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(506) 2223-1327       Published Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 20       E-mail us
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Nation's murder rate goes up nearly 25 per cent

PROVINCE AND CANTON*

YEAR

CHANGE

2007

2008

No.

%

Costa Rica

349

435

86

24,6






San José

172

214

42

24,4

San Jose

63

96

33

52,4

Desamparados

17

27

10

58,8

Tibas

12

25

13

108,3

Goicoechea

29

17

-12

-41,4

Alajuelita

16

13

-3

-18,8

Aserri

6

6

0

0,0

Moravia

1

6

5

500,0

Escazu

7

5

-2

-28,6

Montes De Oca

2

4

2

100,0

Vásquez
   De Coronado

1

4

3

300,0

Curridabat

9

3

-6

-66,7

Pérez Zeledón

3

3

0

0,0

Puriscal

1

2

1

100,0

Santa Ana

3

2

-1

-33,3

Acosta

 

1

1

N/c

Desconocido

1

 

-1

-100,0

Mora

1

 

-1

-100,0






Limón

67

75

8

11,9

Limón

36

48

12

33,3

Matina

6

9

3

50,0

Talamanca

3

7

4

133,3

Pococí

16

5

-11

-68,8

Siquirres

5

5

0

0,0

Guacimo

1

1

0

0,0






Alajuela

36

46

10

27,8

Alajuela

17

24

7

41,2

San Carlos

6

9

3

50,0

Grecia

3

5

2

66,7

Poas

 

2

2

N/c

Upala

3

2

-1

-33,3

Los Chiles

1

1

0

0,0

Orotina

1

1

0

0,0

Palmares

 

1

1

N/c

San Ramón

3

1

-2

-66,7

Atenas

1

 

-1

-100,0

Naranjo

1

 

-1

-100,0






Puntarenas

33

42

9

27,3

Corredores

5

13

8

160,0

Puntarenas

12

13

1

8,3

Garabito

2

4

2

100,0

Aguirre

1

3

2

200,0

Golfito

5

3

-2

-40,0

Buenos Aires

1

2

1

100,0

Esparza

2

2

0

0,0

Coto Brus

 

1

1

N/c

Parrita

1

1

0

0,0

Osa

4

 

-4

-100,0






Guanacaste

16

24

8

50,0

Liberia

4

10

6

150,0

Santa Cruz

2

3

1

50,0

Cañas

3

2

-1

-33,3

Carrillo

3

2

-1

-33,3

La Cruz

1

2

1

100,0

Nicoya

3

2

-1

-33,3

Abangares

 

1

1

N/c

Bagaces

 

1

1

N/c

Tilaran

 

1

1

N/c






Heredia

18

20

2

11,1

Heredia

9

10

1

11,1

Sarapiqui

3

5

2

66,7

Santo Domingo

4

2

-2

-50,0

Belén

 

1

1

N/c

Flores

 

1

1

N/c

San Pablo

1

1

0

0,0

Santa Bárbara

1

 

-1

-100,0






Cartago

7

14

7

100,0

Cartago

3

3

0

0,0

El Guarco

 

3

3

N/c

La Unión

2

3

1

50,0

Paraíso

 

2

2

N/c

Turrialba

2

2

0

0,0

Oreamuno

 

1

1

N/c

*Judicial Investigating Organization chart

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Murders took nearly a 25 percent increase in 2008, according to statistics reported Wednesday by the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In 2007 there were 349 murders in the country. In 2008 there were 435. That is an increase of 86 murders or 24.6 percent.

The Provincia de San José mirrored the national statistics. There was a 24.4 percent increase there in 2008 over 2007 with 42 more murders being reported. San José also had 49.2 percent of all murders.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the figures could change slightly as other cases come to light.

Because murder is such a serious crime nearly all such cases end up in the hands of investigators in Costa Rica. The murder statistics are more solid than those for other crimes because Costa Ricans frequently do not report burglaries, robberies or other crimes.

