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(506) 2223-1327           Published Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 212       Email us
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Historical hurricanes
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Graphic shows the track of hurricanes, tropical storms and other phenomena in history
Presidents blame First World for damaging storm
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Presidents and ambassadors from countries devastated by recent rains blamed the industrialized nations Tuesday and said developed countries had a moral obligation to pay and to reduce climate change. Among those signing the surprising document was Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica.

Weather in Costa Rica . . . HERE!

In their declaration, the presidents said that the intensity of the prolonged rain suffered in Central Americas constitutes a concrete manifestation of the adverse affects of climate change and the direct impact of this over the life and existence of the population of the countries and for achieving the Millennium development goals.

In addition to Ms. Chinchilla, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, the Honduran president, Mauricio Funes, president of El Salvador and Álvaro Colom Caballeros of Guatemala signed the document. Also signing were Samuel Santos, foreign minister of Nicaragua, Enrique Bermúdez Martinelli, the ambassador of Panamá, and Celie Paz de González, ambassador of Belize. The countries belong to the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana. The meeting was at Comalapa International Airport and the document is titled the Declaration of Comalapa. A copy was released in San José by Casa Presidencial.

The document addressed the damage caused by Tropical Depression 12-E that brought hundreds of deaths, thousands of refugees, damage to infrastructure and serious agricultural losses. The bulk of the damage was north of Costa Rica. Hurricane Jova and Tropical Depression 12E made landfall in México Oct. 14 from the Pacific Ocean. The remnants of 12-E crossed Central America and moved into the Caribbean. Honduras, Guatemala and México are now being menaced by Hurricane Rina.

The declaration said that “the developed countries have an environmental debt with the rest of the world and that the industrial revolution that began in 1850 is the principal cause of climate change
that we suffer today. The developed world has the duty to contribute to our expenses of prevention and reconstruction with a focus on reducing risks and adapting to climate change.”

The presidents plan to meet again Dec. 16 to promote what they called the right to prevention.

Among the conclusions the declaration calls upon industrialized states to make significant reductions in gases and to recognize the region as a vulnerable one that requires additional financing. This financing might include transfer of technology for mitigation.

The declaration also said that the group of countries would make a formal request to the United Nations for emergency aid. The presidents and ambassadors also said they would instruct their representatives in the various development banks and the World Bank to help finance projects of rehabilitation.

Neither the declaration nor Casa Presidencial here gave any scientific support that the tropical depression and this seasons other storms and hurricanes were amplified by climate change.

The latest scientific reports say that the oceans are about one degree celsius warmer than 1970 levels, and that means about 4 percent more water in the air.

However, the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale has published a list of Western Hemisphere hurricanes since Columbus encountered one in 1495. The newspaper said that in 1776 a storm killed more than 6,000 on Martinique, and then in 1780 the deadliest storm on record hit the Caribbean, claimed 22,000 lives and destroyed the British and French fleets.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a data base of more than  6,000 tropical cyclones, ranging from 1842.

The declaration did not mention emissions from the various volcanoes that are in the Central American countries.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 212

Costa Rica Expertise

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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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Our readers' opinions
Drug use is a decision
by the user — not society


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Sargent's suggestion that “it falls upon society to provide an effective rehabilitation program for drug-law offenders” fails to address the fact that it wasn’t “society” that chose to make the offender do drugs, it was the offenders choice. The cost for a rehab program should be paid by the offender.  Perhaps personal responsibility should be part of the curriculum.
Dan Jackson
Calhan, Colorado


A fine and not court can
help balance the budget

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Good idea, why waste time prosecuting when a simple FINE will be fast and easy on the overworked justice system.  Looks like Ms. Chinchilla has the vehicle she needs to balance the national budget in a big hurry.  Hopefully she will use it.
 
What works so well for Singapore will also get Costa Rica out of the red in a big hurry.  Don't forget the big fines for littering as well.
Jim Harrison
Virginia


Country should have permits
for selling and taxing drugs

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
I believe that Costa Rica is smart not prosecuting possession of small amounts (personal usage) of illegal drugs. A reasonable fine much like a traffic citation is not only a money saver it could be a money maker. Cross reference these citations with the motor vehicle Department and every year when a car owner pays his fee for his car if he has an unpaid drug fine...no sticker for his car...that would make people pay up (at least if they owned a car).
 
