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(506) 2223-1327               Published Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, in Vol. 9, No. 182             E-mail us
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Runners await
Students of the Escuela Ricardo Jiménez in San José await their turn to carry a torch.
Blazing reminder of liberty
spreads patriotism in valley

caldron of fire
Student holds a torch, which is headed to Cartago.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Patriotic sentiment was not wanting Monday night as the Antorcha de la Libertad arrived in downtown San José to be welcomed by about a thousand persons. Speeches and patriotic songs were the order of the evening as the clock at the Catedral Metropolitana marked 6 p.m. Then the torch and cloned tourches were off to other communities, including Cartago where members of the central government awaited.

See our story HERE!
more flags
There were no shortages of flags

Fancy farol
Ricardo Leitón G., of Zapote built this, the mother of all faroles

A.M. Costa Rica photos by
Saray Ramírez Vindas

minister lights fire
Leonardo Garnier, minister of Educación Públic, ignites the downtown cauldron.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 182

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Puriscal Properties
sportsmens update
Click HERE for great hotel discounts

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.


Legal services

Burke Fiduciary, S.A.
Registered Escrow and Legal Services
Thomas A. Burke, LL.M, Glenda Burke, LL.M
Gloria Burke, manager
Burke law firm

We offer real estate law, due diligence and escrow services,residency status, business corporations, estate planning. English, Spanish, German and French spoken.
More about us at www.burkecr.com
Ph. 011 506 2267-6645
info@burkecr.com

The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the
General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
business carried out by this company, nor its security, stability or solvency.
Persons contracting its services do so for their own account and at their own risk.
5510-3/2/10

Arcelio Hernandez, Esq.
BUFETE HERNANDEZ MUSSIO Y ASOCIADOS

CRTitle.com
Member: Cenpac, AmCham
Jaco: Tel. 2643-3058 - Fax. 2643-0358
Skype: hernandez.mussio
Arcelio hernandez
• Real Estate Transactions
•  Legal Due Diligence
• Purchase and Sale   Agreements/Options
• Trademarks 
• Costa Rican Corporations.
• Title Guaranty • Fraud
     protection * Litigation 
• Constitution of condominiums
• Notary public services in
   general • Offshore Incorporation • Offshore Banking  • Business Law 
• Escrow Services (registered
     with SUGEF) • Estate Planning 
• Family Law 
• Bilingual Accounting Services 

Tel. 2519-4647 - Fax: 2520-0831
San Jose - Jaco - Heredia
Visit our Office in Jacó Beach (GEM Building, 
Office 4 across from AyA on Calle Ancha).
5468-2/17/10

CONSULTORIA JURIDICA EMPRESARIAL CA, S.A
Attorneys & Notaries
 Tel.  2280-9692 / 2225-9322      
e-mail: info@conjuridica.com  Web:  www.conjuridica.com
       We offer the highest professional standards with very competitive rates. All our official documentation and Notary deeds are always translated in English for better comprehension, client satisfaction and safety.
consultoria logo
• Immigration Law.
• Real Estate Law.
• Corporations, Foundations
       and Associations. 
• Trademarks & Intellectual
       Property.  
• Notary public services
• Criminal Law
•Civil & Commercial 
       Litigation
Our Law Office is conveniently located near Mall San Pedro,  350 meters south from the Subaru dealer, Los Yoses, San José.
5290-12/2/09

KEARNEY-LAWSON & Asoc.
Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
Relocation services, Wedding Planning
Greg Kearney
*Investments  *Corporations
*Tax Shelters *Immigration
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
*Name & Product registration
*Business procedures 
*Family and Labor Law
*Locate People   *Private Investigations
Phone/Fax: 2290-8117, 8841-0007
New location on Rohrmoser Blvd.
 Phone: (506) 2232-1014

Appraiser

BEFORE YOU BUY and OVERPAY
Angela Jiménez
ask Angela Jiménez
Architect/Certified Appraiser
23 years experience
for Costa Rica Banks

• building inspections
•¨property management
• construction management

www.orbitcostarica.com/
certifieda.htm
5302-12/12/09

Insurance brokers

Financial Planning & International Health Insurance
Disney Financial Group
Along with specializing in complete financial / estate planning and transfer, Disney is now offering the Finest
Michael Disney
Michael Disney
in International Health and Travel Insurance to Expats living and traveling worldwide.  International health insurance may now be submitted over the Internet.

