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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 195                          Email us
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Jo Stuart

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Calle Chino
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson

Just watch

your step

Walking along the construction site that will become Calle Chino is a chore. The stores located there generally report lower sales and other problems as a result of the construction. This is the former Paseo de los Estudiantes that is being turned into a pedestrian mall with financial support from the People's Republic.

Our story is


Nine earthquakes kept the country bouncing Sunday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country experienced nine significant earthquakes Sunday. Six of them were along a new fault that has appeared in the vicinity of the Isla Calero in extreme northeast Costa Rica.

A quake estimated at 3.8 magnitude took place at 9:20 p.m. at a point about 4.6 kilometers east northeast of Nosara on the far Pacific coast, said the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica. That is about three miles. That was near where a 7.6 magnitude quake took place Sept. 5. Since then thousands of smaller quakes have taken place in the area. There also was a 2.9 magnitude quake at Vara Blanca north of the Central Valley.

The Isla Calero quakes took place between 10:06 a.m. and 8:08 p.m.
more quakes
Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica graphic
Arrows show locations of the nine Sunday quakes.

Bello Horizonte home invader gets 56-month term
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One man who was held after a botched stickup and hostage situation in Bello Horizonte, Escazú, has admitted his role.

The man, identified by the last names of Rodríguez Ramírez received four years and eight months imprisonment at the Tribunal de Juicio de Pavas.

He was one of four men who engineered a stickup of the home last Jan. 23. Injured in the daytime home invasion was Tom Sweeney, who operates a
matrimonial service at the location. Also held hostage was a coworker, Jeannette Álvarez.

The bandits did not realize that a plumber was working in the house, and he called police.

When police arrived there was a standoff for five hours. Sweeney had been beaten around the face.

Rodríguez submitted to an abreviated proceeding in which there was no trial. He admitted to attempted aggravated robbery and depriving persons of their liberty.

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Our readers' opinions
Voting is more important
than continuing to complain

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Re: James Middlebrooks: U. S. Media Conspires with Cable Tica?

Personally, I don’t know, or care about, Fox News, and if Middlebrooks canceled his subscription for that reason, that is his right as a consumer! 

I’d like to comment, though, that if the mainstream media in the U.S. are all for the Democratic ticket, then perhaps so are mainstream Americans.  And that is what the U.S. is about isn’t it: Majority rule, middle America?

$7 gallon gasoline, where?   Don’t think so, at least not in the contiguous 48. On last reading, gasoline was around $3.86 a gallon in the states.  Perhaps Middlebrooks should spend time checking his facts before making ludicrous statements.

To plagiarize a bit, “God help” the Republican party if Middlebrooks has not applied for his absentee ballot.  He can lament all he wants about politics in the States, but if he hasn’t taken the necessary steps to vote, then he should sit back and enjoy his Sky TV, (particularly in this rainy season), from his Cariari armchair.
Darlene Mokrycki   

Fox news has become
Cable Tica digital channel

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

According to a Cable Tica rep, Fox News was not dropped. Rather it was moved to an extra cost item for $4 per month in the digital category which requires a special box. You have to sign a new contact and pay. They just removed it from non-digital service without prior notice. Nasty.
Joseph Lassiter
Playa Hermosa

Romney would follow Bush
in taxing the middle class

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

James Middlebrook's paranoid rant in your Friday edition is a mindless, blind repetition of right wing-nuts. Bush started two wars and cut taxes for the rich. Who cuts taxes amid two wars?  That's like a man going on a drunken spending spree while
quitting his job. If we get Romney. we'll have more of the same. Same ideology -- soak the middle class, cut taxes for the rich -- same result.
Joe Barnett
Turrialba /Omaha

Obama is seeking votes
 by giving stuff for free

Dear AM Costa Rica:

For more than 20-years I worked for a contractor that supported the U.S. government. Whenever I went to a government office early in the morning I saw many government workers milling around, drinking coffee and talking when they should have been working.

Presently, millions of Americans are not willing to do what it takes to support themselves. They want the government to provide. They feel it is owed to them. Obama is not interested in holding people accountable. He is more interested in giving them stuff in return for their votes. The single most distinctive characteristic of Obama is his complete lack of any personal sense of shame.

If you think lower income wage earners should not pay federal income taxes and should spend the rest of their lives on welfare, food stamps, and other handouts (get stuff they didn’t work for — free stuff), and you want America to be an other European country, please, vote for Obama.
Al Almeida
Nuevo Arenal

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
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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on archived pages.

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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 195
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Calle Chino
A.M. Costa Rica/Kalya Pearson
Shoppers have to negotiate piles of dirt, heavy machinery and gravel where sidewalks once were.
Business owners have to grin and bear it along Calle Chino
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Business owners along Paseo de los Estudiantes say that the transformation of the boulevard to Calle Chino has caused them to suffer economically.

