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(506) 2223-1327        Published Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008, in Vol. 8, No. 196       E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
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Which one
is our new neighbor?


By the A.M. Costa Rica humor staff

The Nov. 4 U.S. elections are good news for real estate agents and others here who are concerned by a downturn in business.

If Barack Obama wins the presidency, there will be a flood of Republicans pouring into Costa Rica, fleeing the socialization of America. They will take the places of the brooding, unhappy Democrats who have been living in exile here for eight years.

Of course, there may be more Democrats if John McCain wins. Their presidential candidate represents their best chance in years to gain the White House, and if he fails, all that is left is exile to a small organic vegetable farm in very rural Costa Rica.

But that is not all. Thanks to Costa Rica's lax immigration policies, waves of mortgage brokers, Wall Street hotshots and bankers are even now getting their travel plans together. Dominical is much more inviting than Club Fed. Tamarindo sure beats the local county lock up.

The bad news for these new immigrants is that only females will be able to get political refugee status from the security minister. The men will just have to fend for themselves and dodge whatever

wall street getaway
U.S. criminal charges come their way.

And these former sub-prime princes and princesses will have a good choice of living spaces, thanks to the financial horrors their actions have sown among development projects here. A lot of other people have had to go home up north to keep afloat.

Of course, the country has a long history of providing a landing spot for fleeing U.S. criminals. As long as they bring money. Robert Vesco was the man of the hour after he arrived here in 1973 and donated several million to the then-president's favorite charity.

Costa Rica might be well advised to consider some of these eventualities in its overseas marketing.

Some possibilities:

If McCain wins:

They stole it again?
Come to Costa Rica where
Democrats brood.

If Obama wins:

We may be socialist
but we're not THAT socialist!
Come to Costa Rica where
Republicans can weep!

If the country seeks the banker's market:

Lost all their dough?
Come to where
you won't be extradited!

Of course, there are some who are justified in coming as political refugees. These are the government officials whose lack of action precipitated economic catastrophe up north. There should be special air fares and residency rates for fleeing members of Congress and bureaucrats.

After all Manuel Antonio is much better than tar and feathers.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 196

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'Typical' weather is expected,
according to meteorologists

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This is not the time to be living in a low spot. The rainy season has at least two more months to go, and the Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said Wednesday that typical weather could be expected today.

That means party cloudy mornings and downpours in the afternoon for the Pacific Slope, the northern zone, the Caribbean mountains and the Central Valley.

Such rain has primed parts of the country for disaster, and some rivers ran out of their banks again Wednesday. The humidity comes from the Pacific and turns into rain over Costa Rica.

Council set up for parties
to mediate with tribunal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The larger political parties in Costa Rica have become members of a Consejo de Partidos Políticos that is designed to serve as a mediator between the political organizations and the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones.

The council was inaugurated formally Wednesday morning with participation by Erasmo Pinilla, president of the electoral tribunal in Panamá, where such a council of political parties exists.

The Costa Rica tribunal said that there are 57 political parties in Costa Rica and that 20 already have designated representatives to the council.  They are Liberación Nacional, Acción Ciudadana, Movimiento Libertario, Renovación Costarricense, Unidad Social Cristiana, Unión Nacional, Integración Nacional, Accesibilidad sin Exclusión, Frente Amplio, Verde Ecologista, Unión Agrícola Cartaginés and Restauración Nacional.

Also, Auténtico Santaneño, Autónomo Oromontano, Alianza por San José, Auténtico Labrador de Coronado, El Puente y los Caminos de Mora, Unión Palmareña, Del Sol and Comunal Pro-Curri.

Not all of the parties are national in scope. Some are provincial and others are designed for just one canton.

Anhinga female
Nicaraguan grackle male
Photos by Rick Anderson
An anhinga female and a male Nicaraguan grackle

Rare bird roams disputed area
along the Río San Juan

By Dennis Rogers
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

While a dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica drags on in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, a rare and local bird unconcernedly ranges through the disputed area.

The Nicaraguan grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis) is restricted to the immediate borders of Lake Nicaragua and the Río San Juan, ranging into wet pastures and marshes.

The Cañas-Jerez treaty of 1858 clearly states that the San Juan is Nicaraguan territory, with Costa Rica permitted free use of its waters for “commerce.” This is an unusual arrangement given that most rivers used as international borders are divided equally. As most of the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica is drained by navigable rivers that flow northward into the San Juan, and until very recently had little access by road, free transit was considered essential.

Costa Rica is also to be consulted about major issues involving the river, which until the Panama Canal was constructed, meant the possibility of the San Juan and Lake Nicaragua being made into a trans-isthmus canal.

The issue simmered for decades with no particular relevance until the Arnoldo Aleman administration, apparently for domestic political reasons, in 1998 decided to restrict travel by armed Costa Rican policemen on the river.

The Nicaraguans argued that it was not “commerce” to have this semi-military presence on their territory. Formal arguments were presented to the court this year, which is also hearing the cases of figures accused of genocide, such as Charles Taylor and Radovan Karadžić.

