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(506) 2223-1327           Published Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 241       Email us
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Workers for Foto Estudio Isa and friends await the exodus of students from the Escuela de la República de Perú Monday because they have prepared a display of graduation photos of the youngsters for sale.
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In 10 days public schools will be empty of students
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Along with the Christmas season comes the end of the Costa Rican school year. This year the last day of public school classes is Dec. 16.

Like most academic calendars, the one here is linked historically to the agricultural needs. This is the time that coffee is picked, although most students do not do that work any more.

For parents, the options are many. Those who
stay at home can keep track of their youngsters who do not have to return to classes until the second week in February.

For those parents who work, there are some logistical problems to overcome.

Museums and other organizations plan workshops for children. Soon however, will come the annual Christmas break. This year most workers will be getting off Dec. 22 until Jan. 2. Some public employees will have a longer vacation than that.

Vandalized statue is focus of new controversy
By Shahrazad Encinias Vela
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Museo de Arte Costarricense officials have vowed to restore a classic monument, the Monumento al Agricultor at Parque al Agricultor, but they say they want to keep the statue at the museum instead of returning it to the park in Alajuela when it is done.

“At the museum it can stay protected,” said Marissia Obando Razak, spokesperson for Museo de Arte Costarricense.

This has upset many who have voiced their opinions through social networks. The frustration of the statue admirers has led them to plan a demonstration for Thursday at 4 p.m. to demand restoration as well as keeping the monument in the park. This movement isn't related to any government organization, said Ms. Obando.

Costa Rica has art work at every major park or pedestrian walkway. Most are statues. At Parque Nacional there is Monumento Nacional. The Plaza de las Artes now harbors a John Lennon statue.

Along Avenida Central there are various sculptures from a bronzed well-rounded lady to metal stick
musicians to plastic dogs. The Parque al Agricultor in Alajuela is no exception. It is home to giant Monumento al Agricultor.

However, this art work has had no protection and over the years has been neglected. The once-respected bronze monument now stands blanketed in graffiti, cracked, oxidized.

The mother figure has endured the most abuse with her left arm amputated, her remaining right arm has a missing thumb, and there are marks that show attempts of mutilation. The eyes of all three figures, the father, mother and child are spray painted orange. The right breast of the mother is also spray painted orange, as well as the buttocks of the child. The entire left side of the woman's torso has been tagged.

“The way the sculpture now stands is the way our society is... every time more empty, every time more destroyed morally, every time more chaotic,” said La Agonía del Monumento al Agricultor, the Facebook page for the restoration of the monument.

The statue was a gift to the city of Alajuela by Mexican artist Maestro Francisco "Paco" Zúñiga when the park opened in 1976.

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Pedestrian bridge at hospital
will get an elevator

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In conjunction with the international day for people with disability, the Costa Rican government announced its plan to build an elevator to broaden access to the foot bridge spanning the Carretera General Cañas in front of Hospital México.

Carlos Acosta, the executive director of the country's highway agency, the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, said the construction project would be valued at about 65 million colons, or $130,000. He said in a press release the government would begin accepting private bids for the contract work and construction would begin at the end of this year.

The elevator will have capacity enough for about four people, automatic doors and brail buttons.

The installation of the elevator in front of Hospital Mexico would mark the first of several the Consejo is eyeing. Plans are to install another in Puente La Luisa in Barrio Córdoba, San José. The press release says an elevator is more economical than a ramp and does not require expropriations of land.

The government reports it is improving the bridge because of its proximity to the major medical center.

Santa en las Calles plans
distribution of food, gifts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Kris Kringle is not just on the minds of eager children at this time of the year. He is also on the streets of San José.

Santa en las Calles is a private, non-profit organization which provides assistance to the less fortunate and homeless. This is primarily through the collection of goods, but the organization also collects and distributes basic necessities like clothes, shoes and blankets.

¨The project of Santa en las Calles has the main philosophy to help homeless people who live on the streets,¨ said Carlos Piedra, one of the organizers, ¨The idea is to bring them a little bit of happiness during these days.¨

A Santa workshop will be Saturday and Sunday at the Colegio de Ingenieros Agronomos in Moravia. All donations must be dropped off before Dec. 8. Then, during the two days of the workshop, donations will be organized, and individually packaged gifts will be created. The volunteers will cook food on Sunday and prepare a plate for each person as well, said the organization.

¨Once we have everything ready, we will go to our different routes that we have planned in order to give away the gifts and food we have,¨ said Piedra. ¨The idea is to reach around 1,500 people.¨ The routes include San José, Heredia and Alajuela.

