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Updated: 8 hours 3 sec ago

Vaccinating children against measles is ‘an obligation’ for adults in Costa Rica

6 hours 34 min ago

Measles have been reintroduced in Costa Rica this year thanks to two foreign families that vacationed or reside here and were not vaccinated against the virus, the Health Ministry says.

But Daniel Salas Peraza, the Minister of Health, was firm Thursday in asserting “there will not be an epidemic of measles in our country,” citing Costa Rica’s national immunization efforts.

According to The World Bank, 96 percent of Costa Rican children ages 12-23 months are vaccinated against measles. That’s among the highest rates in Latin America and is better than in the United States (92 percent) and France (90 percent), two countries from which contagious visitors have entered Costa Rica since last month.

The Health Ministry is currently running a national campaign to promote the measles vaccine. The initiative began last December and ends March 31.

“The campaign […] aims to increase protection in the child population and prevent the reintroduction of measles in the country,” Salas said. “The World Health Organization recommends carrying out a vaccination campaign against measles at least every 5 years, according to the epidemiological profile of the country, to guarantee protection.”

The Health Ministry reminded parents to vaccinate their children through the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS). Alternatively, the vaccine can be purchased and administered at private clinics.

Children should receive two doses of the vaccine: the first at 15 months and the second upon starting school, according to the Health Ministry.

In Costa Rica, vaccinating children is “an obligation” for parents, according to the Child Welfare Office (PANI).

“It is an obligation of fathers, mothers and adults to take children between 15 months and 10 years old to be vaccinated,” said the Minister of Children and Adolescents, Patricia Vega Herrera. “This is to fulfill the right to health and the duties of protection and care.”

PANI says that in 2018 it received more than 14,000 children whose parents or guardians did not adequately provide for their health. That includes children who were not vaccinated.

“The General Health Law (Ley General de Salud) sanctions parents or guardians who oppose this vaccination,” the organization said in a press release. “PANI can intervene through the Court of Childhood and Adolescence, since the most serious complications are blindness, pneumonia and brain inflammation and in some cases, death.”

The Pan American Health Organization says there were more than 16,000 confirmed measles cases and at least 86 deaths in the Americas in 2018. Ten countries in the Americas have reported measles cases this year: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, the United States and Venezuela.

The measles vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1963.

Measles symptoms start with a high fever, cough and conjunctivitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Within a week of symptoms beginning, a rash breaks out.

“It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet,” according to the CDC.

The Ministry of Health says “all parents whose child exhibit symptoms that could be measles […] should consult medical assistance immediately.”

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Categories: Nacionales

How to file a criminal complaint, or ‘denuncia,’ in Costa Rica

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 14:00

In Costa Rica, a criminal complaint can report workplace harassment, a home invasion or sexual assault, among other crimes related to the state. Any person who is in Costa Rica — adult or a minor, national or foreign — can file one.

You can submit a criminal complaint in a variety of ways, including through your local police station or Prosecutor’s Office (Fiscalía), the tourist police or — as the United States Embassy recommends — the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ). 

Each government institution handles different types of criminal complaints.  Three institutions that offer an online portal or form are the Comptroller General (Contraloría de la República); the Ombudswoman’s Office (Defensoría de los Habitantes); and the Public Security Ministry (Ministerio de Seguridad Pública), which provides this online form.

The Ombudswoman’s online portal features questions in Spanish, but responses can be submitted in English (scroll down to “How To” for a complete translation of the questions asked). For the Comptroller General, you can stop by their San José office in Sabana Sur (scroll down to “How To” for all directions and links), call the office, write an email or a letter, or submit a form through the online portal.

The Comptroller’s portal focuses on complaints about misuse of public funds, but the institution will also receive criminal complaints and refer them to the appropriate institution, and officials from the office told The Tico Times they are prepared to provide assistance to English speakers.

The complaint should contain a description of the facts in a precise, clear and complete manner with sufficient detail to allow further assessment. The complaint should be guided by the following questions: (1) What happened? (2) Who is the alleged perpetrator? (3) How did it happen? (4) Where did it happen? (5) Why did it happen?

It is also necessary to include names, circumstances, places, dates, details about the event being denounced, an estimate of any economic damage (if applicable), and evidence such as documents or witnesses.

The life of a criminal complaint in Costa Rica

No matter what institution receives the complaint, after it is filed, a number is assigned to track the status of the complaint. The office handling the complaint determines the facts of the case under the guidelines of the state. If accepted, the complaint could be further investigated or transferred to an internal unit within the government.

Investigations are carried out if there are enough elements to pursue a conviction. While this differs in every case, the clearer, more detailed and precise the information provided, the more elements the office will have to pursue an investigation.

If a complaint being reviewed is outside the scope of competence of the department to which it was submitted, authorities will give advice to the person filing the complaint so the situation can be solved in an appropriate manner.

