Expotur events remain closed to the public

The 2017 edition of Expotur will be held next May 11 and 12, and the organizers are expecting more than 5,000 business appointments to take place at the event. Unfortunately, this year will only allow registered business owners and buyers to attend.

Expotur is the main tourism fair in the country and it works as a networking point for the industry’s business people. It will take place at the Kölbi Business Center inside the Parque Viva complex located in La Guácima, Alajuela.

According to a release sent by the organizers, the place will be crowded with representatives of over 290 Central American tourism companies and buyers coming from at least 34 different countries.

This year’s show will also offer services in different areas that the Costa Rican tourism industry has started to develop, according to the document.

“In addition to nature, eco-tourism, adventure and beach tourism, this year we will emphasize cultural, birdwatching, wellness, and business tourism.”said Massi Devoto, the president of the Asociación Costarricense de Profesionales en Turismo.

“As an organization, we are partnering with the Costa Rican tourism board to adapt  Expotur to the demands of tourism sector,” he added.

Participants to the fair will enjoy performing arts and have a taste of local gastronomy in order to provide a more sensory experience of what the country really is.

Expotur fair has been organized for 33 years by an alliance between the private sector and the government.

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Two men arrested on a bus with an axe

Tuesday morning, police officers in La Cruz, Guanacaste, arrested two men who were supposedly preparing to rob a bus with a knife, a gun and an axe.

A woman called 911 when she saw them at a La Cruz bus station. She did so after recognizing them as the same two men who had allegedly robbed and physically assaulted her Sunday night, according to a report from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.

Apparently, the woman intended to ride the same bus but declined to do so out of fear they were going to rob the passengers, police said.

Once Fuerza Pública was alerted, police officers deployed a traffic control point to stop the bus and look for the individuals inside. They found the bus in front of Parque Nacional Santa Rosa and discovered the two individuals. They were taken into custody and the weapons were seized.

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Transgender persons head to classroom

A group of 16 students learning lessons in a classroom is not exactly breaking news but these 16 students all share a unique characteristic: They are all transgender.

Transvida, a Costa Rican-based association that caters to the needs of the transgender community, partnered with the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje to create a 216-hour course in introductory English. The course, held every Tuesday and Thursday for two hours each, is specifically geared towards learning English in the commercial sector, according to Casa Presidencial.

It also represents the first course that the institute is conducting exclusively for transgender people. “These courses are taught in order to provide opportunities to this population since they are mostly excluded from the formal education system, which limits them considerably to insert in the labor market,” the statement from Casa Presidencial said.

The institute, under the framework of the gender equality policy and a presidential directive, was declared a non-discriminatory institute on the basis of sexuality and gender identification.

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Volcano knowledge doesn’t include much on eruptions, study says

Despite broad understanding of volcanoes, our ability to predict the timing, duration, type, size, and consequences of volcanic eruptions is limited, according to a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

To improve eruption forecasting and warnings to save lives, the report identifies research priorities for better monitoring of volcanic eruptions and three grand challenges facing the volcano science community.

Volcano monitoring is critical for forecasting eruptions and mitigating risks of their hazards. However, few volcanoes are adequately observed, and many are not monitored at all.  For example, fewer than half of the 169 potentially active volcanoes in the U.S. have any seismometers, an instrument to detect small earthquakes that signal underground magma movement.

And only three have continuous gas measurements, which are crucial because the composition and quantity of dissolved gases in magma drive eruptions.

Enhanced monitoring combined with advances in experimental and mathematical models of volcanic processes can improve the understanding and forecasting of eruptions, the report said.

The committee that conducted the study and wrote the report also highlighted the need for satellite measurements of ground deformation and gas emissions, drone observations, advanced seismic monitoring, and real-time high-speed acquisition of data during eruptions.

New approaches in analytical capabilities to decipher magma history, and conceptual and experimental models of magmatic and volcanic phenomena, will provide new insights on the processes that explain how magma is generated and erupts.

“There have been great improvements in conceptual models of volcanic phenomena, compared with those used a few decades ago, but the volcano science community is not yet adequately prepared for the next large eruption,” said Michael Manga, professor in the department of earth and planetary science at the University of California, Berkeley, and chair of the committee.

“There are fundamental challenges that need to be addressed and require a sustained effort from across disciplines. By working toward these grand challenges, the volcano science community can help quantify the global effect of eruptions and mitigate hazards, ultimately benefiting millions of people living in volcanically active areas.”

