Daily Archives: July 8, 2014

NICARAGUA OKAYS ROUTE FOR $40B CANAL LINKING OCEANS

MANAGUA – A Nicaraguan committee approved a proposed route on Monday for a $40 billion shipping channel across the Central American country that would compete with the Panama Canal.
The committee of government officials, businessmen and academics approved a 172 mile route from the mouth of the Brito river on the Pacific side to the Punto Gorda river on the Caribbean that was proposed by executives from the HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd.
The Hong Kong-based HKND group, which is leading the project, is headed by Chinese lawyer Wang Jing, who also heads Chinese company Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group.
The proposed canal would pass through Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest lake, and will be between 230 metres and 520 metres (755 feet to 1,706 feet) wide and 27.6 metres (90 feet) deep, said HKND engineer Dong Yunsong.
The proposed route still faces environmental and social impact studies that could recommend some changes to the plan, but those studies should be finished later this year to allow work to begin by December, said committee member Telemaco Talavera.
Opponents of the plan are concerned about the canal’s effect on Lake Nicaragua, an important fresh water source for the country, as well as the impact on poor communities.
The plan is to finish the canal in 2019 and begin operations in 2020, Talavera said.
The proposed channel would be more than three times longer than the 48-mile (77-km) Panama Canal, which took the United States a decade to build at the narrowest part of the Central American isthmus. It was completed in 1914.


Interesting Engineering Event

THE NICARAGUAN CANAL: THE BEST RESPONSE TO

THE RISE IN GLOBAL TRADE

Lisa Langhorst (lil90@pitt.edu)

 INTRODUCTION: THE EFFECT OF THE NICARAUAN CANAL

The rise in Global trade has made the need for an alternative trade route to the Panama Canal a definite necessity. Even with the expansions on the Panama Canal, it cannot support vessels with capacities over 150,000tons according to an article in the Business Daily update [1]. An old idea for a canal that would go through the impoverished country of Nicaragua is now become a viable option to enhance global trade, as Nicaragua attempts to latch onto the back of this rise in trade and counter the monopoly of the Panama Canal.
I think that this is an important issue because the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal would benefit shale export from the United States. This would result in a better economic standing for our country, and give the United States a greater geopolitical leverage, according to an article in the Wall Street journal about the effect of oil and natural gas production on the country’s standing [2]. A better economy stands to increase the well being of every citizen of the United States of America.
There are many issues that face this project, such as environmental impact on Lake Nicaragua, the financial expense, and alternative trade route plans to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans through other South American countries. However, the Nicaraguan Canal stands to be the best option for a trade route especially considering the revolution in shale gas exports from the United States. Currently the vessels used to export shale exceed the capacity allowable by the Panama Canal, so they are forces to go around South America instead of through Central America. The technology is there, and has been there since the construction of the Panama Canal in the early twentieth century.

BACKGROUND: THE CONSTRUCTORS AND THE COUNTRY

A Brief History and a Bright Outlook

Nicaragua has long been considered an excellent route for a canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was considered at the same time as the Panama Canal, but did not make it to construction at that time because of political unrest in Nicaragua. Now Nicaragua is “the poorest country in Central America and second poorest in the Western Hemisphere” according to the CNN wire [2]. In Nicaragua almost half of the population cannot afford enough food to meet the minimal necessary caloric intake to maintain good nutrition. The Washington Times stated that “According to the company�s projections, the canal would create some 40,000 construction jobs and virtually double Nicaragua’s per-capita gross domestic product ‘ [3]. This means that if the Nicaraguan Canal is built, Nicaragua will be able to sustain its economy, and its population. By 2015, before the canal is even finished, employment could triple and over 700,000 people could be pulled from poverty or extreme poverty. The economy could double, reaching $24 billion [4]. Nicaragua could be one of the fastest growing economies in history.
According to The Business Daily Update, the annual revenue of the canal is estimated to be $5.5 billion [1]. The total cost of the canal is estimated at $40 billion, with a building period of six to ten years, and sustainable operation for over a century, according to an article in International Construction [5]. This means that its total revenue would far exceed the cost of construction and maintenance for the next 100 years.

