the conference, held in the Dominican city of Punta Cana last week, confirmed that in some countries the trade agreement, is already beginning to yield benefits, in terms of improved business climate and increasing foreign direct investment.

Despite his optimistic report, Carstens warned that the Central America/Dominican region needs to remain vigilant.

Tight oil markets, global imbalances, and pressures in international financial markets pose potentially harmful risks to national economies, he said.

No. 2 candidate in Mexican election warns of unrest
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has warned the country's stability is at stake over its bitterly contested presidential election.

López Obrador made his remarks Wednesday as Mexico's Instituto Federal de Elecciones began reviewing the totals from polling stations to determine whether he or his rival Felipe Calderón won the tight race.

Initial results from Sunday's balloting show
conservative Calderón, from the ruling Acción Nacional, ahead by 1 percentage point over López Obrador, who represents the Partido Revolución Democrática. Both candidates have declared victory in the closely fought election.

The controversy has prompted concerns of a return to Mexico's fraudulent electoral past, despite assurances by most international observers the election was properly conducted.

The electoral institute has to rule on electoral disputes by Aug. 31 and declare a winner by Sept. 6.  

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Jo Stuart
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