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(506) 223-1327              Published Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 189           E-mail us   
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Top investigator wringes hands over lack of resources
Wave of home robberies claims life of policeman

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A police officer died Saturday night in the latest of a continuing wave of home invasions. The officer took four bullets when he and companions arrived at the scene of the latest home robbery, a luxury dwelling in the los Guayabos section of Curridabat.

The murder comes a little more than a day after the head of the Judicial Investigating Organization said his agency was overwhelmed by street crimes and home invasions. He said there were 212 home invasions already this year.

The four or five masked and armed men responsible for the Curridabat shooting death got away, officials said.

The dead officer was José Joaquín Chavarría Chávez, 45, a 13-year veteran of the Fuerza Pública. He suffered bullet wounds in the head, chest and right leg, according to the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

A second police officer died Sunday, but that was due to a traffic accident with a drag racer in San Carlos, the ministry said.

The ministry said the shooting death happened this way:

Chavarría was one of three officers who responded to a 911 call by car about 7:21 p.m. Saturday. All were from the Curridabat station. The officers encountered five men outside the home, and Chavarría was greeted with bullets as he got out of the car. The man died a few minutes after the Cruz Roja took him to Hospital Calderón Guardia.

The five men were able to flee, said Manuel Alemán, chief of the Fuerza Pública in Curridabat. An extensive search failed to produce suspects. The men were in a gray Toyota Yaris. Four of the men wore in blue pants and black shirts.

José Fabio Pizarro, director general of the Fuerza Pública, said that a search by police dogs located a two-way radio, a glove, a ski mask and two bulletproof vests.

Fernando Berrocal, the head of the security ministry, said that the officers need better tools. Chavarría was not believed to be wearing a vest, although some units in the ministry and in law enforcement have such equipment.

The home invaders were using large-caliber weapons, officials said.

The owner of the sprawling home was identified by the last names of Ramírez Bujera. He, his three children and a domestic employee were tied up by the home invaders, who then took some appliances
and a portable computer, officials said. The home has a high fence or portón, and Sunday two private guards were on duty there.

The director of the Judicial Investigating Organization is Jorge Rojas Vargas. He met with reporters Friday afternoon to say that he was ready to take his retirement if the agency was not given more money. He said that the 1,000 investigators cannot handle the workload and that he needs at least double that amount.

He said that there were more than 400 armed street robberies in San José alone each month for a total of 2.293 already this year.

Rojas did not mention drug crimes, but his agency has given priority to such violations. In other areas, the agency has not been successful. Rojas has had his differences with the Fuerza Pública and the security ministry when he thought certain units there were engaged in investigations, an activity reserved for his agency. The Judicial Investigating Organization is an agency of the courts and does not come under the supervision of the security ministry.

Rojas said that 12 home invasions had been solved this year.

A juvenile who was involved in the death of two persons March 21 in a home invasion got a 15-year sentence or the crime, and the Poder Judicial said Friday that the Tribunal de Casación Penal has confirmed the sentence.

That was the most publicized home invasion because it took place at the Rohrmoser home of Ricardo Toledo, a former presidential candidate. His maid and a neighbor were shot down. The youth, 16 at the time of the crime, was convicted in juvenile court July 20. The Poder Judicial said that the penalty was the maximum that could be imposed on a juvenile.

However, also last week a trial court acquitted five men who faced robbery and murder charges involving a home invasion in Puerto Viejo de Limón and the shooting death of a policeman at a Tuba Creek roadblock.

In San Carlos the fatal accident happened Sunday morning in Barrio Los Ángeles. the 30-year-old police officer, identified as Iván Ramírez Romero, was on his way home from work when he was confronted by drag racers going in the opposite direction. His vehicle was struck in the front by the other car going at a high velocity, the ministry said.