Financial Logistics

The project was granted to, and is being funded by, a Chinese businessman, Mr. Wang Jing, and the HKND Hong Kong based group. This past summer Mr. Jing was awarded a fifty-year concession for the project, with a possible fifty-year extension [2]. Mr. Jing made a point that the project would be funded by private investors [5]. Since Nicaragua still recognizes Taiwan and not mainland China, the two countries do not have diplomatic relations. Therefore, the Chinese government will not be investing in the project initially[6]. An investment such as this might scare away private investors, but I would not be surprised if China offers some low interest loans further into the project, as they stand to gain from the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal as well, since the Nicaraguan Canal would make trade key trading partners like South Africa more cost effective [2].

CONSTRUCTION AND TECHNOLOGY

Routes

The Nicaraguan Canal is potentially the largest civil engineering project in the world. It would be about three times the size of the Panama Canal [3]. The route of the canal has not yet been finalized, but over 100 kilometers of land will have to be excavated [5].

Figure 1 [7]

Route Options for the Nicaraguan Canal

Figure 1 displays the route options for the canal. All of these routes go through Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in South America. The simplest route would be route 6, along the San Juan River, but that has been ruled out due to some territorial discrepancies between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the country that lies along the southern side of the San Juan River. This leaves several overland routes, which would require extensive excavation. In addition to the canal, HKND also has rights to build two deep water ports, two airports, an oil pipeline across the country, and a transoceanic railroad, all of which fits into the timeline and budget [2, 7].

Construction of the Panama Canal: a Comparison

The feasibility check and environmental impact study for the Nicaraguan Canal have not yet been completed, so the exact method as to how the Nicaraguan Canal will be constructed is not yet released to the public, but looking to the past, at the construction of the Panama Canal we can get a good idea of the process by which the Panama was built. The canals were dug into “V” shapes by several techniques of excavation. Pneumatic power drills were used to drill holes for explosives, steam shovels, steam powered cranes, dredges- devices for underwater excavation-, and hydraulic rock crushers were then used to further break down the rock which was then transported to dumping sites by way of railroads. The technology will have improved by now, but the general process remains the same.

THE NICARAGUAN CANAL IS THE BEST TRADE ROUTE OPTION

Competitive Trade Routes

Nicaragua is not the only country with the intention to open up another trade route between the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. In Honduras plans are being made to build Pacific and Atlantic ports connected by a series of rail lines. Guatemala is making similar plans to have ports connected by a high-speed rail line along gas and oil pipelines [5]. This would be cheaper, but less efficient for trade in the long run. The additional time spent transferring goods to and from rail lines would add time to the shipping process and make the product more expensive.

US Shale Exports

From the perspective of the United States, the Nicaraguan Canal stands to be the best option. America has recently experienced a boon in shale gas production as well as shifts in trade policy to more exports [1]. The vessels used to transport shale exceed the 150,000-ton capacity of the Panama Canal. These vessels then have to round Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America in order to export to China. Because of this, the price advantage of shale exports to China is very low. However, with the construction of the wider, deeper Nicaraguan Canal these vessels will no longer need to take such an extensive trade route. The Nicaraguan canal will be able to support vessels of 400,000 tons, vessels two and a half times the size of the largest vessels going through the Panama Canal.

CONCLUSION: A BRIGHT FUTURE

The Nicaraguan Canal will be the most efficient trade route from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. It benefits the United States, particularly by increasing shale export efficiency, it benefits Nicaragua by allowing it to tap into the expanse of world maritime trade, and it benefits China by making their trade more cost effective as well. There are challenges that face the construction of the Nicaraguan Canal, as there were challenges that faced the construction of the Panama Canal. These challenges will be overcome by the advancement of technology, and motivation of the economic prosperity produced by this canal. The expense will most definitely be worth the outcome, and the future of world trade will be made brighter.

REFERENCES

  1. (2013, June 26). “New canal a lifeline for energy. ” Business Daily Update.(Online article).http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA335278599&v=2.1&u=upitt_main&it=r&p=ITOF&sw=w&authCount=1
  2. A. Jaffe. (2013, March27). “Experts: How the U.S. Oil Boom Will Change the Markets and Geopolitics. ” Wall Street Journal.(Online article). http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324105204578382690249436084.html
  3. C. Riley. (2013, June 26). “China canal project in Nicaragua has investors. ” CNN Wire. (Online article).http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA335033445
  4. A. Yu. (2013, July 16). “Chinese tycoon maps out rival canal; Nicaragua OKs $40B waterway. ” The Washington Times.(Online article).http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA336935740
  5. T. Rogers. (2013, July 24). “Can China finally make the Nicaragua canal dream happen? ” The Christian Science Monitor.(Online article).http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/NewsDetailsPage/NewsDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=News&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA337749275
  6. C. Arduz, C. Sleight. (2013, June 24). “Nicaragua approves Panama Canal Alternative. ” International Construction. (Online article).http://www.khl.com/magazines/international-construction/detail/item86199/
  7. J. Hobson. (2013, July 22). “Chinese Company Attempts to Build Panama Canal Alternative.� “Here & Now. (Interview). http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/07/22/panama-canal-alternative
  8. (2013, June 14) “Living on Earth: Nicaraguan Canal. ” Living on Earth. (Interview). http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/AudioDetailsPage/AudioDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Audio&limiter=&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups=&sortBy=&source=&search_within_results=&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE%7CA334434874

