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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Vol. 15, No. 19                               Email us
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Employer chamber cites lack of confidence in Solís
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The private employers chamber says that its members are losing confidence in the government, and this is one reason there are 228,000 persons jobless in the country.

The chamber, the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, said it was alarmed by the increase in unemployment and the closing of companies.

The chamber in a statement noted that dozens of Costa Ricans have lost their means of income with the closing of Wendy's and Baglemen's and the decision by Avianca and Volcano to reduce job slots.

The chamber also cited firings by other employers, including Intel, the Bank of America, Ichiban, Hotel La Condesa, Hotel Europa, Cartex and Banco Cathay.

Elevated electrical rates that have increased twice the rate of inflation in 2014 and

deficient infrastructure are factors that cause unemployment, said the chamber.

There is a lack of confidence in the government because of the continuing fiscal deficit, the approval of a 2015 national budget without any cuts and legal insecurity generated by President Luis Guillermo Solis' lifting of a veto on a labor reform bill that had been imposed by a past president. A slowing economy also has employers worried, the chamber said.

Reversing the unemployment trend is difficult but possible, the chamber said. It suggested stimulating confidence with less bureaucracy, legal security and the efforts of the government. It called for a declaration of emergency by the government over unemployment.

The action by Solís to lift the veto imposed by then-president Laura Chinchilla is being litigated before the Sala IV constitutional court. Solís also lifted one imposed years ago by then-president Óscar Arias Sánchez. That action is in the court, too.

Taxpayer wins half a fight with Hacienda's computer
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Hacienda maintains a special computer program for payment of taxes online.

This is the EDDI-7 system. With it, merchants can file the monthly sales tax reports, D-104, and everyone can file at the end of the year the annual income tax return.

The only problem is that the computer system is updated continually, and users have to download the lengthy program repeatedly. In a less technical description, some say the program is inhabited by demons.

One taxpayer found he could not file the annual income tax report or the monthly sales tax report last Dec. 15, the deadline.

The ministry server was not responding well. So the taxpayer was subject to fines for late filing.

That was just about enough, so the taxpayer filed an appeal with the Sala IV constitutional court.

In a decision released Tuesday, the court said that the man did not have to pay a fine for failing to file his sales tax report in a timely fashion. But he still was on the

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'Take that, Tributación!!'

hook for the annual income tax report because he had the option of filing the report on paper with a number of banks and agencies that would have accepted it.

The sales tax report can only be filed online.

The court noted that there were  95,208 annual income tax returns filed from Friday, Dec. 13, to Monday, Dec. 15. The flood of filings appears to have overwhelmed the system.

The ministry's Dirección General de Tributación said it would accept the court ruling and void any penalties assessed for late filing Dec. 16. Anyone who has paid a fine already can get credit or a refund, the agency said in a terse two-paragraph statement.

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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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Sea Shepherd minces no words

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society says it is dismayed by the acquittal of seven men in the murder of environmental activist Jairo Mora Sandoval.

The organization does not mince words. In a news release it says: Court could not condemn the murderers, but we all know who they are.

"The verdict of the Court of Limón has dismayed our organization, Sea Shepherd said in a news release. "The murder of a young man who dedicated his life to protecting marine life should not go unpunished."

The organization noted that one of its boats has been named after Mora and that Sea Shepherd and Latin American Sea Turtles Association launched Operation Pacuare, a campaign against poaching to protect sea turtles at Playa Pacuare in the province of Limón.

"The goal for this year is to expand this operation and the vigilant patrols of turtles in Moin Beach as a way to continue to honor the memory of Jairo and the important work he accomplished in Costa Rica," the organization said.

"Beyond the technical flaws, which prevented the court from issuing a guilty verdict, Costa Ricans know who are the culprits," Sea Shepherd concluded.

The acquittals are expected to be appealed on the grounds that the trail court excluded evidence that should have been admitted.  Still, the court in its verdict outlines what appears to be sloppy investigative work.

The organization's opinion reflects a lot of what average Costa Ricans think. A vigil is planned for today at the court complex.

Sandoval was killed at Playa Moín where he was going with four volunteers to protect the nests of sea turtles May 31, 2013

Our reader's opinion
Reader wonders about police training

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Thank you so much for the service you provide English-speaking people with interests in Costa Rica. The report you provided about the recent case dismissal of murder charges might otherwise be lost in the tourist agencies' rose colored glasses vision of reality.

It is a sad day in Costa Rica as a result of the case against seven men accused of murdering turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval being dismissed for evidence reasons. The primary function of police investigating murder cases is evidence collection and protection.

For the judge to dismiss the charges as a result of improper handling of evidence by police, suggests that taxes assessed for additional police training and equipment are not being effectively used.

