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(506) 2223-1327                     Published Thursday Aug. 23, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 168                          Email us
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Nobel poet see new Caribbean writing style emerging
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nobel-prize winning author Derek Walcott stressed the enduring importance of Afro-Caribbean literature.

Although Walcott is not Costa Rican and writes in English, he is considered one of the best poets in the Caribbean region, and he will be featured alongside some of Costa Rica's greatest writers at the 13th annual international book fair that starts Friday.

He pointed out modern writers in the Caribbean and Latin America who are developing a new style, using their own language and creating a new and unique literary identity for the region.

“Caribbean prose in general is changing, because instead of using Anglo words, Caribbean writers use slang with their own vocabularies, which encourages the reader to understand and poke in prose, in order to understand the real meaning of the words used," he said. "These younger writers are consolidating a Caribbean identity.”

Walcott was born in St. Lucia in 1930 and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992. His most famous works include his epic poem in the style of Homer, “Omeros” and the poem “White Egrets,” for which he won the T.S. Eliot Prize last year.
Derek Walcott
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Derek Walcott

 The book fair will start this Friday and run until Sept. 2 in the Antigua Aduana. Walcott will take part in eight events at the fair every afternoon and evening from Friday until next Tuesday.

Entrance to the fair is 1,000 colons for general admission, 500 colons for seniors and students and free for children.

Cruz Roja official says beach decision came from afar
By Constance W. Foss
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The local president of the Cruz Roja said that rescue personnel were not aggressive in trying to save the life of a surf victim a week ago because officials already had decided that the man was not going to survive.

The local president, a volunteer, is Maycol Morales Pita. He said he was very concerned with what happened Aug. 15 at Punta Uva. He spoke to a reporter at the local headquarters in BriBri. The area is on the Caribbean coast in southeast Costa Rica.

Dead is Oscar Mora Muñoz, 49, who got in trouble while snorkeling. Witnesses complained that the Cruz Roja needed two telephone calls to dispatch an ambulance and that once the ambulance arrived, rescue workers did not approach the victim for some 20 minutes. Local individuals were working to revive the man.

Morales said that the reason why the first ambulance driver wasn't aggressive about lifesaving efforts was because dispatchers and those at the central office had already decided that the man wasn't going to survive. He said the headquarters personnel computed the time the man was in the water, added information that his lungs probably were filled with water and decided that trying to bring him back to life would be worse.

According to resident David Gudiel, when the ambulance arrived, the driver parked at the end of the road near the beach. He said he ran to the ambulance for the purpose of directing it to where the victim lay. He told the driver that the man was still alive and asked him to please hurry. But the ambulance driver said he was waiting for someone from Puerto Viejo to arrive. When a police officer from Puerto Viejo did arrive, he and the driver remained near the ambulance for about 20 more minutes, talking, according to Gudiel.
Mora had been helped ashore by two U.S. tourists and Aventuras Punta Uva kayakers. Gudiel’s brother, Roger, who was trying to resuscitate the man, said the victim still had a pulse. The brother is certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Eventually the ambulance crew attempted to resuscitate the man for about 10 minutes before deciding that he was dead.

Morales of the Cruz Roja said that the rescue agency's ambulances just have what he called basic support and only one has advanced technology. That ambulance was not available to take the first call Aug. 15, he said. The ambulance that arrived first had only basic support, and the driver just had basic training, he added. About 80 percent of the Cruz Roja workers are volunteers, said Morales.

The advanced equipment requires a trained medic to use it, said the Cruz Roja president, adding that the medic was not available as a first responder and came on a later ambulance. Eventually more ambulances arrived. One had a trained medic and another carried a doctor, said Morales.

By that time the victim clearly was dead. The fire truck was dispatched because it is equipped for severe rescue situations.

Morales outlined what he characterized as the logistical dilemma of the Cruz Roja in providing services to Talamanca.

Talamanca is a large region, and it is also the country's poorest region. The Cruz Roja provides all medical services to the poorest who live in the mountains near BriBri, he said. The rescue agency serves more as a mobile health clinic, which uses up too much time and resources, he explained.

The agency simply is spread too thin to be able to handle both a poor, needy population and the tourist beach areas, said Morales.

