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(506) 2223-1327                      Published Friday, June 27, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 126                       Email us
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Ticos prevail to reach World Cup quarterfinals
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
(Posted at 5:15 p.m. Sunday)

Costa Rica with one player down struggled to hold of onslaughts by the Greek national soccer team and ended up winning the game Sunday on a shootout.

Bryan Ruíz scored the only Costa Rican goal early in the second half. A red card brought the team strength down to 10 a short time later. So for the rest of the second half the Ticos held the Greek team scoreless until the first minute of extra time.

That put the game into 30 minutes  of extra
periods, and neither team was able to score. The game was decided by penalty kicks.

Each team received five shots on goal. Costa Rican goalie Keylor Navas blocked the fourth Greek attempt, and the Tico players scored on all five shots.

The country went wild to celebrate the first time the national team reached the World Cup quarterfinals. Stronger teams, just as México did not. That team was on its way home after a loss to The Netherlands. earlier in the day. Costa Rica next plays the strong Dutch team.

Country's credit card debt estimated at $1.5 billion
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans continue to use their credit cards.

A study by the economics ministry showed that credit card debt increase 2.37 percent from January to April 30 when the data was gathered. The total debt on that date was 806,138,896,697.60 colons or about $1.5 billion.   That meant that of the estimated 4.8 million Costa Ricans every man woman and child owed about $305.

The good news is that the number of credit card customers in arrears by 90 days or more decreased by 3 percent, said the report from the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio.

In the last four years, according to the ministry, the number of credit cards in the hands of residents here increased by 33 percent. There are about 1.7 million credit cards in circulation, a number that also is up since January.

Banco BCT continued to hold the lead for credit card interest rate. The bank collected the equivalent of 50.4 percent annual interest, according to the ministry.

State banks charge much less, sometimes as low as 21 percent. Credit cards denominated in U.S. dollars have lower interest, too.

Debit cards far outnumber credit cards with about 5 million in circulation, said the report.

The full report is available on the ministry's Web site HERE!

All eyes will be on the national soccer team Sunday
By Michael Krumholtz
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Additional story HERE!
Now that La Sele stands atop the rubble left over from the Group of Death, they have Costa Ricans believing a deeper run in the World Cup is possible.

Costa Rica, everyone's favorite underdog in group play, actually enters as the favorite in Sunday's knockout stage match with Greece. The Greeks advanced from their group at the last minute, as a stoppage time penalty goal that beat Ivory Coast allowed them to jump from last to second place. Though it boasts a stout defense, Greece falters offensively and failed to score in its first two cup matches. 

If the Ticos can continue their magical run and reach the quarterfinals, it would exceed the national team's run in the 1990 World Cup as the farthest La Sele has ever gone. There they would either meet rival Mexico or a Dutch squad that has looked like the tournament's best.
Costa Rica and Greece kick off at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

The Municipalidad de Montes de Oca has sent out a letter asking fans to not litter while celebrating in public areas on Sunday.

After Costa Rica's decisive win against Italy last Friday, the mob of people celebrating at Fuente de la Hispanidad left behind a heap of plastic and aluminum that blanketed the traffic circle. The municipality's statement said there will be three recycling trucks set up throughout popular gathering spots in Montes de Oca where everyone should discard their trash. They'll be stationed just north of the fountain, on Calle de la Amargura, and in front of John F. Kennedy park.

Despite a 1-0 loss to Germany, the United States is still advancing from a brutal Group G that spat out Portugal and Ghana. The U.S. struggled to keep pace with Germany's star-studded roster, but kept the game close enough to keep a goal differential advantage over Portugal.

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San José, Costa Rica, Friday June 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 126

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El Niño expected to strengthen by 2015

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Meteorological Organization says an El Niño is likely in the third quarter of 2014.

There is a 60 percent likelihood of an El Niño being fully established between June and August, increasing to 75 to 80 percent for the October to December period, according to an El Niño Update issued by the U.N. agency.

El Niño is a weather phenomenon characterized by unusually warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.  El Niño generally brings dry weather to western Costa Rica.

The phenomenon, which recurs at two- to seven-year intervals, has a major impact on the climate around the world, too. It can also lead to extremes including droughts and heavy rainfall across the globe.

Maxx Dilley, director of the World Meteorological Organization Climate Prediction and Adaptation Branch, said sometimes these conditions can be quite extreme.

“You have parts of the world, which experience dryer than normal conditions as a tendency during El Niño years,” Dilley said. “You have other parts of the world, which tend to get wetter. You have parts of the world that tend to get hotter and parts that tend to get colder. So, the effects can vary depending on which region you pick.”

The World Meteorological Organization said it expects this year’s El Niño to reach the same levels of strength as the last El Niño from 2009 and 2010, which was the hottest year on record.

The 2009 to 10 El Niño also resulted in abnormally dry conditions over northern Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Drier than normal conditions also prevailed over southeastern Africa and northern Brazil.

It also triggered a lower than normal monsoon rainfall in India and wetter than normal conditions in tropical South America and at subtropical latitudes of North America.

The tropical Pacific Ocean is expected to continue to warm during the coming months, peaking during the last quarter of 2014. Its potential intensity remains uncertain, but a moderate strength event currently appears more likely than a weak or strong one, the agency said.

