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Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio gets own stamp
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The post office has come out with a stamp honoring Parque National Manuel Antonio, widely considered the crown jewel of Costa Rican environmental protection.

The stamp has been issued to mark the Día de los Parques Nacionales.

Correos de Costa Rica said that the stamp bears a photo taken by Oscar Masís Chaves showing the famous Punta Catedral. The park is 40 years old this year.

The stamp has a value of 545 colons or about $1.11 at the current exchange rate. The post office also is selling a three-stamp set contained
Manuel Antonio stamp
This is a proof of the Manuel Antonio stamp.

in a folder that has a photo of two white-tailed deer on a beach at Manuel Antonio.

Correos noted that the Manuel Antonio park gets some 318,000 visitors a year. The park is known all over the world for its beaches, trails and wildlife.

European research firm is bullish on 2012 tourism
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A European research firm expects Costa Rica to host nearly 2.5 million tourists this year, but warns that the proliferation of drug-trafficking throughout Central America is posing a challenge to Costa Rican authorities and potentially deterring tourism to the region.

The company is Research and Markets, which generates reports on many industries. The Dublin firm noted that Nicaragua, as well as the United States and Canada, are the major sources for Costa Rican tourists.

The report said that tourism would continue to grow by about 7 percent until 2016.

The estimates seem higher than even the most optimistic of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo.
The firm also said there was untapped potential in the province of Limón:

“The planned regeneration of the province of Limón, on the less frequently visited Caribbean coast, has the potential to put upward pressure on inbound tourism numbers. Puerto Limón was once the town of the United Fruit Company (the predecessor of Chiquita Brands International) and the province has two national parks. . . . In our view, developing tourism infrastructure in the region is likely to unlock great potential.”

The report also said that Costa Rica is competing with newer destinations such as Puerto Rico for the millions of Americans, and people from other countries, who travel abroad for medical care.

It said that Costa Rica continued to develop its infrastructure to tap further into a growing market.

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Visits by U.S. boats again
fails to pass in legislature

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For awhile Friday, security officials thought that lawmakers had approved the entry of some 17 U.S. ships to Costa Rican ports. This has been a month-long effort for the administration.

Friday the Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública sent out an announcement that the shore leave for these U.S. warships had been approved. But that was an error.

A short time later, the ministry sent out a correction and said that officials there had been incorrectly informed about what happened in the legislature Friday. Aides at the legislature thought that the approval for docking and shore leave had been approved. But what really happened is that lawmakers voted to consider the measure without the formal reading of the lengthy document. They never actually voted on the measure itself.

Then when time came to discuss the measure, Claudio Enrique Monge Pereira of the Partido Acción Ciudadana began a lengthy address. Eventually enough lawmakers left the room so that there no longer was a quorum.

When a quorum was reestablished, lawmakers moved on to another theme.

Monge prevented consideration of the measure earlier in the month. The boats are on patrol in both the Pacific and Caribbean trying to capture drug smugglers.

Meanwhile, the request from the security ministry to lawmakers revealed that the United States is expected to buy an estimated $2.9 million in fuel and pay port fees of some $384,673 for the 17 ships. In addition, the crews are estimated to spend $702,6563 in hotels, food and drinks during their shore leaves. The fuel will come from the state-owned Refinadora Costarricense de Petróleo.

The visits by individual ships is scheduled to last until May 22 with each vessel docking from one to three days. Eight of the visits are expected to be in Golfito and nine in Limón. All are staffed by members of the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as U.S. Navy personnel.

The Costa Rican constitution prohibits the arrival of foreign warships without legislative approval.

U.S. team from Honduras
treats 704 on Pacific coast

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Members of U.S. military services said they treated 704 patients during a two-day visit to the central Pacific coast.

In all, 38 persons from Joint Task Force-Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras traveled to San Juan and Damitas, both in Puntarenas province. The visit was coordinated with the Ministerio de Salud and the Caja Costarricense de Saguro Social, said the U.S. southern Command.

