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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 183          Email us
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Congratulations on the 190th anniversary of liberty, Costa Rica!

Torch display
A.M. Costa Rica photo


Torch
arrival
A student from the Colegio Superior de Señoritas in San José holds aloft the Antorcha de Libertad that holds the flame carried from Guatemala City.  The scene was in Parque Central Wednesday night.

Our report on independence activities is
HERE!


Sala IV declines to return child to U.S. custodial dad
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has determined the presumed interests of a child are superior to the country's obligations under the international treaty covering child abductions.

This is the latest episode in the long-running legal battle by Trina Atwell and the custodial parent of the child, Roy Koyama of Missouri. Ms. Atwell was married to a Costa Rican, Henner Chaverría, when she met Koyama, and she came to Costa  Rica with her daughter Emily in February 2009. When she returned to Costa Rica she reunited with Chaverría.

Koyama wrote on an Internet page last month that Emily had been denied refugee status in Costa Rica and had been ordered to be returned to the United States and him. However, the Sala IV said that returning the child to the United States would be contrary to the main interests of the girl.

Ms. Atwell is the subject of a Green County Court warrant for parental abduction.

The Defensoría de los Habitantes has been working as an adviser to Ms. Atwell and also filed its own case on her behalf.

The Juzgado de Niñez y Adolescencia del Primer Circuito Judicial de San José, the regional family court, ordered May 7, 2010, that the girl be reunited with Koyama. The decision also went against the wishes of the Dirección General de
Migración y Extranjería, and the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.

Koyama has been getting help from a local lawyer and from the U.S. State Department.  He normally is not in Costa Rica, although he has visited during the course of the long-running legal case.

Generally the child abduction treaty says that the initial court should have responsibility for deciding such cases. That would be the Green County Court in this case. However, the Sala IV cited sections of the treaty to say the the interest of the child should have priority.

The magistrates wrote in the decision handed down Tuesday that social work and psychology professionals had been involved in the case. The decision did not say if Koyama had been contacted. Both Koyama and Ms. Atwell have waged an Internet war via competing Web pages.

The case is not clear cut because Ms. Atwell said that she never was advised of a Green County Court hearing when Koyama was awarded custody.

She also claims Koyama is abusive and a drug user. He denies these claims.

This is another case of Costa Rican judges assuming responsibility for child abduction cases contrary to the intent of the international treaty. Almost always the favored party in the case is the mother. Men who abduct children to Costa Rica are quickly expelled.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 183

Costa Rica Expertise



Sportsmen's Lodge

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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closed up place
A.M. Costa Rica photo
Chelles was one of the restaurants closed down

Tax agency shuts down
popular restaurants in city

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those downtown Friday might find that their favorite eating places are closed.

Inspectors from the Tributación Directa, the tax agency, fanned out in the downtown Wednesday and applied seals on some of the better known eating places for alleged failure to comply with the regulations.

At least three well known restaurants were closed up. They included Manolo on Avenida Central between calls 9 and 11, La Criolito on Avenida 7 across the street and just west of the Instituto Costarricense de Seguros building, and Chelles, the 24-hour gathering spot on the corner of Calle 9 and the pedestrian mall.

The official actions had nothing to do with the quality of the food. That is in the domain of the Ministerio de Salud. Businesses can get into trouble with the tax authorities by failing to file a monthly sales tax report or by failing to file income tax reports. In addition, some restaurants cheat on their sales tax by failing to issue invoices or facturas when they collect for a meal.

Francisco Villalobos, the director of the tax agency, is a proponent of credit cards because retailers cannot cheat on their income if the money goes through a card issuer and a bank and creates a paper trail.

The closings Wednesday were part of a campaign by the tax agency to change the Costa Rican culture relating to payment of taxes.

Our reader's opinion
Continental Airlines responds
to some gentle proding

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Every cloud has a silver lining!

My particular cloud developed on the last Friday in June.  I left SJO at 8 a.m. en route to Toronto for my annual checkup on family and friends in the true north strong and free. My flight arrived on time in Newark, but I learned then that my connecting flight to Toronto had been cancelled.

From 3 p.m. on, we listened to a frustrating barrage of contradictory misinformation, until finally a kind ground person named Norma got me vouchers for accommodation and meals, and a connecting flight to Toronto the next afternoon.  I arrived in Toronto almost 24 hours late.

