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(506) 223-1327        Published Monday, Aug. 21, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 165       E-mail us    
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Rural land titles can be result of homesteading
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Everyone who comes to Costa Rica has a story to tell.  Some are escaping from their home country because they are criminals or do not fit in.

Many are sick and tired of the “world gone nuts” and hope to find solace here.

Others are explorers looking for the treasure in a good land purchase.

Crossing the border into Costa Rica in the late 60s or early 70s was truly a breath-taking experience.

Old timers with over 30 years living in the country remember the days when Costa Rica was truly a paradise.

Back then, it was very rare indeed to see the police with guns. They carried only a screwdriver and a pliers.  They used the tools to confiscate the license plates of drivers in violation of the law.  Security guards were also an uncommon sight, nothing like today, where they are everywhere.

There were potholes 30 years ago much like today, but there were also fewer roads.  It took longer to get everywhere.  Beaches were barren. Few tourists visited the country in those days.

Land was cheap, with most of it still unregistered. The Instituto de Tierras y Colonización or the land reform and settlement agency of Costa Rica started officially colonizing the country in 1961. This colonizing took place in the United States and Canada in the 1800s.

This fact is one of the reasons speculators still flock to Costa Rica to find land.  There are still many parcels granted to locals years back with the original plat maps given to them by the institute, which is known today as the Institute of Agrarian Development.

This agency created maps for the peasants who homesteaded land in return for ownership.  Many of the homesteaders sold their land to others over the years without making a new plat map or registering a transfer deed.

Today land buyers must research property starting with the creation of the parcel — in other words going back to the the Instituto de Tierras y Colonización and following all the maps and deeds forward to present.

Land buyers must take special note of the maps and the deeds.  A plat is map of a property serving as a drawing for land registration and it is referred to as a catastro in Spanish. 

When life was simple, and land was cheap

Plat maps do not generate a deed in Costa Rica.  There may be many maps over one property and only one deed. In some cases, the deed has nothing to do with the map or maps over the property.

It was not until 1998 when there was a major change to the notary law did a deed have to be associated with a catastro.  Even today, a new map is not required, and an old Instituto de Tierras map is valid, if one exists.  Those maps in many cases, were done with equipment of years past, and are not accurate.

Today, a bigger problem is the Institute of Agrarian Development, other governmental institutions, original landowners and neighbors to property boundaries who dispute some of the original maps and any deeds associated with them.

When many plat maps exist over a parcel of land and there is no logical reason for them, a savvy land purchaser should track down the people who made the maps and ask why they made them.

Explorers and adventurers still have a place in Costa Rica and can still find hidden treasures in land.  Instituto de Tierras parcels still abound. However, the homework and legal work necessary to acquire one without problems is far more complex than it was years ago.

This is the adventure, full of exploration, delving into the investigative research to find how a piece of land was born and following it through its life of ownership.

A word of wisdom: Do not leave these tasks up to lawyers and surveyors alone. Land purchasers should get someone who knows what they are doing to lead the expedition.

Garland M. Baker is a 35-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at info@crexpertise.com.  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at http://crexpertise.info.  Copyright 2004-2006, use without permission prohibited.




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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 165


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Aug. 31 will be high point
of celebration in Limón


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


Aug. 31 is the Día del Negro y la Cultura Afrocostarricense, a celebration of black culture.

Most events will be in Limón, but Siquirres and San José also have a schedule of activities.

Already there have been academic conferences and religious activities.

The high point is a parade Aug. 31 in Limón.

The theme of this festival is "Back to Our Roots," written in English, which is the traditional language of the blacks in Limón who came from Caribbean locations to work on the railroad in the 1880s and remained to be the labor for the banana plantations and shipping industry.

Margaret Simpson, director of the public library in Limón, is the cultural coordinator of the event. She notes that many limonenses living in the United States visit the country during this period. Nevertheless, she said, the ethnic mix of the festival includes many cultures in addition to black. For example, she said, the Asociación China was to participate in a pot luck and food exchange.

The day also is one for tourists, and several agencies have set up tours that include Aug. 31 in Limón.

There is one change this year. The Lady Black Beauty pageant, scheduled for Friday, will not feature young women this year but older women, señoras, said an announcement. That event will be at 7:30 p.m. in the historic Black Star Line building.

This week, too, the Methodist Church is having its II Ecumenical Women and Men Conference through Sunday.

The area around the Black Star Line will feature entertainment and vendor stalls from Saturday to Aug. 31. The Banda Nacional de Limón will perform Sunday at 5 p.m.  Some of the activities will continue until Sunday, Sept. 3.

