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Costa Rica Bloggers on CAFTA and other issues

The Tico Bloggers are posting on two main subjects this past week: the two day long Anti-CAFTA protests and the bill the government is writing which would ban weapon production in Costa Rican territory. Other topics are political corruption up high and the power of a musical request.

Let's begin with the bill. The proposed bill would prohibit the fabrication of weapons in free trade zones and is geared mostly for handguns and gunpowder based weapons. A loving thought that goes hand in hand with Costa Rica's image as a peace loving company. However, the interesting aspect of the bill is what it doesn't mention: it says nothing about making components for Raytheon Company, “an industry leader in defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business aviation and special mission aircraft.” (taken from their About Us page).

Why a peaceful country in Central America which abolished the army more than 50 years ago and has a Nobel Peace Price winner as a president would allow a company that builds missile systems and war planes is a mystery.

In her blog, Julia Ardón copies the official inscription record as it appeared on the national paper “La Gaceta” on October 19th 2006

She also brings out a good point that would make all the debate around this bill useless:

Además, sería muy bueno que también nos expliquen cómo harán para que esa nueva ley no sea superada por el TLC, cuando dice la Constitución que ninguna ley puede estar por encima de un tratado internacional.

Besides, it would be very good if they would also explain how they will manage for this new bill not to be cancelled by the CAFTA, when the constitution states that no national law can stand over an international treaty.

In the comments for this post, a poster provides documentation produced by the opposition on mailing lists. The Partido de Acción Ciudadana revealed that the representative for Raytheon Company donated more than 12 million colones to Oscar Arias’ political campaign and is also president for the AMCHAM (American Chamber of Commerce).

The fact that the CAFTA will overrule any laws against the fabrication and productions of weapons is of great concern, as it is feared that Costa Rica will have to yield to commercial pressure as was the case with Canada Vs. Ethyl Corporation, MetalCad in Mexico and Harken in Costa Rica and thus we will be making and producing war equipment.

This is one of the reasons Costa Rican's are protesting the CAFTA. A march and protest took place in San José on October 23rd and 24th. The march was a countrywide peaceful protest against the CAFTA.

manifestacion.jpg

Picture of the Costa Rican people heading downtown during the march by Onironauta

Dorelia Barahona Riera in Por la Boca Muere el Pez explains the reasons to join the protest.

Los más habilitados para los discursos los proclaman con energía desde los podios y los canales de comunicación, los que escriben con buena pluma, expresan su inconformidad en los periódicos y revistas, los que trabajan como educadores, informan sobre el estado del país y las consecuencias de seguir por el camino propuesto por los generales, pero los que no tienen estas formas de expresar su malestar, su inconformidad, su hartazgo de no ser oídos ¿como lo hacen?

Caminando, acercándose al senado, mostrando sus cuerpos físicos de pueblo con voto y sin voz.

Manifestándose, uniéndose en una sola voz representativa en sí misma, totalmente válida dentro del sistema democrático.

Those gifted in public speaking proclaim with energy from podiums and through the media. Those who write well express their non-comformity through newspapers and magazines. those who work educating, inform about the state of the country and the consequences that may befall us if we follow the direction those who lead the country have set, but all of those who don't have these means to express their sickness, their non-comformity, the fact that they are fed up with not being heard… how do those do it?

By walking, getting close to the senate, being there, representing the body of people with vote but no voice.

Sirena posts her personal reasons for participating in the protest in desenCantos de Sirena:

Ya lo he dicho antes: cuando una es una simple ciudadana “mortal” y no pertenece a las cúpulas de poder que se reparten las ganancias, no puede llamar por teléfono a su diputado o diputada, tiene que ir a gritarle afuera de su oficina que recuerde el mandato que se le dio. Cuando la gente quiere mostrar su poder frente al estado, sólo puede hacerlo en la calle, en protesta, en grupo y ese poder se mide por cuánta gente se haya unido a la marcha.

I've said it before: when one is a common citizen and doesn't belong to the powerful groups which dole out and keep the earnings, one can't pick up the phone and call the deputy or representative, one has to go outside their offices and holler out reminders of their responsibilities. When the people want to show their power agains the state, they can only do it on the street, in protest, in group, and this power is measured by the quantity of people who join the protest.

She also points out:

Lo menos que puedo hacer y debo hacer, es ser parte de ese grupo que va a plantarse frente al gobierno a recordarle a los que viven a costas nuestras, que no queremos ese modelo de país que nos imponen, que no queremos ser tan sólo una maquila tecnológica, que no queremos depender de un único mercado que es de los más injustos del mundo, que no queremos un desarrollo para unos pocos y la miseria para unos muchos, que no nos tragamos las mentiras que nos cuentan y que estamos dispuestos y dispuestas a pelear hasta el final.

