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(506) 2223-1327        Published Friday, Oct. 31, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 217       E-mail us
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Three held in casino murder case
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Posted at 7:05 p.m.)
The director of the judicial police said Friday that his agents have detained two men and a female minor in the murder of a hotel casino worker and the shooting of her sister and work companion.

The director, Jorge Rojas, described the two men as common criminals who killed for pleasure whenever someone resisted a robbery. He also said that in a raid and search his agents found a cell telephone that belonged to a victim who was gunned down in a similar crime in July.

Rojas characterized the crimes as random robberies. He was grilled at a 6 p.m. press conference by reporters who suggested that there were other motives behind the actions of the men.

The arrests came early Friday when agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization  raided three locations in the western community of Pavas. They raided the home of one suspect, the home of the other suspect's girlfriend and the home of a friend, said Rojas. One suspect was detained in his home and the other was captured in the center of San José, he added.

The crime took place early Tuesday as the three women left their work at the Jazz Casino in the White House Hotel high in the hills above Escazú centro. Two bandits intercepted the car in which the women were riding a short distance from the hotel and abducted them about 1:30 a.m.. The killers made one withdraw money from at an automatic teller and then took the women out of 
their vehicle individually, made them kneel and then shot them in the head.

Yerlín Marín Salazar, 24, a mother of a 6-year-old child, was the woman murdered by the bandits. Her body was found near dawn at a traffic circle in San Antonio de Belén.

The dead woman's older sister,  Arelis, 28, was  found wounded in the throat at a location near the Próspero Fernández highway. The companion, Angie Peraza Fernández, 25, was found about 2:30 a.m. in Alto de las Palomas de Heredia.

Miss  Peraza lost her right eye when a bullet passed through her head. Bandits thought they killed all of the women, but the two survivors provided police with much information.

Rojas said that the car agents believe was used in the crime still is missing. He asked for the help of the public in locating it. He said it was a white Hyundai with luxury wheels.

Rojas did not link the captured suspects to the murders of three couples in similar fashion earlier in the year. But he said investigators still have a lot of work to do.

Investigators also confiscated a shotgun and a 9 mm pistol as well as a bullet-proof vest during the raids.

Francisco Dall'Anese, the nation's chief prosecutor, attributed the quick arrests to a computer informational system police have been using that allows all investigators access to crime details.


Canadian missionary family
Home bandits spent hours taking nearly everything

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Canadian-Costa Rican family endured five hours at the hands of home invaders who even pulled a gun on the 82-year-old bedridden grandmother.

The crime started about 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the Duarte family home in San Isidro de Heredia, high in the mountainside north of San José.

First two gunmen jumped Nery Duarte, the husband, as he was unloading equipment from his vehicle. He is assistant operations director of the Cruz Roja and involved in search and rescue.

Quickly three more men arrived, and the five quickly brought the family under control, bound and gagged them and spent the next five hours sacking the house, according to Duarte. Held hostage were his wife, Pam, and children, Jonathan, 15, and Andrea, 13, as well as the grandmother, Margaret Ikonnu, he said. Initially the older woman thought that the bandits were some sort of Halloween stunt. The bandits let her remain in her bed.

When Duarte managed to get free, his only recourse was to call for help on a Cruz Roja radio that the robbers did not take. That brought the crime to the immediate attention of news outlets who monitor the frequencies. But Duarte said he
wanted to go public anyway to draw attention to the insecurity.

He lives in a fairly isolated area which is why the bandits could spend hours removing items that Duarte said are worth about $60,000. The replacement value is much higher, he said. The intruders made three trips to carry away all they could, and they even took Duarte's socks, he said.

Also taken were the vehicle, a motorcycle and even the daughter's books and school uniform, said an e-mail circulated about the crime.

Among the stolen items also were three computers that were going to be donated to a Bible school as well as relief supplies for victims of recent tropical storms, the e-mail said.

In his day job, Duarte works as a counselor at an addiction center in Hospital Clinica Biblica. He is associated with Latin America Mission Canada and had been in Costa Rica as a missionary for 15 years. He lived for years in Canada and his wife is from Montreal, he said, noting they both had worked for World Vision Canada.

