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(506) 2223-1327                                 Published Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 202                       Email us
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Putting cash in land can be a great investment plan
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Land banking gets a bad rap. It is defined as the practice of putting pieces of land together for future sale or development. However, scammers give the business a bad name because they make false promises to unsophisticated buyers who ultimately get burned.

Criminals bank money in land too, so they can launder it over time.

Sophisticated buyers, on the other hand, know that today's dirt is tomorrow’s gold.  They know real estate markets run in 15- to 20-year cycles. Costa Rica is no exception. The real estate market turned around in 2012.  It has continued to rebound with more improvement in 2013 and 2014.

Land banking is not limited to buying raw land. It can be buying or banking money in any property for a good return on investment. This process differs from what many expats do. They just come to Costa Rica and buy a place to retire without the end in sight. That is the key difference. A land banker buys with vision of a good, if not great, return.

Examples of this growth are in the news. To name only a few: Costa Rica’s newest luxury super yacht destination is under construction near Golfito, the Wyndham Hotel Group has signed a deal to build a resort here, and someone is advertising in The Wall Street Journal a small lot in Papagayo for $1.2 million. These events give the impression things are on the upswing.

Many of the project today began as land development schemes. Nosara, now a Costa Rican tourism jewel, was nothing more than pasture totaling 1,110 hectares (2,718 acres) from 1969 to 1972.  One man and a well-known Costa Rica law firm combined three farms to create two companies to sell land to foreigners.  He placed classified ads in U.S. publications including the Wall Street Journal to find buyers. 

The developer bought up those parcels for almost nothing, combining properties into sections and then slivering them off as small-subdivided pieces and sold those lots to the many buyers answering his ads.  He even offered fantastic payment plans making the purchase of a lot so attractive it was irresistible. Many people bought into the dream.

Nosara is not the only example. There are many others, including Paragon Properties during the last property boom from 2002 to around 2007. This was the time property buying went crazy in Costa Rica.

Scammers and thieves have hurt the country’s reputation.  However, the good news for investors is people have short memories. New generations come on stream about every 30 years. Costa Rica’s unbeatable beauty and diversity are very inviting.  Many baby boomers want to live here because of the country’s mild climate and great people. 

When people give up and sell cheap, that is the time to buy. Just as the time to sell is when they are nuts paying dumb amounts for property.

Banking in property, not just raw land but any type of real property if the price is right, is a good investment. There are many of these opportunities in Costa Rica today. The key is homework and due diligence, as in any investment strategy.

Where do we stand in the cycle? If the premise is true. the country turned the corner in 2012 and things are improving. Then 2015 would be year three in a growth trend. If real estate 

markets do run in 15- to 20-year cycles, then Costa Rica would be about 20 percent on its way to the top depending on one's calculations.

During the last boom, property values increased astronomically. This type of growth will probably not happen again, but even modest gains could possibly provide a very good return on investment.

The process of buying property in Costa Rica is relatively simple. Anyone of legal age can do it. The Devil is in the details, as people say. To start the process of looking for a bankable property, investors must educated themselves and decide on whether or not a long-term, non-liquid asset is a good idea for their respective financial situations.

A good real estate agent or buyer’s broker is necessary. Many do not know what a buyer’s broker is or does.  This person represents a buyer in a real estate transaction rather than, by default, representing the seller. The best news is they are usually paid by a seller or by a seller’s agent, thus making the work they do for a buyer free.

Once a property is spotted, and it is a banking opportunity, financial analysis should be done to insure a successful investment. It costs money to hold property. However, in many cases, there are ways to monetize the investment so it pays for itself.

Costa Rica does not have a viable title insurance solution. Therefore, it is very important to get the right professionals to assist in the acquisition of property. This is true for any purchase, not just buying property for land banking.

Everyone knows there is money in buying real estate. However, many do not buy property and make money. They lose sight of value.  In Costa Rica, many retirees buy a place and spend too much money remodeling. Putting $50,000 into a $100,000 house does not make it worth $150,000.  They figure this out when they try to sell.

Property bankers on the other hand look at buying property like putting money in the bank or other investment. It all comes down to return. Everyone knows Donald Trump is a great land banker and has the money to prove it. However, most do not know Bob Hope was almost as good. 

