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(506) 2223-1327       Published Monday, Feb. 16, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 32       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
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Here's one option for the itinerant expat loverboy
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The free sexual atmosphere of Costa Rica can have negative consequences when sex tourists and expats inadvertently create offspring and then either turn their backs or leave not knowing what they have done.

One way to curb this is with a vasectomy, but many men fear this procedure.   They believe it will do something to their manhood.  Cultural mores also influence a man's decision to take the step.  Often, women have their say too.  Some of them also believe a man is lesser if he is not functioning fully.

Of three women interviewed last week in a beauty salon, one felt God made it very clear in the Bible that a man should not sterilize himself.  Another, one who is allergic to all types of contraception, said she felt her husband should have had a vasectomy before she had four kids.  She is having a very hard time feeding them in these scant economic times.  Her husband was in the salon too.  When asked what he thought, he said he felt contraception was her responsibly, not his.  He, too, is very religious and feels it is more important for the man to be able to reproduce than the woman.  

The youngest of the three women, a 23-year-old unwed mother of an 8 year old daughter, knows a male friend who underwent the procedure and she said she thought it was very responsible on his part to do so.  He already has three children with three different women.

Unbelievably, vasectomies and salpingectomies — the surgical removal of one or both fallopian tubes in a woman — were illegal in Costa Rica until the year 2002.  The illegality of the practice came under Article 123 of the Costa Rican criminal code.  That year the constitutional court ruled the procedures were legal. Individual voluntary sterilization is a person's personal right, said the court. Only then did the country even start keeping public statistics on the procedure.

Dr. Arturo Cabezas López, a pioneer in family medicine in Costa Rica, brought the two procedures to Costa Rica in 1953.  In an interview Friday, he told a story that changed his life and guided his practice until retirement. Today, he is 86 years old and retired only a few years ago.   Cabezas went to study medicine in the United States in 1947.   He returned to Costa Rica to practice as an intern in 1950.  He said in the interview, that one day a women came to see him with one child in her arms and another clinging to her shirt.  She was in tears.  He asked her how he could help her and what the problem was.  She told him she was pregnant and did not want to have any more children because she could not feed the ones she had.

This event affected the physician so much that he returned to the United States and along with his other training, he took it upon himself to learn how to do vasectomies and post-partum salpingectomies.  When he returned to Costa Rica in 1953, he performed the first vasectomy and in 1955 the first salpingectomy.

Remember, these two procedures were against the law until 2002.  This physician did most of the operations free of charge for many years.  He even traveled deep into the country's farming communities to offer the service to those who did not want to have any more children.   He said that during the Carazo presidency from 1978 to 1982, Rodrigo Carazo Odio found out about Cabezas' practices and personally went to the legislature to have him stopped.   When the Catholic Church found out, the local bishop prohibited the procedures.  Both cases did nothing more than give the physician some very positive free advertising.

Why is this important to expats?

Well, Latin men tend to have less vasectomies than Anglo Saxon men. They believe it will do something to the maleness.   In the year 2007 only 1,238 were done in public hospitals in Costa Rica.  This is four times the amount done in 2003, but still insignificant relative to the adult man population of the country.

However, Latin men should not be singled out as the unenlightened or the overly macho.   Other
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
What are the costs of these procedures locally?

Clínica Bíblica  2522-1000
Vasectomy          ¢125,000
Salpingectomy     ¢800,000 plus doctor's fees

Clínica Católica  2246-3000
Vasectomy          ¢135,000
Salpingectomy:    ¢270,000 plus doctor's fees

Hospital CIMA 2208-1000
Vasectomy         from ¢50,000 to ¢100,000, plus
 doctors fees of ¢50,000
Salpingectomy    from ¢350,000 to ¢400,000
 plus negotiated doctor's fees

Hospital Jerusalem 2216-9191  
Vasectomy          ¢200,000
Salpingectomy     ¢450,000 plus doctor's fees

Clínica Los Angeles 2221-8222
Vasectomy          ¢125,000
Salpingectomy      Not offered

Hospital Carit  2256-5900
Vasectomy         Not offered
Salpingectomy    Free post-partum

foreign men and even those — maybe especially  
those — coming from the United States feel they are God's gift to women, especially Latin women.

