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(506) 2223-1327               Posted Monday, May 17, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 95         E-mail us
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Violent attack unites a Pacific beach community
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A violent attack against a well-known expat in the Canton de Osa produced an outpouring of community spirit and brought home the reality of violent crime.

Dominical and nearby Escaleres are at the south end of the newly asphalted Costanera Sur. Some blame the rise in crime on better access. However, the increases in thefts and burglaries predates the completion of the highway last month.

The attack by crooks on Ben Vaughn, a local real estate broker and community leader, shocked the community, expats and Ticos alike. Violent crimes are not typical here. One expat spoke of the soaring number of home invasions until he was questioned in detail. He meant burglaries when no one is at home. In the Central Valley a home invasion is when armed and masked intruders burst through the front door, tie up those present and sometimes injure or kill.

In the short run, the community is rallying around Vaughn, who has no medical insurance. He was airlifted in critical condition from the hospital in Cortez after physicians there evaluated his condition. Friends credit Hospital CIMA for saving his life. But CIMA is not known for bargain prices.

A friend said over the weekend that bills already amount to $20,000 and are expected to exceed $100,000 if there are no complications. The airlift alone is estimated at $6,000.

Community members are using e-mail, Facebook and Twitter to raise funds for their friend.


In the long run, residents plan to do something about local crime. They met Saturday in Uvita to discuss the situation. One person involved said that Costa Ricans who attended also are sick of continual thefts and burglaries.

Local police generally dismiss the notion that the crime rate is high. Byron Martínez, the local police chief in Dominical, said Friday that he did not think the town was dangerous. He said that the majority of robberies and thefts are of foreigners because they are overconfident and leave open their car windows and sometimes leave the keys in the ignition. Sometimes they leave their homes unlocked, he said.

The view runs counter to the reaction of the local expat community. The have set up an e-mail list to distribute news of crimes, and there is a community watch program.

Vaughn was attacked Tuesday in the early evening. There were witnesses. The Judicial Investigating Organization has made an arrest,
Dominical map
A.M. Costa Rica graphic
Red dot locates Dominical.


said Ever Hernández with the Judicial police in Osa. More are expected.

Vaughn suffered serious head injuries and a broken jaw in the attack. He has many friends because he has been in the area since 1999, coming from Aspen, Colorado, where he spent 14 years. In addition to his Guys in the Zone real estate business in Uvita, he operates Dominical dot Biz, a Web site for profiles of local companies and restaurants. He has no hospitalization insurance, friends said.

Many expats settle in Dominical because of its laid-back lifestyle. Shorts and sometimes even bathing suits are the uniforms of the day. The area was one of the centers of the real estate boom, and the economic downturn hit it hard.

The community also is astride the principal motor transport drug route north. The cocaine that is siphoned off into local markets fuels the growth of crime.

John Wieland, a local real estate broker, and Dale Giampapa, a tourism operator, are coordinating the fund for Vaughn.  They said that donations may be made in person at Banco Nacional or from accounts in the same bank to 200-02-195-000345-8. Transfers from other banks in Costa Rica go via the SINPE system by using the full interbank number 15119520020003457. This type of transfer also needs Wieland's cédula number: 184000326315.

International transfer information is on the Facebook page. Wieland said on the page that Banco Nacional has agreed to waive its part of the transfer fee.

There also have been other spontaneous offers of support, in addition to friends who are working full-time to raise funds. Vaughn got the airlift because friends paid for it as well as the initial entry and emergency work at Hospital CIMA.  Orbit Costa Rica has offered accommodations for Vaughn family members who are coming from the States.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 95

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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.


Real estate agents and services

MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica

20 years Costa Rican
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Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

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

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6094-xxxxx
March planned to protest
big hike in legislative salaries


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Unions and others are planning a march a week from today to protest a plan by lawmakers to raise their salary 60 percent.

The current salary is 2.5 million colons or about $4,940. The proposal, which has the backing of the bulk of the legislature is to raise the amount to 4 million colons or about $7,900.

With the new salary, lawmakers would lose certain perks like a gasoline allotment. There are 57 legislative deputies. Already they have voted to put the bill on the fast track.

