Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lost sea lion reaches Costa Rica

Dominical's police is currently guarding the sea lion until it decides to continue its trip to Ecuador's Galapagos Island(Photo by Alfonso Quesada/La Nacion)By Alfonso Quesada
La Nacion

A young sea lion, of about 30 kilograms (66 pounds), was found on Monday by some tourists at Dominicalito beach in Osa, Guanancaste.

Alvaro Corrales, a biologist, said that most likely the sea lion reached our country by mistake as it probably got lost at sea when a current took it off its path.

Probably the sea lion's destination was Ecuador's Galapagos Island, a place where they are commonly found, however apparently a current took it to Costa rica's Venado Island, a location where it was spotted four days ago.

Several fishermen who were guarding the sea lion said that so far it has been swimming near the shore and afterward it comes out of the water and lays on the rocks for several hours.

"It has already been examined by two veterinarians and apparently the animal is healthy, however it is being affected by the hot weather and fatigue," said Corrales.

Corrales added that is very likely that once the animal regains some energy it will continue its way and try to meet its herd.

Currently the sea lion is being protected by the police of Dominical since no institution or wild life organization has showed any interesting in protecting the animal while it stays in Costa Rica.

To see more photos of the sea lion go to La nacion's facebook page here.

Article translated by Uri Ridelman

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chinchilla is favourite to succeed Arias in Costa Rica

Laura Chinchilla could become the next president of Costa Rica, according to a poll by CID-Gallup. Forty five per cent of respondents would vote for the former vice-president and member of the governing National Liberation Party (PLN) in the 2010 election, up two points since August.

Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement (ML) is a distant second with 19 per cent, followed by former economy minister Otton Solis of the Citizens Action Party (PAC) with 13 per cent. Support is lower for Luis Fishman of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUCS), Rolando Araya of Patriotic Alliance (AP), and Oscar Lopez of the Accessibility Without Exclusion Party (PASE).

The next presidential election in Costa Rica is scheduled for Feb. 7, 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Death toll of A/H1N1 flu rises to 47 in Costa Rica

REUTERS/Mark Boster/Pool/FilesSan Jose, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) - The Costa Rican Health Ministry announced here on Friday that A/H1N1 flu death toll in the country had reached 47, while the number of the flu infected patients rose to about 1,500.

Costa Rican Health Minister Luisa Avila, in an interview with Xinhua, also said that the Costa Rican government has established a special commission to review the records of the dead who had the symptoms of the disease.

Avila said 69 death cases have been analyzed, nine deaths were ruled out by lab tests, 13 were associated with other conditions, while 47 were confirmed positive for A/H1N1 flu, six more than the last report.

The minister also said as no more cases pending for review, the death toll of A/H1N1 flu will stand at 47 by the end of 2009.

She said the health authorities expect the second wave of the pandemic will hit the country between next January and February, but with weakened impact compared with the first one.

Costa Rica has requested for a total of 1.8 million vaccines, 200,000 of which will arrive during the first week of January and 400,000 in the following week.

Avila said pregnant women and people with diabetes, hypertension and asthma will be given priority in vaccination, adding that the vaccines will be available only at the public health centers.

Costa Rica is capable of tackling the A/H1N1 flu like a developed country. "We have good hospitals, specialists and our citizens are educated," she said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sensient Technologies Corp. opens new Costa Rica facility

Milwaukee, Wis. (Business Wire) - Sensient Technologies Corporation has opened a new state-of-the-art facility in Alajuela, Costa Rica. The new flavors center in Costa Rica will serve as the base of Central American and Caribbean operations. This facility includes laboratories for beverage and dairy applications and savory flavors staffed by product application teams, and a quality control laboratory. The site will also develop products for local markets by blending flavors to fit local tastes.

A Sensient business office and a culinary center for flavorists have also been opened at this site. Sales personnel and flavor technologists will be on site to service customers manufacturing beverages, savory foods, dairy products and sweets and snacks.

Kenneth P. Manning, Chairman and CEO of Sensient Technologies Corporation, said, “This new location reinforces our commitment to service local markets by expanding geographically. We will continue to grow in order to broaden our capabilities in providing innovative and customized technical solutions to our customers.”

Sensient now has over 70 locations that provide specialized flavor and color applications tailored for local markets in 30 countries, selling to more than 150 nations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Canada's Governor General visits Costa Rica

Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean (C) and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond (rear, obscured) greet children as Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias (L) looks on during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential house in San Jose December 14, 2009. Jean is on a four-day official visit to Costa Rica. (Photo by: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Costa Rica latest stop for Mexican drug gangs

San Jose, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Mexican drug gangs are increasingly using Costa Rica as a pick-up point for South American cocaine headed north and the problem is likely to get worse, President Oscar Arias said on Monday.

