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(506) 2223-1327               Published Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 217      E-mail us
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Desamparados cemetery
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Flower sales are a steady business on this special day although some vendors complained.
Rain and weekday combine to slow cemetery visits
Monday was the day Costa Ricans honor their dead. It is called Día de los Santos Difuntos or day of the deceased saints. The annual event is very low-keyed when compared to the three-day festival in México where it is the Día de los Muertos.

Monday was a work day, and the weather was rainy in the afternoon, so family members will trickle to cemeteries the entire week cleaning tombs and graves and leaving floral tributes. Vendors said flower sales were slow.

The photos here were taken in the Cementerio de Desamparados.

Flowers at grave
Floral tributes were in short supply Monday



Get those lables in Spanish, Chinese stores are told
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A survey of mostly Asian groceries have turned up a number of failures to adhere to the country's labeling and health regulations.

In six stores, the economics ministry researchers said they found 66 products that contained 107 violations. Among these were products that did not have health ministry approval to be sold or that did not have the appropriate label information in the Spanish language. There also were products that did not carry an expiration date.  All of these are required by the various health and consumer laws.

The ministry named six establishments that would face future action in the Comisión Nacional del Consumidor.  The products were confiscated. The stores are:

Hand San de China S.A. at Calle 9 between avenidas 6 and 8; Supermarcado Hong Ji, on Calle 9; Súper Sony on Calle 3 between avenidas 8 and 10; Supermercado la Cascada de Oro in Limón Centro; Corporación Sam del Atlántico, also Limón Centro, and Dinsa (Universasl de Alimentos) in Moravia.

Three outlets complied with all the rules, the ministry said. They are:
Supermercado Da Xing in San José, Distribudora Hong Kong in San José and Distribudora Isleña in Barreal de Heredia.

A 10th location was closed for inventory. The visits were made from Oct. 5 to 9.

In addition to having a registration from the Ministerio de Salud, a label with the expiration date of the product in Spanish, the law requires that a label also list the ingredients of the product.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industría y Comercio periodically surveys commercial establishments for their observance of various consumer laws. The ministry said it targeted these stores because of complaints.

Many of the products were unique, such as pigs ears in sauce, chicken feet and sake.  The process for getting a health registration for food is lengthy and not worth the effort for small quantities of typical products.

Eduardo Sibsaja, the economics minister, said that the stores that cater to Asian customers and those with Asian tastes cause the most problems.

Many products never have been presented to the Ministerio de Salud for registration.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 217

Costa Rica Expertise
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Electrical power fails
again for second time

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Electricity failed again early Tuesday just as editors were about to post today's edition of A.M. Costa Rica.

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz could give no reason for the outage that covered the same area as the one early Monday.

Consequently the current newspaper was not posted on the server and made accessible to the public until about 6 a.m. Costa Rica time.

The problem has to do with the underground electrical system in northeast San José, which until now has been reliable. A dispatcher at the electrical company continued to point out that the underground service is handled by a separate department in the company, and there are no 24-hour repair crews at work.

Our readers' opinions
Coco man  will keep reading
Jo Stuart's Friday column


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I just read your letter from the writer commenting on Jo Stuart’s column and must come to her defense.

First of all I am an admitted "liberal" by the writers definition, but I consider myself an independent thinker.

As a regular reader of Jo’s column I am never lured into reading any of them. I find them quite entertaining and introspective, traits many conservatives will never quite grasp. And I will listen to any view I so desire. If it bothers me enough, I will indeed stop reading.

As to the fuming for hours over the content, this is the typical conservative reaction. They do not seem to be able to read or hear something that they disagree with without flying off the handle.

When it comes to pushing the liberal agenda, Jo has the right to push any agenda she likes. You have the equal right to disagree with that agenda.

This is also a typical conservative reaction to people or ideas with whom they disagree. They cannot seem to comment on any statement they do not like without pulling out some derogatory and disparaging words about the concept or the writer, instead of just making their point.

By the way there are a number of aliens in the U.S. who are, in fact, asylum seekers. I.e. they are escaping persecution of some kind in their native country.

As to having the ability to look at all views, the writer obviously lacks that capability.

I will assume that Jo will have no problem with the writer no longer reading her column. And neither will I. I, however, will continue to read and enjoy her very entertaining column.

