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(506) 2223-1327                               Published Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Vol. 16, No. 251                              Email us
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Expats wonder if they should pay the marchamo
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Dec. 31 is the deadline for paying the annual marchamo or road tax without penalty.

The situation is confusing this year because a group of lawmakers, headed by Otto Guevara of Movimiento Libertario, has filed a Sala IV constitutional court appeal seeking to suspend the collection of the annual fees.

The appeal, filed Thursday, centers on the way in which the road taxes have been calculated by the government.

Some motorists have seen a major increase. As a result, some expats are wondering whether they should pay the requested amount. They figure that if the Sala IV orders new calculations they may never see a refund if they pay now.

Their concern is well founded on the difficulty of getting refunds and payments from government agencies.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros, banks and insurance agencies are collecting the annual fees.

A parallel might be seen in the January court decision that ruled the corporation tax unconstitutional.

The Sala IV in that case said that the tax for 2015 should be paid even though it is unconstitutional.

The court frequently steps into the area of informal legislation and well outside purely judicial actions.

Failing to pay is expensive and generates fines of 10 percent a month up to 100 percent, plus additional fines and interest.

Then there is the fine if a traffic officer catches a motorist driving a vehicle with an expired marchamo. More information on the marchamo can be found HERE!

Atenas market
A.M. Costa Rica/Thomas Ropp
The Atenas feria in full swing Friday morning.
New facility is big boost for Atenas farmers market
By Thomas Ropp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The voices tell the story.

On a typical Friday morning at the Atenas farmers market you will hear a conglomerate of languages, everything from Spanish to Mandarin as well as English, French and German.

After 19 years, the outdoor market continues to attract expats, tourists and residents. On Aug. 28, 2014, the Feria del Agricultor as it is known, significantly upgraded from the cracked and uneven sidewalks bordering the elementary school in central Atenas to a modern, spacious pavilion up on a hill overlooking the radial road that connects Highway 27 to Atenas.

“The facilities here are incredible,” said Bernal González, a frequent feria visitor and resident of Atenas.

González and his wife, Dayán Bertarioni, were at the market with their daughters Tamara and Samantha. The family especially likes the quality and prices of the feria’s fruits and vegetables. On this morning they were leaving with a beautiful red-flowered mata plant chosen by 6-year-old Tamara.

The 54,000 square foot facility with its weatherproof red tile roof and cement floor accommodates 80 vendors. The pavilion sits on about five mostly paved acres with parking for 300 vehicles.

Feria official Alonso Alvarado Méndez said since moving, market vendors are collectively pulling in around $30,000 per market day.

One vendor who really appreciates the modern pavilion is Atenas resident Rodríguez Chavarría. He and his wife, Isabel Alfredo, have sold their watermelons, melons and mangos at the feria since it began. Chavarría said he makes about $100 more per day at the new location.

On this morning his fruit stand was swamped with buyers eyeing over his ruby red freshly cut watermelons selling for only 600 colons per kilo.

A.M. Costa Rica/Thomas Ropp
Rodríguez Chavarría and his wife, Isabel Alfredo, have been with the feria 19 years.

The Atenas feria offers the usual farmers market products: fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, desserts, plants and gifts. But you can also find some unexpected items.

Like Tupperware.

Atenas vendor Rosario Vargas Ulate has been selling her plastic containers at the feria for two months and is pleased with the sales.

“December has been a very good month for me,” said Ms. Ulate who notes that local Ticos tend to buy more Tupperware than other groups.

The feria also has a large, clean soda with excellent coffee and ample room to enjoy breakfast or a midmorning snack.

The bathrooms are also very nice.

The cost to move the feria to its new, modern facilities was about $640,000 and funded by the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia, the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social and the Centro Agrícola Cantonal de Atenas.

Normally the market opens at 6 a.m. on Fridays. However, due to the holidays, the next two ferias will be held this Wednesday and Dec. 30.

For more information readers can call the Centro Agricola Cantonal de Atenas secretary Karen Mata at 2446-9033 or email

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A.M. Costa Rica's 
Second news page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 251
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Professional Directory
A.M. Costa Rica's professional directory is where business people who wish to reach the English-speaking community may invite responses. If you are interested in being represented here, please contact the editor.


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Costa Rica freezes Cuban migrant influx

By the A.M. Cuba staff*

Costa Rica has closed its southern border to Cuban migrants after a failure Friday to develop what the foreign minister called an integrated regional solution to the situation.

The foreign minister, Manuel González, and President Luis Guillermo Solís returned unhappy from a regional meeting in El Salvador Friday afternoon.

At a press conference Friday evening, González recounted the history of the government involvement in the Cuban migration. That started when investigators broke up a human trafficking ring composed of Costa Ricans Nov. 10.

With the trafficking network rolled up, Cubans began to gather at the southern border, and Costa Rica agreed to provide them with seven-day visas.