Costa Rican police have seized close to 93 tonnes of cocaine between 2006 and 2009, nearly twice the amount the Central American country captured in the previous decade, according to Interior Ministry data.

"We are punished by our geography," Arias said, citing the growing trafficking activity as a major public security issue.

"I believe the United States has to make a much bigger effort to spend more in cutting down on (cocaine) consumption," he told a news conference.

Costa Rica sits halfway between the cocaine-producing Andes and Mexico, whose powerful cartels earn some $40 billion a year smuggling the drug to the United States and other developed countries.

Traffickers traditionally moved cocaine through Central America by plane or boat. They now are well implanted in Guatemala and also are using storage bases in Costa Rica, a nation long known as a haven of stability in a region blighted by street gangs and poverty.

"They're storing it here," said Public Security Minister Janina del Vecchio. "Now, they don't even have intermediaries but instead have Colombians here who leave the drug and the Mexican (cartels) pick it up."

Mexico is in the grip of a brutal escalation in drug gang violence that has killed more than 16,000 people since President Felipe Calderon launched an army-led drug war at the end of 2006.

The crackdown is one of the reasons driving traffickers into Central America as they haul in cocaine from Colombia and rival producers such as Peru and Bolivia.

Costa Rica's economy depends heavily on tourism dollars from visitors drawn to its virgin forests and surfing beaches.

(Editing by Catherine Bremer and Bill Trott)

Friday, December 11, 2009

State Funeral service for Carazo held yesterday

The coffin containing the body of former Costa Rica's President Rodrigo Carazo sits at the Metropolitan Cathedral during a state funeral service in San Jose, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. Carazo, who served as president of Costa Rica from 1978 to 1982, died Wednesday at the age of 82, Costa Rica's Social Security Department said. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Former Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo Odio dies at 82

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) - Former Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo Odio has died of complications from open-heart surgery.

Costa Rica's Social Security Department said in a statement that the 82-year-old former leader died Wednesday following surgery for a coronary obstruction.

The charismatic Carazo Odio governed Costa Rica from 1978 to 1982.

He was viewed as a supporter of the Sandinista revolution that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in neighboring Nicaragua in 1979. He opposed a free trade agreement with the United States approved in 2007.

But he also broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1981, ties that were not revived until last March.

Carazo Odio is survived by his wife, Estrella Zeledon Lizano, and four children.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Former Costa Rican vice president named to UN aid agency post

(NZPA) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today the appointment of former Costa Rican vice-president Rebeca Grynspan to help former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark run the United Nations aid agency.

Ms Grynspan has been named under-secretary-general and associate administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which she has served since March 2006 as regional director of the agency's office for Latin America and the Caribbean, the UN said in a statement.

She will assist Miss Clark, the UNDP administrator in overseeing the agency's programmes, as well as fulfilling other leadership responsibilities.

She succeeds Ad Melkert, of the Netherlands, who has been appointed as the secretary-general's special representative for Iraq and head of the UN mission in that country (UNAMI).

Ms Grynspan won election to vice-president of Costa Rica, serving one term from 1994 to 1998, after holding ministerial positions in the Central American nation's government for eight years

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chinchilla still first in Costa Rica

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Former vice-president Laura Chinchilla remains ahead of her rivals in Costa Rica’s presidential race, according to a poll by Unimer published in La Nacion. 43 per cent of respondents would support the ruling National Liberation Party (PLN) candidate in next year’s ballot.

Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement (ML) is second with 30 per cent, followed by former economy minister Otton Solis of the Citizens Action Party (PAC) with 16 per cent, and Luis Fishman of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUCS) with six per cent.

On Nov. 29, Chinchilla announced her intention to establish a Family Ministry if elected, adding, "We will not support any law that favours abortion, because endangering life is not the answer."

The next presidential election in Costa Rica is scheduled for Feb. 7, 2010.

Friday, December 04, 2009

MGS Peace Walker takes place in 1974's Costa Rica; coming to North America in May 2010

by Uri Ridelman

Konami Digital Entertainment announced that May 25th, 2010 is the official street date for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, on the PSP (PlayStation Portable) system in North America.

In the game the players take control of the famed Naked Snake to battles mercenaries in the Costa Rica of 1974.

Developed and directed by legendary Hideo Kojima - this latest PSP system installment picks up where Metal Gear Solid 3 for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system leaves off.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker features original game design, story and scenario by Kojima and is scheduled to launch in March 2010 in Japan. The game takes the series in an exciting new direction with its incredible visuals and its unique new game system designed specifically with the PSP in mind.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, is being developed exclusively for the PSP system


(Content from Konami's press release was used in this article)

Note: I have seen the demo trailer for this game and it looks amazing. It definitely will be a must-buy for PSP owners and Metal Gear Solid fans all around the world. Having said that, I have to say that the Costa Rica depicted in the video game is nothing like the Costa Rica of those years, and the story of the game will simply make no sense to us Ticos. At least they do mention that Costa Rica doesn't have an army because it was "abolished as a permanent institution". Nonetheless, this will be a great game, so just make sure you grab it as soon as it hits the market.

