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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 203       Email us
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Youngsters in the Lambert family play with a rescued sloth that the family adopted for a time 15 years ago. Paul Lambert, a Manuel Antonio real estate broker, said the family named the animal Flash.
Lanbert kids and sloth
Palu Lambert photo

Readers are anxious to give Mr. Sloth a real name
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tourism institute sloth seems to bring out the best in readers. And it also brings out a little sarcasm.

With just two days to go in the Name the Sloth contest, readers have submitted words that seem to make a lot of sense.

Reader Greg Gordon likes Sabado for a name because “on Saturdays we all move slowly,” as does the sloth, he said.

Paul Lambert of Latitude Real Estate in Manuel Antonio has had practice in naming a sloth. He wrote:  “About 15 years ago, my family had the privilege of adopting and caring for a baby sloth that had been rescued. It lived with us and was a part of our family until he (or she, we never knew), decided it was time to get back to the jungle.

“Anyway, it was the sweetest animal we ever knew, and we named it Flash, I'm sure you can appreciate the irony of the name.”

Lizzy Fallas from Essence Translators gave some thought to the name and came up with a play on Costa Rica: Oscar Tica. She said Oscar would be a great name.

Ms. Fallas was not being political but others were when they suggested Oscar, as in Oscar Arias Sánchez, a commentary on the former president's performance.

Some used the contest as a platform to express concern about Costa Rica security. “As the name
 for the sloth, name him 'Confusion and Despair' because that is the state of affairs in Costa Rica,”
said Keith Wesserton, a former resident of Ciudad Colon. He mentioned the tax on tourists, crime and $600 speeding fines.

Others were more upbeat. Jon Hoffnagle of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He said the sloth is a wonderful representative for the tourism face of Costa Rica. He suggested the name Salvador the Sloth or Sal for short as in savior. “Hopefully this be the 'saviour' to bring more tourism to Costa Rica.” he said.

Hara Maderich had a similar opinion. He suggested Maksamillion deSloth because the animated critter is designed to increase business and revenue
Of course a lot of suggestions were keyed to the slow movement typical of a sloth.  John Downs suggested I.C.E. “since they both move incredibly SLOW,” he said in reference to the telecom company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad. Duane Egelund was on a similar track when he suggested Mr. Sleepy.

Readers still have two days to submit suggestions for names. The names are not binding on the tourism institute, but A.M. Costa Rica will adopt the selected name for future references to the animated salesman. Suggestions can be sent to

The three-toed sloth is the centerpiece of a multi-million dollar tourism institute promotion and is being run by the firm 22squared in Atlanta, Georgia.

He is the star of an Internet promotional video.

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Quake and volcano watchers
get emergency agency grants

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The two academic units that study earthquakes received a $2.14 million payment from the national emergency commission.

They are the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica at Universidad Nacional and the Red Sismológica Nacional at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

The money is to strengthen the watch on volcanoes and possible quakes. The goal will be to modernize equipment.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias, of course, is directly involved with emergencies caused by quakes and volcanoes.

Among other things, both organizations maintain sensors at active volcanoes. In addition, Costa Rica has an extensive network of quake sensors on land and on the sea floors.

Homosexual prisoners can
have conjugal visits, too

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court decided Tuesday that to prevent homosexual prisoners from seeing members of their own sex would be unconstitutional.

Costa Rica runs an extensive program on conjugal visits at its prisons. An article in prison regulations restricted such visits to members of the opposite sex.

The Sala IV said that this requirement violated the principles of equality and human dignity. The decision was announced Wednesday.

Our reader's opinion
New tax bill will bring
economic chaos and crime

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In reference to your article today, “Lawmaker outraged by tax reform pact” and that the assembly leadership cut him off.
I might add that many are recognizing that this law is destined to lead Costa Rica into economic chaos and lawlessness.
Putting an extra 15 percent advalorum tax at every phase of every economic activity will drive the cost of
living through the roof for everyone. The renter, already pressed, will have to pay 15 percent more. The agriculturist down to the smallest struggling farmer will have to pay 15 percent at every step of the agricultural process (buying seed, fertilizer, transport, taking sugar cane to the mill (of which 90 percent is waste product) . . .and do all the grueling paperwork evidencing his misfortune.
In one blow politicians will not just discourage production, but youth seeing fathers struggle for little or nothing, will more quickly resort to narcotrafficking, crime and assault … of which we already are overwhelmed. All under the excuse of financing a few extra police.
There is little hope a few in congress can to bring the shortsighted majority up to snuff in wisdom.
And apparently Costa Ricans are already so overwhelmed by taxes and red tape they are unable to make their voice heard. 
S. Smith

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, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 203

Valley getting new television station with news in English
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Central Valley is getting a new television station, and it will be offering a five-minute news summary in English each weekday night at 10 p.m., the news director said Wednesday.