Meanwhile, my friends who were awaiting me had no idea what had happened, and when they called the airline seeking information (Why didn´t his flight arrive?) they were refused any answer.

A few days later I received a routine questionnaire from the airline asking, How was your flight?  Did it arrive on time? etc.  And I replied to it, spelling out my frustration and listing some of the contradictions.  I never received any response to this.

Last month, my African protege (a graduate of United World College in Santa Ana) came down from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, to spend a week with me.  After a good visit, we took him to the airport to get the same flight I had taken in June. When he arrived in Newark, he found out that his connecting flight to Portland, Maine, had been cancelled.  No reason.  No apology.  He had to find someone who would drive him to Portland, an eight-hour trip.

I was furious.

If the airline can get away with this they will continue to do it, and worse.  Have passengers no rights?  Is there no reason for no courtesy?  I communicated my fury to you, Mr. Editor, and you had an idea.  “Let me put a word in for you” was your suggestion, and I agreed.

A few days later I had a phone call from a senior executive with Continental Airlines in Houston.  She empathized with me and was terribly embarrassed about the airlines lack of communication with me, unable to find any excuse for that.  She did not argue with me when I opined that Newark was perhaps the worst major airport in the U.S.A.

And a few days later I received by email a certificate entitling me to a discount on any flight I care to take with Continental in the next year.

It is good to know that corporate America can have a human face.  It is good to know someone like Jay Brodell, who knows how to make things work.  Might even say "God´s in His heaven, all´s right in His world!"  

Ron Tucker
Atenas

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


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 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary








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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 183

Prisma dental

runners and Ms. Chinchilla
                                                                                       A.M. Costa Rica photo                                                                    Casa Presidencial photo
                 Runners head to Cartago from San José                                 President helped ignite flame

Country's biggest challenge is its finances, president affirms
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

All over Costa Rica Wednesday night crowds gathered in public to receive the torch of liberty and sing the national anthem.

Children showed off their homemade faroles, and more than one mother admitted to being up the night before to help put the finishing touches on the model street lanterns.

In Cartago, President Laura Chinchilla received the flame that had traveled from Guatemala City and said that the biggest challenge in this, the 190th year of the country's independence, is finances. She called for sustainable public policies to keep the country on the path to development.

The country's finances are such that half of the next national budget will be borrowed money. The president is trying to enact a handful of progressive tax measures.

She said that past administrations had committed little frauds with the budget. The country has to face this
 challenge with realism and vision, she said.

The president is likely to address the same theme in her Día de Independencia speeches. She has one at 11:45 in the Museo Nacional before the diplomatic corps accredited to the county. She also plans to watch the independence day parade at Parque Central at 8:30 a.m. Followed by the traditional and annual tribute at Parque Nacional at 10 a.m. where Ms. Chinchilla is expected to deliver the major speech of the day.

A late afternoon rain let up by 5 p.m. so that the independence day activities in San José were not hampered by the weather. Hundreds showed up at Parque Central where there were a series of speeches and the lighting of a caldron from the torch of liberty. From there teams of student runners took off for Cartago two hours away and other sections of the valley with the flame.

Among those running was a team from the national police school. All were escorted by traffic police, Fuerza Pública, Cruz Roja ambulances and drivers as well as fire trucks.

People and mayor
A.M. Costa Rica photos
                     Crowd awaits the torch                                            A child and her farol               Mayor and torch


Prosecutors to claim suspect was selling off Canadian's cows
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Canadian cattleman died because he was trying to stop a man who rented his pastures from selling off his cows, according to the prosecutor in Garabito.

That was the explanation put forth Wednesday by the Poder Judicial when the agency reported preventative detention was sought against three men who are suspects in the murder of the cattleman and his long-time ranch hand.

The dead men are Jacques Cloutier, 59, identified as a Canadian, and Luis Antonio Angulo Díaz, 70, a long-time employee from La Cruz in Guanacaste. Cloutier was a major home builder in Florida and had spent many years in Costa Rica. He had a cattle operation in Osa. He and Angulo traveled to the Pacific coast to check up on cattle there. Angulo had come from La Cruz to help.

The Poder Judicial identified the suspects by the last names of Guerrero, Navarro and Torres. A summary clarified an earlier report by the Judicial Investigating Organization.


