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first_img Related Content The Aquilion Prime system has an 80-slice detector, but can be upgraded in the field to a 180-slice system. Videos | CT Angiography (CTA) | August 07, 2019 VIDEO: Walk Around of a GE Cardiographe Dedicated Cardiac CT Scanner This is a quick walk around of the GE Healthcare Cardiographe dedicated cardiac CT system on display at the… read more Video Player is loading.Pierre Qian explains radiotherapy to ablate VTPlay VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 7:34Loaded: 2.19%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -7:34 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. 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Video Player is loading.GE Cardiographe cardiac CT scanner at SCCT19Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:38Loaded: 26.15%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:38 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. 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News | Artificial Intelligence | August 05, 2019 Montefiore Nyack Hospital Uses Aidoc AI to Spot Urgent Conditions Faster Montefiore Nyack Hospital, an acute care hospital in Rockland County, N.Y., announced it is utilizing artificial… read more 12PreviousNext Siemens’ Stellar detector was released in early 2012. The detector uses mirocircuits in place of soldered circuit boards, which helps reduce electronic noise, providing for clearer images at lower radiation doses. Technology | Neuro Imaging | August 07, 2019 Synaptive Medical Launches Modus Plan With Automated Tractography Segmentation Synaptive Medical announced the U.S. launch and availability of Modus Plan featuring BrightMatter AutoSeg. This release… read more Videos | Radiation Therapy | July 30, 2019 VIDEO: Use of Radiotherapy to Noninvasively Ablate Ventricular Tachycardia Pierre Qian, MBBS, read more Videos | CT Angiography (CTA) | August 07, 2019 VIDEO: Walk Around of a Siemens Go.Top Dedicated Cardiac Scanner This is a quick walk around of the new Siemens Somatom cardiovascular edition compact computed tomography (CT) read more News | Medical 3-D Printing | August 08, 2019 RSNA and ACR to Collaborate on Landmark Medical 3D Printing Registry The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) will launch a new medical… read more News | CT Angiography (CTA) | August 06, 2019 Artificial Intelligence Improves Heart Attack Risk Assessment When used with a common heart scan, machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence (AI), does better than… read more center_img Siemens’ Stellar detector was released in early 2012. The detector uses mirocircuits in place of soldered circuit boards, which helps reduce electronic noise, providing for clearer images at lower radiation doses. Computed tomography (CT) vendors highlighted several recent improvements to their imaging systems during the 2012 Society of Cardiovascular CT (SCCT) annual scientific meeting in July in Baltimore, Md.  GE highlighted its Discovery CT750 HD FREEdom scanner, which offers a new type of detector for better signal-to-noise ratios and new reconstruction software to reduce stitching artifacts and noise of low-dose scans. It also offers the ability to perform dual energy scans using a single X-ray tube modulated every 0.5 milliseconds between 80 and 140 kVp.The system’s FREEdom (Fast Registered Energies and ECG) software offers intelligent motion correction via SnapShot Freeze, enhanced coronary visualization even in the presence of calcium, detailed plaque material composition assessment and accurate perfusion calculations. SnapShot Freeze is supposed to significantly reduce coronary motion and overcome the limitation of all hardware-only solutions. It precisely detects vessel motion and velocity and determines actual vessel position and makes corrections.“SnapShot Freeze will be a game changer by improving the effective temporal resolution, and from the initial images, I see significantly reduced motion artifacts and significantly improved image clarity,” said James Min, director of cardiac imaging research and co-director of cardiac imaging at Cedars Sinai Hospital and current president of SCCT. He is a principal investigator for the VICTORY trial, which is evaluating the diagnostic accuracy of SnapShot Freeze motion and stitching artifact correction.Toshiba’s newest CT system is the Aquilion Prime, which is the replacement for its previous 64-slice system. It is an 80-slice system that can be upgraded in the field over a weekend to a 180-slice system. It offers a 78 mm bore and has 660-pound capacity tables to accommodate larger patients.Earlier this year, Siemens introduced the new Stellar detector for its CT systems, which uses integrated, printed microcircuits instead of soldered circuit boards. This reduces the amount of electronic noise in scans by about 20 percent. The new detectors also overall improve image quality by reducing calcium and metal blooming, so it is easier to evaluate in-stent restenosis. FacebookTwitterLinkedInPrint分享 The CT scanner might not come with protocols that are adequate for each hospital situation, so at Phoenix Children’s Hospital they designed their own protocols, said Dianna Bardo, M.D., director of body MR and co-director of the 3D Innovation Lab at Phoenix Children’s. Videos | Cardiac Imaging | July 30, 2019 VIDEO: The History of CT Calcium Scoring Arthur Agatston, M.D., clinical pro read more Sponsored Content | Case Study | Radiation Dose Management | August 13, 2019 The Challenge of Pediatric Radiation Dose Management Radiation dose management is central to child patient safety. Medical imaging plays an increasing role in the accurate… read more Siemens Go.Top CT scanner at SCCT19Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 1:05Loaded: 15.14%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -1:05 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button. Siemens’ Stellar detector was released in early 2012. The detector uses mirocircuits in place of soldered circuit boards, which helps reduce electronic noise, providing for clearer images at lower radiation doses. Video Player is loading.Arthur Agatston explains the history of CT calcium scoring Play VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 9:54Loaded: 1.67%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -9:54 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. 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Feature | July 30, 2012 | Dave Fornell New CT Scanner Technology Highlighted at SCCT 2012 Detector hardware, software advances help improve image quality at a lower dose Videos | Cardiac Imaging | July 30, 2019 VIDEOS | EP LAB | JULY 26, 2019 VIDEO: What Electrophysiologists Need From CT Imaging Prior to AF and VT Ablations Mark Ibrahim, M.D., F read more Siemens’ Stellar detector was released in early 2012. The detector uses mirocircuits in place of soldered circuit boards, which helps reduce electronic noise, providing for clearer images at lower radiation doses. Video Player is loading.Mark Ibrahim explains what EPs need from CT imagingPlay VideoPlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 5:23Loaded: 3.08%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -5:23 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.last_img read more

Hologic and Sheryl Crow Ring Nasdaq Opening Bell for Breast Cancer Awareness

first_img Technology | Breast Biopsy Systems | July 24, 2019 Fujifilm Releases Tomosynthesis Biopsy Option for Aspire Cristalle Mammography System Fujifilm Medical Systems U.S.A. Inc. recently expanded its breast imaging solutions with the launch of its… read more Technology | Mammography Reporting Software | July 25, 2019 Hologic Partners With MagView to Develop Unifi EQUIP Solution Hologic announced a partnership with mammography information solutions provider MagView to develop Unifi EQUIP, an… read more News | PACS | August 09, 2019 Lake Medical Imaging Selects Infinitt for Multi-site RIS/PACS Infinitt North America will be implementing Infinitt RIS (radiology information system)/PACS (picture archiving and… read more News | Mammography | August 14, 2019 Imago Systems Announces Collaboration With Mayo Clinic for Breast Imaging Image visualization company Imago Systems announced it has signed a know-how license with Mayo Clinic. The multi-year… read more News | Breast Imaging | October 03, 2016 Hologic and Sheryl Crow Ring Nasdaq Opening Bell for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Ceremony marks the start of Hologic’s month-long awareness campaign in support of the Genius 3-D Mammography Exam News | Artificial Intelligence | August 13, 2019 Artificial Intelligence Could Yield More Accurate Breast Cancer Diagnoses University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) system that… read more News | Mammography Reporting Software | July 26, 2019 Ikonopedia Releases Automated Combined Reporting Package at AHRA Ikonopedia showcased its recently released Automated Combined Reporting package and its entire suite of structured… read more IBM collected a dataset of 52,936 images from 13,234 women who underwent at least one mammogram between 2013 and 2017, and who had health records for at least one year prior to the mammogram. The algorithm was trained on 9,611 mammograms. Image courtesy of Radiology. Image courtesy of Imago Systems October 3, 2016 — Breast cancer survivor and Grammy Award-winner Sheryl Crow joined Steve MacMillan, president and chief executive officer of Hologic, to ring the Nasdaq Opening Bell Monday, in conjunction with the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.Hologic’s participation in the bell ringing marks the start of a month-long series of national events and media appearances to increase awareness of the Genius 3-D Mammography exam, clinically proven to detect cancer 15 months earlier than traditional 2-D screenings. The Genius exam also has been shown to reduce unnecessary callbacks by up to 40 percent, and detect 41 percent more invasive cancers than conventional mammography alone.Crow, a breast cancer survivor marking 10 years since her diagnosis, will participate in a series of national and regional media interviews throughout the month. In addition, Hologic teams will educate women at a variety of events in 10 cities across the nation, including Dallas,  Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Birmingham, Ala.The company also will sponsor American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure walks in multiple markets where Hologic sites are located. Hologic will support these efforts with a national advertising campaign featuring Crow via print, billboard and online ad placements. All campaign materials will drive consumers to a microsite where women can learn more about the technology and find imaging sites offering the Genius exam.”Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram,” said Crow. “Fortunately, it was caught early and I’m now cancer-free. I’m proud to be working with Hologic during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to urge women to take advantage of the best, and most accurate, screening technologies available.”Genius 3-D Mammography exams have been available in the United States since 2011, and are only available on the Hologic Selenia Dimensions mammography system.For more information: FacebookTwitterLinkedInPrint分享 News | Breast Imaging | August 02, 2019 Volpara to Distribute Screenpoint Medical’s Transpara AI Solution Volpara Solutions and ScreenPoint Medical BV signed an agreement under which Volpara will sell ScreenPoint’s Transpara… read more Feature | Artificial Intelligence | July 19, 2019 | Michal Chorev AI Models Predict Breast Cancer With Radiologist-level Accuracy Breast cancer is the global leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, and the most commonly diagnosed cancer… read more Technology | Artificial Intelligence | July 18, 2019 Paragon Biosciences Launches Qlarity Imaging to Advance FDA-cleared AI Breast Cancer Diagnosis System Paragon Biosciences LLC announced the launch of its seventh portfolio company, Qlarity Imaging LLC, which was founded… read more News | Ultrasound Women’s Health | July 11, 2019 FDA Clears Koios DS Breast 2.0 AI-based Software Koios Medical announced its second 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Related Content Qlarity Imaging’s software is used to assist radiologists in the assessment and characterization of breast lesions. Imaging features are synthesized by an artificial intelligence algorithm into a single value, the QI score, which is analyzed relative to a database of reference abnormalities with known ground truth. Image courtesy of Business Wire. read morelast_img read more

