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(506) 2223-1327               Published Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 234       E-mail us
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France to provide funds for western sewer study
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government and the government of France signed a memo of understanding Wednesday to finance a study of waste water in Escazú, Santa Ana and the canton of Mora where Ciudad Colón is located.

The project will complement the massive sewer project being undertaken in the San José area.

Under the agreement reached Wednesday France provides 500,000 euros (about $740,000) for a study of the proposed project. The work will be done by the French firm BRLI, said Casa Presidencial. The money is a grant and not a loan.

Under terms of the study, the firm also will look for short-term fixes to improve the conditions for
residents. The area is growing fast and population is expected to continue to increase.

Among those participating Wednesday were Erika Linares, president of the Instituto de Fomento y Asesoría Municipal, and Fabrice Delloye, the French ambassador.

The study is supposed to make projections for the next 20 years, officials said.

A detailed study of the San José system is being done now. Plans call for a treatment plant on the western side of the metro area near Escazú. Now there are no treatment facilities for metro sewage, which goes untreated into the Río Grande de Tarcoles and then to the Gulf of Nicoya. The San José study is under the jurisdiction of the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados.



Still stuck for a nice place to have dinner?
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thanksgiving is not a tradition here, so there can be many slips between the kitchen and the plate.

One big hotel put on a fantastic spread on another Thanksgiving. But no one told them that most folks do not like their turkey rare. The chef and his staff were not familiar with the bird and thought that a golden brown skin meant that the giant gobbler was ready for the table.

So diners have to be careful where they go. Gallo pinto is not a good stuffing. The cranberry sauce should not be ladled over the turkey. Mashed yucca is not the same as mashed potatoes.

Fortunately A.M. Costa Rica readers have some good restaurants that have invited them to dine today, Thanksgiving. There also are the firms that are paying the bills for the daily free newspaper.  They are:

Brad's Grille in Lindora, Santa Ana, open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with a traditional Thanksgiving menu for 9,500 colons. Reservations at 2582-8724. Football fans have television for those NFL games.

The Restaurant Del Mar on Avenida 1 at Calle 9 is a 24-hour restaurant. The chefs import the meat from Chile, Colombia and the U.S.A. Information is at 2258-4880. An added advantage is the locale which is one of the capital's great mansions.

A traditional Thanksgiving with football on the television is at the Sportsmens Lodge. The feast is from 2 to 10 p.m. The location is on Calle 13 between avenidas 9 and 11, about a block and a half west of Hospital Calderón
Turkey
 
 Guardia. Reservations are at 2221-2533.  Owner Bill Alexander said that kids and seniors can eat for half price. Others pay 11,500 colons.

In San Antonio de Belén, readers will find R&G Steakhouse. Reservations are at 2239-1387. Among other treats, the restaurant advertises that it has sweet potatoes! Plus it has an interesting blog.

Also in the city the restaurant at the Hotel Amistad plans a Thanksgiving feast. The adjacent bar specializes in countless types of martinis for the serious drinker. More information is at 2258-0021. The location is a block west of Hospital Calderón Guardia on Calle 15.

Outside the metro area the eco-friendly Vista del Valle in Rosario del Naranjo has a traditional Thanksgiving spread planned with pumpkin pie for dessert. Serving begins at 1 p.m. They also promise stuffing with chestnuts! Reservations at 2450-0800 or 2451-1165.



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These are the tools of the trade found in Barva

Barva man held in case
of Alajuela bank stickup

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators detained a man Wednesday and said he was one of the well-dressed four that held up a HSBC bank in Alajuela last Sept. 4.

In a search of the man's residence in Barva de Heredia, they found a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun, shells, gloves, a .38-caliber revolver and plastic restraining devices, they said.

Agents said that the bank job netted bandits about 13 million colons, about $23,200. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the man would be quizzed about a jewelry store robbery about the same time.

About 12 persons, including customers were in the bank when the four men pulled weapons after getting the drop on a guard.


New gun law will target
those who hurt minors


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers have approved a firearms bill that would strip a permit to carry a gun from anyone who uses the weapon to harm a minor.

The measure won passage by all 13 members of the Comisión con Potestad Legislativa Plena Primera Wednesday. That is a subdivision of the full legislature that is empowered to pass laws.

