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Published Monday, May 1, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 85
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A third of private security groups behind on debts
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The relationship between private security and organizations within the government flits between an understanding as to the necessity of wanting safety for people and property but also an apparent conflict in terms of debt payments.

One third of all private security companies are behind on payments with the social security giant, Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social.

Taken all together, these companies owe a total amount of 2,373 million colons, according to the organization’s statistics.

Despite the relative lowness of that number amounting to about $4,260, the debt in this sector has increased a 13 percent in the last 4 months, according to authorities.

Out of the 656 companies enrolled to provide private security services, 194 have skipped their payments, according to the Caja’s report.

Currently, Caja authorities seek to close 87 of those businesses.

It has also filed 103 civil complaints and 89 criminal charges have been brought against these businesses, according to Luis Diego Calderón, the chief collections officer at the Caja.

The Caja records the top 10 companies behind their payments account for 46 percent of the total debt owed to it.

Among those companies are: CSE Seguridad S.A., Comandos de Seguridad Delta S.A., Grupo Varal Setenta y Dos Limitada S.A., Security Systems G.V.L.H S.A., and Cash Logistics S.A.

From the private security guards hired to protect condominium complexes to those businesses selling surveillance equipment, security is big business particularly with expats seeking safe places to live and or work.

Some companies are and have been operating on expired permits. Some companies are really scams that seek to lure a property owner into a false sense of security before committing acts of theft.

The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública has also recently been implementing measures targeting mostly ghost private security agencies.

It announced back in early April the implementation of a program seeking to improve the tracking of guns with an additional laser-imposed marking.

confiscated guns
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo 
Some of the illegal guns seized by police.

The police directorate that regulates the private security industry also announced the destruction of at least 100 of those guns previously used by employees in the private security industry.

This program is being conducted in partnership with the United Nations Regional Center for Peace, Development and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. This program aims to improve the origin and traceability of weapons lost, stolen or used by organized crime, according to police.

Firearms usually have a serial number of the maker located on the weapon but it is frequently the case where that number is scratched off. This prevents a person from tracking the purchase or transfer of a gun from one possessor to the next.

Ministry officials said that this pilot plan has been able to mark over 450 guns with a laser mark that includes the country code, the year the mark was made and the code of the security company using the weapon.

In addition, the government created an Android mobile app that can be used to check up on security guards back in March 2016. The app is called Agente Privado CRC.

The idea is that a homeowner or business operator can quickly check the status of  a security guard and if the guard’s permission and firearm permits are in order.

When probed about the relationship between the police forces of Costa Rica and these private groups, the response to A.M. Costa Rica has been mostly positive.

Despite some understanding as to the potential for hostility between private security and the police forces, both sides say there is nothing wrong with the current working relationship.



Costa Rica deplores Venezuela's OAS withdraw
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is deploring the recent request by the government of Venezuela to detach itself from the Organization of American States.

The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Cultos issued a statement Friday condemning President Nicolas Maduro’s letter sent to the organization’s chief, Luis Almagro, that requested the country be removed from the organization.

The letter was dated from Caracas, the country’s capital, Thursday. This would represent the first instance in which a state has left the organization since it was founded almost 69 years ago, the ministry said.

“The concern of the international community for the violence that is taking place is legitimate and well-intentioned,” the ministry’s note states.

“The disproportionate use of force deployed during the demonstrations and social protests of recent weeks, which have caused more than four hundred injuries, multiple complaints about torture, hundreds of arbitrary arrests and almost thirty people killed, with whose families we sympathize.”

Costa Rica and many other countries have been watching closely the developments occurring in Venezuela after protests broke out in April following a plan by the stacked supreme court to assume all powers of the legislative branch.

This plan was later abandoned by the judiciary under intense pressure both from the opposition, which controls the assembly, and from outside condemnation domestic and abroad.

Venezuela and the organization have been at odds with each other since Almagro formally condemned the country back in mid-March.

During that time, the organization’s head sought to temporarily suspend the country from the organization due to what he saw as gross violations of human rights and suppression of freedom of speech.

