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Published November 30, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 207
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Oscar Vargas clinic


Congress and Finance Ministry raided
over Chinese cement scandal

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

On Wednesday, at 8:30 am, judiciary police entered the Legislative Assembly to seize documents from legislators Otto Guevara and Víctor Morales as well as Guevara’s advisors.

At the same time, investigators raided the office of Finance Minister, Fernando Rodríguez. All raids were a consequence of the cement scandal that authorities have been investigating in the past few weeks.

Officers also raided the houses of the three public officials, Guevara’s in Escazú and those of Morales and Rodríguez in Heredia.

Officials of the Judicial Investigation Organization and members of the Office of the Prosecutor seized computers and documents from the raided offices.

Guevara and Morales are being investigated for influence peddling, while Rodriguez could have been involved in an irregular arrival of Chinese cement in the country.

The “Cement Case” refers to a scheme involving the executive board of the Banco de Costa Rica which could have unlawfully approved a $30 million loan to a businessman who was supposed to import Chinese cement into the country. The businessman is said to have contacted public officials in all three branches to push for this business to succeed.

There were many reactions from other legislators.

Patricia Mora, from Frente Amplio and  a member of the commission that investigates the case, said that Guevara and Morales should waive their immunity. The same thing was said by legislator Ronny Monge, who said that they should set the example and waive their immunity as well.

Natalia Díaz, head of the Libertarian Movement faction, said that Guevara's prominence in the party affects the image of the group.

AM Costa Rica courtesy photo
The unusual raid of congress
took place about 8:30 pm.

Mora and the lawmaker Ottón Solís support the actions of the Judicial Power and said he feels satisfaction.

Antonio Ayales, executive director of the Legislative Assembly, confirmed this morning that the Order of Sala III was received to carry out the raids. Sala III had to endorse the legal actions because they are members of the Supreme Powers of the State.

The general prosecutor Emilia Navas entered Congress at 8:30 a.m. together with the officers to monitor and lead the raids, as the law requires in cases of representatives of the Powers of the State. Navas was seen again in the corridors after 10 o'clock in the morning.

Agents had to force one of the doors of the offices raided and two hours later they took out two computers, packages and documents. The intervention was extended until completed.


Country faces a decrease in North American tourists
while Europeans increase their visits

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Although there is a decrease in the arrival of North Americans, an increase in the arrival of Europeans is making it up for the country.

Tourism continues to be one of the main engines of the Costa Rican economy. In total, there was an increase in visits of 5% for the second half of 2017, compared to the same period of the prior year.

Although there is some concern by chambers, entrepreneurs and institutions linked to the sector, in a drop in the arrival of tourists, especially from the United States, tourism continues to be the most dynamic social and economic sector of the country, according to the Costa Rica Tourism Boards.

Tourism boosted the growth of exports of services in the first quarter of 2017, reaching $62 million.

"Tourism not only contributes to generating a positive trend in the flow of exports of services, but it represents the main sector whose dynamism strongly drives the growth of sales. The activity generates 600,000 direct and indirect jobs, which represents 27% of the Costa Rican workforce,” according to Mauricio Ventura, Minister of Tourism.

Although the nation has experienced a decline in American tourists, it is also true that there is an increase in the arrival of Europeans. According to ICT data, the increase of these visitors is related to the growth of direct flights from Europe.

The country managed to attract the arrival of new airlines and the opening of routes. There are currently eight European airlines flying here, of which seven have come in the last two years: Iberia-Spain, British Airways and Thomson Airways from the United Kingdom, Condor from Germany, Air France from France, Edelweiss from Switzerland, KLM from Holland (The Netherlands) and Lufthansa from Germany.
AM Costa Rica archive photo  
Wellness tourism is another niche being explored by the local businesses.

One of the markets that has gained most ground is the English one, positioning itself as the largest generator of tourists from the European continent. British flights accounted for 47,826 international arrivals, from January to September, for a growth of 9.1%, with respect to the same period last year.

"In addition to strengthening the European market, Costa Rica is intensifying its actions to strengthen its positioning throughout North America. Given that during the first half of 2017 there was a decrease of 1.9% in the number of arrivals of Americans. On the other hand, Canada showed growth by air of 13.2% and Mexico showed an increase of 11% in that period," said a tourism spokesman.

