A.M. Costa Rica

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(506) 223-1327     Published Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 236          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
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An analysis of the news
Crime-solving monopoly lacking in controls
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although some will argue, an economic monopoly is generally considered to be bad for the consumer. The monopoly provider can fix prices, produce goods that lack quality and overwhelm any competition.

Much of the dispute over the free trade treaty comes because Costa Rica has nurtured monopolies in telecommunications and insurance.

But what of a monopoly in investigating crimes. A decision last week by Francisco Dall'Anese fortifies what written procedures demand: the power to investigate crime is reserved for the Ministerio Público and the Judicial Investigating Organization, known as the OIJ.

The restatement of that rule came after a security ministry agency rocked the boat and began picking up convicted fugitives who had been ducking the law for years.

The issue was cast as a dispute between the OIJ and the Dirección de Investigaciones Especializadas of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública. The security ministry also supervises the Fuerza Pública, the officers with the blue uniforms.

OIJ has long been where investigations are launched.  And Fuerza Pública officers and the Security ministry have the role of preventing crime — not investigating it.

One of the strengths of U.S. law enforcement is the many layers of police responsibility. If the local police are behaving badly, the country sheriff, the state troopers and even the FBI may step in to guarantee impartiality under the law. During the civil rights protests in the U.S. South, the FBI was the agency that eventually solved hate crimes and brought klansmen to justice.

With nearly all of the investigative powers vested in the OIJ here, there is no appeal of a botched effort or even one that appears strange.

The security ministry's special unit targeted sex offenders and sex crimes with 60 percent of its time and resources. Agents tracked down some 46 fugitives in 2005 alone. These were convicted criminals who the Sección de Capturas of the OIJ was supposed to collar. Some had been on the run for years. The most spectacular arrest by the special security ministry unit was of a school teacher during a student assembly in Zarcero Sept. 14.

The OIJ and the Ministerio Público have appeared to be weak in the enforcement of sex crimes.

The arrest Oct. 9, 2003, of Sinaí Monge Muñoz, a notorious madam who ran an outcall service in the San Sebastian district of San José, is one example. She was marketing underaged women at times to the powerful and connected.

The 43-year-old woman bragged openly of having high connections that gave her protection from the police. She was acquitted from a charge of pimping in 1994 when judges ruled there was not enough evidence against her.

During the current trial in February, an unnamed judge from Goicoechea was implicated, as was a soccer player.

Investigators, who bugged her telephone and photographed her business for months, said they found a treasure trove of information within her home. Neighbors had complained that fancy vehicles, including some that appeared to be from ministries, stopped frequently at her establishment to pick up women. The home has been described as a pickup point rather than a place of prostitution.

Ms. Monge was convicted of pimping but was exonerated on a conspiracy charge. She received an eight-year sentences, which realistically could be a little as two years.

Despite all the investigatory work, no customers have been dragged into court. Patronizing an underage prostitute is considered a serious crime. The Ministerio Público considered the case as being closed.

The OIJ has some 1,100 investigators, but the resources are slim. Only recently were modern computers available.

Investigations are painfully slow. Costa Ricans are becoming increasingly critical of both the OIJ and the Ministerio Público because of what appears to be lack of action in prosecuting cases against Rafael Ángel Caldera Fournier and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez Echeverría. Both are former presidents facing corruption charges, but the investigation has been dragging on for more than a year.

Several other major cases known to this newspaper have been stalled through lack of investigative diligence or resources.

A classic case for expats in Costa Rica is the investigation of the Villalobos Brothers money borrowing business that paid a high interest. The initial raid on company property and homes took place July 4, 2002.  Oswaldo Villalobos, one of the brothers, still has not gone to trial, and brother Luis Enrique Villalobos has been a fugitive since Oct. 14, 2002. Investigators seem to be ignoring the similar case of Savings Unlimited and fugitive Luis Milanes. That operation closed in November 2002.

In addition to sex crimes, the security ministry's special unit targeted car hijackings and thefts as well as the trade in counterfeit goods, mostly designer clothes and CDs. These responsibilities presumably will be taken over by the OIJ also.

