A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily

news source
Monday through Friday

(506) 223-1327            Published Thursday, March 8, 2007, in Vol. 7, No. 48           E-mail us    
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us

Constitutional court finds in favor of domestic help
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has thrown out a part of a 64-year-old law that let Costa Ricans work their domestic employees for 15 hours a day using a split shift. But the court stopped short of declaring discriminatory the typical 12-hour day for domestic workers.

The Poder Judicial announced the decision on the eve of the International Day of the Woman. Nearly all of the estimated 80,000 domestic employees in the country are women and perhaps 40 percent are Nicaraguan citizens.

The challenge to the employment code was by Rosa María Acosta Ramírez, president of Asociación de Trabajadoras Domésticas. The disputed section allows employers to schedule their household staff within a 15-hour period providing two or three periods free from work.

The 15-hour periods allows domestic help like cooks to prepare the three meals of the day while 
taking breaks between meals.

According to a summary provided by the Poder Judicial, the court also found no reason why
domestic workers should have half a day off when the average daytime employee gets a full day off.

Said the Poder Judicial: "In effect in this decision, it says that no objective and reasonable diferrentiating element exists that justifies putting domestic service under a system of exception with daily work hours greater than the rest of the workers with periods of rest not as long.

The minimum wage for a domestic employee as of Jan. 1 is 85,838 colons a month, some $165. The employer also must provide food.

The salary can be less if housing is provided, as it is in many cases.

Only three court magistrates voted to throw out a section of the labor laws that sets the hours for domestic employees at 12 a day.

Drug network entrenched in country, minister says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The security minister confirmed Wednesday what had been obvious for some time: that Colombian smugglers have infiltrated the Costa Rican fishing fleet and that a sophisticated network operates

Luciano Portocarrero
underground in this country to move drugs.

The minister, Fernando Berrocal, made his comments as he said that one of two persons detailed this week after police chased a drug boat in the Pacific was well known to officers.

The man is Luciano Portocarrero Obando of Buenavertura, Colombia.
This is the same man who was deported from Costa Rica Nov. 14 in a case that has been an embarrassment for law officers.

In November Portocarrero, 26, was one of the crew of a boat that ended up on a Pacific beach at Sámara. Investigators sent in drug-sniffing dogs who found the scent of drugs. But police could not locate drugs, so Portocarrero and his companions were shipped out of the country as illegal immigrants.

Later the same day investigators found packages of cocaine hidden within the structure of the boat. They had to use circular saws to reach the merchandise.

Sunday a plane from the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública overflew a boat subsequently found to be carrying 1,644 kilos of cocaine. The boat was taking on fuel at Playas de Coco and sped north when the crew spotted the plane.

After a chase joined by other officers, the boat came ashore at Santa Elena and the passengers fled into the nearby mountains.
When officers finally caught up to two of the crewmen, it turned out one was Portocarrero, they said. The men tried to say that they were simply illegal aliens being brought north by a coyote or human trafficker. But Berrocal said this is fiction.

He said the facts show that there is a strong organization in Costa Rica that poses a serious problem for law officers. He also said that two others persons on the boat are expected to be in police hands soon. He credited the park police, the Servicio de Parques Nacionales, for locating the men.

Last Aug. 10 a leader of Colombian revolutionaries, Héctor Orlando Martínez Quinto, 38, was detained in Puntarenas. As they investigated his activities here, local law enforcement officials realized that he was a key figure in a sprawling drug and arms network operated by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia. The rebel group, known as FARC, has about 17,000 loyalists.

The FARC support its guerrilla war with extensive drug trafficking.

In September Berrocal and other police administrators went to Colombia for a first-hand briefing on drug networks.

The security ministry has confiscated 12 boats linked to drug smuggling and is not using them to patrol in the Pacific and Caribbean. The so-called fast boats or cigarette boats are basically floating fuel tanks with two or three high powered outboards at the stern.

The use of these boats is obvious, so smugglers have begun to use Costa Rican fishing boats to move drugs because the boats do not stand out among the hundreds that may be at sea.

The drugs may move to Guatemala or México by sea or be offloaded in Costa Rica and hidden on trucks.