The invasion at the Duarte home was the latest in a continual wave of such crimes that have hit middle class and upscale homes. Many of the crimes have been in the Santa Ana, Escazú and Curridabat areas.


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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 217

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Calderón and wife stress his innocence in television ad
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In an unusual television appearance former president Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier declared his innocence and criticized the judicial branch which kept him in preventative detention for a year and in legal limbo for four years.

Calderón wants to run for president again, and the seven-minute paid spot he put on with his wife, Gloria Bejarano, was directed to citizens not the judiciary. The show only appeared on Channel 6. Channel 7 Teletica was instrumental in exposing allegations against Calderón and against former president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría in an unrelated case.

Calderón is a principal figure in a $39.5 million loan through which the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social purchased medical equipment from suppliers in Finland. Corporation Fischel, the drug and medical supply company, brokered the deal. An investigation developed when word of a $9 million commission leaked out and much of the equipment was determined to be unneeded.

Rodríguez faces investigation over a telecommunications contract with Alcatel, the firm that has done cellular telephone business with the
Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

Several times in his television appearance Calderón referred to honorariums that he had received legitimately in his occupation as a lawyer.

This, presumably, will be a major part of his defense when his trial starts Monday.

Both Calderón and his wife praised the independence of the judicial panel that will try the case. The former president promised to provide proof of his innocence and lamented the passage of "four very hard years."  He said his detention was unjustified.

The two speakers were supplemented by photos of Calderón in prison and his wife visiting him at La Reforma in Alajuela. He has been out of prison since March 23, 2005.

Costa Rica, Calderón said, is the only country in the world that jails an ex-president for investigation without trial and without an accusation.

But in his trial, truth will supplant lies, he said. He was president from 1990 to 1994. He is the son of Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, one of the famous figures in the country's history.


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Poverty statistics are not
what officials wanted


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Politicians who cloak themselves in statistics sometimes are bitten by the same data.

Such it is with the poverty figures released Thursday by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos. Last year President Óscar Arias Sánchez was crowing because the number showed a reduction in poverty from 2006.

This year the same survey shows that poverty has increased a single percentage point in the country.

Other countries use similar statistics for employment, consumer confidence, diet and a wide range of social aspects. All are based on surveys.

In Costa Rica the statistics institute works in a big way. Each July more than 170 persons work six days a week to conduct 14,000 surveys all over Costa Rica. Then the reports are accepted as if a census had been conducted instead of a probability survey.

So as some other newspapers are reporting today, the poverty figure, which the institute set at 17.7 percent of the nation's homes is well within the error margin for the numbers released last year. In other words, no one can say if poverty increased, went down or stayed the same within a small range.

The survey also asked about victimization and technology and communications.

The survey also reported a 1.7 percent increase in the workforce, some 32,000 persons and an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent up from 4.6 percent the year before, also well within the error range.

Despite the math, Casa Presidencial released a statement that said the social programs instituted by the current administration kept poverty from going higher.


Our reader's opinion
Man with a family here
concerned by crime trend


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I must say that for the very first time I am very troubled by the new, violent trend in the San José area.

Over the past several years I have traveled often on the "bus rojo" to the airport or Alajuela. In fact sometimes I use it when I am traveling to the airport to return to Florida. I never once feared that the bus might be boarded by robbers who would not hesitate to shoot people.

I suppose I had a false sense of security. When I owned my home/B & B on the road to Carizal, my domestic worker traveled daily on this same bus to come to work (transferring to a different bus once in Alajuela of course). I never thought of the possibility that this young Tica mother was in danger.

The article about the shootings of the three women leaving the hotel/casino in Escazu also strikes home. While I have only been there once, I have many Gringo friends that go there regularly, and I am sure they have felt secure. This seems to be local people preying on other locals, not targeting tourist. Of course my heart and sympathy goes out to these young women and their families.

The greater question is "What is the National Government, as well as local officials in the different areas of these crime sprees doing to stop this?" The Green Season is about to begin, and travel dollars are tight due to the economics melt-down throughout the world.