Suggestions that corruption could be the underlying issue of evidence problems cannot be ignored.

It is hard to accept the governments rational of new taxes to improve public safety, if morality is reduced to a wad of bills passed under a table. Want to be a premier country with a thriving tourist economy? This is not the way. If police are not able (or refuse) to do the job they were trained and trusted with, they need to find other work and be prosecuted for crimes.
Jeff Marlow
Guacimo, Limón and U.S.A.

Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo     
The work to date has been to reinforce the bridge foundations.

Río Virilla bridge widening to start

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Highway officials said that work would begin anew on widening the bridge over the Río Virilla, in April or May. This is the so-called platina bridge because it has resisted all efforts to fix expansion joints.

Platina translates as a metal plate, which became loose on the bridge and endangered tires.

The bridge is on the General Cañas highway that leads from San José to Alajuela and Juan Santamaría airport. The highway leading to the bridge and away from it is six lane. But the bridge is just four lanes.

The ministry has spent 4.3 billion colons, some $8.3 million to reinforce the underpinnings of the bridge.  An analysis of the structure showed that the reason the bridge deck could not be fixed correctly was because the bridge was too flexible.

Officials said they hope that the widening of the bridge will be done in May 2016. They expect that six lanes will eliminate the current bottleneck.

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Museo Nacional will provide a slice of culture Friday afternoon
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a double treat in store for expats who attend the rezo del Niño ceremony at the Museo Nacional Friday afternoon.

The ceremony itself dates back at least to Medieval Spain and the life-size figures that make up the museum's nativity scene have a long history and recently have been refurbished.

The rezo del Niño is a traditional prayer service before the nativity scene is put away for another year. There is no need to be Catholic to attend the museum's 1:30 p.m. ceremony.

Similar ceremonies are being held all over the country in offices, private homes and in the headquarters of organizations and clubs.
María Elena Masis, museum historian, was quoted saying that the ceremony came to Costa Rica at the end of the 18th century and has become part of the Costa Rican identity.

It merges religion with popular culture and even popular foods because the ceremony is followed by eating and singing.

A typical rezo is an hours long production with live music and much prayer. The ceremony is centered around the rosary, the assembly of 54 beads Catholics use for prayer and meditation.

A musician frequently is part of a team. Also present could be a mistress of ceremonies who leads the prayers and perhaps other assistants. Among the songs can be the ancient  "El Alabado," a hymn of praise to Jesus.

The word rezo comes from rezar, which means to pray.

nkaivity scene
Museo Nacional photo
This is the museum's nativity scene or portal.

The 15-piece nativity scene now at the museum has a long history. The figures were made in Paris and came to Costa Rica by ship to Limón and probably railway to San José about 100 years ago, said the museum, giving this outline:

The figures were displayed for years at Hospital San Juan de Dios when it was run by the sisters of charity of St. Vincent de Paul. The sisters added clothing and some refinements to the statues. When the hospital became part of the public health system in 1942, the figures eventually came to the museum.

Alfredo Duncan, the museum restorer, completed work on the figures for this Christmas. He cleaned and retouched the pieces and fixed cracks as well as adding supports where needed. Then the figures were polished. Each piece is about 1.6 meters, some 63 inches.

Latin-Carribean summit starts today but still lacks some key players
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 17 heads of state have confirmed attendance at the third summit of the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean that begins this morning.

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo
Raúl Castro makes an early arrival.
As of Tuesday night, some key figures were still uncertain attendees. They included Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, said Costa Rica's foreign ministry.

There are 32 foreign delegations, but some are headed by an ambassador or a foreign minister, according to the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.

Raúl Castro, the president of Cuba, made a surprise morning arrival at Juan Santamaría airport. He was the first head of state but was not expected until the afternoon. The summit attendees are anxious to hear Castro's take on the thawing of relations with the United States.

Manuel González, Costa Rica's foreign minister, told visiting diplomats Tuesday that the summit is a place where rhetoric can be converted into practice.

The diplomats are expected to discuss topics ranging from poverty, financing development, corruption and goals for the years after this one.

When they are seated for the first time this morning, the heads of state and heads of delegations are to be presented with an agenda that has been formulated by technical staff members who have been working since Saturday.

The formal meeting is in Pedregal in Belén.

The contents of the working document have not been made public. However, relations with China is high on the list.

The organization of states is the creation of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and Castro. It is seen as a counterweight to the established Organization of American States and the United States and Canada.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Prolonged drought appears to be reason for decline in Mexican city
By the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
news staff

Scientists have reconstructed the past climate for the region around Cantona, a large fortified city in highland México, and found the population drastically declined in the past at least in part because of climate change.

