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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 176                          Email us
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Mar Vista


Tax cops sweep central Pacific for tourism evaders
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tax and tourism inspectors have zeroed in on Manuel Antonio, Quepos and Jacó in an initial effort to find tax cheats. The agencies said that other tourism areas also will be inspected.

The sweeps target apartments, homes and condominiums that provide housing for tourists. Inspectors said they found 50 locations that appeared to be operating illegally. The operations appeared to be ignoring sales tax, income tax and, in some cases, municipal tax.

All property owners have to pay a municipal tax of .25 percent of the value of their property. Sales tax is 13 percent, and income tax is 30 percent of profit.

Property owners have to pay the municipal tax directly, and there is no notice. For sales tax and income tax, business operators have to register with the Dirección General de Tributación. Inspectors had lists of those operations that were registered.

Those tourism operations that were found to be operating illegally were given opportunities to straighten out the paperwork with the agencies. The inspectors were from the Instituto Costarricense de
Turismo and the Ministerio de Hacienda of which Tributación is a part.

Government officials and many tourism operators have long complained of persons who were housing tourists without paying the appropriate taxes. In many cases, the property owners are foreigners who do not live in the country but may rent out a condo or a house through an agency or by long-distance. Such activities bring the income under the domain of the tax authorities.

Although many rental owners do not collect sales tax, that levy is assessed on short-term rentals.

The tourism institute said that visits would be made to Guanacaste, Limón, San Carlos and Puntarenas where there is a large number of tourists.

The tourism institute noted that requiring all to pay taxes guarantees that tourism services will be competitive.

One reason the tourism institute backed a successful proposal for an arrival tax on tourists is because officials believed that many operations were failing to pay a special lodging tax. That tax has since been eliminated.


Cocaine to go


Some 725 kilos of cocaine awaits to be loaded on a security ministry aircraft Monday after a U.S. warship and the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas forced a small boat to be beached north to Tortugero on the Caribbean coast. The crew fled leaving the drug behind.
drug load
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública/Paul Gamboa


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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 176
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Professional Directory
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.


Residency experts

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Our readers' opinions
Property rights are the base
of economy and freedom


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The theme is property rights — defining mine and thine — and any law circumventing what amounts to theft is a dangerous path.  It is a trend in the new World Order (vis-à-vis Agenda 21 to which Costa Rica and at least 178 other countries have signed onto) that property rights should be made irrelevant and that the "common good" should take priority. 

My view is that when elected officials dismiss the core of freedom to own that for which you have labored, they are in disregard of the principle of morality — "thou shalt not steal" — and we are in big trouble.  Thievery is not one of those "grey" areas. If you steal, you're a thief. If you lie, you're a liar. If you kill a person, you're a murderer. 

Who gets to decide these matters:  politicians?  What a great lesson for society and our youth of today:  it's okay to steal if the law allows it.  Next step in this slippery road:  it's okay to steal if "I' determine it's acceptable.  Today, it's ownership of land property and intellectual property.  What of our rights to freely use or transfer resources, to think and express, to travel, to engage in free enterprise transactions (hint:  many of these are already gone)? 

Individuals cannot trade what they do not own. Therefore, without property rights, there is no market exchange.  Without market exchange, there would be no market prices.  And on and on to economic chaos.  Whenever property rights are insecure, it undermines the individual's ability and incentive to create wealth.  Who would bother with invention if there was no compensation for the effort.  There may be many ways to live, but only one way to live free and prosperously, guaranteed through a system of well-protected property rights. 
Mary Jay
Alajuela


Law should target spitting
to reduce disease source


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

While TB does not appear to be of great concern in Costa Rica (I did a bit of research, and CR is not among the countries suffering high TB rates), I'd very much like to see the CR health authorities start working on the habit of spitting.