I believe Oscar Arias personally needs to address this as if it were any pending economic crisis. Is this any less serious than a blight on the coffee or banana crops? After all the tourist industry is an engine that drives the Costa Rican economy.

In the past I have always felt and written to this paper defending Costa Rica, feeling that the tourist was often the cause of his own trouble. This, however, seems to be so much more serious.

The country seems to be spiraling out of control into a wave of violence and mayhem like many other Central American countries. I hope this can be stopped before the sanity and security is lost, as it will be nearly impossible to reestablish once gone. I have a wife and children in San José and am concerned as never before for their safety.
Patrick Mach
St Augustine, Florida,
and La Uruca

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 217

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Raid here connected with broker arrested in United States
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators raided the Centro Colón offices of a man who described himself as an expert in International Asset
Curshen
Jonathan R. Curshen
Protection and hauled off computers and documents  Thursday at the request of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Poder Judicial said that the firm was Organización Red Sea/Sentry Global, which is made up of Red Sea Management, Sentry Global Trust, Sentry Global Securities and Global Financial Logistics.

A principal in Red Sea is Jonathan R. Curshen, 43, who lives in both Costa Rica and Sarasota, Florida. He is one of two men facing a criminal stock
manipulation charge in the United States.

According to a complaint that was filed Sept. 4 Curshen and a Maintland, Florida, man identified as Bruce Grossman, 50, schemed to defraud investors in Industrial Biotechnology Corp. common stock by paying secret cash kickbacks to an undercover FBI agent, who was posing as a middleman willing to recruit corrupt stockbrokers.

The U.S. Security Exchange Commission, the stock regulating agency, filed a civil complaint to enjoin the pair from illegal activities, to force them to surrender any money they may have made and assess a money penalty.

The civil complaint alleges that beginning in at least June 2008, Grossman and Curshen engaged in an undisclosed kickback arrangement with an individual who claimed to represent a group of registered representatives with trading discretion over the accounts of wealthy customers.

Unbeknownst to Grossman and Curshen, the individual actually was an undercover FBI agent, and Grossman and Curshen promised to pay a 2 percent kickback to the agent and the registered representatives he purported to represent in exchange for the purchase of up to $3 million of Industrial Biotechnology Corp. stock through the customers' accounts, said the complaint.
The civil complaint further alleges that from June 27 to July 2 Grossman and Curshen instructed the agent to purchase approximately 85,000 shares of Industrial Biotechnology Corp. stock for a total of approximately $76,000 through matched trades using detailed instructions concerning the size, price and timing of the purchase orders. Thereafter, Grossman and Curshen paid bribes of almost $19,000 to the agent.

Such a deal would stick unknowing investors with overpriced stock.

The criminal complaint could mean five years in prison if the men are convicted, according to U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia in New York City, whose office is prosecuting the case. Both Grossman and Curshen are on bail, the U.S. attorney said.

The Poder Judicial press office said that the raid at 9 a.m. Thursday was conducted by the Fiscalía de Fraudes, agents of the Judicial Investigating Organization, the criminal fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI agents.

The press office said that the amount of the fraud is some $100 million, an amount that clearly puts the investigation in areas other than the stock manipulation. The offices are on the fifth and eighth floor of Edificio Centro Colón.

The press office also said that three persons were under investigation by the U.S. agencies. The press summary did not name Curshen specifically.

Shortly after the raid, the foreign ministry sent out a reminder that Curshen had been stripped of his privileges as a diplomat Oct. 8. He had been honorary consul in Costa Rica for the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. In fact, a former employee said that Curshen bragged that his diplomatic status would prevent any police raids of his offices.

Curshen is believed to have U.S. and British citizenships. He appears to be competent in self-promotions and announced on Red Sea's Web site that he wrote a book about obtaining a second passport for business reasons. His clientèle was almost exclusively from the U.S. and Canada, associates reported. Among other tasks his firm would create offshore corporations for foreigners. U.S. agents may have been in search of those records.