Since the construction started in February, many stores have seen a decrease in sales.  This is mainly because customers are unable to freely walk up and down the street.

“At one time we couldn’t sell because of the construction,” said Keidy Fenseca at Expendio Bimbo, a convenience store on the walkway.  “No persons could pass in front of our store.”

Persons who do brave the trip have to walk across uneven gravel, step over rocks and broken concrete and maneuver around workmen operating large pieces of machinery.  This has store workers also worried about safety.

There is a lot of dust in the air from the work,” said José Miranda Vargas at the local optical store.  “The whole thing is affecting the health of the people. "

Many of the businesses have been in the area for more than a decade.  For this reason it is important for the owners to persevere despite the obstacle. 

Milenio, a 12-year-old store, has only closed three days out of the seven-month period.  Employees have employed a
 marketing strategy where they engage with pedestrians as they walk by to get them to come inside the store, said the cashier.

Despite the overall consensus of struggle, there are some stores that have witnessed no effect from the change.  A string of new stores that opened two weeks ago in the first block of the boulevard has had success from the attraction of the new archway, said an employee at Eskimo ice cream shop.

Also specialty stores such as Macrobiotica Consultorio Homeopático has not had any changes in business.  This is linked to the fact that the store is a doctor’s office and has a database of frequent clients, said Leticia Bookles.

However, not every store has been this lucky, and two stores in the same block as the Consultorio closed permanently two months ago, she said.

Nevertheless, things are getting better as the parts are completed, and shop personnel are confident that in the end business will be higher than before.

“Once people have the opportunity to walk and see the stores, they will come,” said Martha Alvares Garcia at Lavanderia La Renaciente, a dry cleaning store.

The project is being strongly backed by San José Mayor Johnny Araya with funding from the People's Republic of China. Completion is expected in February.

Pedestrian walkway replaces
boats at site of downed bridge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Transport officials have replaced the collapsed bridge over the Río Sucio with a 120-meter (394-foot) pedestrian walkway.

The bridge collapsed during the Sept. 5 earthquake, and the Cruz Roja and other agencies have been providing daily boat service for the estimated 3,000 agricultural workers who have to cross the river at that point.

The pedestrian walkway is just a temporary measure. The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad  is working on one of those prefabricated bailey bridges to replace the fallen span. They said they expect to have the new bridge up by the middle of this month.

The location is on Ruta 507 in Sarapaquí. The boats only ran from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., so those who worked in the pineapple and banana plantations had to judge their time carefully. The location is far from the Pacific coast epicenter of the Sept. 5 quake, but officials said that the lateral movement doomed the old bridge.

Meanwhile, the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte said it has completed a bridge over the Río Burío at La Fortuna. The new span is two lanes, and the older one-lane bridge will continue in use, said the ministry.
new bridge
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
 This pedestrian walkway replaces more than three weeks of
 a local boatlift.

Del Rey nightlife

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous
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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 195
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Starbuck's generating fans
even among Costa Ricans

By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a place in Escazú along Ruta 27 where a U.S. expat cannot help but sense an atmosphere that seems familiar.

From the chain restaurants like Hooters and Outback Steakhouse, to the international hotel chains like Holiday Inn and the InterContinental, to the sprawling Multiplex shopping center, a Gringo can scarcely glance in any direction without seeing a business imported from the United States.

However, perhaps the most familiar store of all has made its way to Costa Rica. Its inescapable green and white siren tempts passersby with coffee, treats and frappuccinos.

The store, of course, is Costa Rica’s first Starbuck's, which sits between Hospital CIMA and the Residence Inn. Locals and expats alike have adopted it in the same way that people in the United States did decades ago.

Brita Trepos is an assistant manager at the new Starbucks in Escazú. She said that Starbucks has a culture that makes it different from any other café in Costa Rica. That culture is one of personalized customer service.

“Starbucks is the only one to give you whatever you want,” said Ms. Trepos. “That is our best offer.”

The international coffee production company and coffeehouse chain Starbucks, is virtually impossible to avoid in any U.S. city. The company opened its first store in 1971 in the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington. It now has almost 18,000 stores in 60 countries according to the company’s Web site.

Regardless of location, the company strives for consistency in as many aspects as possible, and Escazu’s new Starbucks coffeehouse is no different.

Upon entering this Starbucks, customers are hit with the same familiar coffee smell that only seems to be around Starbucks. It has the same green umbrellas on its patio table, the same wood grain tables, chairs, floors and surfaces, the same colorful messages on a chalkboard at the entrance, and, most importantly, the same sandwiches, treats and drinks.

For Ms. Trepos, the consistency of the drinks and the ability for patrons to customize those drinks, is the primary element that sets Starbucks apart.