The Poder Judicial said that arrests were made Tuesday in Ipís de Goicoechea and Mata de Plátano de Turrubares.

The bodies were discovered about 5 a.m. May 14, a Saturday. Both men were in the front seats of a Toyota vehicle. Cloutier was shot in the neck and Angulo in the left ear, agents determined.

The Poder Judicial said that investigation showed that  Cloutier had a contract with Guerrero under which the Costa Rican rented pasture land for raising cattle.  Cloutier realized that in addition to renting the pasture, Guerrero was selling the Canadian's cows without his consent, the Poder Judicial said. That is why the Canadian went to  Quebrada Amarilla near Jacó to seek an explanation from the tenant.

The Poder Judicial said that prosecutors will claim that the murder was premeditated because Guerrero paid the other two men to help. The murderers killed Angulo simply to keep him from telling police about the murder, the Poder Judicial said. The case is being handled by the Juzgado Penal de Garabito.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 183

Much of drug boat's cocaine cargo might be floating in sea
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There may be 1,000 kilos of cocaine floating in the sea off Flamingo.

Law enforcement agents said that a boat captured after a day-long chase Tuesday carried 1,500 kilos of cocaine but that the crew dumped most of it in the ocean. Officials said there were a total of 500 packages recovered. The three men, all Costa Ricans, have been questioned by prosecutors in Santa Cruz, and preventative detention is expected to be sought.

The suspects were identified by the last names of Molina Molina, Membreño Mendoza and Douglas Gómez. Two live in Puntarenas Centro and one lives in Tilirán.

Casa Presidencial said that six tons of cocaine had been confiscated this year. Information stemming from arrests in Colombia say that one drug gang was sending 10 tons a month through Costa Rica.

The confiscated drugs came to San José Wednesday under heavy guard, first by air and then by truck.
drug boat
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa
The 'Don Carlos' awaits further investigation

The suspected drug boat, the “Don Carlos,” is a fishing vessel that is now tied up at the docks of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas near Flamingo. The owner, who was not on board is a Nicaraguan who has Costa Rican residency.


Workers manage to reopen
Costenera section near Jacó


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


Work crews were able to reopen a key section of the Costanera highway north of Jacó late Tuesday.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said it reestablished the section of Ruta 34 after work that took nearly all of Tuesday. The agency said 3,000 cubic meters of dirt and rock poured down on the highway after heavy rains in the area.

That is nearly 4,000 cubic yards or a pile 40 yards long, 10 yards wide and 10 yards high.

Initially only about a quarter of that amount fell, but slides continued as workmen tried to clear the road, the agency said. The slope near the road was considered very unstable when soaked. Officials will continue to monitor the section.

The section is just 2,000 feet south of the Tårcoles cemetery. The highway is in heavy use by trucks and other vehicles going north or south that do not want to pass through San José on the Interamericana highway, Ruta 1.
costanera
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
Frontend loader removed the last of the rubble from road

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For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 183

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Entrenched worshippers
raise concerns in Cuba


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A group of evangelical worshipers and their pastor say they locked themselves into their church in Cuba three weeks ago for a spiritual retreat.

The son of the pastor told reporters by telephone Tuesday the worshipers are following instructions from God to pray.  He said this is not a political protest nor a suicide pact.

But friends and relatives of the church-bound congregation have expressed fears about what could be going on inside the building and how the retreat may end.

And the controversy is further complicated by the fact that pastor, Braulio Herrera, was officially dismissed from his post last year by church leaders.

Cuban authorities sent a medical team to examine the people holed up in the church, including a number of children and four pregnant women, to verify everyone was in good health.

Authorities have also cordoned off the area, a move they say is to protect the worshipers from any incidents.  They say they are working to resolve the situation.


Top U.N. Team to Haiti
to oversee sex abuse case


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has sent a senior team to Haiti to enforce the United Nations’ zero-tolerance policy on misconduct by its personnel following the alleged sexual assault of an 18-year-old Haitian man by Uruguayan members of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Caribbean nation.

The team, led by Assistant Secretary General Anthony Banbury from the Department of Field Support, military adviser Gen. Babacar Gaye and police adviser Ann-Marie Orler, will meet with leaders of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti to support all necessary measures that it is taking to enforce zero tolerance, spokesperson Martin Nesirky told a news briefing in New York.

