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(506) 223-1327            Published Monday, Oct. 9, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 200          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad photo
One of INBio's
resident boas
just loves
Mondays when dinner
is served

Here's where you can get up close and personal with a snake
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A new serpentarium is the latest attraction at the  Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad in Santo Domingo de Heredia. Six glass-walled terrariums house a total of seven native snake species.

The star attractions are two large boas, each over two meters long and weighing in excess of 10 kilos (22 pounds). They eat four to six live mice every two weeks. Sorry, feeding days are on Monday when the park is closed.

The institute, better known as INBio of Costa Rica describes itself as a private research and biodiversity management center, established in 1989. But it also is open to the public.

Another new attraction is a small maze made of hedges of the plant Stachytarpheta. The small blue flowers of this species are much favored by hummingbirds. Other outdoor attractions include a large pond with turtles and caimans, an aquarium, an exhibit with several species of large tarantulas, a butterfly garden, and a frog terrarium. Botanical displays include bromeliads, heliconias, and orchids
as well as examples of different native forest types.

Activities for the month of October include a Caribbean Festival with dances and gospel music on next Sunday and Oct. 22. Also Sundays scientific research presently under way at the center is on display for the public. See the Web site for more information on INBIO park.

In addition to the boa constrictors (Boa constrictor), the institute's new serpentarium is home to a milk snake (Lampropeltis triangular), also known as coral (falsa) in Spanish and sometimes in English due to its resemblance to the poisonous coral snake (Micrurus nigrocinctus), which also is there. The milk snake also is known as the lechera here.

There also is a neotropical bird snake (Pseustes poecilonotus), known as pajarera in Spanish.

And then there are the poisonous vipers, the fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper), known to Ticos as the terciopelo. The green palm viper (Bothriechis lateralis) is known as the lora here. And the  eyelash viper (Bothriechis schlegelii) is known here as the oropel or sometimes the bocaracá.

Strange mother-daughter kidnapping case continues to drag on
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators are entering the sixth day of a major kidnapping case today.

Wednesday night masked men invaded a home in Río Jiménez de Guácimo and took the 31-year-old daughter they found there. They also took her 7-year-old daughter.

The kidnappers may or may not have contacted the woman's husband or her parents, whose home was invaded. Another complexity is that the woman, Sonia Cordero Delgado, has had a kidney transplant and is on medication to prevent her body from rejecting the organ.

Curiously, investigators withdrew from the case last week to give the family time to negotiate with the kidnappers, who are presumed to still be in the
Guácimo area. Agents said Sunday they were back on the case.

Kidnappings here sometimes are used as a way of collecting debts or enforce contracts. Then there is the traditional kidnapping for ransom.

Agents think these events are related to business. The husband, Antonio Ugalde Jiménez is president of a Costa Rican corporation, Valentin y Jennigan S.A., according to public records.

And the wife is secretary of the company. Two other officers appear to be from the same family.

What is even more strange is that the public records show that the 2-year-old corporation owns a finca or large property of some 2.5 million square meters in Heredia for which the value is listed at $23.8 million. That's about 618 acres.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 200

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A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
María Figaroa Lazaro, a Boruca from Rey Curré in southwest Costa Rica, is about to have a cultural encounter with Yo Erland at the Museo Nacional.

We all are equal
under the downpour

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The rain makes all cultures the same: wet. And that was true at the third Festival Multicultural at the Museo Nacional Sunday as the skies opened up early.

Persons from the estimated 24 countries and cultures represented had little to do except wait for the heavy downpour to subside. They had plenty to see. Inside the museum booths were set up for a number of countries and organization like American Field Service and an Oregon exchange program, that wanted to bring their messages to the public.

And the museum was celebrating with a free day for visitors.
Outside vendors offered crafts and foods.

The event was a kickoff to the Día de las Culturas, which is Thursday. But it is not a public holiday this year. The day is one of those that have been moved to the following Monday by a new law.

Pérez Zeledón band coming
here to play movie themes

Special to the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The intermediate band of the Escuela de Musica Sinfonica Pérez Zeledón will be in Los Yoses Saturday to present a concert of movie themes.

The music school, based in Pérez Zeledón in south Costa Rica, is an institution dedicated to the teaching of symphonic music to children and young people. It is a project of the Universidad Nacional in Heredia.

The band will play the music while scenes of the movies are shown on a big screen. The concert will be at 7 p.m. in the Teatro Eugene O`Neil of the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano en Los Yoses, and the tickets for the event are for free, said Laura Mesen, academic coordinator.

The symphonic band includes 40 musicians, and the director is Delberth Castellón, an oboe player from the Orchestra Sinfónica Nacional of Costa Rica. This band is going to play the music of: "ET", "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Star Wars," "Star Trek," "Superman," and others, said the announcement.

Tides are higher today
but not catastrophic

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Puntarenas is still there. So is Tambor and the Pacific coast.
But that static situation is no thanks to Friday's A.M. Costa Rica that said the sun and the moon would bring tides 9 to 10 feet higher than normal. If that happened, much of the Pacific coast and the Nicoya Peninsula would be under water.

