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(506) 2223-1327         Published Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 216            E-mail us
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Heavy rains lash coast and cut the Costanera Sur Pacific highway
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Posted at 2:30 p.m.
Heavy rains overnight cut the the Costanera Sur Pacific coast highway at the community of Ventanas between Uvita and Palmar Norte, said the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

The runoff from the rain took out an entire drainage system and destroyed part of the road. The consejo said that one day would be needed to make temporary repairs and another day for complete restoration of the roadway.

The consejo said that the alternate route is the Interamericana Sur. Detours are in pace at Dominical and Palmar Norte, the consejo said. The area endured up to 100 millimeters (nearly 4 inches) of rain Monday night, The national  emergency commission said that a shelter was opened in Jericó for residents of a seniors complex.
Damage was reported in Las Vueltas, Las Palmas, and Chires in the Quepos area and in Paquita and Cocal in Garabito.

In addition to communities on the central Pacific coast, there was flooding in Santa Cruz on the north Pacific coast, the commissions said.

A shelter was opened to house residents of Río Seco, el Cacao and Paraíso, the commission said.

The Río Bejuco flooded out of its banks and did damage in Nandayure on the Nicoya peninsula. There also were damage repots from Puriscal and Turrubares.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional blamed a low pressure area north of Panamá that caused the heavy downpours. It said this system was soon to interact with the approaching tropical storm, Tomas.


Nicaraguan outpost
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
This is a photo of the Nicaraguan military outpost officals say is on Costa Rican soil
Nicaragua sets up army camp on disputed island
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's tradition of pacifism is being put to the test, perhaps on purpose, by the Nicaraguan government.

The stakes are high for Nicaragua and low for Costa Rica.

The Nicaraguan government appears to have moved troops onto the Isla Calero, which Costa Rica says is national territory. The foreign minister,  René Castro, said Monday that the country would carry its appeal to the Organization of American States.

Meanwhile air photos show a military camp on the island. This is the same place that figured in an intrusion by Nicaraguan soldiers three weeks ago.

Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan president, said over the weekend that the military operations along the Río San Juan were to suppress narcotics trafficking. However,  José María Tijerino, the Costa Rican security minister, said that troops have set up tents and hoisted the Nicaraguan flag. There are an estimated 50 soldiers.

Costa Rican officials are sending an unspecified number of its own troops into the area. Technically the units are armed police. There was no explanation why Costa Rica did not occupy the island last week.

Nicaragua seeks to punch a channel through to the Caribbean to provide quicker access to the Río San Juan, which runs along the border of both countries. The land involved is owned by the Costa Rican government and not very valuable. So the project is worth much more to Nicaragua than stopping it is to Costa Rica. The goal is to boost tourism and boat traffic.

Tijerino, in a late afternoon press conference, cited the country's pacifist tradition, and said that diplomacy is the logical course.

Major Nicaraguan newspapers headlined the disclosure that its troops were reported to be in Costa Rica, but editors used wire service copy generated in San José.

The conflict between the two countries began whena Nicaraguan dredge on the river dumped 
sediment onto the south bank, which is Costa Rican land. At the time, there were reports that Nicaragua simply was deepening the river.

Then photos appeared of a swath of land cleared of trees, presumably by Nicaraguan workers. The swatch looked very much like the first efforts to cut  a channel from the river to the Caribbean. The last 30 kilometers of the river winds and doubles back on itself. A direct channel to the river would cut out most of that meandering and perhaps provide access for bigger boats.

Costa Rican officials have been shy in outlining what really is going on along the river. They spoke of environmental damage instead of a possible river channel and concentrated on the sediment dumped on the south bank. Because the international border is the south bank, a new river channel would put what is now Costa Rican land into Nicaragua.

Oct. 8 a rancher complained that Nicaraguan troops entered the property he leases on Isla Calero, but that incident seldom came up in official conversations. The probability that a channel was about to be dredged was buried in the middle of a security ministry release Oct. 22. And even then the ministry said the new channel was headed for a lagoon and not the Caribbean.

President Laura Chinchilla has said very little about the situation. There have been no demonstrations at the Nicaraguan Embassy by Costa Ricans.

The two countries exchanged notes, but the reply from Nicaragua bordered on the confrontational. Costa Rica plans to send another note protesting recent developments.

Castro, the foreign minister, said he hoped that a meeting of the Organization of American States would take place this week. Nicaragua is sure to argue that the land involved always belonged to that country.

Heading up the river operations for Nicaragua is Eden Pastora, the former Sandinista guerrilla who broke with Ortega and formed the southern Contras during the country's civil war.

He is acquainted intimately with that area of the river because his headquarters were nearby.



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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 216

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German fluite group

German flute quartet here
for concert and classes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Flautando Köln, considered one of the most renown flute groups in Germany, will be in Costa Rica offering classes and giving a public concert.

The group plays music of the 14th century to modern. The flute quartet will be a the Teatro Nacional Thursday at 5 p.m. with selections from Johan Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi, among others, said the German Embassy. Tickets are just 1,000 colons, about $2.

