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(506) 2223-1327                      Published Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 199                          Email us
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Tourism group seeks to become the ruling colegio
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative committee is studying a proposal to incorporate the national tourism employee organization as a colegio, a legally designated public agency that would restrict and supervise those who work in the field.

The bill is No. 18390, and it is being supported by the Cámara Nacional de Turismo. The employee organization is the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo, known by the acronym Acoprot. This is the group that organizes the tourism trade show called Expotur each year.

The measure has been referred to the legislature's Comisión Permanente Especial de Turismo.

A colegio is a professional organization created by law that sets up a system of self-governance for the persons who work in the area. There are colegios here for physicians and surgeons, nurses, lawyers, librarians, dentists, accountants, engineers, biologists, journalists and many others.

These are far more than professional clubs. Typically the law restricted work in the field to those who have been accepted by the colegio.

Membership in a colegio generally requires a formal course of study and perhaps even a university degree.

Such is the case with the proposed Colegio de Profesionales en Turismo. Work in the field would be restricted to members of the colegio. Current members of the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo would be incorporated automatically upon publication of the proposed law. Others would have to have certain qualifications.

Eligible would be foreigners with more than five years of residency in the country who had obtained a doctoral, master's, bachelor's degree or a diploma in a field related to tourism.

Costa Ricans also would have to have degrees from recognized academic institutions, although individuals without such qualifications could become members if they already are working in the field, according to a summary of the law.

Colegio membership would be mandatory for any person or firm that seeks to do research or

consultancy in tourism or work for a public agency in that area. Says the proposed law in part:

Only members of the colegio will have the right to occupy positions in public administration, public institutions, public firms, autonomous institutions, public institutions or private entities for which degrees or diplomas are required. The general laws of Costa Rica provide penalties for persons working outside required colegio membership.

The colegio creates a dignified profession of tourism and set ethical standards, according to the summary.

There really is no mention of the scope of the work involved, leaving open the question of whether a porter who carries the bags of tourists will have to be a member of the colegio. Some colegios exempt owners of businesses. For example, under Costa Rican law, the owner of a newspaper need not be a member of the Colegio de Periodistas. But this law does not mention that exemption.

The summary also continues the fiction that Costa Rica receives more than 2 million tourists a year, when, in fact, many person who are not traditional tourists enter the country with that type of visa, including more than 450,000 Nicaraguans each year.

There is no mention of establishing fees or salaries even though some colegios do for their members.

The tourism chamber said that Agnes Gómez Franceschi, president of the legislative tourism committee, expected quick passage to the full legislature.

Most students in Sociology 101 learn about the traditional professional groups, lawyers, the clergy, physicians and members of the military. Professions have a unique body of knowledge, established standards and generally a system of discipline for its members. The concept has expanded greatly in recent years to include many other occupations.

Constitution court will review anti-hunting proposal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A significant minority of lawmakers moved Thursday to refer a law banning sports hunting to the Sala IV constitutional court for review.

Proponents doubted that the court would find flaws in the proposed law or the way it received initial approval. This is the first bill that has come to the legislature through a public initiative. Some 177,000 persons signed petitions to have the law enacted. One technical problem is that the period lawmakers had for acting on the proposal has expired.

In addition to banning sports hunting in the country, the bill would enact a $7 tax on all vehicles when owners renew the registration and also when a
registration is issued the first time. The tax also would be assessed when a construction permit is issued and when a property owner pays taxes to a municipality. The money would go to a wildlife fund.
Lawmakers from Movimiento Libertario, Accesibilidad sin Exclusión and Unidad Social Cristiana sought judicial review.  That is a lawmaker's right.

The bill still lacks second and final approval that was supposed to come Thursday.

Legislative sources said that the court usually takes up to a month to study typical bills. Until the court responds, no vote can be taken.

A news story Thursday HERE! said that the proposal would not have strong impact on the county because sports hunting is not popular here. The bill allows hunting for subsistence, although that activity is not well defined.

A letter writer today says that current no-hunting laws are widely disregarded and that she expects the same with the new proposal.

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Our readers' opinion
She pegs shots at hunters
to keep them off her land

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have to reply to the article “Hunting ban has little impact, gun shop owners say”

I live in the Diamante Valley where hunting is rampant, especially during Christmas Week and Semana Santa, when the hunters know that Minae and other government offices are closed. Many of the people come here specifically from the San Jose area during this time to hunt.  