 This also does not include why many Venezuelans are out in the streets in opposition to Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian regime in the first place. They are out of food and medical supplies.

The previous oil boom that happened during the presidency of Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez, has largely been stymied with the costs of crude oil plummeting and the market flooded with oil as demands go down.

The profits earned from the oil allowed Venezuela to be the wealthiest country in the region at one point.

Many Latin American countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic rely on Venezuela for oil subsidies and that stalled any decision within the organization as to what should be done about the situation.

Back in late March, 14 member states, including the United States and Brazil, signed a declaration demanding that Venezuela promptly schedule elections, release political prisoners and recognize its constitution's separation of powers, among other measures.

The United States already imposes sanctions against Venezuela. In 2015, the Obama administration ordered sanctions against seven officials on the ground that they threatened U.S. national security.

In February, the Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuela's new vice president, Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of involvement in sending large drug shipments to the United States while serving as Venezuela's interior minister.

As for Maduro, his six-page letter details his reasoning behind wanting to withdraw from the Organization of American States.

In it, he claimed that the organization was a tool for imperialist gains.

Mainly, however, he used the words of Simon Bolivar and the constitution justifying the decision as necessary to maintain a free and independent Venezuela.



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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.
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Rainy season returns to affect air travel

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The advent of the rainy season interjects another variable into air travel.

Tourists arriving and leaving have been surprised by delays cause by volcano eruptions. Turrialba ash has halted flight operations at Juan Santamaría airport several times over the past two years. The dust from the Poás volcano that has just begun erupting generally goes to the west, but a change in winds could cause problems at the international airport, too.

Flight operations were halted Saturday for about 20 minutes at Juan Santamaría when a thunderstorm cell passed overhead. Members of the ground crew took shelter under roofs, and the departure of three aircraft were delayed.

A lightning strike can fry the electronics of an aircraft, and thunderstorms also generate freak winds.

Some Atlanta, Georgia-bound tourists faced problems with the delay because they were connecting with flights to New Orleans, Louisiana, and Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to the airport delay, the tourists faced crowds at U.S. immigration and customs in Atlanta.

Rain is normal every day of the rainy season, usually after noon. Saturday at 1 p.m. Atlanta flight left on time, but the lightning delayed a 2:15 p.m. flight because the storm swept in just as the ground crew was about to push back the aircraft.

Aircraft storm radar is useless on the ground because the signals are blocked by the terminal buildings. So pilots have to rely on information provided by other sources to determine the size of the storm and for how long it will be overhead and a danger. The normal path for storms coming from the west is over the Alajuela airport and along the southern part of the capital, mainly the Hatillos. Commercial jets can fly and land in rain as long as the storm does not generate lightning.


Man caught with $41,500 undeclared cash

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 22-year old Mexican national was arrested Saturday at Juan Santamaría airport when he attempted to bring in $41,500 of undeclared money into the country.

According to a report, officers of the airport police and Policía de Control de Drogas apparently noticed the suspect was obviously nervous when approaching security scanners. He was pulled aside and his luggage searched. Within one of the suitcases police said that they had found an enormous find of cash.

The Mexican citizen was apparently supposed to return to his country next Tuesday, police said. The Ministerio de Seguridad Pública claims that the suspect in custody has refused to give the reason why he had attempted to smuggle the cash through along with its origins.


162 artifacts seized in Guanacaste raid

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Authorities with the Judicial Investigating Organization seized over 162 archaeological pieces believed to be of pre-Columbian origins from a suspect’s house in Santa Cruz Friday morning.

The judiciary established an investigation that apparently included surveillance and a raid on the home of a 50-year old man where the objects were found, according to a report. Investigators believe that the suspect intended to sell these pieces, which have been valued by the judiciary’s experts as being worth more than 3.5 million colons, or $6,283.

Photos of the objects released by the judicial agents show mainly stone pieces with legs and flat top resembling miniature foot rests. The suspect remains in custody.



