Friday, June 30, 2006

Costa Rican Economy recovers

Photo by Getty Images(Nacion.com) - The economy of Costa Rica presents a marked recovery. The data to March this year –the most recent fully available– show a 6.8 percent increased as compared to the same period ending in March 2005.

According to analysts, the improvement is boosted by the exports from free zones, the agricultural sector, and the sales of communication services.

The estimate and integration coordinator of the Monthly Index of Economic Activity of the Central Bank, Elvia Campos, said that in the first three months in 2006, the economy of Costa Rica expanded 3 percent more than in the same period last year, when the increase was 2.5 percent.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Another CAFTA lobbyst visits Tiquicia

Thomas Shannon, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, left, speaks with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, right, at the presidential house in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 28, 2006. Shannon is in Costa Rica to to talk, among other things, about CAFTA with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and other government officials . (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Even though American President George W. Bush has said in several occasions that his government would give Costa Rica time to ratify CAFTA at its own pace, his administration's actions indicate otherwise.
Just last January, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana, met with then President Abel Pacheco to also lobby for the ratification of the treaty.
Of the countries that signed the agreement, Costa Rica is the only one that has yet to ratify it.
Uri R.

Monday, June 26, 2006

No fishing in national parks

Photo by George Lepp/Getty Images(insidecostarica.com) - The Costa Rican government rejected the request of commercial fishermen to operate in the waters of national parks.

The Minister of the Environment Roberto Dobles asserted that fishing in protected areas is in no way going to be allowed.

The refusal is firm, even though the Abel Pacheco administration had given in to fishermen in order to avoid their threat to stage demonstrations and blockades in the Port of Puntarenas.

The current law bans and fines commercial fishing in the waters of national parks and protected areas.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Exports increased, but imports will cost more

Marco Vinicio Ruiz(nacion.com) - Costa Rican exports increased 15.86 percent through last May and as compared to the same period that ended in May 2005. During those 12 months, the nation sold $8.49 billion, as compared to $4.464 billion through May last year, according to the Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER in Spanish).

Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz pointed out the sustained increase of sales abroad since last year. According to him, the agricultural and the industrial sectors generate most of the sales.

On the other hand the cost of imports rose during this year’s first four months, propelled by the rising price of oil and raw materials in the international market.

As a result, through April, the cost of imports increased by $1.92 billion (22.54 percent), as compared to the first four months last year. The major effect of fuel imports is blamed on the price, since consumption increased only by 2.2 percent.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Costa Rica wants Iraq reference removed

Bruno StagnoSan Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - Costa Rica wants its name erased from the list of countries supporting the invasion of Iraq. But the United States says that's not possible.

The Costa Rican government initially supported the invasion, but public sentiment was never strong and polls show now that most Costa Ricans oppose the war.

Opponents of the fighting took the name issue to the country's Supreme Court, which ruled the references to support should be removed.

While the U.S. government removed the Central American nation from the list of the so-called "coalition of the willing" in 2004, it still appears in archive documents and on related Internet Web sites that haven't been updated.

"We are insisting through diplomatic routes that it be clarified our country was removed" from the list, Costa Rican Foreign Relations Minister Bruno Stagno told Radio Eco Thursday.

Stagno asked the U.S. government in May to ensure that the country's name was erased from all lists, but said the State Department told him on June 19 that wasn't possible.

U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Mark Langdale, who delivered the response, said the list is part of the Web page's archives and appear in other parts of the Internet.

"Although they aren't correct anymore, they form part of the historic record and can't be modified or removed," he said. "We regret any confusion these archives have caused."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Costa Rican girl wins Fan of the Match award

Name: Viviana Meza Alvarado
Age: 16
Hometown: Heredia, Costa Rica
Match 18: Ecuador vs Costa Rica
Date: 15-Jun-2006
Venue: FIFA World Cup Stadium, Hamburg

This is the first time in Germany for Viviana who has travelled with her family from Central America.

They are spending two weeks here and have been lucky enough to get tickets for all three group games involving the Ticos.

To read the whole article click here.

