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(506) 2223-1327          Published Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 150           Email us
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Final honors
for ex-president

Fuerza Pública pallbearers carry the casket of  former president Mario Echandi Jiménez after his state funeral Sunday afternoon. He is saluted by the agency's ceremonial squad. Echandi, who died Saturday, was 96 and served from 1958 to 1962.

Our story is HERE!

Echandi funeral
A.M. Costa Rica photo

One mishap mars Cartago pilgrimage of thousands
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The de facto four-day weekend created a flood of pilgrims to Cartago. The flow was so heavy that police agencies put in effect Sunday the plans they had for Monday.

The Autopista Florencio del Castillo between San José and Cartago was closed partly to eastbound traffic, and pilgrims had full use of the restricted lane.

That decision followed a traffic accident Sunday morning in Curridabat when a auto plowed into a group of 12 pilgrims. One woman was hurt critically. Traffic police said the 19-year-old driver was not intoxicated and that he pulled onto the main road from a side street. Others in the group were hospitalized, too.

Pilgrims braved less than favorable weather. An afternoon rain fell in San José and registered about 11.4 millimeters (some .45 of an inch). The rain was highly variable, and hardly any was reported in Cartago or in Tres Ríos, which is on the route from the west. Those headed east to Cartago did not fare as well. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional reported 27 millimeters (1.1 inches) from Sunday morning through early evening in Turrialba.

A section of Cartago was hit with strong winds Sunday afternoon, and 18 homes lost their metal roofs. Other homes were damaged.

The weather institute predicted similar conditions for today: A cloudy, warm morning leading to afternoon showers and perhaps thunderstorms.
Tropical Storm Eugene is in the Pacific moving west northwest over open water, said the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm is likely to have little effect in Costa Rica. It is off the coast of El Salvador and Guatemala.

In the Atlantic there is a tropical wave and an elongated area of low pressure that is just entering the Caribbean. The hurricane center said that it has a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone by Monday.

The system will not affect pilgrims because it is moving west at just 15 miles per hour. But it may threaten Costa Rica by week's end.

Some on the pilgrimage Sunday had little regard for the rain, but others carried umbrellas and 4,000-colon, Chinese-made plastic parkas. Vendors have been selling these along the route.

The big flood of pilgrims is today, and police are standing by. Most will spend the night in front of the basilica and await a Mass Tuesday morning. Although Monday is not a legal holiday, absenteeism will be high. Tuesday is the holiday, and buses are being mobilized to return pilgrims from Cartago to all points in the country.

The Cruz Roja said that it treated 183 pilgrims by midday Sunday. The busiest aid station is in the plaza of the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles., the goal of the pilgrimage. Some 400 Cruz Roja workers are at stations all over the country. Most of those seeking help complain of cramps and sore muscles, although victims of four falls have been reported.

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Rancher wins shootout
with home-invading duo

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A home invasion in Los Andes de La Garita de La Cruz in Guanacaste had what many might consider a happy ending. The rancher in the home killed two assailants, and at least two others fled.

Home invasions have become a nightly event in the Central Valley and in some places in Guanacaste. In fact Thursday armed men invaded a home in Tirrases de Curridabat, tied up a woman and her son with sheets and sacked the home. There also have been weekend home invasions in Santa Ana, although details are sketchy. Crooks break in through the metal portones and surprise homeowners. Sometimes this happens in the early evening. Judicial agents believe that there are several gangs that specialize in this type of robbery.

It was 3 a.m. Friday morning when the rancher heard someone on his rural property. Two men had entered the home. Although the rancher suffered two bullet wounds in the leg, he managed to kill the two men, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. One died inside the home alongside his AK-47 rifle, and the second died outside.

Gunplay at Heredia hospital
leaves suspect wounded

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers shot it out with a suspected armed robber Sunday afternoon near the Hospital de Heredia.

The action started when four men stuck up a supermarket, Super Mayka, in Barreal de Heredia, took the cash registers and stripped a guard of his weapon.

Officers in a patrol car located the robbery vehicle at a car wash in  Santa Cecilia. not far from the hospital. Witnesses said two men fled in a taxi and two had entered a nearby coffee plantation.

