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July 31, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 150
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ICE to review expanding regional electrical grid
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Central American electricity system contracted the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad to study the feasibility of connecting with a second circuit.

According to ICE, the objective is to identify opportunities and limitations of connection in the current substations based on different scenarios. The study will analyze over 13 substations located in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panamá.

It is expected to end in early November and carried out by specialists in structural engineering and electromechanical engineering by the Negocio Ingeniería y Construcción del ICE.

The Sistema de Interconexión Eléctrica de los Países de América Central, or SIEPAC for short, consists of over 1,793 kilometers of 230 kilovolt transmission lines. This allows a reliable and safe capacity of up to 300 megawatts of energy transported among the countries in the region. The proposed second circuit would double the amount of energy available, ICE said in a statement.

The vulnerability to this ambitious project, however, is that it increasingly signals an inter-connected region. That has its benefits but it also sacrifices the independence of the electrical grid for Costa Rica further. That outage was said to have started due to a failure at one of the stations in Panamá.

This means that region-wide power outages such as the one that recently knocked out the whole country for a few hours have a higher chance of occurring if power fails in one country or another.

Costa Rica has an infrastructure for SIEPAC consisting of 1,344 towers along a 496.2 kilometer stretch of power lines and four substations attached to the regional grid. These ones are located at Río Claro, Palmar Norte, Parrita and Cañas.
CNE
                              meet
Casa Presidencial photo       
President Luis Guillermo Solís and other officials during the June power outage.

According to a statement issued by Casa Presidencial, if the electrical grid in Costa Rica were to fail over a significant period of time, then generators would be used to temporarily power basic services to the country.

The administration, however, does not give information as to how long those reserves would hold. It only mentions that there is an emergency protocol installed in the event of a nationwide power loss through the cooperation of the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias.

A sustained loss of power could affect water pumps particularly to rural communities that rely on those to receive fresh water. An outage could also affect air traveling and ground flights. It could stop hospitals as well when the fuel runs out.

The regional electrical grid has been a discussion topic since 1987. Back in 1997, the legislatures of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panamá created the regional organizations and regulation for the electricity market, according to the system’s website. This defined how the regional grid was going to be established and constructed.

The cost of this transmission infrastructure, including the towers for a second future circuit, will be about $494 million.


Migrant
Universidad de Costa Rica photo       
Immigrant puts up a box to protect herself from the rain at Paso Canoas.
OCDE conducts immigration study in Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Migrants in Costa Rica have a significant disadvantage when it comes to accessing the labor market, education services, health and social protections and in using financial products.

These were the results of the Centro Centroamericano de Poblacíon from the Universidad de Costa Rica. The study was sponsored and also assisted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Contrary to popular belief, the researchers said that households with immigrants tend to benefit far less from government social welfare programs than households without immigrants. They are also less likely to have formal employment contracts or benefit from any kind of health or pension plan.

This is often due to the nature of the visas that these immigrants are traveling on: 90-day tourist visas. These offer access to the country but not official access to the services of a health or pension plan if one is employed.

Employers sometimes do not want to go through the rigors of the process as it could be too expensive and too long a time commitment depending on the employee, the nature of the contract and the job.

Even some foreign English teachers, as an example, are told to cross the border and come back rather than obtain a proper work contract. Some study abroad programs or trips less than 90 days also do not provide for a student or academic research visas for the participants.

According to Arodys Robles Soto, the lead researcher on this study, this exclusion of a certain segment of the Costa Rican population, estimated by the study as being about 12 to 13 percent, is a potential focal point of conflict and serious hindrance to national development. The results of the study were presented on July 21.

They included recommendations of public policy by the research that was developed over a four-year period.

Data was collected through a survey of over 2,200 households as well as interviews and secondary data from 15 communities. There were also 49 in-depth interviews with so-called stakeholders, or those who had a vested interest in the issue.

Some of the data discerned that 26 percent of migrants do not have a title on the property that they inhabit and only four percent are subsidized. At the same time, old data collected said that they represent over nine percent of the labor force particularly in agriculture. This has increased over time based on the new findings.

“Migrants have fewer educational opportunities, fewer options for receiving scholarships or incentives to pursue educational processes, this difference from their Costa Rican counterparts is due to several reasons that have a lot to do with lack of documentation,” the study’s findings say.

“The recommendation of public policy is to look at this population that is already part of Costa Rica and will grow with lower levels of education.”

As could be surmised, a strong majority of immigrants to Costa Rica are from Nicaragua. The study claims that they represent 90 percent of the immigration population. This is followed in second place by Colombia at three percent and the United States at two percent.

They also examined Costa Ricans living abroad and found that there are an estimated 130,000, according to this study’s data. The main place of residence is the United States followed by Nicaragua, Panamá, Canada and Spain. These may not include those living illegally or who are on some form of tourist visas themselves.

