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(506) 223-1327              Published Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 202        E-mail us   
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They'll honor the egg by scrambling it up for all who come Friday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although it does not rank up there with Christmas or July 4, Friday is the World Day of the Egg, and
chicken and egg
producers here want to serve breakfast to visitors.

The celebration begins at 8 a.m. on the esplanade by the Museo de Arte Costarricense in
Parque la Sabana. The event is being put on by the  Cámara Nacional de Avicultores, the egg producers, but beside breakfast, there is more for the visitor.

The organization said that the I Feria Nutricional del Huevo would take place at the same time.
 
Medical professionals will take blood pressure and check for other diseases.  The likely prescription will be "Eat more eggs!"

Besides serving breakfast and helping the physicians, the egg producers also will show their skills at packing eggs in a contest in which teams from various companies participate.

And the grand finale is the contest where the largest egg is picked. The association said that the record is 158 grams or about 5.6 ounces. No fair bringing in a ringer like an ostrich egg. The announcement said specifically "egg from a hen."

Among the guests will be about 150 children from the Asociación Obras del Espíritu Santo who will be disguised and also show their art work.



Teatro Nacional presents ballet and exhibit of its early photos
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Teatro Nacional, the area's most celebrated building, is having another birthday and an exhibit
ballet dancers
of what the structure looked like in the early quarter of the 20th century just opened.

In addition, supporters of the theater are helping to stage a ballet this weekend based on the Oscar Wilde short story, "The Birthday of the Infanta."

The photo display is in the Galería José Luis López Escarré at the  
theater. The works are by Manuel Gómez Miralles.

They show the various rooms of the theater as well as some of the artists and even the 1927 members of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional.

Among the 13 photos is one showing the theater's celebration of the 100th anniversary of the death of  Ludwig Van Beethoven, That, too, was in 1927, and the Beethoven statue at the theater was decked with floral offerings.

The exhibit is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The ballet is by the Danzay company with Mariana Elizondo and Kristiane Feoli taking the role of the princess of Spain. The music includes Spanish
Teatro Nacional in 1927
1921 photo shows the former bar and cafe, part of which is now an exhibition gallery.

works of the 17th and 18th century. María Amalia Pendones is the director.

The ballet, "El Cumpleaños de la Infanta," as it is called in Spanish, is a modern work based on the work of the Irish author. The theater staff said that the work is appropriate for children as well as adults.

In fact, the theater has invited 80 children and 500 senior citizens to a special performance Friday morning.

The Fundación de Amigos Pro Mejoras del Teatro Nacional, the dance company and the theater, which is a branch of the cultural ministry, are all sponsoring the performances. The ballet will be Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. and again at 5 p.m.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 202

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Lawmakers talk arbitration
without mentioning Villalobos


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers swept the fallout from the Villalobos Brothers high interest business under the rug in a committee meeting Wednesday. As has been typical, no one mentioned the arbitration case that has been brought by a Canadian law firm on behalf of some investors.

The discussion Wednesday was about the budget line for international arbitration. Amparo Pacheco, a vice minister of Comercio Exterior, explained that the budget has been increased for what she said were eventual international arbitrations.

In fact, the arbitration on the Villalobos case is at the point in a World Court agency that a three-person tribunal is being impaneled to hear the evidence. None of this was mentioned at the legislature.

Instead, the talk revolved around the increase in the budget from 272 million colons to 300 million, or about $577,000.

Minister Pacheco told the Comisión de Hacendarios that in past years only a small amount of this budget line actually was used. Defendants in arbitrations usually hire high powered law firms specialized in the topic.

Costa Rican officials are not anxious to answer questions about how they will handle the Villalobos arbitration. The investors claim that Costa Rica did not exercise even minimal competency to keep them from being scammed by the Villalobos Brothers.

The trial court in the Oswaldo Villalobos criminal decision pretty much said the same thing. A number of Costa Rican agencies should have stepped in to protect investors but did not. Oswaldo Villalobos was convicted of fraud in a case that is still on appeal.

Government officials have been tight-lipped about the arbitration because the trade treaty with the United States also contains such a measure whereby unhappy investors can carry their complaints to an impartial international panel.

The Villalobos investors are using a similar clause in the Canadian free trade treaty, and they want $200 million. Such a revelation, if presented to the Costa Rican voters, might have changed the outcome in Sunday's referendum. That's $50 for every Costa Rican man, woman and child.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the investors in the Villalobos operation have filed no legal actions. The business which paid 3 percent a month to investors folded in 2002 after police raided it July 4, 2002. Enrique Villalobos, if alive, is still a fugitive.

They were double victims
in less than 24 hours here


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A couple from Denver, Colorado, were robbed and then burglarized, both in less than 24 hours, while they vacationed on the central Pacific coast. And they are telling the world.

