Airbnb confirmed for CTO conference

first_imgAirbnb confirmed for CTO conference Share Posted by BRIDGETOWN — Airbnb’s Regional Manager for the Caribbean, Mikel Freemon, will join a panel on the sharing economy at the CTO-organized State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Barbados. The event takes place Sept. 14 – 16 at the Hilton Barbados.“The sharing economy is a US$26 billion dollar sector and Airbnb is one of the most successful architects of the accommodation component of this sector, disrupting the traditional hotel industry and raising concern among the incumbent firms,” said Sylma Brown, Director of the CTO’s New York office. “We are delighted to have Airbnb share its success model as we examine this hybrid market model and discuss the challenges, risks and opportunities for the Caribbean tourism sector.”The sharing economy panel will be moderated by Paul Pennicook, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism.The annual SOTIC brings together tourism decision-makers including ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, hotel and airline executives, travel agents, students and the media.More news:  TRAVELSAVERS welcomes Julie Virgilio to the teamFor more information on SOTIC, including how you can register, participate and benefit, visit sotic.onecaribbean.org. Travelweek Group center_img Monday, August 22, 2016 Tags: Airbnb, Caribbean Tourism Organization << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Rail Europe links Cologne Paris for world hockey championship booking portal now

first_imgTags: Rail Europe Posted by Friday, October 14, 2016 Waheeda Harris About Latest Posts Waheeda HarrisA traveller from a young age, Travelweek contributor Waheeda Harris is pop culture obsessed, loves spicy food and is happy to wander around our planet with her camera in hand. Latest posts by Waheeda Harris (see all) Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Edge stars of JetSet3 fam – April 23, 2019 Unleash the power of cross-company digital transformation to revolutionize your CX – February 8, 2019 On location: Cabo San Lucas welcomes the stylish Riu Palace Baja California – December 20, 2018 Rail Europe links Cologne, Paris for world hockey championship; booking portal now open Share << Previous PostNext Post >> TORONTO — For clients planning a trip to Europe next May, there’s no need to live without Canada’s game. In May 2017 Rail Europe and Thalys will partner with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) as the official transportation partner during the Ice Hockey World Championship (IHWC), taking place in Paris and Cologne.The booking process for travel agents wanting to plan tickets or passes for clients attending the IHWC next May has opened via agent.raileurope.ca.From May 5-21, 2017, the IHWC will be held in both France and Germany, a first for the IIHF and hockey fans, but not for European sports fans, who are used to multiple cities being involved in a world sports event, like the World Cup of Rugby or the FIFA World Cup. The IIHF is forecasting 600,000 to 700,000 fans to attend the tournament, with 16 teams participating including Canada, USA, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, France, Norway, Italy, Sweden and Germany.Teams, officials, media and fans will be transported via high-speed red Thalys trains, which operate five times daily between Paris and Cologne, taking three hours and 14 minutes each way from city centre to city centre.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upThe Thalys networks encompasses four countries – The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany, and offers direct service from airports in all those countries, including European hubs that are beneficial to Canadian travellers such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris and Frankfurt. Each Thalys train also offers local cuisine, drink, free WiFi and in first class international newspapers and magazines and a quiet area for business travellers, while in second class there is a family area.“Rail Europe allows travellers to easily get back and forth between the hockey games, but also access any other part of Europe,” said Melanie Albaric, Rail Europe Marketing & Communications Manager, in Toronto last night to talk about the Thalys trains and the upcoming World Championships.  “Travel has become experiential revolution, and we’re focused on making it a memorable holiday.”Rail Europe has offered the popular Eurail Pass since 1959, as well as Britrail and Swiss Rail passes for travellers wanting to explore the continent by train. Rail Europe also provides special offers for travellers through its website including museum passes, day tours, river cruises and city passes for many European cities.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoFirst class tickets (one way) between Paris and Cologne are $119 while second class tickets are $75 with some additional fees. Agents wanting to make group bookings are asked to contact Rail Europe at 1-800-462-2577.Rail Europe provides FAQ video clips for travel agent use as well as online training webinars, live chat and discounts for travel agents. Any service fee can be added to any Rail Europe booking which is 100% payable to a travel agency.last_img read more

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Air Canada celebrates MontrealShanghai launch record results in 2016

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: Air Canada, China, Montreal, New Routes Share MONTREAL — Air Canada’s daily service from Montreal to Shanghai is officially up and running, with the first flight having left yesterday from Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.The year-long service marks the airline’s first direct route to Asia from Montreal, which offers convenient one-stop access points throughout Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the United States. It also marks the airline’s first route from Montreal to be operated with its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft and cabin features.“With the launch of Montreal-Shanghai nonstop service, we are delighted to inaugurate Air Canada’s first direct flights between Montreal and Asia, building on Air Canada’s success in the rapidly growing Chinese market,” said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at Air Canada. “With an average elapsed time of over 13.5 hours, it is the longest flight every operated by any carrier from Montréal-Trudeau airport.”In Montreal, flights are timed to optimize connections to and from the carrier’s extensive Eastern Canada and U.S. networks including Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax, New York and Boston.More news:  Le Boat has EBBs along with its new 2020 brochureA day after the route launch, Air Canada released its 2016 annual results, indicating that 2016 was a record full year of $2.768 billion, compared to the previous record of $2.542 billion in 2015. This represents an increase of $226 million, or 8.9%, and surpasses the 6 to 8% increase projected in previous reports. On a GAAP basis, the airline reported operating income of $1.345 billion in 2016 versus $1.496 billion in 2015.In addition, Air Canada generated adjusted net income of $1.147 billion, or $4.06 per diluted share compared to adjusted net income of $1.222 billion or $4.18 per diluted share in 2015. It reported net income of $876 million or $3.10 per diluted share in 2016, compared to net income of $308 million or $1.03 per diluted share in 2015.“In 2016, we achieved outstanding results, surpassing the previous records for EBITDAR (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization and aircraft rent), as well as for passenger and operating revenues, underscoring the effectiveness of our business strategy and improved competitive position,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Traffic for the year grew by more than 13% with increases in all five geographic markets, and we reached a new record of serving close to 45 million customers on our expanding global network, with the launch of 28 new routes including 15 new international and 12 U.S. transborder routes.”More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthRovinescu also noted that growth in 2016 led to the creation of 1,500 new jobs in Canada between Air Canada’s mainline, Rouge and Express services.Looking ahead to 2017, he said: “We expect to achieve an EBITDAR margin of between 15 to 18%, with our current forecast of rising fuel prices and our return on invested capital is projected to be between 9 and 12%. Moreover, we forecast positive free cash flow in 2017 in the range of $200 million to $500 million.” Friday, February 17, 2017 center_img Air Canada celebrates Montreal-Shanghai launch & record results in 2016 << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted bylast_img read more

