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(506) 2223-1327               Published Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009,  in Vol. 9, No. 194            E-mail us
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Embassy guests can stay as long as 15 years!
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

José Manuel Zelaya is spending his second week in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa,  but he has a long way to go to top the record of those who would hang out in embassies to avoid the local government.

That honor goes to the anti-Nazi, anti-Communist cardinal of Hungary, Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty. The cardinal managed to get free when Hungarian freedom fighters rebelled against the Soviet regime. But then he spent the next 15 years holed up in the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.

There are not a lot of parallels between Mindszenty and Zelaya. Both wore hats. Zelaya is known for his big, white cowboy hat that he insists on wearing even indoors. The cardinal had a little red hat that signified he was a prince of the Roman Catholic Church.

The cardinal is a candidate for sainthood in the Catholic Church. No one but Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, has suggested that for Zelaya. Actually, Chávez was thinking more of a socialist martyr.

Mindszenty appears to be a model tenant. He arose before down, said Mass and generally comported himself in a quiet fashion. Zelaya, on the other hand, is continually on the telephone seeking foreign armed forces to reinstall him as president of Honduras.

Eventually  Mindszenty was allowed to leave by the Hungarian Communist regime. Zelaya has about a week to get out of the Brazilan Embassy and face the music from the interim Honduran
cardinal

government. A lot of Hondurans are upset with  his glorification of Chavéz and his effort to
become president for life just like his Venezuelan mentor.

Mindszenty was lucky. Cardinals generally are princes of the church for life. He failed to live long enough to see the fall of communism and freedom for the Hungarian people. It appears that Zelaya will not live long enough to see himself enthroned again as president of Honduras. But there is a suggestion that the Honduran people already are free.



Zelaya supporters kicked out of public buildings
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Honduran police have begun removing supporters of deposed president José Manuel Zelaya from government office buildings where they have been camped out to protest his June 28 ouster.

Police surrounded the national agrarian institute in the capital of Tegucigalpa Wednesday and removed about 55 Zelaya supporters. Farm workers had been using the building as temporary housing so they could take part in protests.

The police acted under the interim government's controversial decree restricting free speech and the right to freely assemble.

Pressure has been mounting on the de facto authorities to restore civil liberties and negotiate an end to the three-month-long political crisis.

Adolfo Facusse, the leader of an influential business group, has proposed allowing Zelaya to be reinstated with limited powers, under a plan brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Facusse also wants the ousted president to face prosecution on corruption charges.

The proposal suggests interim President Roberto Micheletti is losing support among the internal
factions that supported Zelaya's removal.

Micheletti has been denounced by the international community since he imposed the decree restricting civil liberties and shut down two broadcast outlets, Radio Globo and TV Channel 36, allegedly tied to Zelaya. 

The action followed Zelaya's secret return to Honduras last week. The ousted leader has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa ever since, and Micheletti gave Brazil 10 days to define his status.

Tuesday, a U.S. State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said it is time for the de facto government to have dialogue with Zelaya. He said the United States welcomes ongoing efforts by the Organization of American States to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The interim government says it forced Zelaya out of office because he was trying to illegally change the constitution in order to extend his time in power.

Costa Rican President Arias said Tuesday that presidential elections scheduled for late November in Honduras will not be internationally recognized as long as Micheletti remains in charge.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 194

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd http://crexpertise.com E-mail info@crexpertise.com Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Puriscal Properties
sportsmens update
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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.


Legal services

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Gasoline will take a dip
under new rate structure

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The prices of gasoline are going down. the price regulating agency has decided.

This is the fifth time this year that prices have been reduced. The Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos makes adjustments in the price at least every month based on the value of the colon and the world price of petroleum. Costa Rica imports all its petroleum.

Super gasoline will go down 26 colons (about 4.5 cents) to 575 colons a liter. That's about $1. Plus gasoline will go down 24 colons to 558, said regulators. Diesel also will take a dip, some 22 colons to 484 per liter.

Other petroleum products also will decline except liquid petroleum gas that a lot of Costa Ricans use for cooking and for heating water. That is going up slightly, some 13 colons per liter.

The new prices take effect at midnight of the day when the new rate structure is published in the La Gazeta official newspaper, probably in about a week.


Our readers' opinions
Prices and insecurity here
have continued to escalate


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I want to congratulate you on the articles that give your opinion on what Costa Rica is really like. Most of the information that can be found on Costa Rica is full of praise for Costa Rica and tells little about things that can be construed to be detrimental to the country.