Some come to play because Costa Rica is such a famous sex tourism destination.  Even after a local television station and this newspaper covered the story regarding massage parlors pimping prostitutes in direct violation of criminal laws, virtually nothing was done to curb the trade.  In fact, the establishments that were closed, opened again within days with new wheelchair access for the handicapped.  The businesses were cited for municipal violations not the pimping of prostitutes.

Others come to Costa Rica to play around with the local women — not necessarily prostitutes — because it is common knowledge women of many nationalities can be found here and they have a reputation of being very friendly with men from the United States.  Among these men, some use condoms and others do not if they do not have to.   When they are used, it is usually to protect against disease not for contraception.  For the ones that do not use protection, some of them could care less if a women gets pregnant.    Many of them just get on a plane to return home and leave Costa Rica behind.

Some expat men living here permanently play around too.  Many of them are older and hook up with younger females.  Some of the women get pregnant and have children.  Many do not think of what will happen to the women and the children they produce after they are dead. Many are living on their Social Security and nothing more.  They do not have anything to leave a mother and the children they produce here.  What happens in many cases, the mother is forced into prostitution and the children into street crime.

Garland M. Baker is a 36-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2004-2008, use without permission prohibited.

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Public schools beginning
the 2009 educational year

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today's the day mothers have been awaiting since Christmas. Nearly 1 million primary and secondary students are off to public school today. As is traditional, the president and the education minister will symbolically open the school year at a selected location.

This year President Óscar Arias Sánchez and Leonardo Garnier, minister of Educación Pública, will be at the Liceo Experimental Bilingüe de Río de Jiménez in Guácimo for a 9 a.m. ceremony.

The start of school will be accompanied by the usual bureaucratic problems that crop up every year: unassigned teachers, insufficient desks and problems with the physical plants.

The biggest construction problems are in the areas flooded earlier this month and in the Jan. 8 earthquake zone. A handful of schools in the earthquake zone will not start class until March because of repairs needed to the facilities. Children in the flood zone, mainly Matina and Sixaola are being scheduled on a school-by-school basis.

Costa Rica plans to close
U.S. consulates to save cash

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica will close consulates in Chicago, Illinois, and in Puerto Rica, to save money, the foreign ministry said Friday. Also being closed are embassies in Bolivia, the Czech Republic and Paraguay.

The work of the Chicago consulate will be moved to New York, and the work of the Puerto Rican consulate will be handled in San José, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto. The actions are part of the central government's retrenchment to avoid economic problems.

For would-be expat residents from the Midwest, the move is important because consular officials validate the paperwork needed to apply for residency here. In addition, Puerto Rico has a steady tourism flow to Costa Rica. Costa Rica maintains embassies in 35 countries and 10 consulates. There also are five offices representing the country at international organizations, the ministry said.

Gasoline increasing again,
but diesel take a small drop

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Gasoline took a jump when the price setting agency announced the results of its monthly computations, but diesel decreased.

The price of a liter of super gasoline will go up 54 colons (about 9.7 U.S. cents) to 486 colons (87.1 cents). Plus gasoline (91 octane) will go up 48 colons (8.6 cents) to 474 colons (84.9 cents). But the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos said that diesel would drop 18 colons (about 3.2 cents) a liter to 412 colons (7.4 cents).

The authority sets fuel prices once a month and uses the world price of petroleum and the colon-dollar exchange rate as major factors. As usual the prices become effected when published in the La Gaceta official newspaper.

stolen bell
File photo of stolen bell

Thieves steal history bell
that is 200 years old

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thieves have taken a 200-year-old bell from the Catholic church located in Térraba de Buenos Arias in southern Costa Rica, an area populated mostly by native Costa Ricans.

There have been considerable thefts in Costa Rica and elsewhere of scrap metal, and the thieves probably planned to sell the bell for its metal. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that there was some gold in an inscription on the bell that said "Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe."

The bell is believed to weigh at least 400 pounds, described by police as four quintales, an antique measurement of weight.

