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These stories were published Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 221
Jo Stuart
About us

Messenger is still on the ground

Wounded guard on way to hospital

Bus riders stuck in crossfire from shootout
By José Pablo Ramirez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An attempted robbery near Plaza González Víquez during Monday morning rush hour turned into a shootout as a nearby security guard opened fire on two men trying to rob a motorcycle messenger.  One of the stray bullets tore through a crowded bus.

A reporter-photographer witnessed the drama unfold as his bus from Asserí stopped at a Plaza Víquez intersection facing a bus heading to Calle Fallas in the opposite direction.

A guard at the nearby private security firm SIP noticed the scuffle as the two crooks shoved over the motorcycle that the messenger, Rolando Rivera Blanco, was riding.  The crooks were threatening Rivera with a gun in order to swipe the backpack the messenger was carrying. The guard, Luis Alberto Monge, pulled his gun, sneaked around the back of the Calle Fallas bus, and opened fire on the robbers.  They returned fire as they fled and shot Monge in the abdomen.   

When the bullets started flying, passengers on the reporter's bus fell to the floor and screamed at the driver to close the door.  A stray bullet fractured the bus windshield and flew inside and landed near where the reporter had been standing.  The driver of the Calle Fallas bus, José Vindas said that a similar scene of panic unfolded there.

The reporter yelled at the driver to open the

A.M. Costa Rica photos/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Bullet fractured bus windshield

door and reached the scene as the crooks fled on a motorcycle.  The messenger, who worked for the construction company, El Pipiolo, managed to hold onto his backpack.

The messenger told the reporter that the crooks had stopped him as he rode around the plaza and demanded money.  To this he replied that he was only going to the post office and had no money.  They had shoved over his motorcycle and were threatening him with the gun when the guard opened fire.  The crooks were both wearing motorcycle helmets so the messenger did not get a good look at their faces.

The guard, Monge, was taken to Hospital San Juan de Díos, said the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.

Jesse Froehling assisted with the writing of this story.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 221

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Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Langsdale meets press while Tolvar watches

New U.S. ambassador here
calls on foreign ministry

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new U.S. ambassador, Mark Langdale, completed his first official act here Monday when he presented his credentials at the foreign ministry. He will pay a formal call on President Abel Pacheco today.

Langdale, a lawyer and a supporter of U.S. President George Bush, was president of Posadas USA, a hotel company based in Mexico City. Posadas is the largest hotel management company in Latin America and has 10,500 hotel rooms in operation in Mexico, Venezuela and the United States, said a Texas summary. The firm is publicly traded in the Mexican stock market.

Monday Langdale met with Roberto Tovar Faja, the minister of Ministerio. The ministry is called Casa Amarilla, and Langdale has been there before. He was named by Bush to be one of the official delegates of the United States to the May 8, 2002, inauguration of President Abel Pacheco.

John J. Danilovich, the former U.S. ambassador here, was tapped for the same post in Brazil Feb. 9, 2004. The ambassador's slot had been open since he left. Because ambassadors serve at the pleasure of the president, no one here expected a new ambassador to be named before the 2004 presidential elections. Langdale had to testify before the U.S. Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations and be confirmed by a vote of the full Senate.

Coincidentally Danilovich assumed the role of chief executive officer for the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corp. Monday.  He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate Oct. 7.  The Millennium Challenge Corporation distributes funds to poor countries with the goal of  reinforcing good governance, economic freedom.

Fake ATM screen found
as key to bank fraud

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents with the Judicial Investigating Organization in Liberia arrested two Venezuelans and a Mexican in connection with an elaborate fraud screen in which crooks would use fake ATM screens to gain access to victim's credit card and personal identification numbers. 

The investigation began when a private bank notified the organization that a false screen had been installed on one of their ATM machines in the center of Liberia.  The unwitting victim would swipe his or her card across the fake machine which would read the magnetic strip.  Then, the victim would type in his or her pin number giving the crooks free reign to the victim's bank account, agents said. 

Agents began watching the machine and eventually, two of the suspects, a 31-year-old Mexican man and a 34-year-old Venezuelan man, came back to retrieve their device, agents said. 

The agents then raided the hotel where the two were staying and found a third suspect, a 19-year-old Venezuelan woman.  The agents also found a large list of ATM machines throughout the country as well as three personal computers among other electronic equipment, they said. 

Child welfare lawyer
found tied up and dead

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Judicial Investigating Organization is looking into the death of a lawyer for the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, Costa Rica's child welfare agency. 

