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June 29, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 128
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Fire breaks out at ICE substation in Desamparados
Updated: June 29 at 10:45 a.m.

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About 10 units and 35 firefighters were at the Instituto Costarricense de la Electricidad facilities in El Porvenir de Desapamparados in San José.

According to a Facebook statement issued Wednesday at around 7:30 p.m., the Benemérito Cuerpo de Bomberos de Costa Rica reports that the fire has been contained but that residents should avoid the surrounding homes.

The reason for the fire has not yet been confirmed but firefighters from the Pavas, Central, Desamparados and Barrio Lujan are reported to have arrived at the scene to assist containment. The Bomberos have not yet released any report on injuries, deaths or damage related with the fire at the substation.

Video postings show that the smoke plume from the fire reached a substantial height to be seen from a distance. Power outages are reported in the Mercedes and Sabanilla area of the Montes de Oca municipality but it is unclear if those are in relation to the substation being knocked offline due to the fire.

In a statement issued Thursday by the Instituto Costarricense de la Electricidad, power was restored at 95 percent of the affected sectors after eight continuous hours of work.

The only sector left that needs power after the fire was the sector of El Porvenir de Desamparados, the original area where the damage was most intense.

Fire at the
                            ICE facilities

Benemérito Cuerpo de Bomberos photos
Images grabbed from recorded video.

Officials expect to restore power completely by the end of Thursday afternoon.

According to a report issued Thursday morning by the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, more than 80 police officers arrived on the scene in order to prevent thefts and robberies from occurring in the wake of Wednesday’s fire.
Police said that no property crimes were registered through the course of and after the emergency.

Festival work
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo
Wednesday rain causes a temporary halt to preparations for the Festival Internacional de las Artes opening today at 6 p.m. at the Plaza de la Democracia.

                            Internacional de las Artes 2016
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo
Fiddlers, artists, musicians and performers are all coming to the capital today and in the coming week for the international arts festival.
Organizers said hundreds of artists from all around the world will be coming out for the series of free events. Interested participants can check out the festival website for scheduling and more information.

Festival Internacional de las Artes begins today

Bus for San
                            Jose-Barrio Mexico
Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
Bus authorities promise that routes such as this one will remain open.
Companies rush to grab new concession opening
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three bus companies have already begun the fight to get as many concessions as possible, after Transportes Guilial S.A decided not to continue the operation of several bus lines in the center of San José.

On a letter sent to the Consejo de Transporte Público on Tuesday, Transportes Guilial SA informed the decision of giving up their concessions to exploit the Barrio Escalante, Barrio México and Barrio La Cruz bus lines. The company said the new system implemented by the government to establish the fares do not generate enough income.

“That's the first time I hear of a company giving back its concessions but its right as long as it provide notice so the service is not interrupted,” Mario Zárate, director of the Consejo.

Zárate explained he and his people are already working on a schedule to find a new operator and so far they have gotten three offers from private investors to take over the service. Zárate refused to name the companies interested.

On Friday, the Consejo will issue a public document with all the requirements other bus companies should comply with if they want to get one or all of the concessions. From July 3 to 5, it will receive all the offers from those interested.

On June 8 and 9, The Consejo’s technicians will further study the proposal and do some field inspections.

Then they will make the proper recommendations and by Wednesday, July 10, the Consejo will decide what company will operate the routes.

Zárate also said no company showing up to bid for the concessions is almost an impossible scenario, so they are not even thinking about it.

“The law guarantees all operators to cover their costs and also have a revenue for that,” explained Zárate.

“It is a very attractive business because the supply of passengers is never ending.”

Guilial SA and Buses INA-URUCA went on strike last June 13 and stopped their services for one entire day. The decision affected about 60,000 passengers, according to data released by the Consejo.

The two companies belong to a Lebanese national and they both requested an emergency hike in the bus fares or else they would should down.

The response at the time came from Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos, the government agency in charge of establishing the fares.

The Autoridad said the said companies could request a review of the fare through the same process every other transportation company goes through.

At that time, the Consejo said it would start a process to fine the operators for their strike and even seek to revoke their concession.

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Regional drug effects monitor created

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health authorities from across Central America and the Dominican Republic established a platform that will allow them to carry out online reports of adverse drug reactions, according to a statement from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social.

