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These stories were published Monday, July 19, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 141
Jo Stuart
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Easements can let you retain your lifestyle
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is growing fast.  Much of the growth is uncontrolled and can trample you if you’re not careful.  Costa Rica has strong laws to protect intrinsic property rights, many of which are unknown and thus go unused here.

Powerful, little-known easement laws protect property owners so they can control what is built around them.  Much like the property rights law,  certain easement rights can be acquired over time, like the easements of right-of-way, right-of-view and right-of-illumination.  These and other important legal easement rights can also be transferred to another person acquiring a property making real estate much more valuable in the right situations.

The right of easement is the real power a property owner has over someone else’s property to make a specific use of it.  From the point of view of a real estate owner, an easement constitutes a lien that restricts its property rights. 

In legal terms, an easement is a right where the proprietor of a piece of land, called the dominant estate, has the legal right to make some kind of actions or to make a particular use of an adjoining property, called the servant estate.

An easement, to validly exist according to the law in Costa Rica, needs to give a usefulness or utility which satisfies an interest of another.  No easement can be more extensive than the value it gives.  The different kinds of interests include: economical, esthetic, environmental, and conservational among others.  They can also be expressed or implied.

The basic content of an easement is the straight power the owner of the dominant estate has over the servant estate. For example, the right to cross the servant estate’s property for a right-of-way to the dominant estate’s property, or to prohibit any construction or growing trees if it is an easement for the right-of-view or for the right-of-illumination.

The main characteristics of easements here are: 1) they cannot be divided, which means if the servant estate is segregated, the new lots will carry the easement, 2) they are accessory rights and cannot be separate from the property rights of the dominate estate and 3) they can only be registered against a property different than the dominant estate. So the same property cannot be the dominant estate and servant estate for the same easement.

The various classifications of the easements are broken down into continual and non continual, apparent and non apparent, legal and voluntary.

Continual easements are registered once and do not need intervention to continue to operate. Some examples of continual easements are: an easement for the right-of-way, the right-of-view, an easement for the-right-of illumination. Others are easements of electrical wiring and/or water flow.

Non continual easements are used at time intervals and depend on actions to operate, for example an easement of water collection. Non continual easements cannot be acquired over the passage of time, for example, walking across another’s property to go fishing.

Apparent easements are visible and conspicuous, revealing their use and existence, like the easement for the right-of-way, the right-of-view, the right-of-illumination, and the right-of-electrical wiring and/or water flow.

Non apparent easements are not visible and conspicuous, making them hard to define, like an easement for underground services.   It is important to note that the right of easement based on the passage of the time can only be acquired on continual and apparent easements. Non continual and Non apparent easements can only be acquired by agreement or in a last will and testament.

A.M. Costa Rica illustration
Easements can keep the backhoes away

Right-of-Way Easement (Servidumbre de Paso) A right-of-way easement that give someone the right to travel across property owned by another person.
Right-of-View Easement (Servidumbre de Vista) A right-of-view easement will restrict any building or landscaping which will restrict a property's scenic and open condition.
Right of Illumination (Servidumbre de Iluminación)  A right-of-illumination easement will restrict any building or landscaping which will restrict a property's lighting.  Includes someone over lighting a property engulfing another. 
Right of Public Services Servidumbre de Servicios Públicos
Right of Public Access Servidumbre de MOPT
Right of Water Flow Servidumbre de Acueductos (AyA)
Right of Oil Flow (RECOPE) Servidumbre de RECOPE
Right of Conservation Servidumbre de Conservación

Legal easements are established by the law. Some examples of legal easements are: 

1) in a town where the people might need to collect water from a river crossing a private property, a water collection easement can be created (Costa Rica Water Right Laws), and 

2) some properties with public road frontage are prohibited from construction in front of the public road without a previous authorization from the Costa Rican transportation department. (Costa Rica Public Road Law). 

Voluntary easements can be of any kind and created by an agreement between two parties. To be valid they need to be duly registered at the Registro National, or Costa Rica’s national registry. 

