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(506) 2223-1327        Published Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 214       E-mail us
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Pacific and Central Valley officially in transition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For many, the sweetest sound is the phrase "I love you." But in October in Costa Rica the three little words that caress the ear is "Dry season's coming."

And that was the word Monday from the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional. The nation's weather experts came out with a report that said the season was beginning to make the transition from rainy to dry. And for those struggling in the tourism business, dry season equals high season and more money.

The weather institute report said that the change in conditions is caused by the beginning of an intrusion of cold fronts into the Caribbean from North America. These generate moderate or strong winds and flip the season here. For the Central Valley, the Pacific coast the rain diminishes.

But for the Caribbean and the northern zone, the period from now until the end of February is more rainy.

The weather prediction said that the changeover would take from three to four weeks, more or less most of November. However, there is a catch. Although this transition period is arriving early this year, there still exists the chance of hurricanes and tropical storms from the Atlantic, said the weather institute. The hurricane season continues officially to Nov. 30.
clouds leaving

The U.S. Hurricane Center said Monday night that only one trouble zone exists in the Atlantic. That is a large area of showers and thunderstorms and low pressure about midway between Cape Verde Islands and the Lesser Antilles. This is expected to move northwest.

Because of the rotation of storms, the Pacific coast here usually is hit harder by bad Atlantic weather.

The weather institute reported that its staff would continue to evaluate conditions. Sometimes rain hangs on until Christmas or after.

If the prediction of an early dry season for the Pacific and Central Valley holds true, emergency officials will be relieved. Tropical Storm Alma pounded the country in late May, and there was one named storm after another that destroyed bridges, roads and other infrastructure and evicted thousands from their flooded homes.



Credit crunch costing jobs, chamber president says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The organization representing the nation's employers Monday demanded the loosening of credit by the Banco Central and the country's other financial institutions and said that 20,000 workers already had lost their jobs.

The group blamed financial restrictions with creating unemployment and lower production.

The organization, the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, designated two entities. They are the Consejo Nacional de Supervisión del Sistema Financiero and the Superintendencia de Entidades Financieras
 
Due to the world's financial crisis financial entities here have closed out lines of credit that already had been approved and shut down most lending. Many
companies depend on credit for their normal operations.

Manuel H. Rodríguez, president of the Unión de Cámaras, said that 20,000 workers had lost their jobs, mainly in the construction industry, and that he expected 40,000 more to lose their jobs in the next two months.

Construction projects are standing still all over the country.

Rodríguez said that there was a relationship between less credit and greater unemployment and said that the amount of credit extended this year was substantially less than last year.

Rodríguez blamed government officials for being interested only in keeping a low inflation figure and not in helping the companies that employ 90 percent of the nation's workforce.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 214

Costa Rica Expertise
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Noise at church and a bar
bring action by magistrates


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In Limón it was the noise coming from the members of an evangelical church that got the attention of the Sala IV constitutional court. And in Tarrazú the problem was  karaoke at a bar.

The court ordered health officials and officials of the Municipalidad de Limón to use technical resources to measure the level of the noise coming from the Iglesia Evangélica de Paraíso in Bananito and to determine at what hours the noise was at its loudest. The municipality was told to enforce an 8 p.m. quiet order.

The bar in Tarrazú was not identified, but some water problems also were cited in the decision. Health and municipal officials there were told to solve once and for all both the noise and the water problems. In both cases complaints were brought by neighbors and the court decisions were released by the Poder Judicial Monday.

Chile's president facing
a full agenda in visit here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Michelle Bachelet Jeria, the president of Chile, has a full agenda today in a quick visit to Costa Rica. She is on the way to a summit of Latin American leaders in El Salvador.

Ms. Bachelet will be visiting President Óscar Arias Sánchez, the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones, the Corte Suprema de Justicia as well as giving a keynote speech at a luncheon of business executives. An afternoon press conference will be televised live on Channel 13. She is the sixth female chief of state in South America and only the second to have gotten the job via elections.

Juvenile on trial today
for robbery and murder


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A minor goes on trial today in the Juzgado Penal Juvenil in San José in the robbery murder of a bicyclist April 1 in La Uruca. The defendant's name was not released.

