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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 151                          Email us
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Former Villalobos associate gunned down in Heredia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 1:30 p.m.

Bobby Cox, a man closely connected with fugitive fraudster Enrique Villalobos, died late Monday in an apparent assassination.

Cox, who was known as Bobby Gold to hundreds of expats, suffered four bullets to the head, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Neighbors in the vicinity of the killing notified authorities about 11 p.m., and police found Cox in his Chevrolet Avalanche near an electrical substation in San Miguel de Santo Domingo de Heredia. Informal sources attributed the murder to an assassin or assassins on a motorcycle.

Cox, 51 when he died, had been in a business relationship with Luis Enrique Villalobos, who operated a high interest money borrowing operation
 known as The Brothers until late 2002 when he fled. Cox, himself, was said to have tried to pick up where Villalobos and his brother left off and started his own money-borrowing operation that offered 3 percent interest per month. But the business was unsuccessful and some expats complained of losing their money there, too.

When Enrique Villalobos fled, Cox continued to try to rally the investors and held meetings at his home. He told investors that he was in close contact with Villalobos, but that never was established conclusively.

He was believed to be one of the Villalobos supporters who convinced many investors to refrain from filing criminal charges with the expectation that the fugitive would return to pay them off.

Cox also was believed to be involved in other international business dealings

Weather improves, but more rain reported on the way
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather improved Monday, but rain began again Monday night in parts of the southern and northern parts of the Caribbean and in the province of Cartago, said the Instituto Meteorological Nacional.

A 7 p.m. bulletin said that there would be rain of varying intensities on the Caribbean coast, in the Central Valley and mostly in the southern part of the province of Limón.

Meanwhile, judicial police said they participated in the recovery of two bodies of men, 21 and 25, who were swept into the Río Chirripó while they were standing on a bridge Saturday. Both were workers on a local banana plantation. Another man still is missing. That brings the death toll to at least three with several more missing.

The  Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said it was making progress clearing slides on national highways.

The national emergency commission said Monday night that there were still 1,867 persons in 28 public shelters. They mainly were in Paraíso, Jiménez and Turrialba in Cartago province and Siquirres, Matina, Limón Centro and Talamanca in Limón province. That number is down about 400 from the peak Saturday. The bulk of the storms hit early Saturday.

The commission said that there were at least 30 communities with some form of damage. Some homes were leveled by slides, and roads and bridges were damaged. In some cases flooding was more than four meters in residential areas.

Airlifts continued Monday as food and other supplies were brought to communities that remained cut off. Some were native communities in the mountains of Limón province.
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
Road crew is clearing a slide on Ruta 10 in      La Angostura. This highway through Turrialba usually is the alternate when Ruta 32 is closed north of San José.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias still did not have a complete list of damage because workers were waiting for the waters to recede. Geologists were making the rounds to study slopes that may be in danger of generating landslides.

The commission reported that the Ministerio de Educación Pública has canceled classes again for today in the cantons of Turrialba, Jiménez, Talamanca and Matina. In other locations, the regional directors were given authority to cancel classes if they thought doing so was necessary.

The weather institute reported a buildup of clouds and moisture being put ashore by Caribbean winds. More rain was considered highly likely.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center reported last night that there is a weak area of low pressure associated with a tropical wave in the mid-Atlantic heading west at about 10 to 15 mph. That still is several days away.

German feria
A.M. Costa Rica/Thomas Liebig
 Sausage trumps
rain every time

Germany has about 40 identifiable different sausages. Probably the best known outside of that country is bratwurst.

For German nationals in Latin America there is a longing for such foods. Plus there are many other aspects of German culture that are seldom found here. Germans and those who love German culture will travel great distances for the experience.

Such was the case Sunday at the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad or InBio in Santa Domingo de Heredia. The Feria Alemana is an annual event. Despite the rain, there was a large attendance.

InBio knows that sausages will trump rainy weather every time. The Japanese will have their day with a similar celebration Sunday.

