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Residencias Los Jardines - Life & Times

ISSUE #489: Dec. 8-14, 2013

Changes Pending + Big Santa Ana Dvlp.

Changes Pending + Big Santa Ana Dvlp.

Brian Timmons, Newsletter Author
Brian Timmons

Dear friends,

When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly news letter -determined to tell all the good, bad, and the ugly. I knew some readers would be interested in the construction process. I expected others might be interested in the lifestyle of two people who had decided to live outside the box. For others, the adventures of Lita, the parrot and the cat took on an entertainment saga all its own.

Residencias Los Jardines is finished. We periodically have resales and rental availability. Some readers may be interested in this information.

Brian Timmons
DEVELOPER / PROPERTY MANAGER
Residencias Los Jardines / http://www.residenciaslosjardines.com info@residenciaslosjardines.com
ResidenciasPropertyManagement@gmail.com

 

Featured house this week

Paradisus Condos / Rorhmoser
FOR SALE

Paradisus Condos - click to visit

Paradisus will consist of 4 towers in Rorhmoser, a suburb to the west of central San Jose. Not far from the US Embassy and shopping malls, Rorhmoser is a residential area that was developed in the 60's and 70's and is currently seeing significant re-development with high end condos. It is the area where the new stadium and a number of luxury high rise condos have recently been built with more on the drawing boards. Phase one of this development is nearing completion; it consists of two towers and the amenities -pool, exercise room, etc. Tower one is expected to be completed in January and Tower 2 should follow in February / March. The location of this development is superb... it's off the main traffic paths and sits on a ravine overlooking a river. To the east is San Jose / Heredia; to the west is Pavas / Escazu. With floor to ceiling windows and a wrap around balcony, these units offer fantastic light and views.

Each of the units consists of two bedrooms / two bathrooms, and a large living/dining/kitchen area. The floor plan of each of these units has eliminated the optional "den / office" divider. The result is a larger area offering more flexible furniture arrangements while still maintaining the option of including an office area. At 105m2 plus two parking spots each and storage locker, they offer a great opportunity for someone seeking views, security, central location, and first class, all round living...

Read more about Paradisus Condos

 

Infinity Terraces
FOR SALE

Infinity Terraces - click to visit

$229,000 / 2 bdrm / 2 bthrm / Penthouse / Sunset Views / 150 m2 / 1500 sf

INFINITY TERRACES: Pozos de Santa Ana / Guachapelin -contemporary design, well maintained, luxury 5th floor  penthouse condo nestled in the hills of Santa Ana. Spacious open floor plan with 16 ft. vaulted ceilings, large kitchen w/SS appliances and granite countertops, laundry room w/ washer and dryer, air-conditioned. Plenty of closet space. : 5 year old / two car parking / bodega… building has high security, gym , hot tub and swimming pool.. 180 degree sunset views to west and north (Alejuela). 5 min. to San Jose – Caldera Highway / Multiplaza. This unit offers a secure, carefree lifestyle; you can lock and leave or leave and lease.

View more pictures of Infinity Terraces

 

Loma Real Escazu / Guachipelin, Central Valley
FOR SALE

Loma Real Escazu - click to visit

$325,000 / 3 bdrms + maids rm / 3.5 bthrms / owner financing

Beautiful house in residential area: 24 hours security. 274 m2 construction. 2 story, 3 bedrooms + maids quarters, 3 1/2 bathrooms, ample eat-in kitchen, six years old, immaculate condition, lot 264 m2 professionally landscaped, two car enclosed garage, 1500 L reserve water tank, electric demand water heaters, Independent office. Located close to all amenities. Taxes $500 yearly and security $80 monthly.

House can be purchased furnished for an additional $30,000
Owner will take back a mortgage for up to 5 yrs. @ 12% interest only.

View more pictures of Loma Real Escazu

 

Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales

Market Activity

Sales: two calls, one viewing.

Rentals: a few inquiries for both short and long term stays.

 

FOR SALE

Unit #114: $235,000 / See Unit

FOR RENT

Nothing Available

Site Plan

 

HOUSE FOR SALE

UNIT #114
FOR SALE $235,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): Single Floor
Type: Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.

