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(506) 2223-1327           Published Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 254       Email us
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Motive unclear in ex-Limón businessman's killing
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A former Limón businessman who still had interests here has been gunned down in Colombia by hit men.

The dead man is James Perry Edwards, a former resident of that Caribbean community. At the time of his death he was the operator of Industrial Maintenance Divers, a professional diving firm that repaired undersea cables and pipelines and did general diving work. He had operated a shipping business there.

Ironically Edwards, who went by his second name of Perry, complained about thefts and criminality in Limón and said several months ago he was going to move the diving operation to Colombia. He, himself, had lived in Colombia for several years.

Family members from the United States confirmed the death. The murder took place Dec. 13, but news of the crime only reached Costa Rica late last week. Edwards was in the Troncal del Caribe on the outskirts of Santa Marta near his office, in the process of negotiating a real estate transaction when gunmen arrived on a motorcycle, according to a local report. He operated a separate business in Colombia, and owned several properties. The area is on the northern Atlantic coast of Colombia.

He suffered three bullet wounds, and the fatal shot struck him in the chest. A stray shot wounded a passerby in the foot.

Investigators are working on two motives. The first, advanced by the mother of Edwards' 5-year-old child, is that he was engaged in a business activity and the shooting was designed to prevent him from completing a sale, according to the nearby Barranaquilla newspaper el Heraldo. She is Claudia Patricia Mantilla Hernández.

Family members of Edwards say that another possible motive might stem from the prolonged legal battle that placed the child in the custody of
the North American. The child, James Lee
Perry Edwars and his boy
Perry Edwards and his boy, James Lee

Edwards Mantilla, is the product of a short-term romance, they said.  They said the woman is facing a domestic violence trial Feb. 25.

The Limón firm operated by Edwards was in the news frequently as the repair agency for Costa Rica's internet connections. Both the ARCOS and the MAYA undersea cables are vulnerable to anchors of fishing boats, and the firm has been called on frequently to make repairs.

What irked Edwards the most was when crooks stole one of his firm's boats out from under the guards at the port of Limón last June. The $30,000 boat was taken up the Río Cieneguita, and when employees of the firm went to find it, they came under fire from presumed drug gang members.

Police and members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacosta also were greeted by gunfire on a second trip upriver in search of the boat, and they withdrew and did not return, Edwards said. That was when he threatened to move the $1.5 million firm from Limón.


Flurry of earthquakes rattle southern mountains
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A flurry of earthquakes took place Sunday night in the mountains above Desamparados south of San José. The last short shock was just estimated at 2.7 magnitude by the Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica of the Universidad de Costa Rica. That was at 9:37 p.m.

There were similar quakes Saturday and Sunday in the vicinity of Tarbaca, Aserrí and Corralillo

Another took place at 8:51 p.m. And another at
 8:17 p.m. There was a quake at 7:11 p.m.,too. All were in the 2.3 to 3.5 magnitude range.  There was a quake in the same area at 4:39 a.m. Saturday. All were felt in the Central Valley, although no damage has been reported.

There also was a quake Sunday at 7:28 p.m. in the sea off Jacó that was estimated at a 3.4 magnitude.

In all there were 15 moderate quakes in the national territory or just off shore from Wednesday afternoon until Sunday night, according to the seismic laboratory.

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Our readers opinions
U.S. could put pressure,
but it has been negligent

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to the Dec. 22 email to the editor by Roy Koyama, the custodial parent of his daughter Emily,

Shame on corrupt Costa Rica. It has long had evil on its hands for all the world to see in this case and others. Corruption and duplicity are the rule in Costa Rica. It expects to be taken seriously in international matters such as the San Juan River/Calero Island dispute with Nicaragua. But for Costa Rica, the rule of law is just a game to be played when it suits its needs such as portraying an image of peace and justice, which is just a propaganda façade for the international community. Ticos know better the dirty open secret that in reality all branches of government from top to bottom are rotten to the core. 

And what I said about Costa Rica could be said of the U.S. to a slightly lesser degree for its lack of a backbone. Shame on the United States which has the means to apply pressure for change but has chosen so often to turn a blind eye to this despicable scourge on humanity. A custodial parent shouldn’t have to be wealthy and/or famous or live in the hip pocket of a U.S. senator to get justice. There are actions the U.S. could take, as was already pointed out in Mr. Koyama’s email, but it has been negligent in its moral and legal duties up till now. Costa Rica has had the welcome mat out for cases such as this for some time now. And Mr. Koyama has reminded us that in spite of international law to the contrary, the practice continues as before.
Patrick McCormick
Costa Rica

Reader shares hurt, anger
over loss of his child

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
Roy Komama, I don't think your crazy, and as a father I feel your hurt, anger and your emotions because I have a daughter. A judge with her mother's attorney wrote a court order 7 years ago that we are not allowed to talk on the phone. I can't go to her school, etc., because of her mothers lies and her well-paid attorney who went to a gym with the judge.
 
