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(506) 2223-1327                     Published Wednesday, April 24, 2013, in Vol. 13, No. 80               Email us
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What do expats want? Well, here are suggestions
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

With just a year left in office for President Laura Chinchilla, expat business people are searching for someone, anyone, who can stimulate the economy and start using a little promotion to market the country to the world.

With hundreds of thousands of U.S. expats looking for a retirement home, Costa Rican officials have done exactly the opposite than what is needed to attract them here. That assess taxes and more taxes without regard for the result. And they frequently change the rules.

Consequently, there is a glut of apartments, condos and houses. The real estate market is slow. The rental market is slow. The prospects are uncertain.

Some expats look to San José Mayor Johnny Araya to bring business awareness to Casa Presidencial. Others say he is a man who bends the rules and that he is more interested in ensuring his own future.

Regardless of what happens in next February's elections, a few expat business leaders want to make a statement for change and improvement of the condition of their fellow foreign residents. Here are some ideas:


The Caja

In order to maintain residency, expats have to affiliate with the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. They must pay a monthly fee regardless of any other types of medical insurance they now hold. Some expats can meet this requirement with $30 or $50 a month, but financially sound expats, the kind of new residents that will help the economy, are tagged for hundreds of dollars. The amount is based on monthly income. A rentista has to show at least $2,500 a month in income.

The hope is that the rules will be changed so that expats have a choice between a policy provided by the Instituto Nacional de Seguros, the Caja or perhaps one of the new private insurers. And maybe if the United States extends Medicare benefits overseas, that will be counted. too.

At the very least, Caja payments should be levied only when an expat is actually in the country.


The driver's license

For unexplained reasons, the traffic agency ruled that a national driving license could only be given to foreigners holding official residency. Since it might take two years for a residency application to be processed, expats who follow the law are in limbo. Meanwhile, in the United States, local governments are changing the rules so illegal immigrants, including some Costa Ricans, can obtain a driver's license.  Certainly the Consejo de Seguro Vial should accept a statement of intent or a paper that says residency has been sought as a requirement for a local license.


The car

Of course a driver's license is useless without a vehicle. As the Association of Residents of Costa Rica has reported, the county eliminated its special vehicle exoneration for pensionados in 1992. This was the program that allowed a foreign resident to bring in a vehicle once every five years without paying the confiscatory taxes that are levied on cars.

There still are a few of those PEN plates circulating in the Central Valley. Costa Rica was in the business of attracting foreign residents then.

Panamá, now being touted as a great place for foreign retirees, has such a program and even mandates retail sales discounts for foreign residents.


The household goods

Another surprise for foreigners moving here is that
the government slaps duty on household goods that a potential expat might be bringing from a former home. Many do not realize this until their shipping container hits Costa Rica, although reputable shippers alert their customers.

Foreigners should be able to duck customs duty on personal items that are not being brought here for sale.


Financial security

One expat in business here points out that foreign residents should have some financial security. He suggests a rule that protects bank accounts from attachment or confiscation and a homestead exemption that does the same for a home. He notes that some accounts in Banco Popular already have this protection. Foreigners are particularly vulnerable because many bring large amounts of money here to comply with residency requirements.


The luxury home tax

Costa Rica's special tax on properties valued at more than 106 million colons is unfair. Although this is not directed at expats, many Costa Ricans just do not pay their fair share. And it is challenging to comply with the rules.


The special corporate tax

A 2-year-old annual tax on corporations has hit expats hard because many keep their car and home in corporations to protect their assets. Certainly there should be some cut off so that inactive corporations at least used for this purpose are not subject to the tax.


The legal system

President Chinchilla showed Monday that contracts are just pieces of paper when she cancelled the San Ramón highway concession. Expats face this problem to a lesser extent when they become involved in home purchases and other routine business situations. Costa Ricans, too, would benefit from a more efficient legal system that can act to help victims of financial crimes.

That brings up the case of crooked lawyers, and there are many. The Colegio de Abogados seems to only take action when a lawyer does not  pay his or her dues. This legally constituted oversight organization should give special consideration to foreigners, including those who do not speak Spanish. And the organization should expel the crooks.


Firearms

Weapons are not for everyone, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that having a weapon for self defense is a natural right. Wrong headed thinking in the Chinchilla administration claims that the fewer the guns the fewer the crimes. That leaves expats at the mercy of crooks. Now only those with permanent residency can even apply for a firearms permit. That right should again be extended to pensionados and rentistas.


Who should take action?

Organizations like the Association of Residents go a long way in helping new arrivals learn and understand the culture. A.M. Costa Rica does also. Ultimately, the action has to come from the expats already here and those who may come.

So the opportunity is here for anyone to make suggestions to improve the plight of foreign residents here. Send your ideas to editor@amcostarica.com. We will consolidate them and print the responses. And then we will bring them to the attention of political candidates.

And then maybe some in Costa Rican officialdom will wake up and realize that the country is missing out on the financial and cultural benefits of an entire generation of well-heeled retirees.

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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission.
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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 24, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 80
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Black Stallon

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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.


