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August 1, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 151
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Police bust
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo     
The concern among some law enforcement is that some criminals are slipping through the cracks as refugees.
Immigration authorities concerned over refugees
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Immigration authorities show concern for the increased risk of gang members entering the country, as refugee status requests keep coming from places like El Salvador.

Figures from the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería show that in 2016 there were 1,593 refugee status requests from Central Americans. From that amount 1,436 were from Salvadorans.

As of April 2017, the Dirección reports 587 refugee status requests, out of those 493 come from Salvadorans citizens. For immigration authorities this poses a serious threat to national security.

"Many have commitments to gangs,” said Gisela Yockchen, director of the Dirección. “However,  police intelligence takes place respecting due process while applying a strategy to ensure the security of the country.

A high rejection rate of these applications occur because many of them say they are running away but during the interviews they cannot verify what they first said and their stories show inconsistencies, according to immigration authorities.

Of course, not all the refugee applicants in Costa Rica from these countries are gang members nor involved in any gang or criminal activity.

Some of their only crimes may be knowing a gang member, which is difficult considering some areas make it near impossible to not know or be proven not guilty by virtue of association.

On June 7, the Policía Municipal de San José detained two Salvadoran members of a mara, the Spanish word to describe a street gang.

SVA drug
                            confiscation
Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo    
Police are using air patrols to monitor country's borders for criminal activity.

The detained men entered the country as tourists through Peñas Blancas, the border with Nicaragua, according to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública. One of them passed the border control with no problem but when his background was double-checked in San José, police found out he had a criminal record on aggravated theft, possession of prohibited weapons and extortion.

The two Salvadorans were on a list of 33 foreigners who were deported, expelled or rejected, between May 17 to July 21 this year.

The Northern Triangle is viewed as one of the larger migrant crises facing the world today. The region, which includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, is also a hotbed of increased gang violence and a murder rate that is among the higher ones both globally and the region.

This is if one excludes the areas currently in violent civil war or in the midst of a war zone. The respective governments of these countries are increasingly overwhelmed by the gang and organized crime activity.

Data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement describes a situation where persons from this region have replaced México as being the largest points of origin for those crossing the southern border.


Former editor releases new book on Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica’s leading English language newspaper is celebrating its 16th anniversary with the publication of an illustrated ebook that contains selected classic stories.

The book goes on sale today just two weeks before the newspaper’s birthday, Aug. 15.

“These stories illustrate various aspects of life in Costa Rica, and they are much too interesting to languish in our archives,” said Jay Brodell, editor emeritus and the person who put the book together.

Brodell said he tried to reflect the wide variety of news stories that have been published from food and travel to more serious aspects of life here. A.M. Costa Rica is known for not pulling any punches in covering the news.

The title is “Costa Rica: Remarkable Tales from this Super Vacation Spot.”

The book contains contributions by staffers and interns who have worked at the newspaper. The company has tried to provide internship opportunities as part of its personnel plan.

Gabriela Vega Barrantes, the newspaper general manager, said that she would consider issuing a similar book every year as a supplement to the daily newspaper.

The book is $3.99 now online at Smashwords in all the standard ebook formats, including those for the Amazon Kindle and also for iBook.

A sample is available at the site here.






Remarkable
                            Tales

16th anniversary edition

Costa Rica: Remarkable Tales from Our Super Vacation Spot

A.M. Costa Rica celebrates its 16th anniversary with a compilation of classic news reports geared to the needs of foreigners living here and those elsewhere with personal or business interests in this vacation paradise. Each seeks to tell something new or original about the vacation and retirement mecca. 


Read a sample and purchase the book HERE!


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A.M.
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Published || Tuesday Edition, August 1, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 151
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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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9212-5/9/17

Explaining the Poder Judicial pensions

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

Once retired, 27 former workers from Poder Judicial receive $11,374 monthly pensions, according to data gathered by A.M. Costa Rica.

On a monthly basis, the payment of those pensions accounts for $367,000 taken from the pensions funds which, according to Universidad de Costa Rica, will go broke unless reforms are passed at a legislative level.

The same data shows the vast majority of former Judicial workers receive much smaller pensions. In fact, 1,197 of them get a monthly allowance between $874.50 and $2,623, accounting for 51 percent of the annual pensions budget, which currently is about $9 billion.

Statistics show that 20 percent of the retirees receive less than $1,000, 12 percent get between $4,368 and $6,161 and nine percent between $2,621 and $4,368. The data was updated by June 30.

