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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, in Vol. 13, No. 174                 Email us
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Jo Stuart
Cascata del Bosco

A wish list for expats to give to the politicians
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The season approaches for campaigns, and the general election is Feb. 2.

Costa Rican law and simple courtesy prohibit foreign expats from participating in a candidate's campaign or donating money, although that last rule frequently is broken.

But there is no reason expats should not push for changes in the management of the country when they are directly affected.

Here is a wish list:

1. Driver's license: A provision of the new traffic law prohibits issuing driver's licenses to any foreigner who is not an official resident. This rule should be changed so that anyone who has applied for residency can obtain  Costa Rican licenses, usually by  recognition of an existing foreign license . Now expats who are waiting a year or two years for their residency application to be approved still have to leave the country every 90 days to keep their foreign license valid.

While on the topic, expats should be able to get their first license based on a foreign license at any issuing office instead of having to make a trip to La Uruca.

2. Firearms permits: President Laura Chinchilla has stripped rentistas and pensionados of the right to own firearms to protect themselves and their homes. Legal residents usually have to wait three years to become permanent residents and acquire a firearm permit. Yet pensionados and rentistas are some of the most vulnerable with many possessions and usually of less physical capacity that a gang of young toughs.

While on this topic, how about speeding up the permit process? Long lines and fingerprinting of expats who already have been fingerprinted are just techniques to make getting a permit more difficult.

3. Lawyer fees: Many expats buy a home or property in Costa Rica. At closing their have to pay 1 or 2 percent of the purchase price to the notary who documents the sale. A fee of 1 percent on a $400,000 condo is $4,000.  That is disproportionate to the work that a notary-lawyer might put into the deal. They should work based on hours expended on the job.  Of course, with the legislature full of lawyers, and the fees set by the lawyer's union, the Colegio de Abogados, there is little chance of this change.

4. Pensionado benefits: Years ago expats who became pensionados were allowed to bring in an automobile without paying import tax. There are still some vehicles carrying Pen tags. Other countries treat their new arrivals far better than Costa Rica. The legislature should consider restoring some of these benefits.

5. Illegal work: The informal economy here involving expats is huge. Call centers, gambling houses, bar and restaurants frequently have tourists on their staffs illegally. Some even have creative ways of paying their workers, like via a credit card issued by a Panamá bank. Costa Rica should lighten up and adopt reasonable rules to allow these people with an obvious needed skill to work here. Many are at the beginnings of their careers, so forcing them to be crooked can have long-term effects.

6. Instituto Costarricense de Turismo: This bloated government agency need a radical fix. What this agency does not know about advertising the country would fill a book. They have placed 
wish list

ads on New York buses, gave away free trips and now are promoting the country to the sub-teen movie audiences.  And they seem to be counting everyone who arrives at the international airports as tourists.

Many expats have tourism operations, and they are directly affected by the actions of this agency.  The ICT, as it is called, needs to define its market and use traditional methods to reach it in a transparent manner.

7. Beach concessions: Pity the homeowner who is being whipsawed by the central government and the municipality and seeing the annual concession tax or canon skyrocket. There needs to be reasonable approaches so concession property holders are not treated as if they were an international hotel chain.

8. Online purchases: Plenty of expats are afraid to make online purchases because they have heard of the red tape. Sometimes the government just confiscates the purchases. For minor purchases, expats sometimes have to hire custom agents to get the product through the labyrinth. The situation with medicines is even worse. A much-needed medicine that is unavailable here is confiscated because it has not been approved by the Ministerio de Salud even though the product is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. So expats mule in the illicit medicines. Didn't the free trade treaty cover this?

9. Double insurance: A rentista, pensionado or permanent resident must belong to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. The fees are going up. Those who do not want to get in line at 4 a.m. to get an appointment eight months later with a public physician, frequently obtain local insurance from the Instituto Nacional de Seguros or elsewhere to cover them at private hospitals. Those who purchase their own insurance should get credit for that and not be forced to join the overwork public medical system.

10. What is it with the exchange rate? Expats and exporters who receive funds in dollars have been getting skinned for years with an unrealistic exchange rate subsidized by the Banco Central. Should officials just let the rate float?

Costa Rica, a country that will not drill for its petroleum or dig up its gold, is in a difficult financial position. The current situation with half the national budget borrowed is not sustainable. Officialdom should be a little more receptive to retirees and others with money who want to live here an become part of the economy. And expat should not be shy about telling officials so.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 174

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A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Real estate agents and services

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Judiciary misplaces 22 fugitives,
and agents have to find them

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican criminal sentences usually are not final until an appeals court says so. Frequently, the convicted individuals are given liberty until the appeals court acts. That could be months.

