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(506) 223-1327          Published Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 231        E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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Restoration of Orosi convent will be celebrated Thursday

Church at Orosi
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The colonial convent in Orosi has gotten a makeover, and cultural officials will celebrate at the building Thursday.

The Convento de Orosi, as it is called in Spanish, contains a museum of colonial religious gear. The Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural invested 25 million colons, some $48,000, in restoring the convent from floor to roof. The Orosi Valley is southeast of Cartago.

The structure and the adjacent church date to 1743. They are a national heritage site where Franciscan missionaries lived and preached in colonial times. The roof tiles have been replaced as well as the flooring under the eye of cultural officials. Much of the structure is adobe.

José Francisco Ulloa, the archbishop of Cartago, will be among those attending the celebration Thursday morning.
Nevertheless, the adjacent church structure is in need of major repair, but this year there is no budget, officials have said.

Winds from the north expected to bring trouble
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national weather institute has issued a warning about possible flooding and small boat dangers along the Caribbean coast. And the Pacific looks like it will get its share, too.

Meanwhile, an academic source in Heredia is predicting tides of a height that have not been seen since Hurricane Beta came ashore in Nicaragua in October 2005. The tides are being driven by strong winds from the north, and the Atlantic mouth of the Panamá Canal is a special concern.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said weather instability continued in the northern Zone and the Caribbean slope due to the strong winds and a high moisture content. Strong gusts up to 60 kph (about 38 mph) were expected and a precautionary alert was issued for small boats in the north Pacific and the Caribbean.

There were wind gusts in the Central Valley Monday of up to 40 kph (25 mph) and the temperature dipped to 19.2 Celsius (66.5 Fahrenheit). Even in Liberia in Guanacaste the winds were 21.1 kph (13 mph).

From the Instituto de Costas in Heredia, Director Guillermo Quiros was not mincing any words. In an e-mail report he said that the expected
phenomenon had not been seen for years.

He shows that the northeast coast of Honduras and much of the Costa Rican Caribbean would feel the brunt of the strong winds heading directly south from the north. And he pointed out that the winds are in a direct line with the mouth of the Panamá Canal. He urged officials to take preventative action.

He said the strong winds could damage agricultural products and weak buildings.

The director added that sailing conditions in the Pacific also are difficult. He said he confirmed his estimates by contacting fishing boats in the Gulf of Mexico and also in the Pacific. One of the boats carried a Costa Rican flag.

Coincidentally, the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias and the Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica signed an agreement Monday allowing the emergency commission to use storage facilities of the junta, which operates the Limón docks.

Daniel Gallardo, emergency commission president, said that a preventative alert already was in force for the Caribbean as a way to test local emergency commissions for preparedness.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 231

Costa Rica Expertise
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Our reader’s Opinion

Costa Rica still has a lot
going for it now

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It has been almost 10 years since I first visited Costa Rica and over seven years married to a Tica. Your paper has kept me up to date on just what is going on in Costa Rica. I would like to first say thank you.

I have noticed many changes here in Costa Rica over the years. Latin America for that matter. In the States there is a fight going on about immigration. I know that America is the greatest country in the world. But what most Latin people do not know is the problems we have.

1.    Medical treatment and the cost of medical insurance.

2.    The way the laws have changed. It seems as if you work your whole life, buy a home, grow old and lose everything because of medical expenses. When you die in the States, if you are not rich, everything goes to the government not your family.

3.    The cost of education for your children. Can a Tico believe that one year in an university in the States for one child would cost over $30,000? My calculator runs out of 0s when I try to put this into colons.

4.    Most children in the States put their moms and dads in a convenient nursing home to continue the rat race to make ends meet.

My solution to these problems are simple. Move to Costa Rica. Even all of the hardships that I have encountered I still know that I can receive some type of medical treatment. I can put my two children in a university here to take the basic credits then send them off to the States to finish school and save money.

Costa Rica is not without problems but I see a different future than Mr. Cháves in Venezuela sees: One where all of Latin America is united in one hemisphere to compete with China and the EU.

This will take time, but by the time my son finishes school, he will enter a new world one in which you can live out of the States and work where ever you desire.

Greg, Beatriz, Jesse & Alexandra Bianchi
Visiting in Cartago

Impression from headline
is punishment was unfair

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I note with some concern that the writer of the headline on the Monday article about the robber who got 10 years in prison for stealing 110 colones demonstrated the same failure to be accurate as did every Costa Rican newspaper and leaves the impression that this poor soul was unfairly punished for something insignificant.

That is NOT true. This individual got 10 years for assaulting a child with a kitchen knife. That he would do it for 110 colones of bus fare simply indicates how dangerous he is and how necessary it is to get him off the streets.

