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(506) 223-1327        Published Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 192       E-mail us    
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Culture ministry ready to release book containing traditional recipes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Those who love new, traditional and unique foods will have a Tico resource. The culture ministry is coming forth with the first edition of  Cocina Tradicional Costarricense.

The book includes recipes from two cooking contests. One was in 2001 in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, and the second was in Puntarenas in 2003.

This is a project of the Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural of the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes. The idea is to learn about traditional dishes and drinks from those who make them. Other contests were in Cartago, Heredia and Ciudad Colón, but those recipes will be in another book.

Cocina Tradicional Costarricense will be introduced to the public Saturday at 10 a.m. in the auditorium of the Poder Judicial in Santa Cruz. There is a parade planned at 8 a.m. Those who participated in the contests have been invited, and  Yanori Alvarez, who complied the book, says the day is of great cultural importance and it is appropriate that those who helped create the book will be there.

The heritage center recognizes that Costa Rican food differs by regions. And some of the recipes in the first book make that clear.  Gallina enchida
is a stuffed chicken more closely identified with Nicaragua.  Chicheme is a corn-based drink well known in Panamá. Guanacaste, due to its location, has strong influences from Nicaragua to the north and the world from the sea.

Scheduled to attend the book presentation are María Elena Paniagua, mayor of Santa Cruz;  Sandra Quirós, centro director;  Fernando Valera, dean of the Colegio Universitario de Puntarenas, and members of the Asociación de Desarrollo Comunal de Santa Cruz.

The ministry said that the new book contains four chapters. The first discusses pre-Columbian foods in Costa Rica, like the chayote, corn, avocado and similar as well as those foods that are appropriate for the climate, like rice, sugar cane, coffee and bananas.

It is in chapter two where the recipes from the contests will be found. As a condition of entering the contest, cooks had to provide a written recipe. Just like in the contests, the recipes may be for a dessert, a main dish or a drink.

Guanacaste recipes include vino de marañón (cashew wine),  torta de arroz (rice cake) and  sopa de cuajada (a beef bone soup). Dishes from Puntarenas include budín de higos (fig pudding), sopa de patacones (fried banana soup) and  pipián relleno con camarones (pipián squash filled with shrimp).

Correos de Costa Rica produces vivid reminder of Isla del Coco

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Where can you get a great Costa Rican souvenir for 1,800 colons, a bit more than $3?

The post office, Correos de Costa Rica, is the place. The latest set of stamps to be put on sale honors Parque Nacional Isla del Coco, and it is part of the national parks series.

Each of the 10 1809-colon stamps on each sheet features a bird, fish, dolphin or turtle found at the Pacific island.

The stamp carries the Latin name of the creature but postal authorities have printed nearby the common Spanish name.

Each animal is the work of English artist Deirdre Hyde, who spent six months on the island in 1979, the post office said.

The United Nationals proclaimed the Isla del Coco a world heritage site in 1997, and postal officials said they were making a statement in favor of conservation.

"We want the beauty, the vivacity and the color of this new collection of postal stamps to be the beginning of a campaign of consciousness toward the conservation of our national parks, conservation areas and refuges that are the future of the next generations, said Álvaro Coghi, the general manager of the postal system.

Some 200,000 stamps were printed.  The post office maintains a center for stamp collectors on the main floor of the downtown central office.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 192

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Nemagon payments OK'd
by nation's lawmakers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa voted Tuesday to compensate former banana workers who were injured by their contact with the pesticide Nemagon.

The pesticide, generically dibromocloropropane, can cause sterility and other health problems. It was manufactured by a host of multinational corporations in order to kill a small worm that keeps banana plants from bearing fruit. The worm also damages growing bananas.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros will be in charge of compensating the workers and family members who may have suffered psychological, physical or other damage. They will have to take medical examinations and men have to show that they are sterile.

The Nemagon case has been a long-standing one in Costa Rica. Periodically former banana workers would demonstrate or engage in hunger strikes.