Border map
A.M. Costa Rica/Google Earth map      
Glenn Klima proposes a separate crossing using old rail line.

Our reader's opinion
Paso Canoas needs separate crossings


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have a suggestion regarding the border crossing in Canoas! It would involve a bit of cooperation with Panamà and most of the land involved is old United Fruit railroad right of way, which the government likely controls in one way or another. I can elaborate further.

My suggestion involves the creation of a separate crossing for all commercial cargo vehicles, thereby allowing the existing crossing and Aduana to remain as is for human crossing. Simply by removing the commercial trucks from the present traffic congestion would be a permanent and efficient solution to the insanity of the present border crossing congestion.

The red line would be a road built by Costa Rica, and it is all old railroad right-of-way, which some national entity likely owns. The green area would be a fenced compound purchased and constructed by Costa Rica, large enough to park say 100 trucks. This would be complete with the agricultural spray and livestock quarantine. In other words: a modern facility.

The blue line would be a road created by Panamá, as well as a marshaling yard to process vehicles. This would ease the traffic congestion at the existing crossing and only personal vehicles and buses would cross and use the existing Aduana

I choose the railroad route for several reasons, but primarily because of the likely ownership of this would be some agency within the national government. Also, the railroad was designed and constructed to accommodate steam locomotives so the ballast, or basic foundation for a two-lane roadway is already in existence. Another plus is that it is very straight for about 11 miles.

The marshaling or processing compound would have to be acquired from the present owners. And of course Panamá would have to agree and build similar facilities on their side of the border!

Glenn Klima
Golfito


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Costa Rica

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Love of cycling and cocoa creates unique chocolate-making process
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

What started as a love for cycling and cocoa ended up as a hobby. That hobby became a full time activity and a way of living for Andrés Ulate, an entrepreneur who founded Bicichocolate.

The Costa Rican-based business is a chocolate processing company that relies on leg-generated power machines known as bicimáquinas.
 
This Heredia-based company toasts and grinds raw cocoa seeds by using modified bicycles that take the need of electricity away. The special bicycles are also used to mix the resulting chocolate paste, which will become tablets or chocolate drink powder.

“My family owns a small property in Sarapiquí and every time I went there I would come back with a few cocoa seeds to sell,” Ulate said. “One day, a friend told me I would not get much from selling them alone and that I should look to provide added value by processing them a bit more.”

“By then, I got acquainted with the works of Carlos Marroquín, a Mayan native who created bicycle-based machines for different purposes and the idea was born,”added Ulate.

In Guatemala, Carlos Marroquín teaches to anyone interested how to adapt a bicycle to fulfill a specific need. He has created machines to pump water, launder clothing or shake fruit smoothies.
In the case of Ulate, he started his business with three of these machines.

The first one is a toaster machine with a special plate that spins at a regular speed. That’s where the seeds are placed while heated by a gas device.

His second machine is a grinder that helps him create black pure slick chocolate paste much faster than using a regular machine. Finally, Ulate also relies on a bici-shaker, which he uses to prepare cocoa-based drinks.

Andres Ulate
Bicichocolate photo
Founder Andrés Ulate examines some cocoa beans.

“Most of my products I sell at small craftsmanship fairs or special events where I am invited to show my idea however Heredia is still my best market,” he said.

“In my own ideal scenario I see my business growing by a combination of more machines and also the use of alternative power sources,” Ulate explained. “Sustainability is part of our identity and we need to keep that up.”

So far, Bicichocolate is engaged with obtaining more funding to expand its business, but they are not seeking partners.

Ulate’s wish is to keep the operation within family control, in order to maintain the charm of his brand.

“Well, I do eat my own chocolates every day. I’m not tired of it. I just love it,” he said. “I feel very proud of chocolate’s indigenous origins and its health benefits for the heart, mind and humor.”



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Study in Osa Peninsula gives new look at tropical forest carbon cycle
By the University of Colorado Boulder press staff

Tropical rainforests are often described as the lungs of the earth, able to essentially inhale carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and exhale oxygen in return. The faster they grow, the more they mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.