This is why the  Sección Capturas of the Judicial Investigating Organization came out Monday with a list of 20 men and two women who are fugitives. They range from a Nicaraguan man sought to spend 20 days in jail to rapists and robbers. There also are drug dealers and murderers.

Not all of the fugitives skipped while awaiting the results of an appeal. Some were given home custody or other options that provide limited freedom. There are two rapists on the list who are being sought to serve 10-year sentences.

There are no U.S. or Canadian citizens on this list.

Heredia says it is tops
in municipal management

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad de Heredia reports that it has been ranked No. 1 on an index of management put out by the Contraloría General de la República. The rating is based on an evaluation using 61 indicators, said the municipality in a release.

The municipality got high marks for keeping the public informed, collecting trash and financial controls, it said.

The municipalities in the country are divided into four groups depending on their size and other factors. Heredia is in the top group along with political subdivisions such as San José, Escazú and Belén, it said.

Fire fighters will conduct
inspections of gas plants

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There are 10 plants in Costa Rica that put liquid petroleum gas into retail containers.

The  Autoridad Reguladora de los Servicios Públicos said that when many of these plants were checked earlier this year, there were many deficiencies. The agency said that some problems were life-threatening.

So now the agency has called on the Cuerpo de Bomberos to do the inspections. The agency said it did that because the fire fighters are highly skilled in this area and much of the work will be checking out systems against fires.

Preliminary book fair results
indicate it was successful

By the A.M. Costa rica staff

Organizers will not have solid numbers for a few days, but visitors to the XIV Feria Internacional del Libro  exceeded 30,000. based on preliminary estimates.

The  Cámara Costarricense del Libro was joined by the  Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud this year to sponsor the 10-day event.

A spokesperson said that sale appeared to be better this year than last. The event closed Sunday night. It was held in the Antigua Aduana on Calle 23.

British did not have holiday Monday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Monday was Labor Day in the United States and Canada, but not in Britain. A reader noted an error in the Friday story that said all three countries would celebrate workers Monday. The reader, Barry Ogden of Atenas, reported that May 1 is celebrated as Labour Day in Britain,. That is the same day that Costa Rica celebrates workers.

Drumming links the New World
with Jamaican roots in Africa

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Throughout the ages and around the globe, drumming has been used for communication, entertainment, and prayer. That is especially true for the Rastafarians who performed at this year's Sacred Music Festival in Jerusalem.

Nyabinghi drumming is sacred music, played as a communal meditative practice in the Rastafarian religion of Jamaica, and rarely performed in public.

As Jamaican reggae star Vivien Jones explained, it is a centuries-old link between the Caribbean and Africa.

“That's been in Jamaica since we were taken there as slaves," Jones said. "Slave master used to bang the drums. So the drums were there from the time we landed on that island, the drums were being played. So it was African drumming … all the way from ancient Ethiopia. All it did was it traveled in a slave ship to Jamaica and then it bloomed and blossomed again in Jamaica.”

It is a form of music passed down from generation to generation. Drummer Bonjo Iyapingi Noah started early.

"I grew up playing within the church," he said. "Before the elders would come up and play, we the children we have to play. We learn this all from the elders. The elders sit us down and they teach us what to sing.”

Bonjo plays with Drums of Defiance, a band of Jamaican musicians based in London. He says that although this is sacred music, the band is now beginning to perform it in public to spread the teachings of the Rastafarians.

“I was even thinking it was wrong for me to even record it. I’m going to make a Nyabinghi album because, the way I was seeing it is from the church, but now, as I said before, the teachings have to go everywhere," Bonjo said. "Everyone has to know what Rastafari is. Show the power of nyabinghi.” 

For their performance at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival, the band members are seated on stage. Some are dressed in white, and some are clad in vivid reds, yellows and greens, with long flowing robes and colorful headgear.

The musicians’ chanting often follows the call and response pattern that is typical of gospel and other genres of music whose roots are in Africa.

Biblical Israel is a core topic in much of gospel and reggae music. So when Vivien Jones had the chance to perform at the annual festival in Jerusalem, he didn’t hesitate. He invited the Drums of Defiance to join him.

"The importance of this place, Israel, from all our background, growing up as children, reading the Bible and things like this," Jones said. "Our parents are Christians, so it’s very special for me, because you feel a presence of a higher level of blessing and grace. You feel a presence of that. You can definitely feel it here.”

Nyabinghi drumming is ceremonial music for Rastafarians.  But, it is also universal.

