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(506) 2223-1327        Published Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 200       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us

Ice hockey
in Heredia?

Believe it or not, there is a Costa Rican ice hockey league. Canadian Ambassador Neil Reider drops the puck to resume an ice hockey game in Heredia.

See our story
hockey faceoff

Kentucky governor trying to grab gambling domains
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Online gambling operations in Costa Rica have been blindsided by the governor of the U.S. State of Kentucky who is trying to seize control of some 140 Internet domains.

“Unlicensed, unregulated, illegal Internet gambling poses a tremendous threat to the citizens of the commonwealth because of its ease, availability and anonymity,” said the governor, Steve Beshear, in announcing that Kentucky has filed a request to have some 141 Internet gambling domain names turned over to the state.

The case, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet vs. 140 Internet Domain Names, continues in Franklin County, Kentucky, Circuit Court. The Governor's Office said that a judge initially ordered that the domain names be turned over to the state and that the court ordered the domain registrars to transfer the names to the account of the State of Kentucky.

But, according to the Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal, Judge Thomas Wingate only transferred two domains, and, both online casinos. The judge ordered hearings for the rest of the Internet sites.

The State of Kentucky did not provide any notices to the owners of the sites, and the whole question of judicial jurisdiction is up in the air. Some sites, like, are based in Costa Rica where they are legal. That domain is registered from the Netherlands Antilles, according to, which sold the domain name.

The hearing on the case continued Tuesday when lawyers for the gambling sites, hastily rounded up in Frankfort, where the court is located, and elsewhere in the United States, appeared. The court docket said that the judge received motions Tuesday.

The case has attracted the attention of free speech advocates as well as others concerned by the precedent that the case would set if the State of
Kentucky could take over an Internet site for activities that are legal elsewhere but illegal in that state.

“Unlicensed, unregulated, illegal Internet gambling poses a tremendous threat to the citizens of the Commonwealth because of its ease, availability and anonymity,” said Beshear in a news release  “The owners and operators of these illegal sites prey on Kentucky citizens, including our youth, and deprive the Commonwealth of millions of dollars in revenue.  It’s an underworld wrought with scams and schemes.”

By seizing the domain names, Kentucky can require that the illegal casino operators use readily available technology to block their domains from being accessed in the state, his office said.

J. Michael Brown, Kentucky Justice secretary, said that site owners, when registering domain names, agree to conditions that stipulate the domain name not be used for illegal purposes, the governor's office said.  He noted that some online gambling sites already block access to Kentucky users.

In an editorial, the Courier-Journal was not fully behind the governor: "Kentucky is an imperfect agent for any type of gambling crackdown. Horse racing is one of its signature industries, and its governor is eager to legalize casinos."

"One possible outcome is that Internet gambling operators might agree to regulation and taxes," the editorial said.

The U.S. federal government has taken action against online gambling. Executives of online firms have been indicted and haled into court. Plus the government had ordered credit card companies and other financial institutions to refuse to make transfers to known gambling sites. and owner Calvin Ayres left town and executives of the defunct still are involved in criminal action in the United States. Both firms provided hundreds of jobs in Costa Rica.

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detained fugitive
Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional photo
Luis Adrian Cruz is handcuffed Tuesday morning in La Garita.

Florida fugitive and wife
wed others here, cops say 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican officials said that a Cuban American fugitive and his wife both married local individuals in order to legalize their stay in the country.

The couple did not live with their Costa Rican spouses but together in La Garita, said officials, who announced the arrest of the man, Luis Adrian Cruz, 35, Tuesday.

He is wanted to face an allegation in Florida that he is a member of a cocaine ring that operated there in 2003 and 2004.

Cruz was detained by the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad Nacional, the local representatives of the International Police Agency. Also participating was the anti-money laundering unit of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The arrest was made at the request of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. A federal court in Florida has issued a warrant.

The ring in which Cruz is alleged to have been involved  had about 14 members. One still is a fugitive and 12 have been convicted, investigators said. The gang distributed from 50 to 80 kilograms (110 to 176 pounds) of cocaine a month, said officials here citing information from Florida. The Drug Enforcement Administration will say that Cruz had a key roll in supplying the drugs.

Local investigators began tracking Cruz in June in Alajuela, they said.

New airport management
is just a signature away

By Jose Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Contraloría de la República has given the transport ministry approval to modify its management contract for Juan Santamaría airport.

Karla Gonsález, minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes, said that the news closes a bitter chapter and that the airport will again be a first-class installation.

The approval means that Houston Airport System Development Co. will take over management from Alterra Partners, which has had continual financial problems. This may happen within two months.

The Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil, a dependency of the ministry, also sought the contract changes.

The consejo stiplated five conditions that include a reduction in tariffs for the aircraft companies using the field and completion of construction projects. The consejo and Houston also wanted to extend the contract from 20 to 25 years to give the company time to recoup its investment.

Minister González said that all that is missing now is the final signatures from Houston, which operates the sprawling airport in that city. The minister speculated that the new construction would be finished in 11 months. Work includes new facilities for immigration and more passenger lounges.