Anonymous criminal complaints can be filed, but if anonymity limits the ability for further investigation, authorities may ask the person filing the complaint for more information; otherwise, the denuncia may be archived. Confidentiality will be maintained if there is danger to the moral or physical integrity of the person filing the complaint. In cases of sexual harassment, people with HIV or AIDS, or minors under 15 presumed as either victims or perpetrators, confidentiality is guaranteed. When the age of the minor is equal or greater to 15 but under 18, the person filing the complaint will be consulted regarding their confidentiality in the case.

There is currently no legal deadline for a complaint to be made, though there may be a statute of limitations for investigations or further legal action. Once the case is concluded, the person who filed the complaint will be informed about what the state has established.

How to submit a criminal complaint in Costa Rica 

The following steps will guide you through submitting a criminal complaint through the Ombudswoman’s online portal. Although the questions are in Spanish, you may answer in English.

To reiterate, a criminal complaint can also be filed through your local police station or prosecutor’s office, the tourist police and the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ). The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens report crimes to the OIJ and contact the Embassy for assistance.

However you submit a denuncia, you will be asked similar questions to those found in the Ombudswoman’s portal, translated below.

  • ¿Deseo que mi Denuncia sea Confidencial?
    • Do you want your criminal complaint to be presented as confidential?
  • Menor de Edad
    • Are you a minor?
  • Tipo de Identificación
    • Type of Identification: You can choose from an identity or resident card, passport or others.
  • Número de Identificación
    • Identification number from one of these documents
  • Fecha de Nacimiento
    • Date of birth
  • Nombre y Apellidos
    • First and Last Names
  • Institución o empresa para la cual labora actualmente
    • Company or institution you are currently working at
  • Lugar o medio para la cual labora actualmente
    • Place you are currently working
  • Dirección
    • Direction to this place
  • Numero de Telefono
    • Telephone number
  • Fax Denunciante  
    • Fax
  • Correo Electronico
    • E-mail
  • Apartado Postal
    • Post Office Box
  • Institución donde ocurrieron los hechos (Lista)
    • A list where the events occurred
  • Digite el nombre en caso de que no se encuentre en la lista anterior
    • If not in the previous list, type out the accused’s name 
  • Descripción de los Hechos
    • Description of the facts
  • Si usted conoce un estimado del monto de los fondos públicos afectados por favor indíquelo aquí
    • Estimate of the public funds affected
  • Ha denunciado este caso ante otras instancias? Puede señalarlas en este espacio
    • Have you denounced this case in other instances? You can bring them up in this space.
  • Pruebas o documentos que sustenten los Hechos denunciados
    • Evidence or documents supporting the presented facts
  • No se han adjuntado documentos de prueba
    • This indicates no documents have been attached
  • Si conoce personas que podrían ampliar o aportar otros elementos sobre los hechos denunciados, puede agregarlos aquí. Debe señalar al menos un medio para localizar a las personas citadas en su denuncia.
    • If you know people who could contribute or expand on other elements of the reported facts, you can add them here. Indicate a way to locate the people cited in the complaint. The process can also be done in person at the San José offices.

You can send the same information to the following institutions, among others, to initiate a criminal complaint: 

Verbal reports can also be made in person. Here is a link to all OIJ offices in Costa Rica, many of which are open 24 hours a day. The Contraloría General de la Republica offices are located in Sabana Sur, San José, off the intersections of Avenida 12 and Calle 50. 

Here is a map with contact information for all prosecutors’ offices across Costa Rica.

Disclaimer: The Tico Times consulted the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) and Comptroller General’s Office for this story. However, we are not lawyers and this should not be considered legal advice. 

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

Off the eaten path: Aroi Thai

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 10:08

Aro Thai was the first Thai restaurant in Costa Rica.

They started as a delivery-only service before opening a restaurant in Ciudad Colon in 2013. Then they closed about six months ago and recently reemerged in the Mata Ratonda district of San José.

The chef and owner are still the same though and so is the great food.

Aroi Thai is the labor of love of Steffen Hofmann. His inspiration to open the restaurant came after he traveled to Thailand for three months. When he came back to Costa Rica, he had a woman from Thailand fly over and stay with him and teach him the authentic recipes he serves today. It wasn’t easy, he told me, but it was worth it.

Chef Hofmann has a four-page menu with what you would expect to find at a Thai restaurant. The greatest hits, if you will. I’d recommend the som tam, the panang curry and the chicken pad thai. They were all absolutely delicious.

Som tam, or green papaya salad, is a perfect way to start your meal. It’s fresh and crisp, with a sour and kind of funky dressing based off of fish sauce. For me, it is addicting and I would never get tired of eating it.

Som tam, the green papaya salad (William Ayre / The Tico Times)

The salad under the dressing is shredded unripe papaya, shredded carrot, tomato and peanuts make up this salad. It costs 5,000 colones, or about $8.20, and is big enough for two people.

The panang curry is made with red curry paste, sweet pepper, kaffir lime and your choice of chicken, beef or shrimp. It’s served with a small side of jasmine rice. You’re probably not going to want to share this one. I chose chicken and it cost 6,900 colones, or about $11.31.

