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Published Monday, April 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 75
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Discovery lends name to new eco-tourism project
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Discovery Communications Inc., owners of Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, has licensed its name to a major eco-tourism project in Guanacaste, according to a tweet Sunday night.

The media group produces such shows as “River Monsters,” “Pit Bulls and Parolees,” “Tanked,” “Treehouse Masters” and a series on yeti and other mysterious creatures.

The idea is that television viewers will be attracted to the new park because of the television shows. However, the project seems to have just licensed the name and will be otherwise independent.

Little information is available except for a Bloomberg news report. Because of the weekend, Discovery Communications Inc. has not confirmed the deal.

Periodically there are reports of a major recreational park development. At one time, there were persistent although improbable rumors that the Walt Disney Co. would locate a major recreational park in Quepos or Jacó.

Writer Garland M. Baker demolished that rumor in 2006 and pointed out that Costa Rica did not have the population or the tourism to support a major theme park. Disney does have a tourism booking service that features Costa Rica, however.

In 2013 the Disney rumor resurfaced, thanks to comments in a radio interview by the then-mayor of Liberia.

Guanacaste does have an African theme park, Africa Mia, which features endangered animals.

The purchase of rights to a name is an early step to a theme park project.

Initially the project developers will have to verify that they can use the name because the word Discovery is used by several local tourism and booking operations.

Guanacaste
                            map
Google/A.M. Costa Rica map
Park will allegedly go near Liberia airport.

A reader who is close to the project was enthusiastic Sunday night. He said that the project will change Costa Rica into a 12-month tourism destination. He estimated that the park would bring 600,000 new arrivals annually when in full operation and said that Discover Costa Rica will not just be at one site but include many countrywide.

The reader said that the central government is fully aware of the project and prevailed on the developers to delay an announcement until after Semana Santa. He said that the Luis Guillermo Solís administration plans a big splash with a major announcement Wednesday in the Teatro Nacional.

According to this reader, the developer is Sun Ranch Group, a Montana real estate and development firm that has an interest in 1,000 hectares, more than 2,400 acres, opposite the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia.

So far the only other confirmation of the project comes from a Bloomberg News story released Sunday night. The story was picked up by the Boston Globe. A.M Costa Rica does not subscribe to Bloomberg News, so it cannot republish the article. However, the author, Gerry Smith, issued a public tweet briefly outlining the project Sunday night.



Volcan Poas
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Carl Miller
This shot, taken by reader, shows Volcán Poás emitting a huge cloud of smoke Friday.
Not all quiet on the Poás front this past weekend
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national commission for emergencies urged everyone to remain calm this weekend and the future in spite of some rumblings from Volcán Poás over the past few days.

In a statement issued Saturday by the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias, this type of activity by an active volcano is normal. The area constituting the national park was restricted following its eruption Wednesday night that produced a flood of water and ash.

“Out of this area we have an effect of ash fall and some noticeable sulfur smells, which is a product of wind dispersion,” said Blas Sánchez, a geologist with the emergency commission.

The park remained closed over this weekend as a precautionary measure, according to administration officials for Parque Nacional Volcán Poás. The park released a statement Sunday that said that the closing would remain enforced until the situation changes for the safety and security of visitors.

This comes after a Sunday report from the Red Sismológico Nacional, that a major eruption from the volcano occurred around 1:55 p.m.

This followed two more outbursts again at 4:42 and 8:26 p.m., respectively.

The latest one spewed extremely hot rocks that could be seen from the surveillance camera at the volcano’s summit.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica said that Wednesday’s eruption happened between 6 and 7 p.m.

Guards in the Parque Nacional Volcán Poás reported seeing volcanic ash in the area around the visitor overlook, said the Observatorio.

The volcano has been producing a phreatic eruption this week, that is steam mixed with solid materials.

The Observatorio said that the water produced reached the Río Desagüe and caused it to run out of its banks. Some ash was reported outside the area of the volcano.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 75
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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

Tax Fraud Investigation or Prosecution:
  * Hiding income in secret, offshore accounts
  * Investing in or promoting bogus tax shelters
  * Failing to report or hiding income

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
USA phone: (702) 375-9471
CR phone: (506) 6042-7116

Associated with Carballo y Carballo, Abogados
in Costa Rica

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Phone:  2280-9692 / 2253-3705
Email: ajfernandez@racsa.co.cr
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Notary services and registrations. Collections and foreclosures. Real estate and litigation. Corporate Law. Immigration. Estate planning wills and testaments, probate.
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Real estate agents and services

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Dental Services
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 Accountants

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Letter from the editor (emeritus)

Dear A.M. Costa Rica readers:

Today I assume the position of editor emeritus. That basically means I can drop by the A.M. Costa Rica offices occasionally and get a free cup of coffee. And I can bore the hard working folks there with tales of journalistic triumphs past.