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Michelinstarred chef surprises Air France pax with epic meal

first_imgMichelin-starred chef surprises Air France pax with epic meal Share Posted by Friday, May 26, 2017 Tags: Air France, Culinary Tourismcenter_img NEW YORK — To commemorate ‘year two’ of its successful partnership with acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud, Air France recently treated passengers to an epic in-flight meal prepared by the Michelin-starred chef himself.Passengers in La Premiere and business classes on flight AF23 flying from New York to Paris on May 24 were greeted by Chef Boulud as they boarded, who discussed his culinary vision and how he worked closely with the airline to achieve it.His specially prepared meals for the flight included Curried Lobster Salad and Braised Lamb with Spring Root Vegetable and Favas in Business Class, and Foie Gras en Gelée and Provencal Lamb Chop in La Premiere Class. Both Classes enjoyed Vancilla Custard Cake with Kirsch Cherries and Chantilly for dessert.Wine pairings were selected by Paolo Basso, named world’s best sommelier in 2013 by Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI).“Air France strives to provide exceptional culinary experience across all cabins of service,” said Stéphane Ormand, Vice President and General Manager, USA – Air France KLM. “One way we achieve this goal is through strategic partnerships with accomplished chefs like Chef Daniel Boulud whose culinary creations thrill the palates of our passengers, and continue our proud legacy of representing great French cuisine.”More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalThe Michelin-starred chef became the first U.S.-based chef in March of last year to partner with Air France, joining a list of renowned chefs who design dishes for the airline.“I’ve been flying Air France for many decades, and their collaborations with chefs date back to the 1960s. What has been novel about our partnership is that it’s the first time a chef who is not based in France has worked with the brand, and it’s exciting to be representing New York with these dishes, as well as my French roots,” said Boulud. Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Intrepid invites agents to win with its Best of the Best incentive

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Agent Incentives, Intrepid Group Intrepid invites agents to win with its ‘Best of the Best’ incentive TORONTO — A brand new incentive from Intrepid Group offers agents the chance to win a spot on an Intrepid trip.From Sept. 1 – Nov. 30, Intrepid Travel, Peregrine Adventures and Geckos Adventures sales will count towards a spot on one of the Intrepid Group’s “most iconic trips”, says the travel company. “And we’ve upped the ante – we’re throwing in flights!”All travel agents from Canada, the U.S. and Latin America are eligible to win. Three travel agents will win one of three itineraries including a 14-day Antarctica Journey with Peregrine Adventures, the 12-day Japan Real Food Adventure with Intrepid Travel and the 15-day Essential Peru with Geckos Adventures.Winners will be selected in order of top sellers based on the number of passengers booked.More details are at incentive.intrepidgroup.travel. Travelweek Group center_img Share Thursday, August 31, 2017 Posted bylast_img read more

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CLIA opens enrollment for 2018 travel agency agent membership

first_img Travelweek Group Tags: CLIA Share Posted by CLIA opens enrollment for 2018 travel agency, agent membershipcenter_img WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cruise Lines International Association has opened enrollment for its 2018 Travel Agency Membership and Individual Agent Membership (IAM) programs.Last year CLIA saw an increase of 294% in agent enrollment in its certification programs.“Travel professionals are the cruise industry’s leading distribution channel, and statistics show that agents who are certified, earn more than those that are not,” says Cindy D’Aoust, President and CEO, CLIA. “In 2018, we’ll continue to expand our extensive list of benefits with agent educational tools regarding health, safety, security and the work being done to protect our environment, providing our members with the resources they need to respond to clients’ requests.”Individual Agent Membership is open to travel agents associated with a 2018 CLIA Travel Agency Member.Additional CLIA member benefits include:Professional Development: CLIA says its professional development and training programs leverage expert knowledge and partnerships to deliver valuable education to travel agents and other industry professionals. “Our programs are available in a variety of formats to make it convenient for you to keep your skills polished or become certified through CLIA’s members-only certification programs.”Commissions and Travel Perks: Bonus commissions and personal travel discounts from cruise lines and partners. Revamped in 2016, 96% of cruise line offers submitted were paid, according to CLIA.2018 CLIA EMBARC ID: All Individual Agent Members receive the CLIA EMBARC ID, the official credential of the global cruise industry. EMBARC ID entitles agents to preferred member pricing for Cruise360 and other events, as well as access to CLIA member benefits, including cruise line and partner commissions.Cruise Finder: Exclusively for CLIA members, Cruise Finder provides ship information, itineraries, onboard offerings and more across global cruise lines.More news:  Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksAgent Finder: Agents listed on CLIA’s online Agent Finder can promote themselves to consumers looking for knowledgeable and reliable cruise-focused travel professionals, says CLIA. Individual Agent Membership includes a complimentary listing beneath the agency’s listing. Agents can boost their profile further by purchasing an additional stand-alone listing for US$19.95 for the full membership year.Cruise TV: Engaging and informative videos agents can share directly with their clients, through social media or email.Plan a Cruise Month: Members-only resources and promotions that help agents make the most of CLIA’s annual consumer-based Plan a Cruise Month.Exclusive Members-Only Discounts: Discounted pricing on CLIA and Executive Partner products, including CLIA courses and event registrations.Connect with Key Cruise Line, Destination and Industry Representatives: CLIA events, including Cruise360, the largest and only official conference of the cruise industry, offer an opportunity to network with others in the industry alongside a week’s worth of professional development, ship inspections and the latest industry trends.Relevant and Timely Information: CLIA’s monthly Travel Agent Cruise News plus regular CLIA emails with members-only news alerts and professional development opportunities.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthTo learn more about CLIA Travel Agency and Individual Agent Membership, visit cruising.org/joinclia. Thursday, October 19, 2017 << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Heads up New stargazing tour launches on island of Hawaii

