Monday, December 22, 2008

Type of residencies, requirements and benefits

TYPE OF RESIDENCY: PENSIONADO (Retired)

REQUIRES: Proof of US$600 per month income from permanent pension source or retirement fund
STAY: Must remain in the country at least 4 months per year.
FAMILY: Can claim spouse and dependants under 18 years of age.
WORK: Can work as an employee
BUSINESS: Can own a company and receive income.

TYPE OF RESIDENCY: RENTISTA (Renter)

REQUIRES: Proof of US$1,000 per month for at least five years, guaranteed by a banking institution, or a US$60,000 deposit in an approved Costa Rican bank. Double income for spouse
STAY: Must remain in the country at least 4 months per year.
FAMILY: Can claim spouse and dependants under 18 years of age.
WORK: Cannot work as an employee.
BUSINESS: Can own a company and receive income.

TYPE OF RESIDENCY: INVERSIONISTA (Investor)

REQUIRES: $200,000 in any business or a specified amount of investment in certain government approved sectors.
STAY: Must remain in the country at least 6 months per year.
FAMILY: Cannot claim spouse and dependants under 18 years of age. It must be a separate process.
WORK: Income allowed from the project.
BUSINESS: Can own a company and receive income.

TYPE OF RESIDENCY: REPRESENTANTE (Representative)


REQUIRES: The one that applies should be a director of a company with certain requirements, such as employing a minimum number of local workers as established by the labor law, with financial statements certified by a Public Accountant.
STAY: Must remain in the country at least 6 months per year.
FAMILY: Cannot claim spouse and dependants under 18 years of age. It must be a separate process.
WORK: Can earn an income from the company.
BUSINESS: Can own a company and receive income.

TYPE OF RESIDENCY: PERMANENTE (Permanent)

REQUIRES: There must be a first degree relative status with a Costa Rican Citizen (married to a citizen or by having a Costa Rican baby) or may apply after 3 years in another residency type.
STAY: Must visit the country (Costa Rica) at least once a year.
FAMILY: Cannot claim spouse and dependants under 18 years of age.
WORK: Can work
BUSINESS: Can own a company and receive income.
Taken from the Website of the Direccion General de Migracion y Extranjeria (Governmental Migration Department) Dic, 2008

Some Legal Considerations for Living or Investing in Costa Rica

Registration System. Costa Rica has a centralized registration system called National Registry (“Registro Nacional”) where corporations, vehicles, mortgages and real estate transactions are registered. The Costa Rican registration system is very advanced and the Registry records not only documents (like other Registries all along other countries), but it also registries rights inherent of those documents. A very timely and strict system records the transactions presented giving legal certainty to the legal acts.

Most properties in Costa Rica are registered in a computer system and each property has an identification number called: "Folio Real". For different reasons there are some properties that are not registered meaning they don´t have a Folio Real number and therefore cannot be tracked properly in the Registry.

Due Diligence. Before purchasing any property or even before seriously considering buying it is advisable to perform a detailed study before the Public Registry. Such study should include not only the folio real with it measurement, boundaries, ownership, location, survey plan, annotations, encumbrances and liens, but also a study of the transfer chain since the property was originally registered.

Pending registration (“Anotaciones”) may be due to filing of incomplete or erroneous documents, lack of payment of taxes, etc. A document filed on a property while an annotation appears will not be registered until the annotated document or documents are either registered or removed following a special procedure.

There are properties on sale that have actual ownership rights and another ones have only a right of possession or occupation rights. In the first case the property is registered, but in the second case the land hasn´t being registered and a study of ownership cannot be performed before the National Registry.

When you buy a business it is important to perform a more detailed study including: lease contracts, employment contracts, sales, income and property taxes paid to date, permits in place such as: Municipal permits, liquor licenses, Ministry of Health authorization, Insurance, Social Security, among others. Of course the advice of a lawyer and accountant are preferable in any case.

Property transfer require for buyer and seller to sign a deed before a Costa Rican Notary Public (whose concept is different than the one in many other countries such as the United States or Canada and is required to formalize all transactions dealing with real estate) and for such deed to be recorded at the Public Registry.

Although titled land can be purchased in Costa Rica in the name of an individual as well as in the name of a company, and foreign ownership is fully permitted, it is advisable to purchase property through a corporation. This structure allows having flexibility and more predictability on areas ranging from estate planning, tax management, and representation.

Concession Land. Like in many other countries the maritime zone (“Zona Marítimo T errestre”) land is owned by the Government and given in lease to third parties, this is known as concession. This concession grants the authority to a private party to use the land for a renewable period of time. Almost the 95% of maritime zones in Costa Rica are concessions and therefore have special requirements regarding the zoning, occupation and density, among others.

Cost of property transfer. In general, the cost involved in a real estate transaction are divided in 3 categories: a) Transfer Tax (1,5% of the purchase price); b) Transfer Stamps (1% of the purchase price) and c) Legal Fees (1,25% of the purchase price). So the cost are: 2,5% in tax and stamps plus a 1,25% legal fees. If you purchase shares of the owning entity (no transfer deed as explained bellow) the only charge for the transfer is the legal fees.

Title Insurance. Title Insurance works the same that in other latitudes such as Canada and United States and although it is not necessary is advisable. In Costa Rica some of the title companies are: Chicago Title, Land America, Stewart Title, among others, you can get this service trough your lawyer in Costa Rica.

Maps. Each property must have a registered map or survey (“Plano Catastrado”) to be locating the property in the field with exact measurement, actual boundaries, and description of buildings or structures. No property transfers can be made if the land does not have a registered map, and such map must be quoted in the transfer deed. If such map does not exist, it must be made by a specialized registered surveyor (“Topografo”), and then the transaction can be effectively achieved.

Buying Property trough acquiring the corporation (share transfer). Buying the shares of the company that owns the property instead of transferring it through the Register is a common practice. This way the seller transfers the shares of an existing company that owns the property to be purchased, instead of transferring it through the Public Registry to a third party. In this case a transfer deed is not necessary but other legal documentation such as: a purchase sale agreement of the shares, change the board of directors (so the buyer can take control of it), several entries to the legal books and endorsement of shares, among others must be performed.
Although the share transfer system may sound attractive at first sight, since it allows to save money in transfer taxes, we do not always recommend to take this path and advise to transfer property through the Registry under the standard procedure of a notarized deed. When you acquire the shares of a corporation in Costa Rica, as in most other countries, you do not only get the company’s assets (in this case, mainly, the property) but also its liabilities, and there is no mechanism to satisfactorily list them or rule out their existence. Such liabilities, if existent, would directly affect the property being acquired.

Property Taxes. Every property owner is obligated to pay its property taxes; otherwise they might be putting in great risk their investment. The Costa Rican Government recently passed a law that expedites all judicial collection procedures (including taxes) and might be subject to a foreclosure.

In Costa Rica, land taxes are collected by local governments corresponding to the county where the land is located, which are denominated “Municipalities” (“Municipalidades”), and these moneys are directly used by them.. These taxes are paid at a rate of 0.25% of the declared value of the property. This tax is due quarterly and a strict record of payment should be held by each owner. The payment of taxes do not require physical presence of the owner in the country, the payments can be made with the help of your lawyer.

We advice that prior to the purchase of the property the buyer makes sure these taxes are paid up to date, if not the new owner must have to cover them for the lack of payment of the previous owner. Furthermore if what you are buying is an apartment or a lot in condominium property you must check if the taxes are included in the monthly condo fees, since they are usually not included in such fees and the buyer must pay the property taxes directly to the Municipality.
Corporate Taxes. The Fiscal Year (“Período Fiscal”) in Costa Rica goes from the 1 of October to September 30 . Local s t t h corporations do not always need to file income tax statements at the end of each fiscal year (September 30), especially if there are only for holding purposes. A case by case study should be performed in order to determine this.

Nevertheless, whether a company declares and pays income tax or not, and applicable to all Costa Rican corporations, a special tax called “Timbre de Educación y Cultura” must be paid each year. This tax is relatively low (20 dollars a year). If payment is not made, penaltiesapply and the corporation will not be in good standing.

In Costa Rica there is not Capital Gain tax as it is in United States. The only cost on selling property is the transfer tax of (2,5% indicated above) that is usually carried out by the buyer. Regarding the income tax if the corporation is for holding purses or estate planning, it won´t be subject to income tax, but if the buyer carries a business such as renting the property and having an income with it, the company might be subject to the payment of this tax. In such case a specific consultation is advisable to determine if other taxes like: sales tax or tourism taxes are also applicable. The corporate rate for income tax goes up to 30% (the highest bracket).
Corporations. The typical limited liability company (“Sociedad Limitada” , “LT DA. ” or “S.R.L”.) must be incorporated by at least two people before a Costa Rican Notary Public. After such incorporation, the shares may be transferred and it is legally feasible to have a corporation in which one person is the sole owner of all shares.

The incorporators must choose a name and a Board of Directors (which, by law, must have a minimum of three members, denominated: President, Treasurer and Secretary) and a Comptroller.

Other crucial issues to be decided are the social capital of the corporation; the number of shares composing such capital, (it is advisable to have a number of shares that would permit future distributions of the participation in the company) and the representation of the newly formed company (there must be at least one representative of the company with powers of attorney to act on its behalf).

The incorporation deeds, as well as all changes to the company’s By-Laws are recorded in the Public Registry, where any person has access to them. However, all transfers of the company's shares are recorded in the Shareholders Registry Book, which is kept by the corporation and is only available to company's shareholders and officials; all other parties can only review it with a Court order.

