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Updated: 14 hours 53 min ago

Photos: Pride 2019 in San José, Costa Rica

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 13:58

Tens of thousands of people participated in Costa Rica’s pride parade, Marcha de la Diversidad, on Sunday afternoon throughout San José.

Tico Times photographer Jacob Spetzler captured the following images from the event.

Categories: Nacionales

Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 5)

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 11:59

Earlier this year, we told you about Camino de Costa Rica, a 280-km hike from Costa Rica’s Atlantic to its Pacific coast. 

Garry Wallace recently completed the Camino de Costa Rica, and he wrote a series of stories recounting the experience.

Below is the finale, Part 5: 

***

Final thoughts on El Camino de Costa Rica

As I stare at this blank screen trying to find the words to capture my thoughts and emotions after such a moving and multifaceted experience, I know I’ll never do El Camino de Costa Rica justice. Words are inadequate to portray its richness, its challenge and its rewards. But I’ll try.

First, a comparison. I have been truly blessed to have hiked the Camino de Santiago and the Incan trail to Machu Picchu. They were both incredible experiences and will never be forgotten, but relative to El Camino, they were a shared experience. Thousands and thousands of hikers complete those “best of the best” hikes every year. Many eyes and feet cover the same ground.

El Camino de Costa Rica, however, provided something different: a chance to complete a hike, find oneself and explore a truly amazing country in a way that very, very few have ever done. More people have stood on top of Mount Everest. How many hiking experiences are exclusive and remote anymore?  How many times can you say you were truly away from the maddening crowd?  That made El Camino not only special, but it made it feel like it was all mine.

Photo by Garry Wallace. Photo by Garry Wallace.

Our group size varied throughout El Camino as hikers did the sections that their schedules allowed. In the end there were only three of us: Jorleny Aguilar (our amazing guide), Ralph Perez (one tough American from California) and myself. We never had cross words for each other or bad days.  We were all in love with El Camino and in awe every single day.

Our group at the end, the Quepos sign on the Pacific coast. Photo via Garry Wallace.

Joining us to hike the last day was Conchita Espino, La Madre de El Camino, whose support and encouragement throughout El Camino was above and beyond.

El Camino has to be experienced firsthand to be believed.  These two weeks shall live with me forever.

One of my favorite sayings is by Mark Twain:

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot reacquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

Thanks Mr. Twain. My El Camino adventure was another attempt by me to take those words to heart.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

Garry Wallace is a managing partner at Serenity Boutique Hotel in Quepos, Puntarenas.  Learn more at www.serenityhotelcostarica.com

Categories: Nacionales

Tens of thousands celebrate Pride 2019 in Costa Rica

Mon, 06/24/2019 - 08:07

San José — Tens of thousands of people took to the streets Sunday afternoon to celebrate Costa Rica’s 10th annual Pride Parade.

Among the participants was Costa Rica’s President, Carlos Alvarado, who marched holding a sign that read, “Never again will you walk alone.”

President Alvarado marches at Pride 2019. Via Twitter.

Costa Rica’s Supreme Court in August 2018 ruled that a ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and gave parliament 18 months to amend the laws

The Municipal Band of San José plays Lady Gaga at Pride 2019. Alejandro Zúñiga/ The Tico Times

President Alvarado announced last December new legislation to improve LGBTQ rights in Costa Rica.

The decrees include recognition of trans gender identities on residency (DIMEX) cards and declare hormone treatment “in the public interest,” which allows patients to receive the appropriate comprehensive care via the country’s health services.

Alejandro Zúñiga / The Tico Times

We’ll have plenty more photos throughout the day, so stay tuned!

 

Categories: Nacionales

Photos: Go Skateboarding Day in Costa Rica

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 10:17

Friday was worldwide Go Skateboarding Day, and skateboarders in Costa Rica were happy to oblige.

Here are our favorite photos of skateboarders in San José on June 21, 2019. All photos by Tico Times photographer Jacob Spetzler.

Categories: Nacionales

Slothy Sunday: Saving sloths together

Sun, 06/23/2019 - 09:27

The first time I met Leslie Howle, the founder of Toucan Rescue Ranch, we were at a wildlife conference in San José five years ago.

Leslie had just attended my presentation about hand-raising and releasing orphaned tamanduas. After my talk, we started chatting about tamanduas and wildlife care when the conversation quickly turned to orphaned sloths.

Leslie always says she remembers me saying, “I’m going to be the first person to track hand-raised released sloths as they reintegrate back into the forest.” We haven’t stopped talking about sloths since.

Three years ago, our non-profits (The Sloth Institute and Toucan Rescue Ranch) formally joined forces through a program we named “Saving Sloths Together.” By combining our resources, skills and guidance, we have been able to save more sloths year after year.

Every time I take a step back and look at what we’ve accomplished together, I feel very proud of us all.  The TSI sloth release program started as a very small research project in Manuel Antonio, Puntarenas. Now, because of our joint program with TRR, we have two field sites where we collect data on recently released sloths. This enables us to apply what we are learning about sloth rehabilitation and release in real time, rather than just waiting to apply information from formal publications. The sample size of sloths that we are able to work with and learn from has grown exponentially, which has, of course, increased our research potential.

I visit the TRR Release Site in Sarapiquí monthly to check on the progress of the sloths that are in the SST program. In the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing another wave of hand-raised sloths that are ready for their life back in the wild, but so far we have multiple success stories to be excited about!  Here are just a few:

Allie: A young weanling Three-Fingered Sloth who was sick and found by authorities on the ground. After a brief rehabilitation period at TRR, she was released with a tracking collar and is followed daily by our TSI trained sloth technicians.  We have many weanling Three-Fingered Sloths that we have rehabilitated and track at TSI Headquarters in Manuel Antonio, so Allie is a great regional comparison for our study.

Oro after being released. (Sam Trull / The Sloth Institute)

Oro: A male adult Two-Fingered sloth who was admitted to TRR many years ago. Oro was so sick that he was almost euthanized, but after a very long time being rehabilitated he was finally ready for release. Oro is a team favorite and a great example of why you should never give up.  He is being tracked daily and is an interesting example of a sloth that took a very long time to regain his health, but was still able to be released back into the wild successfully.

Ellie in the wild. (Sam Trull / The Sloth Institute)

Hannah and Ellie: Hand-raised many years ago, these two were originally raised at TRR without release in mind. However, they are both in our post-release tracking program and are doing really well back in the wild.  They are great examples of how every sloth was born to be wild.  

