Rodrigo Chaves assumes presidency of Costa Rica with a mission to clean up the economy

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San Jose (AFP) – The economist Rodrigo Chaves will become this Sunday the 49th president of Costa Rica for the period 2022-2026, with the primary task of cleaning up the economy of one of the countries with the most stable democracies in Latin America.

The ceremony will be in San José at 10:00 local time (16:00 GMT) inside the Congress, unlike previous years, when it was held at the National Stadium. The King of Spain, Felipe VI, has confirmed his presence, among 97 international delegations.

The right-wing Chaves, 60 years old and a three-decade career in the World Bank, comes to power to try to solve the country’s economic crisis, with 23% of its population living in poverty (6.30% in extreme poverty) and 13, 6% unemployment, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC).

With an economy driven mostly by tourism, Costa Rica was hit hard by the covid-19 pandemic.

“It is essential for the country that Chaves improve the economy. There have been many years of difficulties and politicians who do not finish convincing. This new government has an opportunity to do something different,” said Adrián Aguiluz, 35, a communicator and resident From the capital.

Chaves recently pointed out that he hopes to “improve” the conditions of a loan of 1,700 million dollars with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), vital, according to the outgoing government of Carlos Alvarado, to keep the country’s finances afloat.

“This, it seems, will be a management focused on the economic part, the strong point of the president-elect. It is also a concern at the national level in all sectors. It seems that we are going to see a proposal for the restructuring and reorganization of public finances,” political analyst Gina Sibaja said.

apologies for sexual harassment

According to experts, the population privileged Chaves’ experience in economics, despite the fact that he carries a sanction for sexual harassment within the World Bank against two subordinates. After his election, the new president offered his “apologies” for these events.

In addition, it has already advanced its opposition to environmental policies, in a country with a recognized global leadership on the issue and that has given up exploiting gas and oil.

Chaves has said that he will not ratify the Escazú Agreement, an important regional pact to protect environmental defenders.

The new president is a surprising figure in politics, since his only time in state positions was for 180 days as Minister of Finance, of the outgoing administration, between 2019 and 2020. He left office due to differences with Alvarado.

A few months later he appeared as a presidential candidate with a proposal based on the economic recovery of this country with 5.2 million inhabitants.

Diplomacy

Costa Rica currently ignores the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, considering that his election for a fourth consecutive term lacked “democratic conditions” and has withdrawn its ambassador from Managua.

A few days after taking office, Chaves was in favor of reinstating his ambassador in Managua, although he later retracted it.

He also invited Juan Guaidó to the investiture of Chaves, whom fifty countries, including the United States, recognize as president of Venezuela instead of Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó has not confirmed his presence.

However, the future chancellor of Chaves, André Tinoco, told local media that recognizing Maduro is under evaluation. Analysts believe that the new government may take surprising directions.

“We will see if there is not a narrative change regarding the cost of living and corruption as the country’s main problems, according to its campaign issues, because it could intensify its discourse and minimize it to seek new narratives,” said fellow analyst Eugenia Aguirre.

Also confirmed at the investiture ceremony are the president of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, and her counterparts from Colombia and Morocco, Iván Duque and Aziz Akhannouch, respectively.

Also the leaders of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, and Panama, Laurentino Cortizo. Both countries, together with Costa Rica, make up the Alliance for Development in Democracy (ADD).

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Rodrigo Chaves assumes presidency of Costa Rica with a mission to clean up the economy