In 1997 I went to Costa Rica for the first time . I was thinking about retiring in Cost Rica . I had heard good things about Costa Rica and wanted to check it out for myself. I spent three weeks down there . I rented a car and drove around the environs of San Jose checking things out . Because I only had survival Spanish skills, at the time , and the fact that there are almost no signs in Cost Rica I spent a great deal of my time lost. That was all right because I wanted to mix with the Ticos anyway . Mix I did. All in all I found the Ticos mostly friendly and helpful .

I found prices much higher than I expected, especially home prices. They were much higher than my native Texas at the time. It was really sticker shock.

I also was troubled by security problems . All the houses had bars on the windows. When I grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, in the 50s you could leave you front door open when you left your house and come back, and there would be nothing gone. It is not like that now, but we still do not have to fortify our houses to keep them safe. So , security was a big problem for me.

Over all , I really liked Costa Rica. It was the only place I had ever gone in my life that when it came time to go home i did not want to go.

I have gone back almost every year for two or three weeks since. Over the years Costa Rica has changed . Crime is up, prices are up . Security is down. Travel is more of a hassle. I am getting older.

So, keep up the good work. If i can't make it to Cost Rica as often as I did in the past, at least I can read about it in A.M Costa Rica.
Bill E. Pitts
Fort Worth Texas

Banks need to establish
their own good principles


Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The recent economic crisis has brought together two aspects of Costa Rican culture into an almost deadly cocktail in the banking sector.

The first is the Costa Rican inability to say “NO.” The banks would say “This looks good get us a little more information and we will probably say yes.” In the time of easy money, they could often say yes.

Then the second factor comes into play. The vast majority of Costa Ricans do not have the ability to do the work to make a decision. It seems to be a national sport in Costa Rica to refer decisions (and work) to others. Once someone finally has made a good decision, all others will copy him. But very few will take a decision.

(Note: A few Costa Ricans have overcome these weaknesses. If you are working with one, pay them well or someone else will hire them away.)

How have these two factors come together to cause havoc in the financial systems here in Costa Rica?

When the financial crisis hit Costa Rica, the banks became scared and decided to do nothing. They simply stopped making loans. This left hundreds of projects half finished. They had not said “yes” to these projects and so when they finally had to, they said “NO.”

An example is a constructed pineapple processing plant that has paid a deposit for the needed refrigeration equipment to finish, but the bank now says “No” to the financing of the needed equipment.

Many of the loans that were made during the easy money time should not have been made. They were made not on sound banking decisions but following the leads of U.S. and European banks. Witness all the white elephants in Guanacaste. The banks now find themselves being forced to refinancing all these high-risk, short-term loans or risk losing all. This takes money away from good projects and causes interest rates to rise, making them impossible. Increased interest rates introduces competition for bank deposits as people see greater returns from other options than savings accounts.

About 20 percent of the projects that are applying for loans are good, sound projects that are in  the interest of the country to complete but currently go unfinished, and all suffer as a result.

There are probably a few bankers, politicians, educators and businessmen who are capable of leading Costa Rica out of this trap.

These are some of the steps that would need to be done:

1.  Costa Rica needs to divorce itself from the “modern” banking principles originating from the U.S. and Europe. These have developed into self-serving principles as reflected by the billions paid in executive bonuses in the recent U.S. banking bailout.

2.  Sound banking principles must be learned. This will require considerable research, study and testing of historically proven principles for use in our current times.

  a.  Educators will need to throw out most of the existing textbooks on banking. This will prove a big boom for educators who can actually do research that produces results and are not just copying others ideas.

  b.  Bankers need to get busy, find banking principles that really works and start applying those principles so that Costa Rica can stably expand. The most difficult part will be unlearning the “modern” banking principles of the immediate past. Banks will need to share these principles with others to make it clear when proposals will be accepted.

  c.   Businessmen need to work with bankers and educators so that they understand which historical principles work best for them in this time.

  d.  Politicians need to lead all three groups to better banking practices.

  e.  All four groups need to work together so that as improvements are seen then quick action is take implement the improvement broadly.

3.  Bankers need to get busy looking for good, sound projects that are being proposed by men with a history of delivering what they promise. We are looking for projects that are producing or are increasing the production of others. These need to be given preferential treatment by the banking system.

If Costa Rica is able to do the above then I believe they could emerge as a world leader in banking and finance.

Mark Mobley

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to call us?

We're not trying to avoid you. We just are victims of another ICE problem.

It is hard to believe that our company telephones have been out of service  for at four weeks.

The workmen came and disconnected the phones in our old office before they found out that they did not have sufficient space to install the lines in the new office.

Calls to ICE are met with yawns.

You can reach us at 8832-5564.

But Internet is best.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 194

Yes, Virginia, there will be aguinaldos, Rodrigo Arias says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The announcement was sort of like shooting Santa Claus, and the central government is running fast to stem the reaction.