Floyd Medical Center Acquires Quartet of Toshiba Cardiac Ultrasound Systems

first_img Related Content read more News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | July 19, 2017 Floyd Medical Center Acquires Quartet of Toshiba Cardiac Ultrasound Systems Aplio 500 Platinum CV and Xario 200 Platinum Series will help clinicians provide accurate diagnoses The ScanTrainer transvaginal simulator is one example of Intelligent Ultrasound’s simulation technologies. News | Ultrasound Imaging | July 26, 2019 Intelligent Ultrasound Group Collaborating With the National Imaging Academy Wales Artificial intelligence (AI)-based ultrasound software and simulation company Intelligent Ultrasound Group plc (AIM:… read more News | Pediatric Imaging | August 14, 2019 Ultrasound Guidance Improves First-attempt Success in IV Access in Children August 14, 2019 – Children’s veins read more 360 Photos | Ultrasound Imaging | July 09, 2019 360 Degree View of a Mitral Valve Ultrasound Exam on a Vivid E95 System A view of a mitral valve on a GE Healthcare Vivid E95 … read more 360 Photos | Ultrasound Imaging | July 08, 2019 360 Degree View of an Echocardiography Exam on the SC2000 System This is a 360 degree view of a live cardiac echo demonstration for the Siemens Healthineers Acuson SC2000… read more News | Ultrasound Imaging | July 31, 2019 Studies Confirm Clinical Value of ShearWave Elastography for Liver Fibrosis Evaluation SuperSonic Imagine announced the publication of the results of its prospective multicentric clinical study conducted in… read more Technology | Interventional Radiology | August 16, 2019 Profound Medical Receives U.S. FDA 510(k) Clearance for Tulsa-Pro Profound Medical Corp. announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to… read more News | Ultrasound Women’s Health | July 11, 2019 FDA Clears Koios DS Breast 2.0 AI-based Software Koios Medical announced its second 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). July 19, 2017 — Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Ga., recently installed three new Aplio 500 Platinum CV ultrasound systems from Toshiba Medical, a Canon Group company, in its cardiology department. To support ultrasound capabilities in the intensive care unit (ICU), Floyd Medical also installed the Xario 200 Platinum Series ultrasound system. Floyd Medical is leveraging the systems for strain imaging, pediatric and fetal echocardiography and stress echocardiography.“We needed affordable equipment and a reliable partner that could help us expand our ultrasound capabilities in the ICU and cardiology department,” said Tony Gallagher, director of cardiac ultrasound, Floyd Medical Center. “Toshiba Medical closely partnered with us to ensure our staff were fully trained on the systems and helped us customize protocols specifically for our needs. The Aplio 500 Platinum CV and Xario 200 Platinum Series deliver clear images and give our clinicians more information to make confident diagnoses. We also experienced shorter exams and faster processing times as the images automatically transfer to our PACS system so we can immediately view the images once the exam is completed.”The Aplio 500 Platinum CV offers a comprehensive suite of dedicated cardiac technologies, featuring 2D Wall Motion Tracking, spectral and Color Doppler, and Toshiba Medical’s suite of guidance and workflow technologies. Delivering detail and resolution throughout the entire field-of-view, the system provides excellent definition of the endocardium, which results in an accurate and easy-to-use 2-D strain resolution. Additionally, Toshiba Medical’s Wall Motion Tracking technology allows providers to quantify isolated movement within the heart.The Xario 200 Platinum Series features the company’s advanced ultrasound technologies for depth and detail. This includes technologies like Precision Imaging, Differential Tissue Harmonics (D-THI) and Advanced Dynamic Flow (ADF). The system also offers enhanced performance and workflow features, including a customizable panel and touch command screen, and one-button optimization and clinical parameter setting with Toshiba Medical’s Quick Scan and Quick Start technologies.For more information: FacebookTwitterLinkedInPrint分享 360 Photos | Ultrasound Imaging | July 11, 2019 360 Degree View of a Smartphone Performing a Cardiac Ultrasound Exam This 360 degree photo shows a basic, point-of-care cardiac echocardiogram being performed using a smartphone turned i read more News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | August 07, 2019 Contrast Use in First Transthoracic Echocardiogram for Heart Failure Reduces Repeat Testing Heart failure is the fourth most common cause for all admission to U.S. hospitals, and it is the most common reason for… read more News | Cardiovascular Ultrasound | August 05, 2019 Digital Health Devices Used at Point of Care May Improve Diagnostic Certainty A West Virginia-based rural medical outreach event showcased the use of point-of-care technology in an ambulatory… read more last_img read more

How can Artificial Intelligence support your Big Data architecture

first_imgGetting a big data project in place is a tough challenge. But making it deliver results is even harder. That’s where artificial intelligence comes in. By integrating artificial intelligence into your big data architecture, you’ll be able to better manage, and analyze data in a way that provide a substantial impact on your organization. With big data getting even bigger over the next couple of years, AI won’t simply be an optional extra, it will be essential. According to IDC, the accumulated volume of big data will increase from 4.4 zettabytes to roughly 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion GB, by 2020. Only by using Artificial Intelligence will you really be able to properly leverage such huge quantities of data. The International Data Corporation (IDC) also predicted a need for 181,000 people with deep analytical skills, data management, and interpretation skills, this year. AI comes to rescue again. AI can ultimately compensate for the lack of analytical resources today with the power of machine learning that enables automation.  Now that we know why Big data needs AI, let’s have a look at how AI helps big data. But, for that, you first need to understand the big data architecture. While it’s clear that artificial intelligence is an important development in the context of big data, what are the specific ways it can support and augment your big data architecture? It can, in fact, help you across every component in the architecture. That’s good news for anyone working with big data, and good for organizations that depend on it for growth as well. Artificial Intelligence in Big data Architecture In a big data architecture, data is collected from different data sources and then moves forward to other layers. Artificial Intelligence in data sources Using machine learning, this process of structuring data becomes easier, thereby, making it easier for the organizations to store and analyze their data. Now, keep in mind that large amounts of data from various sources can sometimes make data analysis even harder. This is because we now have access to heterogeneous sources of data that add different dimensions and attributes to the data. This further slows down the entire process of collecting data. To make things much quicker and more accurate, it’s important to consider only the most important dimensions. This process is what’s called data dimensionality reduction (DDR). With DDR, it is important to keep note of the fact that the model should always convey the same information without any loss of insight or intelligence. Principal Component Analysis or PCA is another useful machine learning method that’s used for dimensionality reduction. PCA performs feature extraction, meaning it combines all the input variables from the data, then drops the “least important” variables while making sure to retain the most valuable parts of all of the variables. Also, each of the “new” variables after PCA are independent of each other. Artificial Intelligence in data storage Once data is collected from the data source, it then needs to be stored. AI can allow you to automate storage with machine learning. This also makes structuring the data easier. Machine learning models automatically learn to recognize patterns, regularities, and interdependencies from unstructured data and then adapt, dynamically and independently, to new situations. K-means clustering is one of the most popular unsupervised algorithms for data clustering, which is used when there’s large-scale data without any defined categories or groups. The K-means Clustering algorithm performs pre-clustering or classification of data into larger categories. Unstructured data gets stored as binary objects, annotations are stored in NoSQL databases, and raw data is ingested into data lakes. All this data act as input to machine learning models. This approach is great as it automates refining of the large-scale data. So, as the data keeps coming, the machine learning model will keep storing it depending on what category it fits. Artificial Intelligence in data analysis After the data storage layer comes the data analysis part. There are numerous machine learning algorithms that help with effective and quick data analysis in big data architecture. One such algorithm that can really step up the game when it comes to data analysis is Bayes Theorem. Bayes theorem uses stored data to ‘predict’ the future. This makes it a wonderful fit for big data. The more data you feed to a Bayes algorithm, the more accurate its predictive results become. Bayes Theorem determines the probability of an event based on prior knowledge of conditions that might be related to the event. Another machine learning algorithm that great for performing data analysis are decision trees. Decision trees help you reach a particular decision by presenting all possible options and their probability of occurrence. They’re extremely easy to understand and interpret. LASSO (least absolute shrinkage and selection operator) is another algorithm that will help with data analysis. LASSO is a regression analysis method. It is capable of performing both variable selection and regularization which enhances the prediction accuracy and interpretability of the outcome model. The lasso regression analysis can be used to determine which of your predictors are most important. Once the analysis is done, the results are presented to other users or stakeholders. This is where data utilization part comes into play. Data helps to inform decision making at various levels and in different departments within an organization. Artificial intelligence takes big data to the next level Heaps of data gets generated every day by organizations all across the globe. Given such huge amount of data, it can sometimes go beyond the reach of current technologies to get right insights and results out of this data. Artificial intelligence takes the big data process to another level, making it easier to manage and analyze a complex array of data sources. This doesn’t mean that humans will instantly lose their jobs – it simply means we can put machines to work to do things that even the smartest and most hardworking humans would be incapable of. There’s a saying that goes “big data is for machines; small data is for people”, and it couldn’t be any truer. Read Next 7 AI tools mobile developers need to know How AI is going to transform the Data Center How Serverless computing is making AI development easierlast_img read more

