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These stories were published Friday, Aug.19, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 164
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New taxi rates are a shock to passengers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans got their first taste of higher taxi fares Thursday, and some rides have increased from 60 to 86 percent, depending on the distance.

Although taxi drivers may think they are getting compensated for years of underpayment, basic economics suggests that the number of customers will decline and some taxi drivers will have trouble surviving.

See Jo Stuart's opinion HERE!

Taxi trips are a luxury for most Costa Ricans. Pay day usually prompts a taxi rush. Otherwise many Ticos take the bus or drive.

The hikes are prompted by increases in fuel and other vehicle expenses. Before the new increases, taxi drivers really had not had a real raise for years when the fares were corrected for inflation.

The sticker shock is not over yet. Another hike in taxi fares is planned for Nov. 15.

In urban areas, the charge for the first kilometer went from the current 285 colons to 310 colons. Then the second increase will be to 330. That will represent a total increase of 45 colons or 15.8 percent, according to the Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Público.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
310 colons is the inital rate now
  
However, the rate for subsequent kilometers or parts thereof will level out at about 87 percent. The rate was 160 colons a kilometer. The rate now is 230. Nov. 15 the rate will go to 300 for a total increase of 140 colons.

Because of the way the rate hike is structured, the longer the taxi ride the higher the percent of increase. The rates are programed into the taxi meter or maría required in each public taxi.

The rate increase may be a typical Costa Rican's first taste of real inflation, and taxi drivers will learn the meaning of diminishing returns as fewer passengers use their services.


Agricultural pesticide traces found in Caribbean groundwater
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A study on the Atlantic coast confirmed that the ground water in the region is polluted by herbicides and insecticides, said a report by the Heredia-based Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica.

The report follows up on research conducted in 1991 by the Instituto Regional de Estudios en Sustancias Tóxicas. That sudy indicated the presence of insecticides in the water in the northern Atlantic region of the country and also the Valle de la Estrella near Talamanca.  These results, coupled with findings in similar places in other parts of the world, caused researchers Luisa Castillo and Clemens Ruepert of the Institute to conduct a study to update the 14-year-old results.

The project started in 2001 by locating pineapple and banana farms in key geographic areas that used insecticides intensively, the report said.  Researchers then drew water from 400 wells in those area to determine which ground water was most likely to be contaminated.  That research also started in 2001 and continued for the next three years. 

“The first obstacle was convincing the banana growers to let us take samples from their wells,” said Ruepert.  “However, they
 eventually also let us sample rural aqueducts on their property, something we hadn't originally thought of doing.”

Researchers were able to find the presence of insecticides in 19 percent of the samples they took, the report said.  The most revelations of those was the herbicide bromacil in concentrations of 20 milligrams per liter. 

The highest concentration one can safely consume is 90 milligrams per liter according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the report, bromacil has been outlawed in much of Europe.  In Belize, only citrus farmers may use the chemical. 

Researchers say that these findings mean that pollution by insecticides is rising and although the levels are not yet dangerous, people must remember that some plantations in the region are only 3 to 5 years old. 
  
Organizations supporting the research were the Laboratorio Nacional de Aguas del Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the U. S. Geological Survey,  the University of Florida, the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica and La Fundación Costa Rica – Estados Unidos para la Cooperación as well as many pineapple and banana growers, the report said.   



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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 19, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 164

 
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A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
New officers line up for diplomas

90 new police officers
graduate and join ranks


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The 22nd graduating class of the Escuela Nacional de Policía yielded 90 officers Thursday. The graduation ceremony was in the Plaza de la Cultura in downtown.

The 12-month courses prepared students by teaching them crowd control, how to use a firearm and cartography among other subjects, said the release.

The head of the Fuerza Pública in San José, Edward Gúzman, had said in late July that 120 students were enrolled, but apparently only two-thirds of them graduated.  Of the graduating students, 21 are trained as commanding officers, a release said. 

Of the 90 students, 16 were women.  Officials believe women are becoming more interested in police work.  Last year's class had two less.  A total of 3,684 students have graduated from the academy during its existence.  Of those, 471 were women, said the release. 
  
Officials said that entering the academy is becoming more difficult.  Prerequisites now include a high school diploma.  Members of this class are the first in the academy's history to all be high-school graduates. 