Quick vote next week expected on final free trade measure
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The executive branch is hoping to get a second and final vote on the intellectual property bill next week.

That was the estimate Thursday afternoon from Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, brother to the president and the minister of the Presidencia.

Rodrigo Arias was reacting to news that the Sala IV constitutional court had ruled there were no constitutional faults in the proposed law. The free trade treaty with the United States and other Central American states depends on passage of this and 12 other measures to align Costa Rica law to  what was promised in the treaty. All the other measures have become law.

"With this law the last project of the agenda of implementation will be voted, and, together with the approval of some regulations that depend on this law, it will be possible that the treaty will enter into effect next Jan. 1," Rodrigo Arias said.

His brother, the president, was attending a Latin summit in El Salvador.

Rodrigo Arias called on lawmakers, including those who oppose the trade treaty to let the country once and for all turn this page of its history.

The treaty, which also includes the Dominican Republic, was signed by representatives of all the nations more than four years ago. Costa Ricans narrowly approved it in a referendum Oct. 7, 2007. The idea of the treaty came from the George Bush administration.

The treaty has been divisive for the country. Aligned against it were employees of some of the state monopolies that have lost their exclusivity under the implementation laws. This includes the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the telecommunications and power generating entity. Also included is the Instituto National de Seguros, the former insurance monopoly.

Joining the public employees was a loose confederation of environmentalists, students, socialists and even some farmers. Some unions and anti-free trade groups opposed the treaty in the United States, too.
This country saw marches, road blockades, protests in front of the legislative assembly, thousands of examples of graffiti and other acts of protest.

The public debate was so shrilled and threats of violence so frequent that former president Abel Pacheco declined to send the treaty to the Asamblea Legislativa for ratification. He left that job for the Arias government.

As each piece of implementation legislation went to lawmakers, various groups protested. For example, twin pieces of legislation that provide for protecting ownership rights of new plant species provoked extended protests and more graffiti.

The Arias government managed to stitch together a two-thirds majority in the legislative assembly, but then had to change the rules for debate to avoid continual filibusters from opponents. And all of these changes underwent Sala IV constitutional court scrutiny.

The decision Thursday afternoon by the court was not unanimous. Two magistrates Gilbert Armijo Sancho and Fernando Cruz Castro said that the procedure that brought the measure to the court was constitutionally flawed.

The same bill had been there before. The magistrates found at that time that there were unconstitutional sections and that the government had overlooked a requirement to consult with native groups that was demanded by international treaty.

That decision meant that the country would miss an Oct. 1 deadline to approve the implementation legislation.

Óscar Arias was forced to ask for another extension from the other nations that are parties to the treaty. The extension goes until Jan. 1.

Then lawmakers took the offending sections out of the measure to sidestep the constitutional issue. Some 14 opposition lawmakers, as is their right, again referred the measure to the Sala IV for a constitutional opinion. And that was what resulted in the decision Thursday.

The measure is  "Ley de Reformas de Varias Normas que Regulan Materias relacionadas con la Propiedad Intelectual" and the number is 16.955.



Here is one vote for Obama and the promised change
The management of A.M. Costa Rica, has endorsed John McCain for president.  The editor has graciously offered me my say on my choice.

Please, everyone who has not already voted, do so between now and Tuesday.  How can we peacefully convince other countries that voting is one of the great privileges of a democracy, if so few of us bother to do it?

I am voting for the Democratic candidate Barack Obama.  Being something of an intellectual elitist but not an egotist, I prefer someone who has common sense, is intelligent, and even well educated to lead my country, but I do not want someone "just like me" in the White House.  There is no way, even with a six-pack in one hand and a plunger in the other that I could handle and solve the problems that the next president of the United States will be inheriting. Obama’s smooth management of his well-organized nationwide campaign tells me he will make a fine executive.