The Provincia de Limón with 75 murders in 2008 was the geographical division with the second most murders. That was an 11.9 percent increase over 2007.

Guanacaste saw 24 murders, an increase of 50 percent over 2007.

Most of the murders are either the byproduct of robberies or disputes between individuals, frequently over drugs.

In another statistic linked to crime, the  Dirección General de Armamento said it issued 18,446 permits to carry firearms. Some 14,125 of the permits were new ones. The figure represents an increase of about 3,000 over permits issued in 2007.

The armament division is part of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

Some of the homicides in both years were declared acts of self-defense, in part because an individual targeted as the victim of a crime was armed.

However, the Arias administration opposes the possession of weapons by private citizens. A new security bill, if passed, would restrict gun ownership to one weapon per household.

Other recent statistics also have shown an increase in crime here. A survey of households said that 28 percent of those in the home were victims of some type of crime or aggression between July 2007 and June 2008.

The percentage of such reports in 1997 was 15, said the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos.

The 2008 murder statistics give Costa Rica a rate of 10.36 murders per 100,000 of population, well below the estimated rate for Central America as a whole.


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4815-5/24/09
snow in Cincinatti
Kathleen Mullins-Hall hard at work

Here's a reader photograph
that will warm your blood

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This is a photographic letter to the editor:

Kathleen Mullins-Hall calls both Puerto Limón and Cincinnati, Ohio, home. There is not a lot of snow in Limón, but Cincinnati has been hit pretty hard this year. So has much of the United States and Canada.

"Just a few more pictures to make the expats pine for the weather back home," Ms. Mullins-Hall wrote in an e-mail that accompanied her photo. She suggested her photo was in response to recent complaints here that the temperature had plunged to 60 degrees F or so. She said:

"As frequent visitors to Costa Rica, (My husband is a Tico, and all of his family is still there), I feel the pain of those shuddering through the cold nights. Not really!

"I just have to think positive as I look out my windows today, seeing my frozen trees kissing the lawn!! With 6 inches of snow on the ground, topping by a layer of ice, and snow blanketing that mess, I long for the 'warm' nights of San Jose!!"
 
She said her sister-in-law in San José was warmed up just by the sight of Ms. Mullins-Hall looking like an Eskimo.


Judge released suspect
in Limón teen murder


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A judge declined to jail a 16-year-old murder suspect. Instead, the judge allowed the youth to live with a grandfather. Now the murder suspect is missing and a warrant has been issued, according to the Poder Judicial.

This is the case of the stabbing death of the high school student with the last name of Ebanks. He died last week when other youths jumped him. The murder happened in Barrio Pacuare, Limón, said the Poder Judicial.

Investigators detained the 16-year-old and brought him to court. The prosecutor sought preventative detention but the judge let the youth leave. He was ordered to maintain a fixed residence. The prosecutor appealed the decision, but when investigators went to confirm that the boy was with his grandfather, they could not find him.

Tourist information center
now online in Puerto Viejo


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca now has a professionally run information and reservation office near the main bus stop in town. The project is by Tropical Tales S.A, operated by three expats. Dennis Sinacola, the CEO, said that the business is expanding by launching a new Web site and the first complete online tours database for the Puerto Viejo area and the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

Sinacola, his wife, Kim, and business partner Liam Montgomery produce Tropical Tales, an entertainment publication, and the Web site is another step to provide information to the Caribbean coast community.

Sinacola is from Whitefish, Montana, and said he has many years experience in computers. "We found ourselves acting as a central visitor's center and that just naturally grew into the reservations and referrals business," he said. "There was a real need for a professionally run reservation office in this area with a friendly and knowledgeable staff and we were in the right place at the right time, and so this is how Tropical Reservations was born."