None of this is too problematic for the grackle, judged of “least concern” from a conservation standpoint by the organization Birdlife International, despite its limited range and small population. Deforestation on both sides of the border may even be increasing its habitat.

A population also exists in the Caño Negro wildlife refuge in northern Costa Rica near Los Chiles. To visit the refuge, in the town of Caño Negro there is a public dock where boatmen await visitors. With a bit of haggling the price should be about $50 for two hours, which is enough time for a trip around the refuge especially in the dry season when water levels are low. Large numbers of waterbirds including herons, anhinga, kingfishers, and even the huge Jabiru can be seen. The lake is also well-known for tarpon fishing.

Note that the great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is common in the area as it is in most of lowland Costa Rica. It is twice the bulk of a Nicaraguan grackle and has a relatively straight tail, unlike the strongly keeled tail of the male Nicaraguan species.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 196

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Power monopoly seeking yet another substantial increase
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national electrical monopoly wants a healthy rate increase so it can make up money it said it spent generating power with petroleum-fired devices. If it did not get the money, the company said that rationing of electricity is possible.

The company, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, wants a 20.45 increase starting in October to run through May 2009. This would cover deficits in the power generating operations.

In addition, the company wants an 11.34 percent increase, also starting in October, to cover higher costs of distribution. In January the rate would go up to 15.15 percent.
Finally the company wants a 9.4 percent increase in October and then a 12. 64 percent increase in January to pay for the higher cost of public lighting.

In all, the new rates would raise 69.2 billion colons or about  $125.8 million.

Last April the company got an increase that was estimated to bring in half of the deficit, which is 72.6 billion colons, today about $132 million. The company did not explain clearly why it needs a rate increase of 69.2 billion colons to cover the remaining estimated deficit of about 37 billion colons.

The requested increases are separate from another rate increase that has been filed with the rate-setting agency, the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Púbicos.

Tempo of work will pick up for new autopista, officials says
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The company that is building the highway to Caldera said it will increase the tempo of construction in the western metropolitan area this month.

The company, Autopista del Sol, said that the center of work this week is at a new toll booth plaza in Escazú. The company is putting in nine toll booths.

The Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said that because of the work, toll payments are suspended on the highway, the Autopista Próspero Fernández.
Some detours are expected in the area of the work, officials said. They suggested that drivers use alternate routes or expect some delays.

The existing highway is being enhanced as step one of the project that will involve putting down a new roadbed from Ciudad Colón to Orotina.

The highway officials also said that new turnouts for buses are being constructed near Hospital CIMA and Multiplaza shopping mall. Later this month night work will begin for interchanges at Multiplaza and also at Guachipelín, they said.

It's official: Avoid those Chinese candies that are tainted
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Careful biting into that candy – it might just kill you.

In an announcement bound to make many a sweet tooth go sour, the University of Costa Rica found that the Chinese-imported caramels, sold under the brand name White Rabbit, contain toxic levels of melamine. The chemical is more often used for fertilizing crops and making plastics.

According to Ministerio de Salud official Maria de los Ángeles Morales Vega, each kilo of candy contains 120 to 310 milligrams of melamine, which is no small amount considering that the toxic dose for humans is 0.66 milligrams per kilo. Hence, someone weighing 20 kilos could become poisoned after consuming 10 to 20 caramels, while someone clocking in at 40 kilos could consume between 20 or 40 before experiencing any ill effects.

The health ministry first released a warning against the chocolate and strawberry flavored treats  Sept. 26, asking
  that consumers stop buying the candies until they could be tested further.

The consumption of melamine, the ministry noted in the warning, could potentially cause “stones to form in the kidney, which may lead to blockage of the renal arteries . .  or renal failure.”

Mexico banned the caramels in January, after health authorities in China announced that they were testing the product for melamine levels.

In China, more than 54,000 babies became sick last year after consuming baby formula tainted with the toxin. The chemical was added by milk dealers in dairy plants in order to fool health inspectors about protein levels in powdered and watered-down milk.

On Sept. 18, the national chamber of milk production in Costa Rica stated that no dairy products from China are imported into the country. White Rabbit candies are now likely to face similar restrictions, the ministry said.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Real estate
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 196

Survey shows that British are unaware of wars in progress
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A new survey by the British Red Cross finds most Britons are unaware of major conflicts in the world, besides Iraq and Afghanistan where the British military is engaged. Less than 1 percent of those surveyed identified the major African conflict zones of Sudan or Somalia.

When asked earlier this month by the ICM polling company, about 2,000 Britons could easily name Iraq and Afghanistan as two countries experiencing conflict, but after that it got much tougher.

Nearly 20 percent could not name five other countries currently feeling the effects of conflict.

Charles Antoine-Hofmann is with the British Red Cross, the humanitarian agency that commissioned the survey. "That is quite a striking finding as such for us because obviously there are a large number of conflicts around the world, which are not really spoken about, which are experiencing really serious situations when it comes to civilians being affected by conflict from both direct and indirect consequences," he said.