The measure was pushed by Guyón Massey Mora of the  Partido Restauración Nacional. He wants the law applied to the irresponsible use of weapons. He said that five minors have been injured this year in such incidents.

The penalty of voiding the permit to carry a weapon would be in addition to any criminal action.

The law does not apply to persons who use arms for self defense or other necessity. Some of the country's most ruthless criminals are minors.


Tico poet gains place
at Turkish university


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bust of Costa Rica's most famous 20th century poet is now on display at the University of Ankara. President Óscar Arias Sánchez unveiled the bust Wednesday during a visit there.

The poet is in a section of the university that is dedicated to great men and women of letters, such as José Martí, said Casa Presidencial. It was set up by the university's Latin America department.

In a talk, Arias urged his listeners to learn other languages and cultures. He said that Turks should learn to dance in the style of Guanacaste and that Costa Ricans should appreciate the works of Turkish poet Yunus Emre.

Debravo was 29 when he died in 1967, the victim of a drunk driver in San Pedro. He was mostly self educated, having been born in Guayabo de Turrialba. His birthday, Jan. 31, is the national day of the poet in Costa Rica.

As an inspector for the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, the poet traveled the country and included what he saw in his poems.

350 carts expected Sunday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Municipal organizers said Wednesday that they expect about 350 oxcarts and their teams of bueyes for the gathering Saturday and the parade Sunday.

This is almost double the participation in previous years.  The event is the Entrada de los Santos in San José, an official kickoff to Christmas. The line of march is east on Paseo Colón and east on Avenida 2 past Parque Central.

The municipality also said that some 300 persons will participate as marchers along with the animals. There will be a lot of dancing and other cultural activities Saturday from 3 p.m. onwards as the oxcart drivers and their friends and family gather at La Sabana. The evening event is open to the public.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 234


Lawmakers strengthen sexual harassment prohibitions
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature Wednesday beefed up a law prohibiting sexual harassment and created a secret process to evaluate such claims. The law covers all forms of sexual harassment but with an emphasis on harassment of women. Public, private and academic areas are included in the law, which is a modification of existing legislation.

The most minor penalty in the law, a public reprimand,  is reserved for legislative deputies who are found to be guilty of sexual harassment. All lower elected officials are subject to possible job loss.

The measure, No. 7476, won approval for the second and final time in the Comisión con Potestad Legislativa Plena Segunda, a subdivision of the full legislature that has the power to pass legislation.

The modification creates an elaborate system of investigation of sex harassment claims that involves the Ministerio de Trabajo and the Defensoría de los Habitantes. The bill also stipulates that persons trained in handling sexual harassment claims be included in the investigation. Companies also are instructed to contract with persons skilled with preventing and handling sexual harassment.

The bill came from Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría and Patricia Quirós Quirós, who are in the current legislature. A summary said that in the 12 years that the current sexual harassment law has been in force, the Ministerio de Trabajo has been weak in following cases in the private sector, so the full extent of the problem is not known.

The changes grew out of a committee established in 2006 that included: 

The Defensoría de los Habitantes and its Defensoría de la Mujer; the Universidad de Costa Rica and its Centro de Investigación en Estudios de la Mujer; the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica and its Oficina de Equidad de Género; the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres and its Área de Violencia de Género; two lawmakers from the Asamblea Legislativa on the Comisión Especial Permanente de la Mujer and two technical advisers, and the non-profited Feminista de la no violencia contra la mujer.

The summary said that when a person files a harassment complaint he or she frequently is transferred to another part of the company or agency. The summary said that was revictimizing the victim. Also considered incorrect was that the alleged harasser sometimes is given time off with pay while the matter is resolved.

The summary cited the 12th report of the Estado de la Nación, which said in 2005 that sexual crimes against 
mutual harassment
Office romances can lead to big trouble when flame dies.

women were 119.7 out of each 100,000 of population, and a  Defensoría report that said complaints in 1996 to 1997 were 31 and that in 2005 and 2006 the office received 65 complaints.

The summary said that 83.3 percent of the persons who report sexual harassment are women and that the reform of the law should be consistent with the fact that the majority of those suffering from such harassment are female.

