Costa Rican Natalia Álvarez Joins ESPN

Costa Rica News – Natalia Álvarez celebrates her 30th birthday with signing a contract for ESPN as a sports journalist. This dream job is perfect for her, one of the most recognized communicators in Costa Rica. She will head to Mexico for the position.

She started with Teletica Deportes in 2013 and stood out for her effort and knowledge. She started knowing just the basics but put in a lot of time studying. It paid off.

She’s now just days away from her move to Mexico to cover sports in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

She’s very happy to have found her passion, saying that finding what you like is a treasure. She’s thankful for the opportunity to be part of the team she’s joining and eager to start the job.

Her priority is work and continuing to develop professionally.

She plans to visit her family on some weekends. She enjoys having coffee with her mom and going out dancing with her cousins.

What Do You Need To Know About the Costa Rica Tax Reform?

Costa Rica News – With the new tax reform many heads of households wonder how much they will have to pay. Many were scared to hear the figure ¢121,000 but it turns out this is only for those making ¢3.4 million.

The tax will be based on income so those with fewer resources, say a salary of ¢140,700, will have to pay ¢1,800. Even though those in the lower income bracket only pay 1.28% of their monthly income, it will likely feel like a bigger deal to them as compared to someone paying 3.5% of ¢3.4 million.

Those with high incomes will be affected by VAT, salary tax increase, income tax on capital, increased tax on surpluses of associations and the introduction on the tax on capital gains, while those with lower incomes will only be affected by VAT, value added tax.

All of this means that about 80% of the reform will fall on the richest 20% of Costa Ricans. Tourists will also be affected. The hope is to increase tax revenues to generate at least 1.28% of the GDP.

Costa Rica Flight Cost Increase Due To Taxes Airport Fees

Costa Rica Travel – The Association of Airlines recognizes the high cost of tickets in Central America and attributes this to taxes and airport charges.

IATA representatives believe that reducing the taxes and charges would make ticket prices more accessible.

These airport charges are an obstacle to travel. Lowering them makes a big difference because they can make up up to 30% of the total ticket price. In 2015, Colombia lowered the airport fees from $92 to $38 and since then has seen the number of international tourists increase by 90%.

Costa Rica could ideally make a similar move. Costa Rica faces the additional challenge of higher fuel costs than other places in the region. This adds about 10% to the final value of the ticket.

One thing going for Central American airlines is that they aim to make less off each passenger than other places do. North America goes after $15.67 per passenger while in Latin America the figure is $2.95.

Costa Rican Completes Tor des Geants Marathon

Costa Rica News – An impressive Tica ran one of the five toughest marathons in the world.

The competition in Italy equals running eight marathons in a row in under 150 hours. She only slept 30 minutes to two hours per day.

Sandra Mejía completed the Tor des Geants test in 134 hours, 51 minutes and 49 seconds, taking 24th place in the female branch. The test was carried out from September 9-14 in Valle d’Aosta, Italy. It consisted of 339 kilometers.

As part of her training for the ultra-marathon through demanding mountains, she climbed the Cerro Chirripó twice in a single day. She had to resign from her job in order to train. She thanks her sponsors.

She previously ran various 100-mile races in the United States and France. This was the first longer one she tried. She now has her sights set on the Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley in California.

Nacho Coming in Concert in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Entertainment – Nacho is coming to sing in Costa Rica this December.

The Venezuelan singer, known for “No te vas,” “Bailame,” and “Casualidad,” is going to headline one of the year-end mega-parties.

Nacho’s show in 2012 was unlike any other. He brought new life to the Pedregal Events Center that year. His fans came out in numbers and he made some new fans that year as well.

Ernesto Arceyut confirms that Nacho will be here in December, although the exact date is not yet known. He will sing at an event to say goodbye to the year 2018 with energy and rhythm.

He will be the first of two international artists to perform at the show to close the year with good vibes. The other singer has not been announced yet. Soon prices, location and the date will be known.

Mrs Costa Rica Selects Its 15 Beautiful Women

Costa Rica Entertainment – The Mrs Costa Rica charity and beauty contest organization has presented the 15 candidates who will compete for the title.

