Costa Rica, no longer recommended

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Jorge's picture

As I have noted before Costa Rica is not a Libertarian paradise. Despite that I felt it was pretty good place for those who want a great deal of effective freedom. I am no longer sure about this position.

There are several things that the government has been doing over the last few years that indicate a disturbing trend. Given any one, or even two of these things and I would probably say "no place is perfect" and focus more on the positive aspects, which are still very real. However, lately there have been too many negatives. Things in CR are definitively going in the wrong direction.

Lets start with the "War on (some) Drugs" and its side effects. When we first moved here in 2000 the homicide rate was five or six per 100,000. In 2006 it was eight. In 2008 it was 11. These are mostly gang related and are mostly located in the Caribbean province of Limón. Instead of doing the rational thing and moving towards less government prohibition, as Argentina and Mexico have done, the Costa Rican government has increased penalties for personal possion of drugs (as well as sale). They have taken to conducting raids on high schools with drug sniffing dogs and masked police. They have also passed a really ridiculous "know your customer" type of law which has had the banks running around like crazy hasselling all of their existing customers and makes opening a new account very painful. This law has resulted in many long time customers having their accounts frozen or even closed because they cannot produce utility bills in their names and other very stupid reasons. Additionally they have passed a property confiscation law. If the government decides that property you have came from "non-transparent" means, you must prove that you acquired it "legitimately". If you do not they can consfiscate it. Without going to the courts. This law has not been tested in the courts, and it may not hold up, but it is very troubling.

Then there is the practical xenophobia of the current administration. The last government ranted against foreigners, but really did nothing. The current one says very little but has pushed through an ugly immigration bill, which among other things has employer sanctions for hiring illegal aliens, very high fines (US$ 100/day) for overstaying, limits on the number of times one can leave and reenter as a tourist in a year, limits on getting residency based on marriage, and greatly increased dollar amounts that one must have to qualify for all categories of residency. Oh yes, and Immigration itself issued a decree that to get or renew residency one must be registered with your embassy. All in all, making CR a good deal less friendly to visitors than it used to be.

And finally, what really pushed me over the edge and prompted me to write this: Two days ago the government announced that it would no longer issue gun carry permits to foreigners and that when the current ones expire they will not renew them. In an interview the minister responsible acknowledged that every foreigner who had a permit had completed all the legal requirements, just like the Costa Ricans, and acknowledged that some would lose their job (guards) or be unable to get work because of this, and further acknowledged that it would not reduce crime. The intent is (according to the minister) to reduce the number of guns in Costa Rica. This effectively violates Costa Rica's long standing policy of equal treatment under the law for everyone. It sets a very dangerous president. Not only with firearms. Logically this could lead to foreigners being denied to right to own property, or any other arbitrary restriction that the government of the day desires.

There are a few other things as well, all of them minor (to me) but none the less, you put it all together and Costa Rica is no longer that attractive. If someone asks me today if they should move here, I would strongly advise them to investigate other options, especially if they are oriented towards Liberty. At the very least I would advise them to wait until the next administration takes power (May 2010) and see if they reverse, or at least tone down, some of these policies.

The obvious question is what are we going to do. Good question. We will wait and see what the next administration does with its first few months in office. After that, we do not know, but are discussing it.

All of the above has been reported in the local newspapers, La Nación(Spanish) is where I read most of them.


Sounds as though C.R.’s fearless leaders are trying to emulate those here in the USSA, to disturbingly good effect. I’m so sorry to hear it, Jorge; and I hope none of these new fangs hit you and yours.

Quite discouraging

Yes, what Jorge has to say it true and very discouraging. I also would suggest that expats think twice or three times about buying property here. There is a very real "authority creep" going on and like any government, this one will do whatever it wants. Like the evil empire, it's all about the war on people.

I don't have the numbers or any links to back it up but there were several hundred additional policemen hired this year. Supposedly funded and/or trained by the evil empire. Scary. There is no standing "army" but there are enough armed thugs running around with uniforms to make that a moot point.

However, many controversial laws have been challenged in the courts and found to be unconstitutional. Just because the current regime passes legislation does not mean that it will be enforceable. Take for instance the recent passage of draconian fees for simple traffic violations. That legislation was put on hold although it may appear again.

Again, I don't have too much in the way of verification of these things since my news is mostly word-of-mouth. I don't read or watch any of the coutry's MSM. From what I've seen it's right up there with the garbage that you folks in the empire endure.

I will say that Costa Rica is probably a lot easier place to be a system dropout. Living out here in the campo we are not often bothered by any of the "authorities". There are usually checkpoints on the main road for the month of January to check for compliance with the annual state car insurance and registration. Beyond that, we rarely see much in the way of police. In fact, there are complaints from meddling gringos who want more police presence to thwart the petty theft problems. Apparently taking responsibility for themselves isn't a workable solution. And who would want to have a firearm without government approval???

So, my take on the goings on is a big ho hum. Go ahead, throw me out of the country. There are other places to live. South America is a really big place. Once an outlaw always an outlaw. There is no going back...


Is there a free place left

Is there a free place left on the planet?

Only in your mind.


So isn't this the question

So isn't this the question of the times?

If the politicos have fenced off the planet and there's no place left to go where you can be left mostly alone, what is your choice?

I mean, I know that this crowd isn't about to join the tea party movement and many of us have our own reasons for avoiding organized political parties no matter what they call themselves, but what happens when "those in charge" don't recognize our choice as valid? Protest just isn't going to cut it.

I for one don't want to submit, but armed resistance strikes me as an amazingly fast way to die if just a few do it. And there aren't too many places left to run.

Gubmint. Itsa meme.

It seems to me that this is not an issue of government but an issue of people buying into the meme of 'proper authority.' I'm guessing things will only get worse until, like in the U.S.S.R., the whole system finally collapses and people are forced to face the fact that the meme is wrong. But then, rational thought is not one of human strong points. Kinda sad. No, REALLY sad. As individuals we're generally pretty wonderful, but the pack mentality gets nasty. So what we need to do is to stop being 'we.' ;-) Group think = bad stuff. Hmm. Reminds me that I wrote a really cool poem about that back in the 60s. Oh, wait... I'm not suppozed to remember them. Ah well. The sun is shining and my solar oven has made me hot water for a bath. Y'all keep smilin' and stuff.

- NonE

Sad, but no surprise

The PTB have never recognized our legitimate right to be left alone... whatever would they DO if everyone was personally responsible for themselves?

I'm not sure where all this is going... but I'm afraid it's not going to be anything peaceful. :(