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(506) 223-1327        Published Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 233          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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How many ways do we give thanks?
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today, Thanksgiving in the United States, has special meanings for expats in Costa Rica.

We give thanks for the approaching end of the rainy season and the start of the exciting high tourist season. More so if we have a tourism business.

We give thanks for the start of the holiday season, one of the great times of the year because Costa Ricans really know how to keep Christmas well.

We give thanks for an Internet that, despite struggles and strains, continues to improve. This links us to family and friends elsewhere. And don't forget cable television.

We give thanks for rising property prices. And we give thanks for the newcomers who pay those prices.

We give thanks for the rough, pothole-filed roads that let us pretend to be pioneers.

We give thanks to both oceans that caress our bodies as we wallow and relax in the surf.

We give thanks to the corner fruit stand that has a different selection of the country's bounty every week, and they all are juicy and good.

We give thanks to Fuerza y Luz, AyA and ICE for maintaining give-away prices on electricity, water and phones, thanks to substantial subsidies.

We give thanks to a climate where — despite occasional nights in the 50s — no one has to buy fuel oil, coal or natural gas for heat.

We give thanks for a better than average group of medical professionals who give first-world service at Tico prices.

We give double thanks to improving  retail selections.

And we give thanks to the Costa Rican people for letting us share their land, language and culture.

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More rain predicted
as shelters are closed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The last of the shelters erected in the canton of Corredores to house the victims of Tropical Depression Gamma have closed and the people have returned home, said the emergency commission.  However, 148 persons are still living in temporary shelters in Golfito, the commission said. 

However, the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias is maintaining a red alert for the cantons of Corredores and Golfito as a result of the damage done to houses, roads and bridges. 

Coto Brus has a yellow alert and the central and south Pacific, the Caribbean and the zona norte still have green alerts, the commission said.   These precautions are a result of the cold front that has swept in from the north and according to the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional rain will stick around in these regions until at least Thursday. 

The emergency commission is keeping a group of technicians in the two cantons to evaluate the damage done to 500 homes, 84 roads, 26 bridges and five dikes, the commission said. 

The weather institute said Wednesday that Tropical Storm Delta, No. 25 this year, has formed in the Atlantic near the Azores.The institute said its professionals doubted that the storm would have an influence here.
Sept. 11 film promotes
conspiracy theory

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Organizers of the monthly speaker's forum at Big Mike's Place in Escazú are planning to show the documentary, “Loose Change,”  a 78-minute film by Dylan Avery that suggests that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, may have been an inside job by the United States government. 

The producer of another 9/11 film, “In Plane Sight,” called “Loose Change,” the best film in existence on the subject, said Sam Butler, the speaker's forum organizer. 

Among other claims, the film suggests that the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not the civilian flights the U.S. government said they were and that the planes fired missiles at the buildings a couple of seconds before impact. 

The film is scheduled to show at 6:45 p.m. but organizers ask that people come at 6:30.  Food and drinks will be available and can be consumed during the film.  Entrance is 1,000 colons. 

For more information, call 289-6333, 821-4708 or Big Mike at 289-6087. 
Residents association
plans Yule gala Dec. 10

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Association of the Residents of Costa Rica and the Canadian Club are holding their annual Christmas Gala Dec. 10 at Hotel Melia Cariari.  The event starts at 6 p.m. 

“Grupo Electra,” and Martitza Delcore's “Tango Dance Group,” are the scheduled entertainment.  This is the event's fifth year and everybody is invited, said Elsa Miller, the wife of Bob Miller, president of the residents association. 

Mrs. Miller said the groups are planning on 150 persons showing up to the event, but everybody is welcome and invited, she said.  There will also be a bar in addition to the dinner and entertainment, but it is not free, she said. 

Mrs. Miller added that it is a good idea to round up eight or 10 people so patrons and their friends can take a whole table.  She recommends in addition that people wishing to attend buy their tickets beforehand although some will be available at the door. 

The cost of entrance is 12,500 colons per person.  The cost covers the hotel banquet room, dinner and the entertainment, she said.  That's about $25.

For more information, contact Alan Weeks 256-5848 alan@weeks-imc.com, ARCR staff 233-8068 arcr@casacanada.com, Vicky Kieke 203-3652 club_president@canadianclubcr.com or Elsa Miller 228-1250 remiller@ice.co.cr. 

