QCOSTA RICA OP-ED, By Juan Sebastian Campos — Happy adjective \ˈha-pē\: feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc.
One really needs to question how Costa Rica can be declared the “Happiest Country on the Planet,” by travel bureaus, pundits, the tourism board and the government itself. A sleepy sloth does assure feeling good.
With better than 24% of the population living in poverty, coming dead last on the Global Competitive Index, being declared by some 20% as the most expensive country in Latin America, according to the World Bank Costa Rica has dropped 5 places to #83 out of 189 countries measured by the Ease of Doing Business Index, and Foreign Direct Investment is off by 23% so far this year – Happiness is not the general feeling of those who live in Costa Rica.
“Fear” might be a better word.
With hotels closing, much of industry is either laying off employees or leaving the country altogether seeking greener pastures and what appears to many as an insurmountable threat of sovereign default on our massive borrowings racked up over the years; fear prevails in the hearts of many.
The Fuerza Publica (Police) went to great lengths in explaining to those of us who live in “paradise” that violence is again on the rise and especially the dangers within our most populated area, Desamparados which has become a haven for drug related gang wars and those gang members have access to heavy duty arms.
We elected a government which has been in office seven months now and the only piece of significant legislature is the passing of Solís’ uncut budget increasing government expenditures any where from 15% to 19% depending on who does the calculating. Regardless, the President promised to reduce spending while increasing tax collection. Neither has come to fruition and we all fear what new taxes can be on the executive agenda making daily life even more costly.
A senor citizen wrote a letter to an English language news outlet that ended by saying, “…good bye to a dream.” The seventy year old woman and her 75 year old husband fear for their lives as they were victims of a home invasion, he was pistol whipped and the modest home was cleaned out by three masked men. The couple immediately packed what they could and left to go back home.
We live in a small four apartment complex and two of the apartments were robbed at night while the occupants slept. Two others had their cars broken into. Fear permeates the hearts of each tenant and the foreign owners offer little help. (It took four days just to repair the main gate.)
It’s hard to be “happy” living in Costa Rica. We pay so very much and receive so little in return. We worry about our jobs, the economy, the government, the dilapidated infrastructure, the bureaucracy, the cost of living, cross the board corruption that operates with impunity and, of course nonsensical violence.
“Yes, fear is a better word.”