Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jane Goodall visits Costa Rica

Jane Goodall, left, gives Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias a present during a visit to Arias' home in San Jose, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007. Goodall is in Costa Rica to promote her Roots and Shoots conservation program. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Record-breaking rains pound Costa Rica

(Photo: Alejandro Sandino/La Nacion)By Amanda Roberson
Tico Times Staff

Intense rain that destroyed roofs, walls and a dike in the Central Valley and Southern Zone Monday also broke national records, according to National Meteorological Institute (IMN) meteorologist Max Mena.

In the northern suburb of Tibas, about 80 millimeters of rain fell in one hour, at least 10 centimeters more than the national record, he said. The rest of the San Jose area as well as the Southern Zone also experienced rain so intense it turned some roads into muddy rivers, damaging homes and infrastructure.

In the Southern Zone canton of Corredores, a dike broke, flooding neighborhoods in nearby Ciudad Neilly, according to a statement from the National Emergency Commission (CNE), which yesterday declared a green, preventive alert for the Pacific slope, Northern Zone and Central Valley. Three bridges were also washed away near Ciudad Neilly.

About 27 families had to evacuate their homes in the Corazon de Jesus neighborhood of the northwestern San Jose district of La Uruca, the statement said.

In Tibas, a vehicle was nearly swallowed by a hole in the road as it attempted to make it through thigh-deep water, and residents of one condo in the western suburb of Escazu saw a chunk of their ceiling cave in from the pressure of accumulated water.

“The intensity was extremely high, and we also saw a lot of electric activity” in the form of thunder and lightning, Mena said, adding that there's lots more rain and possibly tropical storms to come in September and October, typically the wettest months of the rainy season.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Costa Rican football lends a hand to Peru

Costa Rica's national soccer team displays a banner expressing solidarity with the victims of an earthquake in Peru during their friendly soccer match against Peru at Ricardo Saprissa stadium in San Jose August 22, 2007. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate (COSTA RICA)

Although the game ended 1-1 the importance of this game was to provide something for the Peruvian people to keep their minds off the recent tragedy that struck their country. Also thanks to the organization of the Costa Rican Football Federation, the Costa Rican Red Cross and the Peruvian embassy in Costa Rica donations for the survivors of the Peru earthquake were received at the stadium.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Costa Rica, Lebanon re-establish diplomatic ties

Bruno StagnoSAN JOSE (Xinhua) - Costa Rica and Lebanon re-established diplomatic ties on Friday after a 23-year freeze, said Costa Rica's Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The formal relations were re-established during a ceremony held in New York by Costa Rica and Lebanon's permanent representatives to the United Nations, Jorge Urbina Ortega and Nawaf Salam, said in a press communique.

Urbina said the decision expresses both sides' willingness to promote mutual cooperation and understanding as well as their wish to develop friendship and cooperative ties based on the constitutional principles of the UN and according to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

The normalization of relations with Lebanon "will increase political and diplomatic rapprochement with the Arab and Islamic world in general and will open trade opportunities with those markets," Costa Rica's Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno said.

Besides Lebanon, Costa Rica's government has re-established diplomatic ties with Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen as part of the gradual normalization of its relations with Arab countries, Stagno said.

Lebanon and Costa Rica's diplomatic relations were interrupted after the 1984 Islamic League Conference called on Arab States to reconsider its ties with the Central American country since it maintained its embassy in Israel in Jerusalem city.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced on Aug. 16, 2006 the transfer of this diplomatic embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.

"It is time, then, to rectify a historic error at international level, which deprives us of almost any kind of friendship with the Arab world and the Islamic civilization," said Arias.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

China's first commercial delegation visits Costa Rica

China's Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in San Jose, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007. He Yafei is leading the first commercial delegation to Costa Rica since China and Costa Rica established diplomatic relations on June 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Arias and Ortega finally meet

Left to right, former Honduras' President Jose Callejas, former Guatemala's President Vinicio Cerezo, standing up, Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, Nicaragua's Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo and Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega, take part in a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Esquipulas II peace agreement in Managua, Monday, Aug. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