“When you come to Starbucks, your experience of the product is unique because it’s your choice,” she said.
Starbuck montage
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
 The only difference is that Starbuck's welcome board is in
 Spanish. And Brita Trepos is prepared to serve a special
 brew featuring coffee that comes from Tres Rios.

The ability to personalize drinks brings just as much of a variety of people in Escazú as it does in the United States. A
group of U.S. expats met with their coffees Friday to discuss business in the front of the store. A young Tico couple sat close together in a corner while they shared a pink frappuccino. Nurses from the hospital wait in line alongside girls with shopping bags in hand.

A group of middle-aged Costa Rican men taking a coffee break listed the ambience, the presentation and the quality of the product as reasons why they came to Starbucks and not somewhere else. They became acquainted with the coffee in the United States and have easily adjusted since the new place opened, they said.

Another group of expats came to Starbucks to talk about business. They said that the atmosphere makes it one of the better places to have a conversation, but it is especially so for professional meetings.

“If you’re trying to do business, Starbucks is a little more conducive, a little more adult,” said Mark Denton.

Although customers familiar with Starbucks in the United States will find it very similar to every other they have seen, Costa Rica’s Starbucks has a few products that cannot be found anywhere else.

In addition to Costa Rica mugs and thermoses, the store also sells a blend of coffee that is made only from Costa Rican beans. The beans come from the Bella Vista coffee plantation in Tres Rios.

For those on San José’s east side who want a taste of Starbucks, Ms. Trejos said that they do not have long to wait. She said that a second Starbucks is scheduled to open Nov. 15 in the San Pedro-Moravia area.

Art festival
A.M. Costa Rica/Connie Foss
Guest performer Jorge Alberto Solés of Bon-art from San José mugs for the camera at the free Arte Viva event. The
dancers are from a private group in Hone Creek. Solís entertained with pantomimes and a juggling workshop
Puerto Viejo celebrates a weekend full of art and performances
By Connie Foss
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Arte Viva, the annual arts festival held in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, celebrated its closing day of the weekend with performances by children from schools in the surrounding villages in the Casa de la Cultura, the town’s community center.

Paintings by local artists provided a colorful backdrop to the performances, which included puppet shows, flamenco, ballet and calypso dances, pantomimes, a juggling workshop and other entertainment by local and guest performers.

Arte Viva was envisioned and organized by area residents
 including Claudio Ambroso, also leader of the popular local band, Plan B.

Since its first event, Arte Viva has gathered the community in a celebration of local creativity to showcase a wide variety of local talent. 

Workshops and performances featured theater and film, many genres of dance, sports and martial arts, ceramics workshops and exhibits, concerts by local bands, and visual art exhibits by adults as well as children from the area’s schools in Manzanillo, Playa Chiquita, Cocles and Puerto Viejo. Arte Viva is sponsored by area businesses. For more information, visit:

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 195
Real Estate
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                vacations in Costa Rica

human statues
A.M. Costa Rica/Daniel Woodall
Mimes become living statues to welcome guests to the casino Saturday night.

Casino pioneer celebrates
30 years in business here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Running a company successfully for several years is a triumph, as anyone in business would agree.

The Casino Colonial marked its 30th birthday Saturday, an
Shelby McAdams
achievement that can be attributed directly to its owner, Shelby McAdams.

Some of the casino owners in Costa Rica come with a lot of baggage.

At least one former owner is in U.S. federal prison. But there is seldom a hint of scandal at the Casino Club Colonial.

McAdams threw a party Saturday that was consistent with the upscale image of the casino.

The staff at the Magnolia Restaurant in the casino, under the direction of Adrián Vera, put on a five-star buffet for invited guests. And then McAdams
opened the food line to everyone in the casino.

There were human statutes, free whiskey, two kinds of live music and casino workers dressed to the nines.

McAdams was a pioneer in gambling in Costa Rica. The first Casino Colonial, opened in 1982, was across Avenida 1 from the current structure. Like all businessmen, McAdams is subject to economic changes. But casino owners in Costa Rica also are big targets for politicians who want more of the money and want to look good for the voters. They forget that casino operators also have gigantic expenses.

President Laura Chinchilla has zeroed in on casinos. Officials have restricted the hours and have jacked up the tax. And this is just the latest effort. News files are full of articles in which politicians see casinos as cash cows.

McAdams has not only weathered all the political challenges, his firm has thrived.  In 2005 the firm opened the Sleep Inn Hotel, now called Hotel Paseo de las Damas after the name of the street at the front door. Having a hotel is a requisite for a major Costa Rican casino.