At the same time the Feria de Rescate de Valores Culturales de Siquirres will be held in that town. There will be a cultural parade in Siquirres Aug. 31, too.     

The winning numbers for the weekly national lottery will be pulled in Limón this Sunday. The drawing usually is in San José.

Events in San José will be mostly at universities, although there is an event Sunday to honor Hernán Medford and Juan Cayasso, two well-known soccer stars. That will be at the Centro Nacional de la Cultura at 7 p.m.

Also in San José Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. an orchestra from Saint Lucia and Barbados will perform as well as some other groups.

New court district eyed
in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Corte Supreme is expected to approve a proposal to create a second judicial district in Guanacaste. The location would be in Santa Cruz.

The idea was proposed by the court's Departamento de Planificación and outlined by Luis Paulino Mora, president of the court, in a recent meeting.

The area to be served has an estimated 150,000 residents and includes many of the major Pacific tourist areas.

The new district would cover the cantons of Nicoya, Carrillo, Honjancha, Nandayure and Santa Cruz. According to the court study, Santa Cruz has about 45,000 residents and Nicoya has about 42,000. Carrillo has about 40,000. Honjancha has about 6,800, and Nandayure has about 10,000, said the courts, which based its numbers on population estimates provided by the Municipalidad de Santa Cruz.

The single court district in Guanacaste now is based in Liberia. The new district would be a convenience for many beach dwellers.

More highway lines due
for major roadways


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Now that a private firm has nearly completed painting lines and other markings on the Circumvalación from Zapote to Calle Blanco, the transport ministry is ready to tackle the job of painting lines on other roads.

Eight major roads will get lines thanks to a 141 million-colon contract with the Consorcio de Demarcación Vial. That's about $274,000. Main highways will be marked in Tibás, Pavas, Alajuellita, Uruca, Sabanilla, Paso Ancho and San Sebastián, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transporte. The total length of the job is 56 kms., some 35 miles. The job is supposed to take about 30 days.

The jobs will be done at night, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and motorists will face some road closings.

Road markings was one of those maintenance chores, like pothole repair, that was all but ignored for years. Some of the roads became highly dangerous at night when there were just faded lines to guide motorists.

All-star national band
to offer three concerts


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 70 musicians from the seven regional national bands are getting together for the La Banda Sinfónica Nacional,which will give three concerts next week.

This is the idea of Ricardo Vargas, the new director. The pick of the national banks will play in Cartago next Sunday at 7:30 p.m. in the Catedral del Carmen. Other concerts will be Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the church hall of Barva and at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 in the  Teatro Eugene O´Neill of the Centro Cultural Costarricense Norteamericano in Los Yoses.

The Dirección General de Bandas is a program of the  Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes

Heavy trucks barred in peak hours

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Trucks weighing more than 18 tons are being barred starting today from the Santa Ana-Belén road during peak morning hours. The Ministerio De Obras Públicas y Transporte had crews out over the weekend installing the appropriate signs.

The idea is to increase the flow of traffic slowed down by heavy and articulated vehicles, said the ministry. The heavy vehicles are forbidden after 6 a.m. and before 8:30 a.m., said the ministry.

Today is a holiday

Today is the official Mother's Day in Costa Rica, moved from Aug. 15 to create a three day weekend. Most businesses and embassies will be closed today.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 165







Sometimes a good lie has the desired effect
Mentira bien inventada, vale mucho y no cuenta nada

“A well made lie is very useful and divulges nothing.” This dicho does not have its roots in Costa Rica, though it is used commonly among Ticos. Its origins can be traced back to 17th century Spain when Miguel de Cervantes, undoubtedly Iberia’s greatest writer, was penning his immortal tome Don Quixote.  As you may well imagine, Cervantes often employed refranes and dichos to embellish his many
romantic tales. In fact, he invented several of his own, and today’s just happens to be one of them.

Our refranes and dichos are not just popular, often humorous, ways of being clever. They are part of the fabric of our traditional culture that binds us to
our heritage by teaching the present the wisdom of the past. I always find colloquial expressions, or the so-called “wise sayings,” of every country interesting because they reveal much about the traditional culture of the place.

Another refrain that I like a lot, also to be found in Don Quixote, is No hay refran que no diga una verdad y si no una, es porque dice dos. “There is no proverb that does not speak one truth, and if it doesn’t it’s because it speaks two.”

