Before becoming an attorney in Canada at age thirty, I had obtained a Private Pilot’s License at age seventeen and an Air Traffic Controller’s License from Transport Canada at age twenty. I worked as an Air Traffic Controller in the Control Tower at Victoria International Airport for approximately eight years.

At the time, I was the youngest licensed Air Traffic Controller in Canada. The training that I received for these two related endeavours has proved be an invaluable experience in my approach to problem solving utilized throughout my life, that being proactive and not reactive problem solving.

Obviously, if that were not the case in these aviation related matters, the only task left in many instances would be to count the dead bodies on the ground. Proactive problem solving makes a lot of sense and is largely the method employed in Canadian and U.S. Societies, to prevent accidents and the serious injuries and deaths that result from problems not being solved in advance.

Proactive problem solving also leads to the avoidance of negative consequences related to the economic hardship of citizenry and the general disruption of a smoothly operating and harmonious society in general.

In Costa Rican society and Latin American societies in general, I find the reverse to be true.

It would seem the Latinos are not able to imagine a problem until it happens and the negative consequences have been felt. Some good examples would be the failure to install warning lights at level crossings where the San Jose commuter train is in use and the general lack of preventative maintenance of the family car, or any vehicle for that matter.

Since the commuter train went into service several years ago, there have been countless accidents between trains and vehicles at level crossings. Many of these accidents have resulted in serious injuries and even death in some cases. Apparently, the installation of warning lights is now being contemplated for level crossings.

Likewise, with respect to vehicle maintenance, many accidents and inconveniences occur in that regard as well. One of the more common inconveniences that frequently occurs at major holiday times, is the over-heating of vehicles on the climb back to San Jose from a beach vacation, due to lack of maintenance of the vehicle’s cooling system. Although this particular example relates to an inconvenience, as opposed to an accident circumstance, there are many instances of the latter occurring as a result of a lack of vehicle maintenance as well.

General planning with a view to proactive problem solving would be a laudable endeavour for the Costa Rican society to undertake, to minimize, or eliminate many of the negative consequences that its citizens now have to endure. Of course, the lead in this regard has to come from the Government to be effective. Let’s hope that don Guillermo has this item on his “to-do” list in his pledge to govern “in the best interests of the Country”.

About Richard Philps

Richard Philps Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking with the Law Firm of Petersen & Philps, located in Escazu, a western suburb of San Jose. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney, please use the following information: Lic. Rick Philps - Attorney at Law, Petersen & Philps, San Jose, Costa Rica Tel: 506-2288-4381, Ext. 102; Email: Website:


View all Posts Visit Website


  1. Juan Sabastian Campo  18 May 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Could not agree more!

  2. B D  19 May 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Its not just Latinos – its human nature to wait until a problem happens, then try to repair it rather than prevent it. Look at all the gringos that come down here and buy property too cheap to pay for adequate due diligence and some then have to pay through the nose when they buy a problem instead of a property. Trying to explain how bad the invisible boogeymen (property fraudsters) are to a gringo is practically impossible – ah but once he becomes visible and they are forced to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to recover a property – if they can, then those gringos only wish they had been proactive! What say you Rick Philips?

    • Richard Philps  20 May 2014 at 8:20 am

      Reactive problem solving arises from laziness in thought and a general
      lack of discipline. People do not, by reason of human nature, choose to
      suffer the consequences of a problem. The example that you provide of
      gringos being duped and defrauded on some property purchases they make
      in Costa Rica, as a result of not seeking proper legal due diligence, is
      actually an example of proactive problem solving. They actively and
      consciously choose to save the legal fees, which they perceive to be the
      problem, and run the risk of not having the proper legal due diligence
      performed on their behalf. My examples of reactive problem solving are
      of a more general nature, related to public safety as it affects the
      population as a whole and not to business decisions, which only apply on
      a case by case basis and affect only the individuals involved.

      • Scott  20 May 2014 at 9:43 am

        Actually it isn’t proactive otherwise they would have looked it up before buying it. Done it many times in Canada and Costa Rica. It’s easy just to go ahead and buy, not everyone takes the time to go to the registry and the local municipalidad and find out if you can even build there.
        Now Living in Costa Rica and being back in Canada shows me there is a lot of ignorant hillbillies up here,,

      • B D  20 May 2014 at 11:43 am

        Pretzel logic. That is like saying someone made a choice not to by car insurance, and then suffered the financial consequences of a car accident when they could have protected themselves by acting first (pro active (buying insurance). Just because there is money involved does not mean its not an applicable example.

    • Juan  20 May 2014 at 11:39 am

      I say you are right! We are not on the same legal page as the developed countries where law is clearly defined. (O.K. maybe not so clear!)

  3. B D  20 May 2014 at 11:44 am

    BTW – Sometimes people don’t understand when you are helping them out.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login