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US Embassy Delivers Bulletproof Tactical Vehicles Donated by The US to Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Ministry of Security had made the announcement some months back of the donation by United States of three tactical vehicles known in Costa Rica as “Bestias” to be used by Specialized Units.

Today, in an official act with the presence of the director of the Judicial Investigation Organism, Walter Espinoza, Mariano Figueres, Director of Intelligence and Security and US Ambassador to Costa Rica Sharon Day, among others.

The three tactical vehicles are bulletproof and will help the police forces in their operations to battle organized crime.

Walter Espinoza commented: “The Costa Rican government is very grateful to the United States for this donation and the support they’ve always shown us, these cars are an important tool that will allow us to continue working to control the criminality in the country and do our job more efficiently. We already have a name for the car we are receiving, we are naming it “El Justiciero” ( “The Vigilante” ) to go along with “El Protector” (“The Protector”) which was the first vehicle used by the team of tactical response. The ultimate beneficiary is the country and its citizens. We will take on the responsibility to ensure this resource is used adequately”.

Ambassador Sharon Day stated “More than a century ago our US President Theodore Roosevelt used a phrase that comes to mind to me today when I see these trucks ‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’, if Roosevelt were alive today to see these magnificent ‘Bestias’ I think he might say something very similar, perhaps he would look at these vehicles and say ‘Speak softly but drive a big truck’, this donation worth 625 thousand dollars may not seem like an obvious project by the United States Embassy to support, because after all Costa Rica is a peaceful country and cautious about government force , but Costa Rica also knows that it is now immune to the raising threat of drug trafficking nor is it immune to the increase of violence in the country… These trucks will help your security agencies patrol through the neighborhoods no matter how tough the situation or neighborhood may be. These trucks symbolize the strong bilateral relationship between our countries”.

Sharon Day highlighted that in just last year the US government invested more than $30 million to help train and equip Costa Rica’s security and justice sectors.

The United States had already donated two ships that should be arriving to the country later this year for use by the Coast Guard Service; currently a team of Costa Rican officers are receiving training for the use of the same in the United States.

by Laura Alvarado ,The Costa Rica Star

Costa Rica Included Among World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations.

Costa Rica claimed a spot in the 2018 list of The World’s Ten Best Ethical Destinations, a ranking created by Ethical Travel, an all-volunteer non-profit organization and project of the Earth Island Institute.

“Every year, Ethical Traveler reviews the policies and practices of hundreds of nations in the developing world. We then select the ten that are doing the most impressive job of promoting human rights, preserving the environment, and supporting social welfare—all while creating a lively, community-based tourism industry. By visiting these countries, we can use our economic leverage to reward good works and support best practices. No money or donations of any kind are solicited or accepted from any nations, governments, travel bureaus, or individuals in the creation of our annual list.”, states the report.

The ten countries that made the list are: Belize, Benin, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mongolia, Palau, St. Kitts & Nevis, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.

Costa Rica also appeared in the 2017 list. Ethical Traveler explains that the list is created through surveys in which they focus in four general categories: environmental protection, social welfare, animal welfare and human rights; “For each category, we look at information past and present to understand not only the current state of a country but how it has changed over time. This process helps us to select nations that are actively improving the state of their people, government, and environment. Our goal is to encourage the behaviors we see as creating a safer and more sustainable world”.

Once they have identified 25 “short list” performers they focus on actions these governments have taken over the past year to improve or weaken policies and practices in their countries.

“For a country to make our list, of course, it must excel in more than metrics. Each Ethical Destination also offers unspoiled natural beauty, great outdoor activities, and the opportunity to interact with local people and cultures in a meaningful, mutually enriching way”, 
continues the report.

Some of the actions highlighted for Costa Rica include:

-The launching of an initiative in 2018 to aid elderly citizens in finding work; currently, only about 25 per cent of people over 60 are gainfully employed.

-The goal set of carbon neutrality by 2021; also the fact that Costa Rica ran nearly 100% in renewable sources and the fact that the plans for a new El Diquís dam, which, even though it would increase the country’s renewable energy capacity, would have a devastating impact on the lands of indigenous communities, were blocked in court.

-The commitment of the country to address the regional refugee and displacement crisis.

-The imposition of criminal charges for the illegal trade of shark fins, which made a historic ruling… however in this matter the report states: “Costa Rica is one of the world’s few countries to ban the export of hammerhead shark fins. Nevertheless, conservationists remain alarmed because the administration of President Luis Solís has worked tirelessly to lift the ban, imposed in 2015, to allow the export of eight tons of fins amassed since the ban took effect. This would be detrimental to the species’ survival. We will follow this issue closely when considering Costa Rica for next year’s list. Also a very positive evolution regarding animal rights in 2017, Costa Rica made killing, mistreating, or abandoning pets a crime.

By Laura Alvarado, The Costa Rica Star

 

U.S. Department of State Ranks Costa Rica a Level 1 Safe Country for Travel..

The Department of State recently made a new system available for US travelers to have access to security information on their travel destination.

In the past the Department of State only issued travel warnings and advisories which informed travelers about any particular dangerous situations in the different countries; this new option provides safety and security information for every country in the world, and offers important details on situations that could affect tourists; ranking the countries according to their security in levels 1 to 4.

Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions: Lowest-advisory level for safety and security risk.

Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security.

Level 3: Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel because of serious risk to safety and security.

Level 4: Do Not Travel: Highest risk advisory level. Greater Likelihood of life-threating risks.

Costa Rica is included in the Level 1 “Exercise normal precautions in Costa Rica. Some areas have increased risk”.

