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(506) 2223-1327           Published Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 155           Email us
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Employee revenge can spell doom to a company
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Today’s employee could be a company’s worst enemy tomorrow.  If an employee turns, some will do as much harm as they can to their employer.

There are three important rules to finding and keeping a good employee:  selection, training and remuneration.  Even after going through a strict selection process, training employees extensively and paying them well, a day could come when they turn on the company. 

There does not need to be a particularly good reason for this to happen.  An employee may just decide to find another job, move on with their lives or decide they do not want to work anymore.  Whatever the reason, many employees – especially in Costa Rica – see easy money by accusing their boss and/or others in their company of mistreatment.  Even though this strategy knows no sex, women employees know they can stretch their charges farther than men.

This is due to Costa Rica’s stringent domestic violence laws where women use them to their own advantage to harass — and even steal from — men.  The chance of an employer winning  in a labor case is slim.  A man winning a domestic violence case is also equally unlikely. A loss in a labor case can cost an employer thousands of dollars.

What should an employer do?  Employees are usually a necessity in a business.  The answer is to do things by the book as much as possible considering the labor laws are confusing to most expats.  When in doubt, expats should ask a legal professional.  Many of them do not know the answers either.  The labor ministry is full of people who can answer questions, but few speak English.  The ministry’s new Web site is very good.  Many queries can be answered by a visit to

The best rule of thumb is to have a written set of rules, and if an employee violates one twice, fire him or her the third time.  Here is a very important fact to remember.  Any fault expires after one month.  If an employer does not reprimand an employee for a fault within that time frame, they lose the chance to do so.

Remember, a disgruntled employee will use everything and anything in their power or possession to fight a battle with an employer.  They will even make things up and offer false witnesses to testify in a labor case.  Judges are more inclined to listen more to an employee than to an employer due to the legal principle in dubio pro operario, or "when in doubt favor the worker." Keeping paperwork is essential.

Today when everything is on a computer or portable device, an employer must have a plan so an employee cannot steal important company information.  This includes, but is not limited to, passwords, financial statements, credit card information and company as well as personal secrets.

Employers should plan for the eventuality that an employee may leave – usually it is more the case when they leave not if they leave – and first and foremost protect company information, especially, the information on computers. 

A bad employee can do much worse than simply 
bad employee

leave the door open for an office theft.  Having the passwords to go along with the data can put the entire business out the door with the computers. Often the critical data can fit easily onto a portable hard drive or memory stick.

Worse yet is when the disgruntled employee is also the company computer expert. A business owner can find himself in a battle of wits with the very person trusted to protect the computers.

One solution to protect data is cloud computing, and while it may not yet be practical to keep everything in the cloud, it is now quite possible to put the keys to the data into the off-site Internet cloud.

Microsoft Bit Locker, a feature of Windows 7, when combined with the right server software, can control computer data even when it leaves the office. Information copied onto an external disk is transparently encrypted so that it becomes totally inaccessible once the employee’s access is revoked.

Businesses can now trust their employees to work from home with sensitive data knowing that it remains safe from theft and can be revoked the minute the employee is off the payroll.

Stolen laptop computers are equally inaccessible, and attempts to retrieve the data directly from the hard disk using other computers or recovery software are impossible thanks to strong encryption.

The key feature that makes Bit Locker work is a Windows Server running Active Directory. While in the past the investment in computer hardware and trained IT staff to support it may have been out of reach for smaller businesses, the Internet cloud now makes it possible to outsource the data keys to a trusted partner.

Protecting a company’s computers in a breakup with an employee is only one area of concern, but one of the most important and should be on the top of the  business continuity plan.

Garland M. Baker is a 39-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2004-2011, use without permission prohibited.

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Professional women's group
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Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The Professional Women’s Network is hosting its first business resource development event. This special session will give attendees immediate answers to business questions and will also build the foundation for a network business resource guide available to all members, the organization said.

The event is Aug. 20 at a downtown restaurant from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

During this session attendees will group into topic areas including marketing, business planning, conflict transformation, working from home and legal issues, the organization said. Attendees will take turns sharing dilemmas and providing advice to others with similar issues, it said, adding that session notes will be recorded from each group and compiled into a collective resource guide that will be shared with members.

The Professional Women’s Network is a new interest group of the Women’s Club of Costa Rica, which has been active for 70 years serving local communities. The Professional Women’s Network has been developed specifically for women of all nationalities to encourage personal and professional development through networking with other professional women, and to develop programs to contribute to all women in Costa Rica, the organization said.

The Professional Women’s Network is an English-speaking group and beginner level English is welcome. For more information those interested can email

The interest group's Web site is

Our reader' opinion
Jo Stuart's dentistry column
included America bashing

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Once again Jo gives us a good informative column, on dentistry this time, but she as usual can't resist a little America bashing and China worship. "Flocking to China" for medical care??? Perhaps she is not aware of the repeated examples of shoddy and sometimes toxic Chinese products being sent all over the world. Yes, flocking like sheep to the slaughter house. 