Garland M. Baker, a certified international property specialist, is a 44-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica. His firm’s team provides multidisciplinary professional services to the country’s international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a free reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2014. Use without permission prohibited.

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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.

Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
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Avoid Real Estate scams, get independent advice and have due diligence performed before signing or making a deposit.

Phone number: (506) 8853-0000


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Remodelling and Construction

Real estate agents and services

CR Beach
Jaco Beach Central Pacific Real Estate
CR Beach Investment Real Estate Broker-Owner
Jeff Fisher invites you to see why this 20-year resident of Costa Rica believes the Central Pacific areas of Jacó Beach-Playa Hermosa-Los Suenos Marina & Golf and Esterillos-Bejuco Beaches are the best place to live and invest.
Reason #1:  SJO Int’l Airport and S.J. suburbs are little more than one hour away.
#2: Jaco has everything you need, from tourist attractions to government offices.
#3: Amazingly, it’s still a BUYERS’ MARKET and our “brutally honest” agents will help you find your perfect property-
See why Jeff and Colin Miller (12 years here), Frances Winborne (more than 23 years), and Junior Diaz (Jacó born & bred) chose the Central Pacific!

Member of the N.A.R., the Costa Rican Real Estate Board CRGAR and the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 OR  2643-4334, 2643-3672
Office: IL Galeone Center, Jacó Beach, Costa Rica

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* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
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Morales says he has won again in Bolivia

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared victory in his bid for a third term in office.

Exit polls showed Morales winning with about 60 percent of Sunday's vote. His closest challenger, businessman Samuel Doria Medina, had 24 percent.

Speaking to thousands of supporters late Sunday in La Paz, the president described the vote as a victory for his model of governing. He dedicated the win to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez.

"This win is a triumph for anti-imperialists and anti-colonialists," said Morales.

Morales has led Bolivia since 2006 with a left-wing economic policy, nationalist rhetoric and a focus on indigenous rights and the environment. Bolivia's economy has averaged 5 percent growth each year he has been in office.

Despite the advances, the country remains one of the poorest in South America, and critics have accused the president of abusing his power.

Liberia is scene of a drive-by killing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Liberia was the scene of a drive-by killing Sunday morning. Fuerza Pública officers  detained three men and a woman after a chase that resulted in a collision with a patrol car, they said.

Dead is  Michael Moreno Rodríguez, 26. of Liberia. The Fuerza Pública said that the shooting took place at a store, but Judicial investigators said the scene was the public street.

The Fuerza Pública said that officers located a shotgun and a pistol in the suspects' vehicle. They said that some of the suspects have been detained on an allegation of illegally carrying a firearm in the past.

Judicial agents said that the motive is unclear.

Four motorcycle deaths reported

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The latest motorcycle fatality on the nation's highway is a 27-year-old man with the last name of  Villalobos, who died Saturday evening after being taken to Hospital México Saturday afternoon.  Agents said they were unsure of the circumstances.

A 20-year-old motorcycle operator died Saturday in  Hospital San Juan de Dios from injuries suffered Sept. 22. He was identified by the last name of  Fajardo

A motorcycle operator with the last name of  Chavarría died Thursday night when his machines collided head-on with with a passenger car, said Judicial agents. That was in  Desamparados de Alajuela. A companion survived. Agents said that the crash happened when the automobile invaded the lane in which the motorcycle was traveling.

Agents also investigated a motorcycle crash Friday in which a 19 year old with the last name of Blanco died. That was in  Los Chorros de Pérez Zeledón, The preliminary investigation report said that the motorcycle skidded about 6 p.m.

British airline adds Liberia flight

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thomson Airways says it will add a direct flight from London, England, to Liberia starting in November.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo announced the once-a-week flight Friday. The aircraft will have 291 seats and leave from the Gatwick airport.

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 202
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Church speaker

Illegal logging in Guanacaste linked to international criminal network
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Fuerza Pública reported Friday that it is battling what appears to be an organized effort to take protected trees from public and private lands. The police agency said that 26 persons were detained from January through September in cases of wood theft. Some 21 of the suspects were caught in the act, police said.

