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(506) 2223-1327             Published Tuesday, March 17, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 53                 E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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Transport ministry investing $4 million for bikes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The transport ministry has started construction of three bike routes. Two are in Puntarenas and one is in Limón. The bike routes are a $4 million investment by the Programa de Conservación Vial of the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad.

The first project is from El Roble de Puntarenas to Chacarita, nearly four kilometers, some 2.1 miles. The second bike route is in Esparza and covers slightly more than two kilometers, exactly 1.32 miles. Both projects will cost about $1 million each.
The third, the bike route from Moín to the Alemán docks in the Provinica de Limón, is nearly seven kilometers or about 4.2 miles.  This is a $2 million job.

Karla González, the transport minister, said that these three routes and two more in the final stages of construction are designed to keep bicyclists safe.

Costa Rica roads frequently do not have shoulders, and motorists are notoriously unforgiving of bicyclists, despite bikes being a significant means of transport, particularly in rural areas.

women at the shelter
U.N. Fund photo              
Women and their babies at the special shelter in Río Segundo
Alba Moncada, Yendry Carvajal and Olga Patricia Solano

Special shelter helped pregnant women, new moms
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Imagine being forced from your home by a natural disaster when you are eight months pregnant or with a days-old child in your arms.

Among the refugees of the Jan. 8 earthquake near Volcán Poás were such women who had to drop everything and flee the wreckages of their homes.

The women were lucky in that officials set up a special shelter for them and they did not have to continue to stay in the tent city where most of their neighbors ended up.

One, Kimberly Rostrán, was very pregnant when the earthquake hit.

The 24-year-old woman had two children, Joselyn, 6, and Ruth, 2. She was living in Cinco Esquinas de Carrizal with her husband. They had only been there a short time because they left the agricultural area of the northern zone to let her husband seek better work nearer the capital.
Their lives changed radically, but she, eight months pregnant, was able to find a spot in the shelter financed by the Population Fund of the United Nations. The shelter was in a building occupied by the union of employees of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social in Río Segundo de Alajuela.

Ms. Rostrán has the distinction of being the first to give birth while housed at the shelter. That took place Feb. 18 in the Hospital de Alajuela when Emanuel arrived. Another woman, Margarita Aguirre, is expecting a baby at the end of this month.

A handful of women managed to find shelter there after about two weeks in less than adequate conditions with the rest of the refugees. The idea caught on and local officials opened a similar shelter in the Templo Bíblico El Nazaren in San Pedro de Poás.

The women in the shelter included several young mothers who are just 16. Their children were born just a few days before the quake.

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U.S. citizen main suspect
in Tuis hammer murder

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 65-year-old man identified as a Cuban-American is the principal suspect in the murder of a woman in La Selva de La  Suiza, Tuis de Turrialba, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The woman was found face down in her bed in her home with the back of her skull fractured by what appeared to be a hammer, said investigators. The woman was identified by the last name of Pérez. The Judicial Investigating Organization said she was 45.

Shortly after the body was discovered, police arrested her live-in companion, the Cuban-American as he waited for the bus to Turrialba Centro, they said. He was identified by the last name of Lamas. The Judicial Investigating Organization said he was a Cuban who had been naturalized as a U.S. citizen.

Police said the man and woman had been a couple for about six months.

Twin festivals to enliven
Southern zone communities

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Visitors will find a double-barreled festival in the southern zone from March 27 to April 4.  Organizers of the Festival Nacional de las Artes 2009 promise 2,000 artists and 149 different events.

At the same time the Museo Nacional will be presenting the IV Festival de las Esferas in Palmar Sur.

The center of the arts festival will be in the Parque Central of San Isidro de El General where a series of theatrical performances and dance productions will take place.

There also is a traveling show that will move from town to town in the southern zone putting on productions. This is being called the Caravana de las Artes.

