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(506) 2223-1327             Published Friday, Oct. 16, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 205          E-mail us
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Las Merecedes site in Limon Province
Museo Nacional photo
Excavation uncovered this wall at the Las Merecedes site in Limón province at EARTH University
Museum work runs from prehistory to 20th century
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite its size Costa Rica, has not been well explored archaeologically. Now important prehistorical sites are endangered by large-scale cultivation and rural activity.

The Museo Nacional has a handful of projects that are attempting to peel the onion of the country's past. Many times they raise more questions than give answers.

For example, the recent excavation of the Isla San Lucas in the Gulf of Nicoya presented some surprises. This is the prison island made famous in the book “La isla de los hombres solos,” written by ex-inmate José León Sánchez.

Costa Ricans confuse the novel with history, said historian Gabriela Villalobos during a discussion of archaeological themes at the museum Wednesday that was summarized by the staff. She was joined by Juan Vicente Guerrero and Julio César Sánchez, who have been doing work there. The government hopes to turn the abandoned prison into a tourist attraction.

One unearthed body was of a man who had bullet holes in his head. But near the body also were clothing buttons with the emblem of Costa Rica.

This suggests the man was a soldier or guard. The tale of what happened is still untold. In all 11 bodies were uncovered in what appears to be the prison cemetery.

The bodies also suggested life was not idyllic on the prison island. All showed signs of illnesses, bad teeth, infections and malnutrition, said the scientists.

Because of its location in the gulf, San Lucia is relatively intact, but that is not the case with all important locations.

In the site called La Sonia-1 near Pococí in Limón province, Maritza Gutiérrez, the archaeologist in charge of the project there, said that there is a real need to press forward with studies because of the damage the terrain has suffered from cultivation of banana and yuca.

The two sites there appear to date from 800 to 400 A.D. Scientists found two semi-circles of stone, 11,573 ceramic pieces, 45 stone pieces and 55 artifacts that appear to be from daily life.

The artifacts are in the form of various animals. Much has been written in English and Spanish on the ritual and magical uses of such figures.

One anthropomorphic figure decorates the cover of a museum expert's book on shamen. Some of the newer pieces might end up on book covers, too, because the museum plans to publish the results of some of its research next year.
jade pieces
Museo Nacional photo
Some of the small jade figures that have been recovered recently.

Another site that suffered damage is near San Isidro de El General in southern Costa Rica.

Adrián Badilla, the archaeologist in charge of the site, said that a prehistoric structure there had been run over by some kind of tractor. Museum officials filed a complaint.

The site is in the Diquis region and may have been connected with the early inhabitants who made those enigmatic stone balls that are a well-known aspect of Costa Rican prehistory. Researchers expect there are surprises under the ground. This site dates from a period called Aguas Buenas, some 300 to 800 years A.D., and there seems to show some cultural relationships with locations in Panamá, said the experts.

Another unusualite that was a topic of discussion at the museum was Reempujo at Garza de Nicoya. According to the museum's Juan Vicente Guerrero Miranda, researchers found two undisturbed burials of the 12 located.

It turns out that those buried here appeared to be warriors put in the ground with hatchets and other blunt force instruments. But there also were flutes, ocarinas and whistles in ceramic. Many were in the shape of animals.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 205

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typical costumes
Part of a flier put out by the Aserrí association

Big heads and giants
will gather in Aserrí

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tico version of Halloween is coming to Aserrí with what is promised to be a gigantic parade of mascaradas, gigantes and other typical costumed participants Nov. 1. The event, which was said to include persons from all over Central America and even Spain, follows by one day the Día de la Mascarada Tradicional Costarricense, which is enshrined in public decrees.

Nov. 1 is a Sunday and the organizer, the Asociación Cívico Cultural Aqueserrí, promises a parade of 350 of the paper-mâché costumes and cimarronas, the bands that accompany them.

The event is being financed by Proartes, which administers the Teatro Popular Melico Salazar, and the Colegio Universitario de Cartago.

