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(506) 223-1327              Published Friday, Nov. 9, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 223                  E-mail us
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Langdale leaving here to head foundation running Bush library
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Posted 4 p.m. Friday)
A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said Friday that Ambassador Mark Langdale will leave his post here to become president of the foundation in charge of the Geroge W. Bush library in Texas.

U.S. presidents typically incorporate their personal papers and memorabilia into a free-standing library. The location for the Bush
 library has not been established, but the announcement said that the foundation that Langdale will head is in conversations on this topic with Southern Methodist University.

Langdale has been ambassador here for two years. His major accomplishment was in his efforts to obtain ratification of the free trade treaty between the United States and Costa Rica. The treaty passed in a public referendum Oct. 7.


Agents investigating expat financial figure and wife
By Elise Sonray
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An expat consultant and his wife are being investigated for running unregistered financial operations here, according to the Sección de Fraudes of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The investigators confirmed Thursday that they had conducted a raid on the premises of Trade Exchange S.A. Oct. 30 as part of the investigation.

The individuals involved are Mark Emory Boswell, who uses the name "Rex Freeman" in his online financial operations, and his wife, Evelyn Reed, said the investigators.

Boswell, formerly from Colorado, had lived and operated his business in Costa Rica since 1999. Although some of his businesses still are operating here, Boswell shut down Interglobal Finance S.A. in November 2005 and moved the bulk of his operations to Panamá.

Both Trade Exchanges, identified as Tradex and Interglobal are among the 19 companies that the Superintendencia General de Valores lists on its Web site as operating here but not registered with the government. The agency said that operating without registration is a violation of the securities law and the commercial code and punishable by prison.

Tradex is believed to sell bonds, other financial instruments and even real estate via a phone room based in Escazú, said investigators. At the time of the raid about five or six persons were working there. Now the firm continues in business with one employee, they said.

Two other firms believed associated with Boswell are Kerford Investments S.A., and  Strategic Management Services S.A., which also are on the  Superintendencia's unregistered list.

Bosell, using the name Rex Freeman, published at
least two articles is EscapeArtist.com, a Web site that promotes high-return financial services. He said in January 2005:

"I left the U.S.A. probably for many of the same reasons most do; the erosion of rights, the lawlessness of the courts, the intrusions of privacy, the omnipresence of big brother and the general mental decay of society.  What once made America great, is now gone, or at best is quickly disappearing and I’d had enough. It was time to go."

He bragged on how he could make a good living dealing in foreign exchange with a computer as a permanent tourist in Costa Rica. The next month he wrote an article on how to buy property here for pennies on the dollar using a third-party trust.

The Judicial Investigating Organization agents said that at least 150 investors are involved with Boswell's firms here. Two of these investors are Costa Ricans and former employees. These are the individuals who have signed complaints against him. Agents said the two men had from $5,000 to $8,000 each in his businesses.

When Boswell moved to Panamá he quickly sued Eric Jackson, operator of the Panama News. Boswell appeared to be upset with a story Jackson wrote titled "'Patriot' militia radio personality to expat investment hustler." In the article Jackson chronicled how Boswell left Colorado where he had a right-wing weekly radio talk show and then set up business in Costa Rica.  Interglobal is believed to be registered in Panamá now.

One of the former employees who filed a complaint said that Boswell's business caters to those trying to hide assets offshore. The ex-associate displayed a credit card that had no name imprinted on it, just numbers. The card was issued by Continental Trust in Switzerland, it said.

Investigators said Thursday that they have not developed enough evidence to seek an arrest.


Misplaced drill causes a blackout in parts of the city
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A worker drilling a hole in the street near Hospital Calderón Guardia hit an underground high-tension line about 3:30 p.m. Thursday and turned off the electricity in several neighborhoods of San José.

The unidentified worker suffered electrical burns
cash register
Many retail outlets worked by candlelight
and was hospitalized. He was reported to be installing an alarm system for the hospital that suffered a major fire early July 12, 2005, that killed 19 persons.

Power was out for nearly eight hours as workers for the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz tried to patch the break. The
cable was one of several that were underground and unprotected by anything more than plastic.

The location of the incident was east and north of Calderón Guardia. The outage affected homes and businesses west of the hospital in Barrio Aranjuez, Barrio Otoya and part of Barrio Amón. Downtown merchants also lost their electricity. Darkened were
stores on the east side of the Avenida Central block bounded by calles 9 and 11 and points east. Some restaurants downtown and near the hospital faced  
cxable workers
A.M. Costa Rica/Helen Thompson
Power company workers try to splice a high- voltage line.

the challenge with candles.

Fructoso Garrido Álvarado, director of distribution for the power company, said the line carried 13,800 volts. He correctly estimated early in the evening that the power would be restored by midnight.  Electricity flowed again at 11:15.