There does not seem to be a serious penalty for trying to steal the wood, which is very expensive overseas.

Of those detained, 19 were able to enter into a conciliation with officials, one was found innocent and one received 20 days in jail.

But even the convicted individual went free because the sentence was converted to conditional execution, basically probation.

Police think there is an organized crime syndicate to ship the wood to Asia because there are similar cases of wood thefts in Panamá and México, they said.

Police said they had confiscated 300 illegal logs. In one case illegal loggers engaged police is a brief firefight.

Police said that a cubic meter of cocobolo, the most valuable of the protected trees, can bring $2,500 overseas. In addition to cocobolo, the other trees sought by thieves include cedro, cenízaro, guanacaste, laurel, pochote and teca.

Tree thieves were reported to be using mufflers on their chainsaws so that owners of private land did not know they were stealing trees. In some cases, logs are cut into smaller pieces so they could be transported in car trunks, police said.

The bulk of the tree thefts are in Guanacaste province with the canton of Santa Cruz at the top of the list, police said.
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
This is a load of cocobolo logs police confiscated in April in Bagaces.

Pavón near Golfito hosts a flurry of earthquakes over the weekend
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four earthquakes havetaken place in the southern part of the country since early Friday.

The first was an early Friday morning tremor just 23 minutes after midnight. The location was in the Gulfo Dulce about 2.9 kilometers south southeast of Pavón.

This was felt in Puerto Jiménez across the gulf and in Corredores, nearby Golfito, Ciudad Neily and San Vito.

Then Friday at 4:53 a.m. a 4.9 quake took place 5.2 kilometers southeast of Pavón.

Although the quake had slightly less magnitude, it was felt stronger
in Corredores and  Ciudad Neily, according to the Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica at the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Another 4.9 magnitude quake took place in roughly the same area at 25 minutes after midnight Sunday. The epicenter was estimated to be 7.1 kilometers south southeast of Pavón. Again it was felt strongest in  Corredores and  Ciudad Neily.

Then at 7:39 p.m. Sunday there was a 3.6 magnitude quake in the same area, 5.3 kilometers north northeast of Pavón. This quake probably was not even felt by the residents, according to the Laboratorio's automatic monitoring stations.

Although there is a major and highly active fault running up the length of the gulf, previous quakes in the Pavón area have been blamed on a local fault.

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, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 202
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Contra war again in the news with movie about Gary Webb's reporting
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The journalistic integrity of U.S. media; an illicitly-financed, CIA-backed war against Nicaraguan Sandinistas; the crack epidemic of 1980's urban America: these are the main subjects of Michael Cuesta’s "Kill the Messenger."

In the film, Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner portrays Gary Webb, the real life San Jose Mercury News reporter who is warned against publishing information that proves the CIA turned a blind eye while its Nicaraguan allies, the Contras, smuggled cocaine into the U.S. to fund their war against the country's Sandinista government.

Defiant in the face of threats, Webb publishes a three-part series called "The Dark Alliance," writing not only about the well-known connection between the CIA and the drug traffickers, but alleging their large-scale smuggling operation had fueled the crack epidemic in predominantly African-American communities in some U.S. cities.

From there, says Renner, Webb’s life unravels.

“Big interests, big media getting scooped, making Gary the story or discrediting him or tearing the story apart, versus furthering the journalism, which is shame and travesty, if you ask me,” he said.

The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, which had not given the CIA-Contra connection much coverage in the 80s, dismissed Webb’s conclusions about the crack epidemic as speculative.

Eventually, his own paper backed down.

Renner calls it a typical David versus Goliath story — only this time, Goliath wins.

“Not to discredit the San Jose Mercury News," he said, "I just think the whole story became much bigger than any of them was ever used to, and [they] didn’t know how to handle it ... except Gary, who just needed more support to go and dig and find more truth.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry, who was the first to break the CIA-Contra story for the Associated Press in 1985, agrees.

“Webb did something that was very important that we did not do,” he said. “We had focused on the Contra movement and the importation of drugs throughout Central America into the United States. What Webb did was look at what happened when the drugs got here.”

