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Amigo Realty
Perrien Group
(506) 2223-1327                     Published Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 42                Email us
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Jo Stuart

                Rica real estate

Tax collectors again change the rules of the game
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

How many expats who pay Costa Rican income tax know that today is the deadline for telling the government where the money was made and spent in the 2011-2012 fiscal year?

They might be forgiven for being confused because the nation's tax collectors have instituted rules and then changed them at the last minute.

The most recent switch was the requirement that taxpayers report every expenditure made in the fiscal year on a form D-151.  Every expenditure meant right down to the last cup of coffee.

The Dirección General de Tributación, an agency of the Ministerio de Hacienda, issued that rule in October after the tax year had finished. Observers thought the system was unworkable even then. The agency seems to have agreed now.

Under the proposed plan, anyone who was filing a tax return had to list all the expenditures that they were planning to deduct. Tributación would use its computers to match up the expenses with those who provided services or material to double check those tax returns. The system is a little backwards because tax returns were due to be filed Dec. 17.

The form D-151 deadline was pushed forward several months in anticipation that taxpayers would have to do a lot more book work.
Cooler heads prevailed, and the agency returned to its original policy. Now taxpayers must report payments to a single vendor that amounted to 2.5 million colons or more during the tax year. In the case of rents, professional fees, commissions and interest the threshold is just 50,000 colons. That's about the cost of one visit to a dentist. Tributación is desperately trying to reduce tax cheating.

Studies have shown that professionals are the ones most likely to fail to report income. To attack this, the agency is instituting a plan for electronic facturas or invoices.

The lawyer, physician or dentist will run the payment through a centralized computer system where the data will be available to tax inspectors.

Taxpayers this year also have to itemize on the D-151 form income from a single source of 2.5 million colons or more. The report has to be submitted via the tax department's special computer program. Paper forms are not being accepted. Those who do not file can face heavy fines. There also are fines for each error in the document.

Once previously the tax department sponsored a law that said that the D-151 had to be submitted quarterly. Again officials changed their minds at the last minute without much publicity and voided the law with a decree. Most of the information on tax policy is not disseminated to the public but provided to tax professionals.

Union unhappy that 2014 ballots will be outsourced
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's public employee union is asking election officials to reverse the decision to have a transnational firm print the 2014 ballots for president and the legislature.

The union, the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, said that the decision taken last month appears to be anti-union and even if the ballots cost more to print here at the Imprenta Nacional, the money would go to the government.

The Imprenta Nacional in La Uruca is facing reduced workloads since agency officials decided to put the La Gaceta official newspaper only on the Web and eliminate the daily printed editions. There have been work stoppages and threats of more.

The union letter, signed by Albino Vargas Barrantes, secretary general, said that various clauses in the election law require the work to be done by the Imprenta Nacional. It also identified the firm contracted to do the work as R. R. Donnelley. 

The firm has a local subsidiary, R. R. Donnelley de Costa Rica, S.A.

The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones reported that more than 3 million persons for the first time are eligible to vote.  In addition to ballots for the presidency, there are ballots for legislature, and they are specific to the various provinces and communities where many local political parties seek votes.

There also are all kinds of informative material for voters. Vargas estimated that the job would require 3,750,000 ballots for the presidency and a similar amount for legislators for the first round of voting. If there is not a clear winner, another set of ballots would be needed for the runoff.

The Tribunal notes on its Web site that there are just 339 days remaining before the next election.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 42
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Professional Directory
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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Real estate agents and services

                                                  del Sol
Jim Day, retirement specialist Representing Colinas del Sol del Pacifico, S. A
A fenced and gated project with the ex-pat hortaculturalist in mind. There are 88 clear-title hobby farms with water and electricity.  The layout is designed to provide ample space for your vegetable gardening ands fruit tree projects.
You can see more on our Web site:
 Libertad, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, 15 minutes to Playa del Coco or Playa Hermosa
and 20 minutes to Liberia airport.
Please contact Jim Day at   or    Phone:  001 517 484-3675.

Grecia logo
Grecia Real Estate
Here in Costa Rica, Central America , the most beautiful houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
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Contact Christian Arce in English:
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Contact Luis G. Jiménez in Spanish:
Cell phone (506) 8707-4016
Send us your request to our email:

CR Beach

CR Beach Investment Real Estate
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Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
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Tel: (323) 255-6116




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A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

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Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
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Legal services
Attorney At Law – CPA

Mario Valverde
Everything you need to do and stay in business in Costa Rica. We'll incorporate you, take care of your immigration status, get your legal permits and licenses, keep your books and taxes and represent you in any legal process, either civil, commercial, criminal, tax, labor, family and torts.
We've been helping people like you since 1986.
Contact us at: (506) 2215-0001; (506) 8312-3087