Panang curry (William Ayre / The Tico Times)

Then, of course, there’s the famous pad thai. You can choose your protein with this one too. Again, I chose chicken. It cost of 7,000 colones, or about $11.48. This pad thai is made with a special tamarind sauce that they make in-house. It makes it different than the rest of the pad thais I’ve tried, but in a good way.

But like all pad thais, the rice noodles are tossed sauce, mixed with the chicken, some egg, green onions, and roasted peanuts. There is some chili powder and a slice of lime on the side. Use both to top it off and dig in.

Pad Thai with tamarind sauce. (William Ayre / The Tico Times)

I had a glass of their iced Thai tea with sweetened condensed milk (1,800 colones or $2.95). These go down too easy, so be careful not to fill up before the meal hits the table.

Alcohol is limited to an assortment of wines, sangria, and gin and tonics. But this place is all about the food and going out for something new or different.

(William Ayre / The Tico Times)

Aroi Thai is a quaint restaurant, on an unsuspecting street on the north side of La Sabana park. There is traditional Thai music playing, and Thai imagery and decorations all around the restaurant. This 37-seat restaurant, which is split up over 11 tables, does accept reservations, but they are not required. If you plan to visit the weekend after this article is published, I’d recommend reserving.

Hofmann was born in Colorado and speaks fluent English. He’s lived in Costa Rica for the majority of his life though and considers Costa Rica home. He and I actually graduated from the same high school in Escazú, but we were a few years apart and never met until I started to eat at his restaurant. His fiancé helps him with the service and management side of Aroi Thai, making it a real family business.

The exterior of Aroi Thai (William Ayre / The Tico Times)

Aroi Thai is open every day except for Mondays. From Tuesday to Friday, they are open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Major credit cards are accepted and menu prices do not include taxes. Vegetarian options are available and so is street parking. Check their Facebook page as they sometimes have promotions like 2×1 sangria. They always offer a menu ejecutivo for those looking to dine on more of a budget; not that this is by any means an expensive restaurant. Search “Aroi Thai” in Waze or Uber to arrive conveniently.

William Ayre is a Canadian born chef and restaurateur who has spent the last half of his life doing business in Costa Rica, where he now considers to be home. Inspired by Anthony Bourdain, Ayre’s passion of experiencing different cultures through food has taken him to 35 different countries over five continents. Whether it’s a 20-course meal at a fine dining restaurant in Toronto, or cantina hopping in search for the best chifrijo here in San José, he fits in just fine.

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

Costa Rica confirms measles cases in children of United States citizens

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 15:30

Costa Rica is enacting a National Surveillance Protocol after confirming two cases of measles, the Health Ministry announced Thursday afternoon.

The Health Ministry had announced four suspected cases earlier Thursday and had sent specimens to labs for confirmation.

The symptoms were reported in children aged between 3 and 10 years old in Cóbano, Puntarenas, the Health Ministry said in a statement. The children were not vaccinated against measles by their parents, who are United States citizens, the Health Ministry said.

The Health Ministry believes the virus was imported to Costa Rica by a United States citizen who left the country March 12.

“There will not be an epidemic of measles in our country,” said Daniel Salas Peraza, the Minister of Health, citing the country’s vaccination initiatives. “But obviously, we don’t want any child to suffer from measles or face the complications measles can cause.”

The children displaying measles symptoms are part of a family with nine children and remain under strict quarantine, the Health Ministry said. The organization is determining who the family may have come in contact with to decide what additional preventative measures are needed.

“All parents whose child exhibit symptoms that could be measles […] should consult medical assistance immediately to determine if it’s measles and to take necessary measures,” the Health Ministry said.

The Health Ministry believes there is no relationship between the four suspected cases and the French family that reintroduced measles to Costa Rica last month. Those cases, Costa Rica’s first since 2014, also involved an unvaccinated child.

“There is a vaccine at one year, three months and another upon starting school, and they are essential to prevent measles in the country,” the Health Ministry said.

Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in mucus and can spread through coughing and sneezing. The virus can also survive for two hours in an airspace where the infected person has coughed or sneezed, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC estimates measles killed 500 people annually in the United States before a vaccine was developed in 1963.

The CDC recommends “all children get two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.”

This story was updated at 4 p.m. with confirmation of measles from the Health Ministry. 

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Categories: Nacionales

Priest accused of sexual abuse arrested trying to leave Costa Rica

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 11:04

A Costa Rican Catholic priest accused of sexual abuse of a minor was arrested Thursday as he tried to leave the country by land to Panama, the prosecutor’s office said.

The priest was arrested at the border post of Paso Canoas, the main border crossing with Panama, when trying to leave the country, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

“The Deputy Prosecutor for Gender Affairs confirmed the arrest of a priest with last name Morales Salazar in Paso Canoas, when he was trying to leave the country,” the institution said in a brief statement.

