A country that champions peace will welcome U.S. president

As Shakespeare said so well, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

It is a shame that with power comes fear.  Often it is fear on the part of the populace because the power is in the hands of a dictator. It also comes from the power center.  And the more powerful that center, the more fear, evidently.

According to reports, the U.S. government has sent its Secret Service to Costa Rica to check out the various possible threats to President Obama when he visits in May.  There are all of these “leftist” groups and people who are from the Peace University, or were anti-free trade and people who are sympathetic to the Palestinian plight.  Among them probably, are also environmentalists and animal lovers.

Frankly I find it a little difficult to imagine someone from the University for Peace to be of lethal danger to the U.S. president or to use violence of any sort to express their disagreement.

Nor is there much of a history of modern Costa Ricans solving their political problems by doing harm to their leaders.

I was here when President Clinton visited Costa Rica.  He was very popular, as was President Kennedy.  There were no incidents or threats.  As far as I know, no recent Republican president has visited this little country.

However, since President Clinton’s visit times have changed. President Obama inherited four wars, one against terrorism, one in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan, all declared by President Bush, and the “war on drugs,” declared by President Nixon, The war on drugs has permeated this country.

And there has been a new group of expats coming to Costa Rica. Many may be former military who are in possession of guns, but as we have been told many times, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And some of these very people with guns, who probably could be called “rightists” to balance the teeter totter of political equilibrium, are also what are called “preppers” or survivalists, who have built bunkers and collected provisions and artillery in the peaceful hills and mountains of Costa Rica, preparing themselves for Armageddon, of which, I am told, there are several versions.

Some also hate President Obama.  That is why they may be more of a threat to him than the leftists who just want him to be better.  Some of the extreme rightists in the latter group just don’t want him to be.

I, for one, hope President Obama’s visit will be without incident, and that he will indeed, be able to do better at what he has been trying to do, and certainly, remains hale and healthy enough to do it.

I cannot help but recall the day in 1998 when I sat in the Plaza de la Democracía under a canopy with others in the audience listening to the then president of Costa Rica, along with some former presidents, celebrate Costa Rica’s 50 years of peace and being without a military.  I saw no somber looking men in sunglasses nearby.  Then, instead of a military display or fighter planes overhead, the president and a group of school children, also on the podium, opened boxes and released hundreds of butterflies.

The presidents of Costa Rica have not been “deciders” (to borrow a word from President George Bush), on the world stage, except perhaps in the call for peace (thank you, President Oscar Arias, et al), so the only influence they have is as representatives of a country that has championed peace, and non-violence against others and the environment.

As for being the paragon of corruption-free politics, I can think of no country that can raise high its banner.  Unfortunately, that’s the way it is.

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