Also as a medical tourism destination Costa Rica might want to think about instituting a "medical marijuana" law.  Sell it legally and tax it substantially. The US could benefit from doing this as well.
 
Costa Rica is facing a crime problem and needs to stress opening up court and jail space for much more serious and violent criminals than potheads or pill poppers. Like most countries Costa Rica needs revenue. This is a chance to save money on prosecuting possession crimes and make money with fines or, better yet, taxing controlled amounts sold through government-licensed establishments. Want to grow a small marijuana crop? Buy a permit  It could be a solution
 
Patrick Mach
Florida / La Uruca


The law is stupid

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to John Sullivan Oct 25: The point is; if you make walking a crime, then there will be many, many criminals and you will need a lot of money to house all the “criminals” in jail and to apprehend them.  But people will still break the law and walk.  The crime rate will be high because the law is stupid.  Not because we condone walking.
Rick Lariviere
Garza

 
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, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 212

Sala Primera agrees to rule on appeal over Crucitas mine
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala Primera has agreed to hear the appeals of a lower court decision against the Las Crucitas mine. The appeals accepted were from the government, the gold mining firm Industrias Infinito S.A. and the Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservación, which support the mine. Also accepted were appeals from Asocrucitas, a group that opposes the mine.

The appeals were varied and the court did not accept all of them. Appeals from a number of citizens were rejected because the court decided they lacked standing.

The appeals are of the decision by the Tribunal  Contencioso Administrativo, which last Nov. 24 ordered the central government to cancel the mineral concession held by Infinito.

At stake is an estimated 1.2 million ounces of gold. The market price Wednesday was about $1.9 billion. The government was pushing the project as a way to bring economic growth into the area, which is the extreme northern sector of the province of Alajuela.

Infinito said on its Web page that it had not been notified formally of the decision. The court has three weeks from the time the last litigant has been notified to render a final decision. However, further court appeals are possible.

The Sala Primera made the decision shortly after noon Tuesday. The decision was long awaited. 

The mine has been subject to protests and strong criticism. Earlier last year the Sala IV constitutional court looked over the Crucitas project and gave it the green light. But opponents quickly filed an action in the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo, which evaluated actions of the government.

Opponents claim that the open pit mining process will put cyanide into the environment.
 
As part of the lower court decision, the chief judge, 
gold mine locaiton
Industrias Infinito S.A./A.M. Costa Rica graphic
The mine site is about four hours north of San José

Eduardo González Segura, encouraged prosecutors to examine the role former president Óscar Arias Sánchez had in the project. Arias issued a decree that said the mining project was in the national interest. This gave the company latitude to, among other things, cut endangered trees. The court also said the role of the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental should be examined, too.

Infinito fired most of the workers at the mine site after the decision was issued.

Protesters were darlings of the media. Some went on hunger strikes at Casa Presidencial and then hiked to the mine site in northern Costa Rica.

Some opponents have criticized the government for siding with the mining company on the appeal, but generally the nation's lawyers have to defend decisions made by the government. In this case the decision was to grant the firm a permit.

The government also estimated that Infinito, the subsidiary of a Canadian firm, will bring a successful action in international arbitration that may cost the country as much as $70 million.


Weather situation improves, but some problems remain
EDITOR'S NOTE: At 11 a.m. today the Consejo de Vialidad said that it would be opening the Interamericana Norte, Ruta 1, at Cambronero to passenger cars, light vehicles and public transportation at 2 p.m. today, Wednesday. The section of road has been out of service for more than a week.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


The weather forecast for today calls for isolated showers over much of the country, but not the kind of rain that has flooded Guanacaste and southern Costa Rica.

The national emergency commission said that Guanacaste was returning to normal and that the rivers there were back in their banks. In nearly all cases once-isolated communities are being reached with emergency supplies because the roads are again open.

The big concern is a landslide that blocked the Río Claro  near Golfito. Emergency commission workers fear that water will build up behind the slide and eventually break through the natural dam to do damage in communities some 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) below.