This prestigious contest has once again been listed in the top 10 most important in the world.

Among the candidates for the crown are the Miss Costa Rica 2014 candidate, Keren Alvarado, the show host of channel 7, Laura Rodríguez, and the national singer Nela Arias.

The candidates are between ages 25 and 47. In the group there are mothers, professionals, housewives and students. They are exceptional women committed to the cause of the event. The event raises funds for patients of the Foundation Pro Unity Palliative Care, which helps families of 18,000 children and young people with terminal illnesses.

The gala of election and coronation will take place at the Crowne Plaza Corobicí, in San José at 7pm on October 5.

The elected will represent Costa Rica at Mrs. World International.

Reserve A Tour of Costa Rica’s Poás Volcano National Park

Costa Rica Travel – After 16 months of not being able to, you might want to return to the Poás volcano. It opens tomorrow, under new safety conditions. Yesterday, authorities enabled the online booking system.

You can reserve up to ten tickets at www.sinac.go.cr under the section “Reservations in the Poás Volcano National Park.” There you will see days and hours available. Visitors will enter in groups of 50 and stay a maximum of 20 minutes. The last group of each day enters at 1:20.

It was closed since last April due to strong eruptions of ash and magma. After the activity reduced a Technical Advisory Committee of the Volcanology and Seismology of the National Emergency Commission set up safety standards to be met before reopening.

There are five shelters with helmets and masks. There are also real time gas measurement systems.

Prices range from ¢500 to $15 depending on factors such as residency and age. The park is open to everyone but it is not recommended for babies or seniors or those with respiratory diseases.

While visiting, make a point of supporting local businesses which have hardly seen visitors in 16 months.

Most Popular YouTubers in Costa Rica & The World

Costa Rica Entertainment – If your child comes home speaking strange, using words like guay and mola, you might as well assume he’s watching youtubers, the world’s newest type of young, charismatic celebrities. Tico youth are copying what they see like speaking fast without pausing and acting as if producing a tv show with fans watching them.

PewDiePie is one of these Youtube sensations. He is from Sweden and became a worldwide idol, with 64 million followers (that’s around the number of people in all of Central America) to his channel.

Youtube started just 13 years ago and has become an industry. Millions of dollars in contracts and advertisements are now part of the platform. With popularity, a youtuber can simply play videogames and talk about life and brands pay to advertise to his fans.

A 28-year-old Chilean named Germán Garmendia makes between $13,500 and $21,000 a month generating content on Youtube. He talks about topics like ex-girlfriends, school, phobias and addictions.

If you’d like to check out some local tico youtubers, here are the top ten, with between 168,000 and 1 million followers:

La Habitacion Oscura
Pablo Gonzae
FabiiPuffle
German Rodezel
Pelicomic
OliviaKissper
Gismog
Krizz Solano
Jimmy Tutoriales
Michael Quesada

Why is Costa Rica Becoming More Violent?

Costa Rica News – If you have been reading the news the last few weeks in Costa Rica, there have been multiple tourists attacks and deaths.

Costa Rica’s recently-elected President Carlos Alvarado Quesada has officially hit 100 days in office. But his government is still struggling to stall worsening violence that is being driven by local criminal groups battling for control of domestic drug markets.

Costa Rica has long been known for its low crime rate and relatively stable economy, having escaped the bloody Cold War conflicts and brutal gang violence that have wrought havoc in other Central American countries. However, over recent years, the country has seen a continuous uptick in homicides.

In 2017, Costa Rica broke the country’s record in reported homicides with 603 and a homicide rate of 12.1 per 100,000 individuals. And 2018 isn’t looking much better.

In the first six months of this year, Costa Rica registered 302 homicides, which was 29 more than during the same period the year before, according to the Judicial Investigation Agency (Organismo de Investigación Judicial – OIJ). Officials project that 2018 will break the 2017 record with an estimated 625 homicides.