This is not exactly retirement, because I want to keep an eye on my family’s investment. But I am happy to report that the day-to-day oversight of the A.M. Costa Rica and its associated newspaper titles will be done by Gabriela Vega Barrantes, the general manager. Ms. Vega joined the company as an advertising
Conor Golden
Conor Golden
 sales representative and has assumed greater and greater responsibilities since.
                                                                                           
The news operation is now in the hands of Conor Golden, who survived a rigorous trial period since November.  He is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and is fluent in Spanish. He is ably assisted by Rommel Téllez, a Costa Rican reporter with long experience.

A.M. Costa Rica will be 16 years old Aug. 15. It has been my privilege to work on behalf of expats here and others with recreational and commercial interests in
Costa Rica for that time.  It has been my hope and the hope of my wife, Sharon, that we provide original news reporting of major market quality. In other words, we do not steal stuff and we verify.

The impact of the news and advertising directed to the expat market has unified to some extent the foreigners here. Some have made vast sums of money based on A.M. Costa Rica advertising. Others have managed to avoid those many pitfalls that living here creates.

Through the years, staffers have tried to prevent scammers from using the newspaper as an advertising vehicle.

Throughout these nearly 16 years editors and reporters have tried to fight for equal treatment for expats and help those who are victims of the pitfalls. Many of the latter efforts never see publication. Through aggressive reporting A.M. Costa Rica takes credit for saving an innocent Canadian man, Roger Crouse, in Playas del Coco from over-eager prosecutors who sought to convict him of murder. That was in 2002, and there have been hundreds of  large and small cases of assistance since. Most recently, staffers were able to track down the missing Costa Rican father of a U.S. woman. The man returned to Costa Rica and died several years ago without the U.S. family receiving any notification.

Perhaps the longest-running news story was that of Luis Enrique Villalobos, the operator of a high-interest money scheme based at Mall San Pedro. This newspaper estimated that Villalobos had nearly $1 billion of creditor money on his books when he shut down his operation in late 2002 and vanished. He still is missing, although his brother, Oswaldo, did some time. The curious thing is that some victims still expect him to return and pay them off.

A.M. Costa Rica reporters and editors got death threats and plenty of nasty letters because they did not glorify Villalobos as an honest businessman victimized by a greedy government. The newspaper still gets emails asking about Villalobos.

His betrayal heavily damaged the expat community.

Life seems to repeat itself because there appears to be financial operations in the market now that are offering unusually high interest rates just the way Villalobos did. Would-be borrowers are urged to confirm that those to whom they loan money are registered with the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras or similar government regulators.

The newspaper and its staffers only faced one criminal court action for slander. A businessman sought by investigators here left for Panamá and then filed a defamation claim long-distance via a power of attorney claiming that a raid by the Judicial Investigating Organization never took place. He wanted a court to force the newspaper to remove the story from its data base because it was affecting his new business in Panamá. The newspaper's corporation fought the case, and the claim died when the man’s lawyer failed to show up at a trial.

The newspaper continues to get and reject occasional requests to alter history and remove embarrassing articles.

The future remains bright for A.M. Costa Rica and A.M. Newspapers because Costa Rica still is a top choice for vacation and retirement. And our readership remains solid. Readers recognize that our staffers actually are in contact with officials and other newsmakers instead of just copying stories of questionable validity from the Spanish-language press.

The new administration is expected to continue the policy that brought dozens of young First-World newspeople to work for months and even a year or more to learn about a different culture and Costa Rica specifically. For many, the time here changed their lives. They are now major market news staffers, lawyers, foreign correspondents in some of the world’s trouble spots and in many other positions where their Latin American knowledge can enlarge their world view.

Particularly happy with my change in status is my wife, Sharon, who would like to spend some time with grandchildren in the United States. She managed to achieve the title long-suffering wife, bestowed upon her by our business partner, Saray Ramírez Vindas, who is now happily married and in Switzerland. The three of us continue to be owners of the newspaper corporation.

