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Published Tuesday Edition
May 23, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 101
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Immigration and
                            Customs Enforcement
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Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrive on someone's doorstep.
Reports reveal trends of Costa Ricans in the U.S.
By Conor Golden, News Editor
for A.M. Costa Rica with wire reports


Two reports issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency showed some revealing trends in regards to Costa Rican immigrants and visitors.

According to the most recent reports issued on removal operations, the agency deported 157 Costa Rican nationals for fiscal year 2016.

The deportation number places Costa Rica just behind the United Kingdom, itself at 160, and Bangladesh at 128. In 2014, 245 Costa Ricans were deported from the country.

For 2015, the number dropped to 162.

By comparison, México claimed the top spot for deportations with 149,821 deported that year.

Guatemala and Honduras came at a distant second and third, respectively, with 33,940 and 21,994 persons deported.

The report for fiscal year 2017 has not been released yet.

Earlier in May, the Costa Rican foreign ministry issued a statement claiming that an average of 200 and 300 Costa Rican citizens are deported each year. That number is small in comparison to other countries in Latin America.

It is also small in comparison to previously issued data by U.S. immigration authorities. Costa Rica did not place in the top ten of removals by citizenship since 2013, the data shows.

A.M. Costa Rica requested a comment from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on this phenomenon regarding the deportations but the agency has not provided answers to the inquiries made.

Despite the recent immigration policy ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump, most arrests of Costa Rican citizens in the United States are related to traffic stops and incidents, the foreign ministry said.

The arrests are made when the Costa Rican did not have their proper documentation at the time of the police officer intervening.

The consuls are supposed to follow-up on any detentions by the United States and other governments made upon Costa Rican citizens, said Óscar Camacho, the head of all the consuls.

From the moment the consul has the information that a Costa Rican is detained, they contact the police authority that stopped him to find out the process to be followed.

“It is normal for the person to be detained under the command of the immigration authorities, while initiating the process of deportation, which can extend from 15 days to a month,” a statement from the foreign ministry said.

“Once a judge determines whether the deportation is valid, the Costa Rican citizen will remain in detention until the date of their return to Costa Rica is fixed. The return can vary between two to four months.”

In spite of popular belief, many illegal immigrants first arrive in the United States legally and then simply overstay their visas similar to Costa Rica’s own immigration issues particularly with Nicaraguan nationals.

According to the latest data published by the Department of Homeland Security, out of around 260,000 people entering the U.S. on a Costa Rican passport, about 2,530 were labeled as suspected of overstaying their business or travel visas.

That brings the total number of overstays, confirmed and suspected, as being up to 2,671. This number does not include those traveling on student visas and under an exchange program.

As a category, student and exchange visitors had the highest overstay rate overall based on the report’s findings, with 40,949 failing to leave on time.

Around 125 of the 2,524 Costa Ricans that entered the country with the aforementioned criteria were overstaying their visas.

The data on overstays for fiscal year 2016 was released to the public on Monday. It represents the agency’s second installment of this specific data report.

Overall, however, most visitors to the United States depart when they are supposed to at the end of their vacation or school year or business trip.

But hundreds of thousands of people failed to leave by the time their stay legally expired during the last fiscal year.

Homeland Security accounted for the departures or change in legal status of nearly 50 million individuals from around the world who were supposed to leave between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016.

However, by early this year, the agency determined 544,676 people didn't leave when their visas expired, didn't adjust their status in the case of, for example, an asylum seeker who came as a tourist, and remained in the country at the end of the last fiscal year.

To be fair, U.S. security officials have not fully implemented a biometric entry/exit system that has been in the works since 2013, complicating how agencies track visa overstays.

Homeland Security relies on biographic information from passenger manifests to document departures, but has begun pilot programs to collect biometric data like fingerprints as people leave the country.

The data was released a day ahead of a Congressional committee hearing on visa overstays, scheduled for this afternoon.


Municipality conflict leaves properties in limbo
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A power dispute between the mayor of the Municipalidad de Carrillo and its municipal council keeps the owners of local properties in legal uncertainty as to whether or not their houses, restaurants or swimming pools will be demolished.

At the beginning of May 2017, municipality officers proceeded to destroy some swimming pools and houses that allegedly were built without the proper construction permit.

Some of the residents of the Carrillo canton found the measure to be unfair and illegal, since, according to their claims, those permits were not required 10 or 15 years ago.

Nelson Cascante, legal director of the municipality, said that local government has provided plenty of time for people to solve their situation and they will continue demolishing properties that have already exhausted all possible appeals.

Two weeks later, the municipal council voted for a halt on the demolitions until further investigations were carried out. The idea was to ensure that all property rights were respected in every single case, according to Carlos Chanto, the vice president of the municipal council.

"Then, the mayor decided to veto the council's resolution saying the demolitions are part of an administrative measure that must be completed or else, the municipality would face charges for not complying with the law," said Chanto.

Once the mayor vetoed the resolution, four out of five council members accepted it. "I did not accept it because of my principles," added Chanto.

"I have the power to veto that resolution as many times as it is required," said Carlos Cantillo, mayor of the Municipalidad de Carrillo.

"It is not our goal to hurt people, but this municipality has called for owners and developers to get their permits over and over again. If the council insists in halting the demolitions, then we will take the case to a court of law, so that a judge decides who's right," the mayor added.

A.M. Costa Rica also learned that several property owners have filed constitutional appeals before the Sala Constitucional of the supreme court and also before the Tribunal Contencioso-Administrativo.

The Tribunal Contencioso-Administrativo is a kind of court specialized in resolving disputes against the state.

"In those cases where an appeal has been filed, the process is interrupted until we get further notification," said the mayor. "All other cases continue as usual."

"Not everything is lost," said Chanto.

"The municipal council issued a resolution where the municipality should provide us a copy of every case where a property faces demolition.”