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Watson says he is victim
of Tico-Japanese conspiracy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said Monday that it finally received a message from its fugitive founder and president, Paul Watson.

“I am presently in a place on this planet where I feel comfortable, a safe place far away from the scheming nations who have turned a blind eye to the exploitation of our oceans,” said Watson in the message addressed to friends and supporters.

The marine conservationist suggested that there was a conspiracy involving Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla to turn him over to Japan for trial. He based that statement on the fact that Ms. Chinchilla met with the Japanese prime minister in December.

“I had attended the Hamburg Film Festival in November 2011 without being arrested in Germany,” said Watson. “In March I traveled to Spain and France without incident. Yet in May of 2012, I was arrested in Germany on an extradition warrant from Costa Rica. And what I found was that Costa Rica, like Japan, had issued an Interpol notice and Interpol at the end had dismissed the request.

“This was never really about Costa Rica. It has been about Japan all along,” he said.

According to Watson, the Japanese are fabricating a case based on the 2010 collision between the  “Shonan Maru #2” and Sea Shepherd's “Ady Gil.”

“We have cost the Japanese whaling industry tens of millions of dollars and in October 2011, they were allocated a war chest of some thirty million dollars in misappropriated Tsunami Relief Funds to combat Sea Shepherd,” Watson said. “With that money they have increased security at sea, filed civil suits in the U.S. courts against us, and they have researched just where we might be vulnerable.”

Costa Rica sought Watson to answer for an encounter with a Costa Rican shark-fishing boat in Guatemalan waters. His crew sprayed water on the other boat, and his”Ocean Warrior” and the Costa Rican boat bumped. The whole episode was filed and ended up in a feature movie “Sharkwater.”

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
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 151
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Government creates more pitfalls for expats lacking DIMEX
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new rule by the Ministerio de Salud now prohibits foreigners from obtaining health permits for businesses without showing a DIMEX card. The requirement went into effect this May, and one expat has already felt the effect.

She is Cindy Carroccio, who moved to Costa Rica Dec. 10, 2009, and bought an existing restaurant in April 2010. She is using this investment to apply for inversionista residency.

Ms. Carroccio followed the immigration law.  She received her comprobante, or proof of application, in May 2010, and each year in March she showed her passport to renew her permit with the Ministerio de Salud, she said.  A health permit is required annually for restaurants, and one also is required at least once for the location where any other business will be carried out. Usually a health permit is required for a municipal business license.

This past March it was hinted by a ministry worker that there was going to be a change in the requirements and she would need a cédula to conduct business.  She was issued her permit at the time, she said.

 However, this month, when Ms. Carroccio went to get a permit for a new business she wanted to open, she was told she would not be permitted to get a permit without a cédula. DIMEX is the short name for plastic cards issued by the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería to show residency status. The ID card could be for permanent residents, rentistas, inversionistas or pensionados, among others. The acronym means  Documento de Identificación Migratorio para Extranjeros.

“I have renewed my permit through the Ministerio de Salud three times with no problem,” said Ms. Carroccio. “We then went on to buy property and construct a commercial building with apartments on the second floor in our little town of San Luis. We followed the letter of the law with the muni in Tilaran to do this project. We then went to Ministerio de Salud to get permits for business in that commercial building, businesses where we would again employ local Ticos, but now we were told no permit until we had a cédula.  It didn't matter that we had the comprobante, didn't matter that they knew us.  Rules were rules, and these were passed down from the main Ministerio de Salud in San José.”

According to a document sent by the ministry, a passport is enough to identify a person, but it is a document strictly for tourism.  If a foreigner wants to do business, he or she must have a DIMEX issued by the immigration office. The Banco Central said last year that such an immigration ID document would be required for individuals to make money transfers between banks. That caused concern among some expats because it was not clear that the DIMEX card was the same document that immigration issues for residency. The new deadline is Oct. 1.
Dimex card
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
This is an example of the DIMEX card

In the case of Ms. Carroccio, she was allowed to have her permit under the condition that she get a cédula by December, she said.  Her other option would be to give power of attorney over her establishment to a resident, who could then get the health permit.