Cayman Vows debuts as new luxury wedding magazine

first_img Travelweek Group Monday, July 10, 2017 “Cayman Vows” debuts as new luxury wedding magazine << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Cayman Islands, Romance & Weddingscenter_img Posted by Share GRAND CAYMAN — The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT) has launched Cayman Vows magazine – a resource for couples and wedding planners looking for inspiration and guidance to execute destination weddings and honeymoons in the Cayman Islands. The print and digital publication is now available for purchase online and on newsstands across Canada.The magazine features real wedding testimonials, including the first glimpse into the intimate Grand Cayman nuptials of Grace and Trai Byers, stars of the Fox hit series Empire. It also showcases high-end fashion shoots, personality spotlights, and curated expert advice on everything from décor and venues, to must-do experiences on the island.“The Cayman Islands is proud to introduce ‘Cayman Vows’ magazine to discerning travellers across the U.S. and Canada, reinforcing our position as one of the world’s most sought-after warm-weather destinations for romance,” said Mrs. Rosa Harris, Director of Tourism, Cayman Islands. “Understanding the complexities that come with planning a milestone event such as a wedding or honeymoon, ‘Cayman Vows’ allows us to simplify the process for our prospective guests while highlighting the Cayman Islands’ own unmatched capabilities, and we couldn’t be more excited to share the strength of ‘Cayman Vows’ as a comprehensive romance destination guide with the world.”More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongCayman Islands provide a great natural backdrop for any wedding and can accommodate a variety of gatherings – from church ceremonies of 200 people to intimate beachfront nuptials for two. The destination also offers respite for honeymooners or couples seeking an escape from daily life and offers great beaches, caving, water sports and more.For more information, visit read more

Emerald Waterways introduces guest loyalty club EmeraldEXPLORER

first_img Monday, April 9, 2018 Posted by Emerald Waterways introduces guest loyalty club EmeraldEXPLORER Travelweek Group VANCOUVER — Any clients sailing with Emerald Waterways should know that the river cruise line just upped its value proposition with the launch of a new customer loyalty program, EmeraldEXPLORER.A points system allows passengers to climb tiers with each trip taken to receive more benefits. All members of EmeraldEXPLORER, regardless of their tier level, receive member-only savings and offers on sailings as well as discounts on referrals to friends for both the referrer and the friend, advance notice of brochure releases, a subscription to EmeraldEXPLORER magazine, a complimentary piece of luggage and invitations to exclusive events.All Emerald Waterways guests will be automatically enrolled in the EmeraldEXPLORER loyalty club upon completing their first sailing, and will earn points based on itineraries and cabin types.A guest sailing on any European cruise would earn between 140 points daily for a stateroom and up up to 190 points daily for a Grand Balcony or Owner’s One Bedroom Suite. Travellers earn loyalty points on all Emerald Waterways sailing in Europe, Southeast Asia, Russia as well on as the new Dalmatian Coast yacht cruises.More news:  War of words between Transat, Group Mach ramps upAll guests will start at the Silver membership level following their first sailing, and move through the loyalty tiers as they accrue more points to earn additional benefits.Here’s a look at the program’s tiers:EmeraldEXPLORER Silver: With 1-4,999 points, guests earn $200 per person welcome home voucher toward any future sailing and a Silver Emerald Waterways backpack.EmeraldEXPLORER Gold: With 5,000-9,999 points, guests get $200 per person welcome home voucher and a Gold Emerald Waterways backpack and Gold Emerald Waterways backpack or satchel.EmeraldEXPLORER Diamond: With 10,000-24,999 points, guests earn $250 per person welcome home voucher and a Diamond Emerald Waterways backpack, satchel or sports bag.EmeraldEXPLORER Platinum: With 25,000+ points, guests earn $300 per person welcome home voucher and a Platinum Emerald Waterways backpack, satchel, sports bag or cabin case.Part of Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, Emerald Waterways’ seven Star-Ships offer river sailings in Europe and exclusive charters on the RV Mekong Navigator and Irrawaddy Explorer in South East Asia, the MS Rossia along the Volga River and the Adriatic Princess II in Croatia.More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaMeanwhile Scenic’s 15 Space-Ships offer truly all-inclusive, five-star river cruises in the same destinations as well as the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and the Volga River in Russia.In 2018 Scenic is introducing what it calls the world’s first Discovery Yachts, Scenic Eclipse, which will launch in August and take 228 guests on polar adventures as well as the Mediterranean, Caribbean, the Americas and Europe. A sister ship will launch in 2020.center_img Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Tags: Emerald Waterwayslast_img read more

Dream job alert Emirates now recruiting Canadians for cabin crew

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Tags: Emirates, Jobs Share Posted bycenter_img TORONTO – Emirates continues to grow at a rapid pace, and it’s looking for Canadians specifically to help service new routes on its expanding network.The world’s largest international airline, based in Dubai, is holding a Cabin Crew recruitment Open Day on Saturday, May 26 at 8 a.m. sharp at the Grand Hotel & Suites, Toronto (225 Jarvis Street). Emirates is looking for both women and men to fill new positions that have been created due to its continued growth, including the recent addition of new routes as well as additional aircraft.While no prior experience is required, there are a number of criteria that need to be filled in order to be considered. These include a minimum of 21 years of age at the time of joining, and an arm reach of 212 cm when standing on tiptoes. More information about requirements can be found at’ cabin crew are offered an entire employment package, which includes benefits such as: tax-free income; free high standard shared accommodation in Dubai; free transport to/from work; medical and dental cover; and exclusive discounts on shopping and leisure activities in Dubai. It also offers attractive concessional travel benefits for cabin crew as well as their families and friends, particularly advantageous as Emirates’ global network spans six continents.More news:  Carnival Cruise Line enhances HUB app for families and youth“Our cabin crew are open-minded, helpful, friendly and service-oriented and that’s what we need from candidates in order to deliver Emirates’ award-winning onboard experience to customers,” said Don McWilliam, Country Manager for Emirates in Canada. “This Open Day is a great opportunity for people to get their career off to a flying start.”McWilliam also added that applicants need to drop in to the Open Day with an up-to-date resume in English and a recent photograph. Pre-registration is not required.“Candidates will need to come prepared to spend the full day at the venue, if required,” he added. “Shortlisted candidates will be informed of timings for further assessments and interviews.”This cabin crew Open Day comes on the heels of Emirates’ pilot recruitment roadshows that were held last year. The airline currently flies to 159 destinations across six continents and operates a modern fleet of 269 all wide-body aircraft. It is considered the largest global operator of the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A380 aircraft. Dream job alert: Emirates now recruiting Canadians for cabin crew Tuesday, May 22, 2018 last_img read more

Canadian agents honoured at Nexion Travel Groups annual conference

first_imgCanadian agents honoured at Nexion Travel Group’s annual conference Share LONDON — Two Canadian agents won top honours at Nexion Travel Group’s annual conference, CoNexion, currently taking place aboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas.Melissa Erskine of iDream Travel in Burlington, ON, was honoured with the Rising Star Award for her significant sales growth and her commitment to professional education. Erskine, whose sales have grown threefold over the past year, joined the travel industry following a career in social work and now specializes in family-focused cruise groups.“When I wanted to make a career change, it seemed like travel would be ideal,” she said. “I love being part of Nexion Travel Group and chose to work with a host agency so that I could have access to the resources of a larger business. Their educational events, tools and marketing programs are second to none and I look forward to continuing to partner with Nexion Travel Group as I grow my business even more.”Also honoured at CoNexion was Shylar Bredewold of Odyssean Travel in London, ON, who was named NexionTown Townie of the Year. This award recognizes a Nexion Travel Group member who makes exceptional use of the company’s internal social platform, NexionTown, and goes above and beyond in guiding and advising fellow members.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish Steps“One of the best parts of joining a host agency is the opportunity to connect with and mentor others,” said Bredewold. “NexionTown gives me an easy way to help my fellow members all over Canada. As an added bonus, I have expanded my own network and refined by problem-solving skills.”Nexion Travel Group also recognized eight Canadian members as Circle of Excellence award winners. This sales award is given to top producers who have hit high sales goals and supported Nexion Travel Group’s preferred supplier partners.“I congratulate all of the Nexion Travel Group and award winners,” said Mike Foster, President of Nexion Travel Group – Canada. “From the incredible selling power of our Circle of Excellence winners, to Melissa’s inspiring story, to Shy’s willingness to generously give his time and advice to others, they all have one thing in common – they are elevating the role of travel advisor to the travelling public.” Tags: Awards, Conference, Nexion Canada Travelweek Group center_img Tuesday, October 9, 2018 Posted by << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Great day on the links for YellowBird with money raised for Turks