The 49-year-old victim, identified by the last name Cascante, was found Monday at 8 a.m. nude at a sugar cane farm with his hands and legs tied but no signs of a murder weapon used against him, agents said.

Cascante was last seen Saturday leaving El Roble de Puntarenas supposedly for Miramar, agents said.  He was traveling in a gray Terius.  The car was found in Los Almendros in Puntarenas.  Agents have no motive nor suspects in the case, they said.

North comes out on top
in hockey all star game

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rica and Colombian team lost by only one goal to the American and Canadian team in the Asociacion Deportiva Hockey All Star Game Sunday. 

The north (Canada and the United States) beat the south (Costa Rica and Colombia) 6-5 in an in-line hockey game at Parque de la Paz, said the association's president, Jack Caine.

This is the third time the game has been played.  The north is made up of North Americans living in Costa Rica and has won every year.  The average age of the south team is 24.  The average age of the north is 38, Caine said.  The north also has the advantage of two coaches as well as many life-long players.  The south rules by committee with no coach at all, Caine said. 

Caine attributes the north's victory to its better organization and extra experience.  The south also had more penalties at difficult times, which ultimately led to the north's victory, Caine said.  He scored the winning goal.
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A.M. Costa Rica

Third news page

Home Calendar Place a 
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 221

They take credit
for surprise raise

Striking water workers are taking credit for an unexpected government pay increase awarded to lower-paid public employees. The 9.81 percent raise, retroactive to Nov. 1 was annouced last week.

Employees of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantrarillados staged a protest Monday at the Ministerio de Trabajo to press their case. The strike goes into the 30th day today. They said it was their strike that pushed the central government to hike salaries.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas

Our reader's opinion
Writer called his letter 'Costa Rica warts and all'
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

What I am writing about will, I am sure, have some readers saying "if he don't like it here why doesn't he leave?" The answer is I like the people here — maybe not the guy who picked my pocket. It was Christmas time, and he figured I was a rich Gringo.

It's kids who suffer in the long run. I will include in this critique politics, unions, self-importance and other items. Not necessarily in that order.

The headlines, which we see featured in most newspapers, regard the U.S. as an enemy of the civilized world. Reviewing the history of the past 65 years. There is reason to believe that some of that is true. I grew up in North America during Hitler's rise to power in Germany. The U.S. president at that time was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Now if you think Bush is disliked, you should have heard what was said about Roosevelt. He foresaw what Hitler could do to Europe, and his desire was to help Britain and France. There was a strong isolationist movement in the U.S. Among the leaders were the German American Bund aided by the German government. A leader in this isolationist movement was Charles Lindbergh, a legitimate American hero, who was the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

The Americans could and did send aid: for example, the 50 destroyers sent to Britain under a "lend-lease program" for which no payment was ever made. However the isolationist movement was so strong that Roosevelt was almost powerless to help the British at all. France fell, and it looked as though Hitler was going to take it all.

He would have except that Japan led by Tojo decided he was going to take on the U.S. and attacked Pearl Harbor. With the American fleet destroyed, Germany  declared war on the U.S. We all know the rest.

The rest being that eventually the Germans were defeated. However, remember millions of innocents who were killed by Hitler's Germany.

An aside: Limitations of presidential terms to two terms was brought about by Republicans who couldn't defeat Roosevelt in four elections and finally obtained the presidency with the election of Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican. With the Republicans in control of Congress, presidential elections were limited to two terms. ("We finally got even with FDR")

To all those who are calling Bush a war monger, a destroyer of the world. His fault was believing
Saddam Hussein's words about means of mass destruction.
At the time HItler invaded the Sudetenland at the start of World War II, German military records reveal that his generals were ordered to return if France and Britain mobilized. They didn't, and Germany kept going. Remember British Prime Minister Chamberlain's statement "peace in our time".  Had he not been isolationist and had he mobilized, millions of people would not have been killed.

Let me say that to the friends and relatives of a soldier killed in any war, it is a terrible loss. Even in a minor war as Iraq. There were more men killed in a weekend during World War II then in all of  Iraq.

Now I will get to a more important point to the people of Costa Rica.  Jobs and their young people should be in the minds of the Costa Ricans.

The Trade Pact With the U.S.

When I see people in Costa Rica siding with those in the U.S. who want to keep all work in the U.S.,  I wonder. To start with what type of jobs would come to Costa Rica?  You could be sure it won't be the kind of outsourcing jobs that are going to India, Malaysia or Thailand. This country doesn't have the numbers of technicians, engineers or scientific trained personnel necessary for that type of operation.

