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(506) 2223-1327                       Publishesd Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 167                          Email us
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A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson


The country is in the midst of a two-week celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture, which climaxes with an awards celebration Tuesday. Among those participating with be the steel band from Trinidad and Tobago The Caribbean All Stars. The band entertained visitors to the downtown Tuesday. The event is sponsored by Limón Roots, a Caribbean magazine.

See story

Isaac has the potential to take a course that would bring indirect hurricane effects to Costa Rica.

tropical storm Isaac
Weather experts keep an eye on Tropical Storm Isaac
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is another trouble spot in the Atlantic that is getting close attention from weather experts here. The weather system, now Tropical Storm Isaac, is still east of the Lesser Antilles, but the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional already issued a cautionary bulletin.

The storm center is at 15.6 degrees north latitude, significantly higher than Costa Rica, and the weather observers hope the storm moves even higher.

AccuWeather, Inc., a private forecasting firm in State College, Pennsylvania, thinks so. The firm issued a press bulletin Tuesday that said the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba were at high risk from torrential rains through the end of the week. The firm also said that Isaac may turn into a hurricane.
The weather institute here noted that Isaac is the ninth named storm in the 2012 hurricane season.
The forecasters at the institute said that the storm was moving west northwest. And that it was too far away to affect the country now.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said the storm was moving just slightly south of due west. That track would bring Isaac firmly into the Caribbean. Movement was estimated at 30 kph or about 19 mph.

There is yet another trouble spot in the Atlantic closer to Africa that is expected to develop into a tropical storm over the next two days, said the hurricane center.

Costa Rica has not suffered from the indirect effects of any Atlantic storm yet this year.

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Drunk-driving deaths
reported lower this year

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In the first half of the year nine fewer persons lost their lives as a result of drinking and driving, according to the Consejo de Seguridad Vial and the traffic police.

There were 22 vehicle deaths linked to alcohol, said the Consejo in a news release. In the first half of 2011 there were 31 deaths, the Consejo said.

The Consejo and its parent Ministerio de Obras Pública y Transportes credited a crackdown on drunk driving as a reason for the decline.

The Consejo noted that under the existing traffic law, drivers with an alcohol content of from .5 to .74 grams of alcohol per liter of blood face a fine of 360,000 colons, about $720. Above that amount, drivers face criminal action and possible prison.

The Consejo said that in the first half of 2012 1,132 drivers were remanded to the Ministerio Público for criminal action because they had a blood alcohol level of more than .75 grams per liter.

U.S. assisting in setup
of anti-corruption unit

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. government has invested $125,000 to help security ministry officials set up a new internal affairs department.

This is the department that looks into internal corruption and other crimes by ministry employees.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública has combined its office of inspector general of the Fuerza Pública with its disciplinary department in the hopes of clearing a staggering backlog of complaints against police officers.

The U.S. Embassy said, quoting La Nación, that there are 2,660 pending complaints against police officers. The degrees of seriousness vary as does the evidence. But the embassy staff and the ministry are counting on electronic measures to expedite the resolution of the cases.

Our reader's opinion
A firearm is as safe
as person handling it

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I want to say how much I enjoyed your article in todays A.M. Costa Rica on learning to shoot in Costa Rica by Kayla Pearson. She either knows a lot about guns or she really did excellent research. Most articles on guns I read in the press are filled with inaccuracies. I really enjoyed the article for that alone. I think the more people who learn to be comfortable around guns and learn how to handle and use them properly the safer the world will be. A gun is as safe as the person handling it.

The more people learn how to shoot, when to shoot and the consequences of shooting the better off we will always be. Again, kudos to A.M. Costa Rica for a well written and informative article.
Bill Pitts
Fort Worth, Texas

Find out what the papers
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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
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 167
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steel drums
A.M. Costa Rica/.Kayla Pearson
'Caribbean All Stars' from Trinidad and Tobago entertain downtown visitors in front of the Teatro Nacional.
Two-week festival celebrates country's Afro-Caribbean culture
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Limón Roots, a Caribbean magazine, will present seven awards to different women in the Afro-Costa Rican community Tuesday.  The different categories vary from sports and education to business and human rights.

"This one is for us," said Haydée Jimeñez, cultural promotor for Limón Roots.

A special, sentimental award will be given out called Abuela.  In the black culture, the woman has been the backbone of the family throughout time, giving love, food and support to the community.  This is an award from the heart to thank and honor a woman's strength, Ms. Jimeñez said.

This event is one of many during the Afro-cultural Limón Roots Festival that started Sasturday.  It aims to promote the revival of values, traditions and customs of Afro-descendants and to promote a greater knowledge of the Costa Rican population on the culture of the black ethnic group of the Costa Rican Caribbean.

