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The History and Meaning Behind Costa Rica’s Lantern Parade :

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Every September 14th, on the eve of Independence Day, most towns and cities of Costa Rica celebrate the traditional lantern parade. Driven by educational centers, this event promotes national pride within communities and fills students with joy and happiness as they showcase the lanterns they have crafted with their own hands.

Currently, the lantern parade tradition coincides with the journey of the Central American Independence Torch, which travels throughout the country. This torch symbolizes the flame of freedom that made history on that fateful night in 1821 in the streets of Guatemala, commemorating the independence of Central American countries from Spain.

Historical Context

To fully appreciate this celebration, it’s crucial to understand the context in which the Independence Act was signed on September 15, 1821.

While these pivotal events were unfolding in Guatemala, Costa Rica was largely oblivious to the happenings. In the early 19th century, the absence of electricity meant that nighttime lighting, both inside and outside homes, was limited. People relied on torches or lamps to navigate the streets.

At that time, Costa Rica, along with other Central American countries of today, was under the Captaincy General of Guatemala, which was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. While many advocated for independence from Spain, others clung to the existing political and administrative structures that defined them as Spanish colonies.

In this era, women rarely occupied the political stage. However, in Guatemala, Dolores Bedoya, with her indomitable spirit, became a beacon of change. Alongside her husband Pedro Molina Mazariegos and others, she ignited the call for independence. Marching with torches on September 14, 1821, she rallied the masses urging them to openly demand independence.

Their momentum carried into the next day, September 15. Leading a large group of citizens, she stationed herself outside the National Palace of Guatemala where the elite convened to discuss the prospects of independence. Amid the melodies of marimbas and the roar of fireworks, Dolores Bedoya delivered a stirring speech. With arms raised, she beckoned the crowd to voice their demand for independence.

After the signing, in unified voices, the cry rang out: “Long live the Homeland! Long live freedom!”

Costa Rica’s Tradition

In Costa Rica, the tradition of the lantern parade took root in 1953, following the Civil War of 1948, during a period when there was a resurgence of national values.

Professor Víctor Manuel Ureña Arguedas (1912-1995), the provincial school director of San José, was the official force behind the lantern parade’s initiation in 1953. He engaged teachers from various schools to host this event annually on September 14th at 6 p.m., with the mission of nurturing a sense of civic duty, beginning with the younger generation.

The inaugural parade witnessed overwhelming participation from students of San José, accompanied by their educators and parents. Displaying their artistic lanterns, they marched through the streets of San José, suffusing the capital with joy and civic pride.

Over time, as educators championed this parade, and its influence expanded to other communities. Today, it stands as a vibrant and patriotic tradition, with students, teachers, parents, and other family members enthusiastically partaking — from crafting the lanterns to joining the parade through various Costa Rican towns.

In 2023, as Costa Rica and its Central American neighbors mark 202 years of independence, it presents a fitting moment to honor this invaluable tradition and ensure its continuation, fostering the national pride that epitomizes being Costa Rican.



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OECD Will Hold Its First Environmental Sustainability Summit in Costa Rica

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On October 5, Costa Rica will host the Ministerial Summit of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Environmental Sustainability.  This will be the first edition of the event and will have the theme “Economic resilience, green and fair transition.”The meeting will take place at the Costa Rica Convention Center.

 Among the guests are government officials from the areas of Environment, Commerce; Economy and Labor of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and members of the OECD.  Also from international organizations such as banks, United Nations agencies and organizations.

 The Summit is co-organized by the OECD, the Ministry of Foreign Trade (COMEX), the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) and has the support of the European Union.  It also responds to the OECD Regional Program for Latin America and the Caribbean (PRLAC), which concentrates regional efforts on sustainability and achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

 The OECD keeps an eye on the environment

The Summit is part of the OECD Environmental Sustainability Week, which will be hosting a series of events linked to environmental issues, focused on issues of youth, trade, employment, regulatory policy;  circular economy, contribution of the private sector to the green transition, role of civil society,

A rapid and fair transition towards a low-carbon economy in the region

 “The meeting aims to enrich the exchange of points of view and experiences between policy makers and, in this way generate contributions on how to guarantee a rapid and fair transition towards a low-carbon economy in the region,” the organization announced.