Golden, who becomes news editor, is a native of Columbus, Ohio, and graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism and political science by Ohio Wesleyan University as a member of the class of 2016. He has had eight years of formal education in the Spanish language. Currently living in San José, he said his hopes for the future would include maintaining the standards of journalistic integrity as much as independence that, he believes, A.M. Costa Rica prides itself upon in its reputation and actions.

Personally, some of his goals would be to continue in honing skills both as a writer and a forever-curious-but-always-suspicious journalist, he said.

Ms. Vega joined A.M. Costa Rica in 2010 after an international career in financial management and investments. She quickly applied her administrative and creative skills to benefit hundreds of advertisers and eventually was named advertising director, heading a staff of four.

She has been tenacious in getting the best possible deal for her advertising customers within the bounds of company policy. As general manager, she assumes full control of the newspaper's administration and said she is planning beneficial changes in the future.

"A.M. Costa Rica has always defended the truth, has been an independent media without any economic interest behind the news, has never received any donations from any of the political parties and has never been manipulated by corruption," she said. "The newspaper has always had total respect for the dignity of the readers and the people who are part of the news."
Jay Brodell
editor emeritus
A.M. Newspapers

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English















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A.M.
Costa Rica

Third News Page
U.S. Tax
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 75
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Anti-zoo activists plan to join global protests beginning April 30
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Anti-zoo activists here plan a protest April 30 against the Simón Bolívar zoo in north San José. The 10 a.m. protest in Parque Central will be one of a number of similar events around Latin America and in Spain.

The Simon Bolivar Parque Zoologico y Jardin Botanico Nacional is operated on contract by the Fundación Pro Zoological. The organization has been the target of protests since 2013 by those who want the zoo closed because they do not like the idea of animals living in cages.

A recent victory for the protesters was the relocation of the African lion Kivú to a more spacious compound in Santa Ana. However, the lion went downhill and died shortly after the relocation from the Barrio Amón site.

Protests also are planned for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Spain, México and Perú on that weekend.

Zoo
                    protest
Photo via YouTube
Protesters call the Simón Bolívar zoo a 99-year-old prison during a recent protest.

Some of the protesters espouse an anti-capitalistic point of view, saying they oppose the domestication and merchandising of the animals.



Prison police union calls government to live up to salary increases
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The labor union representing the prison police is calling upon the government to uphold its promises regarding an expected salary increase or face the threat of mass demonstrations.

The Unión Nacional Trabajadoras y Trabajadores said that today at 10 a.m., the first group of the Policías Penitenciarios, mostly from the nearby prisons at San Sebastián and Vilma Curling, are going to demonstrate at the headquarters of the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz.

The protest stems from a measure approved last December by the budgetary authority that increased the salaries of the prison guards.

The new salary, according to the union, would represent an increase by about 7.6 percent.

The union claims that the administration has been making the payment under the consideration that each individual worker has only produced a single year of income rather than the base salary defined by law. Essentially, that means the payment has been made irregularly, union officials said.

This corresponds with a graver concern for some officers of the prison police: salary cuts that occurred during the first half of April, the union said. The reduction is said to be up to about 100,000 colons.

Trabajadores also mentioned that, when the first payment of the new salary was assessed, there were 56 workers who slipped through the system’s accounts and did not receive any pay at all back in December.

“It is worth saying that the administration, through the human resources director of the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz Geovanni Morales Sánchez, as always, does not give the face and much less explanations of what happened,” said a union statement.

The protest is calling for Morales to return to the officers in question the balance of the salary reduced on April 1. The next demand is for the ministry to adjust the base salary corresponding with the new standard promised by the government.

“Otherwise, in the coming weeks, we will call for a generalized demonstration of police throughout the Sistema Penitenciario,” the union’s statement concludes.


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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

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Humpback whales tracked to see breeding habits in tropical waters
By the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
press staff


Whales from both poles migrate long distances to breed in tropical waters. Smithsonian scientist Hector Guzman and Fernando Félix at the Salinas Whale Museum in Ecuador, tagged 47 humpbacks with satellite transmitters to understand how the humpbacks Southeastern Pacific population moves within breeding areas.

“Our work fills an informational void: we’ve known these whales move between feeding areas and breeding areas, but we hadn’t characterized their movements, and we couldn’t exactly pinpoint the range of the breeding area,” said Guzman, marine ecologist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panamá.

“Now we know that individuals move between countries within the breeding season and that their entire breeding area extends approximately 2,600 kilometers of non-straight coastline from Costa Rica to Peru.”

For years, scientists have identified individual humpback whales, or Megaptera novaeangliae, based on their unique fluke and dorsal fin patterns.