The research appears in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lawrence Livermore researcher Susan Zimmerman and colleagues analyzed pollen, stable isotopes and elemental concentrations, which serve as proxies of past climatic and environmental conditions, from lake sediments in the region and found evidence of a regional drought between 500 and 1150 AD, about the time Cantona was abandoned.

Using Lawrence Livermore’s Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, the team, consisting of the University of California, Berkeley, Universidad Nacional Autonóma de Mexico and the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, dated terrestrial organic material from 12-meter-long sediment cores from the lake to establish the age control for this study. Radiocarbon dating and an age model showed that the centennial-scale arid interval between 500 and 1150 was overlaid on a long-term drying trend. The cores cover the last 6,200 years.

However, the team focused on the last 3,800 years.

Cantona is now an archaeological site in Mexico on the border with Veracruz about an hour's drive from the city of Puebla. Limited archaeological work has been done at the site, and only about 10 percent of the site can be seen. It was a prominent, if isolated, Mesoamerican city between 600 and 1000 AD. It was abandoned after 1050 AD.

The ancient city
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory photo
The ancient city of Cantona

“We found that Cantona’s population grew in the initial phases of the drought, but by 1050 AD long-term environmental stress contributed to the city’s abandonment,” Ms. Zimmerman and colleagues said. “Our research highlights the interplay of environmental and political factors in past human responses to climate change.”

Cantona was one of the largest cities in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, with a population of 90,000 inhabitants. It is in a semiarid basin east of Mexico City.

The team conducted a subcentennial reconstruction of regional climate by taking sediment samples from a nearby crater lake, Aljojuca. The modern climate of the region suggests that proxy data from the sediments record changes in May through October precipitation.

“Our results suggest that climate change played a contributing role in the site’s history,” Ms. Zimmerman said.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and wireless internet. Harry Hart, proprietor.  Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email:

Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
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Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
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Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.
Every Saturday - Vendor Fair!

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

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Two houses for rent inside Sarchí working coffee farm. We will be renting out only one of them, so choose which suits you best.

Casita - Roomy, fully furnished 1 bedroom/1 bath/ 1 guest room, office or storage room. Hi-speed     WiFi, private phone line, hot water, balcony with lovely view across the Central Valley. Includes
linens, dishes, etc and washing machine. Rent is $500 per month plus utilities for 6 months or longer, $625 all inclusive for less than 6 months. Sorry, no pets.

Main house - Spacious 2 bedrooms/1 bath/ and an office w/Wifi. Fully furnished 
(except for TV), Sky satellite, private phone line, washer and dryer, alarm system.  There are lovely verandas with views of Poás and Central Valley, raised beds for gardening and lots of fruit trees. A well-behaved pet MAY be negotiable. Rent is $750 plus utilities for long term tenant.

Our farm is in a small, quiet and very safe neighborhood in Sarchí Sur and is gated and guarded 24/7 and we live on-site. It's totally private and quiet, but less than a 5-minute drive to Sarchí central and 15 minutes to Grecia.  There are great places to walk as well. More info and photos at

Maneul Antonio
The vacation homes at Manuel Antonio Estates offers luxury, comfort and peace of mind. We have numerous homes to chose from, all within walking distance of the town’s shops and restaurants and just a few minutes to the best beaches and the famous national park. While the homes are secluded and hidden among the rainforest, the surrounding area offers adventures like zip lines, white water rafting, mangrove kayaking and many more. All of the homes are available for short-term rentals, have easily accessible parking, cable TV, and Internet and are fully furnished. We are happy to assist with all your need for the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Manuel Antonio Estates        TOLL FREE: 1800 346 9724
011 (506) 2777.3339

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at or contact us at
or call at (506) 2654-5442.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Vol. 15, No. 19
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Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum photo
These are the two remaining crematoriums that remain at the concentration camp.
Concentration camp survivors
return to mark liberation

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

About 300 survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp gathered Tuesday at the site in Poland to pay their respects to victims who perished in gas chambers or from inhumane treatment and disease.

When the death camp was liberated Jan. 27, 1945, by the Soviet Army, soldiers found 7,000 prisoners, among them 130 children.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday it was a disgrace that Jews in Germany faced insults, threats and violence. Merkel joined survivors in a commemorative ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the most notorious Nazi death camps of World War II.

Before departing for Poland, German President Joachim Gauck told the parliament in Berlin the lessons of the crimes of Auschwitz were "woven into the texture of our national identity.'' From the "guilt and shame and remorse'' of the Nazi genocide, modern Germany has become a champion of human rights and equality, he said.

Other world leaders and dignitaries, the presidents of Poland, Israel, and France, Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, have marked the occasion.
But this may be the last time witnesses of the Holocaust participate in a major ceremony, since the youngest of them are in their 70s. They returned to Auschwitz to pay tribute to victims and tell their stories.

