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Published Tuesday, May 2, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 86
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Freedom
                            House graphic
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A free press finds itself increasingly entrenched by crackdowns and contempt.
Freedom House report foretells gloom for press
By Conor Golden,
News Editor for A.M. Costa Rica


The full report has not been released to the public yet, but the annual “Freedom of the Press Report” conducted by members of Freedom House is already shaping up to show some downward spirals in the world of media.

Costa Rica, however, seems to frequently rank as one of the exceptions to all the gloomy language surrounding the press release and essay provided by the non-government organization.

With a scale of 0 to 100, Costa Rica apparently received an overall 16. No reason for concern as 100, based on the organization’s compiling, is the score considered the least free. This has jumped Costa Rica up one point from last year and marks its status by Freedom House as “free.”

Not only that, but Costa Rica has the best score for freedom of the press in all of Latin America and rank among the top in the Western Hemisphere.

By comparison, the United States faces a hesitating drop in press freedoms to place 23 out of 100 in score, according to Freedom House. Meanwhile, Canada keeps its same score of 18 out of 100, the organization said.

In the context of the rest of the world, Costa Rica is lucky that it was not mentioned at all on Freedom House’s website.

The key point being made throughout all the essays and statements was that freedom of the press has declined to its lowest levels in 13 years, the group said.

The group’s essayists wrote a scathing review of the situations particularly in the United States about that country’s state of media.

The partisanship to the bankruptcy and the failing profits mar the world of news media in the U.S.

It has created a nosedive in the public trust and a contempt emerging from the democratically-elected government, particularly President Trump who has been vehement in his criticisms of the press.

Governments are also sharing the blame on the state of news media globally. From spying on the press to eroding protections for the media, governments are being charged with large-scale crackdowns on independent outlets, the organization said.

A small victory for Latin America in this report has been that Panamá, based on Freedom House’s findings made the second-largest gains during 2016. Although Costa Rica’s southern neighbor is still labeled as partly-free and gained only a score of 41 out of 100, it had a jump of about five points.

Meanwhile, Cuba is ranked among Freedom House’s Worst of the Worst category with a dismal score of 91 out of 100. Countries such as Venezuela and México have been placed in the not free category as well.

Freedom House touts itself as an independent watchdog organization. The non-government organization, however, does receive funds from the U.S.

It has also been criticized for espousing neoliberal-based ideology within the findings of its reports.

There is also an argument that the organization excessively criticizes states opposed to U.S. interests while being sympathetic to regimes supportive of the U.S.

The website for the report can be found HERE.


Booking sites likely earn the biggest paychecks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As independent tourism operators check their financial books at the end of the high season, they may find out that the big winners were the booking websites.

Some of the more well-known sites take as much as 25 percent. Others have business plans as search engines.

The booking business is lucrative. Expedia paid more than $600 million in 2013 for a majority stake in the Trivago search engine. The Germany-based Trivago makes money from booking sites like Expedia with a pay-to-click agreement. The costs are passed through to the end user, those booking a hotel room or villa.

The booking site Airbnb just charges hosts 3 percent of what visitors pay, but the company is anxious to collect sales tax on rentals in Costa Rica. Technically, anyone who rents for less than a month has to collect the 13 percent sales tax. However, many property owners do not remit the tax, and the legislature passed that law just to placate hotel owners.

So much money is being squeezed from tourism rentals that some Costa Rican hotel owners are encouraging guests to book future visits through their own websites. One hotel operator near Juan Santamaría airport says that guests can save 25 percent on future visits by not using the popular website services.

There are some other downsides for hospitality operators. Airbnb warns against extortion by guests or hosts who might seek compensation for real or imagined actions of damages. There even is a website called Airbnbhell that lists such problems and invited visitors to join a class action suit against the company.

Trip Adviser is well known for its many reviews on hotels, restaurants, stores and attractions. The company boasts it has published half a billion reviews. The 17-year-old firm operates 23 booking websites under other names.

So it has a lot of clout. Still, some in Costa Rica have been posting fake negative reviews of competitors, and there is not much the victim hospitality operator can do about that except complain.