Patients received preventative medicine briefings, health screenings, dental care, and prescription medicine, the military said.

The effort was a medical readiness training exercise, said the Southern Command. There are several mission objectives to these exercises, to include providing U.S. military personnel training in delivering medical care in austere conditions, promoting diplomatic relations between the U.S. and host nations in Central America, and providing humanitarian and civic assistance via a long-term proactive program, said 1st Lt. Christopher Diazo, who wrote about the exercise.

Noise impact on dolphin
being studied at Boca del Toro

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Researchers are studying the impact of tourists and noise on bottleneck dolphin that can be found in Dolphin Bay in Panama’s Boca del Toro just south of Costa Rica.

The researchers are with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In one two-hour period, the researchers said they counted 37 boats with tourists coming to see dolphin. The institute said that some at the controls of the boats move in quietly, but others full throttle to the location.

The institute researchers also are taking skin samples of the dolphin to obtain a DNA outline of the creatures there. They use a special rifle to snag little pieces of tissue.

Part of the study is to determine the impact of tourism on the mammals.

Find out what the papers
said today in Spanish

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Here is the section where you can scan short summaries from the Spanish-language press. If you want to know more, just click on a link and you will see and longer summary and have the opportunity to read the entire news story on the page of the Spanish-language newspaper but translated into English.

Translations may be a bit rough, but software is improving every day.

When you see the Summary in English of news stories not covered today by A.M. Costa Rica, you will have a chance to comment.

This is a new service of A.M. Costa Rica called Costa Rica Report. Editor is Daniel Woodall, and you can contact him
From the Costa Rican press
News items posted Monday through Friday by 8 a.m.
Click a story for the summary

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 175
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Country works to eliminate an enemy of the ozone layer
By Kayla Pearson
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica has been reducing the use of methyl bromide, a gas harmful to the Ozone layer. The chemical has been found in pesticides for the last 10 years.  Next year farmers will not
Cartago stawberries and a pair of gerberas
be able to buy methyl bromide and the chemical can't be imported in, according to the Ministerio de Agriculture y Ganadería.

To coincide with the change, several agriculturists have worked to cultivate a safe, environmentally friendly, and economical product. So far growers in the Cartago area have had positive results.

The Asociación de Productores Agrícolas located in Llano Grande of Cartago, is one of the many farming organizations backed by the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of
energy.  Biotechnology engineers grow six variations of fungi called Tricodema in a heated room with rice.

The mixture can be rinsed and the water that is collected can be applied by an irrigation system or pumped back to be used on crops such as flowers, potatoes, onions and strawberries.

"The fungus Trichoderma is an antagonist that fights other fungi completely eliminating them from the land.  The great advantage of this method is that it does not release polluting materials that weaken the ozone layer," said Maria Guzman, vice minister of energy.

The Asociación de Productores Agrícolas produces 600 kilograms a month of the alternative product. This new agent works as both a pesticide and can be decomposed into a fertilizer without the destructive effects.  Another benefit is it helps prevent disease with plants and controls the infiltration of pests such as the whitefly and worm, said Engineer Martha Monge Aguilar.  Methyl bromide has been used as a soil fumigant.

Once installed on the farm, the fungus works indefinitely creating a natural defense in the plants.

Farmers and businessmen who have implemented this biological by product have had a 95 percent decrease in pollution to the atmosphere and ozone layer, said officials.

The efforts that Costa Rica has implemented to care for the ozone layer are in conjunction with the Protocolo de Montreal. The final act will be a complete ban of methyl bromide after January 2013.
strawberry field
A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
 René Castro Salazar, minister of Agricultura, in sunglasses
 tours a strawberry field in Cartago with farmers who have
 been successful using a fungus instead of methyl bromide.

Montreal Protocol has helped reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by 13 gigatons.  It is the hope that in 2035 when chlorodifluoromethane, a colorless gas used as a refrigerant, is eliminated from use, the number will increase to 16 gigatons.