The Aserrí event is being called the Encuentro Nacional e Internacional de Mascaradas y Gigantes. It is the first of this scale.

The parade begins at 9 a.m. at the Aserrí cemetery and heads to the community's Parque Central for more festivities. There will be food and art works for sale. The association sponsoring the event has been around since 2004 and also puts on a tamale festival.

Women's Club book sale
will be held Nov. 7 in Belén


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The best place in town for gently-used books, CD’s, DVD’s and current magazines will be found at the Pan-American School, San Antonio de Belén, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the Women’s Club of Costa Rica.

This super book sale offers tremendous bargains for all book lovers, but early birds are not invited that day, a Saturday, the club said.

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the long-standing education programs of the Women’s Club. 

"Weed through your shelves and cupboards," said the club. "we are accepting donations of books, DVD’s, CD’s, magazines in good condition and even monetory donations to make it the book sale event of the year.  Please call 2589-2037 or 2293-5118 for more information and convenient drop-off locations."

Directions to the Pan-American School are 300 meters south of El Rodeo Hotel & Restaurant, San Antonio de Belén. 
The Women’s Club of Costa Rica is a philanthropic organization supporting education, primarily through scholarships and development of school libraries for children in Costa Rica. Founded in 1940, it is one of the oldest, continuously operating service organizations in Costa Rica.   The club's English-speaking membership of 250 women of all ages represents 25 countries of the world.
 
Drawn together by the motto of Friendship through Service, they meet with guest speakers on the second Wednesday of each month.  Further information can be found at www.wccr.org

Under-20 game is today
for third place in world


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There will be little work done this morning. The Under-20 national soccer team plays Hungary for third place in the junior World Cup. The game is at 9 a.m., according to Channel 7 which will be broadcasting the game live.  At noon, the Brazilian team faces off against Ghana.

Costa Ricans still are depressed over the tie game the national team suffered in the United States Wednesday night. The tie cost them a berth in the World Cup in South Africa next year. Now the team will begin a two-game play off with Uruguay Nov. 14. Honduras got the nod because it beat El Salvador.

Ticos would love to welcome home the Under-20 team from Egypt after they won third place.

Criminal file vanishes
and investigation launched

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors in Heredia have launched an investigation to find out who took the file of a drug case from a criminal judge.

The case involves two persons with the names Campos Méndez and Morejón Gómez, who are facing possession and sale charges related to narcotics.

Someone swiped the file Wednesday, according to the Ministerio Público, the independent prosecutorial agency. The two suspects were supposed to have a preliminary hearing next week, but that depends on recovering the paperwork.

Court files are not open to the public in Costa Rica. Only principals, lawyers and their designates have access to the files as do judicial workers.

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Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 205

Washington insider tapped for ambassador's post here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The wife of a man who gave a key endorsement to Barack Obama has been rewarded with the post of ambassador to Costa Rica.

The new ambassador is Anne Slaughter Andrew, herself a Washington insider with strong regulatory legal experience. Her husband, Joseph, is a former Indiana state and national chairman of the Democratic party. Before the Indiana primary Andrew switched his allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Obama. A Washington source said that even though Mrs. Clinton won Indiana, she did so with a small margin making her vulnerable.

She is another of the politically connected who have received the post here. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have named political supporters as ambassador instead of State Department professionals.

The Andrews have two children who attended the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, according to an Internet posting that said both Andrew and his wife appeared there to speak to students to urge them to become involved in political campaigns. Mrs. Andrew was working on Mrs. Clinton's campaign at the time, the news posting by the school said. Mrs. Andrew will be a State Department employee. That agency is headed by Mrs. Clinton, the secretary of State.

The White House announced the appointment Thursday. Mrs. Andrew still has to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That usually is a technicality.

According to a biography released by the The White House, Mrs. Andrew currently is the principal of New Energy Nexus, LLC and advises companies and entrepreneurs on investments and strategies to capitalize on the new energy economy.