“None of us believed that people worked in the mud, that when someone could not work they were shot, that there were piles of bodies. After I arrived, I did not need to imagine, I saw it. That is why after the war I could not come here for 50 years. Because I did not see people, I only saw prisoners or bodies or the smoking chimneys of crematoriums,” said Alina Dabrowska, who was just a child when she arrived at Auschwitz.

For another survivor, the 88-year-old David Wisnia, "It is a lifetime ago really" that brings back shocking memories.

"Last night sleeping ... I had a horrible dream and woke up and looked out the window and sort of thought that I was back in Birkenau in cell block 14 where I started in 1942," Wisnia said.

The 79-year-old Róża Krzywobłocka-Laurow from Poland was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 when she was only 8 years old. "If I survived it was to warn against this ever happening again," she said at the bullet-riddled Wall of Death where the Nazis shot thousands.

As part of Adolf Hitler's genocide plan against European Jews, called the Final Solution, more than 1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the occupied southern Polish town of Oswiecim between June 1940 and January 1945.

About 1.1 million of them, mainly European Jews, perished in the gas chambers or from starvation and disease. The Nazis killed 6 million of pre-war Europe's 11 million Jews.

Vice President Joe Biden said, "We mark this milestone at a moment when too many hearts in too many places are still full of the hatred that seeks to eliminate innocent life on the basis of religion, ethnicity, or identity. Recent violent attacks against Jews in France and elsewhere in Europe make unmistakably clear that the scourge of anti-Semitism persists and must be confronted.

"Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who served with honor in the United States Congress, used to say, 'The veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians. We can never rest.' We have to reclaim the words never again. It must be more than a lament. It must remain our commitment,'" said Biden.

Steven Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director for the Holocaust drama "Schindler's List," condemned "the growing effort to banish Jews from Europe," in a statement before departing for Poland. He has videotaped and has taken testimonies of 58,000 survivors.

With their compelling stories of nightmares and flashbacks from perhaps the most horrendous life experience in the history of mankind, the survivors of the Holocaust convey above all a very strong and powerful message, "let us not forget, for that not to be ever repeated."

Clerical date error saved
young Czech Jewish girl

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them but her were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory.

Auschwitz is still a chilling place. It was purpose-built for mass murder. And more than a million people died there. But the survivors can bear witness to what happened. Among them Ms. Lieblova, whose mother and sister both perished in the camp.

"Well I was almost 15, and I couldn't imagine that everything would be over," she said. "That I would never see anything else but just the blocks and the wire, I would never in my life see a tree or a piece of grass."

Ms. Lieblova had every reason to think that she too would end in the Auschwitz crematorium. Shortly after she arrived, her uncle, aunt and cousin were all killed in the gas chambers. She spent her days helping her mother empty the latrines. It was grim work, on an empty stomach.

"The food was very simple. It was in the morning there was what they called coffee - a sort of warm liquid," she said. "In the day there was a portion soup. And then a piece of bread in the evening."

But Ms. Lieblova was about to be saved by an incredible stroke of luck. The Nazis made a list of workers aged 16 to 40 to undertake war work in Germany.  Her name was on it. Her date of birth should have been written 1929. But instead, it said 1925.

"Because of this mistake, that someone wrote a 5 instead of a 9 it saved my life," she said. "There was a train standing, and we stepped in, and it moved, and we didn't believe we were leaving. We couldn't believe that we were really leaving Auschwitz."

Like so many others Ms. Lieblova's family all died there. She spent the rest of the war working in Hamburg. Only once, 20 years ago, did she return. She won't come back again.

"Auschwitz is a cemetery for my parents, my sister, almost all my relatives," she said. "Everything comes back again. No, I wouldn't go there any more. It's too hard."

But Ms. Lieblova, at home surrounded by books and photos, is not bitter. Life, she feels, has triumphed.

"Now when I see my children and grandchildren I have a feeling it's a victory. Because I was not supposed to be here," she said.

Auschwitz is now a museum, a reminder of the inhuman cruelty perpetrated by the Nazis.

New England got the brunt
of Great Blizzard of 2015

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A powerful winter storm dropped as much as 60 centimeters (almost 2 feet) of snow in some parts of the northeastern U.S. Monday and Tuesday, leaving millions of residents stranded in their homes waiting for the weather to break.

Boston and surrounding New England got the brunt of the storm, as near-record snowfall and high winds caused blizzard conditions. Storm-driven flooding added to the woes of those who live in coastal areas.

In one Massachusetts seaside town, Marshfield, 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Boston, high tides breached a seawall, damaging several homes and prompting officials to urge that residents evacuate.

The island of Nantucket, with about 10,000 full-time residents, lost all electrical power for several hours during the storm. By Tuesday night, the local police chief said, power had been restored to much of the island. At one point, reported winds on Nantucket reached 126 kilometers (78 miles) per hour.

