A.M. Costa Rica

Your daily English-language 
news source
Monday through Friday

These stories were published Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, in Vol. 5, No. 215
Jo Stuart
About us

Property theft and usurpación
White collar stealing does not require a gun
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

“Stick 'Em Up,” says the robber to the tourist. “Give me all your cash.”

“José, move the property marker 10 feet. The neighbor will never notice. They're always in the States,” says the new landowner to his surveyor. 

Both are examples of stealing and punishable by imprisonment in Costa Rica.

According to the security ministry, every four days a property in Costa Rica is invaded by squatters. In the past, the practice was more of a problem in remote parts of the country.  Nowadays, professional squatters make a living encroaching on lands because of their increasing value, especially in Guanacaste.  There have been seven major invasions in this area alone from Jan. 1st to June 12th.

Moving fences and property markers called mojones, in Spanish and boundary stones, markers or monuments in English, happens much more often.  Squatters are generally poor people trying to make quick cash preying on property owners like locusts.  Moving mojones is a practice of the “well to do” motivated by greed.

Both scenarios are examples of trespassing and the illegal seizure of property referred to as usurpación or usurpation, defined as the “wrongful seizure or encroachment of a privilege belonging to another.” 

Usurpación, Article 225 of Costa Rica’s penal code, imposes prison sentences of six months to three years on violators.  Paragraph two of the article states very clearly the following:  “those who take advantage of all or part of a property altering the terms or limits of same.”  This means fence and property marker moving is illegal and a crime. 

There is another kind of usurpation, not commonly recognized as such.  It is the illegal use of an undivided interest in a property.  What is an undivided interest?  It is the “title to property owned by two or more persons, none of whom are entitled to claim or possess any specific part.”  The word derecho in Costa Rica is the Spanish word for an undivided interest.

Here is an example of this kind of trespassing:  Four young surfers came to Costa Rica for many years.  They found a wonderful, cheap piece of property close to the best waves.  By putting all their worldly goods together, they purchase the property  with expectations of always having a place in

Costa Rica for a vacation or occasional escapes. 

As years pass, the lives of three of the four move in other directions, and they lose interest in traveling back to the country.  The fourth comes back often, and without permission from the others, all of whom hold an equal, undivided interest in the property, starts building a house.

When the other three find out, they ask the fourth to buy them out. However, now the once-cheap piece of property is worth a fortune and is way beyond the budget of the builder of the house, so the group sues the fourth for usurpation.

In a case like this, the house could be demolished and the violator be convicted and ordered to pay damages to the others along with other severe penalties.

There is a saying, “locks are to keep honest people honest.”  The same is true for fences. They divide property lines to keep neighbors at peace.  Legal property divisions like undivided interests keep partners in property transactions honest.

Moving property boundaries, a common practice in Costa Rica, and the illegal use of undivided interests in properties are crimes in the same criminal code as outright transferring property illegally or “sticking someone up” on a street corner with a gun.
Garland M. Baker is a 35-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at info@crexpertise.com.  Allan Garro provides the legal review.  Reach him at crlaw@licgarro.com. Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at http://crexpertise.info.  Copyright 2005, use without permission prohibited.

exchange rate
to our
daily digest

our site

Send us
a news story

Real estate ads

Ads for

ad info

ad info

Contact us
Our stats


A.M. Costa Rica

Second news page

Click HERE for photo tour of 526 properties for SALE or RENT in Escazú, Ciudad Colón, Santa Ana, Rohrmoser, Curridabat, Heredia
and the Pacific Coast.

info@ticorealty.com  (506) 290-7667
Place a classified ad
Real estate
About us
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 215

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

Click HERE for great hotel discounts


A.M. Costa Rica/José Pablo Ramírez Vindas
Demolition has begun on charred hospital wing

Theory about hospital fire
is arsonist craved notice

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investigators think that the person who started the July 12 fire at Hospital Calderón Guardia did it to attract attention and perhaps become a hero by quelling the blaze.

That is the theory which has driven the investigation into the fire that killed 21 persons and resulted in the arrest early Friday of a suspect. The detained individual has the last name of Ledezma and worked as a nurse's aide at the hospital.

