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(506) 2223-1327       Published Tuesday, April 14, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 72     E-mail us
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New Yorkers get a rehash of the Emily murders
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Caribbean coast took another hit Sunday when the New York Daily News published an historical article on the 2000 murders of two 19-year-old female tourists there.

The article did not appear to contain any new revelations. It was titled "Trouble in Paradise" and written by David J. Krajicek, who says he is a special correspondent for The News and writes The Justice Story, a long-running Sunday crime feature.

Ironically, Krajicek is the author of the non-fiction "Scooped! Media Miss Real Story on
Crime While Chasing Sex, Sleaze, and Celebrities."
There is no indication in the story that Krajicek ever traveled to Costa Rica from his home in Red Falls, in upstate New York. The story appears to be patched together from contemporary news accounts.

The murders March 12, 2000, was a troubling development in the Puerto Viejo de Talamanca  area.

The two women, Emily Eagen and Emily Howell, were killed by a juvenile and two older men. They also stole the pair's rented car.

The impact on tourism at the time was significant but hard to measure, but the article Sunday on the murders comes unexpectedly at a time when tourist operations are struggling.



Arias will spend weekend at Summit of Americas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez will be at the Fifth Summit of the Americas this weekend along with key government officials.

The summit in Port of Spain, Trinidad, also will host U.S. President Barack Obama and the leaders of every country in the hemisphere except Cuba and maybe Bolivia.

Casa Presidencial said that Arias would leave Friday and return Sunday night. Obama is taking a longer route with a stop in México before traveling to Trinidad.

The summit is sponsored by the Organization of American States, which says the purpose is to discuss common concerns, seek solutions and develop a shared vision for their future development of the region, be it economic, social or political in nature.

Arias was quoted saying that he is happy that Obama is considering a good neighbor policy. Arias was continually critical of George Bush, particularly over the war in Iraq.

The summit will be Obama's first opportunity since becoming president to address most members of the Organization of American States. Already the U.S. administration is fielding criticism over reports that about 1,000 government employees will be making the trip.

The meeting comes at a time when the U.S. economy is in trouble. Native Americans are holding a parallel summit in Panamá later this week, and as meeting of the Venezuelan-Cuban economic alternative, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, is being held Thursday in Cuba.
Evo Morales on hunger strike
Congreso Bolivariano de los Pueblos photo
Evo Morales on hunger strike Monday

There is a question if Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, will attend the summit. He is engaged in a hunger strike at home to pressure lawmakers to pass a controversial electoral law ratifying Dec. 6 as the date for general elections. It is unclear as to why opposition lawmakers would be pressured by his hunger strike.

Casa Presidencial noted that heavy security precautions are in force in Trinidad. Also attending from Costa Rica will be Bruno Stagno, the foreign minister; Mayi Antillón, the administration spokesperson; Jorge Rodríguerz, the minister of  Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, and  Jorge Enrique Cantillo, Costa Rican ambassador to the Organization of American States.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 72

Costa Rica Expertise
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Ph/Fax: 2221-9462, 8841-0007

medical tourism site
 Medical tourists getting site
for high-quality care here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The parent company of this newspaper soon will go live with a medical tourism Web site, Medical Vacations Costa Rica.

The site is an effort to connect would-be medical tourists with the best health professionals in Costa Rica.

The country offers world-class medical care at a much lower price than the same services available in the United States or Canada.

The new Web site is in keeping with the recent decree on medical tourism by President Óscar Arias Sanchez. Arias issued the decree in December, but the document was not published until February.

The decree noted that medical tourism brings in worldwide about $60 billion a year, a number that is expected to grow to $100 billion a year by 2012, thanks to the high cost of health care in developed countries.

The decree also noted that citizens in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are getting older and some 220 million will need major medical care by 2015.

Costa Rica has the competitive advantage of geography, a stable economic and political system and an international reputation for the quality of its health care system, said the decree.

The decree also praised the pioneers in the field here, mainly plastic surgeons who with vision began offering medical services principally to U.S. citizens more than 10 years ago. The decree also cites dental care, aesthetics, wellness and thermal cures.

