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(506) 2223-1327               Published Tuesday, July 6, 2010, in Vol. 10, No. 131        E-mail us
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Photo courtesy of Fischer Productions and The Billfish Foundation
Sportfishing boats like this one are huge assets for Costa Rica's annual economy, study showed
Sportfishing has big economic impact, study says
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Tourism is Costa Rica’s top industry, and new research shows North Americans traveling there in 2008 to fish generated $599 million or about 2 percent of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product.

The study, conducted in 2009 by The Billfish Foundation, Southwick Associates and the University of Costa Rica, revealed 283,790 anglers visited Costa Rica and their economic impact even overshadowed commercial fishing. It was estimated 22 percent of those tourists visited the country for the exclusive purpose of fishing.

From that $599 million the study also showed sportfishing generated almost $78 million in tax revenues for Costa Rica and 63,000 jobs. In comparison, the effect of commercial fishing for the same species sought by anglers generated approximately $528 million to Costa Rica’s gross domestic product. Commercial fishing contributed $68.6 million in tax revenue and created 57,000 jobs.

“We have already had the opportunity to present the results of this study to the incoming vice president and minister of tourism,” said Ellen Peel, president of The Billfish Foundation. “And we will be making a formal presentation to a wider cross sector of government and business leaders this summer. The leadership in Costa Rica had no idea that their country receives more benefits from a sustainable recreational harvest than from the subsidized excessive effort in the commercial fishery.”

The comprehensive study included interviewing tourists at Costa Rica’s major airports to estimate the percentage who fished while visiting. The research focused on the expenditures and economic impacts of marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dorado, species that are the most frequent targets of commercial fisherman and recreational anglers.

It was estimated the 283,790 North Americans visiting Costa Rica in 2008 spent $467 million. The survey revealed $329 million was spent on travel including lodging ($119 million), restaurants ($15.6 million), flights and fishing guides ($88 million) and land transportation ($6 million). These dollars then change hands multiple times in Costa Rica, creating significant benefits for the nation’s gross domestic product. In addition, visitors spent approximately $105 million outside of Costa Rica prior to arrival for airfare or other travel expenses, though these dollars are not included in the economic analyses.

About 3,700 of those visiting Costa Rica have their
own boats in the country, whether permanently or temporarily, and they spent approximately $138 million for items such as fuel ($45.6 million), maintenance and repairs ($25 million), furniture and accessories for their vessels ($48 million), staff and crews ($2.8 million), marina fees ($16.6 million), and taxes and insurance ($1.8 million).

“TBF believes that only when decision makers understand the economic importance of good fishing opportunities for tourist anglers will billfish conservation get on the radar screen of government leaders charged with economic development as well as fisheries management,“ said Russell Nelson, chief scientist for the foundation. “And now thanks to the dedication of TBF members and generous donors who have supported our socio-economic research, we are making the point.”

Additional work conducted in the United States by Southwick Associates, Inc., estimated 7.5 million Americans fished outside of their country in 2009 with 3.6 percent of them traveling to Costa Rica. Among anglers vacationing in Costa Rica, 40 percent said they would not have visited the country if they could not fish. Those anglers, who represent 116,000 visitors per year and about $135 million in tourism income for Costa Rica, said the main factor in determining their satisfaction is quality of fishing followed by relative peace and quiet, and fishing services, boat and crew quality. 

The majority of anglers reported they visited Costa Rica to catch billfish including sailfish, marlin along with dorado. Inshore species such as snook and tarpon were less frequent targets. 

“This was the first study done in Central America that compares the economic contributions of recreational and commercial fishing for the same species,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, who coordinated design and methodology, management and monitoring of this research and generated information regarding U.S. anglers’ international travel activities.

“We’ve completed similar work for Los Cabos, Mexico, and the results produced almost immediate benefits to fisheries management and conservation,” Southwick said.

That study found the Los Cabos area benefited by $1.1 billion to the economy.

