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(506) 2223-1327           Published Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 208       Email us
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Those colorful metal animal sculptures put on the pedestrian mall near Mercado Central are taking a beating from vandals and ordinary passers-by.

See our story

HERE!


Costa Rica rejects claim of a Calero kidnap plot
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

With the Nicaraguan presidential elections little more than two weeks away, the Ortega administration there is stirring the pot over the Isla Calero.

The Nicaragua general of the armies,  Julio César Avilés, revealed Wednesday what he claimed was a plan by Costa Rica to kidnap Sandinista youth who are supposedly doing environmental work in the disputed zone.

Costa Rica quickly seized on the general's words as proof that Nicaragua has violated the temporary restraining order issued by the International Court of Justice.

There are not supposed to be any Sandinista youth or any other Nicaraguans in the area under terms of the court order.

The Costa Rican foreign ministry said that the general's words were meant to muddy the waters of the international court case. Unfounded, fictitious and extravagant were the undiplomatic words contained in a statement from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

The international tribunal in March issued the temporary order that both countries withdraw from the disputed territory. The order also gave Costa Rica limited rights to exercise environmental oversight of the zone.

The Sandinista youth periodically have been coming into Costa Rica's territory and even have constructed some shacks there. The area is infested with mosquitoes and generally an unattractive place to live. So the suspicion is that the central government of Daniel Ortega sent the young people there to keep the boundary issue in the news during the election campaign. The authoritarian Ortega has made the issue a patriotic one.
The Costa Rican foreign ministry said it would forward the general's words to the court location in The Hague, Netherlands, as proof that the order has been violated. It said that the general's statement was a maneuver to justify the placement of Nicaraguan troops in the disputed area.

The foreign ministry also said it did not have the will or desire to become involved in the run-up to the presidential elections.

Nicaragua polls show that Ortega is likely to be the top vote getter with about 28 percent of the ballots cast. Former president Arnoldo Alemán also is on the ballot, as is radio station owner Fabio Gadea Mantilla.

The first round winner needs to have 40 percent of the vote or 35 percent and a 5 percent lead over the closest rival to avoid a runoff.

Nicaraguan troops invaded the area a year ago on the pretext of suppressing drug trafficking. The real reason is an effort to construct a new mouth for the Río San Juan to bypass the winding, silted eastern section of the river. That would open the way for development along the Caribbean coast. A new airport already is being built nearby.

Reports from the area say that a second dredge has joined the work to create a channel to the sea. Locals expect the force of the river to enlarge any channel that is constructed. Already a small channel has been dug nearly across the disputed territory.

Costa Rica claimed in The Hague that the Nicaraguans did extensive environmental damage. But the Costa Rican central government has ignored the area in the past. Now officials are seeking to build a road along the south side of the river because under terms of various treaties, the international boundary is the south bank of the river, and Nicaragua controls access.


Readers can pick finalists for name for sloth mascot
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ready to vote for your favorite name that we will award the tourism institute's new mascot?

You can see a list of names HERE!

The mascot is the animated sloth that promotes the trip giveaway raffle being run by the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo. A.M. Costa Rica has taken it upon itself to find a name for the spokes sloth because neither the institute nor its
advertising agency in Atlanta, Georgia, did.

Readers submitted a long list of creative names, and some also listed their reason. But some also reported that they had problems Tuesday sending in their choices of the top three names because of email problems. That situation has been remedied.

Readers can send their names to
 NamethatSloth@amcostarica.com. 
The top five selections will be presented again for a final vote by readers.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 208

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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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This is 'Talking in a Rose Garden'

New Liberia art gallery show
features strong, bold images

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Patricia Murolo, a native Costa Rican, opens a show Saturday titled "Litany of Colors." The emphasis is on bold colors and strong images.