A Wisconsin firm announced in March that it was setting up a subsidiary to emphasize medical care here. The firm is HSA Clearing Corp. of Lake Geneva, which said it is the leading provider of health savings account educational services to financial institutions, employee benefit companies and health agents.

A health savings account is a way U.S. residents with substantial income can generate a tax deduction for health care. Since they are spending their own money, they will be looking for high quality care at the lowest possible cost.

The firm mentioned these possible reasons to visit Costa Rica: bariatric surgery for weight control, angioplasty, heart by-pass, hip and knee replacement, ophthalmology and medical check ups, dental surgery and care, cosmetic and plastic surgery

Consultantes Río Colorado S.A., the parent company of A.M. Costa Rica, envisions the new Web site as a way that individual medical practitioners here can compete with larger corporations by using the highly effective advertising in the daily online newspaper and other sources that can reach the North American market.

A.M. Costa Rica, which now appears to be the largest English-language news site in Latin America, has demonstrated that directed marketing can result in significant readership.

The company said, however, that it would exercise its publisher's rights to provide advertising space only for recommended practitioners with a strong track record.


Large group of bankers
will meet on financial crisis


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 150 bankers will meet Thursday with government and business officials to assess the impact of the financial crisis.

Instead of just meeting with a few top bank officials, Casa Presidencial has invited 60 persons each from Banco Nacional de Costa Rica and Banco de Costa Rica and 30 persons from the Banco de Crédito Agrícola de Cartago. These are state banks. Rodrigo Arias, minister of the Presidencia, said that workers in the productive sector are closest to the problem. He also said that a broad selection of bankers from around the country would give a good look at what is taking place.

Pair on motorcycle held
as morning bandits


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men suspected of committing up to 50 street robberies of women on their way to work came into police custody Monday shortly after two more women were robbed in Aserrí.

The two men, identified by the last names of Ramírez Díaz and Brenes Marín, were arrested shortly after the robberies of women standing waiting for transportation to work. The majority of complaints came from women at bus stops in sections of Desamparados as well as Aserrí. The bulk of the robberies took place around 6 or 7 a.m.

In one case Monday a woman was waiting for a friend to drive her to work, when two men drove up on a motorcycle and pointed a gun at her. She surrendered her belongings.

The Fuerza Pública said that the robbers would take their loot and stash it in a nearby car. Police impounded a blue Hyundai when they made the arrests.

Ex-Caja chief must pay
$100 million colons


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A trial court Monday ordered that a former government employee be barred from holding a public job for four years and that he be ordered to pay 100 million colons, about $177,000. The man is Israel Moya Rodríguez, a former manager of operations for the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.  He was in charge of the paperwork involving the new Caja hospital in Alajuela.

The court said he had failed to carry out his duty, which included making sure that the Caja was protected from poor workmanship on the hospital. When the building was delivered to the Caja there were a lot of problems, but the court found that Moya had failed to execute the paperwork that would have guaranteed repairs.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 72


Health minister pushing bill to regulate and control garbage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The health minister, a legislator and members of a non-profit organization made a pitch Monday for approval of a new law to cover solid waste in the country.

The law has been on the floor of the Asamblea Legislativa since September with no action. The so-called extraordinary session of the legislature comes to a close in just two weeks, and there is a backlog.

The health minister, María Luisa Ávila Agüero, said that the proposed law would create a legal framework for the handling of solid waste from the time it is generated to the final disposition. She said the law would protect the environment and the public health.

Maureen Ballestero, head of the committee that signed out the bill in September, also was there as were representatives of Asociación Terra Nostra.
A description of the proposed law suggested that the measure is heavy into recycling.

The measure also would promote the creation of public and private infrastructure for separate collections, transport, storage, reutilization, treatment and final disposition of waste. The bill also calls for the creation of a national inventory for planning purposes and the development of a market for recycled products

Nidia Rodríguez of Terra Nostra said that the country generates 4,500 tons of solid waste a day and that 30 percent of it ends up in streets, vacant lots, rivers and other public places.

The proposed law would emphasize the municipal role in solid waste disposal. Several municipalities, including Limón and Tibás, seem to have perpetual garbage problems, in part because of the cost of collection and because adequate landfills are not always available.