Residency. Costa Rican Immigration Law allow foreign citizens to become residents in specific cases that range from having a family relationship with a local citizen (marrying a Costa Rican, having Costa Rican children) to demonstrating the government that the applicant will not be a burden for the country, mainly showing sound resources to be established in Costa Rica and, in some cases, to create a business here. Our mainly recommended regimes are the resident pensioner and the resident “rentista” status. The resident pensioner status is used for foreign citizens who have retired from government service or from selected private entities and receive from them a permanent life retirement income of no less than US$600.00 per month (this is in total for all the familiar nucleolus). Such amount must be transferred periodically to Costa Rica, and its reception and conversion into colones at designated institutions has to be demonstrated. The resident “rentista” regime is applicable to all foreigners, regardless of age, receiving a fixed monthly income of no less than USD$1.000,00. per person, this means that if a couple wants to apply they must have in total an income of USD$2.000,00 a year. The funds of the deposit can come locally or from abroad and their conversion into colones at designated institutions has to be demonstrated as well.

Like many others you probably will get in love of Costa Rica and planning properly your investment is one of the best decisions to enjoy this beautiful country.

Sincerely,
BVSQ Abogados Team

DISCLAIMER The content of this document is not intended to be a legal advice, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute any type of advertisement. The accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such contents is not warranted or guaranteed. We recommend to ask for an advice of a specialized professional in the legal area.

Friday, December 19, 2008

TO REFOREST AND CONSERVATE PAYS OFF

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Costa Rica has been trying to stop deforestation and protect its natural resources. For landowners, forests are beautiful to see, but if you have a whole family to feed, that beauty is not important. People will do anything to get a steady income to support their families. Not all forests can be converted in tourist attractions. So, the owners of these pieces of land are facing a dilemma: whether to build, cut the trees to leave room for pasture for cattle or sell the wood from the trees.
The government of Costa Rica is since 1990 implementing a dream: to make forest productive for the owner without cutting a single tree. How? By paying landowners for keeping the natural resources intact!
By having a profit for all the land they do not deforest, these people will like to preserve. They win and humanity wins.
How does it work? There are some rules and a fund program that cover it all.
PSA Program Payments:
Conservation: $210/ha ($519/acre) in equal installments over 5 years.
Reforestation: $537/ha ($1326/acre), with 50% paid the first year, 20% the second year, and 10% over the following 3 years
Forest management: $327/ha in equal installments over 5 years.
PSA program rules:
PSA beneficiaries create a legal easement that remains with the property if it is sold (i.e. transferable)
Landowners transfer rights to sell the coal to the national government, which can then sell it on any international market. Profits go to the government and not to the landowner, but the owners get payments from the PSA.
Individuals are restricted to registering 2-300 hectares of land per year. Indigenous groups can register up to 600 ha/year while groups acting through local non-governmental organizations have no limits.
PSA program funding:
The main funds for PSA program were originally to come from a 15% consumer tax on fuel, of which the program would get a third (5% out of the 15%), but the Ministry of Economy never distributed that amount. In 2001, a new law was passed, assigning 3.5% of tax revenue directly to the PSA program. Even though it seems that the percentage was reduced the amount assigned that was efficiently delivered to the program increased because it was truly debited to PSA.
By 2003 tax revenues provided an average of $6.4 million/year to the program. Funds also come from contracts with private hydroelectric producers, who pay for water protection services. Coal trading was expected to provide significant income through sales of certified tradable offsets. However, this did not happen. The only actual transaction was one made to Norway, which consisted of $2 million in 1997 for 200 million tons of coal. Further funds came through a World Bank loan and a Global Environmental Entity (GEF).

The Real Costa Rican Army: Teachers and Students

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Each first of December, Costa Rica celebrates one of its most significant historic events: the abolition of the army as a permanent institution. This was definitely one of the most important decisions to guarantee peace to the country and to make Democracy stronger.
In 1948, the army was present in the country’s organization as a permanent institution with rights and economical resources that were always a heavy load to the National Budget.
On December 1, 1948, General Jose Figueres Ferrer dissolved the army in Costa Rica. In front of about 100 witnesses, school students, diplomatic representatives and very important personalities of the country among them, Figueres hit with a demolition hammer the walls of the Bellavista Fortress. This marked the beginning of an era when education will be the priority for the government by passing the budget that was assigned to the army to the development of the educational system.
From that day on, Costa Rica has defended public education as a priority. Nowadays, you can find schools and high-schools all over the country. There are old, well known institutions that hold thousands of students as well as tiny one or two-classroom schools that hold a couple of tens of students.
President Daniel Oduber declared in a speech that the thousands of teachers that formed the educational front and the school, high-school and University students were the real Costa Rican Army. They are the ones that will defend the country from ignorance, poverty and injustice. This army is the one that will guide the country to progress and development. If a person finishes high-school, the chances of being poor are almost zero.
Education is Compulsory in Costa Rica up to 9th year of high-school. If parents do not send their children to school, police will come and put them in jail, and the children will be sent to a governmental institution to take care of them and send them to school. Public universities are among the best of Latin America and private institutions of higher education are abundant. The University of Costa Rica is famous for its highly qualified graduates. As a result of this, the country’s literacy is the highest in Latin America, matching the United States’ with 96% of the population.
The war is against ignorance and poverty. The only weapons needed are pencils, notebooks and books. The strategy is written on a blackboard and the result will be worth the sacrifice. Education is what has made this country big and an example for the rest of the world. Costa Ricans stopped spending in weapons and started building a future.

Tamarindo: The Gold Coast of Costa Rica (Part I)

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Tamarindo Beach is the most accessible beach of Guanacaste. It has its own airstrip that receives several flights a day from private charter companies as well as from Sansa and Nature Air. Also, there is a very reliable bus service to and from San José daily as well as from surrounding communities that come on a paved highway (4-5 hrs. from San Jose to Tamarindo) and you can also drive all the way there if you prefer to rent a car and sight see. There is also an international airport in Liberia, Guanacaste. This airport is just 50 minutes away from Tamarindo.
Tamarindo Beach is part of a bay formed by a cape: Cabo Velas. Playa Grande is to the north of Tamarindo Beach inside the same bay. These two beaches are separated by a natural estuary named Estero Tamarindo. To the South of Tamarindo Bay, there is another beautiful estuary and beach: Playa Langosta.
Both Playa Grande and Playa Langosta are protected nesting areas for the giant leatherback turtle, and are part of the Costa Rican national park system. These two beaches are considered the major nesting areas for these turtles worldwide. They get there from October to March and lay their eggs on the sand. Tourist can find guided tours in Tamarindo to go and see this miracle happen. There is also the jungle boat ride that takes tourists deep into the mysterious mangrove forest where you can encounter a breathtaking diversity of birds, mammals, and reptiles.
You can find all sorts of hotels in Tamarindo. From first class hotels to cabins that can provide decent comfortable lodging at a very reasonable rate. Tamarindo has several condominiums, private beach houses and B&B's. There are accommodations for every budget.
Tamarindo boasts an amazing selection of fine international and typical Costa Rican restaurants. There is a French bakery, as well as restaurants that serve health-conscious and vegetarian diners. It will be almost impossible to get bored of the food because of the wide variety of dishes made with a supply of fresh local seafood, fruits and vegetables.
Tamarindo also has several grocery stores, an Auto Mercado at the new Garden Plaza Mall. There is even a Country Day School nearby, just 15 minutes from Tamarindo.

Santa Ana

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It seems that many of the people that move to Costa Rica want to live in Escazu. The reason could be because Escazu is located in a very convenient position. In Escazu you have it all!! Night life, shopping, education, entertainment, medical care and convenience are part of this city. Located just 5 minutes from San Jose, with tenths of commercial centers and malls, a first class private hospital (Cima San Jose) and the best International-scheduled Schools in Costa Rica (like Country Day School), Escazu is the best place to live.
There are two main ways to get to Escazu: by the highway and by the old road. This is quite convenient.
But there is something happening? People are now looking to settle down in Santa Ana instead of Escazu. What makes Santa Ana attractive to investors?
Well, it is true that Escazu has it all, but Santa Ana is just a step away and it has its own attractive. People living at the Sun Valley (as it is called) can enjoy all the conveniences of Escazu and be in a very nice, country side location with a warmer climate. You can find local artists that create beautiful pottery and very good five fork restaurants like Bacchus and El Estribo.
One aspect that makes Santa Ana very attractive is the fact that there are no condominium towers there. The landscape is the main attraction. During the summer months of February, March and April the landscape is covered with the beautifully bloomed Poro and Roble de Sabana trees. On February the view turns orange as the Poro trees boast their blossoms and from then on Santa Ana turns light pink when the Roble de Sabana trees shower the land with their wonderful flowers.
The Sun Valley is called so because, from the flatlands, people can see the beautiful mountains, and people from the mountains will enjoy the views of the valley. Either way it is a magnificent view to enjoy year round.
Large office corporations, like Forum, saw in Santa Ana the best option to grow. Santa Ana is creating its own comfort: New commercial and shopping centers, renowned schools (like School of the World) are turning to find the potential of this city. Pretty soon, we will be seeing a very different Santa Ana: far enough to keep its country side essence, but close enough to enjoy all major advantages of Escazu and San Jose, this city will be in midway on the new highway to Caldera, thus, getting to the beach will take no time at all.

