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(506) 2223-1327               Published Thursday, April 29, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 83        E-mail us
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Immigration putting expat residency data online
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The immigration agency is putting on line the personal information of legal foreign residents in the country. The agency has contracted with Radiográfica Costarricense S.A. to offer a service to firms and individuals who want to check out the status of foreigners.

The Banco Nacional has been using the system in its banking activities in a pilot program. Those who seek to use the system have to sign up with Radiográfica Costarricense, known as RACSA. The charge is 100 colons per inquiry, about 20 U.S. cents.

The immigration status of foreigners has been available on a case-by-case basis, but four years ago the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería restricted that information to lawyers.

The data base is set up to be searched by name, 
number of cédula, birth date, nationality and gender, said the immigration agency.

Alicia Avendaño, director of the División de Gobierno Digital, said that the project is part of the process of providing transparency in government operations.

A number of companies have asked for a system to check up on the legal status of foreigners in Costa Rica, said Mario Zamora, immigration director.

Only foreigners who are permanent residents are allowed to hold jobs in Costa Rica, but there are many types of residency, including pensionado and rentista. Permanent residency usually is achieved after several years in one of the other categories.

The system also will allow banks and potential employers to check the validity of cédulas presented by individuals and visas, which sometimes are forged.


Expat challenges rule to renounce U.S. citizenship
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

According to Costa Rican law, foreigners who seek Costa Rican nationality through length of residency have to agree to renounce their current citizenship.

That is not the case for a person who obtains Costa Rican residency through a relationship with a Costa Rican.

The issue is important for U.S. expats. While that country allows their citizens to hold other nationalities, most would not want to surrender their citizenship when they opt to become Costa Ricans.

Now a Playas del Coco woman, identified by the Poder Judicial as Leslie Barbara Zelinsky Levy, has filed a Sala IV constitutional case challenging the section of the immigration law that mandates surrendering a previous citizenship. She is a U.S. citizen.

The case was filed by San José lawyer Bárbara Jiménez Coble. The appeal challenges the different ways Costa Rica handles the citizenship application in which one class of persons must surrender a foreign citizenship but another class, those obtaining citizenship through a family relationship, do not.

A U.S. Embassy official told a writer Wednesday that a number of American citizens here have signed documents promising to renounce their citizenship, but that the embassy does not take the paperwork seriously.

In a more formal account, the U.S. State Department says on its Web site "a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship."
dual nationality


Surrendering U.S. citizenship can be a formal process that some expats do in order to avoid U.S. taxes or for political reasons.

In some cases because a treaty agreement exists between Costa Rica and another nation, citizens may assume dual nationality without the need to renounce the current one. The United States does not have such a treaty. That figures in the court appeal, too.

Those who seek Costa Rican citizenship must show that they have been in the country a prescribed period, which varies based on their country of origin.

Non-native Spanish speakers have to take a language test. All have to take a test over Costa Rican civics.

Those who seek residency by a family relationship, such as a spouse or a child born here, do not have to take these tests.

Some criminal suspects who are fleeing U.S. justice sometimes manage to obtain Costa Rican citizenship because the country's Constitution prohibits the extradition of citizens. The citizenship process can be reversed if the Costa Rican government believes that there were misrepresentations in the naturalization process.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 83

Costa Rica Expertise
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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.


Real estate agents and services

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The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the  General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization  to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
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earthquake map

U.S. Geological Survey-national earthquake center map
Red dot shows estimated location of quake

Quake takes place in Upala

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An earthquake that both Costa Rican and U.S. experts agree had a magnitude of 5.0 took place at 6:46 a.m.Wednesday in northern Costa Rica close to the Nicaragua border.

The location was 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) north of San Rafael de Guatuso in the canton of Upala, said the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica.

Despite the magnitude, there was no report of damage or injuries. The area is mainly populated by farming and cattle operations.

The cause was attributed to interplate friction.

1910 earthquake remembered

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The devastating 1910 earthquake will be remembered next week in the community that was destroyed. The Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica is hosting schoolchildren next Wednesday and Thursday, May 6, at the Casa de la Ciudad where a photographic exposition is being arranged. The public university is based in Cartago.

Friday night, May 7, a nighttime tour is being arranged in coordination with local architects and those of the municipality.

Monday, May 10, the 100th anniversary of the earthquake that may have killed 1,200 persons, there is a 4 p.m. roundtable discussion. The topic is the architecture and heritage of the city in light of the 100th anniversary.

Luis Guillermo Coronado Céspedes and Álvaro Rivera Chacón will lecture May 12 at 4 p.m. on memories of the earthquake.


Our reader's opinion
More Arizona support
by a frequent traveler


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

People just love to blame the USA.

I read that Arizona is practicing NAZIism and other Communist activities by wanting to look at peoples proof of citizenship. I have noticed that Mexico is one of the countries that is making the statement.

Mexico also has checkpoints and also stops non-Latino looking persons.  It seems that if a policeman wishes to stop you for speeding and he asks that driver and perhaps the occupants of the car to show their proof of citizenship that you are somehow violating their privacy.