Fellow artist Cynthia Sáenz said that “Patricia Murolo brings us into a world of dreams and fantasies, immersed in their litany of color and movement. She floods our eyes and soul to bring us into a magical and surreal world belonging to a dreaming mind, unstoppable, a joyful spirit, wrapped color, wanting to love the color and life.

“Her labors of love and radiant personality lead us to a nuanced fantasy world of vibrant colors, spreading joy and fantasy, as only she can.”

Ms. Murolo said that ever since she can remember “ drawing, painting and art have been my constant companions.”

The San José native said she grew up “around colored pencils, paper, illustrations, and with anything that could capture the fantasies that were in my thoughts.”

“My artwork is born within my heart and my mind,” she said. “My favorite themes are dreamy, fantastic and beautiful women and flowers, with multicolor auras; enigmatic and mysterious women that go out through the doorway of my imagination.”

She now lives in Playa Avellanas where the birds, butterflies and even howler monkeys give her inspiration for her work.

The show is at the Hidden Garden Art Gallery, which is 5 kilometers west of Daniel Oduber Airport near Liberia.

 
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. 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 208

resting place

marked dog
A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias
Dogs get little respect even when they become works of art
By Shahrazad Encinias
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Animal welfare is a clear issue that brings together citizens of San José. So when the mayor of the city approved an art display that promotes awareness of animal cruelty and animal well-being, the six sculptures were set up alongside the Mercado Central on Avenida Central between calles 6 and 8.

Two years later, the exhibit by Costa Rican artist Francisco Munguía still stands, but it has been infiltrated by the art culture of the inner city. There is graffiti on the sculptures. Kids climb on the sculptures. People lean against them or use them as grocery bag holders when they tie their shoes or need a couple minutes to rest.

The polychrome on steel sculptures of dogs titled “Monumento a Zaguates” stand on cement platforms two
 feet above ground. The term used by Ticos to describe homeless street dogs is zaguates. They also are referred to as perros callejeros.

Each sculpture has a name and a story of the animal's rescue. Bobi, Ewok, Tábata, Champú, Pauleta and Oso are the dogs Munguía took in with his family. They became the inspiration for the sculptures. The names are displayed with the sculptures on the south side of the Mercado Central.

It was a joint effort in 2009 amongst the Municipalidad de San José, the local magazine Pet's & Más and the Costa Rica Animal Sanctuary to make the sculptures possible.

The work cost $6,500.

“This is a form of solidarity with the street dogs of San Jose,” Denia Sanchez, said. She is spokesperson for the municipality.


Legislative proposal to readjust budget draws quick responses
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A proposal by several lawmakers to redistribute some $70 million in the 2012 budget brought a chorus of warnings from the finance ministry and the Poder Judicial.

The Ministerio de Hacienda quickly dashed off a message to the legislative committee involved saying that the plan would jeopardize vital programs.

The proposal involves Luis Fishman among other legislators on the Comisión de Asuntos Hacendarios. The proposal follows one last week in which $107 million would be put to uses other than those planned by the central government.
The finance ministry said that the proposals would weaken its ability to collect taxes and also undercut the Ministerio de Exteriores y Culto in its effort to continue a case against Nicaragua in the International Court of Justice. The proposals also would hurt the Minsterio de Obras Públicas y Transportes and reduce the efforts to improve the nation's infrastructure, said the ministry. The proposal also would cause a postponement of prison construction and affect agricultural programs, the ministry said.

The Poder Judicial held its own press conference expressing similar concerns. The judiciary's list was far more detailed and even treated the cost of cleaning blinds and rental of computers.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 208




This washout is at a section of the Interamericana Sur known as Casa Mata. The location is known technically as Kilometer 39. And this is why the highway is closed there at least until later today
.

Most travelers will be using the Caldera highway and the Costanera
Casa Mata
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo

As the rains diminish strong winds are expected to move in
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
with special reports

The rains have diminished, but now the weather experts are warning about the possibility of strong winds. The reason would be a high pressure area to the north of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional predicted winds in the 30 to 55 kph, some 19 to 34 mph.