The said resolution will be voted on today's municipal council.


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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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Conflict of interest arises in some environmental permit processes

By Rommel Téllez of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Archaeological assessments of land to be used in big agricultural or construction projects are still a not mandatory requirement to obtain an environmental permit.

According to the existing rules of the Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental, the government agency in charge of granting those permits, only when a project has started and archaeological evidence is found is when the construction process can be halted.

In other words, only when workers and heavy machinery happen to hit something hidden in the ground, then the Secretaría has the legal obligation to inform the authorities of the Museo Nacional, which will then determine if it is still valid.

With such regulations, the first problem that may arise is the damage that archaeological objects may suffer during the excavation, three cutting, or demolitions that usually take part during any construction process.

The other problem is that minor archaeological discoveries may be just neglected by the developing companies, as this could cause them monetary losses.

Not informing about archaeological discoveries is only a felony if the Museo Nacional and the Secretaría know about it. Otherwise, any damage to indigenous heritage could go invisible, unpunished and irreversible.

In the last two weeks, a new pineapple plantation to be developed by the local branch of Fresh del Monte fruit company, faced strong opposition from environmental and cultural activists.

They complained about how fast the permits were granted and some other questioned about the potential damage to an archaeological site close by.

The Secretaría made a recommendation in its permit to the company and requested a preventive measure: Fresh del Monte should hire an archaeologist who would provide an assessment about the site.

Again this was just a recommendation as the permits can be granted with none assessment if the project hasn't started. In those cases, the very same person in charge of judging the viability of the project from a cultural heritage perspective is the same person who receives its payment from the developing company.

In such a conflict of interest, some are calling for the regulations from Secretaría to be reviewed as soon as possible particularly with a country preserving its Pre-Columbian heritage in partnership and under the World Heritage site status, as agreed with the United Nation's Education, Scientific and Cultural organization.


USGS survey seeks aquifer strategy

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An ongoing alliance between the United States Geological Survey and the Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía seeks a better understanding on the status of Costa Rica’s aquifers and also the development of a sustainable strategy to profit from underground waters.

To achieve these goals, government authorities have held several meetings with the USGS scientist Saud Amer, who filed his first report on how to proceed with the evaluation and exploration of underground water in Costa Rica.

The report was delivered last week to Edgar Gutiérrez, environment and energy minister and Robin Matthewman, counselor minister at the United States Embassy.

According to the environmental ministry, this partnership will allow the country to have a more accurate perspective on the nature of underground waters, for example its spatial distribution, flow directions, confining conditions and recharge areas.

That data would allow a higher success rate on new drillings, which right now are carried out with obsolete information or just on a trial and error basis, the ministry said. Another benefit from the project is that it provides a strategy to manage groundwater resources in a way that minimizes the damage of droughts and climate change.

The evaluation will also provide a national ground water map, which will be useful for the local municipalities when they design their own regulatory plans.

To obtain the data, the project relies on a system called Watex, which feeds on information gathered by remote-sensing satellites. Some of them are Landsat and the Shuttle Radar Mission Terrain.

The United States Geological Survey was founded in 1879 and their areas of expertise are geology, hydrology, geography and biology. It belongs to the U.S. government, meaning that is services are provided at a real cost. Its work in Costa Rica is financed through the water-use fee paid by all private and public companies.

However, to continue with the project it is necessary for the Costa Rican legislature to approve an extraordinary budget for that matter. The talks are still going on at the legislative assembly.
 
"On a 14 months period, Costa Rica could have a digital mapping and assessment of aquifers, which is an investment and not an expense. It is an investment in our vital resource: water, "said José Zeledón, director of the Dirección General de Aguas at Ministerio.



Recyling in TEC
Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo        
Implementing division of waste is among the strategy.

University begins new green measures

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tecnológico de Costa Rica is making moves towards beginning measures and programs to reduce the impact of carbon emissions and also fulfill the country’s plan to be carbon-neutral by 2021.

To that end, the university is making an inventory that identifies any relevant changes in the areas of energy, fuels and waste as a means of reducing greenhouse gases emitted by the institution.

The results found that around 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide is generated at the institute’s headquarters. These were mostly being pumped into the atmosphere as a result of the electricity powering the facilities and the trash being thrown away. This amount is expected to be reduced with the upcoming projects.

According to the findings, student residences had the largest amount of waste generated at the university. To solve this, Tecnológico started a project of separating and dividing recyclable materials and compost from solid waste.

The university is also taking steps to use recycled batteries as a means of preserving fuel. Students with the Escuela de Ingeniería en Agronegocios are also treating organic wastes in the hopes of creating the solid foundation for a compost program.

The fleet for the university is also going to receive eight hybrid vehicles by the end of 2017, Tecnológico said. LED lights and motion detectors are also being acquired for installation in the facilities to save on electricity and energy usage. The administrative building for the headquarters of the institute also installed 96 solar panels on the roof for energy usage.

A statement by the university said that this will provide up to 40 percent of the electricity required by the main campus. Some of the property owned by the institute is being replanted with trees as well.


News from the Spanish-language press
Translated into English





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Water Monterreal goes beyond bottling for others to creating brand
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For Roy Vargas, exporting water was the next logical step after being blessed with a land that had a seemingly never-ending supply of the liquid.

He is so convinced that good luck is on his side that, at the beginning of May, he achieved to enter the United States market by sending 36,288 water bottles under his own brand called Water Monterreal.

He is not new to the business. Vargas has been working on the bottled water business for 10 years. He started out by bottling water for well known-brands and then moved to establish his own name in the business.

His company still bottles water for other brands but his company, Water Monterreal, is gaining momentum now.

“Our water sources are pristine and have a perfect combination of elements such as silicon, calcium, iron, sulfur and magnesium, which deliver us from the need of a purification process,” he explained.

