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(506) 2223-1327               Published Friday, Aug. 20, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 164     E-mail us
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Nation is the star in world disarmament campaign
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country is the star in a disarmament campaign capitalizing on the 60-year-long absence of a military. And the campaign has a promotional dimension, too, as up to 14 million persons are invited to become virtual citizens.

The campaign also seeks to arrange person-to person exchanges between Ticos and individuals elsewhere on the topic of living in a country without an army.

The goals of the campaign are elimination of nuclear weapons, world disarmament and a reduction of 10 percent in the military budget by countries of the world.

The campaign is funded by the Red Global Juvenil de Religiones por la Paz and the Fundación Arias para la Paz y el Progreso Humano de Costa Rica. The concept is by JWT de Costa Rica, an arm of the international advertising and public relations agency.

The campaign had its start last month, but the Web site that seeks to unite peoples only went up two weeks ago.

The project has the support of Óscar Arias Sánchez and of Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations.

The reduction in the military budget is a long-standing project by Arias, who left the presidency May 8. The savings generated by reduction of military budgets would guarantee that the U.N. millennium development goals could be reached by 2015, according to the campaign organizers.

The project hopes to obtain 14 million electronic signatures from persons around the world, JWT cites Arias as saying. The Web site said that 5,002 persons already have signed in support of the goals.

JWT said it hopes to gather the millions of signatures by Nov. 16 so that a document bearing the name can be presented to the United Nations.

"Be part of Costa Rica, a country with no army,"
campaign logo
Campaign logo

the Web site says. The site contains a page with what is called a Costa Rican passport where visitors can put their names and even a photo. Visitors to the page can then see photos of others who support the message.  There also is a Facebook page.

Those living in Costa Rica are invited to become spokespersons for the country. The Web site is in Spanish and English.

Only the Asamblea Legislativa can award honorary citizenship, so being a virtual citizen has no legal meaning. But foreigners who visit the page are introduced to the country's provinces and can download information on tourist sites.

José Figueres Ferrer abolished the army when he was president of a ruling junta after the 1948 civil war. Although the act as been immortalized as a vote for peace, Figueres had just defeated the national army in the war and feared a countercoup, historians say. Costa Rica maintains a 20,000-member police force, although it does not have heavy weaponry.

JWT, headquartered in New York, is the world's fourth largest advertising agency and was known as J. Walter Thompson until five years ago.

Opposing military spending has been a constant with Arias. "No one ever killed poverty with a bullet," said Arias in a September speech. He noted that Latin America spends $60 billion each year on the military.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 164

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


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First grader's weapon
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
This is the weapon found with a 7-year-old student

Pistol-packing first grader
carried ammunition, too

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It was not even show-and-tell day at the Escuela María Leal de Santa Cruz, but a 7 year old brought a .22-caliber pistol to first grade class anyway.

The weapon was one of eight confiscated in the last three days by Fuerza Pública officers. Others belonged to hunters and suspected robbers.

A teacher found the the battered .22 pistol with bullets in the chambers when she searched the student's backpack. The child's grandmother, when summoned to the school denied that the weapon belonged to anyone in the family, the Fuerza Pública said.

Henry Quesada, regional chief of the Fuerza Pública in Santa Cruz, said that officers have been giving instructions to teachers on how to handle students they find armed in class. For this reason, the teacher of the 7 year old was prepared for the situation, he said.


Agents grab collection
of archaeological pieces


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Judicial Investigating Organization working with Museo Nacional officials confiscated a collection of more than 100 archaeological pieces from the home of a family in San Pedro. The pieces ranged from ceramics to stone carvings.

The judicial agents identified the family by the last names of  Dada Fumero. They said that they had received an anonymous complaint.  A museum official said that the family already had been negotiating to surrender the pieces. Also included were one or more stone spheres.

Participating in the seizure was the Departamento de Protección del Patrimonio Cultural. The home is occupied by the aunt of the director of the museum, Patricia Fumero. The bulk of the collection is from Guanacaste.

July 23 prosecutors in Heredia and judicial agents confiscated 108 archaeological pieces from a property in San Rafael de Heredia. The pieces included 14 stone spheres, some of them engraved, that had to be removed with a flatbed trailer.


Western Union Foundation
awards four grants here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Western Union Foundation has awarded four grants to Costa Rican organizations as part of a program that will provide more than 50 grants around the world. The total is about $2 million.

