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(506) 2223-1327                       Published Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, in Vol. 12, No. 236                          Email us
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Jo Stuart

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Different groups advance plans for country's future
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Times Square ball has not come down to mark the beginning of 2012, but the political season is well under way with an eye to the 2014 elections. But
Via Costa Rica
Via already has a logo
there is not a clear trend.

Former president  José María Figueres Olsen, who says he is not a presidential candidate, nevertheless has come out with what he called  Plan País Vía Costa Rica.  Figueres is a distant
third in popularity among members of the Partido Liberación Nacional. That party's presidential candidate will be either Johnny Araya, the current mayor of San José, or Rodrigo Arias Sánchez, the brother of the former president. So the plan by Figueres appears to be the initial step in creating another political party.

Another series of proposals that stop short of being a full-blown political party is the Agenda estratégica para el futuro de Costa Rica. This coalition includes professionals, academics and former public employees, according to a summary released by Jaime Ordoñez, the coordinator.

Helio Fallas, a former cabinet official and an economist, said that the country cannot continue favoring the concentration of wealth. In addition the Agenda estratégica may urge changes in the nation's tax system to eliminate loopholes.
Some 50 persons are said to have been involved in creating these proposals. They were outlined Monday at a meeting in La Sabana.

Under Costa Rican law, President Laura Chinchilla cannot run immediately for reelection, and public opinion polls show that she could not win anyway.

In the meantime, her Partido Liberación Nacional continues to dominate the legislature, and other once-strong parties seem to have fallen on hard times.

However, some politicians think that Liberación, despite its strong grassroots organization, may be vulnerable. So this has encouraged competition.

The Alianza Patriótica is coming of age as a full-scale national political party. The core mainly include those who still oppose the free trade treaty with the United States and other Central American countries.

There still is a lot of crossover among these groups as they maneuver for leverage in the coming year.

Former Liberación presidential candidate Rolando Araya, for example, was the presidential candidate of Alianza Patriótica in 2010. He recently announced that he supports his brother for the Liberación nomination. But he also has been in discussions with Figueres and is listed as one of the 50 persons who helped draw up the Agenda estratégica.

Moderate quakes continue to take place in Pacific
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Pacific coast continues to shake from earthquakes that originate in the tension between two tectonic plates.

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica reported a 9 a.m. Monday event that has an estimated epicenter in the Pacific Ocean off Tamarindo.

At 8:42 p.m. a quake took place in the middle of the mouth of the gulf of Nicoya about 19 kilometers east of Tambor on the Nicoya peninsula, said the  
Laboratorio, which estimated the magnitude at 3.7. The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico estimated both quakes at 3.8.

The moderate quakes continue to be a daily occurrence in that area where the Cocos tectonic plate is inching under the lighter Caribbean plate.
The Sept. 5 quake with a magnitude of 7.6 off the Pacific coast of the peninsula still is creating replicas.

There also was a 3.2-magnitude quake a kilometer east of Santo Domingo de Nicoya at 7:53 a.m. Monday, said the Observatorio.

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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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Modified corn opponents
march to give their side

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Opponents of a genetically modified strain of corn are on the highway visiting communities to present their case.

The activists plan to hike 200 kilometers from Matambú, Guanacaste, to San José. They oppose the introduction to Costa Rica of a modified corn strain that resists herbicides. Farmers who plant the modified corn can use certain chemicals on the fields to kill weeds without damaging the corn plants. The march started Sunday.

The proposal to use the modified corn seeds is before the agricultural ministry's Comisión Técnica Nacional de Bioseguridad. A local subsidiary of Monsanto, Delta & Pine Land y Semillas del Trópico S.A., has sought permission to plant the modified corn.

Among other arguments by opponents is that the pollen of the modified plants will pollute other corn plants because the pollen is distributed by the air.

The marchers represent a number of environmental organizations, including the Bloque Verde.

At the same time Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica released a letter it sent to the Comisión Técnica Nacional de Bioseguridad listing reasons why the application should be denied. Among the claims in the letter is that Guanacaste was part of the ancestral center of corn cultivation.

Silent auction to raise
funds for kids' Yule party

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Friends of Pato Loco, a non-profit organization in Playas del Coco, will prepare for the annual Christmas party with a silent auction fundraiser Dec. 3.

The items for auction include deals from local restaurants and businesses.  Condo owners are also giving away lodgings and artists have made some of their works available. 

“We are getting a lot of responses and generosity,” said Patricia Dijkgraaf, former owner of Pato Loco Inn.

All the proceeds will go toward a Christmas party for 30 underprivileged children from Bambú and the La Islita region of Filadelfia.  These children will receive toys, clothes and educational materials such as notebooks, delivered from a dressed up Santa Claus.

