Costa Rica: Popular initiative bans hunting for sport; Central Bank decision encounters resistance; Puntarenas Carnival starts
Popular initiative bans hunting for sport
January 31, President Laura Chinchilla signed the Ley de Vida Silvestre, a law approved in October 2012 by Congress prohibiting hunting for sport. As a result, Costa Rica is the first country in Latin America to prohibit this practice.
Apreflofas, a local conservation group, supported this measure through a new legislative procedure called public initiative. The proposal had reached Congress with 177.000 signature, or 5% of the electoral population. This had been possible after consultations with environmental and academic groups, as well as political parties and public bodies.
Hence, it is also the first time that a law is approved following popular initiative.
According to the law, sport hunters will be fined ₡1.5 million ($3000) and individuals caught trafficking wildlife species ₡900.000 ($1800). However, the law continues to make it legal to hunt for personal consumption, wildlife population control or scientific research.
Costa Rica: Central Bank decision encounters resistance
January 31, the Banco Central de Costa Rica (Central Bank of Costa Rica – BCCR) issued its Macroeconomic Programme for 2013-2014 and announced it would target an average inflation of 5% and GDP growth of 4%.
To do this, the Monetary Authority ordered banks to limit credit expansion to just 9% between February 1 and 31 October 2013, among other things.
The Asociación Bancaria Costarricense (Costa Rican Banking Association -ABC), which represents commercial banks, immediately rejected the measure.
According to the ABC, this will directly affect financial clients, both families and the production sector. Small firms will be negatively affected as access to credit is reduced and becomes more expensive. Families wanting to access credit to buy homes will also be penalized.
For ABC, this goes against the national effort to create new jobs and increase production. In addition, it doesn’t resolve the most pressing problems regarding the Government’s fiscal deficit.
The next day, the Cámara Costarricense de Importadores (Costa Rican Chamber of Importers – Crecex), the Cámara Costarricense de Comercio (Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce) and the Cámara Costarricense de la Construcción (Costa Rican Chamber of Construction) echoed the ABC’s disapproval with the measure.
Puntarenas carnival starts
The month of February is well known around the world for the Carnival of Rio de Janeiro and the Carnival of Venice. Less renowned, but attracting hundreds of people from Costa Rica and from all over the world, is the “Festival Perla del Pacífico”, better known as the Puntarenas carnival.
Fireworks started early Friday morning to inaugurate the festivities. Activities included the election of the Carnival’s Queen: Jennifer Barrantes Flores. Public dancing, parades, concerts and various cultural activities will continue until the following Sunday, February 10.
Puntarenas is one of the country’s provinces that welcomes the highest number of tourists – a number that is at it’s highest during this time of year.