The foundation is giving a grant to CINDE, the Costa Rican investment promotion agency, to support English language learning for technical high school students from low-income families.

A donation to Fundeser will support a program that helps immigrant children stay in school and lower drop-out rates.

Boy With A Ball will use its foundation grant to provide university scholarships to Nicaraguan immigrants.

A grant to Fundación Rahab will provide more vocational training opportunities to Costa Rican women who have been in the sex trade.

In addition to financial support, many of these organizations will benefit from volunteer support from Western Union employees based in Costa Rica, the foundation said.


Japan presents programs

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government of Japan has given 793 radio and television programs to the Sistema Nacional de Radio y Televisión Cultural.

The programs are mainly cultural, educational or related to the environment, science or technology. There are both adult and children's shows. The television programs will be shown mainly on the system's Channel 13.
 
Hidekazu Yamaguchi, the Japanese ambassador, participated in the presentation Thursday at the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

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A.M. Costa Rica 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 weekday.

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.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

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.


For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
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News of Cuba
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 164

Democratic voting campaign

La Amistad martini bar
Historia1920 cafe

Costa Rican adventure race team that will participate next week practices by coming down the front of the main building of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad in Sabana Norte.
Adventure team practices
Instituto Costarricense de Turismo photo

Country hosts coast-to-coast adventure race starting Monday
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Adventure racers from different countries will travel to Costa Rica next week for the first edition of the Costa Rica Adventure Race.

The starting time is Monday at 7 a.m. Teams will begin in Sarapiquí. The four-person teams, both men and women,  will race across 550 km of forest, beach, rivers, mountains and through rural communities, guided only by maps and a compass. That is about 340 miles.

After they start in Sarapiquí they will pass through La Fortuna, Monteverde to Guanacaste, said the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.

There are 18 teams signed up as of Thursday. They come from France, the United States, Canada, Spain, Finland, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil.

The best competitors will sacrifice many hours of sleep for five days, trying to beat the clock, on a non-stop journey toward the Pacific Coast, said organizers on a Web site.
Several different stages will wave them through, including rafting, mountain biking, trekking, ropes, kayaking and canopy.

The route, which remains a secret, promises a variety of scenery, vegetation and climate that goes from a tropical rain forest to the cloudy heights of the country. The winning team will earn the right to compete against 60 other teams in Spain in October for the Adventure Race World Championship in Bimbache, organizers said.

More than just great scenery for a challenging race, Costa Rica has played its part before in Adventure Race history, like earning the “Spirit Award” at Borneo Eco-Challenge in Malaysia. Other national teams have also participated in Fiji, Mexico, Ecuador, United States, Nicaragua, Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Portugal.

So the Costa Rican race continues to play its role as the first of a series of 3 races to be held again in the following consecutive years. The goal is to host the 2013 Adventure Race World Championship in Costa Rica.The tourism institute is helping to sponsor the event.


Residency card is equally useful for a golden citizen
First, some clarification on the subject of ciudadanos de oros.  It seems there are many people over 65 who have become residents and would like to make use of the advantages of being a “golden citizen.”  Since I wrote about the subject last week, I have been getting conflicting information (not difficult to do in Costa Rica).  I have heard that the Caja is no longer giving out the actual gold card, that all you have to do is show your carnet and the date of birth on it will suffice to prove you are a senior.  Others have told me that they have recently picked up their ciudadano de oro -- but that they had applied for it some time ago. 

My own experience is that I use my residency carnet on the bus. It gets registered and is handed back to me. If the drivers tells you to move along while he tries to get the machine to work, make sure you get your card before you disembark.  Sometimes it seems as if other passengers are more concerned about my card than I am.  But I certainly don’t want to lose it. It is not cheap nor is it simple to replace it.

Even at the museum, I simply showed my carnet, hoping to get the resident’s entrance fee. Once the gatekeeper looked closely (at my carnet, not at me), l was told there was no charge. So again, my carnet alone sufficed.  I am sure that works at cines, too.

I have found that in drugstores and others stores that offer discounts to seniors, they often want to know if you are paying with cash (efectivo) rather than by credit card.  Your discount may depend upon that.

