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Published Thursday Edition
July 27, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 148
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Unions shudder at pension privatization by expert
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A former labor minister under the Pinochet dictatorship, the Costa Rican pensions superintendent and one of the mathematicians involved in the latest financial report of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social met at a forum on pensions reforms last February 21 at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica.

The private activity was organized by the firm Foros Santander, had a cost of $70 per person and had as its top speaker José Piñera, former Chilean minister of labor during the Augusto Pinochet regime.

Piñera, who is also a brother of former Chilean president Sebastián Piñera, played a leading role in the privatization of  Chile’s pension system by the creation of Administradoras de Fondos de Pensiones: private companies in charge of managing worker’s savings and then providing them with a fixed amount of money during retirement.

The activity also had Álvaro Ramos as a speaker. Ramos is the director of the Superintendencia General de Pensiones, the regulation agency whose latest report on the Poder Judicial pensions fund is now being used by legislators to reform that system.

Another speaker was Rodrigo Arias, one of the Universidad de Costa Rica’s mathematicians involved in the creation of the latest financial report on the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social pensions regime. Similarly to the Poder-Judicial case, the report on which Arias participated is being used by authorities to determine what reforms should be applied and when.

This information arrives at a time when labor unions are showing strong opposition to any change in their retirement plan. Currently, a week-long strike of judicial workers  paralyzed the judicial morgue for five days, while many services of a judicial nature have been halted or reduced significantly.

“It is very serious to know the same people who provide the data to make decisions are also involved in activities that clearly seek the privatization of our pensions system,” said Ronald Segura, spokesperson of the Asociación Costarricense de Fiscales.

“They want to turn the public savings into private ones, similar to the Chilean system, where the average retiree gets less than $200 per month after the work of a lifetime.”
 
A.M. Costa Rica tried to get some answers from Ramos, as to what was his position on reforms or if he though that participating in that kind of activity could send confusing messages to the general public. However, he did not respond.

Arias did talk and said that at the end of the meeting he realized the liberalization of the pensions regime was the purpose to it.

"I have also met with unions, students and anyone interested in knowing more about the financial situation of the Caja," said Arias.

“The study does not contain anything but technical mathematical information processed by a team of three people, all of us part of the Universidad de Costa Rica."

Two weeks ago, that same study was challenged by the International Labor Organization, which released its own calculations and claimed that study showed a more pessimistic scenario than the real one.

In the case of the Poder Judicial evaluation, the final reforms will be decided by legislators based on figures provided by the Superintendencia and the Instituto de Investigaciones Ecónomicas of the Universidad de Costa Rica.
José
                              Piñera
JosePinera.org courtesy photo     
José Piñera, former Chilean labor minister.

Piñera, Pinochet and the formation of Chile's pension plan

José Piñera is the founder of the current pensions system in Chile created in 1981 during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Pinochet is probably most famous for being at the head of a military junta that overthrew the democratically-elected government of former Chilean president Salvador Allende back in 1973.
The coup was in part encouraged and orchestrated by the United States via the Central Intelligence Agency in a bid to place Pinochet, a staunch anti-communist, in power.

The brutal regime is responsible for thousands of disappearances and deaths as well as the complete suppression of all opposition. Pinochet himself died in 2006 after reigning as military ruler officially between 1973 and 1990.

The Pinochet regime was heavily influenced by a group of Chilean politicians known in international political circles as the “Chicago Boys.”

Piñera, a Harvard graduate where he received a doctorate in economics, is considered part of this group that orchestrated free-market, neoliberal ideals. Many of them studied at the University of Chicago under such titans of that school's opposition to Keynesian theory like Milton Friedman.

Conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation attribute Chile’s remarkable economic success and leading performance in being business friendly to these Chileans. This phenomena, called by some as the “Miracle of Chile,” has drawn criticism from others for causing great inequality and benefiting only wealth U.S.-based corporations at the expense of Latin America.

The pensions system went from a contributions-based model to a private savings and investments one. It was first made available to the population as an option, but it then became mandatory. Coincidentally, it did not apply to the Chilean military and other security forces, which were allowed to stay under the old system.