Uri R.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Childrens' Hospital tree lit up

People attend the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Children's Hospital in San Jose December 3, 2009. (Photo: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Children's Museum lights up for Christmas season

Fireworks explode during illumination of Christmas lighting for the Children's Museum in San Jose December 1, 2009. More than five thousand lights illuminate the museum during the Christmas season. (Photo: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Costa Rica, Israel presidents meet

By Marcus Moraes, JTA

The presidents of Costa Rica and Israel, both Nobel Peace Prize winners, celebrated together the anniversary of the partition of Palestine.

President Oscar Arias was hosted by President Shimon Peres at a Nov. 29 luncheon in Jerusalem to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the fateful United Nations resolution 181 on the partition of Palestine. Peres described his Central American counterpart as “a personal friend and a man of peace.”

Costa Rica was one of the 33 countries that voted "yes" in 1947, and less than a year later, in 1948, was among the first countries to recognize the nascent State of Israel.

Until 2006, Costa Rica was one of only two countries, along with El Salvador, that maintained an embassy in Jerusalem, but both eventually yielded to political pressures and joined the other countries that maintain embassies on Israel’s coastal plain.

Both Arias and Peres have authored several books and both are Nobel laureates. Arias was awarded in 1987 in recognition of his work for peace in Central America. Peres, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 in recognition of concluding and following up the Oslo Accords.

Peres also commended Costa Rica for having an educational focus rather than a military force.

“The future does not depend on soldiers but on teachers,” he added.

President Arias planted an olive tree at the Grove of Nations overlooking Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem.

“I plant this tree to share the hope of my people in Costa Rica for the Middle East. We will energize its roots, we will dream of its branches, we will dream that the children playing in its shade know harmony and reap peace. It will be a tree of hope,” Arias said.

During the ceremony, Israel’s ambassador to Costa Rica, Ehud Eitan and the Costa Rican minister of external relations, Bruno Stagno read the planter’s prayer in Hebrew and Spanish.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Arias: Palestinians don't need army

(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)By Netanel Shlomovich / Israel News

The recipe for peace between Israel and the Palestinians includes negotiations, honesty, immediate talks on the core issues, and the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state – this is the vision presented by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in a special interview with Ynet.

Arias, who is currently visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority, boasts extensive experience in mediating peace agreements; his efforts prompted his Nobel Peace Prize win in 1987.

In an interview with Ynet after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Arias said his attempt to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace stems from Costa Rica's unique history. In 1948, the year Israel was established, the Latin state approved its new constitution, which abolished the army.

"I think the whole world expects both sides to return to the negotiating table," Arias said, adding that he shared with Netanyahu his personal peace-making experience. Contacts must be held at the highest levels and the talks must be personal, he said.

"You have to look your opponent in the eye," he said, noting that late PM Rabin also stressed that peace is made with enemies.

'Peace requires hard work'

Arias added that his experience as mediator taught him that peace talks need to raise all important issues for discussion early, rather than delaying talks on the core issues to the end of the process.

"If we won't do it at the beginning of the road, it will only get harder," he said. "Peace requires hard work, patience, and perseverance."

The Costa Rican president said he accepted Netanyahu's call for a demilitarized Palestinian state. He noted that in his talks with the Palestinians he seeks to convince them to do without a military.

"A small, poor state like Palestine doesn't need an army," he said, adding that some courage is needed to take such decision and expressing his hope that the Palestinian Authority will have the courage to adopt such step.

Oscar Arias visits Yad Vashem

Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias rekindles the Eternal flame in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, in Jerusalem, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2009. Arias is on an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oscar Arias visits the Church of Nativity

Costa Rica's President Oscar Arias touches the stone inside the grotto where tradition holds Jesus was born, inside the Church of the Nativity, in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Arias is on an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. (AP Photo/Abed Al-Hashlamoun, Pool)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey, Costa Rica eye better trade, political ties

In this picture released by the Turkish Presidency Press Service, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, welcomes Costa Rica President Oscar Arias before during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2009. ( AP PhotoMustafa Oztartan, Turkish Presidency Press Office) Ankara, Turkey (Xinhua News) - Turkish and Costa Rican leaders said Wednesday the two countries intend to sign a free trade agreement to boost bilateral economic relations and also enhance political ties, Turkish media reported.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul told a joint press conference with his Costa Rican counterpart Oscar Arias that Turkey wants to sign a free trade agreement soon with Costa Rica, which has a sound economy with increasing foreign investment, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Gul said Turkey has seen great improvement in economic, political, military and cultural ties with Latin American countries “as part of its multidimensional and comprehensive foreign policy,” according to the report.