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

Mountain farm on 20,000 sq. meters at the 5,300-foot level. 5 minutes north of Sarchí with freshly remodeled 2-story home. Magnificent views of Sarchí and Naranjo. Scurity system, gated entry, ceiling fans, custom cabinets Will sell all or part. All is $150,000. Brokers protected. See more at www.VistasDeSarchi.com. U.S.A. contact is 800-792-7700 or 803-261-6000.

Costa Rica
Second newspage

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 48

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

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.

Physicians and surgeons

Dr. William Pérez Martínez
gastroenterologist and digestive tract expert
Centro de Diagnóstico Gastrointestinal
The most up-to-date diagnostic equipment
Conveniently located in Torre Omega, Clinica Biblica
(506) 248-0930  (506) 522-1000 Exts. 2413 and 2414


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

• 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 $82,400 in 2006)
• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting

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

U.S. Tax and Accounting

Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
Over 10 years in Costa Rica
(English Spoken)
C.R. 288-2201   U.S 786-206-9473
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com

Real estate agents and services

with Great Estates of Costa Rica and Ocean Realty - Jacó

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)  220-3729 &  (506) 382-7399 cell
(506)  232-5016 (phone/fax)

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
A Name You Trust & Professional Service

Buying? Selling?
We Can Do It!

  Tom Ghormley - Owner/Broker - in CR since '79

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.


7Legal services

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
 *Name & Product registration
 *Business procedures    *Immigration  
 *Family and Labor Law    *Locate People
 *Private Investigations
  Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 841-0007 attorneykearney@yahoo.com

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore — 

we know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
Costa Rica's evolving immigration law.
  Pensionado, rentista and inversionista. Your first stop for smooth, professional service and a positive experience. Javier Zavaleta jzava@pacbell.net
Tel: 323-255-6116

(506) 257-8068 / 233-0293
Paseo Colon Av, 30th Street
1 block west from Pizza Hut, San Jose C.R.
E-mail: info@immigrationexperts.co.cr

Lilliana Torres, attorney at law

We handle immigration services and residency procedures as required by the government for foreigners who wish to live in Costa Rica. For 16 years we've provided competitive, dependable, professional services with integrity, loyalty and honesty. Thousands of satisfied foreign clients have obtained their Costa Rican residency through us.



Pickup and motorcycles
destined for Puerto Viejo

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca will get a pickup truck and two motorcycles today as part of a program to beef up the security on the Caribbean coast.

They will be delivered at the same time as Fernando Berrocal, security minister, and other law enforcement administrators, meet with citizens in the Casa de Cultura of the community.

The minister and Jorge Méndez and Yalile Esna, legislative deputies, are starting a three-day tour of the area. A release from the Asamblea Legislativa said that visits to Sixaola and Bribri are in the works.

Friday there will be a morning meeting in Limón to discuss crime problems with the municipal councils of Matina and Limón. Saturday the minister and the legislators will be in Guápiles at the Hotel Suerre for a similar meeting there.

Former president Orlich
gets a stamp of his own

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Former president Francisco Orlich Bolmarcich has been honored by a lottery ticket bearing his likeness, and now he is getting a stamp.

Orlich, who was president in 1963 when the Irazú volcano blew its top and dumped ash all over the Central Valley, governed from 1962 to 1966. Orlich was the president who welcomed U.S. president John F. Kennedy and his wife to Costa Rica also in 1963. He died in 1969, and Wednesday was the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Correos de Costa Rica will issue some 45,000 stamps bearing his image with the notation of the 100th anniversary, said  Portela López, deputy manager of the postal service.

The stamp also will carry images of the Hospital Nacional de Niños, the  Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo and the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje, all institutions that were created under his presidency.

Puntarenas and Limón
may get economic boost

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Arias administration will send a bill to the Asamblea Legislativa designed to stimulate tourism in Puntarenas and Limón, said Rodrigo Arias, minister of the Presidencia.

The bill will join the package of measures sent to the lawmakers by the executive branch. Until May 1 the legislature may only consider bills that come from the executive branch because members are sitting in what is called an extraordinary session.