 

Our Lives

WEATHER: The normal trade winds are starting... some partially overcast days but beautiful as always.

All in a Week's Living in CR:

1. Changes Pending -Los Jardines Mgt.: The outside property management route made 8 mo. ago was assessed as a failure and the contract has been terminated. Aside from the person assigned to the job, the company over stated it's capabilities and the Board bought into it... through experience, they have come to realize that what they had been told at the outset was much more accurate and that their rationale for hiring the company / or any company was flawed. The future remains to be invented and there are a lot of issues to be addressed... all are solvable but...

Jaco is beginning to see two large, new construction projects -the CROC hotel and casino is up to the 6 floor and the Oceana condo project is nearing completion. There were not many tourists in the city and the restaurants were empty. Our friend's hotel occupancy -and they do very well as they are highly rated on Trip Advisor and similar rating agencies- is down from last year... they are not seeing N. Am. much and fewer Europeans... but are seeing more local resident clientele.

2. Reader Comment: I received the following from a friend of 40 years. This was in response to a cryptic comment I made about a CR having to pay a $35 mil. penalty for canceling a contract but who cared since it will be paid with borrowed or begged money...

I don't know if you follow the news from ontario, it is getting almost as goofy as the unbelievable things you put in your news letter from CR.
The Govt. forced Ontario hydro into a political cancellation of something that likely will cost them close to a billion to get out of. Then they double down and spend almost as much to cover their ass. It appears that the consumer is stuck with a 30% increase in cost forever, to cover this mess. Next they got a Health Care boss who spends $2.500 a night in paris on a hotel room, charges thousands in party expenses here and in Rio. Now he is thinking of suing them because he didn't get a bonus on top of his 2.5 million annual salary. Next they got the mayor of London ont. who evidently has scammed 8 million off a charity fund his son operates, this is after he charged his son's wedding expenses to the City.
These guys are lucky Rob Ford is around to pick up the heat, evidently, other than being a buffoon and #@^&*!, he has never taken two cents from anyone.
See, you have no exclusivity of nonsense down there, we can hold our own up here.

3. Exchange Rate: while the following is highly speculative, the investment group cite additional information to suggest there continues to be the possibility of theexchange rate moving in favor of a stronger dollar, eg. from the current 495:1 to 550:1... why? for whatever reason, there are fewer dollars entering the CR banking system in the last few months than this time last year. The government has had to spend less colones to purchase dollars. The government wants to stimulate employment and exports and tourism are suffering. We'll see what happens in March / April...

4. Santa Ana Mixed Use Development: see #9 below. This will be a big contribution to Santa Ana. And now for this week's goofy news...

 

 

News Items of the Week

1. Electricity Rates: they went down a few months ago by a few percent. In January they will be going up about 6.7% in our area... however, it may actually be more for the condo association since the two meters are heavy consumers and the way rates are here, is that the more you use, the higher the cost per kwh... this is to encourage conservation. Los Jardines pays about $900 mo and our personal monthly cost is about $150.

2. Group Assault in Limon: not good for tourism but not a one-off event either.

3. Terror Bases: this is not a new assertion. Israeli intel has been shown to be pretty good however Israel does have a political ax to swing. A Guatemalan friend who claims to have been involved with the CIA during the Nicaraguan contra affair, believes Israel's claim.

4. Vendor Assisted Financing: We have found this to be beneficial in some cases. It can represent a good investment and if structured properly, a reasonably secure investment for the seller.

5. Paragon: this is a follow up on a dead scam. It will be a very long and expensive road to recovery.

6. Pesticide Use in CR: While a number of people have questioned the clearly outstanding amount of pesticides in CR, as presented, it is cearly alarming. And all along, CR touts itself as environmentally friendly...

7. Criminal Group: nice to have the police on the side of the bad guys... happens all the time here.

8. Limon Shooting: notice how many times the guy who got shot had been arrested for the same thing.

9. Santa Ana Development: This has been in the planning stage for a year or so but this is the first solid information I've seen on it. It is suppose to be based on the "Avenida Escazu" development. That development has been very successful and I suspect this one will as well.

