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(506) 2223-1327                         Published Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 236                               Email us
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World Bank

This press release has been on the World Bank Web site for two years.
Annoying questions keep popping up on Chinese deal
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Politicians keep asking troubling questions about the central government's deal with a Chinese firm to widen Ruta 32 from Río Frio to Limón.

However, President Laura Chinchilla said on a visit to the area that the appropriate place for answers is in the Asamblea Legislativa where lawmakers will discuss the proposal and vote on it.

She also said that those who were asking the questions were not from Limón.

A lawmaker from the Partido Acción Ciudadana, Manrique Oviedo Guzmán, was the first to say in a legislative committee that the Chinese contractor has had trouble with corruption.

The contractor is China Harbour Engineering Co. and its subsidiary,  China Communications Construccion Co., has been blacklisted by the World Bank due to corruption allegations in The Phillipines, Oviedo noted.

The latest to raise the issue is Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, the presidential candidate from the same party. He asked in a news release for President Chinchilla to clear up what he called some reasonable doubts. 

He followed with a list of 11 questions.

Among these was why has the central government decided to continue with the $465 million deal after discovering the allegations against the firm.

He also wanted to know why the Contraloría General de la República and other financial watchdogs have been excluded from consideration of the contract.

The politician also wanted to know if the price tag covers additional costs such as expropriation of land
and exactly what type of tolls are planned by the government when the job is done.

Both Solís and Oviedo have raised the issue of a clause in the contract that seems to have Costa Rica renouncing any claims to sovereignty over the job. The deal seems to follow Chinese law.

The 107 kilometers, about 66 miles, will be widened to four lanes, and there is additional work involved, including bridges and intersections. The route is the main one between the Central Valley and the Caribbean coast.

The Chinese have a special interest because the country plans a major free trade zone in the Limón vicinity.

The deal also seems to give the Chinese firm leave to import materials without paying custom duty.

This is the same deal that the Chinese received after the government offered to build a sports stadium. Contractors also were exempt from Costa Rica's labor laws, and some of the materials brought into the country without duty appears to have been diverted.

President Chinchilla's Partido Liberación Nacional controls the legislature, so the measure may face stiff questioning from opposition lawmakers, but a final vote seems certain to approve the agreement.

The Chinchilla administration has not been lucky with road building. A contract for the San José–San Ramón highway collapsed over public outcry about the tolls, and the roadway along the Río San Juan was pushed through as an emergency due to Nicaragua incursions in the area. Now it is mired in a corruption investigation.

Ms. Chinchilla told Limón residents on her visit there over the weekend that the Ruta 32 job also was needed as soon as possible.


It's 3.1 percent more than 2013
New budget gets an OK: ¢6,600,000,000,000

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers gave final approval to a 2014 national budget Wednesday knowing that at least 42.7 percent of expenditures would be financed with debt.

Members of the Partido Acción Ciudadana voted against the financial plan and said that for the first time more than 50 percent of the salaries would be financed with debt. This is not sustainable, said lawmakers Gustavo Arias Navarro, who voted against the measure.

The budget makes grim reading.  About 34.4 percent of the spending is determined by constitutional obligations.

The amount of the budget is 66 followed by 11 zeros in colons. That's $13.2 billion in English.

In Spanish the amount would be 6.6 billón, which is not the same as a billion in English.
Jeannette Ruiz Delgado, also of Acción Ciudadana, was critical of the number of rentals specified in the budget.

The legislative staff estimated that the new budget was 3.1 percent greater than the 2013 budget. The amount is not fixed, and it is likely that the central government will seek authorization for more money when the need arises. That happens every year.

Some 29.2 percent will be spent on servicing the existing national debt, and 29.1 percent will be spent by the Ministerio de Educación Pública. Public pensions will take 10.6 percent. The judiciary will spend 5.3 percent, according to the legislative staff.
 
The new budget gives a 54.4 percent raise to the  Patronato Nacional de la Infancia, the child welfare agency. Still one of the major objections of opposition lawmakers was the amount of money going to social programs. They wanted more spent there.


Is your home all decked out for the holidays?
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Do you have or will you have some cool holiday lighting of your Costa Rican home?

Some expats really knock themselves out to decorate their homes or business. None probably go so far as the Hospital del Niños where a live evergreen bears
12,000 bulbs. But some come close.

A.M. Costa Rica will publish a picture of these holiday creations if homeowners send in a .jpeg photo to editor@amcostarica.com. The photo should be accompanied by a note giving the names of the homeowner or business owner, location and any interesting details.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Nov. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 236

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HIdden Garden

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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


Dentistry

Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Psychotherapy

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California Licensed Psychologist
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Architects

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Architecture-Real Estate-Development

At Architect Orange we are inspired by the visions of each of our clients, and have worked diligently to embody those visions in our work.

We have locations in Atenas (servicing Central Valley/Beach areas)
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Fine art restoration and conservation

Gilbert Carmichael
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For more information please contact Claudia Villegas at 8996-5581 or email HERE!
 
