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(506) 223-1327            Published Monday, Jan. 8, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 5             E-mail us    
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Technique opens up other sources for cash
You can loan money there and secure property here

By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Can a person or an institution lend money anywhere in the world in any currency and tie up assets here? The answer is yes, and to do so is not hard but a little technical.

Many foreigners would like to buy property in Costa Rica but do not have any credit in this country. Or they would prefer to work with their lender back home.

As the world shrinks, some lenders are looking for ways to lend money to real estate buyers in Costa Rica. But they do not know how to register a security interest here.

Some private party lenders want to get involved in ventures in Costa Rica. Many that have done so in the past but did not tie up their investment with a guarantee lost the investment to the unscrupulous.

The facts are clear. It is easy to register a loan against real estate or personal property in Costa Rica if it is done by means of a public instrument recognized by Costa Rica. This simply means a document written in a notary book of a country using them or a Costa Rican consulate’s notary book in countries that do not have notaries with protocol books.

If the money is lent in a country where attorneys can be notaries and they have notary books, called protocol books, as they do in Costa Rica, the process is simple.

The security interest is recorded in the foreign notary's official book. The notary then creates an affidavit, gets his or her signature authenticated by the Costa Rican consulate of the country where the loan takes place and then gets the consul's signature authenticated here by the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto here in Costa Rica.

Then the document is filed with the Registro Nacional just as if it were created in Costa Rica.
 
The key is the notary book because any document written in one makes it public. Article 28 of the Civil Code requires all security interests be public in nature to be valid in Costa Rica.

In Roman law, a notary was originally a slave or a freedman who took notes for public record.  This position evolved into that of one of an attorney and notary. Unlike the United States and other countries where Anglo law is followed, documents prepared or authenticated by a notary guarantee the identity of parties to any transaction.


A security interest is defined as an interest that a lender takes in a borrower's property to assure repayment of a debt.  There are three kinds of security interests in Costa Rica: A mortgage called a hipoteca, a pledge or chattel mortgage called a prenda, and a mortgage bond called a cédula hipotecaria.

A hipoteca in Costa Rica grants only an interest in real estate property.  A prenda cannot be made against real estate property but it can be used to secure anything else of value.  A cédula hipotecaria is like a mortgage but can be used as a negotiable instrument.

For countries, like the United States and others that use civil or Anglo law, security interests can be registered in Costa Rica if taken to a Costa Rican consulate and the consul puts the transaction in his or her own notary book.

As for the currency, Article 48 of the Organizational Law of the Central Bank of Costa Rica states a loan agreement can be created in any currency of the world.  Article 49 of the same law states any money lent needs to be paid back in the same currency.

Garland M. Baker is a 35-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at info@crexpertise.com.  Lic. Allan Garro provides the legal review.  Reach him at crlaw@licgarro.com.  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at http://crexpertise.info.  Copyright 2004-2006, use without permission prohibited.



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 5  

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Another textle firm closing
brings call for treaty OK


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
 
The closing of two factories belonging to the VF Corp. have caused the unemployment of approximately 750 Costa Ricans since last month.

Most recently, 400 workers were let go after the corporation's WR Alajuela, S. A. clothing factory in La Uruca terminated its operation.  In December, 350 people were let go after another of the company's factories closed down.

Marco Vinicio Ruiz, the minister of Comercio Exterior, called the decision regrettable.  He also said that the factory closings should be taken as a warning signal of the need to ratify the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and urged legislators to quicken the process.

Ruiz also expressed a concern that the closing of the factories will hurt other businesses by decreasing the demand for certain commodities and services.  The factory involved in the latest closing was involved in the production of Wrangler jeans.

The trade ministry reported that there has been an approximate decrease by 9 percent in the export of textiles, from $528 million in 2005 to an estimated $480 million in 2006.  In a report from the Comercio Exterior, a representative of the government said that this is due to the market influence from Central American countries that have already approved the free trade agreement.

The trade minister said that the ratification of the treaty would increase foreign investment.  Currently, the United States is the main investor in Costa Rica, accounting for almost 70 percent of the country's direct foreign investment, said a report.

Tuesday film series features
works far out of mainstream


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A free film series dedicated to classic and contemporary movies will be airing at the Centro Nacional de Arte y Cultura every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. throughout January and February.

