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(506) 2223-1327                          Pulished Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013,  in Vol. 13, No. 244                              Email us
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World Cup promotions lead to fines for travel firms
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

There was no big delay in the national consumer organizations moving against what it saw as untrue promotions of travel to the World Cup next year.

The agency, the Comisión Nacional del Consumidor, has levied fines on four travel companies because they promised customers tickets to World Cup soccer games.

Only Viajes Colón  has a relationship with the soccer championship organizer, and only that company can make such offers, the consumer agency said.

Fined were Destinos TV S.A., Condotropic Sport S.A., Times Square Travel Agency S.A. (also doing business as Agencia de Viajes 2000) and Ludierpress S.A. (doing business as Servicios Turísticos Escazú), said the agency in a news release.

The fines were about 2.2 million colons each. The consumer agency is part of the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio.

The specific allegation, which was brought by
Viajes Colón, was that the promotions were misleading and left out clear and truthful information, said the agency.

Professional soccer is controlled by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.  Viajes Colón has an agreement with this association, known as FIFA to market a hospitality package that includes tickets to soccer games, travel and housing.

Part of the problem is that the soccer federation changed the way admissions are handled this year, noted the consumer organization.

In past years, many firms offered complete packages including game admissions.

If soccer fans do not want to purchase a package through Viajes Colón, they have the option of purchasing tickets via the association Web site, Several thousand Costa Ricans are expected to travel to Brazil next June to see the national team participate in the world tournament.

The travel agencies  have the right to appeal the fines that have been levied.

church remodel
Comité Bandera Azul Ecológica de San Miguel photo
Ceramic roof tiles await installation as part of restoration process.
Restoration work begins on historic Heredia church
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Repair work has begun on the 19th century Catholic church in Santo Domingo de Heredia. The church,  Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Castilla in San Miguel, is unusual because it is one of the few churches still in use that was constructed of adobe.

Residents raised 40 million colons, about $80,000 for the project. The work is being handled by the Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural of the Ministerio de Cultura.

The government is being asked to put in about 30 million, some $60,000, for interior repairs.
There is some uncertainty about when the church actually was built. Some say 1878, but others insist on 1827. A book published in 1991 says that the actual date is unlikely to be established authoritatively.

In 1982 the church was declared a site of national heritage, which is why the Centro Patrimonio is involved.

The Comité Pro Restauración held a festival Sunday to continue raising money and to celebrate the start of reconstruction. Among other improvements, the church will get a new tile roof. The committee is seeking donors at 2240-7582.

Motorists begin to face festival delays in city today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A good rule for motorists is to stay out of the capital Friday and Saturday unless there is an urgent need.  This is the weekend for the Festival de la Luz, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Some 150 traffic policemen are being assigned to duties that range as far as the Circunvalación intersection with the Autopista General Cañas.

Highways in the southern part of the city also will be affected, traffic officials said.

Work begins today along Paseo Colón and Avenida 2. Workmen have to set up viewing stands and other facilities for the estimated million persons who will line the parade route.

The parade route will be closed to vehicles at noon Saturday, and traffic police promise to tow any vehicles that are left there after that time.
Avenida 10 also will have some restrictions starting late Saturday morning. The area around the municipal building generally is where some parade units form up. Along the north side of the Caldera highway at Parque la Sabana many of the parade floats will be parked.

The afternoon is a good time for persons who want a close look at the floats to visit that area.

The Fuerza Pública plans for the parade has not yet been announced, but hundreds of officers will be detailed to protect visitors. Youngsters fresh out of a year of school classes, tend to take liberties during the parade. This includes underage drinking and generally carrying on. Police usually detain a few marijuana users during the evening.

The traffic police also are setting up corridors for emergency vehicles on parallel streets for the night of the parade, which will be aired on televisions with commentary.

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Our readers' comment
Lawyer clarifies section
on trustee transaction tax

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

One of the first things I do each morning is to scan the A.M. Costa Rica articles and focus on subjects that are written with an expat situation in mind. I am also a 40 year-plus expat who bootstrapped himself through law school in Costa Rica, and I am in practice with my daughter who is also a licensed attorney.

As such, I admire the work Mr. Garland Baker does in explaining local legal issues in plain English and often learn something new or additional from his articles. I do understand that he works closely with a capable local attorney who is on the ball as is Mr. Baker.

His informative article heading today’s edition, in my opinion, carries a mistake that will probably not hurt anyone. His reference to the Costa Rican Code of Commerce “Article 662 eliminated the tax exemption of property transfer taxes when transferring property between trustor and trustee.” My reading of said reformed legal disposition is that the tax situation is as before.

