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(506) 223-1327            Published Monday, Jan. 22, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 15             E-mail us    
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Court auctions are slick way to buy property here
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

There still are opportunities in real estate and real bargains for those people with patience and tenacity.

One possibility is the judicial auction.

The Boletín Judicial publishes information on properties going to auction in almost every edition.  Buying real estate at auction is easy. One just needs to know the rules and have persistence.  It is common to go to 10 or more auctions to find a deal.

Any creditor can exercise rights under the law and go to public auction when a borrower fails to pay.

A lawyer for the creditor files a collection lawsuit against a debtor in default. If the paperwork is prepared correctly, a date for a public auction is set. Collections are executive type cases and are expedited by the courts. 

Anyone can bid at an auction. This includes foreigners as well as locals and companies.   In many cases, few bidders participate in auctions because most people do not know where to find the details regarding them and that they have the right to bid. 

Bidders must deposit 30 percent of the base in cash, cashier’s or certified check to bid.  In the case of an Instituto Nacional de Vivienda y Urbanismo, Banco Hipotecario de la Vivienda,  or savings institution auction, 40 percent is required.

The base price of an auction is the amount due the creditor.  Creditors can increase this amount to cover the legal costs and expenses of the collection.  The winning bidder has three business days to deposit the balance of the winning bid.  Losing bidders have their deposits returned on the spot.

Auctions can fail after the bidding. For example, a winning bidder may not show up to pay off the balance. If that happens, another auction is scheduled with the base reduced by 25 per cent.   The base is successively reduced until there is a successful auction.

When a winning bidder decides not to follow through, the deposit that has been made is taken by the courts. Some 10 percent goes to the creditor as damages, and the remainder goes to decrease the amount owed. This means that a subsequent auction will take place at a lower price.


In any auction, a creditor always has the right to take the asset at auction in payment of the debt.  Most credit institutions do not do this and count on the bidding process to get the most for the asset so they can get it off their books.  Creditors that are banks or credit lending institutions are not in the business of speculating on assets, they are in the business of lending money.

There is another advantage to an auction. The winner at auction gets a property with a clean slate. All other liens and mortgages extinguished. Then the winner's ownership is made clear by a judicial decree that is filed in the Registro Nacional.

Court auctions happen every single business day in every part of Costa Rica.   Public court auctions hold great buys on real estate for those with determination.  

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. 22, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 15

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Canadian developer dies
in fall from company sign


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Canadian property and home developer who had only been here four-and-a-half months fell to his death Sunday while trying to fix a light on a sign outside of his office.

The man, Tony Agius, 48, died in just minutes after falling

Tony Agius
approximately 4 to 5 meters (12 to 17 feet) from a ladder and hitting his head on the ground, said friend and business partner Carlos Luis Flores.  Flores was unsure as to how Agius fell and speculated as to whether or not electricity from the lights in the sign was involved.  He said that Agius was trying to fix the light himself because at the time, they were unable to get an electrician to the area.  The office is located in Pueblo de
 Sierpe, Puntarenas, just north of the Osa Peninsula.

Agius had started the Térraba Land Co. in Costa Rica after spending the last 20 years residing mainly in the United States.  He also had 30 years of international building and developing experience in Europe, the Middle East, and all over the American continent, said his associate.

His partner identified him as an extremely hard worker and an honest man with a big heart who was always trying to help people out in anyway possible.  Flores also said that in the short time Agius was here he was able to learn a great deal from him, not just about construction but about everything.  Flores added that he was unsure of Agius' exact family background but that there were definitely children that he spoke of frequently.  

Internet broadcaster says
Nicoya residents live longer


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A modern day Ponce de León will be broadcasting on the Internet from the Nicoya Peninsula Jan. 29 because he has concluded that is one of the areas of the world where people live longer.

The modern day seeker of the fountain of youth is Dan Buettner, who is involved with National Institute on Aging and National Geographic Society.

Buettner, a camera crew, and a group of experts are to be directed by schoolchildren voters on an online quest to unlock the secrets to living a long and healthy life. Buettner has said that many persons have lived to be 100 or more years on the Nicoya Peninsula, although that might be news to people living there.

The Nicoya Peninsula haas been a remote area of Costa Rica until recent years, and accurate birth and death data is limited. Buettner's idea could not be confirmed locally.

Buettner is scheduled to arrive to the Nicoya Peninsula a week from now as part of what he calls his Blue Zones Project. This is a quest to track down and research areas of the world with the longest living inhabitatants.  Along with a group of scientists, he has been travelling the world to areas of long life expectancies and tracking their daily habits and diet.  His agency's Web site, and his agents, the Bright Sight Group, said that “Dan Buettner has unlocked the secrets of longevity.”