Piñera is a firm believer in the private management of retirement funds. On Aug. 4, 2016, he said he feels very proud of his actions, during a broadcast in the Chilean news site 24horas.cl

The private system has caused several demonstrations in Chile, as organizations such as No+AFP claim the system generates a lot of revenue for big corporations but fails to provide a fair pension to their affiliates. On Aug 9, 2016, the former president Michelle Bachellet called for the creation of a national agreement in the pensions systems, where employers and state would also contribute to the system.

Editor's Note: Conor Golden, news editor for A.M. Costa Rica, contributed with some fact gathering for use in this story.


Sala IV calls special ed centers unconstitutional
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala Constitucional ruled in favor of a 14-year old boy with autism against the Colegio Monterrey ensuring that the education system in Costa Rica is inclusive for all persons with the condition.

According to the court, the student entered the school back in 2012 successfully completing all his primary education requirements and the seventh grade.

However, in June 2016, the parents of the boy were summoned to a meeting where they were informed that their son would only be enrolled in the Colegio on the premise that the educators could place him within the school’s special education program possibly being held in a different educational facility. The parents took the matter to court.

During the case rendered in decision 2017-9798, the parents of the child argued that the change in the boy’s placement was without any scientific or technical basis as the autistic boy performed well in primary school.

They believed, according to a statement released by the Sala Constitucional, that the change would subject the minor to a lower quality education system than what he was used to.

Additionally, it would deprive the boy of being with his classmates and friends with whom he advanced from primary school with.

The court ordered the principal and vice-principal of the school to immediately return the autistic child the full enjoyment of his violated rights.

This, the court said, should be made in a way as to guarantee his right to an inclusive education in the regular system.

“The social integration of persons with disabilities must be a prioritized objective of the State that has the obligation to adopt the necessary mechanisms to progressively remove the barriers that limit disabled persons from exercising their right to an independent life,” the decision by the Court read.

“And for this reason, the Minister of Educación must be ordered, duly regulated in a period of no more than four months from the date of notification of this resolution, the conditions of entry and stay of persons with disabilities in public and private educational establishments, so as to guarantee their access to education in accordance with international and national parameters set for this purpose.”

These parameters were established in an October 2006 decision by the court by Sentencia: 2006-014904.

The standard is now set that students with disabilities have the right to attend regular educational institutions rather than special education centers “and share the same environment and set of experiences with other students (those who learn differently, those without disabilities, or with other types of disabilities between each other) at all times, inside and outside the classroom or the educational center in general,” the court said.

It also allows all content taught at the school to be accessible to all types of students while making reasonable adjustments necessary so that everyone can be an active, functioning student in the classroom.


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A.M.
Costa Rica

Second News Page

Published || Thursday Edition, July 27, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 148
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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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RESIDENCY IN COSTA RICA
A full service immigration agency
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There are four primary ways to apply for legal residency in Costa Rica:
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 Accountants

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Flooding in Golfito causes shortages

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Several residents of the La Moana community blocked the road to Golfito Wednesday morning, in protest for the lack of drinkable water in the area.

Reports have reached A.M. Costa Rica of some moderate and severe flooding racking the area around Golfito in Costa Rica’s Zona Sur. The scarcity of clean water is a consequence of heavy rains and floods that have occurred in the last few days in the area.

According to Wálter Fonseca, chief of operations at the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias, these people lived in a shanty town called El Progreso and get their water supplies from wells.

"It's an informal settlement ready for relocation because they are in a risky condition," Fonseca explained. "They take their water from wells that become contaminated whenever there is a flood."

Members of the municipality’s emergency committee and workers of the municipality of Golfito arrived at the scene and resolved the situation. “We are going to put a temporary water source and will also provide food supplies in the community," Fonseca said.

That still leaves many roads and paths in the area still needing to be cleared for regular passage again. As of Wednesday evening, it still appears that some of those roads still have a high amount of water over the asphalt. Emergency officials and municipality workers are still working on clearing those roads for safe travel at this point.



TSA announces stricter screening rules

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced Wednesday morning that it would be implementing stronger screening procedures for carry-on items. Stronger procedures have an occasional tendency to mean a longer time at security checks.

According to the TSA, the new procedures mainly include officers now asking travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below. This process is similar to the one requiring laptops to be taken out and placed separately for years. TSA claims that this helps officers obtain a clearer X-ray image.