What was reformed was to limit the registering of trusts for assets at the public registry such that only trustees registered with the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras can act as such, thereby severely limiting access to the use of trusts by forcing anyone wishing to use this structure to deal with an entity approved by the Superintendencia, which cuts out about 99 percent of attorneys-at-law or forcing them to use one of these entities who have their own attorneys and have little interest in collaborating.

In any case, this situation severely undercuts the offering of trust services and thus the access and affordability.
Thomas Burke, LL.M.
San Rafael de Heredia

Retired banker outlines risks
in owner-financed mortgages

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

The article on vendor financing was a good summary of the legalities of vendor financing. However it understated the risks. Here are some further comments in the interests of balance.

Many expat vendors here have a substantial part of their wealth, or even most of it, tied up in their homes in Costa Rica. Often they ask more than current market values to sell. They are encouraged  to do this by realtors who win their trust and a contract by quoting a high likely sale price. The house then languishes on the market, sometimes for years. If the vendor refuses to reduce the price enough, it may not sell. At this point vendor finance might be suggested, if a cash strapped buyer can be interested.

The problem is that the vendor is being asked to act like a mortgage company. Sadly, the vendor has no experience of the risks and is often duped into this without understanding them. Mortgage companies spread their risks over many transactions, have legions of qualified experts and well established credit checking and debt collection operations. They also charge a hefty interest rate to make a profit.

Even the most trustworthy buyers with the best credit ratings can default. Loss of life, employment, health care costs, divorce, and many other issues can cause default. This could leave the vendor with no money or a long and costly collection process. The effect might be that the vendor is impoverished. 

Sadly, naive vendors often charge low interest rates for their loans to buyers. This is nuts. If the buyer is a good credit risk,  they should borrow from commercial lenders. If they cannot, then higher interest rates, or a higher sale value of the house may not be enough to compensate for the risk. Only real gamblers who can afford to lose the money should offer vendor finance.
Chris Clarke
Retired banker

Postal service gets increase
to ease its mounting deficit

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Correos de Costa Rica, the postal service, delivered 1.9 percent fewer letters and packages each year from 2010 through 2012, and it also registered a 22 percent estimated deficit for this year.

So the agency sought and received  an 11 percent increase in rates from the Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Públicos. The agency said that with the new rates, the postal service would have a 2.2 percent profit.

New postal rates range from 360 colons to 1,410 colons for service inside Costa Rica. The price depends on the weight. International postage is from 365 colons to 2,379 colons, the agency said.

Moderate quake reported
in southern Costa Rica

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Laboratorio de Ingenieria Sismica said that a 4.4 magnitude earthquake took place at 9:24 a.m. Monday some 6.2 kilometers east northeast of Ciudad Neily in southern Costa Rica.

This is the strongest recent quake in the area that sees many. There was a flurry of quakes in the 3 magnitude range in the last few weeks.

The quake was felt moderately in Ciudad Neily, Corredores, Talamanca and Golfito, said the Universidad de Costa Rica agency.

Electronics store robbery
results in quick arrest

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A robber went Christmas shopping at a cell telephone store in the downtown Monday.

An employee arrived at the store shortly after 8 a.m. to be confronted by a crook with a knife. The location is on Avenida 3 at Calle 1.

Once the crook was inside, a second man appeared, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. They proceeded to loot the place. The electronic goods taken could be as much as 6 million colons or about $12,000, said agents.  In addition to cell telephones, cash and hand-held tablets were taken, they said.

About two hours later, Fuerza Pública officers spotted a man carrying such items and detained him. The items appear to have come from the robbery, but the judicial police said the man was being held for receiving stolen goods and not because he was one of the robbers.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Dec. 10, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 244
Real Estate
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Lawmakers give U.S. Coast Guard boats permission to dock
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature approved with 44 votes permission for 43 U.S. Coast Guard ships to dock in the nation's ports. There was no action on a similar request for U.S. Navy vessels.

The action came in an unusual morning session of the lawmakers' full body.  They usually meet that way in the afternoon.

The country will not see 43 U.S. boats docking here. The U.S. Embassy usually provides the names of every possible boat that might end up wanting to dock in a Costa Rican port.
The request came from the security ministry that noted that U.S. ships are in joint patrol against drug smugglers with their Costa Rican counterparts. The ministry urged approval before lawmakers left on Christmas vacation Dec. 23 because a prior approval expires Dec. 31.