Ortega and Arias met in private for about 45 minutes, the first time the two men have met since returning to office for a second term. Arias was re-elected in 2006, while Ortega returned to power this year. The two leaders have never had a warm relationship. Recently the Nicaraguan dignitary accused his Costa Rican counterpart of conspiring against the Sandinista Revolution during the peace negotiations and that Arias was unworthy of the Nobel Peace Prize that he was awarded in 1987.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Costa Rica has lost half its monkeys

A spider monkey rests at the Zoological Garden in San Jose, August 20, 2007. Costa Rica has lost up to half of its monkeys over the last 12 years as developers expanding into their jungle habitat isolate them in small communities. The spider monkey has been the most affected, its population falling to 7,000 from 26,000 a dozen years ago, said University of Costa Rica ecologist Ronald Sanchez. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate (COSTA RICA)

Monday, August 20, 2007

90% of Puntarenas could be under water in 2100

(La Nacion) - According to a report by the National Meteorological Institute (IMN) and the International Ocean Institute (IOI), located at the Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, between 60% and 90% of the town of Puntarenas could be under water by the year 2100, due to global warming.

The report indicates that the level of the oceans is expected to rise during this century and could reach a level of up to one meter higher than the current level.

If the prediction of a rise occurs the report says that up to 90% of Puntarenas, mostly residential area, could disappear under water.

In the most of optimistic predictions, the rise would only be 30 centimeters, that would affect 105 hectares leaving 60% of Puntarenas under water.

The global consensus, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is that the rise in sea level will be at least 28 centimeters over the next 90 years.

If global warming accelerates, the rise in seal level will be more rapidly. The predictions are based on satellite images.

According to oceanographer, Alejandro Gutierrez, director of the IOI in Costa Rica, the areas for most concern are those low lying coastal areas in respect with the sea level.

Today Puntarenas and the surrounding areas of Pitahaya, Chomes, Chacarita and Tarcoles is home to 60.000 people and has a land and infrastructure value calculated at us$580 million dollars, an amount calculated in the year 2000, and representing 3% of the gross national product for last year.

Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation.

An increase in global temperatures is expected to cause sea level rise, increased intensity of extreme weather events, and changes in the amount and pattern of precipitation. Other effects include changes in agricultural yields, glacier retreat, species extinctions and increases in the ranges of disease vectors.

The International Ocean Institute was founded in 1972 by Professor Elisabeth Mann Borgese as a knowledge-based non-governmental, non-profit international organization devoted to the sustainable development of the oceans.

It operates through the activities of its Headquarters residing in Malta and Operational Centres located in 25 countries around the world.

Article published by La Nacion on August 13, 2007. If you know Spanish and want to read the original article click here. Translation by Inside Costa Rica.
As for the photo translation: the red line shows the area of Puntarenas that would be submerged if the ocean level indeed rises one meter higher than its current level, while the green line indicates the area that would be affected if the ocen level rises "only" 30 centimeters.

Friday, August 17, 2007

China's first ambassador to Costa Rica presents credentials

(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)(Xinhua News Agency) - Diplomat Wang Xiaoyuan formally presented his credential letter to Costa Rican President Oscar Arias on Thursday, becoming China's first ambassador to the Central American country in six decades.

On June 6, Arias established diplomatic relations with China, five days after his country broke ties with Taiwan.

Wang told a press conference that the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Costa Rica would benefit both countries.

"We are examining points of interest relating to possible joint ventures in economy, trade and even tourism," he added.

Speaking at the same conference, Arias said he was pleased to have made official his country's relationship with China. "The most important part of this relationship is not trade, but the investment that China is making here," he said.

"China is a nation with immense prosperity and greatly accelerated growth. We hope we will begin to speak about a free trade agreement with China," he added.

In 2006, Costa Rica's export volume to China reached nearly 1.1 billion U.S. dollars and it imported 618 million, riding the wave of a 10-year growth of bilateral trade.

