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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 205                          Email us
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A Chilean group in native costumes joined with Arabian and Gypsy dancers as well as a Russian singer.


Chilean dance group
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Foreigners here display the best of their cultures
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In Guatemalan villages, people still can be seen wearing traditional dress.  Native Lidia Pérez was one such person and spent her days in her home country weaving all the things needed for personal life. 

Eight years ago, she left her place of birth and moved to Costa Rica.  Here she learned that she could not just make her own clothes but share her style with others. 

Today Ms. Pérez has a business in her Atenas home where she sells handmade jewelry, clothes, bags and tapestry in the technique of her country.  Depending on the complexity, some of the items take up to two months to make.  Yet, it’s a joy to give a piece of her culture to others, she said.

Ms. Pérez is one of the many people that came together for Dia de las Culturas festival Sunday. Culture day is Oct. 12 in Costa Rica. The day was designed to recognize the different races and cultural influences in the country. 

The Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería held an event in their facility Friday, while the Minesterio de Cultura y Juventud hosted another Sunday.
Ms. Perez at her loom
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Ms. Perez at her loom


People from Russia, China, Nicaragua, Chile, Korea, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic maintained booths in the two locations. 

They also shared samples of foods from their cultures and gave presentations of special dance.

Each person commented on how important it is to have a cultural voice and by sharing different lifestyles, everyone can understand and learn to appreciate each other.


Weekend drug busts highlight the continuing trend
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although Costa Rican officials frequently attribute the drug trade to the demand in the United States and Europe, there is a well-established drug market in Costa Rica. Part of the reason is that smugglers frequently pay for their fuel and other needs with cocaine.

In addition, there is a growing trend toward imported, high potency marijuana that is replacing the locally grown product.

The big haul of the weekend is a stash of 119 packages of cocaine that turned up in a container on the Limón docks. This was the most colorful recent discovery of drugs. The kilo packages were wrapped in different colors of plastic.

The Policía de Control de Drogas did not specify the origin of the container. Typically the shipping containers are breached en route when they pass through a Colombian port and end up coming through Costa Rica on the way to the United States or Europe.

Clearly this shipment was not for local consumption, but other arrests highlighted local drug use.

Other agents of the Policía de Control de Drogas stopped a 15 year old in San José over the weekend because he had nine kilos of chopped marijuana in his possession. A little while later, a 14 year old was detained in a separate case in Limón along with two brothers as suspected vendors of marijuana.

In another weekend case, Fuerza Pública officers in Turrubares detained two persons on a motorcycle as suspected vendors of crack cocaine at a road checkpoint. There were 100 doses of crack, officers said.

Such activity is not confined to the Central Valley. Judicial agents in Guanacaste detained a man in Bagaces and said he appeared to have a sales route that included a local bar. The Judicial Investigating Organization said the investigation lasted two years. Agents confiscated 139 crack rocks wrapped in aluminum.
Coloful
                        drugs
Policía de Control de Drogas photo
These colorful packages were in a container.

crack
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía 
y Seguridad Pública.
These crack rocks came from Guanacaste.

The weekend was typical with one or two drug arrests. Both the Policía de Control de Drogas and drug agents at the Judicial Investigating Organization routinely make arrests every week.

Most are not reported in the news media because they are small operations.

Usually in order for law enforcement officials to tout a particular arrest, the case has to deal with a substantial network or the involvement of police officers. Such cases happen several times a month.

The Central American drug situation continues to be wrapped up in local politics. President Laura Chinchilla would like a U.N. sponsored discussion on decriminalizing marijuana. 

And she seeks compensation from drug destination countries for the impact on Costa Rica.

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Our reader's opinions
Difference in abortion views
overlooked in this campaign


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

One critical point that isn't getting the coverage it deserves in the presidential campaign, and that Democrats seem to be either unwilling or unable to emphasize, is the difference between their views on reproductive rights and those of the Republicans. For me, the bottom line is that it would be evangelicals who'd be driving the nation's policy on a woman's right to biological self determination from behind the scenes of a Romney administration. Evangelicals believe that their opinions and principles are informed by God's will and that any compromise would constitute a heretical rejection of same.

