Economist Rodrigo Chaves will become Costa Rica’s 49th president today with the primary task of cleaning up the economy of one of Latin America’s most stable democracies.
The ceremony will take place in San José at 10:00 a.m. local time inside the Congress, unlike in previous years, where it took place at the National Stadium. The King of Spain, Felipe VI, has confirmed his presence, among 97 international delegations.
The right-wing Chaves, 60 and with a three-decade career at the World Bank, comes to power to try to solve the country’s economic crisis, with 23% of its population in poverty (6.30% in extreme poverty) and 13.6% unemployment, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).
With an economy driven primarily by tourism, Costa Rica has been hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic.
“It is essential for the country that Chaves improves the economy. There have been many years of hardship and unconvincing politicians. This new government has the opportunity to do something different,” said Adrian Aguiluz, 35, a communicator and resident of the capital.
Chaves recently said he hoped to “improve” the terms of a $1.7 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), vital, according to the outgoing government of Carlos Alvarado, to keep the country’s finances afloat.
“It will be, it seems, a management concentrated on the economic part, the strong point of the elected president. It is also a national concern in all sectors. It looks like we are going to have a proposal to reorganize public finances,” said political scientist Gina Sibaja.
Apologies for sexual harassment
According to experts, the population favored Chaves’ experience in economics, despite the fact that he was sanctioned for sexual harassment of two subordinates within the World Bank. After his election, the new president presented his “apologies” for these facts.
Moreover, he has already affirmed his opposition to environmental policies, in a country with recognized world leadership on the subject and which has given up exploiting gas and oil.
Chaves said he would not ratify the Escazu accord, an important regional pact to protect environmental defenders.
The new president is a surprising political figure, as his only stint in state posts was 180 days as finance minister, in the outgoing administration, between 2019 and 2020. He left the post due to disputes with Alvarado.
A few months later, he presented himself as a presidential candidate with a proposal based on the economic recovery of this country of 5.2 million inhabitants.
Currently, Costa Rica does not recognize the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, believing that his election for a fourth consecutive term lacked “democratic conditions” and withdrew its ambassador from Managua.
A few days after taking office, Chaves favored the reinstatement of his ambassador in Managua, although he later reversed his decision.
He also invited Juan Guaidó, whom half a hundred countries, including the United States, recognize as president of Venezuela in place of Nicolás Maduro, to the inauguration of Chaves. Guaidó has not confirmed his presence.
However, future Chaves foreign minister Andre Tinoco told local media that Maduro’s recognition was being assessed. Analysts believe the new government could take some surprising turns.
“We will see if there is not a change in the narrative regarding the cost of living and corruption as the main problems of the country, according to his campaign themes, because he could recrudesce his speech and minimize it to obtain new stories,” the analyst also said. Eugenie Aguirre.
The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, and his Colombian and Moroccan counterparts, respectively Ivan Duque and Aziz Akhannouch, are also confirmed for the inauguration ceremony.
The presidents of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, and of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo, are also confirmed. The two countries, together with Costa Rica, form the Alliance for Democratic Development (ADD).
by David Goldberg