Monday, July 31, 2006

Ticos the happiest in Latin America

The World Map of Happiness of the University of Leicester, England, ranks the degree of happiness in 178 nations, according to a global survey.

Denmark ranked number one, followed by Switzerland and Austria. In Latin America, Costa Rica is first, even though it occupies the 13th slot in the world ranking.

The survey included interviewing over 80,000 people on topics related to happiness and satisfaction, as well as reports from several international agencies, including UNICEF, the CIA and the World Health Organization.

The answers to the interviews were supplemented with data pertaining to the quality of life, education and the health system.

The other nations that round up the top 10 happiest countries are: Iceland, The Bahamas, Finland, Sweden, Bhutan, Brunei and Canada.

Ireland occupied the 11th place, The Netherlands ranked 15th, while The United States came in at a surprisingly low 23rd.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Costa Rica makes free-trade pact priority

President Oscar Arias - Photo by REUTERS/Alberto LoweCosta Rica, Last Country Left to Ratify CAFTA, Makes Free Trade Pact a Priority

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- Costa Rica's government, the last country left to ratify the Central American Free Trade Agreement, included approval of the free trade accord in a list of 38 projects it sees as a priority.

The list was sent to lawmakers late Thursday by President Oscar Arias. Congress is expected to analyze the accord in August during a special session, and will likely approve the deal.

Congress failed to approve the CAFTA under former President Abel Pacheco, who had argued that lawmakers needed to pass a series of fiscal reforms before considering the accord. Unions have opposed the deal, saying it would hurt farmers and factory workers.

Arias' strong support for CAFTA nearly cost him his bid to return to the presidency. He argued in his campaign that the trade deal will help revitalize the country's stagnant economy. He was inaugurated in May.

The project list also included electoral and immigration reforms.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Chileans remember embassy massacre victims

Sisters Laura Sariego, left, Rafaela, center and Elena, hold Rocio Sariegos portrait, their other sister, in front of the former Chilean embassy seat in Costa Rica on July 27, 2006 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Rocio was one of the three persons assassinated by an embassy guard July 27, 2004. Relatives and friends of Rocio are commemorating the second anniversary of this massacre. (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Indigenous malnutrition

Gerald Castro, an indigenous boy who is suffering from severe malnutrition, lays in bed in a hut in the village of Piedra Mesa, in Telire, in Costa Rica's Talamanca mountains. About 10 million people die of hunger each year around the world, including a child every five seconds, the Austrian director of the Catholic charity Caritas said. (AFP/File/Mayela Lopez)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Foreign affairs meeting

Nicaraguan Minister of Foreign Affairs Norman Caldera, center, leaves with Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Relations Bruno Stagno, right, after their press conference at the Foreign Affairs seat in San Jose, Costa Rica on Wednesday July 26, 2006. Caldera is in Costa Rica since July 23 to settle two new consulates seats. (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Costa Rica relaxes visa requirements

Mario Zamora/File photo by La Nacion.comSAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - Costa Rica has relaxed visa requirements for visitors from 102 nations, officials said Monday, in the Central American country's most sweeping migration reform in decades

Migration Director Mario Zamora said the government officials decided to ease the red tape to help boost Costa Rica's tourism industry and assist foreign investors who operate businesses in the country.

"This decision took into account not only politics but the opening up of trade, tourism," Zamora said. "It seeks to improve our ties to the rest of the world."

Under the new rules, citizens of many countries now can enter by just showing their passports.

But the visa restrictions remain for visitors from several countries, including Cuba, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, North Korea, Somalia and Haiti.

Colombians and Nicaraguans, the country's most common visitors, still must apply for 30-day visas at Costa Rican consulates in their nations.

Zamora said restrictions had been enacted during the Cold War, when Costa Rica limited access to nations aligned with the Soviet Union.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Picture of the day

A group of children dressed in traditional Guanacaste costumes visit the national handcraft fair in celebration of the 182nd anniversary of the Guanacaste province's annexation to Costa Rica, Saturday, July 22, 2006 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Guanacaste was annexed by Costa Rica July 25,1824. (AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Big Dig victim buried in Costa Rica

By Marianela Jimenez, AP Writer

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - A woman crushed in her car in Boston's Big Dig was buried in her hometown in Costa Rica on Wednesday, nine days after an accident that her husband told mourners, "will never be erased from my mind."

Milena Mora de Del Valle's oldest daughter, Yetty Raquel, 23, and her sons Caleb, 19, and 17-year-old Jeremy, sang and prayed in the Oasis of Hope Christian temple in Moravia, just north of the capital, San Jose.

As her coffin adorned with flowers was lowered into the ground in pouring rain, her youngest son broke down.

To read the whole article click here.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Milena’s kids focus on burial, not life in U.S.

