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July 26, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 147
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Trump
                              and Turnbull
Image grab from White House video      
May 4 meeting between Turnbull and Trump at the White House.
U.S.-Australia refugee deal remains unresolved
By Conor Golden,
News Editor of A.M. Costa Rica

It has been almost a year since the refugee deal between the governments of the United States and Australia was made and almost no word on how things are progressing.

Back in November 2016, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced his government’s intention to participate in a U.S.-led program that is resettling refugees in Costa Rica. The refugees are from a region of Central America known as the Northern Triangle constituting the countries of: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The prime minister said at the time that the refugees were being housed at a resettlement center in Costa Rica. The idea is to swap those Central Americans for refugees from Papua New Guinea and Nauru for possible resettlement in the United States.

The Northern Triangle is viewed as one of the larger migrant crises facing the world today. Data from the United States Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement describes a situation where persons from this region have replaced México as being the largest points of origin from those illegally crossing the southern border.

Notably, the Northern Triangle is notorious for being a hotbed of gang and organized crime as the respective governments are being overwhelmed with an ever-increasing tick in the number of homicides and gang-related incidents of violence.

While the United States immigration and refugee policy is in a flux between disagreeing factions, Australia’s program of permanent refugee resettlement is the third largest in the world, according to Turnbull when he spoke at former president Barack Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees.

At the time, the Australian leader sought to up the amount of refugee resettlement to include 19,000 slots by mid-2018.

As for Costa Rica, the most recent report on the subject said that there was a 60 percent increase in new asylum applications registered in Costa Rica for 2015 in comparison to the past year.  Of those registered applicants, there was a 127 percent increase of nationals from the Northern Triangle.

The Costa Rican government entered into a protection transfer agreement with the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees and the International Organization for Migration in late July 2016, according to a press release by the U.S. State Department. The U.S. praised Costa Rican leadership on human rights and addressing the regional challenge, the release said.

This agreement allows for the United States government to pre-screen individuals from Central America seeking asylum. Following this pre-screen, the arrangement allows the U.N. refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration to transfer those in need of immediate protection to Costa Rica. From there, they could undergo a refugee processing before potentially being resettled in the United States or another country.

A.M. Costa Rica received direct confirmation from the U.S. State Dept. on this issue Monday.

“The United States will honor the arrangement with Australia and accept referrals of refugees in Papua New Guinea and Nauru for potential resettlement in the United States, as the President made clear when he met with Prime Minister Turnbull in New York on May 4,” a State Dept. spokesperson said.

Northern Triangle Map
A.M. Costa Rica file map        
Map of the Northern Triangle.

Meanwhile, in a previous conversation with officials from Casa Presidencial on the matter, the Costa Rican government confirmed back in July 2016 that it would be giving 200 humanitarian visas to refugees from the area. The beneficiaries were granted a stay permit of up to six months, based on the agreement between the U.S. and the agencies.

A spokesperson with Casa Presidencial, Victoria Priscilla Monterrosa Pérez, told A.M. Costa Rica that the United Nations is responsible for all expenses of the refugees. These apparently include: English language learning programs, cultural induction in the country, support and medical expenses in Costa Rica.

She also mentioned that the government of Costa Rica reserves the right to request more information from the U.N. refugee agency in case such applicants are not leaving their country of origin for reasons applicable to be titled a refugee.

“Citizens who receive a humanitarian visa will live in private homes in the Greater Metropolitan Area,” Ms. Monterrosa said. “Costa Rica will not temporarily house more than 200 people from the Northern Triangle per shift.”

The government declined to comment on the location of the refugees nor if and when they arrived in the country due to the privacy protections granted to those who receive a humanitarian visa.

Reports are suggesting that the program could be in limbo again despite the recourse between U.S. President Donald Trump and Turnbull who pledged long-term friendship between the two countries back in May. That came following rumors of strife between the two allies.

Trump had previously objected to a pre-existing agreement between Washington and Canberra that the U.S. would accept some refugees currently in Australian custody. He apparently called the deal dumb and the worst deal ever before ending a call between the two.

U.S. officials screening some applicants on Nauru apparently abruptly left the scene before finishing their work, according to some wire service reports. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services insisted that the deal is still on but did not explain when it will be finalized and the screening over.

Nauru is a tiny island located in the South Pacific just south of the Marshall Islands. It is the world’s smallest island country, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook. Its defense is the responsibility of Australia.

Australia also maintains a controversial detention facility on the island of Manus, which is a part of Papua New Guinea. The facilities are a hot topic as some Australians seek to hold their government to prior pledge to close the detention centers once the refugees were processed out.

Editor's Note: A.M. Costa Rica reporter, Rommel Téllez, contributed to some of the fact gathering in this story.


Bill presented to modify boundaries of bio-reserve
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican government presented a bill Tuesday proposing to modify the boundaries of the Reserva Biológica Lomas de Barbudal in order to facilitate the work needed for the Paacume water plan.

Paacume is short for the Proyecto Abastecimiento de Agua para la Cuenca Media del Río Tempisque y Comunidades Costeras. It is a bold and expensive government venture that seeks to bring water for irrigation and human consumption to the parched province of Guanacaste. The bill would allow for the redrawing of the land area to constitute an official change of land use and authorizes the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación to chop some parts of the forest down and use the wood for the Río Piedras reservoir to be built.