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Illegal fishing broken up
in waters off Las Baulas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and the Servicio Nacional de Guardaparques seized 178 red snapper, two groupers and fishing gear from a boat Thursday evening that authorities said was fishing inside the limits of Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas in Guanacaste.  The boat, “Manfred,” was fishing five miles inside the limit of the park, and was captained by a man identified by the last names Morales Morales, authorities said.  Authorities said they saw an additional 21 fishing boats in the area.

They managed to catch three of them.  Two of the boats didn't have identification or registration, officers said.  They seized both of them.  The third boat managed to get away and advised the remaining boats to flee the area as well, authorities said. 

According to Rodney Piedra, director of the park, all of the boats were from Playas del Coco.  The seized fish were donated to schools in Playa Grande, Matapalo, la Garita Vieja and la Garita Nueva, he said. 

The seizure was the result of the first nocturnal patrol undertaken by the two agencies as well as MarViva, a marine resource protection group. 
Truck carried load
of contraband wood

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officers with the Fuerza Pública in La Cruz seized nearly 2 million colons ($4.053) worth of laurel and ceibo wood Sunday night that had been logged illegally, officers said.

The seizure took place in Corrales Negros when a truck completely loaded with wood was stopped on its way to Liberia, officers said.  The load had originated in Santa Elena in the Santa Cecilia district of La Cruz, officers said. 

When the officers asked the driver, identified by the last names Rodríguez Espinoza, for documents proving the logging of the wood had been authorized by the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, he couldn't produce them, officers said.  Thus, officers seized the load and the truck, they said. 

According to officers, the wood had been hidden in a community center in Santa Elena. The loggers tried to take the load south Sunday night to take advantage of the lack of police patrols during that time, the officers said.  But due to an increase in vigilance to control illegal immigration, officers were present to make the seizure, they said. 

Costa Rica backs Taiwan
in WHO membership bid

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica announced its plans to back Taiwan in that country's attempt to join the World Health Organization.

Taiwan, like many other southeast Asian countries has been affected by the bird flu, the treatment of which is extremely complex.  As the situation is currently, Taiwan lacks the information necessary to eradicate the flu within its borders.  Only by joining the health organization do officials believe they can complete such a large undertaking.

Costa Rica, with its belief that everybody has the right to enjoy an adequate level of health, supports Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization, said the  Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto. Taiwan's international aspirations usually are opposed by China, which considers the island a breakaway province.

Drug raid near museum
leads to four arrests

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Narcotics agents with the security ministry busted up a presumed drug ring headed by a woman known as “Loly,” Thursday evening, police said.  Local television taped activity at the front door of the home that appeared to be the sales of small objects.

Police said that the 41-year-old Loly, identified by the last names Matamoros Flores, as well as a 20-year-old woman identified by the last names Poveda Matamoros, a 38-year-old woman identified by the last names Mora Céspedes and a 60-year-old man identified by the last names Stewart Piedra, sold marijuana and crack-cocaine near the Museo de los Niños in central San José.

All four were arrested during a raid on a home at Avenida 9 and Calle 6 in San José, police said.  During the raid, officers said they found 115 grams of marijuana, 51 doses of crack-cocaine and 46,270 colons ($93.61) which officers presumed was the result of drug sales, they said. 

Embassy closed Dec. 26 and Jan. 2

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Christmas and New Year's Day may fall on Sundays this year, but the U.S. Embassy staff will be off the following Mondays, a spokesman said.

In addition, the embassy will be closed Dec. 30 for "carnival," said the spokesperson. Carnival actually is Dec. 27, but the embassy calendar is creating a four-day weekend.

Dec. 26 is the day of the tope or horse parade in San Jose, The day is not a holiday for Costa Ricans, although most governmental workers are off all Christmas week.

Bus passenger arrested

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officers with the Fuerza Pública in Pococí arrested a man as he rode in a bus en route to San José from Limón.  Officers said they found two kilos of cocaine in the suspect's bag.   The arrested man was identified by the last names Edwars Colder, officers said.  The seizure happened at a police checkpoint at the Río Frío de Sarapiquí crossing, officers said.  
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 236

Dengue a consideration
$12.2 million is a beginning to fixing Gamma's woes
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As a result of the beating the southern region of the country took at the hands of heavy rains and Tropical Depression Gamma last week, the Junta de Desarrollo Regional de la Zona Sur has decided to donate some 6 billion colons to the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias to help repair the damage.

