Intertribal Slavery

              This paper discusses the similarities and differences between three groups of slave-holding North American Indian tribes and their considerable evolution, from recorded history to the late 19th century. The Cherokee and Chickasaw were subtly different tribes in the present southeastern United States, while the Haida inhabited a very small coastal portion of northwestern British Columbia.

              Haida are currently located in their historical locale, which is intuitive given the remote access and infrequent contact from outsiders. Due to their proximity to the Russia-North American land bridge, they have been in the area for at least 17,000 years.1 The Haida did not necessarily need slaves because land and labor was plentiful; slavery was more likely to be a token of wealth, and some controversy exists as to their share of the populace (1% to 25% of the population)2 The tribe was averse to European contact, and would attack those attempting to trade or survey.

              Although the population is now at historical levels, smallpox had eliminated 90% of the population during the mid-19th century.3 As such, the tribe was no longer a domineering powerhouse in the region, amenable to Canadian and American government diplomacy as a survival mechanism. The Haida subsisted on fishing with canoes and 3,000 ancestors remain, some of which still ply the trade of fishing.4 Many of the Haida have traded their canoes (in the 1800s, they occasionally added cannons to their vessels)5 and fearsome warrior skill for carving and weaving The tribe boasts many artists, whom without exaggeration are world-renowned6,7.

              Cherokees were one of the most sophisticated Indian tribes, with intermarriage between whites and self-described “reds” not too frowned upon by the proletariat. Of note, the Cherokee never held more than a nominal number of slaves and most of those were held by mixed race families. Although a lenient constitution was drafted in 1827 and slaves were freed concurrently with the United States before the civil war, litigation for former so-called Cherokee Freedmen is still ongoing.8
The Chickasaw peoples were theoretically allied with the English settlers. However, generally speaking, the English universally enslaved tribes, even up to the Northwest, and even traded with the Haida9. While the French and Spanish attempted to justify their actions legally, the English purposefully omitted any justification for their enslavement. 2 to 4 million Indians were enslaved during colonial times10, and the majority of this paradigm occurred before 1750. After this time period, the import of Africans exceeded that of Indian enslavement.11 The Chickasaw population reached a nadir of 1,600 during the turn of the 18
th century; during this time period they were allied with Spanish traders as well.12

              The Cherokee and Chickasaw were ostensibly natural enemies prior to colonial discovery of the Americas. This is not exceptional considering general alliances appear to be more rare among Indian tribes without any kinship ties. The Cherokee during the 1700s were in the coastal Atlantic, while the Chickasaw were in Louisiana, so either entity would have to make a concerted effort to attack one another. The land between the two was largely unclaimed until a strategically placed Shawnee group was invited from the north, at the confluence of Spanish, French and English interests.13 In order to war within another tribe, the Cherokee or Chickasaw would have to traverse through hostile Shawnee territory (the Shawnee had a uniquely fierce reputation not common among the Civilized Tribes and agrarian-focused southeast corridor).

              From the perspective of the self-admitted materialistic Spanish, the Cherokee did not need slaves but still kept them. In fact, the slaves were perceived to be treated so well that they were allowed to leave, but did often did not. Their social placement within the tribe was akin to many other tribes, that of lower social class and deviants.14

               The Cherokee had a warrior rank of slave-catcher, which despite their ability to keep their slaves, held little true power within the hierarchy. The word for a Chickasaw slave was called atsi nahsa’i, or one who is owned, so in name these slaves were chattel15. Those that were captured could intermarry within the tribe and there was little focus on hereditary retention, the women and children captured had a similar fate.16

              These warriors did not have a desire to trade their slaves which were essentially like medals in modern battle, but their chiefs much desired the material goods and became dependent on the wares of the Europeans. This desire caused obvious intra-tribal conflict and the elites pressed for more slave raids to retain bargaining chips.17 When this pool of proximal captives dried up in the mid-1700s, the Cherokee decided to begin capturing escaped African slaves or even stealing them and re-selling them. This caused conspicuous quarrels with fringe English and soon American militia and regulars. In order to stop this diplomatic impasse with its main trading partner, the Cherokees used their newfound albeit minute wealth to begin acquiring African slaves legally and essentially abandoned the war captive or kinship slavery, and began their history of Western-style chattel slavery.18

              Perdue comments on the spiritual similarities of Cherokee and their West African captive, including the practice of kinship slavery within their histories.19 Despite this, these slaves were treated worse as they were very much the “other”. The American land grab diminished and demasculated the Cherokee, quelling their ability to hunt and develop their land for agrarian purposes. The women in the tribe saw their almost egalitarian power diminish with the advent of chattel slavery, as they were less important in their traditional agrarian and domestic roles. Elderly chiefs ceded power to the young slavecatchers in the early 1800s, and neither had much experience in diplomacy, furthering misunderstandings with the impinging American threat.

              Before their power’s demise, George Washington suggested another switch to cope with the loss of plantation land, to a less-land intensive practice of hog and sow farming.20 The gains by the tribe were not only tangible but were demonstrated in education, with a retrospectively amazing 39% of Cherokee reported to be literate in English,21 up from zero a century prior. Adapting the European way of chattel slavery cemented the tribe as a power in the region, but the novel commerce solution was unceremoniously terminated by their grueling and impending displacement.

              By 1831, the Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes were removed from their much-desired lands, although the Chickasaw suffered less simply due to their shorter distance and residency, as they were already west of the Appalachian region.22 Both the Chickasaw and Cherokee adapted traditional chattel-style slavery and were allies to the Confederates during the U.S. Civil War, but even their remaining local stakes were not located in areas ravaged by battles. After the elimination of non-American antagonists disguised as trading partners, a treaty between the two tribes was brokered by the Confederacy in 1861.23

              As a caveat, large plantation owners and chattel purveyors were Native American only in contrast to upper-crust English ancestry aristocrats, in modern times perhaps they would just be referred to as Caucasian. John Ross was a slave-owner that would not qualify as being Native American using the modern quantum blood requirements as he was only 1/8th Cherokee, and had blonde hair and blue eyes.24 His rival was the Ridge family, a group that also held slaves and was responsible for the trail of tears relocation. Ross firmly believed in education and was relocated with slaves, and executed the Ridge family after his arrival to Oklahoma.25

              While these two tribes paint a linear and understandable evolution of slavery through a Western lens, a discussion of the Haida is more unique and intriguing. In candor, this paper would be solely about the Haida if a more diverse base of readily-available sources were present. Due to that dearth, the terms Haida and Tlingit will be used interchangeably, even though this is semantically incorrect (as a heuristic, it would not be uncommon for a Haida’s cousin could be Tlingit).26
The northwest tribes of North America, namely the Haida, were slavery connoisseurs.
A universal axiom throughout history (mentioned in a Greek treatise27 and abolitionist pamphlets28) was no exception in the far reaches of North America — “The life of a slave depended entirely upon the character of his master”. The Haida were a character of intrepid brutality. They practiced hereditary slavery and what essentially was tantamount to chattel. The Haida were consummate gamblers, and like other First Nations tribes offered slaves as collateral for gambling or even their own daughters.29 McLeod suggests the anomalous region of originally non-chattel slavery was actually the southeast, and chattel slavery was widely practiced elsewhere. He also hints the rationale for this lies in their strong Asian roots. Most compelling, slaves captured by the Haida that were highly esteemed in their former tribes only to be shunned by their families.

            At the peak of chattel slavery in the late 19th century, the Haida may have not numbered more than 1,000, with 1/3rd of them being slaves.30 So, to a degree, this exploration is in perhaps gratuitous detail. What is intriguing is the dominance of the Haida and Tlingit in literature versus the dozens of geographically-proximally tribes when they numbered so few. Their hereditary slavery practices made them unique.

              In candor, this paper would be exclusively devoted to to the fascinating practices of the Haida, even considering it was not uncommon for Indians writ large throughout North America31,32 to perpetuate what is frankly tantamount to medieval torture of their captives — in terms that exceeded scalping, but slowly burning captives alive while being scalped. Upon further examination the sole idiosyncrasy about Haida slavery is the hereditary aspect of the bondage (when a male slave was rarely not murdered at the behest of the chief). This manifested as perpetual personae non gratae. Commentary suggests this was restricted to male slaves and their kin; the ones left alive were stripped of their masculinity and could have been servants for women, with captive women taking the same role.33

              Giving slaves a degree of independence but still keeping them captive would probably yield a net negative effective in terms of energy expenditure. Haida were not particularly agrarian and were hunters, and slave amalgamation into this milieu presents obviously difficulty. Many other tribes had the eventual fade of the black mark of slavery and ritualistic integration of captives, like the Natchez34, or in Plains Indians, tacitly allowing a means to escape or permission of suicide when carrying capacity was exceeded.