“For researchers, these migratory flows offer significant development potential, but their potential has not yet been reached,” the study concludes.

“Many sector policymakers still do not sufficiently consider migration in their areas of influence, and some policies seem to be involuntarily encouraging emigration.”


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Published || Monday Edition, July 31, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 150
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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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Judicial agents warn of fraud scam

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A fraud scheme with properties and investments has caused eight people to loose around $300,000 so far, according to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Apparently, a group of scammers are contacting people through websites and calls offering false loans with money coming from Panamá.

Agents said they tell their victims they are either international investors or their relatives. If the victim shows interest in the loan, they are told they should meet somewhere near the Paso Canoas border and pay up to $60,000 to cover paperwork and the cost of legal fees.

Once the person arrives to the place, the scammers provide false documents, take the money, walk away and never return. If the person declines to deliver the money, then the scammers rob the person at gunpoint, according to a statement from the judiciary.

The OIJ also explained that sometimes, the scammers also contact people selling real state and show interest as potential buyers. Then they meet with the owners and ask for $6,000 in advance to pay attorney fees. When the money is delivered they never show up.

OIJ asks citizens and residents to be alert and encourage possible victims to approach their offices and file the official complaint.


Cash flow issues plague government


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The increase in the interest rates of savings in colones caused the government to face several cash flow problems to fund  various social programs in July, according to the Ministerio de la Presidencia, Ministerio de Hacienda and the Ministerio de Desarrollo Humano e Inclusión Social.

Emilio Arias, president of the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda de Desarrollo Social, said several programs received about $17 million last week to continue their work. Those programs are: Avancemos, Red de Cuido, Bienestar Familiar y Emergencias Familiares.

During a press conference, Arroyo said it is not unusual for the government to face cash scarcity, especially at the end of the year. In this case the situation is under control, he said.

Apparently, there was a decrease in the amount of investors that participated in the finance ministry’s regular debt bids. “We prioritized the payments and rescheduled several transfers,” Arroyo said. “Many of them were also sent to the Boards of Education which suffered a longer delay in the last two months.”

In the coming weeks, government will deploy an strategy to avoid the situation from happening again and the cashflow should go back to normal in all entities involved, according to Arroyo.

"All the institutions that belong to the social welfare network will be priority, as their work is essential for thousands of Costa Ricans who rely on the aids to meet their basic needs.

Helio Fallas, current finance minister and vice president, explained the situation is also a consequence from the lack of support coming from the Legislative Assembly, which has been discussing a new fiscal bill for years without reaching an agreement.

"The absence of actions in the Legislative Assembly also makes part part of the problem," he said. "Due to the lack of fiscal reform, the country starts to face a liquidity problems that has been announced well in advance."

According to data from the Casa Presidencial, the first half of the year closed with a fiscal deficit equivalent to 2.4 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, a figure slightly higher than that of 2016 during the same time period. Back then, the fiscal deficit accounted for 2.2 percent of GDP.

The fiscal reform is one of the unaccomplished goals of the Luis Guillermo Solís administration. It was also widely discussed during the prior Laura Chinchilla government, however no agreement was reached at the time either. The bill has been unpopular and it is not likely to be approved in the coming month, as 2017 is an electoral year.


ICE continues work on Zona Industrial


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica’s electricity institute and the Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz are continuing the work on a 2.5 underground network that is supposed to increase the reliability of electric service for those businesses in the Zona Industrial de Belén.

According to a statement by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the project is divided into three phases with the Compañía’s investment totaling about 1.618 million colones. The underground network will start at the Belén substation in front of the Intel building and will move south towards Plásticos Modernos and continue east along the north side of the Bridgestone building. From there, the institute said that the electrical network will arrive at the British American Tobacco building enroute toward the Zona Franca América.

The work includes excavating and constructing seven isolator chambers and placing 21 electrical registration boxes. In addition, two circuits will be added and the existing one expanded, ICE said. “We plan that the works will be completed and in operation by the first quarter of 2018,” said Mariano Fallas, the engineer in charge of the construction project.

This project has been an ongoing one. Since April, ICE began improving the substation at Belén.

The clients of the Zona Franca are located within three cantons of Heredia province. These include: Belén, Flores and Heredia Centro.


Our reader's opinion
Fair warning: Most Costa Rican foods are genetically-modified

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We have been paying the university of Costa Rica to do GMO tests of corn and corn products available in Costa Rica for us for a few years now. Not good news. All corn products for human consumption and all animal feed samples purchased have tested positive for GMO's.

