Costa Rica News Roundup posted by on July 17, 2014
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Be on the lookout for this scam, it could cost you thousan

July 16th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) While not a new problem in Costa Rica, credit and debit card fraud through the use of electronic devices called ‘skimmers’ is becoming ever more common as the skimming devices become ever easier to obtain.

 

The devices do their work after a criminal inserts the thin plastic device into an ATM machine’s card reader.  The device than reads and stores every ATM users’ card information the moment they insert the card into the machine.  The criminal returns later in the day and retrieves the device, which may by then have the full data of hundreds of cards stored on it. That information is later used to create clones of the users’ cards, or for online purchases.  Continue Reading

 

RECOPE withdraws request for another large increase in fuel prices

July 16th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) The Costa Rican Oil Refinery (RECOPE) has withdrawn a request to regulator ARESEP for another large increase in fuel prices.

 

RECOPE had filed a request with the regulator on July 9th to increase the price of premium gasoline by ¢29 per liter and regular gasoline by ¢27 per liter. Continue Reading

 

Public works deals should go back to the drawing board, says Solís in meeting with Chinese president

President Luis Guillermo Solís asked that several major Chinese projects in Costa Rica go back to the drawing board in a bilateral meeting between the Costa Rican leader and Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday evening during the meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Brasilia, Brazil.

The renegotiations targeted several legacy projects devised by previous National Liberation Party administrations, including former presidents Óscar Arias (1986-1990, 2006-2010) and Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014), including Route 32 and the stalled Moín oil refinery.

Solís asked the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party to extend the period of consideration on a $485 million Chinese loan to expand Route 32 highway between San José and the Caribbean port city of Limón from the current two-and-a-half-month period to five months. Solís said that more time was needed to analyze the project and review the loan’s terms.

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Costa Rican Electricity Institute rules out blackouts in coming months

Although the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) confirmed a drop in rainfall levels for the current rainy season, the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE) has ruled out power outages later this year.

A lack of rainfall this season, which runs from May to November, is evident in most of the country. But ICE electricity manager Luis Pacheco said current reservoir levels remain stable and expected rainfall will be enough to keep the reserves filled for use in hydroelectric power generation for the rest of the year.

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Are you a Gringo? posted by on July 10, 2014

Gringo. Some bristle at the word while others embrace it.

Is it a stand-in for ugly American? A warmhearted nickname? A slanderous sobriquet? There are few things expats come across here that can set off such impassioned debates as a discussion over the word’s weight.

During the American Colony’s July 4 picnic The Tico Times spoke with several U.S. expats, tourists and Costa Ricans about their opinions on the controversial label. Most respondents said the moniker carried a neutral connotation for them, comparing it to Costa Ricans’ diminutive, Tico.

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News Summary posted by on July 9, 2014

Naming a new ombudsman could take weeks, Costa Rica Assembly president says

Legislative Assembly President Henry Mora on Monday evening asked the legislative appointments commission to immediately start the process of selecting candidates for ombudsman following the resignation Monday of Ofelia Taitelbaum.

Mora said he hopes lawmakers would agree on a name quickly and that former candidates in the past two elections should be reconsidered.

The appointment could take two weeks, he said, but that will depend on whether lawmakers can reach consensus on a candidate.

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White House names Democratic donor as nominee for ambassador to Costa Rica

After more than a year without an ambassador in Costa Rica, the White House on Tuesday finally announced its choice to head the United States’ diplomatic mission here.

The Obama administration named S. Fitzgerald Haney, an international businessman with experience in marketing, financial services and manufacturing in Latin America, as its pick for the next ambassador to Costa Rica. Most recently, Haney has been a principal and director of business development and client services for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Pzena Investment Management in New York City. He has held the position since 2007.

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In Bolivia, silver mountain at risk of collapse

POTOSÍ, Bolivia – Cerro Rico, the fabled peak towering over the Bolivian city of Potosí that supplied silver to fund Spain’s colonial empire, is at risk of collapse from overmining, putting thousands of workers in jeopardy.

Potosí, which earned UNESCO World Heritage status in 1987, was seen as the world’s largest industrial complex in the 16th century thanks to its massive deposits of silver and tin.