The curriculum of the school includes 28 subjects and supervised participation in the real-life patrols of the Fuerza Pública, particularly the new year's celebration. Students at the school were among the officers assigned to provide protection to pilgrims during the homage to the Virgen de los Angeles in late July and early August.

The top three graduates were 27-year-old Renzo Alvarez Ugalde from Ciudad Neilly, 26-year-old Jorge Max Zúñiga Vargas from San Marcos de Tarrazú and 24-year-old Oscar Fuentes Padilla from San Ignacio de Acosta.   

Growth in population
nearly all in Third World


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Demographers say India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia and Bangladesh will account for close to a half of the people born in the next 45 years.

Joseph Chamie, director of research, Center of Migration Studies in New York, says the developing regions will account for about a half of the population growth in the first half of the 21st century.

“By far India is the leader, which gives about a fifth of all the world’s growth today,” said Chamie,  who served as director of the United Nations Population Division for 25 years.

“The world is growing at 76 million people every year now and India contributes about a fifth of that. That’s followed by China, which is about 10 percent and Pakistan at 4 percent; Nigeria, Indonesia and Bangladesh, each at around 4 percent.”

By contrast, some 50 countries will see a decline in population, says Chamie. The Russian Federation is expected to lose the most in absolute numbers: about 31 million people, followed by Ukraine, which could lose 20 million, and Japan 16 million. Ukraine’s decline is especially noteworthy because it translates into a loss of 43 percent of its population, compared to 22 percent for the Russian Federation.

Overall, the world’s population is still growing.  But demographers say the growth rate is slowing.  This is in contrast with the beginning of the 20th century when growth rates accelerated, reaching a peak in the 1970s.

William Butz, president of the Washington, D.C.,-based Population Reference Bureau said that since the 1970s, people in almost every corner of the world have had fewer children.  He said that 65 countries, which account for 43 percent of the world’s population, now have fertility rates at the replacement level, which is two children per couple on average.

“Principally it is because their desired fertility has gone down and they have the means to control their fertility. On the point of desired fertility, it’s because of education of women. It’s because of higher incomes, because of cultural norms shifting to smaller families. And on the side of the ability to control fertility, it’s the increasing accessibility and availability of modern family planning methods,” says Butz.

But some analysts note that these methods are often unavailable to the poor.  Jay Keller, national field director of the private non-profit group Population Connection, also in Washington, says unlimited population growth puts a strain on the already scarce resources in many developing countries.

Keller notes that people are moving to urban areas, creating megacities, such as Tokyo, Shanghai, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, that often threaten the environment and strain resources. 

Gas has gone up again

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

That swooosh sound you heard over night was the price of regular gasoline going up 30 colons more. This is a continual event thanks to the increases in the world petroleum price.

The government's Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo imports and sells fuel, including gasoline, diesel and natural gas. This increase prompted a run on gasoline stations Thursday by motorists who hoped to fill their tanks before the increase. Super went up 40 colons (about 8 U.S. cents ) per liter. Diesel went up 15 colons.

Professional Directory
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.

Real estate agents and services

MARGARET SOHN
formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American
Chamber of Commerce

samargo@gmail.com
samargo@racsa.co.cr
www.realtorcostarica.com
(506) 291-2825 & (506) 291-2826
fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell
1321-11/23/05

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Selling? Buying? We can do it!
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Beachfront, Views, Mountains, Lots, Farms, Beaches, Houses, Condos. Hotels, Restaurants, Projects, Commercial, Investments
www.c21jaco.com
643-3356
Info@c21jaco.com

First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
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  Title Guarantees
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Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at amcr@firstcr.com

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.

www.firstcr.com
1334-11/25/05

Accountants

James Brohl C.P.A, M.B.A

U.S. Income Tax 
U.S. GAAP Accounting, 
Business Consulting
Providing U.S. Tax return preparation including back reporting and all other filing issues, accounting services 
and business consulting.

