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Costa Rica democracy, why it doesn’t mean much for black people here

Map of Costa Rica showing Limon in yellow

Two weeks ago, Costa Rica elected their first female Head of State which saw the ruling party, the center-right National Liberation Party grab another win. Then President-elect Laura Chinchilla pointed many goals for the next four years as improving public education, bettering health care coverage and continuing the country’s push for environmental sustainability.

The day before this election I had been part of an election observation mission from school which saw me and other students meet Chinchilla and the runner up Otto Guevara.

I asked both campaigns what plan they had for marginalised communities in Costa Rica especially black people in this country. Both of them rushed through their answers and literally avoided mentioning that this is a serious problem in a country that has been stable with no army for a little over 60 years.

The struggle of black people here is not necessarily different from that in other central and South American countries but I simply asked because this country is often held high, almost singled out as an island of democracy and development in Latin America.

When you first arrive in Costa Rica, you’re told of the beauty of the country and no doubt the place is very well gifted by nature. Then you’re told this a peaceful country but you should watch your back when you visit one place called Limon.

Limon is a province in the east of the country on the Caribbean Sea where most black people live. It is also home to the main port for Costa Rica’s imports and exports. The people mostly speak English and many are bi-lingual. So if you’re black and English speaking you’re told that the Caribbean is a must visit but most tourism which the country is well known for has been directed to the pacific.

The infrastructure development is almost non-existent in most tourist spots like Tortuguero (basically the land of turtles).  Many schools in this province (am told by a friend who works with an NGO there) are in an appalling state. The dropout rate for school kids is much higher as many have to help their parents support families.

Getting out of San Jose to Limon basically takes you to a different world.  There are visibly few black Costa Rican professionals in the major sectors and industries that the country has seen grow in recent years.

When I asked Chinchilla’s campaign team about this regional and racial inequality one man told me that he too is from poor place and that poverty is not just a problem for only Limon. This kind of attitude showed me that they are not willing to admit to historical misfortunes of their country.

Otto on the other hand told me that the problems of black people are founded in the lack of land rights but does a government need people to have land rights in order to construct proper schools, health facilities and good roads?  But this is the same man who was talking of punishing criminals like there’s just one way to curb crime and I asked him aren’t this criminals created, to greater extent, by the country’s system but he said he also had plans for poverty eradication.

They all avoided the link between the isolation and marginalisation of a people and crime. All they sought was to assure the country’s majority that their safety will be guaranteed with more money to the police and more sophisticated operations against gangs and criminals. There were many Costa Ricans at the conference that came up to me and told me what a good question I had asked. They further confirmed to me that they don’t see any plan that their government has for this historical imbalance.

“They actually have a plan for Limon,” on gentleman said, “their vision is to use Limon for only specifically exporting their bananas and pineapples and nothing else.”

The ignoring of the racial issues, I noticed in most political adverts for the election. I didn’t come

night time in Puerto Limon just before the carnival last year.

across any that featured a black or Indian person.  This tells that segregation need not be written in laws. In such political events, we learn who is important and who is not.

As I put these questions to the campaigns, there was hardly any black Costa Rican in the room and I thought that’s why it was easy for them to ignore these issues because none of them is there to ask.

On the election night when the Tribunal was announcing the results, the numbers of absent voters in the region of Limón was the highest and it wasn’t a surprise. Why would one go to vote people that won’t change a thing in their life? This reminded me of elections in Uganda where most people don’t have hope in the elections only that in Uganda it’s also a mix of issues like vote rigging and voter disenfranchisement.

So while Costa Rica made headlines about voting a woman to the highest office, this is not meaningful to many lives here. For many in Limon and other areas with unequal access to resources it will be four more years of inequality and being forgotten.

Limon has a high crime incidence than any other part of the country and sometimes the UN has highlighted it as no-go zone for its staff for some periods. What the country is missing by neglecting certain people must be a lot.

This country is a  poor one. This is a country the giant international software company Intel plant exported more than $2 billion in microprocessors and chipsets in 2009.

Of the 4.6 million people, black people account for 3 percent and most of them live in Limon province.  For years the country had racist immigration and residence laws that restricted black people to the Caribbean coast until 1949, when the new Constitution came but they remained isolated from national culture.