Easement rights can be protected with different kinds of court procedures.  Interdictos, or injunction lawsuits, are the most common in protecting easement rights.  They are fast and effective if handled correctly and filed by someone with experience. If you have a valuable piece of property with great access, a wonderful view, and other valuable intrinsic assets, learn Costa Rica’s easement laws so you can protect it because many others will be lost to progress making yours that much more valuable.

Garland M. Baker is a 32-year resident of Costa Rica who provides professional services to the international community. He can be reached at info@crexpertise.com. Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica. Lic. Allan Garro provides the legal review and can be reached at crlaw@licgarro.com.

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Pacheco rips report
disgracing nation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Abel Pacheco criticized a news service in his weekend speech for alleged inaccuracies in reporting, but the president then followed up with some shaky numbers of his own.

The topic was sexual exploitation of minors.

Pacheco told his audience in his recorded speech that an official for World Vision had denied telling a U.S. Senate subcommittee that 80 percent of those persons who are prostitutes in Costa Rica are minors.

Joseph Mettimano, who worked with child protection with World Vision, later wrote to say that his remarks were misinterpreted. He blamed The Associated Press for misconstruing his comments.

What he really said, according to Mettimano, was that 80 percent of the sexual criminals who visit Latin American countries such as Costa Rica are westerners, including North Americans.

The comments were carried in Costa Rica at least by the daily La Nación July 10 even though the number appears false on its face. After all, what would happen to young prostitutes after they reach the legal age of 18 to maintain such a high percentage of underage professionals?

The statement by Mettimano that he was misquoted seemed to satisfy Pacheco. The president criticized the news-gathering agency thusly: "This fact places into evidence that not all that glitters is gold and not all that certain media say is the truth."

But then in his speech the president repeated some controversial  figures of his own.

Said Pacheco:

• Some 64 sexual exploiters had been judicially processed and sentenced up to 50 years in prison.

• During 179 operations during 2003 and in the first four months of this year some 294 minor victims of commercial sexual exploitation were rescued from the streets.

Pacheco used these same numbers a month ago to show how effectively his administration has cracked down on exploiters.

But the fiscal in charge of sex crimes, Lilian Gómez, had declined repeatedly to reply to questions about the first set of numbers.

And Rosalía Gil, minister of Niñez and director of the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia has said the second set of numbers are incorrect. She said in an interview a month ago with A.M. Costa Rica that 294 children might have been caught in police sweeps but that number in no way represented child victims of commercial sex exploitation. and most of the youngsters caught up in police sweeps have homes to return to, she said.

Minister Gil also said that many more than 64 sexual exploiters probably have been arrested but the great majority were involving in interfamily abuse, in other words, incest or similar.

Rolling robberies hit
Barva pedestrians

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police caught three suspects after men in a car robbed at least eight pedestrians Thursday evening in the Barva area.

The Fuerza Pública and the Judicial Investigating Organization setup roadblocks after robbery complaints began to come in on the 911 line.

Acting on tips form neighbors, police descended on San Pedro de Barva about 8:15 p.m. to arrest the men, identified by the last names of Araya Guillén, Quintero Castro and Mejía Cortés.

Officers said they found weapons in the vehicle in which the men were riding.

Air search continues
for missing fishermen

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three fishermen from Limón are still lost at sea despite a false report Thursday night that they had been found by Panamanian officials.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said that an aircraft of the Sección Aérea spent three and a half hours Sunday morning and early afternoon searching the Caribbean south to the Panamanian border looking for the three men.

The men were in an open boat and left Limón last July 12.

German national faces
drug investigation

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A German national who is a resident here will face investigators for a drug offense.

Officials said that the man, identified as Hernan Vanloo, 45, was arrested over the weekend near Tambor de Cóbano on the Nicoya Peninsula.

Police said they watched as two known cocaine distributors supplied the man with a cargo for his motorcycle. They said he was carrying four kilos of cocaine when arrested.

They wanted bread
from the breadmen

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even the bread men have to battle robbers.

Two distributors for Bimbo bread faced two gunmen in a small store in the center of Limón, said police.

The men, identified as Alexander Cruz Villalobos y Errol Watson Cascante, gave up 600,000 colons, about $1,360, after one of the assailants fired a shot into the floor.

