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(506) 2223-1327                        Published  Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 209                          Email us
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Jo Stuart
 

Mar Vista



A.M. Costa Rica casts its vote for Mitt Romney
There is no surprise that A.M. Costa Rica is endorsing Mitt Romney for president of the United States.

Four years ago the newspaper endorsed John McCain and said that Barack Obama would be a great used car salesman. We have seen no reason to change our mind. In fact, we have seen many events that validate our assessment of four years ago.

Clearly this endorsement will not move many minds, if any. Of all the recent U.S. presidential elections, this one finds the most divided and unmovable electorate. Although they will not all say so, most persons already have made up their minds.

Yet, we believe that a newspaper has the obligation to speak out on pressing public issues. This is the most pressing of all because the future of the United States hangs in the balance.

We can dismiss much of the accusations that fly on the Internet about the president. But there are some issues we cannot dismiss. Deep down we believe that Barack Obama holds contempt for the United States of America. We believe he sees the country as a larger version of the Chicago political playground where might makes right.

One area of high concern involved his acceptance of the 2009 Nobel Prize for Peace. The Norwegian prize committee said it was for his efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. Of course he did not deserve it, and even the parliamentary committee members admitted they gave the award in anticipation of what Obama would do, not what he had done.


Mitt
Romney

Romney

A gentleman would have declined the Peace Prize and told the committee to evaluate his work later. A narcissist would accept the prize. A narcissist short on honor.

In contrast, Mitt Romney is a businessman who basically is being criticized for his success. A businessman is what the United States needs now as it totters toward insolvency. This is a man who saved the 2002 Winter Olympics. This is a man who was a successful governor of Massachusetts.

In any scorecard of accomplishments, Romney ranks far higher than Obama, who, despite two books, has done very little.

We also would remind readers that the presidency is only one important institution on the line. The United States needs members of Congress who read bills before voting and acts in the best interest of the public and not in the best interest of themselves.

Readers had several months to express preference in the U.S. elections. Only a few did. The issue is now closed, and we await the evening of Nov. 6.



Young Tica from San José to have role in final debate
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As millions of people fix their eyes on their television sets and perk their ears to analyze President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney debating views on foreign policy, San
Miss Murillo
Jennifer Murillo Vargas
José native Jennifer Murillo Vargas will get to participate from her Florida university.

“Who else can say I was at the university during this historical event?” she boasted.

Ms. Murillo graduated from Lincoln School in May 2011.  It was around this same time she was accepted to Lynn
University in Florida, the site of the final debate. She received a scholarship. 

This achievement jump-started her multimedia journalism career, and Monday will take the San José native to the center of the final U. S. presidential debate between the two candidates.  She will serve as a student volunteer for the university media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and also report for Beyond the Brief, a YouTube news show.

Being an international student is not an easy feat, Ms. Murillo acknowledged.  Cultural differences and different belief systems make the immersion initially hard to get through.

“The hardest thing to adapt to was the way people treat each other,” she said about her experience in the United States.  “In Costa Rica, I was used to pura vida. Everyone talks to each other,  kiss kiss.  So shaking hands was different.”
She credits her school in Heredia for helping her make the transition, and also the support of her parents Jamie Murillo and Connie Vargas for understanding her need to make a sacrifice to achieve her dreams.   However, even with the distance she still maintains a connection with them, she said.

“My mom still wakes me up in the morning,” she said.  “We talk at night to say our prayers together.”

Ms. Murillo encourages students to not be afraid to step out of their comfort zones and said someone who really wants to study abroad should look up information on different schools and scholarships, and keep up their grades.  The experience will be worth it.

“Definitely the education is a whole lot different and you will get a different worldview,” she said. 

“If you stay in Costa Rica, you are most likely to be classmates with others Costa Ricans.  You don't get the viewpoints of others outside the country,” she added.

After graduating, Ms. Murrilo has ambitions to pursue a master's degree in broadcast journalism and experience the world through as a reporter. Her passion is to work for a television show, something she has already done in her home country through a seven-year job with Saturday children's show RG Elementos on Teletica 7.

Although the Costa Rican citizen cannot vote, she says she is interested to hear how the candidates will deal with war and about money being put into the weapon trade.

She also noted that the United States has an influence in Latin America, and a better economy there would mean a better economy in her home country.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 209
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Tattoo shop offers services
to help fight breast cancer

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In honor of Día Internacional de la Lucha Contra el Cáncer de Mama today, professional tattoo artists at Sailor's Grave Tattoo in Heredia will donate their time providing tattoos for both men and women in order to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer.

