first_imgTags: Cuba Share TORONTO — For the sixth year running Cuba has welcomed its one millionth Canadian visitor before the year is out, reaffirming Canada’s undisputed status as the number one source market to Cuba by a considerable margin.Cuba also welcomed its three millionth visitor internationally this month, another milestone, and 74 days earlier of when Cuba achieved the same feat two years ago. For 2017, the goal is four million visitors.Everyone knows Cuba’s tourism industry is in expansion mode. What they may not know is that even with the slow-but-sure arrival of the American market (and increasing service standards, and new and better facilities), Canadians “shouldn’t be concerned” about grand-scale changes to one of their favourite destinations, says Eloy Govea, Director of Cuba Tourism Office, Canada.“Cuba is a country with great pride and character; and will never give up its principles, its traditions, its values and its identity,” says Govea.Cuba has always been and will always be thankful to its friends, those who gave the country a hand when it needed it the most, he added, noting that the number of Canadians going to Cuba in one month is bigger than the number of Americans going to Cuba in a whole year. With the embargo still in place, Americans are still prohibited by their government to travel freely to Cuba. And “99% of Canadians go to beach destinations, which Americans cannot visit as tourists due to the travel regulations they need to comply with”.More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Plus, culture in Cuba is a big deal. Even in the most difficult times, culture has been the number one priority. “With so much heritage, so much beauty, so much charm, this is the country that inspires writers, plastic artists, photographers, filmmakers. On top of that, its safe streets, unspoiled nature and welcoming well-educated people, complete an ideal environment for memorable vacations.”This winter Havana, Varadero and Cayo Guillermo are adding new properties to be managed by Kempinsky, Iberostar and Muthu respectively, while Cayo Las Brujas will be adding two properties to be run by Sercotel and Banyan Tree, as well as a tourist plaza.Pullman Cayo Coco is also adding new sections of rooms. That means 3,000+ more hotel rooms will open through April 2017.Through 2030, 100,000 new hotel rooms, 20+ golf course projects and 20+ marina projects will be added to Cuba’s portfolio.As a result, seven brand new destinations will emerge: Peninsula de Ramón in Holguín, and the keys Sabinal (north of Camaguey), and Paredón Grande and Romano (North of Ciego de Avila); along with the Golf Destinations Punta Colorada (Pinar del Río), El Salado (Artemisa) and Carboneras (Matanzas).More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesGovea says it’s also important to note the substantial increase in the private-owned tourism-related businesses that come as a “perfect complement” to the tourist infrastructure outside the hotels: Cuba now has more than 2,000 restaurants and more than 16,000 B&Bs.All of our Cuba’s main tourist areas (with the only exception of Baracoa) are reporting business as usual after Hurricane Matthew earlier this month.Govea also let agents know that the Cuba Tourism Office is in the process of refurbishing and improving its website. “It will be more informative, more interactive, more navigation-friendly and more mobile device-friendly. It will also feature an interactive map, which users will be able to download to access offline.” Thursday, October 20, 2016 Travelweek Group center_img Posted by Numbers to rise but for now Cuba gets more Canadians/month than Americans/year << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


first_img Posted by Tags: Vancouver International Airport, YVR Share Travelweek Group VANCOUVER — Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has received the prestigious CAPA Centre for Aviation’s Airport of the Year Award at the Aviation Awards for Excellence last month. This award is given to the airport that has been a strategic leader and has done the most to advance the progress of the aviation industry globally.“YVR being recognized as global airport of the year shows the strength of the Canadian airport system, which enables innovation and the pursuit of excellence in sustainability, governance and overall airport operations,” said Mary Jordan, Chair of YVR’s Board of Directors. “I’m so proud of the team that achieved this honour.”CAPA Centre for Aviation is the leading provider of independent aviation market intelligence, analysis and data services. The Airport of the Year award has previously been awarded to major global hubs with a strong international reputation of excellence, including Singapore Changi Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and Beijing Capital International Airport.More news:  A new low for no-frills flying: easyJet assigns backless seat to passengerYVR is the first airport in North America to receive the award. It has achieved a 91% customer satisfaction rating for three years in a row, and has seen strong passenger and airline growth in 2016. Over the past year, YVR has welcomed 18 new services, 11 new destinations and two new airlines – Xiamen Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines.The airport welcomed a record 20.3 million passengers in 2015 and expects to surpass 22 million by year’s end.center_img Monday, October 31, 2016 YVR named ‘Airport of the Year’ by CAPA Centre for Aviation << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


first_imgFour Seasons now offers a $135,000 culinary tour by private jet Tags: Four Seasons Share Posted by The Canadian Press center_img TORONTO — Most travellers have a limited budget for food, hotels and souvenirs, and do their best to stick to it. And then there are those with the deepest of deep pockets.It’s clearly the latter that Toronto-based Four Seasons has in mind with its latest extravagant offering: a 19-day culinary-themed jaunt across Asia and Europe with opportunities to nosh in Michelin-starred restaurants, discover street food and go on chef-led market tours.Price tag: US$135,000 per person. That’s double occupancy. If you’re hoofing it on your own you’ll have to cough up the $12,000 single supplement.Destinations on the itinerary include Seoul, the starting point; Tokyo; Hong Kong; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Mumbai, India; Florence, Italy; Lisbon; Copenhagen; and finally Paris.An elephant trek in northern Thailand, a private viewing of Michelangelo’s “David” in Florence and a foraging experience in Denmark are also part of the package.Mingling with the commoners in the skies is not an issue. Air travel is aboard the Four Seasons private jet and accommodations are at the chain’s luxurious hotels and resorts.More news:  Windstar celebrates record-breaking bookings in JulyFour Seasons, which partnered with Copenhagen restaurant Noma and co-owner Rene Redzepi to develop the May 27-June 14 trip, says it is also tossing in a “special gift”: complimentary business-class airfare from each guest’s home city to Seoul and back from Paris, up to US$5,000 per person.If you think this is expensive, then you should check out our story on the most expensive trip in the world. << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, February 8, 2017 last_img read more


first_img Source: The Associated Press Tuesday, August 29, 2017 Share July ranks as the busiest month in Las Vegas airport history << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Las Vegas, Trend Watch LAS VEGAS — Aviation officials in Las Vegas say July was McCarran International Airport’s busiest month ever.Data released Monday by the Clark County Department of Aviation show more than 4.3 million people flew in and out of Sin City’s airport last month. That’s 3.8 per cent more than in July 2016.Of the passengers that walked through McCarran in July, more than 3.9 million travelled with domestic carriers, while almost 319,000 travelled with international ones.The Department of Aviation has tallied more than 28.1 million passengers through July. That’s 2.4% more than during the same period last year.Of the top five airlines serving McCarran, only American Airlines saw a decrease in passengers over the year.McCarran saw 47.4 million passengers in 2016. The annual record of nearly 48 million was set in 2007.last_img read more