Also participating will be representatives from the various native Costa Rican groups in the vicinity: the Chorotegas, Bruncas, Ngöbes, Térrabas, Borucas, Cabécares, Bríbris, Huetares and Malekus, said the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes.

The area at Palmar Sur is where the museum is developing its display of the many spheres that were found in the area. So there is an archaeological component to the festival, too.

Anti-drug police officers
continue airport arrests

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Dutch traveler is the latest to fall into the hands of the anti-drug police at Juan Santamaría Airport.

The man, identified as Cornelis Ludovicus, 31, was carrying 12 kilos of cocaine in his luggage, said the Policía de Control de Drogas. The man was headed to Atlanta, Georgia, and then Belgium, they said.

He was detained a short time after police stopped a Costa Rican with the last names of Brizuela Soto at the same airport. The 19-year-old man was in possession of 737 grams of cocaine, said police. He was ticketed for Madrid and the Canary Islands, police said.

Police also disclosed that Thursday two U.S. citizens were detained at the airport, each in possession of more than a kilo of suspected cocaine on their persons.

They were identified by the last names of Butler and Dockson. They had been en route to Florida, police said.

Funes promises to unit
crime-plagued El Salvador

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former television journalist Mauricio Funes promised to unite El Salvador following his victory in the country's presidential election that ended two decades of conservative rule in the crime-plagued Central American country. Funes ran as a member of the former rebel group Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional.

With the Frente Farabundo Martí  victory, El Salvador joined a growing number of Latin American countries that have turned left in recent years. Some, such as Venezuela, have tense relations with the United States, but president-elect Funes has been quoted as saying he wants strong relations with the U.S.

State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood Monday said the U.S. congratulates El Salvador's people for a "very free, fair and democratic election." Wood also said the U.S. looks forward to working with the new Salvadoran government on their mutual bilateral agenda and that the U.S. wants to "specifically congratulate" Funes and his opponent for participating in the election and respecting the results.

Four million Salvadorans were eligible to vote. The country is wracked by poverty, and many people depend heavily on remittances from family members working in the United States. El Salvador has been under conservative rule since the end of the 12-year civil war in 1992. Some 75,000 people died in the conflict between leftist guerrillas and the government, before it ended with the signing of peace accords.

Our reader's opinion
Immigration rules meant
for more than Gringos

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Why is it that we continually forget, in all our ethnocentric and/or egocentric (“Me first. Me, Me, Me!”) attitudes that perhaps the government of Costa Rica is trying to address ALL of the potential immigrants to their country?

Just because the current proposed changes will have an effect on those of us who speak English, does not mean that those changes are intended specifically for "Gringos!"

Maybe Costa Rican legislators feel that by raising their standards for immigration, that might enable them to better get a grip on immigration in general.  Maybe some of the howling expats might study up on the requirements for immigrants to our countries (U. S. and Canada), and think about whether we would want to have to meet those requirements.

Let’s all back off, chill a bit, and see what happens before we go off screaming about the "sky is falling," What do you say?

John G. Dungan, RN
Farmers Branch, Texas
(Soon to be Arenal, Costa Rica)

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Costa Rica
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Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 53

Legislature gives first OK to private power-generating law
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature Monday approved on first reading a law that authorized the awarding of concessions to individuals or firms that want to generate electricity from hydro sources.

The legislation, basically branded by opponents as a sellout to corporate interests, fills a void in existing legislation that failed to specify how a concession could be awarded. The problem developed 10 years ago with a law that was not drafted to cover this point.

Although the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad and the
Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos tried to work around the legislation, the Procuraduría General and the Sala IV constitutional court rejected the concepts.
The oversight also prevented the renewal of existing concessions.

It was José Merino del Río who said that the text of the measure favors a group generating companies. He represents Frente Amplio.

Other legislative deputies said that the law contained sufficient environmental restrictions to protect the waterways. And they blamed blackouts in 2007 on the lack of legislation permitting private generation.