According to Cuesta, Webb did not have direct evidence that linked Contra drug trafficking to the crack epidemic.

“It wasn’t nuanced enough," he said. "It was easy for the other papers to find flaws in it.”
Webb bok and movie
The movie vindicates the journalistic work

But Parry says Webb’s reporting had substantial merit of another very important kind: he and the black caucus finally forced the CIA to investigate a drug epidemic they helped to create.

In 1998, Inspector General Frederick Hitz released a report connecting the CIA directly to the Contras’ drug trafficking operations.

But, according to Parry, Webb's reporting ultimately fell prey to bad timing.

Published in the mid-1990s, he says, the story surfaced while large U.S. media outlets paid more attention to the Monica Lewinsky scandal than the hardships of crack-ravaged U.S. communities of a prior decade.

"The press was more fascinated by the president’s sex life than they were about whether or not the CIA had been involved with drug traffickers back in the 1980s," he said.

By the time the Hitz report came out, Webb’s career had been destroyed. He committed suicide in 2004.

Cuesta hopes his film will renew the conversation about the integrity of the press.

“If you call it a movie about indicting any particular establishment like the government, I think it’s more about media," he said. Parry agrees.

“The media should take this movie as an opportunity to reassess what it did," he said. "This was a terrible action by the major news organizations. And they should look at themselves and say ‘was our behavior proper?’ And I think if they did that they would have to admit that honestly it wasn’t. That instead of advancing a major story on a major scandal, they helped suppress the story about a major scandal. That’s the opposite of what American people expect of their news media.”

Vacation, travel and hospitality

La Fortuna
Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and wireless internet. Harry Hart, proprietor.  Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email:

Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
          the move.
   * Access the country's affordable health care system
   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
          and  Living in Costa Rica – the Official Guide to Relocation”
Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at

Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
and car rentals.  
Call 1-888.456.3212 or 2479-8811 locally.

Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.

Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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Real estate for rent
Real estate wanted

Real estate rental services (paid category)

See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

Real estate for rent (paid category)
Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80 stations, water, washer
 and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:

Beautiful fully furnished two floor house for rent
in La Guacima

Guacima montage
La Guacima, Alajuela. 20 minutes from airport, San José or Alajuela Centro and 30 minutes from Heredia. Near highway 27. $1,200 a month. All services included (Internet, water, electricity, security). Very private, very quiet, green areas, fully furnished. Must like animals (we have three gentle dogs), look at high resolution pics HERE! U.S. citizens or Europeans preferred. No children. Call to inquiry and for appointment to visit. Available for rent in December. Contact phone number:  (506)  8839-4315.

Organic farm home
$800 plus utilities.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS.

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part of Costa Rica.
We are offering homes for every budget and every need.
Please visit our Web page at or contact us at
or call at (506) 2654-5442.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

Apartments Lemur
Apartment Lemur for rent
San Francisco de Dos Rios, El Bosque, furnished, 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, quiet area, free cable TV, WiFi. large patio area, swimming pool, parking, security. Close to San José. $440/month. Retired persons preferred. Call 8375-6838.

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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page
Family home

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 202
Real Estate
About us

Islamic State militants said
to compensate for air strikes

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

America’s top military commander says Islamic State militants are adapting to a U.S.-led air campaign, making targets in Iraq and Syria harder for coalition forces to identify and eliminate. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, spoke one day after U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel described the task of defeating the Islamic State group as difficult and complicated.

Fierce fighting continues in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, where militants posted video showing battles being waged street by street and house by house, trapping civilians and swelling the ranks of refugees.  In Iraq, government troops continue to battle Sunni radicals outside Baghdad, where another wave of car bombs left a trail of human carnage.

But U.S. military commanders note Islamic State advances on Baghdad and Irbil have been halted, even as militants display new cunning in hiding their positions and movements in response to coalition air strikes. This, according to Dempsey, makes the job more difficult but not impossible to tackle.

“The enemy adapts, and they will be harder to target.  They know how to maneuver and to use populations and concealment.  So, when we get a target, we will take it,” said Dempsey, speaking on ABC’s This Week program.

During a visit to Chile, Defense Hagel acknowledged that it’s a dangerous endeavor but vowed that there will be no let-up in the coalition air campaign.

