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(506) 2223-1327        Published Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 216       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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Sala IV says last treaty measure is constitutional
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(posted at 5:45 p.m.)
The Sala IV constitutional court said Thursday that the revised intellectual property bill does not contain any sections that are unconstitutional.

The decision taken at 4 p.m. and announced immediately opens the door to the second and final vote on the proposal in the legislature. This is the last piece of enabling legislation that Costa
Rica had to pass in order to bring the free trade treaty with the United States into force.

A final vote could be held as soon as lawmakers get official notice of the court's decision.

The intellectual property provisions cover trademarks, designer clothes, CDs, DVDs books, sofiware and other copyrighted and patented articles.

Magistrates throw out three-year wait for a divorce
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The constitutional court has done away with two marriage rules that have caused pain and suffering for hundreds of expats and Costa Ricans.

The rules are those that required a three-year wait after a marriage for the couple to obtain a divorce. A second section, also thrown out, required a two-year wait for a couple to get a legal separation.

The Sala IV constitutional court made the decision unanimously Wednesday morning, and the ruling became public later in the day when the Poder Judicial sent out a press notice.

Both sections that were overturned are in the Código de Familia, the nation's family code. The first, section 7 of article 48 prohibited divorce until a couple had been married for three years. The second, article 60, prohibited a legal declaration of separation until two years had past.

The divorce requirement was a major burden for expats who might have been carried away in the emotions of the moment and then quickly found themselves abandoned but without legal recourse for three years.

The ruling also is good news for foreigners who managed to obtain Costa Rican residency through fake marriages, often to down-and-out citizens. Now after they have received the benefits of being married to a Costa Rican, they can dump the
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fake spouses and move on with their life.

The divorce ruling covers those couples who wish to break up with mutual consent.

The case came to the court in an appeal filed by a man identified as Mariano Castillo Bolaños.

Moving on with one's life was a theme in the appeal directed to the court. There is no reasonable basis to establish these periods and they affront human dignity and they are unjust, said the appeal.  The appeal also suggested that by obligating a man to stay in a union that does not exist and is not desired the woman is exposed to possible aggression.

Abducted women were sexually abused then shot
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The family of Yerlin Marín Salazar, 24, buried her Wednesday as the story began to unfold of the horrors two armed men inflicted on the woman, her sister and her fellow casino worker.

Meanwhile, the two surviving woman are being guarded in hospitals. One, Angie Peraza Fernández, has lost her right eye where she was shot by one of the two men.

The survivors tell a tale of abduction, sexual abuse and then short trips where the two men took each in turn from their car and shot them in the head.

The women were employees of The White House Hotel's Jazz Casino, and they were abducted as they rode home from work less than a half mile from the job site. The hotel is high above San Antonio de Escazú and is frequented by wealthy expats and rich Costa Ricans.

The funeral Wednesday was in San Antonio de Desamparados where Ms. Marín was praised as a good woman and mother. She leaves a husband and a 6-year-old boy.

Investigators still are working on a motive. Vengeance has been considered as has the
possibility that the women were simply random victims.

The three women were taken to a hotel where they were molested, according to informal reports from investigators.  They have searched a hotel in Cariari. From there the men took the women to  San Antonio de Belén where one man dragged Ms. Marín from the vehicle, forced her to her knees and shot her in the head.

In their turn Ms. Peraza and then the dead woman's older sister, Arelis Marín Salazár, 28, were taken from the vehicle, made to kneel and then receive bullets. Ms. Marín survived because she was hit in the throat and not the head. Ms. Peraza survived, despite being shot in the head, because the bullet did not hit a critical spot although it did destroy the eye.

At one point during the journey of terror the men stopped and forced one of the women to withdraw money from an automatic teller machine.

Investigators have received a great deal of information from the women about their abductors, and Ms. Marín was moved to an undisclosed hospital Wednesday. Ms. Peraza appeared to have recovered sufficiently to discuss the crime with investigators. She is in Hospital México.

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drug arrest of Hurtado Serano
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y
Seguridad Pública press office
Santa Ana suspect with the last names of Hurtado Serrano is taken into custody.

Crack sales linked to bars
alleged in multiple raids

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug police conducted a series of raids Wednesday and arrested seven persons who, they alleged, were marketing crack cocaine at bars in downtown San José and one in the Provincia de Puntarenas.

In all, the Policía de Control de las Drogas conducted 12 raids, including searches at the bars El Marañón, La Principal,  El Senador and La Estrella. All are in the vicinity of Avenida 10 and Calle 5. They also raided a bar called El Pana in Punta Morales de Chomes, Puntarenas.   A restaurant, La Carreta, also at Avenida 10 and Calle 5 was raided.

All of these businesses are owned by a man identified by the last names of Hurtado Serrano. His upscale home in Santa Ana was raided, too, and he was taken into custody there along with his wife, who has the last names of Molina Ruiz.

The other five detainees were mostly those involved in transporting and preparing drugs, said the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

More than 3,300 crack doses prepared for sale were confiscated, agents said. Cash, nine automobiles and six firearms also were confiscated, said agents.