In this study funded by the institute, Panamá’s national office of science and technology, the Candeo Fund at the International Community Foundation and the Whale Museum, 25 whales were satellite tagged in Panamá and 22 in Ecuador between 2009 and 2015 according to methods approved by the Smithsonian’s Animal Care and Use Committee.

On average, tags transmitted for about two weeks, although one tag lasted for 69 days during which a mother whale swam nearly 6,000 kilometers.

Information from the 37 tags that transmitted for at least 1 day revealed the movements of 23 mothers accompanied by newborn calves and 14 unsexed animals.

“Thanks to new spatial models that were used to evaluate the movement of the whales, we could differentiate behaviors and gauge the speed of the whales during their reproductive and migratory periods,” Félix said.

Part of the Southeast Pacific humpback whale population breeds in Panamá’s Las Perlas Archipelago and in the Gulf of Guayaquil in Ecuador.

The roughly 60,000 square kilometers of home range of the group in Panama was about twice the size of the home range of the group breeding in Ecuador, about 26,000 square kilometers, which means whales are not randomly distributed but show site fidelity.

Whales tended to spend time in short-range movement, alternating with long-range, faster, directed movement.

Mothers spent more time closer to shore than other tagged, unsexed individuals. Both types of whales swam into deeper waters mainly during migration. Mothers in Panamanian waters spent much more time in long-range movements than did mothers in Ecuadorian waters, perhaps because they were shifting from a nursing phase to a migratory phase.

Guzman and Félix suggest that the overlap between breeding individuals exhibiting short- range movements and non-breeding individuals exhibiting long-range movements at the same sites creates confusion about how many animals are breeding at a given time.

Humpback whale
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute photo
Some humpback whales got tagged to observe movements.

This is especially true in Ecuador because individuals breeding in Colombia, Panamá and Costa Rica pass through on North- South migrations. Humpback whales were once hunted nearly to extinction. Since the 1966 hunting moratorium, populations rebounded to more than 80,000 humpback whales in the world.

But as human populations grow, the number of oil and gas terminals, offshore platforms, new ports and marinas is on the rise and coastal pollution, and traditional activities such as fishing and maritime traffic are intensifying.

“Our breeding range analyses provided the first-ever insight at such a fine scale on the distribution of humpbacks and the coastal space they use for breeding and migration, particularly for mother/calf pairs,” Felix said.

“We hope our density-distribution maps are carefully considered by the oil industry and governments planning seismic exploration in coastal areas along the North-South breeding axis of this species from Costa Rica to Peru,” said Guzman. “Strong scientific evidence suggests that cetaceans behavior can be affected by this activity several kilometers from the exploration area.”

“By satellite tagging these animals we can better predict the impact of human activities on populations that are recovering by about 6 to 10 percent each year,” Guzman said. “There are more whales to take care of now, and there’s still a striking absence of policy governing the location of human activities, especially with increasing coastal maritime traffic overlapping migratory routes and oil exploration.”

In a second study off the coast of Chile, Guzman and Juan Capella from Whalesound followed a group of seven out of 25 whales tagged in the Magellan Strait to see if tagging affected their behavior or health during a period of several years. Tagging did not seem to affect whale behavior or their health or reproduction.

Indeed, a female returned to the feeding area twice with new calves three and six years after tagging. Several individuals had small scars or lumps near the tag site, but they completely healed within two years. This study provides evidence to assist decisions by taking animal welfare into consideration.

Semana Santa finds rescues, arrests and effigies burned over holiday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The statistics are in for this year’s Semana Santa from the Cruz Roja and Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.

The Cruz Roja helped over 379 people during this past week. With a total of 1,400 workers, the Cruz Roja doubled the number of first responders on duty from Holy Thursday to this past Sunday, the organization said. Of those 379 persons helped by the group, around 28 of them were foreigners.

Some of the types of incidents that required assistance from Cruz Roja were: water accidents, traffic accidents, poisonings, falls, assaults and other medical cases.

The rumblings this past week from the Poás volcano have also caused an influx of preventive measures by the organization.

"The auxiliary commission was reinforced in Poás, and other commissions such as Alajuela, Naranjo, Sarchí, Turrúcares, La Guácima and Santa Ana remain on alert,” said Edgardo Acosta, the national director for risk management and emergency care for Cruz Roja. “These are commissions that will be vigilant and monitor the situation with the volcano, but even more important, they carry out prevention work with the population.”