10. Chinese Road Construction: yep, fixed price contract with no specs... and no organization competent to assess iti... and with land yet to be confiscated when the rout is finally sorted out. Looks like another disaster in the making... only in CR can disaster after disaster happen so rapidly...

11. Gold Mine Breach of Contract Suit -$1 billion: While I don't personally think the world needs an open pit goldmine in CR, the issue is whether the goverbment can abitrarily break a legally binding contract unilaterally... after all, the government is just spending $35 mil. of which it doesn't have -to pay off another contractor after breaking that contract.

12. Cost of Living: while this has nothing to do with CR, I thought it interesting that the most expensive city this year is Caracus, Venezuela... which is falling apart and is likely due for a terrible civil war in 2014... note, the 2nd. leading candidate in CR's current political race, is a socialist modeling his plans for CR along Venezuela's current ideology... some people never learn and history does repeat itself... so there goes that myth...

 

1. Electric rates will increase in January

December 10th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The new year will kick off with an increase in electricity rates after the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (ARESEP) gave its go-ahead to a rate hike for the first quarter of next year.

On average, rates will increase by about 5%, depending on the provider (see table below). ARESEP said it approved the major because of variations in fuel costs used in some generation.

ARESEP is also holding a Friday public hearing to address an additional proposal to lower rates for large commercial consumers by 30%, while increasing rates for residential consumers by 11%. A decision on that issue will be made before the end of the month.

2. Group of 30 to 40 foreign tourists assaulted in Tortuguero

December 10th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) A group of between 30 and 40 foreign tourists were assaulted at gunpoint yesterday morning as they made their way to an area hotel by boat in Tortuguero, Limon, police officials confirmed.

According to Edwin Miranda of the Fuerza Publica, the group was traveling by river in a boat to a hotel in Tortuguero when a speedboat intercepted them. Four armed men then boarded the boat in which they were traveling, stripping the tourists of their belongings, passports, and cash.

All of the tourists were foreigners, including American, Spanish, and other European tourists, authorities said.

A massive search was conducting by both land and air, including with the assistance of the Coast Guard, but authorities have so far turned up empty-handed.

3. Israel says Iran has ‘terror bases’ in Nicaragua, other Latin American countries

December 10th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Israel’s defense minister on Monday accused Iran of using its diplomatic personnel and embassies to create ‘terrorist bases’ in Nicaragua and other Latin American countries, and transferring guns and bombs through diplomatic mail pouches, without providing evidence for the claims.

“The Iranians use diplomatic mail [pouches] in order to transport bombs and weapons, and we know that there are states in South America, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, where the Iranians have terror bases, both in the embassies and among the local Shi’ite Muslim populations.

Wherever there are Iranian embassies, they also serve as bases for espionage and terrorism,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement after meeting with visiting Guatemalan President Otto Perez.

Ya’alon believes these bases can be used to attack Jewish or Israeli interests in the region, or to stage attacks inside of the U.S. similar to the foiled 2011 attack on a Saudi ambassador in Washington, DC.

“They are taking advantage of the drug smuggling routes from South America into the United States in order to move weapons there,” he said.

“[The Iranians] are building a terror infrastructure in South America to attack Jews and Israeli interests,” he said, “but they are also using these bases that they have built in places like Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela to act against the United States,” he said.

This is not the first time reports from Israel have claimed the presence of terrorist camps in Nicaragua. Israeli media reports in September 2012 claimed that Lebanon’s Hezbollah was training terrorists in a secret location in northern Nicaragua, near the Honduran border.

“Approximately 30 members of the terrorist organization reside inside the area, which is closed to locals,” the Times of Israel reported at the time.

Israeli and Argentine authorities have also long suspected Iranian involvement in the bombings of a Jewish centre and the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in the 1990s that killed scores of people, charges denied by Iran.

