On the Waterfront

According to the spin in AM Costa Rica, this will be the Chinchilla Administrations ‘defining moment,’ much as the CAFTA/TLC trade agreement was for President Oscar Arias. It’s so early in her administration that I can’t say this will be THE defining moment, but it is certainly important.

For those of us who are old enough, we might draw a parallel to President Reagan’s firing of 11,000 air traffic controllers back in August of 1981. There were a lot of things that happened in his two terms, but this certainly set the tone. From 1983 to 2008, the percentage of people employed who were union members went from 20% down to 12.4%. And this does not count the rise in self-employed persons, who are not counted as ‘people employed.’

Some see this as a good thing. Others see it as a bad thing. Others just want to know when American Idol starts again.

In any case, President Chinchilla’s plan to privatize the Limón-Moín docks is running into opposition. In fact, it seems to be running into ALL the opposition political parties left, right and who-knows-where. Some might be inclined to see this as simply a contest between ideologies, or between good guys and bad guys, but I’m going to look at it from my own perspective, skewed as it may be.

One of the battlefronts has been who gets to speak for the current workers. The government didn’t like the union leadership, and replaced it with leaders they felt were more representative of the wishes of the workers. The Supreme Court just overruled this move. Which leaders represent the wishes of the true majority? I can’t tell you, and I don’t know anybody who can give an objective answer.

Beyond that, in order to move ahead with the ‘plan’ at all, President Chinchilla even had to agree to allow the formation of a commission to investigate concessions, which would include the Limón-Moín docks. Which brings me to my point (FINALLY!).

The main complaint against the union leadership was that it was corrupt and self-serving. Now, I don’t want to suggest that there is a lot of corruption and self-service in the government itself. No, no way, not in a country where you could be jailed for ‘defamation’ even if what you say is true, where calling a scoundrel a scoundrel is verboten. This, in a country where at least two recent former presidents have faced serious charges of malfeasance in office, and one was even under house arrest. I suppose that’s better than letting criminal presidents go free, as at least one other country I have lived in has done.

Okay, let’s not go there. It’s a pleasant day, albeit a rainy one. I think I’ll rest my brain and think happy thoughts instead of nitpicking. Don’t worry, be happy. Pura vida. Haga fila.

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  1. My guess — the guns will be out soon in Limon-Moin, it's just the way things get settled around here.