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Published Friday Edition
June 16, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 119
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New ambassador nominee faces local complexities
By Conor Golden, News Editor
of A.M. Costa Rica with wire reports

Officials at the White House confirmed Thursday morning to A.M. Costa Rica that U.S. President Donald Trump has designated Sharon Day as the new nominee for ambassador to Costa Rica.

Ms. Day is a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee being first elected back in 2011. According to a statement provided by the Office of the Press Secretary, she has served the Republican Party at state, local and national levels for more than 20 years as well as being an active political commentator and columnist.

She left the RNC in mid-January after she was expected to take a post within the Trump administration.

“Earlier in her career, she was the chief executive officer and vice president of Marketing of Stop Loss International, a general managing underwriter and reinsurance company, headquartered in Indianapolis,” a statement from the Trump administration said.

“Ms. Day has also been active in community service, including as housing authority chair for the Broward County Housing Authority and as commissioner on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.”

Ms. Day resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but was originally born in Texas, the RNC said.

She will replace S. Fitzgerald Haney as Costa Rica ambassador if confirmed by the Senate. Haney is a businessman from New Jersey who held the post since 2015. Haney was allowed to stay on as ambassador after Trump was elected, even though many other Barack Obama appointees were required to leave their posts on Inauguration Day.

Embassy officials said that they could not comment further on the nomination beyond the statements issued by the White House. Most of Ms. Day’s published statements from the RNC deal mainly in issues of domestic policy particularly in regards to women’s rights.

She has been a vehement critic of former secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the past including speeches at the most recent Republican National Conventions in 2012 and 2016.

If appointed, Ms. Day is expected to face an uphill battle as the U.S. State Dept. experiences widespread cuts in its budgets particularly in the areas of foreign assistance as well as in its diplomatic programs.

The diplomatic mission to Costa Rica will not be immune to this and neither will the Central American region.

Ms. Day will be expected to balance these financial cuts with an increasingly ambitious plan by the White House to take aggressive steps in drug trafficking, transnational crime, illegal immigration and corruption.

The Trump administration has proposed a cut of more than 30 percent in U.S. assistance to places like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in spite of simultaneously pledging a stronger commitment to the region.

These countries are notorious for increased problems related to gang violence and being among the top most murderous countries in the world.
Sharon Day
Facebook photo    
Sharon Day with then-candidate Trump.

The Trump administration has requested $460 million in assistance for the Northern Triangle in fiscal 2018, down more than 30 percent from its current $655 million allocation but still a substantial amount of money, according to John Creamer, the deputy asst. secretary of State.

Since fiscal year 2016, Congress has appropriated $1.4 billion to implement U.S. strategy in Central America, Creamer said. Advocates worry the proposed cut would negatively affect Northern Triangle economies, security and migration.

This nomination comes in the wake of the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America that opened Thursday focusing on economic, governance and security challenges in those three countries.

The two-day meeting draws government and business leaders from the United States, México, Central America and other countries. The American delegation included Vice President Mike Pence who gave the opening remarks, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

They joined the presidents of the Northern Triangle countries: El Salvador's Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Guatemala's Jimmy Morales and Honduras' Juan Orlando Hernández and México's foreign secretary, Luis Videgaray.

Representatives of Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the European Union, Nicaragua, Panamá and Spain were also invited to the Miami gathering.

Today, the conference moves to the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Florida, where Kelly, who previously served as SOUTHCOM commander, will host talks on regional security.

"While the United States is indeed the magnet that feeds drug smuggling through Central and South America, it is mostly our friends in Mexico and to the south that feel the brunt of the violence and the crime," Kelly said last month.

Pence will also participate in bilateral meetings with the Northern Triangle leaders.

A.M. Costa Rica has not confirmed if Sharon Day is in attendance at the conference. Her social media accounts appear to be last updated back in late March.

A request for comment from Ms. Day and the Republican National Committee on her nomination has not been provided at this time.

She now awaits approval for nomination from the United States Senate, which is preparing for a recess coming up in July.

Former NFL Pro Bowl punter dies in Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials from the Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed Thursday the passing of 52-year old Rick Tuten, a former Pro Bowl punter who played for ten years in the National Football League.

Agents said that Tuten was with a relative in an area around the Garabito canton that includes the popular tourist destination of Jacó.

The former punter who spent the majority of his career with the Seattle Seahawks was apparently experiencing some unknown health problems around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

A call was put in to the local Cruz Roja who responded and tried to treat him. However, the 52-year old was declared dead on site, the Judicial Investigating Organization said.
Reports say that Tuten is survived by his wife and three children.

His body has since been transferred to the Morgue Judicial for autopsy. The official cause of death has not yet been made public.

