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These stories were published Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 201
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Israeli firm says it won $59 million fiber optic job from ICE
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

ECI Telecom Ltd. announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad to install the backbone of some 620 miles of an optical transmission network here.

The $59 million network will provide the telecommunications company, known as ICE, with the capacity to deliver voice and data services to fixed and mobile subscribers, ECI said.  The company said the first shovelfulls of dirt should begin flying within three months subject to approval by the Contraloría de la República, the nation's financial watchdog. 

Under the terms of the contract, ECI, which is headquartered in Israel, will provide all aspects of the fiber optic installation and
design, supply the fiber optic cables, dig the
 fiber canals and duct the fiber installation works across the urban and rural areas of Costa Rica, ECI said.

The project will use optical platforms that enable up to 40 channels of 10 gigabytes each.  This should meet ICE's long-term needs and eventually provide such amenities as an Ethernet system throughout Costa Rica, officials said. 

"We selected ECI as their single-platform technology is very advanced, providing us with the needed flexibility for future services," said Claudio Bermudez, telecommunications general manager of the Instituto Costarricense Electricidad. "This is one of the largest and most strategic infrastructure projects in Costa Rica, and we have great confidence in ECI's field-proven experience to undertake such a important turnkey assignment."



Professor, 82, is a voice against free trade pact
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An 82-year-old retired philosophy professor has emerged as an intellectual leader of those opposed to the free trade treaty with the United States.

She is Hilda Chen Apuy Espinoza, who is a winner of the country's highest award for culture, the Premio Nacional de Cultura Magón. She emerged Aug. 18 as an opponent of the treaty when she published an open letter on the Internet. She now is a member of Costa Rica para todos, an anti-treaty group.

Her opinions are a summary of views and concerns of opponents. They are particularly newsworthy because the legislative assembly of Nicaragua ratified the free trade treaty Monday, leaving Costa Rica as the only signer of the agreement whose legislature has not approved the document.

In an interview with Informa-tico.com, an online news source, Professor Hilda Chen Apuy Espinoza rejected the idea that she was driven by nostalgia and memories of bygone days in her opinions about the pact.

She said a secret plan exists to impoverish Costa Rica and drive it to the economic levels of adjacent Central American states. She said exploitation of the worker is the main problem in the world today. Labor in Costa Rica is more expensive because of the Código de Trabajo and the social charges employers must pay, she said.
She noted that Costa Rica is bound to the letter of the treaty because here an international pact outweighs even the Constitution. However, she noted, the United States holds the U.S. Constitution to be the highest law. She used the analogy of a married couple where the wife says that the husband is married legally but the she, the wife, is not.

With the free trade treaty, the nation is on the road to becoming a big factory because companies will not look for persons to fill high positions here. She used the Spanish term maquiladora, generally known to be the factories that populate the Mexican side of that country's border with the United States.

Professor Hilda Chen Apuy Espinoza also expressed concern for the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad and other government monopolies that will have to face international competition.  

She said that in the competitiveness of the marketplace, human values are forgotten, including the values of the welfare state that Costa Rica has constructed since 1948.

In addition, she said that Hurricane Katrina unmasked in New Orleans the poverty that exists in the United States.

In Managua, the Nicaraguan legislature approved the pact 49 to 37 when representatives of the leftist Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional choose not to oppose bringing the measure to a vote.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 201


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Fugitive from Panamá
arrested living here


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers captured a Panamanian wanted in his country to face allegations of murder and selling drugs. He was captured as he rode in a taxi through San Pedro Monday morning, police said. 

The suspect, identified by the last names De Léon Bell, had been hiding in Costa Rica since December 2003, officers said.  For the last few months, he has lived in  San Antonio de Vázquez de Coronado, officers said. 

Officers followed him from his home early Monday morning where they had been watching him for the last couple of months, they said.  They chose to surprise De Léon in the taxi because he had less time to react, officers said.

Officers said that De Léon had been making a living by selling cellular phones.  When they arrested him, he had various cell phones in his possession as well as a “substantial” sum of money, officers said.

De Léon Bell in now under the jurisdiction of the Primer Circuito Judicial de San José where judges will c onsider his return to Panamá, the Fuerza Pública said.  

