Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weighing coffee in San Marcos

A coffee producer weighs coffee beans at a plantation in San Marcos de Tarrazu 90 kilometers (56 milles) south of San Jose, February 18, 2010. Costa Rica's coffee farmers are in a push to replace many of their aging high-quality coffee trees in a strategy that could lower output in the short term but pay off down the road. (Photo:Reuters)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Costa Rica finds ton of cocaine, arrests Mexicans

San Jose, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Costa Rican police seized around a ton of cocaine and arrested two suspected Mexican traffickers on Friday in the latest sign Mexican gangs are stepping up their use of the country as a storage point.

Police found 2,139 pounds (969 kg) of cocaine stashed at a rural house near the Pacific coast northwest of San Jose, and arrested two Mexican nationals at the scene. They are believed to be members of Mexico's Juarez cartel, the public security ministry said.

President-elect Laura Chinchilla, a former security minister who won a landslide election victory on Sunday, has said combating Mexican drug gangs operating in Costa Rica will be a priority when she takes power in May.

A three-year army crackdown on drug gangs in Mexico has encouraged some traffickers to push south into Central America, setting up bases in countries like Guatemala as they seek new routes to smuggle South American cocaine to the United States.

Costa Rican authorities have seized 93 tons of cocaine between 2006 and 2009 - nearly twice the amount the country captured in the preceding decade.

Costa Rica is known for being an oasis of stability, high living standards and low crime in a region scarred by Cold War-era civil wars and plagued by violent street gangs.

But it also sits halfway between the cocaine-producing Andes and Mexico, whose smuggling gangs earn some $40 billion a year smuggling the drug north using planes, boats and trucks.

Police raided the house in Costa Rica early on Friday following a tip-off from neighbors, the ministry said.

The two suspects are from the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, one of the world's most violent spots. One had a press credential from a Mexican newspaper, the ministry said.

(Reporting by Leslie Josephs; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Time: Recovering the Tico mojo is Chinchilla's prime mandate

Yesterday Time magazine published an article highlighting Costa Rica's election of Laura Chinchilla as its first female president and the generational and gender changes that this represents in the Costa Rican political arena.

Time points out that "at a moment when Costa Rica's stature as the Switzerland of Central America is in decline..." Chinchilla's prime mandate is to help our country recover its "Tico mojo" .

For Time, the fact that Chinchilla is "the first Tica President is definitely important — but taking Costa Rica back to the future will matter even more."
Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Laura Chinchilla visits La Basilica

Costa Rica's President-elect Laura Chinchilla greets her supporters inside the Basilica of Los Angeles in Cartago for a service of thanks February 8,2010. Chinchilla, a protege of Nobel peace laureate President Oscar Arias, won a landslide election victory in Costa Rica on Sunday to become the country's first elected woman president. (Photo:Reuters)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Costa Rica elects first woman president

(CNN) - Costa Rica elected its first female president, as the ruling National Liberation Party claimed a historic victory.

"I want to thank the pioneering women who years ago opened the doors of politics in Costa Rica," Laura Chinchilla said Sunday to flag-waving supporters in the capital, San Jose. "My government will be open to all Costa Ricans of good faith."

Second-place candidate Otton Solis of the Citizen's Action Party had conceded defeat earlier in the evening, as the PLN -- the Spanish acronym for the National Liberation Party party -- forged its way to a nearly 2-to-1 lead.

Polls showed Chinchilla garnering 46.8 percent of the vote, with 84 percent of election sites reporting. Solis had 25.1 percent, while Otto Guevara of the Libertarian Movement had 20.9 percent.

Election day was festive throughout the nation, with video footage showing supporters of the main presidential candidates dressed in their respective campaign colors.

International observers interviewed on CNN affiliate Teletica compared the election scene to a festival.

The festivities included election sites where children could vote in a mock presidential vote. The educational outreach let the children pick their candidate on a digital ballot not unlike the ones the rest of the electorate cast their votes with.

Some 2.8 million Costa Ricans are eligible to vote.

In addition to voting for president, Costa Ricans cast ballots for two vice presidents, 57 Congress members and 495 council members.

The legacy of outgoing President Oscar Arias - a Nobel laureate who leaves office a popular, if polarizing, leader - has in many ways shaped the presidential race.

Although he has given Costa Rica a larger role in foreign affairs through his involvement in seeking resolution to the political crisis in Honduras, but his style has rubbed some the wrong way.

After casting his vote Sunday, Arias called the electoral process transparent and trustworthy.

"I would like to thank the Costa Rican people for filling the streets with color," he said.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Oldest voter in Costa Rica

Jose Delgado Corrales, 109, holds his identity card as he arrives at a polling station during the presidential elections in San Jose February 7, 2010. According to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Corrales is the oldest among Costa Rica's 2.8 million registered voters, electing a new president on Sunday.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Guevara kicking for votes

Presidential candidate Otto Guevara, of the opposition Libertarian Movement party, prepares to kick a penalty at the Desamparados soccer stadium on the outskirts of San Jose, during his last campaign trail stop, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010. Costa Rica will hold presidential, congressional and municipal elections on Sunday. (AP Photo)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Otto Guevara visits Cartago

A supporter shouts slogan in favor of presidential candidate Otto Guevara (R) of opposition party Libertarian Movement at the Central Market in Cartago February 4, 2010. Costa Rica will hold a presidential election on February 7. (Photo:Reuters)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Solis takes a bike ride down central avenue

Otton Solis, presidential candidate for the Citizen Action Party, rides a bicycle during a walk along the central avenue in San Jose February 2, 2010. Costa Rica will hold a presidential election on February 7. (Photo:Reuters)

Note: I'm not a supporter of Solis, but I love this picture. Where else in the world will you see a presidential candidate riding a bike downtown without virtually any bodyguards around him? This is not the first time Solis does this and even though it's kind of amusing, the fact that he can do it without any real security concerns is what I like.

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