¿Por qué?

After an interesting and engaging lecture with Joaquín Lizano, I have a greater understanding of the Costa Rican mindset, but I am curious to know even more. Sr. Lizano packed a lot in to his lecture today, and there are multiple topics I wish we could’ve discussed in more depth. I have a few questions which I wanted to discuss.

Why are the hierarchies in Costa Rica more flexible than power structures in other Latin American countries?

Sr. Lizano made this statement as a way of differentiating Costa Rica from neighboring countries, but I was curious to know how and why the social structure is more fluid. He commented that one of the reasons is that the universities are affordable which allows lower class students to receive an education and hopefully find a high-paying job. I believe this is true along with the other social programs. Sr. Lizano noted that the government, although not as much in recent years, would provide subsidies for many items like a discount grocery store. They also provide universal healthcare, and these somewhat “socialist” programs are most likely the reason for the movability within the power structure. I find this interesting because when Spain controlled the country they were a part of a feudal system which has a rigid structure and classes. I am curious to know how these socialist ideas and “fluidity” emerged. Also, I’m not sure if I would classify this as movability. In extreme socialism or communism, the goal is to have one class, so that everyone has completely equal opportunity. If these programs are somewhat “socialist,” I believe it’s more of an equaling of classes rather than a fluidity between them.

Why is Costa Rica a confessional state?

Costa Rica is the only confessional state in the America’s, and their official religion is Roman Catholicism. After today’s lecture, I realized that this is very hypocritical. I learned that for most of the country’s history the people have not been devout Catholics, and the church has never had much power. Also, around 75% of people identify as Catholic, but only 45% practice the religion. I believe that the only reason Costa Rica is a confessional state is for a certain group of people to have power, and this power comes from not having a separation between church and state. Although Roman Catholicism is the official religion, all other religions are welcome in the country, and religion or the church don’t seem to be a part of the everyday life of the Ticos. Since the country having an official religion doesn’t effect the citizens, the idea for a confessional state must come from someone in power. The joining of these two institutions is a way to gain control, but I don’t know enough about Costa Rica to understand the reasoning. Overall, I believe proclaiming that Costa Rica is a confessional state tells you nothing about the people or their actions.

Why do the Costa Ricans identify as white?

Honestly, what sparked my curiosity most throughout the lecture was when Sr. Lizano stated that Costa Ricans see themselves or identify as white. This sparked questions for me not just about the Ticos but about our world and history as a whole. What is the obsession with having light skin? Why is white the standard? In many countries, darker skinned citizens used to be lower class, and in some countries they were looked down upon. I find this notion scary that there is this power which comes with being white even in Costa Rica. Sr. Lizano mentioned that skin color is some of the reason the Ticos are prejudiced against the Nicaraguans. The only explanation I can think of is that their lighter skin was a way of differentiating themselves from foreigners who came to their country to work on the railroad or for other reasons. This also makes me question what we really mean by white? It’s not a skin color or an ethnicity. White is a color, but somehow society’s around the world have identified it as upper-class or “civilized people” in some sense. This topic fascinates me, and I would love to understand more what “white” means to Ticos and to the world as a whole.

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