Mentira bien inventada vale mucho y no cuenta nada is a very clever dicho, because it contains a truth as well as a warning. If you’re going to tell a lie it must have a useful purpose and must not reveal anything of the real truth or otherwise it will compromise the prevaricator. I used to think politicians were such good liars, but these days I don’t think so. Their lies all seem to be so transparently self-serving.

My grandmother — so often the inspiration for this column — always used to tell us stories when we were kids. And we believed everything she said, no matter how absurdly fantastic or cloyingly romantic.

She used to tell us that as a child she had to walk miles back and forth to school. On her way home she and her sisters had to plod perilously along the railroad tracks to pick up coal for their cook stove so they could prepare the evening meal for their ailing mother. I would close my eyes and image my poor grandmother as a little girl, dirty and miserable, trudging along the rails collecting pieces of coal for the family hearth. I was so moved by this scene that, at the age of 6 or 7, tears of pity would well up in my eyes.

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

 

I was probably about 8 years old the first time we went to visit the “girls,” as grandmother called her sisters. Of course I was anxious to see that lonely stretch of railroad track where poor grandmother, like little Mary Pickford in some ancient silent movie, would toil her way home from school collecting lumps of discarded coal in her soiled apron.

When we reached the tiny town the first thing I realized was that “the girls” where not girls at all but women as old or older than my grandmother. The miles and miles my poor grandmother walked back and forth to school turned out to be no more than two or three hundred meters.

And although it was true that grandmother and her sisters picked up pieces of coal that had fallen from the tenders of passing locomotives, the tracks were only about a hundred meters from their house and, according to “the girls” at least, collecting the coal was more like a game than the drudgery forced upon innocent children by the rigors of abject poverty.

When asked about these facts, my grandmother placed the back of her hand gently against her forehead, turned her gaze wistfully away and – her flair for the dramatic notwithstanding – muttered something about how the years may have clouded her memory.

I still wasn’t exactly sure whether my grandmother had intentionally created this mentira or if she really believed the little childhood melodrama she’d narrated to us. But from that time on, though I still enjoyed listening to her many stories, I found that the tears did not come quite so often to my eyes.


Police in Escazú capture four who may be involved in many robberies
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Fuerza Pública officers grabbed four men in a vehicle in Escazú Saturday. Police believe they were on the way to invade a home.

Police have been on increased patrols because of a wave of such crimes that have hit the municipality west of San José. Even the homes of some municipal officials have been the target of robbers.

Although police are not saying to what crimes they may try to link the four men, the reports by police give a good idea how the suspects might have been planning to spend their evening.

Officials said that inside the suspicious car that was stopped by officers in two patrol vehicles, ski masks and weapons were found. Two weapons were .38-caliber pistols. There was a shotgun, they said and a .45-caliber pistol.

The men were identified by the last names of Arguedas López, Castro Brenes, Monge Martínez and Pérez Barboza.  Arguedas López already was being
sought to answer a charge of armed robbery, police said a records check revealed.

Police also found three portable radios capable of monitoring police frequencies in the car, they said.

Several recent home invasions involved bands of masked bandits who kept track of police whereabouts with scanner radios.

The typical way the band of robbers works is to force open the exterior porton of a home and crash into the living quarters. There they tie up those present and sack the home.

The number of homes so attacked recently is hard to determine because police have kept some cases hidden. In one high-profile case last week, crooks were suspected of taking $1.5 million in diamonds from a family in San Rafael de Escazú. No one in the gated and guarded subdivisions said they heard or saw anything.

In another case, the gang of bandits was believed directed by a female leader.


Suspected robber dies in gun battle with guard in Manuel Antonio
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A guard in Manuel Antonio engaged a suspicious man  in a gun battle late Saturday. The guard suffered serious wounds, and the other man, who was found to be carrying a ski mask, died.

The guard was identified as Roberto Morales  Espinoza.
He suffered two bullet wounds to an arm and his back. He was in charge of protecting a construction site near Villa Teca.

He was found by police who passed by in a patrol car. Nearby was the body of Rafael Enoc García Luna, 26. He also suffered two bullet wounds but in the chest. Under his body police said they found a .38-caliber pistol.







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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 21, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 165


U.N. AIDS envoy brings grim messages to conference
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Some 24,000 delegates and thousands of scientific, social and community presentations and papers were the core of the International AIDS Conference that just ended in Toronto. But there also were marches, demonstrations, tears and laughter, bold statements and cries for help.

