When will Costa Rica Change?
Latin American Machismo in Costa Rica
The fundamental problem in Costa Rican society today is an expectation on the part of the Costa Rican man, that he is just plain entitled to all, coupled with his machismo attitude towards most members of society, except those who may benefit him.
Through centuries of DNA transfer the Costa Rican man has learned that women are for child duty and minor labour, government and police are to be tolerated yet not respected, and tourist and visitors are a source of funds because of their apparently wealthy country of origin. Only during the last few years has the female population made any gains in government, as a new woman President has reversed some unpopular male power club generated projects with more plans to include gender equality, a concept so common to us from the industrialized countries, yet so foreign to the Latino culture.
Costa Rica prides itself on being progressive, green, and democratic without the need for a national army, but it still lags behind in human rights and the understanding and tolerance of differences in cultures. It has been easy for me to observe first hand some of the difficulties a Costa Rican woman endures at the hands of the Costa Rican man, be it in a taxi, a bar, government office line ups (long, in the heat, and women routinely shoved aside by men who advance) and government offices. The banks are generally staffed by male tellers and officials, such a throwback to days in North America before women sought careers, and when finances were understood and managed purely through male domination.
Costa Rica suffers from discrimination in all areas of life, and is slowly trying to bring itself into a world where all minorities and gender have equal footing. Until that happens, or until a social structure of support and understanding is created in Costa Rica, until a basic welfare policy is put in place (however this country struggles hard to balance it’s economy as it is), the women of the country will continue to be relegated to low paying, manual labour or junior clerical positions. Any gains into the work force by women have been in areas where the Costa Rican male has been slow to give up control, or have little or no interest. I would estimate that the bulk of the power decisions made in this country are still made by a power base from years of internal support and cronyism.
No, Costa Rica will not change, or at least not right away. It will take a new generation, exposed to the world’s other nations and cultures to take the bold steps necessary to begin change. I will not see this in my lifetime, and so for now, I continue to observe.
Loss Leader, reporting from Costa Rica