Costa Rica’s Southern International Airport Update


By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

International flights will be coming to the Southern zone. Exact time is unkown.

The project to build an international airport in the southern zone got a boost over the weekend when President Laura Chinchilla declared the concept to be in the public interest.

That technical designation put a high priority on the $35 million project, which will start in 2012 to put in the bare bones of an international airport. Until then there are more studies and surveys.

Significant planning and environmental work already has been done. For example, officials can say with certainty that the land proposed for the airport does not contain any of the famous pre-Columbian stone spheres of other important sites. An archaeological survey already has been completed.

According to plans reviewed Saturday, the airport will have a runway from 2,000 to 2,600 meters, some 6,560 to 8,530 feet. The site already has been selected. It is fincas 9 and 10 in the Valle de Diquis in Sierpe de Osa. Officials also plan on getting two adjacent fincas for eventual expansion.

Finca 9 is the property of the Instituto Nacional de Fomento Cooperativo, a public agency. It contains 233 hectares (about 576 acres). Finca 10 contains 261 hectares (645 acres). This is enough land for the runway, ramps, taxiways, a passenger terminal, parking and space for a fixed base operator to handle private aviation. Also needed will be a fire station, a control tower, navigation and landing systems and space for customs and immigration.

The money for this project will come from the Dirección General de Aviación Civil, the national budget and an allocation the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes received from the International Civil Aviation Organization, officials said.

Ms. Chinchilla said that the airport is important to generate employment and combat poverty. Real estate operators and tourism agencies are solidly in favor of the project.

Ms. Chinchilla made a tour of the southern zone over the weekend and attended a meeting of the Golfito municipal council. There central government officials agreed to help the city with its tourism promotion.


NOTE: When the project is complete, owners in The Village of San Buenas will only be 30 minutes from their home.  Now is a great time to purchase.

This is the first official update regarding the international airport since former President Oscar Arias discussed it in July 2009.

Sterigenics to Build Plant in Costa Rica


By Adam Williams

Sterigenics International, a U.S.-based medical devices manufacturing company, announced Friday that it will construct a plant in Costa Rica. The plant, which will be built in a yet-to-be-determined free-trade zone, is expected to be completed by the end of 2011 and to begin operations in January 2012.

The company, headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, is the third U.S. medical supplies company in the last month to announce that they will expand or begin operations in Costa Rica.

“Costa Rica is an attractive center for the manufacturing and distribution of medical devices,” said David E. Meyer, the President and CEO of Sterigenics. “This project is an excellent opportunity for us to implement our global expansion strategy.”

According to the Costa Rican Investment Board (CINDE), the plant will bring an estimated investment of $7 million during the first stage of the project. Attracting foreign direct investment is an often-voiced goal of the administration of President Laura Chinchilla. In late September, Chinchilla rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and told the crowd of stockbrokers that her administration “is working very hard to continue to continue inviting U.S. companies to invest in our country.”

Chinchilla has stated that she hopes to bring in $9 billion in foreign direct investment during her presidential term. In 2009, the export of medical products generated more than $1.34 billion for the economy and accounted for 15.5 percent of the nation’s total exports.

Sterigenics International produces sterilization and ionization products for the medical services, pharmaceutical and food safety industries. The company has over 1,300 employees in 38 international service centers. The Costa Rican location will be the first in Central or South America.

Free Trade Zone in Caribbean to Break Ground


Promoters of the first free-trade zone in the Caribbean province of Limón will break ground this month. The free-trade zone, to be located in the community of Búfalo, will be large enough to host the manufacturing operations of 12 companies.

The free-trade zone will be administered by Guanazul JRV S.A.

The new zone comes after a December 2009 reform of the law governing areas that provide incentives such as tax breaks to attract companies to set up operations in less developed and less populated areas of the country. Most of the 247 companies operating in free-trade zones are based in the Central Valley.

Free-trade zones offer companies the opportunity to import and export goods without barriers such as quotas or tariffs. Countries use them to attract foreign investment, critical for developing countries like Costa Rica. In 2008, companies operating in free-trade zones in Costa Rica accounted for $4.98 billion in exports, more than 54 percent of the country’s total.

To start operations in the new Limón free-trade zone, a minimum investment of $100,000 is required.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla recently said she aims to bring in $9 billion in foreign direct investment during her presidential term.

The nearest free trade zone for residents of The Village of San Buenas real estate development is located in Golfito. Golfito is an easy 1.5 hour drive from San Buenaventura.

Time Magazine Announces Chinchilla as Top 10 Female Leader


By Adam Williams
Tico Times

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla was recognized as one of the “Top 10 Female Leaders” by Time magazine on Wednesday. She was ranked No. 10 on the list, which appears on Time’s website,

Here is a link to the article in Time:,28804,2005455_2005458_2005480,00.html

Julia Gillard, the recently elected prime minister of Australia, topped the list, which also included Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and Africa’s first female president. All 10 women on the list are either their nation’s president or prime minister.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla


A brief biography of each of those honored appears on the Time website. Chinchilla’s biography includes that she is the first woman president in the history of Costa Rica, follows Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias in office, took 47 percent of the popular vote in the February election and is a social conservative, and that the focus of her administration is limiting crime and enhancing security. The biography also mentions that Chinchilla opposes gay marriage, abortion and legalization of the morning-after pill.

