Thursday, September 28, 2006

Russia and Costa Rica renew energy, trade agreements

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno, left, and Vice Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Serguey Kisliak, right, walk in the Foreign Ministry in San Jose, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2006. Kisliak was in Costa Rica to improve bi-lateral relations between Costa Rica and the Russian Federation, and discuss the candidacy of Costa Rica for the Security Council in 2008. As a result of the visit Costa Rica and Russia announced that they have revived a series of agreements on trade and energy among other things. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

To find out more about the meeting click here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Immigration investigating refugees

Director of Immigration Mario Zamora explains Costa Rica's investigation of particular cases of Colombian refugees for possible criminal activity during an interview in San Jose, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 25, 2006. Zamora said that these particular cases were being investigated to see if there were Colombian 'hit men' or other criminals that had entered Costa Rica under the protection of refugee status, and was not a review of all Colombian refugees in Costa Rica. The investigation was prompted after Costa Rican police arrested several Colombian criminals that entered the country under the status of refugees. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Exclusive Resorts-Andre Agassi project to open in Costa Rica

New York, NY - September 25 2006, Tennis legend Andre Agassi is partnering with AOL co-founder Steve Case's Exclusive Resorts to co-develop luxury real estate. Starting with a project in Costa Rica set to be completed in 2007, Agassi and wife Steffi Graf will build luxury tennis and fitness facilities at select Exclusive Resort destinations worldwide. Exclusive Resorts is the largest destination club with 300 residences in 35 destinations and nearly 2,400 members. [Exclusive Resorts/AP Photo/Zack Seckler]By Uri Ridelman

In 2007 the province of Guanacaste in Costa Rica will have yet another luxurious resort innaugurated in its Peninsula de Papagayo region: the members-only Poro-Poro resort.

This time the project features the partnership between Exclusive Resorts, one of the world's leading luxury destination clubs and tennis legend Andre Agassi, who have teamed up to to co-develop luxury resort real estate and design Agassi-Graf Tennis and Fitness Centers worldwide.

The Poro-Poro resort will be opened in early 2007 with a special event that will benefit the Agassi Foundation according to a press release provided by Exclusive Resorts. The event will give the opportunity to selected foundation donors to meet and play tennis with Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf at Poro Poro, get tennis tips from them, and offer their support for the Foundation's initiatives.

As a result of the new alliance Agassi-Graf Tennis & Fitness Centers will be constructed at selected Exclusive Resort locations, and new resort communities with state-of-the-art tennis and fitness facilities will be developed.

The deal also will make Agassi a senior advisor to Exclusive Resorts, helping it to develop its tennis and fitness programs around the world while also consulting on destination selection and facility design. Agassi will also provide a newsletter for Exclusive Resorts members about enhancing tennis and fitness activities for their families.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Costa Rica resumes relations with Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah(Xinhua News Agency) - Costa Rica has resumed diplomatic relations with Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen after Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno's Friday talks with his counterparts from the three Arab countries in New York, the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The diplomatic moves came after the Central American country announced on Aug. 16 that it would move its embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

During a meeting on the sidelines of the 61st United Nations General Assembly, Stagno and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah also discussed UN reforms, the race for the next UN secretary general, and other issues, according to the statement.

Sheikh Mohammad said Kuwait supports Costa Rica's bid for a non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council for 2008-2009, and the political consultation mechanisms between Latin American nations and the 22-member Arab League.

Stagno also met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem in New York and exchanged views on resuming the diplomatic relations.

Costa Rica has been steadily rebuilding its relations with Arab nations since the Aug. 16 announcement, and resumed diplomatic relations with Egypt and Jordan in the last two weeks.

Costa Rica moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1982, chilling its relations with the Arab world.