Trip Adviser, like many of the booking sites, really wants to make a deal, so in addition to the location the customer selects, the site also shows many other options.

One complaint about the booking sites by hotel operators is that they emphasis the low prices.

There also are complaints that favoritism can influence the displays on some of the sites.

That sometimes puts small, independent operations at a disadvantage when big chain operations are favored.


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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.
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Legal Services


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I.R.S. Criminal and Civil Issues

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I.R.S. Criminal Investigations, including non-filing of tax returns, tax evasion, filing false income tax returns, money laundering, currency reporting requirements, offshore banking reporting requirements, false statements, and false offer in compromise submissions.

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Harold P. Gewerter, Esq., Ltd., J.D., M.S.
Email: hgewerterlaw@gmail.com
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 Accountants

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Expat group gives testimony in Congress

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S. expat advocacy organization is back within the chambers of the U.S. Congress to beg for tax reform favoring citizens living abroad.

Last Wednesday, American Citizens Abroad submitted testimony to the House Subcommittee on Government Operations. The committee is reviewing unintended consequences as a result of the federal ordinance called the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA.

This tax is considered the bane of all taxes for U.S. expats. Some consider discriminatory particularly when they try to open or maintain a local bank account. The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act requires foreign financial institutions to report directly to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers or held by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The act also requires some U.S. citizens to report their assets to the federal government.

It is this measure that has caused banks to deny accounts to U.S. citizens. In Costa Rica expats sometimes have to visit banks with reams of paperwork to show from where their money originates even if they have an account with a very modest amount of money.

American Citizens Abroad has been fighting to pitch FATCA in favor of adopting what is called a same country exemption. That action to urge Congress to act was formally submitted to the House Committee. The exemption would be only applied to individual taxpayers rather than U.S.-based corporations or businesses.

It favors the elimination of, essentially, paying taxes twice: once to the country of residency and again to the federal government for all foreign-earned income.

Tax reform, however, has proven to be a partisan issue within the legislature and often the calls from expat groups have gone on with much talk and little result.


Government provides new works website

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In an effort to reach the administration’s goals of promoting greater transparency, the national government has created a new website detailing the status report and map of all the public works projects in progress or complete.

The website, called Mapa de Obras, went live last Thursday. It uses a map of the entire country that can then be zoomed in by province and canton, the public works projects occurring or completed in that area, according to Casa Presidencial. The completed works go back to the beginning of the administration of current President Luis Guillermo Solís back in 2014.

Casa Presidencial said that its website will be updated until the last day of the administration. It is unclear if the next one will take up the mantle following the next election. The government did mention that the current website does not include all the scholarship, bonds and training programs that have occurred as well. It also does not currently include the administration’s policies in relation to reduction of the poverty rate.

“In the case of financing provided to the municipalities by the Instituto de Fomento y Asesoría Municipal, the icons will have a visualization that differentiates the municipal projects financed by that institution, which will be incorporated soon,” Casa Presidencial said.

The website can be found HERE.


Yale wind project receives small donation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica is one of three international projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the Yale Climate Change and Health Initiative.

According to a statement by the university, the Yale School of Public Health pledged to these programs around $15,000 in donations. The initiative held two workshops this month where participants outlined each project in detail before a vote was called which one was believed the most effective, organizers said.

Costa Rica received the least amount of the donation funds available. A wind power cooperative at Los Santos, southeast of San José, earned a full $2,000 of the university’s donations. “This project includes 15 wind turbines in one of the country’s windiest areas,” a statement from the initiative said.

“It prevents 15,000 tons of CO2 emissions annually and has helped create local jobs and boost tourism to the region. The turbines create power for 50,000 people and are owned by the people who use them.”

The other two projects are in Uganda and Vietnam. The project in the former is called Ugastove, a project aimed at reducing the reliance on charcoal use, and it gained the bulk of the donation money at $6,774. The project in Vietnam is a biogas project aimed at aiding farmers by relying on a biodigester, a large brick-lined storage container for animal waste, that also powers equipment instead of not using the methane.