The two suspects on foot led police on a chase. One with a revolver in one hand and a pistol in the other engaged police and fired at them four times, said the security ministry. In the return fire he was wounded in the leg, officers said.

Some of the shooting took place on the grounds of the hospital, police said.

The two men who were detained are illegal Nicaraguan immigrants, said police.

U.S. man held in cash case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. citizen identified by the last name of Brown has been detained at the northern border because he had not declared $13,680 he was carrying, said the  Policía de Control de Drogas. The 30-year-old man was driving a vehicle registered in Honduras. International travelers are required to declare amounts greater than $10,000, police noted.

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, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 150

Prisma dental

The confiscated fastboat 'Anita' is tied up alongside a Costa Rican patrol boat after a chase on the high seas and a gun battle just off the Limón beaches.
drug boat captured
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Guillermo Solano

Drama at sea results in seizure of marijuana from Jamaica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has become a destination for at least Jamaican marijuana. That became clear over the weekend when two local boats were intercepted off the Caribbean coast in actions punctuated by gunfire. The boats carried marijuana imported from Jamaica, police said.

The crew of a U.S. Coast Guard aircraft using special radar spotted a suspicious boat on the high seas 60 miles off the Limón coast. Two boats of the  Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas began to intercept the craft. About eight miles off the coast they encountered three fastboats.

As Costa Rican coast guard vessels approached, those on the suspicious craft opened fire, said the security ministry, and then they began to flee.

The crews of two boats, later determined to be Costa Rican, fled toward shore, and those on board could be seen dumping packages into the ocean. The third boat vanished but later was reported detained in Panamå.

About 5 a.m. some three miles from Limón a Costa Rican patrol craft was able to intercept one of the boats. The boat carried the name “Leant Mark” and had a single 150-horsepower outboard. Held were a 30-year-old Nicaraguan, identified by the last names of Zamora Valerio, a 28-year-old Costa Rican, identified by the last names of  Núñez Chavarría and a Jamaican with the last name of Newbold, security officials reported.

About 6 a.m. the second Costa Rican patrol boat engaged the second boat near the Hospital de Limón. As a result of the firefight, one of the occupants of the fleeing boat suffered a bullet wound, officials said. This craft later was identified as the "Anita," a 35-foot boat with a single 150-horsepower motor. Three persons were detained when the craft reached the beach at Cieneguita
zamora and pot
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Guillermo Solano
Mario Zamora, the security minister, inspects some of the confiscated marijuana.

Detained were three persons with the last names and ages of  Hamm Segura, 22, Samuels Swarton, 25, and Dosman Chaves,  36.

The crews of Costa Rican patrol boats were able to recover some 60 sacks containing 1,122 kilograms of marijuana. Officials said this was apparently of Jamaican origin and destine for the local market here.The marijuana was of a potent type officials call high red.

Costa Rica is usually considered a transit country for cocaine, heroin and marijuana headed north. Some of these substances enter the national market because drugs are used for payment for fuel and other services. Police officials are confident that the marijuana seized Saturday was destined for end users in Costa Rica.

Former president Mario Echandi receives a state funeral
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Mario Echandi Jiménez, the man who is credited with mending the political wounds of Costa Rica's civil war, was buried with high honors Sunday.

Echandi, who was 96, died Saturday, and his funeral was at the Catedral Metropolitana with politicians of every stripe in attendance. Echandi won office in 1958 against the Partido Liberación Nacional candidate, He succeeded José Figueres Ferrer, the victor in the 1948 civil war. Most of the losers had gone into exile, but Echandi allowed them to return.

He also will be remembered, perhaps with mixed feelings, as the president who put through a law to require employers to pay workers a Christmas bonus or aguinaldo representing a twelfth of what they had earned the previous 12 months. The law still is in effect.

Echandi had been in declining health for four years, and his death was attributed to a heart attack brought on by pneumonia.

Hugo Barrantes, the archbishop, presided at the funeral, and  President Laura Chinchilla praised Echandi.
Most current and former holders of high political office were at the funeral. His coffin entered draped in the Costa Rican flag.

Three days of national mourning have been declared. The period will last through Tuesday.

Echandi had served as the nation's ambassador to the United Nations, to the United States and to the Organization of American States. He also was the president who broke relations with Communist Cuba and created the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the national water company.

