A.M. Costa Rica
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Pubished Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Vol. 17, No. 61
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Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
This is a load of cigarettes police intercepted at a checkpoint in Tibás in August.
Criminal network blamed for massive customs frauds
By Rommel Téllez
and the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There is a criminal network bringing a high volume of personal-use goods, such as clothing and perfumes, into the country, according to customs director general Benito Coghi.

“We believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we are cracking down on any suspects because there could be a bigger ring of people organized to commit fraud,” Coghi explained.

The findings come after analyzing patterns of companies that refuse to pay taxes on imported goods.

So far, almost $2 million in import taxes are still pending collection by the Ministerio de Hacienda, according to internal figures.

That amount includes all taxes which importers didn't pay even though they were offered alternative arrangements between 2014 and last February, the ministry said.

Coghi explained that it might take somewhere between three to seven years for this process to come to a closure, and many times courts do not rule in favor of the government.

In 2014, the amount of import taxes disputed was $366,000. A year later it had increased to 1.3 million, a jump of 267 percent, the ministry said.

In an earlier interview, Coghi said he considered these tax evasions as a crime.

“It is a crime against human rights.” he said. “Even if we get this money back with interest, it would have lost part of its value, which we need today for social projects.” he says.

The debt comes from businesses that mislabeled or smuggled products that made their way into the country. Their irregular activity was then discovered in second inspections, customs officials said. 

“So far, our collection capacity has been of 50 percent due to reasons of human resources,” Coghi explained.

Regarding the rate of import tax successful collections, the customs agency, the Dirección
General de Aduana, reports a total of $1.3 million in the last 26 months.  The Aduana is an agency of the Ministerio de Hacienda, better known as the budget ministry.

Costa Rica’s lengthy borders benefit smugglers who come from Nicaragua and Panamá. Fuerza Pública officers always are picking up motorists with trucks and cars stuffed with goods on which import tax has not been paid.

But the customs director general is talking more about systematic smuggling efforts that dwarf the alcohol, cigarettes, perfume and medicines that may enter the country in the trunk of a car.

The heavy duty smuggling is a paperwork crime in which products are described in documents differently than they really are. In the past, some business operators were known to have created companies in the United States with names that were very similar to those of well-known and reputable vendors. Then they simply would switch invoices for fake ones that showed the products have a much lesser value than were true. Customs inspectors would be misled by the similar name.

Kitchen appliances and electronic devices have figured in previous smuggling cases.

Sometimes the shipments rely on bribes and corruption. In September, judicial agents took into custody the head of customs at the Paso Canoas border crossing with Panamá. Officials alleged at the time that he was involved in the theft of a shipping container of cigarettes. The container has been held at the aduana agency there over paperwork problems with permits.

Investigators said that the value of the merchandise, the cigarettes, was 400 million colons or about $760,000. The container vanished last April and turned up during a later investigation in Costa Rica. The case still is pending.

Cigarettes are a prime product for smuggling because they can be sold at a much lower price when the smugglers have ducked import duties and taxes.

A reporter found that packs of cigarettes are available for 900 colons at some outlets in the Central Valley when the sales price at reputable supermarkets is about 1,500 colons or nearly $3.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 61
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Don Bssco
Municipalidad de Desamparados photo
The Municipalidad de Desamparados is closing this roadway in Barrio Don Bosco from Patarrá to Los Guido as of today for more than four months while a new, two-lane bridge with a pedestrian walkway is built. This is a 235 million colons or $444,000 job, officials said.

Game expected to cause traffic chaos

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica meets the Jamaican soccer team again tonight, and traffic police will be out in force regulating traffic at the national stadium that has no public parking areas.

The police effort begins at 2 p.m. for the 8 p.m. game.

This is an elimination match for a berth to play at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Those attending the game are being encouraged to take public transportation. The valley rail line is just east of the stadium and special buses are being arranged. Some adjacent highways will be closed. Traffic police estimated that the crowd will be about 35,000.

While traffic police are busy outside the stadium Fuerza Pública officers will be augmenting some 200 private security workers inside. Some soccer spectators have been known to become rowdy.

Costa Rica and Jamaica tied, 1-1, in a match Friday. So the stakes tonight are high. In addition, Kaylor Navas, the Costa Rican who became the goalie for  Real Madrid, will be in front of the net.