It said the two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a political consultation mechanism between their foreign ministries.

Arias said he was happy to talk about a free trade agreement with Turkey, noting that his country plans to open an embassy in the Turkish capital Ankara in 2011.

Arias, who is in Turkey this week for a visit upon an invitation by Gul, is the first Costa Rican president to pay an official visit to Turkey. He will conclude his visit on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Safran" rules Transat's Imoca class

Marc Guillemot, left, and Charles Caudrelier-Benac skippers of the Safran celebrate with champagne as they arrive off Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009. Guillemot and Caudrelier-Benac won the 2009 Transat Jacques Vabre finishing first out of the Imoca class competing in the 4730-mile sailing race from Le Havre, France to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Early look at the new National Stadium

A general view showing the construction of the Costa Rican national stadium in San Jose November 24, 2009. The stadium costing $83 million dollars is donated by the Chinese government after establishing diplomatic relations with Costa Rica in June 2007, according to an official from the Ministry of the Presidency. The stadium will have a total capacity for 35,000 spectators. (Photo: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Picture of the day

Franck-Yves Escoffier, right, and Erwan Leroux skippers of the Crepes Whaou! celebrate as they arrive off Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, Monday, Nov. 23, 2009. Escoffier and Leroux finished the 2009 Transat Jacques Vabre in first place among the Multi50 boats competing in the 4730-mile sailing race from Le Havre, France to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. (AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Costa Rica's economic activity shows hopeful signs

By Adam Williams
Tico Times Staff

The Monthly Economic Activity Index (IMAE) for September showed signs that the Costa Rican economy has begun to recover. Though the economy contracted 0.1 percent, the miniscule decrease in activity is a significant improvement from the past year's monthly average decrease of 3.6 percent.

The improved outlook was based on a better showing by the manufacturing sector, which reported a small 1.1 percent decrease in the annual rate during September. The improvement in manufacturing came thanks to increased exports by businesses located in free-trade zones.

Other increases in economic activity during the month of September included sales of electric energy and hotel revenues, which sparked by improved tourist spending.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Uruguay eliminates Costa Rica from 2010 FIFA World Cup

Uruguay's Sebastian Abreu celebrates after scoring against Costa Rica during a 2010 World Cup qualifying playoff second leg soccer match in Montevideo, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009. At left is Costa Rica's Roy Miller. The game at the Centenario stadium ended 1-1 but Uruguay advanced due to an aggregate score of 2-1. (AP Photo/Eduardo Di Baia)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Argentina eliminates Costa Rica from beach soccer world cup

Argentina's Facundo Minici, right, battles for the ball with the Costa Rica's Agustin Dallera during their Beach Soccer World Cup match in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009. Costa Rica lost the match 6-0 and was eliminated from the competition. (AP Photo/Farhad Berahman)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Uruguay closer to FIFA World Cup after 1-0 win in Costa Rica

Uruguay's Diego Lugano celebrates after scoring against Costa Rica during their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying soccer match at the Ricardo Saprissa stadium in San Jose November 14, 2009. Uruguay won the game 1-0 and now head home for the second leg of the playoff. (Photo: REUTERS/Henry Romero)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mum of missing Britton in plea for help

(UKPA) - The mother of a British man who vanished while on holiday in Costa Rica nearly four weeks ago fought back tears as she spoke of her desperate wait for news.

Michael Dixon, 33, has not been seen since he left his hotel in the popular surfing resort of Tamarindo in Guanacaste on October 18.

All his belongings were left in his room and searches by land, sea and air have so far uncovered no trace of the Salford-born journalist.

His mother, Lynn Dixon, made an emotional appeal for information about what has happened to her son. She told a press conference in central London: "So far, the air, sea, and land searches have not turned up any evidence about what has happened, and we continue to wonder how he could have simply disappeared without explanation.

Leeds University graduate Mr Dixon, who grew up in France and is based in Brussels as editor of a business magazine called Pulp and Paper International, checked into the Villas Macondo hotel at 3 p.m. on October 18.

The last confirmed sighting of him was at 4.30 p.m. the same day when staff saw him leave the hotel. It was three days before the hotel reported him missing to local police.

Mr Dixon's family did not learn he had disappeared until October 26 when he failed to return to work. Costa Rican police searched his hotel room the same day, finding it was undisturbed with his mobile phone, wallet and glasses all left behind.

Two Americans have gone missing in the Guanacaste area this year but the Costa Rican ambassador to the UK, Pilar Saborio, played down any connections. She told the press conference: "Costa Rica is the oldest democracy in Latin America. We have no political kidnappings or disappearances."