The reservoir is considered an integral part of Paacume and seeks to irrigate a surface area of 850 hectares and generate hydroelectric power, according to Casa Presidencial. It also will constitute about 300 kilometers of channels to the cantons of Carrillo, Santa Cruz and Nicoya. However, in order to do that, about 113 hectares worth of the biological reserve needs to be flooded.

In trying to justify some obvious opposition that would come from the environmentalist block, Casa Presidencial claimed in a statement that this flooded and chopped up area would be offset by the purchase of land adjacent to the reserve for a total of 531 hectares.


This corresponds with the 444 hectares constituting the Finca ASETREK Tres Azul, S.A. and almost 90 hectares from the Finca Brindis del Amor en Liberia S.A.
Their basis for assessing the compensation needed for this land grab was apparently conducted by a study by the Organización de Estudios Tropicales.
Irrigation canal
Casa Presidencial photo      
The bio-reserve is needed to aid in the series of irrigation canal projects.

“This is a fundamental project that is beginning and Costa Rica must continue to build to provide a comprehensive response to a territory that, like others in the country, requires a strong and articulated linkage of communities, productive sectors, local governance and public institutions to work with care and vision of the future,” said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís.

Paacume Río Tempisque requires an investment of $425 million. The plan will be backed with funds from Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica in addition to $75 million thrown in from the government.

The irrigation canals are supposed to have four uses: agricultural irrigation, human consumption and irrigation to tourist areas.

“The Distrito de Riego Arenal Tempisque generates $150 to $200 million annually for the country,” said Patricia Quirós, the manager of Servicio Nacional de Aguas Subterráneas, Riego y Avenamiento.

Work on this project is already expected to begin by 2019 and be completed by 2022, Casa Presidencial said.

The biological reserve is located just south of Liberia in Guanacaste province and is on the tip of the wider Parque Nacional Palo Verde.


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A.M.
Costa Rica

Second News Page

Published || Wednesday Edition, July 26, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 147
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.
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 Accountants

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Ruta de la
Leche work
Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo            
Work continues on the Ruta de la Leche in Guanacaste.

Guanacaste getting roadwork projects

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The public works ministry is churning out more money to invest in the road network of Guanacaste as all government eyes seem to focus on this province for the week.

With a joint action between the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes as well as the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad, about 10 kilometers of road on Ruta Nacional 906 and Ruta Nacional 929 will be receiving some new asphalt. The sections are between San Antonio, Moracia and the Pozo de Agua districts, the ministry said.

Over 100.5 million colones will be invested towards this project. Construction is the responsibility of the ministry’s División de Obras Públicas. Work is expected to begin this year.

There has also been more surface work done to over 9.2 kilometers of road between Garza and Nosara. Improvements to the drainage system as well as line painting are being done on Ruta Nacional 160. The work began back in May with around 2.75 million colones invested also from the public works division of the ministry.

Public works hinted that there is supposed to be some construction of three new, two-lane bridges with respective pedestrian crosswalks. The idea is to further aid the development of Garza, La Esparanza, Guiones, Santa Marta and Nosara.

Meanwhile, ministry officials are expected to award a contractor with the rights to work on the extension and fixing of the Limonal-Cañas route. This represents the first section of a project that will continue more than 50 kilometers between Cañas and Liberia, public works said in a statement.

Germán Valverde, the minister for public works, said that the first section to undergo maintenance would be about 20.1 kilometers. The existing bridges should be adjusted so that the route goes from two to four lanes.

In addition to the extension of the road the ministry also wants cycle paths, sidewalks, bays for buses, pedestrian crossings and storm drains, Valverde said.

 “The exact amount of the investment will be known once the work is awarded,” a statement from public works said. “This project is part of the Programa Infraestructura de Transporte where $450 million will be invested from a loan by the Inter-American Development Bank.”

The goal is to start the works in the first section before the end of this year.


Plans made for public institutions site

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As part of the focus being turned on Guanacaste province for Tuesday, Casa Presidencial announced a new plan to create a inter-institutional campus in Belén de Carillo.

The Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Rural will be responsible for providing the land necessary for building this campus as well as distributing it according to the needs of each public institution. Meanwhile the municipality of Carrillo will be in charge of constructing the infrastructure needed for the project, Casa Presidencial said.

The institutions that will be placed at this inter-institutional site include: the Centro Integrao de Educación de Adultos, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social, the Bomberos, Cruz Roja, the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias, Instituto de Acueductos y Alcantarillados and the Centros de Educación y Nutrición y de Centros Infantiles de Atención Integral. 

The area will comprise about 51,400 square meters for the construction of the buildings and spaces needed. This is supposed to be in tune with the Plan de Desarrollo del Territorio Santa Cruz-Carrillo.The government hopes that the new campus, comprising of several government institutions, will benefit at least 41,000 people in the province.

Ricardo Rodríguez Barquero, the executive president of INDER, and Carlos Gerardo Álvarez, the mayor of Carrillo, signed the document at the Consejo de Gobierno on Tuesday. Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís and Mercedes Peña Domingo, the first lady, formally witnessed it. 

The only issue not mentioned for this whole campus is the money and where it is coming from. The government made no mention of nor any statement has been made in relation to where these funds are going to come from. For now, the plan is simply a plan without financial backing.


