Slumming it in Costa Rica

It isn’t hard to do. It may not be a good idea, but it isn’t hard to do. People who live in the San Jose area have heard the names. Barrio Cuba. Leon XIII. Los Guido. Pavas. The list could go on. I have come to know some people who live in some of these neighborhoods. I asked one young woman I know to accompany me as I took some video and stills of Los Guido and the video in this post is the result.

This was a project I had in mind for quite some time, but the immediate cause for doing this video was an article I read on Inside Costa Rica, which in turn pointed to an article (with video) on, the dot com arm of Televangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. I will say up front that I am not a fan of Pat Robertson. But I am not going to let my distaste for him and his like prevent me from giving credit to those who are trying to do something for the poor people of Costa Rica. The link to the CBN video is at the bottom of this post.

When I saw the video, my reaction was rather skeptical. I did not doubt that this church existed, nor did I doubt that they had changed some lives for the better. But having actually been to Los Guido many times myself, I thought some of the rhetoric was, shall I say, overdone?

Missionary Church was a key factor in the transformation of the Los Guido neighborhood, and the changes over the past 10 years have been substantial.

To say Los Guido has been through a ‘transformation’ is rather an exaggeration. To give another example:

Today, instead of gangs controlling Los Guido, Christian youth groups meet all around the community.

It may well be true that Christian youth groups meet all around the community, but if you doubt the gangs still exist just try walking around after sundown. The scar displayed by my guide in the video was the result of a knife wound suffered during a mugging on her way home from a little grocery store near her home. The thieves did that for a little less than $6.

Some of the work that church groups are doing is wonderful. I know a poor woman who was the grateful recipient of a free house built by a Christian group from North America. Every little bit helps. I do hope, however, that those who wish to contribute to such a cause donate directly rather than to Pat Robertson’s loathsome organization. Just as one example, Google ‘Pat Robertson blood diamonds.’

My own view is that there are many ways to help the poor here in Costa Rica and elsewhere. Repealing the government’s ‘abstinence only’ birth control policy would be a good start. Or you could pony up $100 to buy school clothes and supplies for a child, there are thousands to choose from. (click here to read more about so-called ‘free’ education here). But if you wish to contribute via the church in the video, here is the contact information:

His church is located in Los Guidos
His address is sector #1 It is the largest building in town.
phone contact 25100042 25100167
his email is

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  1. Also da bin ich aber anderer Meinung.