first_imgHead’s up: New stargazing tour launches on island of Hawaii Posted by Monday, October 22, 2018 Share ISLAND OF HAWAII — Wasabi Tours Hawaii has launched its new ‘Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour’, inviting travellers to look up – way up – and enjoy the view.Led by a local guide, these small groups visit some of the island of Hawaii’s most iconic locations, including Punaluu Black Sand Beach and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Guests will also walk through a lava tube and sample java at a Kona coffe farm.Punaluu Black Sand BeachOther highlights? A sit-down dinner at a local café, and depending on the weather, guests will also stargaze by telescope at a secluded location.For more information, go to wasabitourshawaii.com.center_img Tags: Hawaii, Wasabi Tours Hawaii Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

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Jacó Happenings

first_imgNo related posts. Last month’s leg two of the 2012 Los Sueños Signature Billfish Series showed an increase in participation with 156 anglers releasing 668 billfish.  The top angler wasFrancis Johnson, Jr., representing the boat “Sea Fix.” First place went to the boat “Bandolera” and Captain Ronnie Fields, second place to “C’est Tout Bon” and Captain Shannon Pecot and third place to “Never Say Never” and Captain Dennis Ward. For more information about tournaments at Los Sueños, contact Ashley Bretecher toll-free at 1-866-865-9759 or email a.bretecher@lsrm.com.The next meeting of the Central Pacific Women’s Group is Wed., April 18, at Hotel Cocal from 9-11 a.m. Lunch is included, as is jewelry-making instruction.All who participate will learn to make pendants and will walk away with their very own piece of jewelry. Participation costs $10, watching the meeting is free. All materials will be provided. Please contact Kathy Lynn prior to April 12 so she can be prepared with enough materials. Kathy’s creations will be on sale and 10 percent of all proceeds will be given back to our group.  For more information, contact centralpacificwomensgroup@gmail.com.Mike Marino and Vladamir Alvarado from Costa Rica Waterfall Tours have added a new exhilarating activity.  They are now offering canyoning and waterfall rappelling down a 300-foot waterfall with five rappels and two zip lines.  This high-adrenaline tour offers an exciting and challenging physical activity in one of nature’s greatest wonders.  Check it out at www.costaricawaterfalltours.com or call 2643-1834.Desi Morffe has opened a new location in Jacó Beach on the main strip below Le Loft.  Stop in and see her latest bikini designs, dresses and beach wear.  Her shop opens seven days a week at 11 a.m.  For more information, call 8813-2669 or email desimorffe@hotmail.com.Tomorrow, there more than 3,000 athletes will participate in the Jacó Extreme Challenge, which is set to begin with a Running Expo from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., followed by the race at 4 p.m. It starts at the Morgan’s Cove Hotel. For more information, please visit www.atletismoextremo.com.Lastly, Chris Clark from WRV has announced that the new Costa Rica collection T-shirts and tank tops are on sale at the El Pana Surf Shop.  Stop by and grab one before they are all gone.–Christina Truittchristina_truitt@yahoo.com Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Caribbean surf competition inspires awes