A.M. Costa Rica was one of the locations affected by the blackout.  Police increased patrols in the area to guard against robbers.


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Our readers opinions
What should we do now
with our money here?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
What is our alternative to the banking thefts?  Do we just leave our money in the banks and hope it is safe? Do we pull it all out of the banks and bury it in the backyard and hope no one finds it? How do we protect ourselves?

Like most people, I cannot afford to lose any money. I thought I kept my money in a bank so as to keep it safe and available. Now I find I maybe wrong. How do we help and protect ourselves?
 
Barbara Arthur
San Ramon


Keep as little as possible
in Costa Rican institutions


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to Trevor Chilton's letter about having funds illegally removed from his account in Banco Nacional, I give my apologies for his troubles and also offer some ideas for the future to all A.M. Costa Rica readers.
 
To qualify myself, I have made my living here advising the local stock exchange and some brokerage firms on their international monetary affairs. In addition, I am partner in an international investment advisory firm and host a financial radio spot here in Costa Rica.
 
One of our first pieces of advice to all of our clients is "keep a minimum amount of cash in Costa Rica."  It sounds like Trevor only transferred enough to pay the bills of his company, so I suspect he is aware of this.
 
For the rest of the readers, few Costa Rica-based institutions are up to international standards.  The government-backed institutions have the advantage of government backing, but not much else. In the case of problems, they are rarely easily solved.  I will spare the details as to why.
 
Our firms´banking advice is to have the majority of your funds in safe, secure banks and institutions outside of Costa Rica.  I have my funds in the United States and Europe in insured banks in AAA debt-rated countries.  These accounts are also tied to money market rates paying much more than any local bank.  These funds can be easily accessed with a secure debit card or a checkbook (although checks take a long time to clear).  International credit cards are also good and have the advantage of more sophisticated security measures.
 
This is not to say that problems don't also happen in international banks, but the processes to solving these problems are more advanced and less bureaucratic. In the case of any problems, they can often be solved over the phone (I have yet to accomplish anything over the phone here).
 
We wish you well in retrieving your funds.
 
Dan Chaput
San Antonio de Escazú
 

A.M. Costa Rica is unique
in the coverage it gives


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Today I was surprised to read Martin Kelly's letter claiming this newspaper hurts Costa Rica's image. Having been a reader since 2004, having lived and owned property in the Central Valley during 2005-2006, I believe this paper gives its readers a side of the story not seen in Nación or the other Spanish-language papers and even The Tico Times.
 
I love Costa Rica, am married to a Tica, and hopefully in the future will live there again upon retirement. But one needs to know the truth and how it effects us as expats. The problems with Banco National, TLC, home invasions, pollution in formerly pristine communities will not be covered on Teletica TV or Nación, and when I recently visited for a nine-day vacation I decided to go to Playa Sámara rather than Tamarindo because I did not want to swim or have my family swim in filthy water.
 
Thank you for giving us the other side of the story. And I understand Mr. Kelly's concern as a property owner myself, it might hurt land value in the short term but hopefully once the alarm is sounded, things will be improved
 
Patrick Mach
St Augustine Florida
La Uruca, Costa Rica

Costa Rica has opportunity
to solve its pressing problems


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
In regards to Martin Kelly's letter: I appreciate and share his love for Costa Rica. It is absolutely true that crime, police corruption, and beach pollution are problems that can be found absolutely everywhere around the world, not just in Costa Rica. What makes Costa Rica unique and special is that the vast majority of the citizens believe better times are possible.  Costa Rica has a strong democratic tradition that allows for change to happen in a (hopefully) positive, constructive manner. That does not mean that all things are beautiful and perfect.
 
I am grateful that A.M. Costa Rica has the courage and compassion to report the good, bad and the ugly.  God bless Costa Rica, and God bless those that have the courage to report the truth. Shining a light on Costa Rica's troubles only strengthens the resolve of the people to make our world a better place.  
 
Frank Gayaldo, Jr.
Lodi, California

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Nov. 9, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 223





Rock adn Roll Thanksgiving dinner
Azucar restaurant


CRUNCH! Another benefit of living near a lake or stream in the tropics
They call this guy the langostino de agua dulce, but it really is not a lobster. It is a freshwater shrimp even though it is called a giant river prawn in English.

These are farmed heavily in Asia, This one was stranded after being stuck inland after seasonal floods in Santa Clara de San Carlos.  The locals also hunt, cook and eat them.  They say the meat is sweet.  The Latin name is Macrobrachium rosenbergii.
Fresh water shrimp
A.M. Costa Rica/Donna Norton


Contraloría approves financial plan for Hospital de Heredia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Contraloría General de la República Thursday said that it had approved the contract for a new, $36.3 million hospital in Heredia.

The Contraloría is the financial watchdog agency, and no major government deal can take place without its approval.

