VANCOUVER — A sharp spike in travel to Latin America helped boost Vancouver International Airport’s passenger numbers in the first half of 2016.Overall, the airport saw 10.5 million passengers between January and June, up 8.1 per cent from the same period in 2015 — a jump that puts the airport on track to break its passenger record by year-end.International traffic (excluding the U.S.) rose 13.7 per cent at YVR in the six-month period over a year ago, while domestic travel was up 7.6 per cent and U.S. traffic climbed 3.8 per cent.Traffic to and from Latin America shot up 20 per cent.A key component of that was the service to Mexico City offered by Air Canada and Aeromexico, the airport said.Aeromexico introduced its non-stop flights on the route last December.The airport said it expects Air Canada’s new non-stop daily flights to Brisbane, Australia, which launched on June 1, and the airline’s non-stop service to Delhi that kicks off Oct. 20 to further bump up its international numbers.More news: Visit Orlando unveils new travel trade tools & agent perksCraig Richmond, president and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority, called it “a fantastic period of growth” for the airport.“We are set to surpass 21 million passengers this year and we have an ambitious goal of 25 million passengers by 2020.” Share Posted by Vancouver airport sees spike in travel to Latin America Thursday, August 4, 2016 The Canadian Press << Previous PostNext Post >>
Air Canada has launched new nonstop flights from Montreal to Lyon, France, delivering Canadian travellers to the foot of the awe-inspiring French Alps.The new routes save travellers transit time in and out of the Paris airport, located about 500 kilometres from Lyon. France’s third largest city is the gateway to the French Alps, home to some of the finest scenery – and skiing – in all of Europe.The French Alps’ breathtaking mountains, crystal-clear lakes, majestic waterfalls and pristine forests have drawn stylish globetrotters for generations. The most famous sight is Mont Blanc, the highest mountain peak in the Alps.Most visitors are drawn by the region’s unparalleled scenery, focusing their visit on activities like hiking, biking and mountain climbing in summer, and skiing and snowboarding in winter. The French Alps are home to famous resorts towns including Chamonix, St. Gervais, Albertville (home of the 1992 Olympic Winter Games), Grenoble and Annecy. Chic spa resorts like Evian-les-Bains and Thonon-les-Bains allow travellers to live life in the true lap of luxury.For nature lovers, the French Alps is the ultimate destination in France, and with Air Canada’s new nonstop service from Montreal to Lyon, travellers can access the region faster and easier. Whether clients are new to skiing or seasoned pros, they’ll find beautiful and exciting ski slopes to suit their skills. Immersing oneself in France’s incredible scenery and culture is one of the true pleasures in life.To learn more or book seats on Air Canada’s new nonstop service please visit aircanada.com/agents. Tags: Air Canada, France Explore the French Alps with nonstop flights to Lyon << Previous PostNext Post >> Michael Smith Posted by Wednesday, September 14, 2016 Share
Thursday, March 16, 2017 Share << Previous PostNext Post >> Travelweek Group Transat AT blames higher fuel prices, weak dollar for Q1 losses Posted by Tags: Air Transat, Profit Report MONTREAL — Transat AT Inc. says fluctuations in the Canadian dollar and higher fuel costs have hampered its attempts to return to sustainable profits.The Montreal-based travel company says it had a $32.1 million net loss in its first quarter ended Jan. 31, nearly half of the $61.2 million net loss in the same period a year earlier.It says that was mostly because of a favourable swing in the value of derivatives used to offset the impact of higher fuel prices.However, Transat’s adjusted net loss grew from $30.4 million to $36 million as costs rose due to rising fuel prices and the weaker loonie.Revenue dropped by $36.4 million to $689.3 million as the company cut the number of Sun destination packages.Transat’s net loss equalled 87 cents per share and its adjusted loss was 98 cents per share.
<< Previous PostNext Post >> With Ireland bookings up, tour ops look for gateways beyond Dublin (and more rooms) TORONTO — The Canadian market to Ireland is booming, with the number of Canadian visitors to the Emerald Isle up 60% since 2013. That’s thanks in large part to all the new lift that’s come on board and also thanks to Tourism Ireland’s ongoing efforts to promote Ireland as a year-round destination.The steady climb reverses what had been a downward slide, back around 2011, says Ireland’s recently appointed Taoiseach, Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar. He’s well-versed in tourism, formerly serving as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. “The airlines [and other tourism partners] helped bring back an environment where tourism is really booming,” said Varadkar yesterday at an industry lunch hosted by Tourism Ireland’s CEO Niall Gibbons and Head of North America, Alison Metcalfe.Ireland’s Taoiseach, Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, along with Tourism Ireland’s CEO Niall Gibbons and Head of North America Alison Metcalfe, hosted tourism partners at an industry lunch at Toronto’s Park Hyatt Hotel.It’s not just Canada sending record numbers to the destination. Overall tourism to Ireland is up 11% worldwide, with a 50% increase from global markets to the island over the past five years.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesLast year in particular was very strong, especially from Canada which had a record year for visits to Ireland. Last year’s numbers were up 11% and spend totalled 150 million euros.Some of the destination’s biggest travel supplier partners here in Canada were on hand at yesterday’s lunch, including Collette, Royal Irish Tours, Air Lingus, the Globus family of brands, Air Canada Vacations and Transat, as well as retail travel organizations including TPI, which has seen a 300% year-over-year increase in Ireland booking volumes.While happy with strong sales to Ireland, several of the tour operators say they’re looking for alternate airports for their Ireland product, beyond Dublin.