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(506) 2223-1327                      Published Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 197                          Email us
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A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Each of the stone sphere replicas are branded with a message in Chinese of their origin.
China imports stone spheres as gift to municipality
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In order to signify the friendship of China and Costa Rica, the Beijing government presented San José with a number of Diquis spheres, said a spokesperson from the Chinese association.

These pre-Columbian replicas were placed around the grand archway of the new Calle Chino Sept. 24.

Diquis spheres or las bolas have become a symbol of the country's history.  They were believed to be formed by ancient civilizations and were discovered in the Diquis River Delta region and Isla de Caño regions by workers from the United Fruit Co. 

Because of their near perfect shape, heavy weight and creation from a nonmalleable stone, the makers of the spheres remain a mystery.
Many myths exist, including that they came from Atlantis or that nature itself carved them.  The BriBri even have a creation story that says Tara, god of thunder, used them as cannon balls to protect the land from the wind god.

Even still, the spheres are icons in Costa Rican architecture.  They can be seen at the Museo National, the Plaza de Justicia, Universidad de Costa Rica and even the back of the old five thousand colon note.

Each sphere at Calle Chino is branded with a special stamp to remind everyone of the union and where they come from.  They either read in Chinese "San José City Government October 1, 2012" or "Beijing Municipal Government, October 1, 2012."

The date also symbolizes the Dia de la Cultura China which was celebrated Monday.


Second weekend coming up for pejibaye festival
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The annual pejibaye fair will go into its second and final weekend Friday in the small town of Tucurrique, east of the town Cartago.

Like the first half of the festival, the second weekend will feature three full days of live music, dancing, performances, a run of the bulls and as many of the town's famous small palmnut fruits as visitors can stomach.

The Feria Nacional de Pejibaye, now in its 19th year, draws 25,000 people annually, according to the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.  The area produces about 400,000 kilos (880,000 pounds) of the small, starchy palm fruit.

The festival has been held annually since 1993, both in order to find new ways to use pejibayes and to sell the copious amounts that grow in the area, according to the ministry.

The fruit comes from a type of palm tree called Bactris gasipaes. Native people had been cultivating the pejibaye fruit for centuries before Europeans arrived. However, the fruit only grows at around 6,000 feet in elevation

The fruit is the shape of a tear drop and is either red, yellow or orange, like small bell peppers except with a large seed in the middle. It is often referred
to as a peach palm, but it lacks the sweetness of a peach and tastes more like a potato.

It is edible but unpopular raw. As a result, it is often eaten like a potato either stewed or boiled, cut in half and eaten with a dollop of mayonnaise in the seed depression. The fruit can be used to make fermented drinks and jams, or it can be ground into flour and used to make pastries, bread. Find the editor's preferred method HERE!/

Although the mountain biking competition, the men's bull riding competition and the running of the bulls “a la tica” took place last weekend, this weekend will feature another running of the bulls, a bull riding competition for women.

Additionally, the festival will include more local live music, dancing, and pejibaye prepared in all ways imaginable.

The festival is being held in the Centro Agricola Cantonal de Jiménez in Tucurrique all day Friday through Sunday.

The town is about 14 kilometers (9 miles) east of Cartago on the way to Turrialba. Normally it is  about a 30-kilometer drive from Cartago along Ruta 225, but the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad announced that route 225 is closed and recommended that drivers take Ruta 10 to Turrialba and backtrack or take Ruta 224 to the south.

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Flamenco legend Farruquito
dances here this weekend

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

International flamenco dancer, Farruquito, will make his debut in Costa Rica Friday and Saturday with a Teatro Nacional performance.

Born Juan Manuel Fernández Montoya, the Seville, Spain, native came into the dance world as a child prodigy.  His father, known by the stage name El Moreno, was a flamenco cantaor or singer and his grandfather, Farruco, was a bailaor who founded a dance school. 

Trained in the pure flamenco art, a 4-year-old Farruquito shared the Broadway stage with his family and other legends.

Now, at 30, the artist has achievements that include him in the 1992 Barcelona Paralympic opening ceremony, London's Royal Festival Hall, at Teatro Central in Seville for a season and at the Spain's Gala de los Premios Max award show.