These initiatives by Yale attempt to balance the most effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while also providing immediate economic, social, environmental and health benefits, the university said.

Robert Dubrow, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health and the initiative’s director, called the projects a moral imperative in the long-term interest of everyone. Dubrow noted that greenhouse gas reduction is needed on a global scale, and that developed countries, which are responsible for most of the cumulative CO2 emissions, have a special responsibility to reduce their own emissions as well as to help developing countries reduce theirs.


British TV show exploring Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A new show detailing one family’s adventures and exploring into Costa Rica premiered on British television Sunday evening.

“Escape to Costa Rica” follows science writer Gaia Vince traveling to Costa Rica “to find out how this remarkable little republic has become ‘the happiest, most sustainable country in the world.” Ms. Vince has already amassed a reputation for environmental journalism. She frequently writes for the British newspaper The Guardian and also has a column with the British Broadcasting Corporation. Ms. Vince was also the former news editor for the prominent science journal “Nature.”

According to Ms. Vince’s personal website, the show is the first in a three-part series that shows her travels with her two young children all around Costa Rica. She said on her website that she chose Costa Rica for its varying environments and gorgeous scenery among other reasons.

“But what’s most remarkable is that a few decades ago, Costa Rica was a very different country,” she proclaims on her website.

“Poor, struggling with violence and caught in international drugs wars, this was once one of the most deforested nations in the region. A visionary president with courage and ambition helped turn it around. Now, an emphasis on nature and conservation means that Costa Rica protects more than 25 percent of its land and half of its coastline, it runs its national grid almost entirely on renewables, and vast tree-planting make it the only tropical country to have reversed deforestation.”

She also gave a nod toward the abolishing of the military and the investment into universal healthcare as well as education as factors that perhaps influences the country’s consistent rankings on the global happiness index.

The next episode airs on the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 on Sunday at 7 p.m.


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Third News Page
U.S. Tax
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Costa Rica's May Day parade draws Left-leaning business as usual
May
Day parade
Frente Amplio photo
Frente Amplio marches down Avenida Segunda.
May Day parade
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Rommel Téllez
The Caja's union marches with its neoliberal effigy.
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The May Day celebrations came out with the usual fanfare along San José’s Avendia Segunda Monday.

The varying unions, such as the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social’s workers union pictured in light blue, and associations as well as political parties, like the yellow-colored Frente Amplio pictured above, came out in strong solidarity for the principles of labor rights and other socio-economic issues.

From indigenous associations demanding more empowerment to New Age Anarchist waving black flags with their faces covered as if to ambush the rest of the marchers at any time.

Animal rights advocates are present along with the vegan socialists fighting the repression of the military forces of the state.

The May Day parade is a spectacle resembling a left-leaning version of an ancient Roman triumph.

Other groups include feminist associations marching to end gender violence, flamboyant LGBTQ organizations making sure their community is no longer disrespected or made invisible.

Students, Movimientos Bolivarianos, ice cream sellers, clowns, unions and religious groups complete the mix of ideologies.


Libertarian group offers alternative ideology in Costa Rican politics
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The May Day parades in Costa Rica often espouses socialist, communist and generally left-leaning ideologies. Most of the unions and leftist political parties participate in the pomp and pageantry of the spectacle. Another political group, however, stands against many of those economic policies.

Economic recovery, reduction in spending within the national budget and the development of infrastructure. Those are the three main goals that Movimiento Libertario will push in their latest period at the Asamblea Legislativa. Bold plans, however party ideology may come in conflict with the existing order that rules in Costa Rica.

In accordance to libertarian principles, the party claims it will engage in the fight for a more competitive, productive and free society by opposing any new taxes and supporting bills that would encourage entrepreneurship, said Movimiento Libertario on a press release.

“We, the libertarians, continue to be committed in our fight against more taxes,” said Natalia Díaz, current president of the libertarian faction in the legislative assembly. “We need to remove all the blockages that keep productive development from generating more jobs.”

