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(506) 2223-1327                      Published Tuesday, April 3, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 67                            Email us
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Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública


Is one of these

your passport?

If so, you have big trouble. These were confiscated from an immigration officer Friday. Investigators presume he was faking exit and entrance stamps for perpetual tourists. They'll be around to see you soon.

See story

Rules finally issued for paying that new corporate tax
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Registro Nacional has put on its RNPDigital Web site the rules for paying the new tax on corporations and similar entities.

The posting specifies that the tax this year is 135,225 colons or about $270 for active corporations and 67,612.50 colons or about $135 for inactive corporations.

The only bank authorized to collect the money is Banco de Costa Rica, said the posting. The Registro said that the bank's Web site would have an online method for payment, but as of Monday night there was no obvious way to make the payment by those who are not Banco de Costa Rica customers,

The deadline for payment is the end of the month. The amount this year is just 75 percent of what will be due next year in January because the tax only covers three-quarters of the year in 2012.

Those who have studied the Registro posting, a posting by Hernando Paris, minister of Justicia y Paz and a directive say there is some good news. Persons who wish to remove themselves as having responsibility for a corporation can do so for just 2,000 colons ($4) in fees at the Registro. Of course there are lawyer fees to prepare the documents for filing. This is good news from individuals who might be serving as a corporate officer but not really be an owner. Normally the fee for making such a filing is 35,000 colons or about $70. This action can be taken until April 1, 2014, said the Registro.
That big discount is important for those who might be in business or be a lawyer and have their names on many corporations. Otherwise, they would be liable personally for payment of the tax even if they did not have ownership.

Exempted from the tax are those companies that have filed with the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio as small- and medium-sized firms. The deadline for doing so and avoiding the tax was April 1.

Companies that do not pay the tax within 30 days will be listed as deadbeats by the Registro and will not be able to make legal transactions there, the posting noted. After three years of non-payment, the Registro will cancel the company, it noted.

But the tax still will be payable.

Some expats reported that they had tried to make payments at Banco de Costa Rica Monday and were met with blank stares. There is no paperwork involved. The Registro said that all that the bank teller will need is the cédula juridica of the corporation, the identifying number.

The bank is supposed to have available a list that shows if a company is active or inactive, according to the Registro.

Although the new tax, which mostly goes to the security ministry, seems fully in force, some expats and Costa Ricans have said they will challenge the measure at the Sala IV.


 
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A.M. Costa Rica will continue to publish this week through Thursday. That is part of the newspaper's commitment to keeping expats here and readers outside Costa Rica informed.

The newspaper will not publish Friday, a legal holiday, and the Barrio Otoya offices will be closed Thursday and Friday. However, editors will continue to monitor the news and update the newspaper or issue special bulletins as developments warrant.



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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.


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Woman survives attack
but endures 50 stab wounds


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators did not say if she was a girlfriend or a wife. But the relationship was enough to provoke 50 stab wounds at a cabina in Santa Cruz.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that Sunday a man arrived at the Cabinas Las Tecas in Barrio San Martín and pulled a knife on a man who has the last name of Guido. He is 24. The man with the knife stabbed the 24 year old in the hand and Guido fled, agents said. But then the man with the knife turned on the woman, identified by the last name of  Ortega. She also is 24.

The assailant, identified as someone who has a relationship with the female victim, stabbed her at least 50 times, according to agents. Somehow she survived because the judicial police and the Poder Judicial are calling the case attempted murder.

Our readers' opinions

Government's priority list
probably not universal


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I find it annoying when people complain about the government doing some good. But what about this, that or the other thing? Because the government can't tackle every issue at once, they should do nothing? Even though your priority list is different than that of many other people, the government should listen to you and do what you say, because why? You know best?

The government represents all the people (or it should) not just you. It has to balance the cost vs benefit of every project it undertakes and is ultimately answerable to the voters. I applaud the government for taking a step in the right direction regarding public smoking.

