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(506) 2223-1327       Published Tuesday, July 8, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 134        E-mail us
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Arias minister wants to derail Tomayko extradition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The head of Costa Rica's woman's institute has given her support to Chere Lyn Tomayko, who awaits extradition to the United States to face a federal charge of parental child abduction.

The support came in a heart-rending opinion piece published in La Nación Sunday. The writer was Jeannette Carrillo Madrigal, executive president of the Instituto Nacional de Mujer.

Ms. Carrillo characterized the former boyfriend of Ms. Tomayko as a violent aggressor and said the woman might be murdered if she were returned to the United States.

Ms. Tomayko is the Texas woman who fled that state in 1997 with her minor child contrary to a judicial order of dual custody. For years she lived openly in Costa Rica with at least the tacit approval of some U.S. officials. It was not until her minor child turned 18 that law enforcement officials arrested her on a U.S. federal arrest warrant for parental child abduction. She had made the F.B.I.'s 10-most-wanted list for years.

Monday in what appeared to be part of an orchestrated campaign Julio Rodríguez took up the cause in his En Vela column in the same newspaper. He said that Ms. Tomayko fled the United States from the claws of a man with a long history of aggression.

Ms. Tomayko claims aggression by the father of the child, Roger Cyprian. A Texas judge discounted those claims and ordered that both he and Ms. Tomayko should have joint custody of their child, Alexandria Camille Cyprian. Cyprian, who still is in Texas, denies those claims, too.

Ms. Tomayko has been in the Buen Pastor women's prison for 10 months while her lawyers filed repeated court appeals to prevent extradition. A.M. Costa Rica reported June 19 that she had lost her last appeal and would be extradited within two months.

However, Ms.  Carrillo of the women's institute raises another legal point in her column, "The human face of a judicial file." Ms. Tomayko has had two more children in Costa Rica. The father
Ms. Carrillo
Minister Carrillo
Ms tomayko
Ms. Tomayko

is Javier Montero, an Heredia veterinarian. Ms. Carrillo said that the children did not have adequate representation of their interests in the court proceedings. Ms. Carrillo said that help was sought but not received from the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.

She also said that "Our country ought to offer their support and solidarity to Ms. Chere Lyn Tomayko" because fundamental constitutional rights to live in dignity in peace and without violence are at stake.
Rodríguez went even further and said that the woman ought not be "deported."

Among other legal efforts, Ms. Tomayko tried at one time to obtain political refugee status in Costa Rica, court officials said. She has been successful in winning the support of many other persons, mostly women, with her claims of physical aggression.

There has been no explanation given by U.S. Embassy as to why Ms. Tomayko was allowed to live so many years in Costa Rica while on the F.B.I. most-wanted list. Embassy officials had full knowledge of her whereabout since at least 2002 when a reporter passed on information at the request of a reader. Embassy officials will not comment to A.M. Costa Rica, but they have made some comments to Cyprian.

The father said he is distressed at losing the companionship of his child for years. Now the young woman does not want to talk to him, and he blames the influences of the mother, he said.

Ms. Carrillo is an appointee of President Óscar Arias Sánchez.  She holds the rank of minister. The Tomayko case is covered by an international treaty.


10-step program for Savings Unlimited investors
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hey, Milanes/Savings Unlimited  investors! Quit calling us. Here's what you need to know to file a claim against the former fugitive:

1. You need to make an appointment with the prosecutor,  Alfredo Araya. He is at  506-2295-3865, and you or someone with you needs to know how to speak Spanish.

Whoops! Don't do that today. The judicial branch is on vacation until July 14. No one will be home.

2. You need to have all your paperwork in hand. that includes security checks written by Savings Unlimited and even monthly statements.

3. You need to come to Costa Rica and visit the prosecutor. You need to hurry, but one reader said he had an appointment as late as July 16. Bring all the paperwork.

4. If you do not speak Spanish well, you need to have an official translator. Get a friend or business acquaintance here to recommend one. Figure on paying about $50 an hour.

5. Don't bother with the victim assistance office in the judiciary. They told a reporter Thursday that they did not want any cases.
6. Don't bother with the U.S. Embassy. Officials should have information like this posted on their Web site, but their "protection of U.S. citizens" is mostly rhetoric. They didn't do much with the Luis Enrique Villalobos case either, and the loss to mostly U.S. citizens there was about $1 billion, perhaps five times what Milanes had on his books when he left Nov. 23, 2002.