“This music that we play, this music is music of love and upliftment," Jones said. "This music is for the whole world. It’s for all nations. It’s for us to get together. This music will draw everyone together, all nations together. We’re not singing of war, we’re singing of peace, we’re singing of love, we’re singing of caring for one another, your family. This is what we're singing about.”

Jones and the Drums of Defiance plan to take performances of Nyabinghi music around the world.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 174
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Development on the Caribbean pits turtles against projects
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The apparent rejection of a hotel-marina project on the Caribbean coast would seem to be the overture to eight more battles that will pit as many development projects against the turtles that nest on the Moín beach.

Environmentalists appear to be pleased that the Procuraduría, the nation's lawyer, has supported the annulment of an environmental approval for Moín Resort and Marina, S.A.,. And they list eight other projects they say will have an impact on turtles and the Río Moín and the  Cariari mangroves. Among these projects is a concession to a Dutch firm that plans to build a $1 billion container-handling facility.

Mauricio Álvarez Mora, a professor at the Universidad de Costa Rica, has outlined the projects and the possible negative effects. He also is president of  Federación Conservacionista de Costa Rica. He estimated that the projects total about $4.7 billion. They include state projects, too, such as modernizing the Moín port and the construction of a new petroleum refinery.

Álvarez also uses the name of Jairo Mora, the man who was murdered at Moín. He was a worker to protect turtles.

The  Moín Resort is directed by José Soler and his  SolerPazos
Group LLC. The project received environmental approval in October 2008 from the  Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental. But in 2012 the agency began to have second thoughts after the Contraloría General de la República asked about the mangroves. The concern was that the original approval did not consider the impact on the mangroves. The  Procuraduría finally gave its blessing on the extensive and complex procedure that went into voiding the permission.

Soler seeks to build on 208 acres with 8,200 feet of beachfront. The project Web site said 600 low-rise resort condos will be built along with 100 beach and waterfront villas and 110 waterfront estate homes. There are plans for a 500-slip marina for yachts up to 250 feet.  There also is space reserved for a luxury hotel, the Web site says.

The extensive development may seen out of place for the Limón areas, but the central government is seeking to boost the local economy there.

This also is the area where the Chinese National Petroleum Co. wants to partner with Costa Rica to build a large refinery. That project is not advancing well for other reasons, but environmentalists fear that the involvement by the Chinese will be a prelude to petroleum exploration in Costa Rica, said  Álvarez.

Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
Highway officials say that they are almost ready to open two temporary bridges over a washout on the  Circunvalación. The remaining work involved building
asphalt ramps to the structures. Work Sunday and Monday was impaired by sometimes heavy rain. The job is supposed to be done by this morning.

Sala IV freezes cane burning permits as new case presented
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Sala IV constitutional court has asked three ministries and the nation's lawyer to comment on a new allegation against the burning of sugar cane fields.

The case came from the  Asociación Confraternidad Guanacasteca and Air Limpio Vida Sana of Grecia. The organizations reflect the concern by many residents, including expats, who witness field fires at every sugar cane harvest.

The court has given the ministries of  Salud,  Agricultura y Ganadería and Ambiente y Enería 15 days to respond. This is a usual process. Also asked to comment was the Procuraduría.

The case is complicated because in 2002 there was a ruling by the same court that said the government should take steps to  mitigate the problem, said the complainants. The court at that time gave a deadline of 10 months that still has not been met, they said.
Sugar cane growers fire the fields to reduce plant materials and eliminate critters that might harm agricultural workers. However, the fires sometimes are gigantic and produce air pollution.

The  Air Limpio Vida Sana quoted  Carolina Rugeles, agricultural engineer and founder of the group:

“In agriculture the old method of pre-harvest cane firing is not consistent with current ecological philosophy,” she said. “Resultant pollution conflicts with the country’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2021 and causes enormous damage to the health of the population and biodiversity. 

"The contamination accelerates the accumulation of greenhouse gases, thus increasing the rate of climate change and global warming.”

The Sala IV froze new burning permits for 15 days, the  groups said.

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 174
Real Estate
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Our reader's opinion
U.S. military action in Syria would just further aggravate the problem

Editor's note: This is the text of a letter from a reader to President Barack Obama printed at the reader's request.

Dear Mr. President:

I'd like to express my views about the current crisis in Syria and my concerns about the appropriate response by the United States.  From news reports, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the U.S. will take some form of retaliatory military action.  I'm deeply concerned about the situation in Syria and throughout the Middle East. However, I fear that any sort of military action by the United States has far greater potential to further aggravate the problem than contribute towards a solution.

I am a Democrat and a strong supporter of yours and realize that you've been put in a situation that isn't of your choosing, with very poor options as to what the U.S. should do.  I certainly agree that the use of chemical weapons cannot be condoned or ignored and that, absent some action by the U.S. and the international community, it's likely that the Syrian regime will continue to commit further atrocities against innocent civilians.

