Costa Rica And India, Friends In And Friends Of Democracy

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Jeffrey Arguedas/European Pressphoto Agency

I was rushing through an airport recently, in transit between one workplace and another, when the man in the picture above walked past me and our eyes connected; we both stopped.  We were not in his country or mine. There was no reason for him to remember who I was, but I had good reason to greet him with “Mr President, you are looking well.” The man has not seemed to age a day since I first met him nearly 20 years ago.

To my astonishment, he recognized me and reminded me that our last meeting was in his office in Costa Rica with a group of conservation-oriented investors interested in that little country’s commitments to its national park system. Oscar Arias played an important role, as President nearly three decades ago, and then again as President in the last decade, innovating a more sustainable future for the national park system, and these investors were interested to hear his views.

Lest anyone misinterpret this as an exercise in name-dropping, my point in mentioning this is very much the opposite. Costa Rica, to use a great metaphor from an otherwise not great sport, “punches above its weight class” in conservation, in health indicators, in education, and even in happiness.

This explains its success in attracting foreign direct investment, and makes all the more remarkable that a Nobel laureate who has twice been president of Costa Rica is approachable and friendly, generous with his time. It is the Costa Rican way, without regard to status. He has time to say hello to a random gringo in an airport. He has time to come to India to say hello to the 15o million new voters (added to the hundreds of millions of experienced voters) engaged in the current exercise of the world’s largest democracy:

Lessons for the Largest Democracy From a Much Smaller One

One thought on “Costa Rica And India, Friends In And Friends Of Democracy

  1. Pingback: Costa Rican Wildlife Saving Under-vacationed Americans | Raxa Collective

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