7. Don't expect to make any friends here. Those who already filed their complaints are afraid more claimants will mess up any plans Luis Milanes has for settling his case. They don't want you to file.

8. Be prepared to wait a long time for nothing.

9. Hope to get 20 cents on the dollar with no interest while the persons who are charged in the case are absolved of any wrongdoing and live happily ever after.

10. You might also consider filing a complaint with your nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Attorney, U.S. Postal inspectors or the Internal Revenue Service. Luis Milanes is a U.S. citizen, and there must be some tax liability when you walk away with $200 million. Of course, U.S. officials did nothing in the Villalobos case either. And both high interest operations had a significant presence in the United States.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 134

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Environmental judges head
to the Pacific south coast


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo and a crew of lawyers and experts are conducting a sweep for environmental problems from Dominical south to the Osa Peninsula on Costa Rica's Pacific coast. The sweep began Monday.

The tribunal has closed down projects in the central Pacific and on the Caribbean coast this year. This is the agency's fourth sweep since January, said an announcement.

The tribunal is an agency of the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía. It has its own judges and the power to freeze projects that appear to be damaging the environment.

The strip of coastal land along the costenera highway will get the bulk of attention because this region has seen a 202 percent increase in construction permits in the last year, said the announcement. The environmental experts are very concerned about damage in this zone, which is the only tropical rainforest in the southern Pacific, it said.

With the judges and inspectors and experts from several other agencies as well as from the Área de Conservación Osa are conducting the sweep. Officials said they were very concerned about the rings of construction that were forming around protected areas. They called the problem the  virus inmobiliario, which probably can be best translated as the housing virus.

In past sweeps the tribunal has stopped construction of expensive homes in the maritime zone and assessed millions in damages against developers.

Education officials plan
to repair metal school


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

FaceD with a rebellion by parents, the Ministerio de Educación Pública decided to make quick repairs to the Escuela Buenaventura Corrales in downtown San José instead of transferring students after their midyear vacation ends July 21.

A study by the  Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos determined that a quick fix would be to reinforce some 18 steel columns on both the first and second floor. The bases of these metal columns have been corroded by the weather and allowed to rust due to lack of maintenance.

The school also is known as the Escuela Metálica because most of its construction is of steel. But the material is more than 110 years old. Education officials will try to get the columns fixed during the midyear vacation. The structure is a national historic site.

Two Heredia communities
are getting new bridges


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Comisión Nacional de Emergencias said it is building  two new bridges, one in  in Horquetas and another in Chilamate de Sarapiquí, both areas that are heavily affected by flooding.

The bridges cost close to 300 million colons combined and are expected to boost local agriculture by aiding  the transportation of goods. Increased tourism access is also a plus, according to a commission release.

The bridge in Horquetas is estimated to open in three months complete and will span 117 meters (about 380 feet), while the Chilamate construction will measure 56 meters (about 182 feet) and should be completed by the end of the month, the release said. Both Horquetas and Chilamate are located in the province of Heredia along the Sardinal and Sarapiquí, They frequently are isolated during heavy storms due to flooding.

Five new fire stations planned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Contraloría General de la República has used its emergency direct recruitment power to assign the construction of five new fire stations to the Productos de Concreto firm. The division cited the failures of previous attempts to secure competitive bids and the growing risk of a fire emergency in one of the three affected areas in a Instituto Nacional de Seguros press release issued Friday.

New stations will be constructed by the firm in Pital in Alajuela, Tilarán in Guanacaste, San Ignacio de Acosta in San José, Batán in Limón and Paquera in Puntarenas, according to the release.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 134


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Rendering of a new immigration building can be found on a table in the office of the director general.
new immigration building
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas

Immigration office has lot of plans but not a lot of money
By Elise Sonray
of  the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Grand plans are under way for the immigration department, said the director Monday. Modern buildings and a high-tech entry system complete with digitalized fingerprints and photos are already in the works. The only problem is there's no money for the project, said the immigration director.

The immigration department has had its share of problems. With only 25 immigration agents policing in the entire country,  deported foreign criminals return easily and mock the criminal justice system, according to the director of  immigration police. Not to mention the bad press alleging that certain border checkpoints are a joke.

