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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 10, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 71
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Semana Santa begins with Palm Sunday parade
Palm Sunday
                            procession
Arquidiócesis de San José photo
Father Francisco Morales, the episcopal delegate for San José, marches solemnly between parishioners and other participants in the capital’s Palm Sunday procession. The parade began at the Catedral Metropolitana and included the participation of the city’s archbishop, José Rafael Quirós.

On guard
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo






Fuerza Pública officer is on guard during conference over recent police raids. The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública is promising a full-frontal nationwide crackdown beginning the first of May.
Nationwide crackdown on crime to begin May 1
By Conor Golden,
News Editor for A.M. Costa Rica

After a crackdown on a club and another raid yielding a substantial amount of drugs, the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública is announcing a zero-hour nationwide crackdown beginning the first of May.

The Fuerza Pública made the announcement Sunday that it would be collaborating with multiple municipal police units throughout the country to visit areas and notorious crime haunts.

These would be check-ins at bars, vacant lots, stores and other places. Much like any military operation, just the where and how these operations are going to go are unknown. Equally unknown are what tangible results these operations will yield.

Juan José Andrade, head of the Fuerza Pública, said that the increased police presence and operations will last from May to the end of the year.

Joining the municipal police and Fuerza Pública will also be the traffic cops, immigration police and the Ministerio de Salud, officials said.

Call it coincidence or intuition, but the announcement comes following Thursday’s massive overdose in front of Venue bar in San Pedro de Montes de Oca where 15 people apparently consumed a drug called K2 and required medical assistance along with a police intervention.

According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, K2 is the nickname for a brand of synthetic cannabis. These drugs are often falsely labeled as safe, when its effects could, not only be much more powerful than natural marijuana, but also unpredictable and life-threatening as well.

First responders from the police units evaluated the situation as critical and called 911 to send several ambulances. Two people were then hospitalized. The action also included members of the anti-drug and canine unit as well.

The incident prompted the Municipalidad de Montes de Oca to announce Friday afternoon the closing of Venue for two weeks while the investigation continues. The bar already had three infractions on record, according to police, including possession of unregistered firearms by security guards and reports of gunshot injuries.

Two other bars in the same complex have also a history of trouble. One of them called Spot

was visited by Fuerza Pública for a brawl in mid-February. The other one, Dope, has accrued 11 infractions since January, mostly for allowing minors in the premises.

Meanwhile, police officers conducted road checks Saturday and seized what the ministry is calling its largest quantity of K2 in Central American history.

This was the same drug related to the incident at Venue. Police said that the estimated value of the bust is worth around $14,414 in colons. Officials said the cargo of K2 was located 11 a.m. Saturday in Ciudad Colón at the Josefino de Mora canton.

This comes with more news of a raid on a bunker in Barrio México that yielded a slew of drugs including crack, K2, cocaine, and marijuana.

The estimated value of all the drugs seized was put at around $6,777 in colons, officials said. The raid was conducted by the special operations unit of the Fuerza Pública.

The recurring motif through the entire statement by the Fuerza Pública included that the actions were carried out for the health, safety and welfare of youth in the country.

To that end, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social issued its own statement pleading to the public to reduce drug use among children and young adults.

Over half of the children admitted to the Hospital Psiquiátrico had mental health disorders due to issues of drug abuse, according to Cristiam Elizondo, the hospital’s deputy director.

This data comes as the result of a study conducted last year by José Joaquín Díaz Mazariegos, an epidemiologist at the hospital, that concluded alcohol and drug consumption as the main diagnosis.

Mazariegos also noted that the male population is the group most affected by such consequences.

With regard to discharge diagnoses, mental and behavioral disorders due to drug use were the most frequent cause of attention, followed by depressive episode and acute psychotic disorder, according to the study’s findings.

The consequences of addiction, according to Elizondo Salazar, are shown in the amount of children and adolescents who are arriving at the hospital with physical and mental alterations produced by these psychoactive substances.


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 10, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 71
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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.
Legal Services

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TAX FRAUD DEFENSE /  PANAMA PAPERS

I.R.S. Criminal and Civil Issues

Consult with a U.S. licensed Tax Attorney in Costa Rica concerning your I.R.S. Issues

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I.R.S. Criminal Investigations, including non-filing of tax returns, tax evasion, filing false income tax returns, money laundering, currency reporting requirements, offshore banking reporting requirements, false statements, and false offer in compromise submissions.

Confidential and Privileged Communication
Former University Lecturer and I.R.S. Lecturer
Harold P. Gewerter, Esq., Ltd., J.D., M.S.
Email: hgewerterlaw@gmail.com
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Toll roads free beginning this Thursday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It looks as if the toll fees are being lifted beginning this Thursday in anticipation of the Semana Santa holidays coming up, according to the public works ministry.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad announced last Friday that, from noon on Holy Thursday until 6 a.m. on Saturday, the toll roads are opening up for free passage for travelers. Consejo authorities explained that the measure is taken each year to facilitate the transfer of people who go to and from the beaches on those days.

According to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes, the toll booths located at the General Cañas and Bernardo Soto highways as well as at the stations at Ruta Nacional 2 and Ruta Nacional 32 will be tariff-free during the aforementioned hours.


Platina opening delayed until mid-May

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After so many weeks of waiting, the Alfredo González Flores bridge over the Río Virilla is still not going to be open.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes gave the announcement Friday afternoon saying that the bridge, colloquially known as the platina, is going to push back its opening day to the third week of May. The bridge has been under construction for months now after the ministry shut it down for a complete overhaul back in late January. In prior statements, officials said that the only part of construction left is laying down the concrete, change the rivets and do some paint on the steel.

