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Cocal for Jan. 20
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(506) 2223-1327                        Published Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 257                                    Email us
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comida stamps
This is the 20-stamp layout of the special postal emission.
Postal service adds stamp series on food to its menu
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four food favorites are featured this year on a special postal emission that raises money for the Ciudad de los Niños.

This is the annual Christmas issue that gives a financial boost to the boys home in Agua Caliente de Cartago.

The issue this year is a sheet of 20 stamps, each valued at 65 colons.  The entire sheet costs 1,300 colons, about $2.45.

Featured is olla de carne, the traditional Costa Rican beef stew;  picadillo de vainica, a string bean, chili and ground meat delight; gallo pinto, the famous rice and bean breakfast meal, and casado con pollo, the lunchtime favorite that includes chicken, rice, beans and fried platanos.
These are main courses that are so traditional that some of the photos came from the  Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural.

Cristian Ramírez Vargas, designed the stamp layout. The French stamp expert, Cartor Security Printing, provided the offset work. A million stamps were printed.

As an indication of inflation, the 1958 Ciudad de los Niños stamp, the first one, had a value of just 5 centimos, according to Correos de Costa Rica. The price is set by law and is consistent with inflation.

The stamp is available at the central post office or by Internet at the Correos online store.

Those interested in duplicating the favorite dishes can find a number of recipes online.

U.S. dollar posting a 1 percent gain against colon
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

From a low point just before Christmas, the U.S. dollar has added about six colons in value. The adjustment, which may not be complete, was expected because the U.S. dollar appears to have been held at an artificial low point to favor the local currency.

On Dec. 22, the buy/sell rate was 526.99/538.95, according to official figures from the Banco Central de Costa Rica. Local banks generally rounded off the figures.

The rate for today is 532.83/545.37, according to
 the Banco Central. Banco Nacional rounds the numbers off to 533/546. Based on the Banco Central figures, the dollar has increased in value  5.84/6.42 colons in just a week.   

Readers have pointed out that the dollar has stagnated against the colon while it increased in value against every other major world currency. The strengthening is good news for expats who receive their income from abroad and producers here who export and are paid in dollars.

The news is not so good for Costa Ricans who seek to purchase imported products or who plan to travel outside the country.

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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.

Residency experts

Residency in Costa Rica
A full service immigration agency
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Legal – Financial Adviser

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Avoid Real Estate scams, get independent advice and have due diligence performed before signing or making a deposit.

Phone number: (506) 8853-0000


Marco Cavallini & Associates
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Remodelling and Construction

Real estate agents and services

CR Beach
Jaco Beach Central Pacific Real Estate
CR Beach Investment Real Estate Broker & INT’L
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Reason #1:  SJO Int’l Airport and S.J. suburbs are little more than one hour away.
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#3: BUYERS’ MARKET: Many properties are at their lowest price ever
           *$179,900 Hermosa Beachfront Community with Ocean Views !
Yes we know Costa Rica: Jeff (21 years here), Frances Winborne (23 years), and Junior Diaz (Jacó born & bred),  and we chose the Central Pacific!

Member of the N.A.R., the Costa Rican Real Estate Board CRGAR and the Central Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 or  2643-4334, 2643-3672
JACO Office: IL Galeone Center by BAC, #14, Costa Rica

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President off to China to consolidate ties

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

President Luis Guillermo Solís is off to China next week with a handful of ministers and governmental executives.

Casa Presidencial said Solís seeks to consolidate relations with China for the long term, some 10 years.

Among other projects, the president seeks to establish special economic zones, free trade zones, in Cartago, Limón, Guanacaste and Puntarenas.

The president's trip comes at a time when the Chinese economy seems to be slowing and at a time when President Xi Jinìng is asserting more control.

The Reuters news agency reported Monday that the Chinese president has called for greater ideological guidance in China's universities and urged the study of marxism. The news service attributed the information to state media and said the country continues to tighten control on Western ideology.

Xi's comments are the latest sign of his politically conservative agenda and come amid a ratcheting up of controls over the media, dissidents and the internet, it said.

Solís is scheduled to meet with Xi.

During his visit, Solís is expected to accept an honorary doctorate at Renmin University of China, which is beginning a Latin America studies program.

With Solís will be Manuel González, the foreign minister;  Alexander Mora, minister of Comercio Exterior;  Celso Gamboa, minister of  Seguridad Pública;  Olga Marta Sánchez, minister of  Planificación, and Carlos Segnini, minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes.  Also going are a group of business operators seeking markets and capital.

Bus suspects
Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo           
Four robbery suspects are searched and identified by police.

Four bus stickup suspects caught

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Four men stuck up a bus driver Sunday night near Río Banano on the Caribbean coast.

Police said they were able to collar four suspects and said they obtained evidence of the heist, including the driver's wallet.

The bus was bound for Puerto Viejo, Limón, said the Fuerza Pública. The crime happened about 9 p.m.

Crooks broke several windows on the bus and caused several explosions, said police.

Grenades thrown at newspaper building

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Two men staged a hand-grenade attack on a newspaper in Venezuela.

