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(506) 2223-1327       Published Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 209       E-mail us
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Mountain
Maze

This project may be totally legal, but the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo will take another look as a new sweep of the Canton de Osa begins today.

Story: HERE!



osa maze
Photo by Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo and Calm Air Visibility Unlimited



High court freezes gold mine project over trees
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The controversial open pit gold mine in northern Costa Rica has suffered a new setback because the Sala IV constitutional court froze work there to determine if the firm would be allowed to cut down trees.

The project is being operated by Industrias Infinito S.A., the local arm of a Canadian mining firm. The Poder Judicial made the weekend decision public Monday.

The project has generated a host of enemies whose anger now includes President Óscar Arias Sánchez because he supports the project.

An environmental group, Preserve the Planet, in a statement Monday branded Arias as an eco-terrorist, bad intentioned and irresponsible for having declared the project to be in the interest of Costa Rica.

Luis Diego Marín Schumacher of Preserve the Planet said that there were endangered trees on the site where the firm wants to put the open pit mine. The Sala IV suspended permission granted by the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones and its Secretaria Technica Nacional Ambiental permitting the trees to be cut.

Edgardo Vinicio Araya Sibaja of the group called Asociación Norte pro la Vida brought the case to
court. An order permitting the cutting of trees on about 260 hectares (about 650 acres) showed up in the La Gaceta Friday.

The court asked the ministry to present the paperwork involved with the approval and ordered Infinito to become a party to the case.

Infinito reported last month that it was trying to arrange funding for the project startup. Construction had been underway since June of this year and several buildings have been completed on site along with access road improvements, bridge installation and site preparation, the company said.  Most of the large mill components have been delivered to the site and the project is on schedule and on budget for completion in late 2009, it added.

Some organizations have opposed the project because cyanide would be used to leech the gold from crushed rock, and the Río San Juan is nearby.

The company estimates that it may recover up to 700,000 ounces of gold over the life of the project. It has promised employment and benefits to the residents of the area, but for environmentalists, this is the national rallying point.

In one of his first official acts, President Abel Pacheco outlawed open pit mining but later had to back down because Infinito and its Crucitas mine already had official approval. That was in 2002.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 209

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Ministry, agencies plan
anti-trafficking campaign


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security ministry, the child welfare agency and other organizations are embarking on a publicity campaign against the trafficking of children. However, security officials are quick to admit that they do not know if Costa Rica has a problem. Such trafficking is handled by organized crime and kept secret, the ministry said in a press release Monday.

The security minister, Janina del Vecchio, the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the Coalition Nacional contra el Tráfico Ilícito de Migrantes y la Trata de Personas and the U.N. Children's Fund launched the campaign entitled "No te dejes engañar or "Don't let them fool you."

The ministry characterized trafficking as the third biggest international crime after drugs and illegal arms shipments. Trafficking includes persons tricked or otherwise forced into exploitation and includes persons in the labor force as well as prostitution.

Trafficking in persons, including boys and girls, is a topic little known in Costa Rica because it is linked to organized crime, a situation that limits the source of reliable information about the dimensions of the problem in the country, said the press release from the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. Mario Víquez, president of the Patronato, said his agency set up a special procedure for trafficked individuals in 2007.

The coalition was formed in January and is coordinated by a vice minister of security. Some 750 police, public employees and students will be trained under the new program, and officials said they are mapping out areas where cases of exploitation may be found. They also said they are setting up a crisis intervention team.

Some 50 policemen already have been trained to identify such crimes. Training will continue through 2009, the ministry said.

The United States has identified Costa Rica as a transit point for human trafficking, but there has been little hard evidence presented. The biggest trafficking case in memory involved Guatemalan babies who were being offered to First World parents. The situation is clouded because prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, and many women come here willingly from poorer nations for that purpose.

In another development regarding the same subject, the Fundación Rehab said it would receive a donation from Scotiabank today to provide scholarships for some 50 minors who are in danger of being exploited. The foundation mainly works to provide training and jobs for those who seek to leave prostitution.

Emergency decree signed
to allow quicker recovery


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The executive branch has declared an emergency in areas hard hit by flooding last week. The move is procedural because it allows the government to move quicker and allocate money faster than it could without the declaration.

