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(506) 2223-1327           Published Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 154           Email us
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Daystar

Corruption fighters are working overtime this week
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This has been a week for corruption fighters to work overtime.

Saturday agents detained three municipal officials in Golfito on the allegation that they sought a $75,000 bribe from two foreigners there to approve a maritime concession.

Thursday agents detained five persons, including a guard, in the continuing investigation of the attempted May 11 prison break at La Reforma penitentiary.

Also in the news is the continuing investigation of 12 prison guards who are accused of subjecting maximum security prisoners to beatings. The presumed leader of the May 11 breakout attempt died as a result of days of systematic beatings, according to forensic medical reports.

At the Consejo de Seguridad Vial, the road agency, an employee is accused to accepting 100,000 colons, about $200, to return to motorists the license plates that traffic police had confiscated and voiding their traffic ticket. Officials say he got 25 million colons or about $50,000 during the course of the criminal activity. He was detained Thursday.

In Alajuela the owner of a mechanical chop is accused of falsifying paperwork so that motorcycle owners could reclaim their confiscated vehicle without paying fines and other charges.

In criminal court in Goicoechea Thursday was  Pedro Pablo Quirós, the former head of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. He was trying to explain why he used a company helicopter to attend a wedding in Zarcero and to visit a friend elsewhere March 21, 2009.

It was in the legislature Wednesday when opposition  lawmakers accused the Partido Liberación Nacional, the party of President Laura Chinchilla, of having a party with the property of the state. By one estimate officials from at least 20 municipalities of the country's 81 are facing some form of investigation.

This week, too, the high criminal court, the  Sala Tercera de Casación Penal, confirmed the five-year prison sentence of Mario Morales Guzmán, former mayor of Asserí.

He was accused of accepting a bribe from a trash collecting company for approval of a landfill.

Costa Rica, of course, is the country that has two ex-presidents convicted of financial manipulations involving cell telephone contracts and purchases of
medical supplies. The convictions have been appealed.

In the La Reforma case, investigators conducted raids Thursday to detain five persons, including the daughter of the prisoner who suffered the fatal beating.  She was identified by the last names of  Araya Campos. She lives in Dos Cercas de Desamparados, said the Poder Judicial. Her father was Jovel Guillermo Araya Ramírez, the presumed leader of the breakout attempt who was found dead in his maximum security cell May 22. Araya and other prisoners killed a guard in an earlier successful breakout Oct. 9, 2006.

Also detained was a prison employee identified as  Castro Vindas. Agents know that someone provided the inmates with cell telephones, pistols and keys to the cell block before the breakout attempt. Castro is the leading suspect. A prison guard, Francis Morales Fallas, died in the shootout that ended the attempt, as did two prisoners.

The Poder Judicial identified the three other men who were detained Thursday by the last names and hometowns of Chavez Núñez of Guápiles and Canales Porras and Morales Castillo both of Desamparados. Two other persons already had been arrested.

The attempted prison break involved detailed planning beforehand that appears to have been facilitated by one or more prison employees. Conspirators outside the prison purchased a vehicle, filled it with weapons, stashed it near the Alajuela prison and rented an apartment as a hideaway. There is some question as to whether Araya died because guards were punishing him for the death of their colleague or if they wanted him dead so he would not talk to investigators.

The mechanical shop operator who helped owners of confiscated motorcycles was identified by the last names of Molina Matamoros, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. In order to get a motorcycle freed from the  Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes impound, a false power of attorney was used. Also used were false documents saying that the fines had been paid.

Molina is accused of actually participating in retrieving the motorcycles. Judicial police said there were 15 separate cases involving this fraud from last November until May.

In the Golfito case, the municipal officials have been remanded to preventative detention. The mayor is Deylon Gerardo Arroyo Blandón. Also jailed for preventative detention were the president of the municipal council,  Rodolfo Delgado Jiménez, and another official, Alexis Rojas Rojas.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 154

Costa Rica Expertise


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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.



