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(506) 2223-1327           Published Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, in Vol. 11, No. 235       Email us
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Conflicting maps may jeopardize land ownership
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

This is the time to have a trusted surveyor second check to see if there are overlaying maps on any property owned in Costa Rica.  If there are contradicting maps, the uncertainty could soon cause big trouble.

Around three years ago, the Registro Nacional and its Catastro or plat map department started a plan to crosscheck properties.  Before this time, there was little or no checking done.  Now Registro workers are using sophisticated equipment, including NASA photographs to check map overlays.

Here is a true story that happened recently.
There was a guard watching a property for some expat property owners.  A little old man kept coming by saying to the guard, "You are living in my house." The guard thought nothing of it until one day a lawyer showed up with the police and told the guard to get out.  The guard was not easily intimidated, so he ran everyone off with his machete. 

The old man stopped coming by, and the guard felt at ease.  However, in the last few weeks the attorney showed up with the police and said he now owned the house and served the guard legal papers.  The peon – a term used in Costa Rica to mean a manual laborer – could not read or write, so he called the lawyer of the expats who owned the property.

As it turns out, there is a map registered almost 30 years ago that covers 700 meters that was subdivided off the property.  However, this map was never registered as a deed.

In Costa Rica, anyone could make a map, and up until now could probably get it registered at the plat department.  This is the very reason the Registro Nacional and the Catastro department are merging their efforts to help legitimate property owners.

In the case of the guard, the legal papers called him a squatter and said he needed to get off the property in four days or be thrown off by force. Since he could not read or write, he did not notice the person that served him the papers did not sign or stamp them.

A week of hell broke out.  First, the officer who served the papers had to be found to sign and stamp the legal documents.  Second, the legal owners of the property had to be found to sign all the paperwork to prove the guard was really a worker, enrolled in the Caja social security system and had workmen's compensation.

Lastly, a lawyer had to draw up the legal paperwork to prove that the expats really bought the property and had a legal certified map for the land.

This whole ordeal is just a ruse to get possession of the house in which the guard is living. If intruders do get possession, to remove them would be a long, drawn out, expensive court battle.
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As it turns out, the very old map does not even involve property close to the house where the guard lives but somewhere else down a long country road.

In another case, in another area of the country, a map showed a walking bridge crossing a river to an expats property.  The bridge was washed away years ago.  The owner of the property on the other side of the river sued the expat to rebuild the bridge. 

A long court battle ensued.  In the first decision of the court, the expat was told to rebuild the bridge.  The appeals court overturned the ruling, stating that mother nature destroyed the bridge many years ago and it was too late to complain about it now.

Expats can do something about this problem of maps overlaying each other, but it does take a surveyor in most cases.  Workers in the plat department at the Registro Nacional do not like outsiders in their midst.  However, with this said, it is not impossible for a person to take the map of their property to the catastro department and ask if there are any other maps registered on top of the document or anywhere else on their property.

Usually, the normal procedure is that surveyors – referred to as topographers in Costa Rica – have access to the computers and can actually go in the computer room and look for themselves.

If a problem is found, the Registro Nacional will do an investigation on any abnormalities – in most cases – and nowadays will cancel maps that are not correct.  Actually, that is their goal, to purge old maps that never turned into true deeds and only keep the maps that have been registered properly and have a legal deed attached to them.

Expats need to be aware to be a jump ahead of the scammers and have a current copy of the plat map that represents property along with the deed of purchase. 

Again, a trusted surveyor can check to see if there are any other maps that have been registered — even a little map — if it exists on an expat's property.  If one is found, owners should get it canceled.

Garland M. Baker is a 39-year resident and naturalized citizen of Costa Rica who provides multidisciplinary professional services to the international community.  Reach him at  Baker has undertaken the research leading to these series of articles in conjunction with A.M. Costa Rica.  Find the collection at, a complimentary reprint is available at the end of each article.  Copyright 2011, use without permission prohibited.

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Our reader's opinion
There is more to report
on Puriscal death of girl

EDITOR'S NOTE; The following is written in response to a news article about the death of Nikoline Hill, 13. The original article is HERE!

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

On Wednesday, Nov. 23, an article was published on the front page of A.M. Costa Rica about Nikoline’s death and the “long-running dispute on vaccinations” between her family and government officials in Puriscal. My hope, is that anyone aware of this tragic saga will take the time to read more than just that article published in the daily English publication or the easy introductions on my blog. My hope is that everyone will take the time to read the work that James has tirelessly researched, drafted and submitted to the ministries and courts. It is all here on this blog.