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U.S. Tax International

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Over 15 years in Costa Rica
(English Spoken)
C.R. 2288-2201   U.S 786-206-9473
FAX: 2231-3300

U.S. Income Tax
David G. Housman Attorney & C.P.A
in Costa Rica 32 years.
Specializing in all matters of concern to U.S. taxpayers residing abroad, including all new passport and other
I.R.S.  filling requirements foreign income tax exclusion (to $95,100 per year) for all back years. Taxpayers filling past-due tax returns before I.R.S. notice do not face criminal sanctions
• Associate of James Brohl
Phone: (506) 2239-2005 Fax 2239-2437

E mail:

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

Uncle Sam's
• US Tax return preparation  for
individuals and businesses
• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
Income Tax Exclusion (up to $
95,100 in 2012}
• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting
• Associate of David Housman

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

Our readers' opinions
Sugar cane burning is all part
of the experience in rural areas

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It has always been problematic for me when people move to a farming community and complain about the odor of the pigs or cattle being raised.  If you don’t like the odor of a farm, move somewhere else.
Burning of cane fields is not a tourist problem.  Tourists who choose to visit cane farm areas in burning season is the problem.  Pick a different – and just as lovely – spot in Costa Rica for your visit!  Tourism operators, tell your charters to pick another location!

As to carbon neutrality, have you ever followed one of the local buses?  The ones belching black smoke?  Or driven through San José where traffic fumes are everywhere?  Let the government regulate traffic emissions first, then pick on farming areas.

Cane farms provide employment and exportable products.  Burning is a fast and easy way to keep workers safer and production costs lower.  If environmentalists want to collect debris to burn for fuel, I suggest they try working through the cane fields, dodging terciapelo and avoiding the bites of insects that carry dengue and malaria.  If they dare.

Victoria Torley

He proposes a boycott
of the airport in Liberia

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Watch Out for Liberia airport in Costa Rica.

For expats departing Costa Rica, it is usually more economical to fly out of San José than Liberia by up to $200.  The downside is that most of the U.S.-bound flights out of Liberia are in the afternoon in comparison to the San José flights  which are usually in the early a.m. which could facilitate an overnight stay, but there are bed & breakfast hotels which do offer transportation to the airport.

You also have to watch out for the duty free stores that give bad information on the quantity of alcohol and tobacco products you can legally take.  I have experienced exaggeration on several trips which is in excess of what is allowed to bring into the U.S., which creates a real hassle with U.S. customs.

If for some reason your luggage is misplaced coming into Liberia, and it arrives on a different flight/different day, the airline will assure delivery of it to you. But they fail to make clear that it goes directly to airport customs, where they open it and rummage through it, and anything they consider of value. They want to stamp your passport, which makes you have to wait six months to bring any other items or make any purchases at duty free. Worst of all, you will be forced to make another trip to the airport to claim what is rightfully yours. 

The irony of all of this is that customs will not release the baggage to be returned to the airline until the passenger appears in person with their passport to have it stamped.  The airport customs makes their own interpretation of the law and feels that any item(s) worth between $1 to $500 that you get your passport stamped, and their sentiments is that you should bring as many items as possible as long as total value is less than $500 dollars and receipts to show proof that it does not exceed that max amount or they will in turn provide their value of the merchandise which would be much more than the actual purchase price in the U.S.  

So it's very important to have receipts to show proof.  Note the actual stamp on the passport clearly shows an allotted space to list the monetary value of the items which they simply leave blank, which lends to confirmation that the Tico employees of customs do not have the capacity to perform basic arithmetic.  Basically, everyone traveling would be carrying items of some monetary value.

As far as the Liberia airport is concerned, not much thought went into vehicle short- and long term parking despite having adequate land.  Also, should you need handicap assistance such as a wheelchair, you have to wait until you are in line and arrive at the ticket counter to ask the airline directly for this assistance.  There is no seating at all on the lower level where you see passengers off and passengers arriving, despite the government of Costa Rica collecting millions of dollars in airport tax in addition to a $29 departure tax from Costa Rica.

Hopefully, if Liberia Airport is boycotted enough, somebody will see the light and amend their ways. But at present, the reception to raise legitimate concerns is to have the employees there simply turn their back on you and walk away.

John Kouns

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

Costa Rican news summaries are disabled
on archived pages.

Have you seen these stories?
From A.M. Costa Rica

Top story news feeds are disabled on archived pages.


Expats moving
and have items for sale

Barrio Dent, 200m west
of Mall San Pedro north door.
Friday and Saturday
Call for exact directions: 8635-8838

                Rey Hotel

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
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unique visitors
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in up to 90 countries.

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 42
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High season occupancy reported to be worse than expected
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new survey report by the national tourism chamber showed that even in the most popular areas hotel occupancy was below 50 percent during December and January.

