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(506) 2223-1327                          Published Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 219                               Email us
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Jo Stuart

Big Christmas show at museum is set for Dec. 4
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two great events for children mark the beginnings of the Christmas season.

They are the lighting of the Christmas tree at the Hospital de Niños and the illumination of the castle-like Museo de los Niños.

Museo de los Niños photo
A celebration for a previous year.
The fiesta at the museum will be Dec. 4, a Wednesday, this year, and there is a special early event at 4:30 p.m. The museum said that it expected 12,000 to see the show.

The building is the former national prison, and the museum calls it the Castillo de los Sueños. Like most castles there are turrets and a big entry door.

The event this year will be the third in which police set up what they call a secure route from the downtown for the benefit of attendees. The area around the museum is not the city's best.

The theme this year is El amor sobre todas las cosas,  "Love above all things." There will be a stage show with the lovable Museito and Museita as well as a Grinch-type character who tries to ruin the party. The climax is a spectacular fireworks show.

The main show begins at 6:30 p.m. For the adults there will be two well-known singers and for the kids there is a storyteller.

For all there are an estimated 4,000 lights that illuminate the museum.

Child welfare agency seeks crackdown on booze trips
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The nation's child welfare organization is rallying other agencies to crack down on what are known as barras libres. These are drinking parties that attract young men and women.

Sometimes the event is held at one bar. Sometimes drinkers take a bus to several bars.

The welfare organization, the Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, is setting up a workshop today to which a number of agencies have been invited. The theme is protection of minors in public and private events.

The Patronato said that these activities have increased over the last few years and characterized the drinking parties as ones where alcohol and drugs affect the life, physical integrity and emotions of adolescents.

The Fuerza Pública has cracked down on a couple of mobile parties but there were few underage drinkers. In some cases the underaged individuals were present at the bar before the bus containing the party arrived. In one case, a person in the party was selling marijuana on his own hook.

Invited to the Patronato workshop today are representatives from the Instituto Costarricense Sobre Drogas, the Instituto Sobre Alcoholismo y Farmacodependencia, the Policía de Control Fiscal,
the Policía de Tránsito, prosecutors, the Ministerio
de Educación Pública, the Ministerio de Salud and the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

The participants will consider the ability of each agency to use institutional resources to protect young people, said the Patronato.

The agencies also will identify ways that vendors of such drinking trips operate and plan ways to attack and confront them as well as any crimes that might be associated with the consumption of alcohol, said the Patronato.

When parents are abusive, weak or neglectful, it is the state and its institutions that have to protect minors who are in a condition of vulnerability, said the Patronato.

Although the emphasis today will be organized trips to bars, there is plenty of underage drinking in Costa Rica. High school youngsters have many locations where they drink alcohol, usually after school. One such location is in Barrio Otoya on concrete steps along the east side of Parque Bolívar and 100 meters from a Fuerza Pública station. Youngsters have been drinking there for so many years that some taxi drivers admit having done so in their youth.

Marijuana also seems to be epidemic in the schools.

Costa Rica back in court in The Hague again today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country is back in the International Court of Justice today when Nicaragua gets a chance to claim damages from the construction by Costa Rica of a road along the Río San Juan.

This is the troubled road that President Laura Chinchilla ordered to be built after Nicaragua invaded a section on the country in the far northeast.

Nicaragua claims environmental damage from the road, including silting of the river.

The international court in The Hague, Netherlands, has joined the claim with Costa Rica's case against Nicaragua for the invasion. But there is a separate hearing starting today.

This time Nicaragua is on the offensive with initial comments at 1 p.m. local time. Costa Rica gets a chance to reply Wednesday. Then there is another round of testimony, presentation of evidence and rebuttal Thursday and Friday.

The court decided in July that the road Costa Rica
 built along the Río San Juan is outside of the scope of the present case that Costa Rica has brought against Nicaragua. Consequently there are separate hearings.

The Chinchilla administration decided to construct a 160-kilometer roadway so that police and residents of the area no longer would be required to submit to Nicaraguan jurisdiction when they use the river for transportation. The river is totally part of Nicaragua.

The international border is the south bank where Costa Rica built the roadway.

The roadway has been mired in controversy due to allegations of corruption. The stretch was built, many times by locals, as an emergency measure, so there was not extensive bidding procedure.  In many places the road shows signs of erosion, and some of the bridges that were erected hastily were substandard and have collapsed.

The dispute between the two countries has been going on since October 2010 when Nicaraguan soldiers set up camp in the disputed area and workers began to dig a trench.

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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.


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Historic disease of banana plants
re-emerges as more aggressive

By the Plant Research International news staff

Panama disease is causing significant damage in banana cultivation in Southeast Asia. Together with a number of partners, scientists from Wageningen UR, a university, have demonstrated that the disease – caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense – has now also migrated to Jordan. This means that Panama disease is becoming increasingly widespread and major banana-producing countries in Africa and Latin America are also under threat. A concerted international approach is needed to safeguard the food security of millions of people, according to a new study. The results of the study were published in the scientific journal Plant Disease.

The banana is not just the world’s favorite fruit. For many people it is a vital important source of food. During the 20th century, tens of thousands of hectares of banana plantations in Latin America were destroyed by Panama disease. Banana plants died en masse and soils are contaminated for decades. The introduction of the resistant Cavendish banana variety saved the day and clones of the Cavendish banana are now cultivated worldwide. Late last century, however, a new, highly aggressive strain of the fungus was discovered in Southeast Asia. Tropical Race 4 is starting to have a huge effect on the Cavendish cultivar in Southeast Asia and there is currently no way to protect the banana.