The film series, entitled Verano Lúdico Bizarro, is featuring works that were chosen to showcase either classical directors or modern movies that explore the use of contrasting emotions, said a summary.

Espacios Audioviduales, one of the Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo programs, was responsible for organizing the events.

The schedule is as follows:

Jan. 9
"Un Chien Andalou," a French film released in 1929, directed by Luis Buñuel.

"L'Âge d'Or," a French film released in 1930, directed by Buñuel and written by him and Salvador Dalí.

Jan. 16
"Clockwork Orange," a U.S. film released in 1971, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

Jan. 23
"From Dusk Till Dawn," a U.S. film released in 1996, directed by Robert Rodriguez.

Jan. 30
"Airbag," a Spanish film released in 1996, directed by Juanma Bajo Ulloa.

Feb. 6
"Pulp Fiction," a U.S. film released in 1994, directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Feb. 13
"South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut," a U.S. film released in 1999, directed by Trey Parker.

Feb. 20
"Acción mutante," a Spanish film released in 1993, directed by Alex de la Iglesia.

Feb. 27
"Wild at Heart," a U.S. film released in 1990, directed by David Lynch.

All films begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Centro Nacional de Arte y Cultura, which is located south of Avenida 7 and east of Calle 11.

Customs agencies face
tax fraud investigations


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's tax police are investigating certain customs agencies because several cases have been found where the contents of packages being imported into the country were stated incorrectly.

In one case, a custom's declaration said one shipment was of telecommunication equipment with a value of $400. The customs agent paid 49,000 colons ($95) in import duties. But the Policía de Control Fiscal said it later determined that the shipment was of high quality cellular telephones and other electronic equipment valued at $30,000. The agent should have paid 3.2 million colons (about $6,178), the tax police said.

The cases involve shipments that passed through the Aduana Juan Santamaría at the airport of the same name.

In a similar case, a shipment was listed as rolls of plastic for agricultural use but instead were cellular telephones, the police said. The Policía de Control Fiscal said that the declarations were the responsibility of the customs agents who swore to the declarations and that the firms importing the goods were not party to the tax frauds.

The Dirección General de Aduanas has asked the Ministerio Público, the prosecutorial agency, to open cases against the customs agencies, it said.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 5       






An antique measurement term reborn as a catch-all dicho
¿Que es la vara?
 
Vara is an old-fashioned unit of measure that one still hears mentioned from time to time in Costa Rica. Someone may tell you, for example, that a city block is 100 varas square. Its length was more or less the same as one of today's meters, or somewhere between a meter and a yard.

Back when Spain was building her colonial empire, of which Costa Rica was once a tiny part, Spanish engineers knew nothing of the modern metric system and were laying out colonial pueblos, or towns, with what were called varas.
 
So in Old Costa Rica, for example, one might say that a certain place is located perhaps 425 varas al norte de la iglesia, "425 yards north of the church." One of my favorite Costa Rican addresses from my youth was that of the house of Don Manuel, which was: del higueron 450 metros al sur la casa blanca con ventanas redondas or "450 meters south from the fig tree a white house with round windows." The only problem was that the higueron tree had been cut down more than 100 years before, but apparently everyone in the neighborhood knew where it stood and measured the distance to Don Manuel's house from that point.
 
Now, regarding our quaint system of addresses, back in the San José of my youth someone might have told me that they lived in el Paso de la Vaca, though today most young Josefinos (someone from San José) would be hard pressed to tell you exactly where that may be.
 
Well, it was in the part of the city that today we call Barrio México, which many years ago was the northern edge of town where one entered the city when coming from the direction of La Uruca, Heredia, or Alajuela. Buses from Puntarenas and Guanacaste arrived, and still arrive, through this sector. It was an important commercial district where most of the city's old markets still are located.
 
In this barrio there used to be a famous old farmacia called the Botica Francesa. One Christmas a local merchant whose shop was to one side of the Botica Francesa decided to decorate his business, and, of course, 

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto


attract customers, by erecting a large paso, or Nativity scene. But he could not find life-size donkeys or lambs. Finally he opted for a real live vaca (and yes, vaca means "cow"). So, folks started referring to this crèche as el Paso de la vaca. The businessman continued the practice of erecting his elaborate paso for several years, and before long the entire neighborhood came to be known as el Paso de la Vaca.

