The law here is a tool for the elite

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

That someone or persons unknown can organize a land invasion onto unoccupied property is one thing. To do so after a murder is quite another. That such a gruesome and cynical act can take place at all is testimony to the arrogance and power of those who are responsible, real campesinos or otherwise.

Your piece states that the judiciary is usually quick to recognize squatter rights.  El Pais has just published an article by Alfonso J. Palacios Echeverría about a corrupt judiciary.  History also teaches us that  “Where power and wealth is monopolized by the political elite, all capitalism becomes crony capitalism and state machinery a means for officials to make money.”

Costa Rica appears to be sinking into a state where the law means little and is used by the Haves for their own benefit.  Lately we have been subjected to an avalanche of bad news: the botched trial of Jairo Mora, the transparently disgraceful aspects of the Ann Bender affair with revelations of stolen money, shady banking, possible bribery, missing furniture and jewelry by the authorities. That she was initially stopped from leaving the country in “error” speaks volumes even vindictiveness on the part of the judiciary.

Now two major news organs which are morally charged with safeguarding the public interest are charged with massive tax fraud. This tells us how far the country has sunk into the abyss of greed and corruption. Shark finning continues unabated, white collar crime is soaring, tax evasion is the norm and hardly prosecuted.  This happens when a society falls into moral turpitude encouraged by the conduct of those on top of the social heap.

There is a mad grab to get what anyone can before it all collapses.  The government appears unwilling to do anything about this spreading cesspool of corruption and theft. Indeed their actions may even encourage an increasing impression of anything goes. To paraphrase Michela Wrong’s book on corruption, “It’s Our Turn To Eat.” it looks like everyone is rushing to the table to grab whatever they can before anyone else gets to it.

Is it time for that old saying “Last one out, turn out the lights!” Or is there anyone out there who is going to do something to save the real dignity of the country?

Sheldon Haseltine
San José

Editor’s note: Haseltine has conducted a nearly 20-year legal fight to retain possession of central Pacific property.

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