We also have annuities offering a 25% up front bonus and 5% guaranteed compounded interest.  We handle life insurance policy buy outs. ** All financial products must be finalized within the boundaries of the United States.
Michael Disney, Disney Financial Group. 001.602.464.3729, 001.602.821.5050
E-mail:  DisneyFinancial@Aol.Com
www.DisneyFinancialGroup.Com
www.JoinDisneyOnline.Com
Disney Financial Group is licensed in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.
5374-10/10/09

Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore —

we know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
Costa Rica's evolving immigration law.
Pensionado and rentista. Your first stop for smooth, professional service and a positive experience. Javier Zavaleta jzava@pacbell.net
www.residencyincostarica.com
Tel: (323) 255-6116
5495-2/17/09

Psychiatrist

Dr. Luis Carlos Sancho Torres
  bilingual psychiatrist (UCR)
Dr. Sancho
• consulting • depression  • schizophrenia 
• psychiatric disability VA Affairs

• evaluations for gun permits 
 
• bipolar disorders  • addictions 

• methadone

• Transmagnetic stimulation
for depression and stroke

Available 24-hour a day

office: 2246-3458 or 2246-3459
soon: www.psiquiatriacostarica.com
 lucasancho@yahoo.com
5128-7/14/09


Physicians and surgeons

Dr. Marco A. Mora Aguilar, Neurosurgeon
Dr. Mora
Dr. Marco A. Mora
Available for surgery in any of the private hospitals in San José.
                
Stroke, Brain Surgery, Spine Surgery, Scalp and Skull Repair, Craniotomy
 
http://www.drmarcomora.com
E-mail: info@drmarcomora.com
Or use our Contact Form on the site
Emergency tel: 8879-1818, 8395-1818
Accepting VA's Foreign Medical Program
5517-11/8/09

Dentists and dental surgery

Dental Cosmetics Costa Rica
Our office offers a wide variety of cosmetic and restorative treatments at very affordable prices. Fillings,
Dental Cosmetics
crowns, bridges, veneers, tooth whitening, implants, smile makeover orthognatic surgery, scalling and polishing.
www.dentalcosmeticscr.com
5372-10/9/09


Marco Cavallini & Associates
Dental Implants $500, Crowns $250

Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and restored
Dr. cavallini
Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini
over 10,000 dental implants since 1980. The Dr. Marco Muñoz Cavallini Dental Clinic, is recognized as one of the best practices in Dental Reconstruction,
Dental Implant placement and Cosmetic Dentistry in Costa Rica and the World. 
For more information,
visit us today at: www.aestheticdentistrycr.com
5346-8/26/09

Acupuncture physician

Acupuncture (disposable needles),
& Auriculotherapy (without needles) 

Immediate results guaranteed
for sport and all injuries; Back, neck, shoulder, elbow, carpal tunnel, knees, sciatica, 
Eugene McDonald
Eugene Mc Donald A.P.
migraine, T.M.J., kidney stones, intercostal neuralgia, and all painfull conditions  without drugs. Excellent results for stress, tension, anxiety, depression; and many other medical conditions and health maintenance.  Acupuncture works even if other therapies had little or no results. Free consultation, U.S. license, 19 years experience, Eugene Mc Donald, A.P (acupuncture physician) Escazú, 8352-0661. acutherapy0@hotmail.com
http://acupuncturecr.blogspot.com/
5073-9/20/09

Accountants

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

• US Tax return preparation  for
individuals and businesses
• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
Income Tax Exclusion (up to $
87,600 in 2008)
• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting


Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@racsa.co.cr
5097-3/30/10

U.S. Tax International

Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
Over 15 years in Costa Rica
(English Spoken)
C.R. 2288-2201   U.S 786-206-9473
FAX: 2289-8235
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com
Web page with vital U.S. tax info HERE!
5422-8/13/09

Real estate agents and services

Latitude Nine real estate graphic
Latitude 9
Real estate, development, Investments.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
506 2777-1197

Over 25 years experience in Costa Rica

www.latitude9.com
5349-11/25/09


MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica

20 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@racsa.co.cr
info@realtorcostarica.com
www.realtorcostarica.com
(506)  2220-3729 &  (506) 8382-7399 cell
(506)  2232-5016 (phone/fax)
5406-1/6/10

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
A Name You Trust & Professional Service


Buying? Selling?
We Can Do It!
TOLL FREE FROM THE US
1 (877) 746-3868
  Tom Ghormley - Owner/Broker - in CR since '79

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www.c21jaco.com
2643-3356
Info@c21jaco.com
4401-6/9/09v


Arias warns of extremism
and social confrontations


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez warned Monday night that there are groups intent on tearing down the state., He said these groups think it is time for social confrontation and class warfare.