Dentistry

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Residency experts

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Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore —

we know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
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Insurance

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Project completion specialists

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A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

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Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
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Legal services

FULLY BILINGUAL ATTORNEY
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With over a decade of experience in the fields of:
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KEARNEY-LAWSON & Asoc.
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Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
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RE&B Attorneys S.A
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ONE STOP LAW OFFICES OF
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Translations and legal services

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Accountants

U.S. Tax International

Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
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7410-4/1/13


confiscated
                                                          wood
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía 
y Seguridad Pública photo 
Logs were ready for the sawmill

Police intercept truck
despite drivers efforts

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A truck full of logs is pretty hard to slip by the police, so a driver pulled his vehicle into a sawmill instead of passing through a police control point, said the Fuerza Pública.

The events took place in Upala where the Policía de Fronteras were conducting a check on vehicles.

Although the driver produced papers showing the wood came from a plantation, police doubted this and called in prosecutors who confiscated the truck and logs.

Moving logs is heavily controlled in Costa Rica. Each log is supposed to have a tag, and the driver needs to have paperwork.


January start is predicted
for Heredia convention center


By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The tourism institute is finishing the groundwork for Costa Rica's next big project, the national convention center, and construction is scheduled to begin in January.  The goal is that with this building the nation will be able to host congresses, conventions and world trade fairs, said spokespersons.

The Centro Nacional de Congresos y Convenciones de Costa Rica is a $64 million project that will sit on 10 hectares (about 27 acres) of land in Barreal de Heredia, just off the General Cañas highway.  It's location is eight kilometers from Juan Santamaria airport.   

Designs for the center began last November after the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo signed a contract with the Consorcio Grupo de Diseño Internacional.

According to the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, the design will be as follows:

The interior plan is to have an area for exhibitions, conference rooms, VIP meeting rooms, a press office, hallways, a kitchen and a restaurant in a main building of 14,662 square meters.  The designers have a plan for the building to be versatile.  This will be achieved by equipping the space with mobile walls that can expand from 162 square meters to 6,989 square meters. 

Also, the whole building will be constructed on one level, allowing for the opportunity to be one single space or smaller subdivided areas.  The total building capacity will be 4,592 seated persons.

The outside space will have an access road to the highway, pedestrian area, parking, a 7,500 square meter outdoor exhibition space and a waste and wastewater treatment facility.

A unique characteristic of the center will be that its bioclimatic and sustainable environment architecture, said spokespersons.  The center will have a high-tech air conditioning system, but, in order to be energy efficient, it will work in sections so it does not have to be on in places that are not in use.  Other possible options are umbrellas that mitigate solar heating, the reuse of rain water for irrigation and for uses inside the building, faucets that run on sensors and water heated by solar energy.

Expotur, the exposition of tourism operators, will be a place where the institute will begin to emphasize Costa Rica as a place for conferences and conventions.

"This action is appropriately aligned with the project for the construction of the first national center for congresses and conventions of Costa Rica, a highly competitive construction, that will strengthen the objectives that the tourism sector has framed to ensure that the tourism industry continue to be one of the main driving forces behind the country's economy, generating direct and indirect benefits for human development," said Allen Flores, tourism minister, at a conference Monday.

The 29th edition of Expotur will be open to the public May 11 to 12 in the convention center of Hotel Wyndham San José Herradura.   There will also be workshops for children, recreational activities, crafts and cultural events in the hotel.


Three teens held in case
of torched sleeping man

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three teens have been detained in a blazing attack on a sleeping man.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that a 44-year-old man identified by the last name of  Ceciliano was asleep on the public street. He had covered himself with a blanket.

This was about 8 p.m. in San Sebastián. Agents accuse the teens of pouring flammable liquid on the sleeping man and then igniting it. The suspects were detained a short time later by Fuerza Pública officers. Two are 16 and one is 18.

The victim suffered second degree burns and went to  Hospital San Juan de Dios. Police said the man suffered burns mainly to his legs.

Venezuela cites emergency
in generation of electricity


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Nicolas Maduro's government declared a 90-day emergency in Venezuela's electricity sector Tuesday to speed up infrastructure work and equipment imports needed to prevent politically-contentious power cuts.
      
Officials have blamed periodic blackouts on sabotage and excessive consumption, while critics say the sector is suffering from poor management and inefficiency following the late socialist leader Hugo Chavez's nationalization.
      
Maduro, who won a vote to succeed his former mentor Chávez this month, has promised a government of efficiency to tackle day-to-day problems like power outages plaguing the South American nation's 29 million people, especially in the provinces.
      
A decree in the official Gazette ordered state power company Corpolec to adopt all technical and economic measures necessary to maintain electricity services, and authorized the army to guard key installations against vandalism and attacks.
      
Power rationing has returned to some states, reviving memories of a prolonged crisis in the sector in 2010 that weighed on Chavez's popularity at the time.
      
Saying Venezuela now had the highest per capita consumption in Latin America, Maduro has announced a new national Electricity Mission to stabilize the sector.
      
"If we don't balance this investment in generation with more rational use of energy, it's difficult to keep a system like this stable,'' said his newly appointed Electricity Minister Jesse Chacón, explaining the measures and calling for a nationwide electricity-saving drive.


Rescued animals bounce back,
British study of goats shows


By the University of London news staff

Animal sanctuaries can play an important role in rehabilitating goats and other animals that have suffered from neglect, according to scientists at Queen Mary, University of London.

In this first scientific study of rescued animals, the researchers examined moods in 18 goats, nine of which had endured poor welfare, such as inappropriate diet, and lack of space or shelter before arriving at a sanctuary. They created a spatial awareness test, which involved giving the animals an opportunity to look for food, to understand the link between poor welfare and the goats’ mental health, by comparing the behavior of the mistreated goats with that of the goats that had been generally well treated.