“It is possible that passengers may experience more bag checks, however, through extensive testing, TSA identified ways to improve screening procedures with quicker and more targeted measures to clear the bags,” the administration said in its statement.

“The new screening procedures in standard lanes are already in place at the following 10 U.S. airports with plans to expand to all airports during the weeks and months ahead.”

Those airports include: Boise Airport, Colorado Springs Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Logan International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, McCarran International Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

There are no changes to what travelers can bring through the checkpoint and what is allowed in carry-on bags, the TSA said.


30 percent of calls to firemen are
for bees and wasps, Bomberos say


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

About 30 percent of all missions for firefighters are not related to flames, hoses, water and debris but with bees and wasps.

As of July, the Cuerpo Nacional de Bomberos has rushed to dismantle over 11, 747 bees nests, which is a 
fairly normal number of cases for the first half of the year, according to Alexis Villalobos, one of the firemen assigned to deal with these cases.

Villalobos explained frightened people call from all across the country when they find bees in the building of their new homes or their porches, roofs and even inside the walls. However, residents of developed cities tend to call more often that people from the rural area.

"When we arrive to the places our first priority is to rescue as many bees as possible and then relocate them," said Villalobos. “Bees play an essential role in the food chain so we have to take care of them."

Wearing the adequate protective uniform, the firemen try to detach the nest and let it fall on a special cage which protect the insects during transportation. If it doesn't work and they attack, firemen would spray water mixed with soap, which will kill the insects on the spot.

When people find wasps or bees nest which are very small, we recommend they wait. Usually they are staying there waiting to continue their journey, he said.

If, on the other hand, someone finds a big nest that seems not temporary at all, things like strong noises, perfumes and other strong odors should be avoided, because it makes them very aggressive.

Villalobos said that once an attack starts, these insects will sting anything moving within a 500 meter diameter, including dogs, cats and other pets.
"I don't recommend to do as movies show, where a person jumps into the water to keep the bees away," he said. "Inside the water could be a stone or strong currents or it could just be too deep, so the better strategy is cover with something and lay down on the floor.


hospital beds
Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social photo           
Some of the old beds in Calderón hospital being removed.

Out with the old beds, in with the new

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

By next Monday, all the beds in Hospital Calderón Guardia should be replaced with new smart beds, according to a statement of the Caja de Costarricense de Seguro Social.

Taciano Lemos Pires, the director-general of the hospital, noted that some of these beds were between 30 and 50 years old at least. The total investment in the new bed frames and mattresses are around 907.5 million colones and is currently in its third stage of replacing more than 376 beds, the Caja said.

For the work, hospital staff made an assessment and technical study on each and every single bed in the hospital. The new smart beds were placed under special order direct from Hamburg, Germany, where the German factory producing the beds spent most of its production time in making the beds.

Some of the beds are called smart beds as all the movements for controlling the position of the bed are made  remotely. This means that patients no longer need to step off the bed to make the adjustments, the Caja said.

“This reduces the risk of patients falling as many people hospitalized for their medical condition could not be mobilized alone,” the Caja said in a statement. “They needed to be lifted by the nursing staff. This situation will no longer be necessary.”

The beds have also been sprayed with a sterilizer to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi and there is also a device for the placing of an X-ray cassette in the back so that it is not necessary to take or turn the patient around to x-ray their back.

Pires said that the hospital will continue to function normally as the beds are being replaced.



News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English



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A.M.
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Third News Page
U.S. Tax
Published || Thursday Edition, July 27, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 148
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Craft brewery draws inspiration from Costa Rica's flora and fauna
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Inspired by the nature and the lifestyle in Cabuya, Re’em Jacob created La Selva Cerveza Artesanal, a local craft beer company.

The company was established about four years ago as the result of experimentation and constant search for a balanced alcoholic beverage, according to the Promotora Costarricese del Comercio Exterior. That balance was apparently found with a mixture of malt, hops, yeast, and water from the Cabo Blanco nature reserve.

“When I started building the brewery and saw the reaction of the people, I realized the possibilities and took it seriously from the beginning,” Jacob said. “I started to research about processes, permits, how to build it correctly. I knew the advantages and disadvantages of brewing here on the beach and I made the decision to go all the way.”

Procomer said that the brewery produces at least 10,000 liters per year and sells six varieties of beer: Rubia, Dorada, Castaña, Naranja, Morena and Oscura. The company has introduced its product in Canad and plans to export to Guatemala, Perú, Panamá and Nicaragua.

