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(506) 2223-1327         Published Monday, Nov. 1, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 215            E-mail us
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Readers offer aid to man ensnared in bureaucracy
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Steve Doyle of the small town of Volio struck a chord with readers when he outlined his problems in getting water for his small subdivision.  Dozens wrote letters. Some were short. Others offered the detailed possible solutions Doyle sought.

"My heart goes out to you and I empathize with your problems," said Mary Jay of Alajuela.  "I have lived in Costa Rica for 15 years and sold everything we had to move here to fulfill a dream of retiring to a simple life.  It seems to me that the power-hungry bureaucrats (and crooks) in this country try to frustrate a simple life more and more.

"Your situation has everything to do with Pura Vida and Latin (Costa Rican) versus Gringo way of doing things," said Phil Baker, who noted he had authored a book on the country. "If you do not have a business plan or strategy that prepares for incompetence and painfully slow processes, then you were inadequately prepared and perhaps mesmerized by salespeople with the 'just don’t say anything bad about Costa Rica' sales pitch."

A series of solid suggestions came from Jerry Werth, who runs Pura Vida Drilling and Well Service in Alajuela: "Costa Rica does not have a water shortage!!! Costa Rica has an infrastructure and government management shortage."

Doyle said the problem he faces was one of incompetence and lack of accountability.

Werth noted that the small local water companies, called asociaciónes operadoras de sistemas de acueductos y alcantarillado sanitario, are run by a local group of elected individuals.

"Most of these people are hard-working individuals that I’m sure are very good at their specific trade," he said. "Most however do not have the experience nor the technical training to make critical decisions regarding drinking water."

Doyle said he was trying to obtain water meters for a 10-acre subdivision not far from San Ramón. But since June his application has been bounced around from the local water association to the Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados in San José. He said only one person in the entire country has the authority to approve the hookups, which have been thoroughly engineered.

Werth suggested that as a last resort Doyle could put in a private well for each home or put in a private water system connected to each piece of subdivided property. "Two and sometimes up to four homes can be granted a legal concession to extract water from an individual well," he said. "Easy process, straight forward results."

He also suggested, among other options, that Doyle could drill a water well, set up a complete system and then donate it to the local asociación operadora de sistemas de acueductos.

"Costa Rica has very prolific aquifers," said Werth, who has drilled many wells. "There is not a water shortage. There are a lot of people that would disagree with me. Most cannot prove their cases and want to study the so called 'problem' relentlessly. It’s ridiculous that so many studies are required for extracting groundwater, but important regulations such as proper grouting of water wells, to prevent aquifer contamination or licensing for water well drillers does not exist in this country. Anybody can drill a well in this country. All you need is a machine. Resource management by capable people who are educated and experienced in domestic potable water systems is the solution to the problem."

Other readers responded with the names of individuals they thought could help. One said he had had the exact problem that Doyle outlined.

Doyle responded to the e-mails that editors forwarded to him and said:

"To those who think this is a Tico/Pura Vida thing are missing a critical point. We, as Americans, have many similar challenges in our own systems back in the States. Ask us why we came here. We tend to have short memories. The challenges may be different, but really not so much. Note the super high poll numbers when we are asked about our confidence in our own good ole U.S. government being able to function for us.

"Part of the answer, including my particular issue, is that to change things, you have got to care enough to get involved. It won't change if we go along to get along and don't hold ourselves and the process accountable."

He said that the newspaper could publish his e-mail address for direct contact:

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San Juan troop movements
are anti-drug, Ortega says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Nicaraguan military operation along the Río San Juan just north of Costa Rica is not related to dredging operations there but is an effort to suppress narcotics trafficking, according to Daniel Ortega, Nicaraguan president. The president was quoted in El Nuevo Dario of today.

Ortega also defended the dredging operation on the Río San Juan and said that all the activities were on Nicaraguan soil. This is something that has been shown not to be the case by photos of dredging sediment being dumped on the south bank of the river as well as an overhead radio message from Eden Pastora, the former Sandinista guerrilla in charge of the dredging who told his crew on the marine band that they were pumping onto Costa Rican territory.