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One firm tries to educate
to prevent water deaths

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A drowning in Punta Uva during el Dia de la Madre last week has generated a call for more safety education in communities.  One firm, Emergency Care Costa Rica, teaches cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid across the country.

“It was a sad traffic event that happened in Puerto Viejo.  It's a morbid opportunity to realize the need for more education in Costa Rica,” said Say León Gamboa, wilderness emergency medical technician.

According to León, a number of people drown every year in Costa Rica.  Many are visitors who don't know the currents or rip tides.  Because there is no push for the average person to get certifications to help during emergency, most people have to wait until the Cruz Roja or police arrive for help.  That may be too late.

“The prevention culture is still not there,” he said.  “The Costa Ricans usually wait until something happens to do something.  The sad thing is that these are someone's family members getting hurt.”

Emergency Care Costa Rica came to the country in December 2001 to change this mindset. 

“We realized that they had stopped making courses for communities.  We said, that's kind of silly because if you only train paramedics what are people going to do in the meantime?” asked León.

Since its inception, Emergency Care has trained people from large companies and adventure schools while issuing international certifications.  Recently, 20 students from the Nicoya peninsula completed the course.

Teachers from the organization all have close to 30 years of experience teaching and practicing in the field, said León. The program is done through the U.S. National Safety Council in order to offer a standardized course.  All the work, is geared toward communities, he added.

“We don't train doctors. That's what the schools do.  What we try to do is bring classes to communities at low prices,” León said.

“We work under the idea that an educated community is a strong community, so we focus on community teaching since the Red Cross and the University of Costa Rica have other areas they cover.”

The program is designed to give students a lot of practice.  Included in the course books are reference cards that can be carried on a person and a DVD.

“We make students apply and learn what they have to.  We want them to be someone who can do something instead of waiting,” said León.

CPR certifications last two years and first aid lasts three years.  However it is recommended that a person re-certify every year to ensure the knowledge stays fresh, León said.

Those that can't undergo this training are recommended to know their area and recognize safety problems to prepare for the unexpected.  Also, León advises these persons insist the Cruz Roja offers lessons to groups. It would be ideal if the local aid organizations put in place an education program, he said.

“What's the point of fixing people if we don't teach them.  They are focusing a lot on fixing and not prevention,” he said.

“I'd love to hear that someone survived because someone else did something about it,” said León.

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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.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 168
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The display at the Archivo Nacional awaits visitors. The Constitution of 1812 is a landmark in the political systems that emerged in the Spanish-speaking world from the absolutism of the early 19th century.

Archivo Nacional photo

National archive marks 200th birthday of Cádiz Constitution
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Constitución de Cádiz, an attempt by embattled Spanish to create a modern, democratic society.

Costa Rica's Archivo Nacional inaugurates a year-long exposition today. The displays are mainly copies of the historical documents relating to that time.

Costa Rica was part of the Spanish empire then, and the effects of this constitution that elevated imperial subjects to citizens generated effects that filtered down here thousands of miles away.

It was the Cortes de Cádiz, the first legislature of Spain, that emitted the decree. The bulk of the country was under the control of the French. Napoleon Bonaparte had named his brother Joseph as the head of government.

The gathering in Cádiz was a government nearly in exile.

Eventually Spanish irregulars and British troops forced the French from Spain in an extraordinarily bloody effort. The 1812 constitution was progressive for its time because it established freedom of the press, a constitutional monarchy and land reform. The document also encouraged education and influenced the philosophy of the current Poder Judicial, said
the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud of which the national archives in Curridabat is a part.

Fernando VII voided the document when he returned from exile in 1814 on the heels of the French retreat. But the seeds had been planted. The document again came into force in 1820 when Fernando was forced to make concessions, but by then the effect on America was moot.
Manrique Jiménez Meza, a constitutional expert, and historians Juan Rafael Quesada Camacho and Manuel Benavides Barquero will discuss the document and its impact on Costa Rica after the inauguration at 5 p.m. today. The title of the exposition is De vasallos a ciudadanos, meaning From “Vassals to Citizens.”

It would be nine more years, until 1821, that the Spanish possessions in America gained their freedom as a result of the Mexican war of independence, although the Cádiz document gave Costa Rica some more autonomy.