The drag racing vehicle was in the traffic lane occupied by the Ramírez vehicle, said the ministry. The driver of that car is hospitalized, and no identification was given. Ramírez had 11 years service in the Fuerza Pública.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 189

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Climate change meeting
draws heads of state today

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Heads of states from more than 80 countries are gathering in New York City for what will be the largest U.N.-organized event for world leaders on climate change. This is a preliminary meeting to work toward a new international agreement on the issue. But scientists say places like sub-Saharan Africa need more than just an agreement to really fix the problem.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he wants to build momentum to create a new climate-change agreement by 2009.

Sometimes called global warming, climate change is an increase in global temperatures believed to be largely caused by carbon-dioxide emissions.

The top U.N. climate-change official, Yvo De Boer, said that today's meeting is a chance for Africa's leaders to appeal for help.

"It will be really important for African countries to come to that meeting and to say, 'We are seeing the impact of climate change around us already," he said. "We have contributed nothing to causing this problem, and we most of all need the help of the international community to come to grip with it."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is composed of hundreds of scientists who provide the United Nations research and climate recommendations. Its most recent report says Africa is vulnerable because its low coastlands and tough crop conditions that make intense droughts and floods, two impacts of climate change, even more devastating.

They add Africa lacks technology to replace old polluting energy sources. Scientists link climate change to Africa's more intense flooding this year, which has killed hundreds, displaced more than one million people and wiped out crops and entire villages.

Discussions to create a new climate agreement will continue at the scheduled U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali in December. If created, this new agreement will eventually replace the Kyoto Protocol, in which more than 160 countries agreed to reduce how much carbon dioxide they release.

Water rates increased,
but not as requested

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The agency that fixes utility rates has shot down the water company's request for a 35 percent increase, but awarded a 6 percent increase instead.

The Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos said that  the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados had generated a surplus in the past year and that its income was more than it had computed.

The government-run water company, the biggest in the country, wanted 35 percent this year, 15 percent more next year and 10 percent for each three years after that.

Basic metered residential service will be 2,406 colons ($4.63) a month. Business service will be 9,850 (about $19). That is for the first 15 cubic meters of water.

Stagno visits African lands
seeking votes for U.N. seat

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Arias administration continues to make contact with countries with which it has not had diplomatic relations. This is part of the administration campaign for a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

The foreign ministry said that the country has established diplomatic relations with Botswana, the Republic of Congo and Uganda. It soon will do with same with Burundi, said an announcmenet.

The announcement quoted Bruno Stagno, the foreign minister, as saying unilateralism is a deadend street and that the administration is seeking multilateralism. He defined unilateralism as americanista and transatlantic.

The administration has been expanding its overseas contacts. Stagno just visited 10 African nations. Earlier Costa Rica moved its embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv so it could open relations with Muslim countries. It also dumped Taiwan in favor of the People's Republic of China.

Arias visits nearby areas
ravaged by flooding

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San Juan de Dios de Desamparados and Aserrí were among those areas hard-hit by rain and flooding Wednesday and Thursday.

Some 13 families in Desamparados lost their homes when the Río Cañas undermined the land on which they were located. This has been a continual problem in that area. President Óscar Arias Sánchez visited the affected area Friday along with Fernando Zumbado, minister of Vivienda.

Casa Presidencial said that some $760,000 would be invested to dredge the river to cut down on future flooding. In addition the government would seek to purchase land nearby to accommodate 200 families, Casa Presidencial said.

Quick delivery of cocaine.
alleged by police agents

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The next time that empty taxi breezes by, the reason might not be because the driver has a customer waiting elsewhere.
Anti-drug agents detained a man Friday. He was using a taxi to deliver drug orders to customers in Cartago.

Drug arrest in Cahuita

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 34-year-old Cahuita man, identified by the last names of Ordain Parkinson, was detained Friday in that Caribbean community, and agents said they confiscated marijauna and cocaine.

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Even backers of trade treaty are happy that Casas quit
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Supporters of the free trade treaty with the United Sates are breathing easier today now that Kevin Casas has resigned as second vice president of the country.