The scientists observed whether some goats were faster to explore specific areas that resulted in the reward of food and others that did not. They assessed how the goats judged previously unknown locations, described as ambiguous because they were situated between spaces known to contain food and areas without food.

“Mood can have a huge influence on how the brain processes information. In humans, for example, it’s well known that people in positive moods have an optimistic outlook on life, which means they are more resilient to stress. In the same way, measures of optimism and pessimism can provide indicators for an understanding of animal welfare,” explains co-author Elodie Briefer from Queen Mary’s School of Biological and Chemical Sciences.

It was thought that the goats from the poor welfare group would be more pessimistic and slower than the well-treated goats to explore ambiguous locations for food, where the promise of reward was not guaranteed. However, a surprising result of the study was that female goats that had been mistreated in the past were more optimistic than the other well-treated female goats.

The researcher adds: “In this case, we found that female goats that had been previously neglected were the most optimistic of all the tested animals. They were more optimistic than well-treated females, but also the poorly treated males. This suggests that females may be better at recovering from neglect when released from stress, and might have implications for animal sanctuaries in how they tailor the care they provide for the different sexes.”  


 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary


















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World court rejects Nicaragua's claim to rights on Río Colorado
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The International Court of Justice has rejected a request by Nicaragua for free passage on the Río Colorado, said the Costa Rican foreign ministry. The court orders are not yet available.

This is a new chapter in the dispute over the invasion by Nicaragua into land in extreme northeast Costa Rica.

The court based in The Hague, The Netherlands is a United Nations entity.  It had been hearing the case since 2010. Last August Nicaragua filed a counterclaim that sought access to the Río Colorado.

That river really is a second major channel of the Río San Juan that flows south from the river through Costa Rica.

The court also said that it rejected Nicaragua's call for oversight of Costa Rica's activities in building a road along the south bank of the Río San Juan. Nicaragua had claimed that the road construction was putting sediment into the river.

The court said that this was not something it wanted to adjudicate, said the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto.
The court is the highest authority on the dispute over the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The court also said it decided to join both the original Costa Rican claim of encroachment and the Nicaragua counterclaims into one case. The foreign ministry said that both countries have to file written responses in December and that the court will set the date for oral arguments then. The decision joining both cases is on the court's Web site.

The international boundary is the south bank of the river. That has caused problems for Costa Rica, and Nicaragua frequently demands fees from tourists on the river. Until Costa Rica started construction of the Ruta 1856, the river was the only means of transport among the isolated communities.

Nicaraguan officials want to develop the area north of the river, but they need a silt-free channel to the Caribbean. The final 40 kilometers of the river wanders and is silted up. The Río Colorado is not, but it is well within Costa Rican territory.

Nicaragua wanted to take over a small part of Costa Rica to dig a channel from the Río San Juan to the Caribbean, that route went through environmentally sensitive areas.


Honors
for queen


Queen Elizabeth II of Britain received the honors Tuesday when a floral offering was placed in her name at the Monumento Nacional. Local officials attended and Mubarak Abujassoum, chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of Qatar, represented the diplomatic service.  Also there was the British ambassador,  Sharon Campbell. The queen was born April 21.
honor guard
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto photo


High waves predicted starting Thursday along Pacific coast
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ocean experts say that high seas will batter the Pacific coast starting Thursday. The situation is expected to continue through Sunday.

The prediction is for waves as high as two meters. The highest are expected Thursday at 2:21 p.m., Friday at 3:07 p.m. and Saturday at 3:52 p.m., said Omar G. Lizano Rodríguez of the Universidad de Costa Rica. He is coordinator of the Módulo de
Información Oceanográfica there. Waves during the morning high tide will be lower, he said.

The waves can be dangerous for bathers and small boats, he added.

He said the biggest problems might be at Caldera, Playa Azul  in Tárcoles and Palo Seco. He said that there were similar waves last week that battered Caldera, The waves are coming from the south southwest, he said.

Del Rey Hotel

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 24, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 80
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7,500 years of European DNA discloses a major upheaval in culture
By the University of Adelaide news staff

Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.

The study, published today in Nature Communications, reveals a dramatic series of events including major migrations from both Western Europe and Eurasia, and signs of an unexplained genetic turnover about 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.

The research was performed at the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. Researchers used DNA extracted from bone and teeth samples from prehistoric human skeletons to sequence a group of maternal genetic lineages that are now carried by up to 45 percent of Europeans.

The international team also included the University of Mainz in Germany and the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project.

"This is the first high-resolution genetic record of these lineages through time, and it is fascinating that we can directly observe both human DNA evolving in real-time and the dramatic population changes that have taken place in Europe," says joint lead author Wolfgang Haak of the center.

"We can follow over 4,000 years of prehistory, from the earliest farmers through the early Bronze Age to modern times."

"The record of this maternally inherited genetic group, called Haplogroup H, shows that the first farmers in Central Europe resulted from a wholesale cultural and genetic input via migration, beginning in Turkey and the Near East where farming originated and arriving in Germany around 7,500 years ago," says joint lead author Paul Brotherton, now at the University of Huddersfield, in the United Kingdom.
Alan Cooper says: "What is intriguing is that the genetic markers of this first pan-European culture, which was clearly very successful, were then suddenly replaced around 4,500 years ago, and we don't know why. Something major happened, and the hunt is now on to find out what that was."