Guy C. Moats
Superior, Montana
and Coco, Guanacaste


In defense of immigrants
working in United States


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We were glad to hear Pam Cohen of Grecia has sworn off Jo Stuart’s columns.  Now she won’t be tempted to write lengthy letters ranting about Jo’s “liberal” views.  As if being liberal or conservative (whatever those labels have come to signify) has anything to do with sympathy for those immigrating to seek employment and a better life.  Of course, to Ms. Cohen they are all criminals and outlaws, even though undoubtedly her parents or grandparents came to the U.S. as immigrants, but at a time when immigrants were welcomed. 

We just returned from the U.S. and each time we go there we remark about how any business we do, those employees at the minimum wage level or slightly above are more and more immigrants, whether store clerks, bank tellers, waiters/waitresses, taxi drivers, etc.  Apparently these jobs aren’t being sought by native born citizens and the business community willingly employs them and doesn’t see them as criminals, although some are probably not legal.

Rich and Jean Redmond
Moravia

Luxury home tax appears
to be fair and needed


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have read the recent flood of articles and opinions about the new luxury-home tax with great interest and some dismay.  I share those concerns about implementation of such a change before all details have been worked out, although I have come to expect such a process from the government here (e.g., the transit law).  I fully sympathize with the uncertainty felt by those individuals who own properties to which the tax would apply, and would like to see some clear statements regarding mixed-use, domestic-agricultural property and the litany of other issues raised in A.M. Costa Rica.  Also, the issue of self-assessment of property value, but steep fines if you low-ball it, is ill-conceived.  I feel that fines should be assessed only if one fails to file based on the value currently assessed by the responsible governmental entity – that would make it incumbent on the government to make reasonable assessments in a timely manner.

Where I disagree with most of the opinions I have read is on the question of fairness.  The figures that you have published make it clear that the luxury-home tax amounts are quite reasonable by the standards known to the U.S. expatriates for whom you advocate.  The taxes on any property of comparable value anywhere in the U.S. would be several times the luxury-home amounts quoted for Costa Rica.  Re: fairness, even “back home,” the owners of more valuable property pay more in taxes than do others – this is not a new concept. 

Such a new tax does takes a little of the “haven” from the “tax haven” many expats have sought here, but one must hope that we will see better funding for much-needed government projects and services from this tax.  

A.M. Costa Rica regularly directs its readers’ attention to the needs for improved roads, bridges, law enforcement, etc.  It seems that everyone wants to complain about this country’s infrastructure but nobody wants to pay for it.  It is time for Costa Rica to make some expensive changes, and for those who enjoy living in “paradise” and can afford it to pay their fair shares.
Gray Rivers
Santa Bárbara, Heredia

EDITOR'S NOTE: The luxury home tax on homes that are valued at more than 100 million colons via the government's obscure methods will go to build homes for current slum dwellers. The money will not be used for infrastructure.


Civil disobedience urged
for two-tier price structure

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The Costa Rica government continues to do nothing in the fashion of the countries’ passive aggressive behavior model. I don’t know about all you out there, but I think it’s time for the Costa Rica government to outlaw price discrimination based on nationality or ethnicity.

A perfect example is the new small gauge train in Monteverde: Foreigners pay a whopping $65 and residents and citizens pay only $8.50. That kind of price difference is punishment.

With the luxury tax on real estate, all of this has gone too far. I say boycott all business that have both Gringo pricing and local pricing. That includes the government and its discriminatory tax. Use civil disobedience to protest these injustices. 

Moreover, if you pay money to an establishment that uses discriminatory pricing, then you are part of the problem. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem. It's time foreigners use passive aggression. Let’s learn from our Tico brethren. When in Costa Rica, do as the Costa Ricans. Nike says, “Just do it.” I say ”Just don’t do it.”

Dave Rodgers
Redding, California

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 217

U.N. expresses concern about future of Limón creole
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Limon creole as a language was recently upgraded to “definitely endangered” from “vulnerable,” according to the U. N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

With a few notable exceptions like Guaraní in Paraguay and Catalan in Spain, most minority languages are considered at least vulnerable by the agency. Those considered under threat from dominant tongues and/or demographics have various categories of endangered. The world epicenter for extinct languages is the western United States.