The committee outlined several key questions and research priorities in areas such as the processes that move and store magma beneath volcanoes; how eruptions begin, evolve, and end; how a volcano erupts; forecasting eruptions; the response of landscapes, oceans, and the atmosphere to volcanic eruptions; and the response of volcanoes to changes on Earth’s surface.

Based on these research priorities, the committee identified three overarching grand challenges for advancing volcano science and monitoring: Forecasting the size, duration, and hazard of eruptions by integrating observations with models

Current forecasts are based on recognizing patterns in monitoring data. These approaches have had mixed success because monitoring data do not capture the diversity of volcanoes or their evolution over time.

An approach based on models of physical and chemical processes, informed by monitoring data, as is done in weather forecasting, could improve the accuracy of eruption forecasts.  Such an approach requires integrating data and methodologies from multiple disciplines, the report says.

Current understanding of a volcano’s life cycle is skewed because only a small number of volcanoes are studied.  Extended monitoring from the ground, sea, and space can overcome some of these observational biases, the report says.

Expanding and maintaining monitoring capabilities and supporting the infrastructure to make historical and monitoring data available are critical for advancing understanding of volcanic processes and assessing volcanic hazards.

The committee noted that emerging technologies such as inexpensive sensors, drones, and new micro-analytical geochemical methods are promising tools to provide new insights into volcanic activity.

Close to 100 volcanoes erupt somewhere on Earth each year.  Strengthening multidisciplinary research, domestic and international research and monitoring partnerships, and training networks can help the research community maximize scientific advances that result from the study of eruptions around the world, the committee said.

The report cites the ongoing eruption at Bogoslof volcano in Alaska as an example that highlights these three challenges.  A remote, initially submarine volcano in the Aleutian Island arc, the eruption started in late December 2016 and the activity has been continuing as of February 2017.

In just one month, the volcano produced numerous explosions with plumes rising 20,000-35,000 feet, posing a significant hazard to North Pacific aviation.

The U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Volcano Observatory has been relying on distant seismometers, satellite data, infrasound, and lightning detection to monitor the activity because there are no ground-based instruments on the volcano.

The committee said the observatory has been able to provide early warning for only some of these hazardous events.

This eruption also underscores the limited understanding of magma eruption.

In more than 20 discrete events, the emerging volcano has reshaped its coastlines repeatedly, providing snapshots of volcano-landscape interactions.

The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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Prison officials gather to tackle issues facing penitentiary system

Some members of the prison police are getting together for a three-day seminar to discuss the criminal justice system and the role of the penitentiary guards in Costa Rica.

The topics for discussion are obvious: transnational crime, drug trafficking, prisoners and the Costa Rican jail system that is run by the Policía Penitenciaria. The goal in all this is to contribute a new vision as to what the prison police should be and to modernize them as an effective force. At least that is the hope for officials in the police section and from the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz, which the prison guards fall under.

Beyond the platitudes, however, is a prison system that seems to be in desperate need of some reforms and change in conditions. Back in 2016, the Organization of American States selected members from its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to visit Costa Rica around mid-February.

According to a statement by the commission, it represented its first visit to Costa Rica to examine the situation of prisoners. The group found that, as of January 2016, the penitentiary system had a total of 35,543 people within. This includes the inmates serving sentences, pretrial detainees and the people released on what some expats may relate to being parole-like supervision programs.

According to the report’s findings, 13 detention centers in the country had a capacity of 9,130 inmates. However, the commission discovered that nearly 13,157 persons were within.

That represents an overcrowding by almost 44.1 percent, the commission said in a statement. Even figures that the group took from the justice ministry noted that prison overcrowding is in a critical state.

In a report issued by the U.S. State Department in 2010: “Although the government continued to improve prison conditions during the year, overcrowding, poor sanitation, lack of health services, and violence among prisoners remained a problem in some prison facilities.”

The State Department report also yielded that the population in pretrial detention was experiencing the worst overcrowding and that some of those detainees were housed together with convicted prisoners already facing long-term sentences.

This was affirmed six years later with the commission weighing in: “According to official figures, in January 2016 there were 2,530 persons in pretrial detention in Costa Rica, representing 18 percent of the total detainee population.”

That may not seem like much to some examining this issue but the commission did take into consideration the effects this was having on overcrowding.

Despite calls for pretrial detention to be used less overarching, “in many cases the permanence of the inmates was ‘indefinite,’ even exists people who had been in prison for more than eight years,” the statement said.