These figures provide an insight into the judicial branch’s pensions system, which is under discussion at the Legislative Assembly to get reformed. Among the changes, lawmaker seek to change the methodology used to calculate the payments. 

Right now, judicial workers receive a pension equivalent to 100 percent of the average salary of their last 24 paychecks. Legislators plan to reduce that percentage to 60 or 70 percent of the last 240 payments.

They also seek to increase the retirement age from 62 to 65 years old. Another objective is to make workers contribute at least 40 years to have a full pension.

Right now, judicial workers should contribute to the plan for at least 35 years in order to be eligible to it later. The proposed changes have sparked protest among the unions and has caused a general strike that's been going on for almost two weeks until being called off Monday evening.

Worker's leaders demand the reforms to be made with their participation or else the judicial services will continue at a decreased capacity.

However, the legislators have refused to take into consideration the draft proposed by the unions and have said several times they will use only technical information to pursue the changes.


San Juan de Dios hosting blood drive


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hospital San Juan de Dios will open its doors for interested blood donors this Wednesday and also on August 15.

Those interested in joining the group of volunteer blood donors should come between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. both days on the second floor of the Joissar building. It is located in front of the entrance to emergency services at the hospital along the Paseo Colón in San José.

To donate blood, one needs to be between 18 and 60 years old, weigh more than 100 pounds, eat a light breakfast without dairy products and carry a cédula de identidad or cédula de residencia, according to a statement from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Dr. Sebastián Molina, the director of the Banco Nacional de Sangre, said that the goal is to get 200 units of blood daily.

That goal is sometimes not met, which greatly concerns families of patients in need, Dr. Molina said. Thanks to the process of blood fragmentation, each donor benefits about three or four patients. Molina explained that blood fragmentation involves separating the blood into its four parts: platelets, red blood cells, plasma and cryoprecipitates. The latter is used for coagulation for patients with severe bleeding, the Caja said.

Aside from these days, the Banco Nacional de Sangre serves donors Monday thru Thursday from 7 a.m. to 3:20 p.m., Fridays until 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Due to the bank going mobile, it will not be open during the days it is at Hospital San Juan de Dios.


Joint program seeks to spark interest
in the performing arts among students


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Once upon a time, there was a program that seeks to create new audiences for performing arts. That program now has already reached at least 54,000 students by staging 12 shows in the last 12 months.

The program is developed between the Ministerio de Educación Pública and the Teatro Nacional and relies on theater, dance and general performance shows based on literature works most high schools students should read as part of their studies. Some of the plays staged so far are “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett and “A Midsummer's Night Dream” by William Shakespeare.

Prices for the shows vary from zero to 3,500 colones, depending of the socioeconomic status of the schools, according to Kattia Grosser, director of the Vida Estudiantil department at Ministerio de Cultura.

According to Fred Herrera, director of the Teatro Nacional, the initiative has been a success, since it will not only create new audiences but better citizens who will demand quality plays and enjoy the great productions of this country, as he called them.

“If we want to protect the theater, we will have a young audience who will make sure it keeps going,” added Herrera.

The visit includes a tour around the building, which this year celebrates its 120th anniversary. It laso included  a story book that expands students' knowledge about the plays. The shows scheduled for the second half of this year will resume on August 4 with a play about the life and times of Anne Frank. 

"Some kids and teenagers discover an artistic vocation and the most important thing is that they come out of the shows full of question, and eager to return, " said Ms. Grosser.


Biomass in hand
Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo            
This pile of wood waste could be the fuel for the future.

Biomass could be fuel for the future

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dried unused vegetables, tree branches and wood production waste. All of them sources  of electricity ready to expand in the country thanks to the studies carried out by the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica.

The institute itself already powers some of its most electrically-demanding machines by using this technology that is based on biomass.

By compacting and then burning wood and other forest waste at a 700 degree Celsius temperature, the material turns into a gas which can be, in turn, used to power engines equipped with electricity generators. Another possibility is to plant specific trees that produce high quantities of gas for the sole purpose of burning them. Teka and Eucalyptus are specially used for this kind of technology.

In the latter case, the specific plantations may provide new wood every 12 months, so it would not affect protected areas or reservations, according to a statement sent by the Instituto. In fact, the feasibility studies being carried out consider energy based on forest could create jobs and improve the economic conditions of agricultural producers.

Generating power this way also provides an extra advantage: the raw materials can be stored. In that sense, it is more versatile than solar and wind options, said Dagoberto Arias, one of the scientists involved in the project.

“Any industry where the use of boilers is required may profit from this emerging idea,” Arias added.

According to data from Centro Nacional de Energía, only 1.7 percent of all energy produced in the country come from biomass-related sources.