Ortega also said that Costa Rica should not waste its time bringing Nicaragua into the World Court where river disputes have been settled. He prefers discussions with a binational commission that meets periodically to discuss river issues. But if Costa Rica did take the case to the World Court, it would lose because the land in question is Nicaraguan, he told the newspaper.

The fact is becoming clear to Costa Rican officials that Nicaragua seeks to create a new mouth of the river into the Caribbean. The proposed channel would take miles off the current route of the river which meanders and doubles back on itself before it reaches the sea.

The land involved is not particularly valuable, but it is the property of the Costa Rican government. The proposed channel would cut off a piece of Costa Rica and make it Nicaraguan because it would be on the north side of the river. The international boundary is the south bank.

The dredging is being promoted in Nicaragua as a economic blessing to the country because it will open up the river to more traffic. Costa Rican officials know the route of the proposed channel because Nicaragua workers chopped down trees for part of the distance. The proposed path can be seen clearly from air photos.

Ortega also told the newspaper that Costa Rica had not done enough to fight narcotics traffic along the river. Nicaraguan officials claim that they busted up a drug refueling operation at the extreme northeastern tip of Costa Rica. They still claim the land is Nicaragua even though the resident farmer identified it as Costa Rica.

Costa Rican officials are reported to be nervous about troop movements on the Nicaraguan side of the river. Even though heavily armed police were sent to the zone a week ago, many have returned home. In addition, should hostilities break out between the two countries, Costa Rica would be at a disadvantage because it has no air power.

Some also have suggested that Ortega is creating the border distraction for home consumption to enhance his image among voters. He seeks to run for a new term. The river situation is featured daily in most Nicaraguan newspapers.

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Police try not to show the face of suspects for constitutional reasons and also because the suspect may end up in a lineup. Hence, the man captured Sunday wears a towel.

Fugitive captured in Upala

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers Sunday detained a man suspected of the attempted murder of a rancher and his family in June. He was identified by the last names of Garcia Novoa.

The arrest was made in San José de Upala, and police said they found a .38-caliber revolver and 54 bullets. Garcia is suspected in the crime where someone threw a bomb at the home of a man in Santa Clara de Upala. The assailants also fired at the home.

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.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 215

Latigo K-9

The center of the tropical storm is a few degrees north of Costa Rica.
Tomas appreoches
U.S. National Hurricane Center/A.M. Costa Rica

Tomas weakens in Caribbean, and dry season is on its way
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Tomas has been downgraded to a tropical storm after reaching hurricane status and tearing off roofs, downing power lines and dropping up to 15 centimeters (6 inches) of rain across Barbados, St. Vincent and St. Lucia.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said at 10 p.m. Sunday that the storm is moving west and that maximum sustained winds have decreased to about 65 mph (100 kph) and that additional weakening is expected over the next 48 hours.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward some 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the center.

The storm was located well within the Caribbean and north of Venezuela. It is on a track that has a strong possibility of bringing heavy rains to Costa Rica, although the country has been lucky in that other storms this year have veered to the north without bringing damaging winds and rains to the country. The worst effects came from tropical waves and not hurricanes or tropical storms.

Tomas arrives in the news as the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional officially announced the beginning of transition from the rainy to the dry season. That took place Friday by
means of a press release. Nevertheless, the Atlantic hurricane season does not end officially until Nov. 30.

The weather institute said that a decrease in rain is likely in some regions of the country. The first to get relief from rain are the Central Valley and the north Pacific coast.
Still, the weather institute said that this week will continue to be typical of the rainy season.

The weather institute said that the transition period would be characterized by alternating days of rain and dry weather and an increase n the air pressure in the Caribbean.

The dry season is created by winds from the north, and sometimes these are chilly. The weather institute predicted at least four cold fronts would pass over the country by February.

The weather institute said that Guanacaste would see the dry season between Nov. 15 and 30.  The Central Valley would be two weeks later, from Dec. 1 to 15. The central Pacific will see the season arrive in the last two weeks of December and that the dry season will reach the southern Pacific coast in the last two weeks of January.

The weather institute said that these predictions had about a two-week margin of error.

Prosecutors seek to halt Guanacaste condo-hotel project
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A prosecutor has asked a judge to halt work on the Mar Serena condos in Santa Cruz. The project is being investigated for criminal environmental violations, said the Poder Judicial.