There were suspicions a few years ago that some banana plantations in Jordan were infected with Panama disease. The Jordanian ministry of agriculture later sent samples of the fungus to Randy Ploetz of the University of Florida, who forwarded them to Gert Kema, a scientist at Wageningen UR. Doctoral students from Gert Kema’s research group infected different banana plants with the fungus from the Jordan samples. These plants developed the same symptoms as banana plants infected with samples from Southeast Asia. Subsequent DNA tests showed that the Jordan strains were identical to TR4. The scientists have thereby established that TR4 has now spread beyond Southeast Asia.

Relatively few bananas are grown in Jordan, But 80 percent of the plantations are now infected. It is unclear how Panama disease spread from Southeast Asia. Gert Kema argues that it is only a question of time before TR4 reaches Africa. In Africa, bananas are an important part of people’s diet, and the introduction and spread of Panama disease would threaten the food security of millions. “A concerted international approach is now needed to prevent the spread of Panama disease and, in the worst-case scenario, contain it,” Kema said.

Wageningen UR carried out this research together with the University of Florida, the Jordanian National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension, and the University of Jordan. The study was funded by INREF, a public-private partnership between Wageningen UR and various international partners. INREF focuses on finding solutions to counter the disastrous effects of Panama disease.

Ceremony to honor the fallen
is Sunday in Escazú church

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Servicemen who died defending their country will be honored Sunday in a joint Remembrance Day/Veterans Day ceremony at the Escazú Christian Fellowship in Escazú.

The ceremony will be part of the regular 5 p.m. worship service. Pastor Stacey Steck will officiate. The service will be in English.

Dignitaries from Britain and several of the Commonwealth countries will take part, said an announcement by the church. Also attending will be the Costa Rican veterans organizations, American Legion post 10, 12 and 16, the Marine Corps League and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 11207.

The church and the veterans organizing the event said that everyone is welcomed, particularly those who are veterans, children of veterans and family and widows of veterans. Services are held in the International Baptist church in Guachipelín, Escazú, just off the Caldera highway.

Monday, Nov. 11, is the official Veteran's Day in the United States, and it is a federal holiday. The day is the modern version of Armistice Day that marked the end of fighting in World War I.

Puerto Viejo shootout ends
with seven persons injured

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A patron at a Puerto Viejo bar pulled a gun and began shooting wildly early Sunday.

Six persons suffered wounds, and residents are critical of the police response, which, they said, was slow.

The shooting happened at a bar named Jhonny's, a well-known location in the Caribbean coast community. Residents say there were about 50 persons in the bar when the shots broke out.

Coincidentally, Jhonny's is adjacent to the local police station. However, the person doing the shooting fled, and officers attended the wounded.

Another person, a guard, suffered injuries when he was hit by a vehicle that was carrying a wounded individual to the local clinic. He was reported to have suffered a fracture.

Investigators are believed to have a firm identification of the person who did the shooting.

Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud photo   
The New Jazz Project in a prior performance

Jazz group will perform
at Teatro Nacional today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The New Jazz Project performs today at 12:10 p.m. in the Teatro al Mediodía at the Teatro Nacional.

The jazz group includes 50 students from the Universidad de Costa Rica, the Universidad Nacional and the Instituto Nacional de la Música.

The midday program is the highly successful project of the Teatro Nacional that brings a variety of artists there every week.


Google uses doodle to honor
amazing Indian math wiz

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Google homepage had a calculator-like image Monday to honor Shakuntala Devi, the so-called human calculator.

From the age of 3, Ms. Devi showed amazing math skills. She was able to memorize large numbers and perform incredibly complex calculations in her head, all without any formal education.

In 1977, Ms. Devi was able to solve the cube root of 188,132,517 faster than a computer.

In 1980 she multiplied two 13-digit numbers within 28 seconds, a feat that landed her in the Guinness Book of Records.

Ms. Devi was born in 1929 in Bangalore, India, and traveled the world wowing people with her mathematical ability. She died in April in her hometown.

“Today we're celebrating Human Computer Shakuntala Devi who once said, ‘The purpose of my life is to make everybody, especially children, enjoy maths as an affable and joyful experience," said Ryan Germick, the Google doodle team lead. “We hope people are as inspired by Ms. Devi's brilliant mathematical mind and life-long dedication to promote math education as we are.”

According to Google, doodles are “the fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers and scientists.”

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Costa Rican English students will compete in a spelling bee
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats who have trouble with i before e except after c or neighbor or weigh probably could learn a few bits of English Wednesday and Thursday when 42 top public school English students compete in an old fashioned spelling bee.

The students are from all over the country, but the bee is in  Centro Turístico La Sabana in San Marcos de Tarrazú. In addition to the participants, the Ministerio de Educación Pública said there will be at least 150 observers in the audience.

The event is being assisted by volunteers of the U.S. Peace Corps and the Fundación CRUSA, said the ministry.

In addition to the spelling bee, English teachers will discuss new and better ways to teach the language

Plenty of expats can empathize with the Costa Rica students. They, too, stood before a stern teacher or perhaps a grimacing nun awaiting their turn to tackle a spelling bee word. Most would agree that English spelling is challenging and unlike the phonetic Spanish language.

The first U.S. national competition took place in 1925, but famed artist and chronicler of the human condition Norman
spelling bee
'Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponnesus' by Norman Rockwell

Rockwell used a spelling bee scene in one of his oils in 1918.
It is called "Cousin Reginald Spells Peloponnesus" and captures the smug look of the winner and the envy of those who could not spell the name of the Greek peninsula.