What Americans aren't hearing often enough is that evangelicals and people like Ryan and Romney all believe in "personhood." They believe that an egg becomes a person at the moment of fertilization, that it has the same (or more) constitutional rights as the woman in whose womb it resides and that from the micro second after fertilization, the government has the sacred duty to oversee a woman's pregnancy with an Orwellian authoritarianism that should be frightening to all.

This completely eliminates the concept of personal control over the womb, even in the case of young girls impregnated by rape or incest, and even if the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Romney claims to be more moderate, but he has been on record for years as saying he wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade and that he supports personhood legislation at the state level. This has been the national, anti-choice evangelical strategy for 40 years in the U.S.: kill Roe v Wade and pass personhood laws state by state until all abortions are criminal acts under any/all circumstances, everywhere in America.

I understand that our economy is foremost in the minds of most, and that we're at war. But this open assault on reproductive rights by the Republican party and the religious right should be of equal concern to everybody, because if it succeeds, it will create a sea change in the concepts of constitutional rights and the separation of church and state in America. The fact that the total elimination of a woman's reproductive rights is enshrined in the platform of the "party of less government," is ironic in the extreme.

Dean Barbour
Manuel Antonio

Romney would give away
the kitchen sink to wealthy


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
Obama deserves another term. While our government is rigged to transfer our nation's wealth upwards, Romney wants to give away the kitchen sink. Giant banks are still too big to fail. Our U.S. government is still online for the next bailout. Romney says let the banking industry regulate itself. National elections are now flooded with money from super pacs that allow the money contributors to easily be hid from public view. Romney agrees corporations are people and their money is a form of free speech. Obama wants to do something about the 5-4 Supreme Court "Citizens United" decision that invalidated our former campaign finance laws in the name of free speech. It is the Republicans who are blocking efforts to address this absurd situation.
 
Romney recently generalized Obama supporters as dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims and untitled.  Why not stand up to the wealthy who are dependent upon U.S. government funds?  The top 10 military contractors whose profits come mostly from U.S. tax dollars are the biggest drain.  Why is this industry allowed to use U.S. tax dollars to lobby for more of the same?  That industry is rampant with fraud, brutal on whistleblowers, and has had millions of dollars disappear without accountability. Romney says give them more.  At lease Obama wants to bring the troops back home.
 
William A. Self
Redwood Valley, California
Montezuma de Cobano


EDITOR'S NOTE: These letters conclude political statements by readers. The U.S. presidential election is just four weeks away, and many expats already have voted. Those who have not will do so shortly. So further discussion is not relevant.


 
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, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 205
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street scene
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
As with much of Latin America, the street is the local viewing and meeting place.
Tourist mecca of Grenada hides a daily battle to survive
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On the old streets of Granada, Nicaragua, adults sit on their front porch stoops in rocking chairs while kids play fútbol in the road under a street lamp.

These families live separately, yet together when necessary.  They lean on each other to endure hardships.

“Everyday is a fight,” they say.  This fight is one of survival.

While tourists flock in to enjoy savory dishes such as guapote, a rainbow bass served with a tomato salsa, or vigoron, a Grenada original of yucca topped with fried pork skins and cabbage salad, locals have a different experience.

One resident, Allan Blandón Sánchez, who introduces himself as 200 percent Nicaraguan, explains that a regular dinner at the house is a helping of gallo pinto, a dish which mixes rice and beans together.  Somedays there is chicken to accompany the sides, but otherwise its just the two starches.

His family was raised by his mom, Betty Sánchez Hernández.  She was married to a wealthy man who treated her badly, said Blandón.

Since his father left, Blandón has assumed the responsibility of head of the household hustling in the streets to make enough money for the family.  The path first pushed him to a route of destruction.  He was gang leader in his neighborhood, and even served time in prison for drugs.

“That was my old life,” he said. “I don't do that anymore.”