— Sam Trull is the co-founder and director of The Sloth Institute

This article was produced by The Toucan Rescue Ranch. The Toucan Rescue Ranch specializes in helping wild animals recover so that they can be reintroduced into the wild. For more information or to donate, visit the Toucan Rescue Ranch website

Categories: Nacionales

From Río San Juan to San José: A Nicaraguan refugee in Costa Rica tells his story (Part 2)

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 08:00

Nelson Jesus Zeas Paz, 25, is one of the 55,000 Nicaraguan refugees and exiles who have fled to Costa Rica. 

In Part 1 of this story, he described witnessing much of the unrest that occurred from his perspective as a protestor and leader in the Movimiento Campesino (Farmers Movement).

 

Here is Part 2 of our interview with Nelson Jesus Zeas Paz. It has been translated from Spanish and edited for clarity and readability.

The Tico Times: How did you get to Costa Rica?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: Walking. By mountains and forests, because I was already on the list. I wouldn’t be able to get on a bus because paramilitaries would be set up … checking to see who’s on the list, and they’d ask for my name, and I’d come up on the list of enemies of the state because I was a territory leader.

I paid a coyote to help me because I didn’t know the area well and it was winter. We crossed the muddy roads through forests, bushes and over the mountains.

At some point my feet surrendered. I could no longer bear to push my body so much.

I got the Río San Juan in the middle of the night, and that’s where the coyote left me. “Leave me,” I said. “Go home. Thank you for taking me this far and say hello to my mother.” 

My mother had stayed behind to take care of my two little brothers, because my older brother left four days before me. He went to the United States. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t go with my brother, but to get to the north of the country from the south of the country I would have had to pass by lots of police checkpoints and I would have been captured and kept prisoner. Or worse, killed or tortured. Only God knows, so I had to go this way.

At the Río San Juan, a man came in a small boat, and I asked him if there was military on the other side of the river. He asked me where I was going. And so I started to look him over. “I’m going to Costa Rica,” I said. But I didn’t tell him I was leader in the Movimiento Campesino or anything like that. He seemed like a sensible guy. I told him I wanted to go to Costa Rica to look for work, because in Nicaragua there isn’t any work, and with this revolution, well, the whole country has been disrupted. “Look,” he tells me, “there is a military base … and through there you go to get to Costa Rica legally.” 

“No,” I said. “I’ll come with you in your boat. Do me a favor. I’ll pay you if you take me away from here, take me across the San Juan to where there aren’t police.” Finally I told him who I was, that I was a leader in the Movimiento Campesino and that my comrade in the fight, Victor Manuel Díaz González, is a political prisoner of the dictatorship and was suffering persecution. I, too, needed to leave the country because if I don’t they’d kill me if I stayed. If not, then they’d imprison me.

“Ah,” he said. “Now I understand. Let me call my cousin, who will help you cross.” 

That’s how I crossed the San Juan, with the cousin of this man with the boat. We crossed the marshes and then over the mountains and through some orange groves. And that’s where he left me, in the orange groves, and he told me if I hear a motorcycle that would be the army and that I should run. So I went running and he pointed to a mountain and he told me that mountain is Costa Rican territory. … If you can get to this mountain, they can no longer persecute you. So that’s how I went.

And then I heard the motorcycle behind me so I took off running toward the mountains.

At this point, I had already walked for 12 hours, faint with hunger, but I had to keep going to save my own life.

I think of the pain of my mother who had stayed in Nicaragua without knowing what happened to me. And the fear, because I had been told that the Nicaraguan army had set up mines on the border to stop “escaping terrorists,” who were supposedly us. …

But I finally made it over the border and got in contact with a taxi that the cousin of the man with the boat had called. … I got in his car, and he took me to Los Chiles de Costa Rica.

And so I was saved, thanks to God. I went to the Costa Rican migration offices, very dirty. And everyone was looking at me weird, asking, “Where has this person come from? Who is he?” 

Zeas Paz. Photo by Jacob Spetzler.

I presented myself to the Costa Rican police and I told them I was a leader of the Movimiento Campesino de Nicaragua, that was I was in the in the tranque Del Tule, and I had been present for the massacre at the Mothers of April protests, and that I had been in the fight for five years.

So they took my fingerprints and my name and my other data and documents, and they gave me a code and told me with this code, I would be safe in the country without danger of deportation. But that while the government of Costa Rica was committed to giving me security, that I should not leave the country or, even worse, approach the border with Nicaragua because I could become a persecuted person by the regime again.

TT: What has happened since you’ve arrived in Costa Rica?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: I came to San José, Costa Rica, and I’ve been here for seven months since September. At first I was in a tiny town called El Rosario, living on a coffee farm with a Nicaraguan family who cares for the farm. So I was there for seven months, in cold and precarious conditions. …

Thanks to God, I never went without food, because this family helped me with provisions.

At this point, my brother was on the border with Mexico and the United States, and it was terrible. At the border with Mexico, the border guards captured my brother and gave him to the North American police … who put him in jail in Florida. He was a prisoner for four months, with four months of danger of being deported.

If he had been deported, he would have been sent to the National Airport of Nicaragua, where the police there would have taken him because he was my brother. … 

I went to the UN offices here in Costa Rica and explained the situation about us having to leave quickly because of the [Nicaraguan] regime, and everything that happened with our families in danger in Nicaragua. That I had a brother who was a prisoner in the US because he had illegally entered the country. … We got in contact with Human Rights Commission in Miami to have them help get my brother out of the North American jail and not deported to Nicaragua, where he obviously would have been imprisoned.

Over months, with their help, we were able to get a card that showed a violation of human rights of my brother in Nicaragua just for being my brother. They sent it to the immigration offices in the United States.

Thanks to God, in February of this year, they let him out on a bail of $20,000. That’s on top of the $10,000 it cost to get my brother out of the country. That’s to pay for the coyote, transport on the road out of Nicaragua.

He wasn’t deported, and he’s out on bail for an undetermined amount of time. I’m not really sure how this works in North America but for now, he’s free.

TT: What will your brother do now?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: He’s seeking asylum as a political refugee for being persecuted as my brother by the regime.

Now he’s with my dad, thank God. And during this time I was here in the bache [a kind of refugee camp] for 7 months. 

But we give thanks to Costa Rica for opening their doors to us. Hugging us to their chest and giving us the security that I we didn’t have in Nicaragua. The march on May 30 is a great example. … They respect the fundamental human rights of free movement, free expression, and it’s a democratic country.

