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About Homeland, Lanterns, Parades and Independence in Costa Rica

Desfile realizado en Aguas Zarcas, Alajuela, Costa Rica. Imagen en Flickr del usuario  Allan Javier Aguilar Castillo (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Parade organized in Aguas Zarcas, Alajuela, Costa Rica. Image on Flickr by user Allan Javier Aguilar Castillo (CC BY-SA 2.0).

On her blog Anchas Alamedas, Solentiname remembers how she used to spend Costa Rica independence day, September 15, when she was a schoogirl, and the parades with lanterns and flags:

Teníamos estandarte y era un honor reservado para los mejores estudiantes de todo el colegio y solo tres: el que lo llevaba y dos a cada lado, que además quisieran quedarse practicando después de clases en la cancha de basketball el izquier dos tres cuatro.

Teníamos bastoneras. Las más lindas de cada nivel eran las bastoneras. Podían mover el bastón igual que las muchachas que veíamos en la tele y usaban uniformes de enaguas cortas y voladas, hombreras militares y sombreros de circo. Y las botas. Unas botas lindísimas con tiritas y botones dorados.
[...]
El año en que el Ministerio decidió imponer por la fuerza el uniforme único, nos advirtió que al desfile iban todos de celeste y azul o no íbamos. Fuimos, pero con el uniforme de gala que ese año se diseño aun exuberante. [...] Como resultado, nos castigaron por cinco años en los que no pudimos participar en nada, solo como pelotón común y corriente y, por supuesto, vestidos de azul y de celeste.

We had standard and it was an honor reserved for the best students of the whole school, just three: the one who carried it and two by each sides, that would want to stay practicing after school in the basketball field the “left, two three four”.

We had baton twirlers. The prettiest girls of each class were the baton twirlers. They could handle the baton just as the girls we saw on TV and wore uniforms of short skirts, military shoulder pads and circus hats. And the boots. The prettiest boots with golden strips and buttons.
[...]
The year the Ministry decided to impose by force the same uniform for everybody, we were warned that for the parade we must wear the light blue and the blue, or we shouldn't go at all. We went, but in our full uniform, that that year had still a lush design. [...] As a result, we were punished for five years during which we weren't able to participate in anything, just as a regular platoon and, of course, wearing the light blue and the blue.

She ends up with a nostalgic reflection about the idea of homeland:

15 de setiembre no me despierta la noción de patria, ya ni siquiera para reclamar una independencia verdadera. Apenas me vuelve aquella sensación de tostamiento e insolación, la participación forzada y un terrible cansancio y, cada año, dedico un ratito del día feriado a imaginar en detalle el farolito ingenioso que hubiera hecho y lo lindo que se hubiera visto encendido una noche de lluvia, la víspera de la independencia de Centroamérica.

September 15 doesn't make me feel the idea of homeland, not even to claim a true independence. I just feel again that sensation of tan and sunstroke, the forced participation and a terrible fatigue and, every year, I dedicate a little moment of the holiday to imagine in detail the ingenious lantern I'd have made and how beautifully lit it would be during a rainy night, on the eve of the independence of Central America.

Costa Rica's Pre-Columbian Stone Spheres Declared World Heritage

Esferas

Pre Columbian spheres, image on Flickr by user Anita363. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Four archaeological sites with pre-Columbian stone spheres located in the canton of Osa, Puntarenas, in Costa Rica were included in UNESCO's World Heritage List.

The decision was announced on Monday, June 23, 2014, during the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in Doha, Qatar.

Costa Rican former president Laura Chinchilla expressed her gratitude for the news on her Twitter account:

Thanks UNESCO for having faith in our application and including the pre-Columbian spheres archaeological park in the list.

Costa Rica: “God Bless your X”

On Sunday, April 6 2014, Costa Rica held the run-off to elect a new president [es]. After governing party's candidate Johnny Araya retired his campaign, the whole process lost intensity, and abstentionism was a threat.