Now he calls himself “the fixer,” available to make things happen for those who need it, especially tourists who want to experience the culture. Blandón serves as their personal guide.

The young man's alliance lies strictly with his family.  He has the utmost respect for the mother, and has made it his mission to take care of her and not let her witness any wrongdoing. 

“I don't care what you do, just don't make her cry,” he lectures his younger brother, Kenneth, in a low hushed tone when he caught him drinking a beer.

Also living in the house are the grandparents. The grandmother has Alzheimer's, and the only person she can remember is Blandón. 

“She doesn't know anyone else, but she knows if I'm home or if I'm not home or if I come back high, drunk or whatever.  She's the boss,” Blandón said.

According to Blandón, his house dynamic is not an uncommon story for the community,  

 Nicaragua is Latin America's second poorest country, with an overall poverty level of 45 percent, according to a report produced by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Seventeen percent of rural households are managed by women alone and 43 percent of the population reside in rural areas.   In the country, these rural areas also house the majority of the poor population, the report says.

To add to this, 15.8 percent of the population lives with less than $1.25 a day, according to the U. N. Development Programme.

Blandón commented that the average monthly income in his neighborhood is $300 a month, mostly which goes toward rent and utilities. 

When asked what were typical jobs for the city, the two Blandón brothers respond in unison, “Whatever you can.”

Jobs are limited in the country. Most family incomes come from working as street sellers or laborers.  Sitting in the park of Granada, one will be approached by multiple people selling handmade souvenirs.

“It's my work, always,” said street vendor Lidia as she showed pottery vases.

Children are not exempt.  The country mandates that every Nicaraguan spend at least six years in school.  Despite this law, many children walk the streets barefooted selling origami made of corn husks. They ask to finish leftovers of tourists in the park and beg for coins with sad looks and phrases such as, “Amigo, tengo hambre,” which translates to "Friend, I am hungry."


Mr. Blandon
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Allan Blandón Sánchez

fisherman
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Subsistence fishing means no fish, no supper

Ms. Sanchez
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Betty Sánchez Hernández in her kitchen

To many, tourism may be the answer to the problem.  Nicaragua is slowly developing as foreigners continue to visit and create properties.  Many tourists complain about the influx of business, with the claim that that they like Nicaragua more than Costa Rica because of its underdevelopment.

However, the locals see the positive of the change.

“We like people coming here because it brings in money.  For example, people buy the islands and hire Nicaraguans to live in and run the houses.  It's good for us,” said Alberto, a tour guide of the Isletas de Granada, when this idea was raised.

“I just hope that it doesn't get like Costa Rica, and stays beautiful,” he said.

Still the people of Nicaragua recognize the benefits of a simple life and don't look for too much luxury.

“In America you work to buy things and you have so much but also debt.  Here you work hard for the day, but you can sleep because it's done.  Everyday is a new day.  You don't owe anyone anything,” said Blandón.

Although there are many illegal things to earn money, Blandón said he is not willing to compromise his beliefs and uses his family to keep him grounded.

“I won't give up my morals, no matter how much money,” said Blandón. “I have the love of my family, nothing else matters.”

“You think I'm happy,” he asked with a smile.  Then answered his own question with a nod and smile.
tourists
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Tourists are insulated from the daily battle to survive and can spend their afternoons in restaurants like this.

Del Rey Halloween two

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 205
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Bikers set off for their trip from the beach into the Talamanca mountains.

bike
              race
A.M. Costa Rica/Connie Foss
Talamanca racers share road with long-weekend tourists
By Connie Foss
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Residents on humble bikes rusty from sea breezes shared the road Sunday with better equipped racers and numerous buses and vehicles carrying tourists visiting Puerto Viejo for the long weekend.

The 100th race in the nine years of the Mountain Biking Association began at 9 a.m. at Mercantile El Chino, the oldest building in Puerto Viejo, located right on the waterfront. Participants traveled either the full 74 kilometers or a short 35-kilometer race.
Bikers left El Chino and traveled through Cocles to Margarita Road and from there to Bribrí, Bambú, Suretka, Bratsi, Uatsi, Volio and Hone Creek, returning to the starting line.  Puerto Viejo and area beaches were packed with tourists for the long weekend.

