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(506) 2223-1327        Posted Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 227            E-mail us
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The big rock that dropped onto the Interamericana Norte did so just a few yards from the bailey bridge installed over a washout at Cambronero. Highway officials say the route will be closed at least until Friday because there are at least six more big boulders threatening the road from above. The Autopista del Sol is an alternate route as is Ruta 3 through Monte de
Aguacate. The rock fell Monday and became the latest in what is turning out to be a long-running series of disasters involving the national highway net. The Interamericana Sur remains closed at Kilometer 248 between Palmar Norte and Paso Real. Other smaller routes remain closed as a result of the four days of rain during the first days of the month.

Yes, Virginia, you can make it to Golfito depósito
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One of the commercial centers taking a big hit from the early November storm is the Depósito Libre Comercial de Golfito. That's where Central Valley residents go to get cut-rate tires, alcohol and kitchen appliances.

The Golfito commercial center was designed to provide financial activity to the area after banana operations ceased. Purchases can be made free of taxes by persons who stay overnight nearby. But the perception is that Golfito in southwest Costa Rica cannot be reached by Central Valley residents, and this is the big Christmas shopping season.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that those wishing to visit Golfito can do so via the Interamericana Sur to Pérez Zeledón then detour to Dominical and pick up the Costanera Sur, the Pacific coast road.
The usual route via the Interamericana Sur is closed at Palmar Norte due to massive landslides.
The ministry also noted that the trip will take longer because of other problems en route. For example, the Cerro de la Muerte has restrictions that may add travel time.

The Costanera Sur suffered a washout in early November, but the route was repaired even as other roads were jolted out of service by slides through Nov. 5.

The Costanera Sur still has some problems but traffic is getting through. There also are cleanup operations on both the Costanera and the Interamericana that might mean more delays.

The situation in Golfito is just a snapshot of the damage to commerce all over the country from the four days of unusual rain brought by Tropical Storm Tomas.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 227

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Homeward bound office workers cannot miss the nighties hung above the pedestrian mall to commemorate 42 women and children who died from domestic violence. The display promotes Nov. 25, called a day without violence.

Our reader's opinion
Costa Ricans will fight
if diplomatic efforts fail

 
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The island of Calero is part of the Costa Rican territory that was invaded by Nicaraguan troops last Nov 1. Leading the invasion was Eden Pastora the well known Sandinista hero during the Nicaraguan coup d'etat in 1979.

They not only invaded the country but also caused ecological damage while trying to expand their border bulldozing the river, throwing the debris and chopping part of the swampy forest in their neighbors country.

Showing disrespect and force inside Costa Rica and their sovereignty, financed by ALBA which is the group formed by Communist dictator of Venezuela Hugo Chávez.   Without any legal basis, they are trying to expand their cancer called communism in our territory using violence and intimidation.

The treaties of 1858, the Cleveland treaty, the Alexander treaty, maps published by both countries clearly define the borders of both countries. It also has been of public knowledge that the island of Calero belongs to Costa Rica. There is no space for interpretation or opinion about what belongs to Costa Rica and where the limits are located.

Pastora had said that it is no man's land. During this time and age there is no such thing. Every property has an owner, and Calero belongs to Costa Rica.

There are several motives for this conflict. One is for political reasons to try and boost Ortega´s image and Pastora´s eternal wish to become president, although the Sandinista government doesn't necessarily like him, and now Costa Rica which had helped him and was his home for many years considers him a ¨persona non grata.¨

The other personalities involved are Hugo Chávez, who last year used one of his puppets, Honduran ex-president Manuel Zelaya, who tried to become a dictator in his country. This was not allowed by the Honduran troops and he now is trying to use the same strategy with Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, while knowing that Costa Rica does not have an army to defend itself. Chávez believed that it would be easier than Honduras.

What he wasn´t expecting was that Costa Rica while very peaceful is also a strong-willed and brave country who will defend its democracy and borders first through diplomatic means and, if needed, with the help of foreign democratic troops, and many citizens that would gladly join in the defense of the country.