Rubber checks passed
at Puriscal businesses

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Agents with the Judicial Investigating Organization in Puriscal are looking into the circumstances surrounding a possible fraud in Puriscal. 

Fuerza Pública officers in the same town arrested a 19-year-old man identified as Anibal Acdulio Ashburn Fonseca in connection with two bad checks passed exceeding 1.2 million colons ($2,434) the week prior, the officers said.

Monday, Ashburn passed a check for 600,000 colons ($1,217) at the Coope Alianza, a hardware store in the town, agents said.  When employees at the store realized the check was false, they told the rest of the stores in the town of the bad check and described to them Ashburn's physical appearance, agents said.

Tuesday, Ashburn went to the Deposito El Cedral to buy more materials and passed a check for the same amount, the agents said.  Police arrested him there, they said.  

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 233

More readers respond to story about sex unit and letter on prostitution
Paul Chaves characterized
as an empire builder

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

This Paul Chaves, sex crimes unit chief, is obviously a fanatic empire builder. Would not the 40 people employed there and now the proposed 100 be better employed except for 5 or 6 on cleaning up crime in the core of San José?

The age of consent should obviously be lowered to 15 with the earlier maturation of young women. If it is a case of non-consual activity and rape then obviously the penalty should be severe.

I find Mr. Bridges’ comments on crime in San José ludicrous. I always watch my back and don’t feel safe when walking in core San Jose. Crime in American cities may be bad, but it is important to note that white crime in U.S.A. is very low as it is throughout the world. I leave it to others wiser than I to surmise the origins of criminal activities as I will not point any fingers. But the facts are there. Draw your own conclusions.

Bill Collins

He takes exceptions
to reader's 'tradition'

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I must take issue with Mr. Nutter’s opinion letter of Nov. 23, 2005.  I think most Latinos, and especially the Costarricense, must be offended by the term “fine old Latin tradition,” when speaking about prostitution in their countries.  I, for one, being an American, and also sharing the last name of thousands of Costa  Rica’s fine citizens, am personally offended by this racist statement.

It seems he also left out that “fine old tradition”  of DRUG SMUGGLING.  An equally offensive and racist comment.

I like to think of fine old Latin traditions in Costa Rica as: educating their young, providing medical services, ecological preservation and adult children taking care of their parents and grandparents.  True and worthy  fine old Latin traditions.

Since when has “sexual tourism” been promoted to the extent that a country needs it to survive?  Since when have foreigners thought that they are contributing to the social welfare of a country by engaging in this  practice?  By thinking they are raising the income of a woman who has to sell herself, they are contributing to the debasement of women and helping embolden a criminal element.

I fully understand cultural differences between our two countries, and don’t think my opinions are not influenced by my being American.  But this BS about financial security in Costa Rica is hogwash!

Let’s look at the reasons for prostitution in Latin America.  I’m  sure this is not the career of choice for most girls and women.  I use  “girls” also because most probably start out as underage prostitutes.  Their families may be poor, they may not have an education, they may be single mothers and may also have to care for family members.  This profession is  borne out of desperation and poverty in most cases!

I’m sure many women are driven to drugs, possibly because of the shame they have for the way they earn a living.  Others may contract STDs or also become  pregnant.  She may also be beaten by her clients or otherwise abused.  I’m sure not much of this is reported because of the nature of the profession.

The cost of medical services and police intervention will strain the resources of the countries only further.

And by its patronage among foreigners, coming down for a good time on the cheap, the cycle will only continue to grow.  God help Costa Rica if this becomes the major source of tourism dollars flowing into their economy. The safety foreigners may feel seems also to be suspect.  We all remember about the transvestites picking up men, drugging their drinks and then rolling them for their money.  Criminals will always gravitate to this kind of behavior.
As far as the Costa Rican government is concerned with showing more kindness and respect rather than being ashamed of it’s prostitutes, I ask you where is there any government in any country that is proud to have prostitution as a national industry.  Nowhere! Not even in Amsterdamed. And how would the government refine it toward wholesomeness and safety for the working girls and customers? By making it a family activity?.....Get real!