As for Obama being a socialist, I find it interesting that when the government gives large sums of money to the financial institutions on Wall Street it is called a bailout or a rescue plan.  And it is generally accepted as okay that these same institutions have privatized their profits (that’s good capitalism) and are now socializing their losses (sharing them with taxpayers). When a bailout or rescue plan is aimed at the out-of-work middle classes and the poor, some of whom have lost their homes as well as their jobs, it is labeled welfare or socialism.  Yet these are the people who are also called consumers and upon whom, according to the government, a good portion of our GDP is dependent. 

This week the stock market enjoyed its second biggest point gain in history while at the same time consumer confidence was at its lowest point in 41 years.

This may bode well for well-heeled investors, but not for the nation’s economic recovery.

I have lost faith in trickle down; actually never had much faith in it because it assumes that big business has a big heart and the best interests of the little guy in that big heart. Even Mr. Greenspan has admitted that his theory of the self-regulatory abilities of Wall Street was overly optimistic.
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

Our country is not going to be rescued even if the banks once again are willing to lend money to individuals if those individuals don’t have jobs and can’t pay them back.  I support Mr. Obama’s idea of putting rescue money into building the infrastructure of the country, including the new infrastructure necessary for alternative energies.  This investment will produce jobs and make the U.S. more inviting for businesses to establish themselves. The result will be employment and consumers (hurray) to save our economy.

I favor Obama’s health plan.  I have been living in a country that has medical coverage for everyone. It works, even though the system is very much in debt.  I would rather my country went into debt over caring for its sick than because it is fighting badly planned preemptive wars, of which the legacy will be to add to the those in dire need of medical care.

Businesses do not leave the U.S. because of taxes, but because they can pay lower wages in other countries and pay less for health care for their employees thanks to "socialized" medicine.

Obama and General Petreus are right. We should talk to our enemies.  This attitude alone is going to make us more friends around the world. A cool head, not a fast draw is needed in international relations.  Most modern civilized countries have rejected war as a solution.  I hope Obama works with the Iraqi government to withdraw our troops – the sooner the better, in my opinion.

When it comes to social issues, I am a liberal.  I do not believe that all people are created equal, but I do believe they should be equal under the law. 

And finally, I think it is time for a change, to try something new. I don’t want us to keep doing what we’ve been doing, hoping that more and more of the same will finally work.  Surges are not all-purpose solutions.



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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 217


Justice sometimes has to take a hike on the native reserves
By Elyssa Pachico
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The judicial courts based in the Bribrí native reserve remain difficult to access, challenging the officials who are trying to bring more judges, lawyers and open hearings to one of the poorest areas of the country.

“We have to walk up to five days into the mountains before arriving at the scene of a crime, meaning more often than not we have to camp outside,” said Asdrúbal Mora Lopez, an agent with the Judicial Investigating Organization who works in Bribrí. “It's survival, because we're playing with our lives facing threats like scorpions, spiders, serpents; as well as traveling by boat, horseback, walking, clearing pathways and crossing rivers.”

The judicial courts serve three native communities: the Bribrí reserve, based in the southern parts of the Talamanca cantón in the Provincia de Limón, and the Cabécar and the Suretka reserves, based in the north. Officials say it is common for residents to walk up to five days through mountainous jungles before arriving at the courts. Bad roads and an abundance of small streams running into the Río Sixaola also create difficulties for drivers.

In order to give remote villages more accessibility to a court of law, judges and lawyers based in Limón and Bribrí tour the three native reserves every six months. These officials carry out inspections when necessary and also preside over open hearings and trials.
Geographical challenges aside, court hearings also present their own accessibility problems. Many defendants need translators to interpret for them in either Spanish, Bribrí or Cabécar.

Nevertheless, officials say that residents have been taking full advantage of the courts when they can.

“It's been a very interesting experience,” said Carlos Porras Castro, a judge who coordinated the last of these expeditions this October. “We're very satisfied that the majority of any legal trials are resolved and there are very few cases which are suspended.”  

Ericka Leiva, a judge from the family and juvenile court in Limón, said that touring these rural areas was a way for the Judicial Investigating Organization to serve those who otherwise would be unable to access a court of law.  “It's making our work go beyond our desks, and giving people authentic, quick access to justice,” she said.