The legislature is divided over U.S. Navy vessels. The Partido Acción Ciudadana, for example, usually votes to allow the U.S. Coast Guard vessels but not the ones operated by the U.S. Navy.

Legislative approval for foreign vessels is required by the Costa Rican Constitution.

Here's where to get a taste of that traditional Christmas tamal
Teatro Popular Melico Salazar photo 
Staffers are preparing tamales for theater visitors
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Visitors downtown still have a chance Thursday and Friday to score a free tamal, the traditional Costa Rican Christmas food.

The Teatro Popular Melico Salazar is handing out free tamales at 5 p.m. both days in an event that includes movies, choruses and story telling.

The theater is just north of Parque Central in San José.

This is the first year that the theater has catered to passers-by. The program is somewhat of a promotional one for orchestra performances and a ballet in the evenings.

The theater also has its Christmas tree, and its nativity scene, called a portal in Spanish.

Theater staffers dressed for the season have been handing out tamales since the end of November. These are the meat, dough and vegetable mixture that is first baked in a banana leaf and then boiled.

The Costa Rican versions are usually far milder than some similar dishes in other Latin countries that have a heavy banana leaf flavor.

Curso K-SAR photo
Hey, that was fun! How about another game of hide 'n seek?
Volunteers hone their skills in handling Cruz Roja rescue dogs
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Rescue dogs are not born that way. and neither are their handlers.

That's why the Cruz Roja held a final training session Sunday for volunteers who are seeking certification as handlers of such animals. Two experts from Panamá provided the training, the Cruz Roja said, and nine volunteers participated in a course that began in early November.
The Unidad K-SAR is the name of the dog section. The training covered many bases from training a puppy to use of rescue dogs in collapsed buildings.

Sunday the volunteers were allowed to show their abilities in a three-hour simulation in which the dogs sought out hidden victims in various situations.

The rescue agency said that both the handler and the dog need to be finely trained.


You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Dec. 10, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 244
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Experiment reveals a possible mechanism by which meditation has an effect
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

People who frequently meditate have long touted the benefits, but new research claims to show the practice can cause a range of genetic and molecular differences that lead to better health.

The new study, by researchers in Wisconsin, Spain, and France, reports the first evidence that meditation appears to inhibit the production of proteins made by some genes that cause inflammation.

The study investigated the effects of a day of intensive mindfulness practice in a group of experienced meditators, compared to a group of untrained control subjects who engaged in quiet non-meditative activities.

After eight hours of mindfulness practice, the meditators showed “altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.”

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice," says study author Richard J. Davidson and professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

‘Expressing” can be thought of a volume control for genes, said Jill Sakai of the University of Wisconsin-Madison

“When it is turned up, it is more active making its specific proteins, and
when it is turned down it makes fewer of those proteins,” she said. “The mindfulness meditation practice had the effect of dialing down the volume knob for a set of genes thought to be involved in inflammation.”

The researchers say there was no difference in the tested genes between the two groups of people at the start of the study. The observed effects were seen only in the meditators following mindfulness practice. In addition, several other DNA-modifying genes showed no differences between groups.

"Most interestingly, the changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic drugs," says Perla Kaliman, first author of the article and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain.

Mindfulness-based trainings have shown beneficial effects on inflammatory disorders in prior clinical studies and are endorsed by the American Heart Association as a preventative intervention. The new results provide a possible biological mechanism for therapeutic effects.

Researchers make clear that the study was not designed to distinguish any effects of long-term meditation training from those of a single day of practice. Previous studies in rodents and in people have shown dynamic responses to physical stimuli such as stress, diet, or exercise within just a few hours.

"Our genes are quite dynamic in their expression and these results suggest that the calmness of our mind can actually have a potential influence on their expression," Davidson says.

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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 and put in, #969365 for pics and full description Then write to us, Thanks. Email:

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:

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

Tropical Homes of Costa Rica is offering the best selection of vacation homes, condos and long-term rental homes in Playa Flamingo, Playa Potrero and Playa Brasilito on  the Pacific Gold Coast of Guanacaste. A wide selection of private residencies is providing an excellent choice for your stay in this beautiful part 
of Costa Rica. We are offering homes for every budget and every need. Please visit our Web page at or contact us at or call at (506) 2654-5442.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Fifth news page
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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Dec. 10, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 244
Real Estate
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Eight major high-tech firms
want reduced surveillance

By the A.M. Costa Rica news services

Eight major U.S. technology companies are calling on President Barack Obama and Congress to enact new curbs on American surveillance programs they say have given the government too much power.

