A.M. Costa Rica
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San José, Costa Rica            Published Friday, April 6, 2018             Vol. 18,  No.406

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Oscar Vargas clinic

A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo     
The new center generates high hopes in the government, despite the feasibility study not being so optimistic. 

Country inaugurates International Convention Center
with high hopes to boost tourism industry

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

Thursday night the largest convention center in the country with the capacity to host 4,500 people at once was inaugurated.

President Luis Guillermo Solís and president-elect Carlos Alvarado appeared at the event.

The project, which is located eight kilometers west of Juan Santamaría International Airport, was developed on 15,600 square meters.

Mauricio Ventura, minister of Tourism, said that this building will allow the country to compete against Panama as a destination for meetings.

The new infrastructure, according to the government, will allow the country to attract convention participants who spend up to three times more than those who enter the country for vacations.

The minister said this shows the country's ability to achieve goals within strict deadlines.

The work cost about $35 million for an exhibitions area, lobbies, convention halls, parking lots and spaces for outdoor exhibitions.

Between 2017 and 2021, Costa Rica will serve as a destination for a total of 60 international congresses, according to the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism, known by its Spanish acronym ICT.

According to ICT data, the center will serve 32,000 participants in five years and will generate revenue of $180 million.

"When we think of expanding the country's tourism offerings, we seek to enter into highly positioned industries.  The spending habits of entrepreneurial visitors are greater than of the vacation tourists," said Ventura.

Worldwide meeting and convention tourism represents 22 percent of the industry and generates around $11 billion a year, according to the World Tourism Association.

Government officials relied on a 2010 feasibility study to begin construction west of San Jose. The study also said at that time that the center would require $650,000 a year in public funds to stay solvent.

As A.M. Costa Rica reported in the past, the study was carried out by The Innovation Group in Orlando, Florida, a firm best known for its work in developing casino projects for U.S. Native American nations. Click here to read the story was published last year.

The firm based its financial projections on extensive use of the new facility by local groups for shows, banquets, dances and similar activities that will put the state in direct competition with a number of commercial venues.

At the time, A.M. Costa Rica staff reporters obtained the study with difficulty from the ICT. The construction began in late January 2017.

Much of the data for the feasibility report and its projections came from 2008 and 2009. In addition to the United States, the report points out the Latin American convention business and notes that Brazil hosted 293 international conventions and conferences in 2009 associated with the International Congress and Convention Association.


The convention association was one of four such groups that were tapped for information. Brazil, Argentina and Mexico have well-developed convention markets, said the report, adding that other centers are being built elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Costa Rican convention center was well-located outside of San Jose and close to Juan Santamaría airport, the report said. Downsides were the lack of adjacent hotels sufficient to house a convention crowd.

There have been improvements in the capacity of the airport and the airlines servicing it since the report was made. The report also noted a lack of nearby evening entertainment.

In 2009 the report said Costa Rica hosted 15 conventions associated with the international convention association out of 909 that took place in Latin America.

Much of the report and conclusions are based on a survey conducted by a subcontractor who sought opinions from 100 to 150 respondents, mainly those who organize conventions and conferences.

The survey found that price was the most important factor in choosing a country in which to host an event.

Flight services and proximity of hotels were in second and third place, the survey said. Security was cited as the fourth most important factor by 55 percent of people surveyed.

Only four of 105 respondents said they would be strongly interested in having an event in Costa Rica if a convention center were built.

Based on its analysis, the research group said that Costa Rica would host 123 events a year but that just 16 of them would be international. The rest would involve mostly people from Costa Rica.

"Historically," the report said, "the direct earnings of an independent convention center tend to be negative, especially without the support of an adjacent hotel."

The center would have to hire between 190 to 250 full- and part-time workers, it said.

The report said it estimated that construction of the center would create 775 to 1,100 direct jobs and from 1,600 to 2,200 indirect ones.

The contractor is Edica Ltda., the same company that built Lincoln Plaza and part of Juan Santamaría airport.

