Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Costa Rica's Plaza de la Democracía Controversy
During my most recent visit to Costa Rica in January, I was delighted to see work had started on remodeling the unkempt and ugly Plaza de la Democracía. Laid out in 1989 to receive presidents attending the Hemispheric Summit, the tree-shaded plaza beneath the crenelated Bellavista Fortress gradually became a neglected eyesore.
Meanwhile, in 1995 the artesans' market formerly occupying the Plaza de la Cultura was relocated here, where is has since occupied Calle 13 bis, on the western side of 'Democracy Square.'
Recently, the Óscar Arias administration announced that the market would be shut down. The vendors, who sell primarily to tourists, then initiated a protest outside the Casa Presidencial–Costa Rica's 'White House.' Lawmakers prepared a bill that would have granted tenure to the vendors. But last week word got out that Arias has vetoed the bill.
It so happens that Arias, the two-term president and former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has a conflict of interest. His tiny (and little-visited) Museo de Paz, or Museum of Peace, adjoins the artesans' market. The Fundación Arias para la Paz seeks to expand the museum, which is dedicated to regional peace efforts (especially Arias' lead-actor role; his Nobel Peace Prize and other awards are displayed) and use the space occupied by the market for a parking lot. It's all part of an elaborate plan to remodel the area.