Among the precautions issued for the country is the warning of not traveling to the Poas Volcano National Park (natural disaster) and to exercise precaution in the central neighborhood in Limon, the city of Liberia in Guanacaste, the neighborhood of San Rafael in Desamparados, Pavas and Hospital (downtown San Jose) all in the San Jose province. The warning issued for these neighborhoods have to do with criminal activity such as armed robberies and assaults as well as homicides.

Other countries like Mexico and Nicaragua are ranked in Level 2, while El Salvador and Honduras are in Level 3.

Countries ranked in level 4 include: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, among others.

If Your Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover Dental, Travel to Costa Rica

There is certainly a lot to be said with regards to health insurance in the United States and what it covers, we are not getting into this subject except to say that it is not uncommon for health plans to not include dental coverage; and even when you choose a plan that does include dental or opt for a separate dental insurance the majority of times the coverage only applies for needed or basic treatments and not for cosmetic services or what they many times call elective treatments.

It is certainly a shame that many dental treatments are considered “elective” or even “cosmetic” since for the most part all dental treatments have to do not just with having a nice smile, but also with a person’s self-esteem, their security, overall health and even economic opportunities. Unfortunately, as we stated before, getting implants or a full mouth reconstruction in the United States is considered “luxury” and the prices to get these services privately speak to this.

An option that should be considered is dental tourism, since it’s an ideal alternative to getting quality dental care at good prices while at the same time having the experience of visiting a foreign country; Costa Rica has positioned itself as one of the best destinations for dental care.

One of the main reasons to consider dental tourism has to do, of course, with prices, prices for dental care in Costa Rica in comparison to the United States can be as much as 75% cheaper than the United States, without sacrificing quality of professional care or materials, granted it all depends on the clinic and professional you pick, but for instance, a clinic such as Flikier Dental Institute has experienced professionals, the majority of which speak English and have studied in the United States, this clinic is certified in Costa Rica by all mandatory entities and is part of several specialties associations in the US; Flikier Institute works only with high quality materials. The reason prices are lower is because of the cost of labor, so being able to save money in your dental treatment will allow you to actually visit some of the wonderful sites this country has to offer.

Having a healthy smile is not a luxury, it is an investment in your physical and emotional health and you’ll be surprised how far it takes you in your job or business. If you are not able to afford comprehensive dental care in the United States get thedental care you need in Costa Rica.

By. Laura Alvarado, The Costa Rica Star

Costa Rican Tourism Board Shares Recipe for Traditional Tico Tamales

Introducing unique traditions from around the world into your family festivities is a fun way to celebrate the holidays. In Costa Rica, tamales are a must at Christmas time. Ticos gather days beforehand for a tamaleada—an occasion where the whole gang comes together to prepare and cook delicious tamales, making for an excellent activity to enjoy with loved ones. Once the tamales are ready they are served at holiday parties and shared with other families, friends and neighbors.

While tamales are a common dish throughout Central and South America, Ticos have their own twist on the recipe. Authentic Costa Rican tamales include rice, garbanzo beans and potatoes. They can also be made with chicken, beef, pork or a combination of these. For a new take on holiday dinner traditions, invite family and friends over, turn on the festive music and give this traditional chicken tamal recipe a go.

Costa Rican Chicken Tamales Recipe

The recipe below uses two whole chickens, but can easily be replaced with any meat of your choice.

Ingredients

Meat and stock

2 whole chickens, cut into pieces
3 bunches celery, cut in large chunks
2 red bell peppers, cut in chunks
2 onions, cut in slices
2 carrots, cut in large pieces
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of parsley
Fresh oregano and thyme
Salt, pepper, Worchester sauce, annatto paste
1 garlic head
Oil

Tamales

6 cups ground corn masa
6 cups mashed potatoes
250 grams base of ground pork rind
1 ¼ cups pork lard
16 cups stock from the meat
Salt and pepper
3-4 Tbsp complete seasoning
Powdered hot chili pepper (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder

Fillings (your choice)

Chicken meat
Rice cooked with annatto
Capers
Garbanzo beans
Sweet whole kernel corn
Strips of roasted peppers
Petit pois
Prunes
Raisins
Black beans
Peeled carrots, cut in julienne strips and cooked al dente with salt and sugar
Green beans, cut in pieces and cooked al dente with salt and sugar
Wrap,clean plantain leaves.

Instructions

In a heavy pot, in oil, fry chicken until golden brown. Then add 20 cups of water, which you will bring to a boil. Once boiling, add vegetables, garlic, Worchester sauce, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat, until chicken is tender. This should yield about 16 cups of stock, but you can add more water if necessary. Shred chicken by hand and reserve stock.

Mix ground corn masa and mashed potatoes together. In food processor, blend pork rind and pork lard with stock and add to masa. Process for a few minutes, until smooth—the consistency should be like a soft porridge. Add complete seasoning.

Cut plantain leaves into 12 inch rectangles. Align the two leaves—one horizontal, the other vertical. In the center of the leaves place a cup of corn masa, a piece of cooked chicken, a tablespoon of rice, 2 olives, 4 chickpeas, 1 tablespoon of corn, capers, raisins, one prune, a little petit pois, green beans, carrots, mashed beans and a slit of roasted pepper. For a vegetarian option, tamales can instead be filled with mashed potatoes, beans and vegetables.

To close the tamal, roll from the center and fold the edges towards the inside. Proceed likewise with the second plantain leaf and securely tie together with butcher’s twine. Line the bottom of a large pot with extra plantain leaves. Fill the pot halfway with water, bring to a boil and add salt. Place tamales in water and cook for 45-60 minutes. Serve warm.

Traditionally, Costa Rican tamales are cooked over a firewood fire to enhance their flavors. Try this method and enjoy your tamal with a cup of coffee for a complete Tico experience.

SOURCE Costa Rica Tourism Board

By: Laura Alvarado, The Costa Rica Star

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