The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate Costa Rica’s leading English-language newspaper since 1956, featuring breaking news, regional news, travel, business, sports, entertainment and real estate. Thu, 23 May 2019 14:28:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Cases of microcephaly quadruple in Costa Rica due to Zika Thu, 23 May 2019 14:28:41 +0000 The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.]]>

Health authorities reported Wednesday that the births of children with microcephaly in Costa Rica have quadrupled since the appearance of the Zika virus in 2016.

According to data from the Costa Rican Nutrition and Health Research Institute (INCIENSA), between 2011 and 2015, an average of 30 cases of microcephaly were recorded in national territory. That figure increased to 163 in 2017.

Microcephaly is a neonatal malformation characterized by a head much smaller than that of other children of the same age and sex. It is caused by the Zika virus.

Children with microcephaly may have delayed speech and motor function development, visual and hearing impairments, or other problems associated with neurological abnormalities.

According to INCIENSA, the first imported cases of Zika in Costa Rica were detected in February 2016, before the confirmation of the first autochthonous cases and first outbreaks.

The Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

Given the increase in cases of microcephaly, the Health Ministry and the Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja) are coordinating a strategy whereby all pregnant women from 31 priority cantons receive a preventive kit containing mosquito net, male and female condoms, and repellent.

The investment of 455 million colones (about $774,500) could protect some 20,000 women. The money will fund 16,000 mosquito nets, 40,000 repellents, 600,000 male condoms and 300,000 female condoms.

“Along with these interinstitutional efforts, it is urgent that the population adopt all practices to prevent these diseases, whose consequences leave a trail of pain,” said Health Minister Daniel Salas. “In this line it is vital that all families are aware of the elimination of possible breeding sites where the mosquitoes transmitting Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya breed, much more now that the rainy season starts.”

In addition, the Caja will offer counseling and education related supporting practices to cut the transmission of the Zika virus.

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This story was originally published by Semanario Universidad on May 22, 2019. It was translated and republished with permission by The Tico Times. Read the original report at Semanario Universidad here.

TBT: When LACSA flew the colors of Costa Rica across the Americas Thu, 23 May 2019 13:00:06 +0000 LACSA, or Lineas Aéreas Costarricenses S.A., once flew the colors of Costa Rica throughout North, Central and South America. ]]>

LACSA, or Lineas Aéreas Costarricenses S.A., once flew the colors of Costa Rica throughout North, Central and South America.

Founded in 1945 with financing from the Costa Rican government, Pan American World Airways and private investments, LACSA soon became the national airline. It operated international flights from its hub in San José to destinations across the Americas.

In 1998, LACSA became a member airline of TACA (Transportes Aéreos del Continente Americano). In 2009, TACA announced its merger with the Colombian airline Avianca, which all but eliminated the LACSA name and brand.

This photo, taken in March 1993, shows a LACSA Boeing 737-296. The plane, registered as LN-BRL, was first delivered to Quebecair in 1980 and enjoyed a brief stint with LACSA between 1992 and 1993, according to Air Fleets.

Photo attribution: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


No Navas as Costa Rica names roster for Peru friendly Wed, 22 May 2019 23:18:25 +0000 La Sele will begin training May 27 prior to their June 5 matchup against Peru in Lima. ]]>

The Costa Rican soccer federation on Wednesday revealed its roster for an upcoming friendly against Peru.

The list includes Álvaro Saborío and Christian Bolaños, two veterans making their returns to the national team. Herediano’s Luis Díaz received his first summon to La Sele.

Keylor Navas is the most notable absence from the 23-player list. Manager Gustavo Matosas explained in a press conference that the decision was made after a discussion with the star goalkeeper, who is “in a complicated situation” at Real Madrid and “wouldn’t have his full concentration” on the national team.

Navas reportedly isn’t in the Spanish club’s plans for the upcoming season.

La Sele will begin training May 27 prior to their June 5 matchup against Peru in Lima.

The game will serve as a Gold Cup warmup for Costa Rica, which begins the tournament against Nicaragua on June 16.

Costa Rica shares vision, guiding principles for universal healthcare Wed, 22 May 2019 18:46:50 +0000 Costa Rica's message is that "the health of the population is a responsibility of the State." ]]>

Costa Rica shared its vision and guiding principles for universal healthcare at the 72nd World Health Assembly, held this week in Geneva, Switzerland.

Elayne Whyte, Costa Rica’s Ambassador to the United Nations, urged countries to “overcome the administrative and financial perspective of the provision of health services, and to put people in the center.”

She shared Costa Rica’s message that “the health of the population is a responsibility of the State.”

“In Costa Rica, 95% of the population is covered by health insurance,” Whyte said. “Public expenditure on health constitutes close to 19.5% of total government spending; we have a Basic List of Medicines (LOM) that solves the pharmacotherapeutic need of about 97% of the population and our main public health goals are linked to our National Plan of Development and Public Investment, and in this way also, to the compliance with the 2030 Agenda in the country.”

The system is not perfect, and complaints of inefficiency are common, but Whyte argued Costa Rica has a framework that produces health outcomes “comparable or superior to many countries with higher incomes.”

