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A.M. Costa Rica
Your daily English-language news source Monday through Friday
Hotel and Casino    Amigo Realty
Eco Realty
(506) 2223-1327                     Published Thursday, March 21, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 57                Email us
Real Estate
About us
Jo Stuart

                Rica real estate

Country finally doing something about its sewage
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After years of planning and even years of neglect, Costa Rica is about to begin a project to protect its rivers and the gulf of Nicoya. This is a major step that will affirm to tourists the country's strong environmental stand.

Construction is scheduled to begin next month on a primary sewage treatment plant in the Los Tajos section of León XII, a district of the Municipalidad de Tibás north of the capital. There may be some last-minute glitches, but the contract already has been approved with ACCIÓN Agua, a well-known Spanish firm that specializes in such projects. The price for the treatment plant alone is $44 million.

Primary treatment removes about 50 percent of the suspended solids in sewage. A secondary treatment plant at the same site, planned for 2025 will remove 90 percent of the solids and allow the plant to handle a much higher flow of sewage.

Sewage is a dull subject for most residents, but the problem in Costa Rica has been substantial. Every Central Valley sewer eventually dumps into a local river, which then pours into the Río Grande de Tárcoles. That river with all of the metro area trash and sewage dumps into the gulf of Nicoya north of Jacó. The pollution jeopardizes tourism beaches and the marine life in and around the gulf.

The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the national water and sewer company, said about 45 percent of the Central Valley population, about 600,000 persons, are hooked up to sewer lines that eventually run into rivers. The rest have septic tanks or other disposal systems that can pollute the groundwater.

Acueductos y Alcantarillados says it hopes to service a million persons by 2016 in the first stage of the project. A second stage will include Heredia Centro, Alajuela Centro and other communities near the Tárcoles.

The first stage also includes replacing or extending sewer lines. Many are in bad condition. Some 361 kilometers of sewer lines will be replaced or installed, said the institute. That is about 224 miles. The estimated cost of the first stage, including the treatment plant, is $270 million.

The Japanese development agency has put $130 million in trust for the project. There was a delay in getting the legislature to accept the grant, and Costa Rica nearly lost the money.

Finally in September, after a lengthy bidding process, ACCIÓN Agua won the contract. The firm has 30 months to design and build the treatment plant and 18 months to run it and teach Costa Ricans how to do so, according to the agreement.

At the first stage treatment plant, after the solids are removed, the system will inject oxygen into the flow of water and subject it to chemical and biological agents that will decompose harmful bacteria in the sewage, according to the company. The solids, including trash and plastic soda bottles, will be trucked to a landfill.

In a presentation to the legislature, executives from Acueductos y Alcantarillados said that the entire project in two stages will run from the Cerro de Ochomogo on the east to the cerros Coyote and Palomas between Escazú and Santa Ana on the west.
Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos
y Alcantarillados photo

 Photo shows untreated sewage flowing into the
 Río Tárcoles.

sewage line
Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos
y Alcantarillados photo

 Photo shows youngsters playing in water next to a
 rusted-out main sewer line.

The project encompasses San Rafael de Coronado, San Gerónimo de Moravia and San Juan de Tibás.

To the south the project will take in Aserrí, San Miguel and Higuito de Desamparados and the Cerro del Tapezco in Escazú.

All of San José centro would be included in phase one as will San Pedro and Curridabat. So will much of La Uruca, part of Alajuelita, San Miguel, San Antonio, Damas, San Rafael Abajo and Gravilias, all Desamparados, Guadalupe, San Francisco, Calle Blancos, Ipís and Purral in Goicoechea, San Vicente and Trinidad in Moravia and León XIII, Colima, San Juan, Cinco Esquinas and Anselmo Llorente in Tibás. The rest of the valley will have to await phase two.

The project would join the four separate main sewers in the valley. They are named after the rivers they parallel.