During the 11 years I've been resident in this lovely little country, I've frequently had to suppress my gag reflex because men and boys seem to think nothing of hawking and spitting on the streets and sidewalks. Indeed, it often appear to be a means of expressing displeasure with someone or something or perhaps simply exercising the right to be masculine. (I have yet to see a woman do this, though it undoubtedly happens).

If even a few of these habitual spitters have TB, how many bacilli get stepped on and subsequently tracked into homes where they are distributed on floors where small children play, and babies crawl? If it's not a problem now, it could easily become one.

If the government can prevent smoking in public due to the health-hazard it presents, surely it could at least begin educating the population to the dangers of public spitting the way it has regarding frequent hand-washing along with, covering coughs and sneezes to reduce the transmission of flu. "Bugs" is "bugs" folks. Be nice if everyone kept theirs to themselves.

Judy Griffith Gill
Puerto Viejo-Cahuita

 
Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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

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

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

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

Third News Page
RAdio PAcifica
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 176
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Humor always figures in some political campaign advertising
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The political season approaches rapidly in Costa Rica, and hardly anyone is brave enough to predict the outcome.

But one truth prevails. The television commercials and slogans will be more interesting than the candidates.

Even now groups of political advisers are in deep discussions with pollsters trying to find an opening in the public mind for their candidates.

They will capitalize on these desires expressed by the public to mold their candidate. Everyone remembers the image of President Laura Chinchilla who was characterized as being tough on crime. But when she took office, she turned the crime fight over to a U.N. agency with the result that one television commentator called “Blah, blah, blah.”

Who can forget the commercial for the 2006 election in which a character presumed to be Ottón Solís of Partido Acción Ciudadana squares off in the boxing ring with a figure disguised as Óscar Arias Sánchez. “Are you sure that Arias will win,” asked the commercial. He did but not by much.

Who can forget the slogan of Luis Fishman, seeking the presidency in the 2010 vote. His campaign characterized him as the lesser of the evils, El menos malo. Despite the humor, the Partido Social Cristiana candidate did not fare well at the polls.

Humor is a good hook for any campaign, but as advertising executives know, a television spot that is too funny causes viewers to forget the candidate or the product. That also is true of a television show that is too dramatic. The viewers are so involved they overlook the commercials. That also is the reason that commercial messages frequently are better produced than the show in which they are placed.

Self-deprecating spots sometimes are effective, even with humor.  But a good song can win votes.

One campaign song became a major hit. The Kingston Trio picked up a Boston campaign song in 1959 and sung of the
Oscar on the ropes
 Solís campaign video shows Óscar Arias on the ropes in a
 prizefight. The candidate characters also played chess.

woes of Charlie on the M.T.A., which is what the Boston transport system was then called. Campaign songs and slogans do not guarantee a victory. But they sure provide a laugh break for a tough campaign.

One problem is that humor sometimes rubs people the wrong way. Consider the case of Fernando Berrocal, who hopes to be the candidate for the Partido Liberación Nacional. He came under fire Monday for a commercial his campaign made that some consider vulgar.

The 31-second commercial shows a woman in a small store who becomes shocked when she sees the price of a can of food. With both hands she reaches around and grabs her buttocks suggesting that once more she has been violated by the economic situation. The goal of the video is to stop the nomination of Rodrigo Arias as the party's presidential candidate.


Tourism institute seeks producer to create video warning visitors
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo is seeking bids for a producer to create a video urging tourists to remain secure during their visits here.

The video is supposed to be in Spanish and in English. It will be distributed to hotels, airlines and other tourism operators.

The tourism institute has estimated the cost at 5 million colons, about $10,000 and has outlined the way it wants the video done.

Steven Spielberg need not apply. The institute said in a bid offering that applicants must have done videos for the institute in high definition at least twice. Applicants also need five years of experience.
The project was announced last week and the deadline for proposal is Thursday, according to the offering.

Also not eligible are the staffers at the U.S. Embassy. They made a humorous video a year ago that still is on YouTube HERE!