In the United States, Farruquito has graced stages in New York and Boston with his precise moves.  The New York Times critiqued him as “the best artist who set foot in the Big Apple in 2001.”  People magazine named the dancer one of the most beautiful people in the world in 2003, and the Academy of Music issued him an award for the smooth sound of his feet.

He is considered one of the most influential dancers in the 21st century, said a Teatro Nacional release.  In his Costa Rica show, Farruquito will unveil his latest choreography work.

“We will be witnesses of the world premiere in Costa Rica of his most recent choreography designed by himself and by an icon of flamenco, Spanish choreographer Antonio Canales, and featuring a cast of first world level where stands out the guest dancer Karime Amaya,” theater spokespersons said.

The program will be in Sala Principal and begins at 8 p.m.


Bandits steal $36,000
in heist at lottery office

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three armed men in ski-masks robbed an office of the Junta de Protección Social in downtown Alajuela Tuesday morning.

A police bulletin said that the men took 18 million colons (approximately $36,000) and stole a car as they escaped.

According to the bulletin, the three men stuck up a group of employees entering the facility as they were about to open at 7:15 a.m. The bulletin said the men forced the manager to open the safe.

As the men were escaping, the report says, they ran into another employee who had just arrived, forced that employee outside and stole the individual's car.

A police spokesperson confirmed that the office is 250 meters south of the Cruz Roja building the center of Alajuela. The Junta de Protección Social runs the public lottery.


 
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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
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Cultivated corn was domesticated from teosinte more than 6,000 years ago. During the process, corn lost the ability to survive in the wild, but gained valuable agricultural traits. The suppression of branching from the stalk resulted in a lower number of ears per plant but allows each ear to grow larger. The hard case around the kernel disappeared over time.

Origin of corn
Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

New group seeks to protect native corn from modified species
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican individuals and organizations have joined to ask the government to declare maize a cultural heritage.

The effort is related to one by the Red por Una América Libre de Transgénicos to seek the same designation from the U.N Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The efforts seek to prevent the importation of hybrid or genetically-modified corn that may crossbreed with species here.

The local organization, which calls itself  Semillas, Sabores y Saberes, cites a controversial French study that found that rats fed genetically-modified corn and others who ingested water laced with Roundup suffered from a disproportionate number of  tumors. Roundup is a weed killer made by Monsanto Co., a U.S.-based firm. The genetically modified corn, NK603, is unaffected by Roundup, so farmers can use the chemical to kill weeds in the corn fields.

The study is controversial because Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, who conducted the study, is an outspoken opponent of genetically modified foods.

The local group is made up of individuals from The Universidad de Costa Rica, the  Universidad Estatal a Distancia, the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje and the Asociación Cultural Sol de Vida in Santa Cruz, according to an announcement.

The local organization said they wanted not only the corn but all the rituals, recipes and traditions that stem from it recognized as cultural heritage. The group did not identify the type of maize they wish to be protected except as native maize.

The corn plant itself is a product of thousands of years of selective breeding. Scientists think the modern plant came from a grass called  teosinte, which has a similar genetic structure as
corn, "A teosinte ear is only two to three inches long with five to 12 kernels. Compare that to corn's 12-inch ear that boasts 500 or more kernels, said the University of California at Irving in a 2005 press release reporting the genetic discoveries. The valley of México is considered the origin of corn. The grain was and still is a major component of Central American food.

The local organization also appears to oppose hybrid corn, too. Most U.S. corn comes from hybrid seed that does not breed true in the subsequent generations.  Farmers have to buy seed each year, something they are prepared to do because of the higher yield of hybrids.

Genetically modified plants are different than those created by selective breeding. Monsanto said it has been producing plants that are tolerant to herbicides like Roundup since 1996. The first were soybeans and canola.