ADDITIONAL SOURCES

(2013). “The Nicaragua Canal and Development Project. ” HKND Group. (Website).http://hknd-group.com/the-project/

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Dr. Dan Budny for the opportunity to do a research project that solidified my interest in civil engineering.

I would like to thank Judith Brink for assistance in research and refinement of sources through the University of Pittsburgh Library.

I would like to thank Heinz Langhorst for discussion on the construction and issues of building the Nicaraguan Canal.

I would like to thank Alexandra George for her advice on editing and refining the diction, content, and argument of my paper.

Pura Vida!

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Report About Costa Rica Real Estate Reveals Some Surprises

Costa Rica Real Estate News – According to a recent study by San Jose-based CRREC, the real estate market in Costa Rica is displaying signs of significant interest towards pre-built construction of coastal gated communities while pressure rises from competing markets such as Panama.

costa rica real estate market 1Costa Rica Real Estate’s study contains information pertaining to market size (both volume and value), leading players, key financial metrics and an in-depth analysis in to the competitive pressures Panama holds in the road ahead. Also inside the report are growth predictions for the 2014-2015 season including trend data from a variety of reputable sources.

Only a few weeks back, Costa Rica inducted a new president and while many believe the change in power will bring economic stimulus, others remain skeptical with recent announcements from Intel and HP that they will be closing operations in the country.

Reports of increasing sales and reductions in interest rates within the real estate sector are being pointed to by many as indicators the market is witnessing an upward trend.

One agent cited in the study said, “Normally come this time of year [June] we see a drastic decline in interest from foreign investors however this year it appears to remain consistent with earlier years where sales were strong straight through.”

Although the study reveals the various areas of interest to investors, it shed light most specifically on the Guanacaste region.

There are a few contributing factors that make the region strong including expansion at the Liberia International airport, a thriving luxury resort market with the likes of the Westin Conchal and RUI, and of course we have to mention a strong commercial interest with “high roller” investors coming in on the Flamingo marina and upcoming Hard Rock projects. In fact a stand out point in the study uncovered an emerging trend for low to medium priced gated communities situated along the coastal regions.

Furthermore the report delves in to defining emerging segments with analysis and forecasts of what to expect leading in to the 2015 season.

The housing market [pre-built construction] saw the most significant growth through the 2014 season which accounted for 62.35% of all real estate transactions from the period between June 2013 and now. The trend is expected to rise to a projected 65% as the market segways in to the upcoming high season.

A surprising statistic unveiled within the report details an emerging trend of expatriates opting for the more progressive neighboring country of Panama. For decades, Panama and Costa Rica have fought toe to toe over tourism and the economic boost of attracting foreign investors. During the term of the previous president, Laura Chinchilla, the country experienced a step back in this direction with major corporations moving their operations to other emerging markets in Asia.

Professionals within the real estate sector in Costa Rica remain optimistic that Costa Rica can gain back some ground previously given up to Panama with the newly elected governing party. Forecasts cited within the report support the theory on growth through the 2015 season.

By Don Halbert, from www.worldpropertychannel.com

Pura Vida!

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Dengue Virus Spreading Through Costa Rica’s Limon Province

Costa Rica Health News – According to the Costa Rican Health Ministry, the Limon Province is where the most active transmission of the dengue virus is taking place this year. Matina is the town where the greatest number of dengue cases have been found: 309 so far this year.

dengue costa rica virusAuthorities reported 3,648 cases of dengue by June 21st and although this number is 71% lower than last year, it is still worrisome.

The Caribbean Zone is the most mosquito-infested area with more than 3 in 100 houses containing recognizable breeding grounds. This number indicates a very high risk and authorities recommend neighbors take actions to control the plague by eliminating breeding grounds such as any still water in houses and on the streets.

