Friday, May 30, 2008

Costa Rica on red alert for tropical storm "Alma"

Residents wade through the flooded main street during floods caused by Tropical Storm Alma in Parrita, Costa Rica, 250 kilometers south-west of the capital of San Jose, Thursday, May 29, 2008. Tropical storm Alma caused heavy rains and flooding in Costa Rica before moving up the Pacific coast of Central America. (AP Photo/Kent GilbertCosta Rica's central Pacific coast was put on red alert Thursday amid heavy rains and flooding caused by tropical storm "Alma," local media reported.

Alma, the first tropical storm to batter the country this year,has caused major rivers such as Parrita, 90 km southeast of San Jose, to burst their banks.

Some 120 houses have been inundated and several important bridges are in danger of collapsing, according to reports by Local TV and the National Commission for Emergencies.

The storm, which is now 120 km from Punta Santa Elena, northeastern Costa Rica, is moving toward Nicaragua and Honduras, the Meteorological Institute of Costa Rica (IMN) said.

The tropical storm could become a hurricane in 24 hours, according to IMN.

Alma is also affecting the coastal province of Guanacaste and some villages such as Hojancha, Santa Cruz and Nosara, where flooding, strong winds and high waves have been reported.

Source: Xinhua News

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tropical storm Alma forms north of Costa Rica

Tropical Storm Alma lashed the coast of Central America with heavy rains on Thursday after becoming the first such storm of the eastern Pacific season.

Authorities issued a tropical storm warning from Costa Rica to El Salvador.

Costa Rican authorities evacuated low-lying areas and set up more than 160 storm shelters after Alma dumped rain over the country for 24 hours. A few highways were blocked by landslides.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (75 kph) and was expected to strengthen before hitting Nicaragua's northwest corner later Thursday. The storm was moving north at 6 mph (9 kph).

The center predicted it would plow through the southern border region of El Salvador and Honduras early Friday.

The greatest threat from this system will be life-threatening floods and mud slides. Nearly 15 inches of rain is forecast over portions of Central America with isolated higher totals of 20 inches or more.

The eastern Pacific hurricane season began May 15.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Meeting for the frogs

An endangered Green Poison Dart frog, Dendrobates auratus, rests on a leaf at the INBIO Park in Heredia, Costa Rica, Wednesday, May 28, 2008. Scientists believe the decline in tropical frogs is related to global warming. The presidents of Mexico, Central American and the Caribbean are meeting in Honduras in a regional summit on climate change.(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

To watch a video by the Chrisitian Science Monitor newspaper about this problem click here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Miss Costa Rica 2008

Maria Teresa Rodriguez will represent Costa Rica at the the 57th Miss Universe beauty pageant in Nha Trang, Vietnam on July 18, 2008. This Tica, a former Miss Teen International, is 21 years old and was elected on April 11, 2008. Rodriguez, whose height is 1.71 meters (5"6 feet), will travel to Vietnam on June 17 with some members of her family.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Record birthrate of leatherback turtles in Costa Rica:

San Jose, Costa Rica (AFP) — Nearly 900 endangered leatherback turtles were born at the Junquillal beach on Costa Rica's Pacific coastline in recent months thanks to community workers that scare off poachers and protect the eggs, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature said Thursday.

The leatherbacks are giant migratory turtles that swim great distances to nesting spots in the tropics. Their main nesting area in Central America is Playa Grande, also in Costa Rica, which is a protected zone.

Junquillal is an important leatherback nesting area but it is not formally protected.

However during this nesting season Junquillal "has probably become the second most important beach for leatherback turtles to nest in Central America, due to not only the number of nests but also the success in the number of birth of young turtles," said Gabriel Francia, who coordinates the WWF's Pacific leatherback turtle conservation project.

Taking much of the credit are six young area residents that patrol the nearly six-kilometer (four mile) long stretch of beach each night looking for leatherbacks that have come ashore to lay eggs.

Team members will take note of the time the turtles crawl out of the ocean as well as the weather conditions and the tide. The team members then take the eggs from the beach nest after the mother turtle has returned to the ocean and move them to a secured hatchery.