The lanes being worked on now are the ones going toward Alajuela when the bridge is opened. The ministry said that the added reinforcement work on the bridge will increase the load capacity by 70 percent. The bridge represents one of the major arteries between San José and Juan Santamaría international airport in Alajuela.

The ministry announced back in March that the bridge was 80 percent complete, however it is looking like those estimates were mistimed. A statement by the ministry last week said that only two-thirds of the concrete and grids on the lane going to Alajuela have been demolished and replaced.

In an attempt at being positive, the public works minister, Carlos Villalta, said: “We are clear about the importance of this work. That is why we are accountable and give clear explanations, as we have done throughout this construction process, so that citizens are certain of what we are doing.”

Andrés Muñoz, the engineer in charge of the project, stressed that the work has not stopped on the bridge despite the announcement of further delays. The ministry set a goal of April 30 for the entire concrete platform that the asphalt will sit on to be ready.

Meanwhile, the current hours for traffic on and over the bridge is still being maintained. From midnight to noon, it is the two lanes going toward San José that are open for transit, while only one is open going toward Alajuela. From noon to midnight, it flips and two lanes going back to Alajuela are open while one lane is open toward those going into the capital.

According to the Policía de Tránsito, there is no need to change that schedule anytime soon. The reasoning is that traffic will be significantly reduced following Monday.


Diario Extra scores another court victory

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The foreign minister, Manuel González, seemed to have deep-sixed his effort to get high court magistrates to force a daily newspaper into printing his comments.

The newspaper in question, Diario Extra, said Thursday that the Sala IV constitutional court rejected the appeal because the foreign minister did not follow up with required information.

The information was pretty easy to obtain. The newspaper said the court gave the minister three days to provide the newspaper’s legal registration number, the cédula juridica, and the address of its location. The request to the court also did not say to whom legal service should be made, said the newspaper in a news story.

This is basic information that usually is provided in any legal document being submitted to a court.

González filed his appeal March 6 after executives of the Spanish-language daily newspaper declined to respond to his demand to be allowed to publish a rebuttal to news stories. Then he issued a press release.

The case involves what the minster calls incorrect and offensive news stories, including some that are opinion pieces and one that is an editorial.

The allegations stem from eight articles published in February that question the way diplomatic staff members are selected or were critical of individual diplomats overseas.

One Feb. 21 article said in a headline that the foreign ministry needed an exorcism.

Much of the minister’s appeal is a defense of the Comisión Calificadora del Servicio Exterior, the ministry’s committee that picks foreign diplomats.

The newspaper noted Thursday that González received strong criticism even from his own party.


Man arrested for attempted blackmailing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 20-year old man was arrested Thursday night in Corredores on the allegation that he blackmailed teenagers into having sex with him, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The man allegedly created fake Facebook profiles and looked for teenage females to add him as a friend. After gaining the girls’ trust, the man would then ask them to send him nude pictures of themselves, officials said.

Once he got those, he would threaten the minors with publication if they didn't have sex with him, according to investigators.

One of these victims filed a complaint in February, which prompted the authorities to investigate and raid the man's home.  During that raid, judicial agents seized several CD's, a thumb-drive and other electronics that will be analyzed in case there are more victims of the blackmailing.

The man was taken into custody and sent to Ministerio Público. He now faces the charge of aggravated corruption.

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Costa Rica

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 10, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 71
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Our reader's opinion
Muddled priorities mark the crusade against human trafficking
Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Scott Pralinsky’s letter about human trafficking in Costa Rica, together with the website of the foundation he heads, Casa Milagro, illustrate the muddled priorities and distorted data that are fueling the crusade against human trafficking.

To his credit, Mr. Pralinsky recognizes that human trafficking includes forced labor, trade in organs, and other evils besides the sexual exploitation of underage girls.  However, his foundation mainly focuses on the sexual exploitation of underage girls. Whereas no nonprofit can address every problem, it’s unfortunately typical of the crusaders to quickly whittle it all down to girls and sex.

Once human trafficking is whittled down to this, however, the crusaders face a problem, namely a lack of evidence for more than an occasional handful of victims.

This lack of evidence is on annual display in the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports, which always declare that “Costa Rica is a source, transit, and destination country for  . . . children subjected to sex trafficking” and even that “child sex tourism is a serious problem,” but never support these accusations with solid evidence.

Mr. Pralinsky’s letter excuses this lack of evidence in the TIP reports by explaining that their goal isn’t to document the existence of child sex trafficking, but to evaluate Costa Rica’s progress in combating it. 

On what basis though does Washington declare that the problem exists in the first place? And why should Costa Rica comply with Washington-mandated strategies to combat a problem without evidence that it exists? 

Mr. Pralinksy then excuses the lack of evidence in the TIP reports by explaining that the staff of the U.S. Embassy isn’t charged with investigating human trafficking, but merely uses the evidence made available to it by local authorities.  The implication is that Costa Rican authorities are lax.

They may be, but these same authorities arrested, prosecuted, and convicted a sex tourist for merely operating an adult-oriented website.  Mr. Pralinksy, though, wants us to believe that they wink at people pimping children.

Mr. Pralinsky proceeds to reassure us that, despite the absence of evidence in the annual TIP reports as well as from Costa Rican authorities, there is plenty of other evidence of child sex trafficking.

He tells us, for example, that the State Department has “great detail” about trafficking-related offenses in Costa Rica that “stays in Department channels and is not expounded upon” in public.

He also writes that people “in the know” are aware that child sex trafficking is a “huge problem,” even if neither the authorities nor the public share that awareness.  In short, Mr. Pralinsky tells us that evidence exists, but for some reason it’s kept secret. Isn’t it more likely that the evidence doesn’t exist?