In fact, the numbers reported:  Puntarenas with seas 3.5 meters (10.7 feet), Playa Del Coco 9 feet or 2.9 meters and Golfo Dulce at 10.2 feet (3.3 meters) is the total height of the tide.

In most cases this translates to a tide 1 to 1.5 feet higher than usual. This still is significant, and persons in low areas should take precautions, but it is not going to wipe out Puntarenas.
The highest tides were supposed to happen early this morning.

Three in same family die

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three members of a Turrialba family died Sunday when a tree fell on their car and caused the driver to lose control near Siquirres. One of the dead was a 7-year-old girl. A strong wind was blamed for uprooting the tree.

They were part of the 12-person traffic toll of the weekend. Officials said rainy conditions were responsible in most cases, including the crash of an armored car in Limón that killed two persons.

Our reader's opinion

Journalists are thin line
guarding against abuse

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Treadway [letter Friday] is far off the mark.  Journalists are often the "thin blue line" — the only line between us and the abuse of power, deceit and lies which are part and parcel of those who use power to keep power.
Some journalists may err, as some policemen might err in enforcing the law, but probing, truth-seeking journalists are all that stand between us and the machinery of power seeking to retain power. They are not perfect, any more than police are perfect, but God help us if their powers to seek the truth and present it to us are abridged or curtailed. 
The freedom of journalists to find and publish truth is essential to keeping those who would abuse power in line. Reduce, abridge or constrain it — and see what happens.  That is why freedom of the press is the first to go when tyranny takes over, and the most under attack by those who see It as a threat to their lies and deception.
Carl Robbins
Atlanta - Alajuela
Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 200

Sala IV rejects plea to block trade pact over publication rule
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has rejected an appeal by a Partido Acción Ciudadana deputy that the free trade treaty with the United States was incorrectly publicized.

The deputy, Alberto Salom, filed the recurso de amparo because only 1,500 copies of the free trade treaty were published by the La Gaceta official newspaper, which has about 2,500 subscribers. The publication created a special supplement in November for the book-length treaty.

Publication is required of laws before their are considered by the Asamblea Legislativa. Publication is mostly a formality because complete copies of the treaty were available online in both Spanish and English.

The minister of Comercio Exterior, Marco Vinicio Ruiz, said Friday that he was pleased with the decision and that the road was now cleared for approval by the lawmakers.

The treaty is controversial, and Salom's party is a principal opponent. Unionized public employees plan what they call a national strike Oct. 23 and 24. But even Cuba has gotten into the act.
The official Communist Party newspaper Granma criticized President Óscar Arias Sánchez for alleged plans to remilitarize Costa Rica, which has not had an army since 1948.

The Granma articles were based on reports from here, including one by Albino Vargas of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados that said the free trade treaty would permit armament plants to be built.

Treaty opponents cited a listing for Raytheon S.A. in the Costa Rican public registry as proof that the U.S.-based missile manufacturer was opening a plant on the Nicoya Peninsula.

However, Raytheon issued a statement last week saying that it had no holdings in Costa Rica nor plans to open a plant here. The executives of the corporation were surprised by the report, which seems to involve a corporation founded by Costa Ricans.

Arias went on television Sunday night to criticize Cuba as the biggest dictatorship in the hemisphere and the screen displayed a Granma story bearing the name of Vargas. He said it was hardly an impartial source.

Here's some excuses if you don't want to go to work today
De majaderias y enfermedades

“Of absurdities and infirmities”

Today’s column takes the form of a vocabulary list of illnesses — real or invented — that Ticos sometime employ when they want to get out of doing something, like for example going to work on a Monday morning, or to school on exam days, or to visit their mothers-in-law any day. So I’m sure that you can appreciate just how important, and terribly useful, these words can be. Learn them well. You never know when they’ll come in handy:

1. QUEBRANTO  (standard Spanish "weakness"): The mysterious elevation of body temperature, not sufficient to be considered a fever that might send one to the doctor, but enough to excuse one from work, school, or social obligations for at least a day.

2. PATATÚS (standard Spanish “fainting spell”):  An attack of lunacy of unknown origin, which can sometimes lead to custodial confinement for observation purposes.

3. YEYO (no known standard Spanish equivalent): A sudden, acute condition, often associated with patatús sometimes accompanied by nausea, that may warrant a visit to the doctor, the use of prescription medications, and an absence of several days from work or school.

4. CHICHÓN (standard Spanish “a lump, bump, or swelling”): A cranial protuberance usually the result of a fall suffered during an attack of patatús.

5. EMPACHO (standard Spanish “indigestion”):  Digestive disorder resulting from over indulgence in food and/or alcoholic beverage such as chorizos, chicharones, tamales, bread, ham, pork leg, rice, beans, Russian salad, arroz con leche and que-que de tres leches all washed down with a couple of bottles of guaro. This condition may require the administration of several doses of Sal Andrews, or, in more severe cases, a strong laxative and at least one day’s complete bed rest.