The U.S. team is playing tonight, too, against Guatemala in Columbus, Ohio. The U.S. players dropped a game 2-0 to Guatemala Friday, so fans fear the team might be eliminated.

Ex-Honduran leader admits soccer bribes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A former president of Honduras who later headed the country's soccer federation has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court to racketeering and wire fraud in connection with a wide-ranging soccer federation corruption investigation.

The man, Rafael Callejas, a member of the soccer federation’s television and marketing committee, entered the plea Monday in U.S. federal court in New York, admitting to the charges after telling the judge he had accepted bribes and distributed some of the money to others.  He also agreed to forfeit $650,000.

The 72-year-old Callejas, president of Honduras from 1990 to 1994, is set to be sentenced Aug. 5.  He faces a maximum prison term of 20 years.

The probe gained international attention in May 2015, when 14 federation chiefs were arrested, including seven top officials gathered at a hotel in Zurich.  Among those detained was Eduardo Li of Costa Rica. He is free on bail in New York.

Callejas surrendered to the U.S. court in December, after 16 additional defendants, most of them from Central and South America, were charged in a second wave of indictments. 

Those arrests came as federation’s executive committee prepared to announce reforms and transparency measures targeting procedures for selecting host cities and awarding lucrative marketing and broadcasting rights for the World Cup and tournaments in Latin America.

U.S. prosecutors allege that hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal payments in the past three decades involved the use of U.S. banks.  They are also seeking to prove that many planning meetings for those payments occurred on U.S. soil. 

The federation is correctly termed the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 61
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International food fair to feature a number of typical Latin dishes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats who never have sampled choripán from Uruguay, cerdo relleno from Colombia, paella from Spain or cochinita pibil from México will have their chance April 9. The Instituto Interamericano de Cooperación para la Agricultura is putting on a food fair in Coronado.

The Feria Internacional de Comidas Típicas will have at last 16 different food stands, said organizers.

There is an admission for the event of 1,000 colons for adults and 500 colons for children under 10.
The fair starts at 10 a.m., and runs until 5 p.m.

The event also is a step back into time. The Mexican pork dish, cochinita pibil, comes from the Mayan culture.  Choripán is a sausage sandwich that is made differently in most South American countries. There are perhaps 1,000 recipes for cerdo relleno, but the Colombia variety is roughly a pork filet mignon.

Organizers promise foods from other Latin countries, too. The location is in Vásquez de Coronado.

Some 34 countries are members of the institute and handiwork from a number will be for sale, an announcement said.

Lawmakers approve bill giving protection to Chinese investors
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers Monday passed for the second and final time a bill that gives protection to Chinese investors in Costa Rica. The bill also anticipates that similar treatment will be given to Costa Ricans in China.

The measure, No. 17.246, also seeks to promote Chinese investment here.

The measure is short of a treaty, but it does address problems such as expropriation, compensation for loss or damage of goods.  The bill is similar to agreements with other countries.

Costa Rica is banking on significant investment from China, although the country is having its own financial problems now.

The bill now goes to President Luis Guillermo Solís for his signature.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 61
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Old film helps show that Kemp’s ridley turtle population is in decline
By the University of Alabama at Birmingham news staff

Newly examined video of Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, which are found primarily in the Gulf of Mexico, shows that the species’ recovery from endangerment has stalled at less than one-tenth of historic nesting levels.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham came to that conclusion after being asked to identify the qualifying measure of endangerment for the species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Kemp’s ridley turtles are currently classified as critically endangered on the Union’s Red List of Threatened Species. The species was on the brink of extinction in the 1980s, but a Mexico-U.S. conservation program initiated in 1978 was able to reverse its decline.

The decades of intense conservation efforts were evident by 2009, with the Kemp’s ridley exhibiting an exponential recovery rate that was expected to continue for many years. However, an unanticipated downturn occurred in 2010 when the amount of nesting dropped significantly. Since that time, the species has not regained an upward trajectory to recovery.

How many Kemp’s ridley turtles should there be in the Gulf? Scientists and conservationists weren’t sure. There was a lack of data between 1880, when the species was discovered, and the start of the conservation efforts in 1978.