The northeastern states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut got some of the heaviest snow. But the storm fell short of forecasters' worst predictions farther south in New York and New Jersey. The governors of those two states began lifting travel bans after dawn Tuesday, while the National Weather Service canceled its blizzard warning for New York City.

"This is nothing like we feared it would be," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN. De Blasio had earlier warned the storm could be one of the worst the city had ever faced.

In Manhattan's largely deserted Times Square, residents were underwhelmed.

"I was expecting 2 feet [60 cm], and it's only like a couple of inches [5 cm]," said New York resident Allison Tiberie. "So they're making a big deal out of nothing. I didn't think it was that bad."

New York state's governor, Andrew Cuomo, defended the decision to implement the travel bans, saying it was better to be safe than sorry.

​ ​"I would rather, if there's a lean one way or another, if you will, lean toward safety," he said. "Because I've seen the consequences the other way, and it gets very frightening, very quickly. And I've seen people put in extraordinarily dangerous situations, and we've had people die in storms."

The New York Stock Exchange was operating normally Tuesday, but United Nations headquarters and many schools and businesses across the Northeast were closed.

Thousands of flights across the region were canceled, according to The blizzard had a ripple effect on travelers and airports all across the U.S. As far south as Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, more than 50 flights were canceled.

The only reported death in the storm occurred on New York's Long Island, which was hit much harder than Manhattan. The victim was a teenager who crashed into a light post while snow tubing.

The brunt of the storm missed the nation's capital, which saw only light snow mixed with rain, but federal offices and public schools in the city opened two hours late Tuesday to give people extra travel time.

On social media, Americans waiting out the snowstorm posted photos and videos of their cities blanketed in white. Hashtags such as #blizzardof2015 and #Snowmageddon2015 quickly gained traction.

Snow was expected to fall over parts of the Northeast through this morning. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker urged residents to stay off the roads.

"If you don't need to go out, I think those folks who are still in the process of cleaning up would appreciate it if you gave them the room and the opportunity to do that," he said.

Chicago drug traffickers
get light sentence for helping

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. federal judge sentenced twin Chicago drug traffickers to 14-year prison terms Tuesday in exchange for their cooperation in a case against Mexican drug cartel leaders.

Judge Ruben Castillo said he could have given Pedro and Margarito Flores life in prison. The judge, however, said the threat of being killed would always hang over the brothers' heads and that they effectively "are going to leave here with a life sentence."

The Flores brothers were Chicago's most significant drug traffickers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Working as distributors for Mexico's Sinaloa and Beltran Leyva drug cartels, they flooded the streets of Chicago and several other large U.S. cities with cocaine and heroin and helped smuggle nearly $2 billion back to Mexico.

The brothers started cooperating with U.S. agents in 2008, leading to the arrests and indictments of several Mexican drug kingpins.

Russia calls spy arrest
provocation hurting ties

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Russia on Tuesday condemned the United States for the arrest of an alleged Russian spy, condemning the move as a provocation that would further damage already strained ties.

U.S. counterintelligence agents arrested a Russian national Monday in New York City and charged him with espionage. Evgeny Buryakov, 39, and two other Russians, Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy, who are not believed to be in the U.S., were indicted on charges of spying and attempting to recruit people already living in the United States, including employees of major corporations and women connected to a major university.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tuesday denied the charges, saying the U.S. was resorting to anti-Russian campaigning. He said "no evidence which would support such information has been presented. It seems that the American authorities have once again decided to resort to a favorite practice of unwinding espionage.''

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met Tuesday with John Tefft, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, to discuss bilateral issues, the ministry said.

According to a U.S. Justice Department complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, the defendants were tasked by Russian authorities "to gather intelligence on, among other subjects, potential United States sanctions against Russian banks and the United States' efforts to develop alternative energy resources.''

Posing as an employee of the Russian bank Vnesheconombank, Buryakov broke U.S. law by not informing officials that he was in the country as a covert Russian intelligence operative, the complaint said. Federal prosecutors said Sporyshev, 40, worked as a Russian trade representative from November 2010 to November 2014, while Podobnyy, 27, was an attache to Russia's mission to the United Nations from December 2012 to September 2013.

Prosecutors said U.S. authorities gathered physical evidence and electronic data from many meetings, including several in which Buryakov met with an FBI agent posing as a wealthy investor intending to develop casinos in Russia. Between March 2012 and mid-September 2014, the FBI observed Buryakov and Sporyshev meeting 48 times in outdoor settings, the complaint said. Several of the meetings "involved Buryakov passing a bag, magazine or slip of paper to Sporyshev."

