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(506) 2223-1327         Published  Friday, Oct. 8, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 199            E-mail us
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Arrest is just minor inconvenience for some crooks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As in the words of Yankee great Yogi Berra, it was déjà vu all over again for police.

The first case was that of a man with the last names of Garcia Tovar. The Policía Turistica picked him up Wednesday about 4 p.m. near the La Merced church. They said he was carrying 40 grams of cocaine, 282,000 colons and $370.  The man tried to flee, but officers caught him, they said.

Police also discovered that the man carried a Colombian passport that did not show any entry stamps for Costa Rica, said Eric Aguilar of the tourism police.

Police turned the man over to prosecutors for processing.

Then Thursday morning two tourism police officers spotted the same man near the building of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros in north San José. The man again was carrying cocaine, some 45 grams, officers said. Once again the man was turned over to prosecutors.

In San Antonio de Belén Wednesday other Fuerza Pública officers broke up a robbery at an auto parts store. Police detained two suspects, who, they found out later, had been sentenced to seven years for armed robbery. However, the men, identified by the last names of Gómez Duarte and
Belen suspect
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
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One of the two Belén suspects awaits transport

Pérez Cárcamo, had been granted  conditional liberty by the courts, officers said.

The robbers pulled a gun on the store operator about 2 p.m. and tried to carry off a small safe. Asdrúbal Morra, the chief of the Belén region for the Fuerza Pública said that officers recovered 54,000 colons and 70,000 colons in the safe. They also recovered an expensive cell telephone belonging to the store operator, he said.

The two suspects are in preventative detention, according to officers.

Quake estimated at 5.9 rattles country Friday night
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 9:40 p.m. Friday

An earthquake estimated at a magnitude of 5.9  rattled Costa Rica Friday night just before 8  p.m.

Te hour=long news shows on Channel 6 and Channel 7 covered the quake live as the studios in San José shook.

The epicenterr was estimated tobe 9 kilometers each of Zarcero in the country's mountain foothills. The time was set at 7:54, said the Observatorio
Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica

The U.S. National Earthquake Information Center agreed on the magnitude.

The quake was blamed on the Coco tectonic plate on which much of Costa Rica rides. The quake was felt all over the country, including the Central Valley.  The duration was about eight seconds.

The location is about 45 kilometers (30 miles) north northeast of San José. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Open pit gold mine opponents plan hunger strike
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-mining protesters say they will begin a hunger strike in front of Casa Presidencial today. The protesters are members of the Frente Norte de Oposición a la Minería and Coordinadora Ni Una Sola Mina.

The hunger strike is supposed to begin at 4 p.m. The action is against the proposed open pit gold mine at Cutris de San Carlos operated by the Costa Rican subsidiary of a Canadian company. These are many of the same people who took hikes from San José to the mine site to pressure the executive branch to rescind an Óscar Arias Sánchez decree that advanced the mining project.

The organizers said they would hold what they said was a fast for life to demonstrate the fragility of
life and to bring their case to international communities.

The major complaints are that the company would use cyanide to leach the gold from crushed rock and that the mining operation would knock down trees.

Costa Rican officials fear that an arbitrary action against the mining company would land them in an expensive international arbitration. The Sala IV constitutional court already has validated the agreement the company has with Costa Rica. The case now is in another court where the process of approving the project is being considered.

Gold was at more than $1,300 an ounce Thursday.

Casa Presidencial is the site of frequent protests and sit-ins.

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Our reader's opinions
Fishing contest demanded
anglers kill their tarpon

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I wish to comment on the fishing tournament held recently in Los Chiles Alajuela. The rules of this tournament required the anglers to KILL any tarpon caught so that they may be weighed. This is an outrage. It is unnecessary to kill fish for sport. They could have been measured, photographed, or filmed to ascertain the winner.

Luckily the water conditions were less than ideal, and only one tarpon was caught, killed, and strung up at the dock in Los Chiles. Its bloodied corpse was then seen by many tourists returning from their wildlife trips up the Río Frio. What sort of example of ecological conservation is that?

I have visited this area several times and always practice catch and release. Our freshwater environments are critically endangered worldwide. Tarpon are not good eating, and there should be a focus on preserving the fauna and flora and not killing for sport.
John Petchey

Developers do not have right
for water at their projects

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I think your recent article Oct. 7, 2010, "A Pacific canton issues a plea for economic help," though informative about the pressing situation is unfair at the least if not down right misleading with regards to the water situation in the Coco, Hermosa, Sardinal region. 