The Partido Acción Ciudadana has come out against the proposal. The Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados also has come out against the measure. The union said that many of the lawmakers come from private business and that they would continue to receive money from these sources while they serve.

The proposal, however, would require full time attention to legislative business.  For example, lawyers could not work with clients.

Union leaders also raised the issue of the current economic situation many workers face.

Acción Ciudadana cited what it said was a high deficit generated by the Óscar Arias Sánchez administration and that the country needs a complete fiscal overhaul.


Ms. Chinchilla in Spain
for summit and negotiations


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla is in Spain today at the summit of heads of state of Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union.

At the same time negotiations are reaching an uncertain end as diplomats try to construct an accord of association, basically a trade treaty.

The treaty has been in the works for two years. Ms. Chinchilla said that she sees the agreement as a priority in economic reactivation and for generating more jobs, according to Casa Presidential. She has met with negotiators and interested parties from Costa Rica who are watching developments closely.


Tourist jumped by robbers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Milwaukee, Wisconsin, man learned about Costa Rica's crime problem the hard way and on his first 24 hours in the country.

The man Scott Boese, a first-time tourist, was jumped by robbers early Saturday on Avenida 9 near the Instituto Nacional de Seguros building. He needed stitches to repair a damaged lip. The crooks took his passport, so he said he plans to visit the U.S. Embassy today to get travel documents. The consulate at the embassy does not have weekend hours.


Our reader's opinion
Arizona law will protect
all citizens in that state


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Just a thought about the state of Arizona's new law that is being reacted to by many non-Arizona residents.

1) This law is for Arizona. It is for their protection and was conceived by and passed by the government that represents the majority of people in Arizona. It was introduce as a means of protecting all Arizona citizens against illegal elements that have invaded the state. The law as it is written does not target any group but frankly most people that will be approached are Latino (not a lot illegal immigrants from Sweden in Arizona).

As for the people that say no state should check for residence status, I will remind you that immigration policies are in place to protect legal residence and to stop over burdening of the infrastructure (hospitals, schools and other social service structures). Most of the illegals in the U.S.A. are good, hard working people just looking for a better life or to help families in their home countries, and my thoughts should in no way be construed as a blemish on their character, morals or their intentions. But if they are here illegally that is a crime, and they should be removed. This country has a legal process for entering, and it should be followed.

On a personal note I don't think that children born to illegal immigrants inside the U.S.  or any other country should be granted citizenship. This is just a personal peeve.

Back to Arizona's new law, I am glad that I have not read any negative comments from the good people of Costa Rica. This is important especially since all the Latin American country that I have been in stop individuals and check ID and visas very regularity. Any complaint would be hypocritical, and indicate a biases against a group of citizen making laws that they feel protects themselves.
John Steward
North Carolina U.S.A.

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 95

Renewing tourism visa will require lots of paperwork
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The immigration department has posted the rules governing the administrative renewal of a tourist visa, and the outline does not look good for the average U.S. or Canadian expat.

For starters it appears that the immigration office is enforcing the wording of the law that says only visas issued for less than 90 days can be extended. The usual North American visa is for 90 days.

But then the procedure gets even more complex. Instead of a tourist just handing in a receipt for $100, the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería wants extensive documentation, including a ticket for leaving the country.

The idea of a tourist renewal originally was proposed for snowbirds and others who might want to stay more than 90 days in the country and not face the burden of taking a foreign trip to renew the visa.

According to the memo posted on the Web site, applicants for renewal must fill out an application and list contact information in Costa Rica. The document must be authenticated by a lawyer or by the immigration official who receives it.

Then the immigration agency wants a personal data form which asks marital status, education level completed, parents names, occupation and once again contact information.

The renewal applicant also has to provide three passport-type photos and a certified photocopy of the ticket that will be used to leave the country.
A photocopy of the passport also must be certified. The photocopy must include all the pages of the passport to be verified by the immigration official who receives it. If the passport is not in Spanish, a translation must accompany it, according to the rules.