The jobs that they would send here would be jobs, jobs, and jobs they don't want to do in the States, but can be adequately and cheaper done in Costa Rica. Are these union leaders afraid that these jobs that would pay more than the average Costa Rican employer would pay? Is this a threat to the young people?

Let me remind them and you that about 20 years ago Japan who was then a leading power in electronics and science sent what would be considered crap work to a Malaysian country. The leader of that country didn't say, "We won't do it, and we won't trade with them."  Instead, she went out and hired outstanding teachers and professors from all over the world to teach their young. Today they do the same high quality of work as the Japanese and they get the top paying jobs.  It takes effort not talk.

Reminder No. 2. Claiming the highest literacy rate in Latin America is fine. The exact definition of literacy is the ability to read and write, not more or less.

Bob Miller   
A World War II veteran who now lives
in San Antonio de Escazú

Fireworks found in bags being carried by a horseman near Los Chiles
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A horseback rider toting two bags of fireworks was arrested at La Trocha in Los Chiles near the Nicaraguan border, said the Fuerza Pública. 

Officers said they found 1,720 packets of El Rey León explosives, a total of 41,280 firecrackers, they said. 
The horseman, identified by the last names Mendoza Aguirre, was arrested as he crossed a bridge at the Río Osla Chica one kilometer from the Nicaraguan border, officers said.
Officers said they also seized fireworks Friday from a car with Nicaraguan license plates driven by a Costa Rican identified by the last name Juárez and a Nicaraguan identified by the last name Rojas. 

They were only carrying 300 firecrackers, police said.  These were the first such seizures of the year, they added. 

Persons convicted of importing explosives illegally or selling them to minors face three to seven years in prison, police said. 

Many of the national publications are claiming that real estate in Costa Rica is grossly overpriced and that the time has come and gone for the land of Pura Vida. True or False?

Well, if you read the classified ads in the English-speaking countries it would seem that a small lot on the beach can run easily in excess of $250,000 and a home in the mountains of trendy Escazú can run well over $500,000. And even a basic home in Heredia can quickly top $300,000.

So . . . has Costa Rican real estate become too expensive?

Can the average "Gringo" still afford to retire here?

The truth? . . . . Take a look at the pictures that are featured here . . . .

Could you retire on a property with views like these?

The properties featured here at CR Home Realty have views like the above . . . and can have a custom home built of top grade quality of between 1,300 and 1,800 sq. ft. . . . and CAN BE PURCHASED FOR BETWEEN $80,000 AND $150,000.  (yes, that includes the land)

. . . minimum lot size almost two acres.

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. . . all homes are custom built and designed to your specifications. . . . these are not "run of the mill" standard design homes. These are custom-built, top-of-the-line homes. You can even get a totally "no risk," financial guarantee with your purchase and design, if you choose.


Well, we don't blame you for being skeptical. Five years ago we would have said the same thing. BUT . . . . SEEING IS BELIEVING.

CR-HOME REALTY . . . a small firm which over the past two years has gained literally an international reputation and scores of satisfied clients and "believers."

We specialize in helping those seeking to retire in Costa Rica and want to stretch their dollars as far as possible. And we are small enough to offer the best of personalized service and the very best in results.




RANDY@CR-HOME.COM or 011-506-444-1695 or e-mail us for our toll free number.

A.M. Costa Rica

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Good grief!

Are you still spending 70 percent 
of your advertising budget on paper?

You need to fill this space ASAP!

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 221


Bush finds Panamá eager for trade negotiations
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

After failing to win consensus on a hemispheric free trade zone at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, President George Bush is looking to individual countries eager for business with the United States.

He has found one in Panamá, where President Martin Torrijos has made expanding trade a priority.

"We are in the midst of negotiating a free trade agreement with Panamá.  And I told the president, this free-trade agreement is important for America, as he told me it is important for Panamá.  And we are close to coming to an agreement," Bush said.

Speaking to reporters after talks at the presidential palace in Panamá City, Bush downplayed the differences at the Summit of the Americas, where five countries opposed hemispheric-wide negotiations.  Bush focused instead on the other 29 participants.

"Twenty-nine nations said loud and clear, it is important for us to continue to advance a trade agenda that is positive for the people of this hemisphere," he said.

Other topics that were on the agenda for the Bush-Torrijos meeting were fighting drug trafficking and plans to modernize the Panamá Canal, issues that
have played a key role in the long shared history of Panamá and the United States.