Police make inspection sweep
of guards carrying guns

By the A,M Costa Rica staff

Judicial police inspected some 90 locations where private guards were working last week and found a number of violations. They confiscated 35 handguns and three shotguns.

Inspections were made in Pavas, Sabana, La Uruca, San  José, Guadalupe, San Pedro de Montes de Oca and  Desamparados, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.
The bulk of the violations were that those carrying a weapon did not have current permits or only had a copy when they should have an original.

Our reader's opinion
Another letter in support
of herbal or natural medicine

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Alfred Stites is “right on” with his defense of herbal medicine. His only error is how long herbal medicine has been around; which happens to be at least a million years or more…long before we started swinging in the trees.  We were chewing on that willow bark for those headaches, and never once got a hospital staph infection from it!!!

Type this address in your internet browser and see where “Study shows hospital staph infections cause 12,000 deaths, cost $9.5 billion.”
Dick Burgoon
Alajuela, Costa Rica

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Costa Rica
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Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 32

train photos
Rail cars for use on the Heredia line are all painted up and waiting in Spain for Costa Rica to make a deal on payment. The cars already bear the initials of the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarrilles. The rail cars
still are the property of their Spanish -owned Ferrocarriles Españoles de Vía Estrecha, which provided this photo. The current rail cars on the valley line are a bit shabby.

Fitch continues investment-grade ratings for Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fitch Rating organization has affirmed Costa Rica's  credit worthiness and has continued ratings on all of the country's liabilities, both long and short-term, as investment grade, ranging from BB+ to B. The company said that the country's outlook is stable.

However, the New York-based rating agency did say that Costa Rica's monetary and exchange rate policy framework represents a key credit weakness, particularly in light of comparatively high levels of inflation and financial dollarization, a relatively large current account deficit, financial sector weaknesses and fragile although improved international liquidity.

"Fitch believes that Costa Rica's improved public finances, net external creditor position and broad-based multilateral support could help to mitigate the impact of the U.S. recession and tighter global liquidity on sovereign creditworthiness," said Casey Reckman, associate director in Fitch's Sovereign Group.

"Costa Rica's large current account deficit and fragile liquidity position leave the country vulnerable to shocks, particularly in the absence of a stronger monetary and exchange rate policy framework," the company said.

Lenders use the Fitch ratings to assess their likelihood of being repaid and adjust interest rates accordingly.

In spite of improved regulation and reduced offshore activities, Costa Rica's financial system remains
comparatively weak due to high and increasing financial
dollarization and lower capital adequacy, said the company. In this context, economic slowdown and continued currency pressure could weaken the financial system, potentially leading to contingent liabilities in light of considerable state participation in the banking system, it added.

Strengthening of the monetary and exchange rate policy framework could benefit Costa Rica's ability to cope with external shocks and, in turn, its creditworthiness, Fitch said.

Passage of revenue-enhancing legislation along with continued fiscal discipline is also critical to supporting Costa Rica's ratings as economic growth decelerates, the company said. Several new tax proposals are in the Asamblea Legislativa.

The company also said that if Costa Rica's international reserves weaken, this could affect its ratings. The firm also warned against "an inappropriate policy response to the ongoing economic slowdown."

The Óscar Arias administration is borrowing extensively to develop infrastructure and to repair bridges and roads damaged by flooding and the Jan. 8 earthquake. In addition, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad will be the beneficiary of a $500 million loan. Some $117.5 million is headed to the state banks to increase liquidity. The World Bank also said that Costa Rica could have a $500 million credit line.

Like the world bank, most of the country's credit comes from international development banks.

PriceSmart will stop using plastic bags for shoppers' purchases March 2
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

PriceSmart in Costa Rica will stop putting shoppers' purchases in plastic bags March 2, the company said.

José Luis Laparte, the company president, said that the 25 PriceSmart stores distribute 90 million plastic bags each year and this translated to 750 tons of plastic.

He said that the petroleum content of the plastic is not good for the environment and that thousands of marine animals die each year because of plastic bags. He also noted that
such plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade in landfills.

