exchange rate
A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language 
news source
Monday through Friday

These stories were published Wednesday, June 22, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 122
Jo Stuart
About us

A.M. Costa Rica photos/Jesse Froehling
The traditional marimbas are joined by drums near the Banco Central.

A celebration of music entralls the town
By Jesse Froehling
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For the last five years, Ticos have celebrated the summer solstice with the Día de la Música.  Tuesday was no different. 

Formal acts took place on temporary stages erected in the Plaza de la Cultura, the Plaza del Correo, Parque Central, under the gazebo in Parque Morazán, and a spot a half-block south of Parque España.  Several impromptu acts drew crowds on Avenida Central as well.

Formally, the event started at 11:15 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. but even before the scheduled start, several people were already banging away at their instrument of choice in the streets.  Once the stages were erected, acts were divided up by genre of music.  Traditional Central American artists took the stage at Plaza La Cultura, while classical musicians started the day at Plaza del Correo.  Then in the afternoon, the acts became modern rock.

However, the regulations seemed to be more suggestions than mandates.  In the afternoon, the Grupo Visiones, playing on the traditional music stage, covered Coldplay's “Yellow,” but no one seemed to care.  Young and old could be seen tapping their toes to the beat. 

Early on, the weather cooperated but once the afternoon rain started, Plaza Cultura

 The Grupo Tambastantik had little trouble   
 making itself heard downtown.

cleared out quickly as observers without umbrellas scattered for various overhangs lining Avenida Central.  The artists — under tents — kept playing. 

To perform in the formal venues, artists simply had to write to the Centro Cultural Francia, said Manuel Arce, director of the Centro Cultural Costarricense – Norteamericano.   

“The idea came from France,” said Arce.  “It brings together people from all cultures, countries, politics, and economic backgrounds just to celebrate music.”

our daily
our site
2004 photo contest
Send us
news story
Visit our
Visit our
Visit our
Display ad info









A.M. Costa Rica

Second news page

Place a classified ad
Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 22, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 122

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd E-mail Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-9393

Or call us at 305-3965  or 370-2189
Click HERE for great hotel discounts

Pay raises in minimums
established at 7.3%

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Minimum wages in Costa Rica will go up 7.3 percent as of July 1. That was the decision Tuesday afternoon of the Consejo Nacional de Salarios.

Unions and worker representatives sought 10.75 percent in their official proposal to the consejo last week.

The decision affects anyone who has an employee in Costa Rica if the employee would be earning less than the new minimums by July 1. Minimums are set by job category and are for the last half of the year.

The adjustments are necessary because of the continual programmed devaluation of the colon currency and inflation in general. The colon has only been devalued about 4 percent since the first of the year but inflation has been about 6.37 percent, triggered in part by jumps in world fuel prices.

In addition to paying more money, employers will have to pay more to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social because these payments are a percentage of gross pay.

Former embassy official
getting ambassadorship

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Linda Jewell, the woman who was in charge of the U.S. Embassy here during and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States, is being nominated by President George Bush to be ambassador to Ecuador.

A career member of the senior foreign service, Ms. Jewell currently serves as deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the White House said. She previously served as director of the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State.

Ms. Jewell earned her bachelor's degree from Yale University and her master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.

When the terror attacks took place, John J. Danilovich had been nominated to be ambassador here but had not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  Ms. Jewell, as chargé d'affairs, was the chief spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy and received the condolences and special tributes from a host of Costa Rican officials.

In a statement at the time she said "We hope that Sept. 11 will not be simply remembered as the day in which the World Trade Center towers fell but as the day in which the end of international terrorism and the incredible evil that it engenders was announced."

Air travel from Costa Rica to the United States was halted for five days immediately after the attacks, and many U.S. citizens were stranded here.

Fund-raising dinner
for 'Madam Butterfly'

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

“Madam Butterfly,” the opera about the love of a Japanese Geisha and a North American navy officer is coming to Teatro Popular Melico Salazar.

A formal dinner will be held Thursday at the Costa Rica Country Club in Escazú to raise the approximately 60 million colons ($126,000) needed to fund the production.  Tickets to the dinner are $100.  A reception will be held from 7 pm to 8 pm after the dinner and a small group accompanied by a pianist is scheduled to sing a short program.

Tickets can be bought from Hellen Estrada 228-5805 and from Kathryn de Tanzi 381-7747  or Seats are limited.     

The premier of eight showings of the opera at Teatro Popular Melico Salazar will take place July 29 at 8 p.m. and will run through Aug. 12.  Ticket prices vary from 2,000 colons to 20,000 colons.