Ms Saborio said police investigating Mr Dixon's disappearance had so far found no evidence of foul play.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jail for arranged marriages in Costa Rica signed into law

(Inside Costa Rica) - President, Oscar Arias, today placed his signature on the law that bans marriages by proxy that is used by foreigners to remain legal in Costa Rica.

The law reforms article 30 of the Family Code, eliminating the possibility of foreigners marrying Costa Rican nationals solely for the purpose of obtaining their residency, many not ever meeting their spouse, known them from a name on a form and a photocopy of their identity card.

Although the law had been in the works for the last two and half years, it's signing came at a time when a group of Jamaicans have been linked to a series of crimes, including the killing of two judicial agents and an innocent woman.

Costa Rican authorities believe that the marriage by proxy loophole permitted many criminals, pedophiles and individuals contracting marriage, for amounts of a few thousand colones to thousands of dollars, to evade immigration controls.

The law punishes any individual and lawyers who participate in "arranged marriages" with a jail term of between three and six years.

Although president Arias signed the law at 1p.m. today (Wednesday), it will be about two weeks before it goes into effect, requiring publication in La Gaceta, the State's official newspaper.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Laura Chinchilla is clear frontrunner in Costa Rica

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - Former vice-president Laura Chinchilla is heavily favoured to become the next president of Costa Rica, according to a poll by Demoscopía published in Al Día. 53 per cent of respondents would vote for the candidate of the ruling National Liberation Party

(PLN) in next year’s election.

Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement (ML) is a distant second with 15.7 per cent, followed by former economy minister Otton Solis of the Citizens Action Party (PAC) with 12.3 per cent, and Luis Fishman of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUCS) with 1.5 per cent.

In June, Chinchilla won the PLN’s nomination in the party’s convention, defeating San Jose mayor Johnny Araya Monge. Chinchilla vowed to represent "continuity."

The next presidential election in Costa Rica is scheduled for Feb. 7, 2010.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Picture of the day

Twenty boats set sail Sunday from Normandy, France for Costa Rica's Caribbean port of Limon for the ninth edition of the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre race. (Photo: Marcel Mochet | AFP)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Search continues for missing Brit in Costa Rica

The family of missing British journalist, Michael Dixon, continues to search for him following his disappearance in Costa Rica. Michael was reported missing over two weeks ago in Tamarindo, Guanacaste, where he was on holiday.

Michael’s disappearance has been widely reported in the Costa Rican press and the international media – including the BBC, Sky News and La Nacion. A Facebook group set up to help find Michael now has over 1,500 members: Help Find Michael Dixon.

Group members have successfully alerted the media to Michael’s disappearance and gained valuable support from locals in Tamarindo, who are distributing flyers in the town.

Many different unconfirmed theories are being put forward about Michael’s whereabouts, but his family members are keeping an open mind, especially since concerns have been raised over the accuracy of the October 19 morning sighting. As a result, Michael’s family is anxious to find out about his movements on the evening of Sunday 18th October.


Anybody with information please contact:

- Scott Simpson - (506) 8896-4120
- Email: findmichaeldixon@gmail.com
- Hotline - (507) 836-5065

All calls will be treated confidentially.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Security officials freeze new gunpermits for foreigners after cop killing

(Photo:Al Dia/E. Vargas)(Tico Times) - Costa Rica's Public Security Ministry suspended the issuance of new gun permits to foreigners Wednesday, according to national media reports.

The move came on the heels of a shootout Tuesday between Jamaican assailants and Costa Rican police in the western San Jose suburb of Escazu, in which 30-year-old Judicial Investigation Police officer Randall Mauricio Lopez was shot dead, the daily La Nacion reported.

The deadly firefight started at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday a block and a half north of the cemetery of San Antonio de Escazu. The assailants also are suspected of involvement in the Oct. 29 murder of Milena Madriz, a 20-year-old university student, in the eastern San Jose neighborhood of Los Yoses.

The news comes amid a string of reports that point to an unprecedented rise in murders in Costa Rica. According to a report released last month by the United Nations Development Program, homicides here nearly doubled in eight years, rising from six per 100,000 people in 2000 to 11 per 100,000 in 2008.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Porfirio Lobo Cancels Costa Rica Trip

REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate Tegucigalpa, Honduras (Honduras News) - Porfirio Lobo, Honduran presidential candidate for the National Party (PN), canceled his trip to Costa Rica today, according to Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. In Tegucigalpa, the spokesman for Lobo, Vladimir Vaca, said that several meetings, as well as the formal installation of the Verification Commission for the Accord are taking place in the Capital, and Mr. Lobo believes it is necessary for him to remain in Honduras at this time.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Harlem Globetrotters in Costa Rica

Scooter Christensen of the Harlem Globetrotters provides dazzling theatrics in Sunday's show at the Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, north of San Jose. This was the Globetrotters' first visit to Costa Rica since 2001, and the fifth time they've brought their show here. The Globetrotters are on the tail end of their “Spinning the Globe 2009” tour.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Costa Rican bridge collapses; bus falls; five killed

San Jose, Costa Rica (AP) - A traditional hammock-style wood-and-cable bridge has collapsed as a bus crossed it in rural Costa Rica, dropping a bus filled with 38 people into a riverbed. Five people are reported dead.