Bill outlines steps judges should take to stem parental violence
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A bill seeking to confront parental violence has advanced in the legislature. The measure, No. 18.68, has been sent to the full body for action by the Comisión Permanente Especial de Juventud, Niñez y Adolescencia.

The measure does not define the types of actions that might bring a parent into court, but it does say that much of the parental violence toward children is invisible and stems from the traditions and customs of the patriarchal system.

The measure recognizes that in case of divorce, parents may take out their aggravations on children.
The bill outlines a series of steps that a family judge should take in cases of parental violence. The first is to order that the violence cease.

There are increasingly more interventions ending with an order that the offending parent be sent to a psychologist for six months treatment.

Although the text of the bill does not say so, it appears to be linked to an international treaty on the rights of Children to define what might be parental violence.

The lawmakers noted that violence toward children can warp their understanding of how to be a parent themselves.

Costa Rica to be in World Wide Web Index for first time
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The World Wide Web Foundation said that Costa Rica will be included in its 2013 Web Index. This will be the first time that the country is included.

The Web Index, which will be released Nov. 22, is the world’s first measure of how the Web empowers people and delivers socio-economic impact in countries around the globe, said the foundation. Costa Rica’s inclusion will allow its citizens, government and civil society organizations to understand the use and impact of the Web in Costa Rica, how it compares to global and regional counterparts, and how best to harness it for future social and economic benefit, it said.

First released in 2012, the Web Index takes the format of a country ranking. Last year, Sweden topped the list, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom with Burkino Faso, Zimbabwe and Yemen propping up the foot of the table. Mirroring global trends, this year’s Web Index will include enhanced data on government transparency; gender; and surveillance, the foundation said. Alongside Costa Rica, up to 18 new countries, including Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and Peru, will be added.
Understanding the value delivered by the Web and how best to harness its potential has never been more important, said the foundation, adding that the surveillance scandals which have rocked the globe have propelled the topic of online privacy and human rights to the top of the news agenda, while civil unrest in countries such as Turkey, Brazil and Egypt has once again demonstrated the Web’s increasing potential to underpin political change.

Meanwhile, approximately two-thirds of the world’s population (and a disproportionately high percentage of women) remain unconnected, risking an ever-more entrenched digital divide based on both gender and wealth, it added.

Karin Alexander, Web Index manager, said:

“The Web’s transformative potential is beyond doubt, but we are still only scratching the surface of its true value. Unlocking local innovation and maximizing impact requires a clear understanding of how the Web delivers value and impacts upon the lives of the people of Costa Rica. The careful research and analysis in the Web Index will allow Costa Ricans to engage policy makers with concrete recommendations and then track progress.”

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Plenty of outlets are ready to accept payment for the 2014 road tax
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros is ready to take payments by motorists for the 2014 marchamo or road tax.

By 4:30 p.m. Monday, the state insurance agency said that 169 motorists have paid.

The amount depends on the vehicle.

However, the Superintendencia General de Seguros has established the premium for the obligatory insurance. This is the most basic insurance and most expats have additional coverage. That amount for passenger vehicles has increased from 17,374 colons, about $35, to 20,856 colons, about $42.

Motorcycles are facing a stiffer premium. The rate for 6 million colons in coverage this year for motorcycles is 80,924, about $162. A lesser premium of 61,305, about $122, covers the motorcyclist up to 3.5 million colons.

Motorcycle drivers protested last year about the cost of their obligatory insurance, which was based on statistics of accidents.

The road tax is due by Dec. 31. After that, the motorist is liable for a ticket, which is 47,000 colons or about $94.
The obligatory insurance averages just about 20 percent of what motorists have to pay.  Even an older vehicle will be assessed up to about 60,000 colons, about $120. Luxury vehicles are assessed much more.  Motorists can find out what they owe in several ways.

There is a free telephone line 800-6272-4266.

There is another number: 2243-9999.

A text message may be sent to 1467 with the words marchamo and the number of the vehicle license plate.

There is a data base available on the institute Web site,

Banks and other institutions are seeking marchamo payments because they receive a commission. Some institutions, including the insurance institute, are offering prizes and raffles. Some banks will make the transaction online, as will the insurance institute.

Motorists also have to pay any accrued traffic fines when they pay for the road tax.

If a motorist seeks to consult the cost through the insurance institute Web site, he or she will be offered other insurance that is optional.

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Christ Howard with Max
retiring in Costa Rica,  and who has personally helped over 10,000 people with ALL BUDGETS relocate SUCCESSFULLY over the last 35 years. CUSTOM TAILOR-MADE TOURS are also available for people with special needs or who can’t take one of our fixed-date tours. ALL tours include EXTENSIVE touring and a highly informative SEMINAR by the country’s most renowned EXPERTS in their respective fields. Also visit: Live in Costa Rica to check out our NEW tour prices and specials.  Customer satisfaction 100% guaranteed! MY REFERENCES.

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Howard Spanish cover


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A.M. Costa Rica
Real estate rentals
Real estate rental agents
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)


Homes for rent in Palmares, Alajuela

See our Web page:

Unfurnished 2-bedroom 2-bathroom house.. One large room for living room, dining room and kitchen. Separate bath.  2 bedrooms with bath on second floor. Washroom. Large 3-bay garage with bathroom, secure  for warehousing and storage. Located  approximately 6 miles east of San José and 1 mile west of Concepcion Tres Rios.  Map on request.  Telephone installed, cable and Internet available.  $250 a month plus utilities. 6 months minimum lease, deposit. Available after Oct. 15.  Tel. 2256-9426 

COMPLETELY and nicely furnished apartments
apartment view
in San José. Fast Internet, cable TV, hot water. Large American appliances including washer and dryer. Both convenient locations. No pets. $600 per month. Contact: or call 8555-9819.