One of the strategies promoted to attract tourists is the new slogan “Costa Rica: My Choice Naturally.” The campaign using the slogan has been launched in five markets: England, France, Mexico, the US and Canada.

In the last years, authorities have developed the Turismo Wellness Pura Vida product, aimed at well-being tourism that generates about $563,000 million in the world.

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Second News Page
Published November 30, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 207
Real Estate
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Beware of the warranty when buying a car, study suggests

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

When you buy a car, most car dealers offer warranty terms of 3 years or 100 thousand km, whichever comes first.

However, the warranty may be subject to limitations and conditions that can often result in a surprise.

For example, clauses that say things such as "the warranty does not cover if the vehicle has been towed in a different way than described in the user's manual," were found. It is important to emphasize that this type of condition applies as long as it is technically proven that the damage is directly related to a bad consumer procedure.

Additionally, car dealers make exclusions to noise corrections that do not affect the operation of the vehicle. This action is contrary to the expectation of the consumer, who expects he is acquiring a new vehicle in perfect working condition, and which is supposed to have all the technical, mechanical and appearance characteristics already agreed upon in quality standards, as indicated by the National Consumer Commission.

Another of the breaches found is the existence of clauses contrary to national regulations that could mislead the consumer. For example, contracts that exclude possibility of a refund or replacement of a defective vehicle within the guarantee period. These two rights are protected by law.

These irregular clauses became known thanks to a study by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce (Meic) on guarantees offered by establishments selling new and used vehicles, and are being reported in order to inform the consumer

The study also determined that inadequate practices remain in the market.

Of the dealers visited, 94% said that the vehicle warranty applies only to the engine and transmission box, which is false. That information generates a false perception that makes buyers think that only those parts are covered by the guarantee.

AM Costa Rica wire services photo      
The study asks customers not to believe everything a sales man says. Usually the law mandates benefits that car dealers would fail to mention.
The information on exclusions to the guarantee, cannot be applied automatically and must be sufficiently detailed in writing clearly to the consumer.

An erroneous practice was also found on the warranty period of 30 calendar days, which confuses the consumer when in fact the minimum guarantee period is thirty business days, after the delivery of the vehicle.

According to the Law on Promotion of Competition and Effective Defense of the Consumer it is the responsibility of the merchant to inform the consumer so that buyers are clear about the conditions of the guarantee.

The Meic reminds consumers that all goods and services have a minimum guarantee of 30 business days. It also recommends people to read the conditions of the contract prior to making a decision and to get a copy of the warranty in writing.

Injected feces become a treatment to fight diarrhea

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

According to the National Hospital of Geriatrics and Gerontology,  an infusion of  feces dissolved in saline water was key to the recovery of  31 patients with  severe diarrhea caused by the bacterium known as Clostridium diffícile.

According to the research done by professionals from that specialized center, the treatment showed a  90% effectiveness in a first and second infusion. The infusion is introduced into the body by one of two routes, nasogastric tube or retention enema. The maximum amount of the infusion is 250 milliliters. The results obtained with this treatment are similar to those revealed in other studies carried out in other countries of the world. The research was presented in Thailand during the 9th Global Scientific Conference.

The study titled "Treatment response of Clostridium diffícile with infusion of fecal microbiota in patients of a Geriatric hospital in Costa Rica during the years 2015 and 2016," was the only study presented on this procedure at this international conference.

Diana Paniagua, a nurse with training in field epidemiology, explained that the research began in 2014, after an outbreak of Clostridium diffícile was detected in that health facility.

Stools are taken from relatives, friends or neighbors of patients who are healthy and after various tests and strains are mixed with saline solution to introduce them to the affected patient. The procedure can last for around 30 minutes. The aim of the treatment is for the patient to recover the bacterial flora of the digestive system, which was eliminated by Clostridium diffícile.

The treatment seeks to raise the quality of life of patients and reduce the need to isolate the infected patient. Fortunately, the introduction of this treatment in the National Hospital of Geriatrics and Gerontology had the support of its authorities.

