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(506) 223-1327        Published Monday, Sept. 4, 2006, in Vol. 6, No. 175       E-mail us    
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Lawyer locks up land just in time
SURPRISE! They're selling your property!

By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

An amazing scam unfolded in the past two weeks. Events surprised the buyer as well as the owner of a unique beach view property. 

Quick thinking and a nearly unknown legal maneuver locked and saved the property before the Registro Nacional closed Friday even though the institution again refused to take immediate administrative action in a suspected property fraud case.

The purchasers did not know they were buying something the true owner had no intention of selling.  The intermediaries involved would have received millions in the transaction.  Where the money would have gone is anyone’s guess. Scammers are scheming, crafty, aggressive and malicious people.

The intermediaries involved may not have even been aware of the manipulation in the property registry — thus they could have been innocent third parties.  They were asking enough money for the excellent parcel not to send up warning flags.  However, they were anxious to close the deal and wanted their money.  In itself, this is not strange. Most agents and brokers push hard.  They were constantly warning that other buyers were interested in the deal.

However, a California consultant to the would-be buyers with many years experience in Costa Rica did his due diligences at the national registry and read between the lines.  

The paperwork looked corrrect, but there were some filings over the past months regarding powers of attorneys that led the consultant to ask the intermediaries for original documents. They agreed but did not produce them.

Powers of attorneys end with the death of the maker, unless given by stockholders in a corporation or shareholders in a limited company.

This beating around the bush lead the consultant to find the name of the owner of the property so he could make personal contact via telephone and ask for an explanation.

The buyer needed to leave the country. The consultant needed answers.  What he found floored him.  The owner, shocked by the phone call, explained a spouse recently died and the family company holding the land was in an updating process. The owner knew nothing more except that people had been walking on the property.

The property had been put on the market by persons who claimed to have powers of attorney enabling them to sell the land.

Studying the national registry documents in more detail showed that people knowing of the death of the spouse hurried to take advantage of some of the language in the corporate documents to make the powers of attorney for the brokers.  Again, possibly the brokers were innocent to the swindle. There is no way of telling.  It does appear someone in the national registry was helping the scammer or scammers.

A.M. Costa Rica regularly reports that crooks read obituaries to find properties to steal.  The crooks usually look for foreign individuals who held property — not people who have died leaving legal holes in a corporation or limited company.  This is a new twist.

The long-time lawyer to the family scurried all last week trying to find a solution to lock up the property before the thieves could sell to someone, anyone. The national registry sent him to the Judicial Investigating



Organization to file a complaint.  Registry workers said they would not look at his paperwork without one. 

The attorney got all his paperwork in order and presented it again to the national registry.  The workers told him it would take days to review the documents before there would be any action to freeze the property.

Desperate for a solution, he remembered a conversation regarding freezing one's own property in the national registry in case of an emergency.  Some deep research pointed to articles 266, 267 and 268 of the Civil Code, articles 49C and 51A of the national registry rules along with Article 41F of Law 3883 of 1967 regarding registering property.

He put together a voluntary immobilization of his client’s property and filed it at 1:36 p.m. on Friday, one hour and twenty-four minutes before the institution closed.   His diligence saved his client’s property, which could have been sold over the weekend.

The initial buyer went home, not leery of investing in Costa Rica but well aware of the potential pitfalls created by stealthy scam artists and the importance of his consultant’s due diligence.  The consultant felt vindicated because he fought his own property fraud case for many years and satisfied that he had helped both his client and buyer avoid a long legal battle that would have left a buyer “in good faith” and an unaware owner battling for years.  Both are safe after being alerted to the fraud. 

The lessons here:   Education, experience, and a healthy dose of skepticism are the best defenses against becoming a victim of fraud.   Property owners and buyers need to know who corporate officers are. If they buy an off-the-shelf company, they have to make the needed changes in the corporate makeup.  They also need to know what the rules are regarding what corporate officers can do and what they cannot.  If someone dies, they need to get professional assistance to eliminate any legal loopholes. 

And they can use the voluntary immobilization of a property as a legal tool to freeze real estate assets in emergencies.

