On Sunday, February 7, Costa Rica elected Laura Chinchilla as the country’s first female president.
The election was held without incident and Chinchilla, a former vice-president, has committed to the free-market policies of current president, Oscar Arias. She has also pledged to combat drug-trafficking and its associated violent crime.
Despite smugglers increasingly using the country as a staging post for drugs en route from South America to the US, Costa Rica is one of Latin America’s most stable nations. The country abolished its army in 1949 and is today renowned as a tourist destination.
Costa Rican bloggers commented on the smooth election process. (Original blogs in Spanish, with translations by James Matthews.)
From Elecciones 2014-2018-Costa Rica, a blog monitoring the electoral race:
The elections took place with a festive atmosphere, as has been the tradition in this Central American nation over the last 50 years - Costa Rica is considered one of the most solid and longstanding democracies in Latin America.
There was, however, a mixed reaction to the election result and many commentators questioned Chinchilla’s strong links with the incumbent president.
From Wolverine, commentary on Costa Rica:
[Chinchilla] is now our president. Let’s give her a chance to demonstrate her independence [from outgoing President Oscar Arias] and prove that she is capable of holding the office of president of Costa Rica, and exceeding the expectations of the people.
From Conoche San José de Noche, an opinion blog:
Let’s have faith in the great support that [Chinchilla] has from a big sector of the country. Let’s hope that she will return that support with intelligent policies that will tackle the country’s biggest problems - crime, poverty and unemployment. It is no secret, however, that if the PLN’s strongman, Oscar Arias, has been unable to make inroads on these problems, it will be a difficult task for [Chinchilla].
Other bloggers expressed outright disappointment at the election of a president from the governing party.
From El Mae del Bajo:
I had hopes for a surprise. There was a festive atmosphere on the streets and it seemed that we possessed greater political maturity. I didn’t believe the polls…It was our opportunity to remove these neoliberals from power - I don’t want to live in this Costa Rica of few haves and many have-nots. Unfortunately, it was not enough to convince the indecisive and to spread the word.
Chinchilla herself is no stranger to social media and thanked her supporters on February 7 via Twitter:
Thank you Costa Rica, thank you social networks, thank you Twitterers!!!!
- James Matthews
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