Traffic deaths were much lower for this Semana Santa
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Traffic deaths were way down for Semana Santa.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that three persons died in crashes and five persons were hit by vehicles.

That compares with 25 dead from all types of motor vehicle accidents in 2008, according to the organization's statistics.

Some 27 deaths still are under investigation, said the Judicial Investigating Organization, but it appears that none were involved with traffic accidents.

Deaths by homicide were the same, 18, for both years. This year 11 persons died from gunshots, four died from knives, two persons were stoned to death and one individual died
in a way that has not yet been determined, said the judicial police.

The Judicial Investigating Organization is notified whenever there is a a death, so its statistics are broader than those compiled by the Cruz Roja, which logs a case whenever an ambulance is dispatched or a rescue crew is called.

This year there were 72 violent deaths, said the Judicial Investigating Organization compared with 84 in 2008.

Some 11 persons died in water accidents, the report said.

One death that still is being investigated is that of Michael Alan Silbert, who was found in the Hotel Morazán Wednesday in what first appeared to be a case of a drug overdose. But a friend has raised some questions.


Neighbors block Forum workers from reaching their jobs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Neighbors of The Forum office park in Santa Ana blocked the Autopista Próspero Fernández Monday morning and prevented a number of workers from reaching their job site.

The residents were protesting the relocation of bus stops by the Autopista del Sol, which is rebuilding the highway.

Protesters piled dirt and rocks on the highway and even set up some of the heavy plastic dividers used by road crews. Police responded but took little action.

The residents complain that by moving the bus stops they
and their family members will have to walk along the highway for some distance. The bus stops are being moved nearly a half mile in one case while the concession holder for the highway constructs a pedestrian bridge over the multi-lane highway. Construction is supposed to continue for the rest of the month.

Karla Gonzáles, the transport minister, was not very receptive to the protestors' cause. She said at a press conference in the afternoon that moving bus stops is routine during such constructions and this is not a reason to block traffic.

She said that with this being an election year many individuals will stage protests for their own interests.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 72


Many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry face layoffs in Japan
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

One hundred years ago, a wave of poor Japanese migrants settled in Brazil to work on coffee plantations. Today, their descendants number around one million. In the 1990s Japan offered the descendants of those migrants work visas and close to 300,000 Japanese-Brazilians came to their ancestral homeland. But now, due to the global economic downturn, many are heading back to Brazil.

At many factories, the people operating the machines are Brazilians whose ancestors migrated from Japan decades ago. Most came to Japan over the past decade to take jobs many Japanese citizens shunned.

But as demand abroad for Japanese exports has dried up during the global downturn, these migrant workers are losing their jobs.

Karina Tsunoda, 28, who came from Brazil eight years ago to work in a factory, says she was laid off without warning.

"And my Japanese boss just told me, 'from Monday you are on vacation,' but on Tuesday, he told my manager, my Brazilian boss, that he had to dismiss me, so that's it, the next day he told me I was fired," Ms. Tsunoda said.

Because the majority of these Brazilian workers do not speak Japanese, they are faced with very limited employment opportunities.

Analysts say that many are left with no other option than to return home.

Angelo Ishi is an associate sociology professor at Musashi University in Tokyo and is also a Brazilian of Japanese ancestry.

"It is like a big earthquake has affected the Brazilian community in Japan," Ishi said. "People estimate that 50 percent of Brazilians that were working in factories in Japanese factories, they were fired."

The effects of Japan's recession are visible in the businesses
and schools that serve the Brazilian community.

Bruno Oshiro, 13, said his classes are getting smaller.

He says many of his friends have left and more are going to leave. Their families do not have enough work now to live in Japan anymore.

The school's director, Aureo Magno Watanabe, says before the recession, there were around 150 tuition-paying students here. Now there are 35.

Watanabe says to keep his school open he plans to combine classes with another school in Nagoya. He says he is very worried about losing more students as families leave for Brazil.

But things might not be any easier for the migrants once they get back home.

Unemployment in Brazil hovers around 8 percent. And Ishi at Musashi University says the type of low-skilled labor they have done in Japan will not help the migrants get jobs at home.