This role has made them a hot research topic, as scientists question what will happen to this vital carbon sink long-term as temperatures rise and rainfall increases.

Our findings fundamentally change a view of the tropical forest carbon cycle that has been published in textbooks and incorporated into models of future climate change for years.

Conventional wisdom has held that forest growth will dramatically slow with high levels of rainfall. But Boulder researchers this month turned that assumption on its head with an unprecedented review of data from 150 forests that concluded just the opposite.

“Our data suggest that, as large-scale climate patterns shift in the tropics, and some places get wetter and warmer, forests will accelerate their growth, which is good for taking carbon out of the atmosphere,” said Philip Taylor, a research associate with the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “In some ways, this is a good-news story, because we can expect greater CO2 uptake in tropical regions where rainfall is expected to increase. But there are a lot of caveats.”

Ecologists have long thought that forest growth follows a hump-shaped curve when it comes to precipitation: To a point, more rainfall leads to more growth. But after about 8 feet per year, it was assumed too much water can waterlog the ecosystem and slow the growth rate of forests. While working in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, Taylor began to question this assumption.

“Here we were in a place that got 16 feet of rain per year, and it was one of the most productive and carbon-rich forests on Earth. It clearly broke from the traditional line of thinking,” he said.

Intrigued, Taylor spent four years synthesizing data on temperature, rainfall, tree growth and soil composition from rainforests in 42 countries, compiling what he believes is the largest pan-tropical database to date.

The study, published recently in the journal “Ecology Letters,” found that cooler forests below 68 degrees Fahrenheit on average, which make up only about 5 percent of the tropical forest biome, seemed to follow the expected hump-shaped curve. But warmer forests, which are in the majority, did not.

“The old model was formed with a lack of data from warm tropical forests,” said Taylor, who describes such remote, often uninhabited forests as the final frontiers of scientific exploration.

“It turns out that in the big tropical forests that do the vast majority of the breathing the situation is flipped. Instead of water slowing growth down, it accelerates it."
Phillip Taylor
University of Colorado photo  
Phillip Taylor, lead author, climbs tree in Osa Peninsula.

Taylor cautioned this does not mean climate change won’t negatively impact tropical forests at all.

In the short term, research has shown, droughts in the Amazon Basin have already led to widespread plant death and a 30 percent decrease in carbon accumulation in the past decade.


“A lot of climate change is happening at a pace far quicker than what our study speaks to,” he says. “Our study speaks to what we can expect forests to do over hundreds of years.”

Because the carbon cycle is complex, with forests also releasing carbon into the atmosphere as plants die, it’s still impossible to say what the net impact of a wetter climate might mean for the forest’s ability to sequester carbon, said senior author Alan Townsend, a professor of environmental studies.

“The implications of the change still need to be worked out, but what we can say is that the forest responds to changes in rainfall quite differently than what has been a common assumption for a long time,” said Townsend.

Going forward, the authors hope the findings will set the record straight for educators and scientists. “Our findings fundamentally change a view of the tropical forest carbon cycle that has been published in textbooks and incorporated into models of future climate change for years,” said Taylor.



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Costa Rica MOBILE 011-506-8849-0081
Skype: costarisa - E-mail: christopher@costaricabooks.com

All tours led by Christopher Howard
Costa Rica’s most read relocation author
See www.liveincostarica.com for details and itineraries
9168-3/17/17

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

Visit our Web site at:  www.HiddenGardenArt.com
Contact us by email: info@HiddenGardenArt.com  
Find us on Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter,
Moon Travel Guides & Frommer's

Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel.  8386-6872 / 2667-0592; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073
International shipping available.
9140-5/1/17

George Lundquist header

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

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!
HERE!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder. lundquistgeorge@gmail.com

George Lundquist

experience Costa Rica
Costa Rica Travel In Paradise Group Tours

Looking for easy booking process for a smooth Costa Rica trip?   We customize wonderful trips to Costa Rica.  We offer you our wealth of knowledge for a great experience . . . a trip of a lifetime!!!

