QBLOG – Many, if not most counties in the world, like to involve the word “Democratic” in their description of government. Even the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), the brutal North Korean Dictatorship of Kim Jong Un, uses the term, when even the less studious of readers would have to know that it is anything but Democratic.
The word carries with it the connotation of respecting Human Rights and a sense that a country’s people are governed in a fair and impartial manner. Costa Rica is no different in wanting to convey such an image to the world. However, does that image reflect the reality of government in Costa Rica? In my opinion, it does not.
On paper, Costa Rica would appear to be a Democracy, with the existence of the three required Branches of Government (Executive, Judicial, and Legislative), all operating independently in their respective decision making authority.
However, Costa Rica in practice is really an “Oligarchy”, controlled by a ruling class, composed of old, wealthy Costa Rican families, tied together by history (referred to and acknowledged in Costa Rica as “The Blue Bloods”) and some wealthy, larger business owners, who are equally well connected.
Average Costa Ricans from the middle and poorer classes, or who are otherwise not members of this ruling class group, really have no chance of being dealt with fairly with respect to the decisions taken and whims of the ruling class.
This ruling class group legislates for itself with impunity and not usually for the good of the ordinary Costa Rican people; a group duly protected by the unpublished code of corruption which exists between its members and outside of the rules and regulations imposed by law.
The practical application of democratic principles in Costa Rica is dysfunctional at best, in the words of previous President Oscar Arias, who is again considering the nomination for the PLN’s candidate for President in 2018.
Don Oscar, during his second term as President, has admittedly created (although he states it to be as a result of an unintended consequence) a “bourgeoisie” Public Sector Class, through the payment of outlandish salary, benefits, and pension payments to its members, to the detriment of the Private Sector and the Economy of Costa Rica as a whole.
The Judicial Branch, through the Supreme, or Constitutional Court (Sala IV), operates as really nothing more than an extension of the Executive Branch, making more political, rather than rendering judicial decisions based on the law.
A good example of this would be the Corporation Tax Law which was declared unconstitutional as being “void ab initio” for lack of the proper publication. The Law, if dealt with in a judicial manner, would have required not only the Law to be struck-down, but also all of tax money collected pursuant to the Law, returned to the taxpayers, as having been unlawfully collected. Instead, the Constitutional Court struck-down the Law in February 2015, but ruled that all Corporations were required to pay the 2015 Corporation Tax in order to remain current. This was obviously a political rather than a judicial decision, as the Government had already budgeted for the tax money to be collected.
Costa Ricans born into these middle and poorer classes of society, or are not otherwise lucky enough to obtain membership in this ruling class group, are socialized into this milieu of class distinction and unfairness, being kept-down by the Ruling Class in a form of “psychological bondage”, which accompanies them from birth until death.
This psychological effect is readily apparent, through the lack of eye contact exhibited by members of these Middle and Poorer Classes of Society, when being addressed by their Ruling Class Masters, their being “cowed into humility” by the experience. Although far from perfect, this is not the experience of similar members of U.S. and particularly Canadian societies.
In my opinion, a true emancipation from the psychological bondage promulgated on the less empowered members of Costa Rican society by its ruling class masters, will only occur once there is a greater degree of involvement in the administrative and governmental processes in Costa Rica, by long-time naturalized foreigners to Costa Rica, arriving from countries where a true form of Democracy is practiced and who are not born with this psychological bondage imposed by the ruling class on these less empowered members of Costa Rican society.
Likewise, there would not be the “old boys club” ties to the ruling class, with the consequential distorted and biased decision making that only prefers that Class, over ordinary Costa Ricans.
Only then will there be an element injected into the governmental mix, which will allow for the introduction of principles and policies which reflect freeness and fairness for all of the members of Costa Rican society.