            The difficulty of deep exposition lies in the intrinsic absence of sources readily available; the majority of the narrative relies on Russian accounts (Haida were more friendly to them, as they were not necessarily new faces) and the works assimilated by Donald but parsed here in terms of individual ethnographies. Since the Haida were essentially undefeated by small parties of European settlers and/or potential traders, details are limited to Russian mariners and post-facto accounts after their decimation to smallpox, discussed later.
The Haida would enslave the Tlingit, sell surrounding tribes from 200 miles inland, and the Tlingit would enslave their own clan. The Tlingit, who bought slaves from Haida (the only true slave capturing entity on the far Northwest coast) have limited literature on slaves integrated into their society, because they worked beside them, invisibly.35 If a slave is defunct he or she could have been refunded; a slave frequently costs about 100-200 blankets. One Tlingit slave (enslaved as compensation for a homicide) was kept for 40 years, and when they passed, the slaveholder asked and was given renumeration for their death from the offending family’s coffer.36 According to testimony by a Captain Golovin, Tlingit slaveholders killed their property as of 1862, against the urging of Russians to be sold. If slaves were killed by a fit of alcohol, chiefs and brokers would seek compensation from the Russian pioneers, who had supplied the killers with said alcohol.37 Debt slavery was also a possibility yet less common.

            The Haida and other Northwest Coast tribes started wars which were de facto slave raids. At most 25% of the population was likely enslaved here, with 25% of the titleholders owning slaves. The remaining 50% were common people.38 As Alaska and Canadian government pressed in on the tribes in the mid-nineteenth century, more child adoptions and wiving occurred, but these new family members were not actually kin and were on the lowest rung of the social ladder.39

              The Chickasaw and Cherokee were presented with the same problem the South was after the Civil War, but the consequences were worse. Outside of the elite, Native American tribes were poor and many of the freedmen were illiterate. There was not even the false hope of 40 acres and a mule as the Chickasaw’s land was being redistributed. Since the Five Civilized Tribes were being repatriated, no safety net existed with regards to their freedoms and they were not immediately offered land (the Dawes Rolls, discussed later, were implemented 20 years later by the Curtis Act).
Jeltz establishes the argument that the Chickasaw and the Choctaw adapted chattel slavery full saddle, and the Chickasaw were the exception to the rule of intermarriage. Select tribes banned miscegenation with slaves. Slaveholding tribes sided with the confederacy and in turn ostensibly severed the treaties held with the northern government. This an abject humanitarian crisis after the South’s loss in the civil war, with black freedmen being released to an Indian territory infrastructure fully unable to handle mass quantities of destitute former slaves.40 Chickasaw’s did not grant rights to their former freedmen at the time of the Dawes Rolls41; this was in contrast to the rest of the Five Civilized Tribes offering some token compensation, even if it was not plausible.
At the time of the slave treaty in 1886, the Cherokee (including 2,000 blacks) amounted to 23,000. Only 1% of full blooded Cherokee owned slaves. Among the total tribe, $300,000 was split on a per capita basis. Over the period of 1890 to 1930, the Five Tribes lost 18 million acres of land42, mostly due to self-sale but also to the occasional illegal scam. (An oft-repeated statistic about African American land loss is from 1910 to 1997 [neglecting between these years], approximately 13 million acres43
,44 brewing many works about dozens of contributors to this phenomena). The courts of the United States always dictated the freedmen should receive their fiscal allotment, but the issue of tribal sovereignty45 posits a tough question about their jurisdiction in the matter.

              The Chickasaw were the least scrupulous of the civilized tribes in terms of recognizing the rights of freedmen within their purview. The reason for this indifference towards the plight of their former property was the implicit infrequency of Chickasaw-African intermarriage throughout texts. Moreover, Chickasaws had been strongly allied with the English since first contact, supplied with guns to fend off intertribal slavery, and switching sides between the most powerful colonists in the region by virtue of their coveted geographic location46. Their trade location made their firepower so profuse they went challenged but never broken by European enslavement. A quote of Snyder, in Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America, is as follows: “Chickasaws and their ancestors had captured their enemies, whom they felt they could kill, adopt, or sell according to Chickasaw needs. After all, war captives lack kin ties in Chickasaw communities, and thus they had no rights”47.             

              The custom of intermarriage is more commonly mentioned in Cherokee histories as technically illegal, in practice just frowned-upon, and was still occurring48. Further, by the juncture of reconstruction and emancipation, the Cherokee had been enslaved during periods of instability and weakness — by both Native American tribes49 and Europeans50. Europeans did not covet Cherokees as slaves (it was more likely the Cherokees coveted Europeans for having them), although enslavement did occur and usually through a middleman, like the Chickasaw.

                            While the Cherokee Nation offered substantial legal challenge against the freedmen, they               were most accepting of them, even before the Dawes Rolls were required.51 In contrast, the             Chickasaw did not offer formal segregated education nor offer citizenship. This was at the ex-            pense of proceeds from their sale of western lands to the US government, held in escrow until             Chickasaw rights were bestowed upon their freedmen. These proceeds were forfeited and not dis            tributed.52,53

              The population of the Chickasaw never amounted to more than 5,000 in the 1700s (note that only young men were counted)54, but that population was deeply involved with both English and French colonists, primarily due to their proximity to the Mississippi River. The Chickasaw were allied by the British and the nearby Choctaw’s with the French, while the French frequently attempted to sway the Chickasaw into their camp. This back and forth occurred until their murder of a French fur trader, disallowing them from further flip-flopping.55

              Trading was the trade of the Chickasaw, mimicking their British and French counterparts around the basin of the Mississippi river.56 As such, the Chickasaw found themselves raiding nearby tribes (some closely related by clan) and selling to the English. Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville, a French colonist, attempted to wedge a gap between the English and Chickasaw by stating (correctly) that the English were buying Chickasaw slaves taken captive and literally selling them down the river57.

              The predominant similarity between Chickasaw and Cherokee (besides being repatriated to adjacent locales in Oklahoma) is their handling of modern court decisions regards to slavery. Each of the tribes have ever-shifting amendments being adapted, moreso than the U.S. model it was adapted from; a miasma allowing more immediate and dynamic policy decisions.58 Recent decisions have set precedent for the other Five Civilized Tribes to be challenged in court, and legal challenges will certainly continue past November 2017, the date of this paper’s authorship.59

              The substantive difference in each tribe’s standing is the issue of benefits. Even though the Cherokee have adopted a softer stance than the Chickasaw, it is still a contentious issue among quantum Cherokees populace, despite conciliatory efforts at the highest levels of Cherokee government. The legal dissension eventually culminated in the acceptance of Cherokee Nation vs. Nash et al. (originally decided in intertribal court and transferred to federal court), which stated that the Cherokee freedmen are not materially different from their quantum counterparts.60
It is a large task to quantitatively discern the impact of such a tumultuous historical record for these three tribes, especially in such a historical blink of an eye. The Haida, although they are under the purview of the Canadian government now, do not appear to have massively endemic problems due to Westernization. Gradually the discontent against Europeans waned to a dull roar by 1970, focusing on the absence of perfect wealth distribution between the North and South Haida territories.61 By all presented accounts, however, they are flourishing, having never really left being the ultimate player in their (albeit tiny) region.

              The possible detrimental effect and lasting dis-enfrachisement is oft-discussed throughout literature and enslavement of Africans in the United States and Caribbean, especially in consideration of land loss. The Dawes Act and Curtis Act (and their amendments) alone took about 150 million acres of land, and since Native Americans were one of the few inhabitants of North America (plainly) this is likely closer to 1.5 billion acres in total62, as one could simply subtract their current reservation space.

              One aspect that could be investigated is natal alienation, since the tribe was sent to Oklahoma via the infamous Trail of Tears. The city of Chickasaw, Mississippi has effectively no individuals that describe themselves as fully Native American, and they currently represent less than 0.1% of the population there63. This county name was not a misnomer, the Chickasaw were entrenched in the area as late as 1800s64, their grip diminished by the void of French and Spanish expulsion.            

            Native Americans and African Americans are still disproportionately represented in poverty reports. While 10% of Caucasians are under the federal poverty guidelines, 23% of Native Americans and 28% of African Americans are impoverished65, the latter with a dizzying amount of diverse and extant negative economic consequences66,67. Native Americans, despite their robust healthcare system have public health problems within the realms of diabetes68 and alcoholism (highest rates as percentage when racially stratified)69; research is delineated even in Cherokee tribal subsets. The Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes do not have a significant data presence in the top 20 poorest communities with Native American populations70. Now, Chickasaw and Cherokee number 45,000 and 60,000 respectively, higher than their historical norms.71

              Current political policies of Native Americans are (although not homogeneous) are somewhat liberal compared to the country in which they are now ensconced. Health insurance is nationalized72 and casinos are explicitly allowed, providing the impetus for pilot projects like a basic universal income73. What is clear is that each tribe discussed here did not come out on top, but rather stayed afloat by a series of adaptive and diplomatic mechanisms, building on their innovation and sheer presence of will. The ouster of Cherokee and Chickasaw from their homelands could have been a fatal blow to the fortunes of these entities, and clearly endemic problems exist. Yet, their survival alone in spite of remarkable adversity and the aforementioned indicators suggest a steady upward trajectory in their condition and circumstance.

