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(506) 2223-1327             Published  Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 193            E-mail us
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Landing lights go into service at Juan Santamaría
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

New approach lights are functioning at the San Jose airport. The transport ministry spent $2.6 million to purchase the system from the German firm Siemens. These lights assist in landing under low-visibility conditions.

The contract was originally awarded in August 2008. Legal challenges over expropriation of land needed for the new towers caused delays, greatly increasing the cost. When the contract was formalized in February, the lights were to be ready in June. Ultimately, the start of construction was delayed until August.

An old set of landing lights has been dysfunctional since 2004 when maintenance was suspended.

The new lights are strobes that extend the distance a pilot can make visual contact with the runway. Normally on an instrument approach through fog or rain, the pilot must be able to see the lights of the runway when not more than 3,500 feet or 1,000 meters from the runway threshold. The new lights add about 900 meters to the visibility.

Virtually all arrivals to Jaun Santamaría airport
land in a northeasterly direction on Runway 07. The actual orientation of the runway is 67 degrees. 90 degrees is due east. Not coincidentally, dry season winds are usually from the east or northeast.

From Texas planes arrive over Managua and turn inland to line up with a spot about five kilometers north of the Río Tárcoles mouth, and 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) from the airport. It is also the point where planes circle if waiting for better conditions at the airport.

Flights from the eastern United States and Canada come down the east coast of Nicaragua, cross into northern Costa Rica to a navigational fix about 15 kilometers (about nine miles) north of Cuidad Quesada, and then line up with the airport at a spot slightly inland from the Tárcoles river mouth. The first point is about 25 kilometers (about 16 miles) due east of the Arenal Volcano, and, if put into a holding pattern here, the volcano would be in view from the aircraft. If there is any inclement weather in the area, it is extremely unlikely to be visible.

Departure from San José is usually from Runway 07 into the prevailing winds from the northeast. Flights to Panamá, Caracas, and Bogotá continue eastward. Sometimes in windless or crosswind conditions, a westbound takeoff is more efficient.


Drivers protest barriers to Liberia transport services
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourism transport operators in Guanacaste staged a protest Tuesday because they are being barred from Daniel Oduber airport.

One operator said that only Swiss Travel and taxis are being allowed to drop off and pick up passengers at the international airport.

The decision by the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes is similar to one that is being enforced in Alajuela at Juan Santamaría airport.  There have been protests there. too.

The Guanacaste operators staged a rolling protest where they blocked traffic into Liberia with a convoy that moved at a crawl.

"How can this be," said Denise Shantz  of Xplore
 Costa Rica Tours & Transportation.  "It's like
 saying only PriceSmart will be able to sell groceries." Her company runs a transport service form the airport to Tamarindo. She estimated that hundreds of small operators are affected.

The action in Liberia stems from a decree issued by the Consejo  de Transporte Público that appears to have been enforced as of Friday without any contact with the operators involved. Access appears to depend on the permits of the transport operators.

The operators affects appear to be not only companies that have contracts with various hotels and tourism firms but also the vans used by hotels. The drivers are being denied the right to pick up or drop off passengers under the threat of having a ministry worker remove the license plates on the vehicle.

Drivers of similar vans in Alajuela have staged several weeks of rolling protests.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 193

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
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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

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Prosecutors move forward
on Quirós helicopter case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's prosecutorial agency will let a judge decide if the head of the national electrical and telecom company should go on trial for using a helicopter for personal sue. The helicopter was rented by the agency, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. The Poder Judicial reported the action Tuesday in a press release.

The man on the hot seat is Pedro Pablo Quirós, the executive president of the agency; his wife, Ana Isabel Salazar; and an aide who seemed to have something to do with contracting the helicopter, David Barboza.

The case is not clear cutt because Quirós had business reasons to use the helicopter March 21. He visited the Cariblanco generating plant that was knocked out by the Jan. 8 Cinchona earthquake. He also visited an electrical coop's annual meeting.

The questionable visits are to the wedding of a legislative deputy's daughter in Zarcero and to the Puriscal home of the agency's general manager for a party.

The  Fiscalía Adjunta de Delitos Económicos, Corrupción y Tributarios presented the case to the  Juzgado Penal de Hacienda and alleged peculado and malversación, basically converting public property to personal use.

A preliminary hearing will determine if there is sufficient evidence to rate a full trial.