Arias was speaking at the annual consejo de gobierno or president's cabinet meeting that is held in Cartago on the eve of independence day. He said that these radicals want to tear down the government and the institutions with the hope of a new society.

To counter this trend, Arias said that he signed into law Monday the measure that changes the name of the Ministerio de Justicia y Gracia to the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz. He said one goal of the reformed ministry would be to strengthen and fortify government institutions in a state of peace and a state of rights.

Arias said that although there are nations in the world that are going backwards, Costa Rica would continue to perfect its democracy.

Several political groups in Costa Rica have allied themselves with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Other groups have created social confrontation like the land invasion by hundreds of Pavas residents. They were evicted by police Friday and a rock-throwing encounter. They had invaded public land.

Arias speaks again today at 10 a.m. in Parque Nacional.

This is the 188th anniversary of Costa Rican independence. The Antorcha de la Libertad was carried through the nation's streets by runners Monday. There was a ceremony in San José as well as in Cartago.

Today is a legal holiday, and many businesses will be closed.


Registro needs to reform,
Contraloría says in study


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Registro Nacional  where the nation's property records are kept, is obsolete and, worse than that, the data cannot be ported over to another computer platform, according to the Contraloría de la República, which studied the system.

The Contraloría said that this situation holds serious implications for the nation and for the economic activity here.

The Sistema de Benes Inmuebles of the Registro is where all the deeds and property records are filed electronically.

The Contraloría also said that the information contained in the data base is not 100 percent trustworthy. There are inconsistencies due to lack of precision and sufficient information, the Contraloría said in a summary of the study. The Contraloría said there are cases where documents have been registered when they were presented by suspended notaries or when the notary whose signature was on the document was dead.

The Contraloría called for a crosscheck or controls to validate the notary who is presenting the document.

The Registro also is behind in the planning and implementation of a unified system of registered documents, said the Contraloría.

The Contraloría issued a series of directive ordering the Registro Nacional to correct what were being called weaknesses and to take steps to guarantee the quality of the date provided on real estate.


Cell phones continue
to have some problems


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's cell phone system is a mess, and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad is having trouble keeping up with the consumer demand.

The phone company unified the two cell p\hone systems Saturday, but by Monday some cell phones simply were not working. Frustrated phone company techs at the designed call-in line have taken to blaming the user for faulty telephones.

Some users, perhaps 10 percent of the cell phone population with GSM lines cold not get a dial tone and could not receive incoming calls.


Metals expo a success,
top policeman reports


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The head of the judicial police said that junk yard operators have agreed to participate in training that will allow employees to recognize metals that come from state-owned property or systems.

The junk yard owners met with Jorge Rojas, the director of the Judicial Investigating Organization, and other officials Saturday.

Rojas said there is a good chance that junk fairs, like the one held last week downtown, will be set up around the country. At the fair state employes showed the types of metal that were subject to theft. For example, cable and water meters were among the items on exhibit.


Former court president dies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Miguel Blanco Quiros, a former president of the Corte Suprema de Justicia, has died, the Poder Judicial reported Monday. He retired in 1990. The former magistrate also served for 30 years as a professor and vice dean of the Facultad de Derechos of the Universidad de Costa Rica.

.
Our reader's opinions
U.S. should adopts ideas
directed at Costa Rica


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

As a frequent British visitor to the U.S. (five months or so each year),  I am amazed how the Costa Ricans put up with the unending criticism their country receives from U.S. visitors and residents .If you are a visitor in the U.S., you quickly discover that even the mildest and most constructive criticism of the American way of doing things invites a savage response - along the lines of Don't Come Here Then .

And if the euro expats in the U.S. dared to routinely criticize that great country the way the U.S. expats slag off Costa Rica they would find themselves barred from reentry the next time they took a trip back to the Old Country

But your Point 5 is a sensible suggestion - Maybe the U.S. will lead the way in relaxing its own rules to accommodate young people, including Costa Ricans, who want to stay in the U.S. for some time . Ha.       
Maggie Drummond


Father is left in lurch
by Catch 22 regulations

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Let me thank you for your very precise article stating your positions on Costa Rica.

I agree 100 percent with everything you said and unfortunately more is not commented on article point number 17.

I am a Father of 3 wonderful Costa Rican children (whom I love very much) but going through divorce, custody, child support, financial imprisonment (impedimiento de salida) and general societal disdain all for caring about my children and my right to be together and have a relationship.

