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These stories were published Monday, Oct. 4, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 196
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Fire trucks are parked outside the new Tobias Bolaños Airport fire station, but they can’t go in. Workmen are still trying to correct construction glitches.
A.M. Costa Rica/Clair-Marie Robertson
Landing at Pavas airport can be a challenge
By Clair-Marie Robertson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The many tourists who fly in and out of the Pavas airport may not know it but their pilots are dodging potholes and an occasional escaped mental patient.

Workers at the airport say that the runway, refurbished three years ago, is in bad shape. The runway supervisor blamed heavy air traffic.

The airport, officially called Tobias Bolaños, handles 2,500 flight operations a month, according to Hernán Luna Solano, head administrator. 

The airport has been made more secure this year as part of the international push against possible terrorism. A chain link fence encircles much of the sprawling facility. Barbed wire strands decorate the top.

However, a section of wall that separates the field from a residential area has less secure fencing. It is here that mental patients invade the airport as they flee Asilo Chapui, the Hospital Nacional Psyciatrico. An employee at the home confirmed the complaints of the airport workers. Up to four patients flee every month, she said.

Air traffic controllers in the airport tower are able to see the fleeing patients and make efforts to direct planes around them, airport workers said.

The airport is under the control of the Dirección General de Aviación Civil, part of the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

That’s not all the problems. A new fire station, constructed two years ago, still is not in use because of problems with the electrical system. 

The firemen, however, are now assigned 
full-time to airport matters. They had responsibilities outside in the past.

Tobias Bolaños is the second most important airport in Costa Rica. Its traffic consisting of light aircraft and private jets. The airport was constructed in 1974 when the population density of Pavas was relatively low. 

Administrator Luna Solano said that 30 years ago when the airport had just opened there were no problems with security because the surrounding area mainly consisted of sparsely populated farmland.

Tourism has steadily increased and in-turn so has air traffic. In addition, Pavas has also become more heavily populated

Luna Solano said the main objective of the modernization of the airport was the extension of the runway from 1,000 meters (.62 of a mile) to 1,600 meters (one mile). "This was largely to improve the safety of those who choose to fly to this airport as well as the safety of the surrounding inhabitants," he said.

Located next to the control tower is the new but empty airport fire station. Jeffery Alfaro Sanchez, head fireman at the airport since 1999 said firemen do not know exactly when they will be moving into the new fire station, but they have been assured it will be soon.

Alfaro said that there are all sorts of emergencies that require the attention of firemen at the airport. The most recent was Sept. 7 when firemen were called to assist an aircraft that was making an emergency landing because it had mechanical problems.

Some efforts have been made to patch the holes in the runway, but asphalt does not seem to adhere well to the concrete.

 
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Rodríguez faces multiple calls for his resignation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría has been at work in his job as top hemispheric diplomat only since Sept. 23. But now politicians and citizens here are calling for his resignation.

Rodríguez, secretary general of the Organization of American States, is caught up in twin corruption scandals that have been making headlines here since June.

The scandals involve kickbacks on Costa Rican government contracts.

Leaders of three political parties were televised Sunday asking Rodríguez to resign. Even fellow Partido Unidad Social Cristiana member, President Abel Pacheco, was quoted by La Nación saying that Rodríguez should resign if he cannot explain himself.

The Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados said the country was experiencing fury, indignation, anger and repudiation and called on  him to resign immediately.

Rodríguez, most recently a professor in the United States, was president of Costa Rica from 1998 to 2002 when the contracts were negotiated.

The scandals involved a $39 million loan from the government of Finland so the country’s government hospitals could purchase equipment. Also involved is a $260 million contract with the French firm Alcatel to upgrade the country’s cellular telephone service.

Until last week, Rodríguez was outside the swirl of the scandals. At least 11 officials or ex-officials have been placed either in jail or under house arrest.

