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Costa Rica’s Chinchilla hits the ground running

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Fresh from a sunny, outdoor inauguration Saturday morning, new Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla wasted no time starting her new job. She swiftly swore in her cabinet and a number of top officials. Then, by a little past noon, she had signed four executive decrees. This woman means business.

Leaving office, Arias reflects on his legacy

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — During a United Nations meeting about nuclear arms proliferation last September, a 69-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate cleared his throat to deliver bold remarks to a room of world leaders with high-powered armies.

English teacher's helper

Photo caption: Cynthia Vargas will be among the English teachers to test out the new pilot program starting Monday, using laptops and learning software at more than 100 schools across Costa Rica. (Alex Leff/GlobalPost) SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The melody sounded familiar, but not the lyrics. Entirely unconcerned about accuracy, a Costa Rican taxi driver was serenading his passenger with what he sensed could be the words — or at least sounds — to Elton John's "Sacrifice."

Trial of ex-president of Costa Rica under way

SAN JOSE — Costa Rica this week is witnessing its second-ever court trial involving corruption accusations against an ex-president. Former President Miguel Angel Rodriguez faces allegations that he accepted kickbacks in exchange for a $149 million contract from French cellphone maker Alcatel to provide phone lines here while he was president in 2001. More than half a dozen other former officials, including ex-employees of the state-run power and telecom company, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE), also are implicated.

Newly rich and not afraid to show it in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — A new crop of high-end shops is sprouting up in a leafy San Jose suburb, signaling a new trend in luxury shopping here, and raising brows about the habits of Costa Rica’s emerging “nouveau riche.” Jewels by Tiffany, threads by Armani and shoes by Ferragamo are among the posh apparel that will adorn store windows in the sparkling new wing of the Multiplaza Escazu mall.

Meet the new Ticas

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — In Costa Rica, one woman will soon be president. Another is training to summit Mt. Everest. Meet the new Ticas. They are increasingly taking jobs out of the home and putting their careers first. Many are opting out of motherhood altogether. They are slowly rising up the corporate ladder and climbing the echelons of government.

Costa Rica's mysterious stone spheres

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — A solitary, round sculpture that could pass as a simple work of modern art lends a sense of calm to this otherwise gritty, architecturally challenged capital city. But the stone ball is actually a relic of pre-Columbian times with origins that remain a mystery. Since it and 300 others were uncovered in the country's southern Pacific region, theories to explain their purpose have run the gamut: Were they deposited to communicate with aliens? Does their placement outline some sort of galactic map? Do they hail from the descendants of Atlantis?

After Haiti and Chile, Is Costa Rica next in line for the "big one"?

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — In the aftermath of severe earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, many Costa Ricans have become a little jittery. Disaster officials and volcano experts raced today to muzzle rumors that Costa Rica could see the "big one," whether in a massive earthquake or disastrous volcanic eruption.

Chile quake: The view from Valdivia

VALDIVIA, Chile – One of the world’s six-largest earthquakes in recorded history has left hundreds dead and damaged buildings, roads, and bridges throughout central Chile. Chileans slowly are becoming aware of the breadth of the disaster, which President Michelle Bachelet called "a catastrophe of devastating consequences."
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