He is with the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.

The team developed new advances in molecular biology to sequence entire mitochondrial genomes from the ancient skeletons. This is the first ancient population study using a large number of mitochondrial genomes.

"We have established that the genetic foundations for modern Europe were only established in the Mid-Neolithic, after this major genetic transition around 4,000 years ago," says Haak. "This genetic diversity was then modified further by a series of incoming and expanding cultures from Iberia and Eastern Europe through the Late Neolithic."

"The expansion of the Bell Beaker culture appears to have been a key event, emerging in Iberia around 2800 BC and arriving in Germany several centuries later," says Brotherton. "This is a very interesting group as they have been linked to the expansion of Celtic languages along the Atlantic coast and into central Europe."

The culture is named after their pots.

"These well-dated ancient genetic sequences provide a unique opportunity to investigate the demographic history of Europe," says Professor Cooper.

"We can not only estimate population sizes but also accurately determine the evolutionary rate of the sequences, providing a far more accurate timescale of significant events in recent human evolution."

The team has been working closely on the genetic prehistory of Europeans for the past seven to eight years.

 
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Heredia rental
Beautiful mountain chalet  for rent
Beautiful mountain chalet surrounded by nature, built with tropical hardwoods and  located on a  5,000 m2  (54,000 sq feet) lot  with two other cottages.  House has basic furniture and  kitchen  appliances.  Ground floor:  Very large living/ dinning room, kitchen, office (or guest bedroom), and 1 bathroom . Upstairs:  2 bedrooms (one with a balcony), and 1 bathroom. 140 m2 approximately  Great BBQ rancho outside. Plenty space for visitor parking. Pets are welcome.  Quiet place, rural, restaurants close by. Near El Castillo Country Club, Tirol and La Condesa mountain hotels.  Only 45 minutes by car from San José.  All public services available  More information call Liseth.  Phone: (506) 7158-1548. Or send me a email:  licortes@hotmail.com
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Manuel Antonio long term apartment for rent
This modern two-bedroom apartment with a breathtaking view of the Quepos town and the Pacific Ocean is situated near Manuel Antonio National Park and beaches. The location offers a unique experience in the edge of the jungle, where you can observe wildlife. The apartment has two separate bedrooms and sleeps three guests maximum. The bathroom has a walk-in shower and a toilette. The living room is furnished with very comfortable furniture. The kitchen is fully equipped. Public transports like taxis, bus station, port as well as shops, groceries, restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightlife are within a very short distance. Fully furnished, all bills included (water, electricity, cable tv, wireless internet), $575 per month, 6-month minimum. Contact us now!!! 8853-8245. or see our
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Mountain cabin for rent
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Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

7857-5/4/13





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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, April 24, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 80
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bookstore promoe



Agents grabbed wrong man
in ricin poison letter case


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. federal prosecutors have dropped charges against a Mississippi man suspected of sending poisoned letters to President Barack Obama and to a U.S. senator.

A lawyer for Paul Kevin Curtis say investigators have turned their attention to another suspect whose house they already have searched. The attorney said investigators could find no evidence that Curtis was involved.

Federal agents arrested Curtis last week after letters tainted with the deadly poison ricin turned up at facilities that handle mail for the White House and Congress. One letter was addressed to President Obama and another to Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi. A Mississippi state judge also was threatened.

Investigators said they found no trace of ricin or the tools they think could have created it in Curtis's home or car, and no Internet searches for how to make the drug on his computer.

Curtis was released on Tuesday. He told reporters that the past week has been a nightmare. He said he loves his country and respects President Obama.


Economists are bullish
on job market growth


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new survey of U.S. corporate economists shows that their businesses may be set to hire more workers in the coming months.
 
The U.S. government says that American employers hired just 88,000 more workers in March after several months when more than twice that number was added. Last month's figure sparked fears that the labor market in the world's largest economy might be slowing again.
 
But a recent survey by the National Association for Business Economics said that 40 percent of those questioned said their companies plan to increase hiring in the next six months, compared to 9 percent foreseeing more layoffs.
 
The chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, Ken Simonson, said the forecast was one of the most favorable in the 30-year history of the survey.
 
"We had a net of 30 percent of the firms saying that they would be expanding hiring in the next six months and that was the best reading in two years, one of the best in the 30-year history of the survey."
 
Simonson said the cumulative effect of an improving U.S. economy could push companies to hire more workers.
 
"It does reflect what they said about the last quarter," he said. "That more firms reported higher sales, higher profit margins, and I think it’s also a cumulative effect of three-and-a-half years of growth in the economy, that now more firms say, well, 'we really can’t get by with just the workforce we have, we have to add more people.'"
 

Fake AP Twitter message
sent stocks into the tank

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A false report of explosions at the White House and injuries to President Barack Obama sent U.S. stocks plunging Tuesday before they recovered quickly.

The Associated Press said hackers broke into its Twitter account and wrote: "Breaking: Two explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."

Within minutes, the most widely watched U.S. stock index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, fell about 130 points, erasing the day's gains.

But the Dow regained the losses just as quickly when it became obvious the reports were a hoax.

A group called the Syrian Electronic Army is claiming responsibility for the cyber attack.  Its claim has not been verified.