The artists will tattoo a small pink breast cancer ribbon on patrons for a 5,000 colons donation.  The tattoos are normally 30,000 colons.

The pink ribbon is a universal icon of struggle and hope to eliminate the breast cancer.

All funds collected will be delivered to the Fundación Nacional de Solidaridad contra el Cáncer de Mama.  According to the foundation, more than 300 women died this year in Costa Rica as a result of breast cancer.

The operating costs as well as clinical supplements required to perform a professional tattoo will be paid for by the tattoo parlor.

Tattooing will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the studio located in Heredia 200 meters west of the main entrance to Universidad Nacional.

Maria Luisa Avila, former minister of health and infection specialist, will participate as an observer of the campaign to ensure that all health standards are met, a release said.


More tourism operators
object to colegio plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two more persons have appeared before a legislative committee to object to plans for a formal colegio for tourism workers.

They are Flor de Liz Rojas Santamaría and Emilia Fernández, both of the Cámara de Empresarios de la Micro y Pequeña Empresa Turística. Their basic objection was that many of the workers in tourism do not have university degrees that the proposed legislation requires.

The measure, No. 18.390, is being considered by the Comisión Permanente Especial de Turismo. The bill seeks to enroll those working in tourism into a legally established colegio similar to those to which physicians, dentists an lawyers belong. Membership would be required to work in the tourism field, according to the current text of the bill.


Cruz Roja cleans wells
to benefit Limón residents


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As of Monday, the Cruz Roja has cleaned 1,211 water wells in Limón.  This work is a result of the organization's project called Limpieza de Pozos.

By cleaning these wells, the Red Cross has improved the quality of water for 1,200 families and more than 5000 people, the agency said.   The benefit will be a system of potable water satisfactory for basic needs and food consumption, a release said.

Most of the families helped are economically disadvantaged and have limited resources.  The families included children, elderly, and disabled persons.  These persons are most at risk for the effects of drinking water that is not potable, spokespersons said.

Also, flood victims in the area were given 1,000 kits with kitchen utensils and hygiene items as well as 16 liter water drums.

Thirty volunteers helped the Red Cross with this effort in Limón. 

 
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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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday Oct. 19, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 209
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Expat communities largely spared problems from heavy rains
By Aaron Knapp
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

While residents in Pacific expat communities say they have been drenched, most report that they have not faced flooding by this week's storm.

Heavy rains over multiple days have caused floods, landslides, road closures and evacuations in communities north of the Nicoya peninsula in Guanacaste and in the Osa Peninsula in southern Puntarenas province.

“If it does this for a couple days, they'll probably have to evacuate people,” said Carlos Yaniz, who owns a real estate company in the Pacific coast town of Nosara in Guanacaste.

While most of the country has stayed comparatively dry, storms drenched the northern and southern Pacific coast areas for hours Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The downpours along the Pacific coast are the result of a low pressure system in the Caribbean, according to a bulletin from the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. The bulletin estimates that some areas have been hit by two to four inches of rain.

Reports from the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias indicate that the most badly affected areas were inland communities.

An update from the commission said that mismanagement of garbage in theses areas likely exacerbated the floods by blocking runoff channels.

The commission reported that 34 communities in the canton of Santa Cruz were being flooded by nearby rivers. At least 198 houses were flooded and 495 people were in shelters, according to the report.

Police officials in Santa Cruz also reported that several bridges had been closed in the area because river levels had grown higher than the bridge decks. Additionally, police reported that two buses slid off the roadways, but no one was injured in the incidents.

Expats tend to occupy the coastal towns where they own hotels, real estate brokerages and other tourism related businesses. Residents in these areas reported that rains have been heavy, but so far there have been no damages.
“The last few days it's been really dumping,” said Shawn Maricle, who is a tour operator and condo manager in Tamarindo.

He has a rain gauge at his home. He said that the gauge collected about five inches per day Wednesday and Thursday. He added that there have been landslides, but so far there have been no damages. A resident with a rain gauge in Nosara reported 9.6 inches fell Wednesday.

However, the meteorological institute reported less than half of an inch of rain on Wednesday and barely more than half of an inch Thursday in Santa Rosa, just west of Tamarindo. Some of the reporting stations in Guanacaste's most heavily hit areas were out of service Thursday.

Residents in Sámara and Montezuma reported that their towns had also been rained on heavily, but largely spared the flooding of inland towns near rivers.

The commission also said that the rains were heavy and causing floods near the Osa Peninsula.

