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Costa Rica: US Free Trade?  
User currently offlineMt99 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 6594 posts, RR: 6
Posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 1242 times:
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Today CR citizens have a national referendum on accepting or declining a free trade agreement with the US.

Selling out National Identity or Economic sense?

Any thoughts from our friends in Costa Rica or Central America?


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7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 1, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 1242 times:

Quoting Mt99 (Thread starter):
Today CR citizens have a national referendum on accepting or declining a free trade agreement with the US.

Just to note, this is the first time in history that the Costa Rican people go to vote in a fully binding referendum. To make the referendum valid, a minimum voter turnout of 40 percent is required and of that, a simple majority of the votes is required to either pass or reject the US Free Trade Agreement aka CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement).

Quoting Mt99 (Thread starter):
Selling out National Identity or Economic sense?

A victory of CAFTA has its positive and negative sides, but I'm confident that it will bring more good than bad. It's time that Costa Rica gets rid of its current semi-socialistic, centralised economy and becomes a true market economy. Plus, it's also about time the state monopolies finally fall and are open to competition, to allow the people to have a choice and not live off services, which have jacked up prices thanks to them being a monopoly.

Most of those who are against CAFTA are just union workers, people afiliated to the populist PAC party, and leftist students from the state universities. I'm told that in the case of the students, many of those who are not the typical bandwagon kids, have been influenced by Chávez sympathetic Venezuelans who teach here, but I can't fully back it up as I've heard it from a different source. To me, those students are just bandwagon kids who say No just to make their statement against the central government. That being said, when I went to the polls and when we took my mother to the polls, the vast majority of people present were for the ratification and implementation of CAFTA. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

I went to vote (I'm a dual German-Costa Rican citizen), and I voted for CAFTA. The only downside: I arrived at around 11:00 LT, basically at the time when Oscar Arias was still around and being chased by the press (I'm always assigned to the same poll where Arias votes). It was hell. I got pushed around by a cop, who didn't even have the goddamn courtesy of telling me to go somewhere else and let the pile walk through, and I initially didn't even find myself in the list. But I eventually found my name in the list, went in and voted Yes. If you want to know, the poll I went, where Arias also went, is the Carlos Sanabria School in Pavas.

Here's to CAFTA hopefully passing and ushering in a new era with economic opportunities this country desperately needs.



[Edited 2007-10-07 12:17:55]

[Edited 2007-10-07 12:18:17]

User currently offlineLgbga From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 187 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 1242 times:

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 1):
it's also about time the state monopolies finally fall and are open to competition, to allow the people to have a choice and not live off services, which have jacked up prices thanks to them being a monopoly.

My friend who works for ICE was voting no.

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 1):
That being said, when I went to the polls and when we took my mother to the polls, the vast majority of people present were for the ratification and implementation of CAFTA. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

That surprises me also. When I was there in June it seems I only saw "No a TLC signs". Everyone I asked about it said they were voting no.


User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 3, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1242 times:

With 73.6% of all the poll booths counted, so far 51.7% voted for CAFTA and 48.3% have voted against it. Voter turnout is 59.3%, which makes this referendum result legally binding.

Hopefully nothing will change the result. I'm very pleased with this great result in favour of CAFTA.


User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 4, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1242 times:

BTW: Finally their site is working, so to see the latest poll results of the CAFTA referendum, here's the site:

http://www.tse.go.cr/ref/english.htm

EDIT: They did have a page in English for that, so changed the links.

[Edited 2007-10-07 20:10:53]

User currently offlineRIHNOSAUR From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 362 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 1242 times:

Unfortunately a sad day for Costa Rica

First thing I would like to add is that, although the voters of NO lost the referendum it was not by much. At least I get a sense that not all their effort was in vain. On average I believe that the loss was broken down in the following way:

Yes: 51.59 No: 48.41

source : http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/spanish/business/newsid_7033000/7033106.stm

sorry every one its in Spanish


Quoting LTU932 (Reply 1):
victory of CAFTA has its positive and negative sides, but I'm confident that it will bring more good than bad. It's time that Costa Rica gets rid of its current semi-socialistic, centralized economy and becomes a true market economy.

