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(506) 2223-1327       Published Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 190       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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Today he is at the United Nations
Arias promotes favorite projects at new Peace Forum

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's president pushed his three favorite initiatives Tuesday at the inauguration of a new agency of the Organization of American States.

The venue in Washington, D.C., was the  Inter-American Peace Forum, and Óscar Arias Sánchez promoted his plan to have developed countries forgive the debt of those developing nations that reduce military spending and spend more on social development.

He also promoted his initiative before the United Nations to create a treaty over the transfer of weapons throughout the world.

Finally Arias promoted his Peace with Nature plan and noted that Costa Rica now is a country with more trees per capita and per square kilometer than any other in the world and that Costa Ricans planted five million trees in 2007 and propose to plant seven million in 2008.

Later he met with private groups in New York in search of more funds for conservation here.

Arias was the keynote speaker at the new Peace Forum, and some suggested that this is where he would head when his term finishes in May 2010.

Considering the current world economic crisis, Arias is unlikely to get many national debts forgiven, although he made a strong pitch in Spain last week for a $35 million deal. The United States has forgiven $26 million.
His arms treaty, if approved by the United Nations and various countries in the world, mainly would only provide a mechanism for keeping better track of where weapons are being sold.

However, in his talk Arias said that Latin America sees 42 percent of the gun murders in the world even though it has just 8 percent of the world population. He said that neither terrorists, drug traffickers or street gangs would have power if they were not backed by the force of their weapons. He admitted that approving the treaty would not wipe out these groups.

Arias also noted that Latin Americans pay 14 percent of their gross domestic product for security. This is a statistic from the United Nations Development Programme. He said this expenditure was a major barrier to development. He said that resources should be allocated to combat criminality, but he said resources should be allocated to combat the causes of criminality.

This is a recurring theme in the Arias administration that even found its way into the proposed legislation to boost citizen security: That the environmental causes of crime are paramount.

Arias said that countries need more hospitals, schools, housing, recreation centers and more sports and culture.

Arias will speak at the United Nations today where most of the world's leaders will share the podium. George Bush spoke Tuesday, as did Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

69-year-old U.S. woman raped by intruder at home
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man forced his way into the home of a 69-year-old U.S. citizen Friday and raped her in an early morning crime.

Investigators have detained a man with the last names of Mairena Obando, and a judge has jailed him for two months investigation, according to the Poder Judicial.
The crime happened about 5:30 a.m. on Playa Hermosa in Osa, a court spokesperson said.

The woman was able to get aid after her attacker fell asleep, said the Poder Judicial.

The woman lives alongside a construction site where the suspect has been employed, said the spokesperson. There was no identification of the woman involved.

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Second newspage

Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 190

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Our readers' opinions
Panama lured him
but prices kept him

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I moved from Clearwater, Florida, to retire in Costa Rica. I had to leave after 90 days for 72 hours.

I choose to visit Panamá. For all the reasons I retired in Costa Rica, I found all to be better in Panamá. Your government blames English-speaking people for high prices and any other negative in Costa Rica. They blame the Nicaraguans and Colombians for the crimes. The greed of those in control of your government is the reason for the increase in living expenses.

The attitude of your judicial system encourages petty crime. It is easy to blame a scapegoat for your failures as opposed to accepting the responsibility of your shortcomings and correcting same.

Many people in Panamá came here after living or visiting Costa Rica. The future will see the retirees from the U.S.A. coming to Panamá. This has already started.

Your failure to put into effect the trade agreement shows your backward attitude. I do not speak for anyone but myself, and I say that this would benefit Ticos far more than the other countries involved.

I bought a pair of leather shoes in Panamá this past Christmas for $14. The same shoe {same style, same brand} in Costa Rica $37.50. I bought a pair of Cargo jeans in Panamá for $4.99. The same exact jeans in Costa Rica $17.95.

The merchant is not putting this difference in price in his pocket. It is the tariff on these necessities that makes the difference in price. What a shame that those in charge of your government chooses to exploit the people of Costa Rica.

Joe Estep

Criminals may seek out
less speedy locations

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Regarding the speedy trial for those caught in the act:

The problem with this idea, while welcome, is that it will not be immediately applied to the entire country. As conceived by the government and reported by your paper, this may very well have the undesirable result of driving the malos out of San Jose and into the tourist regions.

