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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, July 28, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 148           Email us
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Foggy day
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Talk about
being in a fog

An unusual afternoon fog enveloped San Jose's downtown Wednesday. Mostly hidden from view here is the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, the government insurance agency.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that a low pressure area in the Pacific was generating humidity inland. The weather experts said they expected clouds over most of the country today, too, as well as thunderstorms in the Central Valley, the Pacific coast, the northern zone and the mountains of the Caribbean coast.

Sala IV will hear appeal of ruling on tips as income
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The employers' chamber said Wednesday that the Sala IV constitutional court has agreed to study its appeal of the high labor court's ruling that restaurant tips are salary.

The decision by the Sala II had a big impact on the restaurant business, and some popular food outlets said they closed to make changes to avoid the economic fallout from the decision.

Tips as salary require operators of food outlets to pay social security charges on the tip income of waiters and waitresses. Costa Rican law requires restaurant operators to add an additional 10 percent to what they charge for food as a tip. The diner has no choice but can supplement the tip with additional money. Most do not.
Considering tips as income also means that the employer will have to include that income when computing the annual Christmas bonus, which also is required by law.

The Unión de Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado noted it appealed the Sala II decision June 22 and said that it conflicted with certain international treaties, including one with the International Labor Organization. The appeal also said that the decision also conflicted with the Costa Rican constitution because only the legislature is empowered to make and interpret law.

The chamber said that it just learned that the Sala IV will review the appeal. The court does not do this with every appeal, so the chamber sees this as a favorable development.

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Republicans Abroad chairman
David Ellis dies in Vermont

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

David B. Ellis, chairman of Republicans Abroad Costa Rica, died Tuesday in Ludlow, Vermont, after suffering a heart
attack while on vacation.

David was born on May 24, 1932, to James Waldo Ellis and Mabel Bryant Ellis.

He graduated with honors from the advance gunnery course at The Military College of Science. He also graduated with a bachelor of science in engineering physics and Sigma Pi Sigma from The University of Kansas and a master of science from the University of Vermont.

David was a designer for General
David Ellis
David B. Ellis
Electric, taught math at Burlington Community College and served as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. During his career with GE and other companies he travelled around the world. At one point he taught Spanish at CCV, and was a volunteer worker for disaster relief in Puerto Rico.

David loved Costa Rica, lived in Alajuela and was also active in Post 16 of the American Legion.

He was always a devoted and loyal family man. Met and married the love of his life, Vera Calderon Corrales over 14 years ago. He is also survived by daughters, Gabriela Calderon and Veronica Ellis, both of Costa Rica, and Jeannette Morse of Hooksett, New Hampshire, a grandson Justin Plouff, two great grandchildren Gavin and Brayden and two sisters, Barbara Pallotta of Vermont, and Jamie Townsend of Florida

David was a lifelong Republican and enjoyed political discussions.

He loved to race his sailboat and received many awards over his long sailing career on Lake Champlain, Vermont. During current summer vacations in Vermont he enjoyed driving his ancient Triumph Spitfire.

He enjoyed life until the moment he died. Service in Costa Rica to be announced.

Baroque concert Saturday
planned at Teatro Nacional

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those with a taste for baroque and Renaissance music can hear a selection from the 16th through the 18th century Saturday at the Teatro Nacional.

The group  Syntagma Musicum is presening a concert titled “Ramillete Vocal” at 5 p.m. Included in the program are works by Caludio Monteverdi but also some lesser known Spanish and Latin American composers.

Five voices will be accompanied by instruments from that era.

Performing are sopranos Ivette Ortíz and Zamira Barquero, mezzo-soprano Marcela Alfaro, tenor Olman Alfaro and baritone Johnny Alfaro Pérez.

Accompanying the singers are  Isabel Jeremías on the bassoon, percussionist  Gerardo Duarte and  María Clara Vargas on the harpsichord.

Admission is 3,000 colons or about $6.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 148

Prisma dental

tied up buses
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Reconstruction of Avenida 3 near San Jose's Mercado Central has had a ripple effect though the city's transportation network. The peak hour transportation headache has become an nightmare, and vehicles are
backed up into east San José. This scene is at Avenida 3 by Parque Morazán, nearly a kilometer from the closed section. Not much was moving, and a string of buses competed with passenger cars for space.