TT: What has your life been like here in San José, since leaving the coffee farm?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: I live in place, a house that I don’t want to say the exact location of for security reasons. But I live with other Nicaraguans. We’re all activists as defenders of human rights, and we’re also academics. …

To be honest, the life here is a little difficult, because there are so many immigrants. There’s Nicaraguans but there’s also Venezuelans who are suffering persecution. It’s hard to find work. We have permission to work, but it’s hard to actually find a job.

It’s difficult for us as leaders to see our people. In a certain way, they’re okay. In Nicaragua, at least they were able to eat. But that was before their rights were violated, before the April insurrection. Now sometimes they eat, sometimes not. Sometimes just once a day. There are some that sleep in fields, others who look for food in garbage dumps. Boys in the street who can’t find work, selling anything they can.

It has been difficult, and it will be a difficult life, but we are waiting, day by day, adapting. And waiting to see what comes.

Jacob Spetzler / The Tico Times

Read more in The Tico Times about Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica: 

Categories: Nacionales

Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 4)

Sat, 06/22/2019 - 06:00

Earlier this year, we told you about Camino de Costa Rica, a 280-km hike from Costa Rica’s Atlantic to its Pacific coast. 

Garry Wallace recently completed the Camino de Costa Rica, and he wrote a series of stories recounting the experience.

Below is Part 4: 

***

The best of all worlds

It feels amazing to truly get away from civilization — way off the beaten path. The peace, the quiet at night, no radios, no TV, no traffic noises. Time to reflect, time to think, time to dream.

People away from towns and cities seemed glad to see someone enjoying their little piece of heaven. They honked and waved when they drove past us, giving thumbs-up and encouragement.  Sometimes they offered a cold drink or asked where we were going, thinking that we must be lost.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

I enjoyed all sections of El Camino, and it’s hard to pick a favorite, because they all had elements I loved. But if forced to choose one, I would pick high in the mountains — coffee plantation country.

The air is dry and cool, perfect for hiking.  The people are the friendliest, because they rarely get travelers in that area. The mornings usually off start with a mist gently watering the coffee that burns off to a crystal-clear day where you feel you are on top of the world and can see forever.  Often, we walked along a road cut into the top edge of a ridge which allowed 360-degree views for miles and miles.

Photo via Garry Wallace.

My favorite picture was this one (taken by our great guide Jorleny, who has completed El Camino five times in the last 13 months), taken mid-morning at about 6,000 ft.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

My favorite lunch was this one, put together by Jose, our jungle guide, after a three-hour slog uphill in muddy conditions. Curried chicken, rice, salad, and root vegetables. It was so welcome as well as delicious. We were all famished after that morning!

Photo by Garry Wallace.

I appreciated meeting Bradley, pictured here standing on his porch. I stopped to say hello as I passed his beautifully crafted Caribe home. He proceeded to give me the story of how his father had purchased it 75 years ago and how Bradley (now 74) had grown up in it. His mother still lives there.

Bradley was wonderful to talk to, and he insisted that I take home some of the nutmeg he grows on the property, which he was drying that day. Interactions like this absolutely make the Camino the amazing trip it is.

My favorite sighting was watching an adult male Resplendent Quetzel preen itself for 10 minutes at the top of a tree in the jungle.  Our guide, Sergio, spotted it through a small hole in the canopy. I’ll never figure out how he did it, but wow!

No shortage of memories were stored away from this hike. Memories to last a lifetime.

Stay tuned for Part 5 tomorrow! 

Garry Wallace is a managing partner at Serenity Boutique Hotel in Quepos, Puntarenas.  Learn more at www.serenityhotelcostarica.com

Categories: Nacionales

Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 3)

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 11:35

Earlier this year, we told you about Camino de Costa Rica, a 280-km hike from Costa Rica’s Atlantic to its Pacific coast. 

Garry Wallace recently completed the Camino de Costa Rica, and he wrote a series of stories recounting the experience.

Below is Part 3: 

***

A Taste of Costa Rica: Gastronomy on El Camino

You would be forgiven to think our little group ate simple carbohydrate-laden foods, and lots of them, given the calories we were burning each day. But nothing could be further from the truth. We ate like kings and queens.

All our hosts along El Camino went out of their way to impress us with their local cuisine, and trust me, we loved it.  In a sense, we ate our way across a continent, and I don’t believe any of us lost a pound on the hike.

Just a few examples:

Mondongo soup. Photo by Garry Wallace.

Mondongo soup, made from cow tripe and local root vegetables, was creamy, smooth and warming. Dessert was a simple bowl of caramelized coffee beans spiked with cinnamon and served warm.

Typical Olla de Carne. Photo by Garry Wallace.

Olla de Carne is the ultimate Costa Rican beef stew.  This was traditionally a community collaboration. Everyone brought the ingredients they could contribute.  Sometimes it was beef, or pork or the rabbit that was caught that day. Everything was thrown into a big pot, and no one went hungry that night.

Gallo pinto con huevo. Photo by Garry Wallace.

How do you make a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs with gallo pinto special?  Serve it on banana leaves at 4,000 ft to famished hikers, that’s how.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

Lunch with a view!  Photo by Garry Wallace.

A wood barbecue lunch served on a mountaintop consisting of mushroom skewers, grilled plantain and caramelized pineapple slices, was cooked by Chef Martine.  This has to be the best seat at any restaurant I know.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

Healthy and tasty, this meal included fish river trout, lightly grilled served with vegetables and, of course, rice and beans.

No one — vegan, carnivores or omnivores — went hungry on this trip!

Stay tuned for Part 4 tomorrow! 

Garry Wallace is a managing partner at Serenity Boutique Hotel in Quepos, Puntarenas.  Learn more at www.serenityhotelcostarica.com

Categories: Nacionales

Mexican airline offers one-dollar flights to returning migrants

Fri, 06/21/2019 - 09:20

A Mexican airline is offering one-dollar flights to undocumented migrants wishing to return to Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala as the country struggles to curb arrivals from Central America.

The Reuniting Families program, announced by Volaris on Thursday, aims to “to assist in the repatriation of migrants,” the airline said on its Twitter account.

The offer will run until June 30 and is open to Central Americans in an “irregular migration situation” who wish to depart from airports in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez — both close to the US border — or Guadalajara and Mexico City.

Passengers must be willing to board “the next available seat” in order to take advantage of the ultra-cheap fare, which does not include taxes.

Mexico City’s airport charges an airport use fee of $45 for international flights.

Adult migrants must identify themselves with their unique identity document and minors must show a passport or birth certificate.

A wave of Central American migrants has arrived in Mexico in recent months after the government of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on December 1, declared that he would have a more flexible immigration policy.