Costa Rica’s security situation has recently been dubbed a “free fall” by security analyst Paul Chaves from the Center for Criminology and Security Training (Centro Formación en Criminología y Seguridad). Despite that, the country still remains among Latin America’s least violent nations.

InSight Crime Analysis

Authorities and experts have explained the rise in violence by pointing to issues such as increasing criminal fragmentation, a greater presence of firearms and the country’s new role in the region’s drug map.

Costa Rica has, for years, served as a key transshipment point for Colombian cocaine heading to the United States and Europe.

From the beginning, local Costa Rican criminal outfits were contracted to guard drug shipments and move product across the country. Instead of making payments in dollars, transnational criminal organizations often paid local criminal groups in drugs, thus increasing the amount of product that stayed in Costa Rica, a trend seen in other key transshipment countries.

Over the years, with more drugs remaining in Costa Rica, illicit drug consumption has gone up, and local criminal actors have been quick to try to control increasingly lucrative local markets.

“On average, local groups can make upwards of $2,000 to $3,000 per day in one location. However, many groups sometimes control five, six or seven different drug dealing spots,” Costa Rica’s Minister of Public Security, Michael Soto, told InSight Crime.

Costa Rica’s official strategy to tackle drug trafficking has been primarily focused on targeting the leaders of local groups, which caused fragmentation and, in turn, a rise in violent competition for markets.

In 2012, officials arrested Marco Antonio Zamora Solórzano, alias “El Indio”, one of Costa Rica’s most notorious drug traffickers. Zamora had, for years, controlled key local drug markets, specifically in the southern part of the capital, San José. After his arrest, Zamora’s criminal structure fragmented into several groups that began to violently compete for access to drug markets in the capital, thus pushing up the homicide rate after 2013, according to Soto.

Upon capture, some of the most notorious micro-trafficking ring leaders have been able to direct local drug trafficking activities and the assassination of rivals from within prison walls.

Two recent examples include that of Leonel Mora Nuñez, alias “Gordo Leo,” who has been managing local drug sales and assassinations from a Costa Rican prisonsince his arrest in 2009, and Luis Angel Martinez Fajardo, alias “Pollo,” who continues to direct criminal activities in Costa Rica from a Nicaraguan prison.

In December, 2017, Fajardo was allegedly behind the killing of Nicaraguan national, Erwin Guido Toruño, alias “El Gringo”. The assassination of Toruño, who also played a key role in the San José drug trade, could also be behind increased violence as other groups rush to fill the void.

Along with increasing criminal fragmentation, a greater presence of firearmscould also be leading to increased homicide rates. In recent years, reports of arms trafficking rings allegedly connected to Mexico, Colombia and Panama have surfaced.

“There is a high availability of weapons. The origins of the weapons are unclear, but there is an important flow [of firearms] through the Central American corridor as a result of civil wars,” Walter Espinoza, the Director of the Judicial Investigation Agency (Organismo de Investigación Judicial – OIJ), told InSight Crime.

The announcement last week of the creation of a new public security plan could signal a shift in the government’s overall strategy to combat warring micro-trafficking groups. The initiative, called “Creating Security,” is based on Medellin’s public security program and seeks to increase collaborationbetween federal and community officials, and prioritize resources toward prevention and police operations in high risk areas.

Whether the initiative will be able to revert the trend of violence and insecurity remains to be seen.

*Deborah Bonello and Juan Diego Posada contributed reporting for this story.

by Bjorn Kjelstad, From Insight Crime

Costa Rica Athletes Pursuing Dreams in the USA

Costa Rica News – Two young Costa Ricans are preparing to leave the country to pursue their academic and athletic dreams. Runner Juan Diego Castro and swimmer Helena Moreno will move to the United States.

They will go to college and have new sports adventures.

The teenagers are among the country’s most promising athletes, having achieved many triumphs.

They hope to get to the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020.

Castro is going to the Oklahoma State University on a sports scholarship. He plans to bring his playstation. He will dorm with other athletes and study marketing. He hopes to run in the world elite after graduating.

Moreno will be heading to the prestigious Harvard University.

She looks forward to a new way of studying and training, meeting the other girls and coaches. She plans to study economics.