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(506) 2223-1327               Published Wednesday, July 7, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 132        E-mail us
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Shore leave for anti-drug crews excites the left
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature's approval of shore leave for U.S. Navy and Coast Guard crews has galvanized the left and stoked anti-American sentiment.

The Comisión Nacional de Enlace, originally formed by Costa Ricans opposed to the Free Trade Treaty with the United States and other Latin American nations, has created a Web site that translates to "no military presence in Costa Rica." The main headline is "Fuera Militares Gringos de Costa Rica."

The Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados likens the arrival of U.S. servicemen and women to an invasion and praises the lone lawmaker of the Partido Frente Amplio, the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana and the Partido Acción Ciudadana for opposing the measure under the title "Alerta Roja." The association is friendly to Cuba and strongly opposed the free trade treaty.

Universidad Nacional professor Freddy Pacheco reports that a Web page petition against the measure has 2,200 electronic signatures. In fact, the Web page reports it has 2,511 signatures. Statements along with the signatures frequently show a misunderstanding of what happened. One individual, perhaps Pacheco himself, says "I sign against the installation of a U.S. military base in Costa Rican territory. Another says that the approval is just a way to militarize the country.

Prensa Latina, the Cuban news service, has distributed a news article to the world that says "Costa Rica has allowed 46 U.S. warships and 7,000 Marines to enter the country despite objection by the opposition parties, which describe the move as 'illegal.'" The Cuban report also says that the decision grants U.S. troops permission to stay in Costa Rica from July 1 to Dec. 31 to fight drug trafficking.

What is not mentioned is that the ships will not be arriving all at once and that not all the ships listed as approved will come at all.

If 7,000 U.S. personnel do arrive for shore leave, the economic benefit for the economies of Golfito and Puntarenas would be at least $3.5 million, A.M. Costa Rica has estimated.

Such approvals are routine for U.S. vessels on anti-drug patrol, mostly in the Pacific. Only once did the legislature deny permission.

Primary opponents in the legislature are Jose Maria Villalta Florez-Estrada of Frente Amplio, a party that has ties with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and Luis Fishman Zonsinski, the
military invasion graphic
Asociación Nacional de Empleados likens the shore leave to an invasion in this graphic attributed to M. Rodríguez E.

unsuccessful presidential candidate of Unidad.

The Asamblea Legislativa granted the shore leave approval Wednesday, but the U.S. visitors again were the subject of discussion Tuesday by lawmakers. Fishman and Villalta contended that the anti-drug agreement under which approval was granted had expired.

Other lawmakers rejected that opinion, and Luis Gerardo Villanueva Monge, president of the assembly, said that a new resolution might be presented today but that in any case the permission for the ships to arrive will not be suspended. His Partido Liberación Nacional maintains a majority coalition in the legislative body.

The anti-drug agreement is not the only reason the legislature handled this matter. The Costa Rica Constitution requires legislative action to permit the arrival of foreign military ships and troops.

The question of shore leave might rise to the level of a Sala IV constitutional case. Several lawmakers said Tuesday that they were preparing a filing with the high court over the legislature's grant of permission. Some of the lawmakers are fundamentally opposed to military operations against drug trafficking.

Costa Rica, of course, does not have a military, and its citizens are sensitive to that topic.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 132

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Kids get chance to color
many types of bugs

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The publishing arm of the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad has produced the second edition of "Coloring Nature: Insects," a coloring book for children with trilingual text in English, Spanish, and German. It is written and illustrated by Gary Diller, a naturalist resident in Monteverde.

Scientific names are also given. Groups included are sow bugs, scorpions, spiders, centipedes, praying mantis, aquatic stink bug, bumblebees, dragonflies, butterflies, flies, wasps, bees, and ants. There are a total of 96 pages and multiple examples of each group.

Diller has been in Costa Rica for 28 years and lived in Monteverde long before it was fashionable. He is originally from the United States.      

The book is available from Costa Rican booksellers for 4,000 colons or for $10 from the INBio Web site.        

Now it's La Niña causing
cooler ocean temperatures

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The weather pattern known as El Niño rapidly dissipated in early May, giving way to the development of cool, neutral to weak La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific Ocean, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization reported Tuesday.