The fatal fire was the second at the north San José hospital, but this one got out of control. Agents said that Ledezma, 24, was seen near the storeroom in the hospital's surgical recovery wing about the time of the blaze. In addition to an accusation of murder and one of arson, Ledezma is facing investigation on an allegation of falsification of documents because agents claim he fabricated documents to obtain the hospital job.

According to the agents' theory, the arsonist was planning to win personal approval and acclaim by putting out the storeroom fire, but the blaze got out of his control. An earlier storeroom fire was extinguished before it could spread.

A contributing factor to the deaths — all but three being that of patients — was that the hospital lacked adequate alarms and fire detection devices as well as a viable evacuation plan.

Although to blaze was confined to one wing, the oldest part of the public hospital, the entire complex was evacuated and suffered smoke damage.

Major effects of Beta
are north of country

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Though Hurricane Beta smashed the Colombian islands of San Andreas and Providencia and roared ashore in Nicaragua as a Category 2, conditions along the southern Caribbean coast of Costa Rica were bright and sunny for much of the weekend minus one nasty 20-minute rainstorm Saturday evening. 

In a season that has caused what President Abel Pacheco called the worst natural disaster in Costa Rican history, Beta rained heavily on parts of the country, but the emergency commission reported no evacuations. 

In preparation of the storm, Nicaraguan authorities moved tens of thousands of people into temporary shelters, and Honduras declared a state of emergency and began Saturday to evacuate more than 100,000 people from areas prone to flooding and mudslides, said the A.M. Costa Rica wire services.  Providencia and San Andreas reported heavy damage but no fatalities, the wire services said.  Television footage showed heavy flooding on the islands.

By Sunday night, the countries had canceled their coastal warnings and the maximum sustained winds had decreased to 40 miles per hour, said the U. S. National Hurricane Center.

The storm was moving west at 7 mph and forecasters predicted that it would dump some 10 to 15 inches of rain on Nicaragua and eastern Honduras. 

The center predicted that by this morning, the storm will have petered out over western Nicaragua.

Although Costa Rica never has suffered a direct hit from a hurricane, the long arms of such storms bring heavy rains, winds and unsettled conditions. For nearly six weeks Costa Rica has been under the weather influence of one storm or another.

Noche de Brujas is a night
to be careful, cops said

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Halloween, called Noche de Brujas in Costa Rica is not celebrated as much as in the United States, but police agencies are on full alert today and tonight.

The Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública said all the Fuerza Pública officers in the country would be involved and paying particular attention to youngsters on their way to and from school and during the evening of the "night of witches."

The custom of visiting neighbors seeking candy is gaining here, but the necessary security in Costa Rica presents some obstacles. Officials said that homeowners should verify who is at the door before opening it, particularly if adults appear in costume. They also said that sexual predators can easily attract youngsters by using candy on Halloween.

They also said that street robbers sometimes use costumes and masks to hide their identities when involved in crimes.
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.

Real estate agents and services

formerly with  Carico and now with Great Estates
15 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American
Chamber of Commerce

(506) 291-2825 & (506) 291-2826
fax (506) 296-6304   (506) 382-7399 cell

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
A Name You Can Trust & Professional Service
Tom Ghormley - Owner/Broker - in CR since '79

Buying? Selling?
We Can Do It!

Beachfront, Views, Mountains, Lots, Farms, Beaches, Houses, Condos. Hotels, Restaurants, Projects, Commercial, Investments

First Costa Rican Title & Trust
Protecting your interests since 1994
  Purchase contracts
  Escrow services
  Title Transfers
  Title Guarantees
  Trust Services
  Investment Services
Call us for your real property legal and investment needs at 225-0501 or send us an e-mail at amcr@firstcr.com

Title Guarantees issued by First American Title Insurance Co., one of the oldest and largest title companies in the world. The First American difference in protection is that the policies cover unrecorded matters and unknown risks.



U.S. Tax and Accounting

We specialize in tax preparation for U.S. taxpayers and business, working or living abroad, and help with all international transactions.
288-2201   839-9970
E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com

James Brohl C.P.A, M.B.A

U.S. Income Tax 
U.S. GAAP Accounting, 
Business Consulting
Providing U.S. Tax return preparation including back reporting and all other filing issues, accounting services 
and business consulting.