According to the International Rescue Committee, more people have died for instance in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the past decade than anywhere else in the world. The aid agency estimates that 5.4 million people have died from war-related hunger and disease since war first broke out there in 1998.
Despite this, Antoine-Hoffman says awareness in Britain is extremely low.

"There is certainly enough evidence to show us that this is probably one of the most deadly conflicts in the world and certainly more than Afghanistan and Iraq," he noted.

"That is not to minimize the brutality and seriousness of these places of course, but I think the Democratic Republic of Congo is a striking example, and there are other examples as well."

As Antoine-Hoffman says, the survey is part of a new British Red Cross campaign to raise awareness about all conflict zones and the brutal impact they are having on ordinary people.

"Obviously the whole point is not to put any blame on the public for not knowing about these places," he said. "It is a much broader and difficult problem in terms of the role of the media in talking about these situations and also us, that is part of our exercise actually when we are launching today the Civilians in Conflict month. It is really about raising awareness on these situations in these different countries and also on the effects of conflict on civilian populations."

Although the survey looked at just British views on conflict, Antoine-Hoffman suspects the same kinds of findings would probably occur elsewhere in the developed world.

Argentine farmers plan to start new six-day strike Friday to protest export taxes
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Argentine farmers say they will start a new strike Friday over the government's agriculture policy, renewing a bitter conflict with the administration of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

The farmers say the protest will last for six days and that grain and beef exports will be disrupted during that time. The farmers say the government has failed to respond to their demands, which include calls for lower export taxes. They also are voicing concerns about rising costs linked to oil prices and falling commodity prices.

Argentine Agriculture Secretary Carlos Cheppi has urged
 the farmers to call off the strike, saying the government wants to continue negotiations with them.

Argentina is one of the world's top suppliers of soybeans, corn, wheat and beef.

The farmers held a series of strikes earlier this year to protest the government's decision to increase export taxes on soybeans and other grains. In July, the Argentine Senate narrowly rejected the controversial tax increase that sparked a deep political crisis.

President Fernandez had defended the increase, saying the money would have been used to help the poor. The conflict caused President Fernandez's popularity to plunge.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008, Vol. 8, No. 196

A.M. Costa Rica
users guide

This is a brief users guide to A.M. Costa Rica.

Old pages

Each day someone complains via e-mail that the newspages are from yesterday or the day before. A.M. Costa Rica staffers check every page and every link when the newspaper is made available at 2 a.m. each week day.

So the problem is with the browser in each reader's computer. Particularly when the connection with the  server is slow, a computer will look to the latest page in its internal memory and serve up that page.

Readers should refresh the page and, if necessary, dump the cache of their computer, if this problem persists. Readers in Costa Rica have this problem frequently because the local Internet provider has continual problems.


The A.M. Costa Rica search page has a list of all previous editions by date and a space to search for specific words and phrases. The search will return links to archived pages.


A typical edition will consist of a front page and four other newspages. Each of these pages can be reached by links near the top and bottom of the pages.


Five classified pages are updated daily. Employment listings are free, as are listings for accommodations wanted, articles for sale and articles wanted. The tourism page and the real estate sales and real estate rentals are updated daily.

Advertising information

A summary of advertising rates and sizes are available for display and classifieds.


A.M. Costa Rica makes its monthly statistics available to advertisers and readers. It is HERE! 

Contacting us

Both the main telephone number and the editor's e-mail address are listed on the front page near the date.

Visiting us

Directions to our office and other data, like bank account numbers are on the about us page.

U.S. ratifies key treaty
to protect trademarks

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The United Nations agency entrusted with protecting intellectual property rights reported Wednesday that the United States has ratified a key global trademark treaty.

Warren Tichenor, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and other international organizations in Geneva, deposited his country’s instrument of ratification, noting that the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks will allow U.S. companies and those of other signatories to protect their brand labels abroad.

This pact, concluded under the auspices of the UN World Intellectual Property Organization in March 2006, is an update to the 1994 Trademark Law Treaty to bring it in line with the technological developments of the past decade.

It deals mostly with procedural aspects of trademark registration and licensing and eliminates some red tape in trademark registration.

Today’s ratification by the U.S. brings the current number of states party to the Treaty to eight, and it will enter into force as soon as 10 countries or intergovernmental organizations have taken action.

To date, more than 50 countries have declared their intention to formally join the pact by signing it.

Once operational, “brand owners will benefit from reduced transaction costs thanks to the efficiencies built into the Treaty, which simplifies and standardizes trademark office procedures,” Francis Gurry, the new Director General of WIPO, said, voicing hope that more countries will proceed towards ratifying the Treaty.

Car-buying  scam alleged

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For at least one fraudulent car dealer, her scheme for tricking unsuspecting buyers is all out of gas, according to police.

Wednesday morning the Fuerza Pública arrested a 37-year-old woman, identified by her surnames as Howard Calvo, who worked for a group of car dealers. The arrest was in Hatillo Centro.

The group operated out of San José by placing fake advertisements in a local newspaper, said police. When one victim responded to an ad, Howard Calvo gave him a bank account number and told him to deposit 100,000 colones as a down payment for a car, according to the allegation.

Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us

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