According to the Plan Nacional de Expansión de la Generación Electrica, By 2035, Biomass based power could account for the generation of up to 445 megawatts.


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 || Tuesday Edition, August 1, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 151
Calendar
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Contemporary dance festival hosting series of unique performances
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For the first time at the opening of the Festival Nacional de Danza Contemporánea, the audience will see a stage filled with dancers who all have disabilities.

They are called the Girandança, a Brazilian group that often does interpretative performances on disabled persons and their lives. The group’s show, “Prohibido Elefantes,” will kick off the contemporary dance festival this Friday at 8 p.m. in the Teatro Popular Melico Salazar.

This represents the fifteenth installment of the festival that will offer a wide array of performances from this Friday on to August 13, according to a statement from the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

Tickets will be priced at 5,000 colones with students and seniors receiving half off upon presenting their respective identification cards at the box office.

The cultural ministry said that if three tickets are bought for a different show, then the fourth one will be free.

Marielos Fonseca, the director of the theater, said that, aside from the Brazilian group, there will also be three other international dance groups joining them on stage.

These include: Giselle Rodrigues and Édi Oliveira from Brazil, Dosson arte en Movimiento from Colombia and Cuatro x Cuatro from México. That, coupled with the Costa Rican performers, brings the total number of groups to 17, organizers said.

According to the culture ministry, the inaugural show on Friday is only for persons 18 years old and over. Some of the performances will also be held at the Teatro de la Danza inside the Centro Nacional de la Cultura in San José. Age restrictions will also apply to some of the performances, organizers said.

“A show that treats the gaze as a way of access, gateway to meaning and exit,” organizers said when describing the show.

Festival dance
performers
Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo     
Performers from theater groups will show off their sets.

“The way in which we perceive ‘reality’ is the result of the dialogue we establish with this: our gaze is constituted by reality, just as reality is constituted by our gaze and the construction of the sense transits in two directions.”

Meanwhile, the closing show will be August 11 at 8 p.m. at the Teatro de la Danza. Two performances will be held open to all the public: “Champan Carusso” and “Mentira única.” These shows will also be held on August 12 at 8 p.m. and August 13 at 6 p.m.

The latter performance deals in black comedy and the use of irony by a group of dancers from the Compañía Nacional de Danza. The Carusso performance pays homage to a celebrated teacher as a “contemporary homage to the classical principles that are developed as one of the bases of everything that comprises the profession of scenic art,” the ministry said.

Readers can visit the culture ministry’s Facebook page or website for more information about the show times and descriptions. Tickets are purchased by calling the Teatro Popular Melico Salazar or by visiting the box office.


Study of ancient civilizations often distorted by artifacts left behind
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The study of ancient civilizations is distorted by the type of artifacts that were left behind.

Large stone pyramids and similar structures draw the most attention. In places like Costa Rica where most of the ancient construction was of wood little is left to study.

Even in Costa Rica the unusual stone balls in the Diquís region along the Pacific coast dominate the interests and the museum budgets.

Trying to understand a society by probing its garbage is difficult at best even when the long-gone residents left written material. There is none of that in Costa Rica, and oral traditions from modern native communities are not widely studied.

But a few academics saw clues that pre-Columbian people who lived in Guanacaste, called the Chorotega, are linguistically related to natives who lived in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador. The most authoritative academic publication is more than 130 years old.

At the very least, the movement of these Oto-Manguean language speakers show the extensive movements that took place before the arrival of the Spanish. One academic reported that the culture lived in the Valley of México, perhaps the region of Cholula, and was forced south by warfare.

The idea of extensive migrations like this runs counter to the popular view of sedentary native communities, reinforced today by specific native reserves.

Yet the pre-history of Costa Rica shows movement south into what is now the country on the Pacific coast and movement north into what is now the province of Limón on the Caribbean coast. Archaeologists make these conclusions based on pottery styles as well as languages.

What is well known is that the residents of the Costa Rica community of Guaitil still produce ceramics and other pottery that in ancient times were supplied to the Mayan city-states and also to the later Aztecs in what is now Mexico City.

But could pre-Columbian trade routes be much longer than the history books say? That is a question being raised in the U.S. state of Georgia where an architect says he has found evidence of Mayan settlements. Naturally, his claim has been met with strong opposition from the established archaeological community.

The architect is Richard Thornton, a Creek Indian who also has extensive training in Central American pre-Columbian structures. He lives in the North Georgia area and has made extensive treks through the national forest wildernesses there.