Two fragmentary grenades were hurled at the building of the newspaper El Siglo in the city of Maracay, Aragua state. The attack, which occurred early Sunday morning, resulted in no injuries but caused damage to the security booth and three vehicles struck by the shock wave, the newspaper reported on its Web site.

Two assailants, captured on video by the security cameras, hurled two explosive artifacts at the newspaper’s building, only one of which exploded. The reason for the attack was not immediately known and no group has claimed responsibility for it.

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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 257    
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The proposed convention center is proposed to be 15,000 square meters on 10 hectares of land west of San José. The price tag is expected to be about $30 million

convention center
Instituto Costarricense de Turismo graphic

Presidential economics panel will coordinate major projects
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The mission of the Consejo Presidencial Económico is to coordinate within various ministries the goals and projects of the central government.

The panel consists of vice ministers and other representatives of ministries, said Casa Presidencial Monday.

President Luis Guillermo Solís has decreed that the economics council will meet every 15 days. Chief among the concerns are the creation of a government city to house much of the bureaucracy and the proposed $30 million convention center.

The council is supposed to promote economic development, develop quality employment and combat poverty and reduce the economic inequality as well as promote an open government that fights against corruption, according to the announcement.

The Solís administration is trying to reduce the expenses for rental properties to house government functions. Shortly after he took office in May he began talking about the construction of buildings to centralize the work of the government.
He is not the first to make this proposal. Former president Óscar Arias Sánchez wanted to develop a governmental complex just east of Parque Nacional and north of the park on property owned by the railway institute. Nothing ever happened because of the need to evict private parties and expropriate land.

The convention center seems to be on hold while complaints about bids are resolved. Ground was supposed to be broken west of San José last month, but now the start probably has been pushed forward until the middle of 2015.

The convention center has been promoted as a way to bring visitors to Costa Rica, but there has not been a clear and detailed accounting given to the public as to how the government will make money on the project.

A $30 million investment would need to generate some $58,000 a week to provide a 10 percent return.

The project is under the supervision of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, which has access to a flow of arrival taxes paid by visitors.

Such projects in some U.S. cities have become expensive white elephants.

There is much more than teasing bulls to be found at Zapote
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The lure of the Zapote fiesta is much more than groups of daredevils teasing bulls in an arena. Much of the action is outside the bull ring. There are food vendors with massive amounts of arroz con pollo and other hardy foods piled up for purchase. There are carnival rides. And there are the beer outlets, usually with bands, music and dancing.

The food and other health aspects of the fair are inspected continually by a dozen municipal workers. Nearly every day one or more outlets are closed down because the food is not at the correct temperature or for other health violations. The carnival rides are inspected, too.

Police flood the fairground and conduct random checks mostly on the young. They find marijuana, knives and individuals named in arrest warrants.

The location is south of the Registro Nacional. Parking is at a premium, so most visitors use public transportation.

Police said that over the weekend they detained a handful of individuals who were engaged in altercations in public, perhaps as a result of the beer outlets. One man was held for domestic violence, they said. Despite the police presence, pickpockets and other thieves gravitate to Zapote. Police suggest leaving home valuables and all but the necessary amount of money.

For those who can't get enough of the carnival food, rides and beer, the Palmares festival begins a 20-day run Jan. 14

Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública photo
Rides, food and beer outlets are the principal attractions outside of the bull baiting at Zapote. The fair runs through Sunday.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

Del Rey nightlife

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Fish Fabulous Costa Rica

A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 257
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Do media with emphases on terror and epidemics generate fear?
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

While terrorist beheadings, the ebola epidemic and immigration were on the minds of many Americans this year, the way they were covered by U.S. media and hyped in campaign ads prompted commentators to wonder whether the country has been overcome by fear.

"It is especially disturbing, that a nation like the United States, which is unprecedented in its power, unprecedented in its resources, can live in such a fearful state," said Rev. Gene Robinson, a retired Episcopal bishop who is now a fellow at the Center for American Progress.

In a column he writes regularly for The Daily Beast online magazine, he decried the pandemic of fear that preceded the midterm elections in November.

Political candidates often play up public fears to get elected, and this year attack ads showed ebola workers in hazmat suits, immigrants attempting to cross the Mexican frontier under the cover of darkness and the beheadings of journalists and humanitarians by Islamic militants in the Middle East.

"Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day," an ominous voice began one ad in a congressional race in the border state of Arizona.

Deseret News of Salt Lake City, Utah, suggested that media coverage had made Americans overly afraid.

It cited a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute which found that one-third of respondents were very concerned or somewhat concerned that they or someone in their family could be harmed by terrorists.

"The likelihood of being a victim of a terrorist attack is fairly slim, statistically speaking," researcher Daniel Cox was quoted as saying. "But that doesn't mean that fear is any less palpable."

The response to the ebola scare was a topic of conversation at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, held in Washington, D.C., in early December.

Doug Henry, a medical anthropologist at the University of North Texas, said the quarantines imposed on aid workers

returning from helping ebola patients in Africa, “weren’t exactly governed by science.”