Our readers' opinions
Suggesting change no reason
to have to leave the country


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I really love A.M. Costa Rica. It’s my morning coffee. A morning friend where I can catch up on some news and opinions. I wrote a comment that was printed one time some months ago. I think the name of it was “Why does it have to be this way in Costa Rica.” It only had to do with the prices of goods here versus México. I have read the many articles pro and con about this country in which I have lived for five years now. An opinion is just what is states in definition, “an opinion.” We should have the basic intelligence to take from it what we want.

The reason I’m writing this “opinion” is to comment on a frequent comment after some published opinions. A most common comment is “If you don’t like it here, leave.”. I really abhor that comment, and I think it comes from ignorance. A lot of issues are improved by the opinion of the masses. Are we to be lifeless zombies? Some people have to be made aware of the defects that need to be improved on in their environment.

Tonight my electric has gone off a few times. Kind of disrupting, but I tolerate it and still pay my high rate of electricity to this monopoly which has appealed a recent reduction in the high rates we have here. If they lose, is it retroactive? Do I have to leave the country if I don’t like this?

I have never had a clear telephone call on my home phone for the five years that I’ve been here. There are no more good lines available due to the rusty cables. I pay my bill monthly. Do I have to leave the country if I’m not happy about this? I have a cell phone that I have spoken the words “Can you hear me now” too many times to count. I pay my phone bill monthly. Do I have to leave the country if I’m upset about this?

I can’t count the amount of times I have reported this to deaf ears.

 I just returned from the yearly Reteve requirement. I think this is a good thing and keeps a lot of unsafe vehicles off the road. A really good system I respect. As I leave happily, after passing the inspection, I put myself in peril driving from Cañas to Arenal  dodging numerous pot holes that may damage what has just been inspected. Isn’t this the main artery for tourist to come and go from or to the beach after visiting the Volcan Arenal? Do you think they need to have a safety inspection for the roads we travel in our inspected and safe cars. Do I have to leave the country if I have questions or opinions about this?

 I recently read that President Arias visited the new stadium being erected in San Jose. I would like him to visit the highways and roads here in touristy Arenal and hear his opinion. I wouldn’t tell him to “leave the country” if he had a negative comment. He just may do something about it.

Thomas Ploskina
Nuevo Arenal


Baker's expat working article
was thin and full of hearsay


Dear A..M. Costa Rica:

Garland Baker's article regarding expat labor conditions is pretty thin and appears to count entirely on hearsay and anonymous anecdotes.  "Many interviews with expates [sic]," "Most expats do not even get it until they are residents," "Many expats also feel Ticos have no sense of personal space, since they usually get too close to walk by or talk to them."

I could go on.

What Baker fails to point out is that he is referring primarily to people who are employed illegally.

A.M. Costa Rica is usually pretty direct in its condemnation of scofflaws.  What about the people who are here working *with* permits?  Why was none mentioned?  Or how about the independent business owners who are very pleased with their professions?  How about actually interviewing anyone?!?!  for the article?

Unlike illegal immigrants in many countries, the North American folks who come here to get (illegal) jobs are typically just extending a vacation (illegally).   Let's save our sympathy for folks who deserve it.
Steve Broyles
Playa Tamarindo

A link to compare cultures
from academic perspective


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
I've been reading your articles in A.M. Costa Rica for years. Thank you. I once lived for the best part of a year in Costa Rica before returning to the States for family reasons and I enjoy your perspectives.
 
I have a couple of MA's, both in communication related topics; Writing, and dispute resolution and conflict management. When I mediate, I mediate civil cases and specialize in family and multicultural/multilingual mediations.
 
I read your article about cultural differences in the workplace for expat workers and wanted to send you a reference link that might be useful for your readers.
 
Geert Hofstede is widely known as an expert in cross-cultural differences. The link is to his Web site, and specifically to a page that offers the opportunity to compare Costa Rican cultural dimensions to those of other countries. Just click on the link and then choose Costa Rica and another country. It does take a few minutes to read through the results and understand the categories of things he has called "dimensions of culture," but all of the information is there and explained quite well.
 
I'd be interested in knowing if you found the information useful, if you would consider offering it to your readers.
 
I studied this in graduate school and thought, after reading all the articles about cultural differences, that Hofstede's information might offer an additional way of framing and understanding the topic for expats, and, also, for the people who work with them.
 