Dengue is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and causes intense body pain and high fever as well as diarrhea and vomiting in some cases. Cases seem to increase at the peak of winter or rainy season when still water becomes more common throughout the country.

80% of patients with dengue have been reported as living in Guanacaste, Limon and Puntarenas. Last year was reported as the worst epidemic of dengue in the past two decades and health officials want to keep the number down this year as much as possible, especially with the possibility of the chikungunya fever in the mix.

Originally posted on Costarican Times

Pura Vida!

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FACTA July 1st Implementaion Starts With 30% Penalties for Banks

Costa Rica News – In 2013, 2,999 Americans renounced citizenship, the highest number on record. The four highest totals have all occurred since Fatca became law, though the exact reasons for renunciations aren’t reported.

fatca implementationThe Internal Revenue Service is about to get an unprecedented look at bank accounts and investments U.S. citizens hold abroad, through a law that is making it harder to hide assets from the tax collector.

Tomorrow, the U.S. government will start imposing 30 percent taxes on many overseas payments to financial institutions that don’t share information with the IRS.

That new burden has frustrated overseas banks and U.S. expatriates. It’s also created a new standard of global bank-to-government information sharing designed to throw light on often difficult-to-trace accounts.

No one knows yet how successful the law will be in combating tax evasion. Still, it allows the U.S. to scoop up data from more than 77,000 financial institutions and 80 governments about its citizens’ overseas financial activities.

“I don’t think anything on this scale has ever been tried before,” said John Harrington, a former international tax counsel at the Treasury Department who is now a partner at Dentons in Washington. “The idea that it would go off without a hitch is sort of hard to imagine.”

What led to the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, was the inability of federal tax authorities to obtain clear information about financial accounts that U.S. citizens have outside the country. That’s especially important for the U.S., because unlike many other countries, it taxes citizens on their worldwide income regardless of where they actually live.

‘Honor’ System
“If you had an account outside of the U.S., you were pretty much on your honor to disclose that information,” said Denise Hintzke, the global tax leader for Deloitte Tax LLP’s Fatca practice.
In establishing the law, Congress and President Barack Obama in effect threatened to cut off banks and other companies from easy access to the U.S. market if they didn’t pass along such information. The U.S. was able to leverage its status as a financial center to demand action from governments and banks in other countries.

The proposal was barely debated when Congress in 2010 passed it as a budgetary offset to a tax credit for hiring. It was projected to raise $8.7 billion in revenue over a decade.

Congress hasn’t addressed it since then, although the Republican National Committee voted earlier this year in favor of repeal.

Withholding Tax
Under Fatca, U.S. banks and other companies making certain cross-border payments — such as interest and dividends — to foreign financial institutions must withhold a 30 percent tax if the recipient isn’t providing information about its U.S. account holders.

Later phases of the law will apply to a broader set of cross-border payments, such as gross proceeds from stock sales. Many non-financial companies will be affected, too.

The law has been accompanied by a new set of regulations and definitions, creating a cottage industry of advisers and interpreters. It was supposed to start Jan. 1, 2013, which was put off until tomorrow to give taxpayers more time to comply.

Fatca prompted more than 77,000 financial institutions to register for the program to avoid the withholding tax. As a result of that compliance, the government doesn’t expect to collect much direct revenue from the 30 percent levy, said a senior Treasury official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss planning for Fatca.

Direct Disclosurefatca implementation 1
In most cases, the law isn’t being implemented as written, because foreign banks said direct disclosure to the IRS would violate local laws. The prospect of withholding spurred negotiations between the U.S. and foreign governments, and other countries saw the potential benefits of reciprocal information exchange.
“This will become a sharing, automatically, between the various countries,” Hintzke said.

So far, the U.S. has reached final or provisional agreements with more than 80 jurisdictions, allowing for government-to-government information exchange or streamlined business-to-government exchanges.
The list includes jurisdictions that often are labeled as tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Guernsey. It also includes most of the world’s major economies, such as Germany, Japan, Canada and the U.K.

Renouncing Citizenship
In 2013, 2,999 Americans renounced citizenship, the highest number on record, according to Treasury data compiled by Andrew Mitchel, an international tax lawyer. The four highest totals have all occurred since Fatca became law, though the exact reasons for renunciations aren’t reported.

“Fatca has been a pretty difficult blow for our U.S. expatriates,” said Martin Karges, senior director in international tax at BDO USA LLP in New York. “They may be shifting money to noncompliant jurisdictions.”