The statement added that “Salazar is being investigated as a suspect in committing an alleged sex crime, so he will be transferred to San José, where a preliminary statement will be taken, and the request for precautionary measures will be assessed later.”

The case of the priest Jorge Arturo Morales Salazar came to light recently when Semanario Universidad published the testimony of Fabian Arguedas, 27, a student who said he had suffered abuses by the priest throughout two years during his adolescence.

His parents submitted a complaint to hierarchy of the Catholic Church, according to the story. On Friday of last week, Arguedas went to the prosecutor’s office to file a criminal complaint against Salazar.

Under Costa Rican law, allegations of sexual abuse of minors expire 10 years after the victim reaches 18 years of age.

Arguedas will reach that age in next December.

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

Construction to begin on new terminal at Limón Airport

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 10:44

The airport in Limón will soon have a modern passenger terminal and is slated to receive several other upgrades as part of a nearly $3 million investment, Costa Rica’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) said Thursday.

DGAC and the Technical Council of the Civil Aviation Authority (CETAC) have given an order to start construction on the new terminal, which they say will comply with recommendations from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The new terminal will include passenger waiting areas, government offices, a fire-suppression systems, and sewer and wastewater treatment facilities. It will also allow for separating domestic and international passengers, which could allow the airport to receive regular international flights.

The airport project was declared in the municipal interest in February 2018. The connectivity-improvement plans also include upgrades to the Guápiles Aerodrome.

Limón International Airport has a single 5,905-feet runway, which is below the typical takeoff length a narrow-body commercial aircraft would require carrying enough fuel for an international flight.

Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in Alajuela inaugurated last month a $23.5 million expansion featuring four additional gates, a restaurant, a VIP lounge and a pet playground.

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

Nicaragua govt agrees to prisoner release to restart opposition talks

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 10:42

Nicaragua’s government agreed on Wednesday to release opposition prisoners within 90 days in order to restart stalled peace talks aimed at ending an 11-month political crisis, a dialogue mediator said.

Organization of American States special envoy Luis Angel Rosadilla said in a press conference that President Daniel Ortega’s government had agreed to release “all the people detained in the context of the protests” that began in April last year, leaving over 700 people behind bars and 325 dead.

The agreement includes a call on sanctions against Ortega’s regime to be lifted.

The number of prisoners due to be released was not given.

On Monday, the opposition alliance suspended talks that had begun on Feb. 27 after 100 protesters were temporarily detained on Saturday by police who used tear gas to prevent a protest against Ortega’s government.

The Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) had said on Tuesday it would not resume talks until all “political prisoners” are released and the repression of anti-regime protesters ends.

Releases could begin this week and “there will be no-one held beyond those 90 days,” said businessman Jose Aguerri, a Civic Alliance member.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is due to monitor the process.

The two parties have agreed on a six-point negotiation process to accompany the releases and have asked for international support in implementing the agreements reached, according to a statement issued by the presidency.

“A call will be made to the international community to suspend sanctions to facilitate the right to the human, economic and social development of Nicaragua, favoring the most vulnerable sections of the population,” said the statement.

Nicaragua’s government has been hit by U.S. sanctions and the threat of more from the European Union since trouble broke out last year.

The country has been mired in political crisis since protests broke out initially over a now-scrapped pension reform before snowballing into wider anger at Ortega’s rule.

Alongside his wife and vice president Rosario Murillo, he is accused of rights abuses and authoritarian leadership.

One of the key opposition demands was for Ortega to step down and bring forward elections slated for 2021, something the 73-year-old former left-wing guerrilla has rejected out of hand.

The Civic Alliance had also suspended the talks for three days last week until the government agreed to release some prisoners.

Around 150 prisoners have been released since the talks began last month, although only to house arrest.

The opposition has demanded their total liberation.

The union of business leaders, part of the ACJD, said Saturday’s crackdown showed that “we’re faced with a police state that doesn’t allow the expression of the fundamental constitutional rights of all Nicaraguans.”

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

The Tico Times is now available on Apple News

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:00

For more than 60 years, The Tico Times has remained committed to providing its readers with independent, unique and quality journalism.

You can read us online, pick up our print edition, watch our Weekly Digest news recaps, listen to our podcast or just follow us on Instagram for the sloth pictures. And today, we’re excited to announce that The Tico Times is now available on Apple News.

Click here to follow The Tico Times on Apple News

On Apple News, you will find a selection of our top stories optimized for your iPhone, iPad or Mac. Follow The Tico Times’ channel to stay up-to-date with Costa Rica news, and save your favorite stories in the Apple News app to read later.

Following us on Apple News is absolutely free.

Apple News is available on iPhones and iPads running iOS 9 or later, and on computers running macOS 10.14 or later.

Click here to learn more about Apple News or click here to visit The Tico Times’ channel.

Categories: Nacionales

Tico Times #TBT: Irazú Volcano’s two-year eruption

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 07:00

In March 1963, Irazú Volcano began a period of eruptions that would last two years.