Some food establishments in the downtown really are outlets for crack cocaine. However, the scale of the operation attributed to Hurtado is unusual.

Gang dispute gets blame
for murder of woman Aug. 3

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Battling gangs in Pavas have been blamed for the driveby killing of a woman on the Circunvalación highway Aug. 3. The two gangs are the Polacos and the Diablos. Both are involved in drug sales, extortion and other crimes.

Killed was Odilia Salas Abarca, 44, who was on her way to San Sebastián reception center to see her jailed son. He is associated with the Polacos. Two men on a motorcycle fired at least eight times at the woman while she was in a car headed to the jail. That was in the southern San José community of Hatillo 8

Agents from the Judicial Investigating Organization and officials from the organized crime unit of the prosecutor's office raided a home early Tuesday in Lomas del Río in Pavas where they arrested two men who are being held on various murder and attempted murder charges. They are believed associated with the Diablos.

Agents said they confiscated weapons, a bulletproof vest aand hand-held radios.

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Assembly committee gives approval to organized crime bill
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative commission Wednesday reported out a proposed law that is designed to attack organized crime. A short time later the Poder Judicial announced that the proposal contains all the revisions sought by Francisco Dall'Anese Ruiz, the nation's chief prosecutor.

The proposed law would cover crimes where three or more persons are involved where the penalty is four years or more in prison.

The thrust of the bill is to give investigators more tools to confront street gangs, kidnappers, serial killers, hit men, drug traffickers and money launderers.

One tool is a wiretapping provision that sets out special
procedures. The proposal also allows the state to intervene and confiscate money held by private persons that appears to be much greater than justified by economic activity. The proposal also would authorize a computerized set up so that police and investigators all over the country could read about cases elsewhere.

The proposal also authorizes a special commission to be activated during critical events.

Lawmakers said that this bill, along with revisions of the penal code and another measure for the protection of witnesses will go a long way toward helping police dismantle organized crime rings.

The next step for the bill is consideration and debate by the full Asamblea Legislativa.

A paramedic and medical workers at the Hospital Nacional de Niños move a wounded 12-year-old from a helicopter after an emergency flight from Talamanca.
Helicopter in Paseo Colón
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública press office

Flight to save girl uses Paseo Colón as a landing spot
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police had to call in a helicopter early Wednesday morning in order to save the life of a 12-year-old girl, shot accidentally in the head the day before in a remote native community in Talamanca.

The helicopter landed Wednesday in the middle of Paseo Colón in San José so the girl could be brought to the Hospital Nacional de Niños nearby.

Known as Korobata, the native territory is located in one of the more mountainous regions of the canton. The Fuerza Pública was alerted to the shooting after the girl's brothers contacted them through radio, initially reporting that the girl had been fatally wounded. Police then began making
arrangements for transporting the body.

In fact, the girl was pronounced alive by a local schoolteacher who kept her in the local schoolhouse. Shortly after the girl's family told police that the shooting was fatal, the schoolteacher contacted the Fuerza Pública and told them the girl was still alive.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública then dispatched a helicopter and a paramedic from the Vigilancia Aérea to the rural community. The paramedic treated the girl inside the helicopter as she was transferred to San José.

Traffic was delayed on the Paseo Colón as the helicopter made an emergency landing there.

Limón community wins battle to get a water line installed
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In a decision released Tuesday, the Sala IV constitutional court ordered the Municipalidad of Limón to build a pipeline to an impoverished rural community that lacks drinkable water.

Residents of El Caribe filed a lawsuit against the local government complaining of malfunctioning septic tanks, as well as blocked pipes and polluted groundwater.

“Those that were in charge of the development of that area
  failed to include a functioning pipeline,” said Jorge Madrigal, Limón's regional director of waterlines and sewage systems. He added that the pipeline would be built and administered by the national water company, the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados

Many communities in Limón have filed similar complaints about polluted water.

On Oct. 17,  the water company announced it would invest 700 million colons (about $1.3 million) in building a new pipeline to Siquirres, which had faced similar shortages.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 216

Two-thirds of Latin youth say they suffer discrimination
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Over two-thirds of young people in Latin America feel they suffer discrimination, partly because so many are poor and under-educated, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Nations office for the region.

An average of 69 per cent of youths in Latin America said they have experienced discrimination, with over 20 per cent of those saying it had occurred because they were poor, the study finds. The report on the study launched at the Ibero-American Summit in El Salvador.

The “Youth and Social Cohesion in Ibero-America: A model in the making” report also noted that almost 11 per cent of young people in the region say they are discriminated against because they lack education.

“Those with the least probabilities of finishing high school are those youths whose parents didn’t conclude their formal education, those of indigenous and Afro-descendent origin,
those living in rural areas and those who enjoy less material well-being,” said the report, stressing that education as a means of mobility does not work for everyone.
 The study, published by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, nonetheless provided some optimism by pointing out that unemployment among youths has fallen across all income groups over the past decade.

