President Laura Chinchilla stepped into office at a time when more than 50,000 people suffer from extreme poverty, when unemployment is at a 20-year high and when the gap between the wealthy and the poor is continually expanding.
Her plan is to coordinate existing aid so that money no longer arrived in a community in pieces. Too often, she said, a family in poverty would receive a scholarship for a child or money for food, but assistance didn’t come in a way that would really give them that boost to land in the middle class.
She began by creating a Poverty Ministry and directing it to help 26 of the country’s poorest communities draft their own plan for poverty alleviation. Chinchilla’s eventual goal is to lift 20,000 families out of poverty before she leaves office in 2014.
Here, The Tico Times selected three of the 26 communities to take a “before shot,” in the hope of revisiting them in four years to see the “after.”
Central Pacific’s Parrita Shows ‘A Different Kind of Poverty’
The Central Pacific town of Parrita does not appear to be bleeding poverty like so many communities on the government’s poverty watch list. The homes are well cared for, the streets are clean, and the sight of palm trees and the smell of the ocean make it hard to see it as anything other than a sleepy tropical haven.
It’s what you don’t see that’s put Parrita on the government’s list for an overhaul during the next four years.
León XIII: Finding a Cure for Urban Poverty
In recent years, León XIII has been the poster child for poverty in Costa Rica.
For many Costa Ricans, it’s the capital of crime, drugs and extreme poverty. Its name is synonymous with conflict and marginalization. And, although it’s been pumped with aid money and been the beneficiary of the anti-poverty initiatives of several administrations, it continues to live up to its reputation.
Poverty in Buenos Aires: No Short-Term Fix The Southern Zone town of Buenos Aires, just off the Inter-American Highway, has always struggled to become more than just a rest stop for travelers heading south to Panama. A farming community near indigenous land, Buenos Aires’ dependence on subsistence agriculture has kept many of its residents living in poverty.