As expected the applicant has to demonstrate financial capability for the time he or she is staying in the country. The rule is vague on this part, although informally immigration workers have talked of a bank account or some other evidence showing access to money during the time the applicant would be in the country.

Any individuals who are here at the invitation of the government or private Costa Rican companies have to present a letter explaining the situation.

Medical tourists who have to overstay their current visa have to present a medical certificate explaining that fact.

The $100 fee must be deposited in an account in Banco de Costa Rica.

A reporter accompanied a Swiss citizen last month in an effort to renew his tourist visa. He was denied on the third of three visits to immigration because his visa was for 90 days. The 90-day rule appears to have been the use of an incorrect phrase by the legislative staff because at the time the law was being discussed in the Asamblea Legislativa, everyone involved seemed to think that an easy renewal process would help tourism, real estate and those individuals who flee the northern winter here.

The remainder of the regulations that go with the new immigration law have not yet been available.


Union leaders hit Arias with criminal claim on dock payoff
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In an effort to derail the plan to offer a concession for a private company to run the ports in Limón, heads of public employee unions have presented criminal charges against former president Óscar Arias Sánchez, his brother and three members of the former administration.

The union leaders claim that Arias and his ministers violated the law against corruption and illegal enrichment by offering a substantial payoff to the 1,300 workers on the Limón and Moín docks on the condition that they leave their jobs to allow a concessionaire to take over. The amount involved is about $137 million.

The criminal case is  believed to be a strategic move to stall the concession plan for the docks. Presenting the allegations to a criminal prosecutor were Albino Vargas Barrantes, president of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados; Luis Ángel Serrano Estrada, president of the Sindicato Independiente de Tabajores Estatales Costarricense; and Francisco Aguilar García, president of the Sindicato de Empleados(as) Industriales de Comunicaciones y la Energía.

In addition to Arias and his brother Rodrigo, who was minister of the Presidencia, also named are Marco Antonio Vargas Díaz, former minister of Coordinación Institutional; Álvaro González Alfaro, former minister of Trabajo; and Francisco Jiménez Reyes, former executive president of the Junta de Administración Portuaria y Desarrollo Económica de la Vertiente Atlántica. The junta runs the docks.

The Arias administration orchestrated a plan to have dockworkers oust the current board of their union in favor of a leadership that approves of the government offer. The bulk of the dockworkers favor the idea of getting a payoff as Caldera dockworkers received five years ago. Caldera on the Pacific is now more efficient under a private concession holder who has agreed to invest the needed money to bring the port up to modern standards.

Albino Vargas
Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados photo
Albino Vargas shows the 29-page case he and other union leaders are seeking to bring against Óscar Arias and former government ministers.

The minister of Trabajo validated the new board.

Limón dockworkers could get up to $90,000 each depending on their length of service.

Under Costa Rican law a criminal case can freeze other actions until it is resolved. So the union allegations, if accepted by a prosecutor, could stall letting the ports out on concession.

If the prosecutor rejects the allegations, the union leaders still have the option of filing the criminal case and prosecuting it themselves.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 95


Alajuela mural
Municipalidad de Alajuela photo

The mural contest is in full swing in the Alajuela districts of San Antonio, San Rafael, San Isidro, Turrúcares, Tambor and San José de Alajuela. The first mural was recognized Saturday. It is at the Supermercado K-Smart
in San Isidro. The contest is the municipality's art in public spaces initiative. Subjects must be historical or focus on local traditions or local costumes. This is the second edition of the contest.



Police track down four suspects in vehicle hijacking case

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers and judicial agents captured four persons Friday as suspects in hijacking vehicles. One of those detained was a 16 year old.

Police got on the trail of the foursome after the vehicle was taken with force in San Sebastián. Acting on a tip, judicial agents and the Grupo de Apoyo Operacional, the Fuerza Pública tactical squad, found three suspects in the
Europa subdivision in Granadilla Norte de Curridabat.

The fourth arrest in San Pedro was more difficult. The suspect, identified by the last names of Álvarez Navas escaped over the roofs of homes and threw himself in a river to avoid capture. Nevertheless, he was caught.