first_img CANCUN — WestJet tipped its hat to its top partners at an annual key client event in Mexico, which took place from April 11-14 at Secrets The Vine Cancun.The three-day conference welcomed partners from across North America, and was attended by key WestJet executives, including Lyell Farquharson, Vice-President, Sales and Distribution.“This event gives us the opportunity to offer our partners insight into WestJet’s vision for the future, and how we’re going to realize that vision,” he said. “The key takeaway is that as we grow into a global leader, we will remain caring at our core. Our people, our culture, our guests and our partnerships are always top of mind.”Gary Gaudry, Maritime Travel; Sherry Scott, HRGTim Paul, WestJet; Richard Job, Flight Centre; George Kalogeris, ExpediaPhil Sproul, Merit Loyalty Services; John Pease, WestJetFarquharson also thanked WestJet’s “generous partner”, AMResorts, for “hosting us at Secrets The Vine Cancun over the past few days.”More news:  Sunwing to further boost Mazatlán service with new flights from OttawaThe airline’s long-term plans for international expansion were a central topic at the event. Other areas of discussion included WestJet’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the development of its three hubs (Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver) through enhanced schedules and better connectivity, the growth of premium travellers, as well as airline partnerships. Wednesday, April 18, 2018 Posted by Growth & expansion key focus at WestJet’s annual client event Tags: WestJetcenter_img Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


first_img Posted by Win a 3-night cruise with Carnival’s new word search contest Tags: Carnival Cruise Line, Contest Share Monday, February 11, 2019 center_img MIAMI — Carnival Cruise Line’s new online game for travel agents kicks off today and runs through Feb. 28.The Carnival Word Search Contest picks up on the momentum of Wave Season and aims to keep agents up to date on Carnival’s ships and itineraries.To take part, agents who visit Facebook.com/carnivaltrade can play along and find three ship- or port-related terms in a word-search puzzle. Each time participants find a word, a fun fact pops up with relevant information. Completing the three-word challenge automatically enters the agent in an instant daily giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card, as well as the drawing for the grand prize — a three-day cruise on Carnival Panorama, sailing out of Long Beach, CA on Dec. 11. The more often agents visit and play, the more chances they have to win.“We’ve been releasing a steady stream of news about our ships and itineraries lately, so we came up with an easy, interactive and rewarding way to help our travel partners stay informed,” says Adolfo Perez, Carnival’s Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Marketing. “There’s a lot of buzz about Carnival in the agent community, and the new Word Search Contest not only offers great prize incentives, but it’s a fun way for agents to gain the knowledge they need to successfully sell Carnival.”The grand prize includes airfare, one hotel night and US$200 for travel expenses for one travel agent.Agents can visit GoCCL.com and Perez’s Facebook page for details on how to play. The Carnival Word Search Contest is open to travel advisors throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, excluding Quebec. Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more


first_imgWith file from The Canadian Press Wednesday, May 22, 2019 That really was Celine Dion floating inside Bellagio’s fountain LAS VEGAS — No, it wasn’t a mirage floating atop the Bellagio Hotel’s fountain. Celine Dion really was sailing across the water at the bow of a small replica of the ‘Titanic’.The publicity stunt was part of the Canadian songbird’s ‘Carpool Karaoke’ segment, a popular feature on ‘The Late Late Show’ starring TV host James Corden. In addition to their ‘remake’ of the iconic scene in ‘Titanic’, the 15-minute sketch included scenes of the two celebrities driving around Sin City, singing Dion’s biggest hit songs, and even giving away her shoes to passersby.Upon being picked up my Corden in his car, Dion jokingly said, “I just have a day off once a year and you caught me on that day.”From there, Dion sets forth across the strip with Corden at the wheel. She pounces on every opportunity to answer his questions with the hook of a classic pop song.“Are you excited for this?” he asks as Dion responds with the chorus of the Pointer Sisters hit “I’m So Excited.”A few minutes later, he challenges the songstress to imbue the viral kids song “Baby Shark” with the stirring emotion she’s known for, complete with her trademark chest pound.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthCorden eventually brings up Dion’s colossal shoe collection, which she estimates at between 3,000 and 5,000 pairs. Corden interjects with rumours it’s closer to 10,000.“Maybe. I didn’t want to say it,” Dion admits. When asked where she stores them all, she said, “I have a place in Las Vegas — let’s call it a warehouse.”Corden then pressures her to part ways with a few shoes he’s tucked in the backseat. She reluctantly obliges, passing them out to starstruck passersby on the street.The segment ends with the pair pulling into the Bellagio Hotel and Casino for a grand finale of ‘My Heart Will Go On’, each of them dressed as title characters Jack and Rose in an iconic scene from the blockbuster ‘Titanic’.As she and Corden stand at the bow of a small replica of the Titanic floating in the hotel’s sprawling fountain, Dion caps off the performance by dropping a replica Heart of the Ocean blue diamond necklace into the water.More news:  Save the dates! Goway’s Africa Roadshow is backDion wraps up her Vegas residency in June. It’s set to be followed by a world tour that kicks off in Quebec City on Sept. 18. Travelweek Group Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Tags: Bellagio, Celine Deonlast_img read more


first_imgFrom the print editionPasta distributor Lucema bought the 49-year-old Costa Rican company Salsas Alfaro for $6 million, Lucema announced in a press release this week. The pasta company now takes over the popular brand of sauces, which produces condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce, chiles, dressings, syrups and jellies. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img


