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189 Ex Congressman explains Costa Rican Politics and Investing

189 Ex Congressman explains Costa Rican Politics and Investing
189 Ex Congressman explains Costa Rican Politics and Investing

Podcast Transcription

[Richard Bexon]
Good morning, Otto. How are you doing? Very well.

[Otto Guevara]
Very, very good. Thank you. It's an absolute pleasure to have you here on the podcast.

[Richard Bexon]
I know you have your own podcast. Actually, you have two podcasts, right?

[Otto Guevara]
I have, I have a program with Daniel Suchard, it's called A Doble Nudo, that's on Thursdays and we have that in Spotify, Apple Music and we also, we have that in our official pages at Facebook and YouTube and whatever. And also we broadcast this show on national TV, that's cable TV, regional and national. And also I have another show, it's called Sentidos Opuestos, that's interviews.

And then I have also small videos of different news where I share my point of view regarding those news.

[Richard Bexon]
Wow. Well, you're a lot busier than me in the world of podcasts and TV, that's for sure. But yeah, hopefully maybe one day I'll follow in your footsteps, but not the political stuff, just the investing.

[Otto Guevara]
Yeah, in my case, it's public policy. What I do is public policy, fostering and promoting the ideas of liberty. I am a libertarian.

And so what I promote is that kind of public policies based on that philosophy, philosophy of liberty.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, I completely agree. I mean, I know you and I went to battle with the government during the pandemic and the QR code. And we won that one.

And that battle, we won it, yeah.

[Otto Guevara]

[Richard Bexon]
Well, Otto, I mean, markets seem to have stabilized a little bit here in 2024, but I mean, what are you seeing happening here in Costa Rica?

[Otto Guevara]
In 2024, we can expect, I can make comments in different areas. One is, one is tipo de cambio, that's the currency that we have is the appreciation of the colón. It's not good for exporters.

It's not good for companies that are exporting. They are receiving dollars that have a lower value vis-a-vis dollars that they were receiving two years, three years ago. So that's generating an impact on them.

And also for the free zones. And we foresee that this year, 2024, things are going to be more or less the same. The exchange rate will be around 500 colones per dollar.

And that will be, that will go all day during the four year. Maybe a central bank is going to lower the interest rate that they're paying in order to eliminate or in order to stop this incentive that right now there's a lot of people that have to bring dollars and invest in colones. And so that's generating some other problems.

So that's exchange rate. And the flows of direct investment in Costa Rica will keep on going. And we will experience an increase in foreign direct investment in the country.

There are different free zones, industrial parks that under the status of free zones that are being built in the area of, it's called Occidente, that's the area of Grecia, Arahuela, Grecia, that area. And that's attracting a lot of investment. On top of that, or to explain also why we're receiving and we foresee that in the year 2024 to 2025 and 2026, we'll be receiving a lot of foreign direct investment.

Also is related to the CHIPS Act in the USA. This CHIPS Act that was approved by the Congress in the U.S. is allowing Costa Rica to be recipient of investments that were in, in this years are located in Asian countries and they're being relocated near to the U.S. and near to the European markets. And Costa Rica has a pretty good advantage on that.

So we'll be receiving funds from the U.S. to work, to educate our labor and to improve the skills of the labor in order to offer this new investors, this human resource that can meet the expectations that they have while bringing this kind of investments in the country. So we're going to have an increase of investment in free zones. By the way, free zones are, in the last two years have shown an increase year per year, even higher than the rest of the economy.

Today the free zones are one of the turbines or motors of our economy. The other is an area in which you are very well kind of, you have a lot of knowledge on it. And that is, there's foreigners mainly from the U.S. and Canada coming to Costa Rica to invest in real estate. There is a lot going on in this direct investment that this people is doing in our country, in different, especially in the coast areas of our, the Pacific coast, especially. But again, in some other parts of the country, there are also a flow of foreign direct investment. And that's because we are perceived as a country with political stability.