 Additionally, issues from the environmental agenda and the green trade agenda will be analyzed.At the event, it is expected to show progress that Costa Rica has had in projects such as climate adaptation and environmental services.

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Costa Rica and Panama Seek Joint Strategies For Migrant Crisis :

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President Rodrigo Chaves will travel to Panama on October 6th and 7th for meetings with President Laurentino Cortizo focused on addressing the migrant crisis unfolding in the Darien Gap region along their shared border.

After discussions between the leaders, Chaves and Cortizo plan to visit a migrant camp on the Panamanian side that provides humanitarian aid to the influx traversing the perilous Darien jungle seeking to reach North America.

Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez stated the visit will allow Presidents Chaves and Cortizo to engage directly with migrants and demonstrate joint efforts between the two nations to handle significant population flows.

Rodriguez noted the trip aligns with Costa Rica’s commitment to the U.S. to maintain safe, orderly migration while respecting national sovereignty. Chaves will depart for Panama on October 5th.

Over the weekend, Panama’s Security Minister Juan Manuel Pino met his Costa Rican counterpart Mario Zamora. Both countries aim to establish concrete measures to alleviate pressures from record numbers crossing the Darien Gap this year.

Data shows over 390,000 migrants, primarily from Venezuela and Ecuador, have entered Panama through the lawless jungle in 2022 thus far. The sheer volume has strained resources and services in border regions.

Minister Rodriguez acknowledged limited capabilities to manage an unprecedented situation. The large migrant presence has burdened local communities like Paso Canoas, where residents have protested negative impacts on security, health services, and more.

By witnessing realities firsthand and coordinating responses, Presidents Cortizo and Chaves hope to mitigate fallout while upholding migrant protections. Their discussions will address deploying resources efficiently and securing international assistance.

With migration flows expected to remain high in coming years, experts call the leaders’ engagement a positive step. But successfully balancing border stability and compassionate policies will require sustained regional cooperation and aid from developed nations.

As nearby transit hubs, Panama and Costa Rica’s futures are intertwined. Joint strategies arising from Chaves’ upcoming visit can set the tone for the cooperative spirit needed to confront mounting shared challenges.



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An Essential Component of Tico Society ⋆ The Costa Rica News

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The Afro-descendants of Costa Rica have played a significant role in shaping the cultural and historical landscape of the country. With a rich and diverse heritage, they have contributed to the social, economic, and political development of Costa Rica.

The presence of Afro-descendants in Costa Rica can be traced back to the colonial era when African slaves were brought to the region to work on plantations and in the mining industry. Over time, these individuals formed communities and established their own cultural traditions, which have been passed down through generations.

Music and dance

One of the most notable contributions of Afro-descendants in Costa Rica is in the field of music and dance. The vibrant rhythms of Afro-Caribbean music, such as calypso, reggae, and salsa, have become an integral part of the country’s cultural identity. Traditional dances like the Limón dance and the PuntoGuanacasteco showcase the unique blend of African and indigenous influences.

Politics

In addition to their cultural contributions, Afro-descendants have also made significant strides in the political arena. Despite facing historical discrimination and marginalization, individuals of African descent have fought for their rights and representation. In recent years, there has been an increase in Afro-Costa Rican politicians, activists, and leaders advocating for social justice and equality.

Economy

Economically, Afro-descendants have made notable contributions to various industries, particularly in agriculture and tourism. The province of Limón, located on the Caribbean coast, is known for its banana plantations, which have been a major source of employment for Afro-Costa Ricans. Additionally, the vibrant Afro-Caribbean culture and natural beauty of the region have attracted tourists from around the world, contributing to the local economy.

Despite these contributions, Afro-descendants in Costa Rica continue to face challenges and inequalities. Discrimination and socioeconomic disparities persist, limiting access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Efforts are being made to address these issues through affirmative action policies, awareness campaigns, and community empowerment initiatives.

The Afro-descendants of Costa Rica have left an indelible mark on the country’s history and culture. Their contributions in music, dance, politics, and the economy have enriched the nation’s identity. However, it is crucial to recognize and address the ongoing challenges faced by Afro-Costa Ricans to ensure a more inclusive and equitable society for all. By celebrating and embracing the diversity of its population, Costa Rica can continue to thrive as a multicultural nation.

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