Those months are considered the peak of the high season and this also is the time youngsters are out of school and Costa Rican families are likely to go on vacation.

The survey results showed that the situation was even more grim on the Caribbean coast, the northern zone and the central Valley where occupancy was under 30 percent.

The Cámera Nacional de Turismo surveyed 152 hospitality firms all over the country during February. The firms represent 5,600 hotel rooms, the chamber said.

Despite the results, the chamber said that 40.6 percent of the respondents characterized tourism as normal and that only 6.6 percent said it was very bad.

As is typical, less expensive hotels and other hospitality operations attracted the highest number of customers. One-star hotels reported 56.2 percent occupancy, and two-star operations reported 44.1 percent.

Smaller operations also seemed to be preferred with those with 50 to 100 rooms reporting a 62.8 percent occupancy. Hotels with 200 or more rooms said the occupancy rate was just 15.6 percent.

The larger and more expensive operations are those that cater to foreign tourists, who appear to be in short supply this year.

The survey shows that hospitality operators perhaps were over optimistic last December when they estimated their occupancy for the Christmas season. At the time a survey of 142 operations showed the company officials anticipated 76 percent occupancy.

A chamber survey of occupancy from December 2011 to last March showed a rate of 70.5 percent.

The tourism industry has been hard hit by world economic conditions. But the central government also sees tourists as a
Reported Occupancy
December to January 2013*

Central Pacific
South Pacific
Central Valley
Northern plains
*Cámera Nacional de Turismo data

source of income and has increased various taxes. For example, the tax to leave the country now is $29, which means a family of five would have to pay $145 just to pass through a national airport.

In addition, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo has been paying for the Policía de Turismo under an agreement with the security ministry.

Arecent study by the INCAE Business School said that the industry had a weak strategy.

The tourism institute came in for criticism online in the Web site of the new Asociacion Para La Proteccion Del Turismo en Costa Rica for plastering the subways in Madrid, Spain, with photos of a tropical bird that does not even live in Costa Rica. The campaign cost $300,000.

An earlier campaign featuring a talking sloth and trip giveaways did not seem to have much impact in tourism numbers.

Tourism operators themselves also seem to be challenged in promotion and seem to rely on cheaper, less effective marketing techinques.

Supermarket prices are found to be highly variable
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The economics ministry did a study of supermarket prices, and the results reinforce the dictum that shoppers need to be aware.

The survey found price differences of up to 161 percent in identical food items. It also found that some beach dwellers pay top prices. Playa Herradura was the most expensive place to buy an assortment of goods called the basic basket.

The survey covered 40 supermarkets, 30 that were parts of chains and 10 independents, during the first two weeks of February. Prices on 53 articles were checked.

The same items purchased in the Palí market in Heredia would cost 95,132 colons or about $191.22. But at the Automercado in Playa Herradura, the surveyors found that the price would be 121,127 colons or $243.47.
The items included fresh meat and fish, cleaning products, personal care items, bread, lard, vegetable oil and even sliced lunch meats.

In one case, checking prices on similar items, surveyors found a difference of 720 percent on a toothbrush.

In the case of white cheese, the survey found a difference of 163 percent.  Even tilapia had prices that varied by 93 percent.

Of course, all the price differences are not profit to the stores.

Merchants set their prices based on their costs, so that a store where the operator pays a much higher rent will see prices on the high side. In addition, stores that cater to expats usually carry a greater variety of products and also charge higher prices. The full survey is available on the Web site of the Ministerio de Economía Industria y Comercio.

Del Rey Hotel

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 42
Real Estate
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Vapor at volcano ruled
to be normal activity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Vapor put out by the Volcán Rincón de la Vieja probably is normal and there are not other signs of eruption, said the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico at Universidad Nacional.

Experts from the national emergency commission flew over the volcano Tuesday and said that heavy clouds kept them from seeking the crater. However, they said they failed to detect any indications of slides on the sides of the crater. In addition, neighbors of the mountain have not heard any loud noises that suggest an eruption, the Observatorio said.

The volcano and a national park by the same name are in north central Costa Rica. The mountain has been active with some eruptions throwing material out of the crater into a nearby river. The volcano was reported waking from a long slumber in September 2011. Since then it has been under observation.

The report early Tuesday of vapor came from local police.

Two held in trafficking case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Frontier police chased and captured men in two vehicles in  Santa Cecilia de La Cruz and said the drivers were suspects of trafficking Nicaraguans.

In addition to allegations of trafficking in persons, the two drivers face fines for having vehicles that have not been inspected, said police. In addition police detained five Nicaraguan men who were passengers.

Pessimism in older adults
might mean longer lives

By the American Psychological Association news staff

Older people who have low expectations for a satisfying future may be more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who see brighter days ahead, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

"Our findings revealed that being overly optimistic in predicting a better future was associated with a greater risk of disability and death within the following decade," said lead author Frieder R. Lang of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany. "Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions." The study was published online in the journal Psychology and Aging.