4. One option to make a sale is an owner-carry mortgage
By Garland M. Baker
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

In a market where buyers are scarce, sellers need to look at all the options to snag a sale. Owner financing is one option available to sellers, but many expats are scared to death of the courts and shy away from carrying a mortgage.

The judicial debt collection law, Ley 8624, changed collection processes significantly upon its enactment in May 2008. Before the extensive revisions made by the law to collection actions, carrying a mortgage was scary. There were so many ways a dishonest debtor could hoodwink an honest creditor. Trying to collect a debt took years in many cases, and in some, creditors just gave up because of the inefficiency of the system.

The new law is better than the old one but still has its share of problems. The old scheme allocated collection cases into the regular courts, overwhelming them in many jurisdictions. The newer law created special collection courts and put many cases in few places to process them, thus bottlenecking the system.

To this day, from the enactment of the law back in 2008, the special courts are still jammed and slow. However, even though they move like molasses, they do move and have not come to a complete standstill as with some courts under the original, outdated law.

Because of these facts, lending institutions and private individuals used guarantee trusts in lieu of mortgages.

This structure was extremely convenient for sellers because a notary transferred assets into a special trust and registered it at the Registro Nacional. There was no transfer tax on this kind of a transaction until laws 9068 and 9069, law for the enforcement of fiscal transparency and law for strengthening tax enforcement, made some major changes to Costa Rica’s code of commerce. Article 662 eliminated the tax exemption of property transfer taxes when transferring property between trustor and trustee.

If a debtor did not pay, assets were returned without too much hoopla. This changed when debtors started to complain the structures were pacto comisorio and not legal in Costa Rica. A pacto comisorio, known in English as a termination or rescission agreement, is illegal in many Latin American countries because Roman law is the foundation to most legal systems here.

Is it a good idea to carry a mortgage? The answer depends on the borrower. They are not all created equally. Some are deadbeats waiting for the right person to bamboozle, while most are honest buyers looking for an investment, second home, or simply to retire to this beautiful country.

Seth Derish of Costa Rica Investigations, an international private investigation firm, says good due diligence is key to lending money. Costa Rica has several credit reporting agencies that provide in-depth information on Costa Ricans and foreign residents alike. However, the information available on non-Costa Ricans is sketchy at best.

Derish explained that when lending to a foreigner a creditor should do a study about them in their home country. Many services to do so are available today. Paying someone to prepare a due diligence workup on a borrower is just good business and a great investment, he said. Good, credit worthy borrowers rarely default on a debt unless there are extenuating circumstances. In those cases, they usually are up front about any problems and try to work out a compromise.

Taking a mortgage on a property in Costa Rica is not the only option available for property sold here, Derish added. Taking a first deed of trust on a foreign property, perhaps in the States where there is a good legal system, is a good alternative, he said.

Offering financing to sell a home or property definitely helps to market it. It can also be profitable since interest is higher here than in other countries like the United States or Canada.

Even though the collection system in Costa Rica is not perfect and slow, it does work. The slowest part is at the beginning, waiting for the auction dates. Yes, dates, usually three, are set. The first one is for the full amount, the second for 25 percent less and the third 50 percent of the original amount.

Lenders who are collecting can bid at the auction or take back the asset if there are no bidders. One very important thing for lenders to remember is that interest in this country expires after one year. If a borrower is in default, it is important to go to collection immediately because then interest is protected.

Also, crucial, is to never make a deal with a debtor without legal counsel. Deals, deferred payments, returning of assets without a court case, or just trying to be a nice person usually backfires due to restrictions on pactos comisorio and out-of-court settlements.

Carrying a mortgage or other financial instrument when trying to sell a property can be the difference between selling or waiting forever for a buyer. There is no shortcut for using a good attorney with years of financing experience. However, most of them do not know much about international due diligence, so potential creditors must know the borrower and investigate. Good bankable advice.

5. Some Paragon purchasers seek to organize to regain possession of property
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Some former Paragon Properties buyers are trying to organize to retain ownership of the land they purchased.

Paragon was the heavily marketed real estate venture that collapsed in the face of the economic downturn.

