Thursday, November 30, 2006

Incofer seeks to offer urban train under concession

Costa Rica's state rail administrator Incofer is looking to concession capital San Jose's urban train in 2007, local paper La Prensa Libre quoted Incofer president Miguel Caravaguiaz as saying.

Authorities came to the conclusion that the city's railway system needs further modernization, which would be possible through a concession scheme, Caravaguiaz said.

However, changes in the country's concession law are first needed before the train and other public infrastructure can be turned over to the private sector, a source from Costa Rica's national concession council (CNC) told BNamericas.

To read the whole article click here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ox-cart parade in Tiquicia

Here are a few photos from the traditional ox-cart parade in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006. This parade is part of the end-of-year festivities that take place in the Costa Rican capital every year. (All photos by AP/Kent Gilbert)


































Friday, November 24, 2006

Black Eyed Peas concert in Costa Rica video

I found a short video of the Black Eyed Peas's concert at Ricardo Saprissa stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica, on November 21, 2006.

I was at the concert and I have to admit that the sound was really crappy but otherwise the show was cool. Fortunately I didn't pay a thing to watch this concert because an uncle of mine handed me some free tickets, otherwise I would have been really mad about the crappy sound.

Besides, this was my second BEP concert as I had already watched them perform with the Pussycat Dolls this year at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida and that one was a thousand times better.

Note: a high-speed internet connection is recommended to watch the video

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Drug "submarine" off Costa Rica was disguised boat

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - A vessel carrying 3.5 tonnes of cocaine that was seized by the U.S. Coast Guard off Costa Rica last week was not a submarine as first thought but a speedboat camouflaged to avoid detection, Costa Rican officials said on Wednesday.

The 45-foot (14-metre) craft was "a cigarette boat", a sleek, fast vessel typically used by drug traffickers, that had an ocean-colored fiberglass covering intended as camouflage, said Costa Rican coast guard commander Rodrigo Peralta.

The Costa Rican coast guard had told reporters on Sunday the craft, found near the remote Coco Island, was a makeshift submarine that traveled 6 feet under the surface.

The boat rode low in the water because of the weight of the cocaine but did not actually submerge, said Peralta. It had traveled from Colombia and was on its way to the United States with the cocaine.

"It was covered with lead lamination to conceal it from radar," said Peralta.

Tubes protruding from the boat, which initially gave officials the impression it was a submarine, turned out to be exhaust pipes.

Two Colombians, a Guatemalan and a Sri Lankan were arrested aboard the craft and taken along with the cocaine to the United States, Costa Rican officials said.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Black Eyed Peas in Costa Rica

The Black Eyed Peas perform during their "Monkey Business" concert in San Jose, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006. The Black Eyed Peas were triple winners at the 2006 American Music Awards on Tuesday night. The hip-hop quartet was named favorite group twice, in the rap/hip hop and soul/rhythm & blues categories. They also won favorite rap/hip-hop album for "Monkey Business." The group appeared on the awards show via satellite before their concert to acknowledge their awards. (All photos by AP/Kent Gilbert)









Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Narco homemade submarine intercepted off Costa Rica

A Costa Rican police officer guards a homemade submarine captured off Costa Rica's Pacific coast, is under guard in the Pacific port of Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 20, 2006. The 49-foot craft, which was packed with three tons of cocaine worth about $90 million, was spotted Friday, 166 kilometers (103 miles) off Costa Rica's coast near Cabo Blanco National Park on the Nicoya peninsula, according to Costa Rica's Security Minister Fernando Berrocal. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, FBI and Colombian officials aided Costa Rican authorities in the operation. Two Colombians, a Guatemalan and a Sri Lankan man were arrested and taken to the U.S., since they were captured in international waters. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Nobel gathering for Guatemala's youth

From Left: Nobel Peace Prize 1987 and Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, Nobel Peace Prize 1997 Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize 1992 Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Nobel Peace Prize 1976 Betty Williams, pose for photos during an event in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Friday, Nov. 17, 2006. Nobel Peace Prize winners Rigoberta Menchu, of Guatemala, Jody Williams, of United States, Betty Williams, of Northern Ireland and Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, gathered in Guatemala to meet with young people.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Doing the government's job

'What does the government do with all of the taxes we pay? Why do they leave the roads like this, like we are poor?' asks Costa Rican Adriana Rojas, as she uses a plant and table to protect a cement patch she's applying in the middle of the road in Alajuela, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006. Between 70% and 90 % of Costa Rica's national road and highway system is in 'bad or very bad shape' due to government abandonment, according to a recent study by the program The State of the Nation. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Arias attends anti-corruption meeting in Guatemala

Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, left, chats with El Salvador's President Tony Saca, during a news conference at the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Coffee-picking images

Michael Palma, 17, from Nicaragua, picks coffee beans during a harvest on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, some 27 miles northwest of the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 13, 2006. Costa Rica is hosting the 20th SINTERCAFE International Coffee Conference this week, which brings together coffee producers from around the world to discuss plans for sustainable development in the coffee sector. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Nicaraguan immigrant workers wait in line to be paid for their coffee harvest on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, some 27 miles northwest of the capital of San Jose, Monday, Nov. 13, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

A Nicaraguan immigrant worker measures harvested coffee beans on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, some 27 miles northwest of the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 13, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

A Nicaraguan immigrant worker gets paid for his coffee harvest as others wait in line be paid on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, some 27 miles northwest of the capital of San Jose, Monday, Nov. 13, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Drop in human development

Getty Images(La Nacion) - For the fifth consecutive year, Costa Rica lost ground in the Human Development Index, as a result of the erosion in the distribution of income.

This year, Costa Rica placed 48th among the 177 nations evaluated, one slot down from 2005 and more distant from the 41st position it had in 2001.

Norway places 1st in the world, and the best ranked Latin American country is Chile, 38th. The Index is made by the United Nations Program for Development and it analyzes three key issues: health, which takes in life expectancy; education, which measures the rate of enrollment; and economy, regarding the growth of economy and yearly income.

The document points out that 2.2 percent of the population of Costa Rica –86,000 people– live on less than $1 a day, while 7.5% of them (322,000) do so on $2. The major single item that accounts for Costa Rica's performance is the increasing gap in income when those with the highest are compared to those with the lowest, analysts point out.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Costa Rican inflation slows down

Francisco Rodriguez, Central Bank Chairman.(La Nacion) -The cumulate inflation between November 2005 and October 2006 (inter-annual) reached 10.09 percent, below the 11 percent goal for overall inflation this year set by the Central Bank. Since December 2003, this is the first time that Costa Rica returns to the inflation rates predominant from 1999 through 2003.

Even though two months remain to be evaluated, the outcome in the first 10 months follows the Central Bank's expectations. Between January and October this year, the cumulate inflation was 7.24 percent, according to the National Statistics and Census Bureau. "I believe this year we will have better-than-expected results, and the Central Bank's task is to strengthen this positive trend for it to grow strong in 2007," said Central Bank chairman Francisco Gutierrez. (Photo: Daniel Rodriguez/La Prensa Libre)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Picture of the Day

Miss Costa Rica, Maripaz Duarte, 20, a contestant at the 2006 Miss Earth pageant, poses at the poolside of a hotel in Manila November 9, 2006. About 90 women from all over the world will be vying for the title Miss Earth on November 26, 2006, with this year's pageant focusing on global warming. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Ticas dance to stay healthy and active

Costa Rican women take part in a dance class to help elderly people stay healthy and active in the Municipal building in Alajuela, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006. The evolution of the population has changed with fewer births and longer life expectancies, which could put the Social Security system at risk, according to Costa Rican authorities. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New reforestation program to fight illegal logging

Johnny Madrigal searches for trees that will be cut down to allow the growth of larger trees on an area under reforestation on the slopes of the Barva Volcano , Costa Rica, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the capital of San Jose, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. Costa Rican authorities announced a new program that will use GPS satellite technology to help fight illegal logging, and aid the recuperation of the forests coverage, which has increased from from 21% in 1987 to 51% in 2005. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Ferns seen growing over the stump of a logged tree on an area under reforestation near the Barva Volcano , Costa Rica, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the capital of San Jose, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Lumber from trees cut down to allow the growth of larger trees are seen in an area under reforestation on the slopes of the Barva Volcano , Costa Rica, 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the capital of San Jose, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I oppose Daniel Ortega

Do you want to understand why I oppose Daniel Ortega so strongly?

If the article I wrote didn't make it clear enough for you, or if you just want to read more about this pathetic excuse for a politician, then you have to read the piece called "A tyrant returns to Managua."

It is a great article that will put it all together for you. It explains in detail how Ortega won this election, the atrocities he commited in his previous governement and what the future looks like with him in power once again. Here is an excerpt of the article for all of you.