The study also said that the center would be an incentive for developing nearby hotel space, which in turn, would create even more jobs.

Even by the third year of operation, the convention center would need a public subsidy of $650,000 despite $4.5 million in income, the report concluded.

Tortuguero neighbors denounce
construction of an illegal route

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Tortuguero community has filed a judicial complaint before the Contentious Court of Costa Rica to determine the legality of a road built without permits from the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

Neighbors of that area consider they are on the verge of losing the natural wealth and the tranquility due to the illegal construction of a public street that would provide access to the road traffic inside the area. The move fragments the ecological corridor and could increase hunting and drug trafficking in the communities of Tortuguero and San Francisco, as well as cause an increase in solid waste, according to the complaint.

The Conservation Federation of Costa Rica said it tried to prevent the use of a road illegally opened by the Municipality of Pococí, which seeks rapid access through the national park to reach the community of Tortuguero, but the effort did not stop the work.

Tortuguero was declared a National Park on Sept. 24, 1970. Its extension has increased up to 64,701.45 to 76,937 hectares. Of these, 50,284 are marine and 26,653 are land.

The Tortuguero National Park is located in the northeast of the country and is one of the main tourist icons of Costa Rica because it is internationally recognized for protecting the most important green turtle nesting beach in the Western Hemisphere.

Far from the city and made up of an extensive network of rivers and canals, access is possible only through small boats. This makes Tortuguero National Park different from any other, where there is a small community in the wild protected area.

Tortuguero040618.jpg A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo   
The Municipality of Pococí is repairing the road to La Pavona town, where is the main entry to the Tortuguero National Park.

The ecological importance comes from the park’s protection of spawning of four species of marine turtles: Green (Chelonia mydas), Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Cabezal (Caretta caretta).

In addition, it protects important populations of endangered species such as manatees (Trichechus manatus), and protects the habitat of several felines in America. Tortuguero has one of the largest populations of felines in Costa Rica and a consolidated research program. Tortuguero protects four species of sea turtles and other endangered species.











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San José, Costa Rica         Published Friday,  April 6, 2018         Vol. 18, No. 406
Real Estate
About Us
A few ideas to enjoy time off on the weekend

By AM Costa Rica staff

Aside from the International Arts Festival, which starts this weekend, there are plenty of activities waiting for people across the country. Listed here are some of the most relevant.

Inauguration of EXPOPYME today at 1 p.m. at the northeast side of the National Stadium. There are 300 stands of small and medium enterprises will market their goods and services. There will be four different pavilions labeled as cultural and creative, regional, gastronomic, services, sponsors and small and medium enterprise support network. Open  through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., in the parking lot  is northeast of the National Stadium.  Full information is on Expo web


The José Figueres Cultural and Historical Center is located
in San Ramon.   Center is presenting:

- Audiovisual production workshop. Taught by Nathalie Ulate. Aimed at people over 16 years old. Thursdays 2 p. m. to 6 p. m. Exhibition ends Aug. 16.  Tickets ¢4,000 colones.

- Presentation of the poetry book "Flame and Ashes, Shades of Love" by Domingo Ramos Araya. Saturday at 4 p. m. The entry is free.

- Photographic exhibition: "El Instante Luminoso: Mexican plastic artists through the eyes of Juan Guzmán." Coordinated with the Autonomous University of Mexico, the Center of Mexican Studies and the Cultural Institute of Mexico. Available until the 15th in the gallery of the center. For more information call: 2447-2178.

Another option is The National Archives Center. Opens
Monday through Friday,  from 8 a.m. to 4 p. m.  The entry is free and includes guided tours. Today presents an exhibition "Let's live democracy." Tour of the country's electoral history. As a whole Institute of Training and Studies in Democracy, an entity of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. For more information call: 2283-1400.

Visual Arts

The Costa Rican Art Museum in San Jose, is open to the general public Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The entry is free. For more information call 2256-1281.