I recognize that American power, prestige and vital national interests are at stake and we must act.  However, any action we take must be consistent with our position as the leader of the free world and with our ideals of freedom, human rights, respect for the rule of law, and a firm commitment to fostering world peace, international cooperation, and the right of all people for peaceful self-determination as to their own society and government.

In addition to being a concerned citizen and a supporter and admirer of yours, I'm also a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, awarded the Purple Heart and several decorations for valor, including two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal for Valor and the Presidential Unit Citation.  I know the cost of war but also appreciate the necessity of taking a stand when required despite the inherent risks, living up to the solemn oath taken both by you and by me to protect and defend our country.

It's obvious to me, and should be to you, that we can't force our ideals and values on other nations or societies by military force.  The only way we can lead is by example.  With regard to foreign affairs, we can only do so effectively through diplomacy and cooperation with responsible members of the international community. 

I know how reluctant you have been to intervene in Syria, despite the horrible tragedy of the civil war taking place there and suffering of the Syrian people.  However, it seems to me that the horror of the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons to slaughter innocent civilians is intentionally aimed at forcing the U.S. to act against against our national interests and those of our allies, not in their favor.

The reality is that we mostly likely can accomplish nothing positive or of lasting effect through the sort of limited military action that is now being discussed.  By doing so, the potential damage to our international reputation and to our ability to have any positive influence on achieving peaceful diplomatic solutions to the situation in Syria, as well as the Israeli/Palestinian negotiations, the crisis in Egypt, and the turmoil in other areas of the Middle East, as well as countering Islamic terrorism throughout the world, are all likely to suffer if we intervene militarily in Syria, particularly if we do so without very strong international support and participation.
Under the circumstances, particularly without the support of Great Britain and against the strong opposition of Russia and China, we are undertaking a grave risk with almost no possibility of achieving or even making the smallest contribution towards a positive outcome.

It's unfortunate that you were forced by circumstances to make a public statement last year that the use of chemical weapons would be crossing a line that would force the U.S. to take action.  We know that there have already been several times when the Syrians have made limited use of these weapons and the U.S. did not act.  Now that there has been a large scale, undeniable use of these weapons resulting in the slaughter of so many innocent civilians, it seems that you are being forced to make a decision and take action against Syria despite all of the reasons why it is against our nation interests to do so. 

You cannot let personal or national pride force you to “keep your word” to take military action when it is so clearly going to fail to accomplish anything worthwhile and at the same time is almost certain to further inflame regional conflicts not just in Syria but throughout the Middle East.

In short, Mr. President, with all due respect and with my sincere, personal admiration of your character and your desire to do the right thing, I urge you to abandon any thought of immediate military intervention, no matter how limited or how justified, in the Syrian conflict. 

The United States must seek international consensus and cooperation
regarding an appropriate course of action.  We cannot and must not go it alone down this perilous path of military action.  As you well know, might does not make right.  The only possible course of action for the United States with any possibility of success towards influencing peace and stability in the Middle East is through aggressive, effective diplomacy.

Mr. President, we have nothing to gain and everything to loose by military intervention in Syria.  Please consider the consequences, at home and abroad.  Take the long view.  Don't react to this provocation, no matter how morally repulsive and how much pressure is put on you to intervene.  It's the wrong course to take. 

I have a great deal of confidence in you and your senior advisors, particularly in Secretary Kerry.  Give him the job, along with every effort you can make personally, to work with our allies and with all responsible members of the international community, including Russia and China, to build consensus and to bring an end to this crisis through diplomatic means, if possible.  Only in the event of utter failure, should military action be considered and, even then, only as a part of a truly international military effort with majority support of the member countries of the United Nations as well as the support the U.S. Congress and the American people.

Whether or not you can see it from your somewhat isolated position in the White House, you don't have the necessary domestic or international support to take meaningful military action at the present time.  Listen to the voices of opposition and of reason.  In this case, they really are reasonable and are reason to abandon any immediate effort towards military intervention.

Sincerely yours,
James R. Scarborough
San Ramón de Tres Rios, Cartago, Costa Rica
and Somerville, Massachusetts

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Ready For a Vacation to Costa Rica? offers customized, upscale vacations to Costa Rica, planned by our team of in-country travel experts. Call us Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860 or locally in San Jose: 2296-7715.  We also offer trips to Panama, visit: Are you a fisherman? Our local experts will help arrange fishing trips to Costa Rica, just click HERE!