A 1.8-kilometer tunnel will take the sewage underground in Hatillo. Sewage in Pavas and Escazú will be pumped up to the treatment plant. The rest of the network relies on gravity.  Acueductos y Alcantarillados proposes using tunneling devices that will avoid open trenches and the disruption of traffic.

Officials have talked about creating biogas from the sewage.

Not all sewage runs into the rivers. Many hotels and condo projects have put in their own small-scale package treatment plants.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 21, 2013,  Vol. 13, No. 57 
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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.


Dr. Vargas
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Grecia logo
Grecia Real Estate
Here in Costa Rica, Central America , the most beautiful houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
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Send us your request to our email:

CR Beach

CR Beach Investment Real Estate
reminds you that Costa Rica’s #1 beachtown,“the new Jacó,” invites you to see the recent changes:  clean paved roads; more bilingual police; more trendy & tipico restaurants; new a/c movie 4plex & new theatrical-conference center; new central park with activities; more bargain priced properties for sale, and lower priced rentals…
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Legal services
Attorney At Law – CPA

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Translations and legal services

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Over 15 years in Costa Rica
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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
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E mail:

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Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

Alcohol will be legal
in Nicoya Semana Santa

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Good news for tourism operators on the Nicoya peninsula: The  Municipalidad de Nicoya has decided to eliminate the prohibition against selling alcohol on Thursday and Friday of Semana Santa next week.

Recent change in the alcohol laws gave the municipal governments the power to make this decision.

Semana Santa is a big tourism period, and visitors sometimes were surprised that alcohol was not available.

In fact, many tourism outlets served drinks in paper cups to get around the law, which was countrywide at the time. Still, supermarkets and other outlets closed off their alcohol displays during that time.

The municipal council of Cartago Centro has decided to continue the prohibition in that area for this Semana Santa.

Some municipalities are waiting until the last minute in the hopes some Sala IV constitutional appeals against the new law will be resolved.

Anti-drug agents sentenced
to 12 years in airport case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An anti-drug agent who helped smugglers get through the controls at Juan Santamaría airpot has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. He is Carlos Enrique Sánchez Espinoza.

That was announced Wednesday by the Policía de Control de Drogas, which had investigated the case.  Also convicted was a Costa Rican named Mario José Pennant Riti, who was designated the leader of an organized gang that worked for Colombian drug dealers.

The organization would recruit individuals to carry drugs onto flights at the airport, and Sánchez would see that they got through the various checkpoints, said anti-drug agents.

Stickup, shootout and crash
leads to arrest of two suspects

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two suspects were detained Tuesday after two men stuck up a supermarket in Guápiles.

The Judicial Investigating Organization gave this account:

Two men approached the store at 8:30 p.m. on a motorcycle.  One of the men went inside and threatened the cashier with a handgun before taking 20,000 colons from the register and a package of cigarettes.

The man returned to the motorcycle where the driver was waiting, and they left.  The police caught up to the suspects within five kilometers.  Noticing their presence, the men fired shots at the officers.

The men were apprehended when the motorcycle collided head on with the vehicle of judicial agents who were traveling in the opposite direction.

The suspects, Carlos Méndez Barboza, 33, and Mauricio Brenes Pineda, 29, were taken to the Hospital de Guápiles.

Investigators say they will continue investigations because it is possible the men are suspects in other assaults in the area.

Internet bad guys using
death of Chávez as a hook

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Spammers and others who use the Internet for foul reasons have used the death of Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez to further their efforts.

The firm Websense said it has identified malicious emails that have in the subject line the allegation that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency murdered Chávez. The idea is to encourage a recipient of the email to click and open an attachment.

"Malware authors are increasingly using breaking global news events as a means of propagating lures that lead to malware," said Websense.

Our reader's opinion
There is no scientific consensus
that humans aid warming

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I hope that my lifelong contributions to sustainable agriculture and the environment will give what I am to say some credibility.  For I, as much as any person, am deeply concerned about the degradation of our natural habitat throughout our planet and atmosphere.   But the truth is, that any cursory research will reveal that there is without a doubt no scientific consensus that man-made activities are significant contributing factors to a warming planet. 