The company purchased large tracts and sold them as retirement lots to mostly a North American clientele. The project was fueled by telephone pitchmen in Florida offering free trips to Costa Rica.

Paragon sold property in several ways as owners became more familiar with Costa Rican law. William Gale, Paragon chairman, said in early 2009 that his firms had sold 2,509 lots in some 17 projects along the Pacific coast. Many of those purchasers put down an initial deposit, perhaps 40 percent. According to a typical purchase agreement, the buyers said they would pay the balance and build a home, perhaps in as little as two years. Paragon agreed to put in roads, water systems in some projects and other infrastructure.

The owners who are trying to organize have purchased their property in the Paragon development Heights of Pacifica. Each property was a separate Costa Rican corporation and each owner was supposed to receive corporate books after the property was filed in the Registro Nacional.

One of the property owners, Lori Sirovy, said that about 20 property owners held a conference call last week and "it was amazing how few knew anything about having to pay taxes, where their books were, if they even owned the property they thought. We are trying to organize and share information."

The group has created a Facebook page where they hope to share information. There also is an email address: ListParagon@gmail.com

The property owners may be facing an uphill battle. A realty firm here is trying to enlist property owners as management clients to look after their land. The email fro m the firm mentioned the usual property perils, including squatters and herds of grazing cows.

Gale at one time showed a reporter documents that had been presented to the Registro. He also said he planned to make the bulk of his money building homes for his land purchasers.

A.M. Costa Rica criticized the firm for a skimpy sales contract, and a reporter took a tour of the first project at Parrita. The company did not seem much different than others during the real estate boom years, but it was clear that Paragon had high overhead with sale commissions to telephone pitchmen and free air tickets.

After the real estate bubble burst, Paragon was known to have sold substantial land in settlement of some debts. There has been no effort by the company executives to keep in contact with buyers, in part because they were facing a flurry of civil actions in Florida, where Gale was a licensed real estate broker.

6. PESTICIDE USE IN CR

RankCountriesAmount
# 1 Costa Rica: 51.2 kg
# 2 Colombia: 16.7 kg
# 3 Netherlands: 9.4 kg
# 4 Ecuador: 6 kg
# 5 Portugal: 5.3 kg
# 6 France: 4.6 kg
# 7 Greece: 2.8 kg
# 8 Uruguay: 2.7 kg
# 9 Suriname: 2.6 kg
= 10 Honduras: 2.5 kg
= 10 Germany: 2.5 kg
# 12 Austria: 2.4 kg
# 13 Dominican Republic: 2.1 kg

ANOTHER SOURCE:

A break down by type for 2009 was: Fungicides 53.3%, Herbicides 27.3%, Insecticides 13.7% Fumigants 5.4% and others 0.4%.

Whatever the figures are, after all is said and done, costa rica is overspraying and over treating their crops. some of the "cides" are not even legal in the u.s. and other countries. I know why I try to buy as much organic veggies and fruits as I can.

Costa Rica tries to spread the propaganda how green and natural the country is. many of us have known that is not close to being the truth in most situations.

7. Authorities dismantle criminal group that had help from police officer

December 12th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) In a series of 12 raids in Guápiles, agents of the Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ) succeeded in dismantling a criminal group dedicated to robbing homes and businesses as well as car theft. The group apparently operated with the assistance of a police officer of the Fuerza Publica in Limon.

A total of 11 individuals, most of whom have previous criminal records, were apprehended. One of those arrested is a 31-year-old police officer.

According to the director of the OIJ, Francisco Segura, the group operated with the assistance of a police officer that supplied the group with information on police activity, allowing the group to operate while evading law enforcement.

“[This group] has been operating for five years and have been arrested several times,” Segura said.

According to authorities, the group was involved in robberies across the country, from Guápiles, Guanacaste, Limon, and San José. In addition to home invasion robberies and stealing cars, the group has robbed jewelry stores and supermarkets, authorities said.

One of the suspects is also believed to have participated in the violent armed robbery of fifty worshippers during a church service in Limon.

Authorities also said the group would extort its victims into dropping charges against them.

