Dear Puzzled of Honolulu….

Unaccustomed as I am to the role of Agony Aunt, doling out sympathy to Distracted of Devizes, a blast from the hosepipe directed at the vitals of Lustful of Lostwithiel or suggestions of a good book and a bus pass for Bored of Balham (and wouldn’t you be if you lived there) I felt that I could not ignore your predicament as set forth in your post of today’s date: Wacky Wednesday Walk.

With all the sophistication to be expected of an experienced ‘flaneur’ of the K Streets of Honolulu you can take in your stride the notion of three young male singers being labelled as ‘The Three Fruits’, an internet cafe which forbids potential clients from trespassing on its premises and the delights of a Japanese discount store where it seems that live octopus have taken possession of a range of televisions….but surfing in Paris was a step too far.

You have doubts as to the viability of such a project…somehow you do not see in your mind’s eye lightly clad surfers mounting the waves of the Seine in the wake of the bateau-mouches under the eye of the gargoyles of Notre Dame de Paris…

You are right to have doubts. Despite the efforts of the city authorities to persuade people that Paris is actually on the sea by dumping tons of sand along the river bank in summer so that right thinking eco warriors can fall off their bikes while ogling the sunbathers, surfing is not a recommended activity…indeed, until a set of norms are invented for it, it is a forbidden activity, French law running on the principle that if something is not clearly permitted (within the limits of the six volumes of norms annexed) then it is forbidden.

Being forbidden, the producers of the tee shirt exhibited to public gaze in a shop in Honolulu should be careful not to step foot in France….
Incitement to upset the fabric of French society by encouraging surfing on the Seine will be viewed with severity, and, given the state of the public deficit, probably punished by a fine equivalent to at least one percent of the Gross Domestic Product, currently running at several leaky nuclear power stations and a few striped jerseys.

Situated as I am at this moment, on a balcony in the Costa Rican countryside wondering whether plunging my feet into a bowl of mango pulp would be effective in removing hard skin from my big toe I am unable to respond to your request for information on surfing conditions in Paris….but I trust to the goodwill of those kind enough to follow this blog to link to yours at Within the K Streets and give you the information you seek.
Though thinking of some of them and their sense of humour…naming no names, Adullamite… you might well be advised to check before use.

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From One Market to Another

harlemfoodlocal.com

harlemfoodlocal.com

I had come home from shopping in San Jose…and was glad to offload the two heavy canvas bags whose contents had survived the hour’s run in a hot bus.
I enjoy poking about in the two main markets, the Central and the Borbon and go to my favourite shops where by now, like the other customers, I am included in the jokes and the teasing that dart across the stalls and today, just after the election results, the discussions.

Here, Jorge, shouts the butcher in the Borbon, here’s a gringa that likes our new president!
Can’t be a gringa, then, replies Luis who sells hot peppers.
She’s not a proper gringa, bellows Jorge on the greenstuff stall. She’s from England!
Scotland, shouts Henry from the petfood stand, making what I now know to be his imitation of bagpipe music….which, curtailed as his eldritch shrieks might be, inevitably brings to mind the title of the pibroch ‘Too long in this condition’…

Things are quieter over in the Central where I buy my coffee at the Moka stand just inside the backstreet entrance.
There are better known coffee brands…particularly one which controls the airport shopping lounges and has the tourist tours pretty well sewn up…but for me the best coffee on general sale is to be found on this little stand at the quiet end of the market.
I know the men serving there by now; we enquire as to each others families…and, of course, today, we discuss the election results as with other customers I drink a coffee while waiting for my order to be to be ground and bagged.

journeytotheperfectcup.blog

journeytotheperfectcup.blog

For ‘normal’ coffee,made in the chorreador (sock) I buy Poas suave…grown on the slopes around volcano Poas north of San Jose….but as I have just been presented with a new gadget – an expresso and cappuccino maker – and have learnt how to use it without either blowing it up or scalding myself I asked for advice on the best coffee to use and returned home with a bag of Caracolillo, or Peaberry, coffee…beans which, instead of splitting into two as do normal coffee beans, remain unitary and are supposed to roast more evenly.
We shall see.