1  Anonymous. 2017. “Civilization.Ca – Haida – Haida Villages – Warfare”.
Accessed November 13, 2017.

2  Donald, Leland. Aboriginal Slavery on the Northwest Coast of North America. University of California Press, 1997. pp. 193, 273.

3  Anonymous. 2017. “The Smallpox Epidemic Of 1862 (Victoria BC)–Overview And Timeline”. Accessed November 13, 2017. web.Uvic.Ca.

4  Fedje, Daryl W., and Rolf Mathewes. Haida Gwaii: Human History and Environment from the Time of Loon to the Time of the Iron People. UBC Press, 2011. Chapter 1.

5  Civilization.Ca, 2017.

6  Pett, Shaun. 2017. “Canada’s Haida Gwaii Archipelago: Kayaking To The Edge Of The World”. The Guardian. Accessed November 13, 2017.


7  Kowinski, William. “Giving New Life To Haida Art And The Culture It Expresses”. January 1995. Smithsonian. Accessed November 13, 2017.

8  Inniss, Lolita Buckner. “Cherokee Freedmen and the Color of Belonging.” Columbia Journal of Race and Law 5, no. (2015) (October 1, 2017).

9  Civilization.CA, 2017.

10  Snyder, Christina. “Indian Slavery,” December 2, 2014. Accessed November 11, 2017.

11  “Indian Slavery in the Americas | The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History,” March 22, 2012. Accessed November 11, 2017.

12  Green, Michael. “Removal of the Chickasaws.” Edited by John Wesley Morris, Charles Robert Goins, and Edwin C MacReynolds. 1986. Historical Atlas Of Oklahoma. Norman, Okla. u.a: Univ. of Oklahoma Pr. pp. 68-71.

13  Lofaro, Michael A. The Life and Adventures of Daniel Boone. University Press of Kentucky, 1986. p. 63

14  Perdue, Theda. Slavery and the Evolution of Cherokee Society, 1540-1866. Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1987. pp. 1-10

15  Ibid. p. 12.

16  Ibid. p. 44.

17  Ibid. p. 26.

18  Ibid. p. 70

19  Ibid. p. 47

20  Ibid. pp. 53-54.

21  Ibid. p. 60

22  Green, 71.

23  Deloria, Vine, and Raymond J. DeMallie. Documents of American Indian Diplomacy: Treaties, Agreements, and Conventions, 1775-1979. University of Oklahoma Press, 1999. pp. 603-604

24  Johansen, Bruce E., and Barry M. Pritzker. Encyclopedia of American Indian History [4 Volumes]. ABC-CLIO, 2007. pp. 835-836.

25  Ibid.

26  Boelscher, Marianne. The Curtain Within: Haida Social and Mythical Discourse. UBC Press, 2011. Passim.

27  Gulick, Charles Burton. The Life of the Ancient Greeks: With Special Reference to Athens. D. Appleton, 1903. p. 69

28  Wright, Elizur. The Abolitionist. Garrison and Knapp, 1833. “Wright’s Sins of Slavery” section.

29  MacLeod, William Christie. 1925. “Debtor and Chattel Slavery in Aboriginal North America.” American Anthropologist 27 (3): 370–80. 

30  Ibid.

31  Sylvester, H. M. Indian Wars of New England. Рипол Классик, 1910. p. 296.

32  Knowles, Nathaniel. “The Torture of Captives by the Indians of Eastern North America.” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 82, no. 2 (1940): 151-225.

33  Hodge, Frederick Webb. Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico: N-Z. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1912. p. 599.

34  Sylvester, p. 34.

35  Emmons, George Thornton, and Frederica De Laguna. The Tlingit Indians. University of Washington Press, 1991. p. 42

36  Ibid. p. 43

37  Ibid. p. 45

38  Donald, Leland. “Paths out of Slavery on the Aboriginal North Pacific Coast of North America.” Slavery & Abolition 10, no. 3 (December 1989): 1–22. doi:10.1080/01440398908574989.

39  Ibid.

40  Jeltz, Wyatt F. “The Relations of Negroes and Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians.” The Journal of Negro History 33, no. 1 (1948): 24-37. doi:10.2307/2714985.

41  Ibid.

42  Sturm, Circe. “Blood Politics, Racial Classification, and Cherokee National Identity: The Trials and Tribulations of the Cherokee Freedmen.” American Indian Quarterly 22, no. 1/2 (1998): 230-58.

43  Lewan, Todd, And Dolores Barclay. “‘When They Steal Your Land, They Steal Your Future.’”  Los Angeles Times, December 2, 2001. Accessed November 11, 2017.

44  Mitchell, Thomas. “Destabilizing the Normalization of Rural Black Land Loss: A Critical Role for Legal Empiricism.” Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, June 1, 2006. Accessed November 11, 2017.

45  Sturm, 1998.

46  Snyder, Christina. Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America. Harvard University Press, 2010. Passim.

47  Ibid. p. 58

48  Yarbrough, Fay A. Race and the Cherokee Nation: Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. Passim.

49  Warren, Stephen. The Worlds the Shawnees Made: Migration and Violence in Early America. UNC Press Books, 2014. p. 94.

50  Davis, J.B. 1933. “Chronicles Of Oklahoma”. Digital.Library.Okstate.Edu. Accessed November 13, 2017.

51  Linda Reese. 2017. “Freedmen,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.

Accessed November 13, 2017.

52  Tosee, Mike and Carmaletta M. Williams. 2007. “Of Two Spirits: American Indian and African American Oral Histories.” Accessed November 13, 2017. p. 250.

53  Edwards, Lydia. “Protecting Black Tribal Members: Is the Thirteenth Amendment the Linchpin to Securing Equal Rights within Indian Country?” Bepress Legal Series, May 20, 2005. Accessed November 13, 2017.

54  Greene, Evarts Boutell, Virginia Draper Harrington, and Columbia University Council for Research in the Social Sciences. American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790. Genealogical Publishing Com, 1993. pp. 202-204.

55  White, Phillip M. American Indian Chronology: Chronologies of the American Mosaic. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. pp. 39-41.

56   Ibid. pp. 39-41.

57  Iberville, Pierre. Iberville’s Gulf Journals. University of Alabama Press, 1981. p. 12

58  Chin, Jeremiah. “Red Law, White Supremacy: Cherokee Freedmen, Tribal Sovereignty, and the Colonial Feedback Loop” John Marshall Law Review 47, no. 1227 (2014): 1227-1268.

59  Coleman, Arica. 2017. “Slavery In America: The Cherokee Freedmen’s Forgotten Fight”. Time.

60  Ibid.

61  Brink, J. H. Van Den. The Haida Indians: Cultural Change Mainly Between 1876-1970. With 5 Maps. Brill Archive, 1974. p. 265

62  “Interactive Time-Lapse Map Shows How the U.S. Took More Than 1.5 Billion Acres From Native Americans.” Slate, June 17, 2014. Accessed November 14, 2017.

63  U. S. Census Bureau. “American FactFinder – Community Facts.” Accessed November 14, 2017.

64  Chickasaw Development Foundation. “History of Chickasaw County | Chickasaw Development Foundation.” Accessed November 14, 2017.

65  US Census Bureau. “Poverty Rates of Selected Detailed Race and Hispanic Groups:2007-2011.” Accessed November 14, 2017.

66  Hamilton, Darrick, and William Darity. “The Political Economy of Education, Financial Literacy, and the Racial Wealth Gap.” Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, 2017.

67  Bowles, Samuel, and Herbert Gintis. “The Inheritance of Inequality.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 16, no. 3 (September 2002): 3–30.

68  CDC. “Native Americans with Diabetes,” January 10, 2017. Accessed November 14, 2017.

69  French, Laurence A., and Jim Hornbuckle. “Alcoholism among Native Americans: An Analysis.” Social Work 25, no. 4 (1980): 275-80.

70  Bureau, US Census. “American Indian and Alaska Native Poverty Rate for Select Cities.” Accessed November 14, 2017.

71  U.S. Census Bureau“Census 2000 Data for 539 Tribes – U.S. Census Bureau.” Accessed November 14, 2017.

72  National Public Radio. “A Sovereign (And Successful) Chickasaw Nation.” Accessed November 14, 2017.

73  Lapowsky, Issie. 2017. “Free Money: The Surprising Effects Of A Basic Income Supplied By Government”. WIRED. Accessed November 14, 2017.

