Photo by Giardano Ciampini
At 71, former councilman, legislator and ambassador Hamilton Ruiz Cascante is still active in the community, although from a place with a less public profile. “Don Hamilton,” as he is known in the city of Nicoya, was born on a hot December 11th in 1941 in Lagunilla of Santa Cruz.
Since he graduated with a degree in Educational Administration, his active participation in education and in local and national politics has never stopped.
He was regional director of education for Nicoya and director of the Nicoya night school, a municipal councilman from 1978-1982, a national legislator in the period 1982-1986 and Costa Rican ambassador in the Republic of Bolivia 1990-1992.
But after participating in the creation of laws and representing our country, he withdrew from politics but not entirely from education. A few years ago he decided to open an internet business where, from his desk and always with a smile, he helps students and teachers, as well as many other Nicoyans who don’t have internet or printers at home, by providing the technological tools necessary for their assignments. His internet cafe is also a popular hangout for journalists in the area that normally feel compelled to stop in to greet Hamilton and converse with each other.
Journalist Henry Morales interviewed Don Hamilton and here we present an excerpt from the conversation.
What did your designation as ambassador to Bolivia mean for you, taking into consideration the characteristics of both towns?
They are totally different countries... Bolivia preserves the culture of the aborigines, the Quechua and the Aymara... even the professionals who graduate from universities should at least learn one of those Creole languages ??in addition to Castilian. However, I found that the region of Santa Cruz de las Sierras (a department of Bolivia near the border of Brazil) bears some resemblance to the province of Guanacaste and due to this we planned a partnership between the two regions and signed (a bilateral treaty of brotherhood) in the mayor’s office in Santa Cruz and then in the park of Nicoya. Although not much follow-up has been given, I intend to reinforce it at least in the cultural area that I consider very important.
How did you become a legislator?
I come from a Calderonist family, and this root gradually gave me the idea to first become a professional and later to participate as a municipal councilman. Then I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Educational Administration and afterward waited in line, because in politics you have to have a certain path. Several campaigns passed first until I finally achieved getting a secondary position on the ballot for Guanacaste and arrived at the legislative assembly, but with the government in opposition... (Then) I dedicated myself to legislating, to supporting projects.
Between then and now, is there a difference in legislation?
Before, there was more of a consensus on efforts; approval of projects went more broadly in favor of the Costa Rican citizens. Nowadays I see legislation as very forced… one project after another… they convert into a tangle of laws that confuse lawyers themselves and those who have to apply the law.
Could it be that the emergence of various political parties has complicated legislative work?
We live in a democratic country and some individuals, groups, and even unions have opted to form political parties. This has given people a greater amount of options but at the same time it has personalized the interests of groups or guilds… This in turn complicates governability because in the face of many different ideas, conciliation is more difficult.
With bipartisanship, things aren’t as complicated.
What do you think of the constant protests and discontent of the people?
A great social deterioration has existed: there are no jobs, attention in the area of ??health has declined, the services in public institutions are inefficient, and the corruption and especially the inadequate response to all these needs make people protest. And this is taking on a force that is dangerous and it will be difficult if we don’t pay attention... The country could be paralyzed and governments could even be removed as in the case of the outraged. (He was referring to the revolts of the Arabian Spring.)
What should the government do to reverse this situation?
Public officials need to take responsibility for their management... the laws are already there, the administrative conditions have been given to be fulfilled... It’s a question of attitude... of attitude... so things get done... the high officials should demand that the administrative functions are fulfilled more.