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Pacific lots of Costa Rica
(506) 2223-1327         Published Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010,  in Vol. 10, No. 248           E-mail us
Jo Stuart
Real Estate
About us

Here are some recommendations for high season
By Jay Brodell
editor of A.M. Costa Rica

A report on tourist occupancies Wednesday did not point out that the impact of the world's financial crisis falls disproportionately on smaller firms.

Wednesday some of those tourism operators said that for them conditions are far worse than the so-so report from the tourism industry in general. Among other findings of the Cámara Nacional de Turismo was that Christmas reservations in the Central Valley were below 40 percent of capacity.

Large hotel chains have deep pockets that can see them through rough times. Small operators
frequently lose their investment in such times. There are hotels and other tourism locations that have dismissed their employees and closed their doors.

In Costa Rica it is the mom-and-pop tourism operations that brings A.M. Costa Rica readers the news each morning. Consequently we wanted to take this opportunity to recommend to our thousands of daily readers those firms that are offering short-term lodging for the high season. They represent different emphases and locations, but each has demonstrationed concern for providing quality experiences for tourists.

We encourage our readers to consider them.

A selection of tourism providers worth considering
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. or e-mail us at

Do you come to San José a lot and are sick of paying high nightly rates?
Ask about our frequent client discount program . . .  you will be happy you did. We offer a Cozy
Bed and Breakfasrt

interior room
Boutique Hotel and a Vacation Rental with Great Views, Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, and Free calls to Canada and the States. Through our full-operating tour company, we can take care of every little detail of your trip for you. Just 20 minutes from the airport located in a great area in Escazú, we have the ideal location. We believe in warm 
hospitality and excellent customer care, we speak English, Spanish and Italian. +506-2288-6762 or 786-467-6354. E-mail

Costa Rica Fishing Vacations
Customized, upscale Costa Rica fishing  trips. Designed by 100% local experts.
Call Toll Free: 1-800-606-1860

Costa Rica Timeshares for Sale
Exponentially more flexible than outright ownership.
Available at a fraction of the cost of a vacation home.

Wish you could own real estate in Costa Rica, but can't justify the expense of a second home? Buy timeshare weeks, instead. Enjoy the comforts of home, the amenities of resort-living and the convenience of never having to make reservations. Contact Timeshare-Resale-Rental today to save up to 65% off the price of a Costa Rica timeshare property.
Toll Free: 1-866-430-4391

Affordable and Authentic
Costa Rica Vacation Packages
nature air

Natura Air fores path
Nature Vacations offers anything from short visa runs to Nicaragua or Panama to full length personalized travel itineraries.Visit our Web site to learn more about this  beautiful country or chat live with one of our travel designers for expert advice for your next vacation to Costa Rica, Panama or Nicaragua. 1-888-280-9734 (506) 2299-6000


Costa Rica Vacations
Let us plan your next trip to tropical paradise!  My Costa Rica is a travel agency that specializes in Costa Rica Vacation Packages including the country’s best hotels, transportation and tours.  Planning your vacation is easier than ever before with our expert travel coordinators.  
Contact My Costa Rica Today!
Toll Free: 1-866-498-0824
San Jose, Costa Rica:                 +506-2253-6497
We’re your Costa Rica Travel Experts!

Luxury Panama Vacations
Custom, all-inclusive vacations to Panama by 100% locally based experts in Panama.  See "the new Costa Rica" before the secret gets out!  Visit our site or call 1-866-393-4192 if from the U.S. or 00 (507)-264-1279 if calling from Costa Rica.

Don't forget the firms and individuals offering longer-term rentals on our rental page.

Also those offering vehicle rentals on our news pages and also on classified page.

Remember, too, those firms seeking your patronage with display ads in this newspaper.