“We have seen with enormous worry, the devastation provoked by the bad weather that left roads impassable, bridges in bad shape, dikes dysfunctional and houses in high-risk zones as well as a lamentable situation provoked by the dengue epidemic,” the development committee said.  The amount is about $12.2 million.

As a result, the development committee is designating more than 5 billion colons to go to the repair of infrastructure alone.  Approximately 728 million colons is earmarked for the fight against dengue and an additional 133 million colons will go towards the purchase of medical equipment in Golfito and Coto Brus, the commission said. 

Of the 6 billion colons offered by the development committee, only 2.9 billion has already been deposited for the attention to the emergencies provoked by heavy rains last week in the cantons of Corredores, Coto Brus, Golfito, Osa and Buenos Aires, the commission said. 

The rest, some 3 billion colons, will be transferred
over the next three months, the committee said.  The committee is relying on the judgment of the various municipalities, local emergency committees and heath authorities to decide where the money will be most wisely spent, it said. 

The storm did widespread damage in the region.  A total of 166 towns were affected, the emergency commission said.  Of the five cantons with damaged towns, Buenos Aires had the most, 50, the commission said.  Golfito and Corredores each had 47 followed by Osa with 18 and Coto Brus with four towns affected, the commission said.

The commission estimates in addition that a total of 1,250 persons were forced from their homes.  728 took refuge in three shelters spread throughout the region, and 522 had to stay with family and friends, the commission said. 

The some 5 billion colons earmarked for infrastructure will go towards the repair of 128 roads and highways, 80 bridges, 36 dikes and 34 drains, the commission said. 

The commission said in addition that their activation of emergency funds is split into two phases.  The first phase involves evaluating the initial damages and necessary operations.  Workers also work to evacuate and save the lives of those who are in immediate danger.  The final part of phase one involves gaining logistical funds, assisting the population and recovering any lost basic services.  Phase two involves forming investment plans to divvy out the money among other actions, the committee said. 

Light tackle fishing tournament is planned for Golfito area in February
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Stu Apte, noted fly and light tackle angler, is inviting other anglers to join him for a fishing tournament near  Golfito.

The Stu Apte Fly Fishing Sailfish Tournament will be held Feb. 1 through 3 at the Golfito Sailfish Rancho.  The rancho will host all of the tournament social events and will serve as tournament headquarters.  So far, there are 15 teams signed up for the event, organizers said.  In addition, Rick Murphy and his crew from Sportsman’s Adventures, will be on hand to film the tournament for Sun Sport Network.

Anglers will fish in two-person teams, one team per boat.  Each boat will have an observer assigned each day according to a boat draw.  Only a 20-pound tippet will be allowed and will be furnished by the  tournament, organizers said.  The entry fee for this  event is $600 per team. Organizers are limiting participation to 20 teams for the all-release
competition.  Trophies and other rewards will be given to the top three teams competing in this event. The top three anglers will also be awarded prizes, organizers said.

In addition, this event is a qualifying tournament for the Rolex/IGFA Offshore Championship.  Proceeds from the tournament will go to the Costa Rica Sport
Fishing Association, organizers said. That organization was founded in January to promote the conservation of bill fish in Costa  Rica.  

Organizers are offering lodging and boat charter packages to interested  participants at several lodges in the Golfito region, they said.   They also have boats available for charter ranging in size from 28 feet to 41feet.  In addition, marina facilities are available in Golfito.  Organizers said they welcome private boats and will assist in finding dockage.

For more information, contact Joan Vernon at 305-361-9258 or at pezvelajv@aol.com.

Orchid fair with thousands of plants scheduled in La Garita
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For orchid lovers the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería has organized a sale of the plants Friday through Sunday.  The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Estación Experimental Fabio Baudrit in la Garita de Alajuela.

Prices start at 200 colons, or some 40 cents.  The plants are the result of a project undertaken by the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Misión Técnica Taiwán and the ministry.   
During the last year, the project has produced some 65,000 plants, said Ligia Rodríguez Rojas, the project coordinator. 

