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(506) 223-1327           Published Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 211                  E-mail us
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He's a new face
on the block

He's not as famous here as his contemporary Simón Bolívar, but José de San Martín is another patriot who helped free South America from Spanish rule.

San Martín saw military service against Napoleon in Europe and then joined the independence movement in what is now Argentina where he was born.

One of his exploits was leading his army across the Andes to fall upon Spanish forces in Chile. After victory there, he repeated his success in Peru.

Unlike Bolívar, San Martín avoided politics and moved to France after independence.

The Municipalidad de San José and the Embassy of Argentina just put up the bust on Paseo de Argentina between the foreign ministry and the headquarters of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros between avenidas 7 and 11.
José san martin
A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas



Tamarindo awaits word on massive ocean pollution
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tamarindo business people and residents are awaiting today the first words from the municipality on the extensive pollution of the community's fabled beaches.

A report made public over the weekend shows that the presence of coliform bacteria in amounts from 3.3 to 329 times the permitted quantity for swimming. Coliform bacteria, which are found in the intestines of warmed-blooded animals, are used as an indicator of fecal pollution.

The study of the Tamarindo beach was done Aug. 17 to 20 by the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the water company. 

The water company aides did 11 tests and found that in only one location was fecal pollution less than the permitted amount.

The findings were confirmed Tuesday by Grettel Corrales, a press aide to the president of the government water company. Although the company known as AyA does not deal in sea water, it has a well-recognized lab that is used to process samples from beach towns for use in the environmental blue flag program.

Reports from Tamarindo suggest that the residents there are not taking the report seriously and that there are no signs posted to prevent tourists from swimming in the polluted water. The fast-growing community is on the Pacific coast of Guanacaste.

The water lab did advise the Ministerio de Salud, the health ministry, and the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, which is in charge of environmental problems, said Ms. Corrales.

Officials in la Cruz Monday declined to comment on the AyA report. An aide said that an official statement would be forthcoming today. The suggestion was that the municipal officials would
suggest some action to remove the pressing danger to the Tamarino's tourism status and real estate.

The limit on presence of coliform bacteria is by the 100 milliliters. Swimming is permitted in waters that have up to 240 bacteria in 100 milliliters. The lowest sample checked by the lab had 790 coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters. That was at the outlet of a stream. That was within permitted limits which allows 1,000 coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters.

Farther out to sea the lab found 1,100 to 4,600 coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters. This still is beyond the level at which swimming should be permitted.

The lab aids took samples at various points where discharges were made in the Pacific. The highest was at a location known locally as Estero Pedro. There the coliform bacteria count was 79,000 per 100 milliliters.

Separate measurements near the Hotel Milagro, the Bar and Restaurant Porto-Fino, and Bar Copacabana were 49,000 coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters, said the AyA report.    

A discharge point in front of the Hotel Iguana Sur returned a reading of 24,000 coliform per 100 milliliter, and one at Hotel Cocodrilo was 13,000 per 100 milliliters, said AyA.

Discharges containing up to 1,000 coliform per 100 milliliters are permitted, said AyA.

Darner Mora, director of the Laboratorio Nacional de Aguas, said that the water in Tamarindo could be damaging to the health for those who swim in it and that the community probably will lose its blue flag that shows it is in compliance with ecological standards.

Lab officials gave Tamarindo two months to bring the problem under control, said AyA. But the next inspection is sometime this week.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 211

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pejibayes
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Cutting them in half helps remove large pit.

Time draws near for festival
of the palm nuts in Tucurrique

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If it is October, the national pejibaye festival is in Tucurrique. And it starts Friday.

But this is not a Weight Watchers-approved event.

The little pejibayes or palm nuts each are about 1,100 calories because they are heavy in oil. With a little mayo, an appreciative adult can much down 20 or so.

More than 150 pejibaye farmers will bring their crop to Tucurrique for the 10-day festival. The fair has been going on for 14 years, and more than 30,000 persons go a year. The town is some 14 kms (about 9 miles) from Cartago centro.

Pejibayes are the green, brown and red globes bouncing around in the hot water tank at the local supermarket. Although they can be consumed raw, cooking brings out the flavor, makes them less caustic and makes them easier to peel.

Tucurrique puts out 400,000 pounds of the palm fruit each year, and the fair is a way of popularizing the product and attracting tourists to the area.

A lot of foods made from pejibaye will be offered for sale. The palm nut can be dried and ground to make a flour. It also can be deep fried.

