Saint Joseph. The economist Rodrigo Chaves took office on Sunday as the 49th president of Costa Rica for the period 2022-2026, with the commitment to “rebuild” the economy and “stop” the harassment against women in his country.

“We bravely face the imminent obligation to repair the country. (…) We are not only going to tidy up the house. We are going to rebuild it!” Chaves said in his first speech after being sworn into Congress, in San José. , in front of 97 international delegations.

At 60 years old and with a 30-year career at the World Bank, Chaves reaches the presidential chair with the challenge of warding off the economic crisis that is affecting one of the most stable democracies in Latin America.

In Costa Rica, 23% of the 5.2 million inhabitants live in poverty (6.30% in extreme poverty) and 13.6% are unemployed, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC).

The economy, driven by tourism, was hit hard by Covid-19. Public debt is equivalent to 70% of GDP.

“If the political class fails once again, our country could fall apart,” said Chaves, admitting that “thousands of people see the end of the day without a job” and “hunger sits on the table.”

first decrees

Shortly after his speech, Chaves signed his first three decrees: to eliminate the use of a mask except for front-line health officials, to eradicate compulsory vaccination for Covid-19 in the public sector, and a declaration of national emergency due to cyberattacks against State organizations.

Weeks before taking power, he said he hoped to “improve” the conditions of a loan of 1,700 million dollars with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), vital, according to the outgoing government, to keep public finances afloat.

“This, it seems, will be a management focused on the economic part, the president’s strong point. 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,” he said. political analyst Gina Sibaja.

Best deal

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.

As he spoke, dozens of feminist activists demonstrated in a nearby area and promised a “vigilant look” at Chaves’ work.

The president also assured that the achievements of the LGBTIQ population, such as equal marriage, will be maintained, and promised greater inclusion of indigenous communities and better treatment of older adults.

In diplomatic matters, analysts believe that the new government can take surprising directions. Costa Rica currently ignores the government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and that of Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, but restoring the Costa Rican ambassador to Nicaragua and recognizing Maduro are under analysis.

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