Let’s be careful about the message people will get who only decide to read an article after they get hooked by the headline.

K. Noel Montagano

Counterproductive efforts
are what hurts tourism

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

There seems to be considerable wringing of hands that tourism is down and why?

Today,  A.M. Costa Rica reports that on a busy four-lane freeway from 8 p.m. To 11 p.m., dozens of tour buses have been stopped and the passengers robbed at gunpoint? And no police, no help? (Last year it was car rentals. Did that stop or just pushed under the covers?)

As a way to raise income, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo and the Arias administration have proposed hitting up everyone who gets off the plane a $15 right-of-passage fee. So before ever seeing a monkey or being held up on a tour bus, robbed in the hotel, it will cost a family of four $60? (Great idea! Get some money before it is all stolen.)

And if after being held up or robbed, you have money left over, the same family of four will pay another $26 each to get out of the country. (Total at Airport = $164)

For those tourists who will beat being held up at gunpoint by avoiding the shuttles and renting a car this year, our famous road holes are being patched, not repaired, just patched. The holes will remain patched until the next rain or next Mack truck, which ever comes first. So give yourself plenty of extra days to enjoy the adventure.

Traffic fines are proposed to increase 100 to 300 percent, and to make sure the transit police do play honest, the government does have the right to review their checking account activities.

Does anyone believe these bribes go into checking accounts? I say these new fine amounts translate to well deserved transit police raises because instead of paying $20 it will cost $40 to get out of a ticket.

Daily stories in La Nación depict Costa Rica as a true “culture of corruption” and we need to live with that reality on every level (Yes, to the very top where it starts and stops.) because nothing much else is being done about it except teeth sucking and head shaking.

With only these four examples, is there any wonder why tourism is down?

If the government won’t listen, then let’s let our wallets do the talking. Don’t forget that foreign investment, international tourism and expats living in Costa Rica still drive this economy and our only political right is “purchase power.”

It was not long ago when expats were welcomed to this country by the government with open arms, the promise of security and very favorable terms. Now? The average expat is not so welcome as much as tolerated. Hey! Just look at the proposed tax laws.

The idea is to effect positive change.

John Holtz

Professional Directory
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 231

The super popular impatiens has its roots in Costa Rica
By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Visitors often note how impatiens (“busy lizzie”) grows like a weed along the roadsides of the wetter parts of Costa Rica. That is because china, as it’s known locally, is a weed, an exotic invader. But the Costa Rican plant population was used to breed several of the commercial varieties of impatiens, now one of the most important bedding plants in the world.

Impatiens walleriana is part of the small botanical family Balsaminaceae. The genus Impatiens includes about 850 species, widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere and Old World tropics. There is a single native Costa Rican species of the genus, I. turrialbana, found only at middle elevations on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica and western Panama.

I. walleriana is native to East Africa, and was originally described to science by the English botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker as part of a study he made of the genus about 1905. Hooker was best known as a member of the original Ross Antarctic Expedition and later as director of the Royal Botanic Gardens and friend of Charles Darwin.

Impatiens for most means that species, which is cultivated in the tropics and subtropics worldwide. In its original state it is a succulent herb reaching a height of 80-100 cms. (from 31 to 39 inches) in its preferred wet, shady habitats. The abundant flowers are various shades of pink,
with a small amount of nectar that attracts butterflies. It is also known as “touch-me-not” since the tiny seeds are spread explosively from the seed pods at the slightest touch.

A.M. Costa Rica/Dennis Rogers
The multicolored impatiens

It was from the Costa Rican Impatiens population that Claude Hope developed the domesticated strains now cultivated in so many gardens, including where the plant cannot survive the winter and is treated as an annual. Hope came to Costa Rica during World War II to work on the production of quinine for malaria treatment needed by troops in the South Pacific.

After the war, he set up a breeding operation in Dulce Nombre de Cartago and developed numerous commercial varieties of petunias and other plants, and the Ripples, Grande, and Super Elfin varieties of impatiens.

Hope died in 2000 after more than 50 years in Cartago. The Linda Vista operation is now owned by Ball Horticultural Co. and continues to produce hybrid flower seeds.

Suspects in murder of magazine editor acquitted in court
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A three-judge panel acquitted a former boss of five other persons in the drive-by murder of editor Ivannia Mora Rodríguez.

The judges found that key evidence in the case had been obtained improperly. Chief Judge Rocío Pérez Montenegro read the sentence in the high-profile trial on live television. She was critical of the way the Ministerio Público and the Judicial Investigating Organization handled the case.

The six defendants showed signs of relief. One buried his head in his hands. Defense lawyers made the rounds of shaking hands and embracing.

