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  • Writer's pictureJose Arrieta

A Very Costa Rican Privilege

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

When I was a child my grandpa was my hero. All around, I heard and read stories of his past and the poverty he experienced. I learned of his work, his brilliance and his service. But what I learned the most was his love for his town and family.

In the entrance of the Costa Rican Women's clinic stands a quote by Ryochi Sasakawa: "Dichosa la madre costarricense que sabe que su hijo al nacer jamás será soldado." (Blessed is the Costa Rican mother who knows that at birth her son will never be a soldier). We Costa Ricans love our country and such phrases,abound. But as a resident of Europe, Sasakawa's word routinely enter my mind.

It is true. My mom was blessed knowing I would never experience war. But so am I in other ways. As a member of the global south, Costa Rica has been less involved in the Northern wars. Growing up, I never had to think about or deceive myself about my grandpa or people in his generation having outlived other army men in war. I never had to wonder if the people around me had been in cross fire. I never had to wonder if they every tried to kill for their nation or work to help their nation kill more efficiently. I could love and not need to wonder.

I realize now that not needing to tarnish the image of my grandpa or the people in his generation is an immense privilege I grew up with. A privilege that some in other nations share but that Costa Rica due to the lack of army and neutral status might keep in the long run. Blessed indeed was I to be born Costa Rican.

PS: Other Costa Rican privileges include:

  • Constantly hearing: "That's nice, why did you leave paradise?" after people ask for your nationality

  • Having people either tell you that loved their visit to your country or how visiting your country is in their bucket list

  • Costa Rican nature

PPS: A translated version of this post was published in La Nación on November 3, 2022.

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