Meanwhile, the police seized a plethora of weapons and drugs for this year’s Semana Santa. According to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, police confiscated some 24 knives and 23 firearms as well as 2,719 doses of crack and 15,028 grams of marijuana, among other drugs.

The Fuerza Pública also reported around 1,330 arrests were made as of this past Saturday. The police also needed to break up a few Quemas de Judas sessions in various areas. Judas Iscariot is the apostle who sold out Jesus Christ to the tribunal that led to the crucifixion.

He has been reviled ever since as one of the worst of traitors and now sometimes comes in the garb of the Devil in various burning ceremonies all over Latin America.

The Costa Rica observance is basically just rowdy young men who burn trash. Some do take the time to do what is done in other countries, which is to create a figure of Judas for burning.

Burning Judas effigy
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Even the kids are getting in on the Quemas de Judas.

In some other countries this is a tourism attraction with various elaborate effigies hung and then burned. Here the practice is more of an annoyance for the local police and sometimes motorists. The evening burnings can get out of hand.

Police often try to confiscate the Judas dummy before they are ignited. In some areas, police stage the ceremony to keep the event secure.

Apparently the controversial tradition caused another round this year of blocking streets, burning tires and other materials as well as throwing stones at both people and cars passing through. Some of those vehicles included police cars and motorcycles, the ministry said. A total of 21 people were apprehended by police in relation to these activities, while 120 were equally investigated within the provinces of San José, Heredia and Alajuela. 

The Guardacostas said it had seven different rescue incidences with three of them being at Playa Flamingo. The Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea said it also made four search and rescue flights with all happening near the north and central Pacific coasts.


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9140-5/1/17

George Lundquist header

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
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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.

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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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Real estate rentals (paid category)


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9049-7/31/17





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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 75
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Human rights group accuses
Cuba of human trafficking


By the Human Rights Foundation press staff

The Human Rights Foundation and Cuba Archive have submitted an urgent report on the immense scale of human trafficking in Cuba to Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, the U.N. special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

The report was sent earlier today to coincide with Ms. Giammarinaro’s scheduled meeting with Cuban authorities to determine the progress made and the challenges Cuba faces in addressing trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation.

The report, authored by Cuba Archive Executive Director Maria Werlau and former U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for Combating Trafficking in Persons Mark Lagon, documents several human trafficking schemes conducted by the government of Cuba and states: “Cuba’s human trafficking business has been growing exponentially in the last decade and includes export services of temporary workers, forced migration, forced labor and sex trafficking, and export sales of human blood and body parts. Cuba as a country, in fact, derives its main source of revenues from the first two.”

Ms. Giammarinaro’s visit to Cuba, which is the first by an independent expert of the U.N. Human Rights Council in ten years, has been trumpeted by the Castro government. According to the Cuban Foreign Ministry, the U.N. representative will carry out activities that will allow her to confirm the commitment of the Caribbean island to the fulfillment of its international obligations towards this global problem. The foundation submitted the report to ensure that the special rapporteur obtains an accurate picture of the scale and gravity of human trafficking in Cuba.

“Contrary to fighting human trafficking, the Cuban government is likely one of the largest and most profitable traffickers in the world,” the report states. “What makes the Cuban case unique — and astounding — is that human trafficking is an operation run by the government through numerous state enterprises and often with accomplices, participants, sponsors, and promoters all over the world.”


Employers want to fill jobs,
and advocates seek justice


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

You may have noticed: Much of the recent anti-immigration rhetoric in Washington most loudly comes from factions on the political right: H1B, H2B, it’s all about protecting American jobs.

But every step of the way, progressive groups, while pro-immigrant, are just as critical of foreign worker visas. Federal regulations on the books, they argue, are inherently insufficient to protect visa holders from abuse, whether through unwarranted recruitment fees, misrepresentation of job requirements, fraud or intimidation.

The issue plagues potential recruits, but also well-meaning businesses that can’t find enough Americans willing to take seasonal jobs. In Cape Cod, Massachusetts and other areas of the country whose economic models are centered on five-to-six-month tourist seasons, the work of H2B visa-holders becomes essential to business owners.

Tyler Hayes, vice president of Cape Cod Restaurants, says he is fortunate that his seasonal foreign workforce, mainly from Jamaica, has created a family atmosphere during his 20-year tenure with the company.

But while Hayes can only point to the well-being of his own workforce, he acknowledges that at least in recent years, abuse of workers has not been inconceivable.

