Thursday, August 31, 2006

Congressman accused of sexual harassment

Federico TinocoCongressman Federico Tinoco, of the ruling National Liberation Party, allegedly engaged in sexual harassment of one of his assistants, a married woman. The lady made the situation known after the congressman refused to apologize. Apparently, the woman was fired by Tinoco after she rejected his advances during an official visit to the Caribbean area of Limon. It is the first time that such a situation arises at the Legislative Assembly, which is to launch an investigation of the case. (Photo: Eddy Rojas/La Nacion)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

U.S. supports day care centers for refugees in Costa Rica

A daycare in San Jose, Costa Rica - (Photo/U.S Embassy)Centers in Costa Rican capital are run by refugees for refugees

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - The United States has provided about $13,000 in financial support for the start-up of several day care centers in Costa Rica that give children of refugee families a safe place to stay while their parents work.

With financial support from a State Department program called the Ambassadors' Fund for Refugees, the facilities in the metropolitan region of Costa Rica's capital of San Jose offer both child care and job opportunities for parents.

To read more click here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

San Juan River case to The Hague

Costa Rica's Foriegn Minister Bruno Stagno answers questions about Costa Rica's dispute with Nicaragua over navigation rights on the San Juan River at the Foreign Ministry in San Jose , Costa Rica, Tuesday, August 29, 2006. Costa Rica presented its case for the right of navigation on the San Juan River, which seperates the two countries, before the International Court of Justice in The Hague today. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

For amore information about this international dispute click here.

"Crocodile Hunter" dies

The Crocodile Hunter battling a rattlesnake in Santa Monica, California.Australian wildlife dardevil Steve Irwin holds a rattle snake during Nickelodeon's 15th annual Kids' Choice Awards in Santa Monica, California in this April 20, 2002 file photo. Irwin, the quirky Australian naturalist who won worldwide acclaim as TV's khaki-clad 'Crocodile Hunter', was killed by a stingray barb through the heart while filming a new television documentary on the Great Barrier Reef in North Queensland, Australia, on Monday.

Ok this one is one of those posts that have nothing to do with Costa Rica but for personal reasons I wanted to share this with you. Although I was never a big fan of Steve Irwin and didn't completely agree with his methods I always appreciated the fact that he knew how to instill in kids from all over the world the love for our planet's animals. The fact that he knew how to take to his message of wildlife conservation and environment protection to the younger generations is probably his biggest and most important legacy. Thanks and RIP.

Steve Irwin (1962-2006)

Monday, August 28, 2006

ADL urges El Salvador and Costa Rica to reverse embassy moving decisions

ADL's Abraham H. Foxman (AP/file photo)New York, NY (ADL) - Deeply distressed at announcements by Costa Rica and El Salvador that both intend to move their embassies in Israel to Tel Aviv, the Anti-Defamation League today called on the leaders of both nations to reverse their decisions and maintain their official diplomatic offices in the capital city of Jerusalem.

"El Salvador and Costa Rica have for many years maintained a special and constructive relationship with Israel, so it would be a shame for those relations to sour now given the positive moral stand these countries had taken by maintaining their embassies in the eternal capital of the Jewish people," said Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.

"Given all that has happened with Hezbollah in the past few weeks, the timing couldn't be worse, for it gives the appearance that Costa Rica and El Salvador are punishing Israel for its decision to fight back against Hezbollah's unprovoked acts of aggression," the ADL leaders added.

In letters to President Elias Antonio Saca of El Salvador, and President Oscar Arias Sanchez of Costa Rica, the League expressed dismay at the announcements and urged both nations to "stand united with Israel against terrorism."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Costa Rica’s Jews upset by timing of embassy move

By Brian Harris
August 23, 2006

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (JTA) — Costa Rica’s Jewish community reacted with disappointment, resignation and a bit of anger to the government’s decision to move its embassy in Israel out of Jerusalem.