“We’re all going into Dublin,” said Transat’s VP National Sales & Commercial, Denise Heffron. “I would like to see flights somewhere other than Dublin. Maybe Belfast. Northern Ireland is very hot right now.”Collette’s Brett Walker noted that Shannon Airport would be another good option. “Secondary gateways provide a great means to selling more product,” said Walker.More news: Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTTour operators are also facing a shortage of accommodation options for their Ireland packages. “It’s becoming a big challenge,” said Luigi Iannello, ACV’s Senior Director, Strategy & Business Development.Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons said that by 2020 Ireland will have an additional 5,000 rooms. “So there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. Posted by Tags: Tourism Ireland Travelweek Group Tuesday, August 22, 2017 Share
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Share Saint Lucia Tourism Authority has a new trade sales manager Posted by Travelweek Group Tags: People, Saint Lucia TORONTO — The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority has appointed Rod Hanna as Trade Sales Manager.Hanna will work closely with the trade as part of a leading, national strategy to increase travel agent engagement.Hanna has been in the travel industry for more than 10 years and his experience includes hands-on experience in custom trip planning and maintaining excellent relations with tour operators and travel agents.He was most recently with Sunwing Travel Group where he started as Marketing Coordinator before being promoted to Business Development Manager. Prior to that Hanna held positions at Sell Off Vacations and Loyalty One.Hanna will be based in Toronto, working out of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority Canadian office. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (416) 801-6184. Friday, February 16, 2018
PIRAEUS, GREECE — Celestyal Cruises has welcomed three new members to its team, all of whom will begin their new roles this month.Roger Poulard has been announced as the company’s new Business Development Manager, Northeast USA + Eastern Canada, while Maria Moreau will step in as the new Brand Marketing and Social Media Executive, North America.Kelly Predmesky has also been announced as Business Development Manager, Southeast USA + Caribbean.Poulard brings with him more than 14 years’ experience in the cruise and travel industries. He has been tasked with introducing the Celestyal Cruises brand to the travel agent community in the Northeast USA and Eastern Canada, and will be based in Newark, NJ. Prior to joining Celestyal, Poulard served as BDM, New York for MSC Cruises USA.Moreau is considered a marketing professional and social media strategist, with more than seven years’ experience in the Travel Retail and Food & Beverage industries. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she will be responsible for developing and executing the brand marketing and social media plan for North America, while also providing cooperative marketing support to travel trade partners.Predmesky will be responsible for introducing the Celestyal Cruises product to the agent community in Southeast USA and Caribbean, and will be based in West Palm Beach, FL. She boasts over 12 years’ experience, with previous roles at MEDJI Tours, Contiki and STA Travel.Poulard and Predmesky will soon commence a wave of business development, which will include training webinars and roadshows.“We have hit the ground running and with the addition of Ms. Moreau, Mr. Poulard and Ms. Predmesky to our team, we are on track to implement our strategic development plans in North America,” said Leslie Peden, President, Celestyal Cruises. “Our goal is to educate the travel trade about Celestyal Cruises’ incomparable all-inclusive, Premium-Value Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean cruises. Ms. Moreau, Mr. Poulard and Ms. Predmesky bring immeasurable enthusiasm to their new positions, and I’m thrilled to have them onboard.” Share Tags: Celestyal Cruises, People [People] Three new appointments for Celestyal, including Eastern Canada BDM Posted by Travelweek Group Thursday, March 22, 2018 << Previous PostNext Post >>
Travelweek Group Share ST. MAARTEN — Two of the most popular all-inclusive resorts in St. Maarten are on their way back – and better than ever – after last year’s devastation from Hurricane Irma.The Maho Group says its adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa are both primed for a complete renovation and will come back ‘Stronger and Brand New’ with projected opening dates Nov. 15, 2018 and Feb. 1, 2019, respectively.The company says it is “grateful for the enduring support from its clients, partners and guests over the past year following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.”Loyal guests will be happy to know that the resorts’ signature limitless, all-inclusive concepts will remain the same, as will favourite services, amenities and familiar faces on staff. Extensive renovations are also giving rise to a number of new features.The company also notes that it has taken “every measure to implement the latest architectural innovations and storm resistant materials in the renovation, ensuring the future security and well being of its properties and guests.”Starting June 1 Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa will offer an pre-opening 45% discount promotion with promo code: PREOPENING.Select travel partners and travel agents will also have access to this promotion and for group reservations and other sales related inquiries. For details email email@example.com.Here’s a look at each property…SONESTA MAHO BEACH RESORT, CASINO & SPA (re-opening Feb. 1, 2019)The resort’s Sky Tower sustained the most damage and the renovation required that the building be stripped to its main structural frame that was fortunately spared by the storm.The reconstruction project will entirely overhaul the building with a redesign that includes TCK and LVKE building technology, with storm resistant building envelope that can withstand sustained winds in excess of 200 mph winds (Irma had sustained winds of 165 mph) and severe earthquakes.More news: Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesMeanwhile the resort will be updated with a new look reflecting a contemporary, clean and airy aesthetic throughout the public spaces, restaurants and guestrooms, while maintaining a fun, friendly and approachable Caribbean vibe that the resort is known for.Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa is the largest, limitless, all-Inclusive family-friendly resort in St. Maarten, a 10-acre, 416-room beachfront property on St. Maarten’s southwest shore minutes from the airport. The property features an oversized signature Oasis pool area with swim-up bar and separate kids pool with mini aqua park, five restaurants and a pizzeria, five bars, fitness centre, sports courts, oceanfront wedding gazebo and more than 24,000 square-feet of meeting space and unique outdoor venues. There’s also the Serenity Spa and the Casino Royale.SONESTA OCEAN POINT RESORT, CASINO & SPA (re-opening Nov. 15, 2018)Sonesta Ocean Point Resort sustained somewhat less damage than its sister property, with the structure, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems remaining in good condition. The property underwent a gut renovation in 2015.Repairs are being made to damaged areas with improvements implemented to increase storm resistance of the building’s exterior envelope.The Ocean Point lobby will be entirely redesigned and given an updated contemporary style, while the new Casa Blue, a Spanish-style tapas restaurant, will debut on the rooftop terrace above Azul restaurant.The Convention Centre, including the Royal Pavilion, will be completely rebuilt and redesigned, updating all its 24,000-square-feet of meeting and conference facilities accommodating up to 700 guests.More news: Transat calls Groupe Mach’s latest offer “highly abusive, coercive and misleading”Sonesta says Maho Village, the shopping and nightlife promenade located just steps outside the resorts, along with Casino Royale, the largest gaming emporium on St. Maarten, are undergoing massive transformations as well, and are set to re-open in summer 2018 with a modern new look.Casino Royale will continue to offer over 21,000-square-feet of gaming and entertainment with the biggest theatre in the region, and will debut two new alfresco restaurants and a new outdoor bar and lounge overlooking the main street of Maho Village.Post-Irma The Maho Group, owners and operators of Sonesta St. Maarten Resorts, along with other industry partners, launched Hospitality First, a St. Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF) academic initiative. The program helps ensure the well being of staff and employees making it possible for them to maintain a livelihood after the storm as well as improve their skills and knowledge in hospitality while resorts are closed and now being renovated.All employees of The Maho Group remained employed following Hurricane Irma, and no staff was terminated, says the company.The Maho Group also says that all gift certificates with an expiration date from Sept. 6, 2017 onwards will be honored and their validity automatically extended for six months from the reopening date, subject to availability and blackout dates. Gift certificates must be redeemed at the original property and cannot be transferred to another Sonesta Resort. Gift certificate reservations can only be made by calling 1-800-SONESTA, and guest must provide a certificate number, verified expiration date, and the reservation name must match the name of the traveller. Tags: Hurricane Irma, Openings & Renovations, Sonesta Thursday, May 24, 2018 Post-Irma recovery: Sonesta St. Maarten Resorts has re-opening dates and 45% savings << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by
<< Previous PostNext Post >> Looking back and forging ahead: Collette celebrates 100 years with Global Forum Posted by PROVIDENCE, RI — Legroom in the jitney was minimal to non-existent and if you got too hot, you stuck your head out the window (which was really easy, because the windows had no glass). The route was a meandering journey from Boston to Florida and the whole trip took three weeks. The cost? US$68.50.And for a handful of lucky travellers on Collette’s first-ever tour back in 1918, it was undoubtedly the travel opportunity of a lifetime.Celebrating its centennial this week in its home state of Rhode Island, the tour company is looking back on those early days with pride as it moves forward into its next century.Innovation, evolution and change: “That’s what we’ve been doing and that’s what we plan on doing for the next 100 years,” said Collette CEO Dan Sullivan, Jr. at last night’s gala, the first night of Collette’s Global Travel Forum marking the company’s 100th anniversary. The two-day forum, June 21 – 22, is taking place in Providence, RI, just a short drive south on I-95 from its headquarters in Pawtucket. More than 400 travel industry professionals and media are here for the event.That first jitney trip back in 1918 was quite a ride from the sounds of things, says Sullivan. “There were no highways. There wasn’t even Route 1. It was all post roads. And once you got south of Virginia it was mostly dirt roads. One day it had been raining and the hotel made them come in through the back door because of all the mud.”More news: Onex paying big to get WestJet and that will send airfares soaring, says CWTAlongside the jitney at yesterday’s ‘The Future of Travel’ sessions was a luxury sedan, to show just how far Collette has come in 100 years. The sedan service to the airport (and back) is a Collette perk and one of the many selling points that has kept this company in business, and thriving, for so long.