IN THE NEWS
4USS Iwo Jima Ships in Aid
The U.S. Navy’s USS Iwo Jima is expected to moor Friday in Costa Rica’s Caribbean port of Limón, bearing gifts. The warship is on a humanitarian operation, called Continuing Promise, with a crew of more than 1,600 sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen and civilians, and medical personnel from the armed forces of the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and nongovernmental organizations, according to a U.S. Navy statement. The converted amphibian assault ship will dock amid concerns in Costa Rica over a list of other warships permitted by Costa Rica’s legislature to monitor drug trafficking in Costa Rican waters. The country’s Supreme Court put a freeze on the agreement while it studies the issue.
4Colón Strengthens Against Dollar
For the first time since May 2008, the Costa Rican colón-U.S. dollar exchange rate is approaching the ¢500 to $1 mark. Last Saturday the buy rate of the dollar fell to ¢503, its lowest point since 2008, and has remained near that mark throughout the week. A year ago this month, the exchange rate hovered around ¢580 per $1. Market analysts say similar appreciation of local currencies against the dollar has occurred in other Latin American countries, including Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile.
4C.R. Talks, Mexico Walks
Costa Rica’s gay rights debate is heating up after the high court struck down an initiative to hold a referendum on same-sex civil unions; but Mexico took the talk a giant step further. In a 9 to 2 vote, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that all of Mexico’s 31 states must recognize same-sex marriages carried out in Mexico City. The court also upheld Mexico City’s law allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.
4El Salvador’s Funes to Visit Cuba
Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said he will visit Cuba early next month – the first visit by a Salvadoran president in five decades. He Is expected to sign bilateral trade and travel agreements with the Communist island, with which Funes re-established diplomatic relations last year after a 50-year freeze. Separately, U.S. President Barack Obama – while not re-establishing ties – reportedly is mulling over easing up United States’ travel restrictions to the island.
4Auto Mercado Opens in Alajuela
Costa Rica’s 13th Auto Mercado supermarket opened this week in Alajuela, northwest of San José. The Alajuela Auto Mercado, the province’s first, also aims to serve customers from the nearby towns of Grecia, Atenas, Sarchí, San Ramón and Palmares. The new supermarket cost approximately $1.7 million to build and will have 130 employees. Nationwide, the 50-year-old chain employs 2,000 people. Among the features of the 3,000-squaremeter premises, in addition to shelves of market groceries, are a bakery, deli, optometrist, pharmacy, bank, drycleaners, an Apple computer vender and a café.