These hunters do not just hunt food, they shoot anything that moves: monkeys, dogs, etc.  Pacas (tepiszquentis) are the prime target because supposedly the meat is excellent.
I laughed out loud at the quote “The law is not good because hunting is not big here.”  No, actually the law is not good because Ticos traditionally think La ley is basura and they openly ignore it.  Want proof? Look at the number of hunting dogs in this country.
I’ve had many run-ins with hunters on my property, have called the police (who came, in full SWAT gear), have had people arrested, and finally had to resort to shooting into the woods where the hunters are.  Fear of the crazy Gringa with a gun is the only thing that has worked.  
I really do hope that they pass the law, but I’m afraid it’s not going to make any difference.  Especially with articles like this, scoffing at the need for anti-hunting laws.
Linda Gray
Rancho Tranquilo

Welfare families, benefits
dropped in United States

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It sure is cool when righties spout off a bunch of nonsense without doing any homework.   FACTS:  The number of Americans who crossed into poverty between 1996  (year of welfare reform act - Aid to Families with Dependant Children) and 2010 was 10 million.  Welfare is almost entirely handled at a state level, not federal.  During that period with the states getting more of the say in welfare from AFDC, the number of qualifying families nationwide receiving benefits dropped from 68 per 100 to 27 per 100.  The amount of benefit also dropped, down 19 percent (adjusted for inflation) since 1996.    Yes, getting your info entirely from Romney commercials can be hazardous to your editorial life.

Glenn Kennedy
Jaco/St. Petersburg, Florida

Fox news is fantasy channel,
so the new fee is appropriate

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I don't see why charging $4 per month for FOX news should be a problem as most fantasy channels must also be paid for on Cable TV. This could be another conspiracy the non-U.S. born Obama has to take over the world. If you get the channel back, watch close you might see that story!

In addition, you may want to look to Rupert Murdoch's pricing policies before you automatically point a finger at Cable Tica (I must admit I am no fan of Cable Tica)
Bruce Wood

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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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 199
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Immigration will begin collecting $100 fee for overstayed visa
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Starting at the beginning of next year, the Dirección General de Migracion y Extranjeros will impose a new fee for foreigners who overstay a tourist visa, according to Mario Zamora Cordero, security minister.

Delinquent persons will have to pay $100 for every month over their allowed visa period at the time they are caught.  If the person cannot pay, he or she will be denied entry for a period that is triple the time that they overstayed, he said Thursday.

“So if you stay one month more, you won't be allowed to enter for three months,” said Freddy Montero Mora, deputy director general of immigration.  “If you stay a full year, you can't come back for three years.”

Montero said border employees do not check for traffic tickets at the border.  That was in response to news stories elsewhere that said persons who owe traffic tickets will not be allowed to reenter the county. He also said that the agency does not have the tools to crack down on so-called perpetual tourists.

If a person leaves the country within the visa period and has the correct documentation, immigration agents will not bar them from returning.  A perpetual tourist is a foreigner who lives here and renews a tourist visa, usually every 90 days, by traveling outside the country.

“If you want to keep leaving and coming back, that's your decision,” he said. His comments were perhaps the most clear ever uttered on the subject by an immigration official.

However, applying the law and its fee will help stop people from living here illegally, said Zamora. The provisions for the fee and the requirement to stay out of the country for three
times the illegal period are in the 2010 immigration law, but the measure had not been enforced until now.

This news came at a conference about a study the immigration agency did to compare the entry and requirement policies for 201 countries.

The study found that Costa Rica requires citizens of 109 countries to apply for a visa prior to entering the country. 

These include persons from nations like Colombia, Nicaragua and Jamaica.

However, Ticos do not receive the same courtesy, officials noted.  Twenty-five of the 93 countries whose citizens are allowed to visit Costa Rica without a consular visa, request such visas from the citizens from here. These such countries include the United States, Canada and Australia.

The discrepancies exist because of the economical, social and cultural differences of each country.  Underdeveloped countries may have more lenient polices where countries with big industries have tighter policies, Zamora said.

The same thing is true about countries with more controlling governments.

“In countries without strong democratic authorities, the policy tends to be very strict,” said Montero.

Currently the immigration agency does not have a plan to change its policy, but an investigation will be conducted to see why countries are requiring Costa Ricans to have visas.  “This gives us hints on how to interpret possible changes,” said Montero. Most First World citizens receive a tourist visa simply by filling out a piece of paper upon entry. A consular visa requires at least one visit to a Costa Rican consulate overseas.