Costa Rican Jews had been prepared for the announcement, made last week by President Oscar Arias. However, they were upset by its timing, less than 72 hours after a U.N.-brokered cease-fire took effect in southern Lebanon. Arias, who took office in May, had promised during his campaign to move the embassy.

"The Jewish community of Costa Rica considers the president’s decision to be inopportune since, in light of recent events, it could be erroneously interpreted as tacit support for terrorist organizations that aim for the elimination of a sovereign or independent state," the Orthodox, 2,500-member Israeli-Zionist Center, the country’s main synagogue, said in a rare public declaration.

In a statement published Saturday in La Nacion, Costa Rica’s major daily newspaper, Arias said his decision was based on "international legality" and aimed "to rectify a historic error that damages us on the international level and denies us almost all forms of friendship with the Arab world."

No predominantly Muslim country has an embassy in Costa Rica. Moises Fachler

While the Jewish community leadership has been diplomatic in its response, some in the community openly questioned Arias’ action.

"What he did was a slap in the face," said community member Moises Fachler, who was particularly upset that Arias announced the move at a ceremony commemorating his 100th day in office.

The move came at a time of transition for Israeli diplomacy in Costa Rica. Long-time Ambassador Alexander Ben-Zvi returned to Israel at the end of his tour a week before the announcement. Ambassador-designate Ehud Eitan has yet to present his credentials.

Costa Rica had moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 1982 at the behest of Benjamin Nunez, a staunch Zionist, Costa Rica’s ambassador to Israel and a founding member of Arias’ National Liberation Party. The embassy remained there during Arias’ first term in office from 1986 to 1990 and even after Nunez’s death in 1994.

Nunez’s son, Rodrigo Carreras — also a former ambassador to Israel — told JTA the decision was wrong because Costa Rica’s embassy is in western Jerusalem, which is not disputed territory, and because the timing gives "the world the image that the administration is giving backing to Hezbollah and Hamas."

Carreras noted that Arias is interested in winning a seat on the U.N. Security Council next year, something that might be thwarted by Arab opposition. But Carreras pointed out that when he served as deputy foreign minister in the mid-1990s, Costa Rica was able to win a seat on the Security Council despite keeping its embassy in Jerusalem.

Arias first raised the issue of moving the embassy before he launched his presidential campaign in earnest. He reiterated his desire to move the embassy just after announcing his candidacy, but deftly avoided the issue as February’s election approached. After winning a narrow victory, he had refused to comment on the issue until last week.

Most of Costa Rica’s estimated 4,000 Jews, including two current members of the Legislative Assembly, traditionally have supported National Liberation. However, most offered the party lukewarm support at best during this year’s tight presidential campaign.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ericsson to install free GSM kit in Costa Rica

Swedish equipment supplier Ericsson has agreed to install 58 radio base stations and repeaters for Costa Rica's telecoms monopoly ICE, the operator said in a statement.

The new sites add to infrastructure Ericsson installed as part of a contract to deploy 600,000 GSM lines, but the firm will also install six base stations to strengthen infrastructure installed as part of a separate contract for 400,000 lines.

Costa Rica's Comptroller General recently ruled that the 600,000-line network delivered by Ericsson in December 2005 was incomplete.

It was not clear from the press release whether or not the additional 58 base stations were part of the original contract, which was delivered incomplete. However, the statement clarified that the base stations would be installed at "no extra cost."

Studies by ICE and Ericsson indicate that there is insufficient GSM coverage in 24 localities and six highways. Installation depends on ICE acquiring appropriate sites for the towers.

Source: BNAmericas.com

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tourism ministers gather in Costa Rica

Honduran Minister of Tourism Ricardo Martinez, left to right, Costa Rica's Minister of Tourism Carlos Ricardo Benevides, Nicaragua's Minister of Tourism Maria Nelly Rivas, Panama's Minister of Tourism Ruben Blades, and Guatamala's Minister of Tourism Willi Kaltschmitt, pose for an official picture on the grounds of the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel during the Central American Ministers of Tourism Congress near San Ramon, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 25, 2006. The tourism ministers were in Costa Rica to discuss plans for promoting the region as an integrated destination for U.S. and European tourists. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Costa Rica landlord: Karr 'a pervert'

By MARIANELA JIMENEZ

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP)- John Mark Karr bragged to his landlord's wife that sexually, he was "like a wolf," and said he "liked little boys and girls" when he worked in Costa Rica as an English teacher, his former housemates told The Associated Press.