Afro-Caribbean settled on the Caribbean coast as early as 1825 but most blacks today trace their ancestry back to the 10,000 or so Jamaicans hired by Minor Keith to build the Atlantic Railroad, and to later waves of immigrants who came to work the banana plantations in the late 19th century. They are now about 3 percent of the country’s population. Follow Epsy Campbell Barr a politician and economist to get a little idea about the issue.

I must say that it’s not common to experience open racism here save for a few instances.  Like one time in San Jose when a woman at a restaurant yelled at her colleague for changing the music to reggae when my friend arrived for a meal. Even with her limited Spanish, my friend could grasp the irritation and the ranting of this one woman saying, “If you want black people music and reggae, just go to Limón. Not in my restaurant.” Of course my friend walked out gently and looked for some other place to buy her lunch.

While such incidents aren’t common, to the best of my knowledge, the inequality and systematic ignoring of the issues of race by subsequent governments has had a toll on development of black people in Costa Rica.  Whether it is the exclusion of their history in the education system or the lack of investment in people who made this country’s economy to flourish as they constructed the railway and planted bananas and pineapples, I found this worth writing about.

Two weeks ago, Costa Rica elected their first female Head of State which say the ruling party, the center-right National Liberation Party grab another win. Then President-elect Laura Chinchilla pointed many goals for the next four years as improving public education, bettering health care coverage and continuing the country’s push for environmental sustainability.

The day before this election I had been part of an election observation mission from school which saw me and other students meet Chinchilla and the runner up Otto Guevara.

I asked both campaigns what plan they had for marginalised communities in Costa Rica especially black people in this country. Both of them rushed through their answers and literally avoided mentioning that this is a serious problem in a country that has been stable with no army for a little over 60 years.

The struggle of black people here is not necessarily different from that in other central and South American countries but I simply asked because this country is often help high in democracy and development.

When you first arrive in Costa Rica, you’re told of the beauty of the country and no doubt the place is very well gifted by nature. Then you’re told this a peaceful country but you should watch your back when you visit one place called Limon.

Limon is a province in the east of the country on the Caribbean Sea where most black people live. It is also home to the main port for Costa Rica’s imports and exports. The people mostly speak English and many are bi-lingual. So if you’re black and English speaking you’re told that the Caribbean is a must visit but most tourism which the country is well known for has been directed to the pacific.

The infrastructure development is almost non-existent in most tourist spots like Tortuguero (basically the land of turtles).  Many schools in this province (am told by a friend who works with an NGO there) are in an appalling state. The dropout rate for school kids is much higher as many have to help their parents support families.

Getting out of San Jose to Limon basically takes you to a different world.  There are visibly few black Costa Rican professionals in the major sectors and industries that the country has seen grow in recent years.

When I asked Chinchilla’s campaign team about this regional and racial inequality one man told me that he too is from poor place and that poverty is not just a problem for only Limon. This kind of attitude showed me that they are not willing to admit to historical misfortunes of their country.

Otto on the other hand told me that the problems of black people are founded in the lack of land rights but does a government need people to have land rights in order to construct proper schools, health facilities and good roads?  But this is the same man who was talking of punishing criminals like there’s just one way to curb crime and I asked him aren’t this criminals created, to greater extent, by the country’s system but he said he also had plans for poverty eradication.

They all avoided the link between the isolation and marginalisation of a people and crime. All they sought was to assure the country’s majority that their safety will be guaranteed with more money to the police and more sophisticated operations against gangs and criminals. There were many Costa Ricans at the conference that came up to me and told me what a good question I had asked. They further confirmed to me that they don’t see any plan that their government has for this historical imbalance.

“They actually have a plan for Limon,” on gentleman said, “their vision is to use Limon for only specifically exporting their bananas and pineapples and nothing else.”

The ignoring of the racial issues, I noticed in most political adverts for the election. I didn’t come across any that featured a black or Indian person.  This tells that segregation need not be written in laws. In such political events, we learn who is important and who is not.

As I put these questions to the campaigns, there was hardly any black Costa Rican in the room and I thought that’s why it was easy for them to ignore these issues because none of them is there to ask.

On the election night when the Tribunal was announcing the results, the numbers of absent voters in the region of Limón was the highest and it wasn’t a surprise. Why would one go to vote people that won’t change a thing in their life? This reminded me of elections in Uganda where most people don’t have hope in the elections only that in Uganda it’s also a mix of issues like vote rigging and voter disenfranchisement.

