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The Craziness Called Cuba!

Rico

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La Habana (Havana), Cuba

La Habana (Havana), Cuba

TICO BULL – As the U.S. and Cuba move to normalize relations and the dawning of a new era for the Cold War foes, I realize many don’t know much about Cuba.

I’ve been there a couple of times. So I found it curious when I landed on this list of absurd prohibitions in Cuba, reminding me of my visits to the country, more than a decade ago and the stories of some of my Cuban friends in Costa Rica.

The list was prepared by Cuban blogger Yusnaby Pérez, living in La Habana and published on her blog. I did my best to translate it in a way we can all understand, the words at least.

Some of the most absurd prohibitions in Cuba (from Yusnaby.com):

1. Cubans are forbidden to access the internet in their home or cellular phones
2. Operate tourist boats
3. Contract cable television services
4. Living in the city of Havana without permission
5. Manifest
6. Have dual citizenship
7. Invest in medium and large businesses
8. Import wireless microphones, walkie talkies and satellite communications equipment
9. Political parties are prohibited
10. Kill a cow. (Beef is exclusively for tourist consumption)
11. Invite a foreigner to spend the night in their home
12. Sell lobster or shrimp
13. Be outside of Cuba for more than 2 years
14. Give a foreigner a ride in a private vehicle
15. Educate their children alternatively to the state system
16. Bring in the country more than 25 false nails
17. Get private medical attention
18. Bring donations to Cuba
19. Belong to an independent workers union
20. Criticize government leaders
21. Transport food from one province to another
22. Return to live in Cuba after emigrating
23. Organize any sport or artistic performance without government permission
24. Private media communications
25. Distribute information from US government agencies or private entities

I suggest you use the Google translator for the details Yusnaby gives with each prohibition, The comments posted on her blog are really interesting as well.

"In my spare time I'm a really nice guy!" RICO is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! Rico brings his special kind of savvy to online marketing. His websites are engaging, provocative, informative and sometimes off the wall, where you either like or you leave it. The same goes for him, like him or leave him.There is no middle ground. No compromises, only a passion to present reality as he sees it!

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Bull Radar

What prevents Costa Rica from having a better road infrastructure?

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Rico’s TICO BULL – I am an avid reader of Quora, a platform to ask questions and connect with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers. Quora, for me, is a place I go to gain and sometimes share knowledge.

Costa Rica is a popular topic on Quora. More than not interesting questions on Costa Rica come up. Like this one, What prevents Costa Rica from having better road infrastructure?

Currently, there are four answers to the question.

Fernando Madrigal Hidalgo, who lives in Costa Rica, answered:

“Hi I think it is bit of law mess (to expropriate takes years), also money limitations, Costa Rica is a small country that invest a lot in health and education, this limits government expending range. And the most important cause I guess is .. politicians, loans have to be approved by our “senate”, and this is almost impossible as political parties love to interfere with nation advance (very personal opinion).”

Xavier de Medici, High Profile Interior Designer, answered:

“Actually, I was just there and the roads, especially the highways were in pretty good condition and they are continuing to build more highways, I saw a lot of construction. What it used to take 6 hrs, you can do in 2 ( San Jose+ Manuel Antonio) it’s a developing country, but, you can see the progress they are doing.”

Enrique Segura, who lived in Costa Rica (1993-2015), answered:

“This is a hard question. I am inclined to say it’s a factor of government planning and government transparency. But I haven’t lived there since I was 15. So, I wouldn’t know.”

Natalie Jones‘ answer was short: “Money and weather.”

What’s my answer?

Political will.

The other day, evening actually, I got a different perspective on the roads of the Greater Metropolitan Area or GAM, in particular, the Autopista General Cañas – Cirncunvalacion – Ruta 27 from the Juan Santamaria (airport) to Escazu hotels.

My passenger, who had just arrived with his group on a private plane commented, “Costa Rica has great roads”.

Related: The Most Dangerous Roads In Costa Rica

You know what, he was right. I had not seen the changes on this route, in particular, the newly repaved, illuminated (I think) and lines on the Circunvalacion, in that way. It was at night and there was no traffic.

For the most part, I, like many others, are too busy negotiating the congestion during the day we miss appreciating the changes. Again I stress it was at night and even the Juan Pablo II bridge looked great, that is not so much in daylight.

To make my point I look to the “platina” bridge. I took three administrations to get the bridge over the Virilla river on the General Cañas to get it done. The problems began in 2009, it wasn’t in second half of the current government and the outcry of the tens of thousands of drivers to get the Solis Rivera administration moving.