Even though we lost 3-0 I think it's pretty cool that a teenager from Tiquicia was chosen Fan of the Match. The new Fan of the Match award celebrates the passion of colourful supporters at every FIFA World Cup game. Football fans around the world will have a chance to vote for the Fan of the Tournament among the chosen winners of the Fan of the Match award. If you want to support Viviana visit this link and vote for her by recommeding how many stars you would give her. Maybe this girl can win the award and our country won't come back empty handed after all.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Showing of the Da Vinci Code can continue

Poster of the movie The Da Vinci Code (AFP/File)(insidecostarica.com) - The Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by a Catholic follower that would have suspended the showing of The Da Vinci Code in cinemas in Costa Rica.

The court magistrates did not accept the arguments in the appeal that the film went against the Political Constitution and should be censored. The appellant argued that the film went against the morals and beliefs of Catholics.

The magistrates said that if the contents of the book and the movie were offensive to the appellant, he was well within his right to express his opposition and not see the movie.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

1,600 recall the lives of four who drowned on a class trip

From left to  right: Brett Carlson, Jessica Pierce, Danielle Tongier and Andrew Harpstrite. Photos by the Wichita EagleBY AMANDA O'TOOLE
The Wichita Eagle

PARSONS - The balloons drifting over Parson's blue skies had a special significance. The pink ones were for Danielle Tongier.

The purple for Jessica Pierce.

The red for Andrew Harpstrite.

The blue for Brett Carlson.

Friends and relatives of the three students and teacher at Labette County High School watched as the balloons were released following a memorial to celebrate their lives Friday in Parsons.

All four drowned off the coast of Costa Rica on June 9 while they were on a class trip. Rescue crews pulled the bodies of the youths from the churning Pacific waters shortly after the incident; Spanish teacher Brett Carlson's body was recovered Friday.

Eight students who were also on the trip planned the service and each took a few moments to recall memories of their friends to a packed audience of about 1,600 people in the Municipal Auditorium.

Their messages were positive, sometimes funny and always clear: the four who died were good people and good friends.

To read the whole article click here.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Body of Kansas teacher found

Photo of Brett Carlson / APSan Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - Costa Rican authorities on Friday found the body of a Kansas teacher who drowned along with three of his high school Spanish students after being swept away by strong currents in the Pacific ocean.

Brett Carlson, 26, and the others from the Labette County High School in Altamont, Kan., drowned Saturday in Playa Palo Seco, about 186 miles south of San Jose, according to Red Cross officials.

Carlson reportedly jumped in to try to save the three students: Jessica Pierce, 17, Danielle Tongier, 18, and Andrew Harpstrite, 17, whose bodies were recovered this week as authorities searched the waters.

Labette County school Superintendent Dennis Wilson said that 10 students, Carlson and another chaperone had been in Costa Rica since June 6, and students saved money all year for the language and arts trip

Friday, June 16, 2006

Oscar Arias meets the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI meets with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez during their private meeting at the Vatican, Friday, June 16, 2006. (AP Photo/Maurizio Brambatti, pool)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Oscar Arias in Italy

In this photo provided by the Italian Presidency, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, right, shakes hands with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez during his official visit at the Quirinale Presidencial palace in Rome, Thursday, June 15, 2006. Arias is scheduled to have a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Friday. (AP Photo/Enrico Oliverio, Italian Presidency, HO)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Body of third Kan. student found near Costa Rica

Costa Rican Red Cross workers search for four U.S. tourists that were swept out to sea near Parrita, Costa Rica, 220 miles (354 kms) south-west of the capital of San Jose, Sunday, June 11, 2006. Three Kansas teenagers died after they were swept away by currents while swimming at a Pacific Coast beach in Costa Rica, authorities said. (AP Photo/Al Dia/Cristian Campos)Three students, teacher swept out to sea

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - Search teams on Tuesday recovered the body of a third Kansas teenager who died along with two others in a weekend swimming accident off Costa Rica's Pacific Coast.

The three students and a teacher from Labette County High School were apparently swept out to sea on Saturday by currents off Palo Seco beach, near the town of Parrita, about 180 miles south of the Costa Rican capital of San Jose.