Fake perfume charge
brings man to trial


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man who bottled his own perfumes will go on trial this week because the product bore the trademarks of Calvin Klein y Tommy Hillfiger.

The man has the last name of Quirós, and he is facing an allegation of infringing on the intellectual property rights of the companies.  The case will be tried in Hatillo.

From December 2001 until a raid ended his activities May 28, 2002, Quirós ran a company with locations in San Josecito de Alajuelita and Barrio Luján. Officials said that the man's company produced, packaged and created the fake perfumes.

Porno count does not
require sale of items


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala III criminal appeals court had to wrestle with the question of what constitutes pornography.

A defense lawyer argued that a criminal conviction not only required prosecutors to show that the defendant made the pornographic material but that he also intended to sell it.

At issue is pornography as it relates to minor subjects. The court rejected the argument but not before considering the issues.

The case relates to a man with the last name of Salas, who had a relationship with a 14-year-old in the vicinity of Puntarenas. In June 2003 he decided to take nude photos of the girl in different poses. The Tribunal de Puntarenas determined that these were pornographic photos and sentenced the man to nine years in prison.

The Sala III court said that even photos that pictured the girl in underwear were pornographic and citied Costa Rica law that makes no mention of manufacture for commercial purposes.

The law simply provides a penalty for anyone who makes such material. In addition there is a lesser prison sentence for anyone who brings such material into the country, the court noted.

Crack was mixed
with soccer gear


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When a nervous youth soccer-coach invited Fuerza Pública officers in San José to search his car during a traffic stop, the officers grew suspicious at his shallow willingness to cooperate, they said.  After allowing officers a glance at the equipment shoved in his trunk, he quickly slammed it.  The officers decided to investigate further, they said. 

When they dug through the jerseys, soccer balls and cleats they found one of the largest stashes of crack cocaine they had seen in years, the officers said – over 4,000 doses.

The soccer coach and his companion, identified by the last names Gamboa and Soto, also had two 16 and 17-year-old youths riding with them, the officers said. 
Officers presume that the suspect used the coaching gig as a cover for his illegal business.

Environmental group
seek U.N. turtle help


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas has launched a petition urging the Costa Rican government to take steps in the United Nations General Assembly that would protect the leatherback turtle.  The turtle is in critical danger of becoming extinct, said the organization. 

The organization said that the United Nations is scheduled to discuss a measure about marine protection and fishing and would like the Costa Rican government to push for a clause protecting the turtle before the measure is voted on in mid-November, the group said. 

In June 2005, the Costa Rican government tried to insert clauses protecting the turtles into a similar resolution, but it never reached the vote of the General Assembly, the organization said.

The organization said that protecting the leatherback is of utmost importance.  Its population has diminished 99 percent in the last 25 years world-wide, the organization said.  15 years ago, there were almost 1,400 turtles that came to Playa Grande in Guanacaste.  Last year, only 52 showed up, the organization said.       
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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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Cruz Roja to send team to Guatemala and El Salvador
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cruz Roja's work may have leveled off in Costa Rica, but that doesn't mean the agency gets a break. 

Officials with the agency have decided to lend their services to those regions in Guatemala and El Salvador that received the brunt of Hurricane's Stan's damage. 

Today, the agency will send four 18-wheelers of humanitarian supplies and a delegation of Cruz Roja workers to those battered countries, the agency said.  Guillermo Arroyo, director de Socorros y Operaciones of the Cruz Roja Costarricense, plans to head the effort. 

The actions were a response to a plea for help from the government of Guatemala, the agency said.  Stan hit that country hardest, killing at least 652, authorities said.  The United Nations has allocated $22 million to the relief effort. 

In all, the death toll from Stan is up to 772, officials said.  The storm killed more than 100 persons in El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras and two more died in Costa Rica as a result of flooding related to Stan.  In El Salvador, conditions were exacerbated when one of the country's largest volcanoes, Ilamatepec, erupted twice.

Officials in Guatemala want two western villages buried in giant mud flows, Panabaj and Tzanchaj,
declared mass graves, said the A.M. Costa Rica wire services.