The project has a twist in that via the Blue Zones Web site, school kids can vote to tell the team where to go, how to conduct scientific exploration, how to resolve ethical and logistical decisions, and finally, how to unlock the secret to a long life.  The way the project works is that a video will be broadcast with daily updates and dilemas for the team to resolve.   Youngsters will then send in their ballot as to what the team should do, and once the votes are tallied, the team moves one. 
 
Buettner's Web site said that the Blue Zones project allows people to live longer, better lives by exploring the four regions of the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives. Each year, those involved journey to a new region to unlock the secrets of longevity and identify common factors in lifestyles, diet, outlook and stress-coping mechanisms of the world's oldest and healthiest people, said the Web site.

Another part of the project is the Blue Zones Vitality Compass that will give a user a baseline read on longevity and help the user identify and explore practices to live better and longer, said the Web site. 

Buettner's book, "Living In the Blue Zone: 8 Habits of the World's Longest-Lived People," will be released next  January, according to the Bright Sight Group's Web site.  

Blue Zones is an ongoing project that is part of Quest Network, Inc., which is co-funded by the National Institute on Aging and National Geographic.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 22, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 15






U.S. takes another bite out of the offshore gambling business
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Sportsbooks and other gambling operations in Costa Rica have been dropped abruptly from the 21st century and are now using the old fashioned checkbook to pay U.S. winners.

The reason is that Neteller Plc, the money transferring business based on the Isle of Man, has suspended its dealings with U.S. citizens because two of its former executives were detained in the United States.

Neteller transferred more than $7 billion in 2005 and some 95 percent of the money was from Internet gambling sources, said the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

The men who were arrested are Stephen Eric Lawrence, 46, and John David LeFebvre, 55. Lawrence was detained in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and LeFebvre was detained in Malibu, California. Both men are Canadians.

Both men are charged with conspiring to transfer funds with the intent to promote illegal gambling, said a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.

The arrests are part of a continuing effort to keep U.S. citizens from gambling offshore. Operators of gambling firms have been arrested, too. BetonSports.com shut down after chief executive officer David Carruthers was arrested while changing planes in Texas. A number of other company representatives were held in the United States after indictments were opened July 17.
The action against Neteller is a blow to local companies. U.S. credit card companies and banks soon will be working under new legislation that prohibits them from making financial transfers offshore for gambling activities.

The State of New York has obtained agreements from major credit card firms based there to avoid the gambling market.

For gambling firms in Costa Rica, the action at least crimps their activities. The U.S. football Superbowl is Feb. 4, and basketball season is well under way.

Neteller posted to its Web site that it was suspending dealings with U.S. residents early Thursday. Trading in its stock on the London exchange was suspended temporarily last week, too.

U.S. officials are using the company's own words to build a case. Said the U.S. news release: "At the time that the defendants took Neteller public, the company acknowledged in its offering documents that United States law prohibited persons from promoting certain forms of gambling, including Internet gambling, and transmitting funds that are known to have been derived from criminal activity or are intended to promote criminal activity. The company’s directors, including Lawrence and LeFebvre, also conceded that they were risking prosecution by the government of the United States under existing or future federal laws."

The United States has passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act but it has yet to be implemented. The arrests last week were based on pre-existing criminal law.


The use of animal terms to describe a state of mind
Perro bravo
 
“Fierce (ill-humored) dog.” I must admit that this is not really a dicho, but on some level it might be.
 
Let’s start with its most common usage, a warning sign one might find at the entrance to a house or other piece of real property. The intent, of course, is to ward off potential intruders. In English the sign would read, “Beware Of The Dog!” Some people put up such signs as a deterrent to burglars even though the property owner may not actually have a dog. Still, a thief probably would think twice as to whether or not he wants to risk being torn apart by some furious doberman or rottweiler.
 
We refer to a person with a quick temper as being enojado como un perro bravo, or “furious as a mad dog.” Rabia is the Spanish word for “hydrophobia” or “rabies,” a virus that causes dogs to go mad (in the sense of being crazed), convulsive, and eventually results in the wretched animal’s death. But in Spanish we may also use a locution such as: me dio tanta rabia que Lucia sabe más que yo, or “it infuriates me that Lucia knows more than I do.”
 
It seems clear that what’s going on here is the attachment of dog-like ­ or at least animal ­ behavioral characteristics to humans. For, even though humans can be infected with hydrophobia, they most commonly must be bitten by a “mad dog” in order to acquire the disease.
 
Apart from mad dogs and Englishmen and their relationship to the mid-day sun, there is, of course, another quite common linguistic way in which humans become connected with dogs, of the female gender that is, ­ but then perhaps we should save that little beau mot for another time.
 
It strikes me as rather odd that the canine attributes most often ascribed to humans seem only to be bad ones. After all, aren’t dogs supposed to be man’s best friends?
 
