Gerónimo Abarca Jirón,  Photo  Jonathan Jimenez, La Nacion
Gerónimo Abarca Jirón, Photo Jonathan Jimenez, La Nacion

QCOSTARICA – How much is not having a cedula (Costa Rica identification card) worth? The Tribunal Contencioso-Administrativo says US$100.000, the amount the Court ordered the State to pay, farmer Gerónimo Abarca Jirón, for leaving him without a cedula for the last 34 years.

The judges, in their February 11 ruling, said Abarca’s fundamental right to have the ID was violated.

“It is an important right of any individual, allowing to identify oneself as a citizen and thereby have all their rights and duties (…), keeping the person without citizenship, without identify of his  nationality … limited …”, said the Court.

Abarca, now 64, who had been without a cedula since 1977, thanked the judges, but did not consider the amount awarded him fair for what he considers the State snatching from him his right

“They keep teasing me”, Abarca told La Nacion, adding that he has instructed his lawyer to appeal.

Abarca, a son of Nicaraguan parents, was born on September 30, 1950, in Pococí, Limón, but the parents never registered the birth.

It was not until April 1975 when Abarca made a request for a birth certificate from the Registro Civil (Registry) to obtain his cedula, issued by the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE). Since August 1977 the farmer has been trying, without success, to get his ID.

Abarca says he has worked most of his life on the farm, has fathered six children, lived in a common law relationship, but could never marry because he didn’t have a cedula.

The farmer says that not having a cedula was the cause of the break up with his common-law wife, she demanded marriage on religious beliefs, but he couldn’t. She moved on.

“She love me very much, but…”, said Abarca.

The farmer added that by not having a cedula he has no land of his own, without the document he could not be registered on title.

“Everything his in her name. Right now i’m in the house of my ex … ,” said Abarca.


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