And that's something, yes, that we have a political stability. If you compare Costa Rica with any of the countries in Central America, even Mexico, or down there in South America. So we have a competitive advantage because of that.

There is also a nice climate. And that's another reason why people come here. By the way, there's, Costa Rica is one of the most wanted searched places for retirement.

So there's a lot of people selling their assets in some other country, or basically receiving a pension in another country and coming here to Costa Rica. Even if Costa Rica is expensive under the standards of some other countries, even that situation, that is not hindering this high-end pension people that are coming to Costa Rica because of the high quality of life they can receive here. So we have free zones, we have foreign direct investment related to real estate, and tourism is also starting to go up.

Let me pause here for one second because I need to open the door.

[Richard Bexon]
No worries.

[Otto Guevara]
So we have these two motors of our economy, free zones and tourism. And also, right now, this foreign direct investment in real estate in different parts of the country, especially in the area of Guanacaste, Central Pacific, and South Pacific. And government is right now pushing forward some investment in infrastructure that we need badly in order to improve the quality of life, not only of the Costa Ricans, we that live here, but also of the tourists that we receive, also for the investments in free zones or whatever, to shorten the periods of transportation of the goods that they import, the raw materials, and then the finished products to the airports or to the ports. The government is right now investing a lot of money in some of the arteries of the infrastructure that we need for transportation.

And that's something good in the medium range or long range. You see in the pipeline some important projects, and that is something that will also increase the possibility for Costa Rica of even attracting more foreigners to invest in real estate, but also more companies investing, especially in industries, high-end industries, in the free zones. That's more or less what I see.

We have a problem right now with security, and we cannot avoid talking about that. And that's a challenge that we have as a country to cope with these criminal gangs that in the last years have been kind of proliferating in different parts of the country, and they're causing a serious problem of damaging the image of the country as a very safe place. And this is something that we need to cope with in the very short term.

And I don't see the necessary efforts from the government and the politicians in Congress to give more resources to the police forces. We need to invest in increasing the size of the police force and giving them the training and the equipment necessary to deal with that kind of criminal gangs. Also, we have to invest in intelligence and in order to follow them, identify where they are and apprehend these people and submit them to the courts.

And then also the courts, there is a lot of pressure from the public, from the citizens. We are not very happy with the way some judges are dealing with these criminals, because they have some tools to put them away for some time while they present all the charges, and they are releasing them every time they're being apprehended, they're being captured by the police, they put them in front of a judge and the judge releases them immediately. And so they keep on doing this, they keep on with this criminal behavior, and that is affecting us and also the image of the country.

This is one of the challenges that we have.

[Richard Bexon]
I agree. I was going to ask you, what things does Costa Rica just need to be wary of? And I definitely think security is one.

Is there anything else out there that you think that the government and the people should keep their eye on over the next coming years?

[Otto Guevara]
Related to the investment that we are attracting, especially to invest in properties and real estate, one of the things the government should be kind of worried and occupied and do something about it is la seguridad jurídica, basically the rule of law, the defense of private property. Right now, some areas of the country are facing some problems with the seguridad jurídica. I don't know how you say that in English.

Everything related to property rights not being properly defended by the government, the authorities. You have, from the Minister of Environment, some people with an ideology, a kind of extremist ideology, environmentalist. It's called the Minister of Environment, of these tree hoggers or these extreme environmentalists that are kind of pushing forward their ideology into private property and affecting investments that people have done for many, many years, either buying a piece of property just to keep it there or people even building things on houses or hotels or whatever on those properties and being threatened by these environmentalists that are these public employees in the Minister of Environment. You have a lot of NGOs also putting a lot of pressure on that particular end.

We need, and this is something I discussed yesterday with the President, I had a meeting with him yesterday, and I was telling him to form a task force basically to address problems with private property in the Zona Marítima Terrestre, in our two coasts, that's the 1,100 kilometers in the Pacific, 300 kilometers on the Caribbean. All the coastline has a special regime, and so that needs to be addressed because we're having some disparity of rules in different parts of the coastlines, in both coastlines, and that's a problem because many people that come to invest in the country come and many want to buy a piece of property in front of the ocean. And so that coastline has some particular rules and that needs to be amended.