I live near Dominical, and we are already seeing increases in crime here recently. The anticipated completion of the Coastanera from Quepos to Dominical will, we fear, bring more of the bad elements here from Jacó and Quepos.

This new idea will be welcomed more here if steps are taken to ensure that it is rolled out over the entire country as quickly as they get the problems resolved. Otherwise, it will merely move the problems somewhere else and exacerbate the crime in the outlying tourist areas.
Dennis Garber
San Isidro

Most problems do not
show up in travel books

Dear  A.M. Costa Rica:
Bob Shakerdge had a lot of it correct re: living in Costa Rica!  As a retired U.S. expat living in Costa Rica now for 5 years, we have seen costs go up and up. -The 10 to 12 percent inflation is never mentioned in the travel books nor are most of the real problems attendant to living in this lovely country.

My book "Sidewalks in the Jungle, What it's REALLY like to live and retire in Costa Rica" is on the shelves in the U.S. and at But there is a lot of enjoyment about living here also. Just don't expect too much!  And learn to laugh at the frustrations. Pura vida!
Alfred Stites

All that local garbage
just goes downstream

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Re: your article "Beach trash and plastic becoming a bigger concern."

The issue is much bigger than indicated.  Everyone upstream of Esterillos, for example, throws their garbage in the nearest stream, and, voila! it disappears.  Or so it seems to all my Tico neighbors in the mountains above Esterillos.

How to educate Tico campesinos about ecology?  No way. There are no municipal garbage trucks picking up garbage or recyclables out in the countryside.  Most campesinos have no vehicle to take garbage or recyclables to an approved site  even IF THEIR WERE ONE NEARBY, and there aren't.

The options are (1) continual digging of garbage pits til you have no land left or (2) throw it in the stream and it disappears: out of sight, out of mind.

A more long-range plan would be to ban plastic bags in the supermarkets (or charge for them) and non-deposit bottles .  But what about the plastic bottles for the pesticides and the herbicides and all those plastic sacks leftover from fertilizer?

My neighbors dump them all in the stream, they go to Esterillos.
 Jim Veeder
Above Esterillos

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Costa Rica
third newspage

Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 190

Cell phone bribery figure gets 30 months in U.S. prison
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A former Alcatel CIT executive got 30 months in prison Tuesday for engaging in an elaborate bribery scheme to obtain a mobile telephone contract from the state-owned telecommunications company in Costa Rica.

The man admitted making more than $2.5 million in bribe payments to Costa Rican officials, in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

He is Christian Sapsizian, 62, who is expected to be a key witness in Costa Rica against former president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echervarría.

Sapsizian also was also ordered by the Judge Patricia A. Seitz of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami to forfeit $261,500, to serve three years of supervised release and to pay a $200 special assessment.

Sapsizian, a French citizen, pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the federal anti-corruption law March 20, 2007. As part of his plea, Sapsizian agreed to cooperate with U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials in the ongoing investigation. The assistance provided by Sapsizian in ongoing criminal investigations was taken into consideration by the court at sentencing, said the U.S. Attorney's Office in southern Florida.

According to information contained in plea documents, until Nov. 30, 2006, Alcatel was a French telecommunications company whose American depositary receipts were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. According to plea documents, Sapsizian was employed by Alcatel or one of its subsidiaries for more than 20 years and
at the time the corrupt payments were made, was the assistant to the vice president of the Latin American region for Alcatel.

Sapsizian admitted that between February 2000 and September 2004, he conspired with Edgar Valverde Acosta, a Costa Rican citizen who was Alcatel’s senior country officer in Costa Rica, and others to make more than $2.5 million in bribe payments to Costa Rican officials to obtain a telecommunications contract on behalf of Alcatel.

According to information in plea documents, the payments were made to a board director for Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, known as ICE, which was responsible for awarding all telecommunications contracts. The director has been identified in Costa Rica as José Antonio Lobo,

Sapsizian also admitted that the ICE official was an advisor to what U.S. officials called a senior Costa Rican government official and that the payments were shared with that senior official. The senior official was the president, prosecutors here will allege.

The payments, funneled through one of Alcatel’s Costa Rican consulting firms, were intended to cause the ICE official and the senior official to exercise their influence to initiate a bid process which favored Alcatel’s technology, Sapsizian admitted, and to vote to award Alcatel a mobile telephone contract. According to plea documents, Alcatel was awarded a mobile telephone contract by ICE in August 2001 valued at $149 million.