Posada Mimosa, a Country Bed & Breakfast
 NEAR GRECIA, 20 mins. West of airport, charming B&B accommodations PLUS fully furnished one, two and three bedroom units,
   telephone/tv, maid service, panoramic pool, secure gated entrance, stunning views over the Central Valley. Live in the world's best climate (National Geographic), only 80 minutes from
Pacific beaches, perfect location for day tours. AN ADDED BONUS our bestselling book "Potholes to Paradise" ( tells about our personal   experiences living in Costa Rica. For more information and prices tel/fax (506) 2494-5868, (506) 2494-2295 or e-mail us at Check our Web site at

Vacation Rentals
It's time for you to enjoy the Costa Rican vacation experience of a lifetime in the most beautiful destination in the tropics. Let our team of vacation specialists plan the ideal itinerary for your next escape, take advantage of Green Season Specials for July to November or start planning the ultimate holiday escape and join us Christmas and New Year's. The new highway from the San Jose
HRG logo
  International airport
to the Central Pacific Coast is finally open making the drive just one hour from the airport to Los Suenos Resort & Marina. Come join in the fun and experience the ultimate destination for Sport Fishing, Adventure Tours, River Rafting, Relaxation, and more.
Visit us at to find out more
Free Call from USA : 1.888.409.4581
Inside Costa Rica : +506 2637.8484

Welcome to Hotel Sabana B&B

Where all guests are VIPs
Our cozy Bed & Breakfast will help you make the best of your trip to Costa Rica, tropical paradise with No Artificial Ingredients. Our family-operated
restful B&B
 eco and community friendly facility is conveniently located near La Sabana Park. Comfortable and clean rooms. Terrace dining at our Rainforest Cafe and access to everything. Free airport transfers, car and tour  
bookings, laundry and room service. Please visit our Web site or contact us via e-mail or call us at  011 (506) 2232-2876 or  011 (506) 2296-3751. Skype: hotel.sabana.b.b  Also see us on Facebook.

Ready For a Vacation to Costa Rica?

Customized vacation packages 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. You can sit back and relax while we plan your dream Costa Rica Vacation.

New hotel with rooms from $30 a night

We are a new, boutique type hotel located in the center of San Jose near the National Theatre. We have large Jr. suites, standard rooms, single rooms and a handicap room.  All are comfortable with new orthopedic mattresses, private bathrooms, wireless internet, and with a familiar atmosphere and personalized service.  Singles from $30/night plus tax. MC/VISA.  (506) 2233-1805 or (506) 8866-0572  E-mail  Web site:

Cachi view

Spend Christmas-New Years+
in Rancho Cascades of Paradise
Double Rooms or luxury home rental for 2 days, weekly, monthly thru April 1st. 3 Waterfalls on our own river, very private, secure — 24 hour guard, free parking Orosi Valley, the #1 Tourist Area. View of Cachi Lake nearby: rafting, trout fishing, 3 national parks, hot springs for swimming or soaking, massages, restaurants, lots to do and see or just relax in our natural beauty. Transportation available. 35 minutes to San José, 20 minutes to Terra Mall — the biggest and best. For prices and details call 506-2574-7893 or e-mail us at

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 248

Costa Rica Expertise
Costa Rica Expertise Ltd E-mail Tel:506-256-8585 Fax:506-256-7575

Pure LIfe Development
Sportmen's Lodge

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.

Language education

If I Can Learn To Speak Spanish, Anybody Can!
It is very important that as residents of Costa Rica, we at
SPanish school presidentJames DeRoy
president, Epifania

least learn to speak basic Spanish.  We at Epifania Spanish School want to help you.  Our teachers are all courteous professionals and all want to help you.

Conveniently located in Escazú and Curridabat, the program for residents consists of two hours per day, two days per week for $200 per month. Maximum class size is five persons, minimum of 2 persons. 
Visit our Web site at
and click on Residents Program or call us at 2524-1726 for complete details.