The platform, called Noti-Facedra, is a reporting system that is supposed to aggregate reports of suspected adverse reactions from various pharmaceutical drugs and prescribed medicines detected by health officials. The idea is to allow authorities from the Central American region and the Dominican Republic to follow up on drugs marketed in the region and to take action if needed.

According to the Pharaceuticology Department of the Caja, the platform is a valuable instrument that adds to ongoing efforts to ensure quality and safety of certain drugs arriving and being used in the country. The Caja said in a statement that this represents the first time that a whole region is participating in a harmonized system.

Doctors at the Pharaceuticology Dept. explained that using this platform would allow them to visualize what kind of adverse reactions are being reported in other nations and compare them with the situation facing the country.

Currently, 85 percent of adverse reactions are recorded at the Centro Nacional de Farmacovigilancia  or are alerted by health professionals at the Caja. Most adverse effects from drugs were found to be associated with the respiratory system, the skin and gastrointestinal tract, the Caja said.

The platform was enabled by the Caja last Friday.

Environment groups denounce officials

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Frente Ecologista Nacional and several other environmental organizations denounced what they called a lack of commitment from the government in regards an agreement reached on June 19, 2017

On a statement, the Frente said Casa Presidencial failed to honor a scheduled visit to several pineapple plantations in the northern area of the country, a visit planned to happen on June 29 after the 180 kilometer march the farmer Jorge Castro made to meet with the president on May 19.

According to the organizations, the president and several of his ministers signed an agreement to make a field trip to several  pineapple plantations and assess their impact on the local environment and economy. That trip was supposed to happen two weeks after Castro’s march.

However, the meeting was postponed three times and finally called off due to alleged attacks on social media to Luis Arauz, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, according to a letter sent by a man identified as Raymi Padilla on behalf of the Ministerio de la Presidencia.

It said they cannot accept a request of five ministers to visit the area and also tolerate attacks that are likely defamatory, the document reads. In one of the videos, Castro encourages the minister to admit he receives payments from the pineapple companies and then and asks him to become more a man, as A.M. Costa Rica could verify.

The letter also mentions the lack of an organized plan as one of the reason the trip fell through.

The environmentalists said it is not possible to say in advance what plantations they wanted to visit with the authorities, as some of the owners run and make temporary changes to the sites to provide a sense of legitimate working conditions.

“That's just a sorry excuse to not comply with signed commitments,” the statement signed by Vargas himself said.

“We totally question the moral fitness of Minister Luis Arauz, who is a loyal defender of the pineapple industry, as anyone can see in his articles,” the document adds.

The letter is also signed by other enviromental organizations such as Amigos de Pacuare, Asociación de Ecología Social and the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de La Guaria de Pocosol, San Carlos.

Canatur says no to canopy royalty dues

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Right now, Canopy tour operators are safe and do not have to pay any patent royalties or permits for using their infrastructure, the Cámana Nacional de Turismo said in a statement.

According to the organization, records on the Registro Nacional show that a patent on Canopy filed by Canadian citizen Darren Hreniuk expired on Oct. 10, 2010. Thus it cannot be used to charge anyone who provides that service.

The discovery also makes it impossible for municipalities to notify or close businesses which exploit zip-lines in their facilities.

In fact, the Cámara will send an explanatory letter to all the municipalities so that they are aware of the current situation and avoid confusions. 

If any municipality does intimidate Canopy owners, it would be acting without legal support, the Cámara added.

"We have enough arguments to prove that man's claims do not have any legal basis," Isabel Vargas, president of Canatur, said. 

The case goes back to May 2017, when a court of law said Hreniuk had the right to be compensated for the unlawful use of one of his inventions: The Canopy Tour.

The man claimed he was the first one to come up with the canopy tour concept and demanded money from other companies that allegedly followed in his idea.

At the time, Hreiniuk’s legal counsel issued a press release  saying that they were going to give 15 working days starting on June 1 so that owners and operators of canopies can contact them and reach an agreement to continue operations.

For those that do not know, a canopy tour is an established route through a wooded or mountainous landscape using a zip-line or aerial bridges between platforms built in trees. Usually in both instances, tourists are harnessed to a cable without interruption throughout the entirety of the experience.

“We want businessmen to feel safe and supported by the chamber, as this is one of the most important tourist activities for which we are recognized as a destination worldwide,” Ms. Vargas said at the time.

“For many years, we have improved it in aspects of security, quality and differentiation by private initiative. Many small and medium-sized businesses live on this and we will not allow abuses of any kind,” she also added at the time.