“You’ve got to keep changing, you’ve got to keep innovating. You’ve got to create that product for tomorrow,” said Sullivan.Collette CEO Dan Sullivan Jr.Part of that innovation is a change in leadership. On June 20 Collette announced that Sullivan’s daughter, Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, is taking over as President and is on her way to becoming the third generation of the Sullivan family to head up the company as CEO.The succession plan will see Leibl-Cote working alongside her dad for the next several years. She will then become his successor and the third generation of the Sullivan family to occupy the role of CEO of Collette.Collette President Jaclyn Leibl-CoteLeibl-Cote started at Collette in 2005, working in the mail room as a teenager. Since then she has occupied many roles within the company, spending time in sales, working as a tour manager and tour designer, and most recently as the Executive Vice President of Product and Tour Management.More news: Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin Cruises“Jaclyn is out there in the industry and it is really great to have her as the face of Collette,” said Sullivan.Leibl-Cote says a family business makes for a special kind of company. “It defines the culture of who we are and how we treat our guests. Our guests are family.”CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg; Bryan Kinkade, VP, Publisher, AFAR; Diana Ditto, Product Manager, Collette; Norma Dean, Director – Specialty Sales, Delta Air LinesShe adds: “My love for Collette began a long time ago and I have a deep connection to this company. It was a huge part of my upbringing and I did many Collette trips growing up. A 10-year old is not our key demographic but I took tour after tour as a kid, because my dad wanted us to meet our partners and have them meet us.”Leibl-Cote says family businesses “are not always easy, but they are tremendously rewarding.”Collette has seen record growth in the past several years and now offers tours and product on all seven continents. Travelweek Group Share Tags: Collette Friday, June 22, 2018
Here’s your first look at the new Club Med Québec Charlevoix Tuesday, November 20, 2018 Share Travelweek Group Posted by Tags: Club Med PETITE-RIVIERE-SAINT-FRANCOIS — Club Med has unveiled the first renderings of its first resort in Canada, Club Med Québec Charlevoix resort, coming in 2020.The renderings, pus new project details, were announced at a recent open house organized by Club Med and Group Le Massif, joint partners on the new development to be located in the community of Petite-Rivière-Saint-François.“Club Med is pleased to meet with its stakeholders to seamlessly establish itself in the community and support economic development in the magnificent Charlevoix region,” said Carolyne Doyon, Senior Vice President for Canada & Mexico at Club Med. “We are thrilled to see several local entrepreneurs and professionals show interest in collaborating with us to offer our future visitors an authentic Charlevoix experience over all four seasons. Beyond discovering the mountain, they will get a glimpse of the region and its activities, delicacies and people.”Both companies are working together with local stakeholders to offer clients a variety of experiences in Charlevoix. Inspired by the region’s beauty, the resort’s design is reflective of the surrounding landscapes, colours and climate. Quebec design firm Lemay Michaud brought fall and winter scenes to life through stone and wood carvings within the resort’s structure.More news: Sunwing offers ultimate package deal ahead of YXU flights to SNU, PUJAdditionally, Club Med is pursuing two recognized sustainability certifications for the $120 million resort, which will be a 4 Trident ski property and the company’s very first Canadian venture. With the certifications, the company hopes to debut the first hotel structure in North America to comply with strict BREEAM environmental standards.Said David Meyer, Project Director, North America, Club Med: “Maintaining the Massif and the region’s distinctive character is an important cornerstone of our development plans. We’re true to our values of social responsibility and sustainable touristic development and we know the Club Med Québec Charlevoix project is in line with these values.”For more information go to https://www.facebook.com/ClubMedQuebecCharlevoix/. << Previous PostNext Post >>
Posted by Share << Previous PostNext Post >> MONTREAL — The new Mar del Cabo opening Dec. 5 next to the Grand Velas Los Cabos won’t carry the Velas name but it will be managed by Velas Resorts.Sophie Raymond, BDM for Velas Resorts in Canada confirmed with Travelweek’s sister publication ProfessionVoyages.com that the new property is an EP boutique hotel with 48 suites. The first suite category is available from US$191 per night based on double occupancy.The style is a mix of Mexico and the Greek islands and benefits from a recent renovation.In addition to its Penthouse Suite and its single or double rooms with ocean views, Mar del Cabo also features a restaurant inspired by local and Mediterranean cuisine, a premium bar and an on-site spa as well as gathering spaces for weddings and more. See mardelcabo.com. Tags: Mar del Cabo, Mexico, Velas Resorts Travelweek Group Mar del Cabo to open Dec. 5 under Velas Resorts’ management Monday, November 26, 2018
COPENHAGEN — Scandinavian Airlines says that a six-day pilot strike that led to the cancellation of 4,000 flights and affected more than 370,000 passengers cost 650 million kronor ($68 million).SAS says that the walkout, which ended May 2 when the sides reached a three-year collective bargaining agreement, “negatively impacted” its second quarter, for which it reported a 1.2-billion kronor ($125 million) loss.CEO Richard Gustafson says it “added to the challenges already faced by SAS,” which include tough competition, increasing fuel prices and a weakening Swedish currency.Gustafson said Tuesday the result for the three-month period that ended April 30, “is far from satisfying.”The strike started April 26 after talks collapsed between the airline and SAS Pilot Group, which represents 95% of the company’s pilots in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. << Previous PostNext Post >> SAS says 6 day pilot strike cost it $68 million Share By: The Associated Press Tuesday, May 28, 2019 Tags: Scandinavian Airlines
The U.S. Embassy and its Consular Section will be closed on Monday, April 16. Last Wednesday, diplomatic offices were open for normal business during the celebration of Juan Santamaría Day in honor of Costa Rica’s national hero.Following Monday’s closing, the embassy will reopen its doors Tuesday at the regular schedule of 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Facebook Comments No related posts.