He ran twice more for the presidency but was defeated. As an elder statesman, he was in close contact with decades of political activity, and most high officer holders considered him a friend and adviser.

Echandi was the son of Alberto Echandi Montero, who was a presidential candidate in 1923 and also served in high government offices.

In her eulogy, Ms. Chinchilla noted that Echandi was instrumental in designating the Guanacaste tree as a national symbol.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 150

Preventing crime also
can mean a soccer game

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Barrio Claret,  Florida Norte  and Barrio México have benefited from the efforts of police officers who used their free time to fix up some sports facilities there. That includes a basketball court and a fútbol cinco installation adjacent to a children's play area in Barrio Claret.

Police participated in five-player soccer games with the neighbors and used donated paint to spruce up the bleachers of the soccer area and also the children's play area.

The goal, of course, is crime prevention as citizens are encouraged to use facilities that might otherwise host criminals. Sports also is a way to keep youngsters occupied, as well as cultural events, officers noted. The idea is credited to  Alexánder Meneses, who directs the police in the Distrito de Mereced of which the barrios are a part.

The barrios are in north San José and are generally working-class neighborhoods.

In a symbolic act, children in the area dipped their hands into paint and then left their handprints on a column police had erected  to show that they and not crooks have possession of the installations, said officers.

Police also staged a weekend fiesta with traditional dancing and local music as well as the five-player soccer game between police officers and youngsters of the  Liceo de San José.
Kid leaves here mark
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Jorge Alonso Alvarez v
Children leave handprints to show possession of play area

San Ramón will be getting more police officers, director says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The head of the Fuerza Pública said that the number of officers will be beefed up in the San Ramón area in response to a wave of crimes there.

The director general of the police agency,  Juan José Andrade Morales, visited  El Bajo los Rodríguez and met with residents where he made the announcement.

He said the local police delegation is being beefed up by 12 officers and some of them are motorcycle officers.
A.M. Costa Rica has reported on a series of crimes in San Ramón. A spokesman for the Community Action Alliance reported that the bulk of the crimes are drug-related and a result of San José gangs trying to extend their territories outside the metro area.

There also has been the killing of a small store owner that has been attributed to revenge.

Still, La Nación reported Sunday on a string of daylight armed robberies that had not been reported earlier. Merchants clamored for more police.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 150

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Swelling global populations
seen causing upheavals

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Global population is expected to hit 7 billion later this year, up from 6 billion in 1999. Between now and 2050, an estimated 2.3 billion more people will be added — nearly as many as inhabited the planet as recently as 1950. New estimates from the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations also project that the population will reach 10.1 billion in 2100.

These sizable increases represent an unprecedented global demographic upheaval, according to David Bloom, a professor of economics and demography at the Harvard School of Public Health, in a review article published July 29, 2011 in Science.

Over the next 40 years, nearly all (97 percent) of the 2.3 billion projected increase will be in the less developed regions, with nearly half (49 percent) in Africa. By contrast, the populations of more developed countries will remain flat, but will age, with fewer working-age adults to support retirees living on social pensions.

“Although the issues immediately confronting developing countries are different from those facing the rich countries, in a globalized world demographic challenges anywhere are demographic challenges everywhere,” said Bloom.

The world’s population has grown slowly for most of human history. It took until 1800 for the population to hit 1 billion. However, in the past half-century, population jumped from 3 to 7 billion. In 2011, approximately 135 million people will be born and 57 million will die, a net increase of 78 million people.

Considerable uncertainty about these projections remains, Bloom writes. Depending on whether the number of births per woman continues to decline, the ranges for 2050 vary from 8.1 to 10.6 billion, and the 2100 projections vary from 6.2 to 15.8 billion.

Population trends indicate a shift in the demographic center of gravity from more to less developed regions, Bloom writes. Already strained, many developing countries will likely face tremendous difficulties in supplying food, water, housing, and energy to their growing populations, with repercussions for health, security, and economic growth.