* FAMILY VACATIONS. Our travels take into account the different ages of your family enjoy the most from your Family vacations. Click HERE!

* GROUP TOURS. Whether for a church group, couple of friends, Scout troop or a family group. We provide excellent quality service in your Group Tours. Click HERE!

* EDUCATIONAL TOURS. Tours for universities to schools to elementary schools. We have professionals to help you discover the secrets of Costa Rica in a fun way. Costa Rica Educational Tours. Click HERE!

* GUIDED TOURS. General holiday planning giving you the best value for your investment Costa Rica vacation Packages. Click HERE!

Contact us: 
Dial toll FREE from USA or Canada:  1.800.901.0114
CR local phone:  +506-2274-3231
Cells:  +506-8380-5919  and +506-8302-5877
Email:  info@travelinparadisecr.com
Web:  www.travelinparadisecr.com
8995-4/17/17

Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom



Need a book about Costa Rica?


Check out our special selections available at Amazon logo

HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Business
wanted
Real estate wanted

Real estate-related services (paid category)

COSTA RICA SOLAR
solar one

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

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

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

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
Solar logo
CALL TODAY!
Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398
OUR EMAIL:
 andrefurlong@gmail.com
Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com
VISIT OUR WEB:
www.crsolar.net 
9118-6/26/17

Real estate rentals (paid category)


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


Tropical Homes logo
Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for  your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at www.tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or contact us at rentals@tropicalhomesofcostarica.com or call at (506) 2654-5442
9055-2/23/17

Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on SellMyTimeshareNow.com at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
Timeshare
1- to 3-bedroom ocean and garden view timeshares available and most offer air conditioning, cable TV, fully equipped kitchens, and relaxing hammocks on private balconies. Enjoy the unique combination of seclusion and convenience as all resorts listed on our site are close to popular Costa Rican attractions and downtown 
centers, but are surrounded in lush, tropical forest. Villas are also available for sale in our inventory, so you can enjoy yearly vacations to this mesmerizing rainforest paradise. Please visit our rental inventory HERE!  or call us toll free at 877-815-4227, International: 603-516-0200.  Email: info@sellmytimesharenow.com
9049-7/31/17







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Opinion is HERE!   Classifieds are HERE!  Plus useful links
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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
Published Monday, May 1, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 85
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
U.S. warns vaccine supply
for yellow fever will run out


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. health officials said the United States will run out of the vaccine for yellow fever as early as next month, and travelers who need a shot might have to wait.

Officials say a manufacturing problem has created a shortage of the only version of the vaccine licensed in the United States.

The vaccine is recommended for travelers to certain parts of South America and Africa, with more than a dozen countries requiring proof of vaccination in order to enter.

The disease was eradicated in the United States more than 100 years ago, and the vaccine is not a part of routine inoculations. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say they are bringing in another vaccine that is used in other countries to try to lessen the shortage. However, they say it will only be available in about 250 of the 4,000 U.S. clinics that administer the shot.

Health officials are urging travelers to plan ahead, saying it will likely take longer to get the vaccine and people might need to travel farther to get it.

Yellow fever can cause jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, internal bleeding and organ failure. Most people improve after more mild symptoms of fever and chills, however, about 15 percent of infected people become seriously ill.

The virus is spread by the same mosquito that transmits the zika virus and other tropical diseases. Officials say there has recently been a global shortage of the vaccine.



Fernando Villavicencio
Voice of America photo     
Fernando Villavicencio speaking on YouTube.

Ecuadorian journalist faces
tough sentence for defaming

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Fernando Villavicencio knows all too well the risks confronting journalists who expose information that others want to suppress.

The Ecuadoran journalist, convicted of defaming President Rafael Correa under the country’s harsh communications law, has spent parts of the past few years in hiding rather than submit to prison.

He already has paid nearly $50,000 in fines. He faces current charges, and a pretrial detention order, for allegedly disseminating private emails of Correa and another official. He and his family have faced long separations, as well as threats of physical harm.

