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(506) 2223-1327           Published Monday, May 2, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 85             E-mail us
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New system provides those legal documents online
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

There is nothing more frustrating in Costa Rica than to go to a bank, government agency or some store for a company purchase and the clerk asks: “Do you have a personería jurídica?

The personería juridical is a legal document used in most Latin American countries to prove legal capacity or legal representation, mostly for companies, but there are certificaciones de poder,  certifications of power — that are basically the same thing.

In the past, the only way to get one of these documents was to go to an attorney and pay him or her around $20. The attorney would print one on their fancy legal paper.  A couple of years ago, the Registro Nacional allowed people to go directly to its offices and get a similar document for around 1,300 colons or $2.75 at the current exchange rate.  A big difference from $20.

However, most people hate standing in the lines at the Registro Nacional and end up sending a messenger or using a messenger service. In the end this turns out costing about the same.
Now there is something new.  And, most importantly it works, and it works great.  The Registro Nacional has started something called the Registro Nacional Digital – the digital national registry.  

Amazing, the digital system does work and it is easy to use if one can use a computer.
Here is the rundown for anyone needing a personería juridica and a multitude of other documents provided by the system:

Direct your browser here (http://www.rnpdigital.go.cr).  In the middle of the page to on the right there is a box that states “Obtenga Certificaciones Digitales 24 horas del dia 7 dias a la semana.” This translates to “Get Digital Certifications 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”

Click on that box.  On the top left there is a box that states “Registrarse por primera vez.” This translates into “Register for the first time.”  The registration is a breeze.  One is asked for only basic information, first name, last name, telephone number, email and a password.  Once one registers, the system will send an email almost instantly. The test registration email for this article took 15 seconds to arrive.

There it is, no more fees to lawyers or long lines at the Registro Nacional.  One can get mercantile and property information, personería juridicas, and believe it or not even catastros plat maps.
The system uses a very basic cart layout.  The price for most documents is 2,500 colons plus tax or 2,798.50 which translates into $5.65 at today’s exchange rate.  Some items are a bit more expensive.  Compared to paying a lawyer or sending a messenger to get the documents one needs at the Registro National, the system is convenient and saves money.

The system can be used for more than one item at a time, too.  All payments are done by credit
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card.  The shopping cart keeps a running total of purchases and does the math

Documents obtained at the Registro Nacional Digital are good for 15 days.  They are provided in the worldwide PDF (portable document format) file system.  Once the document is downloaded onto a computer, it is also sent to the email of record so it can be used over and over again. 

This means the same document can be used for a variety of business without buying it again during the 15 days.  This in itself is a real money saver.

The recipient can verify the document.  The document provided by the Registro Nacional Digital has a key-code number that looks something like this “RNPDIGITAL- 123456-2011.” 

Anyone questioning the document can access the same Web site and go to the section on the top right hand side of the page and click on “verificación de certificaciones" - vertification of certifications.  The person questioning the document puts in the key-code number and the same exact document appears.

The world is turning quickly into a digital and live in the cloud world.  Costa Rica is keeping up.  The country is now also working hard on a new system called the Poder Judicial Digital, the digital judicial power.  In a preliminary look, the system looks almost as good as the Registro Nacional Digital. 

All this progress in Costa Rica is a bit frightening.  It seems to be working.  There is still one area that needs some serious help, the tax department.  That Web site is still cryptic and does not work well most of the time.  Their system to file tax returns using EDDI still does not work with Windows 7.

Garland M. Baker is a 39-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at info@crexpertise.com.  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at http://crexpertise.info, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2004-2011, use without permission prohibited.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 2, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 85

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Our readers opinions
ProTur member clarifies
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Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
 
There is NO ONE advocating the removal, reduction or change of the 10 percent service charge or automatic tip required by law in Costa Rica.
 
What many entities, including ProTur are talking about is that the government recently decided to tax that 10 per cent as income to the waiter or waitress. That was opposed by many groups especially the Ministerio de Trabajo. However, it is currently in the process of implementation, the income tax being imposed for the employer to pay on the tips of waitresses and waiters.
 