This time of the year I get depressed because of my emotions of missing my daughter, and this will be 7 years we have been apart, and she's 16 now.

Roy you know children are put in the middle ending up in U.S. courts each parent lying about the other parent, then a judge decides with the parents attorneys. You wrote “my boys they have a mother.”
 
Children are being taken away from the other parent here in the U.S. every day by judges, parents and kidnapped to other countries. Each state has different words for parents: full custody, joint custody, etc. and mine is named shared parenting. The mother to our daughter tried to kidnap her to Colombia when she was 5, so I filed for my divorce and
I put a red alert on our daughters passport. Then a judge gave us shared parenting .
 
The U.S. has corrupt people who were elected, and I've been to Costa Rica, and hopefully I will be a resident but when I was there the only corruption I saw was police stopping cars taking bribes.
 
Roy, the Hague Convention is on international child abduction, but it's my understanding from my experience that Costa Rica will side with the taken parent even when judges in the U.S. signs court-ordered papers.
 
Children deserve both parents in their lives in any county except when a parents abuses there children. Remember this, it's the parent who can afford high-priced, well-know attorneys who in most cases know the judges by playing golf together, etc.

Roy, try to have your Christmas with the boys and put a Christmas present under the tree for Emily.
Ed Fulmer
Florida
 
 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 254

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Costa Rican drunk driving charge creates international crook
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The European media promoted to international criminal status the founder of a silicone breast implant manufacturer.

He is Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of Poly Implant Prothese. He was in the news because his company was shut down and the French government said that the breast implants were more likely to leak than other brands. French officials said they would begin to pay for a process to remove implants from some 30,000 of its citizens as a precautionary measure. There were about 1,000 cases of implant ruptures in France alone, officials said.

The international media jumped on the story with such force that the International Police Agency issued an unusual disclaimer.

The Daily Mail, for example, said that Mas, was on the agency's most-wanted list, based on a warrant from Costa Rica for crimes involving "life and health." Said the headline “Interpol launches manhunt for breast implant 'butcher.'” Mas once worked as a butcher.

INTERPOL said on its Web site that Mas was sought in Costa Rica to answer a June 2010 drunk driving allegation. It added:

INTERPOL has never launched an ‘international manhunt’ for Mr. Jean-Claude Mas for the above charge or any other charge.  The above charge is like thousands of others for which an INTERPOL member country (Costa Rica) wants to alert all other INTERPOL member countries that a person — in this case, Mr Jean-Claude Mas — is wanted for arrest; that a warrant issued by a judicial body supports the request for arrest and that Costa Rica is prepared to seek his extradition if any INTERPOL member country arrests him on the basis of the Red Notice.

INTERPOL said that the Costa Rican case totally unconnected to the company, Poly Implant Prothese, which allegedly sold thousands of breast implants currently under suspicion of posing a potential health risk to hundreds of  thousands of women worldwide in whom they have been implanted.
French businessman Mas
International Police Agency photo
Jean-Claude Mas as pictured on the INTERPOL Web site

Costa Rica asked for help from INTERPOL last June but still uncertain is if the country will spend the money to extradite Mas if he is detained in Europe or elsewhere.

The INTERPOL release appeared on the Web site Christmas Eve. There was little more information on the international agency's Web site except that Mas was 72 and was born in Tarbes, France.

He is one of some 72 persons listed as being wanted by Costa Rica on the INTERPOL Web site.


Loans trigger raids involving
Palmares bank branch

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


A series of sweetheart loans that violated bank policy resulted in raids last week in Grecia, Naranjo and Guanacaste. Involved are four employees of the Banco Nacional in Palmares.  The bank said in a statement that the loans were for the purchase of lots from a single developer. Those loans were made in 2006 and 2007, said the bank.

When some of the lot purchasers defajulted on their loans, it was the bank that reported the case to prosecutors, it said.

Although the Judicial Investigating Organization said that the investigation was into a 15 billion colon fraud against the bank, the bank said in a second statement that that amount was the total amount loaned to 500 bank customers and not the amount that was in default.