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COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 174
Real Estate
About us

New disclosure says NSA spied
on presidents in México, Brazil

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Brazilian government Monday summoned the U.S. ambassador over new allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency spy program targeted President Dilma Rousseff.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Shannon met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, following a report on Brazil's Globo TV that the United States spied on Rousseff and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The U.S. National Security Agency spied on emails, phone calls and text messages of the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, a Brazilian news program reported, a revelation that could strain Washington's relations with Latin America's two biggest nations.

The report late Sunday by Globo's news program “Fantastico” was based on documents that journalist Glenn Greenwald obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, was listed as a co-contributor to the report.

“Fantastico” showed what it said was an NSA slide dated June 2012 displaying passages of written messages sent by the Mexican president, who was still a candidate at that time. In the messages, Peña Nieto discussed who he was considering naming as his ministers once elected.

A separate slide displayed communication patterns between Ms. Rousseff and her top advisers, “Fantastico” said, although no specific written passages were included in the report.

Both slides were part of an NSA case study showing how data could be intelligently filtered by the agency's secret internet surveillance programs that were disclosed in a trove of documents leaked by Snowden in June, “Fantastico” said.

Brazil's government, already smarting from earlier reports that the NSA spied on the emails and phone calls of Brazilians, called in Shannon to explain the new allegations that the agency had spied on Rousseff herself.

Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo said the contents of the documents, if confirmed, “should be considered very serious and constitute a clear violation of Brazilian sovereignty.”

“This hits not only Brazil, but the sovereignty of several countries that could have been violated in a way totally contrary to what international law establishes,” he told O Globo newspaper.

Cardozo traveled last week to Washington and met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and other officials, seeking more details on a previous, seemingly less serious set of disclosures by Snowden regarding U.S. spying in Brazil.

Ms. Rousseff is scheduled to make a formal state visit in October to meet with Obama in Washington, a trip intended to illustrate the warming in Brazilian-U.S. relations since she took office in 2011.

Ms. Rousseff held a cabinet meeting Monday that included the country's defense, justice, communications and foreign affairs ministers to discuss a response to the espionage report. A presidential spokesman would not comment on the new allegations.

“We value our relationship with Brazil, understand that they have valid concerns about these disclosures, and we will continue to engage with the Brazilian government in an effort to address those concerns,” a U.S. embassy spokesman said. “Brazil and the United States are global partners and we agree that our broader relationship will remain vital and moving forward.”

Mexico's presidential palace said it had no immediate comment. In July, after initial reports of NSA surveillance of  Internet communications in Latin American nations, Peña Nieto said it would be totally unacceptable if it were revealed that the United States had spied on its neighbor and largest business partner in the region.

The United States is hoping to sell Brazil 36 F-18 fighter jets, but a Brazilian government official said manufacturer Boeing's chances of landing the more than $4 billion deal have been set back by the espionage scandal.

During a visit last month, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Brazil not to let spying revelations derail growing trade, diplomatic and cultural relations between the two largest economies in the Americas. But he gave no indication the United States would end the secret surveillance.

Kerry said the NSA surveillance was aimed at protecting Americans and Brazilians from terrorist attacks.

But Justice Minister Cardozo said Monday that the latest revelations based on Snowden's documents show that U.S. electronic surveillance goes beyond combating terrorism and has political targets and may even involve commercial espionage.

Until the report of spying on their president, Brazilian officials, while outwardly furious, appeared to be intent on putting the espionage scandal behind them so that it would not hurt relations with Washington and Ms. Rousseff's state visit next month.

Carl Meacham, head of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, believes Brazil has more to lose than the United States if the visit is scrubbed.

Ms. Rousseff, whose popularity has been hurt by massive protests in June against corruption and poor public services, might even make political hay out of the NSA spying affair, he said.

“Keeping this going is probably helpful to Rousseff,” Meacham said. “This helps distract from what is going on in Brazil, things like the economy and spending for the Olympics and the World Cup.”

Ms. Nyad achieves dream
by swimming from Cuba

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. endurance swimmer Diana Nyad has become the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida without the protection of a shark cage. 

Ms. Nyad swam for about 53 hours, covering a distance of 177 kilometers from Hemingway Marina in Havana, Cuba, to Smathers Beach in Key West, Florida.   

Onlookers crowded around the 64-year-old swimmer when she came ashore in Key West.

Nyad's lips were swollen, and she appeared exhausted, dazed and determined when she addressed the crowd. 

"I've got three messages.  One is, we should never, ever give up.  Two is, you are never too old to chase your dreams.  Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it's a team," said Ms. Nyad.

Medics then escorted the record-breaker off the beach to receive medical attention. 