Costa Rica Tourism White Paper

              Costa Rica is the most popular tourism destination in Central America for US visitors. According to Costa Rica’s International Institute of Tourism, the country is a republic with 4.8 million inhabitants as of 2017, with a projected 3 million visitors same-year. The country boasts a large period of its history in peace, and has the highest financial and white-collar sectors in the Central America. Its people are predominantly of European Spanish descent. Costa Rica has made significant investment in tourism marketing to supplement its plurality agricultural sector.1 This paper discusses strategies to attract United States consumers while striking the delicate balance of economic growth and sustainability.

              Costa Rica has had limited turmoil throughout its 500-odd year history after first European contact, with the final revolution and disarmament occurring in 1949.2 Like the rest of the

Central America declared themselves independent in 1821.3 This provenance has allowed an early flourishing of a tourism sector, giving Costa Rica a head-start. The climate is like most of its counterparts in Central America, with temperate rainforests and volcanic activity.


              In 1992, Law 7293 was passed by the legislature4 (and two subsequent follow-up laws with the next 15 years) to firmly implant Costa Rica as a nation seeking to develop its tourism sector. In the past ten years the incentive push has been less than vigorous as the country still
dominates the tourism landscape in the Western Hemisphere.

As a comparator, Guatemala and Belize possess similar modern stability in urban centers and are now natural competitors to Costa Rica in the region. Since Guatemala frequently an has aberrant situation in terms of head-of-state turnover despite massive improvement in growth5, Belize is the recommended alternative for development or deployment of tourism capital in the region, has a stable government (less susceptible to spontaneous coups, given its history) and was more likely in the past to resolve even entrenched conflicts with diplomacy.6 Most importantly, it has a “close and cordial” relationship with the United States.7

Costa Rica, with such a vigorous tourism industry, begets vigorous local competition and seemingly bottomless foreign investment, and thus these alternatives are presented here for further investigation.

              The primary area of tourism for Costa Rica is ecotourism, with a small but burgeoning medical tourism milieu. As a stimulus for these processes, the Costa Rica is active in attracting tourism press and cultivates a relationship with major broadcast outlets with junkets.8 It has paid dividends, with arrivals expected to match half the current population if growth rates continue.

In 2001, 90% of native Costa Ricans had a positive view9 of the tourism industry and its contributions to the health of the economy and stability of the state. From 1996 onwards, Costa Rica has had a throughline motto of “No Artificial Ingredients”.10

              Costa Rica also benefits slightly from a bystander effect. Since the United States benefits the most financially from tourism in a raw monetary basis11 (with France topping the list for total arrivals, and the Chinese spending the most), Costa Rica’s proximity to the powerhouse allows an inevitable increases in tourism. Despite Costa Rica being the dead center of an orthographic projection of the world, most of the visitors are from the United States, with other Central American countries being a far second. Tourism represents about 5% of the GDP of Costa Rica, while the comparative number to the United States this number is 2.7%.12
Costa Rica also has nominal tourism from within its own borders and relies on these numbers for the bottom line. That being said, the per capita GDP of Ticos is about $12,000 USD13, so extravagance with internal tourism is uncommon. Contrast this to the United States, which facilitated about 600 billion dollars in domestic tourism14 (some of this obviously would be attributed to the sheer land mass).            

              The niches for ecotourism are largely preserved via state parks and other initiatives developed in the 1970s to combat the rapid deforestation. Costa Rica was estimated to be 99.8% forest pre-colonization, and in 1981 the coverage had been whittled down to 31%15. The majority of this reduction occurred post-1950. Up until this time the slash and burn agricultural system of Costa Rica was predicated on the Western Hemisphere’s general appetite for beef. Prior to colonial intercession into the rainforest, up to 99.98% of the landscape16 was classified as either rainforest or arable land.

              The development of ecotourism per se was serendipitous; Costa Rica had developed its National Park system partially due to the pressures of the academic elite or popular opinion. Costa Rica had its eye on tourism somewhat early for its development (1931) but the development of ecotourism was more organic. Incrementally, during the 1960s and 1970s, Costa Rica was the worldwide favorite for researchers to investigate biodiversity17. So while the treasures of the country were an open secret to enthusiast’s of nature’s beauty, the appeal had yet to reach the mainstream. In turn, these researchers brought institutes and funding before the 1980s, when the table was set for foreign investment.
Simply put, there was low supply and demand in terms of international tourists, especially from the United States. By 1990, only 4.5% of US citizens owned a passport.18 While US international tourism did not take off until the 1980s, Costa Rica had prepared for accommodations with tax-related legislation, called the Tourism Incentive Law.19 Costa Rica was one of the first countries in Latin America to do so, and the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua soon followed suit.

              In order to contextualize the current state of tourism in Costa Rica, the author of this paper decided to put his Qualtrics access to ample use. The author has no conflicting interests.

Respondents were recruited from a crowdsourcing site and were paid the recommended minimum wage for the United States. As the task was estimated to last 10 minutes, the prevailing price was 75 cents. Surveys were conducted via Qualtrics and passed through Copyscape. In order to substantiate the claims provided by research subjects, the workflow required an upload of a de-identified US Passport. The image of the passport was held server-side, so any breach directly involve a third-party (this service is used by many research institutions for Institutionally
Reviewed programs). Only 200 inputs are available of the data set and reflect common wisdom in the matter – people that visit Costa Rica like their experiences so much they tell other people.

Here is an example:

                        Why did you choose Costa Rica? “I visitted [sic] costa rica because a fishing buddy of mine told me it was cheap and the beaches were nice. You can see a doctor for $15 and the weather is beautiful”

                        Do you plan on going back? “Yes.”

                        Would you recommend to a friend? “Yes.”

              90 articles and connecting words were excluded from the data set (and the word “vacat ion”), with the highest frequency being “beach” (8), and 33 respondents completed the survey.
Five were excluded (1 IP discrepancy, 4 incorrect documents). These stop words were removed in Python from a heuristic developed by Turkel and Crymble.20 So overall, the sentiment expressed in longer-form surveys is expressed in a brief targeted sample (mainly older adults in the United States (forced geo-targeting), demographic information was not included to in the interest of time/pay rates for respondents.

              According to more robust qualitative analyses, tourists desire low prices, better in-country transportation and low-entrance fees for the main attractions. The pattern emerges of low-cost travel. Paradoxically, many of those reporting these desires have higher median incomes than their North American counterparts. These tourism requests are similar to native Costa Ricans, as they were surveyed in concert.21

              Both an increase of tourism and agriculture decrease indigence to a similar weight; the problem is magnified during the time periods in which Costa Rica lacks either of the two simultaneously. Now, the economy mostly focused on tourism has supplanted the jobs provided by subsistence agricultural economy. However, the flow of capital is not necessarily reversible if the tourism boon wanes.22 Costa Rican men are okay with tourism profits going towards foreign entities because it is an easier job than agricultural work23. Echoing the sentiment the present paper synthesized – ecotourism workers believe it is word of mouth having the most impact.
While the statistics bear out parity, the perception on the ground from employees in the working class exhibit a different picture. Ecotourism is widely perceived as the best available employment opportunity for the majority of respondents in a structured interview. In addition to entry-level opportunities, Costa Ricans strenuously believe they are empowered to start their own business within the service industry.24 Given the growth rate of 10% in 2016 (surpassing 3 million visitors per annum), this would take a worldwide catastrophic event like a global recession or 9/11 to reoccur. In fact, this is exactly what happened, travel went down that winter quarter 200125, but has risen every quarter measured since then.

              The source of funds for promoting tourism are derived from airport fees. Although this practice is not uncommon, the Costa Rican Ministry of Tourism has to balance this influx of cash with attracting new carriers that balk at the rate, a delicate proposition. This government entity collects $29 per person in exit fees alone (assuming 2/3rds leave yearly by air, at least $60 million USD yearly26) from its main airport in San Jose, not inclusive of the international airports now located in Liberia. The budget for tourism advertising per se is distributed in a competitive bidding process annually (or more frequently as requested by the board). While tourism is quite robust by air, those wishing to travel via the Pan American highway are presented with significant challenges, especially since Costa Rica is the penultimate destination on this thoroughfare, with several lengthy border checkpoints and restrictions on importation of cars and the requisite insurance.27
If one were to choose a singular factor in the development of tourism of Costa Rica, the answer would surprise many: higher education. The state-run public educational institutions aggressively recruited college exchange programs as early as the 1950s28, a rare phenomena for Latin America at the time. The sources for this reference are not diverse but the insight follows given that higher education would be reflective of global country improvement.