However, the United States has registered record numbers of mostly Central American migrants crossing into the US illegally, which has sent tensions soaring between the two countries.

Following a threat by US President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on Mexican imports, both governments reached an agreement and Mexico has reinforced surveillance along its southern border, as well stepped up the number of arrests and deportations of migrants.

Categories: Nacionales

Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 2)

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 15:08

Earlier this year, we told you about Camino de Costa Rica, a 280-km hike from Costa Rica’s Atlantic to its Pacific coast. 

Garry Wallace recently completed the Camino de Costa Rica, and he wrote a series of stories recounting the experience.

Below is Part 2: 

***

El Camino’s relationship to Costa Rica’s Indigenous peoples

One of the biggest reasons I was motivated to hike El Camino was the chance to visit indigenous communities, better understand the daily challenges they face and in some small way help make their lives better. Getting to the village of Tsiobata, located in Nairi Awari Indigenous Land, was no easy task but well worth the effort.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

The village has no road access, so we had to hand pulley our way across the Pecuare River in small basket, then negotiate our way up a muddy and steep hill for more than a kilometer just to reach the path that led to the village.

Tsiobata is a two-hour hike away from the closest access point. Knowing that the villagers do this trek once or twice a week to get supplies they couldn’t produce themselves was sobering. They often do the four-hour round trip carrying 25 kilos on the return (sugar, rice, flour, etc).

Education is an important part of the village life. Students often come long distances every day to attend.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

The class of 16 students is composed of multiple grades, all taught in one classroom, with senior grades often assisting to teach junior students.  Jose Morales Sanabria, their teacher, walks seven hours a week to bring education to two different indigenous communities. Heavy rains in the jungle can make his weekly journeys extremely difficult, but he is so proud of what he brings to the children that nothing stops him.

A small amount of revenue comes into the village as every group visiting does so guided by an indigenous guide. But the community has bigger plans to offer outsiders a more comprehensive traditional experience.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

They built a traditional ceremonial hut for hikers to visit and see demonstrations/rituals in.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

Leo, the village’s eco-tourism project leader, tests out a traditional bow and arrow made from jungle vines and wood.

Upcoming projects include providing group lunches of traditional foods and making jewelry crafted from jungle seeds and vines. All this will bring more revenue to this remote part of Costa Rica and these wonderfully warm people.

El Camino is seeking other ways to assist indigenous communities. They are currently in pursuit of an international grant that will fund a construction project to make the path up from the river safer and easier.

Clearly, that’s a win for the Camino de Costa Rica hikers, but more importantly, for the people who use it daily and rely on it as a lifeline. There are several joint projects such as this in the works between indigenous communities across Costa Rica and El Camino organizers. Volunteers, anyone?

Today was an incredible opportunity to interact with some truly amazing people who have chosen to protect their generations-old lifestyle and live without many modern conveniences in order to cherish their traditions.

Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow! 

Garry Wallace is a managing partner at Serenity Boutique Hotel in Quepos, Puntarenas.  Learn more at www.serenityhotelcostarica.com

Categories: Nacionales

From Río San Juan to San José: A Nicaraguan refugee in Costa Rica tells his story

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 12:11

Nelson Jesus Zeas Paz was late, a consequence of the infamous San José traffic. When he arrived, he walked quickly toward the patio section of the cafe in San Pedro, skirting along the building to avoid the drizzling rain. He is tall, and his eyes were serious and sincere. He wore a sleek blue-collared shirt tucked into black slacks, a golden “Z” hanging on a long chain around his neck. “For Zeas,” he explained, “my father’s last name.” He ordered a cup of black coffee and sat down to talk.

Nelson Jesus Zeas Paz is one of the 55,000 Nicaraguan refugees and exiles who have fled to Costa Rica, according to the UN Refugee Agency. He’s 25 and witnessed much of the unrest that occurred last year as a protestor and leader in the Movimiento Campesino (Farmers Movement).

Below are excerpts from our conversation, translated from Spanish and edited for clarity and readability.  

The Tico Times: I want to ask you about the basics. Where are you from?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: I come from Río San Juan in Nicaragua. I was born in a town called El Almendro, which is a part of Río San Juan. I studied in El Almendro from primary school to secondary, and then I moved to the capital, [Manauga] to continue my studies.

After, when the revolution of April 18 began, I had to return to my territory, to my father’s farm in a place called El Fajardo in the municipality of San Miguelito. We demonstrated in the main street and El Tule [a small town in San Miguelito].

TT: I understand you were a territory leader in the Movimiento Campesino and that you were very young, 20 years old, compared to other territory leaders who were generally in their late 20s?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: As the Movimiento Campesino, we had been demonstrating for years before, in the wake of Law 840. [Law 840] was the canal concession law which allowed for the HKND Group (Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development), a Chinese company, to take pieces of the national sovereignty where they were going to construct the Inter-ocean Canal, which would run through three territories in Nicaragua … including Río San Juan. Law 840 took land away from almost 100,000 families who lived in the line of the canal.

Proposed canal route. Via Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve been in this fight since 2013 in the wake of the passing of Law 840 because my family, my father, my cousin, my grandfather have farms in the line [of the canal], and they took that land, which was inherited from our fathers, our grandfathers, from our ancestors. There is no justice in this, considering we have the titles in our hands. Pretty much everyone whose land is in the line of the canal have titles in hand. And Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo came with a general title to take them. … And they gave it to this Chinese company — HKND Group.

So on Dec. 24, a few hours after we had celebrated the birth of baby Jesus, we received a regime of repression on the part of Daniel Ortega. Between 700 and 800 riot police arrived at the location where we had a tranque [a protestor-built road-block] in El Tule, which connected the public road which goes to the city of San Carlos.

And they shot at us with bullets. Real bullets, salt bullets. Some of the campesinos were seriously injured, lots were arrested. And some even lost their eyes or other parts of their visual organs and, well, we had to retreat because we were unarmed. We were trying to defend ourselves with rocks or poles from behind trees. The rest of the campesinos were still there, demonstrating against the canal line. They were everywhere, fighting against Law 840 which left us essentially in misery with over 100,000 families without our territories. And it didn’t only affect the territories but the small towns and public land, not to mention the environmental impact construction would have.

TT: I understand the feelings of discontent were exasperated by the wildfires on the Carribean coast?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: It started in 20 different places in the country. At first we thought they were from natural causes. But when we investigated it wasn’t because of natural causes, actually by human causes. …

We as the Movimiento Campesino think it was the government, because when Costa Rica offered to send forty of their best professional firefighters to fight the fire, the Nicaraguan government sent a diplomatic note saying the government didn’t need them. … Instead they sent the army of Nicaragua without the right equipment to fight a giant fire in the Gran Reserva.