At points during her swim, Ms. Nyad wore a bodysuit, mask, gloves and booties to protect her from poisonous, stinging jellyfish, and she applied a so-called sting stopper cream to her face.

Earlier Monday, a blog post on the Web site that chronicled the record-breaking swim said that as Ms. Nyad treaded water, she explained to those in boats that the jellyfish mask had cut her mouth and made it difficult to speak properly.  According to that post, with her goal in sight, Ms. Nyad thanked her support team for its generosity.

It was Ms. Nyad's fifth and final attempt to cross from Havana to Key West.  Her first attempt was in 1978, with subsequent tries in 2011 and 2012. 

Ms. Nyad has referred to the quest as a lifelong dream.   

The athlete's other feats include swimming around the island of Manhattan and swimming from the Bahamas to Florida, both in the 1970s.

Malaysia rounding up illegals
and could deport thousands

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

More than 2,000 immigrants in Malaysia have spent the night in detention centers in a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration that authorities say could deport hundreds of thousands of people.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told the press the 2,433 detainees were among approximately 8,000 people examined by authorities in dozens of operations that began Sunday.

“This shows the seriousness of the home ministry and immigration department. Ours is not a spur-of-the-moment action,” Ahmad Zahid said Monday, as quoted by Malaysia's national news agency, Bernama.

The home minister told reporters that so far, authorities have detained 717 Indonesian nationals, 555 Burmese nationals, 387 Bangladeshi nationals and 229 Nepali nationals. He said authorities also detained immigrants from Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, China, Nigeria and Thailand.

Officials say more than 400,000 immigrants could be affected by the operation. Many of them hold low-paying construction and plantation jobs, while others work as domestic helpers or in massage parlors.

Their labor has helped build Malaysia into Southeast Asia’s third largest economy. But as the economy has weakened, concerns have grown among some Malaysians that foreigners could push down wages and drive up crime.

The government has vacillated in its approach to illegal immigration over the past decade, from whipping and fining people for working illegally in Malaysia, to registering 1.3 million of an estimated two million undocumented foreigners for an amnesty program in 2011.

The crackdown that began Sunday is focusing first on immigrants who signed up for amnesty but didn’t finish the process.

It comes as Malaysia is trying to transition to a higher-skilled economy and is facing a slower growth rate than expected. The central bank recently downgraded Malaysia’s economic growth forecast from 6 percent to between 4.5 and 5 percent this year.

Malaysian authorities say they are working with foreign embassies to repatriate the undocumented workers. Home Minister Ahmad Zahid also said authorities will take action in accordance with international law to avoid human trafficking.

Malaysia is a destination and transit country for trafficking victims who suffer exploitation and abuse as forced laborers and sex slaves. The U.S. Department of State placed Malaysia on its Tier 2 human trafficking Watch List for the fourth consecutive year this year, because the government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for ending trafficking.

Insects and plant diseases said
to be moving to warming north

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Insects and diseases that attack food crops are moving to higher latitudes as climate change alters their habitats, according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change.

With the bulk of the world’s agricultural production today taking place in the temperate zones, the study raises questions about future food security in a warming world.

Plant diseases alone claim an estimated 10 to 16 percent of the world’s crops in the field, experts say, and destroy another 6 to 12 percent after harvest.

Meanwhile, research has shown wild plants and animals are moving toward the poles as the planet gets warmer.

And the U.S. Department of Agriculture is adjusting northward its map of zones suitable for growing certain crops.

“That got us thinking,” said biologist Dan Bebber at the University of Exeter in Britain. “Is a similar process occurring with pests and pathogens that attack our agricultural crops?”

To find out, Bebber turned to reports of first sightings of new insects and diseases around the world. The data came from the agriculture research organization CABI, which began collecting the information from developing and industrialized countries about a century ago and now tracks hundreds of pests and pathogens around the world.

Bebber and his colleagues studied 612 of them from viruses and bacteria to beetles and butterflies and found that since 1960, they had shifted toward the poles at an average rate of about 3 kilometers per year.

That puts some of the most productive farmland in the world in danger.

“As new species of pests and diseases evolve and potentially the environment for them becomes more amenable at higher latitudes, the pressure on the breadbaskets of the world is going to increase,” Bebber said.

Gap between rich, poor lands
shows up in health of women

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Health Organization reports women aged 50 and older globally are healthier now than they were 20 and 30 years ago.   But while women’s health has improved, a new study finds the gap in life expectancy is widening between older women in rich and poor countries.

The World Health Organization reports heart disease and stroke and cancers are the leading causes of death of women aged 50 years and older worldwide.  But, it notes these deaths occur at earlier ages in the developing countries.

