Thursday, December 14, 2006

Punta Piedra Island is not for sale

By Uri Ridelman

Costa Rica's Punta Piedra Island, which has supposedly been sold by a company called Private Islands Online for the price of $1.5 million and is being sold by another company called Tropical Islands at a price of $6 million, is not for sale.

That's what Andres Murillo, the person who paid for a permit to use the island, said to Diario Extra yesterday during an interview regarding the alleged sale.

All this mess is the consequence of the illegal business of selling Costa Rican islands online, which is nothing but a scam.

Murillo said that about eight years ago he paid for a permit to use the island to the Municipality of Golfito, Puntarenas, and that permit still belongs to him. He's also in the process of getting a concession for the island.

He has spent about $385,000 in the legal process of obtaining the concession and once that's achieved he plans to keep it. He won't sell the concession because he plans to build condos to rent to foreign tourists.

"I have not sold anything," Murillo said to Diario Extra, "despite what people are saying on the Internet."

Murillo said that a while ago an American that claimed to live in Nicaragua visited the island and asked him if he could take photos of the place, something that he didn't oppose to, but he plans to keep the island.

"I have not sold it, and it's not for sale," Murillo added.

Costa Rican islands can under no circumstance be sold because they are not private property. The islands belong to the State of Costa Rica, therefore can only be given away in "concession" for up to 20 years. However, only the Legistlative Assembly (Congress) is authorized to legally offer the government's islands in concessions.

No private company can claim it can legally negotiate a Costa Rican island with a potential buyer nor accept funds for the sale of an island.

The whole issue of the Costa Rican islands for sale on the Web has created a stir in the Costa Rican Congress and several of its members are calling for a judicial investigation.

Message from Tiquicia's Blog Web master:
Despite what Murillo says ads about the sale of the island pop-up every day on the Web. Today I found this Web site offering the sale of Punta Piedra for a price of $1.3 million. The ad refers those interested in the island to one Mr. Jorge L. Chavez. A reader of this blog also told me about an ad for Gypsy Island on a Web site called Luxury Real Estate, where the island is listed at a price of $4.5 million.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Beware of the Costa Rican islands for sale scam!

By Uri Ridelman

Note: This article has been written mostly by translating an article published in the Costa Rican newspaper Diario Extra. I just added a few things that the original article didn't mention. If you want to read the original article (in Spanish) click here.

Journalist Marco Leandro of the Costa Rican Diario Extra newspaper revealed yesterday that there are several on-line companies trying to rip-off people from around the world by offering Costa Rican islands for sale, some of them for as little as $1.5 million.

'For that price you buy not only the island itself but the monkeys, gators, butterflies, birds, waterfalls and palm trees in it,' writes Leandro in the article. In other words you get the rights to everything.

One of those companies is Private Islands Online, a company that describes itself as "the largest concentrated island market in the world … a one-stop shop where you can access a worldwide island inventory."

The company, which also offers islands from all over the world for sale, states that although "foreigners can't buy islands in the territorial waters of Costa Rica they can lease, with some restrictions a private island for up to 20 years by using renewable leases called 'concesiones'."

This however is not true because according to Costa Rican laws the Costa Rican islands belong to the government, therefore there is no such thing as a private island in Costa Rica.

Furthermore, congresswoman Ana Elena Chacon of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) told Diario Extra that the country islands can under no circumstance be sold because they belong to all the Costa Ricans, they can only be given away in concessions. However, only the Legistlative Assembly (Congress) is authorized to legally offer the government's islands in concessions.

This means that no private company can claim it can legally negotiate a Costa Rican island with a potential buyer nor accept funds for the sale of an island.

Despite all this, Private Island Online announces on its Web site several "islands for sale in Costa Rica" including Gypsy Island for $4.5 million, Punta Piedra Island (which supposedly has already been sold) for $1.5 million and Isla de Cedros Island at a price that will be disclosed "on request."

Chacon told Diario Extra that this is clearly a scam, and it should be investigated by the Costa Rican authorities.

Private Islands Online even boasts the fact that these islands include several permits and licenses required to run businesses on them.

For example of Gypsy Island the company writes:

"The island has original ICT permits for commercial tourism, with 18 approved resort use building sites on the low lying area. Additionally, there is a (run down) dock for safe anchorage, and the remains of the original bar, restaurant, cabins which were developed by the original owner. The island has a liquor license, which in itself is worth over $100,000."

Jalile Esna, a congresswoman of the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN), told Diario Extra that she will personally start an investigation to find out what this is all about.

Other islands mentioned as for sale in the Diario Extra article are Violin Island and Jesuit Island.

Message from the Tiquicia's Blog Web master:
Even though Private Islands Online may be legally dealing with private islands in other countries around the world, what it is doing in Costa Rica is clearly illegal. People should be warned that no Costa Rican island is for sale because there are no such things as private islands in this country.

If someone owns one already, he/she must know that the papers they have claiming ownership of the island are a)probably fake or b)legitimate but obtained by bribing Costa Rican government officials.

Perhaps the best thing to do if you think you have been a victim of this scam is to contact your local Costa Rican embassy or consulate.

After doing some research on the internet I found out that there is another company called Tropical Islands that also offers islands for sale and has Punta Piedra in its listings for a price of $6 milllion despite the fact that Private Islands Online supposedly already sold it for $1.5 million.

