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These stories were published Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 170
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Impact of proposed laws important to expats
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two pieces of legislation moving toward passage in the Asamblea Legislativa could alter life for expats dramatically.

The first is the so-called fiscal reform package, which seeks to generate some $500 million more in taxes for the central government. The actual specifics of this 400-plus-page bill still are in flux because amendments are being proposed nearly every day in the assembly.

The fear is that the taxing authorities will interpret the legislation in a way that puts a surcharge on money that comes to expats here. Many are worried about their pensions, even though government officials said they would enact an offset against income taxes paid elsewhere

At best the measure will create more paperwork as anyone moving large sums of money will be required to specify the origins and the nature of the funds. Investment capital would not be taxed, but money earned abroad would be.

Real estate brokers and builders worry that the measure will stifle the boom that is taking place now on the Pacific coast. Many of the
condos and homes being built there are eventually purchased with money that comes from outside the country. Any type of withholding tax on money brought, wired or transferred into the country would unsettle potential purchasers. Getting a government refund is a lengthy, time-consuming and complex process.

The second piece of legislation is the immigration reform bill. This measure already has received initial approval from lawmakers. The bill would criminalize hiring illegal workers. Penalties would follow conviction.
The measure also would provide a strong legal basis for the Policia Especial de Migración, who would be inclined to exercise the new powers.

Considering that many North Americans work illegally in Central Valley sportsbooks and in tourism and real estate jobs, the impact could be significant, as could the criminal penalties doled out to employers. The bill does not create any easy way for foreigners to work legally in the country.

Tightening up immigration rules also could make it tough for anyone who wishes to purchase a home and live in Costa Rica, and tighter rules could cause reverberations in the real estate market.


Agents say troubled burn victim was attempting suicide
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators say the man found tied up with barbed wire and necklaced with a flaming auto tire Wednesday was trying to commit suicide.

The incident happened in trouble-plagued  Oreamuno de Cartago. The burn victim, Luis Gerardo Víquez still clings to life in Hospital San Juan de Dios with second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body.

The burning incident took place in the same community where a schoolgirl was found dead a few days earlier. Víquez had a photo of the girl in his possession, although agents doubt he had anything to do with the death.

As improbable as the suicide theory might be, agents have good reasons to believe it. Víquez left work on a farm earlier than usual
Wednesday without eating his lunch. Investigators know this because they found his backpack abandoned there. They also traced the bottle that contained the gasoline. Víquez borrowed the bottle from a family member and filed it with gasoline at the local service station, agents learned.

An official report from the Judicial Investigating Organization attributed the actions of Víquez to emotional and psychological problems. Investigators also discounted the report of one witness to the burning of Víquez who told police that at least one man dressed in black was responsible and that he fled in a black pickup.

The body of the dead girl, 15-year-old Rosibel Sánchez Ulloa, did not bear outward signs of violence Aug. 22 when it was found.

She vanished on the way to school Aug. 18.


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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Aug. 29, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 170

 
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Irish firm will move
operations to here


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hospira Inc., a global hospital products manufacturer, said that it is closing a plant in Donegal, Ireland, and moving operations from that plant to others in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica within the next 18 months. 

The Donegal plant has 550 workers who will be affected, they said.  The company said that it will provide them with retraining, career development and other assistance, it said. 

“To be successful over the long term, Hospira must continue to focus on improving profitability through cost savings and increased operational efficiency while also producing the highest quality products that meet our customers' needs,” said James V. Mahoney, corporate vice president, global operations. 

Officials with the company estimate it will cost up to $40 million to close the plant and move its operations.  As a result, the company estimates that it will save $15 million annually beginning in 2008. 
  
 
Fútbol fans to find
border is friendly


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Immigration authorities will keep the Paso Canoas boarder crossing open 24 hours a day from Thursday through Sept. 5 so they can accommodate the soccer fans who will be traveling to Panamá for a crucial World Cup preliminary.

The Costa Rican national team will play the Panamanian team Saturday.

Johnny Marín, director of Migración, said that six more persons are being added to the immigration staff and that special attention will be paid to fans traveling as groups. A number of companies are offering group bus rates. Marín said that fans will be able to cross in and out of Costa Rica without leaving their bus because officials will conduct immigration interviews inside the vehicles once they have reviewed the appropriate documents.

Officials also said that meetings have been held with customs, the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo and the various police agencies to coordinate the work at the border.
   
 
Black legislators meet
here and also in Limón


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 75 delegates from 20 Western Hemisphere countries are attending the third meeting of lawmakers who are descendants of Africans.