Dow Chemical and Shell Chemical, two of the major producers of Nemagon, exported up to 24 million pounds a year from the United States during the 1960s and 1970s. The chemical was banned in the United States in 1977. Costa Rican agricultural enterprises continued to import the material until the middle of the 1980s, said a legislative source.

In addition to Costa Rica, other countries with banana plantations have groups of workers affected by the chemical.

Compensation to Costa Rican workers will be based on their injuries and how long they worked in the banana plantations. On average, each worker will get about 600,000, said a legislative source. That's about $1,150.

In addition, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social is being urged to consider providing a pension for injured workers.

Some of the workers were employed at the Estación Experimental Los Diamantes of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería in Guápiles.

OAS ambassador plans
multilateralism talk here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

John F. Maisto, the U.S. ambasssador to the Organization of American States, will be in Los Yoses Thursday to give a speech at the Instituto Interamerican de Drechos Humanos. The title of the 6 p.m. talk is why multilateralism is important in the Americas.

From his perspective, multilateralism is collaboration between the United States and other countries on matters of importance. The United States is frequently criticized for steering its own course without regard for the opinions of other countries.

Maisto is taking a trip through this area. He knows Costa Rica because he was based here during his diplomatic career.  He also will visit Panamá and Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy said.

Emergency is declared
after storm bill totalled

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Damage from heavy September rains in the cantons of  Palmares, San Ramón, Desamparados, Aserrí and Alfaro Ruiz will cost 3.7 billion colons to repair, according to the nation's emergency commission. That's about $7 million.

Officials of the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias presented this number to the Consejo de Gobierno, the presidential cabinet, Tuesday.

As a result, President Óscar Arias Sánchez and his cabinet declared a state of emergency in those areas.

Some 84,000 persons are indirectly affected by the damage, and about 950 are directly affected, commission representatives said. Some 85 homes in Desamparados, 89 in Palmares, 30 in Aserrí and seven in San Ramón are heavily damaged or destroyed.

Five major water lines, three electric lines, 14 roads, 11 bridges, three dikes and two schools also are damaged or destroyed, they said.
Daniel Gallardo, commission president, said that some 45 million colons must be invested immediately to avoid more damage. This would involve continuing to clean rivers, rebuilding roads and providing food and housing for the affected families.

Some 734 million colons ($1.4 million) has to be invested in roads alone, the commission said.
Three more presentations
planned for 'King Lear'

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three more encores of "King Lear" are planned by the British group TNT that already has given shows at the Teatro Nacional. The three additional dates will be tonight, Thursday and Friday. All shows are at 8 p.m. in the Teatro de la Danza of the Centro Nacional de la Cultura, just east of Parque España.

"Lear" is considered William Shakespeare's greatest tragedy. It was written around 1605 and involves an aging king who divides his kingdom between his two fawning daughters at the expense of a younger, third daughter who truly loves him.

General admission is 2,500 colons (about $4.80).  Students pay 1,500 colons or about $2.90.

The visit here by the British actors is a result of an accord between Café Britt and the Compañía Nacional de Danza

Pinball devices being
confiscated in capital

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San José officials are trying to confiscate every illegal pinball machine in the city, an estimated 1,500.

Officers of the Policía Municipal were out with trucks Tuesday hauling the offending machines from stores and markets. The illegal machines are those that pay a prize to those who get a winning score.

City officials are not touching machines that do not have the mechanical capability to pay off players automatically, although the payoff can be handled by the store operator.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 192

This scam required taking advantage of a free trade treaty
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Los Angeles criminal case shows that free trade agreements also open the door to sharp practices.

An Orange County, California company and its vice president pleaded guilty Tuesday to a scheme to avoid paying about $100,000 import tariffs on frozen shrimp shipped to México.

The firm is Pacific Shrimp Co., and the vice president is Tony Zavala, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.

In making the pleas both the corporate and individual defendants acknowledged that they purchased shrimp from other countries, created phony documents claiming the
seafood was harvested and inspected in the United States, and exported the seafood to Mexico without paying Mexican tariffs imposed on such products, said the prosecutors.

