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Costa Rica: A small flourishing country

by Breonnah Colón - Editor in Chief
Tue, Sep 11th 2018 04:00 pm

 

The world is a big place, which tends only to focus on the most influential and affluent individuals, nations and systems. For a small country like Costa Rica, it’s easy to be overlooked and somewhat forgotten, especially when there aren’t large-scale disasters wrecking the nation. When considering Latin America, the entitled citizen in the United States would presumably think of a third-world country, ridden with strife, political instability and struggling people striving to trek half a continent away to the United States. 

While there certainly are some countries in Latin America currently experiencing difficult times, not every nation across this continent is full of thousands of people yearning to steal American jobs. In fact, there are several countries that are relatively economically stable and making progress in their own right. This is the case for Costa Rica.

Christopher Columbus was the first of several European travellers to come across Costa Rica, which translates to the Rich Coast in English. The name was inspired, like many interactions carried out by Europeans at the time, due to interest and the desire to obtain the riches that were thought to be housed across the land due to the gold bands and jewelry the indigenous people possessed when Columbus first encountered their society in 1502. While Columbus was the first to introduce the existence of Costa Rica to Europe, Gil Gonzalez Davila was the man responsible for giving the country the name it carries to this day.  According to geographia.com, about four different tribes lived throughout the country at the time; the Caribs, Borucas, Chibchas and Diquis.

While Spanish conquistadors did eventually come to conquer the small island, the colony wasn’t given much attention. The terrain was difficult to navigate and manage. As a result, the Spaniards chose to spend more effort on the more profitable and larger countries of Peru and Mexico. This oversight made it a bit easier for those living in the country to participate in the rebellion that began with the Mexican War of Independence from Spain between 1810 and 1821. 

Costa Rica then became a part of the Mexican Empire and then the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823. Eventually the country fought for and won its own independence a decade later in 1838. After staving off American efforts to takeover the small nation in 1856, the nation was able to maintain its freedom, establishing a democratic government in the year 1869.

As time passed and the world developed, Costa Rica also experienced changes across its terrain. According to centalamerica.com, the country flourished and was maintained throughout several generations without many hiccups. The site notes that Costa Ricans experienced a relatively peaceful life growing produce such as coffee, bananas and pineapples. 

The biggest issues the country faced in its recent history was a dictatorship that lasted roughly two years. In 1913 the country hosted an election and no candidate held a clear cut win. As  a result the Legislative Assembly appointed Alfredo González Flores as President. 

However, this choice was not taken well by General Federico Tinoco Granados, who hosted the county’s first coup in 1917. He reigned until 1919 when he finally stepped down due to pressure by both the Costa Rican people and the threat of U.S. intervention. The second large scale political issue to briefly plague the country was a civil war that took place in 1948.  The war lasted only 44 days, but resulted in the death of 2,000 civilians, according to britannica.com.

Perhaps due to this relatively lax history, Costa Rica doesn’t frequently pop up across headlines in the U.S. Beyond coverage of some natural disasters, the country gets minimal coverage. However, a national strike was set to take place this past Monday, Sept. 10 by the country’s unions. According to qcostarica.com, everything from “doctor’s appointments to pumping gas to a stroll at the local mall” could be impacted by the strikes which were set in response to tax reforms implemented by current President, Carlos Alvarado. While Costa Ricans may have some preventative planning to put in place, Americans have virtually no clue about the strike, other than a tripadvisor post which warns that bridges and tolls across the country could be closed as a result.

Costa Rica is a prime example of a country flourishing and progressing all on its own. Many tend to see countries in Latin America as lesser than, with its citizens dreaming of entering our borders. Sometimes we need a reality check to help us understand that not every citizen in the world strives to enter the U.S. Sometimes people are perfectly fine living at home in the other America.

 

stylus@brockport.edu