Costa Rica proposed the following guiding principles for other nations at the World Health Assembly, according to a release from the Foreign Ministry.

Inclusion, “not only in the sense of increasing the number of beneficiaries but also the number of services. One can not speak of universality without access to all basic health services: water fit for human consumption, collection and disposal of waste, nutrition and mental health.”

Innovation, “to find new and better ways to finance services, to promote health, to incorporate society into decision-making, to design with new work schemes.”

Self-determination, “to ensure the ways in which countries, but above all its inhabitants, will enforce their rights and find the alternatives that best suit their identity and needs.”

Cooperation, “so that the knowledge acquired can flow freely, as well as gain access to funding sources that allow countries to achieve the goals proposed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a comprehensive manner.”

This week, the United Nations awarded Costa Rica’s Social Security System (Caja) a 2019 United Nations Public Service Award for the implementation of its “Unified Digital Health Records” (EDUS) electronic medical records software.

Seeking residency in Costa Rica? You’ll need your vaccines first, report says Wed, 22 May 2019 16:52:30 +0000 The Health Ministry and Immigration Administration are finalizing the requirements. ]]>

Starting in July 2019, foreigners who apply for temporary or permanent residency in Costa Rica will need to comply with the country’s national vaccine program, according to a report from the daily La Nación.

The Health Ministry and Immigration Administration are reportedly finalizing the requirements, which are meant to bring foreign residents into compliance with Costa Rica’s General Health Law (Ley General de Salud).

That law stipulates Costa Ricans must receive vaccines against measles, rubella and mumps (MMR), tuberculosis (BCG), Hepatitis B, influenza, tetanus and diphtheria, among others. The rotavirus and HPV vaccines were recently added to the list.

The Tico Times has reached out to the Health Ministry for confirmation of La Nación’s report. We’ll update this story when we receive a response.

The new law would come just months after multiple members of an immigrant family residing in Cóbano, Puntarenas, contracted measles. The Health Ministry said the infected children had not been vaccinated by their parents, who are United States citizens.

In Costa Rica, vaccinating children is “an obligation” for their parents or guardians, who face sanctions from the Ministry of Children and Adolescents (PANI) if they refuse to comply with the law.

“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.”

As a result of that law and of numerous public health campaigns, Costa Rica has among the highest vaccination rates in the region. According to The World Bank, 96% of Costa Rican children ages 12-23 months are vaccinated against measles, compared to 92% in the United States.

As a result, there had been no reported cases of measles in Costa Rica since 2014, until it was reintroduced by an unvaccinated, foreign family.

Costa Rica puts into effect law driven by alleged victims of priest Wed, 22 May 2019 15:53:27 +0000 The reform was prompted by two men who denounced a Catholic priest for having sexually abused them when they served as altar boys as teenagers.]]>

Venezuelan embassy reopens in Costa Rica Tue, 21 May 2019 17:20:41 +0000 María Faria, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Costa Rica, announced this week that the South American country's embassy in San José has reopened.]]>

María Faria, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Costa Rica, announced this week that the South American country’s embassy in San José has reopened.

In a video she posted on social media, Faria, who was appointed by Juan Guaidó, called the reopening “a significant achievement made possible by President Juan Guaidó and the National Assembly to achieve the restoration of democracy in our country.”

Guaidó is recognized as Venezuela’s president by Costa Rica and some 50 other countries.

Faria wrote Monday that it was “an honor” to welcome Venezuelan families into the reopened Embassy in San José.

In February, Faria took possession of the Venezuelan Embassy, but she left the post after a meeting with Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry, which granted Nicolás Maduro-appointed diplomats 90 days to leave the country.

The Maduro-appointed diplomats departed Costa Rica, on-schedule, in mid-April. Before they did so, the Venezuelan Embassy’s Twitter recommended that citizens direct future inquiries to the country’s Embassy in Nicaragua, a country which has pledged its support to Maduro.

Costa Rica is a member of the Lima Group and the International Contact Group on Venezuela, both of which have called for democratic elections in the South American country.

Earlier in May, Costa Rica hosted an International Contact Group meeting, during which the international body emphasized the need for a nonviolent, Venezuelan-led resolution to the country’s crisis.

IACHR mission visits Costa Rica to evaluate protections for indigenous communities Tue, 21 May 2019 15:56:06 +0000 During the visit, the mission of the IACHR also intends to learn about the situation of Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica.]]>

Representatives of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) began on Monday a visit to Costa Rica to supervise protection measures for two indigenous peoples, following the assassination of a leader in March.

The mission is headed by the vice president of the IACHR, Joel Hernández, who met with the Costa Rican president, Carlos Alvarado, to discuss the situation of the Bribrí and Teribe indigenous communities, who are threatened by landowners in the south of the country.

The president invited the IACHR, an autonomous entity of the Organization of American States (OAS), to visit the Bribrí and Teribe territories, after the murder of the indigenous leader Sergio Rojas on March 18.

