Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nicas y Ticos

In Costa Rica, Nicaraguan is almost always said "nica". The word can be both masculine and feminine, depending--of course--on the situation. Although experience in Costa Rica might sometimes indicate otherwise, nica is not necessarily a racial slur. Unfortunately, Costa Ricans often speak disparagingly of their Central American neighbors, so the term (nica) is often used in an unflattering way.

Although I hesitate to weigh in on relations between Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans, a topic that deserves much more attention than a blog entry, I will say that Nicaraguans are often treated unfairly in Costa Rica and are used as a scapegoat for social ills that Costa Rican society as a whole is reluctant to own up to. (Perhaps it's important to note here that an estimated one million+ Nicaraguans are thought to reside in Costa Rica)

8 comments:

Ralph said...

Wow, a million "nicas." That might amount to 20% to 25% of the population, depending whose numbers you believe. Do most of those Nicaraguans live in the northern part of the country, or are they scattered all over?

Thomas Carmona said...

Nicaraguans are really all over the country. Even though many stick around in the North, San Jose is where most of the work is, so they tend to make their way to the capital area.

I really don't know which numbers to believe. I've had people tell me that it's colder in winter because we're farther from the sun. That doesn't make it true.

Don Rafael said...

Treated unfairly???? We give them free education, free social health and they live 100% better in my country vs nicaragua and You said that we treat them unfairly and we use them as a way to vent out our social frustations?It sounds to me that you are trying to relate the same feeling that you live in USA with respect to Mexicans,do not bring your unfounded comments to this blog, first illustrate yourself of what is the real "nica phenomenon" in Costa Rica.Just look of the military invasion we have with our "benevolent neighbor".

Thomas Carmona said...

Don Rafael, I will bring whatever comments I want to this blog. Make no mistake about that.

www.muebles-en-la-rioja.com said...

The chap is definitely just, and there is no doubt.

Thomas Carmona said...

Don Rafael, I not only compare it to US-Mexico relations, but also to the racism against African-Americans in the US. One time in Costa Rica, where I lived for over two years, someone told me that Nicaraguans don't have hearts and that they aren't human. Other Costa Ricans in the room agreed with that statement or gave their tacit approval. I was the only one in the room to defend Nicaraguans on grounds that they are human! What if I were to say the same thing about black people? And what if someone were to say, knowing that similar things are said about blacks, that black people aren't treated unfairly because they'd do much worse in Africa? What would people think of such an utterance? Now, I'm not an expert on Costa Rica, but it doesn't take an expert to say that there are extreme prejudices against Nicaraguans in Costa Rica. And to think that you are so much more justified in your prejudice than people in the US with prejudice against Mexicans is lunacy at best! Check yourself, man.

Ralph said...

Thomas Carmona, I think you are right. People who refer to some group of others as "not human" are making a big mistake and doing wrong just by speaking that way.

I do want to add something. The behavior called xenophobia, and also the behavior of saying absurd things like "not human" about some groups of people -- I want to point out that those are typical human behaviors. They are human behaviors that could even be called "normal."

I believe in humans being responsible for wrong behavior, so I would never dismiss xenophobia or hateful language like that in someone I knew. Nevertheless, I would know that this -- the behavior I object to -- is normal human behavior. I would not choose to associate with a person who behaved that way, and fortunately for me, to avoid them would be another form of normal human behavior on my part.

I might go on to elaborate on all that, but I don't want to make this too long. I would try to explain what is behind my probably irrelevant-sounding thoughts.

Thomas Carmona said...

Amen, Ralph. To dehumanize is definitely a human instinct, especially when you're talking about a defensive mechanism toward the out-group. Like you, I also believe people are accountable for xenophobia, despite how natural it might come. Thank you for your comment.