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(506) 2223-1327       San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 29, 2009,  Vol. 9, No. 126       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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Investigators err and label expat's house a drug nest
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A New York man whose Golfito estate has been featured on television as a nest for drug smugglers is unhappy, to say the least.

He is Robert Carregal, who said he came here three years ago hoping to set up a sustainable community.

Judicial and anti-drug agents raided his compound, and the place has been featured on local television for a week.

The problem is that the investigators made a mistake and raided the wrong property.

Carregal suspects that investigators wanted to surprise those who might be in the property and did not speak with locals before conducting the raid. A judge issued the search warrant in Puntarenas, and the Carregal property meets the description: a large house on a hill overlooking the Gulfo Dulce.

The property investigators were supposed to search is owned by Ana Yanci Segura Picado, the wife of Puntarenas fishing operator Sigifredo Ceciliano Gamboa. This is part of the investigation into the shipment of two containers of frozen sharks to México.

The shipment also contained about 900 kilos of cocaine, according to the Mexican police.

When police raided Carregal's property June 20 they reported the land was riddled with tunnels probably used to store drugs. Television crews photographed a small concrete compartment under the kitchen and a larger underground compartment that was represented as a tunnel.

Carregal said the first compartment is for storing water and the second is for an electrical generator. He said there are no tunnels. The property is off the grid even though it is just 10 minutes by boat to Golfito. Carregal is selling the property and his Web page, which predates the police raid, mentions underground storage space.

Last week was slow for news until Thursday, so local television stations replayed and replayed photos of the Carregal property. They did so even though by Tuesday producers knew the property was the wrong one.

"I want this to stop and I want some recognition," 
Casa Bliss
Robert Carregal photo
used with permission
Local television viewers are sure to recognize this dwelling.

said Carregal in a weekend telephone interview. He was not in the Golfito area when police visited. They reported they found a maintenance man and a cleaning lady at the site.  Carregal said that the 30-hectare  (75-acre) property is being managed by a local Golfito firm. Monday investigators were told they had made a mistake by the management company, he said.

Apparently informants had said tunnels existed on the property. It is unclear if agents found tunnels on the nearby Segura property, but both the woman and her husband are in jail for preventative detention.

The Carregal property is the one with three nearby cabinas overlooking the gulf and a principal dwelling with an empty swimming pool. It also is distinctive by having a long uphill walkway from a boat dock to the main house. All these features were shown again and again on television. The owner said the complex originally was developed as a fishing lodge.

The situation would be more bearable for Carregal if he were not trying to sell the property. He said that a possible buyer backed away when he saw the compound featured on television. Carregal now is in San José.

Carregal said he found that subdividing the property for his proposed sustainable community was simply too difficult legally to do. So he has set up a Web site offering the property for $449,000.

He said he was reasonably well-known in the Golfito area and wondered why it took investigators so long to zero in on the Segura property. He said that locals had been voicing suspicious for years.

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Zelaya and Arias at press conference
Casa Presidencial photo
Zelaya, Arias and Rodrigo Arias, the president's brother at press conference

Efforts are under way to help
Zelaya reclaim his presidency

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
and wire service reports

Diplomatic efforts were under way Sunday night to return  José Manuel Zelaya to his position as president of Honduras.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez said Sunday that he would ask his foreign minister to amplify the agenda of the meeting today in Managua, Nicaragua, of the Sistema Integración Centroamericano to discuss the coup that ousted Zelaya early Sunday.

Arias made a point of hurrying to Juan Santamaría airport where he held a joint morning press conference with the Honduran president. Arias called upon all the other governments of the hemisphere to condemn the coup.

Meanwhile in Honduras, the military and congress were attempting to put a veneer of legality on the coup. Members of congress in special session heard a letter purportedly from Zelaya in which he resigned the presidency. In the Costa Rican press conference Zelaya denied signing the document. Then congressmen named their leader, Roberto Micheletti, as president of the country. They said that Zelaya's vice president was too ill to serve.