I am disheartened to see that the focus of the article in A.M. Costa Rica is on the actions and ideals of our friends. I would wish that an educated journalist writing a story about the tragic passing of a young girl would take the time to analyze the actions of the officials who issued and carried out the order to raid our friends’ home and forced them to seek refuge at a safe distance. I am perplexed by the choice of the word, “stubborn,” to describe parents who honorably answered to each and every offer, request and order submitted to them by the representatives of the ministries who brought claims against them.

The article in A.M. Costa Rica loosely ties facts, inaccuracies and opinions together to paint a picture void of opportunity for readers to question the actions of the public servants involved in this case. The article fails to question why the home of our friends was raided. The article fails to question the jurisdiction of local health ministries over undocumented foreigners. The article goes as far as suggesting that the determined spirit of the father to battle injustice played a part in the passing of his daughter. I beg of you, readers, to remember that the only reason Nikoline was navigating unfamiliar terrain was because her family had been driven out of their sanctuary by an order from a judge, the same judge who refused to present charges to or acknowledge our friend in the flesh who had been summonsed to his chamber.

With minimal effort of traveling to Puriscal and interviewing any one of the local people, the writer of the article published in A.M. Costa Rica could have learned and shared that this family was a loved and respected part of the community, a family who “properly schooled” their children to speak three languages, understand economics, production, science, history, law, appreciate literature by authors from across the globe and spans of time, and whose children have the manners and self discipline which allowed them to sing at the National Theatre with the highly acclaimed choir of Don Carlos Luis Fallas. With minimal effort the writer could have also shared that the oldest daughters traveled to nearby schools to aid local children with their English lessons.

That this family lacked modern transportation and relied on their own horses or hired taxis is a small testament to their unyielding dedication to abide by law. Included in the constructive notice submitted to EBAIS #4 in Puriscal, and published on this blog on July 2, 2011:

“I recognize the sovereignty of the state of CR as well as the sovereignty of the God of Israel. CR article 2.”

“I am attempting to conduct myself and arrange the conduct of my family in such a way as to follow the rules of both sovereigns for the purpose of being in accordance with rules of peaceful conduct and submission to well heeled government as well as faithful servants to the God of Israel. Qui jure suo utitur, nemini facit injuriam. [One who exercises his legal rights, injures no one.] Acts 5:29”

The writer of the article in A.M. Costa Rica notes that our friends made repeated inquiry to the government officials to whether they are subservient to the God of Israel. That was just one of four questions that our friends repeatedly asked.

In the constructive notice, which was published on this blog on July 2, 2011, our friends also state:

“Be it known that we have acted in accordance with all laws and attended promptly to any charge, citation or summons presented to us. In any controversy, we present ourselves voluntarily and with out prejudice; that the matter may have a swift resolution. No undue force will be required in any dealing with us. Article 37”

I have just highlighted a few of the many pertinent points made in just one of the several documents that our friends have submitted to the ministries and courts. Our friends’ defense was replied to with coercion, threats, intimidation, denial of charges, and UNDUE FORCE.

Interestingly, an anonymous comment was posted to one of my blog entries by a member of a family living as residents in Costa Rica. Included in the lengthy comment left on Nov. 24: “Our family lives in Costa Rica. We are residents, and we also homeschool and refuse vaccinations. Not only has this been 100 percent okay with the Costa Rican government, they are fully aware of what we are doing and have no complaints.”

In which direction will the people point fingers of blame? At the family who is diligently asserting their right and duty to practice personal responsibility and follow God’s law, or to the moody tyrants who need to be reminded that they are in fact public servants under the scrutiny of the masses?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to ones courage." 
— Anais Nin
 Alison Castro

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 HERE!
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

Costa Rican news summaries are disabled
on archived pages.

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From A.M. Costa Rica

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Lawmakers meet on a Sunday afternoon to pass the budget
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers met in an unusual session Sunday to consider and finally pass the national budget for the next year. Opposing lawmakers managed to squeeze out a $50 million reduction in the budget.

The action also clears the way for lawmakers to tackle a tax proposal on all the corporations in the country and also the massive proposal for a 14 percent value-added tax.

Lawmakers are expected to vote again on the budget for the second and final time Wednesday, but the final vote Sunday had 31 in favor and 25 opposed, so passage is highly likely.

