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(506) 2223-1327                                 Published Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Vol. 14, No. 229                      Email us
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Some supermarkets found to lack truthfulness
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Supermarkets in Costa Rica may be faster and
looser than expats became accustomed in their home countries.

The consumer section of the economics ministry in its most recent foray into retail found short weights, trick pricing and special promotion where the shopper would end up paying more.

A related study showed that a shopping cart with 51 products suitable for a typical family ranged in price from 99,553 colons to 124,518 colons for a difference of 24,965
shopping cart
colons. In dollars that is $183.34 to $229.32 with a difference of $45.98.

A supermarket trick that is seen repeatedly and verified by the Dirección de Apoyo al Consumidor survey puts together two identical products and
then prices the pair higher than if the shopper purchased the two items separately.

The survey report said that some stores showed lack of respect for clarity and truthfulness by offering products with commercial messages promising discounts or savings that the consumer was not able to verify at the store.

In reporting the results of the survey, the  Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio said it set up a program with the Laboratorio Costarricense de Metrología to verify the net contents of packaged products.

In the first set of 21 samples, the laboratory found one product that was short weight, the consumer office said.

The initial study about promotions and the store prices involved 12 supermarkets, including eight chain stores and four independents. The study of the shopping cart prices involved 51 supermarkets in San José, Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Puntarenas, Limón and Guanacaste.

The ministry said that the report from its consumer branch can be found on its Web site and that consumers can file complaints online, too.

Photos courtesy of a reader
Police keep order while former employees post demands for pay at the Hotel Europa
Expat investors wonder what Milanes will do next
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Expats and others who believe they have been defrauded by Luis Milanes Tamayo have been trying to get the Cuban-American to vacate the Europa Hotel in downtown San José.

The hotel was part of the real estate Milanes put up as a partial settlement in his fraud case. He has been living there and also had one of his casinos on the first floor.

A trust that is involved in the complex arrangement has been pushing for eviction. Still, there was a surprise Monday when Milanes abruptly closed the casino in the Hotel Europa and also a separate Europa Casino in the Hotel Radisson in northern San José.

Some expats believe that Milanes already has turned two other casinos over to Venezuelan investors and may not be around for a criminal trial scheduled for next year.

The investor's trust was getting about $13,000 a month rent for the Hotel Europa casino, but their goal is to sell the property. Milanes has a reputation of interpreting his leases in his favor, and one investor said that the casino owner
stopped paying the rental charge about three months ago when he was faced with a demand to vacate.

The hotel and other properties were put up by Milanes in an effort to settle the criminal claims.

He is the former owner of Savings Unlimited, a high-interest operation that paid clients up to 3 percent a month. Milanes closed down the operation in the Edificio Colon 12 years ago this month and vanished.

Some of the former employees of the casino were downtown Tuesday posting signs demanding the mandatory Christmas bonus and whatever pay and benefits they have earned. Police were there for crowd control. Some employees complained to reporters 12 years ago that they had been stiffed.

Milanes has a Teflon reputation. When he returned to Costa Rica in June 2008. It appeared then that he had made some kind of deal because he spent just a night in jail. Some expats point out that Milanes is surrounded by bodyguards who carry machine pistols that may not be legal in Costa Rica.  In addition, the lucrative casinos operated by Milanes never were part of the criminal court case. And investors have been on a judicial roller coaster as Milanes made sophisticated use of the courts.

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Toll Free: 1-888-782-1119 or  2643-4334, 2643-3672
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Road tax values being questioned

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About 70 percent of the annual marchamo is taxes. And it is the Ministerio de Hacienda that approves the formula that assesses the value of each motor vehicle or other craft that is subject to the tax.

Tuesday the ministry issued a statement defending its calculations. It said the formula has been reviewed by the Escuela de Estadística de la Universidad de Costa Rica and was fixed by law.

The taxes also are levied on boats and aircraft. The rate ranged from 1.2 to 3.5 percent of assessed value.

However, there is growing concern that the valuations are out of step with real market value.

The ministry had an answer for that, too.

If anyone believed that the assessed value of the vehicle is incorrect, there is a way to seek a change. The vehicle owner has to argue the case by using copies of classified advertising and similar evidence. Most will not because there is a lot of paperwork involved.

The situation has caught the attention of some lawmakers and those in the vehicle trade.

President's comment irks lawmakers

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Lawmakers have taken issue with the president's hope that development in the southwestern part of the country will not repeat the errors of the development model of Guanacaste.

The president, Luis Guillermo Solís, made that statement when he visited the new museum for the stone spheres in Osa last week.  It appears he also said that on a twitter feed.

Marta Arauz Mora, a Liberación Nacional lawmaker, protested Tuesday and said that the presidential Web site is generating information indicating that it does not want foreigners to come and enjoy themselves in the country's beauty and culture.

Another lawmaker, Johnny Leiva Badill, said the central government was failing to provide leadership for Guanacaste development and tourism.

Retired professor died in crash

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

An 81-year-old retired university professor died in a one-vehicle crash near the Cañal Blancal bridge in Herradura Monday afternoon.