first_imgFrom the print editionBy Lucas Iturriza |  Special to The Tico TimesLast Saturday began calmly on the southern Caribbean coast. A deep blue sky stretched from the blue sea, its color broken only by the green of palm trees and lush flora along the coast. Early in the morning – about 8 a.m. – spectators began arriving at Cocles Beach to set an ideal backdrop for another installment of the classic Puerto Viejo Open Pro surf competition. This time, Beachbreak was the perfect scene for the surf celebration, where the southern Caribbean community said, “presente,” along with Costa Ricans from across the country and travelers from around the world. Alberto Torres, founder and organizer of the competition, remembers the very first Open Pro – as the competition is known in the Caribbean – seven years ago. “To think that all this started over a bowl of rondón [a regional fish soup cooked in coconut milk] on the beach. We were all local surfers back then. Look at it now,” he said, casually scanning the crowd of spectators gathered for the event. More than 1,000 people attended throughout the day.“It’s really gratifying to be able to hold the Open Pro, which is an opportunity to showcase our talented local surfers,” he said. And everyone turned out. From the home turf there was Gilbert Brown, a local legend and Caribbean surf champion, along with his brother, Ronald, who won the competition for a fourth time. They were joined by Kemba, Jordan Hernández, his father, the legendary “Topo,” and grommets Noe Mejía and Brian Aráoz, along with many other promising Caribbean Costa Rican surfers. Big names like Leo Calvo, Luis Vindas, Dani Bishko, Jason Torres, Maikol Torres, Juan Carlos Hernández, Giancarlo Méndez and Ariel Gutiérrez were also present.During this second of four competitions of the Puerto Viejo Open Pro circuit, known as the Kolbi Cup, Ronald Brown was the winner after a tight finish, while Luis Vindas – the current national champion – placed second, with Jordan Hernández taking third place after winning the first competition, and young surfer Leo Calvo placing fourth overall and first among the grommets. Following them at the podium were Juan Carlos Hernández, Bryan Arauz and Noé Mejía. Winners received a total of $1,000 cash and $1,000 in sponsor prizes.The big waves didn’t show up this time around, providing for a day of classic cutbacks, roundhouses and few aerial maneuvers. “I’m proud of the big showing of high-level surfers who crossed the country to participate in this circuit,” Torres said. “It’s a competition that is really growing, and little by little it’s helping to attain the goal of promoting this area as a destination of harmony, sport and health. At the same time, it serves as a platform to expose regional surfing to future generations, because it’s very difficult financially for local surfers to go to other places to show their talent.” The circuit is recognized by the Costa Rican Surf Federation, which will hold the second date of the national surf circuit in Puerto Viejo next year after several years away from the Caribbean coast. Saturday was a celebration, with a pounding sun that forced many spectators to seek shelter under the palm trees. Families spent the day with their children enjoying the activities. Tourists happened to be at the right place at the right time. Katy, a 22-year-old Canadian traveler was one of them. “A friend and I arrived in Puerto [Viejo] last night. Over breakfast we learned about the competition and couldn’t believe it,” she said with a broad smile. “This is the first surf competition I’ve ever seen, and it’s marvelous. They say there’s a party tonight. It doesn’t get any better than this.” In the afternoon, San José’s Hands Pro took over the main stage and put on an excellent show. Following the competition, as the sun began to set, DJ P ushered in nighttime festivities at Lazy Mon, followed by a provocative belly-dancing show by two talented local performers. Later, Toledo delighted fans with his catchy reggaeton and rap. Then, the party moved to Johnny’s Place for a fashion show by local brand Luna May and an awards ceremony. As expected, a massive party ended out the night.Ronald Brown, prophet in his own landRonald Brown was born 24 years ago in Limón, and by 10 he was already surfing. Shortly after picking up a board, he decided surfing would become his lifestyle and his job. His brother, Gilbert, helped him along by taking him to the Pacific coast, where he could practice, show off his talent and get noticed. From there, he started traveling the world representing Costa Rica in the sub-18 category, where he found plenty of competition.Having already won four Open Pro competitions, Brown said he is satisfied: “There’s a lot of talent in the Caribbean, but the Pacific is where you have to be [if you’re a surfer]. That’s where the perseverance is, along with the brands and the sponsors. But not everyone has the resources to live or travel there. That’s why this circuit is so good. It provides more opportunities and experience for local youth, and instead of using drugs, they can take part in a sport,” he said. “That’s why it’s important to support this event and see it as something positive. The Open Pro is evolving. It’s attracting top surfers, champions, and that’s what’s going to make Caribbean surfing grow. The competition, the stress, it challenges you to always be at your best. “Waves are great in the Caribbean when they’re up. On a good day, they’re world-class. Salsa Brava and Beachbreak are incredible. The Pacific is more constant, but the power and the quality tubes are here,” Brown said, adding that, “Salsa Brava is one of the best waves in Central America. Everyone’s left flesh and teeth there.”Brown is also aware that becoming a professional requires a lot of sacrifice. “You have to be dedicated and determined, and it takes a lot of discipline. You work, compete and take your job seriously, and you have to want it and go for it. You have to eat well and train a lot, just like any other sport. You have to exercise and stay hydrated,” he said. With his talent and hard work, Brown doesn’t forget whom he owes his talent to: “The basis of everything is God Almighty. I profoundly believe that. My entire life I have only surfed, and practically without doing anything I’ve had all of these opportunities. Who else could have made that happen?” Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Obama vows justice for Boston victims

first_imgU.S. President Barack Obama on Monday afternoon addressed the nation and vowed to hold those responsible for the Boston bombings accountable.After being briefed by his Homeland Security team, Obama said he had directed the full resources of the federal government “to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.”Pledging a full investigation to find out what happened, Obama said any individuals or groups responsible for what he called the “senseless” loss will “feel the full weight of justice.”The president spoke to reporters at the White House a few hours after explosions rocked an area near the finish line of Monday’s Boston Marathon.Full Statement by President Barack Obama:“Good afternoon, everybody.  Earlier today, I was briefed by my Homeland Security team on the events in Boston. We’re continuing to monitor and respond to the situation as it unfolds.  And I’ve directed the full resources of the federal government to help state and local authorities protect our people, increase security around the United States as necessary, and investigate what happened.The American people will say a prayer for Boston tonight. And Michelle and I send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims in the wake of this senseless loss.We don’t yet have all the answers. But we do know that multiple people have been wounded, some gravely, in explosions at the Boston Marathon.I’ve spoken to FBI Director Mueller and Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, and they’re mobilizing the appropriate resources to investigate and to respond.I’ve updated leaders of Congress in both parties, and we reaffirmed that on days like this there are no Republicans or Democrats – we are Americans, united in concern for our fellow citizens.I’ve also spoken with Governor Patrick and Mayor Menino, and made it clear that they have every single federal resource necessary to care for the victims and counsel the families. And above all, I made clear to them that all Americans stand with the people of Boston.Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue to do so as we speak. It’s a reminder that so many Americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf every single day, without regard to their own safety, in dangerous and difficult circumstances. And we salute all those who assisted in responding so quickly and professionally to this tragedy.We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But make no mistake – we will get to the bottom of this. And we will find out who did this; we’ll find out why they did this. Any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.Today is a holiday in Massachusetts – Patriots’ Day. It’s a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great American city of Boston has reflected from the  earliest days of our nation. And it’s a day that draws the world to Boston’s streets in a spirit of friendly competition. Boston is a tough and resilient town. So are its people. I’m supremely confident that Bostonians will pull together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. And as they do, the American people will be with them every single step of the way.You should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings. We’re still in the investigation stage at this point. But I just want to reiterate we will find out who did this and we will hold them accountable.Thank you very much.”Video courtesy of The White House Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Park rangers environmentalists face increasingly hostile conditions