Based on my experience, I would expect almost all products with corn or soy ingredients sold in Costa Rica for human consumption to test positive. I would also expect that all dairy farmers and most chicken farmers are feeding their animals large amounts of GMO soy and corn. This includes the producers of all the eggs and dairy products that are sold at alleged organic ferias and organic mercaditos in Costa Rica as natural or organic.

Its all what we call in the states just "commercial" or "conventional" food. I believe that there are many legitimate organic fruit and vegetable growers in Costa Rica but we don't know of anyone in Costa Rica besides ourselves that are giving their chickens, goats or dairy cows organic non-GMO corn and beans. We have had organic corn available for sale here for three years now in Costa Rica with no takers from the livestock farming community.

The only way we can support a new organic corn/bean grower in Costa Rica that is just coming into production right now is for us to increase our own purchases of corn and beans by increasing our own chicken flock and egg production at this point. So, I hope your readers who are organic consumers realize that only they can change this. Until consumers here start to educate themselves about health and organics and start to demand the real thing they will continue to get inferior GMO food.

Pura Vida. 



Albert Lusk,
Owner of Finca de Don Alberts
Co-Founder of Don Gerardo's
San Isidro, Heredia


Our reader's opinion
Solar power and Río San Juan for solving Guanacaste's water shortage

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I have an alternative proposal that will solve several issues, and supply the necessary water to Liberia. I think a canal or aqueduct is a waste of water due to evaporation. Thus a pipeline with solar powered pumping stations would likely be both more efficient, require a smaller footprint in the land, and also be less visible.

As Nicaragua has repeatedly made incursions across the Río San Juan showing little respect for the sovereignty of Costa Rica’s borders, I also propose that a small canal be dug into the Río San Juan. This would respect Nicaragua’s borders and create the first of the solar-powered pumping stations taking suction to remove water from the Río San Juan.

It would require about 85 miles of pipe, across a mostly flat area of Costa Rica. It would have to cross mountains at about 2,500 feet above the point of initial pump suction. A reservoir could be created in these mountains, and the majority of Guanacaste could have water supplied by gravity, no pumps necessary on the 3,000 foot downhill side.

An added benefit would be the reservoir, stocked with fish could be another tourist attraction for the area.

Also if the Costa Rican legislature would entertain this possibility, Nicaragua may complain to the United Nations and the Hague, but what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.

Glenn Klima
Golfito


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U.S. Tax
Published || Monday Edition, July 31, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 150
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SINAC closes clandestine trails around the Arenal nature preserve
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación closed three clandestine touristic trails inside the nature preserve of Volcan Arenal, specifically around Cerro Chato.

According to the Sistema, the operation took place last Thursday and it was coordinated by Wilson Barrantes, the director of the Arenal Huetar Norte conservation area. He said the place is solely for the preservation of natural resources and access is prohibited for tourists.

The Sistema said foreigners have entereds into the restricted areas to visit the crater and the lagoon of the Cerro Chato volcano and that workers have repeatedly asked them to withdraw.

There are at least three companies targeted by the Sistema that have been identified to be offering the tours, explained Barrantes.

"We have already sent warnings to the companies and also some tour guides who offer these walks, however, many just ignore it and continue their activity,” said Barrantes. 

“We have been able to gather evidence and we are evaluating taking legal actions with the help of the Attorney General."

The trails are rudimentary, in the form of threshes within the primary forest. SINAC said that these are highly dangerous to people. The trails do not have basic services nor security for tourists.

Cerro Chato makeshift trail
SINAC photo     
One of the tours found by agents around Cerro Chato.

The protection of the Cerro Chato and Arenal volcanoes is established in the national parks service Law, the organic law of the environment, the forestry law and the public-use regulation of the Volcán Arenal Parque Nacional.

Those regulations clearly state the prohibition to carry out activities of a commercial nature, hiking, tourist visitation and access to lands that are considered the natural heritage sites of the country and are meant to protect the biological biodiversity.

According to a statement sent by the Sistema back in February, people can report the illegal trespassing directly to the police or by calling the 911 lines.



Free piano performances to be held at UCR's music school Tuesday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On stage, a pianist can play the classical pieces of Chopin or Beethoven or they can play jazz and contemporary music. A common stereotype in the music world is that a pianist can only play one type well instead of both.

“There is a lot of prejudice that if someone plays classical music, then he cannot play jazz. That they are two different worlds and one is good in one genre rather than both,” said Manuel Matarrita, a professor at the music school of the Universidad de Costa Rica. “But it is not really that way.”

The Universidad de Costa Rica seeks to challenge that notion in the III Encuentro de Pianistas beginning this Tuesday.

Since its first installment, the Encuentro has sought new approaches to the piano beyond classical music, the university said. This year, jazz and film music are the main themes for the three-day series.