TT: So then the next thing the government did that angered you was the social security reforms that were passed in April 2018?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: The government of Daniel Ortega passed the IMISS reforms. … The State cut the social security so we went to protest, universally. And what was the reaction of the government? The reaction was repression. When the old people went out on April 18 to demonstrate for their fundamental constitutional rights and right to the contributions they themselves had made over the years, the government sent troops and with them, what’s called the Sandanista Youth.

TT: What happened after the main April and May 2018 Protests?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: We went back to El Tule on the 3rd or 4th of June and then early in the morning on June 7, we were ambushed in a tiny town called Nueva Jerusalen. Fortunately, nobody in my group was shot but my cousin, whose name was Juan Francisco Zea Orozco, was in another caravan behind us. And he was hit by the impact of a shotgun which was fired by a paramilitary of the Daniel Ortega regime. Eight pellets entered his side, and he was dead within minutes.

We buried my cousin in the community where his mother lives, under an oak tree in Río San Juan.

Later we continued to protest, filled with indignity, demanding justice and the resignation of the dictator. Demanding justice for my cousin, demanding justice for all of the student comrades and for all of the campesino political prisoners.  

TT: After that, what happened in terms of the protests in Río San Juan?

Nelson Jesús Zeas Paz: They began to encircle all of the tranques. The last one was standing was the one I mentioned before, where some of the campesinos were murdered. We wanted to know where everyone was because they are members of our movement and they deserve to be buried with the dignity of a human being.

So I went to el Fajardo, which is a small community where … I have my own business with my mother. My mother is an alternative medicine doctor and has her own pharmacy that I help to run. My father is a farmer and lives in North America.

So when I went back to the el Fajardo to check on the business, they sent paramilitaries from the regime who were in contact with the mayor of the town San Miguelito who was a Sandanista. So I was stuck in my house, unable to leave.

I couldn’t sleep well at night because I was worried they would come to kill me at night. But it also didn’t matter because I’d been watched and persecuted for years, since the beginning of the insurrection against the canal. And I’d been receiving death threats since the beginning of the “clean-up operation.”…

We heard on the radio and social networks that Ortega gave the order for us to leave the country. … “Good,” I said, because we have no human rights in this country. Though they haven’t killed me yet, they have persecuted us and we have death threats, and many of us have warrants out for our arrest. All of the territory leaders [of the Movimiento Campesino] are on the chipote list [El Chipote is a prison in Nicaragua].

Victor Manuel Díaz González was a political prisoner of the regime and was jailed, well, his mother told me I was on the chipote list. So she said to my mother, Doña Verónica, she says, Verònica Esther, your son, who is me, is on the list of chipote and so the idea was that my mother’s business, called Natural Sunshine International, would help to process my legal papers so I can leave the country to go to the United States, where my father lives in South Dakota.

So the doctor of Natural Sunshine International went to the National Airport of Nicaragua to try to process the U.S. visa and these other legal papers to leave. And my mother, well, she said I can’t leave by the National Airport of Nicaragua because there’s a huge list at the National Airport. And they accused me of being a terrorist and arms trafficker and of being in possession of ammunition of an armed group. Things like this is what the regime used to capture us, not as political prisoners.

So I couldn’t leave by the airport.

And so on Aug. 30, I packed my bag in the middle of the night. I put what little I could fit. My cell phone, my mini-charger, some legal papers, diplomas, ID cards, and passport.

I decided to come to Costa Rica.

Nicaraguan demonstrations in Costa Rica. (Jacob Spetzler / The Tico Times)

Check TicoTimes.net soon for Part 2 of this story, about Nelson Jesus Zeas Paz’s experiences in Costa Rica. 

Categories: Nacionales

Costa Rica 101: Using your cell phone in Costa Rica

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 11:00

One of the better parts of any vacation is disconnecting from the rest of the world.

But whether it’s for safety or convenience, it can still be useful to have a working cell phone when you visit a new country. Thankfully, it is downright cheap, and relatively simple, to use your own cell phone during your Costa Rica vacation.

Here’s how to use your cell phone in Costa Rica:

1) Unlock your phone and confirm compatibility 

Depending on how you purchased your phone, it may be locked, or restricted to one specific service provider (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, etc.). If your phone is locked, you may not be able to use it with Costa Rican carriers.

Contact your wireless service provider to check if your device can be unlocked for a trip abroad. Each provider has different policies (here are AT&T’s; here are Verizon’s), but if you meet the requirements, the unlock process is quick — it’s usually done by inputting a special code on your phone.

If your carrier will not unlock your device, they may offer you a temporary international plan. While useful, these can be significantly more expensive than buying a SIM card in Costa Rica.

Finally, while most modern cell phones have the hardware to connect to network frequencies around the world, it’s still worth double-checking before going through any more trouble. I recommend visiting Frequency Check and inputting your device type to see a table showing whether your phone will work on Costa Rican carriers.

2) Buying a SIM card in Costa Rica

Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) both have kiosks selling SIM cards for kölbi, the state-owned mobile service provider.

At Juan Santamaría International Airport near San José, look for the storefront at baggage claim after you’ve passed through immigration. At Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, you’ll see it after you exit the customs area.

If you don’t get a SIM card at the airport, you can visit a kölbi authorized vendor almost anywhere in Costa Rica. Click here for a list of locations. 

You’ll need your passport to purchase a prepaid SIM card, which costs 1,000 colones (about $1.70). The kölbi staff will help install the SIM card into your phone.

Keep your original SIM card in a safe place, since you’ll want to install once you return home. Hang on to all kölbi documentation, including the plastic card that has your SIM pin on it, for the duration of your trip. 

3) Buying additional data or minutes on your kölbi SIM card

As of June 2019, a new prepaid kölbi SIM card includes 6,000 colones worth of domestic phone calls, text messages, and internet access. That alone may be enough for your vacation.

As of June 2019, your balance spent at 40.351 colones per minute on the phone, 0.008588 colones per kilobyte of data, and 3.021 colones per SMS text message.

You can also pay at the kölbi store for additional data when you purchase your SIM card.  This can be done à la carte or with a package. The “de todo” package, for example, includes 200 text messages, 34 call minutes, and 150 megabytes of data for 2,500 colones, or about $4.30.

You can also buy recharge cards at 23,000 different locations across Costa Rica — including most grocery stores and pulperías.

