A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language 
news source
Monday through Friday

(506) 223-1327        Published Wednesday, March 1, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 43          E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
About us

Taxi fares are about to increase 6 percent
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Taxi rates are going up again, and riders will pay 6 percent more once the new prices are published in the official la Gaceta in a few days.

The regulating authority coupled the announcement with a strong warning that the rate does not depend on the nationality of the passenger, association with a hotel or the time of day.

The rate for the first kilometer or less is going from 330 colons to 350 or 70 U.S. cents. Subsequent kilometers will be charged at 320 colons instead of 300. Hourly rates for waiting or delay also increased.

Rural taxis will be able to charge 350 colons for the second and subsequent kilometer, also
a 6 percent increase from the previous rural rate.

Reacting to complaints it has received, the Authoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos also warned that every taxi must have a meter and follow the published rates. Hotel taxis generally do not have such devices and generally charge what the traffic will bear.

Taxi drivers, however, are able to quote flat rates for long hauls, like a trip from downtown San José to Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela.

Some taxi drivers have been charging extra when they have to travel bad roads. This, too, is not permitted, said the authority.

The next review of taxi rates and a likely increase will be in August, the authority said.

Private drivers win then draw in rules fight
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legion of Costa Rica's private drivers descended on legislators Tuesday and won an initial victory. But their success did not hold.

Hundreds, perhaps a thousand, of the so-called porteadores brought their vehicles to the center of the city and disrupted traffic through the morning and early afternoon.

They were unhappy with a measure being considered by the Comisión Permanente de Gobierno y Administración that would change the commercial code to eliminate the section that permitted them to work.

Unlike operators of licensed public taxis, the porteadores work on contract and usually pick passengers up at their homes. Public taxi drivers frequently complain that they actually are pirate cabbies and take customers off the street.

In the face of the protest, the commission agreed to throw out the proposed change in the law, and spokespersons for the porteadores expressed their pleasure.

However not long after, Ricardo Toledo, a committee member, reintroduced the failed measure during a meeting of the full Asamblea Legislativa. Toledo said the 60-year-old commercial code must be changed because these drivers are not transporting cargo or animals but people.

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Contract drivers pose near their vehicles

The change had been initiated by the executive branch.

Unlike public taxi drivers, the porteadores do not have to have special insurance, taxi meters or vehicle inspections twice a year.

More than 20,000 families depend on income from the porteadores, lawmakers were told.

exchange rate
to our
daily digest

our site

Send us
a news story

Real estate ads

Ads for

ad info

ad info

Contact us
Our stats

in Grecia
Buy • sell • trade

books — movies — CDs music — maps

or click

A great place
for your ad

A.M. Costa Rica

Second news page

Click HERE for photo tour of 526 properties for SALE or RENT.

Beautiful home on top of a hill in Escazú. View that extends all the way to the Pacific ocean. A great design for a family. Very secure. $290,000.00

(506) 290-7667


Place a classified ad
Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 1, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 43

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Click HERE for great hotel discounts

Our readers' opinions

Her daughter was clipped
by excessive phone rate

Dear A.M. Costa Rica;

I read your column in Tuesday's edition about phone overpricing in CR with great interest. Last year, our daughter visited your beautiful country for the
month of January, taking courses with our university. We did not hear from her for three weeks due to lack of phone service in the remote areas she was 

We comforted ourselves with the fact that she was with her professor and his wife as well as many fellow students, and if all was not well, we would have heard from them. But it was with great relief that we received a collect call from her late one evening. She had found a phone sitting on an office desk in the study area of Monteverde where they were staying and arranged a call home in Spanish. We only talked for about twenty minutes, but it was wonderful to hear her voice and hear of some of her adventures.

When we opened our phone bill a few weeks later, we were shocked that we had been charged over $150 for that one call!! I contacted our local phone company and the Federal Communictions Commision to no avail. I called the customer service number on the bill, only to be told that these are "fixed" prices that cannot be adjusted. 

Finally, I decided to write a letter to this "BBG" expressing our shock and dismay that an American company could fleece its customers this way and 
threatening legal action against them. CC'ing our lawyer, the FCC, our  Congressional representatives, the White House, and anyone else I could  think of didn't hurt either.

After three months of our refusing to pay their bill, they
adjusted it significantly, so we ended up owing "only" about $45.
Please advise your readers not to take this fleecing lightly. They have a voice and can protest and refuse to pay outrageous fees. Costa Rica really needs to modernize its phone service to make it more accessible and affordable to its tourists.