The ríos Claro and Corredores were a problem for two weeks and some 82 persons from flooded communities were said to still be in shelters in that area.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias said that experts will overfly the natural dam to estimate the danger. They also will check out major slides in the Central Valley, the agency said.

Hurricane Rina is threatening Mexico's Yucatan, but the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said it had little influence now on Costa Rica's weather. The storm's track
Ruta Una
Consejo de Vialidad photo
Work continues on Ruta 1, the Interamericana Norte

is expected to turn slightly to the east, and residents in Florida are bracing for its arrival. Frontier Airlines said passengers with tickets this week to Yucatan resorts could
change their reservation without charge.

A low pressure area is in the Caribbean just north of Venezuela. This may bring cloudy conditions and more rain to the country over the weekend or next week.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that 35 routes still were closed, as was the Interamericana Norte near San Ramón. However, workers managed to open the Interamericana Sur at Casa Mata where the roadway fell into an adjacent ravine. Some 64 routes are restricted in some fashion. The problems mainly are flooding, landslides and collapsed roadways. Some 249 roadways where they had been problems have been returned to normal, said the Consejo.


Residents from India open Diwali celebration to public
By Zackery McDonald
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today begins the Indian holiday Deepavali/Diwali. The five-day celebration will culminate Sunday with Diwali, the Festival of Lights, at the Museo de Arte Costarricense.

¨The celebration is meant to show the significance of Diwali and how it is celebrated,¨ said Minush Manchanda, one of Diwali´s organizers.  ¨It´s an attempt to bring together the Costa Rican and Indian people.¨

For the first time in Costa Rica the event, hosted by Asociación Costa Rica India, will offer an open invitation to the public. The previous celebration used to only involve a few Indian families, Kapil Gulati, an organizer, said. Usually Hindu attire is required, but, due to scarcity, 
formal clothes will be allowed.

The festival will begin at 4 p.m. and start with speeches, followed by a cultural show of 10 to 15 performers. Prayers will be offered, then traditional Indian food will be served and wrapup at 7 p.m.

Celebrated once a year, the religious holiday marks the entrance to the Hindu new year, and, Manchanda said, is one of the most significant and joyous nights of the year. Diwali means to understand and reflect upon the significant purpose of each of the five days of festivities, lighting the lamp of knowledge within participants and bringing those thoughts in to day-to-day lives, Manchanda said.

No more than 150 people will be able to attend. Those who wish to attend are asked to say so to board@crindian.org.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 212

Money laundering put at $1.6 trillion a year in U.N. report
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Criminals may have laundered around $1.6 trillion in 2009, one fifth of that coming from the illicit drug trade, according to a new report by the U. N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

The $1.6 trillion represents 2.7 per cent of global gross domestic product in 2009, says the agency. This figure is in line with the range of 2 to 5 per cent of global gross domestic product previously established by the International Monetary Fund to estimate the scale of money-laundering.

The report, entitled “Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime”, also says that the interception rate for anti-money-laundering efforts at the global level remains low.

Globally, it appears that much less than 1 per cent of illicit financial flows are currently being seized and frozen.

“Tracking the flows of illicit funds generated by drug trafficking and organized crime and analyzing how they are laundered through the world’s financial systems remain daunting tasks,” said Yury Fedotov, executive director of the drug agency. He delivered the report today in Marrakech, Morocco, during the week-long meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Convention on Corruption.

The report points out that dirty money promotes bribery and corruption, finances insurgency and, in some cases, terrorist activities. It also destabilizes and deters legitimate enterprise, foreign investment and development.

All criminal proceeds, excluding tax evasion, would amount to some $2.1 trillion or 3.6 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009, according to the report. Of this total, the proceeds of transnational organized crime, such as drug trafficking, counterfeiting, human trafficking and small arms smuggling, would amount to 1.5 per cent of global gross domestic product, 70 per cent of which would likely have been laundered through the financial system.

The illicit drugs trade, which accounts for half of all transnational organized crime proceeds and one fifth of all crime proceeds, is the most profitable sector, the report notes.