Alliance Française offers tour of art deco in Barrio México
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mention Barrio México to an expat, and they are likely to draw a blank. Someone who has lived here awhile might shudder, thinking that barrio is what the police call conflictivo.

Barrio México was settled in part by refugees from the 1910 Cartago earthquake. It is in north San José just south of the Museo de los Niños. The dominant feature is the dome of the Iglesia de la Santisima Trinidad.

For Alliance Française the barrio also is one featuring art deco structures. That is why Alliance is planning a visit to the area with the help of architect Andréss Fernåndez. The tour is Saturday at 9 a.m. The 15,000 colons admission includes the tour, discussions and  brunch. That is about $30.

"Art deco runs through the veins of Barrio México," said Alliance in a release. Of course, Art Deco was in vogue at the same time that the earthquake survivors were building new lives in the barrio, the early part of the 20th century.

The tour includes the wandering street aptly named Paseo de la Vaca and viewing the Botica Solera and the Escuela República de Argentina
Barrio México
Barrio México: Click HERE for larger image

Tickets are available at the three Alliance locations: Barrio Amón, La Sabana and Heredia. The starting point of the tour is the restaurant Aquí es TISTA on Avenida 11 at Calle 20.

Don't use cash, judicial police warn after another stickup
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here's a little tip to keep money safe, courtesy of the Judicial Investigating Organization:

Don't use cash.

That was the advice Wednesday after two men on a motorcycle stuck up another customer just leaving a bank. The robbery happened in La Uruca, and agents said the crooks got 3 million colons or about $6,000. The victim carried the cash in a briefcase.

"Once again we repeat the warning that you should not make withdrawals in cash from the banks but better yet use other means of payment, be it check electronic, etc.," said the judicial police.

The warning had echoes of the way a previous security 
minister cut down on automatic teller robberies. Banks wereasked to shut off the machines after 10 p.m.

Investigators are facing a wave of robberies of bank customers. Another robbery took place Thursday afternoon outside  a state bank in Tibás. This time the crooks, three men and a woman, pulled up in a car and took 1.3 million colons or about $2,600.

Police managed to locate what they thought was the car later but only a driver was present and there was no sign of the money.

There have been other robberies, and it is clear that the crooks have some help. There are either bank employees providing key information to the bandits, or a crook posing as a customer is passing on the details of large withdrawals. This is one reason most banks forbid the use of cell telephones.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 148

Cruz Roja workers getting ready for pilgrimage to Cartago
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those who live in San José have it easy. The pilgrimage to Cartago is a mere 20 kilometers, about 12.5 miles. And the road is great.

But pilgrims are coming from such distance points as Sixaola on the Panamá border, Ciudad Neily in southwest Costa Rica, and even Nicaragua.

The  Cruz Roja said Wednesday that it is setting up aid stations in spots as distant as Puerto  Viejo de Talamanca to provide comfort to pilgrims. The bulk of the effort begins Saturday. Some 400 Cruz Roja workers are involved, as well as 60 of the agency's ambulances. More than a million persons will make the trek.

In all, the Cruz Roja plans to staff 25 aid stations on the principal highways for 72 hours into Tuesday. The number of pilgrims is expected to increase into Monday in the metro area.

Meanwhile, Cruz Roja workers in Cartago are providing assistance in the vicinity of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles this week for the benefit of those who choose to complete the pilgrimage other than on the traditional days.

The Cruz Roja also has given advice to those who would hike to Cartago. High on the list is to wear a hat, bring two pairs of shoes and extra socks. Of course, this is the rainy season, so pilgrims should be prepared to downpours as well as scorching sun, so the Cruz Roja advises everyone to carry sun screen.

Police have other suggestions, including not to consider everyone on the pilgrimage as a potential friend. Crooks join
the columns of pilgrims to steal or worse. Police urge pilgrims to travel in trusted groups.

Some schools take that one step further. Entire classes will be seen walking behind a truck with rope defining the perimeter of the group.

In addition to the religious aspect that culminates Tuesday with a Mass at the basilica, the pilgrimage is big business for Cartago. Food vendors and others will profit over the next few days.

Pilgrimages have been a boon to various cities since Medieval times.  They have influenced literature, too. The famous "Canterbury Tales," by Geoffrey Chaucer is a series of narrations supposedly told to amuse themselves by pilgrims on the way to Canterbury Cathedral in the 14th century.

In an unexpected development, a Hindu leader has sent greetings to Catholics and others making the pilgrimage here.  He is Rajan Zed.