We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Santa Ana

Lovely cottage on private coffee farm
One spacious bedroom, one bath, office room/spare room with high speed DSL internet, fully equipped kitchen, phone line,
Sarchi cottage
balcony with beautiful view, especially at night with the far off lights of San José. Farm is gated and guarded, private and peaceful, owner on-site. Sarchi is a quiet small town about 30-40 min from the airport, a perfect base to explore from and also get a
feel for normal, day-to-day Tico life. Rental is $575 per month, 3 months minimum. All utilities included. Shorter stays at $45 per night, 2 nights minimum. $225 per week, and $30 per additional night. Sorry, no pets.  Contact or 8308-7732.

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.

Barrio Escalante, totally furnished, 1 BR apartment for single, responsible person. $35 daily, weekly rates. Contact 8385-2542,

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.

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About us
What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Nov. 5, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 219
Real Estate
About us


Pacific Estates

Brazil also spied on friends,
its intelligence agency admits

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brazil, a vocal critic of widely reported U.S. intelligence gathering inside its borders, has itself admitted spying on foreign diplomatic operations, including those of the United States, Iran and Russia.

But a statement Monday from the Brazilian intelligence agency Abin said its spy operations, conducted in 2003 and 2004, complied with Brazilian law aimed at protecting national interests. 

The spying acknowledgement came hours after a report in the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper described how government agents tracked and photographed Russian and Iranian diplomats.  The report also said the agency monitored commercial property leased by the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia and used as a relay station for embassy communications.

The Brazilian spy agency statement also said the spying disclosure to Brazilian reporters was illegal and those found to have leaked the information will be prosecuted.

The U.S. Embassy in Brasilia declined comment on the Brazilian spying acknowledgment.

The spying revelations come six weeks after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff canceled plans for a state visit to the United States.  The cancellation was triggered by published reports citing secret U.S. documents showing the U.S. National Security Agency spied on Ms. Rousseff's electronic communications and those of Brazil's state-run oil company.

Those U.S. documents, disclosed by a disaffected former NSA worker, also showed the NSA collected data on billions of emails and telephone calls routed through Brazil over international cables.

U.S. officials have defended the NSA surveillance, saying it was aimed at detecting and tracking suspected terrorist activity.

Snowden's bid for clemency
seems to be a dead letter

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Edward Snowden’s plea for clemency in the United States appears headed to rejection.

A White House adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, during an appearance on the television news program “This Week,” said no clemency offers were being discussed and that the NSA leaker should return to the U.S. to face charges.

"Mr. Snowden violated U.S. law," Pfeiffer said. "He should return to the U.S. and face justice."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, also appeared to be against granting any kind of concession to Snowden.

Rogers, a Republican, said clemency was a “terrible idea,” and Ms. Feinstein, a Democrat, said Snowden should have reported his concerns through official channels.

She called his actions an enormous disservice to our country.

The comments come in the wake of Snowden’s manifesto published in the German magazine Der Spiegel in which he pled for clemency, saying his revelations about the scope of NSA surveillance was spurring a valuable debate.

“Instead of causing damage, the usefulness of the new public knowledge for society is now clear because reforms to politics, supervision and laws are being suggested," he wrote.

Snowden remains in Russia, where he has been granted temporary asylum.

Senate acts to protect gays,
but House unlikely to follow

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A bill to protect homosexual and trans-gendered Americans from workplace discrimination has cleared an initial hurdle in the U.S. Senate, and is expected to be approved in the coming days. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, has President Barack Obama’s backing, but appears unlikely to come up for a vote in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The Democratic-led Senate voted Monday to begin debate on ENDA by a vote of 61 to 30, a margin that all but assures passage in the chamber when a final vote is held.

At a time when same-sex marriage stands at the forefront of the battle over gay rights, ENDA seeks to address a different concern: the ability of gay people to work and support themselves. In a majority of U.S. states, it is not against the law for a worker to be denied a job or fired over his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, said ENDA would ban such discrimination nationwide.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gendered Americans deserve the same civil rights protections from discrimination as all other Americans. This bill will accomplish that," he said. "No American should be turned away or having to fear the loss of their job or their means of support for any reasons other than their ability to do that job.”

All Democratic senators voted to advance ENDA, joined by seven Republicans, including Susan Collins of the northeastern state of Maine.

“The right to work is fundamental," she said. "How can we in good conscience deny that right to any LGBT American who is qualified and willing to work?”

No senator took the floor Monday to speak in opposition to ENDA. But despite the bill’s exemptions for religious organizations, some conservative groups have decried ENDA as an affront to people of faith and an attack on religious liberty.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner issued a statement saying the bill will encourage frivolous lawsuits and hamper job creation. Without Boehner’s backing, it is not likely ENDA will get a vote in the House, and it is not clear the bill would pass there even if it did.

Many of America’s best-known corporations already have policies banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Polls show large majorities of Americans not only support workplace protections for gay people, but mistakenly believe such protections already exist nationwide. Current U.S. law bans discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and disability.

More than four dozen countries have laws protecting gays in the workplace, including many European nations, Canada, Israel and Australia.