Major circle
gets asphalt

Traffic officials say workers will  remove and replace asphalt at the  Rotonda de la Hispanidad below the Circunvalación in San Pedro starting tonight. The work, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day, is expected to be done by Tuesday morning. This is the traffic circle south of Mall San Pedro, a portion of which  can be seen in the lower right.
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A look back on my relationship with The Tico Times
This is a sad farewell and thanks for the memories column. I am remembering my relationship with The Tico Times, which sadly, ended its print publication last Friday.

In the late 1980s I visited Costa Rica.  Before I returned to the U.S., I subscribed to The Tico Times. Each week I read about the little country I had fallen in love with.  I was impressed by the investigative reporting and loved reading about the adventures of the columnist, whose name I have forgotten, but who described living in a wilderness I could not imagine.  I was fortified and heartened to learn about all of the activities and clubs an expat had access to.

A couple of years after I moved to Costa Rica, I became really annoyed with the letters to the editor from expats and visitors complaining about one thing or another in what I considered a very livable little country.  So I wrote a perspective entitled “Mussolini Made the Trains Run on Time.  Yes, but…” and sent it to The Tico Times.  To my surprise, they published it.

After that I had the pleasure and fun of getting to know Susan Liang, then an editor with The Tico Times, and one day told her that The Tico Times should run a column about living in San José to balance the columns by Mitzi, who masterfully painted life in the country.  Susan said, “Why don’t you do it?” (Or words to that effect).  So I wrote a column which I called, “I’ll Take the City,” and again, to my surprise, The Tico Times took it.  I think Susan had something to do with that. 

I also recall she gave me my first part in a play produced by the Little Theatre Group – that of a bag lady whose dream it was to live in McDonald’s.

I didn’t live far from The Tico Times office at the time, so I walked down the hill and delivered my typed column in person once a week.  It wasn’t always published once a week.
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

Then one day, a new, young editor told me I didn’t need to
write any more columns. I was sorry (and surprised) to hear that. Actually, I was crushed, but I had to smile, later, because it was my first experience being fired.  And I got my first job when I was 12.

And then, a couple of years later, to my surprise (you would think my life has been full of surprises), Jay Brodell appeared upon the scene.  He had recently resigned as general manager at the TT and suggested that I might like to write a column for the daily online newspaper he was planning to launch. I jumped at the chance.  A few days after the job offer we were walking towards the Centro Cultural in Los Yoses. and he suggested we needed a picture. So I sat on the stone wall, and he snapped my photo.  It is not the one I have today, but we used it for years.

Meanwhile, we all move on.  Tico Times owner Dery Dyer married, and I am sure has found a busy and satisfying life outside of the newspaper world. Susan is doing house exchanges and living in every country I would like to visit.  And Ann Antkiw who did a beautiful job writing the restaurants reviews, will be working as hard as she has all of her life, it seems, as well as continuing to be a dynamic force in the Little Theatre Group of Costa Rica. Ann and I were roommates for a while until she went off to Africa on a safari.  Later, we started a catering business.  Her frozen dishes were much better than mine, and I hear she is now making her pot pies available.

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You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 199
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Crooks take job prospects for a ride to steal the vehicle
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The ever-resourceful car thieves have a new technique in the Central Valley.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the crooks begin by placing advertisements for jobs. The person sought is someone who has his own vehicle and has the desire to work as a contract driver. The soon-to-be victim emails a resume along with other personal information.

A supposed businessman on the other end of a telephone line responds to the job seeker and asks the applicant to undergo a driving test in the company of a mechanic for the firm.
The victim and the fake mechanic go for a ride, and the driver is told to stop at some location to retrieve a package for the company. When the owner leaves the car, the fake mechanic drives it away.

Upon contacting the presumed businessman again, the victim is told that he has to pay 1 million colons to get back the vehicle.

In one case, agents said, the fake mechanic resorted to displaying a pistol to commandeer the car.

Agents said they think that the vehicle theft scheme originates with prisoners already in jail with help from associates outside. This is a continuing problem.

Spanish photographer documents life and legends in Haiti
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The spiritual as well as everyday life of the Haitian people will travel from the lens of Spanish photojournalist Luis Alcalá del Olmo to Museo Nacional through an exhibition which opens today.

“Haití: los espíritus de la tierra,” consists of 80 of the photographer's pictures.  They provide close shots of faces, gestures, expressions and landscapes to tell the many stories of the Haitian people.

In the collection, 44 large format pictures illustrate six different Voodoo rituals practiced by Haitians.

One of these voodoo Laos or spirits is Baron Samedi.  Usually shown wearing dark glasses, a top hat and tuxedo, he is a Voodoo spirit of the dead and is called upon to heal those in chronic stages. Another is Erzulie Freda, a goddess of love and wealth. She is thought to bring good fortune to those which serve her. 