Telephone 305-3149 or 256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@racsa.co.cr


Williams Dental & Associates
Integral dentistry
Dr. John Williams
•  General dentistry 
•  Endodontics
•  Oral rehabilitation
•  Prosthodontics
•  Periodontics
•  Dental prevention
•  Maxillofacial surgery implants

Guachipelín, Escazú228-2914/289-9809

U.S. prevention of infection and sterilization protocol

Legal services

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorney at Law
Villalobos and Savings Unlimited Collections
*Investments  *Corporations *Tax Shelters
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
    *Immigration  *Intellectual Property
*Business procedures  *Family and Labor Law
*Locate People   *Private Investigations
        Ph/Fax: 221-9462, 841-0007

Bufete Hernández Mussio 
& Asociados
Lic. Arcelio Hernández Mussio
Tel. 643-3058                Cell 365-3088
E-mail: lawyer@CRTitle.com
Web site:  CRTitle.com

  • Real Estate Transactions 
•  Legal Due Diligence 
  • Purchase and Sale Agreements/Options
  • Short-term Lending
  • Title Guaranty • Fraud protection
  •  Constitution of condominiums
  • Notary public services in general

Visit our Office in Jacó Beach
 (25 meters north of Banco Popular,
 below the Fiscalia).


PRECONSTRUCTION & INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES from  only $35K in Playa del Coco & Limon.  Loft Condos from $80K.  Walk  to Beach!  Easy Financing. Low $ Down.
 Many Homes &  Townhomes available IN ALL AREAS for IMMEDIATE OCCUPANCY.  


Our new five-star food and restaurant page
with the observations of Dr. Lenny Karpman
Click HERE!

A.M. Costa Rica

Third news page

Home Calendar Place a 
classified ad
Classifieds Real estate  Food About us
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Oct. 31, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 215

An expression for those who are better and know it
El que se mete a Redentor muere crucificado

“He who tries to play the Redeemer could end up getting crucified.” This dicho has to do with people who feel they are so good, so right, and oh so righteous that one gets the impression that they see themselves as the second incarnation of Christ. The problem is, that if you’re going to be that good, you’d better be prepared to deal with the consequences.

A few years ago a young Costa Rican couple arrived in Bloomington, Indiana. He was working on a Ph.D. in chemistry at Indiana University, while she, whom we shall refer to as Sra. “L,” managed to wangle an assistantship teaching first-year Spanish; no mean feat when one considers that even the wives or husbands of full professors at IU are generally discouraged from teaching at the university.

Most people hate teaching an eight o’clock class, but Sra. “L” adored it. How perverse, you may say. But she loved teaching at that hour for the pure pleasure of being able to scold tardy students and to punish their lateness by assigning extra homework. She would gleefully relate stories of how she had assigned 30 extra pages of work to such-and-such a student because he had arrived two minutes late for her class.

This woman made herself so thoroughly unpopular with her students that they began to complain to the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and to request transfers out of her class. The complaints against her grew so numerous that after only one semester the chairperson of the department relieved her of her teaching position.

Many other Central American students warned us about her, but for most of the two years we knew her, we never had any real difficulties with Sra. “L.” That was about to change.

After being fired from her teaching job, Sra. “L” set herself up in business cleaning houses. She adored this work because it allowed her the joyous opportunity of reporting on the terribly untidy condition of the homes of the people she worked for.

Finally, Sra. “L’s” husband was almost finished with work on his degree and only had to complete certain experiments connected with his dissertation. Since they only expected to be in Bloomington for a few more weeks, they didn’t want to take out a lease on an apartment. So, Sra. “L” asked if they might move in with us for this short period, to which we readily agreed.

After “a few weeks” stretched into two months and then six months, the English dicho “familiarity breeds contempt” began to take on new meaning.

Of course, Sra. “L” immediately started criticizing every aspect of our lives, from the supermarket where we shopped to the kind of car we drove. She even began referring to our guest room, where she and hubby were ensconced, practically as if it were her private domain and not even connected to our house!

Once, former Costa Rican president Óscar Arias came to Bloomington to accept an honorary doctorate from Indiana University. I organized a breakfast for him to which all Central American students, and their significant others, were invited. It was a very pleasant and elegant occasion, and Don Óscar was extremely gracious. He talked personally for a

way we say it

By Daniel Soto

moment or two with everyone present, inquiring about their interests, their studies and plans for the future.