In a release from the U.S. state of Nevada, Rajan Zed expressed warmest greetings on the upcoming Virgen de los Angeles Day, wishing that it brought joy, happiness, blessings and cheer to all. He said he is president of Universal Society of Hinduism and stressed that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment, he added.

Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal, he explained.

Judical police now have 38 video cameras to aid investigations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's drug institute has donated $20,000 worth of video cameras to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The announcement came from  Mauricio Boraschi, formerly head of the  Instituto Costarricense sobre Drogas and now a vice minister on the presidential staff.

In all there are 38 Sony video cameras for use in investigative work. The drug institute is the beneficiary of confiscated cash and goods seized as a result of drug investigations.

Boraschi said the institute has contributed 74 million colons to the judicial police so far this year.

That would be about $148,000.

Although the drug institute gets an interest in money, cars and other personal property, there is a time lag before the goods can be converted into cash. The institute has to wait until the individual is convicted and all the appeals have been exhausted.
Casa Presidencial photo
One of 38 cameras donated to judicial police

The cameras presumably will be used to generate more impactful evidence for court trials and to generate surveillance videos.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 148

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Ex-official in Colombia
jailed in corruption case

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Colombian Agriculture Minister Andrés Felipe Arias has been jailed in a corruption case involving farm subsidies.

A judge Tuesday ordered the arrest of Arias, 38, who is accused of allowing the subsidies intended for small farmers to be diverted to wealthy businesses.  Arias, who served under ex-president Alvaro Uribe, has been sent to Bogota's La Picota jail while the case goes forward.

Colombia's inspector general's office has banned Arias from holding public office for 16 years because of his role in the case.

Arias has denied the charges and faces up to six years in prison if convicted.

British start countdown
to 2012 summer Olympics

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Britain launched the one-year countdown to the start of the 2012 summer Olympics in London Wednesday with a day of festivities in the British capital and other cities around the globe.

A huge countdown clock was unveiled in central London.  International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge issued a formal invitation to all 202 nations with teams to send their athletes to Britain.

World champion swimmer Tom Daley inaugurated the aquatics center with the first dive into the swimming pool.

In New York, nine-time Olympic gold medalist Olympic track and field star Carl Lewis unveiled a countdown clock at the United Nations.  Countdown clocks were also dedicated in New Delhi and Beijing.

Britons and Canadians in Washington ran a ceremonial Olympic torch relay six kilometers from the Canadian Embassy to the British Embassy.

In Pakistan, the British High Commission's tennis team competed in a mixed doubles match with top Pakistani players. The British Embassy in Romania threw a street party in Bucharest.

British diplomats In Uzbekistan staged a mini-Olympics for teenagers, and in Brazil they held a tea party at the official residence in Brazilia.

U.S. borrowing limits
worry Latin Americans

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said it is concerned about the situation in the United States and discussions there about the government's borrowing limits, and hopes the issue will soon be resolved in the most appropriate manner, given the importance of the United States economy for the world in general and for Latin America and the Caribbean in particular.

The United States is the region's main economic partner, and is even more important for México, Central America and the Caribbean. A very high percentage of investment and financial flows come from the United States, it said. In addition, most of the remittances that alleviate the situation of many of the region's poor households come from Latin American and Caribbean people working in the United States economy, it added.

According to the commission, Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole has become the second main holder of assets in dollars after China. The region has over $700 billion in international reserves.

The delay in approving a new ceiling for public debt in the United States is threatening the international financial system, and this could have a dramatic impact on the value of assets, exchange rates, levels of global activity and, as a result, on demand for goods and services produced and exported by this region, the commission said.

Although Latin America and the Caribbean has shown itself to be better prepared than in the past to tackle a worsening international situation, any failure to resolve the United States public debt problem would seriously endanger the region's resilience and growth, it added.

Teen murderer gets 3 years

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A judge in the Mexican state of Morelos has sentenced a 14-year-old U.S. citizen to three years in prison for murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking.  Authorities say Edgar Jiménez, known as "El Ponchis," worked for the South Pacific drug cartel and that he killed four people, whose mutilated bodies were found hanging from a bridge not far from Mexico City.  Jiménez is originally from San Diego, California.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 148

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Our reader's opinion
Blockade witness reports
gunshots spooked driver

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Excellent article on the riot /strike near Puerto Viejo yesterday. I was there, stuck on a bus. Your writer nailed it perfectly.