The change will come with some challenges.  It will be more expensive for farmers because it is not as instantaneous as methyl bromide, and most are unwilling to accept such a change, said officials.  This is one of the same reasons the United States has postponed this decision until 2015, said René Castro Salazar, minister of Agricultura.

Costa Rica is willing to face this challenge, despite the fact that officials will be going against what the minister described as Tico culture. 

“The country is good at pioneering things, but not with leading things.  With leadership comes the rewards,” said Castro.

In the short term, the change will not have an effect on price, he said, but in the the long term as people develop best practices they will begin to charge for the trademark similar to the way Nike charges for shoes. 

The whole overall goal is to decrease the county's reliance on scarce natural resources but also increase its reputation.

“We call this eco-competiveness,” said Castro.

The minister and vice minister took reporters on a tour of agricultural areas in Llano de Cartago Friday to show that  methyl bromide is not indispensable. The products were strawberries and gerberas, a popular ornamental plant of the sunflower family.

Another police sweep seeks to change lifestyle of prostitutes
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Police agencies, accompanied by a non-profit organization, were out in force Friday night seeking evidence of human trafficking. Volunteers of the organization, Fundación Rahab, were trying to talk women out of a life of prostitution.

The Judicial Investigating Organization said that its anti-trafficking unit, local representatives of the International Police Agency and the Policía Municipal questioned 100 woman and 150 men at various locations in San José.

There were 70 Costa Rican women, 20 Nicaraguans, five Dominicans, one Honduran and four Colombians, judicial agents reported. Agents did not report finding any situations of human trafficking, but they did detain one man who was the subject of an outstanding warrant, they said. Others were cited for being in the country without permission. They have to visit the
 offices of the Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería.

Agents said that the foreign women all were legal because they had contracted marriage with a Costa Rican. This is a convenient ploy for foreign professional women who want to stay in Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, the Rahab volunteers were reported to be trying to convince the woman to give up their current lifestyle in exchange for free courses in cooking, computers, and fashion design. Some of the women agreed to take the classes, said agents.

In previous sweeps agents required women to fill out a questionnaire with contact information. Agents did not talk about this in the Friday operation, but they did say they had gathered information related to investigations that have been going on for several months.

Book publishers seek veto of law allowing photocopying
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Book publishers and the Cámera del Libro sent a letter to President Laura Chinchilla Miranda Friday urging her to veto a bill that would permit photocopying copyrighted materials for academic purposes.

Our opinion . . . HERE!

The measure already has been passed with strong support in the Asamblea Legislativa. The bill, No. 17342, would eliminate penalties for photocopy shop operators who duplicate copyrighted materials. Supporters of the measure said that much of the copyrighted material comes from outside the country and generally is overpriced.

The letter said that although the bill has not been signed the effects already are grave in that sales have been reduced between 20 and 25 percent. The letter attributed this to illegal
photocopying of copyrighted works. The letter also said that retail distributers already were returning books unsold.

The letter also noted that a restricted right to photocopy already exits in the current law for academic purposes. The elimination of penalties in the proposed measure is far broader.

The letter also said that by stimulating photocopying, the government would be reducing the creative and educational works that might be produced in Costa Rica.

Representatives of seven editorial houses signed the letter. Among other criticisms, the letter said that the proposed measure was just politics and demagoguery.

In fact, the restriction on photocopying is related to the free trade treaty with the United States. Among other provisions, the treaty seeks to prevent the illegal reproduction of printed materials, songs, movie CDs and brand name clothing, all of which are easily available in Costa Rica, mostly from foreign sources.

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 175
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Double murder and suicide is most serious of weekend cases
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A woman who was separated from her husband and her daughter-in-law died after the man arrived late Saturday and shot both. The man then killed himself.

The drama played out in a second-floor living area above the pair's macrobiotic store in Puntarenas, according to judicial investigators.