In response, the U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security cracked down on abuse within the H2B system in 2015, both in order to prevent the exploitation of workers and to ensure U.S. workers’ awareness of available jobs.

Elizabeth Mauldin, policy director at Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., calls those protections basic, including the right to receive a contract before entering the U.S. and protection from being charged a recruitment fee.

But many aspects of those existing regulations, she argues, are difficult to ensure, absent greater transparency in the recruitment process.

“It’s impossible to enforce a ban on charging workers fees,” said Ms. Mauldin. “When workers are charged fees upfront, they are vulnerable to the same type of economic coercion across the board.” As a result, she notes, foreign workers become susceptible to wage theft and other abuses, regardless of their visa category.

A 2013 report issued by the center, whose findings were based on a survey and in-depth interviews with hundreds of H2B workers, found that 58 percent of respondents reported paying illegal recruitment fees, while 10 percent reported recruitment fraud having paid a fee for a nonexistent job.

While there are mechanisms in place for foreign workers to report abuse, Ms. Mauldin argues that the disincentives are often too great.

Jane Nichols Bishop, founder and president of Peak Season Workforce, a family-run company that helps Cape Cod-area businesses secure H2B visas, says the mechanisms in place to prevent exploitation, including audits by the Department of Labor, have largely worked. But in cases where they do not, she says it’s in everyone’s interest that the infractions are reported.

“If there are abuses, we would like to see them caught,” Ms. Nichols said. “They give everyone who does this and who works at this very successfully a very bad name.”

Despite ongoing reports of abuse nationwide, there is some hope for affected foreigners outside of federal regulations, thanks to the internet. A bilingual workers’ rights initiative, which Ms. Mauldin calls the Yelp for migrant workers, allows workers to review recruiters and share their experiences, and create a self-empowering community in the process.


Federal judge orders halt
to executions in Arkansas


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A federal judge Saturday blocked Arkansas' plan to execute six inmates over the course of ten days.

The State had initially planned to execute eight inmates over eleven days just two weeks before its supply of midazolam, a lethal injection drug, is set to expire. But another judge granted stays to two of the inmates.

Nine death row prisoners brought the case to the state, arguing that midazolam could expose them to severe pain.

Federal District Judge Kristine Baker in Little Rock also stated in her ruling that the execution team did not have antidotes on hand in case something went wrong with the executions, which is a possibility, she noted, which has already happened in cases in Alabama, Arizona, Ohio, and Oklahoma when using the same drug.

The Arkansas attorney general's office said the decision strayed from previous rulings by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It is unfortunate that a U.S. district judge has chosen to side with the convicted prisoners in one of their many last-minute attempts to delay justice," Jude Deere, an office spokesman, said.

The state of Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005 due to drug shortages and legal challenges.


North Korea defies warnings
with failed missile launch


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

North Korea conducted a failed missile test Sunday in defiance of increased U.S. warnings that there would be serious consequences for such provocative actions, including a possible military response.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on the failed launch and had been in touch with President Donald Trump, White House aides said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis released a statement following the missile test saying, “The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch. The president has no further comment.”

Sunday’s attempted missile launch was reportedly not an intercontinental ballistic missile that Trump warned would not be allowed to happen, because it would move North Korea closer to acquiring a long-range nuclear ballistic missile capability that could directly threaten U.S. national security.

The failed test occurred as a U.S. naval strike force moves into the region in a show of force, and amid increasingly tough warnings from the Trump administration that the U.S. is prepared to take increased measures against North Korea that include possible military action.

On Saturday North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over a massive military parade that prominently displayed what appeared to be new long-range and submarine-based missiles. The parade was part of a celebration of the April 15 birthday of its founding leader, the late Kim Il Sung, the country’s most important holiday known as the Day of the Sun.

North Korea, however, did not go through with a nuclear test Saturday that many expected, based on reports of recent activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site indicating a test was imminent.

Vice President Pence and his wife Karen arrived in Seoul Sunday to begin a 10-day trip to Asia. After placing a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery, he joined U.S. and South Korean troops for Easter Sunday church services and a dinner.

At the fellowship dinner, Pence said North Korea's provocation is a reminder of the risks U.S. and South Korean service members face every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world.

On Monday Pence will meet with acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn to reinforce the U.S. commitment to its ally in the face of rising tensions over the North’s weapons programs, according to his aides.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Sunday saying, “North Korea showing a variety of offensive missiles at yesterday’s military parade and daring to fire a ballistic missile today is a show of force that threatens the whole world.”