8. Man shoots and kills attacker in Limon

December 12th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Police officials in Limon confirmed the shooting death of an alleged would-be armed robber near Matina in Limon.

According to initial reports, several subjects intercepted a man and attempted to rob him, when the man drew a firearm and managed to shoot and kill one of the attackers. The remaining suspects were able to escape.

Police authorities said the deceased man had a criminal record and two outstanding arrest warrants for armed robbery.

The shooter handed over his firearm to authorities, who are investigating the incident.

9. New development will give Santa Ana a downtown
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Santa Ana will be getting a downtown.

The rapidly growing community west of San José was once a sleepy agricultural center. But in the last 10 years it has become a trendy place for the well off and for luxury homes.A development company, Rocca S.A., is taking the trend one step further in creating what is being called City Place. The location is between the Cruz Roja building in Santa Ana and the Ruta 27 Caldera highway opposite the new Mas x Menos supermarket.

The company said it is developing a mixed-use project that will go up in three stages. The town center concept "includes several complementary applications that integrate with each other to stimulate commercial success. Among the various uses, City Place includes shops, restaurants, cinema, offices, services, nursery, gym, business center, hotel rooms and residences, all these integrated under an urban master plan through a modern and contemporary architecture."

The design is by Kirebe S.A. Rocca developed the Fuerte Ventura Shopping Center and the Wyndham Garden Hotel.

The unique feature of this project is a boulevard that is in the first stage. This will be a tree-lined roadway 30 meters wide by 150 meters long that will terminate near the greenery along the Río Uruca. The sidewalks will be five meters wide, the firm said. A meters is a bit more than 39 inches.

The development firm says it expects businesses located along the boulevard will take advantage of the sidewalks to have open-air activities. Some weekends the street will be closed to traffic to provide a venue for dances, fairs and concerts, the firm said.

The first stage is two buildings, one four stories and the other six. These will contain commercial and office space, a gym, a movie theater and basement parking. Housing is planned for the third stage.

The entire project is 30,000 square meters (323,000 square feet) of office space, 12,500 square meters (134,500 square feet) of shops, bars and restaurants, a hotel, a total of five movie theaters, a bank, pharmacy and other retail enterprises, said the firm.

10. Budget watchdog planning to review Chinese deal, too
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The budget watchdog agency says it, too, has to look over and approve the loan deal with China to widen Ruta 32 from Río Frio to Limón.

Twin loans to finance the project are in the legislature now for approval.

With many issues, the watchdog agency, the Contraloría General de la República, washed its hands of the project. For example, it said that when and if it receives a contract for the deal to study, it has no way of judging the prices. Officials have said that the price is fixed even though there have been no designs on which costs usually are figured.

The executive branch is making a direct award of the contract to a Chinese public construction firm. That means there will be no competitive bidding.

The Contraloría also pointed out that the estimated $90 million that Costa Rica will have to invest in the project is not now in the 2014 budget of the executive branch or the road agency, the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad. Under terms of the project, Costa Rica will have to take care of expropriating land, and that is estimated to cost about $20 million.

Casa Presidencial accepted the Contraloría's report with the statement that the agency has cleared the way for the deal. It also said that many of the technical issues raised by the watchdog agency have already been addressed.

The Contraloría also said that the terms of the deal were outside the competency of that agency and the executive branch and the legislature must be responsible for these.

The $465.6 million project would make Ruta 32 four lanes from Limón to Rio Frio, some 107.2 kilometers, a little more than 66 miles. There also would be extensive work on bridges and interchanges. In addition, there would have to be design plans created.

The Export–Import Bank of China would make two loans, one for $100 million at 2 percent interest and one for $296 million at 4 percent interest.

The measure is being studied in the legislative finance committee, the Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Hacendarios.

The People's Republic of China is pushing for fast loan approval. The contractors for the job, China Harbour Engineering Co. Group and China Road and Bridge Corp., are highly experienced.

11. Las Crucitas would have provided an economic boost

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Had the Las Crucitas project proceeded as originally planned, 2014 would have seen the commencement of actions necessary to implement a successful winding down of operations. Costa Rica would have by now received millions of dollars in the form of royalties and taxes, local people would be benefiting from employment and the local infrastructure would have received a much-needed cash infusion.

