Thursday 30 March 2023

Let’s talk about Costa Rica instead of ranting about how bad it is “back home.”

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30 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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(EXPAT FOCUS) Let’s talk about Costa Rica instead of ranting about how bad it is “back home.” It’s easy to get carried away prognosticating about America and how bad things are there now and projecting even worse for the future.

The situation is not improving… it is not getting better and more and more people are saying “what the hell, just let a few old people die…It’s worth it to get back to normal.”

The countries that handled the situation correctly are recovering… those who didn’t… well, let’s see how a second wave looks.

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The biggest problem of all is that no one really knows what to believe any longer. That ain’t gonna change for a long, long time.

Back to Costa Rica.

No one likes the mandatory lockdowns, closures, and lack of tourists but guidelines and rules are, for the most part, being followed. There is very little complaining even though a substantial number of the population is currently “out of work” and without a paycheck.
Schools are closed and everything now is virtual… but there are very few smiles these days and it is becoming tedious, boring, and certainly no fun for anyone.

But everyone accepts the rules. “It is what it is.” No strikes, no violence, no rioting.

Is Costa Rica “that different?”

Most of us know that teachers in Costa Rica and taxi drivers go on strike… and they have their own unions and they almost always get concessions when the strike because the country cannot live without their services… AND because it is accepted.

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But… other than most Costa Ricans being more passive and less angry… more easy going… no one can really predict what will happen if the borders remain closed for “too long”… and no, no one can predict what “too long” means. There are virtually no “subsidies” here and no help from the government monetarily.

In fact, the opposite is the case… the government monetarily is in crisis mode, virtually being unable to borrow additional funds to keep the very doors open ( its bonds were recently downgraded to the lowest possible investment grade last week )… and it is raising prices and taxes wherever possible… but the problem is that most people cannot even afford to eat. So the extra charges on water and electric as well as other taxes will essentially go unpaid.

But one of the biggest unspoken fears is Nicaragua.

No… not the fear of being invaded or even primarily of infections from across the border. The real question is “ when it comes time to pick the sugar cane or coffee or tend the crops, WHO will do it?”

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Exports are a huge part of the country’s income… but Nicaragua provides nearly all of the manual labor to keep the wheels turning.

No one has an answer yet for this one. Without the income from tourism and exports… the country loses a substantial amount of its revenues.

Will crime increase? Will the borders open soon? Will there be a substitute for workers from Nicaragua or will they be allowed to enter and resume work with an examination of health? Will the government be forced to borrow additional funds forcing them into even more concessions… either from traditional sources OR from China?

Will there be an increase in crime as many predict? We have already seen hints of it happening. Will many of the expats leave as prices are being raised and crime is increasing… and take their money with them?

And lastly… will the people of Costa Rica demonstrate for an end to the lockdowns, the lack of money and an unsure future? … like much of the rest of the world?

Stay tuned.

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Randy Berg
My name is Randy Berg … and I am, I guess, officially an “old guy”. Now, my best guess is that you are thinking something along the lines of “why should I give a sh.. ?” And you will have to be the judge of that as one of the editors of this online “newspaper” asked me if I wish to contribute my writings. And no, that does not mean that you will like my writing. But I hope you do… and I want to start by telling you that my writing is a little different than most. I don’t use flowery language and I usually write too much on each subject, mainly because I don’t know of any other way to write. It is what it is. I write from the heart and I tell it exactly as I see it.

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