The report focused on the market for cocaine, probably the most lucrative illicit drug for transnational criminal groups. Traffickers’ gross profits from the cocaine trade stood at around $84 billion in 2009.

While Andean coca farmers earned about $1 billion, the bulk of the income generated was in North America ($35 billion) and in West and Central Europe ($26 billion). Close to two thirds of that total may have been laundered in 2009, said the report.

The findings suggest that most cocaine-related profits are laundered in North America and in Europe. The main destination to process cocaine money from other subregions
Tica Bus find
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
This is one of the bags agents found.

Preventative detention sought
for bus drivers with $606,000

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Prosecutors in Ciudad Neily will seek six months preventative detention in a court hearing this morning for two TicaBús drivers who face money laundering allegations.

The Policía de Control de Drogas and the Fuerza Pública stopped the Panamá-bound bus Monday near the border and said they found two bags containing about $600,000 hidden in a small compartment. The Poder Judicial said Tuesday that the amount was $606,000.

The Poder Judicial identified the drivers Tuesday by the last names of Arce Meneses and Blanco Montenegro. Agents said that they are assuming that the money represents the proceed of a narcotrafficking operation.


is probably the Caribbean, it said.


The report says that for drug-related crime, there tends to be a significant re-investment of illicit funds into drug trafficking operations which have major negative implications for society at large.

Once illegal money has entered the global and financial markets, notes the U.N. drug agency, it becomes much harder to trace its origins, and the laundering of ill-gotten gains may perpetuate a cycle of crime and drug trafficking. 

The “challenge is to work within the U.N. system and with member states to help build the capacity to track and prevent money-laundering, strengthen the rule of law and prevent these funds from creating further suffering,” said Fedotov.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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For your international reading pleasure:

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 212

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Generation xers are found
to be mainly happy achievers


By the University of Michigan news service

They’ve been stereotyped as a bunch of insecure, angst-ridden, underachievers.  But most members of generation x are leading active, balanced, and happy lives, according to a long-term University of Michigan survey.

“They are not bowling alone,” says political scientist Jon D. Miller, author of “The Generation X Report.”  “They are active in their communities, mainly satisfied with their jobs, and able to balance work, family, and leisure.”

Miller directs the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the university's Institute for Social Research.  The study, funded by the National Science Foundation since 1986, now includes responses from approximately 4,000 gen xers – those born between 1961 and 1981.

“The 84 million Americans in this generation between the ages of 30 and 50 are the parents of today’s school-aged children,” says Miller.  “And over the next two or three decades, members of generation x will lead the nation in the White House and Congress.  So it’s important to understand their values, history, current challenges and future goals.”

The first in a new quarterly series of generation x reports describes how gen xers are faring in terms of employment and education; marriage and families; parenting; community involvement and religion; social relationships; recreation and leisure; digital life; and happiness and life satisfaction.

Among the many findings:

• Compared to a national sample of all adults, gen xers are more likely to be employed and are working and commuting significantly more hours a week than the typical U.S. adult, with 70 percent spending 40 or more hours working and commuting each week;

• Two-thirds of generation x adults are married and 71 percent have minor children at home;

• Three-quarters of the parents of elementary school children say they help their children with homework, with 43 percent providing five or more hours of homework help each week;

• Thirty percent of generation x adults are active members of professional, business, or union organizations, and one in three is an active member of a church or religious organization;

• Ninety-five percent talk on the phone at least once a week to friends or family, and 29 percent say they do so at least once a day.

“In sociologist Robert Putnam’s influential book, “Bowling Alone,” he argued that Americans were increasingly isolated socially,” says Miller.  “But this data indicates that generation x members are not bowling alone.  Although they may be less likely to join community-based luncheon clubs, they have extensive social, occupational, and community networks.  They are active participants in parent-teacher organizations, local youth sports clubs, book clubs, and other community organizations.”

In addition, Miller points out, nearly 90 percent of generation x adults participated in at least one outdoor activity, such as hiking, swimming, boating or fishing, and 40 percent engaged in two or more recreation and leisure activities per month.

On the cultural side, 45 percent of the generation x adults surveyed reported attending at least one play, symphony, opera, or ballet performance during the preceding year, and 13 percent said they had attended three or more cultural events during the last year.