Police said they found two stolen vehicles at his home, including the one they were seeking. They also confiscated a 9-mm pistol.



Mayor and council among targets of investigative raid in Siquirres

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Poder Judicial said that its raid at the Municipalidad de Siquirres involved three offices of the mayor, the offices of the municipal council and the highway department.
The local prosecutor is investigating a bribery complaint and made the raid Friday. No one was detained, the Poder Judicial said, but many documents were confiscated. The raid was announced Friday but few details were made available.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 95

Medical vacations in Costa Rica


Iranian official celebrates
the death of capitalism


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva met with both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the outside world focused on whether a deal over a long-stalled nuclear fuel-swap would be reached. 

Iranian leaders appear to be downplaying any discussion of their country's controversial nuclear program during a high-profile visit by da Silva to Tehran.

But a Brazilian official said that da Silva "remained optimistic about the nuclear talks," insisting the nuclear issue was a "very important item on their agenda."

The Brazilian official said negotiations are ongoing and it is necessary to wait until the end of the talks today to judge if progress had been made.

Ahmadinejad, who visited Brazil last November, held a joint press conference with da Silva stressing economic cooperation between the two countries, while avoiding any mention of talks about Iran's nuclear program. He says that it is important to increase cooperation and ties between countries that are independent, like Iran and Brazil, as the foundation of a new world economic order.

Ahmadinejad spoke of increasing trade between Iran and Brazil to the level of $10-billion a year and went on to describe various areas of cooperation between both countries.

He says that opportunities must be fostered between Iran and Brazil to increase cooperation in trade, banking, and investment outside the traditional world economic order.

With a characteristic flourish, the Iranian president insisted that "capitalism (is) dead," while nevertheless going on to encourage outside investment in Iran.  He also praised his Brazilian counterpart for turning against what he called "the evil world order."

A nuclear fuel swap deal between Iran and the West has been in limbo since January, when Iran refused to accept to trade its low-grade uranium stockpile for more highly enriched uranium.  Tehran insists the swap take place in a simultaneous operation and on its own soil.

Da Silva received an unusually warm welcome, in part because of media coverage of his diplomatic negotiations with Tehran, and in part because he was one of only a handful of heads of state to attend a non-aligned summit being dubbed the "G-15."

A senior U.S. official who spoke to reporters called the da Silva visit perhaps the last big shot at engagement with Tehran.  He said Iranian authorities have used meetings with countries like Brazil and Turkey to appear to offer what he termed a veneer of cooperation while really offering nothing in terms of a meaningful response on the nuclear issue.

U.S. officials say Iran's uranium enrichment program is weapons-related, despite Tehran's expression of peaceful intent.  They say their suspicions are reinforced by Iran's refusal to respond to confidence building proposals by world powers.

For your international reading pleasure:

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, May 17, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 95


Latin American news
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drugs in car
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía
y Seguridad Pública photo
That was not a spare tire that Fuerza Pública officers found in the back deck of a Pathfinder about 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Eventually they extracted 38 kilos and detained the 23-year-old driver.


Chávez takes over firms
that produce metal products

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his government is taking over several metal companies.

He announced Saturday Venezuela will nationalize businesses including Matesi, which produces iron briquettes, and aluminum-maker Norpro.

Venezuela began to take over Matesi from its Luxembourg-based parent company, Tenaris, last year. Chavez says he is moving to nationalize Matesi after settlement talks failed. There was no immediate comment from Tenaris or any of the companies listed for nationalization.

In recent years, Chavez has nationalized firms in many sectors, including petroleum, communications, electricity, banking and agriculture.

$2 billion is sought
to rebuild Haiti's schools

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An international development group is working to raise $2 billion in aid to help rebuild and reform Haiti's education system.

The Inter-American Development Bank is leading a proposed five-year effort to train teachers, improve facilities and adopt a national curriculum.

More than 4,000 schools were damaged or destroyed during the earthquake in January that killed more than 200,000 people.

The Inter-American Development Bank says that before the earthquake, only half of Haiti's children of primary school age were enrolled in classes.

Haitian President Rene Preval announced the plan Saturday along with Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno.




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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details