Florencio Castillo was a legislator from Costa Rica and Nicoya 200 years ago, and he participated in drafting the Spanish constitution. In all, there were 296 legislative deputies in Spain and the Americas involved. The exposition contains some of his correspondence.

The Spanish Embassy helped with the exposition and supported publication of the catalogue.

Tropical Storm Isaac keeps
heading west in Caribbean

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tropical Storm Isaac has moved into the eastern Caribbean and continues to track due west.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said that the storm is expected to take a turn to the north. If it does, the impact on Costa Rica will be lessened. The storm center now is at 15.8 degrees north latitude degrees. Costa Rica sprawls between 8 and 11 degrees. Although hurricanes almost never touch land in this country, the indirect effects can be disastrous.

Isaac is expected to pass south of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico today and approach the Dominican Republic tonight and Friday, said the hurricane center. The storm could become a hurricane tonight or Friday.

Haiti shares an island with the Dominican Republic.

Behind Isaac and still in the mid-Atlantic is Tropical Depression 10. Behind that on the coast of Africa is another area of low pressure that might develop during its trip across the Atlantic.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 168
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Business poll shows that confidence is starting to erode
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Overall confidence in the Costa Rican economy's growth is beginning to fall at a faster rate, according to a recent business pulse poll of employers in various industries conducted periodically by a coalition of business chambers.

Despite weaker perceptions of the state of the economy and dwindling confidence of growth, the poll still shows that overall these businesses expect marginal growth in the future, just less than they expected earlier this year.

The Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, a chamber of associations representing various industries, cited numerous international and internal factors for the decline in a press release. These included the government's failure to confront electricity and infrastructure issues and its lack of a plan to reduce public spending.

“As the production sector, we believe that for there to be an upturn of confidence in business, there needs to be legal certainty and coherent public policies,” said Jaime Molina, chamber president, in the press release.

According to the union's director of communications, William Segura, the union has been taking the poll for 14 years and has been coming to the same conclusion about the government over the last four years.

The poll measured and quantified the entrepreneurs' perceptions of growth this quarter and confidence of growth in the next three months.

The poll also used these values to obtain a numerical value for the economic climate, according to Segura.

“Economic climate is the mixture of perceptions and economic climate,” he said.

The survey found that business owners perceived a 15 percent reduction in business since the first poll this year and that their confidence in the next quarter was down 11 percent, since the first poll this year.

How business leaders see the economy

to March
to June
Economic climate
Source: Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones
del Sector Empresarial Privado

The chamber also said that the government should reduce paperwork and bureaucracy with which businesses must contend.
"One of the urgent tasks as a sector on which we have been working and indicating to the authorities where the bottleneck is related to paperwork reduction, but we urge greater awareness and willingness of all public employees to run a reduction not only in formalities, but in the time taken to analyze, from a recording of a medicine to the procedures for approving loans," said Molina.

In addition to these cases of government inaction, the press release also blames unpredictable exchange rates, climbing interest rates, less access to credit, growing unemployment and Europe's unstable economy.

The poll seeks responses only from executive officers of Costa Rican businesses in seven different industries and divided into three groups based on how many people the company employs. This survey was distributed to 493 of these entrepreneurs last month.

The survey asked participants to rate their perceptions and confidence of growth on a scale from one to 10, in which five is the midpoint that indicates neither shrinkage nor growth. Anything below that indicates that business has or is expected to shrink and anything above indicates it has or is expected to grow.

Using this scale, the poll compiled the results and found a numeric value of 5.2 for perceptions, 6.1 for confidence and 5.7 for economic climate, indicating that there is still at least marginal growth in the economy. These values have not dropped below 5 since early 2010.

U.S. boat leaves area without delivering marijuana evidence
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy said Wednesday that the “USS Carr” had been waiting offshore for more than a week for legislative permission to deliver marijuana for a criminal proceeding. Now the U.S. Navy vessel has left the area.

The “Carr” is a Navy boat but it is operating as a platform for the U.S. Coast Guard, which confiscated 81 bundles of marijuana that fleeing smugglers had tossed in the water.

The smugglers were spotted by helicopter some 100 miles northeast of Limón, and eventually three persons were detained
by Costa Rican patrol boat crews.