The “V Feria de Orquídeas,” as the sale is called, will have collectors and producers from all over the country showing their best work, organizers said. 
Fertilizers, bonsai trees, pots, medical plants and an assortment of fruit will also be on sale.   For more information, contact Kenneth Jiménez, Felipe Arguedas or Ligia Rodríguez at 433-9111 or 433-8284.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 236

Canadian corruption scandal ends Martin government
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

OTTAWA, Canada — Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government was ousted Monday by a parliamentary vote of no confidence. There will be new elections in Canada, probably in late January.

There were cheers after the three opposition parties in Canada's Parliament joined together and passed a no-confidence motion in the Liberal Party government Monday night. The 171-133 vote ousted Prime Minister Paul Martin's government just 17 months after it took power.

Martins opponent, Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party, organized the no confidence vote. He says he hopes revelations of a scandal that saw millions of dollars in government contracts go to supporters of the Liberal Party under former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, will convince Canadians to change leaders.

Opposition leaders forced the no-confidence vote last week after the prime minister rejected their demand to dissolve parliament and hold new elections early next year. The opposition was hoping to make political gains from highly publicized corruption
scandals involving leaders of the Liberal Party. Even though the prime minister was absolved of wrongdoing, the public's sentiment against the government is running high.

Prime Minister Martin was upbeat after the vote, saying he will campaign in the next election on the strong Canadian economy.

"Today in Canada inflation is low. Interest rates are low. It's easier to buy a home. It's easier to get a job. And that is the result of the hard work and the good management of a Liberal government," Martin said.

Early polls show the new parliament might not look very different from the current one. As Canadians prepare for their first winter vote in 26 years, Martin's Liberals hold 35 percent support, followed by the Conservatives at 30 percent and the left-leaning New Democratic Party at 20 percent.
The separatist Parti Quebecois, which will only campaign in Quebec, has 60 percent support there.

But while the opposition is cheering the downfall of Martin's government, political analysts say the new election, now expected to be scheduled for Jan. 23, might not change the next parliament very much.

Opposition candidate M el Zelaya wins presidential election in Honduras
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Honduran opposition Liberal Party candidate Mel Zelaya has won the country's presidential election.

The president of the Central American nation's electoral council, Aristides Mejia, announced Zelaya's win Monday, but did not give final figures.

Zelaya, who had declared victory late Sunday, will replace outgoing President Ricardo Maduro. He
defeated ruling National Party candidate Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

Zelaya campaigned on a new system of citizen participation that combats corruption. He also has promised to implement life imprisonment for violent criminals, including youth gang members. His opponent proposed instituting the death penalty for certain violent crimes. The 53-year-old Zelaya, a rancher and former investment minister, also advocates a free-market economy.

Our readers give their opinions on the news
The Golfito situation

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have a personal interest in the recent article about the new tourist development in Golfito. I was president of a corporation that owned about one and a half acres, and three buildings next to the seaport dock purchased by an investment group. There is still another parcel of about five acres a few blocks away that has an option, but not purchased due to a squatter problem.

Fortunately, we had been able to rid the dockside property of three squatters before the offer of purchase. However there was a house in the American Zone included in the purchase and a gringo squatter who had to be removed by court order.

Usually, one thinks of squatters as some poor, homeless people that have no other place to live. Well this is often not the case. These squatters have lawyers. Under ordinary circumstances, it takes two years or more to legally remove a squatter with a trial and appeals. Also one has to be careful not to harass the squatter or they can sue for harassment.

One of our squatters even had a plat done by a registered surveyor. However, it makes sense for them to sue. First they can continue to live on the land free until the case has been decided and, second, there is a chance they will win some or all the property.

In our sale, we only dealt with one investor, a broker and a law firm.  We were offer a fair price, and the investor lived up to the contract. Most of the properties was originally secured by options. Up to the time the investors took an interest in Golfito, buyers were slim and none. We and everyone else were overjoyed  to have a buyer.  However after the word got out, some people were offered  more by others, and some had to be forced to honor their options.

The investors have had the usual Costa Rican nightmare of getting permits and etc. At the present time, “no” marinas are allowed to be built in Costa Rica. Period. One of my business associates works in the Asemblea, and is working with the investors and diputados to get the law rescinded.

