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Unfulfilled Promises Hinder the Development of Costa Rica’s Limon Province

Limón Province is gorgeous and could easily be one of the most prosperous regions in Costa Rica. Its natural and scenic beauty, wide range of touristic activities, access to the Atlantic Ocean, ports, and exceptional cuisine make Limón a dream-like destination. 

Nonetheless, what could be a wealthy and developed area is stricken by poverty, unemployment, and drug trafficking. 

During the elections, politicians visit Limón and bring a list of promises and plans for the region. Once the electoral campaign is over, the promises are buried, and nobody remembers Limón. 

For instance, ten years ago, Costa Rica and China signed an agreement to enlarge the 107 kilometers of Route 32 between Río Frío and Limón. This main road connects the province to the rest of the country. Fixing it would boost tourism, trade, employment, and industrial opportunities. 

The three previous administrations’ bureaucracy, apathy, and negligence are responsible for the unfinished work. 

It’s important to note that the project was supposed to begin in 2012 when Laura Chinchilla’s administration signed the agreement. Nevertheless, it started in 2016, which caused a first mismatch in the final price of the work.

In 2016, the Expropriation Law was promoted to expedite the pending expropriations in a term of four months, and it takes two years for each expropriation. Currently, 70% are still awaiting.

After six months in office, Chaves’ team explained that the Route 32 widening project is underfinanced and poorly designed, and more than 70 takeovers are pending, which means that the completion date is still uncertain.

Over $500 million are needed to pay readjustment prices to the construction company CHEC and finance the additional works demanded by the communities.

“The impact is unquestionable and incalculable since 80% of imports and exports move through Limón. Any delay or limitation to the mobility of goods and people has an enormous economic cost and, of course, complicates the development of tourism, commerce, industry, and other areas”, said Rubén Acón, president of the Chamber of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism of Limón.

Now, the works are practically paralyzed. The situation is chaotic for those who travel to and from Limón, as traffic is heavy. 

“The delay in the extension of the route generates a great affectation in mobility, road safety and in the generation of foreign currency since many tourists think twice to travel to Limón,” said Katherine Moreira, PLN congresswoman and representative for the province of Limón in the Caribbean.

For the moment, there are no solutions for this immense problem. While Costa Rican bureaucracy thwarts the path toward economic growth and prosperity, a whole province suffers the effects of incompetent governments.

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