Home of Limón’s mayor raided
By A.M. Costa Rica staff
Fiscal police made three raids in the municipality of Limón Tuesday morning, one at the Limón municipality, one at the home of Limón Mayor Nestor Matis and the last at the home of a municipal engineer, whose name was not disclosed in the police report.
The objective of those raids was the seizure of evidence linked to two investigations that are being carried out, both related to work contracted by the mayor, said investigators.
These two cases were opened this year.
The first is related to a contract granted to a company to rebuild part of the Limón market and add an extension, the judiciary said.
The report of the investigators states that, “the new works were made but inside there are no divisions, and the reconstruction was not carried out.” It adds that even though the work was not completed, the contractor was paid $4.5 million and the guarantee was cancelled.
The guarantees can be large sums which are calculated in relation to the final amount of the construction agreement.
That guarantee would be in the hands of the municipality as protection or insurance if the constructor did not comply with the contract or if the construction does not comply with all the requirements of the contract.
When the municipality returned of the guarantee amount, it could be presumed that the work was done in its entirety and to satisfaction but the investigation report states that the Limón market work did not fulfill the agreement.
The second case investigated has to do with an agreement to build sidewalks in the center of Limón.
The report states that although only 25 percent of the work is done, “the municipality made the payment of the entire contract to the company and the guarantee was canceled was well, as if the construction had been received in full and in full compliance with the requirements of the contract."
Limon Municipality courtesy photo
Fiscal police raids in the municipality of Limón and
the home of Limón Mayor Nestor Matis.
"The amount awarded for that work was ¢410 million ($709,000), but it was expanded by ¢120 million ($208,000) more, after an addendum to the contract so that the sidewalks were made with paving stones and not with cement," clarified the report.
The municipality imposed a tax on people living in downtown Limón for the construction of sidewalks. This tax was created in a dubious manner, and the management of the funds raised is now also under investigation, said the judiciary.
The report concluded by stating that the police collected computer evidence for the case and that detectives of Judicial Investigating Organization confiscated other types of evidence.
The operations took a large part of the day and the cases will continue under investigation. At the close of the edition.
Transit Police plan for Independence Day
By A.M. Costa Rica staff
As traditional, the Independence Torch is expected to arrive in Peñas Blancas from Nicaragua at 11 a.m. Thursday, September 13.
The Transit Police will escort students and companions along 339 km from that border post to the center of the city of Cartago. The route goes from La Cruz in Guanacaste through Liberia and through popular towns like Cañas, Bagaces, Puntarenas, Esparza, San Ramón, Palmares, Naranjo and Grecia.
The Independence Torch students escorts will follow the Interamericana Norte and make temporary detours to the centers of the Alajuela.
In Alajuela and Heredia there is a list of places where the torch will be going, said the director of the Traffic Police, German Marín, while he warned that when the procession enters the capital Friday it could generate some road problems.
One of the most important tasks will be carried out starting at 2 p.m. on Friday when the torch travels from Alajuela to Cartago, because of the presence of many vehicles on the road. As a result, starting at 5 p.m. the cross-section over Paseo Colón and the closure of Avenida Segunda will be coordinated, as will be the vicinity of San José Central Park. Other controls will be at the Fuente de la Hispanidad, San Pedro, Curridabat, Tres Ríos and the Antigua Galera.
"It's a very nice tradition, and drivers must understand that in order to carry out this activity on the afternoon of Sept. 14, there is a lot of movement in the street and the passage of the torch could involve a little more time of transfer for vehicles. Under this scenario, those who can avoid the zone of passage of the torch, such as General Cañas, Juan Pablo II Bridge, Paseo Colón and Second Avenue, could have fewer inconveniences in the afternoon of that day," said Marín.
In the Central Park a ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. Friday. Once that event ends, the torch will go towards Cartago through Montes de Oca and Curridabat and to Cartago on the Florencio del Castillo highway.
Then the torch will reach the city of Cartago where the whole perimeter will be monitored by traffic police.
In addition to this special escort work, the traffic police will carry out collaborative work in the different communities of the country on the occasion of the children's lantern parades Friday and at the school bands parades Saturday.
A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo
The Independence Torch students escorts will follow the Interamericana Norte from Nicaragua border to San José downtown.
On Independence Day, Saturday, there will be a special operation to isolate the sector of the National Park, for a special program involving the presence of President Carlos Alvarado Quesada and dignitaries.
Regarding the children’s lantern parades Friday night and the school bands parade Saturday, Marín said that each transit delegation of the country already has its protocols to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and local governments.
The strategy on roads Saturday will be:
From 6 a.m. the perimeter close to the National Park, located opposite the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in San José, will be closed.
The closure in the vicinity of that park will go from 15th Street (west Side of the National Park) to 23rd Street (the street that passes in front of Cine Magaly). From south to north the closure will go from Avenue Zero, that is, Cuesta de Moras, to Avenue 7, which is the road that passes behind the National Insurance Institute and in front of the Calderón Guardia Hospital.