The two-week event celebrates the day of the black person, as well as unites African cultures across the Caribbean. Aug. 31 is Dia de la Persona Negra y La Cultura Afrocostarricense, according to Ley 8938.  Under the law schools are authorized to hold commemorative events related to this day.

The law came about in the late 1970s during the administration of President Rodrigo Carazo, as an initiative led by the union of Costa Rican educators.

Passage of the law, coupled with the rescue, the reconstruction and declaration of the Liberty Hall, also called the Black Star Line, in the city of Limón, as a national historical heritage site has strengthened the community's black pride, said the organization.

In 1991, the people in Limón started having festivals.  The parties were an interchange of cultures and looked for a relationship between other African cultures across the world, said Ms. Jimeñez.

All the festivities conclude with the historic parade "Gala Parade" in Puerto Limón Aug. 31.

Also, the Asamblea Legislativa will have a celebration Aug. 29.  Visitors can buy food, artisan crafts, and music. Costa
Rican literary figure Quince Duncan and composer Manuel Monestel will speak, and Calypso artists Walter Furguson and Johnny Dixon as well as Olympic athletes Nery Brenes and Sharolyn Scott will be recognized.

The weeks also seek to render tribute and distinction to persons or groups of people of African descent who have excelled for giving important contributions in different sectors of the world.

One of the featured groups will be the Trinidad and Tobago steel band Caribbean All Stars. Caribbean All Stars is also known as The Graduates and has been together 12 years.  This will be the group's fifth visit to Costa Rica.  In the past the band participated in the Flores de la Diaspora African Festival, said band leader Michael Charles.

"The festival celebrates the achievements of blacks.  The steel drum is the only musical instrument created in the last century and it was created by the black man.  It is only fitting that we come and celebrate," said Charles.

The steel drum is made completely out of recycled products. In Trinidad oil is a staple.  People couldn't afford drums, so residents would take the oil containers and bang the sides with bamboo.  The concept progressed into the steel pan drums of today.

"Some people say it is the best piece of recycling produced." said Charles.

Caribbean All Stars is a single pan band because everyone has his or her own drum to play.  The piece is nicknamed luggage, because when traveling its so small it can be a carryon.  Members arrange most of the music themselves and perform from the pop, calypso, reggae, jazz and sulka genres.

"We interpret the mood of the audience and play.  We give it our spice and mix our own blend.  Also, we try to make a link to the audience so they can understand what we are playing."

The Caribbean All Stars will play at the award show Tuesday along with Something Positive Dance Company of New York, and Groupo Marfil of Costa Rica.  This will be Grupo Marfil's 40th Anniversary.  

The event begins at 7 p.m. in the Teatro Melico Salazar in San Jose's downtown. Admission ranges from 4,000 colons to 15,000 colons depending on the location of the seat. For more information and to see the full schedule of the festival visit

Heredia medical office
drama ends in death

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The latest murder of a woman appears to be the result of a love affair gone wrong, a married professional man not willing to live up to the results of his actions and a confrontation that led to death.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the murder came to light Tuesday when passers-by saw a physician in Heredia dragging the body of a woman through the corridor of his office. That was about 7 a.m. Police came and judicial agents identified the woman as a 23-year-old Nicaraguan citizen. She had the last name of Dávila.

Arrested was the 32-year-old physician. The doctor's office was in Barrio Los Angeles in Heredia not far from the former hospital, and informal reports said that the man shared the office with his wife of four years, a psychologist.

The body went to the Morgue Judicial for a full autopsy, but judicial agents said the woman suffered from a stab wound to the neck. She may have had her throat cut. She also had other injuries. Informal reports suggest that the woman might have been pregnant.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 167
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Guanacaste-Alajuela group to promote biological corridor
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In order to promote and encourage the development of sustainable tourism, merchants around the Corredor
Biológico Lago Arenal Tenorio will set up a new communal chamber.

Currently, there is a local council within the biological corridor that encourages cultural, social, sustainable, ecological, tourist and business projects. The new initiative aims to add to this council, unify quality standards and protect natural resources.

The Corredor Biológico is a strategy to connect the movement and development of species of flora and fauna of tourist interest. The corridor covers more than 14 areas of life and different types of ecosystems, said Germán Aguilar of the regional program of Corredores Biológicos del Área de Conservación Arenal Tempisque.

“The biological corridor is presented as a platform not only for the environmental and cultural management, but also for the management of tourists,” Aguilar said.

According to the biological corridor group, there is a chamber of tourism in the region, but the majority of commercial operators perceive that the chamber does not manage opportunities for training, promotion and financing.

