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(506) 2223-1327       Published Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 160       E-mail us
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They are two of thousands, immigration police chief says
Fake entry stamps on passports snag U.S. couple

By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There may be as many as 3,000 foreigners in Costa Rica with fake stamps on their passports, said the director of the immigration police Tuesday.  

Monday immigration police deported a U.S. couple who had been living in Costa Rica for years, according to director of Policía de Migración, Francisco Castaing. The couple who had faithfully exited and re-entered the country every 90 days for four years, decided to send their passport and pay for a stamp just one time, according to a neighbor.

As most people living on tourist visas in Costa Rica know, they must leave the country every 90 days for at least 72 hours, in order to remain legal.

“We want to send out a message to all North Americans that any type of action, whether it is sending out a passport to get stamped or buying a fake stamp, is illegal and they shouldn't do it,” said Castaing, who said officials have seen a significant jump in cases recently.

Castaing said frequently a scam artist poses as a friend and tells foreigners that he can bring passports to the border to get a legitimate stamp. But this is all a set-up, said the police director. There are people all over the country who have fake stamping operations, said Castaing. North Americans may pay anywhere from $100 to $500 for one of these “coyotes” or scam artists to stamp their passport, he said.

As for the U.S. couple, Christine Shea-Borgfeldt and Charles Bryant, an angry business associate turned them in, according to one friend. Castaing said he could not comment as to how police received the information but said investigators received evidence when the couple showed their passports during a bank transaction.

Ms. Shea-Borgfeldt, 55 and Bryant, 56, lived together in San Rafael, Santa Ana, in a house they were renting, said Castaing. A neighbor, who wished to go unnamed, said they always paid their rent on time, paid their maid and were a typical law abiding and honest couple.

Ms. Shea-Borgfeldt, worked from home in the cell phone industry, and Bryant was a children's author, according to Castaing.

The couple were not honest however when they spoke to immigration police about the stamps, according to Castaing. They said they had exited through Sixaola to Panamá, according to Castaing. But the fake stamps clearly said Aeropuerto Juan Santamaría.

A new more advanced stamp for passports was issued in January making it easier for immigration police to detect fakes, said the subdirector of
deported U.S. citizens
Christine Shea-Borgfeldt and Charles Bryant
suspicious stamp
A.M. Costa Rica/Elise Sonray
This is the fake stamp in a U.S. passport

immigration police, Luis Arce. The stamp appears blue but when held to a neon light turns orange.

The director of Migración y Extranjería, Mario Zamora, played an influential role in obtaining the new stamps.  Immigration officials are also able to see which employee issued the stamp and if they actually worked the day the stamp was applied

There have also been many cases of false work permit stamps, especially with Nicaraguan workers, said Arce. Castaing said there have not been many deportations of North Americans yet, but that the department was cracking down and taking the issue more seriously. Castaing said he estimated 2,500 to 3,000 foreigners have bought fake stamps.

A lot of the fake stamp operations are in the coastal areas where tourists live, said Castaing. He said he was aware of a large operation in Puerto Jiménez, but that police have not detained any of the players in the scam yet there.

Ms. Shea-Borgfeldt and Bryant had been exiting and entering the country on more or less regular intervals since 2003, according to immigration records, said Castaing. All of their trips were to the United States, he said. Although, the director said, there was something strange about Bryant's stamps because he had a few exits stamps without the corresponding entrance stamps. Bryant was born in Virgina and Ms. Shea-Borgfeldt was born in Iowa, according to the copies of their passports obtained by the immigration police. The two were shipped to Miami, said Castaing.
 
Castaing said there seems to be an increasing attitude among North Americans that they can just pay for passport stamps. He warned that this was dangerous and illegal. Ms. Shea-Borgfeldt and Bryant are forbidden to enter the country for five years.


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Mother shall have her day
Friday, a paid holiday


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Friday is a holiday that ranks as one of the most important of the year. It is el Día de la Madre or mother's day. Stores have been hawking their wares for several weeks. And mother is expecting a pretty good gift.

The Costa Rican family revolves around the mother. It may be that father and his wandering eye are off with his other family, but the mother is a constant.

Friday also is Assumption Day in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar.  The blending of mother on earth and the mother of Christ in heaven is not accidental.