              Some critics pointedly suggest that ecotourism is simply a moniker for regular tourism,
and does not have much empirical basis.29 The most generous analyses do indicate qualitative tradeoffs, and suggest investment capital generated in other areas.30 A hypothetical scenario suggests an environmental equilibrium in select situations. For instance, a visitor’s trip to Costa Rica out of Miami for three weeks has a minimum impact on the environment, if they begin to live as the locals.31 This calculation is flawed for a myriad of reasons established throughout this paper and listed off the cuff: 1) they do not live as locals 2) locals do not travel as much to protected areas 3) only 1/5th of these visitors are from Florida, let alone Miami and 4) generally speaking, Americans spend 11 days not 3 weeks.

              “Costa Rica Ecotourism” is the dominant search term for Costa Rica-associated searches both worldwide and in the United States32. Low competition in the arena of Costa Rica tourism include “things to do in Costa Rica” as well as “places to visit in costa rica”, the cost being three times less than the keyword “costa rica adventure tours”. While the keyword “Costa Rica” and “Guatemala” demand similar advertising costs as of 2017, the difference comes to the fore when the keyword “tours” is added, making the cost difference about $4 per click. This means for every click of “Costa Rica Tour” costs the advertiser almost $6. The conversion rate for the travel industry is a bare minimum of 0.5%, with an upper threshold of 3%. “Costa Rica Holiday” is a low-cost target, because Americans tend to use the term “vacation” instead.

              One strategy is to attract big spenders and not the traditional college students looking for a budget on holiday. Common wisdom suggest these travelers are one-off and will travel on a budget, while adults in an older demographic will return multiple times. The average American tourist spends about $1000 per person, while each Chinese customer spends about $7,000 USD.33 Another potential tourist target with the term “holiday” is Europeans, as they spend on average 17 days in Costa Rica.34 China is on top of spending in other countries (particularly) the United States, even when ranking only fifth in arrivals.35

              While ecotourism literature dominates this paper, in reality it is a small portion of Costa Rica’s economy as a whole. In fact, both coffee and banana export alone are more important than the tourism sector.36 Because of the intrinsic stability of Costa Rica, it is the de facto intellectual paragon of Central America and as a result attracts human capital in the financial services and education sectors. 37

              Some of this may explain the rising costs of Costa Rica as a function of simple supply and demand, but the Costa Rican government attributes it to inflation and a high cost of petroleum. It is not unreasonable to suggest the premium traveling audience of Costa Rica requires premium goods and services. The inherent problem with the current model is that Costa Rica no longer has the monopoly on stability. While it is still widely regarded as the safest country to visit, the rising tide of every country offers a similar experience at a lower cost. In addition to supply and demand, Costa Rica has a more robust union system than other Central American nations38, and at least some of these costs are deferred to visitors.

              The best audience for targeting Costa Rica travel is elderly, educated Americans living in Florida. Floridians represent 16% of the United States population yet are 21% of the arrivals.39 82% of appropriate age visitors have college degrees or higher, with second-time visitors returning an average of eight times. As of 2017, the ideal advertising venue in the United States would have to be Facebook ads because of the demographic shift40 towards a higher-age demographic in the United States.

              Note a spike in Google Trends during the time period of university spring breaks or Easter.

It is imperative to note that it is difficult to keep a static line of people’s desires when they visit Costa Rica, some want to have a honeymoon or other less known sectors (sex tourism, medical tourism and technically illegal but perspicuous drug or party tourism). Like the talk about indigenous West African people’s from a male colonial perspective (for example, the allure of a bare-breasted woman in public41), the Costa Rican as observed to be more exotic and sexual than a European Caucasian.

                            Solidifying these perceptions are reports from Costa Rican tour guides as well as interviews of Costa Rican travelers.42 The original intent of the thesis was to ascertain if women visit Costa Rica for sex tourism or a slightly less racy analogy, pseudo-prostitution. The majority of the paper is a little informal – “He and Karla stayed out together and kissed for the first time that night. A couple of the women jokingly asked Francisco to take us to a motel and ‘give each of us a turn with him.”

                            While prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, and people do travel there for this purpose, it is not highly visible. In 2012, Costa Rica law made marketing and promoting this fact a law. An American ex-patriate was convicted (and had his later has his judgement vacated)43 of promoting sex tourism via his website.

                            The message was clear: the Costa Rican government wants to be perceived solely eco-tourism destination. The rationale could also be two-pronged – Costa Rica wants to attract big brands for factories and the white-collar employment they procure, and not just nameless investment groups for hotel development. The Institute of Tourism prefers a balance of tourists families and young single women, groups that would spend more and return, as described earlier. The other is to discourage the niche of child prostitution, as international reports have surfaced.44

                            In order to improve the agility of eco-tourism from cruise ships, the tourism bureau will need to find ways to get disembarked passengers to the profitable eco-tourist hotspots quickly. Costa Rica’s inability to keep up with modern highway systems in even the most traveled locales makes trips during disembarkation difficult. The ports available are not conducive to deep ecotourism, but passengers frequently do organized activities like canopy tours etc. But this represents about 6% of the total passengers on the ship with the remainder averaging about $30 on-shore expenditures.45 The port is in Puntarenas disembarks in an area akin to an airport, with souvenirs and restrooms. In a cost-benefit analysis, not much value exists spending money to attract cruise ship passengers – 33% of people do not leave the boat at all.46

                            The most reliable economic overview indicates protected forest in Costa Rica does have a net negative effect (lowering) on poverty levels around these zones.47 More specifically, the jobs provided by ecotourism in the surrounding locale would be matched by the equivalent resource extraction.48 Of course, the former is more sustainable in a vacuum, but ecotourism has some detrimental impact on the environment, and further more detailed reading is available been written attempting to reconcile these opposed interests.49 As a simple intuitive example, the widening of a highway to accommodate said tourist.
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Tourism can be a little on the disingenuous side when discussing its arrivals, given that any international arrival is as tourism, making data extraction tenuous (bulletins are also released in Spanish, not English). The International Medical Tourism Journal (IMTJ) has countered these numbers, saying they are logistically and arithmetically impossible given the amount of healthcare facilities in Costa Rica.50 Instead, it takes interview data from the clinics themselves. At first glance, one might wonder the motives behind IMTJ’s repudiation of these statistics. Are they a competing medical tourism organization? As far as research about the company is concerned, it appears they are interested in having accurate information to sell to other industries. Data here are vulnerable to a limitation of sources, which essentially amount to what Costa Rica’s Tourism Bureau says and almost nothing else, filtered through many variants of what amounts to a public relations release web sites.

                            One neglected niche in this paper is business tourism, as it does not represent a large portion of arrivals. Due to its tropical locale and accessibility, coupled with its modern amenities and safety, Costa Rica does present a unique opportunity for conferences and business travel. This niche has significant competition by Caribbean nations, located even more proximal to the United States; these nations rely almost entirely on tourism for their revenue. This travel represents about 1.2% of the Costa Rican GDP51. According to Knoema, Costa Rica is ranked 61st in business travel52, which is very close to its overall tourism and regulation friendly score. The data from this may not be subject to extrapolation, as the number one rank is a surprising Botswana.

                            Costa Rica clearly recognizes the massive benefits of tourism to its shores. The main thrust of their economic development includes keeping the tourism numbers at a stable growth rate and using that investment to attract other businesses as a safety net, and this hinges on foreign investment in other sectors, which is developing steadily but slowly. Costa Rica can afford to be a cradle of growth, and the eco-tourism sector allows it to be the most business friendly country in Costa Rica in terms of regulatory expedition.53


1  “The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency”. Accessed October 26, 2017.Cia.Gov.

2  Ibid.

3  Ibid.

4  USA, International Business Publications. Costa Rica Company Laws and Regulations Handbook. Int’l Business Publications, 2008. p. 155

5  Heritage Foundation. Guatemala Economy: Population, GDP, Inflation, Business, Trade, FDI, Corruption”. 2017. Heritage.Org. Accessed November 12, 2017.

6  U.S. Department of State.“Belize – Political Violence |” Accessed November 11, 2017.

7  U.S. Department of State. “Belize.” Accessed November 11, 2017.

8  Press Trips – Instituto Costarricense De Turismo | ICT”. Accessed October 26, 2017. Ict.Go.Cr.

9  Staley, Todd, and Katherine Stanley. 2017. “Costa Rica’s New Tourism Minister Talks About Marketing The Future”. Ticotimes.Net. Accessed October 26, 2017.

10  “New Costa Rica Tourism Campaign Promotes ‘pura Vida’ in U.S.” Ticotimes.Net Accessed October 26, 2017.

11  “International Tourism, Expenditures (Current US$) | Data”. Accessed October 26, 2017. Data.Worldbank.Org.

12  “Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry Spotlight |” Accessed October 26, 2017.

13  “Costa Rica | Data”. 2017. Data.Worldbank.Org. Accessed October 26, 2017.

14  “News Release: U.S. Travel And Tourism Satellite Accounts”. Accessed October 26, 2017. Bea.Gov.

15  “The Paradox Of Tourism In Costa Rica | Cultural Survival”. Accessed October 26, 2017. Culturalsurvival.Org.