New Highway to Caldera

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30 years after it was planned, the new highway to caldera has been started. This highway was designed to prevent the traffic jams caused by the growth in population as well because of commercial activities. Definitely, people 30 years back had vision and could see Costa Rica was not going to stay as a country formed by little towns, but as a group of well developed cities. So, they designed this new highway to make it easier and faster to get to Caldera not only for the commerce but also for people to get to the Central Pacific.
Because of many reasons (economic and legislative), this highway was not started until it was a necessity that could wait no more. With hundreds of trucks driving every day to the port of Caldera plus thousands of national and international tourists visiting the Central Pacific and Guanacaste, the old road to Puntarenas, Jaco, Manuel Antonio and also Guanacaste the highway was pretty crowded and collapsed very often.
This project will vary slightly from the original one. The route will be just the same, but the capacity will be different. The original plan was to make this highway with just one-lane each way. Nowadays, the need of a wider, faster, more efficient highway calls for a two-lane, even three-lane road each way. For example, the part of the highway that goes up to Santa Ana will have the most lanes.
The fear now is that the old bridges will cause traffic jams because they are too narrow to hold more than two lanes. The plan is to improve as many bridges as possible to avoid this problem. Making most of them of more than one lane each way will be the best solution.
When this highway is completely finished (beginning of 2010), getting to Puntarenas from San Jose will take a little more than an hour. This will save not only time but also fuel. Some areas will be positively affected as Ciudad Colon, Brasil de Mora, Atenas and San Rafael de Alajuela, Orotina, San Mateo, Jaco and Manuel Antonio.
There will be from 4 to 6 toll booths along the 77 Km of this highway. If a driver finishes a one way trip to Caldera the cost will be a little bit less than $3.50. The toll booths of Escazu, Ciudad Colon, Atenas and Pozon are already established. They will be up and functioning as soon as the different sections of the highway are finished. The Escazu toll booth is going to cost about $0.50. There will be a device available called “transponder” that can be adhered to the windshield of the car and it will have a chip that will hold in its memory the credit or debit card number of the driver. In this way, the amount to be paid at the booth will be debited automatically. It could be paid with cash also. If a car passes by the booth without a “transponder”, nor paying with cash, a camera will record the license plate and the driver will get a ticket automatically.

NEW AND HOT!

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Nowadays the HOT areas for real estate are Escazu and Santa Ana. This is because these two cities are very close to San Jose and they have all the commodities and amenities that buyers are looking for.
With the construction of the new Highway to Caldera, questions are starting to arise on whether this two places are going to continue being the top choice for buyers or if there will be new places that will become more attractive for investors. The new highway will make more accessible to some places that were considered hard to visit. Among those places we find Brasil de Mora and Ciudad Colon, also San Rafael de Alajuela is being considered as a possible blooming place.
Brasil de Mora and Ciudad Colon have a very warm and nice climate that is very appealing to buyers. Even with the actual highway, these towns were considered too far away to live there and to work in San Jose. Going to San Jose and do some errands is going to be just minutes away with the new highway and, as a plus, people will be able to get to the beach in a snap.
The same seems to be the matter with San Rafael de Alajuela. It is a nice, country like place with a warm mild weather. Besides, the international airport is so close and the beach will be easily accessible from here.
Now properties in these areas are well priced and the potential is amazing. This is why now it is a great moment to start looking for properties in these areas. It is predicted that prices will go up in these areas drastically when the highway is finished. So, why not taking a look at these towns and decide whether one of them is right for you to live or invest there?

Marinas: Building on the Waters

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It seems that marina projects grow like grass in Costa Rica. If projects continue being approved and developed, Costa Rica will be the leader in marinas in Latin America. So far, there are 21 projects that have been announced, approved or already finished. These projects cost from $10 to $40 millions each and will hire at least 1,000 people each. From those 21 marinas, 9 projects belong to Guanacaste. The rest are located in the Central Pacific, the South Pacific and just one in the Caribbean Zone in Moin port.
Eight of these projects are pretty advanced. The Marina Papagayo, in Papagayo Golf is already being constructed. Marina Pez Vela, in Quepos, and Marina Golfito, in the south of the country, are already in progress as well.
With all these marinas, Costa Rica might as well become the country with the most dock places in the continent. This is happening because of the growing tourist interest in Costa Rica. Tourists come to this country not only for its wonderful flora and fauna but also because of the treasures that are hidden under the water. The convenient climate and the fact that this country is in the middle of the continent make this destination very attractive. Here, boats can stop to get new provisions and fuel to continue their trip towards the south, north of the continent or to cross the Panama canal.
Another reason why marinas are blooming in Costa Rica is because a lot of foreigners are buying condos and properties on the Pacific Coast. Many of them are bringing down their boats and yachts to enjoy the year round good weather
There is a marina already operating in the Pacific Coast in Garabito, Puntarenas. Marina Los Suenos was opened and functioning since 2001. It has created more than 1,000 direct jobs that include 500 sailors, yacht captains, mechanics and people to fill up the tanks. This marina was a key element to the development of the area. According to the CIMAT (Comisión Interinstitucional de Marinas y Atracaderos Turísticos), it fomented the arrival of foreign investors as well as the building of condos and commercial centers that generated hundreds of jobs. This marina created about 3,500 indirect jobs. 25% of the boats docked at this marina belong to Costa Rican people. Also, public services as phone lines, water and electricity improved a lot in this area thanks to this activity.
Marina Papagayo is expected to be finished by mid 2009. Its cost is going to be more than $15 millions when finished. It alone offers 382 docking places.
Marina Pez Vela will be built in Quepos and its final cost will surpass the $16 millions. It will hold up to 300 boats and yachts. This marina will offer all basic services including fuel and drinking water.
These marinas will serve small boats as well as $1,000,000 yachts. Yacht sizes may go from 12 meters up to 42 meters long. Tourists coming on yachts may spend about $6,000 a month or even more depending on the number of the crew and the special needs required.
All of these marinas together will be able to dock more than 5,500 boats. Prices per month will go from $150 to $1,300 per month.

Jaco Beach Now and Then

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Some thirty years ago, my family and I went to Jaco to camp. I will never forget that experience. There was just a single road, not paved, that crossed the “town” and some small paths to cross to the beach. Jaco town was conformed by a handful of houses, two “sodas” and a “Jardin Cervecero”, the only bar and dancing place around.
There was not a single hotel, so people could only camp there. You could not find a parking lot or a gas station. The most you could find there was a couple of “Pulperias” (grocery stores) to buy some bread to make sandwiches and powder milk to make baby bottles (it was a very long trip to bring fresh milk there).
A bus would leave in the morning and another would arrive by noon. There was no electricity during the day and lights would be turned on by a generator at 6 p.m. and they would go off by 9 p.m. People would dance like crazy for those 3 hours and when the electricity went off, everybody walked the beach back to their camping spots.
But the beauty of this place was outstanding. The long, sandy beach and the wonderful sea were the starting figures in the whole scene. Wildlife, green mountains and luscious vegetation were there to be enjoyed. During a hot sunny day, people could even buy a “granizado” (snow cone) at the beach. Quite a treat!
Things have quite changed since then. Jaco is now a very active, very popular, and very lively city. One of Costa Rica’s favorite destinations, Jaco’s got all you can imagine: from banks, gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants, and hotels to adventure sports, surfing, water sports, entertainment and nightlife.
World class surfing is practiced at Jaco. Tour operators provide sailing tours, offshore fishing trips, and water sports as sea kayaking, outriggers canoes, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Real estate developments are booming and first class accommodations are available all around Jaco. People can either stay at a “cabina” (little house), in a gated community home, a hotel or a luxurious condo.
Even though Jaco is far from being a crowded beach, it is quite visited and many tourists from all over the world stay there during their trip to Costa Rica. Getting to Jaco from San Jose takes now a couple of hours. Soon, when the new highway is finished, it will take little more than an hour to get there.
Now, electricity and running water services are available all over Jaco and party does not have to stop at nine anymore! Yet, there is something that remains just the same: the incredible spell nature puts on you. That ocean is still the same, and the mountains are still green and full of wildlife. Just a few miles on the road to Hermosa Beach you may find a look out point that promises to take your breath away.
Yes, Jaco has certainly changed, but for better! When the new highway to Caldera is finished, Jaco will be ready to receive all the people that will come to visit and enjoy this wonderful place.

