Criticizing can be a duty that helps alert other expats

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Stop Muzzling Complainers

Rob Rowntree complains about the complainers, but misses the point.

Commenting critically, or favorably, is a right, unrelated to citizenship, residence, voting rights or anything else. Even an Asian traveller to Paris for a one-night stopover has the right to complain about his hotel, restaurant service, dishonest taxi drivers, vagrants or anything else that disturbs him.

The fact is that criticizing can also be considered a duty.  It confers benefits.

First, the vast majority of complaints printed by A.M. Costa Rica are real, valid, and annoying, when they’re not outright dangerous to life.

And so it’s helpful to residents, and tourists, and potential newcomers to know that if they’ve been a victim of any complaint made by others, they’re not alone. And that if they haven’t been, they may be.

It’s informative and consoling to know that one isn’t merely a single unlucky victim of overcharging, but that price-gauging non-Ticos is a sport both residents and visitors are treated to.

It helps both the resident and tourist to know some of the potential risks for patients of some doctors, hospitals and medical practices here.

Knowing about potential risks is also helpful to anyone thinking of renting a car to tour the country, or to women living or traveling here on their own, or to anyone considering buying a home to reside in, or to late-evening walkers in certain parts of the capital.

Second, how often does improvement result anywhere, from silence? Voicing valid discontent openly and long enough, might just reach an ear, even in this unlikely republic, that may start to do a little something to improve something.

Bob does a disservice to all residents and visitors by a cowardly call to “stop whining,” his denigration of valid criticism.

We’ll overlook his irrelevant aside that speciously equates valid complaining to “coming here and creating our own little corner of America (or Canada, etc.)” And his false dichotomy, impliedly claiming that  one can’t both count his blessings and complain. They’re not inconsistent and are both to be commended.

A.M. Costa Rica performs an undeniable public service in informing us all of the experiences, negative and positive, that all of us, residents and visitors, do or may encounter in Costa Rica.

Guys like Rob are best advised, in the interests of all, to suffer the complainers in silence.

Steve Breslin
San José


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