When Nicaragua quickly closed its border to the migrants, the Cubans were trapped in Costa Rica.

Since then, what is now estimated to be about 6,000 migrants have been in the care of the government. Most of the migrants are in temporary government shelters near the Nicaraguan border.

Solís and González returned to Costa Rica unhappy because countries involved in the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana declined to address the problem at a meeting of heads of state.

Solís said that he insisted at the summit meeting of Central American presidents that a humanitarian accord be found for the migrants. Because the proposal was not accepted he said both he and González left the meeting.

Sources in El Salvador said that Costa Rica was pulling out of the organization in protest.

Casa Presidencial explained later that the withdrawal only involved the political aspects of the regional organization and not the commercial, economic or technical.

Casa Presidencial quoted Solís as saying he urged Cubans to decline to try to enter Costa Rica, and any that do illegally will be deported immediately back to Cuba.

González pointed out that Guatemala and Belize already declined to participate in an air bridge to bring the migrants closer to the destination in the United States where they would benefit form a special 1966 Cold War-era immigration law.

Cuban officials are asking the United States to change the law that provides residency to fleeing Cubans.

The number of Cubans in Panamá at Costa Rica's southern border is believed to be much fewer since Ecuador instituted visa requirements for the island residents. The migrants flew to Ecuador to begin their overland trek that has now ended up in Costa Rica.

Another meeting of technicians of the regional is scheduled for today.

*This article first appeared in A.M. Cuba Friday evening.

Offshore quakes report near Jacó, Quepos

‎By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A 4.4-magnitude quake took place off Jacó at 6:49 p.m. Sunday, said the Red Sismológica Nacional. There also was a 4.3 quake in the same area at 11:31 p.m. and a smaller 2.5-magnitude aftershock there at 1:01 a.m. today.

The Laboratorio de Ingeniería Sísmica at the Universidad de Costa Rica estimated the 6:49 p.m. quake at 4.2 magnitude.

The locations were some 14 to 20 kilometers southwest of Jacó in the open ocean. That area contains local faults and also is subject to subduction quakes.

There also was a 4.6-magnitude quake at 9:20 p.m. 78 kilometers south of Quepos, also in the open ocean, said the Red Sismológica Nacional.

Money approved to move Canal 13 tower

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The legislature has passed a budget adjustment that contains a provision for the state radio and television system to move its transmission tower.

The tower is in jeopardy from a landslide and possible future activity by the Volcán Irazú, which is east of the central canton of San José.

The state system is the Sistema Nacional de Radio y Televisión, which issued an unusually candid appeal last week. It said that unless the transmission tower money were approved, it would be off the air for a year.

In addition, the system said it did not have the funds to pay salaries or the mandatory Christmas bonus.

The transmission tower handles the signals of both Canal 13 and Radio Nacional.

Moving the transmitter was recommended by the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias after an Irazú landslide a year ago. A number of other firms already have moved their transmitters, including Radio Partes S.A., Canal 23, Radio Rumbo, Sinfonola, Prisa Radio, Extra TV, Radio Columbia, Faro del Caribe and Canal 50, said the system.

Radio Nacional broadcasts on 101.5 FM.

Costa Rica in accord with Pope Francis

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials said they appreciated a comment by Pope Francis Sunday in which the head of the Roman Catholic Church spoke of efforts to repair strained relations between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, in light of an International Court of Justice decision Wednesday.

Vatican Radio quoted the pope as saying  “I hope that a renewed spirit of fraternity will further strengthen the dialogue and mutual cooperation,” between the two countries and throughout the whole region.

The pope spoke to those gathered beneath the window of the papal apartments in Vatican City.

Vatican Radio said he appealed for peace in Syria, calling on the international community to realize in concrete action the endorsement of a U.N.-sponsored roadmap toward peace in the war-torn nation. He also expressed hope for a national unity government in Libya, said the Vatican.

Casa Presidencial quickly issued a two-paragraph statement echoing the pope's sentiments on relations with Nicaragua.

News for the Spanish-language press
Translated into English

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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page

Don't miss our restaurant specials HERE!
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 251
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Slight jump in the value of U.S. dollar captures attention of expats
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats and others who receive their income in U.S. dollars will be focusing on the daily money market today.

The price of the U.S. dollar jumped two colons Saturday, in part because of the announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve that the prime rate would go up a quarter of a point.

The decision Wednesday caused some impact all over the world.

The Fed cut the rates to a record low range between zero and a quarter of a percent during the 2008 financial crisis in a bid to
support economic growth, according to wire service reports.

Many expats and importers have been unhappy for the last

 year because the colon has been held at an artificially low rate while the dollar has increased against other world currencies.

The Sunday quote at the Banco Central de Costa Rica was 528 colons to sell dollars and 540 colons to buy.