Police managed to arrest two suspects a short time later.

Annexation celebration

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Next Sunday is the celebration of the Annexation of Guanacaste, the vote that joined the territory to Costa Rica and not Nicaragua.

President Abel Pacheco will be the lead official at a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. in the Parque de Nicoya.
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'Prisoner' seems ensnared by all those old plots
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For those with youngsters a trip to "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is obligatory. The movie featuring young wizards opened this weekend in Costa Rica.

But those adults who go will be disappointed. The movie seems to have been obligatory for Warner Brothers, too, and there is little new to tickle young minds.

Good old Harry must again flee the home of his uncle to attend this, his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But didn’t we see this before in the first and second movie?

Alas, poor Harry and young companions are stuck in a rut. Those who have seen the movie and read the book by J. K. Rowling say that the movie is a thin approximation of the text.

While the first two movies had clever characters and fast-paced action, this new movie has the same characters and the action drags. Many great actors are downplayed or absent. Did anyone see John Cleese as the nearly headless ghost?

Between classes, Harry, again played by Daniel Radcliffe,  continues in pursuit of the evil magician who killed his parents but without clear focus. An evil wizard, Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman, has escaped from the fortress of Azkaban and is reported in search of Harry in order to kill him.

Complications are the result of the school’s lack of a solid personnel policy.  Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) again makes a last-minute appointment to the Defence Against the Dark Arts class. Professor Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), as his name would imply, maintains an occasional night job that is not always consistent with his academic position.

Throw in the usual ghosts and singing paintings 

Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupet Grint) await another shocking development.

and the movie is a replay of the Second Harry Potter movie but without the element of surprise.

But not a bad deal for 1,300 colons (about $3) and less for kids. And after all, how many really new plots did Nancy Drew enjoy?

— Jay Brodell

In each life a little rain must fall, and we all get wet
Cuando llueve todos se mojan: When it rains everybody gets wet

This expression has to do with situations where something that affects one person affects everyone. It is not a generalization, but rather more like a warning. For example, when President Pacheco makes an executive decision, it matters little whether we agree with it or not, we are all likely to be affected by it. When the price of gasoline went up everyone was affected whether they own a car on not. Those who take taxis or ride the bus were also affected. There is no way we can escape getting "wet" in a situation like that.

Of course, here in Costa Rica this time of year when it rains it pours quite literally. So we see Costa Ricans carrying umbrellas and wearing raincoats when they go out even if the weather is pleasant. In this season known as temporal, Costa Ricans know they must be prepared for wet weather at any moment. You may also have noticed that as soon the sun goes down Costa Ricans are cold. 

We complain if the temperature goes down to 21 degrees [70 f.]. "Uyyy que frio," we say, "so cold." And if the temperature should rise above 26 [80 f.], "uyyy que calor," we say "so hot." We complain because it doesn’t rain enough or because it rains too much. But we know that cuando llueve todos nos mojamos. So we must be prepared.

I do not know the linguistic origins of the word temporal, but I do know that my grandmother always used to caution my siblings and me not get wet on our way to school during temporal because 

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

in those days we had no way to dry our school uniforms. Even if we had a washing machine back then, we never had a dryer. And during temporal clothes that got wet stayed that way for a long time because of the high humidity. But I think maybe we were more accepting then of the ways of Mother Nature and less fussy than we are today.

Another way to use the expression "cuando llueve todos se mojan," is when someone gets mad at one person and takes it out on everyone else around them. It’s not fair, but it’s the way life is sometimes. The boss is in a bad mood, so just be quiet and don’t provoke him or we might all get "wet" as a result.

Daniel Soto divides his time between Indiana and Costa Rica, where he owns a home in Santo Domingo de Heredia.

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U.S. wins back about a third of former beef market
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Approximately one-third of the U.S. beef export market has reopened, says Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

Several countries had banned some or all U.S. beef imports after a sole case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in Washington State in December 2003. Countries have been reopening their markets since the start of an expanded surveillance-testing program was announced early in 2004, she said.