The Magnolia Restaurant has been in business for 16 years. Some of the guests Friday were Costa Rican women who frequently interrupt their trips downtown with a quiet lunch at the Magnolia. The bar-restaurant inside the Colonial also is a favorite of U.S. expats seeking a late breakfast or a full dinner.

McAdams made an appearance Saturday and was warmly greeted by employees, former employees, business associates and just those who recognize his business achievement.

Renoir in a box of junk
raises complexities in U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Museum officials and police in the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore are trying to unravel the mystery of how a Renoir painting, stolen from the museum more than 60 years ago, ended up in a box of junk sold for $7 two years ago.

The woman who bought the "junk box" at a flea market in the eastern state of West Virginia had intended to sell the small landscape, known as the "Banks of the River Seine," at an auction Saturday. However, the auction has been canceled.

After keeping the painting in storage for two years, the woman decided to have it examined by the auction house, which expected to get about $75,000 for the Renoir.

The Baltimore Museum of Art borrowed the painting in 1937 from art patron Saidie May, and the painting was stolen from the museum in 1951. An insurance company paid the museum $2,500.

Now, in addition to figuring out the mystery of where the Renoir has been hidden for more than six decades, authorities must also determine who is the rightful owner of the painting: the May family, the Baltimore Museum, the insurance company or the woman who purchased the Renoir in a $7 box of junk.

Art records indicate the painting was sold in 1926 by the Bernheium-Jeune gallery in Paris to American lawyer Herbert May.  The family believes he gave it to his wife, Saidie, who loaned her extensive art collection to several museums.

Over the years, the stolen painting was forgotten until the Potomack Company in Alexandria, Virginia, announced the auction.

Canadian al Qaida militant
returns home in plea deal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The last Westerner detained at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay has been returned to his native Canada.

Canada's public safety minister Vic Toews announced that 26-year-old Omar Khadr was transferred from Guantanamo Bay to a Canadian military base Saturday and was then sent to the Millhaven maximum security prison in Bath, Ontario.

Khadr is a controversial figure in Canada, both because he comes from a family of al Qaida-linked militants and because he was only 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan in 2002.

Toews said he is satisfied that Canada's correctional service can manage Khadr's incarceration while protecting the safety of Canadians. He said any decisions on Khadr's future will be made by Canada's parole board.

Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, where he was apprenticed to al Qaida militants. He has admitted to war crimes including killing a U.S. soldier with a hand grenade. In 2010 he was sentenced to eight years in prison. His return to Canada is part of a plea deal.

The Pentagon has confirmed the transfer and says there are 166 detainees left at Guantanamo.

Amnesty International has praised the return of Khadr to Canada, saying it represents progress in the Obama administration's glacial pace toward closing down the Guantanamo Bay detention center. A spokeswoman called on Canada to investigate allegations that Khadr was tortured while in detention.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 195
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Latin America news
Trial opens today in case
of trafficking of children

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man from Colombia and a woman from the Dominican Republic will be in the dock today at the Tribunal de Juicio de Limón facing allegations of trafficking children.

The pair were detained March 23 after they arrived in Limón escorting five Ecuadorian minors ages 7, 8, 11, 16 and 18, said the Poder Judicial.

The man was identified by the last names of  De la Torre Benavides and the woman by the names of  De la Cruz González. The Poder Judicial said they crossed over the border with Panamá illegally before arriving in Limón. The children were en route to the United States. said the Poder Judicial.

Lengthy trial scheduled
in case of computer crooks

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 64 persons linked to a fraud ring that raided the accounts of bank customers by means of computers starts today in the Tribunal Penal de San José,

Computer crooks took some 110 million colons, at least $220,000 from individuals and companies. The crimes happened in 2007 and 2008. The thefts were among the reasons why banks have beefed up their security.

The trial is scheduled to last into mid-December. Four of the suspects have been identified as the leaders. The majority of the others accused allowed the computer crooks to run money through their accounts, said the Poder Judicial.

There have been at least 26 victims who lost money in 205 transactions, said the Poder Judicial. The money vanished through the use of a keylogger software that registered the key strokes of computer users and thereby gained their bank passwords.

14 police officers accused
in trial over drug robberies

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A trial continues today in the Tribunal de Juicio de Goicoechea for 14 Fuerza Pública officers who are accused of comprising a band that robbed drugs.

The officers are all from the San José area but from different police stations. They were detained in February 2011 in a sweep by judicial police, anti-drug agents and prosecutors.

The allegations are that the police officers preyed on drug traffickers and even invaded homes to take money and drugs.

Toll booths out of service

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is good news for motorists this morning. The toll has been suspended on Ruta 2, the Florencio del Castillo highway at Tres Rios, and Ruta 32, the Braulio Carrillo highway north of San José at Zurquí.

The free pass will continue until Dec. 14 while highway officials modernize the toll plazas.

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