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President's visit to congress
results in two approvals


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla went to the legislature Thursday to seek approval of various tax bills. The visit met with success.

Later in the day lawmakers approved two measures. The first strengthens tax collection, and the second approves a $60 million loan from the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo to fix up the municipal road systems.

Ms. Chinchilla also told Juan Carlos Mendoza, the president of the congress, that he would have to tighten the belt, too. She said that the central government budget would be cut 50 billion colons or about $100 million.

Ms. Chinchilla said the lawmakers have to approve the $300 annual tax on corporations so that the country can invest $30 million into the Escuela Nacional de Policía and into other security measures. She also lobbied for approval of another loan, this one also from the  Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo for $180 million.

Lawmakers brought up the corporate tax in the full legislative session in the afternoon, but it appears they did not have time to discuss it or take any action. This likely is to be the first order of business Monday.

Ms. Chinchilla is in a strong strategic situation. August is one of those periods when the executive branch controls the agenda of the Asamblea Legislativa.  Lawmakers cannot approve anything that has not been put before them by the president.

Ms. Chinchilla told the president of congress that the country needed to construct yet another hydro power plant to avoid electrical shortage in the coming years. She also noted that the country was facing the biggest deficit in the last 30 years, according to a summary provided by Casa Presidencial.

Ms. Chinchilla has been critical in public speeches of the slow progress of her tax plan through congress. Thursday she was less accusatory. It appears that she may have obtains some support for her cornerstone tax plan which seeks to raise $1 billion a year with a value-added tax and other changes to the tax code. That plan still is in committee.

All 42 legislators who were present for the general session Thursday voted to approve the loan for the municipal roads. The country has pledged to add $15 million to bring the total to $75 million. This is nearly $1 million for each of the country's 81 municipalities or cantons. However, the money will not be divided equally.

The plan to strengthen tax collection and to enhance penalties passed with 38 lawmakers in favor. Three voted no.

Both measures were before lawmakers for the second time. Each bill received two votes. The corporate tax plan probably will come up for an initial vote next week, although lawmakers have wide discretion and could even shelve the proposal.

If the corporate tax bill passes, all forms of corporations will have to pay a proportional amount of $300 based on the effective date of the law before year's end and then the full $300 in January.

 
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!

From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary






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A.M. Costa Rica's
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Escazu Christian
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 154

Prisma dental

Vice president sees convention center completed by 2014
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Chinchilla administration expects to put into service a new national convention center at the beginning of 2014, according to Vice President Alfio Piva. He was speaking Thursday to the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteles.

Piva said that the government expects to seek bids next year for the job. He did not say how the project would be funded.

The convention center is part of the central government's plan to increase tourism 5 percent over the number that arrived in 2010.

Piva outlined a three-part plan that focused on growth, quality and sustainability.

He said there were more than 2 million tourists in 2010,
which was more than a 9 percent increase over the year before. He said that in the first three months of the year, the country received 7.8 percent more tourists than the same period a year earlier.

The government also seeks to increase to 500 the number of firms that are certified sustainable by 2016 and that it also seeks 10 percent more hotel rooms certified as suitable for tourists by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. That would mean 60 percent of all hotel rooms in the country.

"The numbers show that we are going forward strengthened by the petroleum and gold that is tourism," said Piva, in a reference to the administration's opposition to open pit gold mining and oil exploration. He said that President Laura Chinchilla has a clear idea of the direction of the country.
He said the growth in tourism was the result of work of the government after the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009.


Tourism chamber opposes big jump in airport landing fees
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national tourism chamber says proposed increases in airport usage fees are disproportionate. The adjustments in fees mainly concerns airports in Pavas, Limón and Liberia.

The  Cámara Nacional de Turismo said it presented its opposition before the  Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil. The increases are estimated to be between 23.18 and 29.49 percent, the chamber said.

The chamber said this would cost passengers more and decrease the number of local flights.

The main concern, said the chamber are the  Tobias
 Bolaños airport in Pavas, the international airport in Limón and Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia.