Costa Rica’s General Information

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When Costa Rica was discovered Columbus called it Rich Coast for all the jewelry the inhabitants wore which made him believe that this was a fantastic discovery. Indeed, it was Rich Coast but what they did not know was they were giving it the right name but for other reasons. The richness was in ecology, rich in the flora and fauna with thousands of species of animals and plants. With the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica is well known for its peace and prosperity in the Central American area. The “Ticos”, as Costa Ricans are known, are very friendly and love to live in peace and with no worries. The historical events, visionary leaders, steady democracy, strong social and educational systems and the abolition of the army in the mid 20th Century contributed to the development and idiosyncrasy of this tiny but beautiful country. Thanks to the established political and social stability, Costa Rica is a peaceful and prosperous nation, safe for foreigners and locals.
Living in Costa Rica
When foreigners read, learn about or visit Costa Rica they fall in love with this small but beautiful country, its friendly people and the relaxing way of living. They begin thinking about moving to Costa Rica to enjoy the exotic beaches, wonderful weather and incredible flora and fauna.
It could be as an investor, a retiree or just as a company employee, Costa Rica always offers something attractive for you.
It is true that we are a country in developing stage; however, we offer and provide the necessary facilities you have or need back home with a twist you can get used to. Life here, somehow goes slower than in other countries thou not too slow. There is a mixture of relaxation and business, modern but easy way of living that characterizes Costa Rican people. Our advice is to leave all the stress and rush before coming here if you want to really enjoy this tropical country and its customs.
This is a country that embraces foreigners and invites them to come and join our way of living but wants it to be respected. Costa Ricans are friendly, outgoing by nature and love to share what we have with others since we consider it nice or worth enough to be shared.
Although we know the importance of progress, we just do not rush it or stress on it. This might get a foreigner stressed at the beginning but with time he ends up getting used to it. That’s why we have our expression “Pura Vida” (Pure Life) that implies “Why to worry”, “I am ok as I am”, “l am having fun”,” l’ll be ok” , “l’ll do that tomorrow”.
Good reasons for living in Costa Rica
Stable democracy
Good infrastructure for tourism and exports
High level of literacy and education
Nature oriented
Freedom of speech, beliefs and others
Equal rights in owning properties for foreigners
Not many migratory requirements
No army
Fiscal exemptions
Lower cost of living
Excellent service systems in electricity, health, banking, water and telecommunications.
Private enterprise support and incentives
The Government
Costa Rica is a democratic republic divided in seven provinces and headed by a president elected by the people every 4 years as well as a congress elected the same way. There are three powers that preside: the Executive conformed by the President, two vice presidents and cabinet of 17 ministers, the Legislative conformed by 57 deputies and the judicial one with 22 members. There are regional governments that rule each province which are San José (The Capital also) Alajuela, Heredia, Cartago, Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Limón. It is a neutral country and got unarmed in 1949. The death penalty was abolished in 1882 and people have enjoyed peace and freedom since the democratic guideline was established in the nation in 1889. Oscar Arias current president won the Peace Nobel Prize in 1987 and the country became a great place for human rights’ organizations to set their headquarters.
The Economy
Costa Rica’s economy is powered by tourism mainly although the country is big exporting agricultural products such as coffee, pineapple, sugar, dairy products among others. A factor that is currently changing the economy is the flourishing Real Estate market. This activity is in constant growth with the construction of hotels, condominiums and residential developments and all the secondary activities around these. It is a boom now -a-days especially on the pacific coast and the Central Valley.
The official currency is the Colón; however, dollars are widely accepted but in low denomination like 20-dollar bills as well as travelers checks and credit and debit cards. The banking system is very modern. You can find bank branches all over the country plus a wide web of automatic tellers, even ATM and PLUS. You do need an authorized ID with picture to make any transaction.
Multinational corporations find Costa Rica attractive because of the solid telecommunications network, its very well educated workforce, and the high standard of living. It is not hard for a foreigner to start a company as many have already done it. They can work in tourism, restaurants, real estate, education and more though.
Another plus for investing in Costa Rica is that as a foreigner, regardless of the nationality, you can have the same rights on property owning as Costa Ricans. This country is one of the few with this policy in Latin America. Costa Rica does not tax the out-of-country income you can have. Also all other taxes are lower than in the US. The property taxes are a fix tax of the sixth-tens of one percent of the stated value.
The cost of living is lower than the one in the US yet not that different. In some aspects it differs a lot like in house maintenance. Personal services are very affordable in contrast with products like clothing, cars, technology which are usually higher in price.
Regarding employment Costa Rica gives job priority to Costa Ricans and residents. It requires a work visa for any foreign person to look for a job here.
The People, Language and Education
With a population of about 4,000.000, “Ticos” are mainly descendants from early Spanish settlers. There are also some indigenous people but in reserves in remote areas of the country. The people on the Caribbean coast are mainly descendants from Jamaicans and there are other population groups like Chinese, North Americans, Europeans and other Latin Americans as well that have moved to Costa Rica looking for employment.
Costa Rica has one of the highest rates of literacy in Latin America with 96% even biting bigger industrialized and richer countries. Since there is no army the 28% of the total income of the country goes to education which is compulsory and free since 1869. Although public education is free there are hundreds of bilingual private schools in which English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Chinese are taught. There is a wide number of Universities spread all over the territory. Public schools also have several languages as part of their studies.
Costa Ricans are in majority catholic but there is great freedom of religion and beliefs.
The Climate
Costa Rica is a tropical country situated between 8 and 11 degrees above the equator. It has only two seasons: dry and rainy. The dry season with very little rain is generally between mid November thru April and the rainy or green season lasts the rest of the year - May through November, but still offers an average of about 5 hours of daily sunshine. The Caribbean coast doesn’t have this extended dry weather and stays green all year round with more humidity. The Central Mountain Region (San Jose) is more temperate, like spring-like weather.
Because of the altitude (1150m or 3772ft), San José has a cooler climate. It has simply wonderful weather all year round. The average temperature ranges in San Jose are from 57 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In December it changes to 63 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. National Geographic rates it some of the best climate of the world!
The sea level coasts are hotter, with the Caribbean averaging 70°F at night and over 86°F during the day. The Pacific side is a few degrees warmer, but the humidity is generally less, so it tends to be more comfortable.
The "Gold Coast" or The North Pacific Region has a large number of hotels. It has a drier and sunnier climate. This area is formed mainly by the Guanacaste Province. The area along the Central Pacific is greener, because of more rainfall, and then going more to the south towards Dominical and further, it rains even more and is more humid.
Geography and natural resources
Costa Rica’s territory extends from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea with approximately 200 miles and borders with Nicaragua to the North and to the South with Panama. The land portion is 20 thousand sq miles. The country’s landscape and climate vary tremendously from province to province. This little country manages to satisfy the taste of thousands of travelers visiting it each year.
This green jewel is shaped by mountain ranges, thick forests, valleys, rumbling rivers, sandy beaches, powerful volcanoes, and many micro-climates. There are about 12 life zones from cloud forests to tropical dried forests, from wetlands to mountains above 1,300 feet high.
The Central Valley is the center of Costa Rica not only because of its geographical location, but also because of its culture and economic activities.
The valley has an altitude that goes from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above sea level. The volcanic soil makes it very fertile and ideal to grow all kinds of products and the world’s best coffee. More than half of Costa Rica’s population (4 million people) lives in the Valley not only because of the economic activity but also for its perfect year-round spring-like climate. The capital city of San José is located there as well.
The conservation areas in the country conform the 30% of the territory, more than any other country in the world. There are more than 190 national parks and biological reserves in every corner protecting its exuberant wild life which makes of this country the emerald land in Central America.
The recent construction industry has provided a wide variety of housing for all tastes and many gated communities, especially in Escazu, Santa Ana, Heredia, Ciudad Colon and Alajuela.
Getting To and Around Costa Rica
Citizens from any country in the world need a passport to enter the county. Children cannot enter with their parent’s documents. People from US, Canada, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and South Africa do not need any visa and are allowed to stay for 90 days. Also Central Americans do not need visa except Nicaragua and they get a 30-day permit and Panamanians get 90 days.
Passports need at least a month of remaining validity but in some airline counters require a six-month validity to travel to Costa Rica.
All visitors need to show a round trip ticket to be accepted in migration offices be it by plane, boat or bus. The visitor’s visas can get renewed by leaving the country for 72 hours and entering again; however, all foreigners should fix their visas to a legal resident status within a reasonable period of time.
If your children are born in Costa Rica and you have residency you will be asked for advanced departure permission from the Immigration Bureau Ph: 2299-8100.
By air
Costa Rica has three international airports being the “Juan Santamaría” the biggest and the most important. Located in the Central Valley it receives flights from any country and all kinds of planes. The Tobías Bolaños, a smaller airport close to the main one is more for local flights, but gets international flights only from Canada and the US. Finally, the Daniel Oduber Airport in Liberia, (Northern Province). This one facilitates visitors the access to Guanacaste directly and save them a 5-hour drive. There is also a domestic network of internal airports, airstrips and airlines that serve the travelers needs to get to popular destinations.
By Sea
About 200 cruises carrying more than 300,000 passengers visit Costa Rica every year. Marinas are also becoming more popular and there are some along the pacific coast provided with amenities, and all services.
Ports of entry:
North Pacific (Playas del Coco): immigration ph: 2670-0216, Radio ahead (VHF16) before arrival, wait for an hour for response.
Central Pacific (Puntarenas): immigration ph: 2661-1446, Radio ahead (VHF16) before arrival, wait for an hour for response.
South Pacific (Golfito): immigration ph: 2775-0423
Caribbean Coast (Limón): immigration ph: 27-98-3836, Radio ahead (VHF16) before arrival, wait for an hour for response.
By car
Of all the 7 countries in Central America, Costa Rica has the 30% of the road infrastructure. You can travel from Canada to Panama on the Inter-American Highway and a trip can last 8 days from Texas to Costa Rica at least. Make sure to get the proper insurance in each country and specific driving rules. Costa Rica-Nicaragua border open Mon. - Fri. from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sat-Sun from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Costa Rica – Panama borders open Mon. - Sun. From 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Immigration office for borders Ph: 2677-0064.
In Costa Rica seatbelts are a must and baby car seats too. Your car gets a 90-day visa too and you can drive it throughout the country with your license. You can renew this visa once. After that you need to get your vehicle nationalized and pay the taxes.
Costa Rica might not have great roads indeed, but they will take you anywhere you want to go. The main roads are in good condition and the secondary ones are fairly good although you can find some that are a little bit adventurous. Be careful since not all roads are marked for night driving, bridges tend to be narrow and sometimes they have no railings. Watch for the yield sign (CEDA) because it is hardly respected. You can get road maps everywhere: hotels, car rentals, gas stations, souvenir stores.
There are plenty of car rentals to choose from in case you do not bring your own car. You can find these rentals not only in San José but also in all main towns.
Speed limit is from 45 to 90 k.p.h. and traffic officers have radars and you can get a ticket from $12 to $150. They are not allowed to collect money under no circumstance, just ask for the ticket. If your car is “Nationalized” you should get a permit from the National Registry Ph: 2224-8111 to get it out.
By bus
You can literally go anywhere by bus. The public transportation system is excellent and main routes have high end quality buses. Most routes depart from San José to the main destinations, but some times you need to board a local route service to get where you are going. You ether pay the bus driver in the city buses or buy the ticket at the bus station for far destinations. Some companies allow buying tickets in advance or make reservations. As in any country, watch you luggage and keep the tags in a safe pocket. There are also transportation companies that provide shuttles from town to town to avoid going to the main city to switch buses. You can travel directly from Chiapas (Mexico) to Costa Rica with a Costa Rican bus company and they will help you with all the borders paperwork.
Tourist facilities and Activities
In Costa Rica there are hundreds of hotels for all tastes and budgets from Backpackers to five-star luxury hotels. Being a tourist-oriented country, Costa Rica has developed an enormous infrastructure of hotels, tour companies, restaurants, amenities and all kind of services around this activity. More recently the “Vacation Rental Service” which Properties in Costa Rica also provides.
This tiny country offers unlimited entertainment such as adventure and cultural activities: Surfing, sailing, kite boarding, snorkeling, hang gliding, diving, horseback riding, bird watching, deep-sea fishing, hiking, tubing, canopy, rappel, windsurfing, turtle nesting, white water rafting, swinging, bungee jumping, golf and many more. Thermal waters, volcanic eruptions, spas, casinos are also other activities that you can enjoy as well as theater plays, museums, shows, historical sites, “Turnos” (town- community festivals), bullfights (we do not hurt the bull), crafty towns.
There are so many things to do that one or even two weeks are never enough time to do them all. But, one thing is for sure, you will never get bored.
Health Care
With a life expectancy of 65 pretty close to the US, Costa Rica boasts of its health care system. It is one of the best of Latin America and the best in Central America. The Governmental Bureau of Health has done an extremely successful effort to keep tropical illness eradicated or controlled. Every employee must be affiliated to the social security system that is very efficient. Children under 18 and elderly people above 65 are automatically affiliated by the state in case they cannot afford the fee or have no family that can pay for them. All foreigners have the right to get basic health care or emergencies even if they are not legal. You can find public hospitals and clinics all over the country.
Regarding private health care, Costa Rica is on the list of the best in plastic surgery, optical care and dental works in the continent. Educated physicians and general personnel plus excellent facilities with low cost is what make of these medical centers outstand from others in Latin America.
FUENTES:Exploring Costa Rica 2008/09 The Tico TimesAlmanaque Mundial 2008Edicion 51 televisaInside Guides, Dicovery Channel2003 edition