The investigation followed leads from a 2010 case resulting in the arrest of 10 covert agents working in the United States. All 10 pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan to conspiracy charges and were extradited as part of a spy swap for four people convicted of betraying Moscow to the West.

The three Russian suspects each face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. is committed "to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States."

More than 20 years after the end of the Cold War, Russian spies continue to work in the U.S. and are a direct threat to U.S. national security, Justice Department officials said.

Small drone available to all
shows vulnerability in D.C.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

White House security was breached again Monday when a small remote-controlled quad copter crashed on its lawn. The U.S. Secret Service is investigating, but drone experts say there is no reliable way to protect against these now widely available devices.

This was not the first incident of a flying machine on the grounds of the White House. In September, 1994, a pilot crashed a small Cessna airplane onto the South Lawn, prompting re-evaluation of security procedures.

But the latest incident again highlighted the increased vulnerability of the traditional home of the U.S. presidents.

Thanks to advances in cheap electronics, lightweight materials and mechanical parts, drones are now available to anyone.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates U.S. airspace, limits the flights of drones operated by hobbyists to a height of about 120 meters and within sight of the operator. But modern drones can be pre-programmed to fly automatically.

According to a professor at Illinois Institute of Technology Robotics Lab, Matthew Spenko, some manufacturers program their drones so they can not be operated in certain areas, though the system is not immune to hacking. “If you are smart enough and you know what you are doing, you can always override that,” he explained.

Spenko said quad copters can carry up to six kilograms of payload. The best among them can stay airborne for 25 minutes and fly as fast as 10 meters per second.

A University of Nebraska journalism professor, Matthew Waite, studies how drones can be used to report news. He said Monday’s incident may have some bad consequences. “I have been saying for years that it is going to take one idiot doing something stupid to trigger a lot of bad policy," he said, "and I am afraid that we may have found our idiot.”

Waite said the White House is well protected, but a motivated person can still create a lot of chaos. “If somebody wants to cause harm and havoc with a device and some explosives, there is very little to stop them," he notes. "That is just kind of the way of the world.”

The Secret Service does not have a reliable system to identify and disable drones. After the latest incident, Waite said the agency no doubt will reconsider its options, but he said he thinks the danger from drones is small.

“Could you do damage with it? Absolutely. Are you going to level a building with it? No, probably not," said Waite. "Sure, there is a threat here and the grand scheme of other threats I think that it is pretty low.”

Certain drugs can increase
dementia risk, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new study by U.S. researchers has found that common, over-the-counter drugs, including those to promote sleep and treat allergies, may increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among people 65 and older.

The drugs are called anticholinergics, a class of medications that block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.  They are found in a host of medicines ranging from antidepressants to muscle relaxants.

They cause a host of side effects, including dry eyes and mouth, sleepiness and constipation.

A study of the drugs found a higher risk of dementia among older adults who took anticholenergics for three years or more.

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy followed almost 3,500 older men and women, none of whom appeared to suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s at the outset of the study.

Eight hundred of the participants who took standard daily doses of drugs, including antihistamines and drugs for bladder control, developed dementia, including Alzheimer's, after an average follow-up of seven years.

The increased risk of dementia was also seen among those who took medications, including tricyclic antidepressants, to treat depression.

Investigators say people should not panic and stop taking their medications. Rather, they advise those who take suspect drugs should talk to their health care providers, who may be able to prescribe safer alternatives.
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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


CoopeAgri Real Estate

The best option in real estate services in southern Costa Rica and the South Pacific coast. We are professionals promoting properties such as farms, lots, ranches, commercial premises, homes and apartments, through our advertising and marketing services.
Are you buying a property? Our experienced team is ready to help you to find the right place. Are you selling? We are experts selling properties.  Keep it simple. Don't waste your time. We are  the best local and international listing.  Contact us, and we will be glad to assist you!
Local CR Phones: (506) 2785-0282 or  (506) 2785-0278

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A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.
For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 4030-5480 or 8339-2112.

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Re/Max Ocean Surf and Sun:

The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about Costa Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and commercial real estate.  Call us: Ocean Surf and Sun Int. Realty Ldta at 011 (506) 2653-0073 or send us an email at:

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
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Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
(506) 2494-0016 
(506) 8309-0173
English calls :  (Luis David) Phone: 
(506) 6154-1940

Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
Grecia 884
Beautiful large house in Grecia, Costa Rica, with the best fresh natural weather. The property includes 9 challets and 12.000 m2 of land,  1,000 m2 of construction. Price $498,000. Click HERE!
Grecia 881
Beautiful house in Grecia, Costa Rica,  2 kilometers from the city.   340 m2 of land.
Price $135,000. Click
Grecia 898
Beautiful house in Grecia downtown. Full security cameras. Land 250 m2.  Price $400,000.  Click HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