The victim, Jorge Manuel Romero Romero, was riding his bike in the morning hours on the public right-of-way when two men stopped and tried to rob him.  They shot him in the chest and then made off with his bicycle.

Venezuelan ambassador
arrives and presents papers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new ambassador has arrived in Costa Rica from Venezuela.
Venezluelan Ambassador Pineda
Nelson Pineda Prada
He is Nelson Ramón Pineda Prada, who is an historian.

Pineda presented his credentials at the foreign ministry Monday. He is to do the same at Casa Presidencial next month.

He replaces Nora Uribe, who left Costa Rica in April.

Pineda has been Venezuela's ambassador in Paraguay and also served as alternate representative for Venezuela at the Organization of American States.

7  held in insurance scam
involving fake car accidents


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An employee of the national insurance agency, a former employee and an employee of the nation's prosecutorial agency are among the suspects in a complex scam that investigators said was designed to fake auto accidents. In all, seven person have been detained and placed in preventative detention.

Investigators said that there were 13 cases under investigation and that the amount of the fraud was about 26 million, which could be as much as $55,000 depending on the rate of exchange at the time. Investigators said that the scam originated in 2005.

Agents said that the scam consisted in presenting as a current accident documents from an earlier real accident. The insurance company, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, would pay off.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 214

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Environment minister defends decree on trees at gold mine
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The environmental minister went before lawmakers Monday to defend the administration's stand to allow lumbering on the site of the Crucitas gold mine in north Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, outside environmentalists tried to out shout residents of the impoverished area who want jobs.

The minister is Roberto Dobles, and he and President Óscar Arias Sánchez are being investigated by the judicial branch because they issued a decree Oct. 13 that said the mining project was in the interest of the nation.  The decree, when published in the La Gaceta official newspaper Oct. 17, gave the gold mining company Industrias Infinito S.A. the right to cut trees in areas where the open pit would be dug to extract gold-bearing material. The area being cleared is some 260 hectares or about 650 acres.

Dobles told lawmakers that the gold project had been in the works since 1991 and that permissions had been given in a number of stages. He is the minister of Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones. Much of the permitting has been done by an agency in his ministry, the Secretaria Técnica Nacional Ambiental.

Environmentalists have opposed the project aggressively, in part because they fear contamination of the nearby Río San Juan with the chemicals, such as cyanide that will be used to leach the gold from the rock.
The company estimates that it will be able to extract 700,000 ounces of gold over the life of the project. Dobles noted that the company has agreed to restore the land to its natural, reforested condition after the gold is removed. Depending on the market, the gross worth of the gold might be half a billion dollars.

The Sala IV constitutional court has frozen the work at the gold mine while it studies an appeal about tree-cutting there filed by an individual.

Dobles filed a number of questions from the full legislature. He said officials had respected all of the procedures for such projects and declared that the project, indeed, was in the national interest as he and Arias had said in the decree.

The mine site has mountain almonds (Dipteryx panamensis) growing there and some have been cut. The tree, called almendro amarillo in Spanish, can be the home of the great green macaw, a bird that is endangered in Costa Rica. In September the Sala IV issued an order prohibiting the cutting of such trees.

Opponents of the gold mine gathered in front of the building housing the Corte Supreme de Justica Monday morning and then moved to the Asamblea Legislativa on Avenida 2. At both sites residents of the gold mining region supported the project. 

Both groups carried signs and yelled comments.


Harley Davidson fan Bo Hanson operated restaurant here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Long time resident Fred “Bo” Hanson, known to the expat community in San José both for his love of Harley Davidsons and for frequenting the restaurant/bar in the Hotel Castillo, died last week in a motorcycle accident.
He was 56 and lived in San José with his wife, Alejandra Ximenez Pervas.

He is also survived by children from a previous marriage to Linda Hanson: his son Fred, 28, and daughters, Genesis, 32, Tiffany, 24, and Courtney and Abigail, both 8.

According to family members, Hanson was driving his motorcycle at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Mall San Pedro when a car stopped abruptly in front of him, in response to a traffic light. Hanson's vehicle struck the back of the car and he was thrown into the next lane, breaking his arm and a leg. He was killed when another car ran over him.