first_imgNo related posts. From the print editionSooner or later, things will have to change. According to sustainable agriculture experts, Costa Rica’s current agricultural system is threatening its own future through farming practices that over-exploit the natural resources on which production depends in order to maximize short-term profit. Even solely in economic terms, for a country that depends on agriculture for about  6.5 percent of its gross domestic product and to provide work for 14 percent of its labor force, this a serious issue.The situation here reflects growing worldwide concern for maintaining the ecological foundations that support food production. At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held recently in Rio de Janeiro, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) presented a report entitled “Avoiding Future Famines” that included the alarming fact that 925 million people around the world are malnourished. The increasing demand for food combined with diminishing natural resources on which food production depends, the report states, is pointing toward a potential global crisis.In Costa Rica, sustainable agriculture advocates say that the mass production of cash crops for export such as pineapple, bananas and coffee, which depends on the use of copious amounts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, likewise threatens the resource base on which the future of agriculture depends. Consequences of this type of monoculture – or the growing of single crops in extensive plantations – include contamination of freshwater, depletion of soil (through degradation of soil diversity and nutrient cycling), and deforestation and loss of biodiversity due to clearing lands to make way for the expansion of plantations. Other problems that arise in this type of intensive monoculture include overexposure of workers to chemicals and other harsh working conditions, and negative effects on the health of nearby communities, including indigenous reserves in some parts of the country.Amid the crisis, things are slowly changing. There is growing interest in, and practice of, organic and other sustainable farming systems in Costa Rica and worldwide, including application of more elaborate philosophies such as Biointensive and Biodynamic farming (see box). An important draw for a growing number of small farms is the personal satisfaction felt by farmers in producing healthy and nourishing food that is also good for the earth. Gina Borrero, a member of the sustainable farming collective Finca Agroecológica Amalur, explains that what compels her is the opportunity “to live and eat sustainably, where you can consume what you produce, and have control over the quality and effect on the environment.”Sustainable agriculture is an approach to producing food that is beneficial to the environment, consumers, animals and producers. It recognizes the importance of minimizing waste, conserving natural resources, economic viability and ensuring productive continuation over the long term.Below is a basic description of some of the more important movements in sustainable agriculture, including the different types of certifications available for producers.Organic farmingOrganic farming has become increasingly popular in Costa Rica, with local and international certification options available as well as opportunities to sell produce at the Feria Verde (Green Farmers Market) and in other venues, including some supermarkets. Organic agriculture relies on techniques such as crop rotation, natural fertilizers and biological pest control. Manufactured pesticides and fertilizers are prohibited, or must comply with very specific standards. In the case of exports, since there are country-specific organic certifications, it is important that growers know the requirements of each country to which they will be exporting. Gabriela Soto, from the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) explains that the process of organic certification begins by contacting one of several agencies, which will send a questionnaire that determines whether you qualify for the certification that is right for you. The cost of the certification, including inspection and office fees, differs according to farm size, but usually runs about $600. The certification must be renewed and the same fee paid every year. A strategy for small farms is to apply for the certification in groups in order to make the cost more affordable. For those selling locally, Soto suggests another option: “There is also participatory certification, where small growers are organized by a group such as Feria Verde to achieve a collective organic certification.” Such certification is done according to standards agreed upon locally. The prospects for sustainable agricultureUNEP reports that barriers to sustainable agriculture include lack of information, lack of access to start-up capital and a delay on return on investments, and lack of conducive laws and regulations. Although certification is important for accountability and ensuring correct practices, it is difficult for many small farms to afford. Changes in government policies can help surmount these obstacles, but for this to occur there must be increased demand on the part of a population educated about sustainable agriculture. ResourcesOrganic Farming•Feria Verde (Farmer’s Market): Held every Saturday from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Located inside the sports center in Barrio Aranjuez, 300 m north and 200 m west from Santa Teresita Church. More information at www.feriaverde.org or call 2280 5749•Organic Certification Agencies: Eco-LOGICA,  www.eco-logica.com or call 2297-6676 AIMCOPOP, aimcopop@hotmail.com.Biodynamic Farming  Biodynamic farming practices include the use of preparations made from herbs, minerals and manure to revitalize soil, efficient water cycling, crop rotation, organic pest and weed control, and the use of compost and green manure. •Demeter Biodynamic Certification: www.demeter.net.•Costa Rican Biodynamic Agroecological Movement: www.biodinamicacostarica.blogspot.com or call 8301-4377.•Education: Finca Luna Nueva Lodge is a certified organic biodynamic farm in San Isidro. Offering workshops, retreats, biodynamic activities and lodging. Details at www.fincalunanuevalodge.com or call 2468-4006.Biointensive FarmingThe Biointensive method is an organic, low-input and high-yield system of agriculture that has roots in ancient practiced Asian, Greek and Mayan cultures. •Biointensive Certification: Ecology Action www.growbiointensive.org•Biointensive Resource Center: www.cultivobiointensivo.net•Education: Finca Acroecológica Amalur (Mother Earth Farm) located in Concepción de San Isidro de Heredia, is a collective that practices biointensive farming and offers hands-on courses. The next course will begin Aug. 26 for five consecutive Saturdays. Information at www.facebook.com/amalur.agroecologica or call 8822-8512. Facebook Commentslast_img read more


first_imgSANTIAGO, Chile – Poverty in Latin America decreased more slowly in 2012, with one million fewer Latin Americans living in poverty than in 2011, according to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLA).Poverty affects some 167 million Latin Americans, mostly women and children, or some 28.8 percent of all residents in the region, ECLA said.“Current poverty figures are the lowest we’ve seen in the past three decades, which is good news for the region. But we still face unacceptable [poverty] levels in many countries,” ECLA Secretary General Alicia Bárcena said.While the numbers are encouraging, according to ECLA, the slowing pace of poverty reduction is cause for concern.The year 2011 saw a reduction of 1.6 percent over 2010 in the number of Latin Americans affected by poverty, while the percentage of decrease this year over last was just 0.6 percent. Meanwhile, the number of people living in extreme poverty remained unchanged, totaling some 66 million people, the same as in 2011.“As in years past, the increase in wage income in poor homes was the most significant factor in poverty reduction,” the report said.Also mentioned was the “feminization of poverty,” which the report attributes to gender-based discrimination and segregation, lower salaries and fewer job opportunities in the formal labor sector, Bárcena said.Poverty also affects more than half of minors under 17, which is primarily linked to teen pregnancy “mostly in poor households,” Bárcena added.Paraguay, with 49.6 percent of its population living in poverty, is the most striking example. Next are the Dominican Republic (42.2 percent), Colombia (34.2 percent), Ecuador (32.4 percent) and Venezuela (29.5 percent).Paraguay also tops the list of countries whose residents live in extreme poverty (28 percent), followed again by the Dominican Republic (20.3 percent), Panama (12.4 percent), Venezuela (11.7 percent) and Colombia (10.7 percent).Argentina is the Latin American country with the lowest poverty level (5.7 percent), followed by Uruguay (6.7 percent) and Chile (11 percent). Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more


first_imgJacó has a fun, new place to hang out and get great food and drinks. Rancho Sanata is now open 150 meters south of the Municipality and across from Morgan’s Cove. The restaurant is run by the local Madrigal Díaz family, so stop by and say hello. The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m.-2 a.m. and offers a wide variety of food, including chicharrones prepared daily, fresh seafood, smoked pork chops del Rancho, and ceviche, all at reasonable prices. You can reach the restaurant at 2643-4234.Tomorrow night, Graffiti will be celebrating its two-year anniversary and the opening of Urban Awol. Santos & Zurdo are an electronic fusion project based in Costa Rica. They will be combining the Indian sounds of the sitar with funk and blues, mixed in with electronic beats from a sequencer called a Groovebox, along with drum and bass, house and others. Not only have they participated in numerous international festivals including Burning Man in Nevada and Moonshine Fest in El Salvador, but they have played shows in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama. Here in Costa Rica, they participated in Festival Nacional e Internacional de la Guitarra, Transitarte, Mundoloco and Festival Nacional e Internacional de las Artes.  The McKee Project is still in the first stage of its new project “I brake for animals,” with the stickers for the cars already being a big hit. More and more people, not only from our area but also from other parts of Costa Rica, are asking for them. The second stage of this great project aims to include those who spend the most time driving: taxi drivers. They are offering those cab drivers who wish to be a part of the project a starter kit, with two free “I brake for animals” T-Shirts and 100 free business cards with the name of the driver, the number of the dispatch and of his vehicle, his cell number and of course our slogan. Even though the taxis cannot have any stickers or other advertisements posted on them, giving the passengers the card and wearing the T-Shirt will help spread the message. As a bonus, we are also starting a list of all pet-friendly taxis, which we will be recommending to both locals and tourists in all media.U.S. artist Crystal McLaughlin designed the T-shirts and stickers and they are awesome. To get one, contact Katja Bader at info@mckee-jaco.com.christina_truitt@yahoo.com Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more