16  Ibid.

17  Matarrita-Cascante, David. (2010). Tourism Development in Costa Rica: History and Trends. e-Review of Tourism Research. 8. 136-156.

18  Ibid.

19  Miller, Andrew P. Ecotourism Development in Costa Rica: The Search for Oro Verde. Lexington Books, 2012. p. 85.

20  Turkel, William J., and Adam Crymble. “From HTML to List of Words (part 2).” Programming Historian, July 17, 2012. Accessed November 12, 2017.

21  Hearne, Robert R, and Zenia M Salinas. “The Use of Choice Experiments in the Analysis of Tourist Preferences for Ecotourism Development in Costa Rica.” Journal of Environmental Management 65, no. 2 (June 1, 2002): 153–63. doi:10.1006/jema.2001.0541.

22  Vanegas, Manuel, William Gartner, and Benjamin Senauer. “Tourism and Poverty Reduction: An Economic Sector Analysis for Costa Rica and Nicaragua.” Tourism Economics 21, no. 1 (February 1, 2015): 159–82. doi:10.5367/te.2014.0442.

23  Ibid.

24  Hunt, Carter A., William H. Durham, Laura Driscoll, and Martha Honey. “Can Ecotourism Deliver Real Economic, Social, and Environmental Benefits? A Study of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism 23, no. 3 (March 16, 2015): 339–57. doi:10.1080/09669582.2014.965176.

25  Ibid.

26  Fodor’s Travel Guide. Fodor’s Costa Rica. Fodor’s Travel, 2016. n.p.

27  Lopez, Jaime. “The Pros And Cons Of Importing A Car Into Costa Rica – Costa Rica Star News”. 2017. Costa Rica Star News. Accessed November 12, 2017.

28  Hill, Carol. “The Paradox of Tourism in Costa Rica.” Cultural Survival Quarterly. March 1990. Accessed November 13, 2017.

29  Hunt, Carter A., William H. Durham, Laura Driscoll, and Martha Honey. “Can Ecotourism Deliver Real Economic, Social, and Environmental Benefits? A Study of the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism 23, no. 3 (March 16, 2015): 339–57.

30  Koens, Jacobus Franciscus, Carel Dieperink, and Miriam Miranda. “Ecotourism as a Development Strategy: Experiences from Costa Rica.” Environment, Development and Sustainability 11, no. 6 (December 2009): 1225–37.

31  LePree, Joshua. “Certifying sustainability: The efficacy of Costa Rica’s certification for sustainable tourism.” Florida Atlantic Comparative Studies Journal 11 (2008-2009), 57-78.

32  Google Trends.

33  Lopez, Jaime. “Chinese Tourists Spend More Than North Americans in Costa Rica.” The Costa Rica Star. 2017. Accessed November 12, 2017.

34  “Statistics On European Tourism In Costa Rica – Centralamericadata :: The Regional Business Portal”. 2017. Centralamericadata.Com. Accessed November 12, 2017.

35  Weihua, Chen. “Chinese Tourists Spend Most In US”. 2017. Usa.Chinadaily.Com.Cn. Accessed November 12, 2017.

36  “Costa Rica | Location, Geography, People, Culture, Economy, & History”. 2017. Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed November 12, 2017.

37  Ibid.

38  US Department of State. “Costa Rica – 9.2-Labor Policies And Practices | Export.Gov”. 2017. Export.Gov. Accessed November 12, 2017.

39  “Tourism Statistics — Costarica-Information.Com”. 2017. Costarica-Information.Com. Accessed November 12, 2017.

40  York, Alex. “Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy,” March 6, 2017. Accessed November 12, 2017.

41  Wallace-Sanders, Kimberly. Skin Deep, Spirit Strong: The Black Female Body in American Culture. University of Michigan Press, 2002.

42  Puccia, Ellen, “For neither love nor money: Gender, sexuality, and tourism in Costa Rica” (2009).Graduate Theses and Dissertations.  Accessed November 12, 2017.

43  Anonymous. “David Strecker Aka “Cuba Dave” Wins Appeal, Says Website Bearing His Name”. 2017. Q Costa Rica. Access November 11, 2017.

44  Beyer, Nancy. The Sex Tourism Industry Spreads to Costa Rica and Honduras: Are These Countries Doing Enough to Protect Their Children From Sexual Exploitation? (2001). Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law. 29 no. 2, 301-333.

45  Brida, Juan, and Sandra Zapata-Aguirre. “Economic Impacts of Cruise Tourism: The Case of Costa Rica.” Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, July 22, 2009. Accessed November 11, 2017.

46  Seidl, Andrew, Fiorella Giuliano, Lawrence Pratt, Rene Castro and Ana Maria Majano. “Cruise tourism and community economic development in Central. America and the Caribbean: The Case of Costa Rica.” (September 2005). The Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (INCAE). Accessed November 13, 2017.

47   Ferraro, Paul J., Merlin M. Hanauer, and Katharine R. E. Sims. “Conditions Associated with Protected Area Success in Conservation and Poverty Reduction.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, no. 34 (August 23, 2011): 13913–18.

48  Hanauer, Merlin M., and Gustavo Canavire-Bacarreza. “Implications of Heterogeneous Impacts of Protected Areas on Deforestation and Poverty.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 370, no. 1681 (November 5, 2015).

49  Büscher, Bram, and Veronica Davidov. The Ecotourism-Extraction Nexus: Political Economies and Rural Realities of (un)Comfortable Bedfellows. Routledge, 2013.

50  “Costa Rica Medical Tourism Numbers under Question | IMTJ.” Accessed November 13, 2017.

51  “Business Travel and Tourism Spending (%) by Countries, 2016 –” Accessed November 13, 2017.

52  Ibid.

53  World Bank. “Ease Of Doing Business Index (1=Most Business-Friendly Regulations) | Data”. 2017. Data.Worldbank.Org.

Rule By Terror

“The shoes, the belts, were piled two meters high and wide, you could see the traces of people that were killed there. They tied me up and left me sitting in their blood.”


– Tiburcio Utuy, Ixil victim at Rios Montt’s trial.1


              Rios Montt was the reigning dictator of Guatemala during the one of the bloodiest junctures of a decades long civil War. From 1981-1983, approximately 200,000 indigenous peoples were killed2. Montt was the last living leader from the Guatemalan Civil War’s heyday, and his subordinate general was found innocent of all the similar charges presented.3 According to an analysis of the Guatemalan tribunal, his killings of helpless villagers were more intense due to a perceived sense of superiority by the State4, possibly in terms of race.

              The impetus for this investigation was manifold, but centers around the execution of a request made to the United Nations, and a three-person panel assigned to summarize their findings for prosecution. Note that the entirety of the document created by the The Commission for Historical Clarification does not mention Montt, except during the timeline of the appendix. It states the heads of state, although technically separate from the military, were aware of the atrocities being committed.

              While Lucas Garcia, Montt’s predecessor, had focused on targeted assassination within cities (and was successful), the new president was focused on stamping out resistance outside of the walls — and much more effectively. 43% of all mortality occurred within the first nine               In addition to procedural gymnastics, Montt’s defense was that of “Show me the money.” Victory 82 and Firmness 83 (released just in the mid-2000s) were genocidal in practice but were much more vague, mostly focusing on verbiage regarding quelling the rebel threat and not overtly racist in the slightest. In summary, Montt was indicted mostly on eyewitness testimony and acquitted due to a procedural error regarding inadequate representation. In 2006, procedures by the Montt defense were successful at disallowing a Spanish judge from in person testimony. This was overturned and allowed, the primary factor in his conviction.5

              Despite frequent usage, detailed accounts do not suggest scorched earth per se. Rather, they exemplify internal terrorism, with the operating definition being “the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” The killings were simultaneously wanton and calculated, with what amounted to basically triaged torture, interrogation and public killing with designated bases or posts for the aforementioned.6

              The Rand Corporation offers a short apologetic on Guatemala’s oppressive tactics. Tidbits included the Guatemalan Army’s training from US Green Berets and the role the 1976 earthquake took on distracting said army from combat operations against guerillas.7 A newly-minted Jimmy Carter in Washington exponentially weakened that frailty, as he did not favor the authoritarian rule of Guatemala.8
The government’s objectives were essentially achieved by Montt’s terror spree. By the 1980s, rebels controlled almost half of Guatemala with only a maximum of 6,000 regulars, yet had the support of up to 500,000 citizens.9 After Victory 82? Effectively zero regulars. And the citizenry? They were desperate for peace and accepted the winners, despite their distaste for the state’s constant assassinations and lack of transparency. Without citation, the third act of the case study mentions the following: “COIN force [the Guatemalan state] collateral damage not perceived by population in area of conflict as worse than insurgents’”.10

              Naturally, criminal proceedings with regards to human rights violations are substantive. Despite the sturm and drang, Montt is a free man and will remain that way, and such an eventuality of justice is symoblic gesture. While powerful nations may view it as internal matter, it still very much raw for the Guatemalan populace. As an external observer it is easy to see how international financial support could offer a better chance of re-conviction. What is unclear is the benefit that would provide said powerful nation.



