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(506) 2223-1327          Published Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 200       Email us
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Final word on Gringos becoming Ticos: Dump U.S.
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. citizens who seek Costa Rican nationality because they have lived a sufficient time in Costa Rica still have to promise to give up their U.S. citizenship.

That is the final word from the Sala IV constitutional court and the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, which operates the Registro Civil that handles naturalizations.

A Playas del Coco woman challenged the regulation because agreeing to surrender the current nationality is not required of those who become citizens based on marriage to Costa Ricans.

In fact, employees at the U.S. Embassy pay no heed to written promises by U.S. citizens to surrender citizenship in order to become citizens here. And hardly any of the U.S. citizens who promise to surrender their nationality actually do so. The Costa Rican government never checks.

“I still will not sign such a document no matter how much they look the other way,” said the Playas del Coco woman, Leslie Zelinsky, via email Sunday.  “When someone decides that this is a corrupt act, then such a document would be incriminating.”

She said she would continue in her status as a permanent resident.

The Sala IV cited her case last month when another expat challenged the requirement. The Zelinsky decision came in April, but the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones just recently rejected Ms. Zelinsky's internal appeal of the regulation.

“Apparently I did set a precedent but not the one for which I had set my sights,” Ms. Zelinsky said. The election tribunal also cited her Sala IV decision in rejecting her appeal.

Ms. Zelinsky argued to the Sala IV that those who seek Costa Rican nationality for being sons or daughters of Costa Ricans or after marrying a Costa Rican do not have to agree to surrender the previous nationality. That regulation only applies to those seeking Costa Rican citizenship after having lived in Costa Rica for five or seven years.

Those seeking citizenship based on the number of years they have lived in Costa Rica also have to prove they can speak, read and write Spanish and pass a test on the history and customs of the country.
Tribunal Supremo

Ms. Zelinsky argued that making different requirements for different classes of persons seeking citizenship violated the Costa Rican Constitution. The Sala IV ruled instead that The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones can have certain flexibility in its regulations. It said that the Constitution prohibits discrimination but that agencies of the government can treat different classes of people differently. Her argument was opposed by the office of the Procurador General, the nation's lawyer.

Costa Ricans usually do not surrender their citizenship here even when they are supposed to renounce it, as would be the case if a Costa Rican accepted U.S. citizenship. That rule stems from the case of U.S. Astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz, who faced the loss of his citizenship here because he became a U.S. citizen. Lawmakers acted quickly in 1995 to keep the national hero a Costa Rican.

Costa Rica does not have a dual nationality treaty with the United States.

A man named Alfred Blaser of Santa Ana also sought to join the Sala IV case with Ms. Zelinsky, but the court would not let him. He also is a permanent resident.

Central Americans and Spanish by birth can acquire citizenship here after living here legally for five years. For U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries the period is seven years.

The April Sala IV decision, 5270-11, was a 21-page treatment of nationality in Costa Rican and international law.  In contrast, the Sept. 13 rejection of the Zelinsky appeal by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones was just two pages.
Those who accept U.S. citizenship have to promise to “renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law . . . . "

The Costa Rican oath does not include a pledge to bear arms.

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Tests planned here to earn
a U.S. ham radio license

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The volunteer examination coordinators of the American Radio Relay League plan an examination session for U. S. amateur radio licenses, to be given in Costa Rica. These exams have been offered from time to time in the Central American region for the last five years, and the exams will be open to any U.S. citizen or legal U.S. resident with a permanent U.S. mailing address, regardless of where they are living or are legally resident at the moment.

The tests, required to obtain a U.S. amateur radio license will cover technical topics, radio standards and practices and the legal rules governing the operation of transmitting ham radio stations in the United States.  The tests are multiple-choice, but no longer include a Morse code proficiency requirement as they once did. They will be administered for all three grades of license as the examinees may request, said the examiners.  Those currently holding licenses may take this opportunity to upgrade if they wish, they said. The fee for the exam is $14, same as in the U.S., and this entitles the applicant to take and receive credit for as many test elements as he or she can pass that day, including for higher grades of license. A U.S. license can then be used to obtain a reciprocal operating permit in Central America.