The below video, via the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI), is a reminder of how life in Costa Rica was affected by the volcanic activity.


The first scenes show United States President John F. Kennedy’s historic visit to Costa Rica — which coincided with ash beginning to fall in the Central Valley.

The whole video is well worth a watch, if only for the dramatic musical score that accompanies black-and-white footage of the eruptions.

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

UN Committee Against Torture concerned by prison overcrowding in Costa Rica

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 15:00

A United Nations committee expressed its concern regarding the high rate of incarceration in the country’s prisons.

The committee in question was the sub-committee for the Prevention of Torture, which was in the country over the last two weeks visiting penitentiary centers and meeting with guards and involved parties.

“We think it is important to stress that the public policies aimed at reducing prison overpopulation should not be focused on building new prisons, but rather on new criminal policies with the aim to reduce the rate of incarceration,” said Fehér Pérez, who led the delegation of the committee.

The delegation of the UN visited 23 places in different parts of the country, including penitentiary centers, police stations, branches of the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), a juvenile detention center and psychiatric establishments.

The subcommittee will give a confidential report to the government, in which it will include its observations and recommendations to prevent torture and guarantee the human rights of inmates. The subcommittee has invited the Costa Rican government to publish this report.

Without stating if it will be published or not, the Ministry of Justice says it will have a period of time in order to make observations on the report once it is presented. The document will be delivered in a period of three to six months.

The presentation of a new method in order to account for prison spaces was presented last Monday by the Ministry of Justice, an act that coincided with the visit of the delegation from the UN.

Overcrowding on the rise

The rate of overcrowding reached 30 percent at the end of February, according to the new measurement methodology of prison population that was carried out by the Ministry of Justice, which included juvenile centers in the final count. If traditional measurement were to be maintained, the rate of overcrowding would reach 37 percent.

The majority of centers had a considerable increase in the last two months. For example, the rate of overpopulation in the prison of Limón was 39 percent in December. This figure reached 85 percent at the end of February.

The Ministry of Justice aims to create new spaces to respond to the high influx of prison inmates. In the case of women’s prisons, the government is working to make use of some annexes, which are currently disused, to create 63 new spaces.

Last December, this prison reported — for the first time in several years — an overpopulation of 3 percent (641 inhabitants in 621 spaces), according to data from the Ministry of Justice.

Costa Rica’s Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture found that between Aug. 6 and Nov. 18, 213 women entered the prison, while only 147 were released in the same period. This meant that in just two months, 66 new spaces were filled.

This story first appeared in Semanario Universidad. It was translated and republished with permission. Read the original version here

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Categories: Nacionales

The Tico Times on Radio Dos: Community organizes to fight fires

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:30

Did you hear The Tico Times on Radio Dos this morning?

The Tico Times has teamed with Radio Dos to give you 90 seconds of news every Wednesday during “Margie in the Morning.” Listen to the segment below, or tune in next week to hear it live.

This week, Assistant Editor Alexander Villegas discussed Bomberos de Nosara, the volunteer firefighters who helped protect their town from a raging wildfire.

Read the full story in The Tico Times here:

Volunteer firefighters mobilize to protect Nosara from wildfires

 

And if you’re looking for more audio content from The Tico Times, check out our podcast, The Tico Times Dispatch. You can subscribe on iTunesStitcher and Google Play Music.

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

Venezuelan diplomat in Costa Rica accuses Guaidó-appointed ambassador of usurping embassy

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:30

The diplomatic representation of Venezuela in Costa Rica accused in court the ambassador appointed by Juan Guaidó of usurpation after she occupied the country’s embassy.

Attorney Celso Gamboa told ameliarueda.com that he filed the complaint against the diplomat María Faría, who was designated as Venezuelan ambassador to Costa Rica by Guaidó.

Guaidó is recognized as Venezuela’s acting president by more than 50 countries, including Costa Rica.

The complaint is based on the fact that on Feb. 20, Faría and a group of Venezuelans forcibly entered the embassy’s headquarters in the Costa Rican capital. The events occurred five days after the local chancellery had allowed a period of two months for representatives appointed by Nicolás Maduro to leave the property.

The representative of Guaidó evacuated staff appointed by Maduro, citing a need to audit the premises. That generated a strong response from the Costa Rican government, which asked her to withdraw from the headquarters.

“The violent and clandestine dispossession is classified in the Costa Rican legislation as the crime of usurpation and, added to that, these people also managed to obtain the ownership of the bank accounts of the Venezuelan embassy in Costa Rica,” Gamboa told the site.

Gamboa announced that he has asked to suspend banking secrecy for those accounts.

The deadline granted by Costa Rica for Maduro-appointed representatives to vacate the diplomatic headquarters in San José is April 15.

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Categories: Nacionales

Sunset Studio to showcase talents of Costa Rican artists

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 09:00

Milena Astorga, owner of Sunset Studio, has organized an event to showcase the work of several Costa Rican artists, including Juan Carlos Camacho, Leda Astorga and Milo González. The exhibition will take place at the Bahía del Sol Hotel in Potrero Beach, Guanacaste from March 24-31.

