Costa Rica’s new leader takes office with a blast in the past

Placeholder while article actions load

SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — Rodrigo Chaves began a four-year term as Costa Rican president on Sunday, taking office with a long list of reproaches for his predecessor and the country’s political class, while promising big changes.

Shortly after outgoing President Carlos Alvarado Quesada handed him the ceremonial presidential sash, Chaves lashed out at the state of the nation he has led, complaining about the high cost of living, crime, drug trafficking and long lines at offices. of social security. .

“We’re not just going to put the house in order, we’re going to rebuild it!” she promised. “This is the sign of our times. It is the urgency of a change that cannot be delayed, the cry of a democracy that we will not let disappear!

He warned that “if the political class fails once again, the country may fall apart.”

He dismissed the idea that he said many had that the Central American nation is “ungovernable.”

“Look at me as I am, a humble instrument to fulfill the mandate of the people, a people that together can achieve the urgent change that history imposes on us,” he said in his inaugural speech in the national legislature.

The conservative economist, who was briefly Alvarado’s finance minister, had cast himself as the outsider in the race, pointing out that his Social Democratic Progress Party had never won at any level before this year.

The World Bank veteran is no newcomer to the establishment, but in the April 3 election he defeated a man who was almost a symbol of it: José María Figueres, a former president and son of a three-time president.

However, Chaves may find it difficult to govern: his party has only 10 of 57 seats in the legislature.

During his campaign he called for lowering the cost of living and after winning he promised – without giving details – to begin with the costs of gasoline, rice and electricity.

Chaves won despite being dogged by a scandal that saw him expelled from the World Bank, where he was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, eventually demoted, and then resigned. He has denied the allegations.

Costa Rica has enjoyed relative democratic stability compared to other countries in the region, but the public has been frustrated by public corruption scandals and high unemployment.

Alvarado’s party was almost annihilated during the February elections, receiving no seats in the new congress.

Leave a Comment