But Mr. Pralinsky has his own evidence, drawn from his experience running a shelter for victims.  That evidence is of 30 girls caught up in prostitution who his organization helped over a period of 18 months.  He admits, however, that 29 of these girls were prostituted by their own families. This is plausible.

Some kids come from troubled families, and Mr. Pralinksy has apparently discovered the minority matrilineal family structure in Costa Rica in which prostitution is essentially the family business, passed on from mother to daughter. Still, finding 29 of 30 children pressured into prostitution by their families is hardly evidence of child sex trafficking.

What though of the one girl who Mr. Pralinsky claims was forced into prostitution by someone outside the family?  He tells us that coercive person was none other than a sex tourist!


The question we might ask, and according to Mr. Pralinsky was asked by State Department officials, is why neither this sex tourist nor the 29 families were prosecuted by Costa Rican authorities.  Mr. Pralinksy’s implied answer is once again that the Costa Rican authorities are lax.  Isn’t it more likely that there wasn’t any evidence that the girls were forced into prostitution in the first place?

Meanwhile, as has become customary among those “in the know,” the so-called “facts” section of Casa Milagro’s website includes the usual undocumented claim that thousands of girls in Costa Rica are victims of child sex trafficking, as well as the usual zinger that “many of these child victims are being used for child sex tourism.”

Never mind that year after year passes without a single tourist discovered molesting a minor, much less involved in human trafficking.  Also never mind that even Mr. Pralinsky was only able to find one possibly culpable sex tourist after a year and a half of searching. Contrary to fact (yet in a section labeled “facts”) the website confidently declares that sex tourists are exploiting thousands of trafficked children in Costa Rica.

It’s good that people like Mr. Pralinsky help troubled girls, even if the more heart wrenching stories may involve the effeminate boys cast out by their families and left to survive as gay prostitution in the streets.  A nonprofit has to choose the population it wants to serve, and girls suffer too.

However, I fail to see why the problems these girls confront are redefined as human trafficking, why tourists are slurred in the process or why State Department officials are apparently in private discussions with Mr. Pralinsky about the very different problem of human trafficking.  

Of course, money is at stake.  Since human trafficking, or more precisely child sex trafficking, is a popular outrage these days, it behooves nonprofits relying on donations to redefine their missions as battling child sex trafficking. 

Then, when it comes to wheedling money out of the U.S. Embassy, it is especially helpful for nonprofits to link their missions to combating sex tourism, since sex tourism embarrasses the bejesus out of Washington and it is happy to throw money at anything that combats it.

To his credit, Mr. Pralinsky is honest enough to add “yet” when he writes that his foundation hasn’t received funding from the U.S. Embassy. Presumably he’s looking forward to the day when he too can be on the receiving end of Washington’s largesse. 

But to merit funding, Mr. Pralinsky has to convince the powers that be, and perhaps himself, that the troubled kids he helps are victims of human trafficking, even victims of sex tourists, rather than merely, well, troubled kids. 
Ken Morris
San Pedro


Prisoners trounce their guards 11-0 during Friday's soccer match
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some expats may recall the 1974 sports comedy film “The Longest Yard” about a team of convicts recruited to play an annual football game between prisoners and their guards. In Costa Rica, the movie becomes reality and the football game becomes a fútbol game.

The first soccer match between the members of the penitentiary police and the prisoners at the Centro de Atención Institucional San Rafael occurred this Friday. The prisoners had an apparent advantage with one of their teammates being a former minor league soccer player, Juan José Guevara.

According to the Ministerio de Justicia, his skills as a soccer player showed as “Saprissa,” the nickname given to him by his teammates and also the name for the San José soccer club, scored three goals against his opponents. The prisoners crushed the guards 11 to zero with the final score, according to the ministry. Even the prison warden, Miguel Lobo, joined in on the game.
The game was realized thanks to the support of prison officials and the Federación Costarricense de Fútbol.
cuffed soccer players
Ministerio de Justicia photo
Prisoners, though cuffed on the bench, still feeling good.


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Juan Santamaría: the story of a sacrifice that created a national hero
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tomorrow's holiday celebrates the Costa Rican national hero Juan Santamaría and above all, the most important military victory of the country against a foreign invasion.

That invasion, led by Tennessee-born General William Walker, was part of his effort to turn all of Central America into a pro-slavery U.S. colony.

That same date back in 1856, an army made up almost entirely of Costa Rican peasants led by then-president Juan Rafael Mora Porras fought the imperialist forces in the city of Rivas, Nicaragua. By then, Walker had become president of that country and was seeking to expand his power over the rest of the isthmus.

The foreign army of mercenaries hired by Walker took a guesthouse as its stronghold. That house was called El Mesón. The filibusters had a clear line of sight to pop off any Costa Rican soldier that came charging around.

Strategically, it seemed as if they could control the battleground so long as they held their position and had enough ammunition.

By most historical accounts, the fighting was horrible and disadvantageous for the poorly trained Costa Ricans. The battle lasted for several hours. The untrained, inexperienced army could not figure out how to reach El Mesón and drive the filibusters from their advantageous position.

In spite of the risk, General Jose María Cañas opted for an open offensive strategy. He realized he must set El Mesón on fire to get the soldiers out. That was the only chance they had to secure control of the city. To that end, he asked among the ranks for volunteers who would run toward the building and set the roof, as much as the house, on fire.

To commit such an action, any volunteer must have realized that the act would be potential suicide.

There would be no cover to hide behind from the hail of gunfire from the filibusters and anyone would be almost completely exposed.

The only way to survive this raid would be to run and keep moving.

A 25-year old drummer boy born in Alajuela volunteered and, according to mainstream history, he only requested that, should he fall, his superiors should take care of his mother.

The young man ran into the house, receiving several shots in the process, including one in his right arm.

