Commonly used phrase actually piece of legislature
SAN JOSE – The phrase “Gracias a Dios” is used in Costa Rica so frequently that most can’t even remember a time that it wasn’t used. Until last week, that is.
Costa Rican mother of two Maria Lopez was arrested last Thursday for not thanking God after a friend asked her how she was. While shopping at AutoMercado in Lindora, Maria ran into an old university classmate as they both reached for the last Christmas tamal. Upon exchanging pleasantries Maria’s friend, also named Maria, was taken aback when Maria simply stated that she was well.
“She just said she was fine. She didn’t thank God or anything. I was really shocked.”
Maria, who took a law class in high school, then enacted a citizen’s arrest of her friend. Though not widely known, saying “Gracias a Dios” when responding to the question “Como estas?” is actually mandated by Costa Rican law. Everyone in the store applauded the move.
“This is a great day for Costa Rica,” said a fellow shopper. “If we let things like this go by, what’s next? This is a law that needs to be enforced and I stand by Maria 100%.”
While most at the supermarket admitted to not knowing about the law specifically, they all say it represents a pillar of Costa Rican society. This notion was reiterated by San José police Chief José Rodriguez, who said he’d never thought he’d live to see the day where a “Gracias a Dios” arrest would be made.
“In all my years on the force, this has never happened before,” Rodriguez stated. “I don’t know what was going through the young lady’s mind at the time, but rest assured we are looking into it. We are in the process of reviewing her childhood history as we search for a motive.”
Post-arrest, Maria was extremely apologetic and wholeheartedly regrets the incident. She said she hopes her arrest will serve as a lesson to all other Ticos that fail to abide by Gracias a Dios response mandate.
“I’m not sure what happened to be honest, it’s all a blur right now. I’ll definitely be more careful from now on and not let it happen again. The good news is that this doesn’t result in jail-time for first time offenders, Gracias a Dios.”