This clear violation of Costa Rican territory is one of the results of the ALBA and the wrongfully named ¨Peace bases ¨ promoted by Venezuela.

What do readers think would happen if Costa Rica invaded their islands of Solentiname and the Lake of Nicaragua ?

Nicaragua uses force to intimidate its own people and thinks it can do the same with their southern neighbors, but Costa Rica is not the kind who will allow that to happen.

The resolution the Organization of American States was in favor of Costa Rica´s demand to withdraw the Nicaraguan troops. The results were 21 in favor. Venezuela and Nicaragua voted against it, and Ecuador, Dominica and Guyana cast blank votes. Bolivia did not participate in the voting.

The diplomatic route to solve this situation is advancing, but if at any point it does not, Costa Ricans will do as the national anthem says: ¨When someone tries to stain our glory, you will see its people brave and strong and you will hear the sound of arms in battle.
Gregory Kearney Lawson
Rohrmoser   

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 227

Latigo K-9

little ditch
Miniserio de Gobernación, Policías y Seguridad Pública photo
Small ditch carries some water now. The Nicaraguan army headquarters is in the upper right
Costa Rica continues diplomacy but detains Nicaraguans
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Nicaraguan workers really have dug a trench across the Isla Calero, and Costa Rican officials knew about it since at least Thursday.

That was the day a security ministry plane flew over the work site and took photos of the ditch. The hand-dug trench, which now appears to be filled a few inches with water does not look like much, but locals expect the hydraulic power of the river to rip through the island and create another mouth for the Río San Juan. A.M. Costa Rica reported on the presence of the ditch in an update Friday.

Even over the weekend Costa Rican officials did not seem to realize the significance of the ditch.

Tuesday in Barra del Colorado, Costa Rican police began rounding up illegal Nicaraguan immigrants. Six of them, a woman and five men, were identified as possible Nicaragua agents. Costa Rican immigration authorities were taking them to the holding facility for illegal immigrants in Hatillo. They also are expected to be questioned by Costa Rican intelligence agents. Some of those detained carried items that were issued by the Nicaraguan army, police said.

In all, 17 Nicaraguans were detained by noon, according to reports from Barra del Colorado. This is not unusual because the border is fairly open in that area and the question of nationality seldom comes up. Unofficial reports said that 10 illegal Nicaraguans were put in a boat for deportation.

The six who are suspected of being Nicaraguan agents were detained in a home in the community. Police did not say if they found anything confirming their suspicions.

Also Tuesday, Casa Presidencial reaffirmed the country's pacifist commitment and said its delegation in Washington, D.C., would seek to convene another session of the Organization of American States. The tentative dates are Nov. 29 and 30, Casa Presidencial said. The central government also said that a team of experts from the organization were to arrive in Costa Rica Friday to observe. However, the organization quickly disputed that claim.

It was at the Organization of American States that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega suffered a major diplomatic defeat Friday when delegates voted that he should remove his country's troops from the island. Only ally Venezuela voted with him.
Vice President Alfio Piva said that the country would file a complaint with the secretariat of the international treaty on wetlands of international importances. This is the treaty known as Ramsar after the Iranian city in which it was signed in 1971.

The wetlands in northeast Costa Rica that are being excavated by Nicaraguans have been listed as being of international importance since 1996. The environmental damage there is clear from air photos taken by the security ministry.

The photos show that the Portillo lagoon is involved in the Nicaraguan project. Pivo said the appeal to the treaty secretariat was designed to show the country's concern with the Nicaraguan activities. 

These activities were done without studies and will constitute irreversible damage if the canal goes through, Pivo said.

Residents in the Barra del Colorado area not far from the lagoon said they believe that the area is highly important in the growth of the world-class tarpon that are found there. They said they think that tarpon fry spend their early years in the lagoon.

In Nicaragua Tuesday, thousands of students and supporters of Ortega marched in what they said was the defense of the Río San Juan and national sovereignty. They specifically rejected what they said were the pretensions of Costa Rica, according to the La Prensa newspaper there.

President Laura Chinchilla plans to reaffirm pacifism. Her schedule tonight shows that she will appear at the 27th anniversary of the proclamation that Costa Rica is neutral in international conflicts.