A Tyrant Returns to Managua
By Investors Bussiness Daily

Daniel Ortega's near-certain return to power in Sunday's election is a new Marxist disaster for Nicaragua. For the rest of us, Ortega should be kept at arm's length as global forces send him their message.

It's a shame, because Nicaragua had a lot going for it. The Central American state is very poor, but it did have a free trade pact with the U.S. in the works, much of its national debt has been forgiven and its leaders were dreaming of a new cross-country canal to rival Panama's. It had even begun attracting foreign investment from Asia with factories ready to go up, as well as U.S. retirees seeking inexpensive paradise homes.

All of these advantages, along with $220 million in U.S. aid, stand to go down the tubes with the new Ortega presidency.

To read the whole article click here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Daniel Ortega: Nicaraguans' puzzling choice

Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega is sworn in as president of Nicaragua in this 1985 file photo in Managua, Nicaragua. (AP Photo/La Prensa, file)By Uri Ridelman

I am really disgusted and puzzled by the electoral results of the Nicaraguan presidential election. I can't believe that the Nicaraguan people have decided to give Daniel Ortega a second chance.

It is as if they have already forgotten all the suffering that this clown put them through in the 1980's.

I was a kid in Costa Rica during Ortega's first stay in power and still remember the numerous T.V newscasts showing the disgraceful conditions that Nicaraguans were living in under the government of Ortega.

What I ask myself is: If I haven't forgotten that, how is it possible that it seems that most Nicaraguans have?

Don't they remember the war? The land confiscations? The suffering that this power-thirsty leftist put them through to defend his ridiculous revolutionary ideals?

Don't they teach history in the Nicaraguan schools? Have Nicaraguans in 16 years forgotten what it was like living under the rule of the Sandinistas?

I know that corruption has been constant in Nicaraguan politics and the presidents that have ruled the country since Ortega left, but why think that Ortega is going to be any different?

Given his past record why believe in anything he has to say? I would think that if we consider his past he has the potential to be even more corrupt than his predecessors.

Ortega used a populist approach to win this election. He promised to work for the lower classes and battle poverty through "peace, love and unity."

He claims to be a changed man, and has repeatedly said he is not the Marxist revolutionary who fought U.S.-backed Contra rebels, a war that left 30,000 dead and the economy in shambles.

He has toned down his leftist rhetoric and pledged to continue free-trade policies but I don't buy any of it.

Apparently neither does the American governement because he is "a tiger who has not changed his stripes" according to the US ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli.

Travelli in fact recently claimed that an Ortega victory would lead to "the introduction of a Hugo Chavez model" in Nicaragua and will affect bilateral ties.

I agree with him and in fact I believe that Ortega will try to find a way to remain in power once the end of his presidential term approaches. I think he will try to tweak the constitution or come up with some sort of political alliance to remain in power past 2012 just as Chavez is trying to do in Venezuela.

Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, who also happened to be in power during Ortega's previous term, doensn't agree with me. He said that the election was transparent, that democracy has been consolidating across the region and that Nicaragua is no exception.

Arias, who had a tense relationship with Ortega, also thinks the Nicaraguan leader is a different politician than the one that ruled in the 1980's.

I really hope that Arias is right and Trivelli is wrong. That Ortega is indeed a changed man, that he has left behind his Marxist ideals and won't try to become a dictator once his next term concludes because if there's something that the people of Nicaragua at least deserve after decades of bloodshed is to live in peace and freedom.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Danie Ortega wins presidential elections

by Patrick Moser

MANAGUA (AFP) - Former revolutionary leader Daniel Ortega headed to a comeback victory, as partial results of Nicaragua's election dashed the United States' hopes to see his latest presidential bid flounder.

The once iconic Cold War foe of Washington, now 60, has been endorsed by virulently anti-US Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and fiercely opposed by US officials.

Results based on 40 percent of polling stations showed Ortega getting 40 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, easily defeating conservatives Eduardo Montealegre and Jose Rizo, who got 32.72 percent and 20.33 percent respectively.