Fair use of copyrighted material has yet to be defined here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government is taking note of a new intellectual property law that specifies penalties for copying copyrighted material.

The issue was raised in a weekend television show that reported that operators of copy shops were sometimes fearful of making a copy of a textbook for a university student. One said that a $50 book could be copied for about a tenth of that price.

The new Costa Rica law contains a fair use provision similar to that found in U.S. law. This allowed the photocopying of material for education purposes as long as the motive is non-profit.

But even in the United States where there is a long tradition of copyright court cases, many points still are vague.

Fair use probably does not include making a photocopy of a $50 text book, although copies of portions of the book
could be made, based on one interpretation of Costa Rican law. In the United States photocopying a journal article for personal reference is considered fair use.

U.S. copy shops, including Kinko's, which was the target of a major copyright violation case, will obtain copyright permissions for professors who want to prepare a series of selections for sale to their students.  Sometimes payment of copyright fees is required.

The intellectual property law won passage as part of the package of bills that brought the country into compliance with provisions in the free trade treaty with the United States.

Even now it is normal to spot a student making a photocopy of an expensive textbook in the vicinity of universities and colleges.

The intellectual property provisions were put forward by makers of brand name clothing and music publishers. These are products with many knockoffs in Costa Rica.

Japanese printing press will benefit Universidad Estatal a Distancia
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Japan is making a donation of an offset printing press today at the Universidad Estatal a Distancia. The Komori Sprint machine will be used by the Editorial EUNED.

The editorial section of the university publishes many of the
books and other materials used in the educational process.
The donation comes from a Japanese fund for the promotion of cultural activities in developing countries, said the university.

More than 22,000 university students are served by the editorial section, it said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 53

Remittances from the north fall for the first time ever
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
A new report released Monday by the Inter-American Development Bank shows migrant workers from Latin America are sending less money home.  The drop comes as the global economic crisis is leading to less work for migrants.  The bank predicts that remittances to the region will decline this year for the first time on record.

The Inter-American Development Bank says that after years of strong growth, remittance flows to Latin America slowed in 2008, totaling $69.2 billion, which is just a slight increase from the year before.

The bank says remittances began to decrease at the end of 2008, and are expected to continue to fall this year.

Luis Alberto Moreno, bank president, said it is too soon to predict exactly how much remittance flows will fall in 2009.

"These flows will be effected by length and severity of the crisis and the ability of migrant workers to weather this storm, said Luis Alberto Moreno.

The bank says recessions in major economies such as the United States, Spain and Japan have particularly hurt the industries that employ foreign workers — such as construction and manufacturing.   As a result, Latin American workers have a harder time finding work, and have less money to send back home.

Moreno says despite these challenges, he does not expect many immigrants will decide to return to their home countries. However reports from the southern zone of Costa Rica say that large numbers of Costa Ricans are returning from their jobs in the United States.

"Our take is that migrants are likely to exhaust all other options before considering a return to their countries of origin," Moreno said. "Remittances reflect a strong commitment to family and community, and senders have
shown in the past that they will do anything in their power to fulfill that obligation."

Remittances are a vital source of income for many Latin American and Caribbean economies.  Seven countries in the region receive 12 percent or more of their gross domestic product from workers abroad.

Despite the recent decline, remittances have been a much more stable source of income for these countries compared to private capital flows, such as bank loans and investments. 

"It makes it even more clear, that the more stable flow of money, which remittances represent, makes them even more important in the ensuing years," said Julie Katzman, general manager of the bank's Multilateral Investment Fund. "And unlocking the full developmental possibilities of those flows is essential."

Ms. Katzman noted that most of the money sent back home is used to pay for food, clothing, housing and other essentials.  She said to realize the full potential of remittances, recipient families need greater access to the financial system.

"From simply having a bank account to being able to access micro-credit, get insurance or a loan to further a child's education," she said. "These are the things that remittances can do and to further families along the road to financial independence."