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Real estate agents and services

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and 20 minutes to Liberia airport.
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Translations and legal Services
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*Locate People   *Private Investigations
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 Phone: (506) 2232-1014
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Accountants

U.S. Tax International
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Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
Over 15 years in Costa Rica
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E-mail: ustax@lawyer.com
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Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620
E-mail jrtb_1999@yahoo.com
7410-4/1/13

diver
Oregon State University photo    
One of the divers at the underwater study plot

Excess nutrients from runoff
showed to hurt coral badly

By the Oregon State University news service

One of the largest and longest experiments ever done to test the impact of excess nutrient on coral reefs confirmed what scientists have long suspected: that this type of pollution from sewage, agricultural practices or other sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching.

A three-year, controlled exposure of corals to elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus at a study site in the Florida Keys, done from 2009 to 12, showed that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching, an early sign of stress, more than tripled.

However, the study also found that once the injection of pollutants was stopped, the corals were able to recover in a surprisingly short time.

“We were shocked to see the rapid increase in disease and bleaching from a level of pollution that’s fairly common in areas affected by sewage discharge, or fertilizers from agricultural or urban use,” said Rebecca Vega-Thurber, an assistant professor in the College of Science at Oregon State University.

“But what was even more surprising is that corals were able to make a strong recovery within 10 months after the nutrient enrichment was stopped,” Ms. Vega-Thurber said. “The problems disappeared. This provides real evidence that not only can nutrient overload cause coral problems, but programs to reduce or eliminate this pollution should help restore coral health. This is actually very good news.”

The findings were published in Global Change Biology, and offer a glimmer of hope for addressing at least some of the problems that have crippled coral reefs around the world. In the Caribbean Sea, more than 80 percent of the corals have disappeared in recent decades. These reefs, which host thousands of species of fish and other marine life, are a major component of biodiversity in the tropics.

Researchers have observed for years the decline in coral reef health where sewage outflows or use of fertilizers, in either urban or agricultural areas, have caused an increase in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. But until now almost no large, long-term experiments have actually been done to pin down the impact of nutrient overloads and separate them from other possible causes of coral reef decline.

This research examined the effect of nutrient pollution on more than 1,200 corals in study plots near Key Largo, Florida, for signs of coral disease and bleaching, and removed other factors such as water depth, salinity or temperature that have complicated some previous surveys. Following regular injections of nutrients at the study sites, levels of coral disease and bleaching surged.

One disease that was particularly common was dark spot syndrome, found on about 50 percent of diseased individual corals. But researchers also noted that within one year after nutrient injections were stopped at the study site, the level of dark spot syndrome had receded to the same level as control study plots in which no nutrients had been injected.

The exact mechanism by which nutrient overload can affect corals is still unproven, researchers say, although there are theories. The nutrients may add pathogens, may provide the nutrients needed for existing pathogens to grow, may be directly toxic to corals and make them more vulnerable to pathogens or some combination of these factors.

“A combination of increased stress and a higher level of pathogens is probably the mechanism that affects coral health,” Ms. Vega-Thurber said. “What’s exciting about this research is the clear experimental evidence that stopping the pollution can lead to coral recovery. A lot of people have been hoping for some news like this.

“Some of the corals left in the world are actually among the species that are most hardy,” she said. “The others are already dead. We’re desperately trying to save what’s left, and cleaning up the water may be one mechanism that has the most promise.”

Nutrient overloads can increase disease prevalence or severity on many organisms, including plants, amphibians and fish. They’ve also long been suspected in coral reef problems, along with other factors such as temperature stress, reduced fish abundance, increasing human population, and other concerns.

However, unlike factors such as global warming or human population growth, nutrient loading is something that might be more easily addressed on at least a local basis, Ms. Vega-Thurber said. Improved sewage treatment or best-management practices to minimize fertilizer runoff from agricultural or urban use might offer practical approaches to mitigate some coral reef declines, she said.

Collaborators on this research included Florida International University and the University of Florida.


Two hearings on electricity
cause confusion of the date


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A key public hearing about private power generation already has taken place.

The hearing was Wednesday and not Thursday, as A.M. Costa Rica had incorrectly reported.

This was the hearing by the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos that sought reaction to a draft measure that would allow all electrical consumers to generate their own power and perhaps sell the excess to their local electric company. The proposal is contained in a lengthy document released by the agency. The highly technical document specifies the requirements for hooking up to the national electrical grid.

Jim Ryan of ASI Power & Telemetry, S.A. in Liberia said he, too, was confused by the agency because it sent out two notices for hearings. One was for Wednesday and one is for today. Both are on electrical matters.

He said that those who favor private generation of power can still file comments with the agency via fax 2215-6002 or email  consejero@aresep.go.cr.


Man in Limón sustained
11 bullet wounds and died


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Someone wanted a man in Limón very dead. Judicial agents said that police found the body of a man still unidentified in a parked car. The body had sustained 11 bullet wounds.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that the man was between 30 and 35 years of age.

Airport police nearby in Limón were attracted to the car because a door was open and the lights were on about 11 p.m. Tuesday night. The officers found the body when they left the airport grounds to investigate.


Another geothermal loan
for project near volcano

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad is getting a $70 million loan from the European Investment Bank for the Las Pailas II geothermal generating plant.  The loan is for 25 years with a variable interest rate starting at 4.03 percent, said the firm known as ICE.