The company said that the only difference between genetically modified and other crops is a different protein introduced into the DNA. Says the company, using the term GM for genetically modified:

"When a new protein (not normally found in that plant or in other commonly consumed foods) is introduced into a plant, the safety of that protein does need to be addressed. It is standard practice to use animals to test any introduced proteins. Animal testing requires very high doses of the test substance to be given. These levels are, by design, many times higher than those which people would actually consume. In GM crops and foods derived from them, introduced proteins are usually present only in minute amounts. Because the levels of protein are so low, it is impossible to test high doses by feeding crops directly to animals. Instead, a purified version of the introduced protein is used in animal studies."

The local organization notes that because corn is openly pollenated, a field of genetically modified corn can spread its DNA far and wide into other corn varieties.


Londres robbery suspect dies when mystery shooter opens up
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A mystery gunman killed a robbery suspect on Tuesday morning in Londres just west of Quepos on the central Pacific coast.

The morning robbery was the second of small convenience stores in the Pacific region this week.

Police reported that the other robbery was in Esparza near Puntarenas. Both were committed by two men traveling by motorcycle.

In the Tuesday morning incident, someone shot one of the two men four times, and the suspect died on the scene.

A judicial spokesperson said that investigators still do not know who fired the shots. The man appeared to be in the act of robbing the store operator.

The first robbery occurred at 8 a.m. Monday in the town of Esparza. The judicial organization did not issue a press statement about this incident, and a police spokesperson did not know the name of the store but said that it was a small supermarket in the center of town.
Two men in ski masks were seen approaching the store on a motorcycle. They entered it brandishing guns and threatened the owners. The judicial spokesperson said that the two took 650,000 colons (about $1,300) and were seen escaping on the motorcycle.

Police said the second robbery took place at 6 a.m. Tuesday at the other small supermarket in Londres. The police spokesperson could not confirm the name of this store either.

The police bulletin says that two men on a motorcycle drove up to this store while the owner was opening and one fired his gun. The bulletin said that the store owner was not hurt, but it does not say whether the shot was meant to threaten or harm him.

According to the bulletin, another round of gunshots came from an unknown source. One of the men suspected of robbing the store, a 37-year-old with the last name of Vargas, was hit by four bullets in his right arm and both legs. He died from his wounds on the spot. The report added that the second man escaped on the motorcycle.

Investigators have not been able to confirm who fired the shots that killed Vargas. They also do not have anyone in custody who they suspect as being the second man who escaped.

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Chart shows the accumulated inflation from the previous 12 months for quarters of the year from January 2010.

Comsumer price index
Source is the data base of the Banco Central de Costa Rica

Accumulated inflation for 2012 is estimated to be 2.96 percent
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Inflation was less than a tenth of 1 percent in the month of September, according to information from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos and the Banco Central de Costa Rica.

The accumulated inflation for the year ending Sept. 30 was computed to be 4.46 percent.

The percentage for this September was 0.07 percent.

This number will be a factor when private employee groups meet with employers and the national salary commission beginning Oct. 16 to negotiate the raise in the minimum salaries that will go into effect Jan. 1
The inflation for this September is greater than that for September 2010 when the percentage was a minus 0.15 and for September 2011 when the number was minus 0.08 percent.

So far this year from Jan. 1 the accumulated inflation is 2.96 percent, said the INS Valores Puesto de Bolsa, S.A., which keeps track of the economic situation. That is lower than the 3.23 percent of the same period in 2011, it noted. The index is based on 292 goods and services. Of these 49 percent showed an increase and 39 percent showed a decrease, said Puesto de Bolsa.

The Banco Central said a survey estimated that 2012 would close the year with an inflation rate of 5.7 percent.  Higher utility and fuel charges are likely to add to the increase.


U.N. agency forecasts a 5 percent growth rate for Costa Rica
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An international assessment of Latin America’s economic status found that Costa Rica is among the countries with highest projected growths in 2012 of all nations in the region.

Researchers who compiled the report expect that Costa Rica will grow by about 5 percent in its gross domestic product this year.

At the beginning of the year, researchers expected that the economy of Latin America overall would grow by 3.7 percent, but they lowered that number to 3.2 in this report.

The report was created by a subsidiary of the United Nations called the Economic Commission for Latin America, also known as ECLAC or CEPAL in Spanish. Commission administrators released the study Tuesday at a conference that took place at their headquarters in Santiago, Chile.