A forlorn tourist is victimized even before he left the airport. That is where he lost his luggage to a thief, according to the video. The man's visit goes downhill from there. He meets pretty girls in a bar, and when he wakes up, his backpack is gone. At the beach he leaves his car keys on the sand along with his few remaining possessions.

That's where he loses a sandal as well as the car. The full story is HERE!

Del Rey nightlife

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 176
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Building wall


The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad says workmen have finished a retention wall along national Ruta 217 in Alajuelita. The route goes to Poás de Aserrí . The washout was blamed on a geological fault and weather. The cost was 185 million colons, about $370,000.
building wall
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo

Tanker group blocks distribution of motor fuels in dispute
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

More than 100 tanker truck drivers blocked the delivery section of the national petroleum refinery Monday in a dispute over permits and old vehicles.

The Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía said the strike was without justification. Some 602 tankers have completed forms and are not involved in the dispute.

The ministry's Dirección de Transporte y Comercialización de
Combustibles requires registration of the tankers. In addition, older tankers may not be allowed to be used in the country.

The strike raised fears that motorists might not be able to find fuel. Some drivers were at the local stations Monday filling up in anticipation of a long confrontation between the drivers and the ministry.

The Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo is a state monopoly, and all motor fuel comes from its plants. The ministry may take some action today.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
shopping
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 176
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

U.S. Labor Day has changed
with decline of the unions


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Americans celebrated the Labor Day holiday, a moment born as a salute to the nation's unionized workers that now has often morphed into a day of family gatherings marking the unofficial end of summer.

The first Monday in September became an official U.S. holiday in 1894 to celebrate a workingman's holiday, and through the decades the country's industrialized centers often staged large parades honoring unionized factory workers.

But with the growth of technology and the globalization of the world economy, the U.S. labor movement has declined sharply. Many benefits sought by unions over the years, such as the basic five-day work week and employer-paid health care and vacations, have long been enshrined in much of the U.S. workplace.

Many U.S. corporations still actively oppose unionization of their workforces. Only about one-in-eight U.S. workers belongs to a union, about half the rate of 30 years ago. Many of union members work for local, state and federal governments in white-collar jobs, not in the gritty factories where the labor movement started.

The U.S. Labor Day is often celebrated as a day off from work with family picnics and outings, and in some communities it is the last day before children head back to classes for the start of a new school year today.


Eradication of polio nears
with final push, experts say


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The three countries where polio is still endemic — Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan — are conducting aggressive immunization campaigns to vaccinate more children against the disease. Experts say with India now polio-free and the total number of cases at the lowest level ever, this is an opportunity to change history and eradicate the disease entirely. To reinforce that commitment, many world leaders will be meeting in New York this month.

The oral polio vaccine has cut the number of polio cases worldwide by 99 percent since 1988. For the past 10 years, though, eliminating that last percent has remained a challenge.

Even though the total number of cases has declined, experts say every time they have knocked the virus out in one country, they have seen it pop up in another.

“We have the highest population immunity throughout the entire world right now, and we are really talking about just a few districts and a few countries with a population that has been missed for a fairly long period of time,” said Ellyn Ogden who is worldwide polio eradication coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Dr. Liam Donaldson, Britain's chief medical officer, who is head of the World Health Organization's Independent Monitoring Board for polio eradication, spoke via Skype, and said the board is especially worried about Nigeria.

“So our good news is mixed with continuing concerns," said Donaldson. "The numbers were coming down, but over the last year we have seen a worrying increase in Nigeria. Polio in Nigeria isn’t just a problem for the population of Nigeria. A lot of the outbreaks that have occurred in other parts of Africa have been fed from epicenters in Nigeria, so that’s why it’s very important not just for Nigeria but for other parts of Africa, as well.”

While polio eradication is urgent, Ogden said these last remaining reservoirs, such as Nigeria and Pakistan, make it difficult to put a date on success.