The central government is guaranteeing the loan so legislative approval is needed.

This is the second loan for the project.  Last week the Japanese Agency for International Cooperation agreed to loan $560 million for La Pailas II and two other projects.  All are near the Rincón de la Vieja volcano in northern Costa Rica.


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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Nov. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 236
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A.M. Costa Rica/Gabriela Vega Barrantes
Motorcyclists unhappy with the cost of their obligatory insurance staged another protest at the headquarters of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros Wednesday. Traffic police blocked off kilometers of roadway, but observers said
there were only about 100 protesters. Police apparently expected many more. The national insurance company said it would not change its decision.  Some protesters went off to block other key intersections.


Cold front arrives right on time with winds and some rain
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A predicted cold front moved into Costa Rica right on schedule Wednesday night bringing winds and wet weather.

Rain started in the capitol about midnight and picked up after 1 a.m. However, the total was only a few millimeters. Limón registered 28 millimeters (about 1.1 inches) with winds of 23.6 kph (14.7 mph).  Universidad Earth in Guácimo appeared to have the highest winds at 43.3 kph (26.9 mph).

The data comes from automatic weather stations

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional was predicting winds of up to 80 kph (50 mph) overnight with the Central Valley and Guanacaste getting the brunt.

The weather institute issued another advisory at 2:45 p.m. when the cold front was over the Gulf of Honduras moving into Nicaragua.
The advisory predicted rain of up to 100 millimeters, about four inches, by early today. But that did not seem to have taken place.

Rain of that intensity could have been falling early today in the mountains of the Caribbean coast where there are no automatic weather stations to record it.

The weather institute issued a warning for those living near waterways particularly in Limón province.

In the central Atlantic there is a weak low pressure area that seems to be moving northeastward. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said there was a low chance of the system forming a cyclone.

That was good news as the 2013 hurricane edges to a close Saturday. Although hurricanes can happen any time, Nov. 30 is considered the end of the season because the majority of storms happen before that date.


Pension system reported to still be paying the deceased
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The national pension system has a number of weaknesses that is causing it to distribute money that it does not owe, said the Contraloría General de la República. The report was one of the series of financial studies done by the watchdog agency.

The report said that the Dirección Nacional de Pensiones was continuing to pay pensions to the dead and also had errors in calculations that gave recipients more than they deserved.

The report said that efforts to recover money sent by mistake  was ineffective and had only got back 1.26 percent or 13.6 million during the time period under study, last March. The amount is about $26,000.
The report said it was the job of the Ministerio de Hacienda to seek judicial and extra-judicial ways to recover the money.

In all, the Contraloría said that about 1.4 billion colons had been distributed incorrectly. It said that this amount was estimated to rise to about 2.9 billion by March 2016 unless steps were taken to correct the practices.

The report noted that there was a lag between the death of a recipient and the filing of that death with the Registro Civil where the pension system gets its information.

The amount sent in correctly to the dead as of March was 989 million or about $2 million, said the report.

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Nov. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 236
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World bribery report says victim countries seldom receive compensation
By the World Bank news staff

A new report by the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative highlights the increase in enforcement actions to counter foreign bribery and the growing prevalence of settlements, that is, any resolution short of a full-scale trial, to conclude such cases and impose monetary sanctions.

The study “Left out of the Bargain” looks into the scope and value of settlements in 395 foreign bribery cases that took place between 1999 and mid-2012. The initiative's research examined cases in which the country where the legal settlements took place was different from the country where the bribery occurred.

The study illustrates how little money has been returned or ordered returned to the countries whose officials were alleged to have been bribed. According to the report, only 3 percent (US $197 million out of US $5.8 billion) was returned to those countries.

Robust action to counter foreign bribery is a key factor in the global fight against corruption.  The return of stolen assets to their legitimate owners and the compensation to affected parties are vital components of that effort, said the World Bank.

”Left out of the Bargain” provides the first-ever comprehensive analysis of settlement practices by both civil and common-law countries, identifying how and to what extent settlements can further contribute to asset recovery.
The report identifies innovative practices linking settlements with asset return, and calls on the international community to use these findings to address the continuing challenges in dealing with foreign bribery. 

“There has been considerable progress to date in fighting foreign bribery,” said Dimitri Vlassis of the U. N. Office on Drugs and Crime. “More can and should be done to ensure that these efforts contribute also to asset recovery, which is a critical objective of the U.N. Convention Against Corruption. The return of assets to affected countries should be systematically integrated into the settlement processes and outcomes.”

Jean Pesme, the coordinator of the initiative, emphasized the key role of the international community in advancing the report’s conclusions. “We also call on countries whose officials were allegedly bribed to intensify their efforts to investigate and prosecute corrupt officials, and use all avenues to become parties to settlements,” said Pesme. “Countries who have suffered harm from foreign bribery also need assistance to improve their prospects to trace and recover assets.”

Contrary to widely held views, the report also concludes that, in principle, settlements are not an impediment to international cooperation. However, very few settlements have an international dimension. 