first_imgRelated posts:New rule requires guides to accompany visitors in Corcovado National Park Corcovado Foundation opens budget hostel in Osa Peninsula Whale sharks spotted off the Osa Peninsula New species of passion flower discovered in Osa Peninsula Park rangers and environmentalists face growing threats to their safety as they work to protect Costa Rica’s national parks and wildlife from poachers, illegal miners and drug traffickers.The struggles park rangers face fending off illegal gold miners in the secluded Corcovado National Park, published in a Tico Times report last March and in a new story over the weekend by La Nación, are one dimension of a problem that also involves conservationists and a legal system underequipped to prosecute offenders.Miners damage Corcovado by digging up the earth, destroying riverbeds and littering. The report estimated that there are up to 250 miners responsible for damaging 10 square kilometers of the pristine national park, who remove upwards of $2,000 in gold from the park daily.But they can also be deadly. One ranger interviewed by the newspaper said a prospector put a gun to his head. Carlos Madriz Vargas, prevention and control program manager for the Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA), told the newspaper it was a matter of time before the conflict escalates.As The Tico Times reported, economic concerns–for the parks and miners–play a critical role in the mounting tensions between these two groups.Both the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE), and National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC), the government departments responsible for national parks in Costa Rica saw their budgets slashed by 15 and 16.4 percent, respectively, in 2012. When the government turned off the flow of money, private funding for the park, especially following the global financial crisis in 2008, also dried up.Unable to hire new employees, Corcovado is left with a dwindling, ageing force of rangers who are less equipped to make the rounds necessary to deter the illegal mining.Meanwhile, gold mining in the park is cyclical, driven by seasonal tourism. Faced with a lack of economic options in rural Osa, many residents turn to panning for gold in the park to make ends meet.Out-gunned and under-staffed, park rangers are forced to take on new responsibilities. “The job of the park ranger has changed from just protecting the environment to acting like police,” SINAC Director Rafael Gutiérrez told The Tico Times this month.MINAE did not respond to The Tico Times’ requests for comment.Threats and violence against rangers and environmentalists became national news when the body of 26-year-old turtle conservationist Jairo Mora was found dead with signs of torture in the province of Limón on May 31. While authorities have offered little information about the case, many believe that Mora’s killers were involved in drug trafficking.Law enforcement said that they had suspects in the case and hinted that there could be arrests as early as this week.Last week, the Costa Rican Conservation Federation (FECON) called on Ombudswoman Ofelia Taitelbaum to create a commission to investigate attacks on conservationists.Farmer and environmental activist Alcides Parajeles claimed that trespassing hunters shot at him on his property on the Osa Peninsula. The court dismissed his case after he was unable to provide witnesses.Impunity is one of the biggest hurdles to combating illegal mining, according to La Nación. Since 2011, only one out of 60 formal complaints about illegal mining ever made it to court.The newspaper pointed out when the Public Security Ministry and ACOSA conducted Operation “Green Gold,” an anti-mining sweep, in April, 16 prospectors captured were released almost immediately because there was no criminal offense for illegal mining.For the first time this June, four people were sentenced to three months in prison for illegal gold mining in Corcovado, La Nación reported. Two, however, were later released because of a lack of evidence.A new bill would reorganize the national park system and provide funds to hire more park rangers, arm them, and purchase new equipment. In the meantime, however, rangers and citizens alike face increasingly bold intruders. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Uruguay lawmakers back governmentgrown marijuana

first_imgMONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Uruguay moved closer to becoming the world’s first nation to produce and distribute marijuana, after its lower house approved a bill putting control of the drug in government hands.The controversial measure approved Wednesday was unveiled in June last year as part of a series of efforts to combat rising violence.If the measure wins Senate approval, it would mark the first time a national government takes charge of production and distribution of legal marijuana.Lawmakers argued for 14 hours before approving the text with 50 votes in favor of a total of 96.“The regulation is not meant to promote consumption,” lawmaker Sebastian Sabini, who helped draft the legislation, said at the beginning of the session.“Consumption already exists,” he argued. Nongovernmental workers favoring regulation of legal marijuana had filed into the chamber’s visitors’ galleries as lawmakers emphasized that the drug business finances organized crime.Marijuana use has doubled in the last 10 years in the small, mostly rural South American country of 3.4 million.The government of leftist President José Mujica, who is a doctor by training, has given its blessing to the measure.The lengthy debate was expected in the lower house, where the president’s left-leaning Frente Amplio (FA) party has a narrow majority. All the opposition parties are against the proposed law.The measure specifies that the government would assume control and regulation of the importation, planting, cultivation, harvesting, production, acquisition, storage, marketing and distribution of marijuana and its derivatives.After registering, users would be able to cultivate up to six plants, gain access to the drug as part of a marijuana-growing club, or purchase up to 40 grams per month at a dispensary.Marijuana users in Uruguay, not surprisingly, said they were delighted by the vote.“As a user, it is an important law because we are going to have control over (the marijuana) we consume,” said William, 21.By contrast, he said, the cannabis sold by drug traffickers contains “a lot of substances that we don’t want to consume.”Gerardo Amarilla of the opposition National Party, listing marijuana’s effects on health, saying the project was “playing with fire.”According to a survey released this week, 63 percent of people in Uruguay are against the government’s plan.Under the current law, possession of marijuana for personal use is permitted in Uruguay. Judges however can determine what quantity is considered appropriate for personal use.Many Uruguayans are concerned the law will give the impression to foreign tourists that the country is a great place to unwind with marijuana or stronger drugs.Uruguay’s National Drug Board (JND) has said that the country is home to approximately 20,000 daily marijuana users, while the total number of consumers reached 120,000.The JND estimated that 22 tons of marijuana are currently being sold in the country for between $30 and $40 million per year.The legislative debate comes one year after the measure was floated by the government and in recent months has given rise to public debate and a media campaign.“It’s a change we’ve been waiting for, and it fixes the hypocrisy in the previous law,” Juan Vaz, a spokesman for the Association of Cannabis Studies told AFP.He said that the official figures on consumption were incorrect, estimating instead that the number of regular users was closer to 200,000.But pharmacists did not favor selling marijuana in their stores.“We disagree with the sale of an abusable drug in a pharmacy, which is considered a health center,” Virginia Olmos, president of the Association of Chemists and Pharmacists of Uruguay told AFP Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