The scandal also touches former president Abel Pacheco whose election campaign took $100,000 from Alcatel despite prohibitions against donations by foreign entities.

Tiliran damage
Floods dumped tree trunks on an access road.

Tilaran pipe
Acueductos y Alcantarillados photos
This is the spot where the river wrecked the water main
Downpour wrecks water distribution system in Tilarán
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A torrential downpour Saturday night inflicted heavy damage on Tilarán and vicinity and knocked out water service to some 9,950 people, according to a national water company worker.

Although water service has been restored, the company employee said that efforts still were being made to purify the system. Some residents said they were getting chocolate colored water.

The employee, Ronald Rodríguez Barquero of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, said two lines were knocked out.

One was a 25-centimeter (nearly 10-inch) pipe that crossed the Río Santa Rosa. Surges of water took out about 13 meters (about 42 feet) of this pipe, he said. Another pipe of some 20 centimeters (about eight inches) that carried water from another source suffered damage when a retaining wall collapsed, he added.

From early Sunday on workmen repaired one line and also 
checked out the pumping station at the older of two water sources, said Rodríguez. The pumps also suffered damage.
Then began the long process of cleaning the contaminated lines, storage tanks and other parts of the system.

By Tuesday, Rodríguez said that most of the lower part of the town again had service, although water still was being distributed in tankers to residents in higher elevations.

The replacement line that now is in service is above ground and unprotected, and a wall needs to be constructed to safeguard it, Rodríguez said. He said he feared another storm could take it out.

Workmen are now cleaning the access to another source that must be brought back into service to provide water for the rest of the community, he said.

Company employees are going through the town with loudspeakers to alert residents that they should not use tap water until the system is fully cleaned.

Rodríguez said that much of the town, including houses, roads and bridges, had suffered damage from the heavy rains.

U.S. Commerce secretary
to be luncheon speaker

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican-American chamber of commerce says it will host the U.S. secretary of Commerce at a lunch Oct. 1. The secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, is heading a business development trip with U.S. executives to Costa Rica.

The session will be in the Hotel Doubletree Cariari by Hilton, starting at 12:30 p.m., said a chamber announcement.

Gutierrez, a native of Havana, Cuba, was instrumental in passage by the U.S. Congress of the free trade treaty with Central America. He makes frequent trips to generate business worldwide for U.S. firms.

He is the former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Kellogg Co.

The chamber, known as Amcham for short, also is celebrating its 35th anniversary. The organization will hold a benefit gala at the Hotel Real Intercontinental Oct. 29, hoping to raise $35,000 for the Torre de la Esperanza of the Hospital Nacional de Niños.

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fourth news page

Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 190

New corruption index links poverty, failed states and graft
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, released Tuesday, highlights the fatal link between poverty, failed institutions and graft, the organization said. Somalia and Iraq are among those showing the highest levels of perceived corruption,

“In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play,” said Huguette Labelle, head of Transparency International. “The continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world’s societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated. But even in more privileged countries, with enforcement disturbingly uneven, a tougher approach to tackling corruption is needed.”

The Transparency International index measures the perceived levels of public-sector corruption in a given country and is a composite index, drawing on different expert and business surveys. The 2008 corruption index scores 180 countries (the same number as the 2007 CPI) on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean).

Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden share the highest score at 9.3, followed immediately by Singapore at 9.2. Bringing up the rear is Somalia at 1.0, slightly trailing Iraq and Myanmar at 1.3 and Haiti at 1.4.
While score changes in the Index are not rapid, significant changes are evident in certain countries from the high to the low end of the index. Looking at source surveys included in both the 2007 and 2008 Index, significant declines can be seen in the scores of Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives, Norway and the United Kingdom, said the organization.

Similarly, significant improvements over the last year can be identified in Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tonga and Turkey, said the organization.

Costa Rica shares 47th place with Malaysia, Hungary, Jordan and Cape Verde. Costa Rica has third place among Latin nations after Uruguay and Chile, which are in 23rd place.

The country was ranked 55th in 2006 and seventh among Latin nations.

Neighbor Nicaragua is in 134th place with Pakistan and the Ukraine.