Real estate agents and services

Jeff Fisher, Owner-Broker
CR Beach Investment Real Estate

now celebrating 5 years of helping clients find their dream properties in the Central Pacific-Jacó area.
CR Beach logo
Jeff, Andre, Colin, Francis & Junior have lived in Costa Rica for more than 99 years &
are dedicated to helping you realize your dream!
"We pay for referrals!"
Member of the N.A.R., the Costa Rican Real Estate Board CRGAR and the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce.
Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119  Office: 2643-4334/3672
Located in the heart of Jacó. IL Galeone Center, Local 14, Jacó, Costa Rica

with Great Estates of Costa Rica

20 years Costa Rican
real estate experience

Member of the Costa Rican Real Estate Association, Lic. #1000

Member of
Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce
(506)  2220-3729 &  (506)
8333-8391 cell
(506)  2232-5016 (phone/fax)

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Latitude 9
Real Estate, Development, Investments.

Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
506 2777-1197

Over 25 years experience in Costa Rica

CENTURY 21 Jacó Beach Realty
A Name You Trust & Professional Service

Buying? Selling?
We Can Do It!
1 (877) 746-3868
  Tom Ghormley - Owner/Broker - in CR since '79

Beachfront, Views, Mountains, Lots, Farms, Beaches, Houses, Condos. Hotels, Restaurants, Projects, Commercial, Investments


We will translate your documents from English into Spanish or Spanish to English
Rosa Monge
Rosa Maria Monge
Legal problems?
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Afraid of signing documents in Spanish that you do not understand?
Rosa Maria Monge, interpreter in court,
simultaneous translator, paralegal
Cell 8919-4545 or e-mail 
Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
We get results!


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Rica, and use state-of-the-art cosmetic dentistry procedures that can give you a beautiful and natural-looking smile in 11-days at a fraction of the cost of what you will pay in other countries. Please, call us at +1 (888) 663-9764 or request a call from one of our dental advisers.
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Dr. Marco A. Muñoz Cavallini has placed and restored
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Angela Jiménez
ask Angela Jiménez
Architect/Certified Appraiser
23 years experience
for Costa Rica Banks
• building inspections
•¨property management
• construction advice and design
• remodeling advice
• certified appraisals

Hearing consultant

Allan Weinberg
your American hearing consultant
Now offering the smaller, better and less expensive hearing aid
from Widex, their best ever.

A fraction of U.S. prices. No more background noise, feedback or echoing and a lifetime of service.
We service U.S. veterans
Clinica Dinamarca 10 clinics
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U.S. Tax International

Plus Costa Rican taxes, accounting, and legal services
Over 15 years in Costa Rica
(English Spoken)
C.R. 2288-2201   U.S 786-206-9473
FAX: 2289-8235
Web page with vital U.S. tax info HERE!

James Brohl, C.P.A. & M.B.A.
US Income Tax,  US GAAP Accounting
& Business Consulting

• US Tax return preparation  for
individuals and businesses
• eFile returns: secure with faster refunds
• Assist with back reporting and other filing issues
• Take advantage of the Foreign
Income Tax Exclusion (up to $
91,500 in 2010}
• Business Consulting to facilitate working in Costa Rica
• Accounting for US and International Financial Reporting

Telephone 8305-3149 or 2256-8620

Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
U.S. and San José offices
Getting and authenticating documents can be a chore —

we know how to do it. Experienced with many nationalities. Up-to-date on
Costa Rica's evolving immigration law.
Pensionado and rentista. Your first stop for smooth, professional service and a positive experience. Javier Zavaleta
Tel: (323) 255-6116

Legal services

Barrantes & Associates
Full Service Costa Rican law firm
 Since 1999 • English Spoken
My name is Giovanna Barrantes. I'm the managing director of Barrantes & Associates. We are a full service law firm located in San Jose Costa Rica. All our attorneys
Barrantes logo
are English speaking with experience in many areas of Costa Rica law.

Our firm specializes in the following areas: Real estate law, closings, due diligence, title search, banking, corporations, residency, immigration, civil law,
family law, criminal law. Please contact us today for a free consultation. References available upon request.
Lic Giovanna Barrantes, Barrantes & Associates
Office  011 506 2256-3807
Direct  011 506 8398-1203
Edificio Casa Canada, Anexo Uno, Paseo Colon. Subway 100 meters south/50 meters west.
Skype  CostaRicaLaw1

Burke Fiduciary, S.A.
Registered Escrow and Legal Services
Glenda Burke
Glenda Burke, LL.M
Thomas Burke
Thomas Burke, LL.M

Core services: real estate due diligence, real estate escrow services, residency status, business corporations, estate planning. English, Spanish, German and French spoken.