One of those being held is José Antonio Lobo, who had been a director of the national telecommunications monopoly, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, known as ICE.

Rodríguez admitted Thursday that he had received $140,000 loan from Lobo to advance his candidacy for the hemispheric job he now holds. But Lobo has said the money was part of some $1.4 million that his wife received as part of the commission on approval of the cellular telephone contract, according to local press reports.

The admission was made to Channel 6 Repretel, which broadcast a telephone call with Rodríguez live as part of its 7 p.m. news show. Rodríguez was in Washington, D.C. Rodríguez was unclear as to when the personal loan was made. In 2002 or 2003, he said.

Both Repretel and Channel 7 Teletica revealed that Lobo’s wife paid the money to the wife of Rodríguez, Lorena Clare Facio. Lobo’s wife, a U.S. citizen, got the $1.4 million payment after Alcatel sent it via intermediaries, including a bank in the Bahamas, according to the same local press reports.

Alcatel won a $260 million contract to provide upgraded GSM cellular telephone service in Costa Rica. Complaints have been made about lack of coverage and lack of dial tones.

Lobo told prosecutors that Rodríguez demanded 60 percent of the "gift" from Alcatel, the daily La Nación reported.

Lobo also said that money indirectly from Alcatel was used to pay off some $14,000 in credit card debt run up by Rodríguez. Lobo served as minister 

of housing for Rodríguez before being named to the board of the telecommunications company. Another director of the Costa Rican telecommunications monopoly also appears to have received a $1.2 million payment.

Rodríguez was president when the seeds of the scandal involving Finland were planted. The national assembly in December 2001 agreed to accept a $39 million loan from Finland on the condition that the money be used to purchase medical equipment from firms in Finland.

The loan generated an undisclosed $9 million commission for politically connected officials and the head of a leading pharmaceutical company, Corporación Fischel. Two executives of that company now are under investigation and one is in jail.

A judge prohibited Rafael Ángel Calderón, another former president, from leaving the country because of his apparent involvement in the loan deal.

Medical professionals said they did not really need all the equipment purchased with the loan.

Rodríguez embarked on a face-to-face campaign to win the five-year post of secretary general. He made personal visits to most of the leaders of the nations of the hemisphere. Following Costa Rican tradition, he sought a consensus, and he was elected unanimously last spring.

The nation’s chief prosecutor, Francisco Dall’Anese, characterizes Rodríguez as a witness and not a suspect, but noted that the job with the Organization of American States does not provide him immunity against prosecution in Costa Rica.

Current president Pacheco, appears to have accepted $100,000 from Alcatel for his 2001-2 campaign. He says he is unaware of the specifics, although others who worked on the campaign confirm the payment.

Costa Rican law forbids taking donations that big or taking donations from foreigners or foreign firms. Plus the Alcatel payment never was reported to the national election commission as the law requires.

The Organization of American States has as 35 nations as members, all the countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba. The organization is designed to strengthen cooperation and advance common interests and lists a number of agencies under its jurisdiction, including the Washington-based Pan American Health Organization.

Pacheco wants crusade

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco called upon all citizens to join him in an effort to regenerate the morality of the country.

Pacheco did that in his weekly television address. He said that the country was not going to stop with two cases of corruption but would continue looking for other cases.

He said he was not calling for a witch hunt but rather a frontal assault against corruption. He noted that the government has adjusted its budget to hire more judges, investigators and auditors.

He praised reporters, prosecutors, and investigators that have brought to light the two current corruption cases.


 
 
Anti-cloning measure
moves to U.N. debate

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Legal Committee of the United Nations General Assembly is being asked to adopt a resolution that would set in motion the drafting of an international convention banning reproductive human cloning.

A draft resolution, initiated by Costa Rica and sponsored by 57 nations and tabled this week, calls for a global pact against human cloning because it "is unethical, morally reproachable and contrary to due respect for the human person."