The location is near Playas Zapotillal and Nombre de Jesús in the district of Cabo Vela, Matapalo, said the Poder Judicial. A release Friday said the request came from the Fiscalía Adjunta Agrario Ambiental before the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda of the II Circuito Judicial.

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday where a representative of the developers, identified as Playa Pelícano Holdings SRL, is expected to appear. The prosecutors office is seeking the
work stoppage while the investigation continues.

In addition to condos, the project is supposed to include a five-star hotel. The Poder Judicial said that neighbors complained and that the prosecutors determined that a large area of trees had been cut down.

The investigation has widened to include the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental and the regional office of the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, said the Poder Judicial. These would be the offices responsible for issuing permits.

The prosecutor said that the violations alleged include extraction of minerals, perhaps gravel, at the site, said the Poder Judicial.

Amnet shuffles its cable television lineup, and some are irked
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Amnet Costa Rica will be changing its cable channels Tuesday, and some expats are unhappy because Fox news or other features will be moved to a location that will require viewers to pay more.

The company still offers channels 2 to 99 as the basic cable package, but the full list of stations available goes up to Channel 908. There also are 50 channels that are just music. Some stations are high definition.

Because the switch will be made Tuesday, it appears that Fox News fans will miss the network's reports on the U.S. congressional elections that are being held that day.
The premium news package includes Fox, BBC, CNN domestic, CNN Headline News and Bloomberg. However, sales agents for the cable provider were not taking orders Saturday. They said that the company had run out of the special converter boxes that allow televisions to receive a multitude of channels, both digital and analog.

The new lineup of television stations is available on the company's Web site, but there is minimal pricing information. Some packages are as low as 5,000 colons or about $10 a month.

The majority of new channels added to the basic package, which cost about $28, appear to be Spanish-language stations.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 215

Manual seeks to enhance knowledge of intellectual property

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three judges and a prosecutor have put together a manual for their colleagues to bring them up to speed on intellectual property laws and procedures. The work was supported by the U.S. Embassy.

The free trade treaty with the United States required the country to pass a stiff intellectual property law. Many of the violations are obvious on the streets.

There vendors sell illegal copies of music and videos, much of it from multinational firms like Sony. The law also covers counterfeit clothing and other consumer products.

The authors are civil judges Álvaro Hernández and Guillermo Guilá, criminal judge Marjorie Álvarez and prosecutor Ronald Segura, said the Poder Judicial. The manual grew out of a seminar 18 months ago among legal
experts from Argentina, El Salvador, Puerto Rico and the United States.

The manual will be available to all the employees of the Poder Judicial.  The manual contains five chapters, and even contains the relevant laws. The manual fills what officials feel is a gap in the knowledge of the judicial workers.

Violation of intellectual property laws, including trademark infringement is part of criminal activities that frequently involved illegal importation of materials, smuggling and tax fraud, said officials. However, at this time the Poder Judicial does not consider the operation to be handled by organized groups. Rather they are seen as crimes by independents, they said.

The intellectual property law is far-reaching and covers not only trademark infringement and counterfeiting of songs and videos but also copyright theft.

Country seeking more tourists at fair in Argentina

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's tourism institute and representatives of nine tourism operations are seeking customers in Buenos Aires. The country is represented in the Feria Internacional de Turismo there.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo said that about 44 percent of the 83,000 visitors to the Argentine fair are managers or owners of tour agencies. The country gets
about 18,000 to 19,000 tourists from Argentina each year, the institute said. The fair began Saturday and runs through Tuesday.

Being represented are Doubletree Resort by Hilton in Puntarenas, Travel Excellence, Hotel Balmoral, Discovery Travel, Hotel Ramada Plaza Herradura, Radisson Europa Hotel, Gray Line Costa Rica, Real Intercontinental Hotel & Club Tower and Costa Rica Sky Adventure, said the institute.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 215

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presdient elect of Brazil
Dilma Rousseff

Workers' party candidate
becomes Brazil's president

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire serices

Ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff won Brazil's presidential run-off election Sunday and vowed to continue the policies of the popular outgoing President Luiz Inacio da Silva.