The World Meteorological Organization forecast the El Niño to peak during the last quarter of this year and into early 2015. It said it cannot be sure how intense it will be, but expected an El Niño of moderate strength.

Dilley said the socio-economic impact on regions affected by these extreme climate events can be powerful.

“So, for example when you have a drought, one of the sectors, which is very often affected, is agriculture. It also can affect water supply and water supply could mean irrigation for agriculture or it could mean water into a reservoir for hydropower generation," Dilley said.

"You can have floods, of course. They affect infrastructure. They ... can flood housing. They can cut off transportation links, wash out roads, block bridges. ...," he added.

These climate conditions, Dilley said, also can have serious health impacts, such as outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases. It can also increase the incidence of malaria.

Dilley said a number of international organizations are using advance El Niño warnings to make plans to blunt its impact.

For example, he noted the World Food Program is positioning food in areas that might be difficult to reach in extreme weather conditions, he said

Germany. U.S. and Algeria advance

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Germany, the United States and Algeria secured the final three spots in the World Cup's coveted round of 16 Thursday, a day also highlighted by the stiff punishment handed down against Uruguay's Luis Suarez for biting an opponent.

Germany advanced with a 1-0 win over the U.S. in the Brazilian city of Recife, finishing first in Group G play with seven points.  The United States and Portugal both tallied four points in that group, but the U.S. won the tiebreaker with a goal difference of three more than Portugal.

The Portuguese posted a 2-1 victory in Brasilia over Ghana, which also was eliminated.

Germany and the U.S. played in a steady downpour, with Germany's Thomas Mueller scoring the game's only goal in the 55th minute.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a one-time superstar player who won the World Cup with Germany in 1990 before coaching the Germans to a third-place finish in the 2006 World Cup, said his squad has room for improvement despite its gritty performance Thursday against a European power.

"Obviously, we would have liked to create more chances and find more ways to take it to Germany," he said.  "Germany is among the four or five favorites for the title.  We're still growing, we're learning."

Across the United States, soccer fans gathered in bars, restaurants and in front of open-air screens to cheer on the U.S. national team, which will be making its fourth appearance in the round of 16, also known as the knockout round, but has never made it past the quarterfinals.

Germany will open against Algeria Monday in the knockout round.  The Algerians tied Russia 1-1 on Thursday in Curitiba, and finished second in Group H with four points.

Tuesday, the United States will play Belgium, which defeated South Korea 1-0 in Sao Paulo in Thursday's other Group H game.  The Belgians finished first in that group with nine points. 

The round of 16 begins on Saturday with games featuring four South American teams.  Five-time World Cup champion Brazil plays Chile in Belo Horizonte, and Colombia faces Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.

Uruguay will be without its star striker, Luis Suarez, when it faces Colombia.

Before competition began Thursday, football's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, banned Suarez for nine international matches and four months for biting an Italian player during Tuesday's World Cup match.  He also was fined $112,000 for the incident.

"Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," the soccer governing body said.

Television replays show Suarez biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder.  Officials have suspended Suarez twice before in club play for biting opposing players and once for using racially abusive language.  Wednesday, he dismissed the severity of the latest incident, saying "those are situations that happen on the pitch."

prison sweep
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo         
More than 100 Fuerza Pública officers helped guards sweep a section of La Reforma prison in San Rafael de Alajuela Thursday. This is part of what they turned up. They also found three liters of locally made bootlegged alcohol.

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Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday June 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 126
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Finance ministry asks citizens to report tax cheats who forget facturas
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The finance ministry has launched a campaign against the so-called local discount. The discount is the sales tax that the vendor does not collect if the customer does not want a receipt.

Costa Rica's tax collection depends on facturas, the special, numbered invoices that only certain printers can produce. Retailers also can produce facturas through cash registers.

The idea is that inspectors from the Ministerio de Hacienda's tax collecting agency can view the factura copies to see that the sales tax has been paid and that the company has declared the correct amount for income tax.

Unlike past campaigns there does not seem to be an economic incentive for those who file complaints against merchants. In fact, most shoppers are happy to skip paying the sales tax, particularly on big ticket items like furniture. In the past, the agency conducted cash raffles based on facturas that residents submitted.

The sales tax discount usually only involves cash payments. Credit card sales create a paper trail that the Dirección General de Tributación can follow.

Big offenders for off-the-books transactions are professionals. The ministry is creating a central, electronic system that will create receipts for payments to lawyers, physicians and others who are notorious tax cheats. The ministry said that the campaign to have customers file complaints about the lack of receipts will continue for a year.

Vice President Helio Fallas, who also is minister of Hacienda, announced the project Thursday. The campaign began now because of the midyear vacation that starts today, and officials said that many
Ministerio de Hacienda graphic
Graphic encourages vacationers and shoppers to file complaints against hotels, restaurants and stores that do not provide facturas.

 Costa Ricans will be visiting out of town. Officials said they plan to step up the campaign at other times of the year when there is a lot of retail activity. They named the Día de la Madre,  Día del Niño, Christmas and New Year's.

The use of printed facturas has been diminished by the arrival of the computer. Many merchants can create their own facturas and print them out. The pad of number sheets no longer is a requirement.

The ministry is using the social media to spread work of the campaign. Complaints can be sent to the ministry Web site or by telephone.

The campaign is part of the first stage of the new government's deficit reduction plan.