So while Costa Rica made headlines about voting a woman to the highest office, this is not meaningful to many lives here. For many in Limon and other areas with unequal access to resources it will be four more years of inequality and being forgotten.

Limon has a high crime incidence than any other part of the country and sometimes the UN has highlighted it as no-go zone for its staff for some periods. What the country is missing by neglecting certain people must be a lot.

This country is a  poor one. This is a country the giant international software company Intel plant exported more than $2 billion in microprocessors and chipsets in 2009.

Of the 4.6 million people, black people account for 3 percent and most of them live in Limon province.  For years the country had racist immigration and residence laws that restricted black people to the Caribbean coast until 1949, when the new Constitution came but they remained isolated from national culture.

Afro-Caribbean settled on the Caribbean coast as early as 1825 but most blacks today trace their ancestry back to the 10,000 or so Jamaicans hired by Minor Keith to build the Atlantic Railroad, and to later waves of immigrants who came to work the banana plantations in the late 19th century. They are now about 3 percent of the country’s population. Fellow Epsy Campbell Barr a politician and economist to get a little idea about the issue.

I must say that it’s not common to experience open racism save for a few instances like San Jose when a woman at a restaurant yelled at her colleague for changing the music to reggae when my friend arrived for a meal. Even in her little Spanish my friend could grasp the irritation and the ranting of this one woman saying, “If you want black people music and reggae, just go to Limón. Not in my restaurant.” Of course my friend walked out gently and looked for some other place to buy her lunch.

While such incidents aren’t common, to the best of my knowledge, the inequality and systematic ignoring of the issues of race by subsequent governments has had a toll on development of black people in Costa Rica.  Whether it is the exclusion of their history in the education system or the lack of investment in people who made this country’s economy to flourish as they constructed the railway and planted bananas and pineapples, I found this worth writing about.

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26 thoughts on “Costa Rica democracy, why it doesn’t mean much for black people here

  1. It is nice to see another African commenting on CR, I have been there a number of times and actua8ly stayed at the Caribbean side for 3 months in 2008 and it was an eye opener. However, the plight of the CR black community is not unique in the whole of Central and South America, they are a silent community. I would like to send you an email, so please email me. Thanks

  2. Rita says:

    It was worth writing about indeed. It is the same struggle that many blacks face allover the world. History is not taught the way it should be taught especially for blacks. And as a result, you have the marginalisation of black people. It is a sad story for black people who are almost in every corner of the world and yet some of us don’t even know that they exist because of they are never promoted in any way. The only time they promote them is when they are doing negative things especially crime. I just pray for our race, and the good thing is that black people manage to identify these issues and carry them like it is them, because we recognise what has happened to us as a race. The marginalisation of black people is on a huge scale and it will never be acknowledged everywwhere. Those who marginalise will do whatever it takes to keep doing what they do. They are the same people who will complain about Mug abe, and in the same breath do exactly what he does. Only that some people are considered more important and more worthy. it is sad, but we need to pray and recognise what is happening. Action plan? Voice it, i guess.

  3. Soohyun Kwon says:

    Very true, Rosebell. I feel the same with you everyday at home living with my Tico family. They ignore caribean peoples. ㅠ.ㅠ

  4. Hershil says:

    That the government’s policies are ignorant of the black population is inexcusable – I often think that CR is great at marketing itself – first class – but in substance, it remains the same as any other nation, army or no army. Take away the beaches, animals and tourists and you have another £$%^hole.

  5. Abdirahman says:

    That there is a big problem in this country in terms of its management is witnessed by the fact that many students in UPEACE do not have visas , notwithstanding the fact that we are here over 6 months now. Where in the world is that possible other than in Costa Rica? The place amazes me!

  6. Berna says:

    Strange BUT true !!! I agree with you entirely – there is always more than meets the eye in particular when it comes to women & politics + race dicrimination. Your articles raises quite a number of pertinent issues !!! The plight of black people in Limon is not unique leave alone Costa being a developing a country. In the developed world ,places where black people live are often reffered to as “no go areas” mainly because they are rated XXXX in terms of crime , violence etc ….. BUT quite often the discussion just stops there … nobody is asking why or even thinking abt helping this people/ strategy !!Politicians are preoccupied with the interests of the majority of population BUT then how abt the so called ” Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which sets the basic principles – Human beings are equal / should be treated the same, of which almost all the 189 countries are signatories ?