Check your balance by dialing *888#. If you’re staying in Costa Rica for a significant period of time, it might be worth creating an account in kölbi’s app for iPhones and Android phones, which allows you to purchase data directly.

Tips for using cell phones in Costa Rica
  • The vast majority of Costa Rican drivers use Waze, not Google Maps or Apple Maps, to navigate. Waze has community-sourced traffic information and will alert you of road hazards, police traps, etc.
  • Similarly, the vast majority of Costa Ricans use WhatsApp rather than sending text messages through their carrier.
  • If you have Google Maps, you can save areas for offline use while you’re on Wi-Fi to reduce your data usage later on.
  • Most populated areas of Costa Rica have solid cell coverage. However, coverage can be spotty in the mountains.
  • Your kölbi SIM card will expire if it goes unused for several months, so it’s not worth keeping for next year’s vacation to Costa Rica.
  • There are other wireless service providers in Costa Rica other than kölbi. They include Claro, Movistar, and Tuyo. All work similarly to kölbi and may be more convenient if you’re traveling throughout Central and South America.

Do you have ideas for our Costa Rica 101 series? Let us know by emailing: alejandro@ticotimes.net. 

Categories: Nacionales

Costa Rica becoming a more accessible and inclusive tourist destination

Thu, 06/20/2019 - 09:36

Last weekend, Costa Rica presented its new model of inclusive and accessible social tourism, with activities aimed at older adults, youth, children, adolescents and people with disabilities.

The Tourism Board’s first Social Integrity Program was carried out in La Fortuna, San Carlos, where about 120 tourists were the first to participate in the experience. Among them were Yurusti High School students, guides and scouts, seniors, and a group of guests with disabilities, who all enjoyed a series of adventure activities.

All were transported by a chapulín (tractor) — which had a special cart with seats — to a village near the indigenous Maleku community.

Most of the participants enjoyed this type of recreation for the first time, said Alberto López, general manager of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT).

Ricardo Ureña, coordinator of the ICT Social Tourism program, said Costa Rica is the first Central American country to implement more inclusive tourism.

“There are other countries like Honduras that intend to implement this type of tourism but still do not do it solidly,” he said. “That is why one of the most important elements is to attract them to the agreement of the International Social Tourism Organization (ILOS) and the Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA).”

The objective of the program is to urge that Costa Rican companies and organizations, whether tourist-focused or not, manage spaces within their operations that facilitate recreational activities aimed at these populations.

Ureña highlighted that the country was for the first time the headquarters of the Meeting of the Americas of Social Tourism — held from June 12 to 15 — which brought together more than 14 countries of the American continents focused on publicizing good practices of solidarity and sustainable tourism.

During this activity, 23 Costa Rican companies obtained their “seal of social tourism.”

Tourism for all people

The activities carried out in La Fortuna were managed by the Arenal Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Anywhere Costa Rica and Arenal Mundo Aventura, companies that are part of the accreditation process carried out by the Social Tourism Program through the ICT.

Tadeo Morales, vice president of the Arenal Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, expressed his satisfaction that the destination has been selected to start the social tourism plan.

“We are a tourist center visited by more than one million tourists per year and endowed with excellent connectivity,” he said. “We have more than 60 parks and attractions, as well as 21 natural attractions, and we represent 10 communities that live directly from tourism. For these reasons, we have to include social tourism in our ecosystem of experiences in order to reach all populations.”

The Minister of Tourism, María Amalia Revelo, said that the Social Tourism Program is possible thanks to private initiatives that seek to improve the quality of life of the Costa Rican population.

Both the minister and the Second Vice President of Costa Rica, Marvin Rodríguez Cordero, stressed that promoting this model of tourism management makes it possible to fulfill the objectives of sustainable development and to “leave no one behind,” according to the vice president.

A more human Costa Rica

Several representatives of other countries that already implement social tourism, such as Chile, Brazil and Mexico, applauded Costa Rica’s commitment.

Francisca Retamal, from the National Tourism Service of Chile, said Costa Rica has enormous potential.

“The work they are doing, for example in Arenal Mundo Aventura, shows that they have made an integration with the people who live in the area, who have built their own hotels, their lodgings, and this is an opportunity for Costa Rica and for those of us who come here from abroad,” she said.

María Paz Lagos, adviser of Sernatur, projected successes for Costa Rica in this model for “the will of the entrepreneurs, the citizens and the public policy sector.”

“What I liked the most about the country are the people,” Lagos said. “I think Costa Ricans are good people, generous, kind, with a quality customer service system, concerned about tourists.

“The landscapes are wonderful, but the important thing is the human warmth that Costa Rica has.”

Semanario Universidad Logo

This story was originally published by Semanario Universidad on June 18, 2019. It was translated with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report here.

Categories: Nacionales

Gold Cup roundup: USA, Mexico earn blowout wins in first games

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 11:49

The 2019 Gold Cup has featured several blowouts and few upsets through each country’s first game.

The Tico Times recaps the first match day for each group.

Group A: Mexico demonstrates its prowess

Mexico exceed high expectations with a 7-0 thrashing of Cuba on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Uriel Antuna scored a hat-trick in just his third appearance with the senior national team. The 21-year-old took advantage of being in the right place at the right time, but that’s a testament to a Mexican attack that decimated Cuba’s defense.

Mexico will face its toughest Group A test on Wednesday night against Canada, which earned a convincing victory of its own in a 4-0 decision over Martinique. Keep an eye on 19-year-old striker Jonathan David, who has the ability to test El Tri‘s back line and keep the match interesting.

Group B: Costa Rica on top, Nicaragua sends home players

As we’ve covered extensively, Costa Rica enjoyed a 4-0 win over Nicaragua at the National Stadium on Sunday.

Earlier that day in La Sabana, Bermuda gave Haiti a scare but fell, 2-1, after allowing a pair of second-half goals. Frantzdy Pierrot scored a brace for Haiti to prevent an upset against the Gold Cup first-timers.

Nicaragua will be shorthanded when it faces Haiti as the country’s soccer federation sent home three players — Marlon Lopez, Carlos Montenegro and Carlos Chavarria — for disciplinary reasons following the defeat in San José.

Group C: Jamaica wins in historic match

Jamaica survived a late Rubilio Castillo goal to beat Honduras, 3-2, in Kingston. The triumph capped a successful first Gold Cup match day in the Caribbean.

Leon Bailey had a disappointing debut for the Reggae Boyz, but Jamaica still put itself in position to claim top spot in the group. Up next is El Salvador — which beat Curaçao 1-0 — in Houston, and all eyes will be on the 21-year-old winger.