More about us at
Ph. 011 506 2267-6645 

The registration of Burke Fiduciary S.A., corporate ID 3-101-501917 with the  General Superintendence of Financial Entities (SUGEF) is not an authorization  to operate. The supervision of SUGEF refers to compliance with the capital legitimization requirements of Law No. 8204. SUGEF does not supervise the
business carried out by this company, nor its security, stability or solvency.
Persons contracting its services do so for their own account and at their own risk.

Attorneys & Notaries
 Tel.  2280-9692 / 2225-9322
       We offer the highest professional standards with very competitive rates. All our official documentation and Notary deeds are always translated in English for better comprehension, client satisfaction and safety.
consultoria logo
• Immigration Law.
• Real Estate Law.
• Corporations, Foundations
       and Associations. 
• Trademarks & Intellectual
• Notary public services
• Criminal Law
•Civil & Commercial 
Our Law Office is conveniently located near Mall San Pedro,  350 meters south from the Subaru dealer, Los Yoses, San José.

Lic.Gregory Kearney Lawson.
Attorneys at Law and real estate brokers
Relocation services, Wedding Planning
Greg Kearney
*Investments  *Corporations
*Tax Shelters *Immigration
*Real Estate Sales in Costa Rica
*Name & Product registration
*Business procedures 
*Family and Labor Law
*Locate People   *Private Investigations
Phone/Fax: 2290-8117, 8841-0007
New location on Rohrmoser Blvd.
 Phone: (506) 2232-1014
U.S. ship arrivals continue
to feed political debate

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Opposition political party members are sensitive to the arrival of U.S. warships, even when they are not U.S. warships.

The security minister held a press conference and issued a statement Wednesday after the Partido Acción Ciudadana complained in its own earlier press conference that U.S. military ships are docked without permission in Costa Rican ports.

The issue is a hot topic now being promoted by Prensa Latina, the Cuban news service, and leftist politicians. The actions seem to be an effort to reduce the joint action between the United States and Costa Rica in interdicting illegal drug shipments.

The minister, José María Tijerino Pacheco, said that two supposed warships that docked in Costa Rica between August and October were not military vessels. One was the "Clipper Oceania," which is a Bahama-flagged tanker and the other is a U.S. Coast Guard boat, the "USCGC Aspen" that services buoys and cleans up oil spills, he said. It docked in Golfito.

Tijerino added that the gun that Acción Ciudadana said the Coast Guard boat sported was really a crane for lifting bouys out of the sea for maintenance.

The issue is before the legislature now because the security ministry is seeking permission again for up to 46 U.S. military craft to visit Costa Rican ports for shore leave. Only about 20 percent of that number actually will make a call on Costa Rica, but officials have no way of knowing now which will, they said.

The legislature has to approve the arrival of foreign ships and has done so routinely every six months since 1999.

U.S. Ambassador Anne Andrew hosted 18 Costa Rican legislators aboard the USS Doyle last week to outline the Joint Maritime Agreement Against Illicit Trafficking between the two countries, the U.S. Embassy reported.

The approval for the coming six months is likely to be approved in the legislature despite opposition party resistance, but they also have appealed the measure to the Sala IV constitutional court.

Rains expected to endure
through next Tuesday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Despite the winds from the north the Central Valley has a 30 percent chance of rain from today through next Tuesday, according to the Weather Underground, a forecasting service of this newspaper.

The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional said that today will see a continuation of the pattern of moderate winds as well as low temperatures in the mountains.

The institute also predicted occasional rain in the central pacific and south Pacific as well as in the mountains of the northern zone and Caribbean.

The 1 a.m. temperature was 20 degrees C or 68F, considerably warmer than the last two nights.

Plunge on quadracycle
is fatal to U.S. tourist

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A quadracycle rider who was a U.S. tourist, died Tuesday night near Jacó when his machine plunged off a road into the ravine.