Of course, Don Óscar was especially interested in talking with the members of IU’s Costa Rican community. When he came round to Sra. “L” she only shrugged nonchalantly and said she was just the wife of a Ph.D. candidate in chemistry. That’s all.

Don Óscar appeared genuinely shocked at this news, and mildly reproached Sra. “L” for having spent the past two years at such a great center of learning without studying a single thing that would have improved her mind, developed her skills, or enhanced her enjoyment of life.
Well, Sra. “L” was simply furious with Don Oscar, and when she got home that afternoon she ranted and raved on and on – using some very colorful terminology, both in Spanish and English – about how the former president of the Republic had embarrassed her in front of so many of her peers.

Nevertheless, that evening, after Don Óscar had received his degree and given his speech, Sra. “L,” smiling like a Cheshire cat, spent the evening hovering as close to him as she could just in case any photographers showed up. If pictures of the ex-president appeared in the Costa Rican press, she was determined to be in them.
But my favorite Sra. “L” story happened once when we were leaving the house. We had driven only a few blocks when I realized that I’d forgotten my wallet. So, we had to return.

There was Sra. “L,” with her supercilious little smile, now rushing about to get away as fast as possible so as to leave the house before we did. In typical fashion her parting remark, as she strutted out the door was, “You see, you left before I did, but now I’m actually leaving before you.”

Oh well, I thought, another zinger from “L.” So, what else is new? In any case, I located my wallet and left the house, locking the door behind me. Then, lo and behold, there was “L” standing by her car frantically searching through her purse for her keys.

Vengeance could hardly have been any sweeter than it was that day. I backed out of the drive way, and just as I reached the street, where “L” was still rummaging madly through her bag, I rolled down the car window and said,” You see, you thought you were leaving before we did, but as usual you were wrong.” She gave us a ferocious glare as we drove off leaving her standing in the street, locked out of both car and house.

The only problem with this story, however, is that no matter how many times Sra. “L” got “crucified” she never seemed to lose her uncanny ability to rise again from the dead.

A.M. Costa Rica/Joe Taylor
Playa Galeón is just one of the 12 beaches on Contadora Island
'Survivor' locale gets  ready to host another  show
By Joe Taylor
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Filming begins Tuesday in the Pearl Islands of Panamá for a new "Survivor." Once again the 354-room Hotel Contadora Resort on Contadora Island is serving as the command center for the upcoming  $275 million production of this mega-hit television show.

Mark Burnett, the show’s creator, is clearly attracted to the rugged beauty, the remoteness, and the rich pirate history of the Pearl Islands, an archipelago of nearly 200 islands 20 minutes by air from Panamá City. This will be the third time that he has filmed the show there. The area was the location for "Survivor 7" in 2003 and "Survivor All-Stars" in 2004.

The security around the Hotel Contadora is significant. Most of Playa Larga, the largest beach on the island, has been roped off.  Only the 350 crew members staying in the hotel and the locals with an official ID are allowed to enter. The guards tell everyone else that  “the hotel is undergoing renovations” and not to proceed another step.

The security in the waters around Contadora Island is even more formidable. Several dozen Panamanian soldiers in boats are patrolling the area between Contadora Island and the islands of Chapera and Mogo Mogo where most of the filming will take place. If curiosity seekers get too close to either of these islands, they will be immediately intercepted and told to leave.

Crew members and locals hired by "Survivor" do not provide any information about the upcoming season because they have signed a five-year confidentiality agreement not to discuss the show with anyone.  The usual rumors of enormous bribes paid to "Survivor" employees by tabloids have begun.

The curtain of secrecy on the island is so thick that only those fans who are willing to outplay, outwit, and outlast the competition will ever have a chance of finding out what is going on behind the scenes on Contadora Island.

For the many "Survivor" enthusiasts who have been flocking to the Pearl Islands since 2003, they do not mind being told to leave. It is all part of the excitement.  Tony Ayala, manager of the Contadora Island Inn, has met  many of these fans whom he calls "Survivor" trekkies.
They come to the island all the time, he said, adding that they want to see where Rupert Boneham won the immunity challenges, or where Colby Donaldson took his shirt off, or where Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich fell in love.