Yetty Raquel Ibarra, 23, makes funeral arrangements for her mother Milena Mora Vargas Delvalle, of Costa Rica, who was killed when concrete ceiling panels fell onto her car in one of Boston's Big Dig tunnels late Monday night, at her home in Coronado, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 13 , 2006. Ibarra said that her family was awaiting the return of her mother's body so that she could be buried in her native Costa Rica over the weekend. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)By Jairo Villegas and Laura Crimaldi
Boston Herald

The remains of Milena Del Valle, the tunnel collapse victim who was robbed of her life by the tragic blunders of the $14.6 billion Big Dig, arrived in her native Costa Rica last night as loved ones prepared to bury her in her homeland.

“What’s really important for us is that mother is here in the country and we want to be with her,” Del Valle’s eldest daughter, Raquel Ibarra Mora, 23, said yesterday from her modest home in Coronado.

A funeral service will be held for Del Valle, 38, this morning at the Christian church Oasis de Esperanza in Moravia, which is near her hometown of Coronado, said Mora, who lives with her brothers, Kaleb, 20, and Jeremy, 17.

She will be buried in a cemetery at La Isla de Moravia, Mora said.

Last night, Del Valle’s remains arrived in Costa Rica on a Delta flight. They were carried to a Christian church in Dulce Nombre de Coronado for a vigil, Mora said.

At a memorial service Saturday at the Iglesia de la Comunidad in Jamaica Plain, the church where Del Valle was married, her husband, Angel, vowed to do whatever necessary to bring her three children to America if they wish.

Yesterday, however, a possible move to the United States was not on the minds of Del Valle’s children. “Any decision we may make will be later,” Mora said. “God will say what he has for us since it is not in our hands.”

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dead woman's mother strives to move forward

By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff July 18, 2006

Vasquez De Coronado, Costa Rica - The mother of the Jamaica Plain woman killed last week in a Big Dig tunnel collapse said she is anxious to bury her daughter and move on.

``I want all of this to end," said Miriam Vargas, 61.

Vargas spoke during an interview in her house, a small, concrete, one-bedroom dwelling covered with a metal roof about 20 minutes north of San Jose, Costa Rica's capital.

She expressed no anger or resentment about the collapse, which occurred as Milena Del Valle and her husband, Angel, were driving to Logan International Airport.

Ceiling panels fell on the couple's Buick sedan, crushing the car and killing Del Valle.

``God knows why this had to happen," said Vargas, an evangelical Christian. ``There is no reason to be sad, because in God we have hope."

Del Valle, who left for the United States about five years ago, always sent money and gifts, Vargas said. ``God took care of me through Milena," she said.

Angel Del Valle arrived in Costa Rica Sunday afternoon with relatives, including his sister, brother, and father. The family is staying in a nearby hotel, Vargas said.

A memorial service is expected to be held at Oasis de Esperanza , an evangelical church where Del Valle worshipped. The burial will take place in a cemetery near the church.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Memorial service for Costa Rican collapse victim

Pallbearers carry the casket of Milena Del Valle at the Iglesia Hispana de la Comunidad church during her memorial service, in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. Del Valle, of Costa Rica was crushed to death by falling concrete in a Big Dig highway tunnel late Monday night. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Costa Ricans waiting for victim of Big Dig's collapse

Yetty Raquel Ibarra, 23, holds a photo of her mother Milena Mora Vargas Delvalle, of Costa Rica, who was killed when concrete ceiling panels fell onto her car in one of Boston's Big Dig tunnels late Monday night, at her home in Coronado, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 13 , 2006. Ibarra said that her family was awaiting the return of her mother's body so that she could be buried in her native Costa Rica over the weekend . (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Conference of mayors in Costa Rica

Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, left, Johnny Araya, center, mayor of San Jose, Costa Rica, and Juan Carlos Navarro, right, mayor of Panama City, Panama, joke during the inauguration of the XI Inter-American Conference of Mayors in San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, July 13 , 2006. Mayors of the capital cities of Latin America, Spain, and Portugal were meeting in Costa Rica to discuss the process of globalization. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Heartbreak for tunnel victim's husband & family

The chunks of concrete that fell on the car(CBS4) - The woman killed in the I-90 connector tunnel ceiling collapse will be laid to rest in her native Costa Rica.

38-year-old Milena Delvalle left behind three adult children and her husband, who is speaking about the accident for the first time.

46-year-old Angel Delvalle and his wife Milena were driving to Logan Airport to pick up his brother Monday night when 12 tons of concrete dropped on their car just after 11 p.m.

"It was like a bomb," he told the Boston Herald. "Everything was falling. It was too fast. I couldn't stop. I couldn't do anything."

“It all happened so fast, I can’t even understand what happened.” he told the Boston Globe.

Milena was riding on the passenger side, which bore the brunt of the crashing concrete. Angel crawled through a window and escaped with minor injuries. He said there was no way to pry open the passenger side door.

"I wanted to do the impossible," he told the Globe.

Angel also said his wife "was the woman of my life... and she continued to be until God took her away from me."

"Milena was just a wonderful woman...that's all I can say about her," said sister-in-law Inez Del Valle-Nelson to CBS4's Karen Anderson.

The Del Valles were married about 18 months ago and lived in Jamaica Plain. She moved to Massachusetts from her native Costa Rica about five years ago. Her three children still live there.

