Costa Rica, Viernes 7 de marzo de 2008

/WEEKLY REVIEW

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Weekly review

Food and fuels up

In the last 12 months, the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased 21 percent. Eating at restaurants is 15 percent more expensive than a year ago; and transportation is now 13.5 percent up from March 2007. These increases make a major contribution to the increase in inflation recorded by the National Statistics and Census Bureau (INEC in Spanish) in February, when consumer prices increased 1.11 percent, taking the overall inflation. In January, the hike had been 0.75 percent. In February, the Central Bank had announced its monetary program for this year, which includes a 7 percent to 9 percent overall inflation estimate for the year. On the other hand, interest rates for savings are 4.37 percent as an average, far below the 11.40 percent average inflation for the 12 months from March 2007 through February 2008.

Earlier rains

The National Weather Bureau announced the transition from the dry season to the rainy one earlier this year, as a result of the influence of the phenomenon known as La Niña. The disturbance causes unusually cold surface water on the Pacific Ocean, which in turn promotes overcast skies and rains. While the rainy season regularly starts in May, this time it is expected for mid April.

Hundreds of Ticos deported

The United States has deported more than 200 Costa Ricans in recent months, because they simulated migratory moves between the two countries. Supposedly, Costa Ricans paid $100 to $200 each to a group of immigration officials at Juan Santamaria International Airport who engaged in stamping their passports as if they had traveled from the States to Costa Rica and back, while the authentic bearers illegally remained in the U.S. Costa Rican Immigration Service boss Mario Zamora said that 22 officials had been suspended for their involvement in the illegal practice. The United States had earlier cancelled their visas to the same officials.

Canadian visa

Bearers of a Canadian visa will be admitted to Costa Rica. This applies to citizens of any country that has diplomatic ties with Costa Rica and who have been granted the Canadian visa, which demands strict controls. Immigration Service boss Mario Zamora said that decision was prompted by the success with bearers of U.S. and European Union visas.

At the Roman Forum

Costa Rican sculptor Jorge Jimenez-Deredia continues an outstanding career in Europe. In 2000, he was the first Latin American sculptor in placing one of his works at St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican City. Now, he will be the first contemporary artist in exhibiting his works at the Roman Forum and other archaeological sites in Rome. One of his major exhibits will be “The Route of Peace”, an exhibit of 60 of his marble and bronze works, which is to open in Rome on June 22, 2009. Jimenez said that the exhibit will be a large one, so much so that he is working on 500 tons of marble for the sculptures, which will be carried from his shop in Castelnuovo Magra to Rome aboard 40 trailer trucks.

Crash in mid air

A pilot was killed and another is struggling for life after their crop dusters crashed in mid air in the Costa Rican Caribbean. According to witnesses, weather conditions were good and visibility perfect at the time of the accident. However, one expert said that because it was late afternoon, the sun is likely to have played a role in bringing about the accident. The two planes were preparing to spray banana plantations in Roxana, Pococi, when the event took place.

Improvement in hospitals

The Costa Rican Social Security Institution (CCSS in Spanish) allocated $118.6 million to improve hospitals, chief executive Eduardo Doryan announced. A new hospital in Heredia and 150 primary-level health centers will use most of the funds. Other works include the completion of the Osa Hospital in the southern Pacific, and improvements in the Women’s Hospital and in the one for the elderly in San José.

Protection of animals

The Government of Costa Rica stated support to the world campaign for the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare, sponsored by the World Society for the Protection of Animals. The campaign aims at collecting 10 million signatures around the world, to move the United Nations member states to adopt the declaration by the year 2010.

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