Juan Santamaria
Wikipedia photo
"La quema del mesón pro Juan Santamaría," by Costa Rican painter Enrique Echandi

Before he breathed his final breath, however, the drummer boy successfully set the place on fire. The legend of Juan Santamaría was born.


It is estimated that the Costa Rican army suffered close to 500 casualties, while on the filibuster side about 250 soldiers died, according to historian Ivan Molina in his book “La Campaña Nacional 1856-1857.”

According to records accumulated from the Museo Histórico Cultural Juan Santamaría, it seems as though Costa Rica did live up to the soldier’s request when the legislative assembly approved a request for a pension for Manuela Carvajal Santamaría on November 1857.

Costa Rican president Mora approved the legislature’s move of three pesos a month for her lifetime. That was later increased to 12 pesos a month less than seven years later, according to the museum’s record.

There has been much controversy about Juan Santamaría among historians, some of them have claimed this hero did not exist and it was merely created to secure a sense of martial pride and national identity. Others have claimed Santamaría was, in fact, a Nicaraguan citizen.

Despite the controversy, everyone agrees that was a decisive loss for Walker. The filibusters eventually surrendered on May 10, 1857. Walker himself was executed by the government of Honduras three years later.

Today, Alajuela hosts its historic Juan Santamaría museum and in the center of its main park arises the statue of the national hero. It was unveiled on Sept. 15, 1891, by then-president José Joaquín Rodriguez.


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See www.liveincostarica.com for details and itineraries
9168-3/17/17

HIdden Garden
                              graphic
Put Costa Rica on your walls
The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is the perfect place to find quality Costa Rican and international art for your home or office.  With over 60 artists and 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we have been your source for fine art since 2010.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever. Located just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport (towards the beaches).

Visit our Web site at:  www.HiddenGardenArt.com
Contact us by email: info@HiddenGardenArt.com  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
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Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
International shipping available.
9140-5/1/17

George Lundquist header

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
 *HIGHEST SUCCESS RATE
OF RELOCATION*

 (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!
HERE!

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. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

George Lundquist

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8995-4/17/17

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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9118-6/26/17

Real estate rentals (paid category)

rental home
Beautiful Home for Rent
San Isidro Del General, Perez Zeledon. The beautiful southern zone. By week or month.  Only 10 minutes to town. Fabulous, artistic, one Bedroom, elegantly furnished home, overlooking river,  and near to attractions at the beach or mountain. Comes completely furnished with custom queen bed, orthopaedic mattress, all linens, large kitchen, all pans, dishes, silverware, blender new refrigerator, stove with oven, washing machine, glove leather couches, breakfast nook, patio with hammock.  Has also large bodega, with extra full sized bed, can sleep 4. Comes with satellite TV & WIFI. Located next to small river, with access to river pools, and over 60 varieties of rare, tropical birds. Only 45 minutes to beach, Playa Dominical and 40 minutes to National Park Chirripo. Perfect weather. Not hot like the beach. No car needed, bus take 15 minutes to town, costs 30 cents. Gated private and secure, near bus, mini markets. This is a complete home, artistic, beautiful surroundings, with convenience and privacy, yet near to it all. Nice folks.  For more photos and information: james43michael@gmail.com  Costa Rica phone: (506) 2771-4339
9178-4/7/17

Poas chalet
What a chalet!
We offer for rent a boutique quality 2-bedroom (BR)/1-bath mountain chalet, and a 2-BR/2-bath mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude within the limits of a small horse ranch.  Located just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance, our homes sit on the strategic high ground of Costa Rica’s Central Valley, and are contiguous with the park’s 47,000 hectares of primary cloud rainforest. The chalet and mountain home include a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace, and covered parking.  All utilities and wifi internet included. Please contact Allan or Cristina at barvavolcano@gmail.com for photos, pricing and contract details.
9163-3/10/17


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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 of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442
9055-2/23/17

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on SellMyTimeshareNow.com at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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centers, but are surrounded in lush, tropical forest. Villas are also available for sale in our inventory, so you can enjoy yearly vacations to this mesmerizing rainforest paradise. Please visit our rental inventory HERE!  or call us toll free at 877-815-4227, International: 603-516-0200.  Email: info@sellmytimesharenow.com
9049-7/31/17





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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 10, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 71
Calendar
Opinion
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Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
Bomb attacks on churches
kill at least 44 in Egypt


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bomb attacks at two Coptic churches in Egypt killed at least 44 people and injured more than 100 as worshipers where marking Palm Sunday.

The first blast was in the northern city of Tanta, where a powerful explosion ripped through a Palm Sunday service at St. George's Church, killing 27 people and wounding 78 others, state TV reported. The explosive device was planted under a seat in the main prayer hall, it said.

In a separate incident, at least 17 people were killed and 41 others wounded in a suicide bomb attack outside St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for both blasts. In Alexandria, Pope Tawadros II, head of the Coptic Church, had been attending mass inside the targeted church but was not hurt, state media reported.

After the bombings, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi declared a three-month state of emergency. "A series of steps will be taken, most importantly, the announcement of a state of emergency for three months after legal and constitution steps are taken," Sissi said in a speech aired on state television.

The blasts appear to have been timed for maximum impact, as people gathered to mark Palm Sunday. It is one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar, marking the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up roughly 10 percent of the population, has increasingly been targeted by Islamist extremists.

On Sunday, Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, denounced the bombings and expressed his deep condolences to Tawadros II and all of the dear Egyptian nation. Sources close to Pope Francis told Arab media he has not canceled plans to visit Egypt, later this month.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, “So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt. U.S. strongly condemns.' He said he has great confidence that President Sissi will handle the situation properly.

A Coptic church spokesman said the head of the church, Pope Tawadros III, who was conducting Palm Sunday services inside the Alexandria church, may have been the target of the attack.