They are Wendy Grunewald and Dan Smith. Two men beat Smith with clubs as they approached their car near a beach just north of Manuel Antonio Oct. 3. He was not seriously hurt, but the bandits ripped a gold chain from his neck.

After making a police report, the couple, guests at a cousin's home, stashed all their valuables there before going out to dinner. When they tried to pack their camera, jewelry, passports and other items the next day — their last in the country — they said it all was missing.

They speculate that a thief entered while they were showering or changing clothes because there was no forced entry to the private home.

"I will be sending this to all of my friends and family warning them of travel conditions in Costa Rica, said Ms Grunewald in an e-mail.  "Please pass this along to others who may be traveling outside of the United States."

A.M. Costa Rica has been copied on her e-mail at least six times since Tuesday.

Quepos man again detained
on crack sales allegation


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 53-year-old Queos man is in custody today facing the allegation that he sold four crack rocks to an undercover policeman. This is the third time in three years that he has faced a similar charge.

The man was arrested in a drug sweep in 2005 and again in 2006. Both cases still  are pending, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents had been watching and following him for four months, the agency said.

AmCham makes a donation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cámera Costarricense Norteamericano de Comercio, known informally as AmCham, has donated $23,500 in equipment to the nation's emergency commission for use in the canton of La Cruz on the north Pacific coast.

The donation includes two-way radios, life jackets, refelctive vests, helmets, climbing ropes and gloves for those using the ropes, among other items, according to the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias.

La Cruz is an area of major development, and much of the equipment will be for the local emergency committees, said the commission.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 202


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Treaty foes in assembly agree not to be a roadblock
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government is consolidating its efforts to pass legislation that is key to bringing the free trade treaty with the United States into force.

Wednesday President Óscar Arias Sánchez met with  Elizabeth Fonseca and Rafael Elías Madrigal, the two leaders of the Partido Acción Ciudadana in the legislature. They have agreed not to impede passage of the legislation although they said their party lawmakers will not vote for them.

They also delivered a note from Ottón Solís, the president of the party and one of the major figures in trying to defeat the treaty in the referendum that ratified it Sunday.

Solís asked Arias to increase the budgets for education and research, provide subsidies for those hurt by the treaty and to slap large corporations with higher taxes and eliminate tax breaks for them.

Solís called his 18-point plan an agenda of mitigation. He also urged Arias to meet with the more radical opponents of the trade treaty.

Arias also met Wednesday with legislative deputies and leaders of the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana, which has supported the treaty. The lawmakers told Arias that they were willing to work more hours to get the key pieces of legislation passed, said Casa Presidencial.
The Unidad Social Cristiana provide some of the votes that gives the central government a two-thirds majority in the 57-member legislative chamber. Despite the political weight, individual lawmakers can slow down action with parliamentary procedures. This is what the Partido Acción Ciudada promised not to do.

Arias will meet with the five Movimiento Libertario lawmakers today. That group also is part of the ruling coalition in the legislature and seeks to speed up approval.

Arias also has a meeting with Óscar López, the only representative of the Partido Accesibilidad sin Exclusión in the legislature.

The president will face a hard sell because López already told supporters in an e-mail that he would continue to fight to keep the treaty from going into force, despite the referendum outcome.

The government has until the end of February to pass the enabling legislation.

Casa Presidencial maintains that approval of the enabling legislation was implicit in the referendum that voters faced Sunday. The treaty was supported by a difference of 3 percentage points.

The legislation includes agreement to several international treaties, including one that protects the patents of new varieties of plants.


Steady rains cause problems mostly along Pacific coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rain continued early today in the Central Valley and along the Pacific coast. The weather bureau promised that the rains would continue and said that strong thundershowers were likely in the afternoon.

The combination of two days of frequently heavy rain caused problems that resulted in 350 homes being flooded out along the Pacific coast. At least two homes were destroyed by a slide.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional blamed the untypical rains on a low pressure system over the Yucatan Peninsula of México. The weather system is drenching the Pacific, particularly in the north, and also the Central Valley. The Caribbean coast is sunny.

The weather experts were predicting up to 50 mms. of rain in the Pacific over six hours. That's more than two inches.
San José got 32.8 mms. from 7 a.m. Wednesday, some
 1.29 inches. Heredia faced 51.4 mms. or 2.02 inches, according to the weather station there. Liberia had 25.8 mms. of rain, some 1.13 inches.

The rains gave way to fog in some areas, cutting visibility.

The nation's emergency commission declared an alert for the Pacific and the Central Valley. It reported a litany of flooding and damage in the late afternoon. The commission had concerns about Quepos, Parrita, Puntarenas and Esparza due to the saturated soil. Slides were likely.