And also islands in the Gulf of Nicoya, there is no property rights on the islands, and you have huge islands that can be exploited, developed, like the little islands of the Aegean Sea in Greece, all these Greek islands and the kind of development that you see in the different islands, we can have something like that in some of the islands that we have in the Pacific, that's the Gulf of Nicoya. We have problems in the borderlines, north and south with Nicaragua and Panama, there are two kilometers there with also problems with private property. You have also in the area of Limon, Tortuguero, and that area, we have a national park that is visited a lot by tourists, but the property rights in that area are kind of very weak and very blurred, and so that needs to be addressed.

You have Indian reservations, they just have a resolution, just extended an Indian reservation in the area of South Caribbean and went all the way to the beach, affecting owners that have been there for generations. So we have conflicts with private property, and that needs to be addressed by the government as soon as possible, because we don't want to project a bad image in the sense that we don't have clear rules for the investors, and that they come buy a piece of property, and then they find out that the property they bought, they cannot build what they are expecting to build, or the property has been taken away from them without any indemnization.

So we don't want that to happen, and that's something that needs to be addressed.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, I think for the listeners here, they just need to understand that Costa Rica is a country that's very open to foreign investment, done in the right way, if that makes sense. And I think there's always going to have to be that balance in Costa Rica, because I think that's what's made it so great, is that balance between sustainability, like eco-style investments, and not just cutting down rafts of rainforest to build certain things. So I think there's always going to need to be that balance there.

I get the sense that the current president is pro-investment and pro-development, which I haven't sensed as much from previous governments as much as this government.

[Otto Guevara]
I agree with you. He is more pro-business. He's a guy that worked for the World Bank for many years, 30 years, and he knows, by being the head of the World Bank office in Indonesia and some other countries, he knows what a country needs to solve many of the problems that they face and to build a well-being for everyone.

And also, more or less, he knows the path and the road for development. And that road basically requires a very strong participation from the private sector, so you cannot rely on government and investments of the government to pull everything, everybody up, in order to obtain these indexes of human development or whatever. So the development of the country should basically rely on the investments of the private sector.

And so he knows that. And in order to foster that kind of investment, you need to have property rights and you need to be able to dispose of your property. And also, you have to have the possibility of bringing foreigners.

They bring their money and they should be able to get the money out without any problems. So that's the things we've been doing during many years. But again, with presidents in the past, without this high commitment towards the private sector that we see in this president, Rodrigo Chávez, we still have two more years to go with his presidency.

And if you make an inventory of the different ministers, the minister that he has in the environment is what we call a market environmentalist. He was the pioneer many, many years ago with the payment of environmental services for people, for some of the people that want to preserve a piece of land or whatever with the forest. Yeah, with FONAFIFO, they got paid to basically preserve those forests or whatever.

This Pago por Servicios Ambientales, that was something that France was a pioneer in that kind of public policy. So he's the minister of environment. So he's on our side, on the side of people that want to do, that want to promote investments in the country with this balance that you mentioned, is the balance with sustainability.

The Costa Ricans right now have, in the last years, the sense for the protection of the environment has grown dramatically. And the new generations, but most of them, they embrace this new philosophy of how to improve our lives and get development and get investments, but at the same time preserving the environment and taking care of the environment. This is something that more and more you see all over the country.

We have some challenges also on that particular end, and that is that many of the sewage water of the Central Valley goes to the rivers without treatment. And this is one of the major, major challenges that we have. That's to clean up our rivers so that we don't pollute ocean, especially the Pacific Ocean.