Wall Street hedge fund paying
$1.8 billion for insider trades

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Federal prosecutors say one of Wall Street's most successful hedge funds, SAC Capital Advisors, has agreed to pay a total of $1.8 billion to settle charges it encouraged rampant insider trading for many years.

Federal prosecutors say SAC employees used information not available to the general public to illegally make major trades. Using such non-public information gave SAC an unfair advantage over rival investors.

SAC also agreed to stop managing money for outside investors, and establish strong rules and practices to prevent future insider trading.

At least five SAC employees have pleaded guilty to insider trading and two more face trial soon.

Prosecutors say they think the $1.8 billion penalty is the largest ever charged for insider trading offenses. The total fine includes more than $600 million already paid in connection with this case. The settlement must still be approved by a judge.


Rent-a-chicken business seems
to be successful near D.C.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

As the interest in organic and locally-produced food has increased, raising chickens in the backyard has been gaining popularity among American city dwellers. But poultry farming is not right for everyone. A young entrepreneur outside Washington helps customers find out if it's a good fit for them before they invest in chicken ownership. The business seems to be poised for a bright future.

Collecting eggs is a daily pleasure for the Hurst family.

The family started to raise chickens in their suburban Maryland backyard three weeks ago.

“We have been wanting to try having backyard chickens for a couple of years now.  And really just didn’t have the time to build my own coop and look out where to buy chickens.  And then we stumbled upon Rent a Coop," said Naomi Hurst.

Rent a Coop is a chicken rental business Tyler Phillips started 18 months ago with a partner.

"It comes with a mobile coop on wheels, two egg laying hens, feed, bedding, water bowl, feeding bowl, and our 24-hour chicken hotline," he said. "You can call with any questions. The price is $185 for four weeks."

After the four weeks, customers can extend the rental, return it or purchase the whole set-up.

“We average about 12 to 15 chicken coop rentals per month.  And since last year we’ve sold about 75 chicken coops with hens, so we’ve sold about 200 hens," said said Phillips.

Phillips designs and builds the coops, and makes them eco-friendly.

“We always try to have as many recycled materials as possible. And I want the coops to be safe for kids, number one.  I want the chickens to be comfortable and they have access to the grass while being inside the coop.  I want it to be easily movable, light weight," he said.

Phillips says his chicken and coop rental business came from his love of animals, growing up on his parents’ farm in the Washington suburbs. 

The Hursts hope their backyard farm teaches their daughter compassion and responsibility, and awareness of where food comes from.

“I don’t think we’ve ever thanked where food comes from.  But whenever we pick up the eggs we always say, 'Thank you, ladies.'  That’s really something that it is hard to teach other than having an animal in your backyard that delivers food to you.  So it’s been a great learning opportunity for my daughter too," said Ms. Hurst.

Eating fresh, organic eggs every day is another benefit, Ms. Hurst says, and the chickens have become family pets.

"Their names are, what are their names? Hillary, Lady Katy and Henrietta," she said. "We have had a lot of fun with them.  The chickens have been very easy. “We are going to keep these ladies absolutely."

Cities have different regulations for backyard livestock; some require large yards, or neighbors' agreement, others limit the number of chickens or prohibit them altogether. Phillips expects that to change as interest in small poultry flocks grows.

"I see cities around the D.C. area changing laws almost monthly and different cities will change the law to being pro-chicken. That is happening all around the United States," he said.

Phillips said he believes that there will be chicken rental businesses in most U.S. cities within five years.

SR 72
Lockheed Martin graphic
The SR-72 is seen in this artist's conception.

Next generation fighting craft
will go six times speed of sound

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The successor to the world’s fastest plane is in the works, according to Lockheed Martin.

The hypersonic SR-72, when operational, could boast speeds up to Mach 6, six times the speed of sound, and double the speed of the now-retired SR-71 Blackbird, which has held the speed record since 1976.

In a statement, Lockheed Martin said the “son of Blackbird” would be so fast that “an adversary would have no time to react or hide.” The plane is likely to be unmanned. The speed is a bit more than two kilometers a second or 2,042 meters per second.  That's about 6,700 feet per second at sea level although the speed of sound differs at various altitudes.

“Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour,” said Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin program manager, Hypersonics. “  Speed is the next aviation advancement to counter emerging threats in the next several decades.

Many of the advancements planned for the SR-72 come from the rocket-launched Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) developed by Lockheed Martin and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

The HTV-2 research and development project was designed to collect data on the technical challenges of hypersonic flight: aerodynamics, aerothermal effects, and guidance, navigation and control.

The SR-72’s design incorporates lessons learned from the HTV-2, which flew to a top speed of Mach 20, or 13,000 mph, with a surface temperature of 3,500°F.

The company said the SR-72 could be operational by 2030.

Vietnam opens more areas
for search for missing GIs

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Vietnam advised the United States at the start of high-level talks this week it would open four additional sites to investigators seeking the remains of American military personnel missing since the Vietnam War, a senior U.S. defense official said.

Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Vikram Singh, who oversees U.S. military ties with South and Southeast Asia, said an eight-member delegation led by Senior Lt. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh told U.S. defense officials about the decision at the outset of talks at the Pentagon this week.

“They basically opened the meeting by turning over the information and providing us access to an additional four sites for remains recovery operations to go look for our fallen,” said Singh, calling it a really meaningful gesture.

A U.S. official said Friday the sites were in the southern part of Vietnam and were small areas where specific incidents are believed to have taken place. Officials declined to elaborate, citing concerns for the families of the missing.