The companies, in full-page newspaper ads Monday, said the spying "in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual." The technology firms said the surveillance "undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It's time for change."
The companies that made the public appeal are some of the most prominent technology names in the world - Google, Apple, Microsoft, AOL, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and LinkedIn. They have been stung in recent months by revelations of the vast scope of U.S. surveillance revealed in the cache of documents leaked by former U.S. national security contractor Edward Snowden. He is now living in asylum in Russia, even as the U.S. seeks his extradition on espionage charges.

Some of the documents showed that the National Security Agency has broken into the communication links that connect Google and Yahoo data centers around the world. But other documents showed Microsoft had worked with the government to thwart encryption mechanisms meant to secure users' Internet privacy.

The eight companies said in their open letter they are "focused on keeping users' data prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks." They urged the U.S. to "ensure that government surveillance efforts are clearly restricted by law," and proportionate to national security risks the government faces.

Lawmakers in Congress have been considering various restrictions on the surveillance but have not yet acted.

British and U.S. spies play
online games for information

By the A.M. Costa Rica news services

U.S. and British spies play online games, not as a form of entertainment but a way to look for secret communications, financial transactions and terrorist plans.

According to the documents released by the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, and reported by The New York Times and the Guardian, intelligence operatives from the United States and Britain collected data and contents of messages exchanged by online players of games, such as World of Warcraft and Second Life.

As the players often do, the agents created fake identities, so-called avatars, and communicated by voice and text chats with other players to extract information about possible illicit plans. Law enforcement agencies also use fake identities to fight against human trafficking and child pornography.

In a top-secret document from 2008, the NSA says that seemingly innocent online games can be used as a communication network for secret messages.

The two newspapers report that some online games were being monitored by so many agents from different U.S. intelligence agencies that a coordinating group was established to avoid conflicts.

U.S. lawmakers appear close
to an agreement on budget

By the A.M. Costa Rica news services

Leading lawmakers say House and Senate negotiators appear close to agreeing on a federal budget and avert another government shutdown.  But sources close to the negotiations say the deal that is taking shape is modest, and not a so-called grand bargain that would tackle fundamental spending priority issues that have divided Congress for the past two years.

After more than two years of moving from one budget crisis to another, some lawmakers said they were optimistic members of the small budget conference committee were close to reaching an accord to at least fund the government.

Top negotiators, Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican, and Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat, have been working behind closed doors to hammer out a deal before members of the House leave town for the year on Friday.

Speaking on ABC News This Week, Sen. Rob Portman highlighted some priorities for Republicans.

"... Not raise taxes, which is important during this weak economy, and actually avoid a government shutdown.  So I am hopeful that even by the end of this week we will be able to come together and achieve that," he said.

Speaking on the same ABC NEWS program, Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, was a bit more cautious.

"Negotiations are making progress, moving in the right direction.  They have not closed the deal," he said.

Details have not been announced, but some congressional aides said the emerging deal aimed to partially repeal the unpopular across the board spending cuts known as the sequester, restoring some funding to some domestic and defense programs.  To cover the costs, House Budget Chairman Ryan and Senate Budget Chairman Murray are wrangling over possible cuts to federal workers' pensions and higher security fees for airline passengers.

Due to one-on-one talks between Murray and Ryan, some members of Congress have expressed frustration they have been largely excluded from even knowing what is in the potential deal.  But there is also a widespread desire among both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to avoid another breakdown in the talks that could lead to a costly and politically-damaging government shutdown in mid-January.

In the few remaining legislative days this year, lawmakers also need to pass a farm bill, and a measure to fund long-term unemployment insurance benefits will expire at the end of year unless Congress takes action.

Experts said it was highly unlikely the Republican-led House would take up the issue of immigration reform any time soon.

U.S. will transport troops
into chaotic African country

By the A.M. Costa Rica news services

The U.S. military has agreed to transport African Union peacekeeping troops to the Central African Republic, where the French military is trying to stop sectarian violence.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel agreed to the move after the French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian asked for the airlift assistance.

He said the United States believes immediate action is needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

France has deployed 1,600 soldiers to the Central African Republic, its former colony, as part of a U.N.-mandated effort aimed at ending months of instability.

Violence in the Central African Republic increased last week when Christian fighters launched an attack on the capital in opposition to former  Muslim rebels who now run the government. At least 400 people were killed.