first_img Posted by Share Monday, May 27, 2019 TORONTO — The travel industry came out in full force to support The YellowBird Foundation on Friday at the annual YellowBird Charity Golf Classic held at Glen Abbey in Oakville, sponsored by WestJet and WestJet Vacations.The event was to raise funds for a school in the Turks and Caicos, the Ianthe Pratt Primary School, which was one of many schools severely damaged during the 2017 hurricane season. Two years later they are still struggling to rebuild and The YellowBird Foundation and Sandals Foundation are raising money to help rebuild 5 different sections of the school, benefitting 560 children ages 5 – 11.“The weather cooperated and it has been another successful day raising money for a very worthy cause,” says Devin Kinasz, Publisher, Travelweek. “We all love travelling around the world, but very few of the destinations enjoy the standards of living we do in Canada, so it is important to give back and help when we can.”More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesThe WestJet and WestJet Vacations team was on hand to lend support including Jane Clementino, Director of Agency Sales, and Tim Croyle, Vice President and General Manager of WestJet Vacations. WestJet’s newly appointed Vice President of Sales, Chuck Crowder, encouraged the golfers to “remember why we are here and that’s to support children and education in the Caribbean.”The golf tournament on Friday was a fun day on the links, followed by a lunch with a silent and live auction.Since its inception in 2005, The YellowBird Foundation has donated nearly $500,000 to educational initiatives in the Caribbean and Latin America, largely from money raised at this annual golf tournament.“It is a fun day, but more importantly we raise money for a great cause and help children get the education they deserve,” says Kinasz. “I hope the projects we support will give children the opportunity to grow and understand there are people in the world who want to see them succeed.”More news:  Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”The YellowBird Foundation and WestJet thank all the participants and look forward to welcoming everyone again next year. Travelweek Group center_img Great day on the links for YellowBird with money raised for Turks & Caicos school Tags: Charity, Glen Abbey, Golf, Travelweek, Turks and Caicos, WestJet, WestJet Vacations, Yellowbird Foundation << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Court extends preventativeprison term for suspect in Austrians murder

first_imgNo related posts. A judge extended the pretrial detention period of a man accused of killing two Austrians in 2009. The suspect, with the last name of Rojas, has been in jail since September 2011 while awaiting trial. His preventative prison sentence was set to expire soon, but a criminal court in the southern Pacific port city of Golfito chose to extend the detention by three months.Rojas is accused of planning and committing the murders of Horst Hauser, 67, and Herbert Langmeier, 65, who disappeared from Puerto Jiménez, a town on the Osa Peninsula, in December 2009. Earlier this month, polices arrested Rojas’ 29-year-old sister, a 24-year-old man named Murillo and a 33-year-old man named Muñoz. A police officer named Obando also was arrested. Authorities believed the four arrested were accomplices in the homicides. They also received three-month preventative-prison sentences, which end on Aug. 23.DNA tests identified remains found on the beach in Puerto Jiménez  in 2011 as the bodies of Hauser and Langmeier. The positive results confirming Langmeier’s remains came last week after Costa Rican authorities sent genetic information to Austria. The Prosecutor’s Office said the remains matched with the DNA of Langmeier’s sister and mother.The two Austrian citizens appeared to have been bludgeoned to death by a blunt object. One of the victims had a broken jaw, and the other showed brain trauma after multiple blows to the head, according to a Judicial Investigation Police report.The brother Rojas was the prime suspect in the investigation since January 2010, when he was seen driving Hauser’s and Lagmeier’s car days after their disappearance. He also withdrew more than $5,000 from the two victims’ bank accounts. In August 2011, he turned himself in after hiding in the mountains for months. Hauser and Langmeier were retired and arrived to Costa Rica from Knittelfeld, Austria. Officials said the motive for the suspects was a land grab, as the alleged murderers hoped to take over the Austrians’ property. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Expo Liberia a Tico tradition

first_imgExpo Liberia is 10 days of celebrating history, ranching and agriculture of Costa Rica’s most productive region, Guanacaste. From July 19-29, the streets of provincial capital Liberia, in the northwestern part of the country, will be filled with 100,000 expo-goers. Events includes a carnival, rodeos, bull fights, cattle shows, horse parades and numerous mounted competitions.Héctor Muñoz, president of the Liberia Chamber of Cattle Ranchers, the group organizing Expo Liberia, said the event is a union of ranching culture and tourism.“In one place you can find all of the diversity of Guanacaste,” Muñoz said. “The expo reveals the true identity of the region.”The celebration has taken place for nearly 200 years. It began in 1824, when the people of the Nicoya Peninsula chose to annex from what today is Nicaragua. The annexation anniversary is July 25.One of Muñoz’s favorite aspects of the week is the horse and cattle shows. There are numerous shows for different breeds raised in Costa Rica, and judges award breeders prizes for having superior animals.“These shows present the most beautiful horses and finely bred cattle,” Muñoz said. “It’s full of adrenaline and what ranching families have been practicing for decades.”One example of pride, tradition and beauty at Expo Liberia is the nomination of a novia, or bride, of the expo. This year’s novia is Irene Sánchez, great-granddaughter of one of the founders of the Liberia Chamber of Cattle Ranchers. Muñoz said she will hand out awards and prizes throughout the week.The rodeo is July 24, and includes barrel racing, pole bending, team penning and breakaway roping. Costa Rica’s horsemanship championship will be held on July 25. The traditional tope, or horse parade, is on July 28.Evenings during the expo will be filled with presentations of traditional Guanacaste music and dance, and of course, regional food.“There’s horchata, tamales, barbeque, fresh tortillas, sweets and more,” Muñoz said. “You can have all the delicacies of Nicoya, one right after the other.”See more details on the celebration and history of Guanacaste in next week’s edition of The Tico Times.For an event schedule and more information, visit Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

Inmates share their work at annual Costa Rican poetry festival

first_imgReaders from the inmates’ poetry workshop present their work at the Alianza Francesa. No related posts. Robert Isenberg Facebook Comments On Thursday afternoon, seven poets arrived at the Alianza Francesa in San José with a cadre of armed guards wearing flak jackets. The poets were dressed in unremarkable attire, looking ordinary and giving no indication that security was required because they are also inmates at La Reforma Prison north of the capital. Another surprise was the eloquence with which they wrote about their lives behind bars.Smiling poet Roberto Guadamúz took the microphone and said, “Thank you for coming out this afternoon, and thank you for the opportunity.” Then he began to read.“After 18 years/I return to the village/to recover something/nothing is like yesterday./Known things/are gone/now I will be a stranger.”One by one, the seven men read their works, and the audience followed along in printed chapbooks, which were handed out for free. The booklet, “Harvest on the Other Side of the Sun,” is a 25-page anthology, collected and edited by Norberto Salinas, director of the 12th International Poetry Festival.Since 2009, Salinas has taught classes on a volunteer basis at the penitentiary, where he cultivates the inmates’ literary talents. The project is a collaboration between the prison’s Departments of Psychology and Education and Salinas’ own organization, The House of Poetry Foundation. To whit, the reading at the Alianza Francesa was more than an opportunity to publically share their work; the event punctuated the Poetry Festival, which has been unfolding throughout the Central Valley since last Sunday. As in past years, the festival has featured a variety of poets, including local writers such as Ana Istarú and far-flung authors like Javier Bosalongo of Spain and Muhsin Al Ramli of Iraq.Readings have taken place in a variety of towns and venues, from the Palestra Theater in Ciudad Colón to the Museum of Costa Rican Art in La Sabana, yet the Alianza Francesa reading was the most unconventional. The presentation had a profound impact on its audience: During a talkback session, one woman stood and said, “This isn’t a question, but I am so grateful to hear your words.”A young man added, “It seems so important to hear about your reality.”At the conclusion of the reading, Salinas spoke passionately about his work with the inmates and the group migrated to an adjacent art gallery, where a buffet table of pastries and drinks awaited. The corrections officers lingered in the background, keeping a watchful eye, but the inmates mingled openly with guests, answering questions and posing for pictures.A final presentation is scheduled for tonight, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. Poetry fans will have to travel some distance for the closing ceremony, as it takes place in Parque Vargas in the Caribbean town of Limón, but for connoisseurs of Spanish verse, the journey should be more than worthwhile.last_img read more