A news release added communal tourism will work to develop these areas that the tourism chamber lacks.

“Such initiatives promote the friendly development with the environment through responsible tourism, but also are associated with the sustainable production, the working with ASADAS and the general, cultural education and environmental management of water resources and will, without a doubt, promote and facilitate the coordination inter-agency and sectoral development of various initiatives,”
said Mario Coto Hidalgo, coordinator of the national program of Corredores Biológicos del Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación. ASADAS means the Asociación Administradora de los Sistemas de Acueductos y Alcantarillado Sanitario, the water and sewer providers.

The natural attractions and rich cultural mix of the area between Guanacaste's Tilarán and Alajuela's San Carlos gives the Corredor Biológico Lago Arenal Tenorio group an advantage to develop tourist activities, organizers said. Currently, there are more than 80 tourism entrepreneurs that offer services for visitors.

Two national landmarks that the Corredor Biológico Lago Arenal Tenorio group will work to conserve, are Tenorio volcano and Lake Arenal.  The organization protects and manages the environment as well as  improves the quality of life of the communities.

Tenorio Volcano is located in the northern region of Costa Rica and is made up of four volcanic peaks and two craters. Tenorio's river, Rio Celeste, draws visitors who come to look at the water turned blue due to the volcano's emissions.

The area also has thermal springs, geysers, waterfalls, lagoons, cloud forests and rain forests.

Lake Arenal is a manmade body of water used as a source for hydroelectricity. It is located near Arenal volcano, which is described as Costa Rica's most active volcano even though visitors can no longer see lava flowing down its sides or find plumes of ash rising from its top.

Tourist attractions of the area are varied, with a comprehensive inventory in which highlighted cultural aspects, infrastructure, activities monthly, annual, religious culture, and private nature reserves. They include rainforest hikes, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hot springs, canyoning and canopy tours.

Some lawmakers balk at letting U.S. ship deliver drug proofs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is another dispute in the legislature over the proposed arrival of a U.S. ship carrying drugs to be used here as evidence.

The “USS Carr” is carrying 4,134 pounds of marijuana that is to be used as evidence against two Costa Ricans and a Nicaraguan who were captured at sea. Foreign military vessels need legislative permission to land in Costa Rica. Even U.S. Coast Guard boats like the “Carr.”
The Partido Liberación Nacional said that negative votes by the minority Partido Acción Ciudadana prevented consideration of the measure Tuesday. The security ministry said that there was about 3,000 kilograms of high potency marijuana that was thrown into the sea during a chase at sea. The ministry said that if the evidence is not produced quickly, the men will go free.

Certain lawmakers routinely oppose visits by U.S. flagged military vessels, even though some have come to Costa Rica for shore leave and the purchase of supplies and fuel. 

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 167
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Swimmer abandons effort
to conquer Florida Straits

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A 62-year-old woman who was trying to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage has abandoned her effort.

Veteran U.S. long distance swimmer Diana Nyad was pulled from the water Tuesday, after battling jellyfish stings and a storm that forced her off course.  Her crew says she was about half-way through the 166-kilometer (103-mile) swim.

Ms. Nyad set out from Havana Saturday in her fourth bid to swim across the Straits of Florida.  She had hoped to arrive in Florida Tuesday, a day before turning 63.

Ms. Nyad had been using a special device that pulses a mild electrical current to help keep sharks at bay.

She attempted the same swimming feat last year, but was forced to abandon her trip after painful jelly fish stings.

Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Nyad walked ashore to the cheer of her supporters at the White Street Pier in Key West. Supporters noted that she swam longer and farther toward Florida from Cuba than she did when she was 28.

Nations need drought policy,
U.S. weather official says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Meteorological Organization warns that climate change is projected to increase the frequency, intensity, and duration of droughts. The U.N. agency said stronger national drought policies are urgently needed to lessen the devastating impacts of this recurring natural disaster.

Several regions of the world are experiencing severe drought. The United States is in the grips of one of the worst in more than a century.

Mannava Sivakumar said one-quarter of the United States is experiencing exceptional drought, devastating crops and livestock. He is the director of the World Meteorological Organization Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch.

“Currently, as of end of June, the United States has faced the longest 12-month period that it has been facing drought in the history of climatic records in the U.S. that go back to 1895," said Sivakumar.

"And, of course one of the major issues is that the forecast for the maize crop is cut by almost 27 percent. That, of course has got a major consequence of the maize exports that the United States carries out to different parts of the world,” Sivakumar added.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports food prices have climbed by 6 percent because of drought, ethanol production and high fuel costs, and are likely to go higher if drought continues.