As the account information comes into the U.S. starting in 2015, the focus shifts to the IRS, which will use the data to guide its investigations into offshore tax evasion.

Even without Fatca in place, the U.S. has used prosecutions against Credit Suisse AG (CSGN) and UBS AG (UBSN) to glean information on Americans hiding overseas accounts.

Bankers, Lawyers
Prosecutors have charged more than 70 U.S. taxpayers and three dozen bankers, lawyers and advisers in their crackdown on offshore tax evasion. Those charged include H. Ty Warner, the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies plush toys; Igor Olenicoff, a billionaire real estate developer; and Brad Birkenfeld, a former UBS AG banker who blew the whistle on the bank.

The IRS has sponsored offshore voluntary disclosure programs since 2009 that have brought in about $6.5 billion in interest, taxes and penalties and prompted more than 45,000 Americans to reveal offshore holdings.

The tax agency has said it’ll have a relatively light enforcement touch for the first two years of Fatca for financial institutions that are trying to comply.

The resource-constrained IRS is making Fatca a priority without spending too much time on “small-scale” compliance matters, Commissioner John Koskinen said in a speech at a Washington tax conference earlier this month.

In ‘Shadows’
“The IRS and other enforcement agencies around the world will be able to focus on the structures and arrangements that, unfortunately but inevitably, will be devised to stay in the shadows in a new world of tax transparency,” he said. “And in that new world, governments will need to work closely together to shine light into those shadowy spaces until they no longer exist.”

Almost right up to the deadline, the IRS has been issuing forms and instructions and Treasury has been signing international agreements.

“We can question whether the cost is worth the benefits,” Harrington said. “But there’s no question there’s a cost, a big one. And it’s going to be ongoing too.”

By Richard Rubin, bloomberg.com

Pura Vida!

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Patrick Hundley, DayStar, Costa Rica Human Rights Violations; Posting Bail?

Costa Rica – Since February, DayStar condominium owners, friends and family of Patrick Hundley and the entire Jaco community have been watching as the court case against Hundley plays out.  The arrest came from alleged charges of defrauding multiple foreign investors out of $7 million.

Patrick Hundley Prison DayStar Jaco 1Investors assert that they signed legal agreements then started out making monthly installments of as much as $500,000 for a year and a half, based on the promise that they would turn into shareholders in the Costa Rican corporation possessing the property after the $7 million was transferred.  The investors state that they never became owners in this corporation and never received their promised shares.

The most recent news about the case is that on Monday at the latest hearing the bail was again reduced. The bail has gone from $3 million, to $2 million to now $1.5 million.

Recently it seems that Hundley is trying to divert attention from the case and start a fight against the Costa Rican justice system and the prison conditions which he is experiencing.  This has been done with an open letter from Patrick Hundley about the prison conditions and now a website has been developed in support of Patrick Hundley called  http://www.costaricainjustice.com/.

But we really need to ask ourselves, what is the real motive behind these calls to open eyes about the Costa Rica justice system? It has been inhumane for years now and now just because there is a “gringo” in jail it should be fixed?

In order to bring some legal perspective to the claims being made on the Costa Rica Injustice Website, we had Rafael Valerde of Outlier Legal Services to review the site and set the record straight. I have added my thoughts as well in regards to the legal information being provided.

Let’s go through what is being claimed on the Costa Rica Injustice Website:

FALSE PRETENSES

On February 17, 2014, Mr. Hundley voluntarily showed up for a deposition at the Prosecutors office in Puntarenas with documents to present his side of the business dispute.  The prosecuting attorney’s request for Mr. Hundley to give a deposition turned out to be false pretenses.  After asking Mr. Hundley a couple of personal family questions several officers came into the room and handcuffed him.  He does not speak Spanish and the translator available could not explain to him what was happening.  Mr. Hundley never presented his side of the dispute.  Instead of giving a deposition, he was arrested with no explanation and no legal rights.

Questions to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. Is there ever a circumstance where the above situation would happen in which the defendant would come to present his side of a case and would be arrested and not have knowledge of the case being presented against him? 

This would never happen in Costa Rica.  The criminal procedure starts when the victims file a complaint with either the OIJ or the District Attorney. If the DA knows who the defendant is, he will summon him to give a deposition. They DA would not proceed to arrest the defendant at the deposition unless there is an outstanding warrant for his arrest.  Only a Criminal Judge can issue a warrant for arrest. The DA cannot decide unilaterally to arrest a person.