A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo      
“Aterciopelados,” a popular rock band in the 90's will offer a concert on Saturday.

The Museum Dr. Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia presents an exhibition "From the image to the word. Carmen Naranjo, a plastic appreciation. "  A sample of 110 posters, drawings and original writings of the artist. Until April 14 the entry is free.  Open from Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information call  2255-12-18  extension #105.


The  Banda de Alajuela  concert at Central Park in San Jose. Saturday concert starts 7 p.m.  Sunday concert starts at  8 p.m.  For more information call 2234-1611

The Colombian band Aterciopelados, will give a concert Saturday at Plaza Maximo Fernandez in San Pedro. Located street 57 Avenue  8. The  Entry is free. Click here to find the concert location map

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San José, Costa Rica       Published Friday, April 6, 2018       Vol. 18, No. 406
Real Estate
About Us

International Arts Festival kicks off today

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

The International Arts Festival, FIA 2018, which will have Colombia as a guest country,  will be open with a ceremony at 6:30 o’clock tonight at the National Theater. The ticketed event is open to the public.

During the opening, there will be a concert by the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica and the Colombian bands Dangerous Crew and Puerto Candelaria.

The open-air start of the FIA2018 will take place on Saturday with activities starting at 5:30 p.m., at Plaza Máximo Fernández in San Pedro. Gates will be open as of 2 p.m.

"We will have a platform with all the technical and technological conditions of a very high-level spectacle, including LED screens and a large lighting that will allow the public to observe the three shows from any point of the square," said Ada Acuña, producer of the festival.

From the Canary Islands, Bloko del Valle will offer a show called "Tambores para la convivencia," which promotes, through percussion, the values of respect, assertiveness, and solidarity. Children and young people of the community of Tirrases de Curridabat will be part of the event, thanks to the social contribution that the FIA2018 included in the community, offering art as an integrated development tool for human beings.

Subsequently, the stage will receive 76 artists from Colombia, who will offer a show called "Verbena," by the group Delirio, in a production that gathers the essence of the music and the style of dancing in Cali, Colombia.

After the presentation of the group Delirio, the public will enjoy an impressive air show by the Puja Group which is called "Quixote," a performance about the inner journey of the fictional Don Quixote de la Mancha and his quest.

The band Aterciopelados from Colombia, formed by Andrea Echeverri and Héctor Buitrago, will be in charge of closing the night.

The FIA2018 has a web application that can be downloaded at, which provides not only information on shows, venues, food stalls, but also changes in roads around the Plaza Máximo Fernández. In addition, the people who install this application will be able to select their favorite shows and share them on social networks. In case people want to attend theaters, the application will redirect the user to the page of so they can purchase the tickets.

International Arts Festival courtesy photo      
All activities and their schedules can be found

More than 1,100 professionals on stage, in seven main venue with theaters, halls, and plazas open to the public will take part in the event, which runs from until April 15.

The FIA 2018 is a production of the Ministry of Culture and Youth and organized by the Center for Artistic and Cultural Production. It has the support of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute as an official sponsor.

As it is a massive activity, there is an interinstitutional coordination with the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, the Council of Public Transport and Traffic Engineering, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Security, the fire department and the Municipality of Montes de Oca, among others.

 In the streets surrounding the Plaza Máximo Fernández, also known as Plaza Roosevelt, some partial and total road closures will be made due to the presence of the main platform through April 16. However, this would not affect the bus routes that circulate through San Pedro.

The FIA2018 also set up a service line where callers may ask any question related to the festival. The phone line is 2258-1522.










San José, Costa Rica           Published Friday,  April 6, 2018         Vol. 18, No. 406
Real Estate
About Us
Legislators decrease former president's
pensions as part of fiscal reform

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tuesday the special commission of the congress that studies the financial reform bill decided to reduce the pensions of Costa Rica’s former presidents.

The legislators supported a proposal promoted by the legislator Ottón Solís of the Citizens Action Party.