The station is Channel 9, which will go live Monday at 7 p.m., according to the station announcement. At first, the signal only will be available through the air because the transmissions are not yet on cable.

The station is a private venture by Asmedia, identified as a Mexican media firm. The location is in Santa Ana.
Abby Daniell, who just left The Tico Times, a weekly newspaper in English, where she was associate publisher, will present the news in English, according to the station announcement. Ms. Daniell has been living in Costa Rica since 1994 and is a veteran newswoman, the station said.

This will be the only television news in English.

The announcement was in the name of Freddy Serrano
 Vargas, the news director. He has had a 14-year career in broadcasting, including a year-long stint in Colombia. He said the English-language show would “include the news you need, such as scheduled power outages, road closures, rate increases as well as breaking news important to those living and working in Costa Rica.”

Ms. Daniell in her most recent employment at The Tico Times spent 10 years there as general manager and later as associate publisher.

The new station enters a highly competitive market. Channel 7, Teletica, appears to be the dominant television station with Repretel's channels 4, 6 and 11 close behind.

El Diario Extra operates Channel 42. All of these stations are on the various cable systems, as is a station operated by the Universidad de Costa Rica on Channel 15. The Internet lists 20 separate Costa Rican channels, although some, like TV Sur, Channel 14, and TV 36 in Guanacaste, are regional. There also are religious stations.  Television via the Internet still is in its infancy.

Prosecutors will ask judge to jail lawyer for six months
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A court in San Joaquín de Flores de Heredia will hold a hearing this morning on a request by prosecutors to jail a well-known lawyer for six months investigation.

The lawyer is Arcelio Hernández Mussio, who is facing an allegation of fraud involving a $638,000 hotel deal.

The money came from a Costa Rican corporation that is made up of U.S. investors.

Hernández, a fluent English speaker, had been sought for more than a year, said the Poder Judicial. However, this was not a fact that was made public. The lawyer was detained Tuesday in Gravilias de Desamparados near where he lives. He also had been active as a lawyer in the Jacó area where he was involved in many real estate transactions before the economic downturn.
The Poder Judicial said that the money was supposed to go to the purchase of a hotel. Hernández had argued in emails to A.M. Costa Rica and its associated publication Costa Rica Report that he had a long career handling money and that this was just one deal that fell apart.

Hernández was being questioned formally Wednesday by prosecutors. The Poder Judicial said that Hernández was in flight. However, he is believed to have spent some time in the United States and returned to Costa Rica to face the allegations.

The case today will be heard before the Juzgado Penal de San Joaquín de Flores.

Hernández advertised in A.M. Costa Rica until February 2010. He also has done legal work for the parent corporation of the newspaper. He also has written opinion pieces on legal topics.

Water company headed to red ink, regulating agency says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national water company is not making the money it should, according to the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, which keeps track of the financial state of the utilities it regulates.

The regulating agency said that up until June the income of the water company, the Instituto Costarricense de
Acueductos y Alcantarillados, known as AyA, went up 4 percent but expenses went up 11 percent.

The company is approaching red ink due to the decrease in the use of water despite some 15,609 new customers, said the regulating agency.

The regulating agency suggested some changes in the books of the company to keep better track of some of its expenses.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 203

Nation continues to battle the results of rainy season weather
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The weather institute's prediction that the weather patterns would return to normal conditions and that the atmosphere would become stable appears to have been in error.

Although rains appears to lessen on the Pacific coast, much of the Central Valley got from 1.5 to 2 inches of rain Wednesday. And the steady rains lasted into the early morning hours.

