Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)
NOTE: this was obviously written some weeks ago. I apologize if it is out of date, but I still wanted to get it out there (here).
Sometimes I feel like I'm missing something. One glaring situation where I get that feeling is the recent and current border incursion on the part of Nicaragua into Costa Rica's far Northeast area, around the Isla Calero. I had a very tough time finding a map or other image to show me exactly where this disputed little island is really located, but after finding it, I have to ask even more questions than the one I started out with here. When I said that I feel like I'm missing something, what I was aiming for was this: how in the world can a nation that is so poor that it cannot feed its own people – to the point that significantly large numbers of them have fled to Costa Rica, another poor nation, in an effort to find work, and thus feed their families – manage to support any kind of meaningful military? For those gringos who are not aware of it, Costa Rica actually serves the same purpose for Nicaragua that the U. S. serves for Mexico and much of the rest of Latin America. Ticos don't want to do manual labor anymore (even though there is not much else to do here), so you'll find – all over the country – that the most menial, lowest paying work is almost entirely performed by Nicas. Nicas, I might add, who are glad to have the work. They flock to this country in large numbers, and many of them are working here illegally.
Please understand that I have never personally visited Nicaragua, and have no plans to do so. But, I have talked to a number of folks who have been there, both Ticos and gringos. They all agree that very generally Nicaragua has better roads than Costa Rica. Also, please understand that I not only have no stake in this dispute, but I also have no claim to any particular knowledge of anything about it. So, whatever I say here is simply me, speaking my opinion on a subject of which I know very little. To further expand on my first question, however, I want to repeat that I can't understand how Nicaragua can't feed its own people, but can have a standing army, and decent roads.
What's more, I can't help but note that the actions being taken by that nation, and the public statements coming from their leaders sure sound familiar. Isn't this a typical socialist (Socialist in the worst way, as in Communist – Soviet Union, Red China, North Vietnam, Cuba, et al) move? I mean, they go into a place, and when caught, start out by lying outright, defying the world to do anything about it! In particular, this was always effective for the bad guys of the fifties and the sixties (up to the actions of people like that idiot in Iran, or Hugo Chavez, in Venezuela today) since their claims are so outrageous that the rest of the world is distracted from the fact that these lying thieves actually have their sticky little fingers in somebody else's cookie jar. And, worse, as in this present case, their move has been against a virtually defenseless little nation.
It is interesting to talk to people here of late, especially the Ticos, because no one really knows what to do, or what might help them. There are voices clamoring for all Nicas to be forced to return to their homeland, but RIGHT NOW! This is actually a pretty good idea, in my opinion, because it is my understanding that the numbers are so significant that the government of Nicaragua could well be overwhelmed in taking care of so many people all at once, and that would certainly generate some world notice and perhaps some action. To be honest, however, It is really a bad idea, though, because then the Ticos would find out just how much their precious little 'Switzerland of the Americas' has been infiltrated and even changed from what it used to be. There would be nobody left to empty the overflowing slop jars of a nation so beset by lassitude as to be incapable of doing such things by themselves, and Ticos would not react well to that.
Ultimately, though, as has long been the custom here, Ticos are looking for outside help, even if it means military intervention by a nation stronger than Nicaragua because their national psyche just cannot get around the fact that they are truly powerless, have always been so, and will always be so. They not only have no military, but they have told themselves (and the rest of the world) for so long that they are better off without a military, that they actually believe this. They cite a higher level of education and better health care, but ignore the realities of the fact that their universal health care system is fraught with gaps in care, lack of proper materials and even medications, and delays running into the years for certain treatments. As for their education system, I guess it is OK if your goal is to have a nation of semi-literate, untrained, stuck-in-the-19th-century inepts.
I know that the most recent speculation (and, actually, this is not at all recent, although previous versions have featured different players) has to do with a plot by Iran, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to create a new canal across the isthmus to rival the Panama Canal. (Maybe I just answered my big question, though: the reason Nicaragua can afford a military is that they have received aid from places like Iran and Venezuela). That may well be true, but this is a pretty underhanded way to go after such a goal. Why not come out into the daylight, and get the cooperation of those affected by such a plan, and turn it into a money-maker? Maybe that would solve Nicaragua's glaringly obvious poverty, and lead to them being able to keep their own boys home on the farm, as it were.
Then, the morning news brought the announcement that a small fleet of military vehicles, made in Germany (Mercedes Benz, no less) had been successfully imported into Costa Rica, via the Port of Limon, on the East Coast, destined for (drum roll, please) Nicaragua. That's right. They were, as I wrote this, on their only slightly delayed way up the east coast, bound for the very area that was currently under dispute! Say what? Talk about a comedy of errors! OK, maybe these trucks were not headed directly for the Isla, but there is no way that Costa Rica should have allowed the government of Nicaragua to save money by shipping through a port located in Costa Rica. Make them pay more, and use the Panama Canal.
Next, we got the news that the Fiscalia of something or other, here in Costa Rica, had issued an arrest warrant for the former Sandanista leader, Commandante Cero (General Edén Pastora) for charges having to do with the destruction of the environment. And, I believe there was also a scene played out in the border area, where reporters were massed together to interview him, but they were on the Costa Rican side of the border, and since he was aware that Costa Rican authorities were standing by, he stayed on his side of the border.
Well, who knows how this comedy will play out? Certainly not I. Whatever happens, I don't see any good here for either the people of Costa Rica or those of Nicaragua.