 In fact, his product has been awarded with the first place in the Natural Mineral Water category, part of the International Tasting of Thermal Waters competition.

His property is located very close to Parque Nacional Juan Castro Blanco, in Ciudad Quesada, in the province of Alajuela.

It has 300 hectares and a 500 square meter plant with the potential to fill, label and pack up to 70,000 liters of water per day in 240 milliliter, 600 ml. and 900 ml. bottles.

Roy Vargas
Water Monterreal photo
Roy Vargas poses with some of his bottled water.

 "In addition to increasing our sales to United States, we want to enter the Chinese and European markets,” said Vargas. “We also seek to start the production and sale of natural beverages."

According to Vargas, the company is in process of constant training to give a boost to the brand at a national level and establish relationships with more clients in the international market.

"Roy Vargas realized that, in order to take his company to the next level, he needs more training in negotiation, on how to read the market and design a brand,” said Marco Alfaro, regional head of Procomer, the government agency in charge of supporting exporters.


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Geologists at Tortugal Suite in Costa Rica discover new facts on lava
By the Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University press staff


An international team of researchers led by geoscientists with the Virginia Tech College of Science recently discovered that deep portions of Earth’s mantle might be as hot as they were more than 2.5 billion years ago.

The study, led by Esteban Gazel, an assistant professor with Virginia Tech’s Department of Geosciences, and his doctoral student, Jarek Trela, is published in the latest issue of “Nature Geoscience.”

The study presents new, unprecedented evidence about the thermal evolution of the deep Earth during the past 2.5 billion years, Gazel said.

Gazel and a team made what they call an astonishing discovery while studying the chemistry of ancient Galapagos-related lava flows, preserved today in Central America: a suite of lavas that shows conditions of melting and crystallization similar to the mysterious Archean komatiites.

The group studied a set of rocks from the 90 million-year-old Tortugal Suite in Costa Rica and found that they had magnesium concentrations as high as Archean komatiites, as well as textural evidence for extremely hot lava flow temperatures.

The Archean Eon, covering from 2.5 to 4 billion years ago, is one of the most enigmatic times in the evolution of our planet, Gazel said.

During this time period, the temperature of Earth’s mantle, the silicate region between the crust and the outer core, was hotter than it is today, owing to a higher amount of radioactive heat produced from the decay of elements, such as potassium, thorium, and uranium.

Because Earth was hotter during this period, this interval of geologic time is marked by the widespread of occurrence of a unique rock known as komatiite.

“Komatiites are basically superhot versions of Hawaiian-style lava flows,” Gazel said.

“You can imagine a Hawaiian lava flow, only komatiites were so hot that they glowed white instead of red, and they flowed on a planetary surface with very different atmospheric conditions, more similar to Venus than the planet we live on today.”

Earth essentially stopped producing abundant hot komatiites after the Archean era because the mantle has cooled during the past 4.5 billion years due to convective cooling and a decrease in radioactive heat production, the findings said.

“Experimental studies tell us that that the magnesium concentration of basalts and komatiites is related to the initial temperature of the melt,” Gazel said. “The higher the temperature, the higher the magnesium content of a basalt.”

The team also studied the composition olivine, the first mineral that crystallized from these lavas.

Lava maps
Virginia Tech photo
X-rays at Tortugal Suite record extreme temperatures.

Olivine, a light green mineral that Gazel has obsessively explored many volcanoes and magmatic regions to search for, is an extremely useful tool to study a number of conditions related to origin of a lava flow because it is the first mineral phase that crystallizes when a mantle melt cools.

Olivines also carry inclusions of glass, that once was melt, and other smaller minerals that are helpful to decipher the secrets of the deep Earth.


The team found that Tortugal olivines crystallized at a temperature nearing 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit, as high as temperatures recorded by olivines from komatiites, making this a record on lava temperatures in the past 2.5 billion years.

Gazel and collaborators suggest in their study that Earth may still be capable of producing komatiite-like melts. Their results suggest that Tortugal lavas most likely originated from the hot core of the Galapagos mantle plume that started producing melts nearly 90 million years ago and has remained active ever since.

A mantle plume is a deep-Earth structure that likely originates at the core-mantle boundary of the planet. When it nears the surface of the planet, it begins to melt, forming features known as hotspots, such as those found in Hawaii or Galapagos. Geologists can then study these hotspot lava flows and use their geochemical information as a window into the deep Earth.

“What is really fascinating about this study is that we show that the planet is still capable of producing lavas as hot as during the Archean time period,” Gazel said.

“Based on our results from Tortugal lavas, we think that mantle plumes are ‘tapping’ a deep, hot region of the mantle that hasn’t cooled very much since the Archean. We think that this region is probably being sustained by heat from the crystallizing core of the planet.”

“Although the Tortugal Suite was first discovered and documented more than 20 years ago, it wasn’t until now that we have the technology and experimental support to better understand the global implications of this location," said Trela, the doctoral student and first author of the paper.



Vacation, travel and hospitality


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9214-8/2/17


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The Relocation/Retirement tour with the
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9218-8/25/17

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9118-6/26/17







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A.M. Costa Rica's
  
Fifth news page
Salsa Lizano
Published || Tuesday Edition, May 23, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 101
Calendar
Opinion
Classifieds
Real Estate
Lifestyle
Food
About us
 
Manchester bombing kills
at least 19 during concert


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

British police say at least 19 people were killed and 50 wounded in a massive explosion Monday night outside a concert arena in Manchester, England.

"We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we have further information," said Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police.

Hopkins said the blast happened at the conclusion of a concert by American pop star Ariana Grande, and that local police were coordinating with national counterterrorism and intelligence authorities.

"Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so, so sorry," Ms. Grande wrote on Twitter after the blast.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said her thoughts are with the victims of what she called an appalling terrorist attack.

The explosion took place in the lobby of the 21,000 seat Manchester Arena, which is the largest indoor venue in Europe.