The budget that the finance ministry presented Sept. 1 is supported by an estimated 55.4 percent in government income and 44.6 percent in external borrowing, according to estimates by the legislative staff. The initial budget was about 5.5 trillion colons, about $10 billion.

In addition to making a cut in the budget, lawmakers also voted to require various ministries to provide reports every
 four months to the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios.

Earlier in the day Casa Presdiencial issued a statement that basically said officials there were unhappy with lawmakers tinkering with the budget.

Among the cuts will be 356 million colons, about $712,000, that was supposed to purchase new cars for magistrates in the Corte Suprema de Justicia. Some 750 million colons were cut from the budget of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones. That is about $1.5 million.

The president of the Asamblea Legisaltiva, Juan Carlos Mendoza García, said he would keep the session going until midnight so that a budget could be approved. The meeting started after 3 p.m., and a recess came almost immediately so the heads of the various political parties would meet.

Carlos Humberto Góngora Fuentes, a member of the Movimiento Libertario, said that the cuts were not enough in times of austerity. He was among those voting against the budget. Lawmakers finished the session just before 6:30 p.m.

Two prisoners who fled San Ramón lockup still on loose
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Two men, one serving time for murder and the other a former policeman, fled the San Ramón prison Friday and still were free Sunday night. Police located the escape vehicle Sunday on a road between Puriscal and Parrita.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said the men were confined in a center of confidence, presumably a low security area. They fled to an adjacent property after breaking a padlock, and officials said they think there was a vehicle waiting. Police searched the property of a girlfriend Sunday without results.

They were identified as Erlyn Díaz Gatica, who is serving time for murder, and Gerardo Mora Villalta, who was convicted of drug trafficking.  Mora was one of 11 officers detained on allegations that they gave aid to drug traffickers and provided escorts for loads of drugs. He is from Golfito.
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Garabito seeks to give itself a new image with advertising
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Municipalidad de Garabito is seeking to create a new image for itself. The canton includes the Pacific beach community of Jacó. The municipality has scheduled a 7 p.m. meeting on plans for a new advertising campaign.

The session, which is open to the public, is at the Morgan's Cove Hotel.

The municipality has had some good news lately, but most of that is overlooked by those who see Jacó as a wide-open beach town.
The municipality got good marks from the Contraloría de la Repúblic for its financial management. And local officials are working to create a zoning plan for Playa Guacalillo, Tarcoles, Playa Pita and for Jacó and Herradura. A meeting had been scheduled for Dec. 20, but a strike at the Imprenta Nacional derailed that date because the appropriate legal notices could not be published in the La Gaceta official newspaper produced by the Imprenta.

The municipality also said it is the first among cantons in the nation for the highest per capita income, based on 2008 data. The municipality's per capita income was higher than Belén, Santa Ana, San José and Escazú, it said.

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Foundation wants to build a Guayabo museum in a bus for kids
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Public school students have few chances to visit the Guayabo National Monument, a pre-Columbian city that has been praised for its engineering.

So the Turrialba-based Tayutic Foundation is trying to bring a bus to Costa Rica and set it up as a mobile museum.

The bus will hold interactive exhibit and audio-visual stations designed for sequential delivery of information from the front entrance to the rear exit of the bus, the foundation said..

The foundation has a Web site with the information about the bus. Now all that is needed is the money. The donations being solicited are modest, just $10,000. Half will bring the donated bus to Costa Rica and half will set up the interior museum.

With the bus “we can visit schools in the Turrialba area, showing the students about the lives of the former inhabitants of the city that is represented by the archaeological site at
 Guayabo National Monument, and also showing them aspects of the archaeology of the site,” said Robert Oldham, executive director of the foundation.

“Its presentation to the people of Costa Rica would both encourage them to learn more about Guayabo and the pre-Columbian heritage of Costa Rica, and encourage them to visit Monumento Nacional Guayabo, to see for themselves first-hand the archaeological site,” he added. “At present in the poor rural areas surrounding Guayabo National Monument, and much of the rest of the country, the schools have no funds to take the children to the monument or even to spend time teaching about it and the culture of its pre-Columbian inhabitants.

Oldham  has noted in the past that Guayabo flourished in the period between about 3,000 years to about 1500 AD, when the Guayabo site and other similar sites in Costa Rica were apparently suddenly abandoned.