Cantur clarifies ministry's advice
on malpractice in tourism industry


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cámara Nacional de Turismo and the Asociación de Agencias de Viaje de Costa Rica have issued a warning alerting foreign and local tourist to be alert when dealing with travel agencies, due to rising complaints of customers who claim some companies do not comply with their contracts or use misleading advertising.

However, both the Cámara and the Asociación seek to clarify that not only the companies registered before the Ministerio de Industria y Comercio are the safe ones.

Last week, the ministry published a list of 47 companies that are registered as travel agencies, but that could give the wrong idea that other companies of great reputation are dangerous to do business with, according to the Cámara.

"We want to clarify that's a list of registered companies, and being in the list its a not a quality seal either," said Isabel Vargas, president of the Cámara. "We recommend, that if concerns arise, people may contact either the Cámara or the Asociación."

According to the current law, all travel agencies that sell packages that can be paid on a monthly basis should register before the ministry, but that does not apply to the rest of the of tourism-related companies or all types of travel agencies, explained Ms. Vargas. 

Ms. Vargas also added that both organizations have long been asking for tougher regulations to establish travel agencies. According to her, the current requirements allow people to enter the business without a real financial resources and it is complicated to shut them down or apply fines.

"In the Asociación, we seek a solution that protect our clients, the Costa Rican tourists," said Sary Valverde, its president. "We aim for a legal system that fines or shuts down those travel agencies that commit fraud or make a misuse of monies from the national tourists."

In case of a problem, the Cámara offered customers help to file a complaint and support through any conciliatory process.

Both organizations have requested the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo to use part of the air ticket taxes to create a mandatory registry of authorized agencies. They also seek to creation of an insurance policy that would protect the travelers with monetary compensations.


Work resumed at the Morgue Judicial

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday night, workers of the Morgue Judicial resumed autopsies that were suspended for five days due to a strike that began on July 19 due to an imminent reform in the pensions regime of Poder Judicial.

About 35 bodies remained inside the morgue waiting for the necessary legal examinations while family members of the deceased protested against the measure. Some of them labeled the retention of bodies as inhumane.

According to José Valverde, from the Asociación Costarricense de Medicina Forense, workers returned to their jobs out of fear that lack of attendance could become evidence used in court against them. Valverde also said the strike continues today indefinitely as long as legislators refuse to negotiate with the unions the reforms that will be made the pensions regime.

Currently, union leaders demand the legislative assembly to reform the pensions plan based on a draft they created and require a worker to be 62 years old to retire. However, legislators of the commission where the bill is being discussed are making decisions based on a draft that increases the retirement age to 65 and is based on a study made by the Universidad de Costa Rica.

On Tuesday, several bodies were returned to mourning families while directors of several public hospitals offered help to the morgue catch up. President Luis Guillermo Solís, said Tuesday for the second time that the government will stay away from the conflict unless help is requested. He said he does not want to send a message of illegal intromission of one power of the state into the other.

The presence of Fuerza Pública officers at the Morgue facilities almost at the same time the autopsies were resumed on Monday night, had several union members consider it was an unlawful move to intimidate workers. However, Valverde said that, in fact, union leaders called the police into the site for safekeeping of the workers.

Workers from Poder Judicial branches across the country would arrive today to join a march from the Poder Judicial headquarters to the Legislative Assembly in San José, according to the union leader. Marchers are supposed to dress in black during the event.



News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English


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A.M.
Costa Rica

Third News Page
U.S. Tax
Published || Wednesday Edition, July 26, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 147
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
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Food
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Fragmentos play explores themes of self-discovery and identity
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two characters who do not have an identity and are discarded by society with the only thing that they know being that they are men. That is the premise behind the new play premiering at the Teatro Vargas Calvo on Thursday.

Fragmentos, as it is called, tells a journey of self-discovery and identity that takes the characters through different archetypes of masculinity to find out where they fit into society. “We present an interesting theme for the questions about our identity and social identity,” said Ricardo Tames, the director.

“The construction of masculine and feminine identities is not the only the natural and inevitable effect of biological chance but also the cultural effect of the influence of affective, family, school, economic, ideological and social factors. We believe that, as people get sucked in with the humor, will make them empathize with the characters.”

Addressing themes on new definitions of masculinity on stage is the novel proposal behind this play, according to Tames. It explores the expectations marked upon men by society in how they are supposed to behave and act, the director explained.

According to a statement by the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, the four men involved in the troupe, known as Café a Medias, intend to use a saturated theatrical reality to recover themes of human reality.

Fragmentos
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo        
Fragmentos explores themes of identity and masculinity.

Fragmentos will be presented this Thursday at 8 p.m. and continue until August 27. The show times will be 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays with the other show held on 5 p.m. on Sundays.

General entrance fee is 6,000 colones or 3,500 colones for students or seniors with valid identification card, the cultural ministry said. No reservations can be made and seating is limited on a first come, first serve basis.



Liberación legislator puts forward paid holiday bill for Father's Day
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Soon fathers in Costa Rica may be able to celebrate their day on a paid holiday if the bill 19.985 is approved by a legislative commission at the Legislative Assembly.

Introduced by the Partido Liberación Nacional, the bill establishes June 17 as a national paid holiday as a way to promote fatherhood as a role as important as that of motherhood, according to Rolando González, the legislator proposing this holiday.