The 11 best quotes from Jorge Luis Pintos explosive final press conference

first_imgRelated posts:Following historic World Cup performance, coach Jorge Luis Pinto decides to leave Costa Rica national team Jorge Luis Pinto meeting with Costa Rican Football Federation this week to determine future with Ticos Costa Rica dominates Nicaragua, 3-0, in national team’s first match since World Cup Paulo Wanchope named new coach of Costa Rica national soccer team This was not how it was supposed to end.The greatest two months in Costa Rican football history just came to a close with the departure of head coach Jorge Luis Pinto. And his final press conference has set off controversies that will linger for months or even years.The press conference started out amicably enough with Costa Rican Football Federation (Fedefut) President Eduardo Li saying that after a couple days of serious talks, Pinto and the organization failed to agree on terms for a new contract. Li — sitting next to the Colombian coach — said the doors remained open to a possible return for the 61-year-old coach in the future.That might no longer be the case. When it was Pinto’s turn to speak to the media, he blasted Fedefut and members of his coaching staff (without revealing names) for the way they treated him. His most furious allegation accused an assistant coach of trying to get him fired before the team qualified for the World Cup. Pinto, who’s well-known for his explosive temperament, has sparked a firestorm.Li, in comments made after the press conference, sniped back at Pinto by calling his tenure “anarchic.” He said players, coaches and Fedefut officials had issues with the way he ran the national team. He added that Pinto wanted to fire his coaching staff and bring in four or five Colombians to replace them.Pinto — who previously was fired as coach of Costa Rica’s national team in 2005 — now leaves the Ticos on his own accord after taking them to the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time in the country’s history. His exit was expected as he’s a likely candidate for a trio of head coaching jobs in South America. But nobody could’ve predicted the fiery last press conference, including Fedefut. Li said Pinto brought up topics they had agreed to not mention to the press.Still, the coach leaves Costa Rica as a hero. The majority of fans certainly take his side in the early-goings of a discussion that likely is far from over.Fedefut faces enormous pressure to name a manager who can build on Pinto’s success. Li said the organization will make a decision on Pinto’s replacement in some 90 days. Until then, the coaches that Pinto bashed will lead the team at the Central America Cup in September. How Costa Rica performs there can help quell the controversy or inflame it.Here are the best quotes from Pinto’s final day as head coach of La Sele:1. “I slept with the enemy for a year and a half.”-Jorge Luis Pinto, on how he worked with assistants and Fedefut members who were out to get him.2. “If we had not demanded committed players, I am sure that we would not have gotten where we did.”-Pinto, on how his methods might be demanding, but they work.3. “Yes I’m fussy, and I keep an eye on everything, and I’m not going to change. I have won, and we went to the World Cup quarterfinals.”-Pinto, on how the ends justified the means.4. “With the coaching staff, I have had differences. They don’t share my style and form. I am demanding. And they don’t share my style.”-Pinto, on the issues with his assistant head coaches.5. “I would never ask for a coach’s head.”-Assistant head coach Luis Marín, in an interview with La Teja, denying that he was the member of the coaching staff who “betrayed” Pinto and asked for him to be fired. Pinto and Marín have a relationship that goes back more than a decade. Pinto coached Marín to multiple national championships in the early 2000s as a member of Alajuelense. For that reason, many speculate that it was the other assistant head coach, Paulo Wanchope, who clashed with Pinto. Wanchope is arguably the greatest Costa Rican football player in the country’s history. Late Thursday evening, he denied the accusation.6. “We gave him the opportunity to work things out, but I’m not going to talk anymore about this topic. If he wants to get rid of five people so that he can bring in foreign staff [from Colombia], of course we’re not going to be happy. It’s not fair to Wanchope that he’s getting blamed.”-Li, after the press conference, on Pinto’s unfair demands. The Fedefut president said he felt backstabbed by Pinto.7. “I hurt because we have done important work here.”-Pinto, on his bittersweet exit.8. “If I couldn’t pick my own assistants, ones I could trust, I couldn’t continue.”-Pinto, on the main issue that led to his departure.9. “We never talked about money, and we never will.”-Pinto emphasizing that money was not a factor in his decision.10. “I promised Costa Rica the first option. Beginning today, I start to look at my future.”-Pinto on if he knows where he’ll go next.11. “We have suffered, we have fought, we have won. A big hug for the people of Costa Rica.”-Pinto on what he wants to say to fans, adding that the team has great players and La Sele can succeed without him. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

2 Costa Rican business groups among Central Americas most influential says Forbes

first_imgRelated posts:López, Guatemala’s 1st billionaire, beating Slim with Tigo Mobile Drought hits Central America’s crops, cattle Costa Rica’s capital is the second best city in the region for doing business, World Bank says World Bank: Doing business in Costa Rica has never been easier Two Costa Rican families – the Aizenmans and the Durman Esquivels – are among Central America’s most economically and politically powerful business groups, according to arecent story in Forbes México.The magazine on Aug. 5 named the 10 most influential families in Central America, based on the number of businesses in the region and the families’ economic clout.Among the top 10 are the Aizenmans, led by Jacobo Aizenman and his siblings, who distribute 11 automobile brands through Danissa, Veinsa and Quality Motors; and the Durman Esquivels, led by Francis Durman Esquivel, president of Aliaxis Latinoamérica and Grupo Montecristo.Other families making Forbes’ top 10 include: the Gutiérrez Bosch family from Guatemala, with Corporación Multi-Inversiones (think Pollo Campero); the Poma family from El Salvador, with Grupo Poma (think Grupo Roble);the Castillo family from Guatemala, with Corporación Castillo Hermanos (think Gallo beer); the Rosenthal family of Honduras, with Grupo Continental; the Vallarino family of Panama, with Grupo Verdeazul; the Coen family of Nicaragua, with Grupo Coen; the Simán family of El Salvador, with Grupo Alsicorp; and, of course, the Pellas family from Nicaragua, with Grupo Pellas (think everything). Don Ignacio and doña Bertha Aizenman. (Courtesy fabric salesman to auto distributorIn Costa Rica, the Aizenman family legacy began with Jacobo Aizenman’s father, don Ignacio Aizenman, a fabric salesman. In 1960, Japanese auto firm Datsun offered don Ignacio the job of representing the company in Costa Rica, and he opened the first Datsun Agency in front of Banco Central in San José. His children are the second generation of leaders in the family-run business group, according to a June 2012 publication by Grupo Danissa.The family has had to adapt to generational changes and different economic realities over the years, and they opted to separate their companies with the breakup of Corporación D, according to a May 2013 story by Capital Financiero magazine.Samuel and Jacobo Aizenman now control Grupo Danissa, distributor of Nissan and Audi automobiles, and leasing agent for Avis. Salomón Aizenman manages Grupo Veinsa, which distributes Mitsubishi, Geely, JMC, Fuso, Brilliance, Citroën and Ssang Yong. Israel Aizenman represents Kia and Mazda in the country through Quality Motors.Building an empireIn the Durman family, Francis Durman Esquivel has led company operations since 1983. Arthur Durman Carranza founded Durman Esquivel in 1959 in San José. The company started by importing tubing and PVC accessories. Later, operations were consolidated into Grupo Montecristo. In 2007, Grupo Montecristo aligned with the powerful Belgian multinational construction and tubing company Aliaxis, acquiring 49 percent of shares in a new financial conglomerate Aliaxis Latinoamérica. (Courtesy of Agencia ICC Asesores)Grupo Montecristo has investments in other sectors, as well. In Costa Rica, the group is majority shareholder of San José’s Hospital Metropolitano, and it controls free zones Propark, in El Coyol de Alajuela, and Parque Empresarial del Este, in Calle Blancos de Tibás. Its new companies include Manga Rica, a mango export business, and Max Central.Francis Durman Esquivel also is on Forbes México’s list of the 12 most important millionaires in Central America, published last May, along with: Ramón Mendiola, director of Florida Ice & Farm (third); Stanley Motta and family, president of Motta Internacional in Panama (first); Dionisio Gutiérrez and family, co-president of Corporación Multi-Inversiones in Guatemala (second); Miguel Facussé Barjum, president of Corporación Dinant in Honduras; Roberto Kriete, president of TACA and Grupo Kriete in El Salvador; Mario López Estrada, president of Telefónica Tigo Guatemala; Carlos Enrique Mata Castillo, president of The Central American Bottling Corporation (Cabcorp) in Guatemala; Ricardo Poma, president of Grupo Poma in El Salvador; Jaime Rosenthal Oliva, president of Grupo Continental in Honduras; José Miguel Torrebiarte Novella, CEO of Cementos Progreso in Guatemala; and Mohamad Yusuf Amdani Bai, president of Grupo Karims in Honduras.Since the list was published, Bloomberg News reported that Mario López Estrada is now Guatemala’s first billionaire. Read that story here. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Solís administration seeks changes to 485 million Chinabacked highway contract

first_imgRelated posts:Lawmakers could approve $395 million Chinese loan to expand Route 32 as early as this week Lawmakers to discuss San José-Cartago highway expansion Lawmakers pass $395 million loan for Limón Route 32 in final debate Solís pledges to fix La Platina bridge – the third president to make the promise Costa Rica will send China a new proposal by the end of the month for a revised contract to expand Route 32, which connects San José with the country’s Caribbean port city of Limón, Public Works and Transport Minister Carlos Segnini said Tuesday.Following a weekly Cabinet meeting Segnini said Chinese officials had agreed to consider renegotiating the terms of the $485 million contract signed by former President Laura Chinchilla’s administration. The plan calls for a four-lane expansion of 105 kilometers of the highway, the main access to the Caribbean.Officials from the Public Works and Transport Ministry, or MOPT, traveled last week to China to discuss what President Luis Guillermo Solís’ administration believes are flaws in the contract that could jeopardize the project.Costa Rican officials asked for an extension through February to provide a final evaluation. Costa Rica hopes to revise a loan agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China, as well as the deadlines for property expropriation and the relocation of public utilities.Other problems include the terms of arbitration for potential legal disputes. The contract states that disputes would be settled in Chinese tribunals. Costa Rica hopes to appoint a neutral third country in such cases.Costa Rica also now opposes waiving immunity for government officials during legal disputes, which Solís’ administration believes is unconstitutional. Segnini earlier this year said several provisions of the contract need further review, including clauses that set substantial fines if Costa Rica fails to comply with the terms.Representatives of several professional associations and private sector chambers also say the agreement is problematic.Transport officials are seeking to renegotiate provisions by Chinese contractor CHEC that require only Chinese workers and companies be used to carry out construction.“We made ​​it clear to our counterparts in China that while this project is significant and important for our country, the [contract] provisions were negotiated by the previous administration under conditions that we believe are not appropriate for our country’s interests,” Segnini said. “Those conditions not only jeopardize final approval in the Legislative Assembly, but they also could be ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court.”The minister said China would respond by Nov. 30.Members of a legislative commission focused on issues affecting Limón who met with Segnini before the Cabinet meeting appeared skeptical about the minister’s report.Social Christian Unity Party lawmaker Luis Vásquez said, “Mr. Segnini made no progress and failed to bring concrete proposals from China.”The National Liberation Party’s Danny Hayling said all 18 of his party’s lawmakers are willing to pass the bill to approve the contract in its current form, because “it is clearly beneficial for the country.”A majority of lawmakers last week agreed not to discuss that bill until President Solís returns from a trip to China in January. Solís hopes to directly renegotiate with China’s Xi Jinping some of the contract clauses. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