Police later conducted a precautionary controlled explosion near the arena, but said that object turned out to be an item of clothing and not anything suspicious.

Video from the concert showed thousands of concertgoers scrambling and screaming, trying to escape the building. The incident caused transport chaos, with traffic jams outside the venue and rail services being cancelled.

A number of audience members were seen walking around the building covered in blood.

Many in the audience were young girls who are fans of Ms. Grande, a singer and actress who has appeared in TV and film roles. A spokesman for her record label said the singer is ok.

While no one reported seeing any smoke, some say the ground near the blast was covered with nuts and bolts. Abandoned shoes, phones and jackets were scattered throughout the arena.

Worried parents who brought their children to the show crowded the streets outside the building. A nearby hotel opened its doors to the kids looking for their mothers and fathers. Cab drivers turned off their meters and offered to drive people from the ill-fated concert to wherever they want to go.

Britain's terrorism alert level is at severe, the second highest on the scale. Terrorism officials are meeting in London.

Ms. Grande's "Dangerous Woman Tour" is to support her third studio album, Dangerous Woman. The tour began on February 3 in Phoenix, Arizona. From Manchester, the tour is to move through Europe, including Belgium, Poland, Germany, Switzerland and France, through the summer with a stop in Costa Rica on July 9 at the Coca-Cola amphitheater of Parque Viva.


Medical people join protests
in Venezuela capital Monday


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Doctors and medical students took to the streets of Venezuela's capital Monday, the latest in a series of ongoing and increasingly violent street demonstrations, following protests over the weekend in which one man was set on fire.

The protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro have claimed 48 lives since they began more than six weeks ago, including supporters on both sides, bystanders and security personnel.

Witnesses say a man was doused with gasoline and set on fire at a protest in Caracas on Saturday. Some witnesses say the man was targeted because he was trying to steal from the protesters, while Maduro says the man was singled out because he supports the government.

Video shows the man running through the crowd engulfed in flames.

Maduro said the 21-year-old man was hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns over much of his body, and also suffered from stab wounds.

Fresh clashes broke out Monday in Caracas between police and protesters who blocked streets with barricades.

Authorities also launched tear gas against doctors and medical students who tried to march to the health ministry. The demonstrators are protesting a shortage of medical supplies and are demanding the government open up a foreign humanitarian channel to supply medicine and food to the country.

Venezuela is in the fourth year of a recession caused by a collapse in crucial oil exports that has led to widespread shortages of basic goods, including food and medicine.

Maduro is resisting pressure to hold early elections, calling the economic crisis a U.S.-backed conspiracy. Opponents of Maduro blame his socialist policies for the crisis.


Scandal-ridden Fox slapped
with three more legal suits


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

New sexual harassment and racial discrimination lawsuits are rocking the already scandal riddled Fox News Channel.

Three new lawsuits were filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Two allege racial harassment at Fox News, while a third alleges sexual harassment at Fox News Radio.

The cases increase to 23 the number of past or present Fox employees represented by attorney Doug Wigdor, the majority having cases alleging racial hostility by a since-fired financial executive. Fox said Monday that the lawsuits have no legal basis.

Kathleen Lee, a Fox News Radio employee of more than 10 years, alleges that radio anchor Ron Flatter subjected her to unrelenting sexual harassment after the network hired him in 2013.

A former Fox employee, Adasa Blanco, said she alerted Fox executives about racially hostile behavior on the part of former Fox controller Judith Slater more than eight years before the executive was let go. Ms. Slater has denied charges of racially hostile conduct. Ms. Blanco, who is Hispanic, said that Ms Slater made fun of her accent.

In the lawsuit, Wigdor said Fox knowingly harbored and protected a racist employee for more than eight years and misrepresented to the public that it fired Slater quickly upon learning of her behavior.

Naima Farrow, another former Fox employee who worked for Ms. Slater, said she was fired without warning or explanation in 2015, less than three days after telling superiors she was pregnant. Ms. Farrow, who is black, said Ms. Slater mockingly referred to her as girlfriend.

Fox News said in a statement that it is committed to a diverse workplace free from discrimination, and takes any complaint seriously. In these cases, Fox took prompt, effective and, when necessary, strong remedial action, the network said. “We believe these latest claims are without legal basis and look forward to proving that the company at all times has acted appropriately, and lawfully, in connection with these matters.”

The new legal claims come as Fox News is battling a series of lawsuits that led to the resignations of former chief executive Roger Ailes, who died last week, star anchor Bill O'Reilly and network co-president Bill Shine.

Wigdor said he also is representing an unidentified black information technology employee who was subjected to racially insensitive remarks by Bob Beckel, an on-air host who was fired last week, days after the worker complained.


Leaked documents reveal
what Facebook allows


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Leaked Facebook documents reveal the company walks a fine line between free speech and violent or hateful content.

The Guardian newspaper says it obtained the more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts outlining how the social media giant decides what content can stay and what gets taken down.

According to the documents, Facebook does allows certain posts that contain violent language. For example, it’s OK to post “let’s beat up fat kids,” but prohibited to post “someone shoot Trump.”

"People commonly express disdain or disagreement by threatening or calling for violence in generally facetious and unserious ways," reads one of the documents.

The company does not censor images showing non-sexual physical abuse or bullying of children so long as there is not a sadistic or celebratory element. Live streams of people harming themselves is also allowed, the documents say because Facebook doesn’t want to censor or punish people in distress.

A Facebook representative said the company’s top priority is keeping users safe.

"We work hard to make Facebook as safe as possible while enabling free speech," said Monica Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management. "This requires a lot of thought into detailed and often difficult questions, and getting it right is something we take very seriously."

Facebook has been under increased pressure to prevent violent content from appearing, as a stream of violent videos have been allowed to stay on the site for hours before being deleted.