In addition to the lectures and exchanges, there will be recitals with the first beginning Tuesday at noon with the “Piano Cinematográfico” by Manuel Matarrita. The next day will have “The Soundtrack Variations” by Italian musician Mario Mariani at 6 p.m.

A jazz show will also be performed by U.S. musician from Louisiana State University, William Delony on Aug. 3 at 7 p.m., the university said. All concerts are free and held in the Sala Cullell, which is on the first floor of the university’s Escuela de Artes Musicales event.

The piano requires an effort and body technique that demands a good physical condition on the part of the musicians, organizers said.

According to Matarrita, it is not a question of comparing musical training with athletes in sports but generating awareness towards the physical rigors of the musician who has to warm-up, be precise and expose themselves to risk and work all the time sitting.

William Delony
Universidad de Costa Rica photo    
William Delony of LSU poses with the piano.

“To work in this area, the activity will include this year Rubia Santos, a Brazilian instrumentalist certified in the teaching of Feldenkrais, a body efficiency technique that is updating the training and professional development of professional people in music,” the university said in a statement. The talk is open to the public and will be held on Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. More information can be gathered from the event’s Facebook page.


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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

Published || Monday Edition, July 31, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 150
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Central America's largest forests disappearing due to human activity
By the Wildlife Conservation Society press staff

Central America’s largest remaining forests are disappearing at a precipitous rate due to illegal cattle ranching, oil palm plantations, and other human-related activities, all of which are putting local communities and the region’s wildlife species at high risk.

A new comprehensive study by the Wildlife Conservation Society titled the “Human Footprint and Cow’s Hoofprint Analysis” was presented this month for validation and analysis by indigenous groups, protected area agencies, and civil society organizations from nine countries. This spurred the development of a joint commitment known as “The Petén Declaration.” Signed by 25 of the attending organizations, the declaration recognizes the causes of forest loss and commits to concrete actions to address them.

One of the most alarming discoveries made by the study’s research team is that the three largest remaining forest blocks in Central America have been reduced in size by more than 23 percent in the past 15 years.

The study was conducted by the society in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Organization of American States to understand and protect Mesoamerica’s last great forests. Data for the analysis was collected using satellite imagery, census data on people, cattle and agriculture, publications, interviews, and via a megaflyover expedition: an ambitious plane-based survey across the region’s largest forests.

“The disappearance of huge swaths of forests over such a short time period has grave implications for the indigenous peoples in the region and the natural resources on which they depend,” said Victor Hugo Ramos, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for the society’s Mesoamerica program.

The rate of deforestation in Central America also threatens the survival of iconic species including jaguars, tapirs, and scarlet macaws. The white-lipped peccary, an important keystone species for the forests of Central America, is so threatened it may soon become extinct in the region.

Traveling in large herds in search of fruit and other food in large forest tracts, white-lipped peccaries serve as both an indicator of forest health and connectivity and a crucial prey species for jaguars. The white-lipped peccary has been extirpated from 87 percent of its historical range in Mesoamerica, and is now only found in a few of the region’s largest remaining forests.

Large-scale illegal cattle ranching, much of it taking place within protected areas and indigenous territories, has been determined to be the principal cause of deforestation. This illegal activity is sometimes connected to drug trafficking and money laundering.

Deforestation
Wildlife Conservation Society photo    
Illegal ranching is claiming a lot of tropical forests.

“We, the indigenous people, are the guardians of the Mesoamerican biospheres who have cared for and protected them for thousands of years,” said Taymond Robins of the Nacion Mayangna, an indigenous nation managing 1 million hectares in Nicaragua.

“We will continue to fight against the injustice of invasion of indigenous lands and territories by colonists, who are decimating natural resources for cattle ranching, timber extraction, and exploration and exploitation of resources for companies and projects that greatly affect the life cycle of biodiversity in Mesoamerica.”

The expansion of oil palm plantations has also contributed to deforestation in the region by displacing people and cattle into protected areas. The areas under the greatest threat include the Moskitia region within Honduras and Nicaragua and the Maya Forest landscape in Guatemala, México, and Belize.

“Considering the threats in our territory, we face great challenges in the governance and protection of natural resources,” said Angel Matute, deputy director of the Honduran park service, Instituto Nacional de Conservaciòn y Desarrollo Forestal, Areas Protegidas y Vida Silvestre.

“ICF is committed to working hand in hand with indigenous peoples in recognition of their ancestral rights for the management and conservation of the Honduran Moskitia.”

The Petén Declaration includes a commitment to five concrete actions to recover the region’s forests:

1) supporting local forests and indigenous communities to obtain land management 2) strengthening the conservation of protected areas 3) supporting the prosecution of environmental crimes 4) focusing on illegal livestock as the main driver of deforestation and 5) protecting environmental champions who risk their lives to protect Mesoamerica’s largest forests.