    Then the gender dimension ….
    Personally it is no longer news that a woman has been elected to a top position in leadership !! What is news for me – is what that woman is able achieve / what she has achieved in the past !!! I have come to believe some politicians are “using women” to advance their popularity AND not necessary that these women will /can make a difference. Despite the increasing number of women in leadership /politics , very few are leaving the mark … the likes of ANGELA MERKEL , CHRISTINE LAGARDE , ELLEN JOHNSON , LUISA DIOGO …..

    Cheers !

  7. Bobby says:

    Rosy, quite a piece, indeed an expose… I like! @Rita, sound observation and I like the voicing…but not to despair…We shall overcome…The truth can never be hidden…To imagine that some “scholars” actually did a study that found that blacks have no souls, so they could be slaves…To imagine that despite the lofty ideas in the American Independence Declaration, blacks remained subjugated until the civil rights movements and even until now some would argue…We can go on and on but the point is made that there was a systematic and deliberate attempt to put black down…It is in everything, u only need to pause look and observe for it to jump at u… but it has never quite succeeded despite the brutality and bestiality of the centuries…There is yet hope…We shall overcome. To paraphrase the conclusion of MLK famous speech “I have a dream”, a day cometh that we (including those behind the marginalisation becos they r equally victims of their own plots…) shall truly be free…

  8. Rita says:

    @ Bobby, i think aswell we need to act like non victims and just get in htere and strive but knowing there are those who are working hard to prevent our success. There are some who have taken the victim status abit too far and used it to work against them instead of striving harder. I know we have a long way to go, but i have noticed that it is important to get on like we are not victims. Some people do not agree that actually this marginalisation exists especially to black males, but black males need to not be angry and fall for whatever is against them. sometimes i look at black American blacks and see a broken community. They have turned against eachother and kill eachother in senseless crimes, forgetting that many actually don’t give a dman if they kill eachother. If black americans do not get themselves together and get themselves in influential positions especially education wise, other than music and sports, the rest of the black communities suffer. They need to persevere and make proper choices and know that education is key, which most seem not to agree with. We need to get our priorities straight, you cannot fight an enemy when they have an advantage over you. There are a high number of them who are illiterate and sometimes i think there is no need for it, seeing thta they have a free education at an early age. Sometimes i do despair when i see these things especially when it is self destructing behaviour.

    I was reading something about Oprah, when black americans or americans i think cricised her for opening an academy in south africa instead of america. She said that she has never seen anyone with so much enthusiasm and love for education than the children in africa. The implication towards many american attitude was serious. But anyway, i hope other blacks are using every single opportunity they get and can get.

    What amuses me sometimes is that Africans actually believe that people in developed countries are better. I agree there are more opportunities in developed countries, but the attitude towards life is abit different and developing countries have a much better attitude. Maybe that is what people need to realise and start sieving what they consume from first world countries. The glamourisation of gangs and naked dancing women, drugs, clothes etc.. sometimes is just empty. I hope people in developing countries realise this and in hteir pursuit of opprtunities, they still manage to keep their values of life.

  9. Lilian Apio says:

    Thank you Rosebell for such a great article regarding the black population in Costa Rica, Having lived in costa Rica for close to one year as a foriegn black student, i too realised racism and discrimination towards black people in Costa Rica though many white hispanics tried not to show it openly, but it does not hide the fact that they had not embraced fully the black hispanics/latinos in their midst as one people with equal rights like any other latino.

    I was once walking across the streets of San Jose with a black hispanic girl from limon and we were faced with rude insults from two white hispanic men, who openly spoke to us loudly in spanish saying, “black people, this is not your country, do go back to where you came from”. The black hispanic girl i was walking with stood her ground and told off the two gentlemen in Spanish and i felt deep pity for my black brenthen in Costa Rica who have to face such insults from their fellow countrymen and with no space or forum to seek for justice.

    Many black hispanics seek to discover their roots and others desire to return to their ancestral homes, but they do not know where to start searching for truth about their origins or their ancesters.

    However given all the challenges they face, the government of Costa Rica needs to recognise the minority groups in their midst which includes the black people and red indians among others. These people are entitled to equal rights and access to social services inorder to register equal nationwide development in Costa Rica.