Photo: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, left, shakes hands with Nicaragua presidential candidate Daniel Ortega prior to a private meeting in the city of Managua, Nicaragua on Monday Nov. 6, 2006. Electoral officials have yet to release final results from Sunday's vote, but preliminary results and two of the country's top electoral watchdog groups all give Ortega about 40 percent of the vote which could mean he will be rising once again to Nicaragua's presidency.(AP Photo/Cristobal Herrera)

More on Daniel Ortega:
The Dangers of Daniel Ortega
CNN Cold War: Profile of Daniel Ortega

CNN Cold War: Interview with Daniel Ortega
Profile of Daniel Ortega by The Christian Science Monitor
Ortega, Again? By Mark Klugmann National Review Online

Oscar Arias attends socialist congress in Chile

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet, left, talks with Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, during the inauguration of the International Socialist Congress in Santiago, Chile, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin)

Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, left, talks with former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos before the inauguration of the International Socialist Congress in Santiago, Chile, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Santiago Llanquin)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Oscar Arias arrives in Uruguay

Uruguay's President Tabare Vazquez, left, welcomes Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias for a bilateral meeting at Presidential Residence, before the XVI Iberoamerican Summit to be held in Montevideo, Uruguay on Friday Nov. 3, 2006. The Latin summit is due to include a declaration from the heads of state, a cultural letter and a series of thematic reports although the main focus will be on the problems of migration in the region. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

President of Mexico Vicente Fox, left, and President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica, attend a meeting at the Mercosur building, in Montevideo, Uruguay on Friday Nov. 3, 2006. Both presidents are in Uruguay to attend the XVI Iberoamerican Summit. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Investigative panel recommends taking Tinoco case to court

Photo by Alejandro Arley/ Al Dia NewspaperPanel also asks Tinoco to surrender immunity to face charges

Esteban Arrieta Arias
Translated by Uri Ridelman

(Al Dia) - The three-person committee picked by the legislative leadership to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment against Federico Tinoco finished its investigations recommending the accuser to take the case to the judicial courts and the lawmaker to drop his immunity to face the charges.

The panel members concluded that even though they didn't find any conclusive evidence against Tinoco there is a shroud of doubt about surrounding the acting of the lawmaker.

After two months of testimonies, evidence analisys and interviews the panel was not able to find anything that could prove that any acts of sexual harassment took place as the accuser had told.

The accusation took place after Tinoco and his assistant, a 37-year-old married lawyer, went together on an official trip to the province of Limon.

Witnesses and co-workers of the alleged victim testified that before that trip she never approached them to denounce any wrondoings by the lawmaker. Even then, the witnesses said, the complaints against Tinoco were over the amount of work that she had to do, and not about sexual harrassment.

Some of the witnesses even said that until that trip the relationship between the two had been one of friendship, trust and mutual empathy.

However, the panel also heard the case of another woman, who testified that her daughter had also been harassed by Tinoco and this, the panel said, creates a serious "shroud of doubt" over his behaviour.

After hearing the conclussions of the investigative panel Tinoco said that he was at peace and thanked all those who supported him and prayed for him.

About the suggestion of surrendering his immunity Tinoco said that he would think about it with his family and lawyer .

Pablo Zuniga, lawyer of the alleged victim said that the indictment against Tinoco will be presented over the next few days.

"We are satisfied with the recommendation of the panel because they encourage us to continue with this legal process," Zuniga said.

Day of the Dead in Costa Rica

On November 2 Costa Ricans celebrate the Day of the Dead, however they way they do it differs from the way Mexicans celebrate it. In Tiquicia the Day of the Dead is when family members visit cemeteries to make flower offerings to their deceased loved ones, which is very similar to what Brazilians do. Here are a few images taken from the Associated Press newswires.

A Costa Rican family visits the tomb of a loved one on the Day of the Dead in Santa Barbara, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006.

A Costa Rican woman plants flowers at the tomb of a loved one on the Day of the Dead in Santa Barbara, Costa Rica, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006.

A Costa Rican girl plays on the tomb of a loved one on the Day of the Dead in Santa Barbara, Costa Rica, Thursday, November 2, 2006.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Parade of music stars in November and December

According to reporter Gabriela Solano, of Al Dia newspaper, during the months of November and December several international music stars will perform in Costa Rica.

The concerts include performances by Spaniards singers Joaquin Sabina (November 8), Jose Luis Perales (November 10) and Miguel Rios (December 1 ); Latin pop singer Ricardo Montaner (December 10) and the American hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas (November 21).

The concerts of Sabina (which already sold out) and Perales will take place at the Palacio de los Deportes (Sports Palace) in downtown Heredia, while Montaner will sing at the Pedregal Stadium in Belen, Heredia.

The Black Eyed Peas will perform at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Tibas, San Jose, and the venue for the Miguel Rios concert has yet to be announced.

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