Karr, now jailed in the United States after his arrest in Thailand, faces a Colorado warrant for the 1996 murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.

Karr traveled around the world in recent years, including brief stays in Honduras and Costa Rica, where he rented a room in 2004 from Canadian John Hall, who now teaches at a private university in the capital of San Jose.

"I had to kick him out, because he was obviously a pervert, and I was worried about the safety of my wife and my stepdaughters," Hall told The Associated Press.

Hall, 42, told AP in an exclusive interview that he rented a room to Karr through an Internet posting, but asked him to leave after about five weeks because Karr was saying "rude and inappropriate things" to his Costa Rican wife and stepdaughters, then 16 and 20.

"I threw him out because he was causing problems for them," Hall said. "Eventually he told my wife that he 'was sexually like a wolf,' and after that I asked him to leave."

One stepdaughter, now 22, told The Associated Press that Karr had said several times that he liked the "little ones." The stepdaughter spoke on condition her name not be published.

Hall said that Karr would often either talk incessantly, or sit in his room and listen to dark rock music, like that of Marilyn Manson, something that also bothered the Halls, who are Pentecostal Christians.

"We started getting pretty scared," Hall said, when Karr described himself as "sexually ambiguous" in conversations with the family and even visitors to the house. Karr also said he "liked little boys and girls," and that "he thought my stepdaughter ... was cute," Hall said.

Hall said Karr never touched his wife or stepdaughters, or did anything else criminal in Costa Rica that he was aware of, so he didn't alert police. But after kicking Karr out, Hall said, he remained suspicious enough to do a computer search to see if he was a sex predator.

"I suspected he was a pedophile. I looked on the Internet to see if there was something on him, but I didn't find anything," he said.

The following year, Karr taught for eight months at a small primary school in La Esperanza, Honduras, 60 miles from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, according to Renan Marquez, the school's chief administrator.

Marquez said Karr taught second grade but left because he had a contract with a school in another country; he didn't know which. Marquez told AP by telephone that Karr was always "reserved, shy, responsible, organized and punctual."

Karr "required a lot of discipline" of his second-grade English students, Marquez said. "I never saw anything strange in his treatment of the children."

Police in Costa Rica and Honduras told the AP they have no records of any complaints about Karr. "If Karr committed a crime in this country, nobody reported it," said Lorena Calix, spokeswoman for prosecutors in Honduras.

Associated Press writer Freddy Cuevas in Tegucigalpa contributed to this report.

Monday, August 21, 2006

First fossil of ancient mammal found in Costa Rica

Skeleton of a Desmostylus hesperus at the Geological Museum of Geological Survey in Tsukuba, Japan - Museum photoSAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AFP) - Costa Rican scientists discovered what they said was a fossil belonging to an amphibious mammal that was previously unknown to the tropics, a local newspaper reported.

Fossilized teeth of Desmostylus hesperus, a long-extinct mammal, have turned up in California and Japan, but never before in a tropical country such as Costa Rica, they told the San Jose daily.

The animal lived some seven million to five million years ago, to judge by the Pacific Ocean sediments in which the fossil was found, geologist Ana Lucia Valerio and paleontologist Cesar Laurito told the newspaper.

The tooth appeared to be from a young member of the species, which looked something like a manatee or an elephant, to which they are closely related, the scientists told the daily.

Friday, August 18, 2006

JonBenet Ramsey's murder suspect was in Costa Rica

Murder suspect John Mark Karr is led by Thai and U.S. officials from the detention center to a police news conference at Immigration office in Bangkok, Thailand Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)Suspect taught English clases in Costa Rica. He left the country in August, 2004

By Otto Vargas M.
La Nacion.com

Translated by Uri Ridelman

A former American school teacher, who is a suspect in the 1996 death of 6-year-old girl in Colorado, was in Costa Rica while on the run from authorities for the crime.