Labeled as a populist initiative by the Movimiento Libertario, Partido Acción Ciudadana and Alianza Democrática Cristiana, the bill could be approved on the commission with the vote of only seven legislators.

Gonzáles has said the bill is as populist as the Día de la Madre. Karla Prendas, chief of the Partido Liberación Nacional faction, considered it is a serious idea, that if approved, would be enforced at a time the current government and the assembly would be out on its own break.

Costa Rica already has nine paid holidays. These include: New Years Day, Juan Santamaría day on April 11, Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the International Worker's Day on May 1, the Anexión del Partido de Nicoya on July 25, Día de la Madre on August 15, Costa Rica’s independence day on September 15 and Christmas on December 25.
Rolando González
Rolando González Facebook page photo      
González is the principal legislator pushing for holiday.

The bill would reform article 48 of the Costa Rican labor law, known as Código de Trabajo, which establishes the other paid holidays.


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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

Published || Wednesday Edition, July 26, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 147
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Scientists seek meningitis to be labeled as neglected tropical disease
By the St. George’s University press staff

Crytococcal meningitis is a deadly invasive fungal infection, which affects hundreds of thousands of HIV patients in the late stage of their disease every year.

Attacking the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord, Cryptococcal meningitis is responsible for an estimated 15 to 20 percent of all AIDS-related deaths.

Yet it is one of the most poorly-funded diseases in the world, receiving just 0.2 percent of available relevant research and development investment.

It disproportionately affects populations in some of the poorest regions of the world, but it is not classified by the World Health Organization as a ‘neglected tropical disease’, nor by other groups working in this field such as PLOS, an open access publishing and advocacy group.

Inclusion in the WHO’s list of neglected tropical diseases would enable this infection to be eligible for WHO health programs aimed at eradicating diseases.

Now a new research paper: “Cryptococcal meningitis; A neglected tropical disease?” argues that cryptococcal meningitis meets all the criteria for inclusion on the WHO list. The WHO says neglected tropical diseases are a proxy for poverty and disadvantage; have an important impact on morbidity and mortality; and are relatively neglected by research. In the paper the researchers demonstrate that all these criteria are fulfilled.

Dr. Síle Molloy, an Epidemiologist, and Dr. Angela Loyse, based at St George’s, University of London, are the principal authors of the report.
They explained: “A common misconception is that funding for cryptococcal meningitis comes under the umbrella of HIV.”
Cryptococcal meningitis
St. George's University press photo
Cryptococcal meningitis is responsible for an estimated 20 percent of AIDS deaths.

"In reality it has fallen into a research and policy gap,” the researchers said. “There are only three drug treatments, all of which are decades old and two of which are regularly unavailable. Meanwhile R&D into the manufacture of new therapies is inadequate.”

Neglected tropical diseases are considered a diverse group of tropical infections that are particularly common in low-income, developing regions including Costa Rica and Latin America.

They are caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria and often appear low on the totem pole by comparison the big three diseases: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Some of the diseases classified in this type of category include mosquito-borne illnesses such as Dengue and chikungunya fever. Chagas, snakebite venom, rabies, scabies and leprosy are also considered to be neglected tropical diseases.



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Dark
Side of Pura Vida

A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page


Salsa Lizano
Published || Wednesday Edition, July 26, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 147
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OAS considering crimes against humanity charges

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As Venezuelans prepared for a two-day national strike beginning Wednesday, the head of the Organization of American States met Tuesday with a former International Criminal Court prosecutor about the prospect of bringing charges against Venezuelan authorities for humanitarian crimes.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said at a press conference Tuesday that Argentine lawyer Luis Moreno-Ocampo will help the OAS examine whether Venezuelan authorities have committed crimes against humanity that warrant an investigation by the ICC.

The hearings, said Moreno-Ocampo, will hear both victims of alleged crimes against humanity and members of the Venezuelan government, as long as it decides to participate.

As such, the OAS does not have the authority to send a case to the ICC, Moreno-Ocampo said. But, if Venezuela is found to have committed such crime, one of the 28 OAS-member countries could elevate the case to the International Criminal Court.

Moreno-Ocampo was the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

He conducted investigations in seven different countries, presenting charges against Moammar Gadhafi for crimes against humanity committed in Libya, the president of the Sudan Omar al-Bashir for genocide in Darfur, the former President of Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo, Joseph Kony and the former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Jean Pierre Bemba.

Before arriving at the international body, Moreno-Ocampo played a crucial role during the transition to democracy in Argentina, as the deputy prosecutor in the "Junta trial" in 1985 and the prosecutor in the trial against a military rebellion in 1991.


Venezuela arrests two judges
appointed by the opposition


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan intelligence officials arrested two more judges appointed by the opposition-run parliament that is in defiance of President Nicolas Maduro's government Tuesday.

Jesus Rojas Torres and Zuleima Gonzalez were the second and third opposition-appointed judges arrested by Maduro's government. Judge Angel Zerpa was arrested Saturday.

Maduro had threatened to arrest the judges in a televised speech over the weekend, during which he also verbally attacked U.S. President Donald Trump and several Latin American leaders for their statements against Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution.