The mayor of Panabaj has said that his village will no longer exist.  He says 250 people are missing from the hamlet on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

Mayan villagers who spent days digging through the mud searching for victims stopped Sunday after more rain made the ground too soft and unstable to continue, said the wire services.

In El Salvador, the situation is not much better.  The United States announced Oct. 5, it will send $50,000 in aid to the relief effort there.  That announcement came a day after U.S. officials announced they were sending the same amount to victims of flooding here in Costa Rica.  The United Nations sent a $60,000 cash grant to El Salvador and a team from the organization in that country is appealing for some $6.5 million to meet the immediate needs of those affected by Stan, the wire services said. 

The United Nations humanitarian agency also allocated $30,000 to Costa Rica.  
 
Though part of the Cruz Roja will be occupied in El Salvador and Guatemala, the agency is still watching Aguirre and Guanacaste closely, Arroyo said.  Those areas are not yet out of the danger zone and the agency is still bringing supplies to those struggling to cope with the disaster.



Three Costa Rican surfers advance at international event in California
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After the first day of competition at the Quicksilver International Surfing Association's junior championships in Huntington Beach, Calif., Juan Carlos Naranjo, Luis Vega and Ronald Brown all surfed well enough to advance to the second round. 

As competition started Sunday morning, the sun was shining on six- to eight-foot waves with little wind.  Juan Carlos Naranjo surfed first for the Ticos. He was a little nervous, the team reported, but surfed well enough to finish second in his heat against Australia’s Thomas Wimmer, who came in first.  Barbados’ Jonathan Reece finished third and
Uruguay’s Marco Giorgi was fourth.

Isaac Vega was surfing for the first time in an event of this magnitude and was also uneasy, the team reported.  Despite that, the Tamarindo native finished second in his heat as well.  Australia's Mitchell Coleborn won, followed by Vega and Barbados' Nial Thomas. 

Puerto Viejo's Ronald Brown started out slow as well, the team said, but was able to come up with a second place finish as well against competitors from Australia and Barbados.

Juan Calderón of Jaco was the only Tico Sunday who didn't advance.  He finished third just behind Italy's Giovanni Perini.  Perini, though Italian, is from Tamarindo, and the two are buddies, the team said.  Though Calderón lost, he has another chance to place in the tournament during a later elimination round.

Photo courtesy of JLM PR
Tico surfers pose for a team photo

The Costa Rica team is doing well, they said, considering all four surfers Sunday had members of the champion Australian team to compete against.  The Ticos are surfing against teams from Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Tahiti, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Hawaii and the United States.

Parents, friends and other Ticos have traveled to Huntington from Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego and Costa Rica to support the young team, they said.
The 16 and under category started Monday. 






Readers react to letter from disgruntled tourist
He's never had problems
with law officers here

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My wife and I have never experienced any problems with law enforcement in Costa Rica. In fact, we have had several incidents that have shown them to be quite the opposite — very friendly and helpful. Therefore, I found Mark Adamson’s very serious allegation about immigration officials’ “shakedown” a bit troubling. It should be a point of concern for visitors, as he is correct that everyone is told not to carry their passport, just a copy is sufficient.

I am surprised that you would print his letter without doing some follow-up on this accusation beforehand. I would think it would be relatively easy to find out if there is any truth to story.

James Wolf
Orlando, Fla.

He was trying to grab
valuable real estate


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Adamson, in all reality you were a tourist “saying” that you were looking for property to purchase in Costa Rica. All the ads and the ridiculous television station you were speaking of is from your “precious” USA! The “trap” you mentioned could have been avoided if you had carried your passports with you. Being from the U.S.A. You came down here looking to steal a piece of prime real estate but you came during the rainy season and ran into some bad roads caused by the flooding. This is very typical of the soft “gringo” that has never worked a hard day in their life, to allow a bit of adversity to mess with their plans and whatever sanity they had in the first place is replaced with fear.

As for driving there during the rainy season what did you expect? After all it is the “rainy” season here in Costa Rica and that means just what it says: “RAIN”

I have serious doubts that you know how much is “pumped” into Costa Rica by tourist. I also challenge you to come up with any proof as to the money going into someone’s pockets. You should check out the Bush administration and Halliburton to find the corruption money!