And deforestation has stopped more or less. And right now, more people buy property basically to keep the forest and do trails on the property, the property that they bought, they construct, and then they build these little trails that go to different places to see a huge tree or to see a cascade here, a waterfall, or see the wonderful flora that we have, and also see some of the fauna, very interesting fauna that we have. And people is coming to a point where they have interiorized that by doing so, they can also increase their income because there are foreigners that value a lot that experience, that possibility of interact with nature and coming here and do this immersion in our nature, and also all the adventure that we have linked to also to nature.

And so this is something very interesting that you can see in Costa Rica right now.

[Richard Bexon]
Definitely. Well, I mean, a lot of people don't understand how politics and government works here in Costa Rica. I mean, like the president can only do four years, right?

He can come back again after another, but it's not like in the UK or in the US where they can do two consecutive terms. I mean, I think in the last presidential campaign, there was like 25 potential new presidential candidates. That's not normal.

Usually it's two or three. But I think that's what makes Costa Rica so special as well. But I mean, what are some of those main differences that you would say that people should be aware of?

[Otto Guevara]
Yeah. One of the things in our political system, one of the huge difference that we have with the US or UK that you mentioned is that it is rather easy to register a political party. So basically in Costa Rica to register at a national political party, because we have three levels.

There's the province, the county, and the country as a whole. So three levels of political parties. So to register a party at the national level, you only need 3,000 signatures supporting the intention of a group or forming a party.

You need 100 people assembling and saying, yes, we want to form a party and these are the bylaws of our party. And then you need to form an assembly in each one of the 84 counties of the country. For that, you need 12 people in each of those counties.

12 people, all of them can be related. So you can have a family and the people that are friends of the family. You have one family per county.

And with that, you are almost done to form a political party. And so for next election, election that we're going to have in February 2026, I foresee that we're going to have more parties than the parties we had in the election of year 2022. And maybe 35 parties, something like that.

That's one characteristic that differs a lot from the way this is structured, the participation of political parties in UK or in the USA. There is another very important policy here, and that's the proportional representation system to get a seat in Congress. We have a rather small Congress.

We are unicameral, 57 congressmen only, but we have a system to elect our congressmen that is based on this proportional representation. And to explain it very simple, let's say the province of Punta Arenas has, related to the population, has five congressmen. By the way, we have seven provinces.

Punta Arenas and Limon have the same amount of congressmen representing them in Congress. Again, 57 congressmen is the total. So Punta Arenas and Limon, they have, due to their population, they are allowed to elect five congressmen.

So you have 35 political parties participating. And then one political party receives 25% of the vote. Another one receives 15% of the vote.

Another one receives 12% of the vote. And then the rest of the party from 9% down. So you have one party with 12%, one party with 15%, and one party with 25%.

So how do you distribute the five seats that you have in Congress? So basically what you do is you have 100 divided by five, and that gives you a number. It's 20%.

You need 20%, that's called the cociente. You need 20% in order to elect one congressman. And so the party that got 25%, they got one seat.

Then you have four more seats to assign. Then you go to those parties that at least had reached half this amount. So from 10% on, you start distributing the seats.

So the party that got 15%, it gets one seat. The party that got 12% gets another seat. And there are two more seats to be distributed.

Then you have the party that got 20, and then with a residual of five, so that gets another seat. And then there is another seat to be assigned. So the party that got 15% get this other seat.

So this is very important because that allows minorities to be elected. And that's my case in San Jose. San Jose is a province that elects 19 congressmen.

And so the cociente is a little bit less than 5%. No, five something. And so the half cociente is 2.6, 2.7%. In the election of 1998, being the founder of the libertarian movement in Costa Rica, and I was running for Congress in 1998 in the province of San Jose, I received about 3% of the votes of San Jose, the province of San Jose for Congress. With that amount of votes, I got elected as a congressman. And so in Congress, there was a voice of a libertarian that was myself that had a different approach to public policy from the rest of the parties. So I received a lot of attention from the media during the next four years while I was working as a congressman.

And that allowed us to get recognized by the rest of the population. And many people felt identified with our public policies, with my fights. And so they voted for us in the next

We got about 12% as an average and we elected six congressmen from one to six out of the 57. That's how we increase our presence in Congress. That possibility doesn't exist in the US or UK.