Country being reviewed next week for its international aspirations
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican authorities are hopeful that the country will be included into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as organization leaders are visiting Wednesday and Thursday. President Luis Guillermo Solís is scheduled to meet with Deputy Secretary-General William Danvers, who is in charge of new country inclusions and oversees the Latin American region.

The organization offers a mutual forum to member governments that allows them to share ideas and solve universal issues in economic, social, or environmental areas. Its primary goal is to promote the best practices within public policies to better serve the populations of member states.

This is the same organization that put Costa Rica on a blacklist as an international tax haven. The country subsequently was removed.
“This visit is very important in allowing the organization a close-up of Costa Rica,” said Alexander Mora, the foreign trade minister. “To be a member of this organization is a project with great strategic value to the country because it offers us a solid base of improved politics in all areas of government.”

Representatives of the global organization has visited the country on various occasions, and most recently Mora invited organization heads for a May tour through Costa Rica with Solís.
Secretary-General Ángel Gurría visited last October with Laura Chinchilla's administration to meet with local business and government leaders.

In 2012, the country formally sent out a membership request. Representatives said that they will work on a narrow path with Costa Rica to possibly adopt the country into its program by 2015.

The organization requires that Costa Rica submit a plan of action to show how it will advance towards meeting key development objectives.

Twenty-six different public institutions, headed by the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior, are involved in executing and mapping out this plan. Each one of them, from the ministry of Salud to Banco de Costa Rica, must follow the protocols outlined in this plan.

The plan mandates the applicant country follows three main principles. First it needs to review policies in areas of interest, such as education. Next it must begin using different tools, like becoming more transparent in international finance, for example. Lastly the organization says governments must participate in or support certain committees or work groups, like those for anti-corruption.

A team of experts is also visiting Costa Rica next week to check on their governing policies. In September, a similar visit has already been planned that could decide if the country becomes included or not into the organization.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Friday June 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 126
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Heavy television watching doubles risk of premature death, study says
By the American Heart Association news staff

Adults who watch TV for three hours or more each day may double their risk of premature death compared to those who watch less, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Television viewing is a major sedentary behavior and there is an increasing trend toward all types of sedentary behaviors,” said Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez, the study’s lead author and professor at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. “Our findings are consistent with a range of previous studies where time spent watching television was linked to mortality.”

Researchers assessed 13,284 young and healthy Spanish university graduates (average age 37, 60 percent women) to determine the association between three types of sedentary behaviors and risk of death from all causes: television viewing time, computer time and driving time. The participants were followed for a median 8.2 years. Researchers reported 97 deaths, with 19 deaths from cardiovascular causes, 46 from cancer and 32 from other causes.

The risk of death was twofold higher for participants who reported watching three or more hours of TV a day compared to those watching one or less hours. This twofold higher risk was also apparent after accounting for a wide array of other variables related to a higher risk of death.

Researchers found no significant association between the time spent using a computer or driving and higher risk of premature death from all causes. Researchers said further studies are needed to confirm what effects may exist between computer use and driving on death rates, and to determine the biological mechanisms explaining these associations.

“As the population ages, sedentary behaviors will become more prevalent, especially watching television, and this poses an additional burden on the increased health problems related to

aging,” Martinez-Gonzalez said. “Our findings suggest adults may
consider increasing their physical activity, avoid long sedentary periods, and reduce television watching to no longer than one to two hours each day.”

The study cited previous research that suggests that half of U.S. adults are leading sedentary lives.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. You should also do moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening at least two days a week.

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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

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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.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
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Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
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Tropical Paradise in downtown San José
$485 per month.

The apartments are located in the heart of San Pedro, just a few minutes from the capital, San José. We are close to everything: banks, food, supermarkets, transportation, many language schools, Humans’ Rights Court, United Nations, Oscar Arias Foundations, the Defense
of Children, the University of Costa Rica, VERITAS, U. Latina and other private universities. We provide a positive friendly and quiet atmosphere which includes gardens, parking, security, laundry/cleaning services, high speed (2 mega bytes) Wireless DSL Internet/active cable T.V. connections 
with 90 channels (TV not included). The apartments include the following: one bedroom, kitchen/dining/living room area, bathroom (with hot shower), refrigerator, coffee maker, toaster, stove top, basic kitchen supplies, basic furnishings and all linens. We also offer 100 percent free, unlimited phone calls to U.S.A., Canada,  and Puerto Rico. 3 MONTH MINIMUM CONTRACT.    Contact us at 506-8818-2004    or  506-8302-1499  Check our Web site,, for more info.

Apartments Lemur
Apartment Lemur for rent
San Francisco de Dos Rios, El Bosque, furnished, 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, quiet area, free cable TV, WiFi. large patio area, swimming pool, parking, security. Close to San José. $440/month. Retired persons preferred. Call 8375-6838.

oranic farm
$800 plus utilities, 2-bedroom, 2-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Barbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS.

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

Gorgeous views, safe and peaceful, above Alajuela
bedroom, three-bath house for rent, near Pura Vida Yoga Center. Perfect weather, great views, nice neighbors. Two phone lines. Internet access through Cable Tica. Long-term rental only. $900 plus utilities. Click HERE for more information. Contact

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at or contact us at
or call at (506) 2654-5442.