Remittances also are hurt by varying exchange rates between countries, a factor that may help or hurt.  For example, the value of the U.S. dollar has increased in recent months compared to the Mexican peso.  So, even though the number of dollars sent to Mexico fell, the spending power of the dollar rose.  This was also the case in Colombia and Brazil. But countries with currencies pegged to the dollar, such as El Salvador and Honduras, have not benefited in the same way from its rising value. 

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 53

A.M. Costa Rica

users guide

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

Old pages

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

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

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


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


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


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

Advertising information

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


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

Contacting us

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

Visiting us

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

Cybersquatting complaints
at U.N. continue to increase

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Allegations of cybersquatting, or holding Web domain names hostage for profit, rose to record levels in 2008 with even greater increases looming, the United Nations’ agency for intellectual property rights said Monday.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, a record of 2,329 complaints of such squatting — an 8 per cent increase over 2007 — were filed last year, mostly by trademark holders whose names were reserved on the Web by other parties.

The increasing number of cases filed with its Arbitration and Mediation Center is occurring at a time when many more domain slots are about to be launched by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, it warned.

Francis Gurry, World Intellectual Property Organization director general, expressed deep concern over that expansion. “Cybersquatting remains a serious issue for trademark holders,” he said, recalling his agency’s caution that new domains should be introduced in a monitored and controlled manner.

“The sale and broad expansion of new top level domains in the open market, if not properly managed, will provide abundant opportunities for cybersquatters to seize old ground in new domains,” he warned.

In any case, the agency said it is certain its caseload will continue to increase.  In order to tackle the build-up, it has proposed a completely electronic dispute-resolution procedure.

Complainants in domain name disputes last year were mainly from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Spain, the organization said.

The agency said that the 2008 cases reflected a wide variety of sectors, involving names of upcoming events, such as the Madrid 2016 Olympic bid, to educational institutions, for example John Hopkins University, to personalities of the past, Gene Kelly, for example.

Condo-hotel construction begun

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The JADE Condo Hotel Residences & Beach Club said it has initiated construction at its Manuel Antonio site just one and a half kilometers from parque Nacional Manuel Antonio.

JADE is a trademark of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. The company plans 240 residences with a hotel ambience. They will range from $250,000 to $750,000.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 17, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 53

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Economic woes just the ticket
for high-powered repo man

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The economic downturn in the United States is taking its toll on the wealthy. U.S. repossession companies are being called-in to seize an increasing number of luxury items such as yachts and private jets from people who have defaulted on their loans.

Repossession specialist Randy Craft is skilled at picking the ignition on a boat.

It takes patience to get the outboard motors started, but he's had a lot of practice. In the last week alone, Craft has carried out repossessions in six U.S. states. "When I go after a boat," he says, "I typically wait until there is nobody around and then I jump on it. Nine times out of ten, we'll pick the ignitions and get it out, and that way nobody knows what is going on until after the fact."

Craft works for International Recovery Group, or IRG, one of America's largest luxury repossession agencies. They take possession of assets when people are unable to pay back their loans. Carrying out "repos" can be dangerous. Craft says he has been threatened with a snow-shovel, run over by a car and chased down a river by a furious boat owner.

"The economy has gone bad. It's on a down-slope right now, and because of that, people are angry. They're looking for a way to retaliate," Craft stated.

Boat sales rose steadily from the mid-1990s until 2006, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. But now, many owners are facing tough economic times. IRG is currently holding nearly two-dozen boats it seized from owners who defaulted on loans.

The company's owner Ken Cage reports a large rise in repossession orders, coming mostly from banks and other lending institutions. "This time last year we were up at least 200 percent over the year before. This year, we are probably up 300 to 400 percent over last year."

Not only boat repossessions are up. Cage's company seized these 30 private planes now languishing at a Florida airport.

"Not only are the cases up quite a bit, the value of the cases is up dramatically," he said.

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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