But, I digress. Getting back to today's dicho: Now, besides being an antique unit of measure, the word vara has come to stand for just about anything.

When a Costa Rican does not know the name of something he may ask his friend: ¿Que es esa vara? "What is that thing?" When we question what someone is saying we may say: ¿Que varas está diciendo? "What nonsense is he saying?" And when we think someone is talking too much, we could say: Ay, ella habla muchas varas. "Oh, she talks so much hogwash." Or when we do not understand what a person is talking about we say: No entiendo esa vara. "I don't understand such gibberish."
 
So you see, the word vara has definitely found a place for itself in the world of purest Costa Rican slang.
 
Oh, and by the way, just for the record vara does have a modern standard Spanish definition. It simply means a measuring rod, such as a yard or meter stick. ¡Buena suerte!


Bold thief takes a gold-plated religious vessel from Cartago basilica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

At the Basílica de los Ángeles in Cartago church officials constructed what amounts to a giant safe to hold the image of the nation's patroness, the Virgen de los Angeles.

But the rest of the church items there are vulnerable to thieves, basilica officials found out Saturday morning. A man walked off with a religious vessel that is used to display the communion host during certain ceremonies.

The vessel is called a monstrance in English. They may be purchased new on the Internet from $1,000 to $11,400, depending on how ornate the item is. They appear to be gold but their are gold plated, as was the one at the basilica.
Church officials said the item was worth about $1,000.

A man simply entered the basilica and walked out with the monstrance under his coat, said two women who said they were witnesses. They gave the alarm, although investigators are anxious to interview them.

The basilica is the center of the nation's religious life, and it contains many valuable items, mostly gifts to the Virgen de los Ángeles.

A year ago church officials installed a steel strongbox that can be closed during the night after threats were made to take the image of the Virgin, which is a small stone carving that resembles a mother and child.


New development will bring a supermarket to Playas del Coco, realty firm says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Playas del Coco will be getting a major supermarket as part of the Pacifico project there.

The Jack Parker Corp. said a 20,000 square foot Auto Mercado will be part of a commercial development that also will contain other small businesses to service the  175-acre project.

The New York-based company says it has 56 residences under construction and scheduled for completion starting in March. The company set Saturday as the official start of its sales effort.

Playas del Coco also is the home of the sprawling Mapache condo development that transformed the fishing village into a major real estate marketplace.
The Jack Parker Corporation said in a news release that it is looking to Costa Rica because the U.S. real estate market is slowing, there are runaway home prices there and land is disappearing.

The 500 residences within Pacifico include 350 condominiums, townhomes, and villas, 20 rental apartments and 150 single-family home sites. Floor plans are available with one, two, three or four bedrooms, and prices start from $150,000. Home sites, most with Pacific Ocean views, range from the $90,000 to $400,000.

Playas del Coco has been a construction hotspot since flight operations have increased at the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia. The Jack Parker Corp said its development is just  22 miles from the airport. Lately some slowing in real estate sales in the Playas del Coco area has been reported as a result of the declining U.S. market.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 5






Readers reply to concerns over expats and crime problem
Gotcha’ mentality linked
to anti-foreigner feeling


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
  
Donna Norton is, unfortunately, not paranoid. The type of problems she cited Friday are real, but only the tip of the iceberg.
  
A far more common theft is the kind that takes place every day, in multiple forms, where foreigners are ripped off in what one long-term resident calls “the national sport” of fleecing the visitor or foreign resident.
  
It takes many forms and has many players including property thieves, dishonest or incompetent attorneys, price-gouging, municipalities, and multiple other creative ways. Behind it all, of course, is the disparity of wealth. We’re all familiar with that, and it isn’t unique to Costa Rica. But also behind it is a little-known “gotcha” kind of mentality towards the foreigner. There is a latent anti-foreigner feeling among many in Costa Rica and the “make you pay” mentality is often at work in a hundred and one common interchanges that take place daily..
  