Here's the link: http://www.geert-hofstede.com/
 

Understanding these perspectives of cultural difference, and learning to more easily recognize them in our day to day activities, can be very helpful. Again, thank you for all those great articles.
 
Glenn J. Scarborough

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It is hard to believe that our company telephones have been out of service  for at four weeks.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 193

Now the president rates a plaque and not a firing squad
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After they shoot you, they do not always put your name on an autopista.  Sometimes a simple plaque will do.

That is the case with  Juan Rafael Mora Porras, the president who led Costa Rica to victory during the  Campaña Nacional  in  1856 and 1857 against William Walker, the American adventurer.

The Centro de Patrimonio of the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes will be unveiling two plaques today at 9 a.m. on the site of the former president's home on Calle 2

Presdient Mora
Presdient Mora from an illustration in Harper's Weekly
just south of Avenida Central. Today marks the 149th anniversary of Mora's execution by firing squad in Puntarenas.

His brother-in-law, Gen. José María Cañas Escamilla, was honored last week on his 200th birthday. Canãs, whose name is on the autopista to Alajuela, also faced a firing squad within days of Mora.

Both men are considered heroes of Costa Rica, but both happened to be on the wrong side of the politics of the day.

Mora was president from 1849 to 1859. He professionalized the nation's army so that his troops won the battles of Santa Rosa Rivas. He also is credited with cutting off supplies to Walker from the Río San Juan, an important strategic move.

But glory is fragile, and in 1859 he was thrown out of office and exiled. Canãs went with him.

It was in 1860 when he and his brother-in-law returned to Costa Rica in an effort to make a political comeback. The Centro de Patrimonio said he was shot by his enemies who were supporters of William Walker, but the facts are a little more complex. His successor as president, Jose Maria Montealegre, seems to have had something to do with the execution.
 
The original Mora home was torn down in 1910, and a store was constructed. That later gave way to a movie house, and an original plaque was lost and then replaced. Later the existing building that now houses Escuela Boston and El Amigo Maravilloso was built on the site.

Two plaques will be unveiled today. One was found as part of the preparation for the event. It had been hidden by some electrical boxes. A new plaque will provide a little more information about Mora.

The project is greater than the Mora recognition. The Centro de  Patrimonio wants to restore that section of Calle 2. That is where the La Alhambra building is and there also are plans to restore some of the facade at key structures in the area, said the Centro.

The event today will feature officials but also the band from the  Escuela Juan Rafael Mora Porras


Bridge woes are said not to fit definition of emergency
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The bridges may be bad but they do not rate a declaration of a national emergency, according to the country's emergency commission.

The Colegio Federado de Ingeneros y Arquitectos said Monday that so many bridges have deteriorated that only a massive effort could turn the tide.

The president of the emergency commission, Vanessa Rosales, said that the condition of the bridges did not fit the legal definition of a national emergency. She cited a law that basically says that an emergency has to be the result of a natural or human cause.

The architects and engineers were speaking broadly, but the emergency commission head was not. She said that the board of directors of her organization, the Comisión
Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias, shares the concern over the bridges.

However, she said that a declaration by the executive branch of an emergency had a limited definition.

Typically after a major flood, the Presidencia declares a state of emergency so that funds can be transferred among budget lines.

Rather than an emergency declaration, said Ms. Rosales, the executive branch should address the crisis with the bridges with normal budgeting.

Transport officials agree that many bridges are in dangerous condition., They blame decades of lack of maintenance. However, officials in the Arias administration defend the work they have been doing to repair and construct new bridges.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 193


Dancing on his back
Compañía Nacional de Danza photo
No, it is not a new exercise, although one could use it that way. This is a scene from 'Bachiana 7'
Orchestra will help dancers
celebrate 30th anniversary


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional with join with the Compañía Nacional de Danza to celebrate the dance company's 30th anniversary Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The dance company will perform a presentation choreographed by Marcela Aguilar, a Costa Rican living in México. The work is "Bachiana 7." The second work, this one by Nandayure Harley, director of the Danza Joven at the Universidad Nacional in Heredia, is "Ineluctable . . . el tiempo." It is designed to show the constant changes in human beings, said the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

Th orchestra will present "A Little Night Music" by Mozart.

The shows are at 8 p.m. both Thursday and Friday and 5 p.m. Sunday, all at the Teatro Nacional.  Admission is 3,000 colons for adults ($5.15) and half that for students. The theater box office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Also available is online purchase at the Teatro Nacional Web page.