Pat Hundley could not have showed up there “voluntarily” and wound up being arrested. Most likely, he was summoned to appear for a deposition with the DA. If the DA proceeded to arrest him is because there was already the outstanding warrant, which was issued because they deemed him a flight risk.

  1. In a situation like the above is the defendant normally present with his own counsel? Is there a reason he would not appear in a deposition without counsel or translator?

Per Costa Rican law just like the Miranda rights in the USA counsel is provided if the defendant does not bring their own. Also if the plaintiff does not speak Spanish they are provided a translator.  These are rights granted to every person in the Costa Rican court system.It is the prerogative of the defendant to waive his right to an attorney. If Mr. Hundley was not assisted by an attorney during the deposition it was because he did not want to.

My hypothesis based on these facts and various sources around the case:

Mr. Hundley knew that he was being charged and ignored the communication with the District Attorney.  After ignoring these requests for an extended period of time arrest warrants were issued for both he and his legal counsel.  (This in fact happened). If he did not know what was going on when he arrived (very unlikely), he would have been provided legal counsel as well as a translator.  If these things were not done then yes, they would have violated his rights, but there would have been no reason to not follow the law in this case.

PREVENTIVA

Mr. Hundley has been held in prison in Costa Rica for over four months with no probable cause, no hearing on the facts of the case and no end in sight.  The judge determined that he should be held in Preventiva while the prosecutor attempts to build his case against Mr.Hundley.  Mr. Hundley is now in Perez Zeledon Prison where he is in a cell with 60 other men (the cell was built for 22 people), some of whom are convicted murders.  Sixty men share one shower, one toilet and one urinal. Most men sleep on the concrete floor.  The conditions at this prison are inhumane and something you hear about in third world countries.

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. If there was no case nor probable cause against a client would a judge put them in preventive detention?Patrick Hundley Prison DayStar Jaco

Section 293 a) of the Code of Criminal Procedures requires probable cause in order put a person in preventive detention. The Judge can issue a warrant for arrest, and once the defendant is detained, there is a 48 hour period to revoke and appeal the order for the preventive detention. It is the responsibility of the defendant’s attorney to request the withdrawal of the preventive detention.

Preventive detention is requested by the DA and the judge can dismiss the request for preventive custody by default, provided that the request by the DA does not meet either of the elements for the request, being probable cause, flight risk, danger to the victims. In this case, it appears that there is probable cause that he committed the offenses and there is certainly a risk of fleeing the country since he is a foreigner. It seems reasonable that the court would order preventive detention for this case.

My hypothesis based on these facts and various sources around the case:

While Hundley is claiming that he is being held without probable cause; it is the responsibility of his lawyer to prove thiswithin the designated time frame.  Each client is given this opportunity in order to get out of preventiva. If he does not like it there he can pay the bail that has been set by the judge.  He would not have been arrested had he handled this case in a diligent manner. This detainment could have been avoided.

That being said, yes the prisons in Costa Rica are terrible. It has been reported on by various new sources and even reported on in the USA.http://www.qcostarica.com/2014/03/04/u-s-report-bares-naked-serious-abuses-in-costa-ricas-prisons/

HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION

Holding Mr. Hundley in prison under Preventiva is an injustice and a violation of the standards of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11 (1.):

“Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. How is this not different than the US bail system where a person remains in jail until trial or paying bail? Is it basically the same premise?  

The bail system in Costa Rica is the same as the one in the USA. If a defendant wants to get out of jail before the trial their lawyer can present their case to the judge in order to get a release or the defendant can pay bail.

My thoughts  based on these facts and various sources around the case:

This is the system in Costa Rica, and although it may be flawed it is the way it is. He is going to be provided a trial as are his rights.  Are we supposed to change everything for one gringo? What about all the other cases that no one cared about for the others in jail?

UNJUST BAIL – This section has been edited to show the real verbiage of the law

Mr. Hundley’s bail was lowered from 3.5 million dollars down to 2 million dollars on June 16th (four months after arrest).  Legal opinion is that these bail amounts are the largest bails in Costa Rican history, and one must come up with the full amount, not 10% like in some countries.

According to Section #250 in The Criminal Law Procedure Code of Costa Rica, the judge sets the bail based on the particulars of the case. For instance, the type of felony, the background of the defendant, and the economic situation of the defendant.