When we originally began to negotiate with the investor, I asked him why he was interested in Golfito? He explained coastal property in the Caribbean was too pricey and where else could you buy property next to a deep water port.
No question about it the Southern Zone needs the investment. However looking a the latest figures gathered by the World Bank web page www.doingbusiness.org , Costa Rica ranks 89 out of 155 countries in the overall category of “doing business”, ranks 134 in protecting investors and 141 in enforcing contracts. There are more data on i.e. Starting a business takes 11 procedures and 77 days, dealing with licenses 19 procedures and 120 days. These are not good figures for a country looking for investors

Bobby Ruffín

Prostitute and a joint

Dear A.M. Costa Rica

I read with great glee the letter from Mr. Nutter regarding the good that prostitution brings to our world. Finally, I thought to myself, A.M. Costa Rica has opened up a worthy discussion. Maybe there will be some good said of this wonderful release provided the loveless man on the planet. I for one am alive today because I was able to secure some hours of peace and release in the arms of a talented lover.

One writer observes accurately that poverty is the reason women choose the profession, but fails to point out that poverty is caused by greed. After all, in a society were a great many people live in exquisite luxury, while 30 percent or so live in abject poverty, what work would you expect to find the poor doing? You'll find them in the military and police, in the petty and violent crime game, driving taxis, construction, and prostitution.

Would not it be wonderful if we could balance out the wealth, if the rich would pay better salaries to the workers, and pay their share of taxes? Maybe we would see less crime and less hookers if poor people actually could earn a living. If we could live in a world where the government was a friend of the down trodden and hopeless instead of a means for the rich to get richer at the expense of the poor. A world where the truth was actually told on television or in print! A world where disease is unknown because the true nature of health is understood and embraced by all. It is still a dream of mine that all people everywhere truly felt love for all people everywhere.

But because the world is under the control of selfish, insane maniacs, we have all these distractions to keep us from becoming godlike. Here in Costa Rica the minimum wage law — which really translates into the slave wage amount because rarely do experienced or older workers earn MORE than the published minimum.

Whenever a writer calls another writer racists or hateful it is usually to shut up a voice of reason. How is it possible to have a world with so much ignorance as to the true nature of Hell? This three-dimensional world around us is nothing more than a means for a very few very rich assholes to rape and steal and murder the rest of us at their leisure. And the weirdest thing of all is that they never get their hands dirty! They have created such division and hatred amongst us that we kill and enslave each other.

In fact the best con game they invented to enslave each other was marriage! And that right out of the brain-washing manual called organized religion.

It is amazing to me that when ever a discussion of pros and cons about a society or a people comes up, it is considered in bad taste to mention negative aspects of a culture. It is this kind of close-mindedness that keeps bad culture around. All societies are screwed up. After all, the ruling elite would not want a perfect society where all members are happy, healthy, intelligent and wise.

Let's not attack each other with empty words that stir emotions to negative action. Let's instead point our fingers to the hidden hand which steers the world towards destruction! And shout out to all who have ears the truth that we are slaves and that now is the time to break the chains of ignorance and poverty.

Until then, please let me have a good looking, intelligent professional prostitute and a joint once in awhile to calm my madness.

Bob Jones
Slogans are simplistic

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The march in favor of the free trade agreement was, sadly, as full of simplistic ideas about the agreement in general as was the march against.
The sad truth is that few people here or in the States seem to understand much of what is contained in these free trade agreements and politicians, who are the ones who do know, aren’t talking. Or at least they aren’t talking about what is in the agreements, rather they are using simplistic slogans that say nothing to encourage people to take a side. Since the politicians and big business own the media, for the most part, there has been no real reason to have a real public debate over the agreement. I do, however, urge those people who do speak Spanish to listen to the debate in the Assemblea Legislativa. Their meetings are broadcast on the radio, and a real debate is needed! It  is essential that people hear that debate to decide for themselves based on the actual legislation.
It is a sad fact that probably the biggest sector affected by the free trade agreement, apart from the monopolies, are small- and medium-sized businesses in Costa Rica. These businesses are what has made Costa Rica the country with the largest middle class in Central America. And these businesses are the least informed of any potential effect that the agreement may have on them. The big business community, those who will benefit from signing free trade agreements with the States, try to convince smaller businesses that the effect will be the same for them as for big business. Which is highly unlikely.
It would be great if we could separate out the monopolies from the rest of the trade agreement, as basically, they are two different entities. ICE and INS could easily be regulated by a commission, as were monopolies like PG&E in California. In the end the privatization of that monopoly gave Enron a chance to rape the state. All because people bought the idea that competition was better than a monopoly. All a commisssion would need would be teeth. In fact, it would be in the best interest of ICE to work with a commission to avoid the disatisfaction which keeps putting ICE on the plate for privatization.
But back to small and medium businesses. I am an American, I am 50 years old. When I was young and lived in California in my small town, all the local shops and businesses were owned by people in the community. As I grew older those were replaced by chains and franchises. The same street that once held owner-run businesses boasted a few, but even very small towns were generally dominated by chain stores.