The instability in the impoverished country began in March, when the rebel Seleka movement seized power, ousting President Francois Bozize.

Cheerleader's defamation case
concerns Internet companies

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In a move that some of the biggest names on the Internet say could significantly chill online speech, a federal judge in Cincinnati is allowing a gossip Web site to be sued for defamation by a former American football cheerleader convicted of having sex with a teenager.

The ruling spurred Internet giants Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and Google to blast the decision, saying it would undermine a law passed by Congress in 1996 that provides broad immunity to Web sites and fosters free speech online.

The federal Communications Decency Act provided immunity from liability to Web sites for content posted by their users. The law also was designed to encourage Web sites to self-police offensive material.

"If Web sites are subject to liability for failing to remove third-party content whenever someone objects, they will be subject to the heckler's veto, giving anyone who complains unfettered power to censor speech," according to briefs filed last month by lawyers for Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Amazon, Gawker and BuzzFeed, among others.

The case began in December of 2012 when former professional football league cheerleader Sarah Jones, also a former high school teacher, sued the Web site, The Dirty, for posting stories about her sexual history. One post alleged she had sex with members of the football team. Ms. Jones argued the posts were untrue and caused her mental anguish and embarrassment.

The Web site is a gossip site mostly about sex, celebrities, promiscuity and plastic surgery. Users can submit content anonymously.

The owner of the Web site, Nik Richie, said the information about Jones was given to him anonymously and argued that it was not his responsibility to check the accuracy. He said he simply added a comment about high school teachers and sex.

In July, a Kentucky judge allowed the suit to proceed, and the jurors in the case found the posts were untrue and that Richie had acted with malice or reckless disregard by publishing them. The jury awarded Ms. Jones $338,000.

Richie is asking the federal court to find that the case should never have been allowed to proceed.  Oral arguments should start early next year with a verdict expected in the summer.

The posts in question were made prior to Jones being charged with having sex with a minor. Last year she pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a former student. Jones and the student, who was then 17, are still together and say they’re engaged to get married.

Bali deal advances chances
for Pacific partnership OK

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Expectations are growing that an ambitious trade pact between a dozen nations around the Pacific Rim may be wrapped up in two to three months with signs that political desire for a deal is trumping a string of technical difficulties in drawing it up.
Just two days after the first World Trade Organization trade reform deal was pushed through on Saturday, trade ministers from 12 countries are in closed-door talks in a Singapore hotel to try to wrap up the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
An agreement would establish a free-trade bloc stretching from Vietnam to Chile and Japan, encompassing some 800 million people and almost 40 percent of the global economy. More far-reaching than other deals, it would go beyond tariffs on physical trade and try to regulate sensitive areas, such as government procurement, and give companies more rights to sue governments.
Just a few months ago a deal looked a long way off, with Japan only entering into the talks in July and many countries at odds over issues ranging from tariffs on farm produce to rules on Internet freedom and state-owned enterprises.
However, a push by the United States to try to reach some kind of agreement by the end of the year looks as if it may be starting to pay off. Japan's trade minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters Monday that progress was made during talks over dinner on Sunday, and observers say plenty of pre-work for the partnership talks went on during last week's World Trade Organization meeting in Bali.
“I would like to continue to make efforts toward an agreement by the year-end,” Nishimura said, adding that he planned to hold talks with the United States later Monday.
Observers say that while an agreement in Singapore by the time the four days of talks end today is unlikely, there could be enough impetus to conclude a deal within the next couple of months, even if many technical issues are not finalized.
“If they're close enough on the political issues, they could announce a sort of political agreement and say 'we're done', and the last little bits will be resolved on their own,” said Deborah Elms, head of the Temasek Foundation Center for Trade & Negotiations.
One sticking point has been Japan's long-stated aim to exempt five politically sensitive farm products, rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar, from the scrapping of tariffs.
Nishimura said they are unlikely to move far on that issue. “I've already mentioned the parts we can't budge on, so the issue is what both sides can do based on that,” he said, referring to the talks between Japan and the U.S. “For my part, I would like the United States to show flexibility.”
The trade partnership negotiations, which have run for three years, have been mired in controversy over a lack of transparency and slowed by the conflicting interests of the negotiating countries, U.S. lawmakers and advocacy groups.
No draft of the entire text has been released, a move criticized by campaigners who say they are being kept in the dark about what's at stake. A leak of a draft chapter on intellectual property, released by Wikileaks last month, revealed a number of serious rifts among the countries, which would have suggested a deal was some way off. However, observers say political maneuvering is likely to see the deal ultimately pushed through.
“We are not in a rational zone, we are in a political zone, and this agreement has increasingly become one about foreign policy issues and strategic alliances, and making the least worst trade-offs to achieve a final agreement,” said Jane Kelsey, a law professor at the University of Auckland, who is in Singapore to try to observe the talks.
The U.S. has also faced roadblocks at home, with Congress complaining about a lack of consultation over the deal and opposing proposed new legislation that would give the White House a freer hand to clinch such trade agreements. Even if a deal is reached within the next few months, it's likely to be some time until it comes into effect.
With the U.S. government lacking the ability to fast track approval of the deal and mid-term elections coming up next year, it may not be put before Congress for approval until November at the earliest.
“Best case scenario is July 1, 2015, and probably more likely is Jan. 1, 2016 for this to come into force,” said Ms. Elms at the Temasek Foundation Center.
The agreement could also be expanded. Last month, South Korea said it planned to join the 12-nation talks soon. There is also a possibility that China could eventually enter the talks as well.
The full list of nations already in the talks is: the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Chinese rocket malfunction
dooms Brazilian monitor

