LN WEEKLY REVIEW

Costa Rica, Viernes 1 de agosto de 2008

/WEEKLY REVIEW

Weekly review

Inflation soars

The Central Bank’s new estimate for inflation for the year 2008 is now 14 percent, much higher than the 7 percent to 9 percent which it had announced in January. The Bank also lowered the expected growth of production from 5.3 percent to 3.6 percent. On the other hand, it increased the current account deficit –the difference between the purchases and sales of goods and services abroad– from 6.3 percent to 8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. The increases in the prices of oil and food are blamed for the steep increase in inflation. According to the Bank, as an example, the prices of food –to which households dedicate the largest chunk of their income-- increased by 24 percent from June 2007 through June 2008.

Sovereign decision

President Oscar Arias remarked that Costa Rica is a sovereign nation, when commenting on granting refuge to Chere Lyn Tomayko, who is wanted in the United States for allegedly kidnapping one of her daughters. The decision prompted a strong reaction from the U.S. Embassy, but Dr. Arias backed Minister of Security Jannina Del Vecchio. He said that such event is not going to hurt the ties with Washington because, as a sovereign country, Costa Rica has the right and the obligation to decide what is deemed the best for the community. Del Vecchio said that Tomayko is clearly a victim of domestic violence, thus the decision to protect her.

Geothermal energy

The director of the Central American Economic Integration Bank (BCIE in Spanish) for Costa Rica Alfredo Ortuño announced that the financial institution is providing the Costa Rican Power and Telecommunications Institution (ICE in Spanish) with $200 million earmarked for the development of geothermal energy projects in the province of Guanacaste. Ortuño pointed out that the investment is part of the Bank’s support for development program. ICE’s top executive Pedro Quiros said that there is a potential of some 800 megawatts to be taken advantage of in the Costa Rican volcanic areas. He added that geothermal power is part of the means the ICE is resorting to in order to lower the dependency on oil to generate electricity.

Leatherbacks

At Las Baulas National Park and for 14 years, French, U.S., and Costa Rican scientists have been studying the migration of leatherback turtles, marine reptiles whose numbers are declining world-wide, to the point that they have disappeared completely from many important nesting areas. They have found out that after nesting in the Park’s area, every three to four years, they make a journey of some 3,500 kilometers (around 2,187 miles) that takes them to the Galapagos Islands and on to the waters off South America. This takes them around 500 days and a similar time to return to their nesting site in the Costa Rica northwestern Pacific, one of the few main ones remaining in the planet. The research is aimed at bringing the leatherbacks from the brink of extinction, since 90 percent of their population has disappeared in the last 20 years.

Environmental role

Peace Nobel Award Rajandra Pachauri, from India, praised the role of Costa Rica in the protection of the environment and the commitment of the Central American nation to address climate change. He did so at the Water Tribunal of the World Exposition in Zaragoza, Spain. Costa Rica is a good example for her environmental programs, such as the Cero Carbon one, that other nations should copy, Pachauri said. He is the head of the Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change. This organization and the former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore were bestowed with the Peace Nobel Award last year.

Arenal Volcano

Scientists and residents commemorated the 40th anniversary of the explosion of Arenal Volcano. On July 29, 1968¬, 87 people were killed and two hamlets razed by the hot ashes, gas, and other ignited materials expelled by the volcano, which had been dormant for at least 7,000 years, according to some volcanologists. Nothing was left standing in a 4-kilometer (2.5 mile) area. However, the volcano became one of Costa Rica’s major tourist attractions, and some 800,000 people visit the area every year.

44 days adrift

Costa Rican authorities defined as a miracle the fact that fishermen Anthony Natan (32) and Keron Walters (22) survived after drifting for 44 days in an open 15.5.feet boat. Initially, there were four fishermen aboard when their outboard quit while going back from the fish market to their homes in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. After 29 days adrift, the captain and another crewman tried to reach land by floating on plastic drums, but Natan and Walters decided to take their chances on the boat, drinking the little rainwater and raw fish they could lay their hands on. Then, after drifting for some 2,300 kilometers –close to 1,438 miles— their boat was spotted by two fishermen out of Limon, who rescued them. Even though severely dehydrated, they are recovering at the Limon hospital.

One ton of cocaine

A fishing boat carrying approximately one ton of cocaine was seized by the Costa Rican anti-drug police at Potrero Beach in the southern Pacific region. In the same area, the agents found another boat, similar to those used by Colombian drug traffickers. Authorities believe that the drug had been transferred from the second boat to the fishing one. Four men and a woman were arrested in connection to this case.

Forged passports

Three Iraqis were arrested at Juan Santamaria International Airport when their passports were found to be forged. Allegedly, they were British, Greek and Turkish. A Polish citizen who apparently led them admitted that they had traveled from Iraq to Turkey, Spain, and then to Costa Rica, but that their final destination was the United States.

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