“The effort to degrade and eventually destroy ISIL is a long-term effort.  This is difficult. It is complicated.  It will require many factors: coalition partners, a strong, stable, united Iraqi government, strong Syrian opposition forces, and it is going to take a while.  It is not going to be fast.  It is not going to be easy,” said Hagel.

A more dire assessment came from Republican Sen. John McCain, who said Sunday the Islamic State is winning.

Dempsey said he still does not see a need for U.S. combat troops in Iraq, but could envision benefits of U.S. forces accompanying Iraqi troops in future high-intensity missions, such as to recapture the Islamic State-controlled city of Mosul.

Equatorial Guinea's playboy
to surrender U.S. holdings

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Equatorial Guinea's second vice president Teodorin Nguema Obiang has been ordered by the U.S. Justice Department to sell more than $30 million worth of property it believes was bought using illegally obtained assets from corrupt business deals.

The U. S. Department of Justice said the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president must forfeit his U.S.-based property and belongings, including a mansion in Malibu, California, Michael Jackson memorabilia, and luxury cars, which are believed to have been purchased using money from illegal dealings in his home country.

The civil forfeiture case, alleging nearly $80 million from proceeds of corruption, was originally brought against Teodorin Nguema Obiang in 2011.

Ken Hurwitz is a senior legal officer for anti-corruption at the Open Society Justice Initiative.

“It is an extraordinary case in that this is the first case where a living person whose assets are being seized. So this is historic in that sense," Hurwitz said.

"And it is the first case in the United States . . . the attempt is to seize assets that are owned by the current rulers, people who still maintain power in their countries,” he said.

Hurwitz said previous cases have all happened years after the person has died or left power, often making it difficult to track down and define the assets allegedly stolen by those individuals.

The Obiang family has ruled Equatorial Guinea for more than 30 years.  Despite vast and profitable oil and gas reserves, the World Bank says more than three-quarters of the population lives below the poverty line. 

Hurwitz said this case also showed how difficult it was to show how this level of corruption occurred.

“I think there is disappointment that the case will not reach its potential of really exposing in great detail how the corruption works, how money is laundered and how money is stolen from public funds of the country," Hurwitz said.

"And how extortion and self-dealing take place in the country and perhaps most importantly, how the money is laundered, that is to say the role of lawyers and middlemen, bankers and brokers, in assisting to grease the wheels of the accused," he said.

Obiang, who is notorious for his lavish lifestyle and playboy ways, said all the items were purchased using money from legal business deals.

The Open Society Justice Initiative said that money from the sale of Obiang’s U.S.-based belongings would be given to charitable organizations to benefit the people of Equatorial Guinea.

Under a settlement with the Justice Department, Obiang will get to keep his remaining overseas assets, including Michael Jackson’s famous white crystal glove and a $38.5 million Gulfstream jet, although they could be seized if brought to the United States.

French writer on Jewishness
tapped for 2014 Nobel Prize

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

French novelist Patrick Modiano has won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature for his lifelong exploration of the Nazi occupation and its effect on his country.

In Stockholm, the Swedish Academy said Thursday it awarded the $1.1 million prize to the 69-year-old Modiano "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies" while uncovering life under German control.

Modiano was born in a Paris suburb in July 1945, two months after World War II ended in Europe. His father was of Jewish-Italian heritage and had met his Belgian actress mother during the occupation of Paris.

Jewishness, the Nazi occupation and the loss of identity were recurring themes in his novels. One of his works, 1968's "La Place de l'Etoile," was heralded in Germany as an important piece of post-Holocaust literature.

Some of his works have been translated into English, including the novels "A Trace of Malice," "Honeymoon" and "Missing Person."

Modiano becomes the 107th literature laureate and the 11th winner from France.  He joins the ranks of other popular writers such as John Steinbeck, William Faulkner and Pablo Neruda.

Former California governor
leads climate change effort

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Paris wrapped up the first-ever summit on regional efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, with new pledges to combat climate change a year ahead of a key U.N. summit.  Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger presided over the regional conference.