Well - I have driven through Mexico, Guatemala. and all other Central American countries, and I have been stopped by their local police and asked to show my passport AND proof that the car is legal in that specific country. I have never complained about it (I have always been legal) at all. I do not know of another Gringo that has complained. Was I stopped because I do not look like a "local?"  Possibly. Does it make any difference? I say no.

ALL countries try to keep the illegals out. Including Costa Rica and Panamá. The illegals take the jobs away from the locals or are perhaps transporting drugs

Keep it up Arizona!!! Utah says that they are going to be joining you shortly.
Frank Yates
Playa La Barqueta, Panamá

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A.M. Costa Rica guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


For your international reading pleasure:


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 83

New international airport terminal is nearly completed
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The new construction of Juan Santamaría airport will be able to handle 12 million passengers a year, about four times the current flow.

Transportation officials have extrapolated the passenger arrivals and departures at the airport and figure that the new terminal will reach its capacity in 2030.

The airport was in the news Wednesday because President Óscar Arias Sánchez visited to see the work that has been completed. The work represents a $30 million investment, and the visit Wednesday highlighted the end of the first step. That was the construction of a new terminal building.

This is the terminal the international travelers will use. It is 9,000 square meters in three levels. That's about 96,900 square feet. Of interest to expat air travelers is that the immigration booths have been increased 60 percent to 28 positions. These are on the first floor.

The old airport has long been considered a bottleneck in international travel, as Arias noted in his visit.  Arias leaves office in 10 days.
The terminal's second level has the security entrances and x-ray machines. There also are commercial areas and offices of state agencies and the airport police.

The new terminal is more than four years behind schedule. The former concession holder at the airport, Alterra Partners, ran into financial trouble and Aeris Holding Costa Rica S. A., a local manifestation of Houston Airport Systems, bought out the concession. The new firm was able to borrow $45 million to complete the first stage.

The Alterra saga was a long, politically charged one. Construction was frozen for a time because Alterra ran out of money.

Not all the first stage work is finished, but there was enough for Arias to take credit for himself and his administration. The rest of the first-state work should be done next month.

The new terminal also has more counter space for airline companies.

The second stage includes new boarding areas. Stages three and four include a new domestic terminal and a new cargo handling facility.


Leonardo is revived in a spectacular of dance tonight
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian painter and scientist, is not known to have been a choreographer, but he lives again in "Leonardo" by local dance expert Joshua Cienfuegos of the Compañía Nacional de Danza.

"Leonardo" is described as a dance spectacular that presents excerpts from the work of Da Vinci. This and other dancers will share the program and present works tonight at 8 o'clock through Sunday. The Sunday show will be earlier at 5 p.m.

The event is a celebration of the Día Internacional de la Danza. The shows will be in the Teatro de la Danza, which is in the Centro Nacional de la Cultura, the culture ministry, on Avenida 7 east of Parque España. There also will be segments of tap, ballroom, ballet, Flamenco and dances of India, said the ministry.

The national dance company is also organizing a series of classes for today to help would-be performers.
Leonardo
Ministerio de Cultural, Juventud y Deportes photo
This is part of the 'Leonardo' performance.


Objection over gate and guards prevails at Sala IV
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has ordered the Municipalidad de Belén to eliminate a gate and a traffic bump at the entrance to Residencial Bosques de Doña Rosa, according to the Poder Judicial.

A resident complained that he was delayed in driving to his home because a guardhouse had been erected and there was a manually operated gate at the entrance to the subdivision. He complained to the Sala IV.

The man, identified by the last names of Rojas Fortado
said he insists on free access in the public right-of-way. Gates and a checkpoint with a guard are measures of security that many communities have.

It was unclear why the guards did not recognize the man as a resident and allow him to pass without showing identification every time.

He said visitors had been obstructed, too.

The court decision applies just to this case, but it certainly indicated how the court would rule on similar issues if a resident of a gated community complained.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 83

Escazú Christian Fellowship
xx
Guoadalupe Missionary Baptist Church



Fatty foods become a Sala IV constitutional court case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An Escazú woman has successfully argued that the health officials should force fast food restaurants to list the salt and transfat content of foods. The woman with the last names of Jara Víquez said that the Ministerio de Salud was not adequately controlling the fast food places. She said the food outlets used too much salt and serve drinks sweetened with sugar, according to a summary provided by the Poder Judicial.

The Sala IV constitutional court gave the health ministry two months to come up with a regulation about the fat used in the preparation of foods.
The health ministry will have to give instructions to its inspectors to explain to food workers how to use grease and oils. In addition the court ordered educational campaigns to tell citizens about the negative effects of eating foods with saturated fats and transfats.

Although the woman who filed the complaint seemed to be targeting fast food restaurants, the use of fried foods and excessive oil seems to be routine in the smaller restaurants in the country.

A.M. Costa Rica has reported that burger, taco and fried chicken outlets fry with transfats that are less costly and less likely to become rancid. 



Refurbished art musuem will be opened to public Monday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes is reopening the Museo de Arte Costarricense Monday with a 10 a.m. ceremony.

The museum is in the former airport terminal in Parque la Sabana, the former international airport.