Mexico normally imposes a customs duty of at least 20 percent on all seafood imported into the country. However,
under the North American Free Trade Agreement, seafood grown or harvested in the United States may be imported into Mexico duty-free. In order to avoid paying tariffs on foreign seafood, Pacific Shrimp and Zavala created bogus documents with government seals to make it appear their products were harvested in the United States, when they in fact had purchased the seafood from India, said prosecutors. They are expected to be sentenced Dec. 4.

The Central American free trade agreement that is being considered in the Asamblea Legislativa here would also open the door to similar illegal practices, if approved. In effect, the agreement would create a whole new category of crimes and enforcement for Costa Rican officials who are having trouble now enforcing existing criminal laws.

Overseas companies already are setting up shop in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic where legislators already have approved the treaty. They seek to take advantage of the geography to export goods to the United States. If Costa Rica approves the treaty, officials expect a similar influx of foreign companies.

Democrats gather Saturday to organize after overthrow of president
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Democrats Abroad of Costa Rica meets Saturday in an effort to get back on track following what amounted to a coup d'état or a Latin style golpe.

The organization will seek nominations at its 10 a.m. meeting in the Holiday Inn to fill officer slots.

Five members forced the resignation of Luisa Kaufman, who had been president for about four months. One issue was her desire to recite the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance at the April monthly meeting. A few members were strongly opposed to doing that.

"I never realized there are so many people who are anti-American," Ms. Kaufman said of organization members Tuesday. She said she will not be a candidate and no longer belongs to the club.

Her ouster had all the markings of a Latin America golpe de estado. Someone made use of the club's e-mailing list to rally support. Five dissidents, all former club presidents, met together and then met with her to present a request that she resign in late July. Now, according to Ms. Kaufman, the new officers will have to obtain recognition from international Democrats Abroad.
Ms. Kaufman, a retired bilingual education teacher, hails from New York and now lives in Los Arcos de Cariari.

She has been in Costa Rica a year and a half. She said she did not think that saluting the flag at a meeting of a U.S. political group would be controversial. Even the Amish and other groups who avoid politics stand and show respect to the U.S. flag or standards of other nations, she said.

So she said she was surprised when some Democratic club members stayed seated during the pledge at what would turn out to be the last meeting she directed.

Jo Stuart, a former president who wanted Ms Kaufman to resign, said that the flag salute turned out to be a little thing. She was more critical of the style in which Ms. Kaufman directed the meetings. Ms. Kaufman is a very powerful woman but she just would not listen to advice, said Ms. Stuart, who also is a columnist with A.M. Costa Rica.

Ms. Kaufman was ousted formally by a vote in late August at a meeting called by the provisional officers.

Nominations will be made Saturday for a vote to be taken later, said Ms. Stuart.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 192

Global temperatures reported nearing a million-year high
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. research team says global temperatures are reaching a million-year high point, and could surpass that peak in coming decades if current global warming trends continue. The scientists say there is still time to combat the swift rise in temperatures, and to delay or even prevent the potentially devastating consequences of global warming, but that time is running out.

The researchers say global temperatures have been rising by 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade over the last 30 years. They say the rate of increase could accelerate in coming decades if global energy consumption continues to rise, resulting in ever-larger amounts of so-called "greenhouse gasses" being released into the atmosphere.

One researcher is David Lea, a professor of earth science at the University of California at Santa Barbara and co-author of "Global Temperature Change," a report published by the National Academy of Sciences.

Lea, who teamed with researchers from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, helped derive temperature estimates going back hundreds of thousands of years by studying the chemical content of fossilized microbes. The results, compared with today's temperature readings from land, sea and air, are startling.

"There is only, essentially, one time period about 400,000 years ago when temperatures appear to have been significantly — in this case about one degree Celsius — warmer than they are today. So, it becomes a very interesting baseline, or metric, for comparison of just where we are in terms of our global temperatures today compared
to where we have been over the last million years," he said.

If current warming trends continue, the earth would surpass the million-year temperature highpoint at some point near the middle of this century.

Lea acknowledges that a 0.2 degree temperature rise over a decade may sound trivial to some.