Eyewitnesses in Tanta said an explosive device detonated near the church altar as worshipers recited prayers. Victims of the blast were taken to several nearby hospitals and residents of Tanta were urged to donate blood.

Amjed Abdel Raouf, dean of the Tanta Medical College, says doctors are doing their best to care for victims of the blast. He says that more than 60 wounded people were taken to two government hospitals. He said some victims had suffered burns and others were being treated for shrapnel wounds.


U.N. ambassador warns
of more strikes on Syria


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is suggesting if President Donald Trump needs to carry out more military strikes on Syria, he will.

"He will not stop here," Ambassador Nikki Haley told CNN on Sunday. "If he needs to do more, he will."

But Ms. Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave mixed signals on the priority of removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

"There's not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime," Ms. Haley said. "If you look at his actions, if you look at the situation, it's going to be hard to see a government that's peaceful and stable with Assad.

But Tillerson said defeating Islamic State is still the paramount U.S. goal in Syria.

"It's important that we keep our priorities straight," Tillerson told CBS's "Face the Nation." "And we believe that the first priority is the defeat of ISIS," an acronym for the Islamic State group.

"Once the ISIS threat has been reduced or eliminated," Tillerson said, "I think we can turn our attention directly to stabilizing the situation in Syria."

The top U.S. diplomat added, "We're hopeful that we can prevent a continuation of the civil war and that we can bring the parties to the table to begin the process of political discussions" between the Assad government and various rebel groups trying to overthrow the Damascus regime.

On Saturday, Syrian warplanes resumed flights from an air base targeted in Friday's U.S. cruise missile attack, according to a provincial governor who said the base was operating from what he described as a first phase.

The comments from Homs provincial Governor Talal Barazi came just hours after the Syrian government said the U.S. missile attack on the Shayrat air base had caused extensive damage.

Barazi did not offer further details, and the U.S. Defense Department referred questions about conditions at the air base to the Damascus government.

Monitors from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier said Syrian warplanes were able to take off from the base Friday and struck rebel targets in eastern parts of the province.

It was not clear whether planes from Shayrat participated in strikes Saturday that killed at least 18 civilians near the small city of Sheikhoun. That city was hit early last week by chemical weapons that U.S. authorities say were fired by Syrian warplanes, sparking an international outcry and the U.S. cruise missile retaliation three days later. Russia said that a conventional airstrike hit a rebel depot containing toxic substances.

The Observatory said the Saturday strikes may have been carried out by Russian warplanes, which began backing Syrian military operations last year.

Trump ordered the missile strikes on Shayrat after rescue workers said at least 100 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded in the chemical strikes at Sheikhoun.

Trump later suggested on Twitter the Shayrat runways had not been the primary missile targets. He did not elaborate, other than to note that runways are easily and quickly repaired.

A U.S. Navy admiral said the missile strikes had destroyed the ability of the Syrian military to launch chemical strikes from the base. Admiral Michelle Howard, who heads U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa, said U.S. forces are prepared to carry out further strikes if needed.

Assad's government has repeatedly denied using chemical weaponry in its fight against rebels seeking to topple the Damascus regime.

Idlib province is largely controlled by a rebel alliance that includes al-Qaida-linked fighters who have battled to oust the Damascus government for most of the past six years. Idlib's rebel population has swelled in recent months, due largely to a series of agreements with Damascus allowing rebels safe passage to the province from other areas of the country.


Swedes gather in capital
following terrorist attack


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tens of thousands of Swedes turned out in Stockholm Sunday for what they called a love-fest after Friday's terrorist truck attack killed four people and injured 15.

A 39-year old Uzbek believed to have extremist sympathies is under arrest for allegedly ramming a stolen truck into a crowd at the Ahlens department store.

Friday's attack apparently had little effect on liberal Sweden's global reputation as an open and welcoming society.

One participant at Sunday's rally said that the fact the suspect is a refugee means nothing.

"This is a sick individual and has nothing to do with his refugee status. I think most Stockholmians realize that just because you are a refugee or a Muslim doesn't mean you are a terrorist."

Police arrested the Uzbek-born suspect hours after the truck attack. He was known to intelligence services since last year when he disappeared before he could be deported after his application for asylum was rejected. Authorities knew he had pro-extremist sympathies.

But no group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack and no motive is known.

Police say they have arrested a second person in connection with the attack, but have given no further information.

Photos taken at the scene Friday showed the vehicle was a truck belonging to beer maker Spendrups, which said its truck had been hijacked earlier in the day.

Witnesses say the truck drove straight into the entrance of the Ahlens Department Store on Drottninggatan, the city's biggest pedestrian street, sending shoppers screaming and running. Television footage showed smoke coming out of the store after the crash.

Closest flyby of asteroid
in 10 years, astronomers say


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A relatively large asteroid will cross Earth's orbit around the sun this month. Astrophysicists and astronomers said there is no chance of a collision, but it will be the closest flyby of an asteroid that large for at least another 10 years.

Asteroid 2014 JO25, discovered three years ago, is about 650 meters (2,100 feet) in diameter, 60 times as large as the small asteroid that plunged into the atmosphere as a meteor and exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013. That blast was felt thousands of kilometers away and caused havoc on the ground, damaging more than 7,000 homes and offices and injuring 1,500 people.

Asteroid 2014 JO25's pass by Earth on April 19 will be a near miss, cosmically speaking. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said no one should worry: There is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, but this will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size.

The Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union classifies 2014 JO25 as a potentially hazardous asteroid. Astronomers classify asteroids as minor planets; when they pass close to Earth they are termed near Earth objects.