That there is a scientific consensus is a lie, just like it was a lie there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.   So, who is saying that there is a scientific consensus?  And, why are they lying to you?  That's the question, no? 
Albert Lusk
San Isidro, Heredia

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

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From A.M. Costa Rica

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                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, March 21, 2013,  Vol. 13, No. 57
Real Estate
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Price regulator backs down on proposed cut in gasoline profit
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Service station operators will not call a work stoppage this week.

The Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Público said Wednesday afternoon that it was suspending a 5 colon reduction in the gross profit of every liter of gasoline.

Service station operators were unhappy when the price regulating agency issued this directive.

A local appeal failed and the Poder Judicial announced also Wednesday afternoon that a Sala IV constitutional appeal by the Cámara de Empresarios de Combustibles also had failed.

The board of directors of the Autoridad said that it was suspending the cut in price to avoid irreparable damages. The original price cut was issued by the energy section of the
Autoridad. The cut was scheduled to be published in the official newspaper Friday.

The Autoridad not only sets the price of gasoline and other petroleum fuels but it also establishes a profit margin for service stations.

In the case of gasoline that was 43.45 colons per liter. The Autoridad cut that to 37.97  colons. The margin was around 8 U.S. cents. The Autoridad cut that by one cent.

The margin for diesel got a 6-colon cut.

The change in the profit margin came from elaborate computations made by the Autoridad. The service station appeal was based on the specifics of these techniques.

The Cámara de Empresarios de Combustibles earlier made an unsuccessful appeal directly to the Autoridad.

The orange colored area enclosed by a dashed line denotes a magma layer that scientists believe is facilitating the motion of the Cocos plate off Nicaragua. The blue areas represent the Cocos plate sliding across the mantle and eventually diving beneath the Central American continent, while the black dots signify earthquake locations.

magma under plate
Scripps Institution of Oceanography graphic

Scientists find unexpected magma layer helping Cocos to move
By the Scripps Institution of Oceanography news staff

Scientists have found a layer of liquefied molten rock in Earth’s mantle that may be acting as a lubricant for the sliding motions of the planet’s massive tectonic plates. The discovery may carry far-reaching implications, from solving basic geological functions of the planet to a better understanding of volcanism and earthquakes.

The scientists discovered the magma layer at the Middle America trench offshore Nicaragua. Using advanced seafloor electromagnetic imaging technology, the scientists imaged a 25-kilometer (15.5-mile-) thick layer of partially melted mantle rock below the edge of the Cocos plate where it moves underneath Central America.

The Cocos plate and its interaction with the lighter Caribbean plate are responsible for many of Costa Rica's earthquakes.

The scientists are from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego

The discovery is reported in the Wednesday issue of the journal Nature by Samer Naif, Kerry Key, and Steven Constable of Scripps, and Rob Evans of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The new images of magma were captured during a 2010 expedition aboard the U.S. Navy-owned and Scripps-operated research vessel "Melville." After deploying a vast array of seafloor instruments that recorded natural electromagnetic signals to map features of the crust and mantle, the scientists realized they found magma in a surprising place.
“This was completely unexpected,” said Key, an associate research geophysicist in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps. “We went out looking to get an idea of how fluids are interacting with plate subduction, but we discovered a melt layer we weren’t expecting to find at all. It was pretty surprising.”

For decades scientists have debated the forces and circumstances that allow the planet’s tectonic plates to slide across the earth’s mantle. Studies have shown that dissolved water in mantle minerals results in a more ductile mantle that would facilitate tectonic plate motions, but for many years clear images and data required to confirm or deny this idea were lacking.

“Our data tell us that water can’t accommodate the features we are seeing,” said Naif, a Scripps graduate student and lead author of the paper. “The information from the new images confirms the idea that there needs to be some amount of melt in the upper mantle and that’s really what’s creating this ductile behavior for plates to slide.”

