Costa Rica is portrayed in the states as a green country filled with trees and the happiest people in the world. Not only is there an abundance of trees, but there are beaches on every corner and more all-inclusive resorts than houses. While being here has been nothing short of a breath-taking experience, I have yet to see a beach or resort. In town, I have only seen a small number of trees, aside from those in central park. Today, we learned that Costa Rica is more than home to the happiest people. It is a country rich in culture (and coffee) with an interesting history.
Why would the people of Costa Rica honor a president that majority of the nation did not support? Today we learned that although most Ticos did not agree with 1986 president Óscar Arias’s policies, they can agree that he was the one that made their small country known worldwide. Arias was president in 1989, the 100 year anniversary of a stable democratic government. In 1889, the first peaceful transfer of power of two presidents from opposing parties took place. To celebrate the centennial, Arias invited all of the presidents of every country in the Americas to Costa Rica, finally putting a face on the well-known country. The Ticos have a right to like and dislike different aspects of each president and I believe they are correct in still honoring and appreciating him although he may not have been the most popular.
Costa Rica elected their first women president, Laura Chinchilla, in 2010. After a controversial recent election in America, I can’t help but wonder what it is like to have a woman rule the country. Why should she approach things differently than a man would? Costa Rica thought a woman president would do more to help women’s rights and activists in the country. However, Chinchilla was very conservative, and when questioned on these concerns she simply responded that it was ‘not in her agenda.’ Overall, Chinchilla should not have been held to a different standard than her male counterparts and I think the Ticos were wrong to expect her to act differently, especially when she made her goals for her presidency clear from the start.
Costa Rican coffee is known worldwide. Why did the Costa Rican Coffee industry start? Why did it effect the Ticos so greatly? Today we learned President Juan Mora believed coffee could help Costa Rica’s economy greatly. He told the Ticos that if they went up to the mountains and claimed land to start a farm, they had the state’s backing. Thus, the middle class was born. The greatest effect this had on the Ticos was on voting for the future presidents. The requirements to vote were to be a land-owning male. Middle class emergence exponentially increased those eligible to vote. Finally, more Ticos had a voice. Although agriculture, coffee included, dropped to the second most important economic resource presently, I don’t think Costa Rica would be the nation it is today without their beloved coffee.