The meeting, called in Spanish the III Encuentro de Parlamentarios y Parlamentarias Afrodescendientes de las Américas, starts today and runs through Wednesday. The event is followed Thursday and Friday by an interAmerican forum in Limón at which the topic will be the black legislator in the Americas. Among the organizers are Edwin Patterson and Epsy Campbell Barr, who both are members of the Costa Rican Asamblea Legislativa.

Delegates were hosted at a reception by the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto Sunday.
   
  
Youth in Quepos march
in anti-exploitation event


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The youth of Quepos marched through the streets there Friday as part of the Fuerza Publica's campaign to raise awareness about the agency's effort to fight the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, said officials with the Ministerio de Segurdiad Pública.

The campaign is running under the slogan: “Because our children have the right to be children.” 

The campaign started Friday and will cover eight more in the province of Puntarenas, said the projects creator, Juan José Andrade, regional director of the Fuerza Pública in Puntarenas.  Andrade hopes that there will be parades in each of the other eight towns as well. 

The parades are the third stage of a project that included a pamphlet drive by over 400 students to educate tourists and the general public about sexual exploitation.  The next step was to teach the youth of the area how to avoid becoming a victim of sexual exploitation, said Andrade. 
    
  
Shooting in San Pedro
kills student passer-by


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Stray bullets on Calle Amargura early Friday morning left one man dead and another with a bullet wound in his jaw, said officials with the Judicial Investigating Organization.

A confrontation between two groups on the street resulted in gunshots that officials said were fired at random.  One struck a 19-year-old man in the right side of his head, killing him.  The victim was identified by the last name Brenes.  A 23-year-old man was shot in the left jaw.  He is identified by the last name Zúñiga. 

Calle Amargura in San Pedro is a popular center for night spots near the University of Costa Rica.  
   
  
Limón man suspected
of killing coworker


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A Limón man is facing an allegation that he killed a co-worker during a robbery attempt, said officials with the Poder Judicial.  The suspect, identified by the last name Ortega, has been arrested in the murder of Taly Rivera Torres. Agents claim the suspect was attempting to steal firearms from the private security firm the two worked for, officials said. 

The robbery and Rivera's subsequent death happened early Tuesday morning at a toll booth in Búfalo.  Rivera, a guard supervisor, arrived on the scene on a motorcycle and was shot down almost immediately. Rivera has been placed in pretrial detention, said officials.
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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.

Real estate agents and services

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A saying for those who follow a different drummer
Irse con la música a otro lado

“Go with the music to a different place.” Though there are several ways to use this dicho, it’s basic meaning is roughly the same as the English expression: “Follow the beat of your own drummer.” You must listen to your own special music even if no one else recognizes the tune. Irse con la música a otro lado might also mean that a person must find that special place where there are others who can dance to the same music he or she does.

This dicho also takes several forms. For example, you can say Me voy con mi música a otro lado, meaning “I’ll take myself with my music to a different place.” Or Mejor me voy con mi música a otro lado, meaning “It’s better for me to go with my music to the other side.” And finally, Mejor se va con su música a otro lado, meaning “It’s better for you to follow your music to another place.” They all are related, but the meaning or the form depends on who is saying what to whom. If it is I who is referring to myself it’s me voy. If I am referring to you then it’s se va.

Irse con la música a otro lado can also refer to how people perceive you, either you are welcome or you’re not. In English, in such cases, we might say that a certain person — who seems to be out of sync with the rest of society — “marches to the beat of a different drummer.” This is a rather gentle way of saying that someone is strange, weird, or far out.

Another dicho that sort of goes with this one is: Ha cosas necias oidos sordos, meaning “I close my ears to such nonsense.” It’s a none-too-subtle way of letting someone know that you don’t care for their kind of “music,” and you’d like them to go someplace where they’re more likely to be appreciated.

In my work with international students at Indiana University I am constantly bringing people from all parts of the globe together. It could be said that I am
The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto

always working with a group of people who are all dancing to the beat of different drummers. And it’s interesting how, at the beginning, many of them have such very stereotypical views of one another.

For example, when Asian or European students think of Latinos they nearly always envision a brown or olive complexioned person with black hair who speaks Spanish. But they are often surprised to encounter blond, blue-eyed Latinos who speak Portuguese or black Latinas who speak Spanish or French.
 
Even though it is true that all these bright young international students may be hearkening to a diverse array of cultural “musics” the results need not necessarily be cacophony.

After all, even a symphony orchestra, which is made up of a diverse assortment of different instruments from violins to oboes to trombones, is capable of the most beautiful music.

Indeed, it is this very diversity of instruments that makes symphonic music so stunningly beautiful, just as it is human diversity that endows our lives with so much wonder, pleasure, excitement, and beauty.



