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(506) 2223-1327       Published Wednesday, May 20, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 98     E-mail us
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Residency cédula renewals now available at BCR
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Legal residents can now renew or replace their identity cédulas at 32 Banco de Costa Rica offices all over the country.

The Dirección General de Migración and the bank went online with the service Tuesday with a ceremony at Casa Presidencial. The immigration department has adopted a single format for all types of residencies, so this means that rentistas, pensionados, permanent residents and others holding a different type of residency can renew at the bank. They will get an identical cédula.

Those applying for their first cédula still will have to make their appointments directly with the immigration department.

The renewal service begins with a call to 800-BCR-CITA (800-227-2482). This is the same number Costa Ricans call to make an appointment for passport or driver's license renewal, other services offered by the bank.

During and after the telephone call, the appointments clerk checks the residency status of the caller with the immigration department. So when the foreigner shows up at the designated bank branch for the appointment, much of the paperwork already is done. At the appointment, the bank clerk collects the $48 fee and a $5 fee for delivery of the cédula via Correos de Costa Rica. The foreigner submits prints of both index fingers and poses for a photo.

The cédula is made at the immigration department based on the data collected at the bank. Janina del Vecchio, the security minister who also supervises the immigration department, said that the finished cédula should be delivered in 22 days.

She said that the new procedure would reduce lines at the immigration department in La Uruca and save foreigners money because they would not have to travel to the Central Valley. She estimated a savings of at least 5,000 colons ($8.84) for a San José resident and a savings of 48,000 colons ($85) for those living elsewhere. She included travel, accommodations and food. Of course, the actual savings would depend on the individual.

Bank officials estimate that its clerks could handle 500 appointments a day. They expect each appointment to last about 20 minutes.

There will be four bank offices accepting appointments in Guanacaste and one in Limón centro. The others are distributed across the country.
new cedula
Here are the front and back of the new cédula. They have been in use for nearly a year, but now will be available through Banco de Costa Rica.

The bank program also is designed to reduce the infamous immigration backlog. At one point, said Ms. del Vecchio, some 300,000 foreigners were awaiting immigration appointments but the department could handle just 300 a day. Some appointments were put off for more than a year, forcing foreigners to conduct their lives and businesses with expired cédulas.

The bank has experience in issuing documents. Clerks have handled 137,167 appointments for passports and 228,385 driver's license renewals, Ms. del Vecchio said.

During the afternoon ceremony a televised conferencing link showed two individuals giving their data and paying for cédulas at different Banco de Costa Rica offices.

These are the cédulas provided by the U.S. firm LaserCard Corp. The firm also provides equipment and materials for the U.S. green card program.

Ms. del Vecchio said that the new cédulas are the most secure in Latin America. They include two holograms, micro text at 12,000 dots per inch, variable contrasting inks and an ultraviolet impression. Immigration began using the new cédulas last June.

These are the improved LaserCard products. The first set of cédulas provided by the company through a Costa Rican intermediary two years ago suffered from ink that rubbed off. The new contract is valued at about $1.9 million.

The cédula carries on its face the type of residency awarded to the bearer.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 20, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 98

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

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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.


Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
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Tel: (323) 255-6116
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Psychiatrists
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office: 2246-3458 or 2246-3459
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Physicians and surgeons

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Real estate agents and services

MARGARET SOHN
with Great Estates of Costa Rica and Ocean Realty - Jacó

15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

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

Member of
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7Legal services

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Attorneys & Notaries
 Tel.  2280-9692 / 2225-9322      
e-mail: info@conjuridica.com  Web:  www.conjuridica.com
       We offer the highest professional standards with very competitive rates. All our official documentation and Notary deeds are always translated in English for better comprehension, client satisfaction and safety.
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• Immigration Law.
• Real Estate Law.
• Corporations, Foundations
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• Trademarks & Intellectual
       Property.  
• Notary public services
• Criminal Law
•Civil & Commercial 
       Litigation
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• Real Estate Transactions
•  Legal Due Diligence
• Purchase and Sale   Agreements/Options
• Trademarks 
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   general • Offshore Incorporation • Offshore Banking  • Business Law 
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Relocation services, Wedding Planning
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*Locate People   *Private Investigations

Ph/Fax: 2221-9462, 8841-0007
Our readers' opinions
Biggest killer is tobacco,
according to statistics


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

"What kills more people? Using tobacco vs alcohol?" (Tuesday letter to the editor)

Glad you asked. It is quite easy to find out via the Internet. And the answer, of course is:

"Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined. This means tobacco is the second largest cause of death in the world."
(www.co.orange.ny.us/documentView.asp?docID=3005)

"Deaths in the United States in a typical year are as follows:

    * Tobacco kills about 400,000
    * Alcohol kills about 80,000
    * Workplace accidents kill 60,000
    * Automobiles kill 40,000
    * Cocaine kills about 2,500
    * Heroin kills about 2,000
    * Aspirin kills about 2,000
    * Marijuana kills 0"
(http://www.a1b2c3.com/drugs/gen008.htm)

The references go on and on.
Robert Irwin
California and Costa Rica

He has no sympathy
for tobacco addiction


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Smoking has taken a terrible toll on my family.  My father, who was a chain smoker of unfiltered cigarettes all his adult life, died at 54 of a heart attack.  He died while smoking.  He had several heart attacks previous to his death, and his doctor had warned him he would die soon if he did not stop smoking.

My mother smoked from the age of 15 to 45.  She quit smoking at 45 because she couldn’t breath and felt like she was going to die.  After stopping smoking for a month she could breath normally again.  At 62, after several heart attacks, she had a septuple bypass surgery with up to 98 percent occlusion in her arteries.  The surgeon, without reading about her past history of smoking, knew right away when he opened up her arteries that this type of damage was from smoking.  She died at 67 of congestive heart failure.

My mother smoked while she was pregnant with me.  I am highly allergic to cigarette smoke and suffer from migraines and nearly faint when I’m exposed to it.

It’s amazing the human capacity of using denial to hold on to an addiction.  And there is no doubt about it, nicotine addiction is one of the hardest physical and emotional addictions to overcome.  Worse than alcohol.  Worse than meth.  Worse than even cocaine.  Heroine is about the only substance that is more addictive. We should call cigarette smoking what it really is, nicotine addiction.  Would you tolerate a crack addict smoking rock cocaine where you’re eating? No, I don’t think so.  So why should we non-smokers tolerate cigarette smoke?

So, excuse me if I don’t have much sympathy for nicotine addicts blowing their toxic waste in my face.  They should keep their filthy addiction to themselves and at least have the sense of a crackhead to smoke their lives away out in some dark alley away from the rest of the population.   

Jay Redden, MSW
Cahuita and Sacramento, California

His banking agreement
was full of surprises


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

After seven years of doing business here, barely, I didn't think anything about the often idiosyncratic Costa Rican banking system would/could surprise me, but my latest interaction with Banco de Costa Rica literally took my breath away!

I have a large line of credit with BCR which until last month I had completely used up. I sold a piece of property and paid off 33 percent of the balance due. Silly me, I thought that the monthly payment would automatically go down by the same percentage, about one-third, just as a credit card would. Solid financial logic, right?

When it didn't, I called the nice banker lady who handles my account and who has always been relatively good natured about explaining to me why my experience with banks/banking in the U. S. has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the National Lampoonish concepts and policies of the Tico banking system. She explained to me that the bank didn't lower the monthly payment because I didn't ASK them to lower it. What a breathtakingly PREPOSTEROUS concept!    

According to her, even if I'd paid off 99 percent of the balance, they would have still charged me the same monthly payment as before, payment be damned, until the last 1 percent was paid off unless I formally requested a lower monthly gouge. She said the bank "naturally" assumes that I'd want to pay the balance off ASAP and that I would want the extra money they were charging me to go towards capital reduction, even though I'm already paying a cap reduction rate of 10 percent annually. (By the way, they never told me there was a 10 percent payment on the capital until AFTER I'd signed the contract. Before I signed they only mentioned the 10 percent annual payment on interest. Big surprise! SUCH a deal!)

She told me that their computer system is not programmed to automatically change monthly payments based on charges/payments on lines of credit, and that everything is adjusted MANUALLY. At that point I had to prop my mouth shut with both hands. Can you imagine a financial institution depending on individual employees to decide how much the bank is owed every month and to make the adjustments by hand rather than using some good ol' fashioned computer software to do it? I can't even imagine where they'd FIND such an antiquated program like that. They must have had it specially written for them by an especially antiquated programmer.

I decided at that point that it would be utterly useless to point out to her that this sneaky little clause buried deep, deep within the bowels of the original contract gave them the right to alter the terms of the contract vis a vis interest rate and balance due, without my knowledge/permission/signature because after all, I signed the bloody contract.

The moral to the story is obvious; never-never-ever assume ANYTHING when doing business with the banks here based on your experiences with financial institutions back home, and NEVER sign any contract unless/until every single word of every single clause has been translated for you by an attorney. (I actually did have my beach-lawyer's English speaking assistant at my side when the contract was being revealed/signed, but either he slipped into REM sleep during the meeting or the clause in question didn't seem strange to him. Quien sabe?)