The other 36 photos show the effect of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake.  This 7.0 magnitude disaster killed more than 300,000 people and rendered around 1,000,000 others homeless.  Many of these people still live in relief tents put up two years ago.

Alcalá was born in Madrid, Spain, and began his professional career as a freelance photographer for various international news agencies in South America and the Caribbean, said museum spokespersons.

Throughout his 20-year career as a photojournalist, he documented numerous political and cultural events.  He has received numerous awards for human interest and visual anthropology from National Geographic, the U.N. Children's
Haitian woman
One of the photos in the exhibit

Fund and the Overseas Press Club,  they added.

The photo exhibit will be available until Jan. 6. The cost is 1,500 colons, but students and children under 12 years get in free. Sunday admission is free to the public.

New sensors will keep track of movement at slide areas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission said it has installed monitoring stations at locations of possible landslides in the Central Valley.

They are Burio in Escazú, Tablazo in Desamparados, Chitaría in Santa Ana and Cerro Cedral. Monitors also have been placed at the Poás, Irazú and Turrialba volcanoes.

In the future, similar devices will be put along the Río Sarapiquí and one at the Río Pirrís in Parrita, the agency said.

The devices and installation cost 150 million colons, said the
agency, correctly called the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias. That is about $300,000.

The locations are well known as possible danger areas.

Among other data, the monitors will collect rainfall and humidity information so the agency's central operations center can estimate the chance of a slide. In the case of the volcanoes, the sensors also report wind direction for use in case an eruption sends ash into the sky.

The agency also has erected a retaining fence at the base of the  Chitaría slide in Santa Ana to catch stray bounders and dirt, it said.

Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 199
Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart

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Facebook hits a billion
as online becomes usual

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As Facebook celebrates the milestone of having one billion users, social media experts are taking a look at how social networking has evolved.

Consultant Mari Smith said that social media developments have changed the way that people conduct business.

"In essence, we have removed the middle person from a business standpoint. Anybody can put up a Facebook page and put up various Web sites and blogs and drive traffic from other social channels," said Ms. Smith.

In a Thursday statement, Facebook said it reached the one billion active monthly users threshold in mid-September.

In an interview on the U.S.-based NBC television network's "Today" show, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg described the achievement as "just unbelievable." He helped launch the company in 2004 while he was a student at Harvard University.

Peter Corbett, the head of the iStrategyLabs digital agency, said social networking is not as exciting now as it was in 2004 because it is so widely used.

"I think it's gotten more boring. In the early days, 2004 to 2008, everything was new. Everything was exciting. Facebook had maybe a million users. Twitter had just launched in 2007. And now that we are in 2012, we are in mass adoption phase. Just thinking about a billion users on Facebook, that's mass, globally mass," he said.

Corbett said in the future, he expects social media tools to be integrated into everyday products such as refrigerators and coolers.

Harvard's face is crimson
over big cheating scandal

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

America’s first college, Harvard University, is almost universally regarded as our gold standard of higher learning.

So much so that in jest, students in other parts of the country sometimes call their colleges “the Harvard” of this place or that, knowing that no other school could match the old Ivy League institution in the Boston suburb of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Traditionally, only the crème de la crème of the nation’s high-school graduates are admitted, and a Harvard degree is said to be a sure ticket to a lucrative career.

But haughty Harvard is dealing with an embarrassing blemish on its record and reputation.
It’s a cheating scandal possibly implicating as many as 125 students in a government class. It’s the sort of incident that sometimes besets a less-prestigious institution, which is precisely what has Harvard, its critics, and its alumni astir.

Dozens of varsity athletes have been connected to the cheating episode, involving a take-home test last academic year, just when Harvard’s basketball team had become one of the nation’s 25 best, for the first time ever.

This has prompted hand-wringing in the academic community, which is fearful that Harvard is beginning to mirror the practice at some other schools of cutting corners for prized athletes and admitting some students just because they can throw a football or shoot a basketball.

Two star players who were co-captains of the Crimson basketball team have taken leave from school this season, according to Harvard officials.  “Without integrity, there can be no genuine achievement, either at Harvard or anywhere else,” the undergraduate dean, Jay Harris, said in a statement soon after the cheating was discovered.

Familiar rationales for the cheating have been sounded: Stressed students are more interested in scoring good grades than with learning.  The easy access to information online makes plagiarism and cheating easier than ever.  Universities no longer stress ethics.  And professors who are immersed in their research often pay less attention to teaching.

These arguments might ease the embarrassment at some universities.  But at 376-year-old Harvard University, they do not.