But aren’t the Ticos friendly and often courteous and nice? Absolutely, and you’ll experience both. The two characteristics are not mutually exclusive. You’ll almost always get a smile along with the hand in your pocket. To cut to the chase, you have to have your eyes open and look out for yourself. As Donna said, there’s no one else to do it for you.
  
So if I don’t like it, why do I live part time here? Because if you do take a reallistic eyes-wide-open, watch-the-wallet approach, you can have the good without the bad. And isn’t that what life’s all about?
  
Carl Robbins
Atlanta/Alajuela

Firearms for tourists
urged for protection


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

First I would like to thank Jay Brodell and his staff for providing A.M. Costa Rica as an avenue for expats and tourist to give their opinion. Second, I take time to write this letter because I have a home in Costa Rica and care about the future of the country and the people. Third, I would like to comment on Donna Norton’s letter concerning theft in Costa Rica.

I would like to say three things in response to her letter:
 
1.)    No! You are not paranoid, and you should stay fully aware of your surroundings in Costa Rica at all times.

2.)    If I had to place a bet, I would bet that your ripped off friends, (or their friends once they share their vacation experience with them) will never step foot in Costa Rica for vacation.

3.)    The laws in Costa Rica to protect expats and tourists are [deleted].

There is a bad element in Costa Rica. From what Tico friends tell me, there is a large influx of illegal imigration “mixed with ticos gone bad also.” Without naming countries, these people come from a war-torn background filled with violence and desperation. They specialize in car jackings, violent bank robberies, muggings, and professional con games like the “help you change you tire scam” that your friends became victim of.

Many of them are illegally armed, and they are desperados. The American and European tourists are nothing more than walking billfolds for these desperados, and the Costa Rican government fails to protect it’s tourists, and fails to allow tourists to protect themselves with firearms against these armed thugs. Most crimes happen in a matter of seconds. By the time the Fuerza Pública gets to the crime (if they come), is only to fill out a report. They don’t have the money or resources to investigate crimes properly.

So what’s the solution when your dealing with a criminal element that doesn’t comply with liberal laws.

1.)    you need to prevent as many crimes as possible by removing as much of the criminal element as possible (i.e. Illegals), from Costa Rica.

2.)    You need to allow tourists and the law abiding public the right to be armed and protect themselves if they have firearms experience or have completed firearms handling training classes.

3.)    Set up sting operations. Bait these criminals with people that look of European descent but are actually police,  using rental vehicles, or walking on foot. When the criminals attemp to con or rob, give the police shoot-to-kill orders if they are armed, and arrest what is left.

As this information hits the news, it will make violent robbery less attractive to thieves. You can only fight forceful violent crime with a stronger force. It’s the only language these criminals understand. I believe with tourism being Costa Rica’s No. 1 revenue generator, they can find the financial resourses to protect their economic future.

I give lots of credit, and many thanks to the Marine and his sister who kicked the asses of the two armed theives in San Jose last month, and the 75-year-old expat who put two bullets in the chest of the thief who entered his house last month. These people are heroes. It’s due to their efforts that I believe Costa Rica will be a safer place in the future.

Kris Winters
New Jersey


Police reports are vital

Dear Readers:

We appreciate your concern and your responses to the serious problems facing Costa Rica. No greater problem exists than citizen security.

But we are alarmed that so many expats are crime victims — but they refuse to make a report. A police report, however burdensome, is the only way officials know what is going on.

There is great economic pressure in Costa Rica to sweep crimes against tourists under the rug. This is easy to do when victims decline to come forward. We know that probably nothing will be done. But at least there will be hard evidence of a crime instead of the word-of-mouth we have now.

Jay Brodell
editor, A.M. Costa Rica



Dan Steinberg photo of fleeing thief

There are caring people
who make it worthwhile


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In response to Ms. Norton's account of the German couple losing their backpack and Ms. Norton's emotional turmoil related to her experience of being robbed in the city, I would like to say that her broad generalization that it is likely that no local person will help is not necessarily true.

My wife and I traveled to Costa Rica in January 2006 for our honeymoon.  On our first full day there we drove to the coast from San José and, upon reaching the ocean stopped for a few pictures.  I had done quite a bit of research and when a car with four young Costa Rican men stopped at the lookout, I got my wife into the car and we moved on.  Before we pulled out, however, one of the boys managed to ice pick our rear tire.  I had not noticed the act, so when the tire went flat in about 5 kms., I pulled over in front of a small house that had a wide grass area.