He was identified as William A. Bussing, who was a U.S. citizen despite years of living here. A Costa Rican who knew him said that the Universidad de Costa Rica retiree considered Costa Rica his second country. He had been here for many years.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that Bussing was a passenger in a vehicle that skidded and struck a retaining barrier and utility pole. The driver was unhurt, the agency said.

Bussing was a leading ichthyologist and had written extensively about fish. He was a member of the Academia Nacional de Ciencias.

Bussing was a 1965 graduate of the University of Southern California with a master's degree in taxonomy and ichthyology. He began teaching here in 1962 and retired in 1991.

He published a number of books and academic articles in English and Spanish on the topic and reported on the discovery of new species

General Cañas work calls for closures

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Compañía Nacional de Fuerza y Luz said Monday that its employees will start painting the utility poles in the median of the General Cañas highway Nov. 24.  The work is expected to last until Jan. 15.

As a result the inside lanes of the highway will be closed in places, said the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes.

The work will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. seven days a week. The break in the daytime will accommodate the morning and evening rush hour.

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Dispute over sovereignty heating up along the Río San Juan
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The government has accused Nicaragua of entering Costa Rica and cutting some trees there. This is a continuation of the prolonged Río San Juan situation.

Casa Presidencial released photos showing a boat and its crew working along the Costa Rican border and workmen cutting brush and logs. The border between the two countries is the south bank of the river for most of its distance.

Earlier this week the government said that dredging in the river was undermining the Costa Rican bank.

The International Court of Justice has yet to make a finding in the 2010 case where Nicaragua soldiers invaded Isla Calero in far northeast Costa Rica and tried to dig a channel to the Caribbean. Since then there have been periodic provocations by the Nicaraguans.

Officials said that Fuerza Pública officers are now under orders to detain anyone who sets foot on Costa Rican soil without the legal right to do so. It was the Fuerza Pública that discovered the latest activity.

Costa Rican officials also said they alerted the International Court of Justice to the situation and served a diplomatic note on Nicaragua.

The Nicaraguan workers were quoted as saying they were cleaning the river.

In the legislature members of the Partido Liberación Nacional said that the government should continue constructing the roadway along the south bank of the river.
ssn jaun river
Casa Presidencial photo
Police officer confronts workmen along the river's south bank

The project was mired in corruption during the Laura Chinchilla presidency, but it did bring some public utilities to isolated communities along the river.  Until the road way was built, residents could only use the river for transportation, and sometimes they were harassed by Nicaraguan soldiers.

Nicaragua appears to be seeking access to the Caribbean for development along its side of the river. Much of the channel mouth is silted up.

More agencies try to defend their 2015 budgets from lawmakers
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Supporters of the cultural ministry were marching Tuesday to urge lawmakers to restore budget cuts.

Today the minister of  Justicia y Paz, Cristina Ramírez Chavarría, is expected to outline the damage budget cuts will do to her agency. She supervises prisons and the Registro Nacional, among others.

The opposition Partido Liberación Nacional pointed out Tuesday that the reduced 2015 budget still is 11.7 percent when corrected for inflation and higher than the previous year

The budget is supposed to be approved by Nov. 30, and as that date
approaches more government agencies will be lobbying for their budget. University students are expected to do so again soon.

Supporters of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud, noted that the budget already was reduced before a legislative committee got a hold of the document. It was there that a 3.8 percent overall cut was made before the document was sent to the floor.

Elizabeth Fonseca, the culture minister, said that if the cuts were maintained her ministry would not be able to continue with a plan of decentralization.

The Poder Judicial said Monday that it has appealed its proposed budget to the Sala IV constitutional court.

You need to see Costa Rican tourism information HERE!

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Study rules out climate change for Bronze Age population decline
By the University of Bradford news service

Scientists will have to find alternative explanations for a huge population collapse in Europe at the end of the Bronze Age as researchers prove definitively that climate change, commonly assumed to be responsible, could not have been the culprit.

Archaeologists and environmental scientists from the University of Bradford, University of Leeds, University College Cork, Ireland, and Queen's University Belfast have shown that the changes in climate that scientists believed to coincide with the fall in population in fact occurred at least two generations later.

Their results, published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that human activity starts to decline after 900 BC, and falls rapidly after 800 BC, indicating a population collapse. But the climate records show that colder, wetter conditions didn't occur until around two generations later.

Fluctuations in levels of human activity through time are reflected by the numbers of radiocarbon dates for a given period. The team used new statistical techniques to analyze more than 2000 radiocarbon dates, taken from hundreds of archaeological sites in Ireland, to pinpoint the precise dates that Europe's Bronze Age population collapse occurred.

The team then analyzed past climate records from peat bogs in Ireland and compared the archaeological data to these climate records to see if the dates tallied. That information was then compared with evidence of climate change across northwest Europe between 1200 and 500 BC.

"Our evidence shows definitively that the population decline in this period cannot have been caused by climate change," says Ian Armit, professor of archaeology at the University of Bradford, and lead author of the study.

Graeme Swindles, associate professor of earth system dynamics at the University of Leeds, added, "We found clear evidence for a rapid
change in climate to much wetter conditions, which we were able to precisely pinpoint to 750 BC using statistical methods."