The study, led by Thane Wibbels, a biology professor at the the University of Alabama, and doctoral student Elizabeth Bevan, set out to answer that question through the evaluation of a historic film recorded in 1947 by Andres Herrera, a Mexican sportsman, on the Kemp’s ridley’s primary nesting beach in the western Gulf of Mexico near Rancho Nuevo, Mexico.

The film captured a mass-nesting event known as an arribada, involving tens of thousands of nesting turtles on a single day in 1947. It would help provide a rare benchmark for evaluating the historic population size of a species prior to its becoming endangered, which is usually not available for endangered species.

Prior to the film, the location of the Kemp’s ridley nesting grounds was a mystery. After hearing about a large mass nesting of sea turtles from locals, Herrera recognized the significance of such a unique biological phenomenon and became committed to documenting this unique event.

During a two-year period, Herrera flew his own plane 33 times over the Gulf Coast north of  Tampico, Mexico, conducting aerial surveys in search of the mass sea turtle nesting. In 1947, he finally uncovered the event, but his discovery would remain unknown to the scientific community for more than a dozen years.

“At the time of the film’s development, no one was able to connect the dots between the phenomenon of the mass nesting

This is a scene from the 1947 film by Andres Herrera.

and that the nests belonged to the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles,” Wibbels said. “Herrera was a hobby enthusiast who wasn’t aware of the pursuit in the scientific world to uncover this location. Meanwhile, Archie Carr, who was considered to be the world’s leading sea turtles expert, had been searching for the nesting beaches for this species for decades.”

Carr searched for the Kemp’s ridley nesting beaches in all of the usual nesting regions, Florida, the Caribbean and the northern Gulf of Mexico. But after 20 years, he had found nothing.

“He had no logical explanation for the fact that this abundant turtle was seemingly not breeding or nesting,” Bevan said. “Scientists began to wonder whether the Kemp’s ridley could actually be a hybrid turtle.”

The dots were finally connected, and part of the mystery debunked, by Henry Hildebrand from the University of Corpus Christi, who heard about the film and viewed it in 1961. Later that year, Hildebrand presented that film at the annual meeting of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, revealing the news to the scientific community for the first time.

It was estimated by some who viewed the original black-and-white footage that there were more than 40,000 nesting Kemp’s ridley sea turtles on the beach that day. Wibbels and Ms. Bevan’s recent study reflects more conservative, but still remarkable, numbers.

Wibbels and Ms. Bevan calculate that there were 26,000 sea turtles on a 1- to 2-mile stretch of beach on the day the film was taken.

The results from the study published this week indicate that approximately 120,000 to 180,000 nests were laid over the entire 1947 nesting season in contrast to approximately 14,000 nests in the most recent nesting season.

This new information on the historic population size greatly increases the mystery surrounding the abrupt decline in the recovery of this endangered species since 2009. The number of nests laid in the 2015 nesting season represents a 34 percent decline in comparison to 2009, and this occurred during a time when exponential growth of the population back toward historic levels was expected.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

                        Garden 2016
Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
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The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

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.

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.


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Real estate-related services (paid category)
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Real estate rentals (paid category)

Beautiful House Inside Gated Farm for Rent
House inside gated farm. Two bedroom, One bath fully-furnished. Close to town in Santa Barbara de Heredia.  $650 includes:  Internet, Wifi, Cable TV, Water, Electric.  Located in Santa Barbara de Heredia. American owner lives onsite, quiet, secure.  More information to my email:

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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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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Real estate for rent (paid category)

Puriscal rental
A peaceful place near Puriscal.
Property is a small house on a 16-acre farm in Desamparaditos, a small village located 5K NW of Santiago de Puriscal. 15 minutes to Puriscal, 1 hour to San José and the airport, all paved roads. House has 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, large  open kitchen/dining/living area and is fully furnished. Nice veranda with great views. Many fruit trees. Private but not isolated with all utilities. Rent $550/month long term, short term negotiable. Tenant pays for electricity and phone. Landlord pays water. No pets, please. In Costa Rica call Liz Guegan at 7187-8577, in the USA call Pete Todd at 970-221-1457 or 720-951-7928.