The Compañía Lírica Nacional will put on the opera.

Murder suspect's body
found in Liberia lot

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend and her 15-year-old sister a week ago was found dead Tuesday morning in a lot in the center of Liberia. 

Police identified the body as that of 39-year-old Manuel Francisco Castro Valdelomar.  They suspected the death was a suicide although they weren't able to determine the cause.  A backpack was found next to the body with bullets for a .38-caliber gun and a 9-mm one but no gun. 

The murder took place last week in Barrio La Gallera in Liberia.  Apparently, the woman, 22, had left him, so he came to where she was living and shot her and her younger sister.   

Police conducted extensive searches of the area, including where the body was found.

Bogus taxi driver
is really a robber

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials with the Judicial Investigating Organization  have issued a warning about a man with a fake taxi who robs potential fares.  Police say he prowls the area primarily south of San José and has struck in Alajuelita, San Francisco de Dos Rios, San Antonio de Desamparados, Zapote, and Asserí, among others.   

The man preys mostly on women who are walking alone, but men have been robbed too.  Police have received approximately 30 complaints but believe there may be more. 

Some of the victims have described the man as a dark skinned male in his 30s with a strong build, dark eyes, and short greasy hair that is balding.  He may also have a tattoo on his left arm. 

Others describe him as light skinned, in his 40s with a graying mustache and hair. 

Either way, he is smart about avoiding recognition.  All complaints say that he only picks up people who come from the back of his cab or were blinded by his headlights.  He also works only at night and never gets out of the cab. 

Some of the victims have have noticed the numbers in the yellow triangles: 1941, 1914, 1911 and 4563 but no one remembers if the initials above were SJP or the more legitimate TSJ.    

Ferry was  out of action

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Paquera-Puntarenas ferry was out of service Tuesday afternoon, and there was no word yet if the boat will be back on its normal passenger and cargo runs today.

The ferry is a major travel link to the southern Nicoya Peninsula and in addition to tourists, carries cargo trucks with food and other supplies.

The problem Tuesday was blamed on engine trouble.
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.

Real estate agents and services

formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

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

Member of
Costa Rican-American
Chamber of Commerce
(506) 291-2825 & (506) 291-2826
fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
Selling? Buying? We can do it!
Lic. Tomas Ghormley H., MBA - Owner/Broker
Beachfront, Views, Mountains, Lots, Farms, Beaches, Houses, Condos. Hotels, Restaurants, Projects, Commercial, Investments

First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
  Escrow services
  Title Transfers
  Title Guarantees
  Trust Services
  Investment Services
Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.


James Brohl C.P.A, M.B.A

U.S. Income Tax 
U.S. GAAP Accounting, 
Business Consulting
Providing U.S. Tax return preparation including back reporting and all other filing issues, accounting services 
and business consulting.

Telephone 305-3149 or 256-8620


Williams Dental & Associates
Integral dentistry
Dr. John Williams
¥ General dentistry 
¥ Endodontics
¥ Oral rehabilitation
¥ Prosthodontics
¥ Periodontics
¥ Dental prevention
¥ Maxillofacial surgery implants

Guachipelín, Escazú

U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol

Legal services

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorney at Law
Villalobos and Savings Unlimited Collections
*Investments  *Corporations *Tax Shelters
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
    *Immigration  *Intellectual Property
*Business procedures  *Family and Labor Law
*Locate People   *Private Investigations
        Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 841-0007

Adolfo Rojas Breedy
Breedy Abogados S.A.
Since 1957. Best experience in: 
¥ Real Estate Transfer of Title and Title Search
¥ Business       ¥ Investments 
¥ Commercial & Civil Litigation
¥ Corporate Law & finance
¥ Capital markets Law
¥ International Taxation
(506) 233-7203/221-0230
Web page:

Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados
Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 218-0829                Cell 365-3088
   ¥ real estate law   ¥ due dilligence 
¥  criminal & constitutional law
¥ Purchase and sale agreements
¥ Purchase option agreements
¥ title guarantee, 
¥ fraud protection
 ¥ Constitution of condominiums
¥ Property Management
¥ Notary public services in general
Offices in San José and
Century 21, Jacó Beach
Authorized Representative
Stewart Title Attorney Referral System

A.M. Costa Rica
Consultantes Río Colorado S.A.
James J. Brodell........................editor
Saray Ramírez Vindas...associate editor

Avenida 11 bis, Barrio Otoya, San José 

Voice: (506) 223-1327
FAX: (506) 223-1190

   In Costa Rica:                       From elsewhere:

     A.M. Costa Rica                     Consultantes Río Colo.
     Apartado 12909-1000            SB 11
     San José, Costa Rica               P.O. Box 025292 
     (506) 223-1327                     Miami, FL 33102-5292

Our new five-star food and restaurant page
with the observations of Dr. Lenny Karpman
Click HERE!