"He or she cannot search for some skilled job in the same conditions of people who have studied there and people who are looking for the same job there," Ishi said.

The recently laid-off Ms. Tsunoda says she has been thinking about what she will do if she leaves Japan for good.

"I really feel scared, and it's strange, because I will restart my life," Ms. Tsunoda said. "I will try to go to college and try to find a job there. The situation there hasn't changed. It's a little better now, but, I am sure it's not going to be easy. But I will try."

Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says that thousands of migrant workers have applied to receive unemployment benefits. And to prevent their numbers from growing, the government is offering to buy laid-off workers one-way plane tickets back to Brazil.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 72



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.



U.S. Army seeks immigrants
to serve for U.S. passport

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Army is stepping up efforts to recruit more skilled soldiers by offering immigrants a fast track to U.S. citizenship if they enlist.

The move comes as the Pentagon prepares to send several thousand more troops to Afghanistan and with the war in Iraq in its sixth year.

Lt. Col. Margaret Stock says the Army is looking for people with language skills or medical expertise. "We're also looking for people who have cultural ability. They understand certain cultures that we are dealing with. We found, in our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that having people who were culturally knowledgeable is critical to success on the battlefield," Col. Stock said.

So far, the program, which began in February, has enlisted 52 new soldiers, 60 percent of whom are college graduates. The Army wants people who speak one of 35 languages it deems strategic.

Stephen Chi speaks Cantonese and four other languages. He will be working as a petroleum supply specialist. He said he enlisted, not for the U.S. passport, but for the camaraderie. "I grew up in Norway, my parents are Chinese, so joining the Army will give me a chance to really belong to somewhere," he said.

Toniya Mishra, 24, who will start as a water treatment specialist. She says the Army approached her after finding her resume on the Internet. While her starting salary is less than she hoped to get with a masters' degree, she says there are other perks. "They provide insurance for your family, and you get to travel a lot in different countries, and it's better than doing anything else in a market like this today," she said.

Mrs. Clinton will go digital
for online town meeting


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will conduct what is being called Digital Town Hall of the Americas, a live Web-based discussion, from the Dominican Republic Friday, in anticipation of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The event will provide an opportunity for Mrs. Clinton to launch a conversation with citizens from across the Western Hemisphere to discuss the Summit’s themes of  promoting human prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability, as well as the situation in Haiti, where she will visit and attend meetings on Wednesday, said the U.S. State Department.

Digital Town Hall of the Americas will be streamed live on the Department of State’s Social Media Hub for the Fifth Summit of Americas.


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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 72


Latin American news digest
Obama is easing rules
for travel, cash to Cuba


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama has ordered his administration to take steps to ease limits on family travel and remittances from the United States to Cuba.

A White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, made the announcement Monday during a briefing with reporters. He said Obama is working to fulfill the goals he identified both during his presidential campaign and since taking office.

Officials say one step being taken is allowing U.S. telecommunications companies to apply for licenses to provide cell phone and television services to people on the island.

During his election campaign, Obama pledged to ease restrictions on Cuban-Americans traveling to the island and sending money to relatives.

He also has said he would be willing to speak with Cuba's leaders, but that he would maintain the long-standing trade embargo on Cuba as leverage to push for democratic change on the island. Cuban President Raúl Castro has said he is open to talks with Obama.

Another step being taken is expanding the items allowed in gift packages to Cuba, such as clothing, personal hygiene items, seeds, fishing gear and other personal necessities.

This policy shift comes just days before Obama visits Trinidad and Tobago to attend the Summit of the Americas.

Several days ago, a Democratic Party delegation made up of members of the Congressional Black Caucus visited Cuba and met with Raúl Castro and his brother, former president Fidel Castro. One member of that delegation, Rep. Barbara Lee, later said the long-standing U.S. embargo has not worked and that it is time to look at a new direction in U.S. policy toward Cuba. The embargo has been in place since the early 1960s.

Two Republicans in Congress, Christopher Smith and Frank Wolf, criticized the Democratic lawmakers for not visiting political prisoners in Cuba during their visit. The Republican lawmakers urged the Obama administration to demand that Cuba free all political prisoners before there is any lifting of sanctions or freeing up of travel to the island.


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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details