Two bedrooms plus additional on loft, furnished condo with garage, half block walking distance to Costa Rica international Academy. Gated compound on Country Club grounds across Fairway Five. USD $850 plus utilities. Info: US 925 755-4645 or  Note:

 CR house telephone number 2654- 4145  We will be in our house in Flamingo,  March 11 thru April 30.

                                              Valley view

Boutique quality mountain homes for rent located on a small horse ranch on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes have stunning views of Costa Rica's Central Valley. Located at 7,300-foot altitude, our ranch borders the Braulio Carrillo National Park and the homes are hiking distance to the Barva Volcano crater lake. We offer various rental options for our 1- and 2-bedroom homes. Contact us at Ajsanch783@AOL.COM for more details.

Fully Furnished American style Apartments for Rent
2-bedroom, 2- bathroom, fully furnished American-style apartments with elevator in a secure building in Barrio Amó. Cable, Internet, water included. Shared laundry. Convenient to Parque Morazán,
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Barrio Amon
the building to see the apartments.   For more information contact:  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.

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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 S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 61
Real Estate
About us

Axiom 890 pixels

U.S. withdraws its demand
that Apple crack its iPhone

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Justice Department said Monday it has accessed data on the iPhone used by a terrorist in last year's San Bernardino, California attacks, and that it no longer needs Apple's help in cracking the device.

Government lawyers won a court order last month compelling Apple to help access the phone as part of the investigation into the mass shooting that left 14 people dead.  But now with the government in possession of the data, it asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym to vacate her February order, which she did Monday.

Apple had been fighting the order that required it to write new software to disable passcode protection and allow access to the phone used by one of the killers, Sayed Rizwan Farook.

A court hearing scheduled last week was postponed after the government said it needed time to test a third-party method that would not require Apple's aid. The Justice Department on Monday did not identify who helped it access the data or what method was used.

Law enforcement’s ability to unlock an iPhone through an alternative method is bound to raise new legal questions.  Lawyers for Apple have said that the company would want to know the method used to crack open the device.

But the withdrawal of court process could take away Apple's ability to legally request details on the method the FBI used. It also is likely to raise questions among Apple customers and the industry about the strength of Apple’s security on its devices.

Obama urges newspeople
to dig deeper into the issues

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama urged journalists to dig deeper and to demand more Monday night in a speech highlighting the importance of free press in America.

Obama said the top question he gets when talking to world leaders is what is happening with U.S. politics.  He said the presidential campaign has brought divisive and often vulgar rhetoric that corrodes democracy and society.

"When our elected officials and our political campaign become entirely untethered from reason and facts and analysis, when it doesn't matter what's true and what's not, that makes it all but impossible for us to make good decisions on behalf of future generations," the president said.

The result, according to Obama, is that baseless assertions go unchallenged.

He acknowledged the financial pressures that have led news organizations to cut resources and staff, but urged them to allow reporters to dig deep into issues that are not flashy but merit attention.

"A well-informed electorate depends on you," Obama told journalists.  "And our democracy depends on a well-informed electorate."

He made a veiled reference to Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has used constant media appearances to promote his campaign without having to spend money on ads.

Obama said the electorate "would be better served if billions of dollars in free media came with serious accountability, especially when politicians issue unworkable plans or make promises they can't keep."

He also discussed the joint press conference he held last week in Havana with Cuban President Raúl Castro, saying it was a remarkable opportunity for Cubans to watch leaders face tough questions.

"I don't know exactly what it will mean for Cuba's future," Obama said.  "I think it made a big difference to the Cuban people.  And I can't think of a better example of why a free press is so vital to freedom."

Obama was the keynote speaker at the award ceremony for the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting.  The award is named in honor of Robin Toner, the first woman to be named national political correspondent for The New York Times.  This year it was given to Alec MacGillis of the investigative outlet ProPublica for his stories on campaign finance, lobbying and other influences on politics and governance.

Asian countries are negative
to Trump’s security proposals

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Donald Trump, the front-running U.S. presidential candidate for the Republican Party, is not winning a lot of friends among America’s key allies in Asia after criticizing their contributions to regional security and suggesting they develop their own nuclear arsenals.

In an interview with The New York Times, the Republican front-runner called for a complete reassessment of longstanding U.S. security pacts with Japan and South Korea.

Trump has in the past criticized both Asian allies as free-riders for paying Washington too little for contributing 50,000 American troops in Japan and 28,500 in South Korea to maintain peace and security.