Lang and colleagues examined data collected from 1993 to 2003 for the national German Socio-Economic Panel, an annual survey of private households consisting of approximately 40,000 people 18 to 96 years old. The researchers divided the data according to age groups: 18 to 39 years old, 40 to 64 years old and 65 years old and above. Through mostly in-person interviews, respondents were asked to rate how satisfied they were with their lives and how satisfied they thought they would be in five years.

Five years after the first interview, 43 percent of the oldest group had underestimated their future life satisfaction, 25 percent had predicted accurately and 32 percent had overestimated, according to the study. Based on the average level of change in life satisfaction over time for this group, each increase in overestimating future life satisfaction was related to a 9.5 percent increase in reporting disabilities and a 10 percent increased risk of death, the analysis revealed.

Because a darker outlook on the future is often more realistic, older adults’ predictions of their future satisfaction may be more accurate, according to the study. In contrast, the youngest group had the sunniest outlook while the middle-aged adults made the most accurate predictions, but became more pessimistic over time.

"Unexpectedly, we also found that stable and good health and income were associated with expecting a greater decline compared with those in poor health or with low incomes," Lang said. "Moreover, we found that higher income was related to a greater risk of disability."

The findings do not contradict theories that unrealistic optimism about the future can sometimes help people feel better when they are facing inevitable negative outcomes, such as terminal disease, according to the authors. "We argue, though, that the outcomes of optimistic, accurate or pessimistic forecasts may depend on age and available resources," Lang said. "These findings shed new light on how our perspectives can either help or hinder us in taking actions that can help improve our chances of a long healthy life."

That neck pain might come
from texting and cell phones

By the University of Nebraska Medical Center news staff

In today's technology-thirsty society, it's common to see someone with their head down texting on their cell phone or reading the latest status updates on Facebook.

However, too much texting and tilting the head down can become a pain in the neck for some people.

"People get so focused on these devices that they end up holding their neck and upper back in abnormal positions for a long period of time; enough that other people coined the phrase 'text neck,' which is essentially referring to postural pain," said Chris Cornett, orthopaedic surgeon and spine specialist. He is with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

The term, text neck, is defined as overuse syndrome involving the head, neck and shoulders, usually resulting from excessive strain on the spine from looking in a downward position at hand held devices such as cell phones, mp3 players, e-readers and computer tablets.

"When you hold your body in an abnormal position, it can increase stress on the muscles, cause fatigue, muscle spasms and even stress headaches," Cornett said. "With every degree of motion to the front or side that you move your head, the stress on your neck is magnified beyond just the weight of the head."
A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

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

Real estate for rent (paid category)
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.

Looking 4 Costa Rica Villas?
Rent our all-inclusive, 7 bedroom rental home in Guanacaste.  Just 20 minutes from the Liberia airport, this deluxe ocean view mansion sleeps 6-22 guests.  Ideal for company events & Costa Rica weddings. With 3 meals served daily and a full-time staff to pamper guests, it's more than a Costa Rica vacation rental ...It's your own Private Resort!  Call toll free: 1-800-606-1860.

Lovely cottage on private coffee farm
One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
Sarchi cottage
balcony with beautiful view, especially at night with the far off lights of San José. Farm is gated and guarded, private and peaceful, owner on-site. Sarchi is a quiet small town about 30-40 min from the airport, a perfect base to explore from and also get a
feel for normal, day-to-day Tico life. Rental is $575 per month, 3 months minimum. All utilities included. Shorter stays at $45 per night, 2 nights minimum. $225 per week, and $30 per additional night. Sorry, no pets.  Contact or 8308-7732.

                                    rental properties
Homes for rent
in Palmares, Alajuela

Visit our Web page for more information.

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished large 2-bedroom
apartment view
apartment. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Convenient location in downtown, San José. All bills paid except electric. $600 per month. Contact: or call 8555-9819.

We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

Beautiful Golfito house for rent
in Costa Rica: $300/month

Available now and please see the video!
New construction includes some wooden stairs to the main gate and a small pavilion above the house overlooking the village. The distance to Golfito harbor/downtown is 7 kms and you can get there by car, taxi or bus. The rent is $300/month, which is very reasonable for those who want to live near sea and Panamá in an inexpensive lifestyle. It was so nice to live near Panamá where people can shop for much lower prices including for groceries. Please contact me at for more details. Thank you.