The leatherback turtle (dermochelys coriacea) measures nearly two meters (6.5 feet) long and can weigh up to 650 kilos (1,430 pounds), making it the largest turtle species in the world.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Doctors tell Oscar Arias to rest voice

San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) — Doctors have ordered Costa Rican President Oscar Arias not to talk for a month due to a cyst on his vocal cords, his office said Wednesday.

Arias, a 67-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, had been losing his voice for several weeks and traveled Tuesday to be examined at the Philadelphia Ears, Nose and Throat Associates medical center, his office said in a statement.

The doctors found he had a nonmalignant cyst on his vocal cords and advised him against talking for a month. If he does not improve after that, doctors will evaluate the need for surgery, his office said.

Arias was expected to return to Costa Rica on Saturday. The president has suffered from several medical problems since taking office in 2006.

In April, muscular pain in his lumbar region forced him to cancel several activities. He suffered from tendinitis in August 2007.

Arias won the Nobel Peace Price in 1987 for helping broker an end to Central America's civil wars.

Monday, May 19, 2008

OK! Magazine: Britney's back in the U.S

After spending five relaxing days in the sun and surf of Costa Rica, Britney Spears has returned to her L.A. home.

An eyewitness tells OK! that the singer,26, who was vacationing in Costa Rica with Oscar winner Mel Gibson, her father Jamie Spears and her agent, Jason Trawick, arrived at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport shortly after 7:30 p.m. PT.

It was just last week that the world got to see a happier Britney frolicking in the waves and riding ATVs along the beach as she continues to recover from her whirlwind year.

Costa Rica's north hit hard by drought

Policemen Hugo Sequeiro and Juan Francisco Canales stand close to the corpse of a dead cow in Los Chiles, Alajuela. (Photo: Carlos Hernandez / La Nacion)San Jose, Costa Rica - The death of 200 heads of cattle in Los Chiles, Alajuela, in the northern part of the country, is added to other losses in Costa Rica due to drought, the Ministry of Agriculture and Stockbreeding (MAG) confirmed Monday.

According to MAG Vice Minister Carlos Villalobos, the number might increase because counting began on Saturday. The unofficial number of the four northern places (San Carlos, Upala, Los Chiles and Guatuso) amounts to 250 dead animals.

Villalobos indicated that due to water shortage cows, calves and bulls have died. The population of the region is also suffering the impact of the drought although measures are being taken.

At the beginning of this month, MAG authorities reported that Costa Rica has lost 17 percent of its beans harvest due to the prolonged drought.

Villalobos affirmed that the problem is very serious and alerted that it will continue to grow if it does not rain.

Video of Britney Spears in Barrigona Beach, Guanacaste

Here's a new video of Britney Spears on Barrigona Beach, Guanacaste by La Nacion newspaper. The video shows Britney Spears enjoying herself on the beach as she spends some time with friends and family. Spears is in Costa Rica with actor and friend Mel Gibson, her father Jamie and Gibson's wife Robyn Moore.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Demolition of National Stadium to take about 50 days

(La Nacion) - Heavy machinery destroys what once was the popular seats section of the National Stadium in La Sabana Park. The venue not only hosted great moments in soccer, including an appearance by the legendary Pele, but was graced by the likes of the late Pope John Paul II and the late Luciano Pavarotti. The demolition of the Stadium should take about 50 days and the construction of the new stadium, a gift from China, is set to begin on November 1.

Britney's wore her "Love Kills Slowly" bikini at the beach on Saturday

Britney Spears frolicks on the beach once again with her William Morris agent Jason Trawick and assistant Brett in Costa Rica on Saturday. The 26-year-old pop princess rocked out an Ed Hardy “Love Kills Slowly” bikini and took another ride on an ATV.
Brit Brit has been vacationing with her father, friends and Mel Gibson.

If you want to look at 11 more photos of Britney Spears on the beach click here.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Britney: not coasting in Costa Rica

by Jefferson Reid

Relaxation is all relative, but Britney Spears' chaperone Dad is nowhere to be found! Instead, Brit seems to be cozying up to her agent Jason Trawick as the two enjoy an ATV interlude during a Costa Rican getaway at Mel Gibson's place in the Pacific coastal city of Samara.