We are totally in favor of the 10 percent service charge. We all know our employees need it, deserve it and should have it. We are opposed to the making of this "tax"for service to be doubly taxed to the employer, which only increases our costs to offer good service.
 
No one wants to pay tax on a tax. The constitution in Costa Rica DOES NOT have a law that prevents double taxation, and we are frequently taxed on taxes and more taxes. Some services are taxed three or four times. We are simply trying to keep from raising prices to our customers who already are charged a 13 percent sales tax and a 10 per cent service charge.
 
I hope people understand the difference. There is no one advocating that the 10 per cent service charge be removed. We are advocating that the government NOT impose another tax on the same tax.
 
Robbie Felix
Member ProTur
Manuel Antonio


ProTur may help change
government-tourism ties


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My husband attended the meeting of Protur at the Gran Hotel April 27, which has been publicized in your newspaper several times.

He took the marketing director and service director of Toyota Rental Car to this meeting as our company orbitcostarica.com has had a partnership with Toyota for 15 years in the tourism area.

They listened for several hours to the objectives of ProTur and came away with the opinion that the majority of the time was spent by ProTur asking for financial forgiveness or special treatment from the government and others. Outside experts may consider many of the desired goals of this group do not meet constitutional requirements, but this is best answered by lawyers versed in the Sala IV.

Your readers can decide for themselves reading your previous articles.

What was very clear, however, was the small hotel industry insists it is in trouble using the word “emergency.” What was not clearly expressed was why this came to pass and a realistic method to change the vista for the future. Yes, everyone knows the dollar decline vs the colon has hurt hotels in this case big and small ones both. As a certified appraiser, I am constantly aware of the fact that incomes are usually in dollars and expenses are in colons when I am using a cash flow method to value commercial property. It is called a rock and a hard place.

This group may be just the right catalyst to change the way the government interacts with tourism since for many years a large number of tourism operators have not been happy with the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (official tourism board). Our opinion is that this group would make a lot more progress concentrating on the demand side of the equation and coming up with concrete ideas to increase the marketplace so they can pay their bills.

People we know for many years in tourism have expressed the same opinion; they just do not believe the government will act fast enough in any financial way to help the tourism industry.

As we have written in other articles for amcostarica.com, the real growth in our country in recent times has been the huge increases in call centers, accounting centers, service centers.

When one of the major accounting firms in the U. S. shifts a highly paid auditor from the U.S. headquarters of one of the Fortune 500 to the forum, this makes up for some of that lost hotel revenue. Frankly, since we just rented an upscale condo to this very person. I expect he and his wife will spend enough money to alleviate some of the decrease in tourism.

This growth however is taking place in the Central Valley and does not help rural areas. ProTur used a phrase called macroeconomic and that is really what our country needs to understand to help lift all of us up on a more equal basis.  ProTur deserves a serious hearing, so I hope the media will listen.
Angela Jiménez Rocha
Licensed architect & appraiser
Escazú


 
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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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 2, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 85
Latigo K-9

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Costa Rica's Curpo de Bomberos line up for a tribute at the U.S. Embassy after terrorism attacks
Bin Laden's death rekindles memories of Sept. 11 here
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Nearly 10 years ago when Muslim terrorists struck the United States, most U.S. expats in Costa Rica felt impotent. The nation was under attack, and the best citizens here could do was watch the tragedy unfold via television.

The situation became worse. Air flights were grounded. No tourists arrived and those here were trapped for six days. Canada also grounded flights and beefed up security.
Foreign residents and Costa Ricans began to get feedback from loved ones and friends who were in New York. Some were just a few blocks from the twin towers.

Costa Rican police officials became nervous. One motorcyclist who showed up at Banco Nacional in La Sabana dressed in camouflage was detained briefly and was confronted by aggressive police questioning.

The Cuerpo de Bomberos lined up in force at the U.S. Embassy and paid an emotional tribute to the United States and the New York City firemen who died at the twin towers. Police also conducted an honorary review at the embassy.