He is a retired museum professional who lives near the site.

New study discounts dire predictions of global warming
By the University of Oregon news staff

A new study suggests that the rate of global warming from doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide may be less than the most dire estimates of some previous studies – and, in fact, may be less severe than projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2007.

Authors of the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program and published online this week in the journal Science, say that global warming is real and that increases in atmospheric CO2 will have multiple serious impacts.

However, the most draconian projections of temperature increases from the doubling of CO2 are unlikely, it says.

“Many previous climate sensitivity studies have looked at the past only from 1850 through today, and not fully integrated paleoclimate date, especially on a global scale,” said Andreas Schmittner, an Oregon State University researcher and lead author on the Science article. “When you reconstruct sea and land surface temperatures from the peak of the last Ice Age 21,000 years ago – which is referred to as the Last Glacial Maximum – and compare it with climate model simulations of that period, you get a much different picture.

“If these paleoclimatic constraints apply to the future, as predicted by our model, the results imply less probability of extreme climatic change than previously thought,” Schmittner added.

Scientists have struggled for years trying to quantify “climate sensitivity” – which is how the Earth will respond to projected increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The 2007 intergovernmental panal report estimated that the air near the surface of the Earth would warm on average by 2 to 4.5 degrees (Celsius) with a doubling of atmospheric CO2 from pre-industrial standards. The mean, or expected value increase in the panel estimates was 3.0 degrees. Most climate model studies use the doubling of CO2 as a basic index.

Some previous studies have claimed the impacts could be much more severe – as much as 10 degrees or higher with a doubling of CO2 – although these projections come with an acknowledged low probability. Studies based on data going back only to 1850 are affected by large uncertainties in the
effects of dust and other small particles in the air that reflect sunlight and can influence clouds, known as aerosol forcing, or by the absorption of heat by the oceans, the researchers say.

To lower the degree of uncertainty, Schmittner and his colleagues used a climate model with more data and found that there are constraints that preclude very high levels of climate sensitivity.

The researchers compiled land and ocean surface temperature reconstructions from the Last Glacial Maximum and created a global map of those temperatures. During this time, atmospheric CO2 was about a third less than before the Industrial Revolution, and levels of methane and nitrous oxide were much lower. Because much of the northern latitudes were covered in ice and snow, sea levels were lower, the climate was drier (less precipitation), and there was more dust in the air.

All these factor, which contributed to cooling the Earth’s surface, were included in their climate model simulations.

The new data changed the assessment of climate models in many ways, said Schmittner, an associate professor in Oregon’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. The researchers’ reconstruction of temperatures has greater spatial coverage and showed less cooling during the Ice Age than most previous studies.

High sensitivity climate models – more than 6 degrees – suggest that the low levels of atmospheric CO2 during the Last Glacial Maximum would result in a “runaway effect” that would have left the Earth completely ice-covered.

“Clearly, that didn’t happen,” Schmittner said. “Though the Earth then was covered by much more ice and snow than it is today, the ice sheets didn’t extend beyond latitudes of about 40 degrees, and the tropics and subtropics were largely ice-free – except at high altitudes. These high-sensitivity models overestimate cooling.”

Reconstructing sea and land surface temperatures from 21,000 years ago is a complex task involving the examination of ices cores, bore holes, fossils of marine and terrestrial organisms, seafloor sediments and other factors. Sediment cores, for example, contain different biological assemblages found in different temperature regimes and can be used to infer past temperatures based on analogs in modern ocean conditions.

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Venezuelan gold begins
to come back to country

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has begun repatriating gold reserves that had been held in European banks.

The gold bars were unloaded at Venezuela's Maiquetia airport Friday and later transferred to armored vehicles for shipping to the Central Bank in Caracas. Officials did not say how much gold was brought back in the shipment. They also did not say when future shipments would arrive.

Back in August, President Chávez said that $11 billion of gold reserves held in U.S. and European banks would be returned to Venezuela. He has been quoted as saying the gold never should have left the country. Chávez has said the decision to retrieve the gold is aimed at helping protect Venezuela from economic troubles in the United States and Europe. Most of Venezuela's gold held abroad is in Britain. 

Some observers, however, believe that by repatriating the bullion, the Chávez government is reducing the risk of having its assets seized in arbitration cases, including those linked to nationalizations of private industries.

The president also has announced plans to move more than $6 billion in cash reserves to friendly banks in Brazil, China and Russia. The money is now held in European and U.S. banks.