The minister of Hacienda, the nation's chief budget officer, Jenny Phillips, said Tuesday that the government did not have enough cash to pay aguinaldos to its employees. Aguinaldos represents a month's pay, and it is tradition, even legally required, to pay employes this amount in early December. The whole Christmas season runs on aguinaldos.
Ms. Phillips was trying to put pressure of legislators who are considering changes to the national budget. But she might just as well put a gun to the head of Santa Claus.

The government is one of the nation's largest employers, so the reaction was immediate. Unions and other employee groups expressed their deep concern.

Rodrigo Arias, minister of the Presidencia and brother to the president, said Wednesday that the government would pay the money to its employees. He expressed certainty that the legislature would pass the required appropriation.


Nosara residents cite success in beefing up police protection
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The head of the Fuerza Pública, one of Costa Rica’s top police official, flew into Nosara Monday with an entourage of officials to hear first hand from residents about escalating crime at this upscale beach resort.

As a result it appears that nine officers of the Policía de Turismo will be stationed in the Nosara vicinity.

The visit Monday originated from an invitation send by a small, unofficial, beach security group to the tourist police of Guanacaste.

He is Eric Lacayo, the chief of the Fuerza Pública, who first listened to almost 70 Ticos and expat residents and business people for almost an hour, and then promised help, including a follow-up meeting for Tuesday with the top prosecutor of Nicoya, as well as the regional head of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Many of the people present at this meeting spoke up and addressed the escalating, bolder and more professional home and car break-ins and beach thefts. As one resident testified, “My home has been broken into four times, costing me about $1,000 each time, and my car has been broken into twice and stolen.”

Residents complained of ineffective and corrupt local police, as well as prosecutors in Nicoya who release criminal suspects the same day they are brought before them, when enough proof was gathered by the Fuerza Pública.

Om addition. the Nosara police station has been ordered closed by the Ministerio de Salud for its poor working and living conditions.

Residents have also been petitioning and raising funds to support and attract a delegation of the relatively new tourist police to Playa Guiones, and to prevent the closing of the Nosara police station.

While the public was talking, Lacayo was already taking actions, making phone calls while listening.

Lacayo then congratulated the gathering, which he said is the largest group that has met with him over local security concerns.  With the chief of police of Nicoya, Mauricio Castillo, present as well as Jose Cruz, the regional chief for Guanacaste, he said he would take the names of police officers who engaged in improper activities.  Many in the audience submitted names of police officers suspects, written anonymously on pieces of paper and collected in a hat.  He also urged people to call 911 to make complaints, which can be done anonymously, he said.

Money cannot be spent on improvements to the Nosara police station by the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública until the land is properly deeded to the ministry, he said.  The lot is currently deeded to the education ministry of education and efforts to get the deed transferred have been started in the past, but never finalized. A group including the Associación de Desarollo Integral de Nosara is now working on this matter again, to 
make sure that the property is finally transferred.  In the meantime, a petition is in process to stop the health ministry from closing the delegation.

Lacayo said there were only 18 crime reports from Nosara filed in Nicoya from January to last May.  Most of those at the meeting raised their hands when asked if they had been the victim of a crime.  Residents were disappointed to learn that reports filed at the local station in Nosara were not
included in the official statistics.  But it was also said that many people did not feel that doing a report would be worthwhile. Tourists here for a week of vacation are not likely to take a day to file a report in Nicoya, and residents are also unlikely to make the hour-long drive, several people pointed out.

In response to another question, Lacayo said that the victims must file the reports themselves, rather than through a rental agent.  He also emphasized the fact that no matter how futile residents think that a report is, it must be done, so that their voices are heard, and problems can become statistics, therefore bringing more help to the community.  Lacayo made it clear that there will be no chance of getting an office of the judicial police to open in Nosara, but he promised to try to find a way for reports to be filed locally and accepted as part of the statistics, so that a trip to Nicoya would not be necessary.

He also made the point that it is great that the people of Nosara are willing to contribute financially to assist the police.  However he insisted that this should be a temporary solution, understanding the urgency of the request to be ready for the high season.

He recommended that residents look towards the future inevitable growth of Nosara and start planning for it by finding a location that would be best to build a brand new police station, able to welcome more agents as growth continues.  Once the lot belongs to the security ministry, financial help will be available for building.  Some of the persons present made sure that, when these new headquarters are build, there is a need to also keep the delegation where it is now, in the center of Nosara, so that there is a strong coverage of the extended community.

Lecayo promised a follow-up report to be presented at the Tuesday meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. at the FUCAN building behind the Kitson Library, including proposed solutions to current issues and a response to efforts to secure the tourist police.  He also promised to send advisers to help neighborhoods organize better communications to fight crime.