The actual amount will not be known until the investigation is complete, said the bank. Some borrowers already have reached an accommodation with the bank, it said. Judicial agents said that eight persons had been detained.
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Tourism chamber officials call 2011 a year in transition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The year 2011 has not been a very positive one for tourism, according to the national chamber. In fact, tourist arrivals by air are down 4 percent in July, August and September, said the chamber.

Consequently, the chamber, the Cámara Nacional de Turismo, has called 2011 a year of transition and is setting its sights on three major goals for 2012. They are competitivity, the dollar exchange rate and diversification of the market.

The chamber issued a statement outlining its views last week.

The current year began well with an increase of 6.5 percent in tourist arrivals during the first six months, said the chamber. It noted that the decline of tourists by air involves the principal access route to the country.

Tourists are cautious with their money and their economic resources during vacation, noted Juan Carlos Ramos chamber president. This situation is felt in all the tourist activities from souvenir shops to tourist housing, he noted. For the chamber, the world economic situation is one factor that has destabilized the growth of tourism here. Another factor is the policies of the Banco Centro, the chamber said.

Measures of austerity elsewhere are affecting Costa Rica, said Ramos, who also noted that the rate of exchange between the
dollar and the colon had changed by 18 percent. Typically tourism operators receive payment in U.S. dollars but pay bills in colons, so a dip in the exchange rate is costly.

The chamber said it was hoping that two measures in the legislature would improve the competitivity of the country. One was a revised tourism law and another to permit the sale of alcohol during Holy Week. The measures have been before the legislature for three years, Ramos noted.

He also cited the condition of the country's infrastructure as generating a bad image for the country. Among the problems are the state of the highways, he said. The chamber president noted that the country dropped in its competitivity ranking two positions in the assessment provided by the World Economic Forum.

The chamber also cited the excessive paperwork and approvals facing investors who seek to develop a new tourism project.

Ramos also said that the country must offer visitors personal security.

As has been mentioned in the past, the chamber would like the country to seek more tourists from developing nations.

It added that the 5 percent increase in annual visits is reasonable, but that depends on the world economic situation and internal policies like the proposed tax plan.


U.S. Justice Department lawyers issue softer view on gambling
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Department of Justice's lawyers have opened the door to in-state Internet lottery by Illinois and New York.

The written opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel supports a narrow reading of the prohibition in U.S. law against online gambling. The opinion said that the prohibition relates only to betting on sports events and not all gambling.

Both Illinois and New York plan to use out-of-state processors to handle their internet lotteries. Both states asked the Justice Department if this was prohibited by the Wire Act that was set up to regulate gambling. The electronic signals would cross state lines.

Although most lottery tickets in New York would be sold over the counter, the state wants to sell virtual tickets to adults within the state using a computerized system.

The department's criminal division supported a broad reading of the Wire Act that would make such activity illegal.

The legal office noted that the Wire Act conflicts with the newer Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

Both states argued that lotteries are not sporting events. The legal office cited the congressional record from 1961 when the 
Wire Act was passed to show that the intent was to prevent gambling on sports events. Then the technology most used for gambling was the telephone. The Wire Act was updated to include modern technology in 2006.

State lotteries are exempt from federal government control as long as the activities remain within the state.

Said the legal office:

Given that the Wire Act does not reach interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest,” and that the state-run lotteries proposed by New York and Illinois do not involve sporting events or contests, we conclude that the Wire Act does not prohibit the lotteries described in these proposals.

The significance of the ruling is still not clear except that the use if Internet for lotteries in New York and Illinois may go ahead. However, some observers believe that the way is now open for the federal government to institute a national lottery to provide needed income for the U.S. Treasury. State lotteries have proved to be highly lucrative.

The George Bush administration was firmly against online gambling, and the Department of Justice carried out prosecutions against operators of gambling operations in Costa Rica, among others. 

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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Cuba will free prisoners,
but not U.S. inmate Gross


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuban President Raúl Castro says his government will pardon nearly 3,000 prisoners in the coming days for humanitarian reasons.

Castro made the announcement Friday in a speech to lawmakers. He said 86 foreigners from 25 countries would be among the 2,900 inmates slated for release. 

Earlier, Cuban media said the prisoners being freed would include some convicted of crimes against the security of the state, along with inmates who are more than 60 years old or are ill, women and young people who do not have long criminal records. The reports said those convicted of serious crimes like drug trafficking, murder or espionage will not be released.

The announcement comes two weeks after Pope Benedict said he planned to visit Cuba next year before the Easter holiday.