The woman, identified by the last name of Briseño, died with a pistol in her hand. It had not been fired, investigators said. She was 55.

The daughter-in-law,who had the last name of González, was alive when rescue workers and police arrived shortly after midnight. But she died either on route to Hospital México or shortly after arriving. She was 21.

The man was identified by the last name of Saavedra. He was married to Ms. Briseño, but the pair had been separated.

Before he killed himself, Saavedra called a friend, admitted shooting the two women and said he was going to kill himself. The friend called police.

Agents said that the couple had a history of domestic violence. They speculated that the man arrived with the intention of resuming the relationship but that a dispute developed.

The man was found with a .38-caliber pistol that agents assume he shot the two women with.

There also was gun play in San Sebastián in southern San José early Sunday. Three men got into an argument in the street, and one began firing against the homes in the area. A resident 

who was not involved in the dispute suffered a bullet wound in the left eye, said the Judicial Investigating Organization. Agents detained two men later.

Agents gave these accounts of other weekend shootings:

In another case, about 2:40 a.m. Sunday three men arrived at Hospital México with gunshot wounds. A 19 year old with the last name of López suffered two bullets to the chest. A 22 year old with the last name of Bucardo suffered a bullet wound to the mouth. A third man who was not identified immediately suffered wounds in the neck and chest. He was the most seriously injured.

The shootings appear to have taken place in Barrio Los Ángeles in La Carpio, but agents said they did not know the circumstances.

In Curridabat Saturday night a 23 year old suffered a bullet wound to the hand when he was standing outside a store and men on a motorcycle rode by and shot him. That was in  Tirrases de Curridabat east of San José. The motive still is unknown, agents said.

In Batán, province of Limón about 11 a.m. Saturday two young men and a girl suffered bullet wounds when they were fired upon from ambush. Agents said that six young persons were driving on a road through a banana plantation when assailants with firearms opened up on their car.

The 13 year old suffered two bullets in the face and one in the right shoulder. A 17 year old suffered a wound to the hand and one to the back. The girl, 16, suffered a wound to the arm.

Agents said that one of the assailants was identified and that the motive appears to have been a grudge.

World press organization voices concern on Venezuela, México
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

The board of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers has called on the Venezuelan authorities to guarantee all media in the country are allowed to work freely and without fear of reprisals ahead of upcoming presidential elections Oct. 7.

The board said it is deeply concerned by an intensifying pattern of attacks against both national and regional media. Judicial and administrative harassment, physical threats and public insults delivered by members of the government through the state-controlled media have become regular tactics aimed at stifling criticism, it said.

The board also called on the president-elect of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, to prioritize the safety of media professionals during his upcoming mandate.

In Venezuela the premises of daily Qué Pasa in the city of Maracaibo, Zulia state, were damaged in a grenade attack May 29.  Hours later, 14 gunshots were fired at the Catatumbo TV building, while on June 3 several shots were fired at the headquarters of Versión Final daily newspaper, the World
Association board said. The organization held its annual meeting in Kiev, Ukraine

The Venezuelan supreme court June 28 upheld a $2.16 million fine against Globovisión and ordered the freezing of $5.7 million worth of the station’s assets. The TV channel, known for its staunch criticism of President Hugo Chávez, must also cover legal costs of $1.3 million, said the board. In an effort to avoid closure, Globovisión paid the Court’s initial fine, which led to the unfreezing of its assets a week later.

At least 35 journalists have been killed in Mexico since December 2006. In the past six months, five journalists have been murdered, four of them in the state of Veracruz in a single week. Many others have been kidnapped and threatened. Newspapers throughout the country suffer constant intimidation and armed attacks on their premises.

The board said it is deeply concerned that such violence, and the level of impunity the perpetrators enjoy, seriously jeopardizes Mexico’s democratic credentials. Citizens have increasingly limited access to the news because of widespread self-censorship, while news blackouts continue to be a reality across entire regions of the country, the board added.