    I do hope that the current government led by a great Lady will realise the cry of black people who also happen to be Costa Rican citizens just like any other white hispanics/latino people.
    As a globe, we must realise that colour, race, ethnicity, tribe etc shouldnt separate us from one another but bind us as ONE PEOPLE.
    Thank you
    Lilian Apio in Uganda

  10. Thanks Lillian for sharing your experience. The latent racism is much more and more complex to tackle but I don’t think the government has any big plan. remember it is the same party so the whole idea of a lady president and magic making is not a chance here.

  11. Rita says:

    Rosebell, you are right. The only way racism will ever end is when people’s hearts and attitudes change. It does not matter how many laws they put in place to enforce equality, as long as one has hatred and belief that they are superior, believe it, racism will prevail. You might be employed because there is an equal opportunity employment law in place which forces employers to employ ethnic minorities, but if it was not for these laws, imagine where many would be. Institutionalised racism is the worst, because people’s livelihoods depend on work. They are happy to eploy you as long as you are going for cheaper rates and they manage to mintain high profits, not because they would have employed you for your ability. You just have to look at these movies, modelling, music industries, and noice what race and shade of skin colour is more likely to be promoted. Which race wins most awards and how races are portrayed i the media. It is strange but real and cruel. But some people are just hateful and spiteful naturally and will not do a thing just by looking at one’s colour. Nothing more to it. We have to push forward regardless of the difficulties and make something of ourselves, self destructing is not helping us at the moment, because there is a whole generation of black children self destructing in gangs and crime, in the uk and america. It is these things that also throw bad shade on the race especially in the media, such that even those who want to help will not help. We are victims, but we must utilise every opportunity to our advantage. That is the only way forward. I feel for those in Costa rica because it just feels like there are very few opportunities provided to elevate them.

  12. Pete Peterson says:

    Good luck with your studies and I hope you enjoy your stay in Costa Rica. A couple of anecdotes and comments from a white guy who lived in San Jose for three years and for most of that time dated a black girl from Brazil.

    The pecking order in CR is a bit more complicated than simple discrimination of the Limonese. In my daily dealings with Ticos, including and especially with bureaucracy, when they first saw my girlfriend their facial expression was universally one of sucking on a lemon. And then she started to speak with her Carioca accent and everyone was all smiles. Some even danced and sang. Ticos love Brazilians for some reason, no matter what color.

    You’ll also note the open discrimination against Nicaraguans, or Nicas. This is probably the most curious as the national hero, Juan Santamaria, fought the hated American William Walker ultimately in Rivas, Nicaragua. But it goes further. Next time you’re downtown note the people wearing the ubiquitous office attire of white shirt, blue blazer and tie. These are the connected and have the best government jobs. Compare their features to the rest of the crowd around you.

    To get even more petty, within the bureaucracies another pecking order exists depending on connections to the current ruling party and ultimately, it is family ties that determine status.

    I love Costa Rica. It’s a wild and crazy place where you can get things done if you know the right people and procedures (con la mano izquierda). Just don’t believe the hype about the ‘Switzerland’ of the Americas. For one thing, Switzerland has a citizen militia and virtually every home has a gun, while Costa Rica is under the American military umbrella and virtually every home has bars on the windows.

    And finally, and likely the real reason I ultimately decided to comment here, my official and unsolicited advice. Two Items:

    I respect and admire your decision to attend the University of Peace. I would also suggest that you study war to round out your education. It should be obvious that you can’t understand one without the other, but some people find it counter-intuitive. Clausewitz is as good a start as any.

    As U Peace is a UN mandate and the UN is ultimately a political institution, a little criticism from the inside may be healthy. Google “andrew thompson rwanda wiki,” without the quotes. His book is also a must read.

    Pura vida y buena suerte!

    • Thanks so much for your feedback. I found it interesting and most of the things you highlighted are real. I would like to say first of all that you shouldn’t be lost in a name of the school. there’s no way anyone can study peace and without conflict to be specific my progam is media peace and conflict studies so it’s not just about merrymaking.
      Studyin here doesn’t make me not see what the UN is and you have it correct. In fact i have way may reservations about that i might be able to blog about.
      Finally, I should tell you a paramedic in Costa Rica saw me scratching myself from mosquito bites and said to me that there’s no way a mosquito can bite a black skin becuase it is so black. And this was at one of the high institutions of Costa Rica.
      When a friend told him off he said he knew this for sure becuase he had a student from Limon who was “was black that he was almost blue” we realised there was no point of even talking to him.