“The government cannot afford to let my voice be free,” he said last month, speaking from an undisclosed location via a Skype audio connection.

Last week, the 52-year-old author and founder of the FOCUS Ecuador news website applied for political asylum in Lima, Peru, fearing he would not get a fair trial in the current case. His website was suspended last month.

The fact that Villavicencio is seeking asylum is a clear reflection of Ecuador’s systematic persecution of critics, Carlos Lauría, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ senior program coordinator for the Americas, said in a statement last week.

The committee encouraged Perú to grant the pending request and urged “Ecuadoran authorities to drop all charges against Villavicencio immediately and allow him to return home without fear for his freedom to work as a journalist.”

Press freedom in Ecuador has been eroding, according to reports released this week by the committee and another watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders. The group scored Ecuador a 105 in declining order among 180 countries. Freedom House, a U.S. government-subsidized non-government organization that monitors human rights records, last year bluntly described Ecuador’s media environment as not free. Its new report is due out Friday.

Since Correa took office in 2007, Ecuador has experienced practically a decade of incessant persecution of police, media, judicial and even economic, Villavicencio said.

Ecuadoran authorities did not respond to several requests for comment on Villavicencio’s case.

Soon after Correa became president, the U.S.-educated economist and former Ecuadoran finance minister labeled much of his country’s foreign debt as illegitimate. The OPEC country defaulted on its loans in 2008, setting the stage for later financial dependence on and oil deals with China.

Correa also increased public spending, reducing poverty levels from 38 percent in 2006 to below 23 percent in 2014, according to the World Bank report. But, as the BBC noted in a profile, the socialist castigated independent media as his greatest enemy and an impediment to his reforms.

Villavicencio first tangled with Correa in 2010 while serving as an aide to an opposition legislator, the Committee to Protect Journalists explained in a 2014 profile. The president, detained at a police hospital during a police revolt, summoned army troops who killed at least five people. Villavicencio and the lawmaker demanded investigating Correa for perpetrating crimes against humanity.

No probe took place. But Correa filed a defamation suit that eventually yielded prison terms and fines for Correa, the lawmaker and a third man. Villavicencio was given 18 months and ordered to pay $47,000.

His wife, Ms. Sárauz, said she raised $10,000 of the amount through crowdsourcing, then borrowed the rest from friends. Meanwhile, Villavicencio went on the run, hiding out with an Amazon tribe before shifting among a series of safe houses to elude authorities.

And he wrote. Villavicencio, who once worked for the national oil firm EP Petroecuador, used his insider knowledge to investigate corruption and environmental degradation linked to the industry. That was the focus of “Ecuador: Made in China,” a 2013 book.

In 2013, the country adopted a communications law that is one of the most regressive that has been promulgated not only in Ecuador but in the Americas in the last decade, Lauría said.

As the Committee explained, Villavicencio then riled up authorities over an article he co-wrote criticizing the government’s legal wrangling with the U.S.-based oil company Chevron. The writers were accused of illegally obtaining and disseminating government officials’ personal emails.

Villavicencio traveled to Washington in 2014 to get a protective order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Ecuador’s government said it would not recognize the measure.

The latest of Villavicencio’s nine books, called “The Oil Holiday,” published in March, contends that intermediaries in Venezuela’s oil deals with China profit at the public’s expense.

Villavicencio, who had considered running for an assembly seat last fall, left Ecuador for Perú shortly after the election.

He sees Ecuador headed down the same dangerous path as Venezuela, said his homeland struggles with corruption, debt and a lack of government transparency.

This week, Ecuador’s government said it would fine seven news organizations for not reprinting an Argentine story that accused Lasso of tax evasion, which is a charge he denied. The government later backed off imposing fines.


Last-minute cancellation
maroons concert attendees


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Promoters of a planned exclusive music festival on a small island in the Bahamas cancelled the event at the last minute Friday after many attendees had already arrived and paid thousands of dollars for tickets.

“Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests,” said a statement announcing the event’s cancellation.