100 houses

CARIARI AND LINDORA areas, nice garden apartments, furnished or not, ideal for small family, couple/singles. US $1,000 and up. Email   Tel. 8383-6388.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

Los Arcos gated community 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment $500 monthly. aAso efficiency apartment $300 month. 8841-1606

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Friday June 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 126
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Victims of Torture Day brings call to end the practice

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Nations and human rights activists worldwide are demanding states end the practice of torture, which is prohibited under all circumstances under international law. Every year on June 26, the world marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture to honor and support the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who are victims.

Torture is not a new phenomenon. It has been practiced throughout the ages and continues to be employed today in all regions of the world. Reliable statistics are not possible because torture is hidden. It occurs in secret in police stations, prisons and places of detention.

To get a sense of its scope, the human rights organization Amnesty International reports over the past five years, it has received reports of torture in 141 countries from every region of the world. Additionally, the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva says every day it receives new reports of torture from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Oceania.

Mona Rishmawi, chief of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination branch of the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said torture occurs in states that turn a blind eye to this practice and allow it to continue with impunity. While it mainly takes place in repressive regimes, she said, torture also occurs in democracies.

“The difference is that when it happens somebody acts. There is a parliament. There is a question in the parliament. The minister gets embarrassed.  Somebody does something. But, if the state really, if the state does not feel accountable to its people, then these excesses happen a lot more,” said Ms. Rishmawi.

Numerous international treaties and national and domestic laws prohibit the practice of torture. This year will mark the 30th anniversary of the seminal Convention Against Torture, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 10, Human Rights Day.

Though the convention has been ratified by 154 states, torture continues to be widely and systematically practiced in many of these countries. The United Nations reports 41 states have refused to ratify the convention, and several of them continue to permit torture and ill treatment against detainees.

Torture ranges from severe beatings to public sexual humiliation and rape. The victim is often forced to witness pain being inflicted on children or other family members. Ms. Rishmawi said the impact on the victim is substantial.

While many are left with severe physical injuries, Ms. Rishmawi said the worst effect is the mental anguish victims are forced to endure.

“These people were victims of intentional injury. These people were intentionally brutalized… You know, the moment you humiliate somebody and you take their dignity away, it is very difficult for these people to reconcile with themselves. Actually, that moment stays with them for a very long time,” said Ms. Rishmawi.

The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture provides humanitarian, medical, psychological, legal and financial aid to many in need. The fund also supports many of the non-governmental organizations that run programs to rehabilitate victims of torture.

Under international law, states must ensure that victims of torture and ill treatment are fully compensated for their pain and suffering. The United Nations is calling on governments to fulfill this obligation.

It notes governments are accountable for their actions and warns they cannot torture people with impunity. It says victims of torture deserve justice and those who perpetrate these crimes must be punished.

Insects at California tar pit
shed new light on Ice Age

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Fossils from California’s La Brea Tar Pits keep supplying scientists with excellent material for studying the region’s past. Ancient animals, from mammoths to tiny insects, reveal facts about climate changes during the last Ice Age and help scientists understand the modern climate.

For millennia, natural tar that seeped from the ground in what is now southern California trapped large and small animals, preserving their fossils and providing scientists with a trove of specimens suitable for study.

Anna Holden, a researcher at the Page Museum in Los Angeles, is analyzing fossilized bees to learn about the ancient environment of the tar pits. In trying to reconstruct what the climate and local habitat were like, she said, “this bee offered kind of unprecedented information."

By exposing the fossils to a micro CT scanner, scientists discovered that the bee’s habitat was warmer than expected. They concluded that at the end of the Ice Age, about 11,500 years ago, the area was not covered with snow and ice, as previously thought.

Insects’ limited range – unlike that of the large mammals that came to La Brea from South America or across the land bridge now covered by the Bering Strait – allows the collection of detailed information about their immediate environment, Holden said.

“Insects have very specific life cycles, so they're just really good paleoecological indicators,” she said. “In other words, they're just very specific in their behavior, their habitats.”

Whoever collected the specimens in the 1970s did a good job of keeping records, Ms. Holden said. Comparing that data with current findings can reveal something about the future.

“Understanding past climate change is understanding current climate change,” she said. “Climate change is a big issue right now and insects are often really good indicators.”

Ms. Holden said her work may help today’s farmers fight the problem of collapsing bee populations.

Houston excels as new home
for refugees from all over

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States is the world's top refugee resettlement country.  More refugees resettle in the state of Texas, and in particular the city of Houston, than anywhere else in the country. Refugees there find a thriving economy, warm weather and a diverse urban scene where they can locate help in starting a new life.

Hundreds of refugees and their supporters came together recently to celebrate World Refugee Day in Houston.

Houston is now home to 70,000 refugees from 78 countries, and around 2,000 more come each year.

This city offers a booming economy, lots of jobs and a very diverse population.

The largest refugee ethnic group, the Vietnamese, started coming here in the 1970s.

Lena Tran settled more recently, and her children know little of Vietnam.

"I was born by a Vietnamese mother and she escaped from Vietnam and I know a little bit about Vietnam because she tells me stories of them," said My Tran Vo, 8.

Only two weeks ago, Reza and his Bahai family came here from Iran.

"The most important reason is I did not have freedom of speech and religion," said Reza, discussing why he came to the U.S.

There are many agencies and support groups for refugees in Houston, but one of the most important is the YMCA International Services.

The YMCA's Amy Blose said the organization helps get refugees started in their new life here.