The World Summit of Regions for Climate ended with a flurry of signatures, as political and business leaders from around the world inked a Paris declaration, laying down commitments to tackle climate change through concrete actions. It also calls on nations to reach an ambitious agreement to cut greenhouse gases when they gather for a United Nations climate change summit in Paris next year.

The meeting was organized by the R20 regions, an environmental group founded by Schwarzenegger. He spoke to reporters in Paris following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande.

"We are big believers in the regional approach, in the subnational approach. That while, maybe, the U.N. will come to an agreement right away - and hopefully when they have the negotiations in Paris, they will come to an agreement - but to utilize also the subnational governments. Because we in California have been very successful without the help of the national government."

During his two terms as California governor, Schwarzenegger earned a reputation as a climate change activist who pushed for clean air and renewable energy programs.

The United Nations is pushing for an international climate agreement in Paris next year that will limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels.

French climatologist Jean Jouzel described two global warming scenarios: One in which the climate heated up just two degrees, compared with another in which global warming doubled to four degrees by the end of the century. He described effects of climate change, including typhoons and droughts, loss of biodiversity and coral reefs. He said humans had a much greater chance of adapting with a more moderate temperature change.

But reaching the two degree goal will be difficult. A monitor of countries' climate policies called the Climate Action Tracker currently shows the world remains on track for a 3.7 degree warming by the end of the century.

The Paris climate meeting took place as French lawmakers are voting on an ambitious bill that aims to halve France's energy consumption by 2050, and cut down on nuclear power use in favor of renewables.

Obama orders a probe
of nurse's ebola case

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama called for immediate steps to ensure the U.S. medical system is ready to follow the proper protocol for treating ebola patients.

Obama spoke Sunday with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell about the first case of ebola transmission in the United States.

Obama ordered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to quickly investigate how a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital contracted the virus.

The nurse was part of the team treating the first ebola patient to be diagnosed in the United States, Thomas Duncan, who died last week.

Texas officials say the health worker wore full protective gear and complied with centers guidelines when she had contact with Duncan.

Centers Director Tom Frieden said the fact the worker was infected with ebola shows there was a breach of protocol.

Frieden said, at this time, it appears only one person may have had contact with the health care worker while she may have been infectious. However, the case in Texas indicated a professional lapse that may have caused other health workers at the hospital to also be infected, he added.

Initial testing showed that the level of virus in the worker's system is low. The  Centers for Disease Control will conduct a secondary test to confirm the results from a lab in Austin that showed ebola infection, he said.

“Unfortunately it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of ebola,” Frieden added.

A union for registered nurses said the Texas health care worker's case in Dallas showed that not enough is being done to educate health workers on how to manage patients who show signs of infection.

“Handing out a piece of paper with a link to the Centers for Disease Control, or telling nurses just to look at the CDC Web site, as we have heard some hospitals are doing, is not preparedness,” said Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and senior official with National Nurses United.

Meanwhile, in Spain, authorities said a woman in Madrid infected with ebola remains in serious condition but is showing signs of slight improvement and that the level of virus in her blood is decreasing.

The new U.S. case comes as several airports begin a stepped-up program to screen passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where thousands of people have died from the virus.

Authorities at New York's JFK International Airport are taking passengers' temperatures and asking them questions to determine whether they may have come into contact with an infected person.

The enhanced screening will expand to four other airports Thursday, including the Newark airport in New Jersey, Washington's Dulles Airport, Chicago's O'Hare and the international airport in Atlanta.

Together, the five airports receive more than 90 percent of all travelers entering the United States from the three worst-affected West African countries.

Britain is also introducing ebola screening at certain airports and train stations.

The World Health Organization says the ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 4,000 people with about 8,400 reported cases.

Outside of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, eight people died in Nigeria and one patient died in the United States.

Alzheimer's replicated
in laboratory petri dish

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Scientists in the United States report a breakthrough in their efforts to find a treatment for Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia.

They call it Alzheimer's in a Dish, having successfully reproduced the disease in human brain cells in a laboratory petri dish.

Lead researcher Rudolph Tanzi of Massachusetts General Hospital in the northeastern city of Boston says they grew the brain cells in a gel, then added genes for Alzheimer's. He says the cells soon developed hard clumps known as plaques, and coils known as tangles, both features of Alzheimer's that disrupt normal brain activity.