Rodrigo Arias said that to stimulate tourism in the two ports, the government also would seek to stimulate the local economy. The measure would encourage private investment, improve competitiveness and training of employees, encourage small and medium enterprises for tourism and create new sources of employment in both cities to reduce the ills caused by unemployment.

The full text of the measure was not yet available.

Measure to benefit Cruz Roja

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The central government has a plan to provide long-term funding for the Cruz Roja, the medical emergency organization that is called the Red Cross or the Red Crescent elsewhere.

The plan is to put a surcharge of 80 colons per line on the monthly telephone bills that are collected by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad or any other telephone companies. That's about 15 U.S. cents.

The Cruz Roja would be in charge of spending the money, said officials.

The measure will be sent to the legislature soon.

Have you seen these stories?

If you want customers
six months from now,
you should advertise

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

Costa Rica
third newspage

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 48

Costa Rica pauses to consider the daily work of its women
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The women keep Costa Rica working. From sweaty kitchen jobs, to the nation's hospitals, food processing plants, garment shops and the legislative chambers, women keep the country humming.

When politicians wanted to keep free trade protesters calm, they put women police officers in the front ranks.  And women are making inroads in previous all-male domains, like taxi drivers.

Today being International Women's Day several events are planed, including a celebration all day at the Centro Nacional de Cultura. President Óscar Arias Sánchez will visit in the afternoon.

Costa Rica is one of the few countries that requires 40 percent women on political party ballots. Consequently women end up with major legislative roles and posts in the municipalities.

But all is not well. Sexual harassment is a workplace fact, perhaps here more than in the United States and Canada because of the aggressive nature of Latin men and weaker enforcement.

Domestic violence, even killings are not unknown.

Sometimes the elderly are cut out of the social system and end up on the street seeking coins like 83-year-old Socorro Serrano Mena, who said Wednesday night that her son has

Socorro Serrano Mena seeks charity

A.M. Costa Rica photos/Saray Ramírez Vindas
Cafe Mundo workers Yessania, Mauren, Xinia, Rocio, Shirley and Sandra

his own family to support. She was working late on the pedestrian boulevard near a local supermarket with a tin soup can in her hand.

And the country has equal opportunity for law breakers. At the Centro Penitenciario El Buen Pastor in San Rafael Arriba de Desamparados some 477 women are serving out prison sentences, about 80 percent as a result of drug crimes.  About 85 percent are heads of households.  Evita Arguedas Maklouf, leader of the Movimiento Libertario in the Asamblea Legislativa, was there Wedneday to deliver seven computers for the inmates to learn useful skills.

At the popular Cafe Mundo in Barrio Amón the food is served by women, as it is in most of the nation's restaurants. And many workers are on the job late and face the dreaded second shift as housewives and mothers when they get home.

Costa Ricans have a deep respect for their mother. Mother's Day, Aug. 20, this year, is a national holiday. The International Day of the Woman has not yet risen to the level of a holiday, but the status of women was a topic at the president's cabinet meeting Wednesday, and male politicians are anxious to let women voters know the topic is one of their priorities.

Although originally started as a political event, International Women's Day has transcended partisan support to become a U.N. recognized event.

Here in Costa Rica Channel 7 Teletica will be honoring women who have done special things in a show today. Being honored is whale and dolphin expert Sierra Goodman from Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula.

Pastor detained here to face sex abuse charges in Georgia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A pastor of a religious group in Georgia is the latest U.S. citizen to be nabbed here to face charges in the north.
He is David J. Barrett, who faces a litany of allegations involving sexual contact and abuse of minors, according to the Dirección de Inteligencia y Seguridad/INTERPOL here.

Barrett was picked up Wednesday near an Internet cafe in Alajuela and gave no resistance to officers, they said.
He is the subject of a federal arrest warrant that alleges he fled U.S. jurisdiction to avoid prosecution.

Officials said that in Georgia he faces charges that he conducted some sort of religious ceremonies with a 14-year-old girl that resulted in sexual contact.

The bearded Barrett was associated with The House of Living Waters group in central Georgia, officials said.

 He is believed to have entered Costa Rica in late 2006 

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
David J. Barrett on his way to jail

and lived in four Alajuela locations, said officials. The arrest here was ordered by the Tribunal de Juicio de San José.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica
fourth news page

Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 48

Are you considering doing business with a burglar alarm company?

