NICARAGUA’S new open-door policyfor foreign residents does not appearto be worrying the Association ofResidents of Costa Rica (ARCR).“Nicaragua is not Costa Rica,” saidARCR spokesman Ryan Piercy.Last week, Nicaragua’s NationalAssembly voted 64-0 to approve a newtourism law that gives residency to foreignretirees with minimum pensions of$400 (TT, July 9).The unanimous decision came as CostaRica’s Legislative Assembly is consideringa new immigration bill that, among otherthings, would effectively raise the minimumpension requirement from $600 to approximately$3,000 (TT, June 11).“Everybody talks about people movingto Nicaragua and Panama (instead ofCosta Rica). But a year down the roadafter all that talk began, most say to methey themselves would not live inPanama, and definitely not Nicaragua,”Piercy said. “A lot of retirees are worriedabout health care, for example. Howmany private hospitals are there inNicaragua?”Piercy said it makes sense thatNicaragua would have a lower requirementthan Costa Rica, since it needs toattract tourism, while Costa Rica has beena top retirement destination for more thana decade. However, he still objects to thedramatic increase of Costa Rica’s minimumrequirements as proposed in the bill.In discussion on the assembly floor,the immigration reform bill received 221motions for change. A commission willdebate the motions when the assemblyreturns from recess Monday. The bill willthen go back to the assembly floor for avote (TT, July 9).The Tico Times contactedImmigration Director Marco Badilla toget his response to Nicaragua’s new laweasing residency requirements, but he saidhe preferred not to comment yet becausehe has not had a chance to review itthoroughly.
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