The Judicial Investigating Organization is also trying to increase its presence in these areas through a DNA research project, recording the genetic history of members from the Suretka and Bribrí communities. 

The study is conducted by Limon's family and delinquent court, the Juzgado de Familia y Penal Juvenil, and governmental organization Patronato Nacional de la Infancia.


Lawmakers give preliminary OK to tax on 'luxury' homes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers approved on first reading Thursday an Arias administration plan to impose an extra tax on so-called luxury homes.

The measure sailed through the full legislature unopposed. The funds generated by the extra tax are supposed to be used to eliminate slums but uncertainty exists over exactly how much would be raised.

In the original draft of the bill homeowners had the responsibility of appraising their own dwellings.

The tax would be imposed for 10 years under the final version, according to a legislative summary.

The tax is progressive, and does not apply to dwellings
valued under 100 million colons, about $180,000 at the current rate of exchange. The rate begins at a quarter percent on homes worth 100,000,000 to 250,000,000 colons.

The owner of a home valued at 249,000,000 colons or about $450,000 would pay at the same rate. The tax would be about $1,130.

The rate increases at 150,000,000 colons to .3 percent. The highest bracket is for homes of 1.5 billion colons which would pay at a rate of .55 percent.

Churches, public buildings and a host of other facilities are exempted.

To become law the measure has to be approved one more time on a non-consecutive day. President Óscar Arias Sánchez proposed the tax, so he is certain to sign the bill.


Health ministry offices raided in Bribri in extortion probe
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The prosecutorial staff based in Bribri and investigators searched the offices there of the Ministerio de Salud as part of a probe of three health employees on an extortion allegation.

The Poder Judicial announced the raid and said that the allegations were against an inspector, a physician and a secretary working in the ministry. The investigation began Tuesday when a business operator in Cahuita complained that he was being offered a health permit in exchange for $3,000. Such permits are required for business locations.

Agents arrested the inspector in a Cahuita hotel where he was supposed to make the deal, the Poder Judicial said.
  Investigators and a judge had marked the banknotes before the transaction, the Poder Judicial said.

The secretary came into the hands of investigators at her office in the ministry in Bribri and the physician was detained at his office in Limón, the Poder Judicial said.

The case, a felony or delito, was aired before a judge in the II Circuito Judicial de San José Thursday, and prosecutors were seeking preventative detention for some of those involved.

The allegation is of concusión, which is defined in Costa Rican law as a public official taking something or a benefit so that the official or a third party would do something to benefit the person giving the object or benefit.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 217



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.


México says it will buy back
bonds to set cash free


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

México moved to inject cash into its financial markets Thursday, saying it will buy back $3 billion in government bonds.

Mexican finance officials made the announcement Thursday, saying the country will buy back the 10- to 30-year fixed rate bonds in order to strengthen liquidity in the cash-squeezed markets.   Word of the plan caused Mexico's peso to strengthen, trading at 12.7 to the dollar. 

Separately, México is being helped by a "swap" accord with the U.S. central bank. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it will provide $30 billion in credit to the central banks of Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and Singapore to help those countries deal with the global credit crisis.

Brazil's Ibovespa stock index rallied Thursday on the Fed's announcement.

Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund said it was creating a new loan program to quickly get money to emerging markets with sound economic policies that face cash shortages due to the financial crisis.

The Fed responded by saying it was supportive of the monetary fund's role in helping countries address and resolve their ongoing economic and financial difficulties.

Peruvian miners protesting
cut in copper mine revenues


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Angry Peruvians have demonstrated in the southern Tacna province to protest the government's adoption of a bill that will mean fewer mining revenues for the area.

Officials say some demonstrators Thursday blocked the Pan American highway linking Peru and neighboring Chile, while others set fire to a government building or hurled rocks at Chilean authorities at the border. As many as seven Peruvians were arrested.

Earlier this week, protesters rallied in Peru's Moquegua province near Tacna to demand a bigger share of regional copper mining revenues. Authorities say the demonstrators blocked a bridge and took at least three police officers captive. At least 10 people were reported injured during clashes between protesters and police.

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