By contrast, he said, fear has been harnessed as a positive force in public health in campaigns against smoking and distracted driving.

"What we have seen from this epidemic is that if you have just fear, and just fear messaging, in the absence of any self-efficacy messaging - in other words, messaging that shows people how to handle a response - it can actually have maladaptive social behaviors - driving the epidemic underground, mass panic, hysteria."

Fear has played a role before in American politics. In his 1933 inaugural address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously declared: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!"

But media observers said the hyperintensive, self-reinforcing style of coverage common today on news shows was having a magnifying effect.

"Have you been paying attention to the news lately?” comedian Jon Stewart, who skewers American media coverage in his Daily Show, asked in October.

“You might have heard: we are all going to die!"

Gregory Button, a disaster researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who was also at the anthropological conference, sees no evidence that Americans were any more concerned about these threats than in previous years.

“There’s always a level of uncertainty and fear in any culture,” he said. “It’s a constant that we live with on an everyday level.”

A former journalist, Button says the threats are a cultural construct. He points out that number of deaths terrorists have caused in the United States is dwarfed by traffic accidents, which kill more Americans every two years than died in the entire Vietnam War.

"Cultures selectively choose which social problems they are going to focus on,” he said, adding: “Sometimes it seems irrational."

Vacation, travel and hospitality

La Fortuna
Comfort of your home in the campo, 5 minutes from Fortuna Centro of San Carlos, in the shadow of Volcano Arenal, Flat screen TV, AC, refrigerator, free coffee. Local area activities like four-wheeling, horse riding, zip lining, hot springs, jungle walking tours. Bring your camera for great photos of nature, fishing and swimming, canyoning and wireless internet. Harry Hart, proprietor.  Call for reservations  (506) 2479-8670   and (506) 8682-9219  Email:

Will Costa Rica Retirement Work For You?
Find out for yourself on Live In Costa Rica Tours

When you visit Costa Rica, you'll want to discover what you need to know to  make the right choice about moving to this tropical paradise.  Our familiarization tours have won hard-earned credentials that prove general excellence and the right focus.  These are the only retirement tours that are licensed and approved by the Costa Rican government and tourism institute  (ICT). In 2006 we were featured on the NBC Today Show and World News.  In 2010, we won the  prestigious Latin America-Asia Travel Excellence Award for the Best and Most Unique Tour in Latin America.

   * Discover how to make the right choices about moving here
   * Find out how to live affordably
   * See how other expats live. Meet other expats who have made
          the move.
   * Access the country's affordable health care system
   * Informative two-day seminar given by local experts in their
          relevant fields.
   * Tours led by Christopher Howard, 34-year resident, citizen,
          and the author of "The New Golden Door to Retirement
          and  Living in Costa Rica – the Official Guide to Relocation”
Click HERE  to learn all about our Association of Residents (ARCR)  approved tours at

Anywhere Costa Rica plans custom vacations, and has the most comprehensive travel services in the country including travel guides, resorts and vacation homesCosta Rica tours
and car rentals.  
Call 1-888.456.3212 or 2479-8811 locally.

Largest art gallery in Guanacaste
Drop in to see some of Costa Rica's finest art
at the largest gallery in Guanacaste.

The Hidden Garden Art Gallery near the Liberia airport is a great place to find quality remembrances of Costa Rica to take home or to decorate your home or office in Costa Rica.  We also offer commissioned pieces so you can create your own unique masterpiece to cherish forever.  With more than 60 artists on exhibit and fine art in 15 rooms full of paintings, prints, sculptures, and diverse artistic expressions, we are easy to locate just 5 kms west of the Daniel Oduber International Airport. Visit our Web site at
or contact us by email:   
Gallery hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tel. 2667-0592 / 8386-6872; U.S. telephone 702-953-7073. International shipping available.
Every Saturday - Vendor Fair!

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.


Here's reasonable medical care
Costa Rica's world class medical specialists are at your command. Get the top care for much less than U.S. prices. It is really a great way to spend a vacation. See our list of recommended professionals HERE!amcr-prom

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See our listing of real estate brokers on the for-sale page.

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Maneul Antonio
The vacation homes at Manuel Antonio Estates offers luxury, comfort and peace of mind. We have numerous homes to chose from, all within walking distance of the town’s shops and restaurants and just a few minutes to the best beaches and the famous national park. While the homes are secluded and hidden among the rainforest, the surrounding area offers adventures like zip lines, white water rafting, mangrove kayaking and many more. All of the homes are available for short-term rentals, have easily accessible parking, cable TV, and Internet and are fully furnished. We are happy to assist with all your need for the perfect Costa Rican vacation.
Manuel Antonio Estates        TOLL FREE: 1800 346 9724
011 (506) 2777.3339

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:

Organic farm home
$800 plus utilities.
Two-bedroom, two-bath house, fully furnished, Internet included, cable TV available. Inside organic farm, safe and secure. In the country but close to town. Santa Bárbara de Heredia, Email for more info and pictures. Long term, NO DOGS.

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.