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.  Lic. Allan Garro provides the legal review.  Reach him at crlaw@licgarro.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, Sept. 4, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 175


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Weekend murder toll
is seven in four cases


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Seven persons were murdered in the Central Valley over the weekend.

A son, believed to have mental problems, is being held after the bodies of his parents were found Saturday night in Los Lagos de Heredia.

Two teenagers and a 43-year old man died in Barrio Noche Buena in Cartago Saturday night when a gunman or gunmen encountered them in a wooded area known to be frequented by drug users.

One man was detained by the Policía Municipal after the body of a naked man was found in Parque la Merced in downtown San José early Sunday.

Two men are being held after a 21-year-old man from Limón died after being shot in the parking structure of Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela about 5 a.m. Sunday.

The dead parents in Los Lagos de Heredia were identified as Marco Tulio Navarro Espinoza and Cecilia Granados Campos. Both were in their 60s. They suffered head wounds, according to the Fuerza Pública. They were found about 9 p.m. by emergency workers of the Cruz Roja. Taken into custody was their son, who has the last names of Navarro Granados. He was expected to be remanded for a mental exam.

Those killed in Cartago were identified as Jader Alfredo Carvajal Obando, 18, Johel Adolfo Pérez Quirós, 43, and Carlos Daniel Gómez Sánchez, 17. Fuerza Pública officers said that the killings appeared to be the result of a dispute.

Two men from Jamaica came into police hands at Juan Santamaría airport as a result of the investigation into the shooting there.  They have the last names of  Herroy and Stence, officials said. The dead man was identified as Rodolfo Enrique Bryan Calweel, 21.

Officers said they confiscated a .38-caliber revolver and a 9-mm. pistol. The victim died of a gunshot to the head. He was believed to be carrying a briefcase or suitcase containing a quantity of money.

There was little information available on the apparent murder in the downtown park. The man who was detained was in a state of hysteria. The park is a gathering place for Nicaraguans in San José, although not many people are in the park in the early morning hours.

Leave computers home,
law officers tell walkers


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police have taken the unusual step of telling pedestrians to leave their portable computers in their homes or offices.

The warning followed raids Friday in Hatillo in which two persons were detained. The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the two men, 23 and 25, are suspects in a wave of violent computer thefts in Pavas and Curridabat.

Among other items, agents who conducted the raid confiscated a taxi that has plate numbers equal or similar to one used in the robberies. They also said they confiscated a .40-caliber handgun.

The raids came as the Fuerza Pública reported two more robberies of pedestrians on the streets of Sabana and in Pavas and arrests.

Agents said that the Hatillo suspects are believed to have used the taxi and another car to approach pedestrians who appeared to be carrying a portable computer. The robbers would leap from the vehicle and confront the pedestrian and take the computer.

Computers are small, valuable devices that have been targeted in the past.  In addition, robbers in cars seek out persons carrying backpacks.

In Pavas Friday Fuerza Pública officers followed two suspects after robbers grabbed the purse of a woman and threw her to the pavement.  Arrested were men with the last names of Araya Alvarado and Arce Jiménez.

Three men were detained Thursday about 6 p.m. after robbers targeted a woman walking near Parque La Sabana.   A police chase followed the robbery, and officials said the car involved had been stolen.

The warning said that professionals, students and the public in general should avoid carrying portable computers during peak hours of from 6 to 8 a.m. and after 5 p.m. The warning was especially strong for those who might be on foot in San Pedro, La Sabana, Paseo Colón and Curridabat, said the press office of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

San Pedro is where the Universidad de Costa Rica is located. It is east of San José. Curridabat is east of San Pedro. Paseo Colón is the main San José street between La Sabana and the downtown. Parque la Sabana is the former national airport that has been converted into parkland.


Arias backs trade pact
in talk to social activists


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Óscar Arias Sánchez told church activists that globalization was decreasing the number of poor in the world.

He spoke Friday to the closing ceremony of the second Semana Social organized by the Archdiocesis of San José. Church members with social concerns have been among those opposed to the proposed free trade treaty with the United States.

