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The Cutting Edge
Volume XX, Number 2, April 2013
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BIG CHANGES AT INBio. Any botanical comings and goings for this quarter are overshadowed by recent upheavals at INBio. Carlos Hernández Herrero, who took the reins as INBio's director only three years ago [see this column in The Cutting Edge 17(3), Jul. 2010], resigned in mid-March of this year for reasons of health and to take life easier in retirement. Randall García Víquez has been named as interim director. As his sort of parting gesture, Dr. Hernández left most INBio properties (including the natural-history collections) in the hands of (or in negotiations to be in the hands of) the Costa Rican government. The portion of the property known locally as "INBio viejo"— including the building where all collections are now housed, the original old warehouse (in which this enterprise all began and which now stands virtually gutted and nearly empty), and a couple of other smaller buildings—now belongs to the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería (MAG). The other (northern) portion, where the building erected ten years ago specifically for the herbarium now stands empty and where INBioParque is located, will be turned over to the Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (SINAC). All of this, one might interpret, is somewhat akin to the recent government rescue of banks in the United States, INBio's considerable debt (accrued mostly because of the construction of INBioParque) being assumed by the government in return for said properties. Otherwise (we understand), all of said properties would have gone over to the banks this year to pay off the principal of the loan and the impending or forestalled interest. Collections of the sort maintained by INBio, just as archeological artifacts, are considered property of the state (patrimonio); they can be held in private hands, but can't be inherited or sold. In effect, these collections and the properties have been expropriated by the government, and the government and INBio are negotiating just what role, if any, INBio will continue to play. INBio hopes to maintain a sort of managerial position with respect to these collections, but the Universidad de Costa Rica and (especially) the Museo Nacional are the only government entities actually empowered to manage such collections, once they are in hands of the state. Much negotiation and many questions remain.