According to the initiative, a special contribution would be established on the retirements of the former presidents, which would go from ¢4 million to ¢2.25 billion.

The reduction would be ¢1,750,000, according to Solís.

The cut would also apply to pensions inherited by the former first ladies.

The proposal was incorporated into the bill to strengthen public finances, and the special commission expects to fast track the processes.

The deadline to send the text to the full legislature is Monday. All legislators will then discuss the proposal and a possible first vote could occur.

The fiscal reform project includes the creation of a value added tax with a 13 percent rate and an expanded base of goods and services subject to tax, modifications to capital gain tax and proposals to reduce the payment of salary incentives in the public sector.
A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo     
Out of three reform proposals, this is the first one filed by Ottón Solís that received full support.

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San José, Costa Rica      Published Friday, April 6, 2018       Vol. 18, No. 406
Real Estate
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Study unveils social progress index at La Carpio shanty town

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Thursday, the Integral System of Artistic Training for Social Inclusion and the INCAE Business School published the first collective welfare report of La Carpio, a very poor community located in the district of La Uruca, in San José. Historically, their inhabitants are poor Nicaraguan migrants.

The results show that in San José 29.46 percent of adults have a higher education, however, only 11.11 percent of La Carpio residents had this educational level, while only 6.45 percent households reported some higher study.

"Regarding the environment, we asked if recycling was encouraged in the households, a question to which only 7.63 percent of the homes answered positively, while 10.39 percent mentioned not making any separation of waste, very distant from the 39.2 percent of the homes that recycle in the central canton," said Jaime García, researcher of the organization.

The issue of housing is another worrying element in these results. While in the rest of the central canton of San José, only 1.40 percent of households are characterized as slum type, in La Carpio 51.9 percent of households homes were in this condition. In addition, 44.26 percent of the households were showed to be in overcrowded, well above the 6.80 percent of the San José homes.

The study evaluated the conditions of 272 households in the community, through in-depth face-to-face interviews. In total, a population of 1,426 was analyzed, a sample which was divided between participants of the Integral System of Artistic Training programs and those who have not have participated in the program.

A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo
More than 50,000 in La Carpio live in shacks.

The system program trains young people in poor communities in arts such as music and theater, with the purpose of empowering them and fostering their social inclusion.

The study called “Collective Welfare in La Carpio," used the methodology of the Social Progress Index, which is a tool developed by the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development of INCAE Business School and has been applied around the world,” said García.

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San José, Costa Rica     Published Friday, April 6, 2018      Vol. 18, No. 406
Real Estate
About Us
Digital banking systems processed
150 million transactions in 2017

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

The use of the different digital banking channels offered by financial institutions to Costa Ricans, including internet, mobile and telephone, allow customers to make transactions without having to visit the banks’ offices. The trend showed a steady growth in recent years, a report said.

The Statistical Report of the National Payment System 2017 of the Central Bank of Costa Rica confirms that there were 64.2 million digital transactions in 2010 and 150.8 million in 2017.

"Financial entities have made a great effort to improve their services and adjust to the demands of the digital age, making available to customers a series of procedures on their websites and mobile applications with strict security rules, thus reducing the number of waiting times," said María Isabel Cortés, executive director of the Costa Rican Banking Association.

According to central bank data, in terms of value, digital banking handled ¢182.6 trillion colones; equivalent to 5.6 times the gross domestic product of 2017.

Among the operations that are most reported are transfers, payment of services, payment of loans and credit cards.

Digital banking represented 128 times the value of the number of bills and coins that are in circulation, which shows the importance that digital banking has reached in terms of cash, the most expensive means of payment, the central bank said in its report.

In the case of SINPE Móvil, at the end of 2017 there were 569,000 subscribed clients among 16 financial entities offering the service, among them: Davivienda, BAC San José, Bank of Costa Rica, Lafise, Banco Nacional, Banco Popular, Promérica and more recently Scotiabank.