Tania Harrison, a resident of Puerto Jiménez on the Osa Peninsula, said that rains have also been relentless there but that she had not heard of any damages.  She explained that the area also has rivers that can get very high, but she has not seen damages or overflowing rivers.

“It's just been 24 hours of steady rain,” said Ms. Harrison. “The rivers weren't that high.”

The meteorological institute expects the rain to continue and become stronger Friday according to a forecast published Thursday. The forecast says that some areas on the Pacific coast can expect up to four more inches today.

The emergency commission said that in Guanacaste the Ríos  Diriá, Seco and Cañas had flooded Filadelfia in Carrillo, Santa Cecilia, El Guabo, 27 de Abril and La Garúa in Santa Cruz. The Río Andamojo caused flooding in Lagarto, Marbella, Venado, Ostional and San Juanillo.

The Cantón de Osa flooding rivers were the Claro, Caracol and Coto, the commission said.

The weather institute said that similar conditions would continue for the rest of the week into the weekend.


Judicial agents make an arrest in Upala sex slavery case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A tale of true slavery is being reported from northern Costa Rica. Judicial investigators characterize the case as one of sexual and labor exploitation.

Although Costa Rica puts a great emphasis on exploitation, such cases of slavery are infrequent. The last so-called slavery case involved a teen working in the Chinese restaurant of her relatives.

The latest case that comes from Upala near the Nicaraguan border describes a nightmare of a 27-year-old woman who was lured to Costa Rica with the promise of work.
 
The Nicaraguan woman also was promised a place to live,  according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.
A coyote, a man dedicated to importing illegal workers brought the women to a bar in San José de Upala.

There she reported that she was threatened with a firearm by the 60-year-old bar owner, according to the judicial report.

She was forced to have sexual relations with customers of the establishment and to work without pay as a waitress, said the agency.

The woman also was threatened with deportation if she left the bar, the investigators reported.

At 10 a.m. Thursday agents showed up at the bar and took the owners into custody in the Popoyoapa section of the Upala community. They also searched the man's home. Investigators said they recovered a firearm.


Service to the country is good idea for grads without jobs
This week my brain is full of questions.  They began after seeing the play, “Looking for the Pony” at the Laurence Olivier Theater.  It is a terrific play, directed by Annette Hallett with a cast of versatile actors.  Not the usual comedy.  I now keep wondering how much pain I would take to stay alive battling an illness when the medical people in charge of my life make mistakes.  Or do stepbrothers and sisters ever become ‘family’?  The play is showing this weekend and next and is well worth the experience. If you call reservations at 8858-1446, you can see for yourself how two young women answer these questions.  I recommend it.

Years ago, a dear friend who was about 35 at the time asked me to be with her when she went to have her tubes tied.  She was a professional woman, not yet married, but expecting to be.  She did not want to have a baby in the next few years.  She told me the doctor said to her in warning beforehand: “You know, this decision is going to affect the rest of your life.” And she replied, “Yes, and if I have a baby, it will also affect the rest of my life.”

I hear from politicians in the U.S. that women are not as interested in “women’s issues” as they are in economic matters like jobs, just as men are.  The access to contraceptives or an abortion or the ability to get exams included in insurance are considered separate. Are they really saying that whether or not a woman has a baby is just a woman’s physical problem and not an economic one that might affect her job and income? How do they justify giving men Viagra covered by insurance?  Is the ability to have an erection of more economic importance to a man then the fear of getting pregnant is of economic importance to a woman?

And finally, where is the vision in politics?  In the U.S., a young man expecting to graduate from college shortly asked both candidates whether he would have a job after graduation.  I believe he said that former governor Romney offered him a job when he became president and President Obama said he would encourage manufacturing.

Remember when President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”  Neither candidate suggested that there are still the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps to consider if you are just out of
Butterfly in the City
 
. . .  Musings from San José

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Jo Stuart

college or just out of high school. Both stand you in good stead on your resume.  I heard Mr. Romney say that the Mormon custom of sending young missionaries abroad was much like the Peace Corps.  Really?  I know the Peace Corps puts its best foot forward in terms of showing the softer side of the U.S. and, in reality, the Peace Corps volunteers probably benefit even more from their experience and learning about the world.  Often they acquire another language.

But I do question if proselytizing for a particular religion is really similar to the Peace Corps or even can be considered charitable work, which one can deduct from one’s income tax.  It seems as if government and religion come too close in that case.

Service in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps not only looks good on a young person’s resume, the latter, at least will help pay for a college education if the youngster lasts the whole program.  Neither candidate mentioned these possibilities. The young man who questioned them later wondered why.  I, too, wonder why.  Have money and success become so important that the idea of service is no longer even considered?