Venezuela's opposition has announced a two-day national strike this week aimed at pressuring Maduro to cancel the controversial July 30 vote on the creation of a the body that will be charged with rewriting the country's constitution.

"We are calling out the entire people, all groups in society, for a 48-hour strike" on Wednesday and Thursday, lawmaker Simon Calzadilla said.

Calzadilla said a protest march on Friday, following the strike, will demand that Maduro officially scrap the vote.


Cubans say North Korea
losing the censorship battle


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Despite North Korea’s increased efforts to prevent outside information from entering the country, international activists say technology and market forces will eventually overcome state censorship.

North Korea is one of the most isolated nations in the world, where foreign media is prohibited and most people don't have access to the Internet. The repressive state has even executed citizens for distributing media from South Korea, according to the Transitional Justice Working Group that documents human rights abuses in North Korea.

Still it is following a pattern similar to other authoritarian regimes that view knowledge as power and have tried to limit and control access to outside information.

This according to leaders from Cuban and Myanmar independent organizations working to evade authoritarian censorship and outside information restrictions in their own countries, who were recently in Seoul to share their experiences and strategies with Korean counterparts.

“I believe that the increasing Internet penetration is going to be inevitable. Eventually the government will need this and needs this for its own development,” said Rafeal Duval with the independent news organization Cubanet.

In Cuba, as in North Korea, growing demand for foreign movies and television dramas, not political news, has made smuggling in outside information an increasingly profitable venture.

Using a variety of USB drives, Micro SD cards and DVD discs, Cubanet distributes through the black market a weekly compilation of video content, audio podcasts and entire webpages known as El Paquete for its growing list of customers in Cuba.

Duval said Cuban authorities charged with preventing the influx of foreign media are eventually co-opted by being bought off and often becoming users themselves.

“They’re going to realize the impossibility of a ban because of corruption,” he said.

Another Cuban project called Apretaste targeted the country’s elites, the estimated 25 percent of Cubans who have access to email. Apretaste works as a proxy search engine in which volunteers in places like Florida email results to over 100,000 Cuban inquiries each month.

“Right now we are giving to the people in Cuba something that they really need. We are giving them a window to see you outside the island,” said Salvi Pascual who founded Apretaste.

Prior to democratic reforms that began in Myanmar in 2011, the military government highly censored the Internet. But the porous border with Thailand and the proliferation of satellite TV receivers in the country made it easier for exile opposition groups to penetrate the country’s information blockade.

The North Korean economy has been steadily growing in recent years despite increased international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its continued nuclear and ballistic missiles tests. In the last year, the country’s gross domestic product rose 3.9 percent, driven in part by the exports of coal and other minerals, according to Bank of Korea in Seoul.

However an emerging private market that is tolerated but not sanctioned by the communist state is also driving economic growth.

A survey by the Beyond Parallel project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC says most North Koreans now earn 75 percent of their household income from the black market.

The illicit export of North Korean seafood, shoes, cigarettes and cooking oil has given people new purchasing power to bring in outside information and technology.

The number of households with TVs and DVD players in North Korea has grown to the point of being ubiquitous said Nat Kretchun, Deputy Director of the Open Technology Fund, a group that promotes internet freedom and is funded by the U.S. government through the Voice of America’s sister organization Radio Free Asia.

And the number of legal North Korean cell phones users has also been growing in recent years. Initially many of these domestic phones were used to transfer unsanctioned media and information files but recent updates to the phone’s operating system installed inhibiting censorship and surveillance software.

However for every measure taken by authoritarian governments to block outside information, activists are developing technological counter measures.

That said North Korean defector Kim Seung-chul, who founded North Korea Reform Radio, which broadcasts into the North, expressed frustration that the South Korean government seems to provide less funding to groups working to penetrate the North’s closed information environment than do these Cuban and Myanmar exiles groups.


State Dept. denies rumors
that Tillerson will resign


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. State Department flatly denied Tuesday that Secretary Rex Tillerson might be considering leaving his job.

The first question department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked at an on-camera news briefing was whether it was true that Tillerson was thinking about resigning or leaving the administration early.

"That is false," Ms. Nauert said. "We have spoken with the secretary. The secretary has been very clear. He intends to stay here at the State Department. We have a lot of work that is left to be done ahead of us. He recognizes that he is deeply engaged in that work. We have meetings scheduled, he has meetings scheduled for the rest of the week here in Washington."

When reporters noted Tillerson did not have any public events on his schedule for Tuesday, Ms. Nauert said he was taking a few days off that had been scheduled in advance.

State Department spokesman R.C. Hammond has also strongly denied any reports Tillerson may be leaving early, saying the thought of quitting has never crossed his mind and that there is plenty of work to do.

CNN reported Monday that Tillerson had told close associates he was determined to stay at the helm of the State Department until at least the end of the year, but was growing increasingly frustrated by foreign policy differences with President Donald Trump.

Trump and Tillerson have expressed different views about the U.S. pulling out of the Paris climate change accord, Iran's compliance with the international nuclear deal, and the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar.

In June, several media outlets reported an alleged showdown between Tillerson and a White House official in charge of personnel over the White House's reported thwarting of Tillerson's picks for a number of critical assistant secretary-level positions at the State Department, which remain unfilled six months into the Trump administration.