The status of Jerusalem has been one of the most sensitive issues in the Israel-Palestine dispute.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

International Day of Peace celebration

Costa Rican school children dressed in traditional dresses dance during a celebration of the U.N International Day of Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006. (All Photos by Kent Gilbert/AP)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Miguel Angel Rodriguez launches book

Former Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodriguez speaks about his new book 'Di La Cara' in San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006. Rodriguez said he wrote the book to explain what he has endured since being forced to resign in 2004 as Secretary General of the Organization of American States, after being accused of political corruption while President of Costa Rica. Rodriguez, who now teaches economy at a local university, continues to be investigated but has not yet been charged.(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Arias attends the U.N General Assembly

Oscar Arias and Kofi AnnanU.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, right, escorts Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias to their meeting at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Tuesday Sept. 19, 2006. The purpose of Arias visit was to was to address and attend the 61st United Nations General Assembly. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Costa Rica ratifies Inter-American convention against terrorism

Costa Rica's permanent representative to the OAS, Javier Sancho Bonilla.Becomes 21st nation to join efforts to fight terrorism in Western Hemisphere

By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington - Costa Rica has joined the United States and 19 other nations in the Western Hemisphere in ratifying a regional pact designed to eliminate the financing of terrorism and to deny safe haven to suspected terrorists.

In a September 15 statement, the Organization of American States (OAS) said Costa Rica deposited that day the instruments of ratification for the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism. By doing so, said the OAS, Costa Rica is "thus honoring its commitment to collaborate in the international effort against the scourge" of terrorism.

Costa Rica's permanent representative to the OAS, Javier Sancho Bonilla, said that by ratifying the convention, his country now is "party to all hemispheric and international instruments in force to combat" terrorism.

To read more click here.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

CAFTA opposition on Independence Day

A Costa Rican girl takes part in a parade as university students protest against the Free Trade Agreement (TLC) during celebrations of the 185th anniversary of Independence Day in San Jose, Costa Rica, Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. Costa Rica remains the only country which has not signed the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) with the United States. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

I hate it when CAFTA opponents try to make their cause seem as a patriotic duty and I hate it even more when I see that they get children involved in their propaganda. Many Costa Ricans support CAFTA and just for that reason they aren't any less patriotic than those opposing it. To politicize our Independence Day to promote CAFTA opposition is pathetic and discusting. Free Trade opponets should be ashamed of themselves.

Uri R.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Parade of lanterns

A Costa Rican school girl takes part in the traditional parade of laterns celebration on the eve of Independence Day in Alajuela, Costa Rica, Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006. The Central American country is celebrating 185 years of independence from Spain. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Costa Rica, Egypt resume diplomatic ties

Foreign Minister Bruno StagnoCosta Rica and Egypt on Wednesday resumed their diplomatic relations which had been suspended since 1983, the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry announced.

The agreement on ties resumption was reached by Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno and his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Abul Gheit on the sidelines of the ongoing 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Havana, capital of Cuba, the ministry said in a statement.

They also agreed to reopen their embassies soon.

The two ministers also exchanged views on boosting bilateral political, trade and economic cooperation, vowing to strengthen bilateral coordination in international organizations.

The resumption of ties came about one month after Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said on Aug. 16 that his government had decided to move its embassy in Israel from the disputed city of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

Costa Rica moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 1982, chilling its relations with the Arab world and prompting Egypt to suspend diplomatic ties the following year.

As the Arab League is headquartered in Egypt, the resumption of ties with Egypt would boost Costa Rica's relationship with "the Arab and Islamic world as well as opening trade opportunities with these nations," said Stagno, who also expressed Costa Rica's willingness to restore diplomatic relations with Jordan.

The status of Jerusalem has been one of the most sensitive issues in the Israel-Palestine dispute.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Jose Maria Figueres will attend panel discussion in Phoenix

Former president is facing questionings in Costa Rica for a 1997 contract with Alcatel

By Uri Ridelman

Former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres Olsen, who has repeatedly refused to return to his country to testify in an investigation for corruption charges during his administration, will be in the Phoenix area Friday for a discussion of foreign direct investment in developing countries.