That was two colons higher than Friday.

In March 2014 the exchange rate was 557.62/572.44

Costa Rica has benefited from a cheap dollar because nearly all its international debts are denominated in the U.S. currency.

The public has been barred from the Monex daily money market where dollars are bought and sold. Only banks are able to participate now.

Two lawyers sentenced to prison terms in separate cases
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thursday was a bad day for two lawyers.

In the Tribunal Penal de Pérez Zeledón Thursday one lawyer got seven years and six months for illegally exercising the profession while he was suspended from the Colegio de Abogados.

In the I Circuito Judicial Tribunal Penal de San José another lawyer got 10 years for attempting to introduce cocaine into the San Sebastián lockup.

The case in Pérez Zeledón involved Edgar Prendas Matarrita, who had been suspended by the colegio. He also was charged with fraud and falsification of documents.

He was accused of working as a lawyer from 2010 to 2013 while suspended.

In San José, the accused was Willy Ruíz González, the former president of the Asociación de Estudiantes de Derecho of the Universidad de Costa Rica, said the Poder Judicial.

The allegation was that July 10 a prison guard spotted Ruiz  attempting to give a jailed client a small package that contained cocaine.

The Poder Judicial said that the lawyer represented the prisoner in court and the meeting was a routine one.

Both lawyers were ordered to be jailed for preventative detention while the sentences are reviewed.

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2015 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
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A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 251
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Researcher finds that coffee rivals caffeine in improving endurance
By the University of Georgia news staff

The caffeine in a morning cup of coffee could help improve athletic endurance, according to a new University of Georgia review study. Authored by Simon Higgins, a third-year doctoral student in kinesiology in the College of Education, the study was published in this month's issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

To research the issue, Higgins reviewed more than 600 scholarly articles and screened them for those that focused only on caffeinated-coffee conditions, measured the caffeine dose and measured an endurance performance. Of these, nine randomized control trials specifically used coffee to improve endurance.

"Previous research has focused on caffeine itself as an aid to improve endurance," Higgins said. "Coffee is a popular source of caffeine, so this paper looked at the research surrounding its ergogenic benefits."

Looking at the nine trials, Higgins found that between 3 and 7 milligrams per kilogram of body weight of caffeine from coffee increased endurance performance by an average of  24 percent. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary from 75 mg to more than 150, depending on the variety and how it's roasted and brewed.

"This is helpful for athletes because coffee is a naturally occurring compound," Higgins said. "There's the potential that getting your caffeine by drinking coffee has similar endurance benefits as taking caffeine pills."

In the nine trials, participants either cycled or ran after

drinking coffee. They then exercised vigorously and the results were measured. In a majority of cases, endurance was noticeably improved after the use of coffee.

When researching the effects of caffeine from coffee, Higgins found two important discoveries: that caffeine from coffee has ergogenic benefits, that it enhances physical performance, and that more research is needed on the use of caffeine from coffee versus pure caffeine use.

"While there is a lack of high-quality research on coffee as a source of caffeine, there is an abundance of research on pure caffeine," he said. "It's surprising how little we know about caffeine from coffee when its endurance effects could be just as beneficial as pure caffeine."

Higgins said that coffee shouldn't be dismissed as less beneficial for endurance. He found that coffee appears to be just as helpful as taking caffeine in the form of powder or tablets.

"There's a perception that coffee won't give you the same benefits as pure caffeine," he said. "New research could mean that athletes could have a cup of coffee versus taking a pill."

Higgins says that more research is needed before giving official recommendations to athletes, especially since the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary depending on how it's prepared.

"There is a caveat to athletes using coffee: Be careful because you don't know how much caffeine is in some coffee, especially when it's prepared by someone else," he said. "Athletes should run their caffeine use through their sports dietician as the NCAA lists it as a banned substance."

Vacation, travel and hospitality

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Click photo for another video

The Relocation/Retirement tour with the

 (as reported by the moving companies)
Visit many rental options to actually experience the price/amenity options available in more of the areas chosen by Expats for security, comfort, and quality of life.

Meet many Expats who are willing to share their experiences and how the tour has value long after the “lust” wears off.
See how to choose a Retirement tour video by past guest!

Ask the others what you get for your money, and then compare the quality of accommodations, quality, quantity and variety of food and drink to measure the best value for your money. 

Learn how others “talk the talk” and learn who really can “walk the walk”

Please visit my Web site  to contact my references.
George Lundquist, retirement, relocation columnist, Guide & Developer/Builder.


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hotels, restaurants, casinos, city government, national registry. $600-$650 per month plus electricity. ½ month security deposit. No lease.  The larger apartments are $650 per month. They have larger bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens. It would be best for the prospective tenants to visit
Barrio Amon
the building to see the apartments.   For more information contact:  or call Hilda at 2221-7161.