I’m not a moralist in the sense that I do not realize there are situations and circumstances that drive people to this “profession.”   Poverty and other reasons will cause many to do things they would not ordinarily do.  I have sympathy to anyone who has had to resort to this way to earn a living.  But exploitation by Americans and other foreigners looking for discount “fun” should take a step back and really think about what they are doing.  Next time you go, just leave a big enough tip so that you would pay the equivalent of an American “pro” and maybe she can feed her family a little longer without turning another trick.  This way you can feel like your contributing to the financial security of Costa Rica.

Also, if all we do in the U.S.A. is read our Bibles and prepare for the next war . . . . what are you still doing here?

Writing letters extolling the virtues and benefits of prostitution in Costa Rica is, to me, like strip mining, deforestation and polluting.  They only serve a small group of people looking to benefit from other peoples misfortunes. I hope Costa Rica will continue to be a place where foreigners will be welcomed to enjoy all of the natural beauty and hospitality it has offered in  the past.

I’d like to say, in the final analysis, there are no easy answers to prostitution, crime and the human condition.  Life is very complex and people do what seems needed at certain times in their lives.  We  should be careful not to judge a person by the lifestyle they have chosen.  After all, we live a wonderful life in the USA, and we did not have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Al Loria
New York
Rhode Island is among
states OKing prostitution

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Actually, two U.S. states allow for some form of legal sexual services. Regulated brothels are legal in 11 counties of Nevada and in Rhode Island, the simple act of sex for money is not “technically” illegal, street solicitation and operating a brothel are, however.

In Nevada, any county that has a population of less than 400,000 can have licensed brothels if it chooses. In 2005, Clark County (Las Vegas) was the only county in Nevada with a population of over 400,000. Brothels are illegal in Carson City, Douglas County, Lincoln County, and Washoe County; one county (Eureka) neither permits nor prohibits brothels, but doesn’t have any. The 11 other counties permit licensed brothels in specified areas, there are approximately 30 total in the state.

James Wolf
Orlando, Fla.

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to wire service reports, prostitution is illegal in Rhode Island— but only outdoors, as a result of a poorly worded rewrite of the state’s vice laws.

We should not have run
letter on prostitution

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Gentlemen!  I have lived in C.R. For the past three years and have read A.M. Costa Rica long before moving here. I do not understand why you would lower yourself to the point of publishing the e-mail from John Nutter, re: prostitution, in the Wednesday edition.

It is an insult to Costa Rica, women, and all decent people, all around the world. It is a sick letter in an attempt to justify his inmoral lifestyle, and his name should be added to the long list of sick-minded individuals that come here to corrupt our youth.

Yes, he has a right to his opinion, but you have a right and an obligation not to print the e-mail. Please use better judgement in the future.

Ed Parker
El Aguacate
He says we misstated
his views in headline

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I disagree with the headline (”And another says pimping should be legal”) given my editorial reply to the coverage of Chávez seeking to tighten restrictions on pimping. As I stated in the editorial that I don’t believe everything associated with prostitution should be illegal except for the act of prostituting itself. For me this issue represents a conundrum where the person selling sex receives legal protection, but everyone else doing business with her whether it be of a sexual nature or not is criminally liable and susceptible to government scrutiny.

Likewise, in the U.S. many are concerned with the potential abuse of government power via the Patriot Act, etc. Would it be logical to have a legal right to murder someone with a gun, but prosecutable if you sold the killer the gun? Prostitutes in the U.S. have been prosecuted for murder for infecting clients with HIV. Are Costa Rican prostitutes somehow on a higher moral plain via the government’s interpretation?

It would appear Costa Rican authorities want to maintain the economic value that legal prostitution provides, but gradually by indirect means squeeze it out of existence. Contrary to the headline given my initial editorial on the subject if Chávez and others are opposed to aiding and facilitating sex workers then let them debate the core issue, which is the merits of legal prostitution. Hopefully the wishes of the Tico people rule the day.

I don’t defend pimping over prostitution or vice versa, but ask that the law be consistent considering the disparity between CR treating prostitutes as a commodity, but pimping as a moral ill. If making money off renting a room to a prostitute is morally wrong, then it is certainly wrong for the woman to sell her body. That is not a defense of pimping or prostitution!

John Hawley

Teacher sought on abuse
arrrested in meeting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

During “teacher day,” Fuerza Pública officers in Upala arrested a high school teacher wanted for sexual abuse of a minor, police said.

The suspect, identified by the last names González Ortiz, had been teaching at a school in Victoria, San José de Upala, police said. 