6. MUÑECA ABIERTA (standard Spanish “open wrist”): A sprain or dislocation of the joint connecting the hand and the forearm, generally the result of opening tightly sealed containers such as whisky, vodka, or guaro bottles and jars of stuffed olives.

7. SERENO (standard Spanish “night air, dew, night watchman): The open night air, or “vapors,” often has a 

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

deleterious effect upon people who go out without wearing a hat or those who wander about the streets in the late evening after having consumed ample quantities of guaro, vodka, or whisky. Exposure to sereno at times may also result in a very severe chichón.

8. CUERPO PESADO (standard Spanish “heavy body”):  The mysterious sensation that one’s body weighs a tremendous amount, that the arms are too heavy to lift and that one’s legs are no longer strong enough to support the weight of the trunk. This condition often comes suddenly upon the unsuspecting victim when he gets off of a bar stool and may also result in one or more severe chichón.

9. SALPULLIDO (standard Spanish “rash”): Strange eruptions like little red pimples that appear after eating something one is allergic to, such as seafood. This condition usually develops after a weekend spent at the beach indulging in the consumption of profuse quantities of mariscos such as camarones, chuchecas, langostinos, almejas, and mejillónes of uncertain origin, all washed down with a couple of bottles of guaro. Salpullido may also be accompanied by a severe case of empacho.

10. SOPONCIO (standard Spanish “faint, swoon, dizziness”): An illness dependent upon social class. For example, the rich suffer attacks of soponcio, while those who must work for a living get patatús.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to a couple of wonderful Ticas friends of mine, Lucia and Gerardina, for providing me with material for today’s column.

Another Internet gambling firm decides to leave Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another online gambling business is leaving Costa Rica. The firm is Nine.com, which was purchased 10 months ago by Leisure & Gaming PLC.

A Nine.com source said that about 150 jobs would be lost by the move. The business is now part of a subsidiary named VIP.Com, and company officials have complained about the efficiency of the business.
However, locally a former employee said that the decision also was based on the passage by the U.S. Congress early Sept. 30 of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

This new law, which is awaiting the signature of U.S. President George Bush, makes it illegal to transfer money from the United States for the purpose of gambling. The Nine.com Web site will be moved to Curacao, according to gambling sources.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 9, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 200

Supporters of Chávez opponent hold major Caracas rally
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

Thousands marched Saturday in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in support of the main opposition candidate in the country's presidential election later this year. The opposition leader, Manuel Rosales, is challenging leftist President Hugo Chávez in the December election. Another rally in support of Rosales was held in Miami.

Venezuelan opposition groups in south Florida called on their countrymen to take to the streets ahead of the Dec. 3 presidential elections. Some 400 Venezuelan-Americans turned out in a downtown bayside park, waving Venezuelan flags and chanting "Manuel Rosales for President"

The rally was staged on the same day as a far-larger demonstration in Caracas, where thousands marched in the biggest show of public support yet for Rosales, the main opposition candidate.

The Social Democrat challenger is the governor of Venezuela's oil-rich Zulia State. Mainstream opposition leaders chose him in August to be their unity candidate to take on the fiery Chávez at the polls. An opposition activist in Miami, Ernesto Ackerman, explains why the motto of the rally was "Dare to be vigilant"

"We already had one election that was stolen [from] us," he said. "I think this is the last chance that Venezuela becomes democratic again. And that is why we are vigilant, that this election should end up the right way, throwing out Chávez."

Many in Venezuela were disappointed with the failure of a 2004 referendum to oust Chávez. Some activists say the opposition has been intimidated by the growing

Manuel Rosales campaign photo
Thousands take to the streets in a typical Caracas rally.

control Chávez has of the branches of government, including the electoral commission that runs elections. Venezuelan government authorities insist the elections will be fair, and say they have invited the Organization of American States to send observers.

Activist Ackerman says the opposition does not trust the voting machines, and would prefer that each vote be counted by hand.
"What Chávez doesn't accept is a manual counting," Ackerman said. "We want to count the votes one by one, manually. We don't want his machines."

U.S. Census figures indicate that more than 40,000 Venezuelans live in South Florida, and a total of 18,000 Venezuelans across the United States are registered to vote in the December elections.

Early polls show Chávez in the lead but indicate Rosales is gaining strength in recent weeks.

Castro's brother dismisses Time magazine report that Fidel has cancer
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The brother of Cuban President Fidel Castro says that — contrary to U.S. media reports — the 80-year-old leader continues to recover from intestinal surgery and "is not dying."

Speaking to a group of students in Havana, Rául Castro denied reports suggesting the president has terminal cancer.

Rául Castro said he and other top officials held a meeting with President Castro in recent days in which the Cuban leader issued instructions.
Saturday a Time magazine report quoted anonymous U.S. officials who said they believe the president has cancer and will not return to power. However, the officials also said intelligence reports could be wrong because information about the leader's health is closely guarded. Details of the Cuban leader's health are a state secret.

The 80-year-old president has not appeared in public since his surgery. However, he has been shown in pictures receiving foreign dignitaries in a private setting. Last week Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque said President Castro continues to recover and would soon be back "leading the revolution."

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Jo Stuart
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