Residents reported that pledges have already been received toward an annual budget thought necessary to support six tourist police officers with office and living quarters.  Wages will be paid by the Fuerza Publica.  Following the meeting, Lacayo inspected the proposed office space, located across the road from the meeting at Casa Tucan. 

Tuesday  Xenia Chavez of the tourism police contacted organizers of the meeting to say that nine tourism policemen will be assigned to Nosara by the end of October. Even with the normal vacation and day-off rotations, five officers will be available, officials said.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 194


Consolidated property data base promised by 2011

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Consejo de Gobierno had ratified a proposal to unify the property data bases in the Registro Nacional.

That was reported Wednesday by Hernando Paris, the minister of Justicia, which supervises the Registro.

This is the agency that keeps track of property, automobile ownership and corporations. The Registro recently has been the object of criticism by the Contraloría de la
República for lack of security and separate data bases. The Consejo, the president's cabinet, confirmed regulations that will provide for a unified system of registration.

Paris said that with a unified property data base the government will be able to create a property map under a project financed by the Banco Interamericano de Dearrollo. The map will follow the taking of air photos.

The consolidated and corrected data base is expected to be available a year from December, Paris said.



Bridge work to close Costanera Sur Saturday near Quepos

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Transportation officials will be closing the Costanera Sur for 30 hours starting early Saturday to do work on the Savegre bridge, they said Wednesday.  There are no alternate routes.

Contractors are improving the bridge and will be pouring concrete. The route is expected to be closed until 6 a,m, Sunday.

The work is taking place about 20 kms. (about 13 miles)
south of Quepos and cuts the route between Quepos and Dominical. Part of the delay is because contractors have to let the new concrete cure, transport officials said.

The two-lane, $1.7 million bridge is about 70 percent complete, said the officials from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas
y Transportes. The bridge is 94 meters) 308 feet long).

In addition to the bridge work, contractors are continuing to put down asphalt between Quepos and Dominical, officials said.


   
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 194

Casa Alfi Hotel

Tango takes its place
as a world heritage item

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The tango, spawned over a century ago in the lower class barrios of Buenos Aires and Montevideo before bursting on to dance floors worldwide, has danced itself on to the United Nations-endorsed list of the planet’s intangible cultural heritage.

Together with dances of the Ainu in Japan, the Ashiqs in Azerbaijan and Korean and Tibetan ethnic groups in China, and others from Réunion island, India, Mexico and the Republic of Korea, tango joined a host of cultural elements ranging from France’s Aubusson tapestries to Holy Week processions in Popayán, Colombia, to be added to the list.

In all, 76 cultural elements were inscribed on the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, chosen by the 24 member states of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage at its fourth session in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The list was inaugurated last November in accordance with the agencies Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which seeks to protect the world’s oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, craftsmanship and knowledge of nature.

this weeks’s inscriptions ranged from religious ceremonies, like the Procession of the Holy Blood in Bruges, Belgium, the Panagyr ritual on the feast days of Saints Constantine and Helena in Bulgari, Bulgaria, and religious ritual theatre in the Garhwal Himalayas, India, to lace making in Croatia, a masked end-of-winter carnival in Mohács, Hungary, and the Voladores (‘flying men’) fertility dance of ethnic groups in Mexico and Central America.

The inscriptions comprise cultural elements from Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the ROK, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, and Viet Nam.



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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, Vol. 9, No. 194


Latin American news
Obama administration official
chats with top Cuban minister


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. State Department says one of its senior diplomats recently held talks with a high-ranking Cuban official.

Officials say Bisa Williams, the acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, met with deputy foreign minister Dagaberto Rodriguez several days ago in Havana. Williams was in Cuba for talks on resuming direct mail service, which have been suspended since 1963.

Williams also visited an area in the Western province of Pinar del Rio affected by recent hurricanes, and toured an agricultural facility. She met with Cuban dissidents during her visit.

The recent high-level talks are the latest moves aimed at improving relations between the U.S. and the Communist-ruled island since President Barack Obama took office in January.

In addition to talks on restoring direct mail service, Obama has lifted restrictions on travel and financial transfers by Cuban Americans to relatives still living on the island. The U.S. president has also restarted bilateral talks on migration issues that were suspended in 2004.

The U.S. has also turned off an electronic sign in front of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana that posted messages blasting former Cuban President Fidel Castro. The Cuban government responded by taking down several large black flags hoisted to block the view of the ticker.

Despite the gestures, President Obama has extended the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, which he says will remain in place until Havana takes steps towards democratic reforms.

Cuba says it will not negotiate on what it says are "internal" issues.
 

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