I'm sure it would also be very educational to ask your potential banker under what conditions they would assign to themselves the right to alter the terms of the contract without prior notice.

Tico bankers seem to have originated on some other planet where common sense is treated like toxic waste and customer service is a coffee break punchline. Just one more reason why foreign investors are looking elsewhere these days for opportunities.
Dean Barbour 
Manuel Antonio

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 20, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 98

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Del Monte pineapple facility shut down over chemicals
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo, the environmental watchdog, ordered Del Monte to close its pineapple production facilities in Siquirres Monday because of what it said were high levels of chemicals in the local water sources.

The company quickly cried foul and said it would appeal the decision. Del Monte said it purchased the facilities just a year ago and was working with the Ministerio de Salud and the tribunal to bring the pineapple plantation into conformity with the law. The company also said that it has not used the chemical bromacil around water sources and said levels found in the local water were not harmful. Bromacil is a herbicide and can be used as a pesticide.

The order to close the packing plant was not unexpected. Inspectors were at the plantation, Finca La Babilonia, in El Cairo de Siquirres, Provincia de Limón, in April and reported that encroachment violations were found. They were waiting for chemical tests of the water.

Del Monte operates the pineapple facility under its local company, Corporación de Desarrollo Agrícola Del Monte S.A. The previous owner, Fruitex, S.A., was the object of an investigation beginning in January 2006 at the request of the Asociación Justicia para la Naturaleza.

The tribunal said that laboratory tests confirm a high presence of bromacil and other agrochemicals in waste water that flowed into the Río Destierro and in water sources in Milano, El Cairo and La Francia. Some 6,000 residents are serviced by these sources, it said. The Instituto Costarricense de Acueductos y Alcantarillados has been hauling water to these communities since August 2007.

The tribunal said that the level of bromacil exceeds eight times the amount permitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The level was 4.8 micro grams per liter in samples taken
April 1, the tribunal said. The testing done by the Universidad Nacional in Heredia was validated by the Colegio de Químicos de Costa Rica. Bromacil is a marker chemical because it is mainly used in pineapple production. Bromacil was called a possible carcinogen by the tribunal. It said that the fungicides triadimephon, clorotalonil and difenoconazol also were found in the water.

Agricultural operators are supposed to keep their crops 15 meters from drainage ditches and waterways. That's 49 feet. But in photos of the inspection made April 1 and provided by the tribunal, pineapple plants are seen planted as close as possible to ditches and waterways.

The tribunal also said that drainage ditches from the pineapple fields go into waterways without any traps to remove sediment or any kind of treatment. The 600 hectares (1,480 acres) of the plantation contain many such ditches, the tribunal said.

The tribunal said that it wants the company to respect the zones of protection around waterways and install a treatment plant for the fruit -washing operation at the packing plant.

Del Monte, in a press release from Edilex Comunicación Internacional in San José said that it would appeal the closure of the pineapple facility. In a letter signed by Luis Gómez, director of corporate relations, the company said that the decision to close the plant was a surprise because the firm had been working with officials.

The letter called the studies done by the Universidad Nacional alarmist and said that the Environmental Protection Agency permits 90 micro grams of bromacil per liter of potable water.

The company also said that after it bought the plantation a year ago it began the process of building a water treatment facility. It was not clear from the letter if the treatment facility exists. The Tribunal said that it did not.


Telecom companies will have to permit wiretapping, lawmakers decide
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers decided Tuesday to require private telecom providers to join in the crime fight.

According to changes made in omnibus anti-crime bill, any company that has a telecoms concession is obligated to do what is required for the efficient operation of the Centro de Intervención de las Comunicaciones.

That is the system that the government hopes will wiretap criminals and assist in the fight against crime.

When there was only one monopoly, governmental telecommunications provider, there was no need for specific
laws on this point, but with private firms about to enter the business next year, the Comisión de Seguridad Ciudadana decided to impose a penalty of forfeiting the concession for companies that do not act in concert with police and investigators.

In most cases the actions will be stipulated by a judge.

The commission also designated nine more types of criminal investigations that could result in wiretapping. These include public corruption, sexual exploitation, making pornography, stealing money from bank accounts via the Internet, trafficking in persons and crimes of an international character. These crimes join others already designated, like terrorism.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 20, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 98


Arias and other Nobel laureates back Aung San Suu Kyi
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

President Óscar Arias Sánchez has joined with other Nobel Prize laureates to seek freedom for Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.