Tanzi says this breakthrough will help reduce the time and cost of drug development. Until now, researchers had to study the disease in mice, a process that can be very time consuming.

With the petri dish system, Tanzi says scientists can not only test thousands of drugs in a matter of months but also reduce the cost of testing.

News of the breakthrough was published Sunday in the journal Nature.

U.S. women's volleyballers
take 1st world championship

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. women's volleyball team has won its first-ever world championship, beating China in Sunday's final in Milan, Italy, three sets to one (27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24).

Top-ranked Brazil ended up with the bronze medal, outlasting host Italy in the maximum five sets.

To reach the title match, the U.S. women had upset Brazil Saturday, winning in straight sets. Brazil defeated the U.S. in the gold medal match at the last Olympics, when the U.S. was ranked first.

This U.S. team was coached by 53-year-old American Karch Kiraly, who was considered the best volleyball player of the 20th Century by volleyball's world governing body. He is the only person to have won Olympic gold medals in both volleyball categories: beach and indoor. Now he's won a world title as head coach.

He said this U.S. women's team came to Milan to make history, and did it.
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For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 4030-5480 or 8339-2112.

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Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

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Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
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Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
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Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
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Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
house 865
Beautiful chalet in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 1.040 m2 of land, Price $135.000. Click HERE!
House 868
Beautiful house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather, 810 m2 of land, Price $178.000. Click HERE!
House 866
Beautiful large house  in Grecia, with the best fresh natural weather,1.006 m2 of land, Price $290.000.  HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

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Ciudad Colon
Great Deal!! Apartment in condo with pool and extensive green areas:
Ciudad Colón, San José $112,000
The apartment has a master bedroom with a large ensuite bathroom with bath tub, and a smaller second bedroom/office  with air conditioning. It has a second full bathroom, living/dining room, laundry room with hot water tank and storage area. The kitchen comes with granite countertops, a breakfast bar and new dishwasher. It has 82 m2 of construction. 2 balconies with beautiful views of the river and mountains. Private parking for one car. Elevator and a well presented reception area. Located in a very quiet and private neighborhood just 400 meters from the centre of Ciudad Colón. Within minutes to all major amenities in Santa Ana and Escazú. Easy access to the beach (less than 1.5 hrs).  24-hour security, visitor parking, pool, extensive and lush green areas, BBQ area, children’s playground and its own water treatment plant. Contact (506) 6022-9294 or 6022-9967, for further info or to arrange a viewing.

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Outrageous blowout prices on oceanfront condos in Los Sueños!

Located in the private Bay Residence enclave overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Sueños Resort and Marina, there are three gorgeous units available at unbelievable bargain pricing from $589,000.  All of these beautiful units are three bedrooms and two baths, 2,200 square feet, fully furnished and ready to move in.  Development includes a gym, access to 3 pools, jacuzzis, BBQ areas and the Beach Club.  If you’ve always wanted to own in Los Sueños, now is the time!  Contact  or call Nate @ 8635-9320.
From the US call 209-482-1788.
Top floor unit: $649,000   Second floor unit: $675,000  Garden unit: $589,000

Newly available in Roca Verde
Well-built home of 215 m2, 3 bedrooms, two bath on 1,150 m2 of lot, with attractive rock retaining wall, carport, and a pool. Indoors there are high, vaulted hardwood ceiling, bright rooms, a laundry room.  The floor is ceramic tile in pastel shades. $247,000. Photos: 2446-5587.

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya.7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet iinstalled, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show HERE!

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
This is not an ordinary condo.
Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $214,500.

Two lovely homes on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-story, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-story 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet.   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.

house photo
More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and


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:

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.

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call center
Call center for rent ready to go !
13 work stations, good equipment, good location, Rohrmoser, two blocks from Plaza Mayor. $4.000 per month. Call Kevin 8366-6861.