“La Selva has been able to use the resources available in the area of Cabuya and the needs of its target audience to create a product that stands out for quality and has managed to open doors to the company in a niche market,” said Marco Alfaro, the regional head of Procomer.

“This is a company that permeates the philosophy of balance in each bottle but also in every business strategy.”

Along the way, the main difficulties have been to preserve fresh production in such a hot climate, the company said. It is also hard to formalize a business of craft beer that is still relatively new in the country.

La Selva beer
Procomer photo     
How about some beer on the beach.

Re'em
Jacob
Procomer photo     
Re'em Jacob poses at his brewery in Puntrenas province.

“I came here from another country to build my dreams, now I want to take this to all parts of the world and share the Costa Rican lifestyle,” Jacob said.


Chiriticos seeks to give civil services to border-crossing native tribes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ngäbe Buglé indigenous population residing in the district of Sixaola in Limón, will have access to civil registry services both in Costa Rica and Panamá.

Between July 25 and 30, about 15 officials from both institutions will be temporarily installed in the area to meet the registration needs of these residents.

“We will process late declarations and registrations of birth, verification and determination of nationality, requests and withdrawal of birth certificates and birth certificates requested in previous tours,”said Alcides Chavarría, head of regional services coordination. “Name changes, acknowledgments, rectifications and general consultations on civil registration will be answered.”

The objective of this tour of Chiriticos is to serve the indigenous population that move between Chiriquí province in Panamá to the Sixaola area in Costa Rica. These native peoples often float between the borders seeking to work on banana farms.

The registry officials will be located at the Daytonia clinic and from July 28 to 30 at the Sixaola school. The opening hours will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Chiriticos project began back in 2014 to register the Ngäbe Buglé indigenous population of the border between Costa Rica and Panamá and eliminate the risk of statelessness, or a person who does not have a registered nation of origin.

Chiriticos
registration
Chiriticos photo     
Station in Panamá's Chiriquí province by Costa Rican civil registry officials.

The project is a joint initiative of the Tribunal Supremo de los Elecciones of Costa Rica and the electoral tribunal of Panamá, executed by the civil registries of both nations with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Registration will facilitate Panamians as well as access to social insurance, scholarships, housing and work, among other needs.

That is, it provides applicants with citizenship along with the respective rights and obligations associated with that. Chiriticos is a pioneering project in the world and is an example of binational coordination to serve migrant populations, the project’s organizers said.


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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

Published || Thursday Edition, July 27, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 148
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Study claims large amount of transgenic content in Costa Rican food
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
 
A new study has detected transgenic ingredients in human and animal food in Costa Rica, according to a statement sent by the Frente Ecologista.

Examples include: flour, cereals, tortillas, roasted potato chips, sausages, animal food concentrates and corn kernels. The environmental group’s statement cites the research of the Costa Rican Agronomy Magazine, where the presence of trans-genetics in a wide range of foods containing corn and soy appears to be revealed.

The study would have analyzed 36 meals for human and animal consumption, with or without maize or soybean ingredients apparent in their manufacture, which are sold in commercial establishments in the provinces of Heredia, Cartago and San José.

More than 85 percent of the samples analyzed contain transgenic sequences, the group said.

According to the study, quantitative studies are still lacking to see if the genetically-modified material limit established by the European Union’s GM food and weights regulation has been disrespected.

The researchers belong to the Genomic Analysis Laboratory, the School of Agricultural Sciences and the Laboratory of Plant Biotechnology at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Frente protest graphic
Frente Ecologista graphic       
Graphic used on petition put out by the group.

A researcher of the Laboratory of Traceability Molecular Food of the Faculty of Sciences of the University of the Republic of Uruguay also participated in the research.



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Opinion is HERE!   Classifieds are HERE!  Plus useful links
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The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2016 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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Dark
Side of Pura Vida

A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page


Salsa Lizano
Published || Thursday Edition, July 27, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 148
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
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Food
About us
 
Venezuela protest
Voice of America photo        
Street is blockaded during a strike in Caracas, Venezuela. The sign reads "fraudulent."

