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(506) 2223-1327        Published Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008,  in Vol. 8, No. 226       E-mail us
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Want justice? Well, do it yourself, court says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Justice can be a do-it-yourself occupation in Costa Rica. Or at least some situations can illuminate the reluctance of judicial employees to seek justice.

Here is one case.

May 8 Saray Ramírez Vindas, A.M. Costa Rica's associate editor, took a walk toward the downtown from the newspaper office and passed through Parque España.

There, partly concealed behind one of the giant cork trees, was a naked man.

The exhibitionist did not get the shrieking reaction he sought. Ms. Ramírez calmly called police on a cell phone and rounded up a witness. The man put his clothes back on and inexplicably awaited the Fuerza Pública officers who arrested him.

A.M. Costa Rica published a short story about the  Hombre bucknakedis in the May 9 edition.

The expectation was that the Poder Judicial would put the man away and maybe find him some counseling. Or at least keep track of him.

Flash forward to the middle of this week. The Juzgado Contravencional del Circuito Judicial de San José served an order on Ms. Ramírez. The court told her that if she wished to continue with the case she would have to supply the exact address of the man who was identified as Julio Fajardo Angulo within three days or the case would be shelved.

Ms. Ramírez has not been keeping company with the man, and people at an address in Barrio México told a court messenger that he was not there.

Curiously, the case has evolved from that of a citizen reporting a presumed pervert to become a personal case between Ms. Ramírez and Fajardo.

A judge repeated the situation to Ms. Ramírez in a meeting Wednesday. It is up to her to provide the exact address of the man because the court
unwanted suspect
A.M. Costa Rica file photo
Julio Fajardo Angulo at time of arrest
 
just does not have the money to do so, the judge told her.

At the time of the arrest, Fuerza Pública officers said that the man now known as Fajardo had a record of other arrests and had been a suspect in street robberies. The man's actions suggested that exhibitionism was just the beginnings of his sexual ambitions.

A contravención in Costa Rican law is like a misdemeanor elsewhere. There is no danger of jail time, just a fine. Running around naked threatening women after dark in a public place is not considered a serious felony or delito.

So any reader who identifies this man could supply his exact address. They should look behind any cork tree.

Or better yet, just tell him that there are a bunch of easily frightened women and judges in the lobby of the San José judicial building who would just love to admire his naked, corpulent body. And give him taxi fare (refundable).



E-mail campaign seeks changes in immigration draft
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some expats and Costa Ricans who deal in residency or real estate are encouraging a write-in campaign to protest the proposed immigration law that will make it more expensive for foreign individuals to move and live here legally.

Javier Zavaleta, a Costa Rican who operates the Residency in Costa Rica Los Angeles office, prepared an e-mail letter in Spanish expressing his preoccupation with the draft.

"The impact on the Costa Rican society and economy would be terrible if the substitute text is approved in the form published in La Gaceta," Zavaleta wrote. He directed the e-mail letter to members of the legislature's Comisión Permanente de Asuntos de Gobierno y Administración and the assembly president.

A.M. Costa Rica appears to be the only publication that has reported on the draft that was published Oct. 27 in the official newspaper. The main concern is an increase in the financial capacity those seeking residency would have to demonstrate. For pensionados the available monthly amount shown by a formal pension would go from $600 to $2,000. Rentistas would have to show a monthly income of $5,000 instead of the current $1,000. A.M. Costa Rica reported Wednesday that a legislative committee has accepted the draft of the law as a
replacement and quoted the head of the committee saying that the measure was a consensus and that it might be sent to the floor of the Asamblea Legislativa in a week.

George Lundquist, who conducts tours for potential retirees, also is forwarding the draft to his customers. Zavaleta said he had contacted others in the residency and retirement tour business and that they, too, expressed concern.

Others in the real estate business told a reporter Wednesday that they were contacting lawmakers and asking them to review the legislation.

Zavaleta said in an e-mail that most persons on U.S. Social Security or the similar Canadian program would not be able to meet the proposed income requirements.