IMO it has more negative consequences than, good ones.....Without getting too much into detail...this deal benefits large companies...foreign investors will benefit tons...and those who make part of the FORMAL economy in the country..but what about those who do not have the education and training...and those who currently rely on the excellent (relative to the area) social programs available to them...?? these treaties have many strings attached ..and what about education and health care?? these treaties are not compatible with industries such as these basic services

why??? because they are not as profitable....it is up to the state to ensure these basic necessities for the country to develop.

yes its accurate to say that many jobs will be created but much more will be made in terms of profits which will exit Costa Rica, NOT stay on Costa Rica and make the country's bargaining potential in the world market grow.
In other words the big profits will not be mainly reinvested in education, healthcare and infrastructure...but in some foreign fund helping the economy of other countries..which understandably so, are pushing for such a deal because it benefits their interest.

Its a step back from the what has made Costa Rica unique in the area....
Sorry Pepe Sr. (CostaRican president who introduced the social reforms which have set costa rica aside from many countries in the region, including abolishing the army ...)....that .half of the country is dumb enough to not realize and build on the gains you have given to them...

sad day....

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 1):
Plus, it's also about time the state monopolies finally fall and are open to competition, to allow the people to have a choice and not live off services, which have jacked up prices thanks to them being a monopoly.

what you say is totally de-contextualized on the verge of right out unthoughtful..
costa rica is one of the few countries I know of ..where you can go to the most remote little village "where the devil lost its jacket " and using like 100 C "una teja" ($0.20 ) you can make a phone call.......tell me which other country has NATION wide local calling like in CR????
yeah right...costarica has some of the cheapest and best (for the price) telecommunications..and most importantly available to every one...but it seems to me you probably do not care about those who do not live in San Jose and hang out in Pavas....in the neighborhood where the president lives....

cheers



particles and waves are the same thing, but who knows what that thing is...
User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 6, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 1242 times:

Quoting RIHNOSAUR (Reply 5):
First thing I would like to add is that, although the voters of NO lost the referendum it was not by much.

And yet neocommunists like Ottón Solís are crying foul play and don't want to accept the result, while those from the SÍ block, including president Arias want to go for a more conciliatory approach to things. Go figure, this cry by the NO block is typical of those who don't have any serious arguments that support their position, after the majority of the PEOPLE decided that they want CAFTA.  

Quoting RIHNOSAUR (Reply 5):
IMO it has more negative consequences than, good ones.....Without getting too much into detail...this deal benefits large companies...foreign investors will benefit tons...and those who make part of the FORMAL economy in the country

OK, then tell me why the people in that port that got its operations taken over by a private company (I don't recall which port it was) are now actually working instead of slacking off like they used to? Yes, they protested against the move, but the fact that port operations under private control have run much more efficient than before is a positive sign that will only help the current semi-socialist economy Costa Rica has. Now, I'm aware of the downsides like in the case of Alterra and SJO, but the difference is that in the case of Alterra it has been not just a dispute between them and the government that has brought the airport refurbishing to a standstill, but it's also a problem with their investors, and the unwillingness of the government to take serious action that has contributed to this stalemate.

Quoting RIHNOSAUR (Reply 5):
Sorry Pepe Sr. (CostaRican president who introduced the social reforms which have set costa rica aside from many countries in the region, including abolishing the army ...)....that .half of the country is dumb enough to not realize and build on the gains you have given to them...

May I remind you that it was Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia who actually introduced the bill that created Social Security (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social) and not José Figueres Ferrer? You don't have to worry about the Army coming back (though I'm certainly in favour of it, that's no secret). The problem with Seguro Social is that it has become old and inflexible. Remember the scandals related to the ex-boss of Social Security, and the piss poor state in which hospitals and so-called clincs are right now? Especially in rural areas, there is too much dependence on the hospital system in urban areas (especially the Calderón Guardia, San Juan de Dios and Mexico hospitals). Nothing has been done in previous governments to actually improve those facilities. Hell, the new wing at the SJDD Hospital has been plagued with insect contamination, plus the Calderón Guardia Hospital is itself a total violation of the current building code that burned so easily, you have to wonder about the safety of all the patients. And even so, once the burned building is rebuilt, there is no guarantee that Social Security will do ANYTHING to adapt all of their facilities to current safety regulations and fit them with more emergency exits. You probably don't even have an idea about it, given that you live comfortably in the United States and don't see things from the perspective I see them after having lived here for 10 years.