The researchers say their results will help geologists better understand the structure of the tectonic plate boundary and how that impacts earthquakes and volcanism.

“One of the longer-term implications of our results is that we are going to understand more about the plate boundary, which could lead to a better understanding of earthquakes,” said Key.

The researchers are now seeking to find the source that supplies the magma in the newly discovered layer.

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, March 21, 2013,  Vol. 13, No. 57
Real Estate
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New skatepark
in Guanacaste

Skateboarder tries out the new facility at the Colegio de Villareal de Santa Cruz, Guanacaste. The skatepark was inaugurated this week as part of the Wild in the Street 2013 event that will bring as many as 5,000 skateboarders to a sweep across the city Sunday morning.  Emerica, the company sponsor, donated 200 pairs of special shoes for skateboarding to youngsters of low-income families during the inauguration.

Emerica/Lois Solano

Vacation, travel and hospitality
The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.
Geroge's view
An evening View
from George’s Puriscal home
Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money.  Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk
Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.

Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Steve and Debbie Legg
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Our Vision at Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat is to create the perfect blend of Adventure, Discovery and Tranquility for each guest.  Plan an Adventure zooming along a zip line high in the canopy or horseback riding though forests, farms and rivers. Discover the magical wonders of the flora and fauna of Costa Rica. Experience Tranquility in one of our cabins tucked in our 26 acres. Located in Monterrey, San Carlos, in the mountains above Fortuna, we enjoy spectacular, panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano and its lava flow. Please see our Web site for more information. or e-mail us at

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Christ Howard with Max
retiring in Costa Rica,  and who has personally helped over 10,000 people with ALL BUDGETS relocate SUCCESSFULLY over the last 35 years. CUSTOM TAILOR-MADE TOURS are also available for people with special needs or who can’t take one of our fixed-date tours. ALL tours include EXTENSIVE touring and a highly informative SEMINAR by the country’s most renowned EXPERTS in their respective fields. Also visit: Live in Costa Rica to check out our NEW tour prices and specials.  Customer satisfaction 100% guaranteed! MY REFERENCES.

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Howard Spanish cover


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Customized vacation packages to Costa Rica planned by our team of in-country travel experts. Call us Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860 or locally in San Jose: 2296-7715. You can sit back and relax while we plan your dream Costa Rica Vacation.

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Customized, all inclusive Costa Rica vacations planned by our team of in-country travel experts. Call us Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860 or locally in San Jose: 2296-7715. Sit back and relax while we plan your trip or dream Costa Rica Honeymoon.

Panama Vacations
Custom, all-inclusive vacations to Panama by 100% locally based experts in Panama.  See "the new Costa Rica" before the secret gets out!  We offer customized trips to the best all inclusive Panama hotels and Panama resorts. Call 1-866-393-4192 if from the U.S. or 00 (507)-264-1279 from Costa Rica.

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Customized, upscale fishing packages & Costa Rica fishing vacations designed by 100% local experts. Call Toll Free: 1-866-901-0683

Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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

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COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
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in San José, and one condo in Escazú. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Both convenient locations. No pets. $600 per month. Contact: or call 8555-9819.

Anywhere Costa Rica educates visitors about the numerous 

in-country travel experiences available to them and creates a personalized  travel plan.

We believe the best way to enjoy
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and people is to have a personalized trip plan.

Call 1-888-456-3212 or local 2479-8811 to get started.

Mountain cabin for rent
Sacramento, Barva de Heredia
We offer for rent three furnished, 2-bedroom mountain homes located on the slopes of Barva Volcano, Sacramento, Heredia. The cabin-style homes are adjacent to the Braulio Carillo National Park and walking distance to the Barva Volcano crater lake. Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and garage. Take in breathtaking views of the Irazú Volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of bird species, to include the occasional Resplendent Quetzal, and a pristine cloud forest. We can also offer you an occasional ride on one of our beautiful mares. Contact Allan or Cristina at, or or for more information HERE! $850 USD/month. We can also offer a weekend or short-stay package.