Patrick Hundley Prison DayStar Jaco 2On June 16, the Judge accepted Pat Hundley’s Income Tax Return, Bank Statements and Credit Card Statements (all notarized, stamped and sealed) and acknowledged the bail should be set according to the law.  The judge also gave no reason for the two million dollar amount.  Once again, Pat Hundley has been treated unfairly by the Costa Rican legal system.  By contrast, Luis Milanes Tamayo, accused of fraud by taking $200 million from investors in 2002, has served just a single day in jail while his case drags through the courts in San José.  Mr. Hundley should be able to surrender his passport, post reasonable bail and wait for a trial based on the facts.

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. How is bail determined by judges in Costa Rica? Do they need to follow the above law every time or can they make determinations based on the individual?

Indeed, as noted in section 250 of the Code of Criminal procedures the bail is set on a case by case basis depending on the particulars of the defendant and the case.

My thoughts based on these facts and various sources around the case:

I do think that the bail may have been set too high at the beginning  but I am not the judge nor do I know the case that was presented to him.  If the defendant ignored requests to communicate with the plaintiffs then he would be considered a flight risk. If you are considered a flight risk then most likely your bail is going to be set higher in order to ensure that you appear for your trial.  Again I think this could have been avoided had Mr. Hundley been in communication with the clients before arrest warrants were issued.

The other questions I have in regards to this statement on the Costa Rica injustice website are the following:

Are the plaintiffs investigating Hundley’s finances and is that part of the case against him? If so wouldn’t that challenge the validity of the tax documents Hundley presented to court on June 16th?

EXTORTION

Furthermore, the fact that if Mr. Hundley meets the demands of his business partner he will be released from prison reads like the definition of extortion: pay the money or continue to suffer in prison.  And the government of Costa Rica is a party to this.

Question to Rafael Valverde, Outlier Legal Services

  1. What is the process when it comes to settling in the Costa Rican court system?Does this differ from the USA?

In the Costa Rica legal system there are 2 types of cases civil and criminal.  In civil cases it is encouraged to settle outside of court in order to not waste time and money in the legal system.  If the settlement is agreed upon the case is dismissed. There is no jail time or arrests in civil cases. In criminal cases such as Mr. Hundley’s there is also the option to settle.  The settlement terms are presented by the plaintiffs and then the defendant can agree or go to trial.  This is the exact same process that is used in the USA.

My thoughts based on these facts and various sources around the case:

When it comes to the plaintiffs in this case, they have offered settlement terms which have supposedly been rejected.  I do not know how this can be seen as extortion as it is the right of the plaintiffs in most legal systems to request reasonable terms of settlement. It seems that the “business partners” are asking for their $7 million back. If Mr. Hundley cannot come up with the $2 million bail then perhaps his claims of extortion are a bit off base and he just does not have the money to pay back the plaintiffs.  Although 7 million might seem like extortion to some people, if I stole $10,000 from someone then I would expect the people bringing charges against me to want that $10,000 back. The same goes for a higher amount of money. It is not the plaintiff’s fault he does not have that liquid right now.

In Conclusion

In regards to all of the above statements, if they are true then you would think that his lawyer would be pleading to the judge and legal system about the injustices against his client.  There are too many sketchy facts to determine what the truth is, and many of these questions need to be answered before any of us come to any judgments.

However, there is one assumption we candraw from all the above data.  Mr. Hundley placed himself in this position by not responding to requests by the plaintiffs over the past year to talk about the case. While he is sitting in his jail cell complaining about the conditions, he should only look at himself and his legal counsel for being in that situation. He may not have known the law, but his lawyers should have.  It should be noted that his attorneys were also arrested and held for 30 days as accomplices.  Nowhere in the world is ignorance a valid legal argument. If I did not have a safety kit in my vehicle in Costa Rica and received a ticket for it, I could not use the excuse “ I didn’t know” as a valid legal argument.

The current rumor flying around the Jaco area is that Hundley is coming up with the $1.5 million bail money through a property sale and will pay this in after his next hearing which occurred, Monday July 7th in Puntarenas.

One would think that over the next months the truth will come out in the Costa Rican legal system through the court proceedings, combined with the findings of the audit currently underway within DayStar .

If you have any questions for Rafael Valverde of Outlier Legal Services, Visit his Website Here. 

Originally posted Costarican Times

Pura Vida!

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I was just bragging how this stuff doesn’t happen here. :-(

A National Police officer overlooks a crowd gathering at the Fuente de la Hispanidad in San Pedro, San José, after the Costa Rica-Netherlands World Cup match on July 5, 2014. (Courtesy Public Security Ministry)

National Police arrested 90 people in brawls and other incidents during and after Costa Rica’s match against the Netherlands on Saturday, according to a statement from the Public Security Ministry. More than half the arrests involved domestic violence, despite a government campaign to curb a recent spike in domestic abuse complaints during the World Cup.