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, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 202
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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
A word about bad things in gardens

My sweet little dog, Princessa, was bitten by a terciopelo, a/k/a 
Victoria torley
a fer-de-lance, about two years ago.   The snake is a pit viper with hemotoxic venom that quickly entered her blood and attacked the muscles and tissue around the bite.  As a result, Princessa has only one eye.  At that time, her owner was my caretaker and couldn’t afford her treatment, so we stepped in with treatment by a local vet, Dr.
Ana Christina in Tilarán.  When the caretaker moved on, he left Princessa with us.

Now, what does that have to do with gardening?  Terciopelos love gardens, especially those with ornamental grasses or high weeds (yes, we all let our weeds grow too big from time to time) or they may stray in from the neighbor’s fields.  Young snakes are sometimes found on large leaves like those of the heliconia as well. Their bite is actually more dangerous as they are likely to inject more venom than bigger snakes. Their injection control is just not well developed.

This snake causes more deaths in Costa Rica than any other.  Fortunately, it is found mainly below 600 meters (about 1,970 feet).  But don’t let that fool you. Snakes cannot read altimeters. We live at 640 meters (about 2,100 feet) and we find a lot of terciopelos.  Although most snakes will move away from you if disturbed, this snake is sometimes aggressive.  Then there are those pesky little ones on the leaves…

Although terciopelos are mainly nocturnal, they are the reason I now wear boots whenever I go into the garden.  I hate wearing boots.   Boots are good though, as there are other things out there that bite.  Fire ants, for example.  And then there are the caterpillars. 

Caterpillars are cute and often look kind of furry, but don’t let “cute and furry” deceive you, caterpillars can be dangerous!  Those bright colors, fuzz, and spines are a warning to predators:  “Stop!  Eat me and die!”  For us, it is “Touch me at your own risk”. 

Caterpillar fuzz and spines can contain toxins that will cause anything from an annoying rash to serious swelling to death from brain hemorrhage.  I read one post about a dead caterpillar found in a blouse just in from drying on the clothesline.  Even dead, the venom caused a rash and swelling. Two caterpillars that are found locally are the hag caterpillar (for the hag moth, or Phobetron pithecium) and the puss caterpillar, a/k/a asp caterpillar, (for the moth Megalopyge opercularis).   There are many more, of course, and I don’t touch any caterpillars, at least not without gloves.  Since caterpillars are virtually everywhere, it makes sense to take precautions. 

So, what to do?  Shake out your clothes.  Use gloves when you garden.  Keep your eyes open for caterpillars and snakes.   Wear boots.   And don’t be fooled by “cute and fuzzy.”

Plant of the Day

     This lovely little white flower, locally called Magdalena, is the maianthemem gigas.  The small flowers are produced on an upright stem. Leaves are lance-like.  The root is colonial so it reproduces well.  Although this is “just a wild flower,” I enjoy having it in my shade garden.

A big thank you to reader Paul Mitchell for identifying my "mystery plant" Sept. 30  as one of the genus calathea, a ginger
relative, and possibly a calathea warscewiczii.
A.M. Costa Rica/Victoria Torley

If you would like to suggest a topic for this column, simply send a letter to the editor.  And, for more garden tips, visit the Arenal Gardeners Web page.

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From Page 7:

Moín terminal dodges legal obstacle

By the A.M.  Costa Rica staff

A government agency reported Friday that the Sala I of the Corte Suprema de Justicia has rejected an appeal presented by the union of Caribbean dock workers over a proposed container facility there.

The agency is the Consejo Nacional de Concesiones, which called the appeal the last legal obstacle to construction of the nearly $1 billion facility.

The Consejo predicted that the project would receive environmental approval in November and that a start on the project would come in the first month of next year. The environmental decision will come from the Secretaria Técnica Nacional Ambiental.

The Consejo also said that an access route to the site should be completed next month, too.

APM Terminals proposed to build the container handling facility, but the plan has met with strong opposition from the  Sindicato de Trabajadores of the Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica.

The proposed terminal is expected to handle ships of 8.800 containers, nearly four  times the size that can be accommodated now.

The terminal will be on an artificial island at the port of Moín. Union workers fear the terminal will put the public docks out of business.

The Consejo said that the cost of shipping s container of 960 boxes of bananas at the new terminal will be $237 compared to $250 at the existing docks.

Despite the prediction by the Consejo of the end to legal troubles, the dock worker union probably will take additional action.