William Camancho took first place for the 35-kilometer short race. Camancho, a resident of Cartago, said this is his 11th year of mountain bike racing. He sometimes wins, he said. The Talamanca race was good, because the road was level, but the section through mountainous terrain in Bribri was "a little hard," he said.


No significant damage reported as a result of Friday's quake
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national emergency commission said that a Friday afternoon earthquake caused little damage except the falling of some objects.

The quake was in the Pacific west of Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio and took place at 1:24 p.m. A.M. Costa Rica reported the event a short time later in an update.

The Red Sismológica Nacional estimated the magnitude at 5.1. The Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica said 5.0. Both are at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico  at Universidad Nacional in Heredia said 5.3.
The differences are a result of the various methods the agencies have of keeping track of quakes and the location of their sensors.

The national emergency said the local Comité Municipal de Emergencia de Parrita conducted an evaluation of buildings there to make sure there was no damage.

The Caja Costarricense de Seguros Social evacuated its facilities when the tremor was felt. That is standard procedure.

Normal operations resumed as soon as officials determined that there was not damage to structures.

Residents are sensitive to earthquakes in the wake of a 7.6 quake off Sámara Sept. 5


Mixing of old and new magma appears to be a volcano trigger
By the University of Southampton news service

Scientists from the University of Southampton have identified a repeating trigger for the largest explosive volcanic eruptions.

The Las Cañadas volcanic caldera on Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, has generated at least eight major eruptions during the last 700,000 years. These catastrophic events have resulted in eruption columns of over 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) high and expelled widespread pyroclastic material over a wide area. By comparison, even the smallest of these eruptions expelled over 25 times more material than the 2010 eruption in Iceland that caused a halt to European air flights.

By analyzing igneous rocks formed by the accumulation of crystals in magma in pyroclastic deposits of major eruptions, the scientists found that pre-eruptive mixing within the magma chamber where older cooler magma mixed with younger hotter magma appears to be the repeating trigger in large-scale eruptions.
Rock nodules trapped and preserved the magma beneath the volcano immediately before eruption. Rex Taylor, senior lecturer at the university, investigated nodules and their trapped magma to see what caused the eruptions.

He found that the nodules provide a record of the changes occurring in the magma plumbing right through to the moment the volcano erupted.

Taylor said: “These nodules are special because they were ripped from the magma chamber before becoming completely solid. They were mushy, like balls of coarse wet sand. Rims of crystals in the nodules grew from a very different magma, indicating a major mixing event occurred immediately before eruption. Stirring young hot magma into older, cooler magma appears to be a common event before these explosive eruptions.”

The paper is published in the latest issue of the open access journal Scientific Reports.

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Panetta talks tough on plans
to counter cyber attacks


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has revealed some details of U.S. plans to deal with a massive cyber attack. Those plans include launching a possible cyber offensive in what some analysts say is a message to Iran.
 
With thousands of enemies probing the Pentagon’s systems millions of times a day, the secretary of defense has spoken about the threat of a massive cyber attack before. But his warnings late last week in New York have been the strongest yet.
 
“This is a pre-9/11 moment. The attackers are plotting,” said Panetta.
 
Panetta said it is no secret that Russia and China have advanced cyber capabilities, and he said Iran has also undertaken concerted efforts to use cyberspace to its advantage.
 
U.S. officials have blamed Iran for a massive cyberattack two months ago on systems at the Saudi company Aramco and a natural gas company in Qatar. The assault, known as Shamoon, infected 30,000 computers.
 
In his remarks Thursday, Panetta did not link Iran to the Shamoon attacks, which he said mark a significant escalation of the cyber threat and even more destructive scenarios that could unfold. Among these: train derailments, the shutdown of power grids, and the contamination of water supplies.
 
He said the United States has taken steps to be ready for a strike on U.S. installations.  He said the Pentagon would in some instances not wait for an attack before it launches an offensive.
 