Nearly all of Zelaya's cabinet ministers were said to be in military custody. His wife was reported hiding in the mountains with her mother, but she spoke via telephone to television newscasters.

About 3,000 Honduran citizens rallied before the presidential palace there in support of Zelaya. Another group cheered Micheletti.

U.S. President Barack Obama says he is "deeply concerned" about the detention and expulsion of Zelaya by Honduran soldiers.

President Obama said the situation must be resolved peacefully through negotiations free from any outside interference. He called on all sides in Honduras to respect democratic norms and the rule of law.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the actions taken against Zelaya should be condemned by all.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez denounced Zelaya's arrest, and, according to the French news agency AFP, suggested the United States may have played a role, an allegation quickly rejected by the White House.

Chávez said he put his troops on alert and threatened military action if the Venezuelan ambassador to Honduras is harmed. The U.S. Southern Command maintains Joint Task Force Bravo at Soto Cano air base some 50 miles from the capital of Tegucigalpa, so any military effort by Chávez likely would be contested by U.S. forces.

The Organization of American States held an emergency meeting in Washington Sunday on the Honduran situation and passed a resolution calling for the immediate and safe return of the constitutional president.

The European Union was also quick to condemn the military's action against the Honduran president. The EU called for Zelaya's urgent release and a swift return to constitutional normality.

Honduran soldiers arrested  Zelaya early Sunday at his home. He arrived in Costa Rica via military jet in his pajamas about 8:10 a.m. The Honduran president was detained shortly before voting was to start in a non-binding referendum on changing the constitution to allow him to run for another term.  Zelaya had insisted on holding the referendum even though the Honduran Supreme Court ruled it illegal.

Zelaya left Costa Rica Sunday night on a jet provided by Chávez with the destination reported as Managua. Arias was to follow in time for the meeting there today.

The last coup in Latin America was in 2002 when Venezuelan opponents briefly overthrew Chávez, but he was able to resume the presidency with the support of the people and other military units.

Arias in his press conference referred to the era of frequent coups.   "We thought that the long night of the Latin American dictators had ended," said Arias. "It is a lamentable regression for Honduran, Central American and Latin American democracy. It is unacceptable to break the constitutional order."

Zelaya characterized himself as a guest and not a refugee in Costa Rica. He thanks Arias for the hospitality. He said he wanted to return as president and that he counted on the support of all the democracies of the Americas including the United States. Later he moved from the airport to the Hotel Cariari where he stayed until catching the Venezuelan flight.

Zelaya upset many Hondurans by promoting socialist policies and by his public friendships with Cuban leaders and Chávez. He has a strong opponent in the Catholic Church.

In Washington, State Department officials told reporters that efforts were being made to help Zelaya return.  U.S. officials are believed to have been in contact with Zelaya and also with his key opponents in Honduras.

Reports from Honduras said that the military cut off utilities and instructed news broadcasters to ignore the events.  Micheletti declared a curfew. There also was a report that César  Ham, a congressman for the leftist  Partido Unificación Democrática had been killed, but this was not confirmed officially. Others were said to have vanished.

Groupos supporting Zelaya and or democracy were planning to rally today at the Honduran Embassy in pavas.

Court orders worker payoff
to be increased by indexing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala II high labor court has ordered the indexing of a worker's claim.

This means that the claim will be increased based on the changes in the cost of living from the time the man left work until the required money was paid.

Employees in Costa Rica receive mandatory severance pay as well as a proportion of vacation and the Christmas aguinaldo when they are fired. In this case the individual was an employee of the Consejo Nacional de Producción and the Fábrica Nacional de Licores.

There was a dispute about the amount of his final pay off, and he filed a claim for severance pay, called cesantía, accrued interest and an amount compensating him for the decrease in the buying power of the colon caused by the delayed payment.