"The case manager will visit them at their home, check in on them frequently, make sure they are doing okay, and our goal, really, is self sufficiency for refugees," said Ms. Blose.

On this day, she is visiting Radjabu Selemani, a refugee from war-torn Congo.

"The family gets separated during the war; everyone takes his way, just to save his life," said Selemani.

The YMCA set him up in this apartment with another African refugee and helped them both find jobs. Selemani says he has also found encouragement from average people he has met in Houston.

"Americans are very friendly people," said Selemani.

Ms. Blose said it is sometimes easier for refugees with fewer skills and education to adjust here than it is for some highly educated refugees whose degrees are not recognized here.

"They actually have to start over. You know, we have a lot of people who were engineers who are now working at Walmart as a cashier," said Ms. Blose.

She says there are local college programs to help such people gain accreditation, but it can take a long time,especially when there are language barriers to overcome.

However, no barrier is too big to discourage Selemani.

"In Africa, some people say America is heaven, but, according to me, America is a land of opportunity," said Selemani.

That opportunity is largely what has made Houston the number one U.S. city for refugee resettlement.

Missing jet lost oxygen,
Australian experts speculate

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Australian officials say they are confident the missing Malaysian jet was on autopilot when it crashed and that the plane's pilots were likely unresponsive due to a lack of oxygen.

The comments Thursday are the firmest theory yet offered by officials on what may have led to the Boeing 777's disappearance, which has become one of modern aviation's greatest mysteries.

At a news conference, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said it is highly, highly likely the plane was on autopilot when it ran out of fuel. Otherwise, he says the aircraft would not have followed such an orderly path seen in the satellite readings used to track its likely resting place.

In a report issued later Thursday, the Australian Transport Safety Board said the plane's steady flight path and lack of communications lead it to believe that a hypoxia-type event appeared to fit the best available evidence.

Hypoxia, which can occur when a plane loses air pressure, is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, resulting in confusion, unconsciousness, and eventually death. Officials and analysts have long said depressurization is one of many possible scenarios being investigated.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 when it disappeared with 239 people on board. It did not send a distress call.

The plane stopped communicating with air traffic controllers in the Gulf of Thailand. It then inexplicably turned west and headed for the Strait of Malacca before heading south, after which investigators believe it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Since the jet's communications devices were either shut off or disabled, authorities have had to estimate the plane's final resting place by conducting a complex analysis of data sent from the plane to a communications satellite.

Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Truss said a more thorough analysis of that satellite data has led investigators to shift the search area south of where an initial underwater hunt took place.

"The new priority area is still focused on the same seventh arc in the southern Indian Ocean, where the aircraft last communicated with satellite. We are now shifting our attention to an area further south along that arc, broadly in the area where our first search efforts were focused. The area has already been subject to aerial and visual searching for wreckage and debris, but now we will move to an underwater search,” said Truss.

The new area to be searched is a 60,000 square kilometer arc in the southern Indian Ocean, about 1,800 kilometers off the southwest Australian coast.

Ships are currently carrying out a complex, bathymetric survey in the area to learn more about the depths and shapes of the underwater terrain.

The process will take around three months. Officials then expect the underwater search to begin in August and take up to 12 more months.

An underwater drone recently finished up an unsuccessful, two-month-long search of 850 square kilometers of Indian Ocean seabed.

That location was near where authorities heard faint electronic signals thought to be from the missing jet's flight data recorder.

Authorities now conclude they were likely distracted by the pings, which turned out to be a false lead.

Malaysian authorities, who believe someone intentionally diverted the plane, have not commented on the findings announced Thursday by the Australian government.

Free lunch for homeless
leaves them broke, angry

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A highly-publicized free lunch for New York City's homeless, paid for by a Chinese billionaire, has ended in recriminations and anger among many who attended.

Chinese entrepreneur Chen Guangbiao had high hopes for the event -- billed as a free lunch for 1,000 homeless people in an upscale Central Park restaurant. It wound up looking more like an ideological talent show, however, ending in disaster.

The menu included sesame tuna, salad, beef steak, and dessert. Craig, who would only give his first name, said he had never been to a fancy restaurant before.

”Mr. Chen bought us a delicious lunch. It’s so yummy,” he said.

Li, who would give only his family name, said the lunch made him feel proud to be Chinese.

"Chinese are rich, they stand in foreign countries, they have earned a reputation for us Chinese, and have won honor for us,” he said.

But the event that started with such good feelings soon turned sour, starting with the talent show.

Chen Guangbiao sang "We Are the World," did magic tricks, and then sang a Chinese song that advocated Maoism. Some volunteers at the event were even dressed in old replica uniforms of China's People's Liberation Army.

Finally, came the money portion of the evening. And things went from odd to angry.

One of highlights billed for the event was that Chen would give $300 to each homeless person. Five lucky people did get their money. But the rest were left wanting.

The New York City Rescue Mission that worked with Chen objected to giving away cash to the homeless based on their long-term experience working with that population.

Michelle Tolson, the mission's director of public relations, said of Chen, ”Giving cash to homeless is not good idea. Thus, he has chosen to donate $90,000 to New York City Rescue Mission.”

That position did not sit well with many of the assembled homeless.

"The mission got the money, and we got nothing. Nothing. They got $90,000 and we're still living on the street," said one homeless person at the event.