Environmental festival planned for Sunday in Pavas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sunday the Museo Nacional in Pavas will celebrate el Día Mundial del Hábitat with music, mascaradas, plays, workshops and other activities. The event is from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m.

The Pavas location for the museum is on the south side of the Hospital Nacional Psiquiátrico. Admission is free.
The purpose of the event is to encourage visitors to think about nature and consider ways to be friendly with the environment.
There also will be an exhibition of orchids, the sale of handicrafts made from recycled materials and the sale of other nature-friendly products, said the museum.

The  Grupo Artístico Yoruba will give a puppet show that stresses that trash should not be thrown in public places. The work is called “Un paseo por El Bosque Tropical."

Also on the schedule is a puppet show “Historias Cabécares," which is designed to show about life among these native Costa Ricans. A number of environrmental organizations are participating.


   
Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat is to create the perfect blend of Adventure, Discovery and Tranquility.
Enjoy Incredible Beach Sunsets and  Sunrises. With the Pacific Ocean on the awesome mountain behind.
Near the airport in the picturesque mountainous outskirts of San José with 34 modern, spacious rooms.
  



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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 193

Casa Alfi Hotel

U.N. chief demands safety
for embassy dweller Zelaya

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U. N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for the safety of ousted Honduran president José Manuel Zelaya, who remains holed up at the Brazilian embassy in the Central American nation.

Ban said Tuesday that he is deeply concerned about the developments in Honduras. He said a state of emergency has increased tensions, and called threats to the Brazilian embassy where Zelaya is sheltered unacceptable and intolerable.

The interim Honduran government had given Brazil 10 days to get rid of Zelaya, but has since pledged nothing will happen to the diplomatic mission.

The government issued a decree Sunday restricting free speech and the right to assemble and shut down two broadcast outlets it said were closely tied to Zelaya.

De facto President Roberto Micheletti has promised to reconsider reversing the suspension of civil liberties.

The U.N. chief urged that the freedoms be fully respected.

Micheletti also said an Organization of American States commission would be welcome to visit Honduras Oct. 7. Some organization officials were expelled Sunday after traveling to the country to organize talks on the political crisis.

The crisis, which began with Zelaya's June 28 removal, intensified when he slipped back into Honduras last week.

Zelaya appealed for help from the U. N. General Assembly Monday. He addressed the world body by phone, asking for help to restore law and freedoms in Honduras. He seems to want a U.N. military force to put him back in the presidency.

The interim government says it forced Zelaya out of the country, because he was trying to illegally change the constitution in order to extend his time in power.

Many Zelaya supporters have protested the ouster and the new government. Hundreds of protesters ignored the ban on unauthorized meetings Monday and gathered in Tegucigalpa, where they engaged in a tense standoff with police. Many of them had their mouths taped shut to symbolize suppression of freedoms.


Nicaraguan foreign minister
says Zelaya is murder target

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nicaragua's foreign minister, Samuel Santos López, has addressed the political crisis in neighboring Honduras, condemning the removal of President Manuel Zelaya and expressing unconditional support for the deposed government.

Speaking to the U. N. General Assembly in New York, López urged the U.N. body to be aware that there are plans to assassinate Zelaya. He did not elaborate on the alleged plots.

The foreign minister vowed not to recognize the results of what he called "any electoral farce" in Honduras. He called for the establishment of real democracy in the Central American nation.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 193



Latin American news
Chávez, Gadhafi separate
terrorist, freedom fighter

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The leaders of Venezuela and Libya are calling for a new global definition of terrorism.

Hugo Chávez and Moammar Gadhafi signed the declaration during a rally Monday on Venezuela's Margarita Island. The document says both nations reject efforts to link the legitimate struggle of people for liberty and self-determination with terrorism.

Both leaders have been accused of supporting and harboring terrorists. The United States and Colombia have charged that  Chávez has aided the leftist insurgent group FARC, which has been waging a long civil war against Colombia.

Libya has been condemned for playing a role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbee, Scotland, which killed 270 people, including 38 Americans.

But Gadhafi has sought to improve relations with the West after he abandoned his country's  weapons of mass destruction program.

Gadhafi was in Venezuela to attend a two-day summit of leaders from South America and Africa. The officials vowed to increase cooperation in such areas as defense, finance, trade, energy and agriculture.



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