U.S. sanctions some officials
over Maduro’s election plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States announced new sanctions Wednesday against 13 individuals connected to the Venezuelan government and state oil company in an effort designed to dissuade President Nicolas Maduro from implementing a controversial constitutional assembly.

President Donald Trump’s administration said the individuals targeted include high-ranking current and former officials connected to the Maduro regime, including two Cabinet ministers, the national elections director, the vice president of finance for state-run oil company PDVSA, and the country’s army and police chiefs, among others.

In a statement accompanying the sanctions announcement, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said further sanctions are possible after the election Maduro has called for Sunday.

“Anyone elected to the National Constituent Assembly should know that their role in undermining democratic processes and institutions in Venezuela could expose them to potential U.S. sanctions,” he said.

Opposition forces in Venezuela launched a two-day national strike Wednesday aimed at pressuring Maduro to cancel the upcoming vote. A protest march Friday in the capital, Caracas, will follow the strike.

An opposition member taking part in the protest action, Carlos Jimenez, said that the elections Sunday will do nothing to solve Venezuela’s national crisis. People need food, he said, and improvements are desperately needed in the country’s hospitals.

Maduro said he called for a constitutional assembly to restore order in Venezuela, which has been engulfed by violent clashes between protesters and security forces almost every day since April. More than 100 people have been killed and thousands injured.

Opposition leaders say Maduro intends to assume more authoritarian powers once a constitutional assembly acceptable to him is chosen.

Leopoldo López, an opposition leader, called on Venezuelans Wednesday to continue peaceful street protests, and encouraged the military to ignore government orders to clamp down on activists.

Maduro’s opponents took part in a 24-hour work stoppage last Wednesday, in which protesters built roadblocks from tree limbs, wires, trash and furniture.

Maduro has continued to forge ahead with his plans despite the intense opposition. He has followed through with a vow to arrest any new Supreme Court judges appointed by the opposition-dominated National Assembly, with three judges detained by intelligence forces since Saturday.

The protests were sparked by growing anger over Venezuela’s crumbling economy. Once rich with oil, the nation’s revenues have tumbled following the sharp drop in global energy prices; corruption by government officials also is seen as a factor in the economic decline.

Food stocks across the country have dwindled or disappeared, forcing many Venezuelans to cross into neighboring Brazil and Colombia to buy food. He has warned the Organization of American States not to intervene in Venezuela, saying that would surely bring on civil war.


Italy losing patience
over migrant crisis, Libya


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In the first flush of enthusiasm for France’s Emmanuel Macron, the fresh young politician who upended French politics and snatched his country’s presidency this year, Italian politicians were no different from European counterparts in seeing him as a JFK-type figure who'd help Europe overcome major challenges from Brexit to the migrant crisis.

But Italy is quickly falling out of love with Macron and irritation with France’s president is mounting in Rome.

Tensions have crept into diplomatic relations between France and the government of Paolo Gentiloni, prompted by Macron’s response to Italian pleas for more European assistance with the mainly sub-Saharan migrants crossing the Mediterranean in record numbers and his largely uncoordinated diplomatic intervention this week in the Libya crisis.

On Tuesday, Macron oversaw a meeting in Paris of the leaders of two of war-torn Libya’s rival factions to discuss a political power-sharing deal to reunite the fractured north African country.

The meeting between the head of the U.N.-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, which has failed to assert authority, even in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and General Khalifa Haftar, a warlord who largely controls the east of the lawless country, was not coordinated with the Italian government.

Gentiloni’s ministers took the unusual step of openly criticizing the French president this week, voicing their frustration with Macron’s efforts, which they argue distract from a coordinated U.N. and European Union effort to engineer a political deal in Libya between three rival governments and dozens of militias.

Ministers are dismissive of the progress the Elysee Palace claimed Tuesday to have made in the search for a deal in Libya. According to the French government, al-Sarraj and Haftar have committed to a cease-fire as well as to a continued political dialogue in an effort to achieve national reconciliation.

The Italians believe Macron has fallen into a trap set by General Haftar, who has refused to accept the legitimacy of Fayez al-Sarraj’s government. Italian officials complain that the Macron-brokered meeting helps to legitimize Haftar, whom they see as a warlord and a strongman-in-the-making.

Officials in the Italian capital say Italy is far more of a front-line state when it comes to Libya and suffers more immediate impact than France when it comes to political developments on the other side of the Mediterranean.