The leaders Pence is to meet with in Seoul, however, will soon be out of office; South Korea is in the middle of a presidential campaign because of the recent impeachment of conservative President Park Geun-hye. Ms. Park was forced from office for her alleged involvement in a multimillion dollar corruption and bribery scandal. She currently sits in prison as prosecutors pursue a possible criminal indictment. The presidential election is scheduled for May 9.

In a recent presidential debate, all the top party candidates, representing both liberal and conservative views, spoke out against the U.S. taking unilateral military action against North Korea. And the two leading candidates, Moon Jae-in with the Democratic Party and Ahn Cheol-soo with the People’s Party, both support direct dialogue with North Korea to reduce tensions, positions that may put them in opposition to U.S. policy.

Sunday’s failed missile test occurred near the naval base in Sinpo where North Korea is reportedly developing a sea-based nuclear deterrent.

Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile from the same region earlier this month ahead of a summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where they discussed the North Korean nuclear threat.

U.S. officials said that missile appeared to be a liquid-fueled, extended-range Scud missile that flew about 60 km, only a fraction of its range, before spinning out of control.


Turks approve referendum
on executive power increase


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Turkey's ruling party has claimed victory in a referendum granting broad new powers to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, authorities announced late Sunday.

With 99 percent of the ballots counted, official Turkish media placed the yes vote at more than 51 percent, and the no vote at just under 49 percent. The head of Turkey's electoral board later confirmed those results and said official tallies would be released within the next 12 days.

Erdogan told cheering supporters outside his official residence in Istanbul that the yes camp had secured 25 million votes, 1.3 million more than those cast by opponents of the sweeping changes. He also said the referendum had ended Turkey's decades-long history of military intervention in government.

"For the first time in the history of the republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics," he said in a brief address.

The yes vote means the Turkish parliament will be largely sidelined. The prime minister and Cabinet will be abolished, and ministers will be directly appointed by the president and accountable to him. The president also will set the budget.

The constitutional amendments also end the official neutrality of the president, allowing him to lead a political party. The president will have the power to dissolve parliament and declare a state of emergency, while enjoying enhanced powers to appoint judges to the high court and constitutional court.

The referendum has divided the nation, with both supporters and opponents arguing that the future of the country is at stake.“I voted no,” said one man in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul, where voting was brisk earlier Sunday. “There is no such constitution in the world like the one they present to us. It is not republic, it is not democracy, it is nothing. All the power is united in one person. Let's assume this president is a good person, but what about the next one? Anyone can use this power in a very bad way.”

The Istanbul Kadikoy district is a traditional stronghold of opponents of Erdogan, who has been in the forefront of campaigning for the change. “I voted for our future. I don't want a one-man regime,” another woman said. “Whether it is functioning well or not, we at least have a separate legislative, judiciary and executive powers. I want this system to continue.

Erdogan insists the reforms will create a fast and efficient system of governance that will allow Turkey to face the challenges of fighting terror and the slowing economy.

Erdogan cast his vote late in the morning amid heavy security, including police snipers on surrounding buildings in Istanbul’s Uskudar district. Speaking to reporters, he said he expected a high turnout in support of the referendum. "I believe that our people will decide for a faster development and even a leap forward. I believe that my people will walk toward the future by making their decision,” he said.

Kemal
Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party and leader of the No campaign, stressed the importance of the vote in remarks to supporters and TV cameramen. “We are voting for Turkey’s destiny,” he declared.

Critics argue the constitutional reforms would usher in an elected dictatorship.

“A one-man regime,” is how Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, described the proposed changes at a rally Saturday in the capital, Ankara, saying the country was in danger. “We are putting 80 million on a bus with no brakes," he added.

The referendum campaign has added to the deep polarization already plaguing Turkey. Concerns have been expressed that division could spill over into violence after the result. Ahead of the vote, both Erdogan and Kılıçdaroğlu called on their supporters to respect the result and their opponents.

More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

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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
Related

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.
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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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, April 17, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 75
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Try not to sneak up on your snakes

When I was a kid, I learned to Indian walk, putting the balls of my feet and my toes down first instead of doing the usual walking heel first. You were less likely to snap a twig or bump into a rock. Indian walking, I was told, was quieter and let you get closer to wildlife. Well, it seemed to work, and
Victoria
                                  Torley
I would often sneak up on rabbits and deer especially if I was walking very slowly.