There were prayer gatherings, and the small Muslim community went public to give its support. Then-president
Miguel Ángel Rodríguez condemned the terrorist attacks in his Independence Day speech four days later at Parque Nacional.

Now nearly 10 years later, Costa Rica has changed, in part due to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Security at the nation's international airports have been tightened. The U.S. Embassy is peopled with staffers who have spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the Marines there wear medals awarded for their bravery in the two Middle Eastern wars.

A.M. Costa Rica has a small but steady readership of U.S. servicemen in Bagdad and Kabul.

There is continual concern about infiltration by Muslim terrorists and Iranian agents into adjacent countries and perhaps Costa Rica itself.

The death of the man who engineered the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism calls up memories of the events nearly 10 years ago. Osama bin Laden was 54 when he died from fire by  U.S. Navy SEALS Sunday in Pakistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama made the announcement about 9:30 p.m. Costa Rican time on live television.  Obama said bin Laden, the al-Qaida figurehead, was not a Muslim leader, but a "mass murderer of Muslims."


Legislative meltdown keeps president from giving speech
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asamblea Legislativa collapsed Sunday to such an extent that President Laura Chinchilla was unable to give her annual state of the state speech.

The 57 lawmakers were supposed to vote in a morning session to pick leaders for the coming years.  Opposition parties in the legislature had formed a pact that would give 31 votes to Juan Carlos Mendoza and make him president of the assembly. Just 29 voters were needed.

Leaders of the opposition appeared to have concerns that members of their parties would not vote the way they had promised. So the opposition leaders sought a vote that was witnessed by their assistants and with pens of various colors that would identify the votes by party.

Annie Saborío was acting president because Luis Gerardo Villanueva of the Partido Liberación Nacional was a candidate. She sought a secret ballot with each lawmaker writing down the name of his or her choice while seated alone at their desks.

Eventually 30 members of the opposition parties bolted and walked out of the room. One man who had promised Mendoza his vote did not make the meeting due to illness. Although the opposition party members sought to break the quorum, Ms. Saborio declared that the voting already was in progress. The votes of the 30 were counted as null votes and eventually applied to the Villanueva total. So he was declared re-elected unanimously.

But at 1 p.m. after getting a message from Ms. Chinchilla, Villanueva resigned and said another election was warranted.
Meanwhile, on the streets the May 1 workers parade was in progress. Via cell telephones and other methods the marchers obtained another focus. They showed up at the legislative complex demanding Villanueva resign.

The crowd of union members was a friendly audience for opposition party members who gave impromptu speeches outside the legislative building.

At 6 p.m. Liberación lawmakers and two supporters from evangelical parties gathered and gave lengthy statements against the opposition party members who did not show up. Lawmakers Fabio Molino called the opposition legislative leaders fascists who could not endure a secret ballot.

Liberación was widely believed to have made agreements with some on the opposition side that would have won Villanueva the presidency of the assembly. Opposition leaders were seen as seeking to oversee the voting to enforce the agreement they had made to back Mendoza.

By this time, Casa Presidencial already was taking steps to keep foreign ambassadors and other special guests from showing up for the Chinchilla speech.

Shortly after 6 p.m. Casa Presidencial sent a message that Ms. Chinchilla had deposited a copy of her speech with the legislature so as to comply with a constitutional provision that she make a report each May 1.

The message said that the crisis in the legislature prevented her from doing so.

Lawmakers will continue to meet today to engineer a vote on the leadership.


Ms. Chinchilla broadens her definition of security
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

When Laura Chinchilla ran for president, a major thrust of her campaign was security, which most interpreted as fighting crime.

However, in a speech prepared but not delivered at the end of her first year in office, the president has expanded greatly that theme to include even global warming.

She now defines security in a number of ways and outlined them in the speech titled "We are constructing a secure country"

She detailed her administration's achievements in social security and well being, economic security, environmental security and sustainable development, as well as citizen security.