Mario Zamora, director general of the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería, said he hopes this will change when the new immigration law is finally passed by the legislature. The proposal which was labeled as “urgent” in 2006, still is waiting for discussion, said Zamora. Each month officials from immigration are meeting with advisers and diplomats to fine tune the new proposal, said Zamora.

“It is now in the last stage, and we hope discussions will begin very soon,” he said. Things have gone slowly, said Zamora, because  free trade discussions took priority in the Asamblea Legislativa.

If passed, the new law, among other things, would create a much needed specialized police force to investigate matters rather than simply deporting foreign criminals, said Zamora. The law would also lengthen the time for deported criminals to be banned from the country from 5 years to 10 years. However, when asked whether the new law would enable immigration police to arrest foreign criminals, Zamora said that is a judicial matter not related to the immigration department.

Francisco Castaing, director of the Policía Especial de Migración, has complained in previous interviews about the criminal justice system and the lack of power given to immigration police. “We need a method to penalize these people who make fun of the law,” said Castaing in February. He said immigration police felt impotent with the current penal system for criminals. 

The next goal on the immigration agenda is modern buildings for the headquarters in La Uruca, said Zamora, who showed plans for a number of glass encased offices.
Biometric equipment to scan foreigners' prints when they enter the country would be  part of the new project, said Zamora. The two main problems now are the high petroleum prices which have weakened budgets and the major problems getting grants, said Zamora.

But immigration is not all amiss, said the director, adding that many successes have been achieved in a short amount of time. Just less than a year ago, said Zamora, immigration workers at the airports still were doing everything on paper.

“All the customs declarations and immigration forms were put into boxes and delivered to an office. There were nine people who hand sorted all of those papers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” said Zamora.

One little mistake could mean the freedom of an international criminal, said Zamora. “If someone for example wrote Mario as María, everything would have been filed wrong. What's worse,” he added, “is that they were three months late.”

The paperwork was three months behind in low season and 6 months behind in high season, said Zamora. That meant if there was an international order of capture officials would not know the criminal had actually entered Costa Rica until months later, said Zamora.

 “If someone called wanting to know who had entered the country that morning they would have been asked 'Can you call back in three months?'” This was unacceptable, said Zamora. A computer system was finally initiated in the Juan Santamaría airport in December, 2007, he said. Daniel Oduber airport in Libería soon followed.

It was just in 2006 that people were camping overnight in tents outside of the immigration offices, said Zamora. Anyone who wanted a good place in line would have to pay for it. Zamora changed the illegal system when he entered office, he said. After many nights of immigration police regulating the line, the campers finally stopped vending their spaces, said Zamora.

Although the immigration department has come a long way from tents and months of  paperwork backup, there is still a long way to go, said Zamora. “We are in the red numbers. In migratory terms our immigration system is very outdated in comparison with many countries,” said Zamora.  There are probably 200,000 to 300,000 people living illegally in Costa Rica, estimated Zamora.  


Residency call center project has had a lot of problems
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The call center which is supposed to help foreigners renew their documents has experienced major problems, said the director of immigration Monday.

The 900 number, a plan initiated by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería  in May, has had technical problems, fraud, and error, said Mario Zamora, director of immigration.

Many foreigners called the number to make an appointment later to discover that their appointment was lost or never entered onto the daily list, said the immigration director. “Some of the lists were turned in incomplete,” said Zamora.

People have also been selling fake appointments, said the immigration director. Zamora said immigration officials have started asking more detailed questions of foreigners who they suspect may have bought a fake appointment. Immigration officials now ask to whom the person talked at the call center, what time they called at and other question, he said. Zamora did not say who had been selling the fake documents or if the initial problems had been fully remedied.

Another issue with the call center said Zamora is that people can't dial 900 numbers from pubic phones, a problem immigration officials did not realize when they invented the phone line. “It's really more of an ICE problem than an immigration problem,” said Zamora.

Colibrí phone cards will fix the issue, said the director.

On the other hand, the new residency cards have been
Mario Zamora photoA.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Mario Zamora displays a new (left) and an old cédula

working great, said Zamora. The cards contain the signature and biometric data for positive identification. The cards are produced by machinery and a patented process from Lasercard, a California company that also makes the green cards for the U.S. government. A previous version of the residency cédulas was defective and the ink rubbed off.


You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 134


Two homeopathic doctors get validation from Sala IV
By Jeremy Arias
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has ruled that two homeopathic doctors could continue to practice without membership in the Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos.