Pacheco team unveils $355 million development plan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Pacheco administration has revealed a massive, $355 million plan to make Costa Rica more competitive on the international market.

The plan, which will be paid mostly by borrowed money, seemed more like a political platform than a proposal by an administration with less than a year left in office.

Federico Carrillo Zürcher, the Minister of Hacienda, outlined the four-stage proposal that includes seven projects. All but one seemed abstract. The most concrete proposal was to redo 2,000 kilometers of rural roads to help farmers move about and market their goods. That's 1,240 miles.

Carrillo called the plan the complementary agenda, meaning that it is connected with the free trade treaty with the United States. Carrillo said at a Casa Presidencial presentation that the free trade treaty would be sent to the Asamblea Legislativa in August.

But President Abel Pacheco, who was sitting beside him, was less definite.

Carrillo said that the plan was for five years and that the $126 million of Costa Rican funds would come from the various budgets of the ministries. Major proposals involved education and agriculture.

The proposals were interpreted as a way the executive branch was trying to make overtures to agriculture for support of the free trade treaty and the proposed tax plan that appears stalled in the legislature. Also at the presentation was Rodolfo Coto, the minister of Agricultura y Ganadaría. When Coto was asked specifically about what the proposal would do for rice farmers, the best he could do is to say that the government had a strategy.

Carrillo emphasized the need to help small- and medium-sized businesses. Pacheco spoke of a carefully constructed plan of development.

Carrillo said that the loans were in place and had been approved a week earlier. The InterAmerican Development Bank, the World Bank and the Central American Bank of Economic Integration were loaning  $219 million. Carrillo also said that some proposed laws to complete the projects were in the legislature already. For example, officials want a rural
development bank that would make loans to farmers who might not otherwise have access to credit.

What Carrillo described was massive:

• increasing industrial and agricultural competitivity

• transferring science and technology from universities and research centers to manufacturing;

• transferring knowledge for the estimated 39,000 small farmers in the country to support sustainable agriculture;

• strengthening the customs branch of the ministry which levies duties on imported goods;

• beefing up rural schools, building news schools and raising educational quality;

• training local officials to maintain improved roads.
Carrillo also said that Costa Rica was a philosophy, one that places the individual first.

The only discordant note was when a reporter asked the minister about a close adviser who is now facing an allegation of rape involving an incident that took place in Santa Ana. Carrillo said quickly that he was prepared to let the courts handle the matter.

The new fiscal plan includes a value-added tax, global taxation and other measures that are supposed to raise an additional $500 million for the country. Officials keep saying that the country is broke, and Carrillo, himself, said recently that his ministry spends two colons for every colon that comes in. A large burden is the national debt that takes at least 25 percent of the national budget.

Some agricultural producers have embraced the proposed free trade treaty. But others, like rice farmers, fear competition from the United States. Pacheco has put off a decision on the free trade treaty and turned the matter over to a newly picked panel of experts headed by U.S. astronaut Franklin Chang Díaz. The other four members of the panel include a clergyman, a former university head and others with little experience in international trade.

Pacheco defended his choice Tuesday suggesting that intelligent people who were not mathematicians could determine if the treaty would be good or bad for Costa Rica.

U.N. report says that agricultural prices, except rice, will take big dip
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Competition among exporters of wheat, rice, oilseeds, sugar and livestock is expected to intensify over the next 10 years among both developed and developing countries, resulting in a further drop in real prices for most basic food commodities, according to a new United Nations-backed report released Tuesday.

Farmers will thus have to make continued efforts to improve efficiency while policy reforms could help improve agricultural markets, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's “Agricultural Outlook,” produced for the first time in collaboration with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

With increasing export supplies by low cost countries and a continued high degree of protection in many of the rich markets of the 30 developed nations, rising demand growth in developing countries will result in an increase in their share of the global trade in farm products, the report says. 
It estimates that total world cereal output will increase by over 1 per cent annually with most of the growth occurring in developing countries. Although increasing imports by China and other Asian countries could drive nominal prices higher in the near term, international wheat prices are expected to fall in real terms by around 11 per cent over the next 10 years.