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A.M. Costa Rica's  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 251
Real Estate
About us

Iran unhappy with visa law
and plans an official protest

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Iran is complaining that new U.S. travel restrictions on four countries, including Iran, violate the nuclear deal with six world powers.

"This law certainly affects economic, tourist, scientific and cultural exchanges with Iran, and it contravenes the nuclear deal," deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi said Sunday.

The restrictions are part of the new federal spending bill President Barack Obama signed Friday.

Visitors from 38 countries whose citizens do not need visas to come to the United States will now have to get one if they are also duel citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan, four nations the U.S. says are known to have sponsored terrorism. They will also need visas if they have traveled to those countries in the past five years.

Araghchi said Iran plans to take up the matter with the commission overseeing implementation of the nuclear agreement.

Under the deal restricting Iranian nuclear activity, the United States is not to interfere with any trade or economic activity that could lead to normalized relations with Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a letter to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that the United States will fully adhere to its commitments under the nuclear deal.

He also reminded Zarif that the White House has the authority to waive provisions of the new visa law.

Obama outlines his plans
for the final year in office

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

President Barack Obama laid the groundwork Friday for his last year in office, vowing not to fade into the background but instead to leave it all out on the field in 2016.

During a wide-ranging year-end news conference, Obama touted big wins for his administration, citing job growth, diplomacy with Iran and Cuba, the passage of significant climate and Asia-Pacific trade deals, a Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage and a congressional rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law.

He also noted that nearly 6 million people have been able to sign up for coverage under his health care law so far this year.

However, the president also said several challenges remained, the main one being the growing threat of the Islamic State group and the possibility of lone-wolf terror attacks at home, like the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.

Obama stressed the need to remain vigilant in the United States even as his administration works with the international community to squeeze the Islamic State.

"Squeezing ISIL's heart, its core in Syria and Iraq, will make it harder for them to pump their terror and propaganda to the rest of the world," Obama said, using an acronym for the militant Islamist group.

“Now, they are going to continue to be dangerous,” he added.  "All of us can do our part by staying vigilant, by saying something if we see something that is suspicious, by refusing to be terrorized and by staying united as one American family."

But analyst Anthony Cordesman with the Central for Strategic & International Studies does not foresee improvement in 2016.

“We’re talking about a series of wars and violent movements throughout much of the Islamic world. Even if we could defeat ISIS tomorrow, by all the stats we have on terrorism, at least two-thirds of that volume of terrorism would go on because it’s driven by other movements,” he said, using another Islamic State acronym.

Amid widespread fears about terrorism and extremists, Obama pushed back against critics questioning his strategy for overcoming the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. "There's only so much bombing you can do," he said.

However, he said, "We're going to defeat ISIS, and we're going to do so by systematically squeezing them, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing, taking out their leadership, taking out their forces, taking out their infrastructure."

Thursday, U.S. lawmakers criticized the visa review process for people seeking to enter the United States.

Obama said Friday that law enforcement and intelligence officials were looking for ways to better monitor the public communication of suspected terrorists. He said he thought the U.S. had struck the right balance in protecting civil liberties while ensuring Americans' safety.

But he also warned that there were limits to what law enforcement could do.

No government is going to have the ability to "read every person's text or email or social media, if it's not posted publicly," Obama said.

Regarding the Syrian conflict, Obama said President Bashar al-Assad "is going to have to leave in order for the country to stop the bloodletting and for all the parties involved to be able to move forward in a nonsectarian way."

"He has lost legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of the country," the president said of Assad.

Obama reaffirmed his determination to work with Congress to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

"Guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruitment," Obama said, leaving the door open to closing the military prison by decree as a last resort.

He said the center's population would be below 100 by early next year.

The end of 2015 will mark a major transition point for Obama, who has one year left to try to complete any unfinished projects.

With America facing a general election in 2016, in which candidates are elected in all or most constituencies of a nation or state, Obama is unlikely to roll out any sweeping new policy proposals.

Earlier Friday, Obama pardoned two people and commuted the sentences of 95 others in an end of year act of executive power, the White House announced.

Almost all of those receiving commuted sentences were nonviolent drug offenders. Many were convicted of distributing or possessing cocaine or crack-cocaine.

The commutations, the most Obama has issued at one time, aim to build momentum for the president's broader push on criminal justice reform.

The White House has been working with lawmakers from both parties in an effort to overhaul U.S. sentencing.

Some 14 of Obama's nominations for top foreign policy posts and ambassadorships were left on the cutting room floor when the Senate failed to vote on them before closing its business for the year.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who is running for the GOP presidential nomination, has placed a blanket hold on all Obama political appointees to the State Department over what he called the catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.

Friday's inaction means Obama will have to resubmit the nominations after the first of the year.