Clostridium diffícile is a bacterium that infects the intestine, causing symptoms ranging from mild diarrhea to severe inflammation of the colon or large intestine. This infection usually occurs during or after a patient has been treated with long-term antibiotics.

According to Costa Rican specialists in infectology, epidemiology and nursing, the risk of contracting the infection is higher in patients older than 65 years who are hospitalized and who are already suffering from illnesses such as infections, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

The digestive system contains millions of bacteria and one of them is the Clostridium diffícile that is usually found in small quantities. Many of the other bacteria help control harmful bacteria like Clostridium diffícile. When a person takes antibiotics, the normal intestinal flora is destroyed and harmful bacteria such as Clostridium diffícile can multiply uncontrollably.

Diarrhea113017.jpg AM Costa Rica archive photo    
The treatment has been applied at the National Geriatrics and Gerontology Hospital.

This bacterium is transmitted from person to person by the anus-hand-mouth route or by contact with surfaces contaminated with the bacteria. The main symptoms are: acute diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps. Some sufferers get serious diseases such as colitis (inflammation of the colon). Symptoms of Clostridium difficile infection usually begin a few days to a week or more after the start of antibiotic treatment, but may also appear weeks or even months later.

According to bibliographical inquiries made through the Internet, it is known that on an international scale an increase in the infection by the Clostridium difficile bacterium has been detected as well as an increase in its virulence, although the cause is still not clearly known. It is an infection that usually occurs in first world countries where there is access to antibiotics.

About a decade ago, there was a significant outbreak of a hyper-virulent strain of this bacterium. The outbreak was identified in several states in the United States, in the United Kingdom and in some areas of continental Europe.

The bacterium is under the study by the specialists in Epidemiological Surveillance of the CCSS.

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Costa Rica

Third News Page

Published November 30, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 207
Real Estate
About us

 Authorities demand information about
Uber's global information leakage

By A.M Costa Rica staff

The Data Protection Agency (Prohab) requested information from the transport services firm, Uber Costa Rica, about the theft of information from 57 million data files from its users and drivers worldwide to determine if there was a local effect.

The agency has the power to start an investigation of the multinational to determine the effect on Costa Rican citizens.

The information was stolen by a group of hackers in October 2016 and includes names, emails and phone numbers of 50 million Uber customers and 7 million drivers. The information was revealed on November 21 by the Bloomberg news site.

The director of the agency, Wendy Rivera, explained that the previous Wednesday, a day after the news was published in the United States, the unit proceeded to ask the company for the information about the attack, a detail of whether or not there are data of Costa Ricans involved and the measures that have been taken about the leak.

"Everything is done as a preliminary investigation, requesting them the information of what happened in its parent company, if it has implications what measures will be taken," said Rivera.

According to Rivera, this type of request is made every time massive leaks are reported that could involve national data.

Once it is clarified how the data breach occurred and the seriousness of the breach, the Agency can sanction Uber Costa Rica with economic fines ranging from 1 to 30 base salaries of a judicial assistant, which ranges between ¢466 thousand and ¢14 million.

The database may also be closed for six months and, in the case of a crime, it must be sent to the Public Prosecutor's Office. However, the Director acknowledged that such sanctions would be applicable only in very serious faults.

   Fortune courtesy photo     
Uber Costa Rica may be subject of fines of up to $25,000 if mismanagement of information can be proven.

"We are always transgressing the fundamental rights of any inhabitant, so the effective protection of the rights are essential," said Rivera.

According to Rivera, Uber Costa Rica is not being investigated for not having previously informed the users and the Prohab about the leak, because it is currently unknown when the parent company, Uber Technologies Inc., found out about the cyberattack and if it notified its subsidiary in the country.

Users of the affected platform can complete the Rights Protection Procedure form and submit it to the Agency, accompanied by evidence of how their personal data were violated.

To date no complaints have been filed against Uber.

The company claims to have about 18 thousand collaborating partners and about 673,000 clients in the country.
Free marimba rally will storm San José today

By A.M Costa Rica staff

Tradition and rhythm will flood the boulevard of Central Avenue, from the San Juan de Dios Hospital to the Chelles restaurant, this Thursday, November 30, at the first "Fiesta de las Marimbas," that will take place in the capital.