Since then, a group of lawyers from the Cámara have been looking for a strategy to avoid any royalty payments.

Libertarians want alcohol ads in sports

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

Legislators from the Movimiento Libertario party are pushing the approval of a bill that would allow alcohol-producing companies to sponsor sports activities.

The initiative is called Ley para permitir el patrocinio del deporte por compañías que producen y comercializan bienes con contenido alcohólico. According to the Libertarians, that would allow teams to benefit from the income and comply with their social duties, improve wages and also sports infrastructure.

The Costa Rican laws on tobacco and alcohol forbid these companies from sponsoring social, cultural, scientific and sports events and investigations. Advertising in radio, open television and public events is also forbidden.

"The approval of this bill will strengthen the sport and through this, it would help thousands of young people to stay away from drugs," said Otto Guevara, head of the party.

In exchange for the payment, brands will benefit from great exposure, Guevara added. 

The bill would provide room for companies to organize their own sports activities, advertise television and radio broadcasts and sell alcohol in stadiums or gyms.

Right now the bill is under discussion in the Economic Affaires Committee at the Legislative Assembly.

Back in April, 2017 The Movimiento Libertario also filed a bill seeking to shut down the Instituto Costarricense de Alcoholismo y Fármaco dependencia, which is the government agency in charge of providing help to people with an addiction illness. 

At the moment, the Libertarians said the Ministerio de Salud should provide another approach to the problem since the institute could not demonstrate big achievements and people working there were doing nothing.

A.M Costa Rica tried to contact Luis Sandí, general director of the Instituto, but he did not reply back in time for publication.

That bill also establishes the creation of a specialized unit to take care of addictions, within the health ministry. In addition, the Ministries of Health and Public Education would work on prevention programs. 

"This bill seeks a better administration of public funds in a time where we are called to austerity.  It is time to strengthen the ministries and other autonomous institutions,"said Guevara at the time.

News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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  Published || Thursday Edition, June 29, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 128
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Two U.S. singers joining upcoming national symphony concert
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 180 musicians, including two U.S. singers, from the national symphony orchestra and choir will perform the Second Symphony of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler this coming Friday.

According to a statement provided by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and the Coro Sinfónico Nacional will pay in the Basílica of Santo Domingo de Heredia.

Mahler’s Second Symphony, popularly known as “the Resurrection,” is one of the composer’s most well-known pieces. It was composed between 1888 and 1894 but is still widely played across the globe.

The musicians will be joined by two U.S. citizens, soprano Mary Wilson and mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore. Ms. Wilson has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras among others, the cultural ministry said.

Ms. Lattimore was nominated for a Grammy award and has worked with the New York City Opera and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The concert series is a part of the VI Concierto of the official 2017 season for the orchestra. It will open Friday at 8 p.m. as well as Sunday at 1 p.m., organizers said. The show is free and open to the public.
"This week, we have a rather unusual work with Mahler’s Second Symphony, one of the masterpieces of the universal repertoire,” José Aurelio Castillo, a member of the orchestra, said.

“An enormous symphony that takes chorus and singers and that this year will be played in the Basilica of Santo Domingo de Heredia, which influences the work due to its acoustics and technical details of the orchestral work.”

This represents the first time that the official season for both the choir and the orchestra will begin at the basilica. The last time the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional and the Coro Sinfónico Nacional came together to play this work was in 2010 for the farewell concert of a former director.

StandUp Paddle racing will be at Central American surf competition
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The International Surfing Association has announced that StandUp Paddle racing will now be included in the 2017 Central American Games.

This marks the first time that SUP, as it is more commonly known as, will be featured in the regional competition. According to a statement from the surf association, the games will begin Dec. 3, 2017, and will take place in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua.

The actual surfing and SUP racing competition will be at San Juan del Sur, just across the border with Costa Rica and a popular perpetual tourist destination.

Athletes from Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panamá, Honduras, Nicaragua and Belize will compete for the gold. The shortboard surfing competition will feature four men and two women from each country, the association said.

StandUp Paddle racers
International Surfing Association photo
Paddle surfers will now race in the regional games.

Meanwhile, the longboard competition will feature two men from each nation with SUP Racing seeing a man and woman take to the water. This comes just a year after the association celebrated its progress of including surfing as a sport in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
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Salsa Lizano
Published || Thursday Edition, June 29, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 128
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Venezuela court comes
under attack by helicopter

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuela’s high court justices declared themselves under terrorist threat Wednesday, a day after an allegedly stolen police helicopter dropped several grenades on the Supreme Court building and fired shots at Interior Ministry offices.