The possibility is true. There's proportional representation and these public policies to allow minorities to get elected and have their voices being heard in Congress. That doesn't exist in those countries.

That's how I got elected. What we see right now in Costa Rica is the disintegration of the old political parties. We have right now a huge dispersion of political parties.

That has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages because voices like mine or ideological parties. Even if I don't share their views, for example, a communist party, very loyal to their ideology, can have some seats in Congress.

An environmentalist group can have some seats in Congress. A group that promotes gender equality or something like that can have some seats in Congress. The different styles and flavors of socialism that we have in Costa Rica can have also their representation as well as the classical liberals or libertarians or whatever.

All those voices coincide or go to Congress where we have this way of controlling the person that is in the executive branch. We have a very strong separation of powers. That's something that you don't see in Nicaragua, you don't see in El Salvador, you don't see that in Venezuela, you don't see that in many different countries.

In our country, yes, there is a separation of the executive and the legislative branch. That's an advantage. But the disadvantage is more or less what the president is facing.

Rodrigo Chavez, he got elected, he received the first round of votes. That's another thing. In order to get elected, you need 40% of the votes in the first round.

If you don't get that, if nobody gets that, you go to a second round, to a balotage. The two most voted go to a second round. Then the one that has one vote above the other is the one that wins.

So Rodrigo Chavez, our president, when he passed to the second round, he received 16.5% of the votes. That's not a good support for Congress. So he has a very small parliamentary group, and so that makes it difficult for him to get through Congress with some of the ideas that he wanted to implement.

So that's some of the problems that we have with this kind of dispersion of political parties.

[Richard Bexon]
But do you not also think that that has been one of the strengths of Costa Rica, of getting stuff done is so difficult sometimes that a lot of it is very organic, if that makes sense? Meaning that if Costa Rica had more of, and I don't want to use the word dictate, but not a dictator, but like a streamlined way of getting stuff done, we could overdevelop this country in two seconds.

[Otto Guevara]
I agree 100% with what you're saying. Actually, I've been in Congress twice, in 98, 2002. And by the way, to the people that are following your podcast, there is no consecutive re-election for congressman.

We have to step out for one period, and if we want to run again, we have to present our name four years afterwards. In the case of the president, it's eight years. He has to wait two terms to present his name again.

That was the only the only person that has been re-elected under those rules in Costa Rica has been Oscar Arias. He was president 86 to 90, and then president 2006 to 2010. And when I was congressman this last time, 2014 to 2018, I presented a bill in Congress, it is called governar sin excusas.

So you should govern without any excuses, in the sense that during decades, the president has said, yes, I would like to do this, but all the bureaucracy doesn't allow me to do that, because they put all these obstacles, whatever. So what I was doing with this bill was strengthening the authority of the president. It's basically removing some of the board directors, for example, of CETENA.

So remove the board directors and just have the minister nominate the director. And so it will be kind of a very, a very clear link with the minister and the director of CETENA and the same of the director of CINAC. So eliminate all the board directors or whatever.

In MOB, in infrastructure, for example, eliminate the board directors of CONAVI. CONAVI is the entity in charge of the maintenance of all the national roads. But again, it's the board directors, and they have a legal department, and they have this and this and that.

And MOB has its own legal department and blah, blah, blah. They duplicate bureaucracies, and they don't make decisions because they need the audit department to say this, and the legal department from this, and this, and this, and this. So to get things done here in the country has been very, very, very, very difficult.

See one example. One example related to foreign direct investment in free zones. The free zone of, I think it's Evolution in the area of Grecia, that free zone.

They asked the previous government, they asked for an authorization to build an access from the road that goes from San Jose to San Ramon to get this access to this area where they're going to build this huge industrial park that will be the host of all these huge investments in free zones. So there is a department in the Ministerio of Obras Publicas y Transportes, the minister that has to do with all this kind of infrastructure. And that application, that solicito, that petition from this businessman it remained there for four years.