For the upcoming 2017 to 2018 legislative period, libertarians will push for more accessible liquor licenses among other things. They also plan to transform the current Patentes into more-easier-to-obtain permits.

Movimiento Libertario lawmakers also seek to create fiscal benefits for start-ups and small businesses, as well as liberalizing the taxi service to include anyone interested in providing public transportation.

In order to decrease the fiscal deficit, Ms. Díaz said the main tool is to cut on government expenses, specially those related to the benefits of public officers.

For that purpose, the party seeks to approve the bills, Ley de Empleo Público and the Ley de Reconocimiento de Anualidades.

The goals of both bills essentially create an overhaul of the public sector pension plans whereby all public officers in all government areas receive a more equal payment.

“We are against the current reality where there exists abysmal differences in the salaries of people doing the same job, just because of the government agency they were hired at,” Ms. Díaz added. “We say equal payment for an equal job."

Other parties have criticized these proposed measures claiming that it is an attack on workers who have nothing to do with the fiscal deficit.
Natalia Diaz
Movimiento Libertario photo
Natalia Díaz, faction head in legislature for libertarians.

However, Ms. Díaz said that it is not true, since the bill would apply only to new hires.

Currently, Movimiento Libertario has three out of 57 legislators in the Legislative Assembly. The party is a relatively new one in Costa Rican politics.

It was founded in 1994 making it not as yThe most recognizable face to the party is one of its original founders, Otto Guevara.

Guavara is often the chosen candidate for president within the party.

Expats are more than aware of the difficulty in changing any form of benefits or retirement plan particularly amongst unionized public sector employees.

The libertarians in Costa Rica often face very strong opposition to much of their proposed legislation due to the massive spending, as much as the aforementioned tax, cuts that would occur should the party obtain the reigns of power.

The party seeks, according to its website, to take the government out of its common position as an actor within the economy.

The policies have much in common with neoliberal principles of open markets, free trade and minimal intervention by the government in economic activities.

As part of the party’s avowed principles, they outright say that the state should operate in an austere manner and decentralize power to local authorities.



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Costa Rica spider species has silk that's natural marvel, study says
By the University of Pennsylvania press staff

Spider silks, the stuff of spider webs, are a materials engineer’s dream: they can be stronger than steel at a mere fraction of weight, and also can be tougher and more flexible. They also tend not to provoke the human immune system. Some even inhibit bacteria and fungi, making them potentially ideal for surgery and medical device applications.

Exploitation of these natural marvels has been slow, due in part to the challenges involved in identifying and characterizing spider silk genes, but researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have now made a major advance with the largest-ever study of spider silk genes.

As they report today in an advance online paper in “Nature Genetics,” Penn scientists and their collaborators sequenced the full genome of the golden orb-weaver spider, Nephila clavipes, a prolific silk-spinner that turns out to produce 28 varieties of silk proteins.

This spider is also found in Costa Rica and Central America. In addition to cataloguing new spider silk genes, the researchers discovered novel patterns within the genes that may help to explain the unique properties of different types of silk.

“There were so many surprises that emerged from our study: new silk genes, new DNA sequences that presumably confer strength, toughness, stretchiness and other properties to silk proteins; and even a silk protein made in venom glands rather than silk glands,” said senior author Benjamin F. Voight, PhD, an associate professor in the departments of genetics and systems pharmacology and translational therapeutics.

Even though spider silks have been studied for more than 50 years, earlier foundational work had identified only a comparative handful of spider silk genes. Even recent work from species with smaller silk repertoires than the golden orb-weaver’s were incomplete.

To find all of the silk genes hidden across the golden orb-weaver’s genome, the veritable lab rat of spider silk science, required the construction of the entire genome, a daunting task in itself.

In the new study, Voight and his colleagues began with the herculean task of sequencing and reassembling the genome of the golden orb-weaver: a task comparable to solving a multimillion-piece jigsaw puzzle, with few clues as to how these pieces fit together.

In the golden orb-weaver’s genome, which turns out to be about as large as the human genome, the researchers identified more than 14,000 likely genes, including 28 that appear to encode spider silk proteins, known as spidroins.