John Mark Karr arrived to Costa Rica on an unknown date and abandoned it crossing the border into Nicaragua by land on August 3, 2004, according to the records of the Immigration and Foreign Issues office.

This however wasn't Karr first visit to Costa Rica. In 1993, three years before Ramsey's murder, Karr spent a week in the country as part of his vacations.

Officials of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) in Costa Rica said that the presence of Karr in Costa Rican soil went unnoticed because they never received an arrest request.

On one of the resumes that Karr posted online, he wrote that he had taught English in many countries, Costa Rica being one of them.

Karr was captured in his apartment by Thai police on August 16 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Child model and beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey/KUSA photoJonBenet Ramsey, a 6-year-old child beauty queen, was found beaten and strangled to death in the basement of her Colorado home the day after Christmas in 1996.

Striking video images of the blonde-haired girl in child beauty pageants helped propel the case into one of the highest-profile mysteries in the United States.

Investigators said at one point that JonBenet's parents were under an "umbrella of suspicion" in the slaying, and some news accounts cast suspicion on JonBenet's older brother, Burke. But the Ramseys insisted an intruder killed their daughter, and no one was ever charged.

Wednesday's arrest was a surprise development in one of America's most lurid murder cases, which had left a cloud of suspicion over her family after years went by with no arrests. Some feared the case would never be solved.

Karr confessed to the killing after his arrest Wednesday at his downtown Bangkok guesthouse by Thai and American authorities, said Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul, head of Thailand's immigration police. Lt. Gen. Suwat Tumrongsiskul, head of Thailand's immigration police, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press at his office.

Suwat quoted Karr as saying he tried to kidnap JonBenet for a $118,000 ransom but that his plan went awry and he strangled her. Patsy Ramsey reported finding a ransom note in the house demanding $118,000 for her daughter.

In a telephone interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Suwat quoted Karr as saying he had sexually assaulted the girl. He also said that the suspect described the encounter with JonBenet Ramsey as "a blur."

The Ramseys learned that police were investigating Karr at least a month before the June death of JonBenet's mother, Patsy Ramsey, of ovarian cancer, the family said.

In a statement Wednesday, father John Ramsey said that if his wife had lived to see Karr's arrest, she "would no doubt have been as pleased as I am with today's development almost 10 years after our daughter's murder."

Information from the AP was used in this article.

Discussing free trade with Europe

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, left, and Josep Borrell, president of the European Parliament, take part in a news conference at the presidential house in San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2006. Borrell was in Costa Rica to discuss a possible Free Trade Agreement between Central America and the European Union. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Taiwan's FM visits Costa Rica

Taiwan's Foreign Minister James Huang (L) signs an agreement with his Costa Rica's counterpart Bruno Stagno in San Jose, Costa Rica, August 16, 2006. REUTERS/Monica QuesadaPanama City, Panama (CNA) - Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Huang Chih-fang arrived in Costa Rica Wednesday for a whirlwind one-day visit.

Huang, who just concluded a four-day visit to Panama, met with his Costa Rican counterpart, Bruno Stagno, for talks on matters of mutual concern.

The two ministers signed a memorandum of understanding on Taiwan's promise to assist Cost Rica in rebuilding the Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia hospital which was destroyed in a fire recently.

Taiwan originally pledged to donate US$15 million for Costa Rica to build an international convention center, but the two sides have reached an agreement on transferring the fund for rebuilding the hospital.

Huan also met with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.