Angel is a native of Puerto Rico. Milena worked in a local restaurant and cleaned offices at night. Angel works at a local supermarket.

Milena’s friends told CBS4 she worked the two jobs so she could send money home to her family.

The family is working to organize a memorial service for Friday in Boston.

As for the investigation, the family is waiting for everything to play out. "Somebody's going to have to be held responsible...but where do you start?" said Duane Nelson, Angel's brother-in-law.

Costa Rican woman dies in Boston when tunnel roof collapses

Milena Delvalle died in Boston, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Iobel Navarro)Boston, Mass. (AP) - Twelve tons of concrete fell from the ceiling of one of Boston's Big Dig tunnels, crushing a Costa Rican woman in a car and again raising concerns Tuesday about the integrity of the massive highway project in the central artery through the city.

The car's driver managed to crawl through a window to safety, but his passenger was killed when four of the massive concrete panels hit the vehicle, authorities said.

The accident was near the entrance to the Ted Williams Tunnel, which runs under Boston Harbor to Logan International Airport.

The debris and the potential for more panels to fall shut down the tunnel shortly before midnight and backed up traffic for miles during the Tuesday morning commute. Authorities hoped to reopen it midday Wednesday but were still inspecting at least 17 other sections of the tunnel system and removing about 30 ceiling slabs from the accident site.

The $14 billion Big Dig highway project, which buried Interstate 93 beneath downtown and extended the Massachusetts Turnpike to Logan Airport, has been criticized for construction problems and cost overruns. There have been water leaks and at least one incident when dirt and debris from an air shaft fell onto cars.

In May, prosecutors charged six current and former employees of a concrete supplier with fraud for allegedly concealing that some concrete delivered to the Big Dig was not freshly mixed.

The victims were identified by State Police as newlyweds Milena Delvalle, 38, a native of Costa Rica, and Angel Delvalle, 46. Angel Delvalle was treated for minor injuries.

The two were headed to Logan Airport to pick up his brother and sister-in-law, who had been vacationing in his native Puerto Rico.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Protesting tuna farms in Tiquicia

People protest against planned tuna farms the government is considering licensing off the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica at the National Monument in San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, July 11 , 2006. Enviromental groups believe the planned Tuna farms will have harmful effects on the biodervisty in the surrounding ocean and the area of Golfo Dulce (The Sweet Gulf). -AP Photo/Kent Gilbert-

Energy meeting

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and Bruno Stagno, Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, speak during the opening ceremony Central American leaders Summit in Panama City, Panama, Tuesday, July 11, 2006. Central American, Mexican and Colombian leaders will discuss a regional energy plan and immigration accord during the one-day summit. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Miss Universe contestants

In this handout photo released by Miss Universe L.P., LLLP, Fabriella Quesada, Miss Costa Rica 2006; Alessandra Mezquita, Miss Panama 2006, and Jackelinne Piccinini, Miss Guatemala 2006, pose in their swimsuits in Los Angeles on Saturday, July 8, 2006. They will compete for the title of Miss Universe 2006 on July 23. (AP Photo/Miss Universe L.P., LLLP, Darren Decker)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Clown conference in Tiquicia

Costa Rican clowns show off their make-up during the national clown conference in San Jose, Costa Rica, Friday, July 7, 2006. Hundreds of Costa Rican clowns took part in the conference to practice their art and learn new tricks from each other. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tico food now available online!

A typical plate of Gallo Pinto with a side order of scrambled eggs, tortilla and a slice of cheese. A favorite Costa Rican traditional dish.I finally was able to launch my latest blog: Tico Food, a blog where I'll bring you Costa Rican recipes, news about the Costa Rican food industry, information about its products and more.

Tico Food replaces "Tico Books" a blog which never really took off. I spoke with several American friends that live in Tiquicia and most of them told me that they would be more interested in learning how to prepare a Costa Rican dish (like Gallo Pinto, pictured) than finding out which books have been written by Costa Rican authors or what are the latest Costa Rican tourism books.

I find it pretty understandable because after all most Costa Rican authors write in Spanish and most of the American people I talked to can't read in Spanish. Besides,when they want to buy a Costa Rican tourism guide they can find out what the latest ones are on Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles.

Therefore, I hope you find Tico Food useful and keep coming back to learn how to cook the Tico way. One note though, if you have problems preparing the dishes please don't ask me for advice. I'm a lousy chef and besides, I didn't write the recipes I am just sharing them with you. Good luck!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Costa Rican family deported to native country

Gerald Lizano speaks to reporters at Toronto International Airport.CTV.ca News Staff

As people across the country gathered for Canada Day celebrations, a Costa Rican family living in Toronto flew back to their native country after losing a deportation fight.

The five members of the Lizano-Sossa family said goodbye to the country they called home for five years before being deported on Saturday.

Before they boarded a plane at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, they embraced friends, shed tears, and thanked the community and members of the media for offering them support.

"They want to take me out of the country, but nobody can take Canada from my heart," Gerald Lizano, the father, told reporters.

To read the whole article click here.

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