An animation of the intersection of Earth's orbit and that of 2014 JO25, prepared by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a unit of the California Institute of Technology, makes it look like an awfully close call, but the hard facts are more reassuring: At its closest point, the asteroid will be about five times as far from Earth as the moon is, more than 1.75 million kilometers away, or around 1,087,400 miles.

Although the asteroid is expected to be twice as reflective as the moon, it will be difficult to spot in a night sky filled with stars, and certainly not without help. Scientists say the sort of telescope amateur astronomers use should be adequate to pick out the space rock as it whizzes across the sky at 74,500 miles per hour.

EarthSky.org, a website that follows developments in the cosmos and throughout nature in general, has posted an article with detailed information to help sky-watchers find the asteroid on April 19, and for a day or two afterward.

Professional astronomers also will be tracking 2014 JO25 closely. Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, an extremely powerful radio telescope center, will study the asteroid for five days.

After all, it's not often that something as big as this comes along, even a couple of million kilometers from home. NASA says 2014 JO25 hasn't been this close to Earth in the past 400 years, and it will be at least 500 years before it comes back for a repeat close encounter.


4,000 Somalis living in U.S.
about to be deported back


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Somalia's U.S. ambassador said his embassy has learned that U.S. immigration agents are planning to deport about 4,000 Somali nationals now living in the United States.

"We learned through immigration sources that the total number of the Somalis that are in the books of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be removed are close to 4,000," Ahmed Isse Awad said Saturday. "Most of them are not in detention centers."

Since Somalia's embassy in Washington reopened in November 2015, the ambassador said, about 170 Somali immigrants who either ran afoul of U.S. law or had their asylum applications rejected have been deported to Mogadishu, the Somali capital.

Most of those previously deported had applied for but been denied political asylum in the U.S., he added. Another group of Somali applicants whose requests for asylum have been denied are now in detention centers or prisons, awaiting deportation.

Fewer than 300 Somalis are scheduled to be moved out in the next couple of months, Awad said, adding that his embassy was awaiting information from U.S. authorities on who the deportees were and when they would depart.

Immigration agents recently arrested 82 people from 26 nations during a five-day operation in and around the U.S. capital.

According to a statement from the agency, 68 of those detained between March 26 and 30 had previous criminal convictions, for crimes including armed robbery, larceny and drug offenses. All but three were arrested in the state of Virginia.

One of those arrested last month, Awad said, was a 50-year-old Somali man who identified himself as second in command of Somalia's National Security Service. He had previously been deported to Somalia in 1996.

"According to ICE, he came back to the U.S. in 1997 under a different name," the Somali envoy said. "In 2014, he was jailed for 11 months for forgery and drug-related crimes, and since then has committed several other felonies."

U.S. immigration officials said eight of those arrested during the immigration and custom’s end-of-March roundup had no known criminal records; they either had overstayed visitor visas or ignored final orders to leave the country.

Some of the Somali nationals who already have been sent back to their homeland have told media outlets in Somalia they found a different and dangerous country awaiting them in East Africa.

Since Somalia has lacked a strong central government for more than a quarter-century, many Western nations have refrained from forcibly returning Somali immigrants to their home country because of safety concerns. U.S. immigration policies have been tightened considerably under the administration of President Donald Trump, and such a clemency policy for Somali nationals is no longer being observed.


More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
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Plantation Acres
PLANTATION ACRES
This exiting new project offers spectacular home sites with breathtaking ocean and forest views stated on 100 acres of tropical forest.

* On-site Welcome Center
* Located between Punta Leona and Playa Agujas
* At just an hour from San José, the capital city.
* 5 minutes from Los Sueños Marina and 18 Hole Ted Robinson Golf Course
* 10 minutes from Jacó Beach, Costa Rica’s lives beach town

Contact:
Johnny Lopez
Phone: (506) 8945-5820 / (506) 2643-3356
Email: johnny@c21jaco.com
9141-3/23/18
9141-3/23/189173-9/1/17

Puriscal home
GORGEOUS MOUNTAIN & OCEAN VIEW HOME
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
HEALTH CONDITIONS REQUIRES QUICK SALE
This is a gorgeous, new, 3-bedroom luxury home on 2.2 flat acres in a secure, gated community, high in the hills of Puriscal, with stunning, 180-degree views of the ocean, city and mountains of the Central Valley in Costa Rica. Centrally located in the heart of Costa Rica, you are never more than an hour from the Pacific beaches while being much less than that to the culture, shopping, services and night life of the San José, Escazú, Santa Ana and the whole Central Valley. The Altos de Antigua gated community sits at an altitude of 2,800 feet with mild temperatures year round. Features wide paved roads and cement culverts throughout, a large community pool & spa with changing rooms & showers. The community association fees are $42 a month ($500 annually).
This property is currently being offered for $355,000.00 U.S.
Purchase adjoining 2.2 acre investment lot with the home sale for $35,000.00 U.S. or separately for $55,000.00 U.S.
 
    Summary of House Features:

       * Completed 2012 to North American standards
       * 3 large bedrooms, 2 full baths
       * Custom designed kitchen w/granite countertops
       * Frigidaire Professional appliance package
       * State-of-the-art solar hot water
       * Eco-friendly Toshiba LED lighting
       * LG Multi-Split air conditioning system
       * House & perimeter security alarm system
       * 2-car closed garage w/large paved driveway
 
Video Tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUEAmahIU9A
Community Web Site: http://www.altigua.com
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email gary_one@msn.com
9173-9/1/17

colinasdelsol
COLINAS DEL SOL Fenced Gated Lots for Sale

* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit trees.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $40,000 USD
* Located in Libertad, Guanacaste, northwest Pacific area of Costa Rica.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
* 5 minutes to Vista Ridge Golf Club

Contact:
In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:  jsandimurray@colinasdelsolcr.com
In the USA and Canada contact Jim Day: jimday50@aol.com or call 517-484-3675