She said that the government would continue to try to collect a total of $10 million in fines levied against Alterra for being tardy.

Father and son in jail
in Cartago property case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A father and son in Cartago have gone to jail on suspicion that they tried to sell a piece of real estate owned by a North American to a Cartago businessman.

The father was identified by the last names of Godínez Méndez and the son has the last names of Godínez Gómez. The charge is one of fraud.

According to the Poder Judicial the two men offered a car dealer with the last names of Ulloa Vega the property. The name of the North American, who was reported to be out of the country, was not given, but the sale price was 90 million colons, about $164,000, the Poder Judicial said.

The two men told the car dealer that they would take 40 million colons (about $73,000) of that price in vehicles, said the Poder Judicial. The men were detained by the Judicial Investigating Organization Friday and jailed by the Juzgado Penal de Cartago.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 200

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Ice hockey youth league has real possibilities to develop
By Elyssa Pachico
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When Costa Rica's one and only youth ice hockey league came to Calgary for a training session with the women's Olympic team, it was not the first time the Canadian town had witnessed a tropical country tackle an icy sport.

As immortalized in the 1993 Disney film “Cool Runnings,” an improbable bobsled team from Jamaica became serious contenders at the 1988 winter Olympics in Calgary. Bruce
Bruce Callow
Bruce Callow
Callow, a Calgary native and head coach for Costa Rica's hockey league, witnessed the action while working onsite at the Olympics.

The Jamaican team was the biggest hit, he said. “Now, whenever we go to Calgary they don't think it's  strange to have an ice hockey team in Costa Rica. They give us a hand.”

Callow coaches El Castillo Knights, currently the only youth hockey league in Central America. The
team, whose players' ages range from 6 to 17, practice and compete at Costa Rica's sole ice rink at the Castillo Country Club in Heredia.

Increasingly, however, the team's dreams of international glory have outgrown the club's undersized ice rink, while the club's commitment to expanding the program is unclear.

“I've had at least half a dozen players that could have competed in junior or university hockey in Canada,” said Callow. “But then we don't have the facilities to develop them any further.”

Callow, who works as a political/communications officer at the British Embassy in San José, has been playing hockey since he was 7. After moving to Costa Rica in 1992, he began organizing official hockey games in 1996. For an ice rink, players used a plastic ice surface in the middle of the food court at the Real Cariari mall.

The hockey program at the Castillo Country Club emerged in 1997. El Castillo Knights have since gone on to win a tournament in Cuernavaca, Mexico, received praise from Canadian Ambassador Neil Reider and hosted the Air Canada touring team, the Vancouver Flying Pirates.

Callow said he believes Costa Rica has the potential to become a real force in international ice hockey, citing Mexico, whose players have competed in Division III world championships. Mexico currently ranks 38th in world rankings – not bad for a country with nine ice rinks, six of them based in Mexico City, and 1,223 registered players.

“We've seen some good players coming up in Costa Rica,” said Callow. “But because the rink is so small, the player finds it a bit tough to develop further after reaching a certain skill level.”

The small rink – which at 18 by 20 meters (about 59 by 65 feet), is much smaller than a regulation ice rink –  means that students are forced to practice all together on the ice at the same time, regardless of either skill level or age.

“You have little kids skating along with teenagers,” said Callow. “It's the same as an outdoor shinny game in Canada where everyone just shows up and starts playing. If we just had a little more ice time and a bigger rink, we'd start classifying players more.”

Limited space also means limited practice time: the team officially meets only once a week, for one and a half hours every Saturday afternoon for practice. The rest of the week, the ice rink is open to the public, and consequently dominated by figure skaters.

The Castillo Club plans to expand the ice rink, but has yet to set a date.

“At the moment, the club has an ambitious plan for expanding the ice rink to twice its size,” said Jeffrey Gómez, the club's director of deporte y recreación. “But I can't tell you when that project would begin. It depends on
hockey team
2006 team with goalie-coach Luis Felipe Salas

 the priorities of the board of directors.” 

Callow said he was also unsure if the planning stages of the project would ever leave limbo.

“I'm not sure how far along that's going,” he said. “As soon as that becomes a reality, we'll have a new opportunity to grow the program.”

Callow said that the program's very existence has been threatened at times.

“Periodically over the years it'll be discussed that it's better just to close down and use it for rollerskating or something like that,” he said of the ice rink. “Right now we're kind of facing that. It's come up in years past as well.”

Members of the club's board of directors could not be reached for comment.

“It's the department's priority to always rescue the hockey program,” said Gómez. “It's an appealing alternative for many.”   He said the program's existence depended more on its popularity with local Ticos.

“One of the program's conditions is that a minimum of 10 children need to participate in the program each year,” said Gómez. In the case that not enough students would enroll in the program, the permit would be broken, and the club would rent the ice rink to anybody who wanted to use it, he said.

According to Gómez, approximately 16 students are enrolled in the program right now. Both Callow and Gómez said that the team's ratio of Ticos to non-Ticos is consistently 25 percent to 75 percent.