Sinacola said that Tropical Tales S.A., in order to give something back to the community, contribute a portion of its proceeds to El Puente, an organization which helps the native population with education and microloans,

New York brokerage firm
adds BCT as partner here


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A New York-based brokerage firm that specializes in providing global trade execution and exclusive research to U.S. institutional investors has added a Costa Rican firm to its network. The firm, Auerbach Grayson & Company, Inc., specializes in developing markets and has ties to 121 countries in its network.

In Costa Rica the new addition is BCT Valores Puesto de Bolsa S. A. , a subsidiary of Corporación BCT S.A. Auerbach Grayson also added partnerships with brokers in Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama and Paraguay to its global equity markets network, making Auerbach Grayson the broker with the broadest coverage of Latin American equities, with over 200 companies in 15 countries, said a news release. Auerbach Grayson said it plans to add several more Latin American markets to its network in 2009.

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Telephone rate hikes are first challenge for telecom panel
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new telecommunications regulating panel is facing its first challenge just a few days after the last two members were sworn in.

During the time between Aug. 13 when the new telecommunications law took effect and the creation of the panel, the former telephone monopoly, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, jacked up its own rates. The state-owned company said its legal staff determined it could do that absent a functioning Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones.

The rate increases are due to take effect Saturday. The basic monthly cell telephone charge goes up 290 colons (52 U.S. cents) to 3,190 colons ($5.76). Each text message goes from 1.5 colons to 5.25 colons (about one U.S. cent).

Despite the small amount and although the current charge was an introductory price, even Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, minister of the Presidencia, called the increase disproportionate during a meeting with reporters Wednesday.

Individual citizens are promoting Saturday as a day without cellulars in the hopes that a one-day boycott will send the telecom company a message.

The Superintendencia said late Wednesday that it would have a press conference today at which time it would present a resolution over the telephone rate increases.
The Superintendencia is an agency of the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos, and its members were appointed by that regulating agency. However, the Asamblea Legislativa declined to confirm two members and substitutes had to be found. So Monday the last two members of the panel were sworn in. They are George Petrie Miley Rojas and Maryleana Méndez Jiménez. He is a former executive with Orange Business Services, and she worked for TecApro Internacional.

The other two members are Walther Herrera Cantillo, the former director of telecommunications for the Authoridad Reguladora, and Carlos Raúl Gutiérrez Gutiérrez, an economist who worked as a consultant for  GeoDevelopments.

Whatever the new Superintendencia decides is likely to be challenged by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad legal staff, and a protracted court fight is possible.

The new telecom law that has instituted all these changes was part of the implementing agenda passed to go along with the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The law eliminated the monopoly held by the institute and opened the market to other firms.

One of the principal jobs of the Superintendencia will be to grant authorizations for other telecommunications firms to do business in Costa Rica, set the rates and make sure the different communication systems work with each other. The agency also will control the use of the radio spectrum for wireless communication.


Rodrigo Arias says concession plan for docks will move ahead despite threats
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Arias administration will continue forward with a plan to offer concessions for the ports of Limón.

That was the gist of comments Wednesday by Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, who spoke a day after some 11 major international companies heard a presentation on the project.

The port now is in the hands of a government agency, the Junta de Administración Portuaria y Desarrollo de la Vertiente Atlántica, and the dock workers' union is a strong one that opposes the concession plan.

The Arias administration seeks to accomplish what was done without much fanfare at the Port of Caldera on the Pacific. There government workers were let go and paid off handsomely. Many got jobs with the concession holder,
who has agreed to make a substantial investment in the port infrastructure.

The meeting Wednesday appears to have prompted threats. Rodrigo Arias said that hardly anyone believes that Limón can move ahead with threats.

Arias said that the government will continue ahead with the concession plan without fear of threats from a few. The concessions involve the docks at Limón and Moín.

The docks lack modern equipment, and the unions have engaged in repeated work stoppages. Many agricultural exports pass through this port, including bananas and pineapples.  Work stoppages have been costly.

The dock concessions are part of an $80 million face lifting for the central canton of the province.