The chamber said it feared that the higher percentages would have repercussions on the tourism sector and in the cost of operation for airlines.

A 500-ton airliner that spends 90 minutes at the Liberia airport would pay $4,700 in landing and parking fees, the chamber said.

The chamber said it recognized that the last rate adjustment was 17 years ago, but the tariffs should not be increased in one jump, The rates at Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela are adjusted each year, it noted.


Now dentists can work magic with old, tired mouths
I have been considering different topics to write about this week, but over-shadowing my musings on the meaning of life have been my teeth. 

Once I was going to write a memoir entitled "Dentists my teeth have seen throughout the world."  At this stage in life the title would be "How my teeth can be replaced by implants."  We all get to that point.  I remember not long ago at a luncheon complaining about a dental appointment or a toothache, I don’t remember which, when a lovely lady at the table said  “Oh, the solution is implants.” 

Her smile after she said that was dazzling.  I realized that is what I have unconsciously been noticing lately:  The white dazzling smiles of perfect teeth that I am presented with in the flesh and on TV. And I know they all weren’t born with the same perfect teeth.

But I needed to do something about mine.  After my son had a molar implant and was pleased (and did not go through agony), I decided I would chance it. I have found the dentists in Costa Rica to be among the best and the not very good, so I feel lucky to live where people in other countries come to have their dental work done.

I went to the same clinic that my son had visited and that specializes in implants.  I explained that after some dental work my bite was off.  It set my teeth on edge, so to speak, every time I closed my mouth.  I didn’t want beautiful teeth, I wanted my bite corrected.  They said they could do that.

There are two kinds of implants, the “one piece immediate load” implant and the regular implant.  Some time ago I had had one tooth replaced by an implant that was a regular mode because my jaw needed more bone.  I think that it is more common to not have enough bone for the upper jaw to hold an implant.  It had taken a good half hour and two dentists working on my jaw.  So bone was added and I had to wait (with a perfectly adequate temporary tooth) for over three months for my jaw to be ready for the finished installation.   

An immediate load implant is a whole different animal.  In preparation for the work, they first took a panoramic x-ray and made a mold of my teeth.

Then the head dentist walked in and within less than 10 minutes, probably 5  he painlessly injected just enough
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

novocain to numb temporarily, placed four screws in my lower jaw, smiled, told me all was well and left.  It was zip zip.  I was given five antibiotic pills and some pain killers to take over the next five days.  After a short wait they had temporary teeth ready for me and I went home.

Within eight days my permanent implants were ready.  Subsequent visits involved replacing the temporaries with
permanent implants, which, after a previous disaster with an ill fitting crown, I asked to please put them in temporarily so I could try them out.  I am glad I did as we had some problems with one side.

At the clinic I attended, all of the dentists and assistants, other than the one with the screws, are women.  Patient, gentle, understanding women who are careful about detail.  Immediate load costs more but the cost here
false teeth
is less than half that charged in the United States.  Well worth a medical vacation trip.

And here is a suggestion to the U.S. government.  Costa Rica has made it relatively easy for visitors to come to this country for medical and dental treatment while they are having a great vacation.  I doubt very much that the U.S. could tout their medical services as reasonably priced. But what it does have to offer is a beautiful country with many cities and wondrous national parks and expanses of nature for the tourist. 

Start with reforming your visa policies for tourists. Make it easier for people to visit the United States – just as they seem to be flocking to China.  This advice is not mine, but I am passing it along from someone who seems to know.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 154

More reader commentaries on living in Costa Rica
Expats need to tone down
rhetoric over living here

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Plumley pretty much sums up what I would say about the gentleman from Puntarenas who painted such a dark side to living in or visiting Costa Rica. I would like to add a few things, however.

1. Crime is not directed just at foreigners as is suggested. When I lived in the U.S., I had security in my houses as did most people. No, it was not a wall with electric wires, but it was for the same purpose, just a little more sophisticated. I like my wall. It not only keeps the bad boys out, but has allowed me to create a peaceful and serene environment inside as well. I agree, the judicial system needs a lot of work here but there is more violent crime committed on a weekend in one major U.S. city than in Costa Rica in a month. Anytime the economy tanks, the crime rate goes up and I would suspect that most crime is drug-related. If the U.S. did not have an insatiable drug appetite the crime rate everywhere might go down.