“Known during his playing days as “Bootin’ Tuten,” Tuten enjoyed a 10-year career in the NFL, including seven years in Seattle from 1991 through 1997,” a statement from the Seattle Seahawks team said.

Rick Tuten
Seattle Seahawks archive photo      
Rick Tuten during his days at Seattle.

“Tuten led the NFL with a 45.0 yard-per-punt average in 1995, and twice led the league in total punting yards. He earned Pro-Bowl honors in 1994, and Tuten later earned a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams in his final season in the NFL.”

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.
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General strike scheduled for June 29

By Rommel Téllez of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The date for a national worker's strike has been set up by the unions: June 29.

The information was confirmed to A.M. Costa Rica by Luis Chavarría, spokesperson and general coordinator of the Bloque Unitario Sindical y Social Costarricense, one of the countries biggest union federations.

Chavarría said further details on how the strike will develop will be delivered to the press in the following days, however, it is a fact that teacher's and health workers will join the movement that seeks to revoke a hike of 1 percent of the salary from in the worker's contributions to the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social.

According tot the coordinator, they only way they would call the strike off is if Caja authorities revoke the hike and the negotiations continue in good faith under the management of Fernando Llorca, the new president of the Caja who was appointed last week.

Along with the Bloque, the Patria Justa worker's confederation announced they will also join the strike despite differences that have separated their activities from those of the Bloque in the past.

 “It is a complicated story but yes, we will be there,” said Albino Vargas, spokesperson and president of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados.  “We'll try to cause the less possible trouble to patients and other users of the Caja, and we will not stop the services. However, there will be an impact and people should prepare in advance,” said Chavarría.

According to the Costa Rican law and several sentences issued by the Sala Constitucional of the Corte Suprema, health workers are entitled to strike as long as the basic and emergency services are not  totally paralyzed.

“We also encourage employers to be serious and come back to the negotiations table. We are discussing the future of our pensions systems and just walking away because the former Caja president was forced to resign is not ethical,” Chavarria added.

He refers to the Unión Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones del Sector Empresarial Privado, which is the biggest employer's union in the country. Their representatives before the negotiations committee of the Caja decided to walk away when Rocío Sáenz, quit her post as president of the Caja last week.

She strongly supported the hike in worker's contributions and employer's considered she was on the right side of the situation. They also said that President Solís made a mistake when he asked for her resignation.

As of July 1, a first 0.5 percent hike of salary contributions to Caja will go into effect, the other 0.5 percent will be effective as of January 1, 2018. This is a measure that seeks to improve the financial status of the pensions regime  which, according to Universidad de Costa Rica forecasts, could go broke as of 2028.

ICE comes under fire for contract

By Rommel Téllez of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad received harsh criticism from the Frente Amplio legislator Edgardo Araya after it signed a contract with the multinational business solutions company SAP.

According to the lawmaker, the deal implies a high risk of exposure of sensitive data and the Instituto could have used its own data centers which are running on 50 percent of their capacity. Araya said the Instituto's Modernization Program on Administration and Finance is too vulnerable.

The Instituto signed the contract with the company through an abbreviated process, where SAP would deliver cloud computing resources to develop an integrated system for managing several company's resources. The financial terms of the deal remain undisclosed.

The Frente Amplio said the company has been questioned and, in 2015, the former regional director of SAP for Latin America was sentenced to 22 months in prison in the United States for alleged bribery. At the time, the company received a $3.7 million fine.

Also in Chile, several press reports said SAP was responsible for the malfunction of a software solution  that hit the revenues of CGE, an electricity supplier.

A.M. Costa Rica requested a statement from SAP to Diana Osorio, the firm's press contact for Latin America, however no answer was provided before the deadline.

After the legislator's allegations, the Instituto justified the contract by explaining it's had been negotiated for two years in a total transparent way. It also said that the department of purchases found no reason to deny the deal, according to an internal press statement.

The document also explains how 10 other companies also bid for the contract but half of them were software developers and not implementers of the service. The statement says the other half of participants made it through  the rest of the audiences but SAP offered the lower cost and the service that seemed more fit to the Instituto needs.

The software solution service was granted to the company since Aug. 2015 and the contract is available for anyone to see, the document reads.

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad photo       
Workers help to remove lizard from job site.

500 animals relocated from job site

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 500 animals were rescued near the Las Pailas II geothermal plant being built by the Costa Rican electricity institute.

According to a statement by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, most of the rescued animals include reptiles with more than half being snakes and lizards. Deer and pizotes were also commonly found and relocated in areas away from the works, Laura Artavia, the project’s biologist, said.

The process begins usually when the area becomes zoned for construction and temporary buildings set up for crews, ICE said. The two geothermal fields in operation at Las Pailas and Miravalles have allowed for the recovery of hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests previously turned into pastures for grazing cattle by ranchers since the 1950s. Essentially, ICE seeks to emphasize that the work is more environmentally friendly both during and after the construction.