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 
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Visit our Web page for more information.

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

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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
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 21, 2013,  Vol. 13, No. 57
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Venezuela's Capriles discounts
Maduro as not being Chávez

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Fighting an uphill battle in Venezuela's election, opposition leader Henrique Capriles scoffs at acting president and rival Nicolas Maduro as a non-entity riding on the memory of Hugo Chávez to hide his own incompetence.
In an interview on his campaign bus on Tuesday, Capriles also accused the late president's chosen heir, Maduro, of trying to distract voters from real problems with wild claims including a U.S.-based plot to kill the opposition candidate.

"Nicolas does not even reach the ankle of President Chávez,'' Capriles said, comparing his battle for the upcoming April 14 vote with last year's presidential poll against Chávez. "Nicolas' biggest weakness is that it seems he doesn't even exist, the only thing you see in the campaign is the image of the president. Nicolas is just not up to it.''
With sympathy over Chavez's death from cancer this month galvanizing government supporters, Maduro, 50, a former bus driver and long-time socialist stalwart, is favorite to win leadership of the South American oil-producing nation next month.
Capriles, 40, is determined to stop that by both attacking Maduro's personal capacity and highlighting the plethora of grassroots problems that irritate Venezuelans, ranging from potholes and crime to power cuts and corruption.
The Miranda state governor, a centrist politician who admires Brazil's free-market economics with strong welfare policies, lost to Chávez last year by 11 percentage points. But his showing then was the strongest against Chávez during the late president's 14-year socialist rule.

"I was boxing against Cassius Clay! Now I'm facing another boxer, it's a different game,'' said Capriles, changing out of a sweat-soaked shirt as his bus wound its way through the crowd after a rambunctious rally in southern Ciudad Bolivar. "I'd have liked to go back up against the same athlete. Sadly, by God's decision, the president died.''

Maduro and other government officials accuse Capriles of dishonoring Chavez's memory and offending his family with accusations that they lied over the details of his final days.

A top strategist on Maduro's team forecast this week that Chávez supporters will punish Capriles for his anti-government barbs and that next month's vote will likely end up in a bigger win for the socialists than last year.

Asked about Maduro's accusation that two former U.S. officials plotted to assassinate Capriles, the opposition leader first reeled off a litany of problems facing Venezuelans, from violent crime and shortages of products to rising prices and shoddy roads.

"Nicolas has been in government for 100 days. They look like the worst 100 days of these 14 years,'' he said in a typical put-down of his rival, using his first name. "And what does he talk about? A plot. He wants us to talk about Reich, and those things. He doesn't want us to talk about what's important on the street for Venezuelans. That's why I don't pay those claims any attention, they are smokescreens.'' He was referring to former U.S. official Otto Reich.
Capriles said that Maduro, who now describes himself as an apostle' of Chávez and often addresses the nation alongside images of his late boss, was part of a discredited group whom even 'Chavista' voters would punish at the presidential poll.
Supporters seldom held Chávez personally responsible for their daily problems, often blaming senior officials instead.

"For followers of the president, it was the ministers who were the corrupt, inefficient, incompetent ones who did all the damage. Well, that's the group wanting to govern,'' Capriles added in the first interview with foreign media of his campaign.
Two opinion polls published this week gave Maduro a lead of more than 14 percentage points.
Most analysts believe Capriles faces a near-impossible task to win, especially given the state's superior campaign resources, the popularity of its many social welfare programs, and the high number of Chavistas in most state institutions.
"The electoral conditions, the abuses, are worse than before,'' Capriles said, accusing Maduro of acting unconstitutionally by not leaving office while he campaigns. "

Our struggle is more difficult but more heroic, more challenging ... It's a divine, spiritual struggle. I believe God gave us an opportunity to unite the country.''