The report thus recommends more transparency on settlements, more proactive and spontaneous information-sharing among concerned jurisdictions, and expansion of the legal avenues for parties seeking redress.

 
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See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!
http://www.vimeo.com/5656822

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money.  Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk
Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder. george@glundquist.com
8158-3/1/13

Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat
Steve and Debbie Legg
Toll Free: 1-888-828-9245       In Costa Rica: (506)-2478-0023 or 8333-6863

Our Vision at Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat is to create the perfect blend of Adventure, Discovery and Tranquility for each guest.  Plan an Adventure zooming along a zip line high in the canopy or horseback riding though forests, farms and rivers. Discover the magical wonders of the flora and fauna of Costa Rica. Experience Tranquility in one of our cabins tucked in our 26 acres. Located in Monterrey, San Carlos, in the mountains above Fortuna, we enjoy spectacular, panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano and its lava flow. Please see our Web site for more information. www.leavesandlizards.com or e-mail us at leavesandlizards@gmail.com.
7862-8/1/13

Costa Rica’s #1 Time –Tested Relocation/Retirement Tours
Christopher Howard's Award-winning Combination Relocation/Retirement Tour. NO other retirement tour offers MORE options...MORE areas visited, MORE information, MORE people just like you who have made the move and a LONGER
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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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VacationsCostaRica.com offers customized, upscale vacations to Costa Rica, planned by our team of in-country travel experts. Call us Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860 or locally in San Jose: 2296-7715.  We also offer trips to Panama, visit: VacationToPanama.com. Are you a fisherman? Our local experts will help arrange fishing trips to Costa Rica, just click HERE!
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A.M. Costa Rica
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See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

Real estate for rent (paid category)

ALAJUELA – SERENE LIVING
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 gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.
8161-1/11/13

Beautiful studio home with garden patio
Completely furnished with best bed (Jiron™ Full), refri, stove, dishes, pans, etc. TV and high-speed internet connected. Free.
Located high above a river. You will sleep like a baby. Perfect weather, never too hot nor cold. Secure, private and secluded, and yet, only 10 minutes to San Isidro de El General (fairly large city in the mountains with everything) and from there, 40 minutes to beaches. Bus is close and costs 35 cents to San Isidro. Special price for single, long-term renter, nonsmoker: $425 + utilities. Go to www.homeaway.com and put in, #969365 for pics and full description Then write to us, Thanks. Email: james43michael@yahoo.com
8146-12/11/13

Beautiful 2-bedroom 2-bathroom American-style apartments with an elevator to your front door in a secure building located in Gringo Gulch the American Section of downtown San José. Costa Rica. Located between the Hotel Del Rey, the Hotel Mona Lisa and the Sportsman's Lodge and The Zona Blue (AKA) Little Habana across the street from Harry's Poas Bar, and next to the Holiday Inn.
apartment view
 There are 15 restaurants and American- style bars on this block and four supermarkets within a few blocks. There are 5 casinos within 2 blocks and dozens of hotels around this apartment. Included in your rental price, fast Internet, the best they have in Costa Rica, cable TV with 80
stations, water, washer and dryer. All you pay extra for is electricity. You have your own meter and receive a bill from the electric company every month.  This apartment has a American-style hot water system, hot water in both bathrooms and the kitchen. There is a 25-foot balcony to sit on and watch the people in San José walk by. The neighborhood Barrio Amón is the safest in San José For photos and more information contact:  rentnowcr@gmail.com.
8157-12/22/13

prime
                                    properties
ATTENTION EXPATS:
 
We have many prime properties available for long-term rentals.
Rohrmoser
Escazú
Santa Ana
 

  rentals.sanjose@gmail.com
88136-12.22.13

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 
tropical
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8054-2/16/14


7875-4/11/13

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
Cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Nov. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 236
Sports
Calendar
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Cafetales



Pacific Estates

Food prices dip, but costs
still high, World Bank says

By the World Bank news staff

Global food prices declined by 6 percent over the last quarter, but are still not far from their historical peaks, according to the World Bank Group’s latest Food Price Watch report. Wheat markets remain tight, and weather-related concerns in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Ukraine, and the Russian Federation may further drive up wheat prices over the next few months.

Domestic prices showed typically large variations across countries, mainly attributable to seasonal trends but also due to a combination of factors including bad weather, public procurement policies, local supply shortfalls and currency devaluations.

“Sustained declines in prices are welcome. We have a lot to be pleased about,” said Ana Revenga, acting vice president for the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network at the World Bank Group. “But these gains are fragile. Persistent concerns around erratic weather or currency fluctuations keep us far from claiming victory over food prices. We need to continue to pay close attention, since this progress can quickly be reversed if concerns become reality.”  

According to the latest edition of Food Price Watch, the Bank’s Food Price Index in October 2013 was 12 percent lower than a year ago and 16 percent below the all-time peak in August 2012. Despite this decline, however, prices remain close to their all-time high.

Stronger demand for wheat, especially from China, a weaker U.S. dollar, and increasing concerns following the recent adverse weather have affected prices in a negative way, the index summary said.  Initially, price increases were almost imperceptible in August and September, but then increased sharply in October.  Global wheat stocks are expected to partially recover from last year’s declines, but major exporters’ closing stocks continue to remain low, still reflecting tight export availabilities. Rice and maize stocks, on the contrary, continue to be robust and are expected to remain that way through the end of the year.