      A big number of Costa Ricans sees itself as white and all nicaraguans and blacks are inferior beings.

  13. starris says:

    I enjoyed this post very much thanks for the insights of the people of CR I plan to visit in 2013 with much anticipation because it is advertised as a happy place but this blog gives me a different prospective I am a black American and very proud of my black skin it is sooo beautiful and my ancestors survived the ships that took them to a place in America and striped them of our inheritance and language and we survived we’ve come a long way and still have a long way to go …..what I wish for the CR blacks is to keep their integrity in tact be proud of themselves and fight for change with education and knowledge and I will continue to pray for change for us all!

    Regards; Star

    • rosebell says:

      Yes Costa Rica is beautiful but thats what happens to beautiful places few people dare to look at the ugly side such place! Enjoy, it is a great country in very many ways!

  14. Greetings from Ohio Rosebell! I was deeply saddened by the facts or , we basically racism and ignorance portrayed by the so called people in power and privilege there. Here I was fantasizing about living in Costa Rica to escape the white supremacy/ racism I and my family endure here in the U.S.! It seems we are not able to reap the benefits every human being is born to reap here on this earth. Every black person from the diaspora of slavery should repatriate back there and reclaim our original continent! It is even more beautiful there! I am so tired of having no place to live as a proud African human being, I am disgusted with Cost Rica now!

    • rosebell says:

      Good to hear from you, Although i wrote about the situation Costa Rica, am sure there some improvements in many aspects. This was to inform and not to entirely shun the place. It’s only by visiting these places-when we can afford- that we can learn and hopefully add our voices to make this world a better place. In other aspects Costa Rica is great country!

  15. HEY rose bell I stumbled across your blog while doing a little research for one of my blog posts about Limon.. I am an African American male fluent in spanish and portuguese…I lived in Panama City Panama for a year in 2011 after this article was written. Before then I had no idea about black ppl in latin America. I was your typical ignorant American lol. Now I have knowledge and well I am with a girl from Limon that I met on Facebook…we have a long distance relationship, she is a black girl with locs and has never left Costa Rica, well only to go to Panama and Nicaragua. She tells me stories of her life growing up, of falling through the rotting wooden floored living room and injuring herself as a child, as her house in Cieneguita was always on a lean. She lives in San Jose now working at a call center and being exploited. I love Puerto Viejo and Puerto Limon, I go there for weeks at a time during the year it has become my second home, even more so than Panama. ITS DEF WAY SAFER THAN SAN JOSE- All that avoid Limon stuff is purely racially charged….sorry for the long rant just had to give my 2 cents….please keep posting I noticed you havent posted since december and even though i am a new follower, I am craving more BLESS sis

  16. Mike Lund says:

    I’m a 31-year-old disabled combat veteran from the United States who just moved to Costa Rica about 5 weeks ago, and I have had more people spit at me, yell at me, and call me awful names than I would have believed possible.
    Yes, I am white. Yes, I shave my head–because it is comfortable, and I’m balding anyway. But I see many hispanic people with shaved heads here, and I’ve never seen anyone treat them the same way I’ve been treated.
    Before I moved to San Pedro, I was encouraged by all the stories online about how tolerant and nice everyone here is–and many people ARE very nice–but to say that racism against white people is not a problem here is just an outright lie.
    I always treat people with kindness and respect–that is how I was raised, and it’s how I’ve always been towards everyone I meet. But the (several) people who have spit at me and yelled obscenities at me never had any reason to–I wasn’t in a conversation with any of them, nor had I even LOOKED at them before this took place.
    Costa Rica DOES have a racism problem, and one more flagrant, open, and completely unapologetic than ANYTHING I’ve EVER seen in the United States, and to pretend it doesn’t exist is like pretending like racism doesn’t exist in the U.S., either.
    Since members of all races deserve to be judged “based not on the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” and since I, personally, have never done anything racist to anyone, I think that this is obviously a problem.
    I think this is especially true since if the word got out in the U.S. that white people might face racism here, the tourists would stop coming, and anyone with any knowledge of Costa Rica’s economy should know that such an occurrence would be disastrous for this country, including the good, tolerant citizens who aren’t racist.
    So any Ticos or Ticas reading this should probably ask themselves, “What would happen if all the tourists left tomorrow? How many people would lose their jobs, including taxistas, hotel staff, etc. etc. etc.? How would that affect theft in the country?”
    I guess I don’t expect anyone to take me seriously–why would they?–but now I feel like I’ve done my part by warning people of the consequences of racism in Costa Rica, so no tengo ninguna obligacion

  17. Mike S says:

    This sounds like one huge pity party.

