exchange rate
A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language 
news source
Monday through Friday

These stories were published Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 222
Jo Stuart
About us
It sure doesn't feel like we're in the tropics
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There may not be frost on the pumpkin, but Costa Ricans are shivering in their shoes while some have been hit with high water again.

A cold front over the Caribbean brought heavy rains and chilly weather over the weekend. The most flooding has been on the Caribbean slope, although some damage has been reported on hillsides even in the Central Valley.

The temperatures are not startling. San José suffered through a 16-degree Celsius night Sunday (66.2 F.). The complication was a 42 kph (26 mph) wind.

In Liberia, the daytime temperature of 32 degrees Celsius (about 90 F.) dove to 19 (66.2 F.) overnight.

The problem, of course, is the rain and the wind, plus Costa Rican homes that are not made to withstand cold temperatures. Some homes do not even have wooden doors, just a drape.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional warned that rains and similar weather conditions are expected through Wednesday. The institute urged persons on the Caribbean slope to be extra cautious, particularly in areas where rivers are known to run out of their banks. Several rivers were that way Monday covering some sections of Matina and other Caribbean communities near Limón with one to two feet of water.

RACSA begins a crusade against e-mail viruses
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your PC, Radiográfica Costarricense S.A., RACSA, has embarked on a crusade against Internet viruses.

The company sent out a release Monday saying that the plan "Costa Rica free of virus" has gone into effect.

The campaign is off to a shaky start mathematically speaking. Said the release:

"In Costa Rica on average two million electronic e-mails circulate each day, of which more than a million, about 70 percent, are unwanted e-mail (SPAM), in many cases carriers of viruses."

The government Internet provider said that it has installed a modern system of filters in which we avoid more than 50 percent of the SPAM that circulates to our clients."

The company also has set up a special Web page for the campaign in which a PC owner can check his or her machine for a virus, according to the release. 

The campaign is being undertaken in conjunction with a number of commercial enterprises, including Microsoft and McAfee, a manufacturer of anti-virus software. Also participating is the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología.

The company also is offering technical support and tips to avoid virus messages via the Web page.

RACSA already has an extensive system of filters in operation, including one that eliminates any message that has one of some 40 different words in the subject line. One of the words is ad, which has led to some discomfort for A.M. Costa Rica customers who have difficulty e-mailing messages to the newspaper. Other poison pill words include farm girls naked, thank you,snow and, ironically, Virus alert.

RACSA  gave no other details about its new anti-spam software. However, during the last week a series of unwanted e-mail messages had appeared using RACSA return addresses promoting prescription drugs. These do not appear to be viruses but merely commercial messages.

Scammers eye Pay Pal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Pay Pal customers are the targets of a sophisticated con game using e-mails that pretend to come from the online financial services company.

The e-mails direct Pay Pal customers to verify their account information and link the user to a Web page that mimics Pay Pal. The false e-mail offers an Internet address of The real Pay Pal address is

The false Web page appears to come from a server in Central Europe. With the data collected from the Web page, the Internet crooks will attempt a raid on a user’s Pay Pal account.

our daily
our site
2004 photo contest
Send us
news story
Visit our
Visit our
Visit our
real estate
of Villalobos
Display ad info


Time is money!  Time is money!  Time is money!
Only 20 savvy investors will have the foresight to take advantage of the best offering seen in Costa Rica in years. Very simple: Low risk/high return. Flourishing business on the cusp of aggressive expansion. 
Solid deals don’t last long.
Check the classifieds today!






Howard's Relocation
The BEST investment
you can make

click here


Did you know?

• Prescriptions
 are not needed
on most products
in Costa Rica

• You can take
a 90-day supply
back to the USA

• You'll save
up to 80% compared to
U.S. drugstores

Farmacia Alvarez
(click here)

A.M. Costa Rica

Second news page

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd E-mail Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-9393


La Costanera, Quepos, Parrita, Manuel Antonio

Now here’s a diet
that really works

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The United Nations has advice for under nourished Africans: Eat more bugs.