Turrialba votes against use of the Pacuare for power
By Jesse Froehling
of  the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Turrialba responded with a resounding no when citizens were asked whether they approved the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Río Pacuare, said Eugenio Guido Esperez.  Guido is the coordinator of the Grupo Amigos del Rio Pacuare.

Some 8,000 people showed up at the voting polls Sunday and 97 percent of them voted no to the question: “Do you agree with the Municipalidad of Turrialba granting construction permits to build hydroelectric plants on the Pacuare river?” said Guido. 

Leading presidential candidate Oscar Arias has touted the potential economic benefits exporting hydroelectric power could provide to the country, but those in Turrialba decided to forgo such benefits in favor of leaving the river alone, said Guido.  The river is a major whitewater river rafting destination.
The object of the referendum was to close all the legal doors in which a new president or the municipality could hypothetically award contracts, said the group.

The Grupo Amigos del Río Pacuare said through E-mail that the Secretaria Tecnica National Ambiental conducted a study on the environmental impact such a facility would have on the river and, as a result of that study, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad abandoned any plans it had for a hydroelectric facility on the river.  However, this did not limit the possibility of one in the future.  

Guido said that there no longer exists any method in which a group could build a hydroelectric facility on the river. The organization campaigned actively against the ballot question. Official reports from the municipalidad were not avaiilable.

There was also an available ballot for the Indians living in the town with the question in the Cabecar language.


Packaging can tell pet owners which anti-flea product is the original
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The false Advantage products being sold in Costa Rica can be identified by their packaging, said Manuel Bermudez, a representative from the Bayer Co. 

According to Bermudez, Bayer animal products in Costa Rica are primarily imported from a plant in Kiel, Germany.  Those products say “Advantage,” on the packaging, the false products are primarily smuggled in from illegal makers in the United States and say “K9 Advantage,” said Bermudez. 

Bermudez was responding to a report that the fake products might have shown up in Costa Rica.

Gerald Thorman, the owner of two infected poodles who was quoted in the initial story, threw away the packaging of the product he bought and was unable to recall whether it said “Advantage,” or “K9 Advantage.”  And the product he originally bought was one of the two.  A.M. Costa Rica reported that he originally bought a package labeled “Frontline.”  This was incorrect.  However, Frontline, made by the Merial Co., also has an Environmental Protection Agency warning about it because  Frontline products have also been counterfeited, said the EPA Web site. 

Carl Wells, a veterinarian registered in both the United States and Costa Rica, wrote to say that it is important for consumers to understand that while fleas generally die rather quickly, ticks may take longer to kill.   
“Even after the tick is dead, it often remains attached to the pet thus giving the illusion that there was no response to the medication.  Drug resistance, especially by the tick, is constantly changing and could account for product failure. 

"I have noticed that the same Frontline that worked well last year in Guanacaste is almost useless this year,” Wells wrote.

The Frontline Wells used was purchased directly from the manufacturer so it is nearly impossible that that product was counterfeited.

When Thorman returned to his veterinarian in Santa Barbara, he said he noticed that the Advantage products had been removed.  They had been replaced by a product called Advantix he said.  That product is also made by Bayer.  The EPA has not issued a warning against it about fake lookalikes.

“I am convinced that the Advantage we bought from the vet here in Santa Barbara was fake and didn't kill one tick much less any of the crabs.  I also am of the opinion that the vet became aware of the problem either through his own failed applications of the drug or complaints from pet owners. 

"At any rate the Advantix we bought from them did work, a little slower than the Frontline, but both girls [Muffita and Mimi] after two days of application are now free from the despicable parasites,” he wrote. 






A report from CR-Home Realty
GRECIA:  The PERFECT PLACE to RETIRE??
If you are frustrated by literally thousands of so called "realtors," insane pricing and confusing Web sites as you endlessly search for the perfect property in Costa Rica . . . . STOP!!
 
We believe that the area of GRECIA offers far more than almost any other area of the country for retirees and those seeking a beautiful and peaceful home in which to enjoy life while enjoying the beauty and security which Costa Rica has to offer.
 
WHY?  ..... read on....

Grecia is Central . . . 50 minutes from San Jose, CIMA hospital, the Multiplaza, sports and cultural events. . . . one half hour from Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela . . . and a little over an hour to the Central Pacific beaches!

Real estate properties in Grecia are still reasonably priced . . . prices here are about 10% of what they are in Escazú and about half of what they are in neighboring Atenas. Grecia is affordable.

The mountains of Grecia offer the perfect climate: 68-82 degrees all year round.

Grecia has its own hospital with excellent professional services and great shopping.  Every Saturday the town is host to one of the best open air markets in the country.  Fruits and vegetables galore.