Arias reminded his audience that Vietnam, which was engaged in a prolonged war with the United States, has signed a trade agreement and that Chile approved such an agreement without a negative vote in its congress.

"Today our country has an extraordinary opportunity to deepen its integration with the world," Arias told the audience, which included ranking churchmen.

Some social activists believe that a free trade treaty will endanger the social welfare state. But Arias said that without job creating, there cannot be a reduction in poverty.

Arias made many references to Jesus Christ in his talk. He also stressed ethics. Arias pointed out that his administration has created temporary jobs, doubled pensions and is seeking a new tax to eliminate slums.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 4, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 175








Walking the line between dreams and reality
Soñar no cuesta nada.

“It costs nothing to dream.” This is another popular dicho with varying shades of meaning.

Dreams are nice. One needs to have dreams, of course, but it may not necessarily be such a good thing to live in them. It’s true that dreams are free, and they often have been known to come to represent one’s goals in life and even to inspire greatness. But some would contend that dreams that do not become realities are only idle flights of fancy. In other words, dreams can become nothing more than cheap imitations of our true heart’s desire.

Of course, there is another dream world, which is the realm of the subconscious that most of us experience only while sleeping. I am a prolific dreamer, but I hate nightmares. So, I have tried to teach myself to wake up whenever one of my dreams is about to take a turn toward the horrific. Often I have been able to avoid nocturnal terror in this way. But sometimes I also find myself waking up in the midst of what was really a very enjoyable dream that I really would rather have slept through!

Clearly, the key word in today’s dicho is soñar. It means “to dream.” But if you ask someone: ¿Tiene sueño? You are asking them if they are sleepy. Also, one does not dream “about” someone in Spanish, but rather you dream “with” him or her. It is totally incorrect, for example, to say Soñé de ti, "I dreamed about you." Rather you should say Soñé contigo, "I dreamed with you."

Another opportunity to employ this very versatile word is when you’re describing a person – man or woman, as the case may be – who is very attractive. In this situation you might exclaim: ¡Ay, que soñado(a)! or “What a dream!”

Certainly we might also say that we dream of ending world hunger or establishing universal health care, or of peace on earth, but if we do no more than dream of such ideals they will remain no more than mere abstractions. While dreams may be inspirational and indeed very economical, they

The
way we say it

By Daniel Soto


nonetheless remain passive occupations. We might modify an old English adage by saying “actions speak louder than dreams.” But there are costs involved in putting dreams into action and therein resides the rub.
 
I have a very dear friend whose fondest dream is to have a house perched on a Costa Rican hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean. To one day own such a spot has been a goal of his for nearly a decade. The home that he would build in such a location is one of his very favorite topics of conversation. It is the source of almost endless reverie.

Each time my friend comes to Costa Rica we go looking at properties for sale. But also, unfortunately, each time we go looking at possible locations for his “dream house” the prices for such idyllic settings have rocketed skyward, thus making it harder and harder for him to attain his goal.

He is now approaching his mid-60s and, while it may be true that it is never too late to make one’s dreams come true, it’s not likely to get any less expensive either.

The moral to all this, if there is one, is perhaps that it’s OK to dream, but don’t let yourself become preoccupied with musings while a beautiful reality slips through your fingers.



A tribute to the personal qualities of Joseph Hamilton
EDITOR'S NOTE: The writer said that the personality of Joseph Hamilton was lost last week in his obituary that stressed his involvement with the Santa Elena expropriation case. We agree.

By Margaret Sohn
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

I am proud to say I was one of Joe Hamilton's many friends.  When you met him, you would find a quiet,

Joseph Hamilton
kind, gentleman, and you would never realize how
talented and accomplished he was.

Joe was a young private pilot before joining the Navy soon after Pearl Harbor.  During the war he was stationed on the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise flying a Hellcat, among others.   Because of his skill and daring, he was nicknamed Tiger. This was the same carrier the first President George Bush was on but in a
different squadron.  

