San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

History: The Good and the Bad

GRAN Hotel Costa Rica has been around long enough that it shares in muchof the country’s history – both the proud and uncomfortable. Just as Afro-Caribbeans were not allowed into San José by law until after 1949, Gran HotelCosta Rica excluded blacks as well. A pamphlet from the hotel dating back to themiddle of last century includes a small sentence that reads: “PATRONAGE –International, Negroes are not admitted.”As a sign of just how far the country has come – as well as the tendency forpeople and nations to forget prickly memories – General Manager Eric Gutiérrezwas shocked and surprised to hear of this past policy, and stressed, “Clearly, HotelCosta Rica, at least for the last 35 years, has not only welcomed black people buthas had them on staff.”

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