It inconvenienced us for months on months that seemed to have no end. We found alternate routes, we endured congestion in some points (due to lack of infrastructure). We endured. Today the platina is a class act.

However, it doesn’t mean the General Cañas is done, there still are two major bottlenecks that need to be resolved, the Rio Segundo bridge and the Juan Pablo II bridge.

The Cirunvalacion is getting its north end connection, way too late, as the road needs a complete overhaul – like more lanes and no stoplights – even with the elimination of most of the rotondas.

The Ruta 27 was outdated even before it opened 8 years ago.

Again, the current road infrastructure is a mess due the lack of political will of past and current governments to do what needed to be done. Will the incoming government be any better? I would like to think so, but…

What’s your answer?

Use the comments section below or our official Facebook page to post your answers and comments.

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Bull Radar

The Party’s Over!

The poll by the ice cream vendor, Los Paleteros, was the only poll that was spot on.

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Rico’s TICO BULL – In less than two hours after the voting, it was clear that Fabricio Alvarado was not going to be, to the relief of many, the next President.

Despite the polls, the poll by the ice cream vendor, Los Paleteros, was spot on. The results were based on consumer prefernce of a CHURCHI PAC OR CHURCHI PRN.

Despite the polls, the rhetoric, the support of Evangelical ministers and followers, lots of money thrown at a hard-fought campaign, the people of Costa Rica decided, Presidente Fabricio Alvarado would not be.

Their choice was clear. Carlos Alvarado was their President, the man who would solve the problems facing the country: a fast-growing fiscal deficit, poverty, unemployment,  and road infrastructure, etc.

The last cut on election day. The final numbers will be available later this week after a manual count of all votes that begins on Tuesday

So what happened?

In my opinion, the voters in Costa Rica made it clear religion and politics don’t mix. It got people scared, so scared that many did the unthinkable, cut their Semana Santa vacation early to get back to the city to vote, resulting in the lowest absenteeism on record.

Anyone who has lived or visited Costa Rica will know that vacation time is sacred. I happened to be in the CIMA hospital ward (working) early Saturday morning and commented to the nursing staff of only 8 patients in a 36 room third floor. “Just wait to Monday, people don’ get sick during the holidays, but the day after,” nurse Furlana (not to use her real name) told me.

More people voted on Sunday than ever before. In fact, Don Carlos may even surpass his Luis Guillermo Solis’ record votes. The final numbers aren’t in, Don Carlos is close to breaking that record, we won’t know until at least next week when all the votes are counted. And that is a feat in itself since Don Luis Guillermo’s record was without an opponent.

Fabricio Alvarado

Was he, Don Fabricio, overconfident? Perhaps.

Anyone following the politicking this past couple of weeks saw a man overconfident of what was to be, a man who, in my opinion, and that of others, thought he had might on his side and could not lose. He was going to be the next President. He was sure of it. And so were his supporters.

So did the polls.

CID-Gallop, Opol Consultores, the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and others all had Don Fabricio ahead of Don Carlos. Not by much, but still ahead enough to give Don Fabricio and his supporters the belief he would be giving his acceptance speech instead of announcing his defeat come Sunday night.

Watching Don Fabricio in public speaking brought my thoughts to the Evangelical ministers on television, arms in the air, overly excited of their message, sweating profusely while looking up in the heavens and so on. A showman. Totally in contrast to the slow speaking Don Carlos and his direct message. One line that stayed with me during the last few days was, “I promised my mother (…)”.

One had it right. A vendor of ice cream, the Los Paleteros, had the results spot on, even to the percentages.

They had created two ‘paletas’ ice cream treats: the CHURCHI PAC and CHURCHI PRN Based on customer preferences, the Los Paleteros predicted the PAC would win with 60% of the vote, and the PRN with 40%.

Could it have been Don Fabricio’s stand on same-sex marriage?

Perhaps.

Some countries in the region — including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Uruguay — have legalized same-sex marriage. The Inter-American Court on Human Rights (based in San Jose, Costa Rica) ruled in January (days before the Feb. 4 election) obligating Costa Rica to same-sex marriages.

Don Fabricio seized on this. His stance against same-sex marriage had him winning the February 4 election with almost 25% of the vote, but it was short of the required 40% to take the presidency.

During the weeks leading up to the run-off election, Don Fabricio backpedaled his stance. The threat to remove Costa Rica from the Inter-American Court’s authority should he be elected. He also softened his stance on “gender ideology”, what he called the “secular state”, and his vow to eliminate sex education in schools.

Election Day

It was interesting to watch the Sunday morning interview on Teletica channel 7, Don Fabricio being interviewed by the weekly noon news anchor, Marcelo Castro, who has said openly that he is gay.