Democratic candidates agree
on economy and Islamic State

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Democratic presidential candidates said in their final debate of the year Saturday they are focused on the U.S. economy and defeating the Islamic State group as their top priorities.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said the United States cannot be thought of as the police of the world and that the fight against Islamic State needs a coalition that includes Russia and Muslim troops from the region. 

“My plan is to make it work, to tell Saudi Arabia that instead of going to war in Yemen, they, one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, are going to have to go to war against ISIS.  To tell Qatar that instead of spending $200 billion on the World Cup maybe they should pay attention to ISIS, which is at their doorstep.”

Former secretary of State Hillary Clinton also supports a coalition effort, and said there is a need for support from Sunni and Kurdish forces.  She said it would be a strategic mistake to send U.S. ground troops back to the region, as "that's exactly what the militants want to see."

The third candidate, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, highlighted the need to form new alliances for modern threats, and pointed to the work the African Union has done in Somalia.

Mrs. Clinton, a frequent target of attacks by Republicans in their debates, called Republican front-runner Donald Trump the best recruiter for the Islamic State group.  She said responding to terror threats with bigotry is not in the country's best interest.  She said it is important to make sure Muslims do not feel marginalized at a time when the U.S. needs them most and invoked the lessons learned in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

“One of the best things that was done, and George W. Bush did this and I give him credit, was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say we’re in this together, you are not our adversary, you are our partners.  And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears."

She also said there is a need for increased vetting of refugees seeking to enter the United States, while O'Malley said if the refugee crisis gets worse, the United States should be accepting even more.

Both Sanders and O'Malley advocated breaking up the nation's largest banks, saying they play a negative role in the nation's economy.  Sanders, who prides himself on raising money from individuals instead of large corporate entities, said there is a need to deal with the "recklessness and illegal behavior" on Wall Street and to raise the country's minimum wage.

Mrs. Clinton, too, said wages need to rise and that people need to feel like their hard work is being rewarded instead of feeling like the economic system is rigged.  She also said she wants to build on the success of President Barack Obama's healthcare initiative, but that there is not enough competition or oversight of health insurance companies, and costs have gone up too much.

Sanders advocated a universal healthcare system, citing higher per-person costs than places like Britain and France. He also accused drug companies of bribing Congress.

The issue of gun control brought passionate responses from all three candidates, with O'Malley attacking Sanders' record and branding Mrs. Clinton as inconsistent in her views.

Mrs. Clinton said she agrees on the need for common sense gun measures, and that Republicans will not admit a problem even exists.  Sanders said nothing will be accomplished unless there is a consensus, and that he has stood up to the pro-gun lobby.

Sanders was asked first to address the breach of a key Clinton voter database by a member of his staff, and apologized to her.  She accepted the apology and said it was important to move forward.  O'Malley, too, said there are bigger issues and the related bickering is the kind of distraction that plagues government.

Late Friday, Sanders filed a federal lawsuit aimed at forcing the Democratic National Committee to restore its voter database access, which the committee had suspended after Sanders' workers improperly viewed proprietary information belonging to the Clinton campaign.  As the feud erupted, the Sanders' camp acknowledged the breach and called its campaign staffer's role in it unacceptable.  The staffer was later fired.

Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said the Sanders campaign had conducted 25 searches of proprietary information in a 50-state data base, after a committee digital firewall separating Clinton and Sanders accounts was breached.  He also accused the Sanders staff of saving the Clinton data.

However, the Democratic National Committee later agreed to restore Sanders' access to his campaign's data, after it said the Sanders camp had provided an accounting of how the Clinton information was used and whether it was disposed of.

The squabble thrust into the open long-standing suspicions expressed by Sanders and his supporters that the national party is unfairly working to support Mrs. Clinton's candidacy.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver pointed to the party's limited number of debates at low-viewership periods, like Saturday nights, as another example.

With just six weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the first voting in the presidential candidate selection process, analysts largely agree that Sanders, who trails Mrs. Clinton by nearly 20 percentage points in voter surveys, must find ways to highlight his goals. But he must do so without antagonizing supporters of Mrs. Clinton, who is deeply popular across wide sectors of her party.

Ahead of the debate in the northeastern state of New Hampshire, national polls indicate Mrs. Clinton leads Sanders by more than 20 points, with a slightly smaller margin in Iowa where voters will first have their say in the race Feb. 1.  Sanders had a small lead in polls in New Hampshire, which votes Feb. 9.  O'Malley has single-digit support in all of the polls.

Sanders most likely needs a win in both states to mount a serious challenge to Mrs. Clinton, who will be heavily favored in the next state contests in Nevada and South Carolina, and in a Super Tuesday round of voting in 11 states March 1.

Fact checkers cite errors
by Democratic candidates

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Political fact checkers are debunking some of the claims by the three 2016 Democratic presidential contenders at their latest debate.