Flying to and in Costa Rica

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The fastest way to get to Costa Rica is by air. You can either land at the Juan Santamaria International Airport just outside of the capital San Jose in Alajuela, or at the Daniel Oduber airport in Guanacastethe Juan Santamaria International Airport is the first and oldest airport in Costa Rica. It is also called the San Jose Airport even though it is located in Alajuela. It was named after the national hero Juan Santamaria, who died in the Battle of Rivas in 1856 fighting the army of American invader William Walker. It is close to very important hotels and just 15 min. away from downtown San Jose.
This airport is international as well as national. Very important commercial airline companies land here like American Airlines, Delta, Continental, US Airways, American West, Spirit, Air Canada, Taca, Mexicana, Cubana and Iberia.
The Liberia International Airport or the Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport is in Guanacaste. A growing number of tourists are landing here because of the beautiful beaches that this province has. This saves them a 4-5 hr. drive. From there they can reach places like Playa Hermosa, Papagayo Gulf, Ocotal, El Coco, Playa Flamingo, Playa Grande, Baulas National Park and Tamarindo
Daniel Oduber was president of the country. He was one of the most visionary presidents and he backed up progress and development. The airport was opened in 1995, with its first commercial flight arriving here from Miami, Florida. There is a major local airport, Tobias Bolanos, in Pavas, and a number of local airports and airstrips all over the country. All these airports, local and international, serve domestic flights from the major local airlines Sansa, Paradise Air and Nature Air.

Escazu

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Looking west of San Jose you can see the beautiful mountains of Escazu. This is probably Costa Rica’s most popular city to live among foreigners that move here. But why is this? What makes this place so interesting for tourists to stay. After all, the US Ambassador lives there also!
Well, first of all, it is in a very convenient location, just 5 min. from San Jose on a highway. It overlooks the central valley providing awesome views during day and night. Surrounded the mountains of Escazu and Alajuelita, Pico Blanco is the most outstanding of all. At night the valley looks like the stars fell to lay on the ground.
Escazu is a city that has all the conveniences of a big metropolis. Tens of shopping malls and shopping centers are emerging from the ground by the minute. Multiplaza Escazu is the biggest mall in Costa Rica (and still growing) You do not need to leave Escazu at all. It has the best movie theaters, shopping centers, the finest restaurants and the nicest neighborhoods. Well known restaurants like TGIF, Tony Romas, Outback, Hooters and others are found here. But what really makes this place special is that it is still the country side. You find little country adobe houses with country style gardens. Driving by, you must watch for cows and horses that might be indulging on fresh grass. Early in the morning you may hear an oxcart passing by. Still you can find the famous “turnos” and the “Boyero Day” in San Antonio of Escazu. During these festivities you may taste Costa Rican typical food. Fire works will start at 9 p.m. as tradition dictates. Also, the air is fresh and nature is beautiful.
Exercising is also enjoyable in Escazu. You may go for a hike on the mountains, ride a bike or run a couple of miles (do not try the highway). A huge gym (World Gym) is located by the Paco area. You can even find children’s gyms and dance and gymnastics’ academies can be found in the area. If you have trouble in keeping in shape you can even register at the specialized ladies gyms Curves and Slim and Tone.
Another great aspect of Escazu is its increased real estate added value. Land and property prices are the highest in the country but its value increase day by day. Also, when the new highway to Caldera is finished, Escazu will be about an hour away from the beach!
Now, it is not that hard to see why people look for Escazu when choosing where to live. Lifestyle and convenience are there to be enjoyed without giving up tradition and coziness.

Costa Rican Coast, Beaches and Coastal Wildlife

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Costa Rica’s coast extends for 800 miles together the Ocean Pacific and the Caribbean Sea. It shows a wide range of colors from dark black to white shiny sands as well as the waters. You can find brownie waters from the silt washed down by rivers to neon light blue that literarily takes your breath away. There is also a variety of beaches like the perfect one for surfers with continuous waves or strong swirls to the pool like for children and snorkeling.
The pacific coast is rugged; therefore it presents a lot of bays, gulfs and rocky headlands, sandy and rocky beaches. In most of the beach shore the vegetation reaches the ocean and blend in a wonderful scene. Depending on the area, it could be dry forest and all its browns or the exuberant rain forest with hundreds of shades of green. There are some coral reefs along the pacific coast, but the Caribbean Sea is the one that boasts having the best ones.
Life is abundant, from the 8 species of sea turtles in the world, 6 come to lay their eggs in Costa Rica’s shore and, together with the turtles, other important marine life come to breed in these waters like some species of whales and dolphins. The Caribbean coast can in some areas stretch for miles with no irregularity at all. It also presents stronger waves and rip tides to consider before taking a swim. However, they show their particular beauty and mood that differ a lot from the Pacific one.
Even though Costa Rica is a small country, it possesses the 5% of the entire world’s living species. It has twice the bird species than US and Canada together and more butterflies than the whole continent of Africa. The country has 12 well defined and documented “Life zones”, each with its own climate, topography, flora and fauna. This flora and fauna along Costa Rica’s coast varies from dry forest with the deciduous flora that sheds its leaves during dry season in the north of the Pacific coast in the province of Guanacaste to the ever humid lowland rain forest in the south by the bottom of the province of Puntarenas better known the area as Osa or southern zone. Between these two well marked areas you can find the Central Pacific coastline as a transition area. The presence of lowland rainforest with its different layers of microclimates and life hosts tapirs, jaguars, sloths, kinkajous, snakes, dantas, titi monkeys, white faced monkeys, red-eyed frogs, leaf-cutter ants, many species of butterflies and a great variety of insects. The dry forest holds anteaters, bats, iguanas, birds, mammals and many others that meet together in this area.
Another important habitat that you will find on the coastline is the wetlands. This ecosystem is present in the three areas, the North, Center and South of the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. It is usually at the deltas of rivers and its major characteristic is the presence of lagoons, mangroves, canals and swampy grounds. It shelters an enormous amount of life such as the roseate spoonbills, crocodiles, caimans, lotuses, and many aquatic-life. This kind of habitat exhibits luscious vegetation and makes the landscape seem as movie-like scenery.
You can choose living next to the waves and the sea salty breeze or on a hill with a deep blue ocean view home. Whether you live on the coast or more in-land you will always be gazed by the beauty of Costa Rican beaches their life and landscape around them.

COST OF LIVING IN COSTA RICA

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Costa Rica is a ‘third world’ country. That means that our development is behind compared to countries like Mexico , Argentina , and any European country and of course the USA and Canada . Yet, if you visit this small country, you do not feel you are in an underdeveloped one.
Even though there are no huge buildings, extraordinary development and great factories here, the country has everything you may need, from modern shopping centers, nice dinning, adventure tours, access by paved roads (some with holes, but most are ok) first class hospitals and great medical care.
In this sense, all the citizens can enjoy first world amenities with not the same cost. To live in Costa Rica like a king or queen, you require of $6,000 a month. That is if you want to be considered a millionaire. With that kind of money you may rent a nice furnished apartment in a condo with a swimming pool, buy imported food products, fill your 4x4, and send your kids to a nice school.
That will also cover your frequent trips to the beach or mountain and going whitewater rafting every once in a while. You may also enjoy some fine dinning.
Why is it so? Well, simply because the most expensive things you buy in a developed country are not that expensive here in Costa Rica . Medical care is first class, but the cost is just a fraction of what you are used to. For example, medication for asthma (exactly the same brand and kind) may cost from 25% to 70% less here in Costa Rica . Plastic surgery as well as dentistry are so cheap some people travel to Costa Rica, stay her for a couple of weeks, travel, enjoy themselves, pay a hotel and tours, have their teeth fixed or the face lifted and they won’t spend nearly as much as they could in the States.
A bypass surgery will cost here a little more than $3,000 (hospitalization included!)
Fresh fruit can be found every day in any supermarket, and if you want to be a bit adventurous at the Agriculture Fair held every Saturday on many main towns. There you can find fresh flowers for a ridiculous price and fruit and vegetables you did not know they existed. That is a nice experience worth taking pictures to remember.
When you come to Costa Rica , you will see that prices in imported items are a little higher, but the actual cost of living is much less.
Give it a try!