Papers from one department to another, no one wanted to make a decision. This president came, and he was informed of what was going on, and he immediately ordered the minister to solve that. And they basically took the file to the office of the minister, and so the president was behind that saying, yes, that needs to be done.

Right now, one month ago, they finished an investment of $12 million paid by the businessman to make all this access from this very important road that goes to the area of Occidente, part of the Central Valley, but that was paid by the private sector. That was done, again, through a very strong leadership. Assuming him, the president, all the consequences of people that will present lawsuits against him, and present things in the DA's office in order to see if they can find some criminal charges against him, whatever.

So one of the problems that we have in the country is that if you're a public employee, if you don't make decisions, nothing happens. So everything is, the mood of the public employees is that no mood, because by saying no, or by procrastinating a decision, nothing happens. If you make a decision, granting a permit, allowing someone to do X or Y or Z, immediately, you're risking the possibility of being sued by someone, being presented before the DA's office, and then you have to confront a criminal process, an administrative process, any kind of judicial process, and you will have to pay that with your own money, because government doesn't pay you a lawyer that helps you defending from these denuncias, or these claims from NGOs, or from individuals, or from other public employees, or whatever.

So that's one problem we have with the system. Also with the municipalities. I have a client of mine, I'm a lawyer, by the way, and I have some clients.

I have a client of mine that has been waiting for many years for an authorization from a municipalidad to build a landfill for the Central Valley. And he has all the permits, all the permits from all the Minister of Environment, Minister of Health, from the government, from everywhere. So when you come to the municipality, in order to get the last permit, and that is el uso de suelo, that's the use of the land.

[Richard Bexon]
Of the land zoning? Zoning, yeah.

[Otto Guevara]
Zoning, whatever. So even if there is no plan regulador, because there is no zoning law in that area, they cannot, in theory, they cannot reject that request. They are not allowing my client to get a permit to Las Aguas Pluviales.

That's the rainwater, they're going to build a roof in this industrial area, where they're going to classify the trash or whatever. They have this roof, so they need the permit so that the water that comes out of the roof needs to go to a little quebrada, a little stream that goes there. And the municipality says, no, I will not allow you to, I'm not giving you that kind of permit.

Because that way, they will stop the possibility of that landfill, and I know what it implies. This company, because it's a company that will do this processing of recycling and processing the trash of the Central Valley. So this client of mine, they hired me a couple of months ago in order to see if we can deal with these politicians.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, Otto, if I know you, you'll get the job done, sir. So anytime we've worked together, you've always got it done. I mean, that private investment is no different than our salutes here in Costa Rica.

Again, a lot of them are all developed by private individuals, because people are like, well, why is there not better water infrastructure here? Is there not enough water? And I'm like, no, there's enough water.

There's just the infrastructure is not great, but it requires private money to put in the infrastructure in a lot of these locations to develop these areas.

[Otto Guevara]

[Richard Bexon]
You know, and you could buy a piece of land for, say, a million bucks, but it's $500,000 in water infrastructure just to get water to your lot. And you're like, wow, that's $1.5 million now. And that's even before you've got started.

[Otto Guevara]
Yeah. Right now, I've been very critical about the way the national entity of water, Aqueductos Alcantarillados, manages the water system in Costa Rica. And also, the way Somazadas are kind of left alone without capabilities of doing better investments and enlarge their aqueducts they have under their control.

And right now, due to all this pressure that many of us have been exercising on Aqueductos Alcantarillados, the new executive president of this institution has said, hey, Aqueductos, right now, Aqueductos will change the policy. And basically, we will not deny the access to water, the disponibility of water. And even if we don't have yet the water, we are assuming a compromise that in the next month, six months, we'll do whatever we need to do in order to guarantee that you're going to have your water.

We don't want you, investor, to stop your investments because there is no disponibility. We're going to give you a letter that says, yes, water will be ready when you will need it. And I know six months, eight months, or one year, for example.

