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.

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.

Related posts