Saying the U.S. cannot afford to be losing vast amounts of billions of dollars to support peace and security in the region, Trump told the newspaper he would also consider withdrawing troops if Tokyo and Seoul did not agree to increase security reimbursements to Washington.

Trump said he would be open to allowing Japan and South Korea to build nuclear weapons to defend themselves against potential nuclear threats from North Korea and China, adding, “if the United States keeps on its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway.”

Trump’s position has drawn harsh rebukes from officials and analysts who say such radical changes would greatly undermine U.S. credibility and alliances in the region, would likely lead to a nuclear arms race in Asia and would undercut international efforts to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

“It would be extremely damaging and plays right into the hands of the hardliners in Pyongyang,” said Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer in international relations with Troy University in Seoul.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga Monday rejected any suggestion that Japan might develop its own nuclear arsenal, saying, “The three non-nuclear principles of not producing, possessing or allowing nuclear weapons on Japanese territory are an important basic policy of the government.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, however, has been working to expand the country’s defense posture, and Trump’s comments about withdrawing from Asia could reinforce the need for a stronger Japanese military.

South Korean defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said Monday it would be inappropriate to comment on U.S. presidential candidates other than to say the Republic of Korea supports the security arrangements that have been in place with Washington since the Korean War in the 1950s.

“That alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States is firmly being maintained by the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Agreement. There is no change in this position and principle,” he said.

After North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January, some lawmakers in Seoul called for the development of a South Korean nuclear deterrent as well.

The President Park Geun-hye government, however, has rejected the need for nuclear weapons, relying instead on the protection of the U.S. nuclear deterrent guaranteed under its security alliance with Washington.

The Republican presidential candidate said he is not an isolationist, but wants to put the interests of America first.

Critics say the successful businessman and author of the book “The Art of the Deal” is not considering how U.S. economic and strategic interests have benefited from the American military presence in Asia.

Nor they say has he considered how a U.S. withdrawal and nuclear arms race would damage American interests, alliances and increase the potential for nuclear conflict.

“If you think ahead a couple of moves and you think of the consequences of such an action it really doesn’t make any sense,” Pinkston said.

Some South Korean newspapers have called Trump's comments dangerous and shocking.

The South Korean English-language newspaper JoongAng Daily Monday ran a strongly worded editorial criticizing Trump, calling his views myopic and utterly short-sighted.

Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed source saying, "If he becomes the U.S. president, it would be a problem for the Japan-U.S. national security system."

U.S. Capitol police shoot
man who pulled firearm

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Police at the U.S. Capitol shot a man Monday after he pulled out a gun and pointed it at officers during a routine security screening at the entrance of the site's visitor's center.

Authorities identified him as 66-year-old Larry Dawson from the state of Tennessee and said he was in critical condition after being taken to a hospital.

Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said a female bystander suffered minor injuries and that no officers were hurt.

"We do believe this is an act of a single person who has frequented the Capitol grounds before, and there is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act," Verderosa said.

Dawson was charged in October with unlawful conduct on Capitol grounds and assaulting a police officer after he stood up in the gallery of the House of Representatives and shouted Bible verses and proclaimed he was a prophet of God.

In addition to being charged, he was ordered to stay away from the area.  He did not appear for a November hearing in his case.

Congress was in recess Monday for the Easter holiday, but many tourists were taking tours of the Capitol when the shooting took place.  Those inside were told to shelter in place and police cordoned off access to the complex for a short time.

A lobbyist from California who was at the Capitol, Jill Epstein, said she was at the Visitor Center during a break in between her meetings. 

“As we were going through, just at security, at the metal detector, I was with my colleagues. One person had his wallet and his phone still on the conveyor belt, another one had her shoes off, and all of a sudden people start screaming, ‘There is an active shooter! Run!’ We didn’t know whether to go in or out, and we just got out.”

She said armed police were suddenly everywhere and told her to crouch down by an outdoor wall.

Verderosa said it appears the security screening process at the Capitol worked as it was supposed to. He said his office has not determined how many police officers fired their weapons at the suspect.

During the incident, the Secret Service closed the entrances to the White House as a precautionary measure, although no incident was reported there.