These travelers are easy to identify with their "Survivor" buffs, hats, and T-shirts. Their vocabulary is filled with references to previous "Survivor" sites such as Palau, Vanuatu, and Borneo, and they talk about Jeff Probst, the host of the show, as if he were a  dear family friend.

Ayala enjoys telling about the time when he was asked by Mark Burnett to work full-time for "Survivor." “I told him that it was a great show, but that the main concept of the show ‘sucked'. These guys work together to become a tight group and then they are encouraged to stab each other in the back. What is that all about?” he asked.

Some on the island suspect, however, that Ayala is a closet fan of "Survivor." He enjoys telling about the cameo appearance he made on "Survivor" in 2003 when he served a beer to Boneham that the star had won in a reward challenge.

Until the filming stops and all the clean-up work is completed in mid-December, the island will lack some of its tranquillo ambiance. The locals do not seem to mind at all. The business generated by "Survivor" is enormous.

The owner of the Sagittarius, the small restaurant where many locals eat on Contadora Island, loves feeding the dozen or more soldiers who come in on a regular basis at mealtime. She says that until the arrival of the "Survivor" crew in early October, business had been extremely slow for several months. 

She doesn’t have to even give the soldiers a check. She just writes down the number of meals served each day and then submits the figure to "Survivor" for payment.

Small boat owners and local guides also busily shuttle crewman back and forth from Hotel Contadora to Mogo Mogo and Chapera to prepare the sites for the 18 new "Survivor" contestants, each of whom hopes to leave the Pearl Islands with a million dollars in prize money.

CBS "Survivor 12" airs Feb. 6 right after the Super Bowl.


Migrating birds along Pacific monitored for influenza
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The U.S. Department of the Interior is studying migratory birds on the Pacific flyway for the highly pathogenic avian influenza as part of its plan to protect the health of employees and millions of visitors to public lands it manages.

The virus, H5N1, has caused mortality in nearly 60 species of wild birds in Asia and Europe, but there are no reported cases of people becoming infected from migratory birds.

“The Department of the Interior is responsible for managing wildlife, including migratory birds, and for ensuring public health on more than 500 million acres of federal land across the country,” said Tom Weimer, senior advisor to the secretary of the Interior.

In conjunction with the State of Alaska, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey biologists have been strategically sampling migratory birds for
H5N1 in the Pacific migratory flyway for several months.

The efforts, Weimer said, complement ongoing avian influenza studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and university partners in Alaska, where birds that regularly migrate between Asia and North America are known to congregate and to nest.

So far, the H5N1 bird flu strain has not been detected in any wild bird sampled in North America, but the expanding global spread of H5N1 increases the likelihood that it will eventually be detected here, Weimer said. “Introduction of this virus by wild migratory birds is just one possible pathway that the Departments of Agriculture and Interior are working together to address,” he added.

Federal efforts are under way to plan a coordinated and more comprehensive surveillance and detection program that will provide an early warning if migratory birds are found to carry the virus.

EU's latest proposal on agricultural tariff cuts might jeopardize pact
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Washington calls a new European Union farm-trade proposal "disappointing" and says it does not cut protective tariffs enough.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Portman spoke Friday after consulting with top trade officials from the EU, Brazil, India and Australia.

The EU had put forward what its top officials called a "bottom line" offer to cut agricultural tariffs and
domestic subsidies. Brussels tied the initiative to similar-sized concessions on trade in services and manufacturing from major developing nations.

The World Trade Organization's 148 members are due to meet in December to consider an outline for a new global trade deal intended to boost the world economy and aid poor nations.

If the impasse on agricultural issues is not solved, the agreement that has so far taken four years of talks could collapse.

Productivity in Colombia gets a $257 million boost from World Bank
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The World Bank has approved $257 million in loans for business development in Colombia and a project designed to improve the country's environment.

The bank says its board of directors allocated $250 million to fund a business productivity and efficiency project designed to create businesses, improve their access to financing, and increase overall productivity.
The bank allocated another $7 million to Colombia for a sustainable development project, aimed at reducing air and water pollution, improve hygiene and urban environmental management.

The bank is also loaning El Salvador $27 million to support a poverty reduction program known as Red Solidaria, designed to help the poorest Salvadorans by improving health, nutrition and education in the country.

Jo Stuart
About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted. Check HERE for more details