Friday also is one of those holidays with obligatory pay. Employees who work that day for some business reason must be paid double, according to the Ministerio de Trabajo. Otherwise, employees get a paid day off.

Government offices will be closed, as will the various embassies. Stores and restaurants will be open if the owners think they can make money. Some restaurants will have special programs for mother.

For those with mothers who have died, a trip to the cemetery is obligatory. Flower vendors will do a good business.

Lawmakers tried to change the holiday to the next Monday after the date. The idea was to create a three-day weekend. By chance this year is a three-day weekend.

However, Costa Ricans got so upset at legislators tampering with mother's day that a new batch of lawmakers quickly changed the law so that the holiday is on whatever day Aug. 15 falls.

Local composer's work
to open orchestra concert


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional will perform its seventh concert of the season Aug. 22 and 24. The program will feature the American director Delta David Gier and the Costa Rican pianist Jacques Sagot.  The orchestra will perform, as usual, on a Friday, Aug. 22, at 8 p.m. and repeat the performace the following Sunday, Aug. 24, at 10:30 a.m. Both performances are at the Teatro Nacional.

The opening work will be "Danza de la Pena Negra," by Benjamin Gutierrez and inspired by the life of Federico Garcia Lorca, according to a summary by the orchestra.  Lorca was a Spanish poet, dramatist, painter, composer, and pianist who was killed at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Gutierrez, a San José native, is a professor of music at the Universidad de Costa Rica.  The piano work will be followed by a piano and orchestra concert, interpreted by Jacques Sagot.  Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4, one of his most frequently performed symphonies, will finish the concert. 

Gier, music director of the South Dakota Symphony, has been called a dynamic voice on the American music scene because of his compassionate commitment to new music.  He is a loyal promoter of American artists and he has conducted symphonys in South Dakota since 2004, asccording to the symphony.   Sagot is a writer and musician who frequently works with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and with recitals.  He also composes the notes for the sesson's official program.   

Tickets to the concert are sold at the Teatro Nacional ticket office and cost beween 3,000 and 9,000 colons.  The Web site at www.teatronacional.go.cr. 

Our reader's opinion
Future depends on action

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In reference to the article about density in beach communities, all I can say is, "No $#!+, Sherlock!" When you realize that the drive is not toward an altruistic sharing of the wonders of Costa Rica, you see that marketing and wording cloud the reality of what is actually happening for financial gain.

There is nothing wrong with developing.  However, the phrase sustainable development has to be a reality and not a catch phrase for sales and brochures.

The future of Costa Rica depends on honesty and integrity of expressed values. If infrastructure is not in place now, there will be no reason to complain about its lack in the future if measures are not taken.  Words are words, but the future will depend on action.  And so the future remains uncertain.

Leslie B. Zelinsky
Playas del Coco

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Green Fund's Tom Jafek is awaiting extradition in Florida
By Elise Sonray
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. marshals near Miami, Florida, have arrested a man wanted by Costa Rican authorities on fraud charges  according to the international police agency.

The man, Thomas Jafek, was the president of the ill-fated
Jafek
Thomas Jafek
Green Costa Rica S.A., during the golden days of high-interest investments, according to the police agency. The firm operated the Costa Rica Green Fund which had a mainly North American clientele.

U.S. marshals arrested Jafek July 28, according to the agency, but the news was not released until Tuesday.

In June 2004, Costa Rican authorities issued international
arrest warrants for Jafek and two of his immediate family members. The warrants were issued for Jafek's wife, Billie
Joe, who served as the secretary for the Green fund, and his son, Thomas Jafeck II, who served as treasurer, according to the release from the international police agency. A warrant for his daughter-in-law was also released, said the release. Mrs. Jafek died in 2003.

During 2001 the Green investment operation attracted domestic and foreign investors. The company offered an attractive interest in dollars and told clients that their money would be invested in the company's various financial operations, according to the police release. 

Costa Rican authorities allege that the company had no activity at all that would generate such a high income, said the spokesperson. Employees of the Green Fund are accused
of transferring the money to various bank accounts and   running away with it. The operation closed in December 2002 and representatives refused to meet their payment commitments to customers, according to the international police agency.
 
The U. S. Department of Justice is holding Jafek until his extradition, said the police release. Costa Rican authorities have 60 days to formalize the documents for the extradition, added the release. Jafek could face up to 10 years in prison, according to the police agency.