Based on the success of socio-economic research in Mexico and Costa Rica, TBF already has entered into discussions with the new administration in Panama to conduct similar studies in that country.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 131

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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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Other contract drivers
plan to block traffic today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another organization of contract drivers plans a major protest all over the country today that is expected to affect traffic.

The transport ministry warned that the organization has a right to demonstrate but that if they impede traffic, police will move in.

This is the Federación Nacional de Porteadores, not to be confused with the groups that approved an agreement with the central government last week. At that time, Casa Presidencial said that the long-running conflict was over.

Porteadores are contract drivers who compete with licensed taxi drivers. They base their legality on a section of the commercial code that is being reviewed in the Asamblea Legislativa.

Wednesday the central government made a deal with the Federación de Cooperativas de Taxis, the Cámara Nacional de Autobuseros, and the Cámara Nacional de Porteadores. But the Ministerio de Obras Pública y Transportes said that the federation was invited to the table but never came. That was a point that was overlooked when Casa Presidencial lauded the agreement as an end to the eight-year conflict.

The federation drivers today are expected to engage in tortuguismo, that is driving slow to block traffic. The word comes from the Spanish word for turtle. The goals of the protest are unclear, although there are several large companies that run some of the porteadores services.

The deal reached Wednesday said that the porteadores would have to follow the same rules that govern taxi drivers. They must follow the transportation laws and pay taxes and enroll for coverage in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. They also may not pick up passengers on the street as taxi drivers do. Their services are supposed to be point to point.

In a news story Thursday A.M. Costa Rica noted that the deal was the latest of final settlements reached between the drivers and the central government. A similar accord was announced in February 2009.


Jacó soccer player dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 25-year-old Jacó amateur soccer player died Sunday night in a dispute at the playing field in Lagunilla de Jacó. A suspect was detained.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the victim, identified by the last name of Calero, had just played soccer and stopped to chat with some companions at the side of the field. Agents still do not know what caused the dispute, but suddenly someone produced a knife and stabbed the victim in the chest.

The stabbing happened about 6 p.m.

In another Jacó case, the Juzgado Penal de Garabito has jailed for six months investigation a man identified by the last names of Madrigal Zúñiga in the murder Friday of Duberney Vargas Tamara, 26, in a commercial center in the Pacific beach town. The victim was shot in the head.  A companion was injured.


Our reader's opinion
New phone company
wanted in Nuevo Arenal

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Everyone's favorite company “ICE” seems to set the standard for the way things go here in Pura Vida land. Electric rates that are one of the highest in the world. Customer service that goes through the motions, but really doesn't care. At least they are keeping a lot of the populace employed. There was a cartoon we all remember with a coyote and road-runner. I saw a decal on a car once with the coyote having his hands around the neck of the road-runner about to choke him to death with the caption “Beep beep now, you b_ _tard”.

I feel that ICE has its hands wrapped around the neck of Costa Rica and its good citizens. Have you ever gone in and tried to complain to anyone about your service? I think some of the employees in the office are wonderful, really. They are the front lines and protect the non-reachable management from having to answer truthfully.

I have been living in Nuevo Arenal for over five years now and still don't have a house phone that works properly. The lines in the street are rusted, and they don't care to change them. Not enough people living here.

Do you get a reduced rate for the poor service. Yeah! Right! I do have to admit that my 3g phone is like the 8th wonder of the world for me now. But now we have this “Kolbi” for so-called high speed internet service. To tell a long story short, I have been paying for the 1gb service for a few months now. The actual speed that I get varies from 240 to 700 mbs. About half of what I'm paying for. I'm so tired of going to the office to complain. It's sort of “If you don't like it, get lost."

Now today, I returned defeated and asked to drop my service to the 512mb service since I'm not getting any more than that anyway. When I returned to my home to check my speed, I'm now down to 250mbs, half of what I'm now paying for and a .06 upload speed. Sort of like going to the gas station and paying for 20 gallons of gas and getting only 10.

I hope and I pray that the competition gets here quickly and blows ICE out of the water. Too bad we are stuck with them to provide electricity.