Red Cross spokesman Freddy Roman says most of the survivors were injured in Thursday's accident.

Bridges made of wooden planks supported by steel cables are used throughout the Costa Rican countryside. The one that collapsed crossed a river about 35 miles (60 kilometers) west of San Jose, the country's capital.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Neenah Paper joins Costa Rica conservation project

Neenah Paper Inc. has entered into a partnership dedicated to the reforestation of 1,500 acres in Costa Rica, the paper company said Tuesday.

Neenah Paper, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based manufacturer of premium and specialty papers with major operations in Wisconsin's Fox Valley, said it has joined with Friends of Osa and the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin to help reforest a conservation property in Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world.

The conservation property harbors the last remaining old growth rainforest on the western flank of Central America. Sandwiched between encroaching development and deforested land, the Osa Peninsula is widely acknowledged as a global conservation priority by conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International.

"Neenah Paper has a long history of contributing to conservation projects," said Rodger Ferguson, director of environmental services at Neenah Paper. "The Osa Project was particularly appealing because it is the migratory home of 54 native Wisconsin species of birds, 18 of which are state conservation priorities and three of which are listed as threatened. Wisconsin is home to our fine papers mills and is a large part of Neenah Paper's heritage. It just makes sense to be one of the founding partners in this project."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Obama names new U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica

(Photo by Princeton University)By Chrissie Long
Tico Times Staff

United States President Barack Obama announced Thursday his intent to nominate an environmental consultant to head the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.

The embassy has been without an ambassador since June, when Peter Cianchette, a Maine businessman and former Republican gubernatorial candidate, left the post to return to his home state.

Obama's chosen replacement, Anne Slaughter Andrew, currently serves as a principal to the Washington, D.C.-based company New Energy Nexus, where she advises companies and entrepreneurs on energy-related investments.

According to a White House statement issued Thursday, Andrew has been actively engaged with conservation and environmental organizations, including The Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy and the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation, and she is experienced in creating and managing public policy initiatives in the environmental and clean-energy arena.

She is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and she received a law degree from the Indiana School of Law in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Costa Rica stuns Egypt with 2-0 victory

Diego Madrigal, of Costa Rica, celebrates at the final whistle during the FIFA 2010 U20 World Cup Round of 16 match between Egypt and Costa Rica at the Cairo International stadium on October 6, 2009 in Cairo, Egypt. Costa Rica eliminated the host team with a stunning 2-0 victory. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / Getty Images)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Briton missing in Costa Rica

(AFP) - Brussels - The brother of a British journalist missing in Costa Rica for more than two weeks said on Thursday he will stay "as long as it takes" in the Central American country to find him.

Michael Dixon, 33, was last spotted leaving the Villas Macondo hotel in the popular surfers' resort of Playa Tamarindo on the morning of October 19, having travelled there on his own.

His brother, David, left England for Costa Rica last week - and told Thursday of sleepless days searching the streets and the caves around the resort, but still to no avail.

"The most worrying thing is we haven't the slightest lead - not me, not the police and not the British embassy," Dixon said. "I didn't think it could be this frustrating.

"I don't know who he would have met - he was just travelling himself, backpacking... everybody's baffled.

"If somebody had even seen him on the beach, we could say maybe he had an accident in the sea - but there weren't even any lifeguards on duty that day.

"I've been sleeping about three hours a night since I got here, getting up at 5am, checking with people in the street, distributing flyers, hiring boats to search the coast and the caves and staying in touch with the authorities.

Dixon and an American-based cousin say they are remaining positive - despite a power outage in Tamarindo on Wednesday which left him with no Internet access.
The family is using a Facebook group to help their search.

"I'm planning to stay as long as it takes to find out Michael's whereabouts - I can't go home with no information," Dixon added.

"It's difficult to stay positive but I'm keeping my hopes up - if we can't, no one will be able to at home.

Described as 1.7 metres tall and weighing 65 kilos, Dixon was wearing shorts and a T-shirt when last seen.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to contact findmichaeldixon@gmail.com.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Costa Rica's ex-President sentenced to five years for graft

San Jose - (AFP) Ex-president Rafael Angel Calderon has dropped out of Costa Rica's presidential race after a judge sentenced him to five years in prison for corruption in the first such trial of an ex-head of state here.