So, here’s the problem: Indian walking will also cause less vibration in the ground, and, when I am in the garden or the woods, I want to make a lot of vibration. Why? Because snakes have no

x

ears, that’s why. Snakes know you are coming by feeling the vibrations in the ground. The more the vibration, the bigger the snake thinks you are and the more likely he is to yield his ground and get out of your way. Make a vibration like a herd of cattle, and most snakes will vacate the area.

I don’t know about you, but I want snakes to get out of the way. Take this morning when I was out in the shade garden. I was using my walking stick so there was really vibration from three legs not two, and a small snake got out of the way, slithering quickly across my path and into the brush. It got out of my way so quickly that I’m not sure what it was, but from the coloring on its back, I don’t think it was one of the poisonous varieties that inhabit the property. In fact, it could have been one of the snake-eating-snakes, and I want those to stay around.  There are a number of snake-eating-snakes in Costa Rica, so you really should know what they look like and leave them alone because they will even eat terciopelos (the Bothrops asper), one of our most dangerous snakes also known as the fer-de-lance.

There are other reasons to leave snakes in the garden alone, of course, especially if you don’t know your terciopelo from your racer, because even a bite from a non-poisonous snake hurts and can become infected. 

All that being said, do I stay away from snakes in the garden? No I do not. Take this snake this morning. If I hadn’t been encumbered with gardening tools, I would have probably made a grab for it. I caught a lovely salmon-bellied racer that way during the rainy season. I am not quite as brave as my gardener, who has brought us several hog-nosed pit vipers and a couple of baby terciopelos. Since we lack accommodations for poisonous snakes, we call our friend Ray, a herpetologist, who takes them home, takes pictures, and releases them far away from us.

When it comes to poisonous snakes, we are very glad for a friend like Ray.

Easter
                            lily
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

Plant for the Week

There are a number of plants associated with the season of Lent and Easter usually because the flower emerges and blooms before the leaves present themselves. One is resurrection turmeric, which has a lovely inflorescence 8-10 days before leaves appear. Once the annual cycle is over, the entire plant disappears, so don’t forget where you planted the original. This one popped up quite unexpectedly.

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:

U.S. retail sales hit worst two-month stretch

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services


Retail sales had their worst two-month stretch in more than two years in February and March, according to U.S. government data released Friday.

The U.S. Census Bureau said overall retail sales declined two-tenths of a percent in March, driven by lower fuel prices and lower auto profits. The National Retail Federation said the delayed issuance of government tax refunds also contributed to weaker spending.

Weaker than expected sales receipts in March and February may also reflect changes taking place in the retail landscape. Business Insider called the changes a retail apocalypse that has led to a wave of bankruptcies and store closures. About 3,500 stores across the United States are expected to close in coming months, including some from major chains Macy's, Sears and Kmart.

But instead of a retail apocalypse, the federation’s chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says it's part of the natural evolution of the retail industry.

"Other industries have gone through transformations," he said. "Look at the banking industry. We had twice as many banks 10 to 15 years ago as we do today. There are consolidations that go on. It's a natural phenomenon in a market economy."

The phenomenon is driven by new technology and demographic shifts that have changed the way people shop. Kleinhenz said millennials, those who reached adulthood at the turn of the century, are a good example of how buying habits have changed.

Others describe the changes as a perfect storm that has upended the retail landscape. Murali Gokki, managing director of the retail division of business consulting firm AlixPartners, said one of the bigger changes in the last decade has been the rise of e-commerce, and the even more rapid ascent of m-commerce, or the ability to buy almost anything from mobile devices such as smartphones.

"Mobile commerce was marginal back in 2012. Now it accounts for almost 20 percent or more of online purchases," Gokki said.

But while online retail companies like Amazon have been among the big beneficiaries, Sarah Spagnolo at FourSquare, a mobile analytics and social networking company, said e-commerce represents a small slice of the retail pie.

"That's a topic that gets lost in the conversation around the growth of e-commerce. Ninety percent of foot traffic happens in the real world [of brick-and-mortar stores], and that should be an area that people pay a lot of attention to."

Retail experts predict more brick-and-mortar stores will close in the United States in coming years, partly because of the overabundance of retail space. The U.S. has the world's largest ratio of retail space per capita with 23.5 square feet of shopping space per person. Compare that with second-place Canada with 16.4 square feet per person and third-place Australia with 11.1 square feet per person.

The federation’s outlook for 2017 calls for retail sales to increase by 3.7 percent to 4.2 percent.

"Consumers are actually having one of the best times, in terms of access and buying power," AlixPartner's Gokki said. "It's the retailers that are hurting right now."