One of those previously in pretrial detention was a Jacó businessman named Patrick Hundley. Hundley wrote a letter back in June 2014 describing the poor and horrid conditions facing him and his fellow inmates at the time of his detention at  a jail cell in Pérez Zeledón. Hundley was later released two months later.

Within the contents of that letter, Hundley related back the issues of overcrowding, but also cited inadequate food, lack of drinking water and unsanitary situations that sometimes lead to violence. Much has been said earlier in A.M. Costa Rica by others who have experienced time in prison.

Also, in June of 2010, the Defensoría de los Habitantes, the Costa Rican ombudsman, conducted an investigation to find that an average of three corrections officers oversee 100 inmates.

A.M. Costa Rica has reported also of previous characteristics of a prison system that seems to be rife with corruption as inmates are often found being able to obtain cell phones, drugs and weapons.

Like many prisons across the world, criminal organizations and gangs often call the shots on the inside.

 

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Costa Rica readies for World Book Day

With public readings, exhibition, storytelling, barter and book releases, this coming Saturday Costa Rica celebrates the World Book Day with a kickstart of the activities beginning today.

The Biblioteca Nacional commemorates the Costa Rican writer Carmen Naranjo. Her memory will be honored with a public reading of her works from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m Friday.  It will be held in front of the library.

“Carmen Naranjo was chosen for her great contribution to Costa Rican literature, politics and culture; Moreover, this year marks the fifth anniversary of her death,” said Laura Rodríguez, director for Biblioteca Nacional.

At the end of the public reading, the national library, in partnership with the Lehmann Library and the Editorial Costa Rica, will release a book on various subjects in San José’s Parque Nacional.

For the book lovers from Alajuela, the Bibioteca Pública de Grecia will host several activities starting today until April 23.

Today at 3 p.m. The local library will broadcast the film “The Incredible Boy that Eats Books” by Oliver Jeffers, aimed at children from 7 to 10 years old.

Friday at 2:30 p.m., the Costa Rican author José León Sánchez will present the book  “Por quien las rosas madrugaron.” Then, at 6 p.m there will be a meeting with the Alajuelan historian, Marlon Ocampo, author of the book “El carnaval del diablo y otros cuentos.”

Sunday at 3 p.m. Rodolfo González, a storyteller from Alajuela will present a show based on the works of the famous Costa Rican writers Carlos Luis Fallas and Aquileo Echeverría and his own versions of stories based on historical events in the country. Friday the Biblioteca Pública de Cartago will have the following activities:

From 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. will be tales for children. Then from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, an exhibition will display old books. Afterwards a book exchange will take place. More information can be found at the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud’s website.

World Book Day is celebrated every 23 of April because on that date three well-known authors in history passed away: Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and the Spanish poet Garcilaso de la Vega.

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New anti-corruption bill hits legislature

A new bill proposing the loss of credentials for legislative members who use their position to seek personal benefit was accepted for discussion Wednesday in a special legislative committee.

Essentially, this bill proposes that anyone caught violating such stipulations would not only be made a political pariah within the chambers of the Assemblea Legislativa, but also thrown out of the legislature itself and be stripped of the title of deputy.

The bill number 19.117 was presented by Ottón Solís, legislator from the Partido Acción Ciudadana. It will now be discussed for 20 days in committee before being sent for review before all 57 lawmakers.

“It is necessary to establish strong and clear sanctions before the acts of corruption committed by legislators,” Solís said, “It is crucial to end shameful privileges, which do not correspond to the principles of our democratic system.”

The loss of credentials would be achieved through a constitutional amendment to Article 112.

Currently, the article clearly states that legislators may not contract, directly or indirectly or by representation, with any government entity. Neither can they obtain a concession of public assets nor intervene as directors, administrators or managers in companies that have a contract with a government entity.

The amendment would add some extra paragraphs saying:  “Violation of any of the prohibitions contained in this article or in the previous one, will result in the loss of the credential of the legislator. The observance of the principle of probity is mandatory compliance. The proven violation of said principle, in accordance with the law, will result in the loss of the credential of the legislator. The law may establish new grounds that cause the loss of the credentials of the legislators.”

The committee in charge of analyzing the change includes Ottón Solís and nine other lawmakers.

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Protest against shrimp trawling bill today

A mass protest of fishermen is scheduled to take place today at 10 a.m at Avenida Segunda, in San José. According to the Frente Amplio party, the march will gather 600 people mostly from Puntarenas, Guanacaste and Golfo de Nicoya. They are all united in their mutual opposition to trawling for shrimp and fish.