The arrest warrant for the Jafek is believed to have been generated by formal criminal complaints by creditors.

The Green Fund investment operation was in the Mercedes Tower on Paseo Colón. Lawyers involved with investors said that their clients were promised 3 percent per month but that payments stopped about the beginning of 2003. There may be as much as $10 million in investor money involved.

Jafek gave an interview via e-mail after the warrents were issued in October 2004. He said that he faced intimidation, stalking and extortion from unhappy investors but that he had no money and denied he lied or cheated.

He said that earlier in 2004 manhunters tried to extort some $1.2 million from him, presumably at the request of unhappy customers. He was blieved to be in Panamá at that time.

Jafek repeadedly has said he was trying to make arrangements so he could pay off customers.

His was one of the smaller operations during the heyday of the Villalobos brothers investment scheme, the Vault operated by the late Roy Taylor and Savings Unlimited, whose owner, Luis Milanes, recently returned to make a deal with prosecutors. All three collapsed, too.


Women in the coffee industry to meet in Orosí in October
By Melissa Hinkley
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Women In Coffee International Conference is set to take place Oct. 23 to 25 in Orosí.  The conference hopes to bring in 120 to 150 women from all over the world who work in the coffee industry.

The International Women’s Coffee Alliance began when Karen Cebreros and Kimberly Easson planned a women-only trip to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. 

Their goal was to connect diverse backgrounds by building relationships between North American and Canadian women and Latin American women. 

The idea of forming an organization that would be dedicated to growing relationships between women in the coffee industry followed.

“The idea for the alliance came because of the connection that happened on that trip.  We are all connected,” said Kerri Goodman of Seattle, who is on the Women's International Relations Committee. 

Since 2003, the organization has held numerous conferences.  The group has provided self-powered radios to farmers in Rwanda, helped 200 women in Perú expand their gardens to increase income and supplement their diets, and contributed to cancer vaccines for 1,700 women in producing countries.
The organization's goal is simple, to affect women's lives through the global coffee community.  The conference visitors will seek to accomplish these goals as they come to Costa Rica in October.

“It has changed my life.  It doesn't take that much to make a difference.  I have realized we all have the same issues no matter what country we live in.  It has changed the way I do business and the way I do things overall,” said Ms. Goodman.

The alliance's theme is “Coffee from Hands to Heart”.  The conference will have a series of inspirational presentations and workshops about women’s impact and role in the coffee industry around the world.  All participants will have the chance to increase their coffee knowledge and connect with others in their profession, said organizers.

Ms. Easson, the group's president, said the two day event will bring coffee women and men from around the world and from all aspects of the industry: From women farmers and cooperative representatives, to importers, roasters and development experts.

The conference will be held in the Orosi Valley which is located southeast of Cartago and is considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Costa Rica.  It is coffee country. The three-day event will cost $150 and will include meals, social events, material, lectures, workshops and local transportation.  More information is available at  www.WomeninCoffee.org.


Arias visits three new bridges on the Costanera Sur
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez and transportation officials inspected new bridges on the Costanera Sur Tuesday.

In addition, the visitors saw the grading work that will allow workers to put asphalt on 42 kms (26 miles) of the gravel highway from Quepos to Baru.That's a $34 million job.

The new bridges are over the Río Portalón, a 90-meter (295-foot) span, the Río Paquita, some 113 meters (371 feet), and the Río Matapalo, a 54-meter (177-foot) span.
The government also has two projects being constructed, a 171-meter (561-foot) span at Parrita and a 198-meter (650-foot) span at Naranjo. Two more bridges, one at Hatillo Nuevo of some 120 meters (394 feet) and one at Hatillo Viejo of 90 meters (295 feet) was scheduled to open in May. In addition, transport officials are accepting bids on a widening of a bridge over the Rîo Savegre.

The Costanera, which will be paved from Quepos to north of Dominical will be a two-lane scenic route that will provide quicker access to the southern zone. Traffic will not have to pass through San José and Cartago to go from north to south or south to north.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 160


Amazon.com to open customer service center in Heredia
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Amazon, the online marketer, said Tuesday that it plans to open a customer service center in Heredia.  The new facility, which is scheduled to open in November, is expected to create more than 300 new jobs during its first two years of operation, with an additional 400 seasonal jobs to be added during the fourth quarter holiday season.  The office will be operated by Amazon Support Services Costa Rica S.R.L.