Organizers of the Fyre Festival promoted it as a once-in-a-lifetime musical event on a remote island once owned by Pablo Escobar, the infamous Colombian drug lord.

Revelers paid between $450 and $12,000 for tickets to the two-weekend festival and were expecting to arrive and find sun and luxury. When the first guests reached the island Thursday, though, they found a festival site in disarray and none of the things that were promised.

Social media posts from people on the island showed the luxury accommodations they paid for were actually small tents, some of which were still in boxes. The gourmet catering promised by organizers turned out to be literally bread, cheese, and salad with dressing, one person wrote.

In a statement released Friday, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said it was extremely disappointed at the way organizers handled the event and said it had representatives at the festival site assisting people as they try and get home.

Organizers said they were trying to arrange charter flights to Miami for people that had already arrived on the island and officials in the Bahamas cancelled all inbound flights to the island.


Environmental groups march
on hundreds of U.S. cities


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Thousands of environmental activists marched in the U.S. capital Saturday, and in about 300 other cities across the country, to try to draw support for climate-related causes.

The People's Climate March was meant to coincide with President Donald Trump's 100th day in office, according to its organizers, who have condemned what they see as the administration's lack of concern for environmental issues. They said they objected to Trump's rollback of restrictions on mining, oil drilling and greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants, among other things.

"The Trump administration's policies are a catastrophe for our climate and communities, especially low-income and communities of color, who are on the front lines of this crisis," the People's Climate Movement, a collection of about 50 liberal activist groups, said in a statement.

Protesters marched from the Capitol to the White House, where they held a rally. About 300 sister marches or rallies were held in cities from Seattle to Boston. In Washington, marchers braved temperatures in the 90s, while in Denver, it snowed on several hundred activists who had gathered.

The partner organizations that made up the event's steering committee consisted mainly of environmental groups but included several trade unions and anti-war and minority advocacy groups.

The presence of so many non-climate-related sponsoring organizations was reflected in the group's platform, which listed issues the activists said they found important but didn't feel were being adequately addressed by the Trump administration.

The platform blended the problems organizers said were created by climate change with economic and social justice issues, and it called for such changes as increasing the national minimum wage to $15 an hour and fighting the corporate trade-induced global race to the bottom.

A similar event last weekend saw thousands of activists show up in the nation's capital for the March for Science to protest what they said were denials of scientific truths by the Trump administration. About 600 rallies were held around the world as well.

The national demonstrations on Saturday occurred a day after the Environmental Protection Agency announced it was updating its website to reflect the views of the Trump administration. It then removed several pages from former President Barack Obama's administration that explained the science behind climate change.

The vast majority of scientists who study the climate say the planet is unequivocally warming, and that it is extremely likely the change is predominantly caused by humans.



Trump White House defends
invite to Rodrigo Duterte


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The White House on Sunday defended President Donald Trump's invitation to his Philippine counterpart to visit Washington, saying the need to fortify an Asian alliance against North Korea's growing military threat outweighed concerns about President Rodrigo Duterte's deadly domestic crackdown on drug trafficking.

“Whether they're good folks or bad folks, people we wish would do better in their country, doesn't matter. We've got to be on the same page," said White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in an interview with ABC news.

Priebus' comments came a day after the White House announced the invitation, and just hours after a Philippine presidential spokesman said Trump told Duterte by phone that he was interested in developing a warm, working relationship.

A White House statement called Saturday's call between the two leaders very friendly. It made no mention of the international controversy around Duterte's widely condemned war on drug trafficking, a violent initiative that has drawn the ire of the United Nations and most Western heads of state.

Last year, then-U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned Duterte's support for the extra-judicial killings, calling them a breach of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Since taking office last year, analysts say Duterte's drug war has led to more than 6,000 deaths, about one-third of them in police raids and the remaining by vigilantes.

At one point late last year, Duterte boasted to British media that he had personally killed three suspects while he was mayor of the southern city of Davao.

