By María Paula Aguilar Arguedas - International Relations student
Defending the basic human rights, assuring that those are applied justly to everyone and making sure that minorities are represented in the different political systems has always been a world scale challenge. But today, in the XXI century and after years of fighting for that understanding, more than a challenge it has become a must. And Costa Rica, as a democratic country filled with those “minorities”, has had to step up, but still has a long way ahead. Because, as stated in CONARE (2019): “a democracy that does not respect everyone’s human rights cannot be called one”.
Now, in order to defend the great necessity of having those minorities defended, and to extend on the why is there still so much more to be done: let's identify what is a minority and to what percent each of them exist in Costa Rica. In that regard, there is not an explicit universal definition of minority, but it can be identified as a group of people that share some specific characteristics, that are fewer in number and that are in a vulnerable position.
Following that same line, Cubero (2019) concluded that there were three significant minorities in Costa Rica, and the percentage of each of those in the population total. The first one is based on ethnicity (mulatos, indigenous, afro-descendants and Chinese) and it corresponds to a 10,4% of the Costa Rican population. Secondly, there is the people with any sort of physical or mental disability, and it represents a 14,02% of the total. And last but not least, on that same analysis elderly people were considered, and they represented a 12,31%. So clearly, to this point, it is confirmed that a great deal of the population is part of a minoritarian group. But it does not stop there, there are still many more to mention as the LGBTQ+ community, migrants, people with different religions; or even women that, based on the Costa Rican male to female ratio of 2015, there were 100.13 males per 100 females (so not such a difference in number, but a lot in the discrimination of their rights).
Now, there are many charges in a political system, but let’s focus on the Legislative Assembly that can be considered to be the power that holds more influence governmentally of the three (Executive, Legislative and Judicial). On that note, Cubero (2019) confirmed that in this last elections there were no seats for the people with disabilities (previous years they had at least 1-4 seats), and only one afro-descendant was elected (Eduardo Newton); and as “an addition” there is the first openly homosexual deputy (Enrique Sánchez). But, in synthesis, only one ethnicity is represented (barely) and there is not a lot, or none, of representation for the other minorities already mentioned. And yes, some could say that is just looking at the dark side of the situation based on statements such as women have now a lot of seats and representation, great laws have been passed that defend this minorities, such as the same-sex marriage. Or that now there are even “comisionados” that are part of this assembly, and give a voice to this communities. Or facts such as the ones that show Costa Rica already had the first woman president, and now has an afro-descendant vice-president. But that is exactly the point: those are essential first steps, but there is still a very long ride in order to gain the needed representation. Steps like approving the solicitations of having two seats for the indigenous, or defending the rights of the noted discriminated, migrants from Nicaragua or Colombia, to mention just two things.
In conclusion, Costa Rica, as many other countries, has been working on including these minoritarian populations into the community, and on making sure they are part of the political systems (which is extremely important and applauded). But there is still so much more to be done because the Human Rights Declaration defines those rights as universal for some reason, and everyone should be able to enjoy them. It is the XXI century and there is no more time to be wasted.