Across the globe, stronger institutions of oversight, firm legal frameworks and more vigilant regulation will ensure lower levels of corruption, allowing more meaningful participation for all people in their societies, stronger development outcomes and a better quality of life for marginalized communities, said Transparency.

New hotel at Forum business park will carry the Indigo name
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

InterContinental Hotels Group has announced the first Hotel Indigo property in Central America. The property is expected to open in the first quarter of 2009 in Santa Ana.

Originally announced in February 2007 as the Holiday Inn Express San José Forum, the project was modified to become a Hotel Indigo, following the success of the brand in North America, including Canada and Mexico, the company said.

Hotel Indigo San Jose Forum Costa Rica will be within walking distance to Forum Business Park I and II and adjacent to the Autopista Próspero Fernández.
Currently, InterContinental Hotels Group is represented in Costa Rica by the Real InterContinental Hotel & Club Tower Costa Rica, the Crowne Plaza Corobici San Jose, the Holiday Inn San Jose – Aurola and the Holiday Inn Express San Jose Airport, which is expected to open next month.

The 100-room Hotel Indigo San Jose Forum Costa Rica is owned and will be managed by Prime Holding, under a license agreement with a company in the InterContinental Hotels Group.

Located at Diagonal al Centro Empresarial Forum 2, the three-story Hotel Indigo will have a bar, several small meeting rooms, a fully equipped business center, an outdoor pool and a fitness studio, said the company.

Hugo Chávez is visiting China to sign agreements on economic cooperation
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez is in China to sign agreements on economic cooperation. China has released few details on the deals so far. Chávez arrived in Beijing Tuesday for a three-day visit.

Before arriving, Chávez said it was likely the two countries would agree to replenish a $6 billion joint development fund. China and Venezuela also are working out plans to construct oil tankers and at least one oil refinery in China. About 4 percent of China's imported oil comes from Venezuela.

The Venezuelan leader wants to increase exports to China, in part to lower his country's dependence on the U.S.

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu on Tuesday would not confirm any deals, including a report that Chávez will buy Chinese military planes. She indirectly indicated that China is not interested in becoming involved with Venezuela's often tense U.S. relationship.
She said China-Venezuela relations are normal state-to-state relations that China is willing to continue developing on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. She said China-Latin America relations do not have any ideological tint, do not target any third party, and do not influence any other country's relations with Venezuela.

Jiang had earlier said Chávez would meet with President Hu Jintao.

Venezuela sells about 60 percent of its oil to the United States. But Chávez opposes the U.S. and often is very confrontational with U.S. officials.

Tensions now are high between the two governments after Chávez expelled the U.S. ambassador and flaunted military ties with Russia, including military exercises in the sea off Venezuela. Chávez stopped in Cuba, an ally, on his way to China.

After his visit to China Chávez will meet Russian leaders in Moscow before heading to Belarus, France, and Portugal.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 190

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This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

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Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

Suspected drug boat
caught in Pacific waters

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The USS De Wert, while on patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, intercepted a fishing vessel carrying over three metric tons of cocaine Saturday.

The crew of the De Wert, a helicopter from Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 46 Detachment One, and U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment 101 intercepted the fishing vessel at night and captured seven suspected narcotics smugglers and the large cargo of cocaine with an estimated import value of $96 million.

While De Wert was coming alongside the fishing vessel experienced a mechanical problem coastguardsmen and the ship's crew were deployed to render assistance and to ensure the safety of the vessel’s crew, said the U.S. Southern Command.  Subsequent to the rendering of assistance, a search of the vessel revealed 145 bales of cocaine.

This seizure comes just a week after sailors from USS McInerney and coastsguardsmen aboard intercepted a self-propelled semi submersible in the Eastern Pacific Ocean carrying over seven metric tons of cocaine.

De Wert, with the home port of Mayport, Florida., is deployed in Latin America under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, U.S. 4th Fleet. It is conducting anti-trafficking operations.

Passenger train kills man
riding bicycle on tracks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A  man on a bicycle died Tuesday about 6 p.m. when he was struck by the valley passenger train near the Cementerio Obrero in west San José.

The westbound train contained cars full of rush hour passengers. The site also is near the south side of the open air wholesale produce market

The man, who had not been identified, was the first bicyclist to fall victim to the train. A woman pedestrian died one morning while crossing the tracks.  Cars and buses have been involved in crashes because the train runs at street level and in downtown San José it travels along Avenida Central.

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us

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