Said the president:

Never before as now has the word insecurity defined our life together: Insecurity of the laborer before a job market
each time more demanding, insecurity of investors before an unpredictable economy, the insecurity of the young before an uncertain future. . . insecurity for agriculture and all the inhabitants before the threats of climate change, insecurity of our families in the face of losses to crime and violence.

The president also put in a plug for her tax proposals, but added that she is flexible and open to new ideas. Her 14 percent value added tax has not found a lot of support in the legislature.

Ms. Chinchilla said that her administration is improving the collection of taxes and the control of tax evasion. The tax department is in the process of identifying thousands of persons who have not registered as taxpayers and tax officials are putting a least 1,000 homes on the list for the luxury tax, she said. In addition, she said that tax officials were reviewing the value of 250,000 properties with the possibility of collecting more transfer tax.

Costa Ricans typically undervalue real estate drastically to avoid paying the transfer tax.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 2, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 85


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Armed robbery suspect dies in shootout in San José

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man with a record as an armed robber died in a shootout Saturday, and a second man, believed to be a bodyguard, suffered a bullet wound to the back.

The incident took place in San José as three men in a vehicle tried to hold up two men in another car. Dead was a man identified with the last names of Hernández Herrera, said the Fuerza Pública. He died a few minutes after reaching a hospital, and police confiscated a 9-mm. pistol from him.

Based on information from witnesses, police were able to intercept a vehicle nearby and detain two men, including one that carried another 9-mm. pistol, police said.
At the shooting scene police located an injured man who also carried a 9-mm. pistol. He told attendants on his way to the hospital that he fired when gunmen tried to stick up his boss.

Police also located a second vehicle, probably the one belonging to the victims, in which they found $20,000 in cash.

The Judicial Investigating Organization will have the job of sorting out what took place as it investigates the shooting.

In an unrelated weekend case, Fuerza Pública officers detained two men on a motorcycle after a chase. The men, residents of Barrio Cuba, are suspects of a series of street robberies. Police said they confiscated a .22-caliber pistol.



German tourist leaves bite mark as evidence of robbery

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A German tourist was the victim of a robbery in Puerto Viejo Friday, but she managed to mark her assailant by bitting him on the hand, said police.

Police said the man grabbed the woman around the neck in a hold that is called a candado chino that frequently causes unconsciousness. Police said the woman surrendered a small amount of money but that the man grabbed the woman's purse. In the struggle she fell to the ground crying for help.
That is when the man tried to quiet her by placing his hand over her mouth. Police said the woman bit him and left a mark before he fled with a camera.

A short time later police officers were questioning a man who happened to have a bite mark on his hand.

After they received word of the robbery, they said they quickly found the man again and detained him.

A judge in BriBri imposed three months of preventative detention on the man.



Former Caja chief, twice convicted, will be back in court

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The former executive president of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social is going on trial again.

The man is Eliseo Vargas García, who was a co-defendant with Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier in a kickback trial involving hospital equipment. He got five years. Then he got two years last week as a co-defendant with former president Miguel Ángel Rodríguez. Both convictions are under appeal.
Friday the Juzgado Penal de Hacienda ordered to trial a third series of allegations against Vargas and an associate with the last names of Soto Pacheco.

Prosecutors allege that Vargas named Soto as an advisor but the man never worked between 2002 and 2004 but received a salary from public funds anyway, according to the Poder Judicial.

The session Friday was a preliminary hearing to determine if a full trial was warranted.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 2, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 85

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Leftist party making gains
in Canadian opinion polls


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Canadians will cast ballots Monday in a national election, and what started out as a lackluster five-week campaign has turned into something unexpected for one of Canada's opposition parties.

In suburban Vancouver, more than 2,000 supporters of the New Democratic Party overflow a film studio in a setting similar to a rock concert. Party Leader Jack Layton is now capturing the headlines and finding support in opinion polls that were unfathomable just a few weeks ago.

Going into this election campaign, the New Democrats were the fourth place political party in Canada's House of Commons. Now, an unprecedented surge of support in recent opinion polls puts them within reach of the governing Conservatives.