The hospital will be in six buildings or modules, and the general contractor is EDICA Ltda. The new facility will
take nearly two years to finish. It will take the place of the aging Hospital St. Vincent de Paúl that is the main Heredia facility now.
The structure of the hospital will be about $17.6 million, according to the Contraloría. The equipment inside will cost $18.7 more.

The plans call for a clinical laboratory, a surgery wing and imaging facilities.

The owner, of course, is the Caja Costarricense de Seguro  Social, the national social welfare organization that also runs the state medical programs.

The new facility will be called, simply, Hospital de Heredia, but it is likely that in the future the name of a politician will be attached to the facility.


Change is inevitable, but a skylight obsession may bear fruit
Things are changing around the Residencia.  I have been at a friend’s apartment in San José for the past week or so, and coming back I have been surprised with the differences.  Some of the helpers are gone, fired, I was told.  Teresa, the nurse has voluntarily left and been replaced by Flor who was part-time, and our very young so-called ‘professional chef’’ is no longer in the kitchen, either.  The meals have improved. All of the night guards seem to be new.

Victor no longer can take those of us who are able-bodied to our doctor’s appointments or the hospital.  These changes, it seems are by orders of the "junta." The last time I heard the word junta was in connection with the Franco regime back in the 60s.

The workmen who are turning the conference room into an apartment are finished digging and are now pounding and drilling and generally making a racket.

Jorge, the new administrator, seems intent upon making my stay here as comfortable as possible in spite of (or perhaps because of) all of these changes.  I wonder, though, if he will succeed in getting permission from the junta to cut the skylight I have asked for in my living room so that I get some sun. My apartment is cold and damp in the mornings and dark most of the day.  The night-long rains don’t help.

Years ago when I lived in San Jose, California, and shared a house with five other people, I decided to move into the room that had been made from half of the double garage. It was nice and large, and more private.  It didn’t have a bathroom, but I could live with having to go to the main house for that. 

Shortly after settling in, I found that the two smallish windows did not furnish enough light.  It wasn’t long before my gloomy garage room turned me glum. I became obsessed with the idea of a skylight to make my life perfect.  I would lie in bed at night, and mentally, over and over, cut a square in different places in the ceiling and then imagine my happiness in a well lighted (if not clean) place that would be my room.

 One Saturday afternoon in the middle of my studies, a little voice said, “You need a break today.”  So I put away
Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart
jostuart@amcostarica.com

 
my books, and with no idea where I was going, I got in my car and drove.  I happened to pass a building with an upstairs bar and a sign that said, “World Series on TV.”  I seldom went into a bar alone, and never in the middle of the afternoon, and I had absolutely no interest in the World Series, but that same little voice compelled me to park my car and go upstairs to the bar. 

There were only three people there — two men at the bar and the bar-tender.  The TV was off.  I asked about the World Series and was told that it had ended that week.  It was obvious that I was no aficionado of the game.  Of course, I was embarrassed. 

As I began to back away to leave, one of the men at the bar said, “Well, since you are here, why don’t join us for a drink.”  Again that little voice. “Go ahead.” it said. So I did! 

To make a long story short, as they say, the man who invited me turned out to be a friend of my anthropology professor and an architect. And thus, within two weeks (after I had got permission from the landlord), he himself was on the roof of my room, personally cutting a skylight to my specifications.

I think I should have to obsess a bit more about having a skylight here before I actually get one.  I will have to sit at my desk and gaze at my white ceiling and imagine the sun making my room brilliant — probably too brilliant on some days —  or even imagine the rain pelting it.  It will seem too easy if the junta says okay and I get one, just for the asking. 

But there are men working just down the way, so the workmen are already here.  They probably know how to do it. 

If I do get one, I hope it doesn’t leak as much as the other one did.



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Interpol issues 'red notices' for Argentine bombing suspects
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Interpol has put five Iranians and a Lebanese man on its most wanted list for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. In Miami, Jewish community leaders say the effort will pressure the Islamic government to stop supporting terrorist activities.

Delegates at Interpol's general assembly in Morocco approved the so-called "red notices" against the five Iranians and one Lebanese suspected in the attack. Argentine prosecutors are seeking Interpol's support in their probe into the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200 others. Argentine officials allege Iran ordered the attack and had Hezbollah militants carry it out.

At the Interpol meeting, Iran's delegate, Alireza Deihim, rejected the decision saying delegates had voted for political reasons.

"They are trying to pressurize against Iran with its peaceful nuclear energy and [its efforts] to be independent in the world," said Deihim.

Tehran says it has no intention of complying with the Interpol notices, which are not considered international arrest warrants. The notices include a former intelligence chief, the former head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Iranian diplomats in Buenos Aires at the time. Argentina also had been seeking former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, but Interpol denied that request.