The museum closed its doors at Christmastime in 2008 for what was planned to be a year-long restoration. The work
cost in excess of $600,000.

The entire roof of the structure was to be replaced as was the electrical and telephone systems. A security system was to be installed, too. Also being restored was the the old airport control tower. New floors were to be installed and the terraces were to be waterproofed.

Parque la Sabana is the spot where John F. Kennedy landed in 1963 before the airport became a municipal park. A short time later, the airport became the park.



Instability in nation's skies dumps 5 inches on Liberia

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Instability still rules in the skies over Costa Rica, and just ask the folks who live in Liberia. The automatic weather station at Oduber airport reported 85.6 millimeters (3.37 inches) of rain to 7 a.m. Wednesday and 41.9 millimeters (1.65 inches) thereafter.  That's five inches or 127.5 millimeters.

The Instituto Meteorológical Nacional said that Liberia has
received the greatest amount of rainfall for the month of April since 1953. And the month is not over.

Similar conditions are expected today with cloudy skies  and rain. Most of the rest of the country got little rain Wednesday.

A measurable amount of a bit more than 2 millimeters fell in the early evening in San José. But the humidity was oppressive all day.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 83

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Lobo promises to be tough
fighting wave of violence


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo is promising to crack down on a wave of violence that has gripped his country, including the killing of at least six journalists. Human rights concerns have mounted in Honduras since the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya last year.

The latest violence in Honduras occurred last week when a gunman opened fire on Jorge Alberto Orellana, the host of a television program in San Pedro Sula.  Local news reports say the suspect fled after the shooting and remains at large.  Police say they are investigating whether the killing of Orellana was related to his journalistic work or whether he was killed for other reasons.

Human rights groups say it is the latest in a string of recent attacks on journalists.  At least five others have been killed, including two radio reporters who were gunned down while driving in rural Honduras last month.

The violence is putting pressure on the new administration of President Porfirio Lobo.  At a conference hosted this week by the University of Miami, Lobo said violence must be stopped.

The president said he has named a special human rights advisor to ensure that no government institution is involved in human rights violations.  And he said his administration is seeking outside help to investigate recent incidents.

Human rights experts with the Organization of American States are sending a team of investigators to Honduras to work with local officials.  One of the key objectives of the mission is to learn whether the killings were politically motivated.

Officials in the United States and Latin American are watching to see how the Lobo administration responds to the violence.

President Lobo has named a commission to investigate alleged human rights violations that occurred after military forces removed his predecessor, Manuel Zelaya, from power last June. Zelaya's supporters accused the new government of taking part in the killing and disappearance of dozens of people.

U.S. President Barack Obama has welcomed the investigation.  Several leftist governments in Latin America, however, have yet to accept the new president in Honduras and his efforts.

That division is playing out in the Organization of American States, which suspended Honduras from the democratic group as a result of the coup that forced Zelaya from office.

Carmen Lomellin, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, said member states are debating whether to reinstate Honduras' membership.  She says the military's role in Zelaya's removal as well as human rights concerns are points of concern. "Many think there has to be some responsibility for those who disrupted the democratic process," she said.

Speaking in Miami this week, President Lobo said Honduras should investigate what happened in June, not to identify those who should be brought to justice, but to learn from the experience.  Human rights activists in Honduras and abroad say they will be watching to see whether those efforts are enough.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, April 29, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 83


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Dancing light reported
in sky over Playas del Coco

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There was another case of a dancing object in the sky, this time over Playas del Coco Tuesday night.

An Expat who lives in a valley above the community reported that he saw a bright light in the northwest about 9 p.m. The light vanished and then reappeared in the southwest and then darted eastward and zigzagged back and forth before reappearing due west.

A couple of minutes later the expat said that the object streaked eastward, darted back and forth some more and then disappeared.

"Has anyone else reported an unexplainable light over Playas del Coco tonight?" the expat e-mailed.  "We saw something that we first thought was a private jet then a lightning bug but due to the speed and distance it flew from north to south then east and often disappearing for a few seconds then reappearing elsewhere moving again.  I've not seen any thing like this in my 67 years."

A.M. Costa Rica has captured some daytime unexplained objects and published them. The newspaper has speculated that unidentified high-performance aircraft are using the country as a crossing point between the Atlantic and Pacific because the nation has no warplanes to intercept them.

Any more reports of the Playas del Coco sighting or any explanations would be welcome. editor@amcostarica.com

Fake domestic worker
blamed for six thefts


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 25-year-old woman spent a year pretending to be a domestic worker while she set up homeowners for thefts, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The woman, who has the last names of Arce Arce, was detained Wednesday morning by judicial agents in San Pablo de Heredia.

Agents said that the woman would encounter homeowners on the street and give them a hard-luck story when she offered to work in their home. Once hired, she would spend a few days working as she managed to locate the valuables in the home, agents said.

There are six active complaints, although there may be more cases. The homes mainly were in San Pablo, Barva and San Rafael de Heredia.

Judicial agents estimated that the thefts amounted to about 5 million colons or about $9,900. They said that they found sales receipts in the woman's home where she had sold or pawned some jewelry


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