"We declare that the Supreme Court, the magistrates, and other judges of the country are under the threat of terrorism,” said the court’s president, Maikel Moreno. “Because of that we will ask to take measures to guarantee the safety and integrity of the institutions and its workers."

Authorities were searching Wednesday for the pilot, identified as Oscar Perez, who commandeered the helicopter and flew a banner saying “Freedom!” Perez had a starring role in the action film “Death Suspended," playing a government agent who rescues a kidnapped businessman.

No one was injured in what President Nicolas Maduro also described as a thwarted terrorist attack. It occurred while the socialist leader was giving a news conference carried live on TV. “I have activated the entire armed forces to defend the peace,” he said.

But Maduro’s opponents questioned the terrorism designation, suggesting the attack was staged to give him license to use force against his critics and to proceed with a July 30 constitutional assembly to revise that fundamental document.

“I’m not at all convinced by the helicopter incident,” Miguel Rodriguez, a former interior minister and intelligence chief, told Reuters Wednesday.

Rodriguez, who had worked for Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, recently broke with the government. He questioned how the helicopter could fly near government institutions without challenge by Venezuelan security forces.

“Conclusion: a cheap show,” Rodriguez continued. “Who gains from this? Only Nicolas, for two reasons: to give credibility to his coup d'etat talk, and to blame Rodriguez," he said of himself.

On Tuesday, armed civilians and National Guard troops roughed up several opposition lawmakers as they tried to enter the Legislative Palace. One shoved National Assembly President Julio Borges as he and others tried to enter the building.

On Wednesday, some of those lawmakers registered an official complaint at the office of Venezuela’s attorney general, Luisa Ortega Diaz, a Chavez protégé who also has broken ranks with Maduro.

"We cannot permit … an official with a uniform to come and run over, beat us, mistreat us,” said Denis Fernandez, one of the lawmakers hit in Tuesday’s fracas. She said that she and others were filing the complaint to show they are not going to scale back the struggle to defend the constitution.

Delsa de Solórzano, another lawmaker, said attackers’ blows deformed her spinal column. She said she would ignore orders for medical rest because this country is not for rest.

On Wednesday, anti-government demonstrators in Caracas blocked streets with furniture, tree limbs, plants, rocks and broken glass as part of a nationwide protest scheduled from noon to 4 p.m. Protests have continued almost daily for three months, with clashes between Maduro’s foes and his supporters and security forces claiming at least 76 lives.

The latest victim: a 25-year-old man who was killed near a protest in Caracas’ Petare slum, Venezuelan authorities said Wednesday.

Maduro repeatedly has accused the United States of instigating the unrest in his country.

In Washington, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, urged continued pressure on Maduro to prevent further bloodshed.

At last week’s annual meeting of the Organization of American States’ General Assembly, U.S. officials urged passage of a measure to set up a committee to work with Venezuelans in restoring democratic norms. The measure failed to win sufficient support from the OAS’ 34 member nations.

In pressing the Maduro administration to hold long delayed democratic elections, the U.S. Treasury Department in May froze the assets of eight Venezuelan Supreme Court justices for trying to strip power from their country’s legislative branch two months earlier.

In February, the Treasury froze the assets of Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami and a business associate for involvement in international drug trafficking.

Hacked screen
Symantec photo       
Screenshot of the latest cyber attack.

Europol says cyber attack
more sophisticated than last

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A cyber-attack Tuesday that hit companies across the world is similar to a ransomware attack last month that targeted hospitals in Britain, although the most recent hack was potentially more sophisticated, according to the European police agency.

Europol director Rob Wainwright called the hack another serious ransomware attack. He said it bore resemblances to the previous "WannaCry" hack, but also showed indications of a more sophisticated attack capability intended to exploit a range of vulnerabilities.

The WannaCry hack sent a wave of crippling ransomware to hospitals across Britain in May, causing the hospitals to divert ambulances and cancel surgeries. Researchers eventually found a way to thwart the hack, but only after around 300 people had already paid the ransom.

The cyberattack Tuesday caused disruptions at companies in 64 different countries, including U.S. Merck pharmaceutical company, Russia's Rosneft oil giant, British advertising agency WPP and French industrial group Saint-Gobain.