The team will also meet with the Haitian authorities to convey how seriously the U.N. and  Ban himself take the allegations of misconduct and sexual abuse.

“The U.N. appreciates the swift response of the government of Uruguay, including the investigation that is under way, and the government’s stated commitment to taking all appropriate disciplinary and, if required, judicial measures following the investigation,” Nesirky said.

In an open letter Tuesday,. Ban’s special representative  Mariano Fernández underscored the zero-tolerance policy, noting that the mission immediately opened a preliminary investigation as soon as it received news of the alleged abuse, ordered the confinement in their barracks of the soldiers involved, and referred the case to the Permanent Mission of Uruguay to the U.N.

According to the agreements between the U.N. and the countries contributing troops to peacekeeping missions, it is up to the authorities of those countries to shed light on such allegations. A Uruguayan team is currently in Haiti investigating the alleged attack.

“We are deeply outraged,” Fernández wrote. “Such acts are inexcusable, and they have tarnished the image of MINUSTAH. But the acts of a few should not also tarnish that of thousands of military, police, and civilian personal serving MINUSTAH and Haiti impeccably since 2004.”  MINUSTAH is the acronym of the U.S. mission.

The U.N. has a strategy to support victims of sexual exploitation and abuse “which we intend to apply,” he added, referring to legal, medical and psychosocial aid should the allegations prove true.

The 12,000-strong mission has been in Haiti since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest, and in his latest report, Ban calls for it to be extended for another year until October 2012.


U.S. court awards DuPont
nearly $1 billion over Kevlar


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. court has awarded the American chemical company DuPont $919.9 million in damages after a jury found that a South Korean company stole trade secrets.

DuPont accused Kolon Industries of striving to obtain confidential details on the manufacturing of Kevlar — a DuPont fiber used in bulletproof vests.

DuPont calls the verdict an enormous victory for global intellectual property protection. The company says the verdict sends a message to potential thieves that DuPont will pursue all legal remedies to protect such information.

Kolon denies stealing so-called trade secrets and accuses DuPont of trying to put it out of the protective fiber business. Kolon says all the information it is alleged to have stolen is public knowledge.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 183

Costa Rica Reprot promo


Latin America news
Rights group honors
48 embattled writers


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Human Rights Watch is honoring 48 writers in 24 countries for their commitment to free expression and what it describes as courage in the face of persecution.

The New York-based advocacy group on Wednesday announced recipients of the Hellman/Hammett awards of up to $10,000, which are going this year to journalists, bloggers, and novelists, as well as a singer-songwriter and a cartoonist.

Among those awarded was online activist Chiranuch Premchaiport of Thailand, who said governments cannot silence those determined to speak out.

Eight of the grantees are from Vietnam, including Nguyen Xuan Nghia, a writer and leader of the banned pro-democracy group Block 8406. He is imprisoned on a six-year sentence for anti-government propaganda.

Other countries whose citizens were honored include Afghanistan, Angola, Bahrain, Belarus, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, Thailand and Venezuela.  Additional writers were awarded in Malaysia, Singapore, Kazakhstan, DRC, Ethiopia, Gambia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

The Hellman/Hammett grants were established in 1989 by the trustees of the estate of the late American playwright Lillian Hellman. Human Rights Watch says the grants help writers targeted for expressing views opposed by their governments.

Several of the honors were given anonymously to protect the recipients.

Noncommunicable diseases
called the biggest killers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization has released its second major report in six months on the growing worldwide threat from noncommunicable diseases, especially the five biggest killers: cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and diabetes.

Coming on the eve of an international conference on chronic diseases at the United Nations in New York, the new report provides detailed country-by-country guidelines for preventing and treating these debilitating and deadly illnesses.

The World Health Organization report says cancer alone kills 7.6 million people every year, more than the number who die from HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. 

While it is the communicable, infectious diseases that get most of the attention in developing countries, the World Health Organization report notes that non-infectious, chronic diseases are the leading cause of deaths worldwide.

According to the report, the leading contributors to chronic disease are high blood pressure, high blood glucose, tobacco use, physical inactivity, and obesity. 

At the U.N. summit, world leaders hope to raise public awareness of the devastation that noncommunicable diseases have been causing across both developed and developing countries, and to discuss the best ways to reverse the rising death rates from these diseases.








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