Wang, China's business attache until Thursday, began working as a diplomat in 1975 and has worked in Mexico, Cuba, Spain and Brazil. He has been Chinese ambassador in Equatorial Guinea and Uruguay.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Arias meets Saudi Arabian prince

Saudi Arabia's Prince Al Waleed bin Talal (L) walks next to Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias at the Presidential House in San Jose August 13, 2007. Prince Al Waleed, one of the richest men in the world and largest stakeholder of the Four Seasons hotel chain is visting Costa Rica to explore a hotel investment in the country. After meeting Arias the prince announced during a press conference that he plans to build four to eight more hotels in Costa Rica, two of which could be located in the area of Papagayo, Guanacaste. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate (COSTA RICA)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saudia Arabian prince vacationing in Costa Rica

(Tico Times) - The Prince of Saudi Arabia and one of the richest men in the world Alwaleed bin Talal is in Costa Rica vacationing at the Four Seasons Resort in the northwestern Guanacaste province, according to the daily La Nacion.

The 52-year-old prince, who is a shareholder in the hotel, arrived Saturday night at Daniel Oduber International Airport, in the Guanacaste city of Liberia. His massive Boeing 747 plane came from Panama, his previous stop on a trip that also included the Dominican Republic and will continue in Guatemala when he leaves Costa Rica Tuesday.

Today he is scheduled to meet with President Oscar Arias, La Nacion reported.

This billionaire received extra special treatment upon arriving at Daniel Oduber. He was saved the trouble of waiting in line at Immigration by having documents delivered to him to fill out inside the plane. Then he and his 48-person entourage traveled from Liberia to the posh resort in an 18-vehicle fleet.

While the prince and his party are staying at the Four Seasons, the hotel has restricted the presence of other guests for security reasons, the daily reported.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Costa Rica and Panama sign free trade agreement

Panama's President Martin Torrijos, left, and Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias, right, sign a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in San Jose, Tuesday, August 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Picture of the day

In this photo released by the Costa Rica Presidency, Costa Rica's Minister of the Presidency Rodrigo Arias, left, America Online founder Steve Case, center, and Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias attend a press conference in San Jose, Friday, Aug. 3, 2007. Case announced plans to open a $800 million beach resort backed by husband-and-wife tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf. (AP Photo/Costa Rica Presidency/Rafael Diaz)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Praising La Negrita

Thousands of Costa Ricans made the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, to pray to the 'Virgin of Los Angeles' a.k.a "La Negrita," who first appeared to a local girl in 1635. (All photos by AP/Kent Gilbert)

Catholic faithful pay their respects to the "Virgin of Los Angeles" in Cartago, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007.

Eliezer Vargas pays his respects to Costa Rica's patron saint, known as "La Negrita" at the Basilica of Los Angeles, Wednesday August 1, 2007.

Catholic faithful hold up dresses they made for the "Virgin of Los Angeles" to be blessed at the Basilica of Los Angeles, Wednesday August 1, 2007.

Eliezer Vargas walks on his knees to pay his respects to "La Negrita" at the Basilica of Los Angeles, Wednesday August 1, 2007.

Catholic faithful pay their respects to the "Virgin of Los Angeles" in Cartago, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007.

Costa Rica's patron saint 'La Negrita' is seen at the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago, Costa Rica, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2007.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rio Azul landfill finally closes

Angela Cano, a 52-year-old Nicaraguan, carries a bag of recyclables collected from the trash at the Rio Azul landfill in San Jose, Costa Rica, July 23, 2007. Around 80 scavengers who made a living wading through the garbage at the country's largest landfill, were left out of work when the landfill was officially closed yesterday by the government.


It's about time my country closed the Rio Azul landfill! I congratulate Oscar Arias and Health Minister Maria Luisa Avila for managing to do what many other administrations failed to do: close Rio Azul once and for all.
Although the federation that used to be in charge of the landfill is appealing the decision, and trying to get Rio Azul re-opened for another 18 months, the outcome will very likely be to keep the landfill closed.

Even if the place temporarily reopens most of the municipalities that used to send their waste trucks to Rio Azul already announced that they would not do it again because they already signed contracts to have their tons of garbage taken to other places.
Rio Azul's closure was long overdue because the landfill had been functioning beyond its maximum capabilities for over a decade, making it a health hazard not only to the people working there, but those who live close by. A lack of new landfills, legal bureaucracy and political interests had managed to keep the landfill open for all these years.

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