1  Brett, Roddy. The Origins and Dynamics of Genocide:: Political Violence in Guatemala. Springer, 2016. p. 6

2  Higonnet, Etelle. Quiet Genocide: Guatemala 1981-1983. Routledge, 2017. passim.

3  Sanford, Victoria. “Violence And Genocide In Guatemala | Genocide Studies Program”. 2017. Gsp.Yale.Edu.

4  Schmidt (ProPublica), Krista Kjellman. “Guatemala: Memory of Silence, The Commission for Historical…” Accessed November 8, 2017.

5  “Efrain Rios Montt & Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez.” Accessed November 8, 2017.

6  Brett, p. 136.

7  Paul, Christopher, Colin P. Clarke, Beth Grill, and Molly Dunigan. “Guatemala, 1960–1996: Case Outcome: COIN Win.” In Paths to Victory: Detailed Insurgency Case Studies, 134-46. RAND Corporation, 2013.

8  Ibid.

9  Ibid.

10  Ibid.

El Salvador Saliendo

              Much like the Central American nations discussed to this point, the 1980s was an eventful decade for El Salvador. The first source for this turbulence is “Aqui Estoy”, an ethnobiographical account about the civil wars in El Salvador from the perspective of a woman recruited to be a guerrilla. She was not able to fight on the front lines due to her eyesight, but was friends with well-trained women fighters. The end of the video is a recollection of being shot during Oscar Romero’s funeral.1 Romero was a priest who advocated for the poor and was assassinated in 1980. Nominally, he was not a liberation theologist like his future Jesuit counterparts, and the assassination was likely state-sanctioned or protected2.

              Roberto D’Aubuisson was blamed for and likely was one of the many middle-man involved in the death squad organization and requisite assassination. The 1989 El Salvador murder of four Jesuit priests and two others in the building was a leading news story in the United States. Jim McGovern talked about the discussions of US Congress at the time, and the brutality of the murders. This incident was one of the catalysts for international peace talks.5 Much like Panama’s invasion (and despite 75,000 total dead throughout the El Salvadorian civil war), US intervention efforts reached critical mass over this singular event.

The violence was tempered by the Chapultepec peace accords in 1992, which fully disarmed the rebel faction FMLN while reducing the grip of the Salvadorian government.6

              A vulnerable economy remained. Surpluses of unskilled labor caused a diaspora during the civil war, peaking between 1985 and 1990.7 If El Salvadorians were working in the fields for low pay at home, surely they could do it abroad for more money and send remittances. Thus, remittance are the savior of the economy, representing 15% of the gross domestic product in 2006.8 Indirect profits to banks are made from remittances, skimming from a patchwork of money transfer services, none of which hold more than 20% of market share.9 In addition to these electronic services, the majority state controlled airline reaps profits from viajeros, or entrepreneurs physically carrying the money into the United States.10

              Hecht and Saatchi note the visible reforestation may be correlated with the slow rebound of El Salvador’s stability. Note that Costa Rica had exceptionally pervasive deforestation finally quelled by the World Bank’s injection of capital to support other industries.11 This crisis occurred even in the absence of major conflict within its own borders, but concurrently with the El Salvadorian turmoil discussed here. Protecting the environment in has just recently been an area of focus for El Salvador. Even after conflict ended there, commercial fisherman were using explosives to easily catch their prey.12 The exceptive difference is modern El Salvador does not have much ancillary industry other than agricultural, while tourism and white collar business pick up the slack with Costa Rica.

            If the state were to develop a remittance service, they might get more profit, although the private sector may do this more efficiently. One wonders how this liberalization brings cash into the coffers of El Salvador, especially considering 60% of the workers their worked under the table in 2006.13

1  MAJOR Magazine. Aqui Estoy – Surviving The Civil War in El Salvador. Accessed October 25, 2017.

2  “The Jesuits Massacre Case.” Accessed October 25, 2017.

3 Gibb, Tom. “The Killing of Archbishop Oscar Romero Was One of the Most Notorious Crimes of the Cold War. Was the CIA to Blame?” The Guardian, March 23, 2000, sec. World news.

4  Chomsky, Noam. Turning the Tide: U.S. Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace. Haymarket Books, 2015. p. 135.

5  Ignatian Solidarity Network. Congressman Jim McGovern on the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador. Accessed October 25, 2017.

6  Gammage, Sarah. “Exporting People and Recruiting Remittances: A Development Strategy for El Salvador?” Latin American Perspectives 33, no. 6 (2006): 75-100.

7  Ibid.

8  Ibid.

9  Ibid.

10  Ibid.

11  Rosero-Bixby, Luis, and Alberto Palloni. “Population and Deforestation in Costa Rica.” Population and Environment 20, no. 2 (1998): 149–85.

12  Nahill, Brad. “Protecting El Salvador’s Largest Wetland From the Bottom Up,” October 14, 2013.

13  Gammage, 2006.

Red Central

Prior to US intervention in Guatemala, neo-liberal policies were proliferating during the 1940s, popular reforms braced by Guatemalan people. In response to this phenomena, the United Fruit Company began a successful lobby of the US government to crackdown on today’s “terrorism”, or communist sympathizers [1] . What is clear throughout the literature is that the Civil War was due to classic Banana Republic actions. What is not immediately clear is why either faction was unable to win the conflict over the period of 40 years. Part of this may be to the comparatively small scale of operations — the United States wanted first class results from a bare-bones investment, with “large-scale” operations having less than 500 people involved. [2]

The Catholic elite investigated the genocide ostensibly because it was an organized entity without fear of reprisal; that fear had diminished since the 1980s. From Peacemaking, this desire is based on “God’s will to repair the world through taking its sin upon himself”. [3] Due to the respect and dominance of the church in the region, it has a far larger impact than its dioceses in Eastern Europe with regards to genocide. Guatemala is one of the few exceptions were Catholic investigation was helpful at attracting worldwide attention.

Genocide is common enough that I rarely see it used incorrectly or in an exaggerative manner. Genocide did not occur in Guatemala semantically but words evolve over time to possibly integrate the usage here to include “collateral damage”. Clue used to mean ball of yarn, after all. One has to look at the etymology of the word “genocide” to decide. It means elimination of “gen” by “cide”, or essentially elimination of a race by killing. It does not factor in the rationale of these deaths. This was the argument of Guatemala’s far right. An international commission’s rebuttal was the race here was actually an economic class

Like homicide, the rationale can affect the punishment, but it is materially still killing, and is interesting why of diverting death of individuals into a lexical exercise.


Manuel Noriega was Panamanian dictator who was the ultimate middleman of drugs, being both a physical intermediary. He was a general during Torrijos’ reign until the latter’s death in 1981, and became leader of the Panama Defense Forces in 1983.1 Noriega was protected by both the canal’s interests and his tacit support of Contra activity in neighboring Nicaragua during the 1980s. In turn, the Central Intelligence Agency determined him an asset and looked the other way in terms of his involvement in smuggling.

While US sanctions deteriorated the economy and savaged the average Panamanian citizen, Noriega survived under a shadow economy, his pockets lined with the drug money from US insatiable appetite for cocaine.2 After the US supported repeated failed coups by to Panama Defense Force underlings, Noriega was deposed by swift military intervention called Operation Just Cause.

Rosenberg3 aggregates the three given U.S. common wisdom rationales as to why the occurred, but one notable exclusion exists. In an unheralded masterpiece, Cramer4 dissects the intervention as strictly diversionary warfare. The untrained eye is a double-edged sword, but even prior to reading this takedown, a creeping feeling of agent provocateurs existed throughout the text of the official account. The critical impetus for invasion was US officers violating a roadblock of Panamanian forces, leading to the shooting death of a Lt. Paz.5

What was not listed in the account (but by Cramer) is that during the shooting, multiple provocations were being carried out in concert. The official account is the car’s occupants were going to a meal at the Marriott in Panama City. Perhaps they were tired of being harassed by said checkpoints and decided to ignore it despite imminent threat.
However, in less than 12 hours, the President was recommended to exercise one of four plans already in the hopper, called Blue Spoon.
6 Not surprisingly, the official version of the decision-making process is riddled with the word “Cheney”at particularly critical junctures.