Members of the national men’s football team, known as “La Sele,” hold signs in Brazil reading “No to violence,” as part of the government’s campaign against domestic violence.

Courtesy Public Security Ministry

 

One of the most dramatic events of the weekend took place in the Plaza de la Democracia in downtown San José, where a brawl broke out between several fans. Police confirmed Saturday evening that two victims were stabbed and another hit with a bottle. Eight arrests were reported, but no motive was disclosed.

More than half of Saturday’s arrests – 48 – involved domestic violence. Violent intrafamily incidents spiked during Costa Rica’s games during the World Cup. Guillermo Aroyo, president of the Costa Rican Red Cross, said that during Costa Rica’s June 29 match against Greece the organization responded to 200 more calls than usual. The Public Security Ministry, Presidency Ministry and other government bodies launched a campaign called “Give Domestic Violence the Red Card” last week to raise awareness about celebrating the games responsibly.

Some 23 suspects were arrested for fighting in alcohol-related incidents during or after the game that knocked Costa Rica out of the World Cup. Most of the arrests took place in San José, where police confiscated drugs and knives. Police also aprehended three suspects in the act of committing a crime, three for property damage, four for drug possession, one for robbery, and two for illegal gun possession, among others.

Some 3,500 police were out across the country and on the streets of San José, including at the Fuente de la Hispanidad, Plaza de la Democracia and Parque Central for Saturday’s game.

Originally posted Tico Times

Pura Vida!

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What you can see and enjoy in Costa Rica

What you can see and enjoy in Costa Rica

A tropical paradise you could never imagine–that’s the simplest and most appropriate way of describing this stunning country in Central America. The Panama Canal is to this country’s southeast. Beautifully located, this country is home to the most verdant tropical rain forests, lush and dense.

It is also home to the most amazing variety of exotic animals and plant life. Here’s a peek in to what you can see and be fascinated about on your trip to Costa Rica or the “rich coast” in Spanish:

Pristine and stunning beaches: Perhaps you want a quiet holiday by the beach or you may want to indulge in thrillingwater sports. Whatever your level of adrenaline rush, you can visit this miniscule country of 1,200 miles-long of beaches, with rocky coves and bustling coastal small towns.

Lush, dense tropical rainforests: You can also see a wealth of birds, insects and reptiles at the tropical rainforests and the most spectacular views on Earth.

Active volcanoes: Bang on the Pacific Ring of Fire, you will have the opportunity to see Costa Rica’s five volcanoes–each of them active! You can visit them by hiking here and enjoy a lava eruption.

Take your pick of national parks: With over 60 national parks, biological zones in 12 ecologically dense areas, wildlife refuges, you can get a never-before experience of the national parks insideCosta Rica has more than 60 national parks, wildlife refuges and biological zones spread across 12 ecological areas, offering the ultimate rainforest exploration experience. Visit the Manuel Antonio National Park, which though small, is home to four stunning beaches, unforgettable views of the Pacific Ocean, animal life like monkeys, sloths, ocelots, anteaters, etc. Coral reefs here will amaze you just as the occasional dolphin and whale will. You can also go scuba diving from here.

Another national park not to be missed here is the Corcovado National Park, home to over 100 amphibian and reptile species, and big cats, bats, jaguars and over 400 bird species. Don’t miss a trek from here.

Water sports–ride the waves here: If you’re a water sports buff, this is home for you. You can enjoy the water in an amazing array of water sports here, or go out for a small excursion where you can go bungee jumping, horseback riding or hot air ballooning.

Bird life watching: If you love being in the midst of Nature, you can’t leave Costa Rica without bird watching. This country regularly invests inenvironmental protection, so it has a huge and impressive wealth of biodiversity that is home to the world’s endangered species. This makes it a wonderful spot for bird watching tropical birds. You’ll be in the wonderful company of 900 bird species that you can’t find anywhere else.

However you may want to spend your holiday, you can’t do it better anywhere else than in Costa Rica. So, pack your bags and get here soon. There’s so much to see and enjoy here and memories to go home with.

Ready to book your vacation? Click on the link below!

Written by CostaRicaDave Best of Costa Rica Author

Pura Vida!

Categories: Costa Rica Dave, Costa Rica Life Experience | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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