If the measure is reported out of committee intact, there still would be a debate on the assembly floor and possibilities for amendments.

A troubling clause in the draft proposal would seem to require those who already have residency here to meet the new income requirements when they renew their status. Some have said this is unconstitutional but residency is awarded in periods of years and a legal argument that each renewal is subject to current requirements might prevail.


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Our readers' opinions

Who happens if spouse
dies and income drops?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I find it almost impossible to understand the logic of the proposed change to the amount of income required to retire to Costa Rica.  Does the government realize that the average U.S. Social Security check is $1,090? 

My husband and I were planning on retiring in a few years.  We had the town all picked out and were going to begin to shop for property.  If the law passes, that will put an end to our search. 

If we are both receiving Social Security, we will probably (barely) meet the $2,000 requirement, but what if something happens to one of us?  Does the other have to leave the country?  What if the amount is increased?  Our fixed income is not going to change - do we have to leave? (I can't imagine how people already retired here must feel with the threat of being forced out of their homes hanging over their heads!)

How can I risk buying property when I might be thrown out of my home at a time when I will be most vulnerable?  If this law is passed, only the rich will be able to continue to buy exorbitantly priced properties to build vacation homes that they visit a few times a year and preclude middle class American retirees from joining and contributing to local communities.  Is this really what the government wants?

Mary Grant
Newtown, Connecticut

Country seems to discourage
those who seek to come


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

From today’s article on the proposed passage of the new immigration law in Costa Rica, it appears by all actions being taken that Costa Rica is not interested in having retirees relocate to its country. Apparently they are heading for a quick kill of the “goose that lays the golden eggs.” Like many states in the U.S.A., and now apparently in Costa Rica, the value of retirees and guaranteed pensions do not carry much weight.

Costa Rica has limited economic growth. Tourism, and people relocating to Costa Rica and trying to become residents are a great asset. Retirees are a mainstay of economy and represent a much higher dollar/colon monthly flow than do the Ticos and Ticas in general, so why is the government trying to discourage this element?

I have tried to do the right thing previously in 2005 to file for my residency. A crooked abogado was paid for services but never filed the paperwork. I have since started the process earlier this year, requesting and securing all the paperwork needed, prior to the latest change to immigration requirements in August.

I now find myself in a position of having to go through the same exercise in futility again, based on the burdensome new authentications, validations, consular review and approvals at $40/per doc in two different states in the U.S.A., and the updated documents I already have requested, received and paid for previously, are useless. Additionally, the newly proposed and likely to be approved requirement of having to also join Caja seems like the straw that will break the camel's back.

The idea of a perpetual tourist seems like an answer, unless Costa Rica passes a more stringent law to deter frequent visitors. They are already doing everything else possible to discourage new residents.

If I did not already own property, built a home and regularly visit and pay all the required taxes, utilities, etc., I would throw in the towel and try Panamá, where it appears they welcome the prospects of expats, and new residents.

If the trend continues in Costa Rica, I just may sell everything anyway, and try Panamá, although I love Costa Rica very much, its natural beauty, and wonderful  people.

For a country whose economy could use a boost, it appears the government is doing everything in its power to decrease its sources of revenues.
Linda Wilson
Hollywood, Florida
and Pasito, Costa Rica

Ambassadors to present credentials

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three new ambassadors presented their credentials to Costa Rican foreign ministry officials Wednesday. They are from Venezuela, Italy and France.  Nelson Ramón Pineda Prada will represent Venezuela.  Fabrice Delloye is the French ambassador, and  Diego Ungaro is representing Italy. All three were scheduled to present their credentials to President Óscar Arias Sánchez today.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 226

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Othello's Desdemona is not quite so innocent in Dominical
By Elyssa Pachico
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In past productions of “Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief,” a saucy spin-off of Shakespeare's classic tragedy “Othello,” the female characters engage in R-rated activities like playing with some naughty props and demonstrating spanking on a kitchen table.