Still there is a probability today on the Pacific coast of rains including some downpours. They may begin before midday, the weather institute said.

Meanwhile there is still a lot of damage for the 12 days of rain that hit the country. The Interamericana Sur is cut at a point called Casa Mata. The collapse of the road took out nearly half the highway, and road officials closed the section for the safety of motorists. They said they were evaluating how to handle the situation. The road ran along a ravine at that point, and the hillside gave way.

The Autopista del Sol, also called the Caldera highway, said that it was able to reopen the section between Orotina and Atenas by 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. Slides had blocked the route.

By late afternoon there still were nearly 1,000 persons in 20 public shelters.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said its priorities Wednesday were in Guanacaste, mainly the cantons of Carrillo and Santa Cruz. But there also were storm victims in Bagaces, La Cruz, Liberia, Cañas, San Ramón, Grecia, Santa Ana and Moravia.

The commission said that 1,589 kilometers of highway were .
affected. That's about 985 miles. There were 223 places where the highway needed work

A major effort now is to reopen access to those communities that have been cut off by landslides and the collapse of highways and to provide food and drinking water for those who lost domestic water or have polluted wells.

Farmers did not do well. Part of the nation's rice crop has been destroyed, and there has been damage to vegetable crops, cattle herds and other types of production. In addition, road damage has prevented routine deliveries. Observers expect the price of some products to take a jump due to the agricultural damage.
The damage to export crops still is being assessed.

Throughout Central America more than 100 persons have died as a result of the rain. The toll in Costa Rica is four or five.

The United Nations reported it has approved an emergency cash grant for El Salvador and sent additional staff to the country as it beefs up efforts to help the government respond to severe floods.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that a grant of $50,000 has been approved to support initial relief activities in El Salvador, where floods have claimed 32 lives and caused the evacuation of more than 32,000 people. The country appealed for international assistance Sunday.

In Guatemala, 29 people have died and an estimated 154,000 have been affected, while more than 38,000 people in Honduras have been stricken by the inundations, with 13 reported deaths.

In Nicaragua, 133,858 people have been affected, mainly in the north and the Pacific coastal areas. Of particular concern in Nicaragua are reports of new cases of H1N1 viral infections that have prompted the U.N. World Health Organization to send in a monitoring team.

landslide
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo









When road officials talk about landslides, this is what they mean. This one on Ruta 209 just covers one lane. Larger slides can take out whole sections of roadway, vehicles included.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 208

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Venezuelan candidate to run
despite ruling by court


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan opposition candidate Leopoldo López says he will continue his bid for the presidency despite a Venezuelan supreme court ruling that would keep him from holding elected office until 2014.

In a televised speech Tuesday López told supporters, "I can and will be a candidate for the president of Venezuela."

The high court said Monday that the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights' ruling last month that López's exclusion from the presidential race was unjustified and cannot be enforced.  The Venezuelan supreme court went on to say that López may run for office, but cannot serve if elected.

López accused the Venezuelan supreme court of being controlled by President Hugo Chávez.

López is the former mayor of the Chacao district in Caracas. He was expected to win the 2008 election to become mayor of all of Caracas before corruption charges were leveled against him and scores of other politicians by President Chavez's comptroller general. 

López was never brought to trial on the charges, but he and several other opposition candidates were barred from seeking office. The ban on López remains in effect until 2014.

López has called the suspension unconstitutional.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is a part of the Organization of American States. Venezuela is a member, but Chávez claims the group is a pawn of the United States.


Third time is a charm
for president of Haiti


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Haiti's new prime minister, Garry Conille, was sworn into office Tuesday along with 16 cabinet ministers.

The new government took office five months after Michel Martelly was sworn in as president.  Conille was President Martelly's third nominee for the post.

The new government will attempt to rebuild much of Haiti's infrastructure following the January 2010 earthquake, which killed nearly a quarter of a million people.