The body of Jessica Pierce, 17, was found by the crew of a shrimp boat, who alerted authorities.

"We located the body at a point 14 nautical miles from Esterillos," on the same stretch of coast, "and we are continuing the search for other man," said Red Cross shift supervisor Alexander Porras.

Still missing was Brett Carlson, 26, a Spanish teacher at the high school in Altamont, Kan., where all the victims went to school.

A plane, a helicopter, three boats and shore patrols have been involved in the search, Porras said.

The body of Danielle Tongier, 18, was found Saturday. The body of Andrew Harpstrite, a 17-year-old junior at Labette, was recovered Sunday.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Scotiabank to Buy Costa Rica Bank for $293.5 Million

Scotiabank to Buy Bank Interfin

NEW YORK (AP) -- One of Canada's largest retail and commercial banks, Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia, or Scotiabank, said Tuesday it agreed to acquire the largest private bank in Costa Rica, Corporacion Interfin, for roughly $293.5 million.

The acquisition is expected to close in about two months, and will be undertaken through a public share offering.

Scotiabank said it has had a presence in Costa Rica since 1995, where its subsidiary has 17 branches and 300 employees.

Separately, credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Services affirmed its stable outlook on Scotiabank after the company announced the Interfin acquisition, and kept its long-term deposit rating at "Aa3," and its financial strength rating at "B."

U.S.-traded shares of Bank of Nova Scotia were down 57 cents at $40.44 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Two Kansas teens drown in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Red Cross workers recover the body of U.S. student Andrew Harpstrite, 17, that was recovered at sea near Quepos, Costa Rica, 220 miles (354 kms) south-west of the capital of San Jose, Sunday, June 11, 2006. Two Kansas teenagers died and two other Americans were missing after they were swept away by currents while swimming at a Pacific Coast beach in Costa Rica, authorities said. (AP Photo/Al Dia/Cristian Campos)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

17 thousand foreigners rejected thru May

A Costa Rican  border police officer finds two Nicaraguans trying to illegally cross into Costa rica. File Photo - Julio Lainez/The Tico TimesDuring the first five months this year, Costa Rican law enforcement agencies prevented 17,071 aliens from illegally entering the country.

The regulation applied in these cases is called "immigration rejection", and is applied at the borders or within a few meters from them.

According to the Immigration service, most of the rejections (12,779) took place at the PeƱas Blancas crossing to Nicaragua, followed by the Immigration post at Los Chiles, also close to the Nicaraguan border (3,821).

According to Immigration boss Mario Zamora, another 261 aliens were deported during this period.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Soccer crazy Ticos!

The country was paralyzed for half a day, some schools had no classes and the government gave its employees half a day off. All this because of the inaugural game of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in which Costa Rica faced host Germany. Despite the 4-2 loss Ticos everywhere enjoyed the vibrant and record-breaking game.

REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Daddy Yankee will perform in Costa Rica tonight

Puerto Rican reggaeton star Daddy Yankee holds up a Costa Rican national soccer team jersey during a news conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 7, 2006. Daddy Yankee will perform Thursday night in Costa Rica on the eve of the opening game between Costa Rica and Germany in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Thousands protest against CAFTA

Once again, protesters marched against the Free Trade Agreement between Central America and the U.S. The march, organized by union leaders, took place peacefully but under the watchful eye of the police. (All photos by Kent Gilbert/AP)

Police watch over a protest by thousands of Costa Ricans against the Free Trade Agreement in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 7, 2006.

Thousands of Costa Ricans protest against the Free Trade Agreement in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 7, 2006.

Costa Ricans protest with a poster reading 'WITH THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT (TLC) ONLY THE RICH WIN...AND YOU? EACH TIME POORER' during a protest in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wednesday, June 7, 2006."

Those who frequently read my blog know my opinion about these marches, so I won't waste any more time ranting about them.

Hopefully, with the FIFA World Cup starting on Friday and Costa Rica playing in the opening game against Germany, we won't see another protest like this one until the greatest sporting event in the world concludes on July 9, 2006.