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Ombudsmans Office orders investigation of antiriot police behavior during coastal protest

first_imgRelated posts:Debate over maritime zoning legislation heats up Costa Rica’s Supreme Court tells Talamanca: You can’t declare environmentalist expats ‘personas non grata’  President voices support for extending moratorium on maritime zone evictions The best and worst of Costa Rica in 2014, according to everyone else First in a series. Read the second story here.A peaceful protest over land rights in Costa Rica’s maritime zone sparked a violent backlash from police on the Pacific coast last Monday, as anti-riot officers used tear gas to remove dozens of protesters from the Inter-American Highway in Puntarenas.Following the incident, protesters armed with video clips taken on their cellphones and by local journalists accused police of using excessive force, and the group behind the demonstration is now demanding an investigation.The faceoff took place in Chomes, Puntarenas, 127 kilometers northwest of the capital, as coastal residents organized by the National Front for Coastal Communities (Frente Nacional de Comunidades Costeras, in Spanish) blocked a road with tree branches, rocks and other debris, causing traffic to snare for several kilometers. The residents are calling for passage of a Coastal Community Land Bill, known by its Spanish acronym TECOCOS, which has stalled in the Legislative Assembly for several months. TECOCOS aims to resolve an ongoing conflict over Costa Rica’s Maritime Zone Law, which mandates the removal of homes and businesses located within the coastal maritime zone, an area 150 meters from the high tide line on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.TECOCOS would allow thousands of Costa Ricans who have lived and worked in the maritime zone for several years to keep their homes and businesses.According to members of the front, lawmakers from the ruling National Liberation Party broke a promise to pass TECOCOS, opting instead to move forward two bills drafted by the Chinchilla administration. Protesters say the PLN had agreed to pass TECOCOS in a first round of debate in the Assembly last June, along with the two government-sponsored bills, but that never happened.On Feb. 17, PLN lawmakers filed a motion to exclude the TECOCOS bill and vote only on the government’s two bills. A spokeswoman for Presidency Minister Carlos Benavides told The Tico Times that lawmakers have no plans to call TECOCOS up for discussion.The front responded by rallying dozens of protesters – from teenagers to the elderly – who gathered in the hot Pacific sun last Monday in front of a Puntarenas gas station. When protesters blocked the two-lane highway, snaring traffic, the situation turned ugly.Anti-riot police moved in, firing tear gas and smoke bombs to clear the road. Choking on the gas, several protesters fled to the nearby gas station and an adjacent restaurant, where they say they were attacked by police. Eleven people were arrested.This week, resident Stella Chinchilla filed a complaint with the Ombudsman’s Office in which she accused police of using excessive force, including allegedly attacking a 75-year-old Costa Rican man named Ignacio Velásquez. (Courtesy Frente Nacional de Comunidades Costeras)Heating upWilmar Matarrita, coordinator of the National Front of Coastal Communities, told The Tico Times he has evidence “protesters were not the aggressors,” but rather “victims of police brutality.” Matarrita said he collected testimony from local property owners, a restaurant owner, a gas station owner and the director of a local health clinic.National Police Assistant Director Pablo Bertozzi defended the police action, telling The Tico Times that the use of force was necessary after talks with the protesters failed. According to Bertozzi, traffic on the major highway had backed up 10 kilometers, and police asked demonstrators to clear both lanes. Protesters agreed to open one lane. That’s when police moved in.Bertozzi also claimed that when police attempted to remove debris from the road, demonstrators attacked them.“Police officers were obligated to respond using chemical agents [tear gas] in order to remove the protesters and establish order. As a result, 11 people were arrested, one of whom had attacked a police officer with a weapon. Police were physically attacked,” Bertozzi said.Members of the front countered by saying that police officers “attacked” women and seniors, and chased demonstrators who were trying to run from the scene.On Wednesday, the Ombudsman’s Office asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office to open an investigation of the incident. The office also asked Public Security Minister Mario Zamora to issue a detailed report justifying the use of force.Bertozzi said his staff is compiling the information requested by the Ombudsman’s Office and will respond to the allegations.“If someone believes the police used excessive force, they should go to the appropriate agencies and file an administrative complaint. We will take those complaints seriously and investigate them objectively,” Bertozzi said.Meanwhile, Matarrita called on members of the Higher Education Council of the University of Costa Rica to denounce the alleged abuse, and said that organizers planned another demonstration in coming days.“We’re going to protest again in order to force a national debate on maritime coastal zones,” Matarrita said. “But members of our communities are not going to return to the street unprotected and without national support. We’re going to protest peacefully and we’re going to use all legal means available to us.”Watch a documentary video of the conflict (in Spanish) here:center_img Read a Spanish version of this story here. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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The 36 best Gustavo Cerati songs to get you through the day

first_imgThe world lost a musical icon today with the death of Argentine singer, songwriter and unequaled rocker Gustavo Cerati. Cerati died at 55 after spending four years in a coma due to a brain aneurysm.We, like so many others, are devastated by the loss, but thankfully Cerati’s legend lives on in the diverse music he and his colleagues created. To celebrate Cerati’s life, we made a playlist to get us through the day. We picked our 36 favorite songs from his solo career and during his time with Soda Stereo. If you haven’t listened to his music before, start right now.R.I.P., Cerati.“Hay vacíos que no pueden llenar…” Facebook Comments Related posts:Legendary crooner Joe Cocker dies at 70 Argentine rock star Charly García successfully undergoes hip surgery Kevin Johansen and The Nada to join illustrator Liniers in live art-music show in Escazú CELAC should be seen as an ally of the region’s social movements, says indigenous leaderlast_img read more