Health concerns continue to plague Haiti in the wake of the earthquake.  The World Health Organization reported more than 400,000 cholera cases in July.

Conille served as an aide to former U.S. President Bill Clinton during his tenure as a special United Nations envoy to Haiti.


World Health Organization:
Malaria deaths on decline

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization reports that deaths from malaria around the world have dropped more than 20 percent since 2000.

The U.N. agency says deaths dropped from 985,000 in 2000 to about 780,000 in 2009.  Most deaths occur among children living in Africa.

The World Health Organization released the latest figures Tuesday in its World Malaria Report 2010.

The annual number of malaria cases dropped slightly over the last decade, from 233 million to 225 million. The report attributed the declines to disease prevention and control measures.

Although malaria is preventable and curable, the World Health Organization says a child dies of the disease in Africa every 45 seconds, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all childhood deaths.

Malaria is caused by parasites that are transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes.  The disease initially causes mild symptoms including fever, headache, chills and vomiting.  If not treated within 24 hours, it can cause more severe symptoms such as severe anemia and respiratory distress, which may lead to death.


Apple shares drop slightly
as earning came in lower


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The share price of the technology company Apple declined in Wednesday's trading after the company reported earnings less than had been predicted by analysts.

Apple has just introduced a new version of its popular iPhone, called the 4S, which set a sales record in the first few days after it was introduced.

But sales of the previous model, the iPhone4, sagged because many potential customers delayed their purchases until the new model became available earlier this month.

Apple may make up the difference quickly, selling 4 million of the new phones in just the first three days it was available.

Apple faces competition from phones running a rival computer operating system called Android from Google.  The company has just released a new version of its software while Samsung has introduced a new phone called the Galaxy Nexus to run it.

The new Android operating system includes upgrades that make it easier for users to share web pages, videos and programs.  The new Android phone can also be set to unlock only when it recognizes the owner's face.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 208

Costa Rica Reprot promo


Latin America news
Anti-capitalism movement
gets backing from labor

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Occupy Wall Street is a round-the-clock operation that feeds participants and protects them from the elements. A peek behind the scenes of the movement's logistical operations in New York reveals a grassroots and labor-union network that keeps goods flowing to those in need.

Justin Strekal, a volunteer from Cleveland, Ohio, oversees what's referred to as SIS, an abbreviation for Occupy Wall Street's shipping, inventory and storage unit. The SIS space — a small parcel of property owned by the United Federation of Teachers — is just three blocks from Zuccotti Park, epicenter of Occupy Wall Street movement.

"We are all storing it here, making sure that our working sites at the camp are all fully stocked with anything that they need for the day, and we are storing the rest of it to be able to sustain a long-term occupation," he said, explaining that the unit receives as many as 400 boxes of donations every day, including comfort items such as blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, and jackets.

Socks are especially welcome after it rains, he says, as are hygiene items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, deodorant, and first-aid supplies. The trove remains in a state of organized chaos, perpetually sorted and inventoried to accommodate circumstances as they unfold.

The movement has also received about $250,000 in financial donations that, he says, will be allocated according to the ethic of fair labor the movement espouses.

"We wanted to make sure the companies we are supporting . . . treat their workers in a humane and fair way," he said, adding that every effort is made to purchase supplies from firms that practice fair trade, not free trade.

Volunteer Cory Thompson of Minneapolis, Minnesota, said the protest inspires donations from those who can't personally participate.

Although the volunteers acknowledge that some of the food supplies go to freeloaders who attend protests only for free meals, they're nonetheless reinvigorated upon rejoining demonstrators in Zuccotti Park at the end of a long workday.

Crooks make off with load
of fireworks in Ochomogo


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Armed men took over a fireworks factory in Ochomogo early Wednesday and managed to make off with merchandise worth about $200,000, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The factory is in Calle La Angelina. The robbers managed to tie up the lone guard as they looted the place and fled in a truck.






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