"You don't play with people like this. You tell them the freaking truth. Not like a politician, who smiles and tells you what you want to hear," said another person at the lunch.

Only 200 homeless were allowed in, despite previous advertising that said more than 1,000 would be fed. Chen says the rest will be given lunch on another date.

Economic incentives offered
to eliminate loss of by-catch

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A global conservation group says U.S. fishermen throw away about $1 billion in edible fish every year.

The report by the group Oceana says they are not tossing out so-called trash fish, they are throwing away meals.

The discarded fish include such commercially viable species as South Atlantic trout, New England scallops and Alaskan halibut.

Fishermen call this by-catch, fish that they did not mean to catch -- pulled out of the waters while they were looking for something else.

Oceana is proposing various economic incentives for fishermen who reel-in "by-catch," including a new tax and better equipment to avoid catching unwanted fish.

Amazon canopy
Virginia Tech photo
The endangered Amazon canopy

Solutions to deforestation
proposed in lieu of penalties

By the Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University news service

The rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has declined.

An international team of scientists, including one from Virginia Tech, reviewed published research about policy interventions and commodity market effects, and determined that positive incentives for farmers, counties, and states can do as much to preserve forests as public policies that call for penalties.

“The challenge now is to build upon this progress,” they report in an article in the June 6 issue of Science. “Some immediate and simple positive incentives for responsible, low-deforestation farmers could be established without major new policies or markets for ecosystem services.”

Suggestions include simplified regulatory requirements or discounts on environmental licensing procedures, better terms on pre-harvest packages from commodity suppliers, and lower interest rates or better terms on loans from banks for legally compliant landholders.

“Still, deforestation is only one of the threats to the Amazon region,” said Leandro Castello, assistant professor of fish and wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech, a co-author of the review article.

“There is an urgent need to shift the Amazon conservation paradigm to encompass the freshwater ecosystems, which are being rapidly degraded by deforestation and construction of hydroelectric dams,” said Castello, who is first author on one of the articles reviewed. “We now know that freshwater ecosystems could be managed through policy and supply chains in a manner similar to that which is being done with deforestation.”

Castello, whose specialty is Amazon fisheries, is leading a team from the Woods Hole Research Center and the University of California Santa Barbara, assessing the impacts on wetlands and river ecosystems caused by extreme climatic events in collaboration with Brazilian scientists.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

• Interior Design
• Custom Furniture Manufacturing
• Building Completion Services
Interior Design & Custom Furniture Manufacturing
“We regularly exceed client expectations.
We guarantee it.”
Customizing for your vision, lifestyle and budget.
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:
Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad.
Our custom furniture designs & manufacturing can be contracted independently.
“Serving the Region for 11 years”

Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644

Rosa Monge
Rosa Monge

Real estate foreclosure specialist

Great deals available every week
Properties like this:

20.5 acres of pasture for as little as $2,400

Rosa Monge Alvarez
Please email for details

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.
For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 4030-5480 or 8339-2112.

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Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert

Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
(506) 2494-0016  
English calls :  (Luis David) Phone: 
(506) 8331-5228

Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $1,100,000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia home
1,000 square meters of land, 350 square meters of construction.  CLICK HERE
Grecia home
  1,900 square meters of land, 253 square meters of construction. Price $350.000. CLICK HERE
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Twice the Security & Prestige for Half the Cost

The only private guarded development in El Castillo
• 50% off for limited time only   • $26/square meter
• Neighbors are $80/square meter  • Incredible view
Clubhouse, pool, equestrian, country club
Only 2 remaining
Secure a spot in a million dollar neighborhood for under $100k
 Free architecture services
•  Full commission paid to brokers   • Financing available
Email or call the 24-hour recorded message for full info   CR: 4000-1983 (English/Español)
USA: 619-800-8550 (English only)

Tiliran property
Turnkey commercial/apartment building for sale in San Luis, Tilaran, Guanacaste. In a corporation. 100 percent occupancy and all permits in place. Great opportunity to gain investor status residency. New construction - 2012. Consists of three studio apartments upstairs with lake view and 4 storefronts on ground level, including laundry service, soda, consignment store. Comes with purchase or start your own business while you live in one of the apartments. $308,000. Please email

Stunning organic ocean view home site in San Ramón
2.93 acres, only $60,000

Gorgeous homesite on organic land available for quick sale! Only 10 minutes to downtown San Ramón and within a terrific private community. Close to town but away from it all! Features amazing views of the ocean, great sunsets every night and privacy. Multiple building spots. Comparable lots in the area are selling for $75,000 to over $100,000! At 11,864 square meters, or $5 per square meter, this is a great investment too! This lot is priced to move! Looking for a quick sale, so no tire kickers please! See Web site for additional information and photos. or email
Tel: CR (506) 8350-7647

Ad three graphics
Tropical lots located walking distance to a beautiful white sandy beach
Only $49,999 with interest-free financing
These lots are located in a gated, private community with low HOA dues and offer amenities including a pool & rancho.  It is located close to Playa Conchal and Pirates beaches.  And only 20 minutes to the resort town of Tamarindo and an hour from Liberia International airport. Reserve your lot with only a $1,500 deposit.  We are offering Interest-free financing for 5 years for a limited time only. Contact: Christian 
U.S. (732) 962-6525 or CR (506) 8349-2025

ad two grpahic
For Sale: Fully Furnished OCEAN VIEW CONDOMINIUM
Reduced $199,999
Gorgeous 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo with private terrace offering spectacular ocean views and built energy green. This condo is located in a gated community with low HOA dues and offers amenities including a pool & rancho.  It is located close to a beautiful white, sandy beach. Only 20 minutes to the resort town Tamarindo and an hour from Liberia airport.  Luxury finishings: Pella double pane windows, AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom cabinets. Contact or email 
U.S. (732) 962-6525 or CR (506) 8349-2025

