San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Cheap gas might not be the best thing for Costa Rica, says President Solís

President Luis Guillermo Solís tried to walk a fine line between the economic and political implications of joining the Venezuelan-led Petrocaribe oil scheme, which some lawmakers have advocated as a solution to curb Costa Rica’s rising gasoline prices, during a press conference on Tuesday. The president, however, warned that cheap gas was not necessarily the best thing for the country in the absence of energy efficiency policies.

Some critics of the Petrocaribe proposal have suggested that Costa Rica’s admission into the group would compromise its ability to conduct its foreign affairs independently of Venezuela, which sources the oil and founded the group in 2005. Solís argued Tuesday that it was possible to separate the economic and political implications of the Petrocaribe proposal.

Casa Presidencial has said that there are no plans for Costa Rica to consider joining the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, ALBA, an inter-governmental organization of nine countries founded by Cuba and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. ALBA includes a number of leftist or socialist governments in the Americas, including Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, among them. Admission into the Petrocaribe scheme does not require admission into ALBA.

Petrocaribe is a collection of 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries that buy oil and petroleum products from Venezuela with a mix of cash and credit payments over 25 years with interest. Earlier this month, lawmakers from the leftist Broad Front Party proposed admission into the oil-buying scheme as a way to lower Costa Rica’s fuel costs after Solís shot down a proposal in June from the Public Services Regulatory Authority to cut gasoline taxes, citing the country’s growing deficit.

The Union of Private Sector Chambers and Associations (UCCAEP) released a statement Monday expressing their concern over the proposal, arguing that there were no guarantees that prices would decrease.

“What Venezuela offers are not competitive prices but to pay later for the gas Costa Rica buys today. This would be irresponsible, to pay the bill in the future, which would only delay the problem,” UCCAEP President Ronald Jiménez said in a statement.

Jiménez added that only structural change in the energy sector would address the spike in gasoline prices, reportedly the highest in Central America.

Libertarian Movement Party lawmaker Otto Guevara has jumped on the gas price hikes to push a popular initiative to privatize the National Oil Refinery, RECOPE, a state monopoly. The party began collecting signatures to bring the initiative to the Legislative Assembly on July 14.

Solís said the debate over fuel prices is urgent, but he stopped short of stressing gasoline prices as the ultimate goal of his government’s energy policy.

“The country gains little by halving the price of gasoline if we don’t have the measures to economically use fuels, if we’re not to become a country that gulps petroleum like it were a glass of water, which would be a huge waste for the economy and [do] terrible damage to the environment,” Solís said.

RECOPE has been tasked with preparing a technical and economic analysis of the proposal to join Petrocaribe, which Solís has said will inform the government’s decision. The president said that there is no deadline for the RECOPE report, but he hoped to see it as soon as possible.


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Colin Brownlee

I am glad to see that The solution is not the equivalent of giving poor uneducated people a credit card to solve their financial woes.

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Fernan Arguedas

1- Why the tried gas to Costa Rica? 2- Is recomended tried the gas the Venezuela? 3- Admission Petrocaribe sale de gas to Costa Rica a good price? 4-Is possible union to Costa Rica a Petrocaribe? 5-Is possible to get off the gas in Costa Rica?

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Aitor Xaranga

This is similar to stating that if medical costs were cheaper, people would wildly find ways to sicken themselves!

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Danny Lee Gibson

It is rapidly coming to a point where only the corrupt politicians — attorneys — judges — politicians — and wealthy Costa Ricans can afford to ”live” in their own country” —-!!!!!

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Rick Nelson

Enoch is right, a couple of months ago Astronaut Franklin Chang was on a Discovery show about spave travel and an interesting phrase slipped by: “In the future humans will be returning to Earth to see where they came from, the whole planet will be a National Park”. This exactly what the “elites” are planning, they are counting on voting themselves a ticket on the shuttle of course. It will be lovely for them to return after many years and see how primitive cultures live, like cave-men, how exotic! and how soul-less these god-wannabees are. Imposing misery on the majority for their own entertainment.

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Ken Morris

Good for Solís, who is once again taking the right position: Cheap gas is not in the country’s long-term interest, period.

Petrocaribe and even ALBA are different issues, and probably mostly ideological ones. I see no inherent problem with Costa Rica joining either, depending upon the details, and as we know even Ocsar Arias favored joining Petrocaribe.