And don’t forget to register with the Caja for your aseguro voluntario.  It is now required by law that all residents must have national health insurance coverage.  The amount you pay each month depends upon your income.  If you are a pensionado, it may be assumed your
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

income is $1,000 a month and you will be charged
accordingly.  Or you may have to show your social security check or the source of some guaranteed income. If you do these tramites (bureaucratic procedures) on your own, all it takes is time and patience.  And some Spanish.  Some private hospitals give discounts to seniors. Always ask.

I don’t mean to take this column to its logical conclusion, but recently the husband of a friend of mine died. For most of us, when we lose someone we love and are left with the arrangements, it can be both confusing and upsetting.

She knew her husband’s wishes were to be cremated, but she had had no experience to tell her how to go about it.  She contacted the Jardines de Recuerdo Funeral Home in Heredia (there is also one in San José close to the Colegio Don Bosco and Theater Sala Garbo. 

My friend said that they managed everything beautifully and efficiently, including getting copies of the coroner’s report and taking care of all details.  They did everything with that special gentleness and kindness that Ticos are known for.  Their concern for her made the whole process much easier than she had expected.  The total cost was $1,600.

In recent months the cost of living has gone up, and life is not as simple as it once was, but the cost of dying seems quite reasonable and we can go gentle into that good night.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 164

Escazú Christian Fellowship
xx
Guoadalupe Missionary Baptist Church


Defensoría seeks special consideration for illegal travelers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Defensoría de los Habitantes wants the country to pay special attention to illegal immigrants along the southern border even to the extent of helping them make their stay in Costa Rica legal.

The ombudsmann agency said Thursday that after a meeting in Ciudad Neilly, the conditions of those coming into the country illegally there were studied. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees said that many of the illegal immigrants come from Asian and Africa and that the principal obstacle they face is language as well as customs and religious beliefs.

The Defensoría said that Costa Rican immigration officials should recognize the complexity of the situation in the area and take steps to provide information to these immigrants.
The information should include a listing of their rights and obligations as well as of the immigration processes that would allow them to be legal. They also should be provided information so they can continue to their destination or return to their own country.

Most of the Asian and African illegal immigrants are transients who seek to sneak into the United States or Canada. Traffickers provide them transportation to the Americas but sometimes they leave them to make their own way north. Many travel to Colombia and then by ship to Panamá or Costa Rica.

U.N. officials will be providing a more detailed report to immigration officials soon, the Defensoría said.

Costa Rica has porous borders that are easily breached by illegal travelers.



Pretoma: Ecuadorian case is new evidence of shark finning

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An ocean environmental group says that the seizure of a Costa Rican fishing boat in Ecuador provides additional proof that shark finning is continuing.

The organization, Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, known as Pretoma, said that Ecuadorian police found 75 sharks with the fins removed.

The boat, the Rosa, was found fishing illegally in the Reserva Marina de las Islas Galapagos. Costa Rican fishing law states that all sharks must be landed with their fins naturally attached to their bodies, the organization said.  Since the boat is Costa Rican, it’s logical to assume that it will eventually land its cargo in Puntarenas, it added. 

Costa Rica’s fisheries Institute, the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura, known as Incopesca, assures that it inspects 100 percent of fisheries landings as a way to  prevent shark finning from happening in this country, the organization said, asking:  But how effective is the system of inspection?
Shark fins bring a high price by exporters to the Orient. The shark carcass is just waste, and many fishermen just drop the de-finned shark back into the water to die.

Said Pretoma: Shark finning happens day in and day out in Costa Rica.  Quite simply, Incopesca lacks the initiative to enforce the law. 

In fact, fisheries inspectors do not even have the authority to implement fishing regulations as they must first ask permission from the private dock owners before performing their inspections, Protoma said.

In another case, in 2008, sacks of shark fins were found aboard the Kendy and the Franju III after they were spotted illegally fishing in the Cocos Island park’s marine protected area, said the organization.  When the two boats arrived in Puntarenas the fins were no longer onboard. 

As the law only stipulates that fins be attached to the shark’s body when they are landed, and it does not prohibit the transportation of fins separated from bodies, no legal action was taken, said the organization.


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A.M.
Costa Rica
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For your international reading pleasure:

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News of Cuba      News of Venezuela
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News of Panamá
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News of Bolivia     News of Ecuador
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 164

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Socialized food products
cause Venezuelans pains

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Combating malnutrition and making food more affordable are pillars of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's socialist program.  Food prices have soared, however, amid shortages of basic staples, forcing supermarkets to ration goods.