Saturday's presidential phone call also coincided with another North Korean ballistic missile test north of Pyongyang. U.S. and South Korean analysts say the test failed, with the missile falling, without causing harm, into the Sea of Japan.

Washington has responded to recent North Korean missile activity by ordering the deployment of a sophisticated anti-missile system to ally South Korea. President Trump also has ordered the deployment of a flotilla of warships.

Pyongyang conducted two unauthorized nuclear test explosions last year and about two dozen rocket launches in a years-long push to expand its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.



More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
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Real estate for sale (paid category)


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)

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A1 MASTER BUILDERS COSTA RICA
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9203-4/19/2018

COSTA RICA SOLAR
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VISIT OUR WEB:
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9177-6/19/16



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Published Monday, May 1, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 85
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Follow the trimming trucks to get ready-to-use top dressing

Here’s a tip for all you gardeners. Follow those ICE branch trimming trucks!

Back in the States, getting top dressing and soil amendments was as easy as heading to the local Home Depot or Lowes garden section, grabbing a cart, and loading up bags of whatever you needed. Not so in Costa Rica.

We do have a local macadamia nut farm and they occasionally have bagged nut shells for sale to use as a top dressing. We also have places to buy rice husks although the closest is almost an hour away and they are great to amend heavy soils.


Victoria Torley
 But convenient? Not so much. And not cheap either. We once found a half kilo of rice husks at a store similar to Home Depot over in San José. A half kilo for about 1500 colons. I would rather drive the hour and load up on huge sacks for 1000 colons. Ah well, back to the ICE trucks.

I was helping a friend with measurements on her new home when I wandered out into the driveway. That’s when I spotted it: a pile of wood chips! And not just one pile, there were several. Alright, you have to be hungry for mulch and top dressing to start waxing poetic about a pile of chips, but I was starving.


ICE, it turns out, doesn’t just trim trees back from its poles and wires, it brings in great big chippers to turn them from branches to chips. And then what? Then it just dumps the chips on the ground. Oh the waste. Gardeners all over the country hungry for wood chips and ICE just dumps them.

It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is. Evidently, no one in management has heard of “waste not, want not” and I am not going to tell them because then I would have nothing for my yard.

Remember, I have a big yard and big gardens. So far, I estimate that my gardener and I have loaded and brought home four cubic meters of wood chips. Enough for all the vegetable gardens and a start on the zig-zag garden. With those chips and some nice cow manure, we will make short work of those gardens and the rainbow gardens as well. Then I think we will stockpile the rest of the chips and let them mature. Nothing like mature well-rotted wood chips to mix with some lime and nasty dirt. Just you wait until we are finished with it all. Ahhhhh.

So, I found my secret stash just by accident. As for you, my fellow gardener, you are going to have to follow those ICE trucks around. Maybe, if you are really lucky, they will be putting them in a dump truck instead of just dumping them on the ground. Then you can just shout: “Follow me!” and can get them to dump them on your driveway.


Pitanga plant
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

Plant for the Week

Makes the mouth water just looking at the pitanga or Surinam Cherry. The deep red ones are fully ripe and ready to pick. This is a lovely tree of about 6 to 8 meters that makes a fine addition to the orchard. The fruit is eaten raw, although it is a bit sour, or pitted and cooked with sugar to serve over desserts. Plant it full sun and enjoy the harvest.



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From page 7:

Collected waste gains $1.6 million for ICE


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The waste collected from scrapped copper, cable, batteries, metal and other electronic parts yielded about $1.6 million in colons this past year to the Costa Rican electricity institute.

According to officials from the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, these materials are what is left of the works and projects carried out by the group. The institute has eight scrap centers where the inventory of pitched material is auctioned off. Environmental sustainability and responsible management of what the organization defines as corporate waste are the ideas in mind for the project.

This year, the institute’s scrap centers plan to carry out four auctions through the Sistema Integrado de Compras Pública Mer-link. There are centers in Libera, Coco, Paraíso, Siquirres, and Río Seco de Parrita among others. More information can be found on the institute’s website.