Calderon, 60, leader of the opposition Social Christian Unity Party who was president from 1990-1994, maintains he is innocent, and had planned to stand for president again in the February 2010 election.

After an 11-month trial, Judge Alejandro Lopez McAdam sentenced Calderon to five years behind bars for embezzlement, but rejected the prosecutor's call for Calderon to be detained immediately pending his expected appeals.

"This sentence has truly surprised me," Calderon said on hearing the ruling. "Without my being a career government employee I have been convicted of a crime that is supposed to be one committed by a career government employee.

"They were supposed to prove that I am guilty; I am not supposed to be proving my innocence," Calderon said. "I cannot remain a presidential candidate" in next year's race, he added.

The court also handed down jail terms to another seven people charged with taking kickbacks for the purchase of almost $40 million in medical equipment by the state health care system from Finnish firm Instrumentarium Medko Medical.

Calderon and his co-accused also were ordered to pay the equivalent of almost $700,000 in damages to the state, said another judge in the case, Franz Paniagua.

Prosecutors had sought 24 years in jail for the former president. Calderon spent five months in detention when the scandal broke out in 2004.

Both Calderon and the former health care director Eliseo Vargas were handed five-year terms for embezzlement.

Though Calderon's legal fate was an ignominious first, his corruption trial will not be the last for an ex-president in this Central American nation.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who was president from 1998-2002, faces trial in another kickbacks case that forced him to step aside as chief of the Organization of American States.

"Court sentences should be respected and complied with, but not commented on," said Costa Rican president and Nobel peace laureate, Oscar Arias.

"This decision is the product of reflection by people whose job it is to apply the law... Like any Costa Rican, I respect that authority," Calderon added.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Costa Rica loses to Czech Republic but qualifies to round of 16

Diego Estrada of Costa Rica celebrates his goal against Czech Republic during their FIFA U-20 World Cup group E soccer match in Alexandria October 3, 2009. Costa Rica lost 2-3, but still qualified to the round of 16 due to a better goal difference than the United States. Costa Rica will now face hosts Egypt for a place in the quarterfinals. (Photo: Reuters/Marko Djurica)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Costa Rica names ambassador to Cuba

Minister of the Presidency Rodrigo Arias(Photo by Getty Images)(Havana Times) - The Costa Rican government named journalist and diplomat Jose Maria Penabad as its ambassador to Cuba, informed the minister of the presidency, Rodrigo Arias. The official had acted as the Costa Rican consul to Cuba since 2003.

Until earlier this year, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the United States were the only countries on the American continent without diplomatic relations with Cuba. Costa Rica had severed ties with Cuba back in 1961.

“Today, it makes no sense to play the official coldness when we have opened channels of cooperation in diverse areas, when we have consular relations and commercial relations with Havana of some importance, and even direct flights between our capitals,” said Costa Rican President Oscar Arias back in March with the resumption of official diplomatic ties was announced.

Now, with ties restored between Havana with the two Central American countries, the only country to continue to shun Cuba is the United States, which also maintains a half-century economic blockade on the island and a travel ban that prohibits its citizens from visiting the neighboring country.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Let there be light at Juan Santamaria International Airport

(Photo courtesy of the MOPT)By Adam Williams
Tico Times Staff


Flights coming into Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela will no longer be left in the dark. Public works and aviation officials unveiled Tuesday evening the airport's long-awaited approach lights, a project that required an investment of more $2.6 million and seven months of work.

The new lighting towers span 900 meters and are located west of the freeway that flanks the airport. There are 34 towers in all, each 30 meters apart.

The lights, produced by the Siemens corporation, have five different levels of intensity and are adjusted according to weather conditions.

According to the Public Works and Transport Ministry, the towers were also constructed to withstand harsh weather conditions and powerful gusts of wind.

The airport had been without approach lights since 2004.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Costa Rica beat Australia 3-0 in U-20 World Cup

Diego Madrigal of Costa Rica celebrates a goal against Australia during their FIFA U-20 World Cup Group E soccer match in Port Said September 30, 2009. Costa Rica won 3-0 and kept its hopes of advancing to the round of 16 alive. (Photo: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oscar Arias attend the Americas Conference

President of Costa Rica Oscar Arias speaks while attending the Americas Conference being held at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables Fla, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009. Arias gave a luncheon address on the Honduras crisis. (AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Brazil crushes Costa Rica in U-20 World Cup

Giuliano of Brazil (R) is challenged by David Guzman of Costa Rica during their FIFA U-20 World Cup group E soccer match in Port Said City September 27, 2009. Brazil won the match 5 - 0. (Photo: Reuters/ Suhaib Salem)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Arias condems arms race in Latin America

Oscar Arias, president of Costa Rica, addresses the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009. Arias criticized the arms race that is taking place in Latin America as he pointed out that countries of the region have spent as much as $60,000 million to buy weapons in recent years. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Molson Coors to bring Coors Light to Costa Rica

NEW YORK - (AP) Molson Coors Brewing Co. said Thursday that it is teaming with distributor Agencias Feduro (Costa Rica) to bring Coors Light to Costa Rica.