first_imgNo related posts. By David Hutt | Special to The Tico Times LEÓN, Nicaragua – On Aug. 20, a caravan of six vehicles crossed the Honduras border into Nicaragua. The vans were adorned with the logo of Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish-language television network, based in Mexico. Inside the vehicles were video cameras and microphones, and 18 Mexicans en route to Costa Rica. But at the border, Nicaraguan officials stopped the caravan and conducted a search. They had been tipped off days before from a source in Honduras. During the search officials found $9.2 million in cash, hidden in secret compartments in the vans. Seventeen men and one woman, Raquel Alatorre Correa, who police say was the group’s ringleader, were arrested. Initially, Alatorre refused to tell the police why the group was visiting Nicaragua. Eventually, she said they were investigating the case of a Mexican man standing trial in Nicaragua for money laundering. But other suspects told different stories. As the trial began, prosecutors said the discovered money was intended for purchasing drugs in Costa Rica, which were then to be transported back to Mexico. Officials also announced that none of the suspects were journalists, and Televisa distanced itself completely from them. On Dec. 19, a court found the defendants guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering and having links to organized crime. Presiding Judge Edgar Altamirano ruled that while the group could not be linked to a specific cartel (several defendants are suspected of having links to the Los Zetas cartel), there was “no doubt” that they were involved in organized crime and drug trafficking, citing evidence of multiple journeys between Honduras and Costa Rica in the previous two years and trace residue of cocaine found in the vans. On Jan. 18, 17 members of the group were sentenced to 30 years in prison and a $9.2 million fine. The alleged mastermind, Alatorre, was sentenced to 35 years in prison – 20 years for drug trafficking, 8.5 years for organized crime and seven for money laundering. She will serve 30 years due to maximum sentencing laws.Defense attorneys said they would appeal the convictions, arguing that no drugs had been found. “Not so much as a gram of cocaine was ever exhibited here,” defense attorney Ramón Rojas said.Another defense attorney, Ricardo Ramírez, said, “We will appeal this sentence because it doesn’t make sense. It’s unfounded and disproportional. We are certain that a second court will reverse this, because there are no legal grounds [for the conviction].”After the trial, one member of the group, Cecilio Torres, told the Mexican news outlet Noticias MVS that Nicaraguan authorities mistreated him. “What Mexican human rights organizations can come over here and help us?” he asked.  Nicaragua’s ‘War on Drugs’The case has been important locally as it is has brought attention to Nicaragua’s role as a transit point for international drug trafficking. According to the British daily The Telegraph, “The seizure has pulled back the curtain on Nicaragua’s role as a conduit between South American cocaine producers and the Mexican drug cartels supplying the United States.”Nicaragua has been relatively immune to the effects of the drug trade when compared to its Central American neighbors. While Honduras is now the most dangerous country outside of a war zone, and Guatemala is battling against the gradual domination of its northern region by drug cartels, Nicaragua can boast to being one of the safest nations on the continent, with few problems associated with illicit drugs. The reasons for this still divide experts. Possible explanations include Nicaragua’s impoverishment – it is the second-poorest country in the Americas. Community solidarity and local enforcement against gangs also play a role.Others point to the government’s “iron-fist” approach to drug traffickers and dealers, including maximum prison sentences for offenders and free education and health care that may deter many from crime. In Nicaragua’s prison system, some 100,000 volunteers work to re-educate and teach skills to criminals. Nicaraguan police have the second-highest rate of public confidence among forces in Latin America, and National Police Director General Aminta Granera constantly tops polls of the most popular public figure in the country. But despite these trends, Nicaragua may find itself being pulled gradually into the drug war as a pathway for drugs travelling from Colombia to Mexico. Illicit drug trafficking has been increasing over the past decade. In 2005, police disrupted only one trafficking cell; in the first six months of 2011, police stopped 14 operations. The importance of the Televisa case also lies in the severe sentences handed out. According to Manuel Arauz, dean of the Central American University’s law school, these are “clear messages to drug cartels and organized crime about what they should expect.”“But it’s not only [a message] to drug traffickers; it’s also one for other governments that cooperate with Nicaragua in the drug fight,” he added. To the north, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina has been petitioning Latin America and the United States for a change in the U.S-led “war on drugs.” Molina has called the strategy a failure and has urged the U.S to adopt a more progressive policy of decriminalization and regulation, instead of the current prohibition and destruction policies.But Nicaragua’s president, Daniel Ortega, disagrees. Ortega, who was once a Marxist and is still an occasional “anti-yanqui” firebrand, has positioned himself firmly with the U.S. in the debate.“Legalization doesn’t make sense,” Ortega said at a recent meeting with other Central American leaders in Guatemala City. “It’s like saying we’re defeated. It would be like legalizing crime.”Nicaragua does benefit by appearing tough on drug traffickers. In 2007, Ortega called on the U.S. to supply his country with $1 billion in order to combat the flow of illicit drugs. Such a figure was not forthcoming, but the U.S. has invested millions of dollars in Nicaragua’s infrastructure and police force in order to combat the drug trade. In 2011, foreign aid allowed the country to employ 1,300 new police officers. Analysts note that Ortega has aligned his government with harsh criminal sentencing policies in part to solidify political power. Many of those policies have helped him gain the support of conservative elements in society, namely religious groups, who have expressed support for his stance on the drug war. Sócrates René Sandigo, head of the Episcopal Conference, wrote in the Nicaraguan daily La Prensa that he strongly supports Ortega’s iron-fist approach, and without it the country would be “at risk of falling into anarchy.” Controversy and Alleged Televisa Links The fake-journalist case has attracted international headlines due to a possible link between the convicted group and the television network Televisa. From the moment of arrest to sentencing last week, officials at Televisa have denied any connection to the defendants. As soon as news reports of the arrests emerged, Televisa released a press statement saying, “None of those arrested has worked at Grupo Televisa.” However, since the arrest, reports have surfaced that appeared to call into question Televisa’s claim. Firstly, Nicaraguan police confirmed press reports that the group’s leader, Alatorre, made 106 calls to the office of Amador Narcia, Televisa’s vice president. Narcia became further embroiled in the case when a folder was found in one of the vans containing letters of accreditation bearing his signature. Narcia, however, denied the allegations and said the signatures were forgeries. A photo published in Nicaragua’s English-language online newspaper, The Nicaragua Dispatch, showed a license plate number of one of the vans. A Mexican news outlet saw the photo and ran a check of the plate, which was registered to Televisa. Televisa opened its own line of inquiry and requested Nicaraguan prosecutors begin an investigation about whether any Televisa employees had signed the letter of accreditation. “That is one of the charges that Televisa itself filed in Nicaragua and that we are required to follow up on,” Nicaraguan Attorney General Armando Juarez said during the trial. The investigation is ongoing, and to date, no solid link between the convicted traffickers and Televisa has been proven. Facebook Commentslast_img read more