The Defense Department's POW/Missing Personnel Office says 1,643 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War, including 1,275 in Vietnam and the rest in Laos, Cambodia and China. The office has investigated 600 of the Vietnam cases and believes it will not be possible to recover the remains, leaving 675 still being sought in that country.

Vinh's delegation visited the Pentagon for talks that take place annually between the former enemies, which have been deepening military ties over the past decade.

The pace of contact between the two countries has increased in recent years as the United States has moved to refocus its energies on the Asia-Pacific region after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rebalancing takes place amid concerns among Washington and Asian allies about China's growing assertiveness in the region.

Then-U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta visited Vietnam last year, stopping at Cam Ranh Bay to visit a U.S. Navy supply vessel undergoing repairs, before traveling to Hanoi for talks with senior defense leaders.

“In the year since then, what we've seen is just an across-the-board deepening of defense ties,” Singh said in an interview this week. He noted that Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel both served in the Vietnam War and had a special interest in the country.

The United States and Vietnam have been cooperating in five areas since signing a memo of understanding in 2011: peacekeeping, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, search and rescue, and high-level exchanges.

Singh said the two countries had been increasing cooperation on peacekeeping over the past year after Vietnam changed its laws and regulations to permit its military forces to participate in international peacekeeping operations.

“We see it as in our interest for all the Southeast Asian nations to be active supporters and contributors to peacekeeping operations,” he said.

The two sides also set the stage for further cooperation on maritime security during the visit, Singh said. Admiral Robert Papp, commandant of the Coast Guard, and Maj. Gen. Nguyen Quang Dam, commander of Vietnam's coast guard, signed an agreement formalizing their decision to work together on equipment, training and capacity building.

“Having this cooperation is an opportunity for us to work together with them on things that we think will help contribute to overall peace and stability in the South China Sea,” said Singh.

The South China Sea has been the scene of increasing tensions in the region, as China and other countries have advanced competing territorial claims around the resource-rich waterway.

India prepares to launch
its space probe to Mars

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

India is counting down its launch of a space probe to Mars, seeking to become one of only a few nations to reach the Red Planet.

India will launch the unmanned craft today from the southeastern island of Sriharikota, the start of a 300-day journey to Mars.

The orbiter will gather data to help determine how weather systems work on Mars. It also will investigate what happened to the water that is believed to have existed on the planet, and it will look for the chemical methane, a key component to life on Earth.

Only the United States, Russia and the European Union have succeeded in reaching Earth's neighbor. More than half the world's attempts to send a probe to orbit Mars have failed, including attempts by Japan and China.

The United States is the only nation to have successfully sent explorers to land on Mars, the most recent being Curiosity.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, says it will help to monitor the Indian orbiter from three deep-space facilities. It also will send its own probe, Maven, to Mars later this month.

NASA says some of the data Maven will collect will complement the research gathered by the Indian craft.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

Project completion specialists
Casa del pacifico logo
Pacifica living
A turnkey home and project completion agency devoted to creative vision and flawless execution. We provide a single, solid and dedicated point of contact for the duration of your real estate project, specializing in:

                      • Building completion services
                      • Interior design & decoration
                      • Custom furniture design & manufacturing.

Our primary goal is to assist our clients with a smooth transition to occupancy while providing highly personalized and distinctive services. We have refined the process to be a hassle free experience, especially valuable for clients who live abroad. We customize to suit each client’s personal taste, lifestyle and budget.
Serving region for 10 years.
We regularly exceed client expectations. We guarantee it.
Cell phone: (506) - 8707-8008
Office phone: (506) - 2288-5644

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

Swimming pool at night
A Buyer’s Broker offering the best
of Costa Rica Real Estate.

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 2228-5961 or 8339-2112.

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
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.

Moran Arenal
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
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

Central America
Houses, lots and farms in Grecia,
western Central Valley.
Great climate
and safe communities.

Visit our Web Site:

English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 768
1,000 square meters of land and 350 square meters of construction. HERE!
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Med house
Mediterranean inspired home overlooking the Bay of Nicoya and Pacific Ocean. This design allows for barrier free living, yet maximizes views from every room in the house . Vaulted ceiling over the living area and kitchen give the great room it’s spacious, open feeling with a natural stone fireplace and imported Spanish tile floors. $365,000.   Property: 22,000 m2 or 5.5 acres. Construction: 4,500 sq. ft. including porches and garage. 3 nedrooms, 2 baths, full dining room, separate office. Custom wrought iron gates, custom exotic wood cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances, Granite countertops.    Slide show at   
For more information contact:

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

San Mateo pool


Includes 4-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-story house built to American standards with a balcony overlooking full-sized swimming pool and rancho with a bathroom and a shower room, and landscaped tropical gardens.  There are two large storage buildings, a carport and electric-gate access to the enclosed property.  It is a short drive to the highways to San José and the beaches.  Owner financing available.  Please call: +506 2446-4901

For sale is a beautiful 50-acre property located in Los Alpes, just 15 minutes outside of San Ramon. At about 4,000 feet above sea level, this finca provides gorgeous views of the Central Valley as well as the Pacific Ocean in the distance while also offering a wonderful climate year around. The main house is two stories with three bedrooms and two full baths. High quality construction using exotic hardwoods such as almond, which covers the ceilings throughout the entire house. There are also two corrals and a small casita on the property. This location is perfect for a farm-style home or for beginning an agricultural business. This truly is a rare piece of property and is available for $399,999. Price is somewhat negotiable and we will be happy to work with the buyer to make it work! Please call 8816-2478 or e-mail for more information ¡y se habla español!

