With Round One of the presidential election now over, Costa Rica is at a pivotal moment in its history. At the most violent extreme, the Ukraine is undergoing the same historic choice: Do citizens want transparent institutions, secure property rights and an impartial rule of law? Or does money and influence remain the standard to measure success in government?
The surprise ascent of Luis Guillermo Solis to the lead gives promise to reform many of the anomalies the expat community experiences here in Guanacaste. Conventional wisdom suggests that those who voted against the long-time incumbent PLN Sunday February 2 will vote against the PLN on April 6. Why is this important to the expat community?
In sum, the issue is the professionalism in government to offer even-handed, dispassionate administration and enforcement of the law. As an example, let us look at the highly respected Environmental Performance Index (EPI) of 132 countries. The rankings for Central America in 2012 posted Costa Rica among the “strongest performers” (#5), Nicaragua as a “strong performer” (#35) along with the United States, (#49).
Now, two years later, Costa Rica has slipped from 5th in the world to 54th mirroring Nicaragua’s descent from 35th to 90th while the United States improved its position from 49th to 33rd. Costa Rica’s worst offenses have been in areas where objective expertise and smart investment are the most important: Water (AyA) and energy production practices (ICE). Once the envy of the world, the Costa Rican brand for environmental stewardship has been damaged and will negatively impact tourism, immigration and its trade balance.
Like Kiev, San Jose must wake up to its problems and secure the will and expertise to return to a reasonable standard. For Kiev, it’s a choice between Europe and Russia. For Costa Rica, it’s a choice between becoming more like its Central American neighbors or more like the nations of the EU and North America. With Costa Ricans choosing wisely, Nosara could reap the benefits of rule of law.