Creole arrived in Costa Rica with workers who came from Jamaica at the end of the 19th century to build the railroad and work in banana plantations. UNESCO suggests that it has 55,000 speakers, though that number would be impossible to verify without a specific census. That would be half the population of the two coastal municipalities of Limon province, including a large component of young people who may, or more likely may not, be learning the language.

Anita Herzfeld of the University of Kansas, author of several books and academic papers on Limon creole, suggests it would be almost impossible to determine how many speakers there are, given the range of fluency in any group of language users. The viability of the language rests on inter-generational transfer and its status in the community.

That transfer is in no way supported by the Costa Rican educational system, and may even be threatened by standard
English as more students learn the latter in school. Ms. Herzfeld says “I am afraid that since the creole is a continuum and English is taught in schools, as I understand, the creole end of the continuum may well disappear soon because it is similar, she said in a private e-mail. The language would be easier to keep if it were very different, she noted.

Many residents to Limón are trilingual. They speak English and Spanish as well as the creole, according to other academic sources.

The indigenous languages of Costa Rica are all considered at least vulnerable. No local languages are extinct although two are down to less than 100 speakers. All are of the Chibchan group which is found from Honduras to Colombia. Given the diversity of the group in the Costa Rica-Panama border area, its origins are likely there.

The most stable is Bribri, with about 6,000 native speakers (out of a total ethnic population of 10,000) and another 2,500 in Panama. The University of Costa Rica has a Bribri course.

Ngäbere is highly endangered in the Costa Rican part of its range, but is the primary indigenous language of western Panama with more than 160,000 speakers. Guaymí is also classed as vulnerable in Costa Rica with about 2,000 speakers, but is subsumed into Ngäbere by some authorities.

Boruca and Chorotega are nearing extinction with 70 and 16 speakers respectively as of the last census in 2000. Guatuso has only about 300 speakers.


Dutch national flower is principal subject of new exposition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It is tulip time at the Museo Dr. Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia.

The Embassy of Holland and a Dutch company are sponsoring an exhibition of the works of 26 Costa Rican and Dutch artists who used the Dutch icon as a subject.

The show opens Wednesday. The Dutch company is  Royal
Boskalis Westminster, which is participating in the dredging of the Limón harbors. The gallery will be open until Dec. 4. The museum is in east San José in Barrio Escalante.

The tulip is the national flower of Holland, and has figured in many works by famous artists of history. The theme was suggested by the embassy and many artists used different media and techniques to capture the tulip essence.

The works include origami, ceramics and photos.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 217

   
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Low pressure system will cause rain and slides for the next couple of days

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A trough of low pressure over the country has changed little over the 24 hours ending at 5 p.m. Costa Rican time. The U.S. National Hurricane center said Monday there is less than a 30 percent chance that this system would become a tropical cyclone in the next two days.

However, the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that the system has saturated the ground and brought rivers to higher levels on the Caribbean and on the Pacific coasts. There also have been slides over some highways and fog banks cause poor visibility on highways and at airports.

The weather center said in an afternoon summary that the system is expected to remain stationery for at least 60 hours. This means intermittent rain during the night, particularly in the mountains and in the Caribbean and the northern zone, the institute said. Also expected are more afternoon downpours, it added. The Comisión Nacional de Emergencias is on alert. The main Ruta 32 between San José and Guápiles has been closed due to a slide, the commission said.
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U.S. Hurricane Center photo
Low pressure area hangs over Costa Rica to bring several days of rain.



La Ruta bike race kicks off Nov. 11 in Jacó for four days of competition

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ruta de los Conquistadores, the nation's coast-to-coast bike race, begins in eight days, and some foreign participants already are in the country.

The race has been endorsed by the Federación Costarricense de Ciclismo. This is the 17th edition.

The competition starts in Jacó Nov. 11. Racers travel from there to Santa Ana. The following day the racers peddle to Tres Ríos. The following day the destination is Turrialba. The final day has Playa Bonita, in Limón as a destination.
"It's not about making it to the finish line, it's about working with what you've got, giving it all your might and surviving the adversities that you might come upon along the way," said Roman Urbina, the founder and owner of La Ruta. "Lending a hand to someone else, a sip of water, a spare tube, a word of encouragement, a friendly smile... while you compete against yourself... that's the true spirit of La Ruta."

