“Victory for Costa Rica”

The Washington Post Article by the same title represents what we can safely consider to be the general United States perspective on the matter. The approval of the “Tratado de Libre Comercio” by 51.5% of the Costa Rican voting public represents the culmination of several years of debate over the issue and it’s many ramifications.  In one sense, this is in fact a victory for Costa Rica to the degree that it will probably encourage better economic growth as generally accompanies open trade and stimulated industry. Just so, however, with the capitalistic focus of commercialism, comes a blow to the small community, the traditional Costa Rican family, and the unique qualities that make up the rich culture.

As things stand prior to the TLC, Costa Rican quality of life is fairly good. Education, government, environmental consideration, social life, and family life are all fairly high above our general stereotypes of what it means to live in a Latin American country.  As reasonable as some of these changes are as the logical progression of a small country in the modern globally connected world, it’s somewhat sad to think about the effects it will have on the country as a whole. This sort of thing is happening all over, as the pursuit of money and physical wealth dominates political and social thought.

Of course the article reads “Victory for Costa Rica.” The culture of our country is so completely dominated by commercialism that we cannot logical consider it in any other way. The World Bank recommends this course of action. Of course it must be right. But the thing we’re missing here is a consideration of the effects on the culture of every society it touches.

I spent a month in Costa Rica last year and I was struck most by was the strange ability of the Ticos to be simply content and happy with their lot in life. There isn’t the same drive to succeed and accomplish and accumulate wealth that dictates every aspect of American life. Connections to family and friends far outweigh career accomplishments. Happiness and success are related but not the same.

This victory for Costa Rican commerce and economy takes a step in the direction of sacrificing that Costa Rican ease of living. There is so much more to life than succeeding. It saddens me when the American way of life finds ways to corrupt the peace of such thoroughly advanced and sophisticated communities.

Check out articles and editorials in the national newspaper, LA NACIÓN for more perspectives on the issue. 51.1% is not unanimous.

One thought on ““Victory for Costa Rica”

  1. Very thoughtful insights, valuing the interpersonal connections of family and friends above monetary accumulation. We should also reconsider our own priorities in life.

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