The summary also cited a concern by the Defensoría that in conciliation processes the harasser is not punished and there is a double victimization of the complainant.

The new section requires an employer to report both to the Defensoría and to the labor ministry sexual harassment complaints. It also says:

A commission of investigation is ordered. The commission contains at least one man and one woman who are people with training in sexual harassment complaints.

The evidence may rely on indirect proofs if no direct proofs are available, and the person filing the claim may not be subject to an examination of their prior life or their sexual behavior.

In cases where the top boss or employer is the target of the harassment complaint, the individual can go directly to the labor ministry, who will do the investigation. Such cases may include domestic employees.

After the law goes into effect, companies have three months to make their internal work rules consistent.


Violence against women universally deplored in hemisphere
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Wednesday was the international day of no violence against women, and the Asamblea Legislativa observed a minute of silence for women who had been the victims of domestic murders.

The legislature also hosted a forum called citizen security with the perspective of gender. Ottón Solís of Acción Ciudadana, Oscar López of the Partido Accesibilidad Sin Exclusión, Mayra González of the Partido Renovación Costarricense and Eugenio Trejos of the Frente Amplio attended. All are presidential candidates.

A principal point was that the Asamblea Legislativa should act quickly to restore two sections to a law against domestic violence. The Sala IV constitutional court threw out the sections because they referred to women and not all citizens. The sections have been resubmitted to lawmakers.

In Guatemala City the Panamerican Health Organization  launched a regional campaign against violence to women. This is tied to a campaign announced in February 2008 by Ban Ki Moon, secretary general of the United Nations. The regional campaign will continue through 2015, the health organization said.
One out of three women in Latin America has been the victim of some form of violence, the organizers said.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department released a statement attributed to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the secretary:

"Today, a woman somewhere in the United States will be physically assaulted by her husband. In a remote village on the other side of the world, traffickers will lure a young girl away from her family and sell her into sexual slavery. In towns in every region of the globe, groups of men will harass young women as they attempt to go to school. And in a conflict-ravaged land, armed men will brutally rape a mother and her daughter, part of a deliberate strategy of war.

"Today and every day, women and girls all over the world will face violence simply because they are female. This gender-based violence not only harms the victims and their families, it shreds the fabric that weaves us together as human beings."

The Barack Obama Administration has made women's empowerment a core pillar of American foreign policy, the statement said.


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Museum chef seeks to point out Indian role in Thanksgiving

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Each year, Americans gather with families and friends on the fourth Thursday of November to celebrate Thanksgiving.   The celebration usually includes a meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, squash, cornbread, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. 

The first Thanksgiving meal in North America is thought to have taken place in 1621 as European settlers gathered with native Americans to give thanks for a successful fall harvest. Many Americans believe Thanksgiving was created by the early European settlers.

Executive Chef Richard Hetzler is an expert on Native American foods. He's on a team that put together the cafeteria's menu at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.  The team spent several months researching Native American foods going back centuries.

Their menu features foods from five different regions across the U.S.

"I think the biggest thing is that it was truly to give thanks," said Hetzler.  It was an end of the year food harvest that people used.  They weren't going to be able to eat that well for the rest of the year because you were going into the winter months," Hetzler said.

Although Thanksgiving is not a Native American holiday, Hetzler points out that native Americans taught the European settlers how to trap, gather, and preserve the food that allowed them to survive in North America.  Many historians believe the settlers would not have survived those early years without help from native Americans.

"I think my take on Thanksgiving is it was Native
Americans that brought together a bounty of feast for everybody to have," Hetzler explains. "And they would use the items that they would have had available to them."

Hetzler says a wide array of Native American foods would have been present at the first Thanksgiving. "This is our Three Sister Salad. It has everything they would have had, the beans, the corn, the squash.  I would imagine that that would have been on the table.  The turkey definitely would have been on the table.  Right now, the corn bread definitely would have been there," he said.

At the Museum of the American Indian, Chef Hetzler has tried to take the bland ingredients in native American foods and adapt them to the modern palate. "The original corn bread recipes that we could find were very dense.  There is really no leavening in them," he said. "And essentially, I mean it made sense for what native Americans did, they needed to take food and pack it with them."