Capriles, a devout Catholic, always wears a crucifix.

The government counters Capriles' depiction of the election as a David vs Goliath fight with its own version — that he is in fact the representative of Venezuela's moneyed, right-wing elite in league with U.S. and other Western imperialist' interests.

Hoarse but pumped during frenetic campaigning in the vast and mineral-rich southern state of Bolivar, Capriles said there was a limit to how much the emotion over Chavez's death would help Maduro at the ballot box.

"Chávez was Chávez. Nicolas is not Chávez. And the president's supporters are realizing that. They don't like Nicolas, '' Capriles said. "I have to fight and try to win. There is a real possibility of winning ... My fight is with the liars and the corrupt ones.''
If he wins, Capriles promises to roll back gradually the Chavez-era socialist economic measures, including currency controls and nationalizations that cowed the private sector.

"If I win, I'm sure the profile of Venezuelan debt will improve a lot. Loans will be less costly. I have to reconstruct the economy, generate confidence,'' he said. "

U.S. Senate OKs measure
to avoid government shutdown

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Senate has passed a huge government spending bill, averting a government shutdown next week by funding agencies and discretionary programs through the end of September.

The bipartisan 73-26 vote Wednesday sent the measure to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve it as early as Thursday and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The bill keeps in place $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, while providing $87 billion to fund U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also keeps in place the current pay freeze for federal workers.

Those so-called sequester cuts took effect earlier this month, after Republicans and Democrats failed to compromise on competing plans for dealing with the growing U.S. deficit.

Engineers say U.S. lacks
adequate infrastructure

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The American Society of Civil Engineers says infrastructure across the United States has improved slightly, but is still below average and may soon fail to meet society's needs.
The society issues a report every four years to show the state of the nation's roads, bridges, drinking water systems, mass transit systems, schools, and systems for delivering energy. The society says U.S. infrastructure went from a "D" grade in 2009 to a slightly better, but below adequate, "D+" grade in 2013.
The grades given to each infrastructure system range from an "A+" for exceptionally good condition, to an "F" for failing condition.
Tuesday's report is the first time since 1998 that the grades rose overall and in several sectors.
The society estimates that raising the infrastructure grade to a "B," defined as "adequate for now," would require $3.6 trillion in investment by 2020. That is $1.6 trillion more than what is now set aside for infrastructure repair.
Society President Gregory DiLoreto says the United States needs to be "proactive" in taking care of its infrastructure to assure that it will be there for generations to come.

Discount on healthy foods
said to increase purchases

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Lower prices influence shoppers to buy more healthful food, according to a new study from South Africa.

Discover, a South African health insurance company, offered a rebate of up to 25 percent on grocery purchases of fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. The cash rebate was part of a larger health promotion program.

“This has been going on for four years now with hundreds of thousands of people,” said Roland Sturm, a researcher with the U.S.-based Rand Corp. “So, a unique opportunity to really evaluate what can a discount on healthy foods do in terms of shopping patterns, in terms of diet, in terms of obesity.”

To find out, Sturm and other researchers analyzed supermarket barcode data, which recorded participants’ purchases of groceries, both healthy and non-healthy. Because each transaction was matched to a credit card, they could track an individual shopper’s purchases from 2009 to 2012.

The researchers found that a “25 percent discount on healthy foods will increase the proportion of healthy foods by about 10 percent.”

At the same time, the purchases of unhealthy foods went down by 6 percent. Unhealthy foods included sugary soft drinks, candy and salty snacks.

To help shoppers make informed decisions, food eligible for rebates was labeled with signs in the store and on grocery receipts. A scientific panel decided which items were eligible. For example, canned fruits and vegetables were okay, unless sugar or salt were added. And only nonfat dairy products were included.

“The take-home message here is clear: lowering the cost of nutritionally preferable foods - the healthy foods - can motivate people to significantly improve their diet,” Sturm said.