However, what’s really going on is that the Frente Amplio is trying to get populist traction out of promoting the view that lefists like Chavez care about “the people” by doing things like selling gas cheaply, and Costa Rica should veer left to reap the same benefits. Mind, this argument is utter nonsense. “The people” in Costa Rica don’t drive, and lower gas prices would have only a tiny effect on bus fares. Meanwhile, lower gas prices would encourage more driving among the affluent, which kills more of “the people” in crashes, prevents them from crossing the streets to their bus stops, and causes them to get sicker and die younger because of the air pollution. “The people” are ultimately harmed by lower gas prices.

But of course this off-base argument from the left just prompts the Libertarians on the right to say that they could get “the people” cheaper gas simply by privatizing the industry. Since “the people” who support the Libertarians are generally affluent and do drive motor vehicles, odds are that at least the right is being more ideologically consistent than the left–at least with their constituency.

However, the rhetoric on both sides is really irrelevant, and the left should be ashamed of itself for creating this political side show. Solís is right: Lower gas prices, even if possible to achieve by either method, are not in the country’s long-term interests. People need to move away from this side show and focus on the problems that the country really faces.

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Ken… I am really saddened by your statements below as they are very common among the ignorance driving the populist movement in Costa Rica:

“Cheap gas is not in the country’s long-term interest, period.”… ““The people” in Costa Rica don’t drive, and lower gas prices would have only a tiny effect on bus fares. Meanwhile, lower gas prices would encourage more driving among the affluent, which kills more of “the people” in crashes, prevents them from crossing the streets to their bus stops, and causes them to get sicker and die younger because of the air pollution. “The people” are ultimately harmed by lower gas prices.”

I hope you get defensive over my statement as it will further show your ignorance and baseless arguments. Rather than criticizing people for buying and driving expensive cars you should thank them for contributing to the local economy and paying their share of overpriced marchamos, sales and gasoline taxes. If these people disappear guess who is going to make up the gap in revenues?

Energy prices touch every part of your life and it’s not just about the cost of bus fares that drive the economy. The price of EVERYTHING you purchase in any nation (not just Costa Rica) is tied directly to fuel prices. High fuel prices mean a high cost of living for EVERYONE…. Especially for the family that lives in a makeshift home that can barely afford to cook and keep the lights turned on at night.

Costa Rica is drowning in super high fuel prices and excessive taxes at every level and now the government has people thinking somehow that high fuel prices are good. Perhaps the solution is to push the price of gasoline, food, televisions, etc. so high that we all park our cars, shut down business, turn off our cell phones and go back to the dark ages.

While high gasoline prices are a huge problem inflating the cost of living in Costa Rica; the import duty and sales tax structure is what is killing the nation’s future economic security.

The populist movement has been tested in various countries around the world and it fails every time. Venezuela is a great case of a populist movement that has resulted in rationing food and basic necessities. Move to Cuba and you will see they even ration the toilet paper. Do your homework and be careful what you support in the name of trying to beat up on what people consider the “ELITE”.

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Colin Brownlee

Thanks Ken. Voices of sanity and common sense are rare., but very refreshing.

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Driving is for the aflluent? Oh yeah buddy, especially since we all drive bentleys. Have you ever even been in CR? Clown. I bet you would rather we just buy all our gas from texas. Somthing you may not know about capitalism, if you cant compete, you get CUT OFF. Fool.

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Rick Nelson

Not only does CR have the highest fuel prices, but also the highest food prices and cost of living in general. The government’s most common excuse for not improving education, services, security, infrastructure and on and on is “we don’t have the resources”. The question is WHY do we not have the resources. The answer is because CR choose to not use the mineral resources in its’ subsoil. Proudly leading the country into lack and poverty they say “we will not explore for oil or natural gas or metals…or..!
Now there is no Cold War and nobody cares whether we lean to the left or to the right, other nations are taking care of their own and refusing to help free-loader countries like CR which choose to remain underdeveloped.

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Colin Brownlee

So Rick, if all people want is cheaper, then why is Costa Rica the United States of Central America. Last time I checked there was a huge demand from Nicaraguans wanting to work and live in Costa Rica. I do not see Nicaragua having to deal with an influx of Costa Ricans looking for cheaper gas and food.

Even Panama and Colombia is dealing with a huge influx of Venezuelans wanting a better life.

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HA.well mabye if you liberal gringos would quit trying to turn this country into a fucking national park, we would have no problem accessing our natural resources. Just because you turned new england into a wharehouse you think you can come to someone else’s country and somehow make up for it. Pathetic.

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Expect protests soon if Gas price go up. I would join Alba or Petrocaribe. Costa Rican are getting pissed off about high gas prices. Do something PAC goverment or expect massive protests

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