San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Everybody is saying something different’

It is 8 a.m. and already Ramón Rosabo, owner of Pesquería Rosaba, sits outside his shop on a rickety, well-worn wooden bench, done with his day’s work.He wears Teva sandals, jean shorts and has a cell phone clipped to his belt.As a fish buyer and seller along the creaking, salt- and blood-stained docks of Puntarenas, on the central Pacific coast, his daily routine has changed little in 20 years, he says. Rosabo, 59, is married with six children.

He greets fishermen before sunrise each morning, exchanges colones for fresh fish, then sees them on their way. Straightforward, and tempered by a life exposed to the harsh realities of the Gulf of Nicoya’s ailing fisheries, he is quick to admit he knows little of the details of the pending Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States (CAFTA), but laments that no one seems to be making an effort to truly inform the public.

He is visibly frustrated, and confused.

TT: Will you vote for or against CAFTA in the upcoming referendum?

RR: I don’t know much about the agreement. But from what I do know, I believe that I will vote in favor.

How do you think the outcome will affect you personally?

It will not affect me. I don’t know what exactly CAFTA is, but whether we have it or we don’t – I know that I will always have a job here on these docks. The fish don’t care.

If CAFTA doesn’t pass, what kind of Costa Rica will we have in 10 years?

It is hard to say. If it passes, and the country develops more, and attracts more business, then it will be a good thing for everyone. There will be more jobs, and more money. If it doesn’t work, we will be worse off than Nicaragua. The small businesses, the Costa Rican businesses, could disappear, and then, so would we.

What is the single most important reason to support CAFTA?

It is so hard to know what is the truth, and what isn’t. Neither the unions nor the government are telling us the truth, so we just don’t know. Everybody is saying something different.You can’t believe anything. I believe those with the most money are the ones that will benefit. For the rest of us, it will stay the same.

Why has CAFTA attracted so much attention here and abroad?

Simple. Because someone is going to make a lot of money off of this.


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