In a statement released Wednesday night, Chinchilla said, “It is a great honor to be recognized in Time magazine, not only for me personally, but also for our country and its commitment to gender equality. It gives me great satisfaction, but it is also a great acknowledgement for Costa Rica and all of the men and women who have fought to make it possible for Costa Rica to have a woman president.”

President Chinchilla Launches Costa Rica Day Care Network

By Chrissie Long
Tico Times Staff |


Costa Rica’s first female president, Laura Chinchilla, officially launched the National Daycare Network today with a pledge of ¢ 890 million ($1.8 million) to the poorest communities in ten areas of the country.

The money is expected to bring care to 400 children under five years of age, enabling their mothers or fathers to pursue jobs outside the home.

The effort is much more than just a push to open more day care centers, Chinchilla said at a press conference on Monday. The idea of the network is to reach children at a critical stage in their development so that every Costa Rican starts life with the same opportunities.

Early childcare is an area in which Costa Rica continues to have many shortcomings, she said.

The money will be used to expand existing facilities such as community homes and government-run daycare centers, and to offer loans so that more women can operate daycare centers from their homes.

The plan is being introduced as part of a larger agenda of reducing extreme poverty in Costa Rica by a full 10 percent, Chinchilla said.

At present, aid arrives to poor homes in pieces. Sometimes a son or daughter can get a scholarship, other times a parent receives job training, but what these families need, Chinchilla said, is an integrated push from all sides to get them on their feet.

By bringing aid to communities in an integral way, she hopes to permanently reduce poverty.

In keeping with this coordinated approach, the ten areas where the administration is focusing the daycare initiative are also the focus of the poverty relief plan. These include Los Chiles, Guatuso, Upala, La Cruz, Santa Cruz, Nicoya, Cartago, Curridabat, Heredia and San José.

Daughter of former Costa Rican president named ambassador to United States


By Chrissie Long
Tico Times Staff |

Muni Figueres, daughter of former Costa Rican President José “don Pepe” Figueres, will serve as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States, after being nominated by her government on Tuesday morning.

Figueres, who served as foreign trade minister in 1986 under then-President Oscar Arias, has also held high-level positions with the World Trade Organization and the Inter-American Development Bank. She is the daughter of Figueres’ first wife Henrietta Boggs and half-sister to recently appointed U.N. Climate Chief Cristiana Figueres and former President José María Figueres.

Muni Figueres was born in Costa Rica but was also a U.S. citizen because of her mother’s nationality. In order to accept the post in Washington, D.C., she was forced to renounce her U.S. citizenship.

President Laura Chinchilla said she saw Figueres’ former U.S. citizenship as an advantage to Costa Rica because, through her, Costa Rica “will have fluid access to all the doors we need to knock on in Washington.”

During a press conference Tuesday, Figueres said she was proud to be part of Chinchilla’s team and pledged to work on the implementation of the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States and security measures.

She said, “I don’t have a doubt that Costa Rica is one of the most popular and most loved countries in Washington. I have lived through times where (foreigners) confused Costa Rica with Puerto Rico. But now, there are few people who haven’t been to Costa Rica or don’t want to go to Costa Rica.  … It’s a country that, despite its size, has won many sympathizers.”

Asked about losing her U.S. citizenship, Figueres said that it “bothered her,” but after speaking with her mother, she was convinced that “to be Costa Rican is a privilege.”

“It’s an honor that I am going to carry with me the rest of my life,” she said.

Figueres will replace Luis Diego Escalante as Costa Rica’s ambassador in Washington D.C. Escalante was appointed by former President Arias.

Costa Rica Seeking More Investment from China
By Chrissie Long
Tico Times Staff |
Even as the Chinese are putting the finishing touches on world class soccer stadium in San José’s La Sabana metropolitan park – a gift to the Central American country – Costa Rica is seeking more investment by the Chinese in infrastructure and in clean energy.

On Sunday, during a visit by China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Costa Rica made a pitch to its Asian ally to invest in a $221 million highway that would connect the country’s northern plains with the Caribbean port of Limón, among other infrastructure projects.

The plea comes at a time when Costa Rica’s highways are crumbling under heavy rains and the weight of years of postponed improvements. Just three days before Jiechi arrived, part of the country’s main highway north, which connects the country with the rest of Central America, was closed when part of a bridge over the Rio Seco collapsed (see story, below).

But Costa Rica’s foreign minister, René Castro, said the relationship should be a two-way street.

“They also have some ideas for advancement relating to biotechnology, cultural exchanges and sciences that are being developed,” he said, adding that he is looking for “a mature, win-win relationship” between China and Costa Rica in years to come.

Following a working session at the Foreign Ministry’s headquarters at the Casa Amarilla, in downtown San José, the two diplomats signed a cooperation agreement, which is expected to bring $6.2 billion in infrastructure improvements to Costa Rica.

Jiechi spent time with President Laura Chinchilla, Vice Presidents Alfio Piva and Luis Liberman, as well as the heads of the Security Ministry, the Foreign Trade Ministry and the Transportation Ministry.

Formal relations between Costa Rica and China began in 2007 during the Oscar Arias administration. In addition to the soccer stadium, China is also investing in the state-owned refinery in Moín and has purchased $300 million in bonds, among other projects.