Saturday 25 June 2022

[OP-ED] Are We A Poacher’s Paradise?

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24 June 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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Jairo Mora walking the beach of Moín, Limón. Photo ALBERT MARÍN.
Jairo Mora walking the beach of Moín, Limón. Photo ALBERT MARÍN.

Two recent events, both condoned of neglect by the government of Costa Rica and both simply confirm our eagerness to sell peace, democracy, justice and environmental protection to the world; but in reality the truth is quite different.

Making international news, especially among environmentalists, is the “not guilty” verdict of the seven men who took hostage five people, four of which were foreign volunteers and the ultimate murder of the Costa Rican idealist Jairo Mora, a 26-year-old conservationist.

There are recorded telephone conversations among the accused, first hand witnesses, a female hostage willing and able to return to Costa Rica to testify but never called….and as it is in our little country, the prosecution did not cross every “T” and dot every “I”. Ergo, the seven defendants walk free and the world questions our dedication to protecting the environment.

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Is it or has it always been for sale?

Substance is of little importance in the court of law and the concept of spirit and intent is almost nonexistent. It is the structure of the case and that each and every rule (Not to be confused with “law”) is met and clearly comprehensible which decides guilt. Without the specific structure and protocol, the defendants are assumed innocent no matter how damaging is the evidence against them.

After being warned, Mora was brutally murdered by professional poachers and while not knowing and not wanting to know the often crusty Captain, Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, he is right that the not guilty verdict only indicates the hypocrisy of Costa Rican law.

Adding to our lack to enthusiastically protect the environment while trumpeting the challenge to be carbon neutral, in April, 2014 Costa Rice had a chance to make shark fining illegal but instead created an obvious loophole allowing “finners” to cut off the shark fin, drop the helpless body back into the ocean and sell those fins in Asia for as much as cocaine. A good business, a rotten, cruel business; but it pays well.

Yet, with tongue in cheek so to speak, then President Laura Chinchilla received the Shark Guardian Award from a conservation group called “Shark Project.”

The judge in defense of Kathy Tseng, a Taiwanese – Costa Rican was premised on her boats docked but never unloaded shark fins in Pura Vida and were not offered for sale in this country. Although docked, the cargo went on to Nicaragua, dried and brought back by truck for shipping to Asian clients from our Port of Moin in Limon.

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Technically not law is being broken but no sharks have been saved from this cruel practice that does not at all help our image of Costa Rica. It also clearly demonstrates, once again, that profit is far more important than the highly touted eco-environment.

We are a country of “technicality” when it comes to the judicial system, especially if one can afford good legal, expensive, counsel. However, poaching is a serious international issue and Costa Rica itself is being judged by foreign investors and tourists, not by its words but rather by its practices.

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Juan Sebastian Campos
An expat from the U.S., educator and writer in English and Spanish since 1978 with a doctorate in business administrations (DBA) from the United States and Germany. A feature writer for ABC News, Copley Press and the Tribune Group with emphasis on Central America.

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