He says that two sites, Track Rock Gap and Kenimer, show construction similar to those of the Maya and that there are oral histories and linguistic similarities between the two cultures. He said he believes that Creek Indians are descendants of the Maya and that is part of the culture’s oral tradition. He also sees some pottery similarities.

Maya mask
Science Daily photo     
Maya funeral mask in distinctive blue color.

The great Mayan city-states went into seep decline by 900 A.D., so Thornton is trying to show what happened more than 1,100 years ago.

His idea also was featured on the History Channel’s “America Unearthed.” The U.S. Forest Service staffers in charge of the  Chattahoochee National Forest denied the show’s host,  Scott Wolter, permission to visit and photograph the sites. He did do a flyover with radar and basically came up with the same contours that Thornton had described.

Wolter also visited the ruins on the Mayan city-state of  Palenque where he took samples of the blue paint the residents used there before 800 A.D. He told the television audience that a research lab matched the blue clay-based paint in Mexico with clay found in deposits in north Georgia.

This is the same blue from palygorskite the Mayans used to paint their sacrificial victims. There do not seem to have been any further independent testing by the Georgia archaeological establishment. Despite being in remote northern Georgia, the site locations are not far from the Savanah River, which empties into the Atlantic.

The idea of distance trade by the Mexican cultures is not far-fetched. Christopher Columbus’s younger brother,  Bartolomé, reported that the admiral took as captives a Mayan trader vessel off the coast of Honduras. That was during the fourth and last voyage by Columbus is 1502.

The Mayan trading vessel was reported to be as long as the one used by the Spanish. There also is a tradition of mound-building all over the United States, and some academics have suggested that mounds like the ones in Cahokie, Illinois, near St. Louis were religious structures modeled after the ones in Mexico.

There also are a few Mexican pieces of ceramic on display at Mesa Verde, the location of the famous cliff dwellings attesting to lengthy ancient trade routes.



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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page

Published || Tuesday Edition, August 1, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 151
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New sea snake subspecies discovered in Costa Rica's Golfo Dulce
By the Pensoft Publishers press staff

Carrying its petite frame and all-yellow skin, the recently scrutinized sea snake populations from Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica, already seem different enough to be characterized as a new subspecies.

However, their most extraordinary trait is only exposed at night when the serpents opportunistically feed on small fish by hanging upside down from the water surface, assuming a peculiar sinusoidal ambush posture.

The new yellow sea snake subspecies, Hydrophis platurus xanthos, is described by Brooke Bessesen of the Phoenix Zoo and Gary Galbreath of Northwestern University and The Field Museum of Natural History, in the open access journal “ZooKeys.”

Unlike its related species, the yellow-bellied sea snake, Hydrophis platurus, the yellow sea snake subspecies lives in a significantly more hostile environment. The waters in the gulf are warmer, often turbulent, and the dissolved oxygen in them occasionally drops to extremely low levels. The two snakes’ territories are separated by some 22 kilometers.

Likely as a result, the new reptile has evolved to hunt at night, while its lighter coloration plays a role in thermoregulation.

Given the list of well-defined distinct traits, the new subspecies could eventually turn out to be a new species instead. As for the moment, however, the authors remain cautious until additional data are available.

More importantly, the scientists call for conservation measures to be applied to the new serpent’s habitat. With its very restricted geographic range of about 320 kilometers squared located in a currently unprotected area, the yellow sea snake is at a serious risk of extinction.

Collectors have already been reported to remove specimens from the sea.
Newly discovered sea snake
Brooke Bessesen photo      
Ambush posture of the snake. It floats at the sea surface at night with its head pointing downwards and mouth agape.

 Additionally, the reptiles are already living at the upper edge of the species’ temperature tolerance, which makes them particularly susceptible to climate change.

“Hopefully this globally unique population can continue to offer both scientists and conservation-conscious tourists a worthy subject of observation and study,” the authors said.

More importantly, the scientists call for conservation measures to be applied to the new serpent’s habitat. With its very restricted geographic range of about 320 kilometers squared located in a currently unprotected area, the yellow sea snake is at a serious risk of extinction.

Collectors have already been reported to remove specimens from the sea. Additionally, the reptiles are already living at the upper edge of the species’ temperature tolerance, which makes them particularly susceptible to climate change.

“Hopefully this globally unique population can continue to offer both scientists and conservation-conscious tourists a worthy subject of observation and study,” the authors said.