Sunset Studios got its name from the beautiful sunsets in Guanacaste – where Astorga dreams to one day open an art gallery on the beach. Sunset Studio specializes in promoting Costa Rican artists, whom Astorga says rarely receive the attention and recognition they deserve. It boasts a wide variety of art, including paintings, sculptures, music, dance and literature.

Juan Carlos Camacho.

Juan Carlos Camacho, Leda Astorga and Milo González will all be present throughout the exhibition to answer questions about their technique and motivation. Astorga believes that building relationships with the public will strengthen understanding and appreciation of Costa Rican works of art.

Artist, painter and architect Juan Carlos Camacho was born in Heredia and studied architecture at the University of Costa Rica. His work has been featured in 50 joint and 25 individual exhibitions around the world and has won him a variety of awards, including the “Grano de Oro” prize.

Leda Astorga.

Sculptor Leda Astorga received her degree in visual arts from the University of Costa Rica. Her work has been displayed worldwide, including in Panama, Taiwan, the United States and Chile. She has been described by Adriano Corrales Arias, Costa Rican writer and researcher, as “an artist that has developed her work with tenacity, observation and clarity, but fundamentally, with a nonchalance and a dedication, rarely seen in the media.” She has also won numerous awards, most notably the Aquileo J. Echeverría National Sculpture Prize in 1999.

Milo González.

As a child, Milo González was fascinated by illustrations, which often produced in him hypnotic effects. Those reactions inspired him to become an artist. Today, his style is more figurative, but it remains difficult to attribute to one specific artistic classification.

“The work creates itself,” he said. “I am only a barely conscious spectator.”

Home visits can be arranged, allowing certain members of the public with particularly demanding work schedules the opportunity to see — and purchase — works of art at their house or office. Virtual tours of the gallery will also be available at the Sunset Studio website.

With this exhibition, Astorga says she has created a “more fun and welcoming space” that will allow a “direct connection” between artist and spectator. She hopes the opportunity to view beautiful art and understand the mind of the artist will heighten the experience.

The main exhibition will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. each day from March 24-31, at the Bahía del Sol Hotel. Juan Carlos Camacho and Leda Astorga will be offering a workshop from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. March 25 and 28, respectively.

Entry to the main gallery is free, and there is an entry fee of 15,000 colones (about $25) for Leda Astorga and Juan Carlos Camacho’s workshops, which include materials, a glass of wine and canapés.

For more information on the artists and the featured works, visit the Sunset Studio website at https://www.sunsetstudiocr.com.

Links to the artists’ profiles can be found here:

This story was sponsored by Sunset Studio. To sponsor your website or event, contact kstanley@ticotimes.net.

Categories: Nacionales

In context: Costa Rica’s struggles with indigenous land rights

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 13:04

Sergio Rojas, a leader of the Bribrí community in Costa Rica, was murdered Monday night in the indigenous territory of Salitre.

An investigation into the death is underway, and President Carlos Alvarado has called the events “a tragic day for the Bribrí people, the indigenous communities and for all of Costa Rica.”

Costa Rica has for years struggled to mediate land-right disputes between indigenous and non-indigenous people. In 2012, Rojas was shot at six times in an apparent assassination attempt near the reserve.

Below is past coverage from The Tico Times providing context about Costa Rica’s relationship to indigenous populations.

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1977 law at root of land disputes 

The problem […] has its roots in the 1977 Indigenous Law that gave the Bribrí and the Teribe rights to 11,700 hectares of land but did not provide for funds to compensate farmers who already occupied the land.

In the interim, the population has grown to more than 3,200 non-indigenous people, including those who have been on the land for decades and those who are more recent arrivals and bought the land with nothing more than an illegal bill of sale.

Mora said removing those families from the reserve without compensating them would create its own set of social and humanitarian problems.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in the Salitre area about 60 percent of the Bribrí land has been taken over by outsiders, and between 80 and 88 percent of land belonging to the Teribe.

The non-indigenous “owners” of the land consider the indigenous to be the invaders. In August 2012, the Buenos Aires municipal council declared Rojas persona non grata.

Click here to read more. 

Costa Rica struggles with indigenous land rights

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Non-indigenous farmers argue rights violations

While the 1977 law unquestionably supports indigenous re-occupation, non-indigenous farmers argue that their rights to possess property have been violated.

“There are non-indigenous people who have been on their land for more than 40 years,” said Leonard Vidal, one of the farmers. “People are losing land that has been in their family for generations.”

Many of the farmers were born and raised within the reserve, and inherited their properties from family or purchased it from other non-indigenous sellers. The law protects property rights of those who obtained land before 1977, or purchased it from someone who owned the land before that year.

The issue for farmers is proving the ownership history.

Click here to read more. 

