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(506) 2223-1327       Published Monday, April 13, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 71     E-mail us
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Some changes are afoot at data reporting agencies
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A few years ago data reporting was new to Costa Rica.  The major players in the market were, Cero Riesgo S.A., Protectora de Crédito Comercial S.A., and Trans Union Costa Rica.  Today the same companies still are in the market.  What is interesting is the increasing role they play in providing credit, localization and employment reporting to companies, lawyers and financial institutions. 

Everyone in Costa Rica, including expats, is being systematically logged into databases and the information is easy to get by everyone.  Everything one does is put under a magnifying glass, studied, categorized, logged and then sold to others. 

Datum is the clear leader with Cero Riesgo running a close second place.  The problem with Datum is the service tends to be very expensive for the common professional to use.  The firm charges a minimum of $150 a month for everyone except lawyers who get a special deal at $15 a month.  The monthly amounts are consumable.  This means the cost of running reports can be applied to the basic monthly fee.  If one uses up the monthly amount, additional credits can be purchased.  The other companies tend to be cheaper.  For example, Cero Riesgo charges a minium consumable fee of $25.

The basic reports offered by the data companies are: 1. a complete study of a person or company, which includes credit information, 2. an employment study, 3. and a localization report.  Interesting is that financial institutions in Costa Rica only report bad credit and not good.  This means that a complete study of a person or company will reflect bad credit risks.  If no bad credit is reported, it means the person or company is up to date paying bills.  The data companies also provide information that one can acquire for free at the Registro Nacional, but they charge for it.  If one goes directly to the Registro, the information tends to be more accurate and up-to-date. 

The Registro Civil provides some personal information about individuals like marriages, divorces and children.  It is free, too.  The data provided by the reporting agencies tend to be much more comprehensive for personal information.

Datum interestingly enough limits — and has been limiting more and more lately — what kind of information it supplies customers unless they can provide commercial references.  This is because a high-ranking law enforcement official is accused of using the information obtained from the reporting agencies to help others steal money.  For example, Datum used to provide all of its customers the telephone numbers listed in the name of a person or company and employment pay histories.  This information now is only supplied to select customers who qualify for the additional data.  Cero Riesgo supplies this information by default to all of its customers.

One of the best uses of these data reports is for employment purposes.  An interesting use of the services is pulling up a report while interviewing an applicant.  It is fascinating to see the expression on an applicant's face during an interview when an employer can ask the person on the spot about problems found in a report. 

The services now provide civil and criminal court cases against a person or company.  This information also is available online directly from the court system, but most people to not know how to use it.  It can be found at the Poder Judicial Web site.

One other major use of the reports is to find people.  This is called the localization service.  What the reporting agencies provide is all telephone and cellular numbers for a person and all their family members.  Lawyers and private investigators use the information to track down individuals.

The scary part is crooks use the same services to find people to do them harm.  That is a major problem and the reason some people have filed constitutional court cases against the data reporting agencies to get them to purge and not report certain information.  However, the court
magnifyng glass
They are watching you!

Cero Riesgo S.A.

InfoCrédito (Teletec)

Protectora de Crédito Comercial S.A.

Trans Union Costa Rica

has found all the information being reported is available publicly in other places and that all the reporting agencies are doing is compiling it and putting it in one convenient place.  That is what they charge for.

There is a way to get one's information pulled from the agencies.  However, it is an all or nothing deal.  A person or company needs to write each reporting company a letter requesting all of the information contained in their databases be blocked and not reported, including any pictures.  It is the obligation for the reporting agency to do so and not to report it with a statement it was blocked by request.  This can work against someone looking for credit or a job.  Having blocked information sends up red flags to a credit grantor or an employer.

There is currently a proposed law in the legislature to require anyone keeping data on people to register the databases with some government agency.  Think about this for a moment: It seems every company keeps some kind of database on their customers and clients.  Having to register the database with the government would seem to be a monumental task — not to mention keeping it all straight.  It will be interesting to see if the proposal goes anywhere.

The reporting of personal and company information is a controversial issue in Costa Rica.  Many want it to go away and have all information private.  Others want to increase what is reported and have its distribution even more available to everyone.  The problem is that the same information that is used for good purposes is also used by the bad people to harm others.

Garland M. Baker is a 36-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2004-2008. Use without permission prohibited.

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Texas A&M opening
research center here

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The international teaching, research and outreach of Texas A&M University takes on an added dimension with the start of operations at the new Soltis Center for Research and Education in Costa Rica, the university reported. The project is the result of a donation by alumnus Bill Soltis, and his family, said the university.

