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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 202                          Email us
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Mar Vista


To be Tico, many expats still told to reject homeland
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Registro Civil has formalized with a publication in the La Gaceta official newspaper the rules for obtaining Costa Rican citizenship. For foreigners who seek citizenship based on their time in the country the requirement to promise to surrender the current nationality continues.

The Sala IV constitutional court already has upheld this requirement.  Most North American expats are reluctant to give up their citizenship there.

There are two categories for foreigners who have lived in Costa Rica. One is for individuals who obtained legal residency. They can apply for citizenship after seven years here unless they are Spanish or from Central America.

In these cases the wait is five years.

A second category is for anyone who has lived in the country for 20 years and can prove it. This would seem to include persons who lived here in irregular conditions.

Applicants in both these categories must promise to surrender their current citizenship upon obtaining Costa Rican naturalization.

Dual nationality still is possible for those foreigners 
who marry a Costa Rican citizen. For them, the wait is two years during which they must live in the country, according to the rules. They assume no obligation to surrender their current nationality.

Many foreigners promise to surrender their current nationality as part of the naturalization process, but most do not follow through. The formal statement of the rules in the official newspaper might suggest that Registro officials will begin to see that this pledge is fulfilled. There does not seem to be anything new in the decree that was approved Sept.5.

The rules linked to the decree spell out in detail the requirements.

These include police checks, testimony by witnesses of the good character of applicants and proof that the individual has a job or a way to support him or herself. A pension is one of the methods listed in the rules.

The regulations and a link to the decree is HERE!

A Playas del Coco woman with U.S. nationality challenged the requirement to promise to surrender her current citizenship. She argued that the difference between rules for persons living here for a time period and for those married to Costa Ricans was unconstitutional. The Sala IV disagreed. Those stories are HERE! and HERE!


What's in the bottle may not be what the label says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Christmas is coming, and the business tradition here is to reward customers with gifts. Frequently the gift is a bottle or two of top-shelf liquor.

Family members also exchange similar gifts.

But what is in the bottle may not be what the label says. There is a thriving business here of bootlegging, falsifying label contents and just simple adulteration of alcoholic products.

Judicial agents detained four persons Tuesday afternoon in Guápiles on suspicion of such practices.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said agents had been on the case for three months. They determined that the four persons were selling alcohol to liquor stores when the product had been smuggled into the county or just adulterated.

Agents detained the men when they were traveling in two vehicles, including a microbus that was loaded with cans and bottles. A short time later agents searched two homes in Guápiles where the men appear to have kept their product.

The men face prosecutor for falsifying trademarks and for violation of the health laws.

The men who were detained do not appear to be producers. But there are illegal stills that produce bootlegged alcohol.

In 2007 agents raided a still where women were making guaro, the local sugar cane alcohol, in Alajuela. The investigators reported that the fluid contained a dangerous level of methanol.

Earlier this year, agents detained a 74 year old for making illegal alcohol in a makeshift cauldron in his home in Buenos Aires de Puntarenas.

Illegal alcohol producers sometimes have the common goal of finding ways to skirt government
confiscated alcohol
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
Smuggled or fake? Only the lab techs will know.

regulation and taxes. Legally produced alcohol is regulated and taxed up to almost 50 percent of it's retail value.

This year agents have disrupted several larger operations. One bust involved an illegal manufacturing operation in which the bootlegged liquor was distilled in country and then labeled with popular and expensive brand names for resale. The most recent bust involved a ring of distributors who brought liquor hidden in trucks from Panamá and then distributed it from Cartago to avoid paying national taxes.

Police caught on because the bottles were being resold for uncommonly low prices.

Alcohol that comes from smugglers is far less dangerous than home brew, which can kill those who partake. And the alcohol is dangerous even if it is dressed up in bottles carrying well-known labels and packed in boxes that appear to come from reputable manufacturers.

The local bootlegged alcohol here is called chirrite, and it is popular in lower-income neighborhoods. There even are illegal bars where cheap, local alcohol is all that is on the menu. The customers know this. With some much illegal alcohol on the market, there is a temptation to dress the beverage up and sell it as an internationally known brand.

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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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Costa Rica will share data
with agents at national borders


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats on the run and looking to flee their country and live in Central America may no longer be able to consider Central America as an option as border agents in the regions will begin to share data and security information.

All the information border employees need to know resides in the magnetic strip at the bottom of a person's information page inside their passport. 

With one swipe, a system called Sistema de Movimiento Migratorio Electrónico captures information contained in the strip and recalls any impediments the traveler may have, either inbound or outbound. It can also detect people with arrest warrants issued by the international police agencies or the judiciary.

Next a system of the U. S. immigration agency called the Advantage Passenger Information System scrolls through an electronic register of entries and exits of people and their nationality and finds verification of permission to leave the country for national or resident minors.