The man, identified as Jonathan Andrew Sharp is believed to have suffered a broken neck in the mishap. The quadracycle sustained little visible damage although rescue workers had to tow it up from the ravine.

The four-wheel-drive vehicles are frequently street legal and are used extensively in rural areas.  In the case of the Tuesday night accident, investigators speculated that the vehicle was going too fast to make a curve.

The man was driving at night on an errand.

Our readers' opinion
Colon-dollar exchange rate
keeps this tourist away

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I see in today's A.M. Costa Rica that the dollar has again fallen below 500 colons.

I noted also that there is a story projecting, as usual, improved tourism visitation, but detailing how poorly the tourism industry performed in the past year.

I was about to purchase my tickets and book my hotel rooms for one of my usual quarterly two-week visits to Costa Rica, but after seeing the current exchange rates, I believe I will take my January vacation in Panamá instead.

I've seen a steady decline in the value of my tourist dollars in Costa Rica in the past couple of years.  Yes, I know, the dollar has struggled elsewhere also. But it seems that in Costa Rica there are these volatile changes that aren't fully explainable, except perhaps as greed by Costa Rican banks and financial regulators.

I do love Costa Rica and have many Tico friends and acquaintances. But Costa Rica isn't the bargain that it once was as a tourist destination.  Besides the devastating impact of the global recession in the past 18 or 20 months, the devaluation of the dollar in Costa Rica is probably another significant factor in why fewer North American tourists are visiting the land of Pura Vida.  More and more, Costa Rica is becoming the land of "Pura Greed-a."

Terrell Hinton
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Great irony follows talks
about global climate change

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am an off-and-on reader. Maybe I missed a comment or there was none on what happened in Cancún.

Well, nothing to write home about but we received another glimpse of the irony of the subject matter, of our moment in time.

With "climate-gate" duly forgotten 15,000 lucky bastards from 196 countries convened as delegates (I love that word... like they "convened in the cafeteria of Sing-Sing") and had a free luxury vacation with their wives in the Moon Hotel on the Mexican Caribbean while the entire event cost the taxpayer about 50 million USD. Meanwhile drunk on disinformation and free champagne, they produced an estimated 25,000 tons of CO2 and produced a humongous amount of garbage, which — green as the Mexicans are — was going to be recycled and therefore transported to Mexico City, about 1,200 km away.

The outcome of this bla-bla event was that they decided upon decisions to be made in 2011 in Durban though everyone — unisono — was brainwashed enough to agree that climate change was not caused by the workings of the universe but an act of "Us, the People."

Okay, now to the irony: After earlier global warming having mutated to global climate change many radical scenarios were hyped-up in the MSM suggesting exorbitant rising of the sea-level, methane disasters... Mexico had the coldest registered temperatures in a hundred years.

Axel Marquardt
San Jose

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

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

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

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

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him HERE!

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

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 248
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Fishing boats are tied up
at a private dock in Puntarenas, a situation
that raises the suspicions
 of environmentalists.

fishing boats at private dock
Programa para Restauración de las Tortugas Marinas photo via YouTube

Environmentalists concerned by apparent fishing violation
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Environmentalists trying to enforce a commercial fishing regulation thought they had a deal.

The Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura and the Ministerio de Agricultura y Gandería said that by Dec. 1 every commercial fishing boat would have to unload its catch at the public docks in Barrio El Carmen, Puntarenas. The purpose of the agreement was to conform to a law that provides public oversight to fishing operations.

So what are two boats doing tied up at a private dock in Puntarenas, asked the Programa para Restauración de las Tortugas Marinas, the environmental group that also has an interest in sharks.

The organization reported Wednesday that two Belize-registered boats, the Yu Long 35 and the Hung Chi Fu 27 are unloading some 55 tons of shark at the private
Mariscos Wang facility. The organization has photos and posted a YouTube video based on a visit to the Pacific port Monday.
The environmental group said it was told that the port captain never got the message not to permit fishing boats to tie up at private docks. In addition the fisheries institute said that because the boats were not actually unloading their catch there was nothing illegal taking place, said the organization.