2. Mr. Plumley hit it right on with his assessment of Panamá. Yahoo wrote an article about five cheap places to retire. Three of the five were in Central America, and one was a town in Panama (a small town an hour from Panama City). Yahoo allows replies to its articles and many people wrote in saying if you want a cheap, safe place to retire, do not come to Panamá.

3. Yes, in Spanish the word Gringo does mean double the price. But not to all Ticos. A lot of expats get gouged because they come here expecting (and sometimes demanding) to live like a king on the backs of the Ticos. They build big houses, flash around a lot of money, talk a lot and isolate them from Costa Rican culture, looking for expat communities and joining English speaking clubs.

Most Ticos are honest, good, hard-working people who will treat you the same way in which they are treated. I live with a Tico family (their son is my godson, and I am considered his abuelo) and we live as a family. We have embraced each others culture and language (although my Spanish still sucks, but I try, and that means a lot to Ticos), I have wonderful Tico neighbors who will come to my aid anytime I need them, I have avoided so called English-speaking groups but not necessarily English-speaking people. We often joke about me (old Blue Eyes) not doing any negotiating for work or services. Tico to Tico works very well. Much better than Gringo to Tico.

4...Cost of living here pretty much evens out. Gas is high and products imported and transported by trucks are subsequently high. I pay much less for utilities than in the U.S., and the property taxes are much less here for a comparably sized house (yes, I did look up current property taxes where I came from in the U.S.).  And if you build and live in a luxurious house, you pay a luxury tax, which is still less than what you would pay in the U.S. 

Do not come here expecting to live well just on your Social Security and Medicare (which does not cover any services outside the U.S.). Excellent  private medical care is a fraction of what it costs in the U.S., but if you do not have private medical insurance that covers costs in a foreign country, you are left with Caja, which could be a problem, or out of pocket expenses.

Some of these disgruntled expats need to tone down the rhetoric. There are two sides to everything, and people thinking about visiting and living here need to hear all of it, not just the opinions of angry, unhappy people, which. after many years, I have found to exist everywhere. Move on to your next promised land. Leave those of us who find good things about Costa Rica alone. Purs Vida.
James Clarke
Heredia


Will tax plan affect
U.S. pension checks?


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As I read the few negative and the many more positive opinions about living in Costa Rica, several thoughts come to mind.

The entire world is in the midst of an economic crisis, so even though we are paying more here for food and services, than we were four years ago, here in Costa Rica we are in much better shape than many other places on the planet.

That being said, the new tax proposals which are being considered could radically change that.The fact that the government has not been able to collect a very large percentage of the taxes owed it even by its OWN agencies makes me wonder why they are choosing to tax investors and people on pensions that are actually helping the economy by choosing to live here and invest here.

Myself, I currently pay 15 to 25 percent to the U.S government each year for my retirement checks, Now, if the new tax law passes, I will pay that and another 15 percent here ???? So I will now pay 30 to 40 percent for the same amount of money. No I will NOT do that.

We love life here and the people, culture, and climate. So I will have a choice to make like many other pensioned people here from many other countries, who pay taxes already on their money. If I invest here, I expect to pay my fair share, But I do not intend to pay for poor performance on the part of the government for not collecting or paying their fair share.

Unless this law is modified to make our pensions ours alone. I think many other pensioners like us will be forced to go home or find a more economically friendly country. I hope they have the good sense NOT to KILL the gooses that are laying the golden eggs here, because we spend all of our already taxed money here in Lovely Costa Rica. Keep up the good work A.M. Costa Rica. Maybe someone will take notice.