This is where I knew Don Fabricio was done for the day, when to Marcelo’s surprise, he went soft on the last question on the future of gay rights in the country. I swear I could see in Don Marcelo’s face a ready fight. The interview ended quietly.

My Prediction

For days I had been asked of who would win. My answer was Carlos Alvarado, but by a very low margin, maybe even only a few votes.

That conviction was confirmed in my travels around the west side of the San Jose Sunday morning, where cars with flags, horns honking (I even joined in some that of honking, hey I had just installed a new pito (horn) on my classic FJ-40 Landcruiser and people on the side of the road with flags waving, cheering on passersby.

All the flags and honking was for the PAC. Not a single PRN. Maybe I wasn’t looking, as my wife clearly pointed out. Maybe. But, by the afternoon, an hour ahead of the end of voting, on a trip to the local grocery store, the majority of the flags were PRN. But there was no honking.

After the polls closed, at 8:00 p.m, where we got the first glimpse of what was to be, my surprise was not in Don Carlos winning, but by the majority.

Respect, Tolerance, Democracy and just plain common sense won the day.

What’s Next?

But don’t rule out Don Fabricio and his Restauracion Nacional party. The PRN won 14 of the 57 seats in the Legislative Assembly on February 4, the PAC with 10, the PUSC with 9 and the PLN with 17 (their lowest ever). The rest went to various parties. See infograph below.

Infographics by By DrRandomFactor – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67717034

The PAC has only . This means that Don Carlos, if is to get anything done during the next four years will have to compromise, wheel and deal, negotiate, re-negotiate and them some.

Move the numbers around a bit, but not much different than what we’ve had for the last four years.

Until the next party in 2022.

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Bull Radar

Otto Guevara, The Perennial Presidential Wannabe Considering A New Political Party

Rico

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Rico’s TICO BULL – Otto Guevara, legislator, leader of the Partido Movimiento Libertario (ML) party and perennial presidential candidate (let’s see he’s run, unsuccessfully, every four years since 2002), says he is at the disposal of Fabricio Alvarado, presidential candidate for the Partido National Restoration (PRN).

Otto Guevara, the perennial presidential candidate since 2002 says is considering a new political party for the 2022 election cycle, but is willing to help out Fabricio Alvarado, if he called to serve, but not in a civil service job. Photo Gerson Vargas/La República 

The politician says he is not looking for a position in the civil service, but if Alvarado wins the election on Sunday, April 1, and offers him a position, he would evaluate it.

“Everything depends if Fabricio considers that I can help him with something. Obviously, the position would have to be something in which I feel suitability and desire to participate. I understand that he wants a government of national unity and I could be there,” said Guevara.

However, this does not mean that he is going to wait to be offered a position, since he says he has a plan “A, B, and even C”. He didn’t say which, if A, B or C would be Fabricio’s offer.

But I can bet the colones that his Plan A is forming a new political party. That was the word on Thursday when he explained one of the options would be the formation of a new liberal political party, with a view to the creation of a national coalition.

Sounds good. But, founding a new party for the 2022 election cycle and ditching the party he found 20 years ago, if you were paying attention that would the ML, would not only give Otto a fresh start, it would also mean the disappearance more than ¢2 billion colones of debt that the ML party has with banks and various suppliers.

You see, in this last election, the ML gets nothing from the State. In the 2018 elections of first-round voting on February 4, Guevara obtained only 1.2% of the votes, thus not qualifying for election funding.

The 2018 results are also a huge drop from the 11.34% in 2014 and 20.83% in 2010. In 2006 Guevara got 8.5% of the vote, down from the 26.2% in 2002.

This – ditching the party and stiffing the banks and suppliers – is all legal under Costa Rica’s Código Electoral and the Constitución Política (Electoral Code and the Political Constitution), a code that empowers Guevara to found a new party, while the commercial regulations would place the liabilities of the ML as “uncollectible”. One of the debtors is Guevara himself, who says his party owes him some ¢500 million colones.

“There are several options, such as continuing with the game, registering a new group or having the Liberals go to another party. Personally, I am inclined to form a new political project, which is fast and flexible, since in about six months everything would be ready,” Guevara told La Republica.

The financial disaster

The political parties in Costa Rica are financed basically with the political debt, which is a State contribution tending to encourage political activity, however, it is only granted to those who achieve 4% of the valid votes for president, or to those who choose at least one deputy. In 2018, the ML did not achieve any of those two conditions.

According to the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones (TSE), the ML received ¢799 million colones in 2006, ¢2.445 billion in 2010 and ¢1.775 billion in 2014. No numbers were available for 2002.

That’s a lot of TICO BULL.

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