One particularly gruesome video showed the brutal murder of Cleveland grandfather Robert Godwin in a crime posted on Facebook Live.

The company recently hired 3,000 more humans to help curb objectionable material, and The Guardian documents reveal the moderators are overwhelmed with requests to review material.

“These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don't allow on Facebook, like hate speech and child exploitation, “ Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post about the hiring. “And we'll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it - either because they're about to harm themselves, or because they're in danger from someone else.”

The company also employs algorithms to mark objectionable content.

Facebook also faces criticism when it does take down material deemed offensive.


U.S. Supreme Court finds
voting districts to be illegal


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina placed too much of an emphasis on race when two congressional districts were created in 2011. The move upholds a lower court decision from February.

In its decision, the high court said too many African-Americans were placed in those two Democratic districts in an improper effort to dilute their political strength elsewhere in the state and protect Republican congressional seats.

The state had argued it was acting in accordance with the Voting Rights Act, but Justice Elena Kagan, in writing for the majority, said North Carolina did not offer compelling reasons to justify its reliance on race in either district.

She said the state's arguments do not withstand strict scrutiny. New U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was not on the bench when the court heard arguments in the case last year and did not participate in the decision.

The court ruled unanimously in the case of one of the districts, located in the northeastern part of the state. Justice Kagan said the court will not approve a racial gerrymander whose necessity is supported by no evidence.

The court's decision on the other district was split 5-3, with three conservative justices dissenting.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People accused Republicans of packing African-American voters into what the civil rights organization described as apartheid voting districts to weaken their clout.


Gov. Branstad confirmed
as ambassador to China


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the next ambassador to China.

The confirmation came by a bipartisan vote of 82 to 13 Monday, with all 13 of the votes against the Republican president's nominee coming from Democrats.

Washington has been trying to persuade China to agree to new sanctions on Pyongyang, which has conducted dozens of missile firings and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of 2016.

President Donald Trump has warned that a major conflict with North Korea is possible over its weapons programs, although U.S. officials say tougher sanctions, not military force, are the preferred option.

Branstad said he intends to use his decades-long relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping to advance U.S. and international interests. The two met in 1985 when Xi, then a provincial official, led an agricultural trade delegation to Iowa.

Xi has called Branstad, 70, an old friend after decades of dealings on agricultural trade during his long career in politics in Iowa, an important farming state.

Branstad is in his sixth nonconsecutive term as Iowa's governor. With more than 22 years at the helm of state government, he is the country's longest-serving governor. He is due to be replaced in Des Moines by Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, who would be the state's first female governor.


Fruit juice consumption
discouraged for children


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Children younger than one should drink breast milk or formula, and should only drink fruit juice if advised by a doctor, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The organization made the recommendation in the journal “Pediatrics” amid concerns about rising childhood obesity and tooth decay.

This is the first time since 2001 that the doctors' group has reviewed its recommendation on fruit juice, which is a leading source of dietary sugar.

Between the ages of one and four, young children should consume no more than 118 milliliters of fruit juice, the doctors' group says. The academy recommends that children between the ages of four and six restrict their juice intake to no more than 177 milliliters a day, while children between seven and 18 should limit their fruit juice consumption to 236 milliliters.

The new guidelines recognize that 100 percent natural and reconstituted juice can be a healthy part of a child's diet. However, the group said juice should count for no more than one of the two to two-and-a-half recommended servings of fruit per day.

If fruit juice is given to young children, the academy discourages parents from putting it in a bottle or sippy cup, which may be in a child's mouth all day, promoting cavities. Instead, it's recommended that the juice be consumed all at once in a cup.

The group had previously recommended that parents wait until a child is six months old before introducing fruit juice to the diet. However, in light of the growing rates of obesity and other negative health effects, the American Academy of Pediatrics revisited the recommendation.

Juice is a frequent beverage of choice among U.S. teenagers and children, who experts say would rather drink it than water.

Steven Abrams, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, and co-author of the policy statement, said there was nothing magical about the academy's revised recommendation.

Dell said the group simply saw no need or beneficial role for juice in very young children.


Trump is first president
to visit the Western Wall


By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

U.S. President Donald Trump touched the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, the first visit at the Jewish holy site by a serving American leader, and one that is steeped in the centuries-old conflicts of the Middle East.

Trump, a Christian wearing a black yarmulke, walked alone to the massive stone wall after hearing a brief history of the holiest site in Judaism. He placed his right hand on the wall for about 30 seconds and then, as is custom, tucked a small prayer note into a crevice.

Later, Trump said he was deeply moved by the experience.

The U.S. leader made his brief stop at the Western Wall unaccompanied by Israeli leaders, even though they welcomed the visit and the Western Wall is a site where Jews pray.

The people of Israel applaud you for visiting the Western Wall, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Trump at the end of a day of meetings and ceremonies.

Trump's visit was ensnared in the history of Jerusalem and the unending disputes between Israel and the Palestinians over boundary lines if the two sides are ever to reach a peace accord with creation of a Palestinian state alongside that of the Jewish state.

In planning for Trump's visit to Israel, the U.S. delegation rejected a request that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accompany him to the Western Wall, telling the Israelis it is not their territory. It's part of the West Bank, part of lands that Israel annexed in the Six-Day War in 1967.

The future status of Jerusalem is one of the major unresolved issues in whether the Israelis and Palestinians can reach a two-state solution. Israel considers Jerusalem as its capital, although the international community does not recognize it as such and foreign embassies are located in Tel Aviv.

The Palestinians, if an independent Palestinian state is created, want to claim east Jerusalem as their capital.

Trump, during his run for the White House, said he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, but has since backed off that pledge.

The Western Wall is the outer wall of what Jews call the Temple Mount, the last remnant of the second Jewish temple, built by King Herod and destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Muslims call the same compound al-Haram al-Sharif, home to the al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Jewish worshippers visit and pray at the Western Wall, while Muslims visit and pray at the mosque above the wall.