The United States built the canal almost a century ago, and it reverted to Panamánian control under treaties signed in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter and Panamá's military leader Gen. Omar Torrijos, the current Panamánian president's father.

Bush visited one of the locks on the canal during his trip.  The United States is still the largest user of the canal, but today it is too narrow for some international shipping.  President Bush said he agrees the time to modernize and expand the canal has come.

"I think it is wise for the government to consider modernizing the canal," he said.  "Things have changed since the canal was first built, and there needs to be a continued appraisal of the canal, to make sure it is used."

There were also reminders during his brief stay of Bush's personal family links to Panamá.  In 1989, his father, former president George Bush, ordered the U.S. invasion that ousted military strongman Manuel Noriega.  Small groups of protesters took to the streets during this visit to denounce the invasion, in which Panamanians died. Noriega was ultimately convicted in the United States on drug trafficking charges.  He is now serving a 40-year sentence.

Florida scammer promised 10 percent monthly return
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A Florida man was sentenced Monday to 155 months in prison for running a scheme in which he promoted a fraudulent investment program to members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and collected more than $6.5 million from some 250 victims.

The man, Winston George Ross, 57, of Apopka, Florida, was sentenced by U. S. District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles. In addition to the nearly 13-year prison term, Judge Real ordered Ross to pay more than $4.3 million in restitution to his victims.

In July, Ross was convicted by a federal jury of 11 felony counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. The evidence presented during a week-long trial showed that Ross operated a company called 4J Financial Services LLC, and that Ross made a series of presentations to members of the church and other potential victims across the United States. During his seminars, Ross encouraged attendees to incorporate themselves so they could avoid paying federal income taxes. For a fee of $600, Ross would assist in preparing paperwork to become incorporated.

At his presentations, Ross also promoted three 
investment programs. For two of the investments, Ross acted as a middleman, collecting money that would be invested by others. But the third program, the "10% Program," was managed by Ross out of his Apopka residence. Ross told investors that the 10% Percent Program was completely risk-free and it provided guaranteed returns of at least 10 percent a month for 15 months. Investors who deposited more than $100,000 would be paid 12 percent a month, those who invested more than $300,000 were guaranteed 15 percent a month. Ross encouraged victims to refinance their homes or to take cash advances on their credit cards so they could invest in the 10% Program.

Ross' management of the money invested in the 10% Program generated little, if any, income. Ross made 10 percent interest payments to some investors, but that money was either their initial investment or came from money deposited by subsequent investors. Much of the money was lost to investments in Internet sites or was spent by Ross.

The scheme ran from August 2001 until March 2003 when Ross ran out of money to make the promised interest payments. When the scheme collapsed, investors in the 10% Program lost at least $3.5 million. 

Glencairn in Nicaragura facing a worker roadblock
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials at the Glencairn Gold Corp. said they have suspended operations at their mine in Limón, Nicaragua, after one of the unions there went on strike. Glencairn also has a mining operation near Miramar near Puntarenas. 

Approximately 20 employees blocked the road into the Limón mine Thursday, Glencairn said.  The group was made up of representatives from one of the two unions working the mine, the company said. 

Both unions signed two-year collective agreements with the company earlier this year, it said. Under the terms of those agreements, an incentive program for
unionized employees was to be negotiated.  Those negotiations were completed and an incentive program acceptable to all unionized employees was reached, the company said.

However, the union sponsoring the road blockade has demanded that only its members be allowed to participate in the incentive program and that members of the other union be excluded. Such exclusion would be illegal under Nicaraguan
law, the company said.  Therefore, Glencairn is unable to accept that demand, it said.

Glencairn is addressing the issues of road blockades with various departments of the Nicaraguan government in an effort to find a solution, they said. 

Arrest in Heredia resulted in confiscation of pirated CDs and videos
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police arrested a 30-year-old Salvadorian Sunday as a supplier of pirated CDs and videos.

The arrest was made at the municipal market in Heredia by the Dirección de Investigaciones Especializadas of the security ministry and the local police with the help of the trade group, the   Asociación Protectora de la Industria Fonográfica
Investigators said they confiscated 255 music videos,1,246 DVD movies, some pornographic, and 26 compact musical disks.

The arrested man has the last name of Ramos and lives in San Rafael de Heredia, agents said.

Paul Chaves, head of the special investigations unit said that cash generated by pirating activities sometimes is used to finance more complex crimes. 

Jo Stuart
About us
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