She served as counsel at Bingham McHale and as co-chairperson of the environment/energy team at Baker & Daniels, and also served as a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Patton & Boggs.
In addition, Mrs. Andrew co-founded with her husband a medical bio-tech consulting company, Anson Group LLC, and served as an owner and director from 2004 to 2007.

Mrs. Andrew has been actively engaged with conservation and environmental organizations, at the state and national level, including The Sierra Club and the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, said the White House.

She has worked with The Nature Conservancy since 1995, serving as an Indiana trustee, and as a member of the Conservancy's President's National Advisory Council. She also served as special counsel and director for the Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.

In her professional and community work, Mrs. Andrew is experienced in creating, building and managing public policy initiatives in the environmental and clean energy arena, said the White House.

She graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor of arts degree and received her juris doctorate from Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Indiana Law Review.

Her husband, an Indiana farmboy, attended Yale University and Yale Law School. He began a run for Indiana governor in 2003 but dropped out after Gov. Frank O'Bannon died in office and the lieutenant governor chose to run.

Andrew was Democratic national chairman during the Florida vote recount. He also has written a spy novel. There was no confirmation that he would come to Costa Rica with his wife to live.

Mrs. Andrew herself has written two books. One is "A Liberal Theory of International Law," written with others that is now out of print. She also wrote "The green carrot and a stick: what kind of environmental policy will Clinton and Bayh run?" which seems to be a magazine article that was put into book form. 

The Anson Group LLC says it is a minority-owned business enterprise without further explanation.


Sometimes truth can be found inside a little sock
Recently I was talking with a new acquaintance, and the conversation was once again about “What’s wrong with Ticos.” 

It is beginning to remind me of the first opinion piece  I wrote on the subject.  The title says it all: “Mussolini made the trains run on time . . . Yes, but.”  I am the one who keeps saying, “Yes, but . . . . ” 

We all seem to have a tendency to compare the best (often idealized) parts of the country we came from with what we encounter in our new home.  We quickly take for granted the things here that are a great improvement.  After all, that is why we came.  I remember, when living in Mallorca, comparing trips to the supermarket with having to go to different stores for different products, and having a number of options for bread versus only one type at the panaderia (although that bread was fresh every morning and delicious). I recalled it as being so much easier in the States.

Entering a supermarket the first time after returning home, I stood in front of the bread section and just about had a nervous breakdown trying to figure out what kind, brand, mixture of packaged bread I wanted from the huge selection. Back in Mallorca I would have been in and out of four stores, gotten some exercise and sun and talked to at least four people in the same time it took me to find the loaf of bread I thought would suit us. After that I always seemed one step behind getting re-enculturated to the U.S.

But, of course, most of the conversation about Costa Rica is about the people (as is usual among expats in any country).

And the complaints, it seems to me, are based upon one or two experiences.  One I have heard more than once is that “Ticos lie.”  They are not talking about Bernard Madoff type of lying. It is more personal.  The example is that a Tico says he is going to invite that person to his home, but never does. Another friend told me, “They invite you to lunch and give their post office box number as an address.”  Our mutual Tica friend confirmed this.  I think it is just a way of saying they like you.

As I have mentioned in other columns, this is a two-way street; Ticos have their opinions about Gringos.  I gave two, and now I have a third. It comes from Mr. G. who is bicultural (U.S. and Costa Rican) and has lived in Costa Rica for the past 20 years.  He says: 

“Many years ago Ticos used to think Gringos were people with a lot of money that they spent like crazy.  They also
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com


thought that they were not too smart, some were very nice and some had a superiority complex.  Another idea was that Gringos were too uptight and did not know how to dress, relax or have fun.

"Now Ticos know that many Gringos don´t have much money and come here because it´s cheaper to live, and those who do have money often don´t want to spend much.

“Ticos in general admire Gringos in that many are sincere, don´t generally barter prices, live in a country that supposedly has many opportunities to work and make money even without having an education.