San José expected to announce plans for trolley system today
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

San José municipal officials will hold a public presentation with French experts today in which all present are expected to call for the construction of a trolley system in the city.

The French experts have been studying the feasibility of the project since last November. Announcements said that Vice President Luis Liberman and representatives from the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles would attend the session along with Mayor Johnny Araya and various government ministers. A French embassy official is expected to be there, too. One firm that would like to build the trolley system is French.
Municipal officials said that 260,000 vehicles and 19,000 buses circulate in the city each weekday, and that a trolley is an option to reduce this traffic.

A Spanish company, Ferrocarriles de Vía Estrecha, has been studying the prospects for an expanded train system that would link high population places in the provinces of Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia and San José surrounding the greater metropolitan area of the capital city.

One focus of the study will be how to integrate the electric train system with other forms of public transportation, such as buses, taxis and the state-of-the-art trolley system.

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What we published this week: Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Earlier
The contents of this page and this Web site are copyrighted by Consultantes Río Colorado 2012 and may not be reproduced anywhere without permission. Abstracts and fair use are permitted.  Check HERE for details

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 175
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Medical vacations in Costa Rica

Sun Myung Moon dies
from pneumonia at 92

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Sun Myung Moon, 92, the founder of the Unification Church and one of the most prominent Koreans in the world, has died. The Unification Church in South Korea said Sunday that its founder succumbed to complications from pneumonia in a church-run hospital east of Seoul.

Moon's global business empire is worth billions of dollars, and includes the Washington Times newspaper and the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan.

The church he set up in 1954 has millions of followers worldwide and is perhaps best-known for mass weddings of followers that Moon himself picked for each other.

The Unification Church has gained a reputation as a cult with deceptive tactics in recruiting followers and maintaining tight control over their lives.

Once a staunch anti-Communist, Moon was imprisoned in his native North Korea in the late 1940's. But he later put aside ideology to do business with North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung.

In 1982, Moon was convicted of tax fraud in the United States and he spent 13 months in a U.S. federal prison.

Level of resistant TB called
a worrying world trend

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Alarming levels of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis have been found around the world. A new study says the findings signal an urgent need for improved testing and the development of better drugs to fight the deadly lung infection. 

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tested samples from more than 1,200 TB patients from eight countries who were classified as having multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.  The infection was resistant to one or both of the older, first-line drugs, rifampacin and isoniazid.

But investigators found 6.7 percent of the patients were infected with extensively drug resistant TB, known as XDR.  The XDR-TB patients did not respond to a regimen that included the first-line treatments, and quinolone drugs and newer injectable drugs.

Investigator Tracy Dalton, of the CDC’s Division of TB Elimination, led the study.  “So, what this presents is a really worrying trend in increasing XDR in the world,” she said.

Before the study, the World Health Organization estimated that just more than 5 percent of all resistant cases of TB were XDR.

Mexican election tribunal
clears way for Peña Nieto

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Mexico's highest electoral court, late Thursday, rejected a legal bid to overturn Enrique Peña Nieto's victory in the July 1 presidential election, paving the way for the centrist to begin his six-year term in December.

Peña Nieto and his Partido Revolucionaro Institutional, or PRI, were accused by runnerup Andres Manuel López Obrador of laundering money and buying votes to secure a victory, but the judges said there was insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

López Obrador, a leftist former mayor of Mexico City, said the PRI bought 5 million votes with illegal funding and supplied voters with presents such as supermarket gift cards, fertilizer, cement and even farm animals.

But Justice Flavio Galvan dismissed evidence submitted by the leftist coalition regarding purported abuses by Peña Nieto's campaign as "vague, generic and imprecise."

The unanimous ruling by the seven-member federal electoral tribunal will return the PRI to power after it lost the presidency for the first time in 71 years in the 2000 elections. The PRI had governed Mexico with an authoritarian hand, but Peña Nieto has promised to break with his party's nefarious past.

Outside the courthouse, about 200 demonstrators shouted their disapproval when the decision was announced.