It also disrupted operations Wednesday at India's largest container port, adding to the headaches of governments and businesses affected by so-called ransomware code that takes a user's data hostage until the victim agrees to pay for its release.

The problems at Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai involved a terminal run by Danish shipping outfit A.P. Moller-Maersk.

The company had said Tuesday as the attack was spreading largely in Europe and the United States that the malicious code was affecting terminals in a number of ports.

Australia's Cyber Security Minister Dan Tehan told reporters Wednesday that officials have not yet confirmed the same computer virus was responsible for ransomware attacks on two Australian companies, but that all indications would point to that being the case.

Banks, government offices and airports in Ukraine were among the first to report the cyberattack.

A U.S. National Security Council spokesman said the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and other agencies are working with public and private, domestic and international partners to respond to this event and provide technical information for prevention and remediation.

Europol's European Cybercrime Center has told anyone affected by Tuesday's attack to report the crime to national police, and encouraged them not to pay any ransom requested by hackers.

The computer virus used in the attack includes code known as Eternal Blue, a tool developed by the NSA that exploited Microsoft's Windows operating system and which was published on the internet in April by a group called Shadowbrokers. Microsoft released a patch in March to protect systems from that vulnerability.

Tim Rawlins, director of the Britain-based cybersecurity consultancy NCC Group, says these attacks continue to happen because people have not been keeping up with effectively patching their computers.

"This is a repeat WannaCry type of outbreak and it really comes down to the fact that people are not focusing on what they should be focusing on, the very simple premise of patching your systems," Rawlins said.

Haley tells Congress U.S.
assuming more assertive role

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told a congressional panel Wednesday that the United States is now taking a more assertive role at the world body to hold North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and other authoritative regimes accountable.

"Our friends and our rivals know that America has once again found its voice at the United Nations," Haley told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "The international community is now very clear about what the U.S. is for and what the U.S. is against."

Ms. Haley, a former South Carolina governor who has served in the U.N. post for five months, said she successfully pushed the U.N. Security Council to adopt additional measures against North Korea's continued nuclear weapons development and missile tests, while drawing a red line against Syria's use of chemical weapons that led President Donald Trump to launch a missile attack against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"The U.S. mission now refuses to tolerate one of the U.N.'s most disreputable and dangerous habits: obsessive bashing of Israel," she said.

The top Democrat on the panel, Congressman Eliot Engel of New York, praised Ms. Haley's tenure, saying she had approached the job with a zest and verve that is very refreshing. But he criticized a call by Trump to cut U.S. funding of the United Nations operations.

"My job was to go in and see if I could find value in the U.N.," Ms. Haley said about the prospective cut in U.S. funding.

"That was the directive all of you gave me, that was the directive the president gave me. There are a lot of places that the U.N. is very effective. There's a lot of fat around the edges, and some abuses that happen at the U.N., but I do think it is very important that we make the most of it."

Another Democrat, New York's Gregory Meeks, told Ms. Haley that it was absolutely shocking to me that Ms. Haley said she had not talked with Trump about Russian meddling in last year's election, a key focus on the Washington political scene at the moment.

Skin patch vaccine
Protects against influenza

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists have developed a skin patch that may soon take the ouch out of being vaccinated.

Every year, in the United States, less than half of the adults who should get a flu vaccine actually get the shot.

That's a problem because while most people tend to think of influenza as a mild disease, the infection can be deadly, especially in the elderly, young children and people with compromised immune systems.

To help raise that percentage researchers have developed a self-administered skin patch to protect against seasonal influenza as well as a shot. Researchers who developed the vaccine patch said it has a lot of advantages over an injection.

Nadine Rouphael was principal investigator of the patch at Emory University School of Medicine in Georgia where she’s a professor of infectious diseases.

“The patch looks more like a Band Aid, like a nicotine patch, and then it has multiple very small needles that contain, in this case, influenza vaccine. Those microneedles completely dissolve into the skin and there will be no sharp waste afterwards,” Ms. Rouphael said.

The flu vaccine is currently administered by an injection into the muscle of the upper arm. It is painful and can leave some redness and swelling, which is why an estimated 60 percent of adults do not get immunized against seasonal flu.

In the first human clinical trial of the patch at Emory's Hope Clinic, 100 participants aged 18 to 49, tested the effectiveness of the vaccine patch.

