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Isla del Coco National Park (PNIC) was awarded the Platinum Blue Park International Award by the Marine Conservation Institue, today.

Recent changes in Costa Rican Law now requires the legal representative of any Corporate entity to have a Digital Signature, or Firma Digital. The legislature passed Law 8454 several years ago. This is the LEY DE CERTIFICADOS, FIRMAS DIGITALES Y DOCUMENTOS ELECTRÓNICOS.

Over the past couple of years where the use of the Digital Signature has become more widespread and in some cases mandatory. Some government agencies have mandated that certain forms may only be filed electronically and need to be validated with the digital signature card. For example, the Tax Department (Departamento de Tribulation Directa) has many forms that will only be accepted via digital filing.

Another recent law creates a mandatory Shareholder and Beneficial Owner Registry for Costa Rican Corporations. The Central Bank of Costa Rica was required to create a secure technology platform to store that information. The Central Bank has since announced that it will be mandatory to have a digital signature to comply with that registration requirement.

The Firma Digital is a unique electronic ID or digital signature, which is used for making or signing an electronic document using the technology known as public-key cryptography. It allows you to digitally sign a document and for the signature to be recognized as validated by the person who signed it. This should be the President, Manager or someone with the legal Power of Attorney for the Corporation. If that person is the power of attorney for more than one corporation, the same digital signature can be used for all corporations. Essentially, the card is personal, and meant for the person who has the powers of attorney for the corporation.

If you are not sure who holds the power of attorney for your corporation, you need to contact the lawyer who set it up. It maybe the President or it could be another designated individual.

In Costa Rica, the digital signature consists of the following:

  • a physical card, which is similar to your credit card
  • a corresponding reader that interfaces the card with your computer
  • a personal PIN number you assign to your card.

The representative of the corporation needs to setup an appointment to obtain the card and the card reader. On the day of the appointment they will process your digital signature card and issue you the card and the card reader for it.  The cost is around $60-$90 depending on the financial institution. The signature card is currently valid for 4 years.

During the appointment, you will need to follow instructions on a computer screen and from the bank representative. They take your photo and you will have your fingerprints scanned in the process of issuing the card. The process is relatively simple, but if you do not have a basic comprehension of Spanish, you may have some difficulty. Take your time and follow the directions and ask for clarification if you are not sure about something.

Several financial institutions are authorized by the Central Bank of Costa Rica to issue digital signature cards:

  • Banco de Costa Rica
  • Banco Nacional
  • Banco Popular y Desarrollo Comunal
  • Banco Bac San José
  • Banco BCT
  • Banco Lafise
  • Banco Davivienda
  • Banco Promérica
  • Banco Scotiabank
  • Coopealianza
  • Coopenae
  • Coopeande No 1
  • Instituto Nacional de Seguros – INS

Note that only some banks in our area issue the Digital Signatures and these are in Liberia. The following are the current institutions in Liberia and you need to setup an appointment using the following means:

  • Banco Nacional - Call 2212-2000 then optión 5
  • Banco Popular - by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

While it is true that foreigners are allowed to setup and own a Corporation in Costa Rica, the Digital Signature is only available to Costa Rica citizens with a valid cédula and foreign residents with residency and a valid DIMEX (residency identification card). You cannot get a digital signature card with your passport or if you are waiting to receive your residency card.

It's that time of year again when heavy rains can hit the area at any time. Of course the rains are a welcome seasonal necessity, especially here in Guanacaste.

The rains help to replenish the aquifer, turn pastures in lush grasslands for cattle and horses, and provide water for the dry tropical plants and animals that sustain them through the extended dry periods, typically from December through May. It also helps to keep the dust down on the dirt roads that mark out our community in Surfside.

Of course this time of year is also noted for the heavy rains that inundate our roads and ditches with a deluge of water, trying to make it's way to the estuaries and from there to the ocean. This is especially noticeable when the estuaries are blocked from reaching the coean by the beach, that builds up a natural barrier over the dry season. Once the estuaries build up to a certain point, the beach barriers give way and the estuaries clear.

What many residents fail to comprehend is that it is against the law to clear the sand barriers by mechanical means of any kind. No backhoes, or shovels are legally allowed to interfere with opening channels to the ocean.

This is due to the formation of mangroves surrounding the estuaries, which are protected in Costa Rica. These form in the areas blocked from reaching the ocean, either year round or seasonally and in low lying areas near the beaches all along the coast. These areas provide an essential breeding area for fish, mollusks, birds and plants. They also serve as a filter for waters reaching the coast, prior to entering the ocean. Everyone also needs to realize that these habitats can provide up to five times as much carbon-cleansing from the atmosphere as tropical forests.

Of course the issue is what to do when faced with a rising estuary and flooded streets. In some cases, these waters can flood nearby homes and properties. It can happen quickly and cause a great deal of damage.

Another problem we face, since many homes rely on septic systems, these can become saturated to the point of overflowing. Once that water gets mixed with the water headed to the beach, we increase the chance for of environmental issues, such as red tides. The roads can also become contaminated with sewage overflows, which then dries and can become airborne when the dry season comes around. Clearly an undesirable outcome for most of us. This problem increases as the community grows and more homes are built.

So what can be done?

The Surfside ASADA at one time maintained the community roads and ditches, since they were the only organization with funds available for such work. At some point in time AyA ruled that the ASADA could no longer direct funding to this purpose, and that it was the responsibility of the Municipality to maintain the roads. As we know, other than the main road, Route 911, our internal road maintenance is a low priority for the Muni. Many communities are far worse off than us, so we need to keep tthat in perspective.