Because some projects, in order to do all the planning, to do everything, it takes sometimes one year to do the planning to start construction. But you need the water in one year. And so the government is saying, I will assure that you're going to have the water in a year.

You have the letter, so go to the municipality or to whatever it needs. With that letter, they cannot stop Utah to keep on with the rest of the procedure to get the construction permits. So that's a change that was done 15 days ago, three weeks ago.

And so, but again, it's not enough because they have to deliver. And they, right now, they need to open their minds for the investment of the private sector. Because this is a lot of ideology, this socialist ideology, that everything should be done within the government, done by the government.

And if the government is not behind, so you cannot have access to water. Even if you can do a perforation and get water for your project, even if someone can do this perforation, do this kind of, to get the water, put it into a, store the water into this storage tank, and then do the potabilization needed. And then start building all the aqueduct for the distribution.

That can be done privately, perfectly, with a concession of the government. But they need to open their mind in order to eliminate this obstacle. Because there are a lot of places in the country where people would like to invest, but right now they're not doing it because they don't have water.

[Richard Bexon]
Well, and they're probably areas that need investment, Otto. You know, like we've always thought about like, okay, how do you highlight areas in Costa Rica that have high unemployment or need development and education, where the private sector can be incentivized somehow, and probably doesn't need incentivizing, but to develop tourism in some of these areas, or develop industrial parks that then hire, you can hire people, educate them, like, yeah. So, I mean, let me just change gears here, Otto, because I know we're getting kind of towards the end here.

I mean, what do you think are the areas in Costa Rica that are ripe for investment, for kind of foreign investment, really focused on, I would say, kind of more real estate kind of hospitality? I mean, what are the areas that you just think that are just like, guys, these are really prime areas?

[Otto Guevara]
Yeah, right now, the magnet of investment is in the area of Guanacaste, because there is an international airport in Guanacaste, and they need to improve the size of the airport, the services, the terminals and the whole building to receive this thousands of tourists that we're receiving every year on that airport. Also for the private jets that are landing there. So all the area within a radius of, I don't know, maybe one hour private distance from the airport, one hour, two hours from that airport is kind of hot right now, is a lot of investment is being done there.

And also that brings another pressure, and the pressure of the government to fulfill needs of this flow of capital that is going there. And that is to improve the quality of the roads. That means that many of the roads that go alongside the beach should be paved.

There is some work that is being done already in some areas, but it's not completed yet. So that needs to be done. The thing with water that we were talking about, and also review of property, of private property rights to see that we don't have any problems with that.

And also the other thing that is very important is to prepare the human resources that all these investments, tourist investments, and the other one that is that second home or third home. So of this foreign direct investors, or even Costa Ricans that go and have a second home or third home there close to the beaches. We need, as a country, we need to improve the skills of the people of the area in order not to kick them out of where they have lived for generations, but also to, but on the contrary, to give them an opportunity to prosper due to this huge investments that we are experiencing in that area.

So there is a challenge for the government with all this state agencies, whatever, in order to give them the proper education. It can be formal education, even high school, to finish high school, but also technical education to many of these people. That also, there is this kind of accompanying them in the possibility of starting businesses that will give services to the hotels or whatever, and I know that the people of Papagayo, for example, instead of having them the buses to transport the employees or whatever, taking care of the lawn and the gardening and the landscape or whatever, they look for people in the community, they give them the skills and the tools for them to provide that kind of services. So that kind of integration of communities with the benefit that we're receiving as a country, it will be important because you will also diminish the amount of people in poverty and you can even have a public policy that says, we will eliminate the misery and poverty in this area of the country. And you can do it by basically combining the efforts from the private sector, the investments of a public sector, and you will improve dramatically the lack of people.

So that's one magnet. There is another land of opportunities, thinking on investments that will be done in the future. So that all the South Pacific, middle and South Pacific, there is gonna be sooner or later an international airport in that area.