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Global antiviolence campaign dances through San José

first_imgThis past Saturday, passersby in the Plaza de la Cultura in the heart of San José got a Valentine’s Day surprise: a flash mob, whose choreographed dance was part of an international call to end violence against women. Participants in 200 countries around the world performed similar dances as part of the “One Billion Rising” movement, whose name refers to the one billion women in the world.To the music and words of “Breaking the Chains,” a song composed for One Billion Rising, women of all ages and backgrounds performed a simple dance in the open air of the plaza, having learned the steps from the website or in groups around Costa Rica. The public was invited to join in.Drummers drummed, singers sang, break dancers twirled, and under the leadership of drummer Mitch Robertson, a Native American from the United States, hundreds of women dressed in red paraded around the Plaza to a spot in front of the stage where performers led the dance.One Billion Rising was created 17 years ago by Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues. Three years ago, the movement reached Costa Rica when Blooms, a group in Grecia, performed the dance in their town. Last year several women’s groups joined in and it was moved to the Plaza de la Cultura in San José. This year the National Women’s Institute (INAMU) was the main sponsor, along with co-sponsors including Blooms, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Humanitarian Foundation, students from the University for Peace, and various Costa Rican museums. In the weeks before the event, groups of women formed impromptu dance troupes and met to practice the dance.Although in Costa Rica the number of femicides has gone down in recent years, there were 20 in 2014. In the month between Dec. 21, 2014 and Jan. 31, 2015, two women were murdered by their ex-partners; a 14-year-old girl was killed, allegedly by someone she met through the internet; and a sex worker was gang-raped and thrown from a car.In the first six months of last year the National Women’s Institute (INAMU) attended 3,700 complaints of aggression. The 911 emergency system receives an average of 100 calls a day for domestic problems. During the World Cup games in which Costa Rica played in mid-2014, there were over 600 calls in one day.Of course, violence again women is a worldwide phenomenon. Speakers from the various groups present at Saturday’s event referred the fact that in addition to acts of physical violence, verbal abuse, insults, jokes about women, and publicity using women’s images in a derogatory manner are common in most any country and are another form of violence.“This event was very effective in expressing in a different and proactive way our concern about violence toward women,” said Kattia Solís, from INAMU’s Gender Violence division, in an email. Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica launches plan to curb violence against women Violence against women in the age of new technology Abortion and politics on the campaign trail When will violence against women stop?last_img read more

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Human rights court backs Costa Ricas decree on legalizing IVF

first_imgRelated posts:Human rights court admits new IVF complaint against Costa Rica Costa Rica’s Supreme Court strikes down decree on IVF legalization, orders lawmakers to act Costa Rican president presents draft decree to legalize in vitro fertilization Costa Rica’s Supreme Court throws out constitutional challenges to IVF decree The Inter-American Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled that a decree tolegalize and regulate in vitro fertilization, signed by Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís last September, complies with a 2012 ruling from that court.Justices of the San José-based court issued a report on the measures implemented by Costa Rica to comply with the 2012 ruling, which overturned an IVF ban adopted in 2000 by the country’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV.“It should be understood that IVF is authorized in Costa Rica and it must immediately be allowed by both private and public health services,” the report sent Tuesday afternoon states.It says the executive decree demonstrated “clear and concrete evidence of the Costa Rican government’s willingness to abide by the ruling.”The IACHR in November 2012 ordered Costa Rica to lift the ban on IVF, to pass laws to regulate the procedure and allow its application at both public and private hospitals.Hubert May and Boris Molina, two attorneys representing couples who filed the complaint with the human rights court, said they are pleased with Tuesday’s ruling. They asked Sala IV justices to respect the decision or they would be “forced to file criminal charges.”The attorneys urged lawmakers to continue working on a draft bill to regulate IVF, but they noted the bill’s approval is not required to begin offering the procedure in Costa Rica.President Solís at a press conference said the ruling is a clear and specific order for all Costa Rican government agencies to fully comply with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ orders.“The implementation of IVF in our country both at public and private [hospitals] from this moment on is a priority for this administration,” the president said.May noted that the IACHR’s backing of the executive decree allows the procedure to be implemented as soon as tomorrow. He said plaintiffs would begin contacting the Public Health Ministry and the Social Security System to agree on a timetable to begin the procedure for those who are still able to undergo it. For some, it is too late due to their age.The Health Ministry is currently drafting a protocol of all technical regulations and procedures governing IVF, “according to all scientific and medical criteria,” the ministry’s press office reported on Tuesday evening. Health Minister Fernando Llorca said the document outlining technical regulations is about 90 percent completed.Solís signed the executive decree on Sept. 10, 2015. It went into effect on Oct. 11. Among its provisions, the decree grants the Health Ministry a six-month period for drafting all technical regulations, and officials are still within that timetable.May believes that if everything goes as planned, procedures at private hospitals could begin in about three months, and in six months at public hospitals.“This procedure has to be implemented in a serious and scientific way. We can’t open the door to any irregularities such as allowing IVF to become a business. We have to remain vigilant that the spirit of public health prevails above all,” May told The Tico Times.The IACHR issued its report just a day before the end of the current period of sessions.Watch President Luis Guillermo Solís’ statements on the IACHR’s ruling: Facebook Commentslast_img read more

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Costa Rican Mens National Team hopes to make history again in Mexico