The president along with Desmond Tutu and Rigoberta Menchú and others sent letters to Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the United Nations, and Druin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations.

The letters ask the leaders of the international organizations to take immediate action to do what is necessary to liberate the woman and to protect other democratic activists in the country that is under the control of a military junta.

The woman faced a second day of hearings Tuesday as international criticism of her trial grew.

Hundreds of police, some in full riot gear, were deployed along roads leading to Insein prison where the trial is being held behind closed doors.

Twenty-two witnesses are expected to testify against her in the trial, which her lawyer says could last three months.

Monday, the court heard from Lt. Col. Zaw Min Aung, the police officer who signed the original complaint against the Nobel Peace laureate.

Outside of Burma, calls for her release and an end to the
trial continued. In Manila, protesters rallied in front of the Burmese Embassy, while around 400 Burmese activists and others gathered in the Burma - Thai border town of Mae Sot to show their support.

Even Burma's partners in the Association for Southeast Asian Nations — who rarely criticize one another — have expressed their "grave concern" over the trial, and warned that Burma's credibility was at stake.

Rights groups and Western governments say the trial is an excuse to extend the woman's house arrest, which is due to expire at the end of this month.

She and two female assistants were charged after an American intruder swam across a lake earlier this month and sneaked into her residence. If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison.

The American man, John Yettaw, whose unauthorized visit triggered the proceedings, is also on trial for breaking Burma's security and immigration laws.

The woman has been scheduled to be freed May 27, after six consecutive years of house arrest. She has been under house arrest for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

Her trial also comes ahead of Burma's controversial 2010 elections, which have been criticized as a sham aimed at reinforcing the Burmese military's grip on power.

The National League for Democracy won elections in 1990, but the country's military junta refused to recognize the results.

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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 20, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 98


A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertising information
A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.

Statistics
A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

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

Visiting us

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


Clinton to be U.N. envoy
to help rebuild Haiti

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has named former U.S. president Bill Clinton as his special envoy to Haiti.

The secretary-general said Tuesday he is confident that Clinton will bring energy, dynamism and focus to the task of mobilizing international support for Haiti's economic recovery and reconstruction. 

A statement issued through Clinton's foundation quotes Ban as saying he had discussed the appointment with Haiti's president, René Preval, and that the Haitian leader welcomed it on behalf of the Haitian government and people.

Clinton said it is an honor to accept the secretary-general's invitation to become special envoy to Haiti.  The two men visited Haiti in March to refocus international attention on restoring economic security to the Caribbean country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti is struggling to recover from four successive storms last year that killed hundreds of people and wiped out about 15 percent of its economic output. In April, Haiti received $324 million in new aid commitments from international donors for the next two years.

As the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, Clinton will travel to that country several times within the next year.  The post carries an annual salary of $1.

Body found a mile out to sea

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican coast guardsmen have found a body that is presumed to be that of 21-year-old Aly Zain Lakdawala, a University of South Florida student who was lost at Playa Matapalo Saturday.

The Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas said the body was found a nautical mile off Savegre about 10 p.m. Monday night. The student was swimming with three companions when all were carried away by a rip tide. The other three survived.

The young man was in Costa Rica doing volunteer work as part of his university program.


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San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 20, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 98


Latin American news digest
Investigators seeking help
in Barrio Amón murder

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have gone public seeking information from citizens over the morning murder of a 57-year-old man near the Caribbean bus station in Barrio Amón April 27.

This is the man who was walking with his wife about 9 a.m. when they were confronted by two men. One man took the victim into a lot and hit him in the head and inflicted wounds that proved fatal.

The wife screamed and attracted attention but there seem to be few witnesses. The couple lived in the area and the man was on his way to a medical appointment.

The Sección de Homicidios will receive calls at 2295-3373 or  800-8000-645, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The scene of the murder is near a riverbank where homeless congregate.

Supermarket safe cracked
by burglars in Cóbano


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Safecrackers entered the Mega Super in Cóbano on the Nicoya Peninsula early Tuesday and used a torch to open the safe. The Judicial Investigating Organization place the loss at about 25 million colons, some $44,200

The burglars entered the building via the roof and cut the alarm system before beginning work on the safe.

Athletic shoe store falls
victim to mall robbers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Bold robbers entered a Nike store in Multiplaza del Este Monday morning and made off with money and merchandise, mostly athletic shoes.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the robbers had firearms. They took an estimated 20 million colons in goods. That's about $35,500.


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