Hanson was born on Nov. 22,  1952, in Orlando, Florida, a state where he lived for most of his life. He worked in real estate, construction and sales, and was involved in building high-end condo residences such as the World Golf Village in St. Augustine.

He became a frequent visitor to Costa Rica in 2000, originally coming down on real estate-related business. While he never gained residency status, he settled in Costa Rica more or less permanently by 2005, traveling to San Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras by motorcycle when his three-month tourist visa expired. He married Ms. Pervas in 2007.

“He was just a happy guy who never had a bad attitude,” said his son, Fred Hanson. “If he was angry or upset, you'd never know.
On Feb. 1 Hanson became a partner at a The Garden, a restaurant-bar located in the Hotel Castillo on Avenida  9 between calles 9 and 11 and owned by his mother-in-law's husband, Tom Burnam. He struggled trying to turn the restaurant into a success.

“He was working real hard to get the bar going,” said Bob Steinhardt, a retiree who also knew Hanson from the bar scene. “He tried to create a membership program that customers could buy into. He was trying to get slot machines and gambling in here too, but that never worked out.” 

Even after the restaurant closed in August, due to what Burnam described as financial problems caused by a weakened U.S. economy, Hanson remained a familiar face at the bar.

“He was a big talker,” said Charlie Johnson, a frequent patron at the bar, called Las Palmas.

Burnam said that Hanson would frequently give away free meals from the restaurant's buffet table. For months, he fed a Colombian whose son had broken a leg in a car accident, and would sometimes invite prostitutes and down-and-out characters that he'd meet on the streets.

“Right before he died, a beggar on the street asked him for money to buy glasses, and, of course, he gave it to him,” said Hanson's wife. “Every time he saw that beggar again he kept asking him where the glasses were.”

A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Hanson's family home in Tibás, which is located 100 meters north and 100 meters east from the ice cream store Pops.

A service will then be held at the Iglesia Don Bosco.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 214


There is no surprise that telephones are the major features of this mural that  commemorates the 45 years of telecommunication history in the country. This site is near Plaza del Sol.
murals at cellular locations
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo

Murals are popping up to make walls around cell towers more neighborly
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The murals are more colorful that those that used to say "no al TLC" or unkind statements about national politicians.

The art works are showing up on locations where there are walls protecting cellular telephone towers, thanks to a program sponsored by the Instituto Costarricense del Electriciad.

The first mural to get an official blessing was at Plaza del Sol in Curridabat where officials visited Friday.
The telephone company hopes that the program will improve relations with neighbors of the cell sites and reduce vandalism.

Other murals have gone up in Sagrada Familia, the Mercado Borbón, San Sebastián and Y Griega and in San Antonio de Escazú. Another mural is planned for San Franciso de Dos Rios.

The work is being done by youngsters, seniors and even employees of the telephone firm, the company said in a release sent out Monday.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 214



A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

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.


Newspages
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.

Classifieds
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.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Statistics
A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.


Haiti to get U.N. farm aid
worth about $10.2 million


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two United Nations food agencies are putting together a $10.2 million package to help Haitian farmers devastated by recent hurricanes.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization made the announcement in a statement Monday. The agency says the aid, which includes a package for seeds and other supplies, should help small farmers whose harvests were wiped out earlier this year.

The statement also says the U.N.'s Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development, is providing the funding.

The U.N. also notes that Haiti has already been suffering severe food shortages due to rising food costs.

Separately, U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said Monday that more than 30,000 Haitians are still living in shelters and many lack access to food, clean water, and sanitation.

Holmes recently returned to the U.S. from a two-day visit to Haiti.

The U.N. has appealed for more than $107 million in aid for Haiti but has received only about 40 percent of that amount in pledges.


Pope Benedict plans visit
to Africa next March


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Benedict XVI announced Sunday he will make his first trip to Africa since becoming head of the Roman Catholic Church.

He said he will visit Cameroon and Angola in March.

The pope will attend the African Episcopal Conference in Cameroon to prepare for an upcoming gathering of bishops at the Vatican dealing with Africa.

He will travel to Angola to celebrate 500 years of evangelization there.

Pope Benedict made the announcement about his trip to Africa at the Vatican during the closing ceremony of a meeting of bishops from around the world.


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