MONTHLY $800 TO $1,200

Villas Casa Loma has everything you are looking for.  Best vistas, climate, value.  Four unique homes in a secure private compound on a ridge near Alajuela overlooking the entire Central Valley.  Two are available fully furnished and equipped, each a complete home accommodating 4 persons in two bedrooms with ensuite baths.  Pool, rancho, mirador, other features.  Ask about part-month rates.  Call Gerry at (506) 2441-8796 or e-mail at  See virtual tour of accommodations HERE!
Get to know the real Costa Rica – you may want to live here someday.

HP Cattle rentals
Mountain homes or farm for rent
Barva volcano, Heredia province
We offer for rent a gorgeous two-bedroom mountain chalet and a one-bedroom mountain home located on the slopes of the Barva Volcano, Heredia Province. The homes are situated at 7,300 feet altitude and within a working horse ranch just three kilometers from the Braulio Carrillo National Park entrance. From our homes one can hike to the Barva volcano crater-lake.  Enjoy a spacious living room, kitchen, fireplace and breathtaking views of the Irazú volcano and the Central Valley. Observe dozens of cloud forest bird species to include the resplendent quetzal.  The homes are incomparable in beauty and attention to detail within the Barva highland area.  We are only 35-55 minutes from Costa Rica’s three principal cities (Heredia, Alajuela, and San José), less than two hours from the central Pacific beaches, and three hours from the Caribbean beaches. Enjoy the tranquility of the mountains while maintaining quick access to the conveniences of the city and rapid access to other eco-tourist destinations in Costa Rica. Additionally, we can board your horses at a reasonable fee.  We can also offer our clients rental of a small and fully functional farm complete with stables, pasture, and office space.
Mountain chalet: $750.  Basic mountain home: $400.
Boutique mountain home: One-bedroom $850. Two-bedroom $1,000.
Small Farm that includes a chalet, basic mountain home, stables, and 8,000m2 of pasture/green areas: $1,500.

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A.M. Costa Rica's   Fifth news page
Family home

cat trees
San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 257     
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Search broadened for jet
believed down in Java Sea

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The search for the missing AirAsia jet has resumed off Indonesia with officials believing the airliner may be at the bottom of the Java Sea.

But Indonesian search-and-rescue officials say they will expand their efforts to include land, hoping the plane may be on an island.

The United States is sending the Navy destroyer USS Sampson to help with the search efforts.

Several other nations have also offered help, including Australia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Flight QZ 8501 with 162 passengers and crew was about halfway into its flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore when it disappeared Sunday morning.

The pilot asked air traffic controllers for permission to ascend about 1,800 meters to avoid stormy weather. An Indonesian Transport Ministry official said permission was denied because another plane was flying in the area. Air traffic controllers then lost contact with the jet

The passengers include 149 Indonesians, 3 South Koreans, and one each from Britain, Malaysia, and Singapore. The crew included 6 Indonesians and a French co-pilot.

Coming just nine months after the loss of a Malaysian jet that remains missing, the disappearance of AirAsia Flight 8501 is rattling many in a region where air travel and violent storms often intersect.

A day after the AirAsia jet disappeared during a storm, nervous passengers arrived in Singapore, having flown the same route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya.

"It's eerie," said passenger Nicole Go. "And the flight just now was really bumpy, and so, I don't know."

Weather often an issue for pilots in Southeast Asia

A pilot who has flown commercial airliners in the region said weather -- including sudden storms -- has always been an issue for planes in Southeast Asia, and that pilots and controllers often have to rely solely on radio communications instead of newer and quicker technologies.

Before it disappeared from radar, the crew of the missing AirAsia plane asked to fly at a higher elevation to avoid some clouds.

“Some weather patterns, strong convective activity to aircraft of any size and so that’s why you see commercial pilots deviating around really strong cells of weather,” said Keith McGuire who is with the University of Southern California’s program for aviation safety and security.

But McGuire, a former regional director with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, said it's still way too early to blame weather for the loss of this plane.

“As new facts come in, it’s just human nature, there’s a tendency to look at it and say, ‘Oh, maybe this is it . . . ,” he said. “But this early in the game, no, a professional investigator isn’t going to be jumping to any conclusions.”

For now, authorities are promising to look at every possibility.

Indonesia’s president told a news conference he ordered a review of all aviation procedures and processes.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Chief Executive Tony Fernandes and other company executives are doing their best to calm a jittery public.

“There’s a deep sense of depression here, but we’ll stay strong,” Fernandes said

He said AirAsia has carried 220 million people to this point and that “we are confident in our ability to fly.”

Prime suspect in murder
of VOA newsman detained

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Police in northwestern Pakistan say they have detained a key militant commander who is accused in the 2012 killing of a reporter for Voice of America's Deewa Radio.

Deputy Inspector General of the Mardan region, Mohammad Saeed Wazir, said that police arrested Pakistani Taliban commander Irfan Khurasani and two of his associates at a checkpoint near the town of Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, after getting tipped off. Authorities also seized at least 100 kilograms of explosives from their vehicle.