No related posts. By Carlos A, Sandi | AFPBy Latin American standards of turbulence and strife, Costa Rica stands apart as a breath of fresh air and bastion of human rights.But now it’s under fire for a new media law criticized as a gut punch to freedom of the press at a time when corruption scandals here sprout like mushrooms.In enacting the law, this small Central American country with no army and a Nobel Peace laureate to its credit – former President Oscar Arias – seems to be emulating bigger Latin American neighbors with populist leaders that often tangle with or otherwise crack down on the press. These include Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador.Costa Rica is tiptoeing into this arena – the president already sounds apologetic over the new law – but the legislation is indeed right there on the books and in force since last week.It is framed as being part of a drive against cybercrime and says reporters can go to jail for “improperly” obtaining information of a confidential nature.One of the most reviled articles is No. 288, which allows for jail terms of up to 10 years for anyone who publishes “secret political information.”It punishes people who “unduly” obtain information on defense or foreign affairs issues, or which affects the country’s fight against drug trafficking or organized crime.The criticism has been scathing. The bill was introduced in 2009 and approved in June, even though the congressional Human Rights Commission was then examining an alternative law proposed by news executives.The citizens’ ombudsman’s office says it is going to court to challenge the law as unconstitutional.“It is a law that is going to curb freedom of expression and information, and which is not only going to affect the news media,” said José Rodolfo Ibarra, president of the Costa Rican Journalists Association.Critics say the law is especially offensive given Costa Rica’s tradition as a defender of human rights and freedom of expression.Media executives say it is the press that has exposed countless cases of corruption, including three involving former presidents – two of whom went to prison.“In recent decades, the main allegations against corrupt people, both public and private figures, came from the news media,” said Ignacio Santos, director of the TV news program Telenoticias on Channel 7.“It is a law that is going to have very serious impact on the development of the investigative journalism done in this country,” added Roxana Zúñiga, director of Noticias Repretel on Channel 6.Faced with the onslaught of criticism, President Laura Chinchilla issued a statement promising to tone down the law and not go hard on journalists.But Ibarra of the journalists’ association said that conciliatory spin was too late, as the law was already approved and in a big rush. Reporters Without Borders said she should simply have scrapped the law.“Legislation that is so opposed to the guarantees offered in our constitution in the areas of freedom of expression and information should have led to a presidential veto,” the association said.Costa Rica has ample company as a country now criticized over its treatment of the press.The Inter-American Press Association said last year that freedom of the press in Latin America faces threats from government attempts at control in Venezuela and Ecuador.It said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is at outright “war” with the press and has the ultimate goal of controlling digital media.In Argentina, media giant Clarín says President Cristina Kirchner is now trying to silence an opposition press by forcing the media group to sell off some radio and TV licenses or see them auctioned off. Facebook Comments
Related posts:Waging peace in Colombia Colombia is again the world’s top coca producer. Why that’s a blow to the US Cúcuta: Colombia’s city of contraband and a broken Bolivarian dream Colombia’s ‘discriminatory’ military draft under discussion as peace deal comes closer BOMBOLO, Colombia – While Syria’s civil war and political crises in Thailand and Ukraine continue to dominate the headlines, Colombia’s government, led by President Juan Manuel Santos, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) may be about to end the longest and most brutal conflict in Latin America’s history. An agreement would enable Colombia – an important regional ally of the United States – to shift its attention and resources to economic and social development.The latest series of talks – held in Havana, and mediated by Cuba and Norway – was launched in November 2012. Despite some setbacks, the process has raised hope of a permanent end to the 50-year conflict, which has displaced at least five million people and led to more than 200,000 deaths (an estimated 85 percent of them civilians), with 23,161 selective killings, 25,007 forced disappearances, 27,023 kidnappings, and 1,982 massacres.Of course, this is not the parties’ first attempt to forge a peace agreement. In the late 1990’s, President Andrés Pastrana’s government met with the guerrillas – along with representatives from the United Nations and from Cuba, Spain, France, Switzerland, Brazil, and other countries – in a demilitarized area of Colombia to pursue an agreement.But the talks faced considerable headwinds. The United States never believed in the process, and undermined it at every opportunity. Moreover, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who rose to power in 1999, viewed the FARC as a natural partner in an eventual new alliance of left-wing forces in the Andes. With Europe offering only empty promises, and the U.N. unsure of how to catalyze progress on the talks’ ambitious 12-point agenda (which included more than 100 items), the effort collapsed in 2002.Fortunately, much has changed in the last decade. For starters, meeting outside of Colombia has enabled the parties to avoid the pressure and manipulation that contributed to the breakdown of talks the last time.Furthermore, the U.S. – hesitant to face yet another foreign-policy disruption, much less offer assistance or deploy troops, and facing other hotspots where vital national interests are more at stake – has contributed, albeit discreetly, to a negotiated settlement. Likewise, since the final years of Chávez and during Nicolás Maduro’s tenure, Venezuela has played a far more constructive role in promoting peace, recognizing that the hostile neighborhood created by the Colombian conflict is impeding its own progress. (The U.N., the European Union, and the Union of South American Nations, focusing on other priorities, have avoided becoming collectively involved.)Finally, this time, the negotiations are more manageable in scope, focusing on five specific issues: an agrarian-development policy, the FARC’s political participation, ending the conflict (demobilization and transitional justice), reparations for the victims, and curbing the illicit drug trade. Any agreement must cover all five.So far, both sides have been realistic, avoiding ideological or formalist postures – in part, a reflection of the new balance of forces. In the 1990’s, the FARC was on the rise, and presented a maximalist list of demands. Today, the guerrillas are significantly weaker, allowing Santos’ government to offer a minimalist agreement that can satisfy both the Colombian establishment, which backs the process but without much conviction, and a fatigued and mercurial public that wants peace but remains unwilling to accept too many concessions to the FARC.General agreements have already been reached on the first two issues – agrarian development and the FARC’s political participation – though some key details have yet to be settled. To facilitate continued progress, the parties have delayed the more delicate issues – ending the conflict and the question of reparations – while focusing first on halting illegal drug production, an issue on which the two sides’ positions are much closer. Indeed, the FARC’s proposal – centered on protecting the rural farmers who make their living cultivating illicit crops, including by establishing a legal market for such crops – is relatively moderate.In fact, the FARC’s influence on drug trafficking has waned considerably in recent years, as the large cartels that once dominated Colombia’s narcotics industry have given way to numerous smaller criminal organizations, led by warlords associated with far-right political forces. The result has been a sort of pax mafiosa: consolidated, regionally legitimized actors, with drug traffickers, old paramilitary groups, new criminal bands, large landholders, and political caciques reinforcing one another.Barring a major event – say, an assassination of a major figure, a large-scale military attack, or a significant split within the political elite or the FARC leadership – the negotiations are likely to continue. After all, a rupture would be extremely costly to both sides.But there is one potential obstacle that cannot be avoided: the May presidential election. Santos needs to be re-elected in order to sideline former President Álvaro Uribe, who, along with recalcitrant civilian and military elements, is trying to undermine the negotiations. That requires that the talks progress steadily, and that the FARC remains reliable and united. But the FARC will not hand Santos the speedy agreement that would ease his path to victory, and he knows that the flag of peace will not ensure his re-election.In the first round of the 2010 presidential election – in which only 49 percent of the electorate participated – Santos obtained 47 percent of the vote. Today, while Santos is ahead in the polls, a considerable share of voters remains undecided, with low expected turnout further clouding his prospects for re-election.Moreover, the talks’ outstanding issues are intricate, especially the question of compensating the conflict’s victims. There is always the risk that the armed actors, both the guerrillas and the military, could obstruct progress on this crucial matter.Despite these challenges, there is much reason to hope that this time an agreement will be reached. Even a modest and fragile peace would represent a major advance for Colombia’s democracy and economic prospects.Juan Gabriel Tokatlian is Director of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires.© Project Syndicate, 2014www.project-syndicate.org Facebook Comments
The crater of Poas Volcano expelled material 300 meters into the air at noon on Tuesday. The phenomenon, called a phreatic explosion, occurred due to a reaction between magma and water at the southern border of the lake inside the volcano. However, this was not an eruption and the volcano did not spew lava. Instead, a column of steam, gas and other materials formed and spouted out the top of the volcano, confirmed the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI). María Martínez Cruz, a volcanology and geochemistry expert with OVSICORI, said the event can be considered “normal for the volcano’s activity, although explosion heights like the one recorded Tuesday are not that common.”This type of explosion, called phreatic, occurs when the volcano’s magma contacts water in the crater’s lagoon and evaporates quickly through fissures. That action results in an blast of steam, water, ash and small rocks.“[The volcano] has been calm for several months. It’s only releasing a lot of gas. This is part of the natural phenomenon, throwing tall columns of gas into the air, steam, the colors of the [volcanic] lake,” said Juan Dobles, administrator of the Poás Volcano National Park.Currently there is no risk to visitors since most materials dissipate in the wind, Martínez added. Poás Volcano National Park is open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day, and visitors can walk to a lookout point to get a scenic view of the volcano. The Poás Volcano National Park is the second most visited in the country after Manuel Antonio National Park in the Pacific.Martínez, who is part of an expert group currently monitoring the activity at Poás, added that they have been monitoring the volcano closely since an increase in the crater’s temperature was detected in recent years. The increase could be an indicator of volcanic activity.Martínez explained that the average temperature of the Poás crater in the last 50 years has been 92 degrees Celsius (198 Fahrenheit), but in 2013 they recorded temperatures between 200-400 degrees Celsius (392-752 degrees Fahrenheit).“Today’s explosion reached 720 degrees Celsius (1,328 ºF), which is the second highest after those recorded between June-September 2011 when we recorded temperatures up to 890 degrees Celsius (1,634 degrees Fahrenheit),” she said.Poás also recorded activity in 2010 and in February last year, when other materials from phreatic explosions reached the visitors area.See a sequence of pictures taken from OVSICORI’s webcam at Poás Volcano: (Screengrab from of OVSICORI’s webcam) Related posts:Poás volcano’s crater lagoon is losing water National Seismological Network to monitor Poás Volcano with four new cameras Tourist access reopened at Poás Volcano following recent phreatic eruptions Hear Costa Rica’s Turrialba Volcano rumble BREAKING: Explosion at Poás Volcano captured at 12:03 p.m. with @OVSICORI_UNA’s camera. pic.twitter.com/hYBbdlTbkh— The Tico Times (@TheTicoTimes) February 25, 2014 Tico Times reporter Zach Dyer contributed to this story. Facebook Comments (Screengrab from of OVSICORI’s webcam) (Screengrab from of OVSICORI’s webcam) (Screengrab from of OVSICORI’s webcam)
Facebook Comments In a celebration concert at Jazz Café Escazú Thursday, Costa Rican band Sonámbulo Psicotropical released a music video for “La Maraca,” the first single from their unreleased sophomore album. Filmed in San José, the video depicts the quest of a group of children to make a maraca, which involves a witch doctor, an accidental fish killing and grave robbing.Fresh from surgery to correct his rare spine condition, Daniel Cuenca, the band’s frontman, makes an appearance in the video, though he is not yet performing live. The band has not announced a release date for their new album, but it is expected to come out in the next several months. Related posts:Sonámbulo frontman Daniel Cuenca suffers from rare, debilitating spine condition Lineup announced for Envision 2014 The Doors’ drummer John Densmore to play concert with Costa Rica’s Sonámbulo Annual fest in Austin promotes Central American music in the U.S.