That declaration, by then-president Luis Alberto Monge in 1983, was prompted by the civil war in Nicaragua.

Some Ortega opponents in Nicaragua are concerned that the work on the river, disguised as a dredging project, was never subject to the governmental bidding process as the law requires. The $2.5 million for the project is believed to have come from Venezuela.

There also is concern that the project is not to develop the San Juan as a transport route but to create a location for an expensive marina for foreign interests in which Ortega and the director of river operations, Eden Pastora, will share.


Web site hosts reports of BBG's outrageous phone charges
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The law firm taking on BBG Communications Inc., announced the address of a Web site Tuesday where victims of outrageous overseas telephone credit card charges can complain and perhaps join in a federal class action law suit.

The site is http://www.bbgovercharge.com

Consumer lawyer Alan Mansfield and consumer advocate John Mattes, also a lawyer, said this is the first case targeting the long-running BBG operation. The business is owned by a family living in Tijuana, México. The legal case puts an international dimension on the company that has phones at perhaps as many as 400 Costa Rican hotels.

"The company makes huge profits off consumers by never posting credit card rates on the 350,000 phones BBG operates worldwide," said the Web site. Consumers only see rates for coin calls and only learn of the huge connections fees and pricey rates for minutes after they get their credit card bills. Many consumers also report charges for calls that never go through."

At one time and perhaps now BBG had a relationship with the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, which was the monopoly telephone provider in the country.
"The lawsuit alleges that along with the hidden overcharges, the company takes elaborate steps to avoid consumers who are seeking refunds and justice," said the Web site. "The company operates under a dozen different names and behind shell companies in Bermuda and Switzerland. Consumers never get the full name and address of the company on credit card statements, and when consumers call the company the company refuses to disclose it’s location. The company bills over 300 million minutes a month, so losses to consumers amount to tens of millions.

A.M. Costa Rica disclosed the company's operations here two years ago, but Mattes said complaints go back five years. The San Diego, California, Better Business Bureau has nearly 600 complaints, the Web site said.

The new Web site is beginning to attract stories of overcharging. A soldier returning from duty in Iraq said he was charged $42 for a call when his plane stopped at a German airfield.

Some victims report charges in excess of $150 for short calls.

The Web site contains a contact form for individuals who wish to share a BBG experience or participate in the suit.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 227


Canadian woman's campanion murdered by Osa robbers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Home invaders are believed to have killed the Costa Rican companion of a Canadian women Monday night when they robbed a cabana where the pair lived in Rincón de Osa, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The crime happened just before 8 p.m., agents said.

The man, whose last name is Chavarría, was set upon by at least two men who had knives. The pair had been tied up by the crooks, agents said. They reported that when police arrived they found the man dead on the floor of the second
story bathroom and the woman wandering nearby.

Chavarría, reported to be 39 years of age, suffered wounds in the neck, back and body, agents said.

The woman was not identified, but informal sources said her name was Sheila Love.

The robbers took cash, a computer and cell telephones and made off with the woman's vehicle, police said.

An autopsy is scheduled, the Judicial Investigating Organization said.



Drug arrests include three Heredia mothers, police said

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug agents detained five persons on narcotics charges over the weekend in La Milpa de Guararí de Heredia. Three of them were women who all had children in the home where the police raid took place.

One child was 14, one was 5, one was 2 and one was four months.  All four were turned over to the Patronato Nacional de Infancia, the child protection agency.

Anti-drug police said they acted after getting 21 complaints from neighbors.

A woman with the last names of Sequeira Gutiérrez was detained and identified as the leader of the group. She is 42 and the mother of the 14 year old.

Also held were two daughters, both with the last names of Brenes Sequeira. One is 20 and the mother of the infant. The other is 23, and the mother of the children 2 and 5, said police.

Also detained was the companion of the older daughter. He is 22 and has the last names of Hidalgo Méndez, said police. Another person, identified by the last names of Mendoza Badilla, who is 19, was detained as an assistant to the women.

 
family arrested
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
Mothers are led off after drug arrests. Inset shows their agricultural achievements.