The Tribunal del Segundo Circuito Judicial de Alajuela had issued the order for González's capture only five days before, police said.

Police said they had gone to the school in search of Gonzalez but had not been able to capture him.  They finally made their arrest as he was in a meeting with other teachers in a central location, police said. 

Police were tipped off to the suspect's whereabouts by a confidential informant, they said.

A.M. Costa Rica

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Good grief!

Are you still spending 70 percent 
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You need to fill this space ASAP!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 233

Police plan show of force near banks for holidays
By Selleny Sanabria Soto
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, the Judicial Investigating Organization and several San José banks are undertaking a project to assure the safety of patrons during the high season, said Erick Lacayo Rojas.  He is the director of plans and operations of the Fuerza Pública.

The project started Monday and is scheduled to continue through Jan. 7, Lacayo said.  Plans call for both public and private banks to contribute to the project with human resources and vehicles for the use of the security ministry for the duration of the project.

The principal collaborators are: Banco de Costa Rica, Banco Nacional, Banco Crédito Agricola de Cartago and Banco Popular. Some finance companies will also be included.

The plan calls for the extra security to be in place between 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  The majority of bank transactions occur during that period and the fact that workers receive their aguinaldo, the government mandated extra month of pay, means that wallets and purses will be unusually fat.  Thus the extra guards, said Lacayo.

The project calls for 24 policemen to patrol primarily the four districts of the central area of San José.  But several surrounding areas will be included as well.  Planned towns include: El Carmen, Merced, Moravia, Coronado, Montes de Oca, Zapote, San Francisco, Escazú, Alajuelita, Pavas la Uruca, Tibás, Guadalupe and Desamparados, Lacayo said.  
According to the plan, each sector will have one car and one motorcycle that will make a periodic patrol of the banks.

At the end of the day the police will also have to provide a report of the day's happenings, Lacayo said.  Last December saw only one case of robbery, Lacayo said.

But this year, Lacayo is hoping for a clean sweep.  For that reason, the plan calls for an air patrol as well, he said.

“It is not necessary that people risk their lives just for money,” Lacayo said.

In addition, the security ministry sent a bulletin suggesting simple advice officials hope people will listen to avoid problems.  Among some of the suggestions are:

• take someone with you to the bank, avoid crowds and only withdraw the money necessary to make your purchases. 

• in the bank, keep hold of all your bags and personal belongings at all times. Don't put anything on the floor.

• Don't put yourself in risky situations and keep your money hidden. 

• Don't allow anyone to make your transactions for you.

• If you must go to an automatic teller machine at night, bring someone with you.

Three nurses who died in hospital fire are honored
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica honored three nurses who saved many lives at the cost of their own during the fire that tore through Hospital Calderón Guardia July 9. 

During a ceremony at Casa Presidencial Tuesday, President Abel Pacheco said that the country admired and thanked the three women, Patricia Fallas Portilla, Mayra Mercado González and María Elena Díaz Garita, for their determination, their valor, their human compromise and their generosity in defense of human life. 

For their sacrifice, the country awarded the families of the three nurses the Premio Atención Humanitaria 2005.   Pacheco added that the actions of the three women reflected proudly on the solidarity of all
Costa Ricans and their willingness to be generous with their lives. 

“Today, dozens of people are alive thanks to Doña Patricia, Doña Mayra and Doña María Elena, putting themselves before the flames and in the middle of the darkness, the smoke and the terror, they led others to safety,” Pacheco said. 

In giving the award, the Junta Directiva de la Caja Costarricense Seguro Social considered the heroism of the three nurses as well as their willingness to exceed the call of duty. 

The award is given by functionaries of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social to people who take noteworthy, heroic or extraordinary action in the preservation of health.  

Fuel prices to go down again because of falling prices on world market
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Motor fuel prices are going down again. The regulating agency said Wednesday that it had
cut the price of super gasoline some 20 colons and the price of regular 19 colons. Both cuts are about 4.3 percent.

The agency, the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos,  said the decreases were the result of cuts in
the world price of petroleum.  Diesel will go down 4.4 percent and kerosene will go down 6.9 percent, the regulating agency said.

Reductions become effective the day after the agency's resolution is published in the official La Gaceta.

Cuts were made in the price of aviation gasoline (4.6 percent) and jet fuel (7.74 percent), the agency reported.

Jo Stuart
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