The Costa Rican facility will provide primarily phone support with some e-mail support for customers of Amazon.com, the company said.

“As our business continues to grow, it’s important that we have customer service representatives available when it’s convenient for our customers,” said Brent Jaye, director of Amazon’s North America Customer Service.  “Costa Rica
has developed a great infrastructure that meets our needs, and is home to a number of existing customer service centers which means we’ll be able to draw on an experienced talent pool.  As a result, we believe our new facility in Costa Rica will enable us to continue to serve our customers quickly and efficiently.”

Amazon.com, Inc. is a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, Washington.  Amazon.com has more than 40 different product categories, ranging from books, music, movies, video games, electronics, toys and baby, beauty, health and personal care, jewelry and watches, shoes, apparel and accessories, and gourmet food.

For the second quarter 2008, Amazon.com had global net sales of $4.06 billion, compared with $2.89 billion in second quarter 2007, an increase of 41%.  The company ships to more than 200 countries worldwide and has tens of millions customers.


U.N. highlights plight of Colombia's native groups
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

This year's International Day of the World's Indigenous People, is the first to take place following the landmark adoption of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly in September 2007.

To mark this event, the U.N. refugee agency is drawing attention to the plight of indigenous groups at risk of violence and forced displacement in Colombia. 

There are about 370 million native peoples around the world, many of whom continue to live on the margins of society and suffer abuse and discrimination.

U.N. human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, calls the Declaration on Indigenous Rights very important.

"It lays down minimum standards essentially for the survival and well-being of the world's indigenous people," he said. "It attempts also to tackle some of the historical injustices they faced, particularly in areas like land rights, which is very often a big issue for indigenous people. They
get their land taken away from them and have trouble getting it back." 

It took more than two decades for the declaration to be drafted and adopted. While the document recognizes the problems faced by native peoples, the United Nations says many states continue to systematically violate their human rights. 

The U.N. refugee agency highlighted the situation of native peoples in Colombia. The country harbors around one million people belonging to more than 80 different Indian-American groups with over 60 separate languages.

Nearly all of these groups have been victims of forced displacement or are threatened by it as a result of the internal armed conflict in Colombia, said a spokesman for the refugee agency.

According to the country's national indigenous association, 18 of the smaller native groups are at risk of disappearing altogether. Every year, an average of 10,000 to 20,000 indigenous people are registered by national authorities after being forced to flee their lands, said the spokesman 


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A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


Newspages

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


Classifieds

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.


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


Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.


Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.


Light bending materials
hold promise of invisibility

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

For years, science fiction writers have imagined cloaking devices that could make objects or people invisible. While invisibility cloaks are still a fantasy, scientists have developed the optical materials that could some day make the illusion a reality.

Scientists have developed materials that can reverse the direction of visible light. Called meta-materials, scientists say the three-dimensional materials could one day bend light to create an illusion of invisibility, a phenomenon they call negative refraction.

In two papers published this week in the journals Science and Nature, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, describe the development of the meta-materials. 

They create the effect of invisibility by bending light back and forth and around objects, eliminating shadows and reflecting back no light so the objects cannot be seen. 

Xiang Zhang is a professor of mechanical engineering and lead author of the papers.

Zhang likens the effect of completely bending light around an object to make it invisible to water channeled by a rock in a stream.

When they pass this object, the light rays can actually be bended around an object, then re-emerged after this object, he said. So, for observers downstream, they won't see any shadows of the object. So, people cannot see the object and that's how it makes the object invisible, he said.

Negative refraction can also create some interesting optical illusions. 

As an example, scientists say fish in an aquarium normally appear closer to the top of the tank than they are. With negative refraction, the fish on the bottom of the aquarium appear to be floating above it.

But the ability to bend light backward could lead to more useful important applications, according to Zhang. 

Zhang says negative refraction could result in something he calls a super lens powerful enough to view miniscule DNA molecules and the tiniest live viruses.

We can use that to see how the tiny, tiny biological machines work inside of cells," he said. "And how to understand, for example, how cancer develops and how disease develops."

Zhang also envisions more mundane but practical applications to the light-bending technology. He says negative refraction will make it possible to develop even smaller computer chips and higher density DVDs that store hundreds, or perhaps thousands of movies on a single disc.


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