Miller noted that Trump has assigned the Middle East peace process to his senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who this week answered questions from Senate and House committees as part of those panels' investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Kushner "has been given the authority over perhaps the one issue that secretaries of state, no matter how difficult it is, pride themselves in wanting to try, which is the Arab-Israeli issue," Miller said. "Yet that has been removed from his purview."

Speculation about Tillerson comes as Trump continues his verbal attacks on his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, expressing disappointment in him for recusing himself in the investigations into possible collusion between Trump officials and Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.

CNN reported that Tillerson was one of many officials who viewed the president's public rebukes of Sessions as unprofessional.


Close call
U.S. Navy courtesy image     
Iranian vessel steers close to U.S. Navy coastal patrol craft in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. warship fires shots
at Iranian military vessel

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. Navy ship patrolling in the Persian Gulf fired warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard ship that came dangerously close to the vessel Tuesday morning local time.

The USS Thunderbolt fired a couple of warning shots at the Iranian vessel after it came within 140 meters of the U.S. ship at a high rate of speed, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday.

A statement from the Navy called the Iranian interaction "unsafe and unprofessional."

"The Iranian vessel's actions were not in accordance with the internationally recognized 'rules of the road' nor internationally recognized maritime customs, creating a risk for collision," the Navy said.

The shots were used as a last resort after the Iranian ship failed to respond to calls over the radio and sound signals from the American ships, including five blasts from the U.S. Navy ship's whistle, an international symbol for danger.

"These sort of unsafe and provocative actions from the Iranians do nothing but needlessly increase the risk for miscalculation," he added.

Last month, an Iranian military vessel trained a laser on an American helicopter that was accompanying three American military ships in the Strait of Hormuz.

Commander Bill Urban, the spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, said the Iranian vessel came within 730 meters of the USS Bataan assault ship.


Libyan factions agree
to negotiated ceasefire


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Both sides in the Libyan conflict agreed to the terms of a cease-fire agreement Tuesday during talks mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Libya's prime minister, Fayez al-Serraj, and his rival, eastern commander Khalifa Haftar met with Macron.

"We commit to a cease-fire and to refrain from any use of armed force for any purpose that does not strictly constitute counter-terrorism," the two leaders said in a joint statement following talks.

Along with the conditional cease-fire, the document commits both sides to holding an election as soon as possible.

The two sides previously held talks in Abu Dhabi in May, after going more than a-year-and-a-half without speaking, in hopes of ending the violence seen in Libya since former leader Moammar Gadhafi was deposed in 2011.

Up until this point, Haftar has rejected the authority of the U.N.-backed government. His forces have gained ground in the east of the country, with the support of Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

Western governments are pushing a U.N.-backed political agreement to unify the country under which Serraj's Tripoli-based government was installed


Trump bashes AG Sessions
on Twitter drawing criticism


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An obviously angry President Donald Trump is keeping up his Twitter offensive against perceived enemies, including a fierce attack against his own attorney general, prompting condemnation from even Republican Party leaders and usually loyal conservative media outlets.

A day after raising eyebrows with a description of Attorney General Jeff Sessions as beleaguered, Trump went several steps further Tuesday, leaving little doubt he wanted Sessions to resign.

Over the past months, Trump has repeatedly expressed impatience with the lack of progress on investigations he has touted, while the probe into his campaign's alleged ties to Russia has been in the headlines daily.

In his Tuesday tweets, Trump questioned Sessions' commitment to Justice Department investigations into intelligence leaks; suggested the attorney general was not pushing hard enough on probes of alleged sabotage against his campaign, as well as what he called Hillary Clinton crimes; and attacked the integrity of acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

Trump's newly named communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, acknowledged in a morning interview that the president was obviously frustrated.

Speaking to conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Scaramucci agreed with Hewitt's statement that Trump wanted Sessions to leave.

"I have an enormous amount of respect for the attorney general, but I do know the president pretty well, and if there's this level of tension in the relationship that's public, you're probably right," Scaramucci said.

Even Breitbart News, a conservative news outlet that has close ties to the White House and has been a staunch Trump supporter, faulted his attacks on Sessions, saying they only serve to highlight Trump's own hypocrisy on the issue of political scandals.

The article noted that Trump's criticism was likely to fuel concerns from his base supporters, who have been fiercely loyal during his tempestuous first six months in office.


Macedonian leadership sets
sights on EU and NATO


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Macedonia's defense minister reaffirmed her government's commitment to joining North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, saying in an interview that the nation's new government fully understands that success or failure is in its own hands.

"Nobody will bring it to us," Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska said.

"We need to work toward it, to be accountable for the progress. And the international community's support will follow."

In office since May 31, the government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has placed its highest priority on reforms aimed at preparing Macedonia for integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. European Union leaders have declared their readiness to work with the new government, and the Zaev cabinet has responded with an agenda listing concrete reform priorities.

At the same time, there is a renewed push to resolve a long-running dispute with Greece, which has opposed NATO membership for Macedonia as long as it shares the name of a neighboring Greek province.

Political life has largely stabilized in the former Yugoslav republic since supporters of the previous conservative government stormed the parliament three months ago to try to prevent the transfer of power to Zaev's Social Democratic party.

Ms. Sekerinska was brutally attacked in front of news cameras during the incident, but she said in the interview that her government is looking to the future, not the past.