Another pressing problem that El Castillo Knights face is a question of equipment. Even in Mexico, where many ice rinks rent masks and sticks for as low as $3 per use, prices have prevented the game from growing in popularity.

Thanks to a little help from the Goals and Dreams Fund, a foundation run by National Hockey League Players' Association, the Knights received $30,000 worth of equipment and skates. The Calgary Flames provided helmets, while other small towns in Canada have donated secondhand equipment.

Taking care of the club's ice rink is another challenge.

“The technology at the rink goes back to the late 1960's,” said Callow. “We don't have a Zamboni, just an ice planer. It's very simplistic. But they do a really good job at maintaining it themselves.”

While El Castillo Knights have survived despite these odds, the question remains whether the team will ever have the space, time and equipment that would allow them to compete internationally. The ice rink at the Castillo Club, meanwhile, remains a key stepping stone.

After trying to keep the program alive all these years, it would be a real shame if for any reason the ice rink was closed down, Callow said. “Putting something else there like a dance hall, there'd be no comparison. But not everybody is as big a hockey fan as I am.”

The El Castillo Knights ice hockey program,maintains this Web site:

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 200

Cruise passengers head back to their ships after a day of touring, shopping and enjoying Costa Rica.

limon docks
Ministerio de Gobernación,  Policía y Seguridad Pública photo by Guillermo Solano

Security officials beefing up oversight in Limón to protect cruise passengers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Security officials are beefing up the police presence in Limón as this season's cruise ship arrivals begin.

Officials are trying to avoid the bad publicity generated in 2007 when a 70-year-old U.S. cruise passenger fought and killed a street robber while taking a brief tour of the city of Limón.

José Torres, vice minister of Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública, said security efforts are being made at the docks, along the bus routes and at sites of interest to tourists. Cruise passengers usually have a few hours to see the area and have a choice of tours.

Torres said that the Policía Turística will be contacting business operators in the area to determine where security is lacking.

Torres said that the tourism police report that crime has been reduced some 26 percent in the area, although
statistics are uncertain in Costa Rica where many crimes are not reported.

The security ministry embarked on a 100-day program to crack down on crime in Limón. They also targeted crack cocaine, which is an instigator of crime. At the end of the 100 days, security officials said the effort would continue.

Limón Centro depends on tourism and already took a hit this year when health officials canceled the annual Limón carnival for the second year in a row because the area is awash in uncollected garbage. Health officials also fear that some garbage can be breeding areas for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

It was in February 2007 when a former Marine, a passenger on a Carnival Liberty cruise ship, fought back against a robber and broke the man's neck. The tourist was transported quickly back to the ship and left the area the same day.

However, the case made headlines around the world.

Lawmakers move to censor polling reports near election time
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa is about to penalize the publication of truthful information of high public importance around elections.

This is the plan to jail the operators of news companies who publish the results of public opinion polls. Lawmakers of the Comisión Especial de Reformas Electorales dickered over the penalty Tuesday night and finally decided on two to four years in prison.

The section of the new electoral code forbids publication of
the results of public opinion polls relating to the election
three days before and on the day of the vote.

Such prohibitions have been traditional and enforced by the Tribunal Suprema de Elecciones.

Election officials and lawmakers fear that the results of a survey will affect the outcome of the election.

Although the Costa Rican Constitution provides freedom of speech, it also provides for penalties for those who abuse that right. The censorship of election polling data likely will be litigated in the Sala IV Constitutional Court. And, of course, the proposal would not affect electronic or print media published outside the country but available here.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 200

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Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


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Energy minister in Perú
quits in contract scandal

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Peru's energy minister has resigned over allegations that key government officials were accepting kickbacks in exchange for steering lucrative oil contracts to a Norwegian-based company.

Energy Minister Juan Valdivia quit Monday, one day after a local television program aired an audiotape of a conversation between Alberto Quimper, a high-ranking official in the state energy agency Perupetro, and a member in President Alan Garcia's Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana political party.

The conversation involved Discover Petroleum, which was recently awarded four separate oil contracts. 

Quimper and César Gutíerrez, the head of the country's state oil operations company, have been forced from their positions because of the scandal.   Government officials say the contracts awarded to Discover Petroleum have been suspended.

Tropical Storm Marco
expected to break up

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tropical Storm Marco is pummeling the central Mexican coast after making landfall early Tuesday about 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Veracruz.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the compact storm has maximum winds of 100 kph (62 mph) and is moving inland. It is expected to weaken quickly as it moves over the high mountains of central Mexico. Forecasters say the storm could break up completely by today.

Mexican authorities discontinued a hurricane watch for the region after Marco did not reach hurricane strength as expected.
But a tropical storm warning remained in effect from Veracruz north to Cabo Rojo. The storm is expected to dump five to 15 centimeters (two to 6 inches) of rain across eastern parts of central Mexico.

Meanwhile, forecasters say Hurricane Norbert continues to move aimlessly in the Pacific Ocean off the Mexican coast.

The storm has winds of 120 kph (75 mph), and is centered several hundred kilometers south of the Mexican peninsula of Baja California. 

The hurricane center says Norbert should pick up strength during the next two days, but is not expected to threaten land. 

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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