Honduras was unfortunate to fall into Jamaica’s group, as the Central Americans played an away match despite being a seeded team. Still, Honduras can remain in contention for a quarterfinal berth with a win against Curaçao.

Group D: United States rolls, but tougher tests await

The United States dominated Guyana, as expected, with Tyler Boyd’s brace leading the North Americans to a 4-0 victory.

It only gets harder, though, as the U.S. now faces a Trinidad & Tobago side that will be desperate for a win following a 2-0 defeat to Panama. Normally, a USA-Trinidad & Tobago match wouldn’t have too much intrigue, but remember the Soca Warriors defeated the United States in 2018 World Cup qualifying.

Assuming no upsets, Group D is setting up for a decisive meeting between Panama and the United States next Wednesday in Kansas City.

Categories: Nacionales

Letters from the trail: Hiking the Camino de Costa Rica (Part 1)

Wed, 06/19/2019 - 10:11

Earlier this year, we told you about Camino de Costa Rica, a 280-km hike from Costa Rica’s Atlantic to its Pacific coast. 

Reader Garry Wallace recently completed the Camino de Costa Rica, and he wrote a series of stories recounting the experience. Below is Part 1. 

***

I am a boutique hotel owner who has been living in Quepos for the past two-and-a-half years.  Originally Canadian, I did the hike to learn more about the country I have come to love, Costa Rica.  In the past, I have hiked more than 600 kms on the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain, and have trekked the Incan trail to Machu Picchu in Peru twice and a multi-day trek in Central Myanmar.  Obviously, I love walking.

Fun facts about Camino de Costa Rica:

  • El Camino is two weeks and 280 kms long.
  • During the hike, you climb and descend 17,000 ft.
  • For every one degree of climb from the horizontal, walking becomes 5% more difficult.
  • It is the only Camino that crosses a continent.
  • More people have summited Mount Everest than have hiked the entire Camino de Costa Rica.
  • El Camino crosses through seven of Costa Rica’s 11 microclimates.
Caribbean origins as el Camino begins

I woke up on first morning of El Camino excited but nervous.

Excited for the opportunity to know my adopted country in a way few get to experience.  A chance to travel through Costa Rica in the best way possible: at a walking pace. To interact with the people, walk through the different environments, taste the local foods, take in the sights and spot the animals.

Nervous that I was up to the challenge, nervous that my feet wouldn’t carry me the distance, nervous that the mountains would beat me.

Our group on Day 1 symbolically touched the Caribbean Sea, under a scorching sun.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

Then we hiked through the Pecuare Reserve, a protected preserve that offered many bird sightings, including watching a Agami Heron nesting area from a blind, just yards away. Dozens of Herons preened, tended their nests and fed their young.  It was incredible.

Getting to our lodgings for the night meant a boat transfer across one of the many canals along this part of the coast.  It was an exciting ride where we spotted crocodiles, and many bird species.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

A relatively easy day with a peaceful sleep at a lodge made for a great first experience. Falling asleep was easy to the night music of the jungle.

The next two days passed quickly.  Wonderful people, Caribbean houses unchanged for the last century, and great, spicy Caribe food.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

As we moved farther into volcano country, climbing ever higher over Siquirres, my feet began to protest the distances we were piling up.  Two toenails became painfully infected, but fortunately, our hiking group had two medical professionals who advised me on proper care — which saved my Camino, but sadly, not the toenails.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

As our group pushed further west toward the Pacific, we visited indigenous villages (more on that later), saw incredible vistas from the heights, spotted nature at ease (away from urban centers), slept at home-stays and rustic cabanas, took in a butterfly garden and ate delicious local cuisines every day.

Photo by Garry Wallace.

We were definitely getting in the groove and climbing ever higher.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow! 

Garry Wallace is a managing partner at Serenity Boutique Hotel in Quepos, Puntarenas.  Learn more at www.serenityhotelcostarica.com

Categories: Nacionales

Vice President Campbell discusses goal to ‘defend the rights of all, to speak for those who are silent’

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 13:44

Costa Rica’s First Vice President, Epsy Campbell, spoke this week as a guest of honor at the Eighth Biennial Conference of the Jamaican Diaspora in Kingston.

Campbell, the first female vice president of African descent in Latin America, recalled her grandmother’s efforts to provide a better life for her children.

Here’s what she said, per a transcript from Casa Presidencial:

Nearly 100 years ago, she crossed the sea with her father. In Jamaica were her mother and brothers. She was only 10 years old, but she already had the assignment to take care of the domestic chores while her father, a mechanical engineer, worked in the railroad in the Costa Rican Caribbean.

My name is Epsy, like my grandmother, a brave black woman. I never met her, but my father told me beautiful stories and for me, Miss Epsy is one of the central pillars of my life.

My grandmother left early every day to work in the fields and came back at night to do the jobs at home, day after day, day after day. She was the first person to get up and the last to go to bed. She worked tirelessly so that her children and grandchildren would not go through the same difficulties.

Being the first is not easy, and nobody said it would be. But even in the most difficult moments of my political career, I had the memory of my grandmother, of my ancestors, of all those who worked in inhuman conditions, to create for us an easier path.

Since I was a child I understood the power of my voice. That is why I have dedicated my whole life to defend the rights of all, to speak for those who are silent, for those who suffer, for those who are afraid.

During her speech, Vice President Campbell called for building equitable, just and non-discriminatory societies.

“For me, the seed of hope that is beginning to germinate are the younger people who raise their voices bravely, reminding even the oldest people to dream of a world full of opportunities,” she said.

As part of her visit to Jamaica, Campbell met with the Caribbean country’s Security Minister to “discuss the serious situation of illicit drug and arms trafficking between Jamaica and Costa Rica,” according to Casa Presidencial.

She will return to Costa Rica on Tuesday night.

 

Categories: Nacionales

Costa Rica named one of world’s best billfish destinations

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 09:32

The fishing charter website FishingBooker has named Costa Rica as the fourth-best billfish destination in the world.

The list — based entirely on customer preferences and reviews, according to a FishingBooker spokesperson — ranked Costa Rica ahead of the Florida Keys, calling the country’s Pacific Coast “nothing short of paradise.”

“The country doubles as a fun vacation spot and an epic Billfish destination: start your day with a morning of huge fish, then roar through the jungle on a 4×4 before lunch, capping the day off by enjoying the awesome nightlife in places like Quepos and Tamarindo,” the ranking reads. “Costa Rica’s waters provide some of the best hotspots on the planet to land monster-sized fish – it just depends when you go.”