Currently Costa Rica is using these two different platforms at their borders, and will begin to share what immigration considers the good experience with agencies of immigration, customs, police, and focal points of Programa Regional de Seguridad Fronteriza en América Central.

"Costa Rica is at the forefront in immigration security issues and it is an honor to share with our brothers in the region, our experience in this field," said Freddy Montero, subdirector of Migración y Extranjería.
 
The purpose is to share best practices of the Costa Rican immigration department and promoting it in other countries of the region.  The goal is to establish a common frame of reference based on actions that positively affect migratory processes here, spokespersons say.


Rain delays the completion
of San Pedro asphalt work


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Road crew are facing the rain as they try to resurface the  Hispanidad traffic circle in San Pedro.

The work was supposed to have been finished by 5 a.m. today. But the wet weather has interfered, said the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad. A large machine that delivers asphalt was seen parked on a side road Tuesday night as a light rain fell. The rain continued for much of the evening.

So workmen hope to get the job done by 5 a.m. Saturday.  The work is going on from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day, and alternate routes are suggested, officials said.

 
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.
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 202
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students protesting
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Red flags of socialism or black flags of anarchy were in evidence Tuesday as students marched
Thousands of university students march to photocopy textbooks
By Aaron Knapp
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thousands of students marched from the University of Costa Rica to the legislature Tuesday morning to support a measure that will ease the penalties for copyright infringement.

Their objective was to convince lawmakers to override a President Laura Chinchilla veto. The president rejected a bill that would no longer allow prison sentences for violations of intellectual property law.

Students said that the bill will penalize photocopying services and cut into students' ability to copy parts of books instead of buying them.

“Illegalizing copying books is privatizing access to education,” said Christian Gómez, a psychology student at the Universidad de Costa Rica and an organizer of the march. “I refuse to live in a country where it's easier to get a weapon than it is to copy a book.”

When they arrived at the legislature, the students packed into the surrounding two city blocks. Organizers used trucks with microphones and amplifiers from either end of the crowd, where student leaders and some lawmakers addressed the protesters.

“Intellectual property rights cannot be over the rights of the students,” said Juan Carlos Mendoza in an interview after he addressed the crowd. “There can be balance between the rights of the students and the rights of authors.” He is the former president of the Asamblea Legislative and a possible presidential candidate.

Other legislators, including Claudio Monge Pereira of the Partido Acción Ciudadana and José Maria Villalta of Frente Amplio, were more incendiary in their speeches to the crowd.

“This is a fight for education,” said Villalta in a speech to the crowd. Later Monge and Villalta needed to calm the crowd when some students grew restless and began throwing stones, according to a tweet from the legislative assembly.

“I participated in the protest, but I did not ask them to throw stones,” said Villalta in another tweet.

The Partido Liberación Nacional, the party of President Chinchilla, later issued a criticism of Villalta in which they asked him not to use his job to call for violence, and cause disorder and civil disobedience. Some students had tried to invade the legislative building.

No one has ever been punished in this country for photocopying texts, and the right to copy material for education has existed and will exist, the party statement said.

Gómez said that the demonstration had a deeper level of meaning for him and many others gathered in the crowd who protested against the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which stipulated that Costa Rica improve its intellectual property laws and protections.
woman riding
                  not walking
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Young woman holds a sign that characterized marches as terrorists, criminals, students and aware.

By a slim margin, Costa Ricans approved the treaty in a referendum. The protest was five years and a day after that referendum.

“The people who fought back then are still struggling because we believe in a more fair country,” said Gómez.

The bill will be republished in La Gaceta official newspaper because of the the veto late last month. Then the bill goes to the assembly's legal affairs commission. After that, it may go back to the assembly. Votes from two-thirds or 38 lawmakers are needed to override the president's veto.

The assembly has 30 days to do this, but lawmakers can ask for as many 30-day extensions as they need.

The march still drew between 1,000 and 2,000 students to a processional that easily filled all lanes of Avenida Central and stretched at least four blocks. Some students said they were attending the march because they saw an announcement on a Facebook event page.

Despite reassurances, students still worry that the law will force them to buy books instead of getting cheaper photocopies.

“When you lack money, it is not possible to access the texts in another form,” said Diana Carrillo, a Universidad de Costa Rica student who participated in the march.


Scuttled boat at Puntarenas moving to be historical heritage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers are moving to give historical protection to a World War II Italian ship that was scuttled at Puntarenas.

The legislature's Comisión Permanente Especial de Ciencia y Tecnología y Tecnología  gave the go ahead Tuesday to a measure that would designate the "Felle" as historical heritage of the country. The wreck has been a source of metal for salvage crews, and officials are trying to stop this. The bill now goes to the full legislature for likely passage.