I was given unfair initial child support, denied work visa, told to get documents for citizenship that could only be attained in person in the U.S.A. yet without having money to deposit was unable to leave to either get documents to gain the privilege of working and earning in the Third World but also unable to go back to get a job in order to continue to pay and if payment was not forthcoming then 6 months in jail would be due. Does that seem rational?

I love Costa Rica and have only been gone now for two months back in Idaho where I am from missing my kids, dogs and farm but having to work to pay off a loan shark (lawyer) who lent me $10,000 in order to pay the exit of the country holding my farm as collateral for the 3 percent a month interest. My children's inheritance is now on the line, and I am now working to pay the loan back, save for future child support, food for dogs I can't be with and hopefully enough money to come back for a visit.

My vision of Costa Rica is your list of stands you have made, and I am happy you were able to print this article.

David John Abel
Boise, Idaho


He'll boycott trashy beach
and wants a bottle deposit

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Just finished reading G. Baker’s rant on trash problems in C.R. And the first thought that came to mind was man, oh man! is Baker on the attack again?? Not two weeks ago he was slamming Ticos as being ‘mama’s boys’ and now he’s at it again with the trash issue. I guess depending on where you live (if in C.R.) the problem is more extreme than in other locales. What makes me sick is trash at the beaches. I’ll boycott a trashy waterfront in a heartbeat.

Why this government doesn’t institute a bottle return law is beyond me. 25 colons per unit should do it. Clean the place up and ‘create’ new jobs in the process.

Then again, why worry about it? The apparent exodus of clean living foreigners from C.R. will leave no one behind who cares about trash anyhow. Right Garland?

Dennie Sartuga
Limon

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 182

Rectification

Trio finds that the IRS has arms long enough to reach here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three expats found that the long arm of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service reaches to Costa Rica. All are in prison awaiting extradition.

One, Ellen Meredith Stubenhaus, served on the executive council of Pinnacle Quest International, which is a tax scheme, according to federal officials.

The other two, Lin M. Bartee and his wife, Christine J. Wenger-Bartee, appear to have believed what another anti-tax scheme told them and dashed off a letter to the IRS area director in Ogden, Utah, explaining why they did not have to pay taxes. They were involved with IRS Code Busters, a multi-level marketing scheme that purports to teach U.,S. citizens why they need not pay income taxes.

A federal indictment says that Bartee and his wife failed to pay taxes in 2001, sold off their assets in California, and filed a bogus bankruptcy petition. They face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, tax evasion, false declarations in bankruptcy cases and fraudulent concealment of property.

The two women seem to have embarked on a public relations campaign to stay in Costa Rica, perhaps as political refugees. The country has been welcoming to fugitive women from the United States.

U.S. tax fraud is not new to Costa Rica. Keith Anderson of Santa Ana ran an organization called Anderson's Ark. which purported to teach U.S. residents how to conceal funds in Costa Rica. An Anderson associate made the mistake of showing an undercover  agent how to launder money. The case resulted in six convictions in the United States. Anderson was extradited after Costa Rica lifted his Tico citizenship.

Periodically businesses crop up here where customers are told they can protect their assets by investing in Costa Rica or in other offshore locations. Some deals are pure scams and others just lack legal foundations.

Both  Pinnacle Quest International and IRS Code Busters fall in the last category.  Both make money by endorsing or offering financial products and information to customers who are seeking to avoid U.S. taxes.

The United States got an injunction against Pinnacle Quest  May 15, 2008, in Pensacola, Florida. The government said that Pinnacle was a new incarnation of Global Prosperity, which was notorious and run by David Sruckman. It said Pinnacle used Global Prosperity's sales force, Web sites and data bases.

The injunction names Ms. Stubenhaus as being a member of the executive council that ran the operation. The federal injunction said that from 2002 to 2006  Pinnacle Quest salespeople earned $36 million in commissions and that Pinnacle Quest took in $16 million. The sales were done with multilevel marketing and involved tickets to conferences, audio tapes and discs and access to certain Web sites. These products tell purchasers that the U.S. income tax system in voluntary and that they are not required to pay U.S. income tax.
U.S. fugitives
        Bartee               Ms. Wenger           Ms. Stubenhaus


The U.S. government said that the country lost millions in tax revenue due to the fraudulent information contained in these conferences and products produced by Pinnacle or other firms that Pinnacle allowed to market to its customer base.

A federal judge signed an arrest a warrant against Ms. Stubenhaus Aug. 21, 2008. Interpol agents arrested her in July in Ojochal where she was working as a chiroparctor. She had lived in Escazú, they said. She entered the country in 2008.

