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In world of amphibians, a rare bright spot

SAN JOSE — Global amphibian news tends to be a downer. Acutely vulnerable to the slightest environmental change, frogs, toads and salamanders are too often described as "disappearing."

Cuba says no, gracias to OAS

Following the historic about-face by the Organization of American States (OAS) to allow Cuba to rejoin, Cuba’s government has officially rejected the offer. Cuba claims to “repudiate” the hemispheric club of nations and what Cuba considers the group’s supporting role in United States hostility toward the revolutionary island.

Gringos tremble in Monster’s Cave

The U.S. Men’s National Team lived up to a long-held legend Wednesday night, which says the “gringo” soccer team quakes in the presence of “La Cueva del Monstruo” (the Monster’s Cave)  — the delightful name given to the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium north of San Jose. The lone goal made via Landon Donovan’s late penalty kick did little to appease the Monstruo, which chomped up and spit out the Americans 3-1 with seemingly little effort.

Cuba voted back into the OAS ... if it wants

The region's leaders and government officials meeting in Honduras made history today, voting to lift the 47-year suspension of Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American States (OAS). The move came despite a push by the U.S. to only admit Cuba on condition it introduces democratic reforms and improves respect for human rights.

US job loss is Costa Rica's gain

TURRIALBA, Costa Rica — For generations, coffee and sugar cane have kept many of the working people employed in this charming village plopped amid lush green mountains and the smoke-spewing Turrialba volcano 33 miles east of San Jose. Now a new Firestone air springs plant has opened up, which locals hope will slow the flight of many of the area’s nearly 80,000 inhabitants seeking work elsewhere. However, as the globalization game often plays out, what goes up in one town must come down in another.

Where are all the tourists?

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — “When the United States sneezes, we catch a cold,” a Costa Rican hotel owner said recently. He wasn't talking about swine flu. The tourism industry, vital to the Costa Rican economy, has been reeling from the global downturn, with estimates of up to a 13 percent decline in visitors in the first quarter from the same period in 2008. Now, with the onset of the low season, hoteliers and tour operators are bracing for an even harder fall.

Costa Rica could rebound by 2010

Although the economic indicators are grim, the International Monetary Fund has offered a ray of hope for Costa Rica. The country will likely rebound by 2010, with output growth of 1.5 percent, an IMF representative said Monday morning, reports business newspaper El Financiero's website .

Why you won't see Costa Rican shrimp on US menus

SAN JOSE — The U.S. State Department this month banned imports of Costa Rican shrimp because of this country's failure to enforce laws that prevent shrimpers from catching and drowning endangered sea turtles in their trawl nets. The news came as a blow to a country thought to be leading a green revolution: There are fears here that the ban will tarnish Costa Rica's eco-friendly reputation. In addition, there are economic concerns. Costa Rica's seafood has slowly crept onto menus at U.S. restaurants in recent years.

Fighting for recognition

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The blare of a conch shell horn, used by indigenous Costa Ricans, bounces off the concrete buildings in this capital city’s legislative and judicial district. A few blocks away, the horn of a nearly dilapidated train honks just as loudly, creating what seems like a call-and-response. The indigenous residents protesting here outside the Legislative Assembly begin to chuckle — as if to say, at last, somebody, or something, is replying to their pleas.

100 days of gratitude

For a country considered one of Washington’s best buds in Central America, Costa Rica offers fleeting media interest marking the first 100 days of the new guy in charge up north, with only a few opinion pieces running in Tico papers and a side-note on leading TV networks.
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