Recounting my morning over lunch, my husband said it reminded him of his days on the floor of the London Stock Exchange…when it still had a floor, and a wooden one at that.
The atmosphere was, he said, that of a real market….people you saw every day in the same place, jokes that built up, nicknames, daft pranks…before, as he gloomily added, they let women in and ruined it all.

stockexchangeHe had had no wish whatsoever to work on the Stock Exchange…or anywhere else for that matter.
He was, at that time, a student in Madrid having been sent there so as not to be under the feet of his father’s mistress and was having a whale of a time: the days in the Prado, the nights touring the bars in the company of the son of Franco’s chief of police.

But the mistress produced a baby whose imitations of the pipes put an end to the romantic idyll and, mistress and child gone, the father called his son back to the roost….he had to have someone to collect the rents on his property….thus ending the Madrid idyll as well.

Father then saw an advertisement seeking to recruit a trainee stockbroker: whoopee, with a son on the market he could gamble on shares without paying commission…and the die was cast.
Leo went to the Stock Exchange, where his employers promptly decided that ‘Leopold’ was too foreign a name and called him Paul.

It was a world to itself….no mobile ‘phones in those days. If you were on the floor and your office wanted to contact you they ‘phoned the waiter – a proper waiter – who worked on the entrance which your office used and he would flash up your number in lights on a board to alert you.

You fulfilled your clients’ orders by walking the floor and talking to the jobber who ran the book in the shares in which you were interested, playing a game of guess as to whether you were buying or selling, trying to get the best deal….you learned how to trade shares in a dead market…you learned who the dodgy dealers were and how they got away with it…you learned the nicknames – the Weasel, Mr. Round and Round…

He became very good at his job, enjoyed the challenges…but he says that what he enjoyed most was the sidelines of work…
Exploring the City in his lunch break, finding little tucked away caffs in the roof of Leadenhall Market, walking through double doors to find himself in a street between two office blocks that led to another street….and another…a complete maze.
And he enjoyed the people…not, on the whole, the Eastenders nor those who spent their time in the pub until summoned by their juniors to do a bit of work, but those who treated the place as somewhere to pass the time from more important matters, as exemplified by a friend of his who ran the smallest brokerage firm in the business but whose passion was frogs.
Word had it that if you were married to a wife like his you could understand his preferences, but be that as it may, this gentleman would collect frogspawn in his garden in Harrow and, in the season, solemnly bring in jars of the same for his colleagues to distribute around their bijou Surrey residences.

Then there were the pranksters, who would set fire to your Financial Times as you had it spread out in front of you…who would fill up their water pistols in the loos and let rip on the floor…even at the top hatted brokers in gilt edged stocks…and the elderly gentlemen who would while away quiet moments by fashioning aircraft from sheets of paper and attempting to launch them into the dome with the aid of rubber bands.
Successful attempts would see the fragile craft circling for weeks on the air currents.

Those were the days when your word was expected to be your bond…and when brokerage firms had to assume their own liabilities. Go bust and the firm was ‘hammered’.
Everyone was called to the floor and a waiter would tap with his gavel and announce that the firm of So and So was no longer trading.
It was a solemn moment, and one to give rise to second thoughts in those contemplating risky dealings.
No banks trading then on on their own behalf…no tax payers’ bailouts when they got it spectacularly wrong…no one was too big to fail.

He wasn’t around to see the Big Bang which swept away the working world he had known…he had had a final row with his father, obtained a mortgage on a wreck of a house which he restored and sold and decided that, as he could never afford to be a partner, there was no future in working all his life for others.
A series of events unrelated to work decided him…he packed it all in and set up his own business….but when he talks about that, his eyes don’t shine as they do when he talks about his days on the floor of the London Stock Exchange.

Which may explain why he always comes back laden with bargains when he does the shopping in the Borbon and the Central….

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Filed under Costa Rica, culture, memories, shopping

Is it time for the quiet revolution?

Helen Devries:

Blogging is both a small and a big world….we ‘meet’ other people, hear what is on their mind and it starts us thinking – and acting together.

I found this post from Lindsay really inspirational and have her permission to reblog it here.