Marchers will walk all the way to Asamblea Legislativa along with environmental activists and academics. They all oppose bill 19.838 that seeks to reinstate trawling as a fishing technique. They also claim that there are no scientific grounds for such reinstatement and it will worsen conflicts between big shrimping vessels and those of a more artisanal nature.

In August 2013 the constitutional chamber of the Supreme Court ordered the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura to hold new licenses for this technique and not renew the existing ones.

In October last year, the economics school at Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica presented a study of the consequences of semi-industrial shrimp trawling.

According to the research, this type of fishing generates 590 direct jobs and 80 percent of those are shrimp peelers who earn less than the minimum salary and 37 times less than the licensed owners.

On the other hand, the research shows that the artisanal fishing creates 15,000 jobs and that trawling affects the amount of shrimps those workers depend on.

“Allowing trawling is just like cutting a forest completely,” said Haydee Rodríguez, manager of Political Advocacy at the MarViva Foundation,
“The state must promote productive alternatives to support and train the shrimp fishing sector to generate their own productive projects and also provide financial support for their investments.”

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Extraterrestrials aren’t cattle rustlers in Costa Rica

Costa Rica seems to have been spared the hysteria over cattle mutilations, perhaps because there are real predators and real rustlers here.

Still, expats should be aware that there is another wave of cattle mutilation claims that have been translated into a book, and a movie is in the works.

What are called mysterious mutilations of livestock are blamed on aliens of the space kind, secret government programs and other characters made popular by the television series “X Files.” This has been going on since the 1950s with periodic peaks.

Newspapers like such mysteries because they are well received by readers. And it is in the dull summer months when newsmakers are on vacation that abominable snowmen and less hairy chupacabras are reported roaming the hills.

The motives for promoting belief in strange doings usually are the obvious financial ones. But there is a man in Trinidad, Colorado, who has devoted 20 years to tracking down what he considers to be alien mutilation of cattle.

He is Chuck Zukowski, who styles himself as a UFO researcher. He is featured in the book, and the book by opportunistic writer Ben Mezrich is the source of the movie. New Line Cinema has purchased the rights to turn the book into a movie.

This is not the first movie. In fact, Discovery Channel, the firm whose name is being applied to a giant series of adventure resorts here, has been known to run so-called documentaries on cattle mutilation.

The firm also does so on yeti and other mysterious creatures.

In Costa Rica, the problems with cattle are more down to earth, so to speak. Ranchers here are more interested in the havoc caused by rustlers and animal predators.

One rancher reported that a jaguar brought down a 350-kilo steer and that coyotes can harass the young, weak and sick stock.Those who study seriously cattle mutilations blame the so-called evidence of aliens on nature. The mutilation stories go that cattle are found dead with the soft tissues, eyes and ears missing with surgical incisions on the skin.

Predators, including eagles and buzzards are quick to remove such body parts from animals that have died naturally, the skeptics argue.

One police department left a dead cow on the range for a short time, and the carcass displayed many of the same wounds.

Still, people like Colorado’s Zukowski say that the space aliens are particularly interested in the 37th parallel of latitude. That happens to be where he lives. That claim has made its way into the book title: “The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America’s UFO Highway.”

The movie company seems to be taking some liberties with the book. The movie will be an action thriller with the story line, as reported by Zukowski, “after investigating the unexplained mystery of cattle mutilations in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, the crew from a paranormal reality series fights to escape the clutches of a bloodthirsty alien.”

A student researcher some 20 years ago may have come closer to the truth. He discovered that insurance companies holding livestock polices pay off if the critter is a victim of space aliens. But if the cow just sickens and dies, there is no financial payout even if predators and scavengers tear off parts of the body.

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Ranchers face mutilations and theft along border

Cattle rustling is less of a tale from old Western movies and more of a reality for many ranchers, particularly along the northern border of Costa Rica.

Since January of this year, border police and members of the Fuerza Pública have turned up to 339 cattle back to their owners, according to the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública.

Most of these include catching the thieves in the act as they attempt to cross the border into Nicaragua or by virtue of ongoing investigations. Police made most of the seizures along that northern border.

The most recent reported incident took place Tuesday during Semana Santa when members of the border police and the Judicial Investigating Organization arrested four men caught in the act of attempting to steal around 16 cattle worth around $21,000 from a ranch in Upala.

Authorities said this group is notorious for being the longtime local crooks who float back and forth with stolen cattle to Nicaragua.
Official reports designate them as the so-called cuatreros. Investigators believe they are responsible for the theft of more than 46 cattle.