The group will be at the Colegio Experimental Bilingüe de Palmares Wednesday at 9 a.m. to help students and will give master classes the same day at the Centro Nacional de la Música in Moravia.

The four members of the group are Katharina Hess, Susanne Hochscheid, Ursula Thelen and Kerstin de Witt.

The visit is sponsored by the German company Beyer and the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.



Tropical storm Tomas stays
on course for Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tropical Storm Tomas continues to move west across the Caribbean just north of the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

The storm is weaker with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph), but the U.S. National Hurricane Center said the system might strengthen in the next two days.

The storm seems to be on course to have an effect on Costa Rica, and the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that it was keeping watch.

Those heavydownpours Monday were not from Tomas but from moisture being brought inland from the oceans, the institute said. Similar is expected for today.


High court rejects plan
to make cops immune

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

 The Corte Suprema de Justicia has frowned on a proposed law that it said would provide immunity for policemen in their daily work.

The law is one designed to increase the security of citizens, and the legislature asked the court for an opinion.

José Manuel Arroyo analyzed the proposal for the benefit of his fellow magistrates.

The court summary said that the presumption in all police activities under the proposal is that there is justification for legitimate defense or excessive response in defense. This would create impunity for officers, the court said.


 
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
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 216

Latigo K-9


Big load
of wood

Police found a driver in Llano Grande carryng 15.5 tons of cedro wood in a truck designed for 6.5 tons.  The driver got a ticket, and police removed some of the wood, which is valued for furniture making.
wood
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo


Young baseball players in Heredia seek gear, volunteers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The seventh season of baseball in Santo Domingo de Heredia starts Nov. 13 and continues on Saturdays through the summer dry season.

Contributions are requested and team shirts, baseball pants, and Santo Domingo caps are for sale. Gloves of various sizes are available for loan.

League groups are t-ball for ages 4-8, little league ages 9-10 and 11-12, junior ages 13-14, and senior ages 15-18. Most categories will have three or four teams.

Adults can participate as coaches, umpires, and scorers. Some weekday evening sessions are also planned. Saturday activities are generally underway by 8:30 a.m.

The field is at the Santo Domingo polideportivo about 200 meters north and 300 meters west of the high school, which is on the back road north to San Pablo. The polideportivo is helpfully marked by a red, white, and blue RACSA tower. For more information those interested can contact Mario Azofeifa at 8396-5575.

Other leagues have been formed around the country
bseball
Baseball is indeed alive and well in Santo Domingo de Heredia and other parts of the country

largely where there are concentrations of Nicaraguans and in Limón. After Santo Domingo, the main urban league is each Saturday and Sunday at the La Sabana park on the west side of San José.


Prisoners again linked to scams in the outside world
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Another series of scams has been followed back to prisoners in La Reforma.

At least 30 persons have been victims of an advance fee scam set up by convicts and executed by  associates in Desamparados, Pavas, León XIII and Limón, said prosecutors Monday.

The official name of the prison is the Centro Penal La Reforma in Alajuela, and there has been a long series of white collar crimes that have been traced back to there.

Prisoners seem to have no trouble making telephone calls and making contact with persons on the outside.
This scam developed when prisoners put ads in various
Spanish-language daily newspapers. They offered loans with easy repayment plans. Naturally they had a lot of inquires.

Those who were scammed followed instructions and made deposits of varying amount for so-called administrative costs. The bank accounts belonged to associates of the prisoners, said the Poder Judicial.

In some cases, the crooks accepted household appliances, flat-screen televisions or other objects in lieu of cash.

Miguel Navarro, coordinator of the Unidad Especializada en Fraudes of the Ministerio Público, said prosecutors are concerned because the number of such cases is growing.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 216


Southern Nicoya moving to become a separate canton

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Provincia de Puntarenas may soon get a new canton. Lawmakers are considering creating a 12th canton for the sprawling province.

The canton would include that part of the central Cantón de Puntarenas that is on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Right now residents of Tambor, Cóbano, Paquera, Lepanto, Montezuma and other communities have to go to the administrative center of the central canton to conduct official business.  In the proposed legislation, the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones would be required to set up an
election for mayor and regidores within six months of the measure's passage.

The idea of making the southern part of the Nicoya peninsula its own political district has been floating around since the 1980s. But now 29 lawmakers have signed on to the measure, which has been voted out of a special commission that was set up to study the concept.

The name of the new canton will be La Peninsula if  lawmakers do not make a change. Other names have been suggested during the years, including Paquera and the names of some historical figures. The administrative center would still have to be selected after the legislation passes.



Anti-mine hunger strikers dwindle to just one person

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

 Hunger strikers protesting the open pit gold mine at Cutris de San Carlos now number just  one.

David Rojas Monge, who has been protesting the project since Oct. 8, went to a clinic Monday suffering form dehydration.

The Laura Chinchilla administration has said all along that it opposes such operations but that operators of the current project would bring an international arbitration action if the government halted it now.  In addition, the mine project is now in court.

Protesters want Ms. Chinchilla to withdraw a decree issued by Óscar Arias Sánchez that said the mine was in the national interest.  The Arias administration saw the operation as a way to bring jobs to northern Costa Rica.