I think it might well strike a chord with those of you kind enough to comment here…she starts by talking about her village in France and expands lessons learned there to the large scale.

Originally posted on Life and the Lot:

I am tired by the turbulence and unsettled by the political jostlings. I am unsure where the final rounds of voting in the local elections in France on Sunday will leave us all.

Will this be a new dawn for local politics where there will be openness, transparency and accountability? Will future projects be relevant and undertaken after thorough and sound research and public consultation? Will decisions be made based on the best interests of most people with vested interests eschewed? Might there be imaginative solutions and risk taking and daring to deviate from the well trodden path of ‘we don’t do it like that here’?  Are the talents and energies of interested, local people likely to be harnessed for the greater good of all?

In the village where I live, I watch and wait to see. Benefit and doubt etc. But I won’t be holding my breath.

The ‘Puppet…

View original 2,223 more words

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Legal…Eagles?

legal eagleThe Neighbour has been in court again.
With yet another lawyer at his side.
Not the one who came to see me about this time last year to tell me to back off, but a rather more down market specimen, decidedly sub fusc alongside his client who was resplendent in smartly ironed shirt and jeans, sporting his crisp white hat with a curly brim in honour of the occasion.

The lawyer was there to defend The Neighbour in a preliminary hearing to see whether the Fiscalia (prosecuting service) would succeed in their bid to put him in front of a penal court in respect of his non respect of the law…..to wit, insulting, threatening and attacking people who had been granted protection orders prohibiting him from insulting, threatening and attacking them.

The behind the scenes cross and jostle work to replace the local prosecutor seems to have failed – in which case the owner of the hotel which caught fire last year resulting in multiple deaths might have cause to worry – and The Neighbour had been summoned to court to explain why, in his view, matters should go no further.

Perhaps made wiser by previous experience he elected to let his lawyer present his case, which was, reduced to its essence, that whatever it was he hadn’t done it and if he had done it it must have been when he was angry and anyway he wasn’t doing it now but he would be quite happy to be reconciled with everyone as he was a reasonable man and so there was no need to go to a penal court unless those who had complained to the Fiscalia had no respect for Christian principles.

It wasn’t as exciting as in the days when he took things into his own hands in court, and it took considerably longer than his old bravura performances, but at least the judge and his opponents felt safe from having violent hands laid upon them.

His opponents satisfied themselves with stating that in their view he should go before a penal court as he had respect neither for them nor for the law.

This was a step too far for The Neighbour.
With all his old brio he leapt to his feet, brushing aside his lawyer’s restraining hand and bawling that it was all lies and that he had witnesses…lots of witnesses…..important witnesses…..that he…he, you understand…was the victim.
The effect was enhanced by the black eye and swollen nose he was sporting after an encounter with a gentleman whose wife he had made the subject of insulting remarks earlier in the week, both eye and nose seeming to glow with the strength of his passionate outburst.

As his lawyer pulled him down into his seat the judge said pleasantly

Well, you can bring your witnesses into the penal court when the time comes.

And that was that.
The Neighbour and his lawyer departed in a cloud of mutual recrimination and everyone else went home.

I went to see our own lawyer, who had told me that I did not need him for this stage, to recount events.

But his lawyer missed the point, he said. It was nothing to do with what he did or didn’t do….he’s already been found guilty in court on all the claims the Fiscalia brought forward.
It’s about contempt of court…he’s done what the courts told him not to do…and been caught.
He can bring all the witnesses he likes….and the judge will hear them very courteously….but he’s had it.
He’s for the high jump.

So did his lawyer really misunderstand, or was it that he found it preferable to take his client’s instructions?
Given the Neighbour’s propensity for violence, it may well have been the latter…..I gather that he has assaulted his own lawyers before now and uniformly fails to pay them on the grounds that they have let him down in court even when he has been at pains to make available ready bribed witnesses.
What sort of a lawyer is it, he seeks to know, who can lose a case when his client has done all the groundwork for him?

La Nacion Costa Rica

La Nacion Costa Rica

Some other people will be wondering too, what sort of lawyer they had.
In 2009, the cables holding up a suspension bridge over the River Tarcoles gave way.
A bus which was on the bridge at the time fell into the waters below: five of the passengers died and thirty six were injured.

