border crossing in north to open Saturday
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
The new Las Tablillas border crossing in Los Chiles de Alajuela will go
into service Saturday, according to the Ministerio de Comercio Exterior.
This is the second official crossing at the Nicaraguan border.
The immigration services will start slowly there and improve as more
facilities are opening, the ministry said.
The government plans no official ceremony Saturday.
Jhon Fonseca, a vice minister, said that opening the border crossing is
one of the most important achievements of the Luis Guillermo
The location is expected to provide an international exit from Costa
Rica by trucks carrying cargo from the port of Moin. APM
Ministerio de Comercio Exterior photo
Las Tablillas border crossing is well
Terminals is building a $1 billion container handling
there, and a second firm said it also will build a dock setup for cargo
from the sea.
The money to construct the buildings at the Las Tablillas crossing came
from the exit taxes paid by those leaving the country by land in 2014,
said the ministry.
scam cases have their human costs, too
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
News stories about property thefts and similar scams that steal from
expats and would-be expats usually feature the economic loss.
Not as often do news stories address the physical, psychological and
emotional impact. Of course when one writes about the 17-year struggle
of someone like Sheldon Hazeltine, the personal impacts are assumed. He
has been in and out of court more times than a lot of judges.
But how about the average U.S. property buyer who comes to Costa Rica
full of trust and the desire to find a home for eventual retirement.
Larry Meholick, now in Naples, Florida, is one such individual. He
wrote Thursday describing his long battle over real estate.
He said that in 2004 he and his now ex-wife purchased a retirement
condo in construction at Flamingo and made payments representing 98
percent of the purchase price. He said they furnished it and put the
condo up for rent until retirement. The payment was $272,473.
"But one month later, we heard a rumor our condo was being auctioned
because the developers did not pay any of our money to the bank after
they represented having clear title," he wrote. "No warning, only
assurances the project was solvent."
"Our earth dropped from beneath our feet," he continued. "After working
nearly a combined 100 years saving for the home and fulfilling all
contractual obligations, we have lived a nightmare since: divorce,
broken lives, major health issues, my ex-wife’s bankruptcy, my unending
crushing condo loan debts, our life savings and children’s inheritance
"I will be 68 soon, I have nothing left to lose. I am a retired police
officer, never gave up seeking justice for a victim in my career and
was particularly diligent bringing justice to victims from other
cultures preyed upon by those in positions of trust . . . "
Meholick now is in the courts seeking damages from the developer and
his associates. There may well be innocent explanations for what
happened, which the court will determine. But he is not alone.
Many of the persons who dealt with Paragon Properties of Costa Rica,
S.A. ended up losing
their money. The company sold vacant lots with a
sophisticated boiler room operation in Florida that
offered free trips to Costa Rica. Some claim the operation started out
as a ponzi scheme, and others, including the former management,
the rapidly expanding operation was blindsided by the economic downturn.
A.M. Costa Rica graphic.
In any event perhaps as many as 900 couples lost their money and dreams
of a life in Costa Rica. Some who have valid corporations that own a
lot still are hanging on. Most U.S. legal efforts were not successful.
There is a long list of similar problem
properties mostly on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.
Meholick makes the point that has been echoed over and over by those in
similar circumstances: No one would help.
He said he got no help from staffers at the U.S. Embassy, the Colegio
de Abogados, the lawyers professional association, or from the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. He said he was told that he did not
lose enough to launch an investigation.
Others have made the same comments about the lack of embassy response.
Each time an ambassador designate appears before the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, he or she reads from a prepared text and promises
to look out for U.S. citizens here.
That does not seem to be the case with property fraud and disputes.
Embassy staffers lavish all sorts of police equipment on the Costa
Rican government. For example, Thursday the U.S. gave $220,000 in tools
to the Servicio de Vigilancia Aérea to fight crime from the
Wednesday one of the many subsecretaries of the U.S. Department of
State was in town to help Costa Rica become a member of another
international organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development. The visitors met with the foreign minister, Manuel A.
González, and the commerce minister, Alexander Mora. That
would seem to
have been a good time to mention the many U.S. investors and would-be
retirees who have had property problems or who have been defrauded
here. And the State Department bigwigs could have made some suggestions.
But there is no indication that the topic came up.