My niece has two enormous rottweilers. They are formidable to be sure, but with friends and family members they are as docile, friendly and playful as can be. Let a stranger approach acting in a threatening manner toward us, and these two dogs immediately become fearlessly protective and quite aggressive with the menacing intruder. I think most people would agree that all these are quite admirable characteristics that are often found wanting in many humans.

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto


My niece and her husband also have three parrots that
have learned to imitate the barking of the dogs. Once a young man was fleeing the police and made the mistake of jumping over their back garden wall to avoid capture. But the terrific commotion raised by the two dogs and three parrots so terrified the hapless fugitive that he clambered back over the wall where the officers were waiting to apprehend him.
 
Costa Ricans seem to put more faith in watchdogs and
signs warning potential intruders about them than they do in such things as insurance policies. For this reason it has taken homeowners insurance a long time to catch on here.
This is of course also due to the fact that most Ticos prefer to take their chances rather than shell out the extra money to insure their homes against such things as fire and theft.
 
But it’s a funny thing about the signs on people’s front gates that read ¡Perro Bravo! They're sort of like all those shrieking, wailing car alarms: They’ve become so ubiquitous that hardly anyone pays any attention to them anymore.

So, if you’re going to put up one of those signs perhaps you¹d better invest in an actual perro guardián to go with it. And when the house catches fire, well, I really don’t think the guard dog or the sign is going to do you awfully much good.
 
Now, a word about the word bravo: It has multiple meanings, not all of them seemingly congruous. English equivalents for bravo are: angry, brave, fierce, fine, ill-humored, spruce, wild, and fabulous! (should you happen to be at the opera).


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Jan. 22, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 15



Two youngsters go through the motions of capoeira while other members of their group provide the one-string musical accompaniment.

A.M. Costa Rica/Noel Dekking

Park is a great place to practice the Brazilian martial arts
By Noel Dekking
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Capoeira, an ancient martial art tradition, has made it's way from enslaved Angolans and Nigerian ethnic groups in Brazil to cities around the world, including a small park in San José.

The Grupo Capoeira Angola Raiz can be spotted in Parque España, east of Parque Morazán, practicing the martial art every Saturday at noon.  The display is more of a dance-like performance that goes along with the rhythm of their specialized instruments and chants. 

It is believed the capoeira was originally developed as a way to resist oppression and to secretly practice art, spirituality, and transmit culture within enslaved groups in Brazil. 

Capoeira does not focus on injuring an opponent but more
so on the skill of the moves and dance.  Slow attack moves are performed which can display a competitor's talent and also showcase the opponents evasive skills.

The San José capoeira artists were using a collection of cartwheels, handstands, headspins, jumps, kicks and other acrobatic moves in a particularly non-violent display of the art form.  The performers rarely ever came into contact with one another other than handshakes formalities at the beginning and end of the competition.  Non-competing group members were providing the rhythm by chanting along to songs played on their berimbaus, a single-string musical bow from Brazil.

Fabio Mendez, one of Saturday's participants, said that he has been practicing the art form all over South and Central American countries on his way to California from Brazil. 
The rest of the group members have been together for about five years. 


Immigration opens passport office in Liberia for Guanacaste residents
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As part a country-wide regionalization plan, Costa Ricans in Guanacaste can now get their passports through the regional headquarters of Liberia, announced the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería. 

The plan is meant to decongest the central offices of immigration and to promote using more digital technology in government offices, one of the current administrations priorities, said a release. Until recently, all Costa Ricans seeking passports had to do so in San José. The Liberia facility was inaugurated Friday.

In the beginning, the site will only have the capacity to deal with approximately 30 persons a day, every Monday and
Tuesday.  Applicants are expected to personally make appointments at the office, which is located on the Interamericana highway, 300 meters south of the Burger King.  Also expected is a $56 bill payment in the Banco de Costa Rica, a photocopy of the person's cédula and a photocopy of the old passport, if possible.

The passport should arrive eight days later in the immigration headquarters, located in La Uruca, San José where it can be picked up.  Request for shipment to a mail drop through Correos de Costa Rica is possible for an additional fee.

The immigration agency said that this program has already been initiated in Puntarenas and is scheduled to be put into place in Pérez Zeledón, Limón and San Carlos.


Chávez surly over U.S. criticism of his plan to rule Venezuela by decree
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez has defended his plan to pass legislation by decree, calling U.S. reservations about his actions unacceptable meddling in Venezuela's affairs.

Chávez cursed at U.S. officials in a Sunday broadcast saying Venezuela is exercising the legal authority of a free nation.

Friday, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said
Chavez's plan to rule by decree is an odd proposal in a democratic system.

Venezuela's legislature is expected this week to give Chávez the power to rule by decree for 18 months.

During his inauguration address earlier this month, Chávez said he will seek to amend the constitution to allow unlimited consecutive presidential terms. Opposition lawmakers accuse the president of moving Venezuela toward a totalitarian form of government.



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