Two years later, the Fiscalia decided to bring charges against the bus driver and three officials of the Public Works Ministry…and the lawyer for the families prepared his case for the penal court.
Nearly three years after that the case came to court – in our local court – where the judge decided not only that no responsibility could be attached to the accused….yes, the poor state of the bridge was known, but a weight limit notice was clearly visible at the entrance to it…but also that he could not, in consequence, award compensation to the families of the victims.

Outrage, both locally and in the comment columns of the press….one law for the rich, another for the poor: millions in compensation for a private company deprived of a road building contract awarded in dubious circumstance, nothing for people struggling to help their family’s kids through education, to support elderly relatives.

The judge suggested that the path to compensation would have been to have taken the case to the administrative courts….logically enough, as the condition of the bridge was the responsibility of the state….but that it was now too late.
The parties had had four years in which to bring their case….four years which expired six months ago.

Carried away by the public scandal of the lack of maintenance of roads and bridges – particularly in rural areas – the lawyer had gone for the wrong court….and, with all respect to his clients, I doubt that they would have instructed him to do so had he not suggested that course of action.

Clearly this raises the usual questions of justice…which is what people expect…and law, which is what they receive and which only reflects justice in so far as groups promoting justice have been able to influence the executive, whether parliament, national assembly or whatever else, to enact just legislation.
Otherwise law reflects the interests of other groups able to influence the executive….interests which might well be perceived as most unjust indeed.

But it also raises the question of the responsibility of lawyers…of any professional providing specialist services to the public.

Anyone can get things wrong….anyone can, with the best will in the world, drop a clanger.
But there are some clangers which will resound in the lives of the clients involved for years to come….and this is one of them.

You can be as outraged as you please with the blatant neglect of the affairs of the rural poor….but you don’t help the rural poor by your indignation…you help them by going for the right remedy in the right court.

Otherwise you are about as much use as a feature writer on ‘The Guardian’…gaining points at your dinner parties of right thinking – or should that be left thinking – friends, and about as much use to the people you claim to speak for as a snowball in hell.

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Filed under Costa Rica, inequality before the law, law, legal systems

It Would Drive You Bananas

iwishiwasindixie.com

iwishiwasindixie.com

Dragging what is laughingly called a hand of bananas down to the house, risking not only a hernia but also indelible latex stains on a clean top from the freshly cut stem I asked myself what else I expected….I had, after all, come to live in a banana republic.

And I can imagine that when I honk on about Costa Rican politics on this blog there are those who might well ask what else I had expected when moving to a banana republic with my eyes wide open.

I have to say that nothing so far has come as too much of a shock…but then before moving here I had had a masterclass in the mores of banana republics: I had lived in la belle France for over twenty years, under the reigns of Mitterand, Chirac and Sarkozy – and my friends in France keep me up to date on the doings of the latest incumbent, the Lesser Helmeted Hollandouille.

Now, while I suspect that years of contagion from the European Union has rendered the U.K. just about as corrupt as France, when I crossed the channel the process of turning a crafty private penny from public resources was in its infancy, so France came as quite a surprise.

Didier, done for having a defective rear light on his farm trailer, went to see an insurance agent who was the fixer for the local senator.
Didier undone for having a defective rear light on his farm trailer.

A neighbour’s son had lost points on his licence after driving under the influence and being tactless enough to run his car into the ditch in the presence of a gendarmerie van.
His father went to see someone at the court bearing an envelope and the points loss, awarded in court, never appeared on his record.

A maire managed, by the use of several shell companies, to buy a building belonging to his commune for a price below that offered the commune by a private buyer.

A retired senator had borrowed an enormous amount of money from the regional Credit Agricole bank, to finance the acquisition of property on the Cote d’Azur and the Ile de Re – neither area known for property bargains.
By way of security he offered some bonds…which were kept in his own safe deposit box at the local branch until the day when he walked in and removed them without a word being said on the part of the bank.

Mitterand brought about the process of decentralisation of government…by which more faces could be brought to feed at the publicly funded trough….and later Presidents extended the process, or trough, as often as needed.