Infinito, together with the Costa Rican environment office would be in the planning stages for tree planting that would see the location being replanted with more trees than previously existed.

Instead, Las Crucitas is now headed towards international arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) where Infinito will seek US $ 1 billion in compensation for having its rights violated under the Canada-Costa Rica bilateral trade agreement.

Local demonstrations, online petitions, political party disagreements and environmental protests have no effect on ICSID decisions. The ICSID bases its rulings strictly on international trade agreements and have the power to disregard local government decisions and issue binding rulings that are fully supported by the World Bank.

For those who forget the history of this project or who choose simply to ignore it, Infinito obtained all the necessary permits to commence operations during the Pacheco administration. During that time, Infinito also received confirmation from the Sala 1V court that Las Crucitas was exempt from the Pacheco moratorium on open pit mining.

In 2010 after an extensive review process which included a site visit, the Sala 1V ruled that Infinito Gold could proceed with its open-pit gold mine, stating that all objections to the project were without merit.

“After reviewing the official studies, we did not find that this mining project will negatively affect the environment. So the project will go ahead,” Vanlly Cantillo, a court spokeswoman, said.

A statement from the Presidencia at that time said that a committee headed by Alfio Piva, second vice president, analyzed the decision by the Sala IV constitutional court. The decision basically found that the developer of the mine, Industrias Infinito S.A., has complied with the law.

During the permitting process for Las Crucitas, due to what can only be described as deliberate stalling, Infinito stated that it was prepared to proceed to international arbitration in order to protect its investment. The damages being sought at that time ranged between $200 to $400 million depending on which news source was read. Faced with that possibility, the permitting revue process quickly resumed its normal course and the ICSID application was dropped.

It was reasonable for Infinito to assume that, having received government approval, two Sala 1V decisions in favor of Las Crucitas and possessing all the necessary permits, to continue investing capital in the project. The fact that a lower court (an administrative tribunal) could effectively overrule Supreme Court decisions and annul the project gave Infinito no choice but to take its case to the ICSID. The power of Costa Rica's constitutional court seemingly has gone.

Allessandro Piva, an advisor to environment minister Rodriguez, stated early on in the project that Infinito would receive an indemnity if the project was cancelled and that the international community would rally with loans and donations to help pay the cost. Not now. Not when all the facts of the case are revealed at the ICSID. Not when the compensation figure is $1 billion. Costa Rica will unfortunately bare the full cost alone.

12. World's most expensive cities for foreign workers

For the first time ever, the world's most expensive city for international workers is Caracas, Venezuela, edging out even notoriously costly Tokyo and Oslo, Norway.

So reports ECA International, a company that specializes in employment conditions abroad.

Companies contract with ECA International to determine cost-of-living allowances for their expatriate employees. The biannual report compares, across hundreds of cities, a "basket" of consumer goods and services including groceries, clothes, electronics, gasoline costs and restaurant meals. (The basket does not include apartment/house rentals, utilities, school fees or auto purchases, because companies usually compensate expatriates separately for those.)

Rampant inflation pushed Caracas from No. 7 in the fall of last year all the way to the top of the list this fall: You can expect to pay the American equivalent of $3.04 for a can of soda, $7.28 for a dozen eggs, and $46.03 for a "quick lunch." Prices have shot up more than 60 percent compared with the same time last year for the same basket of goods and services.

In the United States, we're accustomed to thinking of New York City as expensive -- and of course it is, factoring in real estate. But based only on consumer goods and services, it doesn't even crack the top 30 internationally.

No U.S. city does.

On the other hand, Switzerland and Norway account for a whopping six out of the top 10 cities. Two cities in Africa, along with Caracas and Tokyo, round out the top 10.

These are the world's most expensive cities for workers from abroad: http://homes.yahoo.com/blogs/spaces/world-s-most-expensive-cities-for-foreign-workers-014251972.html

 

Brian, Lita, the Late Hugo IV, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, Chico II and Chica II

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