Casa Presidencial said the areas included in the decree were Montes de Oro, Puntarenas, Esparza, Garabito, Parrita, Aguirre, Buenos Aires, Osa, Golfito, Corredores and Coto Brus, in the Provincia de Puntarenas; the cantons of La Unión, Cartago, El Guarco, Oreamuno, Alvarado, Jiménez, Paraíso and Turrialba, in the Provincia de Cartago; the cantons of Orotina, San Mateo, Atenas, San Ramón, Palmares, Naranjo, Valverde Vega, Grecia, Poás, Alajuela, Alfaro Ruiz, San Carlos, Upala, Los Chiles and Guatuso, in the Provincia de Alajuela; the cantons of Desamparados, Aserrí, Acosta, Tarrazú, Dota, León Cortés, Pérez Zeledón, Alajuelita, Escazú, Santa Ana, Mora, Puriscal and Turrubares, in the Provincia de San José; the canton of Siquirres in the Provincia de Limón and all of the cantons of the Provincia de Guanacaste.

The emergency commission reported Monday that all alerts had been lifted in the country. But the assessment of damage continues. Only six flood shelters were open Monday: Corredores, Río Claro, Coyote de Nicoya, Santa Cruz and Bolsón.

A meeting of emergency officials will be held today to get a better idea of the damage and the financial loss, said the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias.

Chinese view local products

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Procomer, the trade promotion organization, gave Chinese a look at the products of 10 Costa Rican food exporters and two construction supply firms at the Canton fair from Wednesday until Sunday. Some 250,000 persons were expected to visit the fair, Procomer said in advance.
Procomer is officially the Promotora del Comercio Exterior de Costa Rica. It first had a representative at the fair last year.

CINDE has its 25th birthday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency, better known as CINDE, celebrated its 25th birthday Monday night. The organization is a private non-profit development agency that seeks foreign direct investment in the country.

Jordanian king delays trip

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Abdullah II, the kind of Jordan, has postponed his visit to Costa Rica, the foreign ministry said Monday night. He was supposed to arrive Friday. No reason was given.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 209


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Indicative of the construction that is planned is this terrace that appears to be ready for more than a dozen homes. It is in the mountains between the communities of Osa and Buenos Aires, the tribunal said.
home sites in Osa
Photos by Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo and Calm Air Visibility Unlimited

Environmental inspectors and minister focus on Osa today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The environment minister will be among those who overfly the Canton de Osa today to draw attention to what they say is damage to the land.

The minister, Roberto Dobles, will be joined by the judges from the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo and others. The air survey, which starts from the airport in Palmar Norte, kicks off another sweep by the environmental regulators of construction in Osa.

The canton not only includes a large part of the Osa Peninsula but a strip of land along the pacific that runs north to Dominical.

The sweep is being supported by experts from the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Defensoría de los Habitantes, other experts from the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones and the non-government groups The Nature Conservancy and Calm Air Visibility Unlimited.

The environmental sweep follows a Sunday article in La Nación that set the tone and sought to show environmental degradation of the land. Monday the tribunal released a number of photos taken with Calm Air Visibility Unlimited which showed construction sites in the canton.  The photos showed condos being built in forested areas, a jumble of roads in places with uneven terrain and a river flowing to the sea carrying obvious sediment. None of the photos was unusual for areas where there is construction, but the tribunal also will be looking for sites where full permits have not been obtained.

The area has experienced rapid growth, in part because developers expect that the government will follow through on its promise to put in an international airport nearby.

The tribunal said it would investigate grave environmental damages along the coast of Osa and that they would paralyze any project that was against nature.
The Tribunal was last in Osa in July.  José Lino Chaves, president of the tribunal, said that the first sweep showed thousands of hectares with development in the works with many of the contractors disrespecting forested zones, biological corridors and water sources.

He noted that construction permits had increased 200 percent this year and that plans may be in the works for up to 1,000 condos.
sediment goes to the sea
The tribunal blamed the sediment flowing in the Pacific on nearby projects that ripped up the land.

Osa condo project
The tribunal said it will investigate this project this week because the condos appears to going up in a forested area.

Dobles was quoted saying that the biological corridor Paso de La Danta and the international mangroves Térraba-Sierpe should be protected.

Local officials in the canton have welcomed construction and development.


Sardinal meeting over water pipeline delayed by weather
By Elyssa Pachico
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Community organizers in Sardinal complained of sabotage” after a government official was a no-show at a Sunday town hall meeting, intended to discuss the construction of a water pipe which locals say is illegal.

Residents of the western Guanacaste town have expressed strong opposition against the 9-kilometer (6-mile) pipe, which would bring water from Sardinal's aquifer to the tourist resort area of Playas del Coco.  Its construction is being paid by 32 private businesses but the work is being done by contractors for the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados.

Roberto Dobles, the minister Ambient, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, did not attend the 1 p.m. meeting held at a local school, citing recommendations from the Comisión Nacional de Emergencia against traveling to the area, which has seen a high rate of flooding and rain in recent weeks.  