But should one trough not suffice you could feed from several.

As maire of your commune, town or city you drew money related to the number of citizens you ‘represented’.
But you could also be a departmental councillor…for more dosh….and a member of the National Assembly for even more dosh and until relatively recently you could be paid for all these at the same time, and, in addition have an expenses allowance which was never checked….let alone an allowance for staff which enabled you to pay your wife for polishing her nails…and in some cases an official residence and a chauffeur driven car.

Needless to say, the egos became inflated.
The top dogs and their families were untouchable.

A chap whose car was damaged by Sarkozy’s son’s scooter found that a simple insurance job landed him with being accused of making a malicious prosecution….and he narrowly escaped a two thousand euro fine…; the Sarkozy family lawyer had even ‘phoned the chap’s insurance company to extract information by pretending to be the chap’s own lawyer.

But the top dogs fall out….usually at a handover of power, when the appointments made by Party A are joyously unmade by Party B and party A’s henchmen scramble for the seats on the magic roundabout of the well connected in France – the jobs in business which are at the disposal of the temporarily dispossessed party.

And it can prove nasty…..and is proving nasty for ex-President Sarkozy.

Escaping from charges of taking financial advantage of a senile old bat who was heir to the Oreal fortune, he applied to have his diaries, which were seized during the investigation, returned to him as he was worried that they might be used in other investigations involving him….a state pay out to a well known financial crook, and two little problems of campaign financing from dubious sources….one Pakistani and one Libyan.

He was quite hopeful…he had inside help at the court.
A well placed judge who thought he could talk his colleagues into seeing things the Sarkozy way in return for Sarkozy’s help in getting him a well paid retirement job in Monaco.
His lawyer thought it was a done deal…unless, as he said, they took a decision based on the law…

He was not only hopeful, he was cautious.
Suspecting, rightly, that his ‘phones were tapped, he got his lawyer to buy a mobile ‘pone in an assumed name – not so easy in France where they seem to want ID to go to the loo let alone buy a ‘phone – but no obstacle for this lawyer…the same who impersonated an opponent’s lawyer in the Sarkozy scooter case.

Unfortunately though, the judge investigating his little problems got wind of the mobile ‘phone and had that tapped too with the result that he now faces further charges of perverting the course of justice…..and the chase is on for the ‘sleepers’ he left in place when he left office.

So when, in Costa Rica, I hear that the candidate who wasn’t a candidate has become a candidate again…or that ballot papers for the second round of the Presidential election have been found in the street….that the warehouse where they were stored is owned by a company whose boss is a second cousin once removed of the President of the Election Tribunal, under a contract which does not meet standards of government transparency and which obliges the Election Tribunal to pay for all the services available at the warehouse in addition to the rent….I am not surprised.
Nor am I surprised when a Vice President of the Election Tribunal says that the newspaper which published the details should be sued.

I just think:

How French.

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Filed under Costa Rica, france, politics

The ‘Phone Call

powerisastateofmind.blogspot

powerisastateofmind.blogspot


Friday morning for me in Costa Rica, Friday afternoon for my mother in England.
Time to call her for her shopping list.

She used to have a shopper, but when she retired and handed over to a younger woman mother could not get along with things.
Items would not be bought…didn’t have any….the sell by dates could be as close as the next day….oh, it’ll be all right…or some cheaper alternative would be provided…that’s the brand my kids prefer…

So now I call her on Skype, she gives me her shopping list and I go on line to Tesco and make the order which will be delivered to the door a week later.
Thus she doesn’t have to carry anything heavy and doesn’t have to go out at all if the weather is inclement.

So, the nine o’clock coffee out of the way I wind up Skype.

The ringing tone is answered promptly and my heart sinks as a suspicious voice asks

Who is it?

Glory be, mother’s friend Adolpha, over eighty and hard of hearing, has collared the ‘phone.

I tell her it is me and I’m calling to get mother’s Tesco list.

Fatal error. I hear her saying to mother

There’s some woman here from Tesco trying to sell you something.