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28 photos from La Sele’s homecoming party in Costa Rica on Tuesday

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Tax Administration to fight evasion with technology, citizens’ help

[Note, as a libertarian I consider taxation to be theft, and that people are morally bound to do everything they can to stop the thieves.  These thieves in government will continue to waste money until the cows come home.  There are certainly better ways for society to be organized. ]

The Finance Ministry last week launched a public awareness campaign to encourage tourists and citizens to report hotels, restaurants and other businesses that fail to issue receipts for products or services.

The campaign uses mass media and social networks in an effort to improve taxpayer compliance with laws, with support from customers.

Finance Minister Helio Fallas said the campaign is part of a short-term strategy to improve the filing and payment of sales tax, especially during mid-year vacations when the country sees an increase in tourism and spending on entertainment and commerce.

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Nicaragua’s ambitious interoceanic canal will cross Lake Nicaragua, officials say

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – An interoceanic canal in Nicaragua will be built via Lake Nicaragua, also known as el Gran Lago Cocibolca – Latin America’s second-largest lake after South America’s Lake Titicaca – and its tributaries, the Nicaraguan government and Chinese concessionaire HKND announced on Monday.

“The canal will cross Nicaraguan territory from east to west with a total estimated length of 278 kilometers, including a 105-km stretch in Lake Nicaragua,” canal engineer Dong YungSong said during a meeting with government officials and academics in Managua.

The route will begin at the mouth of Brito River, on Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast in the department of Rivas and near the country’s border with Costa Rica, and will continue through Lake Nicaragua and tributaries Tule and Punta Gorda, which empty into Nicaragua’s southern Caribbean, he said.

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Costa Rica News Roundup posted by on July 8, 2014

 

14 photos of Cahuita’s 2nd International Calypso Festival

See the pictures here

 

Government negotiates peace agreement between farmers, indigenous group in Salitre conflict zone

BUENOS AIRES, Puntarenas – Just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning, government officials successfully negotiated a peace agreement between indigenous Bribrí residents and local farmers in Costa Rica’s southeastern indigenous reserve of Salitre, where violence broke out Saturday due to a land dispute.

Officials from the government’s Ministry of Peace have been in the area since June 28, when a group of indigenous Bribrí set up encampments on farms that had been occupied by non-indigenous people, a legal land reclamation according to Costa Rica’s indigenous law. Officials from the Presidency Ministry and the Ombudsman’s Office have since joined in the negotiations.

“The issue is that what the law and the indigenous people see as a reclamation of land is seen as an invasion by the non-indigenous people who had been occupying that territory,” said Presidency Vice Minister Ana Gabriel Zúñiga, one of the agreement’s mediators. 

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Costa Rica’s ombudswoman resigns amid tax fraud probe

Ombudswoman Ofelia Taitelbaum on Monday morning submitted a letter of resignation to the Legislative Assembly just days after lawmakers and Judicial Investigation Police announced they would open an investigation into allegations that she had committed tax fraud.

Taitelbaum sent the letter to Assembly President Henry Mora, stating that she was stepping down “in the interests of transparency” and so that the investigation against her could be “conducted without tarnishing the work of the Ombudsman’s Office.”

Taitelbaum is under investigation for allegations of tax fraud after several members of the news media last week reported on the apparent use of forged documents and signatures to issue payments for professional consulting services to a person who denied receiving them.

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Who will guard the guardians?

Since Plato penned “The Republic,” students of government have been asking of those who govern: “Who guards the guardians?”

In Costa Rica, the answer to that question is the Defensoría de los Habitantes, or Ombudsman’s Office. Since 1982, this office has been charged with protecting citizens’ rights, and it has the power to investigate public abuse of power and to initiate judicial proceedings against those who commit the abuses. But what happens when the person charged with protecting the citizens is herself suspected of committing abuses?

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Magnitude-6.9-quake strikes southern Mexico, northern Guatemala, kills at least 2

PALENQUE, Mexico – A strong, magnitude-6.9 earthquake rocked parts of southern Mexico and Guatemala on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 40 others.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake — initially measured at a magnitude of 7.1 — struck the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Chiapas state at about 1124 GMT at a depth of 60 kilometers (37 miles).