Our daughter was given a calling card as part of her  travel package that did not work anywhere until she returned to San José at the end of her trip. Not being able to contact loved ones, especially our young 
people, when they are traveling there is a source of much anguish at home.

Surely in this day and age, something can be done about this. Notwithstanding the phone problem, our daughter enjoyed her experience immensely and loved your beautiful country!

Anna Marie Bartling
Newark, Delaware   U.S.A.

Will tax department find
competent personnel?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The series on the pending tax plan has been very instructive but has (so far?) missed a very important point.

The new law would call into being a force of "tax police" and a sprawling bureaucracy not likely to have either the competence or the integrity (such as it is) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

In the U.S., for example, the tax code (itself a book of more than a thousand pages) is supplemented by regulations more than four times the volume of the code itself.  Just for example, who will write the rules about basis under the proposed new capital gains tax?  Where will the new bureau find the personnel with the competence to review hundreds of thousands of tax returns, and on what criteria based on what experience will returns be selected for field audits?

The Costa Rican bureaucracy is better known for its corruption than for its competence. Costa Rica is scored little better than halfway between the best and the worst countries for perceived corruption.

What proportion of the field auditors do you think will be on the take?  How can a government that cannot even enforce an end-user sales tax hope to police a multi-level value-added tax system?

Bryant Smith
Playa Palo Seco

Stop paying sky-high prices,
Costa Rican reader asks

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In the short comment published in your newspaper Feb. 27 and titled "Tax plan irks agent who will spread word"  I would like to tell Mr. O'Brian that as a citizen of Costa Rica I am glad he is not coming to invest in our precious country.  Any foreign investor who does not like how we do business here should fly far away.

In the case of Mar y Sombra and any other property build and encroached upon the maritime zone, it should and will come down.  I do not care if you found Christ, Buddha, or any Greek god over there. Costa Ricans are tired of corruption and slimy business conducted not only by Costa Ricans but also by foreign people.  We may be slow to catch up with those who broke the law, but little by little all criminal behavior will not be tolerated (Did you read about our three presidents under question?)

Maybe, when you and all those "Mr. O'Brians" that most likely love to hear all the "tiquillos" calling him Mr. Gringo depart and stop paying stupid amounts of money for real estate here, we the middle class Costa Ricans will be able to afford a little piece of our own country. 

Maybe when we all start paying taxes the infrastructure of our country will improve.  So, Mr. O'Brian and all others who think like him, please, if you do not want or will not pay taxes here, do not come, stay in your free-of-crime, free-of-corruption, and free-of-mistakes goverment "Dear Washington" selling real estate or, if you are here, please do us a favor: GO HOME or drive south.

"Mucho ayuda el que poco estorba"

Alonzo Guzman
Orgullosamente Costarricense
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.

Business and financial consulting

Are you considering investing or doing business in Costa Rica?
Are you planning a real estate development project or a business venture in this country? Do you require guidance/assistance in planning, organizing or implementing your business venture? Do you

require customized professional services? If so, we can be your entry door to Costa Rica, making sure your
venture is well planned, organized and executed. DCL has been in the market helping and assisting
international investors and developers since 1998, offering a wide range of business and financial consultancy/advice and outsourcing services, as well as a network of professionals of great reputation. www.DCLConsultores.net. Tel. (506) 215-0066, (506) 215-0064, Fax.(506) 215-0041.  Info@DCLConsultores.net.

Real estate agents and services

formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American
Chamber of Commerce

(506)  289-4293 &  (506) 382-7399 cell
(506)  232-5016 &  289-4171 (phone/fax)

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
A Name You Trust & Professional Service
Tom Ghormley - Owner/Broker - in CR since '79

Buying? Selling?
We Can Do It!

Beachfront, Views, Mountains, Lots, Farms, Beaches, Houses, Condos. Hotels, Restaurants, Projects, Commercial, Investments

First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
  Escrow services
  Title transfers
  Title guarantees
  Trust services
  Developer services
Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at amcr@firstcr.com

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.



U.S. Tax and Accounting

We specialize in tax preparation for U.S. taxpayers and business, working or living abroad, and help with all international transactions.
288-2201   839-9970
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com

James Brohl C.P.A, M.B.A

U.S. Income Tax 
U.S. GAAP Accounting, 
Business Consulting
Providing U.S. Tax return preparation including back reporting and all other filing issues, accounting services 
and business consulting.