And that will open the door also for investors and people investing in properties in that area from Dominical down to Golfito, even Pavone. So all that areas is an area that will kind of... Right now, there is a lot of people that don't want the crowd of Guanacaste or some of the region of Guanacaste, they go and invest in the area of Uvita, this national park that we have in the Central Pacific area.

And to watch the whales during the winter season. So that's another area where there is some investment. And also the area of Fortuna, it's always Fortuna, Monteverde, those are areas where there is a lot of people going there.

All the tourists that come to Costa Rica, they put in their plans, Monteverde, Fortuna. There is a road that goes right now from Monteverde to Tilaran, then you go drive around the lake and you end up in Fortuna, very kind of close by. And there is a lot of things to do there.

So those are areas where there is a lot of investment that is being right now is kind of funneling all these kinds of investment. And in the South Caribbean, even if there is this, even Costa Ricans, we don't go normally to the Caribbean for vacation. But the South Caribbean of our country is beautiful and has a lot of potential also.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah. Well, my last question for you, Otoz, I know I've kept you long enough and you're very busy. And again, I really appreciate you taking time to come on the podcast.

If you inherited $500,000 and you had to invest it into business or real estate in Costa Rica, what would you invest it in and why?

[Otto Guevara]
I am kind of conservative in the sense that I like land. I like land. I will, I can tell you, investing in, I don't know, in the stock market of the US or investing in bitcoins or any other crypto asset or whatever.

I'm still kind of conservative and I will look for properties that are a great kind of opportunity because I see that the owner of the property needs to get rid of it for X or Y reason. And I see the potential that it comes or what I can do. I can bring in some other people to put some capital and develop a piece of property.

So if I, that's what I've done throughout my life is find a piece of property and then having some people come and join me as partners. And then put some concept on the property and then sell it in a very much higher price. And I think I will go, I will look for those opportunities in real estate, Richard.

[Richard Bexon]
Any particular areas also that you would look at doing that?

[Otto Guevara]
Right now, I am basically, I'm promoting, I have a very good friend of mine that brought along a lot of money from Venezuela some years ago. And he is telling me, listen, I invested in properties all over the country and I'm giving them my way. Help me liquidate that because I have some other plans.

And so right now I'm helping the guy liquidate those assets. And some of them are more easy to sell because where they are located. Piece of property in downtown Playa del Coco, 8,000 square meters.

Is 200 meters away from the boulevard that goes to the beach, one kilometer from the beach. So that piece of property is, right now I have, I spoke to a friend of mine that is a developer and he's going to build some houses there. My client is going to put the land.

I'm going to get some money out of this transactions. And so, but everything is location, location, location. This guy has properties, they're kind of valuable, but people don't go that often to those places.

So you don't have that many people wanting to buy this piece of land that he has in some areas. He has 380 hectares in Guapiles. Wow, in Guapiles.

Almost all of it is a primary forest linked to natural parks and everything. And that is a property that has a great potential of building a small hotel and having these 380 hectares plus the rest. And he's selling that in $1 million.

[Richard Bexon]
That's a pretty good price for 380 hectares.

[Otto Guevara]
For 380 hectares, yeah. And it's basically from San Jose, one hour.

[Richard Bexon]
Yeah, wow. Well, Otto, this has been great having you on the podcast and kind of explaining how Costa Rica's political system and investment system works. I'll put all your contact details in the description for anyone that wants to reach out to you, but really appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast with us, sir.

[Otto Guevara]
No, I'm very grateful with your invitation, Richard. I'm here basically for, I am one message away to WhatsApp, I'm one message away from anything that you need, Richard. Fantastic, well, I appreciate it.

Otto, you have a great day. Okay, the same to you, bye-bye.

Let's Get in Touch!

When investing in Costa Rica, it's always good to understand what makes it such a unique and stable place to invest. Otto Guevara Guth, former congressman and three-time Presidential candidate, chats with me about politics and investing in Costa Rica.

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