Landlessness continues to be an area of contention that is complicated by the efforts to preserve large tracks of land for national parks: fueled by “debt-for-nature swaps”.
 Also, Costa Rica has an open immigration policy that has led to over a million Nicaraguans and Columbians coming to the country fleeing poverty and violence.
In the 1990s all international agents with influence in the region equated democracy with “free market” capitalism. This approach did not encourage institutional reform but rather strict adherence to the principals of structural adjustment (see slide 29).
Came to be called the neoliberal agenda: sell public enterprises, reduced public regulation, scaling back of subsidies, tariffs, quotas and all other impediments to the free functioning of markets, fiscal and monetary restraint. All this hit the fledgling social welfare programs in the region hard, increasing the incidence of poverty.
In other words, the capacity of the state as a vehicle for change was arrested by these policies during the 1990s and early 2000s.