That is simply stealing and an act of theft. Ranchers in the northern reaches of Costa Rica have equally complained of rustlers coming on their property and slaughtering some poor cow for its meat, and the only thing ranch staff find the next day is a mutilated carcass.

Last year, public security forces seized around 1,272 of livestock.

Often times, many of these types of crimes go unreported to authorities, investigators back in 2012 said.

Branding, tattoos and ear clipping of the stock does not often help in cases of theft considering rustlers often quickly reduce the stolen animal to unidentifiable pieces of meat.

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BREAKING: Guardacostas rescue U.S. family

Four U.S. family members, two of them young girls, were rescued Wednesday afternoon at Guanacaste’s Playa Flamingo.

Guardacostas said their rented Kayak flipped over and forced them to swim over 200 meters to nearby La Penca Island.

According to Rodolfo Coto, director of the local Flamingo coast guard unit, they received an anonymous alert from a foreign caller warning them about the accident.

The team of coast guards looked for the Kayak but could not see it. After more searching they spotted the castaways already on the spit of rock and proceeded to the rescue.

The four rescued gringos were Paul Pinta, aged 42 and former coast guard from Massachusetts, and also Eric Wales also 42.

Wales is the father of Summer and Skyler, aged five and three respectively.

According to the rescuers, none of them were seriously injured. Pinta did have some bruises on his left arm.

“They were not expecting the strong winds and that’s why they flipped over. Currents are very strong in some of these areas,” said Coto

The Kayak itself was already towed by the time coast guard officers arrived to the island. According to Coto, the renters of the boat took care of it before taking care of the passengers. The four visitors said to officers they were renting a house in neighboring Playa Danta.

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Border police have seized 47 horses

Border police announced that they had seized over 47 horses since the beginning of the year. The number represents more than double the amount seized for 2016 and it is only three months in.

Most of these horses are confiscated due to their obvious malnourishment, ulcers and presence of ticks on their bodies, officials said. These animals are not for riding, however. They are meant to be eaten.

The Policía de Fronteras were conducting a routine patrol along the Nicaraguan border when they spotted a group of nine horses corralled together and being led by several unidentified individuals. Those individuals escaped when they heard commands from the police, according to a report.

Officials said that the horses were in a deplorable condition. Some were blind, some were limping and others had wounds on their bodies, according to police. Many also showed infections by ticks and other parasites, police said. The animals were handed over to the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal of the agricultural ministry.

Border police said that the increase in horse seizures along the Nicaraguan border are due to increased patrols particularly in the Los Chiles sector.

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$2 million goes to workers helping terminally ill

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

About $2 million was paid by the Costa Rican social security fund in 2016 to salaried workers who took care of sick people facing terminal illnesses.

In total, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social granted 7,927 subsidies in that whole year, averaging 660 licenses per month. The average monthly cost of these subsidies is about $170,000.

The benefit is granted to any salaried worker who wishes to take care of a terminally ill person, relative or not. This license should be requested by the patient or a caregiver in case the patient is unable to.

After the issuance of a medical certification, the patient or the caregiver should approach a medical branch of the Caja and request the benefit. This license should be renewed every 30 days by the examining doctor.

The worker who will take care of the patient should have paid their social security dues during the last three consecutive months to obtain the benefit.

“This benefit has made a difference in a lot of peoples lives. It’s a humane approach to deal with patients who are suffering and those who care for them,” said Arnoldo León, director of the monetary benefits unit at the Caja.

The subsidy is calculated according to the last pay stub of the worker.

If the worker’s earnings do not exceed more than two minimum salaries, he will receive 100 percent of his or her check.

If the salary exceeds two minimum ones but less than three, the worker will be paid 80 percent.

Those above three minimum salaries will get a 60 percent subsidy.

“Employers are already fully aware of this license and they are able to make an online track of the worker’s status and if the patient he or she is taking care of passes away or recovers,” said León.

In most cases, the patient is taken care of by relatives he explained.

The money for these subsidies comes from Fondo de Desarrollo Social y Asignaciones Familiares, a social program which is funded by automatically deducted contributions from employers and employees.

These subsidies were established by law in 1993, however, there is still a large population that is not aware of its existence, according to León.

“We do information campaigns to let people know about this right. We have a similar benefit for the parents or caregivers of seriously ill children, It’s all part of a coordinated effort to assist the most vulnerable populations,” said Léon.