Telephone 305-3149 or 256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@racsa.co.cr

Dentists

Williams Dental & Associates
Integral dentistry
Dr. John Williams
•  General dentistry 
•  Endodontics
•  Oral rehabilitation
•  Prosthodontics
•  Periodontics
•  Dental prevention
•  Maxillofacial surgery implants

Guachipelín, Escazú228-2914/289-9809

e-mail:
jwdental@amnet.co.cr
www.jwdentalcostarica.com
U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol

Legal services

KEARNEY-LAWSON & Asoc.
Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorney at Law
Villalobos and Savings Unlimited Collections
*Investments  *Corporations *Tax Shelters
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
    *Immigration  *Intellectual Property
*Business procedures  *Family and Labor Law
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        Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 841-0007
attorneykearney@yahoo.com
http://attorneykearney.com
1299-11/9/05

Adolfo Rojas Breedy
Breedy Abogados S.A.
Attorneys-at-Law
Since 1957. Best experience in: 
• Real Estate Transfer of Title and Title Search
•  Business       •  Investments 
•  Commercial & Civil Litigation
•  Corporate Law & finance
•  Capital markets Law
•  International Taxation
(506) 233-7203/221-0230   breedy@racsa.co.cr
Web page:  www.breedy.com
902-9/14/05

Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados
Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 218-0829                Cell 365-3088
E-mail: legalxpt@racsa.co.cr
www.forovial.com
  • real estate law  
•  due dilligence 

•  criminal & constitutional law
 
• Purchase and sale agreements
 
• Purchase option agreements
 
• title guarantee, • fraud protection
 
•  Constitution of condominiums
 
• Property Management
 
• Notary public services in general

Offices in San José and
Jacó Beach  (25 meters north of Banco Popular, below the Fiscalia).
Authorized Representative
Stewart Title Attorney Referral System

229-8/9/0




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The frog in a pot of boiling water has relevance now
Lately I have been thinking a lot about that frog in the pan of slowly heating water.  Drivers seem to be responding to the rising gas prices just like that frog.  We are going to be in financial hot water before we start making loud protests or somebody does something about it.  Or maybe there is nothing to be done. 

I keep hearing that it is consumption that is causing this problem — the people in the U.S. are driving their SUV’s as much or more than ever, and now China and India are demanding gas.  Then I heard that consumption has actually gone up just 2 percent while some profits have gone up 50 percent. A familiar appeasement lately has been comparing the current price of gas to the price in 1981. We are not paying as much now, once it is adjusted for inflation, we are told. The clever newspeople who have figured this out don’t say whether or not working class incomes have kept up with inflation.

Here in Costa Rica the taxi drivers are finally getting a hike in their fares, and I have heard the rumor that each kilometer may cost as much as 300 colons. The taxistas certainly deserve it.  The big problem is that some of them are afraid that people will cut back on their use of taxis.  (People haven’t cut back on the use of their own cars, so maybe this fear is unfounded). 

Although I have been told it is not the custom to tip cab drivers here, I have in the past year or so, been more generous with my tips because of the rise in the cost of gas.  However, I know that I will be more prudent about taking taxis in the future And I know I won’t be tipping as generously.   (As I write this, I wonder if I will actually go on as usual, just as others with cars have.)  I still recall a two-mile trip I took in San Jose, California, about eight years ago.  The taxi fare was $10!  Not long ago I could go from San Jose to Ciudad Colón for $10. 
 
 But it is fortunate that I am moving right now because where I currently live I take taxis much more
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

 frequently than I used to.  My new address is not only four blocks closer to a bus stop, it is on level ground, and when I get home I step into an elevator instead of having to climbing two flights of stairs.  Even in the rainy season I should be able to walk. 

Meanwhile, I am in the middle of the chaos of moving.  There are half-filled boxes of stuff in every room.  What started out as very organized is now total confusion.  I have begun to top off the boxes with whatever will fit, so that a box labeled “Books – Bedroom #2” contains kitchen utensils and towels, too.

How did I acquire so much stuff? I am beginning to wonder if I have been that frog over the years, acquiring stuff slowly but steadily, hardly realizing it until I am inundated with it. And I don’t even remember some of the stuff I have until I have to find a place for it in a box.  And to make matters worse, the stuff I never use (and forgot I had) is usually on the top of the boxes.  All of this is being done to the background cacophony of pounding, tapping and buzzing and scraping.

At the moment I wish I had the jumping ability of a frog so that I could jump over the boxes.  I can barely move in this place.  And I am doing what I have always done during a move — thinking, Oh, well, I’ll just pack it and throw it out when I get to my new place.  Fat chance. 

Because just as frogs can’t seem to learn not to jump into pots of water, tigers don’t change their stripes. And I need to get out of this zoo before I go completely over the edge. 