Since the mine project started more than 10 years ago,  the price of gold has risen dramatically. Consequently and
 international arbitration panel would be asked to award a huge sum. Administration officials talk about $700 million for canceling the project.

The Las  Crucitas project is operated by a local subsidiary of a Canadian mining firm.

Spokespersons for the protesters outside Casa Presidencial have been bombarding newspapers, radio stations and television outlets with daily reports and also scheduling press conferences in an effort to gain publicity.

Physicians said that Rojas suffered from low blood pressure and an elevated pulse as a result of his 25 days of fast. Remaining at Casa Presidencial is a protester identified as Andrés Guillén.

The media barrage is having some effect. A Cartago university came out in support of the protesters Monday as did Lisbeth Quesada Tristán, the former defensora de los habitantes. She likened the two men to Mahatma Gandhi and said they were heroes.



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News of Nicaragua
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 216

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Britain tightens the border
for non-UK immigrants


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Britain attracts students and workers from all over the world, so much so that immigration is the fastest contributor to Britain's population growth. The new coalition government plans to introduce a cap on the number of immigrants from outside the EU. Some immigrants will go great lengths in order to remain in the country.

In Northern England, an Afghan man and his would-be Slovak bride are led off to be questioned.

"The couple were due to get married at 10:30 and we just disrupted that wedding," said Alisdair Duncan of the South Yorkshire police.

That's because the police believe the marriage was a sham used to keep the groom in Britain. Authorities here have been cracking down on these marriages, seen as an easy way by immigrants to become legal.

In Southern England, a priest was convicted of carrying out more than 360 fake marriages.

"We're seeing cases where typically perhaps a West African national, who's not in the EU, marries an EU national, whether they be Dutch, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and they then get all the rights, so they have a vested interest in marrying an EU national," said Sam Bullimore of the UK Border Agency.

Bullimore says it's become an industry, where a facilitator can earn more than $10,000 for each bogus marriage. One clergyman  started working with the police after he was inundated with marriage requests he thought were dubious. During one ceremony he started reciting the names of train stations instead of vows, and the bride, who clearly did not understand English repeated after him.

The Rev. Tim Codling says a parallel law system makes churches an easy target. "The Church of England is more attractive because you don't have to go through the same sort of checks as you would have to go through if you made an application in the secular system," he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron's government is trying to cut down on immigration from outside the European Union. It has put a cap on the number of immigrants who can enter the country, 24,100 per year. The rule is an interim one, but expected to become permanent next April.

The policy has been criticized by a group of Nobel laureates who say it will discourage promising students and scientists from coming to Britain and threatens Britain's reputation as a leader in research. Business leaders say it will prevent  businesses from recruiting the best international talent. Car manufacturers here have warned the same thing.

Alp Mehmet with the think tank Migration Watch approves of the government's cap. He believes immigration numbers are getting out of control. "It's not immigrants, what we want is a sustainable number, a number, the numbers coming in here at a rate that they can integrate, they can become a part of this society rather  than groups within society," he said.

Britain has a long history of taking in immigrants, and the capital is full of diverse ethnic neighborhoods like Brixton, in South London, home to many of Caribbean descent who came here in the 1940s. About 176,000 immigrants a year come to Britain, the new prime minister wants to reduce that number to the tens of thousands, but has hinted to businesses here, he might relax the cap on skilled workers to keep Britain open for business.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 216


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Fireworks become topic
of seasonal concerns


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health officials are beginning the annual crusade to reduce the number of youngsters injured by fireworks.

Fireworks are traditional at Christmas and New Years. Any device that explodes is supposed to be illegal, but tons of fireworks come across the border from Nicaragua.

The health minster, María Luisa Ávila Agüero, the director general of the Cuerpo de Bomberos, Héctor Chaves León, and others were to hold a press conference today explaining the laws and encouraging the public to pay attention.

Even outlets that market non-explosive fireworks are supposed to have a permit, and there are special penalties for selling explosives to underage youngsters, officials note.

Venezuelan steel firm
vows to fight takeover

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela's largest private steel company says it will take legal action against President Hugo Chavez's plan to nationalize it.

The Sidetur company's board of directors issued a statement Monday urging the government to consider the impact of the measure on Sidetur's nearly 2,000 employees.

President Chávez announced Sunday the expropriation of Sidetur, alleging that it has been charging inflated prices for its products. Sidetur says it has been complying with state-issued price controls. The company, formally known as Siderurgica de Venezuela SA,, produces about 40 percent of the steel rods used for construction in the oil-rich country.

Chávez said Sunday that the government will pay fair compensation for the takeover.

In recent weeks, the Venezuelan president has ordered the nationalization of Agroislena CA, a leading farm supply business, and of Owens-Illinois Inc., a U.S.-based glass container manufacturer.

The leftist leader has nationalized much of Venezuela's economy since he took power in 1999, saying he wants to improve the life of the country's poor majority.

But critics say his policies are scaring off investors and will hamper Venezuela's emergence from recession.





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