An illegal Nicaraguan identified as a drug customer, also
was detained and turned over to immigration agents, police said.

Agents confiscated live marijuana plants, 100 doses of crack and money, they said



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For your international reading pleasure:

News of Nicaragua
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News of Bolivia     News of Ecuador
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 227

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

U.N. peacekeepers blamed
for bringing cholera to Haiti


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Haitian protesters have clashed with United Nations troops, blamed for helping to spread cholera in the Caribbean nation. At least two people died in the clashes, which are raising tensions about the epidemic.

Protests took place in several Haitian cities, including the northern city of Cap-Haitien and Hinche, in Haiti's central valley. Some protesters set up barricades and opened fire on United Nations troops, who fired back in Cap-Haitien.

Officials with the U.N. mission in Haiti said the protests were organized by political agitators, in an effort to disrupt the county before presidential elections set for November 28. In a statement, U.N. officials said peacekeepers are continuing to work with Haiti's government to maintain order and ensure the safety of the elections.

Protesters say they are angry at U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal, who are believed to have brought the cholera bacteria into Haiti. The suspicions center on a Nepalese camp near the Artibonite river in central Haiti, where the cholera epidemic was first detected.

Health experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say initial tests show the cholera strain in Haiti closely matches one found in South Asia. They say additional testing is needed to understand where the bacteria came from and how it arrived in Haiti.

U.N. officials have denied that latrines used by the Nepalese troops were the source of the cholera infection.

Meanwhile, hospitals and clinics are struggling to treat the growing number of people suffering from diarrhea and dehydration, which may be signs of cholera infection.

The France-based group Doctors without Borders says they have treated more than 16,000 people with cholera-like symptoms at 21 clinics it operates around the country. Another report said that a case was diagnosed in the adjacent Dominican Republic.

At one of the group's clinics in Port-au-Prince, Dr. Francois Servranckx says the pace of new patients has eased but only slightly. "It's no longer doubling every day, like it was. But it is still a significant increase. We are talking about more than 1,000 patients being treated in a week," he said.

Health officials say the water-borne disease has now spread to most of Haiti's regions. Servranckx says health workers fear the epidemic will get much worse in coming weeks. "It started in the Artibonite, it spread to the northern side of the country now. It came to Port-au-Prince. In Port-au-Prince we have an increasing number of people coming in to our facilities, but it is probably just the beginning," he said.

Haitian officials say more than 1,000 people have been killed by cholera since it was first detected last month.

Health experts say poor sanitation and lack of clean water supplies have fueled the epidemic. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians continue to live in tent camps with limited access to water supplies, following the January earthquake that destroyed parts of the capital and other nearby cities.
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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 227


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Money display Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Museums of the Banco Central plan a coin collector's fair Saturday at the museums, which are below the Plaza de la Cultura.

The event is open to anyone who wants to buy or sell coins, bills and even coffee tokens.

Some of the vendors are major collectors, and they usually bring items to display as well as sell.

The museums include one dedicated to the history of Costa Rican money.

The museum said that the event would be appropriate for someone who wanted to begin a collection of historic Costa Rican money.


Ferry fares going up

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The fare for the Puntarenas-Naranjo ferry is going up an average of 24 percent for passenger cars, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. Other vehicles face a hike of from 18 to 31 percent, the ministry said.

The company operating the route, Coonatramar R.L., complained of lack of profit, and the ministry noted that there had been no rate increase for a year, it said.

Passenger vehicles now pay 6,050 colons or about $11.92.  Operators will pay 7,500 colons or about $14,78, based on the current rate of exchange.

Tractor trailer operators will pay up to 31,500 colons or about $62.

The new rates take effect the day after they are published in the La Gaceta official newspaper.


No dancing for record

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San José has canceled the proposed attempt to enter the Guinness list of world records with the largest class of swing Criole.

In a brief statement the municipality said that the event, planned for Sunday, was being suspended due to problems by the organizer, Producciones Gozzamba. The city had hoped that 3,000 dancers would participate for three hours on Paseo Colón.






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