Pacific Estates

Pacific Estates is divided into three distinct sections called Pacific Landings, Pacific Hills and Pacific Acres. Pacific Landings includes unique 2 & 3 bedroom homes incorporating pole house construction, cathedral ceilings, balconies on both the front and back of the house and eco-friendly elements. The homes also include granite counter tops, state-of-the-art stainless steel kitchen appliances, washer & dryer hook ups, internet connectivity and zone controlled A/C. These homes feature 1,290 square feet under A/C space and 1,537 square feet under A/C space with an optional Loft. To learn more about Pacific Estates, schedule a No Obligation Free Virtual Tour today by clicking here!

Samara church and lot
Commercial lot with great visibility in heart of Playa Sámara commercial district. Located alongside town's largest church, bank, hardware store/lumber yard, mini shopping plaza, and Pali (Sámara's largest supermarket). This lot has a large elevated building platform shaded with mature treees. All this makes for many commercial options.  One block from stunning "blue flag" beach. This is a perfect location for a eco/boutique hotel, restaurant/catering, apartments, or condominium. All utilities to this property. Lot size 1,414m2. Price 325K. Email:

Maui, 50 years ago!
One acre with all services located on the Nicoya Peninsula at about 2,400 feet below cloud level with the most intriguing panoramic views to the picturesque gulf, mountains and valleys, as well as sunset over the Pacific. 60,000 USD,    Cell 8916-5550.

Five bedroom home
Five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths plus guest house
Price reduced $100,000 for quick sale. Features include out door BBQ, swimming pool, plus on the beach. The home is completely furnished with U.S. products. Each room is individually air conditioned.  Hot water in bathrooms, kitchen and laundry room.  Fully furnished. Includes TV’s, refrigerator/freezer, dish washer, microwave, electric stove/oven, washer & dryer and many “as seen on TV” appliances.  To see more, go to YouTube
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email

humming bird nest

Bed & Breakfast for sale and personal home with 2 houses on property of 3/4 acre (3,030 m2) and buildings w/verandas & carport approximately 350 m2. One house at entrance is central to village w/gated parking lot and a 3-bedroom house for rental or employees/family w/carport/yard/gardens. A 50-meter sendero winds to the top among lush gardens where the main house is situated w/2 buildings attached by verandas & stairway to second floor.  There are 2 bedrooms, sala, 4 baths, large kitchen, laundry rooms, work bodega, storage bodega and hot tub on veranda w/tiled shower room.  Home is surrounded by tropical gardens, views of Arenal Volcano, panoramic views of Lake Arenal, private w/school owned property on one side, pasture land on back side and connecting entry gate on other side to Cabinas El Castillo & Fusion Restaurant.  A bird watcher's paradise w/hummingbirds, Montezuma, toucans, butterflies and visits from howler monkeys.  The B&B is listed four consecutive editions of Lonely Planet and the first established B&B in this area.  Photos can be viewed on the Web site:  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email:

Naranjo views


4254 msq. 1.2 acres - $59,000.00
• 10 minutes to the autopista and Naranjo centro
• Tranquil and Quiet
• Landscaped with fruit trees and flowering plants, and coffee#
• Incredible views - The Central Valley and nature reserve
• Close to public transportation - paved main road
• Building pad prepared and soil tested
• Survey/topo
• All services in place and underground - water/electricity/phone

Guiones retreat
Approximately half acre on the beach with private path to the surf. Very private three-home complex with pool, spacious patios with two wet bars, barbeque and yoga area. Featuring a three-bedroom ranch style home plus a two story Mexican villa style home with two master suites, large kitchen and living area with ocean views and breezes upstairs and a garden apartment downstairs with separate entrance. A caretaker's or teenager's cottage and lots of space for expansion. PRICED FOR QUICK SALE: $899,000.  Call 506 8867-8883 or

Beautiful fully renovated house in Bello Horizonte, Escazu, 446 sq. meters. Four bedrooms; four baths. Price includes all furniture and fixtures - ready to move in! Light, bright and airy....$550,000 USD. Telephone 2288.6451. More details HERE!

Condo for sale in Flamingo

Ocean view 3-bedroom, 3 1/2-bathroom condo. Designer furnished 1,800 square feet, gated community. Only six units. Huge pool and balcony, pet friendly, parking, walking distance to Flamingo beach, banks, grocery store, farmacia, etc. New building. $349,000 asking. Ask for photos. 8705-0056. or 1-800-536-2322.

Guaancaate condos
Little Dreams La Colina Magnolias

Great Guanacaste Beach Condos Available

$28,500 - Little Dreams - Ocotal beach studio condo, furnished upper floor condo in great complex just 1 mile from Ocotal beach, 2 miles from Coco beach, great price for this complex.
$70,000 - La Colina - another Ocotal beach 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo, 80 m2 and fully furnished with upgraded kitchen, complex has Infinity pool, mountain views.

$75,000 Magnolias 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath townhome just 1 minute's walk from Coco beach and the 2 beach clubs in Coco. Nicely furnished, walk to town, 67 m2, perfect location.
Find out more information on these and other condos at my website All 3 of these condos are about 35 minutes away from Liberia Intl. airport, no need to drive a long way to get to your condo.  Call for more information, 1-415-670-9382 or 011-506-826-1211. Or email

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:

Nicoya views
Property with ocean and gulf view for sale
Tranquil million dollar view, 5,000-sq.meter property with 3/2 home built to American standards, artistically designed and decorated, 16-foot ceilings of mango and tamarindo, appliances, plunge pool, rancho, caretaker apartment, workshop, covered parking, views of Gulf of Nicoya and ocean, in countryside near San José to Caldera highway. Near the lovely town of Esparza. Can provide extra income from bed and breakfast room rental and stellar Tripadvisor reviews. $180,000 506-8869-9274.