If so, you should contact me first
for my opinion

From a hotel owner:

'At this time we have a deposit and all looks good!!  Thank you for your help, and I must say your paper is impressive, and I had no idea you had such a circulation around the world.  Received many inquiries for our hotel for that reason.'

She used our classifieds!

More comments from our readers about life in Costa Rica
Inefficiency goes with territory

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Odd, isn't it? People want to live in a little paradise and then decide they should change things to suit their notions of how paradise should be run. It's like marrying someone because he's good looking but then wanting to change everything about him to fit your notion of how he SHOULD be.
Costa Ricans have been getting along just fine for decades, and don't seem bothered by any of it — bottom line, if you don't like the level of inefficiency and other "charming" elements of paradise, looks like you need to reconsider where you'd like to live.
Reminds me of the story of when Malcolm X first went to Mecca on a haj (pilgrimage) — he thought it would really be in improvement if there were one lane going in and another coming out instead of the crowd-crushing mishmash.
Go figure!
Susan Gordon
(resident in CR from 1965 to 1983)
Tel Aviv

Husband just would not listen

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I hate to always have to say "I told you so" to my husband, but unfortunately this time, it cost him, well us dearly! I have traveled throughout Costa Rica extensively over the past 17 years, I completely understand the do's and don't list to remain safe while traveling. Unfortunately, my Tico husband and I have never seen eye to eye on theft in Costa Rica.
On Feb. 16th while traveling to Sámara from San José we decided to stop for breakfast. My husband selected a restaurant within a mall. Therefore we could not see the luggage. I told him I was not leaving our bags in the car while we ate. We needed to find another restaurant. There are plenty of open air restaurants that you can just pull your car up and watch it while you dine.
He got an attitude with me, telling me I was paranoid, and that people aren't everywhere looking to steal, we are in a "good part of town." He got my famous "WHATEVER, DUDE" response.
The next day, my husband wanted to head up to Flamingo. I really wasn't in the mood, I was quite happy at my villa on the beach in Sámara. So he took his sister with him up to Flamingo. They parked the car so that they could see it from the beach. However he left his suitcase, video camera, digital camera and, oh yes, my absolute favorite, HIS WALLET in the car. While he could see the front of the car, a clever thief carefully picked the lock on the hatchback and took EVERYTHING out without my husband or his sister noticing. There was a guard there, but he obviously was either part of the theft or turned the other way.
My husband had his permanent residency card in his wallet, so now there is no way for him to get back home. The rest of our trip consisted of visiting the Judicial Investigating Organization to make the police report, canceling credit cards, making two trips to the U.S. Embassy to obtain a special transit letter ($200) for my husband to get back home, and even with that, he missed his flight home. We had to pay an additional $608 for a one-way flight home (Continental would not credit us anything for changing its flight).
Once he was finally able to come home, we find out a replacement Green Card costs $260, and takes 6 to 8 months to receive. So we go through another set of hoops and $$$$ to get a temporary stamp placed in my husbands passport to work and travel.
We have gone through a nightmare, a costly nightmare that is so totally preventable. Costa Rica is such a beautiful country. The last thing that you want to do is waste your time trying to get back home.

While we were in the embassy, there were several people making the same request for a transit letter which really surprised me. Anyway, I just thought I would share my story to remind everyone to be safe while traveling.
Connie Gutierrez
Belmar, New Jersey

Give cops a cut of traffic fines

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Your commentator did not suggest raising fines for traffic infractions.

What he suggested was to enforce the laws and fines already on the books; eliminate the police's ability to not issue a ticket that should cost USD $50 for, say, 5,000 colons pocketed by the officer.

In America we have a problem with too many laws being made. The problem is the legislatures forgot they already
 have many of these laws, but that the people in charge of enforcement, simply do not.

Taking the license plate is a bit extreme I think. However, allowing a tourist to pay the traffic fine by check, in USD on the spot, made out to the treasury (and not the officer) might help.

I know of several people from the U.S.A. who have had their license revoked, but drive regularly in Costa Rica.  They have told me they have driven many times in Costa Rica drunk, and, if pulled over, simply pay the officer an amount equal to about $20 USD to just be let go.  In America the average DUI would cost an offender $1,500. USD.