Palacio condo
Beautiful 2-bedroom, 2-bath modern condo for rent.
(Only 6 years old).
Great Secure Area, Next to 5-Star Hotel Palacio (La Uruca). Gated community, 24-hour security, 5 minutes to San José. Swimming Pool, washer/dryer, covered parking, high-speed Internet, cable TV, home phone! $900 per month, fully furnished, 6-Month minimum! Please Call: 001-954-782-0200 or email

Volcano View!
Santo Domingo de Heredia, gated community
Fully furnished, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, cable, internet, hot water tank. 300 meters from Mas x Menos supermarket. 700 meters from farmers' market. Bus stop at gate. $600 all utilities paid. Available Jan. 1.

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.


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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 42
Real Estate
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Guy Fawkes masks now illegal
in the Kingdom of Bahrain

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Kingdom of Bahrain has taken the unusual step of banning the importation of stylized Guy Fawkes masks, which were made popular in the 2005 movie "V for Vendetta." In the movie, the main character, who seeks to overthrow the British government, wears the mask.

Bahrain’s minister of industry and commerce, Hassan Fakhro, announced the ban saying anyone who is caught importing the mask faces arrest.

The masks have become a global symbol of protest, and the de facto symbols of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement and the Anonymous online activist group. The mask also was frequently seen in many protests during the so-called Arab Spring as well as in the London riots of 2011.

Abbas Al Omran, a member of the British-based Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said he didn't think the ban would have much effect, as there are already many of the masks already in Bahrain, and the masks can still be sneaked in or even made at home.

In the United States, the masks are readily available online for less than $10.

Bahrain is the second Gulf state to ban the masks. Last November, the United Arab Emirates also forbid wearing the iconic masks.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has been dealing with internal dissent since 2011 when Shi’ite groups demanded democratic reforms and an end to what they said was the Sunni monarchy's discrimination against them.

Bahrain's government put down the demonstrations in March 2011, sending security forces to clear a protest encampment in Manama and inviting in troops from neighboring Sunni-led Gulf states to restore order.

No determination yet in death
of adopted Russian tot, 3

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Medical Examiner's Office in Ector County, Texas is continuing its investigation into the death of a three-year-old Russian adopted child even though they have had the autopsy results for a week.  Authorities are providing little information on what they have learned so far.

The investigation into the death of 3-year-old Max Shatto has been in a holding pattern since his body was sent to the Tarrant County, Texas, Medical Examiner's office, in  the city of Fort Worth Jan. 22, the day after he died. The office in Fort Worth sent an autopsy report to the Medical Examiner in Ector County, which has jurisdiction in the case, last week.

Ector County, in west Texas, does not have a facility for doing autopsies. But Linda Anderson, spokeswoman for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office, where the autopsy was done, says authorities there will have to make the final determination of how the child died.

“We just did the autopsy and we then send the information to them. If they want to continue to investigate, they can do that, before they release their report," said Anderson.

She says it is not unusual to have an autopsy report take several weeks because of the time needed for toxicology and body chemistry test results, which are included in the final report sent to the investigating authorities.

“We give them the cause of death and then we give them a suggested manner of death, our opinion on what was the manner of death, but then it is ultimately up to them as to how they rule it, as far as the manner is concerned," she said.

The man heading the investigation is Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson, but he says he cannot proceed until the report is on his desk.

“The designated medical examiner for Ector County has to make his final determination and then send it to me and that is when we go from there," Donaldson.

The Medical Examiner for Ector County is Nathan Galloway, but his office is not providing any information to journalists, referring all questions back to Sheriff Donaldson.

The sheriff says representatives of the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Russian consulate in Houston have been in contact and that Sergey Chumarev, senior counselor for the Russian embassy came to his office in the city of Odessa, Texas, a couple of weeks ago and spoke to one of his deputies.

Political figures in Russia have charged that the adoptive parents of Max Shatto, Alan and Laura Shatto, were responsible for his death and have asked that his younger brother, Kristopher, who was also adopted by the couple, be removed from the home. But the U.S. State Department has cautioned that no judgment should be made until the investigation is complete and state officials monitoring the home have found no reason to remove the remaining child.

Meantime, Texas Child Protective Services is investigating the agency that handled the adoption for the Shattos, the Gladney Adoption Center in Fort Worth, to make sure all proper procedures were followed. Texas officials say the 127-year-old private agency remains in good standing, but that licensing inspectors did find some errors in procedure in four cases last year in which children were sent to homes before the background check on the adopting parents was complete.

Van Cliburn, renowned pianist,
dies after 75-year career

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Classical pianist Van Cliburn, 78, died Wednesday.  The legendary performer was only 23 years old when he captured the world's attention by winning the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. In addition to performing decades of concerts and recording numerous albums, he fostered the careers of young artists by creating several scholarship programs and establishing the annual Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. 

In 1958, Van Cliburn became an instant celebrity when he won the Tchaikovsky Competition. It caused a sensation for an American to win a Russian competition during the tense standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union known as the Cold War.