Those persons interested in taking the exam should contact Carlos “Keko” Diez, TI5KD, at, or by telephone at 8825-8789 as soon as possible to make arrangements, to get directions to the test location and to reserve a seat, said the announcement. The tests will be administered Oct. 28 at 9 AM, in La Guacima, Alajuela.  The day is a Friday. This may be the last opportunity to take the test this year anywhere in Central America, the announcement said. Those who feel the need for some practice taking the tests can take practice exams at  Study manuals can be ordered from the same source, at, the announcement said.

Expat holders of U.S.-issued ham radio licenses may, under the terms of a reciprocal operating treaty with regional governments, receive permits by their host governments to operate in most other countries as well, including all the nations of Central America, said the announcement. Information about the process of obtaining a reciprocal permit for Costa Rica may be obtained by contacting Diez, it said.

All licensed hams in Central America are invited to participate in the morning coffee klatch on 3785 Khz. lower sideband at 6 a.m. daily, Costa Rica time, and are invited to call CQ at anytime on 145.770 Mhz on two meter FM, said the announcement.

Juvenile held in murder
of judicial investigator

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents have detained a juvenile in the murder of Allan Sánchez, who also was a member of the Judicial Investigation Organization. The 32-year-old investigator was on a day off due to a minor injury.

The man was gunned down by someone on a motorcycle as he left a home in Alajuelita Friday.

The Ministerio Público announced the arrest of the minor Saturday and said that a juvenile judge would be sought to seek action against him.

In another case of gun play involving a judicial agent in a separate incident an off-duty investigator broke up a robbery attempt Friday night at a bar in Tibás and killed two assailants. A third fled but was believed wounded. The judicial agent was with his family watching the Brazil-Costa Rica soccer game when the men burst into the bar. The bartender suffered a bullet wound.

Home invaders hit
high-profile residence

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Home invaders forced their way into the Barrio Dent home of the former president of the Asamblea Legislativa, tied up his son and a domestic employee and ransacked the place. No one was hurt. The man is Francisco Antonio Pacheco, who is serving as president of Banco Popular for a year.

The bandits forced their way into a barred entry near the kitchen, and Pacheco said he thought they just disconnected the metal gate from a chain connected to a motor. They also smashed a wooden door.

In a similar home invasion in Barrio Cuba, a 25-year-old man died when he resisted a robber, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. He was identified by the last name of Espinoza. He suffered two bullet wounds to the chest. That was at 10:30 p.m. Friday.

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!
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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 200

Tourism giveaway generates chatter on facebook page
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national tourism chamber said it backs the strategy that the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo is using to generate marketing contacts on Facebook. The institute announced a program Thursday to give away about 250 trips for two or more to Costa Rica though February.

The marketing firm 22squared is behind the project that is keyed to a Facebook page. In order to enter the contest, persons in most of the United States and Canada have to click a link on the tourism institute's Facebook page. It appears that by doing so they are opening up their profile information and the links they have with other people.

The promotion is counting on these links to spread the word.

The tourism chamber, the Cámara National de Turismo, said in a release Friday that it was confident that the marketing program will position Costa Rica in the primary source of tourists for the benefit of the entire industry.

Not everyone feels that way. Contest winners will be housed in hotels that are certified as three- or four-star sustainable operations by the tourism institute. So some objected to this restriction in postings to the institute's Facebook page. One suggested the use of vouchers.

Some residents of Quebec seemed miffed because they cannot compete. Maria Amalia Revelo Raventos of the tourism institute responded that regulations in Quebec were the reason the province was not included. Alaska and Hawaii also are excluded.
Facebook posters from elsewhere in the world said they wished they could be part of the contest.  Now winners must be residents of the continental United States or the other provinces of Canada. Some expats said they would use their courier addresses in Miami to participate in the contest.

The Facebook campaign basically causes users to spread the word to their lists of contacts. The tourism institute Facebook page is attracting many postings from tourism operators in Costa Rica who are using the opportunity to promote their own operations. There also is Costa Rica specific advertising.

And there are many persons posting their memories of Costa Rica and the wish to return or to visit for the first time.

In addition to the Facebook contest, the institute said that trips would be given away in other ways. Additionally, key people will also be chosen who deserve to be awarded for defending different causes related to promoting happiness in others or sharing Costa Rican values, it said.

This aspect will benefit 95 more people, it added.

The trip giveaway contest will cost $2.9 million, including advertising, trip packages, and the advertising spots in the media, the institute said.

The second stage from March 2012 to February 2013, will focus on positioning Costa Rica, and the investment will total $3.5 million for a total investment of $6.4 million, the institute said Thursday.