“It may not happen in the time frame that we are thinking or in the budget that we are thinking, it may take longer and cost more, but I think the effort and the nearness merit additional investments by donors and partners that it's still too early to give up on this ship," said Ogden.

Donaldson said that with 125 cases reported so far this year, one final push is needed to get polio eradication over the finish line.


Hackers in Austria create
a free, viable local Internet

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A group of computer programmers and hackers in Austria is creating a low-cost way of spreading Internet access across communities. FunkFeuer which means "network fire" in German, uses everyday technology to create a wireless network, called a mesh, that can transmit data from person to person, without involving companies or governments.

For most users, Internet access is a utility, like phone service and electricity. Customers pay a company to access the Web through phone service or cable TV lines. But FunkFeuer's equipment on Vienna rooftops is different.

It provides wireless network access across large areas using the same open radio spectrum as WiFi. But unlike traditional WiFi, responsible for small wireless networks in homes and offices, the FunkFeuer mesh operates over much bigger distances.
 
"You could do the same, of course, in a road, from window to window, and just sort of bounce along the road," explained Aaron Kaplan, a founder of the FunkFeuer mesh network.  "Then you don't need these complicated, big-looking antennas. You can take just small ones just like this and just put it in your window."

The key is to have enough users to put routers and antennas out in the open, so that every user becomes another provider, further extending the network. If one node has access to the Internet, all of the FunkFeuer users on the network do too.
 
Many look at the technology as a way to circumvent government Internet controls.

"It's very hard to shut them down, because you have to go after each single node, every single node owner," Kaplan explained.  "So it's not easy, it's not as easy as it was in Egypt, where you go to one ISP  which has all the Internet cables going through one building, and you just call them and say you need to shut this down. This is not possible anymore because it's so distributed."

Metalab is a so-called hackerspace in Vienna, where tech enthusiasts collaborate on projects like computer networks as well as radio.
 
Adrian Dabrowski was one of the first to work on FunkFeuer. Dabrowski recalled first playing with the then-new WiFi possibilities.
 
"There were these experiments, make an antenna and get not 20 meters but get 100 meters or get 200 meters and yeah, it was very interesting and suddenly you could build networks over a whole city and it was like a whole new world,"  Dabrowski recalled.

And here, collaboration with ham radio operators like Clemens Hopfer has led to a new breakthrough that has allowed them to send data by shortwave radio to receivers up to 200 kilometers away.
 
"If you want to spread links across a big country, it's not that easy to do it, but, it is possible," Hopfer said.

Programmers say the technology holds great promise - and to help spur innovation, all of their plans and technical memos are available free, online.



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Latin America news
Bill on confiscated goods
receives first approval

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers passed an initial reading Monday a measure that lets the Instituto Costarricense contra las Drogas make use of confiscated vehicles and other goods before a judicial verdict is rendered.

Now the drug institute must await a trial or verdict in the notoriously slow Costa Rican judicial process. Many confiscated automobiles and other goods deteriorate during the wait. 

The drug institute puts some of the confiscated goods into service. For example, some vehicles might be given to police agencies. But the agency also can sell them and generate funds, if the measure is passed a second time and signed by President Laura Chinchilla.


Taxi operators will get
a new financial package


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Taxi drivers will be getting a break to buy new vehicles.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio said Monday that a new program would be announced to allow a new financing package.

Taxis have a useful life of 15 years. After that the owner must replace the vehicle. There are 13,500 licensed taxis in the country, so about 500 vehicles a year have to be replaced.

The project is being done by the ministry, the Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Taxis, Banco Popular and the  Sistema de Banca para el Desarrollo.

Full details will be announced later today.


Jacó insurance office moved

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national insurance institute says it has moved its sales office in Jacó to the Centro Comercial Plaza Boulevard. The location is 1.5 kilometers east of Maxi Pali in that Pacific community.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros has 21 branches and 14 sales offices in the country. It recently lost its monopoly status with the opening of the insurance market to private firms.











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