A study carried out by the Japan International Cooperation Agency ruled out that the development of Campo Pailas II wiould produce significant environmental impacts in the areas surrounding the Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja, the institute said.

“Thanks to this renovation, ICE has managed to connect small areas that survived as forest patches, creating a unique mantle repopulated by numerous species of flora and fauna and protecting the source of water,” Eddy Sánchez, the director of geothermal resources said.

The institute has six geothermal plants in operation, mainly located in Guanacaste, with an installed capacity to produce over 206 megawatts of energy, the group said.

asphalt plant
Casa Presidencial photo        
Zona Sur's new asphalt plant at Paso Real.

Zona Sur receives new asphalt plant

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A few municipalities in Costa Rica’s Zona Sur will now receive some asphalt at a low cost thanks to the creation of a new asphalt plant.

According to a statement from the government, the plant will solve the needs of the municipalities of Pérez Zeledón, Corredores, Golfito, Osa, San Vito, Buenos Aires and Coto Brus. The plant was inaugurated by President Luis Guillermo Solís. It is located in the Paso Real community of Buenos Aires in Puntarenas province, where it will produce the materials that the municipalities need to repair roads.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes is currently training personnel who will be in charge of operating the plant. A total of seven operators will be heading the entire production process of the asphalt mix, public works officials said.

Total investment came directly from the public works ministry at a total of around 1.2 million colons, officials said. The plant has the capacity to produce about 600 metric tons of asphalt per dat.

The land where the plant sits on is part of a lease belonging to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

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New road in Limón worries animal activists over lack of protection
By Rommel Téllez of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The construction of a new road between Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and Manzanillo, both in Limón province, does not consider bridges or tunnels to protect wild animals from getting zapped by electrical shock, hit by cars and other accidents, according to Marvin Gómes, mayor of Talamanca.

This situation worries animal welfare activists who have been working on providing security to the local species who are affected by the development in the area.

According to the mayor, the construction of the road began 45 days ago with the removal of some illegal constructions and the widening of the road. It will be ready in the next 18 month and then the municipality will look into the animal safety issues.

“We have that in second place,” said Gomés. “We do care for the well-being of the local fauna but we will address those concerns once the road is ready.”

“In the meantime, we will keep in touch with the neighbors and pay close attention on how to not damage the environment, but in regards to other infrastructure, we will wait until the first phase is over,” the mayor added.

Every day sloths, monkeys, pizotes and other animals are hurt while crossing from one side of the Puerto Viejo street to the other. Most of them get hit by drivers unintentionally or get electrocuted while climbing the electrical wires.

This is such a common situation, that it has forced some organizations to design and build safe bridges that allow the animals to move around with reduced risks. One of them is the Jaguar Rescue Center, which has seen an increase in the amount of hurt animals due to the human presence in the Puerto Viejo jungles. The center helps them with their healing, rehabilitation and re-settlement into the wild.

“I would say sloths and monkeys suffer the most accidents due to electricity shocks,” said Encarnación García, director of the center.

“Amputations are as well the most common consequence of these incidents, as the burns and tissue damage is so serious that we are left with no other choice.”

Electrocuted monkey
Jaguar Rescue Center photo
One of the unfortunate victims from electrocution.

The director openly showed her opposition to the construction of the new road, as it will pose more danger to the already vulnerable population of animals. “We should have, at least, one bridge every kilometer and the same goes for tunnels. I've talked to engineers of the project but even if they understand the need of these, they can't do much,” she explained.

According to Ms. García, concerned neighbors are meeting together to address the issue even if the municipality can not help as they wish.

“We are not really fond of this new highway because nobody asked for it.” Ms. García said. “We prefer a more rural lifestyle, which is what Puerto Viejo is known for.”

UNESCO designates Savegre as a new, protected biosphere reserve
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On Thursday, in Paris, the International Co-ordinating Council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Program on Man and the Biosphere designated the Savegre Reserve as a part of its protected areas.
The Savegre Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 312,914 hectares and contains a large part of the country's biodiversity: 20 percent of flora, 54 percent of mammals and 59 percent of birds.

It has 50,000 inhabitants who are mainly engaged in agriculture, livestock and recreational fishing.
According to the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía, this designation is the result of national policies for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and the country's commitment to sustainable development.

Costa Rica already has reserves in the biosphere, however, this represents the first that includes a coast.
Biosphere Reserves are places for learning about sustainable development that combine the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources.

Savegre Reserve
UNESCO photo   
Kayaker explores the wonders of the Savegre biosphere.

The Program on Man and the Biosphere is an intergovernmental scientific program whose objective is to improve relations between the inhabitants of the planet and its natural environment.