Rick Lariviere
Playa Garza

Awareness is needed
to fight Pacific evictions


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have been a long time reader and supporter of your articles.  I want to thank you for keeping on top of the Palo Seco story.  I believe that it is because of your publicity efforts that we can increase the awareness needed to fight the unjust actions of the government. 

It amazes me that the central government can suddenly declare it illegal to live there after they have collected taxes and dispersed title to generations of families have lived on Palo Seco.  If they get away with such blatant hypocrisy then all property in Costa Rica is threatened and no investment is safe from the government's whim.
 
Craig Adams

 
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 HERE!
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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, April 3, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 67
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Immigration agent detained with fist full of U.S. passports
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For years some perpetual tourists here have faked their exits and re-entries into the country with the use of compliant immigration agents.

These are the residents, mostly North Americans, who are required to leave the country to renew their tourist visa every 90 days. In fact, the perpetual tourist is a resident but someone who chooses not to file for residency.

Some complain that the residency application is too costly, citing lawyer's fees of up to $2,000. Others just do not have the money to post to be a rentista and do not have a valid pension to qualify for pensionado status. Others are in flight from some crime up north and cannot provide a clean police record.

For years there have been intermediaries who would carry the expat's passport to a border crossing where for a fee an immigration agent would fake the exit and re-entry. On the Caribbean coast there was a notorious taxi driver who did this at Sixaola. In the Central Valley there was a criminal ring that simply faked the immigration stamps in the passport. Elsewhere there always were extra official stamps that could be used to fake the exit.

When Mario Zamora Cordero became director general de Migración y Extranjería he was well aware of the ongoing illegalities. He ordered that new stamps be created, each with the name of the immigration official who would use it.

Zamora is now head of the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública, the ministry that includes immigration. He is conducting an anti-corruption effort that includes immigration as well as the Fuerza Pública and the Policía de Control de Drogas. There have been arrests of members of all those agencies.

The latest was Friday at Sixaola on the southeastern border
more U.S. passports
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Investigator takes the names and other personal data from U.S. passports that were confiscated when an immigration agent came under arrest in Sixaola.

with Panamá when investigators detained an immigration agent and confiscated U.S. passports.

The man has his first court appearance Monday in the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda del Segundo Circuito Judicial de San José. He faces a fraud charge. Presumably the owners of the passports that were confiscated will be receiving visits from investigators because they are suspects in a bribery probe.

The man is the third immigration agent to be arrested in recent months by the Unidad de Investigaciones of the Policía Profesional de Migración, the ministry noted.

For the expats involved, there could be serious repercussions. Some may own businesses or real estate here, but they are facing possible expulsion that would prevent them from returning to Costa Rica for a number of years, if then. They also may face a criminal charge.


Finance minister involved in tax scandal submits resignation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance minister bowed out Monday to protect the president's plan for new taxes.

He had been under fire because he and his wife evaded an equivalent of 300,000 colons in property taxes a year for 10 years by failing to update the value of their holdings. That was revealed by the Spanish-language La Nación March 26.  Herrero was the leader of the administration's effort to pass the 14 percent value added tax. The amount is about $600 a year.

Opponents of the tax cited widespread evasion that should be attacked first, so the revelation jeopardized the tax, which already has received a first vote in the legislature.

Initially, Laura Chinchilla Miranda defended the minister, who headed the Ministerio de Hacienda. She blamed his failure to pay on regrettable carelessness. However, it became clear that the newspaper's articles had generated a wave of criticism.
La Nación said Herrero and his wife failed to report the value of an Escazú home for nearly a decade. Municipal tax is assessed on the self-reported values of homeowners, but the newspaper used established land values to make comparisons between what was on the books and actual value.

However, the resignation may have been in anticipation of another La Nación article today that said Herrero and his wife failed to report 50 million colons or about $100,000 in income from a corporation in 2010.

Vice President Luis Liberman received the resignation, but the Casa Presidencial announcement was accompanied by kind words from Ms. Chinchilla.

Liberman will supervise temporariliy the ministry, which includes the budgeting and tax collecting agencies.