The resolution states that such a treaty would not ban "the use of nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce DNA molecules, organs, plants, tissues, [and] cells other than human embryos or animals other than human beings."

The resolution urges states to ban any research or experiments aimed at human cloning in their own territories pending the drafting of an international convention.

It also calls for states and others to direct funds that might have been used for human cloning to "pressing global issues in developing countries," citing famine, infant mortality and the HIV/AIDS pandemic as examples.

The issue of how and/or whether the world should regulate human cloning technology has in recent times divided the General Assembly: in 2003, delegates agreed to postpone any debate on the subject until this session.

European tourism
expected to jump

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican tourism officials hope that visitors from Europe will increase from 25 to 30 percent this year, in part because of a new Iberia Airlines flight from Spain.

Rodrigo A. Castro Fonseca, tourism minister, made this observation Saturday at an evening welcoming ceremony for the first direct flight by Iberia.

The flight costs $750 aboard a 250-passenger Airbus A-320. Three times a week, as it did Saturday, the flight stops first at Guatemala City. A Sunday flight is direct to and from Madrid. Three times a week the flight passes through Panamá City.

Probe of shooting
begins in Turrialba

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Judicial Investigating Organization is conducting a full-scale probe of the death of David Carranza  Quesada. He was shot by police in Turrialba Thursday.

Officials said that Judicial Investigating agents joined with Fuerza Pública officers to attempt to arrest Carranza after the man was involved in a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident.

He was located in a nearby bar and put up a fight with officers, cutting them on the forearms with a knife. He was brought down with a bullet in the chest and one in the heart.

Investigators collected the weapons of those involved in the shooting to determine exactly what happened.

Extradited U.S. man
to face trial today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Arthur Kanev, the first U.S. citizen extradited from the United States to Costa Rica will go on trial today. He is charged with supplying drugs to minors and with impairing the morals of a minor.

Some 14 witnesses are scheduled to testify at the Tribunal de Juicio de Aguirre y Parrita. The charges involve the conduct of the 57-year-old former dentist’ between 1996 and 1999 when he lived in Quepos. He is charged with offering drugs to various minors, ages 11 to 16.

Kanev fled the country, but a companion and housemate, Curtis Baker also a U.S. citizen and a veterinarian, got 24 years in prison  March 21, 2002, for supplying drugs to minors. However  Baker beat additional charges of corrupting the girls because the judges concluded that they already were corrupted. 

Kanev was returned under guard to Costa Rica last May 20. 

An arrest warrant was issued in February 2002 for Kanev when he failed to show up for the trial at which his housemate was convicted.

Tica faces deportation
despite Canadian kids

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican mother of two Canadian children faces deportation today or tomorrow because of legal complexities. The deportation is likely even though the woman is married to a Canadian.

The Vancouver Province newspaper published the story of Bernard Confiss and his wife, Seydi Calvo Hidalgo, Sunday.

The couple met six years ago and they have a daughter, Rachel, 4, and a son, Isaiah, 2.

The woman was detained while walking with her husband Friday night on a city street. Confiss told the newspaper that he does not have the bank account to hire a lawyer.

The couple had tried to get the wife a permanent visa on compassion and humanitarian grounds. Confiss cannot sponsor her until he pays off $19,000 run up by his first wife, also a Costa Rican.

The newspaper said that the first wife went on welfare after Confiss divorced her, and now he is liable for that money.

Canada has tightened up immigration from Costa Rica because many visitors have jumped their visas and seek to use legal technicalities to stay there.

FBI agents give
organized crime tips

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Instructors from the U.S. Federal bureau of Investigation were in town last week to provide training on organized crime to local agents.

Some 40 local agents participated and heard about strategies and techniques developed in the United States to fight organized money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorism.
 
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Raid did not stop money flowing to the Villalobos 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Villalobos high-interest borrowing operation collected nearly $4 million after investigators and other officials raided the firm’s offices, according to a summary of the allegations against Oswaldo Villalobos Camacho. 