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U.S. Income Tax Services (paid category)


Tax time
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Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
Real estate for rent
Business
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Real estate rentals (paid category)

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Page 6 is HERE!     The sports page is HERE!
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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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page

Published || Tuesday Edition, August 1, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 151
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
Perú calls regional meeting
after Venezuela's recent vote


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Perú’s government is organizing a meeting of Latin American foreign ministers on what it calls Venezuela’s illegitimate vote Sunday approving a new government body charged with rewriting the country’s constitution.

The meeting, planned for August 8 in Lima, represents some of the international concern expressed Monday about the approval of a National Constituent Assembly. Its 545 members all support socialist President Nicolas Maduro and theoretically could supplant the opposition-led legislature, the National Assembly.

On Monday, the European Union joined Colombia, the United States, Mexico, Spain and at least seven other countries in saying they would not recognize the Constituent Assembly.

That kind of assembly, elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances, cannot be part of the solution to Venezuela’s crisis, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said Monday in Brussels. She said he vote has increased division and will further de-legitimize Venezuela’s democratically elected institutions.

The EU’s foreign policy leader, Federica Mogherini, is overseeing a joint response from the 28-member bloc, Andreeva said.

Sunday’s election marked the bloodiest day in four months of anti-government protests, with at least 10 people killed in clashes around the country More than 110 have died since protests began in early April.

Maduro proclaimed the election Sunday was a resounding success. "The people have delivered the constitutional assembly," he said.

Venezuela's National Electoral Council said more than 8 million people, representing more than 41 percent of eligible voters, went to the polls Sunday to cast their ballots. The opposition in the South American country said the unpopular measure would result in a socialist dictatorship and had called on Venezuelans to boycott the vote. Dozens of polling places in Caracas, the capital, were empty.

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 were candidates, including first lady Cilia Flores, and the first vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello.

The opposition contends the 545-member constituent assembly would dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and turn Venezuela into a socialist dictatorship. Maduro opponents are demanding early presidential elections.

The drop in global energy prices together with political corruption has destroyed oil-rich Venezuela's economy.

Gasoline, medicine, and such basic staples as cooking oil, flour, and sugar are scarce. Many Venezuelans cross into neighboring Colombia and Brazil to buy food.


U.S. sanctions Maduro
after illegitimate vote


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro after what it calls an illegitimate election of an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

All of Maduro's assets in the United States are frozen and Americans are forbidden from doing any business with him.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the sanctions Monday, calling Maduro a dictator who ignores the will of the Venezuelan people.

"By sanctioning Maduro, the United States makes clear our opposition to the policies of his regime and our support for the people of Venezuela who seek to reform their country to a full and prosperous democracy."

The sanctions against Maduro follow those imposed last week on a number of current and former senior Venezuelan officials. Mnuchin would not comment on future sanctions, including a ban on Venezuelan oil exports. He said the U.S. would monitor the situation, but that our objective is not to do anything to hurt the people of Venezuela.

Maduro is defying the global condemnation, especially from what he regards as Venezuela's arch enemy, the United States.

"Why the hell should we care what Trump says? We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say," he shouted to a crowd of supporters Monday in Caracas.

The Maduro government appears determined to go through with forming the 545-member constituent assembly even before it releases final results of the election.

The government says more than 8 million people cast a ballot while the opposition, which boycotted the vote, says the turnout was much lower. Reporters on the ground in Caracas say dozens of polling places were almost deserted Sunday.

But even if 8 million people voted, that would be less than half of all eligible voters. Pre-election polls showed more than 70 percent of all Venezuelans opposed the assembly.

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.

The opposition said the measure would bring on a socialist dictatorship. It says the voting was rigged to pack the assembly with Maduro supporters who would have the power to dissolve the opposition-controlled national assembly and fire officials who disagree with the government. Maduro opponents are demanding early presidential elections.

Sunday's election was the bloodiest day in four months of anti-government protests, with at least 10 people killed in clashes around the country. More than 120 have died since early April.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Monday accused the Venezuelan government of deliberately and repeatedly using violence to repress the opposition.


Wikileaks publishes emails
leaked from France's Macron


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Whistleblowing site Wikileaks has published more than 20,000 leaked emails it says it has verified to be from now French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign.

Months after the emails were initially leaked and posted online before the election, Wikileaks says it has verified the authenticity of 21,075 of them using DomainKeys Identified Mail, or DKIM.

Wikileaks has posted the remainder of the emails, 50,000 more, for context. All the emails are available to the public in a searchable archive, with verified messages flagged as such.

France's election campaign commission said in May a significant amount of data, some of it likely fake, had been leaked on social networks after a cyberattack on the presidential campaign of then-candidate Macron.

The leak came 36 hours before France's runoff election in which Macron beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

French election officials said the leaked data apparently came from the computer systems and email accounts of Macron and some of his campaign managers.