Spidroins have been classified into seven categories according to their protein sequences and functions; these categories include aciniform silk for wrapping prey and tying down partners for mating; and the super-strong major ampullate silk from which spiders swing while at work.

However, some of the newly discovered spidroins have sequences that do not fit neatly into any of these categories, suggesting that the encoded silk proteins may have novel functions or that the existing categories need to be redefined.

golden orb silk spider
Wikipedia photo
This spider species is native to Costa Rica too.

An extensive computational analysis of the orb-weaver’s spidroin genes revealed nearly 400 short sequences, many never before described, that appear repeatedly in these genes with small variations and in different combinations.

These repetitive spidroin “motifs” are of great interest to biologists and engineers because they are likely to confer the key properties of a given spider silk, such as high tensile strength, flexibility, or stickiness.

The analysis also revealed novel, higher-order organizations of these motifs into groups of motifs and groups of groups.

Voight’s team also examined gene transcripts from different orb-weaver silk glands and in each case found transcripts belonging to more than one spidroin class, suggesting that these glands are not strictly specialized for producing one type of silk.

The biggest surprise was the discovery that one of the orb-weaver’s spidroins, FLAG-b a novel discovery by the group, appears to be produced primarily in the orb-weaver’s venom gland rather than in any silk gland, hinting at intriguing new functions for silk connected to prey capture, immobilization, or preservation.

In their analyses of the genome data, Voight and colleagues also identified 649 likely genes that are not spidroin genes but are highly expressed in silk glands, and thus probably have roles in converting the liquid silk from spider cells into solid, spinnable threads, a tricky process that biotech engineers are just beginning to achieve outside of spiders.

Voight and his team are now following up with a genome-sequencing study of Darwin’s bark spider, which makes the strongest known silks, and has been known to span rivers with them.

The scientists are also at work on technology for the rapid production of silks in the lab starting from their spidroin DNA sequences, to better understand how these sequences and their motifs encode silks’ biological and physical properties.




Vacation, travel and hospitality


Live in Costa Rica tours

  • Costa Rica’s #1 source for relocation since 1980
  • Over 10,000 people relocated SUCCESSFULLY with our tours and books
  • ONLY relocation tour legally LICENSED by the Costa Rica government and APPROVED by the Association of Residents (ARCR)
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Sample Video of the tour HERE

Toll Free from U.S. 877-884-2502 or 800-365-2342
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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!

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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



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Real estate rentals
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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!

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VISIT OUR WEB:
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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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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
Published Tuesday, May 2, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 86
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
green card
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services photo 
Front of the new U.S. green cards issued.

New green cards designed
to be fraud proof, U.S. says

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has begun issuing new tamper-resistant green cards.

The redesigned cards, which have enhanced graphics and additional security features, are more secure than the old ones.

The new green cards will: display the individual's photos on both sides, show a unique graphic image and color palette, have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominately green palette, have embedded holographic images, no longer display the individual's signature, and no longer have an optical stripe on the back.

While May 1 is the launch date for the new cards, the agency said some of the old ones may still be issued until they have run out. Both old and new cards remain valid until they reach their expiration dates. While the cards are new, the rules governing green card eligibility and the application process remain the same.


Protests mark around world
during May Day parades


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Protesters in the United States and around the world have marked International Workers Day, May Day, with rallies and demonstrations that turned violent in displays of anger against authoritarianism and right-wing politics from France to Turkey.

May Day is traditionally a day of protest, and this one was no exception. Police fired tear gas on demonstrators rallying in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the scene of past bloody May Day crackdowns.

Tensions in Turkey have been high after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan narrowly won a referendum last month giving him sweeping new powers.

Police arrested more than 200 people Monday.

Things were more jovial in Russia, on what turned out to be beautiful spring day with more than 100,000 marching in Moscow.

The spirit was in sharp contrast to Saturday, when thousands of Russians lined up to present their grievances in letters at government offices. Organizers of the mass protest said police arrested demonstrators in cities across Russia, including 120 people in St. Petersburg.