Advice to the U.S. government, she says, make the prices lower!!! Another multi trillion dollar entitlement to guarantee cheap implants?? This stellar advice is not hers but from "someone who SEEMS TO KNOW".  What about the huge numbers of people who go to the U.S. for medical care from all over the world? Maybe they value quality and security.

Loosen visa requirements?? There are already 11 million or so illegals who won't leave. The problem is that when folks from Mexico and Central America get to this horrible place called the United States of America (according to Jo) too many of them NEVER GO BACK. Maybe they just need to read Jo's columns to change their minds!!
Daryl Hardman
Escazú and U.S.A.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 155

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Still no sign of ranger missing in Parque Volcán Poás
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rescue workers and police are again dealing with the case of a young man who vanished from a national park.

This time it is a volunteer ranger, Oscar Cruz Ramírez, who vanished Wednesday afternoon in Parque Nacional Volcán Poás. The case contains echoes of the Chicago area doctoral student who vanished in Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja north and east of Liberia Aug. 11, 2009.
Gimelfarb was 28 when he vanished. Cruz is 24.

Costa Rican officials have searched the Volcán Poás park extensively. It is north of the Central Valley. The Cruz Roja is involved as is the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea of the security ministry.  The air searchers are using special cameras and video devices and already have detected plastic bags and other pieces of debris smaller than a man.

The security ministry also sought and received help from U.S. Navy airmen who are involved with the Hospital Ship Comfort that is now in port at Puntarenas. A helicopter from the hospital ship conducted air searches of the area Saturday and again Sunday.
U.S. Aircraft also participated in the search for Gimelfarb without success. Gimelfarb hiked alone in Rincon de la Vieja, but Cruz was accompanied by several students who were with him until shortly before he walked off alone.

He is reported to be in good physical condition with extensive knowledge of mountain hiking.

The best searchers can guess is that he fell into some kind of depression where he cannot be seen easily. Or that he no longer is in the park.

The search has been going on since Thursday. The effort has engaged the support of the highest levels of the ministry.  Walter Navarro Romero, a vice minister, was at Juan Santamaría airport to meet with airmen and at the search headquarters later Sunday.

A Universidad de Costa Rica student vanished at the Parque Nacional Cerro Chirripó earlier this year.

The Cruz Roja reported it has had about 50 searchers on the ground since Friday, although the effort was called off Sunday afternoon due to bad weather.

Sala IV says it doubts that cell towers are harmful to health
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has ruled that cell telephone towers are not the threat to public health that some opponents contend.

The ruling came in a case involving the Municipalidad de Carrillo. Residents said that a private firm continues to construct a cell tower even though the municipal council is imposing a moratorium until regulations can be drawn up.

The court, in summary released by the Poder Judicial, said that those placing the objection should follow procedures to challenge the lack of regulations. But then it added that it did not accept claims from those lodging the appeal that cell towers would not have the harmful effects that the residents contended.
Cell  towers are controversial now that two private companies are entering the market. Many municipalities have no regulations and the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones had been holding meetings to instruct the municipal officials.

In the meantime, companies are putting up the towers. Some towers are not being constructed by the cell telephone firms but by private firms that have entered into agreements with landowners with the goal of leasing the towers to the cell companies.

Although reputable scientific authorities are unanimous that cell towers put out small amounts of electromagnetic radiation, some residents near such towers are not convinced. In addition, many fear loss of value to their properties with towers looming in the background.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 155
Golfito probe expands with report of four more searches
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators were back in Golfito Friday to conduct four searches.

The Poder Judicial said that one search was at the municipal building itself. Others were in private homes.

The searches suggest that the investigation is expanding from the single case of a bribe solicitation for the approval of a maritime concession to a number of cases, but the time span in years in not known. The Poder Judicial said that the prosecutors involved said that there were at least two new investigations.

Three municipal officials were detained July 30 and later sent to prison for preventative detention. Agents are questioning others in the municipal government as well as relatives of workers there. The Poder Judicial said that one of the persons
being questioned was the previous mayor who has the last name of Cubillo.

The current mayor is Deylon Gerardo Arroyo Blandón. Also jailed for preventative detention were the president of the municipal council, Rodolfo Delgado Jiménez, and another official, Alexis Rojas Rojas.

The other searches Friday were at the home of a municipal employee who works in the Plataforma de Servicios, the home of her boyfriend and the home of the head of human resources for the municipality, said the Poder Judicial.

The Poder Judicial said that investigators thought that they might find evidence of the irregular approval of construction permits.

The case is being handled by the Fiscalía de Probidad, Transparencia y Anticorrupción

British cruise ship arrived today to mark start of season
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Today a British-flagged cruise ship, the Grand Plaza, is due to arrive in Puntarenas marking the beginning of the 2011-2012 cruise ship season.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo said that last year 264 cruise ships docked in Costa Rica and 385,363 passengers had the chance to visit Costa Rican soil. That number is 5.4 percent greater than the previous year, tourism officials said.
There will be a small ceremony in Puntarenas today marking the beginning of the season.

The 77,000-ton Grand Plaza carries 1,950 passengers.