Actually Jacó is nowhere close to being “like” Tijuana, Mexico. Jacó is like a small country town while Tijuana is a sprawling city. It was also the rainy season, and the traffic had to be rerouted through Jacó. I am sure that there were potholes and traffic but nothing like a Los Angeles freeway or traffic in any major city in the U.S.A.

Let me see! Filthy streets can be found in New Orleans, Virginia, New York, Florida, Texas, and many other cities throughout the U.S.A. And talk about dirty beaches! The beaches in Galveston and all down the Padre Island coastline is tar infested beaches and filthy water. What a JOKE!

In the first place why would you pick a sleazy little bar in a non-discript little dirty town to go into? Also you have been told by authorities in your own country to be sure and “keep” you passport handy as you may need it if you are in a foreign country. Duh! Isn’t that what a passport is all about? Also I don’t believe you required a nightcap and then leave the bar and “drive” away. Drinking and driving don’t mix! As a federal cop you should know that! The $50 fee the “officer” was imposing is not all that bad. The fine and headaches in the U.S.A. Would have been much worst and you would have been detained for an indefinite period of time while they took their leisurely time “figuring” out who you are.

The ugly truth came out when you admitted to being and ex federal officer. This tells me you tried to intimidate the Costa Rican officers. You were not “lucky” but were graciously allowed to leave by some very nice immigration officials. I don’t think the officer “backed” off because you had a badge! Your badge is certainly of “no value” here!

You seem to be the one that is a “joke” You seem to have no grasp as to what happens in your own country as to corruption; in fact the most corrupt country in the world! You have an “installed” president “if you can actually call him a president with a straight face” You make accusations that all the traffic police are on the take, and this is totally not true. You, sir, are a liar and a bigot!

It is easy to see that you know nothing of Central America, calling Costa Rica the “most” corrupt nation in Central America is erroneous information and you should send apologies to Costa Rica for all your dirty rhetoric. Your remarks about corruption here has certainly fallen on deaf ears in this office. Please clean up your own back yard before coming to Costa Rica and trying to tell us what we should and should not do.

Evidently you have not been in the 5th ward of Houston or the 9th ward of New Orleans. Also many other cities such as the Bronx in New York are places where the police will not answer a call in those areas. I was in New Orleans and was told by police on the phone that I had best get out of the neighborhood my car had been broken into because the police would not respond to that area and I would be lucky to get out with my life. I called a wrecker, and it was three hours before he arrived toting a shotgun with him as he hooked up to my automobile.

I suggest to you, sir, to stay in your homeland because you are obviously to big a coward to be venturing off down here in the Third World! Stay up there where legal matters get handled in a couple months! Ask the Cuban 5 if there ordeal was settled in months! I personally know of both criminal cases and civil cases taking years to litigate in the U.S.A. Hell! My divorce was 2 ½ years becoming final.

So I say to you again “stay in your trailer park and drink your Bud light and spit your tobacco or dip your snuff. We certainly do not need people like you coming down here and making a bad example of themselves! And we certainly don’t want you to be taken advantage of while you are trying to steal some of our real estate! Once a “pig” always a “pig”

Antonio Silva,
Costa Rica

He's just not worthy
of being in Costa Rica


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I must take exception to the disparaging letter written by Mark Adamson of Los Angeles.  As an American who has visited Costa Rica almost annually for the last 10 years, I would just like to say, STAY HOME, MR. ADAMSON !  You give other American tourist a very bad name.  Stay away from the beautiful country that so many of us love. You are socially ill equipped, and unable to understand or appreciate what a treasure Costa Rica is.  You are not worthy to view the natural beauty, nor enjoy the warmth of the Tico spirit, and most definitely, you do not deserve their gracious hospitality.  Please, for heaven’s sake, stay in your CALIFORNIA trailer park.

Charlotte Hampton
Durham, North Carolina
Reagan should get
some of the blame


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to a letter from Dave Treadway in today’s A.M. Costa Rica (10/01/05) about the importance of confronting terrorism, I would like make two additional points.  Mr. Treadway states: “Had President Clinton been serious a long time ago about dealing with terrorism, we would be more ahead of the game now.”