Even a clumsy, special effects sloth needs a good name
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Readers are invited to submit appropriate names for the three-toed sloth that is now the centerpiece of a multi-million dollar tourism institute promotion.

Disregarding one of the basic rules of advertising, 22squared, the Atlanta ad agency in charge of the trip give away promotion, failed to name the sloth.

In fact, the sloth rather discourteously fails to identify himself in the promotional video.

For true impact everyone knows that fictional characters have to have names. There's Rosie the Riviter of World War II fame, Mickey Mouse, Francis the Talking Mule, Tommy the Toucan and even Mr. Ed.

The sloth's friends have names.  He (assuming the sloth is a male) introduces Luis, a monkey, and Jorge, a turtle. And there is Freddy, the Costa Rican, who refers lamely to the sloth as Mr. Sloth.

But no name for the principal character. To paraphrase Sir Walter Soctt:

Breathes there the sloth with soul so dead who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my given name . . .

One reader already claimed that the sloth should be named a Costa Rican public employee. But that was a political.
sloth falls
Instituto Costarricense de Turismo photo
Some are upset that the sloth ends his sales pitch by falling off a tree branch.

Readers should remember that the sloth is algae-free, perhaps the only one of its species that way. And, despite being a Costa Rican native, he speaks Midwestern standard English.

A.M. Costa Rica will not award a prize, but editors will give readers a chance to vote on submitted names.

And the submitter will be identified.

Those interested can send suggestions to until Oct. midnight Oct. 17.

Weather experts warn of a week of very unstable conditions
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rain was expected to continue into the morning hours of today for what weather experts call the start of a week that will be very unstable.

The Instituto Meteorological Nacional issued a special bulletin at 7 p.m. Sunday to warn of rain of various intensities in the northern zone, the Pacific coast, the Caribbean and the Central Valley. The bulletin said that some rivers are rising, mainly on the Pacific coast.

The institute also predicted overnight thunderstorms in the central and southern Pacific. It warned of the potential slides for persons living in unstable areas, including Escazú, Heredia and Alajuela.

The national emergency commission said that there was flooding in the Canton of Valverde Vega north and west of San José and that roads were affected there. The commission said that one slide endangered a home.

Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de
Emergencias said its local units were at work in the southern zone as well as in the north.

In all 32 persons had to be relocated because of flooding Saturday and Sunday. There were reports of damage to a bridge on Ruta Nacional 118 between Zarchi and Naranjo and damage to highways in Bajo Trapiche, Bajo los Reyes and in Calle Bambú where there were slides.

The commission will have inspectors on the job early today to check out the damage.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, a tropical storm, a hurricane and an unstable low pressure area are moving north toward México.

The low pressure area is expected to affect the weather in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.   Hurricane Jova was moving east at 6 mph. With a possible landfall in central México Tuesday. Behind it is Tropical Storm Irwin, which also is moving east. Frequently these storms take a turn to the north and then to the west before reaching land.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 200

The weekend is for the cows, or more correctly the bueyes or oxen who are a cultural icon. The oxen and cart here helped celebrate the 100th birthday of San Carlos Oct. 2. But Sunday more than 150 ox cart drivers were on parade in Cartago to promote the cultural values and history.

boyeros in San Carlos
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Chance encounter leads

to arrests in cable thefts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers on patrol earlyThursday came upon a pickup truck near Palmar Sur that was carrying 1,500 meters of telephone cable.

Police said as a patrol car approached, three men in the truck jumped off and headed for the bushes. Police detained the driver and called the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, which loses huge amounts of copper cable to thieves each year.

In fact, police noted that Wednesday two men were detained with 340 meters of cable in Matina de Limón.

The truck driver was identified by the last names of Núñez Laguna. A judge ordered him to stay out of the Cantón de Osa for six months.

A police search turned up three men who lacked any form of identification but who were muddy and wet. But they were carrying gloves of the type used by cable thieves, police said. They were detained, too.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 200

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

First of five Cuban spies
released from prison

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A member of the so-called Cuban Five espionage ring has been released from a U.S. jail after serving 13 years of a 15-year sentence.

The man, Rene González, who had been jailed since 1998, left the prison in Florida early Friday. 

He must serve three years probation in the United States.  His lawyer says he will make a renewed request for González to instead be allowed to return to Cuba.  