The organization has been expanding throughout the world. It is now in countries like South Africa and many Latin American nations with a long-term strategy of being a global movement, the organization said.

The concept started in 2006 in Caracas, Venezuela, and began to spread in 2008.

¨Santa en las Calles¨ has persisted thanks to good people who are willing to give some of their time to all of those that have lost everything and wander the streets without a roof or a place they can call home. This year will be the fourth year that Santa has come to Costa Rica to spread some joy with the help of his elf, meaning us, according to the ¨Santa en las Calles¨ Web site. The site also includes a list of collection points for donations.

Find out what the papers
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By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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

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

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

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!
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Finally an area along the Río San Juan gets electricity
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Last weekend the state electrical firm energized a new transmission line to provide electricity to three communities located along Costa Rica's border with Nicaragua.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad reports that now more than 100 families in the communities of La Aldea, Delta and Fátima near the Río San Juan as well as health and education centers and border posts there will have reliable electricity.

The transmission lines are 25 kilometers long, or 16 miles, and cost 250 million colons  or $500,000. The project is part of a government plan to develop the northern border region. Also part of the plan is a 120-kilometer, or 75-mile, road project along the border river so locals no longer have to travel primarily by boat. That project is valued at 7 million colons or $1.4 million.

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda said the plan was supposed to help stabilize the border region and help reach an accord between Nicaragua over the disputed area along the river.

“It's a program promoted by my government for the development of our northern border that allows us to confront in a successful and sustainable manner, the cyclical problems with the Nicaraguan government,” she said in a press release.

The border conflict with Nicaragua that began in October 2010 caused a development boom of sorts in the northern area as central government officials moved to reinforce the border zone.
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Transmission line brings power finally to three areas.

Costa Rica delivers its case against Nicaragua to The Hague
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica submitted the report for “Ciertas Actividades de Nicaragua en la Zona Fronteriza (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua)” before the International Court of Justice Monday.

The document consisted of one volume of arguments and four volumes of attached evidence. The report outlines legal arguments regarding Nicaraguan violations of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Costa Rica, as well as environmental damage caused by Nicaragua in the area, according to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

The case for Costa Rica is very strong, has great technical detail and contains irrefutable evidence on the territorial rights of Costa Rica, said Enrique Castillo, the foreign minister. “I think the court will be convinced of the
soundness of the national position in the face of the Nicaraguan´s inexplicable actions.”

The documents were delivered to Peace Palace in The Hague.

The case was brought by Costa Rica Nov. 18, 2010. On March 8, 2011, the court issued provisional measures ordering the clearing of the site occupied by Nicaragua and granting Costa Rica environmental stewardship of it. Nicaragua had invaded the Costa Rican territory with the goal of constructing and dredging a new mouth for the Río San Juan, which is the national border.

Subsequently, the court fixed Dec.5 as the deadline for submission of the report by Costa Rica, and Aug. 6, 2012, as the deadline to admit, deny or comment on the charges.

Chinese experts are taking a look at nation's infrastructure
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 20 Chinese experts are in Costa Rica exploring the possibility of donating money to improve the nation's infrastructure.

Among the experts are representatives of the Chinese Development Bank. The group has eyes for the ports, the railroad and highways.

The public works minister, Francisco Jiménez, said the purpose of the visit is to evaluate the feasibility of some of the projects that would be financed by the development bank.

Among the possible projects are the ports at Moín and Limón, the nation's rail system, Ruta 34 from Río Frio to Limón, the Interamericana Norte from San José to Puntarenas and the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes has been challenged by some of these areas. For example, although a national rail network from coast to coast would be a boon for the economy, the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles is still struggling to extend passenger service in the Central Valley. There is an existing rail service mainly for agricultural products on the Caribbean coast, and the Central Valley rail lines extend to Puerto Caldera on the Pacific coast. However, the missing link would require significant investment to restore.
The Chinese, of course, are anxious to have transportation between the Atlantic and Pacific. Chinese officials have been in talks with the government of Colombia to build a 136-mile alternative to the existing but expensive Panamá Canal.

Jiménez said the Chinese are prepared to finance projects at a very favorable rate. However, the country would prefer donations.

Meanwhile, a Costa Rican group called Consenso para el Rescate de la Red Vial Nacional is urging the central government to improve the nation's road network.

The group proposes planning in the short, medium and long term.

The group said that by June 30 the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, the road agency, had expended just 20 percent of its budget. Those expenditures were mainly for debt service, contractors' claims and administrative costs, but not investments, said the group.