A rapid round of gunfire inspired our bus driver to take off, leaving passengers on board.  Most took off too, following  him.

One terrified American family with two children were in near panic

From what we could tell from a distance, the police did an excellent job.

Yours is the only publication I have seen that accurately described the Limón criminal element that joined in.  Good for you.

Riding inter-city buses in Costa Rica is not for the faint of heart. Travelers beware. They break down often, drivers and ticket takers change places while speeding along, then laugh at how smoothly it went. I've seen that four times.

One long bus ride (San Jose-Nicaragua) looped the same Claude Van Damme movie five times at full volume.

Roads and bridges are sometimes washed out, so take along food and something to drink while you wait. Maybe a book to read.

Two strikes delayed the trip from Bocas del Toro yesterday. One in Panama — quiet and gentle — get off, walk past the non-abusive demonstrators to another bus waiting on the other side of the barricade to take you on — and the violent, bullet-spraying one on the Caribe coast yesterday.

Bottom line -- take the inter city buses at your own risk. Secondly, good reporting.

Carl Robbins
David, Panamá
Atlanta, Georgia

Retiree knifed fatally

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 67-year-old retiree died outside his apartment in  Sabanilla de Montes de Oca about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, the Judicial Investigating Organization said.

Death was due to a knife wound in the chest. The man was identified by the last name of Blanco. It appears that he left his apartment to seek help from a guard after he was wounded.

Agents are trying to find out who else may have been at the scene.
style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Monterey Herald

GUATEMALA CITY—Nobel peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu in Guatemala is officially registered as a candidate in the Central American nation's … the Quiche ethnic group. She ran unsuccessfully in Guatemala's 2007 presidential election.

  • Guatemala Nabs Key Member of Mexican Drug Cartel 29 Jul 2011 01:57 Latin American Herald Tribune

    … blamed for the May 15 massacre in northern Guatemala of 27 farmworkers, most of whom … since 2008. Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, known as “El Lazca,â€� deserted from the Mexican army in … account and now control smuggling routes in Mexico and Central America. EFE

  • Sourcefabric launches theme contest at first Central American conference 28 Jul 2011 10:31 OpenPR

    … ) - Sourcefabric took the occasion of their first ever Central American conference last week to launch a new … Arellanes. “Newscoop powers El Faro, the first online-only news site in Central America, and ElPeriódico de Guatemala which receives over a quarter …

  • Mexico, Guatemala collaborate to strengthen border security 28 Jul 2011 06:14 People's Daily Online

    … border to jointly fight organized crime. The Guatemala-Mexico border runs between northwestern … President Alvaro Colom agreed that the Guatemala-Mexico border should offer safe … be less unequal if Mexico, Guatemala and Central America are united. Colom …

  • ROK Powers Mobile TV Service for Claro in Honduras 28 Jul 2011 10:45 Yahoo News

    America Movil Operators Across Central America {"s" : "rkg.f… Peru, Colombia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador, ROK-powered Mobile TV … broadcast, WAP and web promotions across Honduras. “ROK TV technology is unique …

  • Clowns gather in Guatemala City 28 Jul 2011 04:09 SF Gate

    … of 16. More than 200 clowns from North and Central America and the Caribbean are gathering in the capital city … third year to attend workshops and exchange experiences. The Latin American Clown Congress has arrived in Guatemala City's historic center, …

  • Visa Exemption with Belize 28 Jul 2011 16:30 Arutz Sheva

    … on 3-month non-employment tourist travel between Israel and the Central American country of Belize. It is hoped that the … backpackers travelling in the Western Hemisphere. The former British Honduras is home to about 320,000 people …

  • American’s deals to the beautiful, bounteous Belize 28 Jul 2011 15:56 Cheap Flights News

    … But it should. The country is certainly on American Airlines’ radar screen. The carrier is running … seat sale to this northernmost of Central American countries just now. Book and … $287 each way. Baltimore flights to Belize City (usually $919 roundtrip) are $ …

  • Artists brings it home in her Guatemala photography exhibit 28 Jul 2011 06:45 Portsmouth Herald

    … of the villages of Concepcion and Zunilito, Guatemala, by Berri Kramer, will be on … of photographs from her visits to Central America. The public is invited to Kramer … Partners in Development, she traveled to Guatemala and visited Concepcion and Zunilito. …

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