The international agency said Monday that edible insects are an important source of protein. "Edible insects such as caterpillars and grubs should be considered an alternative source of nutrition in efforts to overcome food insecurity in central African countries." said the U.N.

More than 90 percent of participants in a survey in Botswana said they already eat caterpillars. As did some 85 percent in the Central African Republic and 70 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization.

For every 100 grams of dried caterpillars, there are about 53 grams of proteins, about 15 per cent of fat and about 17 per cent of carbohydrates, according to the study. The insects are also believed to have a higher proportion of protein and fat than beef and fish with a high energy value, the U.N. said.

The report said that some groups make a flour from ground caterpillars.

The U.N. said that the collection of edible insects by hand could prove to be a potential source of income for rural populations, especially women, because it requires little capital income. 

Lawyers will head up
Fuerza Pública regions

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública has picked 10 lawyers to be regional chiefs of the police agency.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública reported that the appointments are provided by law. Only one non-lawyer will fill a top regional post.

The changes began Nov. 1 when new chiefs were appointed in Cartago, Heredia and San Carlos. All those appointed, in addition to being lawyers, have long experience in police work, the ministry said.

On Nov. 15, new regional chiefs will take over in Guanacaste, la Cruz, Pérez Zeledón, Limón, and the country’s southern zone, the ministry said.

Changes will be made shortly in Alajuela and San José, too, the ministry said. Only Randall Picado Jiménez, who will be the chief of the San José region, is not a lawyer, said the ministry.

A new law established the requirements for top officials in the Fuerza Pública.

Orchestra plays this weekend

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional will hold its 11th concert of the 2004 season Friday  and Sunday at the Teatro Nacional.

Guest director is Michael Lankester, and the principal performer will be Tjeerd Top, a violinist.

The Friday performance is at 8 p.m., and the Sunday one is at 10:30 a.m.

Calderón awaits ruling

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Former president Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier will have to wait until at least today to find out if a judge wants him to stay in the la Reforma Prison. 

Calderón was in court all day Monday as his lawyers argued his case for house arrest. Calderón was ordered to the prison for nine months while prosecutors investigated his involvement with a series of illegal payments.

Two teens murder victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two teenagers, one 17 and the other 13, died from stab wounds.

The 17-year-old, Diego Aguilar Soto, suffered a knife wound about 7 p.m. Sunday in San Blas de Moravia.  He died later at hospital Calderón Guardia. A 19-year-old is being held.

About 5 a.m. Monday the body of the 13-year-old, Brayar Oporto Martínez, was found near the Museo del Niño in north San José. He suffered three knife wounds in the chest.
We now accept
other currencies

A.M. Costa Rica is now able to deal in four more important world currencies, thanks to its association with Pay Pal.

Until now, the newspaper accepted payment internationally in U.S. dollars. Colons were accepted in Costa Rica. However, now the newspaper will accept Canadian dollars, euros, pounds sterling and yen via the Pay Pal Internet system. 

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.


Williams Dental & Associates
Integral dentistry
Dr. John Williams
• General dentistry 
• Endodontics
• Oral rehabilitation
• Prosthodontics
• Periodontics 
• Dental prevention
• Maxillofacial surgery implants

Guachipelín, Escazú

U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol

Legal services

Adolfo Rojas Breedy 
Breedy Abogados S.A. 
Since 1957. Best experience in: 
• Real Estate Transfer of Title and Title Search 
• Business       • Investments 
• Commercial & Civil Litigation
• Corporate Law & finance 
• Capital markets Law 
• International Taxation 
(506) 233-7203/221-0230
Web page:

Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados
Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 218-0829                Cell 365-3088


• Family law       • real estate law 
•  criminal and constitutional law
• due dilligence   • title guarantee, 
• fraud protection
• Notary Public services in general
Authorized Representative
Stewart Title Attorney Referral System

      Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson, 
Costa Rica/U.S.A. Attorneys at Law
Villalobos and Savings Unlimited Collections
*Investments  *Corporations 
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica *Tax Shelters 
*Immigration *Intellectual Property
    *Business procedures *Family and Labor Law
    *Locate People *Private Investigations
       Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 356-2449

Real estate agents and services

First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
  Escrow services
  Title Transfers
  Title Guarantees
  Trust Services
  Investment Services
Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.

formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican 
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000 

Member of
Costa Rican-American 
Chamber of Commerce
(506) 291-2825 & (506) 291-2826 
fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell
A.M. Costa Rica
Consultantes Río Colorado S.A.

James J. Brodell........................editor
Saray Ramírez Vindas...associate editor

Avenida 11 bis, Barrio Otoya, San José 

Voice: (506) 223-1327
FAX: (506) 223-1190

 In Costa Rica:                    From elsewhere:

  A.M. Costa Rica                 Consultantes Río Colo.
  Apartado 12909-1000        SB 11
  San José, Costa Rica           P.O. Box 025292
  (506) 223-1327                 Miami, FL 33102-5292



Corruption at work here is at least more obvious
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The angry outpouring of citizen sentiment against ex-presidents accused of corruption reflects a society in which bribes and payoffs are the unhappy norm.

Citizens may pound on the side of police vehicles carrying Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría and Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier. But many of these same protestors are involved in one way or another with the secret market that helps Costa Ricans run their lives.

Corruption appears to be endemic here.

Analysis on the news

Of course, the traffic patrolman will accept an instant fine instead of writing a ticket.

To get a driver’s license in the first place, a small gift (perhaps 5,000 colons) is in order to the driver’s examiner.

Students pay teachers to obtain advanced copies of examinations. They pay afterwards to enhance their grade.

Street vendors reward municipal policeman to avoid troubles.

License requirements are so complex, a small bonus makes the paperwork snafus go away.

Diversion of government supplies for private work takes place daily.

This is the day-to-day reality. More ominously, as in North America, drug trafficking could not exist here without some official sancions. And a fat government contract is simply an invitation to share.

The corruption reaches into the very heart of national institutions.

Need a telephone quick? There is a person who can help.

Have a weak court case? Pay a judge.

Want to keep your house of ill repute in business? Pay off and be discrete.

What makes Costa Rica so interesting is that the bribery and corruption are obvious. Here they pay bribes with bank checks, as the local television networks have demonstrated during the most recent major scandals involving telecommunications giant Alcatel and presumed kickbacks on a medical equipment loan from Finland.

Many first-world countries do not have systematic, small-scale corruption. One usually cannot bribe a typical North American traffic patrolman. But someone eases the entry of thousands of pounds of heroin and cocaine every month or there would be no drugs in North America.

Even the United Nations is not exempt. consider the scandal over the Iraqi food for oil program.

And on the other end of current Costa Rican scandals, there are operations in First World countries: 

Taiwan and its financial generosity to local politicians and political parties. France-based Alcatel. And Finland, which provided a $39 million loan and mountains of medical equipment and supplies some say were unneeded.

But it is in Costa Rica where the trail clearly leads to the highest elected officials in the land. And over the last 16 years.

Here it is the poor who have daily contact with low-level corruption. In the First World, such activities are covered with a sophisticated layer of distraction.

Some Costa Rica police are crooked. But so are some First World policemen who are making much greater salaries.

The difference here then is the poverty that encourages low-level, obvious corruption and bribe-taking. Then there is the relatively unsophisticated plundering that makes newspaper and television headlines.

To make cross-cultural comparisons on the degree of corruption is nearly impossible.

But in Costa Rica, the general acceptance of corrupt practices and the school-age exposure to them cannot help to at least make these activities widespread.

Two U.S. agencies rap report on modified corn
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The U.S. government says a report by an environmental unit of the North American Free Trade Agreement regarding genetically modified corn is "fundamentally flawed and unscientific."

In a joint statement Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the two agencies, said key recommendations in the report are "not based on sound science, and are contradicted by the report's own scientific findings."

