By: Chrissie Long
The Tico Times Staff
Costa Rica’s upper arm on the Pacific, known for its expansive beaches and steep volcanoes, is celebrating the day it became part of Costa Rica this weekend.
Replete with lively folk dances, cattle fairs and traditional food such as atoles, chorreadas, and elotes, Guanacaste’s Annexation is always described as a “fiesta.”
In 1824, leaders of the Nicoya Peninsula voted to secede from Nicaragua and join Costa Rica. The region had just gained independence from Spain three years earlier.
But it wasn’t until 1848 that the 4,015 square mile area became the province of Guanacaste, named for a distinctive tree in the area.
In honor of the 185th anniversary, Liberia, the provincial capital, is hosting an evening road race on Friday, a running of the bulls at 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, a concert at 5 p.m. on Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday and a series of livestock events such as a horse parade on Saturday. (For more information visit www.expoliberia.com).
In Nicoya, 5,000 people are expected for the Grand March for Dignity, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on the outskirts of the city, marching toward the central park.
Participants in the march are planning to demonstrate their support for the Coastal Community Law designed to prevent the extinction of coastal and fishing towns. According to the preamble to the bill, these communities face destruction and exploitation of natural ecosystems, poverty and lack of opportunity, among other negatives.
“It’s a day that we celebrate our annexation, a decision that brought much peace and tranquility to the region,” said Wilmar Matarrita, president of the Ecumenical Forum for Alternative Development in Guanacaste ( FEDEAGUA).
“But in reality, we have become one of the most poor and abandoned provinces in the country. Most of the country’s resources are invested in the center, leaving Guanacaste in a poor state,” he added, explaining the reason for the march.
On Saturday, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias will travel to the region and inaugurate a series of public works, including an aqueduct in Maguenco, bridges over the Perioco and Grande rivers and housing projects in Nicoya and Santa Cruz.
He’ll be in Nicoya at 11 a.m. Saturday for the celebration of Annexation Day.