Although a new reading of the play by the Dominical Little Theatre group uses only three microphones and some dramatic lighting for staging, theater group founder Monica Perez said most of the play's bawdy humor remains.

“If I was worried about people walking out, I would never put on a play,” she said.

Written by Pulitzer-prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel in 1993, “Desdemona” uses modern, graphic language to deconstruct the three main female characters from the original “Othello.” In the original play, Desdemona is killed by her jealous husband after he suspects her of an infidelity she didn't commit.

Her handmaiden, Emilia, is unwittingly manipulated by her scheming husband, Iago, into stealing the handkerchief later used to falsely convince Othello of his wife's guilt.

In both Vogel's and Shakespeare's versions, the woman with the most freedom to choose her own destiny is Bianca, a prostitute. In Vogel's comedic, fast-paced retelling, Desdemona is decidedly less innocent.

“In this version she's quite promiscuous, versus 'Othello' where she's so virtuous it's almost painful,” said Ms. Perez. “Desdemona rebels against her husband's control. It's her way of traveling around the world, by sleeping with other men.”

Panamanian actress Miroslava Herrera plays Desdemona, while first time actress  Lindsay Dreibelbis will play Bianca, the courtesan.

Despite dialog that is a dead ringer for a “Sex and the City” episode, Ms. Perez said she does not consider the work to be a feminist play. As provocative and sexually active as the women are, she said, they are still confined to a patriarchal world, where only prostitutes have some degree of freedom over their lives. 

“In a feminist play, I would consider the roles to be empowering, and the roles are not empowering in this case,” said Ms. Perez. “They're provocative and they do sort of bring up issues about women's roles in society, but because it's set in Shakespeare's time, these women have very little freedom.”
desdemona
Miroslava Herrera
. . . Desdemona
director
Martin Lutz
...director
bianca
Lindsay Dreibelbis
. . . Bianca

Adding to the play's uneasy take on feminism is its depiction of female friendships, or the lack thereof. The ever-loyal girlfriends of “Sex and the City” are also nowhere to be found here, as the three female leads conspire, lie and ultimately betray one another.

“One of the lines that's frequently quoted from this play is Emilia's: 'There's no such thing as friendship between women,” said Ms. Perez. “It's not a line that I agree with, but it's a line that describes the world these women are living in . . . . None of them trust each other. They're pretty much all alone.”

The play is the result of a six-week director's workshop which Ms. Perez held in June and July. The play's female cast and apprentice director, Martin Lutz, attended the workshop, and decided to put on an ensemble work to gain more theater experience, and also introduce Shakespeare to Dominical.

“It's kind of a way to introduce Shakespeare in a sideways manner to the community without giving them too much to absorb,” said Ms. Perez.

The play isn't the first time the Dominical Little Theatre group has presented a modern, accessible spin on a classic work. Ms. Perez's previous production, “Anna in the Tropics,” offered a modern retelling of Tolstoy's acclaimed novel “Anna Karenina.”

Ms. Perez, an Alaskan native who has lived in Costa Rica for 11 years and has been acting since she was six years old, founded the Dominical Little Theatre group in 2004. She said that while productions usually draw up to 100 people, some as far away as Quepos, she is expecting a much smaller turnout for “Desdemona.”

“There's fewer people in town right now, so we're putting it on for those hardcore expats who are here for the winter who are getting cabin fever and are looking for something to do,” she said.

“Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief”  will be performed tonight and Friday at Hotel Roca Verde in Dominical. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are 5,000 colons ($9) at the door for front row. General admission is 3,000 colons ($5.45).


Art show designed to raise funds for former workers in nation's sex industries
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new art show at the Galería Nacional del Museo de los Niños hopes to raise funds for families formerly involved in Costa Rica's sex industry. Sponsored by Fundación Rehab, a non-profit that supports women formerly involved in the sex trade, the art show brings together 14 local artists in an exposition entitled “Arte por amor.”