And they accuse Macron of brashness in waiving off Italian objections, arguing he’s being too high-handed. The charge of high-handedness has been echoed this month, too, in France, on his approach to a range of issues, domestic and foreign, with one retired general, Vincent Desportes, accusing Macron of juvenile authoritarianism.

French officials counter that the Italians are being naive if they think there can be any lasting deal in Libya that excludes Haftar, who’s backed by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Macron’s Libya diplomacy is just one irritant in increasingly tension-filled Franco-Italian relations. His position hasn’t changed much from Francois Hollande, his predecessor in the Elysee Palace, to the Italian government’s rising anger.

Italian pleas for more burden-sharing by other EU countries have, so far, fallen on deaf ears. Italy’s refugee centers and shelters have reached their capacity of 200,000.

So far this year nearly 100,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Mediterranean from Libya,  a 17 percent increase over the same period last year, and with months more of good weather, another 100,000 asylum seekers are likely to land at Italian ports.

This month, Italy’s deputy foreign minister, Mario Giro, complained, “it doesn’t seem like France wants to help us concretely.”

French police are blocking hundreds of migrants on the Italian side of the border at Ventimiglia from entering France; the French government is refusing to allow asylum seekers rescued in the Mediterranean from landing at French ports and, like nearly every other EU country, France hasn’t come anywhere near meeting its quota of migrants as agreed to under a 2015 EU refugee relocation scheme.

Macron this month talked of distinguishing between war refugees and economic migrants, indicating that France won't admit any asylum-seekers who are just escaping poverty and hunger.

But that doesn’t help Italy as it tries to cope with a mounting influx of mainly economic migrants, who, under EU rule, it has little alternative but to admit, at least for processing and to save lives.

Paris has also scorned an Italian proposal for an EU military mission to monitor and interdict migrants along Libya’s southern border.

Italians question why a large French military mission in Niger isn't being used to disrupt migrant trafficking when it is right by the main route being used by smugglers and would-be asylum seekers traveling north.

Last month, the European Parliament’s most senior left-wing politician, Italian Gianni Pittella, launched a scathing attack on Macron after French police frogmarched back into Italy more than 100 migrants who’d crossed into France.

“The situation is shameful. Italy and the Italians are being abandoned, they’re being expected to deal with all these migrants on their own with no support,” he said.


Wildfires along the Riviera
force thousands to evacuate


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Firefighters in France have intensified their efforts to control a wildfire that began sweeping through parts of the Riviera coast Tuesday night and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

The fire is the most recent of several wind-fueled blazes that are consuming forests and scrublands between Marseilles and the city of Nice in southeastern France.

At the nearby marinas of Saint-Tropez resort, the fast-approaching fire prompted the evacuation of about 10,000 people, including 3,000 from campsites.

Hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze, with planes and helicopters dropping tons of water on the area's hilly terrain, where fires regularly break out during the summer season.

Fire began raging along the coast Monday, forcing smaller evacuations as flames approached a corner of Saint-Tropez. Firefighters also fought blazes farther east in Artigues and contained another Tuesday evening in La Croix Valmer.

So far, no deaths have been reported as a result of the blazes.

France's Mediterranean coast is especially susceptible to wildfires because of its huge forests, dry summer conditions, and sea winds that fuel the flames.


European Union vows help
for Italy in migrant crisis


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The European Commission has pledged another $116 million to Italy to help its government manage the Mediterranean migration crisis.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said in a letter to Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Tuesday that he was setting up a special contact team in Brussels to coordinate with Italian authorities. The additional financial assistance the commission pledged to Italy raises by 12.5 percent the funds already allocated to Rome, to a total of over $1 billion.

Through the first half of 2017, nearly 84,000 migrants arrived in Italy by sea, 20 percent more than during the same period last year. Detention centers and temporary shelters that Italy has for migrants have reached their maximum capacity of 200,000 people, but there are many other migrants in the country working illegally.

Migrants from Nigeria, Bangladesh and Guinea account for most of those fleeing to Italy on the way to Europe.

Junker also promised to pressure Bangladesh to take back its migrants, since the vast majority of them are ineligible for international protection. He threatened to limit visas to Europe for travelers from the south Asian nation if there was no action by Dhaka.