Graduating from high school or even college does not necessarily mean a young person is qualified for a well-paying job or a career.  Especially the young people today.  We have extended childhood and dependence into the late teens, maybe more, and there are seldom jobs for young people to get experience in the routine of working.  No opportunity to pick grapes or other fruit in the summer, or work as a babysitter or at a responsible part-time job while in high school.  These were all the things that I did when I was young, but it was expected of young people to contribute their share to the family.  Not so much today.

What happened?

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 209
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Another scam based in prison offered victims a mythical prize
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Scam artists, including one already in prison, have been stealing from Costa Ricans over the last five months, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Thursday they made two arrests. A 51-year-old woman, identified by the last names of González Hernández, was detained at her home in Barrio San José, Alajuela.

Agents did not have to search hard for the other suspect, identified by the last names of González Ortiz.

He was in his cell at the La Reforma prison. He is 40, agents said.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the pair are suspects of offering prizes to individuals through unsolicited telephone calls. The catch is that the supposed winners were asked to pay for the delivery of their mythical prize. The prison inmate made the initial calls and said he was an
employee of some television station that was handing out prizes, said agents.

Agents said that the money was delivered through some of the companies that do that service or by asking the victim to recharge cell telephones simply by providing them with the numbers.

Thursday morning agents said they were working on three cases of this type of fraud linked to the pair. By later afternoon the number had increased to five, they said.

Inmates at the various prisons have been involved in a number of scams and crimes via telephone. In another case, the inmates called persons who had suffered the theft of their car and offered to return the vehicle for a cash payment.

Justice ministry officials who run the prisons appear unable to prevent the smuggling of cell telephones to inmates. There are pay phones in a number of the cell blocks, but those calls are monitored.




Bad booze
and no tax


Fuerza Pública officers confiscated 2,794 bottles of alcohol in Tibás and San Miguel de Sarapiquí this week. Some bottles were adulterated and others were smuggled, police said. Here an officer and a tax agent survey some of the bottles.
alcohol photo
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa.


Lawmakers consider creation of regional constitutional courts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans go to the Sala IV constitutional court in droves. The court is logging 20,000 cases a year now, and some topics are what some may consider trivial.

The sidewalk is broken? File a constitutional case.

Unhappy with a court decision? Challenge the law.

The number of cases are so many that lawmakers and court
 officials are considering setting up mini-constitutional courts around the country.

That was the topic Thursday when Luis Paulino Mora, president of the Corte Suprema Justicia, and Ana Virginia Calzada, president of the Sala IV, met with lawmakers. Both appeared to support the idea.

The new courts would be called Tribunales Constitucionales Regionales. Lawmakers suggested that the courts could be created without a major expenditure.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 209
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Trade panel sides with U.S.
in steel dispute with China


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the United States in a dispute with China over the American export of specialty steel used to build power transformers.
 
A World Trade Organization appeals panel said Thursday that Beijing improperly imposed tariffs on steel sent to China by two U.S. companies, AK Steel and ATI Allegheny Ludlum. China had contended that the American firms illegally dumped their products — selling them at unfairly low prices — on the Chinese market. AK Steel said duties of more than 19 percent were imposed on its products.
 
The Chinese claimed that the price of the grain-oriented electrical steel the U.S. companies exported unfairly undercut the prices on products made by two state-owned Chinese competitors, Baosteel Group and Wuhan Iron and Steel Group.
 
The Trade panel initially ruled in favor of the American companies in June. China appealed, but the appellate panel agreed with most terms of the initial decision. Chinese officials had no immediate comment on the new ruling.
 
Grain-oriented flat-rolled electrical steel is used in the production of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators.


Battle against killer TB
hinges on available funds


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization reports that the number of people who caught tuberculosis fell last year, but it also said the number of deaths from TB remained the same and that the disease is still a major killer.

The news from the World Health Organization is mixed: Some 20 million people are alive today as a result of international efforts to control tuberculosis and care for those who have it. As a result, the death rate has dropped by 40 percent since 1990, but lately, it has remained stubbornly level.

And progress has been painfully slow in reducing the overall number of TB cases, and in containing the spread of multi-drug resistant strains of the infection.

Mario Raviglione, with World Health, discussed the agency's 2012 report at a Washington news conference. He said a shortage of money threatens to halt progress in containing the spread of TB, and he warns of serious consequences if this funding gap is not filled.