The group has claimed similar attacks on other news organizations.


France legalizes gay unions
but court appeals are expected


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

France became the ninth European country to legalize gay marriage Tuesday when the country's National Assembly passed a bill on same-sex marriages and adoptions, ending months of bitter and sometimes violent debate.
 
As lawmakers cheered, France's lower house adopted the marriage for all legislation on second reading, with 331 lawmakers voting for the bill and 225 against.

Addressing the lower house after the vote, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who described the legislation as beautiful and generous and said she was very emotional, declared that the first same-sex weddings could take place as early as June.
 
Although passage of the gay marriage bill was largely a foregone conclusion, it has drawn surprisingly strong opposition, with protests gathering tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people. Many observers believe the demonstrations underscore a broader anger against French President Francois Hollande and his Socialist government.
 
According to police estimates, about 45,000 people attended one of the final anti-gay-marriage rallies in Paris Sunday. Some brought children and many waved pink banners sporting images of heterosexual families.
 
One young woman, who gave only her first name, Virginie, said she particularly opposed same-sex adoptions on the grounds that, in her opinion, it poses double burden for the child.
 
Some of the protests have turned violent in recent weeks and there have been a handful of attacks against gays. Also, the president of the National Assembly received a threatening letter on Monday.
 
But polls show the majority of French favor gay marriage, and supporters have also turned out in force at their own rallies, including a counter-demonstration Sunday headed by Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who announced that he is gay during a 1988 television interview that preceded his mayoral term.
 
With the vote, France becomes the fourteenth country worldwide to legalize same-sex unions. But opponents haven't given up, warning they will challenge the legislation in France's Constitutional Council and continue to protest next month.


Obama lookalike
Voice of America photo
Larry Graves meets a fan which fake agent watches

Lookalike thrives on playing
Obama at private events

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In some countries, people can be put in jail for impersonating political leaders.  But in places where freedom of speech is protected, you may see people mimicking politicians in public or on television.

In the Washington area, Larry Graves, who closely resembles President Barack Obama, entertains people at conferences and other events as an Obama look-alike. 

When Graves spoke at an environmental conference at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, some people weren’t sure at first if he was President Obama.  The audience smiled and laughed once they realized Graves is an Obama look-alike.
 
“I want to thank the Environmental Information Association for having me here today.  I understand this is your 30th anniversary, so congratulations,” said Graves at the podium.

Mike Farrell, who attended the conference, was taken aback when Graves walked into the room.

“It’s really astonishing how close he actually is: his mannerisms, the way that he speaks, his hair, you know the whole package,” Farrell expressed.

The whole package includes two men playing Secret Service agents protecting the Obama look-alike.  Matt Baldwin has been at Graves' side for five years.

“People have actually come up to me and asked 'Is that really the president?'  I’ve had fun with it and I just didn’t say anything,” Baldwin said.

Many people wanted to have their picture taken with Graves, including Eric Goeller, an environmental consultant from Arizona.

“I sent this picture of myself and Mr. Obama back home and I’ve gotten about 25 text messages regarding my meeting with the president,” said an amused Goeller.

Environmentalist Sean Fitzgerald spoke at length with Graves about the dangers of asbestos, which is known to cause cancer.

“I was thinking what it would be like if this was the real president,” Fitzgerald articulated.

Graves is amazed that people approach him like that, even knowing he’s not the president.

“I find it slightly incredulous that people come up to me with reverence, respect and awe,” Graves said.

Graves says it took time to master Obama’s speech pattern. He uses makeup to enhance his appearance as the president by darkening his eyebrows, deepening his lip color, and adding Obama’s prominent mole.  He also colors his thinning hair and combs it forward to look like the president. 

Besides facial similarities, Graves said he and the president have other things in common.  “We’re both the same body size.  We’re both left-handed and we both like basketball.”

He hasn’t met President Obama but hopes to one day, and to challenge him to a pick-up basketball game. “I don’t think Obama could beat me in a game of basketball,” Graves declared.

Graves began his career as a look-alike during President Obama’s first presidential campaign.  The role supplements his other job as a substitute gym teacher at Fields Road Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

A group of fifth grade students didn't know their teacher plays an Obama look-alike until they watched a video of him acting like the president.  At first they thought they were watching the president, but said Graves’ voice gave him away.

“It looked like our gym teacher but it was really hard to tell.  It just looked like Obama,” said Emily Miller.

“It feels like I’m being taught by a famous gym teacher,” a classmate added.

Graves is glad President Obama won a second term, not only because he admires him, but also because he can continue to entertain people as his look-alike. 

“It’s easy for me to just roll with it, and go with whatever they’re into, and have fun with it,” expressed Graves.

Vince Brennan, who came from Vermont to the Environmental Information Association meeting, enjoyed having Larry Graves, the Obama look-alike, stop by.

“It’s great to have the president come down and see us,” he said.

comis
                  convention
Voice of America photo
StarWars characters were in abundance

Superhero movies give
boost to comic conventions

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Comic book conventions, which originally showcased comic books, cartoons, science fiction and related popular arts, have grown into pop culture events in major U.S. cities.  Recently one such convention was held in Washington and drew thousands of visitors.  Some comic fans take the fun seriously.

Acting like superheroes or super-villains, or just showing off, comic fans dressed up as their favorite characters are having a good time at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Some enjoy the fantasy of the comic convention.