France, which is still under a state of emergency and with elections less than a week away, was on high alert. The government deployed 9,000 police in various parts of the country to keep supporters of the two main candidates, centrist Emmanuel Macron and nationalist Marine Le Pen, apart.

Ms. Le Pen, who wants to curb immigration by Muslims, get France out of the European Union, and bring back jobs for French factory workers, led a rally outside Paris, where she called Macron the candidate of the caviar Left.

Macron also campaigned Monday, but his supporters were generally not visible among the May Day demonstrators.

Thousands, including labor union activists, marched in central Paris, many of them protesting Ms. Le Pen.

Demonstrators in Paris threw firebombs and clashed with police. With elections so near and the issues so divisive, the battle lines could not be clearer on this day of protest.

In the U.S., May Day's rallying point has shifted from workers to immigrants. Tens of thousands of people are expected to mark the day from New York to Los Angeles to protest against President Donald Trump's focus on boosting deportations. Organizations have called for immigrant strikes in some cities to show Americans what a day without immigrants would look like.


Trump administration scraps
Obama-led lunch program


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Trump administration is turning back a U.S. public school program promoted by former first lady Michelle Obama that required healthier lunches for children.

If kids aren't eating the food and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition undermining the intent of the program, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Monday.

He made his announcement at an elementary school cafeteria in Leesburg, Virginia, near Washington, before a tray of chicken nuggets, fruit and salad. Perdue said he appreciates what Michelle Obama wanted to do: giving children lunches with more whole grains and less fat and salt. But he said his department wants to adjust the program to make the healthier food more appetizing.

For starters, schools can now serve chocolate or strawberry flavored milk with 1 percent fat instead of nonfat milk. Under the 2012 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, schools that wanted federal meal subsidies would have to put limits on salt and fat in lunches and add more fruit, vegetables and whole grains to the menus.

Health experts say U.S. children do not exercise enough and that one in six are overweight.


Twitter and Bloomberg team
to stream 24-hours live news


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Twitter and Bloomberg news are teaming up to launch a 24-hour streaming news channel.

In response to a story in the Wall Street Journal about the partnership, Bloomberg Media’s top executive tweeted confirmation of the news.

The Journal said Bloomberg would create exclusive content for the streaming channel, but that it would be separate from the company’s television channel.

Twitter did not provide any comment on the story due to an official announcement planned for later Monday. For Twitter, the deal could help restore user growth which has been slow compared to other social media sites.

The 10-year-old Twitter has never made a profit, and despite tweaks to the format, has only seen modest growth in users. Twitter recently reduced staff and an attempt to sell the company failed. The partnership with Bloomberg could attract more users beyond the core of politicians, journalists and celebrities.

Last week the company gave its quarterly results, which saw another drop in revenue despite seeing a 14 percent spike in users to 328 million. The company said its loss of $62 million was better than last year, which saw the company lose $80 million.


May Day marks anniversary
of Castro's 1961 declaration


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Fifty-six years ago today, Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro banned multiparty elections and declared Cuba a socialist nation.

Addressing hundreds of thousands of Cubans at a May Day parade, Castro openly identified himself as a Marxist-Leninist, setting off a decades-long Cold War with the United States.

"If Mr. Kennedy does not like socialism, we do not like imperialism," Castro said, referring to then-president John F. Kennedy. "We do not like capitalism."

The May Day proclamation came just one month after the failed U.S.-sponsored invasion of the island by Cuban exiles, the so-called Bay of Pigs operation.

The invasion force of 1,300 men landed at Bahia de Cochinos, but was quickly crushed. The days that followed saw thousands of anti-Castro rebels confined in makeshift prisons; hundreds were later executed.

Castro came to power in 1959 after leading a successful revolt against dictator Fulgencio Batista and his government.

From the start, the United States worried that Castro was too leftist in his politics. He implemented agrarian reform, expropriated foreign oil company holdings, and eventually seized all foreign-owned property in Cuba.

He also established close diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, and the Russians were soon providing economic and military aid to the Caribbean nation.