Grecia is known as the "cleanest city in Latin America"

No howler monkeys or sloths here, but the area is home to countless flocks of parrots and literally thousands of species of birds and butterflies.


Coffee bushes

Fantastic views


 Bustling downtown Grecia

Because of its location and agricultural base (coffee and sugar cane) Grecia is green ALL YEAR ROUND.  

Crime is extremely low here.  No one worries about walking around town at night here.  There are still petty thefts, but neighbors here watch out for each other.

Everyone who visits Grecia and the area comments on the simplicity of life here.  Life here does proceed at a different pace and the lifestyle here takes us back to a simpler time that nearly all of us wish for but cannot have.  Family is still valued here, and Sunday is family day when extended families get together without fail. 

The builders, contractors and craftsmen here are old fashioned. They keep their word, they are excellent craftsmen who take pride in their work AND they honor their contracts. Most importantly, the properties we have available are drop dead gorgeous! Views, rivers, waterfalls, coffee, sugar cane, privacy.  We most likely have exactly what you thought you could never find. 

If this sounds like Paradise (or maybe that we are exaggerating . . .) come and see for yourselves before everyone discovers Grecia.

CR-HOME REALTY     www.cr-home.com     011-506-444-1695   randy@cr-home.com


Gulf of U.S. braces for trial by hurricane today
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Gulf Coast states of Mississippi and Louisiana have declared states of emergency, in preparation for Hurricane Katrina, which is forecast to make landfall somewhere along the coast early today.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Louisiana's Kathleen Blanco issued the declarations as the dangerous hurricane strengthened over the warm Gulf waters Saturday and evacuations of low-lying areas began.

At last report at 10 p.m. Costa Rican time, the 11th named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season was 90 miles south southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 160 miles south southeast of the City of New Orleans. The slow-moving system had 185 kph winds as it moved in a westerly direction.

Katrina remains a very large hurricane, said the U.S. national Hurricane Center in Miami. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from the center, and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 230 miles, a report at 9
p.m. Costa Rican time said. A wind gust to 90 mph was recently reported from southwest Louisiana, said the center.

Hurricane Katrina slammed into southeast Florida Thursday, leaving at least seven people dead. The storm caused widespread flooding, toppled trees and left about a million people without electricity. Insured losses from Katrina's first strike are now estimated at $1 billion.

The storm is affecting air carriers that service Costa Rica.  Continental Airlines said flights to and from New Orleans, Gulfport and Baton Rouge, La., have been canceled for today and tomorrow. Flights to and from Lafayette, La., Mobile, Ala., Pensacola, Fla., and Fort Walton, Fla., have been cancelled for today.

Delays or cancelations also are possible in Alexandria, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Jackson, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport, the airline said.

Both Continental and American Airlines said they would not charge a penalty for passengers who change flights as a result of the storm.


Rural activists in Ecuador give deadline to foreign oil companies
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

QUITO, Ecuador — Activists in northeastern Ecuador have given foreign oil companies 48 hours to finalize an investment agreement, or they say they will resume protests that crippled production.

The activists Sunday demanded there be no changes to a deal reached in principle last week and called on companies to invest in communities where they drill.
A spokeswoman for the activists said the companies must respect the rights of the local populations.

A strike by locals earlier this month shut down exports from Ecuador's two largest oil producing regions.

Protesters damaged pipes and drilling equipment, forcing the government to declare a state of emergency.


Rival demonstrators in Caracas clash in the streets over election rules
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela — Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have clashed with his opponents who rallied here to demand electoral reform ahead of congressional elections in December.

Officials say six people were injured Saturday as the two sides skirmished in a volley of smoke bombs, rocks, bottles and fireworks. The injured included one
woman who was struck in the back of the head.

The anti-Chavez demonstrators say Venezuela's electoral board is biased and must be overhauled before the December vote. Chavez critics accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian and say he is trying to model the oil-rich country after Communist-led Cuba. The Venezuelan president has said he is working to improve the lives of the country's impoverished majority.


U.S. indicts 19 members of infamous Salvadorian street gang
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BALTIMORE, Md. — Nineteen suspected members of the violent street gang, Mara Salvatrucha (or MS-13) have been indicted on federal racketeering charges here.

The indictments, released Thursday, accuse the men of murders, kidnappings and other gang-related crimes from April 2003 to June of this year.  The 19 suspected gang members are accused of six murders and several attempted murders.
The crimes took place in suburban Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. 

The gang is traditionally made up of immigrants from El Salvador. Its U.S. activities originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s. An estimated 10,000 members are in the United States.

Federal agents and local police officers arrested many of the indicted gang members Thursday. The indictments are the latest attempt by the federal government to target the organization. 


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