González was convicted in 2001 with four others for being part of a Cuban spy ring that infiltrated exile groups in Florida.  The Cuban government, which has hailed the five as heroes, has said the men were monitoring exile groups to protect the island from attacks. 

Cuba has demanded González, who was born in the U.S. and moved to Cuba as a child, be returned to the island.

U.N. tourism official asks
for industry to be priority

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Calling on governments, donors and international financial institutions to unlock the potential of tourism, Asha-Rose Migiro has hailed the industry's ability to create jobs, stimulate economies and overcome poverty. She is deputy secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

In an address to the 19th session of the General Assembly taking place in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea, Ms. Migiro said tourism has become one of the world''s most important economic sectors,.

In one third of developing countries, tourism is the principal export sector, and the industry has remained resilient in the face of the global economic crisis, she noted.

"There is little doubt that responsible tourism has tremendous capacity to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals," she said, referring to the series of globally agreed targets, such as halving poverty, halting environmental degradation, improving maternal health and ensuring universal education, all by 2015.

Ms. Migiro, who is Tanzanian, said she had seen for herself the benefits that tourism can provide ever since she grew up in a village on the slopes of the renowned Mount Kilimanjaro, close to the Serengeti plains and the Ngorongoro Crater.

"Over the years I have seen how tourism has helped to change the face of this majestic landscape. Luxury lodges, paved roads and, yes, jobs. People from around the world have seen the wonders of my country — indeed the larger African continent — as well as its rich and diverse array of traditions and cultures. We have built bridges of understanding and appreciation. This is the great power of tourism."

The deputy secretary general said that, despite the economic power of tourism, international donors and development finance institutions had not yet made the industry a priority area for either funding or engagement.

"Nor is it high on the agenda of our sustainability policies. Let us work to change this so we can unlock the potential of tourism. I urge you to advocate on behalf of tourism's potential to create jobs, attract foreign exchange, investment and know-how and stimulate local economies."

She stressed that tourism will only continue to prosper if it conforms to values such as freedom, equality, tolerance, respect for nature and respect for human dignity.

Mexican police detain
eight in massacre case

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican authorities have arrested eight members of a drug gang blamed for the recent deaths of at least 67 people in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara told reporters that the suspects have been in custody since Thursday and belong to a group known as Jalisco New Generation.  He has described the gang as just another organized crime group.

Authorities say the suspects also led police Thursday to 32 of the bodies, which were found in three houses in the Gulf coast seaport.  The detainees have also been blamed for dumping the remains of 35 people on a road in the city of Veracruz Sept. 20.

The navy has sought to wipe out speculation that New Generation is a paramilitary group trying to wipe out Mexico's Zetas drug cartel.  Members of New Generation have described themselves as "Zeta Killers" and are believed linked to the Sinaloa cartel.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón has deployed federal police and security forces to Veracruz.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 200

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crack cocaine
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
The bag contains 348 crack rocks

Trio held in shooting case,
but agents also find crack

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents investigating an attempted murder case came upon 348 crack rocks when they conducted raids Friday.

The drugs were an unexpected bonus to the investigation that began July 7 when a couple and their 5 year old were driving in Lomas del Río in Pavas when someone opened fire, wounded the man in the left arm and put many bullet holes in the vehicle.

Friday police detained two twins, aged 19, and a woman who is 26.

California institutes ban
on eating shark fin soup

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

People in California can no longer eat the Chinese delicacy of shark fin soup. California officially made it illegal to sell or possess shark fin.  The ban is a part of a growing movement worldwide to save the shark population.  But there are some Chinese who feel California's ban on shark fin is unfair and discriminatory.

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Chinese cooking that dates back hundreds of years.  The expensive dish has become increasingly popular as more Chinese are getting wealthy. But conservationists, like Sarah Sikich of Heal the Bay, say the demand for shark fin is devastating the shark population.

"Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year for their fin alone," noted Sikich. Many of the sharks are caught and killed in the Pacific near Costa Rica.

Ms. Sikich says the practice of finning is popular among fishermen who would catch the shark, slice off the fin and throw the fish back into the ocean to die. 

Barbara Long at the Aquarium of the Pacific says when the shark population is put at risk, the health of the ocean is also in danger.

"Sharks are a top predator and play a very vital role in marine ecosystems," said Ms. Long.

But opponents of the California ban say the law unfairly targets the Chinese community because it only bans shark fin and not the entire shark.  California State Sen. Ted Lieu voted against the ban.

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