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(506) 223-1327               Published Friday, July 6, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 133          E-mail us   
Jo Stuart
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It's the day of the two- and three-toed sloth
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Every dog has his day, they say. But what about the two- and three-toed sloths?

Well, they are getting a couple of weeks at the end of this month.

The environmental agencies are trying to highlight the fragility of the two species.

Central to this celebration is the Aviarios del Caribe wildlife sanctury north of Cahuita in Penshurt de Limón on the Caribbean coast. It is here that wounded and orphaned sloths are prepared for their reentry into the wilds.

The sloth celebration revolves around the Día Nacional de la Vida Silvestre, which is July 31 every year. For two weeks in advance the sloth takes the center stage.

These are not rare animals in Costa Rica. In fact, one happens to graze on leaves around Parque Bolivar just a few feet from the offices of A.M. Costa Rica.

They are called perezoso in Spanish, meaning lazy, but they are not. It is just that they move slowly as they amble through the trees.

As part of sloth week, the creatures will be on display at Mall San Pedro (Sundays July 22 and 29 from 3 to 4 p.m.) and at Mall Paseo de la Flores (Saturdays July 21 and 28, also from 3 to 4 p.m.). In addition, animals will be coming to a number of local schools during the two weeks.

The sanctuary, run by Luis Judy Arroyo, has been accepting sloths since 1992 when the first orphan, Buttercup, arrived. The animals can be orphans, the result of vehicle accidents, electocution or some other mishap. Or the sloths may be victims themselves of these dangers.

Costa Rica hosts two species of sloths, the  three-toed Bradypus variegatus and the two-toed Choloepus hoffmannii. The names are a bit misleading because both species have three toes on their hind feet.

The santuary has registered an increase in wounded and orphaned animals in recent years. Statistics show that some 45 were saved in 2005.

Here's where you can get a copy of the decree extending residency
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is your get-out-of-jail-free card. The last time we checked, the latest immigration decree was not posted on the Migración y Extranjería Web site. So here are copies for you to carry with your expired carnet or cédula.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez issued the decree July 1, and it automatically extends for one more year the legal residency of some 300,000 persons.
If you are a rentista or pensionado, this means you.

You can get the document in Microsoft format HERE or in PDF formal HERE.

You should carry this decree with your identification papers. Immigration officials know about the decree, but there are many persons who are unaware of the change. Bank transactions and cell phone purchases could present problems unless the decree is handy.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 6, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 133

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new policeman
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
New officer Andrés Ramírez Garcia beams with pride

Bribri recruit among officers
sworn in by Fuerza Pública

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública graduated 172 new officers Thursday and among them was Andres Ramírez García, 20, of Amuri de Talamanca.

He becomes one of the few Bribri Indians on the force. Officials are trying to recruit more and even have held special meetings and tests in southeast Costa Rica for that purpose.

Some 44 members of various Indian groups are in training now and soon will graduate.

The graduation Thursday was Group 28. Three more groups totaling 800 persons, are moving through the police training. A fourth group will begin studies in September, bringing to 1,000 the total of new policemen.

The Arias administration has promised to add 4,000 more policemen on the streets over the next four years.

Flooding puts at least 180
in northern zone shelters

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Emergency officials said that at least 180 persons were being housed Thursday in shelters due to heavy rain and flooding in the northern zone.

In Matina on the Caribbean the Río Barbilla flooded out of its banks and knocked down trees that blocked Route 32, the principal highway to Limón Centro.

Guápiles was said to be hard hit as was Pococí where waterways flooded houses and sent people to shelters.

San Carlos had problems in the morning but during the afternoon of Thursday the rain and flooding diminished.

Sarapiquí was said to be the most affected community as well as nearby El Tigre. Some 80 persons were in shelters there. Several bridges also were undermined there and were not able to be used.

Judicial raid fails to find
Italian investment figure

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators raided five locations connected to the Matteo Quintavalle case early Thursday, but neither he nor four business associates were located.

Raids were in San José, Santa Ana, Quepos and even at an airplane in Tobías Bolaños airport in Pavas.

Quintavalle is the high roller who is being accused of fraud by investors in the United States.

Francisco Segura, subdirector of the Judicial Investigating Organization, said that prosecutors had ordered the raids. He said documents and evidence was seized.

Agents conducted the raids with drawn guns, although Quintavalle never has been accused of a violent act. The Quepos location is a hotel and casino operated by Quintavalle.

Segura said that the goal of the raid was to locate Quintavalle and his associates to present them to a judicial panel that would review the precautionary measure that already had been imposed. For example, Quintavalle, an Italian citizen, is under judicial order not to leave the country. In addition to Quintavalle, the judicial order covers associates Marvin Hernández Zúñiga, Ricardo Urbina Paniagua, Chistopher George Coulther and Ismail Gelle Fosia.

Segura said that the investigation involved a charge of financial intermediation, which can be described as illegal banking.  A group of investors from the United States was reported to have arrived in the country Thursday to press their claims.