Court upholds the sentence
on Israeli soldier's actions


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

An Israeli military court has rejected a soldier's appeal after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for killing a Palestinian.

20-year old Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter in January for fatally shooting an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank nearly a year ago.

The landmark case polarized the nation, pitting much of the public against Israel’s most prized and respected institution, the army. In a rare move, the military condemned a soldier’s actions during a Palestinian attack, while many ordinary people were appalled that an Israeli youth serving on the front lines was hauled into court like a common criminal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted Sunday he would recommend a pardon for Azaria.

The incident in question took place last March in the West Bank town of Hebron, when two Palestinians went on a stabbing rampage targeting Israeli troops. One assailant was shot dead by soldiers and the other was wounded, lying incapacitated on the ground.

Eleven minutes later, a cell-phone video caught Azaria taking aim at the 21-year-old injured Palestinian and shooting him in the head. The soldier claimed that he feared the man was booby-trapped with a bomb; but commanders quickly disputed that and Azaria was put on trial for violating the army’s code of moral conduct.


Suicide searches spike
after Netflix releases show


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Online searches about suicide and suicide methods spiked in the weeks following the release of Netflix's 13 Reasons Why, a show that dramatizes the suicide of a teenage girl, according to a U.S. study released Monday.

Google searches about suicide were 19 percent higher than average in the 19 days following the show's release on March 31, translating into 900,000 to 1,500,000 more searches, researchers reported in the “Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine,” or JAMA for short.

The study did not examine whether the actual number of suicides increased following the series' release, but researchers said the internet search trend is troubling.

Google search volumes for things like how to commit suicide, commit suicide and how to kill yourself all decisively spiked during the 19-day window after the show's release. A 2009 study suggested "suicide search trends are correlated with actual suicides, according to a letter accompanying the study in JAMA.

Many mental health experts concluded that Netflix acted unethically by releasing the series. In it, a high school girl leaves behind 13 cassette tapes that explain the decision to take her own life. The series, which some argue glamorizes suicide, has been renewed for a second season.

The San Diego State University researcher who led the study, John Ayers, called on Netflix to reconsider the show and the effects it is having on its teenage-skewing audience.

Currently, the most violent episodes are prefaced with warnings. Netflix has also created a website equipped with suicide hotlines for each of the countries in which it can be streamed. In a statement, Netflix defended “13 Reasons Why,” saying that the show has spurred an important conversation.

"We always believed this show would increase discussions around this tough subject matter," Netflix said. "This is an interesting quasi-experimental study that confirms this. We are looking forward to more research and taking everything we learn to heart as we prepare for season two."

The study analyzed Google trends between March 31, 2017, and April 18. They halted their research on that date because former National Football League player Aaron Hernandez committed suicide on April 19, a development that might have skewed the data.

Researchers used the period between January and March 2017 as a control to determine the expected volume of suicide-related Google search queries.

Navajo horsemen
Library of Congress photo        
1913 photo shows Navajo man seated on horse.

Groups divided on regulating U.S. wild horse population

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are locked in debate over what to do about wild horses, which roam across Western rangelands and reservations, competing with domestic livestock for food and water and scarring the environment. Native American tribes and nations are also grappling with the problem. Everyone agrees something needs to be done to reduce the wild horse population, but what?

Today's herds descend from runaway or stray horses brought to America by 16th-century Spanish conquistadors. In 1971, with concerns that the numbers were dwindling, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which directed the Bureau of Land Management to manage herds to maintain a thriving natural ecological balance. Since then, the wild horse population has tripled and is projected to reach 115,000 by 2020.

Their impact on the environment can be devastating: The average adult horse consumes more than two-and-a-half kilos of grass and 75 liters of water a day, leaving less for domestic livestock. Overgrazing leads to the invasion of non-native vegetation that is less nutritional than grass. It also causes soil erosion around water sources, threatening water quality.

The bureau today conducts periodic round-ups of wild horses and places them into holding facilities. Some horses are adopted out, but placements are relatively few, and it costs the taxpayer about $50 million a year to feed and house the remaining animals. If President Donald Trump's 2018 budget is approved, it would cut the bureau’s budget by $10 million, and the bureau would have to seek out other ways to manage horse populations.

Earlier this month, a congressional committee voted for changes in the language of an appropriations bill that would allow the BLM to euthanize horses; the Senate Appropriations Committee voted against a bill that would lift prohibitions on horse slaughter, an industry Congress put out of business in 2007.