Randall Arauz of the environmental organization accused the fisheries institute and the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes of evading the law as they have done since 1998.

The fisheries law is designed to make sure that boat captains comply with the many laws relating to their activities. Among other problems on the high seas is that of shark finning in which sharks are caught and their fins are cut off. The fins are a premium product in Asia. Than the sharks are just dumped back into the sea to die.

This has been a continuing problem, and the Costa Rican regulation is that a shark must be unloaded with fin attached.  In some cases, fishermen tie a shark fin to a carcass to comply with the regulation.

Arrest in tire-puncturing case serves to remind tourists
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tourists continue to be easy picking for crooks who take advantage of flat tires on rental vehicles.

The Judicial Investigating Organization made an arrest Wednesday, but the threat for tourists leaving Juan Santamaría airport in Alajuela and Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia is continual. Such crimes have been reported for at least 10 years.

The crime requires an insider at a rental car company. The individual uses an ice pick or other sharp object to puncture the tire of a vehicle that soon will be on the road. The trick is not confined to rental agencies. Some service station attendants have been found doing the same thing in all parts of the country.

The idea is to cause the tire to deflate slowly so that when it goes flat, the occupants are stuck in a spot where they are easy prey.

Sometimes this in the Autopista General Cañas between Juan Santamaría and downtown San José. The stranded
 tourists are approached by motorists who want to help. When the help is accepted, the good samaritans grab luggage and other valuables from the car, frequently without the knowledge of the tourists who are preoccupied with the flat tire.

Alternately, the good samaritans may pull a gun and strip the victims of all they have.

Even long-time expat residents have been victimized even as they knew what was going on. Somehow the crooks managed to steal items from one car even though the expats did not see anyone approach it.

In one incident, an armed expat waved his revolver at the approaching samaritans, who then quickly drove off.

The man detained in a raid Wednesday is a Colombian, but many nationalities have been involved in such crimes.

Judicial police usually advise expats to drive on the deflated tire until they reach a safe location even if doing so means the tire is destroyed. Some frequent visitors make detailed checks of their tires before leaving the rental car yard.

Del Rey accommodations

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 248

Defensoría fielded more than 20,000 complaints in 2010

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Ricans, who have a reputation for suffering silently, really do complain. The Defensoría de los Habitantes said that it received more than 20,000 complaints over the quality of public services in 2010.

The most complaints were about public transportation, the condition of buses, the location of bus stops and rates.

There also were complaints about problems women faced in the health system, including long waits for mammograms and delays in treatment. There also were complaints about the lack of specialists in public hospitals. This problem is more acute in areas outside the Central Valley.

The Defensoría actively seeks out citizen complaints with outreaches and six regional offices. The agency expects to see 21,000 complaints by the end of the year. That's about 1,200 more than in 2009.

The Defensoría, which is considered the nation's
 ombudsman, has only the power of persuasion to effect changes.

Among other current problems is that of sexual harassment in the workplace of public institutions, it said Wednesday.  There have been 130 complaints this year, 19 more than in 2009, the agency said.

The agency handles a wide variety of complaints and raises some issues on its own initiative. For example, Wednesday Ofelia Taitelbaum, the defensora de los habitantes, urged horse owners to keep ill animals out of the various horse parades that take place around the beginning of the year.

There is such an event, called the Tope Nacional, in San José Dec. 26. The Festival de Palmares hosts another several weeks later.

The concern is equine infectious anemia, which is spread by mosquitoes and other biting insects. The disease is incurable and can lead to weakness and death in horses and similar animals.

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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 248

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U.S. is wary of proposal
to give Chávez decree power

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. State Department said Wednesday Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is subverting the will of the country's electorate by seeking emergency powers in advance of the seating of a new legislature next month. The current congress, filled with pro-Chávez members, is expected to approve rule-by-decree by the end of the week.