Wazir said Khurasani, who went by Amanullah, was wanted in connection with a number of incidents, including extortion and attacks on schools, security forces and the killing of journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif.

Aatif, a reporter for Deewa Radio, was gunned down Jan. 17, 2012, during evening prayers at a local mosque near his home in the town of Shabqadar. He had faced repeated threats from militants, and the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.

Aatif's nephew and Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand was with Aatif at the mosque when he was shot. Muhmand said that his uncle was killed because he worked for Voice of America. Aatif had been working for VOA since 2006.

Pakistan is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

Muhmand said he and other reporters in Pakistan's northwest continue to face threats from the Taliban. Local groups are urging journalists to be extra cautious following the Dec. 16 massacre at a school in the city of Peshawar that left nearly 150 students and teachers dead.

Chinese marketers beginning
to promote brands in U.S.

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Chinese brands are having a tough time gaining recognition in America, where many U.S. consumers cannot identify them. Those consumers include a couple in their 20s, who were shopping recently at a warehouse in Arlington, Virginia.

"I’m trying to think of an actual Chinese-branded product, and I can't really think of anything," said Patrick Hamilton, after coming out of the Costco branch in Pentagon City. His partner, Sarah Friedman, also was baffled. "I can't think of a single one," she said.

Neither could several other shoppers who also had visited the wholesale club, which sells Chinese-branded items such as televisions from TCL and Hisense.

But Hamilton said he was aware that many consumer goods sold at stores such as Costco are Chinese-made. "You hear that Apple products and other things are made in China," he said.

China is the largest source of imports to the United States, but two 2013 surveys of U.S. consumers by marketing company Millward Brown and e-commerce firm HD Trade Services showed that only 6 percent of respondents could name at least one Chinese brand.

Doreen Wang, head of Millward Brown's global brand database BrandZ, says the main reason for Americans' lack of awareness is that many Chinese companies are in the early stages of marketing their brands to those consumers.

"Putting Chinese-branded products into U.S. stores does not mean that you have established a brand in consumers’ minds," Wang said. "You need years of effort to accumulate brand equity, which is a measure of how well consumers know the brand and how much they love it, want to use it and recommend it to their friends."

Chinese mobile phone messaging app WeChat is one example of a recent Chinese-branded entrant to the U.S. market.

With 468 million monthly active users around the world, WeChat is one of the biggest international social networks. But, it only began researching how to promote itself to Americans last year.

Other companies making initial attempts to woo U.S. consumers include one of China's most prominent jewelers, Lao Feng Xiang Jewelry, which opened its first U.S. outlet in New York in February, and China's Hainan Airlines, which began flying to its third U.S. destination in June, adding Boston to its Seattle and
Chicago routes.

HD Trade Services says some of the recent Chinese entrants to the United States have struggled to market their brands effectively. Poor sales prompted Chinese sportswear maker Li-Ning to close its only U.S. retail outlet in 2012, two years after opening it. Li-Ning also shut down the e-commerce section of its U.S. Web site last year.

Many of China's biggest companies have been focused on establishing a strong brand identity at home rather than trying to appeal to Americans. Wang identified three notable examples, including China Mengniu Dairy, the country's largest dairy company, New Oriental Education & Technology Group, the largest Chinese provider of private educational services, and, the top Chinese direct sales e-commerce provider whose business model is similar to U.S. giant

Jessica Vaughn, a writer for U.S. marketing research group JWTIntelligence, says another reason for the low Chinese brand recognition is that China served as an original equipment manufacturing hub for foreign brands for much of the 20th century. "It has only been in recent years that Chinese companies have started to focus on building multinational brands of their own," she said.

Some Chinese companies also have chosen to acquire American-owned brands and keep the original brand names rather than market their own names to U.S. customers. In one such acquisition, China's Geely Automobile bought the Volvo Cars division of U.S. automaker Ford in 2010 and retained the Volvo brand.

U.S. population is expected
to reach 320 million in 2104

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The Census Bureau said the U.S. population grew a bit less than 1 percent over the last year and will hit 320,090,857 at New Year.

The U.S. population is growing because there is one birth every eight seconds and one international migrant arrives every 33 seconds. That outpaces U.S. deaths, which occur every 11 seconds.

The United States has the third highest population in the world but lags far behind China, which has 1.36 billion people, and India, at 1.25 billion.

U.S. Census experts estimate the total world population will be 7.21 billion at the turn of the new year.

Reaction to ebola crisis
generates some victories

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

In 2014, the ebola virus erupted in West Africa. The epidemic remains a humanitarian crisis of epic proportion. More than 20,000 people likely have been infected by the virus, which so far has killed at least 7,842, the World Health Organization reports.

The epidemic began quietly in rural southeastern Guinea in the last days of 2013. The ebola virus then raged through Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  It made forays into Nigeria and Mali, killing more than a third of those it infected, including doctors and caregivers. In its wake, ebola left behind thousands of orphans. 

This has been the biggest and most challenging ebola outbreak since the virus was identified in 1976, according to the World Health Organization.

More than 20 outbreaks in other parts of Africa have been much more easily contained, said Tom Kenyon, who heads the Center for Global Health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.