This issue of the Food Price Watch also explores the role that extra-large scale farming, popularly known as super farms may play in boosting agricultural productivity and poverty reduction. The jury is still out on whether this trend has a positive or negative effect on boosting shared prosperity, especially in those countries with fragile institutions and poor oversight. Social, environmental and animal welfare concerns must be weighed with potentially promising benefits such as jobs and efficiency gains, the report said.

The World Bank Group is committed to boosting agriculture and agriculture-related investment. In 2013, new Bank Group commitments to agriculture and related sectors were $8 billion.  
 

U.S. school lunch providers
settle animal handling charges


Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Several California companies and individuals who formerly supplied beef to the National School Lunch Program have agreed to settle allegations of inhumane handling of cattle, circumventing appropriate inspection of disabled cattle and false representations regarding their eligibility to process beef, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.  The announcement follows approval of the last of these settlements by a California probate court.

The settlements will conclude a lawsuit initiated by the Humane Society of the United States under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act after a society investigator videotaped alleged inhumane cattle handling and improper disabled cattle inspection practices at the slaughterhouse and meat processing facility of Westland Meat Co. and Hallmark Meat Packing Co. in Chino, Calif. 

The government later joined the lawsuit and brought additional claims that the defendants concealed their ineligibility to process beef because a convicted felon, Aaron Magidow, was a partner in and otherwise responsibly connected with the facility’s operations.  U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations applicable to suppliers of the National School Lunch Program prohibit the inhumane handling of cattle, require the proper inspection and disposition of disabled cattle, called downers, and require suppliers to identify convicted felons who are responsibly connected to the suppliers’ operations.

“The contractors who supply beef and other meat products to schools and child-care facilities have a responsibility to provide our nation’s young people with products that come only from healthy and humanely handled animals,” said André Birotte Jr., the U. S. attorney in Los Angeles.  “This settlement holds accountable businesses that mistreated cows on a regular basis and routinely evaded a critically important USDA inspection procedure that allowed downer cows to be processed into food.”

The National School Lunch Program, administered by the USDA, is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child-care institutions.  The program provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.  All ground beef containing the defendants’ products was recalled as of Feb. 16, 2008, and the defendants no longer supply beef to the National School Lunch Program.

Under the settlements, Westland Meat Co., based in Corona Del Mar, Calif., and its owner Steve Mendell will pay $240,000, and Westland will enter into a consent judgment for $155.7 million.  M&M Management, also based in Corona Del Mar, Calif., and Cattleman’s Choice, based in Commerce, Calif., and the estate of Cattleman’s deceased owner, Magidow, and Magidow’s surviving spouse will pay a total of approximately $2.45 million.
 
The FCA’s whistleblower provisions, under which HSUS filed the lawsuit, permit a private entity to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government and to share in any proceeds from the suit.  The FCA also allows the government to intervene in the lawsuit, as it has done in this case.  As a result of the settlements announced today, the Humane Society will receive approximately $600,000.    


Satellite imagery study suggests
that fish hauls under reported


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Using Google Earth imagery, scientists say they’ve spotted large fishing traps in the Persian Gulf that are catching six times the amount of fish as are being reported.

The study, the first of its kind, was done by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Using the satellite imagery, they say they counted 1,900 fishing weirs along the coast in 2005. The researchers say the weirs caught approximately 31,000 tons of fish, while the amount reported to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization was 5,260 tons.

Fishing weirs are traps similar to underwater fences that take advantage of tidal changes and currents to catch marine animals, including fish.

“This ancient fishing technique has been around for thousands of years,” says Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak, a doctoral student with the university's Fisheries Centre’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s lead author. “But we haven’t been able to truly grasp their impact on our marine resources until now, with the help of modern technology.”

The study shows the potential for using remote-sensing approaches, such as satellite imagery, to validate catch statistics and fisheries operations in general.

“Time and again we’ve seen that global fisheries catch data don’t add up,” says Daniel Pauly, principal investigator with the Sea Around Us Project and the study’s co-author. “Because countries don’t provide reliable information on their fisheries’ catches, we need to expand our thinking and look at other sources of information and new technologies to tell us about what’s happening in our oceans.”


Garlic said to kill bacteria
that may threaten babies


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Garlic may significantly reduce the risk of contaminated baby formula, according to a new study.

The study showed that two compounds in garlic, diallyl sulfide and ajoene, can kill a deadly contaminant of baby formula, Cronobacter sakazakii.

“A trace dose of these two compounds is extremely effective in killing C. sakazakii in the food manufacturing process,” says Xiaonan Lu, corresponding author and assistant professor of food safety engineering in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia in Canada. “They have the potential to eliminate the pathogen before it ever reaches the consumer.”

C. sakazakii is a foodborne pathogen that is sometimes present in dry infant formula powder and other fortified foods. C. sakazakii infection is rare, but often fatal for infants. It can poison a baby’s bloodstream and lead to life-threatening cases of meningitis. Outbreaks of C. sakazakii have occurred worldwide.