SINPE Móvil allows people make payments and electronic money transfers to accounts linked to cell phone numbers from any electronic banking channel and in any of the participating banks

The mobile banking app that financial institutions have available also offers a wide range of services, which, although they vary from one bank to another, usually include balancing accounts and credit cards, SINPE transfers, payment of public services and even payment of loans.

Financial entities have made important efforts to enable more and more services on their web pages, turning them into virtual agencies, in which customers can do paperwork without leaving their home or office, said the National Banking Association.

For example, clients can consult balances, transfers, payment of services, open investment certificates or view the account status of the last six months. They can even start the process to request the opening of an account.

A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo
The report was released by the National
Banking Association.

They can make transactions between accounts, third parties, balance inquiries and buying and selling dollars, pay, report and block credit and debit cards, open savings accounts, make transfers via SINPE and SINPE Mobile, among other things.

The client must verify with his bank the detail of the services available via web and mobile App, since they may vary from one entity to another.

The banks have made important investments in security systems, to protect the transactions of their customers, so the use of these services is usually subject to have a username and password, also in some cases, the option of signing is enabled through a token.

The central bank data shows that, at the end of 2017, there were 8.2 million cards in circulation, of which 70.9 percent (5.8 million) are debit cards and 29.1 percent (2.4 million) credit cards. That is to say that two debit cards circulate for each credit card.

According to the report, the use of cards as a means of payment increased by 10.6 percent in 2017 in comparison to 2016. In total, they were used to make 389.6 million payments (62.8 percent with debit cards and 37.2 percent with credit cards).

This increase in the use of cards as a means of payment has also meant an increase in the devices to carry out transactions in the points of sale, which by December were 177,000 units throughout the country.

At the end of 2017, there were 2,592 ATM's available throughout the country, which also allows other operations, among them: cash deposits, payment of loans and cards, payment of services and transfers, as well as checking balances.

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San José, Costa Rica        Published Friday, April 6, 2018          Vol. 18, No. 406
Real Estate
About Us

Judicial investigators mourn the death of Aquiles,
their beloved K-9 partner

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Members of the Judicial Investigating Organization’s K-9 unit are mourning the passing of Aquiles, one of their cop-dogs who served the police by using his highly developed sense of smell to search for human remains and detect blood traces in crimes.

He was a scent specialist and his departure caused sorrow and surprise. He played a key role in finding evidence to clarify the massacre in Liberia in January 2017.

At nine years of age, Aquiles, a bloodhound, died due to an unforeseen health complication known as gastric torsion syndrome, the judicial agency said.

Alejandro Castillo, head of the canine unit of the Judicial Investigating Organization, confirmed that Aquiles participated in 354 cases.

The first was in 2009 in Alajuela in an investigation to clarify a case of abortion.

"Aquiles had to retire before mid-year because of his age. He needed to rest. There is a dog called Dodge that has the same role and we are preparing another three for the same purpose,” said Castillo.

Tatiana López, a forensic scientist of the judicial agency, said that Aquiles set a pattern in the approach to criminal investigations.

For the police, the dog provided a guide for the use of dogs in the search for evidence.

A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo
Aquiles was specialized in detecting blood traces.

This work, improved in recent years, allowed an acceleration in the approach to crime scenes and the search for traces to clarify crimes, she said.

"He gave us the guide, he was a pioneer, the results we had with him gave us the light to change the methodology of approaching a scene. He represented a before and after in the criminalistics fields of the country," said Lopez.

Aquiles also worked in cases outside the country. For example, he was in Panama and in investigations led by the Federal Bureau of Investigations of the United States.

A 15-year-old girl missing after 11 days
Naydeline Yuliana Loaiza Sánchez, 15, has been missing for 11 days and her family members are asking for help to locate her.

The teen lived in Heredia and disappeared March 27. The Judicial Investigation Organization requires the collaboration of the citizenship.

If you have seen this girl, or know any information that helps to find her, call to Confidential Information Center phone 800-800-0645 or WhatsApp 8800-0645.

Judicial Investigation Organization courtesy photo