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Dark
Side of Pura Vida

A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page


Salsa Lizano
Published || Monday Edition, July 31, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 150
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Protest
mural
Voice of America photo         
Graffiti calling for the release of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Violence and death mark
the voting in Venezuela

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Death, protests, and violence overshadowed voting in Venezuela Sunday for an unpopular measure to elect a 545-member constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution.

At least nine deaths have been reported since Friday. They include 39-year-old lawyer Jose Felix Pineda, a candidate for the constitutional assembly, who was shot in his home Saturday night.

On Sunday, four motorcycle policemen were hurt when someone threw an explosive at their convoy in Caracas.

Protesters both for and against the assembly battled each other across Venezuela with the opposition blocking roads and police reacting with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said anyone defying a ban on protests during the historic vote risks up to 10 years in prison.

The opposition called for an election boycott, saying the vote is rigged.

Maduro cast the first ballot Sunday, calling it the first vote for peace, the first vote for the sovereignty and independence of Venezuela. The president urged the international community to accept the election.

"We've stoically withstood the terrorist, criminal violence. Hopefully the world will respectfully extend its arms toward our country," he said.

Details on what is likely to be included in a new constitution are unclear. Maduro has said it is the only way to pull Venezuela out of its severe economic and social crisis and stop the seemingly endless violence.

Critics assert that only Maduro supporters are candidates, including first lady Cilia Fores, and the first vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello.

The opposition says the assembly aims to dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and turn Venezuela into a socialist dictatorship. Maduro opponents are demanding early presidential elections.

Polls shows more than 70 percent of Venezuelans oppose the assembly.

The Trump administration has already enforced economic sanctions on a number of high-ranking members of Maduro's administration. A number of top U.S. lawmakers have expressed their support for the citizens of Venezuela.


Putin tells U.S. diplomats
to leave Russia by Sept. 1


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Kremlin vowed Sunday to retaliate against the United States for approving new sanctions against Russia for its meddling in last year's presidential election to help President Donald Trump win the White House.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told ABC News' "This Week"

Russian President Vladimir Putin says 755 U.S. diplomats in the country must leave in retaliation for new sanctions Washington is imposing on Moscow for its meddling in the 2016 election to help President Donald Trump win the White House.

Putin told a Russian television network, "More than a thousand people were working and are still working" at the U.S. embassy and consulates, and "755 people must stop their activities in Russia."

The Russian leader said Moscow could take additional retaliatory steps against the United States following overwhelming congressional approval of new sanctions against Russia.

Moscow said the expulsion of hundreds of U.S. envoys by September 1 would leave both of the countries with the same number of diplomats in the two countries, 455.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow has a very rich toolbox at our disposal. It would be ridiculous on my part to start speculating on what may or may not happen. But I can assure you that different options are on the table and consideration is being given to all sorts of things.

The White House says Trump will sign the legislation imposing the new sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Ryabkov said the U.S. Senate's 98-2 vote for the sanctions was the last drop on what he described as a completely weird and unacceptable piece of legislation.

Obama closed two Russian compounds in the United States and expelled 35 diplomats in late December, less than a month before leaving office. But Moscow did not retaliate in kind until last week, when it shut two U.S. facilities in Russia and ordered the American diplomats out of the country by Sept. 1.

Political analysts in the United States had thought Trump, in an attempt to ease tensions with Putin, might overturn the Obama sanctions when he assumed power, but he did not.

Ryabkov told ABC, “If the U.S. side decides to move further towards further deterioration, we will answer, we will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate. But my whole point is don't do this, it is to the detriment of the interests of the U.S.”


Silicon Valley’s café displays
Venezuelan culture and food


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Silicon Valley is the tech industry’s epicenter, but what is the epicenter of Silicon Valley?

It might just be Coupa Café in downtown Palo Alto, Calif.

For the tech community, this café is a meeting place of the who’s who of Silicon Valley, where the likes of the late Steve Jobs of Apple, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google co-founder Sergey Brin have all been spotted. Up-and-coming startup founders are able to buy their lattes with the digital currency Bitcoin before their pitch sessions with leading industry venture capitalists.

The café is so well known among techies that a cup with the Coupa logo was featured as a prop in the 2010 film “The Social Network.”

While Silicon Valley is famous for companies such as Facebook, Twitter and other billion-dollar empires built in cyberspace, some folks in the valley still believe real-world human connections can make a difference.

Just from frequenting the café, Sokol says, he became an adviser to a health care related startup and a new venture capitalist fund. Both came about when other patrons at the café overheard conversations he was having, he said.