In addition, the allegations summary claims that Oswaldo and his brother, Luis Enrique, were relying on their creditors fears of tax agencies to keep them in line.

The summary of the 300-page filing was prepared by lawyer Arcelio Hernández, who allowed A.M. Costa Rica to publish it. The allegations detail what the nation considers the Villalobos brothers did illegally.

More than $1 billion was on the books of the Villalobos operation when the brothers closed up shop Oct. 14, 2002. That was three and a half months after the raid. 

The summary suggests that prosecutors could find no legitimate business that allowed the Villalobos to pay their creditors from 2.8 to 3 percent a month. Instead, the allegations say that the Villalobos brothers simply reinvested the money at much lower rates.

For the first time, the word ponzi is used to describe the operation. A ponzi scheme involves paying interest to early investors with the money provided by later investors.

Many creditors faithful to the Villalobos firm have said that the operation lasted for more than 20 years and, therefore, could not be a ponzi scheme. However, A.M. Costa Rica has shown mathematically how such a scheme could last 25 years. The variables are the amount of money coming in and how much of the interest is rolled over by creditors as new loans. 

The summary also reports that an Ontario court said that the monies deposited by Canadian Bertrand Henri St. Onge with the brothers' system were the product of a crime. That would be a necessary element of a money laundering conviction.

St. Onge, who died of natural causes before the July 

4, 2002, raid was the impetus for the police action. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police asked Costa Rican officials for certain information about a case there, and the raids were the result. In addition to the Mall San Pedro main location of the Villalobos operation, raids were carried out at branches of the Ofinter S.A. money exchange house operated by Oswaldo Villalobos and the Jacó condominium owned by St. Onge.

The summary also said that the Villalobos brothers had plans to set up an emergency committee to act on their behalf if they ever had to leave the country. 

Prosecutors say they will present 56 witnesses and three expert witnesses when the case goes to trial. Oswaldo is charged with fraud, money laundering, authorizing illegal acts and financial intermediation, which is best translated as running an unregistered bank.

The summary also said that some 600 creditors who filed fraud charges against the two brothers represent $76.5 million. If this is a typical cross section of creditors, the 6,200 creditors must represent at least 800 million. Most have not taken legal action against the brothers.

Luis Enrique Villalobos still is an international fugitive. Oswaldo Villalobos is in prison awaiting trial.

The summary of the allegations shows that Walter Espinoza has constructed a substantial case against Oswaldo Villalobos. Some creditors have argued that the raid of the Villalobos operation was simply an act of jealously instigated by the banking sector.

Prosecutors are treating the money exchange house operated by Oswaldo Villalobos as part of the same high interest borrowing operation closely identified with Enrique Villalobos.

It will be up to a trial before three judges to determine if the allegations are valid.

The fact that the Villalobos operation collected nearly $4 million after the raid seems to invalidate the argument by some creditors that the Villalobos could not continue to operate because their local bank accounts were frozen by prosecutors.


 
Summary of Villalobos case had new information
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Lawyer Arcelio Hernández has read the many pages of accusations against Oswaldo Villalobos and has prepared a summary of the charges. He has distributed them and A.M. Costa Rica uses his summary by permission.

He stressed that his essay contains "no legal opinions, just a general summary and highlights of what I read." He does not represent any person involved in the Villalobos case.

Page numbers refer to the charging document that is written in Spanish. His summary:

1. Only Oswaldo Villalobos is charged.

2. P. 26-28: ". . . to guarantee the perpetration of the fraud in damage of those who had given [them] money.  . ." Oswaldo Villalobos "in collusion with Luis Enrique Villalobos allowed and caused that through him, the funds collected from the investors went into the casa de cambio (money exchange business), to dispose of them in securities, disperse them in the financial system and hide the process of collection/investment that both were executing."