With no controversy, Trump also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was crucified and buried in a tomb.

On his nine-day trip, Trump has noted that he is visiting lands where Muslims, Jews and Christians celebrate their founding beliefs, first stopping in Saudi Arabia, then Israel before heading to the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis, leader of the world's Roman Catholics.


More news of the Americas
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9220-8/15/17


Santiago de Puriscal
A little piece of paradise near Santiago de Puriscal,
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16 acres (approximately).  Price: $425,000 USD

We are selling our beautiful finca that has been in the family for 37 years. It is located 3 miles (5 km.) northwest of Santiago de Puriscal in the village of Desamparaditos. We are looking for a discriminating buyer who would appreciate the location, views, flora and fauna. Excellent for artists, writers and nature lovers. Fantastic birding. Very private but not isolated. Have surveyed plans for possible subdividing.

For more information:  In the U.S.A. call the owners: Pete & Debbie Todd: 970 -221-1457 or 970-581-4826 or email toddscolorado@gmail.com. In Costa Rica call Liz Guegan at 506-7187-8577.
CODE: 9216-8/11/17


Puriscal home
GORGEOUS MOUNTAIN & OCEAN VIEW HOME
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This is a gorgeous, new, 3-bedroom luxury home on 2.2 flat acres in a secure, gated community, high in the hills of Puriscal, with stunning, 180-degree views of the ocean, city and mountains of the Central Valley in Costa Rica. Centrally located in the heart of Costa Rica, you are never more than an hour from the Pacific beaches while being much less than that to the culture, shopping, services and night life of the San José, Escazú, Santa Ana and the whole Central Valley. The Altos de Antigua gated community sits at an altitude of 2,800 feet with mild temperatures year round. Features wide paved roads and cement culverts throughout, a large community pool & spa with changing rooms & showers. The community association fees are $42 a month ($500 annually).
This property is currently being offered for $355,000.00 U.S.
Purchase adjoining 2.2 acre investment lot with the home sale for $35,000.00 U.S. or separately for $55,000.00 U.S.
 
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       * Completed 2012 to North American standards
       * 3 large bedrooms, 2 full baths
       * Custom designed kitchen w/granite countertops
       * Frigidaire Professional appliance package
       * State-of-the-art solar hot water
       * Eco-friendly Toshiba LED lighting
       * LG Multi-Split air conditioning system
       * House & perimeter security alarm system
       * 2-car closed garage w/large paved driveway
 
Video Tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUEAmahIU9A
Community Web Site: http://www.altigua.com
Photos: HERE!
Costa Rica # 506-8985-6705 or from the States call # 561-740-0651 or email gary_one@msn.com
9173-9/1/17

colinasdelsol
COLINAS DEL SOL Fenced Gated Lots for Sale

* Colinas del Sol is a fenced and gated project  in a quiet area.
* There are 88 clear titled lots.
* Mountain areas with great views.
* Gently sloping level areas ideal for hobby farms, gardening, fruit trees.
* Quiet place to get away from the busy city and beach crowds.
* All lots have gravel roads to them, water and electricity at each.
* Lots are 5,000 sq. meters or larger, starting at only $40,000 USD
* Located in Libertad, Guanacaste, northwest Pacific area of Costa Rica.
* 20 minutes to the Liberia International Airport
* 15 minutes to the Pacific Beaches
* 10 minutes to Medical Facilities
* 25 minutes to the Liberia Hospital
* 5 minutes to Vista Ridge Golf Club

Contact:
In Costa Rica, Jeffrey Sandi Murray:  jsandimurray@colinasdelsolcr.com
In the USA and Canada contact Jim Day: jimday50@aol.com or call 517-484-3675

For more information Click Here: www.colinasdelsolcr.com
9056-2/28/17

Etlinger Farm
rollover
Beautiful farm in excellent location
At only an hour's drive from San José, minutes from Guápiles, and boardering Braulio Carrillo National Park, Etlingera Farms is one heck of an amazing farm. We purchased this 77-acre farm 10 years ago after many trips, and an exhaustive search. It has a little bit of everything we were looking for and a whole lot of beauty. Our average elevation of 600 meters helps to keep Bella Vista cool year round. This farm is nearly level with a semi-modern 2-bedroom house. A fairly rustic 2-bedroom caretaker's home. And, a comfortable, 1-bedroom cabin where we stay. We have 2 large barns, a chicken coop, and a 3-stall pig pen. There are two tilapia ponds and 2 hectarias, (approximately 5 acres) of different species of bananas. The property boarders Rio Blanco in the rear and has 300 meters of public road frontage. Water, electricity, and telephone are all serviced by public utility. Etlingera Farms was reforested with several thousand wood trees of different tropical varieties. We truly believe this farm is spectacular. Our neighbors are selling for as much as $20 per meter. We are negotiable, motivated and open to offers. Our location can be found by searching Etlingera Farms on Google Maps. Our webpage is www.etlingerafarms.com and photo album can be found at www.ticorico.com
9196-4/25/17

horse ranch
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Spectacular Horse Ranch and Spiritual/Yoga
Retreat Center For Sale