The protests tapped into memories of the PRI's long rule in Mexico, which lasted between 1929 and 2000 and was frequently dogged by allegations of corruption and vote-rigging.

Peña Nieto won the election with 38.2 percent of the vote compared to 31.6 percent for his challenger, who lost by 3.3 million ballots. He rejected the claims of López Obrador, who also unsuccessfully challenged 2006 election results. He lost that year by less than 1 percentage point.

Key economic indictors
show erratic U.S. recovery

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A look at some key industries in the United States shows that the economic recovery is a bit erratic and growth seems to be slowing down.

Economists say trucks haul nearly 70 percent of the freight used in the United States.

The American Trucking Association says freight is a measure of the economy, because manufacturers have to move raw materials, carry parts to factories, haul imports and exports and deliver goods to store shelves.

“We are actually a very good indicator, a leading economic indicator in fact.  And so if tonnage starts to fall, we get nervous.  If it’s going up, we are pretty happy,“ said Bob Costello, the group's chief economist.

Freight tonnage is going up at the moment, but the rate of growth is slowing down.

"It is telling me that the economy is not falling into another recession.  It will continue as a sort of a slow growth recovery," Costello said. 

Other clues about economic growth come from the volume of air freight.  The most recent data show demand for air freight fell more than 3 percent globally during July.

"It can also, as you start to see air cargo dropping off and you are seeing other signs — it can also be a leading indicator of a downturn,” said Perry Flint, of the International Air Transport Association.

However, the same report shows that passenger traffic made gains during the same period.

The contradictory indicators are one reason that predicting the economic future is a complex and difficult task.
For example, government experts first said the U.S. economy expanded at a 1.5 percent annual rate during April, May, and June. Then they made a revision -- as new information became available and showed growth was more likely at a 1.7 percent rate. 

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San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, Vol. 12, No. 175
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Renewal energy is topic
at regional seminar today

By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Instituto Centroamericano de Administración de Empresas will host a 10-hour workshop with the Worldwatch Institute on how to implement renewable energy technologies in Central America. The event is at the school's Alajuela campus today.

At the workshop, energy experts from the school known as INCAE and the Worldwatch Institute will give presentations on harnessing renewable energy sources and extending access to energy to impoverished communities. 

The experts attending the workshop will include a variety of people for the public and private sectors across Central America, including representatives from Costa Rica's Ministerio de Ambiente y Energía aand the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad.

“The idea is to bring together a number of energy experts, not only from Costa Rica but also from other countries, to get their input,” said Ana María Majano. She is the associate director of INCAE's department of Central American competition and sustainable development

INCAE is a private, nonprofit business school with campuses or offices in over 20 countries across the Western Hemisphere. The Worldwatch Institute, is a Washington, D.C.-based, independent, research organization specializing in energy and environmental issues.

In a press release,Worldwatch, said that Central America's dependence on traditional energy sources like large hydropower facilities and imported petroleum has hampered larger scale investments in more sustainable energy technologies. Additionally, the institute said that poor communities are not being supplied with adequate energy.

“We need to lower our dependency on fossil fuels. We need to provide access to electricity to rural communities,” said Ms. Majano.

Ms. Majano explained that her department has been investigating these issues for years and it is taking the lead in this series.

Anther workshop took place at INCAE's campus in Managua, Nicaragua, last week.

However, Ms. Majano explained that the workshops were unique. In Nicaragua, the workshop was focused on how to address Nicaragua's specific problems, such as how it can improve access to electricity for poor, rural communities with small renewable energy generators like solar panels. The workshop in Costa Rica will broadly look at all of Central America.

“In Nicaragua we want to focus on how renewable energy can be an instrument to improve the socioeconomic situations of rural communities,” said Ms. Majano. “In Costa Rica we are having the discussion at the regional level.”

The workshop will run until 7 p.m. on Monday, at INCAE's campus in La Garita, Alajuela.

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