The report mostly dwelled on why researchers had concluded that the economy of Latin America would not grow as much as they initially expected.

They laid the blame on three economic punches over the last four years that began in the global economic powerhouses of the United States, China and Europe and spread to other countries around the world. These difficulties were the global increase in food and fuel prices in 2008, the economic recession in late 2008 and 2009 and the international uncertainty that slowed the global economy late in 2011.

However, the researchers said in the report that increased
private demand in most countries’ local markets have kept
economies progressing slowly but surely. Additionally, the study says that many governments initiated policies that have kept economies stable. 

Overall, the report predicts that Central America will grow far more than the rest of Latin America. It indicates that the region will grow by 4.4 percent of its overall gross domestic product while South America will grow by 2.8 and the Caribbean by only 1.8.

Panamá is expected to lead the growth by far with 9.5 percent, followed by Haiti with 6 and Peru with 5.9. Nicaragua is also expected to grow at the same rate as Costa Rica at 5 percent.

The downgrade of Latin America’s expected economic growth overall is attributed to particularly a slow year in the regional commercial powerhouses of Brazil and Argentina. Additionally Paraguay is the only country that researchers expect to shrink this year, by 2 percent, because of an extremely poor soy harvest.

Costa Rica’s growth since 2010 has been fluctuating according to the study, falling from 4.7 that year to 4.2 in 2011. This year researchers expect that growth will shoot up again to 5 percent and then slow again next year to 4.

Researchers wrote in the report that they expect that most countries with higher than average growth this year to slow down next year, while those countries with less growth will speed up at the same time. This excludes Haiti, whose economy they expect to continue skyrocketing since it was devastated by an earthquake in 2010.


Police respond to conflict over alleged invasion of native land
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers clamped down on a dispute Tuesday over land in Cedral de Salitre, Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

The conflict involves an allegation that non-natives are trying to take over land that is part of the local reserve.

The police officers were acting on an order issued by a judge in Buenos Aires where the case is in court.

Among those at the scene were Celso Gamboa, a vice minister of security, and Luis Fallas of the office of the defensora de los habitantes.

Tuesday night in the Juzgado Penal de Buenos Aires a judge
declined to order restrictions on the individuals who the Fiscalía de Asuntos Indígenas considers land invaders. A fiscal or prosecutor had asked the judge to have the land restored to its original condition. There is a court order saying that a fence must be removed.

The persons who are occupying the land said that they have held ownership for a long time, said the Fuerza Pública.

The prosecutor is attempting to press a criminal charge, but the judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence, said the Poder Judicial.

Police were not there to adjudicate the situation but simply to maintain order, they said. The dispute arose Sunday when the two groups had a confrontation

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Millions of foreigners
seeking a U.S. green card

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Iranian-born businessman Naeim Karimi spent his lunchtime glued to his computer station at his Toronto office on Tuesday.

He wanted to be among the first to enter the so-called U.S. Green Card Lottery, which began taking applications at noon.

Karimi has already entered the lottery unsuccessfully three times, but he said Tuesday that he felt his luck had finally turned.

“It’s been a lucky past few months,” he said. “I graduated from university. I got married. I found a job. And I’m thinking, you know, maybe good luck comes in fours rather than in threes.”

Each year, millions across the globe hope for a chance to win permanent residency in the U.S. by entering their names into the U.S. State Department’s Diversity Visa program, the official name of the so-called lottery.

The program is designed to bring immigrants into the U.S. from countries that have been historically underrepresented in terms of U.S. immigration, so nationals from countries with high immigration are not eligible to enter.

Among the countries not eligible this year are Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The 2014 lottery, which began Tuesday, allows natives of Guatemala to enter the lottery for the first time. Nearly eight million people applied to the Green Card lottery last year, and just as many could enter this time.

Lottery entrants are vying for only 50,000 slots chosen randomly by a computer, as well as 5,000 more visas allocated by Congress to Nicaraguan nationals.

During a press briefing in Washington, Bureau of Consular Affairs spokesperson Karin King said the Diversity Visa program has been conducted entirely online since 2012.