El Niño refers to an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, while La Niña is characterized by unusually cool ocean temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific. Both events can disrupt the normal patterns of tropical precipitation and atmospheric circulation, and have widespread impacts on climate in many parts of the world.

The prevailing conditions are more likely than not to strengthen into a basin-wide La Niña over the coming months, according to the El Niño/La Niña update issued by the meteorological organization.

By mid-June, the sea-surface temperatures had decreased to approximately 0.5 degrees C. below normal over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, near the borderline of La Niña conditions.

Further, below average sea temperatures exist beneath the surface of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. Forecast models continue to predict further decreases in the central and eastern Equatorial Pacific sea-surface temperature. In particular, most dynamic models strongly favor further La Niña development, according to the meteorological organization

While it is likely that La Niña conditions will further develop in the next several months, the timing and magnitude of such an event in 2010 are as yet uncertain, with no indications at this time of a particularly strong event in terms of sea-surface temperatures.

The unusual climate patterns and extremes that occur in association with La Niña conditions also occur independently of La Niña, and therefore individual users of climate information should seek detailed interpretation for their locations and sectors, the organization said in the update.

Police nab 287 illegals
mostly in northern zone

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The number of illegal immigrants captured in the northern zone is now 287, said the Fuerza Pública.

Police have been working since Friday at a border location where there has been little police presence. The section was well known as a spot where Nicaraguans could easily cross the border without the necessity of paperwork.

Fuerza Pública officers were working along with immigration agents. The open border had been featured on San José television.

Some 215 were caught in Los Chiles, including 29 Tuesday. Some 31 illegals were captured in Upala and 12 in Río Cuarto de Grecia. Already 215 have been deported, officials said.

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A.M. Costa Rica guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

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 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.

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.

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.

For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
News of Central America
News of Cuba
News of Venezuela
News of Colombia
News of El Salvador

News of Honduras
News of the Dominican Republic
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 132

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more environmental damage
Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo  photos
Opening a road in Bahía Ballena de Osa left bare earth and steep cuts in the forest.
More Osa environment cases
reported under investigation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo says it has uncovered 13 more cases of environmental damage in Osa, and that brings the number of open cases to 60.

The new cases involve cutting of trees, opening roadways without permission, changes in land use, invasion of the mangroves or changing the direction of a water course. The areas involved include the Osa Peninsula and that part of the Cantón de Osa that is along the Pacific coast.

José Lino Chaves, president of the tribunal, said that the extensive damage to natural resources in this area caused his staff to concentrate efforts there this year.

One individual in Mogos de Osa has three separate active cases against him, the tribunal said. The bulk of the investigation was done in March.

The tribunal has the authority to assess substantial fines for environmental damage.

Most of the new cases are against individuals who live in the zone. One corporate owner is Tranquility Management  Ltda., which operates Proyecto Lago Peace Beach in Puerto Jiménez. The tribunal said that an artificial lake was built to produce fish but there was adjacent environmental damage.
envirnmental damage
In Isla Grande de Golfito inspectors said they found this property where trees were cut and mangroves damaged in the maritine and public zone.

Living in a home is not the same as having a job, high labor court rules
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The school board of directors permitted a woman to live in a house on the property, but when the board took back the property some 14 years later the woman sought payment as an employee. She said she worked as a guard.

The woman sought vacation pay, a salary, overtime, holiday pay, Christmas bonuses and other labor payments.

The Sala II labor court characterized the relationship as symbiotic and not as employer-employee, But two lower courts sided with the woman and the Juzgado de Trabajo del II Circuito Judicial de San José in 2008 awarded the woman nearly 14 million colons. An appeals court upheld this verdict. The Sala II rejected both decisions.
The case is relevant to expats because many have help that lives in a home on their property. The magistrates determined that there was not a continuous contract with the woman for the use of the home.

The case has been in the courts since 2004.

The high court determined that the school board of directors was doing a favor for the women and her children in giving them a place to stay.

The court produced a lengthy decision that used Spanish jurisprudence to define the nature of labor.

However, one magistrate broke with the majority and said that the woman should be compensated.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 132

Contract drivers slow but do not block downtown traffic

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Federación Nacional de Porteadores lined up cars three deep along Avenida 2 Tuesday, but there was no positive response from the central government.