Cliburn’s triumph in the competition was celebrated not only by Americans, but by Russians. New York Times Moscow correspondent Max Frankel covered the competition and later wrote that “The Soviet public celebrated Cliburn not only for his artistry but for his nationality; affection for him was a safe expression of affection for America.”

Van Cliburn won the competition on the strength of his performance of the Tchaikovsky's "Concerto No. 1." 

When he returned to the United States, RCA Records released Cliburn’s debut album containing the prize-winning work.  The LP won a Grammy Award and sold more than one million copies, making Cliburn the first American artist to achieve platinum status with a debut release.  Van Cliburn demonstrated his profound love of the music he performed, but felt its popularity went beyond his technical abilities. 

"If you take a great piece of music into your heart, you take it for its great spiritual value," said  Cliburn. "And when you look at a wonderful piece of music, even though it may enjoy popularity, if you examine its pages very carefully, you will find the reason.  And it will always be a very good reason why it is popular.

President Barack Obama presented a 2010 National Medal of Arts to Cliburn, March 2, 2011, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

​​Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Cliburn began studying piano at age 3 with his mother, herself a talented pianist.  Cliburn made his orchestral debut at age 12 with the Houston Symphony and five years later earned a scholarship to New York's prestigious Juilliard School.  Following graduation, he spent several years performing with various major symphony orchestras, which led to his participation in Moscow's First International Tchaikovsky Competition.  Cliburn brought to his performance not only great musicianship and tremendous technical skill, but a determination to please his audience.

"You always want to play well," he said. "You're always hoping to play well.  And if you don't play well, YOU are the unhappiest person.  So, you want to please your audience and you hope that you're being true to the music and also true to those who want to hear you."

Cliburn dedicated many years of his life to helping aspiring young artists by creating scholarship programs at schools and universities throughout the world.  In 1962, he established the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas.  Over the years, the competition has enhanced the careers of numerous developing musicians.

More humane treatment
urged at border to U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Valentin Tachiquin banged nine times on a metal podium outside the U.S. Capitol Building, the number of times his daughter was shot to death by a border patrol agent last year.

“I’m not a politician, I’m a hurting dad,” Tachiquin, a Hispanic U.S. citizen who works as a corrections officer at the California Institution for Women, said Wednesday. “I would die for this country, but don’t kill my family just because you have a badge.”

​​Tachiquin is part of a group of civil and human rights activists, local politicians, business and religious leaders who traveled to Washington from communities along the Mexican and Canadian borders this week. They're urging members of Congress to take a more humane approach to border security in an upcoming immigration reform bill.

A bipartisan group of senators plans to propose the new legislation next month in a bid to better address how the U.S. stops immigrants from entering the country illegally and works with unauthorized immigrants already in the country.

Tachiquin said the border is now being patrolled by agents who lack training and haven’t had the proper background checks.

“I want Congress to implement new mechanisms so that the citizens of this country won’t be harassed by the Border Patrol Agency,” he said.

Tachiquin’s 32-year-old daughter Valeria Munique Tachiquin Alvarado, a U.S. citizen, was killed last September by an undercover border patrol agent in Chula Vista, California.

Police say the agent, dispatched to arrest a formerly deported felon embroiled in drug offenses, ended up shooting Ms. Tachiquin through her car windshield, fearing for his life, after she struck him with the vehicle. The case is still under investigation.

Concerns about the conduct of border agents have grown in recent years, as news outlets expose alleged abuses. Last year, for example, the PBS documentary “Crossing the Line” interviewed a series of witnesses and victims who spoke of torture and sexual and psychological abuse at the hands of border agents. It also showed hidden camera footage of agents pouring out water jugs an aid organization had left in the desert for dehydrated immigrants crossing the border from Mexico.

Jenny Burke, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the force stresses honor and integrity in every aspect of its mission.

“The overwhelming majority of CBP employees and officers perform their duties with honor and distinction, working tirelessly everyday to keep our country safe,” she said. “We do not tolerate corruption or abuse within our ranks, and we fully cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”

​​Customs and Border Protection has more than 18,500 agents on the border with Mexico and more than 2,200 on the border with Canada, according to the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, unmanned aircraft, helicopters and planes are flying overhead, while thermal imaging systems are in place and a fence stretching more than 1,000 kilometers divides the U.S. from Mexico.

Advocates of the current setup say Customs and Border Protection’s nearly $12 billion budget is well spent because the country is under siege from undocumented immigrants slipping across a porous border that could be penetrated by terrorists, too.

El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar says the border needs an economic boost, not more drones in the air and boots on the ground.

She also said taxpayer funds would be better spent on programs promoting commerce and tourism rather than what she called the militarization of the border.

“We need to divert the money to help our national economy,” she told the press conference.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat of El Paso, said the debate is often most fierce in the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee, where he holds a seat.