The ruling allows Eduardo Quirós Ruiz and Errol Williams del Reid to practice natural medicine while maintaining membership in the Colegio de Biólogos. The court rejected claims of the Ministerio de Salud that legal medical practices required membership in the college of doctors and surgeons ,according to a court release.

Homeopathy is a naturalistic form of medicine, the aim of which is to cure a disease or sickness by introducing diluted amounts of a substance that would likely duplicate the symptoms of the original illness, according to the US-based National Center for Homeopathy Web site.

It is often criticized by practitioners of modern scientific medicine.

“It's a natural form of healing, there are no chemicals involved,” Williams said in a telephone interview. “In the general public it is very well accepted, but a lot of orthodox physicians criticize this form of medicine. They say it's not scientific and it's a placebo.”
According to Williams, who has practiced homeopathy for 19 years, the health ministry representative in Escazú where his office is based canceled his license because Williams was not a member of the college of doctors and surgeons.

“He wasn't satisfied with my license from the Colegio de Biólogos. He told me that I had to get my license through the Colegio de Médicos,” Williams said. “We think that is unconstitutional, and the court told us that we were right.”

Williams proposed several possible reasons for the ministry's claim, among them the pressure brought by big-money pharmaceutical companies against homeopaths, who refuse to use chemical drugs. Williams studied homeopathy at the University of Natural Medicine in New Mexico before returning to Costa Rica to open his practice.

“Homeopathy has been under persecution forever and ever. When I came back 19 years ago, the critics were very strong,” he said. “That is why we went to the Colegio de Biólogos.”

In its decision, the court reasoned that homeopathic doctors practice in a more biological capacity than of surgical or conventional medical science. Both Williams and Ruiz are graduates of medicine with specialties in natural homeopathy and are recognized by the educational authorities of Costa Rica, according to the decision.


Bertha becomes the first hurricane of the 2008 season
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

U.S. weather forecasters say Tropical Storm Bertha has strengthened into the first hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic season.

Hurricane Bertha is moving across the waters of the central Atlantic Ocean. The center of the storm is about 10 degrees further north than the center of Costa Rica, and the U.S. National Hurricane Center said early Tuesday that the
storm is heading northwest at 12 mph or 19 kph. The center of the storm was at  20.8 degrees north latitude.

As of this Monday morning, Bertha had maximum sustained winds of nearly 120 mph or about 195 kph, said the center. Forecasters say some additional strengthening is expected during the next few days.

At this point the center lists the hurricane as a category three storm with hurricane force winds extending from the center up to 25 miles or 35 kilometers.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 134


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Our readers opinions
Legal prostitution reduces cases of  HIV/AID infections
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I was highly disappointed at Garland Baker's diatribe against Costa Rica. He makes wild, unsubstantiated claims that he cannot back.

This expat, who researched drug abuse and its companions — prostitution, gambling, violence, crime — for several decades, contests Baker's claim that there are "literally hundreds of brothels throughout San José" That is utter nonsense. A few dozen, maybe. Hundreds, not.

And while he might have googled <+prostitutes+"Costa Rica"> and got 151,000 hits, he apparently did not think to compare that to Thailand, Bangkok, Iraq, El Salvador, Haiti — or New York!!!!  <+prostitutes+"New York"> got 2,920,000 hits !! Chicago got 1,340,000. Heck, even BOISE (Idaho) got 122,000.

One of the telling statistics about Costa Rica is its very low rate of HIV/AIDS infection, compared to the places I named above (except maybe Boise). Places with rampant, unregulated prostitution and thousands of brothels have much higher rates. Costa Rica's current policies keep rates of infection down. Baker would change this, apparently, by making prostitution illegal. I guess he doesn't know that Nevada's HIV/AIDS rates among prostitutes, when we did a multi-state study some years ago, was zero. Not even 1 percent — zero. New Jersey was 57 percent. Prostitutes in Nevada brothels must get weekly checks.