The epicenter was located just two kilometers from the Mexican town of Puerto Madero, and 200 kilometers from Guatemala City.

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Costa Rica News Roundup posted by on July 2, 2014

National Seismological Network to monitor Poás Volcano with four new cameras

 

Volcanologists from the University of Costa Rica’s National Seismological Network (RSN) are installing two video cameras and two thermal cameras at Poás Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the country.

Last week RSN experts began transporting materials to the Poás Volcano National Park in the province of Alajuela and building the foundations for the cameras, which will broadcast real-time video and thermal video feeds to monitor frequent emissions of steam and other materials. Scientists also will be able to track of temperature changes inside the crater.

Video feeds broadcast by the four cameras will be available to the public at the RSN website. Currently the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) has cameras at Poás, but they only take and broadcast snapshots in intervals.

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Costa Rica Ombudsman’s Office pushes for better marine conservation

Costa Rica’s Ombudsman’s Office issued a statement Tuesday urging the government to prioritize marine resource management. According to research by the agency – which is responsible for petitioning the state on behalf of Costa Rican citizens – climate change, poor technology, inadequate marine management and a lack of political will have depleted the country’s marine resources, leaving coastal residents who rely on fishing with few options to support their families.

“Some 15,000 families rely on fishing to support themselves,” the statement said. “Currently those families are in crisis.”

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How the Clintons went from ‘dead broke’ to rich

Former U.S. President William J. Clinton (1993-2001) is visiting Costa Rica today, July 1, as part of the inauguration of a new medical research and teaching facility at the Universidad Latina in San Pedro, east of San José.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over seven frenetic days, Bill Clinton addressed corporate executives in Switzerland and Denmark, an investors’ group in Sweden and a cluster of business and political leaders in Austria. The former president wrapped up his European trip in the triumphant Spanish Hall at Prague Castle, where he shared his thoughts on energy to a Czech business summit.

His pay: $1.4 million.

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Costa Rica uniforms are international best-sellers thanks to World Cup run

And now, just like that, everyone wants Costa Rica’s jerseys. The World Cup uniform – with the simple one-stripe design – received much criticism for its bare-bones style. Mashable called the uniforms, created by Italian company Lotto, one of the worst designs at the 2014 World Cup. Tico fans didn’t care for them much, either. However, the apparel suddenly is a best seller thanks to the Ticos’ shocking appearance in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Brazil.

According to Reuters, Lotto is selling out jerseys faster than the sportswear brand can make them:

It is a rare triumph for a smaller kitmaker of an ilk that has been increasingly squeezed out of the World Cup with major brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma paying millions to hog the stage at the world’s most watched sporting event. Lotto is struggling to keep up with demand and says an extra 50,000 shirts have been sold since Costa Rica won their opening game against Uruguay. At Fifa’s online store the red home strip is no longer available in the usual short sleeves.

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Former US President Bill Clinton lauds Costa Rica, urges students to make most of their futures

 

Hoarse from watching the U.S. soccer team fall to Belgium on Tuesday, former U.S. President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) found his voice long enough to call on Costa Rican students to work for a better world, during a speech at the Universidad Latina east of San José.

Clinton landed a few jokes about how La Sele goalie Keylor Navas would have given Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís a run for his money in an election before Clinton moved on to issues related to the future of the country. The former U.S. president lauded Costa Rica’s record on environmentalism and said the small country of less than 5 million people was well positioned to meet the challenges of the 21st century through its investment in education, health and the environment. Clinton called Costa Rica one of the countries he most admires.

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News Roundup posted by on July 1, 2014

Snapshots from the Web of Costa Rica’s historic World Cup win

Costa Rica has stunned the world with it’s World Cup wins this year.  Click here for the complete story in pictures.

 

A letter from a Costa Rican jail

Preventative Detention is given some people, especially foreigners, while the prosecution builds it’s case, the reverse of the process in many other countries.  It is considered inhumane and abusive, as some have been in jail for years without charge, only to be cleared and released later.  Read this story here.

 

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