Some 450 bikers will participate, both from Costa Rica and other countries. The race has several classes based on age and sex. It is well-known for the many changes in elevation that participants must overcome.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 217

Casa Alfi Hotel

Honduran lawmakers study deal to reinstate Zelaya

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Honduran lawmakers are studying a deal to end the crisis over President José Manuel Zelaya's ouster in a coup in June, but there is no word whether or when they will vote on his reinstatement.

The head of Congress, Jose Alfredo Saavedra, told local media Monday that once lawmakers understand the details of the agreement, they will decide on a path to follow. 

Zelaya has taken refuge at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since returning to Honduras in September.  He is urging lawmakers to avoid playing "dirty games" and vote on his reinstatement without delay.

Last week, the interim government of President Roberto Micheletti agreed to the deal, which calls for the creation of a power-sharing government. 

The country's supreme court would need to authorize congress to vote on whether to allow Zelaya to return to power and serve out his term, which ends in January.

Honduran officials have said they are confident that congress will approve the deal to reinstate Zelaya before the Nov. 29 presidential election.  Neither Zelaya nor Micheletti is a candidate.

Separately, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos have been named to a four-person commission that will be responsible for monitoring creation of the power-sharing government.   The secretary-general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, says the two will travel to Honduras today to meet with two Honduran officials who will join them on the panel.

Thomas Shannon, Jr., said in a telephone interview Friday that the San José Accord constructed by President Óscar Arias Sánchez was the basis fo the agreement in Tegucigalpa. "The only significant change, or substantive change, in the language referred to the restitution of President Zelaya, and that change, as we noted, was to send that issue to the congress," said Shannon. "But for the most part, the rest of President Arias’s proposal – the San Jose Accord – was the basis for the Guaymuras Accord."

Shannon is the U.S. assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs who traveled to Honduras to help negotiate the accord.


Two women murdered;
Companions called suspects


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two women became murder victims within a few hours of each other Sunday night.

In the Central Valley Adriana Ceciliano Cerdas, 25, the mother of a 3-month-old child, died from knife wounds. Her male companion is a suspect. Her body was found by her mother about 10 p.m. in her home in Aserrí, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In Los Ángeles de San Pedro de Pérez Zeledón someone beat Elda Damaris Alvarado Álvarez, 20, to death with hammer blows to the head, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Judical agents said that male comanions in each case were detained in the early morning hours.
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 217


Latin American news
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Marketing mission visting
Cuba for Havana expo


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The organization that seeks to promote Costa Rican products to the world sent a delegation to ExpoCuba this week in Havana.

This is the first time that the organization, Promotora del Comercio Exterior, has sought business in Cuba. The exposition started Monday. First being featured includes Corporación Pipasa, Maluquer de Centroamérica, Plásticos Puente, Compañía Leogar, CVG Alunasa, Banco de Costa Rica, Dos Pinos, Mondaisa, Alimentos Cónica and AMPO Ltda e Irex de Costa Rica, said the organization that is known by the name PROCOMER.

Costa Rica exported $17.9 million in products to Cuba last year, said the organization.

German firms will show
renewable energy advances

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Eight German firms will be represented Nov. 17 at a symposium on renewable energy. The event is being put on by the Cámara de Comercio e Industria Costarricense Alemana with the sponsorship of the German federal ministry of economics and technology.

The event is at 7:30 p.m. in the Hotel Crowne Plaza Corobicí. The chamber said that engineers, executives, business people, investors, architects, lawyers and professionals in the renewable energy field are invited.

The eight German firms are said to be leaders in the development of technology to take advantage of renewable energy. Signup is by telephone to 2290-7621 or with an e-mail to renovables@cacoral.com.

Legion to hear FDA expert

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

American Legion Post 10 will hear from Paul Seligman, director of the Latin American office of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at its noon meeting Wednesday in the Bello Horizonte Country Club in Escazú.

Seligman is an admiral retired from the U.S. Public Health Service who now works with the federal agency.

The Legion said he would speak about issues related to Food and Drug regulations on food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices produced here for shipment to the United States. More information is available at 2228-6014, 2228-0454 or 2232-1680.



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