Ad one grpahics
For Sale by Owner: Playa Conchal ocean view home reduced $339,999

Casa de Eden is  2,600 square feet with 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath, outdoor shower, private outdoor terrace and pool located only minutes from Playa Conchal.  The home is in a private, secure, gated community surrounded by nature and close to the resort town of Tamarindo, only an hour from Liberia airport.  The home is being offered fully furnished with: AC & ceiling fans, Frigidaire Professional series stainless steel appliances, granite kitchen countertops, marble bathroom vanities, custom wood cabinetry, internet, cable. 
Contact  U.S. (732) 984-7549
or CR (506) 8349-2025.

Belen home
Comfortable in Costa Rica
Asuncion de Belen. Home in exclusive Residencial La Jolla.  Gated community with controlled access,  security 24/7. Resort swimming pool and gym. Spacious and elegant finishes, private jacuzzi and social areas. 3 bedrooms. 2.5 baths.  Private gardens. Conveniently located close to airport, shopping, bilingual schools, Intel and Duty Free Zones. 322m2 on 249m2 corner lot. Lease with purchase option  $3,400/ $449,000 USD. Contact owner at 8309-2000 for details or email

Large estate on island with sea view !!!
Located on the Big Island and five minutes from the center of Golfito on boat.  The large land has three hills with forest in which there are many trees and animals such as parrots, parakeets and monkeys.!!   It has a beautiful view
island one
of downtown Golfito , mountains and sea. It has three entry beach options. Your own beach,  large land with fruit trees, livestock grazing.Mangrove front with lots of fish, snapper, etc. Also access to your own part of sea with full of  seafood: pianguas, cambutes, chuchecas, clams, etc. .  Natural beauty is a paradise to live, walking, diving, fishing, horse riding, climbing to the mountains, swimming in the creek or the sea, exploring
the land, animals and trees, etc.  Your paradise is here for you, your family or develop your own rain forest country club. This is  the place of your dreams !  The full land measures 119,284 m2. All legal papers and blueprints are ready to get a new owner.   Property has its own water and  ready to instal solar panel or electric  power plant.     It is Isla Grande - Segura, diagonal to grazing
 Puntarenitas Beach in Golfito for sale at $1.500.000 U.S. Further information contact : Raquel or Maria Ester at, Local phone numbers: +506 8690-2325   or  +506  8673-0112.

Casa Fiesta
Caribbean Beachfront Home and Apartment  Puerto Viejo
 Right on the Beach!
Ranch style home with detached garage and apartment Air-conditioned home sleeps 4, apartment sleeps 2 ,  3 baths, hot water showers  Fenced-in property with pool, screened in patio  Turnkey....Everything is included with the sale!   Washer/dryer, furniture, appliances, tools, household items and linens, bicycles, and even a vehicle! Great income potential also  259,000 US Please visit our Web site for many more photos go to:  Email inquires to:

Dragon montage
New amazing, modern, eco-friendly three-bedroom, three-bath executive modern home perched on your own small mountain.  270-degree ocean view with unbelievable teak-look concrete deck, to the RED 48-foot fiberglass infinity lap pool. Separate covered deck with pool table. Guest house with kitchen, Jacuzzi, outdoor shower. Exquisite entryway of 20-foot rock wall and electric gate, with video feed. Large work garage separated from house. Guardhouse. Hidden metal shutters to secure the property for weeks. Private registered well. Inside/outside kitchen. Propane fire pits. Several water features including a waterfall and a water bubble wall. Property can be purchased stand-alone with the house at $550K, or the whole mountain for further development at $950K.  Contact

Selva Rio
SELVA RIO ESTATES (SRE) is a 10-lot  development with lots starting at $65,000US. You know what they say "Location, Location, Location." Well SRE is  located only 10 kms. from Atenas (best climate in the entire world!),  only 3 kms. from Highway 27 access, only 3 kms. from grocery stores and restaurants, only 35 kms. (30 min) from SJO airport, only 50 kms. from  Pacific Ocean, only 42 kms. from Escazu, 0  kms. from gorgeous country living with nature!  Contact the developer at or call 8704-6106. We can help you build your dream home now!

Lundquist photo
More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

Beautiful fully renovated house in Bello Horizonte, Escazu, 446 sq. meters. Four bedrooms; four baths. Price includes all furniture and fixtures - ready to move in! Light, bright and airy....$499,500 USD. Telephone 2288.6451. More details HERE!