Traditionally the Sala II of the Corte Suprema has not awarded an amount for indexing, but it changed the rules in this decision, ordering the companies to pay a total of 1.4 million colons (about $2,500) including an amount for indexing. The man sought 40 days of severance pay.
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Court in San Ramón frees U.S. child abduction fugitive
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A court in San Ramón has ordered liberated a U.S. woman who is a felony suspect in an international child abduction case.

Several Costa Rican institutions, including the nation's chief
prosecutor, Francisco Dall'Anese, had rallied to her defense mostly on human rights grounds. The United States was seeking her extradition to answer the federal charge. The indictment was based on her flight from Humbolt county, California, in 2005 with her then-7-year-old daughter. She was in the middle of a custody battle.

The woman is Nicole Kater, who supported herself by selling handicraft at beach resorts. She spent 14 months in prison fighting
Ms. Kater
Nicole Kater
extradition after her arrest in April 2008 in Guanacaste. Since her flight to Costa Rica she gave birth to another child.

This is the second case in which Costa Rican officials and the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres intervened in order to frustrate a U.S. extradition case. The first was Chere Lyn Tomayko, who was granted refugee status by Janina del 

Vecchio, the security minister, in July 2008. Ms. Tomayko of Heredia spent 10 years as a fugitive in Costa Rica and only was detained after the child with whom she fled the United States turned 18. The awarding of refugee status effectively stopped the extradition.

The decision Friday was at the Tribunal de Casación Penal in San Ramón. The decision was expected because of the opinions expressed by Dall'Anese, the woman's institute, the Defensoría de los Habitantes and others. It is not known if any has had contact with court officials in California.

Ms. Kater was accused of kidnapping her daughter, Tierra Zion Gehl-Kater, and flying to Costa Rica, just 11 days before a custody hearing in Humboldt County. The court had forbidden Ms. Kater to take her daughter out of the county before the hearing scheduled for Aug. 17, 2005, said agents at the time of her arrest.

Ms. Kater claimed that she had been abused physically, although California sources said that she had not lived with the father of the child for a year.

International child abduction is covered by an international treaty that basically says that the court of original jurisdiction should handle the case. However, some officials in the Costa Rican court system are trying to set the county up as a judge in such cases under the guise of protecting human rights.

First section of asphalt going down on the Costanera Sur
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Asphalt work has started on a section of the Costanera Sur., the vital Pacific coast highway that has been promised for three decades.

President Óscar Arias Sánchez was in the area over the weekend and gave the symbolic go ahead to the final stage of the highway.

He also inaugurated a new bridge over the Río Naranjo between Savegre and Quepos. This is the fourth new bridge installed on this route.

A finished Costanera Sur is expected to give a boost to tourism, development and transportation. The bulk of the heavy traffic now takes the Interamericana highway that winds through San José and Cartago and then over Cerro de la Muerte. The Costanera allows motor transport  straight down the coastal highway. 

The highway has been gravel for years and a source of local air pollution as well as periodic washouts.

The highway jobs are valued at $33.6 million. Three contractors are at work on different sections of the 42-kilometer (26-miles) road. It runs from Dominical to just south of Quepos.

Officials hope the work is finished in October, weather
Arias on steamroller
Casa Presidencial photo
Óscar Arias gets to drive a steamroller on Costanera Sur

permitting. The area is notorious for heavy flooding, and more than one local bridge is destroyed each year.

The Río Naranjo bridge is costing $2.8 million, and it is 198 meters (about 650 feet). The concrete beams are 56 meters (184 feet), the longest of any bridge in Central America. The other three bridges span the rios Paquita, Portalón and Matapalo. Three more bridges are in construction.

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A.M. Costa Rica
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Republican and
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 29, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 126

Our reader's opinion
Development brought and still brings progress to Jacó

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Let's not forget the many benefits development has brought to Jacó.