Some automatic stations in the north Pacific reported no rain since 7 a.m. Wednesday. But Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela reported 46 millimeters since 7 a.m., about 1.8 inches. A station in Guápiles reported 43.8, about 1.7 inches.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, the road agency, said that there were five road closures in the Nicoya peninsula. There were eight roads with problems in the Central valley, and three of the roads had been closed.

Ruta 34 on the central Pacific was closed because the road caved in some 2.5 kilometers north of the Río Tárcoles.

The Interamericana Sur was closed in the vicinity of Río Claro near Golfito.

There was still an alert in force for the north and central
 Pacific coasts. The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said that there were slides in the southern part of the Central Valley and there were continued problems on the peninsula.

There were more than 100 persons in shelters due to flooding.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the atmosphere would continue to be unstable due to the inflow of humidity. Rain was expected throughout the day with perhaps thunderstorms.

The emergency commission had its geologists in the field keeping an eye on police sites for landslides, mainly in the western part of the Central Valley.

The Cruz Roja said its teams were working, too. There was a report of a slide on Ruta 21 between Nicoya and Santa Cruz to which Cruz Roja workers responded.

The agency also was involved with flooding in Nosara, Nandayure, Filadelfia and Santa Cruz.

The low pressure area that caused much of the problem was in the Pacific. It became a tropical depression, No.12 for the Pacific this year, and moved over southern México. It was reported to be weakening.

Team of eight bandits clean out two condo units in Jacó
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Eight robbers showed up at a Jacó condo complex early Wednesday, disarmed a guard and obtained entry into two units.

They cleaned out the condos.

The robbery happened about 12:50 a.m., said the Judicial Investigating Organization. All eight of the bandits, including the two women, wore gloves and ski masks, said agents, based on testimony from the guard.
The bandits forced the guard to open the doors to the condos. No one was home in either unit, agents said.

Judicial police are seeking information from persons who have been victims of similar robberies or burglaries. They said they suspect the robbers are foreigners.

In the Jacó heist, televisions, household appliances and similar were taken.

The crooks fled in two vehicles. The condo complex was not named.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 203

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

U.S. Congress approves
major free trade agreements

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Congress has approved free-trade agreements supporters say will boost U.S. exports by $13 billion annually.

The House of Representatives voted by a comfortable margin Wednesday in favor of the agreements with South Korea, Panamá and Colombia. The Senate also overwhelmingly approved the trade pacts.

All three were initially negotiated nearly five years ago, during the George W. Bush administration. They passed with bipartisan support, although some Democrats objected, citing human-rights concerns and fears American jobs could be lost overseas.

President Barack Obama said the bills are a major win for U.S. workers and businesses. He said they will boost exports, support good-paying jobs, and protect the environment, worker's rights, and intellectual property.

The agreements ran into Democratic opposition shortly after President Obama took office. His administration renegotiated the agreements after Democrats expressed concern about Colombia's history of violence against labor activists, and accusations of money laundering in Panamá. The South Korean agreement was held up by concerns about opening South Korea's automobile market to U.S. cars.

The agreement with South Korea is the largest U.S. trade deal since the 1995 North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

About half of quake rubble
reported cleared in Haiti

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Thousands of Haitians participating in a large-scale clean-up coordinated by the United Nations have removed more than 40 per cent of the 10 million cubic meters of rubble caused by last year’s earthquake.

“It’s been a colossal task,” said Jessica Faieta, Haiti’s senior country director for the U.N. Development Programme.

“For the past 20 months we’ve been working non-stop with the government of Haiti, civil society organizations, the international community, and especially with community members, in this epic-scale clean-up.”

The operation, one of the largest of its kind, involved Haitian citizens as well as nearly 50 in-country U.N. partners, who helped map all debris-related initiatives in affected areas. Homeowners and private enterprises have cleared an additional 10 percent of the rubble.

Ms. Faieta stressed that citizens’ participation was crucial for the operation.

“Community involvement is essential. Haitians have to be at the centre of reconstruction – and training and empowerment are crucial to their successful management of the earthquake recovery,” said Ms. Faieta.

So far, U.N. agencies have trained and hired more than 7,000 Haitians in the fields of manual and mechanical rubble removal, recycling, house repair skills, as well as electric wiring, carpentry and masonry.