Some friends were here visiting fom a small town in California recently and mentioned that their small town now has a WAL-MART, soon to be converted into a “Super-WALMART”.
Little by little, huge corporations have taken over most business in even small towns in the U.S.
What I see is that the government gives favors to large foreign corporation such as Intel and Mariott. However, they don’t do much to improve or enhance the climate for the small and medium businesses existing in Costa Rica. If the small and medium businesses had an environment that was more business friendly for EVERYONE, they would be more able to compete with foreign entities, saving us the conversion to a rapid Walmart conversion.
My two cents.
Robbie Felix
Quepos-Manuel Antonio

In defense of mackerel

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I beg to differ with Dr. Lenny about Sierra mackerel.  Northern mackerel are dark-fleshed and oily.  The Sierra mackerel we get in Costa Rica is pink-fleshed and not oily.  Quite a different fish altogether.  It is a yummy eating fish, great for ceviche and soups and . . . well, whatever.

Shar Squier
Playa Zancudo

Dr. Lenny Karpman replies:

The two species, Spanish and sierra mackerel are quite distinct even though they have a superficial resemblance. The Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculates) is restricted to the Atlantic, while the Sierra mackerel (Scomberomorus sierra) is a Pacific species. The really foul chub mackerel is what ends up in cat food or cans for human consumption.

There are about a dozen different fish that have mackerel in their name, five of them are sought commercially, king and Spanish are the most common. They all are a little to very oily and have a band of stronger tasting dark flesh along their backs.

Personally, I love mackerel, particularly the Sierra variety that I have eaten from Mexico (sierra) to Chile (cabala) and in Japan (saba) and the best way to neutralize the strong taste of its oils is to cook it “shioyaki” style. The hot flame or grill and the coarse salt chemically alter the oils and the resulting taste is wonderful. When it appears as sushi or sashimi, it is processed first and has a strong distinctive flavor that I enjoy but most people don’t. In Mexico and Japan it is usually salted and grilled over a very hot fire until the skin is crisp.

Crime very low, data says

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have to agree with Mr. Edward Bridges in his letter to the editor dated Nov. 22. People seem to be obsessed with crime in Costa Rica and reports of its seriousness certainly seem to be overblown.  If you ask 100 people here in Costa Rica about crime, you are likely to get 100 different answers. Is there crime? Of course there is. But just how bad is it? Well, a company called NationMaster has compiled crime data worldwide and reports that crime in Costa Rica ranks as the 46th worst in total crime per capita out of 61 ranked countries in the world. What that means is for every 1,000 people in Costa Rica, there were just under 12 crimes.
The United States ranks No. 8 on the list with over 80 crimes per 1,000 people. That means you are almost seven times more likely to experience a crime in the U.S. than you are in Costa Rica. Canada is not far behind at No. 12 with 75.5 crimes for every 1,000 people.

We are a society which loves to obsess about the news. But sadly, between our own personal gossip and fear combined with news reports, we don’t get the real picture. I’d still take my chances here in Costa Rica over North America any day.

Scott Pralinsky
Paraiso de Cartago

He thought letter from sex tourist was just a hoax
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Thank you for publishing the letters of Al Loria and Ed  Parker. Both wonderfully articulate the values of the vast majority of people, not just here in the U.S., but in the world.
I read the letter by John Nutter (or is it nutty?) with my mouth wide open.
At first I thought it was a hoax and then realized he’s serious. All I can say about it, over and above Mr. Lorian and Mr. Parker’s fine points, are:  They have places in Maine for people like you John. Hopefully  the police there have read you twisted and sick view of life and will take the appropriate action to keep you the hell off of our nations streets. Or any nations streets.
Chuck Hobbs
New York City

Jo Stuart
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