Last in the Hearts of her Country

So I admit I haven’t been very scrupulous in following the local news. I did scour the local online ‘papers’ to find a bus robbery that a friend was the victim of (along with everybody else on the bus) but since there were no pictures, apparently it didn’t rate as news.

But I took a look at one of the English language sites, and ran across something quite interesting. It seems that, according to a poll conducted by Mexico-based Mitofsky Consultants, Laura Chinchilla is the least popular leader in the Western Hemisphere, for the second year running. Her approval rating is 12%, down 1% from the year before. And I have to admit that I was surprised. I wasn’t surprised because I had seen anything she had done that particularly impressed me. Yes, we have street signs in San Jose now. And you can see more police standing around downtown, especially during the day. And we haven’t had a lot of landslides on the Caldera highway, so that’s something.
But I guess the reason I was surprised was because I haven’t heard any serious complaining about her from the locals I know. As far as the gringos go, they (we) can get quite worked up about US politics, but we have pretty low expectations regarding the local government, and few of us are surprised by incompetence and corruption when we see it here.

But the locals apparently have a more discerning point of view. Apparently there are levels of scandal, corruption and incompetence that we non-Ticos don’t pick up on. I am not proud to admit that I don’t follow local politics very closely. I’m a typical gringo in that way. Although I am a permanent resident, I can’t vote and I don’t feel I have the right to preach to Ticos about how THEY should vote. In the last election I had some opinions but why should those born and raised here care what I think? No reason at all.

But to get back to the subject at hand, President Chinchilla is very unpopular and the reasons appear to be based on a number of scandals among members of her government, and some notable failures of laws and initiatives she has advocated or initiated. Her tax reform plan was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and apparently she didn’t have a back up plan. The scandals were widespread and generally centered around influence peddling, graft, and other misdeeds generally centering around money, money, money.

I would think, silly me, that the well-heeled members of the ruling class would have enough to live pretty well already, but apparently I would be wrong. What would make me think that Ticos would be any different than the rest of the world? We can all probably name a few 80 plus year old billionaires still trying to make mo money mo money mo money. All humans aren’t made that way, but plenty of us are.

I am always reminded of a scene from the movie Key Largo. Edward G. Robinson played Johnny Rocco and Humphrey Bogart played Frank McCloud. Here’s the scene:

Johnny Rocco: There’s only one Johnny Rocco.
James Temple: How do you account for it?
Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Sure.
James Temple: What’s that?
Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh …
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!

I guess that’s what the government officials who got caught wanted too. More.

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