None of the artwork will directly address prostitution as a theme. Artists include Ana Griselda Hine, who has gained national acclaim for her watercolors and acrylic paintings. The display will include established artists, such as sculptor and painter Herberth Bolaños, and internationally acclaimed
  watercolorist Carl Aldana. Newcomers are also featured at the show, such as Xinia Matamoros, who works mainly with watercolor portraits of tropical fruits.

The Fundación Rehab, which held a fundraiser during the art show's inauguration Tuesday, will donate the funds to mothers, girls and teenagers previously involved in the sex trade, who are now either returning to school or seeking to reintegrate themselves into the job market.

The exhibition will run until the end of November. Entrance to Galería Nacional del Museo de los Niños is free. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.


Puntarenas fishermen block arrival of cruise ship in dispute over shark finning
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Servicio Nacional de los Guardacostas detained three boat captains and a crewman after fishermen in Puntarenas blocked the docking of the cruise ship "Coral Princess" Wednesday.

The fishermen were protesting a recent order about shark fishing as well as increases in licenses and the subsidized fuel they use.

The fishermen used four small boats and three medium-size vessels to keep the cruise ship full of tourists from docking, according to the coast guard.

The captains were identified by the last names of Núñez Cerdas of the "Marianela III," Soto Peña of the "Coopemarte I" and Meléndez Marchena of the "Don
Fernando."  A crewman with the last names of Aguirre Carmona was held for failing to pay child support, officials said.

The protest was directed against the agency Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura, which controls fishing.

The cruise ship, a major source of daily income for those in the tourist trade in Puntarenas, decided to skip Costa Rica and sailed for Panamá, said the coast guard.

The fishermen are unhappy about a rule that requires them to bring entire shark bodies to shore instead of simply cutting off their fins and dumping the carcass into the sea. The rule was put in place to reduce the slaughter of sharks. The fins are the most valuable part of the fish and are used in Asia as a delicacy


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 226


Tourism ministers agree to set up response unit for crises
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Tourism ministers from around the world have agreed to set up a new United Nations-backed committee to consider how to respond both to the downturn in international travel as a result of the global financial crisis and the impact of climate change.

At a summit in London, the ministers announced the establishment of a U.N. World Tourism Organization Resilience Committee after concluding the tourism sector needs increased collaboration, greater real-time market information and more innovation.

Enhanced public-private cooperation has also been identified as critical to the health of the tourism industry as it copes with the recent slowdown in international travel, according to a press release issued by the tourism organization Wednesday.

Agency partners such as Microsoft, Visa and Amadeus have agreed to support the committee.

Egyptian Tourism Minister Zohair Garrana will chair the Resilience Committee, which will monitor and analyze macroeconomic and tourism market trends and providing an information exchange for the sector on rapid and practical responses to challenges and problems.

Francesco Frangialli, the organization's secretary-general,  said his Madrid-based agency would continue to help the
tourism industry to weather the international downturn as best as possible.

“By the same token, we will not forget what tourism can contribute to poverty reduction in the world and to the fight against climate change,” he said. “The poor countries, some of which were already severely hit several months ago by the food crisis, will need more than ever the wealth and jobs that tourism provides for them.”

The organization reported this week in its regular barometer that international tourist arrival numbers slowed down during the northern summer this year – with growth slipping below 2 per cent in June, July and August – after averaging 5.7 per cent growth between January and April.

The agency added that its initial forecasts indicated that there will be an even more modest performance in the tourism sector in 2009 as the effects of the global financial crisis continue to take their toll, with many consumers finding that their travel budgets are being squeezed.

But overall growth for 2008 is still projected to reach about 2 per cent, thanks in part to robust growth in the Middle East and a better-than-expected performance in the Americas, the organization said. Europe, the Asia-Pacific and Africa have recorded weaker results.

Between January and August this year, 642 million international arrivals were counted, a rise of 23 million on the same period last year.


Street robbers continue to favor motorcycles as a means of transportation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Looks like the A.M. Costa Rica staff members are not the only ones to have suffered a robbery from two men on a motorcycle.

As reported Monday, two staff members were threatened and robbed by a pair of bike-riding crooks on Sunday night, and the trend seems to be continuing.

