La Presidenta at the United Nations (part 1 of ???)

After a little nosing around the web, I was able to find the press release about President Laura Chinchilla’s remarks during a meeting at the United Nations. I’ll quote some of the press release here, and do my usual sniping. From the press release paraphrasing Mrs. Chinchilla’s remarks:

The world could congratulate itself for progress made in the areas such as education and gender equality. However, her country remained concerned with the economic and social conditions of women, children, the elderly and families.

If her country remains concerned, maybe it’s because the “social conditions of women, children, the elderly and families” are so bad WITHIN the country. 300,000 children in Costa Rica live in poverty, about one third of the total. This is in a country where overall poverty rate is 23%. Children seem to account for more than their share of the poor.

Here is a quote from a January 25, 2010 post on the website ‘The Costa Rica Frog.’

One of the report’s researchers, Natalia Morales, said in remarks published Sunday in the daily La Nacion Spanish language newspaper that one of the causes lies in the elevated rates of fertility in poorer homes.

Morales said that the lack of family planning campaigns and opportunities for women who get pregnant at early ages is having negative effects on the country’s children. Morales stressed that social policies have failed to serve the mothers who educate and support their children alone.

Another section of the report states that the percentage of households headed by women increased from 11% to 19% between 1990 and 2008. Joblessness among this group runs at 40%. Although I have no figures to back up my suspicion, I suspect that there is a very large number of the 60% employed who are working part time, or not earning enough to live above the poverty level. I base this primarily on the situations of several single mothers I know. I don’t say my sample is representative of all single mothers in Costa Rica, but among those I know, most barely get by.

I started out to do a critique of all of La Presidenta’s remarks, but only got as far as the first paragraph. Obviously I have rather strong opinions on the subject of poverty in Costa Rica. Mrs. Chinchilla’s words sound nice but to my knowledge a president’s words don’t put food on the table. Mrs. Chinchilla talks a good game, but I am waiting impatiently for her to DO SOMETHING SUBSTANTIAL. She’s great at photo ops like ringing the Wall Street bell. I guess that’s something. Not quite enough for the one third of children in her country living in poverty, but… she looked GOOD ringin’ that bell!!!

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  1. I'm convinced that "action" by any Costa Rican politician is an unrealistic expectation. Their purpose is to take the microphone on channel 26 (why is the volume on channel 26 twice as loud as any other station?) and get as much air time as possible to insure that they have recognition for the next election. In fact, the current legislature blew its' credibility their first week in office by trying to double their salary to something like 20 to 30 times the national average. Nothing gets done here. Roads and bridges collapse with each rain (and it rains a lot). Garbage lays in the street because garbage trucks are broken with, supposedly, no money to repair them. Crime continues rampant, the cops are corrupt, and the courts turn everybody loose, no matter what crime was committed. Buying real estate is akin to playing craps at the casino because squatters have more rights than purchasers.

    However, there is hope for the future. Following the abject disappointment of not making the World Cup tournament in South Africa last summer, the national futbol team (soccer to us gringos) has hired a new coach to the tune of $50,000 PER MONTH!! Just gotta keep those priorities straight.

  2. I appreciate you bringing the unfortunate plight of the children to the attention of your readers. Judging by the first two comments, it looks as though one third of the readers truly care…You are aware of the countless number people who are making a difference in the lives of the mothers and their children, aren't you?
    Instead of acting like Simon on American Idol, why not go without one of your creature comforts for the sake of the children, roads, or road litter and put the money where your mouth is! Or, better yet, pitch in and do something!

  3. Dear Rain-Child,

    If you are implying that I don't do anything to help poor people here, you know nothing about what I am doing. I don't volunteer for feel good projects while I stay in 5 star resorts. I would wager that a much larger percentage of my disposable income goes to directly helping families than any other gringos you care to name. I am not impressed with most gringo do-gooders. They almost always have some agenda or are on some ego trip. They want to impose their beliefs (religious, dietary, whatever) on the locals before they open up their pocketbooks.

    And Simon is the only one on American Idol who told the truth and didn't sugar coat it, as far as I am concerned.