Craig Barrett, current chairman of Intel will join Figueres at Thunderbird, the Garvin School of International Management.

Barrett and Figueres were key players in the 1997 contract that brought a $300 million semiconductor assembly and test plant to Costa Rica that is responsible for a shift in the country's top exports, from coffee and bananas to electric and electronic products. The industry now employs 12,000 and exports US$1.65 billion in products a year.

Figueres will make a presentation on "Building Competitive Advantages in Nations: Strategic Investment in Education and Technology."

Figueres resigned as director-general of the Geneva-based World Economic Forum after the questionings on the contract between Alcatel and the government broke out.

Investigations have revealed that Figueres had allegedly received close to 400 million colones, almost $1 million at the time of the deal, from Alcatel after leaving office.

Figueres is facing questionings in his country for a job checking technical details of an offer of mobile communications technology from Alcatel for which he received nearly $906,000. The secretary of his party received a similar amount for checking orthographic mistakes on the document of the contract

He is currently living Europe. Despite numerous requests from a a legislative committee to come home and explain the reasons for the compensation, Figueres refused to comply, and in a note to Congress insisted the payments were remuneration for the legal consultation he provided the French company.

Information from newswires was used to write this article. Figueres background material obtained from Wikipedia and the Tico Times Online.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering 9/11

A Costa Rican man places flowers at the Sept. 11 memorial during a ceremony honoring the victims on the fifth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks in San Jose, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 11, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Costa Rican Patriotic song

In the month of our independence I want to share with all of you this nice video I found on YouTube. It's a song called the "Costa Rican Patriotic" (Patriotica Costarricense) and it's one of the most important songs of our country after the National Anthem. It has nice photographs of our country as well as the lyrics in Spanish for those Ticos abroad who feel like singing it. Enjoy! You can find this video and more information about Costa Rican touristical attractions in my Tico Travel blog.

Uri R.

A high-speed internet connection is recommended to watch this video.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The face of Natascha Kampusch

Ok this has nothing to do with Costa Rica, but I find her story so brave and moving that now that her face is known I had to post something about it.

The cover of Austrian weekly 'NEWS', which shows 18-year-old Natascha Kampusch - the young Austrian woman who escaped from her hostage ordeal two weeks ago, is pictured September 6, 2006. Kampusch, who was imprisoned for 8 1/2 years in an underground cell, gave interviews to 'News' magazine, Austrian daily newspaper 'Kronen Zeitung' and Austrian television channel ORF, which will be broadcast later on Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Investigative panel planned for Tinoco's case

(A.M Costa Rica) - The legislative leadership will pick a three-person committee to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against Federico Tinoco, a leading deputy of the Partido LiberaciĆ³n Nacional.

Francisco Antonio Pacheco, assembly president was to name the members of this panel today. They will not be current members of the legislature. They will take testimony and prepare a report for the leadership.

Tinoco is accused of verbally harassing and then planting an unwanted kiss on a married mother of four who was working in his office. She was fired after refusing his advances and hired by another lawmaker,she said.

The woman has not been named, but it is known that she is a 37-year-old lawyer who is not a professional politician.

The Tinoco case has been the major news story of the past week. He has taken a short leave of absence from his legislative duties. He does not seem to have been given the benefit of the concept of innocent until proved guilty in the court of public opinion. Some women picketed the assembly Monday supporting the legislative aide.

Because he is a lawmaker, Tinoco has immunity from criminal charges. The allegations so far do not rise to the level of a crime, but he has been urged to surrender his immunity.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Beauty of the world

Miss Bolivia Ana Maria Ortiz Rodal, center, greets the audience during the welcoming gala of the Miss World 2006 pageant, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2006. 102 contestants are taking part in the finals, which will conclude on Sept. 30. Behind, from left: Miss USA Brooke Elizabeth Angus, Miss Venezuela Alexandra Federica Guzman Diamante, Miss Panama Giselle Bissot Keiswetter and Miss Costa Rica Belgica Arias Palomo. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

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