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(506) 223-1327        Published Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 252        E-mail us    
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The new boarding area may not win any architectural awards, but thousands of tourists will appreciate not being crammed into a tiny area.

A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas

New boarding area at Liberia airport nearly ready
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The work is not finished yet, but transportation officials inaugurated a new boarding and waiting area at Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia Tuesday.

The officials said they expect 400,000 passengers to go through the facilities in 2007, a 28 percent jump from 2006.

The construction is 1,500 square meters or 16,146 square feet. The structure is hung on steel trusses similar to those used for airplane hangers. The project is the result of a $600,000 donation from various firms in the area and a $500,000 investment by the government. The agency involved is the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte and its Consejo Técnico de Aviación Civil.

In addition to the departure area, the structure will house 22 counters for various airlines, individual offices for the companies, baggage transportation, control points and X-ray facilities.

Karla González, the transport minister, said that work continues to develop a new terminal. This will be a $15 million project, and bidding for the job is expected to begin in March.

The new structure can hold 450 persons comfortably when the whole roof is completed. By Jan. 30, officials hope to have the new luggage
area and x-ray system in service.

Officials also plan to air condition the existing terminal building that now will be used mainly for arrivals. The consejo also is investing some $51,000 in setting up a space for an immigration checkpoint.

The growth of Daniel Oduber airport has been a success story, even though growth was much quicker than expected. In 2000 the airport handled only a handful of charter flights.  Even in October 2002 only 503 tourists arrived at the airport, compared to 49,012 at Juan Santamaría in Alajuela. Now scheduled flights by major companies are routine, thanks in part to efforts by the Abel Pacheco administration, other donations by local businesses and the intensive construction of tourist destinations in the area.

Monthly arrivals of tourists range from 30,000 to 50,000.

The latest addition is a direct flight from Los Angeles, California, that Delta Air Lines inaugurated Saturday.  The airport is in Guanacaste and now serves as the gateway to tourist resorts along the Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Arrivals have been down at Daniel Oduber this year, and some people blame the crowded conditions tourists faced when they got there. Some also attribute the dip to the state of the economy in the United States, the area's biggest market.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 252  

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Police crimp Christmas
importation of fireworks


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican police have been cracking down on the illegal importation of gunpowder and hazardous fireworks into the country.

Police have arrested two Panamanian men, in separate incidents, to face allegations of attempting to smuggle the illegal commodities in the last two days, according to reports from the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Fireworks are especially popular among Costa Ricans during the holiday seasons. However, most of the explosives and bottle rockets are illegal here.

A man with the last names Mora Leitón was arrested Monday in Corredores, Puntarenas, in possession of a large amount of illegal fireworks, said the Fuerza Pública.  The ministry said that the accused was travelling without the proper documentation and was hiding fireworks and black-market gunpowder in his car.  Mora Leitón, the merchandise and the car have all been detained, according to a police report.

Tuesday, police arrested another Panamanian, this time with the last names Rivera Álvarez.  Police reported that the 57 year old was intercepted with illegal gunpowder at a crossing on the Costa Rican–Panamanian border. 

According to the ministry, the sale of gunpowder to youths or disabled persons can mean a prison sentence of between three to seven years.

Police reported having confiscated a large amount of illegal fireworks and gunpowder so far this year.  One child has suffered severe burns.

Canadian air traveler
will face cocaine count

 
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Drug agents detained a Canadian man, Tuesday and said he was carrying more than two kilograms of cocaine at Juan Santamaría airport.

The accused, who goes by the last names Espinal Rodríguez, was on his way home to Canada when Costa Rican drug control officers searched him.

A report from the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said that police found 2,219 grams of the illegal narcotic tapped to Rodríguez's abdomen and legs.  The police also confiscated  $174,000 in cash from the suspect, they said.

Our readers' opinions

Reader says court claims
won't be honored in U.S.


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your Brother’s article  Tuesday, which suggested that Oswaldo and/or his international fugitive brother Enrique, who perpetrated perhaps the largest fraud ever on American ex-patriates, can sue the same folks they ripped off for damages resulting from the expats’ recovery efforts, is one of the most audacious comedy pieces I’ve ever read.  Costa Rican lawyers must be INSANE if they think their kangaroo-court judgments against Americans even hold a DROP of water in the United States.

All it takes is a “court action,” the article says, according to  some unnamed U.S. lawyers.  I’d love to see the jailed Oswaldo con-artist or his Interpol brother bring the matter to a U.S. court.  That would then establish a U.S. jurisdication for this fiasco and would expose the loathesome Brothers to actions against them in a U.S. court.

I think we’d all love to see Oswaldo flown up to the EE.UU. In shackles to face the music of the American justice system, which is NOT the rigged game these clowns are used to in Costa Rica.

Plaintiff’s assets in the U.S. are in obsolutely NO danger of being forfeited to a kangaroo-court judgement stemming from this Brothers situation.  Please don’t put Brothers “investors” through more than they have already been exposed to.

Jeff Lindheimer
Pittsburgh, PA

EDITOR’S NOTE: A.M. Costa Rica stands by the story and points out that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida helped investigate the Villalobos case and banking activities there. So far the U.S. attorney has declined to open any criminal investigation. However, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is investigating Villalobos creditors who did not declare the interest payments.


U.S. foreign policy trend
causes loss of confidence

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Mr. Harry Parisers’ letter, “U.S. has history of backing dictators like Pinochet”, gives us a stinging synopsis of U.S. foreign policy intrigue, failure, and incompetence.

The revelations beg the question how and why our ‘intelligence’ services continuously make such egregious errors decade after decade?