But in a rebound from recently low levels, real world rice prices are expected to increase over the projection period, reversing the downward trend of the past 30 years. 

With the growing importance of China and India in global markets, small shocks to either demand or supply in these large countries could lead to substantial external adjustments, the report adds.

Similarly, conditions in the key emerging suppliers, particularly in South America, will be increasingly critical to the evolution of world markets. With rapidly increasing production and trade of livestock products, animal disease outbreaks also provide for a source of uncertainty, according to the report.

Bank tellers are getting nervous over $100 U.S. bills
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican banks are refusing to accept $100 U.S. notes for fear they are actually high-quality fakes.

Several U.S. citizens reported that Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica have been vigorously checking $100 notes for weeks. But one resident said Tuesday he was unable to negotiate $1,200 in $100 bills at any bank in the city.

The suspect bills carry the serial number that includes the letters  CB-B2 and the issue date of 2001.

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said that officials there have not had any reports of bad bills. But the spokesperson also said that the U.S. Secret Service visited Costa Rica recently and gave training to bank officials and staff, Judicial Investigating Organization personnel, as well as embassy cashiers and other staff on how to identify counterfeit and authentic U.S. currency.

The fake bills appear to have come from Colombia
where counterfeiting is an art form.  Problems have been reported with the fake $100 notes throughout South America for two months, beginning in Peru.

The bulk of the money with the suspicious CB-B2 is legitimate currency because those are real serial numbers from actual bills.

Two weeks ago a teller at Banco Nacional  took a $100 bill, gave a customer a receipt for it and then vanished into the back offices for 20 minutes. He returned to declare the bill genuine and accepted it as part of a transaction.

But Tuesday a reader reported that banks had refused to accept the U.S. currency.

The $100 U.S. banknote is the largest denomination bill in general use. Most expats keep their money in dollars because of the continual devaluation of the Costa Rican colon. The $100 and the $50 bills are preferred ways of transporting the cash. The fake $100 bills are said to have subtle differences by which one can distinguish a bad bill from genuine.

Chile's Pinochet goes back to hospital on eve of human rights hearing
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SANTIAGO, Chile — Former dictator Augusto Pinochet was taken to the hospital Tuesday after fainting at his home following a stroke. On two previous occasions poor health has shielded the former dictator from prosecution on charges of human rights abuses during his 1973 to 1990 rein.

The 89-year-old retired general was taken to the hospital a day before a court was to decide whether he may be tried for human rights violations that occurred during his rule. The hearing was postponed until next week.

His opponents claim Pinochet, who has suffered several strokes in recent years, is exaggerating his health problems to escape prosecution.
But lawyers for the aging former dictator assert he is suffering from dementia and is unfit to stand trial.

His son, Marco Antonio Pinochet, reiterated to reporters Tuesday that his father was not well enough to face the prosecutors. He says there are things his father sees in the press that he comprehends, but his condition has severely deteriorated.

The former Chilean ruler is charged as an accessory in dozens of cases of politically motivated kidnappings and murder allegedly carried out when he first came to power.

Earlier this month a Chilean appeals court stripped the former dictator of immunity from prosecution on charges of tax evasion and other charges related to millions of dollars he held in secret bank accounts.

Fox says Russia wants to drill for gas in Mexican waters offshore
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MOSCOW, Russia — Mexican President Vicente Fox says Russia has signaled its interest in deep water drilling for natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fox made his comments Tuesday after Kremlin talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader thanked Fox for Mexico's support of Russia's efforts for World Trade Organization membership.
Earlier, in an address to students at Moscow State University, Fox called for increased Mexican trade with Russia and he expressed support for efforts to reform the United Nations.

A large group of Mexican business people is traveling with Fox. On Wednesday, he will meet with officials of Russia's Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Putin visited Mexico a year ago. President Fox just concluded a two-day visit to Ukraine.

Zapatistas say that they will maintain a very low profile in Chiapas
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico — Mexico's Zapatista rebel group has declared a state of emergency, putting its troops on alert and sending its leadership into hiding.

In a statement issued Monday, the Zapatistas said they are calling all troops back to their bases and are evacuating their leadership to ensure their safety.
The  group says its leadership will do its work clandestinely for an indefinite period of time. The group also shut down its radio station. Civil rights activists say the declaration was likely prompted by some action by the Mexican army.

The Zapatistas are based in Mexico's southern Chiapas state and have made their name as a champion of Indian rights. They first came to national prominence in 1994 when they led an armed uprising.

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