The least I can and should do is to be part of this group which will park itself in front of the government to remind those who live on our expense that we don't want this model of country that they are imposing, that we don't want to be just another technological sweatshop, that we don't want to depend on a single market that is known for being one of the least fair in the world, that we don't want development for a few and misery for the majority, that we are not swallowing all these lies they are telling us and that we are all willing to fight until the end.

Joaquín Rodríguez Badilla in Por la Boca Vive el Pez:

Conozco muchos artistas, gente incluso joven que se está yendo de los Estados Unidos. No creen que puedan luchar, no saben cómo hacerlo. Es una posición un poco cobarde, pero no voy a juzgarlos, no es mi país…

Lo que sí sé es que no esperen aquí que nosotros salgamos huyendo ante las imposiciones de la “Dictadura democrática” y el control de Seguridad con el que nos quieren ir cercando solapadamente, a quienes no comulgamos con “sus maravillas” porque saben bien que nos opondremos. Aquí siempre se supo luchar, a pesar de ser un país pacifista.

I know many artists, even young people who are leaving the United States. They don't believe they can fight, they don't know how to do it. It isn't a brave attitude, but I can't judge them, it isn't my country.

What I do know is that it can't be expected that we'll flee from the Democratic Dictatorship and the Security controls they intend to use to covertly isolate all of us who don't believe in “their wonders” because they know full well that we will oppose them. We've always known how to fight here, in spite of being a peaceful country.

In Costa Rica: una opinión sobre los cambios sociales y políticos del presente, Carlos Castro is ambivalent about the protests today and the possible results:

Las universidades han realizado un gran esfuerzo en publicar materiales críticos sobre el TLC. Sin embargo no hay mayores esfuerzos por aclarar a los ciudadanos que pasará si no se aprueba el TLC y cuáles son las perspectivas concretas para la economía nacional si se cierra el principal mercado para sus exportaciones. Existen vagas y amplias referencias sobre el “modelo solidario e inclusivo”, sin embargo más allá de las declaraciones líricas no nos explican cuál es la alternativa.

The universities have made a great effort in publishing material criticizing CAFTA. Nevertheless, there aren't many efforts to clear up for citizens what will happen if CAFTA is not signed and what are the concrete consecuences for the national economy if the main export market closes down. There are vague and ample references on the “supportive and inclusive model”, however, beyond these lyrical declarations they are not explaining what the alternative is.

Itzpapalotl writes about her reasons not to walk in the protest although she is against the CAFTA:

Mi excusa es débil, ya se, pero he ido a más marchas que a misas y en ambas siempre me encuentro medio enferma, desconfiando sin remedio del mae del micrófono.

My excuse is weak, I know, but I've been to more protests than masses and in both I always find myself a bit sick, unavoidably mistrusting the bloke with the microphone.

Jaguar del Platanar comments on the protest in San Carlos, and the interactions of the peaceful protesters with the police:

Un par de cosas que me sorprendieron gratamente:

1. Un policía se acercó a los manifestantes y dijo “¿quién es el líder?” a lo que contestaron “¡Todos! ¡Aquí nadie vale más que los demás!

2. El mismo policía les dijo después “necesitamos que dejen libre el paso, de lo contrario nos veremos obligados a actuar”, a lo que respondió uno de los manifestantes: “Oscar Arias cerró las calles de Ciudad Quesada, junto con ustedes y a él nadie lo amenazó”

A couple of things pleasantly surprised me:

1. A policeman came up to the protesters and asked: “Who is your leader” to which the crowd answered “Everyone! No one here is worth more than the rest!

2. The same policeman later told them “We need you to stop blocking the way, otherwise we'll see ourselves forced to act” To which one of the protesters replied: “Oscar Arias closed the streets of Ciudad Quesada along with you, and no one threatened him”.

Julia Ardón on the government's accusations on the vilifying the Anti CAFTA marches for blocking roadways:

¿ Impedir el libre tránsito?

Según ese “nuevo” criterio con el que se acusa ahora a las marchas que piden la no aprobación de este TLC, abría que suprimir también: procesiones, funerales, plazas públicas, visitas del presidente a zonas rurales, desfiles del 11 de abril y 15 de setiembre, carnavales de San José, Limón, Puntarenas, topes de San José, Liberia y Palmares, esos “bloqueos” con un mecate para donar plata para la escuela del pueblo o arreglar las calles aledañas…., festival de la luz, desfile de boyeros en diciembre, filmaciones de comerciales o películas…todo lo que cierra calles para que unos ciudadanos disfruten y otros pasen por otro lado ( por un rato y…como siempre…)

Ah…también, cuando hay un choque, debería entonces venir más rápido el tránsito y el INS a hacer las diligencias del caso, para no impedir el libre tránsito vehícular…

Block free transit?