“There are also a few who lean towards the leftist ideals and believe that everything about the U.S.A. is wrong.  These are usually a few young outsiders from public universities and some of the workers unions."

I like what reader Jeanita wrote, (it applies to any new country):

“Learning about the culture and dealing with the various customs, especially when you don't speak the language, is always an adventure, but it is also to be expected. We try to look at each little challenge as a new adventure in learning about the country we have come to love.       

I have a number of coffee makers.  A French one that you push down, an Italian espresso maker, (actually, two – one electric and one top of the stove), an American electric drip and a Tico sock in a colorful frame.  That last was a gift from a young Tico I helped with English conversation, and I kept it in the living room just as a decorative thing. 

After watching a recent hostess make coffee in a much bigger sock, I decided to try my own. 

I am now making my coffee using my little Tico sock coffee maker.  It is really much easier, saves money and tastes just fine. Having a new adventure in learning in this country is never-ending.



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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 205


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New plan would let turtles and people share Ostional

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The environmental ministry and lawmakers have an idea what to do with some 600 homeowners who are being evicted from the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional: Nothing.

Instead, they plan to change the refuge from one strongly in favor of nesting turtles to a mixed refuge where residents can continue to live.

The government is working under an edict from the Sala IV constitutional court to remove the residents. The Sala IV order does not apply to anyone who has been living on the site since before 1983 when the refuge was created.

The order also does not apply to those involved in research, protection of the local turtle nests, training or ecotourism, said the Poder Judicial last February when the decision was announced.
Thursday representatives of the Ministerio de Ambiente Energía y Telecomunicaciones appeared before the Comisión Especial de Ambiente, with an outline of the plan.

The idea is sure to raise the hackles of environmentalists.

Under the current ruling families have until Jan. 10 to get out. The situation is a test of the administration's peace with nature program.

Maureen Ballestero Vargas, a lawmaker, has presented a bill that would change the use of the refuge and allow residents to have legal rights to their homes. 

The ministry already considers the refuge a place of mixed use, but the the Sala IV did not buy that interpretation.

Jorge Rodriguez, the environmental minister, spoke of the social and environmental cost of the dislocation.



U.S. gives strong support to arms transfer pact of Arias

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United States came out strongly Thursday for an international transfer of arms treaty that is the brainchild of President Óscar Arias Sánchez.

"Conventional arms transfers are a crucial national security concern for the United States, and we have always supported effective action to control the international transfer of arms," said the State Department release.

"The United States is prepared to work hard for a strong international standard in this area by seizing the opportunity presented by the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty at the United Nations. As long as that conference operates under the rule of consensus decision-making needed to ensure that all countries can be held to standards that will actually improve the global situation by denying arms to those who would abuse them, the United States will actively support the negotiations. Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.

Casa Presidencial was so pleased with the development that it translated the State Department release and sent it out under the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. secretary of State. The Arias plan would not forbid the sale or transfer of weapons but it would provide for clear identification and an annual summary to say what has been shipped where.
The United States government is not expressing concerns about the illegal shipment of arms into México where drug gangs are confronting the military. However, México drug gangs also use weapons like rocket launchers that are not easily available in the United States.

The United Sates also is concerned with weapon transfers to leftist and right-wing terrorists in Colombia

"On a national basis, the United States has in place an extensive and rigorous system of controls that most agree is the gold standard of export controls for arms transfers," said the U.S. statement.

"On a bilateral basis, the United States regularly engages other states to raise their standards and to prohibit the transfer or transshipment of capabilities to rogue states, terrorist groups, and groups seeking to unsettle regions.

"Multilaterally, we have consistently supported high international standards, and the arms trade treaty initiative presents us with the opportunity to promote the same high standards for the entire international community that the United States and other responsible arms exporters already have in place to ensure that weaponry is transferred for legitimate purposes.

"The United States is committed to actively pursuing a strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards for the international transfer of conventional weapons."