Hetzler says one of the most important things settlers learned from native Americans was how to preserve vegetables and meats so they would last through the winter.

"A lot of those vegetables could have been dried out.  So they would have cut them and laid them out in the sun.  And then they would have reconstituted them in soups and things of that nature.  So they were very good at preserving.  They also did a lot with salt," he added.

"They were one of the first people to use salt to actually cure, cook, and preserve food."

But the friendship between the settlers and the Native Americans did not last long.  Eventually, European settlers drove the native Americans off their lands.  And the settlers lost touch with many native American foods — except on Thanksgiving.


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Venezuela says fighting
in Colombia is a threat


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela says that Colombia's long-running internal conflict with rebels and drug traffickers is a threat to its security and other nations in the region. In a letter Wednesday, Venezuela's foreign minister asked the United Nations Security Council to review the situation. 

In the letter, Venezuela's foreign minister said Colombia's internal conflict constitutes "a serious threat to international peace and security" and should be on the council's agenda.

Armed conflict in Colombia is not new. Military forces there have been battling anti-government insurgents, particularly the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, for four decades.

Venezuela is also upset about the agreement signed last month between Bogota and Washington that gives U.S. troops access to seven Colombian bases for anti-drug operations.

Venezuela's U.N. ambassador, Jorge Valero, told reporters that the deal threatens the peace and security of his country and others in the region. 

"The seven military bases installed in Colombia are meant to project the global power of the U.S. and to deter with its military threat of intervention countries that maintain a critical position in relation to its imperialist policies," said Valero. Valero said that the accord violates Colombia's sovereignty and should be suspended.

"The agreement ascribed to between Colombia and the United States turns Colombia into a foreign territory, a country subjected to the presence of a foreign government," he said. "Thus, Colombia loses its sovereignty."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said the agreement is about bilateral cooperation and does not concern other countries. Under the plan about 800 U.S. servicemen would be stationed in the country. The United States wants to use the bases because Ecuador has canceled its agreements to provide support for anti-drug flights.

Tensions between Colombia and Venezuela escalated earlier this month, after Venezuela blew up two pedestrian foot bridges that connect the two countries. Colombia brought the incident to the attention of the Security Council.

Ahmadinejad in Caracas
to confer with Hugo Chávez

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Venezuela on the latest stop of a regional tour aimed at boosting ties with supporters of Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad arrived in Caracas late Tuesday and was welcomed at the airport by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.

The Iranian president and his Venezuelan ally, President Hugo Chavez, are known for their anti-American rhetoric. 

Mr. Ahmadinejad was in Bolivia's capital, La Paz, earlier Tuesday for talks with Bolivian President Evo Morales, another Iranian ally.  Both Venezuela and Bolivia have backed Iran's nuclear program, saying Tehran has a right to peaceful nuclear energy.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 234


Latin American news
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US Airways and TACA
announce travel accord


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

US Airways customers will be able to enjoy expanded travel between the United States and destinations in Central and South America, thanks to a new agreement with TACA Airlines beginning Jan. 12.

The codeshare agreement will complement existing US Airways flying to Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize and beginning Dec. 15—Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—from its Charlotte, North Carolina, hub.

With this new agreement, US Airways customers traveling from the United States to Latin America will be able to connect through TACA’s hubs in San Salvador, El Salvador; San José, and Lima, Peru, US Airways customers can travel on a single ticket to those countries, as well as Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua, the company said.

Conversely, TACA customers gain greater access to US Airways' markets in the United States and beyond through connecting opportunities in Charlotte.

TACA Airlines has 42 destinations distributed in 22 countries. Its fleet is composed of Airbus 319, 320 and 321 aircraft, and new Embraer E190s. During 2008, the carrier served approximately 5.5 million passengers, operating approximately 140 daily departures.

US Airways, along with US Airways Shuttle and US Airways Express, operates more than 3,000 flights per day and serves more than 200 communities in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Latin America. Together with its US Airways Express partners, the airline serves approximately 80 million passengers each year and operates hubs in Charlotte, N.C., Philadelphia and Phoenix with major operations at Boston Logan, New York-LaGuardia and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airports.

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