Costa Rica News Roundup posted by on July 8, 2014
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14 photos of Cahuita’s 2nd International Calypso Festival

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Government negotiates peace agreement between farmers, indigenous group in Salitre conflict zone

BUENOS AIRES, Puntarenas – Just before 1 a.m. on Tuesday morning, government officials successfully negotiated a peace agreement between indigenous Bribrí residents and local farmers in Costa Rica’s southeastern indigenous reserve of Salitre, where violence broke out Saturday due to a land dispute.

Officials from the government’s Ministry of Peace have been in the area since June 28, when a group of indigenous Bribrí set up encampments on farms that had been occupied by non-indigenous people, a legal land reclamation according to Costa Rica’s indigenous law. Officials from the Presidency Ministry and the Ombudsman’s Office have since joined in the negotiations.

“The issue is that what the law and the indigenous people see as a reclamation of land is seen as an invasion by the non-indigenous people who had been occupying that territory,” said Presidency Vice Minister Ana Gabriel Zúñiga, one of the agreement’s mediators. 

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Costa Rica’s ombudswoman resigns amid tax fraud probe

Ombudswoman Ofelia Taitelbaum on Monday morning submitted a letter of resignation to the Legislative Assembly just days after lawmakers and Judicial Investigation Police announced they would open an investigation into allegations that she had committed tax fraud.

Taitelbaum sent the letter to Assembly President Henry Mora, stating that she was stepping down “in the interests of transparency” and so that the investigation against her could be “conducted without tarnishing the work of the Ombudsman’s Office.”

Taitelbaum is under investigation for allegations of tax fraud after several members of the news media last week reported on the apparent use of forged documents and signatures to issue payments for professional consulting services to a person who denied receiving them.

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Who will guard the guardians?

Since Plato penned “The Republic,” students of government have been asking of those who govern: “Who guards the guardians?”

In Costa Rica, the answer to that question is the Defensoría de los Habitantes, or Ombudsman’s Office. Since 1982, this office has been charged with protecting citizens’ rights, and it has the power to investigate public abuse of power and to initiate judicial proceedings against those who commit the abuses. But what happens when the person charged with protecting the citizens is herself suspected of committing abuses?

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Magnitude-6.9-quake strikes southern Mexico, northern Guatemala, kills at least 2

PALENQUE, Mexico – A strong, magnitude-6.9 earthquake rocked parts of southern Mexico and Guatemala on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring more than 40 others.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake — initially measured at a magnitude of 7.1 — struck the Pacific coast of Mexico’s Chiapas state at about 1124 GMT at a depth of 60 kilometers (37 miles).

The epicenter was located just two kilometers from the Mexican town of Puerto Madero, and 200 kilometers from Guatemala City.

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