3. P. 28 Despite the fact that the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras’  "authorized and audited commercial activity" for Ofinter was the buying and selling of currency.  .. in reality it worked as a front company which also. . . intervened in illegal financial activities. . . was part of a gear of habitual collection of financial resources from the public in order to invest in securities, hide its origin and provoke damage..."

4. P. 28-29 ". . . family business .. that was always premeditated by the need to obtain an illicit gain through the causing of damage to third parties, so much so that since 1999 they had designed, foreseen and applied a system that tried to protect their patrimony and judicially, when the system of collection and payment of interests collapsed.

5. P. 29 Ofinter and the activity of collecting financial resources by "the Villalobos Brothers" operated in an integrated fashion. . . Ofinter was used ... as a front to execute other types of actions . . . (investments in dollars). . .  The integration under a common center of decisions. . . made it easy to hide the origin of capital investments, moving of flows of money, carry out illegal financial intermediation, invest the capitals in securities, make interest or principal payments to investors and structure a system directed to defraud those who invested with them.

6. . . . never made other investments than those described. . . Between January 1999 and July 2002, the logs of casa de cambio were altered and manipulated to hide the true nature of the actions in which they invested...

7. P. 36 . . . loss from selling of dollars has to do with a simulation to locate all dollars transacted in a given day in order to comply with Banco Central de Costa Rica norms and avoid the detection of illegal actions for which the casa de cambio was used, and to hide the origin of the funds received.

8. P. 60-61 Alvin Erwin Moss is mentioned as an extradited U.S. citizen, wanted for fraud. . . was extradited for fraud. . . two transfers for $250K each sent to the brothers. . . Oswaldo Villalobos invested one of the checks in BCR Valores (Banco de Costa Rica stock market) on March 10, 2000.

9. P. 62 The simulated buys of dollars were in reality collections (captaciones) that were later invested in the stock market.

10. P. 64 The interest obtained by the brothers was always inferior to the one they offered to investors, as the interest the brothers received ranged from 1 percent to 5 percent, per year, while they were offering 2.8 or 3 percent per month to investors, creating a false sense of security and solidity of their investments, when in reality the new money was used to pay old investors' interest and principal.

11. P. 80-81 Guarantee checks were "part of the deceit." They had no date, and the account from which they were drawn had a balance of less than $5,000. Checks were said to be "from the owner of the company". The "Alternative Emergency System" is mentioned (it will be explained below)

13. P. 82 . . .illicit economic benefit that they (the brothers) had obtained as a consequence of the fictitious investment system...

14. The list of names of about 600 filers is given, detailing the amounts, dates, and checks involved. These are presented by the prosecutor as victims of the fraud. The total amount invested they represent is $76,510,495.33.

15. A separate list includes those investors who gave money to the brothers after the July 4, 2002, 

raid, considered as specially defrauded because of the knowledge by the brothers that they would not pay them anything. These July investments total $3,882,210.03.

16. P.153 Money laundering is mentioned  P. 154 St. Onge & company are mentioned. . . a detail of the sentences they received: 

Normand Denault: 15 years for conspiring to import cocaine. 

Richard Rivers: 13 years and 6 months for the same. 

Sandra Kerwin St. Onge: suspended sentence for production of marihuana and possession of the proceeds of a crime. 

Bertrand Henri St. Onge died on March 10, 2002. 

An Ontario court stated that the monies deposited by Bertrand Henri St. Onge with the brothers' system were the product of a crime.

17. P. 160 About $7 million frozen from a large number of corporations and persons related to the brothers.

18. P. 161 Detail of charges: Fraud, illegal financial intermediation, authorization of illicit acts, money laundering.

P. 164  A supplementary accusation of money laundering by negligence.

P. 172 mentions the brothers investing about $203 million through 13 different persons and companies, which had a direct relationship with the investments given to the brothers.