The case of Bartee and his wife is interesting because it appears that they believed what anti-tax salespeople were telling them.

The indictment filed June 26, 2008 in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California, described a couple dumping their assets in the United States. The indictment said they distributed their money to parents who sent some to Costa Rica. The indictment said that the pair got nearly $473,000 in 2002 from selling their assets but that they did not file a tax return that year.

Feb. 5, 2003, Bartee sent the letter to the IRS director in Ogden declining to pay taxes. Some anti-tax literature distributed in the multilevel scheme said that the IRS puts a code in each citizen's file that required them to pay taxes. Bartee appears to have wanted the IRS to removed the mythical code from his file.

The pair sent nearly $240,000 to Ms. Wenger's parents, and one wired $146,240 to Costa Rica, said the indictment. Then the pair filed the bankruptcy petition. Both had been in business. They signed documents under penalty of perjury, said the indictment. At that time they owed the IRS about $181,000. the indictment said, but that was not listed on the bankruptcy schedule.

The pair declined to cooperate with the bankruptcy trustee, and when the case was rejected Nov. 9, 2004, the pair moved to Costa Rica, the indictment said. Interpol and local agents detained them in Coronado de Osa in May. Their minorrr child was remanded to the custody of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.

The tax scheme scams have a number of attractive excuses for not paying. Most of these ideas have been around for year and are routinely rejected by U.S. courts. One claim is that the legal basis for the income tax is faulty.

Far worse than just incorrect information are those tax fraudsters who end up taking the funds of those who send money overseas for safekeeping. This happens frequently as posting on various Internet fraud sites show.


Two policemen detained as suspects in armed robbery
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry has been hit with another scandal. Investigators detained two Fuerza Pública officers on robbery allegations Monday afternoon, said Janina del Vecchio, the minister.

The Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed the arrests and said that the case involves a robbery in Barrio San Cayetano Aug. 23. Two men believed to be police officers held up a man at gunpoint and took 200,000, the Judicial Investigating Organization said. That's about $344. The policemen were reported to be on duty at the time.
Ms. Del Vecchio said that the two policemen were assigned to the San Sebastián police station. She identified them by the last names of Fallas Diaz and Durán Pérez and said Fallas worked for the ministry for 13 years and Durán for nine.

The minister restated her commitment to fight against police corruption.

The San Sebastián station figured prominently in arrests two weeks ago of 11 officers who were said to be facilitating crimes by crooks for payments. Among those detained was the chief of the central city division.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 182


Venezuelan weapons buildup worries U.S. officials

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States said Monday an ongoing military buildup by Venezuela poses a serious challenge to regional stability. The comments follow an announcement that the Caracas government of President Hugo Chávez has received a line of credit from Moscow to purchase Russian tanks and anti-aircraft missiles.

The State Department said Venezuela's recent arms acquisitions far outpace those of any other South American country.  The Obama administration is calling for more transparency by the Chávez government and assurances that its weapons are not on-passed to regional insurgents or others.

The comments from State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly were the most pointed to date by the administration on the Venezuelan arms buildup, which was a subject of frequent statements of concern by the Bush administration.

Chávez said Sunday his government has received a $2.2 billion line of credit from Moscow to buy 92 Russian-made T-72 battle tanks as well as a long-range Russian anti-aircraft missile system.

Kelly told reporters the United States has broad concerns about Venezuela's desire to increase its arms purchases, which he said poses a serious challenge to stability in the Western Hemisphere.

"What they are looking to purchase, and what they are purchasing, outpaces all other countries in South America, and of course we are concerned  about an arms race in the region," said Ian Kelly. "And we urge Venezuela to be
transparent in its purchases, and very clear about the purposes of these  purchases. And we're also very concern that they put in place very clear procedures and safeguards that these arms are not diverted to any irregular or illegal organizations in the region."

Kelly's mention to irregular organizations was an apparent reference to left-wing Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia guerillas to which the Venezuelan government has been accused by its neighbor of providing small arms and occasional safe-haven.

Chávez said he is buying more arms because his government feels threatened by the U.S.- Colombian agreement last month to give U.S. forces access to several Colombian military bases to combat regional drug trafficking and terrorism.

The Obama administration says the agreement, prompted in part by the denial of further U.S. access to an air base in Ecuador, is not directed against any other country and would not mean permanent U.S. bases in Colombia or a sizeable increase in the American presence there.