According to this new criteria that is being used against the protests against the approval of the CAFTA, we would also have to prohibit: religious processions, funerals, political rallies, visits of the president to rural areas, parades for April 11th and September 15, the San Jose Carnivals, as well as the ones in Limon and Puntarenas, the topes (horse shows) in San Jose, Liberia and Palmares, those “roadblocks” with rope in rural areas to donate money for the school in a small town or to fix the neighboring roads, the Light Festival, ox cart parade in December, filming for commercials or movies… anything that closes streets so that some citizens enjoy and others have to avoid by taking detours (for a short while, as it has always happened)

Oh! While we are at it, they should have the traffic police and the National Insurance Institute should arrive at the scene of a crash in a timely manner as to not block free vehicular transit.

Corruption high within the government is also a topic that has generated posts:

Amelia Rueda, an important journalist writes in her blog:

Un capo de la droga acusado de querer matar a un Presidente tiene nexos en el país con un abogado que resulta ser el hermano del Vicepresidente de la República. La historia se complica, porque Kevin Casas (nuestro segundo vicepresidente) llama al Fiscal para decir que su hermano Ciro está desaparecido, pero en la oficina de este último lo que aseguran es el que el jurista anda fuera del país y regresa mañana (miércoles 11 de octubre). Más preguntas que respuestas… Mientras, el capo (George Nayes) está arrestado en Estados Unidos y se le acusa no solo de haber sido el “tesorero” de Pablo Escobar sino también de querer matar al presidente de El Salvador, Antonio Saca. Nayes estuvo varias veces en el país y, dice el vicepresidente Casas, que departieron en la fiesta de cumpleaños de su hermano Ciro. ¿Qué relación tiene don Kevin con el señor Nayes? ¿Su hermano le pidió algún tipo de ayuda para su cliente? ¿Deben pedírsele cuentas al Vicepresidente por las amistades de su familia? ¿Cuánto afecta este escándalo al gobierno? ¿Qué debe hacer el presidente Arias? Más preguntas que respuestas…

A druglord accused of intent to murder a president has connections in the country with a lawyer who turns out to be the Vice-President's brother. The story gets more complicated since Kevin Casas (our second Vicepresident) calls the Attorney General to say his brother Ciro has dissappeared, but in the office of tha latter their story is that the jurist is outside the country and returns a day later (this was October 11th). More questions than answers… Meanwhile, the druglord (George Nayes) is arrested in the United states and is accused not only for being Pablo Escobar's treasurer but also for intent to murder El Salvador's president, Antonio Saca. Nayes visited several times our country and Vicepresident Casas states that they saw each other during his brother Ciro's birthday party. What is the relationship between Kevin and Mr. Nayes? Did his brother request some type of help for his client? Should the vicepresident be impeached for his relations friends? How does this scandal affect the government? What should president Arias do? More questions than answers…

On the cultural and entertainment front, Floriella comments on the power of entertainers: During a concert one of the musicians requested that smokers put out their cigarettes for a while, since one of the musicians was unable to see due to so much smoke. As if by magic, every single cigarrette was put out for the rest of the concert.

A mitad de la primera parte, Jaime se dirigió a todos con estas palabras:

-Voy a pedirles algo que nunca pedimos, sólo por esta vez, ahí disculpen ustedes. Nuestro compañero Tapao está teniendo un problemita, casi no puede ver nada por el humo. Queríamos pedirles que por favor, los que están fumando dejen de hacerlo o por lo menos se abstengan por un ratito. Gracias.
Silencio y fue como si una aspiradora gigante limpiara el smoky air de un tajo. ¡TODO EL MUNDO DEJÓ DE FUMAR! Eso es a lo que yo le llamo poder, simple y llano.

In the middle of the first part, Jaime spoke to everyone with these words:

-I'm going to ask of you something we've never asked before, just this once, please forgive us. Our friend Tapao is having a slight problem, he can hardly see due to the smoke. We wish to kindly request that those who are smoking stop doing so or at least abstain for a little bit. Thank you.

Silence and then it was as if a giant vacuum cleaner had cleaned out the “smoky air” at once. EVERYONE STOPPED SMOKING! That's what I call true and simple power.

7 comments

  • Gracias por reproducir nuestras voces.
    Gracias por permitir que el mundo nos escuche.

  • que sorpresa, no esperé ver mi foto por acá.

    Genial por el articulo.

  • Thanks a lot for your publication.

  • graciela

    Lo que realmente no entiendo sobre la forma en que los costarricenses han tomado la discusión sobre el TLC, es la pasividad Y la forma en qque se dean manipular. Es bien sabido que la forma escondida en que se ha manejado el tratado y el constante bombardeo de publicidad, sea a favor o en contra, no han permitido a los ciudadanos comprender que el TLC que el TLC no es más que una versión disimulada de una estrategía creada por Estados Unidos para reiterar su hegemonía. Este tratado, en realidad no es ninguna solución u opción de surgimiennto para los países de clase baja.

  • Qué sorpresa encontrar mi voz por acá…
    Gracias

  • WHO IS THE TLC FOR? OSCAR ARIAS, FOREIGNERS OR THE AMERICAN JEWS?

  • Pucha, como que muy imparciales no son….

    http://www.mandaguevo.blogspot.com

    Saludos

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