CRC Daily: Costa Rica's backstab bridge

Let's hope the bridge is stronger than the relationship it represented.

If you’re driving to the Nicoya Peninsula and traverse a mighty bridge over the Tempisque River, watch your back.

Officially named Puente la Amistad de Taiwan (Taiwan Friendship Bridge), the 780-meter-long structure is colloquially known as Puente de la Apuñalada — Backstab Bridge.

As far as we know, no one has actually been stabbed in the back there. So, what gives?

The bridge was designed, financed and built by Taiwan in 2003 at a cost of $26 million. Its inauguration was a landmark day for the Nicoya Peninsula, as the overpass replaced the existing ferry service and made it significantly easier to reach Sámara, Nosara, and other now-popular tourist destinations in the region.

“This bridge will not only be a landmark, but a symbol of the everlasting friendship that exists between Taiwan and Costa Rica,” project director Jack Chang said at the time.

Chang was wrong on both counts. The bridge remains functional but is in need of repairs — and it has already survived longer than the friendship it represented.

In 2007, just four years after the bridge was completed, Costa Rica announced it had severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of a relationship with China.

"We are looking to strengthen commercial ties and attract investment. China is the most successful emerging economy in the world," said then-President Oscar Arias.

Costa Rica lost the friendship, but kept the bridge. China, for its part, gifted Costa Rica its new National Stadium, proving once again that the best way to a Tico’s heart is through soccer.

Puente la Amistad remains a vital piece of Costa Rican infrastructure. Now, you know its darker history.

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