San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica's State of the Nation tinged by recession

The independent Estado de la Nación (State of the Nation) program released its 15th annual report Tuesday morning with the hopes of painting an objective picture of Costa Rica.

The 400-plus-page report discusses the country´s political, social, economic and environmental issues. Its authors and editors anchored this year´s edition to the global crisis, which it states “hit Costa Rica with force at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008.”

Miguel Gutiérrez, director of the program, acknowledged that many of the effects of the crisis had yet to be endured and calculated, but that the 2008 State of the Nation attempts to “offer a real and pragmatic perspective of the impact it has had on Costa Rica and the country´s ability to respond to difficult times.”

In several areas, the country seemed to stumble through 2008 and the first half of 2009.

The government spent more than it made from January to May of 2009. Homicides per capita jumped to their highest number in the small nation´s recorded history.

Also, new calculations indicate that Costa Rica is leaving a larger ecological footprint on the earth than the country has the capacity to erase.

Poverty and unemployment are up and the gap is widening between Costa Rica´s social classes.

But not all is bad in the Switzerland of Central America.

More citizens are receiving public health coverage than ever before and the number of students who drop out of high school is falling.

The study determined that 2008 was a calm political year with few tensions, following a year in which strain and hostility over the Central American Free-Trade Agreement with the United States dominated the political scene and tore apart familiar alliances.

And in the face of a myriad of problems coupled with the several successes that the report highlights, Gutiérrez said he hopes the answer to the crisis comes from careful decision making.

“We are facing a crisis unlike the one we saw in the ´80s and our society and our government made large mistakes during that crisis,” he said. “The primary goal of Estado de la Nación is to produce a quality report about the reality of our society. If decision makers are to take anything away from this report, it is that they must continue to invest in the country´s people and its infrastructure.”

See the Nov. 6 print or digital edition of The Tico Times for an in-depth look at the latest State of the Nation report.

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