Cruise ship tourism is a big money maker for Costa Ricans on both coasts. Usually the passengers have the opportunity to take small trips inland or to participate in adventure tourism or simply buy souvenirs and eat local foods. The visits usually are of a short duration.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 155

Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Lost Hitchcock silent film
turns up in New Zealand

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Researchers in New Zealand made an amazing find recently when they discovered the 1924 British silent film “The White Shadow.” 

The film is significant because it was one of the first movies made by famed director Alfred Hitchcock, who was its assistant director, writer, editor and production designer.

“We were sort of the end of the line, I think, from the U.S. They obviously traveled to Australia and across to New Zealand, and then when it got to the last screenings in New Zealand here, these productions were just destroyed,” said Brian Scadden, the head of the laboratory at Park Road Post Production in Wellington, where the film will be preserved.

But a local projectionist kept the film and left it to the New Zealand Film Archive after his death in 1989. 

Leslie Anne Lewis, an American audio visual archive specialist with the National Film Preservation Foundation, recently examined the collection and came upon three reels, which she painstakingly viewed. 

“They were filled with really striking images, images that were enough to pique my curiosity, so I decided that night to start trying to identify the film,” said Lewis.  “And during my inspection, I was able to identify two of the film’s stars, Betty Compson and Clive Brook, and the film’s distributor, Selznick,” referring to Lewis J. Selznick Enterprises.

After researching contemporary reviews and summaries, Leslie Anne Lewis finally determined what she had stumbled upon.

“I realized that this was most likely a film that Alfred Hitchcock had worked on," she said. "It was quite a surprise, and it was the middle of the night when I realized this, and I had no one that I could call and tell!"

The White Shadow is the story of twin sisters, one evil and one innocent. The film’s star, American actress Betty Compson, plays both parts. Park Road Post Production’s Brian Scadden says the film has unique tints that emphasize its drama.

“There’s one part where the leading lady, she goes into the bedroom, and it’s an amber tint, and then she switches the light off, and it goes to quite a bluey-green tint,” said Scadden. “So, whatever the mood is, whatever the time of day is, they have a different tint.”

Film researchers will continue to look for remaining reels of the movie, which may have been destroyed or disintegrated.

Ms. Lewis says one notable observation about this film is that it does not use a technique that later became a Hitchcock signature: a quick shot of the director himself.

“Not that we’ve found so far. Maybe another eagle-eyed viewer will see something, but we’ve been looking pretty closely.”

“The White Shadow” and other old films found in the archive will be preserved during the next three years through a partnership that includes the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Some of the films will be made viewable on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Web site. 

A copy of “The White Shadow” will be presented to the British Film Institute, which has an Alfred Hitchcock rescue project.

Chávez returns to Cuba

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is back in Cuba for more cancer treatment.

Chávez arrived in Havana late Saturday, where he was greeted by Cuban President Raúl Castro.

Cuban doctors removed a large tumor from the Venezuelan president in June. The operation was followed by one round of chemotherapy last month. Doctors will run tests to determine if Chávez needs a second round.

The 57 year-old Chávez has not said exactly what kind of cancer he has or to what extent it has spread.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 155

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Guard accused of robberies
of female victims in Escazú

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators have detained a security guard who, they say, moonlighted as an armed robber.

The 37-year-old man lives in Río Secundo de Alajuela and worked as a guard at a firm in Escazú.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said the suspect was detained Friday at his home to face allegations of eight robberies. The investigation has been going on for three months, agents said.

Agents said that the armed robber encountered victims in the afternoon. The victims were mainly women who were walking in parks in Escazú or in other solitary places. The robber arrived on a motorcycle and pulled a gun on the victim. Agents said they confiscated a motorcycle that matched the one seen at the robberies. They also confiscated a firearm and other evidence, they said.

Hydro project bonds placed

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Banco Nacional subsidiary BN Valores says it has successfully closed on 15 trillon colons in bonds for the  Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz. The money will finance the Balsa Inferior hydro electric projects in San Carlos. The amount is about $30 million.

The bonds expire in 2023. The hydro project is supposed to provide enough power for 40,000 homes.

The brokerage firm said it placed half the amount in June and the remainder in July.

Anti-corruption organization
warns of climate fund misuse

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

As governments prepare to spend up to $100 billion annually by 2020 to limit climate change and prepare for its impact, Transparency International is warning of the corruption risks of climate finance flowing through new, untested channels and recommends strengthening governance systems to tackle them.
“The Global Corruption Report: Climate Change” sets out practical guidelines to prevent corruption undermining climate change measures and calls on governments, international organizations, businesses and civil society to ensure good governance in climate policy, the organization said.

Under global climate agreements, substantial new funding from governments and other agencies will be made available to finance mitigation of climate change, such as renewable energy projects like wind farms or solar power plants, and adaptation to it, such as constructions of sea walls, irrigation systems and disaster-ready housing.

None of the 20 countries expected to be most affected by climate change – where much of this money will be spent - scores higher than 3.6 on the Transparency's Corruption Perceptions Index, in which 0 indicates perception of extremely corrupt and 10 is very clean.

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