The vessel can be seen offshore at low tide.

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo has ordered that any salvage work on the sunken cargo ship be halted and asked that the Servicio Nacional de Guardacoastas and the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación keep watch on the site.

The “Fella,” and the “Eisenach,” a German cargo boat, both sought shelter in a neutral port when war loomed in Europe.

Anthropologist Roberto Le Franc Ureña has outlined the events on a Museo Nacional Web page. He said that the German boat had been in port since Sept. 1, 1939, and that the Italian boat arrived from Panamá June 5 the next year. The vessels basically were stranded.

There was concern that the boats were being used by Nazi spy networks. Costa Rican officials stripped both vessels of their radios, the anthropologist said, but there were rumors that the boats were back on the air and perhaps getting messages sent in code by lights on shore.
sinking ship
 The Museo Nacional has this newspaper photo of the 'Fella'
 and the 'Eisenach' in the distance
burning after explosions.

March 31, 1941, both vessels suffered an early morning explosion and sank. Capt. Gabriel Locatelli Gabrielli of the “Fella” and Capt. Gerhard Loers Struck of the “Eisenach” are presumed to have received orders to scuttle the ships.
   
Not long after, Le Franc noted, the “Eisenach” was raised and repaired. It went back into service as a cargo ship, he said. Attempts to raise the “Fella” were unsuccessful.

It was believed carrying a cargo of marble, although there were rumors of war materials.

Salvagers had brought cranes to the site to raise parts of the boat before officials intervened in May.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 202
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Wet Tuesday
and Wednesday


Unstable air and low pressure brought the rainy season back to San José Tuesday. Rain was forecast for most of the country. Although October usually is a month with heavy rains, the Central Valley has been spared so far this year due to conditions in the Pacific. The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional predicts more of the same for today. The photo is of Parque Nacional and the Monumento Nacional.
National Monument rain
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp

New book seeks to guide potential expats on their move here
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

“What does living in Costa Rica cost?” “How is health care?” “Do I have to learn Spanish?” and “Can I bring my dog?”
retirement book
These are four of the many questions perspective expatriates ask while pondering the move to a pura vida lifestyle.

Businesswoman Helen Dunn Frame hopes to answer these worries and more through her new book entitled “Retiring in Costa Rica or Doctors, Dogs and Pura Vida.”

“This book is directed to the baby boomers who want to move to
make their dollar stretch.  It should help them build due diligence and learn through the resources I provide and decide if they want to retire here,” said Ms. Frame.

The New York native says she always liked to write and, in fact, is happiest when writing.  She graduated from the Journalism School at Syracuse University and has been
published in major newspaper, magazines and trade publications in the United States, England and Germany.  She also published a mystery novel “Greek Ghost.”

Ms. Frame also has a master's degree in sociology from New York University which she credits for her deep appreciation for diverse cultures.

Eight years ago, she moved to the country she said she fell in love with when she first came to visit in the 1990s Costa Rica.  For a single woman, many considered her brave.

“Many people called me courageous because I packed up and moved to Costa Rica by myself,” Ms. Frame said on her Web site.  “Knowing dreams have no deadlines I decided to follow mine and live abroad. I determined that if I ignored the opportunity I would regret it for the rest of my life.”

Her experiences over this time have guided her thoughts in her new work.  The book is a guide for perspective retirees with resources to get answers, quotes from others living here, suggestions for other books to read, and Web sites to browse for others’ opinions, she said.

Ms. Frame's book is available on Kindle and in hard copy on Amazon. 


Florida researchers attribute diseases of ocean's coral to stress
By the Florida Institute of Technology news staff

Marine diseases are killing coral populations all over the world, threatening the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on reefs for food and protection from storms. Are these diseases new and unprecedented infections, or do they erupt from the stresses of environmental change?

Florida Institute of Technology biologist Robert van Woesik and his former student Erinn Muller — now a researcher at the Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida — used a mapping technique to examine disease clustering and determine what might have caused the recent increase of coral diseases in the Caribbean. Their results appear in Tuesday's issue of Global Change Biology.

Public health officials have been mapping diseases since the first outbreak of cholera in London in 1854. Mapping provides
clues about the origin of diseases and how rapidly diseases can spread. According to Muller, "When diseases cluster they are usually contagious and are spreading rapidly. When they don't cluster, environmental stress is usually the cause."

Ms. Muller and van Woesik mapped the clustering of three coral diseases in the Caribbean and concluded that they are stress-related rather than contagious. "These coral diseases in the Caribbean are likely caused by stress,” said van Woesik, “and that stress is the warming seas that are the result of climate change.” The researchers suspect the coral immune systems are compromised by increasing water temperatures, making them more susceptible to infection.

"We more easily catch a cold when we are stressed, and corals are likewise responding to stress by getting sick," said van Woesik. "The ocean will continue to warm, increasing the likelihood of coral diseases."

