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Cartago Kicks Up A Fuss Over San Jose’s New Brand “SJO Vive”

On Wednesday, the Municipality of San José officially unveiled its brand “SJO Vive” to attract Ticos and foreigners to Costa Rica’s capital.

The brand “San Jose Vive” was unveiled Wednesday by the city of San Jose to attract local and foreigner visitors to the capital city.

The ceremony, led by San Jose Mayor Johnny Araya, included the unveiling of the sculpture that will be the motto for the city, a branding that is costing taxpayers some ¢50 million colones (US$87,000 dollars).

The sculpture unveiled in the Parque Central (Central Park), in the heart of downtown San Jose, is one of three. Of the other two, one will be on Paseo Colon, the location of the third has not yet been disclosed.

“We want to make San Jose a city where you want to go to spend time, to find culture, because something interesting is going to happen. It is a living city, is moving, which has everything: art, education, social work, spaces for the family,” said Pepe Cárdenas, the Mexican publicist in charge of developing the brand.

Cartago says it coined the ‘Vive” phrase more than 20 years ago it represents the feelings of all those who call Cartago home

“Behind the initiative, there is no doubt an account of the city that we have built for some years (…),” said Araya, who explained that “San Jose should be more a destination than a pass through”.

While San Jose city officials were celebrating their new brand, in the old Metropolis, the city of Cartago that once was the country’s capital, its residents and city officials there were fuming.

On Thursday, the city of Cartago officially made it clear that the San Jose brand is similar to their motto “Vive Vive, Cartago Vive”, which was coined some 20 years ago and has been used for various social initiatives.

Cartago says it is preparing a formal complaint for what they consider is “a kind of intellectual subtraction”.

The Cartago city council argues that “Vive Vive, Cartago Vive” is an expression that identifies the feelings of the people of Cartago.

Cartago historian Flora Matilde Vargas criticized “the lack of creativity” on the part of San Jose and added that it is “a disrespect to the ‘Cartaginesa’ idiosyncrasy”.

Cultural leader and journalist Eduardo Castillo was even more critical, “it’s plagiarism, I do not know how they paid ¢50 million colones for that idea when it was created in Cartago without even spending five colones.”

Araya Surprised
Faced with the news, the San Jose mayor said he was somewhat surprised by the annoyance of the city of Cartago, considering there is no conflict, competition or interference between one concept and the other.

Araya told La Nacion by telephone, “San Jose is projected as an active and dynamic city, which is a destination for living, work, art, culture, and entertainment, and we are subliminally appealing to our famous ‘Pura Vida.’ We were advised by an advertising company and we liked the concept, we were careful to check if there was any brand with that name and proceeded to register it in the Registro de Marcas (Trademark Registry).”

“First of all I want to say that I have great affection and respect for Cartago and its people, I do not see where there may be a conflict. ‘San Josw Vive’ is associated with a series of attributes of the city that we want to promote at the national level and we want to strengthen the sense of belonging of the Josefinos (residents of San Jose) and the pride of Costa Ricans for their capital,” Araya explained.

The San Jose mayor said it is not a case of a legal issue.

“They are two different concepts, they have used ‘Vive, Vive, Cartago Vive’ mostly with futbol (soccer), but the meaning is different, the word ‘vida’ (life) alone is an injection of vitality. This term may have replicas in other cantons, it is not at all exclusionary. There is no desire to compete, what we want is to enhance everything positive that our city and our country has,” Araya concluded.

Editor’s note:
The term SJO refers to the Juan Santamaría (San Jose) International Airport  IATA code, a three-letter code designating many airports around the world. Although it is referred to as the San Jose airport, the terminal is actually located near the city of Alajuela, 20 km (12 miles) west of downtown San José.