The two agencies added that "while the report's authors recommend that biotech maize be treated differently from other modern maize hybrids, science tells us the opposite. In fact, the findings of

this report echo the prevailing science, supporting our view that biotech maize will have no greater or lesser effect on maize genetic diversity than other modern maize hybrids."

The report is a product of the Secretariat of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. The report, entitled "Maize and Biodiversity: The Effects of Transgenic Maize in Mexico," is available on the CEC web site.

The Commission on Environmental Cooperation was established under a side agreement to the North American Free Trade Agreement to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts, and to promote the effective enforcement of environmental law.

Cuba's ban on greenbacks goes into effect as protest against U.S. 
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

HAVANA, Cuba — This nation has officially ended circulation of the U.S. dollar, a move Cuban leader Fidel Castro says is in response to tightening U.S. sanctions.

The ban on the dollar went into effect Monday, preventing hotels, stores and restaurants from using the currency. 

Those business will now only accept a "convertible 

peso" which has a face value equal to the dollar, but no value internationally.

Castro announced the dollar ban two weeks ago.

The Cuban government has also encouraged Cubans living abroad to send money to their relatives in other currency, such as British pounds or Euros.

Cuba legalized the dollar in 1993 in the face of an economic crisis sparked by the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A.M. Costa Rica's
real estate classifieds
are the best deal going.

Color photos
Live links
Instant contact
Worldwide readership

Check it out HERE!

Want to know about birds?
This is the CLASSIC
for bird lovers 
in Costa Rica.

Order it 
via A.M. Costa Rica
in association with

See other popular Costa Rican titles HERE!

México hopes to strike immigration deal with U.S.
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

In the build-up to a meeting between U.S. and Mexican officials, Mexican President Vincente Fox is stressing the importance of reaching a migration agreement between the two countries. The two-day meeting begins Tuesday in Mexico City.

The U.S. delegation is being led by Secretary of State Colin Powell. One of the principal themes the U.S. side wants to make progress on is increased security along the more than 3,000-km. border that divides the U.S. and Mexico.

The major goal of the Mexican side is to give legal status to millions of Mexicans who live and work in the United States. Many are still undocumented.

A migration deal between the two countries was high on the agenda of the Bush administration but was sidetracked by the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. And, when Mexico refused to support the United States in the war against Iraq, it lost yet more priority status.

Nevertheless, a migration agreement remains the main strand of President Fox's foreign policy. In an interview Monday, the president called an agreement vitally important to Mexico's people, but 

he also said he understood the need for security.

"People must have the liberty to move to any other country looking for their own prosperity and opportunities for progress. But we understand that we have to move according to the relationships we have among countries, specifically in relation to security and terrorism. We understand that. We are very careful with our borders, and work joint programs with Europe, Spain, Switzerland, with the United States and Canada in trying to collaborate against terrorism.

Now that President George Bush has been re-elected for another four year term, the Fox administration, which only has two more years until its course is run, is pressing for the U.S. Congress to approve a migration agreement.

Each year, more than 300 Mexicans and other undocumented migrants mostly from Central and South America, die attempting to illegally cross the border into the United States.

The Mexican economy depends on the billions of dollars migrants living in the United States send home. The sum is now more than earnings from Mexican tourism, and is only second in cash terms to what Mexico gets from its oil fields.

Colombian rebels reject government offer to discuss prisoner swap
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — Rebels have rejected a government offer to begin talks on a proposal to swap jailed comrades for hostages held by the guerrilla group.

In a statement Monday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia said negotiations with the government hinge on the rebels' previous demand of a government withdrawal from two towns.

The government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe had suggested the prisoner swap, saying talks could be held at a neutral embassy.  The plan called for 50 jailed rebels to be freed in exchange for at least 60 hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in jungle hideouts.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia's hostages include Colombian politicians and police as well as three American contractors seized by the group last year.

Jo Stuart
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. Check HERE for more details