Costa Rica is a soccer-loving country and I think that union leaders won't risk a public relations fiasco by calling for a march that would have less people than a Sunday morning company picnic.

I think, that in almost every Tico, the love for soccer is way bigger than the hate for CAFTA. I have no stats but I can bet any of my readers that if we ask any 10 ticos on the street, nine of them would rather stay glued to their T.V sets watching the 2006 FIFA World Cup than marching through San Jose.

Damn...so much for not ranting about them stupid marches!

Uri R.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Picture of the day

Angie Flores paints an ox-cart, one of the typical symbols of Costa Rica, at a local factory in Sarchi, Costa Rica, Tuesday, June 6, 2006. Costa Rica plans to promote its tourism industry, which attracts more than 1.5 million tourists each year, during the opening game between Germany and Costa Rica in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Vessel abandoned in Costa Rica found in Hawaii

In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard , the sailing vessel Chaton De Foi, from Channel Islands, Calif., floats about a mile off of Milolii Bay, near Honolulu, Monday, June 5, 2006. The 33-foot sailboat abandoned in Costa Rica seven months ago apparently drifted thousands of miles before being discovered off Hawaii late Monday, Coast Guard officials said. The owner, a Southern California man, abandoned the sloop Dec. 2 after experiencing engine trouble and severe weather off Costa Rica. He was rescued by a passing boat, Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Petty Officer Marsha Delaney said. The vessel was towed into Hilo, Hawaii, while the owner makes arrangements to get it back. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Deyon Langon)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Only 33 percent of Costa Rican students complete high school

Education Minister Leonardo Garnier - Photo by www.leonardogarnier.comSan Jose, Costa Rica - (Prensa Latina) Lack of resources, family problems and lack of interest in school classes have caused 53 percent of 17-year-old Costa Rican students to drop out, Costa Rican Education Minister Leonardo Garnier admitted Friday.

Garnier said it is shameful that only 33 percent of students complete secondary school, and between 20 and 30 percent of those who leave, do it because they are very poor and take low-paying jobs.

Students take an average of 9.4 years to graduate from secondary school, when they should do it in five years, Garnier pointed out.

Costa Rican statistics reveal that of 89,272 students who should be in school, there are only 42,267.

Assistant Education Minister Alejandrina Mata warned of the urgent need to improve quality, make classes more attractive and increase teacher preparation.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The future of indians in Costa Rica

Guaimi indians Aurelia Garcia, left, and her daughter Analeida, 6, of Panama, ask for money on the streets of Alajuela, Costa Rica, Friday, June 2, 2006. Garcia said she has little hope for her daughter's future, because the government doesn't help the indigenous community. Indigenous children in Central America and Mexico live in precarious conditions and the authorities aren't doing enough to change it, according to Juan Jose Ortiz, assessor for Latin America and the Caribbean on indigenous issues for UNICEF .(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tom Green's adventures continue in Costa Rica

(AP Photo/Rene Macura, Activision, HO, File)DENVER - Actor Tom Green said Thursday that an accident near his house in Costa Rica has made him more respectful of the ocean.

Green, who was in Costa Rica this week collecting video for a new project, said he was fishing alone two months ago when a violent wave slammed him into a rock. He said he hit his head, broke two ribs and stumbled back to his house before driving to a hospital about two hours away by dirt roads.

He apparently shocked the cleaning lady.

"I was covered in blood, hardly alive. I walked past the cleaning lady. She looked at me like she was looking at a dead person," he told The Associated Press by telephone. "I just walked into my shower."

A day earlier, the waves pulled him "14 football fields" out into the ocean while surfing.

"It took me an hour to get back into shore, and I said, 'I'm never gonna be that risky with that ocean again. I'll just go fishing.' The next day I got nailed," he said.

"I have a tendency to leap into things, sometimes too hard. I think that definitely made me more aware. I'm looking both ways across the street more often," Green said.

Green recently finished directing an upcoming movie, "Prankstar." His acting credits include "Stealing Harvard," "Freddy Got Fingered" and "Road Trip."

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