Quintavalle, 34, became a public figure earlier this year when he tried to purchase a soccer franchise and then began signing contracts with top soccer players with the goal of starting his own team.

Last month the Banco de Costa Rica closed out 11 accounts he had there. The bank said Quintavalle moved $10.5 million through those accounts in a year. Bank officials suggested he had crossed a legal line by getting investment money from others and putting the money in the account. He also got in trouble with regulators for calling a corporation  "Depository Pacific Bank."

The term "bank" is regulated in Costa Rica. Quintavalle's corporation is in the process of filing paperwork with the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieros to become a registered institution, he has said. Costa Rican law prohibits individuals from collecting money from other persons for investments unless there is registration.

Benefit fair, barbecue Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Vista Del Valle Plantation Inn at Rosario de Naranjo is holding a flea market and a wine tasting Saturday to raise funds for a local computer learning center and a workshop. Johanna and Mike Bresnan said they hoped to make the event an annual one. The event begins at 9 a.m. and includes a barbecue and crafts fair.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 6, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 133

Puerto Limon Agency

Free trade opponents display their discontent with ruling
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Opponents of the free trade treaty with the United States do not accept the constitutional court ruling that the document is constitutional.

They were protesting before the Corte Suprema building in San José Thursday. There were other protests in other parts of the city.

Casa Presidencial quickly said that the group, under the name of the Comisión Nacional de Enlace, did not respect the decision of the court. Rodrigo Arias Sánchrez, minister of the Presidencia said the actions were a threat to the democracy of Costa Rica.

Albino Vargas Barrantes, secretary general of the  Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, said in a statement to a newspaper that the Sala IV constitutional court was on its knees before the executive branch. The organization reprinted the statements on its Web page. In addition, his organization promised to bring the fight over implementing legislation into the streets. There are more than a dozen changes in the law in the Asamblea Legislativa now that are designed to bring Costa Rica into compliance with the promises it made in the free trade treaty.

José Miguel Corrales, the former deputy who brought the case to the high court, said he was disappoinbted by the decision. He was at the demonstration in front of the court Thursday.
Sala iv protesters
A.M. Costas Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Protesters, many of them public employee union members, protest before the Corte Suprema de Justicia.

First system for vendors in digital government will be at transport ministry
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The transport ministry unveiled a new system Thursday that would let vendors present their offers via Internet.

The system is being hailed as another example of digital government.

The pilot program is as universal as the Internet, and there is no time barrier. Contract offers can come in 24 hours a day from anywhere, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

Companies would have to register first and send their proposals encrypted.

This is the first such system in a public institution, said a spokesperson for the Ministerio de Hacienda.
digital government
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramíres Vindas
Ministry employee demonstrates digital system

Insensitive editor will have no comment on this column
After bringing up the subject of tending one’s garden, I began thinking about all of the expats I know in Costa Rica and the special gardens they have been nurturing.  They are not really letting the rest of the world go by, they are doing something that they hope will have a positive effect, eventually, in the world beyond their own “gardens.”  

Gail Nystrom’s mission is to save the children that others have forgotten.  She is the founder and director of the Fundacion Humanitaria Costaricense, which, among other things, gathers up street children and works very hard to restore their lives.  The disappointments are many, but Gail celebrates the successes.

Sara Clark has planted 7,000 trees (so far) on the land she bought on the Great Divide, land that was once used as pasture for cattle.  Her goal is to undo the damage of deforestation and make a welcoming environment for the creatures who use to live there.  At the same time she is building a study center both for research and to teach children about preserving the environment.
Like Sara, on her Finca de dos Lados, Irene is reforesting in Tilaran.  She is also working on a “greenprint,” which is a blueprint for building and developing in an environmentally friendly way.  Actually, Costa Rica does have the laws in place. They just need to be enforced.
Ruth Dixon, Ph.D. has written an excellent book, “Abortion and Common Sense.”  Her garden is worldwide.  She writes about and works with the International Women’s Health Coalition and the World Health Organization on making sure that abortions, when they are needed, are also safe.

My friend Sandy has four gardens.  She doesn’t just grow Bonsai in Tilarán. She is on the board and an active member of three non-profit organizations dedicated to making the world a healthier place.  Fuentes Verdes is concentrating on saving the Arenal watershed. The Reserva Forest foundation is reforesting private lands in order to create a biological bridge for animal life and to    
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

pump more oxygen into the air. And the Guanacaste Animal Welfare Foundation sponsors spay and neuter clinics in poor areas to help control the population of unwanted dogs and cats. 

Alexis first learned all she could about recycling in Costa Rica. Then with a volunteer group she starting working with non-governmental organizations to educate the young in recycling as a way to preserve the environment.  Her group has also started a collection program for recycling tetra brik (Dos Pinos milk cartons).  They are teaching Peace Corps volunteers about recycling so they can pass it on to their communities. And finally Alexis is convincing supermarkets to offer reusable cloth grocery bags for sale to cut back on the use of those environmentally unfriendly plastic bags.  The young people are eagerly taking to the idea of recycling. Older people are slower to change.