The Cuban government's announcement made no mention of American contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year term in Cuba after he was convicted earlier this year of crimes against the Communist state. Gross was arrested two years ago this month for bringing communications equipment into the country. The case has further strained relations between the United States and Cuba, which do not have formal diplomatic relations, only interests sections that are technically part of the Swiss embassies in each other's capitals.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said on Saturday that the United States deplores the fact that Cuba did not include Gross in the humanitarian release, "especially in light of his deteriorating health."


Boat with Haitian migrants
sinks off coast of Cuba


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Cuban authorities say at least 38 Haitian migrants have died after their boat sank off Cuba's eastern coast.

Cuba says civil defense forces rescued 87 others Saturday.  A search is under way for more possible victims.

Cuban officials first spotted the wreck off the coast of Guantanamo province Saturday, far east of Havana.  Authorities say the deadly mishap is under investigation. 

There is no word on where the Haitians were heading.  Haitian migrants have a history of fleeing their country in rickety, unsafe boats.          

The U.S. Coast Guard says more than 100 Haitian migrants were returned home Friday after their overcrowded boat was spotted near the Bahamas.

The Coast Guard says that after stopping the boat Wednesday, migrants were given food, water, shelter and basic medical care before they were taken back to Cap Haitien, Haiti.


Pope prays for stability
in his Christmas message


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Pope Benedict prayed on Christmas for peace and stability around the world and called for an end to the many conflicts, which, he said, stain the earth with blood.  The Vatican also condemned the Sunday bomb blasts at churches in Nigeria.

In his traditional Christmas message, Pope Benedict called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, where he said, so much blood has already been shed. He urged full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan and called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

The pope delivered his message "to the city and to the world" from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, overlooking a piazza packed with thousands of jubilant tourists and pilgrims.

He prayed that the Lord come to the aid of the world torn by so many conflicts. He then gave his blessing in dozens of languages.
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Latin America news
World Court confirms claim
against Costa Rica over road


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Nicaragua has filed suit against Costa Rica at the U. N. International Court of Justice, citing violations to national sovereignty and major environmental damages to its territory due to the construction of a new road along the south bank of the Río San Juan River.

Nicaragua contends that the construction work by its southern neighbor along most of the border area between the two countries is resulting in grave environmental consequences, according to a press release issued by the entity known as the World Court.

Nicaragua argues that “Costa Rica’s unilateral actions… threaten to destroy the San Juan de Nicaragua River and its fragile ecosystem, including the adjacent biosphere reserves and internationally protected wetlands that depend upon the clean and uninterrupted flow of the river for their survival.”

The action is yet another effort by Nicaragua to divert attention from its invasion of Costa Rican territory, which is the subject of another action at the World Court.

Among the damages listed by Nicaragua is the dumping of sediments in the river such as soil, uprooted vegetation and felled trees, which the government says are a danger to water quality, aquatic life – including several endangered species – and to rare flora and fauna on both sides of the river bank.

In addition, it states that the sediments will degrade the soil already devastated by deforestation due to agricultural and industrial developments in Costa Rica’s territory, adding that the impact of these is already being felt. “These works have already caused and will continue to cause economic damage,” Nicaragua said.

The Nicaraguan Government is requesting the court to declare that Costa Rica has breached its territorial integrity, as well as its obligation under international law and several environmental conventions to protect the environment and biodiversity in the region.

It is also requesting that the court declare that Costa Rica must restore and pay for all the damages and not undertake any further developments in the area without a cross-border environmental impact assessment, which is presented to Nicaragua for analysis and reaction.

Nicaragua stated in its proceedings that Costa Rica has repeatedly refused to give it appropriate information on the construction work it is undertaking and has denied any obligation to prepare and provide it with an assessment of the environmental impact in the area, which would allow for an evaluation of the work.

Nicaragua stressed that producing an assessment and presenting it to both governments is of utmost importance and added that it reserves the right to request provisional measures.

Costa Rica already has rejected the Nicaragua claims when they were put forth informally. The foreign ministry also issued a protest over the incursion by 15 Nicaraguan soldiers into Costa Rican territory near what is known as Punta Castillo. Costa Rica said the soldiers threatened a Fuerza Pública officer they encountered.

Costa Rica has stressed environmental damage in its action against Nicaragua due to the dredging of the Río San Juan and the efforts to build a new mouth for the river through Costa Rican territory. That case is due for a hearing in February at the World Court.

The road to which Nicaragua objects is being built, in part, to provide access to where Nicaragua has invaded.






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