Currently, there are 669 reservations in 120 countries.

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Study says Amazon damming has implications for Central America
By the University of Texas at Austin press staff

Hundreds of built and proposed hydroelectric dams may significantly harm life in and around the Amazon by trapping the flow of rich nutrients and modifying the climate from Central America to the Gulf of Mexico.

These findings, published in “Nature,” emerge from a multidisciplinary, international collaboration of researchers from 10 universities, led by scientists at The University of Texas at Austin.

To meet energy needs, economic developers in South America have proposed 428 hydroelectric dams, with 140 currently built or under construction, in the Amazon basin, the largest and most complex network of river channels in the world, which sustains the highest biodiversity on Earth.

The rivers and surrounding forests are the source of 20 percent of the planet’s fresh water and valuable ingredients used in modern medicine.

While these hydroelectric dams have been justified for providing renewable energy and avoiding carbon emissions, little attention has been paid to the major disturbances dams present to the Amazon floodplains, rainforests, the northeast coast of South America and the regional climate, the researchers said.

Rivers in the Amazon basin move like a dance, exchanging sediments across continental distances to deliver nutrients to a mosaic of wetlands, said Edgardo Latrubesse, geography and the environment professor and lead author of the study. Sediment transported by rivers provides nutrients that sustain wildlife, contribute to the regional food supplies and modulate river dynamics that result in high habitat and biotic diversity for both aquatic and non-aquatic organisms.

“People say ‘oh another dam, another river.’ It’s not. It’s the Amazon,” said Latrubesse, who is a faculty affiliate of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies.

“We have to put the risks on the table and change the way people are looking at the problem. We are massively destroying our natural resources, and time urges us to find some rational alternatives for preservation and sustainable development.”

“To not have an integrated approach is to deny how nature works in the Amazon basin,” said Victor Baker, University of Arizona Regents' Professor of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences and co-author of the study.” Our role is to show how nature works and that nature is integrated.”

Baker stressed that the Amazon is the most important river basin on the planet. It’s a microcosm of our issues of today involving environment, energy and health of the planet.

Amazon sediments nourish the largest preserved mangrove region of South America, along the coastline of northeast Brazil and the three Guianas, and past research has shown the sediments affect rainfall and storm patterns from the Amazon basin to Gulf of Mexico, Latrubesse said.

NASA photo    
Photo taken from space of the Río Ucayali, one of the Amazon Basin's major tributaries, flowing through Perú.

“The dimension of the impacts can be not only regional, but also on an interhemispheric scale,” Latrubesse said. “If all the planned dams in the basin are constructed, their cumulative effect will trigger a change in sediment flowing into the Atlantic Ocean that may hinder the regional climate.”

In the study, Latrubesse and collaborators introduced the Dam Environmental Vulnerability Index, which was developed to determine the current and potential impacts of dams on rivers and their ecosystems in the Amazon basin. The index values quantify on a scale of 0 to 100 an area’s vulnerability to potential land use change, erosion, runoff pollution, trapped sediment and overall changes to river systems due to dams.

Researchers found that many of the existing dams are located in areas of high sediment yield, such as the Andean Cordillera, which provides more than 90 percent of the detrital sediment to the entire system.

The Marañon and Ucayali rivers are the most vulnerable in this area with 104 and 47 dams planned or constructed dams on each river, respectively. The researchers estimated 68 to 80 percent of the area upstream of the lowermost planned dam in these rivers will remain unprotected from dam influence, modifying the rivers’ dynamics, altering the creation of oxbow lakes and branches, decreasing floods and floodplain sediment storage, and putting thousands of species of birds, fish and trees at risk.

The Madeira River, which accounts for about half of the Amazon River system’s total sediment transported from Bolivia and Perú and is home to the most diverse fish population in the Amazon, has the highest index values greater than 80 and faces extreme risks of potential land use change, erosion, runoff pollution and trapped sediment.

Here, two huge dams were recently constructed, the Santo Antônio and Jiaru dams, which led to a 20 percent decrease in the average sediment concentration in the Madeira despite unusually high flood discharges in 2014 and 2015. Researchers expect a greater amount of the nutrient-rich sediment to soon be trapped by the additional trapping effect of 25 dams planned further upstream.

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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.

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

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All our handcrafted products are made in Sarchi with pride and quality by artisans who are dedicated to designing, crafting, and delivering our furniture to you. Please visit our website and send us a picture and specifications of what YOU like, or just send us pictures from anywhere you wish. We will quote you right back with a more than competitive price and an on-time delivery date. Delivery and set up available throughout Costa Rica. We have different Costa Rican woods from which you may choose.
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The IRS has become more aggressive and if you have not filed, you must do so.  However, there are solutions to problems and your situation may be better than you think.