The group said that the problem is not technical but management. The Consenso is mainly composed of persons and firms in the construction business.

The Chinese, of course, built the new national stadium in Sabana Oeste, but the country's government did so with Chinese labor.

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Hidden Garden Art Gallery photos
                Mobile from beach debris.                                                                Do-it-yourself barefoot art
Museum visitors had a chance to create their own works of art
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What would happen if there was an art show without art?

That was the scene visitors confronted at the new Museum of Guanacaste in downtown Liberia. When the works were unveiled, the canvases were blank.

But not for long. With the invitation of the artist present, visitors were asked to join in to create works.

The idea was to bring the art studio to the spectators and have them be a part of the exhibit, organizers said.

Visitors assembled a giant mobile from debris that came from beaches. The idea was to create a commentary on the state of the oceans and beaches.

The name of the exhibit is Mancharte, which can best be
 translated as “splashed.” All the professional artists are from Guanacaste: Rebeca Alvarado, Carlos Hiller, Vladimir Rocha, Oscar Líos and Christian Porras,

An 18-foot canvas on the floor was splashed with paint, and young artists began dancing on it with bare feet. As a result, four giant art pieces and the mobile were created, allowing the public to be involved in breaking the conventions and structures of exhibits, and demonstrating that art could be highly experimental, said organizers.

Among those who visited the exhibit was Mel Gibson, the actor and director, who has property in Costa Rica.

Plaza Santa Rosa sponsored the event with collaboration from Pinturas Sur, the Museum of Guanacaste and the Hidden Garden Art Gallery.

The exhibition remains open through Sunday.

New study confirms depletion of important marine predators
By the University of British Columbia news staff

Iconic marine predators such as sharks, tunas, swordfish, and marlins are becoming increasingly rare under current fishing trends, say University of British Columbia researchers.

In half of the North Atlantic and North Pacific waters under national jurisdiction, fishing has led to a 90-per-cent decrease in top predators since the 1950s, and the impacts are now headed south of the Equator, according to a new study published online Monday in the journal Marine Ecological. The study is available HERE.

Funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the French consulate-general in Vancouver, researchers from the university's Fisheries Centre modeled the impact of fishing around the world using global databases of fisheries catches from 1950 to 2006 and satellite images of phytoplankton, which are used to map where predators should be, based on food availability.

The scientists found that the exploitation of marine predators first occurred in coastal areas of northern countries, then expanded to the high seas and to the southern hemisphere. The decline of top-of-the-food-chain predators also means widespread and fundamental changes to both the structure and function of marine systems.

“Species such as tuna have been seriously exploited because of high market demand,” says Laura Tremblay-Boyer, a doctoral student at the Fisheries Centre and lead author of the study.

“A constant theme throughout our study of global marine ecosystems is that these top predators are today prey for human beings, assisted by some serious technology,” said Ms. Tremblay-Boyer. “Top marine predators are more intrinsically vulnerable to the effects of fishing due to their life histories. Bluefin tuna, for instance, cannot reproduce until age nine.”

In addition to low numbers in the northern hemisphere, the study shows a dramatic decline in the south seas, where wild-caught fish are sent to northern markets.

“After running out of predator fish in the north Atlantic and Pacific, rather than implementing strict management and enforcement, the fishing industry pointed its bows south,” says co-author Daniel Pauly, principal investigator of the Sea Around Us Project at the university. “The southern hemisphere predators are now on the same trajectory as the ones in the northern hemisphere. What happens next when we have nowhere left to turn?”

Under current fishing practices, biomass loss of predatory species is expected to occur in the southern hemisphere, but humans living in the south will not be able to rely on the north for their fish, the research team adds.

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Gold mine causes protests
in northern Perú over water

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A two-month state of emergency is in effect in northern Perú following violent protests over a gold mine project that critics fear will taint and diminish water supplies.

The emergency declaration restricts certain civil liberties such as the freedom of assembly and allows arrests without warrants in four provinces of Cajamarca state that have seen nearly two weeks of protests against the $4.8-billion Conga gold and copper project. The government took action after negotiations involving officials and protest leaders broke down. President Ollanta Humala has described leaders of the protest as intransigent.

The U.S.-based Newmont Mining Corp. is involved with the project, which calls for extracting gold and copper from the area as well as displacing four lakes and replacing them with reservoirs. Local residents fear that contaminated water from the project could ruin area lakes and rivers.