“The demographic picture is indeed complex, and poses some formidable challenges,” Bloom said. “Those challenges are not insurmountable, but we cannot deal with them by sticking our heads in the sand. We have to tackle some tough issues ranging from the unmet need for contraception among hundreds of millions of women and the huge knowledge-action gaps we see in the area of child survival, to the reform of retirement policy and the development of global immigration policy. It’s just plain irresponsible to sit by idly while humankind experiences full force the perils of demographic change.”

Debt ceiling compromise
moves closer to reality

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama and U.S. congressional leaders are racing against time to reach agreement on a compromise that would keep the government from defaulting on its $14.3 trillion debt.

With very little time remaining before a Tuesday deadline, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Sunday that a compromise is really, really close. His Democratic colleague, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said he had agreed to a pending deal with Republicans.

But any deal approved by the Senate also would have to get through the House of Representatives. In that chamber, Republican Majority Leader John Boehner planned a late-evening conference call with his party membership to discuss the proposed compromise. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi set a meeting with her colleagues on Monday.

No votes seem likely in either house of Congress until today at the earliest, just one day before the deadline to raise the federal debt limit and enable the government to keep paying its bills.

The compromise bill includes more than $2 trillion in spending cuts while raising the debt ceiling so the country can continue borrowing money.

U.S. and overseas markets are nervously watching developments in Washington. Failure to reach agreement could set back a shaky world economy, which is still struggling to recover from recession.

U.S. stock markets suffered their worst losses of the year last week and the value of the dollar slumped.

All sides agree on the need to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling. But they have been squabbling for weeks on what to cut and how fast those cuts should be made.

Leader of drug hitmen
captured in  Chihuahua

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican authorities say they have arrested the suspected leader of a gang of drug cartel hitmen in northern Mexico.

Federal officials said Sunday José Antonio Acosta Hernández has admitted to ordering 1,500 killings during a terror campaign as a gang leader along the U.S. border.

Acosta is the suspected chieftain of La Linea gang, whose members act as enforcers for the Juarez drug cartel.

Officials say he was captured in the state capital, Chihuahua, Friday. Acosta was one of the Mexico's most wanted criminals, with the government offering a $1.2 million reward for his capture.

The man known as “El Diego,” had also been sought by U.S. authorities for last year's killings of a U.S. consulate employee, her husband and a third American in Ciudad Juárez, which borders El Paso, Texas.

The suspect has also been linked to a car bombing that killed four people last year in Ciudad Juårez, a city plagued by drug-related violence.

Mexican authorities say at least 40,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon's army began cracking down on drug cartels in 2006.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 150

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Pital de San Carlos now has a new fire station. It was inaugurated Saturday. Firemen have been in the community for 10 years, There are four professionals and eight volunteers.

U.N. director condemns
killings of journalists

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United Nations agency that defends and promotes press freedom has condemned the murders of journalists in Mexico and Brazil, two Latin American countries where reporters have already been killed this year.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization  demanded the killers of both Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz in Mexico and Auro Ida in Brazil be brought to justice, and called for strong measures to curb violence against journalists.

“I condemn the killing of Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, the latest case in an increasing global trend of women journalists being targeted, which I am deeply concerned about,” the director general said.

Ms. Ordaz de la Cruz, a veteran crime and security reporter security for the Veracruz newspaper Notiver, had been missing since July 23 and was found dead three days later.

“It is essential that the authorities investigate the alarming number of attacks on reporters in Veracruz and bring their culprits to justice,” Ms. Bokova said. 

Ms. Ordaz de la Cruz is the third Notiver journalist to be killed this year, after the murder of columnist Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco who was murdered, along with his wife and their son – Notiver crime photographer Misael López Solana – on June 20 in their home.

According to the non-governmental organization Article 19, five journalists have been murdered in México this year, four of them in the state of Veracruz.

In the case of Ida, Ms. Bokova said: “The use of violence to stop journalists from exercising their basic human right of freedom of expression is unacceptable. It is essential that the authorities bring the killers of Auro Ida to justice.”

Ida, 53, a former press secretary of the government of the city of Cuiabá, was a founder of the news site Midia News, and wrote an opinion column for another news website, Olhar Direto. He was shot dead in his car on July 22 by an unidentified man.

Ida is said to have been investigating local political corruption at the time of his killing. He is also said to have spoken of having received threats, the U.N. agency said

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ida is the fourth journalist killed in Brazil this year.

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