As I am about to bellow a correction down the ‘phone in the hope that mother can hear it at the other side of the room, Luzmilla – Friday is cleaning day – comes in from the balcony shooing a dog before her. Volubly.

At the other side of the world Adolpha adds

Some foreign woman.

Seeing I am on Skype and assuming that I am talking to my mother Luzmilla shrieks a greeting into the laptop.

Sounds hysterical!

I suppose they have to meet targets, says mother’s voice.

Plenty of English people would like those jobs replies Adolpha, herself from Austria. It’s a disgrace and she doesn’t even speak English!
Now look here, whoever you are….

At this point I manage to get her to understand that it is me on the line…

Well why didn’t you say so!
Here, it’s your daughter.

We get down to brass tacks and mother is just wondering whether to change her brand of tea bags when Monty the lamb, unable to find Leo and in need of milk, nudges me sharply on the arm and bleats loudly.

What on earth was that?

Monty.

That doesn’t sound like a lamb….too loud.

Luzmilla, who fed Monty on her lap when he was tiny and adores him, tells me she will heat the milk while I’m on the ‘phone and as Monty bleats again as he sees the fridge door opening she replies with a bleat of her own.

More like a camel…No, I think I’ll stick to the same ones…Now, meat…

We set off again while Monty is fed and Luzmilla moves off into the bedrooms, her progress marked by the banging of the broom against the skirting boards.

Then the insect sets off. I don’t know where it is, I don’t know what it is though I imagine it to be some sort of over endowed cricket but it makes a noise like a dentist’s drill and can be heard over a wide area.

Now what’s going on….I’ve lost my train of thought…
An insect? No insect makes a noise like that…Danilo must be working somewhere…

Lamb chops – but loin chops, make sure they are loin chops – decided upon, the merits of gammon come under the spotlight as opposed to pork….and then the dogs bark furiously as Danilo’s son arrives on his motorbike with the day’s supply of fresh milk for Monty, to be received by Luzmilla with much shouting at the dogs to be quiet.

It’s a madhouse…whatever is going on? The milkman on a motorbike…still I suppose it’s better than mine – a new man I think, comes creeping around late in the morning, when he thinks I can’t get to the door fast enough to complain about the Gold Top! If that’s from Jersey cows I’m a Chinaman.

I think they must water it down, says Adolpha in the background and she and mother discuss the likelihood of this, oblivious to the seconds ticking away on Skype, their conversation ending in
You can’t trust any of them these days.

Mother decides on the gammon.

We have run through most of her list with a slight pause at Evian water as she was sent Buxton water in error last time and does not want a goitre at her age and then she thinks she will have a packet of breakfast cereal….

Puffed wheat, I think…
And then the guinea fowl strike up, legging it past the back door…

I know what that is. That’s those awful birds you had in France who kept trying to drown themselves….
Whatever possessed you to get some more….and don’t let them send me organic puffed wheat.
Tasted like cardboard and a tiny packet for the price….
Yes, that’s the lot….

We say our goodbyes and as I shut down the call I hear Adolpha’s voice in the background

They said it was organic, but how could it be? It came in a cellophane packet….what’s organic about cellophane?

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The Withdrawal Method

crhoy

crhoy


To no one’s surprise there was no outright winner in the first round of the Costa Rican Presidential election in February…..but the leader by one percentage point was a total surprise…a dark horse who ran up on the rails to win by a nose.

His party has been in the doldrums for years under the leadership of its founder and the new candidate wasn’t expected to change things…but people who did not want a continuation in power of the ruling party but who were frightened of the mildly left wing candidate flocked to his support and so he came to the line one point ahead of the five – times – married- and – this – time – to -a – dentist candidate of the ruling party.

So these two gentlemen settled down to campaign for the final vote on 6th April: the mystery candidate tried drumming up votes in areas where his party had polled badly; the much married candidate hung around the bishops while his party hinted that the success of his opponent was what was causing instability in the exchange rate….in other words, campaigning as usual until the bombshell struck yesterday, on Ash Wednesday.

One of the gentlemen had been listening to God.

And God had told him that he should withdraw from the campaign, so that was what he was doing.