first_imgMontezuma is famous for its surf, yoga and laissez-faire lifestyle. But the former fishing village is also engulfed in rain forest, and easy day-hikes abound. Robert Isenberg visits two nearby trails – and takes a plunge. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img


first_imgRelated posts:Could tide finally be turning for shark fin demand in China? Judge orders Costa Rica gov’t to reimburse ship captain for seized shark fins Could judicial decisions unravel Chinchilla’s conservation legacy? Costa Rica’s airport popular thoroughfare for wildlife trafficking Facebook Comments Kathy Tseng, a Taiwanese-Costa Rican businesswoman, was absolved Monday in a Puntarenas court on charges of illegallylanding 652 shark fins on a Costa Rican dock in 2011. According to prosecutors and ocean conservation groups, the landmark ruling by a Puntarenas judge has opened multiple loopholes for finners looking to skirt the law.Since 2005, Costa Rica has had some form of ban on shark finning, a fishing method popularized due to the disproportionate rise in the value of shark fins – the key ingredient in the Asian delicacy shark-fin soup – when compared to shark meat.To maximize profits by saving room in their hulls, fishermen began slicing off sharks’ fins and dumping the still-breathing animals overboard to bleed-out or be eaten. Finning has had no small part in the huge declines in Pacific shark populations. Biologists say that more than 90 percent of the populations of some shark species have been wiped out in the last 15 years.Shark ‘spining’Tseng’s case involved the first-ever prosecuted use of a technique known as “spining,” where shark spines are kept intact with the fins attached by strips of skin and the remaining flesh cut away. The slice-and-dice finning method was devised to slip through a loophole in Costa Rican law, which requires fins to arrive “naturally attached” to the sharks’ bodies.In September 2011, Tseng’s boat, the Wang Jia Men 89, docked in the central Pacific port town of Puntarenas with 332 shark skeletons. Before the boat docked, Tseng sent an inquiry to the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (Incopesca) to ask what would happen if her ship landed with spined sharks. She claimed the shark meat had been used for bait and as food for the crew. Luis Dobles, Incopesca’s executive director, allowed the boat to dock and unload the rest of its product, but a local prosecutor ordered customs officials to destroy the shark spines with fins. Shark fins attached to the spinal column by strips of skin were seized from Taiwanese boats in Costa Rica in 2011. (Courtesy of Interpol)“This is not shark finning and the law does not say whether the shark body needs to have all of its meat,” Dobles said in 2011. “I applied the law and did not allow them to sell those sharks, which is already a great loss for those companies.”The prosecutor’s office opened investigations of both Dobles and Tseng, who in 2010 also was accused along with two others of human trafficking after authorities discovered 36 Asian slaves working at the group’s fishing company. Dobles’ case is still under investigation and may not go to trial.There have been no further reported incidents of shark spining since the Wang Jia Men 89, but in November, Interpol issued a purple alert warning other countries to be on the lookout for spining.In the weeks leading up to the ruling, ocean conservation groups published press releases warning that a not-guilty verdict could set a bad precedent for finning in the future.“This case needs to be strongly sanctioned in order to send an example,” the Comission for the Conservation of Sharks wrote in a press release. “That is the only way to avoid opening the door for similar cases in the future.”The verdictAccording to the case’s prosecutor, Tatiana Chaves, Judge Franklin Lara absolved Tseng of all charges, saying she had not broken the law. The judge ruled that because Tseng did not unload and sell the finned sharks, she had not committed a crime.However, during the trial, both defense expert witnesses backed out of testifying. Incopesca biologist José Miguel Carvajal chose not to testify after the prosecution warned him that taking the stand could endanger his job at Incopesca due to a conflict of interest. Environmental consultant Moíses Mug failed to show up in court.The Tico Times has reached out to the defense’s lawyers and is awaiting comment. The judge involved in the case cannot comment until after the sentencing date.Prosecutors and ocean conservation groups fear that Monday’s ruling will effectively allow shark finning to continue unsanctioned, and, according to Chaves, the implications extend beyond spining, affecting finning legislation in general.“With this reasoning the judge is permitting ships to arrive to shore with shark fins,” Chaves told The Tico Times. “As long as they do not unload them, it means they have not committed a crime.”Chaves told The Tico Times the judge’s reasoning also calls into question finning operations at sea, such as last week’s seizure of more than 150 fins from a Costa Rican boat in the country’s South Pacific. If the fins must be landed for a crime to have been committed, then fishermen caught in the act of finning may not be culpable.According to environmental groups, the verdict weakens the strong stance Costa Rica has recently taken on marine conservation, a position that won President Laura Chinchilla the Shark Guardian Award from international shark conservation group Sharkproject.“It’s another slap in the face of the conservation movement,” said Randall Arauz, president of Pretoma, an ocean conservation group in Costa Rica. “We are going out to the world showing ourselves as a world leader in shark-finning legislation, and then we show the world that when it comes to our domestic policies we are still ruled by the shark finning industry.”Though Tseng was absolved of finning, prosecutors can still appeal the decision within 15 days of the ruling.“Oh, we will be filing an appeal,” Chaves told The Tico Times. “Our war with this woman is not over yet.”last_img read more


