San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

They Said What? ... Voices From ‘08

“I’m in this post to take on crime. I’m not here to pad my résumé or climb higher on the political ladder.”

–Janina del Vecchio

Public Security minister, responding to criticism that she is unqualified for the job.

“I don’t want the name of France to be associated with mediocrity.”

–Jean-Paul Monchau

French ambassador on his decision to withdraw

support of the French-CostaRicanSchool.

“At public schools, theEnglish instruction is bad, bad, bad, bad.”

–Jessica Jiménez

Consultant for the InternationalCenter for

Human Development.

“Our wines are different. …They are Old World. They will not bore you.”

–Bernard Perraud

French expat who imports French wines to

compete with the ubiquitous Argentine

and Chilean wines.

“It is not a crime to haverotting money.”

–Cruz Prado

An academic in Heredia province found in

possession of $480,000 in FARC cash.

“When you’re in politics,you should think a lot, say very little and writenothing.

–Kevin Casas

A former vice president forced out of office after it

was revealed he was urging President Oscar Arias

to take tough measures to ensure voters approved

the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with

the United States.

“C-sections are a fashion, a fad, a craze.”

Dr. Carlos Pericón

on C-section rates that range from 22 to 79 percent

at Costa Rican hospitals, well above World

Health Organization’s recommendation

of 10 to 15 percent.

“He’s a crime traveler.”

–Francisco Castaing

Immigration police chief,

on José Alvaro Castilblanco, an oft-deported

Colombian who keeps returning to Costa Rica

to rob tourists.

“I can go into your kitchen and leave without you even knowing it.”

Gordo Malo

A self-described hitman in Puerto Viejo who

also likes to steal from people’s refrigerators.

“All hell broke loose, and a mob charged us, screaming and shouting, ‘Thieves!’ and ‘Shoot them!’”

–Jim Zook

one of two ornithologists mistaken for thieves

by a vigilante mob in the Caribbean province of


“This is a wizard’s job. The resources are scanty and the needs are very great.”

–Mario Zamora

Immigration director, responding to a scathing

report about his office’s enforcement practices.

“Barack Obama’s election is huge.”

–Oscar Arias

President of Costa Rica

“It’s so bad here even the firemen won’t come in because they’re afraid they’ll get robbed.”

–Barbi Mora

Leader of neighborhood watch group in Tibás.

“The state of hysteria that the United States is living is leading them to do damage to relations with friendly people … and that is what the terrorists want.”

–Francisco Dall’Anese

Chief prosecutor, after being detained by U.S.

Department of Homeland Security officials at

Miami InternationalAirport.

“You have to understand the whole Costa Rican system is set up to avoid convicting and incarcerating people.”

–Lillian González

Costa Rica’s No. 2 prosecutor on the lack of

jail capacity


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