Where those earlier outbreaks have occurred, "the local public knows it is ebola and takes measures to stop it," Kenyon said. "They stop touching sick people. They stop touching dead bodies and bury them safely. They wash their hands with bleach solutions and don't touch one another. That will stop the outbreak."

But in West Africa, where the virus previously had not surfaced, even doctors were caught off guard.

"There’s lots of belief that it’s a curse, that a witch came and caused these things to happen to people," said Leisha Nolen, a physician in the centers' Epidemic Intelligence Service.

As a disease detective, she has gathered research on the epidemic in both Liberia and Sierra Leone. There and in Guinea, she said, civil wars left residents fearful of outsiders and unwilling to work with them or to change practices that spread the disease.

Unlike in the remote areas of Central Africa, people in the three affected countries used to travel freely between rural areas and major cities, as well as across borders.

"Movement is actually a big problem in this outbreak in that people continue to move and continue to expose new populations to the infection," she said in September.

All three countries have since established checkpoints to take temperatures and screen for the ebola virus.

Some airlines suspended flights to West Africa, amid calls for travel bans as a few cases were reported in the United States and Spain. But health officials and the United Nations opposed such measures on the grounds that they would further isolate the countries, depriving them of needed medical personnel and supplies and increasing the likelihood of the disease spreading.

As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a Nov. 21 news briefing, "We need to avoid travel bans, discrimination against health workers and other steps that would isolate countries when they need help most."

Guinea’s ministry of health first formally acknowledged the current outbreak in March.

On March 31, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders warned that the outbreak was unprecedented in its geographic spread. In June, the organization's director of operations, Bart Janssens, issued a stronger statement, saying the outbreak was out of control and required a massive infusion of international health workers, resources and equipment to curb its spread.

In August, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

In September, President Barack Obama announced the United States would ramp up its efforts to fight the epidemic, beefing up humanitarian aid, support for awareness training and medical missions. The Defense Department deployed nearly 3,000 troops to West Africa to speed the delivery of medical personnel and supplies and to build treatment centers in Liberia.

Other countries, organizations and individuals also sent aid.

By mid-December, the World Health Organization's chief, Margaret Chan, reported signs of hope in some areas and new outbreaks in others, especially in Sierra Leone.

"We must maintain our vigilance. Complacency would be our enemy," Dr. Chan had said a month earlier, noting then that the rate of infection for new cases had slowed. "… We have been successful in bending the curve a bit. But we need to continue to do more to get to zero."

Despite fast-tracking potential ebola treatments and vaccines, prevention methods plus early treatment and basic care remain the best hope for survival.
Real estate-related services (paid category)

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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 4030-5480 or 8339-2112.

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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
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Costa Rica,

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

Visit our Web Site:

English calls: (Cristian Arce) Phone: 
(506) 2494-0016 
(506) 8309-0173
English calls :  (Luis David) Phone: 
(506) 6154-1940

Español calls: (Luis G. Jiménez)  Phone:   
(506) 8707-4016
Grecia 884
Beautiful large house in Grecia, Costa Rica, with the best fresh natural weather. The property includes 9 challets and 12.000 m2 of land,  1,000 m2 of construction. Price $498,000. Click HERE!
Grecia 881
Beautiful house in Grecia, Costa Rica,  2 kilometers from the city.   340 m2 of land.
Price $135,000. Click
Grecia 898
Beautiful house in Grecia downtown. Full security cameras. Land 250 m2.  Price $400,000.  Click HERE!
  Send us your request to our email:

Real estate for sale (paid category)

Heredia montage

Cariaria  Los Arcos.
    Lot inside Los Arcos Residence. Absolutely gorgeous right in front of the coffee plantation. The lot is 326.50 meters. Includes the corporation for an easy transfer and the plans for a 170 meter house. Open to all offers.   Architect  plans included (the blueprints). Cost to the seller $4,000 this is included!!   Original Price $97,000 just reduced to $86,000

Also I am selling an Audi A6  2008, 2.0 twin turbo. Full loaded power. Back leather. Full service records at the agency in Costa Rica.  52 kms.  Silver with black. Full computer iPod interface power. Electric moon roof. Everything's a beauty!!  Incredible history and full service at the agency, Costa Rica Audi.

It's a package deal $104.000.  Must sell.  I am moving back to U.S.  Contact me  at my phone:  2260-6979 or cell phone:  8893-8672.

La Fortuna Distress Sale
Divorce forced wife to return to the U.S. with bills to pay. Just wants to get out from under. Modern 2-bedroom home on over 1100m2 intended for apartments or condos. Easy walk to center of town, great volcano view. $140,000 with 50 percent financing arranged. On vacation rental program now producing nice income, but Costa Rica no longer in her future. For details contact

Ringle resort
on one big lot in Esterillos Oeste, (Central Pacific)
Located on a breezy hill just 4 minutes walk to the beach, surf and tide-pools, only 20 minutes drive north to Jacó nightlife and shopping or south to the rural town of Parrita.