For more information Click Here: www.colinasdelsolcr.com
9056-2/28/17

Etlinger
                                      Farm rollover
Beautiful farm in excellent location
At only an hour's drive from San José, minutes from Guápiles, and boardering Braulio Carrillo National Park, Etlingera Farms is one heck of an amazing farm. We purchased this 77-acre farm 10 years ago after many trips, and an exhaustive search. It has a little bit of everything we were looking for and a whole lot of beauty. Our average elevation of 600 meters helps to keep Bella Vista cool year round. This farm is nearly level with a semi-modern 2-bedroom house. A fairly rustic 2-bedroom caretaker's home. And, a comfortable, 1-bedroom cabin where we stay. We have 2 large barns, a chicken coop, and a 3-stall pig pen. There are two tilapia ponds and 2 hectarias, (approximately 5 acres) of different species of bananas. The property boarders Rio Blanco in the rear and has 300 meters of public road frontage. Water, electricity, and telephone are all serviced by public utility. Etlingera Farms was reforested with several thousand wood trees of different tropical varieties. We truly believe this farm is spectacular. Our neighbors are selling for as much as $20 per meter. We are negotiable, motivated and open to offers. Our location can be found by searching Etlingera Farms on Google Maps. Our webpage is www.etlingerafarms.com and photo album can be found at www.ticorico.com
9196-4/25/17

horse
                                      ranch rollover
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need. The price of our listing Rancho Ricco is $799,000. More information
go to www.ranchforsalecostarica.com  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:  darin_ricco@hotmail.com
9183-6/13/17

Kkpit
                                      rollover

FURNISHED  APARTMENT for SALE.
CONDOMINIO SATURNO, LA URUCA, OUTSKIRTS
of SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA
Situated 3 miles west of the capital, 8 miles from the airport. Quiet, secluded area within walking distance to a commercial center including a hotel, 6 restaurants,  next to 2 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, 2 bedrooms, maid's room, 2 bathrooms, 4 closets  (including walk in), fully equipped kitchen (refrigerator, washing machine,small appliances, all necessary utensils, work tools). Close covered parking space in guarded area.  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:   CONTACT:  USA :  (585) 969-3413 or (585) 266-7418 or in COSTA RICA : (506) 2231-0410.   email: boriskopit@yahoo.com
9143-4/17/17

rollover
Owner Financing in San Ramon
New Construction, and Ocean View 
Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. Located only 45 minutes from the San Jose airport and about the same to the Pacific Ocean.  The lower level could be used as a separate apartment or mother-in-law setup. Home includes HUGE master  suite, CLOSETS, custom cabinets, granite counter tops, high wood ceilings, and all in an area that is 70-80 degrees year round. Priced at $199,000. Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour CLICK HERE or see our site here  www.whynotcostarica.com. If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call # 509-570-1928 or email tim@whynotcostarica.com 
9143-2/3/17

Penthouse rollover
Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to www.ThePenthouseCostaRica.com  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email crstratton@ymail.com
9132-6/1/17

Business for sale or lease (paid category)

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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Remax
                                        Tamarindo
www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about Costa Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and & commercial real estate. Twelve (12) agents to serve you, from Playa Marbella to Playa Dante in the Guanacaste, through our Tamarindo and Flamingo offices. For more information, please contact our local phones: 506-2653-0073 Tamarindo / 506-2201-9056 Flamingo ~ Toll Free: 1-866-976-8898 or email:  info@remax-oceansurf-cr.com  or click here www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com
9145-1/2918

ReMax Playas del Coco
We are an award-winning Team of Professional Agents working with Costa Rica’s #1 Selling Real Estate Agency RE/MAX Prestige Ocean Properties. Get to KNOW, LIKE & TRUST us and let us help you find YOUR Pura Vida! We have over 30 years of experience to educate our buyers and sellers in all aspects of Real Estate.  For Information on condos, homes, lots, farms, ranches, commercial or development property
CONTACT US TODAY with NO OBLIGATION whatsoever.

Playas del Coco Click Here!

Playa Panama Click Here!

Playa Hermosa Click Here!
Peninsula Papagayo Click Here!

Playa Matapalo Click Here!
Toll Free 1-877-293-1456
Email: michael@costarica-realestate.com

9174-2/7/18

Real estate-related services (paid category)

A-1
                                        graphic
A1 MASTER BUILDERS COSTA RICA
SMALL and LARGER jobs welcome !!!. We can build from any plan you bring us all work done by USA codes master electric and plumbing Better quality and lower prices than USA. We do it all Right  + Reasonable.
Call us: Toll Free 877-778-8515   
     Text from US: 804-313-6382 
     CR phone: 506-8307-0164
     Email: hotelescazu@aol.com
     For more info also see our sites:
    www.a1masterbuildercostarica.webs.com
    www.hotelsescazu.com
    www.hotel4salecostarica.com
    www.wind-solar.webs.com 
9142-7/27/17

SellATimeshare.com
Browse timeshares for sale and rent by owner in Costa Rica at bargain prices. We connect existing timeshare owners with those looking to buy or rent a timeshare on the resale market. Timeshares on the resale market are up to 50% cheaper than those sold through the resort. Buy, sell or rent a timeshare at SellATimeshare.com. 
9004-4/26/17

COSTA RICA SOLAR
solar one

solar two
NOW with the New Power Company Regulations, we're installing photo voltaic systems for solar electricity.
PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!

Solar device
NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
Solar collector
BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill.
More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.

    We aren't Cheap...Neither are our Products. Call to Compare.
    More Flexible, Reliable-and Fully Guaranteed!