Cuban restaurant calls up images of the past
La Guagua is a charming Cuban restaurant in the back, right corner of Plaza Itskazu. The walls are covered with oversized 50-year-old Cuban travel posters and tropical caricatures. A video monitor shows street scenes from old Havana replete with vintage autos, matching the ones in the posters. I went there on a quest to eat old clothes. Yes, I said old clothes, ropas viejas in Spanish.
 
My first two exposures to Cuban food, or what I thought was Cuban food, came when I was a teenager, going to high school in New York, and working in a Times Square arcade until the wee hours of the morning during vacations. The perks were a free hour for dining every night in midtown Manhattan and money in my pocket.

I tried every strange cuisine I could find. One of my favorite haunts was Casa Cubana, a tiny storefront in Hell’s Kitchen that I learned much later was really Puerto Rican-owned and run with two Puerto Rican cooks. A half century later I remember just three dishes: chili con carne with raw onions, corn chips and shredded yellow cheese; black bean soup loaded with garlic and a scrumptious stew of tomatoes, onions, green bells, my first ever diced red chili peppers and shredded beef that melted in my mouth.

It was called old  clothes, since the meat was first simmered for hours, cooled in its juices, then  shredded by hand like old rags and re-cooked before serving. The flavors as I  remember them were oregano, bay leaf, garlic and parsley. I loved it.
 
The other Cuban food exposure began with fresh-baked Italian bread, which Carlos assured was exactly like the bread mom baked in Cuba. When our workplace stayed full of patrons beyond our usual 3 a.m. closing, we stayed open until they thinned out, occasionally until 4 or 4:30 in the morning. When we did, I walked to Carlos’ house with him for toast and coffee, Cuban breakfast fare, before the subway ride to the Bronx.

His mother left a pot of black mud coffee on the stove if he were not home by four, already sweetened with enough sugar to make a batch of cookies and also a little salt. It was diluted with about a third the volume of condensed milk. It was still liquid, but barely. We slathered the bread with butter, and then toasted it crisp and dark in the oven.

Ultimately, we broke off chunks and dunked them like donuts in the coffee, leaving a ring of melted butter around the lip of the cup. Despite what it sounds like, the bitter sweet jolt of caffeine and sugar with soggy toast was pleasant tasting at dawn, and it activated all the nerve endings in my body.
I remained awake and vigilant for the safer subway ride home.
 
Exposure No. 3 came in upscale New York and Miami restaurants featuring nuevo Latino cuisine, based in Cuban tradition but far more eclectic and international. Aside from marinades and sauces rich in citrus and/or tropical fruits and the liberal use of plantains and yucca, it would be hard to identify as even a Cuban first cousin.
 
My fourth and final exposure prior to La Guagua came in the Mission District of San Francisco where I was introduced to Cubanos, toasted and flattened sandwiches on the same soft centered crusty bread that I remembered from Carlos’ house. The sandwiches were made with a generous mustard and butter or mayo layer, sliced roast-pork, sliced honey flavored ham, yellow cheese and sliced pickle. They
Dr. Lenny Karpman

On 
the 
food
we eat

 

were toasted on a griddle on both sides under the weight of a cast iron frying pan. Nearly as popular were pan con bistec, steak sandwiches topped with onion slices and fried potato sticks.

So what did we find at La Guagua? Ropa vieja, old cloth (¢3,800), Cubanos, the typical Cuban toasted sandwich with butter rather than mayo (¢3,900), pan con bistec (¢3,200), café Cubano, sweetened espresso (¢700) and so much more.
 
We began with complimentary mariquitas, the lengthwise thinly cut plantain strips served from Havana to Limón. A classic mojito came with them for dipping. The small mojo was citrus, water and diced garlic and onion, a little too diluted for my taste.
 
Appetizer choices included small toasts topped with melted mozzarella cheese, alone or in combination with shredded chicken or pork (¢3,450-3,650); battered and deep fried croquettes filled either with ham or a pork and beef combination on a béchamel base (¢1,500-1,800); small chicken or beef empanadas (¢950); battered and fried mashed potatoes stuffed with ground meat and Cuban style corn tamales. In addition there were a few soups and salads (¢1,900-2,900).
 
Ropa vieja, my first main course at La Guagua, was exactly as advertised, but without the hot chili peppers that I remembered from the Puerto Rican version. In fact, Cuban food is usually as tame as Tico food. A Cuban friend thought it was great.