First, a 2-storey, 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1½-bathroom house with big kitchen and living room.  Full-width verandah with eating and sitting areas, overlooking lawn, pool and gazebo. Sitting balcony at upper, bedroom level.  Carport. and laundry. 

Second, a completely private single-storey. 2-bedroom (sleeps 4), 1-bathroom home with big back yard at a lower level on the same, big fully titled 1,100M2 lot.. Full security bars at all doors and windows, plus locking vehicle access and pedestrian gates at the street. In a very safe neighborhood, with private and natural surroundings

Well maintained, fully and tastefully furnished and equipped, hot water, local phone, cable TV/DVD and high speed wireless internet   The houses have been rented for both long-term and vacation for $100/$80 per day and $1,500/$1,200 per month respectively. See this place, you will love it! Then make an offer. E-mail or call (506) 8386-8825.  Rodney, asking $350,000.

Condo montage
Cariari luxury condo for sale
 PRICE REDUCED FROM $235,000 to $195,000
This is not an ordinary condo. Completed one year ago, a $45,000 renovating made it an exquisite dwelling. As soon as you walk in you know it is a special home. No detail has been overlooked, even minuscule ones. The owner has a need to move on, and someone lucky will be the beneficiary of the fine detailed work. The home itself has three bedrooms, two and half bathrooms plus a maid’s quarters with its own bathroom. Also, it has a living room, dining room and a gorgeous kitchen with a kitchenette. There’s also a small outdoor patio. Being the end unit of this four-home condo complex, there’s parking space for three vehicles.  Approximately 240 sq. meters. All this near the Cariari Golf and Country Club and its renowned Tom Facio golf course. The club also has amenities such as a fitness centre, exercise room, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, 12 tennis courts and many other benefits. Tel:  8384-9608 or 2293-9054  Price $195,000.

Atenas home
This developer's prime lot with super house is being offered in Roca Verde, 7,006 M2 of gentle grade, all landscaped for tropical effect, 3 bedrooms 2 baths with tile floors and hardwood kitchen, near the entrance of the neighborhood. Great floor plan on this one! There is a double carport, and a large patio and pool, wheelhouse style living room and many other features. View, large usable lot, close to town, nice, oh yeah. $495,000.

More photos HERE!
Another 'live in the view' home in Puriscal
$179,900 includes:
Lot on river, concrete road, custom kitchen & bath with granite counter tops, PEX plumbing, 2” Styrofoam, sandwiched in steel roof, 4” concrete/recycled Styrofoam & steel walls, laminated, bronzed windows, custom wood doors, appliances and all transfer taxes, and fees.

2, 900 sq feet under roof, 1,250 sq feet inside walls, 2 bedroom, 2 ½ baths, laundry room, three separate patio areas, covered carport, shade trees, in upscale, secure project.  This project has river with protected areas & walkways. It is only 10 minutes on all paved roads to Santiago de Puriscal, 45 minutes to La Plaza Mall/Hospital CIMA and SJO airport, and 1 ½ hours to Pacific Beaches. It has recently upgraded public water supply and dependable ICE electric and high-speed internet.
Please come visit our projects and meet four new homeowners who have recently moved into their new “live in the view” homes to verify how happy they are and that they all came in under budget. CONTACT: George Lundquist  Home phone: 2417-1041 Cell phone: 8888 4543 Skype glundquist.
To see more Photos of this house, click HERE!

Maneul Antonio
Manuel Antonio Estates focuses on building vacation homes for clients within Manuel Antonio Estates and Palmas Pacifica. We take care of the details from permits and design to supervision of construction and management of the rentals, if needed. We provide privacy and security, and our gated community offers shared common recreational facilities, beautiful landscaping and parking areas. Our homes and lots are located just minutes from the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. If you've ever considered buying a second home, just minutes from the beach, do not hesitate, if you have any questions or would like to request more information please take full advantage of our Costa Rica real estate services and contact us today!
Manuel Antonio Estates    1 800 346-9724  (506) 8815-9606.

Ciudad Colon
Great Deal!! Apartment in condo with pool and extensive green areas:
Ciudad Colón, San José $112,000
The apartment has a master bedroom with a large ensuite bathroom with bath tub, and a smaller second bedroom/office with air conditioning. It has a second full bathroom, living/dining room, laundry room with hot water tank and storage area. The kitchen comes with granite countertops, a breakfast bar and new dishwasher. It has 82 m2 of construction. 2 balconies with beautiful views of the river and mountains. Private parking for one car. Elevator and a well presented reception area. Located in a very quiet and private neighborhood just 400 meters from the centre of Ciudad Colón. Within minutes to all major amenities in Santa Ana and Escazú. Easy access to the beach (less than 1.5 hrs).  24-hour security, visitor parking, pool, extensive and lush green areas, BBQ area, children’s playground and its own water treatment plant. Contact (506) 6022-9294 or 6022-9967, for further info or to arrange a viewing.

Suenos montage
Outrageous blowout prices on oceanfront condos in Los Sueños!