There was no word about other ministers whom the newspaper identified as tax evaders.

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President joins others at U.N. seeking new economic paradigm
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda was among those Monday promoting a new economic paradigm that incorporates social and environmental progress in efforts to achieve sustainable development. Also promoting the concept was U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The location was a meeting in New York convened by the Government of Butan titled “Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm.”

Ms. Chinchilla noted in a speech that development has been measured in terms of national income.

She also said countries like Costa Rica in the tropics are paying a high cost for the impact of global warming due to hurricanes and prolonged droughts. That was a replay of her comments in October at a Central American meeting when she said that smaller countries should be compensated for the weather problems brought about by the industrialized nations. A.M. Costa Rica quoted historical sources at the time that said the worst Caribbean hurricane was in 1776.

The meeting Monday was a preliminary to the  U.N. Sustainable Development Conference, also known as Rio+20, in Brazil in June.

“We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness,” the secretary general told the meeting’s participants.

In the early 1970s, the Himalayan kingdom introduced a new measurement of national prosperity, focusing on people’s well-being rather than economic productivity, the U.N.noted. In recent years, there has been growing interest in this concept known as gross national happiness.  The General Assembly adopted a resolution in 2011, which noted that the gross domestic product indicator does not adequately reflect the happiness and well-being of people in a country.
Ms. Chinchilla
Casa Presdiencial photo
Michelle Bachelet, the former president of Chile and now head of U.N. Woman, greets Ms. Chinchilla.


Ms. Chinchilla noted that the New Economics Foundation put Costa Rica first in its happiness index. She also cited the recent World Happiness Report by Jeffry Sachs, John Helliwell and Richard Layar in which Costa Rica received a positive mention.

Casa Presidencial noted that Sachs, director of Earth Institute, was at the meeting. He is from Columbia University in New York.

Ms. Chinchilla gave her listeners a brief history lesson about Costa Rica and its long concern for the environment and its abolition of the military in 1948. She promoted a holistic approach for what she termed integral development.

Ban praised the Bhutanese government for initiating the meeting, and noted that other countries have also started to explore various ways to measure prosperity that go beyond material wealth such as Costa Rica, which strongly supports environmentally responsible development, and the United Kingdom, where statistical authorities are experimenting with measuring national well being.


The rains were mostly in the mountains around Central Valley
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The first really good storm of the year socked the mountains around the Central Valley Monday. Some high points had as much as 47.2 millimeters of rain. That's nearly 1.9 inches and the amount was recorded on Cerro Chitaria in Santa Ana after 7 a.m. Monday.

In San José the rain was not even enough to register although there were some sprinkles.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional had predicted some afternoon rains in its Semana Santa report. But for the most part the day was cloudy and dry in the Central Valley.

About the same is predicted for today with day-long cloudiness in the Central Valley and the central and south Pacific. The north Pacific will see partly cloudy or nearly clear skies, said the weather institute.

Again, the weather forecast said there will be showers in the mountains. Also predicted was slightly lower temperatures but continued humidity. The Caribbean coast is likely to have partly cloudy skies with isolated showers mainly in the south.

The storm that swept west of the Central Valley Monday was accompanied by lightning, and some electrical distribution systems were affected as well as some cable television lines. It served to remind residents that they need to protect their electronic equipment before the rainy season.
wet fruit
A.M. Costa Rica/Shahrazad Encinias Vela
Jacotes covered with plastic shows just slight sprinkles

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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Obama, Harper and Calderón
discuss drug-related violence

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Barack Obama says drug-related violence in Mexico could have what he calls a deteriorating effect on U.S.-Mexican relations.

Obama spoke Monday after a White House summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Mexico's war against drug gangs fighting for turf near the U.S. border was a major topic at the talks.

Obama said that when innocent families, including women and children, are gunned down in the streets, it is everybody's problem.

“Criminal gangs and narco traffickers pose a threat to each of our nations. And each of our nations has a responsibility to meet that threat.”

Obama said the United States has a responsibility to reduce the demand for drugs and to stop guns and cash from flowing across the border into Mexico.