For Sale By Owner
1 lot (1.5 acres)  at SIBU (8 lots total) amongst 50 acres of protected jungle gardens with sunset ocean views of Playa Nosara. Underground electric and water.13 minutes from Playa Guiones. Gated. In house financing available. Home of SIBU Sanctuary.

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Business for sale or lease (paid category)71

beach scenes
Established Hotel/Resort -Great Business Opportunity:
The owner/manager of a successful hotel on the Gold Coast of Costa Rica has listed their property with us. It is a successful and ongoing concern. The property and buildings are well built and maintained. The property has a history of repeat clients. To protect the business for the current and future owners, detailed information of the listing will only be shared after an expression of interest and a non-disclosure confidentiality agreement is executed. It is located about one hour of Liberia airport and less than 500 meters to beach. The land is over 1 hectare allowing room for expansion. There are 18 bedrooms in a variety of apartments, cabinas and houses, A/C, bar restaurant and shop. Near golf, horses, tennis, world class surf and more. Listing Price of $US2.4 million. Mary or Jerre West,, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603

In the nine years of operation, DIGITS Resource Guide has grown to cover the entire Southern Pacific Zone, and opened the door to further penetration in San Jose, Jacó, Manuel Antonio, and Osa Peninsula areas.  DIGITS is the only one of its kind with no comparable competition. With the extensive groundwork that has already been achieved, the business is now poised to expand into an even greater level of success. Operating since 2005, the owner is retiring to another Latin American country. For a preview of the magazine, go to, or simply go to a local Distributor for a copy. Details on the business, its history, a strategic analysis of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as a Pro-Forma Income Statement from 2008 through to 2013 are available upon request to aha_jm@yahoo.

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, Tuesday,  Nov. 5, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 219
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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

Mexico sends in its army
to violent Michoacan

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexican armed forces have taken charge of security in the Pacific port of Lazaro Cardenas, a major cargo hub in a part of the country struggling to contain violent drug gangs.
The government said Monday that units of the army, navy and federal police were moving in to oversee access to and around Lazaro Cardenas, one of Mexico's principal gateways to trade with Asia on the southern flank of Michoacan state.
Michoacan has been a regular flashpoint for shootings and attacks on officials since President Enrique Peña Nieto took power 11 months ago pledging to bring an end to widespread violence stemming from warring drug cartels.
Government spokesman Eduardo Sánchez said the decision to replace local police in Lazaro Cardenas was part of a series of measures aimed at restoring stability to Michoacan.
The specter of terrorism was conjured up by some security experts when various installations belonging to Mexico's state-run electricity company were temporarily knocked out in a series of attacks in Michoacan last weekend.
Throughout the year, serious gunfights have broken out in the state and Peña Nieto himself admitted this summer that gangs had taken control of parts of Michoacan.
Among the victims of the local violence was a vice admiral killed in a road ambush in July, and a state congressman who was hacked to death with a machete in September.
Peña Nieto's predecessor as president, Felipe Calderón, launched his military-led offensive against drug cartels in Michoacan shortly after taking office in December 2006.
But Calderón could not bring the gangs to heel, and around 80,000 people have since been killed in drug-related violence.
Lazaro Cardenas handles the largest volume of general cargo of any Mexican port, according to the Mexican tax office.

President is in France

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Laura Chinchilla and Anabel González, the minister of Comercio Exterior, are in France meeting officials there and on their way to Rome and a meeting with Pope Francis.

Today they were scheduled to attend a session of the Organisation for Cooperation and Economic Development, which the country seeks to join.

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From Page 7:

Dec. 16 is deadline to duck corporate tax

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Jan. 1 will be the date to begin paying the 2014 corporate tax by owners of several different types of entities. The most common ones are sociedades anónimas and sociedades de responsabilidad limitada, as well as foreign companies that are registered to do business in Costa Rica.

Corporations have 30 days to pay the tax without penalty.

The amount for next year is still unknown because, like many other financial assessments, including some fines, the payment is based on half the salary of a judicial office worker. That is how Ley 7337 specified a financial base so that it is sensitive to inflation. That salary for next year has not been established. Usually the judiciary does that every year sometime in November.

Next year, 2014, will be the third year that the tax is being collected. This year the amount was 189,700 colons (about $380)  for an active corporation and half that for an inactive one.

The Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio issued a reminder Monday that there is a way around the tax. Companies that are registered with the ministry as a pequeña y mediana empresa do not have to pay the tax. But the deadline this year to register is Dec. 16, the ministry said.

The tax law, Ley 9024, specifically includes these entities that are known in English as small and medium firms.

This is the legislature's way of giving small business a break, but not every small corporation is eligible. For example, many expats hold their vehicle or home in a corporation. These would not be eligible because to be free of the tax, the corporation has to be a real business engaged in commerce.

Registering with the ministry gives a firm the edge when seeking contracts with the government. There also are special financing programs for small businesses and a host of ministry services, including a television station. Periodically the ministry runs expos in which registered companies may exhibit.

Some advisers suggest not registering because the firms that do so must reveal the names of their shareholders and make public company data, including income.

The ministry has an entire section on a Web page about the program.