The Washington Post, The New York Times, Politico and Politifact all said there is no evidence for the claim made Saturday by the party's frontrunner, former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that the Islamic State group is showing videos of the leading Republican candidate, billionaire real estate tycoon Donald Trump, "insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."

The Post said Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric has been referenced by Islamic State recruiters in social media, but analysts who monitor the jihadist group have not turned up any videos.

"She just made it up," Trump said of the Clinton claim on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Politico also disputed the claims by Mrs. Clinton that only 3 percent of her campaign donations have come from wealthy people "in the finance and investment world," saying the figure is about twice that, including money contributed directly to her campaign and an independent group supporting her bid to succeed President Barack Obama when he leaves office in January 2017.

Politico noted that one of Mrs. Clinton's Democratic opponents, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley, was wrong when he cited U.S. difficulties in Iraq and Syria, "where we've involved ourselves in toppling dictators without having any idea what comes next."

Politico said that "is certainly true in Iraq," after the fall of Saddam Hussein, but "quite the opposite in Syria," where President Bashar al-Assad remains in power in the midst of a years-long civil war defending his regime.

The Post questioned the claim by the third candidate seeking the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, that female workers in the United States are paid only 79 cents out of $1 compared to men.

The newspaper said the 21-cent gap is accurate when compared on an annual basis, but that it is less than that when comparing weekly or hourly wages, and comparisons made more difficult by life choices men and women make in the United States, such as women tending to leave the work force when they have children.

U.S. political surveys show Mrs. Clinton, Obama's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013, with a commanding lead in the race for the Democratic nomination.

The surveys show Trump is outdistancing a large field of Republican candidates, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida his closest competitors.

Spain's conservatives win
but fail to achieve majority

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Spain's ruling conservative party won the most votes in Sunday's parliamentary polls, but a strong showing from two new opposition parties nonetheless threatens its grip on power.

With nearly all votes counted, the conservative Partido Popular of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was winning 121 seats in the 350-member parliament, a tally far below the 186 majority it now holds.  Rajoy's seeming natural ally, the new, business-friendly Ciudadanos party, was set to win 40.

The same tallies show a bloc of leftist parties, including Socialists, the anti-austerity Podemos party, a former Communist party and two smaller groupings would jointly hold 175 seats.

With several coalition scenarios possible, analysts say it may well take weeks or longer for negotiators to settle on what kind of alliance will rule Spain. 

But as the last votes were being tallied early Monday, it became increasingly clear that the days of Spain's traditional two-party dominance of political life is at least temporarily at an end.

"Spain has changed," jubilant senior Podemos leader Inigo Errejon told reporters.  "Many people have lost their confidence in traditional parties.  The two-party system has ended."

In pre-election surveys, Podemos was shown steadily gaining on the two major parties, providing evidence that the Spanish electorate had grown weary of traditional party rule.

Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Rajoy voted in a suburb of Madrid, telling reporters he was confident "people will choose what they think is best for their country."

Rajoy's conservatives are seeking a second term, after a landslide win over the Socialists in 2011.

Voters in Slovenia veto
legalizing same-sex marriage

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Voters in Slovenia decided not to join many of their European Union partners Sunday by rejecting legalized gay marriage.

Sixty-three percent voted against in a referendum defining marriage as a union between two adults, not necessarily a man and woman. Thirty-six percent voted yes.

Slovenia's parliament approved a pro-gay marriage bill earlier this year but a group of conservatives gathered enough signatures to put the question to voters.
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Real estate for sale (paid category)

Playa Grande home
Big House for Sale in Playa Grande, Santa Cruz, Guanacaste
834.62 square meters property with 326 square meters
construction.Two-storey house with front porch, entry lobby, living room, dinning room, large kitchen, breakfast room, large cupboard, 3 ½ bathrooms, 3 large bedrooms. The main bedroom includes jacuzzi and balcony. Playground, office, laundry area, garage for two cars, own and municipal potable water supply, electricity service, cable TV system, A/C. Located 700 meters from Las Colinas Golf Course, near the airport, Tamarindo Beach and the best beaches of the country. Excellent construction and great details. That wonderful large house price is $349,000.  But also you can get a  2,866.33-square meter building lot with three terraces  for $75,000 For more information, please contact us: Email Phone (506) 2653-6417 Cell (506) 8825-8942 / (506) 8916-0734

A beautiful American style suburban home just reduced.