Given these facts, together with the Vietnam, Afghani, and Iraqi debacle, the Republic seems lost, and doomed to collapse.

Are there reasonable answers which might restore confidence in our government?

H. Franz
Santa Ana


Communist acts ignored

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Just to make it short and sweet, the left-winged, anti-Americans love to criticize about fascist administrations (so called) while no one seems to care about the 50 million that were slaughtered by Joe Stalin or the millions by Mao Tse Tung. Joe McCarthy was the bad guy. There was no domino theory. And the actors in Hollywood weren’t Communists, they were just going to meetings. Let’s talk about your dillusional world, Mr. Pariser.

Dave Grozanick
Nuevo Arenal
 

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 252  







Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias graphic
Map shows the location of the blaze, the water source and the nearby communities
Minimal health woes reported after Moín explosion and fire
By Noel Dekking
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

No serious health problems have surfaced as a result of the explosion and fire in Moín, but health officials plan more testing this week.

María Luisa Ávila Agüero, the health minister, said she expected a preliminary test of air contamination by later today. In addition, 12 health professionals will be in the affected areas today to make contact with possible victims.

The summary, given at a press conference Tuesday, comes six days after a chemical explosion and fire at the Químicos Holanda Costa Rica S.A. plant in Moín. The blaze sent plumes of toxic smoke thousands of feet into the air and endangered the source of the area's drinking water as toxic solvents leaked into the ground.

The Ministerio de Salud and the Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados said 10,000 persons still were without drinking water due to the spread of chemicals.  The water source used to supply many of the residents is within easy walking distance from where the Heredia-based Holanda stored tons of solvents and other chemicals.

Officials at the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social said there has not been an increase in medical appointments for respiratory or digestive problems.  However, the health ministry has received informal reports of some digestive and skin irritation problems.

Favorable results from the health ministry's air contamination tests would mean that some of the displaced families could return to their homes.  Persons in the affected areas are to use their local water only after given specific
clearance from the government and should boil their water after this permission has been given, officials said.  They should do so for three days, officials said. In addition to chemical contamination, health technicians are concerned about bacteria and viruses.

Officials said they hope to have drinking water restored to all the affected dwellings in 30 to 45 days.

One water purification effort is a dike that was built to separate contaminated from clean water and divert any seepage from the chemical storage site.

The team of 12 health professionals will be in the affected communities of Empalme Moín, Villa del Mar 1 and 2, Villa Plata and Isaías Marchena today.  As for longer-term solutions to the health emergency, announcements will be made as the required information and data are collected, said officials. 

The health minister said Tuesday that Químicos Holanda Costa Rica S.A. will not be permitted to rebuild in the same location, because the site is too close to the Acueductos y Alcantarillados water supply source.

An official state of emergency has been declared.  This technical measure gives the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias control over all aspects of the coordinated relief and reconstruction effort.  It will also increase the available funding available to government bodies involved in the process.  So far, approximately 200 million colons ($386,000) have been spent by the government.

The fire caused the death of two people, the hospitalization of 25, and the removal of more than 400 from their homes.

Air photo shows just how close the Holanda tanks were located to the source of the area's water.

Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias photo


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 252  




New biological corridor links two national parks above Jacó
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government has created a biological corridor that unites Parque Nacional Carara and Parque Nacional La Cangreja. Both are in the hills above Jacó on the Pacific coast. They are about 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) apart at the closest point.

Some 55,385 hectares (about 137,000 acres) are involved in both the province of San José and its cantons of Puriscal and Turrubares and the province of Puntarenas and its cantons of Orotina and Garabito.

The corridor is called the Paseo de las Lapas after the green (Ara ambigua) and scarlet (Ara Macao) macaws that are well-known but endangered in Costa Rica. The birds are called lapa verde and lapa roja in Spanish.

The corridor was created by decree by President Óscar Arias Sánchez during a visit with other officials to La Cangreja near Puriscal. The corridor status will protect the property.

The 4-year-old Parque Nacional La Cangreja also was a   topic as Arias noted that improvements would be made there with a $220,000 grant from Tabacalera Costarricense S.A., the cigarette company. In signing the decree, Arias praised the macaw as one of the most beautiful birds in the world. He said the corridor would reduce the negative impacts that have caused loss of habitat.

La Cangreja has been a protected zone since 1984. The mountainous 1,861 hectares, some 4,600 acres, has been a project of Fundación Ecotrópico, which had been buying land and promoting the area since 1988.

Casa Presidencial photo
Oscar Arias leads officials in a hike at the new biological corridor named after the scarlet and green macaw.


Pair in car slain in San Miguel de Santo Domingo
 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A killer gunned down a man and a women who were in a parked car alongside a main highway in San Miguel de Santo Domingo, Heredia, sometime Monday night or early Tuesday morning.

The deaths were not due to robbery, said investigators because the valuables of the victims were not touched.

The woman, identified by the last name of Soto, was 35 and worked at the Banco Interfin in San José. The man, 44, was identified by the last name of Rodríguez by the Judicial Investigation Organization.

The highway involved links San José with Guápiles.
The bodies were not discovered until Tuesday morning.

The gunman appears to have fired through the windshield to kill the man,who was in the driver's seat. Then the gunman fired through the side window multiple times.

Meanwhile, in Quepos, investigators are involved with the murder of a 38-year-old man with the last name of  Córdoba who was shot down about 10 p.m. Monday as he was riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. He suffered wounds to the head and back.

In Alajuela, the Judicial Investigating Organization is seeking information on a woman between 16 and 25 who was found knifed in a supply yard Monday morning. She is believed to be from Heredia.


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