It's an emotional issue, which Native American tribes have struggled with for years. Some support roundups, but others, including elders and spiritual leaders, say the animals should be treated humanely and not sent to slaughter. The Northwest Tribal Horse Coalition, comprising five tribes and bands in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, says birth control won't curb overgrazing, at least in the short term, and advocates for the slaughter of horses at humane facilities.

An estimated 48,000 wild horses have the run of the Navajo Nation's 7,000 square kilometers in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. The Navajo Nation conducts roundups using cowboys on horseback and all-terrain vehicles to chase the horses into entrapments.


Apple accused of bowing
to Chinese censor systems


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Apple, Inc. has confirmed that it is removing some applications providing virtual personal networks, or VPNs, from its China App Store, to comply with new Chinese regulations, a move critics say is capitulating to internet censorship.

Apple confirmed the move in an email to National Public Radio on Saturday, after several VPN providers announced that their apps had been removed from the China App Store.

Software made outside China can sometimes be used to get around China’s domestic internet firewalls that block content that the government finds objectionable. Critics call China’s great firewall one of the world’s most advanced censorship systems.

App maker Express VPN said in a blog post that its app was removed from the China Apple Store, and it noted preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS operating systems have been removed.

Another company, Star VPN, also announced it had been contacted by Apple with the same notice.

Golden Frog, a company that makes security software, told the New York Times that its app also had been taken down from the China App Store.

The Times reports that this is the first time China has successfully used its influence with a major foreign technology platform such as Apple, to flex its muscle with software makers.

China is Apple’s largest market outside the United States.


Trump fires Scaramucci
from communications job


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday abruptly fired Anthony Scaramucci as his communications director, just over a week after the New York financier started work in the key White House post.

Trump ousted the 53-year-old Scaramucci at the request of new White House chief of staff John Kelly, officials told U.S. news outlets.

The White House officially announced that Scaramucci was leaving in order to give Kelly a clean slate to run day-to-day operations of the White House staff.

Scaramucci was little known to the American public before arriving on the Washington political scene in mid-July.

He quickly made national headlines with a vulgar, sexually suggestive rant to a correspondent for The New Yorker, which the magazine published last week. Scaramucci railed against two of Trump's key White House aides: Reince Priebus, whom Trump fired as chief of staff on Friday and replaced with Kelly, and the president's chief strategist, Stephen Bannon.

Scaramucci's firing came just hours after Kelly assumed his new post. Trump praised the retired Marine Corps general's record during six months running the U.S. Homeland Security Administration, where he pushed for tough enforcement of laws against illegal immigration into the U.S.


Trump appoints Kelly
to chief of staff position


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Tweeting that there is no chaos in the White House, President Donald Trump brought in no-nonsense retired Marine Corps general John Kelly as his chief of staff Monday to restore order to an administration shaken by six months of policy setbacks, personnel changes and media leaks.

Within hours, Kelly demanded the resignation of Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who had unleashed a profanity-laced interview with a reporter last week, just days after he was hired.

Among Kelly's biggest challenges will be stopping the press leaks that have bedeviled Trump during his first six months in office, and controlling access to the Oval Office.

As Kelly was sworn in Monday morning, Trump said, "I have no doubt he will be an absolutely superb chief of staff." At a Cabinet meeting a short time later, Trump praised Kelly's work as Secretary of Homeland Security during the first six months of the administration.

Kelly will be the first current or former general to serve as White House chief of staff since Alexander M. Haig in the final stretch of President Richard M. Nixon's administration.


More news of the Americas
From the Voice of America

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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Hotel in
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


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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 || Tuesday Edition, August 1, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 151
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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

Ministry announces pineapple plan

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería announced the creation of Plan para la Producción Responsable de Piña, which would include both administrative and environmental regulations.

"It is a summary of the actions proposed by all sectors, which we have had in the working group,” said Giovanna Valverde, a spokesperson attached to the ministry. The idea is to create a document that promotes eco-competitiveness, according to the document.  It also says the pineapple sector has received a negative impacts like supposed pollution of water sources and non-compliance with labor laws.

In addition, the plan would seek the sustainable use of the soil, the rational management of agrochemicals and waste and respect for biodiversity.

However, the Frente Nacional de los Afectados por la Producción Piñera, said in a statement that this is nothing more than a green make-up. The environmentalist group also said privileges are granted to pineapple exporters.

"One of the main problems is that the basic conditions for establishing a dialogue between communities, companies and the government have not yet been developed,” said Mauricio Álvarez, member of the Frente Ecologista. “The latter has been more concerned with ensuring the operations of companies than social and environmental conflicts.”