“You have people who feel the border is not secure enough and they want to further fortify and militarize the border. Then you have people like me, who live on the border in the safest city in America,” he said.

Despite this divide, O’Rourke said he felt optimistic that progress could be made after the committee's chairman, Michael McCaul, a Republican, noted Tuesday that the “border is as secure as it’s ever been.”

O’Rourke said because the border is relatively secure, it opens the possibility of discussing more comprehensive immigration reform, like the kind Tachiquin is pushing.

While members of Congress wage that battle in Washington, Tachiquin wants them to remember the people living that battle every day. “They need to recognize we’re only human.”
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Escazú medical practitioner
faces unlicensed allegation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained Wednesday a long-time Escazú expat who provided medical services.

He was identified as a German national with the last name of Hainnes. He faces an allegation of practicing medicine without the proper permissions.

The man, 60, has a medical office in his home and presented himself as a doctor of osteopathy. Although widely recognized in the world, such medical providers are not recognized by the Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos in Costa Rica, said agents.

Osteopathy involves the manipulation of muscles and body parts in order to cure diseases. Many osteopaths in the United States are fully-licensed physicians who provide all the services of a general medical practitioner as well as the manipulation. There is an uneasy truce there between medical doctors, known as M.Ds, and doctors of osteopathy, known as D.Os.

Hainnes came to Costa Rica in 1999, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents confiscated patient files and other material, they said.

Hainnes has a practice that includes expats. He is believed to be multi-lingual.

Bill to tax speculative funds
reported out of committee

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A legislative committee Wednesday reported out a bill that would allow a 30 percent exit tax on what is being described as foreign speculative capital.

The bill empowers the Banco Central de Costa Rica to apply the tax and related measures when it appears that the local economy is being affected by the inflow of foreign capital. Money is coming here now because Costa Rica has a relatively high interest rate for colons.

The tax would be leveled on non-residents, although that area is cloudy because foreign investors could have Costa Rican corporations. There also does not seem to be a recognition of the non-resident expats who live here part of the time and might even operate successful businesses.

The bill also might contravene the Central American Free Trade Treaty that provides for free flow of capital.

Another section of the bill regulates the foreign purchase of stocks and other financial paper in Costa Rica.

Four captured on high seas
let go by prosecutors here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial authorities have freed four Costa Ricans who the U.S. coast guard captured in international waters as drug smuggling suspects.

The nation's chief prosecutor said in an email relayed by the Poder Judicial that he does not have the legal authority to relinquish jurisdiction. After a short court appearance Wednesday the four were freed because prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence. The men threw packages into the sea when the U.S. ship neared.

They were believed to be smuggling marijuana into Costa Rica. Under a joint anti-drug agreement, Costa Rica has jurisdiction over those captured on the high seas in a boat flying the national flag.

When the men appeared to be on the verge of going free, the idea was advanced that Costa Rica surrender them to the United States for prosecution. That is why the fiscal general,  Jorge Chavarría, insisted that the law did not permit this.

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Seventh Newspage

San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 42
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High court reviewing Voting Rights Act

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

​​A key civil rights law from the 1960s that helped ensure minorities could vote is now under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the midst of the struggle for civil rights, particularly in the states of the Deep South where racial discrimination was widespread.  At that time, local officials were known for making it difficult for African-Americans to vote.

A key part of the law known as Section 5 gives the federal government the power to pre-approve or block changes in voting procedures put forward by states and local governments in areas where African-Americans historically faced enormous difficulties in voting.

Under the U.S. Constitution, states have most of the power when it comes to running elections.

The law has been re-authorized by Congress several times, most recently in 2006. But now some conservative groups and officials from some of the states affected by the law say the statute is outdated and no longer necessary.

Butch Ellis is county attorney for Shelby County, Alabama, which is challenging a key part of the Voting Rights Act. He spoke to reporters outside the high court.

“They have made great strides over the last 48 years," said Ellis. "I have been the county attorney since 1964. I was 24-years old when we came under Section 5 . I am 73 last weekend and we are still under the same formula, none of which has applied to us in many, many, many years.”

Some of the more conservative justices on the Supreme Court seemed to express skepticism about the law during oral arguments Wednesday. They question whether the remedy Congress agreed to in 1965 is still warranted nearly 50 years later.

The Voting Rights Act was a product of the bloody struggle for civil rights in the southern U.S. in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Civil rights groups and the Obama administration defended the law in oral arguments before the high court. They acknowledge  some progress on race relations has been made in the states covered by the law in the past several decades. But they also argue the law is still a useful tool to ensure that states and local jurisdictions protect the right of all Americans to vote, regardless of race.

​​Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, was badly beaten in 1965 while leading a march for voting rights in Alabama.  He spoke in front of the Supreme Court.

“We have come a great distance since then due in large part to the Voting Rights Act," he said. "Some people like to point to the fact that we have minorities in the Congress and that we have an African-American president. But we are not there yet!”