Photo by David Rohmer/

Britney Spears makes a splash In Costa Rica

San Jose, Costa Rica - Britney Spears has hit the beaches of Costa Rica again while vacationing with Mel Gibson, her father (Jamie Spears) and Mel’s wife (Robyn Moore). The pop star enjoyed the lush beaches in a two-piece. As reported earlier this week on Access Hollywood, Britney and Mel Gibson flew to Costa Rica on Thursday.

Costa Rica congress approves telecoms opening

Costa Rican congressmen stand up to show up their support to open the country's telecommunications sector to private investment. (Photo: Marvin Caravaca / La Nacion)San Jose, Costa Rica, (Reuters) - Costa Rica's Congress has approved the opening of the Central American country's telecommunications sector to private investment in cellular phones and Internet services.

"The telecommunications bill passed by a vote of 35 to 14" Wednesday, congressional spokeswoman Ana Isabel Duran said on Thursday.

The vote ended a long battle over the measure, which allows private companies to buy concessions from the state-owned telephone company to operate cell phone and Internet lines and was part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Fixed telephone lines will remain in the hands of the state-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE).

Costa Ricans approved CAFTA in a referendum last Oct. 7, lagging behind other countries in the region. Implementation of terms of the deal was left to the Congress.

Mexico's America Movil owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, and Spain's Telefonica are the major players in the Latin American cellular phone market.

Slim, one of the world's richest men, said he was interested in looking at the newly opened market.

"We'll have to see what the auction conditions are like," Slim told Reuters.

"I imagine they are going to be open to all ... and we don't know how many licenses they are going to give. But in general we are interested in all Latin America."

Under the law, which will take effect once it is signed by Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias and published in the official gazette, concessions will be issued by a national telecommunications regulator created by the legislation.

(Reporting by John McPhaul; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Photos of Britney Spears in Costa Rica beach

Here are several photos of Britney Spears in Barrigona Beach, Guanacaste. The photos were taken by Splash News Online and posted also on the Web site Spears is in Costa Rica with actor and friend Mel Gibson, her father Jamie and Gibson's wife Robyn Moore. According to a report in People, Gibson and Spears are in Costa Rica for a few days to relax.

For more photos of Britney Spears in Costa Rica's Barrigona Beach visit this gallery by x17online.

Britney & Mel’s Costa Rican getaway

San Jose, Costa Rica (Access Hollywood) - Britney Spears and Mel Gibson flew to Costa Rica on Thursday and now, more details have surfaced about the celebrity pair’s getaway.

Britney, Mel, Brit’s father (Jamie Spears) and Mel’s wife (Robyn Moore) landed at San Jose’s main airport on Thursday, and when they got off the plane, the pop star hid herself under an umbrella to hide from photographers, according to the Costa Rican newspaper Al Dia.

From there, the trio boarded a private jet to one of Gibson’s reported several homes in the country, in the northwest beach region of Guanacaste.

A source in Costa Rica told Access Hollywood that all of the immigration details were handled aboard the second plane, so that the celebrities could avoid going into the terminal.

Costa Rica’s Al Dia newspaper originally reported that they were heading to the Nosara airport on the Nicoya peninsula, directly west of San Jose. Mel owns a 163-hectare cattle ranch in Samara, near Nosara, which he reportedly purchased in 2007 for $25.8 million. The property is located in an area of outstanding natural forest and beautiful beaches.

Meanwhile, La Nacion (Costa Rica’s largest newspaper), reported that their entire party is actually in Esterones, Guanacaste.

Mel’s home in Guanacaste could be Gibson’s third home in the country; he also reportedly has a residence in Escazu, a wealthy suburb of San Jose.

According to a report in People, Mel and Britney are, “just going away for a few days to relax.”

Britney Spears and Mel Gibson land in Costa Rica

(Photo by Jorge Castillo/La Nacion)By Gina Serpe

Los Angeles (E! Online) - A source in Costa Rica tells E! that Britney Spears arrived Thursday with Mel Gibson at 3:18 p.m. local time.