Telephone 305-3149 or 256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@racsa.co.cr


Williams Dental & Associates
Integral dentistry
Dr. John Williams
•  General dentistry 
•  Endodontics
•  Oral rehabilitation
•  Prosthodontics
•  Periodontics
•  Dental prevention
•  Maxillofacial surgery implants

Guachipelín, Escazú228-2914/289-9809

U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol

Legal services

Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados
Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 643-3058                Cell 365-3088
E-mail: lawyer@CRTitle.com
Web site:  CRTitle.com

  • Real Estate Transactions 
•  Legal Due Diligence 
  • Purchase and Sale Agreements/Options
  • Costa Rican Corporations.
  • Title Guaranty • Fraud protection
  •  Constitution of condominiums
  • Notary public services in general

Visit our Office in Jacó Beach
 (25 meters north of Banco Popular,
 below the Fiscalia).

Lic. Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
Relocation services, Wedding Planning
*Investments  *Corporations *Tax Shelters
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
    *Immigration  *Name & Product registration
*Business procedures  *Family and Labor Law
*Locate People   *Private Investigations

        Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 841-0007

You need to see Costa Rican properties for sale
on our real estate page HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica

Third news page

Place a classified ad
Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 1, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 43


Flower Lady accidently finds herself as an art teacher
By Annette Carter
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Using the sea as her inspiration and Puerto Viejo de Talamanca as her canvas, German-born Sara Simon is sharing her love of the arts with the kids of this seaside village on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast in an art workshop that began serendipitously on her front porch.

“One day I was on my front porch painting a typical Caribbean scene with palm trees, and the kids in the neighborhood began stopping by to ask what I was doing,” she said.  “They wanted to make art, too, so I taught them how to draw palm trees, and after that they just kept coming back for more.”

After they mastered palm trees, Ms. Simon taught the children to draw circles later adding numbers — a clock of sorts — to include an educational component to her teaching.  From there, they used their knowledge of circles to create art-inspired crowns.   There is no limit to the curiosity and creativity of the kids she teaches, Ms. Simon said.  And art, she said, is a great way to teach kids other lessons about life.

“What I teach them is discipline and to use their concentration when they do something.  I teach them to have respect for the other kids and to share things, and I’ve also had to teach them to be 'tranquilo.'"  She does this by lighting incense and encouraging them to work quietly.

“The kids always show up at my door — sometimes at six at night. Yesterday eight kids were at my gate. But when the kids start screaming, I send them home,” she said with a laugh.

Ms. Simon is no stranger to the world of the arts. Born in Germany — her mother is from Trinidad and her father from London — she has been onstage since the age of 14 as a singer, actor and model. She also paints, writes and designs fashions.  At age 17 she began traveling “to inspire my brain and learn to be more open-minded.” 

Her current travels brought her to the Caribbean from Costa Rica’s Pacific side and before that Panamá, Mexico, California and New York City.   In each of her destinations, she has made her mark.  On the Pacific side she designed fashions for the Ticas and choreographed her creations into a fashion show at a local shopping center. 

“I am aways educating myself and I change myself day-by-day,” she said.  “I do things just to make me smile.” 

That philosophy inspired her to design crepe paper flowers with natural stems which are now seen in

A.M. Costa Rica/Annette Carter
Sara Simon and three of her students pose among the youngsters' works
most of the bars and restaurants in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo and have earned her the nickname “the Flower Lady.”

“It was my birthday in January, and I just created the flowers as a decoration for myself to wear in my hair,” she said.  “Then people started asking for them.” 

Her most recent venture really got off the ground when a local fisherman working with the cruise ships came to her and asked for 200 flowers to sell to tourists.  She created 150 for him and took the remaining 50 to Parquecito Restaurant in Puerto Viejo which bought 20 and became her first regular customer.  Other businesses soon followed

“I think I can go anywhere with this,” she says.  “I only need paper and scissors!”  For now though, Ms. Simon’s plan is to stay in Puerto Viejo at least three more months. Throughout her career and travels, Ms. Simon says that working with kids has always been in the back of her mind.

“For me, it’s a pleasure to see their progression and to share my know how and education to make them smile.”

Four-day work week again rejected by legislators
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers again have rejected the four-day work week and a proposal to allow employers to require longer hours on the job during peak periods without paying overtime.

The Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Sociales turned down both ideas Tuesday. Some employers, such as Intel Corp., have been seeking a four-day work week for years. They proposed to keep employees on the job 12 hours a day for four days and then provide a three-day weekend.
Costa Rica has a 48-hour work week in the Constitution.