One favorite is a pejibaye soup made from the ground fruit, some pan-fried onions and milk or cream.

For those who fear the calories, the town also will have a number of activities, including horseback riding and dancing to balance out the calories, said organizers.

For those who like to live dangerously, pejibayes can be fermented into what Purdue University in Indiana calls a strong alcoholic beverage. The drink is so strong is is said to be illegal in some Latin countries.  Sounds like a challenge.


Phone book deadline nears

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday is the last day to make revisions of entries in the 2008 telephone book, said the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The Guía Telefónica 2008 will be closed to corrections after that day, the national communications company said.

Those who want to make changes can make inquires at 115 or at the local branch of the company, a release said.

Two held in Escazú carjackings

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men, one 25 and the other 30, were detained in Escazú Tuesday on the allegation that they were the pair that has been robbing motorists of their vehicles at gunpoint.

The technique is known as bajonazo. That is when a passerby or a motorcyclist sticks a gun or a knife in the ear of a driver and takes over the vehicles.

Raids took place at Bello Horizonte and El Bajo de los Anonos.

Agents said they were investigating crimes in which extreme violence was used against motorists.

Our reader's opinion

Iguanas are virility food,
in campo, reader reports


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Hunting iguanas is not all about rice and beans.

In reference to the Monday article, iguanas here in Costa Rica being threatened by “hunting pressures” is close to the point.

I lived with a Tico family for six months near Orotina and the men hunted for Iguana on a regular basis. It was seldom because there was no money to buy beef or pork but rather an ignorant belief.

These men hunt for the eggs of pregnant iguanas and claimed that it increased their “male prowess.” So not only do people hunt them for food, but they are hunting the pregnant females who can carry on the species all in the name of “keeping it xx” with their lady friends.

Education can play a big role in protecting this species from extinction if people would acknowledge some of these ridiculous beliefs.
Ike Ikenn

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 211



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Consul general says actions were prompt and appropriate
Embassy official says delay in Tomayko case not due to race
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The consul general at the U.S. Embassy here has denied that a five-year delay in finding an international child abduction fugitive was the result of racial bias.

The case is that of Chere Lyn Tomayko, who for years occupied a spot on the F.B.I. most wanted list.

The consul general is David R. Dreher, and he made the denial in an e-mail to Roger Cyprian, the father of Alexandria Cyprian and the one-time boyfriend of Ms. Tomayko. Cyprian is black and had joint custody of the girl.

Ms. Tomayko fled Texas with the girl and has been living in Costa Rica since around the time of her U.S. federal indictment alleging the parental kidnapping in May 1997.
Said Dreher to Cyprian:

"In your e-mail, you reference a series of articles published by A.M. Costa Rica, an on-line newspaper, regarding the search for your daughter Alexandria Cyprian.  The articles present some 'facts,' and based on those 'facts' conclude that U.S. authorities deliberately delayed the search for Alexandria based on racial prejudice; i.e. the father is black and the mother white.  That conclusion is irresponsible and incorrect."

The consul general continued to defend the embassy's actions in the case: 

"As you know, the embassy was actively involved in looking for Alexandria in 2001, based on information you provided.  Unfortunately, the information did not result in the discovery and apprehension of the abducting parent Chere Tomayko.  In 2002, we received additional information alleging that Ms. Tomayko was in Costa Rica.  Once again, the information was investigated but did not lead to her location.  The case remained dormant, with no new leads until last year.  
 
"Contrary to the claims of A.M. Costa Rica, Ms Tomayko was not residing openly in Costa Rica.  The embassy acted promptly and appropriately whenever reports were received regarding her location.  It is unfortunate she was not detected earlier, but any delays were not due to racial bias."
The A.M. Costa Rica article Sept. 27 said that it appears
that embassy workers protected Ms. Tomayko until Alexandria Cyprian turned 18 in July. The news story suggested that the embassy employees might have been more sensitive to Ms. Tomayko's plight because she is white and Cyprian is black. But Cyprian said the FBI agent on the case did not think so, but he said that embassy workers might have believed a claim by Ms. Tomayko of  sexual abuse.

The woman was detained Sept. 19 in Heredia where she had been living most of the time. She is fighting extradition. After the arrest, the woman's daughter said she had been graduated by the European School.