“Generation x adults are also readers,” notes Miller.  “Seventy-two percent read a newspaper, in print or online, at least once a week, and fully 80 percent bought and read at least one book during the last year.  Nearly half said that they read six or more books in the last year.”

Finally, Miller reports, generation x adults are happy with their lives, with an average level of 7.5 on a 10-point scale in which 10 equals “very happy.”

“That is not to say that some members of this generation are not struggling,” says Miller.  “And in future issues of the generation x report we will address some of the challenges many members of this group are facing.”

The second “Generation X Report” will be issued in January on the topic of influenza. Using data collected during the 2010 influenza epidemic, the January report will explore how young adults kept abreast of the issue and what actions they eventually took to protect themselves and their families.  Subsequent reports will cover food and cooking; climate, space exploration, and citizenship and voting.


U.N. again votes for U.S.
to end embargo of Cuba


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The U.N. General Assembly today renewed its call, for the 20th consecutive year, for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba for the past half century.

In a resolution adopted by 186 votes in favor to two against (Israel and the United States and three abstentions (Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau), the Assembly reiterated its call to all states to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures not conforming with their obligations to reaffirm freedom of trade and navigation.

It also urged them to repeal or invalidate such laws and requested the secretary general to report on the implementation of the resolution at the assembly’s next session, which begins in September.

Introducing the text, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, foreign minister of Cuba, stated that the United States has never hidden the fact that the objective of the embargo – which he said has caused more than $975 billion in damage to the Cuban people – is to overthrow his country’s government.

“What the U.S. government wants to see changed will not change,” he stated, declaring that the Cuban government will continue to be “the government of the people, by the people and for the people.

“Our elections shall not be auction sales. There shall not be $4 billion electoral campaigns nor a parliament supported by 13 per cent of voters,” he added.

The U.S. representative, Ronald Godard, said that for yet another year, the assembly is taking up a resolution designed to confuse and obscure.

“But let there be no confusion about this: the United States, like most member states, reaffirms its strong commitment to supporting the right and the heartfelt desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future.

“And let there be no obscuring that the Cuban regime has deprived them of this right for more than half a century,” he stated.

Godard added that the economic relationship between the United States and Cuba is a bilateral issue and is not appropriately a concern of the assembly.

“The embargo represents just one aspect of U.S. policy towards Cuba whose overarching goal is to encourage a more open environment in Cuba and increased respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, principles to which this organization is also dedicated,” he said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 212

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Latin America news
tree cutting
Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo photo
These trees were cut to create agricultural land.

Environmental tribunal lists
cases of destruction in Osa

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Development and agriculture are having a destructive effect on the Humedal Nacional Térraba-Sierpe and vicinity, according to the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo. Investigators inspected the area in late August through Sept. 2.

A statement from the Tribunal Tuesday said that 16 representative cases were found that typified the problem. The Tribunal cites cases where rivers were dredged and the silt piled up on the land and sometimes in protected mangroves. In one case, inspectors found a caiman tied up and ready to become dinner for workers on an agricultural plantation, they said.

José Lino Chaves, president of the Tribunal, also blamed harmful agricultural practices involving the grazing of cattle, rice cultivation, oil palm production and sugar cane.

In some cases, rice was planted too close to river banks and other types of vegetation were destroyed to provide areas for planting oil palms, he said.

The inspectors also found trees cut, mangroves destroyed and fumigation practices that polluted areas. In one case a developer constructed a sidewalk from the project to a waterway, something that is not permitted.

In addition to the Humedal Nacional Térraba-Sierpe other areas inspected were around the Reserva Forestal Golfo Dulce, Ciudad Cortés, Palmar and Los Mogos on the Osa peninsula.

Rather than listing charges that will be brought against developers and farmers, Chaves asked for help from other governmental agencies to keep track of developments in the area and to mitigate the environmental damage.

However, action before the tribunal in the 16 cases that were cited are likely. Included are six major developments. The Tribunal has the power to hold hearings and assess fines. The agency also can freeze construction or farming.

ready for dinner
Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo photo
Animal was tied up by farm workers who were going to slaughter it for food, the Tribunal said.





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