Soltis, a 1955 Texas A&M mechanical engineering graduate who lives in Houston and has had a long career in construction, with most of his business done in Costa Rica, approached university officials in 2005 about the possibility of creating the facility, they said. His vision was to provide more international experiences to A&M students, known as Aggies, while protecting the unique ecological setting and creating awareness for preservation.

The university said he proposed building the center’s classrooms, dormitories and related facilities at his expense on a 40-acre site and offering a long-term lease on 250 adjacent acres of rain forest. The site is near the town of San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, which is located about a two-hour drive from San José, the university said.

With all aspects of the proposal by Soltis now met — including construction of a large academic building and eight dormitories capable of accommodating up to 60 students and faculty — the university regents in December formally authorized the university to enter into a contract with the entity jointly created for its operation, the Casa Verde Research Center S. A. to support academic and research programs.

“We are most grateful to Mr. Soltis and his family for making this facility available to our students and faculty for a multitude of beneficial uses in both teaching and research initiatives,” said Texas A&M President Elsa Murano, “and we share his commitment to maintaining and enhancing the environment in this place of special ecological importance.”

Said Soltis: “Wanda and I are just thrilled that we can provide a facility for future generations of Aggies to both learn another culture and also understand the importance of conserving the beautiful places in the world like the Monteverde Rainforest in Costa Rica.”

Murano said the first students are expected to go to the Costa Rica Center during the early part of the spring semester. Formal dedication of the center is planned in June.

Initial student users of the Costa Rica Center will be from the College of Education and Human Development, the College of Geosciences and Texas A&M’s Dwight Look College of Engineering. President Murano noted that other academic units of the university are expected subsequently to take advantage of its unique ecological setting and ideal location for a variety of educational endeavors including the Memorial Student Center FISH organization for freshmen, and the Engineers with Borders.

Additionally, the center is envisioned as serving as a base for programs benefitting residents of the area around the rainforest — teaching English to local school children and developing water management programs, for example. Texas A&M faculty also identified a number of potential research programs in conservation sustainable design, hydrology, mapping of rain forest and others.

Our readers' opinions
Where is power grid threat
when controls can be manual

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Subject: Threatened Internet-initiated sabotage of U.S. power grid by Russia or Chinese hackers as reported recently in the media.

This is another instance of alarmist, incorrect reporting by the media. They say that not only the grid but utilities namely water and sewage plants could be shut down by action
via the internet. The media does not say how this would be accomplished.

Now, the grid is a network of high voltage transmission lines. Shutting down the grid means that the stations and substations serving the grid must be shut down.

First of all, most processes are computer controlled. The computers are dedicated to the utilities and plants they serve and are not connected to the Internet.

Secondly, the control panels in these facilities have a selector switch enabling the plant to switch from computer to manual control on computer failure. Any links to data to the plants via the Internet can be interfaced to prevent hacking actions and presumably this has already been taken care of.

John Whiley

Lifting bank secrecy rule
leaves reader unhappy

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

This latest decision to abandon the tenets of personal privacy and allow foreign governments access to any Costa Rican bank accounts they might feel like snooping around in has left me in shock! Is the Legislature TRYING to destroy the fragile economy of this nation?

While the article in A. M. Costa Rica said that this action was as a result of criticism by an "international organization that promotes taxation," this is principally about pressure from the United States and the insidious "IRS," (Infernal Revenue Service), which thinks that Americans who no longer live in the U. S. and therefore consume no services/resources whatsoever should still pay taxes, even as more and more billion dollar American corporations send jobs offshore, escape paying THEIR fair share of taxation and suffer no consequences whatsoever.

The article went on to say that "The organization.....also listed Malaysia, Philippines and Uruguay. Larger countries that have a reputation as tax havens were not listed, and the initial report from the organization did not say why the four countries were singled out."

Oh PLEASE! The larger countries were not listed because it's easier to threaten smaller countries with weaker economies! You didn't see Switzerland, the most notorious haven for dirty money on the planet listed did you? The Swiss hide and launder more cash in a day than any of the four listed countries do/could do combined in 50 years!

The United States government has been pressuring the Costa Rican legislature to allow them access to bank accounts here for years, and to their credit, the legislature has resisted up until now. One has to wonder what carrot/stick the U. S. used to finally pry this concession out of the Costa Rican government, (where's the transparency of government, amigos?), and whether or not Don Oscar, et. al., ever considered that this lunacy will most definitely provide yet another reason for Americans to choose another country in which to retire/invest at a time when this nation needs every tourist/investment dollar it can lay its hands on.

I wouldn't want to ride in a car driven by these visually challenged legislators because it would be hitting every tree, boulder and parked bus in its immediate vicinity along its way to the cliff it seems hell-bent on exploring.