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Spectacular rentals are available for low weekly prices on at resorts such as Bahia Turquesa Residences and Villas Sol Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. We have 
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Published || Friday Edition, June 16, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 119
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Havana Capitolio
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Mónica Aguirre      
The Capitolio building in Old Havana.

Trump tightens Cuba policy
relaxed during Obama years

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Donald Trump on Friday will begin rolling back some of his predecessor's actions that were meant to engage Cuba after more than a half-century of isolation by the United States.

The actions, to be unveiled by the president in Miami's Little Havana district on Friday, will tighten travel restrictions for Americans and ban doing business with the island nation's military conglomerate, GAESA, which is estimated to control more than half of the Cuban economy.

Supporters of President Obama's opening to Cuba say reinstating tougher travel and business restrictions will have the opposite of their intended effect.

Brett Bruen, who as director of global engagement in the Obama administration played a role in loosening the policy of isolating Cuba, said Trump's policy will not only set back relations with Cuba, but with much of Latin America.

“Returning to the days of barriers and blockades will hurt American foreign policy, it will hurt American companies, and ultimately we will bear the brunt of the consequences.”

Trump administration officials briefing reporters Thursday said some things will not change. There will be no intention in new regulations to be drafted to disrupt the existing business that has occurred intended to give relief to Americans who have made significant recent investments in Cuba and there aren't any changes on regulations for Americans to legally bring back such popular items as rum and cigars, according to a White House official.

U.S. officials say the president is keeping a campaign promise to crack down on Cuba due to increased human rights abuses.

The Trump administration has been criticized for not taking a consistent approach on human rights globally.

Marguerite Jimenez, senior associate for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America, called the policy reversal fundamentally misguided.

“There is no question that Cuba ought to do more to permit its citizens full freedom of expression and association,” Ms. Jimenez said. “However, a return to failed policies of the past will inevitably halt progress and only make life more difficult for Cubans on the island.”

The United States imposed an embargo on Cuba, a former Spanish colony in the Caribbean, in 1960, two years after communist revolutionary Fidel Castro ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Subsequent decades of sanctions failed to remove Castro and his brother, Raul, from power. Obama re-established diplomatic relations and that will not be affected by Trump's measures.

There will also be no return to the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which Obama ended after 20 years shortly before he left office in January.

Its end meant that Cuban nationals who were able to touch American soil could stay and become permanent residents after one year while those caught at sea were returned to the island nation.

Central America meet opens
with pledge of stronger ties

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States pledged a strong commitment to Central America while urging those nations to help stop illegal and dangerous migration, defeat transnational drug cartels and gangs, and end corruption.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said he plans to travel to Central and South America later this year.

"Be assured, the United States is proud of our strong partnership with nations in the Northern Triangle. We are committed to strengthening that partnership so that we can continue to address the significant problems facing our neighborhood," Pence added.

Top U.S. officials said what happens in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala directly affects the security and economic interests of the U.S. and other countries in the region.

"In order to boost economic prosperity, it is imperative that we work together to strengthen the formal economy and diminish the economic drivers of illegal migration and other illicit activities," said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The top U.S. diplomat reaffirmed Washington's pledge to the region, despite a 2018 budget that proposes a significant cut in aid to those countries.

"This is no way an indication that somehow our interest is diminished in the region," said Tillerson, adding that even with the cut, "there is substantial money in the budget to continue our commitment" to support our joint security and law enforcement.

"A convulsing Central America, faced with a lack of opportunities and with violence, is a power risk for the United States, Mexico and the region," said Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

Cabinet members from President Donald Trump's administration, senior officials from México, presidents from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, along with senior delegates from Latin America gathered in Miami for the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America.

The conference is seen as the result of the close work done by the U.S. and México in recent months. But critics warned that both countries are turning a blind eye to the root cause of Central America's humanitarian crisis.

"Given the extraordinarily high violence at the root of the problem, there should be attention to the emergency needs of people forced from their homes," said Jason Cone, Doctors Without Borders USA Executive Director.

Every year, it is estimated that 500,000 people flee the Northern Triangle nations. The high level of violence in the Northern Triangle ranks alongside the world's deadliest war zones and is the main driver of migration from this region, according to Doctors Without Borders.

A three-pronged approach is recommended by some experts to address the root cause, with a focus on sustainable economic development, strengthening the rule of law and improving security.

"Our approach should focus on a shared partnership," said Jason Marczak, who heads the Atlantic Council's Latin America Economic Growth Initiative.

"One of the big challenges that we see in the Northern Triangle is a fact that the judiciaries are weak, impunity rates are incredibly high, cases are not prosecuted," said Marczak, adding that the rampant corruption has a negative impact on people's trust in government and foreign businesses eyeing investment in the region.