"With much pleading, they have agreed to issue us a permit, but I must have my cédula by December or they will revoke the permit, or I can give a Tica friend, power of attorney, to get the permit for me," she said.  "Luckily I have a friend that I can trust who I can appoint to a position, but others may not."

Ms. Carroccio said she was told that this is a way to stop money laundering.  She consulted with an attorney who told her the process was against constitutional law.

"It's a Catch 22," she said.

"My main beef is that this isn't just going to affect me but thousands of folks that have purchased businesses or want to start a business while patiently awaiting immigration to give them their cédulas," she added.

Immigration is frequently very slow in approving residencies and issuing the appropriate cédula. The agency's Web site does not address the problem that confronted Ms. Carroccio directly. But one section does say that a DIMEX card is required for banking, health services, educational purposes or scholarships, presumably for minor children.

Immigration has a number of statuses of legal residency, ranging from refugee to being a member of a religious order. Identifications for each comes from the machines in immigration.

The Catch 22 will not only confront those like Ms.  Carroccio, who is awaiting her cédula. But persons who are not residents here will have to find another way to obtain such permits if they choose to enter into business. This could apply to perpetual tourists who leave the country every 90 days or simply to a foreigner who lives elsewhere but decides to start a store or business here.

Workers have two holidays this month, and days are inflexible
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Día de la Virgen de los Ángeles is Thursday, and the day is a holiday in Costa Rica.

But employers do not have to pay their employees if they take the day off.

The Ministerio de Trabajo characterizes the day as one of feriado de pago no obligatorio. But that is true only for those individuals and firms that pay their employees every week. Those who pay by the month or those who pay every 15 days have to compensate their employees even if they do not work this day.

In addition, the holiday cannot be moved to another day of the
week, such as Friday, according to the law, although many firms do this.

This is the day when there is a Roman Catholic Mass at the basilica in Cartago that will be attended by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.

There is yet another legal holiday in August, and that is Wednesday, Aug. 15. This is the Día de la Madre or mother's day. Employes have to be paid for this day even though they have the day off.  If an employee works, he or she is supposed to be paid double.

Most government and business offices will be closed that day, but retail stores will be trying to sell the last few gifts for months.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 151
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Zumba dance fitness craze goes to sea in Manuel Antonio
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Catamaran Tour of Manuel Antonio will offer a zumba fitness cruise beginning Aug. 18.

The boat, “Ocean King,” has two jacuzzis, two trampolines, two cross slides, and a bar.  Those who partake in the tour will be able to indulge in a four-hour cruise that allows them to dance Latin-inspired choreography for an hour then enjoy the features of the catamaran.

The cruise also goes to a private bay where patrons can swim, water slide and snorkel.  Lunch is provided there.

“We leave at 8:30 a.m. and head out to sea, but not real far,” said Instructor Marianna Love. You can still see land, but it’s just far enough to see whales if they are migrating, and, of course, we always see a huge group of dolphins. We relax, have fresh tropical fruits, cookies, crackers, and any type of drink that any one would want. Alcohol is always available, and if they chose they can have that too. It’s without limits on food and drink. Then we cruise near to Manuel Antonio to see the wild life on the small islands as we get close to the beautiful coastline of Manuel Antonio. The music is turned up we head to the top and we dance as we pass the beach.”

“I believe will be a great success. People already are calling about it,” she added.

Ms. Love will be the main instructor on the boat. She is a native of Sicily but has lived in the United States, Spain, Europe, Costa Rica and Honduras.  Since childhood, she has enjoyed dance.

“I realized that dance was in my bones since I was a tiny girl.  I loved to dance and sing and entertain. I was always in talent contests, singing in groups and dancing at clubs my whole life.  Zumba was so natural to just let go and dance and forget everything while working your body right in to shape. A party every day,” she said.