The International Food Policy Research Institute and the United Nations are calling for the United States to end its bio-fuel program. They said this policy uses 40 percent of U.S. corn output and is creating food shortages and price hikes world wide.

India also is going through a serious drought, with rainfall in 70 percent of the country 70 percent below normal, and the United Nations predicts a profound impact on food production.

Brazil, Mexico, Australia and parts of Europe also are suffering, but data from Africa show drought this year is not as serious as in other parts of the world. 

The World Meteorological Organization and other U.N. agencies are stepping up efforts to develop more coordinated and proactive policies for managing drought risk.

Sivakumar said it is urgent for countries to develop national drought policies that are legally binding. He said only one country, Australia, has a national policy.

“What is the difference between a plan and a policy? Plans and their implementation depend very much upon which political party is in power," said Sivakumar. "Some parties may take the plan very seriously and implement it to the word. Other parties may, say, just put the plan aside and give priority to some other issues that the party feels is important. But, a policy, irrespective of which party is in power, you are bound by what is written in the policy and they are legally bound to implement.”

Sivakumar said governments should first do a vulnerability and impact assessment of a drought disaster, then create a monitoring and early warning system, followed by relief measures once the drought is underway.

The measures, he said, may include government subsidies, tax relief to affected communities, and drought insurance.

Green Climate Fund
meeting to raise money

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Green Climate Fund will hold its first board meeting this week. The eventual goal is to raise billions of dollars to help developing countries adapt to climate change. The Green Climate Fund was officially launched at the 2011 Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

“The long delayed and long awaited first board meeting of the Green Climate Fund is taking place this week in Geneva,” said Brandon Wu, senior policy analyst at ActionAid USA. “The timing really couldn’t be more urgent. In the U.S. alone, we’ve all these stories about droughts and massive crop damage, and rampant wildfires this summer, with concerns over rising food prices, among other things. The effects are even more severe in developing countries where vulnerable small holder farmers don’t have the protection of things that we have here, like crop insurance or social safety nets.”

Wu said while drought may mean higher food prices in the U.S., for some living in poor countries it may mean no meals at all. And then there are floods.

“Just one climate related disaster last year -- the floods in Bangkok – cost 40 billion dollars, according to U.N. estimates. And then of course the human suffering that goes with disasters like those that doesn’t really have a price tag,” he said.

He described the Green Climate Fund as “a channel through which finance can be equitably distributed to developing countries.” Organizers hope to raise $100 billion a year by 2020.

Supporters have said a small tax on financial transactions, for example on Wall Street, could raise billions of dollars.

The Green Climate Fund Board has 24 members with an equal number from developed and developing countries.
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Hotel near Arenal wins
carbon neutrality citation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A hotel near Arenal volcano has been certified as carbon neutral and the business goes even further by removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it produces, according to a press release.

The press release boasts that Rancho Margot is the first hotel to obtain such certification in Costa Rica and the only business or organization to have a documented negative carbon footprint, meaning that a third party has investigated the facilities and found that the hotel is removing carbon dioxide from the air.

That third party is Carbon Clear, a consulting firm based in the United Kingdom that works with businesses to make them more sustainable. It is also one of about 15 primarily-British organizations that issue a certification called BSI PAS 2060 (British Standards Institution's Publicly Available Specification), that organizations can earn if they prove that they are carbon neutral.

This is the same certification that Rancho Margot earned, as well as CoopeDota R.L., a coffee cooperative near Santa María de Dota which became the first organization outside of Europe to be certified, last year.

According to the press release, Rancho Margot achieves carbon neutrality by generating its own hydroelectric power, growing two-thirds of its food and using waste as fertilizer and as an energy source, among other measures.

The hotel overlooks Lake Arenal and Volcan Arenal and sits about midway between Monteverde and La Fortuna. It offers a variety of accommodations, tours, Spanish courses and yoga classes, and patrons can receive discounts on lodging if they volunteer in the hotel's sustainability and maintenance operations.

Measure on coastal rights
advances in legislature

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative committee agreed unanimously Tuesday to pass to the full legislature a measure that is designed to prevent demolitions and evictions in the nation's maritime zone. The bill has the support of Casa Presidencial.

According to the final draft, the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía still can take action in case of environmental danger. In addition, court orders also will be respected.

The bill only will prevent evictions and demolitions for 24 months while officials seek other solutions to the problem of persons and businesses that are located in the country's maritime zone.

The zone is the first 200 meters above mean high tide. The first 50 meters are characterized as public land. The next 150 meters can be occupied by those who have a concession granted by the municipality. Many coastal dwellers live in homes and have businesses that pre-date the maritime law, and some have been demolished.

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