‘I have to follow them, I am their leader.’

A quote attributed to Ledru-Rollin, opponent of Louis-Philippe, King of the French, and whose inflammatory speeches at workmen’s gatherings were influential in bringing about the overthrow of the latter in the Revolution of 1848.

Supposed to have been said as he saw a mob passing in the street during the unrest in Paris, thus inducing him to climb out through the window to join them…’Il faut bien que je les suive, puisque je suis leur chef.’ An early example of false news, as it was related by an opponent when Ledru-Rollin was in exile in England – ironically, as he had published a book ‘De la Decadence de l’Angleterre’ – and could not easily respond to the mockery.

Needless to say, once in power he crushed the hopes of the working class..les bourgeois c’est comme des cochons…..and became a peripheral figure, distrusted by all sectors of political opinion.

We have about any number of would-be Ledru-Rollins in Costa Rica at the moment, anxious to

A…harness to their chariots the popular protests at government proposals to seek a loan from the IMF and the fiscal consequences of same

or

B…crush said protests by pretending to lead them.

In brief, the Costa Rican economy has been a basket case for years. Whereas in Ledru-Rollin’s France one hundred families were said to run the country, here some thirty families do likewise and the result has been tax evasion on the grand scale, failure to develop the country’s natural resources, and clientism on a scale undreamt of by the Roman Empire.

Like France, the country is controlled by an unholy troika of big business, the public sector unions and the government, sucking on the teat of the tax payer and producing solely excrement.

The last president tried to reform public finances but was stymied at every turn by the National Assembly and was eventually ambushed by the cement monopoly, setting up a fake supplier of Chinese cement whose products were granted priority in import by the President, only to be revealed – by the monopolists – as a scam, which brought his period in office to an insalubrious close.

The current incumbent, coming to office on the promises of his party, promptly set up a ministry of all the lack of talents from his own and other parties in what was said to be a government of national unity…more like a government to guard the interests of the troika.

It has finally dawned on the government that its expenses exceed its income…mostly because the various lockdowns have managed to close any number of the small businesses whose tax payments covered the bloated public sector..the clientism referred to above. Since the 1970s, the public sector was used as a means of gaining votes…the more posts, the more perks, the more votes for the incumbent governments. The public sector unions will not give up these perks willingly, neither will a government, established as it is, force them to do so.

The protests began when the President announced that he was seeking a loan from the IMF, and, in order to pay it back, he was proposing further tax measures.

Well, people have had enough of ‘further tax measures’ recently…the imposition of Value Added Tax, for example…..so this was not a popular measure…less so when it was revealed that in addition to the local property tax, the double of that tax would have to be paid directly to Hacienda – the Treasury.

Imagine, it…three times your property tax. And, unlike local government, Hacienda can confiscate your property for non payment.

And then it was discovered that Hacienda was uprating the value of properties…..

Spontaneously, people began to block the major roads – the traditional form of protest from the ground up.

Immediately failed politicians moved in to become the self proclaimed leaders of the movement….some only to denounce it as being fuelled by the drug mafia…the same mafia effectively tolerated by the government. Others pushed for links with the unions – another mafia – while the government ordered in the police with tear gas to disperse the protesters

After weeks of blockades and confontation the government agreed to hold talks…but with whom?

With the troika, of course…..

But there must have been representation from the people?

Of course there was.

In one area a Vice President assumed the voice of the people…in another, the First Lady….

Current democracy in action.

26 thoughts on “‘I have to follow them, I am their leader.’”

      1. I lost interest in Melanchon when he started taking himself seriously. Honestly, I don’t read too much into the whole political thing over here. The French elect these people and immediately hate them. The TV folks got their jobs back when PS ran everything. Now they hit everyone with this incredible lefty foolishness, as if there actually were pie in the sky. If only. I have read and tend to agree that moderates get shouted down, so you wind up with far right and far left, never the twain shall meet. Add in the ham-fisted ineptitude of Brussels and it’s pretty corrupt, all right. They are just better at obfuscating. Hidalgo favors cronyism over much of anything else. I think her strategy is to squeeze out residents, tourists and those who cater to them being so much easier to manage. And Brussels failing to rein in all of Eastern Europe while micromanaging the rest of us — well, you get the idea. Victor Orban in particular would feel right at home in Costa Rica.

        1. Opinion here is that Costa Rica started going to the dogs once it started taking ideas from the EU as to how to tangle life in red tape, damn fool regulations and taxes at every turn. Things have decidedly gone downhill in that respect over the years we have been here.
          I wonder if Macron will regret firing his Prime Minister for being too popular…he could prove too popular at the next presidential election too…if Macron’s mates don’t do a Fillon on him.

          1. Macron is pretty clean. They hate him for being well-educated, articulate and successful and for not being shy about it. More likely they’ll do a Sarkozy, finding little or nothing, try as they might, but hauling him in for questioning for the rest of his life. I mean really, he tried to do business with Gaddafi? Our president will see his “fill in oil-rich tinpot dictator here” and raise him Putin and a porn star!

            So, you have old-school kleptocracy and payoffs, combined with new-school endless, pointless bureaucracy. The better to hide the kleptocracy? At least you have good weather.