Making an analogy with football soccer [es], website Costa Rica Azul says:

Con su equis, este domingo, en la papeleta usted elige al nuevo director técnico, quien nos guiará en el campo de juego, será el encargado de motivarnos, dar el ejemplo, marcar la ruta, indicar dónde debemos reforzar, cuidar la marca y escuchar para comprender lo que vivimos quienes estamos en el terreno de juego.

[...]

¡Reinventemos el futuro! ¡Dios bendiga a Costa Rica!

With your X, this Sunday on your voting ballot, you choose the new trainer, who will guide us in playing filed, who will be in charge of motivating us, who will be an example, show us the path, indicate us where to strengthen, who will take care of determining the course and listen to understand what are we going through, those of us who are in the field.

[...]

Let's reinvent the future! God bless Costa Rica!

El Salvador and Costa Rica to Hold Runoff Elections

El Salvador and Costa Rica held presidential elections yesterday, February 2, but both countries will define their president in a runoff vote.

In El Salvador, “results show Salvador Sanchez Ceren (FMLN) winning 49%, just short of the 50% he needed to win in the first round. Norman Quijano (ARENA) is in second place with 39%,” writes Boz from Bloggings by boz, where he shares “Five points on El Salvador's elections.”

Meanwhile in Costa Rica, The Tico Times reports:

Center-left presidential candidate Luis Guillermo Solís will battle ruling party candidate Johnny Araya in a runoff on April 6 after Solís shocked many in this small Central American country by taking first place in preliminary results released late Sunday night.

[...]

Costa Rica’s elections, which were peaceful, showed a growing polarization among progressive and conservative voters.

From Barcelona to Madrid for the Love of a Candidate

Blogger Denise Duncan makes a confession [es] on her blog:

¿Por qué voy a viajar 1400 kilómetros para votar por Luis Guillermo Solís? ¿Por qué ir y volver de Barcelona a Madrid en 24 horas? ¡Pero es un voto, nada más!, podría pensarse. ¿Qué diferencia hay? Una: estoy enamorada.

Why am I going to travel 1400 kilometers to vote for Luis Guillermo Solís? Why am I going from Barcelona to Madrid and back in 24 hours? But it's just a vote, nothing else!, you could think. What's the difference? One: I'm in love.

Denise is a Barcelona-based Costa Rican citizen and she'll have to travel from there to Madrid to cast her vote for Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera [es], a candidate running for president in the upcoming elections on February 2, 2014.

She remembers an earlier experience, when she spent 24 hours in a train to meet the man who is now her husband. She ends her confession saying:

Entonces brindaré por lo que viene, por un cambio que hará que mi corazón diga: yo recorrí 1400 kilómetros por dos hombres decentes en mi vida. Uno es mi marido. El otro el Presidente de la República.

Then I'll make a toast for what's yet to come, for a change that will make my heart say: I traveled 1400 kilometers because of two men in my life. One is my husband. The other one is the President of the Republic.

Words From a Patient Who Got a Second Chance

Mamografía

“Mammograms hurt, but not having them hurts more.” Image on Flickr by user Zumaques (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Some months ago, on her blog Anchas Alamedas, blogger Solentiname started to share the different stages she's gone through, since the moment she found a lump in her breast. On her latest blogpost, she writes to someone she calls Mimí and she tells her how she felt after the surgery she experienced few weeks ago. She tells Mimi about her feelings, doubts, pains and joys:

No te preocupés porque no me ha dolido nada. Ha sido incómodo, pero cuando uno se salva de una cosa de esas, entrega endosado el derecho de quejarse, ¿verdad? Me siento casi obligada a la felicidad absoluta, a la perspectiva, al esto es preferible a un cáncer. [...] Y resulta, además, que yo no sé bien cómo sentirme. No me siento sobreviviente de cáncer, no siento que tengo derecho a ese título. [...] He pensado en tomarle la palabra a todas las personas que me han dicho que les dejara saber si podían hacer algo por mí y decirles que sÍ: que le paguen a todas sus empleadas una mamografía, que hagan una campaña, que salven así aunque sea una vida.