Casas along with legislator Fernando Sánchez sent a memo to President Oscar Arias Sánchez Sept. 6, and the contents became public. They urged the use of a fear campaign over job loss to win votes and threats of local mayors of loss of funds if they did not turn out a yes vote.

The campaign for the trade treaty quickly distanced itself from Casas, as did the Movimiento Libertario which actually called for his resignation.

Casa Presidencial announced the resignation Friday afternoon. Arias, at least in public, lamented the loss of Casas to his administration.

Costa Ricans are generally unsophisticated about advertising, so the common term fear appeal allowed those opposed to the treaty to hammer away at Casas.

Opponents, of course, have used fear appeals effectively and some organizations have gone even further to threaten violence in the streets.

Treaty opponents also have brought two U.S. lawmakers to the country to make the rounds talking about the treaty. Both are from New England and are protectionists.

One is Bernard Sanders, the only independent in the U.S. Senate. He is from Vermont, and he has said that the current U.S. trade policies, including membership in the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement, have been a disaster for American workers.

The other is Michael Michaud of Maine. His staff has conducted a study of the impact of the Central American Free Trade Treaty in El Salvador.

They met with Ottón Solís of the Partido Acción Ciudadana. They said that they believe that the U.S. will
flag waver
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
The flag-waving is not what you might think. Anti-treaty protesters Saturday brought the flag to inflame opponents. Some spat on the flag.

not punish Costa Rica even if the voters reject the trade treaty Oct. 7.

Costa Rica now benefits from the Caribbean Basin Initiative in which the United States has set up special and beneficial trade rules for these countries. One argument has been that Costa Rica does not need the free trade agreement because the bulk of its products already enjoy liberal trade treatment.

The visitors also said that they think that if Costa Rica rejects the treaty, the United states will re-negotiate it. The campaign for the free trade treaty quickly released a statement in which it noted that Sanders voted against the Caribbean Basin Initiative.

The visitors will spend three days traveling the country and drumming up votes against the treaty.

A tale of two Latins and their opposite types of egos
Todos hacemos falta pero ninguno somos indispensables.

“We all can be missed, but nobody is indispensable.” The truth of this dicho sometimes comes as a rude shock to the more egotistical among us.

The ego is a very important part of the psyche. It is from whence one draws one’s sense of his or her own worth and self-esteem. It is the root of self-confidence and, as such, can be a great motivator. But, an ego that is not tempered by the self-critical conscience of the superego soon runs amok. Few of us enjoy spending time with — not to mention working with — those more commonly know as “egotistical asses.”

Working at a major state university, as I do, I have found that academia abounds with such types, those who demand special treatment by virtue of their stunningly superior intellects.

Pray do not misunderstand, gentle reader, I have all the respect in the world for high intelligence. But, I’m yet to encounter the man or woman who is right about all things at all times and in all places. Humanity supersedes such conceits.

Recently a Chilean woman, a Fulbright scholar, came to our university to do post-graduate research. She came with her husband and young son, and has another child on the way. She had handled the rental of their local apartment and nearly everything else via the Internet before leaving Chile.

But, as you might well imagine, when she arrived nothing turned out to be quite as described on various Web sites. She immediately decided she wanted to break the lease on their apartment.

She sought my assistance, and I explained to her she would have to make a list of all the things that were wrong with the dwelling, present the list to the landlord and allow several weeks for him to make repairs. If repairs were not made she then might have grounds for breaking the rental agreement. She did not like this solution because she wanted to move immediately to a nicer place. I spelled out for her that just wanting to move to a nicer place was not considered grounds for breaking a lease in our state. She could, of course, move, but she would still be responsible for the rent on the first apartment unless she could find someone to sublet it — another unsatisfactory solution.