We invite you to a horseback tour of 187 acres of pristine farm land with breathtaking vistas, including the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya. There are multiple springs and streams, wooded areas, hard-wood and fruit trees, rolling hills with a geat variety of birds and wildlife. This property boasts the privilege of being bordered by thousands of acres of forest preserve down a steep canyon, offering its own spectacular views, which will never be developed. The many hills provide a builder an endless array of possibilities for nestling buildings in where they will have both views and privacy. The elevation of the property at 1,200 to1600 feet above sea level ensures fresh breezes and ideal year-round temperatures with a day-time average in the low 80's for open-air living. There is a ranch-style house with guest house with 8 total bedrooms, 5 modern baths, huge eat-in kitchen, landmark palm-thatched giant rancho, stable, and storage buildings. The home will come partially furnished, including beds, ample dishware for large groups, housewares, linens, washer/dryer, and fine hard-wood hand-built cabinetry. The remaining horses, 4 to 6 of them, will also convey if one wishes. We are also including a LARGE BEACH LOT in nearby Playa Bejuco. San Rafael de Nandayure is a tiny rural village nestled into the mountainside above Carmona with all the charms of the simple good life of a BLUE ZONE. Carmona is a thriving town with a clinic, restaurfants, shopping, and everything else one may need. The price of our listing Rancho Ricco is $799,000. More information
go to www.ranchforsalecostarica.com  Call Darin Ricco, phone +619-846-8249 or email:  darin_ricco@hotmail.com
9183-6/13/17

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Owner Financing in San Ramon
New Construction, and Ocean View 
Brand new home with 4-plus bedrooms and 3 baths all overlooking an incredible 180-degree view of the Pacific Ocean and mountains. Located only 45 minutes from the San Jose airport and about the same to the Pacific Ocean.  The lower level could be used as a separate apartment or mother-in-law setup. Home includes HUGE master  suite, CLOSETS, custom cabinets, granite counter tops, high wood ceilings, and all in an area that is 70-80 degrees year round. Priced at $199,000. Completion date is January.  See the Virtual Tour CLICK HERE or see our site here  www.whynotcostarica.com. If you would like to take a look at this amazing house, please give me a call at  Costa Rica # 506-8755-6743 or if from the States call # 509-570-1928 or email tim@whynotcostarica.com 
9143-2/3/17

Penthouse
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Costa Rica penthouse for sale
 5 -story penthouse for sale.  One of a kind penthouse on top of the Corobici Hotel in Sabana overlooking the Central Park and new Soccer Stadium in San José.  Excellent location provides you easy access to everywhere.  Other benefits include 24-hour security, 2 restaurants inside the hotel providing 1st class room service plus shared common areas in the hotel. Commercial license is in place. Seller will consider owner financing.  Asking $795K U.S.  Also available for monthly rent for $3,400 per month on an annual basis. Go to www.ThePenthouseCostaRica.com  Owners U.S. cell phone: 813 310-7402  Email crstratton@ymail.com
9132-6/1/17

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: manager@crbusiness.biz.

Real estate brokers and agents (paid category)

CENTURY 21 JACÓ BEACH REALTY
Century 21

A Name You Trust,
Professionalism You Deserve
Tom Ghormley and the dream team!
Owner/Broker
in CR since 1979

Buying? Selling? Renting?
We Can Do It!
Let us help you live your dreams!
Beachfront, Views, Mountains,
Beaches, Houses, Condos,
Hotels, Restaurants, Projects,
Commercial, Investments and more

 Century 21 Jacó Beach Realty
Playa Jacó, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
U. S. A. phone numbers:  (213) 283-5168 
or Toll Free: (877) 746-3868
Costa Rica phone number: (506) 2643-3356
Email: info@c21jaco.com
Web: www.c21jaco.com
9215-3/22/18


Remax
Tamarindo
www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com The experts in buying property in Costa Rica, with more than 20 years experience and the largest networked team of agents in the country.  We can help you learn if investing in Costa Rica is right for you with our low-key, educational approach to sales. Our professional agents can tell you more about Costa Rica properties, including condos, homes, lots and & commercial real estate. Twelve (12) agents to serve you, from Playa Marbella to Playa Dante in the Guanacaste, through our Tamarindo and Flamingo offices. For more information, please contact our local phones: 506-2653-0073 Tamarindo / 506-2201-9056 Flamingo ~ Toll Free: 1-866-976-8898 or email:  info@remax-oceansurf-cr.com  or click here www.remax-oceansurf-cr.com
9145-1/2918


ReMax
Playas del Coco
We are an award-winning Team of Professional Agents working with Costa Rica’s #1 Selling Real Estate Agency RE/MAX Prestige Ocean Properties. Get to KNOW, LIKE & TRUST us and let us help you find YOUR Pura Vida! We have over 30 years of experience to educate our buyers and sellers in all aspects of Real Estate.  For Information on condos, homes, lots, farms, ranches, commercial or development property
CONTACT US TODAY with NO OBLIGATION whatsoever.

Playas del Coco Click Here!

Playa Panama Click Here!

Playa Hermosa Click Here!
Peninsula Papagayo Click Here!

Playa Matapalo Click Here!
Toll Free 1-877-293-1456
Email: michael@costarica-realestate.com

9174-2/7/18

Real estate-related services (paid category)

A-1 graphic
A1 MASTER BUILDERS COSTA RICA
SMALL and LARGER jobs welcome !!!. We can build from any plan you bring us all work done by USA codes master electric and plumbing Better quality and lower prices than USA. We do it all Right  + Reasonable.
Call us: Toll Free 877-778-8515   
     Text from US: 804-313-6382 
     CR phone: 506-8307-0164
     Email: hotelescazu@aol.com
     For more info also see our sites:
    www.a1masterbuildercostarica.webs.com
    www.hotelsescazu.com
    www.hotel4salecostarica.com
    www.wind-solar.webs.com 
9142-7/27/17
Related

Browse timeshares for sale and rent by owner in Costa Rica at bargain prices. We connect existing timeshare owners with those looking to buy or rent a timeshare on the resale market. Timeshares on the resale market are up to 50% cheaper than those sold through the resort. Already own a timeshare and looking to sell? Stop saying “sell my timeshare” and let BuyaTimeshare.com help you find a buyer or renter.
9203-4/19/2018

COSTA RICA SOLAR
solar one

solar two
NOW with the New Power Company Regulations, we're installing photo voltaic systems for solar electricity.
PV systems: we use Enphase micro-inverters. More flexible. Add panels whenever you like. More reliable than any other system and fully guaranteed!