If the police officers were given a percentage of the fines they collected for the treasury, maybe laws would get enforced better. What do you think?

Having driven only twice between San José and Jacó, I will say it is a frightening experience.  You do not know if the oncoming traffic will be on the right or the left as you turn each hairpin.  I can't imagine driving that route under the influence of alcohol.

Leah Talley

Traffic is our No. 1 problem

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
I would like to comment on the articles about the lack of efficiency in Costa Rica and some upcoming problems, which have not been touched on.
I have lived here for over 27 years and have watched the growing traffic problem, grow out of control.  As more and more cars have been added to the obsolete roads, traffic has become the No. 1 problem in Costa Rica.  Forget the TLC, forget Tourism, and forget the economy.  If the road system is not fixed and soon, it won't matter.
This road system is not far from becoming total gridlock. No one goes to work, no one goes to the airport, and no one goes anywhere.  The lack of planning and the lack of being able to see forward is the No. 1 problem here. If the government  does not do something soon, all those new BMW and Hummers will make nice planters. Real estate prices will tumble, and going to the store for food will be an all-day affair.
I love this country. It's my home, and I never want to leave it.  Fifteen or 20 years ago problems like these were just pushed aside and small improvements were made to ease the traffic flow.  Well now it is totally different and needs major response.  The government has to do something, or we are all going to suffer.
Wake up, President Arias. Stop traveling and stay here and take care of the problems at hand, mainly the roads.
Rick Blum
Santa Ana

The storm is coming

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Efficiency is only a piece of the puzzle.  When inefficiency is combined with wide-spread crime and corruption through all levels of government, the result is what we witness today in Costa Rica.

As an individual who had planned to move to Costa Rica, and who has invested a considerable amount of time and money in preparation for doing so, I am heartbroken about the current state of affairs in this country.  I foresee an extended period of time of tumult in Costa Rica.  During this coming period, life here will be almost unlivable for many Ticos and expats alike, who until very recently must have thought they had a place in paradise.

Last week's anti-trade agreement demonstration should send a strong message to people that no matter what the outcome of the agreement, many in this country simply do not like us, and do not want us here.  This mentality is particularly distressing because as that sentiment grows, fewer and fewer dollars will be circulated in this country.  The impact of which will only exacerbate the present situation, and lead to an ever accelerating spiral of crime and corruption, followed by more and more departing capital.

I wish I didn't have to sound like a purveyor of doom and gloom, but I have to state the facts as I see them.  This is a beautiful country, inhabited with many wonderful people, who will suffer greatly as this situation evolves.  The people I have come to love and admire will be left with a hollow shell of a country adrift in crime, corruption, and self-loathing.

I would be delighted if my predictions are wrong.  The good people of Costa Rica deserve so much more than what is being handed to them.  However, the long and the short of it is, a critical mass has already been reached, and there is little anyone can do now to avert the storm as it approaches.

David Jule
Rye, New Hampshire

Bush wants Cuban people to determine post-Castro future
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

On the eve of his six-day tour of Latin America, President George Bush says the people of Cuba should decide what form of government to support after the death of their President Fidel Castro.

In interviews published in Latin America Wednesday, Bush said Castro has "imposed" his Communist government on
Cuba. He said he hopes Cubans transition to a new type of government after Castro's death.

Castro transferred power to his brother, Defense Minister
Raúl Castro, after having intestinal surgery in July.

Bush will travel to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico over the next week. He has said the United States will support initiatives to strengthen government institutions in the region, assist in education and health care, and improve the countries' economies.

Bush also said he welcomes an anti-Bush rally planned in Argentina, because he loves freedom and the right for people to express themselves. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an outspoken critic of Bush, has said he plans to attend the rally.

News from the BBC up to the minute
BBC sports news up to the minute
BBC news and sports feeds are disabled on archived pages.

A.M. Costa Rica
Sports news
local and from the wires

Place a classified ad
Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 8, 2007, Vol. 7, No. 48

The latest top sports news
Sports news from VOA
Sports feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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, 2006  and 2007 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.
Check HERE for more details