The ongoing debacle that is Costa Rica’s harassment of Paul Watson is yet another embarrassment for our country’s long befuddled and corrupted system of justice, and may substantially damage the tourism industry.
Multiple sources, including A.M. Costa Rica, have reported that a video exists of the encounter between the Sea Shepherd vessel and the Costa Rican fishing boat which proves the claims made by the Tico fishing crew about damage and injuries resulting from the collision are false. Add to that the fact that the incident in question occurred outside Costa Rican jurisdiction, and there is clearly no legal justification for this warrant on the part of the Costa Rica government. In fact, one wonders if the government will charge the fishing crew with making a false report. (Color me skeptical)
I believe that this whole disingenuous extravaganza is nothing more than a humiliating, behind-the-scenes kowtow on the part of Tico politicians and bureaucrats to the Communist Chinese who are Costa Rica’s newest/best-est buddies, are the world’s largest consumers of shark fin soup, and who don’t want to see the illegal finning trade shut down here.
Chinese citizens suffer tremendously because of the massive, systemically inbred corruption that is rampant in China, and Costa Rica certainly has its own serious problems with corruption. We don’t need to be importing more. This is yet another reason why Costa Ricans should be very wary of allowing the growth of Chinese influence here. But hey! They built a soccer stadium, right?
Mr. Watson is no saint. He has a long history of being extremely annoying on and off the water, and of committing illegal acts at sea that often put human lives at risk in his long campaign to stop the oceanic barbarism of shark finning and whaling. But in this case, the evidence just doesn’t exist to back up Costa Rica’s warrant. The warrant should be quashed.
But more importantly, unscrupulous Costa Ricans should get their heads out of their bank accounts and realize that the money they make in bribes to allow this repugnant trade to continue isn’t worth the international condemnation that will continue to debase Costa Rica’s national reputation for as long as shark finning continues.
One of Costa Rica’s great draws for tourism is its reputation as an ecologically aware and responsible nation. Actions like this frivolous warrant against Mr. Watson and the inability/unwillingness of the Costa Rican government to once and for all eliminate shark finning, fly in the face of that reputation and could potentially cost the country millions of dollars in lost ecotourism.