“From 6 o'clock in the morning there will also be closures and controls on Second Avenue and the Paseo Colón for the two parades that will start simultaneously at 8:30 in both downtown arteries (one in front of Purdy Motors and another in front to La Merced park,” said the traffic director.
Landslide leaves 82 homeless
By A.M. Costa Rica staff
The president of the National Emergency Commission, Alexander Solis, personally reviewed the damage caused by a landslide in the place known as El Hueco in Curridabat.
According to the commission's report, the landslide occurred Monday night as a result of heavy rains and caused the evacuation of 38 minors and 44 adults. They were taken to a shelter where they would spend the night.
Solís confirmed that a shelter for 82 people had been opened and that a geologist is currently evaluating the conditions at the site of the landslide.
The president of the Social Assistance Institute, María Fullmen, confirmed that she has requested immediate attention for the families affected by the emergency.
"I speak directly with the families and guarantee them the proper attention and granting of the service, according to the institutional parameters and the current regulations" said Fullmen.
Experts will evaluate the situations of the families so that emergency subsidies can be granted to cover immediate basic needs, food, clothing, basic equipment and temporary housing rental.
Blas Sanchez, agency geologist, reminded the families living close to landslide to be vigilant because the land remains unstable. The specialist said at least there are three more houses in danger of collapsing.
National Emergency Commission courtesy photo
A shelter for 82 people had been opened and that a geologist is currently evaluating the conditions at the site of the landslide
Sanchez said there was an inspection of the site to verify the collapse of the homes. He pointed out that poor construction techniques, poor water management, and erosion all contributed to the landslide. He recommended that the families living in three other homes stay away from the site and that others in the area remain vigilant due to local conditions.
The risk increases with heavy rains due to the instability of the land and the precarious condition of the houses.
Union protests affect wide area
By A.M. Costa Rica staff
Union protests are affecting main highways, the principal gas distributor and even the international airport's main entry, and the leaders said they have enough support from the members to continue the protests throughout the week.
Union representatives say they are protesting against the new package of taxes on products and changes in the salaries of public employees. Both core points are part of the new tax plan that is under analysis in the legislature.
In San José, transit blockades were made in the Municipality of San Jose on 10th Avenue, La Merced Park on Second Avenue, the La Hispanidad fountain in San Pedro, and the Legislative Assembly in San Jose downtown.
Despite the strike, hospital services went on normally.
The schools have worked normally. The Education Ministry calls to the parents to report at toll-free number 1311 if they find that a school is not working or that any teacher is canceling lessons.
In Cartago, the union members tried to block the transport of fuel from the state refinery facility in Ochomogo. The Security Ministry carried out a closure plan for some refinery facilities to prevent acts of gang activity by trade unionists. The action of the police protected the exit and entrance gates of the fuel delivery trucks so the situation returned to normal.
Refinery employees who support the strike sabotaged the electrical system of the Moín location, according to a report made to the government Tuesday.
"The situation led to the strategic decision to close on Monday the campuses of La Garita, Moin and Barranca and maintain the distribution and sale operations only in the Plantel El Alto in Ochomogo , Cartago, where attention has been provided during normal hours," the refinery said in a press release.
According to the statement, there was a disconnection of the main substation which led to the shutting down of 15 substations that supply electricity to the entire campus and the different equipment, including the oil pipeline control center and the level control system of the tanks for LPG storage where they cut cables and removed fuses.
From the early hours of the morning refinery personnel who are working proceeded to identify the damage, make repairs and verify the operation of the system. They were able to restore power throughout the campus and resume operational actions.
A notarized document was drawn up to confirm the sabotage and to initiate investigations by means of a complaint to the Judicial Investigating Organization.
A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo
People leaving the country from the airport were forced to walk from the police control point, known as Route #1,
to the international airport.
According to the report of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, the protests intensified on Highway 27 near Juan Santamaria Airport.
The police and the agents of the Air Surveillance Service cordoned off the airport vehicle entrance and exit areas to prevent several dozens of unionists from blocking access to the airport.
People leaving the country from the airport were forced to walk from the police control point, known as Route 1, to the international airport.
"The access to the terminal is strictly limited for duly identified passengers and airport officials. It is coordinated with the airport police and Aeris authorities, the bus facility for the eventual transfer of passengers who may suffer some delay when arriving at the airport,"said Aeris, the airport administration, in a press release.
Despite the attempted blockade of the main entrances of the airport, no flight delays were reported.
"The operation at Juan Santamaría was not affected. Before 10 a.m., 22 international flights departed with 2,928 passengers, while another 12 flights made an entry with 2,591 people," said the statement of Civil Aviation.
The second international airport of the country, Daniel Oduber in Liberia, was reported to be operating without problems.
The airport administration reported normal operations with four flights departing with 461 passengers and flights with 558 passengers departing the airport.