A beautiful American style suburban home, 2,700 sq ft of living space with 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, front and rear living rooms, laundry area, kitchen and small attached library nook, arched windows and doors and connected hallways, exotic wood interior ceilings and trim, tile floors thru-out.  The lot is 835 m2 with mature landscape and orchid nurseries surrounding the house. There is an enclosed workshop and BBQ area in the back yard with lots of storage under roof, plus a nursery for an herb/vegetable garden.  This is a very well-kept property with many upgrades, a private feel but yet only 5 minutes from the center of town.  Pérez Zeledón is the commercial hub of the southern zone and considered to be one of the best places to live in all of Costa Rica, the perfect size town, not too big and not too small.  The beach is 45 minutes to the west and a short drive to the cool mountains is to the east. In between, this large valley has a moderate climate.  Pérez has plenty of modern goods and services, an excellent farmers market, private schools, private doctors and clinics, all you need without having to go to the crazy madness of San José.    Just reduced to $199,000.  Call  Jeff: 8824-8113 or 8725-8176.  Email:

Safe house
The Safest Place in The World
Residencial La Jolla, Asuncion de Belén
Casa 7 of 19 luxury homes in exclusive gated community.
3 bedroom, 3.5 baths, home office with private entrance.
332 m2 construction. 2-car garage. Central A/C
Lease $2,750 USD per month. Purchase $449,000.
Contact: Phone 8309-2000.

ocean-view home
Property size: 3,405.14 sq. mts. or 37,000 sq. ft.   Gorgeous house built 5 years ago to U.S. standards on 37,000 sq. ft. titled property. This home (240 sq. mtrs or 2,600 sq. ft) has 360-degree ocean and mountain views and electric gated private road access. The large open style home has soaring teak ceillings, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, custom cabinetry and ceramic tiles throughout and a double-car electric garage door. Their is also a beautiful, large swimming pool surrounded by exotic garden, laundry room and bodega. This is a very special and rare property because of the incredible view and excellent location. This one of a kind home and property is truly a must to see. all custom built furnitures included. Photo gallery:  CLICK HERE!  Please contact Jack, Cell phone number  (506) 8812-1789.  Contact email:


Caribbean paradise: CAHUITA

New home, beautiful well-built house 200 meters from a lovely beach. Very private, fully titled, excellent water well.  2 large bedrooms, 2 full baths, tub, large open floor plan 26-foot sliding glass doors open to covered porch. Encircling back yard are coral rocks 10 feet tall and behind jungle reserve. Lots of birds and wildlife. House 240 mts. sq, 2,400 sq ft. Lot 1,850 mts. or 19,000 sq. ft. Price $179,000. Very nice neighborhood. Contact 2755-0014 or   More photos HERE!

New Arenal

There are many good reasons for moving to or investing in Costa Rica

Are you worried about the safety of the money in your 401k?  Do you think your government has painted a bullseye on all of your assets?  Do you believe it might be time to consider moving some money overseas just in case?  This property, at a distress sales price of only $140,000, should gross a 7-10% return this year and the bookings for this season aren’t all in yet.  The best part from a buyer’s standpoint is that it is utilizing only a fraction of its potential.  What’s wrong here?  Divorce, and a lack of funds needed to make the necessary value-added improvements.  Rental manager says rents could double with moderate invesement, but the current owners are unable to resolve those problems, so selling is their only way out.  This extra-large lot with its modern 2-bedroom home was intended to service a dozen or more apartments to be built on the rear, a really great plan, but that was before the wheels came off of the marriage.  It is a really good investment property in a very desirable location, earning a much better safe return than stocks and bonds, but it is also perfect for buyers who only want to follow the original plan and live in the existing home while building out the rest for a comfortable retirement.  Perfect, too, for the person who intends to move to Costa Rica in the future and wants to buy at today’s prices, but needs a property which will carry itself until that time comes.  To find out more about this opportunity contact: or phone 506-8377-8402.

Grecia casa
Mountain home for sale
in Grecia.
Less than a year old. Owners are motivated.  All information regarding the home as well as many photos can be found at Mountain view home for sale Grecia, Costa Rica.   Contact email:

puriscal photo
Costa Rica home for sale $163,500 / 2bedroom - 1,984 ft2

Central Valley view home: 10 minutes from Santiago de Puriscal and shopping, hospital services, and soon Maxi Pali. Only one hour to San José or Pacific beaches.
- On .55-acre lot with river on one boundary
- Area under roof, 1,984 sq. ft., Area inside walls, 925 sq. ft. Steel, recycled
      Styrofoam, and concrete construction.
- 2 ½ years old with central living room and kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths,
       ceramic tile throughout.
- Central Valley volcano and SJO airport views from every room.
- Vaulted ceilings give bright open feeling.
- Entrance from concrete road to large graveled parking area
- VERY energy efficient with VERY low property taxes.
- Covered attached carport with entrance to front door or laundry-guest bath
- 2 carport storage bodegas.
- 12 foot x 14 foot storage bodega
- Security lights, And Amcrest day & night video recorder system.
- Producing banana trees, and mango, bread fruit, and guanabana trees

Includes: Refrigerator, gas stove & oven with electric grill element, microwave, electric washer-gas dryer stacked style, gas on demand whole house water heater. Other furnishings are negotiable. ICE electric service and land line phone. Bajo Burgos Water district. Metro-wireless WiFi is available. Tigo Star Satellite T.V. House is in a Costa Rican corporation, will transfer shares. Contract or call 506 2416-9324.  Additional photos are available on Flickr album