Laparte promoted the use of the blue cloth bags on sale at the stores and promised whatever savings the company gets by not using plastic bags will be passed on to the customers.

Four of the 25 PriceSmart stores are in Costa Rica: in Zapote, Escazú, Heredia and Llorente de Tibás. A fifth is under construction in Alajuela. The firm has headquarters in San Diego, California. The stores here are favored by expats because they carry many items imported from the United States.

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Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 32

New luxury hotel, The Beacon, opens in Escazú
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new hotel has opened in Escazú. It is The Beacon Escazú some 300 meters west of the Municipalidad and the Parque Central in Escazú.

The local manager is Autumn Maher, and the hotel is part of the K Hotels organization based in Los Angeles.

In a press release K Hotels said the hotel features architecture with an exotic, vibrant Spanish aesthetic that is flawlessly merged with old Colonial and modern design. The hotel was characterized as a five-star boutique property.

There are 27 guest rooms and an outside pool. Also featured are The Muse Restaurant with international cuisine prepared by chef Jean Pierre Peiny, business and fitness centers, spa facilities, bar, wine cellar, cigar room and lounge area. The hotel also has a 900-square foot
hotel entrance
The new Beacon Escazú

master suite and a smaller junior suite. The hotel also boasts that it has 300 thread-count Italian sheets. It's Web site is

Chávez appears to have won passage of end to term limits
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan electoral officials say President Hugo Chávez has won a referendum on lifting term limits which would allow him to stay in power as long as he keeps winning elections.

Officials say that with most of the ballots counted, 54 percent of Venezuelans backed the president's proposal.

Election officials have begun tallying the results from electronic voting machines used in Sunday's vote. Chávez called for the vote, saying he needed more time in office to complete work on his socialist-inspired revolution.

Before the polls closed, trucks carrying loudspeakers circulated in some Caracas neighborhoods, calling on people to vote in favor of the measure. Opposition leaders condemned the acts, saying government supporters were violating a ban on political campaigning on election day.

In the Buena Vista neighborhood of Caracas, Jacquelin Del
Hoyo says she voted against the measure. She says she supported Hugo Chávez when he was first elected president in 1998, but that she has been disappointed since then.

Ms. Del Hoyo points out that the people already rejected this measure once, and say that now Chávez is asking voters to change their minds. "No means no," she said.

In December 2007, voters rejected a broad package of reforms, which included a similar proposal to end term limits. Analysts say one reason for the defeat was low voter turnout among traditional government supporters.

Earlier Sunday, retiree Eduardo Trujillo said he backed the measure, but that he was unsure whether he would cast a ballot because he is upset with the tone of politics in Venezuela. He said he supports Chávez because of his social welfare programs.

Trujillo said that in the past 10 years, the government has increased pension payments and expanded the program to include all retirees.

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Costa Rica
fifth news page

Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Feb. 16, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 32

A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages
Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.

The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.

A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.

Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us
Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us
Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

Constitutional court ousts
residents of Ostional refuge

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has ordered the eviction within six months of any occupant living illegally in the  Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional.

The order does not apply to anyone who has been living there since before 1983 when the refuge was created. The order also does not apply to those involved in research, protection of the local turtle nests, training or ecotourism, said the Poder Judicial.

The case was brought to the court by a resident of Nicoya who objected to the fact that an overall plan had not been drafted for the management of the area. The court ordered that such a plan be created by the Area de Conservación Tempisque

U.S. tourist dies in fall

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. tourist died early Friday when he fell from the third-floor balcony of his hotel room.

He was identified by friends as Jeremy Beckman. The hotel is located in San Miguel on the far Pacific coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. The case is being handled as an accident.

Rights groups urge end
to speech ban on religions

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The basic human right to freedom of expression is increasingly under threat as countries introduce and enforce laws that have been wrongfully legitimized by numerous United Nations resolutions on "defamation of religions,"  Freedom House said in a statement sent to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Freedom House and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty strongly urged members of the council to reject any further resolutions when they meet in Geneva for the upcoming 10th Session March 2-27, and to further reject any attempts to create international instruments or mechanisms that would prohibit “defamation of religions.”

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us
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