The study is one of the first to analyze the causes of death of women aged 50 and more from a range of rich and poor countries.  It finds many of these women are meeting an early death because they live in countries that lack the money and resources to prevent, detect and treat non-communicable diseases.

The head of the World Health Organization Mortality and Burden of Disease Unit, Colin Mathers, says developed countries have the health systems and means to reduce and control cardiovascular problems.  He said screening and treatment programs also are successfully reducing the incidence of breast and cervix cancers.

He notes cervical cancer is one of the leading cancers in African women.  He says the illness is largely preventable, but African countries have fewer resources to treat it.

“There is simply not enough money to provide high quality health care to everyone that is accessible.  And, also a matter of human resources, that there often are not enough trained doctors and nurses and other health professionals in the country.  And, that is made worse by the brain drain where African nurses can migrate to high-income countries to get jobs in their health systems and so some of the training that is done in developing countries ends up not benefiting them," he said.

Mathers says donors give relatively little money toward the problem of non-communicable diseases in African countries because they tend to focus on reducing maternal mortality.  While this is understandable, he notes maternal mortality rates are going down substantially.  At the same time, he says death rates among older women are going up, so it is time for donors to rethink their priorities.

Thanks to improvements in health, the study finds women over 50, on average, have gained 3.5 years in life expectancy over the past 20 years.  It notes older women in Germany and Japan now can expect to live to 84 and 88 years respectively and women in many other developed countries can expect to live to age 83 or 84.

The report says life expectancy for women in the poorer countries is about 10 years less.  It notes women in Eastern Europe also die at an earlier age because of high rates of cardiovascular disease, accidents, and high alcohol consumption.

Mathers says major risk factors for older women include smoking, the harmful use of alcohol, overweight and obesity.

“Many of the problems faced by older women start earlier in life.  So, smoking, for example, people typically develop the habit at earlier ages.  So, it is not only about intervening in older years improving conditions and education and providing information to younger people can ultimately assist in improving health at older ages as well," he said.

The World Health Organization says the epidemic of chronic diseases can be reversed with available cost-effective ways to address common non-communicable diseases.  These include prevention, early diagnosis and management of high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol.

The study says inexpensive and simple tests for the screening and early detection of cervical cancer can save many lives.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Nicoya views
Maui, 50 years ago!
One acre with all services located on the Nicoya Peninsula at about 2,400 feet below cloud level with the most intriguing panoramic views to the picturesque gulf, mountains and valleys, as well as sunset over the Pacific. 60,000 USD,    Cell 8916-5550.

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site:  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email:

Liberia farm
Must Sell - Immediately
Guanacaste - Liberia Farm

9 hectares (24 acres)
$ 0.66 cents per square meter
Riverfront property and amazing views of 3 volcanoes
10 minutes from Liberia center
$59,500 plus all legal fees

Naranjo views


4254 msq. 1.2 acres - $59,000.00
• 10 minutes to the autopista and Naranjo centro
• Tranquil and Quiet
• Landscaped with fruit trees and flowering plants, and coffee#
• Incredible views - The Central Valley and nature reserve
• Close to public transportation - paved main road
• Building pad prepared and soil tested
• Survey/topo
• All services in place and underground - water/electricity/phone

Playa Palo Seco - Gorgeous beachfront 2-story home of roughly 2,000 square feet set on a half acre ocean front full of beautiful fruit and shade trees in Playa Palo Seco.
Playa Paol Seco
This home features two bedrooms, three full baths, high quality A/C units, huge front and backyard, and of course, a fantastic view of the Pacific Ocean just feet away from the front door! Playa Palo Seco is only minutes from  the tourist hot spot Jacó but far enough away to be quiet and tranquil. This is an incredible opportunity at $150,000! Owner financing is available! Visit for more information!

El Castillo - Up to 60-acre tract with breathtaking views of Volcán Arenal and Lake
Arenal are available. Multiple GORGEOUS home building sites are scattered throughout this area. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind piece of land that cannot be replicated. Perfectly suited for either real estate investment, homebuilding, or even a resort. Owner financing  is available! Please visit us at for more information!

San Ramon - Beautiful tracts of land of all shapes and sizes for sale in the San Ramón
San Ramon
area. Vista Rica Realty has been in the business for over 20 years which allows us to outcompete in not only selection, but also price. Oceanview homesites from only $30,000 with easy access to San Ramón. Up to 90-hectare fincas perfect for raising cattle or an off-the-grid project. Owner financing is available! Please visit us at for more information!

Guiones retreat
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or

Beautiful fully renovated house in Bello Horizonte, Escazu, 446 sq. meters. Four bedrooms; four baths. Price includes all furniture and fixtures - ready to move in! Light, bright and airy....$550,000 USD. Telephone 2288.6451. More details HERE!