New generation of Costa Rican surfers puts sport in the spotlight

first_imgBut the fan pick didn’t quiver under the towering presence of his idols. Muñoz, who bounces through chaotic waves in the tranquil way a frog bounces across a pond, beat Medina in the first round with 7.73 and 6.17 wave scores. By virtue of the first round win, he automatically advanced past the second round, but in the third round Medina got his revenge and knocked Muñoz out of the tournament.“When I was leaving the water after Gabriel Medina won, I thought to myself for a second, I can’t believe I did so well against these guys,” Muñoz said. “For a kid from a little place like Esterillos to be in front of all the cameras, it was awesome.”Now, as his international image grows through connections with big-name brands and magazine photo shoots, Muñoz said he remains conscious of being a leader for the country’s younger surfers.At the Grand Reef Final last Saturday, after a winning heat, three teenaged boys tiptoed up to Muñoz while playfully shoving each other and laughing. They waited for him to finish posing for a selfie with a fan before greeting him with hugs and congratulations.One of the boys was Malakai Martínez, a 14-year-old surfer from Tamarindo who Brenes calls one of the leaders of his age group. With Martínez, Oscar Urbina and Aldo Chirinos, the boys national champion (15 and under), the sport has a line of visible talent for years to come.“These are the guys who are going to be world champs in four years,” Brenes said. “At this stage they might be surfing even better than Cali (Muñoz) or Noé Mar (McGonagle) did.”Muñoz said he gets goosebumps watching the juniors, while 21-year-old Fillingim admitted that the next group is on the verge of bringing Costa Rica surfing to an even higher level.“I remember when I was that age I was still dreaming about doing some of the stuff they’re doing,” Fillingim said. “But now they’re like doing backside full-rotation airs and frontside full-rotation airs and getting rail gains. I think the younger generation is going to be even better.” Cali Muñoz (left) and Carlos Brenes share a laugh with President Luis Guillermo Solís during a July 7 visit to Casa Presidencial. (Courtesy of Casa Presidencial)An olive branch from Casa PresidencialThough it has overlooked surfing in the past, this year Costa Rica’s government gave the world champion team the highest form of acknowledgment by extending an invitation to visit President Luis Guillermo Solís in Casa Presidencial earlier this month.“These surfers are another example of this extraordinary talent that shines in many tough conditions,” President Solís said while the surf team looked on. “These athletes haven’t always received our support or understanding of what they’ve had the heart to take on in the sea.”From the sands of Playa Hermosa, the soft-spoken Fillingim said younger surfers can look up to the medal-winning team and now follow a blueprint for winning future surfing crowns. When he was a kid growing up on his hometown waves of Santa Teresa, the champion surfer said he didn’t realize that his passion could be a vehicle, carrying him to his dreams on dry land. “Since I was little I wanted to meet a Costa Rican president, and thanks to surfing we just did it,” he said.Still, a short chat with the president does not make up for years of inattention. One way the government can strengthen its recent commitment to surfing is by investing in more major surfing events, which can, in turn, help tourism and local municipalities.During his meeting with the team, Solís compared politics to surfing, saying that politicians choose which legal path to take the same way surfers decide which wave to ride. Now, policymakers at the Costa Rican Institute of Tourism have to decide whether or not to take up an offer to host the World Surf Games for the first time since 2009. Costa Rica is currently in back-and-forth talks with Aguerre and the ISA about hosting the event, which holds the promise of bringing more money to surfing and tourism.In May, Costa Rica rejected the ISA’s $800,000 charge to set up the event, according to daily La Nación. But Brenes said the government is rethinking its original decision and calculating how much revenue could be made from the event. In 2009, tourism numbers boomed as 100,000 visitors descended on Playa Hermosa during the week-long surf fest.As talks between the government and the ISA continue, Aguerre says Costa Rican surfing needs more support from its public sector to build on the momentum established through its world title.“(Costa Rica) is really benefitting from this but it’s not investing much in terms of national resources,” he said. “If you have the best restaurant in town but you don’t promote it, then nobody is going to go.” 2015 Grand Reef Final mini-grommet champion Isuaro Elizondo, 11, of Panama said he comes to Costa Rica to surf for the higher level of competition. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesAs one wave goes out, another formsThough the highest possible team goal was achieved through the world title win, surfing’s most sought-after honors are normally reserved for the individual pro circuit. So as the country’s top surfers develop, they are likely to venture further away from national events, especially as they climb higher in the world rankings.Muñoz and Noé Mar McGonagle (Mar opted out of last weekend’s Grand Reef Final to surf in California) are ranked in the top 25 of the World Surf League’s Qualifying Series halfway through the season. To break into the Championship Tour, however, they must finish in the top 10 by season’s end.Noé’s sister Leilani ranks among the top female surfers in the world for her age group. And Fillingim, who said his goal is to break into the top 100 qualifier ranks next season, continues to rack up accolades throughout Central and South America.Though the Dream Team may never come together again in international competition, it’s left a golden mark on a country that’s wavered in promoting it.As ISA president, Aguerre was in Playa Popoyo, Nicaragua on the World Surf Games podium to lay medals on the champion riders. After Aguerre crowned the Costa Ricans, the young stars circled around with their right hands stretched into the middle.“Who are we?” they shouted. “Ticos!” they answered in booming unison.“Where are we from?”“Costa Rica!““How are we?”“Pura vida!“Seven weeks later, past the sponsor tents and the onlooking parents camped on the black sands of Playa Hermosa, you could almost hear the chant coming from the waves as an 11-year-old surfer popped up above the crashing water before landing an aerial.“Costa Rica surfing has shown that it can get to this level and continue going up,” Brenes said. “It’s not just once. There’s so much material for years to come.” Facebook Comments PLAYA HERMOSA, Puntarenas – Four by four, they launch themselves on surfboards into burgeoning waters like a disciplined and fearless army. All of the skinny soldiers — kids not more than 15 years old — emerge from the swell to tame seemingly intimidating waves with laughable ease.Behind their mid-afternoon silhouettes dotting the sea, cloudy skies blend with the Pacific so that the western horizon fades away into a blue mesh that seems to have no boundary.Today is the first day of the 2015 Grand Reef Final in Playa Hermosa, Garabito, where the country’s top junior talent opens the competition for the older stars. This year, Costa Rica’s national surfing championship brings together the country’s best for a weekend that is both a celebration of a world title just won, and a peek into a golden generation of young surfers that is stirring up a tidal wave of buzz.There’s the 15-year-old girl with diamond eyes and a surreal instinct in the water. As she walks parallel to the shore, the ocean bends towards her. Once in the surf, she zigzags the water in search of the perfect drop-in before popping up on the board, which moves as if attached to her feet from birth.Unlike most young surfers who wait in one spot for the right wave, Leilani McGonagle hunts for them with a strength that is impossible to imagine in a teenage girl until you witness it firsthand. And despite her age, the weekend’s winner of the female junior category is already closing in on the world’s top 100 women surfers in the World Surf League’s Qualifying Series. Her older brother, 19-year-old Noé Mar McGonagle — absent from the weekend’s competition — is currently the top-ranked Costa Rican surfer in the world at 17th in the men’s Qualifying Series.Then there’s Carlos “Cali” Muñoz, the shaggy-haired surfer from Esterillos, dubbed by a popular surf magazine as the “Flying Costa Rican.” At Playa Hermosa he lands an aerial spin amid collapsing waves to draw awes from the beachside audience.Anthony Fillingim Abarca, the current Latin American surfing champion, came to the event early to coach his 13-year-old cousin competing in the grommet’s category.Along with now national title-holder Jason Torres and 12-time women’s national champion Lisbeth Vindas, these young athletes make up what’s come to be known as El Equipo Soñado, the Dream Team. And they’re leading the way for a golden generation of surfers in a sport that has historically been neglected by the government. Even with the swell of collective talent, which came together to win this year’s International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games in Nicaragua, Costa Rica is still struggling to find support for its prize-winning sport.“You have an enormous amount of young talents who have the oceans as their courts, but they’ve been overlooked in favor of other sports,” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre.Born on a waveRaised on the famous wave break of Pavones on Costa Rica’s southern tip, Leilani McGonagle says she’s too young to even remember the first time her surfer parents put her on a board, though they tell her she started when she was about 18 months old.“It was either you go surfing or you sit on the beach and watch,” she said, seated on the winding root of a palm tree at Playa Hermosa. “I decided I wasn’t going to sit on the beach alone.”McGonagle and her brother, Noé Mar — children of a British father and American (U.S.) mother — led the way to Costa Rica’s first-ever world championship win last month. Noé Mar’s individual gold medal at the World Surfing Games, highlighted by a spectacular 9.93 run (out of 10), and Leilani’s silver medal pushed the tiny country over perennial surfing powers like the United States, Australia, and Brazil. Together with the other four members of El Equipo Soñado, the McGonagles proved the future generation already has its footprints planted in the present.Costa Rican Surf Federation spokesperson Carlos Enrique Brenes says surfing has taken off here in recent years thanks to surfer parents like the elder McGonagles. With built-in coaches training their kids on the waves before they’re even potty-trained and taking them on international travels as they grow up, the country’s young surfers have seen so much by the time they’re teenagers that they surf without fear, Brenes said. It doesn’t hurt that they share the waters with equally talented friends and siblings.Brenes, who’s been involved with the sport for 12 years, said international events used to be too big for Costa Rican surfers. That’s changed.“These kids aren’t intimidated anymore,” Brenes said. “They’re friends with the best surfers in the world.” Overlooked and underpaidThough Costa Rica is now on the map with some of the world’s best competitive surfing nations, a few years ago the national surfing federation couldn’t even afford to take a team to international championships. Severely underfunded and basically ignored by the government up until two years ago, federation leaders could barely scrape together enough money to pay for airfare, not to mention room and board for each athlete.Surf federation president Randall Chaves said without a steady stream of support from the government, Costa Rican surfers have clear disadvantages going into international competitions.“They don’t have money to eat, they don’t have money to sleep or to travel,” Chaves said. Ideally, he said, “we always try to put them in their comfort zone so that the only thing they have to worry about is to compete and win.”This is despite the fact that the Costa Rican Institute of Sports and Recreation (ICODER) has officially recognized surfing as the country’s highest performing publicly-funded sport. Costa Rican surfers have won nine world medals in the past four years.Still, today surfing is in line behind cycling and track in terms of government funding, according to surf federation spokesperson Brenes.International Surfing Association president Aguerre suggested the country’s leaders had misguided sports priorities. “The game is here,” he said during a recent phone interview, referring to surfing. “There are not many sports in which Costa Rica can compete for Pan-American gold medals and world gold medals. Well, they just won one of them with surfing.”But the sport is slowly demanding more attention. This year, for the first time, surfers became eligible to receive government scholarships. Ten surfers are currently getting scholarship money, according to Andrés Carvajal, head of ICODER’s Sports Performance Department. The department has a half-million dollar budget to dole out annual scholarships to young athletes across the country.Carvajal said the addition of scholarships for surfers was the government’s way of recognizing the regional and global achievements that the athletes have garnered while carrying Costa Rica’s flag.On top of domestic sponsorships from the likes of Kölbi and the national beer company, international surf and skate brands also fund the surf federation’s tournaments, helping to improve the sport’s infrastructure. And, apparently, it pays off for those brands: more surfing merchandise is sold in Costa Rica per capita than anywhere else in the world.Still, private sponsorships aren’t enough to keep the sport advancing, said Aguerre, who co-founded Reef, the major surfing brand that hosts Costa Rica’s surf finale each year. He said if the country neglects its young surfers by failing to provide long-term funding, pot holes will sprout up on their road to development.“It’s world-class talent without the world-class means,” Aguerre said. Though only 14 years old, Malakai Martínez is already being hailed as the next great Costa Rican surfer. Alberto Font/The Tico TimesSurfers grab their placeAt Playa Hermosa, the biggest waves hit “Cali” Muñoz when he comes out of the sea. An unrelenting swarm of fans, one after the other, crash upon the always-vibrant Muñoz. Each request for a signature or picture is met with gratitude and smiles from the country’s biggest surf star.Streaks of gold run through his dark, bushy hair, which sags heavy with water over a marketable smile that never wavers. A few miles away, his facade is plastered on a 20-foot billboard over Route 34 as it nears Jacó. With sponsorships from Red Bull, Volcom, and FCS in his pocket, the 22-year-old Muñoz is the humble rock star of Costa Rica’s world championship team. As recognizable as he is talented, the surfer from Esterillos carries such an upbeat ethos that Aguerre says he could be an advisor to the pope.It’s easy to see why: sponsors give him monthly pay checks to do what he loves and help support his family. Muñoz says surfing kept him afloat when he could have sunk under bad habits.“When I was young I had a lot of problems like anyone else,” he said. “(Surfing) opened up an incredible culture for me, like traveling and doing your own things and also helping my mom. I think surfing is my whole life. It totally changed my life.”At his young age, Muñoz has already made it further on the individual circuit than any Costa Rican in history by competing in a World Championship Tour title event – the highest level of pro surfing. After winning a video contest thanks mainly to a large contingent of Costa Ricans who went online to vote for him, the popular surfer was elected to fill the wildcard entry at the 2014 Hurley Pro at Trestles surf competition in Southern California. At the tournament he entered the water with the sport’s very best, including Kelly Slater — widely considered the greatest surfer of all-time — and last year’s world champion Gabriel Medina.center_img Related posts:Surfing year in review: 2015 a historic year for Costa Rica surf Costa Rica surf squad will bring out its brightest stars for World Surfing Games World Surfing Games in Jacó: 5 things to know about attending WATCH: Noe Mar McGonagle rides near perfect wave to advance at surf comp in Portugallast_img read more

