Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
A message for political candidates:
If you are elected, encourage your government to repair and use the rail line from Limón to the Central Valley (and destinations between) to transport goods and get the heavy trucks off the highway, which might as a result last longer and be safer. This would also have the effect of reducing pollution and putting a modicum of truth into Costa Rica’s vaunted claim of being “green.”
Take seriously complaints about break & enter, home and hotel invasions, and even petty theft. Stop letting the tourism boards of the prime vacation areas downplay these events in order that tourists keep coming. When stolen items are found on or near the grounds of a B&E, clearly dropped during the escape, return the items to the legal owners instead of locking them away as “evidence” for a potential court case which will, of course, never occur because the thieves won’t be caught despite fingerprint and DNA evidence. When victims can give brand names, receipts showing date and place of purchase, model and serial numbers of stolen articles, send honest (I’m sure there must be one or two) police officers to pawn shops to see if the stolen goods can be recovered and the thieves traced and punished.
Before and after you are elected, quit taking bribes. It starts at the top. You and your colleagues in the legislature are the ones with the opportunity to finally run a clean government. If a hotel or other business is polluting or cheating or breaking laws in any way, or not paying their fair share of taxes, put a stop to it. Don’t be bought off. I’d like to feel confident you want to be elected to care for the people who voted for you, to do what’s right for your country, not to line your own pockets. If the last is your only, or most important reason for running in this election, back out now. I can’t read your heart or mind or conscience. Only you can do that.
Educate your country’s citizens to pick up the damn garbage! Fine people who litter. Place warning signs in buses (like the ones about standing water leading to dengue infections), on streets, in schools, in churches, in fast-food restaurants detailing what it will cost people caught tossing junk into the gutter, down the hill behind the barrio, over the sides of bridges or along the country’s highways. Make the fines hefty.
If the people dumping junk have no money to pay the fines, enact a law by which they can be put to work cleaning up after themselves and others. As I said in the first paragraph, this would also have the effect of reducing pollution (though of a different kind) and putting a modicum of truth into Costa Rica’s self-delusion of being “green.” Limón stinks. San José stinks. Heredia stinks. Puntarenas stinks. Puerto Viejo stinks. They do not stink mainly of truck and automobile exhaust fumes — hey stink of rotting food, urine and feces from humans and other animals. They stink of broken or non-existent sewer pipes, of the crap dumped into massive holes in sidewalks no one insists be repaired at the owners expense.
If Costa Rica wants to be seen worldwide as a good place to visit or live, stop fooling yourself into believing it’s true and start making it true.