The embassy release noted that the “Carr” was among those
 vessels that were part of a request for docking made in December. A request specifically for the “Carr” was made Aug. 14 so it could deliver the evidence, the release said.
Lawmakers from the Partido Liberación Nacional have blamed the Partido Acción Ciudadana for preventing the legislature from acting on the request.
Without the marijuana, security officials fear the three men may go free.

Anne S. Andrew, the U.S. ambassador here, said that the recent interdiction underlines that it is imperative that the Asamblea Legislativa approve the docking of Navy boats that participate in missions at sea. The docking of U.S. boats has been a controversial topic among lawmakers.

Bail set at $50,000 for physician who is suspect in murder case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A physician accused of cutting the throat of his girl friend can get out of jail if he posts 25 million colons as a bond.

That's about $50,000.

The physician, who has the last names of Saavedra Zamora is accused of killing the woman in his medical office in the center of Heredia Tuesday morning. Police interrupted him while he was dragging the woman's corpse down the corridor of the building, they said.

The woman has been identified as María Lourdes Dávila Moreno. She was 26. In addition to wounds believed administered by a scaple she suffered bruises in the face. Neighbors reported that they heard screams Tuesday morning, the presumed time of the murder, said the Poder Judicial.
Although the circumstances have not yet come out in court, police and informal sources say that the physician had a long-running affair with the woman after he met her at the public clinic where he works. In addition to working at the clinic, the physician shares a private office with his wife of four years, a psychologist. The woman visited the physician about 7 a.m. Tuesday perhaps to tell him she was pregnant, said informal sources.

An autopsy is awaited.

In addition to setting bail a judge in the Juzgado Penal de Heredia also made other stipulations if the physician gets out of jail. The Poder Judicial said that he cannot visit his medical office and cannot talk to witnesses of members of the woman's family. In addition the man has to sign in with prosecutors once a month. Prosecutors had sought to have the man jailed for six months while the investigation continues.

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N.Y. police deposition
says spying not productive

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A senior New York Police Department official says that spying on the city’s Muslim community has not yielded a single criminal lead. Some Muslim targets of surveillance feel vindicated.

Surveillance of the Muslim community by the secret Demographics Unit for at least the past six years has not yielded a single lead or launched any terror investigation.  That statement, part of a decades-old civil rights case, came in a recent deposition by an assistant chief and commanding officer of the New York Police Intelligence Division, Thomas Galati.

Muslim groups have long demanded the resignation of New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly over the surveillance issue.  But he enjoys the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and has defended surveillance as necessary to defend the city against terrorism. “We see ourselves as very conscious and aware of civil liberties, and we know that there's always going to be, there's always going to be tension between the police department and so-called civil liberties groups," he said.

Palestinian immigrant Mousa Ahmad says he had to close a coffee shop that he owned because police surveillance frightened away his customers. He still owns a barber shop next door.

“Maybe five outside, 10 police inside, you know. I told him 'what happened?' He's told me like just 'this is routine.' I said 'routine for what? This is a barbershop.' He go to the basement, he checked every single bag, every single drawer," he said.

Cyrus McGoldrick represents the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  He says Galati’s deposition confirms admonitions by Muslim targets of surveillance about the dangers of trading liberty for security. “You can see for yourself that this is not about keeping us safe, that this is, unfortunately, about control, about intelligence gathering for its own sake, and it has no practical purpose and is a tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars," he said.

Yale scientists are trying
to make sterile mosquitoes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A team of scientists at Yale University is working on a new birth-control drug for male mosquitos that could slow the malaria epidemic, a disease that sickens more than 215 million people, killing 655,000 each year.

Only female Anopheles gambiae mosquitos transmit malaria to humans, and they are the principle vector for the disease. But chemistry professor Richard Baxter and his team at Yale University are focused on the males.
Malaria mosquitos mate in airborne swarms. Unlike any other insect, the male inserts a gooey plug to seal its sperm inside the female during mating to ensure reproductive success.

At a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia this week, Baxter and his colleagues announced a new approach for screening chemical compounds that would inhibit formation of the mating plug.

This sterile insect technique has been successfully deployed in Africa against tsetse flies that transmit sleeping sickness, and in the United States to control the screwworm fly, which was once responsible for millions of dollars in losses in the cattle industry and has since been eradicated.