As one of the top recruiting centers for the Islamic State group, Macedonia is plagued with a growing risk of terrorism and violent extremism. Ms. Sekerinska said the threat is universal and requires intelligence sharing among the countries.

"Macedonia can certainly contribute in securing the region's stability, but to do that effectively, we need to refocus the institutions designed to fight these threats. In recent years, they were misused for political assignments, to fight the opposition, instead of working on the job they were designed to do," she said.

While acknowledging that will take time, Ms. Sekerinska said the new government is determined to become a partner in the fight against today's global threats.


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Costa Rica
Penthouse

Costa Rica Penthouse For Sale

 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.  

Go to www.ThePenthouseCostaRica.com  
U.S. contact: Carl Stratton, cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email crstratton@ymail.com
Costa Rica contact:  Dan Wise, phone numbers:  2232-4063 / 2232-8610  Email: danwisellawyer@yahoo.com
9132-6/1/17


Costa Rica's first Realtor specialized
in eco properties, eco consulting and green living.

Eco graphic
   • Specialized in the Central and South Pacific.
   • Great network of Realtors, to find your dream
          property
   • Homes, condominium & luxury homes
   • Eco lodges and hotels
   • Green properties and waterfalls
   • Farms and developments
   • Sustainable and green living communities.
   • Property management in the Jacó area

Romantic Country Bungalow Click Here
Dream Property River Click Here

www.ecorealtorscr.com    info@ecorealtorscr.com
Telephone: +506 2637-6285
cell: +506 8825-6556  
Skype: ecorealtorscr
Facebook: ecorealtorscr
In front of Subway at Plaza Herradura, Jacó Green NAR designee, member of the CCBR, CRGAR
9124-4/19/17


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!
USA Toll Free 1 866 833-4005
CR Cell 011 506 8718-9891
Brendan@RichCoastRealty.com
www.RichCoastRealty.com
9189-9/2/17


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: mmpeace@hotmail.com  (please link that email)
Check out slide show HERE!
9220-8/15/17


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 toddscolorado@gmail.com. In Costa Rica call Liz Guegan at 506-7187-8577.
CODE: 9216-8/11/17


Puriscal home
GORGEOUS MOUNTAIN & OCEAN VIEW HOME
REDUCED $40K - $355,000
HEALTH CONDITIONS REQUIRES QUICK SALE
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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUEAmahIU9A
Community Web Site: http://www.altigua.com
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email gary_one@msn.com
9173-9/1/17

colinasdelsol
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

Contact:
In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:  jsandimurray@colinasdelsolcr.com
In the USA and Canada contact Jim Day: jimday50@aol.com or call 517-484-3675

For more information Click Here: www.colinasdelsolcr.com
9056-2/28/17

Etlinger Farm
rollover
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 www.etlingerafarms.com and photo album can be found at www.ticorico.com
9196-4/25/17

horse ranch
rollover
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 www.ranchforsalecostarica.com  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:  darin_ricco@hotmail.com
9183-6/13/17

rollover
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  www.whynotcostarica.com. 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 tim@whynotcostarica.com 
9143-2/3/17

Business for sale or lease (paid category)






Hotel in
Escazú

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú

Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant. Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning. Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing. Up to 40% financing / get residency through investor status / includes a corporation that is 27 years old and offshore banking account with  Banco National / possible 50/50 partnership. Super location in front of the Bosques de Escazú  Condos  / Monthly rentals available


Send an email hotelescazu@aol.com Call for more info:
Free US phone 877-778-8515  or 410-975-6703 
In Costa Rica phone: 506- 8307-0164
9142-7/27/17


Sabana
Sur house
Commercial Building for Sale in Sabana Sur
A two story building w/14 areas for offices, call center, storage or residence. Building has been completely remodelled  Transportation within 50 mts. passenger train, buses and taxis. Park, gymnasium, tennis club and National soccer stadium 2 - 3 block walk. 24 hour security, many restuarants, clubs and social facilities nearby. Approximately 325 mts. construction $350,000. 
Contact :
 James Holley E-mail  jimmy6902001@yahoo.com
9245-7/8/17


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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

CENTURY 21 JACÓ BEACH
Century 21

A Name You Trust,
Professionalism You Deserve

Tom Ghormley and the dream team!
Owner/Broker
in CR since 1979

Buying? Selling? Renting?
We Can Do It!
Let us help you live your dreams!
Beachfront, Views, Mountains,
Beaches, Houses, Condos,
Hotels, Restaurants, Projects,
Commercial, Investments and more

 Century 21 Jacó Beach
Playa Jacó, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
U. S. A. phone numbers:  (213) 283-5168 
or Toll Free: (877) 746-3868
Costa Rica phone number: (506) 2643-3356
Email: info@c21jaco.com
Web: www.c21jaco.com
9215-3/22/18


Remax
Tamarindo
www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about Costa Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and & commercial real estate. Twelve (12) agents to serve you, from Playa Marbella to Playa Dante in the Guanacaste, through our Tamarindo and Flamingo offices. For more information, please contact our local phones: 506-2653-0073 Tamarindo / 506-2201-9056 Flamingo ~ Toll Free: 1-866-976-8898 or email:  info@remax-oceansurf-cr.com  or click here www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com
9145-1/2918


ReMax
Playas del Coco
We are an award-winning Team of Professional Agents working with Costa Rica’s #1 Selling Real Estate Agency RE/MAX Prestige Ocean Properties. Get to KNOW, LIKE & TRUST us and let us help you find YOUR Pura Vida! We have over 30 years of experience to educate our buyers and sellers in all aspects of Real Estate.  For Information on condos, homes, lots, farms, ranches, commercial or development property
CONTACT US TODAY with NO OBLIGATION whatsoever.