It is easy to jump on the "stop progress" and "evil developer" bandwagon. With all due respect to Mr. Plumley (letter on June 22nd), he appears to be part of the problem he is defining and forgets to address all of the progress that has been made over the last five years. He is a developer who also purchased beachfront property, contributing to the rise in beach property prices and through sales efforts of his development, is attracting a growing population to Jacó.

The issue of allowing high rises should have been addressed in 2004 to 2005 when the first high rise was allowed to be built. Mr. Plumley is now asking the government to step in and cause undue hardship for others who have purchased property at the higher prices. Let the free markets dictate what prices will be. If Mr. Plumley and others are correct that Jacó is way overbuilt, then surely supply will grossly outweigh demand and real estate prices will drop (remarkably, this hasn't happened).

By the way, there are many Costa Rican families who benefited and profited by selling their beach properties and numerous others currently owned by Costa Rican's that are only willing to sell for $1,000/M2 or higher. Further, Mr. Plumley doesn't address the many benefits that he and the other "evil" developers that he referenced are creating, so I will.

Cleaner water. Yes, hard to believe, but when a new development is built, the old non-functioning septic systems go off line and new sewage treatment plants go online. The polluted water in rivers and streams are mostly from old, non-functioning septic systems and abuses up river. Acueductos y Alcantarillados has also pledged to build a municipal sewage treatment plant for Jacó, but we all know that only through developer and municipal contributions will this program be possible.

Better water pressure. Development has led to funding that has improved municipal wells and the water supply infrastructure. Just a few years ago, prior to the construction boom, the water in Jacó was lacking pressure or off more often then when functioning properly. Today, the pressure and reliability are much better.

New roads. The roads in Jacó were a disaster five years ago. No exaggeration, one needed to zig zag down main street to avoid axle breaking potholes! Some called it charm, but it wasn't charming when you received the bill from your mechanic. Today, 90 percent of the roads have new blacktop and are the best in Costa Rica (without toll roads like our friends in Escazú)!

Sustainable tax base. Beachfront properties were a steal 10 years ago, which also meant that the average property on the beach paid about $50 per year in property taxes. Tax revenue collected on just one small (developed) property has increased on average by more than 100 times the previous amounts. Multiply this out several times and it equals a lot of tax revenue. These are annual payments that will be paid to the community (from mostly foreign sources) forever! Building permit fees have also added hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue to the municipal budget.

Less Liter. Also, Jacó has less roadside litter than most Costa Rican cities and towns as full-time municipal staffers pick it up. Also, trash is collected three times a week.

Beach cleanliness. The beaches in Jacó were a disaster five years ago! At the river mouths were old sofas, car bodies, old refrigerators and lots of trash that the rains brought down from upriver. This trash sat on the beaches for weeks if not months and smelled, bred mosquitoes and was unsightly. Today, we have municipal staff that  
picks up trash and cleans the beach on a regular basis. We also have a $120,000 beach cleaner that was donated by one of the developers through our local Chamber of Commerce (CENPAC).

Police presence. Check out Jacó during the school break in the upcoming weeks. You will see that Tico families have returned and are enjoying the progress that has been made on the backs and finances of North American investors. Jacó has added numerous police officers including a new municipal police force in the last two years, and those who live here notice a difference, though there is room for better laws to rehabilitate and lock up repeat offenders.

Jobs. Tourism is a major employer in Costa Rica and with development come tourists and jobs. Employment in Jacó has increased several times in the last several years from construction to housekeeping to security to landscaping to cooks, etc. English-speaking Ticos are being paid above average and are becoming the new, middle class.

Private donations. The North American tourists who come and stay in the new condominiums in Jacó are very generous. Many bring school supplies and make donations for school uniforms, etc., not to mention the programs (like Serve Safe and others) that are being established to make our community better including investing in our schools and our children.

New park. A beautiful new park was built in the center of Jacó this year (by taxpayer money collected from beachfront developments), which includes gardens (donated by local developers and other businesses), a playground for children and an area for art and music festivals.