For Ms. Love, zumba, originally a Colombian fitness program, has not just been a dance style, but a way to regain
zumba catamaran
This is the 'Ocean King.' Note slides on the stern.

self-confidence and revamp her body image.

 “A friend of my friend introduced me while visiting my son and grandson,” said Ms. Love. I was very overweight. I did not like it at first because I was frustrated with the moves, but after five or so times, I became addicted and in love with the concept of dancing to wonderful Latino and American music of today and yesterday. I could not get enough of it, until finally I noticed I was losing weight and feeling very different mentally and physically.”

Exuding positivity, she issues the challenge for all, no matter the age or dance talent, to join the movement.

“Zumba is for everyone, not just young, not just dancers, not just women, and not just men. Dance is for everyone, of every age. I am 58 years old, but I don't look it nor feel it now. I have lost more than 100 pounds dancing. I am thinner and in better health than I have ever been in my life. Zumba is a blast. You have to just let go, move, shake it and not worry about your mistakes.  Soon you will be dancing with the stars,” she said.

If the tour is a success, Ocean King will have two zumba cruises a month.  On Nov. 17, there will be the first sunset zumba cruise with glow art and glow sticks.

There are also other catamaran tours.  More information is HERE!

Electrical workers bring their protest to Casa Presidencial
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thousands of public workers marched to Casa Presidencial Monday to protest a law moving through the legislature that would privatize another part of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricity, the government-owned electricity provider.

Led by the institute's workers union, more than 6,000 employees of the institute, smaller government owned providers around the country and their allies participated in the demonstration from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., according to César López, one of the organizers.

“We're defending the Costa Rican electrical model which is unique in the region,” said López through translator Erika Guevara. “The electrical model has achieved 99.3 percent coverage of Costa  Rica.”

The march went from the institute's facility in Sabana Norte to President Laura Chinchilla's office in Zapote.

López and Guevara explained that there are three phases to producing electricity, which are generation, transmission and distribution. Over the years, the government has been privatizing portions of this process and other technology services that were once the institute's responsibility.

This demonstration was to protest a law that, if passed, will privatize the transmission of electricity, the last part of the process of which the institute has complete control.

By mid-afternoon, the protest had dwindled to approximately 500 people, who promptly dispersed at 3:40 p.m.

Today farmers and agricultural industry workers will march to the legislative assembly building to protest a law that will increase property taxes and to bring attention to how the higher taxes would adversely affect food production.
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Demonstrator carries a sign calling President Laura Chinchilla a puppet and carries a real puppet to drive home the point.

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Democrats ready to include gay marriage in platform

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Democratic Party is ready to formally include same-sex marriage in its official campaign platform for the first time in its history.

An unnamed Democratic official says the party's platform drafting committee approved language endorsing homosexual marriages during a meeting Sunday in Minneapolis. The issue will be voted on in September during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where President Barack Obama will be formally nominated as the party's candidate for re-election.

The party's position comes two months after Obama became the first U.S. president to openly support same-sex marriage.

Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage, says his group intends to make the Democratic Party's position a defining issue in the November presidential election.

Hindus lead U.S. religions
in finances, study reports

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hindu-Americans have the highest socioeconomic levels among all religions in the United States, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Experts say U.S. immigration policy is the main reason Hindus do so well.

Both the 1965 Immigration Act and the more recent H1-B visa program set the table for Hindus to succeed. The former encouraged the immigration of professionals, particularly doctors and engineers, while the latter was designed to encourage the immigration of highly skilled guest workers.

The number of H1-B visas issued to Indians grew steadily in the late 1990s and early 2000s and then spiked again in 2007. In 2011, according to the study, India accounted for more than half of all the H1-B visas granted.

“The education capital of this group is phenomenal,” said Khyati Joshi, an associate professor at the Fairleigh Dickinson School of Education in Teaneck, New Jersey.

The Pew study, titled “Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faiths,” bears that out, and the numbers are staggering.