Don't worry, this didn't hurt at all. It has been uncomfortable, but when you manage to overcome something like this, you give up the right to complain, right? I feel almost forced to absolute happiness, to perspective, to the this is better than cancer. [...] And besides that, I don't know how to feel anymore. I don't feel as if I survived cancer, I don't feel entitled to the label of survivor. [...] I've thought of taking at their word to everyone that asked me to let them know if they could do something for me and I will tell them yes: pay a mammogram to each of your female workers, make a campaign, save at least one life.

She ends up saying:

No sobreviví a nada Mimí. No siento que la vida me esté dando una segunda oportunidad de nada. No me siento con una misión en la vida. No me siento especial, diferente, escogida. No me siento distinta.

I am not survivor at all, Mimí. I don't feel life is giving me a second chance of anything. I don't feel I have a mission in life. I don't feel special, different nor chosen. I don't feel I'm distinct.

Costa Rica: Ongoing Teacher Strike

On Tuesday, May 13, the teacher strike in Costa Rica had been going on for 13 days, and President Luis Guillermo Solís called educators’ [es] attention asking them to get back to their classrooms and calling on their patriotism: “With all due respect and humility, I am asking the teachers to let us get back to normal in all schools. This is not about bargaining any of the teachers’ rights, but about getting back to school to prevent more students to be affected”:

President Luis Guillermo Solis asks educators to end up the strike. Details on #CB24Noticias.

‘Costa Ricans Are Fed Up’

A myriad of articles about the recent Costa Rican elections have proclaimed the country’s “turn to the left.” Perhaps some do this because it is simply too convenient to whip up an article or op-ed about leftist victories in El Salvador and Costa Rica. Or perhaps some are still trapped in the Cold War. But these headlines miss the more salient point of Costa Rica’s elections – Costa Ricans are fed up. And they’re fed up with the status quo.

Christine Wade writes a guest post in the blog Central American Politics where she discusses “the general political malaise amongst Costa Ricans”. She concludes:

It’s time to move beyond the left-right discourse that all too frequently characterizes the analysis of Central American politics if we are to better understand the political dynamics of a region in flux. As the case of Costa Rica demonstrates (and this is true for El Salvador as well), such superficial explanations obscure more than they enlighten.

Costa Ricans Go to the Polls to Elect a New President

Glenda Umaña, a Costa Rican journalist who is covering today's presidential elections, comments on Facebook [es] and Twitter:

I found my name on the electoral roll. I'm so excited about voting that I'm in tears!

This is part of the electoral party that is currently taking place in Costa Rica.

Costa Ricans are using the hashtag #VivoMiVoto to share reports and photographs.

You can also follow today's vote live online through streaming by Canal 7 [es] and Onda UNED [es].

Online Platform ‘Ojo al Voto’ Seeks to Lure Young Costa Rican Voters

"Politics in your language!" Image from the Ojo al voto Facebook page.

“Politics in your language!” Image from the Ojo al voto Facebook page.

The interactive platform Ojo al voto [es] wants to provide young voters with useful and straightforward information about the upcoming presidential and legislative elections in Costa Rica, scheduled for February 2, 2014.

The Hivos Central America website explains:

Ojo al voto is an interactive platform, independent from the mainstream media, that combines detailed information about political parties and the profiles and platforms of presidential and legislative candidates with digital storytelling and data visualizations.

[...]

This innovative initiative is especially aimed at young voters between the age of 18 and 37, who represent 48 percent of the electorate according to Costa Rica’s Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE). A poll published by the daily newspaper ‘La Nación’ showed that 5 out of 10 young people claimed to be indifferent to politics. Working in this climate of apathy, Ojo al Voto’s challenge is to bring youth closer to politics.

You can follow Ojo al Voto on Facebook [es] and Twitter [es].

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