Ms. Rousseff told supporters in a victory speech in the capital, Brasilia, that she will continue the current government's social welfare and economic policies.

Ms. Rousseff made the comment, shortly after she was declared the winner.

Brazil's high electoral tribunal said Ms. Rousseff of the Partido Democrático Trabalhista received 56 percent of the votes, while her opponent Jose Serra of the Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira had 44 percent.

Ms. Rousseff will be sworn in as president Jan. 1 as the country's first female president.  She replaces her political mentor, President da Silva.  The widely popular president is required to step down after serving two consecutive four-year terms in office.

Experts say the next president will face many challenges, including how to address high government spending and a recent drop in Brazilian exports.

Voters were also electing governors in several states Sunday.

For many voters, the election was seen as a referendum on President Lula and whether his leftist party should remain in power.

At one polling station in Sao Paulo, student Eduardo Castanho said he supports Ms. Rousseff.

Castanho said he wants to see the current party remain in power, adding that he disagreed with some of Serra's decisions as state governor.

Since President da Silva took office, spending has increased on social welfare programs, such as the popular family allowance program aimed at cutting poverty and boosting school enrollment in poor areas.  Officials say the program helps 12 million families and has cut the number of people living in extreme poverty by more than half.

Critics of the government say officials have used social-welfare programs to buy voter support, especially in rural parts of northeastern Brazil.

After casting his ballot for Serra, retiree Clovis Vilas-Boas said the current government has shown a failure of ethics.

He said populist schemes to buy voter support and win elections only hurt Brazil in the long run.

Many voters said both candidates have failed to offer specifics on the policies and proposals they would enact, if elected. 

Former bank worker Teresa Salotti said she was disappointed that both candidates offered little more than vague promises.  She said she voted only because the law requires her to do so.

Ms. Salotti said she would rather stay home and not vote, because neither candidate is likely to fulfill the promises they made during the campaign.

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Obama visits Cleveland
to rally voter support

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Republican and Democratic politicians made bold predictions Sunday and sounded upbeat ahead of Tuesday's midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections. 

U.S. President Barack Obama tried to rally fellow Democrats in Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday.  The president urged supporters not to become discouraged despite persistent high unemployment and a sluggish economy.

Obama pledged that despite these challenges, progress will come. "I know some of the excitement of election night inauguration day starts to fade.  You know Beyonce was singing and Bono was up there," he said. "I know people start saying, 'Aw that was fun, now it seems like work all the time.'  And then you guys see me on TV, 'Boy, he's getting really gray, you see that, he's starting to look old.'"

The president told supporters that despite what his critics say, the Democrats are making a difference. "But look Cleveland, I want you to remember this — don't let any body tell you this fight isn't worth it," he said.

Obama went to Cleveland to help bolster support for Democratic candidates.  It was the last stop of a four-state campaign tour through states where Democrats are in danger of losing to Republicans.

There is near universal agreement among political experts and public opinion surveys that Republicans are poised to win back majority control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.  In the Senate, Republicans are expected to at least weaken the Democratic majority.

Sarah Palin, who was the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee in 2008, told the "Fox News Sunday" television program that voters were going to send President Obama a strong message on Election Day. "I think it is going to be a political earthquake and the message will have been sent to the left that they blew it and Americans are waking up and they are saying smaller, smarter government is the only way that the country can get back on the right track," she said.

Palin and other Republican leaders say Tuesday's vote is a referendum on President Obama's policies and what they say is his inability to revive the U.S. economy.

Speaking Sunday on NBC television's "Meet the Press" program, Tim Kaine, the head of the Democratic National Committee, called Tuesday's vote a choice between two ways of solving problems. "I think this is a clear choice, not a referendum.  It is a choice between a Democratic Party that is doing heavy lifting to turn a shrinking economy that the Republicans left us into a growing economy," he said.

Kaine said Democrats can expect some losses on Tuesday, but not enough to lose majority control of either the House or the Senate.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election.  More than 50 seats now held by Democrats are at risk of changing political hands.  Some experts predict that the Republicans might win as many as 55 seats in the House.  They need only 39 seats to take back majority control.

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