first_imgOne of the world’s most famous works of art isPablo Picasso’s “Don Quixote.” The sketch shows the eponymous knight, his squire Sancho, a blazing sun, and windmills all around. What is remarkable about Picasso’s portrait is its simplicity: If you had a lot of patience, you could probably guess the number of strokes required to compose it. Picasso completed the final image in a single day (August 10, 1955, to be precise), and it probably took less than 10 minutes, yet those two black-and-white figures have achieved nearly the same immortality as “Guernica.”Bear this in mind if you visit the National Theater this month and order yourself a coffee, because artist Guillermo Fournier’s exhibition “Documentos en Línea” has similar qualities. Liberally translated as “Documented in Lines,” Fournier’s series is about as casual as sketches can be: He draws in pen on lined and Xerox paper, and no drawing could have taken more than a few minutes to draft. They hang in the National Museum’s café, otherwise known as the José Luis López Escarré Gallery.A typical response to such works is “my kid could do that,” and some visitors to the gallery may feel underwhelmed by his portraits. If Fournier’s series is worth framing and hanging in the National Theater, why not display the doodles of any middle-school student with a boring pre-algebra class and a legal pad? What makes Fournier so special? Why should his drawings be “art,” while everyone else’s are (shall we say) marginal? The reaction is legitimate, and it is certainly an easygoing portfolio.But sketches are sometimes the most provocative part of an artist’s oeuvre. “Mona Lisa” is perhaps the most famous painting in the world, but few art fans can resist Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks, whose sketches and studies dig deeper into the artist’s everyday mind. It is extraordinary what a capable draftsman can render with a few dashes of pencil on paper. Fournier is no Picasso or Da Vinci, but his sketches, created during a residency in Córdoba, Spain, do reveal a lot about the man.Fournier, whose budding career has earned him accolades and awards at the University of Costa Rica and Barcelona’s Museo Olímpico, seems to have a fairly low-key personality. Most of his characters are seated, and many of them look tired, spacey, or bored. Perhaps Fournier asked them to pose, or perhaps he simply started drawing the people near him; either way, the sketches look improvised, as if Fournier had been killing time. In “Estudios de Ñaqui,” a figure perches crossed-legged in a high-backed chair. Above him hover two additional faces. Like most studies, this sketch looks like preparation for a more finished work, but they allow us to see Fournier practicing, figuring out shapes and personality. Whoever Ñaqui was, Fournier shows us a raw interaction between artist and subject.Generally speaking, Fournier doesn’t communicate much emotion. “Documentos” is precisely that, a documentation of everyday scenes, and most of his characters seem indifferent. One of his drawings is entitled “J.M., El Mexicano, y Su Camisa Rosa” (“J.M., the Mexican, and His Pink Shirt”). The way Fournier illustrates J.M., his shirt has a lot of personality: It looks fuzzy and broken-in. J.M. himself is disheveled and hunched, as if he just woke up. He crosses his legs on the couch and stares into space. His biggest preoccupation is probably what he plans to do today.The real statement is not Fournier’s, but the National Theater’s. It takes guts for a major institution to give such prominence to sketches of this nature. In the past year, the gallery has displayed artwork that is fairly safe. In contrast, Fournier’s sketches won’t appeal to everyone; showing “Documentos” is a risk, and a risk worth taking.“Documentos en Línea” is on display at the López Ecarré Gallery, National Theater, downtown San José. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.–7 p.m., until August 8, 2014. Free. Info: Gallery website. Facebook Comments Related posts:A national festival, a grand old opera and other happenings around Costa Rica TEOR/éTica offers different views of urban life The Prague Ballet, an international blues festival, and other happenings around Costa Rica Man Yu celebrates 10 years of hyper-realistic artwork at the Club Uniónlast_img read more


first_imgU.S. President Barack Obama issued a statement Sunday to mark Costa Rica’s 193rd anniversary of its independence, along with the rest of Central America. In his message, Obama highlighted Costa Rica’s “strong partnership” with the United States, a relationship he said is based on the shared goals of “protecting human rights, freedom of expression, and our environment, especially our oceans.”Obama called Costa Rica “one of Central America’s most stable and prosperous nations,” adding that the Central American country’s “longtime commitment to investing in health, education, environmental protection, and sustainable development should be admired and emulated.”While Obama’s message was diplomatically cordial, a similar statement last Friday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made him sound almost Tico.“Just as schoolchildren will parade down the streets, shining their faroles in the night, so Costa Rica has been a beacon of light in the world for peace and democracy,” Kerry wrote. He even mentioned – in Spanish – Costa Rica’s National Anthem: “Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz!”Following are the two letters. First, Obama’s:Dear Mr. President:The American people join me in extending our best wishes to you and the people of Costa Rica as you celebrate the 193rd anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Costa Rica on September 15.The United States and Costa Rica have built a strong partnership based on shared democratic values, including protecting human rights, freedom of expression, and ourenvironment, especially our oceans.  I look forward to working with you to continue to advocate for democratic freedoms throughout the Americas and around the world.Costa Rica is one of Central America’s most stable and prosperous nations, and your longtime commitment to investing in health, education, environmental protection, and sustainable development should be admired and emulated.  The United States stands with you in your efforts to expand trade and grow your high technology economy, so that your people can continue to prosper and thrive.  Your efforts to increase cooperation and integration among Central American nations is an example of the kind of leadership for which Costa Rica is admired.I offer my congratulations to you, your government, and all Costa Ricans as you celebrate your country’s independence.Sincerely,Barack ObamaAnd Kerry’s:On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to the people of Costa Rica as you celebrate 193 years of independence on September 15.The United States and Costa Rica are natural partners rooted in our long history of democracy. We congratulate you on the recent presidential elections, another in a string of peaceful transfers of power. We look forward to continuing our work with President Solis and his administration.Just as schoolchildren will parade down the streets, shining their faroles in the night, so Costa Rica has been a beacon of light in the world for peace and democracy.As the concluding line of your anthem says, “Vivan siempre el trabajo y la paz!”Happy Independence Day, Costa Rica! Facebook Comments Related posts:Independence day and social democracy PHOTOS: Costa Rica Celebrates 193 Years of Independence PHOTOS: Lantern parade and torch kick off Costa Rica Independence Day festivities PHOTOS: Snapshots of Costa Rica’s Independence Day Paradelast_img read more


first_imgRelated posts:Public employee protest takes over San José’s Second Avenue Public workers threaten general strike if lawmakers approve bill reducing pay Public worker unions announce strike in October, threaten media Underwhelming Costa Rica strike mostly affects health service access Public workers’ unions will take to the streets of the capital’s downtown on Thursday morning to protest against proposed legislation that, they say, will affect their salaries.Unions leaders on Tuesday said they expect the arrival of some 22 buses packed with demonstrators from 80 workers’ unions from accross the country.The “March for Social Justice,” as unions are calling it, will begin at 10 a.m. in San José’s central park. Demonstrators will then march down to Second Avenue and will end in front of the Legislative Assembly.There, union leaders will deliver a manifesto against lawmakers who support the adoption of a bill, the “Public Employment Law,” which proposes to eliminate public workers’ extra-wage benefits and bonuses.The bill is one of two drafted by legislators and Finance Ministry officials from the previous administration of President Laura Chinchilla to regulate or eliminate those benefits. At the time, ministry officials argued that some 60 percent of the national budget annually went to bureaucrats’ salaries and extra-salary benefits.The bill was originally tabled, but is now being revived by a group of legislators.Thursday’s demonstration will mainly affect public schools and hospitals, but will also impact customer service departments in various agencies and the Limón port. Dock workers say they’re planning a work slowdown, or tortuguismo, as it’s known in Spanish.Gilberto Cascante, president of the National Association of Educators, the teachers’ union, said 95 preschools, elementary schools and high schools across the country planned to suspend classes, as well as a large number of public daycare centers, or Cen-CINAIs.Luis Chavarría, secretary general of the Social Security System worker’s union, said patient services at public hospitals will be reduced, but emergency rooms and clinical laboratories will operate normally.Unions had already protested against the proposed reforms earlier this year and are planning another, larger demonstration for October, leaders said Tuesday.Porteadores also plan to protestTraffic jams are also expected outside of San José’s downtown, as private chauffeurs, or porteadores, confirmed Wednesday evening that they also will hold protests starting at 8 a.m. They’re upset about a recent government policy reducing their work permits by half.The Public Transport Council (CTP), which regulates public transportation in Costa Rica, recently decided to renew only 1,324 out of 2,562 previously-existing permits for porteadores, setting off a war between the government and the drivers.Recommended: Police to investigate alleged threats by private chauffeurs against traffic officersTraffic Police Director Mario Calderón said an operation to regulate vehicle traffic in the capital will begin at 6 a.m. and will continue until 2 p.m. He also advised motorists to avoid downtown San José during these hours. Facebook Commentslast_img read more