“It is the first time in the lives of these kids that they will have new toys and clothes,” Ms. Dijkgraaf said.

This is the fifth year that Mary Ramona Cox, owner and manager of Pato Loco Inn, and, Ms. Dijkgraaf have offered this event. 

This year Dave Reynolds of the Papagayo Golf and Country Club has made his facility, which includes a pool, available for the children.  They will enjoy pizza and fruit drinks by the poolside, the organization said.

“It is a unique experience for them and will create positive memories,” a release said.

Also, the Friends of Pato Loco will prepare large food packets for the families, to ensure they will have at least a decent Christmas.
The silent auction will be held at the Pato Loco Inn from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.  Items for the auction will be at the Pato Loco Friday.

Robbers invade home

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three armed men stuck up an elderly woman outside of her home and forced her to let them inside to rob the place in Garavilias in Desamparados at 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, according to a bulletin from the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Once the three men were inside, they tied up the woman's husband and escaped in their nearby car with about 4 million colons in cash, which is about $8,000, investigators said.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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A.M. Costa Rica Third News Page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 236
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Christmas anti-crime effort
Law officers come out with annual warning

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

As the Christmas season approaches, the Fuerza Pública steps up its program of crime prevention.

Officials recognize that many Costa Ricans receive their annual aguinaldo or Christmas bonus, thereby providing attractive targets for thieves.

With the increase use of credit cards there in not as much cash in the streets as in previous years, but thieves are a resourceful bunch who come up with new strategies when needed.

The security ministry came out with 39 suggestions Monday for citizen to avoid criminals. Most are pretty routine: Don't flash sums of money in a bar. Don't accept help from strangers. Keep personal financial information to yourself.

The ministry also warned residents about business deals offered by unknown persons.

Some of the suggestions are new this year. The ministry urged residents to keep an eye on glass windows while shopping to spot any possible criminals nearby in the reflection. It also urged residents to report any strangers lurking near their homes.

The ministry and its Fuerza Pública also urged citizens not to resist robbers.

The Fuerza Pública said that there were  3,466 complaints filed with the Judicial Investigating Organization last December.

Juan José Andrade Morales, the director general of the Fuerza Pública, said that national-level athletes and performers have joined a campaign to raise public awareness. They include Gabriela Traña, who runs marathons;  Leonardo Chacón, who represented the country at the Olympics in the triathalon;  Patrick Pemberton, a soccer star, and two musical groups, Korporación and Grupo Percance.

The presentation of these national figures was accompanied by a visit of a blue Santa, who wore the colors of a police officer.

Police have erected a total of 13 watchtowers at key locations to keep an eye on crowds.
blue Santa
He's making a list . . .

Overseas American group meets with U.S. tax officials
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An advocacy group for overseas Americans said its representative met earlier this month with U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service officials. The discussion was aimed at pointing out the problems with new legislation covering citizens who live in foreign countries.

The organization, American Citizens Abroad, said that it continued to highlight the serious ramifications that the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act legislation and Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts were causing, primarily in the denial of foreign financial services for Americans living overseas.

Much of the discussion centered on technical requirements and changes that might make these reporting requirements easier for U.S. citizens, said the organization.

American Citizens Abroad and other overseas organizations also strongly recommended that an ongoing dialogue for these issues is necessary and suggested that a working group or advisory panel be created where members of the overseas organizations, and other Americans living outside the U.S., along with Treasury Department and IRS representatives could meet on a regular basis to review and discuss the workings of the U.S. tax and foreign assets reporting system as applied to Americans abroad. The goal would be to identify areas of concern and to develop solutions that can be implemented with the help of both taxpayers and the government, it said.
American Citizens Abroad said that it was pleased to see that following the meeting, the Treasury Department issued an updated agreement that includes easing measures for overseas financial institutions that will allow them to maintain American clients.

As Forbes magazine explained, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, was enacted in 2010 and requires foreign banks to report U.S. account holders to the IRS. Plus, the institutions must impose a 30 percent tax on payments or transfers to account holders who refuse to identify themselves.

To avoid withholding, an institution must enter into an agreement with the IRS to: identify U.S. accounts, report certain information to the IRS, and withhold 30 percent on certain payments to those unwilling to provide the required information.

American Citizens Abroad and other expat advocacy organizations have been opposing the law that goes into full effect next year.

According to American Citizens Abroad, the new version of the agreement contains provisions that in certain cases require a foreign financial institution to avoid policies or practices that discriminate against opening or maintaining accounts for Americans overseas.