She encouraged applicants to be proactive about monitoring their applications themselves and to be vigilant if using third parties to enter the lottery.

“Unscrupulous visa facilitators have been known to assist entrants with their entries and then retain the confirmation page and demand extra money in exchange for the information,” said Ms. King.

“We have tried to set a system where the applicant can do everything on his or her own and doesn’t need to go through a facilitator or pay any money at all in order to apply,” she continued.

For many entrants, the lottery is a shot at a relatively easy, fast and cheap path towards a new life as a U.S. resident.

Roozbeh Mazhari, a TV anchor at the Voice of America’s Persian-language service, won the lottery in 1999 while doing mandatory military service in his native Iran.

“When I got home and I had papers that I was able to leave the country I partied, like, for seven days. And 12 years after that, I’m so glad that I got a green card. It’s dramatically changed my life.”

The U.S. Diversity Visa Web site can be found at www.dvlottery.state.gov.

The application window for the 2014 lottery closes at noon on Saturday, Nov. 3.

Naeim Karimi and millions of other hopeful applicants like him can begin checking the Web site May 1 to see if they have been selected.


Germans join countrymen
marking unity of the nation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Embassy of the German Federal Republic in San José will be closed today to observe the official celebrations of German unity. 

The day commemorates the demolition of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.

“In 1989 the courage of the population and hold in the East blew the chains and conquered the freedom, democracy and ultimately also the unification of our homeland,” said Federal President Joachim Gauck in a statement.  “Today, 22 years later, we note with gratitude that this country has met again with its own.”

Gauck boasted about his pride for the country for being a positive role model to the world.  He said the nation achieved this by overcoming economic obstacles in the West, by constructing a stable democracy and a civil society after national socialism and the world war and by peacefully revolutionizing the East Germans for freedom and the pursuit of the united.

Germany still remains a member of the European Union and the nation will remain faithful to Europe, the president concluded.

The German embassy office is located in Torre Sabana.  It will reopen Thursday for regular hours.


Teacher held in rape
involving a student, 15

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police arrested a teacher late Tuesday morning at the secondary school where he works near Puntarenas. He is suspected of raping a minor who lives nearby and attends classes at the same school.

A police spokesperson confirmed that the man is 47-year-old Carlos Luis Quiros Gómez and that the 15-year-old girl, with whom he is accused of forcibly having sexual contact, did not want the relationship.

A bulletin from the Judicial Investigating Organization says that Quiros lived close to the victim and was friends with the family. The bulletin added that on one occasion he used this relationship to go to the victim's house where he forced himself on her.
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Latin America news
Insurance institute closes
first division soccer field


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

National insurance agency inspectors closed the stadium of the Club Sport Herediano Tuesday. The organization fields a first division soccer team.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros said that the sports club failed to make a required payment on its riesgos del trabajo insurance policy that covers employees in case of injury during work.

The location is called the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia.

The insurance institute said it notified the sport team management last week that the last day to pay was Monday. But no payment was made, the institute said.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros still is the primary insurer for this type of policy. The institute said that the sports team has three days to contest the closing. Then a judge can take two weeks to either ratify the closing or to order the stadium reopened.

The closing will affect the weekend soccer matches.

The Heredia club is the national champion but it has been suffering economic problems.


Bill to ban sports hunting
easily passes in legislature

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The full legislature Tuesday gave initial approval to a bill that would ban sports hunting in the country. In addition to the subject matter, the bill is significant because it was presented by citizens who gathered 177,000 signatures. This was the first measure that originated with a public initiative that has passed.

Costa Rica is not a major sports hunting destination, and the bill still allows what is called subsistence hunting by those who do so for food.

The legislature voted 41 to 5. Monday there was supposed to be a vote but opponents walked out and reduced the number of lawmakers below what constituted a quorum.

Claudio Monge Pereira, a lawmaker, said that Costa Rica would become the first country in the world to prohibit hunting. He said the legislature was telling the world that hunting is a crime. A second vote on a non-consecutive day is required to send the measure to Casa Presidencial.













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