President Calderón said Mexico cannot stop the violence without a halt to gun trafficking. He called on the United States to renew an assault weapons ban, saying the ban's expiration in 2004 coincided with the rise in drug-related violence in his country.

About 50,000 people have been killed since 2006, when President Calderón sent the army into northern Mexico to tackle the drug gangs.

The three North American leaders also talked about the economy and trade. They spoke about the need to strip away regulations that they say stifle trade.

Prime Minister Harper said Canada has no immediate plans to scrap visa requirements for Mexican visitors. He said that is the only tool Canada currently has to effectively deal with what he calls large-scale phony refugee claims.

Also Monday, a U.S. federal judge in San Diego, California sentenced former Mexican drug gang leader Benjamin Arellano Felix to 25 years in prison. The judge also fined him $100 million.

Felix led the notorious Arellano Felix Organization — one of Mexico's largest and most violent drug trafficking rings. Prosecutors say the gang was responsible for murder, chaos and suffering on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Mexico extradited Felix to the United States for trial last year.

Obama hosted the sixth North American Leaders' Summit, the first since 2009, although the three men have met at the G8 and G20, and summits of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada are linked in the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in 1994.  Last year, total U.S. trade in goods with its two neighbors exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.

President Obama noted that this supports about 2.5 million American jobs.  He said the leaders discussed ongoing steps to create economic opportunity, and increase exports.

"We are doing everything we can to speed up the recovery and that includes boosting trade with our two largest economic partners.  As president, I have made it a priority to increase our exports and I am pleased that our exports to Canada and Mexico are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world," Obama said.

The United States is providing $1.6 billion in aid to Mexico.  U.S. aid to Central American nations exceeds $300 million.

President Obama also reiterated his determination to achieve comprehensive reform of the U.S. immigration system.  Opposition from Republicans in the U.S. Congress has frustrated his efforts.

Monday's summit was the last for Calderón, whose six-year term as president ends in November.  Mexico holds presidential elections July 1.

Obama, who is running for a second term, said he looks forward to having an excellent working relationship with the next president of Mexico.


Colombian rebels let go
10 long-held hostages


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Red Cross says Colombian rebels have freed 10 hostages held in the jungle for 12 years or longer.

Officials with the International Red Cross say the four soldiers and six policemen were airlifted from their jungle prison Monday aboard a helicopter supplied by the Brazilian air force. They were flown to the city of Villavicencio.

The Fuerza Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia, known as FARC, promised to free the captives in February.  Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has refused to negotiate with the rebels until it stopped kidnappings.

But some Colombian civilian groups believe the rebels still hold as many as 700 hostages and they doubt the rebels are serious about talking peace.

The Fuerza Armada Revolucionarias has been active since 1964, saying it is fighting for the rights of the poor.  It funds its operations mainly through drug trafficking and holding hostages for ransom.

Colombia, the European Union, and United States regard the Fuerza Armada Revolucionarias as a terrorist group.
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Latin America news
cell batteries
Poder Judicial photo
This is a cell site that has eight lead batteries back in place.

Technician suspected of theft
involving cell tower batteries

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

One of three persons suspected of stealing expensive batteries from the Movistar cell telephone firm is a former telecom technician with more than 10 years experience, said the Poder Judicial.

He was identified by the last names of Rivera Solano. He and two companions were detained.

Fuerza Pública officers, acting on telephoned information, detained the trio at a cell tower in Atenas. The three had entered the site after cutting the locks, said the Poder Judicial.

Prosecutors are seeking three months of pre-trial detention. In all, officials said that four towers had been the location of thefts.

The object was the lead batteries in the base of the towers. The Poder Judicial said that the batteries are a backup system in case the electrical current fails. The cell towers would continue to handle calls. The value of the stolen batteries was estimated Monday at $30,000.

Had the power failed early Saturday,the communities of  Palmares, Atenas, Grecia, Orotina and La Garita de Alajuela would have been without Movistar cell service, said the Poder Judicial.








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