Located in the private Bay Residence enclave overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Los Sueños Resort and Marina, there are three gorgeous units available at unbelievable bargain pricing from $589,000.  All of these beautiful units are three bedrooms and two baths, 2,200 square feet, fully furnished and ready to move in.  Development includes a gym, access to 3 pools, jacuzzis, BBQ areas and the Beach Club.  If you’ve always wanted to own in Los Sueños, now is the time!  Contact  or call 8702-0778.  From U.S. call 209-482-1788.

Top floor unit: $649,000   Second floor unit: $675,000  Garden unit: $589,000

Newly available in Roca Verde
Well-built home of 215 m2, 3 bedrooms, two bath on 1,150 m2 of lot, with attractive rock retaining wall, carport, and a pool. Indoors there are high, vaulted hardwood ceiling, bright rooms, a laundry room.  The floor is ceramic tile in pastel shades. $247,000. Photos: 2446-5587.

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 ft. elevation so temp is 65 to 75 year around. Electric gate, private drive. house built in 2010. 2 bedrooms, 1 baths, appliances included. High-speed internet installed, Direct TV via sling box on Internet. $199,000 Contact   Check out slide show HERE!


Beach Front Home - Central Pacific Coast
Pristine condition, recently renovated. The best surfing and boogie boarding in the country. The most magnificent ocean and sunset view. New 20-year, fully registered concession on one of the most beautiful beaches in Costa Rica. Easy access from San José (1 hour 25 minutes) located between Jacó and Manuel Antonio, in Esterillos Oeste.  2 or 3 bedrooms. Center room can be living room. House with 2 1/2 baths. Separated rancho with kitchen and large entertainment patio. Landscaped garden with no water shortage. Has both municipal and well water with automatic watering system. Direct access to the beach as no road is in front of property. Protected land on one side of the property for additional privacy.  Alarm system and complete shutters for security while away. Lot approximately 1,725 square meters, Asking price: $385.000.  Contact to Paul at local phone 506- 2637-8858  Cell phone 506- 8823-8550 .  US Mobile 908-400-9772  Emails:  and


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:

ARenal property
Location: Near Arenal        Price: $2.7 million
Size: 113 acres
Web site:

The farm is at the highest point on a stunning ridge bordered by pristine Costa Rican primary forest on all sides of the property, with active wildlife all throughout the area. On each of its gently rolling terraced lomas you get a glimpse of Volcán Arenal from a distance. This property has four different lagunas, a working organic farm and nursery, mature fruit trees, sheep corral, ideal for grazing horses with stunning views from all the hillsides. The Northern Zone of Costa Rica is the country's best kept secret, providing a perfect home base location to travel the country's many destinations while still maintaining the best climate at 400 meters above sea level.

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Call center for rent ready to go !
13 work stations, good equipment, good location, Rohrmoser, two blocks from Plaza Mayor. $4.000 per month. Call Kevin 8366-6861.

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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San José, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 257
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Latin news from the BBC up to the minute
Quick immigration reform seen unlikely

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Over the span of several U.S. election cycles, there have been calls for comprehensive immigration reform to fix a system that people on both sides of the political spectrum agree is broken. But some observers say President Barack Obama’s recent executive action aimed at temporarily shielding some undocumented foreigners from being deported may have doomed his longer-term goal of forging a comprehensive agreement with Congress.

Obama’s recent executive action allows some four million undocumented residents in the United States to seek temporary legal status. But without congressional approval, he cannot achieve comprehensive immigration reform.

Republicans, who won majorities in both houses of Congress in November’s midterm elections, replied through Speaker of the House, John Boehner.
“Instead of working together to fix our broken immigration system, the president says he is acting on his own," he said. "That is just not how our democracy works.”

Tony Payan, director of the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute, says Obama's action will help a lot of people come out of the shadows and "essentially, become a little more integrated, in a legal, formal sense, into the American economy and the American society.

"But it was also very counterproductive because I feel that it polarized many of the Republicans who might have been willing to do something on immigration,” he added.

While some undocumented immigrants support the move, others have mixed feelings about what they see as a temporary fix.

Payan says there are concerns about applying for legal status under this temporary measure.

“Once they surrender their personal information to the government, once the government knows who they are and where they are and if the next president is not willing to extend that temporary protected status, then they are going to be found very quickly and to be denied,” he said.

Republicans say they want to secure the border with Mexico before approving other measures. The surge of Central American immigrants at the Texas border earlier this year underscored this concern.

Republicans also oppose Democratic proposals for a so-called pathway to citizenship, which they see as a ploy to increase the Democratic voter base.

But Houston immigration attorney Charles Foster says most immigrants seek legal resident status, not full naturalization.

“If you look at the last big legalization bill signed by President Reagan, in the last 40 years, barely 30 percent have even gotten around to applying for citizenship,” he said.

Foster says the immigration issue has divided the Republican Party.

“While the business community is very supportive of immigration reform, there is a very vocal wing of the Republican Party that is adamantly against everything,” said Foster.

Analysts say it may still be possible for the Republican-controlled Congress and President Obama to achieve agreement on at least some parts of immigration reform next year, but that full reform is more likely to be delayed until after the 2016 presidential election.

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