By Dialogo July 14, 2015 EL Chapo is more clever than the whole Honduran Army. The U.S. training focuses on patrolling rural areas, operating border posts, providing first aid, using the latest fiber optic equipment to conduct vehicle checks, and a skill that is becoming increasingly important — swimming. Mata, along with other Costa Rican officials, took full advantage of the opportunity to consider how the U.S. Border Patrol’s approach could be adapted for their country, its 309-kilometer northern land border with Nicaragua, and its 330-kilometer southern boundary with Panama. “In order to be a Border Police officer today, you have to be able to swim, and you have to maintain certain abilities in the water,” Lacayo explained. Observing U.S. tactics to stop drug traffickers The June visit strengthened the bond between the two countries and will lead to additional cooperation, Security Minister Gustavo Mata and National Police School (ENP) Director Erick Lacayo told Diálogo. For example, in one instance, the Security Minister watched as U.S. Border Patrol agents conducted patrols on horseback — a tactic that he said could be used in Costa Rica, where “there are places that are unreachable by vehicle…even from the air.” All of these efforts to protect Costa Rica’s border pays important dividends for the country’s ecology, as well. Costa Ricans training to join the Border Police must complete a U.S. component during their training, which consists of a three-month Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) specialization course; prospects typically participate in the BORTAC training in the United States. The goal is to develop “a multifaceted, multifunctional officer,” who protects the border area and human rights, Lacayo said. “We must not only think we’re going to teach him how to use a pistol… we must also teach him he must protect natural resources, because, particularly in our border zone, we find the issue of logging, smuggling of species, meat, cheese, fish, products… which also becomes a human security issue.” The recent visit is just one example of close cooperation between Costa Rica and the U.S. on border security. Ongoing training programs “The visit was meant to observe how the [US] authorities manage the border,” said Mata, a former deputy director of the Judicial Investigation Bureau [OIJ] and former Vice Minister of Security. “I was fascinated, because I saw that they use entirely different logistics for border surveillance –- they have mounted police, they have helicopters, airplanes, they have patrol vehicles, they have all-terrain vehicles –- and this gives operational diversity to protection.” Fighting organized crime groups which engage in wildlife trafficking is one of the most important responsibilities of the Costa Rican Border Police, one of several civilian law enforcement forces that provide public security in Costa Rica since the country disbanded its Armed Forces in 1948. Protecting Costa Rica’s natural resources The Border Police was inactive for several years until Costa Rica relaunched the department on March 30, 2014, at the Costa Rican border post of Los Chiles. The Central American country has about 51,100 square kilometers of land surface and about 589,000 square kilometers of territorial waters, and is one of the 20 countries in the world with the highest biodiversity. It’s home to more than 500,000 species of animals, including marine mammals and reptiles, more than 900 species of birds, and many big cats, such as pumas, jaguarundis, margays, ocelots, and oncillas or little spotted cats. “All that experience allowed me to have a much broader criterion about how we’re going to guard our borders … and see what logistics I could count on. I bring with me a clear model, to see, to analyze whether it’s possible to adapt it,” Mata said. Top Costa Rican security officials recently studied border protection strategies during a visit to Texas installations of the United States Border Patrol, located along the border shared by Mexico and the U.S. The Costa Rican authorities observed strategies and tactics their country’s Border Police (Policía de Fronteras) could utilize.
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European investors were also positive on real estate, with 48.9% expecting to increase allocations, compared with 26.9% of North American investors.INREV, the real estate fund association for Europe, has been carrying out its Investment Intentions survey since 2007, but has teamed up with ANREV and PREA – its counterparts in Asia and the US, respectively – to provide a more global perspective.The results were revealed at the INREV Winter Seminar in London on Wednesday evening, where delegates heard that Germany was the top target market in Europe when including domestic investors, and the UK was the most popular market for international investors.UK offices was the most popular country-sector combination, preferred by 45% of investors, followed by French offices (44%) and German offices (43%).It was also revealed that ‘investment style’ preferences in European real estate funds remained consistent with 12 months ago, with approximately half of investors preferring core investments, around 42% preferring value-added strategies and roughly 7% preferring opportunistic investments.But Hesp revealed that the numbers for value-added and opportunistic would be lower if not for North American investors, which typically look for higher returns when investing outside their domestic market.The majority (70%) of Americans prefer value-add and the remaining 30% prefer opportunistic, while 66.7% of Asian investors prefer core and the remaining 33.3% are split evenly between value-add and opportunistic.Most European investors prefer core, especially Dutch (76.5%) and Swiss (75%) investors, although the majority of German investors (66.7%) also showed a preference for value-add strategies.Matthias Thomas, chief executive at INREV, said: “The global ‘Investment Intentions Survey’ reflects a generally positive sentiment across the industry as we enter 2014.“And while we see some familiar anticipated behaviours – such as European investors adopting a mostly defensive strategy and their US and Asian counterparts being more opportunistic – in Europe, there are also interesting shifts in attitude with a growing appetite for risk.” Institutional investors across the globe are increasing their allocations to real estate and intend to plough €35bn into the asset class in 2014, according to research by INREV, ANREV and PREA.The Investment Intentions Survey, a joint project between the three associations, surveyed 142 investors and found that, on average, they intend to increase their allocations from 9.5% to 10.3%.According to Casper Hesp, director of research and market information at INREV, greater confidence among investors, a more stable economic picture and perceived diversification benefits were the main factors behind the trend.Investors from Asia-Pacific were responsible for much of the growth, with 53.8% of those surveyed expecting to increase their allocations over the next two years.
“Accordingly,” the document states, “the Council were advised that the fund would not be requesting them to set up a Scottish Limited Partnership to hold its private rented residential investments.”The Scottish parliament currently has limited tax-raising powers and is able to vary the rate of income tax charged by 3 percentage points.Under legislation currently being debated, the devolved assembly would be granted more significant powers, including over income tax rates and air passenger duties.The decision has not halted Berkshire’s acquisition of PRS assets.Greenwood confirmed in the same report that the fund bought a 70% stake in an apartment block in the town of Wokingham for £5.7m.Greenwood’s report said the building consisted of 40 flats, all of which were rented, and that the fund was expecting to yield 4% from its investment by next year. The fund was recently involved in talks with two neighbouring boroughs that would have seen the merger of the three local government pension funds (LGPS).However, Berkshire’s most recent business plan said it still hoped to reduce costs through “co-operative working with other LGPS funds” over the course of 2015-16. The Royal County of Berkshire Pension Fund has shelved plans for a wholly owned property subsidiary over the devolution of greater tax powers to Scotland.The £1.6bn (€1.9bn) local authority fund was previously considering the launch of a Scottish Limited Partnership to hold its private rented sector (PRS) housing assets as it built up a portfolio, but it abandoned the idea earlier this month.Nick Greenwood, pension fund manager for the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, said the limited partnership idea was dropped after the UK government promised the Scottish parliament greater tax-raising powers in the wake of 2014’s unsuccessful independence referendum.In a document tabled at the fund’s most recent pensions committee, Greenwood said representatives for the pension fund and the council’s head of finance agreed that the “small risk” of loss of tax transparency for the limited partnership – “the possibility the income received in a Scottish Limited Partnership would be taxed in Scotland” – outweighed any benefits Berkshire might gain from setting up the company.