First Central American charging center for electric vehicles
By A.M. Costa Rica staff
The Costa Rican Electrical Institute inaugurated the first fast-loading center in the Central American region for electric vehicles Monday.
The device was installed in the company's branch in Escazú and is able to fill 80 percent of the battery of an electric vehicle in 30 minutes.
The event was attended by Claudia Dobles, first lady of the Republic, and Víctor Solís, general manager of the institute.
"Costa Rica is projected worldwide as a de-carbonization laboratory, and today we take one more step towards this goal, promoting the change to electric mobility. We have everything, including renewable generation, to encourage the population and economic sectors to use zero-emission mobility," said the first lady.
The electrical supply station has American and Japanese connection standards compatible with the needs of vehicles that are permitted in the country.
For his part, Solis said that the instillation of these stations shows the visionary nature of the electric company and makes it, "a major player in promoting legislation on electric vehicles in Costa Rica, in addition to ratifying its high commitment to good environmental practices."
This fast loading center is the first of the 28 that the ICE Group will install in the country. The next one will start working before the end of this year in Curridabat.
The rest are scheduled to be in operation from 2019 and will collect data on consumption in order to identify the behavior and load patterns of the national electric vehicle fleet.
Costa Rican electrical institute courtesy photo
We have everything, including renewable generation, to encourage the population and economic sectors to use zero-emission mobility," said the first lady Claudia Dobles.
This information will be the starting point of the Recharge Management Platform for Electric Vehicles that will operate from the first quarter of 2019.
At the inauguration, the purchase of 100 electric vehicles was announced.
The Costa Rican Electrical Institute will acquire them to replace an equal number of gas/diesel units that will go out of circulation.
The new cars will arrive in the country later this year, officials said.
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U.N. reports increased world hunger
By A.M. Costa Rica wire services
For the third consecutive year, the U. N. Food and Agriculture Organization announced an increase in the number of people suffering from hunger.
In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, 39.3 million people live undernourished in the region, an increase of 400,000 people since 2016.
According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018, globally almost 821 million people - approximately one in nine- were victims of hunger in 2017, an increase of 17 million in relation to the previous year.
“In the region we are stuck in the fight against hunger. In 2014, hunger affected 38.5 million and in 2017 it exceeded 39 million. These figures are a strong and clear call to redouble efforts at all levels,” said Julio Berdegué, regional representative of the U.N. agency.
Berdegué said that the increase in hunger at the regional level follows the global trend and moves us away from meeting the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger by 2030.
This year's food report was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the U. N. Children's Fund, the World Food Program, and the World Health Organization.
In addition to the traditional hunger indicator reported by the the food report, undernourishment, this year, for the second time, the report presents an indicator of severe food insecurity, based on household surveys.
According to this measurement, severe food insecurity in 2017 is higher than in 2014 in all regions, except North America and Europe, with notable increases in Africa and Latin America.
In Latin America, severe food insecurity jumped from 7.6 percent in 2016 to 9.8 percent in 2017.
Good news for the region is that it has a very low rate of acute malnutrition in children (1.3 percent), equivalent to 700,000 children under the age of 5, well below the global average of 7.5 percent.
Only one in every 100 children under 5 years of age in Latin America and the Caribbean suffers from this condition.
The chronic malnutrition of girls and boys has also fallen, from 11.4 percent in 2012 to 9.6 percent in 2017. today it affects 5.1 million children under 5 years of age in the region, the U.N. agency said.
The news is much less encouraging on the issue of obesity. According to the report, practically one out of every four inhabitants of the region lives with obesity. In 2016, obesity affected 24.1 percent of the population, an increase of 2.4 percent since 2012, it said.
FAO courtesy photo
South Carolina governor, Henry McMaster estimates some 1 million people, will be affected by the evacuation order.
“In 2016 there were 104.7 million adults with obesity in our region. But there was a gigantic increase of more than 16 million in just four years. It is an epidemic that, despite repeated warnings from FAO and PAHO/WHO, continues to be out of control, with enormous effects on the health of people and the economy of the countries,” Berdegué warned, using the initials of the U.N. food agency and the world and hemispheric health agencies.
Latin America and the Caribbean has the second highest percentage of overweight children in the world (7.3 percent), which is equivalent to 3.9 million girls and boys, the report said.
Obesity in adults is also worsening globally: 672 million people are obese, more than one in eight adults, it added.
In addition to conflicts, variability and extreme weather conditions are among the key factors in the recent increase in world hunger.
According to the report, the cumulative effect of changes in climate is undermining all dimensions of food security, including food availability, access, utilization and stability.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, this was clearly seen in the dry corridor of Central America, particularly in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, one of the regions most affected by the drought caused by the El Niño phenomenon in 2015-16, the report said.
The drought was one of the worst in the last 10 years and resulted in significant reductions in agricultural production, with estimated losses of between 50 percent and 90 percent of the agricultural harvest. More than 3.6 million people needed humanitarian aid as a result of this drought, said the U.N. agency.
The full report is here.