Fake or faulty drugs seen
as major world health woe

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization estimates that 25 percent of medicines sold in poor countries are counterfeit.  Monitoring by the World Bank and others suggests the overall global trade in fake and substandard drugs is now more than $30 billion per year. Experts are asking for stricter regulation and better international collaboration to check this public health menace.

Some 40 percent of the drugs available in many sub-Saharan African and South American countries are either fake or substandard, according to research by the World Bank and international public health groups.  And experts say the widespread circulation of poor-quality or substandard medicines leads to frequent treatment failure and even loss of life. 

Experts working to stop this counterfeit drug traffic met in Washington recently to discuss legal and enforcement solutions.  Louise Shelley is a criminologist and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University in Virginia.

“We are focusing much more on narcotics trafficking rather than on counterfeits that can do harm to many more individuals than consuming of illicit drugs," said Ms. Shelley.

Ms. Shelley says sophisticated transnational criminal organizations are behind the manufacture and distribution of drugs that do not conform to proper standards.  She says only a coordinated international effort can deal with organized crime on this scale.

“I think WHO, law enforcement community, consumer organizations, civil society everybody has a role in it," she said.

“You have no guarantee of the safety, efficacy or quality of those products," said Margaret Hamburg.

Dr. Hamburg heads the Food and Drug Administration, the federal agency which oversees the safety of drugs and food products in the United States.  The FDA took strong action this week against thousands of internet pharmacies selling illegal medical products.

Patrick Lukulay of The United States Pharmacopeia, an organization that sets standards for medicines, says drug purity needs to be ensured through an international initiative, because the ingredients come from many parts of the world.

“In the U.S. 80 percent of active ingredients come from either India or China into the U.S. so U.S. companies are vulnerable," said Lukulay.

“In India you have 10,000 manufacturing companies, and so although the regulators are making investments it’s difficult to catch up," said Andreas Seiter.

Seiter is a global pharmaceutical expert.  He says many countries need to increase their regulatory capabilities.

And Michael Bates of the World Health Organization says it is not only patients who are ignorant about fake medicines. He says many health professionals are also unaware.

“This is a complex international trade.  And we need greater information on the scale and the scope, the harm and economic damage done by this issue to convince the policy makers to commit resources to tackle this," said Bates.

Experts say a worldwide, coordinated effort is needed to deal with the problem, including better monitoring and regulation, upgrades in law enforcement capabilities, and the sharing of testing technology.
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 199
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Venezuelans ready to vote
in Sunday's elections

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Venezuelans,including those living in Costa Rica, are eligible to go to the polls Sunday to elect a president.

They can choose to either extend President Hugo Chavez's almost 14-year rule for another six years or pick his younger challenger, Henrique Capriles to lead the nation. While the Venezuelan leader's ongoing battle with cancer has been a prominent issue in the presidential race, that for many voters this election will be a referendum on the results of Chavez's socialist policies.

Venezuela is one of those countries that allow citizens outside the country to vote at embassies and consulates.

In Costa Rica, the sentiment of voters appears to be for  Capriles because many of the Venezuelans here fled the country as a result of policies enacted by Chávez.

The  Consejo Nacional Electoral established voting places all over the world. The Consejo said that those overseas had to have changed their residency in its records in order to vote. If they have done so they only need a government-issued cédula to vote.

Yacht spotted by U.S. Navy
captured by Guardacostas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 50-foot yacht first spotted by a U.S. Navy aircraft crew turned out to have a cocaine cargo, the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas said Thursday.

The U.S. aircraft crew on anti-drug patrol alerted local officials Tuesday afternoon, the Guardacostas said. That brought four Costa Rican launches to intercept the vessel about 1 p.m. Wednesday. The Guardacostas said their crewmen found four persons, two Costa Ricans and two Colombians on the boat, which bore the ironic name "No Problem."

The interception was in the Pacific some 18 kilometers off Playa Carate on the Osa peninsula.

The Guardacostas said there were 653 kilos of cocaine on board.

In an unrelated discovery, officers and agents of the Policía de Control de Drogas Wednesday found a partly scuttled fastboat at the Isla del Caño and managed to confiscate some eight kilos of cocaine.

Work at hydro plant means
weekend water cutoff

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national water company will be cutting off service to customers in much of the eastern Central Valley from noon Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday, according to an announcement.

The outage has to do with work at the Río Macho hydro plant in Paraíso de Cartago, said the Instituto Nacional de  Acueductos y Alcantarillados.

The area where there will be no water is as far west as downtown San José, as far south as Desamparados and as far north as Moravia.

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