The State Department has joined opposition figures in Venezuela in criticizing the move by Chávez supporters to grant him emergency powers before a new congress, with more opposition members, is seated on Jan. 5.

The current congress, with an overwhelming majority of pro-Chávez members, voted Tuesday to grant him special powers to enact laws by decree for the next year. The national assembly is expected to give final approval to the measure by the end of the week.

Chavez critics say the action, which would be the fourth time in 12 years the populist president has been given temporary decree powers, is a clear effort to sideline the next congress, which will have enough opposition members to block such action.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the action is contrary to the Inter-American Democratic Charter to which Venezuela is a signatory.

"He seems to be finding new and creative ways to justify autocratic powers," said Crowley of Chávez. "What he is doing here, we believe, is subverting the will of the Venezuelan  people. As the Inter-American Democratic Charter underscores, the separation of powers and the independence of the branches of government are an essential element of the representative democracy. An independent legislature has an essential role to play in the political system in order to meet the principles laid out in this charter."

In the September elections, the opposition drew about half the total vote and won more than one-third of the seats in the new congress, enough to deny Chávez the two-thirds majority needed to approve some laws, including decree powers.

Crowley said the successful elections, which drew millions of people to the polls, allowed Venezuelans to send "a clear message" to the Chavez government.

He said the new legislature should have the ability to contribute to the country's political process.

Hundreds of Chávez opponents demonstrated outside the legislature Tuesday, objecting to planned decrees they said could impose restrictions on the Internet and endanger Globovision, the country's last opposition television channel.

Chávez loyalists say he will use new decree powers to boost infrastructure projects and help the country recover from recent floods and mudslides that have left thousands homeless.

Chávez says all action contemplated will be within the framework of the Venezuelan constitution. He used past decree powers to nationalize privately-run oil fields, utilities and telecommunications companies.

U.S. Senate passes plan
to stimulate economy

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved a sweeping federal tax bill that will swell America's national debt by hundreds of billions of dollars and, it is hoped, stimulate a lagging U.S. economy. Attention now shifts to the House of Representatives, where some Democrats want to alter the tax deal struck between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate voted 81 to 19 to extend existing federal tax rates for all income levels. Those tax rates are set to rise beginning next year — an outcome neither party wants at a time of chronic economic weakness. The bill also extends federal jobless benefits, limits inheritance taxes on multi-million-dollar estates, and trims worker payroll contributions to Social Security. The bill would increase spending and shrink revenue, sharply boosting federal indebtedness over the next two years.

A common refrain from liberal and conservative senators alike: The tax deal is flawed, but better than doing nothing.
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San José, Costa Rica, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010, Vol. 10, No. 248

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Southern Cmmand headquarters
U.S. Southern Command photo
Facade of new headquarters building

U.S. southern Command set
inauguration of headquarters

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Southern Command is about to inaugurate its $405 million, 630,425-square foot headquarters building in Florida.

The command identifies itself as one of six Defense Department geographic unified operations centers and is responsible for U.S. military operations, cooperation and partnership-building in a region that includes 31 countries and 10 territories in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

The inauguration will be Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the City of Doral, Dade County. Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, the commander, will preside, command said. The ceremony will feature a flyover by F-16s from the nearby Homestead Air Reserve Base, the command said.

Military craft that come to Costa Rica on humanitarian missions, like the USS Iwo Jima are within the Southern Command, as are military boats on drug patrol in the Pacific and Caribbean.

The new building, started in June 2008, will house 2,800 persons and 13 identified agencies.

Big Christmas party today
for 400 youngsters in Pavas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia will celebrate Christmas today with 400 youngsters in Pavas in the facilities of the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral.

The celebration organized by the child welfare agency is part of the Red contra la violencia de Pavas in which 25 public and private institutions are participating. The event begins at 9 a.m. and runs until noon.

Organizers promise dancing, music and presents for youngsters who attend.

Pavas is heavily populated and parts are decidedly low-income. Some areas are controlled by gangs. Some young criminals live there but victimize persons elsewhere.

The event today for those 18 and under is an effort to keep youngsters from adopting a life of crime or violence.

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