According to Armit, social and economic stress is more likely to be the cause of the sudden and widespread fall in numbers. Communities producing bronze needed to trade over very large distances to obtain copper and tin. Control of these networks enabled the growth of complex, hierarchical societies dominated by a warrior elite. As iron production took over, these networks collapsed, leading to widespread conflict and social collapse. It may be these unstable social conditions, rather than climate change, that led to the population collapse at the end of the Bronze Age.

According to Katharina Becker, lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at University College Cork, the Late Bronze Age is usually seen as a time of plenty, in contrast to an impoverished Early Iron Age. "Our results show that the rich Bronze Age artifact record does not provide the full picture and that crisis began earlier than previously thought," she says.

"Although climate change was not directly responsible for the collapse it is likely that the poor climatic conditions would have affected farming," adds Armit. "This would have been particularly difficult for vulnerable communities, preventing population recovery for several centuries."

The findings have significance for modern day climate change debates which, argues Armit, are often too quick to link historical climate events with changes in population.

"The impact of climate change on humans is a huge concern today as we monitor rising temperatures globally," says Armit.

"Often, in examining the past, we are inclined to link evidence of climate change with evidence of population change. Actually, if you have high quality data and apply modern analytical techniques, you get a much clearer picture and start to see the real complexity of human/environment relationships in the past."

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
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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.

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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Enjoy living in the middle of wonderful mountains.
Fresh air, gorgeous forest. Near downtown but away from noisy city.  Nature lifestyle.  Beautiful chalet in a large property located in Monte de la Cruz, Heredia. Two bedrooms, two baths, laundry room, fully furnished, security, electric gate. Rate $500 monthly. Phone  2267-6306  Email


Beautiful cottage in San Rafael, Heredia

Cottage in the mountain.  Surrounded by nature.  One bedroom, 1.5 bathrooms. Beautiful balcony and view. Bus line service, security.  $500 monthly.  Phone: 506-8739-0638  Email:

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:

Beautiful fully furnished two floor house for rent
in La Guacima

Guacima montage
La Guacima, Alajuela. 20 minutes from airport, San José or Alajuela Centro and 30 minutes from Heredia. Near highway 27. $1,000 a month. All services included (Internet, water, electricity, security). Very private, very quiet, green areas, fully furnished. Must like animals (we have three gentle dogs), look at high resolution pics HERE! U.S. citizens or Europeans preferred. No children. Call to inquire and for appointment to visit. Available for rent in December. Contact phone number:  (506)  8839-4315.

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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Bill to rein in NSA fails in U.S. Senate

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A bill that would have ended the U.S. government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records was defeated in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted 58-42 to move the bill to a formal debate, falling two votes short of the 60 required. The bill, dubbed the U.S.A. Freedom Act, would have required the National Security Agency to obtain a court order to retrieve data, and then only about a specific person. The Republican-held House of Representatives had previously passed its own version of the bill.

The legislation was crafted after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the bulk collection program in 2013. Although the agency did not collect the contents of the phone conversations, the revelations still triggered a backlash among civil liberties activists who said the program violated Americans' privacy.

The bill was supported by the Obama administration and technology companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple. But Senate Republicans said the legislation would undermine the government's ability to combat terrorism.

There is little chance the bill will come up for another vote before January, when Republicans take control of the Senate.

Electronic cigarettes creates new word

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

This year's English word of the year, as chosen by the Oxford Dictionaries, is vape.

Vape is the verb that describes inhaling and exhaling the vapor from an electronic cigarette or similar device. It can also be used as a noun referring to the action or the device.

Oxford editors say "you are thirty times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago." They say usage has more than doubled in the past year.

Last year's word of the year was selfie — a photo taken of yourself with a smartphone or other camera.

Vape was officially added to the Web site in August.

It defeated several other words deemed significant this year in becoming the top pick.

Animal adoption fair Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Asociación Animales de Asís will be offering cats, kittens, dogs and puppies for adoption Saturday at the Walmart in Heredia from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The animals are all castrated and vaccinated. A donation is requested.

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Entrepreneurship featured with many events

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The high point of Costa Rica's Semana Global del Emprendimiento will be, appropriately, the new age guru Deepak Chopra, who has parlayed a medical degree into a $100 million business.

He is scheduled to speak Nov. 24, but there are many other activities promoting what is called in English the Global Entrepreneurship Week. Since its founding in 2007, the week has blossomed to now include activities in 130 countries.

Activities in Costa Rica started Nov. 4 and have the support of many major firms. A calendar is HERE! In all there are some 40 activities centered on the theme.

In addition to discussions, there have been some concrete actions. Grupo Nación participated in the formation of  a business incubator, and President Luis Guillermo Solís is scheduled to announce a national policy of entrepreneurship. There also are discussions scheduled with persons who have started and run successfully their own businesses.

None has been as successful as Chopra who promotes the belief that mind controls matter and that the right approach can extend life. His talk at the Centro de Eventos Pedregal has admissions ranging from 162,400 to  29,120 colons, some $304 to $53.60.