As of noon, a total of 12 marimbas will provide a must see show to passers-by, as part of the celebration of the National Day of the Costa Rican Marimba. The objective is to pay tribute to the "marimberos" (builders of marimbas) and marimbistas (who play the marimba), protectors of this tradition.

"It is very important to recognize the marimbero and the marimbista, this is transcendental for Costa Rica, it is very symbolic for our folklore, the marimba is the soul of our people and is part of the Costa Rican cultural heritage," said the president of the Festival Association of folklore and traditional arts of Costa Rica, Hans Leitón.

The 12 participating artists come from all over the country and will play every 100 meters.

   AM Costa Rica archive photo     
The event will take place at the Cathedral Church, Plaza de la Cultura and Plaza de la Democracia.







A.M. Costa Rica's Fourth News page
Published November 30, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 207
Real Estate
About us

More boat accidents likely to happen in Barra del Colorado

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Neighbors from Pococí, in Limón, warned that at least 50 trees are about to fall on the water route that tourists follow to get from Pavona to the center of Tortuguero.

The previous Sunday a tree fell to a boat containing 20 tourists and there was one death. The event occurred four kilometers away from La Pavona, when the vessel sailed on the La Suerte River.
Seven other people were injured and needed medical attention. The accident occurred at 11:41 a. m. This tourist route of approximately 16 kilometers, usually takes an hour when the river is rain-swollen.

According to data from neighbors, it is estimated that around 80 boats operate in all the channels in the region.

Ana Rita Rodríguez, president of the San Francisco de Tortuguero Development Association, said that after Hurricane Otto, they warned government authorities of the danger represented by several trees.

She added that the villagers, from that moment, asked for the most vulnerable trees be cut but complained that no one has listened to their complaints.

Enrique Obando, President and the Tortuguero recycling plant, said the locals cannot cut the trees since they need permits from the Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae) to do so.
AM Costa Rica archive photo    
According to locals, there are about 80 boats offering tours in the area.

"No neighbor wants to expose himself or herself to legal problem by cutting trees, but then these tragedies happen and one wonders if it is necessary for people to die to get attention," said Obando.

María Elena Herrera, legal director of the Tortuguero Conservation Area of the Minae, said that starting on December 4 the cutting of trees will begin.

"I do not know how many maybe a little less than 50," said Herrera. "The work will be done with a dredge because you have to extract the trunks from the river."

The official added that, since 2016, authorizations have been given for the cutting of trees on the banks of rivers in an emergency situation.

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Summers102317.jpg U.S. Income Tax Services
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ax Accountant
Let’s discuss your tax situation.

The IRS has become more aggressive and if you have not filed, you must do so. 

However, there are solutions to problems and your situation may be better than you think.

If your filing is not up to date, Streamlined Filing can be used with no penalties.

Including disclosure of foreign corporations to avoid serious problems.

If tax payment is holding you back, the IRS has options to solve payment problems.

You can file current or past due FBARs without payment to meet IRS  requirements.

If you have yet to file, do it now as there is still time.

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A Fernandez
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news page

Published November 30, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 207
Real estate
About us

Utilities payments consume more of the family budget

A.M. Costa Rica staff

The cost of public services, which are regulated by the state,  has increased to 15% of the average family income. In 1988, they represented only about 9%.

The information comes from a research conducted by the Public Services Regulatory Authority (Aresep).

The study points out among its main conclusion is that the public now uses more things like electronics and other home conveniences and so have to allocate a high percentage of their income for the payment of said services.

For example, the canfín (light bulb fuel) and the residential telephone were two common services in 1988. A quarter of a century later, that panorama changed: almost nobody uses canfin and the use of the residential telephone diminished. Today, Costa Rican households use their cell phones more.

The Aresep compared the National Survey of Income and Households (ENIGH) of 1988 and 2013, to analyze the evolution of the characteristics of users of public services according to their sociodemographic conditions during the period.

"Regulated public services provide an essential contribution to the quality of life of people and the competitiveness of the Costa Rican economy. Knowing the characteristics of the users and how they use the services contributes to a regulation with purpose and equity," said the general regulator, Roberto Jiménez.