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean.  This design allows for barrier-free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room its spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors.  $365,000.00 or rent for $900 per month including WIFI and PLUS utilities.  Long term rentals only please.  Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage.  3 bedrooms/ 2 baths.  Fully furnished   Automatic entry gate.   Custom exotic wood cabinets   High end stainless steel appliances   Granite counter tops  Slide show at   
For more information contact:


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away.  Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails: and

Five bedrooms
Puntarenas City, Puntarenas
Beach home central Pacific Ocean
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach.  The home is completely furnished including all linens, kitchen cook ware, pots, pans, all dishes and much much more. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Office with all connections for WiFi,  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes all linens, TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances   Will consider trade for U.S. Property.  Asking  $250,000. 
Call Gary 8784-2945  English only, or email

Los Reyes home
House for sale in La Guacima, Alajuela
Located on 9th tee of Los Reyes Country Club. Club offers golf, tennis (6 courts), swimming pool, gym and restaurant. Easy access to schools, shopping, hospitals & Caldera highway. One hour to Pacific beaches. House price: US $450,000.00. Contact Bill, Phone 506 -8878-9221  Email: Click on the link below for photos and additional details:

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

St. Michael
Ocean View estates inside a gated community from $5.94 M2.  Properties start at 39K. NO HOA FEES.  Community salt water modern waterfall swimming pools, organic vegetable gardens, exotic flower gardens, food forest, mature orchards, fresh fish from aquaponics, stables, community center, and much more.  Each lot comes with an edible landscaping including pineapples, plantains, papayas, guanabanas, bananas, and more.  Most lots already have mature mango, lemon, orange, or caimito trees.  This is the most secure community in CR with multiple sources of water, electric, and high speed internet.

Real estate services
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Business for sale or lease (paid category)
Gingerbread Boutique Hotel and Fine Restaurant For Sale
botique hotel
A very  famous, highly regarded unique lake view themed boutique hotel consisting of three air conditioned suites with satellite TV and high speed Internet, two themed cottages with garden showers, one large super suite with kitchen and garden shower, managers apartment, restaurant rated one of the best restaurants in Costa Rica {see reviews} and the premier real estate office at Lake Arenal,which puts all its clients in to the hotel, plus room for additional lake view rooms and a pool, all less than a mile from Nuevo Arenal and the public park on the lake.  Go to the Web site for photos and complete information  at  This is the finest boutique hotel in Costa Rica in one of the fastest growing areas of all of Central America.  Sale opportunity $750,000.   Contact to :
Terry Moran, Owner Email: 
Office phone: 506 2694-0088  Cell phone: 506 8880-8888 
USA # rings in Costa Rica:  305 307-0088

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 services
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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Friday June 27, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 126
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
cocaine truck
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo 
Packages were in this hidden compartment in the truck

Carrillo raid yields 720 kilos of cocaine

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Based on information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, anti-drug police raided two homes in the Lomas del Mar subdivision in the Sardinal district of Carrillo Thursday. They confiscated 720 kilos of cocaine, they said.

They also found plastic containers suggesting that there was some relationship with seagoing smugglers in the nearby Pacific.

Some 212 kilos of the drug were in a hidden compartment under the bed of a truck.  Another vehicle yielded bags with 451 kilos of cocaine, anti-drug agents said.

Four persons were detained.

The case was the most significant of several drug-related arrests Thursday.

California pair held in green card scam

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A Los Angeles-area immigration consultant and one of her employees were arrested Thursday morning after being named in an indictment that alleges they filed fraudulent green card applications on behalf of immigrants who were married to U.S. citizens, some of whom paid more than $20,000 for their services.

They are Claudia Arreola, 35, of El Monte, who owns California Immigration Services, and her business associate, Leticia Gutierrez, 35, Pico Rivera. They were taken into custody by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The two women were charged in a six-count indictment returned Tuesday by a federal grand jury.

“Fraud scams run by so-called notarios threaten the integrity of the immigration process and offer false hope to desperate people,” said U. S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr. “The two women in this case victimized immigrants for years by giving the false impression that they could fix immigration problems.”

According to the indictment, the defendants submitted paperwork to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on behalf of six foreign nationals who were seeking to obtain green cards for permanent resident status based on legitimate marriages to U.S. citizens. The applications filed by the defendants allegedly included fraudulent I-94 cards indicating that the immigrants, who originally came to the U.S. illegally, entered lawfully on visitors’ visas.

The immigrant victims were originally quoted fees of approximately $7,000, but the defendants ultimately charged them as much as $24,000, the indictment said. Investigators say when several of the foreign nationals sought refunds after they failed to receive green cards, the defendants threatened to contact authorities and have the aliens deported.

“Tragically, as is often true in such scams, at least some of the victims in this case could have obtained green cards legally,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles. “Instead, they placed their trust and, in many cases, their life savings in the hands of individuals who were focused on enriching themselves, rather than on helping hopeful immigrants realize the American dream.”

This case is part of an ongoing, nationwide effort by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to target unscrupulous immigration practitioners and combat the unauthorized practice of immigration law, officials said.

Costa Rican News
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The CAFTA Report
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From Page 7:

Hydro project among those getting blue flags

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Various offices and agencies of the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad received a total of 60 awards Thursday from the Programa Bandera Azul Ecológica.

Among the blue flag awards was one for Río Reventazón hydro project, said the company known as ICE. This is a major project to double the electrical generating capacity.

In all, 600 awards were handed out. Receiving them were such companies and organizations as Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia, Banco Davivienda, Hotel Punta Leona, Hospital Clínica Bíblica, Tiendas Gollo Oficinas Centrales and Pizza Hut.

The awards are annual to entities that take action to conserve resources, protect natural resources or improve public health.