The Venezuelan-born Jean Paul Coupal founded the café with his mother and sister in 2004 with the hopes of bringing a bit of his homeland to Silicon Valley: Venezuelan coffee, crepes and Venezuelan arepas. The family puts its touch on all aspects of the business. Coupal’s sister and mother personally painted each of the eight cafés.

While the beautifully decorated walls and rich cuisine may be what initially attracted the tech community, the café’s tech focus has kept it in the vanguard of this café-saturated region.

In 2013, Coupa Cafe began accepting Bitcoins, a digital payment system, allowing customers to pay for their lattes and arepas with the currency.

And there’s another perk: The café allows patrons to stay all day, which makes it attractive for entrepreneurs who are in the pre-office-space stage.

“A lot of the startups in the area come and they like to work at Coupa, coding all day,” Coupal said. “We’ve seen a lot of products that got developed at Coupa.”

With Stanford and other colleges nearby, the possibility of a life-changing chance encounter is not lost on local students interested in tech.

Now, there are eight Coupa Cafe locations. The original on Ramona Street is in a building from the 1930s.


Trump ponders Afghanistan,
and profit from minerals


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

What does a president who campaigned on an "America First" foreign policy do with the longest war in U.S. history? That is the dilemma for Donald Trump as the White House conducts a policy review of Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have fought for nearly 16 years.

With Trump skeptical of committing more troops to what some see as an unwinnable war, one idea has come to the forefront: using Western companies to extract Afghanistan's vast, untapped mineral deposits.

How much is there? A 2010 U.S. study estimated more than $1 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits, but Afghanistan's violence, corruption and poor infrastructure would make mining extremely difficult.

That's part of the reason why, although U.S. officials have discussed using Afghanistan's mineral wealth to bolster the government and economy, the plan has not gone anywhere.

There are also concerns about whether such a move would feed into the Taliban narrative that the U.S. military is only in Afghanistan because it wants to plunder the country's natural resources.

Still, Trump appears to be interested in using Afghanistan's minerals as a selling point for continued U.S. military engagement. The idea is consistent with Trump's long-standing practice of linking U.S. military intervention to the exploitation of natural resources.

Trump has lamented for years that the U.S. did not keep the oil when it invaded Iraq in 2003. After Islamic State seized oil fields in Iraq and Syria, Trump felt his views were vindicated, and his take the oil mantra eventually became a standard part of his presidential campaign speeches.

The rhetoric continued during his early days in office. In a speech to CIA employees a day after becoming president, Trump spoke positively of the phrase to the victor belong the spoils.

It's not clear how to reconcile those comments with Trump's at times heated criticism of costly U.S. wars overseas, or his opposition at times to the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan.

More recently, Trump has been said to be skeptical of a proposal by U.S. military generals to boost the number of troops in Afghanistan in a bid to regain Taliban territory.

Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to Trump for national security issues, declined to comment on whether the president was looking into mineral extraction in Afghanistan.

When asked more broadly whether the Trump administration intended to make foreign policy decisions based at least in part on the exploitation of natural resources, Gorka said that was a gross oversimplification.

If Trump did decide to prioritize the extraction of Afghanistan's minerals, the plan would face a dizzying number of challenges, including ongoing violence, regional competition from countries like Russia and China, and government corruption.

While Afghanistan has cleaned up its governance in recent years, it still ranks among the 10 most corrupt countries in the world, according to an annual index by Transparency International.

The country also lacks the infrastructure needed to manage such massive projects, said Ahmad Shuja, a former Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch who now works at the American University of Afghanistan.

Trump himself has been fairly quiet on Afghanistan. He barely mentioned it during the campaign. Since becoming president, one of his most substantive comments on Afghanistan came this month, during a luncheon with U.S. service members who had fought in the country.


U.S. fighter jets
U.S. Air Force courtesy photo       
U.S. fighters soar over Korean peninsula.

U.S. allies fly fighters
over Korean peninsula

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Air Force flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean Peninsula Saturday, accompanied by South Korean and Japanese jet fighters.

The U.S. Pacific Command said the mission was in direct response to North Korea’s escalatory launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles July 3 and July 28.

The 10-hour joint forces mission began at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Two Japanese F-2 fighter jets in Japanese airspace joined U.S. Air Force bomber jets. The U.S. bombers then flew over the Korean Peninsula and were accompanied by four South Korea fighter jets. The U.S. bombers also did a low-pass over South Korea’s Osan Air Base, before returning to Guam.

Also Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump again criticized China for failing to stop North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Following Friday's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed west of Japan, the U.S. president singled out China for blame on Saturday evening, saying the country could easily solve this problem.

North Korea's missile launch Friday was its second this month. Even though the missile landed west of Japan, experts said it would be powerful enough to reach much of the U.S. mainland. North Korea's official news agency said leader Kim Jong Un boasted that the latest test was "meant to send a grave warning to the U.S."