Fred and Shiela Cole 
Nuevo Arenal,



Crime is rising everywhere,
and the world is changing


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Bill Walkling from Puntarenas is not wrong in his facts on Costa Rica regarding rising crime and the rising cost of living. Considering the fact that he came here seven years ago, I can understand why he is moving out (although Panamá may not necessarily be the best alternative). If one is just arriving to Costa Rica nowadays, you come here with a better understanding of the negative realities of the current situation (in part due to publications like A.M. Costa Rica) which was definitely not advertised seven years ago to the extent they are now, in part, because it just wasn't as bad.

On the other hand Leo Plumley and others seem to take pleasure in bashing Mr. Walkling for what they perceive as his bashing of Costa Rica. In reality, Mr. Walkling was just telling it like it is first hand, while others prefer to sugar coat the current situation for personal reasons. To the Walking bashers I say wake up and smell the coffee, you're not in Kansas anymore and even if you were, Kansas has changed. It’s a new world out there. Pull your head out of the sand before it’s too late. Stop looking down your noses at others just because you have not YET been a victim of crime.

Sure crime is on the rise everywhere and so is the cost of living. But the point is, over the past few years Costa Rica has experienced a much greater increase than many other places which have not resorted to the propaganda nature, peace and love hype to attract unsuspecting would be residents while downplaying the true problems.

Patrick McCormick
Costa Rica
Country is not inexpensive,
says veteran of 15 trips

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Oh boy, here we go again: Another group of Costa Rica apologists denigrating anyone who disagrees that life there is the ultimate, the Pura Vida we all have been looking for.
 
I have been visiting Costa Rica regularly since 1992, even attended the best escuela I could find for two consecutive years to learn Spanish properly unlike most of the cerveza-guzzling Gringos that sit at the El Presidente bar.  Mr Walkling on Wednesday, made many valid points.
 
During the 15 or so trips I made to Costa Rica, I have seen it all. It's usually only these "Costa Rica is Nirvana " preacher-types that state they have never been molested, robbed, scammed, had money extorted from them by the police or crooked attorneys, or heavens forbid, have even heard of such dastardly acts.
 
Of the many lengthy trips I made down there, only a few were uneventful, involving no rip-offs or worse. And two of them were the first and second trips. Back then the bad air quality in downtown San Jose' was the worst discovery. But soon after that, somewhere around the late '90s, I watched the gradual metamorphosis occurring that soon convinced me that is not a country I want to retire to. To the country's credit, the bad air quality was resolved a few years after my initial visit, a pat on the back to the government!
 
However, it's not the inexpensive place to retire to that it once was, as Mr. Walkling attested to. But, more than that, it's the  haves  that have flocked in there (mostly Americans who couldn't make it here ), that have attracted the have-nots.
 
I have experienced it time after time, from the shakedowns at roadblocks, to a mid day break-in at a cottage I was renting, to the white collar crime practiced by disreputable real estate attorneys and realtors, to the blatant young thieves that just rip the necklaces off the women's' necks on Avenida Central in broad daylight.  No wonder there are so many gated condo/home communities sprouting up there !
 
I didn't go looking for trouble, no late night drinking in the dark hovels of San José, but the have-nots made their presence well known in other ways.
 
I am far from poor, but to invest in more real estate in Costa Rica at this time is just foolhardy. Best to do as I do now: Fly down for a two to three month vacation and relax on a nice beach, content in the knowledge that my home back in Los Estados Unidos is not being broken into.  Pura Vida my eye ! (smile)
Joe Furlong
Venice, Florida

Practice common sense
in walking around city


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Utopia does not exist!

Kudos to Barry Schwartz and Leo Plumley for their letters that appeared in today's (Aug. 4) edition.  They help to put things in perfect perspective.  As Sir Isaac Newton theorized, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  For every American happily living in Costa Rica, the is one who is unhappy.  But, this is not unusual or biased.  For every person who favors vanilla ice cream, there is one who favors chocolate.  It is all about what we as individuals prefer, and, what we deem and accept as the norm.  Some people will simply not be happy wherever they are.
    