1-acre beautiful beachfront lot
Power and water on the property A very nice tropical setting in Puerto Viejo, Limón. Choice location. 9 beautiful lots for sale. Each lot is $69,000 or offer. Please call Peter: 7122-3754 or e mail:

Jaco hotel

Beautiful beach hotel for sale.
Located at Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Pacific Ocean.
Apartotel Costa Arenas is located just 5 minutes from the beach and 10 minutes from Jacó Downtown. The perfect place to rest in a cozy and familiar environment; surrounded by beautiful gardens. We have 11 fully equipped apartments. Also has swimming pool for adults and children and private parking 24 hours.  Retail value US$700,000.00   Contact:   Carlos Díaz  Local CR Phone: (506) 2643-2085   Email:   Web:

Photo one
photo two
Tambor three for jan. 15
Total area of the property is 23 hectares at $425,000. There's an option to buy 2 sub lots, the first one is land with no construction of 890 sqm at $19,900. The second, 1,700 sqm including a small house, for the price of $65,000
Located 300 meters from the south Jacó . First house is 110 sqm with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom,  private pool, A/C, kitchen and separate laundry. Second is a 120m, two-story house with 2 bedrooms, There's a small lot has its own entrance and is perfect for building  $280,000.
This 115 sqm condo is located four blocks from the heart of Santa Ana. It is a corner unit with a view of the green area from your living room. Two bedrooms, a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom. Kitchen is clean and modern. Home is in good condition, and ready to move into. $132.000.
Contact Jo-Anne  Cell phone number: 506 8310-2915
or through email:

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at   
For more information contact:

La Fortuna Distress Sale
Divorce forced wife to return to the U.S. with bills to pay. Just wants to get out from under. Modern 2-bedroom home on over 1100m2 intended for apartments or condos. Easy walk to center of town, great volcano view. $140,000 with 50 percent financing arranged. On vacation rental program now producing nice income, but Costa Rica no longer in her future. For details contact

Ringle resort
on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-storey, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport. and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-storey. 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot.. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
 PRICE REDUCED FROM $235,000 to $195,000
This is not an ordinary condo. Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $195,000.

Atenas home
This developer's prime lot with super house is being offered in Roca Verde, 7,006 M2 of gentle grade, all landscaped for tropical effect, 3 bedrooms 2 baths with tile floors and hardwood kitchen, near the entrance of the neighborhood. Great floor plan on this one! There is a double carport, and a large patio and pool, wheelhouse style living room and many other features. View, large usable lot, close to town, nice, oh yeah. $495,000.

More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

Maneul Antonio
Manuel Antonio Estates focuses on building vacation homes for clients within Manuel Antonio Estates and Palmas Pacifica. We take care of the details from permits and design to supervision of construction and management of the rentals, if needed. We provide privacy and security, and our gated community offers shared common recreational facilities, beautiful landscaping and parking areas. Our homes and lots are located just minutes from the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. If you've ever considered buying a second home, just minutes from the beach, do not hesitate, if you have any questions or would like to request more information please take full advantage of our Costa Rica real estate services and contact us today!
Manuel Antonio Estates    1 800 346-9724  (506) 8815-9606.

Ciudad Colon
Great Deal!! Apartment in condo with pool and extensive green areas:
Ciudad Colón, San José $112,000
The apartment has a master bedroom with a large ensuite bathroom with bath tub, and a smaller second bedroom/office with air conditioning. It has a second full bathroom, living/dining room, laundry room with hot water tank and storage area. The kitchen comes with granite countertops, a breakfast bar and new dishwasher. It has 82 m2 of construction. 2 balconies with beautiful views of the river and mountains. Private parking for one car. Elevator and a well presented reception area. Located in a very quiet and private neighborhood just 400 meters from the centre of Ciudad Colón. Within minutes to all major amenities in Santa Ana and Escazú. Easy access to the beach (less than 1.5 hrs).  24-hour security, visitor parking, pool, extensive and lush green areas, BBQ area, children’s playground and its own water treatment plant. Contact (506) 6022-9294 or 6022-9967, for further info or to arrange a viewing.

Suenos montage
Outrageous blowout prices on oceanfront condos in Los Sueños!

Located in the private Bay Residence enclave overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Sueños Resort and Marina, there are three gorgeous units available at unbelievable bargain pricing from $589,000.  All of these beautiful units are three bedrooms and two baths, 2,200 square feet, fully furnished and ready to move in.  Development includes a gym, access to 3 pools, jacuzzis, BBQ areas and the Beach Club.  If you’ve always wanted to own in Los Sueños, now is the time!  Contact  or call 8702-0778.  From U.S. call 209-482-1788.