Dean Barbour 
Manuel Antonio
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 13, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 71

Homicides make up a third of the holiday death toll
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Homicides continue to be the biggest cause of violent death over the Semana Santa holidays. The Cruz Roja listed 11 deaths due to firearms or knives since Saturday, April 4.

Water deaths were close behind with 10 fatalities reported, said Cruz Roja.

On a brighter note, the Cruz Roja said that its 470 employees and volunteers made 67 successful rescues, the majority, 37, at beaches.

The report covers Semana Santa until about noon Sunday. The holiday ended at midnight Sunday, and today is a regular work day for most Costa Ricans. Traffic was reported to be heavy but without major problems coming from holiday locations into the Central Valley.
In Bahía Ballena Thursday, the Cruz Roja said that four persons were carried away by the tide and that one person died there. Two persons were rescued and one person still is missing, the rescue service said.

Elsewhere the Cruz Roja said its personnel participated in six searches including one in the mountains of Pital de San Carlos where four persons were missing. They were found in good health about 6 a.m. Saturday, the Cruz Roja said.
But in San Miguel in Guanacaste at a place known as Playa Javilla a 14-year-old with the last name of Esquivel  vanished in the surf Thursday morning. He still is missing, the Cruz Roja said.

Usually traffic accidents are the major cause of deaths over holiday periods, but this year, the number is about five, perhaps due to heavy enforcement of the country's new harsh drunk driving law.

Judas saved and kid arrested
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad photo
Police saved these figures of Judas in Heredia and made the arrest above in Santa Ana
Police detain 140 during Judas Night excesses in valley
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Youngsters went wild Saturday night and early Sunday. Fires broke out in Santa Ana and several communities in Heredia. Police detained 140 persons.

Three Fuerza Pública officers and a member of the Policía Municipal de Santa Ana suffered injuries there. In Heredia four officers were hurt.

In San Rafael de Heredia in a location known as Getsemani, a mechanics shop burned to the ground, said police. In the Heredia community of Barva, the police station in the district of San Pedro came under attack from rock throwers, and windows and the metal portón suffered damages. Fuerza Pública officers said they grabbed six youths there.

The lawlessness was the annual Quema de Judas or "burning of Judas," which has increased in violence each year.

The principal goal is to burn a figure representing Judas, the apostle who identified Jesus Christ to the temple enforcers, according to the biblical story of His crucifixion. But the night also results in blazing blockades of local roads, attacks on local homes and stores and rock throwing at passing cars.
Heredia always has been a trouble spot, but this year, Santa Ana and the section of Lindora, Pozos and Piedades saw disturbances, according to Pablo Bertozzi, the regional Fuerza Pública director. Some 30 youths were detained in that area, he said. They were menacing homes, businesses and even a school, he added. Two fires broke out in vacant lots, one in Lindora and one in Chispa.

In all some 92 persons were detained in the Provincia de Heredia, according to Raúl Rivera of the Fuerza Pública there. Some 19 were caught in the section known as El Bajo Los Molinos. Youths burned tires, wood and plastic and even threw rocks at news vehicles, said police.

Police handled disturbances in Santa Bárbara as well where some violence took place at the municipal building. A steel curtain was pulled apart and a computer suffered damage, police said.

In Alajuela in Barrio Lourdes de San Rafael, a police car was showered with stones and significant damage resulted. One arrest was made.

Two other patrol cars suffered damage in San José de Santa Rita, police said.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 13, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 71

Mexcio's ambassador to U.S. seeks more cooperation
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico's ambassador to the United States says there must be extensive cooperation between the two countries to defeat drug cartels that have killed thousands of people in Mexico's northern border states. The ambassador spoke in Washington days before President Barack Obama heads to Mexico to meet with President Felipe Calderón.

The Mexican ambassador, Arturo Sarukhan, said his government is engaged in a fierce battle with drug traffickers that export illegal narcotics to the United States, but that Mexico cannot win the battle alone. "You need two to tango. And as Mexico seeks to shut down the flow of drugs coming into the United States from Mexico and South America, we need the support of the United States to shut down the flow of weapons and bulk cash," he said.

The Obama administration has boosted the number of federal agents and augmented other resources along the U.S. border with Mexico in response to the increasing violence by drug gangs. In addition, Obama has dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other top officials to Mexico to formulate a coordinated response to the trafficking threat. Obama has noted that the United States must reduce its appetite for illegal drugs.