Goetl in Palo Seco

Charming small oceanfront hotel for sale in Playa Palo Seco
Ideal oceanfront location with back up to a mangrove estuary. The
charming small hotel has a fully equipped kitchen, bar and restaurant and is exceptionnally well maintained. Located on a very private beach of the central Pacific Coast of Costa Rica 35 minutes north of Quepos-Manuel Antonio and 45 minutes south of  Playa Jacó. The main building is a two-storey house with 12 bedrooms. The lot measures 3,054 M2. Beautiful gardens around the large pool and exceptional flora and fauna. Well mentioned in tourist guides like Lonely Planet and Guide Ulysse. Offered at $999,000. USD
or call (506) 8707-1037  (506) 2778-8408

For sale 5,200 m2 Escazú
Fantastic location for condo, hotel, restaurant.
Large lower lot, incredible views. Flexible zoning.
Easy to get liquor license. Low interest financing.
Toll free US phone 877-778-8515
In Costa Rica 8307-0164

Osa home
Costa Rica Tropical Paradise Beach House For Sale
Tropical 5-acre forested beachfront property with custom house and guest casita on the Osa Península, South Pacific Coast. Abundant wildlife, exotic plants and fruits, secluded beach.

Located 8 km south of Puerto Jiménez on the way to Matapalo and Corcovado National Park. Great Price $775,000. Contact:
Watch this video for full details.

private ranch home
Small private ranch for sale
This exceptional private ranch sits on a 9+ hectare lot and supports 15-20 horses. Only 2 hours south of San José, on the road to Puriscal. Roomy stalls all with drains, water hookup, lights and fans, grooming and shoeing área. Two-story house all furnished and cowboy house. Don't miss your chance on that turnkey operation.  Offered at $749,000.
E-mail:  or call (506) 8707-1037 
(506) 2778-8408 Web:

San Ramon
Mountain home w/million dollar view near San Ramón
Beautiful home in the mountains near San Ramón with 180-degree view of the gulf of Nicoya. 7 miles from San Ramón, 1 mile from Interamericana highway. 3,200 foot elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Price for sale $179,000    Contact Mike:   Check out slide show HERE!

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Business for sale or lease (paid category)
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 Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado S.A. 2015 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. 
Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

A.M. Costa Rica's
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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, Vol. 16, No. 251
Real Estate
About us

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
Patience is the key to compost success

Did you ever get pig-headed about something? (And don’t say, “no” because nobody is going to believe that.)

I have been very pig-headed about my compost. I always do what I
Victoria torley
always did, what I learned as a kid. All the grass clippings and leaves were raked into a big pile and covered or they were dumped in a barrel with kitchen waste and left to mature.

Once they were ready, they were used in the garden. So, that’s what has been done with my piles here, although I usually add cow
manure to the mix, and I thought my plants were doing well.

That’s what I thought until I saw my friend’s garden. She takes her kitchen waste and buries it directly in the garden soil or one of her fallow elevated beds where it is quickly worked on by worms, bugs, and beetles. Her soil is ready for planting long before I am ready to use my compost. Dang, I have to change my ways.

So that’s what I did this morning, I changed my ways. There was a big bag of veggie scraps in the refrigerator so I took them down and buried them in the garden beds. Unlike Shirley, though, I covered the bed with black plastic and weighted it down. This, I think, will hasten the composting process and make the soil available sooner, a good thing. With any luck, it will also inhibit weeds and their seeds, another good thing.

But what about those clippings and leaves? We still have to go through the process of mixing them with manure and letting them mature, for nothing else than to kill the weed seeds and soften the nutrient content of the manure. This is especially important now that I will be using horse manure instead of cow manure. The difference? Cows double chew the grass so the end product is a better quality. Ah well, patience is a virtue in a gardener.

But that gives rise to an impatient thought: Perhaps mixing the clippings with the manure then putting it directly on the garden beds and covering it all with black plastic would also work.

Anyway, I have given up my pig-headed idea that what I learned from mom had to be right. Now I think that Shirley has the right answer. Time will tell, but I wonder what else I was taught was wrong. Since this is the tropics and not New Jersey, I probably still have a lot of learning to do.

How about you?

plant of the week

Plant of the Week
First, many thanks to the people who wrote in to identify last week’s orchid. There are two names in contention (epidendrum eburneum and brassavola perrinii) and they are such similar orchids that it is hard to determine who is correct.

Here is a lovely little fairy lily (Zephyranthes) which grows from a bulb. The flower is about 25 centimeters (10 inches) tall and unscented but so far it has re-bloomed four or five times a year. Great for borders and full sun. Divide as necessary for more blossoms.

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