Instead, the ministry's head of public relations, Mario
Zaragoza, coordinated a brief discussion between locals and community activist groups.

“In my opinion the government was scared, so they didn't show,” said Gadi Amit, founder of the ecological activist group Cofraternidad Guanacasteca. “So there wasn't a lot of discussion because there wasn't any opposition.”

Residents have opposed the pipe out of concern that the town, which already experiences water shortages in certain areas, would face an even greater lack of potable water.

“Our position is that we want the government to take certain measures which, so far, they haven't wanted to respond to — that is, dealing with issues like forest protection, avoiding further water pollution, and so on,” said Amit. “The development has to be planned and ultimately has to serve the community, not outside interests.”

Another meeting between residents and Zaragoza is scheduled for Wednesday, in order to discuss when Dobles can next appear in Sardinal. Amit said that on Tuesday's meeting, community groups would propose meeting with Dobles on Sunday, Nov. 9 or Sunday, Nov. 16.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 209


International body approves resolution for sea corridor here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A resolution, put forward by Costa Rican organizations, for an eastern tropical Pacific marine corridor has won support from an international meeting of environmentalists.

The resolution was introduced by the Programa Restauración de Tortugas Marinas, Marviva, Asociación Terra Nostra, Centro de Derecho Ambiental y de los Recursos Naturales and the Departamento de Ambiente, Paz y Seguridad, Universidad para la Paz. 

The forum was the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The meeting was in Barcelona, Spain, this week.

The goal is to protect turtles and hammerhead sharks by creating protected areas.

The resolution expressed concern that leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is now continuing its downward trend without showing signs of recovery and that the 
hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) is on the red list of threatened species and is considered endangered.

Both turtles and hammerheads frequently are caught by mistake in fishing nets.

The resolution asks nations and regional fisheries to protect the leatherback and the hammerhead and asks Costa Rica and Ecuador to establish the Cocos Ridge Marine
Wildlife Corridor and asks Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Colombia to immediately adopt policies in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor to include broad protection for the leatherback, the hammerhead and other endangered and threatened marine organisms that are critical to the marine biodiversity of the region.

The Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape conserves 2 million square kilometers of ocean from Costa Rica to Ecuador. With zones in Panama and Colombia, the region also includes the Galapagos and Malpelo islands, international waters, and several U.N. World Heritage sites, according to Conservation International.


Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, will be visiting Costa Rica next week
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The foreign ministry said Monday that Michelle Bachelet, the president of Chile, would visit Costa Rica on an official trip for two days beginning Oct. 28.

The ministry said she would be accompanied by 64 persons, including ministers, senators, deputies, business people and reporters.

In addition to President Óscar Arias Sánchez, she will visit the Asamblea Legislativa, the Corte Suprema de Justicia and the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.
Oct. 29 she will participate in the inauguration of new facilities for the Interamerican Court of Human Rights here along with José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, the ministry said.

President Bachelet also will be a guest of honor at a lunch of the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones de la Empresa Privada.

She is on her first trip to Costa Rica, said the ministry.

At the end of the visit, both she and Arias will travel to El Salvador for a summit of leaders of Spanish-speaking countries, the ministry said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 209



A.M. Costa Rica
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This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

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.

Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

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A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

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Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

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Bolivia's Morales joins
march for constitution


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bolivian President Evo Morales led tens of thousands of supporters Monday on the final stretch of a week-long march to demand a constitutional referendum.

Marchers began in the highland town of Caracollo and are now in the capital La Paz.

Morales wants a referendum on the controversial draft constitution to be held early next year. He must first win the support of two-thirds of Congress to have the vote held. His right-leaning opponents dominate the Senate.

Morales, Bolivia's first native president, says the proposed constitution would grant greater political and economic power to the country's long-oppressed native majority. Its members form the base of support for his socialist programs. 

Morales wants to break up the large landholdings of farmers in the east and redistribute the property among native groups. Many of the eastern farmers are of European descent. 

Political leaders in the wealthier, resource-rich eastern provinces oppose the constitution, saying it does not recognize their demands for greater autonomy.

 
U.N. labor organization
warns about unemployment


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The International Labor Organization says the world financial crisis could lead to record global unemployment with 20 million more people out of work by the end of next year.

The organization warned Monday that global unemployment could rise to 210 million by late 2009. This would be the first time in history that the number of jobless people around the world rose above 200 million.

Juan Somavia, the organization's director-general, urged governments to take prompt and coordinated actions to avoid a social crisis.

He said world leaders need to focus on how the financial crisis is hurting people, not just financial institutions.

The Geneva-based U.N. agency says people working in the construction, real estate and auto industries will be hardest hit.

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