This Thanksgiving pass a plate to those in need

first_imgJust in time for Thanksgiving, an easy way to share the bounty. (Courtesy of the World Food Programme)Thanksgiving is here, and for today’s festivities many of us will reunite with our loved ones to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner, whether we cook at home or dine out. But have you thought about those who will struggle to find even one decent meal today?According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) website, there are 795 million undernourished people around the globe, meaning that “one in nine people do not get enough food to lead an active and healthy life. In fact, hunger and malnutrition are the number one risk to health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”However, the solution is eminently affordable: for only fifty cents, the WFP can offer a person in need three basic meals for the day. The organization’s new app, “Share the Meal,” makes this donation simpler and quicker than ever, so that smartphone users – who outnumber hungry children 20 to 1 – can reduce hunger as quickly as they update their Facebook status.Through “Share the Meal,” launched on Nov. 12, users can feed one hungry child for a day, week, month or year; track where their donation was used; and see how many meals have been shared overall. In the summer and fall of 2015, “Share the Meal” helped schoolchildren in Lesotho, shared 1.8 million meals with children there.Now, the main goal is to provide school meals to 20,000 Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan for a full year. Donations are allowing these children to receive school meals, helping ensure they can continue their studies.Visit the Share The Meal website to learn more or to share your meal.Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Facebook Comments Related posts:Costa Rica meets Millennium Development Goal for hunger reduction UN confronts deadly Ebola epidemic 5 ways the world will look dramatically different in 2100 Costa Rican knitters provide comfort to Syrian refugeeslast_img read more