In 2013 almost all households used electricity services (99%) and aqueducts (94%). In the case of water, coverage is slightly lower in rural areas (84%) while in urban areas it reaches 97%.

A M Costa Rica wire services photo        
Industrial chambers have chronically claimed that electricity in the country is among the most expensive
in Latin America.

On the other hand, the services less used by households are the taxi (19%), gasoline (30%), and gas for cooking (43%). It should be noted that there was a decrease in the use of residential telephones and the bus. In contrast, there was an increase in the use of the cell phone and personal vehicles.

The majority of households are located in the urban area (73%) and in the Central Region of the country (63%)

The Regulator said that knowing the user is strategic for the Aresep. "In this way we can meet the specific needs of user groups and meet the specific requirements that arise in different parts of the country," he said.

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A.M. Costa Rica's
Sixth News Page

Published November 30, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 207
Real Estate
About us

  Performing arts smooth prisoner's way into social reinsertion
By AM Costa Rica staff

The First Encuentro de Teatro Penitenciario, organized by the Ministry of Justice and Peace and the General Directorate of Social Adaptation was held on November 27 and 28. People incarcerated in different jails in the country participated.

In this first presentation, the prisons Vilma Curling, Carlos Luis Fallas (Pococí), 26 de Julio (Puntarenas), Calle Real (Liberia), Luis Paulino Mora, Jorge Debravo, San José, Jorge Arturo Montero and the Youth Training Center participated.

The plays were staged for the two days of the festival. Eighty-six inmates participated with the aim of continuing to work on their social re-insertion through art, culture, sports, education and work.

Some of the presentations were authored by prisoners who worked in collaboration with theater professionals, a learning experience for all participants.

The audience was able to enjoy the staging, "Go to Dota?" of the group Force to Scene of the Vilma Curling jail, a very special comedy that was born from the initiative of the inmates and that was coached by the teacher of theater, Andrea Valle.
Ministry of Justice and Peace photo     
Team work, anger management, better focusing;
all of them tools provided by the performing
arts to the inmates.

Other plays the public could enjoy were, "La Suegra del Diablo", an adaptation of Carmen Lyra's story, presented by the theater group Libertad Real of San José jail; "Salvadas de Milagro,” by the theater group Voces Libres, from Vilma Curling jail and directed by Maureen La Tía Salguero, and Las Fisgonas de Paso Ancho, by Zurquí Jail
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A.M. Costa Rica

Seventh News Page Business
Published November 30, 2017, Vol. 17, No. 207
Real Estate
About us

Basic universal income could change
the Latin American future, says Eclac

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A basic universal income would guarantee young people in the region a minimum level of income to start their productive lives, the executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcenas said yesterday.

"I think we would have a real chance of creating a different future," said Bárcenas, introducing the book "Basic income. A radical proposal for a free society and a sensible economy," at the Eclac offices in Mexico City.

Bárcenas stressed that the unconditional and universal basic income potential "should be aimed at 145 million young people in Latin America and the Caribbean" because that would allow them to start their lives with some level of certainty.

In this crucial stage of youth, this income represents a "redistributive, intergenerational and emancipatory" instrument, assured the general secretary in the presentation of this book by the Belgians Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght.

She stressed that young people in the region are "increasingly more educated and schooled" but have fewer opportunities and their expectations are greatly diminished, so an income would help them to search their creative potential.

Bárcenas described the initiative as a means to expand the freedoms of youth and a measure to create a new generation of citizens who can give themselves the opportunity to build a different society.

He stressed that basic universal income without conditions must be a right and that at the same time it can also be a tool to combat poverty.

AM Costa Rica wire services photo
Economists consider that providing a minimum standard of leaving would drive people to seek and achieve their own passions.

The income must be paid in cash, be an individual and not a family subsidy, be universal, without obligations and sufficient for development, he said.

"Basic income. A radical proposal for a free society and a sensible economy" (Grano de Sal, 2017) describes the various basic income options and explores their philosophical foundations and their financial and political viability.

Van Parijs is a philosopher and political economist, known as a defender of the concept of basic income, as well as being the founder of the European Basic Income Network.

The book was presented this past Monday during the International Book Fair (FIL) of Guadalajara, west of the country, by the author and the general secretary of ECLAC.

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