Colombian rebels execute
four long-held hostages

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Colombia's government said Saturday the country's main rebel group, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, known as the FARC, executed four security force members who were captured more than a decade ago.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said the hostages were killed during a mission to free them.  He said all four men were shot. Three were shot in the head and one had two bullets in the back.  Among them was the longest-held captive, Sgt. Maj. Jose Libio Martínez, who was seized by the rebels almost 14 years ago.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the murders were another demonstration of the FARC's cruelty.  He called the killings "an atrocious crime."

Troops launched the operation in southern Caqueta province 45 days ago after a tip that the captives were being held in the area.

The incident took place less than two weeks after FARC rebels named Timoleon Jiménez, better known as Timochenko, as their new leader.

Timochenko replaced former FARC leader Alfonso Cano, who was killed Nov. 4 in a battle with government troops.  Cano had led the group since 2008.

FARC rebels have been at war with the Columbian government since the 1960s.  Their numbers have dwindled over the years, but some analysts estimate the group has as many as 9,000 fighters.

Most of FARC's funding comes from cocaine trafficking and extortion, but the leftist rebels are believed to be holding at least 14 people for ransom or political leverage. The FARC has been designated as a terrorist organization by Colombia, the United States and the European Union.

British national strike
likely to affect airlines

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A national strike in Britain set for Wednesday threatens to paralyze operations at Europe's busiest airport and cut many public services throughout the country.

British Airport authorities warned airlines Friday that they need to reduce service by at least 50 percent Wednesday because customs and immigration operations are expected to be greatly affected.

Norman Boivin, chief operating officer at Heathrow, advised airlines that gridlock is expected with queues for immigration so long that incoming passengers would be unable to leave their planes, and aircraft unable to park at overcrowded terminals.

On a typical day, Heathrow airport receives more than 180,000 passengers. 

Hospital services will be sharply curtailed and almost all schools are expected to close if the 24-hour strike goes ahead as planned.

The Trades Union Congress, an umbrella organization of British unions, expects more than two million workers to join the strike — a protest against government plans to reduce a $185 billion budget deficit by reducing pension benefits and increasing contributions by wage-earners.

At Heathrow, Boivin predicted mass cancellations of departing flights and said flights bound for Britain might have to be diverted to other destinations.

Authorities at London's second largest airport, Gatwick, also have asked airlines to sharply reduce the number of arriving passengers on Wednesday, in part by allowing travelers to change their flight bookings cost-free.
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, Vol. 11, No. 235
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This year's telethon seeks
to collect $1 million

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

From 9 p.m. Thursday until Sunday night the 2011 Teletón  will be seeking donations for neonatal sections of two hospitals.

This is the annual event put on by the Club Activo 20-30 of San José. This year the goal is 550 million colons or just slightly more than $1 million.

Beneficiaries will be the neonatal and intensive care units of the Hospital Nacional de Niños in San José and the neonatal section of the Hospital Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas.

The telethon will take place in the Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, but television channels will cover many of the amateur and professional acts that are on the program. International artists will be participating. The telethon also will be available on the Internet.

The club noted in a release that other hospitals will benefit, too, including Hospital Dr. Escalante Pradilla in Pérez Zeledón.

The group Fusión Juvenil is organizing a mini-telethon in that community to take place at the same time in the Parque Central.

More information is available on the club's telethon Web page.

Gunman given 11 years
for Jacó bar shooting

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man with the last names of Madrigal Zúñiga had admitted in court that he was the cause of the death of a man in a Jacó bar July 2, 2010.

The man received 11 years in prison during what is described as an abbreviated judicial process. The case was heard at the  Tribunal Penal de Puntarenas.

Dead is Duberney Vargas Tamara, 26, He was struck in the head by a bullet during a shootout at a bar in a commercial center in Jacó. He died at Hospital Monseñor Sanabria de Puntarenas.

Bicyclist hit by motorcycle

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 57-year-old bicyclist, identified by the last name of Bonilla, died Sunday in Hospital México in La Uruca after he was struck down by a motorcycle on the highway between Jacó and Parrita. The man hit his head in the 4:45 a.m. mishap, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Robbers take store safe

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Store employees at a business in Guachipelín de Escazú were met by four masked and armed robbers as they showed up for work Sunday, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

The robbers made off with the store safe, agents said. They also took a security camera and the recording device.

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