The world in Tamarindo an eclectic mix on Costa Ricas Pacific coast

first_imgSand, a calm ocean, palm trees, occasional crocodiles, and a vibrant community of Costa Ricans and expats: you’ll find all that in the Costa Rican beach town of Tamarindo, Guanacaste. Located in the ninth district of the canton of Santa Cruz, this small but diverse town is home to 7,299 people, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).During our visit, we found different pieces of the globe scattered about the town, in the form of Tamarindo’s residents: folks from Argentina, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Brazil, the United States, England, and of course people from our home country as well. In essence, we found the world in a small beach town that once belonged to the Chorotega indigenous people and the Diriá caciques. It’s a microcosm of the rich international heritage we highlighted throughout 2017 in our ongoing series “The World in Costa Rica.”Meet just a few of the international residents we met in and around Tamarindo, all making their mark through their businesses, art, teaching and more.Argentina – Mariel Marmorato, yoga instructorMarmorato moved to Tamarindo in 2001 and established her own yoga studio, Ser Om Shanti. She teaches in both English and Spanish, but enjoys using Spanish  as an homage to her homeland and to the country that has welcomed her for the past 17 years. Yoga instructor Mariel Marmorato. (Via Ser Om Shanti’s webpage)Belgium – Griet Depypere, owner of La Senda farmAt La Senda, located in Santa Rosa, Tamarindo, Depypere has an ecological farm with all- organic food production using a methodology called agroecology, in which food production does not harm the environment. Griet Depypere, owner of La Senda farm. (Via La Senda’s webpage)Italy – Federico Pilurzu, surfer and manager at Cala Luna Boutique HotelPilurzu wears two hats: he’s a renowned surfer who also manages Cala Luna, located in Langosta Beach. His commitment to an environmentally sustainable hotel concept has led Cala Luna to be recognized by NatGeo Travel as one of the world’s top luxurious boutique hotels. Cala Luna’s manager Federico Pilurzu. Jordi Louzao / The Tico TimesGermany – Wolfgang Gollas, businessman and owner of the Tamarindo DiriáGollas purchased the Tamarindo Diriá Hotel more than 25 years ago and has played a significant role in the rapid development in the area. Wolfgang Gollas, who hails from Germany, owns the Tamarindo Diria Hotel. Jordi Louzao / The Tico TimesBrazil – Malu Moreira, artist and owner of La GaleríaIt’s back to America now for a visit to Brazil. Moreira moved to Costa Rica with her family five years ago and jumpstarted her career as an artist in Tamarindo. Costa Rica inspires her art and has given her the chance to explore a more expressive style in her paintings. The artist with an abstract painting and a mannequin piece focused on women’s empowerment. Jordi Louzao / The Tico TimesUnited States – Rob Pisani and Nadine Hays, relocation gurusThis U.S. couple came to Costa Rica in search of a calmer lifestyle. They traveled throughout the country to get to know its regions and cultures – Hays chronicled their experiences in the best-selling “Happier than Billionaire” series – and finally settled the northwestern Pacific as the place to build their home. They reside in Brasilito, north of Tamarindo. Rob Pisani and Nadine Hays moved to Costa Rica ten years ago in search of a calmer and happier lifestyle. Jordi Louzao / The Tico TimesEngland – Nikki Hurren, brew master at Volcano Brewing CompanyHurren is a British surfer who came to Tamarindo for the waves and ended up working as a brew master at the local Volcano Brewing Company, mastering the art of creating quality beer. Nikki Hurren, Volcano Brewing Company’s brew master. Jordi Louzao / The Tico TimesConsidering Tamarindo’s size, the diversity of nationalities is quite broad – all wrapped up in one warm and enjoyable little town.Read more: Facebook Comments How I built my Costa Rican dream home: Brasilito, Guanacastecenter_img Related posts:A letter to our readers From Russia to Costa Rica: ‘This is a blessed country’ Football legend Dave Rimington: ‘There’s a lot to like about Costa Rica’ Lama Thubten Wangchen: ‘You are so lucky to be Costa Ricans’last_img read more

El Salvador acquits woman charged with murder over premature birth

first_imgA judge in El Salvador on Monday acquitted a 20-year-old rape victim originally charged with murder after giving birth prematurely in a toilet.Imelda Cortez’s daughter survived but the woman was charged homicide after the baby was found in a septic tank.It was seen as a landmark case by women’s rights groups in El Salvador, where abortion is completely banned and women can face up to 40 years in prison, even for a miscarriage.A court in the southeastern city of Usulutan “absolved” Cortez, her defense lawyer Bertha Maria Deleon wrote on Twitter.A spokesman from the La Casa de Todas feminist group confirmed to AFP that Cortez was “free.”Cortez fell pregnant to her stepfather, who allegedly raped her repeatedly over a seven-year period.She has already spent more than a year and a half behind bars awaiting trial.The case took a dramatic turn when prosecutors changed the charge against her from homicide to “abandonment and neglect.”“We know that Imelda didn’t commit any crime,” one of Cortez’s lawyers, Keyla Caceres told AFP earlier.The premature birth was discovered after Cortez sought hospital treatment in April 2017 for a hemorrhage.Doctors examining her took out the placenta.Cortez said she’d felt something come out of her when using the bathroom.Police and soldiers inspected the septic tank at Cortez’s house and found a crying baby “covered in feces and white dust,” according to legal authorities.The baby was taken to hospital and survived.El Salvador has some of the toughest anti-abortion laws in the world, banning the process even in cases of rape or when a mother’s life is at risk.Caceres said Cortez was representative of “girls and young adolescents whose human rights are completely violated” by the country’s unforgiving abortion laws.Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Related posts:A pilgrimage for a saint: El Salvador mourns El Salvador court freezes ex-president’s bank accounts Strong earthquake off El Salvador felt in Costa Rica U.S. ends protected status for 200,000 Salvadoran immigrantslast_img read more

Nicaraguan resistance group speaks out refutes Nicaragua pointing finger at Costa Rica

first_img“Our objectives are to free the country, free our political prisoners, judge all the murders, traitors, corrupt people and sellouts,” Morales said. “We want to take out everything that belongs to Ortega: the judiciary branch, the army, the National Police, absolutely everything and create a real interim government.”The ultimate goal, Morales says, will be to hold elections without pressure from the Sandinista government.Morales, who says he is a dual U.S. and Nicaraguan citizen, spoke from an undisclosed location and said that Los Atabales are “everywhere,” including Costa Rica and the United States. He refuted that they were carrying out armed activities outside of Nicaragua, however.“We’re guests, and we’re not going to break any Costa Rican law,” Morales said. “Armed people aren’t entering or leaving Costa Rica. That’s not allowed.“The idea that we’re using Costa Rican land for operatives or anything is a lie.”More than 23,000 Nicaraguans have fled to Costa Rica and asked for asylum since the crisis started last April.Morales said the group took on its current structure around five months ago. He said their first operation was two months ago, after the United States sanctioned Rosario Murillo, Nicaragua’s vice president and first lady. There are two or three people in charge, according to Morales; he described one of them, El Chacal, as an honest man with a love for Nicaragua.Morales wouldn’t say how many members make up their ranks, but he said they consist of students, protesters, former Contras and government soldiers.“We’re under one umbrella in a fight for the people,” Morales said. “We’re all white-and-blue, all the people, we’re all Atabales.”Atabal, in Spanish, means war drum, and Morales says they’re prepared to fight.“Ortega and Murillo aren’t going to leave without anything that isn’t force,” Morales said. “We’re not going to submit people to a war that takes years. This is going to be quick.”Part of the reason the crisis that gripped Nicaragua last year didn’t escalate further was that protesters were mostly unarmed. They used homemade bombs, rocks and Molotov cocktails while government forces and paramilitaries used automatic weapons and shot to kill.After the attack on police officers on Jan. 17, pictures of a police vehicle riddled with bullet holes appeared online, and Morales posted a video on social media claiming responsibility for the attack.Then on Jan. 24, two explosions damaged the de Estelí town hall in the northern part of the country. There were no reported injuries.Vivan los Atabales!— Hector Armando Morales (@Apante77) January 18, 2019“[The weapons] are scarce, but we’re fixing that,” Morales said. He claimed they’re only using clean money, free from drug trafficking or other illegal sources, and that they’re getting weapons any way they can, including from sympathizers within the government.Morales said he’s going public to give a face to the opposition, which has largely remained anonymous due to fear of retaliation by the Nicaraguan government.“In a war where everyone’s hiding behind masks, you need to show a face so the people have someone they can trust,” Morales said. Los Atabales, Morales says, aims for transparency in a conflict that has been flooded with misinformation.After the National Police blamed “Banda el Jobo,” The Tico Times repeatedly contacted Nicaraguan National Police to ask for details on what led them to identify the group. They did not respond for comment.In a follow-up statement from the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry, the Nicaraguan government cited news articles from Costa Rican outlets and The New York Times as evidence. Frances Robles, The New York Times journalist who wrote the story, pointed out inaccuracies in the government statement online:THREAD: There are several factual inaccuracies in this official protest by the government of Nicaragua. Nicaragua is attributing to the New York Times lines that were never reported in our newspaper.— Frances Robles (@FrancesRobles) January 23, 2019Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry replied that it was evident that Nicaragua was trying to generate artificial conflict. The statement also pointed to another New York Times article in which a Nicaraguan Supreme Court Justice wrote about Nicaragua’s “irrational use of force” in his resignation letter.It has been nine months since protests against Daniel Ortega’s government plunged the country into chaos and uncertainty, but Morales says that by April, people will have a clearer idea where the country stands.“By the 18th of April, it will be very clear to Nicaragua that it’s going to be free, if it isn’t already,” Morales said. He claims the Atabales will have Ortega and Murillo out by the end of the year.“Dethroning the government and Daniel Ortega, that’s the easy part,” Morales said. “But rebuilding a dignified country without politicians that are already dividing up the country without ever having fought for it? That’s the hard part.”This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.Support the Tico Times Facebook Comments Four policemen dead. A bombing at a town hall.Nicaragua has blamed Costa Rica for a recent escalation in the country’s ongoing conflict. Unrest in Nicaragua seemed to have calmed down after Operacion Limpieza — Operation Cleanup — a nationwide clampdown on street barricades and protesters dispersed the tens of thousands that rose up against Daniel Ortega’s government starting on April 18, 2018.Following the attacks earlier this month, primarily directed at police, Nicaragua blamed a criminal organization called “El Jobo,” which they claim is based in Costa Rica. The Costa Rican government has vehemently denied the accusation.While the Nicaraguan government continues to point a finger across the border, a self-proclaimed resistance group called Los Atabales has taken responsibility for the attacks. Ortega’s government has yet to comment on the group publicly, but former protesters and multiple sources inside and outside of Costa Rica confirmed the group’s existence to The Tico Times, and a man claiming to be one of the group’s leaders, Hector Armando Morales, recently spoke to The Tico Times by phone. Fighting, escaping, hoping: Fleeing Nicaraguacenter_img Related posts:As Nicaragua elections approach, banned opposition decries Ortega’s budding dictatorship Nicaraguan-Costa Rican journalist Lucía Pineda jailed and accused of inciting terrorism in Nicaragua President Ortega celebrates anniversary; Costa Rica opens shelters The Tico Times Weekly Digest: Jan. 21, 2019.last_img read more