Picture of the day

Steven Gomez, 8, who was the victim of a stray bullet that crossed his chest and missed his heart by a centimeter, helps slice up a gun during a ceremony at San Jose's National Park, in San Jose, Costa Rica, to mark President Oscar Arias' first 100 days in office, August 16, 2006. During the act Arias reiterated his commitment to disarmament and to serve as a mediator in the peace process in Colombia. (Photo by Monica Quesada/Tico Times)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Costa Rica to move its embassy out of Jerusalem

Costa Rican president Oscar Arias - AP Photo/Fernando VergaraSAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Costa Rica will move its embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, its new president said on Wednesday, in a move that pleases Arab nations and is a blow to the Israeli government.

The decision will leave El Salvador as the only country in the world with an embassy in Jerusalem.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, said he made the decision to win more friends in the Middle East and comply with United Nations' resolutions.

"It's time to rectify an historic error that hurts us internationally and deprives us of almost any form of friendship with the Arab world, and more broadly with Islamic civilization, to which a sixth of humanity belongs," Arias said at an event marking his first 100 days in office.

He said Shimon Peres, Israel's deputy prime minister, had called him on Tuesday to ask him to reconsider the decision.

Israel regards East Jerusalem as part of its "undivided and eternal capital." It captured the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally.

Former Costa Rican President Luis Alberto Monge moved the embassy to Jerusalem in 1982 as a show of support for Israel.

Arias said the relocation to Tel Aviv should not, however, be interpreted as as a slight to Israel, which has had historically close ties to Costa Rica.

“This is not about offending the dear people of Israel, with whom we are united, and will continue to be united by close ties, deeper than any political juncture. This is about respecting international law,” Arias said in a statement.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mother's day in Tiquicia

Costa Ricans select roses for Mother's Day in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, August 15, 2006. Different countries celebrate Mothers' Day on different days throughout the world because the festivity has a number of different origins. Each year Costa Ricans celebrate it on August 15. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Costa Rica: Over 1500 U.S passports stolen per year

San Jose, Costa Rica (La Nacion) - Costa Rica has become one of the nations where more U.S. passports are stolen, according to reports from the American Embassy here.

According to the information, the numbers surpass those of nations such as Mexico, Brazil, Italy, and France.

Even though data on those countries was not disclosed, the sources said that 1,558 U.S. passports had been stolen in Costa Rica last year.

Therefore, several recommendations were issued for bearers of U.S. passports, including that they carry only a photocopy of the original document.

Apparently, most of the cases of stolen documents result from the fact that tourists become too confident and do not take proper care of their documents and other belongings.

Meanwhile, Costa Rican law-enforcement agencies are developing operations to strengthen the protection of visitors.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tightened security affects air travel in Costa Rica

The increased security was visible at Juan Santamaria International. Photo by Insidecostarica.comNOTE: THIS IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS POST

Information taken from Insidecostarica.com

Due to the terrorist threat uncovered in Great Britain early yesterday, thousands of travellers to the United States from Costa Rica came under close scrutiny, more so than normal, at the Juan Santamaría International (San José) and Daniel Oduber (Liberia) airports.

Airport officials were quick to point out that yesterday the new restrictions did not affect flight schedules and no flights were delayed as a result. However, early this morning, several U.S. flights took off later than normal.

According to Jean Marc Borreau, an airport security official, passengers on medications must have a prescription to accompany the medications or will have to leave them behind.

Sales at the duty free shop are greatly affected, said Borreau, as a large percentage of customers at the duty free shop are U.S. bound, though no figures on potential losses were given.

The restrictions also mean that passengers on all U.S. bound flight should now arrive at the airport at least three hours ahead of their flight, one hour earlier than recommended.


The alleged plot was to smuggle liquid explosives onto planes and then detonate in mid-flight. The plan was blow up as many as 10 airliners headed for the United States. Security sources say that the plan is believed to mix a sports drink with a gel-like substance to make an explosive what could be possibly triggered by an MP3 player or cell phone.

Most passengers interviewed by local television at the Juan Santamaria airport were not upset by the added security measure, while some said it was "silly". Several North Americans headed home along with a number of Costa Ricans headed for the U.S. were interviewed.