Legal analysts regard the Voting Rights Act as one of the landmark civil rights laws of the 1960s. David Savage covers the Supreme Court for the Los Angeles Times. He spoke to the CSPAN public affairs TV network.

“This law was so important in American history. Everybody agrees, even the people who criticize it today, agree that the Voting Rights Act was one of the great civil rights laws of American history because it really allowed minorities to register to vote and have their votes count,” he said.

Savage said the Supreme Court must now decide whether enough progress has been made that a key provision of the law is no longer necessary.

“The only question now is, is its time past?  Is it outdated?  I think the conservative members of the court might be inclined to say this was a good law, but its time is past and you can no longer put the Deep South under this special scrutiny of the courts,” Savage said

Legal analysts say the voting-rights challenge is among the most important cases the high court will deal with this term.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case before the end of June.

Universal gun buyer checks debated

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. lawmakers debating measures to curb gun violence are considering a law requiring background checks on everyone wanting to purchase a firearm. The current law requires such checks only for people who want to buy firearms from federally-licensed gun dealers, but exempts private transactions.

A series of high-profile shootings in the United States has prompted lawmakers to take a closer look at gun control laws.

President Barack Obama has put forward a plan to reduce gun violence that includes background checks for all gun sales. In a statement in January, the White House said "studies estimate that nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt" from background checks.

Analysts have mixed opinions on whether an expansion of the law would help curb gun violence.

Jim Kessler is the co-founder of Third Way, a Washington-based policy group. Speaking on a radio program, he said the law allowing private gun sales has backfired.

"It has really become a loophole in the law that has allowed a lot of things to occur that probably were not anticipated when the law was passed," Kessler said. "Closing that, in my view, would be a significant move that could really go a long way towards reducing crime in the country and could help prosecute a lot of other federal gun crimes."

Harry Wilson is director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College and the author of "Guns, Gun Control, and Elections: The Politics and Policy of Fire Arms." He said on the same radio show that some gun owners oppose universal background checks because they fear it would lead to a national gun registration program.

"The gun registry is what frightens a lot of people because then we start down the slippery slope." said Wilson. "Now the government knows who owns guns.  This is in the minds of some people the first step toward confiscation of firearms in the United States.  So, there is that fear."

That fear is unfounded, said Kessler.  "It is not hard to do universal background checks and not have any type of registry. You just do the checks through gun stores," he said. "The gun store keeps the record just as any other record.  That’s all that would be done.  There would be no national registry."

But Wilson sees another problem with background checks. He said such checks would close the so-called loophole that allows for the private sale of weapons at gun shows.  And this, he said, would not necessarily reduce crime.

"Criminals get their firearms generally through relatives, through friends and very often through straw purchasers - people who will buy the gun, who legally can purchase the gun, and then either give it to or sell it to someone who cannot," Wilson said.

Kessler acknowledges that violent criminals do not necessarily go to gun shows, but he said they may rely on traffickers who do.

"There is actually a massive web of gun trafficking in this country that gets guns from the legal market to illegal market, and the private sale is the lubricant that allows it to occur, including gun shows, " he said.

A poll released by Quinnipiac University in February said 92 percent of American voters supported universal background checks on gun purchases. But, it is a proposal that has drawn sharp criticism from the National Rifle Association.

​​"Proposing more gun laws while failing to enforce the thousands we already have is not a serious solution for reducing crime," Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, told a Senate committee in January, adding that there are other ways to reduce crime.

Despite the political strength of the NRA, recent mass shootings could be a turning point in the debate.

Former U.S. congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords also spoke at the same January committee hearing as LaPierre. She urged lawmakers to be "bold," and "courageous" and pass tighter gun control laws. Giffords was shot in the brain during a 2011 attack. Her assailant, who showed signs of mental illness for years, purchased his gun at a local store.
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Juan Santamaría in Alajuela
Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia
Other airports of the world

Weather and disasters
Current weather

Instituto Meteorological Nacional
Instituto Meteorological

U.S. National
Information Service



Turrialba volcano
Live camera
on Turrialba volcano

Arenal volcano is HERE!
but it is out of service

World Earthquakes


Live reports of quakes
recorder display
Instituto Nacional
de Seguros

Vehicle inspection

Riteve link
Policeía de Tránsito
Policía de Tránsito
Highway info

Autopista del Sol
Web Page

Autopista del Sol

Dirección General
de Miración
main page is HERE!

Appointment to renew
cédulas for residents
900-00-DIMEX (900-00-34639)
Or click HERE!

Banco de Costa Rica
Community groups
Association of Residents of Costa Rica
Community alliance
Apdo 384-4250
San Ramón de Alajuela, Costa Rica
Phone: 8333-8750

Real Estate
About us
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