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rica returns with full-strength lineup in last step toward World Cup qualifying Costa Rica humiliates the United States 4-0 in World Cup qualifier Costa Rica seeking revenge against the United States Costa Rica’s La Sele stays on World Cup track with 1-1 tie against Honduras For now, Costa Rica has the overall lead in the final CONCACAF group stage for World Cup Qualifying and a two-point advantage over second-place Mexico.The high-altitude Azteca Stadium has caused problems for Costa Rica in its last four scoreless trips there for qualifying games, where the Ticos have lost three and drawn one since the historic 2001 upset.Coach Óscar Ramírez said in a press conference this week that he noticed a visible boost in his group’s confidence on the heels of its first-place start in the six-team Hexagonal stage. In terms of what the notorious Azteca can do to rattle that confidence, Ramírez was quick to downplay Mexico’s home field advantage.“I feel that now because many years have passed, the opponents are able to study more and give themselves a calmer feeling to play their style,” he said.Once the teams take the field Friday night, it will be worth watching to find out whether Costa Rica can keep its composure in front of the most hostile crowd in the CONCACAF. Led again by its first string for the first time since November’s dismantling of the United States, La Sele boasts veteran stars Keylor Navas and Bryan Ruíz as experienced centerpieces to help guide Costa Rica out of Mexico with a positive result.“Playing on the road against any opponent is always complicated,” Ruíz told reporters at a Tuesday practice. “But Mexico has always had a real strength at home, especially at the Azteca.” Cristian Bolaños has scored four goals in Costa Rica’s past three World Cup Qualifying matches. Ezequiel Becerra/AFPAfter 16 years and a long string of defeats to Mexico – who at one point won 11 straight matches against Costa Rica following El Aztecazo – Costa Rica and Coach Ramírez say they’re now ready to make history again.Ramírez had his own Aztecazo experience in 2013 when his Alajuelense team beat noted Mexican club América 1-0 in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage.“All games are different, but this could be the right moment,” Ramírez said. “The idea is to force the game we want on them and get another Aztecazo.”Honduras and a familiar faceTruthfully, holding for a tie may be the best result Costa Rica can hope for against Mexico, although it ultimately may not matter much either way. As long as La Sele pulls a positive result from its subsequent match in Honduras, it should keep its ground at or near the Hexagonal lead.Tuesday’s match in San Pedro Sula presents Costa Rica with not just a respectable CONCACAF rival, but laso a familiar name that brings out a wide range of emotions from Tico fans. Jorge Luís Pinto, the fiery manager who guided Costa Rica to its best ever World Cup result in 2014, has been coaching Honduras since his abrupt and controversial firing from La Sele.Pinto and Honduras, which currently sits in fourth place, would love nothing more than to put itself in the top three qualifying spots with some poetic justice against Costa Rica.Still, the extremely inconsistent Honduran side has trouble against more defensive-minded teams. Costa Rica’s five-man backline could be the perfect antidote against Honduras, even with normal starting defender Óscar Duarte out with an injury.Central defender Giancarlo González has been in and out of Ramírez’s selections but could be relied upon heavily this time around. While playing his club ball in Italy’s first division, Gonzalez has never been able to really regain top form since his days under Pinto, when he was named one of the top-11 players at the 2014 World Cup.When Costa Rica has struggled in tournament and qualifying play, it has been largely due to hiccups in the middle of its defense. Too often, opponents have been able to get through and behind the heart of Costa Rica’s five-man line and cause problems for Navas and La Sele’s other goalkeepers.Look for González to be featured in the starting backline alongside Kendall Waston, Ronald Matarrita, Cristian Gamboa and Johnny Acosta.Mexico and Costa Rica will kick off from La Azteca Friday night at 7:50 p.m. Costa Rican time. Costa Rica travels to Honduras next Tuesday to take on Los Catrachos at 3 p.m. Costa Rican time. Facebook Comments History does not bode well for Costa Rica on the verge of its Friday World Cup Qualifier in Mexico. Not only does Costa Rica rarely play well against Mexico in any location, it has only defeated the Mexican national team on its own turf once.During a fateful June 2001 World Cup Qualifier in Mexico’s famed Azteca Stadium that has now been elevated to the level of Costa Rican folklore, the Ticos temporarily bucked history’s trend and became the first country to win at La Azteca in a qualifying match.“El Aztecazo,” as the 2-1 win is now adoringly referred to in Costa Rica, was marked by a perfect free kick by La Sele’s all-time leading goal scorer Rolando Fonseca and a timely rebound by decorated forward Hernán Medford.By any definition, the comeback win remains one of the most important games in Costa Rican history. However, it would remain the one and only time Costa Rica has won in Mexico.last_img read more

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Bitterness and beauty

first_img Facebook Comments PHOTOS: Latin Americans gather in Costa Rica for graffiti festival One particular image from this morning’s story on a graffiti festival held on San Pedro’s Calle de la Amargura, or “Street of Bitterness,” near the University of Costa Rica, is so luscious that it needs to be savored on its own. The artist seems to melt into the wall he’s flooding with color in a collegiate neighborhood known for its head-turning murals, scribbles and unexpected flourishes.If you’re in San José this week and need to get your creative juices flowing, there’s an east-side walk with your name on it.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to kstanley@ticotimes.net. We’d love to see the sights with you.center_img Related posts:Deadly beauty Go, Jason, go! Not too shabby Espressivo brings ‘Battlefield’ to National Theater for iconic building’s anniversarylast_img read more

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Quilt exhibition scheduled for this weekend in Pérez Zeledón

first_imgOn Sunday, Pérez Zeledón, in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone, will host a quilting exhibition to celebrate the work of local quilting artists.The exhibition, “For the Love of Quilting,” will take place at the Best Western Hotel Zima in Pérez Zeledón on Sunday, April 8, from 12 to 5 p.m. The entrance fee is of ₡1,000; a quilt raffle will be held.For more information visit Pérez Zeledón’s Quilt Exhibition Facebook event page  or send an email at elticomata@yahoo.com.  Facebook Comments Related posts:What to do in Costa Rica: concerts, culture and love around the country After vibrant first weekend, International Arts Fest continues through April 15 PHOTOS: The final days of Costa Rica’s International Arts Festival Ballet performance raises funds for low-income patients and familieslast_img read more

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