These are the contract drivers who have rejected a proposal endorsed by other drivers. Unlike other protests, the drivers Tuesday did not block completely the highways, although traffic was slowed.

Only in Avenida Central that passes to the south of the Asamblea Legislative complex did traffic officers block the way and impose a detour. An estimated 3,500 drivers participated in the demonstration. That's more than half of the porteadores in the country.

The transport ministry quickly released an endorsement of
the accord reached a week ago with other drivers' groups. The ministry also said optimistically that traffic was not affected.

Drivers came from all over the country. A spokesperson said that the federation does not agree with the current accord because drivers would be trading a firm legal right for a temporary permission that could be withdrawn. Now they rely on a section of the commercial code. The group also wants the right to work across provincial boundaries, something that would not be possible if drivers obtained local business licenses, as the accord requires. The spokesperson mentioned driving a passenger from Alajuela to San José, which would take the car across a provincial border.

The accord, brokered by Casa Presidencial, requires legislative approval of proposed changes in the law.

Salvadoran writer wants to tell story of his cultures

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

At least one million people from the Central American nation of El Salvador have made the journey northward to the United States, where they often face hardship in places like inner-city Los Angeles.

Randy Jurado Ertll says the Salvadoran immigrant story is not often heard, "Because there's not much literature.  If you really look at it, you go to the bookstores, the libraries, you rarely find any books that speak of the Salvadoran-American experience," he explained.  "It's usually Mexican-American, Cuban-American, Puerto Rican; so I felt it was about time that we started telling our own story too."

El Salvador is a small Central American nation of six million people.  It was torn by civil war in the 1980s and hundreds of thousands headed northward to escape the turmoil and poverty.  Many entered the United States illegally, and few were granted political asylum. 

The U.S. Census Bureau says that in 2007, there were 1.5 million people of Salvadoran background in the United States.  Two-thirds were foreign-born, and nearly 40 percent lived in California.  Ertll wanted to write a book that tells their story through his own experience.

He runs a social agency called El Centro de Acción Social in the small city of Pasadena, which operates programs for low-income residents, including after-school tutoring and English classes.

Most who take part are Hispanic and some, like Ertll, are Salvadoran-American. 

The writer is the product of three cultures.  His father was born in France, and his mother was Salvadoran.  They met in the United States, where Ertll was born.

Because he is U.S.-born, he is an American citizen.  But his mother, a Salvadoran who had overstayed her visa, was deported when he was 2 years old, and he went with her to El Salvador.

When Ertll was 5, his mother was able to return to the United States.  They settled in a minority neighborhood in south-central Los Angeles plagued by crime and violence.  When he was just 6 years old, Ertll recalls a young man across the street being fatally shot.  His mother tried in vain to stop the bleeding.

There were racial tensions between African-Americans and Latino immigrants.  He says many friends joined gangs, and some would later be killed or wind up in prison.  He
says the pattern has continued with the younger generation.

"You don't get an education, you drop out, then you join a gang; and then you live by selling drugs, by hurting your own community," he said.

Ertll was lucky to get some help along the way, in one case, from a concerned Irish-American teacher who spoke fluent Spanish and helped him learn to read and write, first in Spanish, then in English, he said.

When Ertll was a teenager, his life would change when he was chosen for a program that sends inner-city youngsters to small American cities to pursue their schooling.  He left south central Los Angeles to live with a host family in the north-central U.S. city of Rochester, Minnesota.  It was home to a large computer manufacturing plant and a world-renowned medical clinic.

"And I would say it was great there because it's a different city. It was beautiful; you have IBM, you have the Mayo Clinic, great schools there," he recalled. "And that was, I would say, a wonderful experience because I was able to focus on studying without all of the hassles of south-central because, believe me, you're not safe there."

Returning to Los Angeles, Ertll focused on his studies at Occidental College, where a young Barack Obama had spent two years as a student a decade earlier.

Ertll studied political science and Spanish and then spent a year in Washington.  He worked in the office of Rep. Hilda Solis of California, who has since become the U.S. secretary of Labor.  Returning to Los Angeles, he worked with the Latino community.

He says inner-city Los Angeles remains a place of hardship with too few jobs.  He fears violence that erupted in the city in the 1960s and the 1990s could happen again.