Here is the full list of top-ranked billfish destinations:

  1. Cairns, Australia
  2. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  3. Mauritius
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Florida Keys, USA
  6. Puerto Rico
  7. Fiji

Check out some of our recent stories on billfish in The Tico Times:

Categories: Nacionales

Fishing for freight trains

Tue, 06/18/2019 - 06:00

In my youth, I loved rock music.  Led Zepplin, The Who, The Rolling Stones and the likes were at the top of my playlist. As each of my children entered their teen years, they reminded me of how I must have driven my mother absolutely out of her mind. Today, I still listen to old rock music, but more often than not, I find myself following my redneck roots, listening to country music. My fishing kind of took the same path.

I used to love to chase big fish. The bigger, the better. Where I’m from, it was tarpon and big sharks. After moving to Costa Rica, I added marlin and big tuna to the list. My biggest tuna here weighed more than 280 pounds. I sweated for just over three hours to land the fish and loved every second of the battle. I’m not up to multiple-hour endurance tests anymore, and Costa Rica has the perfect fish for this kind of thinking: the cubera snapper.

I love this fish for two reasons. The fish has the power to bring you to your knees, and more than half the time, the fish wins.

Costa Rica has cubera snapper on both coasts. Huge fish have been taken out of Parismina, Tortuguero, and Barra del Colorado on the Caribbean side, but they are much more prolific on the Pacific coast. They look like a giant aquatic pumpkin with big canine teeth and have the strength of a locomotive.

Holding a cubera snapper. Photo via Todd Staley.

The Pacific side and its volcanic reefs make perfect habitat for how cubera snapper operate. They hang casually above and around the reef, and go on attack when hungry or quickly rush into a cave or under a rock when threatened — or when hooked by an angler. Stopping one before they reach the rock is like winning an arm-wrestling match with the Hulk.

Years ago, the norm was to troll over a reef until you caught a nice size bonito, then bridle a hook to his nose and send him back down on 80 lb tackle. Now, it takes several seconds for even a huge snapper to gulp down 3- to 5-pound bait. The whole time this is happening, the snapper is racing down toward the reef, because other fish have noticed and they want a piece of the action. So timing is everything. You have to give him enough time to eat, but not too much or he will be already cozy in his volcanic home before you set the hook and you won’t have a chance.

Today with high-gear-ratio reels and braided lined lines, big snapper can be taken on much lighter gear. Throwing poppers has become a popular way to fish them. Snapper will come up from a 100 feet of water to take a popper. Even though the gear is much lighter, zipping a popper across the surface all day is a true test of stamina.

Last time out, I finished my day with snapper winning the game 3 to 1. I did get a nice 38 lb fish and was singing Toby Keith’s lyrics in my head: “I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I always was.”

Later, I walked into my house and heard strange PlayStation noises coming from the TV and some type of Spanish rap music coming from one of the bedrooms. I quietly slid in one of Toby’s discs, cranked it up and drove my kids absolutely crazy.

Todd Staley has run fishing sport operations on both coasts of Costa Rica for more than 25 years. He recently decided to take some time off to devote full-time to marine conservation and is the communications director at FECOP. Contact him at wetline@hotmail.com.

Categories: Nacionales

Costa Rica recognizes ‘sacrifice and dignity’ of freed journalist Lucía Pineda Ubáu

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 13:03

The Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Manuel Ventura Robles, acknowledged the work and sacrifice of journalist Lucía Pineda Ubáu, who spent 172 days illegally and unjustly imprisoned in Nicaragua’s La Esperanza Women’s Prison by orders of Daniel Ortega’s regime. 

Lucía Pineda Ubáu, who has dual-citizenship of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, met last week with diplomats from Costa Rica, who since her arrest on Dec. 21, 2018 at the offices of “100% Noticias” in Managua sought to protect due process and the journalist’s safety.

Ventura recalled that on Feb. 11, 2019, he had welcomed to his office Lucía Ubáu, the journalist’s mother, and her uncle, Alejandro Ubáu, and promised to provide the necessary support.

“The journalist, when she was arrested, had been dedicated to reporting on the events that led the Nicaraguans to demonstrate against mistreatment, persecution and violence,” Ventura said. “That’s when she herself was hit by the repressive wave of the regime of Nicaragua and taken prisoner.”

More political prisoners remain to be freed

Ventura said there are others like Lucía Pineda Ubáu, who with “sacrifice and dignity remind us that sometimes the daily work of doing our jobs makes some uncomfortable.” 

Ventura also stressed Costa Rica’s commitment to journalism, freedoms and human rights in Nicaragua.

Pineda was released on June 12, 2019, through an Amnesty Law approved on June 8 of this year, by Nicaragua’s National Assembly, which is dominated by Ortega allies. The released political prisoners have expressed that they did not need such a ruling, arguing they are innocent of the charges invented by a Prosecutor’s Office dominated by the regime.

More than 400 political prisoners have been freed, but there are still 85 prisoners of the regime in prison.

Read the original story in Spanish at La Prensa, first published on June 14, 2019.

This story was translated into English and republished in The Tico Times as part of a partnership with La Prensa to help bring their coverage of the Nicaraguan crisis to an English-speaking audience.

Categories: Nacionales

Costa Rica will host RightsCon 2020

Mon, 06/17/2019 - 12:32

Costa Rica will host the 2020 convention of RightsCon, which calls itself “the world’s leading event on human rights in the digital age.”

The announcement was made Friday at the close of RightsCon 2019 in Tunis, where more than 2,500 people from 130 countries were in attendance.

RightsCon, which was first held in 2011, welcomes global leaders “to build partnerships, shape global norms, showcase new technologies, and confront the most challenging issues at the intersection of human rights and technology,” according to the event’s website.

“More than an event, RightsCon is a global community with thousands of leading voices across stakeholder lines,” the site reads. “It is an energizing reminder of the existence of a powerful global digital rights community that is determined to defend human rights and keep the internet open and free.”

Luis Adrián Salazar, the Minister of Science, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT), said in a statement that “it is not a coincidence” Costa Rica was selected as hosts.

“Last October, we presented the Digital Transformation Strategy for Costa Rica, where we focus on people and human rights in the digital era,” he said. “In order to have a real impact on people, we work hand-in-hand with the private sector, academia and civil society.

“At this time, our country has set goals in topics such as 5G, innovation, disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence, data protection and cybersecurity, to name a few.” 

Previous RightsCons have been held in Silicon Valley, Toronto and Rio de Janeiro.

RightsCon 2020 in San José, Costa Rica is scheduled from June 8-12.

Categories: Nacionales

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