Atenas, The Best of Both Worlds: Half Way Between the City and the Beach

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West of San Jose, in the province of Alajuela , lies the town of Atenas . All hills and slopes are dressed with coffee plantations, bushes, trees and, as accessories, well maintained houses. The town was established by Indians, its first citizens, and later named and inhabited by people that came since 1750 from San Jose , Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela. The settlement initially developed thanks to an oxcart trail on 1843. Coffee beans were sent to the ports of Puntarenas and Limon using this trail. Then the railway to the Pacific came along and brought more prosperity to the town. However, the most important reason for it to develop was the construction of the Costanera Highway that joined the capital and the Pacific zone and that crossed this town.
This town got famous when National Geographic chose it to have “The Best Climate of the World” in 1994. On every bus that goes to Atenas you may read the sentence “El Mejor Clima del Mundo”. This is a valid claim since daily temperatures go from 80 degrees during the day to around 60 degrees at night. Since then, every year people of Atenas celebrate the Expo-Climate. On this fare they exhibit and sell arts and crafts of the area and typical food. There is music and dancing too.
Atenas is an agricultural region covered with coffee and sugar cane plantations. Covered with nature, it is not surprising to find a wide variety of animals and fruit. The social activity centers at the central park in front of the Catholic Church (as traditionally it is in Costa Rica ). There people meet in a peaceful environment. They may walk for a while, greet each other, enjoy a snow-cone, date on a bench or just talk about the good old days. It is not rare to hear hundred of birds on the palm trees of the park (parrots and some black birds are the most common ones). Around the park you may find several small “sodas” to eat some typical Costa Rican food, or cafeterias.
In this place you find the Zoo Ave that rescues and breeds more than 130 animal species. Also, you may visit the Central American Farm Cattle School (ECAG), an agro-ecotourism and animal husbandry school in Balsa, Atenas. There you can go to the crocodile and tilapia farms.
Atenas past, as well as its future, has been determined by the roads that lead to it and that connect it with the rest of Costa Rica . The oxcart road that made it possible to transport Atenas coffee produce to the ports, the Costanera that allowed people to get to Costa Rica’s main beaches in half the time they were used to, and, finally, the new Highway to Caldera that will make it possible to even cut that time in more than half. Atenas, with its wonderful climate, will be halfway from the beach and the city.
Do you like to go to the city but won’t live there? Do you enjoy going to the beach very often but won’t stay there more than a couple of nights? Do you love the countryside life but need a little more of the city excitement and the beauty of the ocean without living there. Then Atenas is perfect for you. Its wonderful climate and friendly people makes Atenas a great place to live, but the new highway makes it the perfect location to reside. All the conveniences and the comforts of both worlds will be enjoyed by this town’s citizens.

Un sueño hecho de asfalto

Larissa Minsky A.
Editora Revista Proa
La Nación, Noviembre 18, 2008


La historia de la carretera que unirá a San José con el Puerto de Caldera empezó a escribirse cuando muchos de quienes lean esta edición especial de la revista Proa, ni siquiera habían nacido.
Es inevitable caer en la tentación de pensar que estas cosas solo suceden en Costa Rica, donde la burocracia se confabula con el letargo político y otras variables, para dar al trate con un proyecto que ha pasado son dar frutos por las manos de al menos siete administraciones.
Lo cierto es que finalmente se ve algo de luz al final del túnel. Suficiente luz, diría yo, como para sentirse optimista por primera vez.
Tras un largo proceso, la obra pública fue dada en concesión a la empresa Autopistas del Sol y se asegura que en julio del 2010 estará terminada la nueva carretera hasta Caldera.
En algunos trayectos de la vía, el avance de los trabajos es tal que, a estas alturas, la mayoría de los costarricenses habrán notado que la obra definitivamente despego.
Pero ¿con que detalle conocen en que consistirá la construcción, en que orden se trabajaran los tramos, cuantos carriles habrá, en que lugares se instalaran los peajes y que costo tendrán, como lucirán los cruces de calles (o “intercambios”) o pasos a desnivel en los distintos puntos de la vía, en que sectores será necesario realizar grandes excavaciones o profundos rellenos, quienes se verán beneficiados y que opinan los que consideran que esta obra los perjudica…?
Enlistamos las preguntas y llegamos a la conclusión de que era necesario convertir la inquietud en un informe especial, que la periodista Ivannia Varela asumió desde agosto pasado.
A la investigación se uno un equipo de diseñadores, fotógrafos, camarógrafos, geógrafos y chóferes, todos de La Nación, que salieron varias veces de gira para recorrer la futura carretera, tramo por tramo. Con la guía de ingenieros y arquitectos de la empresa concesionaria, recabaron toda la información para producir la edición monográfica que hoy llega a sus hogares…
…En buena teoría estamos a un año y ocho meses de que este sueno largamente acariciado se convierta en asfalto sobre el cual transitar, pero me atrevo a afirmar que al menos ya podemos ir calentando los motores.

IMPORTANT BEACH OF MARINE TURTLES NESTING

Alejandra Vargas M.
Periódico La Nación, Aldea Global, Pág. 19A
Miércoles 5 Noviembre, 2008


70 countries plead to maintain limits of Baulas Park
Representatives of 70 countries signed a letter that was presented on Monday to the Environmental Commission of the Congress, in which they plead so that the present limits of the Baulas (Leather Back Turtle) Marine Park are kept just the same, in the Matapalo, Guanacaste area.
Randall Arauz, president of the Program of Restoration of the Marine Turtle (Pretoma), declared this to La Nation
According to Arauz, the letter at issue was given to Congresswoman Mauren Ballestero, and asks that two new law projects - N 16.915 and N. 16.916. - presented by Congressman Jorge Eduardo Sanchez (of the PUSC) are rejected.
Both projects try to modify the law that created this national park in 1991 and its limits. They are being evaluated at the moment in a sub-commission of the Congress. “ If they are approved, these laws would eliminate the strict protection of Baulas beach, allowing developments that would threaten this earth strip that serves as shield for the most important nesting beach of the leather back turtle of the Eastern Pacific”, added Arauz.
On the other hand, Congressman Sanchez defended himself by saying: “It will not be foreigners the ones that are going to tell us how to take care of the leather back turtles. They do not have any moral authority to do that after they destroyed their own countries. Actually, some of them are making profit out of Tico Nature. There are students that are charged from $2.000 to $3.000 to come here to study the leather back turtles, and Costa Rica does not see a single cent out of that money”, he denounced.
“This country does not have $700 million to expropriate the land that is requested so this park stays as it is originally planned. We have to look for alternatives to coexist with the nature without destroying it! It has been demonstrated that this can be done and there are experts in places like Boca Raton, in Miami, that verify it”, explains Sanchez.
“There is time until November for the project to be approved by the commission. If not, they will have to wait until May next year”, finished the Congressman.
The Leather Back Turtle (Coriaciea Dermochelis) is the only marine turtle with “leather back” and it is the largest: it weighs about 500 kilograms and it measures up to 1.75 meters. In the last two decades its world-wide population was reduced in 97% and it is estimated that there are only 1,700 females in reproductive age left in the world. That is why it is so important to preserve these nesting sites.
Miguel Gomez, biologist and coordinator of the campaigns of the Pretoma Network, assures that the great amount of people supporting this initiative represents a very clear message for the Costa Rican authorities. This support was obtained by Costa Ricans who participated last October in of the World Nature Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
“The global conservationist community is closely observing the actions that Costa Rica takes to protect the leather backs, and hopes that the nation acts according to the international reputation that it has created”, emphasized Gomez.

IMPORTANTE PLAYA DE ANIDACION DE TORTUGAS MARINAS

Alejandra Vargas M.
Periódico La Nación, Aldea Global, Pág. 19A
Miércoles 5 Noviembre, 2008


70 países abogan por mantener límites de Parque Las Baulas
Representantes de 70 países firmaron una carta que fue presentada el lunes a la Comisión de Ambiente de la Asamblea Legislativa, en la cual ellos abogan por que se mantengan los límites actuales del Parque Marino Las Baulas, en las cercanías de Matapalo, Guanacaste.
Así lo manifestó a La Nación Randall Arauz, presidente del Programa de Restauración de la Tortuga Marina (Pretoma).
Según Arauz, la carta en cuestión fue entregada a la diputada Mauren Ballestero, y solicita que se rechacen dos nuevos proyectos de la ley – N. 16.915 y N. 16.916 – presentados por el diputado Jorge Eduardo Sánchez (del PUSC).
Ambos proyectos pretenden modificar la ley que creo este parque nacional en 1991 y su extensión. Ellos están siendo evaluados actualmente en una subcomisión de la Asamblea. “De aprobarse, estos eliminarían la protección estricta de la playa de Baulas, permitiendo desarrollos que amenazarían esta franja de tierra que sirve de zona de amortiguamiento para la playa de anidación de tortuga baula mas importante del Pacifico Oriental”, agrego Arauz.
Por su parte, el diputado Sánchez se defendió diciendo: “No son los extranjeros los que nos van a decir como cuidar las baulas. Ellos no tienen autoridad moral después de que destruyeron sus propios países. Más bien, hay que decir que algunos hasta han estado cobrando a costillas de la naturaleza Tica. Hay estudiantes a quienes les cobran $2,000 o $3,000 por venir aquí a analizar baulas, y de eso, Costa Rica no ve un cinco”, denuncio.
“Este país no tiene $700 millones para hacer las expropiaciones que se piden para que se mantenga este parque. ¡Tenemos que buscar alternativas para convivir con la naturaleza sin destruirla! Técnicamente se ha demostrado que esto se puede hacer y hay expertos de lugares como Boca Ratón, en Miami, que lo comprueban”, explico Sánchez.
“Hay tiempo hasta noviembre para que los proyectos pasen a la comisión. Si no, quedarían pendientes hasta mayo del próximo año”, detallo el diputado.
La Baula (Dermochelis coriaciea) es la única tortuga marina con “espalda de cuero” y la más grande: pesa unos 500 kilogramos y mide hasta 1,75 metros. En las ultimas dos décadas su población mundial se redujo en un 97% y se calcula que solo quedan 1.700 hembras en edad reproductiva en el mundo, de allí la importancia de preservar los sitios de anidación.
Miguel Gómez, biólogo y coordinador de las campañas de la Red Pretoma, aseguro que la gran cantidad de personas apoyando esta iniciativa representa un mensaje muy claro para las autoridades costarricenses. Este apoyo lo obtuvieron los costarricenses que participaron en octubre pasado del Congreso Mundial para la Naturaleza en Barcelona, España.
“La comunidad conservacionalista global esta observando de cerca las acciones que Costa Rica toma para proteger las baulas, y espera que la nación actúe de acuerdo a la reputación internacional que se ha forjado”, enfatizo Gómez.