"Those areas can't continue to be neglected, because otherwise you're going to have the same problems.  You had the Watts riots, you had the L.A. riots; and it's just a repetitive cycle of violence," he said.

Ertll says that immigrant stories are complicated, and that life for new arrivals is difficult.  He says for him and many others, the way to a better future is through education.

He believes that big cities should improve their schools.  He also says Washington needs to tackle the difficult issue of immigration reform, and resolve the plight of millions of mixed-status families, composed of both American citizens and illegal immigrants.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 132

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U.S. Justice Department
files against Arizona law

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Department of Justice challenged the state of Arizona’s recently passed immigration law, in federal court Tuesday.

In a brief filed in the District of Arizona, the Department said the law, S.B. 1070, unconstitutionally interferes with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, explaining that “the Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country.”  A patchwork of state and local policies would seriously disrupt federal immigration enforcement.  Having enacted its own immigration policy that conflicts with federal immigration law, Arizona “crossed a constitutional line,” the filing said.

The department’s brief said that the law will place significant burdens on federal agencies, diverting their resources away from high-priority targets, such as aliens implicated in terrorism, drug smuggling, and gang activity, and those with criminal records.  The law’s mandates on Arizona law enforcement will also result in the harassment and detention of foreign visitors and legal immigrants, as well as U.S. citizens, who cannot readily prove their lawful status, it said.

In declarations filed with the brief, Arizona law enforcement officials, including the chiefs of police of Phoenix and Tucson, said that the law will hamper their ability to effectively police their communities.  The chiefs said that victims of or witnesses to crimes would be less likely to contact or cooperate with law enforcement officials and that implementation of the law would require them to reassign officers from critical areas such as violent crimes, property crimes, and home invasions, the filing said. The Arizona law requires local police officers to verify the legal status of persons they suspect of being illegal aliens.

The Justice Department said it filed the suit after consultating Arizona officials, law enforcement officers and groups, and civil rights advocates.  The suit was filed on behalf of the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State, which share responsibilities in administering federal immigration law.

“Arizonans are understandably frustrated with illegal immigration, and the federal government has a responsibility to comprehensively address those concerns,” Attorney General Holder said.  “But diverting federal resources away from dangerous aliens such as terrorism suspects and aliens with criminal records will impact the entire country’s safety.   Setting immigration policy and enforcing immigration laws is a national responsibility.  Seeking to address the issue through a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves.”

“With the strong support of state and local law enforcement, I vetoed several similar pieces of legislation as governor of Arizona because they would have diverted critical law enforcement resources from the most serious threats to public safety and undermined the vital trust between local jurisdictions and the communities they serve,” said Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security secretary. 

The Justice department has requested a preliminary injunction to enjoin enforcement of the law, arguing that the law’s operation will cause irreparable harm.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, July 7, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 132

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Movie producers seek
input from world's students

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An animated movie about climate change is taking shape in Costa Rica though its reach is international, as suggestions for the plot and characters are requested from students around the world.

The point of view is that temperatures, the result of global warming from human activities, will cause apocalyptic effects on earth and humanity. The Industrial Revolution is presented as ultimately a negative for society.

Presently the introduction is in English and Spanish but more languages will be added, says producer Bruce Callow of the British Embassy. It is a six-minute short film about extraterrestrials who arrive in 2050 to find the Earth devastated by climate change, and discuss if they should return in time to 2012 in order to warn humanity of the consequences of its actions. They consider what to say, which is one of the main areas where input from students is sought.

Costa Ricans Daniel and Miguel Bermejo are also producing the film. Thelvin Cabezas, director of animation for the recent hit animated movie "Avatar," is providing technical supervision.

Costa Rican-born astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz is participating in the project with plot development.

Students are asked to submit their ideas for the eventual full-length feature film. These can be written suggestions for the plot, drawings, or video about their efforts to combat climate change in their own communities.

The film’s invitation to participants can be found at

President meets with family
of wounded director

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla met Tuesday with the husband and two sons of the school director who was shot by a student Thursday.

The husband is Javier Lucár, and the sons are Luis Diego and Giancarlo.

The school official remains in very critical condition in Hospital México. She still is unconscious with a bullet wound to her spine and head. The school is in Heredia.

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details