Condo for sale in Flamingo

Ocean view 3-bedroom, 3 1/2-bathroom condo. Designer furnished 1,800 square feet, gated community. Only six units. Huge pool and balcony, pet friendly, parking, walking distance to Flamingo beach, banks, grocery store, farmacia, etc. New building. $349,000 asking. Ask for photos. 8705-0056. or 1-800-536-2322.

Guaancaate condos
Little Dreams La Colina Magnolias

Great Guanacaste Beach Condos Available

$28,500 - Little Dreams - Ocotal beach studio condo, furnished upper floor condo in great complex just 1 mile from Ocotal beach, 2 miles from Coco beach, great price for this complex.
$70,000 - La Colina - another Ocotal beach 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo, 80 m2 and fully furnished with upgraded kitchen, complex has Infinity pool, mountain views.

$75,000 Magnolias 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhome just 1 minute's walk from Coco beach and the 2 beach clubs in Coco. Nicely furnished, walk to town, 67 m2, perfect location.
Find out more information on these and other condos at my website All 3 of these condos are about 35 minutes away from Liberia Intl. airport, no need to drive a long way to get to your condo.  Call for more information, 1-415-670-9382 or 011-506-826-1211. Or email

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

Nicoya views
Property with ocean and gulf view for sale
Tranquil million dollar view, 5,000-sq.meter property with 3/2 home built to American standards, artistically designed and decorated, 16-foot ceilings of mango and tamarindo, appliances, plunge pool, rancho, caretaker apartment, workshop, covered parking, views of Gulf of Nicoya and ocean, in countryside near San José to Caldera highway. Near the lovely town of Esparza. Can provide extra income from bed and breakfast room rental and stellar Tripadvisor reviews. $180,000 506-8869-9274.

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

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Business for sale or lease (paid category)7115-12/16/11

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:

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 174
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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

Hurricane forecasters count
on supercomputers for help

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Hurricane season is the time when many Americans start to closely follow weather reports.
Because predicting the strength and movement of huge storm systems that bring destruction and death is of crucial importance, meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have invested in supercomputers that allow for better predictions up to as six days in advance of a storm's arrival.
Hurricane Sandy, which hit the U.S. East Coast in October last year, was the second costliest storm in U.S. history,  causing widespread damage and killing 285 people. At the time, some blamed meteorologists for not accurately predicting the path of the storm.
But according to Ben Kyger, director of central operations at the agency's College Park headquarters, weather forecasting is extremely difficult.
"You’ve got major patterns in the atmosphere, like the jet stream, but you’ve also got little eddies, little currents, little things happening all over the place," he said. "All these little changes are interacting with each other, continuously, all day long. So if you look at it from above, from a satellite, you see the atmosphere moving and churning in big ways and little ways."
Oceans, he says, are another factor because they closely interact with the atmosphere and have a huge effect on storms. In order to improve reliability of its forecasts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spent about $20 million on two new supercomputers that started building models of the weather patterns July 25.
"These computers generate the initial model guidance that the whole forecast process depends on, for all the weather information that you see, with snowstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, how hot it’s going to be today — all of your weather forecasts start with what comes off of these supercomputers," he said.
While the computational power needed to analyze data from weather satellites, ground stations and other sources is enormous, human brainpower and experience remains crucial to accurately predicting temperature, air pressure, humidity and wind speed.
According to Kyger, meteorologists at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction scan the same data the supercomputers get before issuing a forecast.
"They look at lots of different models, assess that and create the five-day forecast," he said. "They have a lot of scientific and subjective knowledge from doing it year after year. They know where the models are strong, where they’re weak and they give us significantly better forecasts than the models would do by themselves."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issues worldwide forecasts every six hours each day of the year. Access is free, a benefit to countries that cannot afford their own weather service. The agency has planned upgrades for its weather-predicting supercomputers set for 2015.

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From Page 7:

Small business gets its own emblem
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican officials have created a symbol so that small and medium companies that are registered as such can show the world that they are.

The firms are  those that have registered as pequeñas y medianas empresas
seal for pymes
known as PYMES.    

The  Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio and the Instituto de Normas Técnicas de Costa Rica have created this symbol or seal that can be put on the company letterhead and so on packaging for products.

The symbol is supposed to denote quality or adherence to environmental standards. There are four different types.

The PYMES are companies that have proved that they are paying taxes and also have provided the economics ministry with data about ownership. In exchange, those that are incorporated do not have to pay the annual corporation fee.

The companies also have an advantage when seeking business from  the central government, and they are promised quick payment by the officials.

There also are low-cost loan programs for these companies.