Monday 26 July 2021

An Expat’s Global Perspective As Viewed From Costa Rica

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(QCOSTARICA BLOGS) As an expat Canadian, naturalized as a Costa Rican, and living and working in Costa Rica for the past seventeen years, I’ve often said how nice it is to be living in Costa Rica “on the side-lines”, free from any direct involvement in threats of terrorism and/or war, as many First World countries experience, including my home country of Canada, on a daily basis.

In Costa Rica, as long as you avoid well known “bad” neighbourhoods and areas of the country, which are few, issues of personal security are almost non-existent. However, does such easy and secure living excuse one from the moral duty to “weigh-in” on matters of a global nature from time-to-time?

At the risk of sounding a bit like “the Donald Trump of Costa Rica”, who I certainly don’t aspire to be, I would like to take an opportunity to express some of my global views on a few limited topics, given my somewhat unique perspective fashioned after years of living in Costa Rica.

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Global peace centered on issues in the Middle East, is, in my opinion, the greatest personal security threat facing the people of the World today. Yes, North Korea is a “rogue state” and bears watching, but I don’t believe it will ever get past the “saber-rattling” stage in any meaningful way. Russia under Putin is also presenting to be a bit of a nuisance at the moment, however, I see this issue as being more “personality inspired”, than having any lasting substance to be concerned with.
In the Middle East, there are two main centers of conflict, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (includes the Israeli-Iran conflict) and the Sunni-Shiite Muslim religious conflict, most dramatically exemplified by the rise of ISIS. In the case of Israel, a State created by a Decree of the United Nations in 1947, in-part from what would be called both the Palestinian’s and Israeli’s rightful and historical homelands, each ethnic group, in my opinion, has a rightful claim to autonomy over its own destiny in a secure and peaceful manner. Logic would hold that the end result for peace between the two ethnic groups must involve a “Two State” solution. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank would be the obvious Palestinian State, with Gaza City as the Capital, with each geographical area of this State joined by a secure corridor similar to that that existed between Berlin and West Germany prior to the unification.

Israel would from the Jewish State, based on the borders that existed prior to the 1968 War (essentially the borders as granted in the original Decree by the UN), adjusted from a national security perspective to include such sensitive areas as the Golan Heights and with Tel Aviv remaining as the Capital. Jerusalem, with its historical and religious claims by Muslims, Christians, and Jews and a “flash-point” in any peace negotiations for the Region, should, in my opinion, be recognized as a World Heritage site and be administered as a City State, by an independent UN Heritage Foundation, free from any particular sovereign affiliation, but with access to all of the groups in the ordinary course.
Israel has a right to be concerned over the recently negotiated Iran Nuclear Deal and the continued threats issued by the Iranian Regime of its desire to eliminate Israel from “the Map”. In the short-term, it would appear that the threat of an early “breakout time” for Iran to achieve the development of a nuclear weapon has been lengthened by the Deal, which is obviously a good thing.

However, if the Deal is to be effective in the long-term (after ten years and some of the restrictions are lifted against Iran), Iran must be integrated into the World of nations as a modern-thinking Nation, with access to knowledge and technology from more progressive First World cultures, rather than that which exists with the current regime based on the outmoded and autocratic religious beliefs of a group of religious zealots.

I believe that this transition can happen, but based solely on the principle of “verification” that Iran is adhering to its obligations as negotiated in the Deal.

I know that it would be naïve for me say, sitting in comfortable Costa Rica, that Israel has nothing to worry about from Iran in the future, but I believe that a “wait and see” approach once the Deal is fully implemented is still the best avenue to pursue at the moment, rather than further increased sanctions being imposed against Iran, or any military intervention being taken.
In the case of the Sunni-Shiite Muslim religious conflict, the only long-term solution that I can logically think is possible, is that of increased access to education for the groups involved. I whole-hearted support the position of Malala, the Pakistani girl who recently shared the Nobel Peace Prize, in her stance against the Taliban in support of educational rights for all, but in particular for women.

Religious dogma arising from centuries-old thinking and prior to the advent of science being able to answer many of the questions then only being able to be answered based on religious faith, is no way to run a society in the 21st Century. In the short-term, the ISIS advance may be curtailed somewhat by military intervention, but it would be shortsighted indeed, for those involved to believe that any lasting peace can be achieved with military might.

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Obviously, the educational approach to the resolution of these religious conflicts will take generations to fully implement, so the sooner it is seriously adopted, the better for all concerned. I can think of one reform that could be adopted immediately by the governments of the countries involved in these religious conflicts, that being the elimination of Madrasas, Muslim religious schools where students merely chant verses of the Quran and “death to America” for eight hours per day, rather participating in a well-rounded educational curriculum.

The solution to these religious conflicts must arise from within these affected countries, with overt action being taken by their respective governments to implement such, but with the full support and aid of First World countries in fostering this long-term solution.

I believe that if this action were to be adopted, we could all look forward to a more peaceful and satisfying existence in the future.

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Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney; Email:, Website:

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