CRC Daily: Free talk Friday

We answer your questions about Costa Rica news and travel.

Happy Friday from The Costa Rica Daily! Today, we inaugurate “Free Talk Friday,” our end-of-week mailbag. Send us your questions throughout the week, and we’ll pick some to answer next Friday.

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Let’s dive right in with this week’s conversation:

Does it ever snow in Costa Rica?

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas in Costa Rica, your best bet might be to find a snowy screensaver for your phone. Occasionally, residents of mountainous communities wake up to white-covered lawns that looks like it snowed. In 1914, a Costa Rican periodical published this photo from Poás Volcano:

More recently, there have been reports of dustings on Irazú Volcano and on Cerro de la Muerte.

But is it actually snow? Not quite. According to the National Meteorological Institute, the most likely culprit is a large amount of small hail or granular snow — essentially, tiny ice crystals.

Under the Rio Treaty, let’s say Honduras were attacked and invoked the treaty. What could or would Costa Rica contribute? It doesn’t seem Costa Rica is in much of a position to offer a meaningful military contribution.

Costa Rica’s lack of a military created uncertainty about its ability to remain in the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Treaty), notes analyst Francisco Alfaro Pareja. In the case of the TIAR, “no State was obliged to use armed force without its consent,” allowing Costa Rica to stay in the TIAR without needing to employ armed forces “in matters of third parties which could violate its figure of neutrality.”

While the TIAR is rarely invoked, Costa Rica in 2019 voted in favor of economic and travel sanctions against Venezuelan authorities. Nicolás Maduro’s government responded by saying the TIAR “has proven useless” in maintaining peace or preventing U.S. military aggression.

What are the insurance requirements to enter Costa Rica?

During the coronavirus pandemic, most non-citizens entering Costa Rica must have medical insurance that covers COVID-19. Let’s break it down:

  • Tourists must purchase an insurance plan that covers COVID-19 and extended lodging expenses. The official requirements are listed here, but generally speaking: INS and Sagicor plans are pre-approved; any other policy must cover $50,000 in medical expenses and $2,000 for extended lodging costs.

  • Foreign residents must prove they’re current on payments into the public-health system (Caja). That can be validated here. Otherwise, they must purchase temporary health insurance — as if they were a tourist — covering at least 22 days.

  • Costa Rican citizens are free to enter the country with or without insurance.

Tourists, residents and citizens do not have to quarantine after arriving in Costa Rica.

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