(Besides this being very much not a “game,”) to be fair we should mention that radical Islamists got their first taste of “beating back” the U.S. “paper tiger” under President Ronald Reagan, when they bombed a U.S. marine barrack in Beirut, killing well over 100 soldiers, and the U.S. response was to pull out and stay out, with no retribution to those who committed this act of terrorism (war.)  More recently, valuable resources that could have been used against the terrorists that actually attacked the U.S. were used instead for attacking a country that (at the time) was of no danger to the U.S.

Glen Love
Haverford, Pa., and
Dominical, Costa Rica


Did he know storm
knocked out bridge?


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
I was so disappointed in Mr. Adamson short vision of Jacó and Costa Rica in general.  Maybe no one told him we were just hit by a tropical storm and that we all feel very bless that here in Jacó we only have to deal with the inconvenience of a bridge out.

Mr. Adamson look around you, Guatemala, India and even in the United States, the weather has been harsh and many people have lost their lives.  Sorry you had to drive through  “Filthy streets”  and see our “muddy ocean water, dirty beaches.” and that you think Costa Rica is a joke.

Obviously, you view the world in rose color glasses, yes please go back to the United States and before you point fingers at a country like Costa Rica look at the mess the United States is in.  Many people in the world thinks that your president is a joke.  Some would even go as far to say the war in Iraq is corruption.  Be careful with perception it needs to be adjusted regularly to be real.
 
Kimberley  Laferriere
Jacó Beach


She's glad that some
don't like it here


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have been reading A.M. Costa Rica for about a year now. Many times I have read letters from various people complaining about the “shortcomings” of life in Costa Rica and just shook my head — I feel that I must offer a different opinion.

I lived in Costa Rica from 1970-1980, before it had been “discovered” by so many of the people who have since found that the country truly is a jewel (not to say that there aren’t still some rough edges).  It was a wonderful time, and I developed a deep affection for the country and its’ people — and I learned the difference between “want” and “need”. For that I will be forever grateful.

It makes things a lot easier to deal with when the conveniences of everyday life in the States is disrupted — power, water, telephone, lack of supplies, high fuel cost and lack of, etc. When these things are disrupted a great portion of the population is turned topsy turvey because they don’t know how to cope without things being immediately available at their fingertips.

In 1980 I moved back to the States for family reasons. Since then there have been many times that I have yearned for the easier, calmer, friendlier pace of life that I had in CR.  Life in the States operates on a whole different level.  I love the U.S. and am proud (at least most of the time) to be an American.  But for personal reasons have decided to move back to live in Costa Rica.  I am really looking forward to the move!  Do I think it is Utopia?  No way.  To me (and obviously many others), the country offers things that the States can’t.

To those people who complain about the “problems” that they have encountered in CR and feel that life in the States is so much better, if you feel like that then the best thing for you to do is stay where you are and not impose your values or superior attitudes on others.  One less grump the better.

I invite them to pick up their morning paper or tune into the local and national news.  They will find articles on corrupt cops all over the country (in all fairness most of the police officers are honest dedicated people as they are in CR), domestic violence is rampant, child abuse is a national disgrace, corruption in every sector of life that we always felt was above that (clergy, lawyers, doctors, teachers, civic leaders, corporations, hospitals and the list goes on).  How about car jackings (many times violent), home invasions, rapes (last weeks paper told of a 60-year-old man raping a 4-year-old neighbor), school shootings (where the children are thought to be safe), assaults at ATM machines, armed bank robberies, teenagers beating homeless people to death because they were “bored,” serial killers (that number in the hundreds), companies not making good on pensions, sexual predators living next door (and far to many times the officials that were to keep track of them have no idea where they are), I could add many more things to the list.

It’s easy to point fingers or complain about things not being the way we feel they should be.  The person that comes to Costa Rica (or any other country) would be much better off and far more enriched if they would open themselves up to their surroundings and new experiences instead of comparing or criticizing the country they have come to visit. Are there problems in Costa Rica?  Yes, but then where aren’t there any?

Thank goodness not everyone who comes to Costa Rica falls in love with it — leaves that much more room for those who enjoy and embrace LA PURA VIDA!  I look forward to living there again.

Thanks for letting me put in my 2 cents.

Linda Frye
Umatilla, Fla.

Got something to say?

You can write about Costa Rica

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editor@amcostarica.com



 
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