An expat who has lived in Costa Rica for the last four and a half years faced a similar robbery by a pair of men at 12:30 p.m., while walking towards the Bar Poás on Avenida 7 Nov. 5.

“One guy got away clean,” said the expat, referring to the man who choked him and who made off with 35,000 colons and a watch. “But the other guy got a little taste of American justice.”

After allowing the second man who robbed him to run away, the expat said he continued on his way to Bar Poás, where he spent the next several hours. He said he is uncertain whether his robbers originally approached him on a motorcycle, but he later saw them riding a yellow scooter that same night while he was taking a taxi home at 2 a.m.

In another incident Tuesday night, Moises Ulloa Bonilla was walking with his wife in Urbanización Lomas to a condo in San Rafael Arriba de Desamparadas, when at 7 p.m. they were approached by two men on a motorcycle. The two men threatened the couple, demanding that they hand over their wallets and jewelry. When Mrs. Ulloa tried to escape, one of the men grabbed her violently by the hair. Her husband tried to intervene and was then shot in both legs.

According to the Fuerza Pública, the two men on the
motorcycle then quickly sped away, without taking any of the couples' valuables. Ulloa was then taken to the Hospital San Juan de Dios for treatment.

In a similar incident on Wednesday, a man was shot in the left armpit while walking to work, near the Colegio de Farmacéuticos in Moravia. The victim, identified by the last name Sandoval, was intercepted by two men on a motorcycle who robbed and shot him before speeding away.

A taxi driver who witnessed the event took Sandoval to  Hospital Calderón Guardia, where he received treatment.

An agent at the Judicial Investigating Organization said it is unknown whether these incidents are related.


Home invaders net $2,720

By the A.M. Costa Rica Staff

A family of five in San Vicente de Moravia was robbed of approximately 1.5 million colons worth of goods after four men broke into their home Tuesday night. That's about $2,720.

According to the Fuerza Pública, the family was at home when at 8 p.m., a gang of four men wearing ski masks forcefully entered their house. After intimidating the family with verbal threats, the robbers dragged them into a bedroom and tied each of them up. The victims included an elderly grandmother.

The four men then raided the house, and left with 480,000 colons worth of cash (about $870). They also took cell phones and various other electronic goods, collectively worth one million colons, agents said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 226



A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.


Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


Newspages

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Statistics

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

Window-breaking suspect
faces a new allegation


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers in Hatillo said Wednesday they caught a local man trying to break the window of a car that was stopped in traffic.

They said they had a pretty good idea what the man was planning because they arrested him a few days earlier for the same crime. A judge set him free.

The man approached a car containing a woman driver and made an effort to break her vehicle's window. That is a typical event in Hatillo where the four-lane highway has a series of traffic lights.

The man was not successful the first time, and he returned to the same vehicle, this time to find police at his back. The 19-year-old was identified by the last names of  Madrigal Femeinas

Alejandro Siles, deputy chief of the Fuerza Pública in Hatillo, said that the man was turned over to the Juzgado de Flagrancia, a court designed to handle cases when the defendant has been caught red-handed.


Festival starts in Heredia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Centro Cultural in Heredia plans to celebrate its one-year anniversary with a three-day festival of music, arts and dance.

Activities begin today at 5 p.m., and end Saturday at 8 p.m. Highlights include a boleros concert tonight at 8 o'clock and an evening of choral performances Friday.  A parade of mascaradas down Heredia's main street is also planned for Saturday at 2 p.m. 

The Centro Cultural has supported community programs like a music school, where currently more than 100 students are enrolled, taking clarinet, piano, saxophone and violin lessons. The center also promotes classes in modern and traditional dance, and hopes to establish a philharmonic orchestra in the near future. 


Mexican flights increased

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The airline LACSA will increase its flights to México from six to 14 each week while Mexicana de Aviación will increase flights from 10 to 14, according to an agreement announced Wednesday.

The pact was approved by the Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil, and its Mexican counterpart. Officials said the increases were prompted by market demand.

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