GOBIERNO RESPIRA ALIVIADO POR TLC

Irene Vizcaíno
La Nación, El país, pagina 5A
Noviembre 12, 2008


El Gobierno respiro ayer aliviado con la aprobación en la Asamblea Legislativa de la última de 13 leyes para implementar el TLC.
De esta forma llega a su fin un camino tortuoso de gran presión social, que comenzó en mayo del 2004 con la firma del acuerdo comercial con Centroamérica, Republica Dominicana y EE.UU.
El proceso tomo rutas insospechadas, como la conformación de una alianza entre cinco fracciones legislativas o la realización del primer referendo nacional, el 7 de octubre del 2007.
También condujo a la aprobación del rompimiento de los monopolios en telecomunicaciones y seguros, cuyo solo intento causo revuelo en otros tiempos.
Por tales razones, la concreción de la meta motivo ayer la celebración del presidente de la Republica, Oscar Arias y quienes lo acompañaron en las negociaciones.
“Mas vale tarde que nunca, estoy muy feliz (…) Creo que este atraso ha significado mucha perdida de inversión tanto nacional como extranjera; pero bueno, así es Costa Rica, nos toma mucho tiempo sacar adelante la tarea”, expreso el mandatario durante una actividad en la Cámara Costarricense Norteamericana de Comercio.
Para el viceministro de la Presidencia, Roberto Thompson, el proceso más bien fue “exitosísimo” gracias a que siempre mantuvieron una “visión de país”.
Cerrado el capitulo TLC en la Asamblea Legislativa, corresponde al Poder Ejecutivo terminar la redacción de los reglamentos a esas leyes. Según Thompson, estarán listos el 10 de diciembre.
Representantes del sector empresarial también aplaudieron la aprobación de la última de las 13 leyes de implementación del tratado, aunque destacaron las dificultades que enfrentaron.
“transcurrieron cuatro largos años; lamentablemente todo este tiempo de espera ocasiono la perdida de 6.000 puestos de trabajo”, dice un comunicado de la Cámara Textil Costarricense.
Mientras tanto, la Unión Costarricense de Cámaras urgió al Congreso a discutir otros proyectos dentro de una agenda de desarrollo y de competitividad.

Sun is Shining, the Fishing is Sweet

Fishing along the Pacific coast has been steady the past few weeks. The red tide is gone and weather patterns are normal with beautiful days and some showers at night. The boats in the northern Pacific have been catching some eating fish and some nice marlin. On the central Pacific, we have been bottom fishing and chasing schools of big tuna. The inshore fishing and tuna bit has been the main focus in the southern Pacific. The fresh water bite at Arenal continues to be good and the fishermen in the northern region are getting ready for their big tarpon tournament in September.

Northern Pacific

Capt. Randy Wilson on the Talking Fish in Tamarindo took the Wilkins family from South Carolina out for a great day on the water. They caught a 250-pound blue marlin, six yellowfin tuna, six grouper and a nice mahi mahi. The Ross family recently fished with Capt. Adam Hermsen on the Ocean Smasher. Hermsen said they found a trash line about 10 miles off the beach in Tamarindo with a bunch of logs and debris and the bite was “wide open.” They ended the day with eight wahoo, 25 yellowfin tuna and about 20 dorado with all fish being in the 15- to 40-pound range. Capt. Warren Sellers reports no red tide and calm blue waters at Flamingo Beach. Mike Hurd and family recently fished on the Scorpion (58 Bertram).
They caught a bunch of tuna and released a 350-plus-pound blue marlin. William Tuomela went kayak fishing with Captain Ralph Solano and caught some nice roosterfish and a small grouper. Chris Atkins from Go Due South said the highlight of Williams trip was a near hookup on a big wahoo and a near hook up on a small marlin. Rob Gordon from Sportfishing Carillo reports a solid bite and blue water with good numbers of sailfish, dorado and tuna.

Central Pacific

Capt. Jeremy Trujillo on the R&J in Los Sueños took a father and son out for a day on the water. They got into the tuna right away and before noon had eight tuna in the 40- to 60-pound range. They also caught a nice mahi mahi. Capt. RJ Lilley on the Predator continues to catch fish at the “26 rock.” The “26 rock” is a local hotspot between Quepos and Jacó. Lilley took a couple of guys from Florida out and caught eight wahoo and eight yellowfin tuna. The Lohmann family fished on the Signed Out with Capt. Mike Parr and found a pod of sailfish. They ended the day going 13 for 18 on sailfish. Thirteen sailfish in one day is good anytime – but in July, it’s amazing.
The captain said they just got into a migrating gang of sails that were feeding on small shrimp. Capt. Bill Kieldsen on the Sailfish released five sailfish. They fished a popular drop off about 25 miles from Los Sueños Marina called “the corner.” Capt. Dave Mothershead on the Miss Behavin fished the 26 rock and caught one of everything it seems. They caught sailfish, dorado, wahoo, tuna, two types of grouper, two types of snapper and a few others. I went fishing with some friends on the Dragin Fly. The captain found some spinner dolphin and over the next few hours we caught seven tuna in the 30- to 60-pound range. We kept four fish and released the others.
We could have easily caught 20 tuna had we stayed on them. We had a few tuna rookies on the boat and the hard fighting tuna wore those boys out. I didn’t see any tears – but it was close. It was a fun day with good friends on a great boat and, to top it all off, we caught some nice fish. Raúl Cabezas reports the guys on the Reel Deal in Quepos have been catching a nice mixed bag of fish each day. They have been averaging two sailfish, two wahoo, two mahi mahi and two tuna per day. Leanne Batten from Quepos Sailfishing Charters had a few groups in recently. Larry Elliot caught snapper, grouper and his first roosterfish on his honeymoon trip to Quepos. The Debbie Futterer group was so big they needed 2 boats and caught sailfish, mahi mahi, lots of snapper and lots of yellowfin tuna Patrick Somereville and Danielle Pierce from Pittsburgh fished with Capt. Dave Dobbins on Fish LaManta and caught two sailfish, some grouper and a nice dorado.

The next day anglers Mike Corn and Robert Maloney had steady action with all the yellowfin tuna and wahoo they wanted. Bluefin Sportfishing reports a steady bite in July. They have been catching sailfish, roosterfish and lots of tuna, wahoo and mahi mahi. Highlights were a few giant roosterfish and several tuna over 80 pounds.

Southern Pacific

Rudy Dodero of Sportfishing Dominical had a few anglers out recently and big tuna was the main target. The hot spot has been the Furuno Bank just south of Quepos. Deflet Sabok went out alone and caught some big amberjack and hooked up a 200- plus-pound yellowfin tuna. Paul Bradley from Georgia spends time in Dominical and fishes the Sierpe River with Captain Pablo Chaves. Paul said “the fishing this past week was excellent, with multiple sea bass, grouper and snappers.”

Northern Region

Fishing conditions on Lake Arenal through mid-July have been excellent. There has been an excellent top-water bite and on several days anglers have caught eight to 12 guapote in the 4- to 8-pound range. The International Rio San Juan Fishing tournament will be held Sept. 13 and 14. This is the oldest fishing tournament in Central America. Last year there were 25 participants, and this year, they are hoping for 50. You can bring your own boat into Nicaragua from Los Chilis and there is no fee or tax if you are participating tournament. Anyone interested in fishing in the 50-year-old tarpon tournament can contact Philippe Tisseaux of San Carlos Sport fishing.