Quoting RIHNOSAUR (Reply 5):
yeah right...costarica has some of the cheapest and best (for the price) telecommunications

I'm not talking about the fares for a public phone, but regarding telecommunications, it is time that other providers come down here and lower those fares even more. The people at the utilities companies and state Internet provider RACSA do nothing but strike whenever they face the fact that they will eventually have to work for real. Just think about the blackouts that came during this year's drought, when allegations of sabotage came up in one of the utilities's powerplants, which prevented the dams, despite of the heavy rainfall, to get their waterlevels return to normal. When Arias found out about it, he didn't take too much time to declare those blackouts terminated. His statement was an FU towards those people for not doing their job properly. Not to mention, whenever power goes out here, it takes sometimes 3 to 5 hours during the week, even up to 8 hours until power comes back during the weekends because they're too busy with things that don't have to do with anything in their job descriptions, especially during the weekends when they mostly go to their union's finca in Grecia than actually do their job. And you know who'll be screwed the most because of the incompetence of the utilities: yes, it's the rural areas that will get screwed. Those very rural areas that only pay 20 cents for using a public telephone.

I have experienced both the Social Market Economy in Germany and the semi-socialist Planned Economy/Commanded Economy here in Costa Rica, and from experience I am convinced that this country will do much better under a more liberal market economy than in an old and obsolete semi-socialist economy. The task of the government is not to become neoliberal and at the same time, not go back to something similar to a command economy either. When my home country Germany was still stricken by a shattered economy after the founding of our republic, the introduction of the Social Market Economy by the Adenauer administration and with Ludwig Erhard as our Federal Economy Minister, combined with the aid we got from the United States under the Marshall Plan, was essential in not only helping us rebuild our country, but also to bring our Wirtschaftswunder or Economic Miracle, which was the most prosperous time in our country during the early post-war era of our young republic.

On the other hand, communist East Germany (for simplicity reasons, I'll just call it by its German name abbreviation, DDR) was from the start a planned economy in the most literal sense of the word. They managed to get along, with some aid from the Soviet Union, but during its latter years, the country was bankrupt, its economy was about to collapse. So who did they ask for help? Us, the people from the Federal Republic of Germany. Thanks to Prime Minister Franz-Josef Strauß of the Federal State of Bavaria, the DDR got a loan of over one billion (West-)German Mark, which was the only thing that kept their economy running until the eventual unification in 1990. Granted, the then new Eastern federal states were still having problems and bankruptcies of former DDR state owned companies (called VEB, Volkseigener Betrieb in German), had taken a major toll on those five states, but that was mostly atributed to political incompetence on the part of the Kohl administration and of institutions like the Treuhand. It was not a failure of the Social Market Economy.

Nowadays, it's getting finally better for the Eastern federal states, especially in the Federal State of Saxony (a state that was badly hit by the 2002 floodings), where recently LH has announced a joint venture with ER for a new cargo airline that will operate out of LEJ. Even today, ER has shifted its European hub from BRU to LEJ, and the airport is expanding. Even cultural landmarks like the famous Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) in Dresden, which were left to rot by the DDR government, have been rebuilt during this time.

Yes, a market economy will always be hit or miss, but from my experience, it's still much more beneficial for a country to have a market economy, where everybody has a chance to make something out of himself and where foreign investment can create much needed jobs and reduce unemployment, than something that is not just old and obsolete, but also has a semi-socialistic aspect to it which prevents a lot of this much needed foreign investment to come. Think of the tax income as well. If that tax money doesn't go to social projects and improvement of state institutions and reforms to the current centralised bureaucracy, then that's because of the incompetence of the government, not of CAFTA.

[Edited 2007-10-08 23:47:04]

[Edited 2007-10-08 23:50:51]

User currently offlineMt99 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 6594 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (6 years 11 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 1242 times:
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Quoting RIHNOSAUR (Reply 5):
" and using like 100 C "una teja" ($0.20 ) you can make a phone call.......tell me which other country has NATION wide local calling like in CR????



Quoting RIHNOSAUR (Reply 5):
yeah right...costarica has some of the cheapest and best (for the price) telecommunications..and most importantly available to every one..

Hmm. .some of Costa Rica's neighbors do not pay $0.20 to use a public phone in remote locations.

They pay $0.10 to the US and they use cell phone.



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