Richard Johnson joined the U.S. Navy in 1942, rising in rank from engineer to captain. (Courtesy of Judy Johnson)From small-town Midwesterner to naval captainJohnson was born on June 12, 1923 in Doland, South Dakota, a Midwestern town with a population at last count of 180. Doland also was the hometown of former U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who had a hand in helping get Johnson’s margarine company off the ground. Humphrey’s father ran a pharmacy in the small town. Johnson’s father ran the local grocery store, selling everything from “bananas to shoes,” according to Johnson’s second wife, Judy Johnson.Richard Johnson was 2 when his mother died, and he was sent to live with his aunt on a farm in De Smet, South Dakota. There, his aunt, who was married to a banker, made sure Johnson received a good education, including piano lessons. Ten years later, she bought a car but couldn’t drive it. So Johnson drove her around at the age of 12.Johnson enrolled in the Michigan School of Technology, where he completed three years of studies in electrical engineering. A year after the U.S. declared war on Japan in 1941, Johnson joined the U.S. Navy. He served four years in the Pacific, rising from engineering officer to captain. His naval service took him around the world – including through the Panama Canal – and during a brief port of call in California, he met his first wife, Elissa, an Armenian-American who looked and sang like Judy Garland.After retiring from the Navy, Johnson decided to finish his engineering studies, enrolling at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He graduated in 1948. In Los Angeles, he met a Costa Rican entrepreneur named Silverio Chaverri, who convinced him to travel to a banana plantation Chaverri owned in Sierpe, in southern Costa Rica. In February 1948, he and Elissa – now married – moved to Sierpe, where they lived and worked for eight months before moving to San José.Historically, 1948 was an interesting year for Costa Rica, but also for the Johnsons. Dick often told wild tales of the family’s early adventures in the Southern Zone, Judy Johnson said.“They met somebody from Costa Rica [Chaverri], had a few drinks, and the man asked if they wanted to come to work in Costa Rica. At the time, they thought Costa Rica was Puerto Rico,” Judy Johnson recalled with a chuckle. “The man was very wealthy, but he wanted to live in Spain. So, they came here and it was very funny because somehow they ended up on a train going south. They were in a suit and hat, and they had to walk down the train rails because the man forgot they had arrived and there was nobody to pick them up.”When Dick and Elissa Johnson finally arrived in the tropical heat of Sierpe, the refrigerator was broken. Dick Johnson spent the next three hours repairing it “just to have a drink of whiskey,” Judy Johnson said. “A few hours later when the ice came out, they celebrated with a drink.” Dick Johnson with President Daniel Oduber and other unidentified Costa Rican officials in an undated photo. (Courtesy of Judy Johson)Engineering successBack in San José, Johnson saw opportunity to start his own business. He traveled to the U.S., where he found two investors willing to back a new venture – the first margarine plant in Central America. NUMAR – a combination of the words “nutritious” and “margarine” – started production in May 1951.NUMAR began in a garage in San José’s Barrio Luján, and according to Judy Johnson, it lost money for an entire year while Dick Johnson tried to learn everything he could about margarine. Frustrated, he traveled again to the U.S. to tell his two majority shareholders the project was a failure. But they sent him back to Costa Rica with an order to keep going, and to spend more money on advertising. At the time, Johnson was working as the company’s engineer, sales manager, mechanic, and any other duty that was required. NUMAR = Nutritious + Margarine. (Courtesy of Judy Johnson)One of NUMAR’s biggest barriers at the time, however, was the Costa Rican demand for butter. No one trusted this strange, new palm oil derivative called margarine. At one point, Johnson was called before the Legislative Assembly to defend his product. Lawmakers responded by ordering him to add yellow dye so that customers would know it wasn’t butter.But little by little the demand for margarine began to grow, and NUMAR’s business eventually started to thrive, along with the demand for African palm oil. In 1965, United Fruit Company in Boston bought NUMAR, and Dick and Elissa Johnson moved to the U.S. East Coast, where they would live for three years. In Boston, Johnson helped expand United Fruit’s operations, acquiring stock in companies like Baskin and Robbins and A&W Root Beer, according to Judy Johnson. He became vice president in 1968, and helped develop agricultural exports, working with labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez, whom he grew to know well.But Elissa Johnson didn’t like Boston much. The family returned to Costa Rica, where Dick assumed the role of vice president of several of the company’s operations – including palm oil plantations and factories – in Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.In 1984, when United Fruit changed its name to Chiquita Brands International, Johnson and colleagues began producing bananas for export, mainly to the U.S. He retired in 1987 at 64. Dick and Judy Johnson. (Courtesy of Judy Johnson)New chaptersJohnson’s first wife, Elissa, died at a young age in 1980 after a long illness. They had been raising three kids, Richard, Michael and Janice. At a friend’s house, he met Judith Waugh, a Calí, Colombia-born British citizen who immigrated to Costa Rica in the 1960s, and whose late husband worked for the competition, Standard Fruit. Judy was raising three teenage boys of her own – Terrence, Phillip and Kenneth.Dick and Judy were married a few short months later, in October 1980.