The trial, reported in the journal “The Lancet,” took place in June 2015. None of the participants had received a flu vaccine during the previous influenza season.

The participants were divided into four groups. In one group the patch was administered by a health care provider, in the second it was self-administered by each participant, a third group received the vaccine via injection and a fourth group got a placebo.

Ms. Rouphael said the patch, whether it was put on the skin by a health care provider or by the participants, was as safe and effective as the intramuscular injection.

Side effects were limited to mild redness and swelling that lasted for a few days. More importantly, the researchers found the immune responses were present in both the patch group and those who received the injection six months later, meaning they offered comparable protection.

The patch would only have to be put on the skin for a few minutes and then thrown away. Ms. Rouphael said 70 percent of those who received the patch in the trial indicated they would prefer it over an injection.

Because it does not need refrigeration, Ms. Rouphael said the patch could be bought off a store shelf or mailed to patients. The fact that it is painless, said Ms. Rouphael, means more people are likely to get vaccinated against the seasonal flu virus.

The patch’s manufacturer, Global Center for Medical Innovation in Atlanta, is investigating using the device for other vaccines, including for measles, mumps and rubella.

UAE sends Yemeni suspects
to secret Eritrean prisons

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United Arab Emirates has transferred terrorism suspects from Yemen to a secret prison in Assab, Eritrea, according to former detainees and Yemeni officials.

The facility on the Red Sea coast is part of a regional network of prisons in which torture and abuse are rampant, independent investigations by the Associated Press and Human Rights Watch have revealed.

Kristine Beckerle, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, says the UAE and its Yemeni partners view the prisoners as high-value terrorism suspects who are accused of a variety of things related to the UAE efforts against al-Qaida in Yemen.

During a six-month period, researchers at Human Rights Watch visited Yemen to document abuses against detainees.

Ms. Beckerle's team discovered some prisoners had been taken to Assab, where the UAE has operated a military base for nearly two years. She said certain details, including how many prisoners the UAE is holding in Eritrea, are difficult to verify due to lack of access to the facilities and denials by UAE and Eritrean officials.

Without direct access, the group relied on interviews with former detainees, family members, lawyers and Yemeni officials.

Since March 2015, the UAE has been part of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia to defeat Houthi rebels in Yemen. The coalition has also sought to decimate al-Qaida's Yemen branch.

But Human Rights Watch says the coalition's efforts have a dark side. It accused the UAE of torturing prisoners at informal detention facilities in Yemen and isolating them from the outside world.

The organization documented 49 people including four children who were detained or forcibly disappeared, and says security forces backed by the UAE arrested 38.

Family members of detainees told HRW that their relatives were subjected to beatings with fists or metal objects, electric shocks, canings, forced nudity and threats to family members.

Reached by phone, Eritrea's Minister of Information, Yemane Gebremeskel, denied the accusations and referred to a Twitter message in which he called the reports patently false.

In a statement, UAE's Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed the report as baseless and denied claims the UAE military is operating secret prisons in southern Yemen.

The statement made no mention of prisons in Eritrea.

The revelations of torture have prompted U.S. Senators John McCain of Arizona and Jack Reed of Rhode Island to call for an investigation into the alleged abuses and any role the United States has played in the interrogations.

The United States has provided logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition, working especially closely with the UAE. In its reporting, the AP found U.S. forces were involved in interrogations, but uncovered no evidence they participated in or knew about abuse of detainees.

The U.S. may also need to reconsider the veracity of whatever intelligence the interrogations produced.

U.S. Congress readies
North Korea travel ban

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Both chambers of Congress are readying legislation to bar Americans from traveling to North Korea after the death of a U.S. citizen held by Pyongyang and amid the continued detention of three others.

The perils of travel to North Korea were highlighted earlier this month by the death of 22-year-old American student Otto Warmbier, who was imprisoned in the country for allegedly stealing a poster, and then was returned to the United States in a coma with fatal brain damage.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to take up the North Korea Travel Control Act in a matter of days or weeks. The bill bars tourist travel and would require a special permit for other travel purposes to North Korea. A Senate version is said to be on a similar timetable.

In both chambers, restricting travel to North Korea has bipartisan support. Backing is not universal, however, with some lawmakers bristling at the idea of telling their constituents where they may travel.

Senators spoke after the Foreign Relations Committee received a classified briefing by the State Department's top North Korea policy specialist. Corker declined to discuss the specifics of the briefing, but said he is less optimistic that a negotiated agreement on Pyongyang's nuclear program can be reached.