The owner of the home, a middle aged woman, barely gave us a look, and I got to work changing the tire.  while my wife stood nearby.  Shortly after I started changing the tire, a young man approached and offered to help.  I declined and told my wife to keep an eye on him while I worked the jack.  He then motioned for her to help me and she bent down, all the while keeping an eye on him.  Of course, we did not see the other two reach in, grab our camera bag (including two cameras and an I-pod) and start off down the road.

Suddenly the local woman who owned the home we were stopped in front of, began screaming.  Neither my wife nor I speak excellent Spanish, but I realized something was wrong and the young man who was trying to help us started trying to calm her down by saying nothing was wrong.  She refused to listen and pointed to the road where I saw the two men jogging away.  Fortunately they were not very fast, and I caught up to them and (after I screamed several profanities at them) they gently put down the bag and ran into the jungle followed shortly by the "nice" man who tried to help with the tire.  I managed to get my camera out of the bag and get a couple of picutes of the youths running away. (Above)

The woman's son went into the jungle after the men with a machete, but quickly came back.  The woman insisted on calling the police even though we had retrived everything and despite my best efforts refused to accept any type of reward.

We looked up a few words in our travel book and (hopefully) conveyed to her what an angel she was and how much we appreciated her help.

That was the only trouble we had in three weeks in Costa Rica (aside from some scorpions in the bathroom).  I realize my experience is not the typical one but please remember there are honest, caring individuals, and they are the ones that make Costa Rica the beautiful country it is.

Dan Steinberg
Portland, Oregon


Some advice to travelers
on keeping goods safe


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

There's probably no good defense if you are traveling around the country, but good advice might be to diversify. Don't keep all of your cash and credit cards in one easy-to-snatch location.  Keep really important things, like your passport, on your person at all times — inside your pants, if need
be, or inside your shirt.  And keep duplicates of traveler's check receipts and things like that in a couple of places. And I don't mean in two backpacks sitting side-by-side.

I've had my pocket picked in San José and a bag stolen off of a local bus while on my way to La Fortuna. But both times I was just a wee bit too careless.

There's a difference between paranoia and caution, to be sure, but like they remind you, it isn't paranoia when there really is somebody out to get you.

Gregg Calkins
La Fortuna


Attitudes have changed
for better in officialdom


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I recently suffered a burglary that led me to visit under stressful conditions a bank, a travel agency, ICE and OIJ.  On each occasion I was impressed by the level of competent aid I received.  As one whose experience in San José dates to 1989, I had expected to bang my head against a corporate wall.  Instead, I found calm, courteous people who seemed to empathize with my circumstances.

If attitudes have changed over the years, I wonder if improved training programs are at work.  Compared to a decade ago, junior executives have more confidence in their abilities. Certainly, they seem more willing to take the initiative in helping out a foreigner.

It is too bad I was burgled, but. Ironically. The experience has taught me that Costa Rica has improved a lot in 17 years. At middle-management levels where most of the work is done, people are no longer too overwhelmed or too insecure to take action. As a result, bureaucratic transactions flow more smoothly than in days past. For those of us accustomed to Gringo efficiency, I believe life in Costa Rica is entering a golden age.

James Saxon
Pavas


Organization of American States warns Chávez not to pull television license
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Organization of American States has warned that Venezuela's plans to close a privately owned television station may undermine press freedom in that South American nation.

Jose Miguel Insulza, the organization's secretary general Friday called on Venezuela's government to reconsider the move against Radio Caracas Television.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez accuses the station of supporting a failed military coup against him in 2002. He
has warned that he will not renew RCTV's license when it expires in March.

Insulza said any alleged violations by the station should be addressed through the Venezuelan courts.

Marcel Granier, Radio Caracas Television president, said that his firm has yet to see a formal explanation of the government's decision to end its license. He says the broadcasting license is valid until 2022. Granier also accused Chávez of human rights violations for persecuting journalists at the station and other independent reporters in the country.



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 5


Jaco's Naranjo wins two events in weekend surfing meet
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Diego Naranjo was the hometown hero this weekend at the Copa Mango surf competition in Jacó.