But the discovery doesn’t mean that infants will be forced to drink garlic-flavored formula. According to Lu, the garlic compounds could be used to treat food contact surfaces and in every step of food production, from processing, packaging and delivery.

“Pipes used in the manufacturing of milk products are typically cleaned with chemicals like chlorine, but these garlic compounds are a natural alternative,” said Lu. “We believe these compounds are more beneficial in protecting babies against this pathogen.”


Macy's balloons may face
high winds for today's parade


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A winter storm that is making for a potentially wet and windy Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City today could ground 16 popular giant helium balloons.

That would keep out parade staples such as Snoopy, SpongeBob, SquarePants, Spider-Man and Hello Kitty. A "special spinning dreidel balloonicle" is also in the lineup, in honor of the first night of Hannukah, which coincides with Thanksgiving this year.

The National Weather Service has issued a gale warning for the region this morning, predicting winds of up to 40 kph (25 mph) and gusts reaching 56 kph (35 mph). A New York City regulation that went into effect after a 1997 incident during which a handful of parade spectators were injured, prevents giant balloons from floating if winds surpass 36.8 kph (23 mph), with gusts more than 54.4 kph (34 mph).

In its 87-year history, bad weather has sidelined Macy’s giant balloons only once – in 1971.  However, weather-related incidents in 1993, 1997 and most recently in 2005, caused giant balloons to hit lamp posts along the parade route.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told The New York Times “we’ve done a lot of training on this,” adding that if weather conditions permit the giant balloons to be floated, a police sergeant would be assigned to accompany each group of handlers and would monitor wind speeds.

In the meantime, despite the cold rain falling on the city, Macy’s parade officials, with the help of volunteers, were going ahead with plans to inflate the balloons near Central Park West.

Officials are keeping a close eye on weather conditions and say they will make a determination about the giant balloons before the parade starts this morning.

They say if winds are too high, the giant balloons will be deflated.


Pakistani political party
identifies CIA chief there


 By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A Pakistani political party published what it said was the name of the CIA's chief operative in Islamabad and demanded on Wednesday that he face murder charges over a U.S. drone strike that killed five people last week.
 
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, which is led by former cricket star Imran Khan, included the name in a letter to police, a copy of which was released to the media.
 
“I would like to nominate the U.S clandestine agency CIA Station Chief in Islamabad ... and CIA Director John O. Brennan for committing the gross offenses of committing murder and waging war against Pakistan,” the party's information secretary Shireen Mazari said in the letter, which was written in English.
 
Wire services removed the name referred to in the letter as it could not be independently verified. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.
 
Intelligence agencies usually keep the identities of operatives under wraps. If the party has correctly named the head of the CIA in Pakistan, he may be forced to leave.
 
It would not be the first time the CIA has been forced into such a situation in Pakistan. In 2010 the then-station chief left the country after his name was revealed during a legal case involving another drone strike in which civilians were killed.
 
U.S. officials said then that they believed the exposure was deliberate retaliation by elements of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, who were upset that their spy agency and some of its officers had been named as defendants in a lawsuit filed in U.S. courts.
 
The Nov. 21 drone strike in Khyber Pakhtunkwa, which is in the country's lawless northwest, struck a religious seminary believed to be connected with the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network. It killed a senior member of the network and four other unidentified people.
 
The United States has used drone strikes extensively to target alleged militants, though the victims have sometimes included civilians. Pakistan publicly opposes the strikes as a violation of its sovereignty, but officials privately admit that the government broadly supports them.


Documentary on adoption
features Russian children


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

"The Dark Matter of Love" opens with home video showing Cheryl Diaz holding her newborn daughter, Cami, her oldest child with husband Claudio. It’s an apt beginning for a documentary exploring the science of human attachment through the story of the couple’s three other children, adopted from Russia several years ago.
 
The Diazes, who live in the Midwestern state of Wisconsin, had wanted more children, but failed to have another successful pregnancy. So, when Cami was 14, the family traveled to Russia accompanied by a documentary film crew to adopt 5-year-old twins Marcel and Vadim, and an unrelated girl, 11-year-old Masha.
 
Australian film director Sarah McCarthy says she had wanted to make a documentary about the science of infant attachment, love and parent-child bonding. She found the Diazes through University of Virginia psychologist Robert Marvin, an expert in therapy with families of adopted and foster children.
 
“I wanted to meet the family before they adopted three new children, and I wanted to see what happened to them as they went through that process,” she said. “And when I met the Diazes, I just feel instantly in love with them. They sent me some hilarious pictures of themselves in matching pajamas at Christmas, and I just thought, this is the family I’m going to spend the next couple of years with.”
 
In fact, Ms. McCarthy and her cinematographer moved in next door to the Diazes for a year and a half. Their camera captures many poignant moments, as the family begins a difficult adjustment.
 
Claudio is exhausted, and he and Cheryl pull away from each other. Cami feels displaced, no longer the focus of her parents’ attention. Masha is emotionally withdrawn, while the twins resist authority with all their 5-year-old might, throwing tantrums and yelling insults at their new father in Russian that he, luckily, does not understand although the film’s subtitles enlighten the viewer.
 