By saying “even though they paid for the project” implies that they (the developers) have a right to the resource because
they paid someone for something.  Those developers building condominiums and other projects on a desert beach area where arguably it is already overbuilt because of the water availability, by passed the laws intentionally or perhaps not and have been ordered to go back to the drawing board leaving the investors bleeding. I trust future investors get the point.

As the former president of the ecological NGO Fuentes Verdes, we have the same problem here in the Lake Arenal region where a developer has plans for a project of upwards of 300 condominiums. The Sala IV has ruled that they have not complied with the laws regarding water acquisition, leaving them with no legal water. 
That these issues are complex is without doubt, but when it comes to potable water and a sustainable future for the community here regardless of the world economic situation there is a line to be drawn. 

So for you to write “even though they paid for the project” is journalistically irresponsible given you don’t mention what the Sala IV (Supreme Court) says they are in the wrong.

Edward Yurica
Tilaran, Guanacaste

Tariff by Dominican Republic
will be contests by nation

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is contesting with the World Trade Organization the Dominican Republic’s decision to put duties on polypropylene bags. The two countries have free trade as part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The Dominican Republic has put what it calls safeguard measures comprising a 38 percent duty for a period of 18 months, according to the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior. This type of trade measure is allowed to protect a local industry from sudden heavy competition. It must be for a fixed time period. In this case it applies to all importers, not just Costa Rica. There was a 30-day period for negotiation before the legal action started.

With the advantage of the free trade agreement Costa Rica has exported $6.5 million in bags and tubes over the last three years, with Costa Rican companies supplying the majority of the market there, the ministry said.

“For our country the imposition of this measure is a violation of WTO rules and a mockery of the preferential terms negotiated as part as the treaties between both countries,” said the vice-minister of foreign commerce, Fernando Ocampo.

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 HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 8, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 199

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Chinese soon will get shots
of country's cafe liqueur

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposed free trade agreement with China would eliminate import duties there on frozen orange juice, fresh flowers, leathers, rum and other liquors. And the proposal would eliminate over five years duties of from 12 to 25 percent on frozen beef, chicken and pork.

Frozen orange juice carries a 7.5 percent import duty, according to the Promotora del Comercio Exterior. Fresh flowers are assessed at 10 percent by the Chinese. Leather can be assessed from 5 to 8.4 percent, Promotora said.

Alcoholic beverages now carry a 10 percent duty when imported to China.

Already the Costa Rican firm  Salicsa S.A has struck a deal to provide Cafe Rica, the firm's signature coffee liqueur, to 50 outlets in Beijing, China. Promotora said that the negotiations to achieve this took 18 months.

Cafe Rica is a competitor of the Mexican Kalúa.

About 99.6 percent of Costa Rican products will enter China duty-free under terms of the proposed treaty that is being considered in the legislature now. Some of the other products include tilapia, yucca, shrimp and chocolates, said Promotora, the country's quasi-public promotional arm.
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Is it city vs. country or some other dichotomy of interests?
I recently read an article by Kathleen Parker, a columnist for the Washington Post and now co-host on CNN’s new talk show, Parker/Spitzer with Elliot Spitzer.  I gave up Jeopardy to watch the first program, and I liked it. It was a relief to listen to civil conversations about politics between people who try not to interrupt each other. I enjoyed the guests, especially the talented screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.  There were too many others for my taste and the program seemed geared to people with attention deficit syndrome, but Ms. Parker is smart, engaging and charming, and once Elliot Spitzer slows down and controls his hyperactive brain, his intelligence and knowledge can be appreciated.

But the column I am referring to was comparing living in a big city to growing up in a small town in the South. Presently living part-time in New York City she is annoyed with the bureaucratic laws and rules as opposed to the freedom and self-regulation of a small town.  There are many people living in rural towns in Costa Rica who would agree with her.

I, too, grew up in a small town, actually, a village, moved to a town and then to a city.  And she is right: The fewer the people, the fewer the regulations and rules of how to behave without infringing upon the rights of others.  What she didn’t say was that in small towns the neighbors and what we used to call “Nosey Parkers” perform the same duties of rules and regulations. The rules they enforce may be different – having more to do with sexual and moral behavior than with lighting fires or jay walking or infringing upon the rights of others.

Speaking politically, she thinks the new dichotomy will not be Republican and Democrat but high-density versus low-density.  Another writer claims the new paradigm is the individual and the corporation. (the ‘small is beautiful’ group versus the ‘big is powerful’ group.)  Another may be between the moderates and the fundamentalists.