The 26-year-old Jacó native took first place in both the longboard and men's open catagories, moving him into the top spot on the Circuito Nacional de Surf leadership race.  Naranjo said that he had to be on his best game this weekend because he faced tough competition from the up-and-coming Luis Vindas, Jairo Pérez and the much experienced Rónald Reyes.

Naranjo is a profesional surfer and with the help from his sponsors plans to compete at tournaments in Argentina, Chile and Peru this year.  Some of these tournaments are part of the World Qualifying Series, which is a preliminary league that one must finish within the top 16 in the world to be allowed into the World Champions Tour. 

Some of the bigger events in the World Qualifying Series have a $100,000 first place prize, drawing some of the highest-rated surfers to locations around the world.

The Federación de Surf de Costa Rica reported another strong showing with 119 competitors last weekend.  As per usual, the competition was accompanied with various parties and events, such as a fashion display that showcased clothing from Walking On Water, one of the local surf shops.

The next major Circuito Nacional de Surf event is set for the weekend beginning Feb. 4, at Playa Hermosa de Puntarenas.  More information is available on a Web site at www.surfingcr.net

Shifi Surf Shots
Diego Naranjo displays the form that won him first in both the open and longboard competitions in Jacó.


U.S. tennis star comes up short in Copa de Cafe singles final
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Julia Cohen of the United States fell just short of the Copa Del Café tennis championship when she lost to Russian opponent Anastasia Pivovarova, but the two joined efforts to take top spot in the girls' doubles final.

In the under-18 girls singles match, Miss Cohen took the first set 3-6 but was unable to hold onto the lead as Miss Pivovarova took control of the later part of the match, winning the final two sets 6-1 and 6-2.  The two finalists  put any differences aside,because they were also the first-seeded team in the under-18 girls doubles category. They played the championship match later Saturday.

Miss Cohen and Miss Pivovarova faced fourth-seeded Elena Chernyakova and Valeria Soliovieva and went on to defeat the Russian duo 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
In the under-18 boys singles event, first-seeded Fernando Romboli of Brazil tore through the tournament winning the championship without loosing a single set. 

Thomas Schoorel of The Netherlands nearly broke Romboli's perfect streak in the final match, forcing the second set to a tie-breaker.  Romboli was able to overcome the challenge and went on to win the match in straight sets, 6-2 and 7-5.

Jarmere Jenkins and Bradley Klahn, the seventh-seeded U.S. team, were crowned tournament champions of the under-18 boys doubles.

The matchs were played in front of a full stadium Saturday, and tickets to the 43rd Copa Del Café championship sold out an hour and a half after box offices opened at the Costa Rica Country Club.


Costa Rican woman runner takes marathon title in Florida
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and special reports

A Costa Rican runner won the Walt Disney World Marathon Sunday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

She is Gabriela Trana of Costa Rica, who ran her first marathon. She pulled away down the stretch to win the women's title. She crossed the finish line at 2:57:03, just ahead of Christa Benton of St. Petersburg, Fla. (2:57:25) and Elizabete Cruz of Sao Paulo, Brazil (2:59:38).

Brazilian Adriano Bastos ran away with his fourth Walt Disney World Marathon men's title, becoming the first runner ever in the event's 14-year history to win four races and sweep three in a row. Bastos, 28, of Sao Paulo posted a time of 2:19:24, nearly 13 minutes faster than his closest competitor.

Like last year, Bastos was unchallenged over the 26.2-mile
course through all four Disney theme parks, grabbing the
lead at the start and never relinquishing it. Matthew Dobson, the West Florida University head track coach in Pensacola, Fla., was a distant second (2:32:22), followed by Roy Vargas of Costa Rica (2:33:42).

Miss Trana, 26, provided the most dramatic finish of the day, bolting from fourth place in the final four miles to challenge for the lead. With less than a mile to go, she overtook Miss Benton to claim the title.

"I ran really hard at the end," said Miss Trana, who said her victory has inspired her to go after a spot on the Costa Rican team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. "It was so good to win because it was my first marathon and because it was so much fun running through the different Disney parks and seeing everything like Cinderella's castle."

A record 32,000 runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes registered for the 2007 Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon. Both events are among the 10 largest fields at their distance in the United States.


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