Under questioning here, Kelly also said the United States will be looking closely into media reports Venezuela might get technical help on civilian nuclear power from Iran, which has developed close ties with the South American state and is accused by the United States and others of seeking nuclear weapons.

He said Venezuela, as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has specific obligations for transparency and disclosure for any civilian nuclear program.



Press groups plan forum in Caracas to discusss freedom

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The former president of Bolivia, Carlos Mesa, and of Peru, Alejandro Toledo, and former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda will address the Emergency Forum on Freedom of Expression”which will review the major problems and current issues facing the practice of journalism in the Western Hemisphere in Venezuela this Friday. Seventeen world and national press organizations are sponsoring the event. 

The Inter American Press Association and the Venezuelan Press Bloc are the main organizers of Friday's one-day event in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. The conference will feature panel discussions, roundtables and special presentations, with a morning focus on the state of free
speech in the Americas; the afternoon will be devoted to Venezuela, with the participation of local media representatives and professors invited by the  Inter American Press Association.
“Our intention is to identify and offer suggestions concerning the main barriers to freedom of expression and the press in the Americas,” explained Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo. “By means of a diligent dialogue we will identify and analyze both positive and negative issues, the similarities and differences in what the press faces and how freedom of the press is practiced in our countries.”  He is president of the Inter American Press Association.

Former presidents Mesa and Toledo as well as Castañeda will deliver keynote speeches in the morning. Confirmed participants in the forum include media editors and publishers and journalists from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecua dor, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, United States and Uruguay.

Special invitations have been extended to representatives of the Venezuelan government and the local Canal Telesur television channel. None has responded to date.



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 182

Casa Alfi Hotel

U.S. changes tack and joins
U.N. Human Rights Council


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

After staying on the sidelines for years, the United States for the first time has joined the U.N. Human Rights Council as a full-fledged member.

The U.N. Human Rights Council endured years of scathing criticism from the Bush Administration. But those days are apparently over.

The head of the U.S. delegation, Esther Brimmer, assistant secretary for international organization affairs, told the 47-member Council the United States will work with other nations to forge common ground to protect and advance human rights.

"It is indeed an honor and a privilege to address the council today on this important occasion for my country," Ms. Brimmer said.

Until now, the United States has simply been an observer, watching council proceedings from the sidelines. The Bush administration refused to participate as an active member, claiming the panel was overly influenced by countries with serious human-rights problems of its own.

It also objected to what it considered the council's single-minded focus on alleged violations by Israel. But the Obama Administration, as explained by Ms. Brimmer, has a different view.

"Our decision to join the Human Rights Council was not entered into lightly. It was reached based on a clear and hopeful vision of what can be accomplished here. Our vision is not merely made in America, but rather reflects the aspirations embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the mandate of the Human Rights Council itself," Ms. Brimmer said.

Ms. Brimmer promises the Obama Administration will be an active and constructive participant in council deliberations. She says it will enter into thoughtful, focused dialogue with its partners and will be open to all viewpoints and perspectives.

She acknowledges it will not be easy to resolve differences or end abuses. But she says the United States is ready to devote the time to build understanding and act to bring justice to all.

"Make no mistake; the United States will not look the other way in the face of serious human rights abuses. The truth must be told, the facts brought to light and the consequences faced. While we will aim for common ground, we will call things as we see them and we will stand our ground when truth is at stake," said Ms. Brimmer.

The U.S. representative says Washington seeks to build cooperation based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. To that end, she says the United States will work with other nations to protect freedom of expression and fight against discrimination and negative stereotyping.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 182

Latin American news
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Church seeks to help
travelers headed to U.S.


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Escazú Christian Fellowship is mounting an effort to help the 51 boat people and others who are housed in the immigration detention center in Hatillo.

The church sent out an urgent message Monday and said that the need is very great.

The 51 came ashore Sunday after been spotted in a boat in bad condition by members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas. The travelers had been without food and water for three days, they said.

Three of their number will be getting free food for a year. The  Juzgado Penal de Limón ordered that three Colombian suspected traffickers be held for a year for investigation.

They were identified by the last names of Barrios Gómez, Guerrero De Avila and Semacary López.

The boat contained Somalians, Eritreans and individuals from Nepal. They were on the way to the United States, they said.   The passengers had been recruited in Africa. One said he paid $1,500, but others paid more. They join others in an already crowded immigration facility.

Amy Swartzbaugh, a member of the Escazú Christian church council, is coordinating the relief activities, the church said. Food, clothing personal items are being sought. more information is available at 8347-7509.


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