Eighty-five percent of Hindu-Americans are college graduates, and 57 percent have some postgraduate education, which is nearly five times the national average.

Education levels largely correlate to income, and there as well, Hindus rank at the top of the list.

According to the study, 48 percent of Hindu-American households have an income of $100,000 or more, and 70 percent make at least $75,000.

Another, secondary driver for the success of Hindus can be traced back to India’s caste system, according to Prema Kurien, a professor of sociology and the director of  the Asian/Asian American Studies Program at Syracuse University in New York.

“Hindu migrants to the U.S. are largely from upper caste backgrounds,” she said. “Upper castes have had a long history of socioeconomic and educational advantage in India.”

According to Alan Cooperman, the associate director for research for the study, the success of Hindus stems from the type of person that chooses to leave India and whom the U.S. admits. This, he said, is quite different from other immigrant groups, where there are often high numbers of refugees or undocumented immigrants.

“This is the first time anybody has had good data . . . ,” said Cooperman. “Hindus are a fascinating group.”

Press group seeks security
for Mexican newspaper

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter American Press Association Monday condemned  the arson attack on the premises of the newspaper El Norte in Nuevo León, Mexico, where the newspaper produces one of their supplementary publications. This is the third attack in less than a month made on offices of the news media outlet. The organization renewed its call on the Mexican authorities to implement protective measures, and investigate and punish those responsible.

The Sierra Madre supplement of El Norte, which belongs to the Reforma Group, in the town of San Pedro Garza García, in Nuevo León state, was set ablaze Sunday by an armed gang that broke into the building. This was the third El Norte publication to be attacked this month. No group has claimed responsibility for the assaults.

The chairman of the press group's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, urged Mexican authorities “to halt the pattern of terror and attacks.” Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, added that “what is needed is to ensure the physical safety of those who exercise freedom of the press, as well as to conduct investigations and bring to justice those responsible for carrying out these attacks.”

According to local media, shortly after 6 p.m. Sunday at least three hooded men bearing rifles overpowered the security guard and broke into the publication offices, where they sprayed gasoline over the reception area and set it on fire. Some 15 journalists and other employees present at the time escaped uninjured. The attack, caught on security cameras, caused considerable damage.

In the same state on July 10, there was an attack with hand grenades and gunfire from AK-47 rifles on the offices of the La Silla and Linda Vista supplements, also belonging to the El Norte newspaper, in the city of Monterrey. The attack caused damage to the building.

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Rice growers seek ban
on some foreign imports

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rice producers said that they are seeking restrictions on importation of the grain from the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio.

The farm group said that such restrictions are allowed under international treaties to safeguard the industry. The group also said that quotas under the Free Trade Treaty with the United States are not involved.

The group is seeking to prevent foreign imports for 200 days.

The Asamblea Nacional de Productores said that acreage devoted to rice has declined nearly 32 percent to about 57,000 hectares.

Rice is a controlled commodity in Costa Rica, and the ministry sets the wholesale price. Rice growers may not receive a warm welcome with their request because they successfully sued in court to raise the price from the amount the ministry had set. The government is obligated to pay significant compensation.

Health workers and others
protest on highway in Grecia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health workers and supporters blocked part of the Interamericana highway in Grecia Monday as they demonstrated over what they say is a grave situation with the Hospital de Grecia.

Some 2,000 person were involved, said the Unión Nacional de Empleados de la Caja y la Seguridad Social.

They promised to repeat their efforts if their demands are not resolved in 24 to 48 hours.

They expressed concern about the infrastructure and the reduction in some programs at the hospital.

Casting out evil spirits
lands pair in prison

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men who made the rounds in Aguas Zarcas, San Carlos, Alajuela, offering to cast out evil spirits have been remanded to prison for preventative detention. The problem is the way they sought to cast out spirits. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the pair, 63 and 80, applied oils to the intimate parts of females as part of their religious practices.

The judicial police said that there were four victims involved.

The hearing Monday was in the Juzgado Penal de San Carlos.

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