first_imgRecommended: The amazing true story of tuanis and brete – words to be thankful forEvery year since I became a mom, I’ve tried to spend one month in the States with my family, reminding myself where I’m from. This year I spent that month at my parents’ new home near the water in Downeast Maine. It is a place that operates on the rhythm of the sea and the ships that travel that sea. It is a place whose native residents look out on the bay, perhaps with fondness, but also with a practicality that is lost upon the tourists who see it only as a beautiful view, or who hear in the foghorn only a cozy bit of ambiance, or who respond to rain or fog only in terms of how it affects our whale-watching plans. To those who make their lives in such a town, the sea is a determiner of fates and fortunes. Whether a ship comes into port bearing scallops or sightseers, that cargo is precious to the businesses and families ashore. You can sense that everyone is attuned to the comings and goings of the vessels, the shade of the sky.I don’t know what that’s like. When it comes to ships and boats and oceans, I’m the tourist all the way, admiring them from the pier with a nice hot coffee in my hand, gazing out over the water with the requisite far-off look in my eye, snuggling into my covers at night when I hear that cozy foghorn. Where I live now, my ship, my nave, is a different type of craft. It creaks and wails just as much as a wooden vessel. It plows through waves on occasion, as optimistically and ill-advisedly as a tugboat in a storm. We, too, live in its rhythms, memorize its sounds and tricks and fickle schedules. But here in San José, the nave is not a ship. It is a bus.Costa Ricans, looking down the street to see their bus approaching, might say, “Allí viene la nave” – “there comes my boat.” The first time I heard my husband say this, years ago, I was charmed, and I have thought of the city’s buses that way ever since. They might not determine our fates and fortunes, but in a place where city bus schedules are virtually nonexistent, good or bad bus luck can certainly color your whole day. Most of us don’t develop a personal relationship with a San José bus driver the way you might with taxistas, but you do come to recognize them, and when your bus pulls up just at the right moment – as you are clinging to groceries and a toddler in the pouring rain, for example – you are as grateful as a castaway boarding a luxurious cruise ship. You feel a deep, deep love for the curmudgeonly man driving the Doña Xiomara, or Jesús es mi Salvador, or whatever the painted letters on the side might proclaim.My favorite bus, ridden once and never found again, was a Zapote-to-San José vessel with a huge sign inside that said “I love my wife,” with photos of this matronly personage and little felt hearts all over the windshield. There were even hearts on the ubiquitous foam coin-holder near the stick shift. I wondered whether the unsmiling driver was a secret romantic, or whether his wife had taken some precautionary measures to protect her spouse. This might have been justified, since I have been told that sometimes bus drivers attain groupies. I have yet to see a bus driver whose appearance seems to justify this status, but gustos son gustos – there’s no accounting for taste.Bus stories tend to be less vivid than taxi stories. Rather than being thrust into close proximity and intimate conversation with one stranger, you are dipping your toes into a river of humanity in a more detached way. If Heraclitus had been a bus rider, he might have pointed out that the water in that river changes – the faces and conversations around you switch out, the buskers and the characters – but it’s always the same river. The people stand out in your bus memory not so much as individuals, but as types. The busker selling lollipops who pulls up his shirt to show the terrible scar from the surgery that has made him unfit to work. The flocks of teenagers squawking over smartphones after school gets out, an event that can take place at virtually any time of day. The neat and friendly abuelos y abuelas who always seem to forgive the sullen riders refusing to give up their seat for the elderly, or pretending to be asleep so no one will take the window seat next to them. The English-speakers who are trying to figure out the stops and count their change, or those who show quiet competence and inevitably make me wonder what brought them here.Then there are the captains of these unruly crews, who jostle their way through exhausting and repetitive journeys, day after day. They have their patterns, their tricks; they wave and honk at their colleagues passing by the other way. They pick up their family members or friends who hop up the back steps so as not to register on the people-counter up front, or vault right over the metal bars. They allow certain buskers while not others.Sometimes they’ll surprise you. One driver, just the other day, stopped the bus in the middle of a busy street, got off, and disappeared. I had lived here long enough to know that he was probably picking up lunch or a snack, but I couldn’t see where he might have gone, and he was gone for a while.“Where is the MAN?” my daughter asked. I realized she and I were the only people on the bus. I contemplated moving up front and driving the bus on home, alone.“That’s a good question,” I said. “But get used to this.”He returned eventually, clutching the classic Styrofoam-housed casado, and the bus groaned on up the hill.Riding the bus has its moments, and I can’t imagine getting to know San José without it. That said, if I never had to take a bus again, especially during a steamy rainy-season rush hour, I would be perfectly content. (My little daughter would not agree: she clearly believes that every time she steps onto one, she is entering a party at which every guest was invited for her own personal delight.) This is why I have started keeping running clothes and shoes at my office, an escape hatch on those days when the commute home seems too daunting.This past Friday, photos of flooded streets in downtown San José popped up all over Twitter, causing everyone in my office a shiver of fear at the thought of the trips that awaited us. I looked out at the rain coming down, changed my clothes and shoes, wrapped my wallet and phone in plastic before stashing them in my small backpack, and headed out. I stepped into a vertical wave. I was instantly drenched to the bone. I am as slow as can be, but as I watched cars lurch out of our parking lot, I felt like the Flash. I felt like a kid.Squelching with every step, but faster and freer than any ship, I set out alone, swimming for shore.Read previous Maeology columns here.Katherine Stanley Obando is The Tico Times’ arts and entertainment editor. She also is a freelance writer, translator, former teacher and academic director of JumpStart Costa Rica. She lives in San José. Follow her on Twitter or visit her blog “The Dictionary of You,” where she writes about Costa Rican language and culture, and raising a child abroad. “Maeology” is published monthly. Facebook Comments Related posts:La nave: the joys and mysteries of San José buses A love letter to Costa Rica’s second language Costa Rica, The Quiz: How much has your adopted country changed you? La horma de mi zapato: On love and taxislast_img read more