“These debris removal initiatives are crucial for the reconstruction of Haiti,” said Nigel Fisher, U.N. humanitarian and resident coordinator.

“We are working towards the rehabilitation of neighborhoods and improvement of living conditions through access to basic services so Haitians can return home safely,” he said.

More than 80,000 buildings in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas collapsed after the 7.0-magnitude quake that hit the country Jan. 12, 2010, leaving amounts of debris equivalent to 4,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

It is estimated that 50 per cent of the rubble can be reused to repair roads, improve neighborhoods and rebuild houses. However, processing the debris has been a slow endeavor as many of the affected communities are located on hillsides, making it difficult to transport heavy machinery to the sites, which means a lot of the clearance has been done manually.

Moderate tourism increase
predicted through 2030

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The number of tourists traveling outside their countries is projected to reach 1.8 billion within two decades, with emerging economies responsible for the highest growth rates, according to a new report released by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, “Tourism Towards 2030,” confirms that international tourism will continue to grow, forecasting an average of 43 million additional people becoming international tourists every year. This figure, which corresponds to a 3.3 per cent annual increase, represents a more moderate growth pace in the industry than in previous years.

“The next 20 years will be of continued growth for the sector – a more moderate, responsible and inclusive growth,” said Taleb Rifai, who presented the report Tuesday at the organization’s General Assembly in Gyeongju in the Republic of Korea. He is the general secretary of the tourism agency.

“This growth offers immense possibilities as these can also be years of leadership, with tourism leading economic growth, social progress and environmental sustainability,” he said.

According to the report, arrivals will pass the one billion mark next year, and by 2030 five million people will be crossing international borders every day.

The report also reveals that emerging economies in Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa will have the most to gain from this increase as they are expected to grow at double the pace of advanced markets in North America and Europe.

By 2015, emerging economies will receive more international tourists than advanced economies, and by 2030 their share is expected to reach 58 per cent.

The report also forecasts that by 2030 northeast Asia will be the most visited region in the world, taking over from southern and Mediterranean Europe, and that most tourists will come from Asia and the Pacific, followed by European travelers.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 203

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Blackberry woes bring
report but few facts here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad has notified local users of Blackberry equipment about outages and delays in services in other parts of the world. But the telecom agency stopped short of saying there were problems here.

The company said it was in contact with Research in Motion, the operators of the Blackberry service.

The institute relayed a technical message from the provider, identified ad RIM:

“The messaging and browsing delays that some of you are still experiencing were caused by a core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure. Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested. As a result, a large backlog of data was generated and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to many of you and we will continue to keep you informed.”

Online sources said that the outage had spread to the United States.

TB reported to be down,
but campaign threatened

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization says the number of people worldwide getting tuberculosis declined last year for the first time, but experts warn this progress could be undone by cuts in funding, especially amid global economic turmoil.

Organization statistics published Tuesday show the number of people who became sick with the disease dropped to 8.8 million in 2010. The number of people who died last year from TB fell to 1.4 million.

The report says every region of the world except Africa appears to be on track for a 50 percent decline in tuberculosis deaths by 2015. Brazil and China have made especially dramatic progress over the past two decades. In China, the report says, TB deaths fell by 80 percent.

Margaret Chan, director general of the health agency, said strong leadership in many countries, coupled with domestic financing and foreign donor support, has begun to make a difference in the fight against tuberculosis.

Mario Raviglione, director of the organization's Stop TB Department, says the report shouldn't ease concerns about the disease.

"I am concerned that the momentum that has been created by these achievements may actually be lost," he said. "So that’s why we are calling for an increase in the intensity of tuberculosis control and research."

World Health Organization says about a third of the world's population is infected with TB bacteria, but only a relatively small percentage develops the disease. TB bacteria destroy lung tissue and can spread through the air when people cough. The agency says that overall the death rate from TB has dropped 40 percent since 1990.

Fire evicts 17 in Coronado

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fire fighters say that a blaze Wednesday afternoon in San Antonio de Coronado destroyed three small homes and left a fourth damaged. Some 15 adults and two children were left homeless as a result of the fire.

The cause appeared to be a wood cooking fire that got out of control, said the Cuerpo de Bomberos.

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