19. P. 181 Explanation and grounds for the charge of fraud (estafa)... mentions a document where the brothers told their investors that the government of Costa Rica had not found a way of taxing their investment with them and thought their investment program too little to study, and that the brothers wished to keep it that way. About 62 companies are detailed which manage the money, which contain boards of directors on paper only, or "courtesy" boards.

20. P. 184-185 The "Emergency Alternative System" is detailed, indicating that they had left signed blank pages of the books of the companies in order to appoint directors to insure the enjoyment of the economic benefit obtained in case both brothers were absent from the country when the fraud was discovered.

21. P. 185-191 A meeting with the brothers' lawyers on July 1, 1999, and legal report is transcribed from notes taken by hand, and then typed, which say that the "writing of checks without funds is discarded (as a crime) because they have no date and it could be seen as a falsification of a document (a crime) [if a date was plugged in by the investor] . . . also that the issuing of checks as guarantee is illegal for the one issuing as well as for the one receiving it. . . If a date is put on the check, it is only good for one year. . . There are no documents to prove that [money] is owed to the investors". . . "go from the penal to the civil. . . commercial commission". . . Mall San Pedro is [to be] closed. . ." "the investors cannot attach any real property nor vehicles or airplanes because investors are not attended by any company, but rather at a personal level . . . "appoint a group of people  . . . to face investors . . ." "The Mall San Pedro offices would be rendered temporarily and forcefully closed — against our will — closed TEMPORARILY..."

P. 192 All of the above would always be done under the long-distance supervision of the Villalobos brothers, as they would maintain communications between the emergency group by radio, telephone and even Internet if necessary."  "It is also important to consider that the investors could have fear of suing judicially against Enrique Villalobos or don Osvaldo because the investments made here in Costa Rica evade taxes when dealing with U.S. citizens, as they could have problems with the IRS, or any similar system in any other country."

22. P. 194 The word "Ponzi" is used to describe the pyramid-like schemes here dealt with.

22. P. 200 The order of a Canadian judge to seize the Playa Jacó condominium and monies deposited with the brothers on  March 10, 2003, by the Canadians previously mentioned.

Evidence is offered, including a list of 56 witnesses and three expert witnesses, 29 boxes of evidence and numerous items seized. Separate volumes contain private prosecutions and civil actions by investors.

Note: This summary can be freely quoted, as long as credit is given to Lic. Arcelio Hernández, www.forovial.com


 
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Resolution is incomplete in resort owner's murder
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although there is a high probability that more than one man killed a popular Nicoya Peninsula resort owner, there is little likelihood that any more suspects will face justice.

Judicial officials successfully prosecuted Jorge Martín Gutiérrez Ordoñez, a local criminal, who got 35 years in prison last month.

But the victim’s wife said she is not aware of any further investigation.

The dead man is Percy Lee Wilhelm, 76, a U.S. citizen who died when he confronted at least one robber in the owners’ living quarters at the Oasis del Pacifico Marina and Resort last Oct. 27.

Wilhelm, a retired sea captain known as Lucky, and his wife also operated a popular expat gathering place, the Piano Bar in the Balmoral Hotel in San José.

Agatha Wilhelm, the victim’s wife, said Friday that she is sure that she saw two sets of footprints when she discovered the body of her husband at their home.

Mrs. Wilhelm was present at the four court sessions where she had the opportunity to come face to face with the man who killed her husband. "He looked like a cold guy. Nothing can bring back my husband. There was no need to kill him. It was cowardly taking his life in that way," she said.

Gutiérrez, known as "Coyoles," was picked up at the Coca Cola bus station in San José Nov. 5. 

One of the most important trial testimonies came from the man who saw that the mobile phone Gutiérrez was trying to sell him at a store near the bus station was, in fact, the property of Wilhelm. The phone had been taken during the crime.

Gutiérrez is well-known by local authorities in Nicoya and had a history of crimes. Although Mrs. Wilhelm says that she feels relieved that a man guilty of her husband’s murder has been brought to justice she still feels that the case is not closed.

