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

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.

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