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Coke smuggling ring used trucks, investigators report
By José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Six persons have been detained as investigators moved to break up a smuggling ring that carried cocaine to Guatemala.

Investigators arrested Steven Araya Codero, 42, at his home in Patarra, Desamparados, and said that he was the leader of the smuggling group.

The Judicial Investigating Organization spent four months on the case, agents said.

Two Costa Ricans, Alex Salas Salazar, 24, and a man identified by the last names of Hernández Montenegro, also
were held. Also detained was a Guatemalan, José Francisco
  Domínguez Hernández, a Nicaraguan, José Tomás Castillo Canizales, and a Colombian, Alejandro Candelo Mina, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Francisco Segura, deputy director of the organization, said the gang brought cocaine from Panamá and kept it here in a truck warehouse. The destination was the United States, he said.

Investigators ripped open the truck trailer in La Uruca Tuesday night where they said cocaine was hidden in a double floor. They said they found 286 kilos of cocaine, some 629 pounds.

Segúra said that this gang transported cocaine produced by various drug organizations. So the participants were more or less independent operators.


Four held as suspects in Banco Nacional burglary in Hatillo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men, suspected of burning their way into an Hatillo bank Aug. 20, have been arrested.

The men are accused of the burglary at the Banco Nacional where thieves got away with 130 million colons, some $235,000.

The men were captured in Siquirres and Guácimo during various searches. The men were identified by the Judicial Investigating Organization as Eduardo Hernández Rojas,
Carlos Andres Alvarado Soto, Javier Arias Rojas and Henry Alberto Arias Cascante. The last two are father and son.

Burglars used an acetylene torch to melt their way through the metal wall of the Hatillo bank in the early morning hours, said investigators. The four men also are being investigated in a series of burglaries in Cañas, Guanacaste, including one at a major appliance store.

In the searches, investigators found oxygen and acetylene tanks as well as jewelry that they said might have been taken from the lock boxes at the bank.


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A.M. Costa Rica

users guide


This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

Searching

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

Newspages

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Classifieds

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Statistics

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.


Raúl Castro in Russia
to improve cooperation


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Cuban President Raúl Castro is in Russia on a week-long official visit aimed at boosting ties between the former Cold War allies.

Castro is expected to meet today with his Russian counterpart, Dmitri Medvedev, at the Russian leader's country residence just outside Moscow.  Cuba and Russia are also expected to sign several cooperation agreements.

This is the first trip to Russia by a Cuban leader since 1986, when Castro's brother, Fidel Castro, traveled to Moscow.  President Medvedev traveled to Cuba last November in a bid to bolster ties in Latin America. 

The Russian leader said he believes Castro's visit will strengthen development of relations between their two countries. Last year, Russia signed a $20 million trade agreement with Cuba to expand economic cooperation. 

The Soviet Union was Cuba's main benefactor during the Cold War, but the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 battered Cuba's economy and strained relations between Havana and Moscow.

Colombian politician says
some hostages to be freed


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Colombian senator says leftist rebels will free some of the six hostages they have pledged to release Sunday.
Opposition Sen. Piedad Cordoba made the announcement Wednesday, saying she has received the coordinates of the location of the handover.

Ms. Cordoba, who has been an intermediary in the process, did not release the names of the people expected to be freed. She did say the hostages will be turned over to a mission traveling from Brazil, which is expected to provide aircraft to pick them up.

In December, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia said it was willing to hand over the six hostages but that it would only do so in the presence of an international representative. The terrorist group said it wanted someone from either a brother country or the international community to be on hand when the hostages are freed.

The rebels and the government have said they will let someone from the International Committee of the Red Cross be present for the release of the hostages, who include two politicians, three police officers and a soldier.

In July, the terrorist group was dealt a blow when soldiers posing as members of a humanitarian group freed 15 prominent hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans. The 15 were freed without a shot being fired.

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