It is a busy week for tourists in Washington. Many of them have come to see the world renowned cherry blossoms that are now in full bloom around the nation's capital.

In 1998, two Capitol Police officers were killed when a man opened fire inside the complex. After that episode, Congress initiated plans for a new visitor center that expanded and improved its security.

Georgia governor vetoes
anti-gay discrimination bill

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The governor of the U.S. state of Georgia has vetoed legislation that would have allowed faith-based groups to use their religious beliefs to deny services to gays, acceding to the demands of major corporations that he reject the bill as discriminatory.

Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, said he vetoed the measure Monday because he did "not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia."

Conservative Christian groups in the southern state called for passage of the religious liberty bill to protect clergy who refused to perform gay marriages and churches and affiliated groups from serving or hiring someone if it violated their sincerely held religious belief.

But major U.S. corporations, including the Disney entertainment conglomerate, technology giants Apple and Intel, the Time Warner news media company and sports leagues called for Deal to veto the legislation, which had easily passed the Georgia state legislature. 

The companies said it would excuse discrimination and many threatened to boycott the state if the law took effect.

Deal said his decision to veto the bill was "about the character of our state and the character of our people.  Georgia is a welcoming state. It is full of loving, kind and generous people."

Disputes like the one in Georgia have cropped up in numerous U.S. states in the aftermath of last year's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Religious conservatives opposed to the high court's ruling have in turn sought, with little success, to win approval for state laws that seek to protect those opposed to providing various services to gays and transgender people, cultural and business decisions they say are based on their religious beliefs.

Push against child labor
targets cocoa growers

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Some 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from West Africa, most of it from Ivory Coast.  Child labor on cocoa plantations has been well documented and persists despite a 15-year-old agreement between the government and the world’s top chocolate sellers to stop it.
Cocoa plantations surround the small village of Bonikro in southern Ivory Coast and keeping children off those fields is the goal of an awareness campaign.

A speaker asks the crowd if their children should go with them in the field.

"No, because we use machete," replies a man. "Children can injure themselves; we should avoid it."

The event was organized by the International Cocoa Initiative that has been building schools and raising awareness about child labor in Ivory Coast since 2007.

The Initiative’s West Africa representative, Euphrasie Aka, says, "There are many drivers of child labor: lack of information, lack of awareness regarding dangerous work, poverty and a lack of infrastructure in rural areas.”

The Initiative is financed by some of the world’s top chocolate companies, including Nestle, which is facing a U.S. class-action suit for allegedly not disclosing on labels its suppliers might rely on child labor.

Ivory Coast cocoa production was slowed for a decade by conflict, which diverted attention from ending child labor.  Getting rid of child labor, however, can be profitable for farmers.  It is one of the conditions to having their cocoa certified fair trade and sold at a higher price.

At the entrance to the Coopadef cooperative in the town of Gagnoa, a mural sets the tone.  A red cross is painted over the picture of a child holding a machete in a cocoa field. "Children under 15 years old should be in school.  No to child labor," reads the text.

The Coopadef cooperative has been certified by Fairtrade International for five years. 

Its president, Christophe Koffi Kouakou, says the producers have built brick houses for themselves, roofs, and small solar energy panels, thanks to the premiums they receive.”

The cooperative keeps an eye out for child workers.

Cooperative worker Hervé Bolou visits members to check that no children are doing dangerous work.

Bolou says at first, people would tell us, "But when we were children, we worked in the fields."  He says he replies, "We all did it, but you saw how it limited us, some got illnesses, some did not have time to study."   He says now people understand.

It is not just local children, however.  Sometimes, children are trafficked from neighboring countries.  In June, Interpol rescued 48 children from Ivory Coast cocoa plantations.

The operation was backed by the Ivory Coast first lady's office, which has been coordinating the effort against child labor and child trafficking.  It has launched poverty-reduction initiatives to reduce the use of child labor, such as providing microcredits for women to diversify their incomes between cocoa harvests.

Yet, an estimated 1.1 million children worked on cocoa plantations during the 2013-2014 harvest season.  The government says it aims to reduce that number by 70 percent in the next four years.

New graphene membrane
touted as clean water aid

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Clean drinking water is essential for good health and disease prevention. But according to the World Health Organization, some 663 million people, one out of every 10 people in the world, do not have access to safe water. The high cost of water purification devices keeps clean water out of reach for many communities, especially in developing countries. But science may soon help solve this problem.