Solar device
NOW is the time to install our new super-efficient solar hot water! New model for condos
Solar collector
BUY NOW! Your solar hot water system, so in three months, we can calculate a lower install price for your PV system.  Perfect for homes and hotels. Save up to 40% of your electric bill.
More Watts per Panel, Smarter and more Capable Enphase Micro Inverters mean Less Cost and more Flexibility for You.

    We aren't Cheap...Neither are our Products. Call to Compare.
    More Flexible, Reliable-and Fully Guaranteed!

    Push this BIG RED BUTTON:  (O) and Learn ​details about your deal with ICE     
    SEE our new PACKAGE DEALS.
Solar logo
CALL TODAY!
Office: 506-2446-0543
Andre 506-8314-8090
Paul 506-8898-9398
OUR EMAIL:
 andrefurlong@gmail.com
Paul.Furlong@CR-Solar.com
VISIT OUR WEB:
www.crsolar.net 
9177-6/19/16



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A.M.
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Published || Tuesday Edition, May 23, 2017 || Vol. 17, No. 101
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Prisoners win agricultural award

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Madre Tierra agriculture project, which was developed by prisoners at the detention center in Cartago, were awarded the ecological blue flag for agriculture Monday.


The Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería’s award is part of a program highlighting pioneering work implemented in 14 different categories across agriculture, livestock or ecological issues as well. The prisoners at the Centro de Atención Jorge Debravo worked for a year and a half to produce food without the use of chemicals, according to a statement by the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz.

However, during the tribute, he highlighted the pioneering work that was implemented in the penitentiary center, for a year and a half, for its results from the social point of view and the production of food without the use of chemicals.

The head of the justice ministry, Cecilia Sánchez congratulated the prisoners. "I am proud to accompany you because you made a huge effort to carry out a food production project with all the limitations of a criminal center. Your effort has been invaluable, "she said.

The prisoners began the project with the support of agronomist Álvaro Chaves that eventually grew to include 30 other prisoners. Using a piece of equipment from the Instituto de Acueductos y Alcantarillados, the prisoners created a biological form of pest and disease control using the compost from vegetables and food, the justice ministry said.

The prisoners said that they made a micro-tunnel for hydroponics, or growing plants without soil by using a nutrient solution in a water solvent. They also cultivated earthworms to use as a natural fertilizer.


Heavy downpours hurting hospital

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials from the Costa Rican social security fund are growing more and more concerned with each heavy downpour that pummels the Hospital Nacional de Niños in San José.

The hospital experienced some severe flooding last week that left many areas in a state of disrepair. According to Gabriela Murillo Jenkins, an architect and manager of infrastructure for the Caja Costarricense del Seguro Social, there has been various works done to avoid flooding but the problem lies in the drainage system for the hospital.

While simulations have been performed and a system of metal gates installed as a sort of watertight compartment door, there are serious problems in the accumulation of water resulting from the Lantisco stream that crosses the area. Ms. Murillo said that future problems could arise in the permanent damage of equipment such as the tomograph and angiograph as well as the ability to provide care to patients and contamination issues.

“We call upon the Municipalida de San José to find a solution in the short term,” Ms. Murillo said. “The most serious is that it increases the risk of damages that could involve very high costs in equipment repairs and of infrastructure.”


World Bank selects Costa Rica for hydroelectric sustainability help

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The World Bank has selected the Costa Rican electricity institute to help implement a hydroelectricity sustainability evaluation.

This is part of the Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Revantazón designed by the International Association of Hydroelectricity. The idea is to design a tool for assessing the sustainability for developing and operating more hydroelectricity, according to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

The World Bank chose the British firm, Golder Associates, to apply and measure the level of compliance as well as performance in project management plans in economic, social and environmental issues. The first mission is expected to take place all this week with today being the official launch of the evaluation, the group said.

The Better Hydro Compendium of Case Studies, developed jointly by the World Bank and the International Association of Hydroelectricity, chose the institute’s project as one of six successful examples in managing hydroelectric projects. The compendium highlighted the water compensation program of the institute as one of the continent’s most innovative, a statement from ICE said.

It is expected that the final evaluation and its findings are presented in September during a Latin American seminar by the World Bank held in Colombia, the institute said.


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From page 7:

Finance remains uneasy despite April results

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Stable but with a sense of growing unease is the phrase that could be used to describe the latest statement from the Costa Rican finance ministry released Monday.

According to the Ministerio de Hacienda, the fiscal results up to April of this year show stability in comparison to last year but the accelerated debt growth complicate the country’s outlook. Money gained from taxes accumulated to a growth rate of about 7.2 percent with income and earnings also growing to 13.3 percent. The latter’s growth also aided in the increase in revenues of taxes.

Meanwhile, investment showed an increase of 45.6 percent in comparison to April 2016’s report that showed a decrease by almost 34 percent, Hacienda said. Additionally, interest payments slowed to increase by about ten percent and the total financial deficit constituted 1.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, the ministry said.

Still, however, the first vice president and finance minister, Helio Fallas, said that administrative actions to improve the fiscal situation are not enough to save the country from a ballooning debt situation.

“The different votes and resolutions of the Sala Constitucional and Sala IV, with respect to the increase in resources to both PANI and education, do not consider the fiscal effects generated by their fulfillment,” the finance ministry said.

The assumption is is that the increase in expenditures would require the government to finance them by borrowing more money and accumulating even more debt.

“The fiscal deficit will continue to grow as a result of the accelerated increase in debt and the unavoidable obligations that we have to fulfill as a government,” Fallas said.

“As a country we must solve the growing public debt with the modernization of tax laws, so that public finances can recover gradually, and in the future, we would have a deficit and a debt that does not threaten the development of the country."