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A satellite jointly developed by Brazil and China has failed to enter orbit because the rocket carrying it malfunctioned after launch from China's northern Shanxi province.

The environmental monitoring satellite was launched aboard a Chinese Long March 4B rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported the rocket malfunctioned during the flight and the satellite failed to enter orbit.

The state news agency said Chinese and Brazilian experts are analyzing the cause of the malfunction.

A satellite venture was set up between Brazil and China in 1996 to help Brazil monitor its forests, oceans and agricultural production, as well as for commercial sale. Two satellites of the series were launched in 1999 and 2003 aboard Chinese-made Long March rockets.

Earlier this year, a Chinese space program official said the country wants to increase its share of the global commercial satellite launching business from 3 percent to 15 percent by 2020.

Venezuela's Maduro ready
for new merchant crackdown

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro pledged to deepen his economic offensive to force businesses to cut prices after his ruling socialist party won the most votes in weekend municipal elections.
With three-quarters of the 337 mayoral races counted by Monday morning, the socialists and their allies had 49 percent of votes, compared to 43 percent for the opposition coalition and its partners.
That result derailed efforts by Maduro's critics to turn the vote into a show of disapproval for his government and the legacy of late socialist leader Hugo Chávez.
The president's candidates benefited from a populist crackdown in November to force merchants to slash prices of goods such as TVs, car parts and home hardware.
"This week we are going to deepen the economic offensive to help the working class and protect the middle class," a triumphant Maduro told supporters in a rally after the results were announced late on Sunday night.
"This week it's going to be the housing and food sectors. We're going in with guns blazing, keep an eye out."
Maduro's personal approval rating jumped sharply after he instituted the economic measures, which won over consumers weary of the country's 54 percent annual inflation. Maduro blames the rising prices on an economic war he says is financed by political adversaries.
The initial steps focused on home appliances and later extended to controls on rent of commercial buildings such as shopping malls, to try to lower prices.
Sunday's election was the biggest political test for Maduro since he narrowly won a presidential election in April following Chavez's death from cancer. He called the results a tribute to the late leader whose 14-year rule polarized the OPEC nation.
"Here it is, commander, the gift of your people ... the gift of loyalty and love," he told a crowd, whose mostly bored expressions broke into joyful chanting at the mention of Chavez's name.
The results may help Maduro to enact unpopular economic measures such as a currency devaluation that Wall Street investors call necessary to close the government's fiscal gap and reduce capital flight.
But extending the price cuts may worsen product shortages and reduce the productivity of a private sector already battered by years of nationalizations.
Nor does the majority in the local polls help him address the structural imbalances of a state-driven economy struggling with slowing growth, the highest inflation in the Americas and embarrassing shortages of goods such as toilet paper.
Critics say he needs to scrap exchange controls and lift restrictions on private businesses.
Economists were left guessing Maduro's next move.
"This might strengthen the radicals who pushed for the tightening of price controls that appears to have provided Maduro with the needed electoral boost," Bank of America analyst Franciso Rodriguez said.
"On the other hand, it gives the government sufficient room to devalue now that the elections are behind."
The socialist party had been widely expected to win a majority of the total number of seats because the distribution of voters makes it dominant in rural, sparsely populated constituencies.
But opposition leader Henrique Capriles had previously said the opposition would win a majority of votes. The results showed the continuing division over Chavez's legacy, he said.
"Nobody should feel defeated. We have a country that is divided, and we want Venezuela to be united," a disappointed-looking Capriles said in a late-night news conference.
"This country does not have a single owner."
The Socialist Party's majority overshadowed opposition gains in crucial areas such as the industrial city of Valencia, where the party's mayor was recently arrested on corruption charges.
The opposition also won in Barinas, capital of the late Chavez's home state that has for years been dominated by his family even though Maduro had decreed Dec. 8 a day of "Loyalty and Love" to the former president.
The opposition is also expected to increase the total number of mayors' seats it controls.
Even a better overall vote showing for the opposition, though, would have been largely symbolic.
The next polls are for a new parliament in late 2015, and opponents will have to wait until 2016 if they want to try to remove Maduro via a recall referendum halfway through his term.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