Tensions ease in Salitre indigenous crisis, but the dispute is far from resolved

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Disagreements that turned violent

The non-indigenous farmers — who illegally occupy territory in the Bribrí indigenous reserve located outside Buenos Aires, Puntarenas — mounted the attack 7 days after members of the Bribrí community reoccupied land where they had built farms. According to Bribrí residents in the area, approximately 80 farmers attacked the settlement with rocks and guns, forcing the indigenous residents to flee into the mountains.

Click here to read more. 

Farmers invading Costa Rica indigenous reserve chase out families, burn crops

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

‘A tragic day for the Bribrí people’ as leader Sergio Rojas is killed

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 11:54

Sergio Rojas, a leader of the indigenous Bribrí community in Costa Rica, was murdered Monday night, the government confirmed.

Rojas was shot to death in an apparent assassination at his home in the indigenous territory of Salitre, in the Buenos Aires canton of Puntarenas. An investigation into the murder has been initiated, led by the country’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) with collaboration with National Police.

“The government of Costa Rica condemns and repudiates in all extremes this violent act against the life of the indigenous leader,” President Carlos Alvarado said in a Tuesday morning press conference. “This is a tragic day for the Bribrí people, the indigenous communities and for all of Costa Rica.”

Alvarado said he has asked the Public Security Ministry (MSP) to provide all necessary support to OIJ to aid the investigation. He also ordered reinforced security for Bribrí communities and called for peaceful dialogue as a means to resolve conflicts.

Costa Rica has for years struggled to protect indigenous communities from violence by non-indigenous people. The conflict stems in part from a 1977 law that gave the Bribrí and the Teribe rights to 11,700 hectares of land but did not allocate funds to compensate non-indigenous farmers who already occupied the land. 

As The Tico Times has reported, indigenous communities have repeatedly complained to the Costa Rican government about inadequate protection from attacks. In 2012, Rojas was shot at six times in an apparent assassination attempt near the reserve.

Costa Rica struggles with indigenous land rights

This is a developing story. Check TicoTimes.net for further updates.

 

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

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Categories: Nacionales

This week in the Peace Corps: Sports for youth development

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 08:18

Some rural communities struggle with lack of resources and recreational activities. In my experience, the majority of the people in my community pla
y soccer and ride their bikes.

Most people these days spend their free time at home, watching TV or playing on their phones. As a Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer, I strive to promote recreational arts and sports for the children and youth in my community. Sports have many benefits like increasing self-esteem, improving teamwork, and communication skills.

The volleyball project came to life with planning, support, and time. First, the Local Development Association (Asociación Desarrollo Integral) constructed the volleyball tubes using cement, sand, rocks, tires, and metal tubes. Then, the Peace Corps generously donated 10 volleyballs.

Peace Corps volunteers ready for a game of volleyball. Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica

People of all ages come out to participate and play three times a week. Additionally, a local volleyball coach has volunteered his time to coach to youth on Saturdays.

It has been amazing seeing the project develop. At first, we jumped from different locations and played on random days. Now we are playing in the local community center.

I have seen children interested in learning the techniques and rules. Young adults and older individuals are there to encourage and teach the younger ones as well. It has become a space of learning and having fun for all ages.

A few weeks ago, the Local Development Association hosted a sports day and we collaborated by organizing a volleyball tournament. People from neighboring communities competed against one another. Other Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) came out to support and even created their own team to compete.

PCVs practicing with local community members the day before the tournament. This is the second location where we started playing before moving in to the community center. (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica) These are some of the children who accompanied me to ask for donations and support from community to buy the volleyball net. (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica) This is the local volleyball coach that works with the youth on Saturdays. (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica) While youth and adults are playing volleyball, the children are riding their bikes. Volleyball has brought community members together to become a recreational safe space. (Photo courtesy of Peace Corps Costa Rica)

The Peace Corps photo series in The Tico Times Costa Rica Changemakers section is sponsored by the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA), a proud financial supporter of Peace Corps Volunteer projects nationwide. Learn more here. To donate to support the Peace Corps Costa Rica, visit the official donation page. Volunteers’ last names and community names are withheld from these publications, per Peace Corps policy.

Connect with the Peace Corps Costa Rica on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Courtesy of CRUSA
Categories: Nacionales

Costa Rica enters into free-trade agreement with South Korea

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 07:32

This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.

Support the Tico Times
Categories: Nacionales

The Tico Times Weekly Digest: March 18, 2019

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 12:06

OIJ joins the investigation into two police officers, the 737 Max is banned from Costa Rican airspace and some awesome vigorones at the Santa Ana farmers market. This and more in this week’s digest.

Read the stories mentioned above:

Police officers suspected of robbing tourists under investigation by OIJ, MSP

European airlines plan to increase flights to Costa Rica, ICT says

More than 500 arrests made in raid against arms trafficking in eight Latin American countries

Costa Rica bans 737 Max 8 from its airspace

A photo exhibit in Jacó connects with the “Divine Feminine”

Off the eaten path: Santa Ana Farmers Market

Nicaraguan ‘marathon protester’ escapes to Costa Rica after leaving prison

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Categories: Nacionales

Volunteer firefighters mobilize to protect Nosara from wildfires

Mon, 03/18/2019 - 10:40

Fueled by strong winds and unusually dry conditions, wildfires near Nosara, Guanacaste have forced a community of volunteer firefighters to mobilize for their town’s safety.