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Álvarez Desanti appears to be Liberación nominee

José María Figueres has conceded in the election for the  Partido Liberación Nacional presidential nomination.

The former president held a press conference this morning as the latest totals show him with slightly less than 40 percent of the votes by party members. His opponent who is now the nominee is Antonio Álvarez Desanti.  He had about 45 percent of the vote today, a figure that eliminates the need for a runoff.

Figueres is the former president who has been tarnished by the Acatel scandal.  Álvarez is the former campaign manager for Johnny Araya in the 2014 elections.

He has been trying to win th enlimination for more than a decade.

Liberación Nacional hopes to wrest the presidency from the Partido Accion Ciudadana. Other parties will hold their internal nomination convention soon.

Álvarez has the support of the Arias brothers.

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Deadline to pay the annual pesky tax is today

The annual pesky tax deadline is today. The tax really is called the Timbre de Educación y Cultura, but the amount is so small and so easy to forget that the levy has been dubbed pesky.

The tax is just for corporations and corporation-like entities, not for individuals. The amount ranges from a mere 750 colons to 9,000 colons, depending on net capital. Most expats just pay the 9,000 colons rather than figure out what net capital is.

The tax is due every March 31, and like other taxes, the Dirección General de Tributación sends out no notices to individuals. But there was a notice posted on the Ministerio de Hacienda website.

Although the amount is small, non-payment can generate fines and interest far in excess of the tax itself.

Desamparados accountant Kevin Chavarría Obando said he advises his clients to pay the tax online from a bank account. Otherwise, those making the payment have to use the ministry’s complex online EDDI-7 program. There is a line under the bank menu for Pagos de servicios públicos for the Ministerio de Hacienda and eventually the  Educación y Cultura stamp.

Today is also the day when the first partial payment of income tax for the current fiscal year should be made by those managers of corporations that generate profits, according to the ministry.

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315 pounds of coke discovered in bust

Police officers made a huge drug bust in Heredia Thursday.

The Fuerza Pública was alerted of a suspicious vehicle parked near a supermarket, according to preliminary reports. Officers approached the car and conducted a check on it to discover there was a double liner in the back. Officials allege that this vehicle had the same characteristics as one used for a possible bank robbery.

Within the car, police discovered over 143 kilograms of cocaine, or around 315 pounds. Officials also said that police found around $3200 in colons and dollar. The driver of the vehicle was arrested by police and police said that the vehicle is legally registered with a Guatemalan national.

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Five officers injured in Nicoya attack

A presumed fisherman who came at police officers with a machete suffered a bullet wound and was detained, Casa Presidencial reported Thursday.

The arrest followed a melee in which five police officers were injured and official cars were stoned. The location was at Playa Manzanillo in the Gulf of Nicoya.

Fuerza Pública officers, members of the Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas and the workers from the Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura converged on Manzanillo. Some 60 members of law enforcement arrived at the location and confronted some 300 fishermen Thursday morning. Casa Presidencial said the officers were greeted with stones and knives.

The objective was to prevent illegal fishing, said Casa Presidencial. Eventually a large amount of fishing gear, including drag nets and fish traps, were confiscated, said the report.

Also involved were employees of the nation’s Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria.

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Four more traffic policemen arrested

The Judicial Investigation Organization announced Thursday the arrest of four more traffic policeman as suspects in crimes of abuse of authority and failure to carry out their duties.

One of the officers was arrested at his home in Heredia, another at the workplace in Atenas, the third in Peréz Zeledón, and the fourth in Barrio La Cruz, in San José.

According to the investigation, the four suspects arrived to a traffic accident on Jun. 14, 2015, in San José around 5 p.m.

There, the driver of a vehicle that crashed against a wall was in apparent drunkenness, according to eyewitness accounts, and traffic officials took him into custody. However, investigators allege that they filed a report with a negative result of alcohol tests.

“I am not aware of the incident you ask me about,” said Sonia Monge, sub-director of Policía de Tránsito. “However I can tell you that no special anti-corruption program is being implemented other than the regular ethical training of the officers,” she said.

Also on Monday, two traffic police officers were also arrested on suspicions of breach of duty.

According to a preliminary report, on Jan. 29, 2016, both officers arrived to the scene of a traffic accident in Tibás. It occurred that one of the cars involved did not have an insurance policy and thus required the issuance of a ticket.

The report alleges that the suspects allowed the owner to purchase a policy in order to cover the cost of the accident. Judicial agents received a confidential tip of this incident and arrested the two officers involved near Plaza Víquez, in San José.

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