Economists blame price controls and expropriations for plummeting food production, which has led Venezuela to import vast quantities of grains and meat.  The government accuses private companies, though, of hoarding food to inflate prices in pursuit of fatter profits.

No one is starving in Venezuela, but signs limiting purchases of flour, margarine and other staples adorn supermarket shelves, leaving shoppers like Adela Franco frustrated, who said, "You can never find what you need unless you go to several stores."

Another shopper agrees.  "One day there is chicken, but no beef, so you have to buy chicken.  And you find that everything costs a little more than the week before."

The situation is easy to explain, says economist Orlando Ochoa.  "President Chavez's price controls on food, combined with inflation, have seriously distorted agricultural prices and costs, and led farmers to cease production of grains, meat and milk. The end result: Venezuela has been forced to import on a massive scale everything it used to produce domestically."

Chávez insists his policies are not at fault, saying:  "The revolution will continue to produce, like a machine, guaranteeing ample and affordable food for all Venezuelans."

Chávez says scheming capitalists are to blame for food supply disruptions.  "They cut production and sometimes allowed milk to go bad.  Why?  To raise prices.  They played a dirty game to manipulate the market.  But we terminated their game.  The revolutionary government nationalized them and assumed responsibility for dairy production."

To aid the poor, the government has set up a network of state-operated grocery stores, selling goods from nationalized industries at discounted prices. Shoppers like Laura Hernandez go to buy whatever is in stock.

"This store is vital," said Hernadez.  "You can save a lot of money here.  The only problem is that sometimes you cannot find what you need.  Much is lacking: sugar, milk, basic items."

The government-run stores are shunned by well-to-do Venezuelans like Adela Franco.  "I do not trust what they sell there.  I do not know if the food is fresh or of good quality."

But the march towards a socialist food supply continues.  The latest government target for nationalization is Empresas Polar.  The mega-conglomerate produces everything from beverages to the No. 1 brand of flour used to make arepas, pita-like sandwiches that are the mainstay of the Venezuelan diet. It also makes the leading beer brand.

President Chávez recently lashed out at Polar on national television.  "If Polar continues to hoard products, we will have to go after it. We will not allow anyone to swindle us."

Polar executives deny any wrongdoing, saying their production is limited by the dwindling availability of raw foodstuffs in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, shoppers continue to patronize privately-owned supermarkets that may or may not exist in the future.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 164


Latin American news
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Official in northern México
wants more troops sent in


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina has called on Mexican President Felipe Calderón to send additional military troops to his state.

The murder of a mayor by presumed drug traffickers is just the latest in the wave of carnage in northern Mexico.

Three days after Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos was kidnapped from his home in Santiago, in the northern state, Nuevo Leon, his body was found, bound and blindfolded, early Wednesday morning on a highway outside the city.

Fifteen armed men, wearing uniforms of the extinct Federal Judicial Police, abducted the mayor from his home, late Monday night.

At a news conference, Medina expressed his indignation about the killing.

Medina says his government is joining the business community and civil society in their request to President Calderón for a significant increase in the number of military and police agents in the state.

Calderón began his war on organized crime, shortly after taking office in 2006. Since that time, more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence. The president has said repeatedly that 90 percent of the dead are criminals, but few investigations of the killings have been conducted.

Meanwhile, thousands of Mexicans have filed complaints against the army and police for human rights abuses. These allegations range from stealing and torture to rapes and kidnapping.

The American government has supported Calderón's war through Plan Mérida, a $1.4 billion assistance program that began two years ago, under the Bush administration.


Founder of school in Haiti
admits overseas sex charge

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Justice authorities in the northeastern U.S. state of Connecticut say the American founder of a school for street children in Haiti has admitted to engaging in illicit sexual conduct with eight youngsters in that country.

Officials Wednesday said Douglas Perlitz, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.  They say Perlitz made the admission as part of a plea deal.

Officials said that at various times between 2001 and 2008, Perlitz traveled from U.S. airports to Haiti and engaged in sexual conduct with boys who attended Project Pierre Toussaint, a school in Cap-Haitien.

The officials said he abused his position of authority to entice and persuade the minors to comply by providing them with the promise of food, shelter and other benefits that included cash, clothing and other items.

The former Connecticut resident faces a 30-year prison sentence and fine of up to $250,000 when sentenced in December.  He has been in custody since his arrest in the western state of Colorado in September of last year.




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