A report on a DNA test of a blood spot that was suppose to link Gutiérrez to the crime was not introduced at the trial.

"I still know nothing about the results of the DNA tests," said Mrs. Wilhelm. "What I can say is that the judicial process was very thorough. Many witnesses were called, and I am confident that this man had a part to play in the murder of my husband. What I don’t know is if he is protecting someone else, 

Photo courtesy of Agatha Wilhelm
A friend, Jean Greer, took this photo of the Wilhelms a week before he was murdered.

maybe a member of his family or friend that was with him when my husband was murdered."

Mrs. Wilhelm said she strongly believes that there are other people in the community who are protecting someone who was the accomplice of Gutiérrez. 

She commended her lawyer, Sergio Sanchez Bagnarello, who she said was fundamental to bringing this case to court. Gutiérrez is due to appear in court again for an unrelated charge that could carry an additional 12 years in prison. 

After investigators arrested Gutiérrez they conducted searches of places where he had lived in Alajuelita, a San José suburb, and Orquetas de Sarapiquí. In Sarapiquí they found a shirt that had a small blood stain. That was the material that was supposed to be tested. 

The Wilhelms had a long career in the shipping and seagoing towing business before moving to Costa Rica in 1981. Mrs. Wilhelm is a native of Singapore.

The resort, on the east shore of the Nicoya Peninsula, had a pier, and it was popular with yacht operators.

A friend, also a sea captain, William R. Carr, has written a long tribute to Wilhelm, and it is published on the resort’s Web site. 


 
Constant talker is like a parrot who stepped in it
Habla más que una lora embarrada de mierda

"He/she talks more than a parrot that’s stepped in its own droppings." We employ this expression to refer to those annoying people who can never seem to stop talking or who talk too loud.

If you’ve ever spent time with a pet parrot you’ll understand this dicho immediately. Though it may seem a bit indelicate, it is nonetheless true that no animal does more squawking than a parrot whose cage has not been cleaned in several days, especially when he comes down from his perch and steps in his own droppings. 

Infuriated, his indignant shrieking could wake the dead. When I was a boy, we had two parrots, and one of my chores was their maintenance. Believe me, they would be sure to let the entire neighborhood know if I had gone too long without cleaning their cages. 

Of course we loved our parrots, and considered them among the world’s smartest birds. In fact one of them could sing the Costa Rican national anthem from beginning to end, which is better than I could ever do. They also referred to my parents as mami and papi.

Still, personally I do have mixed memories of those parrots. If you stood too near, they might come down from their perch and bite you through the bars of their cages, and then say sweetly, Lorita quiere galleta "The little parrot would like a cracker." And sometimes when I would come home late, tiptoeing through the house so as not to wake my parents, one of those infernal birds would start screeching ¡mami, Daniel llego tarde! "Mother, Daniel arrived late!" 

Those parrots adored my mother, and took it upon themselves to be her personal household informants.  Because mierda is considered to be 
something of a "bad" word, it is not recommended

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

that you use  Habla más que una lora embarrada de mierda in what used to be called "polite" company. If you like, however, you can clean it up a bit by saying Habla más que una lora, and leave it at that. 

You may have heard loras flying from tree to tree looking for mangoes to eat, or trying to find a tall tree to spend the night in safe from predators. 

In large groups they can be noisy and annoying. But because of their intelligence and ability to repeat what we teach them, they make wonderful family pets when domesticated. 

Problems arise, however, when unscrupulous poachers kill the mother parrot and take the babies to be exported and sold in pet stores around the world. Many of these baby parrots die in transport because they are carried in containers without sufficient ventilation. Remember, it is illegal in Costa Rica to export exotic animals, and that includes parrots.

But then, enough said. I’d better bring this to a close before some of you start accusing me of hablando más que una lora embarrada de mierda. 


 
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