This modification is aimed at small financial institutions with essentially a local client base, the organization said.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 236
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This is 'Swimmers,' acrylic on canvas

Former museum director
presents a double show

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The former director of the Museum de Arte Costarricense has a double show in Liberia starting this weekend.

She is Florencia Urbina Crespos, who also is an internationally known artist. Her work will be featured at the Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia starting Friday. There is a formal opening of her show Saturday at 10 a.m. at the  Hidden Garden Art Gallery five kilometers west of the airport.

The title of the show is "Boom Goes the Tropics," which feature what the gallery calls intense tropical works. The show runs until Jan. 10.

Ms. Urbina will be present at the opening Saturday, said the gallery, which said one of her hallmarks is transforming light and color into three-dimensional shapes. Ms. Urbina's uninhibited style and her use of powerful colors and strong lines brings a new perspective to her revitalized neo-figurative work, said the gallery.

Ms. Urbina, who was born in Costa Rica, studied art in Costa Rica, the United States and Indonesia. Her works are included in many national and international collections. Among the awards she has won is the Costa Rican Premio Nacional de Pintura, said the gallery.

More information is available from the gallery at 2667-0592 or 8386-6872.

Another women is killed
in vehicle mishap in Limón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial police arrested a man in connection to a hit-and-run case in which one woman was killed Sunday evening in Limón province.

This was the second set of pedestrians to be hit by a passing car in a matter of several hours between the city of Limón and the Panamanian border, according to bulletins from the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In this latest case, a 48-year-old woman identified by the name Zamora was walking with her boyfriend along a roadside near San Clemente around 6:30 p.m. when they were hit by a Mazda pickup truck, according to the bulletin.

A judicial spokesperson said that the suspected driver was 35-year-old Luis Angel Brenes Vega. Investigators said that Brenes left the scene before authorities arrived, but police took him into custody at around 8 p.m. that evening. 

The bulletin said that police administered a test to see if he was under the influence of alcohol.

Also last weekend a Swiss man was also arrested after his vehicle struck another couple on the highway. One woman died in the mishap near Hone Creek. Investigators identified him by the last name of Rolf.  They said he was an auto mechanic who worked in Puerto Viejo.

Have a Heart golf tourney
again planned for Feb. 14

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The 13th Annual “Have a Heart” Charity Golf Tournament will be held Feb. 14 at the Hacienda Pinilla golf course. 

The annual Valentine’s Day event is the major fundraiser for Amigos de la Educación Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to underprivileged youth and helps improve school infrastructure. 

Registration for the golf tournament is available at the Amigos’ office in Tamarindo, Plaza Tamarindo, Suite A-10, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5pm. Registration details are available at 

The registration fee includes a cocktail party at Villa Alegre B & B in Playa Langosta Feb. 12 at 7 p.m., nine holes of complementary practice golf at Hacienda Pinilla Feb. 13, and all the Valentine’s Day festivities the following day, said the organization.

That includes breakfast, golf tournament, and an awards luncheon with a silent auction and raffle. 

Amigos de la Educación helps students and schools in Cartagena, 27th de Abril, Villarreal, Huacas, El LLanito, La Garita, Matapalo and Portegolpe.

The Annual “Have a Heart” Charity Golf Tournament is Amigos de la Educación's big fundraising event for the year. 

Four held in robbery-murder
of businessman in Quepos

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial agents raided four homes in the Quepos area to detain four men believed linked to the robbery and murder of a local businessman.

The victim, identified by the last name of  Tijerino, was found Saturday morning by someone who also found his vehicle partly submerged in an irrigation canal. He was believed to be carrying a payroll when he was intercepted by robbers.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said he was shot and stabbed.

The raids took place at 5 a.m. Monday in the Inmaculada section of Quepos, said the investigative agency. Agents said they confiscated a firearm.

Pavas man gunned down

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Judicial investigators said that someone gunned down a 21-year-old Pavas resident in the Rincón Grande section about 2 p.m. Monday. The victim was identified with the last name of Vargas. Agents said the man was struck by bullets five times.
Your links to a great vacation
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Periodically we like to feature our tourism and retirement experts on the news pages for the benefit of our overseas readers.

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

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Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 236
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Hurricane Sandy damage
estimate at $71 billion

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Damage from superstorm Sandy that struck the U.S. East Coast last month will cost more than $71 billion in three northeastern states.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that damage from the storm totaled $42 billion across his state. He said the tally includes the more than $32 billion needed for repairs and $9 billion for prevention expenses.

Cuomo said the state will request federal disaster aid.

Earlier, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city suffered $19 billion in storm-related losses, which is part of the state estimate.

The Oct. 29 hurricane caused havoc in the city, flooding homes and subway tunnels and downing power lines, leaving parts of the city in darkness for days.

Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the storm caused more than $24 billion in damages.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy said there were more than $360 million in damages to his state's businesses, homes and public property.

British traveler visits
201 of world's nations

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A British man, Graham Hughes, says he has broken a world record by traveling to every sovereign state in the world without flying.  He just entered South Sudan, the world’s newest country and the last on the list for Hughes.
Brandishing an overstuffed passport from all the visas he collected while making what he calls his odyssey, Hughes celebrated his self-proclaimed record for being the first person to travel to 201 sovereign states.
The 33-year-old Briton, who hails from Liverpool, has been on the road for almost four years. Remarkably, he made the journey strictly by land transportation and by sea.
“Today is the 1,426th day of the odyssey expedition, which is my world-record-breaking attempt, which is to be the first person to visit every country in the world without flying," he said.
On a shoestring budget funded by donations from family and friends, he says he hitchhiked, stayed on people’s couches, and only ate local food on his journey.
Wearing a cowboy hat and saddled with three small bags in tatters, Hughes said when he first announced his plans, no one was convinced he would make it this far.
“Most people thought that I was a bit mad, a lot of people thought it was impossible, a lot of people thought it could not be done.  Most of the questions involved how are you going to get to Iraq, how are you going to get to Afghanistan and Somalia, to be honest those were the easy countries to get to," he said.
He said officials on the Turkish border waived a visa requirement and let him in to Iraq for 10 days.
It was getting to islands like Sao Tome and Nauru that were often served by only one monthly cargo ship that proved the most difficult.  But Hughes had imposed rules on himself that he had to set foot on dry land in each country to complete his task.
Highlights included watching the last space shuttle launch in the United States and traveling around Africa.  The lowlights included his detention for six days in the Democratic Republic of Congo on suspicion of being a spy.  He was also detained in Cape Verde.
But Hughes says it was the people, not places that topped the list.
“The main highlight I have to say in this trip, has just been for me, has been the reaffirmation of my faith in humanity and the fact that people I have met on the road have been so friendly and hospitable," he said.
His low points were flying home last year after finding out his sister had a terminal illness and carrying on after she died, then breaking up with his girlfriend of 10 years in the final months.
Hughes broke a world record the first year of his trip by visiting 133 countries.  He then knocked off all 193 U.N. member states, as well as places like Palestine, Kosovo and Taiwan that are widely considered if not officially recognized as sovereign.
Hughes said his early inspiration came from British comic Michael Palin of Monty Python fame, who presented an "80 Days Around the World" TV show in the 1980s. But Hughes says he always wanted Palin to live up to the show’s title.

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Climate change confab opens
with call for new agreement

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and special reports

The U. N. Conference on Climate Change began Monday in Doha, Qatar.  Delegates from nearly 200 countries hope to forge a new agreement on curbing industrial emissions that extends the Kyoto Protocol, the global climate change treaty due to expire this year.

The conference president, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hama Al-Attiyah, reminded delegates in the cavernous Doha National Convention Center that the agenda for the two-week meeting is ambitious and challenging.

"We must achieve a second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol," he said.  "We must achieve progress in what we undertook in Durban."

In Durban negotiators agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 climate change treaty that expires this year.  The protocol identified increased atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, such as industrial CO2 emissions, as a major factor in climate change, and it set emission- reduction goals for industrialized countries. 

However, delegates exempted emerging economies like China, India and Brazil, which are now among the world’s largest emitters. 

This year in Doha, climate experts hope negotiators can come up with a more equitable formula for curbing carbon emissions. 

The executive secretary of the conference, Costa Rican  Christina Figueres, told delegates to seize the opportunity. She highlighted recent UN-led reports which point to the urgency of keeping global average temperatures from rising beyond an internationally agreed level of two degrees Celsius, beyond which climate change would have serious impacts.

“On this historic occasion the Gulf region has an unequalled world stage to showcase the contributions made to reduce the Gulf’s food and water vulnerabilities, to put regional energy growth on a more sustainable path and to build a safer, stronger and resilient energy future for all countries,” she said.

The U.N. climate meeting continues through Dec. 7.

Analysis published by the World Bank last week shows the world remains at risk of seeing a four degree Celsius rise in temperatures by the end of the century.

Ms. Figueres stressed that countries can still reverse these trends if they decide to act, since the knowledge, technology and policy options needed to curb emissions are already available to them. However, she emphasized that time is running out.

“Expert analysis consistently says that we do have the possibility to keep on track and that to act now is safer and much less costly than to delay,” she said. “In the last three years, policy and action towards a sustainable, clean energy future has been growing faster than ever. But the door is closing fast because the pace and scale of action is simply not yet enough. So Doha must deliver its part in the longer-term solution.”

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