Bomberos de Nosara, a volunteer group that does everything from animal relocations to firefighting, has been working since Thursday evening to contain a blaze that started in the hills near the beach town.

Families and businesses in Nosara have needed to evacuate, and Bomberos de Nosara continues to request support to fight the fires.

“The fire started on Thursday, and it grew quickly due to the strong winds,” Agnes Pinheiro, an administrator with Bomberos de Nosara, told The Tico Times. “The only thing the firefighters can do right now is to try and control the fire and protect houses.”

Bomberos de Nosara is a volunteer organization that is not affiliated with the Firefighters Corps, which is part of the National Insurance Institute (INS). The closest Firefighters Corps station is nearly 90 minutes away by car.

Pinheiro said calls for help on the Bomberos de Nosara Facebook page resulted in immediate support from community members, local construction crews and hotel staff.

“The whole town is mobilizing,” she said. “When the Nosara community faces events like this, we are very good at organizing to help.”

The Firefighters Corps and forest-fire experts from Barra Honda National Park arrived Sunday and Monday, Pinheiro said, but Bomberos de Nosara was the first line of defense.

“The Bomberos de Nosara are incredible,” said Pinheiro, whose husband is a fire captain. “They go in there with very little gear or protection. They are like mavericks.

“But they manage, and the entire town adores them.”

Along with parts of the Central Valley and the Nicoya Peninsula, Nosara was affected last October by continued rains that led to floods and landslides. Tropical Storm Nate also caused floods in Nosara in October 2017. Bomberos de Nosara helped the community on both occasions.

Those heavy rains have transitioned into drought conditions in Costa Rica and throughout Central America amplified by El Niño. More than 300,000 people in Costa Rica have already suffered water shortages this dry season, and the National Emergency Commission has indicated that the number could increase.

Farmers in the region have also warned that food production is at risk due to drought and the return of the weevil insect, according to AFP.

The Firefighters Corps says it has responded to more than 7,500 emergencies throughout Costa Rica in 2019 alone. They recommend the following to help prevent fires:

  • Do not allow children to play with matches or lighters.
  • Do not throw cigarette butts in lots or in the woods.
  • Keep lots clean of weeds and brush.
  • Do not throw bottles or glass in the forest.
  • Do not start any burns.
  • Keep the surroundings of your home free from weeds.

The cause of the Nosara wildfire is unknown, according to Bomberos de Nosara.

Readers interested in donating to support Bomberos de Nosara can make U.S. tax-deductible donations through Amigos of Costa Rica.

This is a developing story. It was updated at 11:50 a.m. following an interview with Bomberos de Nosara. 

The Tico Times Costa Rica Changemakers section is sponsored by the Costa Rica USA Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA) and Amigos of Costa Rica, proud to work with outstanding Costa Rican nonprofits around the country. Learn more at amigosofcostarica.org Brought to you by the Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA). Courtesy of CRUSA
Categories: Nacionales

Costa Ricans star as FC Cincinnati wins first MLS match

Sun, 03/17/2019 - 22:11

The match may have been played in Ohio, but all eyes were on Costa Rica’s stars as FC Cincinnati defeated the Portland Timbers, 3-0, in Sunday afternoon’s Major League Soccer fixture.

Playing in their inaugural MLS home game at Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati dominated the Timbers behind a goal apiece from Tico defender Kendall Waston and midfielder Allan Cruz. The result marked FC Cincinnati’s first win as a member of the United States’ top soccer league.

Waston tallied Cincinnati’s first goal in the 15th minute with a header that beat Portland goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.

Our first @mls goal scored at Nippert Stadium!!#CINvPOR pic.twitter.com/8FZVRJbtyH

— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) March 17, 2019

“To be honest, I don’t like to make myself a priority — I like to make the team a priority,” Waston, the team’s captain, told reporters. “But it’s huge. It’s like a bonus, especially for a defender.” 

His unique celebration? Waston says it was for his 4-year-old son, who had asked him to celebrate in that fashion if he scored.

Cruz doubled Cincinnati’s lead in the 61st minute with a tricky backheel. It was the Costa Rican’s first-ever MLS goal.

A little magic from Alan Cruz! #CINvPOR pic.twitter.com/O4puw2ASwi

— FC Cincinnati (@fccincinnati) March 17, 2019

French defender Mathieu Deplagne scored two minutes later to secure the final margin.

Cruz and Waston will both be with the Costa Rican National Team when it faces Guatemala and Jamaica in friendlies on March 22 and 26, respectively.

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​​This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5% Club. If only 5 percent of our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.
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Categories: Nacionales

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