Ms. Mora, then 33, died when she stopped her sport utility vehicle at a traffic light in Curridabat the evening of Dec. 23, 2003. Two men on a motorcycle pulled up and one fired multiple bullets into the woman.

She was well known in the journalistic community, and many of the reporters covering the story since then were her friends.

Ms. Mora had worked with Eugenio Millot at the financial magazine Estrategia y Negocios. Shortly before her murder she left that firm to produce a similar magazine for Credomatic.

Investigators detained Millot a few days later. They claimed he hired hit men to kill his former associate.

Ms. Mora was married with one child.

Eventually agents implicated five men as either intermediaries or killers. They were on trial with Millot. The trial began in May.
Francisco Dall'Anesse, the chief prosecutor said the case would be appealed to the Sala III criminal supreme court. He appeared surprised that the judges threw out the evidence.

The disputed evidence were two interviews, one in San José and the other in Bogotá, Colombia. The decision said that investigators did not follow the rules in obtaining the evidence and that the rights of the defendants were jeopardized. Unlike in some countries, the acquittal is not absolute. The Sala III could decide that the accused stand trial again.

But the verdict was enough to allow Millot and four co-defendants to leave the San Sebastian prison shortly after 7 p.m. Monday, about two hours after the verdict in the  Tribunal de Juicio del Segundo Circuito Judicial de San José in Goicoechea.

Millot, who was jailed most of the time since his arrest, was greeted outside the prison by his wife, a lawyer who served as part of his defense. The charges had been murder and conspiracy. One defendant stayed in prison because of an unrelated conviction. The five other defendants have been identified by the last names of Serna, Cortés, López, Nieves and Martínez

Dall'Anesse said he was surprised that the judges did not throw out the disputed evidence at the time it was entered into the case. Instead, they waited until the final verdict.

Costa Rican Spanish-language newspapers generally do not follow the principle that someone is innocent until proved guilty. A number of news stories and public statements by newspeople began with the assumption that Millot engineered the murder. There is a possibility of civil action by the magazine publisher against those who went on record calling him guilty.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 231

Barracuda Gallery artists team up with San José  public arts group Casa Las Palmeras to paint a mural on the side of Galeria del Mar Commercial Center in Playa, Tamarindo.  

Tamarindo's new art gallery will open with emphasis on AIDS awareness
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The owner of Tamarindo’s new Barracuda Art Gallery announced that it will open Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.  The grand opening will be exhibiting the work of seven contemporary artists from San José.

The day before the gallery is to open, owner Melissa Brenes and participating artists plan to commemorate the 18th annual World AIDS day.  They have decided to shroud the gallery windows in lengths of black plastic and post HIV/AIDS statistics and information concerning both Costa Rica and the world.  On the following day, the gallery opening will feature what organizers call a grassroots emphasis on actions that community members, as well as  artists can take in recognition of the AIDS pandemic.
The Barracuda artist collective, whose exibit will be on display December and January, will chip in by donating a portion of the profits to CONSIDA, an organization leading an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Costa Rica.

The opening of the gallery will also feature Esteban Leon and Pedro José Sanches of the San José group Extranjeros, who will be presenting their performance “Coreografia de  Combate.” The exhibiting artists includes Leda Astorga, Ms. Brenes, Sebastián Mollo, Francisca Munguia, Paulo  Sanchez, Daniel Strandlund, and Florencia Urbina.
The Barracuda Art Gallery will rotate exhibitions every two months and host openings accordingly.  It is located behind the Green Turtle Store in the Galeria del Mar Commercial Center of Playa Tamarindo. 

López Obrador assumes shadow presidency in México with pledge to poor
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The man who lost Mexico's presidential election in July has been sworn in as the head of a parallel government he has formed.

Andres Manuel López Obrador Monday declared himself Mexico's "legitimate president" as he donned a replica of the red, white and green presidential sash for the ceremony, which had no legal weight. López Obrador told thousands of supporters he would work for the poor.

López Obrador was defeated by conservative Felipe Calderón, who will take office Dec. 1. Calderón replaces fellow conservative Vicente Fox, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a second six-year term.
López Obrador says his shadow government will try to prevent the ruling conservatives from doing whatever they wish. His supporters have threatened to disrupt Calderon's inauguration.

López Obrador's event coincided with Mexico's celebration of its 1910 revolution.

López Obrador contested his loss to Calderón and claimed vote fraud. He charged that President Fox used the power of his office to support the incoming president.

Mexico's electoral tribunal rejected López Obrador's claims, although some observers and left of center publications agreed with him. His supporters camped out in the center of México City for weeks.

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