"We will have to accept that millions more people will be dying of tuberculosis on an annual basis. We'll have to accept that the incidents of TB, instead of going towards elimination –- which is what we hope for — is going to stagnate and increase again, and we'll have to accept that multi-drug resistant TB will be created and further spread," he said.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs, although it can be found in other organs. It's highly contagious, and it's transmitted by breathing in droplets of air from the cough or sneeze of a TB-infected person.

The WHO report shows more than half the number of TB cases are in Asia.  Forty percent are in India and China.

But the problem in sub-Saharan Africa is also severe because many of those who have TB also have HIV/AIDS. Eighty percent of those infected with both TB and HIV live in this region.


Colombia insists on pact
before a FARC ceasefire


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Colombian government has ruled out any ceasefire with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia rebels until there is a final agreement on a peace plan.

Colombia's chief negotiator, Humberto de la Calle, told reporters Thursday that his government would continue military operations until there is a final end to the conflict, which has spanned almost five decades.

He commented at the start of new peace talks with the rebel group in Norway. The two sides began the sessions Wednesday in a bid to end what has become Latin America's oldest insurgency. 

News reports say negotiators in Norway are focusing on issues that include land reform, the illegal drug trade and the potential political rights of the rebel group once a peace agreement is signed.

The talks in Norway are the first between the two sides since the last round of negotiations collapsed in 2002.  The talks are being mediated by Norway and Cuba.

Colombia and rebels, known as the FARC, have engaged in a bloody civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.


Agriculture gathering seeks
 answers for new questions


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Innovation will be the theme at the upcoming Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development. It gets under way later this month in Uruguay.

The conference, known as GCARD II, will consider the challenges that farmers may face in 20 to 30 years, and try to come up with solutions now.

Monty Jones, a professor who was the winner of the 2004 World Food Prize, will chair the conference. He says it will differ from the first GCARD meeting in Montpellier, France in 2010:

“This time it’s not just scientists talking to themselves; it’s scientists talking to the other players that matter very much, particularly this farmers, the farmer’s group, the NGO group, all these other players. Their voices are now being heard in agricultural research for development.”

Jones is head of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. He said GCARD has published a road map to transform agricultural research so it can have a major impact on development. It’s called foresight thinking.

“The tendency for most of us is to look at problems that occur today, and then try to solve those problems. This particular program on foresight thinking is trying to make projection into the future, particularly in a world of climate change and associated problems, like drought and floods, and aggravated problems of disease and insect pests,” he said.

Jones was awarded the World Food Prize for discovery of a genetic process that led to a protein-rich, high yield rice. It’s called NERICA, which stands for New Rice for Africa.

Jones said other innovations include methods to save the cassava plant, elimination of the animal disease rinderpest and the Green Revolution in Asia. Jones believes such a green revolution eventually will come to Africa.

GCARD II will be held in Punta del Este, Uruguay from Oct. 29 through Nov. 1.



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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 209
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Latin America news
Bankers plan expo to help
families manage money


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Banks and financial institutions will give families advice on how to balance their financial situations during the third national financial education fair Nov. 1.

The theme, Finanzas saludables para vivir mejor, will address the correlation between healthy finances and a healthy lifestyle. The financial lectures are sponsored by the Cámara de Bancos e Instituciones Financieras de Costa Rica and the Programa Finanzas con Propósito de Enfoque a la Familia.

"The primary objective of the fair is to use lectures and activities that inform the public on the appropriate use of banking services to promote financial culture,” said Annabelle Ortega, executive director of the bank chamber.

During the fair, banks and financial institutions will provide advice, council and recommendations to visitors about the importance of saving money to improve personal and family finances.  There will also be various activities designed to educate patrons on the different banking and financial services and how to properly use each one to their benefit.

"This initiative seeks to strengthen a financial culture in the Costa Rican people, providing them with the necessary advice to efficiently manage their resources and thus adopt best practices in saving and consumption to improve the family financial situation," said Mayi Antillón, minister of Economía, Industria y Comercio.

The goal of the fair is to create a greater stability for families, and recognize the commitment of banking and financial entities, said Enfoque a la Familia executive director Javier Angulo.

The activity will take place Nov. 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Parque Juan Rafael Mora.  The park is located in front of Correos de Costa Rica in downtown San José.


Slide kills 11 in Perú

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Authorities in Peru say at least 11 people were killed Wednesday in a landslide that struck a remote village. Among those killed in the disaster in the town of Porvenir were five children. Ten people are missing, but local authorities say some of them may have fled the village in the wake of the landslide.








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