Now, I do like this family, and I’m sorry that the accommodations that the woman arranged for via the Internet did not turn out to be up to her expectations, but a signed contract is a signed contract. There are, of course, laws governing such things. But still she somehow felt that she should be exempted from these laws on the basis of her academic status. She has been traipsing all over town and campus trying to enlist everyone from her scholarship advisor to the city’s department of housing in her campaign to nullify the lease, but no one can (will) help her.

She is very upset and indignant and has now begun to blame the university and the city and everyone connected with them for her plight. In reality, however, the fault rests with her and her alone for signing a rental agreement

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

on an apartment she had not actually even seen. She seems shocked that the rules are the same for everyone from the most brilliant Ph.D. to the lowliest undergraduate.

Her attitude toward me, and others who have tried to help her, seems now to be that we could actually do something about her situation if we really wanted to. But the fact remains that she has lived in other countries before, such as Spain, for example, and she has managed to land scholarships, including the prestigious Fulbright. The ways of this wicked old world are not exactly alien to her. She is only frustrated because of her failure at manipulating the system and the people around her. She is what in Costa Rica we call a mañosa, a person whose principal talent is manipulating people and systems.

I remember another Latin American scholar, an Indigenous man from Ecuador named Sergio, who came to Indiana University to teach Quechua, the language of his people. Sergio was as intelligent, interesting and engaging a person as anyone I’ve ever met, but he was also totally guileless and unassuming.

I remember that once he asked me quite ingenuously why the streets have those yellow lines painted up the middle. I explained to him, of course, that the lines meant that passing was prohibited.

But this made me stop and think for a moment: I had lived in Ecuador for a time and I suddenly understood how many things in Bloomington, Indiana, must seem very strange to Sergio. He was learning English while teaching Quechua at IU. He also wanted to learn how to drive a car, and he did. When he left Indiana to return to his home in the rain forests of eastern Ecuador he had acquainted himself with many new and fascinating things.

Before he left he wanted to thank me because I had helped him to learn about and appreciate a strange and wonderful new place called The United States of America. But I said to him that it was I who needed to thank him because through him I had learned so much, and not just about Quechua and the life of Indigenous people in Ecuador, but about the U.S.A. and how better to appreciate all the wonderful things we have to enjoy here.

My world did not stop when Sergio went back to South America. He was not indispensable to my life. But sometimes I do still miss him.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 189

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Fujimori back in Peru to face corruption and murder counts
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, 69, has been extradited to Peru to face charges of corruption and human rights abuse.

Peruvian state television said the plane carrying the former president arrived in the southern Peruvian city of Tacna Saturday on its way to Lima.  Fujimori had been in Chile since 2005 and was flown to Peru from Santiago.

Chile's Supreme Court ruled Friday that he must be sent back to Peru, saying it had agreed to seven of the 13 charges filed by Peruvian prosecutors against him.
Prosecutors in Peru accuse Fujimori of corruption and sanctioning the killing of 25 people by paramilitary squads during his decade-long presidency, which ended in 2000.  He has denied the charges.

The former president had not been back to Peru since the collapse of his government.  He spent five years in exile in his ancestral homeland of Japan, then moved to Chile, where he was arrested.

He has spent the last two years fighting extradition.

Human rights groups have hailed the decision to extradite Fujimori so he can face the charges against him.

U.S. Senate Finance Committee approves final draft of trade treaty with Peru
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. lawmakers have approved a draft of a free trade agreement with Peru, two years after the accord was reached.

The Senate Finance Committee Friday voted in favor of the initial draft, clearing the way for the White House to officially submit a final version to Congress. Once that happens, lawmakers can approve or reject it, but they cannot make any changes.
The current draft of the agreement was modified earlier this year, after congressional Democrats pushed the Bush administration to include tougher environmental and labor provisions.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said in a statement Friday that she is delighted by the bipartisan vote, and she looks forward to continued pursuit of a market-opening, pro-growth trade policy.

Trade between the U.S. and Peru nears $9 billion a year.

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