Edward Nigma says he and his wife came from Gotham City, the fictional home of Batman.

Many take the fun seriously.  It took more than four months for Dale Harvey to build this costume of a video game character.

“I get enjoyment out of creating it, building it with my friends, just having a good time seeing people’s reaction to it," said Harvey. "The most awesome thing for me is watching kids, young and old, have a good time seeing a character come to life.”

The event also offers an opportunity to make new friends.

Organizers say the "Awesome Con DC" event drew more than 5,000 visitors for two days.  Ben Penrod is the event coordinator.

“These types of conventions are huge right now," said Penrod. "They have them in every city. This is only a fraction of the size of San Diego every year, or even the one in Baltimore.”

Penrod says mega hit superhero films based on comic books have helped fuel the convention's popularity.

“You had to read comic books to know The Avengers," he said. "Now "The Avengers" is the third highest-grossing film of all time.  And people, everybody knows about it.”

The core of Awesome Con DC is about comics, but it embraces movies, TV and video games. 

Special events include independent filmmakers’ screenings and discussions. 

Celebrity guests like Phil LaMarr, who is best known for his voice acting in animated films, and Ernie Hudson, who was in the blockbuster movie "Ghostbusters," help attract fans.

Fans also get to learn how to draw characters from some famous comic creators.

The costume contest is a big part of the fun.

And the impromptu duel between costumed characters is a bit of surprise entertainment for the spectators.  The organizers and comic fans agree that Awesome Con DC will be an annual event and will grow bigger as other such conventions have in other cities.


Obama plans a round two
to pass controls on guns


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

After gun control legislation was soundly defeated in the U.S. Senate last week, President Barack Obama said the votes were only round one in the fight to reduce gun violence.  But some Americans are skeptical that there will be a round two.
 
Despite the political setback, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday the gun control campaign will go on.

“Well, as I said before, I don't have a legislative strategy to lay out to you today. But there will be a round two and there will be a continued effort by this administration,” Carney said.

No decision has been announced on when or even whether the White House will try again to push gun control legislation through Congress. 

In the House of Representatives, a bipartisan bill requiring stricter background checks for gun buyers has been introduced. Democrat Mike Thompson, chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, sponsored the measure, along with Republican Peter King.

But the Republican-led House is likely to be even less receptive to gun control legislation than the Democratic-controlled Senate, where last week’s bills failed to gain the 60 votes needed for passage.

Thompson said the political realities of the situation were made clear to him when he asked a Republican lawmaker to add his name to the legislation as a co-author.

“He said, ‘I will vote for it, but I do not want to co-author.’  And I asked him, I said, ‘Do you know how many people in your district support this?’  He said, ‘Yeah, I saw the poll.’  He said, ‘93 percent in my district support this.’  I said, ‘And you do not want to co-author it?’  He said, ‘Not one of them have called me,’” Thompson said.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association and other gun owners’ groups have spent heavily to defeat gun control initiatives and mobilized their members.

Michael Hammond, legal adviser for the gun rights group Gun Owners of America, says the lobbying effort strikes fear into lawmakers.

“What they have reason to be afraid of is 100,000,000 American gun owners, that when we say, ‘Here is what the situation is,’ that millions of Americans will get on the phones and not get off the phones until they have made it clear to their senators that they value the Second Amendment,” Hammond said.

Hammond says his group has targeted 15 Democratic senators, up for re-election in 2014, who voted for the doomed Senate gun bill.

At the same time, public support for gun control legislation appears to have slipped since the killing of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school in December.

A new public opinion poll by USA Today shows that only 49 percent of Americans surveyed favor new gun control laws, and President Obama is considering options outside Capitol Hill.

With the defeat of the legislative package, the president said he will pursue executive actions designed to reduce gun violence.

“Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities.  We are going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background check system.  We are going to give law enforcement more information about lost and stolen guns, so it can do its job.  We are going to help to put in place emergency plans to protect our children in their schools,” Obama said.

And as he has done before, Obama is asking Americans to put pressure on their lawmakers to back any future gun violence bills.

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Bid on Costa Rican properties to be foreclosed!
Win big with Costa Rican foreclosures.
Full service team at your service

English-speaking team of lawyers, translators and other experts will help and guide you to make the right decision. Complete support including legal research and accurate description of all documents. Legal support all through the process.
 rosa_monge@racsa.co.cr Cell: (506) 8919-4545 (English)

WE GET RESULTS!
7873-4/7/13

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112. www.costaricarealtyone.com
7938-6/8/13

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
 
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at www.moranlakearenal.com
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Email: moranrealestate@gmail.com
Moran logo
7922-10/15/13

The #1 Authority in Costa Rica Real Estate

Costa Rica real estate
Since 1996, CRREC has been providing the most valuable resource for discovering real estate in Costa Rica. Our Costa Rica properties database contains some of the most exclusive and hard to find properties in the country. Not to mention how affordable some of our Costa Rica homes for sale are. So if you're in the market for Costa Rica real estate then we encourage you to
visit our Costa Rica MLS and discover for yourself why people call CRREC the #1 authority in Costa Rica real estate.
Call Today @ 506-2654-5507 (Costa Rica) or 1-888-414-1836 (Toll-Free) Email: info@costaricarealestate.com
7721-4/29/13



Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.
Grecia new
This is a property with real character offered at $1.2 million. Click HERE!
San Lis home
Incredible view of the Central Valley from San Luis $282,000 Click HERE!
 Great deals for you!
SEE OUR OFFERS HERE
Visit our Web Site:
 www.greciarealestate.com
 English: (Cristian Arce)
English:  (Luis Arce)
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)

   (506) 8538-6186
   (506) 7100-8489
   (506) 8707-4016

  Send us your request to our email: info@greciarealestate.com
7685-2/7/12

Real estate for sale (paid category)


Arenal Colonial
Property for sale, great potential income
Turnkey business $350K. Rental $1,250/month This luxury home (4,000 square feet and two story private home) is a botanical paradise overlooking beautiful Lake Arenal. Only one block from the lake park and boat ramp. Close to Tabacón hot springs and Monteverde cloud forest. Caño Negro national park and many beautiful beaches along the Pacific are only a short drive away. Costa Rica bird watching, wind surfing, fishing, water sports, ecotourism adventures, hiking, tennis and mountain biking are out your front door. Also has a wonderful view of the Arenal Volcano, a safe 25 miles away. Electric gated entrance. Safe private home and entire property. To see more pictures and info, click here: http://www.intertica.com/homes/roy.htm
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=wKaNmrNyyZtXGg
7933-7/22/13

Jacó compound
Located at Barrio Ricos y Famosos in Calle Europa, Casa Shangri La.
Main house: 3 bedrooms, 3 bath 270 square meters, 2 condominiums 2 bedrooms, one bath, 110 square meters, plus one small apartment. one bedroom, one bath. Huge pool, carport for five cars. plus double garage, rancho with pool bathroom,  gymnasium, laundry room, pool plumbing room, huge dog house in separate 500 square-meter garden with aviary for Guacamayas (we have three birds) 60 meters of river front of Río Copey with a 4 meter-high protective and retention stone wall. Eight surveillance camera CCTV system with Internet access from anywhere. Over 2 meter-high brick wall all around the property with two layers of razor wires on top, the safest place to be! Electronic entrance gate, door phone, five telephone lines, high-speed Internet wireless access everywhere. Beautiful gardens with many fruit trees. Price $ 1,350.000 negotiable. All fittings and furniture, included even a car. German-built, excellent quality and well maintained. More photos on request. http://www.intertica.com/ocean/wolfgang.htm
7929-7/18/13

Monte Mar
Hacienda Monte Mar
Gated Community near the beach
SALE on our last 4 lots! Starting at just $17,500 with financing available.
Reserve today with just $5,000 down
Great Retirement Home, Vacation Home, or investment option!
Lots of wildlife on the property. Gated front entrance, caretakers house.
Water and power on site.
http://www.haciendamontemar.com/
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891
7928-8/9/13

Casa de Eden
For sale by owner Playa Conchal home. Reduced $329,000

Casa de Eden is an ocean view three-bedroom, 2.5-bath, with outdoor shower, private pool located only minutes from Playa Conchal.  The home is in a private, secure community surrounded by nature but still only 20 minutes to the resort towns of Flamingo & Tamarindo and less than an hour from the Liberia airport. There is 2,600 square feet under the roof, which includes a large outdoor terrace and has phone, Internet & satellite TV. The home boasts luxury finishings: AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire professional series stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom wood cabinetry, ceramic tile.  Contact desmondproperties@gmail.com  U.S. 1-800-939-2617 or CR (506) 8349-2025.
www.puntaplayavistas.com
7905-4/27/13

Pirate beach
For sale by owner: Ocean view condominium. Reduced $175,000

Gorgeous two- bedroom, two-bath with private terrace offering spectacular ocean views and built-in energy efficiently. This condo is located in a gated community with low HOA dues and offers amenities including a pool & rancho.  It is located close to a beautiful white sandy Pirates Beach. Only 20 minutes to the resort towns of Flamingo & Tamarindo and less than an hour from the Liberia airport.  Luxury finishings: Pella double panel windows, AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom wood cabinetry, porcelain tile. Contact desmondproperties@gmail.com  U.S. 1-800-939-2617 or CR (506) 8349-2025. www.puntaplayavistas.com
7904-4/27/13

Condo
FIRE SALE ON THIS SPACIOUS CONDO
WITH GREAT OCEAN VIEWS $205,000 USD
This is a well distributed condo, very spacious and meticulously maintained. It sells furnished with quality furnishings and appliances. 3 bedrooms, 3 baths and lots of storage place. It's a 2,200-sq. foot condo with double garage. Ideally located 20 minutes south of Jacó. It comes with a free beach club membership at Monterey Hotel in Esterillos. Call 2778-8408 or 8707-1037. Email marietta234@yahoo.es or www.beachfrontcentralpacific.com
7900-4/22/13
Las Escadas
Welcome to our Paradise
Las Escadas – Condomimium & Club
San Juan del Sur – Nicaragua

