Where’s the “System” in the Costa Rica Legal System?


In recent days there has been a lot of media attention surrounding the Costa Rica legal system – it has been through my own personal experiences that I fail to see any system or ounce of common sense throughout the Costa Rica legal arena.

Let’s look at the definition of system…

system (from Latin systēma, in turn from Greek σύστημα systēma, “whole compounded of several parts or members, system”, literary “composition”[1]) is a set of interacting or interdependent components forming an integrated whole.

A system is a set of elements (often called ‘components’ instead) and relationships which are different from relationships of the set or its elements to other elements or sets.

Fields that study the general properties of systems include systems theory, cybernetics, dynamical systems, thermodynamics and complex systems. They investigate the abstract properties of systems’ matter and organization, looking for concepts and principles that are independent of domain, substance, type, or temporal scale.

Most systems share common characteristics, including:

  • Systems have structure, defined by components/elements and their composition;
  • Systems have behavior, which involves inputs, processing and outputs of material, energy, information, or data;
  • Systems have interconnectivity: the various parts of a system have functional as well as structural relationships to each other.
  • Systems may have some functions or groups of functions

The term system may also refer to a set of rules that governs structure and/or behavior.

Whilst it’s clear that the word “system” indicates structure, the Costa Rica legal system has none of that.

So why call it a system at all? Your guess is as good as mine.

Take a look at some of these examples (all too common) of the apparent impotency of the legal body in Costa Rica.

Last week there was a front page headline of a 23 year old judge…ya…23 years old – this judge made a ruling against 3 men who were caught redhanded in an OIJ sting operation for selling immense amounts of drugs on the streets of San Jose. They had phone conversations, eye witnesses, informants and they caught them with the goods. The judge, Yorleny Campos Campos, who had just recently kicked the slates from her crib to be there that day, says that there wasn’t enough evidence and to let them free because they had no prior convictions. (full story here)

Trouble is…they certainly had priors including a 12 year stint for firearms and drugs and another 10 year run for similar charges – and just to add insult to injury, the one suspect with the priors also had recently just passed his entry exam to become a tourist police officer. He was scheduled to start next week.

I know what you are thinking – I couldn’t make this crap up – it’s a gong show.

And what about the ex president of Costa Rica – President Figueres was charge with involvement in the Alcatel scheme and accused of accepting bribes for him to provide contracts to specified corporations.

Figueres leaves Costa Rica for 7 years and then returns just before Christmas of 2011 so he can eat his favorite dish..”tamales”.  He was greeted by mindless followers who even begged him to consider running for President in the upcoming election. Oh…I almost forgot to mention that, in Costa Rica, one can simply stay away for awhile and come back as though no wrongdoing was ever committed.

Out of sight out of mind as my ex wife use to always say.

Speaking of which…

I am a tourist here. My ex wife was also of the same status. We were legally married in Canada and had no divorce or legal separation. With the assistance of an extremely corrupt accountant and lawyer (cousins actually), she managed to convince the legal process to try the unthinkable. Divorce two Canadian tourists and even decide alimony payments (no kids).

Furthermore it’s worth mentioning as proof of the backwards mentality – if you don’t pay your “pension” or alimony, they will send 20 cops with guns drawn, to come and arrest you. However should you murder a family while drunk driving…you’ll be free in an hour. (see story here)

Now I’m not sure about you but…WTF man? Two tourists here – no rights as citizens at all including working, medicare or anything…zilch – and they feel they can rule on a divorce and even go as far as deciding restitution and alimony. I was dumbfounded as were my lawyers in Canada where they said that had this been Canada and 2 Costa Ricans were there trying the same thing while on vacation…Canada would have told them to go home and deal with your own issues where you were legally married and are citizens. It’s none of our business.

Not here.

My ex wife – Canadian – was also charged with 5 counts of felony fraud and her accomplice, another Canadian man, was also charged with 4 counts, conspired over a 5 year period to defraud me of my home – for which they succeeded. Trouble is…my ex wife died in the process.

It has been 5 long years of playing along with this Mickey Mouse legal “system” and yet some how…even in death…the CR legal process managed to fumble yet again.

She dies under extremely suspicious circumstances — there was absolutely no investigation. They didn’t even question the man who found her body nor anyone at the scene.

Why is that? Well the only thing I can think of is this…

Family had no interest in coming here so why would the police care? They also would have required a court appointed translator to question anyone at the scene given they were all “gringos”, and that would have required time and money – something they always seem short of.

I’ve personally known someone who blew his face off with a shotgun while committing suicide and guess what? It was still investigated. There should always be an investigation. In this case there was nothing – she was treated like an animal and swept under the carpet. Remember the “Inconvenient Truth“?

I will tell you one thing however – should you get broken in to while you’re sleeping to wake up and catch the criminals – if you shoot them you can be 100% certain you will receive a fast-track to prison. I mean seriously…how dare you shoot the criminals. They have rights too you know.

In Canada we use to have a bumper sticker that read…

Don’t steal. The government doesn’t like competition.

…maybe it’s the same here.

Corruption runs deep in Costa Rica. So deep that at the very heart of the country – 2 former presidents incarcerated – you’ll find corruption.

The laws for which this country was founded are fundamentally flawed and about as archaic as  the parchment they were written on.

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