It is a surprising turn in this election, as the NDP, which is on the left wing of the political spectrum, has never been in second place or in any position to lead a possible coalition government.

Canada follows the British parliamentary system, where voters elect a local member of Parliament. The party with the most elected members usually forms a government and that party leader becomes prime minister.

Going into this election, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper held the largest number of seats, but not a majority in the 308-seat house.

The Liberals, led by former Harvard University professor Michael Ignatieff, started out firmly in second place as Canada’s main opposition party, but have since dropped well behind the NDP.

Speaking at the campaign event, Layton says Canadians have historically only had two choices, the Conservatives or Liberals.  He says a vote for the NDP will amount to significant change in the way Canada is governed.

"…[F]or far too long, leaders have told you it has to be this way. That there is no other alternative. That this is the best you can do. That you have no choice for real change. Well, in this election Canadians are saying, that’s wrong.  We do have a choice, we can make change.  In fact, that it is time for change.

Since the start of the campaign, most polls and political watchers have predicted the Conservatives to win the most seats, but not a majority. However, even if the NDP comes in second, they could join forces with other opposition parties and replace the Conservatives, who have been in power since January of 2006.

In a campaign rally in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto, Conservative leader and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a crowd of supporters the choice is now between Jack Layton’s NDP and his party.

Harper says for Canada’s economic recovery to continue, he needs to be elected with a majority government.

"This is a campaign for the future of the country that we love. A campaign that will determine whether Canada moves forward, or Canada slides back. Friends, today you know, the world knows, Canada is moving forward. We have been through some difficult and challenging times, and some challenges remain. But friends, this country is emerging from the global recession in a position that is an economic engine of the world."

Harper says another minority government could quickly lead to another election, or an unstable coalition government led by the NDP and other opposition parties.

He says this would include the Bloc Quebecois Party, which only runs candidates in Quebec, and wants that province to separate from the rest of Canada and become an independent country.

This is Canada’s fourth election in seven years.

Seminar planned on eating well

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tiffany Pollard, described as a whole foods chef and Chinese medicine practitioner will give a one-day seminar May 14 on "Eating for Evolution: Achieving and Maintaining Optimal Weight"

Ms. Pollard operates a health and wellness center, Synergy Wellness Center, in Kirkland, Washington. She has been invited to Costa Rica by some residents here. The seminar will be at a home in Trejos Montealegre, Escazú.

More information is available at 2228-3232 or 2228-2590 or at http://www.mindfitness-cr.com
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 2, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 85

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Latin American news
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Tamarindo man facing
pot-growing allegation


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 38-year-old U.S. citizen and Tamarindo resident has been detained in an investigation of marijuana cultivation.

The man was identified by the Poder Judicial with the last name of Francesco. He was detained after Judicial Investigating Organization agents conducted raids on his home and on a home he rented in El Llano de Santa Cruz.

The El Llano property had two air conditioned rooms where some 107 pots contained marijuna plants, judicial police said. The rooms also has a hydroponic system for the plants, said agents.

Jacó chamber providing
bikes and radios for police

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Security Commission of the Central Pacific chamber of Commerce is providing Fuerza Pública, the tourism police and the Jacó municipal police with eight bicycles and six radios.

The commission was formed recently of chamber members and representatives of the local police agencies. The goal is to improve the safety of the Cantón de Garabito.

Four Latin countries
forming new trade bloc


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have signed an agreement aimed at creating one of the biggest trading blocs in Latin America.

Chilean President Alan Garcia hosted Mexico's Felipe Calderón, Sebastian Pinera of Chile and Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos in Lima as they signed the Pacific Accord. 

The accord increases economic ties among the four Latin American countries with the goal of creating an integrated market that is competitive against larger economies, such as Brazil, and other regional trade groups.  The agreement also is designed to forge a common strategy to access the Asian market.

Calderón described the agreement as the start of an important commercial zone.

The leaders have said the agreement could later be expanded to include other countries in the region, including Ecuador.





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