“Our expectation of this meeting is to understand the state of these two peoples and the measures that the State must continue to grant to guarantee the security and rights of indigenous peoples,” said Hernández before meeting with Alvarado.

Juan Alfaro, Vice Minister of the Presidency, said that “the exchange with the IACHR is an important occasion to hear the observations and suggestions of the commission, with the aim of strengthening compliance with precautionary measures” in favor of the indigenous people.

The IACHR planned to visit Monday and Tuesday in southern Costa Rica, where the two indigenous communities that are the object of the mission are located.

The Bribrí and Teribe peoples began receiving measures of protection in 2015 in the face of threats from loggers and farmers who have tried to cut down their forests and appropriate their lands.

During the visit, the mission of the IACHR also intends to learn about the situation of Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica.

Some 55,000 Nicaraguans have sought refuge in Costa Rica after repression of anti-government protests that began in April 2018, according to the United Nations.

Fishing for the next generation in Quepos Tue, 21 May 2019 02:00:25 +0000 While Manuel Antonio is firmly established as an ecotourism destination, for so many of us, we forget that fishing has long been a way of life and subsistence for the local Quepos community. ]]>

Having completed the 20th edition of the Offshore World Championship in May, and the 7th edition of this iconic event here at Marina Pez Vela, the opportunity to reflect on the impact of fishing on our local community and tourism in the area is upon us.

While Manuel Antonio is firmly established as an ecotourism destination, for so many of us, we forget that fishing has long been a way of life and subsistence for the local Quepos community and that early sportfishing exploration was some of the first tourism to the area.

The history and roots of the ocean and fishing are deeply rooted in this community, and it would be easy to write a book, or two, on the history of both artisanal fishing as well as the history of sportfishing in the area along with its socio-economic impacts. 

That being said, I wanted to take a minute to share some thoughts and perspective on the sustainability of fishing in the area and the generational component which is visible now, more than ever.

At Marina Pez Vela, there is a tremendous commitment to sustainability in all forms of the word.  Our commitment to our community, its growth and well-being from a cultural and economic standing is unwavering and very much a part of our DNA at the project.

In regards to fishing, Costa Rica in general — led by agencies such as FECOP and members of the private sector — has been a global leader in sustainability in the fishing world. Costa Rica was one of the first countries to implement mandatory use of the circle hook in its sportfishing practices, and today it bans the practice of taking live billfish out of the water for photographs. There is an acute awareness of the importance of protecting the very things that have made this destination a hot spot for anglers, and Marina Pez Vela is now the top location in the world for the Gray Fish Tag Research foundation.

These efforts are crucial to the future of the project and the ability to ensure that our waters are rich in marine life for generations to come.

Culturally, we are already seeing multi-generation teams of captains and mates working the growing charter and private fleets in the marina. With all the new tourism and investments in marina, high-paying jobs are being created that allow our local community amazing opportunities in all areas of the fishing world, including captain, mates, marine mechanics, electrical engineering and canvass, to name a few.

More and more Quepos youth have family members or friends who have been part of the industry and are dreaming of their chance to learn more about fishing and its magic.

At this year’s Offshore World Championship, we had an amazing opportunity with 50 children from the community. While anglers from around the globe went out to fight for a world title, the captains and crews from the fleet at Marina Pez Vela, along with the team from Bonnier, host of the OWC, presented each of the 50 kids with a rod. They were taught casting and the basics of fishing from the organizational team.

While records were not set with the amount of fish caught, I can assure you records were set with the amount of smiles, excitement and enthusiasm from these children.

At the end of the session, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Bonnier announced that each child was able to keep their rod as a gift from the OWC. One child and his family spoke of how he had been starting to save to buy his own rod but didn’t know how many years it was going to take him.  His commitment and passion were rewarded with some basic knowledge and tools to pursue his passion, all in the shadow of the world’s biggest fishing tournament stage.

Who knows how many of those kids will fish for pleasure or as a way of life, but odds are, at least one of them will be leading anglers from around the globe on an expedition in the future.

This story was sponsored by Marina Pez Vela. To sponsor your business, contact 

Costa Rica announces provisional 40-man roster for Gold Cup Mon, 20 May 2019 21:44:40 +0000 The 2019 Gold Cup begins June 15. La Sele starts its campaign with a home match against Nicaragua. ]]>

Costa Rica on Monday announced the 40-man provisional roster that will serve as the basis for its 2019 Gold Cup campaign.

The list contains Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Kendall Waston and other stalwarts for the Costa Rican national team. Alvaro Saborío, who came out of retirement and helped San Carlos to the Clausura title earlier this month, is also included.

Manager Gustavo Matosas’s final 23-person roster will be announced the first week of June.

Costa Rica's 40-person provisional roster for Gold Cup 2019. (Via CONCACAF.)

Elsewhere in CONCACAF, 40-man rosters feature Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC/United States), Raúl Jimenez (Wolverhampton FC/Mexico) and Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/United States).

The 2019 Gold Cup begins June 15, and La Sele starts its campaign with a home match the following day against Nicaragua at the National Stadium in La Sabana.

The 2019 Gold Cup final will be July 7 at Soldier Field in Chicago.