Expats surprised by contents of immigration bill

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some expats reacted with surprise Monday when they learned about a proposed rewrite of the nation's immigration laws that would mean pensionados and rentistas would need to show a lot more financial depth.The draft would require pensionados to show they had an income of $2,000 a month, and rentistas would have to show a continuing monthly income of $5,000. Pensionados now must show a monthly income of at least $600. Rentistas must show a continuing income of at least $1,000 a month.Some expats said in e-mails to A.M. Costa Rica that they felt they had been blindsided. There is reason to their claim. Representatives from many government and non-governmental groups met for nine months to devise the new draft. It replaced one introduced at the beginning of the Óscar Arias administration.However, there was no indication that any expats or expat groups were invited to participate in the discussions.Some expats pointed to a proposal to tax so-called luxury homes as another example of killing the golden goose. The Arias administration will assess a .25 percent tax on homes worth from $150,000 and up. Most homes owned by expats would fall into that category as would condos where the share of the commons area would be included in the value.The immigration measure is in the Comisión Permanente de Gobierno y Administración. The luxury home tax is on the verge of being approved a second and final time, perhaps this week.Some callers and e-mail authors cited the current world economic situation as a reason Costa Rican officials might want to go easy on expats.But some also brought up the basic xenophobia of Costa Ricans and the jealousy that has been building up as land prices rise and more and more well-off North Americans take over choice locations.There is a certain trend that way in both the Arias administration and the previous Abel Pacheco administration. When the update to the immigration law came to the legislature in 2005 the category of rentista had been stricken. The rentista status is a major category in which well-off individuals who are not retirement age can come to Costa Rica and remain legally. At the time spokesmen for Pacheco said that the category was being exploited by foreign criminals who wanted to move here. Eventually the category was put back in the bill, which then passed. This is the law that the Arias administration seeks to replace.At least two e-mail authors were so surprised by the bill that they said they thought the news story Monday was a hoax created by A.M. Costa Rica. One was a Costa Rican. They were given this link to the draft law published Oct. 27 in the La Gaceta official newspaper.The Arias bill is being touted as another weapon against crime, but one e-mail author pointed out that only rich crooks would be able to settle in Costa Rica if the draft became law.Expats sent in a handful of letters to be published, but none wanted their name associated with the letter. All cited the economic benefit to Costa Rica in having expats live here. The benefits included job creation, purchasing power and increases in bank deposits. Several were livid that those who already live here would have to meet the new requirements the next time they have to renew their residencies. That thought they had some legal claim to a grandfather clause. The draft law does not create a safe harbor for these people, although the courts might. The draft says they must meet the requirements in "the present law." The phrase is a bit ambiguous, but the draft seems to be talking about the new law when it goes into effect.At least one poster to an online discussion group claimed that the draft was just another idea that soon would die on the vine. But this draft law is strongly supported by the Arias administration, which has rallied nearly every public and private body interested in immigration behind it, including the Catholic bishops. It has been the policy of the administration since the president's inauguration to restructure the existing immigration law.Some e-mail writers said they would take refuge in being a perpetual tourist and leave the country every 90 days to renew their tourism visa. Many expats do that now. But another aspect of the draft law is to strengthen the immigration police, and this could mean a crackdown on those tourists working for pay or running businesses.Curiously, no rules about perpetual tourists are included in the draft legislation, nor are any specifics on the residency category of inversionista or investor.Those who drafted the legislation have bigger problems than expats. They are trying to overlay rules on a mostly uncontrolled immigration movement from Nicaragua and provide a framework to fight Central American youth gangs and human trafficking. these topics are stressed in the legislation.

Administration publishes comprehensive document New immigration draft would require more income

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Arias administration has come up with a rewrite of its proposed immigration law that jacks up financial requirements for pensionados to $2,000 a month and for rentistas to $5,000.Pensionados now must show a monthly income of at least $600. Rentistas must show a continuing income of at least $1,000 a month.The law also appears to say that, if passed, pensionados and rentistias will be required to meet the new, higher requirements when they renew their permission to stay in the country.The proposed law, which the legislature published in the La Gaceta official newspaper last week, also would require that all foreigners, whatever their status, temporary or permanent, would have to join the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. That agency provides medical care and other services, but many expats already have medical coverage.Tourists would not be required to join the Caja, and the proposed law is silent on so-called perpetual tourists, who live in Costa Rica and circumvent the spirit of the tourism category by leaving the country every 90 days. The law also is silent on the category of inversionista except to list it as one of the temporary classes of residency.The law also established fines for those who employ illegal residents, including tourists who do not have the right to work here. Fines can range over 600,000 colons (about $1,090) for every illegal employee.The immigration department would have six months instead of the current three months to process residency applications.The tone of the law has changed from a simple summary of immigration rules to what the preface calls a judicial instrument against criminality and corruption in immigration.For expats, the news will be troubling. Javier Zavaleta of Residency in Costa Rica noted that the $2,000 a month requirement is near the top of what U.S. citizens could get as Social Security payments. Many U.S. citizens use their Social Security income to show they have the finances to live here as a pensionado. The U.S. Embassy staff also has produced Social Security documents that the immigration department accepts.Zavaleta, who brought the changes to the attention of A.M. Costa Rica, said he would be posting a summary to his Web site. He said he was bracing for a flood of applicants who wanted to take advantage of the existing law in case the proposal is passed."I think the proposed income requirements for the pensionado and rentista programs are outrageously high," Zavaleta said, "and that they will only serve to drive away those individuals and families who are considering Costa Rica as their retirement destination. I can’t imagine how the Asamblea arrived at those amounts. It’s very disappointing."The current rentista regulation says an applicant in that category must have a continual monthly income of at least $1,000. Informally the immigration department accepts proof that an applicant has $60,000 in a bank. If the proposal is passed and immigration officials insist on proof of five years of income, an applicant would have to show a bank deposit of $300,000 or an investment generating at least $5,000 a month. An applicant would need to have about $1.7 million in savings at the current rates of return to show a continual income of $5,000 a month. The country has been plagued by fake marriages contracted by powers of attorney with willing Costa Ricans, most of whom received pay for agreeing to the scam. The proposed law provides that a foreigner seeking to gain residency here with a marriage to a Costa Rican has to show that the union has been consummated. In addition, the proposed law spells out year-to-year requirements that the couple stays together. The foreign spouse could get residency only after three years.For tourists who overstay their visas, the proposal law would assess $100 for each month in excess of the legal period. Another section, speaking about those who overstay their visa period in general, specifies a fine of $25 per month but the individual would not be able to return to the country for three times the period of illegality. Legal tourists would be able to extend their stay here for 90 days more by paying $100, the proposal says.The proposal also lengthens the time someone staying here legally as a temporary resident, pensionado, rentista or inversionista, could seek permanent residency from the current three years to five.The measure is in the Comisión Permanente de Gobierno y Administración. If passed, the law would update one passed in 2005 during the Abel Pacheco administration. The Arias administration was critical of the 2005 law and called in draconian.So shortly after taking office, President Óscar Arias Sánchez and his ministers drafted a new proposal that was supposed to be more observant of human rights. Among other objections, the Catholic bishops expressed concern that those running refugees for illegal immigrants would face legal action. The proposed law exempts from prosecution those sheltering illegals for humanitarian reasons. But ordinary hotel owners could be punished for housing illegals.The preamble said that this new proposal comes after more than 800 hours of discussions among officials, the Defensoría de los Habitantes, human rights groups, non-governmental organizations, the state universities, employers, and others. The new draft gives more authority to the director general de Migración y Extranjería. The Consejo de Migración is reduced to an advisory body. That group had trouble meeting because funds were not available to pay per diems for members. The consejo used to decide on residency applications.The draft would award 7 billion colons (about $13 million) to restructure the agency to carry out the new law. The proposal also includes a 5 percent raise for immigration employees, except for the director and the subdirector.The draft is highly detailed, although it does give power to draw up regulations to address specific points. It contains 274 separate sections. As in previous drafts, the immigration police would be raised to the level of the Fuerza Pública but report to the immigration director.

Relief in Guanacaste to be Spelled C-I-M-A State-of-the-art hospital should be completed by 2011

By Vanessa I. Garnicavgarnica@ticotimes.net
Tico Times Staff

The northwestern province of Guanacaste is going to get its first state-of-the-art private hospital for locals as well as foreigners here on medical vacations.
The project would include a new CIMA Hospital, a building with medical practice offices, a commercial section with restaurants and an apartment hotel building, said Carole Veloso, director of CIMA Hospital in the western San José suburb of Escazú. Developers plan to break ground in January, with an estimated date of completion by the end of 2010 or early 2011, said Lou Aguilera of developer Pacific Plaza Health and Living.
The hospital, as well as the other buildings, would be located next to the Do-it Center in the canton of Carrillo, on the road between Liberia International Airport and the region’s seaside resort areas. This private hospital not only would serve the local residents of Guanacaste but the growing foreign clientele seeking high-quality care. “The number of patients may vary due to the fact that these facilities may not only serve patients from around the province, but also may serve foreigners visiting for ‘medical tourism’ purposes,” said Veloso.
Medical tourism is a fast-growing trend in which people travel to another country to obtain cosmetic and dental surgeries, among some procedures, at a lower price. “For these tourists to recover fully from their procedures, a hotel accommodation would be provided for a prolonged stay,” said Veloso.
On average, this type of services offers units with one or two rooms with complete kitchens for stay up to five days long. In June, 21 doctors launched Costa Rica Medical Holding, the country’s first medical tourism consortium. The group will promote its services primarily in the United States, where it also hopes to cultivate working relationships with insurance companies
“More than 750,000 Americans received medical care abroad last year,” said Hernán Campos, the consortium’s manager. “We estimate that in 2010, at least 40,000 of them will visit Costa Rica.” The CIMA Hospital in Guanacaste would be about 20,000 square meters in size and would have an emergency room open 24 hours a day. It would also include surgery and recovery rooms, an X-ray facility, diagnosis and specialties rooms as well. The property for this project, whose exact cost is still being analyzed, used to belong to Federico Apestegui, one of the first Guanacaste developers.
According to Aguilera, Apestegui helped in the development of the province during the last 60 years. In 2005, Apestegui passed away leaving the land to his daughter, Luisa Apestegui, who happens to be Aguilera’s wife. Furthermore, Aguilera is currently calculating the indirect and direct number of jobs that this project would generate. “We are certain there would be a big demand for a qualified workforce within the construction sector,” Aguilera said. “These workers would positively impact not only the Carrillo economy but the economy of Guanacaste as well.”
CIMA hospitals are part of Internationa