Baxter says this is important because malaria mosquitos are becoming resistant to insecticides and adapting to indoor control measures by biting outdoors during the day. 

“So the idea is if we can actually suppress the mosquito, we will prevent the transmission of the disease and then eventually if you prevent transmission for several seasons, you will eradicate the parasite that itself causes the disease without eradicating the mosquito.”  

Over the next several months, Baxter will test various chemicals to see which ones disable the proteins, so mating would be unsuccessful.

“If that works in the lab, then we can move on to semi-field trails, where we have a large cage, which is outdoors," he says.  "That would test the efficacy of the compound in a more realistic setting.”

After mosquitos are fed the inhibiting compound, the modified males would be released to mate with wild females. With no resulting offspring, the population would be reduced without the use of pesticides.

Federal Reserve might
cut long-term interest

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Top officials of the U.S. central bank signaled Wednesday that they may launch a new effort to boost the economy if growth does not improve.

U.S. Federal Reserve officials indicated that bolstering growth might include a program intended to lower long-term interest rates with a complex program of buying bonds.

The hope is that lower interest rates could encourage businesses to borrow the money needed to buy new equipment, and expand production and hiring.

This information came in notes from the most recent Fed meeting, which were published after the customary three-week delay.

Russia becomes member
of World Trade Organization

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russia became the 156th member of the World Trade Organization Wednesday, following nearly two decades of negotiations.

Russia was one of the world's last major economies to join the Geneva-based institution, having previously expressed concerns about the potential influx of Western goods and services.

As part of its membership, Russia has agreed to lower import tariffs to less than 8 percent from a current average of around 10 percent.

As part of the agreement, Russia has also made commitments to open trade in several sectors, including the banking, automotive and insurance industries.

Some analysts expect this will be to the benefit of Russian consumers by making it cheaper for them to purchase imported products while allowing them to save more and invest back into the local economy.
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Brothers to perform classics
at Alajuela museum tonight

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

American classically trained brothers Joseph and John Irrera will give a piano and violin recital tonight at the Museo
musical brothers
The Irrera Brothers
Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría in Alajuela.

The concert will conclude the III Temporada Internacional de Piano series. Pianist Joseph and Violinist John will play Beethoven's "Violin and Piano Sonata G major, Op. 96 "and Prokofiev's  "Violin and Piano Sonata in D Major, Op. 94, " said Wong Yong Lee, series coordinator.

"We are honored to have them here. This is a highly respected duo in United States. It's not very often that music duos come to the country, which is why this presentation will be a great experience for the Costa Rican public," she said.

Ms. Yong opened the piano series with a recital.  Other guests included Jacqueline Leung of Hong Kong and Dzmitry Ulasiuk of Belarus.

She described the overall series as "a success, since we had a wide variety of artists and great assistance."

The Irreras have performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and the Eastman Theatre. They have appeared internationally in France, Germany, and Italy.

According to the duo's biography, their musical journey began at age 5.  At age 11, after showing advanced talent, they enrolled in Eastman School of Music’s Pre-College Division.  Both continued their university education at Eastman School of Music, earning a bachelors degree in performance.

Currently they are doctoral candidates and faculty at the same school.

This will be the third stop in the Irrera Brothers' Costa Rican tour that began Aug. 16.  Previously the two played in Cartago and Heredia.

The performance will start at 12:10 p.m., in the Auditorio Juan Rafael Mora of the museum. Admission is 1,000 colons.  Those interested can call  2221-5341 for reservations.

Puntarenas mayor detained
on four allegations

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents took into custody Wednesday the mayor of Puntarenas on four allegations including that he allowed the dismantling of a gymnasium.

The mayor is Rafael Ángel Rodríguez Castro. He was arrested at the municipal building shortly before 11 a.m., said the Judicial Investigating Organization. The gymnasium, a donation to the municipality, was in El Roble.

The Poder Judicial said that allegations against the mayor include making a direct contract without bids for a concession of the municipal bathrooms on the Paseo de los Turistas. He also overruled a vice mayor who had stopped the salary for an employee who was absent for nine days, said the Poder Judicial. There also was a case where he authorized construction to continue on a restaurant where a fine had been levied, said the Poder Judicial.

The mayor has been in office two years.

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