Playas del Coco Click Here!

Playa Panama Click Here!

Playa Hermosa Click Here!
Peninsula Papagayo Click Here!

Playa Matapalo Click Here!
Toll Free 1-877-293-1456
Email: michael@costarica-realestate.com

9174-2/7/18

Real estate-related services (paid category)

Related

Costa Rica
Solar

COSTA RICA SOLAR
Serving Atenas and Surroundings Areas

BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill. More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.  Fully Guaranteed!

CALL TODAY!
Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398

OUR EMAIL:
andrefurlong@gmail.com
Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com
VISIT OUR WEB:

9177-6/19/16

Browse timeshares for sale and rent by owner in Costa Rica at bargain prices. We connect existing timeshare owners with those looking to buy or rent a timeshare on the resale market. Timeshares on the resale market are up to 50% cheaper than those sold through the resort. Already own a timeshare and looking to sell? Stop saying “sell my timeshare” and let BuyaTimeshare.com help you find a buyer or renter.
9203-4/19/2018

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Published || Wednesday Edition, July 26, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 147
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News from the BBC up to the minute



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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute

To the victor, goes the spoils
Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo     
Luis Carlotti congratulates Sergio Corrales, one of the students involved in the project.

Costa Rican students win Cisco award

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A group of Costa Rican students received the People’s Choice award in the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge for 2017.

The students were all in the mechatronics engineering program for the Tecnológico de Costa Rica. The proposal made by the students was a sensor called the Amadeus-ODA. This device allows the user to effectively monitor the quality of lubricating oil in industrial machinery to determine when it is due for an oil change, the institute said. It also allows an early detection system of faults while reducing pollution and economic waste.

The sensor would be supported by an Internet of Things, or IoT, infrastructure that connects it to the cloud and allows both access and analysis of information in real time. This includes a remote connection that can reduce risks and optimize performance of the machines.

According to a Monday statement by the institute, more than 1,100 projects were entered from over 450 universities worldwide. The Costa Ricans managed to make it to the top 15 finalists along with many other U.S. universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Georgia Tech and Columbia University among others. The contest had only four non-U.S. universities among the 15 finalists including TEC.

Following a long debate, the students received recognition and a $10,000 prize for their work. “As representatives of Cisco-Costa Rica, we are very happy that TEC youth were the winners and this is a example of the talent that young people have in this country,” said Luis Carlotti, the general manager for Cisco-Costa Rica.

Cisco Systems is a technology conglomerate based out of Silicon Valley that develops, manufactures and sells networking hardware.



Cooperation agreement announced between universities and government

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A cooperation agreement between government and public universities was set in place last Thursday during the presidential visit of Luis Guillermo Solís to the Guanacaste province, as part of the festivities for the Anexíon of the Partido de Nicoya.

The agreement states the academic support to develop 129 projects related to national development, 42 of them are related to scientific research in the fields of biology, genetics and environment, according to information provided by Casa Presidencial.

The agreement also includes cooperation to develop 25 educational projects regarding the analisis of the current systems, process improvement and tuning up the teacher's profiles, among others.

The Consejo Nacional de Rectores, which is the country's agency in charge of creating and implementing public higher education policies, will fund 15 of those 129 projects, which involve five public universities and 36 government entities. The total cost of the initiative is $2.3 million.

The whole agreement will be coordinated by the Consejo and the Vicerrectorías de Acción Social. The latter are departments in charge of linking a university with the rest of the population and the state. All public universities have one of these departments.



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From page 7:

Coffee mission seeks expansion into Chile

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four Costa Rican companies are visiting Chile this week with the objective of promoting the supply and sale of Costa Rican coffee, according to a statement from the Promotora Costarricense del Comercio Exterior.

In 2016, Costa Rica exported about $306.5 million of coffee beans making it the seventh largest product that the country exports. Based on data provided by Procomer, Costa Rica exported $34.4 million worth of syrups, concentrates, plastics, pineapple and fruits to te Chilean market during the same period. Now it seeks to expand the country’s coffee products into the Chilean market.

The commercial mission was organized by Procomer, the Instituto del Café de Costa Rica and four local Costa Rican companies. During the trade mission this week, there will be a tour of the main coffee shops in the Chilean capital of Santiago, meetings with importers, and dealings with potential buyers.

According to Álvaro Piedra, the export director for Procomer, there are two main groups related to the consumption of coffee in Chile. There are coffee shops that have direct contact with the consumer and are constantly engaging on quality issues as well as differences in the origins of the grains and their preparation. Then there are what he calls the roasters who are primarily the importers and owners of those shops. For Piedra, the focus will be on honing in on the latter’s needs and wants.

“Chile was one of the first countries that opened the door for Costa Rica to export its coffee in the early nineteenth century so our expectations are great since we have excellent coffee and Chileans are people who know how to appreciate its quality,” said Sergio Alfaro, one of the heads of the business companies traveling to Chile.