China condemned the launch, while Japan, South Korea and the U.S. vowed to work together on a new Security Council measure aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Word of Friday's missile launch came as a bill approved by Congress calling for tougher sanctions on North Korea, as well as Iran and Russia, landed on Trump's desk.
 

U.S. government proposes
cutting nicotine in cigarettes


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. government is proposing cutting the nicotine level in cigarettes for the first time in its history.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday it has directed the agency’s staff to develop new regulations to make cigarettes less addictive. Tobacco stocks fell Friday following the news.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency plans to explore ways to limit the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.

Along with reducing nicotine, the FDA plans to ease the path of entry for less-harmful nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes. The agency said it will give e-cigarette makers four more years to comply with FDA oversight of their products, giving them more time on the market without regulation.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive, but they do not contain tar or many of the other substances in traditional cigarettes, which make them deadly. Battery-powered e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor.

"Nicotine itself is not responsible for the cancer, the lung disease and heart disease that kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year," Gottlieb said. "It's the other chemical compounds in tobacco and in the smoke created by setting tobacco on fire that directly cause illness and death."

However, Gottlieb said he was concerned that e-cigarette makers are using kid-appealing flavors, which he said the FDA would consider regulating.

Anti-smoking activists hailed the announcement and said that reducing the level of nicotine in traditional cigarettes could make it easier for people to switch to e-cigarettes or less harmful tobacco products.

However, some activists say the amount of nicotine in cigarettes needs to be reduced dramatically, and say if nicotine is only reduced a small amount it will just encourage smokers to use more cigarettes.

Altria Group, which sells Marlboro and other cigarettes in the United States, said it would comply with all FDA rules, but said in a statement Friday that any new rules should be based on evidence and not lead to unintended consequences.

While the new policies could be bad business for cigarette companies, Altria and other groups, like Philip Morris International, have been spending billions of dollars to make to products that they say have less health risks such as e-cigarettes.

The FDA has had the power to regulate nicotine levels since 2009 but has not yet done so.

The U.S. government says tobacco use causes more than 480,000 deaths annually, and is the leading cause of preventable heart disease.


British government strips
IS fighters of citizenship


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Their home countries don’t want them back. Hundreds of foreign fighters who enlisted with Islamic State to fight in Syria and Iraq are being stripped of their citizenship and blocked from returning by Western governments.

Returning fighters are seen as a grim threat, the deadly legacy of a murderous movement being defeated and rolled back on the battlefield. Western intelligence officials say they are already over-stretched trying to monitor tens of thousands of suspected extremists who never left their home countries.

British officials say they have stripped more than 100 British fighters and brides of their citizenship, preventing them re-entering the country legally, according to British news reports. All those who have lost British citizenship are dual nationals. Under international law, governments can’t revoke someone’s citizenship if it would render them stateless.

According to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper, 152 Islamic State recruits have been stripped of British citizenship since 2016, 30 since March.

Of the estimated 850 Britons who joined IS or al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria, 15 percent are thought to have been killed. A handful of returnees have been jailed, but officials say many cannot be prosecuted for lack of evidence. Some are thought to have become disillusioned with jihadism, but many are thought to pose a significant terror risk.

British authorities admitted 23,000 radical Islamists had been considered a person of interest to the security services at any one time, more than six times the previous figures made public by the government.

Of those, 3,000 are considered serious threats, including about 400 people who have returned to Britain after fighting for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Since 2015, several Western governments have moved to amend their laws to make it easier to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals involved in terrorism. Even so, European governments have faced mounting criticism that they have little in the way of comprehensive plans ready for returnees, either in keeping tabs on them or requiring them to enter rehabilitation and de-radicalization programs.


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Escazú

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú

Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant. Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning. Can build 1550 Sqm. 7 meters high 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


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 || Monday Edition, July 31, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 150
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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

Three hours in the garden transplanting

Sometimes, I just feel old. The other day, someone helped me button my sleeve when she saw I was having trouble.

Okay, it’s a little button and little things are difficult if you have arthritis, but what about the garden? My gardener is in cahoots with Metric Man to keep me from doing too much. The problem is that their definition of “too much” and my definition of “too much” are quite a bit different.

Victoria Torley
 The other day, I managed to
 sneak in three hours of
 gardening transplanting, potting,
 repotting, fertilizing, and
 generally making a mess before
 anyone stopped me.

 Then it was time to hit the pool.
 Don’t worry, I scraped most of
 the dirt off first.

I used to garden in my bathing suit and shorts in Georgia so I could just shed the shorts and jump but I can’t do that here.