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Monetary Fund predicting
further global slowdown


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Monetary Fund is predicting a further slowdown in the global economy's growth rate. The assessment comes in a closely-watched economic forecast in which the Fund blames the gloomy outlook on uncertainties with fiscal policies in the United States and Europe.

The Fund says there is an alarmingly high risk of a global slowdown with an 80 percent chance of recession in the Euro zone next year.

The global economy is predicted to rise 3.3 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year. In its previous forecast, three months ago, the Fund pegged growth this year at 3.5 percent and 3.9 percent in 2013.

​“The new element is the uncertainty, the degree of uncertainty, about policy - both in Europe and in the United States," said economist Olivier Blanchard, the Fund's research director. "That's what worries us. At the same time it is sufficiently well identified that if the measures which have been promised are delivered in the case of Europe and if the U.S. avoids a fiscal cliff one can be optimistic or relatively optimistic about the future.”

The fund recommends that after next month's presidential and congressional elections, America will have to act quickly or economic recovery will be derailed.

At the beginning of 2013, a number of significant tax cuts expire and automatic spending cuts go into effect unless U.S. policy-makers act.

While there is strong concern about Europe, the United States and Japan, the Fund also expects an economic slowdown in China and India, two countries whose economic booms helped the world recover from the most recent recession.

The latest IMF report cautions that overall “confidence in the global financial system remains exceptionally fragile.”


U.N. experts seek new fund
to support world's poor


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A new global initiative ensuring the social protection of the world’s poorest people is a growing necessity, two United Nations independent experts said Tuesday, noting that without such a program, chronic unemployment, food insecurity, and natural disasters would pose continuous impediments to those seeking to emerge from poverty.   

In a joint news release, Magdalena Sepúlveda and Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteurs on extreme poverty and the right to food, respectively, urged the creation of a global fund for social protection, stating that 2 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product would be enough to provide all the world’s poor with basic social protection from the effects of unemployment, illness, disability, crop failure and soaring food costs.  

The experts’ proposal comes on the heels of a new hunger report published by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme. The report said that nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010 to 2012.

“Following this summer’s drought in the US, food prices are dangerously high for the third time in five years and hunger remains at unacceptably high levels, as today’s FAO figures show,” Ms. Sepúlveda and De Schutter stated.   

“The right to food is denied every time prices spike and people are no longer able to put food on the table. Food and other basics must not be left to the mercy of economic cycles – the world’s poorest citizens must be able to fall back on basic social protection,” they added.  


Meningitis in steroid shots
killed 11, officials say

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. federal health officials say 11 people have now died from a rare fungal meningitis outbreak linked to steroid injections.

Updating its figures Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 119 cases of meningitis associated with the deadly outbreak.

The CDC says 13,000 people in 23 states may have been injected with the contaminated steroid suspected of causing the outbreak.  But officials say they do not know how many people will actually become sick.

Patients injected with the steroid for back pain are in the greatest danger, while the CDC says those who received the shots in their joints are not believed to be at risk.

A total of 10 states have now reported at least one case of the disease.  It can take as long as one month for symptoms to appear.

The CDC is working with local authorities to try to identify everyone who may have gotten the tainted steroid.

The company that made the steroid, the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, has recalled all of its products and shut down operations.

Meningitis is a disease infecting membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord.  There are five different types. Fungal meningitis is the rarest form.  Other types are caused by bacteria, a virus or a parasite.
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20% of U.S. adults reject
formal religious groups


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A record one in five American adults identifies with no particular religion, according to a new study. And while many still believe in God, the so-called "nones" are a rapidly growing constituency that overwhelmingly votes Democratic.

The study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life looks at a group that has confounded faith leaders and political strategists alike, as it has rapidly grown in number in this deeply religious nation.

The "nones" - who include atheists, agnostics and people reporting no particular faith - now total 46 million people, according to the study.

Lest anyone think America is following a European-style secularization process, Pew researcher Greg Smith emphasized that nones are by and large still spiritual people. Most told the survey they still believe in God, and 20 percent said they pray every day.

“These are folks who are not necessarily non-believers, they're just not associated with any particular religious tradition,” said Smith.

The trend is most pronounced among young adults, a third of whom identify themselves as nones. Smith said he does not expect them to find religion - or at least religious affiliation - when they become older.

“Young people today aren't just more likely to be nones than their elders. Young people today are also more likely to be nones when compared with previous generations when members of those generations were young adults,” said Smith.

Analysts said the political implications are profound. Three quarters of nones voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election. And the study suggests they are now the biggest religious constituency in the Democratic party, outnumbering Catholics, and mainline and evangelical Protestants.

And most sustain liberal attitudes and support legal abortion and same-sex marriage.








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