   
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 205

Casa Alfi Hotel

U.N. Security Council gets
five national replacements

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria were elected Thursday to non-permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council. They will serve two-year terms starting Jan. 1 and will participate in decisions ranging from deploying U.N. peacekeepers to imposing sanctions.

Brazil will replace Costa Rica.

This year's vote lacked the suspense of some previous elections, because all five candidates were unopposed and succeeded in getting the two-thirds majority required in the first round of secret ballots.

Ten of the council's 15-seats are filled by regional representatives for two-year terms. The other five seats are permanent ones held by veto-wielding members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

British Ambassador John Sawers said the additions to the council will make it even stronger.

"We have two large countries in Brazil and Nigeria who carry the weight of being a regional power," he said. "We have two countries in Lebanon and Bosnia who have been through conflict and can bring their own national experiences to the Security Council."

Lebanon and Bosnia and Herzegovina, are in the unusual position of also being on the council's agenda.

Bosnia is a multiethnic country still recovering from the war that accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia. It has experienced internal divisions and rising tensions in the past year, as major political parties struggle to agree on a basic political structure.

Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj said the current political crisis would not adversely impact its role on the council or prevent it from taking common positions.

"The situation in Bosnia is going to be stable, it is now stable. What is happening now is some political crisis that happens elsewhere in world," he said.

Lebanon has one of the largest U.N. peacekeeping forces in the south of its country. It is also the subject of a U.N.-backed tribunal which is considering indictments in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Internal divisions have prevented the formation of a new government following June elections.

One council diplomat said Lebanon could prove to be something of a wild card on Middle East issues, particularly Iran's nuclear ambitions. He noted that if the Iranian dossier comes back to the council for possible sanctions, Lebanon, which will likely have members of Iranian-backed Hezbollah's political wing in its next government, could have a conflict of interest and choose to abstain from voting.

Meanwhile, Brazil joins the council for the 10th time. It is a founding member of the United Nations and was part of the first group elected to the Security Council in 1946.

Nigeria has served three times before. Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe said his country would work to prevent crises and conflicts, deal with human rights issues and generally promote international solidarity.

"We intend that working with all the other members of the U.N. Security Council," he said. "Our preventive diplomacy will be central to our approach to a lot of issues."

Nominations for non-permanent seats are not required, countries simply announce their intention to run. Consideration is given to an equitable geographical distribution and a candidate's contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 205


Latin American news
Colombian radio director
flees as terrorists close in

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Inter American Press Association said that Colombian journalist Herbin Hoyos left his country for the sixth time since 1998 because of threats on his life and called on authorities to safeguard freedom of expression amid acts of violence.

According to information from military intelligence, there is a plot by the left-wing guerrilla movement the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, known as FARC, to murder Hoyos, director of the program “Las voces del secuestro,” "The Voices of Abduction." The show is broadcast by Caracol radio station. For the last 15 years Caracol has given air space to the families of Colombian guerrilla kidnap victims to send messages to their loved ones in captivity.

The chairman of the Association's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, expressed his solidarity with Hoyos, declaring that “Just as military authorities were able to uncover this terrible plot, it is important that we journalists and news media maintain a common front, without censorship, to confront those who resort to violence with our weapons – words.”

In a conversation with the association's Rapid Response Unit in Colombia, Hoyos, 39, stated that for two months. and again on Oct. 8, Army Intelligence informed him that the death threat likely came down from one of the FARC heads known as Fabián Ramírez and that the plan would be carried out that day by hired killers during a public ceremony Hoyos was to conduct promoting a demonstration in Europe calling for the release of kidnap victims in Colombia.

Upon being alerted that day, Hoyos managed to escape on a motorcycle just as the armored van transporting his bodyguards was hit by another vehicle that blocked its path. According to authorities, the apparent accident was probably part of the plan to kill Hoyos, who insisted that he would continue broadcasting his radio program from abroad.  





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