Fewer dogs. Thanks to the Mckee Project, Jacó has fewer dogs running wild. In 2005, packs of dogs would run free on the beach and in town. Time and money donations from the community helps this organization keep the dogs spaded and neutered and adopted and off the streets.

Future development needs to be monitored and planned, but not stopped. The fees from new construction along with this future tax base, if channeled and used correctly can continue to make Jacó the example of how popular beach towns should be developed in Costa Rica. Progress has its ups and downs and challenges, but in so many ways, Jacó is a better "community" than in years past and has the opportunity to set the bar for others to follow.

Ken Schaafsma
Oceanside Realty

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 29, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 126

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

Old pages

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

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

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


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


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


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

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Barrier reef in Belize put
on heritage danger list

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Threats to Belize's barrier reef reserve and Colombia's Los Katios National Park from deforestation, illegal fishing and excessive development have led the U. N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to inscribe the sites on its List of World Heritage in Danger.

The agency's World Heritage Committee, which is currently meeting in Seville, Spain, said the main problem with the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System concerns mangrove cutting and excessive development in the property which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1996.

The committee requested stricter control of development on the site — the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere — as well as the reinstatement of the moratorium on mangrove cutting on the site which expired in 2008.

Los Katios National Park was placed on the danger list at the request of Colombia so as to help mobilize international support for the preservation of the property which is threatened by deforestation, as a result of the illegal extraction of timber.

Inscribed in 1994 for its exceptional biological diversity, the site is also suffering from illegal fishing and hunting.

In other action, the 21-member committee inscribed the Stoclet House, a private residence in Brussels that dates back to 1911, on the World Heritage List.

When banker and art collector Adolphe Stoclet commissioned this house from one of the leading architects of the Vienna Secession movement, Josef Hoffmann, in 1905, he imposed neither aesthetic nor financial restrictions on the project.  The committee noted that the austere geometry of the house and garden "marked a turning point in art nouveau, foreshadowing art deco and the modern movement in architecture."

Also added to the World Heritage List was a Spanish lighthouse dating back to antiquity, the Tower of Hercules in La Coruña, and the towns of La Chaux-de--Fonds/Le Locle in Switzerland for their early city planning..

Paquera gets fire station

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Paquera on the Nicoya Peninsula now has a $1.14 million fire station. The structure was begun in 2008. Four firemen will be based permanently at the station.

Officials anticipate the construction of new stations in Orotina, Coronado, Curridabat, El Roble de Puntarenas and la Cruz de Guanacaste for next year.

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A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, June 29, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 126

Latin American news digest
Los Sueños golf pro honored

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Marriott Golf has named José Quesada, director of golf at La Iguana Golf Course, golf professional of the Year.  La Iguana is the 18-hole facility at Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort, Playa Herradura.

Marriott award is granted to an individual who consistently performs and exceeds in areas of sales and profit, leadership in personnel development. innovative program development and affinity programs, the company said.

Quesada has been a member of the Marriott team for over a decade, starting as the recreation manager at the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel west of San José.  He then moved on to become head golf professional at La Iguana in 2003 and was promoted to his current position, director of golf, in 2005.  Among other accomplishments, Quesada has promoted charitable tournaments and teaches golf to the handicapped, said the company.

Marriott Golf manages 57 golf courses at 41 locations in 11 countries.

Legion to hear lawyer

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

American Legion Post 10 of Escazú will hear Costa Rican lawyer Mayling Larios at its noon meeting Wednesday at the Bello Horizonte Country Club in Escazú.

The purpose of the talk is to provide information to U.S. citizens to help them follow the laws of Costa Rica and to prevent legal problems in this country, the Legion said. A question and answer session will follow her remarks.

All U.S. military veterans and their guests are invited to attend meetings held on the first Wednesday of every month the same location.

For further information those interested can contact Chuck Turner 2228-6014 or 8355-4488 and Mel Goldberg 2288-0454 or 8870-6756, the legion said.

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007  and 2008 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details