On that visit and two subsequent trips, my compatriots and I tried levoncita, pork marinated in Seville orange juice and herbs, fried and shredded, pretty good according to Tom (¢4,199); Joan enjoyed her pechuga de pollo La Guagua (¢4,650), a nicely done chicken breast that came with mashed avocado, a fairly good pineapple mojo and caramelized onions which I disliked because they were overpowered by strong vinegar.

The fresh oregano mojo on the menu was missing in action. Marty liked his vaca frita, skirt steak first pan fried, then simmered in its juices and served covered with onions (¢3,800). Jean had sea-bass filet in a green sauce (¢4,850) that she liked but thought was a little overcooked. I had roasted pork leg with an ordinary barbecue sauce (¢4,850) my vegetables, advertised as escabeche, were not pickled or crunchy and were seriously overcooked. They were one of the several side dishes from which the diner gets to pick three with each main course.
 
They also offer several nice desserts and a children’s menu. People more familiar with Cuban cuisine than I am seem to appreciate this restaurant more than I do. Therefore I shall give them the benefit of the doubt and award a range from ** to ***. $$-$$$$    288-5112.






London police accused of lying over shooting death
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Lawyers for the family of a Brazilian man mistaken for a suspected terrorist and killed by London police say the original version of events is peppered with lies, leading to suspicion of a cover up.

Lawyers representing the family of Jean Charles de Menezes have met with an independent commission probing the police killing of the Brazilian electrician, who was shot seven times in the head on a London subway train July 22.

At the time, London was on high alert because four prime suspects were at large after planting dud bombs on the city's transit system the day before.  Only two weeks earlier, a string of terrorist bombings had killed 56 people.

Witnesses to the de Menezes shooting were widely quoted as saying he had been running from police and had been wearing an unseasonably heavy coat that could have hidden a bomb.

Police Commissioner Ian Blair had said de Menezes had refused to stop when police challenged him.
But British television network ITV says evidence leaked from the independent investigation appears to contradict initial accounts of the shooting.
The chief lawyer for the family, Gareth Peirce, says police credibility has been battered.

"There are lies that have been told and lies that have been allowed to remain uncorrected," she said.  "It was said that this man was linked to a bombing incident and suspected bombers. 

"He was not ever linked.  It was said he was wearing a bulky jacket.  He was not.  It was said that he ran and therefore caused suspicion.  He did not run."

Ms. Peirce says the case has been badly handled from the start, only adding to the suspicions of a cover up.

"There has been a chaotic mess," she added.  "How much of it is incompetence and negligence, including gross negligence, and how much of it may be something more sinister?  We do not know."

In a related development, London police confirm that on the day of the de Menezes killing Police Chief Blair asked the Home Office to delay the independent investigation.  He argued the ongoing terrorist investigation should take precedence.

The Blair request was accepted, and the investigation began three days later, instead of immediately, as it would have under normal circumstances.


Flight operations stopped for West Caribbean Airlines due to fatal crash
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Colombian government says it has halted operations of West Caribbean Airways, the airline whose plane crashed in Venezuela Tuesday, killing all 160 people on board.

The Colombian airline was the subject of numerous safety complaints even before the crash, which is among the worst in Venezuela's history.

West Caribbean Airways had already halted all flights
before the official suspension was announced.

The airline, which was set up to offer low-fare service, has reportedly been suffering from financial difficulties.

The investigation into what caused Tuesday's crash continues, with French experts heading to Venezuela to help examine the plane's two flight data recorders.

The crash killed 152 French citizens from Martinique and eight Colombian crewmembers.


IRA operatives involved with rebels in Colombia turn and surrender
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

Three suspected members of the Irish Republican Army accused by Colombia of training Marxist rebels have surrendered to Irish police after eight months on the run.

In a statement Thursday, police said they are interrogating James Monaghan, Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly in Dublin.

The three disappeared from Colombia last year during an appeal of their acquittal on charges of
training members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country's main rebel group. The three men said they were innocent. Colombia said they were bomb experts.

A higher court sentenced the men to 17 years in prison in their absence last December. They turned up in Ireland earlier this month.

Colombia has demanded the Irishmen's return even though it does not have an extradition treaty with Dublin. Ireland says it is considering several possibilities.


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