Bienvenida a la primera presidenta!

San Jose Travel Blog

 › entry 25 of 33 › view all entries
Oscar Arías, the current president of Costa Rica of the Partido Liberación Nacional, is known for being a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for his efforts for peace in Central America, specifically to end civil wars in Guatemala and Nicaragua in the 1980s and to mediate between Honduran officials, when a military coup ousted its democratically elected president less than a year ago. Although I'm no expert on Central American politics, I have done some research on the region, and Arias has made some pretty valiant efforts if you ask me. So when I learned of the upcoming presidential elections, it seemed exciting to me that his successor was someone with similar political ideals and beliefs, and she was a woman.

Although it is a democratic republic, Costa Rica is a relatively socialist country. At least that's the side of it I've been experiencing what with the completely government-funded English classes I'm teaching, the non-existent army, and the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad's monopoly on cell phones and other telecommunications. Most ticos apparently like it that way, as proved by Laura Chinchilla's win of 46.8% percent of the vote. Chinchilla is of the same party (PLN) as Arias and was his choice for his successor. Although Costa Rica is not exactly of the same calibur on the scale of world influence as the US, it was definitely exciting to be here when the first woman to become president of Costa Rica (and the third current female president in Latin America (the ninth in history), after Argentina's Cristina Fernández and Chile's Michelle Bachelet) was elected.

It was interesting to be on the road throughout the country yesterday (I had to go to San Jose to get a performance evaluation from my company- and I did well :), although it made for quite a noisy trip. It seemed as though every car between Liberia and San Jose was decorated with the colors of the political party of the owner's choice, with people honking their horns, whistling, yelling and waving flags out the windows. I wish I would have taken pictures, but I didn't feel like whipping out my camera on the streets of San Jose with drunken, politically-charged people shouting all over the place last night or this morning. Call me crazy...

Anyway, it's an exciting step for Costa Rica, Latin America and the world. Considering there have now been nine female presidents in relatively chauvinistic Latin American countries and we have never had one in the US, I think it's the US's turn next. Yes, we did just cross race borders, but still. Hey, anything can happen...

As a sidenote, I recently learned that Arias' wife divorced him while he was in office in 2000, and then joined the Partido Acción Ciudadana and was elected to office in the party opposing her ex-husband in 2002. I don't know what the cause of the divorce was, but I imagine some kind of infidelity was involved. If you ask me, that's pretty harsh news in the normal world (although part of me applauds her bravery), but in Tiquisia (slang for Costa Rica), it's just the norm. Jeez, people...
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San Jose
photo by: Isoinspira