Researchers have developed nano-scaled membranes that could filter contaminants from water faster and more cheaply than current methods.

Developing the perfect water filter is Baoxia Mi's goal.

Growing up in China in the 1980s, she learned the value of clean drinking water early on. Her interest in water and the environment has inspired her career. Recently, at the University of California, Berkeley, she's pioneering research in purifying drinking water and wastewater in new ways.

The environmental engineer is developing a new type of membrane that could be more efficient than today's water filtration technology and consume less energy in the process. It's made up of layers of graphene, 100,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair.

"We made it from graphite, which is a material that we use in pencils for example, so it's cheap and relatively abundant,” she said. “So we can use that, and the process that we use to make from the graphite to the graphene oxide is actually quite scalable."

That means the membranes could be adapted to filter water from a faucet, as well as for large systems used to treat wastewater.

The membranes are much like a maze for water molecules. The water passes through a series of layers separated by spaces specifically designed to remove different types of contaminants.

"In order to kind of remove different targeted molecules," Ms. Mi explained, "the most direct way of thinking about it is to control the spacing that we have between the layers."

The researchers are working on further improvements, and Ms. Mi said the nano-filters could be available in a few years. Her team hopes their work will contribute to finding solutions to water purification worldwide, making clean water affordable and available for people everywhere.

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and lots of other great properties! Property listings in Escazú, Herradura, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and beyond. We offer efficient, personalized service always protecting our client’s interests. Contact us today with your questions about buying property in Costa Rica. With 11 years experience in Costa Rica real estate.

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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Negotiable price. Thirty thousand seventy square meters. The house is seven hundred fifty squared meters, built three years ago. Five bedrooms plus servant's room with bathroom. Each bedroom includes private bathroom. Master's room includes Jacuzzi and hidromassage. Two main living rooms plus visitor's parlor and hall, two furnished kitchens, all ceramic. Nineteen rooms total counting three offices, eight-car garage. Has 220-volt current with three distribution panels. First-quality water plus well, decorated stone walls, recreational area, second house eighty squared meters, hot water systems, cable, telephone, light system throughout property, river, part forest..

For health situation, the owner make a INCREDIBLE DISCOUNT!!!!

ORIGINAL PRICE: $1.800.000    OFFER PRICE: $1.200.000
 For more information click HERE!
To see more photos click HERE!  To see house video click HERE!

English language contact:
Christian Arce
Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8309-0173

Spanish language contact:
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Phone: (506) 2494-0016
Cell phone: (506) 8707-4016

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A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq. ft. of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out. The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the backyard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden. This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town. Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small. The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate. Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José. Just reduced to $199,000. Call Jeff: 8725-8176. Email:


San Rmon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Ocean View Property for Sale in San Ramón
1.5-acre lot with spectacular ocean views. Ready to build. Mild climate year round with an average temperature a cool 74 degrees. Spectacular panoramic views of
                                for sale
the ocean and port of Puntarenas during the day, breathtaking views of Esparza at night. Fully titled and owned under a Costa Rican corporation. $50,000. Short-term owner financing available. For more info: Contact: Frank

Jacó beach unique home. First time offered
This house has never been listed.  It is a 3-bedroom, 1-bath home approx. 100 feet above sea level on the only hill in Jacó one mile to the beach.  Totally remodeled to a Gringo house.Has great fenced yard for dogs and a huge screened porch with  great views all around, including a small ocean view.  New in the last two years includes: new kitchen with granite counter, cedar cabinets, all new windows, tile, water system, updated electric & plumbing, superb new AC units (low electric bill), This is half of a duplex with a platted yard.  Other side is the chief of police.  Secure & private.  $169.900. Call Glenn at 506-6214-0056 or

La Uruca condo
Situated three miles west of the capital, eight miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, six restaurants,  next to two bus line stops. Car ownership is not needed. January-March air temperatures are 72 to 80 degrees F. Apartment 1,200 sq. ft (100 sq. meters), on ground floor, indoor  patio. Large windows without bars, parquet floors. Spacious living room-dining area, two bedrooms, maid's room, two bathrooms, four closets  (including walk-in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine, small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools).  Many amenities, (pictures, indoor plants, sewing machine, books, keyboard, dishes, glassware, silverware). Annual cost of maintenance about $1,350 includes water, landscaping service, garbage disposal, 24-7 security and property taxes. Price $120,000. Available for viewing:  Mid-January to beginning of April. Contact:  USA :  585 544-4296. Costa Rica : 506 2231-0410