Private Islands Online is located at 550 Queen St. East Suite 330 in Toronto, Canada; while Tropical Islands, according to the mailing address is located in Miami, Fla.

Uri R.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I oppose Daniel Ortega

Do you want to understand why I oppose Daniel Ortega so strongly?

If the article I wrote didn't make it clear enough for you, or if you just want to read more about this pathetic excuse for a politician, then you have to read the piece called "A tyrant returns to Managua."

It is a great article that will put it all together for you. It explains in detail how Ortega won this election, the atrocities he commited in his previous governement and what the future looks like with him in power once again. Here is an excerpt of the article for all of you.

A Tyrant Returns to Managua
By Investors Bussiness Daily

Daniel Ortega's near-certain return to power in Sunday's election is a new Marxist disaster for Nicaragua. For the rest of us, Ortega should be kept at arm's length as global forces send him their message.

It's a shame, because Nicaragua had a lot going for it. The Central American state is very poor, but it did have a free trade pact with the U.S. in the works, much of its national debt has been forgiven and its leaders were dreaming of a new cross-country canal to rival Panama's. It had even begun attracting foreign investment from Asia with factories ready to go up, as well as U.S. retirees seeking inexpensive paradise homes.

All of these advantages, along with $220 million in U.S. aid, stand to go down the tubes with the new Ortega presidency.

To read the whole article click here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Daniel Ortega: Nicaraguans' puzzling choice

Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is sworn in as president of Nicaragua in this 1985 file photo in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/La Prensa, file)By Uri Ridelman

I am really disgusted and puzzled by the electoral results of the Nicaraguan presidential election. I can't believe that the Nicaraguan people have decided to give Daniel Ortega a second chance.

It is as if they have already forgotten all the suffering that this clown put them through in the 1980's.

I was a kid in Costa Rica during Ortega's first stay in power and still remember the numerous T.V newscasts showing the disgraceful conditions that Nicaraguans were living in under the government of Ortega.

What I ask myself is: If I haven't forgotten that, how is it possible that it seems that most Nicaraguans have?

Don't they remember the war? The land confiscations? The suffering that this power-thirsty leftist put them through to defend his ridiculous revolutionary ideals?

Don't they teach history in the Nicaraguan schools? Have Nicaraguans in 16 years forgotten what it was like living under the rule of the Sandinistas?

I know that corruption has been constant in Nicaraguan politics and the presidents that have ruled the country since Ortega left, but why think that Ortega is going to be any different?

Given his past record why believe in anything he has to say? I would think that if we consider his past he has the potential to be even more corrupt than his predecessors.

Ortega used a populist approach to win this election. He promised to work for the lower classes and battle poverty through "peace, love and unity."

He claims to be a changed man, and has repeatedly said he is not the Marxist revolutionary who fought U.S.-backed Contra rebels, a war that left 30,000 dead and the economy in shambles.

He has toned down his leftist rhetoric and pledged to continue free-trade policies but I don't buy any of it.

Apparently neither does the American governement because he is "a tiger who has not changed his stripes" according to the US ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli.

Travelli in fact recently claimed that an Ortega victory would lead to "the introduction of a Hugo Chavez model" in Nicaragua and will affect bilateral ties.

I agree with him and in fact I believe that Ortega will try to find a way to remain in power once the end of his presidential term approaches. I think he will try to tweak the constitution or come up with some sort of political alliance to remain in power past 2012 just as Chavez is trying to do in Venezuela.

Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, who also happened to be in power during Ortega's previous term, doensn't agree with me. He said that the election was transparent, that democracy has been consolidating across the region and that Nicaragua is no exception.

Arias, who had a tense relationship with Ortega, also thinks the Nicaraguan leader is a different politician than the one that ruled in the 1980's.

I really hope that Arias is right and Trivelli is wrong. That Ortega is indeed a changed man, that he has left behind his Marxist ideals and won't try to become a dictator once his next term concludes because if there's something that the people of Nicaragua at least deserve after decades of bloodshed is to live in peace and freedom.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Danie Ortega wins presidential elections

by Patrick Moser

MANAGUA (AFP) - Former revolutionary leader Daniel Ortega headed to a comeback victory, as partial results of Nicaragua's election dashed the United States' hopes to see his latest presidential bid flounder.

The once iconic Cold War foe of Washington, now 60, has been endorsed by virulently anti-US Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and fiercely opposed by US officials.

Results based on 40 percent of polling stations showed Ortega getting 40 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, easily defeating conservatives Eduardo Montealegre and Jose Rizo, who got 32.72 percent and 20.33 percent respectively.

Photo: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, left, shakes hands with Nicaragua presidential candidate Daniel Ortega prior to a private meeting in the city of Managua, Nicaragua on Monday Nov. 6, 2006. Electoral officials have yet to release final results from Sunday's vote, but preliminary results and two of the country's top electoral watchdog groups all give Ortega about 40 percent of the vote which could mean he will be rising once again to Nicaragua's presidency.(AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)

More on Daniel Ortega:
The Dangers of Daniel Ortega
CNN Cold War: Profile of Daniel Ortega

CNN Cold War: Interview with Daniel Ortega
Profile of Daniel Ortega by The Christian Science Monitor
Ortega, Again? By Mark Klugmann National Review Online

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