Nicaraguans in Costa Rica

Many Costa Ricans resent immigrants from neighbouring Nicaragua, much as some US residents resent immigrants from Mexico, often with little reason. It is thus worthy of note that La Nacion – the principle newspaper of Costa Rica – today praises the selfless act of a humble Nicaraguan immigrant, suggesting that he serve as an example for all Costa Ricans. For those who do not read Spanish, a rough English translation follows the Spanish text.

A sus 79 años, Francisco Prado ganó ¢70 millones [$133,257] en un sorteo de la Lotería Nacional. En adelante, vivirá de los intereses, porque renunció a su pensión del régimen no contributivo de la Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social “para que se la den a otro viejito, a alguien que esté muy necesitado”. El necesitado es el país, pero de recibir lecciones de generosidad como la dictada por este modesto agricultor nicaragüense radicado desde hace 50 años en Costa Rica.

Los ¢70.000 [$133 mensuales] de su pensión dejarán de llegar a … don Francisco, padre de ocho hijos ….

El régimen no contributivo tiene 86.936 beneficiarios de modestas pensiones que en la mayor parte de los casos recompensan años de esfuerzos desplegados al margen del sistema de seguridad social, ya sea por descuido de sus patronos o imposibilidad de incorporarse al sector formal de la economía. Un 58% de ellos son adultos mayores, muchos dedicados en su juventud a pesadas tareas, como las agrícolas, donde no tuvieron oportunidad de cotizar para la futura jubilación.

[….]

La virtud demostrada por el anciano nicaragüense … apunta a la necesidad de reconocer el aporte de los inmigrantes. Son recibidos con generosidad por Costa Rica, casi siempre saben agradecerlo y en su mayoría están dispuestos a pagar la hospitalidad con trabajo honrado y ejemplar.

“Virtud ejemplar”, Editorial, La Nación (San José, Costa Rica), 13 June 2010.

And now the English translation:

At the age of 79, Francisco Prado won a prize of ¢70 million [$133,257] in the National Lottery. From now on, he will live off interest on this money, because he gave up his non-contributory Social Security pension “to release it for another older person, someone who is very needy”. Needy is our country, but for lessons of generosity such as the one given us by this humble Nicaraguan farmer who has lived here for 50 years.

The ¢70,000 [$133] Social Security pension will no longer reach … Don Francisco, father of eight children ….

The non-contributory scheme has 86,936 beneficiaries of pensions that are typically modest, a reward for years of work outside the social security system, either because of carelessness of their employers or because of their inability to join the formal sector of the economy. 58% of these pensioners are elderly. Many of them worked very hard when young in areas such as farming, and had no opportunity to contribute to a fund for their own retirement.

[….]

The virtue displayed by this elderly Nicaraguan … illustrates the need to recognize the contributions of immigrants. Immigrants are generously received by Costa Rica, almost always return the favour, and most are willing to pay for this hospitality by providing honest and exemplary labour.

‘Quick and dirty’ translation by Larry Willmore of “Virtud ejemplar”, Editorial, La Nación (San José, Costa Rica), 13 June 2010.

What makes don Francisco’s act all the more noteworthy is the fact that numerous Costa Ricans with occupational pensions are defrauding the system by receiving a supposedly means-tested non-contributory pension.    Thanks to Ligia for the pointer.

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