          2. Hard to say. He didn’t benefit directly. Sanofi taking the money, then laying off a thousand people, not good. Is that what you mean? Sounds like Macron was conned but he’s not on the take, is he? They didn’t promise his wife a no-show job? If Sanofi actually does come up with a vaccine, I think people will forget about it. If they don’t, still, I don’t know. Helen, it’s France. Just being nice looking, fit, intelligent, well educated, hard-working, civic minded, in love with his wife, that’s enough to tank him right there.

          3. It seems to be almost inevitable given that people tend to vote for the candidate they least dislike rather than one for whom they have enthusiasm. Mark you, hard to find much to enthuse about with most of candidates that the system throws up.
            Re Macron and Sanofi. Macron appointed Agnes Buzyn as Health Minister. She refused to give foundation status to institutes backed by Raoult – opponent of the big pharmaceutical companies., who in his turn was fiercely opposed by Buzyn’s husband, head of INSERM. Then up pops this virus and mysteriously stocks of Chloroqine disappear from warehouses.
            supplying public hospitals.
            I gather Le Pen is plastering notices asking the French to wake up…well, wake up to what, precisely?

    1. Costa Rica has traditionally been a fairly peaceful society…while greed was concealed, it got away with it, but the lockdowns, subsequent loss of employment and the proposals for yet more taxes had people out in the streets, while the use of tear gas by the police is something almost unknown.
      Relations with the other Central American states are generally good – a few niggles with Nicaragua, but that is about it.

  1. “It’s the same the ‘ole world over, It’s the poor wot gets pain, It’s the rich wot gets the pleasure, Ain’t it all a bleedin’ shame!”

  2. “…sucking on the teat of the tax payer and producing solely excrement…”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing when it really is the invenit cur extiterit solus, the literal raison d’être, of government. There are sheep, ergo someone has to fleece them. It seems that property tax is the new favorite target for government revenue enhancement (cough) both in terms of property valuation and tax rate. It’s a rude awakening for folk who, thinking that they are the actual owners of property, come to realize that confiscation is only a few missed tax payments away. A triple property tax scheme is just plain offensive. To the streets! Take the dogs to the ramparts!

  3. Every time I hear the phrase, “fake news” I just want to punch the utter-er in the throat. Yeah, the panDAMNic is getting to me. Louie would not have escaped by wrath, then and certainly not now. I hope CR is able to wrest out the criminal govern-ers.

    1. So do I, because this is a potentially rich country being ruined by greed and indolence.
      To hear legislators foaming about the importance of respecting the law when they are flouting it day after day and busy supporting laws which favour the troika at the expense of the ordinary person would be enough to get anyone on their feet.
      But will they?
      To my mind you get nothing from people with power until you make them afraid of you – either economically as in boycotting their products – or physically as in targeting their homes.
      There are calls for a constituent assembly, to air peoples’ grievances, but the Counstitutional Court has declared that that is incompatible with the constitution….but if the constitution is no longer working?
      I donlt know if you know the quote from the Elizabethan courtier, Sir John Harrington
      ‘Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason?
      Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.’
      Time for a bit of treason, I think….
      And, while on Harrington, he was said to have invented the flushing toilet….a good place to deposit a system which is not working.

  4. I was lucky enough to grow up in the Great Britain of the post war settlement when governments acted, more or less, in the interests of the mass of the governed, so the change of direction to a renewal of fuedalism fills me with horror.

    While we were living in France that waste of space President Hollande put up a proposal to tax property owners on the benefit they enjoyed by owning their own homes – the benefit to be calculated, no doubt, by the use of coefficients based on the amount of extra dosh the state required in order to waste it on tax breaks for large firms. That did not get very far.

    I don’t think it helps the government here that the minister at Hacienda looks like a criminal’s bodyguard from a strip cartoon…it gives rise to associations in the mind of the beholder.

    People would like to divest themselves of property, but there is a problem there too…with no roof over your head, where do you put the mattress with the money you are not putting in the bank?

    I am not sure that the knees permit climbing a barricade any more….but I did see one way of clearing the police from breaking them up…a chap in a backhoe with the shovel down,chasing them back along the road.

  5. Ah, to be a Ledru-Rollin, jumping through windows to follow one crowd and run back again to follow another. I hear that’s what some of our GOP’s are using as their end game. No matter where you live these days, those damn governments follow. I mused somewhere, we should all go live in New Zealand, but for the problem of sinking the country from the shear weight of us.

  6. Scary. You’d think any 21st century country would be more sophisticated, wouldn’t you? But, then, look at the choice facing ‘the world’s greatest democracy’ (allegedly). There are hundreds of other places to look, of course, including the UK.

    1. I think that the days when decent people went into politics is past…well, with a very few exceptions. Furthermore, the main parties don’t want honest and decent people at the top, just to do the foot soldier work on the ground.
      Am I right in thinking that that M.P.’s wife who has just published her scandal sheet said that the party workers in the constituencies were referred to as toilet seats?
      Here the government is playing for time with ‘discussions’ which will lead nowhere, and they may get away with it.
      More’s the pity.

  7. I tend to be a bit more optimistic than you, with (I am sure) absolutely no good reason. Perhaps I feel that having good relationships with neighbours and being peaceful (on the whole) is worth a huge amount. It means that politicians are not basing their entire strategy on encouraging the population to despise and fear their neighbours, colleagues, even family for ideological reasons, or manipulating them by deliberately whipping up anger, bullying and hatred. (Having said that, Costa Rica does always sound a bit hard to deal with! But I would love to visit it all the same.)

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