“If we detect an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant, physical destruction in the United States or kill American citizens, we need to have the option to take action against those who would attack us to defend this nation when directed by the president,” said Panetta.
 
Panetta said the U.S. military has pumped $3 billion into cyber security efforts that include the recruitment of an army of cyber-warriors to fight off attacks.
 

China's exports reported up
as trade deficits widen


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

China’s exports increased more than expected in September, contributing to a widening trade surplus with the rest of the world.

Figures released by the government Saturday showed exports up 9.9 percent from a year earlier, despite economic problems in Europe and the United States.

China says its imports rose 2.4 percent in September, an improvement from August when imports shrank from the previous month.

The government says the trade surplus in the world’s second largest economy was $27.7 billion in September.

However, analysts say the outlook for China’s trade remains uncertain because of the continued debt crisis in Europe and the slow economic recovery in the United States.

The U.S. government announced Friday that its deficit for the 2012 budget year that ended September 30 topped $1 trillion for the fourth straight year, although tax revenues were up 6.4 percent because of stronger growth.

The big question for the U.S. economy is whether the Obama administration and Congress can resolve a deadlock over the budget that threaten to erase recent gains in the economy.


Cuban Soccer players
in Canada are AWOL


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Several members of the Cuban men’s soccer team visiting Canada left the group before their World Cup qualifying match Friday.
 
The Cuban team arrived in Toronto with 15 players, but only 11 made it to the match.

Cuban coach Alexander González said four players left the team.  He said one of them was sick.

González said the situation was not unusual for Cuban athletes who travel around the world.  He said they are all chasing the American dream.

He said it was difficult to keep the team together and it was tough for him to talk about it.

Canada dressed 10 substitutes for Friday’s game.  Cuba’s bench was empty except for the coaches. Canada defeated Cuba 3-0.

Meanwhile off the coast of México, a search was underway for 11 Cuban refugees who disappeared after their raft sank.

Mexican authorities say at least two other refugees drowned when their homemade raft went down near Cancún Friday.

Survivors told authorities that 23 people were on board.

In recent years, the Cancún region has become an increasingly popular stopping point for refugees. Many are trying to make their way to the United States.
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Latin America news
Three women from Nepal
turn up in central Pacific


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police detained a man and four Nepalese women Friday in Palmar, Puntarenas, on suspicion that the man trafficked the women to Costa Rica, according to a police announcement.

The report said that police had only planned to investigate the man for failing to obey a stop signal at a checkpoint, but found him transporting the women as they observed his house.

Police said that the women could not produce any papers indicating their immigration status.

Police observed the man’s vehicle evading a checkpoint early Friday morning, and they put out an alert on the vehicle, according to the announcement.

According to the report, the women could not understand police officers’ questions and did not have any papers that indicated their legal status.


Three men held as suspects
in separate robbery cases

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators Friday arrested three men suspected of robbing pedestrians in downtown San José, according to a bulletin from the Judicial Investigation Organization.

The men all happened to be arrested on the same day even though the announcement says that agents do not suspect them of working together.

Robbers just happened to also use the same strategy of threatening victims with knives, said agents.

The men three men are 22, 23 and 38 years of age, according to the report. Police arrested the 22-year-old in Hatillo, and they arrested the other two in downtown San José, says the bulletin.


Auction planned for firm

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Heritage Global Partners, an auction service, has announced an online auction featuring a wide array of plastic and thermoforming manufacturing equipment from Conair Babyliss Costa Rica S.A. The sale is being conducted on behalf of Conair Corp., a developer of health and beauty products and kitchen and electronic appliances. Conair Babyliss Costa Rica S.A. is the Appliance Manufacturing Division responsible for supervising worldwide production of Conair products.

The auction will be conducted online Nov. 14 beginning at 7 a.m. and ending the next day at 9 a.m., both Pacific time. The auction involves seven plastic mills, 33 injection mold machines and 36 spot welders.

The location is in the Parque Industrial Zona Franca in Cartago.












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