Upon arrival, Britney looked calm, albeit tired, from the trip. Along with Gibson, his wife, Robin, and Britney's father, Jamie Spears, some unidentified youngsters also got off the plane.

An immigration executive boarded their jet to complete the necessary paperwork and, about an hour later, the group took off on a smaller private plane for the province of Guanacaste, in the northwest part of Costa Rica bordering Nicaragua.

Local press are reporting the pop star will be vacationing on Gibson's coastal property along Playa Barrigona.

Photo by Jorge Castillo of La Nacion

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Video of Mel Gibson and Britney Spears' plane landing in Costa Rica

Here's a video of Mel Gibson and Britney Spears' plane landing in Costa Rica as they arrive from California. They then took another plane to Guanacaste where they will spend a few days at Mel Gibson's $25-million ranch. The video was shot by La Nacion's journalist Juan Pablo Carranza. Sorry for the inconvenience, but this video is available only in Spanish.

Britney Spears and Mel Gibson headed to Costa Rica

(E! News) - Britney Spears has found herself a rather unorthodox traveling companion. So to speak.

E! News has confirmed the singer joined Mel Gibson aboard a private jet this morning, bound for Costa Rica.

The unlikely, but not unprecedented, duo was joined on their trip by Spears' father, Jamie, and Gibson's wife, Robyn.

Though the exact nature of the trip is not yet known, it appears to be nothing more than a friendly weekend getaway, with a source telling E! News the group departed from Los Angeles with the intention of hanging out at Gibson's Costa Rica property "for a couple days."

The source also told E! News the showbiz pair's budding relationship has been nurtured of late by attorney Blair Berk, who repped Gibson in his infamous DUI arrest and who is currently representing Spears' parents in their various legal entanglements.

More recently, Gibson has been described as "mentoring" the troubled pop star and that the duo has discussed "a getaway" of some sort.

The surprising pair first raised eyebrows last March, when they, along with a group of mutual friends, were spotted dining together at Studio City eatery Romanov.

At the time, sources close to both stars denied any professional collaboration, insisting instead that their meeting was "all about sobriety" and that the Gibson clan was simply looking to help the young star.

Judging by her progress made in the past few months, it's a job well done.

Reporting by Claudia Rosenbaum and Ken Baker

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Costa Rica plants more trees to become carbon neutral

San Jose (AFP) - Costa Rica will plant seven million trees in 2008 to soak up as many greenhouse gas emissions as it produces, in a bid to become the world's first carbon neutral nation, a top official said Monday.

"The stated goal is to be the first neutral country as far as greenhouse gas emissions is concerned," said Energy and Environment Minister Roberto Dobles.

"To get there, this administration is betting on halting deforestation and on the 'Plant a Tree' project," he added, referring to an ongoing government initiative to plant as many trees as possible in the country.

The project aims to "plant seven million trees this year, meaning that in our country there would be 1.5 trees for each Costa Rican.

He added that in 2007 the country managed to plant five million trees, spurred by the desire to forestall an impending environmental catastrophe.

"Climate change is the main threat facing humanity and, even so, the world still can't agree to fight this problem," Dobles said.

Every country can help in the struggle, even a small nation like his own, Dobles said.

"We all know developed countries and big developing nations like China, Brazil and India are chiefly responsible for most of the greenhouse gases that destroy the ozone layer.

"That doesn't mean a country like Costa Rica should stand by doing nothing. On the contrary, we're working on a series of initiatives on the national and global levels to lessen the impact" of climate change, the minister said.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shopping at the Central Market

A man buys vegetables at the Central Market in San Jose, Monday, May 12, 2008. Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias announced plans to finance farming, and ensure basic food supplies through increased production in the face of the worldwide food crisis following last weeks Food for Life summit in Nicaragua.(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Costa Rica's captive macaws now reproducing in the wild

By Marianela Jimenez
The Associated Press

LA Garita De Alajuela, Costa Rica — Endangered scarlet macaws born in captivity are reproducing in the wild for the first time on Costa Rica's southern Pacific Coast.

The ZooAve Center for the Rescue of Endangered Species has released 100 of the birds into the wild in the last decade. But biologists didn't spot offspring until last year, biologist Laura Fournier said.