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Beautiful Home and Land for Sale

Atenas home
Atenas Best climate, best views. Top of the mountain, Nestled on a two acre coffee farm with tropical gardens and fruit trees. 1200 meters. 

This home has 3 bedrooms and 3 baths with outdoor bathtub in master bedroom, Solar hot water, well, pool, indoor courtyard with fountains, living room has a fireplace. All rooms have outside sitting areas.

Private and secluded, cannot be seen from the road.
SANCTUARY OF PEACE!!! Price $750k call for viewing. phone 506-8831-8086  Email

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 Enjoy the most spectacular views in the valley in this 5 -story Penthouse.  One of a kind property on top of the Corobici / Crowne Plaza Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel plus other businesses.  Large Living Room, Elevator goes directly inside Penthouse.  Private hot tub deck and Dance floor with Spectacular views!!!  All exterior walls are glass or have windows. Commercial license is in place.  Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $695K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,500 per month on an annual basis.  This is a private condo residence and is Not associated with the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  

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Costa Rica contact:  Dan Wise, phone numbers:  2232-4063 / 2232-8610  Email:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puriscal home
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
This is a gorgeous, new, 3-bedroom luxury home on 2.2 flat acres in a secure, gated community, high in the hills of Puriscal, with stunning, 180-degree views of the ocean, city and mountains of the Central Valley in Costa Rica. Centrally located in the heart of Costa Rica, you are never more than an hour from the Pacific beaches while being much less than that to the culture, shopping, services and night life of the San José, Escazú, Santa Ana and the whole Central Valley. The Altos de Antigua gated community sits at an altitude of 2,800 feet with mild temperatures year round. Features wide paved roads and cement culverts throughout, a large community pool & spa with changing rooms & showers. The community association fees are $42 a month ($500 annually).
This property is currently being offered for $355,000.00 U.S.
Purchase adjoining 2.2 acre investment lot with the home sale for $35,000.00 U.S. or separately for $55,000.00 U.S.
    Summary of House Features:

       * Completed 2012 to North American standards
       * 3 large bedrooms, 2 full baths
       * Custom designed kitchen w/granite countertops
       * Frigidaire Professional appliance package
       * State-of-the-art solar hot water
       * Eco-friendly Toshiba LED lighting
       * LG Multi-Split air conditioning system
       * House & perimeter security alarm system
       * 2-car closed garage w/large paved driveway
Video Tour:
Community Web Site:
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email

COLINAS DEL SOL Fenced Gated Lots for Sale

* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit trees.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $40,000 USD
* Located in Libertad, Guanacaste, northwest Pacific area of Costa Rica.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
* 5 minutes to Vista Ridge Golf Club

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

For more information Click Here:

Etlinger Farm
Beautiful farm in excellent location
At only an hour's drive from San José, minutes from Guápiles, and boardering Braulio Carrillo National Park, Etlingera Farms is one heck of an amazing farm. We purchased this 77-acre farm 10 years ago after many trips, and an exhaustive search. It has a little bit of everything we were looking for and a whole lot of beauty. Our average elevation of 600 meters helps to keep Bella Vista cool year round. This farm is nearly level with a semi-modern 2-bedroom house. A fairly rustic 2-bedroom caretaker's home. And, a comfortable, 1-bedroom cabin where we stay. We have 2 large barns, a chicken coop, and a 3-stall pig pen. There are two tilapia ponds and 2 hectarias, (approximately 5 acres) of different species of bananas. The property boarders Rio Blanco in the rear and has 300 meters of public road frontage. Water, electricity, and telephone are all serviced by public utility. Etlingera Farms was reforested with several thousand wood trees of different tropical varieties. We truly believe this farm is spectacular. Our neighbors are selling for as much as $20 per meter. We are negotiable, motivated and open to offers. Our location can be found by searching Etlingera Farms on Google Maps. Our webpage is and photo album can be found at

horse ranch
Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need. The price of our listing Rancho Ricco is $799,000. More information
go to  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:

Owner Financing in San Ramon
New Construction, and Ocean View 
Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. Located only 45 minutes from the San Jose airport and about the same to the Pacific Ocean.  The lower level could be used as a separate apartment or mother-in-law setup. Home includes HUGE master  suite, CLOSETS, custom cabinets, granite counter tops, high wood ceilings, and all in an area that is 70-80 degrees year round. Priced at $199,000. Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour CLICK HERE or see our site here If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call # 509-570-1928 or email 

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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:

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Century 21

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Published || Thursday Edition, June 29, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 128
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Suspect treed by police in Orotina

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

It may be illegal to hunt in Costa Rica but police officers in Orotina managed to tree a suspect early Wednesday morning.