    Why are the blacks allowing themselves to be marginalized?
    Why are they living in poverty?
    Why don’t they work to become self-sufficient?
    Why is it that all we hear about is the history of this country or that country is affecting black people?

    Take another look. Look at black people in any country that have built and sustained wealth and power and influence. You’ll find two very important things. 1. They are responsible for themselves. 2. They are accountable for their actions.

    When we stop looking at excuses to fail and embrace the strategic aspect of planning and creating and designing things, we’ll be great. Hispanics in Texas took the fast food jobs that blacks were too entitled to take. Now they can hire and empower other hispanics.

    Asians buy entire strip malls and load them with restaurants, travel agencies, grocery and other service driven businesses.

    It’s past time for blacks to own their actions and stop pointing the finger at things that happened dozens or hundreds of years ago.

  18. Thank you for your Blog and your courage, I was looking for a different vacation place this year the church I attend goes to Limon and do outreach work there. Bit reading your blog I have no interest in going to another Racist Latin American country that treat human beings sub human, what’s wrong with the world and conquered Hispanics do they not know there on history? We African Americans experience the same treatment coming from lost there souls Mexicans fleeing there country to bring there entitlement mentalities to Oakland Ca and throughout where ever they go. No wonder America lets them come!! Only in the whole World this is what to expect if you have African Bloodline, but you know if you have any sense you would know there’s like Bob Marley and Science say “One Blood” Jah Bless Black People!!!

  19. Max says:

    Hi Bishop,
    I spend lots of time in Puerto Viejo, my son and wife are moving there in a few months, he is Black and she’s Asian, we own property there. Please respond if like to exchange commentary and experiences.
    Peace
    Max

  20. Cecilia says:

    Hey! Light skinned (not white, but I’m not black either) Costa Rican here. This article is really old, but I still liked that you didn’t go the whole, “Costa Rica is beautiul, exotic, and wild, blah blah blah, pura vida” thing that people post when they visit the country. As a person who has all their family in the country, has visited it more times than I can count, and who grew up in American I’d have to say it’s unfortunate that racism exists everywhere.
    Two things I would like to point out, is that more Africans live outside of Limon, than in Limon. It’s just the highest concentration is in Limon so the black population is more notable. Poverty and the high crime rate is not exclusive nor the most prevalent in Limon, although I’m not sure if that was what you were trying to imply, or if I just imagined that.
    In terms of CR promoting the Pacific more than the Atlantic, I may be telling you what you already know, but the Atlantic Coast has the worst beaches in the area. So restricting blacks from leaving that area was not just because of the plantation, but also, “here you can have this ugly part that no one else wants.”
    Although CR is definitely no utopia, it has improved a lot in terms of how the minority population is treated. From what my parents have told me about the past (Ticos use to have the idea that they were pure white Hispanics, but this ideology mostly died off with my grandparent’s generation), Ticos have come along way, but there is still more to go. Many people believe that the black community is so small that their presence in negligible in the grand scheme of national politics. In my last visit last summer, there were university students protesting and pushing awareness for LGBT and minority rights, among other things. Usually the younger generation, is more open minded than the older. And generally, the people of the Pacific Coast are much more welcoming of other groups than the Atlantic Coast (possibly because of the amount of Asian expats and drug traffickers from the rest of Latin America).
    It upsets me greatly that you encountered the racist comments, and I hope if you do return you’ll be able to meet more Ticos who don’t discriminate.
    For any of the other commenters who might read this, Tico-Nicas relations are much more complex because many Ticos and Nicas marry each other (most Ticos I know, myself included, have recent ancestry from somewhere in Nicaragua), but the two countries are hardly on good terms with each other.
    Also Laura Chinchilla not the greatest leader. Many Ticos saw her as a corrupt and extremely rude. She and her presidential staff was infamous for brushing people off, like what they did to you.
    Sorry for the long comment, and again I am appalled and sorry for the negative encounters you had.

    • Rosebell Kagumire says:

      Hi Cecilia, I spent a year and some months in CR and these are my own feelings and observations. of course different people can have different experiences in the same country.So this post was written at the time i was in CR and based on conversations with Tico friends but it is still a beautiful world

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