After the Navy Joe pursued his interest in acrobatic flying and experimental aircraft.  He actually was one of the founders and board members of the Experimental Aircraft Association, which has its annual meeting in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, every year.  He maintained a plane all his life to enjoy his love of acrobatic flying.   Joe brought his bi-plane down to Costa Rica last year.
Joe learned his love of horses from his father.  He had a pony as a young boy and developed into an exceptional horseman by his college days.  While he
lived in Guanacaste, he kept many horses. When he moved to Santa Rosa he downsized, but one of his favorite activities in later years was riding his beloved Traino, a thoroughbred

Joe also had great love for his dogs.  His beautiful Ollie, a Rottweiler, gave his life warning off a puma.  The love between Flash and Joe was visible to all as this huge doberman would ensure that you knew Joe was safe with him.  He probably outweighed Joe.

Joe was a successful textile manufacturer in Greensboro, North Carolina, for many years before moving to Costa Rica where he was known as the King of Polyester. 

When I met him at AMCHAM he was involved in the same type of industry.  He also worked with many investment/trade committees that came down from the States to investigate doing business in Costa Rica.

Joe was also a generous man.  Whether it was computers and the room to house them for a school in Guanacaste, Salvation Army Angels, and others, it was done quietly.

Joe loved to cook for his friends and did so often.  He would also run around at Thanksgiving delivering smoked turkey breasts that he had spent days preparing.

Joe had many friends both Costa Rican and extranjeros who miss him a lot.  He was an exceptional man and one of a kind.



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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 4, 2006, Vol. 6, No. 175


Key highway being closed so lines can be painted
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

In order to apply lines to the highway, transportation officials are closing parts of the key Braulio Carrillo route from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, Wednesday and Friday and all of it from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

In addition, the highway will be closed for part of the route Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The stretch involved is the 18 kms. (11 miles) from the intersection of Santa Elena to the Río Sucio intersection, according to the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

The Consorcio de Demarcación Vial is the private firm doing the work. The highway is the main route north to Guápiles and points east, including the Caribbean.
The ministry said that the total closing of the road is necessary because of the climate that prevails this time of year. The paint being used will not stick to the road correctly unless it has a length of time to dry. Passing cars can damage the work, the ministry said.

Road marking is more labor intensive here than in other countries where automatic spray devices are used.

The ministry advised motorists to take alternative routes. One route exists via Heredia but it is much longer than the Braulio Carrillo highway, which is known as Route 32.

In addition road marking crews have been active over the weekend in Paso Ancho and soon will be at work in Tibás, Sabanilla, Alajuelita and other main roads in the Central Valley. Highway lines have nearly vanished due to continual official neglect.


Mexico's López Obrador promises alternative rule
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico's leftist opposition leader said Sunday he will never recognize his conservative rival as president, and promised to set up an alternative government.

Manuel Andrés López Obrador called on his supporters to sustain their resistance to an election process that appears ready to name Felipe Calderón the president-elect of Mexico.

López Obrador said he and his supporters will never recognize a president-elect who is illegitimate. He said he is going for deep change, to transform Mexico into a new country that is fair and honorable.
Last week Mexico's top electoral court threw out López Obrador's allegations of massive vote fraud in July's presidential election, handing almost certain victory to Calderón.

The court will declare the winner of the election by Wednesday.

Friday, leftist lawmakers protesting the vote count prevented President Vicente Fox from delivering his state of the nation speech to Congress. Fox delivered the message instead on national television.

Calderón led López Obrador in the official vote count by less than 0.6 percent.


Power company plans outages in Dulce Nombre de Coronado, El Rodeo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The electric company will be turning off the power Tuesday in Dulce Nombre de Coronado and nearby areas. Wednesday the outage will be in El Rodeo and San Pedro de Coronado.

Both cuts in power will be from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for preventative maintenance, said the Compañía
Nacional de Fuerza y Luz S.A.

The power company said that the outage Tuesday would be from the Servicentro El Trapiche in Coronado to Dulce Nombre.

In addition, electric users in adjacent areas might experience power drops and surges as a result of the work nearby, the company said.


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