"Point two degree Celsius per decade does not sound that dramatic in the human context of what we experience every day or every season [in temperature variation]. But when we look globally, that is actually quite significant," he said.

The researcher says even minute temperature changes can have drastic consequences. "The melting of the icecaps in, specifically, Greenland and West Antarctica, and the potential to raise sea levels on the order of several meters maybe up to even tens of meters is the thing that we are most concerned about," he said.

Lea also warns of the potential for plant and animal extinctions on a massive scale, as well as more severe weather phenomena, such as hurricanes. The report concludes that, unless greenhouse gas emissions are scaled back over the next 10 years, some of the negative consequences of global warming could become unavoidable.

After years of debate, the scientific community appears to have reached a consensus that global warming is a reality, not just a theory. What remains a point of contention for some is the extent to which climate change is occurring and the degree to which human activity is affecting it. President George Bush has urged further study of global warming before implementing any costly measures.

Cali cocaine cartel founders plead guilty to U.S. drug trafficking charges
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two Colombian brothers who built the world's largest cocaine smuggling empire pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges Tuesday in federal court in Miami. The guilty plea was the culmination of a federal investigation that spanned two decades.

Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and his brother Miguel founded the Cali cartel, named after their home city in the South American country of Colombia. They pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle more than 200,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States.

The brothers, both in their mid-60s, were sentenced to 30 years in prison, under a deal that spares several of their relatives from prosecution. One of the brothers' defense attorneys, Roy Kahn, said they sacrificed for their families:

"The brothers are happy that their families are taken care of and to them, whether it's 30 years, 20 years or 15 years, to them it's going to be a lifetime in jail. But they are willing to do that for their families' future and their families' welfare," he said.
The plea agreement will allow the families to keep some of their wealth that was not tainted by drug profits, such as real estate in Spain. But the brothers agreed to forfeit more than $2 billion of assets bought with illicit drug money.

The brothers insisted they would not cooperate with authorities on other Colombian drug-trafficking investigations.

John McKenna, a special agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said the sentencing of the Cali brothers has tremendous significance: "The impact of this plea agreement and also the subsequent sentencing is that justice is served to the founders of one of the largest and most powerful drug organizations the world has ever seen. The Cali cartel, as we once have known it, is out of business for good," he said.

Prosecutors said the Cali cartel found creative ways to smuggle cocaine into the United States and other countries. They hid the drugs in hollowed-out concrete posts, in ceramic tile, and even in coffee and frozen vegetables. At the height of their empire in the 1990s, they were the world's top supplier of cocaine.

U.S. envoy says that Venezuela's foreign minister was engaged in street theater
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is dismissing charges by Venezuela's foreign minister that he was mistreated by New York airport security, calling the diplomat's protest "street theater."

The U.S. envoy, John Bolton, said Monday there was no incident at the John F. Kennedy Airport, where Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro was detained by authorities Saturday. Maduro says officials frisked and physically threatened him.
Bolton said Maduro purchased his plane ticket in a time and manner that raised security concerns, and instead of complying with a secondary screening, Bolton said Maduro called reporters about the incident.

Bolton labeled Maduro's actions propaganda.

Maduro rejected a U.S. apology for the incident, which capped a tense week for U.S.-Venezuelan relations. At the U.N. General Assembly last week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President George Bush "the devil."

Shakira shakes her way to five nominations for Latin Grammy awards
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombian singer Shakira has topped the list of nominations for the top awards for Latin-American music in the United States.

The singer, known for her hip-shaking dance moves, garnered five nominations for the Latin Grammys, announced Tuesday in New York.  Her nominations include Song of the Year, Best Short Form Music Video and Record of the Year.

She will compete with Guatemalan singer-songwriter
Ricardo Arjona, whose four nominations include Record of the Year and Song of the Year. 

Other top nominees are Argentine guitarist and singer Gustavo Cerati, and Mexican singer-songwriter Julieta Venagas, each of whom got four nominations.

New to this year's awards is a category for Best Cumbia-Vallenato Album, a style based on Colombian folk music.

The seventh annual Latin Grammy awards will be presented November second in New York.

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