He elaborated, of course. For his style of politician the Word of God can always be improved upon with a few PR techniques.

He had realised that it was in the national interest to withdraw, allowing the nation the best chance of facing the coming time of economic trial in tranquility and offering his services to the future President.

Thus he bowed out, leaving a nation making its plans for how to spend the 6th April, suddenly become free.

All except for one man. The head of the Election Tribunal who had to put his oar in.
The Costa Rican Constitution forbids anyone to withdraw from the second round of the Presidential election…so the vote on April 6th must go ahead as planned.

The possibility of farce lies before us…..

Should by some chance the candidate who has withdrawn win the vote on April 6th he will, despite withdrawing, be President of Costa Rica.
So, if the Almighty should so guide him that he decided to withdraw his withdrawal- after all he had withdrawn as a Presidential candidate, not as a President – he could be installed in power.
And no that is not a quibble, just ask any passing Jesuit.

What if the Almighty stuck to His guns and over ruled casuistry?
Then he would withdraw.

So the mystery candidate would then be President?

Not according to the head of the Election Tribunal, rumoured to be close to the withdrawn candidate’s party.
The President would then be the man who was named by the withdrawn candidate before he withdrew as his first Vice President should he be elected President.

A man no one had voted for at all.

Trusting that the above has made things as clear as muck, let us look at the factors that the Almighty might have taken into consideration in giving His advice.

Firstly, the candidate who withdrew represents the ruling party who have been in power for eight years and have presided over corruption scandals that would have been notable even for a banana republic.
I was tempted to add ‘or for France’ but that would be tautologous.

Secondly, his candidacy had upset the Arias brothers who regarded the party as their very own fief.
Oscar Arias, while President of Costa Rica, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his work in improving democratic practices in Central America by the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords – the groundwork for which was laid, interestingly enough, by the current mystery candidate in the Presidential elections.

His supporters later engineered the overthrow of a constitutional amendment banning ex Presidents from standing again for office and he was elected by a narrow majority to the Presidency again in 2006.
He was succeeded as President by Laura Chinchilla – one of his ex ministers whom he thought he had under control – as it might have appeared tactless to put up his brother Rodrigo – his enforcer while in power – to succeed him immediately.
Chinchilla was to keep the seat warm for him.

As it turns out, she kept it red hot: corruption scandals galore have kept even the conservative Costa Rican press abuzz and to add insult to injury, the party rejected brother Rodrigo as their candidate and chose the much – married – and – now – to – a dentist Mayor of San Jose instead…the candidate who has just withdrawn.

Who could whistle for support from the Arias wing of the party – where a lot of the money lies.

Thirdly, and in consequence of the above, his election campaign was running out of money. If he spent any more and lost the election his party would be looking down the back of the sofa for some years to come.
By withdrawing, however, and in such ambiguous circumstances as outlined by the head of the Elections tribunal, his opponent would be forced to keep on spending to be sure of a respectable mandate in the case of victory, thus transferring the back of the sofa activites.

And finally, a lack of political judgement. A catastrophic lack.
Just like Jospin in France, he underestimated his opponents and let an outsider into contention.
In Jospin’s case, Le Pen of the pariah Front National party….in his case, the mystery candidate from a party considered finished.
Too arrogant to do the hard slog of campaigning, the endless meetings and television appearances, he reckoned his main danger came from the mildly left wing candidate who he was sure to be able to knock out by the usual Reds Under the Bed formula – as indeed he did.
I couldn’t turn on my computer without a Red Peril video coming up on the screen and that campaign certainly affected his chances….but his potential voters did not just drop out, or vote for the ruling party – they found another candidate.
A candidate totally overlooked.

We shall see what we get on 6th April.
The mystery candidate promises transparency and improved equality….he’ll have a hard fight on his hands and, should he win, I hope that people will cut him some slack, for, not only in Costa Rica but in all countries we dearly need to elect people from outside the self perpetuating elites if we are ever to recover the liberties our not so far off ancestors fought so hard to win.

But one thing niggles…..when the much married one withdrew, he offered his services to the new government….
I sincerely hope that there has been no opaque agreement made with him, not even one made on the lines of the immortal Yosser

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