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

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

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

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

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

For those looking for quality properties and service at quality prices. Central Valley Rentals. Offering honesty, experience and knowledge. Your Villa Real Expert. Call us now  Toll Free (877) 845-4533. In Costa Rica 2228-5961 or 8339-2112.

Re/Max, the Pacific coast expert
Re/Max offers comprehensive Costa Rica Real Estate, vacation rental and relocation services. Our award-winning team is the largest in the country, and can show you the best lifestyle and financial investment properties in the most desirable locations including prime real estate in Tamarindo, Langosta, Conchal, Flamingo, Pinilla, Coco, Hermosa and Playa Panama.  Give us a call in Costa Rica at 506-2653-0073, or toll free from the U.S. and Canada 1-800-385-5930. Re/Max, the name you trust for the finest real estate services in Costa Rica.

Moran Arenal
Lake Arenal, Costa Rica
The undiscovered jewel of Central America, 35 square miles of blue, pristine, clear water ideal for fishing, swimming, boating, Real estate values still low.
Great lake front, river front land, farms, homes, condos and commercial property. Some with owner financing
This is far and away the most beautiful place in all Central America — cool climate. Try our two-day, all-inclusive discovery tour for $299.

Check with our Web site at
Contact us at the office: (506) 2694-0088
Cell (506) 8880-8888
Phone number from the U.S. (305) 307-0088
Moran logo

Costa Rica,

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

Visit our Web Site:

English: (Cristian Arce)
(506) 8309-0173  
English:  (Luis Arce)
(506) 7100-8489  
 Español: (Luis G. Jiménez)
  (506) 8707-4016  
Grecia 794
This is the BIGGEST DEAL of the month now at $850.000: HERE!
30,000 square meters of land and 750 square-meters of construction.
Grecia 792
300 square meters of land, 195 square meters of construction HERE
Grecia 807
  18,000 square meters of land and 300 square meters of construction. HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Gulf road

Beachfront pristine five-hectare (13-acre) property

includes a common open air lodge with kitchen, three cabins, a caretaker's house, a garage and a secure storeroom. The property is maritime and has a current and valid maritime user's permit, all up to date and clear. In addition to the immaculately landscaped portion of the property that is already developed with bungalows, there are an additional three hectares that are ready for expansion and are cleared and planted in grass. The sales offer includes furnishings, appliances, catamaran, kayaks, and a whole series of extras. This property has about 300 meters of beach front in a docile portion of the gulf about 15 minutes north of Puerto Jimeenez, ideal for mooring boats just off the property shoreline. Has municipal water and power. Offered at $970,000. All reasonable offers will be considered. See photos and maps and more at Contact us at: or +1-866-514-7435.

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.

long view

200 miles of panoramic views over the Gulf of Nicoya and from Nicaragua along the volcanoes of the Cordillera de Guanacaste down to Jacó and around the southern Nicoya Peninsula to the open Pacific. 55 acres located at an altitude of about 2,800 feet in a fresh eternal spring climate, forest and pasture plus an old avocado forest. Many home sites, hidden entrance, property roads, spring waters.  195,000 USD

Spectacular view property on a ridge near Alajuela.  Large home and 3 rental homes totaling 7,300 square feet (678 square meters) live-in construction.  Property area is 3,376 square meters (0.83 acres) including a vacant lot for expansion options.  In total there are 10 bedrooms, each with an ensuite bath.  Property has pool, rancho, mirador, courtyard and covered parking.  Homes have romantic fireplaces, built-ins, storage, other luxury features.  Turnkey sale includes all appliances, furniture, fixtures, equipment.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See property video here:

See virtual tour of accommodations here:

For more details go to:

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

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:  Contact information:,  US: 001-612-599-0205 or Costa Rica 011-506-2655-1202.