Employers still can keep workers on the job for 12 hours, but they have to pay overtime. The change in the law would have allowed 12-hour days without overtime as long as the total hours worked a week did not exceed 48.

Under the plan for longer hours at peak times, employers would have been able to keep workers on the job for 10 hours a day in exchange for six-hour days at other times in the year.

You need to see Costa Rican properties for sale
on our real estate page HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica

Fourth news page

Place a classified ad
Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, March 1, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 43

City trying to round up the homeless and youngsters
By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San José officials conducted some 85 operations Tuesday to remove the homeless and the underage from the city streets.

That was the word from Johnny Araya, the municipal mayor. He made his comments when he finished a

Johnny Araya
visit at the home of Óscar Arias Sánchez, the president-elect. Araya, his brother Luis and their father, Fabio, came for an afternoon visit. Araya said that the goal was to clean up the streets of the city. He also promoted his plan to repopulate the downtown of the city. This would require a form of urban renewal.

The Arayas may figure in the future Arias government. All are well-known members of the Partido Liberación
Nacional as is Arias. Another brother was the party's presidential candidate four years ago.

However, Araya was not saying much about that subject Tuesday. He did stress the need for better housing in the city to coincide with his repopulation plan.

The streets of San José have been populated for years by the homeless and homeless children. Periodically, officials try to bring the youngsters to better

A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
The Rohrmoser home of president-elect Óscar Arias Sánchez has become a tourist attraction. David Duyk of North Carolina and Linda Ostbye of Minnesota posed Tuesday with Carlos Amador of the Fuerza Pública.
environments, but most run away and return to the streets, in part because many have a crack cocaine habit.

Electronic U.S. passports to be standard at year's end
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States is issuing electronic passports as part of a pilot program for diplomatic passports, and plans to issue U.S. e-passports to the American public at all domestic passport agencies by the end of 2006, the State Department announced.

According to the State Department media note on the new passports, the e-passport integrates the latest concepts in electronic document protection and readability and aims to facilitate international travel for U.S. citizens while enhancing border security.  The State Department began limited production of the e-passport Dec. 30.

Officials say the e-passport is the same as a traditional passport with the addition of a small integrated circuit or chip embedded in the back cover.  The new  passport combines face-recognition and chip technology.
According to State Department documents, the chip securely will store the same data visually displayed on the photo page of the passport (name, date of birth, gender, place of birth, dates of passport issuance and expiration, passport number), and will also include a digital photograph.  The inclusion of the digital photograph will enable biometric comparison, through the use of facial recognition technology at international borders, officials say.

"The information contained on the integrated circuit embedded in the passport will not provide a means to track U.S. citizens.  This information will be used only in identity verification at ports of entry during travel," said Laura Tischler, State Department consular affairs spokeswoman.

To prevent data written to the chip from being susceptible to unauthorized reading, Tischler said that shielding material has been incorporated in the passports front cover, which she said prevents the chip from being read when the passport is closed.

Press Association concerned by anti-newspaper march in Nicaragua
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

MIAMI, Fla. — The Inter American Press Association has condemned the harassment against the La Prensa newspaper in Nicaragua and its journalists and called on authorities of that country to guarantee press freedom.

Thursday some 250 supporters of Alvaro Chamorro Mora, mayor of the city of Granada, traveled to Managua, approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) away,  where for an hour they blocked the entranceway to La Prensa and demanded a meeting with the newspaper’s directors and that the paper stop publishing news from its correspondent on alleged irregularities in Grenada city hall.

The chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, said that “although no violence was reported and we understand this could be an isolated event, we trust that officials will be alert to incidents that could be
directed against the press given the tense climate leading up to elections next November.”

Directors of La Prensa complained to the press association about the harassment of reporters Arlen Cerda in Granada and Jose Garth in Siuna, in northeastern Nicaragua, because of their articles on alleged corruption of officials.

The press association’s concern is also based on recent incidents against press freedom in Nicaragua.  In 2004, Nicaraguan journalists, Carlos Guadamuz and María José Bravo, correspondent for La Prensa, were murdered.

Marroquín, editor of the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, stressed, “The IAPA respects the right of citizens to express themselves freely within the law.”  He said that the organization would monitor the  situation of the media and journalists that will cover elections this year in Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, as well as Nicaragua.

Jo Stuart
About us

What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005  and 2006 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. Check HERE for more details