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:
- 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.

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