Wednesday, Newmont announced in a statement that it was suspending construction activities at the Conga project for the safety of employees and community members. A Newmont official said the company is closely monitoring the situation and continues to want to participate in a good-faith dialogue with local residents.

But in the statement issued last week, the company said that if it could not continue with Conga, it would change its focus to gold mines in other countries.

Gap between rich and poor
reported to be enlarging

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The gap between rich and poor has grown in most of the world's major economies, and now stands at its highest level in 30 years.

A report released Monday by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a research and policy group that has 34 member countries, calls for governments to act quickly to address the growing inequalities.

The report shows that the gap between the income of the richest 10 percent and the poorest 10 percent has risen in nearly all member countries. The biggest gap is in Chile and Mexico, where the richest make 25 times more than the poorest. The gap is 14-to-1 in the United States, Turkey and Israel; 10-to-1 in Japan, South Korea and Britain; and 6-to-1 in Germany, Denmark and Sweden.

Angel Gurria, secretary general of the organization, said the study shows that the social contract is starting to unravel in many countries, adding that the benefits of economic growth in countries do not automatically trickle down to the poor.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development attributed the rising income gaps to several factors, including changes in tax and benefits policies and differences in education and training.

Diego Rivera works again
on display in New York

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In 1931, the fledgling Museum of Modern Art chose Mexican muralist Diego Rivera for its second major show, inviting him to New York to create portable murals onsite. Now, some of the works he created in six feverish weeks are again on display at the museum through May.

They are aggressive and vibrant, testimony to Rivera’s fascination with Mexican history and his loathing of capitalism.

A Communist, Rivera created fiercely political works picturing Mexico’s colonial past and the struggles of native peoples. “Indian Warrior,” for example, illustrates his anger at Spain’s conquest of Mexico in the 1600s. An Aztec warrior wearing a fearsome Jaguar costume uses a stone knife to cut down a conquistador who lies dead, still encased in his armor.

Rivera also painted scenes of what he saw as capitalist oppression in the United States and the struggle for workers' rights in a rapidly industrializing America.

“He made pictures that made us think about what our society is like, about labor and class, and the inequities of our modern world,” said curator Leah Dickerman. She points to the mural, “Frozen Assets,” a depiction of New York City, in 1931, in the depths of the Great Depression. The mural has several tiers, with New York’s new skyscrapers towering above what looks like a subterranean morgue.

“In the top tier of the painting, you see all the most recent landmarks of modern architecture,” Ms. Dickerman said. “Under that, you see the shelter for unemployed men that was on East 25th Street. Then under that, you see a bank vault where the city’s richest citizens are waiting to count their assets.”

Rivera was already famous when he and his wife, artist Frida Kahlo, arrived in New York for the museum commission. Born in 1886, Rivera had studied painting in Europe in the early 1900s.

Visitors have packed the show since its opening in November. Art historian Anna Indych-Lopez said that’s because Rivera’s message remains relevant.

“This work speaks to people today for obvious reasons,” she said. “If we just open up the newspaper and look at the events surrounding Occupy Wall Street, these are issues that have not gone away."
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High court accepts charges
against legislator Angulo

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The judicial process against Jorge Angulo Mora, a legislator, took another step forward Monday. The 22 magistrates of the Corte Suprema de Justicia voted that the allegations would be accepted.

This does not mean that Angulo was judged guilty, just that the case should proceed. Costa Rica has special rules for criminal cases against members of the branches of government.

Magistrate Carlos Chinchilla Sandí of the criminal Sala III outlined the procedures for the other magistrates, said the Poder Judicial.

Angulo accused of taking a bribe from a contractor and of accepting favors from public agencies because of his position as a member of the Partido Liberación Nacional and a member of the Asamblea Legislativa.

The magistrates asked the legislature to lift the immunity that Angulo has, but this will take a two-thirds vote. Angulo said that he would surrender his immunity if charges were leveled, but he did not do so Monday.

Man torched with fluid
by woman in Guápiles

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman in Guápiles ignited fluid and burned a man Sunday.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said the woman dosed the man with oil and alcohol and then lit him on fire as the climax of a dispute. The incident took place at the man's house in Toro Amarillo, Guápiles.

The agency reported that the man, a 36-year-old Columbian, was brought to Hospital San Juan de Dios Sunday evening with burns covering 70 percent of his body. The woman is still at large, but a spokesperson for the judicial agency said officials have a prime suspect.

Quake hits off Jacó coast

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 3.5 magnitude quake took place about 5:11 p.m. Monday just offshore from Jacó. The Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica reported that reports from automatic sensing stations showed a light tremor.

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