The US Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, took it upon itself to write a series of diplomatic cable about why the nation “is not paradise,” to counter the tourism image.
“Travel brochures do not tell the entire story,” one cable released today says. The message line of the cable reads: “COSTA RICA NOT PARADISE-RAW SEWAGE EVERYWHERE”.
It goes on to describe Costa Rica as practically awash in sewage due to lack of adequate wastewater treatment facilities. Only 2.6 percent of human waste is treated, and rivers are like open drainage ditches.
“Nationwide, Costa Rica currently treats only 2.6% of human waste generated, ranking Costa Rica amongst the five worst countries in Latin America. And the country is falling backward,” the cable says in part.
It goes on: “While famous for its investment in "green" issues such as national parks and biodiversity protection, Costa Rica does not walk the talk when it comes to "brown" environmental issues such as sewage treatment. For a tourism-dependent country that relies upon its reputation as an environmental paradise and prime ecotourism destination, the nation's use of its rivers in lieu of a modern sanitation system, as the conduit for dumping raw untreated waste onto its most convenient beaches and important fishing areas is a shocking revelation.”
Of course, this kind of cable may infuriate Costa Ricans but if it all is true this is useful information to know, especially if one is a U.S. retiree thinking of going there to live.
If you have an interest in Costa Rica and U.S. policy there, check out all the cables released today. There are lots and I don't have time to go through them as I'm in El Salvador preparing for the Obama visit tomorrow.