Speaking with reporters Friday in Washington, Ms. Veneman said talks are going on with Japan to reopen its market to U.S. beef. Japan had been the largest market for U.S. beef exports in terms of value prior to December 2003.

In May, Japan agreed to participate in a series of technical discussions over three months, Veneman said. In June, a Japanese delegation toured U.S. cattle slaughterhouses and testing facilities and, during this week, U.S. officials will travel to Tokyo for another technical meeting, she said.

The tour of beef facilities in Colorado gave the Japanese an opportunity to witness the implementation and rigorous enforcement of U.S. safeguards against disease and the beef industry's compliance, according to an earlier statement by a U.S. Department of Agriculture official.

Veneman noted that Mexico already has resumed approximately 90 percent of its U.S. beef imports. 
Mexico had been the largest importer of U.S. beef 

in terms of volume prior to December 2003.

The secretary said the U.S. Department of Agriculture now is testing all animals exhibiting symptoms of central nervous system disorder regardless of the age of the animal. Previously, the department tested only animals exhibiting such symptoms if they were 30 months or older, and thus considered high-risk animals for the illness that also is know as mad cow disease.

Ms. Veneman said that not all cattle with nervous system symptoms have the illness. A cow with an ear infection, for instance, could behave that way, she said.

Ms. Veneman said USDA has had "great success" from results from its BSE testing program, which became fully operational June 1.

Preliminary findings show that the testing is targeting the highest-risk animals. The goal of the testing program, in which brain samples will be taken from 268,000 cows over 18 months, is to establish with a 99 percent confidence level whether mad cow disease exists in the United States and, if so, how prevalent it is, said Keith Collins, department chief economist. Collins also attended the press briefing.

At this point, the department is not making any assumptions about whether mad cow disease is prevalent in the United States, Collins said.

Veneman said in June USDA forecast a record-high $61.5 billion in U.S. agriculture exports in 2004. The current record is $60 billion in 1996, she said.

Bush characterizes human traffickers as modern slave traders
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

TAMPA, Fla. — "America will not tolerate slave traders," President Bush told the National Training Conference on Human Trafficking here Friday.

Condemning human trafficking as "one of the worst offenses against human dignity," Bush stressed that the United States is "determined to fight that crime abroad and at home." 

Worldwide, at least 600,000 to 800,000 human beings are trafficked across international boarders each year, the president said, adding that most are women and girls who end up being forced into the sex industry. 

The president cited U.N. estimates that human trafficking is now the third-largest source of money for organized crime, after arms and drugs.

Bush said 24 nations have enacted new laws to combat trade in human lives since his call to action in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly in September 2003, and 32 are now in the process of drafting or passing such laws. 

The United States is "confronting nations that profit from or tolerate human trafficking," Bush said. "Those countries face potential sanctions that include the loss of U.S. military and economic assistance, as well as the loss of support from the World Bank and the IMF," he added, referring to the International Monetary Fund.

Bush said his administration has provided more than $295 million to support anti-trafficking programs in more than 120 countries.  The United States, Bush said, also has launched "an unprecedented domestic effort . . . "

About 14,500 to 17,500 trafficking victims are smuggled into the United States each year. "The American government has a particular duty, because human trafficking is an affront to the defining promise of our country," Bush said.

Over the past three years, U.S. officials have more than doubled the number of new trafficking investigations under way, the president said. "Since 2001, we've charged 110 traffickers," he noted. "That's triple the number charged in the previous three years."

Most-wanted Chicago double murder suspect turns up in México
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

VERACRUZ, México — Mexican authorities have arrested and extradited one of America's top criminal suspects following a tip from an informer who saw the man's profile on a U.S. television show.

Officials say 35-year-old Michael Alfonso was arrested late Thursday in the Mexican state of 

Veracruz, and later turned over to U.S. authorities. Alfonso, who is wanted for the murders of two former girlfriends in Chicago, was one of the FBI's 10 most sought-after suspects. 

Officials say he was captured after he was featured on "America's Most Wanted," a U.S. television program that profiles criminals in the hopes the public can telephone in with tips for police. 

Jo Stuart
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