Meanwhile, rescuers in the Mediterranean who came to the aid of a dinghy packed with migrants Tuesday discovered 13 bodies among them, including pregnant women.

A ship operated by the Save The Children group rescued some 70 migrants Tuesday who were also attempting to cross the sea in a small boat.


Transgender persons in military
Voice of America infographic         
Chart displaying number of active service members who would seek trans treatments.

Trump says transgenders
barred from U.S. military

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Donald Trump says the U.S. military will no longer let transgender people serve in any capacity, reversing a policy former President Barack Obama's administration announced a year ago.

In a string of Twitter comments, Trump said Wednesday that after consulting with generals and military experts, he was ordering the armed forces to stop accepting transgender recruits.

"Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail," Trump wrote.

Trump did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the U.S. military, which are about 4,000 personnel, according to research by the Rand Corp.

She rebuffed reporters' inquiries suggesting that Trump had broken an election-campaign vow to support the transgender community. The president felt his decision was the best one for the military, Ms. Sanders said.

In addition to service members known to be transgender, defense officials said there are about 250 military personnel who are believed to be transitioning to a gender other than the one they were identified with at birth.

Trump's announcement came one day ahead of a deadline for the military to update its medical regulations to accommodate transgender personnel, but the Pentagon appeared to be caught off-guard when the president issued his Twitter comments.

The Defense Department said it was referring all questions about the change in policy to the White House. The Pentagon said it would continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the commander-in-chief, and then brief military officials.

Trump's action drew an immediate rebuke from a leading group supporting transgender rights and lawmakers who had favored last year's policy change.

Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin said, "I know transgender service members and vets who have done more to serve their country than @realdonaldtrump has in his entire life."

Some other former military personnel took to social media in support of Trump's decision.

A senior Republican lawmaker, Sen. John McCain, held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam in the 1960s, chided Trump for taking up such a serious issue on Twitter, and said the statement was unclear:

"The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving."

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, said, "No American, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be prohibited from the honor + privilege of serving our nation."

In June 2016, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon was ending what he said were policies that discriminated against transgender people, and would start by revoking a rule that transgender people could be involuntarily discharged from military service.

Carter said at the time he was confident that we have reason to be proud today of what this will mean for our military because it is the right thing to do, and it is another step in ensuring that we continue to recruit and retain the most qualified people and good people are the key to the best military in the world.

Under Carter's order, the military had planned to start allowing transgender people to enlist this year, provided they had been stable in their preferred gender for 18 months.

Ahead of Trump's announcement, his defense chief, Jim Mattis, said recently the Pentagon would delay Carter's order through the remainder of 2017 in order to review the impact of the shift.


Feds hold lending rate steady
will reduce holdings soon


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Leaders of the U.S. central bank said Wednesday that they were holding their benchmark lending rate at a low level, in a range between 1 and 1.25 percent, for the time being.

Federal Reserve officials said in a report issued after their two-day policy meeting that the world's largest economy was growing at a moderate pace and the job market was improving, but that inflation remained a bit low.

The chief economist of Stifel Fixed Income, Lindsey Piegza, said the Fed appeared eager to raise interest rates back to a more normal level and might well approve an increase at its next meeting in September. Sara Johnson of IHS Markit said the next rate hike likely would be in December.

Fed officials cut short-term interest rates to nearly zero during the 2007-09 financial crisis to boost investment and growth. They said the recovering economy no longer needed so much help, so they have been gradually raising interest rates and are expected to boost them further in the future.

Ms.  Piegza said keeping rates too low for too long might prompt investors to seek better returns by putting money into excessively risky areas.

During the recession, the Fed also tried to boost growth by cutting long-term interest rates, with a complex program that involved purchasing huge amounts of securities.

Fed officials said they would keep these assets for the time being but indicated they would begin selling them off relatively soon. Fed officials have said they will take care to reduce these assets in a gradual way that will not disrupt markets.


More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale
Real estate for sale (paid category)

Hotel in
Escazú

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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 || Thursday Edition, July 27, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 148
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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

Police find allegedly stolen meat truck

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police in Palmares recovered a stolen meat truck Wednesday morning that unidentified robbers had stolen hours before.

According to a recent report from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, members of the Fuerza Pública had established various checkpoints following a call that came in of a stolen vehicle in Caldera de Esparza at Puntarenas.