In Venecia de Puntarenas some Venecia de Puntarenas homes were flooded, the commission said. Some homes were said to be affected at the Los Sueños project in Parrita.  Cañas in Guanacaste had sewers backing up flooding houses.

It was a landslide in Candelaria de Palmares in Alajuela that destroyed two homes, said the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias.


Tourism industry seeks changes in proposed measure to regulate transportation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourism operators told lawmakers Wednesday that the current transit law is not appropriate for their industry.

Representatives of the Asociación Costarricense de Operadores Turísticos appeared before the Comisión Permanente Especial de Turismo to talk about a bill that covers tourist transportation.

Among other points, the tourism industry representatives said there was no need that every vehicle used in tourism
have facilities for the handicapped. Such tourists usually make their needs known beforehand, they said.

The industry figures were Efraín Roldan, Juan Carlos Ramos and Nury Mora. They pointed out that a tourism worker can be ticketed if he or she carries even a single tourist in a private vehicle. They are supposed to use vehicles with special plates.

The commission decided to invite the director of Tránsito, Germán Marín, and Javier Vargas of the Consejo de Transporte Público to another session to hear their views.


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Hungarian deal to accept detained Cubans draws fire
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Dozens of Cuban refugees who were detained by the United States after fleeing their country, have arrived in Hungary where they will be granted political asylum.  The arrival has led to a diplomatic dispute between Hungary and Cuba.

Hungarian officials have confirmed that 28 Cuban refugees, mostly men with a few women and children, landed in Budapest and will receive political asylum. They are part of a group of 44 Cubans captured at sea by the U. S. Coast Guard in recent years while trying to reach the United States.

They were detained at the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Cuban dissidents have said some of the refugees were activists who were persecuted for opposing the Communist government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
 
The spokesman of Hungary's ministry of foreign affairs, Lajos Szelestey, said that the Cubans arrived in Hungary under an agreement with Washington.

"All in all, 28 people arrived in Hungary because the Hungarian government accepted the request of the U.S. administration," he said.  "And the decision was approved by all five parliamentary parties."

Cuba has condemned that decision, calling Hungary a lackey of the U.S.

In a statement, Cuba's foreign ministry said the government of Hungary has acted, in Cuba's words, "as an accomplice of the American empire and is waiting for a reward."  The Cuban statement said Havana resists "the empire and despises the lackey."
Calls to the Cuban embassy in Budapest went unanswered.

Hungarian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Szelestey however said only humanitarian considerations were behind Hungary's decision to accept the refugees.

"The Hungarian side explained that Hungary was and would be prepared to take any refugees on the basis of humanity," he said.  "They fled Cuba and were captured on the sea and taken to Guantanamo, as far as I know nearly or more than three years ago."

Of the refugees, 17 are reported to have held a three-week hunger strike in August to protest alleged poor conditions at Guantanamo and the unwillingness of U.S. authorities to grant them asylum.

One aid worker believes it will take time for the Cubans to adjust to Hungarian society.  The office manager of the Christian organization Hungarian Baptist Aid, David Gal, said that his group will help the refugees find housing and jobs and adapt to Hungarian culture.

Gal said the Cubans will receive counseling in a temporary shelter near Budapest.

"They will be helped by social workers and also counselors because these people obviously went through some shock," he said.  "So we have recruited some Spanish-speaking counselors and social workers who will be with them to help them in the whole situation of moving, arriving in a new country and so forth.  They arrived early in the morning and they were extremely tired so they went to bed  immediately.  There was very little conversation at this point.  But we hope to find out very much about them in the coming days."     


Honduran president pays a call on neighbors in Havana
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Honduran President José Manuel Zelaya has visited Cuba for talks with acting President Raúl Castro on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues.

President Zelaya and his delegation arrived Tuesday in Havana for an official welcoming ceremony.  The two countries re-established diplomatic relations in 2002.

Zelaya was also scheduled to tour the Latin American school of medical sciences on his visit to the Caribbean island.

It was not known whether Zelaya would meet with ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro, who handed power to his brother, Raúl, on a provisional basis a year ago last July due to his intestinal surgery.
Besides meeting with Cuban officials, Zelaya was to have signed a maritime border agreement with authorities in Havana.

But reports say the signing ceremony was delayed at the request of the Honduran delegation in order to analyze a U.N. court decision that favored Honduras in a territorial dispute with Nicaragua.

On Monday, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the U.N.'s highest court, granted Honduras sovereignty over four Caribbean islands, ending that nation's dispute with its neighbor. The court also redrew the maritime border between the two Caribbean nations. 

It awarded each party roughly half of the disputed territory, which offers fishing grounds and potential oil and gas reserves.


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