Tom Ploskina
Nuevo Arenal

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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, Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 131

Rapid Respose
Rock n roll

traditional dishes
Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural photos
Fresco de ñampí and cremitas a base de café were two of the winners.
Drink made from a root among cultural heritage winners
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Back in the distant past when there was no McDonald's, Costa Ricans pretty well had to make do with what the garden provided. Only infrequently do these traditional dishes come to light. But they did Saturday in Barva de Heredia when the Ministerio de Cultura's Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural held another of its food contests.

The project is to preserve the traditional by encouraging residents to prepare and present regional dishes. The dishes end up as recipes in booklets published by the centro. Already published are three booklets over the foods in Guanacaste and in Puntarenas, Limón and Heredia and in Cartago.
The project began in 2001, and Saturday the location for the contest was the Museo de Cultura Popular of the Universidad Nacional.

Guillermo Bogantes Bonilla was one of the winners of a money prize for his drink made from ñampí (Colocasia esculenta) which is known in English as taro root. The vegetable is better known as a potato-like ingredient in stews and soups, but Bogantes turned it into a traditional drink.

A special category this year was a traditional recipe with a coffee base.  Rodrigo Núñez Corrales won with his cremitas de café. In all there were eight winners whose efforts will be featured in a forthcoming booklet.

 More than 100 persons attended to sample the dishes.


T-shirt campaign designed to spread Michael Dixon's name
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

David Dixon, the brother of the missing British tourist, is not giving up.

His frustrating search for his missing brother has turned up zero clues, but he and his family are keeping hope alive. The latest proof of that is the Michael Dixon T-shirt.

David Dixon said that he has started selling T-shirts "to raise awareness of Michael's situation and hopefully raise funds so we can continue to finance the searches." He also is inviting those who buy t-shirts to send in a photo of themselves wearing it so he can post it to the family's Web site.

Michael Dixon vanished Oct. 18 and was last seen when he was in a Tamarindo hotel. There are no other clues. He is one of two tourists and one expat who have gone missing since February 2009 in Guanacaste.

Michael Dixon, 34, has many friends, and there are many efforts to raise funds or keep his name in front of the public.

"Your purchase of a Help Find Michael Dixon t-shirt helps us not only to fund the ongoing investigative efforts into Michael's disappearance but more importantly to raise awareness of what has happened to
Michael Dixon t shirts
T-shirt designed to publicize Michael Dixon's name

him," said his brother. "It is our hope that by wearing this T-shirt, our message will reach both the authorities and those individuals who could be key in providing information that could lead us to him. Any unused proceeds from the T-shirts will be donated to charity."


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 131



Shooting of school director prompts backpack searches

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Like after many other school crimes elsewhere, the shooting of a school director Thursday has produced a lot of hand wringing.

Meanwhile, the school official, Nancy María Chaverri Jiménez, clings to life at Hospital México. Physicians have stopped administering sedatives, but she remains unconscious. The bullet pierced her neck and damaged the spine at the base of the skull.  Doctors think that she will be paralyzed even if she recovers.

She is the director of the private Colegio Montebello in Heredia. A 17-year-old student took his father's pistol to
school to shoot the women in her office over previous discipline issues, said agents.

The education ministry has issued orders to resume searching the backpacks students bring to school, but they said they had no authority to impose this rule on private schools.

President Laura Chinchilla produced a YouTube video in which she said that together citizens can defeat violence.

The youth has been housed in a juvenile facility. He is liable for an eight-year sentence no matter what happens to the school director. That is the maximum for a juvenile offender.



Higher percentage allocated for public education budget

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature approved for the second and final time Tuesday a reform of a constitutional article that raises the amount that the government must allocate to education. The new amount will be 8 percent of the estimated gross domestic product.

The current section says that public expenditure in state education, including higher education, shall not be less than 6 percent per year of the gross domestic product.
The bill specifies that the state spending on education should increase every year until by 2014 the amount is 8 percent. The Banco Central calculates the gross domestic product, which is the total of all goods and services.

Some lawmakers have argued that the state never really reached 6 percent.