Young people are also at the forefront of communications and knowledge, said the study, while warning that the digital gap based on socio-economic and educational differences is notorious.

The Ibero-American Summit is a yearly meeting of the political leaders of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of Europe and the Americas. Wednesday was the first of three days in El Salvador.

The Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth entered into force on 1 March this year, and includes a range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural protections for young people.

The rights detailed include the right to object to compulsory military service, the right to sexual education, to freedom of thought and religion, justice and shelter.

Billionaire puts up Web site to keep bailout players honest
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The worldwide financial crisis has presented a major challenge to the traditional news media at a time when competition is rising from Internet sites that are not limited by printing costs. A new Web site funded by a Dallas, Texas, billionaire is providing detailed information on the U.S government's financial rescue package, which has come to be called the bailout.

Traditional newspapers in the United States are cutting costs and staff as readership dwindles. Some, like the well-respected Christian Science Monitor, have decided to abandon their printed form and go totally online. One advantage to the online format is that it can narrowly focus on certain issues and provide in-depth coverage that would be too expensive for most printed media.

One example of this is a relatively new Web site called This no-frills site, with few graphics or pictures, deals in documents that reveal how the government is using the more than $700 billion recently approved by Congress to restore financial markets. The blog is the brainchild of Dallas, Texas, billionaire Mark Cuban, who is also its chief benefactor.

Day-to-day operations are run by Chris Carey, a former newspaper reporter.
"Mark basically dreamed up the site as a way to keep these government officials who are orchestrating all this honest, for lack of a better word. He believes that the only way to succeed is through transparency," Carey said.

But Cuban and his team have found that not all is transparent in the government's use of taxpayer money.

They have posted online documents with portions blacked out by government officials.

Carey says they want to know why parts of these transactions are being hidden from the U.S. public and they want to delve deeper into all aspects of the crisis.

"What we are going to be doing with the site is not cover the news as everyone else does," Carey said.  "There are enough other news organizations covering the basic mechanics of the bailout.

"We are going to be looking for stories that are going untold and looking to expose situations that perhaps some people would prefer to keep in the dark."

Carey says is a bare-bones operation now, but Mark Cuban hopes to expand it in the months ahead by hiring experienced reporters, some of whom have recently lost jobs in newspaper cutbacks.

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Colombia's Uribe fires army officers in wake of killings
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has fired at least two dozen army officers, including three generals, following an investigation into suspected executions initially reported as combat deaths.

Uribe made the announcement Wednesday, saying the probe found that members of the armed forces could have been involved in killings. The Colombian leader also said any violations of human rights cannot be allowed.

The comments followed public outcry over the deaths of 19 young men who disappeared several weeks ago from a poor Bogota suburb. Their remains were discovered recently in mass graves in the country's northeast. The civilians were originally declared to be rebels killed during fighting.

A day earlier, the human rights group, Amnesty
International, urged the United States and other nations to suspend military aid to Colombia until Colombia can guarantee its security forces are not engaged in civilian killings.

The developments also come as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, visits Colombia for the first time since assuming her post last month.

The U.N. says Ms. Pillay will be in Colombia for one week to review the situation there. She is expected to meet with Uribe and other politicians, members of the judiciary and civil society, and U.N. colleagues to discuss human rights concerns.

Colombia is mired in a long-running civil war that involves government forces, leftist rebels and rightist paramilitary forces. The violence has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people.

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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.

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.

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.

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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Carl Ripkin, baseball great,
plans visit to Nicaragua

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. State Department says baseball great Cal Ripken, Jr., will visit Nicaragua in mid-November in his role as an American public diplomacy envoy.

A statement issued Wednesday says Ripken will make the five-day trip with Nicaraguan native Dennis Martinez, who played with Ripken for the Baltimore Orioles.

During the trip, Ripken and his group will visit Managua, Leon and Granada. They will be involved in helping instruct more than 100 youth coaches and 500 Nicaraguan children on the game.

He and Martinez are expected to be in Nicaragua from Nov. 13 through 18.

Martinez — nicknamed "El Presidente" — won 245 games as a pitcher in 23 major league seasons, ending in 1998. Ripken retired in 2001 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last year. The shortstop played in a record 2,632 consecutive games between 1982 and 1998.

U.N. General Assembly votes again against embargo

For the 17th year in a row, the United Nations General Assembly has voted for a resolution urging the United States to lift its long-standing trade embargo against Cuba.

The non-binding resolution was approved Wednesday 185 to 3, with two abstentions. Last year, 184 countries voted in Cuba's favor.

Earlier this month, U.S. President George Bush vowed not to lift the embargo until Havana releases political prisoners. He said the policies in place are aimed at giving the Cuban people a chance to express themselves freely without fear of repression. Bush made his remarks in Florida, which is home to a large population of Cuban exiles.

The embargo has been in place for more than four decades. Cuba likens the embargo to genocide and says it has cost the island billions of dollars.

Cuba also says the embargo is a blatant, massive and systematic violation of Cubans' rights.

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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