The AyA ruling seems odd, considering that ASADA stands for Las Asociaciones administradoras de los Sistemas de Acueductos y Alcantarillados which translates to the Management Associations of Aqueduct and Sewerage Systems. If the community is comprised of properties with septic systems then it would seem logical that the ASADA would be justified in seeking to prevent flooding and seeing that the water drains away safely and quickly. They have the equipment, staff, budget and ability. They also are working on keeping our Blue Flag for the beach, so it would seem this would be an issue they should be concerned with.

Another community based organization, the Surfside Property Owners Association, simply does not have the budget or resources to do any major work on roads, and is similarly banned from altering the community roads. That said they do have the best chance of getting the attention of the Municipality and raising the issues.

So for now, it's up to the home and property owners to do what they can to help out. It was mandatory to have a culvert or ditch in front of every property in Surfside. While that may not be a provision required to get a water permit any longer, it is advisable that everyone complies with this as a common sense solution to keeping the water moving. If you have one, make sure it is kept clear of debris.

If you have a ditch or culvert between your property and the road, keep it clear. These tend to fill up with tree branches, plastic, and weeds, so try to keep them open. If you are able, dig them a little deeper. You can also maintain a small ditch from the back of your property to the front to help water flow to the roadside ditches and keep water from building up around your septic. There are planty of able body's in the community that can help with this kind of work.

While most builders are concientious of their neighbors, several construction projects have blocked the ditches with fill to get building materials in and some are dumping sand and gravel on the roads. Some completed projects have driveways with no culvert or means for the water to flow unobstructed alongside the road. In such locations the water seeks the lowest point which can be the roadway itself. That leads to potholes, pools of water for mosquitoes and hazards for people walking or riding. Not the most considerate way to join a community. Maybe point out the issue when you have a chance, or notify the Property Owners Association so they can keep a list.

While it may seem that there is little we can do, there are steps everyone can make that can help. Let's stop surviving through the rains to dry season and start working on solutions now and for the future.

In a recent Press release, Costa Rica has received a 2019 Champions of the Earth award, the UN’s highest environmental honour, for its role in the protection of nature and its commitment to ambitious policies to combat climate change. 

It seems that 2019 is the year of confusion for anyone that owns a corporation in Costa Rica, especially for expats.

Minutes of the regular meeting of Board # 70, held in the office of the Asada, 03:40 pm when on the 29th, the month April, 2019.

After four years with a majority Liberal government, Canada has re-elected the Liberals with a minority. They will have to work with the New Democrats to get anything passed in the government.

With all the fighting going on in places around the world, it is easy to overlook the problems on the North American continent as a first world problem. When a major siege takes place involving armoured vehicles, road blockades, kidnapped police and prison breaks, well, there should be more concern for what is going on.

With so many Democrat nominees trying to claim the leadership role for the Party and challenge President Trump in the the 2020 election, it is hard to be able to stand out from the crowd.

While the US news media goes crazy over the withdrawal of the remaining 50 military advisors remaining in Syria, it is important to note that Syria has never asked them to be there.

In a unprededented move, a Caifornia power company has decided to cut power to thousands in an effort to prevent forest fires.

Weekend news talking heads are tripping over themselves to protect the rights of "Whistleblowers" as mandated by law. What they are not talking about is the news.

The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from retaliatory action for voluntarily disclosing information about dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a government organization.

A recent whistleblower complaint was filed in regards to a phone conversation President Trump had with the recently elected President of the Ukraine. The complaint cited numerous issues that the opposition has siezed upon as being grounds for impeachment.

The key issue of the complaint being the request for additional information on actions taken by former VP Joe Biden, to have Ukraine's head prosecutor removed from office, while investigating corruption against a company Biden's son sat on the Board of. Joe Biden was later recorded on video bragging publicly about his threat to withold millions of dollars in funds if the prosecutor was not removed. If true, this would be illegal at worst and at best highly unethical.

As Mr Biden is his biggest rival for the presidency, it opens Mr Trump up to claims he was working with a foreign power to influence the election. This is why the oppostion is asking for impeachment, since this could be considered as illegal, unless of course it is true.

The Whitehouse countered that the claims made in the complaint were false and the person making the claims had no first hand knowledge of the call or the content. This was later proven to be true, and the person filing the complaint reported on rumours he heard second hand. When the President released the transcript of the call, it supported the claim made that the "whistleblower" was acting on rumour, not first hand knowledge, as stipulated in the law protecting whisleblowers from prosecution.

Now the same law firm that represented the first whistleblower, has a second individual that supports the first claims.

What the media is not focussed on is the fact that the call has been made public. How can someone claim "whistleblower" status on information that is already public. Sure, someone can have an opinion, or express support or outrage over the content, but it no longer falls under the category of a whistleblower complaint. One can argue that had the person not come forward, we may not know the content of the call, but we should also expect that if someone is using this law to report on a criminal activity, there needs to be some truth to it.

In this case, the complaint filed cited issues that simply did not happen the way they were presented. Maybe the new "whitleblower" has additional first hand knowledge of the discussion or some other opinion we need to be aware of. Since the President authorized the release of the transcript, one would hope that the new complaint is more than merely a difference of opinion.

It is also important to note that the transcript releaased by the Whitehouse was not the full transcript. The Democrats are demanding access to the full conversation.

It is important for the public that this whistleblower law exists, so that the government can be held accountable when issues arise, but it should not be used to express opposition to policy.  It's a fine line and the media needs to validate the facts before calling for the removal of an elected representative of the people.

Rumours and opinion are not news.

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In case you were thinking that recent discussions of Direct Energy Weapons (DEW) and laser weapon technologies are strictly Sci-Fi and conspiracy channel topics , think again. They are not only real they are well publicized.

Why not enjoy one of the most readily available fruits in Guanacaste.

Yesterday the online Hamburg Abendblatt published an interview with Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt on the recent climate demonstrations and alarmism.