Juan Santamaria International Airport tightens security

A security officer holds a bin full of banned items at a  check point at Logan International Airport in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2006. New security restrictions ordered travelers to dump their water bottles, suntan lotions and even toothpastes. In Costa Rica the new measures are already being applied.(AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)New security measures imposed after U.K authorities uncovered a terrorist plot

By Juan Fernando Lara
La Nacion

Translated by Uri R.

The increased security measures that are being ramped up in airports across the world are now being implemented in Costa Rica's Juan Santamaria Internationational Airport.

The new restrictions will be in effect from now until further notice and will affect passengers travelling from Costa Rica to the U.S.

U.S. authorities banned the carrying of liquids and gels onto flights after British authorities arrested 24 people in an alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound planes using explosives disguised as drinks and other common products.

The ban on liquids and gels covered such things as shampoo, toothpaste, contact lens solution, perfume and water bottles. The only exceptions were for baby formula and medications, which had to be presented for inspection at security checkpoints.

Items with these characteristics can only be carried in the checked luggage. Liquids are still allowed in checked bags because those suitcases are screened for explosives said Jean Marc Bourreau, a security official of Juan Santamaria International Airport.

The new security measures will also affect the duty-free stores located in the boarding areas of the terminal. The sale of restricted products is as of now prohibited to those travelling towards the United States.

Passengers travelling to other nations will not be affected by the ban, however everybody now has to present the boarding pass before buying a restricted item to make sure no one is lying about the destination.

The security check-up for those travelling to the U.S will also include a sistematic examination of all the passengers' shoes.

Yesterday afternoon the airport was still operating normally, but Burreau recommended all future passengers to limit as much as possible the carry-on bags.

Burreau said that by carrying only what they really need for the duration of the flight and putting everything else in the checked luggage people will accelerate the check-up process and reduce waiting times for everyone.

Airport operations are expected to slow down considerably during the departure of Americans flights, as the new security measures will have to be enforced.

Note: the article by La Nacion didn't mention if the new measures will also apply at Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, Guanacaste; however I asumme they will because several direct flights a day depart from that hub to the U.S.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Costa Rica arrests suspected FARC member

Hector Orlando Martinez Quinto was arrested in Costa Rica. Photo provided by InterpolBy MARIANELA JIMENEZ

San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - A man accused of participating in a 2002 rebel attack that killed more than 100 civilians in one of the worst tragedies in Colombia's four-decade-old guerrilla war was captured Thursday, local authorities said.

Hector Orlando Martinez Quinto, 38, a suspected member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is also accused of masterminding exchanges of arms for drugs in Central America for the rebel group.

He was detained in the Pacific coast city of Cocal de Puntarenas, said Francisco Ruiz, spokesman for Costa Rica's judicial police. Costa Rican authorities said they were working on his extradition.

Interpol, which put out an order for Martinez's arrest in March at the request of Colombia's anti-terror police, said Martinez was accused of taking part in the 2002 rebel attack in the Colombian town of Bojaya.

A FARC mortar round hit a church, killing 119 civilians who were seeking shelter there. Martinez is also accused in participating in a 1999 FARC attack on police in Jurado, Colombia.

Interpol said Martinez first came to Costa Rica in 1997 by land from Panama. He later obtained legal residency after marrying a Costa Rican woman.

The FARC is Colombia's largest guerrilla insurgency, with an estimated 12,000 fighters

Hewlett-Packard to add 2,000 jobs in Costa Rica

(AFP/File/Hector Mata) San Jose (AFP) - US computer maker Hewlett-Packard is planning to add some 2,000 jobs to their operations center in Costa Rica, a company spokesman said here.

The company already employs 3,200 people in its operations center in the Central American nation of about four million people.

Cesar Trujillo, one of the company's top regional officials, said that by 2007 its goal is to have some 6,000 employees in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Costa Rica may require visitors to vaccinate against yellow fever

The local channel 7 television news Telenoticias reports that the Health Ministry is considering requiring foreigners visiting Costa Rica to be vaccinated against "yellow fever".