1 and 2 bedroom condos from $ 39,900.
Las Escadas Condominiums & Club is the best Investment opportunity for those who want to live surrounded on all sides with nature and very closes to many beautiful beaches, amazing places with rich history and culture.
Security entrance – Administrative office – Swimming pool – Children's playground – Reserved parking available – Basketball court – pathways – Underground utilities.
Only $ 99 to reserve your Unit. Limited time offer
Contact: info@lasescadas.com    www.lasescadas.com
Cell English +505 8588-9827 – Cell Spanish/English 8551-4391
7895-4/20/13
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Nicoya views
Property with ocean and gulf view for sale
Tranquil million dollar view, 5,000-sq.meter property with 3/2 home built to American standards, artistically designed and decorated, 16-foot ceilings of mango and tamarindo, appliances, plunge pool, rancho, caretaker apartment, workshop, covered parking, views of Gulf of Nicoya and ocean, in countryside near San José to Caldera highway. Near the lovely town of Esparza. Can provide extra income from bed and breakfast room rental and stellar Tripadvisor reviews. www.oasisbytheseabandb.com $180,000 506-8869-9274.
7882-4/15/13

View from Orosi home

Majestically situated overlooking the Orosi Valley and the tropical rain forest, this 2-bedroom, 2½-bath home with a separate office is offered at $550,000.  From the extensive use of glass windows visitors are easily captivated by the unbelievably 7 acres of pure, natural Costa Rican landscape.   The property is located 15 minutes from the Cartago metropolitan area, an hour from San José, 1¼ hours to the Juan Santamaria International Airport, 2 hours to the beaches of the Pacific West Coast, or 3 ½  hours to the beaches of the southern Caribbean coast.
http://ackermanrealtyinternational.com
USA 678-799-8803
CR Cell 011-506-8-910-2904
Margo@ackermanrealtyinternational.com


FOR SALE BY OWNER
You can purchase property in Costa Rica legally without paying Land Transfer Tax; this plus the usual real estate commission of 5% will reduce your purchase price by approximately 11%. Save over $50,000.00 on the purchase of this $465,000.00 property. Large 5000+ sq.ft. House. Ideal for business executive, B & B or large family. E-mail for photos and more information to landofpalms@hotmail.com.
7869-4/6/13

ALAJUELA – PRIVATE COMPOUND OF 4 HOMES - $850,000 TURNKEY
Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:
7856-5/4/13

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary. jungalow@gmail.com.
7845-8/18/13

Rich Coast Montage
RichCoastRealty.com
Central Pacific Coast Real Estate
- 2-bedroom house in gated community, $92,500.
- Lots in gated community from $20k w/financing available.
- 3-bedroom house in gated community, furnished, walk to the beach, $125k
- 3-bedroom oceanview house on 5 acres subdividable, $270k
- 58-acre oceanview property subdividable, $169k
Oceanfront residential Lot $58k
and much more....
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718 9891
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
7829-5/8/13

Ocean view home
Georgeous House For Sale In Costa Rica
Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft TITLED property. This is a very special and rare property because of the INCREDIBLE OCEAN VIEW and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must see. Ocean view Only $345 000.00 US More details: http://www.monalbum.fr/Album=E3GLBJQX
Jack 506-2778-8172    Email: quadtours@yahoo.ca
7789-2/14/13

just reduced
Just Reduced to $169,000!!!
58-acre oceanview and mountainview property

Segregated into 9 lots, Excellent Development Potential!
20 minutes from the beach Central Pacific Coast, between Jacó and Quepos.
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/1060.html
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005  CR Cell 8718-9891
7766-6/17/13

montage ofr photos
ALAZAN Eco-Friendly Community

- Ocean, mountain, and river views, built in harmony with nature
- 70% sold out, 1.25 acre + lots available from $75,000
- All lots held in separate corporations
- Functioning HOA with 24-hour security and gated front entrance
- 100% custom homes, turnkey construction
- Community homes have been featured in Su Casa Architectural Magazine
- Abundant wildlife on the property, access to 45-acre nature preserve
- Organic Permaculture farm coming soon
- Build your custom dream home and join our community of friends in paradise!
Brokers Welcome
http://www.richcoastrealty.com/1011.html
USA Toll Free 1 866 833 4005
CR Cell 011 (506) 8718-9891
7725-xxxx

Costa Azul view
costa azul ocean
Properties in Osa near the ocean.
50% discount from the valuation price, starting at $30.000.
Financing available. Contact us at +506 2233-7778 or +506 8815-6476.
Grupo Costa Azul – A property waiting for you!
www.grupocostaazulcr.com
7484-9/11/12

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

Business for sale or lease (paid category)7115-12/16/11


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 services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

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theft
              suspect
Judicial Investigating Organization photo
A 27-year-old woman is led to a waiting car after her arrest in San Sebastián.

Three men and a woman
held in home burglaries

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents detained Tuesday three men and a woman as suspects in a string of home burglaries in the Moravia area.

Agents conducted raids in San Sebastián, Hatillo 8 and Alajuela to make the arrests.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said agents found what looked like police uniforms at the homes of the suspects, as well as ski masks.

In most cases, the crimes in Moravia and nearby areas took place when no one was in the invaded home.

Agents said they were working on the case for several months and could list 11 cases where the individuals are suspects.

A 37-year-old man and his 27-year-old female companion were detained in San Sebastián, said agents. Another suspect is 57, and another is 25.


Quake rattles Caribbean

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica reported a 4.3 magnitude quake took place this morning at 1:35 a.m. 4.8 kilometers southeast of Carrandi de Matina on the Caribbean coast.  The quake was felt strongly in Limón Centro, Moín and Batan.

The shock also was felt as far away as Cartago, San Isidro de El General and Buenos Aires de Puntarenas, said the Laboratorio which is based at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

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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 S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details