And no army…
In a previous occasion I mentioned that I was proud that Costa Rica does not have an army, but be weary of pride. Too much pride leads to arrogance, and thus you fail to see
In a previous occasion I mentioned that I was proud that Costa Rica does not have an army, but be weary of pride. Too much pride leads to arrogance, and thus you fail to see your weaknesses, and thus no possibility for improvement. People can be proud of themselves or their culture, either way, pride becomes a hindrance rather than a virtue.
Pride or perspective of privilege?
I rather see the situation not as pride, but from the perspective of privilege.
I think I am privileged by having been born and raised in a country with no army. My parents generation was the last generation of Costa Ricans who knew what a war was. I wish many other people had enjoyed that privilege.
Wars and unrests
As a kid, I remember seeing in the television the Troubles in the UK, the Russian-Afghan War, the Desert Storm, the Nicaraguan Civil war, the Panama Invasion, the Dirty War in Argentina as well as the Falkland Islands war with the UK, the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, and the never ending Israeli-Palestine conflict. This is just the tip of the iceberg of wars and unrest.
Is there a better way?
I always wondered, why all this was happening. I thought there had to be a better way. “The more privilege you have, the more opportunities you have. The more opportunities you have, the more responsibility you have“, and that is the responsibility to act.
With this quote, Noam Chomsky compels us to use our privilege wisely and responsibly, to take action to benefit the other people who have not had that privilege, and act we do.
A different kind of conflict
Last night one of our attorneys went in the middle of the night to the Juan Santamarìa airport to prevent one of our clients from being rejected upon arriving to the country. It is not the first time, nor the last that our team rolls the sleeves to assist a fellow expat.
Peace and democracy
Costa Rica has many beautiful things, but the best give this little country can give to its people is peace. This has been possible by the foresight of Jose Maria Figueres Ferrer. Son of Catalunyan immigrants, graduated from MIT, and a businessman, ended up being a political prisoner and forced to exile.
Returning after years of exile in Guatemala, el Salvador and Mèxico, being the target of political oppression and witnessing the tribulations of the peoples of Latin America, Pepe Figueres sought it necessary to abolish the army and avoid a future of conflict.
This and many other measures allowed Costa Rica to develop as a stable and prosperous democracy in a region of conflict. Over the years, the peace and prosperity put the country on the map and today we and hundreds of thousands of foreigners enjoy the privilege of living in a peaceful country with no army. Do not take this for granted.
As noted, Figueres was the son of immigrants, but also married twice to foreigners, one being Henrietta Briggs from the United States, and the other Karen Olsen from Denmark. Costa Rica experienced a significant influx of immigrants from Europe in the turn of the century, as well as many entrepreneurs from central and South America, it was not estrange for Figueres to be surrounded by foreigners, and thus, he had to include them in the CR Constitution. Section 19 of the CR Constitution establishes that Foreign Nationals are afforded the same rights as Costa Ricans except for political rights (participating in the election).
As today we celebrate the abolition of the army, I also bring to our attention that value that a son of immigrants brought to Costa Rica, not only to Costa Ricans but to immigrants as well.
Enjoy this privilege, but also be responsible by enforcing the virtues that make this country a peaceful place to live, by owning your right, your right to be here under the constitution, by being an agent of change. We all need to do our part!