Authorities were alerted that someone had stolen a truck tractor by means of bajonazo, a type of hold-up at gunpoint that usually occurs when a motorist is stopped at a traffic signal or parked and the thief appears at the window or door with a firearm. The incident occurred near the center of Turrúcares. A report from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública said that patrols were then sent out to shut down the roads while finding the stolen vehicle.

During an apparent police chase, two people ran out of the tractor to run into the bushes. One person was found hiding in a tree when found by the Fuerza Pública. Police forced the man down and detained him, the ministry report said.

Records indicate that treed suspect already has an outstanding warrant out for his arrest in another case of theft. The other person who ran away was not reported caught.

Police said that the suspect caught will now face a new criminal case for stealing the truck tractor.

Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad archive photo
Communication is back online for the isolated settlements.

Telecom connection repaired for isolated settlements in Zona Sur

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some residents near Alto Guaymí in Punta Burica no longer need to travel long distances just to talk with someone on the phone.

Last week, technicians with the Instituto Costarricense de la Electricidad installed a fixed cell tower that allows a stable, 24-hour connection, according to a statement by Casa Presidencial. The indigenous communities that were aided by this project such as in La Peñita, Alto Corona and La Palma lie to the far south of Costa Rica next to the Panamanian border.

“We no longer have to walk hours to communicated as we did with Hurricane Otto,” Venancio Guerro, the tribal leader at Alto Guaymí, said. “We were nearly 25 days without communication due to heavy rains we are very happy with this good and important service for the entire indigenous population.”

These works were carried out as part of the infrastructure repair following Hurricane Otto’s touchdown in Costa Rica back in November 2016. Although the hurricane hit the extreme north end of Costa Rica the hardest, the area around Punta Burica was affected due to its lack of accessibility, Casa Presidencial said in a statement.

The communities can only be entered via helicopter or by walking nearly six hours in the mountains through Puerto Armuelles in Panamá. The route along the Costa Rican coast is almost impossible, the government said, due to the complex topography and distance toward other settlements.

The signal coming to the area comes from a cellular antenna at La Cuesta, a border community located 28 kilometers on a straight line through an impassable mountain route. The new service complements the satellite link that ICE placed at the site four years prior.

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From page 7:

MSD opening regional office in Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A U.S.-based global pharmaceutical giant is preparing to establish a regional center for financial services in Costa Rica to support the company’s Latin American operation, according to the Costa Rican foreign trade ministry.

The head of the Ministerio del Comercio Exterior, Alexander Mora, congratulated Merck Sharpe & Dohme Corp. for its choice and trust in Costa Rica.

“With more than 45 years of roots in the country, MSD continues to invest in Costa Rica with a new operation that represents not only an opportunity for professional growth for many Costa Ricans, but clear evidence of the country’s ability to adapt to the demands of the market and international employers,” the minister said.

Merck Sharpe & Dohme Corp., more popularly known by its acronym MSD, touts itself as a leading biopharmaceutical company that has developed medicines and vaccines for the world’s most challenging diseases. The corporation operates in over 140 different countries beyond its headquarters in New Jersey.

Wire reports indicate that Merck was among many companies around the world that faced disruptions resulting from the global cyberattack Tuesday.

MSD in Costa Rica is mostly made up of local collaborators committed to the health of Costa Ricans, the foreign trade ministry said. “This new investment in the country adds much more value to the operations that MSD has in Costa Rica,” Jorge Sequeira, the general director for the Coalición Costarricense de Inciativas de Desarrolo. “Companies like MSD have helped the services sector represent over 45 percent of the country’s total value of exports, a figure we are sure will continue to grow in the coming years.”

The coalition is an international trade consultant that promotes investment in Costa Rica abroad. The group has offices in Escazú and in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

The regional center will being operations in late May, Comercio Exterior said. It will be located in City Place, Santa Ana. The company said it plans to hire staff in the short and medium term thanks to the operation. This will require personnel with knowledge in administration, accounting or finance and knowledge of a second language such as English, Portuguese or French.