Police near the crossing of Palmares discovered the container of meat intact and abandoned on a private property. The container still had the meat within it, police said.

The driver and the other worker who were in the vehicle assaulted in Caldera were found near the local mall at Curridabat. Police said they were supposedly abandoned by the thieves at that location.



Liberia park plan
IFAM design image       
Digitized design image to the proposed changes to the park.

Liberia approves final park design plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The municipality of Liberia approved the final design proposal for the renovation of the Parque Mario Cañas Ruiz made by the Instituto de Fomento y Asesoría Municipal, or IFAM.

The project presents a modern park with free wireless internet access, spaces to charge devices and a greater appropriation of space for visitors without losing the historical value of the Ciudad Blanca., IFAM said in a statement.

“One of the fundamental aspects of the design is to maintain the essence of the park, enhance the kiosk as a symbol of Liberian heritage and develop axes of travel to the square that is in front of the church giving space and visual continuity,” said Juan Diego Víquez, the IFAM architect in charge of the project.

Currently, the park has a traditional design of Costa Rican colonial parks with a central kiosk as the focal point, concrete benches and multiform green areas. The new design includes a 24-hour park with wireless connection points available from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., automated LED lighting system, automated irrigation system and furniture with electric plugs powered by solar energy along with an amphitheater and security cameras, IFAM said.

“Liberia is in a profound change in its entire structure,” said Julio Vales, the mayor. “We have grown in terms of construction and what better example can we give than to renovate a part that is the meeting center for the Liberian community.”

The municipality said that it is planning to start work in 2018. Around 18 million colones is being put to the project through an agreement signed between IFAM and the municipality. The preliminary draft, construction plans, technical specifications and budget is being created at this point.






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From page 7:

Expat group again urges U.S. Congress to act

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An overseas Americans advocacy organization has urged both houses of the U.S. Congress to eliminate citizenship-based taxation.

The organization, American Citizens Abroad, made submissions this month to the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means and the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee. In both submissions, the organization urged lawmakers to eliminate the requirement that U.S. citizens pay taxes on their overseas earnings.

The organization noted that only the United States and the troubled African country of Eritrea assess taxes on the foreign earnings of their citizens.

American Citizens Abroad said that the proposal comes when U.S. lawmakers are well on the way to revising international tax rules for corporations. Many international corporations duck U.S. taxes on overseas earnings by setting up foreign subsidiaries.

U.S. citizens in Costa Rica are eligible for for an annual tax exemption of more than $100,000 on earned income, and many retirees here receive nearly all of their income from taxable U.S. sources. However, they still are liable for U.S. capital gains taxes on the sale of real estate, some foreign investment income and in some cases the taxes generated by Obamacare.

American Citizens Abroad said that it believes that now there is the opportunity for a tax change. International tax rules for corporations are being revised currently, and enactment of some form of territorial taxation for corporations is almost a certainty, it said. This means that companies’ foreign earnings will not be taxed or will be taxed at a reduced rate, it noted, adding that residency-based taxation for U.S. citizens overseas follows the same principle that legislators are being asked to accept for America’s global businesses.

Expats here and elsewhere have had trouble opening bank accounts because banks are obligated to report U.S. customer data to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Expats also have to file annual reports of bank accounts they hold, and the traditional ownership of a Costa Rica corporation requires extensive tax filings even if it is inactive.

American Citizens Abroad said that its proposals would not cost the U.S. Treasury any money and might even be income positive if the many delinquent expat begin filings tax returns. The organization added that:

There are an estimated 9 million Americans living overseas.  Many have lived there all their lives.  Based on 2014 census figures, if grouped as a state, they would represent the 11th largest.  Taxing them based on citizenship dates from the Civil War and was put in place for reasons no longer in keeping with the international world economy of today.

“The current tax rules are tortured and have been amended at least 17 times since 1962,” added Marylouise Serrato, American Citizens Abroad executive director, in a release.  “It’s unfair to Americans overseas. Residency-based taxation would translate into more jobs for Americans and more exports, given that it would allow small businesses to deploy employees overseas to sell U.S. goods and services.  Current tax policy makes this too costly for both small and large businesses. This problem was confirmed in testimony at hearings held by House Ways and Means in May.”

The organization also said its proposal addresses potential tax abuse and evasion.