COVID-19 in Costa Rica

Received 5 Jul from Roland Spendlingwimmer of Cooperative Longo Mai (written mid-June). We thank Roland for this contribution and also Liz Richmond for her translation.

Key words: COVID-19; Costa Rica; international tourism; food autonomy.

It seems that the government is determined to open international air traffic on 1st August 2020. Despite current infection rates increasing, they deem it is an economic priority to open up due to losses being catastrophic for Costa Rica.

While in the first 4 months the government decreed quarantine, everyone adhered to this and stayed at home – even during Easter, a traditionally important time for families to spend together.

State Aid was organised for all on low incomes in the form of family food packages. With this strategy, infections were kept low. But now, it seems they will reopen, factories, businesses, because they say this cannot be maintained.

So now, there are about 350 new infections daily. This is increasing, and it is known that within 10 days the health system will no longer be able to cope with any more new cases; a great worry. Infections are increasing, especially in slums and poorer areas. It is the least protected population, many who live together in confined spaces with little income, in metropolitan areas, and the belt around San José.

In the countryside it is very different and pleasing to see that in these strange times of coronavirus a peasant (campesino) community like Longo Maï continues almost the same, with its rhythm in nature and agriculture, having coffee at 3 in the afternoon … and there is an increasing amount of awareness around self-subsistence, seen in the planting of vegetables and crops to achieve even more autonomy. When I walked through the community last week I was so impressed. Everywhere new greenhouses, and more corn-fields and beans planted.

Many families have commented that since the children have been at home, and not going to school, it is an opportunity to get closer to them. They go out with their parents to work in the fields, spend free time at the river, and take time to talk and play. They reflect that after this crisis we should perhaps continue a little in this dynamic.

The great advantage for them is that they can increase their food autonomy as Longo Maï still has the reserves of the land.