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
Solar logo
CALL TODAY!
Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398
OUR EMAIL:
 andrefurlong@gmail.com
Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com
VISIT OUR WEB:
www.crsolar.net 
9177-6/19/16



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A.M.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 10, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 71
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It's time for little plants to leave home

The sky is overcast, and there is a persistent drizzle that promises to erupt into rain at any moment. It is either foggy or a cloud has slipped off the hills and settled on the yard. No scorching sun, no bright blue sky, all in
Victoria
                                  Torley
all, a perfect day for transplanting my lovely seedlings. After all, the greenhouse is getting a bit full.

First, the dancing lady ginger. There are so many things with ginger in their names that sorting out what is ginger and what isn’t is difficult. The dancing lady is a short plant. Mine are under a meter

x

when mature. I collected the seeds from a plant a friend was growing. The plant makes a  lot of seeds, all in nice little pods. Unlike some seeds, they germinate like crazy, so I have a lot of dancing ladies.

Then come the Surinam cherry trees, called pitanga here. They aren’t from Surinam, and they aren’t cherries, but they did germinate well and have reached transplant height. The tart fruit makes excellent jam and a topping for ice cream, so I want them to be successful. Each little tree will have its own little fence, just in case the dogs decide to romp through the orchard.

The ylang ylang trees are still a bit small to transplant directly into the yard because they are beloved of leaf cutter ants, so I moved them to larger pots so their root systems will have lots of space. In the future, they will go down the hill and get surrounded by lemon grass plants. I have been told that ants don’t like lemon grass so perhaps it will help protect the ylang ylang.

Then there are my herb plants. I was told they were sage then someone said oregano, so I am confused. Still, the cuttings rooted like crazy and there are a dozen plants to tuck away in the garden. It’s just that I don’t know if I should put them in spaghetti sauce or use them when I am making sausage. I bet a friendly chef can tell me though, and I know several.

The orchid trees (no, not real orchids) are still small, but there are several friends who want one so they go into a special giveaway spot. Even small orchid trees seem to do well when transplanted, so I’m not worried about letting them mature in a friend’s yard.

One sad thing to report. My short day sweet corn, which was over 2 feet tall and so happy in its special plot, was devastated by marauding cows. To say I was upset is an understatement. Next time I see a marauder, I am likely to have it barbecued.

Darn cows!

vanilla
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

Plant for the Week

There is a rumor that vanilla prices are going up – a lot – so this may be the time to grow your own vanilla. Will it take some time? Yup. I am retired. I have time. If you have time as well, get started with some cuttings. When your orchid reaches about 1.5 meters, start training it vertically, back and forth between two trees. That way, the flowers and beans will stay within reach instead of climbing into the treetops where they will be invisible. An old piece of hose supports this vanilla orchid in my shade garden.

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!
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From Page 7:


Concern grows for future colon exchange rate

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Most U.S. expats probably pay little attention to the slight movements in the colon exchange rate.

But behind the scenes, the Banco Central de Costa Rica is working hard to keep the rate stabilized. The bank is holding the dollar to just minimal increases against the colon by putting more U.S. dollars into the economy. The bank has done so more than a dozen times since the first of the year, including a $30 million sale of dollars back on March 23.


The bank does so in its daily private money market where only other banks can participate. The dollars come from the bank’s international reserves.


Still the dollar increased two colons Friday and opens today at about 556/568 at major state banks. That means a bank will give a customer 556 colons for each dollar sold to it and charge a customer 568 colons for the purchase of each dollar.


There is concern in financial areas as to how long the central bank can continue to hold the lid on a stronger dollar. One analyst estimates that the dollar will increase by about 20 colons this year to about 585 per dollar.


That is the short term. The long term is of greater concern.  No one is expecting the economic crash that the country saw in the early 1980s when inflation suddenly jumped to about 90 percent. Savings and investments were wiped out.


To prevent a repetition, the country made substantial economic changes and established tiny daily devaluations for the colon against the dollar. That policy changed in 2006 when the bank established a range of the value of dollars and said it would take action only if the exchange rate moved outside this range. Lately the central bank has discarded the ranges and says that it will use a more hands-on approach to keep the dollar stable.


Some expats have been critical and note that the bank actually is reducing the buying power of money that comes from abroad. Some Costa Ricans respond by noting that the U.S. Federal Reserve also keeps a firm hand on the value of currency by manipulating the basic interest rate.


Costa Ricans in business see some serious problems ahead for the colon. The Banco Central just forbade the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos from making a 30-year mortgage for a new building in dollars. The bank noted that the price regulating agency only has income in colons. The bank has also expressed concern at dollar-denominated loans in the private sector.


Clearly, the economists at the Banco Central see a continuing weakening of the colon against the dollar.


The economy is expected to be a major issue during the presidential campaign. The Partido Liberación Nacional presidential candidate, Antonio Álvarez Desanti, makes his living in the financial sector. The likely candidate for the Partido Unidad Social Cristiana is Rodolfo Piza Rocafort, a lawyer who has a long history of expertise in public finances including as head of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.


Whoever wins will face a governmental financial crisis. The Central Bank notes that the current government has reduced the annual deficit, but the politicians still spend way more than the country brings in, a gap more than 5 percent of the gross domestic product each year.


An effort to raise taxes is stalled in the legislature, and even those who support the proposed value-added tax and higher income tax rates agree that the measures will do little to staunch the financial bleeding.


Meanwhile, the government continues to make major purchases, including a $50 million farmers market in Sardinal and a $35 million convention center in Heredia. And the legislature is building itself an office tower.


All these deals are denominated in dollars.


The government also has been hit with bad marks by the international credit rating agencies which will make the cost of borrowing higher. The government borrows nearly 50 percent of the national budget each year.


Still a candidate who seeks the presidency with vows to cut jobs and reduce social spending are unlikely to win.