“I’m really glad. We really had a wonderful time. He was a very interesting person, with a lot of interesting facets. With his boat, his plane, whatever, he always wanted to do different things,” Judy Johnson said.He was active in the American Colony Committee, the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), where he served as president, the Rotary Club, and several other organizations. According to Humberto Pacheco, Johnson continued attending AMCHAM meetings until his health no longer permitted. “It was one of the loves of his life,” Pacheco said.And so was the piano. His teacher was at least a generation younger, but that didn’t matter, Judy Johnson said. Johnson continued taking lessons all the way up to age 90, playing an array of jazz tunes for anyone interested.A memorial service for Johnson was held last Thursday at Iglesia Don Bosco in San José. Dick Johnson loved to play the piano. His favorite composer was Rachmaninoff. (Courtesy of Judy Johnson) Facebook Comments The children of friends he used to visit in Escazú say he liked to drive backwards down the hill in his Cadillac. He loved to play Sinatra, Rachmaninoff and Chopin on his piano. And he once crash-landed his single-engine Cessna 210 on a farm in Alajuelita. When emergency responders reached him, Richard “Dick” Johnson was quietly sitting on a tree stump, filling out his flight log.Everyone who knew Johnson, who died at 91 on July 20 in Costa Rica after a long illness, has fond stories of a profoundly caring, energetic and ambitious man. He found success in Costa Rica as part of a first wave of expats from the United States following the Costa Rican revolution of 1948. That particular group mostly retained its U.S. identity while wholeheartedly embracing a new country, becoming just as much Ticos as they were North Americans.“He was very warm, he took to people, liked people and was a courtly gentleman,” said James Fendell, whose father Jack Fendell was a representative of Hearst Corporation for middle Latin America and the Caribbean, and a good friend of Johnson’s. Both Jack Fendell and Johnson were involved in founding the American Colony Committee in Costa Rica.“Costa Rica is very accepting of people from other countries as long as they’re gentle folk. Costa Ricans get along with people who are gentle and decent, and certainly Dick Johnson fit all of that,” James Fendell said.Johnson founded the margarine and African palm oil products company NUMAR in Costa Rica in 1951 and later served as vice president of United Fruit Company in Boston, Massachusetts.“He was an exceptional man, a very kind gentleman who was charitable and firm, but delicate,” said Humberto Pacheco, whose family considered Johnson a close friend.Pacheco’s father-in-law, Dr. Mike Ortíz Martin, a pediatrician, and his wife Janet Basta Unkel, once jumped into a NUMAR truck with Johnson and the kids to visit a cacao farm they bought in Sarapiquí on a whim. Of course, the two knew nothing about the farm before they purchased it, and the venture was the source of more than a few laughs at parties when they had realized it was a flop. From then on they called each other “socios” (partners). Dick Johnson also loved flying. After one terrifying incident in which his plane’s single engine stalled, Johnson had to glide it in, crash-landing in a field. (Courtesy of Judy Johnson) Related posts:Want to start a business in Costa Rica? Let’s look at the details Want to start a business in Costa Rica? Getting it done Costa Rica regulators order Facebook page removed over advertising it deems sexist and blasphemous Yes, Costa Rica does have postal codes
Related posts:Coast Guard discovers over a ton of cocaine hidden in a fishing boat Dutch seize huge cocaine shipment hidden in cassava roots from Costa Rica Drug scanners sit unused as drugs pass through Limón port Costa Rican cops report seven tons of marijuana, 21 tons of cocaine confiscated in 2014 Spanish police said Monday they have seized 67 kilograms of cocaine found inside dozens of hollowed-out pineapples at Madrid’s main wholesale fruit and vegetable market.The drug-stuffed fruits were found at the sprawling Mercamadrid market among a shipment of pineapples that arrived in the Portuguese port of Setubal by ship from Costa Rica and was then transported overland to the Spanish capital, police said in a statement.Each pineapple was “perfectly hallowed out and stuffed with compact cylinders” containing 800-1,000 grams cocaine and was coated with wax or yellow paraffin to conceal the “odors of the chemical products which the drug contains and avoid its detection,” the statement said. Photo courtesy by AFP / Spanish National PolicePolice arrested seven people as part of the operation – three in Madrid and four in Barcelona – who are suspected of playing a role in the cocaine smuggling operation.Spain, with its historic and linguistic links to South America, is the main entry point to Europe for cocaine from the continent, mostly from Colombia.Smugglers often resort to creative methods to get drugs past Spanish customs.In recent years, police have found cocaine inside breast implants, a wig, a wheelchair cushion, a plaster cast encasing a man’s broken leg as well as inside a 42-piece crockery set. Facebook Comments
Related posts:La Sele qualifies for quarterfinals with close victory over Bermuda Costa Rica to face Mexico in Gold Cup quarterfinal Costa Rica announces provisional 40-man roster for Gold Cup No Navas as Costa Rica names roster for Peru friendly Despite a valiant effort from the Costa Rica men’s national soccer team, La Sele was eliminated from the 2019 Gold Cup by Mexico via penalty-kick shootout.In unrelated news, here are some adorable sloths: Bilbo with his adopted family. Via Toucan Rescue Rach. Photo via The Toucan Rescue Ranch. A sloth giving love to its stuffed animal, a monkey, at the Kids Saving the Rainforest center in Costa Rica. Via Janine Licare Photography Luigi the two-toed sloth, an orphan at the Sloth Sanctuary in Cahuita. James Kaiser A sloth wearing a daily diary climbs a tree near Cahuita in the Costa Rican Caribbean region. Courtesy of Rebecca Cliffe Facebook Comments
Gunmen kidnapped the Iranians shortly after their arrival in Benghazi, the birthplace of the Libyan revolution, in July.Since Libya’s civil war ended with the capture and killing of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi last October, the country has been beset by lawlessness, including frequent abductions.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement The difference between men and women when it comes to pain 0 Comments Share Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Associated PressTRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – A Libyan official in the eastern city of Benghazi says seven Iranian Red Crescent workers who were abducted in late July have been released.The official says the Iranians flew out of the Benghazi airport Saturday. He offered no further details and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency says the seven are in good condition and on their way home.