Some analysts cautioned the Trump administration not to make a further shift in policy, from aid-based efforts to a more military-focused approach.

"With a reduced foreign assistance budget, it is clear the U.S. is putting a greater emphasis on private-sector actors in spurring economic development," the Center for Economic and Policy Research's Jake Johnston said Thursday.

"Just as much of this conference will be held behind closed doors, so too is U.S. assistance to Central America incredibly opaque," he added.

On Friday, the conference moves to the U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Florida, where U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security John Kelly, who previously served as SOUTHCOM commander, will host talks on regional security.

"While the United States is indeed the magnet that feeds drug smuggling through Central and South America, it is mostly our friends in Mexico and to the south that feel the brunt of the violence and the crime," Kelly said last month.

Chaco Culture Historical Park
Voice of America photo       
Chaco Culture National Historic Park.

Footsteps through the past
in New Mexico national park

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Strolling through a tranquil landscape of lush meadows and meandering streams in northern New Mexico, it was hard for national parks traveler Mikah Meyer to imagine that this area was once rocked by a violent force of nature.

1.25 million years ago, a supervolcano blew its top, creating a 21-kilometer wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera.

“It really is this gorgeous bowl of pure grass, with mountains on every side, and it's a stunning thing to look at, coming from the rest of New Mexico that is so mountainous everywhere, and so dry,” Mikah said.

The ancient land where ancestral natives once lived is one of the newest sites to be protected by the National Park Service. Today, Valles Caldera National Preserve is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the second largest elk population in New Mexico as well as Gunnison prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, black bears, Eastern mountain bluebirds, golden eagles and bobcats.

People often say that it’s the journey that matters more than the destination, but that certainly wasn’t the case as Mikah made his way northwest to the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.

According to the young traveler, who’s one-third of the way through his quest to visit all 417 national park sites within the U.S., this was the hardest park to get to so far.

“It was 20-some miles of rough, rough gravel roads. I mean I easily was going 4 to 5 miles per hour and even then the van was shaking and it was probably the worst experience I've had accessing a park.”

But he realized the rough ride was worth it, once he arrived at his destination.

Chaco has approximately 4,000 prehistoric archaeological sites, including 16 great houses, the largest, best preserved, and most complex prehistoric architectural structures in North America. Altogether, the park's prehistoric and historic archaeological sites represent more than 10,000 years of human cultural history in Chaco Canyon.

In addition to its remarkably well-preserved structures, the park is also known for its spectacular night skies. On August 19, 2013, Chaco Culture distinguished itself by becoming the world's newest International Dark Sky Park , one of only four National Park sites to receive this distinction.

According to the International Dark-Sky Association, the designation is given to a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.

In recognition of its rich archaeological resources, Chaco Culture National Historical Park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Native Americans want
review of origin theory

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

It’s one of the most contentious debates in anthropology today: Where did America’s first peoples come from and when? The general scientific consensus is that a single wave of people crossed a long-vanished land bridge from Siberia into Alaska around 13,000 years ago. But some Native Americans are irked by the theory, which they say is simplistic and culturally biased.

The first European explorers to reach the Americas looked to the Bible to explain the origins of the people they encountered and misnamed “Indians.” Biblical tradition holds that humans were created some 4,000 years ago and that all men descend from Adam including indigenous peoples whom Europeans regarded as primitive.

“Dominant science believed in a concept of superiority,” said Alexander Ewen, a member of the Purepecha Nation and author of the “Encyclopedia of the American Indian in the Twentieth Century.”

“And that created an idea that either people were genetically inferior or that there were stages of civilization, and Indians were at a lower stage,” he said.

Since primitives weren’t sophisticated enough to have sailed the oceans, early scientists concluded Indians had reached North America by some unknown land route. They found their answer in the Bering Strait.

Ewen says that theory cemented into dogma and persists to this day, even in the face of new discoveries and technology that suggests Indians arrived much earlier and by different routes.

In the 1930s, scientists examined a pile of mammoth bones in Clovis, N.M., where they found distinctive spear points. Since then, tens of thousands of “Clovis points” have been found across North America and as far south as Venezuela. Scientists decided the Clovis people must have been America’s first peoples, arriving 13,000 years ago.

Excavations in the 1970s pushed the date even further back, to as much as 16,000 years ago. Archaeologist James Adovasio dated artifacts found at Pennsylvania’s Meadowcroft Rockshelter to be up to 16,000 years old, to harsh criticism.

Other branches of science have weighed in: In 1998, University of California-Berkeley linguist Johanna Nichols argued that it would have taken up to 50,000 years for a single language to diversify into the many languages spoken by modern Native American groups. That meant ancient Indians would have to have arrived 19,000 years ago.