By January 1961, the United States had severed diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Decades later in 2014, long after the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, former U.S. president Barack Obama restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba. The U.S. opened an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as Obama vowed to cut loose the shackles of the past and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.

The historic deal broke an enduring stalemate between the two countries, divided by 144 kilometers of water and decades of mistrust and hostility dating from the days of Theodore Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War that brought independence to Cuba.

The visit by Obama in 2016 was aimed at cementing the new relationship between Washington and Havana. Some years before, in 2008, an aging and unwell Fidel Castro officially stepped down, handing power to his brother, Raul.

Fidel Castro died Nov. 25, 2016, at age 90.


Taliban insurgency inflicts
high casualties on Afghans


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan has continued to inflict shockingly high casualties on government forces and brought more territory under its control or influence, a U.S. government agency said Monday.

The quarterly assessment by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, follows the April 19 Taliban attack on a major military base in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The assault killed more than 140 Afghan soldiers, though multiple independent sources reported a much higher death toll.

SIGAR’s report coincided with the beginning of the yearly Taliban spring offensive. The insurgent group captured another northeastern district during over the weekend and is threatening to seize others elsewhere in the country.

About 6,785 Afghan soldiers and police personnel were killed while another 11,777 were wounded in the first 11 months of 2016, according to SIGAR, adding the Afghan government has not provided the U.S. military with data for the last seven weeks of that year.

Approximately, 59.7 percent of the country’s 407 districts were under Afghan government control or influence as of February 20, 2017, showing a slight 2.5 percentage point increase from the last quarter in mid-November, the U.S. agency reported Monday.

“The number of districts under insurgent control or influence also increased by four this quarter to 45 districts” in 15 Afghan provinces, according to SIGAR. It shows a slight increase in the number of the country’s total districts under insurgent control or influence from about 10 percent to 11.1 percent.

SIGAR is tasked to review tens of billions of dollars the United States has spent or is allocating to help rebuild war-shattered Afghanistan. The quarterly reports it compiles provide details about whether or not progress is being made and to highlight security challenges as well as rampant corruption threatening the reconstruction efforts.

U.S. military officials have warned 2017 would be a tough year for Afghan security forces battling the Taliban and other insurgents. The fighting has also inflicted heavy losses among civilians. Conflict-related civilian casualties stood at more than 11,400, including around 3,500 deaths in 2016, according to the United Nations. The U.N. mission in Afghanistan has documented the deaths of more than 700 civilians in the first quarter of 2017.


Advance team of U.N. force
arrives in South Sudan


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An advance team of the regional protection force arrived in Juba over the weekend.

The U.N. Mission in South Sudan, or UNMISS, said a team of engineers is in the country to prepare for the deployment of the 4,000-strong force in the capital with a mandate to protect civilians. The government says it will accept regional troops from neighboring countries to be part of the U.N. peacekeeping force in South Sudan.

The regional protection force was established in 2016 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2304.

UNMISS released a statement over the weekend saying the force’s headquarters has been established in Juba under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Jean Mupenzi from Rwanda.

The statement also said an advance party of a Construction Engineering Company from Bangladesh arrived on April 20, bringing essential equipment to begin preparing offices for the protection force in Juba. Regional troops from Rwanda are expected to follow in June and July.

UNMISS said the force will provide coordinated protection to key facilities in Juba, and protection to the main routes into and out of the city. The force will also strengthen the security of U.N. protection of civilians' sites and other U.N. premises, according to the statement.

South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei said the Kiir administration objects to the presence of any non-African forces as part of the regional protection force and only gave permission for the Bangladeshi forces to enter the country because of their technical expertise.

"We raised concerns that these forces are not part of the region and we saw no reason they should come," Makuei said. But when the administration learned "these are technical people whose abilities are not available in the region," the government relented.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan operates under Chapter VII of the United Nations. Under it, the Security Council determines the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken to restore international peace and security.

Makuei said his government will not accept combat troops who are not from the region.

UNMISS said the deployment of the regional protection forces will free up existing UNMISS peacekeepers to extend their presence to conflict-affected areas beyond Juba.