Sarukhan praised the flurry of consultations between the two countries, as well as the boost in U.S. personnel along the border. He expressed reluctance to comment on American domestic affairs, but suggested that a renewal of the now-expired U.S. ban on assault weapons would be helpful in curbing the flow of high-powered armaments to Mexican drug cartels.

"We have seen a dramatic rise of assault weapons being seized in Mexico. There is a direct correlation between the
expiration of the assault weapons ban, and our seizures of assault weapons. We cannot determine how Congress and the administration will move on this. What we will say is this is one of the instruments — by reinstating the ban — that could have a profound impact on the number and caliber of weapons going down to Mexico," he said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has voiced support for reinstating the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, saying it would be beneficial to both the United States and Mexico.

Pro-gun sources question the idea that the drug cartels are arming themselves with black market U.S. guns. The gangs use fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers and other types of weaponry that are not easily purchased in the United States, these sources say. Estimates of what percentage of weapons go to the drug gangs from the U.S. range from 90 percent to 15 percent.

Asked about the safety of visitors to Mexico, Sarukhan said that, while the drug war has engulfed the country's northernmost states, the rest of Mexico is safe for visitors and tourists. He urged anyone traveling to the border cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez to be cautious.

Obama heads to Mexico City Thursday for an overnight stay before continuing to Trinidad and Tobago for the fifth Summit of the Americas. Combating border violence is expected to top discussions with Mexican President Calderón, along with trade and commercial issues and immigration concerns.

Mexicans comprise a large proportion of the more than 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States. During last year's presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged to pursue comprehensive U.S. immigration reform. He has not spoken in detail on the issue since taking office in January.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 13, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 71

A.M. Costa Rica

users guide

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

Old pages

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

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

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


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


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


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

Advertising information

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


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

Contacting us

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

Visiting us

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

Bolivia's Morales goes
on political hunger strike

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bolivian President Evo Morales has begun a hunger strike to demand that the nation's congress pass an electoral law ratifying a date for general elections in December.

The president was quoted Thursday as saying he was starting the strike "to defend the vote of the people."  He also accused members of the opposition-led Senate of trying to block the legislation.

The election bill has been held up by demands for an updated voter registry, arguments over whether Bolivians living outside the country should be able to vote, and a dispute over the number of seats in congress that should be assigned to native groups.

Bolivians recently approved a new constitution that allows Morales to seek a second, five-year term in December's elections and gives more power to the country's native majority.  Morales is Bolivia's first native president.  He was elected in 2005.

The new constitution also creates a new Congress and calls for limiting the land holdings of white and mixed-race farmers in gas-rich eastern provinces.

Fidel Castro calls Morales
to express his support

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he has phoned Bolivian President Evo Morales to express support for his hunger strike. In an article published on a Cuban state Web site, Castro said he called Morales Friday, after meeting in Cuba with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Castro said he relayed a message of solidarity on behalf of Chávez and himself, and expressed their confidence in the Bolivian president's victory.

President Morales began a hunger strike Thursday to pressure lawmakers to pass a controversial electoral law ratifying December 6th as the date for general elections.

Morales has said he will refuse to eat until the electoral measure passes Bolivia's opposition-led Senate. The Bolivian leader is a loyal follower of Castro, just like Venezuelan President Chavez.

In addition to Bolivia, Castro said he and Chávez discussed the Venezuelan leader's recent visits to China, Japan and Iran.

Chavez said he was visiting Cuba to prepare for an upcoming summit of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which will be held Thursday, one day before the Summit of the Americas begins in Trinidad and Tobago.

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 13, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 71

Latin American news digest
Dog adoptions scheduled
for Saturday at clinic

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Stop Animal Suffering Yes!, known as SASY, will hold a dog adoption day Saturday at the clinic of veterinarian Elsa Chang, 100 meters north and 50 meters east of the AM/PM in Guachipelin. 

The event is from 9:30 a.m to 3 p.m., and all dogs are vaccinated, dewormed and neutered, the group said.

Donations are accepted, the group added. SASY is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the eradication of animal abuse and suffering in Costa Rica, according to its Web site.

At a recent fundraiser, the organization raised $40,000 of which $35,000 is being used toward helping animals, according to the group's Web site.

Obama talks to Garcia
about financial crisis

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama called his Peruvian counterpart Friday to discuss a range of issues including the global financial crisis and an upcoming pan-American summit.

The White House said Obama called President Alan Garcia to discuss how to restore economic growth to the hemisphere and other shared goals.

Obama said he is looking forward to working with Perú toward a successful Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago this week. He also thanked Garcia for Peru's regional leadership in combating drug trafficking.

The 5th Summit of the Americas will be Obama's first opportunity since becoming president to address most members of the Organization of American States (OAS).

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