Geologists have complicated matters by suggesting that the Bering Strait wasn’t passable until 10 or 12,000 years ago. This gave way to theories that early humans might have sailed down the Pacific coast into the New World.

Meanwhile, in 2015, Harvard University geneticist Pontus Skoglund discovered DNA links between Amazon Indians and the indigenous peoples in Australia and New Guinea.

In the past decade, Smithsonian Institution anthropologist Dennis Stanford met scathing criticism for suggesting Stone Age Europeans paddled across the Atlantic thousands of years before Columbus. In April of this year, researchers in California analyzed crushed mastodon bones they said were butchered by humans 130,000 years ago, a theory the bulk of scientists, including Adavasio, rejects not because it’s not possible, he stipulates, but because the data isn’t conclusive.

Should science consider the origin beliefs of tribes themselves?

Montana’s Blackfoot tradition holds that the first Indians lived on the other side of the ocean, but their creator decided to take them to a better place. “So he brought them over the ice to the far north,” the account reads.

The Hopi people of Arizona say their ancestors had to travel through three worlds, finally crossing the ocean eastward to a new and final new world. And Oklahoma’s Tuskagee people believe the Great Spirit chose them to be the first people to live on the earth.

Congressional ball game
goes on despite shooting

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The old rule that there is no crying in baseball was not in effect Thursday night in Washington at the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

The event held this year at Nationals Park, home of the major league Washington Nationals, was an emotional affair, coming a day after a gunman opened fire at the Republican team practice, wounding four.

Congressman Steve Scalise, who was supposed to be playing second base for the Republican team, was instead lying in a hospital bed after being critically wounded in the hip. Also shot were a congressional aide, a lobbyist and a Capitol Police officer.

Both teams gathered on the field and kneeled in prayer for his recovery.

Capitol Police officer David Bailey, who chased down the gunman despite being wounded himself, hobbled out to the pitcher's mound on crutches to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game.

Bailey's actions helped prevent what could have been a bloodbath, officials have said.

The Congressional Baseball Game began shortly after its scheduled start of 7:05 p.m. Thursday.

The game is a long-standing summer tradition in Washington, with teams of Republican and Democratic lawmakers competing on the ball field, even in present times, when fractious political debates are the norm.

Congressional members decided Wednesday that the game would be played Thursday as scheduled, with one change. Instead of being played on the ball field in Virginia, it will now be held at Nationals Park in Washington.

Democrat and Republican teams have put aside politics for one night since 1909 to meet on the baseball diamond and raise money for charity.

About 20,000 people turned out for Thursday night's game, raising more than $1 million for the Washington Literacy Center, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and The Capitol Police Memorial Fund.

The question now is can the unity last after the Democrats routed the Republicans by a final score of 11-2.

More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

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Costa Rica

Costa Rica Penthouse For Sale

 Enjoy the most spectacular views in the valley in this 5 -story Penthouse.  One of a kind property on top of the Corobici / Crowne Plaza 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 plus other businesses.  Large Living Room, Elevator goes directly inside Penthouse.  Private hot tub deck and Dance floor with Spectacular views!!!  All exterior walls are glass or have windows. Commercial license is in place.  Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $695K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,500 per month on an annual basis.  This is a private condo residence and is Not associated with the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  

Go to  
U.S. contact: Carl Stratton, cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email
Costa Rica contact:  Dan Wise, phone numbers:  2232-4063 / 2232-8610  Email:

Costa Rica's first Realtor specialized
in eco properties, eco consulting and green living.

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   • Property management in the Jacó area

Romantic Country Bungalow Click Here
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Rich Coast Realty
Rich Coast Realty
Real Estate and Construction in the Central Pacific
Three-bedroom furnished house in gated beach community, walk to the beach, $235k. Ocean View Property, can be subdivided into four view lots, 10 minutes from the beach. Only $40,000! Beachfront Lots from $35,000!Contact us with any questions you have about buying property in Costa Rica, Construction, Residency, etc.
12 years’ experience in Costa Rica Real Estate.

Have a Property For Sale? Contact Us!
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
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San Ramon home
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed,  Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike:  (please link that email)
Check out slide show HERE!

Santiago de Puriscal
A little piece of paradise near Santiago de Puriscal,
Costa Rica.

16 acres (approximately).  Price: $425,000 USD

We are selling our beautiful finca that has been in the family for 37 years. It is located 3 miles (5 km.) northwest of Santiago de Puriscal in the village of Desamparaditos. We are looking for a discriminating buyer who would appreciate the location, views, flora and fauna. Excellent for artists, writers and nature lovers. Fantastic birding. Very private but not isolated. Have surveyed plans for possible subdividing.