“It’s difficult for parents to understand the behavior of the adopted children,” Ms. McCarthy said,“because they will just push you away and push you away, and it’s not because they’re evil or because they’re trying to hurt you. It’s because they’ve grown up in an orphanage and that’s the way they’ve learned to survive.”
 
Ms. McCarthy interweaves scenes of the family’s life with archival film documenting the early study of parent-infant bonding. The science of attachment began in the 1950s and 1960s, with British psychologist John Bowlby, who theorized that infants need a secure relationship with at least one person who cares for them consistently and lovingly in order to develop normally emotionally and socially.
 
“Having a relationship with one or a few specific people is absolutely crucial to a child’s developing brain, and if the child doesn’t have that partner, then those neural networks don’t get laid down,” Robert Marvin explains in "The Dark Matter of Love."
 
In the 1960s, an American psychologist Harry Harlow carried out experiments with rhesus monkeys deprived of their mothers. Film of those early experiments, with baby monkeys seeking comfort from cloth-covered wire “mothers,” is a chilling hint at the emotional lives of children growing up in orphanages where there may be one caregiver for every 25 children.
 
“And that adult, even with the very best of intentions, can’t give the child the interaction they need to learn and feel good about themselves,” Ms. McCarthy said.
 
But research also shows, she noted, that young brains can rewire, and that orphans can thrive once they are in a loving family, as the Diaz children have. “The kids are just blossoming and flourishing in the most extraordinary way,” she said.
 
"The Dark Matter of Love" has become unexpectedly relevant in the wake of Russia’s ban in 2012 on U.S. adoptions, which halted 300 adoptions underway. Ms. McCarthy is now using her film to campaign against the ban.
 
“I think the law was politically motivated,” she said. “Having lived an adoption story with Masha, Marcel and Vadim, I was there when they met their family, and I saw these little kids who’d spent their lives in orphanages, wishing for the day when a mother and father were coming to take them away and that day comes, and that dream just comes alive for these children. And there are 300 kids out there who have had that process interrupted. What do you say to a three-year-old child who’s asking for that mum and that dad that came to see them?”
 
Adoption in Russia is still comparatively uncommon, she observed, with minimal governmental support for adoptive families. The future of children raised in Russian orphanages is bleak. When children age out at 17 or 18, they often end up living on the streets, resorting to crime or prostitution to survive.
 
Ms. McCarthy titled her film after the substance that astronomers hypothesize must exist to account for much of the mass that is missing from the universe. “Dark matter is responsible for 70 percent of the known universe, and we know very little about it. And love is responsible for at least 70 percent of who we are as people, and we know very little about how that works,” she said.
 
"The Dark Matter of Love" has aired on British television, and played to strong reviews at film festivals in the U.S. and Canada. It has also been screened in Moscow and other cities by groups lobbying for repeal of the ban.


Holiday concert in Cartago

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto  Tecnológico de Costa Rica will host a concert Monday at 5:30 p.m. to welcome the holiday season.

Festivities include illumination of a Christmas tree and fireworks, the university said. Performing will be the Grupo Senderos and the school's chorus, Áncora TEC.

The location is the entrance to the Cartago campus.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

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Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)


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  (506) 8707-4016  
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Real estate for sale (paid category)


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. jungalow@gmail.com.
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Beautiful farm

ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SURVIVAL FARMS IN THE WORLD.

25 acres in the Blue Zone of the Nicoya Peninsula with springs, picturesque river, rapids, giant trees, all usable terrain, forest, pasture, good soil, ocean views, habitable house, wonderful eternal spring climate, all services including phone lines, 145,000 USD.   axelspecial@gmail.com
8164-12/28/13

NOW REDUCED TO $680,000
ALAJUELA – PRIVATE COMPOUND OF 4 HOMES - $850,000 TURNKEY
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 gerrybuilt2000@yahoo.com.  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:
8162-1/11/14

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
http://www.youtube.com/user/CasaDelSolCostaRica
Asking  $250,000.    Call Gary 8784-2945 or email combrokers@aol.com
8157-2/22/13

Becker montage
Beach property on the Pacific Ocean in Guanacaste.

House and guest house on adjacent half acre lots. Each with separate electric,  private septic and well. Each can be sold stand alone or packaged. Modern kitchen, granite counters, Viking stove, large separate frig and freezer. Private commercial grade septic and well. No water shortages even in dry season. High speed internet and U.S. standard electric. Center of the beach -- NEVER floods. Estuary at each end of the beach with excellent kayaking and bird watching through the mangroves. Excellent fishing right off the shore. Great surfing, horseback riding, bicycling or Turtle watching. Groceries three miles away. Mentioned in "The Lonely Planet" Page 301. "Two of the most beautiful and least visited beaches in Costa Rica. Wilderness beaches of fine silver-grey sand." Despite opportunities for great surfing, kayaking and just about anything else you want to do on a sandy strip of paradise, the beaches are nearly always abandoned. $500K Will finance.  More pictures available at: http://www.rebecker.com/journal102006a.htm.  Contact information: ginbecker@gmail.com,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.