Baker views prostitution in the same way that many right wing conservatives view all victimless crimes. For an opposing view, read Peter McWilliams book, "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do." It is on the Internet, and free. It will offer another, well-thought-out view.
John French
San Pablo de Heredia

We do not have any rights
to question pimping

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am an American, a Christian, and travel to Costa Rica, love the place.  What I have a problem with your articles is this: Costa Rica is a country that has had prostitution since their beginning.  Then the Americans, Europeans, Brits and others start going there and want to be the savior of mankind there.  Stop sticking your nose in business that does not concern you.  You probably can't even control you own environment, yet you are nosing around in one of the traditions of Costa Rica.  Prostitution has been going on since the beginning of time and, in the case of Costa Rica, most of the girls I have met use the money to raise their children and help their families.  They make money that is way above their normal earning power, and the Spanish culture is  sexually oriented anyway,

A.M. Costa Rica
users 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 week day.

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.


Searching

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.


Newspages

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.


Classifieds

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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Statistics
A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 


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.


and don't think sex is a big deal.  So what is wrong with that?

Pimping and your thoughts on that.  Where is it any of your business?  You are probably just another person that is trying to influence something in a country that is none of your business.  Why did you move there. You undoubtedly knew about this beforehand.  You remind me of foreigners that move to the good ole U.S.A. and try and change everything to suit them and bring their change to America.  I will tell you the same thing that I tell people that come to America — If you don't like it, LEAVE IT.

There is plenty of wonderful things you could report or write on pertaining to the beautiful country of Costa Rica.  It's people like you that give foreigners in Costa Rica a bad name..........SHUTUP!

Dennis Parker
Lakeland, Florida

Cuban prostitution is illegal,
according to this reader

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In a recent trip to Cuba, I spent two wonderful weeks in a country that is one of the most economically depressed I've ever visited. Average wages range around $80.00/year, yes that is yearly. Although I believe now the minimum is $13 per month.  

I can say with 100% certainly that if there is prostitution/pimping in Cuba, it is well hidden. Asking a taxi driver if there are any "girls" or clubs around, will yield a stare as if you had asked for 2 kilos of pure Bolivian cocaine. Then followed by a lecture that "prostitution" is punishable by death in Cuba.

This was repeated by numerous cabbies and even various hotel concierge people, etc. Doubtful as to what was being told to me, I went online to do some research, and found that there was next to ZERO street walking anymore, and it had moved exclusively online.

Considering it's illegal [then] for a Cuban to own a computer, I was surprised to say the least. The penalties have been resurrected in Cuba, and the girls face up to 20 years in jail if convicted. A stark contrast to the girls and pimps here, that all but have "menus and prices" printed on their T-Shirts.

You can find the prices and services offered by visiting any of the various Gringo-owned online "Dating" services here. [Rolls eyes]
Craig Salmond
San Jose

Economic lull provides
a chance to make rules

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I agree with the surfer who wrote to say that the hideous results of rampant development in Costa Rica are a turn off. It appears that the government here is unable and too often unwilling to curb the environmental abuse.

There may however be a silver lining in the economic cloud that is heading this way from the U. S. Tourists and real estate speculators from the U.S. are experiencing a painful economic pinch that will no doubt  derail or postpone their plans to visit or invest in a foreign country.

While many businesses here will sadly suffer financial troubles as a result, this lull in the development frenzy should be used wisely to create intelligent and sensible zoning and environmental plans and laws that every municipality is legally beholden to enforce. This will necessitate the removal and constant monitoring of corrupt officials.

Costa Rica should look to what is happening on the coast of Spain. Overdevelopment has ruined much of their coast line and the infrastructure is severely overburdened. Corruption and lack of planning have reached the boiling point and Spain has begun to demolish the dream homes and condos of the expats who thought they would live happily ever after there.

There are plans to demolish 500 miles of development on the coast line. This should be  big news in Costa Rica. While it still has the time, Costa Rica can learn an important lesson from the mother country.

 Pamela Ellsworth
Nicoya Peninsula

Chinese are consumers
of lots of shark fins

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I agree with Edward Bridges' comments about the need for a shark finning ban. It's clearly one of the most cruel and barbaric practices on the high seas. Unfortunately, this just isn't going to happen because Costa Rica's new best buddies, the Communist Chinese, are the largest consumers of shark fins in the world. Wouldn't want them to get upset and maybe change their minds about ponying up the $70,000,000 they've promised to build a new SOCCER STADIUM!

(Am I the only one that thinks directing this cash to the construction of a big playpen is 100 percent LUDICROUS at a time when the schools, hospitals and roads are falling apart and the police and judiciary are overwhelmed by crime?)
Dean Barbour
Manuel Antonio



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 134



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