More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
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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
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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!
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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
SMALL and LARGER jobs welcome !!!. We can build from any plan you bring us all work done by USA codes master electric and plumbing Better quality and lower prices than USA. We do it all Right  + Reasonable.
Call us: Toll Free 877-778-8515   
     Text from US: 804-313-6382 
     CR phone: 506-8307-0164
     Email: hotelescazu@aol.com
     For more info also see our sites:
    www.a1masterbuildercostarica.webs.com
    www.hotelsescazu.com
    www.hotel4salecostarica.com
    www.wind-solar.webs.com 
9142-7/27/17
Related

Browse timeshares for sale and rent by owner in Costa Rica at bargain prices. We connect existing timeshare owners with those looking to buy or rent a timeshare on the resale market. Timeshares on the resale market are up to 50% cheaper than those sold through the resort. Already own a timeshare and looking to sell? Stop saying “sell my timeshare” and let BuyaTimeshare.com help you find a buyer or renter.
9203-4/19/2018

COSTA RICA SOLAR
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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!

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NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
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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.
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CALL TODAY!
Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398
OUR EMAIL:
 andrefurlong@gmail.com
Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com
VISIT OUR WEB:
www.crsolar.net 
9177-6/19/16



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Pinapple
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Pineapple protest planned at Los Chiles

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A civic association based in Los Chiles, a canton near the Nicaraguan border, is organizing a demonstration against the expansion of the pineapple industry.

The group, composed of small farmers and teachers in addition to other groups are meeting this morning at 7 at the Escuela de los Chiles, according to a statement by the environmentalist group Federación Conservacionista.

The backstory behind this protest is due to the rapid expansion of pineapple plantations to the tune of 4,175 hectares between 2014 and 2015. Back in July 2016, the Municipalidad de Los Chiles created a study of the expansion despite strong opposition from environmentalists who claimed devastating effects related to the pineapple growing.

The study apparently considered a hold of five years for granting permits, but the Sala Consitucional overruled this motion. The federation said that this is the source of the conflict.

The group is also citing a 2012 Estado de la Nación report that explores the negative impact of pinapple crops saying that it causes direct problems through the fruit’s decomposition and the application of herbicides on the farms.

There is also the stomatal fly, which causes severe problems to livestock and ranching, the group said. This fly proliferates on such pineapple plantations.

The federation claims that the 2014 census marks pineapple as the main crop for the canton with over 3,000 hectares already devoted to its planting. Research from the Universidad de Costa Rica noted a lack of licensing and follow-up towards these projects as well.

The lack of licensing that the government gives out as its stamp of approval in environmental sustainability is of particular concern to the federation. It is also the reason why the organization is also getting involved and standing behind the groups in Los Chiles calling for the protest.



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From page 7:

Company receives license to sell in region

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Canadian company touting itself as providing and manufacturing eco-friendly products for agriculture and mining obtained its last registration necessary to sell its product in Costa Rica and the rest of Central America.

Earth Alive Clean Technologies, Inc. Announced Monday that it had acquired registration in El Savador, completing the legal requirements needed for importing and distributing its Soil Activator product in the region, a statement by the group said.

“This region’s agriculture is defined by crops with a strong Soil Activator track record, such as coffee, cacao, banana, rice, maize, melons, and greenhouse crops,” said Michael Warren, one of the vice presidents for the group. “Given that large farming businesses operate across multiple countries in Central America, regional registration is a key aspect of our sales strategy in the area.”

The group has said that it began acquiring its first Central American registrations back in 2016 in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The business claims that it has aided, with great success, over 20 different agricultural industries such as banana, rice, tomato, tobacco, coffee and cacao.

“Earth Alive aims to be a key player in world markets of environmentally sustainable industrial solutions,” its website reads. “The company works with the latest innovations in microbial technology to formulate and patent innovative products that can tackle the most difficult industrial challenges, once only reserved to environmentally harmful chemicals and additives.”

Apparently, the business is focused on  environmental sustainability in agriculture practices as well as dust control with the mining industry.