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:

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

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

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

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:

humming bird nest

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

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

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Jaco station
Gas Station/Auto Plaza
Located on the Pan American Highway, Jacó Beach, Costa Rica, Central America. This property is  45,000  square feet or  18,000  meters.  Liquor and convenience store is optional. Room to add an automotive service, car wash, restaurant, pharmacy, lotto sales, tour sales, ATM's,  etc, for a real money maker. Also future plans for a 80-unit  auto motel and casino. See on Youtube at: Asking price  $3.9 million. Email or call: 8899-9870.

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

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

Live the dream!
Several profitable businesses, including a regional radio station, are for sale in Costa Rica. Certain purchases can provide the new owner with residency as well as a great lifestyle. So live your dream while making a profit. Contact:

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The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2013 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
sixth news page

San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday,  Dec. 10, 2013, Vol. 13, No. 244
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News from the BBC up to the minute

BBC news feeds are disabled on archived pages.

Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
These were the jars confiscated from a trucker.

Boxes of pills and chest rub
are spotted and confiscated 

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police are not going to believe that those 7,600 pills and jars of eucalyptus rub are for personal use.

That is why they confiscated three boxes of medicines coming from Nicaragua in Santa Cecilia, Guanacaste, Sunday.

The items lacked approval from the Ministerio de Salud, they said.

The pills were supposed to help people lose weight, and the rub is for respiratory relief, said police.

TV correspondent murdered,
and reporter is missing

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

In Honduras, a journalist has been murdered, and in Mexico, a female reporter went missing.

Killed in Honduras was Juan Carlos Argeñal Medina, correspondent of Globo TV in the city of Danli, El Paraíso province, in the southeast of the Central American nation. Argeñal Medina, 43, was found on Saturday inside his home with several shots to the head and chest. He was also a correspondent of Radio Globo and was the owner of the Christian television channel Vida Televisión and of a record company.

Although it was not immediately known if he was killed in retaliation for his work, his family linked the murder to complaints he had made about alleged corruption inside the city’s administration.

In Mexico, the whereabouts of Zoila Márquez Chiu remained unknown. She is a reporter with the online newspaper Linea Informativa in Zacatecas. Ms. Márquez Chiu was last seen Saturday afternoon driving her car to a local video club. She never arrived and, according to local media, could not be located via her mobile phone because she had not taken it with her. The authorities reported that there was no immediate indication whether she might have been kidnapped.

In another development, in Brazil seven people, accused of murdering journalist Edinaldo Filgueira, were sentenced Friday to 19 to 23 years in prison. The public prosecutor’s office proved that those accused had got together to kill Filgueira because of his work as a journalist.

Filgueira, a blogger, editor and publisher of the newspaper O Serrano, had criticized the local city administration. He was murdered June 15, 2011, in the town of Serra do Mel in Rio Grande do Norte state. He also served as president of the workers party in Serra do Mel.

Meanwhile, in Guatemala the government of President Otto Pérez announced in late November the launch of a protection mechanism to ensure the safety of journalists. It is due to begin functioning in early 2014 and will have the collaboration of ministries, state bodies and press associations.

Campaign begun to prevent
increased rustling of cattle

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law enforcement is seeking to enlist the aid of the public to stem a tide of cattle rustlings.

The  Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal announced the campaign Monday in conjunction with the security ministry and the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Ranchers also are participating through the  Corporación Ganadera.

Cattle are not only stolen for resale but there is a steady series of incidents in which cattle are killed in the fiend and cut up for food.

Costa Rican News
Retire NOW in Costa Rica

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From Page 7:

Relocated eating place has Herman Hesse motif

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A well-known eating and drinking place, characterized as urban-bohemian, has relocated in downtown San José after being ousted by construction of a new legislative building.

The business is the Restaurante y Bar El Lobo Estepario, which promoters say now has a space much larger and more attractive.

The bar has been a gathering place for the art crowd and those, as the bohemian title implies, who follow an alternative lifestyle.

The new location is on Avenida 2 at Calle 13. The location has two floors and capacity for 200 persons, an announcement said.

Those sought as customers are the young adults and the not-so-young adults and art lovers. The operators are Dennis Ávila and Paola Valverde. The name of the facility comes from a novel by Hermann Hesse, "Steppenwolf," or wolf of the steppes.

Several well known artists participated in the interior decorations consistent with the character in the Hesse novel, said the announcement.

The first floor contains a permanent display of faces of prominent poets, and the second floor has space for a small theater.