Health officials say they will make a decision in a couple of months while they study the situation. The risk is high for the illness to be introduced in Costa Rica. Health officials saythat the reason for that is that the same mosquito that spreads Dengue can carry yellow fever.

Countries like Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela top the list of countries with known cases of yellow fever.

Yellow Fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease. The illness can range from flu-like syndrome to severe hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever.

Once the Health Ministry makes the decision, it will then require a decree by the Executive Branch (the presidency) of the government to be approved.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Arias in Bogota for Uribe's inauguration

Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, left, shakes hands with Gen. Julio Gonzalez, right, as he arrives to Catam, military airport in Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 6, 2006. Arias will attend the August 7 inauguration for a second four year term of President Alvaro Uribe.(AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Oscar Arias could mediate for peace in Colombia

Antonio Lopez, of Colombia's United Autodefense Movement (AUC), speaks during a news conference at the Presidential House in San Jose, Costa Rica, Friday, Aug. 4, 2006. Lopez and the AUC invited Costa Rican President and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize Oscar Arias to participate in Colombia's peace process. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Costa Rica may close consulate in New Orleans

Tomas Duenas, ambassador of Costa Rica - Photo by The Washington Diplomat.New Orleans, La. (AP) - Costa Rica has had a diplomatic presence here for a 100 years, but that may be coming to an end.

The Costa Rican government is considering to close its New Orleans consulate, and that move is spurring Louisiana's senators and congressmen to urge Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to keep a foot in New Orleans.

Louisiana's political leaders said in a letter to Arias that closing the consulate would be "a serious detriment" to trade. U.S. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., hand-delivered the letter to Costa Rican Ambassador H.E.F. Tomas Duenas on Wednesday.

Louisiana's exports to Costa Rica were valued at over $252 million in 2005.

"For years, New Orleans was a 'gateway to the Americas,"' Landrieu said. "A strong consular corps will help keep and strengthen those longtime relationships."

The day of La Negrita

Most Costa Ricans of Catholic faith spent the second day of August honoring the Virgin of Los Angeles also known locally as "La Negrita". Here are some pictures of the mass in its honor and of some ticos that made the pilgrimage to the province of Cartago, where the Basilica of Los Angeles is located. This year more than a million Catholic faithfuls made the pilgrimage to visit the Virgin of Los Angeles.

A man cries as he completes a religious pilgrimage to honor the patron saint of Costa Rica 'La Negrita' in the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, 22 kilometers south of the capital of San Jose, Tuesday, August 1 , 2006. More than a million Catholic faithfuls made the pilgrimage to visit the Virgin of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

An indigenous woman makes a religious pilgrimage to honor the patron saint of Costa Rica 'La Negrita' in the Basilica of Los Angles in Cartago, Costa Rica, 22 kilometers south of the capital of San Jose, Tuesday, August 1 , 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Costa Rican Catholics cheer as the patron saint of Costa Rica 'La Negrita' is carried through the square outside the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, 16 miles (22 kms) south of the capital of San Jose, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

'La Negrita', the patron saint of Costa Rica is seen at the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, (16 miles) 22 kms south of the capital of San Jose, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006. More than a million Catholic faithful are expected to make the pilgrimage to visit the Virgin of Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Costa Ricans stand under the sun to listen to a mass in honor of the patron saint of Costa Rica 'La Negrita' at the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, some 10 miles south of San Jose, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Costa Rican devotion to La Negrita

Rosa Maria Bustos cries as she completes her pilgrimage to honor the patron saint of Costa Rica in the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, 22 kilometers south of the capital of San Jose, Tuesday, August 1 , 2006. Bustos walked 350 kilometers over 8 days from San Vito de Coto Brus in southern Costa Rica to pray to the Virgin of Los Angeles, known locally as "La Negrita". More than a million Catholic faithful are expected to make the pilgramage. During the celebration of the apparition of the Virgin, Costa Ricans from all over the country walk to the basilica in the annual pilgrimage, which is a 405-year-old tradition. (AP Photo by Kent Gilbert)

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