Costa Rica rejects Venezuela's vote

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff with wire service reports

Costa Rica joined several other countries Monday in formally condemning the government of Venezuela for going against popular will and illegally imposing an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution.

“The Government of the Republic of Costa Rica does not recognize and considers void, unlawful, unconstitutional and contrary to the popular will, the convocation, process and results for the composition of a Asamblea Nacional Constituyente in the República Bolivariana de Venezuela,” a statement from the Costa Rican foreign ministry said.

Dozens followed in Costa Rica’s wake in also condemning the move by the Venezuelan government. The European Union, Colombia, the United States, México, Spain and the majority of Latin America quickly stated they would not recognize the assembly. The worry is that this new assembly is composed of 545 supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and they could theoretically supplant the opposition-dominated legislative branch of the country: the National Assembly.

Sunday’s election marked the bloodiest day in four months of anti-government protests, with at least 10 people killed in clashes around the country More than 110 have died since protests began in early April.

Maduro proclaimed the election Sunday was a resounding success. Venezuela's National Electoral Council said more than 8 million people, representing more than 41 percent of eligible voters, went to the polls Sunday to cast their ballots.

The opposition in the South American country said the unpopular measure would result in a socialist dictatorship and had called on Venezuelans to boycott the vote. Dozens of polling places in Caracas, the capital, were empty.

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 were candidates, including first lady Cilia Flores, and the first vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello. The opposition contends the 545-member constituent assembly would dissolve the opposition-controlled congress and turn Venezuela into a socialist dictatorship. Maduro opponents are demanding early presidential elections.

“Costa Rica calls on all states and international organizations to ignore these results and, to the Government of Venezuela, to recover the path of reason and listen to the clamor of its people and the international community,” the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Cultos said in its Monday statement. “The holding of free, secret, direct, universal elections with international and independent observation would allow for the democratic transition that the brotherly people of Venezuela long for.”





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From page 7:

New plan to change electric bills for the poor


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government launched a plan to change the electricity bill for some in an attempt to deepen the actions in eradicating extreme poverty in Costa Rica.

According to Casa Presidencial, the residential electricity bill has been unchanged for the last 20 years. The plan intends to benefit families located below the poverty line as defined by the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social. It functions as a subsidy provided if the person is consuming a low amount of energy. That amount is less than 200 kilowatts an hour, according to the government data.

The benefit will be allocated by taking into account elements such as individualized targeting, the amount of energy consumed and the socioeconomic status of the family. This should apply to the first 100 kWH billed. Families in extreme poverty will benefit in total from this subsidy while those above receive half the bill paid for consumption.

According to recent data released by social welfare institute, there are 27,300 families receiving care since 2015 with an additional 27,300 families who are expected to receive attention by the end of 2017.

“The billing will keep financing to other systems, specific contributions such as fixed rates to be connected to the grid of the electrical distribution system, tribute to the Bomberos, street lighting and variable fuel costs,” said Irene Cañas Díaz, the deputy minister of Energía. “Families will always pay an amount for these items, however the benefit in the consumption of energy will be according to your condition of poverty.”

The tariff will be defined by Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Público, or ARESEP, and be financed using resources from the residential sector. This will supposedly be done in consultation with the electrical distribution companies and the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía. The government assures that regular rates should not increase due to this measure. ARESEP will fund it already through established mechanisms, according to Casa Presidencial.

The regulator will define the percentage of surcharge to be paid by consumers of the residential tariff when they exceed the limit of consumption and these funds will go to support the plan of electric tariffs of a social nature. The percentage of surcharge will be the same for all energy distribution companies, the government announced.

“If these resources are insufficient to cover the benefits established in this plan or in subsequent plans, the existing resources will be allocated in order of priority, benefiting first the homes in extreme poverty,” Casa Presidencial said.

In order to finance this subsidy, the distribution companies may directly dispose of the resources generated by the surcharge to the residential sector established by ARESEP. If there are gaps between revenues and expenses in some distribution companies, a compensation mechanism will be established so that the surpluses generated by some distributors compensate for the deficiencies of others.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad will be operating this measure and the distribution companies will suppoosedly elaborate and execute plans through public-private alliances with the purpose of facilitating the improvement of the electrical installations of homes considered to be in poverty.

“In order to improve the conditions in the facilities and to ensure that the electrical connections of the beneficiary households comply with the established requirements, the distribution companies will carry out public-private partnerships,” a statement on the initiative said. “This should be coordinated with the Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos, universities, suppliers of equipment and materials or other organizations wishing to contribute to this initiative.”