There are others, many I don’t even know, who have gardens.  They are saving rain forests, recording the birds and other creatures that live in them.  They are volunteer English teachers in the local schools.  Others have created a home for abandoned old people.  And there are individuals, as well as organizations like the Women’s Club, who help support children in poor families and pay school costs. And others I have failed to mention.  I toast all of you.

I am the only one I know who doesn’t have a garden that is a cause except to write as honestly as I can about living in Costa Rica.  I do not write my own headlines (as I have complained about before), and probably my editor will entitle this, “Do Gooders Growing Trees so Tree-Huggers Will have Something to Hug.”

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 6, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 133

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Chorotega ceramics will be on display in San Vincente
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The jobs they do in San Vicente de Nicoya probably have not changed much in 3,000 years. They can whip out a replica of some priceless Aztec or Mayan ceramic with little difficulty.

But is it a replica or a continuation of that they have done for centuries in Guanacaste?

Visitors will have a chance to answer that question starting today as a two-week festival takes place centered around the new Ecomuseo de la Cerámica Chorotega. The event is a traditional local feria with an emphasis on the occupation of more than half the residents of the community.

The event takes place each day from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with demonstrations, instruction in the process of making ceramics and also sale of the finished works.

This section of Guanacaste was connected loosely to the Mayan empire and later to the Aztec culture. There was ample trade.

The event would not be a Costa Rica fair without the bulls. The corrida a la Tica will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Monday.  July 14 and 15 there will be no bulls but a lot of music, parades and folk dancing.
corotega crastsman
Local craftsman works on a pre-Colombian replica

Saturday a special event is a trip to the beds where the clay for the ceramic figures is found. That will be from 4 to 5 p.m. There also will be a seminar over the designs and the pre-Columbian traditions Saturday at 10 a.m.

Brazil's president says biofuels could benefit poor countries
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva says the poorest countries in the world could prosper in the biofuel industry, which produces fuel from crops such as corn and grain.

Speaking to a conference on biofuels in Brussels Thursday, da Silva said that lowering trade tariffs to stimulate trade with developing countries would help them to alleviate poverty.
European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson said earlier that Europe should be willing to import a large part of its biofuel resources if those supplies are cheaper and cleaner than EU-produced fuel.

However, the EU is also examining the potential environmental drawbacks of the industry.  External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said poorly managed production of the fuel can increase greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for climate change.

U.N. agency warns of rising agricultural prices due to biofuel production
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Increased demand for biofuels is leading to changes in agricultural markets that could drive up global prices for many farm products, according to a new United Nations-backed report.

The Agricultural Outlook 2007-2016, published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, blames the recent hikes in farm commodity prices on factors such as droughts in wheat-growing regions and low stocks.

Biofuels are currently made from such materials as sugar cane, palm oil and maize and, given they can substitute for fossil fuels, hold the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

The growing use of these materials is underpinning crop prices and, indirectly through higher animal feed costs, the prices for livestock products, said the organization.

The report notes that “most biofuel policies are new and it is not clear which measures are most effective in achieving the mix of objectives such as lower fossil fuel dependence or less greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to the report, annual maize-based ethanol output is expected to double between 2006 and 2016 in the United States, and in Brazil.

Annual ethanol production is projected to reach some 44 billion litres by 2016 from around 21 billion today.

In the European Union the amount of oilseeds used for biofuels is set to grow from just over 10 million tons to 21 million tons over the same period.

The report pointed out that higher commodity prices are a particular concern for states classified as net food importing countries, as well as the urban poor.

Trade patterns are also changing, the report noted.  Production and consumption of agricultural products will generally grow faster in the developing countries than in the developed economies - especially for beef, pork, butter, skim milk powder and sugar.

Trade in beef, pork and whole milk powder is expected to grow by more than 50 per cent over the next 10 years, coarse grains trade by 13 per cent and wheat by 17 per cent. Trade in vegetable oils is projected to increase by nearly 70 per cent.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, July 6, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 133

U.S. drop third soccer match at Copa América tournament
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. national soccer team fell to Colombia, 1-0, Thursday in a game that really had no meaning. Both teams already had been eliminated from advancing in Copa América play. There were 0-3 in the tournament.

The U.S. squad could not overcome an early goal scored in the 15th minute by Jaime Castrillon. A second half goal in the 86th minute by Kyle Beckerman from just 15 feet in
front of the net was discounted by an offsides call.

A minute later, the Colombian goalkeeper, Robinson Zapata, was given a red card for delay of game.

He appeared to have trouble with his shoelaces for the second time in the night and did not put the ball in play promptly. Despite the Colombian team being one man short, the U.S. squad could not convert in the time that remained.

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