The brewer said the partnership is part of its international expansion efforts, as Costa Rica is the second largest beer market in Central America together with Panama.

Molson Coors said Coors Light will be available at Costa Rican supermarkets, convenience stores, bars and casual dining restaurants, with retailers carrying the bottles and cans starting this month.

The company also plans to introduce the beer in Trinidad & Tobago and Curacao Bonaire later this year. Coors Light is currently available in more than 25 countries, including Mexico, Panama, Ireland and China.

Shares of Molson Coors Brewing fell 30 cents to $47.80 in morning trading.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Czech detained over fraud in Costa Rica

San Jose - (Ceske Noviny) Costa Rican authorities have detained Karel Ponocny, a former Czech Finance Ministry official who was sentenced for fraudulent dealing with the Peruvian debt in 2006 in the Czech Republic, but escaped from the country before the verdict was delivered, Costa Rican media has said.

Ponocny was detained on the basis of an Interpol warrant of arrest in his flat at the San Jose outskirts. Ponocny's arrest was broadcast by Costa Rican television.

Ponocny, who put up no resistance while being detained, was in charge of exacting debts from abroad, among others from Peru, at the ministry. However, the debt from Peru was not to be exacted since the sum had been deposited on a bank account a long time ago.

Ponocny and his accomplice, entrepreneur Anton Murarik, masterminded a grand fraud. Murarik's company took the reward for exacting the money amounting to 95 percent of the sum, while the ministry received the remaining 5 percent, or 2.3 million crowns. Most of the money ended up abroad.

Ponocny and Murarik were also fined one million crowns each and they must cover the damage of 43 million crowns, incurred by the Czech Republic.

Ponocny has reportedly lived in Costa Rica since 2004 and after he married a local woman, he had acquired Costa Rican citizenship.

($1 = 17.073 crowns)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Motocross Tico racer murdered in Guatemala

(Herald Tribune) - A 22-year-old Costa Rican motocross racer was murdered on a highway in Guatemala a few hours after he won the first stage of the National Motocross Championship and his two companions were wounded, police said Sunday.

Oscar Diaz’s vehicle was attacked for unknown reasons, the National Civilian Police, or PNC, said.

The two men accompanying him, Lewis Boniel, a 20-year-old Costa Rican driver, and Carlos Zuñiga, a 30-year-old Guatemalan mechanic, were wounded.

The attack occurred near San Lucas Sacatepequez, a city in southwest Guatemala, as the three men were returning to Guatemala City from the Entre Volcanes track in Alotenango.

Diaz, who belonged to Team Green, was competing in Guatemala for the first time, making his debut in the 6th National Motocross Championship with a win in the first stage.

The National Motocross Federation said it was suspending the second stage of the competition, which was to be run on Sunday, in light of Diaz’s murder.

Arturo Ocham, a federation spokesman, condemned the racer’s murder.

Guatemala has been plagued by a crime wave that has driven the murder rate up to around 17 a day.

The more than 5,400 homicides reported last year in Guatemala – a nation of approximately 13 million – was nearly equal to the number of murders in neighboring Mexico, which has more than 100 million inhabitants and is the scene of open war among rival drug cartels.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Costa Rican man says he's seen Gimelfarb

(Photo taken from Facebook group page)By BJ Lutz

(NBC Chicago) - Within the last day or two, a Costa Rican man has told authorities there that he's twice seen a dirty, bearded David Gimelfarb.

Gimelfarb is the Chicago doctoral student who went missing in the Costa Rican jungle almost a month and a half ago.

The man lives outside the Rincon de Vieja National Park, Gimelfarb's friend Christine Shaw told NBC Chicago, and says that on both occasions, Gimelfarb appeared frightened and ran away.

That park is where Gimelfarb set off on a solo trip last month.

If the man who was seen is Gimelfarb, his strange behavior could be "due to head trauma, infection or poor blood chemistry due to inadequate nutrition and dehydration," Shaw wrote in a post to the "Help Find David Gimelfarb" group on Facebook.

The Costa Rican man looked at a photo of Gimelfarb and identified him as the man he'd seen near the park. He apparently told authorities that the man he saw wasn't wearing his glasses, which Shaw said wouldn't be at all unusual.

The local Costa Rican police are taking the sighting seriously, Shaw said, but they need help. The local police dogs aren't trained to track a specific person and are only able to track scents for a few hours.

They need trained bloodhounds, which can track a specific individual for a great period of time, but there are non in the country.

Shaw said the FBI has trained bloodhounds, but so far searchers haven't been able to secure their help.

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