There were some limitations to the study. Participants chose to join the rebate program, rather than being randomly assigned to it. Also, the study only tracked credit card purchases at one grocery chain.

Fed will maintain interest
at a low level this year

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Federal Reserve has cut its economic outlook for 2013 but says the unemployment rate is likely to fall faster than previously expected.  In a statement following a two-day meeting of central bank policy makers, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke reassured financial markets, saying long-term interest rates would remain low for the foreseeable future.

Despite a strong pickup in manufacturing and a much-improved housing market,  the outlook for the U.S. economy remains mixed.  The Federal Reserve said U.S. growth is unlikely to exceed 2.8 percent in 2013. 

On the other hand, Bernanke expects U.S. unemployment will fall faster than expected - to as low as 7.3 percent by the end of this year.

"Private payrolls are growing more quickly, total hours have increased, the rate of filings and new claims for unemployment insurance has fallen, and the unemployment rate has continued to tick down," Bernanke said.

But persistent concerns about government spending cuts, tax hikes, and new signs of instability in Europe continue to weigh on the central bank.  As a result, the Fed plans to keep its $85 billion-a-month bond buying program to keep long-term interest rates near zero. The low rates have contributed to an extended winning streak on Wall Street.

"The stock market right now is really addicted to this Fed stimulus.  I mean if the Fed had given any indication that they were thinking of scaling back the stimulus, the stock market would have sold off very sharply, but instead the market is up," said Greg McBride at

McBride says that's because low interest rates encourage spending and investments in riskier assets.  While low rates can help boost economic growth, they can also fuel inflation.

Barring a sharp increase in prices, the Fed expects to keep interest rates low until the jobless rate falls to 6.5 percent.

Most experts say that's not likely to happen until at least 2015.

Guantanamo prisoners
are on a hunger strike

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

More prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have joined a growing hunger strike that their lawyers say reflects hopelessness about their prospects of ever being freed from the U.S. detention center in Cuba.

Twenty-four captives were on a hunger strike as of Tuesday evening and eight of those had lost enough weight that doctors were force-feeding them liquid nutrients thorough tubes inserted into their noses and down into their stomachs, said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the detention operation.

The detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in eastern Cuba holds 166 men captured in counterterrorism operations. Nearly all have been held for 11 years without charge.

The number of hunger strikers has grown from 14 on Friday, Durand said. The military counts prisoners as hunger strikers if they have skipped at least nine consecutive meals.

Two hunger strikers were hospitalized with dehydration, he said.

The Obama administration has cleared more than half the Guantanamo prisoners for release or transfer, but Congress has blocked efforts to close the detention camp and made it increasingly difficult to resettle Guantanamo prisoners.

Many are Yemenis whom the United States will not repatriate at this time because of instability in that country.

Periodic hunger strikes have occurred since shortly after the prison opened in January 2002.

More than 50 lawyers representing Guantanamo prisoners sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week urging him to help end the current hunger strike. They said the participants' health had deteriorated alarmingly, and that some had lost more than 20 or 30 pounds.

The lawyers said hopes were dwindling that the Obama administration would keep its promise to close the camp. They said more than 100 detainees began a widescale hunger strike early last month to protest the confiscation of letters, photographs and legal mail, and the rough handling of Korans during searches of their cells.

Durand called the allegations "outright falsehoods and gross exaggerations.''

"The claims of a mass hunger strike and an incident in which the Koran was mishandled are simply untrue,'' he said. "We take extraordinary care to respect the Koran and categorically deny any claims of abuse, desecration or mishandling.''

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Tranquil million dollar view, 5,000-sq.meter property with 3/2 home built to American standards, artistically designed and decorated, 16-foot ceilings of mango and tamarindo, appliances, plunge pool, rancho, caretaker apartment, workshop, covered parking, views of Gulf of Nicoya and ocean, in countryside near San José to Caldera highway. Near the lovely town of Esparza. Can provide extra income from bed and breakfast room rental and stellar Tripadvisor reviews. $180,000 506-8869-9274.