Israel's government and Jewish community leaders around the world welcomed the decision against Iran, which Israel accuses of backing violence against it. The New York-based World Jewish Congress said the move was a victory for all those seeking freedom from fear or intimidation.
The Buenos Aires representative of the Simon Wiesenthal rights group, Sergio Widder, said the Interpol notices may not lead to arrests, but he says Argentina's government must keep pressing for justice.

Widder says Argentina has recognized the need to continue the investigation and seek the culprits, because impunity can have damaging political consequences.

More than 13 years after the bombing, no one has been convicted in the bombing, which officials in Buenos Aires believe may have included help from Argentine citizens. A separate bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires which killed 29 people in 1992, also has gone unpunished.
In Miami, Argentine Rabbi Mario Rojzman, who lost his sister-in-law in the 1994 attack, says he has become disillusioned with the justice system in his country.

"We want to know who was the local connection, we want to know who paid, we want to know why the policeman left the corner instead of taking care of the building," said Rabbi Rojzman. "These are all questions we will never have [answered]."

He thinks it is too late to get justice because evidence has been lost, including recordings of phone calls between Iran and the government's embassy in Buenos Aires.

Still, Rojzman says the Interpol wanted notices are important to put terrorist supporters on notice they cannot carry out attacks with impunity.

"When you don't resolve a case, you are always open to suffer the same consequences again," he said.

Rojzman says he believes Iran remains a threat to Argentina's Jewish community and others around the world, as long as the government continues to support terrorism. 


Antibiotic-resistant bacteria becomes a growing problem
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A top U.S. health official says the spread of antibiotic-resistant staph infections in community settings is a growing problem in the United States and around the world, but officials say they can be prevented.

Medical researchers say methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA killed more than 18,000 people in the United States in 2005, more people than the AIDS virus.

Most MRSA infections are contracted in hospitals, but doctors are now seeing a growing number of people infected by the drug resistant disease in community settings where people are in close contact, such as schools. MRSA, which can enter the body through cuts or wounds, is blamed for the deaths of at least two young students in the past month.

Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Wednesday, Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the bacteria a "bad bug," but said simple steps can prevent infection.

"We have to get back to basics. As you said Mr. Chairman, in your opening statement. It's hand hygiene, it's not 
sharing personal materials that could be contaminated with someone's staph. It's taking care of wounds and keeping them covered," she said.

The Centers for Disease Control says about a third of Americans are carriers of staph bacteria at any given time, but only 1 percent carry MRSA. Dr. Gerberding says evidence suggests infection rates in hospitals are decreasing. But with the increase in non-hospital related infections, MRSA has generated widespread concern.

Last month, a 17-year-old high school student in the eastern U.S. state of Virginia died of a MRSA infection. His death prompted officials to close 21 schools in the area for cleaning to keep the illness from spreading. Dr. Gerberding said the Centers for Disease Control is working to get information to schools and other high-risk environments, but more needs to be done to ensure prevention.

"So this is an opportunity for us to have a really broad campaign around preventing infections in schools and in homes and MRSA is a good hook for getting that message across," she said.

Although MRSA does not respond to penicillin and related antibiotics it can be treated with other drugs.


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Horses and riders will compete Saturday in endurance race
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Horses and riders will be put to the test this Saturday as they struggle through an endurance race near Cuidad Colón.

Three categories of competitors will race up to 55 kms. (34 miles) up hills and through farms with only the strength of their legs to spur their horses on.

Organizers expect as many as 50 riders and their Arab-breed horses to take part in the challenge, all competing for trophies and small cash prizes.

Horses have been known to die while tackling such distances, but vet checks and safety regulations, such as the banning of whips and spurs, will ensure that both horses and riders are in fit physical condition for the race, said organizers.

Only a few, however, will take on the most difficult distance, with most others opting for a more manageable 34- or 15-km. race, as many competitors with little experience join the race to try out the horses and learn more about the sport.  Those are distances of 21 and about 9 miles.

Both expats and Ticos from around the Central Valley
participate in the race, and the shortest distance is especially popular with children.

American organizer Krysia Peterson said, “We have a very keen circuit of riders in the valley. Costa Rican riders always do very well in the Central American Games. We've won a lot of medals and we have a lot of talented riders who take part in these events.”

Endurance horse races have been organized in the Central Valley for some 20 years, but this is only the second year that the event will take place in El Rodeo, a village near to Cuidad Colon.

After the main event there will be a second fun race in which competitors will gallop down a track holding a stick, which they will try to throw through a hoop at the finish line.

Spectators are encouraged to watch the action at the start, finish and at the vet checks where the horses will be cooled down and sent off again.

Budding riders should arrive for vet checks at 6 a.m., with helmet, an anemia test for their horse and a 15,000-colon ($29) entrance fee. Races begin at 9 a.m.

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