 Yes, there is crime and violence in Costa Rica. That is a fact that cannot be denied.  But, there is also crime and violence in the United States.  Many years ago, I was robbed at gunpoint in a hallway of a big and prominent hotel in New York City, and, I was not alone. I was with three other men, and all of us we fairly big guys. But, a gun is a excellent neutralizer. 
    
One must exhibit and practice common sense.  If you walk around flashing expensive jewelry and money, you raise the red flag.  My home in New Jersey is about 25 kms. from New York City.  At times I go into the city quite often.  There is no way I am wearing expensive jewelry and making a target out of myself.  When I am walking around in Costa Rica, if I wear a watch, it is a very cheap and plain looking watch. 
    
If you want to move to Costa Rica, you must know there are changes you are going to have to make.  It is a simple matter of fact.  If you don't, then you become a target.  Your wanting to move to Costa Rica must be based on reasons that put materialistic values secondary.  If you cannot do this, then you need to re-evaluate your thought process.
    
On the other side of the coin, it cannot be denied that it appears that criminals in Costa Rica are not dealt with as seriously or severely as they should be.  The Costa Rican government must establish a stronger stance on how criminals are dealt with.  Those who commit crimes against other people need to face stronger and longer sentences.  There should be intensive community service projects.  Let those convicted of crimes be put to work.  Let them (under armed supervision) repair roads, rebuild public facilities such as schools.  Let them work to pay for the expenses of keeping them imprisoned.  Let them know, if you break the law, you are going to pay dearly.
    
Next month, I return to Costa Rica.  Many of my friends and family question my rationale, based on what they hear and see on the news.  There are many of the baby boomer generation who relished at the thought of moving to Costa Rica who are now having second thoughts.  An influx of Americans to Costa Rica brings with it the opportunity for huge financial gain for the country.  The government needs to seriously address this. 

To me, a 65- year-old widower with grown children, what Costa Rica offers far outweighs what reasonable precaution can prevent.  Possession of materialistic value takes a serious second place to more realistic and simplistic values: harmony, tranquility, contentment, serenity and the beauty of nature that God put on this earth. 

Utopia does not exist, Costa Rica is not perfect, but, when you compare the attributes versus the detriments, there are not many places that offer more, especially for the cost factors.
    
Bruce Jacobs
New Jersey
 
Very rich should get bill
for improved security

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

If Madame President Laura Chinchilla is serious about security, she will try to finance her security forces with luxury taxes on Costa Rica's elite instead of through traffic fines.

Here the example of Colombia comes to mind. Faced with the abyss of a failing state a decade ago, Colombian's well-to-do sectors swallowed the bitter pill of a significant tax hike to fund President Alvaro Uribe's democratic security policy. Today, the benefits of that decision are all too apparent. This has not been lost on some of the region's leaders. President Laura Chinchilla needs to levy taxes on the wealthiest of the wealthy to fund the revamping of crime prevention and law enforcement strategies, not through traffic fines.

The end result of the traffic fines is just more payola to the tránsito via bribes at checkpoints.

Her system is self defeating. The true revenue on fines probably does not even cover the added costs of the traffic checks.
Robert Barras
Esterillos

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 154

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

College loans for illegals
becomes U.S. political issue


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Illinois DREAM Act, recently signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn, gives undocumented immigrant students access to privately funded college tuition assistance.  Illinois, a state with one of the highest populations of illegal aliens, is the latest to pass such a measure.  But lawmakers in other states, most notably Maryland, are working to stop similar legislation.

Illinois is the latest state to draft legislation giving undocumented students an opportunity to complete a higher education.  The Illinois DREAM Act creates a commission that will oversee the distribution of financial aid to applicants. 

The measure enjoyed bipartisan support when it passed in the state legislature earlier this year.  But Kristen Williamson, a spokesperson for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, says her organization opposes it.

"This opposition doesn't come from trying to punish the kids or students for the sins of their parents, but rather not reward the parents for illegal activity.  With the DREAM Fund commission, specifically in Illinois, although the money is coming from private funds, the funds are tax exempt," Ms. Williamson said.

