La Carpio: Economic and Social Reality of a Nicaraguan Immigrant Community in Costa Rica


Emma Keough

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In academic and popular circles, Costa Rica is hailed as the "success story" of Latin America because it is both economically prosperous and politically stable. That apparent success has, in the past twenty years, also drawn hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguan immigrants across the border, where they have settled in slums like La Carpio, in San Jose. In Costa Rican popular discourse, Nicaraguan immigrants are frequently blamed for society's ills, with La Carpio, in particular, disparaged as a haven for shiftless criminals who drain government resources, yet little effort has been made to understand their experience. Through a combination of participant-observation and neighborhood study, this project will address the following question: What is the economic and social reality of a Nicaraguan immigrant living in a San Jose slum? My research will consist of living, volunteering, observing, and interacting with residents in La Carpio. I will also conduct interviews with community leaders, service providers, and experts, as well as residents. There is a desperate need for accurate, humanizing portrayals of life for Nicaraguan immigrants in La Carpio. My research will provide information about the economic and social experience in La Carpio that will highlight both the struggles they endure and the contributions they make to Costa Rican society.


Alexandra Puerto




The Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - International Fellowship

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