In early 2002 A.M. Costa Rica readers responded to a story about the fugitive mother and reported that she was working in the Heredia area. They mentioned the European School there. A.M. Costa Rica, relayed that information to the U.S. Embassy. An embassy official in a later call to the newspaper asked that the information not be published because the case was sensitive. The newspaper complied so as to not ruin an investigation in progress.

No one else at the embassy ever contacted A.M. Costa Rica about the case, sought more information about the case or sought to contact the readers who knew the woman.
Most of the U.S. citizens working at the embassy now were not there in 2002.

Dreher also suggests in his letter that even if the embassy acted earlier the girl might not have been returned to her father in Fort Worth, Texas. He said:

"One issue not raised previously concerns the age of majority in Costa Rica.  In general, a 16-year-old is considered of age to make personal decisions, and we have encountered cases in which 15-year-olds were considered adults.  Even if Ms. Tomayko were detained prior to Alexandria's 18th birthday, it is not certain that you would have gained custody."

Since her arrest, the daughter of Ms. Tomayko, Miss Cyprian, has said she supports her fully and resents the intrusion of officials into their family life. Ms. Tomayko is believed to have had another child by a Costa Rican man.


Finally, after 15 days of drenching downpours, the sun shines
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The sun came out Tuesday, and the day was magnificent.
But it was not the arrival of the dry season.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the month still is October with a high chance of partly cloudy skies in the morning and rain in the afternoon.

The change in the weather and the receding of flood waters resulted in the closings of some shelters in the country. They were well populated after 15 days of drenching rain.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the emergency commission said that about 1,100 persons remain in some 15 shelters with the majority in the Guanacaste canton of Carrillo. Five cantons there are still on alert. In addition to Carrillo, they are Cañas, Santa Cruz, Bagaces and Nicoya.

The weather is good enough for the national emergency commission to call a meeting of Guanacaste mayors for
Thursday to discuss priorities in clearing the damage and repairing wrecked infrastructure.

The U.S. government came through with $50,000 in disaster aid Tuesday. The money is to be used to purchase sheets and personal hygiene products for flooding victims, said the embassy. The United States also donated the same amount to Nicaragua, which also suffered under flooding.

Some of the significant road damage, even on major highways, has not been repaired, but the emergency commission and the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes are seeking temporary solutions, such as the portable bridges that have been used in the past.

With the return of clearer skies, the weather has turned chilly with evening temperatures being as low as 16 C. (60 F.) in San José. Fortunately for Guanacaste residents, the dry season usually arrives along the northern Pacific several weeks before the rest of the country. So around the middle of next month, rain should no longer be a threat there.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 211

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Venezuelan students hold violent protest on Chávez reforms
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Protesters in Venezuela have clashed with police as thousands demonstrated against constitutional reforms that some critics say will turn the country into an authoritarian state.

Venezuelan police fired tear gas Tuesday at the student-led demonstrators after clashes broke out in Caracas.

The proposed amendments include eliminating presidential term limits, detaining citizens without charge during national emergencies, and restricting the public's access to
information during an emergency.

Leaders of Venezuela's Roman Catholic Church are opposed to the changes, saying they amount to the concentration of power in the president's hands.

Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, have also condemned the proposed constitutional amendments.

Venezuela's legislature plans to finalize the language for the 58 amendments by the end of this month, and a national vote on the changes is expected in December.


Diamond trader in Guyana suspected of trafficking in blood stones from Africa
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire servicies

Authorities in Guyana have seized a cache of diamonds weighing about 4,000 carats from a company suspected of trafficking in smuggled gems.

Guyanese officials say the company, Explorers Trade and Commerce Limited, may be charged with violating international regulations governing the sale of diamonds.

Guyana's mining commissioner, Bill Woolford, said the
company failed to convince inspectors that a shipment of diamonds bound for Dubai originated in Guyana.

The inspectors went to the area in the South American country where the company says it mined the diamonds but found no evidence to support the claim.

Guyana is a signatory to the Kimberley Certification Process, a global scheme that requires countries to ensure diamond exports do not finance rebel groups in Africa and elsewhere.


Peace Corps enrollment of volunteers in the field reported to be greatest ever
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Peace Corps says it has reached a 37-year high in the number of volunteers serving overseas.

The agency says 8,079 volunteers are serving in 74 countries around the world.

Peace Corps Director Ron Tschetter says the figure is a
reflection of what he calls the "great American spirit of volunteerism."

The agency was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy as part of a global initiative.

Since its founding, more than 190,000 Peace Corps volunteers have served in fields such as education, health, environment, agriculture and business development.


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