"This conference cannot be deemed a success unless we collectively realize our theme of Time to Deliver." said Dr Mark Wainberg, conference co-chairman. "Indeed we will have failed unless we rapidly and dramatically expand by millions the numbers of people around the world with access to anti-retroviral drugs. Clearly progress cannot be achieved if more people continue to become infected by HIV each year than the numbers that are able to access treatment,"

Stephen Lewis, U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, whose term expires at the end of the year, was keynote speaker at the closing ceremony. He was as he has been throughout the conference, outspoken. He criticized those promoting an abstinence-only policy for HIV prevention, who require other countries to adhere to that policy before getting funding.

"Ideological rigidity almost never works when applied to the human condition. Moreover, it's an antiquated throwback to the conditionality of yesteryear to tell any government how to allocate its money for prevention. That approach has a name. It's called neo-colonialism," he said.

Lewis says more awareness is needed about how male circumcision can help prevent HIV infection — stressing cultural sensitivity and quality medical care. "The men are lining up for the procedure in Swaziland. And when I was in the Zambian copper belt just a couple of weeks ago, at an animated meeting with the district commissioner, he indicated he was part of an ethnic group that was circumcised. I then revealed that I was circumcised. And there followed a joyous frenzy of male bonding. Amongst all the circumsizees," he said.
But Lewis' turned serious again when he called for multi-drug treatment for all HIV positive mothers to prevent infection in their newborns. "It is inexcusable that in Africa and other parts of the developing world we continue to use single dose Navirapine rather than full triple therapy," he said.

The U.N. special envoy addressed the issue of violence against women, saying it is not only the young who are being raped.

"How would you characterize an emerging pattern of the sexual assault of women between the ages of 65 and 80? The rapists confident they can rape with impunity without fear of transmission. Sexual violence is everywhere reported, from marital rape to rape as a war crime. The phenomenon is by no means singularly African. We live in a world community where the depravity of sexual violence has run amok. In Africa, however, the violence and the virus go together," he said.

As for the growing number of AIDS orphans, Lewis describes the problem as "walking on the knife's edge of an unsolvable human tragedy."

"In Africa, the grandmothers are the unsung heroes of the continent. These extraordinary, resilient, courageous women fighting through the inconsolable grief of the loss of their own adult children becoming parents again in their 50's and 60's and 70's and 80's. I attended a grandmother's gathering last weekend on the eve of the conference. The grandmothers were magnificent. But they're all struggling with the same anguished nightmare — What happens to my grandchildren when I die?," he said.

Lewis has been a leading force both in his capacity as a U.N. envoy and through his foundation for gender equalityand wants a new U.N. agency for women.

It's unclear who will replace Lewis as the next U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. "For my own part, when I leave the post of envoy at the end of the year, I have asked that my successor be an African, but most important, an African woman," he said.


U.S. creates special directorate on intelligence from Caracas and Havana
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The United States' director of national intelligence, John Negroponte, has created a new position to lead U.S. intelligence efforts regarding Cuba and Venezuela.

Negroponte's office announced the move Friday. The United States also has special missions for intelligence on Iran and North Korea.

The statement said intelligence officer Patrick Maher
will serve as Cuba-Venezuela mission manager until a permanent manager is named. The manager will be responsible for overseeing data collection and analysis, filling intelligence gaps, and putting intelligence strategies into place.

U.S. focus on Cuban policy has increased since last month, when leader Fidel Castro announced he was temporarily handing power to his brother and chosen successor while undergoing health care. Venezuela's president Hugo Chávez is an outspoken critic of U.S. leadership.


Mexican man arrested in U.S. may be involved in murders of women
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico says U.S. authorities have arrested a Mexican man suspected of taking part in the rapes and murders of at least 10 women in the Ciudad Juarez border area near Texas. The arrest is being described as a major break in the case.

The ambassador, Antonio Garza, said in a statement that Edgar Alvarez Cruz was arrested Tuesday in Denver, Colorado, for violating U.S. immigration law. Garza says the suspect is believed to be part of a gang of men who raped and murdered the women between 1993 and 2003.
Mexico's attorney general, Daniel Cabeza de Vaca, told reporters investigators do not know the exact number of homicides Alvarez Cruz may have been responsible for, but that there is solid evidence in several cases with which they are familiar.

Hundreds of women have been brutally murdered in recent years in Ciudad Juarez, located just across the border from the southwestern city of El Paso, Texas. Many of the victims were sexually assaulted.

Ambassador Garza says Alvarez Cruz was transferred to a federal facility in El Paso to be turned over to Mexican authorities.


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