And Ms. Williamson says opposition against similar measures in other states throughout the country is growing.

"Illinois is moving in the opposite direction of the rest of the country.  I believe that there are 11 other states that have a version of the DREAM Act and I think in nine of them there are movements to get rid of it," said Maryland State Delegate Patrick McDonough.

In April, lawmakers in Maryland passed a law that would provide in-state tuition discounts under certain circumstances to undocumented students.

"It's a displacement of a citizen.  If they get a certain slot at an education institution or they receive a certain scholarship or benefit, that is money that is going to be displaced that could be available in these very difficult economic times to a family member or an American citizen," said McDonough, a Republican who opposed the measure in Maryland.

He spearheaded a successful petition drive in Maryland to suspend the legislation.  He says close to 75,000 people signed the petition.  The issue now goes before voters in a statewide referendum during next year's general elections.

"In Maryland, it's going to have a big impact.  It's going to bring out to vote a tremendous number of people, many of whom have never voted before.  It's going to affect our congressional and U.S. Senate races.  And I intend to run for the United States Senate against incumbent Democrat Ben Cardin, and it's certainly going to have an impact on that race," McDonough added.

Legislation for a national DREAM Act, or Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, which provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, was first introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2001.  It passed the House of Representatives last year, but did not have the support necessary in the Senate to become law.  The legislation was reintroduced in May in response to President Barack Obama's call for a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  Lawmakers have yet to take up the measure.


Emily weakens and heads
out to sea and eastern Cuba


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tropical Storm Emily brought drenching rain to the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but has now weakened and moved west into the sea.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami says in its most recent bulletin Thursday that Emily is lost organization as it interacted with the mountains of Hispaniola and weaken into a low-pressure trough. The storm was about 160 kilometers south-southwest of the eastern tip of Cuba moving northwest with winds of about 35 mph.

Forecasters expect Emily or its remnants to pass over extreme eastern Cuba.

In Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, hundreds of thousands of people are still living in tent cities after a devastating earthquake last year that left the city in ruins. The hurricane center warned of possible dangerous flash floods and slides.

Haiti's tent cities perched on hillsides are particularly at risk, because much of the landscape has been stripped bare of trees, which have been cut down for use as fuel or building materials. A slow-moving storm in June caused mudslides and flooding that killed at least 28 people.

The U.S. National Weather Service said Thursday that the rest of the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be unusually active, with three to five storms expected to become major hurricanes.

The season runs from from June 1 to Nov. 30.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 5, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 154

Costa Rica Reprot promo


Latin America news
coast guard
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas graduated 53 of its members Thursday. There were three groups that completed different levels of training. The event was in the Plaza de las Artesanías in Puntarenas.


Parque de Diversiones
now off limits to smoking

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Red Nacional Antitabaco claims responsibility for signs being erected at the Parque de Diversiones to prohibit smoking. A law prohibits smoking in places that are primarily used for recreation by minors. The Red complained in January to the Ministerio de Salud that there were no signs in the La Uruca installation.

After an inspection last month, the health ministry agreed, said the Red. The anti-tobacco organization is seeking to make all public spaces in the country free of smoking.


Achiote festival is in Moravia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Moravia will be the scene of the first  Festival del Achiote Saturday and Sunday.

The event honors those little red seeds that provides coloring to a number of foods.

Cooks can get a preview by finding paste made from the seeds in many supermarkets and stores. The plant is  Bixa orellana.

Participants in the Moravia event include representatives of firms that use achiote in their products. Also participating will be the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil Intermedia and the band Son de Tikizia.

Achiote is often used as asubstsitute for  saffron in many dishes including rice.


Park ranger reported missing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A volunteer park ranger, Óscar Cruz Ramírez, has been missing since 4 p.m. Wednesday in Parque Nacional Volcán Poås.

Cruz separated himself form several visitors and then never rejoined them Wednesday afternoon. Searchers did not begin to seek him until Thursday morning. They will continue today.







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