first_imgAndrés Zapata, 23, is a Costa Rican film director living in San Francisco. His passion towards cinematography began when he first watched David Fincher’s “Fight Club,” and led him to study film and production at Santa Monica College and San Francisco State University.In 2015 he produced his short film “Father, Daughters, and Sisters,” which deals with the topics of alcohol, sex and family relationships. The film featured an all-Costa Rican cast, and won the Campus MovieFeset (CMF) Jury Award. This month, the film will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival at the Cannes Court Métrage section and the Marché de Cannes. Today, Zapata is working on a script for a narrative film about the shark-finning situation in Costa Rica, China and Taiwan.The Tico Times spoke with Zapata about his work. Excerpts follow.What drew your attention toward cinematography?Cinematography is an escape for me. It showed me that I had the opportunity to do everything, creating stories and images. There’s a wide range of things you can work with, and that’s what I like about it. You can do whatever you want without anyone telling you what to do… you get to work with people from all over the world, and I don’t have to be in an office every day. Every day is different.What I like to explore within my work is the creation of characters that contribute something to the audience, something that people watch and say that they know what that person is going through because they’ve dealt with it before. With cinematography you have those opportunities. I love both drama and comedy. I want to experiment with all sorts of things because when I’m 80 or 90 years old I want to be able to say that I did everything. Right now I like drama because everyone has drama in their lives. It’s very easy to speak about those topics that exist within our society, such as alcoholism, drugs, sex, and family relationships.Why did you choose the topics of sex, drugs, and alcohol for “Father, Daughters, and Sisters”?There’s alcoholism in Costa Rica, as well as other parts in the world; I know a lot of families that have lost their connection due to the use of drugs and alcohol. Regarding sex, we all get here because of it. Having sex is not bad, but the way in which you carry out the act due to the effect of alcohol is bad. There are persons who take advantage of innocent people. It’s also about not judging people because of alcohol, and not… neglecting the purity symbolized by virginity. It’s important to know that you’ve got to question these things, question how you’re carrying out the act and how your decision may affect others.There are parents who ignore their children because they prefer to be drinking from a bottle than spending time with them and loving them. It’s a lie that alcohol is always good. We all know someone who is an alcoholic and has affected us somehow. I’ve grown up watching people like this, and if I wasn’t the person that I am now, I’d maybe be dead like the prostitute [in the short film]. Andrés Zapata speaking about Fathers, Daughters, and Sisters at the Campus Movie Fest. (Courtesy Campus MovieFest)How did you develop the characters?[I made the film] for a film festival called the Campus MovieFest, with people from 50 or 100 different universities. The festival consists of providing people with equipment to create a film within a time lapse of one week. I got there on a Wednesday when they were about to close; they had no equipment left [to loan out]. I have my own equipment, so they told me I could do the film and had to turn it in the following Tuesday. I registered, but I didn’t have an established story, actors or anything in mind to create the film. I went home and began writing a script with four or five pages. I didn’t know anyone in San Francisco, so I contacted people through Facebook. The whole cast is from Costa Rica.Of the three sisters, the first one can’t do anything about her life, the second one is on a bad path and the third one is the innocent one. We have a chance to save her. There’s that process of taking care of her and not teaching her about the bad things… I wanted to portray the relationship between a father and his daughters, because we don’t see that very much onscreen. Women don’t have many roles, and I wanted to create roles for various actresses.How does the film communicate so much without using a single word? Cinematography is a language, whether people see it that way or not. With film, you experience through sentences, but the sentences are made up of images. You don’t necessarily need dialogue to express yourself or for someone to realize what’s going on. You can trust in your audience that they’re going to understand; a picture is worth a thousand words.What are your inspirations?My family inspires me. I want to thank them for everything because without their love I wouldn’t be anywhere. I also inspire myself a lot, because when I was younger I didn’t have this confidence of saying, “I can do this. I can go out and do whatever I want and believe in myself that I can finish something.” In high school, I was a really, really bad student that never went to school. In college I realized I can do a lot of things. Winning a prize for a short film inspires me to continue.I think everyone should find that confidence, because if they can find that, then the sky is the limit. When there’s no one else, you always have yourself. That’s the most inspirational and creative thing that’s ever happened to me; discovering that I am my own tool.Costa Rica also inspires me a lot because the people have a fighting spirit; they always want to be happy and keep working hard. Being happy is the most important thing. We’ve got to keep in mind that we can do it. I’m a Tico and I can do it. That’s what inspires me every day. Our “Weekend Arts Spotlight” presents Sunday interviews with artists who are from, working in, or inspired by Costa Rica, ranging from writers and actors to dancers and musicians. Do you know of an artist we should consider, whether a long-time favorite or an up-and-comer? Email us at kstanley@ticotimes.net. Facebook Comments Related posts:5 questions for Costa Rican video game creator Claudio Pinto 4 questions for art director Carl Sprague 5 questions for a Costa Rican photographer The 12 best Costa Rican-made holiday gifts from the Mercado Tropicallast_img read more


first_imgThe morning-after pill, taken to prevent pregnancies, caused friction between the authorities of Costa Rica. The Ministry of Health intends to restrict its sale while the National Institute of Women (INAMU) says that it should be freely available.The debate arose while health authorities were discussing whether or not to register the drug, known as Levonorgestrel, taken to avoid pregnancy after sexual intercourse.“If a woman is a victim of rape or if she has had risky sexual intercourse, she ought to have the option of free access to emergency contraception,” the INAMU stated in a press release.The organization claimed that it is effectively a method of contraception, like condoms or the IUD device and “it has no medical contraindication or any age limit” for its use.However, the head of the Drug Registration Unit of the Ministry of Health, Ileana Herrera, told journalists that the morning-after pill ought to receive the same treatment as other pharmaceutical products.“Products that are sold in the pharmacy can only be bought with a prescription, therefore, women should have to get a prescription and be sent by a doctor, in accordance with her health and personal circumstances,” said Herrera.Feminist organizations have jumped to defend the pill as well as selling it without a prescription since time affects the efficiency of the pill.Religious groups have spoken out against the drug’s approval, stating that it is effectively “an abortion,” and therefore, its sale in the country contradicts Costa Rican legislation, which only permits abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. The pill only works to prevent pregnancies though and has no effect if a woman is already pregnant.INAMU, quoting the World Health Organization, said that “all women and girls who run the risk of an unwanted pregnancy ought to have the right to emergency contraception.”Correction: A previous version of this story included a photo of Mifepristone (RU-486), a drug that can be used to terminate an existing pregnancy. We have replaced it with a photo of the correct drug, Levonorgestrel, which is used to prevent pregnancy. 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.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:Drug policy in Central America criminalizes poverty, says Costa Rica Public Security Minister OAS chief urges new approach to failed ‘war on drugs’ Commenting on Zika virus, Pope Francis calls abortion ‘a human evil’last_img read more