But back to big cities and small towns.  I have met many people in Costa Rica who live in small towns and either dread the thought of coming to San José because they think it is ugly, dangerous and dirty, or refuse to visit it in the first place because they are simply afraid. I am uncomfortable in many small towns in Costa Rica because I think there are snakes and bugs, if not in the homes, lurking outside waiting to get in. They don’t like the
Butterfly in the City
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart

Jo Stuart

crowds and bustle of the city; I fear the sameness of a small town.

Most small towns have populations that are homogenous with perhaps two main ethnic groups and languages, and families that have lived there for several generations and everyone knowing what the culture is.  Big cities are different. People from different ethnic groups, cultures, languages and religions are expected to get along.  And there are always newcomers, including small town people hoping to make their fortunes in the big city.

When Ms Parker says, ". . . the more people cram themselves into small spaces, the more government will be involved in their lives.” I agree, hoping she remembers that the government is the collective us.  But times have changed, too.  Some 40 or 50 years ago a family of eight living in a home with one bathroom and one car had more rules about sharing than today’s family of three or four with more bathrooms and cars.

I no longer live in a city or in a small town. According to my son I live in the suburbs. Since it is a residential neighborhood and I cannot walk to the center of town,  I guess he is right.  If suburbs, were created to furnish the best of both worlds – country living with city amenities nearby -- I think they have failed. A population needs a community to succeed. Most suburbanites are commuters. They depend upon elsewhere for their subsistence, whether it be jobs or groceries.  People who live in cities or towns meet one another in the pursuit of subsistence and thus have a community-in-waiting

Meanwhile, I will continue to watch Parker/Spitzer (Note, she never interrupted me once.)  They are a prime example that a big city slicker from the North and a small town belle from the South can get along.

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Construction begins next week on a new Cinchona

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Next week government officials will gather to mark the beginning of construction at the Nueva Cinchona in Cariblanco north of Heredia. The occupants will be families that were displaced by the January 2009 earthquake.

Consorcio Facoil-Dent will build out the new houses, and officials hope to deliver them to the residents before Christmas, they said.

The earthquake destroyed Cinchona. Much of the community slipped down a hillside. The national emergency commission spent nearly $1 million for land nearby where the new community is being erected. Nearly $1 million more was spent on landscaping and roadways. Construction will cost about $3.6 million or about 1.8 billion colons
Cinchona home
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de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias graphic
Sketch of proposed housing at Cinchona

The families involved collaborated on the designs. Each home is built to withstand future earthquakes and to accommodate persons with disabilities.

12-day-old baby among those burned in Limón blaze

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A second fire in six months tore through a small rural home in Matama, de Limón Wednesday evening and injured the four occupants: A mother, a 12-day-old baby and children 3 and 4. The home was leveled. All that remains is the twisted galvanized sheeting that was the roof.

The mother, identified by firemen as 19-year-old Susana Alvarado Montero, was the most badly burned. She suffered burns to her left side and leg. The 12-day-old baby, identified as Greivin Alvarado Montero, suffered burns to the right side of the face and head.

Also burned and hospitalized are Daniela María Perez Alvarado, 4, Isaac Perez Alvarado, 3. Firemen said that the woman's home was leveled at the same site April 17.
The cause Wednesday was a candle used for illumination in a bedroom, firemen said, basing their report on what the mother told them. They will continue to investigate.

The Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea of the security ministry used a twin-engine aircraft to carry all four individuals to Alajuela where they went by ambulances to hospitals.
The mother is in San Juan de Dios, and the children are in the Hospital Nacional de Niños. They all are expected to recover.

The location of the home cannot be reached with big trucks, firemen said. The call came in at 6:58 p.m. Firemen did not arrive until 23 minutes later because they had to go part of the way on foot, the report said.

Three adults and eight children were living in the home that was destroyed in April, firemen said.

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Peruvian writer Vargas Llosa
has wide variety of works

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to the Peruvian novelist, journalist and politician Mario Vargas Llosa, a dark horse candidate who is equally well-known for his forays into politics.

Mario Vargas Llosa received little attention in the speculation that preceded Thursday's announcement when predictions focused on writers from South Korea, Kenya and the United States. And the award will do little to diminish the prize-awarding Swedish Academy's reputation for selecting overtly political writers.

The academy's citation honors the 74-year-old author for what it called "his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt and defeat."

