Every city that I have ever visited has been decorated/defaced with lots of colorful graffiti. In some cities, the graffiti is confined to train tunnels, highway overpasses and other functional places that generally lack any kind of redeeming aesthetic qualities. In others, the graffiti can be seen everywhere, coating fire hydrants, schools and long-abandoned corner grocery stores (among other places).

The common thread in both types of city is that most graffiti, however colorful it may be, either advertises a gang's territory or functions as an artist's signature (or both); graffiti with any kind of broader social value is conspicuously absent from the majority of our cityscapes. Because of this, I was quite surprised when I arrived in San José to find that perhaps half of the graffiti that I see here is politically or socially motivated.

What follows below is a series of photos I've taken of graffiti in the city that can broadly be arranged in two categories: political/social and funny/different. For the political ones, I've made every effort to represent all of the viewpoints that I could find to avoid any kind of editorializing on my part. Also, some of the language present in the graffiti may be offensive, but I think that the merit of posting it as a window into a vibrant culture of political expression outweighs any offense that may be taken.


Anarchy symbols are omnipresent in Costa Rican graffiti
"The fight is ours"
"Another rich sonofabitch"
"Consumerism consumes you"
"Let's get more opportunities and less police"
"Secular state" (written on the side of a church)
"You rich people eat all of the money so you can shit poverty"
"Not a virgin nor a slut, only a woman"
"Every time you think, you create"
"Obama murderer"
"Stop seeing the world, observe it..."
Shades of Guy Fawkes/Anonymous/Occupy can be seen in many places
"Too much corruption...Change already!"
"Wide front...Get out Chinchilla" (Laura Chinchilla is the president of Costa Rica)


"Eat fruits and vegetables"

About the author

Richard Hansen

Though he is proud of his roots as a native Nevadan, Richard has always had an outward-looking perspective. This has led him all around the world in search of meaning in his own life through discovering and assimilating the outlooks and practices of other cultures. He received a BA in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Nevada and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. His graduate studies have fostered an interest in development that begins at the grassroots, utilizing the assets that are present in every single community, no matter how conventionally "poor" they may be. Kiva represents, to him, the very best of this kind of development thinking and he is excited to do his part to facilitate the accomplishment of Kiva's mission of connecting people to alleviate poverty in Costa Rica!