Top floor unit: $649,000   Second floor unit: $675,000  Garden unit: $589,000

Newly available in Roca Verde
Well-built home of 215 m2, 3 bedrooms, two bath on 1,150 m2 of lot, with attractive rock retaining wall, carport, and a pool. Indoors there are high, vaulted hardwood ceiling, bright rooms, a laundry room.  The floor is ceramic tile in pastel shades. $247,000. Photos: 2446-5587.

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya.7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show HERE!


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and


Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.

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Jaco hotel

Beautiful beach hotel for sale.
Located at Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Pacific Ocean.
Apartotel Costa Arenas is located just 5 minutes from the beach and 10 minutes from Jacó Downtown. The perfect place to rest in a cozy and familiar environment; surrounded by beautiful gardens. We have 11 fully equipped apartments. Also has swimming pool for adults and children and private parking 24 hours.  Retail value US$700,000.00   Contact:   Carlos Díaz  Local CR Phone: (506) 2643-2085   Email:   Web:

Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, Vol. 15, No. 19
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
World freedom report shows decline

By the Freedom House news staff

More aggressive tactics by authoritarian regimes and an upsurge in terrorist attacks contributed to a disturbing decline in global freedom in 2014, according to Freedom in the World 2015, Freedom House’s annual report on the condition of political rights and civil liberties.

The report finds an overall decline in freedom for the ninth consecutive year.

“Acceptance of democracy as the world’s dominant form of government — and of an international system built on democratic ideals — is under greater threat than at any other point in the last 25 years,” said Arch Puddington, vice president for research.

“Until recently, most authoritarian regimes claimed to respect international agreements and paid lip service to the norms of competitive elections and human rights,” Puddington said. “Today they argue for the superiority of what amounts to one-party rule, and seek to throw off the constraints of fundamental diplomatic principles.”

Nearly twice as many countries suffered declines as registered gains, 61 to 33, and the number of countries with improvements hit its lowest point since the nine-year erosion began, the report said.

The report cites Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a rollback of democratic gains by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s intensified campaign against press freedom and civil society, and further centralization of authority in China as evidence of a growing disdain for democratic standards that was found in nearly all regions of the world.

The report also singled out terrorism for its impact on freedom in 2014. From West Africa through the Middle East to South Asia, radical jihadist forces plagued local governments and populations. Their impact on countries such as Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Nigeria was devastating, as they massacred security forces and civilians alike, took foreigners hostage, and killed or enslaved religious minorities, including Muslims they deemed apostates.

Key global findings:

* Of the 195 countries assessed, 89 (46 percent) were rated Free, 55 (28 percent) Partly Free, and 51 (26 percent) Not Free.

* All but one region had more countries with declines than with gains. Asia-Pacific had an even split.

* A troubling number of large, economically powerful, or regionally influential countries moved backward: Azerbaijan, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela.

* Continuing a recent trend, the worst reversals affected freedom of expression, civil society, and the rule of law.

* In a new and disquieting development, a number of countries lost ground due to state surveillance, restrictions on internet communications, and curbs on personal autonomy.

* Ratings for the Middle East and North Africa region were the worst in the world, followed by Eurasia. Syria, a dictatorship mired in civil war and ethnic division and facing uncontrolled terrorism, received the lowest Freedom in the World score of any country in over a decade.

* A notable exception to the negative trend was Tunisia, which became the first Arab country to hold the status of Free since Lebanon was gripped by civil war 40 years ago.

Worst of the worst:

* Of the 51 countries and territories designated as Not Free, 12 have been given the worst-possible rating of 7 for both political rights and civil liberties.

* The Worst of the Worst countries are the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The Worst of the Worst territories are Tibet and Western Sahara.

Key findings for the Americas are:

* The announcement that the United States and Cuba agreed to the normalization of relations after a rupture of more than 50 years marked a major development in the Americas region. Although it ranks as the worst-rated country in the Americas, Cuba registered a slight improvement in 2014 for growth in independent media.

* In Mexico, public outrage at the authorities’ failure to stem criminal violence and corruption grew into mass demonstrations that challenged the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto.

* The United States experienced a wave of protests over police killings of unarmed African Americans in Missouri, New York, and elsewhere, and the repeated failure of prosecutors to secure indictments of the officers responsible. Separately, in December the U.S. Senate released a lengthy report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture and mistreatment of terrorism suspects in the years immediately after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the country.

The full report is HERE!

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From Page 7:

Woman engineer to head petroleum distributor

 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A mechanical engineer has been named general manager of the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo.  She is María Gabriela Montes de Oca, who has worked for the petroleum monopoly for 27 years.

She began at the firm in 1989 with the job of designing storage tanks, said the company. She is a graduate of the Universidad de Costa Rica.

She will take over March 1, said the firm, which added that she is the first woman to hold the top job.