Vol.18  No.1019 Friday Edition, October 19, 2018
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President acts to reduce luxury pensions

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Carlos Alvarado met with the magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber on Thursday, to request that the bill that would limit the pensions of senior government officials and other public organizations be analyzed.

The president said he has developed a series of actions aimed at making "pension systems fair and sustainable."

According to the report of the Pension Board, luxury pensions are retirement benefits that far exceed the money that the beneficiaries earned during their working life, which forces the rest of taxpayers to pay the difference in government taxes.  Some of these luxury pensions reach up to $23,600 per month.

A second group of  pensions, called ‘high pensions’ are also amounts well above the average of a government employee’s pension. According to the official report, there are almost 3,800 pensioners who receive more than $5,000 per month for a total of $228 million annually.

In these circumstances, President Alvarado asked the magistrates to complete the analysis of the law that would lower these pensions more quickly. "I came in the morning hours to advocate for the end of luxury pensions in Costa Rica. Today, the trust of citizens in their institutions is at stake and we are facing an opportunity to do the right thing," said President Alvarado.

With the conviction that "pensions are to protect not to get rich," President Alvarado has reiterated that this issue is a priority in his management to achieve fair and sustainable regimes in Costa Rica.

According to the government, in 2016 when President Alvarado was the Minister of Labor, a law was passed to eliminate the automatic 30 percent increase in pensions for a group of former deputies.

The actions taken by the president to put a cap on the pensions of public employees, has achieved savings of $822,000 for the reduction of pension amounts to about 500 pensioners.

That law, however, was suspended because of an appeal that continues in analysis in the Constitutional Chamber.

  Presidential House courtesy photo

"Pensions are to protect not to get rich,"
said President Alvarado

Responding to the request of the president, Fernando Castillo, president of the Constitutional Chamber, announced that he will finally resolve the ‘unconstitutionality actions’ filed against the ceiling on luxury pensions before November 18.

According to the bill to limit luxury pensions, the maximum pension for public employees would be $4,600 per month but this maximum limit would be applied only in a few cases.

According to the Social Security report, there are 4,200 elderly, indigent, disabled or orphaned people in poverty who belong to the pension system of the Non-Contributory Regime. This system applies to people who have a job and do not meet the minimum requirements for retirement.

Ubaldo Carrillo Cubillo, director of Pension Fund, explained, in a statement, that "these pensions reach people in poverty or extreme poverty and additionally, are over 65 years of age, people with disabilities, orphans, destitution and deep brain paralysis."

Pensions for these people are $131 per month, with the right to receive the aguinaldo, or Christmas bonus and medical attention in Social Security.

Family of missing British journalist appeals for help

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

UK authorities and the family of missing British journalist Michael Dixon have renewed their appeal for information nine years after he went missing in Costa Rica.

"If you know something that could help me find out what happened to my dear are, I beg you, with all my heart, to come forward," Michael's mother, Lynn Dixon, said.

The British foreign office has promised to formally request an update on the case from Costa Rican authorities.

"We've been fighting for almost 10 years to solve this mystery and we'll keep on fighting even if we have to do it alone," Michael's brother, David Dixon, said. "My dad recently passed away never knowing what happened, I cannot let that happen to my mum," he said.

Michael George Dixon was reportedly seen at the Villas Macondo Hotel in Tamarindo, Costa Rica on Monday, 18 October, 2009. The hotel reports that Dixon arrived in the afternoon, checked-in and said that he would stay one day. He has not been seen again.

According to the family "evidence indicates he was the victim of violent crime, but British and Costa Rican authorities failed to properly investigate."

The 33-year old British journalist had been living in Belgium and working for a US magazine. He was 1.7m tall, with a slender build, brown eyes, short dark hair, and light brown skin.

According to the Missing Americans Project, in recent times more than 20 foreign nationals have vanished and most cases remain unsolved.  They are:

Gerard and Claude Dubois, French - April 2011 (Quepos), Barbara Struncova, Czech (expat) - Dec 2010 (Tamarindo), Austin Allen Hiers, American - Oct 2010 (Tamarindo), Steve Edelson, American - Sept 2010 (Puerto Viejo) , Kim Paris, Canadian (expat) - Aug 2010 (Cóbano), Roger Peter Biennvennu, American (expat) - July 2010 (Quebradas), Kelly Robert Nutting, American (expat) - March 2010 (Golfito), John Scibeck, American - Jan 2010 (Playa Portrero).

David Dixon (Michael's brother) courtesy photo

Michael Dixon was reportedly seen at the Villas Macondo Hotel in Tamarindo, on Monday October 18, 2009. 

Herbert Langmaier and Horst Hauser, Austrian (expats) - Dec 2009 (Puerto Jiménez), Michael Dixon, UK - October 2009 (Tamarindo), David Gimelfarb, American - August 2009 (Rincon de Vieja), Craig Snell, American (expat) - February 2009 (Ostional), Brendan Dobbins, Australian - March 2005 (Tamarindo). And more recently William Sean Creighton Kopko, and US Citizen reported missing this week.

"Corruption is rife in this country and all the investigations into Michael's disappearance were never fulfilled," David Dixon said.
The family is calling for help. If you know anything that could help them to find Michael, contact his brother David Dixon, U.S. phone: +44 7920 792 204,  email: Information can also be provided to British foreign office to Nicola Powel, phone +44 20 7008 0195, email, and in Costa Rica, the person in charge is Luis Guillermo Fonseca, phone: +506 2666-1103, email:

The updated information about this case may be reached at

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