Panama, like Belize, does not have a rich historical vein to mine from a bilateral-US perspective until 1903, when the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty was signed. This machination yielded a small portion of the canal land to the United States, rebuffing Colombia after settling accounts with the French.7 The floodgate of bounty did not necessarily open to Panama proper, largely boxed out of such windfalls. Many of the lavish investments were on American-controlled territory after all. The United States remained in control of the canal until the Carter–Torrijos treaty, sun-downing the ownership at 1999.8
The requisite story of the Panama Canal Treaty is a winding yarn; this is partially due to the complexities within Carter’s foreign policy itself and the extant hegemony existing within the State Department’s old guard and Carter’s appointees.
9 If Operation Just Cause was a diversionary war, the secession of the Panama Canal was a diversionary treaty. Carter’s worldview was still smarting from Vietnam, and he may have felt continued presence an over-extension of the US into foreign soil— perhaps the Panama canal was a token target to temper these feelings.

The canal was a symbol of a time when the US dominated worldwide mercantile exchange. Republicans, maybe correctly, took the treaty as an opportunity to create a wedge issue against the Democrat Carter for the 1980 Presidential campaign. The modern history of the “driving a wedge” was developed less than 10 years earlier as a codified political strategy. Nixon and his braintrust developed it to attract opposition voters opposed to busing-based desegregation in schools.10

While modern wedge issues may have direct impact (especially anecdotally) on the American citizens daily life viz. abortion, immigration, stem cell research; the Panama Canal treaty opposition movement was particularly genius because affected almost no one in any aspect of American society. Further, this implementing this plan would have no remarkable downside to its initiators.

As it has been shown, the relationship between Panama and the United States coalesces around two decades, the 1900s and the 1980s. The majority of bilateral relations here appear to be otherwise uneventful, especially when taken from a holistic worldwide foreign policy perspective. Noriega was charged, deported and then repatriated to Panama to serve his prison term before dying in 2017.

1 Archibold, Randal. 2017. “Manuel Noriega, Dictator Ousted By U.S. In Panama, Dies At 83”. Nytimes.Com.

2 Gilboa, Eytan. “The Panama Invasion Revisited: Lessons for the Use of Force in the Post Cold War Era.” Political Science Quarterly 110, no. 4 (1995): 539-62. doi:10.2307/2151883.

3 “Panama and Noriega: Our SOB. Scott Rosenberg – PDF.” Accessed October 15, 2017.

4 Cramer, Jane Kellett. “‘Just Cause’ or Just Politics?: U.S. Panama Invasion and Standardizing Qualitative Tests for Diversionary War.” Armed Forces & Society 32, no. 2 (January 1, 2006): 178–201.

5 “Operation JUST CAUSE”. 2017. History.Army.Mil.

6 Operation Jus

Panamaniacst Cause.

7 “BBC News – Timeline: Panama”. 2017. News.Bbc.Co.Uk.

8 Zaretsky, Natasha. “Restraint or Retreat? The Debate over the Panama Canal Treaties and U.S. Nationalism after Vietnam*: Restraint or Retreat?” Diplomatic History 35, no. 3 (June 2011): 535–62.

9 Ibid.

10 McMahon, Kevin J. Nixon’s Court: His Challenge to Judicial Liberalism and Its Political Consequences. University of Chicago Press, 2011. np. “The President [Nixon] also made it clear to Chief Justice Burger that he preferred that the court not issue a major busing decision in the fall of 1972.”

Apache Slavery

The three causes for the proliferation of slavery by Spain against the Apaches and associated tribes includes delay, undercompensation and unenforceabilty. Delay refers to the physical delay of the Queen’s wishes to the New World, which may have taken a calendar year to receive let alone enforce or implement. Second, life on the frontier was harsh for the Spanish pioneers and the extra money from the slave trade made it slightly more worth it. Lastly, the pragmatic ideals of Queen Isabella were not practical from the perspective of leaders in the region, and were lip serviced but de facto ignored.

The slavery framework appears to be a balance of kinship and chattel. Spaniard captives were more integrated into tribes, but were generally bought and sold just like the Spaniards operated the principles of chattel on Native Americans. Hereditary slavery is not discussed, but the examination of this period was too small to draw a definitive conclusion. Slaves were not natally alienated by the Spanish until the mid-18th century which violated the old-school encomienda. This was out of rare fear instead of labor imbalance. The West Indies had extremely high slave to freemen ratios that fostered rebellion and eventually came very dangerous for the plantation management.

I wonder what the ratios were in New Mexico.

In one sense, religion acted as a carrot for the Native American to a better life. It also offered a rationalization for a servant of God to just be an indentured servant for God. The threat of enslavement was used from a position of leverage, and skirmishes were initiated by Spaniards as agent provocateurs to generate war captives for enslavement, sometimes via backroom deals to more powerful tribes. Many years after Cerrato, priests in the New Mexico region were bent on purchasing slaves despite the theoretical legal ramifications.

The presence of a foreign power on the Natives’ soil may have caused additional hardship, which caused additional and unforeseen debt, requiring otherwise solvent tribe-members to sell family members into catechism. Parallels to the drug trade exist, discussed elsewhere. Ultimately, the goal was colonization or increase of Christians for Queen Isabella (just like the reduction of communism or increase of capitalism for the Contras in Nicaragua etc.). Slavery, like cocaine, was just too profitable to not get a cut, especially considering the triumvirate of problems first mentioned in this discussion.

Cuervo and Morgollon issued writs allegedly making the practice more illegal, but a crisis was brewing. The other tribes in the west were consolidating and becoming more powerful, and a threat to land. Slavery came second to survival, until an accidental detente was reached. Please correct me if I am wrong, but essentially the Spanish and Comanches / Utes reached a power equilibrium during the mid-18th century. Slaves that were caught were sent elsewhere in the Spanish kingdom, namely Mexico.

Why do women study abroad more?

On average, because their parents are more inclined to finance this endeavour.

I sought to figure out the question why girls are more likely to study abroad than guys. I did this on my own volition, I reminded myself tacitly, after reading a doctoral thesis, and three journal articles about a topic I care so very little about, and one with no impact on my daily life and an extremely low percentage of the world’s population (and college students, too, given that ~1% follow through with it).

The obvious answers pervasive throughout literature is that it is major-specific, more women are in the languages and have classes more amenable to international transfer.

But why? Like why why.

– To increase mate availability. I do not see evidence this is the case, but how do you frame a study that says “Do you go overseas to meet hot French guys?” Self-report measures of this question would be unreliable, and actual data impossible.

This runs contrary to subjects being attracted to people that look and feel like them (narcissism dating theory). I wonder if the reported self-confidence improvement from traveling abroad would decrease that. There is also some currency being American, except in Western countries. Self-esteem among interracial daters appears to have similar to similar to other populations. The self-report of “sexy” accents is contravened by literature , maybe I will get to that later.

– As a marker or consequence of class.

– Because traveling abroad with a group is safer vs. privately. This issue was not addressed at length. Men still travel abroad at a similar rate, but outside of a college setting. It’s probably more cost-effective.

The raw data indicates that parents are more likely to support their daughter’s desires to go abroad. This can be construed as either “emotional” support, but what it probably means is “financial” support. At this point, if you are a researcher in the field, you are most likely saying money is not really a factor. Then, remember the caveat it is based on the students report of their parents income. I mean, adults do not even know their own parents income, and 45% of millionaires not viewing themselves as wealthy.

On the whole, maybe female college students traveling abroad have no idea how much money their parents make… nor do most students. The deepest stretch in a series of stretches is that male students are better able to guess their parent’s financial status.

Why do women find accents sexy?

A few easy answers spring to mind – to increase genetic drift for their offspring. This is most likely not true – people often look to in-group but not too in-group mating.

But women do find accents sexy, by self-report. But here is the gentle correction: women find native English or Romantic-language accents sexy. Save for this exception, people like an accent that sounds like them. 

I had been poring over the internet looking for the metrics of interracial dating and low-self esteem. Granted, hooking up with someone from England is not interracial, unless they’re from the West End, if you know what I mean*. I mostly encountered a ubiquitous survey on perceptions of interracial dating that asked the loaded question: do you believe interracial daters have low self-esteem? That question, if I had never pondered it before, would take me at least five minutes to answer in binary format.

They probably do have lower self-esteem. Why is that question put in a textbook then?

Heathen millennials tell Pew Research Center they do not care much about the dangers of race mixing.

This reminds me of the situation where women like “masculine” men when they are ovulating, and “baby-faced” men when they are not. Accents are dangerous like tattoos are dangerous, he spent $300 sitting in a chair while another man drew an octopus on his body. Oh yeah, baby the incredibly slight risk of increased hepatitis C, too. The tattoo guy not the British guy. The latter needs Vitamin C. 

As we go on, we remember a British accent imparts a sense of novelty to the listener that increases activation of D2 areas, and those are co-located with sexual endeavors, thus accents are sexy. But it is a sense of novelty and danger with almost no-reproductive downside – the only difference between a Brit and a guy from Long Island is a lot of differences, but you get the idea.

If you have ever seen an interview of London anarchists punks, these individuals sound like professors and look like London anarchist punks.