The estimated gross domestic product is about $35 billion. Intel, the chip manufacturer and exporter, accounts for about 8 percent of this figure.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 131

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Religious intolerance said
to be on the increase

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A leading minority rights organization says religious intolerance has become one of the main causes of persecution of minorities around the world.

The London-based Minority Rights Group International, in its 2010 report, calls religious intolerance the new racism and says its impact is felt on religious minorities across the globe.

It says such minorities also face increased persecution and reduced freedom stemming from strict government anti-terrorism measures imposed after the September 2001 terror attacks on the United States.  

It says discrimination against Muslims is on the rise in the United States and Western Europe, and cites increasing physical violence against religious minorities in Iraq and Pakistan.  The report says those attacks include abduction, murder, torture and rape.

In Asia and Africa, the report says religious affiliation is overtaking race and ethnicity as a key factor driving discrimination and violence against minorities.

The report says a number of countries, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, have either introduced or amended religious registration laws.

The report notes that Islam, Christianity and Judaism are the only three recognized religions in Egypt, leaving the Baha'i with limited access to employment, education, medical and financial services.

It also says U.S. authorities have targeted citizens of 14 countries, 13 of them predominantly Muslim, for special scrutiny at airports.

In India, Muslims were found to be targeted for arrests on terrorism charges with minimal evidence.

The report also notes an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents against Jewish communities in Europe.

Identification as pastors
not constitutional error


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national election tribunal has rejected a complaint by a man who said that the daily newspaper La Nación violated the law by identifying three sitting lawmakers as evangelical pastors.

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones identified the man as Douglas Alberto Bolaños Villalobos of the Movimiento Social y Agrario.

The man objected to news stories March 17 and May 2 in which the newspaper identified Guyón Masey, Justo Orozco and Carlos Avendaño as pastors. He said this identification infringed on a constitutional article that says clergymen or secular individuals cannot make political propaganda in any way invoking religious motives or making use of religious beliefs.

The tribunal said that the identification given the men by the newspaper as part of a news story about interviews did not damage a fundamental electoral right. The tribunal also said that the constitutional article did not restrict identification of a legislative deputy by occupation.

However an earlier decision by the tribunal said that a Roman Catholic bishop violated the constitutional article when he made statements about how his parishioners should vote from the pulpit.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 131


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Dutch beat Uruguay
to advance to finals

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
Posted at 3 p.m. Tuesday

Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben scored second-half goals three minutes apart to lead the Netherlands to a 3-2 victory over Uruguay in Cape Town and into the World Cup final.

Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst opened the scoring in the 18th minute of the semifinal, before Uruguay's Diego Forlan has scored the equalizer in the 41st minute.

The Netherlands appeared to have the game in hand, before Uruguay's Maximiliano Pereira scored off a free kick in the second minute of extra time (92) to make it 3-2.  But the South Americans failed to break through in a final flurry as the Dutch side advanced to the final.

The Netherlands meets either Germany or Spain in the final at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium on Sunday. Spain and Germany play Wednesday in Durban.

The Dutch had won five straight World Cup matches, including a 2-1 win over five-time tournament champion Brazil in the quarterfinals.

Uruguay, the 16th-ranked team in the world, won the World Cup in 1930 and 1950.  The fourth-ranked Dutch lost in back-to-back World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978.

Submersible sub found
in jungle shipyard


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Ecuadorian authorities have discovered a 33-meter-long submarine designed to smuggle drugs to the United States.

Officials say police found the vessel at a jungle shipyard in Ecuador near the Colombian border as it was preparing for its first voyage.  One person was arrested at the site. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration assisted in the discovery.

U.S. officials say the submarine is the first completely submersible vessel they have ever found that is designed for transoceanic drug trafficking voyages.  Semi-submersible vessels typically unload drugs destined for the United States in Central America and Mexico. Several have been caught off the Costa Rican coast.

The latest submarine is equipped with a cabin about 2.7 meters high, a periscope and air conditioning.

Ecuador is in the Andean region, the world's largest cocaine-producing area.



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