condors

HIGH SECURITY Condo
ULatina, UCR, & U Fidelitas San Pedro, San Jose. $185,000.
Quietly located behind The Foundation Costa Rica Canada, 500 meters north of Iglesia Lourdes, San Pedro. ULatina, UCR, U. Fidelitas, bus & new train station are within five minutes Four-bedroom, three and half-bath unit within a secure complex of 40 condos with high cement outside walls with secure entrance manned by an armed guard 24 hours per day. Security fencing with electric wire, and a CCTV recorded security camera system is monitored within the guard house.  For additional peace of mind, this residence equipped with an independently wired security system, iron bars on windows and patio doors, a telephone communication system to contact the guard house and secure parking at your front door.   Beautiful mountain view from roof covered 3rd floor terraza. A green park area inside the complex for your children to safely play and an outside parking area in from of guard house for visitors. Cable TV/Internet lines and 220-volt service for hot water heater, stove and dryer. Water storage tank with pump maintains high pressure to bathrooms on all three floors. American style washer and electric dryer, refrigerator, glass top stove, and kitchen cabinets included. Other furniture items may be available. Call Bill   (English) C.R. Phone: (506) 6011-6987   or  U.S. Phone:  (630) 886-4458  or   (305) 848-5577. C.R. Spanish  phone number: (506) 8799-4041  or  (506) 8363-9898.  Email: sjogringo@yahoo.com
6141-2/11/14

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  www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24055899   
For more information contact:  deeday214@gmail.com
8135-2/5/14

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, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2104

montage
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 bmcart3@gmail.com for more information ¡y se habla español!
8097-xxx

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: mwk350@yahoo.com
8082-10/9/13

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: www.hummingbirdnestbb.com.  Make your dream come true with a slice of paradise in a quiet, private setting. Call Ellen Neely at  8835-8711.  Email: nidocolibri@hotmail.com
8058-11/15/13

Guiones retreat
SURFERS PARADISE on PLAYA GUIONES, NOSARA
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 heidebob2@gmail.com
8027-1/12/14

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!
8010-7/28/13

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. www.oasisbytheseabandb.com $180,000 506-8869-9274.
7882-4/15/13

Real estate services
Real estate for sale
Businesses for sale

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, maryandjerre@aol.com, 8879-0235 or (303) 317-6603
8123-4/22/2
11

DIGITS RESOURCE GUIDE is for sale!
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 www.everydigit.com, 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.
8115-11/18/13

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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page


San José, Costa Rica, Thursday,  Nov. 28, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 236
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
hospital
Casa Presdiencial photo
This is the rendering of the tower

Hospital Metropolitano
inaugurates medical tower

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Hospital Metropolitano has inaugurated its new six-story medical tower. The structure is at the former Cruz Roja facility that was remodeled and became part of the new project.

The new facility houses 48 offices for physicians. President Laura Chinchilla participated in the inauguration.

Although the project had been estimated at $5 million, the president said it cost $7 million.

The private hospital has expanded and opened four regional locations since 2010.


North Koreans in Panamá
allowed to leave prison


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Panamá is freeing most of the 35 North Korean crew members it detained more than four months ago for smuggling Cuban weapons aboard a ship, a senior government official said Wednesday.

Tómas Cabal, head of the anti-terrorism section of Panama's foreign ministry, said 32 of the crew of the Chong Chon Gang would be freed and should leave the country by today.

The three most senior members, including the captain, still face charges of threatening Panama's security by seeking to move undeclared weapons through the Panama Canal.

The crew's return would end part of a bizarre case involving the three countries that provoked international controversy after the ship was seized in July for smuggling Soviet-era arms, including two MiG-21 aircraft, under 10,000 tons of sugar.

“The crew members have effectively been freed. They are drawing up the release order and will go to Havana. I understand they must leave by tomorrow,” Cabal said.

Panamanian officials have said the 32 appeared to be ignorant of what was in the cargo.

It was still unclear what would happen to the ship because a $1 million fine the Panama Canal Authority imposed on the vessel has not yet been paid.

The U.N. Security Council has yet to decide on penalties against Cuba because of a 7-year-old ban against arms transfers to North Korea due to the country's nuclear weapons program.

However, the arms will likely be sold or given away, Panama's foreign minister, Fernando Nuñez Fabrega has said.

In July, the North Korean crew sabotaged its electrical system and bilge pumps after Panamanian investigators stopped the ship near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal on suspicion it was carrying drugs after leaving Cuba.

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From Page 7:

Officials here court Chinese business reps

 By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some 100 visiting Chinese business representatives participated in a working breakfast where they were courted by Costa Rican officials Wednesday.

Luis Liberman, a vice president, and Anabel González, minister of Comercio Exterior, talked about the advantages and opportunities of investing in Costa Rica.

Liberman noted that Costa Rica is the first country in the region to have negotiated a trade treaty with China, and that Costa Rica has a number of such agreements with other countries. This gives investors here preferential access to about 70 percent of the global economy, he said.

The country also was suggested as a place for making clothing with materials from China.

Later in the day the visitors had a chance to talk with persons from specific industries.