For more information:  In the U.S.A. call the owners: Pete & Debbie Todd: 970 -221-1457 or 970-581-4826 or email In Costa Rica call Liz Guegan at 506-7187-8577.
CODE: 9216-8/11/17

Puriscal home
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
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:
Community Web Site:
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email

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

In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:
In the USA and Canada contact Jim Day: or call 517-484-3675

For more information Click Here:

Etlinger Farm
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 and photo album can be found at

horse ranch
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  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:

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 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 

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:

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Century 21

A Name You Trust,
Professionalism You Deserve

Tom Ghormley and the dream team!
in CR since 1979

Buying? Selling? Renting?
We Can Do It!
Let us help you live your dreams!
Beachfront, Views, Mountains,
Beaches, Houses, Condos,
Hotels, Restaurants, Projects,
Commercial, Investments and more

 Century 21 Jacó Beach Realty
Playa Jacó, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
U. S. A. phone numbers:  (213) 283-5168 
or Toll Free: (877) 746-3868
Costa Rica phone number: (506) 2643-3356

Tamarindo 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:  or click here

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

Playas del Coco Click Here!

Playa Panama Click Here!

Playa Hermosa Click Here!
Peninsula Papagayo Click Here!

Playa Matapalo Click Here!
Toll Free 1-877-293-1456


Real estate-related services (paid category)

A-1 graphic
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
     For more info also see our sites: 

Costa Rica

Serving Atenas and Surroundings Areas

BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill. More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.  Fully Guaranteed!

Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398



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 help you find a buyer or renter.

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Published || Friday Edition, June 16, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 119
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News from the BBC up to the minute

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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute

Grand water tank
RECOPE photo      
The grand water tank supplying hot water heated by solar power.

Fossil fuel company is going green

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In order to generate some hot water for one of its buildings, the Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo is not going to burn more gasoline. Instead, it will use solar power to generate hot water.

RECOPE, as it is commonly known as, installed 12 new solar thermal collectors on the roof of the facilities’ parking lot at the Plantel del Moín. The tank that those panels are generating energy for was placed in front of the dining room of the gas company’s building. Appropriately too, as expats should not get too excited. The solar panels will be used to heat water in a tank for use of the company’s soda.

Estimates made by RECOPE say that the investment and the panels will save about 2,000 kilowatt hours. A statement released by the company said that the system will run on solar radiation however it also said that a backup generator will also be present to provide for those rainy or cloudy days.

All in all, that segment of the ironic project to use renewables cost the fossil fuel company around 11.5 million colons, RECOPE said. This adds to the other solar panels added to the company’s facilities at PlantelMoín.

Additionally, other facilities using solar panels include the group’s building in San José and the campus in El Alto, Cartago province. The company also added that it uses LED lights to save on energy too at its area near Juan Santamaría airport.

“On average, there were more than 21,000 kilowatt hours per month, representing savings of 3.5 million colons per month, according to measurements and the corresponding electricity tariff,” a statement from the group said. “This prevented the emission of 33 tons of CO2 or greenhouse gases, thus contributing to the conservation of the environment and combating global warming.”

The find
Ministerio Público photos         
The cocaine packages received an oyster shell burial.

Cocaine buried in shell-covered pit

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

After some surveillance and investigation, judicial agents arrested a 50-year old man for possession of cocaine in the sector of Sierpe de Osa Thursday morning.

According to a preliminary report provided by the Judicial Investigating Organization, the investigators entered a property consisting of two houses and three warehouses. The review of the property led to a pit covered up by a huge pile of oyster shells. Investigators said that the pit was made using a tank from truck and within were nearly 681 packages of cocaine each being around one kilo.

The man is in custody and the drugs seized. A statement from the Ministerio Público said that the drugs will be analyzed to establish the exact amount and purity.

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Real Estate
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From page 7:

Costa Rica and Chile strengthen trade ties

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A delegation of Costa Rican and Chilean foreign trade representatives met this week in order to strengthen ties between the two countries.

Between 2001 and 2015, trade between Costa Rica and Chile grew nearly 455 percent, according to data provided by the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior. The annual average growth as a result of that was nearly 11.5 percent, the ministry said. Most of the goods going to Chilean markets include: food preparations, plastic packaging, frozen fruits, pineapple, adhesives, pasta, aluminum scrap and gaskets.

The delegations agreed upon some concrete actions to favor further growth, diversification and strengthening of the bilateral trade relationship as well as investment flows, Comercio Exterior said. To that end, both parties established the rules and procedures for the Subcomisión de Libre Comercio and the creation of the secretariat within the confines of the new free trade treaty, the foreign ministry said.

A commitment was also made so that Chilean and Costa Rican technicians in charge of subjects related to origin would hold meetings on rules of origin and establish a work program on the certification of electronic origin, the ministry said. Lastly, customs procedures, sanitary measures, intellectual property rights and investment between the two countries were also discussed.