Since then, they have recorded 22 chicks born in the wild, and four more scarlet macaw couples have laid eggs, Fournier said.

The parrots once occupied all of Costa Rica. But hunting and poaching dramatically cut their population, and they now are found only in two national parks along the coast.

The biologists' goal is for 200 birds to populate an isolated coastal area.

Chicks are hatched at the ZooAve center in La Garita northwest of the capital, San Jose. At six months, they take a 200-mile trip to the southern city of Golfito, then travel by boat to a beach and finally the isolated San Josecito conservation center far from human settlements. There they spend up to three more months in captivity before being released.

The parrots, which live up to 80 years, can start reproducing at age 7. Of ZooAve's 86 scarlet macaws, 54 are in the reproduction program.

Many parrots in the breeding program were confiscated by environmental authorities or turned in by their former owners. Some can't leave the sanctuary because they don't know how to survive in the wild.

"Many don't even know how to feed themselves," Fournier said.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Costa Rica receives $50 million from China

China's Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, left, Costa Rica's Vice President Laura Chinchilla, center, and Costa Rica's Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno pose for pictures as they arrive at the Foreign Ministry in San Jose, Tuesday, May 6, 2008. Liangyu was in Costa Rica on an official visit to continue strengthening diplomatic relations between the two countries. As part of several signed agreements China will give Costa Rica $40 million in credit, a donation of $10 million, and 200 automoviles to boost its police force. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Fugitive Robert Vesco reported dead in Cuba

1974 picture of Robert Vesco. (AP Photo)(Tico Times) - Fugitive financier Robert Vesco, who fled the United States to Costa Rica in 1972 to create an illicit international financial paradise here, may have died in Cuba last November, The New York Times reported Saturday – but nobody except for unidentified "people close to him" seems to know about it.

U.S. and Cuban officials told the New York daily on Friday they were unaware of Vesco's death. However, friends of Vesco – who wouldn't give their names to avoid trouble with the Cuban authorities – said he died of lung cancer on Nov. 23.

Vesco, who alluded U.S. justice most of his life after looting Investors Overseas Services of $224 million and making an illegal contribution to Richard Nixon's 1972 presidential campaign, among other crimes, was welcomed by Jose "Pepe" Figueres, then-president of Costa Rica, to create his imagined "financial district" here to serve as a refuge for international funds.

Figueres not only shrugged off criticism saying Costa Rica needed investments and shouldn't question their source, but even passed a law to guarantee that Vesco would not be extradited. Even though Ticos repeatedly called for Vesco's ouster he remained in Costa Rica until 1978, when President Rodrigo Carazo (1978-1982) repealed what was popularly referred to as the "Vesco Law".

In 1982 he moved to Cuba, a country that would not extradite him to the U.S., and which could provide him with treatment for his painful urinary tract infections. Cuban authorities accepted him on the condition that he would not get involved in any financial deals.

Other Robert Vesco Stories:
To read the original article by the New York Times click here.
Reuters: U.S. fugitive financier Vesco dead, relative says
New York Times: Robert Vesco, the Fugitive Financier, Goes on Trial in Cuba on Fraud Charges
To read more about Robert Vesco on Wikipedia click here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Monster Jam in Costa Rica

"Grave Digger," a Chevrolet truck, takes a nose dive during the Monster Jam show at Costa Rica's Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Tibas on Friday May 2 as part of a car-crunching three-day event, which organizers said sold out in advance. The eight total monsters also included "Batman," "Superman," "Blue Thunder" and "Toro Loco" (Mad Bull). (Photo: Jeffrey Arguedas EFE)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Maine businessman confirmed as ambassador to Costa Rica

PORTLAND (AP) - The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Bush's nomination of businessman Peter Cianchette of South Portland as ambassador to Costa Rica.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Sen. Olympia Snowe, who said Cianchette's confirmation is a proud moment for Maine. Snowe said his tenure in the Legislature and his extensive business background gives him a wealth of problem-solving experience that he brings to his new post.

Cianchette was the 2002 Republican nominee for governor and headed the Bush-Cheney campaign in Maine two years later.

As ambassador, he succeeds Texas businessman Mark Langdale, who held the post since 2005.

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