View from Orosi home

Majestically situated overlooking the Orosi Valley and the tropical rain forest, this 2-bedroom, 2½-bath home with a separate office is offered at $550,000.  From the extensive use of glass windows visitors are easily captivated by the unbelievably 7 acres of pure, natural Costa Rican landscape.   The property is located 15 minutes from the Cartago metropolitan area, an hour from San José, 1¼ hours to the Juan Santamaria International Airport, 2 hours to the beaches of the Pacific West Coast, or 3 ½  hours to the beaches of the southern Caribbean coast.
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CR Cell 011-506-8-910-2904

You can purchase property in Costa Rica legally without paying Land Transfer Tax; this plus the usual real estate commission of 5% will reduce your purchase price by approximately 11%. Save over $50,000.00 on the purchase of this $465,000.00 property. Large 5000+ sq.ft. House. Ideal for business executive, B & B or large family. E-mail for photos and more information to

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

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Rich Coast Montage
Central Pacific Coast Real Estate
- 2-bedroom house in gated community, $92,500.
- Lots in gated community from $20k w/financing available.
- 3-bedroom house in gated community, furnished, walk to the beach, $125k
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Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft TITLED property. This is a very special and rare property because of the INCREDIBLE OCEAN VIEW and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must see. Ocean view Only $345 000.00 US More details:
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Real estate services
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Business for sale or lease (paid category)7115-12/16/11

Would you like to start a chain of pizzerias  in Costa Rica?
If you have the money,   I have the ideas and the basis to start. Buy the place,
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Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, March 21, 2013,  Vol. 13, No. 57
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute

Caja sent to prosecutors
more than 4,000 deadbeats

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's health services agency said that it sent 4,021 cases to prosecutors last year because employers did not pay the social security charges generated by their employees salaries.

The agency, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, said that the total amount involved was about 3 billion colons.

Employers collect some money from the salaries of employees and then have to add a substantial sum to make payment to the Caja each month. Failing to make the payment can be a crime. Most cases are settled through conciliation.

Forest fire fighters given
insurance policy by INS

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros said Wednesday that it has donated a death and accident policy to some 918 forest fire fighters.

The policy covers those who are in the Brigadistas Forestales Voluntarios of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación, The value of the donation is about 5.5 million colons or about $11,000. The policy covers the high season for fires, which is from January to June 20.

The policy covers death, medical care for accidents and  compensation for disability, said the insurance agency, which is known as INS.

Two detained at airport
in separate drug cases

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-drug police detained two persons at Juan Santamaría airport in separate cases.

An Italian traveler tried to take six vodka bottles that really contained cocaine out of the county to Madrid, said the  Policía de Control de Drogas. The woman carried more than seven kilos of cocaine that way in six aluminum bottles.

Anti-drug agents say the second case was that of a Guatemalan man who ingested 80 small packets of cocaine. The amount of cocaine was more than a kilo.

Jatropha genetic diversity
good for hybrids, firm says

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

SGB, Inc., an energy crop company, has identified over two million individual genetic markers in its Jatropha curcas germplasm collection, confirming the non-food energy crop has a genetic diversity comparable to corn and other domesticated crops.

This means the plants can be improved through breeding to increase yield and performance, said the firm.

Through the use of emerging genetic technologies, SGB’s scientists have revealed that the company’s germplasm collection can be divided into a number of genetically-related groupings of plants. In contrast to previous studies, these findings confirm significant genetic diversity in jatropha which enables SGB breeders to maximize hybrid vigor by identifying the most genetically diverse parental lines to use for the creation of elite hybrid seeds, the firm said.

SGB’s first-generation hybrids have outperformed commercial jatropha plantings at 13 hybrid trial sites located across Brazil, India and Central America, the firm said.

There are jatropha operations in Costa Rica, and the plant is seen as a source of biofuels.

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