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

Costa Rica tropical paradise beach house for sale

Tropical five-acre forested beachfront property with custom house and guest casita on the Osa Península, south Pacific Coast. Abundant wildlife, exotic plants and fruits, secluded beach.  Located 8 kms. south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $750,000. Contact Roger. Phone number  (506) 6142-7228   Email: Watch this video for full details.

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike: 
Check out slide show HERE!

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, March 29, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 61
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
orange trees
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Ed Stover.
This photo shows the Hamlin/Kinkoji variety at left and the Sugar Belle/Sour Orange to the right, two of the citrus trees in the study. Sugar Belle/Sour Orange showed the greatest growth rates.

Orange varieties resist dragón amarillo

By the American Society for Horticultural Science

The citrus disease huanglongbing is endemic in Florida, where it is estimated that more than 80 percent of citrus trees are currently infected. Largely as a result of this devastating disease, Florida citrus production in 2014-15 was the lowest recorded in the past 50 years.

Sweet orange and grapefruit, which account for more than 95 percent of Florida citrus production, appear to be especially compromised by the disease, which also is present in Costa Rica. Understandably, there is an urgent need to identify citrus varieties that can resist the widespread disease. A new study in HortScience identified some scion/rootstock combinations that show potentially valuable tolerance to huanglongbing.

Ed Stover, Sharon Inch, Matthew Richardson and David Hall from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service said that, although there are no commercial citrus varieties with strong huanglongbing resistance, some field tolerance has been seen in trees that were exposed to the disease after they reached maturity.

To learn more, the researchers studied tolerance to huanglongbing under field conditions for newly planted trees of scion/rootstock combinations. The trial included 20 trees of seven varieties. Trees were planted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture research farm in Fort Pierce, Florida, and were analyzed over five years.

All of the trees had symptoms of huanglongbing and tested positive for the Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus bacterium by 20 months after planting. Despite becoming infected by the bacterium, the trees continued to grow and all scion/rootstocks displayed increasing fruit production although production was very low in Hamlin/Kinkoji, Hamlin/Cleopatra and Ruby Red/Kinkoji.

Sugar Belle/Sour Orange, Tango/Kuharske and Temple/Cleopatra exhibited the greatest growth rates and canopy volumes, while the slowest growth rates and canopy volumes were seen in Ruby Red/Kinkoji. Although it had the greatest rate of growth, Sugar Belle/Sour Orange had the highest percentage of leaves showing mottle, showing the infection.

It remains to be seen whether the tolerance in some scion/rootstock combinations permit reasonable production of fruit of commercial quality, the authors said, but it is promising that several mandarin hybrid/rootstock combinations displayed markedly greater growth and cropping compared with sweet orange/rootstock and grapefruit/rootstock combinations under very high disease pressure.

In Costa Rica, the disease is called dragón amarillo. The Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería has declared an agricultural emergency over the problem.

Right now the main way of fighting the disease is to spray against the Asian citrus psyllid  (Diaphorina citri), a tiny bug that sucks on leaf sap and leaves behind bacteria.

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From Page 7:

Chinese buyers continue effort to own Starwood

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

China's Anbang Insurance Group renewed its fight Monday for control of a large U.S. hotel company, increasing its offer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Anbang, engaging Marriott International, the biggest U.S. hotel company, in a bidding war, offered $14 billion for Starwood, which controls 1,300 properties in 100 countries.

Starwood, which operates the St. Regis, Westin and Sheraton hotel brands among others, said the Anbang offer was reasonably likely a superior proposal that topped Marriott's $13.6 billion offer of a week ago.

But Starwood's board did not immediately change its recommendation to support its merger with Marriott, which would create the world's biggest hotel company with 1.1 million rooms.  The Starwood board said it would consider the offers over the coming days.

Beijing-based Anbang already owns one major U.S. hotel, the Waldorf Astoria in New York.