The tropical sun is too fierce and even with sunscreen, I occasionally end up the color of fried chicken. Even my scalp gets sunburned. Hence my new hat.

But out of the pool and back to feeling old. Old as in your knees ache and you back hurts from too much bending. Old as when you squat down to move a potted plant and can’t get back up again. What’s an old gardener to do?

Well, first I suggest a walking stick not a cane. According to the orthopedist, a cane puts you in a slight bend and warps muscles. A nice tall walking stick is an aid that you can grasp at waist or shoulder height and with either hand or both. 

Second, I would suggest a potting bench at the same height as the kitchen counter. Get someone else to lift a big pot of soil to the bench and then do your thing with the seeds and cuttings. I have a bench in the greenhouse and it is a great help.

If the problems are really serious, get someone to build you elevated beds. Not a little raised bed with soil piled a foot high, a really solid elevated bed so the plants are at waist height or more. Three or four courses of concrete block usually do it. Punch through some drainage holes and start layering. Gravel at the bottom and your good soil on the top. Keep the bed about 3 feet wide and you can reach everything easily.

Now, about those pesky weeds that need pulling. They have invented something with wheels called a Swivel Scoot. Just sit on it and ride from one bed to the next and a contraption to kneel on with handles to help you push yourself up!

What will they think of next?


fuente del fuego
A.M. Costa Rica photo/Victoria Torley       

Plant for the Week

Amaranthus tricolor or fuente de fuego, fountain of fire in English, is an edible amaranth used in salads. It was originally from South America but is now a world-wide cultivar.  Tricolor is grown in sun and shade for its wonderful color but it is also a remarkable fixer of C4 – removing carbon from the atmosphere at an efficient rate compared to other plants.

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor. And, for more garden tips, visit HERE!



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From page 7:

Costa Rica economy to slow down, study says

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican economy is likely to slow down during the third quarter of the year, reaching an economic growth of three or four percent during the said time period, according to data released by the Instituto de Investigaciones en Ciencias Ecónomicas at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

The study shows this is a smaller figure than that of 2016, making it more complicated  to achieve a decrease in poverty and unemployment.

The economy growth has been and will be affected by the unexpected surge of the demand and availability of dollars, a phenomena that has been affecting the exchange rate since May. In this forthcoming quarter, the Instituto estimates prices will hike somewhere between 1.8 percent and 2.8 percent, which is what was projected for this year by Banco Central de Costa Rica.

So far this year, prices have increased by a percent. The research points out the higher gasoline prices account for 0.33 percent of that increase. The inflation rates also reflect an increase in regulated service fees and a sudden devaluation of the colon. In terms of interest rates, the Instituto’s figures shows the same financial pressures that caused the dollar price to rise this year are also responsible for the adjustment of the monetary policy rate from Banco Central.

That means savings in colones went from a 1.75 percent to a 4.5 percent base rate, making it more attractive for the population to keep their money in local currency. Last year, the opposite was true, since a decrease was set in place by banking authorities. Saving in colones went from 5.95 percent in January to 4.45 percent in  December, according to the Banco Central’s records.

When it comes to the fiscal situation, the institute foresees no important changes. Its figures actually show government spending growth is similar to that of income growth, both of which are at 9 percent. This reality keeps the national deficit above 5 percent of the gross domestic product

In regards to employment, the Instituto carries out an annual survey among employers.This year, it shows that the largest hiring opportunities are in the construction sector, with 44 percent of employers saying they would increase their payrolls during the third quarter of the year, while 51 percent said they would keep it the same and 5 percent will likely cut jobs.

The greater stability in employment is shown in the agricultural sector, where 83 percent of employers will not change their payrolls in the next three months, 15 percent said they will make new hires and only two percent predict layoffs.

In the commercial sector, those who plan to bring new employees are 30 percent and those who will decrease their staff account for 10 percent. The manufacturing sector predicts job cuts in nine percent of companies, while 18 percent are likely to make new hires.

In general terms, the study shows employment growth during this last quarter would be equal to 9.9 percent, the best expected result for a third quarter in the last five years.

The Instituto survey shows optimism among entrepreneurs, since up to 59 percent in the construction sector and at least 44 percent in the agricultural one expect good results.

41 percent of agricultural businesses said that their sales and production will not change in the next quarter. The same is expectation is in 29 percent of the construction sector. The least optimistic ones are those who work in the other services field, where 21 percent of them said they predict no improvement or a decrease in their production.

In regards exchange rate concerns, 53 percent of business owners believe that the exchange rate will increase in the next three months. By sector, that same expectation is shared by 63 percent of agriculture-related companies, 51.4 percent in manufacturing, 53.7 percent in construction, and 59 percent in trade.

On the contrary, 18.3 percent of businesses are expecting a drop in the dollar prices.