Vargas Llosa first became a literary sensation in the 1960s. "The Time of the Hero," his semi-autobiographical first novel published in 1963, is set among cadets in a Lima military academy. He was just past his 30th birthday when he wrote his tour de force "Conversation in the Cathedral," in which the protagonist investigates his father's involvement in the killing of an infamous Peruvian gangster, learning in the process how the country's dictatorship maintains its hold on power.

A prolific writer who defies easy categorization, Vargas Llosa's novels include historical works, political thrillers and even comedies and murder mysteries.

Immediately after announcing the award, Peter Englund, secretary of the Swedish academy, praised Vargas Llosa's power and range as a novelist.

"He's a storyteller, basically a narrator. But what a storyteller. His books have a very complex structure with shifting points of perspective and shifting time levels," he said. "There's much dialogue, but where the dialogue sort of fades in and fades out, criss-crossing several different time planes. He is a very versatile author, producing not just these great big books about Latin America and its dilemmas, but he has written in practically every genre there is."

Like his former friend and now fellow Nobel Prize laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who he reportedly punched in 1976 for reasons neither man has ever revealed, Vargas Llosa is actively political. He was initially a supporter of the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, but became disenchanted with communism and in 1990 ran for the Peruvian presidency as head of the center-right Frente Democrático coalition.

Formal Nobel award ceremonies will be held in Stockholm and Oslo, Norway Dec. 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Alfred Nobel, the founder of the prizes. The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced Friday in Oslo.

Drill in Chile approaching
location of trapped miners

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Officials in Chile say the rescue shaft they are drilling to free 33 trapped copper miners could reach the men by Saturday.

Chile's mining minister, Laurence Golborne, told reporters Thursday that once the drill breaks through, it could take anywhere from three to 10 days to bring the men to safety.

Golborne said experts will have to analyze the soil and rock around the bore to determine if a metal reinforcement is needed to secure the shaft.  He said that process could take as long as three days.

The officials say a drill boring the rescue shaft is now within 100 meters of where the miners are located.

The men have been trapped more than 600 meters underground since early August.  Crews have been sending food, water, games, letters and other items to the men through small supply shafts.
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Haitians still face squalor
as they struggle in camps

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A refugee advocacy group says displaced Haitians continue to live in overcrowded, unsanitary camps that are plagued by violence -- nine months after a deadly earthquake ravaged the nation.

The Washington-based Refugees International issued a report Thursday saying the U.N.-directed humanitarian response in Haiti appears to be paralyzed, and more resources and experienced personnel are needed urgently.

The group says people displaced by the January earthquake have been forced to live in camps for long periods of time that, combined with dwindling food and other assistance, has led to increased levels of violence, including sexual assaults.

It says the displaced are being preyed upon by gang members and that camp managers are ineffective, arbitrarily appointed or completely absent.

Addressing the U.N. Security Council last month, U.N. Special Representative Edmond Mulet said Haiti still has a number of challenges, including maintaining order in the camps, which he said were still plagued by sexual violence.

Refugees International notes that Mulet serves both as the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti and head of the peacekeeping force in the nation.  The group says a full-time humanitarian coordinator must be established to more adequately protect the rights of the displaced.

It is calling on donor nations to fund the U.N. refugee agency to allow it to increase its staff and better coordinate the humanitarian effort in Haiti.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit near Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, Jan. 12, killed more than 200,000 people and left more than a million others homeless. 

International donors have pledged nearly $10 billion for the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.  Mulet told the Security Council in September that not all countries have followed through on their pledges, and he urged them to do so.

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, who is a U.N. special envoy for Haiti, visited tent camps in the country Wednesday and heard from the residents about the insecurity, squalid conditions and lack of jobs.

On another front, the international charity Oxfam says the food aid pouring into Haiti is harming the country's economy, especially its agricultural sector.  Oxfam says the international community needs to make a radical shift in how it deals with rebuilding the country.

Oxfam says the aid that poured into Haiti after the earthquake was needed for the millions who were displaced — but it has not been good news for the country's agricultural sector. 

International senior researcher for the charity group, Marc Cohen, says the majority of Haitians live in the countryside and depend on agriculture for their livelihood, but for decades investment in that sector has been poor.

"Dating back even into the late 1950s, the focus of both the Haitian government and donors was on urban development," Cohen said, "and to some extent a manufacturing sector and there was very little investment in the rural areas."

He says that situation has not been helped by the major influx of overseas grains to cope with the earthquake.

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